The Great Depression was a time of unemployment and hardship. In Stearns County, the responsibility and duty for caring for victims of the Depression was accepted by the community. A coordinated effort by community groups, service clubs, and the city government led the way. The Chamber of Commerce coordinated work projects within the community. The mayor proposed a “Make Work Program,” which provided employment, not charity, for 400 men with families to support.
Major Highlights for the Week Wednesday July 8, 1863
News of the surrender of Vicksburg slowly spread south to Port Hudson, La., and the last Confederate garrison on the Mississippi River. Brigadier General Franklin Gardner asked Federal Major General Nathaniel P. Banks for terms, and surrendered unconditionally. After six weeks, it was doubtful if Gardner could have held out much longer. About 7,000 prisoners were taken by Banks 33,000 soldiers, although the figures may be contradictory. However, the result of the action was that Union vessels could move the entire length of the Mississippi River, molested only by the occasional guerrilla attack.
In the final stages of the Gettysburg Campaign, fighting broke out in Boonsborough and Williamsport, Md.
Thursday July 9, 1863
At Port Hudson, La., on the eastern short of the Mississippi River, Confederate Brigadier General Franklin Gardner formally surrendered to Federal Major General Nathaniel P. Banks.
The retreat from Gettysburg continued with a skirmish at Beaver Creek, Md.
At Charleston, the mayor warned the people of South Carolina that the Federals were preparing to attack Morris Island.
Friday July 10, 1863
Federal troops landed on the south end of Morris Island, near Charleston, S.C. Their objective was Fort Wagner, one of the main defenses of Charleston Harbor. It marked the first action in a siege that was to last until September. The Federals prepared for an assault on Wagner, hoping that a decisive victory there could be combined with naval operations that would secure Charleston itself.
As General Robert E. Lee gathered his retreating forces at the Potomac River near Williamsport, Md., action increased as Federal Major General George G. Meade’s forces followed more energetically. Skirmishing occurred near Hagerstown, Jones’s Crossroads, Funkstown, Old Antietam Forge and Clear Spring, Md. Heavier action occurred at Falling Waters, Md.
Distressed over Gettysburg, Middle Tennessee, Vicksburg, Port Hudson, Jackson, and now Charleston, Confederate President Jefferson Davis wrote to South Carolina Governor M.L. Bonham requesting local defense troops be immediately dispatched to Charleston.
Saturday July 11, 1863
Federal troops of Brigadier General Quincy A. Gillmore made a futile assault on Fort Wagner on Morris Island in Charleston Harbor. Federals gained the parapet of the strong fortification but were forced to withdraw under heavy fire.
President Abraham Lincoln appeared to be more satisfied with the operations of Major General George G. Meade’s Army of the Potomac against the withdrawing Confederates. He still hoped that his general would attack.
Sunday July 12, 1863
Just north of the Potomac in the Williamsport, Md., area, the last act of the Gettysburg Campaign was about to commence as Major General George G. Meade’s Army of the Potomac was preparing to attack General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, which was defending its position with its back towards the river, similar to Antietam battle the previous year. President Abraham Lincoln learned of Meade’s attack plans, but feared that it was too late to cripple or destroy the Confederate army. Lee believed that if the river would subside, he would be able to cross the next day.
Monday July 13, 1863
In Maryland, General Robert E.
Lee pulled out of his defensive positions north of the Potomac River, and during the night, crossed the river to safety in Virginia. The Army of Northern Virginia was resting on a bend in the river and covered Williamsport and Falling Waters. Now with pontoon trains and a fordable river, Lee made his escape ten days after the conclusion of the Battle of Gettysburg. Federal Major General George G. Meade’s Army of the Potomac had moved up cautiously and now was in front of Lee, reconnoitering for an opening and planning an attack for the next day.
After the drawing of lots began, two days after the first names of the new Federal draft had been drawn in New York City, a mob consisting of a large number of foreign laborers gathered, stormed the draft headquarters, raided residences and looted businesses. A full-scale riot ensued. Fires broke out in parts of the city and a Negro church and orphanage were burned. Hundreds were killed and wounded while property losses were estimated around $1.5 million.
Tuesday July 14, 1863
The mob continued its destruction as the New York City draft riots continued for a second day.
Minor skirmishing occurred at Falling Waters and Harper’s Ferry, W.V.; Williamsport, Md.; Elk River Bridge, Tenn.; Iuka, Miss.; and Camp Dennison near Cincinnati, Ohio.
Major General W.H.C. Whiting was named commander of the Confederate Department of North Carolina.
Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of July 8-14, 1863
1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – In pursuit of General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia to Manassas Gap, Va., until July 24, 1863.
2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Winchester, Tenn., until Aug. 16, 1863.
3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Oak Ridge, Miss., near Vicksburg until July 24, 1863.
4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty at Vicksburg, Miss., until Sept. 12, 1863.
5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On guard duty at Black River Bridge, Miss., until July 22, 1863.
6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley’s expedition in Dakota Territory until Sept. 12, 1863.
7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley’s expedition in Dakota Territory until Sept. 12, 1863.
8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Marched to Fort Ridgely for duty until June 5, 1864.
9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley’s expedition in Dakota Territory until Sept. 12, 1863.
10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley’s expedition in Dakota Territory until Sept. 12, 1863.
1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” – Participated in Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley’s expedition in Dakota Territory until Sept. 12, 1863.
Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – Participated in the Occupation of Middle Tenn., until Sept. 6, 1863.
1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – On duty at Vicksburg, Miss., until April 4, 1864.
2nd Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery – Participated in the Occupation of Middle Tennessee until Aug. 16, 1863.
3rd Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery - Participated in Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley’s expedition in Dakota Territory until Sept. 12, 1863.
2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – In pursuit of General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia to Manassas Gap, Va., until July 24, 1863
Major Highlights for the Week
Wednesday, June 24, 1863
Confederate Lieutenant Generals James Longstreet’s and Ambrose Powell Hills corps of the Army of Northern Virginia began crossing the Potomac River in order to join Lieutenant General Richard Ewell’s forces in Maryland, and then invade Pennsylvania. A skirmish broke out at Sharpsburg, Md.
Major General William Rosecrans, moving forward in Middle Tennessee, fought General Braxton Bragg’s Confederates at Middleton, near Bradyville, Big Springs Ranch and Christiana.
The Stearns History Museum is pleased to welcome Dr. Erika Vora, a local author and professor from St. Cloud State University, to speak at Breakfast Club at 9 a.m. Wednesday, July 10. Enjoy some light refreshments while listening to Dr. Vora discuss her book “Silent No More: Personal Narratives of German Women who Survived WWII Expulsion and Deportation”.
Dr. Vora’s book is a collection of personal narratives of 33 women who were deported from their homes in Romania, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and eastern Germany while Nazi Germany was at the height of its power. In the midst of World War II, 15 million German people were expelled from their homes in Eastern-Central Europe. Dr. Vora shares these stories about the largest forced mass migration of the twentieth century from a moving and personal standpoint. Please join us for what is sure to be an eye-opening discussion. Members are free, non-members are $5 for admission.
The American Alliance of Museums accredits the Stearns History Museum and Research Center. It is located at 235 33rd Avenue South in St. Cloud.
Major Highlights for the Week
Wednesday July 1, 1863
Battle of Gettysburg- Day 1
At daybreak, Confederates of Lieutenant General Ambrose Powell Hill’s corps moved forward along the Chambersburg Pike searching for Union forces near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. About four miles west of the town, Confederates collided with Brigadier General John Buford’s Federal cavalry pickets. By 8 a.m., two Confederate brigades deployed across the Chambersburg Pike, at first opposed by Buford’s dismounted cavalry, and then by Major General John F. Reynold’s First Corps troops, who engaged them along Willoughby Run, McPherson’s Ridge, Herr Ridge and at an Unfinished Railroad Cut. At the Railroad Cut, a demi-brigade led by Colonel Edward Fowler of the 14th Brooklyn N.Y.S.M., led his regiment and the 95th New York to rescue other regiments from the brigade and an artillery battery that was cut off from the main force. They received assistance from the 6th Wisconsin Infantry who received the surrenders of approximately 300 Confederates.
Reynolds was shot and killed by an accidental discharge while on McPherson’s Ridge.
By the afternoon, two divisions of Major General Oliver O. Howard’s Eleventh Corps moved through town and attempted to repulse Confederates on Oak Ridge, to the north and west of the town. Howard’s troops were unable to hold the position and were swept through town to Cemetery Hill and Cemetery Ridge. Because of this, the First Corps was forced to retreat so they would not be outflanked.
Federal reinforcements arrived overnight allowing the Federal line to stretch from Spangler’s Spring and Culp’s Hill to the north, along Cemetery Ridge to Little Round Top on the south. The Confederate line stretched from the town south along Seminary Ridge to face the Union army.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee set up his headquarters for the Army of Northern Virginia in the morning, while Federal Major General George G. Meade arrived from Taneytown to set up the Army of the Potomac’s headquarters shortly after midnight.
Thursday July 2, 1863
Battle of Gettysburg - Day 2
It was a long day of struggle, death, and then years of controversy. Confederate General Robert E. Lee ordered Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s corps to attack the Federal left while Lieutenant General Richard Ewell’s corps was to drive on the Cemetery and Culp’s Hills, but there were delays. Longstreet opposed the plan and the Confederate troops were reshuffled.
For the Federals, Major General Daniel E. Sickles, commanding the Third Corps, believed that the Confederate line threatened his flank, so he moved forward without permission to the Peach Orchard, Devil’s Den and along the Emmitsburg Road, forming an exposed salient. Major General Governor K. Warren, the chief engineer for the Army of the Potomac, found the rocky crest of Little Round Top unoccupied by Federals and gathered brigades to defend it. After a bitter, heavy fight that involved a bayonet charge by the 20th Maine Infantry Regiment, the Federals were able to secure the heights.
Late that afternoon, Longstreet’s entire line went into action against Sickles’s exposed corps at the Wheatfield and Peach Orchard. Second Corps commander, Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, ordered Colonel William Colvill to send his 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment into a charge against Confederates led by Brigadier General Cadmus Wilcox. The charge was successful, though at great cost to the regiment, and succeeded in buying valuable time for the Federal’s to shore up their lines.
During the late evening hours, a Confederate attack by major General Edward Johnson’s division gained and held some of the lower works on Culp’s Hill, but were unable to gain the Hill due to the strength of the Federal Twelfth Corps with assistance from some First Corps regiments, including the 14th Brooklyn N.Y.S.M.
Friday July 3, 1863
Battle of Gettysburg - Day 3
In a little white cottage on Cemetery Ridge, Major General George G. Meade met with his corps commanders shortly after midnight to discuss the future of the army. It was decided to stay at Gettysburg and await the Confederate attack. Meade ordered more fortifications built on Cemetery Ridge and brought troops there from Culp’s Hill and elsewhere. Guns were moved up. There was a dawn artillery duel at Spangler’s Spring heavily and often, and eventually the Southerners retreated.
About 1 p.m., a thunderous artillery duel opened. Confederates began, answered by 80 Federal guns. For two hours the shelling continued. Believing the Union line to be weakening, the Confederates prepared to attack. Approximately 15,000 Confederates moved through the artillery and musketry fire across 1 mile of open fields and the Emmitsburg Road. When they reached the reinforced Federal lines near a Copse of Trees, units were broken and battle flags fell with the men. The Confederates retreated across the trampled fields to a sorrowing commander. The Battle of Gettysburg was now over.
The casualty figures were astounding. During the 3-day battle, the Federals engaged approximately 85,000 men and sustained 3,155 killed; 14,529 wounded and 5,365 missing for a combined loss of 23,049. The Confederate strength was around 65,000 with 2,592 killed; 12,709 wounded and 5,150 missing for a total of 20,451.
Saturday July 4, 1863
Vicksburg surrenders; Lee retreats
On this Independence Day, Vicksburg, Mississippi was formally surrendered to Federal Major General Ulysses Grant, ending nearly two full months of a siege. About 29,000 Southern soldiers laid down their arms and marched out of the sorely tried city. A quiet Union army observed their departure Grant himself entered Vicksburg and watched the Stars and Stripes replace the Confederate flag on the courthouse. Naval vessels on the Mississippi River shrilled their whistles in celebration.
From Seminary Ridge in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, a long wagon train of wounded and supplies began to head towards the Potomac River and back to Virginia in late afternoon. This was followed by Confederate infantry and artillery, pelted by the heavy rains that hit the area after the great battle. Federal Major General George G. Meade took this occasion to rest his weary Army of the Potomac, despite urging from Washington that he should lead his army in pursuit of the retreating Confederates.
Sunday July 5, 1863
The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia moved towards Hagerstown, Maryland in retreat from the Gettysburg Campaign, while Lee’s wagon trains went by way of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Federal Major General George G. Meade’s force again did not follow, although there was skirmishing by cavalry at Smithsburg, Maryland; Green Oak, Mercersburg, Fairfield, Greencastle, Cunningham’s Crossroads and the Caledonia Iron Works, Pennsylvania.
In Mississippi, following the surrender of Vicksburg, there were engagements at Birdsong Ferry and Bolton as Federal troops under Major General William T. Sherman once more turned toward the capital at Jackson and Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s army.
Monday July 6, 1863
Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s army continued to withdraw following the Gettysburg Campaign. Light fighting occurred at Boonsborough, Hagerstown and Williamsport, Maryland. There was still no major Federal pursuit in sight.
In Mississippi, Major General William T. Sherman, with a sizeable portion of Major General Ulysses Grant’s army, continued on towards Jackson to seek out General Joseph E. Johnston’s elusive Confederates. Fighting at Jones’s and Messinger’s ferries marked the day’s campaigning.
At Huntington, Indiana, the Knights of the Golden Circle, a Copperhead group, forced their way into the depot and seized guns and ammunition.
Tuesday July 7, 1863
Confederate General Braxton Bragg’s Army of the Tennessee was now encamped around Chattanooga, Tennessee, after losing most of the state of Federal Major General William S. Rosecrans’s Army of the Cumberland.
Federal forces reoccupied Maryland Heights on the north bank of the Potomac River at Harper’s Ferry. Skirmishing broke out at Downsville and Funkstown, Maryland, as well as at Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. It was all part of the aftermath of the Gettysburg Campaign.
In Mississippi, skirmishing increased with fighting at Queen’s Hill and near Baker’s Creek, as well as farther north of the Vicksburg area at Ripley and Iuka.
Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of July 1-7, 1863
1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in the Battle of Gettysburg.
2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in Rosecrans Tullahoma Campaign in Middle Tennessee until July 7, 1863.
3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in Siege of Vicksburg until July 4, 1863.
4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in Siege of Vicksburg until July 4, 1863.
5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in the Siege of Vicksburg until July 4, 1863.
6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley’s expedition in Dakota Territory until September 12, 1863.
7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley’s expedition in Dakota Territory until September 12, 1863.
8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Marched to Fort Ridgely for duty until June 5, 1864.
9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley’s expedition in Dakota Territory until September 12, 1863.
10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley’s expedition in Dakota Territory until September 12, 1863.
1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” – Participated in Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley’s expedition in Dakota Territory until September 12, 1863.
Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – Participated in Rosecrans Tullahoma Campaign in Middle Tennessee until July 7, 1863.
1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – On duty during siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, until July 4, 1863.
2nd Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery – Participated in Rosecrans Tullahoma Campaign in Middle Tennessee until July 7, 1863.
3rd Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery - Participated in Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley’s expedition in Dakota Territory until September 12, 1863.
2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Participated in the Battle of Gettysburg.