Monthly Archives: March 2014

Most Terrible of All Wars, a Civil One~March 1864~28th to 31st

Most Terrible of All Wars, a Civil One ~ Gideon Welles

Gideon Welles reflects upon the challenges faced by the Lincoln Administration. Whitman mourns the death of a young, unidentified soldier. The South brags of its capabilities while enduring all manner of shortages. Soldiers think about God while plenty of skirmishing foretells worse fighting to come. Election year politics are underway. Mexicans defeat a French force. The world continues to turn.

March 28– Monday– Copenhagen, Denmark– Princess Louise Charlotte of the Danish royal family dies at age 74.

March 29– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “Mr. Charles B Stuart, consulting engineer, appointed such by me upon invitation of the governor of New York, according to a law of that State, has made a report upon the proposed improvements to pass gunboats from tide water to the northern and northwestern lakes, which report is herewith respectfully submitted for your consideration.” ~ Message to Congress from President Lincoln.

March 29– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “The poor boy was dead– they took him into the ward, & the doctor came immediately, but it was all of no use– the worst of it is too that he is entirely unknown– there was nothing on his clothes, or any one with him, to identify him& he is altogether unknown. Mother, it is enough to rack one’s heart, such things– very likely his folks will never know in the world what has become of him– poor, poor child, for he appeared as though he could be but 18. I feel lately as though I must have some intermission, I feel well & hearty enough, & was never better, but my feelings are kept in a painful condition a great part of the time– things get worse & worse, as to the amount & sufferings of the sick, & as I have said before, those who have to do with them are getting more & more callous & indifferent. Mother, when I see the common soldiers, whatthey go through, & how every body seems to try to pick upon them, & what humbug there is over them every how, even the dying soldier’s money stolen from his body by some scoundrel attendant, or from some sick ones, even from under his head, which is a common thing & then the agony I see every day, I get almost frightened at the world. Mother, I will try to write more cheerfully next time– but I see so much– well, good bye for present, dear Mother.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

March 29– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Augustus Syncoe, the detective who was sent to the penitentiary for shooting Emma Thompson, has been pardoned by Governor Smith. Sending the worst criminals to the penitentiary now-a-days is little more than a farce. The shooting of this woman, by this man, was one of the most outrageous crimes ever perpetrated in any Christian community.” ~ Richmond Whig.

March 29– Tuesday– Columbus, Georgia– Factories here are “capable of turning out one thousand pairs of socks per week. . . . The character of their work is very superior, and reflects upon their skill and pains the utmost credit. Three of their machines are keep constantly running on soldiers’ work. One machine is engaged in knitting for children, or rather youths. One is engaged exclusively on ladies stockings, and turns off as good and handsome work as the most fastidious could wish, especially when the yarn in fine and well prepared. The yarn mostly used for soldiers’ wear is prepared by the Eagle factory, though they work up a considerable amount prepared by private hands.” ~ Article sent to the Richmond Times Dispatch.

March 29– Tuesday– Monett’s Ferry, Louisiana; Roseville, Arkansas; Caperton’s Ferry, Alabama; Long View, Arkansas; Cloutierville, Louisiana; Arkadelphia, Arkansas– Fire fights, raids, small battles. Also, Federal troops are on the move from Lookout Valley, Tennessee to Deer Head Cove, Georgia and in the area of Bellefonte, Arkansas.

March 29– Tuesday– London, England– Great Britain restores control of the Ionian Islands to Greece.

painting by Paul Ranson

painting by Paul Ranson

March 29– Tuesday– Limoges, France– Birth of Paul Ranson, painter and writer. [Dies February 20, 1909].

March 30– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “A severe storm last night and to-day. Mrs. Welles had arranged for a party this evening. The rain ceased about sundown. The evening passed off pleasantly. A large and choice company and many celebrities. Secretary Seward fell in with Mr. Carpenter, the artist in the parlor. Carpenter is getting out a large painting of the President and the Cabinet at the time the Emancipation Proclamation was under consideration. The President and Cabinet have given him several sittings, and the picture is well under weigh. . . . . Nearly sixty years of peace had unfitted us for any war, but the most terrible of all wars, a civil one, was upon us, and it had to be met. Congress had adjourned without making any provision for the storm, though aware it was at hand and soon to burst upon the country. A new Administration, scarcely acquainted with each other, and differing essentially in the past, was compelled to act, promptly and decisively.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles. [Mrs Welles is Mary Jane Hale Welles of Lewistown, Pennsylvania, who at this time has been married to Gideon for almost 29 years and bore him nine children.]

Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy

Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy

March 30– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “The only arrivals of prisoners now are from Mosby and McNeal’s ever active commands. Preparations are making in Richmond, Andersonville, South Carolina, and elsewhere, for the reception and holding of an increased number of prisoners during the ensuing summer. All the sick in the hospitals here, about eight hundred, will probably be sent Northward by the next flag-of-truce.” ~ Richmond Examiner.

March 30– Wednesday– Milwaukee, Wisconsin– The Union State Convention endorses Lincoln for reelection.


March 30– Wednesday– Athens, Georgia– “Mr John H. Colt has presented us with a bottle of blackberry wine, in which he used sorghum syrup instead of sugar. The syrup should be used according to taste; but care should be taken that the wine is not made too sweet. Probably a safe rule would be to use the same quantity by weight as of sugar. The sample before us is fully equal, if not superior, to any we have ever tasted. This is a valuable discovery; as nothing is more useful in certain cases of sickness, than blackberry wine, and its manufacture has almost entirely ceased, on account of the scarcity of sugar. Mr Colt deserves the thanks of the public for the prompt manner in which he has made the discovery known.” ~ The Southern Banner.

March 30– Wednesday– Macon, Georgia– General Howell Cobb takes command of the Reserve Corps of Georgia, which, among other duties, provides the guards at Camp Sumter near Andersonville. This force is composed mainly of boys under the age of seventeen and men over fifty; some of the boys are so small they can barely see over the prison walls from the guard towers.

Andersonville Prison

Andersonville Prison

March 30– Wednesday– Camden County, Georgia– “Mr Fisher went over to Major Bailey’s today to consult about getting a passport. This seems the most difficult part of all. I have but little faith in getting one and it will make a heavy expense to go to Savannah– probably cost a $100.00. Sybil seems to be getting in a bad way. Her whole body swells badly and has a good deal of pain. If she is no better we shall be unwilling to leave her. We have been obliged to kill a pig. Poor and tough, hardly fat enough to fry itself.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

March 30– Wednesday– Greenton, Missouri; Mount Elba, Arkansas; Cherry Grove, Virginia; Snyder’s Bluff, Mississippi; Big Creek, Arkansas– Skirmishes, little affairs, raids and surprise attacks. Federals troops are reconnoitering around Woodville, Alabama and Columbus, Kentucky.

March 31– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “Mother, I have been in the midst of suffering & death for two months worse than ever– the only comfort is that I have been the cause of some beams of sunshine upon their suffering & gloomy souls & bodies too– many of the dying I have been with too. Well, mother, you must not worry about the grocery bill &c, though I suppose you will say that is easier said than followed. (As to me I believe I worry about worldly things less than ever, if that is possible). Tell Jeff & Mat I send them my love. General Grant has just come in town from front– the country here is all mud again. I am going to a spiritualist medium this evening, I expect it will be a humbug of course, I will tell you next letter. Dear mother, keep a good heart.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa.

March 31– Thursday– near Stephensburg, Virginia– “My desire is to do my duty and live in such a way as to make Heaven my home when I come to cross the cold Jordan of Death. My prayer and sincere desire is that-if we never meet on Earth, that God will help us to meet in Heaven where there will be no War or no parting then. Take care of your health and if it is God’s will– we will soon be permitted to meet each other.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Franklin Rosenbery to his father John.

March 31– Thursday– Chattanooga, Tennessee– “I have the honor herewith to inclose you a list of the families fed by the U. S. Commissary at this post, whose natural supporters are now serving in the armies of the Confederate States, and fighting against the Government which is saving them from starvation. My object in so doing is to propose that you receive these families and provide for them, as they have no claims upon the United States but those prompted by considerations of humanity. Their friends and their sympathies are all with you and your cause, and I cannot but think that your own sense of justice will agree with me that it is your duty to receive these people within your lines and provide for their necessities.” ~ Message from Union General George Thomas to Confederate General Joseph Johnston.

Union General George Thomas

Union General George Thomas

March 31– Thursday– Natchitoches, Louisiana; Arkadelphia, Arkansas; Palatka, Florida; Forks of Beaver, Kentucky; Spring Island, South Carolina– Skirmishing, gun battles and assorted mayhem.

 March 31– Thursday– Mazatlan, Mexico– In the climax of four days of fighting, Mexican forces defeat the French.


General Grant Is All the Rage~March 1864~26th to 28th

General Grant Is All the Rage ~ Senator John Sherman

Expectations are high around General Grant. President Lincoln clarifies his amnesty proposal. Furloughs before spring campaigns concern soldiers and civilians on both sides. In Richmond authorities display Ulric Dahlgren’s artificial leg. Andersonville prison receives its commandant. Food shortages are felt throughout the Confederacy.

a soldiers' ball

a soldiers’ ball

March 26– Saturday– Moundsville, West Virginia– “Notwithstanding the inclement weather, this may truly be denominated one of Moundsville’s ‘gay and festive’ days, and as such will doubtless long be remembered by many of the citizens. Without the usual publicity attending such proceedings, the good people of the town and neighboring townships . . . in a quiet and well attended meeting, determined to prepare a dinner for the soldiers, and fearful that expiring furloughs would deprive many of the braves from participating at a later date, they fixed upon to-day for the entertainment. From early dawn until late in the afternoon furloughed soldiers and citizens poured into town. At half past twelve the steamer Express with a large representation of the 7th and 4th W. Va. Infantry under immediate charge of Captain Fisher, of the 7th touched the wharf.” ~ Letter to the editor of the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

March 26– Saturday– Washington, D. C.– “Persons who [are] . . . prisoners of war, or persons detained for offenses of any kind, either before or after conviction . . . [are] excluded from the amnesty offered in the said proclamation [and] may apply to the President for clemency, like all other offenders, and their applications will receive due consideration. I do further declare and proclaim that the oath prescribed in the aforesaid proclamation of the 8th of December, 1863, may be taken and subscribed before any commissioned officer, civil, military, or naval, in the service of the United States or any civil or military officer of a State or Territory not in insurrection who by the laws thereof may be qualified for administering oaths. All officers who receive such oaths are hereby authorized to give certificates thereon to the persons respectively by whom they are made, and such officers are hereby required to transmit the original records of such oaths at as early a day as may be convenient to the Department of State, where they will be deposited and remain in the archives of the Government. The Secretary of State will keep a register thereof, and will on application, in proper cases, issue certificates of such records in the customary form of official certificates.” ~ Proclamation by President Lincoln to clarify his amnesty offer of last December.

March 26– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “I have recently met with several officers who have been with you, among others General Grant and General Butterfield. General Grant is all the rage; he is subjected to the disgusting but dangerous process of being lionized. He is followed by crowds and is cheered everywhere. While he must despise the fickle fools who run after him, he, like most others, may be spoiled by this excess of flattery. He may be so elated as to forget the uncertain tenure upon which he holds and stakes his really well-earned laurels. I conversed with him but little, as I did not wish either to occupy his time or to be considered his flatterer. The opinion I form of him from his appearance is this, his will and common-sense are the strongest features of his character. He is plain and modest, and so far bears himself well. . . . You are now in a position where any act of yours will command public attention. You will be unduly lauded and sharply abused. I hope you have seen enough of the base motives that dictate praise and blame to disregard both, but preserve the best of your judgment in utter disregard of flattery or clamor.” ~ Letter from Senator John Sherman to his brother General William Tecumseh Sherman.

March 26– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– “The crutch of the piratical Yankee, Colonel Ulric Dahlgren, was left at the counting room of this paper yesterday, where it may be seen by the curious. It is pronounced by judges of such work a model of its kind, uniting as it does great simplicity of construction with great ease and comfort to the wearer. Our crutch makers should call and see it.” ~ Richmond Whig. [The “crutch” referred to is Dahlgren’s artificial right leg.]

Ulric Dahlgren

Ulric Dahlgren

March 27– Sunday– Army of Northern Virginia headquarters, Virginia– “I and Lieutenant Amason went over the river and had a few rounds with Some very nice ladies, and while we were over there we heard of a wedding, which came off that morning and they were going to have a frolic that night so we came back and got Sargent Parker and here we went through the Snow about a mile and a half and we arrived at the place (Mr Daughtry’s) and the house was crowded with young ladies, but I never Saw as ugly a Set in my life, they were so ugly the flies will not light on them, and I never heard Such Singing in my life. I have head Something Similar, though better, in our Negro kitchens down South, though we passed off the time very well, we made them believe that we had never Seen anything like it, and Sure enough we never. If nothing happens I will go to a party tomorrow night where there is Some pretty girls and a little more like they are in Georgia, but none of them Suit me near so well as the Georgia girls. Some of the boys Say if they get to go back to Georgia, they are going to carry a wife with them from Virginia, but if the war was to last 20 years, and I had to Stay in Virginia all the time, I would never marry a Virginia lady, unless I could find one that Suited me much better than any I have ever come across yet, and I think I have Seen about as good as the State affords.~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to his family in Georgia.

March 27– Sunday– Greeneville, Tennessee– “The troops in this department are living on half ration of meat and bread, without any good reason to hope for better prospects. Our animals are in the same condition, with the hope of getting grass in a month more. Supplies seem to be about as scarce all over the Confederacy. It seems a necessity, therefore, that we should advance, and this route seems to offer more ready and complete relief than any other. If we had an abundance of supplies it seems to me that we should go into Kentucky as a political move. . . . The enemy will be more or less demoralized and dishearten by the great loss of territory which he will sustain, and he will find great difficulty in getting men enough to operate with before the elections in the fall, when in all probability Lincoln will be defeated and peace will follow in the spring. The political opponents of Mr. Lincoln can furnish no reason at this late day against the war so long as it is successful with him, and thus far it has certainly been as successful as any one could reasonably expect. If however, his opponents were to find at the end of three years that we held Kentucky and were as well to do as at the beginning of the war, it would be a powerful argument against Lincoln and against the war. Lincoln’s re-election seems to depend upon the result of your efforts during the present year. If he is reelected, the war must continue, and I see no way of defeating his re-enlisted except by military success.” ~ Report from Confederate General James Longstreet.

General James Longstreet

General James Longstreet

March 27– Sunday– Andersonville, Georgia– Captain Henry Wirz, age 40, originally from Switzerland and a Confederate combat veteran from Louisiana, takes charge as prison commandant, the officer directly in charge of the inmates. Wirz had been severely wounded in the right shoulder at the Battle of Seven Pines, Virginia, in the spring of 1862. [Wirz will be hanged by Federal authorities in Washington, D.C. on November 10, 1865 for numerous alleged atrocities against Union prisoners.]

Henry Wirz

Henry Wirz

March 28– Monday– Charleston, Illinois– A mob of about 100 Southern sympathizers attack Union soldiers relaxing on furlough. Other soldiers come the aid of their comrades and restore order. By day’s end, 5 people are dead and more than 20 wounded.

March 28– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “The Governor of Kentucky is here, and desires to have the following points definitely fixed: First. That the quotas of troops furnished, and to be furnished, by Kentucky may be adjusted upon the basis as actually reduced by able-bodied men of hers having gone into the rebel service; and that she be required to furnish no more than her just quotas upon fair adjustment upon such basis. Second. To whatever extent the enlistment and drafting, one or both, of colored troops may be found necessary within the State, it may be conducted within the law of Congress; and, so far as practicable, free from collateral embarrassments, disorders, and provocations. I think these requests of the Governor are reasonable; and I shall be obliged if you will give him a full hearing, and do the best you can to effect these objects.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.

March 28– Monday– Mitchel’s Station, Virginia– “Our Regiment– the 108th Pennsylvania Volunteers – expects to be home in a few days. . . . . It is now a little over two years since we left Harrisburg for Washington about nine hundred strong. We can return with something over two hundred, all told. With few expectations, nearly all have reenlisted as Veteran Volunteers. . . . . Where are all those buoyant souls that left Harrisburg March 8th ,1862? I can only say– let the battles from Cedar Mountain to the Three Days’ fight at Gettysburg furnish the reply. Our Regiment has indeed seen active service. . . . . We have established a bright record in the service of our country, and I hope the historians will do us justice. I could write a volume, but I must be brief. . . . . I will close by adding, the boys are all well, and as we expect soon to be home, I will give you a greater detail of our doings.” ~ E. D. R., a Union soldier from Pennsylvania.

March 28– Monday– near Stephensburg, Virginia– “This morning I seat myself to inform you that I am well at this time. Hoping that these few lines may find you all enjoying the same blessings of health. It is middling pleasant here this morning. The snow that had fell on the 22nd is all gone. It was about 1 foot in depth. . . . . Now, I will say that I can’t promise about writing very regular as we will soon begin to move about some but I write as often as I can conveniently. I have not particulars to write at this time more than I am still trying by The Grace of God to follow the meek and lowly Lamb. Let come what will, trusting that if I never meet any of you on earth, I will meet you at the right hand of God in Heaven. Write soon. Take good care of your health. . . . . We expect to be paid soon. Then I will send you all the money that I will have to spare. . . . . I am still living in hope of seeing you all again e’re long.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Franklin Rosenbery to his father John.

slaves continue to escape to Union lines

slaves continue to escape to Union lines

March 28– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– “On Saturday . . . about one o’clock, while some empty cars on the Fredericksburg railroad were being backed down the track on Broad street, between 6th and 7th street, a youth named Joseph Rowe, fifteen years of age, attempted to jump on the foremost car by catching hold of the coupling iron. . . . . he was thrown across the track . . . . Death was, of course, instantaneous. . . . . This is not by many the first accident we have had to record as happening on the railroad on Broad street, nor will it be the last, unless some action is taken in the matter by the City Council. The railroad company do all they can, but are unable to prevent crowds of boys from riding and playing about their trains. The council should make it a penal offence, and direct the police to arrest every boy caught in or upon, or in the act of getting upon any railroad car without permission from the proper authorities.” ~ Richmond Whig.

March 28– Monday– Camden County, Georgia– “Today I am fifty years old. Half a century! I feel mute with amazement. Time, how short! and what a life?” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

Not Doing Any Thing of Much Importance~March 1859~21st to 31st

Not Doing Any Thing of Much Importance~ James Johnston

The last part of March gives no hint of the troubles coming before the end of the year nor of the tumult of Civil War coming soon.

Abraham Lincoln, Attorney-at-law

Abraham Lincoln, Attorney-at-law

March 21– Monday– Franklin County, Pennsylvania– “Many of my old friends are dead, and I am not inclined to forget the few, who remain. I believe that there is sympathy between you and me, and I am more inclined to cultivate it than to allow it to fall into nothing. I am not doing any thing of much importance, and have not for some time. I tried through a friend to get a situation in the Cincinnati, or St. Louis press, but he tried in vain, for all situations are filled. I am not very anxious to leave Penna, but I owe some money, and I am excessively anxious to pay my debts. I will help upon the farm during the Spring & Summer, and in the fall will, perhaps, try my hand at teaching a school. This will be a new business to me, and I detest the idea of it, but necessitas non habet legem. I mention these things, because you inquire what I am doing. I am doing no harm, and am doing no good. My existence for some time past has been that of indifference and nonchalance. My vessel is high & dry in a sand-bank, & I lack the levers to put her afloat.” ~ Letter from James Johnston to Edward McPherson.

March 21– Monday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– The Zoological Society of Philadelphia incorporates the Philadelphia Zoological Garden, the first zoo in the United States. [The Philadelphia Zoo will not open to the public until July 1, 1874.]

March 21– Monday– Charleston, South Carolina– “Black republicanism opposes the acquisition [of Cuba] because it may strengthen slavery, however desirable in other respects. . . . . Let the people of the South understand their position.” ~ Charleston Mercury.

March 22– Tuesday– Quito, Ecuador– The city is struck by a massive earthquake this morning. In less than 90 seconds, the majority of buildings are leveled and at least 5000 people are reported to have died.

March 22– Tuesday– London, England– Once again a bill that would overturn the ban in British law against a man marrying his dead wife’s sister is defeated 39 to 49 in the House of Lords. This time, the bill had passed the House of Commons rather easily. However, the Anglican bishops who are voting members of the House of Lords argue that such a marriage is prohibited by the law of Moses. [This marriage prohibition will not be lifted in Britain until 1907.]

March 22– Tuesday– Paris, France– A French newspaper reports that Russia has proposed a Great Power conference designed to cool the warlike preparations of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia and the Austrian Empire and that France is willing to participate in such a conference. [In fact, Napoleon III has already secretly agreed to help the Italians against Austria when the anticipated war which he has helped to cause actually erupts.]

March 22– Tuesday– dateline: Berlin, Germany– Today’s New York Times reports that last month at the observance of George Washington’s birthday at the American Embassy two elderly Germans who both knew Washington– Senator Adami from Bremen and Baron von Humboldt– joined the festive dinner.

March 23– Wednesday– Savannah, Georgia– A group of Africans illegally imported as slaves and found by U S officials are set free. “The Negroes disliked very much to leave, as they had been treated very kindly by the [local] citizens.” ~ Savannah Republican.

March 23– Wednesday– Montreal, Quebec, Canada– Jacob De Witt, banker, businessman and political activist, dies at age 73.

March 24– Thursday– New York City– In response to a Mr King of Canada who has urged that the parts of the province of Ontario formerly know as “Upper Canada” should join the United States, today’s New York Times says “we must say we think we are better as we are.”

March 24– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– New York Congressman Daniel Sickles surrendered immediately to authorities after he shot and killed U.S. District Attorney Philip Barton Key after Sickles’ wife made a confession of her protracted adultery with Key. Sickles has been held in prison awaiting indictment and trial. Today the Grand Jury in the capital indicts him for murder and sets his trial to begin April 4th, eleven days from now.

Sickles murders Key

Sickles murders Key

March 26– Saturday– Logan County, Illinois– “I would really be pleased with a publication substantially as you propose. But I would suggest a few variations from your plan. I would not include the Republican platform; because that would give the work a one-sided & party cast, unless the democratic platform was also included. I would not take all the speeches from the Press & Tribune; but I would take mine from that paper; and those of Judge Douglas from the Chicago Times. This would represent each of us, as reported by his own friends, and thus be mutual, and fair. I would take the speeches alone; rigidly excluding all comments of the newspapers. I would include the correspondence between Judge Douglas and myself which led to the joint discussions. I would call the thing Illinois political canvass of 1858 and, as falling within the title, I would select and include half a dozen of the National Democratic speeches.” ~ Letter from Abraham Lincoln to William Ross regarding a book of the speeches in the Lincoln–Douglas debates.

March 26– Saturday– Bromsgrove, England– Birth of Alfred Edward Housman, poet. [He will die April 30, 1936.]

A E Housman

A E Housman

March 26– Saturday– Orgeres-en-Beauce, France– In his amateur observatory seventy miles from Paris, Edmond Modeste Lescarbault, a French physician, age 45, observes a small dark body transit the sun. [Leading French astronomer Urbain Le Ferrier will double check Lescarbault’s calculations and on January 2, 1860 will announce the discovery of the planet Vulcan, a body between Mercury and the sun, whose existence had been hypothesized for decades. Dr Lescarbault will become a member of France’s Legion of Honor. Later, twentieth century science will prove conclusively that Vulcan does not exist but it will remain in literature as a convenient fictional planet, including its role as the home planet of the Star Trek character Mr Spock.]

March 27– Sunday– Vera Cruz, Mexico– Having met determined resistence, the military forces under General Miguel Miramon withdraw from the area.

March 28– Monday– Springfield, Illinois– “Your kind note inviting me to deliver a lecture at Galesburg is received. I regret to say I cannot do so now; I must stick to the courts awhile. I read a sort of lecture to three different audiences during the last month and this; but I did so under circumstances which made it a waste of no time whatever.” ~ Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Mr W M Morris.

March 28– Monday– Hamburg, Germany– Johannes Brahms’ First Serenade for Orchestra in D Major receives its premier performance. [He will continue to work on the piece, revising it into his Serenade for Large Orchestra, which he will publish in December, 1860.]

Johannes Brahams

Johannes Brahams

March 29– Tuesday– Boston, Massachusetts– The Cochituate Aqueduct, completed in 1848, brought up to eighteen million gallons of water a day from Lake Cochituate into the city, serving as the city’s first general water supply. Today the aqueduct suffers a breach at Lower Newton where it crosses the Charles River over a brick bridge. The cascade of water creates a gouge in the surrounding landscape sixty feet wide, eighty feet deep, and two hundred feet long before it can be brought under control. [The break will be repaired within a matter of days and the Aqueduct will serve Boston until 1951.]

March 29– Tuesday– Cambridge, Massachusetts– “The parting with my old church in Federal Street was a sad funeral to me. I was much overcome, as the past swept over me in a tide, and I thought of my mother as I remembered her, sitting upon the very spot in the pew I occupied, with the gentle refinement of her features, her rose-shell complexion, and eyes full of holiest thoughts, her admiration of Dr [William Ellery] Channing [1780-1842; Unitarian minister & theologian], though herself an unyielding Calvinist, and her willingness to listen to his ministry many years; then of him I had a vision as he sat at the side of the pulpit, with his earnest, penetrating eyes, and hair swept forehead, and the inspired fervor of his discourse, making the soul seem so out of proportion to the frail body-then his tender, touching eloquence to us children at the pulpit-foot, when we listened to him as to an angel all this broke me completely down.” ~ Letter from Frances Appleton Longfellow [1817-1861] to a friend. [An artist, Frances is the second wife of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, whom she married in 1843 and bore him six children between 1844 and 1855.]

March 29– Tuesday– San Francisco, California– “Occasionally paragraphs are copied from the English papers, stating that such and such a person has been ‘outlawed.’ Bearing in mind the famous outlaw bold Rob Roy, who is said by the poet to have been as excellent a thief as Robin Hood, many persons believe that outlawry is the penalty of crime. Such, however, is not the case. It is merely the consequence of avoiding suit in civil matters, and many men who take refuge in . . . New York, when London has become ‘hot,’ and who refuse to answer the sweet call of the crier of the Bankruptcy Court, are at once declared ‘outlaws.’” ~ San Francisco Evening Bulletin.

March 29– Tuesday– London, England– James Stark, English landscape painter, dies at age 64.

March 29– Tuesday– Wurttemberg, Germany– Birth of Oscar Mayer. As a youngster he will emigrate to the United States and eventually found the food company which bears his name. [Dies March 11, 1955.]

Oscar Mayer

Oscar Mayer

March 30– Wednesday– Provo, Utah– Federal Judge John Cradlebaugh had opened a session of federal court on March 8th to pursue indictments against the Mormon men implicated in the Mountain Meadows Massacre sixteen months before. Since there were none of the usual court or jail facilities available, Cradlebaugh requested federal troops to secure and protect the proceedings. This brought protests from the Mormon mayor of the town and Governor Albert Cumming was prevailed upon to ask the regional commander, General Albert Sidney Johnston, to withdraw his men. When General Johnston cited the judicial request and refused, Governor Cumming stood on his position as territorial governor with the authority to order the removal. Today the judge denounces the Governor’s order in court. [Despite this the troops will be returned to their regular units a few days from now.]

March 31– Thursday– Fayetteville, North Carolina– An advertisement in the Fayetteville Observer encourages the widows of soldiers who died in the war with Mexico or the War of 1812 to contact a Mr J. M. Rose, agent for pensions, as “Congress [has] made additional provision. Give me the management of your claims and the money shall come at once or no charge.”

Each Side is Continually on Alert~March 1864~22nd to 25th


Each Side Is Continually on the Alert~ Walt Whitman

Whitman gives his mother news. The winter is snowy, even in Georgia. An increasing number of skirmishes suggest that plenty of hard fighting will come with warm weather. Congress is concerned about events in Mexico.

March 22– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “I herewith lay before the Senate, for its constitutional action thereon, a treaty made and concluded in Washington City on the 18th instant by and between William P. Dole, Commissioner of Indian Affairs. and the Shawnee Indians, represented by their duly authorized delegates. A report of the Secretary of the Interior and a communication of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs accompany the treaty.” ~ Message from President Lincoln to the Senate.

President Lincoln & General Grant

President Lincoln & General Grant

March 22– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “Mother, every thing is the same with me, I am feeling very well indeed, the old trouble of my head stopped & my ears affected, has not troubled me any since I came back here from Brooklyn. I am writing this in Major Hapgood’s old office . . . where I have my old table & window– it is dusty & chilly to-day, any thing but agreeable. General Grant is expected every moment now in the Army of the Potomac, to take active command. I have just this moment heard from the front– there is nothing yet of a movement, but each side is continually on the alert, expecting something to happen. O mother, to think that we are to have here soon what I have seen so many times, the awful loads & trains & boat loads of poor bloody & pale & wounded young men again– for that is what we certainly will, & before very long. I see all the little signs, getting ready in the hospitals &c– it is dreadful, when one thinks about it. I sometimes think over the sights I have myself seen, the arrival of the wounded after a battle, & the scenes on the field too, & I can hardly believe my own recollection– what an awful thing war is, Mother, it seems not men but a lot of devils & butchers butchering each other.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa.

March 22– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Cloudy morning, with ice; subsequently a snow-storm all day long. No war news. But meat and grain are coming freely from the South. This gives rise to a rumor that Lee will fall back, and that the capital will be besieged; all without any foundation. A Mrs ____ from Maryland, whose only son is in a Federal prison, writes the President (she is in this city) that she desires to go to Canada on some secret enterprise. The President favors her purpose in an indorsement. On this the Secretary indorses a purpose to facilitate her design, and suggests that she be paid $1000 in gold from the secret service fund. She is a Roman Catholic, and intimates that the bishops, priests, and nuns will aid her.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

March 22– Tuesday– Army of Northern Virginia winter quarters, Virginia– “Although a tobacco pouch may seem an insignificant present; yet when they are received with a little card bearing the name of some fair lady, they are most dearly cherished, and never fail to awaken the liveliest emotions. Almost every soldier returning from home, has some such remembrance dangling from his coat button. If we ask him who gave it to him, he will tell a long, but to us interesting, story of some fair one at home. Such little souvenirs are always thankfully received, and never fair to cheer the way worn soldier, and he knows too that he is not entirely forgotten by those who are so far away.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his family.

March 22– Tuesday– Bald Spring Canyon, California; Langley’s Plantation, Mississippi; Fancy Farms, Kentucky; Corpus Christi, Texas; Winchester, Virginia– Raids, fire fights, armed brawls and skirmishes.

March 2 3– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– “I found, on feeling around, I could not invite you here without a difficulty which at least would be unpleasant, and perhaps would be detrimental to the public service. Allow me to suggest that if you wish to remain in the military service, it is very dangerous for you to get temporarily out of it; because, with a major-general once out, it is next to impossible for even the President to get him in again. With my appreciation of your ability and correct principle, of course I would be very glad to have your service for the country in the approaching political canvass; but I fear we cannot properly have it without separating you from the military.” ~ Private letter from President Lincoln to Union General Carl Schurz. [Schurz, born in Germany, fled to the United States as a young man after the failure and suppression of the Revolutions of 1848. He served a key role in the election of 1860, swinging much of the German immigrant vote to Lincoln. He served as American Minister to Spain from July, 1861 to April, 1862 when he resigned to join the Union army and quickly was given command of a division. He will have a distinguished career in the military and later in Congress, as well as in the cabinet of President Hayes and as a journalist and author. He will die on May 14, 1906 at 77 years of age.]


General Carl Schurz

General Carl Schurz

March 23– Sunday– Augusta County, Virginia– “Snow about 8 inches where not drifted. Reading & clearing away snow blown into the houses.” ~ Diary of Francis McFarland.

March 23– Wednesday– Chattanooga, Tennessee– “We have just had a deep snow fourteen inches deep it came in one day and has gone in the same length of time. The people here say this never was the likes of it before and that it would not have come now but the yanks have brought it. It almost seems good to see the ground white again and if I could have. . . I would have had a sleigh ride but I don’t think there ever was a vehicle . . . like that in Chattanooga. It was very novel. The sun shine brought and the weather warm as an April day and the snow a foot deep. . . . Oh would I like to be home to occupy that arm chair and sit by the warm fire.” ~ Letter from Union officer Gershom Barber to his wife.

March 23– Monday– near Greeneville, Tennessee– “My Dear it commenced snowing here yesterday morning and snowed all day. It is fair now but the snow is about 10 or 12 inches deep all over this country. My Dear I have not much to write that will interest you. Only we have got moving orders. I expect we will leave here before long but where we are going I know not but I think we are going to Virginia some say to Georgia but I hardly think we will have that good luck.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Richard Henry Brooks to his wife.


moving artillery through the mud

moving artillery through the mud

March 23– Monday– Dalton, Georgia– “The snow covers the ground four or five inches, and it is cold enough to make a mud chimney pleasant. We had plenty of fun yesterday and from the noise around I suppose all the army did. Before breakfast we had a company [snow ball] fight, one row against the other. Everything was taken in good fun, but it was rough play. The ground was speckled with blood from bruised noses . . . . About half of the men are in the wood after rabbits this evening. We are kept busy with drills, inspections, reviews, &c. [with] hardly any time to spare. We are to have target practice tomorrow and on Friday a sham battle with blank cartridges. These sham battles are exciting, but I like them better than the other kind! . . . . I never [saw] this army in such fine spirits, everything is hopeful and confident since we repulsed them [the Yankees] above Dalton. Trains of pontoon wagons are ready at this place, and we can move rapidly. I anticipate brilliant successes this spring and after a few hard fights a glorious peace.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to his family.

March 24– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “In reply to the resolution of the Senate of the 15th instant, in relation to the establishment of monarchical governments in Central and South America, I transmit a report from the Secretary of State, to whom the subject was referred.” ~ Message from President Lincoln to the Senate. The particular emphasis in this communique is on events in Mexico.

March 24– Thursday– Camp Randolph, Virginia– “Your kind letter . . . I read with pleasure last night and was delighted with the beautiful present sent to me by you and Ada. I was greatly in want of a cravat . . . . I consider them with the tobacco case very fancy don’t you think so? They were greatly admired by all that has seen them. I was not aware that Papa dealt in that kind of good I thought his stock consist of cotton thread buttons & yarn . . . . I am glad to hear that he has a variety and that he is able to please all. I hope Papa May have good luck whilst purchasing his next stock of Goods. Tell Papa that he cannot be to careful while he is in Wilmington [North Carolina]. . . . . Mary, tell Mother that I am out of Socks again you know that I am very hard on my sock always wore thin out at the heel and having no yarn to darn them with, I have to throw them away. I rather expect to get home this Spring and if I should come I will get all such thing as I need.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier John Sibert to his sister Mary Anna. [At this time Wilmington remains a port where successful blockade runners arrive with goods from Europe.]

March 25– Friday– Turkey Run, Virginia– “On Wednesday morning we had about 8 inches of snow on the ground. Yesterday was bright & beautiful. This evening it is raining & has been for several hours & there is not much prospect of it ceasing soon. It is all quiet here. The rebs don’t disturb us any. Our pickets near Bealton pick up one every now and then. I hear that General Grant came down to the Army of Potomac yesterday & as soon as the roads are fit I suppose he will have us on the go again. I sent you today a history of our regiment for its first years operations. I wish you would not let it get destroyed as it will be interesting to look at when I get home. . . . . If we get some more recruits I will get the position in this regiment as the Colonel has as much as promised to use his influence. If our regiment is not recruited up I will have to wait until Dr Hermann is promoted Surgeon to some other regiment. Then I will get his place here. So we must have patience. It is late bedtime & I will not close my letter until morning but go to bed asking the choicest blessing for my wife & family that their lives may be spared & enabled to honor God in all that they do. Good night.” ~ Letter from Union doctor Samuel M. Potter to his wife Cynthia.

March 25– Friday– Camden County, Georgia– “I have sent a letter to Mary to learn more of the Dutch cottage, and what the prospects are for obtaining it. We have not yet a passport for going North and the time is drawing near when we wish to go. Miss Chappelle writes from Columbus [Georgia] that they are nearly destitute, and must, if possible, get North. They will spend a few weeks with Kate which will lighten their trouble in a measure. It takes a long time here to accomplish anything. We are so far away from Everybody and everything. The railroad is about 80 miles distant and it costs a fortune to go anywhere– $30.00 per day for board & $10.00 to stop over night and everything in the same ratio.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.


Federal ships bombard Confederate positions

Federal ships bombard Confederate positions

March 25– Friday– Rockport, Arkansas; Paducah, Kentucky; Dover, Arkansas; McClellansville, South Carolina; White River, Arkansas– Raids, fire fights and brawls. Union forces are on the move at Batesville, Arkansas and Beaufort, North, Carolina.



The Business is Constantly Going On~March 1859~the 7th to 21st

The Business Is Constantly Going On ~ Charleston Mercury

The soldiers, both in blue and in grey in 1864, might look back five years and see some previews of what was to come. Radical abolitionist John Brown has made a name for himself in Kansas, although few, if any, foresee the danger he will pose before the year 1859 is over. Slave holders blame abolitionists for “enticing” slaves to escape. Churches divide on the slavery issue. Some, North and South, support colonization, sending free black people to Africa. Ulysses Grant is a struggling business operator. President Buchanan is unpopular. War looms in Europe. Civil strife divides Mexico.

Other 1859 indicia tell of other coming struggles: the fight for woman suffrage– the New York Times declares that women are not fit to vote– a prison riot, floods, Boston debates Bible reading in the public schools and a member of Congress is involved in scandal.

John Brown, c1846

John Brown, c1846


March 7– Monday– Chicago, Illinois– “When old Captain [John] Brown, of Kansas, heard of the President’s instructions to [Territorial] Governor [Samuel] Medary to offer two hundred and fifty dollars for his apprehension and capture, he [Brown] issued a proclamation offering two dollars and fifty cents for Mr. Buchanan’s head.” ~ Chicago Press and Tribune.

March 8– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Aaron Venable Brown of Tennessee, the United States Postmaster-General in the Cabinet of President Buchanan, dies at 63 years of age. [He was a former Governor of Tennessee, law partner of James K. Polk, a Congressman from 1839 to 1845 and had been appointed to the Cabinet in 1852 as reward for his years of loyal service to the Democratic Party. While in Congress he opposed the anti-slavery arguments of John Quincy Adams. In 1850, he went on public record in opposition to Henry Clay’s compromise, arguing that the South ought not to yield anything to the North and suggested an economic boycott of Northern goods.]

March 8– Tuesday– Tuesday– Charleston, South Carolina– “The Chicago Press and Tribune announces with a shout of exultation, that seventy-five fugitive slaves, from Missouri, passed through Grinnell, Iowa, on the 21st instant, on their way to Canada. They were well provided with weapons to defend themselves against pursuers. The Negros were enticed from Missouri by abolitionists in Kansas, escorted through Nebraska to the Iowa line, and then shipped via the underground railroad to Chicago. The business is constantly going on, many trains of slaves, accompanied by their abolitionist conductors, passing through Iowa without announcement of its arrival. The farmers of Western Missouri feel severely the effect of these depredations, and it is not to be wondered at that they should inflict the most frightful vengeance on their enemies whenever they catch them.” ~ Charleston Mercury.

runaway slaves

runaway slaves

March 8– Tuesday– Provo, Utah– Almost sixteen months after the Mountain Meadows Massacre of a emigrant wagon train, Federal Judge John Cradlebaugh, age 40, convenes a grand jury to pursue indictments against the Mormon men implicated by a federal investigation. [The massacre occurred September 11, 1857 when a group of Mormon militia attacked a wagon train headed for California and killed over 100 people. The ensuing scandal caused a media frenzy. The particulars remain the stuff of on-going historical debate. Ohio-born Cradlebaugh was appointed to the federal bench in June of 1858. The mostly Mormon jurors will refuse to indict any of the accused. Trials of those responsible will not take place until 1875 when a single man, John D Lee, will be convicted and executed.]

March 8– Tuesday– Edinburgh, Scotland– Birth of Kenneth Grahame, author of Wind in the Willows and other children’s literature. [Dies July 6, 1932.]

Kenneth Grahame

Kenneth Grahame

March 9– Wednesday– Springfield, Massachusetts– Birth of Lloyd W Bowers, successful lawyer who will serve as United States Solicitor General under President Taft. [Dies September 9, 1910.]

March 9– Wednesday– Turin, Italy– Anticipating war with Austria, the Kingdom of Piedmont– Sardinia begins to mobilize its army. [In reality, the Piedmont government knows that should Austria invade, France will come to the aid of the Italians. The mobilization is to provoke Austria into taking an aggressive step.]

March 10– Thursday– New York City– Mr John H Latrobe lectures at the Academy of Music on the “Advantages and Necessity of Voluntary Emigration” of free black people to Liberia in West Africa. Latrobe, a wealthy white businessman, age 55, has served as president of the American Colonization Society since 1853. [Founded in 1816, the ACS has raised money, lobbied Congress, helped to found Liberia and generally encouraged free black people to leave the United States. Founding members included James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Francis Scott Key, Daniel Webster and Henry Clay. It is vociferously opposed by black leaders such as Frederick Douglass.]

March 11– Friday– New York City– The New York Times argues that if war indeed does erupt in Europe it can only be an economic benefit to the growing commercial power of the United States.

March 12– Saturday– New York City–In the Tribune, Horace Greeley denounces militarism and preparations of war in Europe and the Americas.

March 12– Saturday– New York City– “The religious newspapers all seem to agree about the recent tragedy in Washington. We have heretofore published the opinions of several of them. The following is the verdict of the New York Observer: The daily press is discussing the right and wrong of the affair, some defending one party and others condemning; but the Christian judgment is, that a scoundrel died like a dog by the hand of a murderer. There is no need of mincing the matter, or writing long columns to determine which was the most guilty. The wretch deserved God’s wrath and curse, and has it. It was not the right of man, even of a wronged and ruined man, to inflict the judgment. But it came, swift, terrible and true. Its lesson will be wholesome.” ~ New York Herald.

Sickles murders Key

Sickles murders Key

March 12– Saturday– St Louis, Missouri– “I can hardly tell how the new business I am engaged in, is going to succeed, but I believe it will be something more than a support. If I find an opportunity next week I will send you some of our cards, which, if you will distribute among such persons as may have business to attend to in the city, such as buying or selling property, collecting either rents or other liabilities, it may prove the means of giving us additional commissions.” ~ Letter from Ulysses S Grant to his father Jesse.

March 12– Saturday– Salt Lake City, Utah– Birth Abraham H Cannon, publisher and leader in the Mormon Church. [Dies July 19, 1896.]

March 13– Sunday– Bonham, Texas– The Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church passes several resolutions against what members perceive as the continued anti-slavery influence in the northern conferences of the Methodist Church. The majority consider the continued presence of preachers from northern conferences as an insult to southern values and the southern way of life.

March 14– Monday– Louisville, Kentucky– “Mr. C. S. Spencer of the New York Assembly, in a speech relating to the ‘personal liberty bill’ now before that body, said he had in his hand a list of fugitives who had gone through Albany between June 1st , 1858, and January 1st 1859, on their way from the slave States to freedom. They were 176 in number– one of them was a slave of a U. S. Senator; one of them was the property of a deacon of a Baptist church in Virginia. This is making pretty fair progress, but does not look like the immediate extinction of slavery. Supposing there were but 3,000,000 slaves in the country one year ago, this leaves a balance of 2,900,824 colored passengers to be provided for, making no allowances for natural increase in the meantime.” ~ Louisville Journal.

March 15– Tuesday– New York City– “A letter from Washington represents Mr. Buchanan as denouncing the Democratic Party in unmeasured terms. He accuses them of having deserted him and left him utterly without the means of carrying on the government. The reproach is not wholly undeserved. Judged by the standard of public duty the Democratic Party has not met the responsibility resting upon it. Being in absolute possession of the Government, it was bound to protect the public welfare: and no consideration of party interest, still less any motive of factious discontent, could release it from this obligation. Upon party grounds, however, the matter rests on a different footing. Mr. Buchanan must be aware that he has given his party every possible provocation for leaving him to his own resources. He has evinced, from the moment of his accession the most sovereign disregard of its principles, its traditions and its interests. He has insulted and estranged all its recognized leaders, turned its platform bottom upwards, and devoted himself to the task of building up a personal faction devoted to himself instead of the party. Such a course deserves but one reward and can have but one result. Any party will in self-defense punish such interested treachery, perpetrated by those whom it has raised to power. The misfortune is that this penalty should be imposed at the expense of the country. For the sake of reaching the President, the Democratic majority in Congress has exposed the whole country to the hazards of disgrace and the certainty of very great inconvenience. How these evils are to be averted remains to be seen.” ~ New York Times.

March 16– Wednesday– Chicago, Illinois– “Seventy years ago the Democrats drew a line around the States, and said to the slave trader, ‘Thus far you may go, but no farther.’ This was the Jeffersonian Proviso. Thirty years ago, they rubbed out part of the line and said to him, ‘You may go into lands South, but not into lands North.’ This was the Missouri Compromise. Five years ago, they rubbed out the rest of the line, and said to him, ‘We will leave it to the settlers to decide whether you shall come in or not.’ This was the Nebraska bill. Now they turn humbly to him, hat in hand, and say, ‘Go where you please; the land is all yours; the National Flag shall protect you, and the National Troops shoot down whoever resists you.’ This is the Dred Scott Decision.” ~ Chicago Press and Tribune.

March 16– Wednesday– Krasnoturyinsk, the Russian Empire– Birth of Alexander Stepanovich Popov, physicist and inventor. [Dies January 13, 1906.]

Alexander Stepanovich Popov

Alexander Stepanovich Popov

March 17– Thursday– San Francisco, California– “It is remarkable that there is so much dispute about President Buchanan’s age. He acknowledges only sixty-eight, which is old enough for a bachelor. But his record carries him back further into the last century. He was a practicing attorney in Kentucky, in the years 1804and 1806, as Senator Crittenden and Chancellor Bibb have stated, and well know. Even the record has been searched and found to corroborate the fact. A fair estimate makes him, however, only seventy-seven years old at the present time.” ~ San Francisco Evening Bulletin. [In fact President Buchanan is indeed weeks away from his 68th birthday. In the years mentioned he was in school in Pennsylvania, his home state. He was only admitted to the practice of law in 1812. By this time he is increasingly unpopular. In the election of 1856, he carried California by only 48.4% of the popular vote, the remainder divided between Fremont, the Republican candidate, and Fillmore, the Whig candidate.]

March 18– Friday– along the Hudson River, New York– South-east winds of gale force augment the normally high spring tides on the Hudson River, flooding docks and damaging the railway track that runs along the riverside. Flooding lasts through Saturday.

March 18– Friday– New York City– On the question of woman suffrage in New York State, “of their capacities after proper training, and of their final political destiny we say nothing. We simply assert that women, as they are, are not fit to vote.” ~ New York Times.

March 18– Friday– Vera Cruz, Mexico– Named as the Conservative president of the Republic, General Miguel Miramon leads the forces of the military junta striving to defeat the constitutional Liberal government of Mexico. Today his forces surround the Liberal capital of Vera Cruz on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. Anticipating just such a move the Liberals sent their women and children away by ship and are prepared to make a determined stand.

March 19– Saturday– Auburn, New York– A riot occurs in Auburn Prison. While suppressing it, Mr Kirkpatrick, the warden, shoots three men.

March 19– Saturday– along the Great Western Railway between Hamborough and Dundas, Ontario, Canada– Heavy rains had washed out a significant segment of the line where fill had been used to cross a ravine, producing a gap at least 300 feet wide and 50 feet deep. When the night express arrives, the locomotive, tender, baggage car, and the first three passenger cars crash into the ravine, taking the lives of seven people.

March 19– Saturday– Paris, France– The opera Faust by Charles Gounod premiers at the Theatre Lyrique. Set in five acts from the Goethe story, the performance is received with relative indifference. [Later the work will gain world-wide popularity.]

Charles Gounod

Charles Gounod

March 21– Monday– Boston, Massachusetts– The School Committee receives a memorandum from the Roman Catholic bishop stating the objections of Catholic parents to the recitations from the Bible in public schools. After some debate, the committee postpones indefinitely any action on the matter.

We Learn From Every Portion~March 1859~the 1st to the 7th

We Learn from Every Portion ~San Francisco Evening Bulletin

Anyone who cared to do so in 1864 could look back a mere five years and see the emerging roots of the civil struggle disrupting the Union. Likewise, any of us today can see in the last years of the antebellum period not only issues around slavery but others which would come to the fore in the 19th and 20th centuries: struggles by “strong-minded” women, the battles over temperance, urban problems with health and crime, Federal budget debates, difficulties in Mexico, debates about states rights and the role of the Federal courts.

March 1– Tuesday– Memphis, Tennessee– Fire breaks out in the basement of the Eagle and Enquirer newspaper on Main Street. The flames quickly spread to other newspaper offices situated in this area and four more are destroyed, including the Presbyterian Sentinel and the Christian Advocate. Several stores also burn. In all, half a city block on the street is burned out with total damages estimated at $150,000. [The damage total would equal $4,270,000 in current dollars using the Consumer Price Index.]

March 2– Wednesday– New York City– In response to “strong-minded” women asserting “self-dependence” the New York Times runs a lengthy article about young women who earn a living making corsets and the hoops to go under the voluminous hoop skirts. “The introduction of hoops into modern fashion has given employment to thousands of girls who were unable to use a needle and who now have become invaluable to their employers in this particular trade. Having this in view we may wish the hoops a long and successful reign.”

the fashionable hoop to be worn under a skirt

the fashionable hoop to be worn under a skirt

March 2– Wednesday– Newark, Ohio– “Philip Barton Key, the victim of the late terrible domestic tragedy in Washington, was the brother of the wife of the Honorable George H Pendleton, of this city, and the son of the immortal author of the Star-spangled Banner. He was, we believe, a married man. His age was about thirty-eight. Mrs. Sickles, whose alleged unfortunate frailty has been the cause of this distressing affair, is possessed of great personal beauty. She is youthful– ‘not being over twenty-one or twenty-two years old’– and has been married about two years. She has been a reigning belle in Washington for the last winter. Mr. Sickles, the member of Congress who killed Mr. Key, represents New York City. He has been re-elected to the next Congress. He was formerly Secretary of Legation in London when President Buchanan was Minister to England, and had been a member of the State Senate in New York. He is a man of much more than ordinary abilities.” ~ Newark Advocate.

March 2– Wednesday– Cedar County, Iowa– “I write to let you know that all is yet well with me, except that I am not very strong. I have something of the ague yet hanging about me. I confidently expect to be able to send you some help about team [of horses or mules], etc., in a very few days. However, if I should be delayed about it longer than I could wish, do not be discouraged. I was much relieved to find on coming here that you had got the draft sent by Mr. Painter. He has been helping me a little . . . . Do not be in haste to buy a team until you can have time to get further word from me. I shall do as fast as I can and may God bless and keep you all!” ~ Letter from John Brown to his wife and children.

March 2– Wednesday– San Francisco, California– “We learn from every portion of the interior that the snow on the mountains is unusually deep, and it is the general impression that if warm weather comes upon us suddenly, with heavy rains, the floods in the valley will do much damage. Cold rains are not to be feared, for they become snow upon the mountains, and have very slight present effect upon our mountain rivers. If the snow does not soon begin to melt gradually, we may be quite sure that a sudden visitation of mild weather, with gentle south winds will bring down a quantity of water that will forcibly remind us of Sacramento floods in the early settlement of this city. Our authorities should have an eye to the signs in the heavens, and if they portend an extraordinary deluge, it will be well for them to make a general call upon the citizens to rally on the line of the levee, and do yeoman service with their picks and shovels.” ~ San Francisco Evening Bulletin.

March 2– Wednesday– Pereyaslav, Russian Empire– Birth of Solomon N Rabinovich, a/k/a Sholem Aleichem, author. [Dies May 13, 1916.]

Sholem Aleichem in 1907

Sholem Aleichem in 1907

March 3– Thursday– Albany, New York– Mary Hartung is sentenced to hang on April 27 for the murder of her husband Emil which she did in 1858 by putting white arsenic in his food and drink.

March 3– Thursday– New York City– In an article about temperance, the New York Times says that however worthy the cause, the failure to achieve the control of the sale and abuse of liquor is because tavern owners have political power at the ballot box while people “who desire to see the law enforced, having only an abstract and general interest in securing that end, devote themselves to fastening the responsibility” for enforcement upon others.

March 3– Thursday– Williamsport, Pennsylvania– The East Baltimore Conference of the Methodist Church opens its meeting with one hundred and sixty clergymen in attendance and Bishop Levi Scott presiding. [Despite regional divisions over the question of slavery, at this time Methodism is the fastest growing religious group in the antebellum United States.]

March 3– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “An imperative sense of duty compels me to make an appeal to Congress to preserve the credit of the country. This is the last day of the present Congress, and no provision has yet been made for the payment of appropriations and to meet the outstanding Treasury notes issued under the authority of law. From the information which has already been communicated to Congress by the Secretary of the Treasury it is manifest that the ordinary receipts into the Treasury, even under the most favorable circumstances, will scarcely meet the ordinary expenses of the Government during the remainder of the present fiscal year, ending on the 30th of June. . . . . Under these circumstances I earnestly recommend to Congress to make provision within the few remaining hours of the session for the preservation of the public credit. The urgency of the case not only justifies but demands that, if necessary, this shall be done by a separate bill. We ought to incur no risk when the good faith of the country is at stake.” ~ Special Message from President Buchanan to Congress.

March 3– Thursday– Hawesville, Kentucky– A mob breaks into the jail and murders a prisoner who was arrested for assaulting the county prosecutor.

March 4– Friday– Batavia, New York– Mr David Curry shoots and kills Mr John Foster, claiming that Foster seduced Mrs Curry and then assaulted Mr Curry. The newspapers immediately draw parallels to the Sickles case in Washington, D.C.

March 4– Friday– Moffett’s Creek, Virginia– “Rejoicing at the reception of your very welcome epistle not long since, conclude to respond without any procrastination, as I was delighted to hear from you a schoolmate & a friend. Oh! it affords inexpressible joy to me, when I get such informative news, from such a kind one, about persons and the vicinity, so much appreciated & admired by one whose memory still points to Christian’s Creek and its noble fascinating commodity, with whom I have long roamed. I have not much of interest to write only I have been on the sick list for some few days & desire your sympathy. Give my respects to Miss Mat and Sister. Sorry to hear that so many ladies are going to get married in that neighborhood, & in fact in all vicinities there is nothing but marrying going on: pity the poor wretches that are left single. Have you any singings in your respective places, like you formerly have had, this winter? I have been in some charming meetings of the kind. I have had a splendid time attending singings this winter in New Port & other places.” ~ Letter to Miss Kate Armentrout from a male admirer.

March 5– Saturday– Beacon Falls, Connecticut– Birth of William F Durand, pioneer in the science oif aeronautics. [Dies August 9, 1958.]

William F Durand

William F Durand

March 5– Saturday– Ripley, Ohio– “Our Army in Utah is costing the country at the rate of nearly five millions of dollars per annum, and is doing no good whatever. It does not even cause Federal authority to be respected within gunshot of the camp. It does not vindicate a single law. Brigham Young is still monarch of the valley; his tyranny has not abated in the least. The Governor sent out to supersede him, is a cipher. The Indians are troublesome as they always have been. The contractors in the transport service are making enormous fortunes, and the Mormons find Camp Floyd a market which is a mine of coined gold to them. And here is the sum total of our Utah expedition. The Federal Judges, unable to enforce the laws, are about to return home.”~ Ripley Bee.

March 5– Saturday– Berne, Switzerland– There have been recent rumors circulating of French military incursions into Swiss territory during the slow build-up to possible war between Austria and France. Today the Swiss government declares that it desires no involvement of any sort in the conflict and says that it will defend both Switzerland’s borders and its neutrality by force of arms should that become necessary.

March 7– Monday– Lowell, Massachusetts– “The unhealthiness of the city of New York is attracting the attention of the legislators at Albany. From the reports published, it appears that New York is one of the most unhealthy cities on the globe, or at least of any of the great capitals of Europe or America. The weekly mortality of Boston appears small in comparison, as some of the wards of New York show nearly as many deaths as this entire city. Week before last 445 deaths occurred in New York, and only 44 in Boston, or one-tenth as many. New York being about four and one-half times larger than Boston, it should have shown (were it equally healthy) only about 200 deaths. In our most sickly seasons, when the deaths in Boston have reached 100 per week, New York has shown 1000 and upwards. Boston had but 17 deaths of Americans one week this month, and its statistics show it to be one of the most healthy places in the world.” ~ Lowell Citizen & News.

March 7– Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Buchanan appoints an experienced diplomat, Robert Milligan McLane of Maryland, as minister plenipotentiary to Mexico. Buchanan charges him with ascertaining if the government of Benito Juarez, embroiled in the War of Reform, is worthy of recognition. His instructions stipulate that a recognizable government does not have to occupy the capital but does require the allegiance of the great majority of the population. McLane, age 43 at the time, a graduate of West Point, Class of 1837, is a lawyer who has served the United States as a diplomat to China and Nicaragua and as a Congressman from Maryland.

Roger Taney

Roger Taney

March 7– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Chief Justice Roger Taney writes for a unanimous court in the case of Ableman v. Booth. Sherman M. Booth, a Wisconsin abolitionist, had helped a runaway slave and was imprisoned under federal law in March, 1854. He had appealed to the Wisconsin state supreme court for a writ of habeas corpus on the grounds that the Fugitive Slave Law was unconstitutional. The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed and nullified the Fugitive Slave Law. Chief Justice Taney rules that the Wisconsin court had no right to nullify federal laws nor to release a federal prisoner. Taney asserts the constitutional supremacy of federal law over state courts and further declares that “we are not willing to be misunderstood, it is proper to say that, in the judgment of this court, the act of Congress commonly called the fugitive slave law is, in all of its provisions, fully authorized by the Constitution of the United States, that the commissioner had lawful authority to issue the warrant and commit the party, and that his proceedings were regular and conformable to law.” [Booth, age 46, will be re-arrested and imprisoned but after 8 failed attempts, friends will break him out of jail. He will die August 10, 1904. Taney, age 82, from a slave-holding Maryland family, author of the infamous opinion in Dred Scott in which he had declared that even free black people had no legal rights, had been appointed Chief Justice by President Andrew Jackson in 1836 after the death of the brilliant John Marshall, a man Jackson hated. Taney will die in the last months of the Civil War on October 12, 1864. Interestingly, during the 1850’s it is a number of Northen states who assert the doctrine of states rights, as in this case, to defy the Fugitive Slave Law which many in the North view as unconstitutional.]

To Resist the Present Rebellion~March 1864~16th to 21st

To Resist the Present Rebellion ~ President Lincoln

Lincoln finds support among Northern workingmen. Women do their part on both sides of the struggle. Alcohol can be problematic for soldiers on leave. The failed Union cavalry raid from the start of the month remains an issue. Inflation and food shortages bother many in the South. The prison camp at Andersonville, Georgia is off to a bad start. Grant re-organizes the Federal command structure. The Danes win a naval battle against the Germans. Darwin finds a strong defender.

March 16– Wednesday– Baltimore, Maryland– Birth of Carrie Bamberger Frank Fuld [dies July 18, 1944], the fifth of the six children of Elkan and Theresa Hutzler Bamberger. Both her parents are Jewish immigrants from Bavaria. [Through her first husband, Louis Meyer Frank, she will have access to a substantial fortune, becoming a well-known philanthropist to benefit Princeton University, Hadassah, the New York Philharmonic, the Newark (New Jersey) Community Chest and various charitable and social service organizations.]

Carrie Bamberger Fuld

Carrie Bamberger Fuld

March 16– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– At the close of the Sanitary Commission Fair here, President Lincoln says, “In this extraordinary war, extraordinary developments have manifested themselves, such as have not been seen in former wars; and among these manifestations nothing has been more remarkable than these fairs for the relief of suffering soldiers and their families. And the chief agents of these fairs are the women of America. I am not accustomed to the use of language of eulogy: I have never studied the art of paying compliments to women; but I must say, that if all that has been said by orators and poets since the creation of the world in praise of women were applied to the women of America, it would not do them justice for their conduct during this war. I will close by saying, God bless the women of America.”

March 16– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln asks General Butler to see about obtaining the return of the body of Colonel Ulric Dahlgren from the Confederates.

March 16– Wednesday– Army of Northern Virginia winter quarters, Virginia– “The pictures came to hand which done me almost as much good as if I had seen you all except you. Some of the pictures are good some not so good but they all suit me. . . . . And as to yourself you look well in the face but form much more delicate than I expected to see. Come up & see us and get some of our good eatings & I think you will improve.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier John Nadenbousch to his wife Hester.

March 16– Wednesday– Andersonville, Georgia– In an attempt to avoid fraternization, guard troops at the prison camp near Andersonville are ordered not to speak with prisoners except on official business.

Andersonville Prison

Andersonville Prison

March 16– Wednesday– Annandale, Virginia; Tullahoma, Tennessee; Palatka, Florida; Santa Rosa, Texas; Bristoe, Station, Virginia– Encounters, affrays and tough scraps.

March 17– Thursday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “On Monday a couple of soldiers, being somewhat intoxicated, were making profane remarks in the presence of ladies on a steamboat that was about leaving the wharf, when the captain of the boat being unable otherwise to preserve order and decorum started towards the Atheneum after a guard. The soldiers anticipating his purpose, are said to have caught hold of the captain and refused to allow him to go and he was compelled to leave with his boat without enjoying the satisfaction of seeing the men arrested. We have lately heard of similar instances of disorder on other steamers running to and from this point.” ~Wheeling Daily Intelligencer

March 17–Thursday– Nashville, Tennessee–In a face-to-face meeting, General Grant promotes William Tecumseh Sherman to head the Military Division of the Mississippi commanding the Department of the Ohio, Department of the Tennessee, Department of the Cumberland and the Department of the Arkansas. Major General James McPherson is promoted to Sherman’s old position as commander of the Army of the Tennessee.

March 17– Thursday– near the Island of Rugen, Baltic Sea– In a brief battle known as the Battle of Jasmund, the Danish navy scores a tactical victory over the German navy. Casualties on both sides are very few in number; however, the Danes force the Germans to pull back.

Battle of Jasmund

Battle of Jasmund

March 18– Friday– New York City– “Bad news for the household of Hamilton Fish. His beautiful daughter, Bessy, who married young d’Hauteville within the year, has died at Marseilles of puerperal convulsion in a premature confinement. God help those who suffer the catastrophe . . . . General Grant seems for the present in command of the Army of the Potomac as General-in-Chief without displacing General Meade. . . . . A terrible ordeal for Grant. His path is whitened by the bones of popular reputations that perished because their defunct owners did not know how to march through Virginia to Richmond. I hope grant may possess the talisman, ‘the seal of Solomon’ that raises its possessor to capacity for his place, however large.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

March 18–Friday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln praises the efforts of northern women to aid the Union cause. Mere words, he says, “would not do them justice for their conduct during this war.”

March 18– Friday– Dalton, Georgia– “All remain quiet beyond Tunnel Hill, and appearances are unfavorable for an engagement at an early day. Division drills are still the order of the day. An interesting revival is going on in the various Methodist churches here.” ~ Brief news update by a reporter for Richmond Times Dispatch.

March 19– Saturday– St Louis, Missouri– Birth of Charles Marian Russell. [He will become a painter and sculptor, doing over 2,000 paintings of the American West. He will die October 24, 1926.]

March 19– Saturday– Eel River, California; Laredo, Texas; Beersheba Springs, Tennessee; along the Cumberland River, Kentucky; Black Bay, Arkansas– Struggles, strife and skirmishes. Federal troops are also on the move at Lexington, Missouri and Rolling Prairie, Arkansas.

March 19–Saturday– London, England–Thomas Henry Huxley, noted British biologist and nicknamed “Darwin’s bulldog,” publishes a brilliant rebuttal to a Mr Hunt who had published a paper claiming that black people were biologically inferior. Huxley proves Hunt is unscientific and affirms the rightness of the Union drive to end slavery.

Thomas Henry Huxley

Thomas Henry Huxley

March 19– Saturday– Bombay, India– Birth of Joseph Baptista, who will become an advocate of Indian home rule. [He will die in 1930.]

Joseph Baptista

Joseph Baptista

March 20– Sunday– Elk River, Tennessee– “The Colonel has been absent some days attending the court-martial in which those guerrillas that were taken at Boone’s Hill are being tried. I understand that some have been convicted of murder and are to be hung. Those men are not soldiers but a band of robbers and murderers. They don’t mind whether a man is a Union man or a Confederate,– if he has money they will take it. They commit crime on the Confederate people and then the Union soldiers are charged with it. I do not intend ever to fall into their hands.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Robert Cruikshank to his wife Mary.

March 20– Sunday– St Louis, Missouri– “A deputation of the citizens presented each soldier with a badge of welcome. We were then marched to a capacious hall where a bountiful feast had been prepared for us. After dinner, we all adjourned to the saloon where all who chose were treated to beer.” ~ Diary of Union soldier Lucius Barber, describing being on furlough.

March 20– Sunday– Camden County, Georgia– “No one but Franky came in to Sunday School. We have been out of meat some days. Live on corn and rice. Yesterday Kate sent us a potato pie, and radishes, such a treat! And one day in the week Mrs. Linn gave us a piece of venison. We have kind and thoughtful neighbors. . . . Gussy has just come with a loaded mule. Goods sent by Julia in exchange for some cast off clothing. For mine she has received $217.00 Confederate money– worth about 5cents on the dollar. Having no opportunity for spending the money I concluded to invest it in land thinking it might become profitable. Sybil has received some . . . cloth for the boys. Once worth from ten to twelve cents a yard– now from six to twelve dollars bringing a calico dress to $100.00, a calico shirt to $40.00. The bubble must burst before long. . . . We want Northern comforts. It is tedious to spend half the time catching fleas and the other half in sleeping and eating hominy and rice. The thought of milk, potatoes and good bread makes us mourn for a return of good times.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

March 20– Sunday– Andersonville, Georgia– At the prisoner of war camp the 15 foot high rectangular log stockade is finally completed. It includes guardposts called “pigeon roosts” along the top, and a low railing 15 feet inside the walls called “the deadline” which no prisoner may cross under penalty of being shot by a guard.

March 21–Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln signs legislation allowing Nevada and Colorado to become states even though they do not meet the population requirements.

March 21– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “The honorary membership in your association, as generously tendered, is gratefully accepted. . . . . None are so deeply interested to resist the present rebellion as the working people. Let them beware of prejudices, working division and hostility among themselves. The most notable feature of a disturbance in your city last summer was the hanging of some working people by other working people. It should never be so. The strongest bond of human sympathy, outside of the family relation, should be one uniting all working people, of all nations, and tongues, and kindreds. Nor should this lead to a war upon property, or the owners of property. Property is the fruit of labor; property is desirable; is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich shows that others may become rich, and, hence, is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him labor diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.”~ President Lincoln’s reply to a committee from the Workingmen’s Association of New York.

March 21– Monday– Augusta County, Virginia– “I saw more men the other day than I ever saw before at one place in my life & I only seen a handful to what you all have seen. I always thought I was intended to be an old Maid but I don’t know the other girls is always quarreling with me about the boys & I tell them that I was intended to be an old maid but I think I will wait till some of them that is older than me gets married first as I’m never in a hurry. . . . Jim, if you want a wife I have been corresponding with a young lady for some time & she wants to marry. If it is your request I will Court her for you & you Can Marry as soon as the war is over. Give my love to Monroe & receive a due portion for yourself.” ~ Letter from Mollie Houser to her cousin James Houser.

March 21– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– “The papers found in Dahlgren’s pockets, which the Yankee papers pronounce forgeries, have been carefully filed at the War Department.” ~ Richmond Whig.

Ulric Dahlgren

Ulric Dahlgren

March 21– Monday– Greenbrier County, Virginia– “I think if our rations get much less, General Starvation will be here also or General ‘Skidaddle’ to a quarter where there is more to eat. . . . . I’m getting awfully tired of this camp, I despise this inactivity. I am tired of the war – I want to fight it out, the sooner we begin this spring the better. We had a grand sight here last night. The mountains around us were literally mountains of fire. It burned all round our cabins– what do you think we did – we just let it burn. I have to reduce myself to half a sheet as paper is scarce just at this time. We can buy nothing here now – nor can we, I suppose until the new money is issued – give my best love to all & write soon, assured that I will do the same.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier James R McCutchan to Rachel Ann McCutchan.

March 21– Monday– Orange County, Virginia– “Like you, I often think of the happy times we had there in our young days, and the scene enacted while riding along the road not far from there, when I asked a blushing girl of fifteen summers to be mine, and she would not consent. . . . we have had many trials since then and a hard road to travel, but that was the last quarrel we had. I often wonder how you ever managed to love me. I was so much older and uglier than you but I suppose a woman can do anything she sets her head to. I was 29 the 18th of this month but the day passed off without my thinking about it– I think and highly hope that this war will end this year, and Oh then what a happy time we will have. No need of writing then but we can talk and talk again, and my boy can talk to me and I will never tire listening to him and he will want to go with me everywhere I go– So, hoping for these good times, let us cheer up and go forth with renewed vigor and energy. Pray for me.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda. [Marion and Amanda married February 26, 1860. She was 16. Marion will die of wounds next year on April 6, 1865. Amanda will remarry in 1873 and live until 1907.]

Feeling Lonely and Discouraged~March 1864~12th to 15th

Feeling Lonely and Discouraged ~Julia Johnson Fischer

March 12– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “In obedience to the resolution of the Senate of the 28th of January last, I communicate herewith a report, with accompanying papers, from the Secretary of the Interior, showing what portion of the appropriations for the colonization of persons of African descent has been expended and the several steps which have been taken for the execution of the acts of Congress on that subject.” ~ Message from President Lincoln to the Senate.


 March 12– Saturday– Orange County, Virginia– “I take the present opportunity to write you a few lines to let you know how I am getting along. I arrived in camp about Seven o’clock in the evening much sooner than I had expected [as] the [railroad] cars made good time. I found the boys in our new camp cabins all complete and comfortable. They moved in them five or six days before I arrived. I found the boys in F [Company] all well and in fine spirits. And about the first question asked after how do you do, how did you enjoy yourself at home, was have you got your old fiddle along. I told them I had I had to get it right out and commence playing right off. We have a stag dance in one of our cabins every night most. It was some fighting going on the day I arrived here [because] the Yankees made a raid for Richmond. I will not attempt to give you a description of the fight as you have got the news in the papers long before this reaches you. Our Brigade had orders to be ready to march at any time but we were not called out. The picket was reinforced.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Adam Kersh to his brother George.

March 12– Saturday– Army of Northern Virginia winter quarters, Virginia– “But when we consider the great duty we owe our country in the struggle for independence, I cannot be but content with my fate, although it be, indeed, a cruel one. I am determined to do anything and everything I can for my country. Should we be so fortunate as to gain our independence, and I am sure we will, and a kind Providence permits me to see it, I shall, of course, expect to enjoy it. And should I fail to do my duty I shall feel that I am not entitled to be a free man. If it should be my misfortune to fall in the glorious struggle, I hope that I shall go believing that I have contributed my mite and that you and my little boy will be entitled to the great boon of freedom.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to his wife in Georgia.

March 12– Saturday– Greeneville, Tennessee– “Dear, I am in the best of health and spirits. I still retain my cheerful manner and look for light out of darkness. I have enjoyed more of the power and joy of religion for several days past than usual. We have very good meetings night and day. We have made considerable improvement in the brigade since Brother Haygood, the missionary to our brigade, has been here. He is a good preacher and a good man. Last Sabbath we had sacrament, we have a good time but when I thought of my dear wife so far away from the sacrament board while I was knelt down by a log away here in East Tennessee. I busted forth in anguish of tears, perhaps some one thought I was a fool but God knows thy grounds and counts thy tears. You cannot imagine with what joy thrilled my heart when you wrote me in your letter that Tommy could almost say his prayers himself. That is right my dear, teach him the good and the right way and all will be well.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier W R Stilwell to his wife.

March 12– Saturday– Chatham, England– Birth of William H R Rivers. [He will become an anthropologist , ethnologist, neurologist and psychiatrist who will gain fame treating the veterans of the First World War who suffer from what is now known as post-traumatic stress disorder. He will die on June 4, 1922.]

Dr William H R Rivers

Dr William H R Rivers

March 13– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– “I rec’d this morning your additional contribution of $5 for the wounded & sick. The same amt from you was also duly & thankfully received last month. It is some time since I have written you. I have lately been down to front a second time through the field hospitals– they are breaking them up & sending the bad cases up here. I suppose preparatory to some movement of course. . . . . I suppose you hear of Grant’s plan to improve enormously the communication between here & the southwest by rail &c. so that he can transport the army by immense trains hither & yon at short notice. They say he has staked all on taking Richmond within three months. God prosper him. Our Virginia Army is in prime condition. This I know from personal observation. All its defeats & slaughters have only hardened it, & made it an army of fighters. I believe Grant realizes in his secret heart that it is the clear superior in fibre & soul of his Western Army, but of course he would not say so.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to a friend, most likely, Moses Lane.

March 13– Sunday– Camden County, Georgia– “The children came from Brookfield and we had our little Sabbath School. They were attentive and learn well. We have had another letter from Augustus which has given us much satisfaction. It is so cheering to get tidings from home. And, one from Fred, who is now in the Florida war. He is seeing hard times. They are fighting with great desperation. Since his letter came they have had another battle. We are all feeling lonely and discouraged again. Mrs Linn is mostly confined to the house and feels that she can hardly bear her secluded life much longer– her husband is in Savannah. Sybil is in great doubts as regards the future. We would all, if we could, spread our wings and fly away to liberty and friends.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fischer.

March 13– Sunday– Spring Hill, Tennessee; Carrollton, Arkansas; Cheek’s Cross Roads, Tennessee; Los Patricios, Texas– Skirmishes and fire fights. Also, Federal troops are on the move around Morristown, Tennessee and Yellville, Arkansas.

March 14– Monday– New York City– “The ladies of the Metropolitan Fair have taken the providing of additional space into their own hands. I saw Mayor Gunther on their behalf Friday morning and he approved a ‘joint resolution’ authorizing a large structure on the north side of Union Square. It was begun this morning.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.


March 14– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “I transmit to Congress a copy of a treaty between the United States and Great Britain for the final settlement of the claims of the Hudson’s Bay and Puget’s Sound Agricultural Companies, concluded on the 1st of July last, the ratifications of which were exchanged in this city on the 5th instant, and recommend an appropriation to carry into effect the first, second, and third articles thereof.” ~ Message to Congress from President Lincoln.

March 14– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “In order to supply the force required to be drafted for the Navy and to provide an adequate reserve force for all contingencies, in addition to the 500,000 men called for February 1, 1864, a call is hereby made and a draft ordered for 200,000 men for the military service (Army, Navy, and Marine Corps) of the United States.” ~ Executive Order issued by President Lincoln.

March 14– Monday– Army of Northern Virginia headquarters, Virginia– “Yesterday evening an order came to our Brigade, stopping all furloughs, until further orders. What gave rise to this order; I’m unable to say positively; but ‘Madam Rumor’ says it is to clear the railroads in order to transport General Longstreet’s Corps to General Johnston. General Longstreet and staff were at Orange Court House a day or two since. I should like very much, for General Longstreet’s command to join General Lee again. I have many friends there. I should like very much to see. If General Longstreet does come here, I shall at once begin to mend my harness, for a trip into Pennsylvania or Ohio. There is only one thought that makes the approaching campaign, appear gloomy, and that is the thought that I will almost entirely be debarred the privilege of hearing from you. Perhaps we may go into Pennsylvania or some other foreign land, and then I know I will not only fail to receive your letters; but be unable to send my own. I will make up for lost time, tho, when I get back into civilization.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee.

March 14– Monday– Simsport; Louisiana; Bent Creek, Tennessee; Claysville, Alabama; Jones County, Mississippi; Hopefield, Arkansas– Fire fights, raids and skirmishes.

March14– Monday– Paris, Francis– Gioachino Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle premieres in the private chapel of Countess Louise de Pillet-Will. The composer is now in his 72nd year.



March 14– Monday– Nanking, China–The Imperial Army begins a siege of the rebel-held city.

March 15– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “The U.S. should not appoint trustees for or in any way take charge of any church as such. If the building is needed for military purposes, take it; if it is not so needed, let its church people have it, dealing with any disloyal people among them, as you deal with other disloyal people.” ~ Message from President Lincoln to Federal authorities in New Orleans, Louisiana, responding to complaints from representatives of St Paul’s Church.

March 15– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “Well, dear mother, I will not write any more on the sick & yet I know you wish to hear about them– every one is so unfeeling, it has got to be an old story– ‘there is no good nursing.’ O I wish you were– or rather women of such qualities as you & Mat were here, in plenty, to be stationed as matrons among the poor sick & wounded men– just to be present would be enough. O what good it would do them. Mother, I feel so sick when I see what kind of people there are among them, with charge over them, so cold & ceremonious, afraid to touch them.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother, Louisa.

Louisa Whitman

Louisa Whitman

March 15– Tuesday– near Cleveland, Tennessee– “We arrived at home this morning before day-light and found our mother and two little brothers well, but they are having a hard time on account of all the robbers plundering them. We learned from our mother [that] Brother Jim called at home a few nights ago while passing with his little band of secret scouts, and he came near being captured at our own house, He was standing in [the] rear of the house talking with our mother in low tone when suddenly the enemy made a rush on the house from different directions, as if they had been lying in wait, and they filled the house, searching every room and closet . . . and at the same time plundering the house of whatever struck their fancy. On their approach Brother Jim dropped back a few steps in the dark and then concealed himself at the corner of the garden fence where he could watch their movements. After they left our mother again came out and found Jim and had some further talk, and he said he could have easily [killed] one or two of the robbers with his revolver and them made his escape, but he feared to do so lest they take revenge by murdering the family and burning the house. He then returned to his comrades who were waiting for him some distance from the house.” ~ Diary of Confederate soldier William Sloan.


March 15– Tuesday– Camden County, Georgia– “Mr. Fisher is 76 years old today. Kate Lang and all the children walked over to see us this morning and settle an affair with the Negroes. Willie Bailey dined with us on rice and hominy. Our pork is gone and there’s no prospect for any meat at present. The pigs fatten too slowly to supply the demand. Mr. Fisher caught a squirrel in a trap which was served for his breakfast. Kate says they are obliged to economize closely at their table. Famine threatens to follow in the wake of the war. Fred writes that he has but one meal a day which he cooks himself and his house suffers for want of food. The Confederates fight like tigers with a yell and a whoop.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fischer.

March 15– Tuesday– Bull’s Gap, Tennessee; Marksville Prairie, Louisiana; Clarendon, Arkansas; Flat Creek Valley, Tennessee– Skirmishes and assorted violence. Federal forces are operating around Alexandria, Louisiana and on the move from Batesville, Arkansas.

The New Deal Begins~March 12, 1933

On March 12, 1933, just days after being sworn-in as President of the United States, in the midst of the Great Depression, Franklin D Roosevelt delivered the first of his radio addresses to the people. These came to be known as the “Fireside Chats.”


Here is the concluding part of that address:

One more point before I close. There will be, of course, some banks unable to reopen without being reorganized. The new law allows the Government to assist in making these reorganizations quickly and effectively and even allows the Government to subscribe to at least a part of new capital which may be required.

I hope you can see from this elemental recital of what your Government is doing that there is nothing complex, or radical, in the process.

We had a bad banking situation. Some of our bankers had shown themselves either incompetent or dishonest in their handling of the people’s funds. They had used the money entrusted to them in speculations and unwise loans. This was, of course, not true in the vast majority of our banks, but it was true in enough of them to shock the people for a time into a sense of insecurity and to put them into a frame of mind where they did not differentiate, but seemed to assume that the acts of a comparative few had tainted them all. It was the Government’s job to straighten out this situation and do it as quickly as possible. And the job is being performed.

I do not promise you that every bank will be reopened or that individual losses will not be suffered, but there will be no losses that possibly could be avoided; and there would have been more and greater losses had we continued to drift. I can even promise you salvation for some at least of the sorely pressed banks. We shall be engaged not merely in reopening sound banks but in the creation of sound banks through reorganization.

It has been wonderful to me to catch the note of confidence from all over the country. I can never be sufficiently grateful to the people for the loyal support they have given me in their acceptance of the judgment that has dictated our course, even though all our processes may not have seemed clear to them.

After all, there is an element in the readjustment of our financial system more important than currency, more important than gold, and that is the confidence of the people. Confidence and courage are the essentials of success in carrying out our plan. You people must have faith; you must not be stampeded by rumors or guesses. Let us unite in banishing fear. We have provided the machinery to restore our financial system; it is up to you to support and make it work. It is your problem no less than it is mine. Together we cannot fail.

Come Out of Washington~March 1864~9th to 11th

Come Out of Washington~ William Tecumseh Sherman to his friend Ulysses S Grant

General William Tecumseh Sherman

General William Tecumseh Sherman

Sherman encourages Grant to get active in the field. Gideon Welles is suitably impressed with Grant. Plenty of fighting and hard times in the Confederacy. The Whitman brothers worry a bit about their mother. Disaster strikes Sheffield, England.

March 9– Wednesday– Staunton, Virginia– “Do try & get some one to do your work. Never mind the cost. I think I will be able to make smart money now & if loose all these we will still have plenty here. Do make yourself comfortable if possible. And if you can’t get along comfortable put some one in the house & come on out to me bring the family & such things as you can work out & come here I can fix you comfortable here. . . . . You must not allow yourself to be imposed upon or suffer exposure there, for the sake of our little property. let it go & you take care of your self & family. I have not yet heard from my resignation but expect to daily, & so soon as it is accepted I will write you and we will try & make some arrangements for our future course I assure you I am sorely tired of this life.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer John Nadenbousch to his wife Hester. [He is in the process of resigning his commission in the Confederate army and trying to set himself up in business. His wife is at their home in Berkeley County which has become part of the state of West Virginia.]

March 9– Wednesday– Athens, Georgia– “We are requested to give notice that the ladies of Athens will give entertainments at the Town Hall on Thursday and Friday evenings next, for the benefit of our soldiers. Tickets can be procured at the Book Store and the Jewelry stores of Mandeville & Bro. and Homer & Co. Doors open at 7 o’clock. The hall will doubtless be crowded.” ~ The Southern Banner.

March 9– Wednesday– dateline: London, England– “The two great German Powers have consented to pause in their career of conquest. After invading and taking possession of the Duchies, and just on the borders of Jutland, they are now reported to have listened to the suggestions of England, and to have consented to another Convention of the Great Powers, to be assembled again in London. Very few intelligent Germans have ever believed that Austria and Prussia were in earnest in this war. The popular impression has been that their extraordinary energy and activity were due quite as much to fear of the National party at home, as to hostility to Denmark. They were forced to a vigorous campaign, in order to retain the leadership of Germany and to keep down the Federalists.” ~ New York Times on the war of Austria and Germany versus Denmark.

General Grant

General Grant

March 10– Thursday– Washington, D. C.– General Grant receives a letter from his old friend, General William Tecumseh Sherman which Sherman wrote several days ago while in field. “You do yourself injustice and too much honor in assigning to us too large a share of the merits which have led to your high advancement. You are now Washington’s legitimate successor, and occupy a position of almost dangerous elevation; but if you can continue as heretofore to be yourself, simple, honest, and unpretending, you will enjoy through life the respect and love of friends, and the homage of millions of human beings who will award to you a large share for securing to them and their descendants a government of law and stability. I believe you are as brave, patriotic, and just, as the great prototype Washington; as unselfish, kind-hearted, and honest, as a man should be; but the chief characteristic in your nature is the simple faith in success you have always manifested. Now to the future. Do not stay in Washington. Come out west; take to yourself the whole Mississippi Valley; let us make it dead-sure, and I will tell you the Atlantic slope and Pacific shores will follow its destiny. For God’s sake and for your country’s sake, come out of Washington!”

March 10– Thursday– Washington, D. C.– President and Mrs Lincoln attend Grover’s Theatre for a performance of Richard III, the last night in a series of Shakespearean dramas featuring Edwin Booth.

March 10– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Mrs. H. L. Know of Mobile Alabama, was brought to this city yesterday under arrest and committed to Castle Thunder as a spy.” ~ Richmond Whig.

March 10– Thursday– Cleveland, Tennessee– How I wish for independence, my spirits feel crushed. In vain I sight for peace and find none. My very soul is depressed and weighed down in the language of our psalmist did when he was oppressed by his enemies, in Psalms 8-9; ‘Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God, defend me from them that rise up against me.’ Judge ___and his lady here tonight. Such a trade of abuse I never heard as he pronounced against our beloved South. Mrs____ said she was truly sorry for the Confederate army. He said they were forced to fight at the point of a bayonet and spoke of them being urged on by a few fanatic demagogues. And denounced the Confederate lying newspaper in the bitterest of terms, how my heart ached for revenge. O, our father, if it is Thy will let us gain our independence. Truly I thought he would spare our feelings, but alas, he bridled not his tongue, neither spared he our feelings. I could only sit and offer up a feeble prayer to God for our deliverance. We are done with peace.” ~ Diary of Myra Adelaide Inman.

March 10– Thursday– Mayfield, Kentucky; Charles Town, West Virginia; White County, Tennessee; Clinton, Kentucky; Kabletown, West Virginia– Raids and skirmishes. Also, Federal troops are moving and scouting around Batesville, Arkansas, and a large Federal force leaves Vicksburg, Mississippi for operations on the Red River in Louisiana.

March 10– Thursday– Munich, Germany– King Maximilian II of Bavaria dies at age 52. He has reigned since March, 1848.

Maximilian II of Bavaria

Maximilian II of Bavaria

March 11– Friday– Brooklyn, New York– “The enclosed $5 is contributed for the wounded men by Moses Lane. I am at a stand to know whether to beg pardon for not writing you before or to scold you for not writing to me. I have been away for nearly three weeks, down in Connecticut making surveys for an ‘Iron Co’ and only returned last Monday night. Since then I have been very much engaged in getting my work up so that I have not, lately, really had an opportunity to write you. . . Mother is not well. I think she has the worst cold that I ever knew of. I wish she could be made to think that she must not wash scrub and clean house. I had quite a time with her this morning about it after exhausting every excuse she said she ‘could not afford to hire it done.’ She is foolishly worrying herself about George– thinking that he does not want her to use so much of his money She says that when he went away he did not say as usual ‘Mammy don’t want for anything.’ If he didn’t God knows he meant it. To me his whole life and actions home seemed to say so. But Mother seems to feel quite bad about it. Several days after he first went away she was either crying or planning how to take ‘boarders’ and make her own living. Poor Mother, how foolish her dear old heart gets sometimes.” ~ Letter from Jeff Whitman to his brother Walt.

Louisa Whitman

Louisa Whitman

March 11– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “A pleasant meeting of the Cabinet, and about the time we had concluded General Grant was announced. He had just returned from a visit to the Army of the Potomac, and appeared to better advantage than when I first saw him, but he is without presence. After a very brief interview, he remarked to the President that he should leave this p.m. for Nashville, to return in about two weeks, and should be glad to see the Secretary of War . . . before he left. There was in his deportment little of the dignity and bearing of the soldier but more of an air of business than his first appearance indicated, but he showed latent power.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

March 11– Friday– Orange County, Virginia– “Furloughing is still a going on. There is two ahead of mine yet so I am still in hopes of getting one before long, we can have the pleasure of talking in place of writing it. It would give me so much more comfort. I have not heard anything about giving up in Virginia. It may be so, but I don’t believe that they are going to do it, for I think if they give up Virginia this cruel war will be over soon.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Jesse Rolston to his wife Mary.

March 11– Friday– Dooly County, Georgia– “Having despaired of seeing you soon, I will no longer delay writing. If you are disappointed in your expectations, I shall be very sorry. You will not be the only one sadly disappointed I assure you. I would like much to see you. This morning I attended the burial of Parson Aldridge. He died the 9th after a lingering illness of three weeks. His demise is much lamented by this vicinity. He was buried with Masonic honors, over at the church. I think there were nearly three hundred people present. Within the last month, death has visited many families in this neighborhood. Dr. Cross has been very sick for a length of time, and now, as he is recovering, the news has come that his son Andrew (who has been a prisoner for eight months in Ohio) is dead. It really seems that he cannot survive this affliction. You doubtless recollect him, he was quite a possessing young man when he left; but death is no respecter of persons. Therefore how important it is for us all to prepare for it, while we are in the enjoyment of good health and surrounded with many, many blessings, how apt we are to forget the God that bless assured how unthankful we are. Consequently sickness & death, are sent upon us to remind us that this earthly home is not our abiding place, but that we should seek a place in heaven.” ~ Letter from Maggie Cone to her sweetheart Alva Spencer.

March 11– Friday– Milledgeville, Georgia– The Honorable Linton Stephens “yesterday introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives, declaring that peace be officially offered to the enemy after every Confederate victory, on the principles of 1776, leaving to each doubtful State the right to decide her association by a fair Convention of the people thereof.”

March 11– Friday– Sumner County, Tennessee– “Yesterday was the day of elections and as only the union men were allowed to vote nobody knows how it turned out nor do they care. Sallie Montgomery rode out this evening, the pickets would not let her pass, so she slipped them as many do. I suppose they are scared again. Perhaps that scamp John Morgan is about. I only hope he is, for we have not seen a rebel for more than a year and our day must come soon.” ~ Diary of Alice Williamson.

remains of the broken Dale Dyke Dam

remains of the broken Dale Dyke Dam

March 11– Friday– Sheffield, England– This evening the new Dale Dyke Dam collapses, sending millions of gallons of water rushing down stream. The dead number 238. Over 700 animals are lost, 130 buildings destroyed, 15 bridges swept away and another 6 bridges are damaged.