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This Week in the Civil War

Created: 10/17/2014 7:52 AM
By: The Associated Press

This Week in The Civil War for Sunday, Oct. 19: Sheridan's Ride: Fighting at Cedar Creek, Virginia.

Confederate forces, though far outnumbered and ill-equipped, attacked sleeping and encamped Union soldiers on Oct. 19, 1864, at Cedar Creek in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. The Confederate charge swept over Union fighters during the fog-shrouded hours before dawn — not far Belle Grove — shaped up early on as a disaster for the North. But the battle this week 150 years ago in the Civil War was not yet over. Sounds of fighting drew the attention of fast-approaching Union Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan, who rode into the fray with reinforcements after a trip to Washington, D.C., to confer with authorities. Amid Sheridan's rallying cries, the Union counterattacked and drove off the Confederates in what would be one of the bloodiest battles in the Shenandoah Valley. At a cost of thousands of dead and wounded soldiers on both sides, the Union muscled its way to victory and smashed the last major Confederate resistance there. The outcome, following the Union capture of Atlanta weeks earlier, provided another morale boost to the North weeks before its voters would sweep Abraham Lincoln back into office for a second term.

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This Week in The Civil War for Sunday, Oct. 26: Confederate ironclad sunk, fighting near Richmond, Virginia.

A Union vessel sunk the Confederate ironclad Albemarle at its berth in Plymouth, North Carolina, 150 years ago this week in the Civil War. The Confederate ironclad had menaced Union warships since it was commissioned in 1864, sinking the USS Southfield on one occasion and damaging or driving others off in a subsequent encounter. Later, when Union forces gained control of Plymouth, the ironclad would be refloated and taken in 1865 to Norfolk, Virginia, before being sold off. Fighting continued in late October in Virginia as Union commander Ulysses S. Grant launched a double-pronged offensive near the Confederate seat at Richmond, Virginia, and the neighboring city of Petersburg. But the attempt on Oct. 27-28, 1864, to cut off Confederate supply lines was repulsed by the Confederate defenders at Burgess Mill in Virginia and Union fighters were forced to retreat to their earlier positions.

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This Week in The Civil War for Sunday, Nov. 2: Lincoln re-elected.

Buoyed by a series of military successes, Abraham Lincoln was re-elected president this week 150 years ago in the Civil War. Lincoln defeated Gen. George B. McClellan, who got into politics in the years after Lincoln sacked him from his military command for a cautious approach to the early Union war effort. McClellan campaigned on an anti-war platform but the Union's military successes late in 1864, including the capture of Atlanta, swayed many voters on Nov. 8, 1864, to hand him a second term. Many Union soldiers voted by absentee ballot from the field.

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This Week in The Civil War for Sunday, Nov. 9: Lincoln's re-election trumpeted by Northern newspapers.

Union states patiently awaited final ratification this week of President Abraham Lincoln's re-election 150 years ago in the Civil War. The New York Hearld, a day after the voting concluded in November 1864, trumpeted: "The Result of the Great National Contest. ABRAHAM LINCOLN RE-ELECTED PRESIDENT." The newspaper reported voting proceeded calmly despite rain in many Union states and that based on early vote tallies, Lincoln's re-election was at hand. The Associated Press reported Lincoln was serenaded by well-wishers from Pennsylvania a day after the vote, delivering a speech from a window stating he had worked "for the best interests of the country and the world, not only for the present, but for all future ages." He added that he would abide by the outcome once it had been duly ratified.

This series marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War draws primarily from wartime dispatches credited to The Associated Press or other accounts distributed through the AP and other historical sources.

(Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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