1861 December 20th

December 20 1861 Thursday

US Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War Established

Battle of Dranesville, VA (CWSAC Formative Battle Union Victory)

East Kentucky Operations

Canada. Two Royal Navy warships convoyed troops to Canada in case an unsatisfactory conclusion was reached in the “Trent Affair”.

USA. The Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War was formed by the US Congress. It consisted of US Senators Benjamin Wade (chairman), Zachariah Chandler, and Andrew Johnson; and House Representatives D W Gooch, G W Julian, John Covode, and Moses F Odell. The Committee exercised great influence in investigating allegations of misconduct and questioned military actions.

Arizona Territory. Confederate Brigadier-General Henry Hopkins Sibley proclaimed that New Mexico and Arizona were now part of the Confederacy and undertook an expedition to drive all Union forces from the Territory. He combined his forces with those of Colonel John Robert Baylor, who had earned a victory at Fort Fillmore. Union garrisons had been withdrawn from Fort Stanton to Albuquerque while the garrison of Fort Thorn, about fifty miles upriver from Mesilla, retreated to Fort Craig. These were the only organised Union forces left south of the 34th parallel border. However, around 4,000 Union troops had gathered at Fort Craig, outnumbering Sibley’s 3,700 men, even including Baylor’s Texas Mounted Rifles.

Georgia. The US Navy completed the unloading of supplies and stories for the Army to establish permanent possession of Tybee Island. Tybee Island was considered too isolated and unprepared for defence and had to be abandoned by Confederate forces. This gave Union forces a foothold across the Savannah River from Fort Pulaski and Brigadier-General Quincy Adams Gillmore began construction of batteries along the beaches of Tybee.

North Carolina. The steamer Gordon ran the blockade off Wilmington.

South Carolina. A “stone fleet” was sunk by US Navy ships under Captain Charles Henry Davis in Charleston Harbour, in an attempt to prevent Confederate blockade runners from using the harbour. Sixteen vessels were sunk in the main entrance but the rapid deterioration of the wooden ships’ frames meant that their stone ballast soon collapsed and fatally weakened the effect of the barrier.

Virginia. Confederate Brigadier-General Thomas Jonathan Jackson’s men ended their operations against the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad and returned to winter quarters around Winchester.

Dranesville, Virginia. Confederate Brigadier-General James Ewell Brown Stuart, with a mixed brigade of infantry (6th South Carolina Infantry, 1st Kentucky Infantry, 10th Alabama Infantry, and 11th Virginia Infantry, 150 cavalry troopers and Captain Allen S Cutts’ Georgia battery), set out northwards from near Centreville to escort the army’s wagons trains on a foraging expedition into Loudoun County.

Meanwhile, Union Brigadier-General Edward Otho Cresap Ord, leading the 3rd Brigade of Pennsylvania Reserves set out west from Langley to clear the south bank of the Potomac River of Confederate pickets and partisans in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties. At Colvin Run Mill, Ord left half his force to protect his rear and the route back to their base at Langley. At about noon Ord arrived at the intersection of the Georgetown Pike and Leesburg Pike in the village of Dranesville, where he encountered Stuart’s advance cavalry pickets, which were quickly driven off by the Union force. Ord then began to lead his command westwards down the Leesburg Pike.

At around 1 pm Stuart approached Dranesville from the south with his main body and encountered the rear of the Union detachment. Ord halted his infantry and wheeled around to meet the Confederate threat, forming a line on the north side of the Leesburg Pike. He then deployed his artillery on an eminence near the intersection. Stuart deployed his infantry on the south side of the pike and his artillery 300 yards south of the Union position. While the Confederate infantry was deploying, the 6th South Carolina mistook the 1st Kentucky for Union troops and exchanged fire with them. Hearing the sound of gunfire, the 9th Pennsylvania charged across the turnpike but they were quickly driven back. The artillery then began to duel but the Confederate guns were quickly silenced. Ord deployed his infantry into a skirmish line and sent it across the Pike and the two sides demonstrated for nearly two hours. At 3 pm, with his wagons safely out of reach of capture, Stuart ordered a withdrawal. Ord pursued for a half-mile after ensuring his own line of retreat was safe, before breaking off the attack and returning to Langley.

The following day Stuart returned with reinforcements but found no Union forces to engage. Although the battle was small it marked the first time in the theatre around Washington, DC, that a Union force had defeated the Confederates and was able to drive them from the field. The Union inflicted 230 casualties while suffering only 71. Of the Confederate casualties, nearly half of which resulted from the incident of mistaken friendly fire between the 6th South Carolina and 1st Kentucky. (CWSAC Formative Battle Union Victory)

Union Organisation

USA: The District of Grafton was discontinued and its area transferred to the Railroad District.

USA: The Railroad District was established in the Department of Western Virginia, comprising the area of the former District of Grafton and all railroads in western Virginia.

USA: Brigadier-General Benjamin Franklin Kelley assumed command of the Railroad District.

Kelley, Benjamin Franklin / New Hampshire / Born 10 April 1807 New Hampton, New Hampshire / Died Oakland, Maryland 16 June 1891
Colonel USV 1st (West) Virginia Infantry (4th Virginia Militia) 22 May 1861 / Brigadier-General USV 6 August 1861 to rank from 17 May 1861 / Resigned USV 1 June 1865 / Brevet Major-General USV 5 August 1864 / WIA Philippi 3 June 1861 CIA Cumberland 21 February 1865 Exchanged 20 March 1865
Kelley’s Brigade Army of Occupation 17 May 1861-3 June 1861 / District of Grafton 3 August 1861-20 December 1861 / District of Harper’s Ferry and Cumberland 22 October 1861-20 December 1861 / Railroad District 20 December 1861-26 June 1862 / Railroad Division VIII Corps Middle Department 27 June 1862-20 September 1862 / Railroad Division District of West Virginia 20 December 1862-16 March 1863 / 3rd Division VIII Corps Middle Department 16 March 1863-27 March 1863 / 1st Division VIII Corps Middle Department 27 March 1863-26 June 1863 / Department of West Virginia 28 June 1863-10 March 1864 / Forces West of Sleepy Creek Department of West Virginia April 1864-21 February 1865

USA: John McAuley Palmer promoted Brigadier-General USV December 21 1861 to rank from 20 December 1861.

Palmer, John McAuley / Kentucky / Born 13 September 1817 Eagle Creek, Kentucky / Died Springfield, Illinois 25 September 1900
Colonel USV 14th Illinois Infantry 25 May 1861 / Brigadier-General USV 21 December 1861 to rank from 20 December 1861 / Major-General USV 16 March 1863 to rank from 29 November 1862/ Resigned USV 1 September 1866 / WIA Chattanooga 26 February 1863
2nd Division Army of the Mississippi 23 February 1862-4 March 1862 / 3rd Division Army of the Mississippi 4 March 1862-24 April 1862 / 1st Brigade 1st Division Army of the Mississippi 24 April 1862-10 August 1862 / 1st Division Army of the Mississippi 31 August 1862-29 September 1862 / 13th Division Army of the Ohio 19 September 1862-15 November 1862 / 2nd Division Left Wing XIV Corps Army of the Cumberland 10 December 1862-9 January 1863 / 2nd Division XXI Corps Army of the Cumberland 9 January 1863-15 July 1863 / XXI Corps Cumberland 15 July 1863-17 August 1863 / 2nd Division XXI Corps Army of the Cumberland 17 August 1863-9 October 1863 /1st Division IV Corps Army of the Cumberland 10 October 1863-27 October 1863 / XIV Corps Cumberland 28 October 1863-6 August 1864 / Department of Kentucky 10 February 1865-21 June 1865 / Department of Kentucky 27 June 1865-13 April 1866

USA: William High Keim promoted Brigadier-General USV 21 December 1861 to rank from 20 December 1861.

Keim, William High / Pennsylvania / Born 25 June 1813 Reading, Pennsylvania / Died Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 18 May 1862
Major-General Pennsylvania Militia 20 April 1861 / Mustered Out Pennsylvania Militia 21 July 1861 / Brigadier-General USV 21 December 1861 to rank from 20 December 1861
2nd Division Pennsylvania Militia 20 April 1861-21 July 1861 / 2nd Brigade Casey’s Division Army of the Potomac 20 December 1861-13 March 1862 / 2nd Brigade 3rd Division IV Corps Army of the Potomac 13 March 1862-18 May 1862

Commander in Chief: President Abraham Lincoln

Vice-President: Hannibal Hamlin

Secretary of War: Simon Cameron

Secretary of the Navy: Gideon Welles

  • North Atlantic Blockading Squadron USN: Flag Officer Louis Malesherbes Goldsborough USN
  • South Atlantic Blockading Squadron USN: Flag Officer Samuel Francis Du Pont USN
  • Gulf Blockading Squadron USN: Flag Officer William McKean USN
  • Pacific Squadron USN: Captain John B Montgomery USN
  • Western Gunboat Flotilla USN: Flag Officer Andrew Hull Foote USN
  • Potomac Flotilla USN: Lieutenant Robert Harris Wyman USN

General–in-Chief: George Brinton McClellan

  • Department of Florida: Harvey Brown
  • Department of Kansas: David Hunter
  • Department of the Missouri: Henry Wager Halleck
    • District of St Louis: John McAllister Schofield
    • District of Central Missouri: John Pope
      • Army of Western Missouri: John Pope
    • District of North Missouri: Benjamin Mayberry Prentiss
    • District of Southeast Missouri: Ulysses Simpson Grant
    • District of Western Kentucky: Horatio Gouverneur Wright
  • Department of New England: Benjamin Franklin Butler
  • Department of New Mexico: Edward Richard Sprigg Canby
    • Southern District of New Mexico: Benjamin Stone Roberts
  • Department of New York: Edward Denison Morgan
  • Department of the Ohio: Don Carlos Buell
    • Army of the Ohio: Don Carlos Buell
  • Department of the Pacific: George Wright
    • District of the Humboldt: Francis James Lippitt
    • District of Oregon: Albemarle Cady
    • District of Southern California: James Henry Carleton
  • Department of the Potomac: George Brinton McClellan
    • District of Harper’s Ferry and Cumberland: Frederick West Lander
    • Army of the Potomac: George Brinton McClellan
  • Department of Texas: Vacant
  • Department of Virginia: John Ellis Wool
  • Department of Western Virginia: William Starke Rosecrans
    • District of the Kanawha: Jacob Dolson Cox
    • Cheat Mountain District: Robert Huston Milroy
    • Railroad District: Benjamin Franklin Kelley

Confederate Organisation

CSA: The District of Alabama was extended to include Pascagoula Bay.

Commander in Chief: President Jefferson Finis Davis

Vice-President: Alexander Hamilton Stephens

Secretary of War: Judah Philip Benjamin

Secretary of the Navy: Stephen Russell Mallory

Military Adviser to the President: Vacant

  • Department No 1: Mansfield Lovell
  • Department of Alabama and West Florida: Braxton Bragg
    • District of Alabama: Jones Mitchell Withers
    • Army of Pensacola Braxton Bragg
  • Department of Henrico: John Henry Winder
  • Department of the Indian Territory: Albert Pike
  • Department of Norfolk: Benjamin Huger
  • Department of North Carolina: Richard Caswell Gatlin
    • District of Cape Fear: Joseph Reid Anderson
    • District of Pamlico: Lawrence O’Bryan Branch
  • Department of Northern Virginia: Joseph Eggleston Johnston
    • District of Aquia: Robert Augustus Toombs
    • District of the Potomac: Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard
    • Army of the Potomac: Joseph Eggleston Johnston
      • I Corps Potomac: Earl Van Dorn
      • II Corps Potomac: Gustavus Woodson Smith
    • Valley District: Thomas Jonathan Jackson
      • Army of the Valley: Thomas Jonathan Jackson
    • Army of the Northwest: William Wing Loring
  • Department of the Peninsula: John Bankhead Magruder
    • Army of the Peninsula: John Bankhead Magruder
  • Department of South Carolina, Georgia and East Florida: Robert Edward Lee
    •  District of Middle and East Florida: William Montgomery Gardner
    • District of Georgia: Alexander Robert Lawton
    • District of South Carolina: Roswell Sabine Ripley
      • 1st Sub-District of South Carolina: Arthur Middleton Manigault.
      • 2nd Sub-District of South Carolina: Roswell Sabine Ripley
      • 3rd Sub-District of South Carolina: Nathan George Evans
      • 4th Sub-District of South Carolina: John Clifford Pemberton
      • 5th Sub-District of South Carolina: Thomas Fenwick Drayton
  • Department of Southwestern Virginia: William Wing Loring
  • Department of Texas: Paul Octave Hébert
    • Western District of Texas: Henry Eustace McCullough
    • District of Galveston: Ebenezer B Nichols
    • Defences of Pass Cavallo: John W Glenn
  • Western Department: Albert Sidney Johnston
    • First Geographical Division: Leonidas Polk
    • District of Upper Arkansas: William Joseph Hardee
    • District of East Tennessee: George Bibb Crittenden
    • Army of Central Kentucky: Albert Sidney Johnston
    • Army of Eastern Kentucky: Humphrey Marshall
    • Western Army: Benjamin McCulloch
  • District of Arizona: Henry Hopkins Sibley
    • Army of New Mexico: Henry Hopkins Sibley
  • Forces in Richmond: Charles Dimmock

Union Generals

Note: Italics, awaiting confirmation of the commission

Major-General USA

George Brinton McClellan
John Charles Frémont
Henry Wager Halleck

Major-General USV

John Adams Dix
Nathaniel Prentiss Banks
Benjamin Franklin Butler
David Hunter
Edwin Denison Morgan

Brigadier-General USA

John Ellis Wool
William Selby Harney
Edwin Vose Sumner
Joseph King Fenno Mansfield
Irvin McDowell
Robert Anderson
William Starke Rosecrans
Philip St George Cooke

Brigadier-General USV

Samuel Peter Heintzelman
Erasmus Darwin Keyes
Andrew Porter
Fitz-John Porter
William Buel Franklin
William Tecumseh Sherman
Charles Pomeroy Stone
Don Carlos Buell
Thomas West Sherman
John Pope
George Archibald McCall
William Reading Montgomery
Philip Kearny
Joseph Hooker
John Wolcott Phelps
Ulysses Simpson Grant
Joseph Jones Reynolds
Samuel Ryan Curtis
Charles Smith Hamilton
Darius Nash Couch
Rufus King
Jacob Dolson Cox
Stephen Augustus Hurlbut
Franz Sigel
Robert Cumming Schenck
Benjamin Mayberry Prentiss
Frederick West Lander
Benjamin Franklin Kelley
John Alexander McClernand
Alpheus Starkey Williams
Israel Bush Richardson
James Cooper
James Brewerton Ricketts
Orlando Bolivar Willcox
Michael Corcoran
George Henry Thomas
Ambrose Everett Burnside
Henry Hayes Lockwood
Louis Blenker
Henry Warner Slocum
James Samuel Wadsworth
John James Peck
Ormsby McKnight Mitchel
George Webb Morell
John Henry Martindale
Samuel Davis Sturgis
George Stoneman
Henry Washington Benham
William Farrar Smith
James William Denver
Egbert Ludovicus Vielé
James Shields
John Fulton Reynolds
William Farquhar Barry
John Joseph Abercrombie
John Sedgwick
Charles Ferguson Smith
Silas Casey
Lawrence Pike Graham
George Gordon Meade
Abram Duryée
Alexander McDowell McCook
Oliver Otis Howard
Eleazar Arthur Paine
Daniel Edgar Sickles
Charles Davis Jameson
Ebenezer Dumont
Robert Huston Milroy
Lewis Wallace
Willis Arnold Gorman
Daniel Butterfield
Horatio Gouverneur Wright
Edward Otho Cresap Ord
William Nelson
William Thomas Ward
John Gross Barnard
Innis Newton Palmer
Seth Williams
John Newton
Winfield Scott Hancock
Thomas Leonidas Crittenden
George Wright
Isaac Ingalls Stevens
Thomas Williams
George Sykes
William Henry French
William Thomas Harbaugh Brooks
John Milton Brannan
William Wallace Burns
John Porter Hatch
David Sloane Stanley
William Kerley Strong
Albin Francisco Schoepf
Lovell Harrison Rousseau
James Scott Negley
Thomas John Wood
Richard W Johnson
Adolph Wilhelm August Friedrich Von Steinwehr
Joseph Bennett Plummer
John Gray Foster
George Washington Cullum
Jeremiah Tilford Boyle
Christopher Columbus Augur
Schuyler Hamilton
Jesse Lee Reno
George Washington Morgan
Julius Stahel
John McAllister Schofield
Thomas Jefferson McKean
John Grubb Parke
Zealous Bates Tower
Jefferson Columbus Davis
James Henry Lane
John McAuley Palmer
William High Keim

Brigadier-General USA (Staff)

Montgomery Cunningham Meigs (Quartermaster-General)
Henry Knox Craig
Lorenzo Thomas (Adjutant-General)
James Wolfe Ripley (Ordnance)

Confederate Generals

Note: Italics, awaiting confirmation of the commission

General ACSA

Samuel Cooper
Albert Sidney Johnston
Robert Edward Lee
Joseph Eggleston Johnston
Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard

Major-General PACS

Leonidas Polk
Braxton Bragg
Earl Van Dorn
Gustavus Woodson Smith
Theophilus Hunter Holmes
William Joseph Hardee
Benjamin Huger
James Longstreet
John Bankhead Magruder
Mansfield Lovell
Thomas Jonathan Jackson
Edmund Kirby Smith
George Bibb Crittenden

Brigadier-General PACS

Alexander Robert Lawton
Milledge Lake Bonham
Benjamin McCulloch
William Wing Loring
Charles Clark
John Buchanan Floyd
Henry Alexander Wise
Richard Stoddert Ewell
David Rumph Jones
John Clifford Pemberton
Henry Hopkins Sibley
John Henry Winder
Richard Caswell Gatlin
Daniel Smith Donelson
Samuel Read Anderson
Benjamin Franklin Cheatham
Felix Kirk Zollicoffer
Daniel Harvey Hill
Jones Mitchell Withers
Richard Heron Anderson
Robert Augustus Toombs
Samuel Jones
Arnold Elzey
William Henry Chase Whiting
Jubal Anderson Early
Isaac Ridgway Trimble
Daniel Ruggles
Roswell Sabine Ripley
Albert Pike
Paul Octave Hébert
Joseph Reid Anderson
Simon Bolivar Buckner
Leroy Pope Walker
Albert Gallatin Blanchard
Gabriel James Rains
James Ewell Brown Stuart
Lafayette McLaws
Thomas Fenwick Drayton
Thomas Carmichael Hindman
Adley Hogan Gladden
John Porter McCown
Lloyd Tilghman
Nathan George Evans
Cadmus Marcellus Wilcox
Philip St George Cocke
Robert Emmett Rodes
Richard Taylor
Louis Trezevant Wigfall
James Heyward Trapier
Samuel Gibbs French
William Henry Carroll
Hugh Weedon Mercer
Humphrey Marshall
John Cabell Breckinridge
Richard Griffith
Alexander Peter Stewart
William Montgomery Gardner
Richard Brooke Garnett
William Mahone
Lawrence O’Bryan Branch
Edward Johnson
Maxcy Gregg
Henry Constantine Wayne
Daniel Marsh Frost

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close