This Week in the Civil War
The Associated Press
This series marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War draws primarily from wartime dispatches credited to The Associated Press or other accounts distributed through the AP and other historical sources.
This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, April 27: Fighting in Arkansas.
Union troops who had been backing a failed federal Army and Navy incursion up the Red River into northern Louisiana found themselves bogged down in fighting in neighboring Arkansas this week 150 years ago in the Civil War. The troops under the command of Union Maj. Gen. Fred Steel were crossing the Saline River at Jenkins' Ferry in Arkansas when Confederate forces arrived and began to attack on April 30, 1864. The Union fighters fended off several attacks by the rebels and managed to cross the river with their supply wagons. Ultimately the Union force would regroup at its base in Little Rock, Arkansas, successfully in slipping away from the Confederate force bent on destroying the Union force.
This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, May 4: The Wilderness, start of the Overland Campaign.
The Union's Ulysses S. Grant opened a major offensive against the Confederates this week 150 years ago in the Civil War. It would be known as the start of the Overland Campaign, a bloody offensive that would yield staggering casualties from the first day as Ulysses S. Grant's forces attacked a Confederate column early on May 5, 1864. The fierce fighting would rage for hours in dense woodlands, interrupted only by nightfall before the battle would rage again at dawn on May 6, 1864. In the end the battle by tens of thousands on both sides would prove a tactical draw. Still, Grant refused to retreat — marking the start of more fighting ahead in 1864 and the dawning of the bloodiest campaign in U.S. history.
This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, May 11: Fighting in Virginia, Sherman on the march.
The New York Times reported on May 11, 1864, that Grant's Union army in Virginia was engaged in hard skirmishing at the Spotsylvania Courthouse. The dispatch said while no all-out battle had been fought, shooting was intense and wounded Union soldiers were being brought out via a supply train for medical care. The Times added in a subsequent dispatch two days later that Ulysses S. Grant's Army of the Potomac was in "superb condition and spirits — in fact, was never before in any such condition" amid the renewed fighting in Virginia. Added the pro-Union newspaper: "We are going on to Richmond, depend upon it; at least, some more formidable obstacle than has yet appeared will have to present itself to stop us." That obstacle would be a Confederate army with considerable strength to fight on for many months to come. Elsewhere, Union Gen. William T. Sherman marched out in early May 1864 from Tennessee toward northwestern Georgia with the ultimate aim of capturing the city of Atlanta.
This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, May 18: Grant's Overland Offensive in Virginia continues.
With the bloodletting of hard combat at Spotsylvania Courthouse in Virginia now receding, Lieut. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant marched a considerable Union force to the North Anna River as he prepared to again confront Confederate forces led by Robert E. Lee. Grant's Overland Offensive was continuing, with both sides tracking each other in an area of rain-swollen rivers and streams north of Richmond, seat of the Confederacy. On May 23, 1864, fresh fighting erupted and raged for hours during the next two days at various locations. At every turn, Lee, sought to repel the shifting Union forces and vex Grant's bid for a quick victory.