December 28, 1862:
The Battle of Chickasaw Bayou, Mississippi
Day 2: Having finally driven the Confederate forward units back to the line of bluffs, Sherman details Brig. Gen. Frederick Steele with his division to attack the Confederate right. Steele deploys the brigades of DeCourcy and Blair forward, and the Federals are snared by obstructions and slowed by Rebel cannon. The attack slows and stops. Sherman plans on bigger attacks for the morrow.
---Gen. John McClernand finally arrives in Memphis to take command of the divisions he has raised for an expedition to take Vicksburg, under his command. When he arrives, he finds, as he suspected, that his troops have been absorbed into William T. Sherman ‘s command and have already gone downriver. McClernand sends Grant a letter expressing his disappointment and requesting guarantees from Grant that his command will be restored to him. And he waits.
---There are disturbing reports of a high number of executions in the Army of Tennessee in Murfreesboro, at the commanding general’s order, mostly for desertion. This has a profoundly negative effect on the morale of the soldiers.
---A number of ironmasters, including Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond and Vulcan Iron Works in Chattanooga, elect to call a convention of all iron companies throughout the South, in an attempt to find more skilled practitioners in the iron trades. Translation: Southern iron mills do not have enough skilled ironmakers to keep up with production needs.
---David Lane, a young soldier in the 17th Michigan Volunteer Infantry, writes sobering thoughts about the Army of the Potomac and its commander:
Camp near Fredericksburg, Dec. 28th, 1862.
The battle of Fredericksburg has been fought and —lost. We are now engaged in the laudable occupation of making ourselves comfortable; building log huts to protect ourselves from the cold storms of winter. Our brigade—the First—was not engaged at Fredericksburg. We were commanded by Colonel Poe, a graduate of West Point, a man thoroughly versed in the art of war. He saw the utter hopelessness of the struggle, and, when the order came to advance, he flatly refused to sacrifice his men in the unequal contest. Of course, he was put under arrest, and will be court-martialed, but he saved his men.
The eighteen thousand slaughtered husbands and sons who fell at Fredericksburg does not comprise our greatest loss. This whole army, for the time being, is thoroughly demoralized. It has lost all confidence in its leaders—a condition more fatal than defeat.
The leaders of the different corps do not work in unison. Our commander lacks the mental force to weld and bind these discordant, disintegrating elements into one solid, compact, adhesive mass, subject to his will and guided by his judgment; and herein lies the cause of our defeat.
---Muldraugh’s Hill, Kentucky, is the site of a trestle bridge for the railroad. The 71st Indiana Infantry Regiment is attacked from several sides by John Hunt Morgan’s Rebel raiders: after a 10-hour fight, the Indianans had to surrender. Morgan’s men destroy the trestle.
---In Arkansas, Gen. James G. Blunt’s Federals attack and capture the city of Van Buren, Arkansas, a strategic point on the Arkansas River, along with the surrendered garrison, a large amount of supplies, and four riverboats loaded with military supplies.
---At Elk Fork, Tennessee, two regiments of Kentucky cavalry, the 6th and 10th, in the Union army, attack a Confederate camp with a superior force of Rebels, routing them and capturing many.