Chronological History of the American Civil War

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Friday, April 17, 1863 : On General Grant’s orders a Union cavalry force of 1,700 men led by Col. Benjamin Grierson (U.S.) (pictured) leaves La Grange, Tennessee as part of his Vicksburg Campaign. Over 17 days, his command will march 800 miles, repeatedly engage the Confederates, disable two railroads, capture many prisoners and horses, and destroy vast amounts of property, finally ending in Baton Rouge. Grierson's campaign will divert the attention of the Confederate defenders of Vicksburg, away from General Grant's main thrust. (The exploits of Grierson's drive from La Grange, Tennessee though Mississippi and the Battle Of Newton's Station were the basis of the 1959 movie The Horse Soldiers, directed by John Ford, starring John Wayne and William Holden.) . At the same time in Arkansas, Confederate Brig. General John S. Marmaduke (CSA) leds a Confederate cavalry group into attacks on Union posts in Missouri. Both forces will continue their operations, until May 2. Saturday, April 18, 1863 : Col. Benjamin H. Grierson and his Union raiders encountered some Confederate cavalry at Ripley, Mississippi. The Confederates were from the 1st Mississippi Cavalry (militia), commanded by Major General Samuel Gholson (CSA) were undergoing organized drills when the Federals hit them and they quickly scattered. Grierson took his raiders and headed towards Potomac, Mississippi. In Bolivar, Tennessee, Hardeman County plantation owner/planter, merchant, and settler, John Houston Bills (The Pillars) wrote in his diary: “New trouble today. An order is served on E.P. McNeal, Dr. Wood, W. Crane Gray, Mrs. Fentress & myself, revoking all “passes & trading permits,” said to be for an indiscretion of our daughters. To us, this is a great calamity & we hope for speedy relief.” Mr. Bills, does not tell us exactly, what lead to their “passes & trading permits” being revoked, but his daughter Evalina, in her memoirs tells us of several occasions; when she and her friends, made the controlling Union forces quite angry with them. She was a brave, outspoken Southern Belle. Sunday, April 19, 1863 : Congress passed the Nebraska Territory enabling act, the first step in statehood, is signed into law. President Abraham Lincoln travels with Major General Henry W. Halleck, (U.S.), and Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton to Aquia Creek on a military fact finding mission. He is back in the White House just after dark. Skirmish at Trenton, Tennessee and in Celina, Kentucky, Confederates are routed from their camp. The camp is destroyed and 100,000 lbs. of bacon is captured, as well as other provisions. The Federals capture the battery at Fort Huger on the James River in Virginia, and another one at Hill's Point, Virginia on the Nansemond River, near Suffolk. A report in the newspaper Savannah (Georgia) News, refers to the threat of general starvation, and urges people to grow their own food. In Bolivar, Tennessee, Hardeman County plantation owner/planter, merchant, and settler, John Houston Bills (The Pillars) today wrote in his diary after having his privileges revoked by Union occupiers: “The disabilities, we are placed under on Saturday are not removed, today. From it, we experience much inconvenience. My people preparing cotton land for themselves, at Cornucopia.” Monday, April 20, 1863 : Lincoln announced that West Virginia would join the Union on June 20, 1863. Louisiana was the site of several Federal activities today. In one, a Union Navy squadron moved in on and captured Butte-a-la-Rose, which was the site of a Confederate installation, Fort Burton. One crewman wrote in his diary that, “The fight was short, sharp and decisive. It was done after the style of Daddy Farragut.” Land forces, not to be left out, occupied the Louisiana towns of Washington and Opelousas. Brig. General John S. Marmaduke (CSA) invaded Missouri with 5,000 men and 10 pieces of artillery from Arkansas. His forces were organized into four brigades striking in 2 columns. One column, commanded by General Jo Shelby (CSA) entered the state to the west while the second, commanded by General Carter (CSA) entered to the east. The 2 columns met at Patterson, Missouri, today and took the town, but Union forces, alerted by artillery fire, escaped north in the direction of Pilot Knob. Union forces suffered 12 killed, 7 wounded and 41 captured or missing.

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