September 1864

The North:  In recognition of the Union victories at Atlanta and Mobile Bay, President Lincoln declared a national day of celebration.  On September 5, Louisiana rejoined the Union with an amendment to its state constitution abolishing slavery in a vote by those who had sworn allegiance to the United States; this was a procedure outlined by President Lincoln.  John C. Fremont had been nominated for president by a radical faction of the Republican Party; on September 17, he withdrew, fearing that he and Lincoln would split the Republican vote, allowing McClellan to be elected.

The South:  On September 2, 1864, General Robert E. Lee suggested to President Jefferson Davis that they should utilize black slaves to replace white laborers in the Southern armies.

Eastern Theater:

The last major engagements in the east before August of 1864 were the Battle of Cold Harbor on the first three days of June, 1864, and then the start of the siege of Petersburg, which began in June of 1864 and continued until April of 1865, with the Battle of the Crater having taken place on July 20, 1864.

The month began with forces under Union General Phil Sheridan engaged with Confederate General Jubal Early’s forces at Opequon Creek.  General Lee had asked Early for troops, and on September 3, General Richard H. Anderson’s corps, which Early had sent to Lee, was turned back by Sheridan’s troops at Berryville.  These troops again left Early on the 14th, substantially weakening the Confederate forces in the Valley.  Grant and Sheridan met on the 16th and planned an attack on the weakened Southern army at Winchester.  On September 19, Sheridan attacked Early at Winchester; after stiff fighting, Early was forced into full retreat.  Sheridan’s forces pursued Early’s retreating men the next day.  On the 21st, Early dug in at Fisher’s Hill.  Sheridan again attacked Early on the 22d, putting Early’s army into full retreat again.  Two days later, Sheridan turned his attention to destroying food sources in the Shenandoah Valley.  Back at Petersburg, on September 29 Grant attacked Forts Harrison and Gilmore, capturing the former.  The next day, the newly arrived Confederate forces under General Richard H. Anderson attempted to retake Fort Harrison, but failed.

The next major engagement in the east was the continued siege of Petersburg, which began in June of 1864 and lasted until April of 1865, and in fact was the final major engagement in the Eastern Theater.

Western Theater:

The last major engagement in the west before August of 1864 was the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain on June 27, 1864.

A great victory for the North took place on the first of September, 1864, when Southern General Hood’s Army of Tennessee evacuated Atlanta to Union General Sherman’s army; Hood’s forces blew up much-needed supplies that they were unable to take with them.  Union General Henry Slocum's XX Corps began to move into Atlanta the next day.  On September 4, Union forces under General A.C. Gillem surrounded Confederate raider John Hunt Morgan and his men at Greenville, Tennessee.  Morgan had escaped from an Ohio prison the year before; this time, Morgan was shot and killed.  On September 7, General Sherman ordered all civilians to evacuate Atlanta.  Three days later, Grant telegraphed Sherman suggesting further actions against Hood’s army, without specific directions.  On September 27, a Confederate cavalry force of 12,000 under General Sterling Price attacked a Federal garrison at Pilot Knob, Missouri, under Thomas Ewing, Jr.; the Union force beat off the attack despite substantial numerical disadvantage, and then escaped under the cover of darkness that night.

The next major engagement was the Battle of Franklin, November 30, 1864.

Naval:  The 60-day bombardment of Fort Sumter ended on September 4, 1864, for a day or so, resuming on the 6th for another nine days.

Source: The Civil War Day By Day, edited by John S. Bowman, 1989.

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Official Record of the Month
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXXVIII/5 [S# 76]

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,   
In the Field, Atlanta, Ga., September 7, 1864.   
General HOOD,         
Commanding Confederate Army:      

    GENERAL: I have deemed it to the interest of the United States that the citizens now residing in Atlanta should remove, those who prefer it to go South and the rest North. For the latter I can provide food and transportation to points of their election in Tennessee, Kentucky, or farther north. For the former I can provide transportation by cars as far as Rough and Ready, and also wagons; but that their removal may be made with as little discomfort as possible it will be necessary for you to help the families from Rough and Ready to the cars at Lovejoy's. If you consent I will undertake to remove all families in Atlanta who prefer to go South to Rough and Ready, with all their movable effects, viz, clothing, trunks, reasonable furniture, bedding, &c., with their servants, white and black, with the proviso that no force shall be used toward the blacks one way or the other. If they want to go with their masters or mistresses they may do so, otherwise they will be sent away, unless they be men, when they may be employed by our quartermaster. Atlanta is no place for families or non-combatants and I have no desire to send them North if you will assist in conveying them South. If this proposition meets your views I will consent to a truce in the neighborhood of Rough and Ready, stipulating that any wagons, horses, or animals, or persons sent there for the purposes herein stated shall in no manner be harmed or molested, you in your turn agreeing that any cars, wagons, carriages, persons, or animals sent to the same point shall not be interfered with. Each of us might send a guard of, say, 100 men to maintain order, and limit the truce to, say, two days after a certain time appointed. I have authorized the mayor to choose two citizens to convey to you this letter and such documents as the mayor may forward in explanation, and shall await your reply.

     I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN,       
Major-General, Commanding.   
 
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