On January 12, 1863, President Jefferson Davis addressed the Confederate Congress in Richmond. Since the Union offensives in the western and eastern theatres had stalled, Davis remained confident that the Confederacy would prevail. He called the recently enacted Emancipation Proclamation, “the most execrable measure recorded in the history of guilty man.”
On January 11, 1863, the Confederate vessel Alabama squared off against the Union’s Hatterasa* in the vicinity of the Galveston Lighthouse. The Hatteras had initially given chase and overtaken the Confederate raider.
When Union Captain Homer Blake demanded that the Alabama’s crew identify themselves, they instead opened fire. The thirteen minute exchange of cannon fire ended with the Hatteras sinking, and with most of its crew taken prisoner.
On January 11, 1863, Union Major General John A. McClernand concluded a joint naval/army operation against the Confederate Fort Hindman, also known as Arkansas Post, at the mouth of the Arkansas River. The battle saw the capture of approximately 5,000 Confederate troops, mostly from the states of Texas and Arkansas.
While the American Civil War engulfed some parts of the country, life elsewhere continued as usual. On January 8, 1863, ground was broken in Sacramento, California for the nation’s first continental railroad.
While conducting the war, President Abraham Lincoln found time on July 1, 1862 to sign the Pacific Railroad Bill, promising generous land grants and 30-year government bonds to help finance the effort.