The Union War Department on Wednesday, November 11, 1863 announced that Major General Benjamin F. Butler was being restored to active duty, replacing General John G. Foster as commander of the Union Department of Virginia and North Carolina.
An early war, political ally of Abraham Lincoln, Butler had been removed eleven months earlier from his command in New Orleans after embarrassing the Lincoln administration with his infamous “woman order,” for illegal confiscation of foreign assets, and for his injudicious, administrative rulings.
On Saturday, November 7, 1863 the Union Army of the Potomac under General George Meade pushed across the Rappahannock at Kelly’s Ford and Rappahannock Station, despite spirited engagements at both sites. Robert E. Lee immediately began withdrawing toward the Rapidan River.
While he was no doubt pleased with the initial success of General Nathaniel Banks’ invasion of South Texas, on Thursday, November 5, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln wrote Banks, expressing his personal disappointment that a constitutional government had not yet been established in Union occupied Louisiana and urged Banks to “lose no more time” in returning to New Orleans from South Texas so he could establish a Unionist, Louisiana state government.
On Wednesday, November 4, 1863 Confederate General Braxton Bragg, responding to an earlier suggestion by Jefferson Davis, ordered James Longstreet’s corps to move against east Tennessee which was controlled by Ambrose Burnside’s Union forces.
On Monday, November 2, 1863 President Jefferson Davis arrived in Charlestown, South Carolina, welcomed by General Pierre Beauregard and Charlestown Mercury editor Robert Barnwell Brett, two of his greatest detractors.
On Monday, November 2, 1863 at the mouth of the Rio Grande River in south Texas General Nathaniel Banks’ 3500 man Union expeditionary force successfully occupied the island of Brazos Santiago, gaining a toehold in Confederate Texas.
On Monday, November 2, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln received an invitation to participate in the dedication of a new cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for those who had fallen there during July’s battle.
The ceremony’s date, November 19, was less than three weeks away, and Lincoln’s invitation came as an afterthought by the ceremony’s organizers, since the original intention of such a ceremony was to emphasize the states which would share the expense of the project, not the nation.
On Saturday, October 31, 1863 President Jefferson Davis entered Savannah, Georgia to an exuberant torchlight procession which was followed by a reception at the local Masonic Hall. The beleaguered Confederate president who had not seen such adoration for several weeks on his western tour must have been pleased by his greeting.
On Thursday, October 29, 1863 Confederate President Jefferson Davis, while in Atlanta, Georgia, approved a request of General Nathan B. Forrest which would detach Forrest’s command from Braxton Bragg’s army besieging Chattanooga in order to conduct a raid into north Mississippi and west Tennessee.
It was a well known fact that Bragg and Forrest had experienced personal difficulties and detaching Forrest’s cavalry from Bragg’s army would resolve yet another conflict within Bragg’s command.
Late October 1863 witnessed yet another, continuing Union bombardment of Fort Sumter, Charlestown, South Carolina. On Tuesday, October 27, a total of 625 Federal artillery shells were fired at Fort Sumter.
The following day 679 Union rounds were sent against the fort, and on the 29th a massive bombardment of 1657 artillery shells battered the Confederate structure and garrison. The outer walls of Fort Sumter were virtually reduced to rubble by these approximate three thousand rounds of artillery, and in truth the fortification ceased to be a vital military objective.