November 1864


Federal General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant wired Major General William T. Sherman, commanding Federals in Georgia, about General John Bell Hood’s Confederate Army of Tennessee and Sherman’s proposed march through Georgia. Grant asked, “Do you not think it advisable, now that Hood has gone so far north, to entirely ruin him before starting on your proposed campaign?” Grant stated, “If you can see a chance of destroying Hood’s army, attend to that first and make your other move secondary.”


U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward warned the New York City mayor of rumors from Canada that Confederate agents plotted to burn the city on Election Day.

William T. Sherman responded to Ulysses S. Grant’s message yesterday: “If I could hope to overhaul Hood, I would turn against him with my whole force. No single army can catch Hood. General (George H.) Thomas (at Nashville) will have a force strong enough to prevent his reaching any country in which we have an interest.” Sherman concluded “that the best results will follow my contemplated movement through Georgia.” Grant replied, “Go on as you propose.”


The Battle of Johnsonville occurred in Tennessee, as Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest used captured Federal gunboats to disrupt Federal traffic on the Tennessee River. This included shelling the Federal supply town of Johnsonville; losses were estimated at $6.7 million. Forrest lost the vessels he had captured, but he disrupted Federal supply lines around Nashville and diverted Federal troops from other regions to stop the threat. Federal authorities censured officers at Johnsonville for negligence, and William T. Sherman (commanding Federal troops in the Western Theater) fumed, “… that devil Forrest was down about Johnsonville and was making havoc among the gun-boats and transports.”


Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates continued on toward Corinth, Mississippi to link with John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee.


In Chicago, Federal authorities arrested Confederate ringleaders of a plot to take over the city and free Camp Douglas prisoners.

General Sterling Price’s Confederates fought at Cane Hill, Arkansas as part of their continued withdrawal from Missouri. Federals clashed with Native Americans in the Nebraska Territory.


The 2nd session of the Second Confederate Congress assembled in Richmond, Virginia. President Jefferson Davis’s annual message optimistically explained that the loss of Atlanta and the Shenandoah Valley gave the military more flexibility by freeing it from having to defend cities or regions: “There are no vital points on the preservation of which the continued existence of the Confederacy depends.”

Davis urged legislation to buy slaves and use them for military purposes, then free them when their service ended. This was a controversial first step toward recruiting slaves as combat soldiers. Davis concluded that he was willing to negotiate with the U.S. on peace, but only if the U.S. recognized southern independence, not “our unconditional submission and degradation.” He stated that “no peace is attainable unless based on the recognition of our indefeasible rights.”

Davis sent a telegram to John Bell Hood urging his army to attack William T. Sherman’s Federals “and subsequently without serious obstruction or danger to the country in your rear advance to the Ohio River.”


President Abraham Lincoln won reelection to the U.S. presidency, winning 212 electoral votes versus only 21 for Democrat George McClellan; McClellan won only New Jersey, Delaware, and Kentucky. Lincoln spent most of the evening at the War Department reading telegraphic returns. By midnight, it was clear he won in a near landslide.

Soldiers voted overwhelmingly for Lincoln over their former commanding general (116,887 to 33,748), indicating they wanted to finish the job they had been sent to do. Republicans or Unionists also increased their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and retained a plurality in the Senate. This ensured that Lincoln’s policies would continue at least two more years.

Federal victories at Mobile Bay, Atlanta, and the Shenandoah Valley had given Lincoln the momentum needed to win. Radical Republican John C. Fremont’s withdrawal from the race also played a part, as did McClellan’s repudiation of his own party’s “peace platform” that called for peace at any cost, including southern independence and continuing slavery. However, Lincoln’s popular majority was less than 500,000, and 81 electoral votes were not cast in the southern states.


Early this morning, President Lincoln responded to a victory serenade at the White House, declaring the election result “will be to the lasting advantage, if not to the very salvation, of the country.”

William T. Sherman issued Special Field Orders No. 120, providing instructions to his Federal troops on how the advance through Georgia to the Atlantic Ocean would be conducted.

President Lincoln and General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant had been reluctant to approve this march, but now that Lincoln had won reelection, there was no political consequence for failure, so they authorized Sherman to go ahead.

10 NOV

William T. Sherman’s Federals prepared to return to Atlanta after briefly pursuing John Bell Hood’s Confederate Army of Tennessee into Alabama. Confederates under General Nathan Bedford Forrest arrived at Corinth, Mississippi on their way to join Hood’s army.

A large crowd gathered on the White House lawn and serenaded President Abraham Lincoln in celebration of his reelection. Speaking from a second floor window, Lincoln said, “It has long been a grave question whether any government, not too strong for the liberties of the people, can be strong enough to maintain its own existence, in great emergencies… We cannot have free government without elections, and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us.”

11 NOV

Federal troops destroyed bridges, foundries, mills, shops, warehouses, and other useful Confederate property at Rome, Georgia before heading toward Kingston and Atlanta.

At a White House cabinet meeting, the sealed document disclosing President Lincoln’s doubts about the election and pledging cabinet members to support the president-elect after the election was opened. Cabinet members had signed the document without reading it on 23 August.

In Kentucky, Federal authorities arrested three supporters of Democratic presidential candidate George B. McClellan. Lieutenant Governor Richard Jacob was arrested and banished to the Confederacy; a Kentucky elector for McClellan and the editor of the Louisville Journal were also arrested. Lincoln pardoned the latter two and reinstated Jacob in February 1865.

A Federal ship landed at Savannah, Georgia to unload 3,000 ill Confederate prisoners of war; some 500 died on the voyage. About 13,000 Federal prisoners were exchanged at Savannah and Charleston, of which 8,000 were ill.

12 NOV

William T. Sherman concentrated his four corps of 60,000 men for the march from Atlanta to the Atlantic Ocean.

13 NOV

A large part of General Jubal Early’s Confederate army left the Shenandoah and rejoined General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at Richmond and Petersburg. Having marched 1,700 miles and fought 75 engagements since July, Early’s men had made remarkable attempts to threaten Federals in the Valley and even outside Washington, despite being heavily outnumbered.

14 NOV

William T. Sherman’s Federals prepared to move out of Atlanta. The city’s destruction continued.

George H. Thomas prepared his Federals around Nashville, Tennessee. Major General John M. Schofield commanded two Federal corps at Pulaski, south of Nashville. Meanwhile, John Bell Hood awaited the arrival of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates at Florence, Alabama before moving north.

President Lincoln accepted the resignation of George B. McClellan and named Philip Sheridan to the rank of major general in the Regular Army. Lincoln wrote to General Stephen Hurlbut, commanding the Department of the Gulf, that he had heard rumors of “bitter military opposition to the new state Government of Louisiana.”

15 NOV

William T. Sherman’s Army of the West began its “march to the sea.”

16 NOV

William T. Sherman left Atlanta in ruins. Having cut communication lines in the rear, northerners would hear little from Sherman in coming weeks. Skirmishing erupted at various points. Sherman wrote, “My first object was, of course, to place my army in the very heart of Georgia.” The army, consisting of 218 regiments (52 from Ohio alone) and a cavalry unit, took four different routes to confuse whatever enemies there may be.

Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates joined John Bell Hood’s army at Tuscumbia and Florence.

17 NOV

President Davis wrote to a group of Georgia state legislators, stating he strongly objected to any attempt on Georgia’s part to negotiate a peace with the U.S. separate from the Confederacy.

A Washington newspaper reported that President Lincoln told a Maryland committee he was gratified by the election results, which confirmed “the policy he had pursued would be the best and the only one that could save the country.”

18 NOV

Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown called for able-bodied men between the ages of 16 and 55 to oppose William T. Sherman’s march through the state, but few men were available.

21 NOV

John Bell Hood’s 38,000-man Confederate Army of Tennessee left Florence, Alabama en route to invading Tennessee. Hood’s objective was to wedge his forces between Major General John Schofield’s Federal Army of the Ohio near Pulaski and Major General George H. Thomas’s Federal Army of the Cumberland at Nashville.

President Lincoln wrote to Mrs. Lydia Bixby that he had learned she was the mother of “five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle…” But of Mrs. Bixby’s five sons, two had been killed, two were suspected of deserting the army, and one was honorably discharged.

22 NOV

William T. Sherman’s Federals occupied the Georgia state capital of Milledgeville.

John Schofield’s Federals withdrew from Pulaski, Tennessee toward Columbia upon learning that John Bell Hood’s Confederates were advancing toward them.

24 NOV

Northerners observed a national day of thanksgiving. The Federal Army of the Potomac enjoyed feasts of turkey, chicken, fruit, and pies in siege lines outside Petersburg and Richmond. The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia ceased firing out of respect for the Federal holiday.

John Schofield’s Federals arrived at Columbia, Tennessee and entrenched south of the Duck River, blocking an important water crossing on the main road to Nashville.

U.S. Attorney General Edward Bates resigned from President Lincoln’s cabinet. Bates, a conservative Republican, had been a target of Radicals who had urged Lincoln to dismiss him.

25 NOV

Lieutenant John Headley and five Confederate agents attempted to burn New York City by starting fires in 19 hotels and P.T. Barnum’s Museum. However, the fires were quickly extinguished. One agent was captured, tried, and hanged. The plot made sensational headlines but did little to damage New York or affect the war.

26 NOV

Joseph Holt refused President Lincoln’s offer for the attorney general post.

27 NOV

This evening, John Schofield’s Federals withdrew north of the Duck River to prevent John Bell Hood’s Confederates from flanking them.

The Federal steamer Greyhound was destroyed, allegedly by saboteurs, on the James River. Greyhound was the headquarters of Major General Benjamin F. Butler, commanding the Army of the James. Butler was unharmed.

28 NOV

John Schofield’s Federals established positions at Spring Hill, which guarded the main road (and possible escape route) to Franklin and Nashville. John Bell Hood’s Confederates occupied Columbia, and Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry crossed the Duck River.

Thomas L. Rosser’s Confederate cavalry moved to New Creek, west of Cumberland, Maryland, and captured many prisoners and supplies on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. This proved that Confederates were not yet ready to admit complete defeat in the Shenandoah Valley.

29 NOV

In Tennessee, John Bell Hood’s Confederates crossed the Duck River and attempted to cut the Federals off from the main road. Skirmishing ensued until nightfall, when the Federals withdrew to Franklin undetected. Allowing the Federals to escape became known as the “Spring Hill Affair.”

The Sand Creek Massacre occurred in the Colorado Territory.

General Stephen Hurlbut responded to President Lincoln’s message of 14 November, explaining that Lincoln had been misinformed and added that the new Louisiana government did nothing “to prevent and prepare the emancipated bondsmen for their new status & condition.”

30 NOV

The Battle of Franklin occurred in Tennessee.

President Davis sent a message to P.G.T. Beauregard warning the general that William T. Sherman “may move directly for the Coast.” He urged Beauregard to concentrate Confederate forces to stop Sherman, at least until John Bell Hood’s Confederates were able to invade the North.


Last Updated: 12/10/2014


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