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The Civil War Month by Month: Jan 1863

CW - 150

Civil War 150th anniversary

The Civil War 150th Anniversary

Interesting facts, links, and suggested books for each month of the Civil War.

January 1863

This Month's Events


  • 1 January. President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation. This proclamation applies only to slaves in territory under the control of the Confederacy, not to areas under Union control or in the slaves states that had not seceded. Southerners are outraged; many see the proclamation as an attempt to foment a slave insurrection.

  • 1-2 January. In Tennessee, the Battle of Stone River (aka Murfreesboro) continues. [See previous month.] As the fighting goes on, both sides take heavy casualties, a total of 23,515, the highest percentage of casualties of any battle in the war. While both sides are badly mauled, Bragg withdraws and the Union retains control of the middle Tennessee area.
    Stone River National Battlefield now contains "the oldest surviving American Civil War monument standing in its original location", the Hazen Brigade monument to its dead. The Union brigade, composed of the 9th Indiana, 41st Ohio, 6th Kentucky, and 110th Illinois, was the only Union outfit not to retreat on December 31.

  • 8 January. In Madison County, North Carolina, the small isolated community of Shelton Laurel is a Unionist stronghold. Responding to a raid by "outliers", Confederate forces attack the valley, terrorizing and torturing the women they find. Ultimately they take 15 males, ranging in age from a boy of 13 to grandfathers, shoot them, and leave the bodies to be eaten by pigs.

  • 20 January. Union General Ambrose Burnside, the loser at Fredericksburg, plans an attack on Lee's rear to cut supply lines and to retrieve his own reputation. However an unseasonable thaw and heavy rains bog down the troops in the so called "Mud March". Burnside has to pull his troops back and a few days later he is replaced by General Joseph Hooker.

  • 22 January. William G. Morris [see September 1862], now promoted to major, writes home to Gaston County. He thinks that his regiment, the 37th NC, will be sent back to North Carolina.

  • 26 January. Governor Andrew of Massachusetts receives permission from the War Dept. to form a regiment of black soldiers. Captain Robert Shaw, age 25, accepts command of the regiment. So many men try to enlist that eventually there will be 2 regiments, the 54th and the 55th. In 1989 the movie "Glory" about the 54th will win 3 Oscars.

  • 26 January. David L. Swain, president of the University of North Carolina, is concerned about the conscription process. He writes, "Why exempt the Faculty of the University from conscription, if they are to be stripped of Students? Our present number is 45, we will probably rise to 60 -- if let alone, and this will be a diminution of 400 of our numbers before the war. The deaths of graduates and students in the last two years on the battlefields and resulting from Camp exposure, exceed all the casualties of the preceding quarter of a century." The concept of a "student deferment" is still a century in the future.

  • 28 January. A few miles south of Fredericksburg, Virginia, Robert Hoke's brigade of North Carolinians, having been through days of rain and mud, now find themselves covered with 10 inches of snow.
    The soldiers are filthy and there is a shortage of soap. Hoke sends men to his home county, Lincoln County, North Carolina to obtain a supply of pots and then sets his men to making soap from the dead animals in the area.

  • This month among the nurses at the Washington hospitals described by Whitman [see December 1862] is 30 year old Louisa May Alcott. Like Whitman, she is inspired to write by her experiences. After only 6 weeks her father has to come and take her home as she is expected to die of "typhoid pneumonia". Louisa survives (although her health is damaged for life by the drugs used to treat her) and in May 1863 her "Hospital Sketches" will appear in an Abolitionist paper. They are such a success that many other periodicals reprint them and then they appear as a book, surprising reading for those who know her only as the author of Little Women.

This Month's Fiction

Adult Fiction

Young Adult Fiction

This Month's Non-Fiction

Adult Nonfiction

Children's Nonfiction

Undying glory : the story of the Massachusetts 54th regiment, by Clinton Cox, pub. 1991, 167 p., call #: j973.7 Cox. For older readers, this book describes the formation of the all-black 54th Massachusetts Regiment and its valiant battle history from 1863 to 1865.

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