The Chaff & Stubble of Secession, Disunion & Anarchy~February 1864~23rd to 27th

The Chaff and Stubble of Secession, Disunion and Anarchy ~ Wheeling Daily Register

Hard times due to the war envelop people from West Virginia to Georgia. Blockade runners are captured. The prison camp opens at Andersonville, Georgia with none yet aware of the dreadfulness which will unfold there. Election year politics are in the newspapers and people’s diaries. Mexican forces stun the French invaders. The world turns.


February 23– Tuesday– Boston, Massachusetts– An American merchant ship arrives with news that British authorities at Simon’s Bay near Cape Town, South Africa, on December 26th seized the Confederate ship Tuscaloosa “which having been brought into an English port in violation of the neutrality laws, must accordingly be detained.”

February 23– Tuesday– New York City– “A dispatch from Washington says that the Republican of that city declares this circular, published in yesterday morning’s Herald, to be a hoax. We are inclined to think that the Republican is mistaken. It is very generally known that a small number of persons, with Senator Pomeroy at their head, have been for some weeks in perpetual session in Washington, devising ways and means to prevent the renomination of President Lincoln. They have compiled and printed a pamphlet on the subject, made up in part of extracts from newspapers hostile to Mr. Lincoln, and designed primarily to injure him, both personally and politically, as an essential preliminary to the introduction of a new candidate. This pamphlet has been circulated only to a limited extent, and with considerable precaution as to the character of the hands in which it should fall. It is altogether probable that it would be accompanied or promptly followed by such a circular as the one given above. It will be observed that Senator Pomeroy and his associates, who have in their public action thus far professed to be friends of the Administration, do not hesitate in this secret circular, to declare themselves its opponents. We presume that Secretary Chase, whom they present as their candidate, would scarcely consent to be placed in this category.” ~ New York Times.

February 23– Tuesday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Yesterday, the anniversary of the birth of Washington, was observed in our city by the display of flags, the reading of his Farewell Address at the Capitol, the suspension of our schools, a parade by some of the military &c. We are glad to believe that the memory of Washington still lingers, with love and veneration, in the hearts of the great mass of American people. . . . . The time will come when the memory of Washington and his compeers, and the recollection of their glorious achievements, will revive in the hearts of thousands who have been led astray by the fanaticism and madness of the hour, an ardent desire for the return of the Union, prosperity and happiness we once enjoyed, and a stern determination that these inestimable blessings shall be ours. Factious leaders may triumph for a season, but the spirit that glowed in the bosom of Washington and his compatriots, still lives and burns in American hearts, and will yet consume, as a fire, the chaff and stubble of faction, revolution, secession, disunion and anarchy.” ~ Wheeling Daily Register.

George Washington

George Washington

February 24– Wednesday– New York City– “They have got up a little retail war of their own, on the other side of the Atlantic, about the two-penny Holstein-Schleswig controversy . . . . Denmark has the worst of it so far. She is likely to be overwhelmed by Austria and Prussia unless some other great power intervene on her side. . . . . Political cauldron begins to bubble. Lincoln will not be renominated unanimously. . . . I should bet on Uncle Abe. It may result in a triangular duel between Chase, ‘radical’; Lincoln, ‘moderate’; and McClellan or some other extinct fossil ‘conservative.’ . . . . Public opinion is ‘a-marching on’ with seven-league boots, and the politicians observe its progress with lively personal interest. . . . . The change of opinion on this slavery question since 1860 is a great historical fact . . . . Who could have predicted it, even when the news came that Sumter had fallen, or even a year and a quarter afterwards, when [General] Pope was falling back on Washington, routed and disorganized? I think this great and blessed revolution is due, in no small degree, to A Lincoln’s sagacious policy.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

February 24–Wednesday– Washington, D.C.–At Lincoln’s request, Congress passes a draft law. It includes provisions for a man to buy a substitute and a recognition of conscientious objectors from traditional peace churches.

February 24– Wednesday– near Harrisonburg, Virginia–”My health is excellent at this time. We are still here . . . but it is rumored that we will return to Orange [County Courthouse] soon, but I hope it is not true. I had rather stay here in the Valley now for the remainder of the winter. We are living high now. . . . . we draw plenty of good pork and flour, and have some fine eating sure. We have baked a great many pies with our fruits and we sell what we do not want to eat. I have made $8.00 selling pies. . . . . I have been making a little money recently by sewing, patching pants, coats, &c. They come to me and offer me high pay to do it. I hate to charge for it but it takes time and thread and to make a little to buy tobacco, &c., I accept of the pay. . . . There is some law passed about the Confederate money so I hear, but I do not understand it. If you have any on hand that you do not use immediately, get advice how to work it.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

February 25– Thursday– North Bend, Indiana– Anna Symmes Harrison, widow of President William Henry Harrison, dies at age 88 on the farm of her son John. She has outlived her husband by almost 23 years.

Anna Symmes Harrison

Anna Symmes Harrison

February 25– Thursday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Mr. Young said that Huntersville, the present county seat, . . . was situated in a wilderness. There were only five or six houses in the place, and not another habitation for miles in any direction. . . . Huntersville, he said, was always a drunken, dirty town, the rallying hole of treason, and in the country around it there was nothing but huckleberry bushes and pitch pine woods, ground that would not fetch buckwheat, barren wastes and precipices inhabited by panthers. The Union soldiers burned part of the town containing rebel stores in 1861, and the rebels afterwards burned the Court House. The wealthy men of Pocahontas [County] have generally cast their fortunes with the rebellion. They have sowed the wind and will reap the border of this State are in a similar condition to that described by the Senator.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

February 25– Thursday– Camden County, Georgia– “A letter from Esther telling that the homestead is sold. We have no longer a father, mother or home. I did not expect to see this day, nor such a time for our Country. Julia wrote us from the station that she was obliged to sleep in a Negro house in the care of Negroes one night, and that some of the wounded soldiers had come on the [railroad] cars terribly mangled. . . . . Our peach and plum trees are in bloom but are injured by the severe frosts. We have had an unusually cold winter.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

February 25–Thursday– Off the Florida coast–U S warships seize a British merchant ship attempting to run the blockade.

February 26– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “The President directs that the sentences of all deserters who have been condemned by court-martial to death, and that have not been otherwise acted upon by him, be mitigated to imprisonment during the war at the Dry Tortugas, Florida, where they will be sent under suitable guards by orders from army commanders. The commanding generals, who have power to act on proceedings of courts-martial in such cases, are authorized in special cases to restore to duty deserters under sentence, when in their judgment the service will be thereby benefitted.” ~ Executive order from President Lincoln, continuing his general policy to spare the lives of court-martialed soldiers.

February 26– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “Cool, bright, but windy and dusty. . . . . General Lee is here in consultation with the President. They decided that over 1000 men be transferred from the army to the navy– so that something may be soon heard from our iron-clads. Pork is selling at $3 per pound to-day. Writings upon the walls of the houses at the corners of the streets were observed this morning, indicating a riot, if there be no amelioration of the famine.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

February 26– Friday– Montreal, Quebec, Canada– Sir Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine, prominent politician, dies at 56 years of age.

Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine

Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine

February 27– Saturday– Shelby County, Tennessee– “Annie Nelson and myself went to Memphis this morning– very warm, dusty and disagreeable. Accomplished all I went for – did not go near any of the [Yankee] Officials, was fortunate to meet a kind friend, Lucie Harris, who gave me her pass– ’tis a risk, yet we can accomplish nothing without great risk at times, I returned the favor by bringing a letter to forward to her husband, Army of Mobile. I sat up until 8 o’clock last night, arranging poor Green’s mail to forward to the different command. It was a difficult job, yet a great pleasure to know I had it in my power to rejoice the hearts of our brave Southern Soldiers– most were Kentucky letters for Breckenridge’s command– the rest were Missouri letters for Johnston’s, Polk’s, and Maury’s commands. God grant them a safe and speedy trip. We have glorious news from Dixie– [Confederate General Nathan Bedford] Forrest has completely routed Smith and Grierson at Okolona– God grant my Brother Eddie may be safe– we hear his Colonel Jeff Forrest was killed. The Yanks are perfectly demoralized, all that escaped have arrived in Memphis. I never witnessed such a sight as the stolen Negroes, poor deluded wretches– Praise God for this Victory.” ~ Diary of Belle Edmondson.

February 27– Saturday– near Greenville, Tennessee– “Write soon and often for the present, give my love to all inquiring friends. Tell Cousin Puss howdy and kiss all the children. God grant that this war may soon close and let us all meet again, to enjoy the comforts of home and friends as in days past and gone forever, gone. Those were happy days when at setting sun to meet the loving smiles of an affectionate wife. It is delightful to think of those days. Oh, God, will the sun ever shine again?” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier W R Stilwell to his wife Molly.

February 27– Saturday– Andersonville, Georgia– Federal prisoners-of-war begin arriving at Camp Sumter, which is still under construction and does not have sufficient housing for these prisoners.


Andersonville Prison

Andersonville Prison

February 27–Saturday– Off the Florida coast–U S warships seize a British merchant ship attempting to run the blockade.

February 27– Madisonville, Mississippi; Catoosa Station, Georgia; Sequatchie Valley, Tennessee; Sharon, Mississippi; Poplar Bluff, Missouri; Pinos Altos, Arizona Territory; St Marks, Florida– Raids, fire fights and skirmishes.

February 27– Saturday– San Juan Bautista, Mexico– Mexican forces retake control of the city which the French captured in the spring of 1863. The Republican forces consist of militia from the surrounding area, only half of whom are equipped with firearms while the others fought with machetes.

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