Skip to Main Content

The Civil War Month by Month: Apr 1864

CW - 150

Civil War 150th anniversary

The Civil War 150th Anniversary

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

April 1864

This Month's Events


  • 7 April. As Union ships fight on the Red River in Louisiana, Chief Engineer Thomas Doughty on the Osage, an ironclad "monitor", uses sheet iron and mirrors to rig up a tube that lets him see attacking Confederates despite the river's high banks. This is the first periscope.

  • 12 April. Fort Pillow on the Mississippi River is occupied by less than 600 Union soldiers. Under attack by 2500 of Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry, the fort is overwhelmed. Union casualties are very high; only 58 of 262 African-American soldiers surviving. The controversy over whether the black troops were deliberately massacred still continues.

  • 17 April. The exchange of prisoners of war is discontinued by General Grant who says that it is only prolonging the conflict. His action will result in the deaths of hundreds of men on both sides in overcrowded prisons.

  • 19 April. Plymouth, North Carolina is the site of the second largest battle in North Carolina and its last Confederate victory. As a port city, Plymouth is important for its control of a water route inland. As the Confederates commanded by General Robert Hoke (a native of Lincolnton) attack, they are aided by the CSS Albemarle, a Confederate ironclad ram whose construction was overseen by 19 year-old Gilbert Elliott of Elizabeth City. The ram sinks a Union ship; a second one flees. Hoke captures a brigadier general, 1600 men, 25 pieces of artillery and a large amount of supplies.

  • 19 April. Writing home, Benjamin Freeman describes watching the 26th North Carolina (including men from Gaston and Lincoln Counties) train. "The 26 Regt is practicing their skirmishers. all of the Regiment have been practicing[.] the pickets here for sometime have been shooting at the distance of 900 yds and doing good execution at 'a man p[a]inted on a plank'."

  • This month Patrick Nieson Lynch, a Roman Catholic bishop, goes to Europe as a Confederate emissary to France and to the Pope at Rome. He hopes to persuade the Pope to come out against the Union's use of Irish immigrants in the army -- many men were recruited for jobs in the U. S, and enlisted straight off the boat -- and its attempts to recruit other Europeans as well.

This Month's Fiction

Adult Fiction

Young Adult Fiction

Children's Fiction

Which Way Freedom?, by Joyce Hansen, pub. 1986, 120 p., call #: J HX. Obi, a young slave in the Civil War period, cherishes dreams of escape. When he confides his plans to Easter, another slave, she insists that he take her with him, as well as five-year-old Jason. A twist of fate enables Obi and Easter to escape, but without Jason. When they are recaptured by Confederate soldiers, a growing rift develops between Obi and Easter, who can not forget their abandonment of Jason. Obi makes plans for another daring escape, but this time he fears Easter will not come with him. In spite of its deceptively short length, Which Way Freedom? covers a good deal of ground. The historical detail never overwhelms but seems to grow naturally from the story. There is sufficient action to sustain readers' interest, but it is in the book's characterization that the chief strength lies. Obi is a sympathetic but fallible young man, often at odds with others and himself over the importance of freedom and loyalty. Gr. 6-9.

This Month's Non-Fiction

Adult Nonfiction

Children's Nonfiction

James Buchanan Eads, the man who mastered the Mississippi, by Arthur Orrmont, pub. 1970, 143 p. The life story of a man of many inventions (he received more than 50 patents) including the diving bell. He also built the first road and railroad bridge across the Mississippi River at St. Louis. The ironclads he built helped to win control of the western waters for the Union.

┬ęCopyright 2021, Gaston County Public Library. All Rights Reserved.