July 1863

This was a disastrous month for the Confederacy, which sustained decisive defeats at two key points that permanently turned the tide of the war. The largest battle ever fought in North America took place, and relentless Federal operations continued in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Charleston Harbor. Meanwhile, the North was torn by dissent over the new military draft.

The Battle of Gettysburg

Advance elements of the Federal and Confederate armies clash in southern Pennsylvania, beginning what would grow into the most terrible battle in American history.

The Battle of Gettysburg: Day Two

The Federal and Confederate armies gather south of Gettysburg, where Robert E. Lee launches ferocious attacks on both Federal flanks.

The Battle of Gettysburg: Day Three

Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia launches a massive, desperate charge to destroy the Federal Army of the Potomac once and for all.

Confederates Starving in Vicksburg

The Confederate soldiers and residents under siege in Vicksburg are on the verge of being starved into submission.

The Fall of Vicksburg

John C. Pemberton’s Confederates formally surrender on Independence Day, transferring the mighty stronghold of Vicksburg to Federal hands.

Lee’s Invincibility is Broken

Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia begins retreating from Gettysburg, but the swelling Potomac River threatens to trap Lee in hostile territory.

The Request is Inadmissible

Confederate officials arrive off Hampton Roads, Virginia, to negotiate prisoner exchange terms with the Federals. They are also unofficially authorized to negotiate a possible end to the war.

The Battle of Helena

Confederates in Arkansas try to relieve the Vicksburg garrison by launching a futile attack on the Federal garrison at Helena.

The Slow Conquest of Middle Tennessee

William S. Rosecrans’s Federal Army of the Cumberland captures Tullahoma, but Rosecrans still faces criticism for not moving against Chattanooga fast enough.

Confederates Trapped at Williamsport

Leading elements of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia reach the Potomac River at Williamsport, Maryland, but they soon find the bridges destroyed and the river too high to ford. And the Federal Army of the Potomac is in pursuit.

The Invasion of Morris Island

Federal army-navy forces step up efforts to capture the vital port of Charleston, South Carolina, by focusing on the Confederate batteries on the islands south of the harbor.

If Vigorously Pressed He Must Suffer

Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia reaches the Potomac River, while George G. Meade, commanding the Federal army, is reluctant to pursue.

Preparing for a Vigorous Battle

Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia prepares for a battle against George G. Meade’s Federals while still stranded on the Maryland side of the Potomac River.

From John T. Ketchum, 4th New York Cavalry

Letter from 2nd Lt. John T. Ketchum, Company M, 4th New York Cavalry, to his mother.

The Fall of Port Hudson

Nathaniel P. Banks’s Federal Army of the Gulf captures the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River, opening the waterway to Federal commerce and cutting the Confederacy in two.

The Jackson Campaign

William T. Sherman’s Federals approach the Mississippi capital of Jackson to confront General Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate “Army of Relief.”

From Florence McCarthy, 7th Virginia

Letter from Florence McCarthy, a chaplain for the 7th Virginia Volunteer Infantry, to his sister.

From Edwin Fay, Minden Rangers

Letter from Sgt. Edwin Fay of the Minden Rangers to his wife.

Federals Target Battery Wagner

Federal forces unsuccessfully attack Battery Wagner near Charleston Harbor, and then prepare to try again.

The Fall of Vicksburg: Aftermath

Federal occupation forces complete the parole process at Vicksburg, establish medical relief, and regulate slave relations as news of the city’s capture reaches Washington.

Another Awful Night

George G. Meade prepares his Federal Army of the Potomac to attack, while Robert E. Lee prepares his Confederate Army of Northern Virginia to withdraw.

Morgan’s Raid: The Northern Invasion

Confederate John Hunt Morgan embarks on another Kentucky raid, but this time he crosses the Ohio River and invades the North.

Bad Faith Somewhere

Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia begins withdrawing into Virginia as President Abraham Lincoln laments a missed opportunity.

The New York Draft Riots

Rioting over Federal conscription enters its third day, leaving New York City in the hands of a violent, angry mob.

The Second Fall of Jackson

Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederates abandon Jackson and central Mississippi as William T. Sherman’s superior Federal numbers close in on them.

The Battle of Elk Creek

Federal forces confront the Confederates at Elk Creek near Honey Springs in what becomes the largest battle ever fought in the Indian Territory.

The Battle of Battery Wagner

Federal forces suffer a severe repulse in a second attack on Morris Island south of Charleston, despite a heroic effort by the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry.

Meade Tries Cutting Lee Off

Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia hurries to get through the Blue Ridge, and George G. Meade’s Federal Army of the Potomac hurries to cut them off.

God Help This Unhappy Country

George G. Meade’s Federal Army of the Potomac misses its final opportunity to destroy Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, ending the Gettysburg campaign.

Greatly Tried and Dissatisfied

William S. Rosecrans prepares his Federal Army of the Cumberland to advance on Chattanooga as his superiors continue pressing him to move faster. Meanwhile, Braxton Bragg proposes a concentration of Confederate armies in the Western Theater.

Morgan’s Raid: The Surrender

Confederate John Hunt Morgan and his cavalry troopers surrender to Federal officials after a month-long raid through Indiana and Ohio.

Keeping Up a Threatening Attitude

Both the Federal Army of the Potomac and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia settle into position, as George G. Meade is dissuaded from attacking and Robert E. Lee submits his official report on the Battle of Gettysburg.

Federals Regroup on Morris Island

Federal forces remain on Morris Island to threaten both Battery Wagner and Charleston, South Carolina, but the high command determines that more men are needed to finish the job.

Last Updated: 8/6/2023

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