July 1864


The U.S. Senate confirmed President Abraham Lincoln’s appointment of Maine Senator William Fessenden to replace Salmon P. Chase as treasury secretary. Fessenden served on the Senate Finance Committee and, like most Republicans, supported higher taxes and opposed inflation.

Major General Irvin McDowell was appointed to command the Federal Department of the Pacific.


In Georgia, General Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate Army of Tennessee withdrew from Kennesaw Mountain to previously prepared defenses near Marietta. Major General William T. Sherman’s Federal Army of the West was shifting around Johnston’s left flank to approach the vital industrial city of Atlanta, and Johnston’s position at Kennesaw was no longer tenable.

General Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley reached Winchester, Virginia with little Federal opposition.


Jubal Early’s Confederates entered Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, as a small Federal force under General Franz Sigel withdrew across the Potomac River. Northern citizens began panicking, and concern grew in Washington.

In Charleston Harbor, a Federal attempt to capture Fort Johnson from Morris Island failed, with 140 Federals captured. Also, about 5,500 Federals landed on James Island and pushed Confederate defenders back.


The first session of the Thirty-eighth U.S. Congress adjourned. President Lincoln signed several bills into law, including establishing public lands in the Pacific Northwest for railroad and telegraph lines to Puget Sound; incorporating the Northern Pacific Railroad; opening land for settlement from Lake Superior to the Pacific; establishing an Immigration Commission and encouraging immigrants by guaranteeing them a 12-month labor contract; and repealing certain provisions of the Enrollment Act.

Lincoln also signed two bills into law introduced by Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts that 1) repealed all laws regulating slave importation prior to its ban on 1 January 1809, and 2) authorizing federal courts to allow testimony from black witnesses, even in states that prohibited black testimony.

Lincoln refused to sign the controversial Wade-Davis Reconstruction Bill, which required 50 percent of a seceded state’s voters to swear allegiance to the U.S. before calling a convention to reconstruct the state under a new constitution that outlawed slavery. The bill also provided suffrage to adult black men in seceded states while prohibiting voting rights for Confederates. Lincoln believed this bill was improperly dictatorial and declared that such a measure would interfere with reconstruction efforts currently underway in Louisiana and Arkansas.

In Georgia, William T. Sherman’s right flank (General James McPherson’s Federal Army of the Tennessee) skirted around the Confederate left at Smyrna and reached the Chattahoochee River. Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederates were forced to withdraw to another line of previously prepared defenses along the river.

Jubal Early’s Confederates operated near Harper’s Ferry in preparation for crossing the Potomac River and invading the U.S.


Jubal Early’s Confederates began crossing the Potomac River and entering Shepherdstown, Maryland. In Georgia, fighting erupted as William T. Sherman’s Federals probed the new Confederate defensive line. A.J. Smith’s Federal cavalry left La Grange, Tennessee to confront General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates in northern Mississippi.

In Charleston Harbor, Federals withdrew from James Island after being repulsed at Stono. The Federals returned to Navy transports.

President Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus and proclaimed martial law in Kentucky in response to charges that Kentuckians were aiding “the forces of the insurgents.”

New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley informed President Lincoln that he had received a letter stating that Confederate emissaries were at Niagara Falls “with full & complete powers for a peace.” Greeley urged Lincoln to meet the emissaries, stating that “our bleeding, bankrupt, almost dying country also longs for peace–shudders at the prospect of fresh conscriptions, of further wholesale devastations, and of new rivers of human blood…”


Jubal Early’s Confederates collected $20,000 from the citizens of Hagerstown, Maryland in retribution for General David Hunter’s Federal depredations in the Shenandoah. Washington officials conferred on reinforcing and defending the capital.

The first Confederate prisoners arrived at Elmira Prison camp along the Chemung River in New York. The river produced a stagnant pond within the prison that later caused great illness, disease, and death.


Federal troops were hurried to Washington and Maryland to protect against a potential Confederate invasion led by Jubal Early.

In Charleston Harbor, Federals abandoned James Island after a Confederate counterattack and returned to Navy transports. Meanwhile, 784 Federal rounds were fired into Fort Sumter in another major bombardment.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis informed Joseph E. Johnston, commanding the Confederate Army of Tennessee, that he was “more apprehensive for the future” due to Johnston’s continuous withdrawals toward Atlanta, Georgia.


President Lincoln issued a proclamation explaining his veto of the controversial Wade-Davis Reconstruction Bill. Lincoln argued that the bill was improperly dictatorial, that Congress had no authority to abolish slavery except by constitutional amendment, and that the bill would undermine reconstruction efforts already underway in Louisiana and Arkansas.

Lincoln expressed support for a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery but argued that Congress did not have the power to abolish the institution on its own.

In Georgia, Major General John Schofield’s Federal forces crossed the Chattahoochee River, threatening Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate right flank.


The Battle of Monocacy occurred in Maryland, as Jubal Early’s Confederates routed a makeshift Federal force attempting to block the path to Washington. Although the Federals were defeated, they stalled the Confederate advance long enough for defenses to be prepared around the capital. Meanwhile, Confederates collected $200,000 in ransom from the officials of Frederick, Maryland.

In Virginia, Major General George G. Meade ordered the construction of regular Federal siege lines around Petersburg to increase pressure on General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. In Georgia, Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederates withdrew across the Chattahoochee River as Federals attempted to move around their right flank. President Davis dispatched General Braxton Bragg to Georgia to observe Johnston.

President Lincoln responded to New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley’s suggestion that the Confederates might be willing to negotiate peace. Lincoln stated that anyone representing the Confederacy who sought to restore the U.S. and acknowledge an end to slavery would be welcomed at the White House.

10 JUL

Jubal Early’s Confederates slowly approached Washington, destroying railroads, warehouses, and private property along the way. President Lincoln and his family returned from the Soldier’s Home on Washington’s outskirts to avoid danger. Lincoln wired Baltimore officials fearing an attack on their city as well as Washington: “They can not fly to either place. Let us be vigilant but keep cool. I hope neither Baltimore or Washington will be sacked.”

Joseph E. Johnston wrote to President Davis, proposing the evacuation of Andersonville prison camp before Federals could capture it. Since Andersonville was 125 miles south of Atlanta, Davis interpreted this message to mean that Johnston planned to abandon Atlanta.

11 JUL

Jubal Early’s Confederates invaded the Washington suburbs and burned the homes of prominent officials. District of Columbia militia, government clerks, and invalids were organized to defend the capital. The Confederates launched a small assault on Fort Stevens, the northernmost defense point, about five miles from the White House. President and Mrs. Lincoln visited the fort and witnessed the attack.

The Federal dollar dropped in value to 39 cents, its lowest worth of the war.

12 JUL

Jubal Early’s Confederates began withdrawing from Washington after another unsuccessful attack on Fort Stevens. President Lincoln witnessed the attack and came under enemy fire; he was admonished by young officer Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., “Get down, you fool!”

President Davis wrote to Robert E. Lee about Joseph E. Johnston’s continuous withdrawals in Georgia, “Genl. Johnston has failed and there are strong indications he will abandon Atlanta… It seems necessary to relieve him at once. Who should succeed him? What think you of (General John Bell) Hood for the position?”

13 JUL

Jubal Early’s Confederates continued their withdrawal from Washington by hurrying toward the Potomac River at Leesburg. Early’s raid caused temporary panic in the North, but it did not relieve Federal pressure on Petersburg as he had hoped.

14 JUL

The Battle of Tupelo occurred in Mississippi, as Confederates under Generals Nathan Bedford Forrest and Stephen D. Lee attacked Federal cavalry along a ridge at Harrisburg. The attack was repulsed, but the Federals failed to achieve their goal of destroying Forrest’s command. Federals suffered 674 casualties while Confederates lost 1,347.

Jubal Early’s Confederates arrived at Leesburg, Virginia after raiding Maryland and Washington, D.C. The Lincoln administration faced stern criticism for allowing Early to escape back into Virginia.

15 JUL

Federal cavalry under A.J. Smith withdrew from Tupelo, Mississippi despite yesterday’s victory. Smith cited supply shortages as the reason. This once again allowed Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates to wreak havoc in northern Mississippi and southwestern Tennessee. The Confederates pursued Smith but could not provoke a major battle.

16 JUL

In Georgia, Joseph E. Johnston established Confederate defenses behind Peachtree Creek, a tributary of the Chattahoochee River just five miles from Atlanta. William T. Sherman, commanding three Federal armies opposing Johnston, wired Washington, “We now commence the real game for Atlanta.” Sherman prepared to move his armies across the Chattahoochee, and Johnston waited for them to separate so he could attack. Meanwhile, Confederates strengthened their defenses along the Atlanta & Decatur Railroad.

President Davis wrote to Johnston, “… I wish to hear from you as to present situation and your plan of operations so specifically as will enable me to anticipate events.” Johnston replied, “As the enemy has double our number, we must be on the defensive…” As panicked citizens began evacuating Atlanta, Davis believed that giving up the city without a fight was unacceptable.

President Lincoln dispatched his secretary, John Hay, to New York to determine if a Confederate peace overture was legitimate. A Confederate envoy had indicated to Lincoln through New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley that he may be willing to negotiate peace.

17 JUL

This morning, President Davis met with his cabinet to discuss Joseph E. Johnston’s future. All cabinet members who had earlier supported Johnston now recommended his removal as army commander.

This evening, Joseph E. Johnston received a telegram: “You are hereby relieved from the command of the Army and Department of Tennessee, which you will immediately turn over to General (John Bell) Hood.” Johnston had maneuvered brilliantly against William T. Sherman’s overwhelming Federal forces, but he had consistently retreated, and Hood was considered a more aggressive fighter. Meanwhile, Federals continued building pontoon bridges to cross the Chattahoochee River and advance on Atlanta.

President Lincoln wrote to Ulysses S. Grant overseeing the Federal siege of Petersburg, Virginia. Having suffered a terrible number of casualties since May, Lincoln hoped that Grant “may find a way that the effort shall not be desparate (sic) in the sense of great loss of life.”

18 JUL

New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley and President Lincoln’s secretary John Hay arrived at Niagara Falls and met with J.R. Gilmore, a consultant to President Davis. Gilmore insisted that any peace terms must include recognizing Confederate independence. When Gilmore was told that this was unacceptable (Lincoln insisted on restoring the Union and ending slavery), the peace talks dissolved.

President Lincoln issued a call for 500,000 more volunteers to refill the depleted ranks after the devastating combat in Virginia.

In Georgia, John Bell Hood replaced Joseph E. Johnston as commander of the Confederate Army of Tennessee. Fighting erupted along the Chattahoochee River as the Federals continued crossing.

President Davis appointed Charleston merchant George Trenholm as the new treasury secretary, replacing Christopher Memminger. Trenholm reluctantly accepted.

19 JUL

William T. Sherman’s Federals–mainly General George H. Thomas’s Army of the Cumberland–advanced along Peachtree Creek, north of Atlanta. General John Schofield’s Federal Army of the Ohio also advanced on Atlanta from farther east. General James McPherson’s Federal Army of the Tennessee was east of Atlanta near Decatur. New Confederate commander John Bell Hood prepared to attack Thomas’s Federals along Peachtree Creek while they were separated from Schofield and McPherson.

Jubal Early’s Confederates clashed with Federals near the Shenandoah Valley.

20 JUL

The Battle of Peachtree Creek occurred outside Atlanta after several Confederate delays and miscommunications. Fierce assaults against George Thomas’s Federals were initially successful but ultimately repulsed with heavy losses. When it was learned that James McPherson’s Federals were advancing from the east, the Confederates withdrew. Federals suffered 1,779 casualties while Confederates lost 4,796.

John Bell Hood blamed corps commander William Hardee for delays and lack of aggression in the defeat at Peachtree Creek. While Joseph E. Johnston had worked to preserve Confederate manpower, Hood suffered tremendous casualties that could not be replaced. William T. Sherman’s Federals now controlled nearly half of Atlanta’s outer perimeter; the only open routes remaining were to the south and southwest.

A third major bombardment of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor reduced the fort to rubble. In the 14-day bombardment, the Federals fired 4,890 rounds at Sumter, mortally wounding Commandant J.C. Mitchel. But the defenders refused to surrender.

Jubal Early’s Confederates clashed with Federals at Stephenson’s Depot, just north of Winchester, Virginia. A Confederate brigade broke, and some 250 Confederates were captured. Early continued withdrawing southward toward Strasburg.

21 JUL

In Georgia, John Bell Hood directed Confederate corps commander William Hardee to conduct a 15-mile night march to attack the flank and rear of General James McPherson’s Federal Army of the Tennessee advancing on Atlanta from the east. Meanwhile, the Confederate defensive line at Peachtree Creek was broken, and after hard fighting, the Federals captured Bald Hill. The Federals now occupied the high ground overlooking Atlanta.

22 JUL

The Battle of Atlanta occurred as William Hardee’s exhausted Confederates attacked James McPherson’s flank south of the Georgia Railroad between Decatur and Atlanta. Fighting surged back and forth all afternoon, with the Federals holding their position. McPherson was killed while trying to escape from Confederate skirmishers he had inadvertently ridden upon. He was replaced by Major General John A. “Blackjack” Logan, who rallied the Federals in a massive counterattack. A final Confederate charge was repulsed, and John Bell Hood ordered a withdrawal. Federals suffered 3,722 casualties while Confederates lost up to 10,000.

In five days as army commander, Hood had launched two attacks that not only failed to dislodge the Federals from around Atlanta, but cost more lives than former commander Joseph E. Johnston had lost in over two months. Hood blamed Hardee for the defeat, even though Hood was not present during the fighting. The Confederates fell back to defenses around Atlanta, and President Lincoln offered overall Federal commander William T. Sherman his “profoundest thanks to you and your whole Army for the present campaign so far.”

In Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley withdrew to the Strasburg area while Federals gathered at Winchester. The Federal Sixth Corps, detached from the Army of the Potomac to confront Early, returned to Washington.

23 JUL

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates turned northward to attack Federals under General George Crook at Kernstown, near the site where Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s Confederates had won in 1862. Sharp skirmishing ensued.

In Louisiana, a pro-U.S. convention adopted a state constitution abolishing slavery without compensating former slaveholders. This fulfilled one of the Lincoln administration’s conditions for returning Louisiana to the U.S. Citizens who swore loyalty were allowed to vote on whether to approve the new constitution; the election was scheduled for 5 September.

24 JUL

The Second Battle of Kernstown occurred in the Shenandoah, as Jubal Early’s Confederates defeated Federals and sent them fleeing in panicked retreat toward Harpers Ferry. The Confederates pursued northward.

The Savannah News reported, “There seems to be now a great rage for investing in Confederate bonds. In Lincolndom every body is avoiding government paper.”

25 JUL

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates pursued the Federals in heavy rain to Bunker Hill, north of Winchester, where fighting ensued. The Federals encamped on the Potomac River.

President Lincoln wrote to Abram Wakeman that the upcoming presidential election “will almost certainly be no other than a contest between a Union and Disunion candidate, disunion certainly following the success of the latter.”

26 JUL

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates fought retreating Federals at various points as they crossed the Potomac into Maryland.

Major General Dabney H. Maury replaced General Stephen D. Lee as commander of the Confederate Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana.

27 JUL

In Georgia, William T. Sherman dispatched Federal cavalry to cut the railroads south of Atlanta and harass the Confederate supply and communication lines. Sherman replaced John Logan as Army of the Tennessee commander with Major General Oliver O. Howard. This prompted Major General Joseph Hooker to resign because he believed he had been passed over. The change also caused resentment among Logan’s supporters.

Jubal Early’s Confederates destroyed railroads and prepared to cross the Potomac once more. General Henry W. Halleck assumed command of the Federal departments around Washington concerned with defending the city.

In Virginia, the Federal Second Corps under General Winfield Scott Hancock and two cavalry divisions under General Philip Sheridan crossed the James River to probe for a possible invasion of Richmond. This was also intended to ease the Confederate hold on Petersburg. Confederate defenders put up fierce resistance.

Federal Rear Admiral David G. Farragut began conducting naval reconnaissances around Mobile Bay, Alabama as he developed a plan to attack the vital Confederate seaport.

28 JUL

The Battle of Ezra Church occurred outside Atlanta, Georgia. William T. Sherman dispatched his Federal Army of the Tennessee to Atlanta’s western outskirts to seize the last railroad line between East Point and Atlanta. John Bell Hood sent Confederates to stop the advance.

Confederates were unable to dislodge the Federals from their strong defensive positions. The Federals suffered 562 casualties while Confederates lost as many as 5,000, making this the most lopsided Federal victory of the war. This was Hood’s third major defeat in 10 days, during which time he lost one-third of his army. Sherman continued his plan of seizing all railroads and starving Atlanta into submission.

In Virginia, a Federal detachment from the Army of the Potomac ended their probe of Confederate defenses north of the James River after encountering fierce resistance.

29 JUL

Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley crossed the Potomac River once more and entered Maryland and Pennsylvania. This was the second Confederate invasion of the North within a month, and local northerners panicked once more.

At Petersburg, a 586-foot tunnel was completed in the eastern sector of the siege lines. The two shafts at the tunnel’s end were each packed with 4,000 pounds of gunpowder that would detonate beneath Confederate defenses. Federals moved into attack positions and awaited detonation scheduled for tomorrow.

In Virginia, Federal forces withdrew from north of the James River to rejoin the Army of the Potomac surrounding Petersburg. A Federal expedition began from Warrensburg, Missouri. Skirmishing occurred in Louisiana.

30 JUL

The Battle of the Crater occurred as the gunpowder beneath Confederate lines at Petersburg was detonated, instantly killing hundreds of Confederates and ripping a crater in the ground about 170 feet long, 70 feet wide, and 30 feet deep.

Federals attacked by rushing into the crater instead of moving around it, and Confederates quickly regrouped and fired down upon them. Many black troops were killed when Confederates refused their surrender. Surviving Federals withdrew in defeat as Confederates reformed their lines.

The Federals suffered about 3,500 casualties while the Confederates lost roughly 1,500. Ulysses S. Grant wrote to Chief of Staff Henry W. Halleck, “It was the saddest affair I have witnessed in the war… Such opportunity for carrying fortifications I have never seen, and do not expect again to have.” Two generals were censured for hiding during the fight, and General Ambrose Burnside, who directed the assault, was relieved of his command.

A portion of Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley under Brigadier General John McCausland reached Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. McCausland demanded $500,000 in currency or $100,000 in gold as reparations for Federal destruction in the Shenandoah. When residents could not raise the money, Confederates burned Chambersburg’s business district.

President Lincoln traveled to Fort Monroe, Virginia to confer with General-in-Chief Grant. Lincoln was under increasing criticism from northerners horrified by staggering casualties that produced no major victories. Grant was frustrated by Jubal Early’s ability to move freely throughout the Shenandoah Valley and even into the North.

31 JUL

William Averell’s Federals pursued John McCausland’s Confederates in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Averell attacked McCausland at Hancock, Maryland, and the Confederates withdrew northwest to Cumberland, Maryland.

President Lincoln held a five-hour conference with Ulysses S. Grant. Regarding the Shenandoah, Grant told Lincoln, “All I ask is that one general officer, in whom I and yourself have confidence, should command the whole.” He proposed that Major General Philip Sheridan be given command to “follow (Jubal Early) to the death. Wherever the enemy goes let our troops go also.” Lincoln replied, “This, I think, is exactly right.” He returned to Washington following the conference.


Last Updated: 11/26/2014


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