Christmas Day, 1862 saw little respite from the war. President and Mrs. Lincoln attended church and then in the afternoon visited with wounded soldiers in the many Washington, D.C. hospitals. Sherman’s Fifteenth Corps continued its operations near Milliken’s Bend north of Vicksburg, Mississippi.
On Tuesday, December 23, 1862, President Jefferson Davis by proclamation called the former Union commander of New Orleans, Union General Benjamin F. Butler, a felon, outlaw, and a common enemy of mankind.
On Monday, December 22, 1862 President Lincoln conferred in Washington, D. C. with General Ambrose Burnside as recriminations continued over the Union debacle at Fredericksburg. A number of Union officers privately called for Burnside’s removal, and the beleaguered general surprised the president by announcing that he would draft a letter taking full blame for the Fredericksburg defeat.
On December 20, 1862, Confederate troops under General Earl Van Dorn raided Ulysses Grant's supply depot at Holly Springs, Mississippi. Van Dorn’s forces fell on the Union supply depot, driving the defenders away after capturing fifteen hundred Federals.
The Confederates then destroyed approximately one and one half million dollars of military supplies. Van Dorn’s Confederates remained in the area a few more days, cutting rail and telegraph lines, before fleeing in the face of pursuing Union cavalry.
Even as Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederate cavalry was successfully harassing Ulysses Grant’s supply lines, Grant’s army was formally reorganized for the drive against Confederate held Vicksburg on the Mississippi River.
William Tecumseh* Sherman was given the Fifteenth Corps, Stephen Hurlbut was assigned the Sixteenth Corps, and John McClernand was assigned the Thirteenth Corps. The latter appointment ended any separate command for McClernand, who had been appointed by Lincoln as head of a second Union army to operate against Vicksburg.