On Monday, December 29, 1862, General William Tecumseh* Sherman advanced toward the foot of the bluffs north of Vicksburg, Mississippi near Chickasaw Bayou.
Over the next several days, the Confederate defenders successfully thwarted Sherman’s advance. In this contest, Sherman’s estimated 31,000 troops suffered many casualties, while the Confederates with less than half as many—suffered few.
In the days after Christmas 1862 fighting continued on many fronts. In Arkansas, the Union Army of the Frontier, commanded by James Blount, attacked Confederate forces at Dripping Springs, Arkansas, and drove them through the town of Van Buren, capturing approximately forty wagons, four steamers, and miscellaneous supplies.
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.
On Friday, December 19, 1862 a caucus of prominent Republican Senators, including Charles Sumner, demanded that Lincoln remove Secretary of State William Seward because of Seward’s alleged indifference to the existing war.
The actions of these senators inferred that Lincoln was not in charge of the executive branch of government, a perspective unfortunately cultivated by Secretary Seward himself since he wanted the nation to believe that he, not Lincoln, was in charge.
Union General Ulysses Grant from his headquarters on Wednesday, December 17, 1862 issued his very controversial, General Order no. 11, expelling all those of the Hebrew faith from his area of military command. Illegal speculation, especially in cotton, was widespread along the Mississippi River, and Grant apparently equated those of the Jewish faith with the peddlers and speculators that plagued his camps.
Throughout December 1862, Nathan Bedford Forrest led a successful Confederate cavalry raid into west Tennessee to disrupt the communication of the Union forces under Ulysses Grant, who was driving toward Vicksburg, Mississippi. Forrest led thousands of Union soldiers in west Tennessee on a "wild goose chase" to try to locate his fast-moving forces.