Monthly Archives: April 2013

Introducing Elisha Hunt Rhodes

Elisha Hunt Rhodes, a quintessential New England Yankee, was born on Monday, March 21, 1842 in Pawtuxet Rhode Island and died on Sunday, January 14, 1917 in Providence, Rhode Island at 74 years of age. He came to the attention of most modern readers, like me, when Ken Burns used extensive quotations from his diary and letters, read by an actor with a proper Yankee accent, in the film The Civil War.

Elisha Hunt Rhodes

Elisha Hunt Rhodes

Elisha Hunt Rhodes was the eldest son of Elisha H. and Eliza A. Chace Rhodes. He grew up in the Baptist church and was a life-long member in that denomination. After attending the local grammar school, at 14 he entered Potter & Hammond’s Commercial Colleger in Providence until his father was reported lost at sea commanding the schooner Worcester on a trip to the Bahamas in early December, 1858. Young Elisha became the sole support of his mother and siblings, taking a job as a clerk in the office of Frederick Miller, a supplier to New England’s numerous mills, until the outbreak of the Civil War. In response to President Lincoln’s call for 75,000 volunteers to put down the insurrection of the southern states against the United States, Rhode Island Governor William Sprague issued an order for the immediate muster of the Second Regiment, Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry, to join the Rhode Island Brigade already under General Burnside’s command in Washington. On June 5, 1861, Elisha and two of his friends enlisted as privates. One of those friends died in battle during the war.

Elisha kept a diary and wrote letters home all during the war. Repeatedly, he wrote in his journal, even in times of Federal losses, that it was worth the struggle for it was “All for Union!” He and his regiment managed to be present at numerous key battles and campaigns, from the war’s beginning to its bitter conclusion: the Peninsula Campaign, Second Battle of Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellosville, Gettysburg, Mine Run, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna, Cold Harbor, and the siege of Petersburg. Because of his literacy, clerical and administrative skills, he received a dramatic series of promotions, the most significant when he was named regimental

adjutant on November 7, 1863; became a captain on May 5, 1864; assumed command of the depleted regiment as captain on June 5, 1864; and became colonel of the regiment on July 18, 1865. He remained with the Second Regiment from its creation to the end of the war when the regiment was mustered out on July 28, 1865.

On the day the Second Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry disbanded, Colonel Elisha Hunt Rhodes stood on the steps of the Providence City Hall and gave a short farewell address to the men under his command. “Comrades ! The time has come for us to part, after serving together for over four years. Before bidding you farewell, I wish to express my gratitude to you all for your uniform kindness to me, and your attention to duty. Nobly have you served your country, gallantly have you followed our battle scarred flags through the fiercest of the fight. You have never allowed the good name of our State to suffer, but have added to its historic fame. You may well be proud of the part that you have taken in preserving the Union. Your Commanding Officer will ever be proud to say that he served through the Rebellion in the Second Rhode Island Volunteers, and will remember with pleasure the brave men who so nobly supported him during the time that he had Command. We are now to commence a new career. We are to become citizens. Show the Nation that you can be goodcitizens as well as gallant soldiers. Be true to God, your country and yourselves. Farewell !”

Elisha married Caroline Pearce Hunt on June 12, 1866. The couple had two children: Frederick Miller Rhodes, who later married Annie Webb, and Alice Caroline Rhodes, who married Howard Chace. Caroline Hunt Rhodes, a year younger than her husband, outlived him by thirteen years

grave of Elisha & Caroline Rhodes

grave of Elisha & Caroline Rhodes

After the war, Elisha became a successful businessman, using many contacts among fellow veterans and was extremely active in veterans’ affairs. He never missed a regimental reunion. From 1879 until 1893 he served as Brigadier General in command of the Rhode Island State Militia. He and his wife belonged to the Central Baptist Church in Providence, where he served for many years as a deacon and as superintendent of the Sunday School. He also was an active Mason and served for a number of years on the city school board. During the period from 1875 to 1885, he worked as Customs Officer for the District of Rhode Island, an appointment first given to him by Ulysses S Grant when Grant was President of the United States.

In 1985, Robert Hunt Rhodes, one of Elisha’s six great-grandchildren, published All For The Union: The Civil War Diary and Letters of Elisha Hunt Rhodes. The Rhode Island Historical Society holds a large collection of Elisha Hunt Rhodes’ personal and military papers.

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Introducing Charlotte Forten Grimke

Charlotte Forten Grimke

Charlotte Forten Grimke

Charlotte Forten Grimke was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 17, 1837, one of the two children of Robert Bridges Forten and Mary Virginia Woods Forten, free-born African Americans. Her paternal grandfather, James Forten, was a wealthy sail-maker. When the radical abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison of Boston sought funding to begin publishing his newspaper The Liberator, it was James Forten and John B Vashon of Pittsburgh, the two wealthiest black men in the state, who gave him the necessary money. Most white abolitionists in 1831 were too unwilling to invest in such a dangerous venture. James Forten also provided financial backing to Garrison’s American Anti-Slavery Society.

James Forten, businessman & abolitionist

James Forten, businessman & abolitionist

Mary Forten died in the summer of 1840. Charlotte missed her mother all the rest of her life. Robert Forten would not send his daughter to the segregated schools of Philadelphia so he had her tutored at home. She was bright, friendly and attractive. Charlotte spent a lot of time with her grandparents and her uncle, Robert Purvis. Purvis, a wealthy and college-educated man of mixed race, married Harriet Forten. Charlotte’s grandparents, father, Uncle Robert and Aunt Harriet were politically active in the anti-slavery cause so from a young age Charlotte found herself in the company of Garrison, John Greenleaf Whittier, Harriet Martineau, Lucretia and James Mott, Sarah Mapps Douglass, William Nell, and Charles Remond. At age 16, Charlotte was sent by her father to Salem, Massachusetts to pursue further education. A young woman interested in the cause of abolition and with a flair for writing, Charlotte became active in the Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society and Garrison published one of her poems in The Liberator. In addition she began, in 1854, to keep a diary, which she would maintain periodically until 11892. During this time, escaped slave Anthony Burns was returned to slavery by Federal marshals under the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. The incident, which frightend both free-born black people and other fugitive slaves who had made lives for themselves in urban areas, prompted Robert Forten to move his family to Canada, but he left Charlotte in Salem with the Remonds in Salem. She graduated from Higginson Grammar School in March, 1855.

Charlotte Forten wrote to her father in Canada for permission to attend the Salem Normal School, where she had already passed the entrance exam. Robert Forten ordered his daughter to return to Philadelphia immediately. The school principal Mary Shepard urged her to write to him again, and Forten eventually agreed to allow Charlotte to attend, but he did not offer to pay her expenses. Ms Shepard loaned her the money to continue her education.

In June, 1856, Ms Forten became a teacher in Salem at the integrated Epes Grammar School but health problems forced her to return to Philadelphia after only one year of work. Her great classroom abilities made her popular with students, parents and colleagues and gave her certainty that she could teach well.

Between June, 1857 and the summer of 1862, Charlotte Forten struggled with recurring health problems, taught school when she was able and had several poems and essays published. On August 9, 1862, she and Mary Shepard visited with the poet and dedicated abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier in his home. Whittier advised the talented teacher to join the teachers at Port Royal, South Carolina who were instructing escaped slaves, children and adults, under the protection of Union soldiers. She applied to the Philadelphia Port Royal Educational Commission, was accepted and headed south on October 27, 1862.

From then until May 1864, she taught school, kept her diary quite faithfully, maintained extensive correspondence and built many friendships, including the white Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson and many of his black soldiers as well as the white Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and a number of his black soldiers. The few Southern whites remaining in the area openly showed their hatred, and Charlotte Forten began to carry a pistol after someone made an attempt to break into her sleeping quarters. She noted in her diary, “The thought of falling into the hands of the Rebels was horrible in the extreme.”

Essays chronicling her experiences, entitled “Life on the Sea Islands,” appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, edited at that time by James Thomas Fields, in the May and June issues of 1864. Under increasing physical and emotional stress, Charlotte Forten became ill once again, experiencing terrible headaches, among other symptoms, and, with deep regret, left St. Helena and returned to Philadelphia.

After the conclusion of the Civil War, Ms Forten worked with the Freedmen’s Relief Association in Boston to help former slaves find jobs and homes. In the late 1860s, she worked for the U.S. Treasury Department in Washington, DC recruiting teachers and in 1873 she became a clerk at the Treasury Department.

On December 19 1878, at age 41, Charlotte married Francis Grimke, age 26, the biracial nephew of abolitionists Sarah Grimke and Angelina Grimke Weld.. Francis’ father was Henry Grimke, one of the brothers of Sarah and Angelina, and Francis’ mother was a house slave by the name of Nancy Weston. She bore two other sons by her master as well. [Sarah and Angelina had left the South for Pennsylvania. Their writing and public speaking on behalf of the abolitionist cause severed their relationship with their parents and siblings.]

In 1868, Angelina Grimke Weld took note of Francis and his two brothers, seeing the Grimke name mentioned in an African American newspaper. Angelina and Sarah recognized them as family members and supported Francis and his bother Archibald financially through college until both graduated from Lincoln University in 1870. They further assisted Francis through his studies at Princeton Theological Seminary, from which he graduated. He became ordained as a Presbyterian minister.

Charlotte Forten Grimke helped her husband in his ministry and organized a women’s missionary group. Francis became pastor at the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church in Washington, and Charlotte continued to work for education and equality for African Americans.

15th Street Presbyterian Church, Washington, D.C., c1899

15th Street Presbyterian Church, Washington, D.C., c1899

In her marriage Charlotte Forten Grimke joined two of the most prominent family names of antebellum abolition. Charlotte and Francis Grimke lived in Washington, DC, and their home became a social and intellectual gathering place for friends and associates. Charlotte gave birth to a daughter in June 1880 but the little girl died in infancy. The couple were active in civil rights and Charlotte proudly helped Francis in activism with W. E. B. DuBois in the Niagara Movement and participation in the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

After many years of suffering from poor health, Charlotte Forten Grimke died on July 22, 1914 at her home in Washington, DC, at the age of 77. Francis outlived his beloved wife by more than twenty years, dying on October 11, 1937. He never remarried after her death.

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing Sarah Morgan Dawson

Two readers of my blog have asked, at different times, if I might provide additional information about some the persons whose correspondence and diaries I quote from on a regular basis. Motivated by the fascinating lives of these rich personalities from this experience which in so many ways defined the United States, I am beginning today an occasional series on this amazing cast of real characters from this great drama of the nineteenth century, the American Civil War. (Indeed, in my opinion, the 19th century was, in many ways, the greatest of centuries!)

Sarah Morgan Dawson

Sarah Morgan Dawson

I start today with Sarah Morgan Dawson (1842 to 1909) of Louisiana. Along with her distant relative Mary Chesnut, Ms Dawson is remembered as a Southern diarist whose writing provides key insights in the events of the war. Sarah Ida Fowler Morgan was the born in New Orleans on February 28, 1842, the seventh child of Judge Thomas Gibbes Morgan and his second wife, Sarah Hunt Fowler. Ms Dawson loved her father very much and respected his opinions. In 1850, the family relocated to Baton Rouge, where Thomas worked as a district attorney and later a district judge. In the manner of many women of the period, Ms Dawson received less than a year of formal education. Most of her learning came from the tutelage of her mother in the family home. She read widely as one can tell from her diary. Her family owned slaves, was well-to-do and Sarah lacked for nothing. For Ms Dawson, as for many, her life changed radically with the coming of war in 1861.

In April 1861, Ms Dawson’s brother, Henry, died in a duel. Later the same year, her father, “who opposed secession but supported his state once it seceded,” died. Sarah began her keeping her diary early in 1862, even as she mourned the death of her brother and father and the departure of her three remaining brothers– Thomas Jr., George, and James– to the Confederate army and navy.

According to Ms Dawson’s son, Warrington, who published his mother’s diary in 1913 and wrote the introduction, “In the early days of Secession agitation, another son of Judge T. G.Morgan, Henry, had died in a duel over a futile quarrel which busybodies had envenomed. The three remaining sons had gone off to the war. Thomas Gibbes Morgan, Jr., married to Lydia, daughter of General A. G. Carter and a cousin of Mrs. Jefferson Davis, was Captain in the Seventh Louisiana Regiment, serving under Stonewall Jackson; George Mather Morgan, unmarried, was a Captain in the First Louisiana, also with Jackson in Virginia. The youngest, James Morris Morgan, had resigned from Annapolis, where he was a cadet, and hurried back to enlist in the Confederate navy.”

“At the family home in Baton Rouge, only women and children remained. There was Judge Morgan’s widow, Sarah Fowler Morgan; a married daughter, Eliza or ‘Lilly,’ with her five children; and two unmarried daughters, Miriam and Sarah. ‘Lilly’s’ husband, J. Charles La Noue, came and went; unable to abandon his large family without protector or resources, he had not joined the regular army, but took a part in battles near whatever place of refuge he had found for those dependent on him.”

In Baton Rouge with her mother and sisters, Ms Dawson recorded the scarcity of food, clothing and household goods as a result of the Union blockade, remarking that the word “Confederate” amounted to anything that was “rough, unfinished, unfashionable or poor.” She refrained from the use of the word “slave” but called the African Americans in her household “servants” and “our people” while asserting their undying loyalty to the family.

After the Union army and navy captured New Orleans in April, 1862, Federal military operations reached into other parts of Louisiana. Ms Dawson recorded how the family kept clothes packed if it became necessary to flee. She kept about her person a small pistol and a large, sharp knife to keep away any unwelcome Yankee advances.

Ms Dawson and her family fled from Baton Rouge to Clinton and later to Linwood where she a fall from a horse which left her bed-ridden for months. Eventually they returned to New Orleans, which was still occupied by Union troops, and stayed in the house of her half-brother, Judge Philip Hicky Morgan, a Unionist who had sworn allegiance to the United States. While there until the end of the war, Ms Dawson leaned of the death of her two brothers who served in the army. The next to last entry, dated May 2, 1865, in the six carefully hand-written volumes of her diary, reads: “While praying for the return of those who have fought so nobly for us, how I have dreaded their first days at home! Since the boys died, I have constantly thought of what pain it would bring to see their comrades return without them–to see families reunited, and know that ours never could be again, save in heaven. Last Saturday, the 29th of April, seven hundred and fifty paroled Louisianians from Lee’s army were brought here– the sole survivors of ten regiments who left four years ago so full of hope and determination. On the 29th of April, 1861, George left New Orleans with his regiment. On the fourth anniversary of that day, they came back; but George and Gibbes have long been lying in their graves.”…

In May 1872, Dawson and her mother moved to South Carolina to make their home with Sarah’s younger brother, James. In an effort to support herself, Ms Dawson accepted an editorial position at the Charleston News and Courier, and throughout 1873, she wrote a series of editorials on the plight of young, single women in the postwar South. Out of her own necessity, she wrote in support of women’s employment outside of the home. However, she did not believe in women’s rights, frequently deriding and mocking woman suffragists and stressing her personal dedication to women’s
traditional place in society as wives and mothers. In 1874, Ms Dawson married the newspaper editor, Francis Warrington Dawson, an Englishman who loved the South and was a friend of her brother. The couple had three children: Ethel in 1874, Warrington in 1878, and Philip in 1881. Philip died at six months of age. After her husband’s murder in 1889, Ms Dawson again turned to writing for survival, publishing a series of short stories and translations of French works. In 1899, she relocated to Paris with her son Warrington, where she published Les Aventures de Jeannot Lapin, a French version of the Brer Rabbit stories, in 1903. She died in Paris on May 5, 1909.

Though Ms Dawson originally asked that her six-volume diary be destroyed upon her death, she left it to her son Warrington in her will. In 1913, he arranged to have the first four volumes published as A Confederate Girl’s Diary. The diary was later edited by Charles East and published in its entirety in 1991. The edition I use and quote from is available on the wonderful Project Gutenberg website.

Her son finished his introduction to the printed edition of his mother’s diary with these words of tribute: “Sarah Morgan Dawson was destined to outlive not only her husband, but all save three of her eight brothers and sisters, and most of the relatives and friends mentioned in the pages which follow; was destined to endure deep affliction once more, and to renounce a second home dearer than that first whose wreck she recorded during the war. Yet never did her faith, her courage, her steadfastness fail her, never didthe light of an almost childlike trust in God and in mankind fade from
her clear blue eyes. The Sarah Morgan who, as a girl, could stifle hersobs as she forced herself to laugh or to sing, was the mother I knew in later years.

“I love most to remember her in the broad tree-shaded avenues of Versailles where, dreaming of a distant tragic past, she found ever new strength to meet the present. Death claimed her not far from there, in Paris, at a moment when her daughter in America, her son in Africa, were powerless to reach her. But souls like unto hers leave their mark in passing through the world; and, though in a foreign land, separated from all who had been dear to her, she received from two friends such devotion as few women deserve in life, and such as few other women are capable of giving.”

Great Battle Will Undoubtedly Be Fought~April, 1863~the 24th to the 30th

Anticipating the coming effusion of blood, the number of armed skirmishes increases. Grant’s new campaign against Vicksburg begins well with a successful cavalry raid. However, one more disaster is about to befall the Union as the next month begins. Charlotte Forten Grimke attends religious services with escaped slaves. Sara Morgan laments the state of things in Union-occupied New Orleans. Proper people in Nashville want something done about the increasing number of “lewd women” parading brazenly around the streets. The tragic number of deaths causes increased business for a woman who is clairvoyant and capable of dealing with “all complaints peculiar to females” as well. The governor of Pennsylvania worries, prematurely, about a rebel invasion. The French invaders in Mexico suffer unexpected reverses. Life goes on all around the world.

 

April 24– Friday– Richmond, Virginia–The Confederate government levies a 10% tax on all produce–a tax to be paid in kind in order to help feed the army.

April 24– Friday– Newton’s Station, Mississippi– Union cavalry under Colonel Benjamin Grierson seize the town, destroy a large supply of Confederate uniforms and ammunition, the railroad depot, two trains and several miles of track, thereby cutting the east-west route of the Southern Railroad of Mississippi.

Colonel Grierson depicted on the front page of Harpers Weekly

Colonel Grierson depicted on the front page of Harpers Weekly

April 24– Friday– the Gulf of Mexico– The USS DeSoto captures four different blockade runners.

April 25– Saturday– Brooklyn, New York– Jeff Whitman writes to his brother Walt. “Although I have little to write you about yet I thought I would just ‘drop you a line’ as they say telling you that we all are in our usual style of liberty, health and pursuit of happiness. The latter of course under great difficulties as everything is so awful dear that you can hardly get enough to make a happy dinner on for less than 150cts but then we are doing the jolliest we can. How goes things with you. We don’t hear from you as often as we used to. I hope you are not so engaged but that you can find time to write home? Do you visit the Hospitals as often as usual? I suppose so. I hope you are enabled to do as much good as formerly.”

April 25– Saturday– St Helena Island, South Carolina– Charlotte Forten Grimke attends a worship service with some of the fugitive slaves and some of Colonel Higginson’s soldiers. “The people on the place have grand ‘shouts.’ They are most inspiring. . . . There is an old blind man, Maurice, who has a truly wonderful voice, so strong and clear. It rings out like a trumpet. One song– ‘Gabriel blow the Trumpet’– was the grandest thing I have yet heard. . . . Several of the soldiers . . . joined in the shout with great spirit.”

Charlotte Forten Grimke

Charlotte Forten Grimke

April 25– Saturday– Fort Bowie, Arizona Territory; Greenland Gap, West Virginia; Webber’s Falls, Indian Territory [Oklahoma]– Small but significant contests add to the spring’s blood-letting.

April 26– Sunday– New York City– The New York Times reports about efforts to raise black soldiers in the Union-occupied parts of Louisiana. “An expedition will also be sent to Bayou Macon, where there are large numbers of contrabands, some of whom are reported anxious to enlist. There will be no difficulty experienced in raising ten or twelve regiments in this department.” In a separate article the paper updates readers about the fighting in Mexico. “The French, in the commencement of their campaign in Mexico, quite underrated the Mexican soldiers in comparison with their own troops. They imagined that all they had to do was simply to land on Mexican soil and march to the City of Mexico; that the Mexicans would scarcely offer them resistance; . . . . But to their astonishment, and at the cost of one year’s campaign, they have been taught a lesson which they will not fail to remember, as they make their advance further into the interior, that the Mexican soldiers do not fear them, and will fight them on an equal footing in regard to numbers, for that has been fully shown.”

April 26– Sunday– Union camp outside Vicksburg, Mississippi– General William Tecumseh Sherman writes to his brother, Senator John Sherman, outlining General Grant’s plan to lay siege to the city. “There is no national or political reason why this army should be forced to undertake unnecessary hazard. It is far in advance of Hooker, Rosecrans, or Curtis. We have done far more than either of these armies, but have encountered more calumny and abuse than all.”

General William Recumseh Shreman

General William Recumseh Shreman

April 27– Monday– Memphis, Tennessee– The Memphis Bulletin declares: “Madam Cora James, the only reliable clairvoyant of the day, is daily astonishing citizens of the highest rank by her wonderful clairvoyant power in revealing the past and predicting coming events, Madam James has mastered all the science embraced in this glorious gift of prophecy and invariably gives satisfaction to all who consult her, and all acknowledge the truthfulness of the revelations made to them. Clairvoyant examinations and prescriptions in all chronic disease, insanity in its various forms, rheumatic affections, nervous afflictions and all complaints peculiar to females.”

April 27– Monday– Hazlehurst, Mississippi– Two of Colonel Grierson’s troopers, disguised as Confederate soldiers, casually walk into the telegraph office and send a message to Confederate General Pemberton that Grierson’s raiders are headed for the state capital.

April 27– Monday– Jackson, Missouri; Carter Creek Tennessee; Barboursville, Kentucky; Town Creek, Alabama; Morgantown, West Virginia; Murray’s Inlet, South Carolina; Wise’s Crossroads, North Carolina– Cavalry encounters, infantry skirmishes, firefights and small brawls add to the number of dead, wounded and missing.

April 28– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln sends a telegram to Governor Andrew Curtin of Pennsylvania. “I do not think the people of Pennsylvania should be uneasy about an invasion. Doubtless a small force of the enemy is flourishing about in the northern part of Virginia, on the ‘skewhorn’ principle, on purpose to divert us in another quarter. I believe it is nothing more. We think we have adequate force close after them.” The President is referring to maneuvers by Confederate General James Longstreet.

Governor Curtin of Pennsylvania

Governor Curtin of Pennsylvania

April 28– Richmond, Virginia– John Jones takes note of Grierson’s raid. “The enemy’s raid in Mississippi seems to have terminated at Enterprise, where we collected a force and offered battle, but the invaders retreated. It is said they had 1600 cavalry and 5 guns, and the impression prevails that but few of them will ever return. It is said they sent back a detachment of 200 men some days ago with their booty, watches, spoons, jewelry, etc. rifled from the habitations of the non-combating people.”

April 28– Tuesday– Union Church, Mississippi– Colonel Grierson’s Union cavalry tangles with a small unit of Confederate cavalry. After putting the rebels to flight, Grierson gives the impression to townspeople that he and his men are headed for Natchez, when in fact he is headed for Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

April 29– Wednesday– Rumford Place, Virginia– Elisha Hunt Rhodes anticipates a big fight coming soon. “The balance of the Army under General Hooker has crossed the river above Falmouth and a great battle will undoubtedly be fought. May God help us and give us victory.”

April 29– Wednesday– Fredericksburg, Virginia– Confederate General Lee, anticipating that Union General Hooker is trying to outflank the Confederate Army, splits his force in two and sends one part westward where he expects the Union attack.

Robert_E_Lee_in_1863

April 29– Wednesday– Vicksburg, Mississippi– As part of General Grant’s plan to deceive General Pemberton’s Confederate forces in the city, Union General Sherman and his men, with 10 transports and 8 gunboats, head up the Yazoo River.

April 29– Wednesday– San Francisco, California– Birth of William Randolph Hearst, journalist and newspaper mogul.

William Randolph Hearst

William Randolph Hearst

April 29– Wednesday– Montreal, Quebec, Canada– Sources report that the British vessel the Anglo-Saxon floundered and sank off of Cape Race, Newfoundland and all the mails on board are lost as well as 237 people of 445 passengers and crew on board.

April 29– Wednesday– Loosdorf, Austria– Birth of Maria Theresa Ledochowska. A daughter of Polish nobles, she will become a Catholic nun and found an order to work in Africa, especially among victims of the slave trade.

April 30– Thursday– New York City– In a letter to the New York Times a writer who signs only as “G. P. L.” writes about England’s claims to the law of neutrality during war-time. “Our complaint against England is not for permitting her citizens to sell ships-of-war to the Confederates, but it is for permitting the creation of hostile armaments, the enlistment of hostile troops, and the setting on foot of hostile expeditions within her jurisdiction.” Today’s paper also reports that the rebels in Poland have rejected the Russian Tsar’s offer of amnesty and the revolution is gaining strength. In addition it includes a report from Germany that the banking firm of Baron Rothschild supports the Union cause, opposes slavery and neither that firm nor any reputable German Jewish firm will lend money to the Confederacy.

April 30– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– Secretary Gideon Welles notes that “To-day has been designated for a National Fast. I listened to a patriotic Christian discourse from my pastor, Mr Pyne.”

April 30– Thursday– Memphis, Tennessee– The Memphis Bulletin reports on the need to handle houses of ill-repute and the duty of Federal authorities, who have occupied the city since last June, to control the problem. “It is a fact too notorious that our city at the present time is a perfect bee hive of women of ill fame. The public conveyances here become theirs by right of conquest, so much so, that a lady fears to side through the streets for fear of being classed with them. To a certain extent the steamboats plying between this and other cities North of here have not the same respectability that characterized them in former years. In fact morality, from importation of lewd women from the North, is almost at a discount. It is no common occurrence to see that class of beings walking arm and arm with men who wear the apparel of gentlemen, who are here in civil as well as military capacity, in broad daylight, to the infinite satisfaction of the women and the great annoyance to respectable people. The nuisance can be stopped, will it be? An order closing houses of ill-fame, punishing officers and soldiers for associating with the inmates of those houses and making it a heavy penalty for steamboat-men to bring lewd women down the river would no doubt have the desired effect.”

April 30– Thursday– Bruinsburg, Mississippi– About noon, General Grant begins crossing the Mississippi River from the Louisiana side and landing Union troops well south of the city of Vicksburg which is his real target but he will approach from the south.

April 30– Thursday– New Orleans, Louisiana– Sarah Morgan describes the situation in the city with regard to those who have not sworn allegiance to the Union. “To-day, thousands of families, from the most respectable down to the least, all who have had the firmness to register themselves enemies to the United States, are ordered to leave the city before the fifteenth of May. Think of the thousands, perfectly destitute, who can hardly afford to buy their daily bread even here, sent to the Confederacy, where it is neither to be earned nor bought, without money, friends, or a home. Hundreds have comfortable homes here, which will be confiscated to enrich those who drive them out. . . . Such dismal faces as one meets everywhere! Each looks heartbroken. Homeless, friendless, beggars, is written in every eye. . . . Penned up like sheep to starve! That’s the idea! With the addition of forty thousand mouths to feed, they think they can invoke famine to their aid, seeing that their Negro brothers don’t help them much in the task of subjugating us.”

This Union Will Conquor~April, 1863~the 19th to the 24th

The poet Walt Whitman, nursing wounded soldiers in Washington, expresses hope for the Union. General Sherman worries about the loss of good officers. Secretary Welles worries about a new crisis with Great Britain. President Lincoln issues a code of conduct for Union soldiers. Black soldiers make good impressions while the 54th Massachusetts trains for fighting. Union soldiers find things to admire in Tennessee and in Kentucky. Federal troops massacre Native Americans in California. The French government wants the United States to apply pressure on Russia regarding the situation in Poland.

In the Confederacy President Jeff Davis is ill. General Lee worries about food for his men. Blockade runners seem to be flourishing along the Rio Grande.

April 19– Sunday– Nashville, Tennessee– A Union soldier visits a local church. “John Marvin, Tim Marvin, Jos Blackson Harvey . . . & My Self went to a presbyterian church in the lower end of town heard a very good sermon the text taken from Corinthians first chapter & 21st verse the preacher prayed for the welfare of the union & the success of our army there was but very few citizens at church about a dozen Ladies and a number of Children and some twenty five or 30 men the balance were Soldiers the church was not over one third full it is the finest and best finished church I have seen in Nashville. . . . we went to the Presbyterian church this evening and saw a great many young secesh ladies they try to look sour at the soldiers but pleasant and smiling countenance will beat out in spite of their teeth.”

nice dresses of the period

nice dresses of the period

April 19– Sunday– near Keyesville, California– Federal cavalrymen shoot or saber to death 35 Native Americans suspected of being hostile to white settlers.

April 20– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– John Jones observes: “It is thought by many that Hooker will change his base from the Rappahannock to the Pamunky, embarking his army in transports. If this be so, we shall again have the pleasure of hearing the thunders of battle, this summer, in Richmond.”

April 20– Monday– near Columbia, Tennessee– Union Lieutenant Albert Potter to his sister. “I don’t believe I think more of the Negro. . . but I do believe and say they ought to have their freedom and they shall have it—not only because they are human and have souls, but because their masters have forfeited all right to them and their loss is our gain—And again they make good soldiers, good Fighting soldiers, and I say let them fight. They are no better to stop a ball than I am—- If working men are so opposed to arming the Negro let them take the musket out of their hands and come along. Show one a man, who is down on our Negro soldiers and who keeps hanging back and shirking and I will show you a coward. Yes a moral coward and I believe God hates a coward.”
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April 21– Tuesday– New York City– George Templeton Strong has a report from the South. “Dr March, one of our Sanitary Commission inspectors, just from Port Royal, says the First South Carolina is the best regiment he has ever seen– the best disciplined, the most subordinate, and the most pugnacious. It’s a regiment of Negroes with an infusion of Florida Seminole blood.” [This is the regiment commanded by Thomas Wentworth Higginson.]

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

April 21– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Walt Whitman to Thomas P Sawyer. “I believe this Union will conquer in the end, as sure as there’s a God in heaven. This country can’t be broken up by Jeff Davis, & all his damned crew. Tom, I sometimes feel as if I didn’t want to live– life would have no charm for me, if this country should fail after all, and be reduced to take a third rate position, to be domineered over by England & France & the haughty nations of Europe &c and we unable to help ourselves. But I have no thought that will ever be, this country I hope would spend her last drop of blood, and last dollar, rather than submit to such humiliation.”

Walt Whitman in a photo by Matthew Brady

Walt Whitman in a photo by Matthew Brady

April 21– Tuesday– Hightown, Virginia– Confederate cavalry on a raid to damage the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad reach this vicinity.

April 21– Tuesday– Fredericksburg, Virginia– General Lee reports to Richmond that the men of the Army of Northern Virginia are being supplied with a daily ration of one pound of flour and a quarter-pound of meat. There are increasing reports of typhoid fever and scurvy among his troops.

April 21– Tuesday– London, England– The Zoological Society receives a report from Australia that the quest for a living specimen of the didunculus strigirostris [“tooth-billed pigeon” thought to be related to the dodo bird] has been unsuccessful as the bird appears to be nearly extinct due to “wild cats.”

April 22– Wednesday– Washington, D. C.– Navy Secretary Gideon Welles takes note of foreign trade with the Confederacy. “Admiral Bailey writes . . . that an immense trade has sprung up on the Rio Grande; that there are at this time one hundred and eighty to two hundred vessels off the mouth of that river, when before the War there were but six to eight at any one time.”

April 22– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– Government clerk John Jones takes note of sentiments in the capital. “The President is reported to be very ill to-day– dangerously ill– with inflammation of the throat, etc. While this is a source of grief to nearly all, it is the subject of secret joy to others. I am sure I have seen some officers of rank to-day, not fighting officers, who sincerely hope the President will not recover. He has his faults, but upon the whole is no doubt well qualified for the position he occupies. I trust he will recover.”

April 22– Thursday– Lexington, Kentucky– George Whitman writes to his brother Jeff. “I sent $350 to Mother, tell her not to be afraid to use it. Kentucky is the most beautiful Country I ever saw, the people seem much more intelligent, and every way better, than in any other part of the South I have ever been. I like Ky first rate and am very glad we were brought here, as the living is good, and there is none of that devilish, Virginia mud to travel through, the roads here are the finest I ever saw as hard and firm as a floor, so that its no trouble at all to march 15 or 20 miles.”

April 23– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– The Lincoln Administration still struggles about what to do with the international mail taken at the seizure of the Peterhoff. Secretary Welles records that “Senator Sumner called this P.M. to talk over the matter of the Peterhoff mail. Says that he has been examining the case, that he fully indorses my views. Seward, he avers, knows nothing of international law and is wanting in common sense, treats grave questions lightly and without comprehending their importance and bearing.”

April 23– Thursday– Union camp outside of Vicksburg, Mississippi– General Sherman writes to Senator Sherman about Washington’s orders to reduce the number of officers as some units are brought greatly below strength by casualties. “Grant started to-day down to Carthage, and I have written to him, which may stave it off for a few days, but I tremble at the loss of so many young and good officers, who have been hard at work for two years, and now that they begin to see how to take care of soldiers, must be turned out. . . . If not too late, do, for mercy’s sake, exhaust your influence to stop this consolidation of regiments. Fill all the regiments with conscripts, and if the army is then too large disband the regiments that prefer to serve north of the Potomac and the Ohio. Keep the war South at all hazards. If this Consolidation Law is literally enforced, and no new draft is made, this campaign is over. And the outside world will have a perfect right to say our Government is afraid of its own people.”

General William Recumseh Shreman

General William Recumseh Shreman

April 23– Thursday– Paris, France– The French Foreign Minister writes to Henri Mercier, France’s Minister to the United States. He instructs Mercier to ask the United States to join in a European declaration to Russia on behalf of the Polish people. “The good relations which exist between the government of the United States and the court of Russia cannot but give greater weight to the counsels presented in a friendly form; and we rely entirely on the cabinet of Washington to appreciate the measure in which it will be able most satisfactorily to open its views to the Russian government.”

April 24– Friday– Readville, Massachusetts– Colonel Robert Gould Shaw writes to his father. “Everything continues to progress favorably with the 54th. We have now about 730 men. . . . All our ordinance has come from Washington. I expect to get it out here tomorrow. We have Enfield Rifles. The Ladies’ committee have agreed to pay an instructor for a band, so I shall have one going before long.” [The Enfield was an English-made weapon with fairly good accuracy and range. By the war’s end about 800,000 of these rifles will be in use by soldiers on both sides.]

Enfield rifle of the type issued to the 54th Massachusetts

Enfield rifle of the type issued to the 54th Massachusetts

April 24– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– The Liberator reports that “We are informed that a circle of young ladies are exerting themselves to procure a suitable flag for the Massachusetts 54th (colored) regiment. Communications for the Committee may be addressed to Miss Addie Howard, 40 Poplar street, or to Miss Mary Louise Lockley, 31 Garden street.”

Sergeant-Major Lewis Douglass, 54th Massachusetts [a son of Frederick Douglass]

Sergeant-Major Lewis Douglass, 54th Massachusetts [a son of Frederick Douglass]

April 24– Friday– Washington, D.C.– Prepared by Francis Lieber and promulgated as General Orders No 100 by President Lincoln, The Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field are issued to all Union commandeers. Article 37 of the 157 articles declares that “The United States acknowledge and protect, in hostile countries occupied by them, religion and morality; strictly private property; the persons of the inhabitants, especially those of women: and the sacredness of domestic relations. Offenses to the contrary shall be rigorously punished.” Lieber, over 60 years of age, a German immigrant, scholar and jurist, developed these articles at Lincoln’s request in order to direct proper conduct by all Union officers in areas such as the use of martial law, the limits of military jurisdiction and the treatment of prisoners, spies, deserters and non-combatants. [Other scholars will use this document, one of the first such on the modern laws of war, to develop other such codes and Lieber’s work will influence in part the Geneva Conventions of 1864, 1906 and 1929.]

Francis Lieber, legal scholar & jurist

Francis Lieber, legal scholar & jurist

This Great Continental Battle~April, 1863~the 14th to 18th

The pace of fighting picks up. Black volunteers continue to enlist while Colonel Shaw of the 54th Massachusetts makes wedding plans. General Grant’s forces are on the move to surprise General Pemberton and attack Vicksburg from the south. President Lincoln worries about the slowness of the Army of the Potomac under General Hooker and backs away from a colonization plan. Union pickets refrain from shooting at Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. Confederate General Pickett tries to woo a wife, his third. Inflation makes life difficult in Richmond. President Jeff Davis allows the youngest officers in the Confederate Army.

An elderly Jewish educator laments the indifference of many to the war. Mary Ellen McClellan co-hosts a charity event. A burly poet describes his hospital work. New Yorker George Templeton Strong worries about war with England. A reporter in Europe opines that Russia has out-maneuvered the other major European powers. Illinois suffers tornado damage.

Robert Gould Shaw~"Blue-eyed Child of Fortune"

Robert Gould Shaw~”Blue-eyed Child of Fortune”

April 14– Tuesday– Readville, Massachusetts– Robert Gould Shaw writes to his mother to express his easure that she is satisfied about his marriage to Annie Haggarity but she remains unhappy that they have opted for a small wedding at which he will not wear his uniform. “She [Annie] and I agree that it is much better to have it as quiet as possible. . . . You don’t seem to appreciate how unpleasant it is to wear a uniform in public. If I were not on duty here I shouldn’t wear one in Boston, ever. Everything, as regards the regiment, is going on swimmingly, as usual. We have 630 men, and shall probably have over 700 before the week is out. . . . We have decided to have the wedding on Saturday 2nd of May– and I think, by that time, there will be no objection to my taking a week’s vacation.”

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

April 14– Tuesday– New York City– Attorney George Templeton Strong confides his worries to his diary. “We drift fast toward war with England, but I think we shall not reach that point. The shop-keepers who own England want to do us all the harm they can and to give all possible aid and comfort to our slave-breeding and woman-flogging adversary, for England has degenerated into a trader, manufacturer, and banker . . . . It’s fearful to think that the sympathies of England– the England of Shakespeare . . . in this great continental battle of her children, are guided by mere considerations of profit and loss.”

April 14– Tuesday– New York City– Mary Ellen McClellan, wife of General George McClellan, is one of the patrons and co-hostess of the Irish Relief Ball held tonight at the Academy of Music to raise money for the poor and hungry of Ireland.

Mary Ellen McClellan seated by her husband

Mary Ellen McClellan seated by her husband

April 14– Tuesday– near Franklin Crossing, Virginia– On picket duty, Union soldier Elisha Hunt Rhodes and his squad see an interesting Confederate party watching them. “General Thomas J Jackson (Stonewall) came down to the river bank today with a party of ladies and officers. We raised our hats to the party and strange to say the ladies waved their handkerchiefs in reply. . . . We could have shot him with a revolver, but we have an agreement that neither side will fire, as it does no good, and in fact is simply murder. . . . I am very well and try to enjoy myself.”

April 14– Tuesday– Paris, France– A correspondent for the New York Times prepares an update on the situation in Poland. “Russian diplomacy has got fairly ahead of the diplomacy of the West. It has always been said that the Slavonic brain was the strongest, and that for the future the young brain of Russia was to furnish the diplomatic element of Europe. After a two months’ incubation – or, more properly, a two months’ dispute – France, England and Austria have agreed to send separate dispatches to Russia, remonstrating with that Power in favor of Poland, out each in vague terms, and each from a different starting-point. These dispatches were to arrive at St. Petersburg simultaneously, and be read to Prince Gortschakoff the same day. But Russia has completely checkmated this movement. While the three Powers were elaborating their grand, but very innocent plan of attack, Russia also was preparing to meet it. She armed Cronstadt, and called her soldiers under the flag. Then, a day or two before the arrival of the notes of remonstrance from the three Powers, she published an act of amnesty for the Polish insurgents, if they would lay down their arms, and gave a promise to accord the Poles more political liberties.” He goes on to say that there is a distinct anti-Union sentiment in several prominent French newspapers as they report on the American war.

Alexander II, Tsar of All the Russias

Alexander II, Tsar of All the Russias

April 15– Wednesday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– Rebecca Gratz, 82 year old Jewish educator and philanthropist, writes to her brother Benjamin. “I marvel at the apathy of our community– with the knowledge of Fleets of iron clad steamers preparing abroad which might enter our rivers and lay our cities in ashes no movement of defense is made. Philadelphia is as full of idle people, the streets & shops crowded & except in the exorbitant prices asked for commodities & freely given the presence of war is unheeded– except indeed in the active works of charity for the sick & wounded brought to
our hospitals. My Dear brother, I am too old to do any good, but feel deep interest in all this & pray for better times.”

April 15– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– Walt Whitman describes for his mother his hospital work. “I fancy the reason I am able to do some good in the hospitals, among the poor languishing & wounded boys, is that I am so large and well, indeed like a great wild buffalo, with much hair– many of the soldiers are from the west, and far north and they take to a man that has not the bleached shiny & shaved cut of the cities and the east. I spent three to four hours yesterday in Armory Hospital.”

Walt Whitman, 1854

Walt Whitman, 1854

April 15– Wednesday– Washington, D. C– This evening President Lincoln telegraphs General Hooker. “An hour ago I received your letter of this morning, and a few moments later your despatch of this evening. The latter gives me considerable uneasiness. The rain and mud of course were to be calculated upon. General Stoneman is not moving rapidly enough to make the expedition come to anything. He has now been out three days, two of which were unusually fair weather, and all three without hindrance from the enemy, and yet he is not twenty-five miles from where he started. To reach his point he still has sixty to go, another river to cross, and will be hindered by the enemy. By arithmetic, how many days will it take him to do it? I do not know that any better can be done, but I greatly fear it is another failure already. Write me often. I am very anxious.”

April 15– Wednesday– Fredericksburg, Virginia– Confederate General George Pickett writes to the attractive Miss Sallie Ann Corbell. “Now, my darling, may angels guide my pen and help me to write, help me to voice this longing desire of my heart and intercede for me with you for a speedy fulfillment of your promise to be my wife. As you know, it is imperative that I should remain at my post and absolutely impossible for me to come for you. So you will have to come to me. Will you, dear? Will you come? Can’t your beautiful eyes see beyond the mist of my eagerness and anxiety that in the bewilderment of my worship worshiping, as I do, one so divinely right, and feeling that my love is returned how hard it is for me to ask you to overlook old-time customs, remembering only that you are to be a soldier’s wife?” General Pickett is 38 years old and has been married twice before but his first wife died in childbirth and the second, a Native American, died of disease. Miss Corbell claims to be only 15 but is actually 20 years of age.

April 16– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– Without explanation other than “I have been moved by considerations by me deemed sufficient to withhold my authority”, President Lincoln repudiates an agreement with a Mr Bernard Kock to colonize free black people in a part of Haiti.

April 16– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– President Jeff Davis signs legislation which allows minors to hold commissions as officers in the Confederate Army. He also takes steps to prevent soldiers from being away without leave.

April 16– Thursday– Newtown, Louisiana; West Point, Virginia; Eagleville, Tennessee; Paris, Kentucky; New Berne, North Carolina– Skirmishes, probes, sniper exchanges and firefights give doctors and undertakers more work

April 17– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– The Liberator reports on a recent meeting of “colored citizens” in Philadelphia. “The hall was crowded and considerable enthusiasm was manifested.” Several leaders speak and recommend that all should endeavor to fill up the ranks of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, and when authority is granted for black people to enlist in Pennsylvania, then Philadelphia can raise her own brigade. “A colored man in the audience arose, and made a few very sensible remarks, which were received with loud applause. He stated that the colored people were a forgiving race, and although they had been deprived of their rights, yet he knew they were willing to forget all, and rally round their country’s flag at that moment when their services were most needed.”

April 17– Friday– New Carthage, Louisiana– Having successfully swept past the Confederate artillery at Vicksburg, the Union fleet under Admiral David Porter arrives here. The southward movement of Union troops and ships leads Confederate General Pemberton at Vicksburg to believe that Grant is pulling away from Vicksburg.

April 17– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– John Jones describes conditions in the city. “Pins are so scarce and costly, that it is now a pretty general practice to stoop down and pick up any found in the street. The boarding-houses are breaking up, and rooms, furnished and unfurnished, are rented out to messes. One dollar and fifty cents for beef, leaves no margin for profit, even at $100 per month, which is charged for board, and most of the boarders cannot afford to pay that price. Therefore they take rooms, and buy their own scanty food. I am inclined to think provisions would not be deficient, to an alarming extent, if they were equally distributed. Wood is no scarcer than before the war, and yet $30 per load (less than a cord) is demanded for it, and obtained.” [At this time in 1863, Confederate money continues to decline in value as the government basically has little or nothing behind the paper currency. The situation will grow worse as the war continues. In U S dollars the $100 of 1863 would equal about $1850 today.]

April 17– Friday– LaGrange, Tennessee– As another part of Grant’s plan to deceive Pemberton, 1700 Union cavalry troopers under the command of Benjamin Grierson, a Pennsylvania-born music teacher before the war, head out to raid Confederate supply lines in Mississippi and Louisiana.

April 18– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia–The Confederate Congress issues a call for privateers to harass and capture Union commercial shipping.

April 18– Saturday– near Chicago, Illinois– A tornado strikes the region and does a great deal of damage. A newspaper account describes what happened. “It first visited the town of Norman, where fences were prostrated. From there its course was plainly traced to the town of Mazno. Houses were torn from their foundations and dashed to pieces. The largest trees were torn to fragments and horses and cattle scattered through the fields. Household furniture was carried a distance of half a mile. Other evidences of the fearful strength of the storm were given near Mazon. Forty acres of timber were blown down.”

April 18– Saturday– Fayetteville, Arkansas; Sabine Pass, Texas; Hartsville, Tennessee; Harrison County, West Virginia; New Iberia, Louisiana; Shannon County, Missouri– Raids and skirmishes kill and injure more soldiers.

Interest in the Affairs of Our Own Country~ April, 1863~ the 9th to the 13th

In the South a government official complains of exploitation by European monied interests and profiteering blockade runners, a tailor laments the coming of the war and asserts his loyalty to the Confederacy and a young girl breaks up with her boy friend.

A major Northern paper gloats about the “Bread Riot” in Virginia. General Sherman plays unwilling host to a man he despises. The Army of the Potomac begins to move against the Army of Northern Virginia. Black soldiers make ready for war. In New York’s theater district women are making successful careers.

The crisis in Poland simmers but an American diplomat asserts that the United States is interested only in its own affairs. Tensions between Great Britain and the United States continue.

April 9– Thursday– Brooklyn, New York– The American Freedman’s Friend Society holds its first public meeting this evening, at Henry Ward Beecher’s church. Reverend Dr George Cheever and editor. Horace Greeley address the meeting. The declared intent of the society is to provide material aid and education to escaped slaves who are entering Union lines in significant numbers.

Horace Greeley

Horace Greeley

April 9– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– With an attitude of blaming somebody and a touch of anti-Semitism, government clerk John Jones writes: “British and French capitalists have taken a cotton loan of $15,000,000, which is now selling at a premium of four per cent. in those countries. Our government can, if it will, soon have a navy of Alabamas and Floridas. [warships built for the Confederacy by British firms] But we are in danger of being sold to the enemy by the blockade-runners in this city. High officers, civil and military, are said, perhaps maliciously, to be engaged in the unlawful trade hitherto carried on by the Jews. “

April 9– Thursday– Paris, France– The French Foreign Minister Edouard de l’Huys advises the American Minister William Dayton that France, in conjunction with Great Britain and Austria, are about to express their concerns about the rebellion in Poland and encourage moderation by Russia. Dayton replies that the Polish situation is strictly a European affair and while the Lincoln Administration may have “a general interest . . . it is wholly subordinate to our interest in the affairs of our own country and continent.”

William Dayton

William Dayton

April 10– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– The Liberator reports that a committee appointed by Governor Andrew to assist in recruiting men to serve in the 54th Regiment now in training at Readville “desire to state to the public that they are greatly in need of funds to facilitate the object of their appointment . Owing to the sparseness of the colored population in Massachusetts, men were sought at distant points, whose transportation and subsistence are defrayed by the Committee. Not unfrequently recruits are rejected by the surgeon, and the expense of their return home is likewise borne by the Committee.” [According to the 1860 Census the total black population of Massachusetts was 9,602 while the state’s white male population between the ages of 18 and 45 alone was 258,419.]

April 10– Friday– New York City– The New York Times reports in a self-satisfied manner about the “Bread Riot” in Virginia, writing that the paper was “just informed . . . that on last Wednesday the women of Petersburg [25 miles south of Richmond where the event actually happened], soldiers’ wives and others, rose en masse, and visiting the stores of the mercenary speculators who have been enriching themselves by holding all necessities of life at an enormous prices, helped themselves forcibly to what they wanted, pitching out goods to the poor and needy as they went.”

April 10– Friday– Richmond, Virginia–President Davis calls upon farmers in the Confederacy to reduce the amount of cotton and tobacco which they grow and instead plant more oats and vegetables.

April 10– Friday– Carroll County, Tennessee– Williamson Younger, a tailor, confides his true feelings to the pages of his diary. “I believe this wicked war an uncalled for calamity. It might have been avoided had it not been for mean men North and South. I thought we of the South should have waited, and if we were not interrupted in our sovereign rights as States by Mr. Lincoln and the party in power, then of course no cause for rebelling. If we had been, I think there would have been a sufficient party in the United States to have put down any such encroachment on states rights. I believe the North has aggravated the South by her liberty bills [laws proposed or actually passed in several Northern states which protected escaped slaves and after the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 forbade state officials from aiding in the return of fugitives to the South] and insults in the Federal congress to do what she has done. I have never been able to see sufficient grounds for secession and war. Both were brought on without my aid or voice at the ballot box. Now that both are upon us, my sympathies are entirely with my country and my people.”

April 10– Friday– Union camp outside of Vicksburg, Mississippi– General William Tecumseh Sherman writes to his brother Senator John Sherman. The General has been playing unwilling host to Charles A Dana. Dana, age 43 and a well-known journalist and author, is now an Assistant Secretary of War reporting directly to Edwin Stanton. General Sherman despises all journalists and has made no secret of his dislike but under orders from General Grant to be nice to Mr Dana, Sherman is the soul of courtesy and cooperation. “Mr. Dana is here. He spent a few hours with me yesterday, and I went over with him many of the events of the past year, with the maps and records with which I am well supplied. Indeed, all look to me for maps and facts. Dana remarked to one of Grant’s staff incidentally, that he was better pleased with me than he could possibly have expected. In the two days he has been here he has seen an illustration of the truth of my proposition, which has drawn on me such volumes of abuse.” [Mr Dana will submit glowing reports to Secretary of War Stanton about both General Grant and General Sherman.]

Charles A Dana, author, journalist & government official

Charles A Dana, author, journalist & government official

April 11– Friday– New York City– The New York Times reviews a performance at Laura Keene’s theater by Rose Eytinge. Ms Keene, British-born, age 36, owns, manages and schedules productions in the theater which bears her name and was built by and for her. She often assigns leading roles to herself. Ms Eytinge, age27, Philadelphia-born, caused a stir last year by divorcing her husband, David Barnes, after seven years of marriage. “Miss Eytinge infused into it [her role] a quiet, graceful and earnest interest that gave abundant evidence of her delicate and unusual powers. The lady’s freedom from affectation of speech and exaggeration of action, without detracting from the force that is required, are so marked that we are sure in a higher range of play . . . she will win and merit a career before a metropolitan audience.”

Rose Eytinge

Rose Eytinge

April 11– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– Navy Secretary Welles describes a new crisis. “Seward is in great trouble about the mail of the Peterhoff, a captured blockade-runner. Wants the mail given up. Says the instructions which he prepared insured the inviolability and security of the mails.”

April 11– Saturday– Williamsburg, Virginia; Pattersonville, Louisiana; Saulsbury, Tennessee; Courtney’s Plantation, Mississippi; Webber’s Falls, Indian Territory [Oklahoma]; Squirrel Creek Crossing, Colorado Territory– Skirmishing and fire-fights add to casualty figures.

Confederate charge

Confederate charge

April 11– Saturday– St Helena Island, South Carolina– Charlotte Forten Grimke records a wonderful day. “Had a perfect ride to-day with Colonel Higginson and Dr Rogers. . . . The Colonel has been reading me (a magnificent reader he is) some of the ballads of the old Cavaliers. How grand, how stirring they bare. And how Robert Browning is too. Afterward the Doctor read me a little of the Faerie Queene.”

Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Thomas Wentworth Higginson

April 12– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– Secretary Welles relates, “Went to the Executive Mansion. Read the dispatches to and full conversation with the President. Sumner came in and participated.”

April 12– Sunday– Mill Creek, Tennessee– Young Mary Pearre makes note of a visit from a young man named Bob. “After a while we got upon another subject in which he paid me some compliments. I have forgotten what. At which I pretended to be angry and retorted with, ‘I don’t thank you sir. I will not stand being confounded and flattered all together.’ He jestingly reached his pistol towards me saying, ‘here, take this and blow my brains out if you wish’—I coldly extended my hand to take it. He drew it back saying, ‘I don’t like the expression of your eyes. I believe you would as lief shot as not.’ I told him yes, just for the sake of a new sensation, etc. Yet after all his confidence and our long-long head and heart confabulations, we are scarcely friends. I told him so tonight & that our intimacy was a mere pretense and pastime. He vowed I was the meanest girl he ever saw.”

April 12– Sunday– on the Amite River, Louisiana– Intense fire fight takes place.

April 13– Monday– Washington, D.C.–The British Minister, Lord Lyons, advises Her Majesty’s Government that some in the Lincoln government favor war with Britain over the issue of British equipping of Confederate ships.

April 13– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Navy Secretary Welles mentions the British Minister. “Lord Lyons now writes very adroitly that the seizure of the Peterhoff mails was in violation of the order of our Government . . . . He makes no claim for surrender by right, or usage, or the law of nations, but it was by order of our Government to the Secretary of the Navy. No such order was ever given.”

April 13– Monday– Cincinnati, Ohio–General Burnside orders the deportation to the Confederacy of any person who criticizes the Union war effort or publicly expresses sympathy for the South.

April 13– Monday– Falmouth, Virginia– Union General George Stoneman takes 10,000 cavalrymen westward, intending to eventually turn southeast and cut Confederate General Lee’s supply lines.

George Stoneman

George Stoneman

April 13– Monday– Liverpool, England– The steamer Southerner has arrived with about 3,000 bales of cotton, having run the Union blockade via Nassau.

Ladies Seem to Be More Alive to the Situation~April, 1863~the 4th to the 8th

In Richmond, some of the women involved in the “Bread Riot” are arrested. A rebel mother misses her sons. Two young women are arrested by the Federals as rebel spies. A Tennessee woman, unwilling hostess to a Union officer billeted in her home, speaks her mind. Women are nursing the sick and injured in hospitals. Charlotte Forten Grimke collects the stories of escaped slaves and receives an important gift. A novel by an English woman makes the best seller list. New England women express more interest in the war than their men.

American women of the 1860s

American women of the 1860s

More and more sporadic fighting, mostly in the South, takes an increasing toll. In Charleston, seat of the rebellion, Confederate forces repel an attack by the Union Navy. Hundreds of fugitive slaves– “contrabands”– are willing to enlist in the Federal forces. The abolitionist editor William Lloyd Garrison wants Massachusetts to take a stand on emancipation.

The British government takes steps adverse to the Confederacy. A Quaker member of the British Parliament expresses support for the Union cause. Navy Secretary Welles remains very hostile to John Bull. Journalists think that the revolt in Poland is mostly over. All over the world life goes on.

April 4– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– John Jones again comments about the food riot. “It is the belief of some that the riot was a premeditated affair, stimulated from the North, and executed through the instrumentality of emissaries. Some of the women, and others, have been arrested.”

April 4– Saturday– Memphis, Tennessee– Adjutant General L Thomas reports to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton about enlisting black soldiers. “I arrived here last night, and explained this morning to General Hurlbut the policy of the Administration respecting the contraband. He says his corps will give it their support, especially those regiments which have been in battle. He desires 600 as artillerists, to man the heavy guns in position, which he says can readily be raised from the contraband within his lines.”

Black soldiers using artillery

Black soldiers using artillery

April 4– Saturday– Kassel, Germany– Ludwig Emil Grimm, painter, illustrator and engraver, dies at age 73. The younger brother of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, he illustrated many of their fables.

April 5– Sunday– New York City– The New York Times publishes a letter received from Mr John Bright. Bright, a Quaker, age 51, is a Liberal Party member of the British Parliament, representing the city of Birmingham, and is well known as a reformer and enemy of slavery and the slave trade. “In every town great meetings are held to discuss the American question, and invariably resolutions are almost unanimously agreed to in favor of the North and Union, and the abolition of Slavery. I hope we may soon have tidings of the progress of your Government in recovering the revolted States, and see some prospect of the great contest coming to a close. The divisions in the North create uneasiness here, as being calculated to weaken the President and to give fresh hope to the South. I hope with you they appear less formidable than to us, who look upon them from a distance.”

John Bright, Quaker Member of  Parliament

John Bright, Quaker Member of Parliament

April 5– Sunday– New York City– Under the headline “Literary Gossip” the New York Times reports that “Every one in England is now anxious to learn something about Miss Braddon, the authoress of the two most successful books of the season, Lady Audley’s Secret and Aurora Floyd. The reception these have met with from the public has placed her at once on the topmost pinnacle of literary popularity – that elevated position, indeed, where a writer can make his own terms with hispublisher.” What is not generally known is that Mary Elizabeth Braddon, 27 years old, has for almost two years been cohabitating with publisher John Maxwell whose wife is in an asylum. She is raising his five children. Her best-selling novel Lady Audley’s Secret deals with gender and class in a style that is rather risque by the standards of the period.

Mary Braddon

Mary Braddon

April 5– Sunday– St Helena Island, South Carolina– After church services, Charlotte Forten Grimke has an interesting conversation with an elderly former slave named Don Carlos. “He . . . gave us some interesting reminiscences of the Denmark Vesey Insurrection. “ [Vessey had conspired with many others in Charleston, South Carolina to carry out a large slave revolt in July, 1822 but he was betrayed by an informer, arrested and executed. Many totally uninvolved slaves were also executed, punished or sold away to the Deep South.]

April 5– Sunday– Falmouth, Virginia–President Lincoln meets with General Hooker to discuss strategy in this theater of operations.

April 5– Sunday– Nashville, Tennessee– Will Wallace, working in a Union hospital, writes to his friend Walt Whitman, whom he addresses as “the Prince of Bohemians.” In his letter, he says, “When I came to this Hospital they had no clothes to change one fourth of the patients. I immediately appealed to my lady friends and patriots in Philadelphia, and they have sent me on a fine lot of sanitary stores, yet not enough for the wants of the many admitted. Our Hospital is a large five story building and accommodates between 300 & 400 patients, most of whom are wounded in the continual skirmishing about Murfreesboro and Franklin. I have never had better health in my life, perhaps I can explain it to you. I have five young ladies who act in the capacity of nurses; i e, one of them is French, young and beautiful to set your eyes upon. Can you not visit us and note for yourself?”

April 6– Monday– Boston, Massachusetts– William Lloyd Garrison sends a letter to Governor John Andrew, expressing regret that though the state legislature has been in session since early January, it has not yet acted in support of the President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. “What should have been done early had better be done late, than not done at all. As the Legislature will very shortly adjourn, there is no time to be lost. Massachusetts ought to put upon the historic page her most emphatic approval of his course.”

William Lloyd Garrison, editor of the Liberator

William Lloyd Garrison, editor of the Liberator

April 6– Monday– New York City– Birth of Catherine (“Kate”) Everit Macy Ladd. Born into a wealthy Quaker family and later marrying a well-to-do lawyer, she will become an important philanthropist, giving away over $19,000,000 in her lifetime and more than $10,000,000 through her estate when she dies in 1945.

April 6– Monday– Columbia, Tennessee– Catherine Cooper writes to her sons, James and Thomas, who are serving in the Confederate infantry. “Be assured I will be a mother to your wives and children in your absence. . . . My dear sons write as often as you can to your old mother and try to cheer my lonely pathway while I am left at home none of my children to sit my by hearth, or enliven my disquietude.”

April 6– Monday– New Carthage, Louisiana; Purgitsville, West Virginia; Town Creek, Alabama; Nixton, North Carolina; Burlington, West Virginia; Green Hill, Tennessee– Skirmishing and fire-fights take place.

soldiers at rest

soldiers at rest

April 6– Monday– Liverpool, England– The government seizes the Alexandria which was being outfitted in this harbor in the Laird Brothers’ shipyard for the Confederate Navy. Her Majesty’s Government asserts that such construction violates the British policy of neutrality.

April 7– Tuesday– New York City– The New York Times updates its readers about events in Poland. “The London Times considers the struggle virtually at an end, but the allied Powers are justified in requiring that Poland shall have all that was guaranteed to her by the Treaty of Vienna [1815]; a wise and generous policy would grant her much more. . . . The Paris correspondent of the Daily News says it was rumored that, besides an amnesty, the Czar has telegraphed to the Emperor Napoleon that he will give Poland her autonomy and a liberal constitution.”

April 7– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Secretary Gideon Welles again confides anti-British sentiments to the pages of his diary. “John Bull must understand that whilst we deprecate war, we don’t fear him and shall not passively submit to outrage and aggression. A loan of fifteen million dollars has recently been made to the Rebels by English capitalists, which would never have been consummated had the English officials disapproved. With these means, which the Englishmen will ultimately lose, the Rebels can purchase vessels, ordnance, munitions, and prolong the war.”

April 7– Tuesday– Falmouth, Virginia– Elisha Hunt Rhodes returns to duty. “Back to my Army duties after a delightful visit to my home in Rhode Island. Homesickness cured for the present but another attack expected. . . . While at home I was surprised to find so little interest manifested in the war. The people seemed to take it as a matter of course, and hardly asked after the Army. The ladies seem to be more alive to the situation, and I hope their example will spur up the men to do all in their power to aid the Armies in crushing the Rebellion.”

April 7– Tuesday– Charleston, South Carolina–A fleet of nine Union ironclads sails into the harbor and attacks Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter. Fort Sumter is visibly damaged but the Confederate batteries from the shore heavily damage the Union ironclads, forcing them to withdraw.

attack on Charleston harbor

attack on Charleston harbor

April 7– Tuesday– Nashville, Tennessee– Federal authorities arrest Miss Fannie Battle and Miss Harriet Booker, two young rebel women, on charges of spying. Next week they will be sent north to Camp Chase, a prisoner of war camp in Columbus, Ohio, to stand trial.

April 8– Wednesday– St Helena Island, South Carolina– Charlotte Forten Grimke receives a gift from Mr Edward Pierce, a Boston lawyer and abolitionist working with the escaped slaves. “He gave me a beautiful, pearl handled knife which once belonged to Charles Sumner. How I shall treasure it. He is very good to give me anything so precious. I am unspeakably obliged to him.”

Charlotte Forten Grimke

Charlotte Forten Grimke

April 8– Wednesday– Memphis, Tennessee– Union officer Frank Guernsey writes to his wife, Fannie, describing the house where he stays. “I am boarding with a family by the name of Smith who live near our camp. They are very fine people but like all other southerners are more or less tinctured with secessionism. Mrs. Smith is a very talkative woman and a regular rebel. I have lots of fun with her. She is so plain and candid that it is hard to take offence at any thing she says. She appears to be very sincere in her belief that the Rebels are right and that we are wrong.”

proud Confederate women

proud Confederate women

April 8– Wednesday– James’ Plantation, Mississippi; Winchester, Virginia; St Francis County, Arkansas– Skirmishes, ambushes and fire fights add to the casualty lists.

A Few Thousand Determined Armed Men~April, 1863~the 1st to the 3rd

As the spring comes, bloodshed increases. Events of this month will lead to key campaigns of the year and an eventual turning point of the war. Turmoil continues in Mexico and in Poland. Thousands of African Americans, encouraged by people such as Frederick Douglass, enlist in the Union Army while many, but not all, white commanders readily receive them. The 54th Massachusetts makes ready to fight its way to glory while its young white colonel prepares to marry before marching off to battle. President Lincoln strengthens economic sanctions against the Confederacy while his Secretary of the Navy remains virulently anti-British. Conditions in Richmond, the Confederate capital, cause hungry women to break into food supplies. Soldiers and civilians think about things other than the war. And around the world life goes on.

1863:

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

April– Rochester, New York– In this issue of Douglass’ Monthly, Frederick Douglass continues to exhort black men to enlist in the Union Army. “He who looks upon a conflict between right and wrong, and does not help the right against the wrong, despises and insults his own nature, and invites the contempt of mankind. . . . Should you refuse to enlist now, you will justify the past contempt of the Government towards you and lead it to regret having honored you with a call to take up arms in its defense.”

April 1– Wednesday– Readville, Massachusetts– From the training camp of the 54th Massachusetts, Robert Gould Shaw writes to his mother about his wedding plans. “You must excuse me for saying, I didn’t think your arguments very powerful. If I thought that being married were going to make me neglect my duty, I should think it much better never to have been engaged. . . . Indeed, one reason for my wishing to be married is that we are going to undertake a very dangerous piece of work, and I feel that there are more chances than ever of my not getting back. I know I should go away more happy and contented if we were married. I showed Annie your letter and she wants to show it to Aunt Anna; to which I suppose you have no objection.”

April 1– Wednesday– Falmouth, Virginia– Union Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain writes to his wife, Fannie. “We shall undoubtedly remain here for a considerable time yet. We are all anxious to have you come back and very sorry you went away. Now the only trouble will be to get a pass. Perhaps the old one will do. Find out through Mrs Harris. Take the old one, erase the other names and see if Colonel Conrad will not renew it. ‘Sick Husband’ being just occasion of visits to the army of the Potomac. Try if you have time to prolong your visit here a little. The sooner the better.”

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin

April 1– Wednesday– Chalk Bluff, Arkansas; Carroll County, Missouri; Columbia Pike, Tennessee; Loudon County, Virginia; Rodman’s Point, North Carolina; Clarendon, Arkansas– The emergent spring weather brings varying degrees of blood-letting through fire-fights and skirmishes in a number of places.

Depiction of a Civil War attack

Depiction of a Civil War attack

April 1– Wednesday– Mexico City, Mexico– An American observer writes about the conflict with the French. “The French are doing their best in attacking Puebla, and have been bombarding, cannonading and assaulting, but, so far, without success. On the contrary, the Mexicans have shown themselves the best soldiers and have carried off all the glory. I believe the Mexicans will triumph there.”

April 1– Wednesday– Cape Town, South Africa–The Cape Town and Green Point Tramway Company commences operations with the first horse-drawn trams in the city.

April 2– Thursday– Brooklyn, New York– Jeff Whitman writes to his bother in Washington. “Walt do you ever have a chance to get hold of any of the scientific reports that Uncle Sam prints. Would it be possible for you to obtain a copy of the Pacific R. R. Exploration &c Reports. I should like much to get hold of anything in that line, and would be much obliged to you if you could get them for me. I find them of great use in giving me ideas about my business and they are too cursed costly to buy Look around you and if you catch anything send it along will you.”

President Lincoln

President Lincoln

April 2– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln tightens trade sanctions against the Confederacy as he declares “that the inhabitants of the States of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Florida, and Virginia (except the forty-eight counties of Virginia designated as West Virginia, and except also the ports of New Orleans, Key West, Port Royal, and Beaufort, in North Carolina) are in a state of insurrection against the United States, and that all commercial intercourse . . . between the said States and the inhabitants thereof, . . . and the citizens of other States and other parts of the United States is unlawful and will remain unlawful until such insurrection shall cease or has been suppressed and notice thereof has been duly given by proclamation; and all cotton, tobacco, and other products, and all other goods and chattels, wares and merchandise, coming from any of said States . . . into other parts of the United States, or proceeding to any of said States, . . . without the license and permission of the President, through the Secretary of the Treasury, will, together with the vessel or vehicle conveying the same, be forfeited to the United States.”

April 2– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles notes the day’s activities. “Had a call last evening and again to-day from Senator Sumner. Our conversation was chiefly on our foreign relations, the unfortunate condition of public affairs, the inexcusable attitude of England.”

Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy

Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy

April 2– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia–A mob of civilians, mostly women and girls, demands bread from a supply wagon. The crowd loots military supplies and groceries from a number of shops. President Jeff Davis begs the crowd to disperse and asserts that shortages are due to the Yankee blockade rather than the Confederate government. Police and soldiers eventually restore calm.

April 2– Thursday– Paris, Kentucky– George Whitman writes home to his mother. “I suppose you will be quite surprised to see that we are away down here in old Kaintuck [sic], We are now about 70 miles from Cincinnati Ohio. I like the country about here first rate and think likely we will have a good time. I believe there is no large force of Rebs, in this State, but they say, there is a good many small bands of Guerrillas, that scive [sic] around and do considerable mischief. We had a pretty long ride in the cars, having come by Rail all the way from Baltimore but it was not quite as bad as marching, although I got pretty well tired of it.”

April 2– Thursday– Hill’s Point, North Carolina; Little Rock Road, Arkansas; Snow Hill, Tennessee; Jackson, County, Missouri– Skirmishing, sniping and bullet-filled exchanges occur. One by one body counts rise.

Civil War canon and its crew

Civil War canon and its crew

April 2– Thursday– St Helena Island, South Carolina– Charlotte Forten Grimke updates her diary. “Drearily, drearily the days drag on. Can do nothing but knit, and that grows wearisome. Have discovered a music box that was taken from a ‘Secesh’ house in Beaufort– a remarkably fine one. Only wants a little cleaning to be perfect. The tone is exquisite. The airs . . . recall home.”

April 3– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– The Liberator updates readers on the new regiment. “There are now four full companies in the colored regiment, at Readville. The men are improving rapidly in drill, and the officers are confident that it will be an excellent regiment. About fifty soldiers, recruited in Albany and Western New York, arrived in Boston on Friday of last week, en route for the camp of the 54th (colored) regiment at Readville. They were recruited by Frederick Douglass by whom they were accompanied.” The paper also reports that two young black men, free-born, who were personal servants to Union officers, were captured and sold into slavery in Texas.

April 3– Friday– Readville, Massachusetts– Robert Gould Shaw writes to his father. “As regards our being married, Mr and Mrs Haggerty seem as much opposed to it as Mother.. . . I can’t help feeling that if we are not married before I go, I shall feel very much dissatisfied and discontented. For the sake of Annie’s and my own peace of mind, I want it.”

April 3– Friday– Reading, Pennsylvania– A crowd protests the arrest of four men accused of being rebel sympathizers.

April 3– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– Clerk John Jones comments on the events of yesterday. “No account of yesterday’s riot appeared in the papers to-day, for obvious reasons. The mob visited most of the shops, and the pillage was pretty extensive. Crowds of women, Marylanders and foreigners, were standing at the street corners to-day, still demanding food; which, it is said, the government promised to them. About midday the City Battalion was marched down Main Street to disperse the crowd.”

 

artillery and cavalry ready to move

artillery and cavalry ready to move

April 3– Friday– Palmyra, Tennessee— Union forces destroy the town.

April 3– Friday– Union camp outside of Vicksburg, Mississippi– General William Tecumseh Sherman summarizes the nature of the war in a letter to his brother, Senator John Sherman. “People must learn that war is a question of physical force and courage. A million of men engaged in peaceful pursuits will be vanquished by a few thousand determined armed men. The justice of the cause has nothing to do with it. It is a question of force. Again we are the assailants, and have to overcome not only an equal number of determined men, however wrongfully engaged, but the natural obstacles of a most difficult country.”