Now that April is Come–the First Week

The month of April, 1862, opens with anticipation and fear on both warring sides. Soldiers wearing blue and soldiers wearing grey grow weary of war and long for home. Mothers, sweethearts, wives and sisters of soldiers worry about their men. President Lincoln worries about disloyalty in Baltimore and when McClellan will actually use his large Army of the Potomac. Representatives of the United States and Great Britain put their signatures on a treaty in anticipation of finally moving the two powers into cooperative efforts to suppress the international slave trade. A Quaker member of Parliament anticipates restoration of the union and an end to slavery. In Tennessee, one of the bloodiest battles of the war to this date occurs at Shiloh church, with over 23,000 total casualties, including the commanding Confederate general among the 3,477 dead. Yet ordinary life continues. Around the world, contributors to life, the arts and knowledge die while others are born. Fashionable Southern women take carriage rides and fashionable Northern women can expect the opportunity to purchase the latest French fashions.

The height of fashion-1862

 April 1– Tuesday– New York City– The New York Times reports that a Mr W.B. Mackenzie “who has now the management of the celebrated United States Mantilla and Cloak Emporium of Mr George Carey,” was in Paris, France, early last month, ordering elegant ladies fashions for the New York store. “The world-renowned beauties of the Republican Court at Washington, as well as those of the Commercial Metropolis (New-York,) may well congratulate themselves upon having a person so competent to cater to their good taste as Mr. Mackenzie.”

April 1– Tuesday– Staunton, Virginia– The Staunton Spectator comments on the recent order from the War Department in Richmond, canceling all leaves and furloughs. “The Department adopts this with reluctance; but we feel assured that it will be cheerfully obeyed. The enemy is pressing us on all sides. We want every man we can get. We cannot spare a man. Our soldiers, who have manifested so much devotion, so much self denial, so much patriotism, will bear this cross without a murmur. We appeal to them in the name of all that they hold sacred– country, home, wives, children, friends, altars, and firesides– hasten at once to the field. . . . To your posts, men of the South, to your posts!”

April 2– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– The Senate follows the House and approves President Lincoln’s proposal of March 6th for gradual compensated emancipation of slaves. [However, not even one state will request any federal money for such emancipation.]

April 2– Wednesday– Elizabeth, New Jersey– Birth of Nicholas Murray Butler, educator and diplomat, who will win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.

Fashionable bonnets for a carriage ride

 April 2– Wednesday– Columbia, South Carolina– Mary Chesnut notes in her diary the social activities of well-to-do women. “To-day, the ladies in their landaus were bitterly attacked by the morning paper for lolling back in their silks and satins, with tall footmen in livery, driving up and down the streets while the poor soldiers’ wives were on the sidewalks. It is the old story of rich and poor! My little barouche is not here, nor has James Chesnut any of his horses here, but then I drive every day with Mrs. McCord and Mrs. Preston, either of whose turnouts fills the bill. The Governor’s carriage, horses, servants, etc., are splendid- just what they should be. Why not?”

April 3– Thursday– Aylesbury, England– Sir James Clark Ross, naval officer and explorer, dies 12 days before his 62nd birthday. He led two naval explorations of the waters around Antarctica in 1841 and 1842 as well as leading the search for the missing explorer Sir John Franklin in 1848.

April 4– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–Today’s Liberator reprints a letter from Union General Don Carlos Buell claiming that abolishing slavery would be unconstitutional. The same issue carries a detailed report of the New York state lecture tour by the former slave William Wells Brown who has been lecturing extensively on the topic of “The War and its Connections with Slavery.” On another page there appears a report of the harassment of Wendell Phillips in Cincinnati on March 24th and quotes an Ohioan as saying about abolitionists that they “are regarded as dangerous lunatics, who ought not to be allowed to be at large.”

Union General Buell

April 4– Friday– Locust Grove, Virginia– Jedediah Hotchkiss, serving with the Confederate forces of General Jackson, writes to his wife Sara. “O how I wish war would cease, and that we might all have peace in the enjoyment of our rights and liberties, but those rights we must have, cost what it may.”

April 4– Friday– London, England– John Bright, a Quaker member of Parliament and fervent abolitionist, sends a reply to a letter from the New York [State] Chamber of Commerce. “I believe there is no other country in which men have been so free and so prosperous as in yours, and that there is no other political constitution now in existence in the preservation of which the human race is so deeply interested as in that under which you live. . . . Notwithstanding much misapprehension, and some recent excitement, I am sure that an overwhelming majority of the people of the United Kingdom will rejoice at the success of your Government, and at the complete restoration of your Union.”

John Bright, Quaker M.P. & businessman

April 5– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln orders Major General John Dix to take control of the police force of Baltimore, Maryland, and “to arrest and imprison disloyal persons, declare martial law, and suspend the writ of habeas corpus in the city.”

April 5– Saturday– Edinburg, Virginia– Robert Gould Shaw writes home to his sister Nellie in Massachusetts. “I know now how a shell sounds flying through the air and it is an exceedingly unpleasant sound. It is a moment of great anxiety from the time you see the smoke issuing from the cannon, until you see where the shot falls. . . . I don’t believe I shall want to leave home again when the war is over.”

April 5– Saturday– Yorktown, Virginia–Federal troops under General McClellan begin a month long siege of the town.

April 5– Saturday– Buxieres-des-Mines, France– Birth of Louis Gaston Ganne, composer and conductor.

Reconstruction of Shiloh Methodist meeting house--the original was destroyed during the battle

April 6– Sunday– Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee– Confederate troops launch an attack upon General Grant’s unsuspecting Federal forces in the area of Shiloh Meeting House. In the heavy fighting, one of the Confederate dead is the commanding general, Albert Sidney Johnston.

Battle of Shiloh

April 6– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln sends a telegram to General McClellan, encouraging action. “I think you better break the enemy’s line from Yorktown to Warwick River, at once. They will probably use time as advantageously as you can.”

April 6– Sunday– Paris, France– Birth of Georges Darien, writer and anarchist.

April 7– Monday– Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee– On the second day of fighting in the battle of Shiloh, one of the bloodiest battles to date, re-enforced Federal troops under General Grant turn a near defeat into a costly victory, routing a Confederate attack which costs the Union 13,047 dead, wounded and missing while the Confederates suffer 10,694 killed, injured and missing.

Harper's Weekly illustration of the fight at Shiloh

April 7– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Lord Lyons, the British Minister, reports to the Foreign Secretary regarding the treaty on cooperation in suppression of the slave trade. “I have . . . this morning signed the Treaty; and I have, in deference to Mr. Seward’s opinion, admitted the Clause limiting the duration. . . . the Senate does not always confine itself to ratifying or rejecting a Treaty absolutely. It very frequently makes amendments or alterations. It appears, therefore, to be more consistent with the Dignity of the Queen, that even if Her Majesty approve of the Treaty as it stands, Her Ratification should not be given, until it is certain that the President has been authorised by the Senate to give the Ratification of the United States.”

April 7– Monday– London, England– Sydney Nelson, composer, dies at age 62. He has claimed that he wrote more than 800 pieces of music.

Veterans of the Shiloh battle, c.1908

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