Wrapped in Flames: The Great American War and Beyond

to bid time and start a discussion

my "Wrapped In flames general tier list"
using feats from the story only

S tier Dundas thomas Lee Jackson
A tier Grant Hancock johnston most British Corp commanders in Canada east Longstreet
B Rosecrans Pope sherman Sheridan Forrest whoever was in charge of Canada west for the British I admit I forget there name

Unsure everyone else

F tier McClellan
McClellan getting arrested very nearly lost the Union Washington. I don't think he's F tier at all in this timeline.
to bid time and start a discussion

my "Wrapped In flames general tier list"
using feats from the story only

S tier Dundas thomas Lee Jackson
A tier Grant Hancock johnston most British Corp commanders in Canada east Longstreet
B Rosecrans Pope sherman Sheridan Forrest whoever was in charge of Canada west for the British I admit I forget there name

Unsure everyone else

F tier McClellan

Ironically it was Dundas charged with holding Canada West in 1862, and he did the best of an impossible situation. He's (TTL at least) an A or B rank commander who has very capable subordinates. William Fenwick Williams falls solidly in the B- rank IMO, he can hold a line but would probably be helpless on the attack, while of his subordinates in the persons of Frederick Paulet, Patrick Grant and David Russell are some of the best the British could get their hands on, for divisional or corps command at least.

The corps structure the British army adopts in 1863 would be very much a learning experience, and only Grant would probably have the chops to do it well, and the other commanders would struggle a bit.

On the Union side, Hancock absolutely belongs in the A tier, and he's well on his way to becoming the most recognized general of the war.

did Burnside fumble in this story? I seem to recall him doing a decent job tactically

Well he fumbled a bit, but honestly after Sumners 1863 heart attack Burnside was very unexpectedly thrust into the command slot, expected to go on campaign in Canada, and instead got whacked by the biggest British offensive of the war. So all things considered he did quite well actually.

he also let Lee push him to Washington and lost 2 campaigns to him

Rosecrans and Thomas are then presented as beating Lee back after he's removed

Eh, McClellan's not an F level commander, he did a good job holding the line in 1862 and, to observers at least, maintained the strategic goal of keeping Johnston/Lee out of Washington that year. The scale of the 1863 campaign caught him off guard, but he did mostly succeed in extricating the army to a defensible position (minus Mansfield who got cut off). Whether he could have held the city without relief is a matter of debate for historians, and whether he would have aggressively followed up the campaign compared to Rosecrans - which will be an argument TTL* - is very much up for debate. That at least makes him at worst a D- commander, but I'd place him in the D+ category myself. He doesn't really have the chops to run such a complex operation, and facing a Confederate army which not only outnumbers and can outmaneuver him would be his death warrant I think.

*In case your wondering I think the answers to both questions are a firm no.
Chapter 82: Mississippi Shuffle
Chapter 82: Mississippi Shuffle

"Give them Tarleton's Quarter." - Patriot refrain after the Battle of Waxhaws in 1780

1863, despite the ambitious plans of many, had become a year of military stalemate in the Great American War. The political division on every side shows the general malaise toward the conflict from the civilian perspective. Skirmishes on the New England and Transmississippi Fronts, massive sieges and battles in New York and Maryland, partisan actions and raids on the Great Lakes front, and the back and forth battles of strategic maneuver in Kentucky, had all contributed to the staggering casualty list accumulated that year alone. No front better demonstrated the general stalemate than that in West Tennessee, where the Union still held Memphis, the Confederates Corinth, with neither side making any strategic gains. A bloody battle at Union City did little more than reduce the strength of both sides.

Bloodier than field battles was the age-old problem of large armies since antiquity: disease. The two armies, made up of men from states further north or south of the theater, were unaccustomed to local conditions and diseases. Many men are debilitated by heat stroke; others are suffering from tuberculosis. This did not only affect the rank and file; General Johnston was debilitated by tuberculosis in November. He would fight to stay in command if the Army of Tennessee, but Beauregard was often assigned to take charge of day to day operations. The situation in Corinth was a mess; the town was not meant to hold a horde some 50,000 strong. Johnston, between his bouts, seems to have realized this, and intended to strike a decisive blow to unseat Grant from Union City, allowing him to encamp and supply his men more efficiently.

Johnston began marshalling their forces for their winter offensive. Along with Johnston's three Infantry Corps under Polk (12000 men), Bragg (18000) and Hardee (11500), Johnston had Beauregard's Army of Mississippi (now a single corps under the army's former artillery commander, John C. Pemberton, some 18000 strong), as well as a cavalry corps under Earl Van Dorn, with the cavalry divisions of Forrest (4700), Wheeler (5000), and Red Jackson (4700).

Johnston’s plan was to send Pemberton, Polk, and Hardee’s Corps, along with Wheeler’s cavalry, to march directly on Union City, hopefully taking the fortifications of the city by storm. However, his true thrust was Bragg, Forrest, and Jackson who would move to take Fort Pillow, cutting off Grant’s forces from their last bastion on the Mississippi. Bragg’s movement would be supported by Admiral Hollin’s fleet.

Despite the size of Johnston's force, cracks were already visible before the army began it's march. Disease had taken its toll on the army at Corinth; of around 25000 men Bragg had "present", only 18000 were "present effective". Polk's Corps, originally two veteran Tennessee divisions, had been reduced to a single division under Cheatham, offset by the addition of Loring's Mississippi division from Pemberton's Corps. Terrible conditions had also affected the cavalry arm; half of Wheeler's command would be dismounted, as was an entire brigade of Texans in Jackson's division; Forrest's command was only slightly better off than his counterparts. The lack of horses also limited the amount of artillery Johnston could bring on the march; half of the army’s cannon remained in the defenses around Corinth, while their crews marched with the infantry columns, hoping to capture Union cannon.

Also affecting the army was the quality of leadership. Disease had incapacitated several division and brigade commanders. Withers and Daniel W. Adams, commanding Bragg's two veteran divisions, were out of action, and had to be replaced by Generals Thomas Hindman and A. P. Stewart (of Polk's Corps) respectively. Pemberton had seen little action as a field commander, having mostly served in the defense of Fort Polk; he had yet to be tested. Finally, Johnston's cavalry was neutered by the loss of the arrogant but effective Van Dorn to a jealous husband, leaving command of his cavalry corps in limbo. Unable to decide on a replacement, Johnston chose to have his cavalry divisions act separately directly under his command. These choices would lead to the events that would transpire as the army started it's march, December 29th...

Grant needed to fill the void in his command. Grant had at his disposal three corps: 8th Corps, 12th Corps, and 19th Corps (sometimes mislabelled “9th Corps” in reports). 8th Corps, made up of men recruited the previous winter for the Memphis/Corinth campaign, was headless for a time. Grant decided he would give the command to John Schofield, a bulbous, cantankerous man with few command qualities but many prominent friends, and judged by Grant to be a loyal and reliable friend.

12th Corps had belonged to General, and contained most of Grant’s veterans from 1862. However, with Sherman’s death, Grant needed to pick a man to fill Sherman’s shoes. In that, he would excel with the choice he made. John Logan, an Illinois Congressman who picked up a gun during the disaster at First Bull Run, and soon after resigned his post to raise a regiment for the war, was elevated to command of 12th Corps. Logan, despite his lack of military education, would prove to be one of the finest Union generals of the entire conflict.

Finally was the 19th Corps, containing both veterans and new troops. Stephen Hurlbut had been in command of this Corps since its inception; however, he was not seen as an able field commander, and Grant decided to place him in command of the Post of Paducah (controlling his supply line). In Hurlbut’s place, Grant promoted James B. McPherson, his chief engineer, to Major General. McPherson had only recently turned 35 years old by his promotion. He had graduated at the top of his West Point class in 1853, alongside Phil Sheridan, Schofield, and John Bell Hood. He had served in the Corps of Engineers, and had served on Grant’s staff during the sieges of Forts Henry and Donelson, and later at Memphis and Corinth. He briefly commanded a provisional corps during the Union City Campaign, for which Grant felt he had done well enough to garner promotion to field command.

Grant had by this point in the conflict finally realized the value of the cavalry arm. He had assigned regiments and companies to the various corps and divisions of the army, diluting his cavalry strength and making them less than useless for anything other than a headquarter guard. Meanwhile, the Confederates had organized their cavalry into concentrated divisions, and Johnston had used them to great effect against Grant in the Corinth and Union City Campaigns. This, along with reports of successes in Kentucky, had convinced Grant to organize his cavalry into at least a division. Command of this force fell to Colonel Benjamin Grierson, who had shown his mettle in several cavalry skirmishes as the commander of the sole organized brigade of cavalry in the army.

Grant chose to split his army for the winter, making, as McPherson would describe in his postwar memoir, “no account for the actions of his opponent”. 8th Corps (19500 men, 52 guns) remained at Union City. 12th Corps (16500 men, 64 guns) and 19th Corps (16500 men, 66 guns) stayed at Covington to be the main striking arm. Grierson’s Cavalry (4400 men, 6 guns) had its three brigades posted to Holly Springs, Moscow, and Somerville, to provide a screen to detect the movement of Johnston, if any was to be made. Earlier in December, Curtis began to march with three of his divisions (16500 men, 54 guns) to reinforce Grant, but poor roads in Southern Missouri and difficulty in organizing transportation resulted in delays for the otherwise able Iowan.


First federal contact with the rebel column came from Grierson’s cavalrymen at Moscow. The main Confederate column had started marching along the length of the Memphis & Charleston Railroad, whilst Bragg’s Column marched towards Somersville and Covington. In the vanguard were the cavalry of Joe Wheeler and Forrest, respectively. Though they managed to push aside Grierson’s men, the Confederates began to notice the improvement in the skill of their adversary. They delayed the advance of the Confederate vanguard, and by extension the main columns, allowing Grant time to react. Grierson’s reports showed the Confederate move on Somersville to be a mere feint, and so, Grant order McPherson to move to Union City on December 30th, to reinforce Logan against the main Confederate thrust. Steele was also ordered south, though it was clear he could do little in the immediate situation but reinforce Grant after the fact, or allow for a rear guard for the rest of Grant’s force in case of a defeat.

Wheeler’s command reached the outskirts of Union City by the late afternoon of the 30th. Here, Wheeler’s men, reinforced by CHurchill’s Division, Pemberton’s Corps, skirmishes with outlying units of 12th Corps. Morgan L. Smith’s 5th Division holds the center of the Union line along the Hernando Road; Francis P. Blair Jr’s 6th Division holds the left along Pigeon Roost Road; and Mortimer Leggett’s 3rd Division holds Fort Pickering along the bank of the Mississippi. Many blacks take up arms, helping man the fortress guns and perform other rear area duties.

Johnston decided to wait on his assault until the morning, receiving word from Wheeler that McPherson was stationed in Jackson, not Covington, and would not arrive until New Years Day. Thus, Beauregard, taking over operational control from Johnston, aligned their forces along the line for the coming assault. Beauregard chose not to concentrate on any one front; instead, he’d merely assigned his largest force (Pemberton’s) in the center to break through and cut off the outer defences while Hardee and Polk demonstrated on the flanks.

At 4 am, the men of Francis M. Cockerill’s Missouri Brigade, Bowen’s Division, Pemberton’s Corps, were awoken and put into position to assault. They were considered by many in the army, from Beauregard to Bragg to Sterling Price as the best drilled and trained brigade in the whole Western theater. Many of them had been veterans of the early clashes in Missouri, from Camp Jackson to Wilson’s Creek; had suffered defeat at Wilson’s Creek; had helped retake Nashville and repulse Grant at Memphis. Recently exchanged from Price’s garrison at Memphis, they had much to prove now in the face of the enemy.

Among their number was Captain Joseph Boyce, commanding the “St. Louis Grays” of the 1st Missouri. He and the men of his company were Irish, as were many in the brigade, especially in his 1st Missouri and the 5th Missouri. He noted the lineup of the brigade as it prepared for its assault across the Overton Tract. From left to right stood: 4th Missouri, 1st Missouri, 6th Missouri, 2nd Missouri, and 3rd Missouri. 5th Missouri stood as the brigade reserve. To the brigade’s left stood Martin Green’s Arkansas and Missouri Brigade; to the right stood Matthew Ector’s “Chubs” (Texans) of Churchill’s Division. Behind them stood Duncan’s Johnson’s and Gardner’s Divisions to reinforce any breach in the line.

The assault kicked off at 5 am. An advance picket line pushed back their Union counterparts back to their entrenchments. For the most part, the Confederates had marched forth with minimal casualties, the federals barely firing a shot. “We began to wonder,” wrote Boyce, “If the Federals were still there”.

But when they got within 100 yards, all hell broke loose. The men of Morgan L. Smith’s Division opened fire with 3700 rifles, and 22 cannon. Fire tore through the right flank of the brigade. Colonel Eugene Erwin, commanding 6th Missouri, chided his men forward, as a bullet struck him in the head, killing him instantly. Colonel Amos C. Riley of the 1st Missouri was also struck down with three bullets at once, dying instantly. Colonel Archibald MacFarland of the 4th Missouri was bisected by an artillery shell, lingering for a short agonizing time before succumbing to his gruesome wounds.

Still, the Confederates came forward. Cockerill pushed his men forward, steadily, and eventually, 1st and 6th Missouri reached the enemy works. Here, the Confederates had to trudge through the enemy abatis, taking heavy casualties in the process. But soon enough, 1st Missouri had become the first regiment to reach the face of the entrenchments. Here, Sergeant John Ragland and Captain Boyce spotted the colors of the 4th West Virginia to their front. Ragland made a move on the color bearer. Boyce spotted a federal rifleman turn his gaze to Ragland and prepared to shoot the brave man. Boyce, acting quickly, picked up a handful of dirt and, at point blank range, threw it in the face of the Union man from the Kanawha. Another man of the 1st Missouri came up to shoot the temporarily blinded federal. Ragland grabbed the enemy colors, and, on Boyce’s orders, ran to the rear with the flag. It would be the high point of the action that day for the Confederates at Union City.

Though it seemed a breakthrough was to be made, with the Missouri Brigade clambering over the works, in truth, the tide was turning back in the Union’s favor. General Logan had pulled up John D. Stevenson’s Brigade from Leggett’s Division to reinforce Smith in the center. Seeing the breakthrough of the Missouri Brigade, Logan ordered Stevenson into the breach.

Among the men of Stevenson’s Brigade was the 7th Missouri Irish, recruited from St. Louis, like the Confederate 1st and 5th Missouri, and now they proceeded to lay into their brethren. They overran many of the 6th Missouri, which was the first of the brigade to collapse and run for the rear. Lt. Colonel Garland, now commanding 1st Missouri, ordered his men to fall back, lest they share the fate of the 6th, and similar orders passed down the line. Not everyone got the order, as 160 men were captured by Stevenson’s Brigade. Company F, 5th Missouri, under Captain Patrick Canniff, provided the rearguard, losing 38 of its 53 men in the process.

In less than an hour, the Federals had decimated two of Pemberton’s best divisions. Bowen was wounded and would eventually die of disease in Mobile. Martin Green was killed with a bullet through the skull. Brigadier Ector lost a leg to an artillery shell, surviving but unfit for further combat. The Missouri Brigade had suffered most heavily. 6th Missouri lost its Colonel and Major killed, and its Lt. Colonel wounded and captured, along with 262 of its 370 men, a casualty rate of 71%. 5 out of 6 colonels had been killed or mortally wounded (only Colonel James McCown of the lightly engaged 5th Missouri survived). In total, around 960 men had been killed, wounded or captured, out of some 2400 men engaged. The regiments were consolidated into the 1st/5th Missouri under Colonel McCown, 2nd/4th Missouri under Captain (soon Colonel) Peter C. Flourney, and 3rd/6th Missouri under Colonel Lucien Gause. Bowen’s division was combined with Churchill’s division.

Little activity occurred on the right flank, as Polk interpreted the order to demonstrate against the federal left as an order to dig in and do nothing. Meanwhile, on the left near Fort Pickering, Johnston noted the withdrawal of Stevenson’s brigade, and thinking that the Federals were abandoning the fort, he ordered Hardee to take it by storm. Hardee wanted to wait for the naval support of Hollins to support his attack, but Johnston insisted. Thus, Hardee ordered Roger Hanson’s Division to move forward.

Hanson’s 4800 men, took on the 4500 men under Leggett’s command at the fort. Leggett’s garrison was supported by his own artillery and those of the fortress, plus the gunboats Tyler and Lexington. Hanson’s assault devolved immediately into a pell mell assault, as Hanson was killed, along with the commanders of both Kentucky Brigades. 1st and 2nd Kentucky Brigade lost 1200 out of their 2800 men. John C. Brown ordered a retreat.

The situation at the city had stabilized for the Union. Around noon, McPherson arrived with his corps, and Grant ordered him to prepare a counter attack on the left. By 2 pm, McPherson went all out. Polk was pushed back; Marcus Wright’s brigade was overrun and routed, its commander nowhere to be seen. Polk, trying to rally his men, was killed by a cannonball. Command passed to General Cheatham. Johnston, seeing the disaster unfolding on his right, moved forward with Hebert’s and Martin’s Brigades of Gardner’s Division to counterattack. In the process, Johnston was stricken with a wound, having to be removed from the field. Martin was also mortally wounded, and Hebert was wounded as well. McPherson’s assault stalled more due to lack of momentum than Confederate resistance.

It was then that Beauregard was informed of the predicament. McPherson could potentially cut off the army’s retreat to Corinth if it pushed Cheatham any harder. He could not take Union City; the day’s butcher’s bill proved that. Thus, the Creole ordered his men to pull back to Germantown. The 2nd Battle of Union City was over, with some 8000 Confederate and 5000 Union casualties.

However, even as Beauregard was calling for a retreat, another battle brewed to the south, Johnston's plans had not failed to bear fruit..." - On the Shores of the Mississippi: The Western Theater of the Great American War, Francis McKean, University of Boston, 1996

"The timing of McPherson’s move to Union City was almost perfectly timed for the Confederates, as Bragg moved through Covington just 30 minutes after the tail of McPherson’s command pulled out of the city. Only a small detachment was left to garrison the town, which was quickly captured with little resistance.

Bragg’s eye lay on Fort Pillow, recently renamed Fort Sherman. Taking this post would undermine Grant’s position, and would essentially force the Union all the way back ti Island No. 10 and undo almost all the great advances of 1862. To capture this post, Bragg would send Forrest with his two cavalry divisions and Hindman’s Infantry Division to take that vital strong point.

Fort Sherman was held by 4000 men, initially commanded by Brigadier Elias Dennis. Alongside Dennis’ brigade of white Illinoians was the so-called “African Brigade” of Colonel Isaac F. Shepard, containing some for the first Colored Troops organized west of the Appalachians. None of these men, besides some field officers, had been in combat, and Grant had a low opinion on the quality of the garrison. Thus, in early November, he replaced Dennis in command with Joseph Mower.

“Fighting Joe” Mower was a hard fighting officer before the war, and had proven himself an able commander. He had been involved in Pope’s debacles around Island Number 10, and received wounds at Memphis and Corinth. Recently returned to command, Mower got to work drilling his men into fighting shape, as well as improving the supply situation. The garrison managed to gather enough ammunition to field 3600 riflement and 24 guns to man the fortress. In addition, the gunboat Memphis provided naval support. On New Year's Eve, Mower and his men would face off an opponent five times their number.

Forrest arrived in front of Fort Sherman around 3 pm. The Wizard of the Saddle was frustrated by his lack of artillery, only having enough horses for his cavalrymen. A single 4 gun battery, directed by Felix Robertson, provided support for the coming assault. For this, Forrest placed Hindman’s division to assault the center of the fortress line, with Forrest’s division (under Frank Armstrong) to the right and Red Jackson’s Division to the left.

Forrest’s assault launched at 4 pm. A bloodbath ensued. Union fortress and naval artillery decimated the Confederate ranks, and as they got closer to the fort, rifle fire tore into the gray lines. Charles Phifer’s Texas Brigade, made up of dismounted cavalrymen, was the first to reach the face of the fortifications, but was soon torn to shreds. Colonel Lawrence “Sul” Ross was shot from his horse, pinned to the ground and left for dead as the Texans, having suffered 40% casualties, broke for the rear. Little is recorded of Phifer’s presence in the battle, who will later be cashiered for drunkenness.

Eventually, Hindman’s and Armstrong’s Divisions reached the works by 430. From there, a back and forth fire fight ensued along the works, with the garrison suffering heavy casualties. Among them was General Mower, shot in the forehead and exposing his brain. He would be out of action for the rest of the year, and only given administrative roles from then on. Dennis took command of the now weakening garrison.

Forrest was overseeing the progress of his division on the right, when he saw his brother Jeffrey, leading one of his brigades, mounting the works to urge his men forward. Before the younger Forrest could open his mouth, a union bullet struck him down, mortally wounding him. This threw the emotionally unstable general into a rage, and Forrest chided his men forward with intense cursing, and orders of “No quarter” are believed to have originated with him.

Eventually, men from Dibrell’s Brigade overran the Union left flank. It was here the massacres began. As many Union troops here, mostly from the African Brigade, realized the hopelessness of further resistance, and began presenting white flags and raised arms. The confederate troops, ignoring this, proceeded to strike many of them down, with knives, swords, bayonets, and rifle butts. Forrest and his artillery chief, Lt. Colonel Felix Robertson of Texas, proclaimed “No quarter” as they passed by their troops; Robertson is said to have bragged afterwards of having “killed a hundred negros” personally. Many of the black troops, realizing their surrender would not be accepted, proceeded to run for the river bank, trying to make their way towards the USS Memphis, only to find its flighty and inexperienced captain had begun to scuttle the vessel. As the Confederates chased them down, many tried to swim across the river; hundreds drowned.

Soon after seeing their black comrades on the left lay down their arms, Dennis’ white troops proceeded to do the same, allowing Hindman to move his men to take the Fort. Hindman, riding to the front to receive Dennis’ surrender, mounted the parapet and became witness to the massacre unfolding. Appalled by what he sees, Hindman rode forward with his staff to find General Forrest to get his men back in line.

Hindman found the Memphis slave trader rattling his saber, shouting murderous orders mixed with obscenities. He was brought out of his stupor by the voice of Hindman, calling for the general to calm his troops. An argument ensued between the two, the content of which is conflicted by the two participant’s post-hoc writings on the incident. Eventually, Forrest pulled a gun on Hindman, threatening to kill the backwoods politician. Hindman, returning the favor, pulled out his own pistol. A brief stalemate ensued, before Forrest holstered his weapon, saying “You answered correctly”, before turning to his troops, chiding them to halt their massacre.

It took some time to get Forrest’s men under control. All told, of the nearly 2000 blacks soldiers who fought at Fort Pillow, some 360 had fallen among their breastworks. Another 500 (sources are conflicted on the exact count) were found behind the lines, many with their backs turned towards the river. Not only were the black rank and file killed, but many of the white officers as well. Colonel Hermann Lieb of the 2nd Tennessee Colored Regiment was found face down with his head cut open, some 200 yards from the works. Colonel Isaac Shephard, commanding the brigade, was found dead on the bank of the Mississippi, under a pile of brutalized black soldiers. 19 of the 21 officers of the 2nd Mississippi Colored had been killed. The highest ranking officer of the brigade still alive was Colonel Hiram Scofield, who escaped his fate by being wounded early in the action and taken to an aid station.

The garrison had lost 1400 men killed or wounded in the engagement, with the remaining 2600 soldiers and some 400 civilians (mostly runaway slaves and the families of the black soldiers) being captured. Some 1300 former slaves were marched south to return to their old life of servitude. It is of mixed consolation that these men helped inflict a staggering 3740 casualties upon the confederates, 950 of which came from Forrest’s division alone.

In the long term, despite it being a tactical coup for the Confederate Army, the Battle of Fort Sherman (and more pertinent the massacre) will cause ripples which would begin to tear at the thin veneer of British support for the Southern cause, as well as riling up the North against the barbarism shown by the Confederates against surrendering black soldiers. As news of the battle spread, the common refrain amongst the Colored Troops in 1864 would be 'give them Forrest's Quarter,' and all the horror that would entail. " - The Massacre at Fort Sherman, Stuart Mills, American Military Quarterly, 1980


The Massacre at Fort Sherman

The next morning, New Years Day 1864, would see Bragg in high spirits. His men had driven back the Union by taking Fort Sherman and Covington. A siege was inevitable. With the destruction of Grant’s primary field army, the Union would have to scrounge for a new force from the isolated remnants, and the Confederates would be in an excellent position to invade Missouri and Kentucky, and even move across the Ohio into Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. This war would not be over by Christmas; it’d be over before July.

However, he would soon be in for a rude awakening. Samuel Curtis’ 16th Corps had arrived at Ashport that night, while Steele’s 8th Corps arrived by train at Brownsville. The two would meet at Ripley at noon, when Bragg received word from Beauregard (now in immediate command, as Johnston had fallen ill) of the retreat from Union City. Bragg order Hindman and Forrest to join him at Covington, destroying all equipment at Fort Sherman, rendering the fort unusable. They rejoined Bragg around 2 oclock. Bragg then prepared the withdrawal. He had Hindman and Forrest (with Phifer’s Brigade of Jackson’s division attached) leave first, moving through Somerville, while Bragg’s two remaining infantry divisions under Stewart and Walker, as well as the rest of Red Jackson’s cavalry, would guard the flanks.

Forrest moved first, followed by Hindman and the Corps supply trains (guarded by Phifer’s Texans). The movement went smoothly for Bragg until at 4pm, when Curtis, with some 35000 men at his disposal, finally attacked Bragg’s position. Walker’s division was pulverized, with Stewart’s division barely keeping the line steady. Bragg slowly but surely pulled his men from the line. With the fall of night, Bragg had Walker, then Stewart, fall back through Covington, with Red Jackson, acting as the rear guard, not passing through until near midnight.

The sharp action at Covington had added another 4850 casualties to the Confederates, along with the loss of 6 cannon. In total, Confederate casualties in the Second Battle of Union City reached some 17000. Grant and Curtis, meanwhile, had suffered some 12000 casualties, including some 3000 men captured, and around 3600 dead. Thus far, it is the bloodiest distinct battle west of the Appalachian Mountains.

This would be Johnston’s final campaign of the war. Already in poor health, Johnston was forced to face the fact he was in no condition to lead men in battle, and reluctantly he requested that he be relieved to recuperate in his adoptive Texas. Thus, the Confederacy’s bravest soldier was forced to resign January 30th, 1864, to the great sorrow of his command. "With him goes the hope of Kentucky and Missouri," Breckinridge would commiserate from Richmond when he received the news.

Command of Department No. 2 would be given to Beauregard, at least temporarily, while President Davis debated Johnston’s replacement..." -
On the Shores of the Mississippi: The Western Theater of the Great American War, Francis McKean, University of Boston, 1996


Again credit for much of this to a fan writer as we catch up out West in 1864. Some edits on my part, but much of the action and description you can give to them. I hope I haven't butchered their intent in the editing process!
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Just as it seems things might wind down, it seems Forrest has injected a new level of brutality into this war.

Sadly it was bound to happen eventually.

aw I like grant

but on the other hand I always felt jonhston got a short stick so...

Well Grant still has a leg up for the moment! How long that lasts, well we shall see.

great writing as usual of course

Don't thank me, thank the contributor from another site who does this great stuff! Chapter 83 will be all me however!
Very good. couple of minor points to be in rude health actually means to be very well not the opposite as you seem to have here and its bouts not boughts. You have a Sherman missing as well at one point. .
Very good. couple of minor points to be in rude health actually means to be very well not the opposite as you seem to have here and its bouts not boughts. You have a Sherman missing as well at one point. .

Something always gets missed in editing! Thanks for the catches and correcting me on rude health. One of those things I assumed meant different!
With Johnston gone, I suspect the Western Theatre will begin to turn decisively against the Confederates, and with it the war. I am also unfortunately foreseeing USCT formations committing atrocities against the Southern civilian population down the road
Sooner or later somebody must grow tired of these indecisive engagements and the endless see-sawing.

I think Grant still has the edge, but his country is the one that has to keep grinding out these costly victories. Especially since, I suspect, the peace talks with the Brits will falter or get dragged out beyond the urgency that situation requires.
With Johnston gone, I suspect the Western Theatre will begin to turn decisively against the Confederates, and with it the war. I am also unfortunately foreseeing USCT formations committing atrocities against the Southern civilian population down the road

There's going to be some problems in the West that's for certain. However, I wouldn't see the USCT's committing atrocities against the civilian population. However, those men captured and re-enslaved after Fort Sherman? Well they've had a taste of freedom and held a musket. As Frederick Douglas said, don't expect them to forget that any time soon...

Sooner or later somebody must grow tired of these indecisive engagements and the endless see-sawing.

I think Grant still has the edge, but his country is the one that has to keep grinding out these costly victories. Especially since, I suspect, the peace talks with the Brits will falter or get dragged out beyond the urgency that situation requires.

It is sadly the outcome of no decisive edge by either side in the West in terms of numbers. The Confederacy's greatest advantage TTL is that their river fleet has survived and they have recaptured Memphis and Nashville which allows them to maintain a line of communications and advance up the Mississippi. Grant's lack of advantage in ironclads on the river has been an enormous strategic problem because he has to husband those resources (as seen by the problems created when he attempted to repeat his advances of 1862 in early 1863) lest the Confederates get an edge and be able to just sail up the Mississippi.

The more pressing problem for now is that the area between Paducah and Memphis has been so thoroughly foraged and burned by the opposing armies that its a veritable wasteland. Campaigning along that axes will be a nightmare.
I have to say, I am sad to see Albert Sidney Johnston go, but as it stands the question of who replaces him should be interesting. Davis typically favored the people who knew and liked for commands, which makes me think that Bragg would have a chance but Beauregard has the command currently and has experience with it, Joe Johnston is roaming around, and since Breckinridge has been a fairly success Corps commander and is the most prominent Kentuckian I could see his appointment. The massacre will definitely hurt the Confederacy in foreign relations but they do have the argument that they stormed the fort in their favor to a slight degree, massacres happen in those situations. I think the bottom is out of the top for the Union however, like Lee IRL, Grant has achieved multiple successes but the economy supporting him can’t sustain it much longer without peace with England I am excited for the next chapter
Chapter 83: War to the Knife
Chapter 83: War to the Knife

“ Art. 82. Men, or squads of men, who commit hostilities, whether by fighting, or inroads for destruction or plunder, or by raids of any kind, without commission, without being part and portion of the organized hostile army, and without sharing continuously in the war, but who do so with intermitting returns to their homes and avocations, or with the occasional assumption of the semblance of peaceful pursuits, divesting themselves of the character or appearance of soldiers - such men, or squads of men, are not public enemies, and, therefore, if captured, are not entitled to the privileges of prisoners of war, but shall be treated summarily as highway robbers or pirates.

Art. 85. War-rebels are persons within an occupied territory who rise in arms against the occupying or conquering army, or against the authorities established by the same. If captured, they may suffer death, whether they rise singly, in small or large bands, and whether called upon to do so by their own, but expelled, government or not. They are not prisoners of war; nor are they if discovered and secured before their conspiracy has matured to an actual rising or armed violence.” - Prepared by Francis Lieber, promulgated as General Orders No. 100 by President Lincoln, 24 April 1863.

“Since 1862 Kentucky had effectively been a state at war with itself. While on the outbreak of the civil war the state had avoided secession and tried to commit itself in vain to the cause of neutrality, first the Confederate invasion, and then Union counterattack, had placed the state firmly in the crosshairs of both sides.

Johnston’s late 1862 invasion with its titanic battles from the Salt River to Bardstown had seen western portion of the state fall under Confederate control. The flight of the pro-Union governor Magoffin had seriously dented the morale of all those who supported the Union, but the continual failure of the Confederate forces to mount an effective siege of Louisville meant that their control rarely extended far beyond the southern and western most counties. Federal and Confederate raiders plied the countryside ‘requisitioning’ from civilians as it pleased them. Men loyal to the Confederacy might one day have their goods taken without compensation for the war effort one day by Union cavalry and have the remainder ‘requisitioned’ by Confederate forces with promises of pay ‘upon the cessation of hostilities’ and men loyal to the Union would face much the same problem. It prompted a quick uptick in guerilla violence which necessitated the use of nearly 20,000 troops to maintain order in the Union rear.

With the fall of Frankfort and the flight of the civilian government, Lincoln had placed Kentucky under military rule in August of 1862. At first this had been done under the light hand of Buell, but as that became difficult the responsibility for organizing those portions of Kentucky still under Union control was divided between Grant and Buell. This effectively placed the military in charge of all decisions, with rationing and requisition the order of the day.

This proved to be so unwieldy however that by June of 1863 Lincoln placed a single man in charge of the governing of Kentucky. His selection has remained contentious to this day but on July 19th 1863 Stephen G. Burbridge was placed in command of all of Kentucky.

Burbridge was a Kentucky native, born in Georgetown, and had never served before the outbreak of war. A lawyer by trade, he had been known to Lincoln along the circuit courts in his pre-political years. That he had enthusiastically joined the war effort, recruiting the 26th Kentucky Infantry and fighting hard as a regimental and briefly brigadier commander in the push up the Mississippi had made him a politically expedient choice. He defended the president’s right to suspend habeas corpus, and would stand by it over his entire tenure as military governor.

Making his headquarters at Louisville, Burbridge quickly began working hard to tamp down on the black market and trade with the rebels. This was, almost predictably, accompanied by a rise in guerilla violence as men arrested for smuggling either escaped or armed themselves to fight against what they saw as an increasing encroachment on their liberties…

…the Emancipation Proclamation presented significant difficulties for Union rule in Kentucky. While many attitudes had been crystalized by the British declaration of war in 1862, Kentuckians were notably cool in their reception of the Proclamation. Lincoln had astutely sidestepped difficulties by not forcing the enlistment of black soldiers on Kentucky’s soil, but many regiments suffered rising desertion as they saw “Radical Abolitionism” taking over the government's decisions from Washington.

By the beginning of 1864 this had become severe enough that Burbridge began to take more direct action. Deserters who were captured were publicly executed, and conscription was enacted throughout the state. Twisting the knife Burbridge offered any man who declined conscription a fee of 50$ to pay for the enlistment of a substitute, which was more often than not a black male.

In March of 1864 Burbridge used this as justification to raise the Kentucky Colored Brigade to garrison Louisville. Unsurprisingly, it sparked outrage even amongst Unionists who had assumed that no former slaves would take up arms in Kentucky. The matter spiraled out of control when a Colored Volunteer was murdered outside a saloon and when his comrades intervened a riot began necessitating Federal troops to put down. In response Burbridge hung three men held responsible (who to this day critics charge had nothing to do with the murder), merely earning the ire of many citizens and cementing his epithet as “Butcher Burbridge” among Kentuckians. After the hangings, Union troops would not wander the city alone and one Ohio soldier would write home that “there are as many traitors in Louisville as Richmond.


Stephen G. Burbridge, the "Butcher" of Kentucky

In Confederate controlled territory, though the facade of civilian government was present, military rule remained the norm. Though Governor George Johnson consulted his citizens, by 1864 most had realized that true control of Kentucky was in the hands of Kirby Smith.

Having been responsible for the fighting in Kentucky in 1862, and the less than successful fighting against Thomas in 1863, Smith had spent much of that time trying to recruit his forces up to strength and so had eagerly embraced the decision to implement conscription in November 1863. Enthusiastically snapping up less than enthusiastic conscripts Smith managed to rebuild the forces he had done such a good job exhausting in 1863 into a more coherent fighting force. He was also able to detach men to police ever restive East Tennessee. Smith’s writ extended so far across these regions that they became colloquially known as “Kirby Smithdom,” which the energetic commander effectively ruling them as his own military fief.

This would all change in the spring of 1864…

Missouri was a hell all its own. Since the early uprisings by Confederate sympathizers in 1861, and the departure of Sterling Price and his Missouri State Guards the country had been, on the surface, solidly for the Union. Underneath that veneer of loyalty however, a civil war just as bloody as that raging across the nation was tearing the state apart.

Since Price had been driven from the state, the pro-Union state government had sought to enforce control, but found itself struggling to maintain law and order across much of the interior away from St. Louis. Much of the conflict had, effectively, become an extension of the violence from Bleeding Kansas years prior. The war was an excuse for old scores to settle and regional and political grievances hammered out under the legitimacy of one flag or another. Most annoying for the Union were Jayhawker raids against perceived civilian "Confederate sympathizers" which alienated Missourians and made maintaining the peace even harder for the Unionist provisional government. The violence had already reached such a pitch by late 1861 that Halleck would write “A few more such raids by so-called patriots against these communities would render Missouri as unanimous against us as is Eastern Virginia.

This merely encouraged pro-Southern “Bushwhackers” into retaliation. Such raids were rarely against Union garrisons, and often against Union sympathetic farmers, towns and civilians. Infamous bushwhackers such as William C. Quantrill, William "Bloody Bill" Anderson, and Silas M. Gordon would carve paths of flaming, bloody destruction across much of Northern Missouri and Kansas…


The Destruction of Lawrence, Kansas 1863

…the most infamous massacre came in August of 1863 when Quantrill’s Raiders descended on the pro-Union town. The attack was the product of careful planning. Quantrill had been able to gain the confidence of many of the leaders of independent raiders, choosing the day and time of the attack well in advance. The different groups of Missouri raiders approached Lawrence from the east in several independent columns, and converged with well-timed precision in the final miles before Lawrence during the pre-dawn hours of the 21st of August.

Such was the speed and surprise of the attack that many could not even retrieve their weapons in the initial raid. Riding through the town and firing almost at random the raiders converged on the Eldrige House, a large brick building. From there the raiders fanned out, looting and burning as they went. Taking men known to be Unionists, Jayhawkers or suspected of either, they executed them on the spot. Over the course of four hours they murdered 164 civilians, among them 18 of 23 unmustered army recruits. Over a quarter of the city was burned and only two businesses in the whole of Lawrence were unlooted. Come 9 am the raiders were making their way out of the city, eluding any armed response.

The attack was primarily one of vengeance by Quantrill against forces led by Charles Jennison, and Quantrill himself would claim it was for the attack on Oscela in September 1861. Many witnesses would conform this, but it was hardly an excuse for the outright destruction and looting of the town.

In response, the Union would issue the infamous General Order No. 11… the order specified all residents of the rural areas of four counties (Jackson, Cass, Bates and Vernon) south of the Missouri River on the Kansas border were to leave their property, which was then burned. The order applied to farmers regardless of their loyalty, although those who could prove their loyalty to the Union could stay in designated towns and those who could not were exiled entirely to other regions, and many would flee south to Confederate territory. It was infamously immortalized in George C. Bingham’s 1868 painting.

In a dark irony the expulsions were mainly carried out by the Jayhawkers themselves, led by Charles Jennison. They were not gentle, whipping men and forcing many out of their homes at gunpoint, and occasionally forcing the families to watch as their properties were burned. If at all possible, this merely exacerbated the violence in the region and pushed many into a state of total war made worse by the campaign of 1864. It was a problem which would continue well into 1866…


General Order No. 11, immortalized in Bingham's painting

After Sheridan’s short and brutal anti-guerilla campaign in May of 1863 had ended with the near destruction of Pollard’s Rangers, the occupation of Canada had settled into a series of occasional guerilla actions and the slow “siege” of Toronto. The British forces, not numerically strong enough to take the city, and the American forces, demoralized and unable to advance for want of supplies, merely settled into trench lines north of the city. The desultory skirmishing provoked a great deal of consternation amongst the Canadian Volunteers, and General Williams had to do something to alleviate it.

It was this which led to “Denison’s Ride” as young and plucky twenty-three year old, Major George T. Denison III of the York Dragoons, volunteered to lead a cavalry raid behind enemy lines. Williams was, at first, skeptical, but seeing the need to raise morale, and demonstrate to the peoples of Canada that something was being done, he authorized Denison’s raid.


George Taylor Denison III, circa 1861

Gathering his own experienced troop and many other riders, Denison assembled just shy of 600 horsemen to accompany him. On July 1st they first rode north to Churchill, well away from American lines and then circled south again, surprising the small garrison at Weston, burning a stockpile of supplies but sprinting away before reinforcements from the city could reach them.

Sprinting south they reached Cookeville, and again burned American supplies. By the 6th of July the alarm had been sounded and parties of riders were moving alone the rail lines hoping to catch them. In this they failed quite miserably. The most effective raiders would have been Sheridan’s mounted troops which were at that time moving south to deal with raids against the rail lines close to Detroit and thus for a period of two weeks did Denison’s riders have two uninterrupted weeks to savage the American occupation.

For brief moments they were joined by local guerillas, helping them identify collaborators and informants, also knowing where patrols were located and where American garrisons might attempt to stall them. This allowed Denison to quite effortlessly joyride his way around the nearly 3,000 men eventually mustered to stop him, and burn over 100,000$ in war materials and supplies destined for the front. He completed his ride with the most risky maneuver swinging as close to Toronto as Mimico before moving north through Lambton and again back to British lines.

The maneuver would greatly embarrass the American authorities and give heart to the Canadians. The siege would linger into 1864 and the armistice of April, after which point the…” – Rangers, Bushwhackers and Jayhawkers, Irregular Fighters in the Great American War, West Point, 1971


Other than the bits in Kentucky, the brutality of what took place in Missouri is all true, and while Burbridge did indeed earn the epithet "The Butcher of Kentucky" his OTL reputation has probably been... overstated by the Lost Cause. TTL, well, maybe not so much considering how brutal the war is. I have borrowed some descriptions from Wikipedia to be concise and did intend to go more into the Lieber Code which I quote from as the chapter header, but this is a lengthy one filled with the horrors of war and the codifications of the law are more than a tad depressing.

If you're looking for more on the guerilla war in Canada, Chapter 61 contains the mainstay of how I thought a guerilla campaign may play out in an American invasion of the 1860s. And don't worry, we haven't seen the last of the Denison family in this story!
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That was a very apt title for the chapter.

I can't help but think that the Union is going to lose Kentucky when all is said and done.

The Union is too well fortified in St. Louis for Missouri to be truly contested, but I foresee a lot of post-war angst in that state regarding the increasingly bloody behaviour on both sides.
That was a very apt title for the chapter.

I can't help but think that the Union is going to lose Kentucky when all is said and done.

The Union is too well fortified in St. Louis for Missouri to be truly contested, but I foresee a lot of post-war angst in that state regarding the increasingly bloody behaviour on both sides.

Thank you!

Well like Sherman (RIP) said, war is cruelty, you cannot refine it. That's something I find many TLs forget about is, no matter who you're rooting for in any given war scenario, many innocents are being killed directly or indirectly and many people will lose their homes. It's a terrible state of affairs and this chapter is really meant to drive that home. Civil wars are the worst IMO because it pits communities against one another with devastating results.