Monthly Archives: March 2013

Humble Discharge of Duties~March 1863~the 28th to 31st

Fighting erupts on many fronts as the month ends, a foreshadowing of what is to come this spring and summer. President Lincoln comments upon Milton’s Paradise Lost and asks the nation to fast and pray for unity and peace. Gideon Welles takes a deliberately negative view of Lord Russell’s speech of March 23rd. Colonel Chamberlin of Maine, a professor rhetoric at Bowdoin College before the war, misses his wife. Greece selects a new king.

March 28– Saturday– Wellington, New Zealand– As required by the Constitution Act of 1852, representative districts are redrawn because of population growth from a substantial number of European immigrants. Today begins 18 days of supplementary elections to send members to the parliament.

the old capitol building in Wellington, New Zealand

the old capitol building in Wellington, New Zealand

March 29– Sunday– New York City– George Templeton Strong relates a story about a senator calling upon President Lincoln. The senator compares Satan’s lines in Milton’s Paradise Lost with some of Confederate President Jeff Davis’ statements, to which Lincoln responds, “Yes, I always thought the Devil was some to blame.”

illustration of Satan for 1860's edition of Paradise Lost

illustration of Satan for 1860’s edition of Paradise Lost

March 30– Monday– Dutton’s Hill, Kentucky; Zoar Church, Virginia; Point Pleasant, West Virginia; Cross Hollow, Arkansas; Vernon County, Missouri; Washington, North Carolina– Almost as a preview of upcoming spring offensives, extensive and sometimes bloody skirmishing takes place.

March 30– Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln issues a proclamation. “Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do by this my proclamation designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer. And I do hereby request all the people to abstain on that day from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite at their several places of public worship and their respective homes in keeping the day holy to the Lord and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion. All this being done in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the divine teachings that the united cry of the nation will be heard on high and answered with blessings no less than the pardon of our national sins and the restoration of our now divided and suffering country to its former happy condition of unity and peace.”

President Lincoln

President Lincoln

March 30– Monday– Falmouth, Virginia– Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin of the 20th Maine writes to his wife Fannie. She has returned to Maine after spending several weeks in camp with her husband. “When the [railroad passenger] cars moved away carrying my soul with them, I sprang on my grey horse ‘Prince’ who gave a wild snort and away we flew like the wind. He knew, noble fellow, that it was a heart-breaking day for me, and that he and my sword were all that was left me now, and a right wild scamper we had of it– we three– we have been together on more awful mornings than that, but my eye was always dry before. . . . . so I must bear it again– my heart with you, my trust in God.”

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin

March 30– Monday– Athens, Greece– The Parliament selects Prince Wilhelm George of Denmark, only 17 years of age, as the new King of Greece to replace King Otto who was deposed last October.

King George I of Greece, 1863

King George I of Greece, 1863

March 31– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles gives a forthright opinion of Great Britain to the pages of his diary. “Earl Russell gives us to understand that the English Government do not intend to interpose to prevent the Rebels from building, buting, and sending out from England cruisers, semi-pirates, to prey upon our commerce. In plain language, English capital is to be employed in destroying our shipping interests. If we are silent and submissive, they will succeed, and we shall waken to our condition when our vessels and merchant seamen are gone. . . . . The conduct and attitude of Great Britain, if persisted in, foreshadow years of desolation, of dissolution, of suffering and blood. . . . she has no magnanimity, no sense of honor or of right. She is cowardly, treacherous, and mean, and hates and fears our strength. In that alone is our security.”

March 31– Tuesday– Jacksonville, Florida– Federal troops complete their evacuation of the city.

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Not Half Through Our Troubles~March 1863~the 22nd to 27th

As winter recedes and spring advances, fighting increases. President Lincoln wishes for 50,000 black soldiers while Charlotte Forten Grimke laments the lack of support for Colonel Higginson and his black soldiers. Rebels murder black men whom they capture. Northern businessmen still believe in General McClellan and lament the cost of the war and the success of war profiteers. A Southern woman complains about doctors. England seems to moderate its attitude about the American war. Central Europe remains in turmoil. Around the world life goes on.

Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck

Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck

March 22– Sunday– New York City– The New York Times reports on Germany’s attitude toward the revolt in Poland. Prussian troop movements are defensive; Prime Minister Bismarck will not provide military support to Russia’s forces nor join Britain and France in asking the Russian Tsar to end operations in Poland. The military measures taken on such a large scale by the Prussian authorities, are perfectly justified by the character of the insurrection, as well as by the great interest which Prussia has in restraining the Polish movement. Prussia only wishes to defend her frontier. At the same time she will do all she can to prevent the insurgents from drawing succors of men, arms, and ammunition from the Prussian provinces. As to the diplomatic intervention with the Russian cabinet, Prussia does not believe she can participate in it, as such an act, would be equivalent to lending a moral support to the insurrection.”

March 22– Sunday– St Helena Island, South Carolina– Charlotte Forten Grimke writes of the Sunday service.. “Chilly, disagreeable day. Unusually small attendance at church. Some of the people sang ‘Glory be to my King Emmanuel.’ It is one of their grandest hymns. Must have the words.”

March 23– Monday– Chamsbersburg, Pennsylvania– William Heyser, like some other Northerners, still believes in General McClelland. “Cloudy. At the bank. Spent rest of day at home in partial enjoyment. Perplexed why Lincoln keeps McClelland checked when he could shorten the war with his fine talents for military tactics.”

Chambersburg, Pennsylvania-main square-c1921

Chambersburg, Pennsylvania-main square-c1921

March 23– Monday– Warrenton,, Mississippi– In support of General Grant’s operations, Union gunboats bombard the Confederate batteries at this town below Vicksburg.

March 23– Monday– Jacksonville, Florida– Federal and Confederate troops skirmish.

March 23– Monday– London, England– In a speech in Parliament, Lord Russell argues that supplying or refitting Confederate ships may violate England’s declared policy of neutrality in the American civil war. The U S Minister Charles Francis Adams expresses his delighted concurrence to Her Majesty’s Government.

Lord Russell, Britain's Prime Minister

Lord Russell, Britain’s Prime Minister

March 24– Tuesday– Nashville, Tennessee– The Daily Union reports on a Confederate atrocity. “It is reported that the Negroes employed as cooks, etc on the steamboats recently captured near the shoals by the guerrillas, were butchered in the most brutal manner by their captors, who dragged them aside and cut their throats. . . . And yet these rebels talk of the horrors of Negro insurrections, while they perpetrate atrocities . . . . Why if anything could inflame the slaves to insurrection, it would be the cowardly and barbarous murder of these fellows on the Murfreesboro road, and at Harpeth Shoals.”

March 25– Wednesday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– William Heyser writes of conditions. “As the fortunes of this war ebb and flow, so do the manipulators of our finances make and lose fortunes each day. No thought as to the good of our country, but all for personal greed and advancement. Our poor soldiers are but dispensable pawns in the hands of the fiends in Washington.”

March 25– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– Union soldiers William Bensinger, Robert Buffum, Elihu H. Mason, Jacob Parrott, William Pittenger and William H. Reddick are awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for their part in the Great Locomotive Chase of April, 1862.

March 25– Wednesday– Louisville, Kentucky– Birth of Simon Flexner, physician, pathologist and medical educator will become the first head of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (1901 to 1935).

Simon Flexner- c1910

Simon Flexner- c1910

March 25– Wednesday– Black Bayou, Mississippi; Franklin, Tennessee; Jacksonville, Virginia; Louisa, Kentucky– Skirmishes, raids and fire fights between Union and Confederate troops occur throughout the day.

March 26– Thursday– New York City– George Templeton Strong evaluates conditions. “Price of gold down again. . . . Rebellion is not yet squelched by any means and we are not half through our troubles. . . . great battles are imminent, and there are abundant chances of disaster at each point.”

George Templeton Strong

George Templeton Strong

March 26– Thursday– Charleston, West Virginia–Voters overwhelmingly approve the proposed new state constitution in a state-wide referendum.

March 26– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln writes to Andrew Johnson, military governor of Tennessee about raising regiments of black soldiers. “The colored population is the great available and yet unavailed of force for restoring the Union. The bare sight of fifty thousand armed and drilled black soldiers upon the banks of the Mississippi would end the rebellion at once; and who doubts that we can present that sight if we but take hold in earnest?”

Charlotte Forten Grimke

Charlotte Forten Grimke

March 26– Thursday– St Helena Island, South Carolina– Charlotte Forten Grimke writes about Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson and his soldiers being withdrawn from operations in Florida. “I think our noble Colonel will be bitterly disappointed; it is too bad, too bad. Surely with all the troops that have been raised at the North enough might be sent here to take Charleston and hold Florida too, but it is always so. Always something lacking somewhere. One can’t help feeling a little discouraged sometimes.”

March 27– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– The Liberator carries a report of the recent meeting of the Cherokee National Council which repealed its previous ordinance of secession, done unanimously, believing that the old legislature had been coerced into that action by the rebel army. The action of the Council also sustains President Lincoln in his proclamation for unconditional emancipation.

Fashionable dresses~1862

Fashionable dresses~1862

March 27– Friday– Mill Creek, Tennessee– Mary Louise Pearre complains of sickness, doctors and medicines. “Three weeks has passed since I have penned a line. Ruth, May & myself have all been ill, are now convalescent. I have been confined to my room for two weeks & have been well physicked with quinine, opium & with various powders & pills. Have no faith in M. D. ‘s & their stuff. Yet by dent of much persuasive eloquence aided by acute pain they prevailed upon me to be drugged to any amount. I am far from being well yet. Have forsworn any more dosing. Not another pill will I swallow except opium. I rather like its effect.”

Sir Henry Royce c1939

Sir Henry Royce c1939

March 27- Friday– Alwalton, Peterborough, England– Birth of Henry Royce, English automobile pioneer.

A Rifle Called “Katie Darling”~March, 1863~the 17th to 21st

Soldiers in both armies write about birthdays, weddings, religious faith, battles and weapons. Union soldiers involved in the “Great Locomotive Chase” are released in a prisoner exchange. Poland seethes with unrest. Some in the Lincoln Cabinet remain quite anti-British. Senator Sherman writes to his brother General Sherman, declaring that the Confederacy must be “throughly whipped.” Frederick Douglass encourages black men to enlist in the Union Army. In other places the world goes on.

1863:

Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy

Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy

March 17– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles, after a quick visit to New York City, confides to his diary. “There is such a general feeling against the English, who are conniving with and aiding the Rebels, that privateering is becoming popular with the Administration and country. Statesmen who should check and restrain the excited, erring popular current are carried along with it.”

The men involved in the Great Locomotive Chase

The men involved in the Great Locomotive Chase

March 17– Tuesday– City Point, Virginia– Union soldiers William Bensinger, Robert Buffum, Elihu H. Mason, Jacob Parrott, William Pittenger and William H. Reddick are released from the Southern prisoner-of-war camp here and exchanged for Confederate soldiers held by the Federals. These six men participated in the “Great Locomotive Chase” of April, 1862, a failed attempt to sabotage a Confederate railroad.

March 17– Tuesday– Camp Winder, near Moss Neck, Virginia– Confederate soldier Andrew Brooks, serving under General Stonewall Jackson, writes to his mother to reassure her. When I commenced writing I had just returned from preaching, which we have every night. Dr. Hoge and Mr. Lacy are gone. There is a chaplain with each regiment of the brigade, two Presbyterians and three Methodists.”

March 17– Tuesday– Kelly’s Ford, Virginia– Union and Confederate cavalry clash in a hard fought exchange. Federal losses total 78; Confederate losses amount to 133. The Union cavalry retreats.

Battle at Kelly's Ford

Battle at Kelly’s Ford

March 17– Tuesday– County Limerick, Ireland– Birth of Patrick John McCarthy. At age 17 he will emigrate to the United States and settle in San Francisco, California, where he will become a trade union activist and mayor of the city from 1910 to 1912.

March 18– Wednesday– Columbia, Tennessee– Confederate soldier W. J. Thompson writes to his parents, describing a recent battle. “On the 5th day of this inst we fought one of the hardest Battles that I have ever experienced the Battle was fought at Thomson Station that is betwixt Columbia and Nashville on the rail rode believe we fought from ten o’clock in the morning till three o’clock in the evening we whipped them completely there cavalry all run off and left there infantry our cavalry then run round in the rear of there infantry then we give them shot and shell on every side until the hole of them surrendered I have never heard the report of the killed on either side.”

George Templeton Strong whose diaries provide much information about Northern life during the Civil War

George Templeton Strong whose diaries provide much information about Northern life during the Civil War

March 19– Thursday– New York City– George Templeton Strong writes of the evening’s activities. “To a state dinner at William Astor’s at six. . . . General McClellan kept very quiet. Had a little talk with him after dinner and found him genial and pleasant.”

March 19– Thursday– Charleston, South Carolina–The S.S. Georgiana is destroyed on her maiden voyage while attempting to run through the Union blockade. (The wreck will not be discovered until this same day, March 19th, in 1965).

artifacts recovered from the SS Geogiana and another wreck

artifacts recovered from the SS Geogiana and another wreck

March 20– Friday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– William Heyser notes the suffering around him in a hard winter. “Cloudy and cold. At the bank this morning. On the way was accosted by an old woman in need of wood and flour. I gave her something that made her eye sparkle. ‘God bless you, Sir,’ she said as I passed on. How much suffering thought I, is hidden from view. Nearly all is pain in some form, joy is a fleeting thing and its companion, contentment, just as illusive.”

Senator John Sherman, Republican from Ohio

Senator John Sherman, Republican from Ohio

March 20– Friday– Mansfield, Ohio– Senator John Sherman, home from Washington for a brief visit, writes to his brother, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman. “The laws passed at the last session will be a monument of evil or of good. They cover such vast sums, delegate and regulate such vast powers, and are so far-reaching in their effects, that generations will be affected well or ill by them. . . . The arming and employment of Negroes is left upon the old law and mainly to the discretion of the President. There was but little speech-making and that mainly to the matter in hand. The Union or rather Republican members made scarcely a political speech in either house. They felt too constantly the pressure of practical measures demanding action. On the whole, the recent Congress may fairly appeal to their constituents for a favorable judgment upon the general aggregate of their acts. . . . The people . . . no longer underrate the power of the Confederates and no longer expect a short or holiday war. When coming home . . . here among plain people I find a healthy feeling. They want peace. But very few would accept it on any other terms than the preservation of the Union. They know very well that the South will only yield to this after being thoroughly whipped, and this has not been done.”

March 21– Saturday– Rochester, New York– Frederick Douglass circulates a recruiting broadside to encourage black men to enlist. “The day dawns; the morning star is bright upon the horizon! The iron gate of our prison stands half open. One gallant rush from the North will fling it wide open, while four millions of our brothers and sisters shall march out into liberty. The chance is now given you to end in a day the bondage of centuries.”

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

March 21– Saturday– New York City– The New York Times updates its readers about the situation in Poland. “There is nothing new as to the movements of the insurgents. The latest letters from Cracow are favorable to the Poles. Prince Domireiki had been killed whilst cutting his way through some Russians who surrounded him and several refugees. The Governor-General of Wilna had issued an address to the peasants, appealing to them to oppose the agitators, to the arrests of guilty parties, and deliver them up to the authorities. The appointment of General Deberg as Commander of the Russian troops in Poland, is considered indicative of a stern and unrelenting determination to crush the revolt.”

March 21– Saturday– Falmouth, Virginia– Elisha Hunt Rhodes notes his birthday. “I am a man today, for it is my birthday and I am twenty-one years old. . . . . I have had a birthday present– a leave of absence for ten days, and I appreciate it very much.”

a Norfolk rifle

a Norfolk rifle

March 21– Saturday– Carthage, Tennessee– Union soldier David Shoemaker writes to his friend Henry Bitner about two types of romance. “So you have committed matrimony, have you? Or were you only joking? If you really have ‘gone and done it’ allow me to congratulate you on your choice and to wish you and your bride a happy voyage together down the stream of life, together with the ‘little responsibilities’. I am sorry however to lose you from among the noble fraternity of Bachelors. I fear that the joys and cures of matrimony may induce you to forget your friends who have not yet joined the Benedictine order. The fact is I intend to take me an helpmate myself from among Pennsylvania’s fair daughters, some day — p-e-r-h-a-p-s. With this view I expect you to spread a good word for me to all the ‘genuine fenders’ and it may be I can find some one fool enough to have me. . . . . Our regiment was today furnished with bran new Norfolk Rifles (Springfield pattern) I am quite proud of mine, which I call ‘Katie Darling’ and I am anxious to draw a bead on a rebel with it. I intend to sleep with it tonight. Give my respects to your lady and all the friends, and write soon.”

Amazons, Teachers, Patriots~March 1863~the 10th to the 16th

Two excellent Union soldiers are discovered– oh! the scandal!– to be women and they are sent home. A Southern girl sells her jewelry while her father worries about inflation and finding food in the Confederate capital. Charlotte Forten Grimke corresponds with the poet Whittier. Attorney George Templeton Strong defends the conduct of General Butler toward the women of New Orleans. The heir apparent to the English throne takes a wife but will still have to wait almost four decades to replace his mother on the throne. Over sixty women working in a munitions plant die in an explosion.

President Lincoln issues an order requiring all soldiers absent without leave to return to their units or face the consequences. Navy Secretary Welles wants action against Britain. Black Union soldiers are involved in operations. The Senate confirms a Supreme Court nominee in a matter of days. The rebellion in Poland stirs reaction throughout Europe, including that of Garibaldi. French forces besiege a Mexican city. Smuggling goes on in many places.

1863:

March 10– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln issues an executive order requiring soldiers away without leave to return to their regiments. “I do hereby declare and proclaim that all soldiers now absent from their respective regiments without leave who shall, on or before the 1st day of April, 1863, report themselves at any rendezvous designated by the general orders of the War Department No. 58, hereto annexed, may be restored to their respective regiments without punishment, except the forfeiture of pay and allowances during their absence; and all who do not return within the time above specified shall be arrested as deserters and punished as the law provides.”

Justice Stephen J Field

Justice Stephen J Field

March 10– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– The Senate confirms Stephen J Field as an associate justice of the Supreme Court four days after President Lincoln nominated him.

March 10– Tuesday– Jacksonville, Florida– Black Union soldiers occupy the town.

African American Union soldiers

African American Union soldiers

March 10– Tuesday– London, England– Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, the Queen’s second child and first son, marries Princess Alexandra of Denmark. Upon his mother’s death, he will ascend the throne as King Edward VII.

The royal couple on their wedding day in 1863

The royal couple on their wedding day in 1863

March 11– Wednesday– New York City– Attorney George Templeton Strong writes in his diary. “I fear [Frederick Law] Olmsted is mismanaging our Sanitary Commission affairs. He is an extraordinary fellow, decidedly the most remarkable specimen of human nature with whom I have ever been brought into close relations. Talent and energy most rare; . . . and appetite for power. He is a lay-Hildebrand.”

Frederick Law Olmsted

Frederick Law Olmsted

March 11– Wednesday– Nashville, Tennessee– The Nashville Dispatch reports on two women found to be disguised as Union cavalry soldiers. “In our Sunday’s issue we published the fact that Ella V. Reno and Sarah E. Bradbury had been arrested in military uniform, at Murfreesboro’, and sent to Col. Truesdail. After an examination into their case, the Colonel generously provided them with comfortable female attire, and furnished them with means to reach their homes. Miss Bradbury, whose assumed name was Frank Morton, made a written statement of her life, under oath, before the Judge Advocate, from which we make the following extracts: ‘I am eighteen years old, was born in Wilson county, Tennessee, and moved from there to this county about one year ago. I was raised by a step-father, my mother having died when I was seven years old. I have no recollection of having
ever seen my father. I lived seven miles from Nashville, on the old Chicken road that leads from Nashville to Lebanon. I have been in the service six months. I first went into the 7th Illinois cavalry,
in company C. . . . . Camp life agreed with me, and I never enjoyed better health in my life. Afterward I became a member of General Sheridan’s escort, company L, 2d Kentucky cavalry. One day Colonel Barret sent me as bearer of dispatches to Col. Libott, a distance of six miles. On my return, one of my brother orderlies betrayed me to the Colonel, he becoming jealous of my reputation as an orderly, and having found out my sex a few days previous. My sex thus exposed, I was arrested and sent to Col. Truesdail in irons. May I never fall into worse hands, for I found him a gentleman in every sense of the word. I have made a good and faithful soldier, have learned a good deal of human nature, and had some aspirations as a soldier.’” The newspaper goes on to explain the disposition of the case from the military judge’s report. “They were provided with female apparel and sent to Louisville. Such martial spirits are not needed, and their presence in the army is detrimental to its best interests.”

March 12– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln writes to the Senate. “I herewith transmit to the Senate, for its consideration and ratification, a treaty with the chiefs and headmen of the Chippewas of the Mississippi and the Pillagers and Lake Winnibigoshish bands of Chippewa Indians.” In the White House Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles confers with the President and Secretary of State Seward about ships being built in England for the Confederacy. He advices that “England should be frankly informed that our countrymen would not be restrained from active operations if Great Britain persisted in making war on our commerce under Confederate colors.”

Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy

Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy

March 12– Thursday– Matamoros, Mexico–A Confederate agent reports that over eighty European ships regularly use this port to trade arms and ammunition for Southern cotton.

March 13– Friday– Richmond, Virginia–An explosion in the Confederate Ordinance Laboratory on Brown’s Island in the James River kills 69 people, 62 of them women and young girls.

March 13– Friday– St Helena Island, South Carolina– Teacher Charlotte Forten Grimke writes happily about her recent mail. “Yesterday I had a book– Alexander Crummell’s Future of Africa from [John Greenleaf] Whittier. Also a letter from him and a precious little note from his sister, both very kind and beautiful.” [Alexander Crummell, a free born black man, ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church, 44 years old at this time, has been a missionary and educator in Liberia since 1853. The book, his first of several, published in the United States in 1862, is a collection of his sermons and lectures on moral philosophy and language. In the 20th century, Dr W E B DuBois will identify himself as a disciple of Crummell.]

March 14– Saturday– New York City– The New York Times reports on attitudes throughout Europe regarding the revolt in Poland. It quotes Garibaldi, the retired leader of Italian unification. “This struggle is the struggle of despotism against right; it is a tragic episode of the theft committed by the three vultures of the north [Germany, Austria, Russia] to the detriment of the liberty and the life of one of the most considerable nations of Europe. It is the violence of brutal force against the tranquillity of the man who wishes to live peacefully by the labor of his hands; violence which will continue while people think only of their stomachs, and leave their unhappy neighbor under the yoke of the crowned butcher. Do not abandon Poland!”

Garibaldi, 1866

Garibaldi, 1866

March 14– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– Clerk John Jones writes of Southern determination despite growing economic problems. “My youngest daughter put her earrings on sale to-day– price $25; and I think they will bring it, for which she can purchase a pair of shoes. The area of subsistence is contracting around us; but my children are more enthusiastic for independence than ever. Daily I hear them say they would gladly embrace death rather than the rule of the Yankee. If all our people were of the same mind, our final success would be certain. . . . . It is a dark hour. But God disposes. If we deserve it, we shall triumph; if not, why should we? But we cannot fail without more great battles; and who knows what results may be evolved by them? General Lee is hopeful; and so long as wekeep the field, and he commands, the foe must bleed for every acre of soil they gain.”

March 15– Sunday– New York City– George Templeton Strong, describes a recent conversation about General Ben Butler’s control of New Orleans. “The outrageous indecencies of the rebel women there, and their instantaneous suppression by Butler’s much revile order; the candid admission by leading secessionists that the order was right and necessary, and that they were grateful for it as keeping their wives and daughters from putting themselves in a false and perilous position.”

March 15– Sunday– San Francisco, California– Federal authorities seize the schooner J M. Chapman right before it sales with a cargo of arms and ammunition for the Confederacy.

March 16– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– Government clerk John Jones describes conditions in the city. “The weather continues dreadful– sleeting; and movements of armies must perforce be stayed. But the season of slaughter is approaching. There was an ominous scantiness of supply in the market this morning, and the prices beyond most persons– mine among the rest.”

March 16– Monday– Puebla, Mexico– French forces begin a two month siege of the old city [founded in 1531] which sits astride the main route through central Mexico.

Whispers of Fearful Change~March, 1863~the 1st to the 9th

The pale-fac’d moon looks bloody on the earth
And lean-look’d prophets whisper fearful change;
Rich men look sad and ruffians dance and leap,
The one in fear to lose what they enjoy,
The other to enjoy by rage and war.
– Richard II by William Shakespeare, Act !!, scene 4

March brings the promise of eventual spring and renewed campaigning. Citizens South and North complain, grumble and worry, particularly about rising costs. Smuggling continues. A Southern woman wonders if she would be better off without her college education. Former slave Frederick Douglass recruits young black men for the army. The new Congress, re-shaped by last falls elections, begins to meet in Washington. President Lincoln nominates a Californian for the Supreme Court and signs the legislation authorizing conscription to sweel the ranks of Union forces. Censorship rears its head. Revolution in Poland threatens the peace of Europe.

1863:

March 1– Sunday– Berlin, Germany– A journalist reports on activities in Poland. “Private letters received here from Warsaw state that the Government is publishing a journal for private circulation exclusively amongst military men. The reports from the theatre of war contained in this journal admit the Russian losses to be constantly augmenting, and state that the insurrection is daily increasing.”

March 2– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Congress rejects the Executive Order of January 21st by President Lincoln to adopt a standard railroad gauge of 5 feet and instead adopts the 4 foot, 8 and one-half inches gauge.

Clapham Junction Railway Station

Clapham Junction Railway Station

March 2– Monday– Borough of Wandsworth, London, England– Clapham Junction railway station opens as passenger service continues to expand throughout Great Britain.

March 3– Tuesday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– Local businessman William Heyser diaries some information about financial conditions. “Great sale of old coins in New York, bringing astounding prices. An 1804 penny brought $36.00. I still have a five dollar gold piece of 1796, the year I was born.” [The $36.00 would equal approximately $665.00 in current vale.]

March 3– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln signs into law the Conscription Act (a/k/a the National Enrollment Act of 1863) which requires quotas of draftees by state, but allows well-to-do men to buy their way out of service for $300. He also signs legislation requiring that all tobacco, cotton, rice and sugar captured or abandoned in the rebellios states is to be turned over to the U S Treasury.

President Lincoln

President Lincoln

March 4– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln signs the bill which establishes the Territory of Idaho. The 38th Congress begins its first session with members chosen last November. Mr Lincoln’s Republicans control 66% of the Senate seats and 45.9% of the House of Representatives seats. Democrats hold 20% of seats in the Senate and 39.3% of seats in the House. The remainder of seats, 14% in the Senate and 14.8% in the House, are held by third parties.

John Henry Wigmore, American jurist

John Henry Wigmore, American jurist

March 4– Wednesday– San Francisco, California– Birth of John Henry Wigmore, American jurist who will become an expert in the law of evidence and will serve as the dean of Northwestern Law School from 1901 to 1929.

March 4– Wednesday– Atlantic Ocean– U S warships capture two Spanish merchant ships attempting to run the blockade.

George Templeton Strong

George Templeton Strong

March 5– Thursday– New York City– Attorney George Templeton Strong writes in his diary. “Sharply cold for a day or two. . . . War news very little and not good, though people seem generally in a sanguine fit just now. I can’t tell why.”

March 5– Thursday– Columbus, Ohio– Federal soldiers ransack the offices of The Crisis, an allegedly pro-Confederacy newspaper.

March 5– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles visits the Senate and in his diary compares it to his impression during his first visit when John Quincy Adams was president. “If the present room is larger, the Senators seemed smaller.”

March 6– Rochester, New York– Frederick Douglass writes to Gerrit Smith about efforts to recruit black me for the army. “I have visited Buffalo and obtained seven good men. I spoke here last night and got thirteen. I shall visit Auburn, Syracuse, Ithaca, Troy and Albany and other places in the State till I get one hundred men. Charley my youngest son was the first to put his name down as one of the company.”

March 6– Friday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln nominates Stephen J Field for the position of an associate justice on the Supreme Court. The 46 year old Field, a Democrat strongly loyal to the Union, has been serving as Chief Justice of the California State Supreme Court since 1859.

March 6– Friday– Mill Creek, Tennessee– Mary Louise Pearre, ardent secessionist, age 25, a graduate of Franklin Female College and teaching school here, opens her heart to her diary. “Bob is a flatterer. This is quite palpable in his conversation. Says women should be educated. Taught to reason to think and above all should cultivate a fondness for reading. I agree with him, yet I told him that a woman that thought & reasoned to an extent was unhappy, that they find they have to feed too much on mere ‘husks.’The outward world that they hide within their hearts do not agree. If I had read less, imagined less & educated my mind for the practical instead of the ideal in life, I would have been better adapted for the prosaic existence that appears to be mine. That is my fate so far. Yet I threw away (I fear) my hope of earthly happiness & must wait until the troubled heart moans itself unto the rest which knows no waking.” As for slaves, she writes, “I wish they were all in their native land beyond the sea. God only knows if slavery be right. Yet all men were certainly not born equal. If so they surely would have obtained their rights before now. I am a half fatalist. Naturally cannot help it. Have never read any works tinctured with that belief. If I had four years since, what would I have been now.”

Belle Kearney

Belle Kearney

March 6– Friday– Flora, Mississippi– Birth of Belle Kearney, temperance advocate and suffragist who will become the first Southern woman elected to a state legislature, serving two terms in the Mississippi State Senate, beginning in 1924.

March 7– Saturday– Baltimore, Maryland– Federal authorities ban the sale of music which favors secession and Union soldiers confiscate several stocks of alleged “treasonous” music.

March 8– Sunday– Fairfax Courthouse, Virginia– In a daring night-time raid, Confederate cavalry under Captain John Mosby capture a Union brigadier general, two captains and 30 others as well as horses and weapons. They make good their escape, avoiding Union patrols.

Colonel John S Mosby, a/k/a The Grey Ghost

Colonel John S Mosby, a/k/a The Grey Ghost

March 9– Monday– Charleston, South Carolina– James Louis Petigru, lawyer, politician and judge, dies 8 weeks away from his 74th birthday. An out-spoken Union supporter, after South Carolina seceded in 1860, Petigru remarked, “South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum.” Despite his unpopular views, many of the citizens of the city love and respect him. His funeral will draw a large attendance.