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.


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.

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