Chronological History of the American Civil War

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The U.S.S. DeSoto rescues the crew of the U.S.S. Queen of the West from capture on the Mississippi River, near Vicksburg. Sunday, February 15, 1863 : Yesterday, U.S.S. Queen of the West had been run aground by a suspected Southern sympathizer river boat pilot. The crew had escaped downstream and was rescued by the U.S.S. DeSoto . Today, the ship is refloated by the Confederate Army and now renamed C.S.S. Queen of the West . Skirmishes in Tennessee at Nashville and Clarksville and near Cainsville and Nolensville. More fighting at Auburn,Tennessee, as the Federals attack a Rebel party attempting to burn a bridge; they are counterattacked by the Confederates. Major General William S. Rosecrans commander of the Army of the Cumberland, (U.S.) now based in Murfreesboro, issues orders on how African Americans can be employed – as teamsters and laborers in Quartermasters’ departments; as cooks, nurses, and hospital attendants; as company cooks and officers’ servants. The Nashville Daily Union reported today: “A singular incident of the war was related to us the other day. Three fathers came up the Cumberland River on the last fleet for the purpose of bringing back home with them the bodies of their sons, who had fallen in the memorable battle of Stones' River. They carried with them three metallic coffins, in which to place the remains of their gallant boys. The boat which they were on stopped on her way up, at Clarksville, for a short time, and the grief-stricken fathers stepped ashore. Greatly to their astonishment, almost the first persons whom they saw were their three sons, who were jolly and hearty, and overjoyed to see the "old folks" from home, having no more idea of getting into a burial case than they had of throwing a flip flap over the moon. The meeting was a most agreeable, and remarkable surprise to both parties.” Monday, February 16, 1863 : The Union consisted of 23 states and 22,000,000 people, the Confederacy had only 9,000,000 people (including 3,500,000 slaves). But even these numbers could not keep Union forces with enough fighting men. Today, the U.S. Senate passed the Conscription Act, (the draft) as volunteers for the Union army were not forthcoming. This first draft law for the North was to be signed by Lincoln quickly. The South had started drafting white men ages 18 to 35 a year earlier. More fighting at Yazoo Pass, Mississippi, as the Confederates contest the advance of Major General Ulysses S. Grant, (U.S.) on Vicksburg, Mississippi. Tuesday, February 17, 1863 : Today, the captain of the Federal tugboat U.S.S. Hercules was towing a chain of seven coal barges down the Mississippi River; its destination, Memphis, Tennessee, was firmly in Union hands. The same could not be said about the Arkansas shoreline on the opposite side of the river. The captain, alas, ignored this wise advice and came down the channel on the Arkansas side. Sure enough, while his navigation was sound enough, his judgment of the political tides was not. His vessel, was set upon by fierce Confederate and guerilla fire and was shortly captured. U.S.S. Hercules was soon seen to be burning, and the Confederates were making an effort to detach and save the coal barges. The Union gunboats, although not willing to venture into danger themselves, launched a barrage of long-range fire and drove the guerillas off. Union forces orders all of the townspeople out of Hopefield, Arkansas, in retaliation after the Confederates from that town attack the U.S.S. Hercules. The Union detachment then proceeded to burn the town to the ground. Wednesday, February, 18, 1863 : A small battle near Moscow, Tennessee, with the Confederate attack on a Union forage train. The Federals lose 42 mules, 2 horses and 18 men. The New York Times reports, “A report from Nashville says the “Cumberland River is cleared of the rebels between Clarksville and Nashville. The river is much swollen, and is rising. The cotton lands are overflown.” Thursday, February 19, 1863 : Union soldiers ransacked a newspaper office in Keokuk, Iowa for publishing anti-Union articles. General Braxton Briggs (CSA) leadership is questioned by his officers, but President Davis (CSA) is reluctant to relieve his old friend’s command.

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