August 1864

1 AUG

A portion of General Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley under General John McCausland attacked Cumberland, but Federals were closing in on him. Major General Philip Sheridan was appointed commander of the new Army of the Shenandoah. Sheridan’s primary goal was to stop Jubal Early’s Confederates from wreaking havoc in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the Shenandoah.

In Georgia, Major General William T. Sherman’s Federal artillery shelled Atlanta.

2 AUG

John McCausland’s Confederates fought Federals at Hancock, Maryland while trying to recross the Potomac River.

The Federal military buildup near Mobile Bay, Alabama continued as Rear Admiral David G. Farragut prepared to lead a land-sea attack on the vital Confederate seaport.

3 AUG

Federal land forces reached Dauphin Island and invested Fort Gaines at the entrance to Mobile Bay. This was in preparation to David G. Farragut’s general attack on the Confederate seaport.

John McCausland’s Confederates crossed the Potomac River and entered West Virginia.

In Georgia, William T. Sherman’s Federals continued extending their lines around Atlanta by crossing Utoy Creek. This compelled John Bell Hood’s outnumbered Confederates to spread themselves dangerously thin.

President Abraham Lincoln informed General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant that Grant’s idea of having Philip Sheridan follow Jubal Early “to the death” in the Shenandoah “will neither be done nor attempted unless you watch it every day, and hour, and force it.”

4 AUG

Ulysses S. Grant left headquarters at City Point, Virginia for Washington to discuss how to deal with Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley operating in the Shenandoah, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

In Georgia, Major General John Schofield’s Federal Army of the Ohio (part of William T. Sherman’s Army of the West) crossed Utoy Creek in Sherman’s effort to extend his lines around Atlanta and cut the Macon & Western Railroad line.

Federals resumed bombarding Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. The shelling lasted until 23 August but with lower intensity than earlier bombardments.

 

5 AUG

The Battle of Mobile Bay occurred in Alabama, as David G. Farragut’s Federal naval fleet invaded the bay. The Federal ships were immediately fired upon from Forts Gaines and Morgan, and a floating mine (i.e., torpedo) sunk the ironclad Tecumseh. When this slowed Federal momentum, Farragut angrily shouted, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” The remaining ships passed the forts with minimal damage and captured the vital Confederate port.

Federals suffered 319 casualties and Confederates lost 302. Northern morale, which had been at its lowest point of the war, was greatly boosted by this sensational Federal victory.

In Georgia, General William Hardee’s Confederate corps established strong defensive positions on a ridge near Utoy Creek outside Atlanta. Meanwhile, John Schofield regrouped his Federals and prepared to attack.

The New York Tribune published the Wade-Davis Manifesto; this was in response to President Lincoln’s veto of the controversial Wade-Davis Reconstruction Bill last month. The manifesto accused Lincoln of attempting to make, not execute, laws and declared that “the authority of Congress is paramount and must be respected.” Lincoln’s veto was bitterly denounced as a “stupid outrage” that was done for political, not practical reasons. This was one of the most vitriolic denunciations of a sitting president by members of Congress in American history. It threatened to split the Republican Party before the upcoming elections between the Radicals supporting the manifesto and the conservatives supporting Lincoln.

Jubal Early’s Confederates entered Maryland once more and fought several minor engagements. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, West Virginia, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

6 AUG

The Battle of Utoy Creek occurred in Georgia as John Schofield’s Federals attacked Confederate defenses on a ridge near the creek. The Confederates, led by the famous Orphan Brigade, repulsed the attacks, and the Federals withdrew after suffering heavy losses. The Federals soon resumed their flanking efforts instead of direct attacks.

Confederates evacuated Fort Powell, which guarded a secondary entry to Mobile Bay, after heavy Federal bombardment.

Jubal Early’s Confederates eluded Federal pursuers once more and crossed the Potomac River back into Virginia after raiding Hancock, Maryland.

7 AUG

Confederates agreed to surrender Fort Gaines in Mobile Bay after the Federal capture of the port on 5 August.

In Georgia, John Schofield’s Federals began moving around the Confederate flank at Utoy Creek. Schofield pushed his Federals forward along the creek to provide a pivot that William T. Sherman could use to swing east and cut the supply lines south of Atlanta. As Confederates were compelled to withdraw to stronger positions, pressure on the city increased.

Philip Sheridan was assigned to command the new Federal Middle Military Division. The Division included all four military departments around Washington, West Virginia, and the Shenandoah.

In Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, Chief of Staff Henry W. Halleck, and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton conferred with President Lincoln.

8 AUG

Confederates surrendered Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island in Mobile Bay.

9 AUG

A massive explosion occurred at the Federal supply depot near Ulysses S. Grant’s headquarters at City Point, Virginia. Grant’s orderly and 57 others were killed, 126 were wounded, and heavy property damage was incurred. It was later learned that the explosion was caused by a Confederate spy. Grant wired Washington that casualties were inflicted and that “damage at the wharf must be considerable.”

In Georgia, William T. Sherman informed Washington that he was “too impatient for a siege” of Atlanta and began shelling the city with over 5,000 artillery rounds. The bombardment killed several civilians, including women and children.

President Lincoln wrote to Major General Nathaniel Banks, commanding the Federal Department of the Gulf, that he was anxious for Louisiana voters to approve the new state constitution. Lincoln also wrote New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley allowing him to publish correspondence between the Lincoln administration and Confederate envoys regarding peace negotiations, except for some excerpts that Lincoln thought too sensitive to reveal.

10 AUG

General Joseph Wheeler’s Confederate cavalry began raiding Federal railroad, communications, and other supply lines in northern Georgia and eastern Tennessee.

William Hoffman, head administrator of Federal prisoner of war camps, issued Circular No. 4 which prohibited the purchase or delivery of any food to Confederate prisoners not listed on sick rolls.

C.S.S. Tallahassee captured seven prizes off Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

11 AUG

In Virginia, General Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley withdrew south up the Shenandoah toward Cedar Creek. This was in response to Major General Philip H. Sheridan’s new 37,000-man Federal Army of the Shenandoah advancing on Winchester.

President Davis told General Robert E. Lee, commanding the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia under siege at Petersburg, “It is thought idle to attack your entrenchments but feasible to starve you out.”

 

12 AUG

C.S.S. Tallahassee captured six more ships off New York, and panic spread along the Mid-Atlantic and New England coasts.

In Washington, various politicians (including Republican boss Thurlow Weed) warned President Lincoln he would be defeated in the upcoming election.

13 AUG

Federals demonstrated north of the James River and east of Richmond. The goal was to divert attention from Petersburg and to probe or take Confederate defenses.

Eugene Sanger, chief surgeon at Elmira Prison camp in New York, warned Seth Eastman, prison commandant, of the dangers of stagnant water: “Unless the laws of hygiene are carefully studied and observed in crowded camps, disease is the inevitable consequence.”

15 AUG

In the Shenandoah Valley, Philip Sheridan began withdrawing his Federals from Cedar Creek to Winchester out of concern he could not hold his line or properly supply his army. Confederate defenders repulsed Federal probes north of the James River near Richmond.

In Georgia, Major General William T. Sherman’s Federal Army of the West continued advancing along Utoy Creek outside Atlanta, fighting along the way. Confederate cavalry raided the Nashville & Northwestern Railroad.

Lieutenant General Richard Taylor, son of former President Zachary Taylor, was assigned to command the Confederate Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana.

Federals captured the British-built Confederate cruiser Georgia off Lisbon, Portugal. Georgia had been sold to a British ship owner and disarmed.

16 AUG

In the Shenandoah Valley, Philip Sheridan’s Federals withdrew toward Winchester without Jubal Early’s knowledge.

C.S.S. Tallahassee captured four schooners and a bark off New England.

17 AUG

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early learned that Philip Sheridan’s Federals had withdrawn and advanced north to pursue them. However, Federal cavalry protected the main army at Winchester.

President Lincoln told Ulysses S. Grant, commanding the Army of the Potomac besieging Petersburg, “… Hold on with a bull-dog gripe (sic), and chew & choke, as much as possible.”

Elmira Prison Commandant Seth Eastman informed William Hoffman, Federal prison head, of the dangers of disease due to stagnant water: “I respectfully request that you give instructions in regard to this with as little delay as possible, for if this work is to be done, it should be done immediately.” No action was taken by Hoffman, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, or President Lincoln.

18 AUG

The Battle of the Weldon Railroad occurred outside Petersburg, as Federals moved west against the Confederate right and seized part of the vital railroad line. However, General A.P. Hill’s Confederates repulsed the Federals as they moved toward Petersburg. Federals suffered 836 casualties.

In Georgia, General Judson Kilpatrick’s Federal cavalry began raiding Lovejoy’s Station; efforts to destroy the Macon & Western Railroad were largely unsuccessful. Meanwhile, General John Schofield’s Federal Army of the Ohio pushed forward along Utoy Creek. This was an effort to provide a pivot that William T. Sherman could use to swing his Federal armies east and cut supply lines south of Atlanta.

Ulysses S. Grant refused for the second time to exchange Confederate prisoners of war, arguing that doing so would give the Confederacy more manpower to continue the war. Confederate officials had requested resuming prisoner exchange not only to secure more manpower, but also because they lacked the resources to feed, clothe, and shelter the Federal prisoners in southern camps.

 

19 AUG

The Battle of Weldon Railroad continued outside Petersburg, as Confederates attacked the Federals in dense woods and forced them to withdraw to Globe Tavern after suffering some 2,900 casualties, most of whom were captured. However, Federals maintained control of the railroad, and Confederates continued attempts to dislodge them.

In Georgia, William T. Sherman’s Federal reconnoitered around Atlanta, with fighting erupting at various points.

President Lincoln told an interviewer, “I cannot but feel that the weal or woe of this great nation will be decided in the approaching canvas.”

20 AUG

Outside Petersburg, Confederates suspended major efforts to recapture the Weldon Railroad. Confederate President Jefferson Davis expressed distress over the Federal capture of the rail line.

Federals probing Confederate defenses north of the James River returned to Petersburg, having failed to create a diversion near Richmond. In Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Philip Sheridan’s Federal Army of the Shenandoah continued sparring with Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley, with fighting erupting at various points.

21 AUG

General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s 2,000-man Confederate cavalry force occupied Memphis after a daring raid in which they nearly captured two Federal major generals. The Confederates ultimately pulled back with minimal losses. The Memphis raid frustrated and demoralized the Federals, as Forrest continued raiding William Sherman’s Federal supply lines virtually uncontested, and Federal efforts to stop him were largely unsuccessful.

Confederates launched a final attack on Federals holding the Weldon Railroad outside Petersburg, but it failed to dislodge them. The Confederates returned to their original siege lines, acknowledging the loss of the Weldon Railroad as a supply line for Richmond and Petersburg. Federals suffered a total of 4,455 casualties from 18-21 August, and Confederates lost some 1,600.

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early planned to attack while Philip Sheridan’s Federals pulled back to Harpers Ferry in a nearly impregnable position. The Valley was once more largely free of Federals.

22 AUG

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates demonstrated against Philip Sheridan’s Federals at Harpers Ferry.

President Lincoln told the 169th Ohio, “The nation is worth fighting for, to secure such an inestimable jewel” as opportunity under a free government.

23 AUG

Confederate defenders at Fort Morgan surrendered to Federals; this was the last major Confederate battery at the entrance to Mobile Bay. Confederate retained control of Mobile, but the bay was now closed to Confederate shipping. Only Wilmington, North Carolina remained as a major Confederate seaport to receive vital supplies from blockade-runners.

Federals destroyed track on the Weldon Railroad outside Petersburg, and President Davis expressed apprehension over loss of the railroad and other supply lines. In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates continued demonstrating against the Federals in the northern end of the Shenandoah.

President Lincoln asked his cabinet members to endorse a memo without reading it. The memo stated that his reelection was unlikely, and as such “it will be my duty to so co-operate with the President elect, as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he can not possibly save it afterwards.”

Lincoln expressed disappointment that he could be defeated by a Democrat who would cancel many of his war policies. The new president could also seek a compromise with the South, which potentially included granting southern independence or repudiating the Emancipation Proclamation.

24 AUG

Confederate forces were building up outside Petersburg to attack the Federals destroying the Weldon Railroad, and fighting erupted at various points.

President Lincoln responded to a request from Henry J. Raymond, Republican Party chairman and New York Times editor, to negotiate peace with President Davis. Lincoln authorized Raymond to proceed with the understanding that the war could not end without “restoration of the Union and the national authority.”

25 AUG 

The Second Battle of Ream’s Station occurred outside Petersburg, as Confederates launched a surprise attack on Federals destroying the rails. The Federals quickly broke in confusion and panic, and the famed Second Corps was permanently shattered. Federals suffered 3,492 casualties (some 2,000 of which were captured). Confederates captured thousands of prisoners and nine artillery pieces. However, this Confederate victory did little to stop the overall gradual westward extension of the Federal siege lines around Petersburg.

In the Shenandoah Valley, Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley threatened to launch another invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania since Philip Sheridan’s Federal Army of the Shenandoah was in an impregnable position at Harpers Ferry. Fighting erupted at various points, but the Potomac River fords were heavily guarded by Federals, preventing Early from crossing.

In Georgia, William T. Sherman’s Federal Army of the West began its major move to cut off Atlanta completely. Federals marched toward the city’s south side toward Jonesboro.

Federal prison inspector Bennett Munger issued a report on conditions at Elmira Prison in New York: “Some (sick Confederate prisoners) are destitute of blankets and proper underclothes, and all without hospital rations; clothing of prisoners deficient, especially in blankets and shirts. The stench arising from the stagnant water in the pond is still very offensive.” Another report stated that 793 prisoners suffered from scurvy despite this year’s bountiful harvest in western New York.

C.S.S. Tallahassee ran the Federal blockade at Wilmington after a three-week cruise in which she captured 31 Federal ships.

 

26 AUG

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates withdrew toward Bunker Hill and Stephenson’s Depot after finding no way to either attack Philip Sheridan’s Federals or cross the Potomac. Fighting erupted at various points.

In Georgia, William T. Sherman’s Federals threatened the last supply lines in and out of Atlanta still controlled by General John Bell Hood’s Confederate Army of Tennessee. Fighting erupted at various points.

27 AUG

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates withdrew to Bunker Hill and Stephenson’s Depot, with fighting erupting at various points.

In Georgia, William T. Sherman’s Federals established positions southwest of Atlanta as they prepared to continue south before swinging east toward Jonesboro to cut John Bell Hood’s last railroads in and out of the city. Fighting erupted at various points.

28 AUG

In the Shenandoah, Philip Sheridan’s Federals advanced to Charles Town, West Virginia with no opposition after Jubal Early’s withdrawal.

In Georgia, William T. Sherman’s three Federal armies closed in on the Montgomery & Atlanta (or West Point) Railroad. Fighting erupted at various points.

29 AUG

Major General Sterling “Pap” Price, commander of the Confederate District of Arkansas, was assigned to command an expedition intended to reclaim Missouri for the Confederacy.

In the Shenandoah, Philip Sheridan’s Federals continued advancing after winning a fight on the Opequon River. In Georgia, William T. Sherman’s Federals continued probing operations, with fighting erupting at various points.

The Democratic National Convention assembled in Chicago to nominate a presidential candidate that would challenge President Lincoln in the upcoming election. The party was divided between War Democrats who supported continuing the war to restore the Union and “Copperheads,” or Peace Democrats, who wanted peace at any price, even if it meant southern independence.

Democratic National Committee chairman Augustus Belmont declared, “Four years of misrule by a sectional, fanatical and corrupt party, have brought our country to the verge of ruin.” An Iowa delegate declared, “With all his vast armies Lincoln has failed, failed, failed, and still the monster usurper wants more victims for his slaughter pens.” Committees formed, and former Federal General-in-Chief George B. McClellan was considered the frontrunner for the presidential nomination.

30 AUG

In the Shenandoah, Philip Sheridan’s Federals moved to threaten Winchester once more. Major General George Crook replaced the ineffective Major General David Hunter in command of the Federal Department of West Virginia under Sheridan.

In Georgia, William T. Sherman’s Federals severed one of the last two railroads in and out of Atlanta and marched rapidly toward the Macon line. John Bell Hood countered by attacking the Federal flank at Jonesboro. Fighting erupted at various points, but Sherman’s three armies were too overwhelming for the Confederates.

At the Democratic National Convention, delegates adopted a platform that was mostly written by the Peace Democrats. It declared that President Lincoln had violated individual rights and the Republicans had illegally assumed “war power higher than the Constitution” and as such, “justice, humanity, liberty (for) the public welfare demand that immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities with a view to an ultimate convention of the States…”

Democrats also George B. McClellan and former Connecticut Governor Thomas H. Seymour as candidates for the presidential nomination. Senator L.W. Powell and former President Franklin Pierce withdrew their names from consideration. McClellan was the frontrunner, even though he was a War Democrat who opposed much of the Democrats’ “peace” platform.

31 AUG

At the Democratic National Convention, George B. McClellan was nominated for president by easily defeating Thomas Seymour. Delegates nominated George H. Pendleton of Ohio for vice president. Rumors circulated that McClellan would repudiate the party’s “peace” platform because he favored continuing the war to restore the Union.

In Georgia, Confederates launched a frantic attack on the Federal flank near Jonesboro, but they were severely repulsed. Federals suffered 170 casualties, and Confederates lost 1,725. This Federal victory enabled them to cut the Macon & Western Railroad between Jonesboro and Atlanta. William T. Sherman’s big push to break John Bell Hood’s grip on the railroads worked, as Sherman seemed more interested in capturing Atlanta than in destroying Hood’s army.

—–

Last Updated: 11/14/2014

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