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.

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