M51-JANUARY 1865

In Washington, the main issues were the abolition of slavery and reconstruction. Rumors spread of peace negotiations, but the opposing governments resisted. A controversial Federal general was replaced, and the last major Confederate seaport came under Federal attack. In the South, desperate command changes were made, and talk increased of using slaves as soldiers.

The House of Representatives upon passage of the Thirteenth Amendment | Image Credit: Harper’s Weekly, Vol. IX, No. 425, 18 Feb 1865

The Dutch Gap Canal Flop

1 Jan – A project on the James River intended to allow Federal naval vessels to get to Richmond ended in failure.

Sherman Plans to Invade South Carolina

3 Jan – William T. Sherman began moving Federal troops north of Savannah in preparation for his impending march into South Carolina.

The Second Fort Fisher Campaign Begins

5 Jan – After failing to capture Fort Fisher in December, Federals prepared to launch another army-navy expedition from Bermuda Hundred and Fort Monroe on the Virginia coast.

Butler Finally Removed

7 Jan – The controversial military career of Federal Major General Benjamin F. Butler finally came to an end.

The Thirteenth Amendment: Debate Begins

9 Jan – The U.S. House of Representatives opened debate on a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery that had been defeated last year.

Sherman Looks to South Carolina

10 Jan – William T. Sherman prepared for what promised to be another devastating Federal march through the southern heartland.

Peace Talks: Blair Arrives in Richmond

12 Jan – Prominent statesman Francis P. Blair, Sr. visited Jefferson Davis at Richmond and proposed a possible peace settlement between North and South.

Fort Fisher: The Bombardment Begins

13 Jan – The largest naval fleet ever assembled by the U.S. arrived off Beaufort, North Carolina, in preparation for a second assault on Fort Fisher.

The Fall of Fort Fisher

15 Jan – The Federal naval bombardment of Fort Fisher on the North Carolina coast entered its third day as Federal land forces prepared a two-pronged attack to capture the stronghold once and for all.

The Fort Fisher Aftermath

16 Jan – Federal troops occupied Fort Fisher, the gateway to the last Confederate seaport at Wilmington, North Carolina.

Special Field Orders No. 15

16 Jan – William T. Sherman issued directives for Federal troops to seize abandoned land along the Atlantic coast and redistribute it to newly freed slaves.

Peace Talks: Lincoln Responds to Davis

18 Jan – Abraham Lincoln met with statesman Francis P. Blair, Sr. and responded to Jefferson Davis’s offer to negotiate an end to the war.

The South Carolina Campaign Begins

19 Jan – William T. Sherman issued orders for his Federal troops to start moving north, out of Savannah and into South Carolina.

Peace Talks: Blair Returns to Richmond

22 Jan – Elder statesman Francis P. Blair, Sr. returned to Richmond to deliver Abraham Lincoln’s letter regarding potential peace negotiations to Jefferson Davis.

Taylor Takes Over the Army of Tennessee

23 Jan – Jefferson Davis accepted the resignation of John Bell Hood as commander of the Army of Tennessee and replaced him with Richard Taylor.

The Confederate General-in-Chief

26 Jan – Jefferson Davis signed a bill into law creating the military rank of general-in-chief of all Confederate armies.

Sherman Turns Toward Columbia

29 Jan – William T. Sherman’s Federals began turning inland, away from the coast, as they inched northward from Savannah into South Carolina.

Peace Talks: The Confederate Envoys Arrive

30 Jan – Three Confederate emissaries crossed the siege lines at Petersburg to meet with Federal officials and discuss a possible end to the war.

The Thirteenth Amendment: The Vote

31 Jan – The U.S. House of Representatives passed a constitutional amendment permanently abolishing slavery in America.

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Last Updated: 1/31/2020

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