Almanac History - March 1863

March 1st, 1863

Union troops leave new Berne, North Carolina on a 5-day reconnaissance to Swan Quarter. Numerous skirmishes break out during the course of the expedition.

March 2nd, 1863

Minor skirmishing occurs in Virginia at Neosho and Aldie. Under General Joe Hooker, the Army of the Potomac prepares to advance against Robert E. Lee's positions in Virginia.

March 3rd, 1863

Congress passes the Conscription act, requiring all able-bodied male citizens between the ages of 20 and 45 to enlist in military service for a three year period. Generals Rosecrans, Sherman and Grant are especially pleased at the prospect of receiving reinforcements. It was originally estimated that some 3 million men would be drafted, but the real numbers were more like 21,331 during the first ten months of 1863.

March 4th, 1863

Confederate General Van Dorn captures several of General Rosecran's regiments near Spring Hill, Tennessee. A ten-day Union reconnaissance sets out from Murfreesboro, but encounters considerable hostile Confederate fire.

March 5th, 1863

The Columbus, Ohio newspaper offices of theCrisisare ransacked by Union troops after the paper publishes articles containing anti-Union sentiments. Confederate troops attack and defeat troops under Colonel Coburn's command. The Union reports 100 dead, 300 injured and 1306 taken prisoner. Southern casualties are listed as 180 dead and 450 wounded.

March 7th, 1863

General Banks advances toward Baton Rouge, Louisiana to connect with General Grant as the plan for the campaign against Vicksburg strengthens.

March 8th, 1863

Captain Mosby's Confederates capture Union General E. H. Stoughton and his men at Fairfax County Courthouse, a valuable victory for the South. They seize 58 horses, much needed equipment and ammunition and take a number of prisoners.

March 9th, 1863

Arkansas continues to see action near Chalk Bluff. In Missouri, a Union expedition moves out from Bloomfield on a six-day reconnaissance mission. General Banks continues his move toward Grant's position, but his men encounter Confederate fire near Port Hudson, Louisiana.

March 10th, 1863

In an effort to encourage deserters to return to their regiments, Lincoln issues a proclamation of general amnesty. Any soldier absent without leave will suffer no adverse consequences if he reports back to his regiment by 1 April. Failure to do so will result in their arrest for desertion.

March 11th, 1863

Under the command of General W. W. Loring, Confederate troops construct a defensive outpost known as Fort Pemberton in order to secure themselves against the Federal move against Vicksburg. They are successful in holding Union gun boats at bay on the Yalobusha River for more than six days and the Union is obliged to relinquish this part of their preparatory effort in the Vicksburg campaign.

March 13th, 1863

An explosion occurs in the Confederate Ordnance Laboratory at Brown's Island near Richmond, Virginia, killing or wounding some 69 workers, 62 of whom are women. The Confederates had been quick to place women in clerical and industrial roles to free the men up for military duty. The explosion is thought to have been the result of carelessness.

March 14th, 1863

Admiral David Farragut's Union gunboats launch an assault on Confederate troops positioned north of Baton Rouge at Port Hudson, Louisiana. Several of the ships sustained considerable damage, one being completely destroyed and 65 men are listed as killed or missing.

March 15th, 1863

Vicksburg residents and Confederate troops continue to brace themselves for a Union invasion. Federal troops make an unsuccessful attempt to pass by Haines' Bluff.

March 17th, 1863

Union General William Wood Averell is sent to attack General Fitz Lee at Culpeper, Virginia where he engages 800 Southerners and four guns at the battle of Kelly's Ford. There are 78 Union casualties and 133 Confederate casualties at battle's end.

March 19th, 1863

Admiral Farragut has managed to position two of his vessels theHartfordand theAlbatrossjust below Vicksburg, Mississippi.

March 20th, 1863

There is minor skirmishing in Florida at St. Andrew's Bay and in Tennessee, near Milton, Colonel Hall's Union troops attack and defeat Confederate forces. The Federals lose 7 men and sustain three injuries here while the Confederates report 40 dead, 140 wounded and 12 missing.

March 21st, 1863

Southern troops attack a Federal railroad train between Bolivar and Grand Junction, Tennessee. In Kentucky, Confederate Colonel Cluke's men seize Mount Sterling.

March 22nd, 1863

Fighting continues in Kentucky as General John Hunt Morgan's cavalry attacks Federal positions there. These operations will continue through the month. In Missouri nice are killed and several injured or taken prisoner when Union forces are attacked and defeated by some unknown raiders.

March 23rd, 1863

Union troops attack and take back Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, seized by Confederates two days earlier.

March 24th, 1863

Grant tries again to reach Vicksburg, this time through the Black Bayou. Both the geography and the Confederate troops posted in the area cause insurmountable difficulties. Grant decides to end these efforts and orders General Sherman to withdraw from the area.

March 25th, 1863

President Lincoln approves the change of command that will place General Burnside as chief of the Department of the Ohio.

March 26th, 1863

Lincoln writes to Governor Andrew Johnson of Tennessee: "The colored population is the greatavailableand yet unavailed of, force for restoring the Union. The bare sight of 50,000 armed and drilled black soldiers on the banks of the Mississippi, would end the rebellion at once."

March 27th, 1863

Lincoln meets with member of several American Indian tribes encouraging them to turn to "the cultivation of the earth" in order to provide economic stability for their people.

March 29th, 1863

Confederate and Union troops clash again at Kelly's Ford and Williamsburg, Virginia. Skirmishing at Point Pleasant, West Virginia results in1 Union soldier's death and 12 Confederate soldiers' being killed and 14 more wounded.

March 30th, 1863

Confederates fight valiantly for 5 hours at Dutton Hill, Kentucky, only to be defeated by a stronger Federal force. Lincoln announces a national day of prayer and fasting to be held on 30 April 1863.

March 31st, 1863

Mosby's Confederates defeat the Union cavalry at Drainesville, Virginia resulting in the loss of 60 Union men.