Left Desolate to Mourn~March, 1864~the 1st to the 4th

Left Desolate to Mourn ~ Sarah Morgan Dawson

Many Southern women experience sadness, mourning, loneliness and deprivations of many kinds. The Federal cavalry raid against Richmond goes terribly wrong and a brilliant young officer dies. The prison camp at Andersonville, Georgia, begins operations with many problems, ill omens of things to come. Senator Sumner agitates for the civil rights of African Americans. President reveals many sides of himself. Whitman misses his family and continues to feel called to his work.

March– Boston Massachusetts– This month’s issue of the Atlantic Monthly contains articles and stories by Edward Everett Hale, Bayard Taylor, Robert Dale Owen, Harriet Beecher Stowe and David Atwood Wasson as well as poems by John Greenleaf Whittier, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., and Alice Cary.

March 1– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “A poor widow, by the name of Baird, has a son in the army, that for some offence has been sentenced to serve a long time without pay, or at most with very little pay. I do not like this punishment of withholding pay– it falls so very hard upon poor families. After he had been serving in this way for several months, at the tearful appeal of the poor mother, I made a direction that he be allowed to enlist for a new term, on the same condition as others. She now comes, and says she cannot get it acted upon. Please do it.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.

March 1– Tuesday– Augusta County, Virginia– “A cold NE rain all day & it froze on the trees. Working & reading. A little Snow.” ~ Diary of Francis McFarland.

March 1– Tuesday– near Richmond, Virginia– The Federal cavalry raid against the Confederate capital falters as troops under Colonel Ulric Dahlgren realize that the force supposed to meet them has pulled back. Dahlgren and his 500 troopers retreat northeastward in a moonless, rainy night.

March 1– Tuesday– near Stephensburg, Virginia– “I further think that till that time this rebellion will be crushed; No doubt it will cost a great many lives. We all have our risk to run but thanks to God He is able to provide and protect all those that place their trust in Him. . . . . If the weather was only favorable we might knock out some of his [Confederate General Robert E Lee] props for I think that the rebellion is like some old house propped up and I think we will soon knock out some of the main props. May God speed the day that peace may again be declared and we can all return home.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Franklin Rosenbery to his father John.

March 1– Tuesday– Andersonville, Georgia– The quartermaster at the prisoner-of-war camp reports that the stockade is nearly finished but supplies are still sorely lacking.

March 1– Tuesday– New Orleans, Louisiana– “Dead! Dead! Both dead! O my brothers [George & Gibbes]! What have we lived for except you? We, who would have so gladly laid down our lives for yours, are left desolate to mourn over all we loved and hoped for, weak and helpless; while you, so strong, noble, and brave, have gone before us without a murmur. God knows best. But it is hard– O so hard! to give them up.” ~ Diary of Sarah Morgan Dawson. [She makes no more entries in her diary until November, 1864.]

Sarah Morgan Dawson

Sarah Morgan Dawson

March 2– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.–The Senate confirms Ulysses S. Grant as Lieutenant General.

March 2– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln, while sitting for Francis B. Carpenter who is doing a painting the President and his Cabinet, recites from memory the soliloquy of the ghost, Hamlet’s father, in Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 5.

March 2– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “The report made by Senator [Charles] Sumner [of Massachusetts] to-day, from the Committee on Slavery and Freedmen, in the bill to secure equality before the law in the courts of the United States, reviews the history of our jurisprudence in respect to the exclusion of colored testimony in the courts, and examines the laws in the several States relative to this subject. . . . Senator Sumner having yesterday made a report from the Select Committee on Slavery on the treatment of freedmen, and proposing to repeal all Fugitive Slave Laws, Senator [Charles] Buckalew [of Pennsylvania] to-day, in behalf of himself and Senator [John] Carlile [of Virginia, representing the pro-Union ‘Restored Government’ and himself a slave-owner], presented their views as those of the minority. They take the position that . . . the power to enforce the right of reclamation must exist in the Government of the United States, or it can exist nowhere as against a State. Second, the several decisions of the Supreme Court affirming the law of Congress in relation to fugitives are cited, and the points made in the majority report are reviewed. It is objected to the proposed repeal, that it is against the existing right of many citizens of the United States; that instead of being a measure hostile to the rebellion, its practical effect would fall upon loyal citizens in the Border States, and the tendency of these laws to prevent the passage of Negroes into loyal States is productive of obvious social evils.” ~ Article prepared by a reporter for the New York Times.

Charles Sumner

Charles Sumner

March 2– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Dear mother, I want to see you & Sis, & Mat & all very much– if I can get a chance I think I shall come home for a while. I want to try to bring out a book of poems, a new one to be called ‘Drum Taps’ & I want to come to New York for that purpose too. Mother, I haven’t given up the project of lecturing either but whatever I do, I shall for the main thing devote myself for years to come to these wounded & sick, what little I can.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa.

March 2– Wednesday– Wessyngton, Tennessee– “Monday morning about twelve o’clock, 4 Federal soldiers and four Negroes,viz., Sam, LeRoy, Mano & Simpson came to the Dortch place with a four mule wagon and took Fanny, Isabella & her child & Sarah Jane and announced that all who wished might go and Allen and Martha Lewis, Austin Harrison, Joe, Merideth, Big John & Tom White (eleven in all) went with them. They took their beds & bedding—got their dinner at the kitchen and took a shoulder of meat. They put up and fed their mules and said as one of theirs was lame, they wanted another and the white men went into the stable and picked out Sampson’s . . . mule Joe, a black mule and hitched him to a wagon and tied their own behind. I sent to Bunch for a guard that night he promptly sent down two men & Mr. Woods coming about 5 o’clock we felt pretty safe. He and Grandville watched nearly all night but there was no one here. I wrote to Dick requesting him to get Bunch to go in pursuit of them as I wished to recover the mule . . . and also wished to have those white men punished for I thought they must be acting without authority, but as I have heard nothing from Springfield today fear they did not accomplish anything. I hope you will approve of all I have done. I acted as I thought was right. . . . . The children are all well and send love to Pa, and I wish I could give you one good squeeze this very minute.” ~ Letter from Jane Washington to her husband.

March 2– Wednesday– Mantapike Hill, Virginia– Federal cavalry troopers under Ulric Dahlgren are ambushed. Dahlgren, a month away from his 22nd birthday, is killed and over 100 of his men are captured.

Ulric Dahlgren

Ulric Dahlgren

March 2– Wednesday– Paris, France– Jean Alaux, a painter whose art depicted scenes from French history and who served as Director of the French Academy in Rome from 1846 to 1852, dies at age 79.

March 2– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Pat Hackett, an employee at the Tredegar Works, was badly crushed on Monday about five o’clock, by the falling of a cannon which he was assisting to put on a carriage. His right arm and leg were broken.” ~ Richmond Whig

March 2– Wednesday– Wilkes County, Georgia– “We left Pine Bluff at eleven o’clock and reached the Blue Spring in time for lunch. Albert Bacon and Jimmy Chiles were there to meet us. Hang a petticoat on a bean pole and carry it where you will, Jimmy will follow. The river is so high that its muddy waters have backed up into the spring and destroyed its beauty, but we enjoyed the glorious flowers that bloom around it, and saw some brilliant birds of a kind that were new to me. Mr. Bacon said he would kill one and give me to trim my hat.” ~ Diary of Eliza Frances Andrews.

March 3– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln receives a report that the state of Maine Legislature has adopted resolutions in support of his re-election and to continue the present administration.

March 3– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Bright and frosty. Confused accounts of the raid in the morning papers. During the day it was reported that Colonel Johnson’s forces had been cut up this morning by superior numbers, and that Butler was advancing up the Peninsula with 15,000 men. The tocsin was sounded in the afternoon, and the militia called out; every available man being summoned to the field for the defense of the city. The opinion prevails that the plan to liberate the prisoners and capture Richmond is not fully developed yet, nor abandoned. My only apprehension is that while our troops may be engaged in one direction, a detachment of the enemy may rush in from the opposite quarter. But the attempt must fail. There is much excitement, but no alarm. It is rather eagerness to meet the foe, and a desire that he may come.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

March 3– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Negroes Captured from the Yankee Riders. Hendley Mitchel, Junius Mangrain and Joe Havley, free Negroes, and James, slave of Mrs. Land, of Hanover, George, slave of Mrs. Emily Shelton, of Goochland, and Renty, slave of Colonel Edmund Fontaine, of Louisa, all of whom were recaptured from the Yankee raiders on the Chickahominy by Major Robins’ battalion, were brought to this city and lodged in Castle Thunder yesterday.” ~ Richmond Whig.

March 3– Thursday– Andersonville, Georgia– With the stockade near Andersonville still unfinished and the post unable to buy heavy equipment, the quartermaster authorizes the sheriff of Lee County to impress four mule driven wagons for use at the prison camp.

March 3– Thursday– Liverpool, Mississippi; Jackson, Louisiana; Petersburg, West Virginia; Brownsville, Mississippi; and near Baton Rouge, Louisiana– Armed contests, struggle, strife and combative affairs.

March 4– Friday– Washington, D.C.– Admiral John Dahlgren, age 53, calls on President Lincoln, seeking information about his son, Colonel Ulric Dahlgren. Neither the President nor the War Department yet knows that the young man is dead.

March 4– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “A pleasant Cabinet-meeting. Chase and Blair both absent. Seward and Stanton had a corner chat and laugh about Chase, whose name occasionally escaped them, and whom they appeared to think in a dilemma, and they were evidently not unwilling we should know the subject of their conversation. I could not avoid hearing some of their remarks, though I changed my position to escape them.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

March 4– Friday– Louisa County, Virginia– Birth of David W. Taylor. [He will graduate from the Naval Academy at Anapolis, Maryland and become an admiral and naval architect. He will die July 28, 1940.]

David W Taylor

David W Taylor

March 4– Friday– Shelby County, Tennessee– “I do wish Nonconnah [creek] would fall, and let a visitor from Memphis return home, for I am always in an ill humor when she is about. Tate and Helen went over to see Missie Morgan this evening. I have been in Tate’s room all day busy sewing– almost finished my dress– Mr. Hildebrand was here today, brought nothing later from Dixie– nor have we heard anything today. I wish one of the scouts would come, and bring us some news. It has been very cloudy and disagreeable all day, this evening we had quite a storm. I received today another batch of letters from Dixie, to be mailed in Memphis for Yankee land. Decatur told us Gen. Armstrong had been ordered to Miss. he has taken Mariah to Mobile to be confined, poor girl I pity her, no Mother or relation to be with her. Laura as usual nodding, and I feel all alone. Beulah and Tippie Dora also enjoying their nap. I feel real sick tonight oh! I am so lonely– what is to be my fate-oh! God shield me, have I not suffered enough– make my future bright!” ~ Diary of Belle Edmondson.

March 4– Friday– Andersonville, Georgia– Problems with the new prisoner of war camp near Andersonville began early. With the refusal of most local plantation owners to donate slave labor to Camp Sumter, Post Commander Alexander W. Persons orders that prisoners be recruited to finish building the post, and directs officers to provide enough men to bury the dead daily.



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