This Day in the Civil War

Saturday Nov. 23 1861

At this time of year the weather in the better-known centers of fighting tends to get downright nasty. Difficult as it may be for an army to fight when they have insufficient protection from cold, it becomes downright impossible when the artillery can’t move because the roads are half-frozen mud from fall rains and snows. At these times more action shifts to far-Southern action, as in one in Florida today. Pensacola was the scene. There were Confederate installations ashore. There was also a Union outpost, which was known as Fort Pickens. In concert with two Union gunboats, the USS Niagara and USS Richmond which were operating in the area, Fort Pickens’ guns were opened up on the Southern fortifications. Targets included Fort McRee, Fort Barrancas, and the Pensacola Navy Yard. The bombardment continued for two days, but the results were negligible on either side.

Sunday Nov. 23 1862

Despite the difficulty of conducting military operations in northern Virginia in the wintertime, US Gen. Ambrose Burnside was under orders to do something of a hostile nature towards the forces of Robert E. Lee. For this reason the Army of the Potomac, instead of going into winter quarters, were going on a trip to the Rappahannock River. They had been arriving over the course of the last few days on the heights of Falmouth. Facing them on the high bluff called Marye’s Heights was James Longstreet’s corps of the Army of Northern Virginia, more of whom were also arriving daily. Huddled between the two, down towards the river, were the apprehensive residents of Fredericksburg. Burnside now called on the city to surrender, threatening to cannonade the town. The city’s mayor, neither able nor inclined to comply, requested time to remove the young, old, sick, and female residents. Burnside subordinate Gen. E.V. Sumner agreed today, as long as no “hostile demonstrations” were made.

Monday Nov. 23 1863

The Union men of the Army of the Cumberland, bottled up for so long in Chattanooga, were finally fed, supplied and strengthened, and today went on the long-awaited offensive. Under Gen. George H. Thomas two corps left Ft. Wood for Orchard Knob. This rocky formation was about a mile in front of the main Confederate line on another, much larger outcropping known as Missionary Ridge. Principle actors in this offensive were division commanders Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan and Brig. Gen. T. J. Wood, and their onslaught was such that Orchard Knob was by nightfall in Union hands, with few casualties incurred. The defending General Braxton Bragg and his Army of Tennessee fell back to the more heavily defended lines in the rear, not knowing that Gen. William T. Sherman would send a brigade over the Tennessee River near S. Chickamauga Creek overnight to establish a foothold and build a bridge.

Wednesday Nov. 23 1864

The March to the Sea of William T. Sherman was well underway, with the first leg from Atlanta to the capital of Milledgeville accomplished. This was not done totally without opposition; skirmishes occurred there, along with others at Balls Ferry, and at the bridge of the Georgia Central Railroad on the Oconee River. These were isolated and ineffectual actions, though, in the absence of an overall commander and plan of attack. This job was today handed to Gen. William J. Hardee. This poor fellow, lacking communications with what scattered forces lay in front of Sherman, would not have known what to tell them if he could, since he had no idea what route the enemy planned to take.

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