On the first day of the month, the U.S. House passed legislation reinstituting the rank of Lieutenant General in the U.S. Army, paving the way to giving Ulysses S. Grant to run the war without interference from Washington.
On the 3rd, William T. Sherman opened the Meridian Campaign, a thrust into central Mississippi to break up Confederate communications and infrastructure, and to cement Union control of the vital Mississippi River. His troops marched into Jackson on the 5th.
On the 7th, Union forces entered Jacksonville, Florida.
February 9th saw a successful escape of 109 Union officers from the notorious Libby Prison in Richmond. 59 officers actually reached Union lines.
President Lincoln attempted, unsuccessfully, to rescue 6 horses from the White House stables when a fire broke out on February 10th.
Sherman’s troops take Meridian, MS on February 14th, destroying rail lines and supply depots. Confederate troops are powerless to stop them.
In a naval engagement in Charleston Harbor on February 17th, the CSS HUNLEY torpedoed and sank the USS HOUSATONIC. The Union vessel’s crew survived, but the HUNLEY also went down, losing 9 men.
The Battle of Olustee was fought near Ocean Pond in Baker County, FL on the 20th. The opposing forces were virtually equal, but the Southerners prevailed, forcing the Union troops back towards Jacksonville.
On February 22nd , near Dalton, Whitfield County, GA, Union General George Thomas, knowing that his opposite number, General Joseph E. Johnston had transferred two of his divisions to reinforce other Confederate forces, sent troops forward to test the strength of Johnston’s remaining force. The two sides skirmished for several days, before Thomas realized that Johnston was still able to repel any assault.
Also on the 22nd, 2,500 Confederate cavalry under Nathan Bedford Forrest attacked 7,000 Union troops under William S. Smith. The two engaged in a running battle across 11 miles of Chickasaw County, MS. Forrest was reinforced and managed to rout Smith. Forrest’s younger brother was killed in this battle.
Braxton Bragg was named Chief of Staff to President Jefferson Davis on the 24th.
On the 27th, the first Union prisoners arrived at the Confederate prison at Andersonville.
On the 29th, Union cavalry General Judson Kilpatrick split his force, sending a force of 500 troopers to attack Richmond from the west.