More Dangerous In Its Recoil~February 1864~19th to 22nd

More Dangerous in its Recoil ~ Gideon Welles

Politics get sticky! A secret memorandum becomes public, revealing that within the Republican Party there are those plotting against the President. The election year promises to be hard and bitter. Northen Democrats, Southern rebels and even some within Lincoln’s own party are seeking his defeat and replacement.


The fighting grows more atrocious. Confederate need increases. In Canada a former slave who did well dies at an advanced age. In Europe it seems like most of the nobility have ties by blood or marriage to the British royal family. A middle-aged painter makes an unwise choice. The world continues to turn.

February 19– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “As I went into the Cabinet-meeting a fair, plump lady pressed forward and insisted she must see the President, ‘only for a moment,’ wanted nothing. I made her request known to the President, who directed that she should be admitted. She said her name was Holmes, that she belonged in Dubuque, Iowa, was passing East and came from Baltimore expressly to have a look at President Lincoln. ‘Well, in the matter of looking at one another,’ said the President, laughing, ‘I have altogether the advantage.’ She wished his autograph, and was a special admirer and enthusiastic.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

February 19– Friday– Washington, D.C.– Justus H Rathbone (1839– 1889) establishes the fraternal service organization the Knights of Pythias.

Justus Rathbone

Justus Rathbone

February 20– Saturday– Greeneville, Tennessee– “This is Saturday evening and I feel very lonesome. Oh, how anxious I am to hear from you and to hear how you are getting along. I have written to you since I got back but have not had time for an answer yet. . . . Everything is still here now, no fighting and no prospect of it soon. I have a good tent and chimney and can keep warm. Oh, but it is not like lying with my arms around you, the dearest of the dear.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier W R Stilwell to his wife Molly.

February 20– Saturday– Olustee, Florida– In a hard-fought battle which lasts from early afternoon until dusk, Confederate forces defeat a Federal force which consists of three black and six white regiments. As the Federals retreat, Confederates shoot or club to death about 50 wounded black soldiers. Two black units– the 54th Massachusetts and the 8th U S Colored Troops– fight a rear-guard action, thereby preventing Confederate cavalry from cutting off the Federal withdrawal into Jacksonville. Total Union casualties– killed, wounded and missing– come to1861; total Confederate casualties amount to 946.

Olustee battle

Olustee battle

February 20– Saturday– Andersonville, Georgia– Confederate Captain Richard B Winder urgently requests beef and other rations as the arrival of the first Federal prisoners is set for the following week.

February 20–Saturday– Meridian, Mississippi–Federal troops complete six days of destroying buildings, supplies and railroad equipment, including 20 locomotives and about 115 miles of track in the area.

February 20– Saturday– Knoxville, Tennessee; Strawberry Plains, Tennessee; West Point, Mississippi; Upperville, Virginia; Front Royal, Virginia; Hurricane Bridge, West Virginia; Pease Creek, Florida– Skirmishes, fire fights and melees.

February 20– Saturday– Anapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, Canada– Rose Fortune, a black entrepreneur, dies, three weeks away from her 90th birthday. Born a slave in Virginia, she and her family, who were loyal to the British, left for Canada with the last British troops in 1784. As a young woman she established her own successful carting business, hauling to and from the waterfront. By tradition, she served as Canada’s first female police officer, patrolling the wharves to maintain the peace.

Rose Fortune

Rose Fortune

February 20– Saturday– London, England– Painter George Frederic Watts marries his 16-year-old model, the actress Ellen Terry, 30 years his junior. [She will run off with another man less than a year from now.]

February 21– Sunday– New York City– The New York Times picks up a piece from a London newspaper which takes note of the royal complexities of the war between Denmark and Germany. “Without prejudging the question how far the action of our Government with reference to foreign States is, or can be, influenced by the family ties of the sovereign, we may point out some of those connections, some of which are less known than others. The Prince of Wales . . . is married to the daughter of the King of Denmark, one of the parties to this German contest. His eldest sister, the Princess Royal, is married to the Prince Royal of Prussia, one of the parties opposed to the King of Denmark. His second sister, the Princess Alice, is married to the Prince Louis of Hesse-Darmstadt, whose mother is a Princes of Prussia, and whose brother is an officer in the Prussian army. These are direct relationships; but there are others scarcely less so with which the public are not so well acquainted. Prince Frederick of Augustenburg . . . is a very close connection of our royal family, and is much better known to the court than to the people of these realms. . . . The half sister of the Queen, the Princess Anne Feodorovna of Leiningen, married in 1828 Ernest Prince of Hohenlohe Langenburg. He died in 1860, leaving a widow and five children, the latter nephews and nieces of the Queen. . . . . Princess Adelaide Victoria of Hohenlohe (born 1835,) married Frederick Christian Augustus, . . . the Pretender to the sovereignty of the imaginary State of Schleswig Holstein, who is by his marriage the Queen’s nephew. Besides these relationships of our royal family with the contending parties there are others less immediate. The King Leopold of Belgium is the Queen’s uncle. His eldest son and heir, the Duke De Brabant, is married to an Archduchess of Austria, and his daughter, the Princess Charlotte, is married to the Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, brother of the Emperor of Austria, another party to the contest. Besides these connections the Duchess of Cambridge, who was a Princes of Hesse Cassel, is an aunt of the Queen of Denmark, who was also a Princess of Hesse Cassel. Every party to the Dano-Germanic contest may, therefore, be said to be more or less immediately connected with the royal family of Great Britain.”

Queen Victoria, her husband & their 9 children

Queen Victoria, her husband & their 9 children

February 21– Sunday– Richmond, Virginia– “Cold, clear, and calm, but moderating. . . . I know my ribs stick out, being covered by skin only, for the want of sufficient food; and this is the case with many thousands of non-producers, while there is enough for all, if it were equally distributed. The Secretary of War has nothing new from General Polk; and Sherman is supposed to be still at Meridian.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

February 21– Sunday– near Stephensburg, Virginia– “Well, I was very glad to hear that you were all well. And about the cold weather I thought it awful cold for the last week back. But today it is very pleasant again. I am well at this time– hoping that these few lines may find you all enjoying good health. Tell Father when he sends my watch to send me a good watch key along. I have nothing particular to write at this time. We expect to be paid by the 10th of March again. Then I will send father 20 dollars. I can’t spare many more at this time. You will write as soon as you get this. Give my respects to all enquiring friends. So farewell for this time. If I never more see any of you on earth, By the Grace of God I will meet you in heaven-when I die.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Franklin Rosenbery to his mother Elemina.

February 21– Sunday– Camden County, Georgia– “The battle is over– nobody hurt. The enemy came up the river for Mrs. Albert’s lumber and shelled all day to keep our pickets off. A lavish expedition for their government. Julia has started for home with Adam. Sybil has gone as far as Mrs. Lang’s with her. We shall miss her much, she is so full of life and talk. She has taken a baked chicken and eggs to stop at Dr. Mitchell’s over night. Yesterday had a letter from Autie Chappelle manifesting great anxiety to get North. Provisions are so high they are troubled to live.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

February 22– Monday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “The First West Virginia Infantry and a battalion of the 4th Cavalry, arrived yesterday afternoon and were received by a large number of citizens at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Depot. A lunch of sandwiches, hot coffee, apples and crackers had been prepared and eat out upon the platform of the freight depot. . . . . the boys, having appeased their appetites, marched to the Atheneum . . . . We were glad to see so large a number of citizens present to receive the brave men who have been fighting our battles, and we doubt not it was exceedingly gratifying to the soldiers.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

February 22– Monday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “To-day being the 22nd of February, is the anniversary of the birth of George Washington, the Father of his Country,— ‘First in peace, first in war///First in heart and first in fame///Once Columbia’s guiding star///Now her dearest name.’ The different military companies in our city, together with the veterans troops, will have a parade during the day. At night the several fire companies of the city will have a grand torch light procession. The Farewell Address will be read in the Legislature at ten o’clock this morning. From present indications, we conclude that the celebration of the day will be more general than it has been for many years. So might it be.” ~ Wheeling Daily Register

Gideon Welles

Gideon Welles

February 22– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “A circular, ‘strictly private,’ signed by Senator [Samuel] Pomeroy [of Kansas] and in favor of Mr. Chase for President, has been detected and published. It will be more dangerous in its recoil than its projectile. That is, it will damage Chase more than Lincoln. The effect on the two men themselves will not be serious. Both of them desire the position, which is not surprising; it certainly is not in the President, who would be gratified with an indorsement. . . . The National Committee appointed at Chicago met to-day. As Connecticut had sent forward no one as a substitute in my place, I was for a brief time with the committee. I judge that four fifths are for the reelection of the President. The proceedings were harmonious, and will, I think, be satisfactory. I do not like this machinery and wish it could be dispensed with.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

Senator Pomeroy

Senator Pomeroy

February 22– Monday– Washington, D.C.– The Pomeroy Circular, leaked to the press and signed by Senator Pomeroy, concludes by saying, “A central organization has been effected, which already has its connections in all the States, and the object of which is to enable his friends everywhere most effectually to promote his elevation to the Presidency. We wish the hearty cooperation of all those in favor of the speedy restoration of the Union upon the basis of universal freedom, and who desire an administration of the Government during the first period of its new life which shall, to the fullest extent, develop the capacity of free institutions, enlarge the resources of the country, diminish the burdens of taxation, elevate the standard of public and private morality, vindicate the honor of the Republic before the world, and in all things make our American nationality the fairest example for imitation which human progress has ever achieved. If these objects meet your approval, you can render efficient aid by exerting yourself at once to organize your section of the country, and by corresponding with the Chairman of the National Executive Committee, for the purpose either of receiving or imparting information.”

February 22– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Treasury Secretary Salmon P Chase offers his resignation to President Lincoln in light of the “Pomeroy Circular.” Chase claims that he knew nothing about it. “I do not wish to administer the Treasury Department one day without your entire confidence.”

February 22– Monday– Greenville, Tennessee– “General Longstreet has intrusted to me the pleasing duty of thanking you for the promptness and extent of the effort made by you in clothing and sheltering the brave Georgians in his army. The privations uncomplainingly borne by them during the last campaign, and their gallant and distinguished services throughout the war, rendered them fully worthy of the grateful attention and fostering care of their noble State, which in no way more exhibits her greatest than in the bountiful manner in which she provides for her faithful soldiers.” ~ Letter from Confederate Colonel Sorrell, on General Longstreet’s staff, to the Office of the Quartermaster of Georgia, thanking him for 3,000 new uniforms.

February 22– Monday– Luna Landing, Arkansas; Calfkiller Creek, Tennessee; Lexington, Missouri; Indianola, Texas; Whitemarsh Island, Georgia; Mulberry Gap, Tennessee; Warrensburg, Missouri; Gibson’s mill, Virginia; Powell’s Bridge, Tennessee; Mayfield, Kentucky– Raids, fire fights, and various sharp exchanges of gunfire.

February 22– Monday– Okolona, Mississippi– Confederate forces turn back Federal forces in a hard fight. Confederate dead include Jeffrey Forrest, brother of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Confederate dead, wounded and missing total 110 while Union losses amount to 388.

February 22– Monday– Killeshandra, County Cavan, Ireland– Birth of Michael Donohoe. He will emigrate to the United States in 1886, settle in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and serve as U.S. Representative in Congress from 1911 to 1915. [Dies January 17, 1958.]

Michael Donohoe

Michael Donohoe

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