Tricounty News

Civil War digest: This week 150 years ago Jan. 21-27, 1863


Major Highlights for the Week
Wednesday, Jan. 21, 1863

The winter rains continued to be Major General Ambrose Burnside’s worst enemy along the Rappahannock River near Fredericksburg, Va. His Federal Army of the Potomac was bogged down in mud and slime, failing to make any appreciable progress.

In his diary, 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Sergeant Myron Shepard writes, “Rained all last night and nearly all day without cissation. Other troops are on the march but luckily for us, we remain in camp.”

At Sabine Pass, Texas, two Federal blockaders were seized by Confederate steamers, and a Federal forage train was taken near Murfreesboro, Tenn., while other Union troops carried out a reconnaissance from there.

President Abraham Lincoln formally ordered Major General Fitz John Porter to be cashiered and dismissed from the service of the nation and forever disqualified from holding any office of trust or profit in the government. This came after an investigation of the proceedings against Porter for his part in the Second Bull Run operation. In 1879, a review of the case resulted in the general’s favor, but his reappointment to the rank of colonel did not occur until 1886.

Thursday, Jan. 22, 1863

The Federal Army of the Potomac campaign to cross the Rappahannock River failed again due to weather. The Army was literally stuck in the mud. Ammunition trains and supply wagons were mired, horses and mules dropped dead and the whole army was dispirited, wet and hungry. It was no longer a question of how to move forward, but one of how to get back to camp.

First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Sergeant Myron Shepard writes, “Rained all last night and gradually most all day. Terrible muddy. Burnside’s movement must be a failure on account of the weather.

Major General Ulysses S. Grant assumed command of all Federal troops in Arkansas within reach of his orders and then renewed his attempt to cut a canal across “Swampy Toe” opposite Vicksburg, Miss., in an effort to move boats and men around the city.

Friday, Jan. 23, 1863

Another severe winter storm continued to buffet Virginia as Major General Ambrose Burnside’s army pulled back to Fredericksburg, the famed “mud march” now over. Stung by his defeat, Burnside requested that President Abraham Lincoln remove Major Generals Joseph Hooker,
W.F. Smith and William B. Franklin from command. He also requested that Hooker be dismissed from the service entirely. The proposed orders accompanied a request to meet with the president but were never carried out.


Saturday, Jan. 24, 1863

The Army of the Potomac settled back into its winter quarters at Stafford Heights across the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg while the arguing, bickering and quarreling among its commanders continued to increase. President Abraham Lincoln conferred with Major General Henry W. Halleck on the military situation while awaiting the arrival of Major General Ambrose Burnside, Army of the Potomac commander.

Sunday, Jan. 25, 1863

President Abraham Lincoln conferred with Major General Ambrose Burnside early in the day. Burnside pushed for the removal of corps commanders Hooker, Franklin and Smith and asserted that he would resign if it were not done. Later in the day, Lincoln announced that he had relieved Burnside and appointed Major General Joseph Hooker in place. He also relieved Major Generals Edwin V. Sumner and William B. Franklin from duty in the U.S. Army.

Monday, Jan. 26, 1863

Major General Joseph Hooker formally took command of the Federal Army of the Potomac at Fredericksburg, Va.

Skirmishing occurred at Township, Fla.; Mulberry Springs, Ark.; Grove Church near Morrisville, Va.; and near Fairfax Court House and Middleburg, Va.

The C.S.S. Alabama seized another vessel off the coast of San Domingo.

Tuesday, Jan. 27, 1863

Federal naval forces led by the U.S.S. Montauk attacked Fort McAllister, a huge earthwork on the Ogeechee River south of Savannah, Ga. After several hours bombardment, the squadron withdrew. 

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of Jan. 21-27, 1863

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – In camp near Falmouth, Va., until April 1863.

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On guard duty at Gallatin, Tenn., until Jan. 29, 1863.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On the march from Fort Snelling, Minn., to Cairo, Ill.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Duty at White’s Station and Memphis, Tenn., until Feb. 24, 1863.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Companies B and C had rejoined the regiment, which was on duty at Jackson, Tenn., until mid-March 1863. Company D was the only regiment remaining in Minnesota in detached service and rejoined the regiment in mid-February 1863.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty at Fort Snelling, Glencoe, Forest City and Kingston until February 1863.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty in Mankato and other points in Minnesota until June 1863.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On frontier duty at various points in Minnesota: Anoka, Princeton, Monticello, Kingston, Manannah, Paynesville, Fort Ripley, Sauk Center, Pomme de Terre, Alexandria and Fort Abercrombie until May 1864.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty in various frontier Minnesota communities until June 1863. 

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Regiment on detached service for garrison duty at various outposts in frontier Minnesota until June 1863.

1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” – Organized at St. Cloud, St. Peter and Fort Snelling for frontier duty against Indians until June 1863.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – On duty near Fort Heiman, Tenn.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – At Memphis, Tenn., until February 6, 1863.

2nd Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery – On duty at Murfreesboro Tenn., until June 4, 1863

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – In camp at Falmouth, Va., and dispatched on
 Jan. 20, in Burnside’s famous “Mud March.”