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This Week in the Civil War

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This Week in The Civil War for Sunday, Sept. 21: More fighting in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.

Confederates freshly defeated at the Third Battle of Winchester, Virginia, erected defensive works at Fisher's Hill in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia this week 150 years ago in the Civil War. A smaller battle was fought Sept. 21-22, 1864, with the Union taking the offensive against Southern cavalry before crashing through Southern infantry lines. Confederate Jubal A. Early was forced to retreat with his troops southward down the Shenandoah Valley. Meanwhile, news of the Union victory at Winchester reached Northern troops, eliciting cheers. The Associated Press reported on Sept. 20, 1864, that there was a raucous celebration among Union troops of the Army of the Potomac when they got word of developments in Winchester. AP reported: "The news of the victory in the Valley was read to the troops along the lines this afternoon, and was received with unbounded enthusiasm and repeated cheering. A salute of one hundred shotted guns will be fired tomorrow at daylight, in honor of the victory." AP added that Confederate desertion appeared on the rise. It added that some Confederate deserters told had they had recently obtained fresh beef from livestock sezied in the countryside. The report also said some rebel pickets close to Union forces were offering to trade their fresh beef for Union coffee and other supplies.

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This Week in The Civil War for Sunday, Sept. 28: Lull in fighting near Petersburg, Virginia.

The Associated Press reported on Sept. 28, 1864, 150 years ago during the Civil War, that relative calm prevailed for a few days amid a longstanding Union siege at Petersburg, Virginia, not far from the Confederate capital of Richmond. "Quiet still prevails in front of Petersburg, broken only by the usual picket firing and occasional artillery duels, the effect of which is to consume a large quantity of powder." The AP dispatch added that heavy firing could still be heard in bursts from the area around the James River and there were reports of large groups of Confederate cavalry on the move, their war aims unclear. The Union besieged Petersburg as crucial Confederate supply point 25 miles to the south of Richmond. The siege would drag on nearly until the end of the war before Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant would cut through and hasten the end of the war in 1865.

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This Week in The Civil War for Sunday, Oct. 5: Fighting in Georgia.

Confederates after the fall of Atlanta waged harassing attacks on Union forces northwest of that major Southern city 150 years ago this week in the Civil War. A Confederate force moving northward around Atlanta clashed with Union troops for several hours on Oct. 5, 1864, near Allatoona Pass. Union forces held their ground behind an earthen defense work until Union reinforcements could arrive and the Confederate attackers retreated. Elsewhere, The Associated Press reported intermittently heavy skirmishing in Virginia along the north side of the James River only miles from the Confederate capital of Richmond. AP said the Confederates had extremely stout defense works, "a very formidable line of works was found, behind which the enemy were posted in heavy force." Shelling took its toll, sometimes erupting with little warning. Said AP of one burst of fighting, "A shell from one of the enemy's battery's grazed General Meade's boot leg to-day; took a piece from the tail of General Humphrey's horse and entered the ground."

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This Week in The Civil War for Sunday, Oct. 12: Chief Justice of Supreme Court in Dred Scott case dies.

The fifth chief justice of the United States, Roger Brooke Taney, died this week 150 years ago during the final months of the Civil War. Taney had issued the majority opinion in the Dred Scott decision of 1857 that found a slave under Missouri law had no constitutional right to bring suit in federal court. The highly controversial ruling had helped to stoke tensions between North and South leading up to the war. The Associated Press, reported Oct. 15, 1864, on mourning over Taney's death three days earlier. AP said from Washington that President Abraham Lincoln had turned out to bid farewell to the chief justice. "The remains of Chief Justice Taney were accompanied to the railroad train to-day, by President Lincoln and several members of the Cabinet. The body will be conveyed to Frederick, Maryland, for interment," the AP dispatch added. AP also reported the same day that the fighting in Virginia along front lines was in somewhat of a lull. "Accounts from the Army of the Potomac continue to represent all quiet along the lines, with the exception of occasional picket firing," according to The AP.

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.

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