This Week in the Civil War

The Schreiner University Department of History is honoring the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War with a series of short vignettes focusing on events from 1861 through 1865.  The Civil War was the most destructive conflict in American history, but it was also one of our most defining moments as a people and as a nation.  Let us know what you think about "This Week in the Civil War."  E-mail your comments to Dr. John Huddleston at

Airs:  Weekdays at 5:19 a.m., 8:19 a.m., 4:19 p.m. on KTXI and 4:49 a.m., 9:29 p.m. on KSTX.


Week of Jan. 5 - Jan. 11
12:43 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

This Week in the Civil War - 738

Since 1846 white New Mexico Territory settlers had battled the western Indians. During the Civil War from September 1863 to January 1864 Kit Carson led the U.S. military in an effort to round up the Navajo and send them to a reservation at Ft. Sumner, New Mexico. 

After resisting direct military confrontation with the Navajo for four months, on Wednesday, January 6, 1864 troops under Kit Carson’s command commenced operations directly against the Navajo stronghold of the Canyon de Chelly. 

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Week of Dec. 29 - Jan. 4
12:34 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

This Week in the Civil War - 737

On Friday, January 1, 1864 extreme cold swept throughout much of the American North and South, bringing extensive ice and snow and dropping temperatures below zero as far south as Memphis, Tennessee. 

Such an extremity of weather caused enormous suffering to both the Federals and the Confederates, with the average soldier desiring only adequate shelter and warmth. Harsh conditions posed communication and supply chain problems which made large scale maneuvering extremely difficult.

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Week of Dec. 29 - Jan. 4
12:32 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

This Week in the Civil War - 736

New Year’s Day, 1864 dawned with the future more clearly defined.  Hope increased in the American North, while it decreased throughout the South. Union triumphs at Vicksburg, Gettysburg, and Chattanooga had effectively held in check the Southern effort at independence. 

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Week of Dec. 29 - Jan. 4
12:27 pm
Wed January 1, 2014

This Week in the Civil War - 735

On the last day of 1863 a minor skirmish in Searcy, Arkansas was the only recorded fighting. The Union First Arkansas Cavalry conducted a reconnaissance into Searcy County, a prewar, Unionist stronghold where there was little support for slavery. 

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Week of Dec. 29 - Jan. 4
12:25 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

This Week in the Civil War - 734

In mid-December 1863 while at the  mouth of the Rio Grande River, Captain John Gillis of the USS Ossipee requested instructions on whether he should seize ships bearing legal documentation which were headed for Matamoras, Mexico, if he believed that they bore goods which would later be shipped into Confederate Texas. 

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Week of Dec. 29 - Jan. 4
12:21 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

This Week in the Civil War - 733

On Tuesday, December 29, 1863 there occurred a skirmish on Matagorda Peninsula, Texas which was typical of many minor, Civil War engagements. A force of approximately 100 Union infantry landed, hoping to capture Confederate sentries who guarded the peninsula and to confiscate cattle to supply Union forces in South Texas. 

Nearby Confederate cavalry responded, attacking the Union force which the Confederates later declared to be “about 300 strong.”  Approximately 800 Confederates attacked, although Union reports alleged enemy cavalry at “1200 to 1500 strong.” 

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Week of Dec. 22 - Dec. 28
1:16 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

This Week in the Civil War - 732

On Monday, December 28, 1863 the Confederate Congress abolished all substitution for military service.  In April 1862 the Confederate Congress, at the urging of President Jefferson Davis, had passed an act drafting for three years military duty all white males between the ages of eighteen and thirty-eight, but all eligible for the draft who could secure an acceptable substitute did not have to serve.

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Week of Dec. 22 - Dec. 28
1:14 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

This Week in the Civil War - 731

December 25, 1863, the third Christmas Day of the Civil War in America.  In a report Union Naval Commander James Strong noted that he arrived at the mouth of the Rio Grande River aboard the USS Monongahela on Christmas Day, 1863 to discover some 60 vessels anchored in nearby Mexican waters. 

He noted that most of the ships were there to land goods in Mexico for the Confederacy.  The goods would be transported by land across the Rio Grande above the area occupied by Union troops and turned over to Texan, Confederate authorities. 

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Week of Dec. 22 - Dec. 28
1:12 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

This Week in the Civil War - 730

During the winter months it was often too cold to effectively launch any large scale, offensive action against the enemy.  Such was the case in the last week of December 1863.  While the major fronts in Virginia and Georgia remained quiet, skirmishing did occur throughout most states of the South. 

Federal troops conducted a reconnaissance from Forsyth, Missouri to Batesville, Arkansas, while other minor activity occurred at Sand Mountain, Alabama, Port Gibson, Mississippi, and at far western locations in the Indian Territory near Fort Gibson and at Fort Gaston in California. 

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Week of Dec. 22 - Dec. 28
1:06 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

This Week in the Civil War - 729

By the end of 1863 it was obvious that Jefferson Davis’ policy of withholding all sales of Southern cotton to Europe was a failure.  This policy of “King Cotton Diplomacy” was designed to force the European nations—particularly England and France—to intervene in the American Civil War in order to procure Southern cotton. 

However, Europe had seen in the late 1850’s the deteriorating relations within the American nation, and England and France had wisely purchased a year’s worth of surplus Southern cotton from the 1859 and 1860, bumper crops. 

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