Tuesday, February 18, 2014

February 18, 1864

February 18, 1864

—Uncertainty plagues Union war planning this week. Sherman has pushed Polk back from Meridian, and is in position to make a push southeast toward Mobile, but the War Department may have other plans for the Army of the Tennessee. So far, however, Gen. Halleck has not put forth any specific plans. In Louisiana is Gen. Nathaniel Banks and the Army of the Gulf, who plans this spring to advance up the Red River toward Texas, perhaps in concert with Gen. Steele and his Federal force in Arkansas. Another Confederate army, the Army of Tennessee, now under Gen. Joseph Johnston, waits 35 miles southeast of Chattanooga in northern Georgia; facing him is Gen. George Thomas with the Federal Army of the Cumberland. Gen. Grant, in command in the West, wants Thomas to move against Johnston, mostly to keep him from reinforcing Polk in Mississippi, who was retreating eastward into Alabama. But Thomas is wary of several divisions under Gen. Longstreet, still hovering in the Appalachian Mountains north of Thomas’s left flank. Facing Longstreet is a smaller army under Gen. Schofield in Knoxville, but Schofield shows few signs of wanting to move out of the city.

A young Federal soldier in winter, by Winslow Homer

—In North Florida, Brig. Gen. Truman Seymour of the Union Army advances westward with about 6,000 men (three brigades of infantry, 2 battalions of cavalry, and four batteries of artillery), in an apparent bid to capture Tallahassee, the state capital. Opposing his advance is Brig. Gen. Joseph Finnegan with about 5,000 men—two brigades of Georgia and Florida infantry, a small brigade of cavalry, and four batteries of artillery. Three of the eight infantry regiments with Seymour consist of black troops: The 8th and 35th U.S. Colored Troops, and the 54th Massachusetts.


—The Republican Party convention in Baltimore endorses Abraham Lincoln for re-election.

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