This Day in the Civil War

Friday Dec. 27 1861

New York’s Congressional delegation was restored to its proper size with the return of Rep. Alfred Ely from Richmond, Va. Ely had not been on a diplomatic mission, or even spying, or indeed anything of a remotely useful nature. He had attended the Battle of Bull Run as a civilian observer, a polite way of saying he was one of the mob of morons who brought carriages and picnic baskets to watch the "spectacle of battle" as if it were an entertainment. His curiosity was rewarded by capture by the Rebels and months of imprisonment.

Saturday Dec. 27 1862

Gen. William T. Sherman’s forces continued their progress, if such it could be called, towards Vicksburg. Minor battle took place at Snyder’s Mill between the Union men and pickets from the Confederate forces of Gen. John Pemberton defending the city. Pemberton was scurrying to find additional troops to boost his forces. Union troops were finding out that the one factor in the Vicksburg defenses that they could not overcome was geography.

Sunday Dec. 27 1863

President Abraham Lincoln, in company with Secretary of War Stanton, went for a visit on this day to the prisoner of war camp at Point Lookout, Maryland. Elsewhere, skirmishes took place at Somerville, New Castle, and Mossy Creek, Tenn., possibly in celebration of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston assuming command of the Department of Tennessee.

Tuesday Dec. 27 1864

The Army of Tennessee had once been the premier fighting force of the Confederacy in the West. Unlike the Army of Northern Virginia, whose only real assignment was to protect Richmond, the western army was supposed to defend a line from the Cumberland Gap to the Mississippi River. Cursed with a string of poor commanders to perform this overwhelming task, they had spent their last energies in disastrous battles at Franklin and then Nashville. Today they continued their retreat from the latter, crossing the Tennessee River in the direction of Tupelo, Mississippi. Between casualties and desertions the army had nearly ceased to exist as a fighting force.

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