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The Civil War Month by Month: Jul 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.

July 1864

This Month's Events

  • 5 July. The Federal army occupies Roswell, Georgia and burns the mills there. The women and children who work at the mills are deported to Indiana; most of them never return home.
  • Ben Hur
  • 9 July. At Monocacy, Virginia, Union troops led by General Lew Wallace are defeated by Confederates advancing on Washington. Very few people will remember Wallace's reputation as a soldier; he is better known as the author of Ben Hur.

  • 17 July. Despite the fact that General Joseph Johnston has been fighting a force almost twice the size of his and has conducted what is often described as one of the great retreats of history, Jefferson Davis believes that he will not defend Atlanta and replaces him with John Bell Hood. The Confederacy loses the services of an important general just at this critical time.
    Johnston is very popular with the rank and file soldiers and Sam Watkins of the 1st Tennessee recounts an encounter between 2 pickets. "Johnny, O, Johnny, O, Johnny Reb." "What do you want?" "You are whipped, aren't you?" ... "Well, anyway Joe Johnston is relieved of the command." Refusing to believe this news, Johnny Reb called the other man a liar and challenged him to a duel. They fired 7 shots each and the Confederate soldier was killed.

  • 17 July. Benjamin Freeman with the 44th N. C. in Virginia writes home. "Yesterday we held the election [for North Carolina governor]. Vance got 17 votes from the company. There was but 17 men in the company that wo[u]ld vote every one that voted for VANCE. ... It is the first time I ever voted [I am] a big man now."

  • 20 July John Bell Hood, known as "Fighting Joe," and now in charge of the defense of Atlanta, goes on the offensive against Sherman's army at Peachtree [aka Peach Tree] Creek north of Atlanta. Learning that the Union Army of the Cumberland is crossing the creek, Hood hopes to catch them in disarray at the ford and before they have time to build new fortifications. The Confederate attack fails, partially due to a lack of coordination between attacking divisions. Union casualties are 1900; the Confederates are 2500.
    Union captain Frank D. Baldwin, Company D, 19th Michigan Infantry will be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his exploits in this battle. Going alone into the rebel lines, he captures 2 armed officers and a Georgia regiment's flag. Ten years later, he will receive a second Medal of Honor in Texas for leading an attack on an Indian force who had captured 2 girls.

  • 30 July. Union troops besieging Petersburg, Virginia use a mine to blow a hole in the Confederate defenses. However the troops sent in can not advance further and many are slaughtered at the bottom of the "Crater" in what one officer later described as a "turkey shoot". Rather than retreat, General Burnside sends in a division of the U. S. Colored Troops who are also trapped. Many are killed even after surrendering. Also among the outfits taking heavy casualties is Co. K, First Michigan Sharpshooters, men who are mostly Ottawa and Chippewa or Ojibwa Indians. As a result of this debacle, Burnside will never command troops again. The siege will continue for 8 more months.

  • This month Camp Rathbun in Elmira, New York is converted into a prisoner of war camp. It will become known to Confederate prisoners as Helmira. Almost 3,000 men die at Elmira; it is the federal prison with the highest mortality rate.

  • Also this month Union General George Stoneman and his cavalry are sent on a raid to destroy railroads and free Federal prisoners held at Andersonville. Instead, by July 31 they are surrounded and 700 men are captured and sent to Andersonville themselves.

This Month's Fiction

Adult Fiction

Glory enough for all : the Battle of the Crater : a novel of the Civil War, by Duane Schultz, pub. 1993, 360 p. Accomplished nonfiction writer Schultz has written a powerful fictionalized account of a pivotal Civil War battle. In July of 1864, Union and Confederate forces are locked in trench warfare at Cemetery Hill on the outskirts of Petersburg, Va. Both sides have experienced dreadful losses, but Lee's army is much more debilitated, unable adequately to replace either men or equipment. A stalemate could prolong the war, damaging Lincoln's chances of re-election and possibly hastening a truce. Against the odds--and over the objections of fellow Union officers--Lt. Col. Henry Pleasants digs a 500-foot tunnel under the Southern fort and, filling it with 8000 pounds of powder, creates an enormous crater. But petty politicking by Grant, Meade, Burnside and other Union officers turns what should have been a war-ending Union triumph into a disaster. Most tragically, the Fourth Division U.S. Colored Troops, scheduled to lead the attack which follows the explosion and the one unit best prepared to win the day, are held back until the last moment and then sent in too late, to horrible slaughter. Authentically detailed and tightly paced, this is an absorbing novel.

Children's Fiction

This Month's Non-Fiction

Adult Nonfiction

Children's Nonfiction

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