This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, Jan. 5: Recruitment drives, deserter's court-martial.
In January 1864, authorities on both sides were seeking to recruit new fighters as the conflict dragged on inexorably. The Springfield Republican in Massachusetts reported on Jan. 1, 1864, of much going on despite a lull in the fighting. Quoting dispatches from The Associated Press in part, the paper said Union Gen. William Sherman's forces had returned from Knoxville, Tenn., to a base in Chattanooga, tired, dirtied and clothes shredded after recent fighting. "While Gen. Sherman's men were returning ... they encountered a furious storm, and when they reached Chattanooga many of them were barefooted, and not a few of them wore pantaloons, the legs of which had been torn into shreds to the knees." A dispatch from Philadelphia reported the court-martial of a Union private found guilty of desertion. He was sentenced to be shot and, the report said, the sentence would be carried out in February 1864.
This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, Jan. 12: Northern war strategy.
In wintertime 150 years ago in the Civil War, speculation arose in the North about the road ahead to the long conflict. The New York Times, in a dispatch Jan. 13, 1864, noted that the North would need to "bisect" the Confederacy if the Union were to prevail. "But there is much to do — indeed, there is much being done — which is all-important and highly essential to future operations." The paper noted that the spring warm-up comes first to the South and a key to the Union war strategy would be laying down new supply and communications lines by rail and other means to eastern Tennessee. The paper noted that the Union's recent victories in eastern Tennessee would make that one base for launching further strikes into the Deep South. And the paper exhorted Lincoln's government to supply Grant with sufficient troops for the fight ahead. "Let the Government not fail to see to it that Gen. Grant has an army in numbers sufficient for his work ... the last fatal blow to the rebellion is to be struck by Gen. Grant."
This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, Jan. 19: Fighting in Tennessee.
Union forces intent on better securing eastern Tennessee for the federal government march in mid-January 1864 on Dandridge, Tenn., not far from a vital rail supply line linking eastern Tennessee and Virginia. The Union advance forced Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet to fall back. But on Jan. 17, 1864, fighting erupted between the opposing forces. Confederates backed by artillery and Cavalry forced the Union fighters under Brig. Gen. Samuel D. Sturgis into retreat by nightfall. But for lack of more shoes, supplies and ammunition the Confederates were unable to destroy the federal forces outright.
This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, Jan. 26: More fighting in Tennessee.
The Union forces pushed back from Dandridge, Tenn., were still in the area 150 years ago this week in the Civil War. For the time being, they disrupted Confederate attempts to capture Union supply wagons and restock their troops in need of shoes, further weapons and additional ammunition. On Jan. 27, 1864, a Confederate force smashed into a Union cavalry brigade. Hard fighting erupted and Union forces took advantage of dense fog to drive back sharply. Union troops swiftly routed Confederates in the area of Fair Garden Road and pursued many of the rebels, capturing and killing several. Union troops attacked another Confederate unit before withdrawing, weary from combat and running short of ammunition.
This series marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War draws primarily from wartime dispatches credited to The Associated Press or other accounts distributed through the AP and other historical sources.