1861 October 20th

October 20 1861 Saturday

California. Union Major William Scott Ketchum’s Regular Army soldiers were relieved at Camp Latham by three volunteer companies of the 1st California Cavalry. The Californians were sent to San Bernardino County to establish Camp Carleton and later Camp Morris and to suppress any secessionist uprising. Volunteer troops were also sent to Camp Wright in San Diego County to watch the southern overland approach into California across the Colorado Desert from Fort Yuma, located on the west bank of the Colorado River. They were also ordered to intercept secessionist sympathisers travelling east to join the Confederate Army.

Kentucky. Alarmed by the Confederate incursion into eastern Kentucky by Confederate Brigadier-General Felix Zollicoffer, Union Brigadier-General George Henry Thomas sent a detachment under Colonel Theophilus Toulmin Garrard from Camp Dick Robinson at Lancaster to secure the ford on the Rockcastle River near London. Garrard was ordered to establish a camp (Camp Wildcat) at the heavily forested Wildcat Mountain and obstruct the Wilderness Road passing through the area and to hold the ford. Garrard informed Thomas that if he did not receive reinforcements, he would have to retreat because he was outnumbered seven to one. Thomas sent forward Brigadier-General Albin Francisco Schoepf with the equivalent of a brigade, raising Garrard’s total force to about 7,000 men. The Union troops awaited the Confederates who had to pass their stronghold to penetrate into central Kentucky.

Zollicoffer’s Confederate troops had to pass Camp Wildcat but he was unaware that the camp had been reinforced. He mistook the column of Union reinforcements spotted during the afternoon to be the entire Union force preparing for battle and underestimated the strength his opposition. Union pickets skirmished with the Confederates during the evening and returned to camp to report that a large Confederate force was nearby.

Missouri. Two Union columns, one under Colonel Joseph Bennett Plummer with 1,500 men and another under Colonel William Passmore Carlin with 3,000 men, were sent in pursuit of Missouri State Brigadier-General Meriwether Jefferson Thompson’s partisans after they had burned the Iron Mountain Railroad Bridge over the Big River. Thompson learned of the pursuit and withdrew south of Fredericktown. In the evening he decided to resist the Union advance.

Virginia. Incident at New River.

Virginia. Reconnaissance to Herndon Station, Hunter’s Mill, Thronton Station, and Thornton’s Mills.

Virginia. Union Major-General George Brinton McClellan was informed by a Union signal station on Sugar Loaf Mountain that the Confederates appeared to have moved away from Leesburg. McClellan ordered Brigadier-General Charles Pomeroy Stone to conduct what he called “a slight demonstration” in order to see how the Confederates might react. Stone moved troops to the river at Edwards Ferry, positioned other forces along the river, had his artillery fire into suspected Confederate positions, and briefly crossed about a hundred men of the 1st Minnesota Infantry to the Virginia shore just before dusk. Seeing no reaction from the Confederates, Stone recalled his troops to their camps and the “slight demonstration” came to an end.

Stone then ordered Colonel Charles Devens of the 15th Massachusetts Infantry (stationed on Harrison’s Island facing Ball’s Bluff) to send a patrol across the river at that point to gather information about enemy deployments. Devens sent Captain Chase Philbrick and approximately 20 men to carry out Stone’s order. Advancing in the dark nearly a mile inland from the bluff, the inexperienced Philbrick mistook a row of trees for the tents of a Confederate camp and without verifying what he saw, returned and reported the existence of a camp.

Stone immediately ordered Devens to cross some 300 men and, as soon as it was light enough to see, attack the camp and then return. Devens had permission to stay on the Virginia side of the river and to proceed to Leesburg if he found it unguarded. Devens requested reinforcements for that purpose.

Union Organisation

USA: Brigadier-General George Wright was appointed to temporary command of the Department of the Pacific, arriving on 26 October 1861, to succeed Brigadier-General Edwin Vose Sumner.

Wright, George / Vermont / Born 21 October 1803 Norwich, Vermont / Died Crescent City, California 30 July 1865
USMA 1 July 1822 24/40 Infantry / Cadet USMA 4 September 1818 / 2nd Lieutenant USA 3rd US Infantry 1 July 1822 / 1st Lieutenant USA 23 September 1827 / Regt Adjutant 1 February 1831-30 October 1836 / Captain USA 30 October 1836 / 8th US Infantry 7 July 1838 / Major USA 4th US Infantry 1 January 1848 / Lieutenant-Colonel USA 3 February 1855 / Colonel USA 9th US Infantry 3 March 1855 / Brigadier-General USV 28 September 1861 / Brevet Major USA 15 March 1842 Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel USA 20 August 1847 Brevet Colonel USA 8 September 1847 Brevet Brigadier-General USA 19 December 1864 / WIA Molino del Rey 8 September 1847
Department of Oregon 8 June 1860-15 January 1861 / District of Oregon 15 January 1861-13 September 1861 / District of Southern California 14 September 1861-14 October 1861 / Department of the Pacific 20 October 1861-21 May 1864 / District of California 1 July 1864-27 July 1865 / Department of the Columbia 27 June 1865-20 July 1865

USA: The District of Harper’s Ferry and Cumberland was established in the Department of the Potomac, with responsibility for the protection of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad between Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, and Cumberland, Maryland, including a strip of land twenty miles wide along the south bank of the Potomac River.

USA: Brigadier-General Frederick West Lander assumed command of the District of Harper’s Ferry and Cumberland.

Lander, Frederick West / Massachusetts / Born 17 December 1821 Salem, Massachusetts / Died Paw Paw, Virginia 2 March 1862
ADC (G B McClellan) May 1861-June 1861 / ADC (T A Morris) May 1861-July 1861 / Brigadier-General USV 6 August 1861 to rank from 17 May 1861 / WIA Edward’s Ferry 22 October 1861
2nd Brigade Stone’s Division Army of the Potomac 9 September 1862-20 October 1862 / District of Harper’s Ferry and Cumberland 20 October 1861-22 October 1861 / District of Harper’s Ferry and Cumberland 1 December 1861-2 March 1862 / Lander’s Division Army of the Potomac 5 January 1862-2 March 1862

Commander in Chief: President Abraham Lincoln

Vice-President: Hannibal Hamlin

Secretary of War: Simon Cameron

Secretary of the Navy: Gideon Welles

  • Atlantic Blockading Squadron USN: Flag Officer Louis Malesherbes Goldsborough 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: Commander Thomas Tingey Craven USN

General–in-Chief: Winfield Scott

  • Department of the Cumberland: William Tecumseh Sherman
  • Department of the East: Vacant
  • Department of Florida: Harvey Brown
  • Department of New England: Benjamin Franklin Butler
  • Department of the Ohio: Ormsby McKnight Mitchel
    • District of Grafton: Benjamin Franklin Kelley
  • Department of the Pacific: Edwin Vose Sumner interim George Wright awaited
    • District of Oregon: Benjamin Lloyd Beall
    • 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
  • Western Department: John Charles Frémont
    • District of Western Kentucky: Charles Ferguson Smith
    • District of North Missouri: John Pope
    • District of Southeast Missouri: Ulysses Simpson Grant
    • Southern District of New Mexico: Benjamin Stone Roberts
    • Western Army: John Charles Frémont
  • Department of Western Virginia: William Starke Rosecrans
    • District of the Kanawha: Jacob Dolson Cox

Confederate Organisation

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: Robert Edward Lee

  • Department No 1: Mansfield Lovell
  • Department of Alabama and West Florida: Braxton Bragg
    • District of Alabama: Jones Mitchell Withers
  • Department of Fredericksburg: Daniel Harvey Hill
    • District of Aquia: vacant
  • Department of Middle and Eastern Florida: John Breckinridge Grayson interim
  • Department of Norfolk: Benjamin Huger
  • Department of North Carolina: Richard Caswell Gatlin
    • District of Cape Fear: Joseph Reid Anderson
    • District of Pamlico: Daniel Harvey Hill
  • Department of the Peninsula: John Bankhead Magruder
    • Army of the Peninsula: John Bankhead Magruder
  • Department of the Potomac: Joseph Eggleston Johnston
    • Army of the Potomac: Joseph Eggleston Johnston
      • I Corps Potomac: Earl Van Dorn
      • II Corps Potomac: Gustavus Woodson Smith
    • Army of the Valley: Thomas Jonathan Jackson
  • Department of South Carolina: Roswell Sabine Ripley
  • Department of Southwestern Virginia: William Wing Loring
  • Department of Texas: Paul Octave Hébert
    • District of Galveston: John Creed Moore
  • Western Department: Albert Sidney Johnston
    • First Geographical Division: Leonidas Polk
    • District of Upper Arkansas: William Joseph Hardee
    • District of the Indian Territory: Benjamin McCulloch
    • Army of Central Kentucky: Simon Bolivar Buckner
    • Western Army: Benjamin McCulloch
  • District of Arizona: John Robert Baylor
    • District of East Tennessee: Felix Kirk Zollicoffer
  • Defences of Savannah: Alexander Robert Lawton
  • Forces in Richmond: Charles Dimmock
  • Army of the Northwest: William Wing Loring

Union Generals

Note: Italics, awaiting confirmation of the commission

Major-General USA

Winfield Scott
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

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

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

Brigadier-General PACS

Alexander Robert Lawton
Milledge Lake Bonham
Benjamin McCulloch
William Wing Loring
Charles Clark
John Buchanan Floyd
William Henry Talbot Walker
Henry Rootes Jackson
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
Gideon Johnson Pillow
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
George Bibb Crittenden
John Breckinridge Grayson
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
Daniel Marsh Frost

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