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1863 July 25: Second Battle of Charleston Harbor and Rosecrans in Tennessee

July 26, 2013

The summary of the week’s war news from the July 25, 1863, Polk County Press.

The Second Battle of Charleston Harbor—also known as the Siege of Charleston Harbor, Siege of Fort Wagner, or the Battle of Morris Island—began on July 18, 1863.  Union forces besieged the Confederate works on Morris Island, and the siege will last until September 7, 1863.

General William S. Rosecrans fought the Tullahoma Campaign, or Middle Tennesse Campaign, between June 24 and July 3, 1863.  Most historians consider it a “brilliant” campaign and Rosecran’s most significant achievement, but it received little notice in the local newspapers of northwest Wisconsin because it ended at the same time that Gettysburg and Vicksburg were in the spotlight.  The Union Army drove the Confederates out of Middle Tennessee, with minimal losses.  Rosecrans did not immediately pursue Confederate General Braxton Bragg, despite General-in-chief Henry W. Halleck’s and President Abraham Lincoln’s insistence that Rosecrans move quickly to take Chattanooga.  Seizing the city would allow the Union to advance toward Atlanta and the heartland of the South.  Chattanooga was a vital rail hub, as this article explains, and an important manufacturing center.  Instead Rosecrans paused to regroup and study the difficult choices of pursuit into mountainous regions.  When the campaigning resumed, Bragg’s army proved to be only temporarily defeated.  Reinforced with additional troops, Bragg will attack Rosecrans at the Battle of Chickamauga on September 19-20.

The News.

The news of the week is decidedly good and encouraging.  The riot in New York has been completely suppressed, and the draft is about to be resumed.  Rochester city and Brooklyn are going to appropriate money to secure the exemption of drafted men having families.  Brooklyn common council appropriates half a million, and the County Supervisors $200,000 more.  This will relieve all who need the exemption in that city.

The common council of Rochester have passed an ordinance voting $207, 300 to pay for drafted men.

A serious accident occurred in New York on the 21st.  The brick wall of one of the buildings destroyed by the mob last week fell burying a number of women and children who were securing coal and wood among the ruins.  Seven bodies had been recovered.

The great battle for Charleston has commenced in earnest.  On Friday last the land and naval forces commenced the bombardment of Fort Sumpter [sic] and Cumming’s Point, up to latest dates all was going on well.

A steamer loaded with rebel troops, while trying to reinforce the garrison of Morri’s [sic] Island, was captured by our iron-clads, and destroyed.


Late papers bring us the welcome intelligence that Rosecrans is again advancing.  He was checked in his forward movement previously made by incessant rains which rendered the roads impassable, and by the necessity of bringing forward his supplies.  His destination, without doubt, is Chattanooga, the pivot of the Southern railway system which connects the Atlantic with the Mississippi.  The East Tennessee and Virginia railway there connects with the Memphis and Charleston, these forming the only direct route of communication between Richmond and the southwest, and with the lines between Chattanooga and Charleston, via Atlanta, the only railway connection between Virginia and Tennessee and the northern halves of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.

The only other railway route is by way of Charleston, Augusta, Atlanta and Montgomery, to Mobile and thence to to [sic] Jackson and Vicksburg,—a round-about route, nearly twice the length of the other.  The importance of Chattanooga to the rebel purposes is so great, and so vital to the existence of the Confederacy, that we cannot expect Rosecrans will gain the position without severe fighting and perhaps a siege of considerable duration.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 5, 2013 10:19 am

    Nice article about Tullahoma Campaign. Having researched as background for my forthcoming book on Ambrose Bierce’s Civil War career, I too would regard it as brilliant but overlooked–by both historians and the general public. As you say, it occurred exactly as the same time as Gettysburg and Grant’s victory at Vicksburg, so the oversight is understandable. Also, since the victory was written in Union dead, it was easy to ignore. Nonetheless the consequences were enormous; it did set the stage for the occupation of Chattanooga and if Rosecrans had not overreached and try to pursue Bragg, probably he and not Grant might have been the great hero of the war–who knows. Anyway, you give it more attention than most Civil War bloggers.

    • August 6, 2013 11:18 am

      Thanks for your comment. It’s funny sometimes what the little local newspapers up here pick up to publish and what they missed. They often have something on the smaller battles and have missed some kind of big ones. But the significance of some things were not really known immediately afterward.

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