The major armies on both sides remained in Winter Quarters in January of 1864. It was a time to rest and recover after many major campaigns in 1863. The fighting was limited mostly to skirmishes, guerilla actions, reconnaissance, and relatively minor cavalry actions. The exception to this was at sea; the naval blockade of the Confederate coast and efforts to stop blockade runners continued as usual.
At the urging of President Lincoln, steps were taken to establish Pro Union state governments in Union controlled areas of the Confederacy. Pro Union elements in Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida, and Tennessee began laying the groundwork for the establishment of loyal governments and elections.
Lincoln also took the break in the action to make some command changes to some western departments. The Union Department of Kansas was split from the Department of Missouri, with Major General Samuel Curtis in command. And as the relatively quiet month came to and Major General William Rosecrans, who had been removed from command of the Army of the Cumberland after his defeat at Chickamauga, was given command of the Department of the Missouri, and Major General Frederick Steele assumed command of the Department of Arkansas on January 30th.