On October 3, Union forcers under Joseph Reynolds fought an inconclusive action against Confederates under Henry Jackson. The Union’s aim was to dislodge Confederate troops from a camp near present-day Bartow, WV in order to clear an invasion route into Virginia. Jackson’s forces were in the throws of sickness that had reduced their effective numbers by 2/3. It was cold, wet, and miserable when Reynolds attacked the camp. Rebel sentries had left their posts without relief which allowed the Union forces to enter the camp. Upon hearing the sounds of battle, the 52nd Virginia Infantry ran to the fight, keeping the Union from over-running the camp. The battle raged for some five hours before Reynolds retreated to Cheat Mountain.
A new development in warfare was demonstrated before President Lincoln on October 4th. A hot air balloon intended to be used as an observation platform floated into the skies outside of Washington, thus inaugurating the use of aerial platforms in battle.
On that same date, the CSA government signed treaties with the Shawnee and Seneca Indian tribes.
In England, the division of opinion over the American Civil War was demonstrated in editorials by the two major newspapers. The London Post on October 5 backed the idea of an independent Southern government, while the London Times in an earlier editorial backed the restoration of the Union.
On October 6, Winfield Scott relieved General Robert Anderson of his command of the Kentucky Department after Anderson suffered an emotional and mental breakdown.
Continuing to reach out to the Native tribes, the CSA concluded another treaty with the Cherokee on October 7th.
General William T. Sherman was given General Anderson’s command on October 8th.
On the 11th, William S. Rosecrans took command of the Federal Department of Western Virginia.
On October 12, the ship Theodora left Charleston Harbor carrying two CSA commissioners bound for England and France.
Also on the 12th, the CSA ironclad warship attacked the Union warship Richmond on the Mississippi River.
The CSA began selling postage stamps on the 16th.
A growing conflict between CSA Generals Johnston and Beauregard came to a head when President Jefferson Davis stepped in on the 19th to try to settle the dispute.
On October 21, a series of reconnaissance probes undertaken by Union General in Chief McClelland resulted in the Battle of Balls Bluff. Union troops attempted a crossing of the Potomac River into Virginia, but lacked sufficient boats to carry the entire force. In the battle, CSA forces pushed the Union troops to the edge of the bluffs. In an attempt to evacuate, overloaded boats were capsized and some troops drowned, their bodies floating as far south as Mt. Vernon. While an action that didn’t accomplish much strategically, it had far-reaching political effects. A sitting U.S. Senator Edward Dickinson Baker was killed in the action. This being the third lost battle by the Union (including Manassas and Wilson’s Creek), Congress established the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War which would be an albatross on the necks of Union commanders for the balance of the war, and would lead to political infighting among Union Generals. A participant in the battle, Lt. Oliver Wendell Holmes, survived a near-fatal wound to eventually become Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
On October 22, the Confederate Army of the Potomac was placed under the Department of Northern Virginia.
On that day the first coast-to-coast telegraph line was completed and on the 24th, the first transcontinental telegram was sent from San Francisco to Washington. This development ended the famed Pony Express.
West Virginians overwhelmingly voted in favor of becoming a new state under the Union on the 24th.
On October 31, and aging and infirm Winfield Scott was relieved from duty as Supreme Commander of the United States Army.