Chronological History of the American Civil War
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Butler is trapped with the James and Appomattox Rivers to the north and south and General Beauregard (CSA) to the east. Butler loses a total of 25% of his men 4,160; casualties for both sides approximate 6,700. Union troops are also fighting Indians in several places today, the Cheyenne Indians in Kansas, the Apache Indians in the New Mexico and Arizona Territories, and at Spirit Lake, Minnesota, a Yankee is found dead with 2 bullets and one arrow. In Bolivar, Tennessee, John Houston Bills, settler, planter, and diarist at The Pillars writes: “We are rapidly reducing to want. Soon we fear many will suffer. The lines ordered Closed at Memphis this day and for all time to Come. No more supplies to be let out. Gen. Washburn’s order.” Tuesday, May 17, 1864 : General Joseph E. Johnston (CSA) is now on the move again after winning a few battles. He assembles his army at Adairsville, Georgia, where he discovers the Union forces on three sides and closing in. He split his force in half and under the cover of darkness, the weary soldiers travel all night and escape the Union trap. The rain finally stops and the weather clears at Spotsylvania Courthouse as Grant (U.S.) plans another attack on Mule Shoe positions, thinking Lee has moved most of his men to different positions to counter some of his own troop movements. Wednesday, May 18, 1864 : Grant attacks the Mule Shoe positions, also known as ‘Bloody Angle’. This time Ewell's Second Corps (CSA) had used the intervening time to improve the earthworks and the obstacles laid out in front of them. Grant guesses wrong again and with increasing casualties, Grant calls off the attack. In Georgia, still moving toward Atlanta, fighting continues at Cassville, Georgia, as Major General William T. Sherman (U.S.) pursues the retreating General Joseph E. Johnston (CSA). Thursday, May 19, 1864 : The Confederates attack Grant as he is preparing to pull out of Spotsylvania. Grant is now convinced, he could never dislodge the Confederates from their positions. He elects to try to find another way around Lee’s army to the South. American writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne best known for The Scarlet Letter (1850) and The House of the Seven Gables (1851) dies peacefully in his sleep after a short illness at age 59 in Plymouth, New Hampshire. Friday, May 20, 1864 : General Robert E. Lee (CSA) moves his troops to front the Army of the Potomac as Lieut. General Ulysses S. Grant (U.S.) orders Major General George G. Meade (U.S.) to cross the Mattaponi River, sliding to the south along Lee’s lines towards Richmond, Virginia. Sherman continues his advance to Atlanta. Lt. Col. Joseph Bailey (U.S.) the young naval officer that, built a dam across the shallow rapids of the Red River in Louisiana and floated the Union ships to safety, is now saving the Union Army, too. General Nathaniel Banks’ army (U.S.) is on the wrong side of the river, so Lt. Bailey’s idea is rigging a bridge out of a large number of steamships anchored and lashed side- by-side and let the men across ship to ship, until they get to side of the river they should be on. Once the armies passed over this walkway to their side of the river, they were officially supposed to be on, the ill-fated Red River Expedition is finally over. Saturday, May 21, 1864 : Lee did not fall into Grant’s trap of attacking The Army of the Potomac (U.S.) as it moves South, but traveled on a parallel path to the North Anna River. The Union leaves behind 18,000 casualties at Spotsylvania to the Confederates’ 12,000. In less than three weeks Grant had lost 36,000 men, and another 20,000 went home, when their enlistments ended, with some of the worst fighting yet to come. The North could replace these losses, but the South could not. The numbers just were not there.
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