March 1862

Confederate hopes for independence were fading following their worst month of the war to date. Conversely, optimism was rising in the North as Federal armies were threatening northern Virginia at Harpers Ferry; Richmond and Norfolk at Fort Monroe; Savannah and Charleston at Port Royal, South Carolina; New Orleans and Mobile on the Gulf Coast; in northwestern Arkansas; and on the Mississippi, Cumberland, and Tennessee Rivers.

Confederates Drive in New Mexico

1 Mar – Federal troops abandoned Albuquerque in the face of Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley’s advancing Confederate Army of New Mexico.

Battle Looms in Northwestern Arkansas

2 Mar – Major General Earl Van Dorn led a unified Confederate army northward to confront Brigadier General Samuel R. Curtis’s outnumbered Federals in northwestern Arkansas.

Grant Removed Then Reinstated

5 Mar – Major General Henry W. Halleck received authorization to remove Major General Ulysses S. Grant from command after Halleck alleged that Grant had neglected his duty.

Johnston Abandons Manassas Junction

5 Mar – General Joseph E. Johnston issued orders to withdraw his Confederate Army of the Potomac from its Manassas Junction-Centreville line southward to the Rappahannock River, almost halfway to the Confederate capital at Richmond.

Lincoln’s Compensated Emancipation Plan

6 Mar – President Abraham Lincoln submitted a message asking Congress to consider a plan of gradual, compensated slave emancipation.

The Battle of Pea Ridge: Day One

7 Mar – Major General Earl Van Dorn’s Confederates attacked Brigadier General Samuel R. Curtis’s Federals in northwestern Arkansas, as part of Van Dorn’s mission to reclaim Missouri.

The Battle of Pea Ridge: Day Two

8 Mar – Brigadier General Samuel R. Curtis regrouped his Federal Army of the Southwest and prepared to counterattack Major General Earl Van Dorn’s Confederates at Pea Ridge and Elkhorn Tavern.

Lincoln Issues Two General Orders

8 Mar – President Abraham Lincoln demonstrated his flagging confidence in General-in-Chief George B. McClellan by creating a corps command structure within the Army of the Potomac.

The C.S.S. Virginia Attacks

8 Mar – The Confederate ironclad Virginia demolished the Federal naval fleet off Hampton Roads, rendering all wooden warships obsolete and threatening to permanently break the Federal blockade.

The Battle of the Ironclads

9 Mar – A naval duel at Hampton Roads off the Virginia coast marked the first time in history that two ironclad warships did battle.

McClellan Invades Northern Virginia

10 Mar – General-in-Chief George B. McClellan’s Federals finally entered northern Virginia, but the Confederate retreat from that area jeopardized McClellan’s overall strategy.

The President’s Special War Order Number 3

11 Mar – President Abraham Lincoln issued an executive order removing George B. McClellan as general-in-chief of all Federal armies and creating new military departments that would report directly to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton.

From David Ash, 37th Illinois Volunteers

11 Mar – Letter from David Ash, Company B, 37th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, three days after the Battle of Pea Ridge.

The Fall of New Madrid

13 Mar – Confederate defenders abandoned a position on the Mississippi River under artillery bombardment from Major General John Pope’s Army of the Mississippi.

The Fall of New Bern

14 Mar – Federals occupying points on the North Carolina coast advanced to the mainland in hopes of capturing one of the state’s largest cities.

The Peninsula Campaign Finally Begins

17 Mar – Major General George B. McClellan finally mobilized the Army of the Potomac to begin his grand offensive to destroy the Confederacy.

“Stonewall” Jackson’s Valley Campaign Begins

22 Mar – Major General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson began a campaign intended to keep Federals busy so they could not move east and join the Federal drive on Richmond.

Birth of the C.S.S. Florida

22 Mar – The steamship Oreto left England, destined to become the menacing Confederate commerce raider C.S.S. Florida.

The Battle of Kernstown

23 Mar – Major General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s 3,500-man Confederate army attacked 9,000 Federals south of Winchester in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. This marked an inauspicious start to what became a legendary campaign.

Prelude to Battle in Tennessee

25 Mar – Federals advanced deep into western Tennessee this month as Confederates gathered in northern Mississippi to counterattack.

The Battle of Apache Canyon

26 Mar – Detachments of the Federal and Confederate armies in the New Mexico Territory clashed east of Santa Fe.

The Battle of Glorieta

28 Mar – The resumption of fighting around Apache Canyon marked a turning point in the New Mexico theater of the war.

Davis Calls for Confederate Conscription

28 Mar – President Jefferson Davis submitted a special message to the Confederate Congress urging members to approve conscription.

The Peninsula Campaign: Confederate Reaction

31 Mar – As the Federal Army of the Potomac headed for the Virginia Peninsula, Confederates scrambled to determine their landing point. Meanwhile, President Abraham Lincoln and Major General George B. McClellan disagreed on manpower.

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Last Updated: 4/9/2017

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