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.

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