Dec. 12, 1861: Union troops under Gen. Robert Milroy in western Virginia attack Rebel positions along the Greenbriar River in a series of skirmishes.
--In New York, the steamer Hansa arrives from England, with letters for Lord Richard Lyons, the British ambassador to the United States. These letters instruct Lyons to give the U.S. a one-week ultimatum to release Mason and Slidell, the C.S. commissioners who were seized from the HMS Trent on Oct. 8. If they are not released, Lyons is to leave Washington and return to London immediately, thus cutting off diplomatic relations with the U.S.
--Private R.D. Dawson of the 100th Pennsylvania Inf. Reg., at the Federal base near Beaufort, South Carolina, writes to his sister:
". . . we started sunday morning to the back of the island a distance of ten miles to see if there was any rebels on the island for they was on here friday, there was only twoo companys here before we came that is the reason we was fetched here the rebels would come over from the main land and carry off their property we did not see any rebels til we came to the ferry we saw a few on the other side of the river Company H went on picket and the rebels fired across twoo or three shots at them but they did not come near to them they had no canon there our men had twoo pieces of canon with them but they came back as soon as they saw there was no enemy there, we only had one days provision with us and we had to stay a11 night on a plantation where there was a good many niggers and we bought hoe cake and chicken we lay out all night without any blankets or over coats I know that we would not done it if we had been in Pa. we could hear the rebels talking in the night and swearing about the yankees along the road out to the ferry it is the nicest road that I ever saw it has been throwed up and shelled with oyster shells and some of the nicest trees great big spready live oaks spread over the road with moss hanging down from the limbs and nice forests . . . we have plenty of sweet potatoes and pone and oysters we get them from the darkies I will send you a piece or twoo of calico write soon and let me know how all the young married folks are getting along and about the war news and congress no more at present so good night"