This week 150 years ago in the Civil War, a Union army led by Maj. Gen. Frederick Steele forced the last Confederate troops from the Arkansas capital of Little Rock. By Sept. 2, 1863, Union forces had swelled to some 15,000 troops nearing Little Rock. The Union columns were arrayed against nearly 8,000 Confederates commanded by Sterling Price. Steele ordered his fighters to swing into action Sept. 9, 1863, along the Arkansas River east of Little Rock. Fighting erupted a day later and an overwhelming fusillade of cannon and artillery fire by advancing Union forces began pushing the Confederates into retreat. Union cavalry relentlessly repulsed their rivals, sending the Confederates in the direction of southwest Arkansas. As Union fighters swept into Little Rock, the city's remaining civil authorities quickly surrendered that capital city on Sept. 10, 1863. Victory by the Union in Arkansas meant the federal forces were taking control of yet another capital city once under sway of the secessionists.
This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, Sept. 15: Lincoln suspends writ of Habeas Corpus throughout U.S.
President Abraham Lincoln, bidding to gain the upper hand in the Civil War, issued Proclamation 104 on Sept. 15, 1863, suspending the writ of Habeas Corpus throughout the United States.
This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, Sept. 22: Battle of Chickamauga, Ga.
Union fighters occupying Chattanooga, Tenn., would see Confederate opponents pushing back this month 150 years ago in the war in hopes of retaking lost ground. Confederate fighters under Braxton Bragg clashed with Union forces in late September of 1863 in northwest Georgia, amid a Confederate bid to recapture neighboring Chattanooga, Tenn. The fighting erupted in earnest at Chickamauga in extreme northwest Georgia on Sept. 19 of that year. Combat raged for hours with the Union line stubbornly holding. But a Union general's attempt to shore up a perceived gap in his lines allowed Confederate James Longstreet to break through during a two-day battle before Union forces pushed him back and held their ground. In the end, Confederates won a costly but critical battlefield victory. By Sept. 20, 1863, the secessionists had gained enough ground to begin staking positions on mountain heights around Chattanooga, menacing Union forces holding that city. All told, some 16,000 Union and 18,000 Confederate casualties were reckoned as the toll at Chickamauga—some of the bloodiest fighting in the so-called Western theater. The Confederate achievement would allow Bragg's army to besiege Union troops occupying Chattanooga enough to throttle the federal supply line for weeks before later fighting in the year would drive Confederates away from Chattanooga for good.
This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, Sept. 29: Attack on USS New Ironsides near Charleston Harbor.
The armored Union warship USS New Ironsides came under attack the night of Oct. 5, 1863, while patrolling near Charleston, S.C. The attack by the Confederate steam-powered torpedo boat CSS David inflicted damage on the warship but it manage to escape worse fate and remained active in enforcing a Union blockade of Confederate ports well after the attack. Charleston Harbor, where the Civil War had begun with the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter, was a major target of Union warships seeking to enforce the blockade against gunrunners and other smugglers seeking to transport supplies to the secessionists. But the last major Union attempt to take Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor went down in failure in early September 1863. At the time, about 500 Union soldiers and Marines in small boats had approached Sumter in an unusual nighttime operation only to see five Union troops killed, several wounded and more captured. Though the Confederates suffered no loss of life, the blockade that brought USS New Ironsides to waters outside Charleston would only be solidified through the rest of the war—creating no real imperative for the Union to try further to take Charleston militarily.