Tricounty News

Civil War digest: This week 150 years ago Nov. 18-24, 1863

Major Highlights for the Week

Wednesday, Nov. 18, 1863

A special train of four cars left Washington for Gettysburg, Pa. Although depressed because his son, Tad, was ill and Mrs. Lincoln was very upset, the president related a few stories en route. Upon arrival in Gettysburg, Lincoln spoke briefly to a crowd outside the Wills House on Gettysburg Square before retiring for the night.

Military operations included skirmishes near Germanna Ford, Va.; Trenton, Ga.; Carrion Crow Bayou, La.; and at Shoal and Turkey creeks in Jasper County, Mo.


Thursday, Nov. 19, 1863


On the back of a gray mare, the president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, rode in a procession to the Soldier’s National Cemetery, newly established for those who fell in the Battle of Gettysburg. After a detailed, two-hour address by keynote orator Edward Everett, Lincoln delivered a short 272-word speech that commented on the task at hand – officially dedicating the cemetery. Some of the 15,000-strong audience appeared moved, others were just respectful. Some newspapers commented favorably while others gave it normal or passing coverage. The president returned to Washington later that night.

While Mr. Lincoln spoke, fighting continued. The guns echoed at Dr. Green’s Farm near Lawerenceville, Ark.; Grove Church, Va.; Meriwether’s Ferry, Mulberry Gap and Colwell’s Ford, Tenn.

In Charleston Harbor, S.C., one man was wounded as 694 shells were fired. Two hundred Federals in small boats attempted to assault Fort Sumter, but withdrew after being discovered.

Friday, Nov. 20, 1863

Firing intensified in Charleston Harbor, S.C., as the Federals unleashed 1,344 artillery rounds on Fort Sumter. Three men died and 11 wounded. Light skirmishing occurred at Camp Pratt, La.; and at Sparta, Tenn.

Saturday, Nov. 21, 1863

At Chattanooga, Tenn., Federal Major General Ulysses Grant prepared his troops for action. Major General William T. Sherman was moving up to cross the Tennessee River at Brown’s Ferry where he was to march on the right flank of the Confederates before re-crossing the Tennessee and striking them at the north end of Missionary Ridge. Major General George Thomas was also to attack Missionary Ridge in the center. Major General Joseph Hooker was to move from Lookout Valley to Chattanooga Valley and hit the Confederate left. Rain delayed the movement, however.

Other action occurred at Jacksonport, Ark., and Liberty, Va.

Back in Washington, President Abraham Lincoln was ill with varioloid, a mild form of smallpox, which hastened his abrupt return from Gettysburg, Pa., the previous evening.

Sunday, Nov. 22, 1863

On Missionary Ridge, the unsuspecting Confederates under General Braxton Bragg detached Major General Simon Bolivar Buckner’s command, sending him to reinforce Lieutenant General James Longstreet, who was besieging Knoxville, Tenn. Federal Major General Ulysses Grant changed his plans again and ordered Major General George Thomas to demonstrate the next day on his front facing Missionary Ridge. The battle for Chattanooga was about to begin.

Monday November 23, 1863


Major General George H. Thomas’s Army of the Cumberland moved forward with two divisions from Fort Wood, and headed towards Orchard Knob, a Confederate-held eminence about a mile in front of the main enemy position on Missionary Ridge in Chattanooga, Tenn. It marked the first attempt by Federal Major General Ulysses Grant to break the siege of Chattanooga completely and hit Confederate General Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee. The divisions of Major General Philip H. Sheridan and Brigadier General T.J. Wood drove out the Confederates and captured Orchard Knob with few casualties. Grant now lined up his units for the primary thrust.

At Knoxville, Tenn., both Federal and Confederate troops tried limited assaults on the siege and besieged lines. The Federals were only partially successful against an enemy parallel and the Confederates drove in Union pickets.

In Washington, an ailing President Abraham Lincoln wondered whether or not Major General Ambrose Burnside could hold Knoxville.

Tuesday November 24, 1863


Three Federal divisions under Major General Joseph Hooker crossed Lookout Creek in the morning and began the difficult climb up Lookout Mountain, hoping to drive the sparse Confederate defenders from the heights. The Confederates offered heavy resistance at Cravens’s Farm, a bench of fairly level land on the mountainside. Heavy fog enshrouded the crest from the view of the Federals in Chattanooga. By the end of the day, the Federals held Lookout Mountain and the Confederates had withdrawn to Missionary Ridge. Although there was no fighting on the mountaintop, the engagement became known as the “Battle Above the Clouds” because of the severe fog. Losses were small and the fighting was relatively light, but the drive cleared the way for the primary effort against Missionary Ridge.

At the foot of Missionary Ridge near the Tennessee River, Major General William T. Sherman seized what he thought was the north end of the ridge, only to find that a wide ravine separated him from the main part of Missionary Ridge and Tunnel hill, the site of an important railroad tunnel. The attack revealed to the Confederates on direction of the Federal drive on the ridge.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of Nov. 18-24, 1863

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Advanced to the Rappahannock Line and was on duty at Kelly’s Ford, Va., until Nov. 26, 1863.

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in the Siege of Chattanooga, Tenn., until Nov. 23, 1863, where it was moved to the base of Missionary Ridge awaiting attack.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in the capture of Little Rock, Ark., where they remained for garrison duty until April 28, 1864.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in operations against the Memphis and Charleston Railroad in Alabama until
Nov. 23, 1863.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – En route from Canton, Miss., to Memphis, Tenn., for duty.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty in Minnesota until June 9, 1864.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry –On duty in St. Louis, Mo., until April 20, 1864.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty in Minnesota until May 24, 1864.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Moved to Jefferson City, Mo., for duty guarding railroad from Kansas Line to near
St. Louis. Stationed at Rolla, Jefferson City, LaMine Bridge, Warrensburg, Independence, Knob Noster, Kansas City, Waynesville and Franklin with headquarters in Jefferson City until April 14, 1864, and at Rolla from April 14–May 1864.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty and provost duty at Jefferson Barracks, Mo., until April 21, 1864.

1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” – On duty at Fort Ripley and Fort Snelling until Dec. 7, 1863.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – On duty along the Tennessee River from Huntsville to Bellefonte, Ala., until
Jan. 7, 1863.

Hatch’s Independent Battalion of Cavalry – Companies A, B, C and D on duty at Pembina until May 5, 1864.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – On duty at Vicksburg, Mississippi, until April 4, 1864.

2nd Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery – On duty in the Siege of Chattanooga, Tenn., awaiting further orders.

3rd Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery – Four sections on duty at Pembina, Fort Ripley, Fort Ridgely and Fort Snelling until June 5, 1864.

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Advanced to the Rappahannock Line and Kelly’s Ford, before retiring to Brandy Station, Va., for duty until Nov. 26, 1863.