1864 October 29: First News of the Battle of Westport
This short weekly summary of war news comes from The Polk County Press of October 29, 1864. The much longer “Late and interesting Items” comes from The Prescott Journal of the same date.
The second item refers to the Battle of Westport, sometimes called the “Gettysburg of the West,” which was fought October 23, 1864, in Westport, Missouri (in modern-day Kansas City). This battle was the turning point of Price’s Missouri Expedition, forcing his army to retreat into hostile Kansas. The 8th Wisconsin Infantry, 9th Wisconsin Battery, and a detachment of the 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry participated in this battle.
In the next item, it is not Union General William T. Sherman himself who is following Confederate General John Bell Hood. While Sherman prepared for his March to the Sea, Hood planned to attack Sherman’s lines of communications between Chattanooga and Atlanta, and to move north through Alabama and into central Tennessee. He expected that Sherman would be threatened and follow, and that he could then maneuver Sherman into a decisive battle, defeat him, and go to the aid of the besieged Petersburg and Robert E. Lee. Sherman did not cooperate, however, and instead of pursuing Hood himself, Sherman sent General George H. Thomas to take control of the Union forces in Tennessee and coordinate the defense against Hood. The battle that is about to take place—and actually was just wrapping up as this paper was being published—was the Battle of Dcatur, fought October 26-29, 1864, at Decatur, Alabama, as part of what was called the Franklin-Nashville Campaign.
From The Polk County Press:
President Lincoln has issued a proclamation, setting apart the last Thursday in November for a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to Almighty God, throughout the United States, for victories over the rebels by our brave Army and Navy. [Abraham Lincoln]
— From Missouri we have the gratifying news that Price [Sterling Price] has at last got what he so richly deserves, a good thrashing. Price is retreating with great hast, followed closely by our forces under Rosecrans [William S. Rosecrans]. The Kansas militia under Jennison [Charles R. Jennison] and Montgomery [James Montgomery], met the rebels on the border and after a spirited battle utterly routed them, capturing many prisoners, several cannon and much plunder.
— Sherman is sharply following Hood, and a battle may occur at any moment. Hood is making for Alabama. At last accounts Sherman was only six miles in his rear. Hood is reported to be short of rations and forage. Beauregard [P.G.T. Beauregard] has assumed command of the rebel department of Georgia.
— Gold has stood between 206 and 217 during the week in New York.
— The Canada rebel thieves that recently entered Vermont and robbed the banks are being arrested by the Canadian authorities. Much of the stolen money has been recovered.
From The Prescott Journal:
— Minnesota has furnished 2,400 to the army under the July call. Good for Minnesota.
— The Union party in Nebraska has won a victory having elected their delegate to Congress.
— The “Times’ ” Army of the Potomac letter says : “The army is now burning wood cut several months ago for use in Richmond. Refugees say that fuel is very scarce in Richmond, selling at $80 to $100 per cord.”
— No other State election comes before the general election in November except West Virginia, where there is to be an election on the fourth Tuesday of October, the 25th inst., for Governor and other State officers, and for three Representatives in Congress.
— Ours is a paper blockade, the rebels say. In the fourteen months from August of last year, the North Atlantic squadron, off Wilmington, has captured fifty splendid prizes.
— A number of boys called the Junior Reserves of North Carolina, and consisting of one regiment and battalion, have offered their services to the rebel government and been received and placed to work in the trenches at Richmond.
— The Union procession in Philadelphia on Saturday night, was fourteen miles long. The display of banners and transparencies was on the most magnificent scale.