Chronological History of the American Civil War

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combination of good weather, good luck and ignorance of military custom cause somebody to sneak up on one. When patrols from one side ran into parties from the other, hostilities might be undertaken, but were regarded as of little account. Most such activities appeared to be going on in Tennessee, where encounters are recorded as happening in Cleveland, as well as Fayette, Mississippi. Tuesday, December 22, 1863 : Confederate winter quarters are now fully established at and about Russellville, Tennessee, by Lieut. General James Longstreet, (CSA) ending the Knoxville, Tennessee Campaign. Wednesday, December 23, 1863 : Federal cannons on Morris Island in Charleston, South Carolina’s harbor continue to batter Fort Sumter (CSA) again. After a skirmish at Mulberry Village, Tennessee, (Mulberry is located between Fayetteville and Lynchburg) a Confederate party captures a Union forage train and 6 Federals. They tie their hands behind their backs and shot them execution style. Maj.-General Thomas (U.S.) declares, “The men who committed these murders, if caught, will be summarily executed, and any persons executing them will be held guiltless and will receive the protection of this army; and all persons who are suspected of having aided, abetted, or harbored these guerrillas will be immediately arrested and tried by military commission.” Thursday, December 24, 1863 : Brig. General B. H. Grierson (U.S.) was the force in Bolivar in search of Confederate General Forrest. He wrote in his report: “Force sent north reached Bolivar last evening [23d]; sent back 5 prisoners this morning; destroyed two flats at Bolivar. Will patrol the Hatchie to-day as far as point south of Brownsville. Flag of truce from Brownsville came in this evening apparently to exchange prisoners; of course, we know the real object and will endeavor to profit by it. They are here to- night as they cannot get past our patrols.” John Houston Bills, Bolivar, Tennessee settler, planter, merchant wrote in his diary, “We have a rough time of it in the midst of an army of Robbers , they have broken all my locks, turned out my carriages & fed horses in my Carriage house, burned my plow timbers & paling, used my provider, stole our supper when cooking, robbed my Bee Palace, my potatoes & cabbages, all this & much more whilst we have given Hospitality to Capt. Achmed (U.S.) and Lt. Washburn (U.S.), who fail to protect us. They offer no pay or paper for forage. They get off a 9 a.m. taking WW McCarley for a guide.” Friday, December 25, 1863 : No time now to reflect on Christmas past or even future ones, as Union General Hurlbut orders all bridges across the Wolf River burned, in West Tennessee. He is trying to trap General Nathan Bedford Forrest (CSA). From LaGrange, Tennessee, Brig. General B. H. Grierson (U.S.) writes to General Hurlbut (U.S.) in Memphis: “The force which fought the enemy last night fell back on Somerville. I have ordered them to move east and southeast toward Van Buren. I have also sent 300 men and four pieces of artillery north to New Castle. I have 160 men now at Van Buren patrolling toward Middleburg and Bolivar; will keep patrols going all night. From all information, I think Forrest's whole force is crossing at Estenaula, and will attempt to cross the road between here and Pocahontas. I think it would be well to have all the telegraph operators up tonight. All quiet south.” In Bolivar, John Houston Bills writes in his diary: “We hear of skirmish between Col. Neely (CSA) & the 7 Ill. (U.S.) near Jno Millers, some 5 or 6 killed & several wounded.” (These 6 soldiers are now buried at Union Cemetery in Bolivar, in Unknown Graves.) Saturday, December 26, 1863 : Halfway around the world, the C.S.S. Alabama , captures and burns two large vessels, the Highlander , and the Sonora , near the Straits of Malacca, Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. In West Tennessee, fighting from New Castle to Somerville, as Union troops try to contain General Forrest’s movement southward from Jackson to Mississippi. Most of Forrest’s (CSA) men were new recruits and not well armed. Again, John Houston Bills of the Pillars in Bolivar, Tennessee writes: “Today we hear firing West by S.W. It is a fight going on between Neely’s Regt. and the Feds. We learn from a Negro, the fight or skirmish takes place near of Mrs. Ammons on the Somerville Road.” The strength of the Confederacy was put at 465,000 men, but only 278,000 were actually present at their colours. The discrepancy was accounted for by those men off through illness and the many thousands who had deserted. Those that remained at their colours were experienced soldiers. The North,

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