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.


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.”

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