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.



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