December 1862

President Abraham Lincoln continued arguing for emancipation, despite increased opposition from most northerners, Democrats, and conservative Republicans. Ulysses S. Grant continued his advance on Vicksburg despite issuing controversial orders. The armies in Tennessee prepared to clash, and the Federals suffered their worst defeat of the war.

President Lincoln’s 1862 Message to Congress

The second session of the lame duck Thirty-seventh U.S. Congress assembles at Washington and receives President Abraham Lincoln’s second annual message.

Your Duty Is Not to Throw Cold Water

Ambrose Burnside proposes to move his Federal Army of the Potomac across the Rappahannock River, while Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia continues strengthening its defenses west of Fredericksburg.

A Race in Northwestern Arkansas

James G. Blunt’s Federals are isolated in northwestern Arkansas, and the race is on to see whether reinforcements or Confederates can reach him first.

The Battle of Prairie Grove

Thomas C. Hindman’s Confederates attack Francis J. Herron’s Federals about 12 miles southwest of Fayetteville, Arkansas, sparking a confusing but brutal 12-hour battle.

Necessity Hurries Me in the Opposite Direction

President Jefferson Davis plans to leave Richmond and inspect the Confederate military situation in Tennessee and Mississippi.

Federals Drive Down the Mississippi

Ulysses S. Grant prepares to continue his Federal drive toward Vicksburg while a detachment under William T. Sherman prepares to move on Vicksburg from the Mississippi, and a Federal gunboat is destroyed by torpedo for the first time.

Fredericksburg: Federals in Motion

Ambrose E. Burnside issues orders to put his Federal Army of the Potomac in motion against Fredericksburg, despite criticism from subordinates that his plan might not succeed.

You Will Hear from Me in Another Quarter

Nathan Bedford Forrest receives orders to wreak havoc on Ulysses S. Grant’s Federal supply lines in western Tennessee.

Fredericksburg: They Want to Get Us in

The pontoon bridges over the Rappahannock River are finally built, and troops of the Federal Army of the Potomac fight their way into Fredericksburg.

Never Was a City More Thoroughly Sacked

The Federal Army of the Potomac crosses the Rappahannock River and loots Fredericksburg, while the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia awaits the enemy’s advance from the heights west of town.

The Battle of Fredericksburg

Ambrose Burnside launches a doomed Federal assault on Robert E. Lee’s Confederate defenses south and west of Fredericksburg.

The Battle of Fredericksburg: Aftermath

Robert E. Lee’s Confederates prepare for a renewed Federal attack on their lines outside Fredericksburg, but Ambrose E. Burnside finally decides to evacuate the town.

Federals Return to Falmouth

The Federal Army of the Potomac withdraws across the Rappahannock River following its humiliating defeat at Fredericksburg, as the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia takes back the devastated town.

The Existing State of Despondency and Desperation

Northerners learn of the true disaster at Fredericksburg, which sparks enough outrage to make this the greatest crisis of the Lincoln presidency to date.

Put Not Your Faith in Princes

President Jefferson Davis continues his tour of the Western Theater, moving from Tennessee to his home state of Mississippi.

The Jewish Exclusion Order

Ulysses S. Grant issues a highly controversial order from his Federal headquarters at Holly Springs, Mississippi.

Republican Dissension at Washington

Republican senators gather in an extraordinary caucus to determine how to better manage the war effort after the terrible defeat at Fredericksburg.

Vicksburg: Federal Command Clarified

Ulysses S. Grant tends to administrative duties in Mississippi, and the question of whether Grant or John A. McClernand would lead a Federal army against Vicksburg is finally clarified by Washington.

A Pumpkin in Each End of the Bag

President Abraham Lincoln meets with the secret Senate Republican caucus committee and shrewdly arranges for the committee members and his cabinet to explain their differences face to face.

The Holly Springs Raid

Earl Van Dorn leads a Confederate cavalry raid that temporarily stops Ulysses S. Grant’s Federal drive on Vicksburg.

Morgan’s Third Kentucky Raid

Confederate Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan embarks on his third Kentucky raid after a successful action against a Federal garrison and a lavish marriage earlier this month.

The Attempt Was Not an Error

President Abraham Lincoln seeks to clarify responsibility for the defeat at Fredericksburg and console the Army of the Potomac, while several generals begin to conspire against their commander.

The Court-Martial of Fitz John Porter

General Fitz John Porter stands trial, ostensibly for disobeying orders, but also because he symbolizes an era in the U.S. army that the Lincoln administration is trying to erase.

Drive Them Out of Their Nests!

Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee remains stationed at Murfreesboro, while the Federal high command pushes William S. Rosecrans to leave Nashville and force Bragg out of Middle Tennessee.

A Busted Army in Arkansas

Following the Battle of Prairie Grove, Federals led by James G. Blunt begin a hard march through the Boston Mountains in an effort to conquer northwestern Arkansas.

The Chickasaw Bluffs Campaign

Confederate forces hurry to defend Chickasaw Bluffs north of Vicksburg, Mississippi, as Federal troops under William T. Sherman struggle to reach them.

The Battle of Chickasaw Bluffs

William T. Sherman launches a costly attack on fortified Confederate defenses northeast of Vicksburg, Mississippi.

The Monitor is No More

The first Federal ironclad spends her last evening above water before foundering off the coast of North Carolina.

The Battle of Stones River

A major battle begins near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, when Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee attacks the Federal army under William S. Rosecrans.

The Battle of Parker’s Crossroads

Federals catch up to Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederate raiders in western Tennessee, but Forrest finds a way to avoid their trap.

Last Updated: 1/2/2023

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