Civil War Timeline and History, from May to August 1864

May 1, 1864—August 31, 1864

The fourth year of the American Civil War continued into the summer of 1864. This timeline covers important moments from May to August, including military and political events that affected the course of the war and the history of the United States.

Civil War Timeline, History, May to August 1864, AHC Original

A timeline of the Civil War, featuring rare images from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated and Harper’s Weekly. The photo is General General Ulysses S. Grant, taken at Cold Harbor, Library of Congress.

10 Moments That Shaped the Civil War

  1. May 4 — General Ulysses S. Grant (USA) started his Overland Campaign against General Robert E. Lee (CSA).
  2. May 7 — General William T. Sherman (USA) started his campaign to capture the city of Atlanta.
  3. May 5 — The Battle of the Wilderness started. It was the 5th bloodiest battle of the war, with an estimated 27,000 casualties.
  4. May 8 — The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House started. It was the 3rd bloodiest battle of the war, with an estimated 31,000 casualties.
  5. May 11 — General J.E.B. Stuart (CSA) was mortally wounded at the Battle of Yellow Tavern.
  6. May 12 — Confederate forces won the Battle of Proctor’s Creek, ending an attempt by Unoin forces to capture Richmond.
  7. May 31 — At the Battle of Cold Harbor, General Grant ordered a Union assault that led to the loss of thousands of his men within 30 minutes. More than 17,000 people died at Cold Harbor.
  8. July 9 — Confederates won the Battle of Monocacy in Maryland, however, the battle gave Union forces time to reinforce Washington, D.C.
  9. June 30 — Outside Petersburg, Union forces detonated explosives near Confederate lines, leading to the Battle of the Crater.
  10. August 29 — Former Union officer George B. McClellan was nominated by the Democratic Party as its candidate for the Presidential Election of 1864.

1864, May

May 5 — Albemarle Sound

North Carolina — The CSS Albemarle engaged 7 Union ships near the mouth of the Roanoke River. The battle’s outcome was essentially a draw, with neither side achieving a decisive victory. During the skirmish, the Union forces managed to recapture the converted steamer Bombshell, while the USS Sassacus sustained significant damage in the exchange of fire.

May 5 — Wilderness

Virginia — The opening battle of General Ulysses S. Grant’s sustained offensive against the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, famously known as the Overland Campaign, took place at the Wilderness from May 5 to May 7, 1864

On the morning of May 5, 1864, the Union V Corps launched an attack against General Robert E. Lee’s army, specifically targeting General Richard Ewell and his corps on the Orange Turnpike. 

That afternoon, another engagement took place when the command of General A.P. Hill met Union forces, including Getty’s Division of the VI Corps and Hancock’s II Corps, on the Plank Road. 

The fighting was incredibly intense, taking place in the dense, challenging terrain of the Wilderness, but ultimately, it resulted in an inconclusive outcome as both sides struggled to maneuver effectively in the forested environment. As night fell, the battle paused, and both sides hurriedly reinforced their positions.

At dawn on May 6, General Winfield Scott Hancock launched an attack along the Plank Road, pushing A.P. Hill back and causing confusion in his ranks. However, General James Longstreet arrived just in time to prevent a collapse of the Confederate right flank. Around noon, a Confederate flank attack in the area known as Hamilton’s Thicket lost momentum after General James Longstreet was wounded by his men.

Battle of the Wilderness, 1864, May 6, Union Line, FL 404
A Union line during the Battle of the Wilderness. Image Source: Frank Leslie’s Scenes and Portraits of the Civil War, 1894.

During this battle, the Union IX Corps, led by General Ambrose Burnside, attacked the Confederate center but was pushed back. During the battle, several officers were killed in action, including Union generals James S. Wadsworth and Alexander Hays, as well as Confederate generals John M. Jones, Micah Jenkins, and Leroy A. Stafford. 

The Battle of the Wilderness is often described as a tactical draw, as neither side achieved a decisive victory. However, Grant refused to fall back, as his predecessors had done. 

On May 7, Grant advanced, executing a left flank maneuver in the direction of the crossroads at Spotsylvania Courthouse, beginning the next phase of the Overland Campaign.

May 6 — Port Walthall Junction

Virginia — While General Ulysses S. Grant was conducting his Overland Campaign, General Benjamin Butler led his Army of the James, with 33,000 troops, to Bermuda Hundred, where they disembarked from their transports on May 5. Butler’s goal was to threaten the Richmond-Petersburg Railroad.

On May 6, Confederate General Johnson Hagood and his brigade successfully stopped the initial attempts Butler made on the railroad at the Battle of Port Walthall Junction

The situation escalated on May 7 when a Union division drove away the commands of General Johnson Hagood and General Bushrod R. Johnson from the depot and subsequently severed the Richmond-Petersburg Railroad at Port Walthall Junction. In response, the Confederates withdrew behind Swift Run Creek, where they waited for reinforcements.

May 7 — Beginning of the Atlanta Campaign

Georgia — With 3 U.S. Armies under his command, General William T. Sherman marched south from Tennessee into Georgia against the Confederate Army of Tennessee under General Joseph Johnston. Sherman’s objective was the capture of the city of Atlanta.

May 7 — Rocky Face Ridge

Georgia — General Joseph E. Johnston entrenched his army on the long, high mountain of Rocky Face Ridge and eastward across Crow Valley. 

As General William T. Sherman approached, he decided to demonstrate against the position with two columns while he sent a third one through Snake Creek Gap, to the right, to hit the Western & Atlantic Railroad at Resaca. The two columns engaged the enemy at Buzzard Roost (Mill Creek Gap) and at Dug Gap. 

Meanwhile, the third Union column, led by General James B. McPherson, passed through Snake Creek Gap. On the 9th, McPherson advanced to the outskirts of Resaca where he found Confederates entrenched. Fearing defeat, McPherson pulled back to Snake Creek Gap. 

On the 10th, Sherman decided to take most of his men and join McPherson to take Resaca. The next morning, Sherman’s army withdrew from in front of Rocky Face Ridge. Discovering Sherman’s movement, Johnston moved south toward Resaca on the 12th, ending the Battle of Rocky Face Ridge.

May 8 — Spotsylvania Court House

Virginia — After the Battle of the Wilderness, General Ulysses S. Grant and General George G. Meade tried to advance on Richmond by shifting their forces to the left flank. However, their progress was halted at Spotsylvania Court House on May 8, starting a two-week-long battle near Spotsylvania.

Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, 1864, May 8, Alsop's Farm, FL 405
Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. Image Source: Frank Leslie’s Scenes and Portraits of the Civil War, 1894.

On May 12–13, Union forces attacked at dawn, at a location called the “Bloody Angle.” The Federals successfully captured nearly an entire division of General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army and came close to cutting the army in half. 

In response, the Confederates launched counterattacks, resulting in nearly 20 hours of battle, which is often regarded as one of the most ferocious battles of the entire Civil War.

On May 19, the Confederates tried to turn the Union right flank at Harris Farm, but they were met with stiff resistance and suffered significant casualties. 

Several notable officers were killed or wounded on both sides, including Union generals John Sedgwick, commander of the VI Corps, and James Rice, and Confederate generals Edward Johnson and George H. Steuart were captured, while Junius Daniel and Albert M. Perrin sustained mortal wounds.

On May 21, Grant disengaged from Spotsylvania and continued his advance on Richmond.

May 9 — Cloyd’s Mountain

Virginia — On May 9, General George Crook (USA) led 3 brigades consisting of approximately 6,100 men on a raid into Southwestern Virginia. Crok’s path crossed with a makeshift Confederate force led by General Albert Jenkins at the Battle of Cloyd’s Mountain

The battle was intense and included close-quarters combat, with soldiers fighting hand-to-hand. As a result, the casualties were high — 10% for the Union and 23% for the Confederates. Jenkins was included in the Confederate casualties and was mortally wounded.

Afterward, Crook joined forces with General William W. Averell, who had destroyed the New River Bridge. Together, they destroyed several railroad bridges and then withdrew to Meadow Bluff.

May 9 — Swift Creek

Virginia — On May 9, General Benjamin Butler made an offensive move towards Petersburg and met resistance from Bushrod Johnson’s Division at the Battle of Swift Creek. There was a premature Confederate attack near Arrowfield Church, but it was stopped by Union forces, leading to significant Confederate casualties. 

However, the Union forces did not pursue their advantage. Instead, Butler’s troops engaged in skirmishes and focused on dismantling the railroad tracks, without mounting a more concerted attack on the defenders.

Meanwhile, 5 Federal gunboats navigated the Appomattox River to bombard Fort Clifton. At the same time, Edward W. Hincks’s division of U.S. Colored Troops infantry struggled through marshy terrain in an attempt to approach the fort from the land side. The Confederates were able to stop the gunboats, and the infantry attack was called off.

May 9Battle of Buzzard’s Roost in Georgia. Union victory.

May 10 — Chester Station

Virginia — Elements of General Robert Ransom’s division conducted a reconnaissance-in-force against a section of General Benjamin Butler’s army that was destroying the railroad at Chester Station. The Confederates launched their attack near the Winfree House, forcing the Federal forces to withdraw back to their defensive lines at Bermuda Hundred. 

May 10 — Cove Mountain

Virginia — General William W. Averell’s raiders engaged a Confederate brigade led by William “Grumble” Jones near Cove Mountain. The Confederates initially slowed down the advance of the Union troops before eventually withdrawing from the area. The next day, Averell’s forces reached the New River Bridge on the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad, and they proceeded to set it on fire, disrupting Confederate transportation in the region.

May 11 — Yellow Tavern

Virginia — During the battles between Grant and Lee at Spotsylvania Court House, General Philip Sheridan led the Union cavalry corps on a daring cavalry raid aimed at disrupting Confederate communications and striking at the heart of Richmond. This expedition reached its climax with the Battle of Yellow Tavern on May 11.

During the battle, the outnumbered Confederate cavalry put up a strong fight but was ultimately defeated, and Major General J.E.B. Stuart, one of the Confederate Army’s most prominent cavalry commanders, was mortally wounded. 

Afterward, Sheridan’s forces continued their operations, moving south to threaten the defenses of Richmond before eventually rejoining General Benjamin Butler at Bermuda Hundred.

May 12 — Proctor’s Creek

Virginia — Following Swift Creek and Fort Clifton on May 9, General Benjamin Butler decided to withdraw to entrenchments at Bermuda Hundred. Meanwhile, a Confederate army of approximately 18,000 men, led by General P.G.T. Beauregard, assembled to confront Butler’s force of 30,000.

On May 12, Butler initiated a northward movement against the Confederate defensive line at Drewry’s Bluff. However, he shifted to a defensive stance when his attack lacked the support of gunboats. The next day, May 13, a Union column launched an assault on the right flank of the Confederate line, successfully capturing some fortifications.

Despite the success, Butler was cautious and did not exploit his advantage, allowing Beauregard the time he needed to concentrate his forces. 

On May 16, at dawn, General Ransom Ransom’s Confederate division launched a fierce attack on Butler’s right flank. This assault led to the routing of many Union units. Although subsequent Confederate attacks became disoriented by fog, the Federal forces were disorganized and demoralized.

After a day of intense fighting, Butler managed to disengage his troops from the battle, withdrawing them once again to the relative safety of his Bermuda Hundred Line. The Battle of Proctor’s Creek ended Butler’s offensive against Richmond.

May 13 — Resaca

Georgia — After General Joseph E. Johnston withdrew from Rocky Face Ridge, he positioned his forces in the hills around Resaca. On May 13, Union troops scouted the area to find the precise location of Johnston’s lines. 

The next day, the Battle of Resaca erupted, resulting in mixed outcomes as the Union forces were generally repulsed, except for a successful push on the Confederate right flank where General William T. Sherman missed an opportunity to exploit an advantage.

Battle of Resaca, 1864, Union Charge, HW
Battle of Resaca. Image Source: Harper’s Weekly, June 18, 1864.

The battle continued on May 15 until Sherman initiated a strategic move. He sent a force across the Oostanula River at Lay’s Ferry, targeting Johnston’s railroad supply line. Unable to prevent this movement, Johnston found himself forced to withdraw from Resaca.

May 15 — New Market

Virginia — As part of his Spring offensive, General Ulysses S. Grant issued orders to General Franz Sigel to lead 10,000 men up the Shenandoah Valley via the Valley Pike. Sigel’s objective was to destroy the railroad and canal infrastructure in Lynchburg, Virginia. 

On May 15, at the Battle of New Market, Sigel’s forces faced off against a Confederate army commanded by General John C. Breckinridge, consisting of approximately 4,100 men.

During the battle, a key moment took place when a vital Union artillery battery was withdrawn from the front line to replenish its ammunition, creating a temporary gap in the line.

Breckinridge exploited the gap and ordered his entire force forward. Sigel’s defense started to crumble under the pressure. Threatened by Confederate cavalry attacks on his left flank and rear, Sigel decided to order a general withdrawal. In the process, he ordered the North Fork bridge to be burned behind his retreating forces.

Following the defeat, Sigel retreated down the Shenandoah Valley to Strasburg, and he was replaced by General David Hunter.

May 16 — Mansura

Louisiana — As General Nathaniel P. Banks and the Red River Expeditionary Force were in the process of retreating down the Red River, Confederates under the command of General Richard Taylor sought to slow the movement of the Union troops and destroy them.

At Mansura, Taylor organized his men on an open prairie that controlled access to 3 roads crossing the area. Taylor intended to use his artillery to inflict casualties on the approaching Union forces. 

In the early hours of May 16, the Union troops closed in on Mansura. Skirmishes broke out and eventually escalated into a 4-hour artillery battle.

During the battle, a substantial Union force assembled for a flank attack, forcing the Confederates to withdraw from their position. As a result, the Union troops were able to advance to Simmsport. 

While Taylor’s troops were still capable of harassing the Union forces during their retreat, they were unable to halt their overall progress.

May 17 — Adairsville

Georgia — After the Battle of Resaca, General Joseph E. Johnston retreated south, with General William T. Sherman in pursuit. While Johnston looked for a suitable defensive position, the Confederate cavalry engaged in a rearguard action to delay the Union advance.

On May 17, skirmishing persisted throughout the day and into the early evening as the Union forces under General Oliver O. Howard and his IV Corps met Confederate infantry entrenched approximately two miles north of Adairsville. 

During this battle, the 44th Illinois and 24th Wisconsin regiments, under the command of Major Arthur MacArthur — the father of General Douglas MacArthur — attacked Cheatham’s Division near the Robert Saxon House — known as the Octagon House — and suffered heavy casualties. Three Union divisions prepared for battle, but General George H. Thomas stopped them due to the approach of darkness.

In response, Sherman concentrated his troops in the area around Adairsville and prepared to attack Johnston the next day. 

Johnston hoped to find a valley near Adairsville that would allow him to anchor his line with flanks on the surrounding hills. However, the valley proved to be too wide, forcing Johnston to disengage and continue his withdrawal, ending the Battle of Adairsville.

May 18 — As part of the Civil War Gold Hoax, the New York World and the New York Journal of Commerce published a fake proclamation that President Abraham Lincoln had issued a draft for 400,000 more soldiers. The scheme was intended to start a financial panic that would raise the price of gold.

May 18 — Yellow Bayou

Louisiana — Following the battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill, General Nathaniel P. Banks and his Union forces found themselves retreating and reached the Atchafalaya River on May 17. 

Crossing this river would give them protection from Confederate harassment. However, they had to wait for the army engineers to construct a bridge to facilitate their crossing.

On May 18, Banks received information that General Richard Taylor was near Yellow Bayou. In response, he ordered Brigadier General A.J. Smith to take action to stop Taylor’s advance. Smith, in turn, directed Brigadier General Joseph A. Mower to engage Taylor.

The Union troops launched an attack and initially succeeded in driving the Confederates back toward their main defensive line. However, the Confederates counterattacked, forcing the Federals to give ground. This back-and-forth action continued for several hours until the ground cover caught fire, forcing both sides to withdraw, ending the battle — and the Red River Campaign.

May 20 — Ware Bottom Church

Virginia General P.G.T. Beauregard (CSA) attacked General Benjamin Butler (USA) at the Bermuda Hundred line near Ware Bottom Church. Approximately 10,000 troops were engaged in the Battle of Ware Bottom Church

Beauregard pushed back Butler’s advanced pickets and subsequently constructed what became known as the Howlett Line. This defensive line effectively confined the Federal troops within the Bermuda Hundred area.

The Confederate victories at Proctor’s Creek and Ware Bottom Church allowed General Beauregard to detach substantial reinforcements, which were sent to support General Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia in time for the upcoming battles at Cold Harbor.

Robert E. Lee, General, CSA, Civil War, HW
General Robert E. Lee (CSA). Image Source: Harper’s Weekly, July 2, 1864.

May 23 — North Anna

Virginia — After Spotsylvania Court House, General Ulysses S. Grant continued his Overland Campaign against General Robert E. Lee. However, his advance was halted at the North Anna River by Lee’s strategically positioned defensive line, known as the “Hog Snout Line.” This defensive formation forced Grant to divide his army into 3 separate parts to launch attacks.

On May 23, one of General A.P. Hill’s divisions attacked the Union V Corps, which had crossed the North Anna River at Jericho Mill. The first day of the Battle of North Anna was fierce and bloody, with both sides gaining and losing ground throughout the day.

The next day, May 24, Union infantry tried to advance at Ox Ford — the snout of the Confederate line — but were pushed back. However, they managed to advance near the Doswell House, which was on the Confederate right flank. Despite opportunities for a successful offensive strike, General Lee was not feeling physically well at the time, and the chance to defeat an isolated portion of Grant’s army was missed.

Once the threat posed by Lee’s defensive position became apparent, Grant decided to withdraw both wings of his army back across the North Anna River. He then devised a plan to outflank the Lee’s position by moving downstream to continue his advance toward Richmond.

May 24 — The Battle of Wilson’s Wharf took place in Virginia. Union forces won the battle.

May 25 — New Hope Church

Georgia — After General Joseph E. Johnston retreated to Allatoona Pass on May 19–20, General William T. Sherman recognized launching an attack against Johnston at that location would likely result in heavy casualties for his forces. Instead, Sherman devised a plan to maneuver around Johnston’s left flank and gain a strategic advantage by marching toward Dallas.

However, Johnston anticipated Sherman’s move and intercepted him at New Hope Church. Sherman mistakenly believed that Johnston only had a small force in place and ordered Major General Joseph Hooker to launch an attack. The assault failed and Hooker’s men suffered significant casualties at the Battle of New Hope Church.

On May 26, both sides entrenched their positions, and skirmishing continued on the 27th with the Battle of Pickett’s Mill.

May 26 — The U.S. Congress organized the Montana Territory out of the Washington Territory and Dakota Territory.

May 27 — Pickett’s Mill

Georgia — Following the Union defeat at New Hope Church, General William T. Sherman directed General Oliver O. Howard to attack General Joseph E. Johnston’s seemingly vulnerable right flank. However, the Confederates were well-prepared and were able to push back the attack at the Battle of Pickett’s Mill.

May 28 — Dallas

Georgia — After falling back from the vicinity of Cassville-Kinston, General Joseph E. Johnston retreated to Allatoona Pass and then to the Dallas area, where he established defensive fortifications. General William T. Sherman conducted probing actions against the Confederate lines while also fortifying his positions.

On May 28, General William J. Hardee launched an attack against the Union defensive line held by General John A. Logan and his corps from the Army of the Tennessee. Hardee’s objective was to exploit any weaknesses or provoke a possible withdrawal by the Union forces. Fierce fighting took place at two different points along the lines, but the Confederates were ultimately pushed back during the Battle of Dallas.

Sherman, meanwhile, continued his efforts to find a way around Johnston’s defensive line. On June 1, his cavalry successfully occupied Allatoona Pass, a strategic location with a railroad connection that allowed men and supplies to reach him by train. This forced Johnston to abandon his positions at Dallas and pursue Sherman’s forces as they advanced toward Allatoona Pass.

May 28 — Totopotomoy Creek

Virginia — Operations along Totopotomoy Creek started with cavalry engagements at the Pamunkey River crossing at Dabney’s Ferry (Hanovertown) and at Crump’s Creek on May 27. These skirmishes escalated the Battle of Totopotomoy Creek as more Union and Confederate infantry units arrived in the area.

The Battle of Haw’s Shop on May 28 saw cavalry forces from both sides engaged in combat, and the Confederates took up defensive positions behind Totopotomoy Creek.

On May 29, Union forces from the II, IX, and V Corps probed General Robert E. Lee’s positions along Totopotomoy Creek. 

Meanwhile, the VI Corps moved toward Hanover Court House and started to pivot southward on the morning of May 30, attempting to reach the far right flank of the Union line held by the II Corps. However, they found swampy terrain around Crump’s Creek, which slowed their progress. 

The II Corps managed to cross Totopotomoy Creek at two locations and captured the first line of Confederate trenches but faced resistance at the main line.

The IX Corps also moved into position on the left of the II Corps, pushing Confederate pickets back along the Shady Grove Road. Meanwhile, the V Corps, positioned near Bethesda Church on the far left flank of the Union army, was attacked by General Jubal Early. After heavy fighting, the Federals were forced to retreat to the Shady Grove Road.

Battle of Totopotomoy Creek, 1863, May 30, FL 403
Battle of Totopotomoy Creek. Image Source: Frank Leslie’s Scenes and Portraits of the Civil War, 1894.

May 28 — Haw’s Shop

Virginia General David Gregg (USA) and his cavalry division, with support from Alfred Torbert’s division, played a crucial role in covering the Army of the Potomac’s movements during the crossing of the Pamunkey River and its advance toward Totopotomoy Creek.

As the Federal forces moved, they met resistance from Confederate cavalry divisions led by Fitzhugh Lee and Wade Hampton. Later in the engagement, Matthew C. Butler’s South Carolina brigade reinforced the Confederate cavalry. 

The battle unfolded at Enon Church and involved dismounted cavalry fighting for approximately 7 hours. During this time, the Federal advance was stopped by the Confederates. 

Additionally, both Confederate and Union infantry units started to arrive, setting the stage for subsequent actions in the area.

May 30 — Old Church

Virginia — As the armies remained in a stalemate along the Totopotomoy Creek line, Union cavalry looked for opportunities to attack to the east and south.

On May 30, Alfred Torbert’s Division, part of the Union cavalry, launched an attack against Matthew C. Butler’s Brigade near Old Church. This resulted in a victory for Torbert, who steadily pushed Butler’s Brigade back along the road leading to Old Cold Harbor.

This set the stage for Philip Sheridan to capture the crossroads at Old Cold Harbor on May 31. 

May 31 — Cold Harbor

Virginia — General Philip Sheridan’s cavalry made a significant move by capturing the strategically important crossroads at Old Cold Harbor. 

Early on June 1, they faced a Confederate infantry attack but managed to defend themselves. Later that day, the Union VI and XVIII Corps reached Cold Harbor and launched an assault on the Confederate works. 

Battle of Cold Harbor, 1864, June 1, Union Advance, FL 387
Battle of Cold Harbor. Image Source: Frank Leslie’s Scenes and Portraits of the Civil War, 1894.

By June 2, both armies were fully deployed at the Battle of Cold Harbor, forming a front that extended for 7 miles, stretching from Bethesda Church to the Chickahominy River.

At dawn on June 3, the II and XVIII Corps, followed later by the IX Corps, launched a massive assault along the line between Bethesda Church and Cold Harbor. Unfortunately, the attack resulted in heavy casualties, and General Ulysses S. Grant later noted in his memoirs that it was the one attack he regretted ordering.

The armies remained in confrontation along these lines until the night of June 12 when Grant initiated another movement, this time shifting his army to the left flank and advancing towards the James River. 

By June 14, the II Corps had been ferried across the river at Wilcox’s Landing using transports, and the rest of the army started crossing on a lengthy pontoon bridge at Weyanoke on June 15. This maneuver was part of Grant’s strategy to bypass the well-fortified approaches to Richmond and instead position his forces south of the James River to threaten Petersburg.

1864, June

June 5 — Piedmont

Virginia — After taking command of Union forces in the Shenandoah Valley, General David “Black Dave” Hunter wasted no time in resuming the Union offensive. On June 5, Hunter’s forces engaged Confederate troops led by William E. “Grumble” Jones north of Piedmont. 

The Battle of Piedmont was fierce, but a well-executed flanking maneuver by Joseph Thoburn’s brigade turned Jones’s right flank. Jones was killed while attempting to rally his retreating soldiers, and the retreat soon turned into a rout. 

Afterward, Hunter occupied Staunton on June 6. After a brief pause to await the arrival of General George Crook and his column, Hunter resumed his advance towards Lynchburg, systematically destroying military stores and public property along the way.

June 6 — Old River Lake

Arkansas — Under the orders of General A.J. Smith, General Joseph A. Mower was tasked with conducting a demonstration near Lake Village. 

On the evening of June 5, Mower’s forces camped near Sunnyside Landing, and they resumed their march the following morning. As they advanced, skirmishing took place with Confederates who eventually fell back to Red Leaf, where Colonel Colton Greene and his men were encamped.

The Confederates, with the assistance of artillery, engaged in a delaying action at Ditch Bayou and then withdrew to Parker’s Landing on Bayou Mason. The Union troops continued their advance, reaching Lake Village, where they camped overnight. The next day, they rejoined the flotilla on the Mississippi River at Columbia. 

While the Confederates delayed the Union advance, they ultimately allowed the Union forces to reach their objective: Lake Village.

June 8 — Abraham Lincoln was nominated for a second term as President by the Republican Party.

June 9 — Petersburg, First Battle

Virginia — On June 9, General Benjamin Butler sent about 4,500 cavalry and infantry against the 2,500 Confederates of Petersburg.

While Butler’s infantry demonstrated against the outer line of entrenchments east of Petersburg, August Kautz and his cavalry tried to enter the city from the south via the Jerusalem Plank Road but were pushed back by Home Guards. Afterward, Butler withdrew. 

The First Battle of Petersburg was called the “battle of old men and young boys” by local residents. 

On June 14–17, the Army of the Potomac crossed the James River and started moving toward Petersburg to support and renew Butler’s assaults.

June 9 — Marietta Operations

Georgia — By June 9, General Joe Johnston and the Confederate Army of the Tennessee were entrenched around Marietta, Georgia. For three weeks, General Willliam T. Sherman engaged Johnston in a series of battles around Marietta, eventually forcing Johnston to withdraw on July 3.

June 10 — The Battle of Wilson’s Wharftook place near Kennesaw, Georgia. Confederates won the battle.

June 10 — Brice’s Cross Roads

Mississippi — In early June 1864, General Nathan Bedford Forrest (CSA) embarked on a campaign with his cavalry corps, comprising approximately 2,000 men. His objective was to enter Middle Tennessee and disrupt the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad, which was crucial for transporting troops and supplies to Major General William T. Sherman’s forces in Georgia.

On June 10, 1864, Forrest’s Confederates achieved a remarkable victory at the Battle of Brice’s Cross Roads. Despite being outnumbered, Forrest’s smaller force defeated a much larger Union column commanded by Brigadier General Samuel Sturgis. This tactical triumph against significant odds solidified Forrest’s reputation as one of the most skilled mounted infantry leaders of the Civil War.

June 11 — Cynthiana

Kentucky — At dawn on June 11, General John Hunt Morgan and his raiders approached Cynthiana. Facing them were Union forces led by Colonel Conrad Garis, consisting of the 168th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry and some home guard troops, totaling around 300 men. 

John Hunt Morgan, General, CSA, Civil War, FL
General John Hunt Morgan (CSA). Image Source: Frank Leslie’s Scenes and Portraits of the Civil War, 1894.

Morgan divided his troops into 3 columns, effectively surrounding the town. He initiated an attack at the covered bridge, driving the Union forces back towards the depot and north along the railroad. During the fighting, the Confederates set fire to the town, destroying numerous buildings, and leading to the deaths of Union troops.

As the battle escalated, another Union force arrived by train, about a mile north of Cynthiana at Kellar’s Bridge. This force, approximately 750 men from the 171st Ohio National Guard under the command of General Edward Hobson, was subsequently trapped by Morgan along a meander of the Licking River. 

After some fighting, Morgan forced Hobson to surrender. Overall, Morgan had taken around 1,300 Union prisoners of war, who camped with him overnight in a line of battle.

The next day, June 12, General Stephen Gano Burbridge led 2,400 men, a combined force of mounted infantry and cavalry from Ohio, Kentucky, and Michigan, in an attack against Morgan at dawn. 

Burbridge drove Morgan back, forcing him to retreat into the town, where many of his men were captured or killed. Morgan managed to escape.

June 11 — Trevilian Station

Virginia — To divert the Confederate cavalry’s attention and create an opportunity for a larger movement toward the James River, General Philip Sheridan executed a substantial cavalry raid into Louisa County. The main objective was to threaten the Virginia Central Railroad to sever this vital Confederate supply line. 

On June 11, Sheridan, leading the divisions of Gregg and Torbert, launched an attack against the Confederate cavalry divisions commanded by Wade Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee at Trevilian Station.

At the start of the Battle of Trevilian Station, Sheridan managed to drive a wedge between the Confederate divisions, creating confusion and disarray among their ranks. 

However, Confederate fortunes changed the next day, June 12. Hampton and Lee decided to dismount their cavalry and establish a defensive line that spanned both the railroad and the road to Gordonsville. This position gave them a significant advantage, allowing them to stop several assaults by Sheridan’s forces. Ultimately, Sheridan withdrew after successfully destroying approximately 6 miles of the Virginia Central Railroad. 

The Confederate victory prevented Sheridan from reaching Charlottesville and cooperating with General David Hunter’s army in the Shenandoah Valley. 

June 12 — General Ulysses S. Grant withdrew his troops from Cold Harbor, Virginia, and marched south.

June 14Battle of Pine Mountain in Georgia. Union victory.

June 15 — Petersburg, Second Battle

Virginia — Following their march from Cold Harbor, General George G. Meade (USA) and his Army of the Potomac (USA) successfully crossed the James River using a combination of transports and a substantial 2,200-foot-long pontoon bridge located at Windmill Point. 

Meanwhile, General Benjamin Butler’s led Union forces, consisting of the XVIII Corps and August Kautz’s cavalry, crossed the Appomattox River at Broadway Landing and initiated an attack on the defenses of Petersburg on June 15.

The Confederate garrison at Petersburg, numbering approximately 5,400 soldiers and commanded by General P.G.T. Beauregard, was initially driven back from their line of entrenchments to a position near Harrison Creek. As night fell, the XVIII Corps was relieved by the II Corps.

On June 16, the II Corps captured another section of the Confederate defensive line, while the IX Corps made further gains on June 17. Beauregard, in response to the escalating threat, redirected forces away from the Howlett Line (Bermuda Hundred) to bolster the city’s defenses, and General Robert E. Lee sent reinforcements from the Army of Northern Virginia to assist in the defense of Petersburg.

The situation reached a critical juncture on June 18 when the II, XI, and V Corps, advancing from right to left, launched an attack. However, they were stopped by the Confederates, resulting in heavy casualties. 

By then, the Confederate works were heavily manned, and the Union’s greatest opportunity to capture Petersburg without resorting to a prolonged siege was lost. This marked the commencement of the Siege of Petersburg.

June 15 — Arlington National Cemetery was established, when 200 acres on the grounds of Robert E. Lee’s estate — Arlington House — were officially set aside as a military cemetery, by U.S. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton.

June 14Battle of Gilgal Church in Georgia. Inconclusive.

June 17 — Lynchburg

Virginia — General David Hunter’s campaign against Lynchburg saw him advancing from Lexington to target the Confederate rail and canal depots, as well as the hospital complex in Lynchburg. 

Hunter reached the outskirts of Lynchburg on June 17, 1864, and initially launched tentative attacks on the city’s defenses. However, their efforts were thwarted by the timely arrival of General Jubal A. Early’s II Corps vanguard from Charlottesville, which arrived via train.

Facing critical shortages of supplies and faced with the arrival of Confederate reinforcements, Hunter withdrew on June 18. 

The withdrawal involved sporadic fighting as Hunter’s forces retreated. Importantly, this retreat took them out of the war for nearly a month, making the Shenandoah Valley vulnerable to a Confederate advance into Maryland.

Hunter’s plan to capture Lynchburg failed, and his retreat opened up the Shenandoah Valley to the Confederates, allowing them to move northward and pose a threat to Maryland.

June 19 — Cherbourg

France — The USS Kearsarge sank the Confederate raider CSS Alabama near Cherbourg, France.

June 21 — Jerusalem Plank Road

Virginia — On June 21, the Union II Corps, with support from the VI Corps, launched an operation aimed at cutting the Weldon Railroad, a crucial supply line into Petersburg, Virginia. Before the infantry moved in, Union cavalry went ahead and destroyed sections of the railroad.

However, on June 22, Confederate troops under the command of General William Mahone, part of General A.P. Hill’s corps, launched a counterattack against the Union forces, and the Battle of Jerusalem Plank Road continued. 

This counterattack succeeded in driving the II Corps away from the railroad, forcing them to fall back to positions along the Jerusalem Plank Road. While the Federals were pushed back from their advanced positions, they still managed to extend their siege lines farther to the west.

June 22 — Union forces started the Wilson-Kautz Raid in Central Virginia. It was part of the Petersburg Campaign.

June 22 — Kolb’s Farm

Georgia — On the night of June 18-19, General Joseph E. Johnston, concerned about the possibility of being outflanked by Union forces, ordered his Confederate army to move to a new defensive position. This new position was established along the arc-shaped line, including Kennesaw Mountain, located west of Marietta. The primary objective was to safeguard the Confederate supply line, the Western & Atlantic Railroad.

As General William T. Sherman’s Union forces engaged entrenched Confederate troops positioned along Kennesaw Mountain and stretching to the south, Sherman devised a plan to fix the Confederate troops in place while extending his right wing to threaten their flank and the critical railroad line. In response, Johnston ordered General John B. Hood’s corps to move from the Confederate left flank to the right, positioning them at Mt. Zion Church.

Battle of Kolb's Farm, 1864, June 22, Union Artillery at Kennesaw Mountain, FL 422
Union artillery on Kennesaw Mountain, during the Battle of Kolb’s Farm. Image Source: Frank Leslie’s Scenes and Portraits of the Civil War, 1894.

However, on June 22, Hood launched an attack without direct orders from Johnston. When Union generals John Schofield and Joseph Hooker received warnings of Hood’s impending assault, they quickly established defensive entrenchments. 

Hood’s attack failed and he was forced to withdraw from the Battle of Kolb’s Farm.

June 24 — Saint Mary’s Church

Virginia — On June 24, General Wade Hampton’s Confederate cavalry tried to intercept and cut off General Philip Sheridan’s Union cavalry as they were returning from their raid on Trevilian Station. In response, Sheridan executed a delaying action to protect a long supply train that was with him.

Sheridan’s cavalry successfully engaged Hampton’s forces at the Battle of Saint Mary’s Church, slowing the Confederate pursuit and buying time for the supply train to make its way to safety. 

Afterward, Sheridan’s cavalry rejoined the Union army stationed at Bermuda Hundred, where they could continue their operations in support of the Union forces in that area.

June 25 — Staunton River Bridge

Virginia — On June 22, as part of their mission to disrupt Confederate rail communications, the cavalry divisions commanded by General James Wilson and General August Kautz were sent from the Petersburg lines. Their objective was to target vital Confederate railroads to disrupt the transportation of supplies and reinforcements.

Riding via Dinwiddie Court House, the raiders managed to cut the South Side Railroad near Ford’s Station on the evening of June 22. This operation involved the destruction of tracks, railroad buildings, and even two supply trains, significantly impacting the Confederate logistical efforts.

On June 23, Wilson’s forces proceeded to the junction of the Richmond & Danville Railroad at Burke Station where they met elements of William H.F. Lee’s Confederate cavalry, positioned between Nottoway Court House and Blacks and Whites (modern-day Blackstone). Despite the Confederate resistance, Wilson and Kautz continued their campaign along the South Side Railroad, dismantling approximately thirty miles of track as they advanced.

On June 24, while Kautz remained engaged in skirmishes around Burkeville, Wilson’s forces crossed over to Meherrin Station on the Richmond & Danville Railroad, where they initiated track destruction. 

The next day, June 25, Wilson and Kautz persisted in their efforts, continuing to tear up tracks heading southward towards the Staunton River Bridge.

However, at the Staunton River Bridge, they met Home Guards who prevented the destruction of the bridge. Additionally, Lee’s Confederate cavalry division closed in on the Union raiders from the northeast, putting additional pressure on them. Eventually, the Union raiders were forced to withdraw from the Battle of Staunton River Bridge and their mission to destroy the bridge failed.

June 27 — Kennesaw Mountain

Georgia — On the night of June 18–19, General Joseph E. Johnston, concerned about the potential for envelopment by Union forces, made the strategic decision to withdraw his Confederate army to a new defensive position. This new entrenched line was located astride Kennesaw Mountain, situated to the north and west of Marietta, Georgia. The primary objective of this defensive position was to safeguard the Western & Atlantic Railroad, which served as a critical supply link to the city of Atlanta.

Before the withdrawal, General William T. Sherman engaged and defeated General John B. Hood at Kolb’s Farm on June 22. The victory led Sherman to believe that Johnston’s defensive line had been stretched too thin, prompting Sherman to plan a frontal assault on the Confederate positions, with some diversions on the flanks.

On the morning of June 27, Sherman ordered his troops to advance following an artillery bombardment. Initially, Union forces made progress by overrunning Confederate pickets positioned south of the Burnt Hickory Road. However, attempting to attack a well-entrenched enemy proved to be difficult. The intense fighting ended by noon, and Sherman’s forces withdrew from the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain.

June 28 — Sappony Church

Virginia — General William H.F. “Rooney” Lee’s cavalry division pursued Wilson’s and Kautz’s raiders, who had been unable to destroy the Staunton River Bridge on June 25.

Wilson and Kautz opted to head east, and on June 28, they crossed the Nottoway River at the Double Bridges and started moving north towards Stony Creek Depot, located on the Weldon Railroad. At this point, they were attacked by Major General Wade Hampton’s cavalry division. Later in the day, Lee joined forces with Hampton, increasing the pressure on Union forces.

As night fell, Wilson and Kautz decided to disengage from the Confederate pursuit and moved north along the Halifax Road, ending the Battle of Sappony Church. Their primary objective was to reach Reams Station, where they hoped to find security. Unfortunately, this decision left behind many fleeing slaves who had sought refuge with the Union troops.

June 29 — Ream’s Station, First Battle

Virginia — In the early morning of June 29, General August Kautz’s division arrived at Ream’s Station on the Weldon Railroad, expecting to find Union infantry holding the position. However, to their surprise, they met General William Mahone’s Confederate infantry division blocking their path. Meanwhile, Wilson’s division was engaged in a fight with elements of William H.F. “Rooney” Lee’s cavalry nearby. The two Union divisions, Kautz’s and Wilson’s, found themselves nearly surrounded.

Around noon, Mahone’s infantry launched a frontal assault on the Union forces, while Lee’s cavalry threatened the left flank of the Union position. Faced with overwhelming odds, the Union raiders decided to burn their wagons and abandon their artillery to make a quick retreat from the First Battle of Ream’s Station

During the Confederate attacks, Wilson and his men managed to cut their way through the enemy lines and escape southward along the Stage Road. Kautz took a different route, traveling cross-country until he reached Federal lines at Petersburg around dusk.

Wilson continued his east, eventually reaching the Blackwater River before turning north. Finally, he made his way back to Union lines at Light House Point on July 2. 

While the Wilson-Kautz raid successfully disrupted rail traffic into Petersburg by tearing up over 60 miles of track, it came at a significant cost in terms of casualties and lost equipment, both in terms of men and horses.

Wilson-Kautz Raid, 1864, Return to Virginia, HW
This illustration depicts the Wilson-Kautz expedition returning to Virginia. Image Source: Harper’s Weekly, August 6, 1864.

1864, July

July 9 — Monocacy

Maryland — Following their march north through the Shenandoah Valley, the Confederate army under the command of General Jubal A. Early made a strategic move by bypassing the Federal garrison at Harpers Ferry. They then crossed the Potomac River at Shepherdstown, entering Maryland on July 5-6, 1864. Recognizing the threat posed by Early’s invading Confederate divisions, a makeshift Union force led by General Lew Wallace tried to intercept them along the Monocacy River, east of Frederick, on July 9, 1864.

Wallace’s forces, bolstered by the timely arrival of General James B. Ricketts’s Division from the VI Corps, which had been sent from the Petersburg front, put up a valiant defense but were ultimately outflanked by John B. Gordon’s Division and defeated. 

Hearing of Early’s incursion into Maryland, General Ulysses S. Grant ordered the remaining divisions of the VI Corps to embark on transports at City Point and sent them to reinforce the defenses of Washington, D.C.

Early’s advance reached the outskirts of Washington on the afternoon of July 11, 1864. Fortunately, the VI Corps started disembarking that evening, bolstering the city’s defenses. 

The Battle of Monocacy, though a Union defeat, bought crucial time for the arrival of these reinforcements, earning it the nickname “the Battle that Saved Washington.”

July 11 — Fort Stevens

District of Columbia — On July 11, Confederates led by General Jubal A. Early reached the outskirts of Washington, D.C., near Silver Spring. Confederate skirmishers advanced to assess the fortifications, which at that time were manned primarily by Home Guards, clerks, and convalescent troops. That night, the Union VI Corps arrived to help defend Washington.

Battle of Fort Stevens, 1864, July 12, Union Forces, FL 414
Union forces in the vicinity of the Battle of Fort Stevens. Image Source: Frank Leslie’s Scenes and Portraits of the Civil War, 1894.

On July 12, 1864, Early was finally in a position to launch a strong demonstration against the city’s defenses, but this effort was repulsed by the battle-hardened Union troops. In the afternoon, units from the VI Corps executed a sortie against the Confederate skirmishers, driving them back from their advanced positions in front of Forts Stevens and DeRussy. President Abraham Lincoln observed the action from Fort Stevens and even came under fire from Confederate sharpshooters.

Recognizing that the Union capital was now well defended, Early abandoned hope of capturing the city. Under the cover of darkness, Early withdrew, marching toward White’s Ford on the Potomac River, ending the Battle of Fort Stevens and his invasion of Maryland. 

Early remarked to his staff officers, “We didn’t take Washington, but we scared Abe Lincoln like Hell.”

July 14 — Tupelo

Mississippi — General A.J. Smith led a combined force of over 14,000 men on a campaign that started on July 5, departing from LaGrange, Tennessee, and heading south. Smith’s goal was to prevent General Nathan B. Forrest and his cavalry from conducting raids on railroads in Middle Tennessee that were being used to ship supplies to General William T. Sherman’s army..

As he advanced, Smith laid waste to the countryside. By July 11, Smith reached Pontotoc, Mississippi. Forrest was stationed nearby in Okolona, commanding approximately 6,000 troops. However, his superior officer, General Stephen D. Lee, instructed Forrest not to attack until he received reinforcements. Two days later, on July 13, Smith, fearing a potential ambush, decided to change course and moved eastward toward Tupelo.

On the previous day, Lee arrived near Pontotoc with an additional 2,000 troops and assumed command of the entire Confederate force. Lee engaged Smith within two miles of the Union troops during the night of July 13. Lee ordered an attack at 7:30 a.m. the following morning, launching several uncoordinated assaults against the Union forces. However, the Union troops successfully stopped these attacks.

After a few hours of fighting, Lee decided to withdraw. Facing shortages of rations and supplies, Smith opted not to pursue the retreating Confederates and decided to return to Memphis on July 15. 

Smith was criticized for not destroying Forrest’s command, but his campaign had caused substantial damage and achieved the primary goal of protecting Sherman’s supply lines.

July 17 — General John Bell Hood replaced General Joseph Johnston as commander of the Army of Tennessee, signaling a new Confederate strategy against Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign.

July 17 — Cool Spring

Virginia — A Union column, comprising the VI Corps and elements of the XIX Corps under the command of General Horatio Wright, embarked on the pursuit of General Jubal A. Early’s Confederate army as it withdrew from the vicinity of Washington, D.C. 

Additionally, Wright received reinforcements from General George Crook’s command, which had accompanied General David Hunter during his retreat through West Virginia.

On the morning of July 18, the vanguard of the Union infantry started its movement through Snickers Gap. Colonel Joseph Thoburn, who belonged to Crook’s command, led his division downstream to cross the river at Judge Richard Parker’s Ford.

In response, Early’s forces, consisting of 3 infantry divisions, positioned themselves to defend the river fords. In the afternoon, Robert E. Rodes’s division launched an attack on Thoburn’s right flank near the Cool Spring plantation. This assault proved successful in shattering Thoburn’s right flank. However, Thoburn managed to establish a defensive position behind a stone wall at the river’s edge where he stopped 3 subsequent Confederate attacks until darkness fell, allowing him to execute a successful withdrawal.

The engagement at Cool Spring caused a delay in the Union pursuit of Early’s army, slowing down their efforts by several days.

July 18 — President Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for the conscription of 500,000 men, for the Union Army.

July 20 — Peachtree Creek

Georgia — General Joseph E. Johnston and the Army of Tennessee had retreated to positions south of Peachtree Creek, a stream flowing from east to west, located approximately 3 miles north of Atlanta. 

Facing this strong defensive line, General William T. Sherman devised a plan to capture Atlanta by dividing his army into 3 columns. General George H. Thomas commanded the Army of the Cumberland and was tasked with moving in from the north.

Johnston planned to launch an attack against Thomas’s forces. However, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, concerned about the perceived defensive strategy and slow withdrawal, relieved Johnston of his command and replaced him with General John B. Hood.

Hood wasted no time and attacked Thomas as crossed Peachtree Creek. The Confederate assault was fierce, posing a significant threat to various sections of the Union line. Despite the intensity of the Confederate attacks, the Union forces managed to hold their ground, and the Confederates withdrew.

July 20 — Rutherford’s Farm

Virginia — On July 20, General William W. Averell’s Union division launched a surprise attack on General Stephen D. Ramseur’s Confederate division at Rutherford’s and Carter’s farms. The Confederates were caught off-guard and fled in disarray toward Winchester. Following this defeat, General Jubal Early decided to withdraw his army to a defensive position at Fisher’s Hill.

July 22 — Atlanta

Georgia — After the Battle of Peachtree Creek, General John Bell Hood decided to launch an attack on Major General James B. McPherson and his Army of the Tennessee (USA). To prepare, Hood ordered his main army to withdraw under the cover of night from Atlanta’s outer defensive line to the inner line, which lured General William T. Sherman’s Union forces to pursue. 

Meanwhile, Bell sent General William J. Hardee on a 15-mile march to attack the vulnerable Union left and rear, located east of Atlanta. Additionally, General Joseph Wheeler and his cavalry were sent to disrupt Sherman’s supply lines, and General Frank Cheatham’s corps was to assault the Union front.

However, Hood’s plan faltered as Hardee’s corps was unable to launch its attack until the afternoon. Although Hood initially outmaneuvered Sherman, McPherson, grew concerned about the security of his left flank and sent reserves to strengthen it, including Grenville Dodge’s XVI Corps. However, two of Hood’s divisions engaged Dodge, preventing him from reinforcing the left flank.

The Confederate offensive met resistance on the Union rear but gradually made progress against the left flank, however, the Union forces held their ground. 

Around 4:00 p.m., Cheatham’s corps breached the Union front at the Hurt House. In response, Sherman concentrated 20 artillery pieces on a knoll near his headquarters, using them to shell the advancing Confederates and halt their advance. 

General John A. Logan and the XV Army Corps then executed a counterattack, successfully reestablishing the Union defensive line. Ultimately, the Union troops held their position, and Hood’s army sustained heavy casualties at the Battle of Atlanta.

A Confederate soldier fatally shot McPherson while he was observing the battle. 

July 24 — Kernstown, Second Battle

Virginia General Horatio Wright (USA), under the belief that General Jubal A. Early’s Confederate army was no longer a significant threat in the Shenandoah Valley, decided to stop pursuing Early.

Wright issued orders for the VI and XIX Corps to return to Washington, D.C. These corps would be transferred to the command of General Ulysses S. Grant, who was stationed before Petersburg, Virginia. 

While Wright withdrew the majority of his forces, he left General George Crook in charge of 3 divisions and some cavalry to maintain a presence at Winchester. However, Early had received orders to prevent any reinforcements from reaching Grant in Petersburg, leading him to march north on July 24 to engage Crook. 

The Second Battle of Kernstown started at Pritchard’s Hill, and the Union line held for about an hour before collapsing. In the battle, Colonel James Mulligan, who was commanding Crook’s 3rd Division, suffered a mortal wound. Rutherford B. Hayes, who would later become President of the United States, led a brigade during this battle against the Confederates led by John C. Breckinridge.

Following this Union defeat and the subsequent burning of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, on July 30 by Confederates, Grant decided to recall the VI and XIX Corps to the Shenandoah Valley and appointed General Philip Sheridan as commander of Union forces in the region. 

Sheridan was trusted with the task of defeating Early in the Shenandoah Valley.

July 27 — Deep Bottom, First Battle

Virginia — On the night of July 26–27, the Union II Corps, along with two divisions of cavalry commanded by General Winfield Scott Hancock, crossed the James River to the north side. This move was intended to divert the Confederates away from the impending Union attack on Petersburg, which was scheduled for July 30.

As part of the diversion, Union forces also tried to turn the Confederate position at New Market Heights and Fussell’s Mill. However, their efforts were abandoned when the Confederates significantly reinforced their defensive lines and mounted a counterattack.

By the night of July 29, the Union troops completed their withdrawal across the river, with a garrison left behind to secure the bridgehead at Deep Bottom. The First Battle of Deep Bottom had served its purpose by distracting the Confederates and helping to set the stage for the main assault on Petersburg.

July 28 — Ezra Church

Georgia — In July, General William T. Sherman devised a new strategy to capture Atlanta. His forces had previously approached Atlanta from the east and north, but General John B. Hood’s forces had managed to keep them at bay. 

Battle of Ezra Church, 1864, Union Defenses, HW
Battle of Ezra Church. Image Source: Harper’s Weekly, August 27, 1864.

Sherman decided to change his approach by ordering the Army of the Tennessee (USA), under the command of General Oliver O. Howard, to shift from the left wing to the right wing of his army. Their goal was to cut Hood’s last remaining railroad supply line between East Point and Atlanta.

Hood, anticipating this move, decided to send two of his corps, commanded by General Stephen D. Lee and General Alexander P. Stewart, to intercept and defeat Howard. 

On the afternoon of July 28, 1864, the Confederates attacked Howard’s position at Ezra Church. However, Howard had anticipated the attack and had his corps entrenched in a strong defensive position.

The Union forces successfully stopped the Confederate attack. Despite the victory, Howard was unable to cut the railroad, and the campaign to capture Atlanta continued.

July 28 — Killdeer Mountain

Dakota Territory — Following his victory at Whitestone Hill in September 1863, General Alfred Sully and his troops spent the winter along the Missouri River. During this time, his superior, General John Pope devised a plan to resolve the conflict with the Sioux.

Pope’s plan involved sending a force of 2,500 men, led by Sully, into the field to locate and engage the Sioux in battle. At the same time, infantry units would be sent to establish strongholds in the Indian territory. Minnesota troops were instructed to rendezvous with Sully’s force at the mouth of Burdache Creek on the Upper Missouri for active campaigning.

John Pope, General, USA, Civil War, FL
General John Pope (USA). Image Source: Frank Leslie’s Scenes and Portraits of the Civil War, 1894.

The two columns joined on June 30, and their campaign against the Sioux started. They established Fort Rice on July 7 at the confluence of the Cannonball River and continued their march. Meanwhile, the Sioux, who had been operating north of Fort Rice, crossed the Missouri River and took a strong position along the Little Missouri River, approximately 200 miles from the fort.

On July 26, Sully’s forces advanced to engage the Sioux. By July 28, they had reached the vicinity of the Sioux camp, which Sully estimated to be inhabited by 5,000-6,000 warriors. The Sioux were strategically positioned in wooded terrain, covered with hills and ravines.

Sully tried to negotiate with some of the tribal chiefs but made little progress, so he initiated an attack. Fierce combat ensued, but the Union artillery and long-range firearms gradually took a toll on the Sioux. As the battle unfolded, the Sioux started losing ground, and what started as a retreat eventually turned into a full-blown flight.

During the retreat, the Sious left behind their possessions, and a running battle that covered nearly 9 miles scattered the warriors who were not killed or wounded. The decisive engagement at Killdeer Mountain broke the Sioux resistance. 

July 29 — Confederate spy Belle Boyd was arrested by Union troops and sent to the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D.C.

July 30 — Crater

Virginia — On July 30, after extensive preparations, the Union forces initiated a major offensive by detonating a mine beneath Pegram’s Salient in Ambrose Burnside’s IX Corps sector. The explosion created a breach in the Confederate defenses of Petersburg, offering a promising start to the Union attack. However, what followed was a series of unfortunate events that unfolded rapidly and hampered the Union attackers, known as the Battle of the Crater.

As Union units charged into and around the crater created by the explosion, there was chaos and confusion. The Confederates regrouped and launched several counterattacks, notably led by General William Mahone, which succeeded in sealing off the breach, and the Federal troops were pushed back with significant casualties.

Battle of the Crater, 1864, July 30, Union Forces Rushing In, FL 423
Battle of the Crater. Image Source: Frank Leslie’s Scenes and Portraits of the Civil War, 1894.

Notably, Edward Ferrarro’s division of African-American soldiers suffered heavily in the engagement. Despite the initial opportunity provided by the explosion, the Union forces were unable to capitalize on it effectively. Instead of achieving a breakthrough and potentially ending the Siege of Petersburg, the soldiers found themselves settling into another 8 months of trench warfare.

The debacle had significant consequences for the Union leadership as General Ambrose E. Burnside was relieved of his command.

Battle of the Crater, 1864, Union Charge on Cemetery Hill, HW
This illustration depicts Union forces rushing Cemetery Hill at the Battle of the Crater. Image Source: Harper’s Weekly, August 6, 1864.

1864, August

August 1 — Folck’s Mill

Maryland — After the Confederate cavalry brigades under the command of Bradley T. Johnson and John McCausland burned Chambersburg, Pennsylvania on July 30, they embarked on a march towards Cumberland, Maryland, to disrupt the operations of the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad. In response, General Benjamin Kelly swiftly organized a small force, consisting of both soldiers and local citizens, to engage the Confederates.

On August 1, Kelly managed to ambush Confederate cavalry at Folck’s Mill. A skirmish ensued and continued for several hours as both sides engaged in combat. Ultimately, the Confederates decided to withdraw.

August 5 — Mobile Bay

Alabama — A joint Union force launched a campaign to close Mobile Bay to Confederate blockade runners. As part of the effort, Union forces conducted operations on Dauphin Island and laid siege to Fort Gaines. On August 5, Admiral David Farragut’s Union fleet, consisting of 18 ships, entered Mobile Bay.

David Farragut, Admiral, USA, Civil War, FL
Rear Admiral David Farragut. Image Source: Frank Leslie’s Scenes and Portraits of the Civil War, 1894.

Upon entering the bay, Farragut’s fleet came under heavy fire from the Confederate defenses, including Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan. However, Farragut and his fleet pressed on and navigated past the Confederate defenses, ultimately forcing the surrender of Confederate naval forces led by Admiral Franklin Buchanan. This victory closed Mobile Bay to blockade runners.

By August 23, Fort Morgan, the last major Confederate stronghold in the bay, fell to Union forces, which closed the Port of Mobile to Confederate operations. However, Union forces were unable to capture the city of Mobile.

August 5 — Utoy Creek

Georgia — Following the Battle of Ezra Church, General William T. Tecumseh Sherman continued to try to extend his right flank to strike the railroad between East Point and Atlanta.

Sherman moved General John M. Schofield and his Army of the Ohio from the left flank to the right flank of his army. Schofield’s troops were positioned on the north bank of Utoy Creek by August 2. However, it was not until August 4 that Schofield, along with the XIV Corps of the Army of the Cumberland, crossed Utoy Creek.

Schofield initiated a movement on the morning of August 5 to exploit the situation, which initially showed promise. However, he had to regroup his forces, which took the remainder of the day, allowing the Confederates to strengthen their defenses by constructing abatis, which slowed down the Union attack when the Battle of Utoy Creek resumed on the morning of August 6.

Despite their initial success, Union forces were pushed back by the Confederate division under General William Bate. Furthermore, the Union troops failed in their attempt to break the railroad. On August 7, Union forces shifted their movement towards the Confederate main defensive line and dug in, where they remained entrenched until late August.

August 7 — Moorefield

West Virginia — On August 7, as John McCausland’s and Bradley Johnson’s Confederate cavalry were returning to the Shenandoah Valley after their attack on Chambersburg, they suffered a surprise attack by pursuing Union cavalry at Moorefield. The Union cavalry, led by William W. Averell, managed to rout the Confederates. 

August 13 — Deep Bottom, Second Battle

Virginia — On the night of August 13–14, the Union II Corps, X Corps, and David M. Gregg’s cavalry division, all under the command of General Winfield Scott Hancock, crossed the James River at Deep Bottom. The Second Battle of Deep Bottom was part of a coordinated effort to threaten Richmond, the Confederate capital, while also conducting a simultaneous operation against the Weldon Railroad at Petersburg.

On August 14, the X Corps advanced toward New Market Heights, while the II Corps extended the Union line to the right along Bailey’s Creek. Overnight, the X Corps was relocated to the far right flank of the Union line near Fussell’s Mill.

The next day, August 16, Union assaults near Fussell’s Mill achieved initial success, capturing Confederate positions. However, Confederate counterattacks forced the Federals out of the captured works, resulting in heavy fighting that persisted throughout the day. During the skirmishes, Confederate General John Chambliss was killed in a cavalry engagement on Charles City Road.

On August 20, after several days of fighting, Union forces withdrew to the south side of the James River, but they maintained their bridgehead at Deep Bottom as part of their operations in the area.

August 14 — Dalton, Second Battle

Georgia — General Joseph Wheeler and his Confederate cavalry conducted a raid into North Georgia to destroy railroad tracks and supplies. Their operation brought them to Dalton, Georgia, on the afternoon of August 14. 

At Dalton, Wheeler demanded the surrender of the Union garrison, which was under the command of Colonel Bernard Laibolt. However, Laibolt refused to surrender, leading to a skirmish between the two forces known as the Second Battle of Dalton

Despite being outnumbered, the Union garrison managed to withdraw to fortifications located on a hill outside the town. There, they successfully held their position, although the fighting continued well into the night, extending past midnight.

Skirmishing between the opposing forces persisted throughout the night. Around 5:00 a.m. on August 15, Wheeler’s cavalry withdrew from the area, engaging Union infantry and cavalry units under the command of General James B. Steedman. Ultimately, Wheeler withdrew from the vicinity.

August 16 — Guard Hill

Virginia — In August, Confederate cavalry from the command of General Richard Anderson were sent from Petersburg to reinforce Early’s army in the Shenandoah Valley. As they made their way toward the Valley, a significant engagement occurred at Front Royal on August 16.

During the battle, Union cavalry forces from the command of General Wesley Merritt launched a surprise attack on the Confederates while they were crossing the Shenandoah River near Front Royal. The Confederates quickly regrouped and advanced, gradually pushing back the two Union brigades until they reached Cedarville. 

After nightfall, Merritt’s forces withdrew to the vicinity of Ninevah.

August 18 — Globe Tavern

Virginia — In August, while General Winfield Scott Hancock’s command demonstrated north of the James River at Deep Bottom, Union forces under General Gouverneur K. Warren were withdrawn from the Petersburg entrenchments to launch an operation against the Weldon Railroad.

At dawn on August 18, Warren advanced, initially driving Confederate pickets back until they reached the Weldon Railroad near Globe Tavern. In the afternoon, General Henry Heth (CSA) launched an attack, pushing General Roman Ayres’s division back toward the tavern. Both sides were entrenched during the night.

On August 19, General William Mahone, whose division had been brought back from north of the James River, launched an attack with 5 infantry brigades. This attack rolled up the right flank of the division of General Samuel W. Crawford. Warren, heavily reinforced, counterattacked, and by nightfall, the Union forces had retaken most of the ground that had been lost during the afternoon.

On the 20th, the Federals laid out and entrenched a strong defensive line, which covered the Blick House and Globe Tavern and extended eastward to connect with the main Federal lines at Jerusalem Plank Road.

Then, on August 21, Confederates under General A.P. Hill probed the Union line for weaknesses but were unable to break through. 

As a result of the Battle of Globe Tavern, General Ulysses S. Grant succeeded in extending his siege lines to the west and cutting Petersburg’s primary rail connection with Wilmington, North Carolina. 

The Confederates were then forced to offload rail cars at Stony Creek Station and transport their supplies by wagon for a 30-mile journey up Boydton Plank Road to reach Petersburg.

During these operations, Confederate General John C.C. Sanders was killed on August 21.

August 20 — Lovejoy’s Station

Georgia — In August, while General Joseph Wheeler was raiding Union supply lines from North Georgia to East Tennessee, General William T. Sherman, decided to send Judson Kilpatrick to raid Confederate supply lines.

On August 18, Kilpatrick’s forces left for their mission. They initially targeted the Atlanta & West Point Railroad on the evening of the same day, where they managed to tear up a small section of tracks.

Afterward, Kilpatrick headed towards Lovejoy’s Station, which was a key point on the Macon & Western Railroad. On August 19, while en route to Lovejoy’s Station, Kilpatrick attacked the Jonesborough supply depot on the Macon & Western Railroad. During this attack, he succeeded in burning a significant amount of Confederate supplies.

By August 20, Kilpatrick reached Lovejoy’s Station and immediately started his campaign of destruction. However, Confederate infantry from General Patrick Cleburne’s division arrived, prompting Kilpatrick to engage in a prolonged battle that extended into the night. Realizing the danger of being encircled, Kilpatrick eventually retreated, ending the Battle of Lovejoy’s Station.

Although Kilpatrick managed to destroy supplies and damage tracks at Lovejoy’s Station, the Confederates were able to restore the railroad line within two days.

August 21 — Memphis, Second Battle

Tennessee — In the early morning hours of August 21, 1864, General Nathan Bedford Forrest executed a daring raid on Memphis, Tennessee. The raid had several objectives, including capturing 3 Union generals stationed in the city, freeing Confederate prisoners from Irving Block Prison, and prompting the recall of Union forces from Northern Mississippi.

Forrest led 2,000 Confederate cavalry troops on the raid towards Memphis. However, his force suffered losses of about a quarter of its strength due to exhausted horses during the journey. To achieve surprise, Forrest and his men took advantage of the thick morning fog and claimed to be a Union patrol returning with prisoners. They managed to eliminate the sentries guarding the city.

Inside Memphis, the Confederates galloped through the streets, engaging in skirmishes with other Union troops. The raiders split into separate groups to pursue their specific missions. One of the targeted Union generals was not at his quarters at the time, and another managed to escape to Fort Pickering while wearing his nightshirt.

The attempt to free Confederate prisoners from Irving Block Prison failed. Union troops put up strong resistance at the State Female College, preventing the raiders from achieving their objective. After two hours of fighting, Forrest decided to withdraw.

Second Battle of Memphis, 1864, Attack on Irving Prison, HW
This illustration depicts the attack on Irving Prison during the Second Battle of Memphis. Image Source: Harper’s Weekly, August 6, 1864.

As they retreated, the Confederates cut telegraph wires, took prisoners, and confiscated supplies, including many horses. Although Forrest did not succeed in capturing Memphis, his raid forced Union forces to return from northern Mississippi to provide additional protection for Memphis.

August 21 — Summit Point

West Virginia — On August 21, General Philip Sheridan was in the process of concentrating his Union army near Charles Town when General Jubal Early and General Richard Anderson launched coordinated attacks against him.

Early moved his forces east, advancing through Smithfield to engage the Union VI Corps. Anderson led Confederate troops northward, targeting Wilson’s Union cavalry stationed at Summit Point. There were skirmishes between Union and Confederate cavalry units near Berryville as these forces maneuvered.

During these actions, the Union forces effectively conducted delaying tactics, gradually withdrawing their positions. Eventually, they fell back to a location near Halltown on the following day.

August 25 — Ream’s Station, Second Battle

Virginia — On August 24, the Union II Corps moved south on the Weldon Railroad, tearing up tracks. On August 25, General Henry Heth attacked Ream’s Station, capturing guns, colors, and prisoners. The II Corps was shattered, and General Winfield Scott Hancock withdrew to the main Union line near the Jerusalem Plank Road, expressing concern about his troops’ declining combat effectiveness.

Second Battle of Ream's Station, 1864, August 25, Union Line, FL 426
Second Battle of Ream’s Station. Image Source: Frank Leslie’s Scenes and Portraits of the Civil War, 1894.

August 28 — Smithfield Crossing

West Virginia — On August 29, two Confederate infantry divisions crossed Opequon Creek at Smithfield, pushing Wesley Merritt’s Union cavalry division back towards Charles Town. Ricketts’s infantry division arrived to halt the Confederate advance.

August 29 — The Democratic Party nominated George B. McClellan for President.

Election of 1864, Democratic Convention, Chicago, HW
This illustration depicts the tent in Chicago where the Democratic Convention was held. Image Source: Harper’s Weekly, September 3, 1864.

August 31 — Jonesborough

Georgia — General William T. Sherman aimed to sever General John B. Hood’s supply lines and force him to evacuate Atlanta. On August 25, the Union army started withdrawing to hit the Macon & Western Railroad between Rough and Ready and Jonesborough. Hood countered by sending William Hardee with two corps, unaware of the full size of Sherman’s force. On August 31, Hardee attacked two Union corps west of Jonesborough but failed. Fearing an Atlanta attack, Hood withdrew one corps from Hardee’s force that night. The next day, a Union corps broke through Hardee’s troops, which retreated to Lovejoy’s Station, and on September 1, Hood evacuated Atlanta.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations, including APA Style, Chicago Style, and MLA Style.

  • Article Title Civil War Timeline and History, from May to August 1864
  • Date May 1, 1864—August 31, 1864
  • Author
  • Keywords Civil War Timeline, Civil War History, Civil War 1864
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date June 13, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update January 12, 2024

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