Chronological History of the American Civil War
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Monday, August 31, 1863 : The Federal Army of the Cumberland, commanded by General William Starke Rosecrans (U.S.) (pictured) actions for the last several months had been overshadowed by more dramatic actions at Gettysburg in the East and Vicksburg further west. He had cleared most of middle Tennessee of Confederates, now he was currently in the area of Shellmouth, in eastern Alabama. Facing him was the Army of Tennessee, with General Braxton Bragg (CSA) commanding. Bragg’s force in east Tennessee was roughly centered around a small river town (pop. 2,546, including 451 Negroes) formerly known as Ross’s Landing. The
townspeople had changed the name and incorporated as the city of Chattanooga. Rosecrans sent the first soldiers on an expedition in their direction, today. The month of August 1863, would later prove to have the least amount of battle casualties, until the war would end. Quantrill's Raiders in Lawrence, Kansas took 182 lives, but another 4,104 men would die from their wounds, disease, accidents, exposure and /or starvation.
Tuesday, September 1, 1863 : Six more Union gun ships sailed into Charleston harbor to assist with the attack on the city. The Confederates had abandoned Fort Smith, Arkansas, but their retreat was slowed at Backbone Mountain. After day long battle the Federals were in control. By capturing Fort Smith and defeating Confederate Brigadier General William L. Cabell’s brigade at The Battle of Devil’s Backbone, the Federal forces gained a foothold in the Arkansas River Valley. From this base, Federal units would battle, Confederate partisans and Fort Smith would remain in Union control as a doorway to the West. Wednesday, September 2, 1863 : The population in Knoxville mostly welcomed Union General, A. E. Burnside’s men as they occupied Knoxville, Tennessee, today. There wasn’t even a battle first, as the city had been essentially conceded to the opposition, and Burnside’s men just walked in. Knoxville had controlled a major Confederate railway between Chattanooga and Virginia. Thursday, September 3, 1863 : Vicksburg had fallen to siege on July 4. Part of the terms of surrender negotiated by General John C. Pemberton (CSA) was that his men, all 27,000 of them, would be paroled en mass and given a 30-day furlough, which was the time during which, they would not be permitted to take up arms against the enemy. The men were to go to their homes, take care of necessary business and visit their families, then return to Pemberton’s command. The problem was with Part 3... the thirty days were up, and an awful lot of his men were forgetting the part about returning to the army. Since they had not gone through the usual process of exchange, they could not legally be used for fighting anyway, but these niceties were beginning to go by the wayside. In North Dakota, Brig. General, Alfred Sully (U.S.) decided to find the Sioux Indians and punish them for recrossing the James River. This decision over the next couple of days would cost 72 Union soldiers their lives and 750 Indians theirs. This engagement weakened, but did not destroy the Native American resistance in the area. Friday, September 4, 1863 : General Grant (U.S.) was injured falling from his horse. Observers claimed that, it was because he was drunk – possibly with some justification. Allegations of drunkenness, were to follow Grant for many years. General Ambrose Burnside’s Union men, were now on the road from Knoxville, while General William Rosecrans’ Union Army of the Cumberland crossed the Tennessee River today at Bridgeport, Alabama and in Shellmound, Tennessee all headed to Chattanooga. Saturday, September 5, 1863 : An Union infantry assault on Battery Wagner in Charleston’s harbor started after the “sub-surface torpedo mines” (land mines) had been cleared. The British government seized two ironclads being built for the South in Liverpool, after a strong threat of war with Great Britain from Washington, D.C. A major foreign crisis was averted, and any glimmer of Confederate hope for British recognition vanished.
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