The New Year, 1863 Turns Into 1864

The New Year, 1863 Turns Into 1864

North and South, people hope for peace and the success of their side. Many Northerners are more optimistic than last year. Many Southerners worry about scarcity and extremely inflated prices. Extremely cold weather dominates much of the nation, thus preventing fighting but hard on soldiers and their animals. The world continues to move on.

December 31, 1864– Thursday– New York City– “1863 A.D. is now in extremis. It has proved a far better year for the country than it promised at its birth. . . . . But only a very bold man can prophesy for a whole year ahead in these times.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

December 31– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “The year closes more satisfactorily than it commenced. . . . The War has been waged with success, although there have been in some instances errors and misfortunes. But the heart of the nation is sounder and its hopes brighter. The national faith was always strong, and grows firmer. The Rebels show discontent, distrust, and feebleness. They evidently begin to despair, and the loud declarations that they do not and will not yield confirm it. The President has well maintained his position, and under trying circumstances acquitted himself in a manner that will be better appreciated in the future than now.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

Lincoln seated in the White House, 1863

Lincoln seated in the White House, 1863

December 31– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln meets with Count Carl Edward Vilhelm Piper, minister from the kingdom of Sweden to the United States. On behalf of King Charles XV, Count Piper presents Lincoln with a “volume containing engravings of the Royal collection of arms.” President Lincoln gives to the Count for His Majesty, “a pair of pistols, of American workmanship.” The President and the Count express “mutual good wishes . . . for the continuance of the cordial relations now existing between the two Governments.” [Sweden, along with other European powers, has refrained from recognizing the Confederacy.]

December 31– Thursday– Camp Sedgwick, Virginia– “The year is ended. Good bye 1863 and may God grant that success attend our labors for our country in the year so soon to open.” ~ Diary of Union officer Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

December 31– Thursday– Bolivar, Tennessee– “I declare I have been so busy learning housekeeping [these last three months] that I forgot [my] Journal, music and everything. Nannie was sick and Eliza [a slave] had engaged to work out so I agreed to cook and make up my bed. I cooked breakfast, dinner and supper and ironed my dress. I gave my biscuits five hundred and one licks. Kate took supper once. We both can cook right well and I can make a bed up very decently and upon the whole I expect I would make quite a nice housekeeper.” ~ Diary of Sally Wendel Fentress

December 31– Thursday– New Orleans, Louisiana– “The last of eighteen sixty-three is passing away as I write. . . . Every New Year since I was in my teens, I have sought a quiet spot where I could whisper to myself Tennyson’s ‘Death of the Old Year,’ and even this bitter cold night I steal into my freezing, fireless little room, en robe de nuit, to keep up my old habit while the others sleep. . . . . Go and welcome! Bring Peace and brighter days, O dawning New Year. Die, faster and faster, Old One; I count your remaining moments with almost savage glee.” ~ Diary of Sarah Morgan Dawson.

January 1, 1865– Friday– New York City– “By these presents I wish a Happy New Year to all mankind, except Jefferson Davis and his group. To them, I wish virtue enough to withstand urgent daily temptations to hang themselves.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

January 1– Friday– Hoboken, New Jersey– Birth of Alfred Stieglitz [dies July 13, 1946], art gallery proprietor, photographer and arts patron. He is the first of six children born to Edward and Hedwig Werner Stieglitz. His father is a German immigrant who has served in the Union Army. [Alfred Stieglitz will be a prophetic figure in his advocacy for avant-garde and experimental art, especially the work of Georgia O’Keeffe, present the first exhibitions in the United States of Matisse, Cezanne and Picasso, and serve as an inspiration to writers such as Lewis Mumford and Sherwood Anderson.]

Alfred Stieglitz, 1902

Alfred Stieglitz, 1902

January 1– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “A bright day ushers in the year. Yesterday’s northeast storm has disappeared, and the clouds fell to the earth in heavy rain last night. Went with my family to the Executive Mansion at 11 A.M. to pay our respects to the President. Foreign ministers and attaches were there. Navy and Army officers came in at half past eleven. The house was full when we left, a little before twelve. Received at house until 4 p.m. Had official and friendly calls from Navy and Army officers, judges, foreign ministers, etc., etc., with such old friends of my own State as were in Washington, and not a few comparative strangers, who expressed warm personal and official regard.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

January 1– Friday– St Paul, Minnesota– At daybreak the temperature is 35 degrees below zero.

January 1– Friday– Hardy County, West Virginia– “Encamped about 12 o’clock at night about 3 miles south of Moorefield. Marching very bad on account of ice, and cold weather.” ~ Diary of Confederate soldier Robert P Bryarly.

January 1– Friday– Brandy Station, Virginia– “The new year opens without any important events. The troops are in comfortable quarters, built of logs and covered with canvas. Drill takes place daily and an occasional review breaks up the monotony of our camp life. The men are still re-enlisting for the remainder of the war and I hope to be sent home soon on my leave of absence.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

January 1– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “A bright windy day, and not cold. The President has a reception to-day, and the City Councils have voted the hospitalities of the city to General [John Hunt] Morgan, whose arrival is expected. If he comes, he will be the hero, and will have a larger crowd of admirers around him than the President. . . . . Flour is now held at $150 per barrel. Capt. Warner has just sold me two bushels of meal at $5 per bushel; the price in market is $16 per bushel. I did not go to any of the receptions to-day; but remained at home, transplanting lettuce-plants, which have so far withstood the frost, and a couple of fig-bushes I bought yesterday. I am also breaking up some warm beds, for early vegetables, and spreading manure over my little garden: preparing for the siege and famine looked for in May and June, when the enemy encompasses the city. I bought some tripe and liver in the market at the low price of $1 per pound. ~ Diary of John Jones. [The $150 barrel of flour would equal a price of $2,260 in today’s dollars, using the Consumer Price Index, and based on United States money. Confederate money, in substantial decline as 1864 begins, would require an additional multiplier of at least 5.]

January 1– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “The cases of George, a slave of Thomas Garland, charged with aiding Mary, a slave belonging to Dr. F. W. Hancock, to escape from the city, and Peter Williams, a slave, accused of stealing one pair of boots and half a side of sole leather from J. F. Dabney, were severally continued [i.e., postponed to a later date].” ~ Richmond Sentinel

January 1– Friday– Memphis, Tennessee– A large cold air mass sweeping out of Canada into much of the United States has brought frigid temperatures this far south. On almost all fronts, no military action occurs.

January 1– Friday– Chattanooga, Tennessee–Mary Ann Bickerdyke (1817– 1901)and Eliza Porter (1807– 1888) establish a field hospital. These two women will serve together for the next nine months, following Union General Sherman’s forces into Georgia and taking care of Yankee and rebel wounded and sick. [Soldiers call Mrs Bickerdyke “Mother” and she calls her petite friend Mrs Porter “little brown bird” because of her auburn hair.]

Mother Bickerdyke, c.1890s

Mother Bickerdyke, c.1890s

January 1– Friday– Shelby County, Tennessee– “Tis New Year, a happy one to our household. Lieutenants Spotswood and Eddie came last night. Poor Eddie is greatly in need of clothes. . . . It is very cold, all nature is robed in Ice. Notwithstanding the Yanks are such near neighbors, we have had a house full of Rebels all day, four of Henderson’s Scouts– Lieutenants S. Eddie, Jim & Elb Jeters. Nannie and I went in the buggy over to the smuggler’s, Joe White, to see if we could not get some things there for Eddie, failed, brought Lute some soap– almost froze to death– got home at dark, all just finishing dinner, had a splendid time tonight. Our Armies all seem to be Status Quo. God grant successful may be the termination of 1864– oh! my savior I have buried the past-guide and lead me from temptation. After you, my God, then I live for my Country– God bless our leaders in Dixie.” ~ Diary of Belle Edmondson.

January 1– Friday– Covington, Georgia “A new year is ushered in, but peace comes not with it. Scarcely a family but has given some of its members to the bloody war that is still decimating our nation. Oh, that its ravages may soon be stopped! Will another year find us among carnage and bloodshed? Shall we be a nation or shall we be annihilated? . . . The prices of everything are very high. Corn seven dollars a bushel, calico ten dollars a yard, salt, sixty dollars a hundred, cotton from sixty to eighty cents a pound, everything in like ratio.” ~ Journal of Dolly Sumner Lunt

New Year's Day 1864

New Year’s Day 1864

January 1– Friday– Liberty, Texas– “Reached Liberty, frozen stiff. Yesterday it was so cold we could not travel. Horses, saddles, blankets, clothes all frozen stiff. One man frozen to death. Today the ice on the prairie held the weight of the horses, causing them to slide and fall, injuring them severely. Forded Trinity River above town, saddle seat deep. Rained all day and night.” ~ Diary of Confederate soldier H N Connor.

January1– Friday– Brisbane, Queensland, Australia– The Queensland Police Force begins operations with 143 employees.

 

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