On Monday, November 23, Ulysses Grant began his assault on Braxton Bragg’s Confederate forces besieging Chattanooga. Two Union divisions successfully captured Orchard Knob, a strategic position approximately one mile in front of the main Confederate defenses.
After concluding his speech at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln boarded the 6:30 pm train for Washington, D.C. He was feverish and weak, suffering from a severe headache. A protracted illness followed, which included a vesicular rash, as doctors diagnosed the president’s illness as a mild case of smallpox.
On Thursday, November 19, 1863 at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania after a two hour oration by Edward Everett, President Abraham Lincoln rose and in little more than two minutes officially dedicated the battlefield’s national cemetery.
The president personally felt that his brief talk had failed, and in truth some in the large crowd failed to realize that the president was speaking before his comments had concluded. However, the following day Lincoln received a note from Edward Everett acknowledging how near Lincoln had come “to the central idea of the occasion.”
On Wednesday, November 18, 1863 a special train left Washington, D.C. for Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Depressed due to the Union military situation at both Chattanooga and Knoxville and because of Tad Lincoln’s illness, President Abraham Lincoln related few stories en route.
To his secretary John Hay, Lincoln remarked that he felt weak. Upon arriving at Gettysburg, the president spoke briefly to a small crowd outside the Wills House, where he was staying the night, and then retired to work on his remarks for the following day.
On Monday, November 16, 1863 Confederate troops under General James Longstreet, ordered north from Chattanooga, were nearing Knoxville, Tennessee. Union forces under General Ambrose Burnside had successfully withdrawn into Knoxville; the city was now besieged for all practical purposes.
In mid-November 1863 the relentless Union assault against Confederate held, Charlestown Harbor continued. From November 7 through the 10th 1753 rounds pounded Fort Sumter’s brick and earthen walls, with few Confederates wounded.
On November 15, 1863 four divisions commanded by General William Tecumseh Sherman arrived at Bridgeport on the Tennessee River. Sherman immediately went into Chattanooga to confer with Grant and to reconnoiter before moving his men closer to the city.
On Thursday, November 12, 1863 in what was described as “the social event of the year,” Kate Chase, eldest daughter of United States Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase, married Rhode Island senator William Sprague.
Salmon Chase’s presidential ambitions had long constituted the ruling passions of Kate’s life. She made herself absolutely essential to her father, helping with his correspondence, editing his speeches, discussing political strategy, and entertaining his friends and colleagues.
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.