This Week in the Civil War

January 10, 2014 - 9:04 AM

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. Said the paper: "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."

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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.

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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.

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This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, Feb. 2: New Union campaign ramps up in Mississippi.

Union Maj. Gen William Sherman began moving thousands of federal troops toward Meridian, Miss., this week 150 years ago in the Civil War, aiming to occupy and destroy the vital railroad junction there — a supply route for the Confederacy. The advance on the region from Union-controlled Vicksburg was part of ongoing federal war efforts to split the Confederacy. On Feb. 3, 1864, Sherman began sending his troops toward Meridian, a move that prompted Confederate President Jefferson Davis to scramble his forces from neighboring areas. Some early skirmishes erupted, but the main fighting would not come until mid-February 1864.