Fighting was generally subsiding after months of intense military activity, command changes, and preparations for future offensives. Despite successful campaigns in the spring and summer, the Confederates were gradually being pushed back into defensive positions.
1 Dec – The second session of the lame duck Thirty-seventh U.S. Congress assembled at Washington and received President Abraham Lincoln’s annual message.
2 Dec – Major General Ambrose E. Burnside proposed a plan to move his Federal Army of the Potomac across the Rappahannock River, while General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia continued strengthening its defenses west of Fredericksburg.
5 Dec – Federal Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s overland advance toward Vicksburg included a cavalry engagement in central Mississippi.
6 Dec – Brigadier General James G. Blunt’s Federals were isolated in northwestern Arkansas, and the race was on to see whether reinforcements or the Confederates could reach him first.
7 Dec – Major General Thomas C. Hindman’s Confederates attacked Brigadier General Francis J. Herron’s Federals about 12 miles southwest of Fayetteville, Arkansas, sparking a confusing but brutal 12-hour battle.
8 Dec – President Jefferson Davis planned to leave Richmond and inspect the Confederate military situation in Tennessee and Mississippi.
10 Dec – Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest received orders to wreak havoc on Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s Federal supply lines in western Tennessee.
12 Dec – The Federal Army of the Potomac crossed pontoon bridges and looted Fredericksburg, while the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia awaited the enemy’s advance from the heights west of town.
13 Dec – Major General Ambrose E. Burnside launched a doomed Federal assault on General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate defenses south and west of Fredericksburg.
14 Dec – Major General Ambrose E. Burnside planned to renew the Federal attacks following yesterday’s terrible defeat, but his subordinates strongly objected.
16 Dec – Republican senators gathered in an extraordinary caucus to determine how to better manage the war effort after the terrible defeat at Fredericksburg.
16 Dec – President Jefferson Davis continued his tour of the Western Theater, moving from Tennessee to his home state of Mississippi.
17 Dec – Major General Ulysses S. Grant issued a highly controversial order from his headquarters at Holly Springs, Mississippi.
18 Dec – Confederate forces prepared to defend against Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s advance on Vicksburg from both water and land.
19 Dec – President Abraham Lincoln met with the secret Senate Republican caucus committee and shrewdly arranged for the committee members and his cabinet to explain their differences face to face.
20 Dec – Major General Earl Van Dorn led a Confederate cavalry raid that temporarily stopped Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s Federal drive on Vicksburg.
21 Dec – Confederate Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan embarked on his third Kentucky raid after a successful operation and a marriage earlier this month.
22 Dec – President Abraham Lincoln sought to clarify responsibility for the defeat at Fredericksburg and console the Army of the Potomac.
24 Dec – General Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee remained stationed at Murfreesboro, while the Federal high command pushed Major General William S. Rosecrans to leave Nashville and confront them.
28 Dec – Confederate forces hurried to defend Chickasaw Bluffs as Federal troops under Major General William T. Sherman struggled to reach them.
29 Dec – Major General William T. Sherman launched a costly attack on fortified Confederate defenses northeast of Vicksburg.
30 Dec – Major General William S. Rosecrans’s Federal Army of the Cumberland advanced on the Confederate Army of Tennessee under General Braxton Bragg near Murfreesboro.
30 Dec – The first Federal ironclad spent its last evening above water before foundering off the coast of North Carolina.
31 Dec – A major battle began near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, when General Braxton Bragg’s Confederates attacked the Federal Army of the Cumberland under Major General William S. Rosecrans.
31 Dec – After raiding Federal supply lines in western Tennessee, Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest discovered Federals blocking the way back to his base at an intersection between Nashville and Memphis.
Last Updated: 1/1/2018
Tagged: Abraham Lincoln, Ambrose E. Burnside, Army of Northern Virginia, Army of Tennessee, Army of the Cumberland, Army of the Potomac, Braxton Bragg, Earl Van Dorn, Francis J. Herron, Fredericksburg Campaign, James G. Blunt, Jefferson Davis, John Hunt Morgan, Murfreesboro, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Robert E. Lee, Thomas C. Hindman, U.S.S. Monitor, Ulysses S. Grant, Vicksburg Campaign, William S. Rosecrans, William T. Sherman