On Monday, October 5, 1863 at Charlestown, South Carolina the Confederates carried out a daring naval raid against the blockading Union fleet. At approximately ten o’clock on a hazy October night, the CSS David, a torpedo boat commanded by Commodore W.T. Glassell, rammed her torpedo into the side of the unsuspecting, wooden hulled ironclad the U.S.S. New Ironsides.
Correspondence from Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis over Chickamauga highlighted the confidence, or lack thereof, which both men had for their respective army leaders.
On October 3, 1863 Davis wrote Braxton Bragg, citing the differences of opinion between Bragg and General Leonidas Polk and noting, “opposition to you both in the army and out of it has been a public calamity in so far that it impairs your capacity for usefulness…”
In October 1863 Union General Nathaniel Banks attempted once more, following his spectacular defeat earlier at Sabine Pass, to gain a foothold in Texas.
Under orders from the Union War Department, Banks on Saturday, October 3, 1863 ordered Union troops under General William B. Franklin to move northwest from New Iberia, Louisiana and Berwick Bay area to probe toward Texas with the intention of establishing a land route for a potential invasion of East Texas.
October 1863 brought at bit of temporary relief to the Confederate nation. Its forces had successfully halted Union drives against Charlestown, South Carolina and East Texas and had won at Chickamauga, bottling up Rosecrans Union army at Chattanooga.
With Rosecrans limited to bringing most of his supplies into Chattanooga along a difficult, 60-mile wagon route across Walden's Ridge, on Wednesday, September 30, 1863 Confederate General Braxton Bragg ordered General Joseph Wheeler and approximately seven hundred cavalry on an extended raid against Rosecrans’ supply lines.
The Confederate nation was pleasantly surprised by Braxton Bragg’s victory at Chickamauga. Generals such as Kirby Smith called on Confederate citizens to renew their efforts to contest and defeat the enemy. Yet Jefferson Davis blamed Braxton Bragg for not aggressively pursuing Rosecrans’ retreating forces into Chattanooga.
While the great railroad movement of Hooker’s troops to reinforce Rosecrans at Chattanooga began, a concerned Abraham Lincoln on Friday, September 25, 1863 lamented that Ambrose Burnside had yet to reinforce Rosecrans.
Writing Burnside by letter, Lincoln noted his desire for Burnside to take immediate action “and you have repeatedly declared you would do it, and yet you steadily move the contrary way.” Burnside denied any desire on his part to delay reinforcing Rosecrans.
On September 23, 1863 ships of the Imperial Russian Atlantic fleet arrived in New York; in mid-October ships of the Russian Pacific fleet would arrive at San Francisco. The Russians received an extremely cordial welcome on both American coasts and were honored with parades, dinners, and special programs.
In truth, the Russian visit had little to do with support for the Union. Russia feared a war with England and France over her suppression of a Polish revolt and particularly did not want her fleet tied up for the winter in the Baltic Sea.
In Washington, D.C. after a series of meetings on Wednesday, September 23, 1863, with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, Cabinet, and military leaders President Abraham Lincoln, responding to Rosecrans’ defeat at Chickamauga, ordered the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps of the Army of the Potomac, commanded by Joseph Hooker, west to reinforce Rosecrans’ embattled army.
On Monday, September 21, 1863 General George Thomas continued to secure the approaches to Chattanooga, but he too would soon retire into the safety of that city. Although Rosecrans’ army was in a strong position within Chattanooga, it was hemmed in by the mountains, the Tennessee River, and Bragg’s Confederates who held Missionary Ridge and lookout Mountain overlooking the city.