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1864 August 27: Battle of Globe Tavern, Battle of Summit Point, Forrest’s Memphis Raid, Skirmish at Hurricane Creek, and Other News

August 27, 2014

The following roundup of the week’s war-related news is from the August 27, 1864, issue of The Polk County Press.

The first item concerns what has become known as the Battle of Globe Tavern, also known as the Second Battle of the Weldon Railroad.  It was fought south of Petersburg, Virginia, on August 18-21, 1864, and was the Union Army’s second attempt to sever the Weldon Railroad.  A Union force under General Gouverneur K. Warren destroyed miles of railroad track while withstanding strong attacks from Confederate troops under Generals P.G.T. Beauregard and A. P. Hill.  It was the first Union victory in the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign.  (The First Battle of the Weldon Railroad is better known as the Battle of Jerusalem Plank Road, which took place June 21-23, 1864.)

The second item refers to the Battle of Summit Point, also known as Flowing Springs or Cameron’s Depot.  The battle was part of Union General Philip H. Sheridan’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign, and took place on August 21, 1864, near Charles Town, West Virginia.  Although Sheridan’s army did withdraw, the result of the battle is considered inconclusive.

The item beginning “On Thursday last Gen. Forrest …” concerns Confederate General Nathan B. Forrest’s raid into Memphis, Tennessee, known now as the Second Battle of Memphis.   On August 21, 1864, at 4 o’clock in the morning, General Forrest led around 4-500 troops—including two of his brothers—in the raid.  One brother, Captain William H. Forrest,¹ rode his horse into the lobby of the Gayoso Hotel looking for General C. C. Washburn.  Having been tipped off, Washburn escaped out the back of the Hotel and down an alley.  Today there is an alley named “General Washburn’s Escape Alley” in Memphis.

After the embarrassing defeat at Brice’s Crossroads (June 10, 1864), Washburn had sent a large force to destroy the Confederate stronghold at Oxford, Mississippi.  General Forrest gave orders for General Chalmers [James R. Chalmers] to defend Oxford for as long as possible while Forrest lead the raid into Memphis, objectives being to capture the three Union generals listed below in the news item, to free Confederate prisoners being held in the Irving Block Prison, and to cause the recall of the Union forces attacking General Chalmers in northern Mississippi.  The raid did not succeed in its objectives except for the recall of the Union troops.²  Union General Stephen A. Hurlbut was later quoted as saying, “There it goes again! They superseded me with Washburn because I could not keep Forrest out of West Tennessee, and Washburn cannot keep him out of his own bedroom!”


The News.

— The rebels made on the 21st another attempt to drive Grant’s army from the Weldon road, but were unsuccessful.  They lost 500 or 600 in killed and wounded and 400 prisoners.  Our loss was about 150.  Our forces are strongly entrenched, but it is not likely they will be allowed to hold their important position without further contests.  A dispatch of the 22d states the rebels are making a desperate attempt to retake the Weldon road, but it is believed that they cannot dislodge us.  [Ulysses S. Grant]

—The rebels have appearently [sic] given up the attempt to dislodge Warren from the Weldon Road, and have retired to their works at Petersburg.  It is rumored that a cavalry dash on the Danville Road has been made.

— There has been severe fighting in the Shenandoah Valley, near Charlestown [sic], which resulted, according to the dispatches, to the advantage of the rebels, as our army retired.

LATEST.—The news from the Upper Potomac shows that Gen. Early is in large force, and has succeeded in driving our forces out of the Shenandoah Valley, with considerable loss, and that another Northern invasion is threatened.  [Jubal A. Early]

Forrest's Raid Into Memphis—The Rebels at the Gayoso House (Sketched by George H. Ellsbury), from "Harper's Weekly"

Forrest’s Raid Into Memphis—The Rebels at the Gayoso House.—(Sketched by George H. Ellsbury), from “Harper’s Weekly”³

— On Thursday last Gen. Forrest left Gen. Smith’s front [A. J. Smith] at Oxford, Miss., and on Sunday made his appearance in the streets of Memphis, calling ot [sic: at] the headquarters of Generals Washburne [sic], Buckland [Ralph P. Buckland] and Hurlbut, and the Gayoso House. Fortunately these generals were absent, so Forrest was soon after compelled to leave without paying his respects to them.  Washburne [sic] will doubtless issue a proclamation against such visits in future.


Forrest’s Raid Into Memphis—Rebel Attack on the Irving Prison.—(Sketched by George H. Ellsbury), from Harper’s Weekly and Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War³

— The rebels have possession of Martinsburg, and rumors are afloat that they are crossing the Potomac.  The people of Maryland are again fleeing to Pennsylvania for protection.³

— A dispatch from Atlanta states that the rebel force was 80,000 men, and their works very strong.  Continued efforts are being made to break Sherman’s communications, but so far no serious damage has been done.  [William T. Sherman]

— A dispatch from New York says that Sherman’s plans for the reduction of Atlanta are working to the best advantage.

— There is another report from New York, that President Lincoln has sent five Commissioners, three Republicans and two Democrats, to Richmond to arrange terms of peace.  We think there is some grounds for the report, for gold has fallen 4 per cent.  [Abraham Lincoln]

News Items.

On the 16th the following sums of money were sent from Washington for the payments of troops :

Maj. Paulding, Washington, $1,000,000
Maj. Brice, Baltimore, 500,000
Maj. Usher, Fortress Monroe, 500,000
Maj. Allen, Louisville, 1,000,000
Maj. Cumback, Cincinnati, 1,000,000
Maj. Leshe, New York, 500,000

— A member of Gen. Burnside’s staff states that the General is not relieved, but is on a twenty days’ leave of absence.  It is extremely doubtful, however, if such is the fact, that he will return to his late command in the Army of the Potomac at the expiration of that period.  [Ambrose E. Burnside]

— A correspondent of a Philadelphia paper, writing from this city, states that the new Roman Catholic Archbishop of this diocese, and Bishop Potter, have signed a petition to the President praying for an armistice.—N. Y. Times.

— A Mobile paper states that Chalmers defeated a body of Federals at Abbeville, Miss., recently ;  while a Memphis dispatch announces that Smith gained a victory over Forest [sic], at Hurricane Creek, Mississippi, on the 13th.

— A letter from a Federal officer of high rank, conversant with the military situation, avers that Johnston [Joseph E. Johnston] has been replaced by Hood [John Bell Hood], at Atlanta, not because the former was not the better man, but to release him to what the rebel leaders regard a far more important mission—no less than to head the invasion of Pennsylvania.  The evidences are on the increase that give a probability to this view.

— Captain William Livingston, charged with being a rebel spy, was hung in the jail-yard at St. Louis on the 19th.  He died repeating the Lord’s Prayer and protesting his innocense [sic].  The execution caused much surprise, as Gen. Rosecran’s [sic: William S. Rosecrans] promised the prisoner’s wife that he would be respited for a week, and probably have the sentence commuted.  It is believed that an order for a respite, through the neglect of some surbordinate [sic], did not reach the officers having charge of the execution.  The deceased was respectably connected in Missouri.

1.  William Hezekiah Forrest (1825-1871) was a younger brother of General Nathan Bedford Forrest (1821-1877). Before the Civil War he lived in Memphis where he was in the slave trade with brothers Nathan B. and Aaron H. (1828-1864). William joined the Confederate Army in June or July, 1861, along with brothers Nathan B. and Jeffrey E. (1837-1864). William served as a cavalry officer and rose in rank to captain and then major. He led the charge against Colonel Abel D. Streight’s column at the Battle of Sand Mountain (Alabama), where he was wounded April 30, 1863. William skirmished for two miles before he received a ball through his thigh, breaking the bone.
2.  As of August 27, 2014, there was a fine discussion of the raid on a CivilWarTalk forum (“General Washburn’s Escape Alley,” posted May 26, 2014). For printed resources, try Notes of a Private, by John Milton Hubbard, Forrest’s Cavalry Corps, C.S.A. (Memphis: E.H. Clarke & Bro., 1909); available digitally on the Internet Archive, and The Campaigns of Lieut.-Gen. N. B. Forrest, and of Forrest’s Cavalry, by Thomas Jordan and J. P. Pryor (Memphis: Blelock & Co., 1868); available digitally on the Internet Archive.
3.  The September 10, 1864, issue of Harper’s Weekly included these two illustrations on page 588. The University of Wisconsin-River Falls’ Chalmer Davee Library has microfilm copies of Harper’s Weekly for 1858-1865 (UWRF online catalog).  The second illustration (Irving Prison) also appeared in Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil, page 574, with the caption “Forrest’s Raiders Attacking Irving Prison.”  Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War, by Alfred H. Guernsey and Henry M. Alden (Chicago: McDonnell, 1866-68) is available in the UWRF Archives (E 468.7 .G87 1866).

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