Ulysses S. Grant takes command of Union forces at Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
On September 2, the battle of Dry Wood Creek (known in the South as the Battle of the Mules) was fought in Vernon County, Missouri. After winning the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, Confederate-loyal Major General Sterling Price, leading some 6,000 poorly trained and underequipped Missouri State Guardsmen, occupied Springfield. Soon after, he headed towards Ft. Scott, Kansas. En route, they encountered a 600-man Union cavalry force under the command of Colonel (and Senator) James H. Lane. (a caricature of Senator Lane appeared in the Clint Eastwood movie “Josey Wales.”) The Union troopers surprised the Southerners, but in a fight lasting about two hours, Price’s numerical superiority eventually decided the dispute. Because of this battle, Union troops abandoned southwestern Missouri.
On September 3, Confederate General Leonidas Polk, concerned about the Federal build-up in the west, ordered General Gideon Pillow to seize Columbus, KY on the Mississippi River.
On September 4, Pillow succeeded in taking Columbus.
In late August, Union General William S. Rosecrans grew concerned about Confederate General John B. Floyd’s drive to reclaim the Kanawha Valley, in what is now Nicholas County, WV. Although the Confederate forces had built entrenchments, the attack by Rosecrans on September 10 on Floyd’s camps was successful, forcing the Rebels to retreat across the Gauley River. The Union victory contributed to the eventual withdrawal of Confederate forces from Western Virginia.
Also on that September 10, Jefferson Davis appointed Albert Sidney Johnston to command of the forces in the Confederate West, known as Department No. 2.
On September 11, President Lincoln ordered John C. Fremont to rescind the order that freed some of the slaves in Missouri. The new orders conformed to the Confiscation Act passed by Congress. On that day, the President also ordered the arrest of Maryland legislators who were openly pro-South.
From September 12-15, the Battle of Cheat Mountain was fought in Pocahontas and Randolf Counties in what is now West Virginia. It is notable because it was the first time Robert E. Lee led troops into combat. Union General Rosecrans deployed four regiments (1,800 men) in the area to defend the major transportation lines. General Joseph Reynolds was assigned Fort Milroy in the Cheat Mountain district. Lee planned a two-pronged attack against the Fort, and to seize the turnpike west of the fort. The approaches by the Southerners was not coordinated at all, especially in the rain, fog, mountainous terrain and dense forest. The forces never made contact with each other and attacked independently. Although the Union’s 300 defenders were vastly outnumbered, the piecemeal attacks against prepared fortifications were defeated. Lee withdrew on the 17th.
The first school for freed slaves opened at Fortress Monroe, VA on the 17th.
Also on September 12, Confederate forces under Sterling Price laid siege to Lexington, Missouri. After continued attacks by the 18,000 Rebels, the 3,600-man Union garrison surrendered on September 20th.
The first naval action of the Civil War occurred on the 13th. Union Lt. John Henry Russell sailed into hostile Pensacola Harbor and destroyed the privateer “Judah.”
On September 16, the Union Committee of Naval Constructors recommended building the ironclad ships “Galena,” “Ironsides,” and “Monitor.”
Entering Kentucky through the Cumberland Pass, Confederate Genderal Felix Zollicoffer forced a small federal garrison to flee from Barboursville on the 19th.
On the 25th, the Union Secretary of the Navy authorizes the enlistment of slaves.