Monthly Archives: April 2014

Express My Entire Satisfaction~April 1864~28th to 30th

Express My Entire Satisfaction ~ President Lincoln to General Grant

Lincoln and Union soldiers and civilians feel confident in General Grant. Even as he suffers a personal loss, Jeff Davis feels confident in General Lee, a confidence shared especially by his soldiers. British soldiers suffer a defeat in New Zealand. The New York Times praises Russia. And at a small battle in Arkansas the rebels suffer the first but not the last stroke of retribution for the atrocity at Fort Pillow.

April 28– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “I thought I would write you just a line, though I have nothing of importance– only the talk of the street here seems more & more to assert that Burnside’s army is to remain near here to protect Washington & act as a reserve, so that Grant can move the Army of the Potomac upon Richmond, without being compelled to turn & be anxious about the Capital– also that Burnside can attend to Lee if the latter should send any force up west of here, (what they call the valley of the Shenandoah) or invade Pennsylvania again. I thought you would like to hear this– it looks plausible, but there are lots of rumors of all kinds. I cannot hear where Burnside’s army is as they don’t allow the papers to print army movements but I fancy they are very near Washington, the other side of Arlington heights, this moment.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

April 28– Thursday– Augusta County, Virginia– “I haven’t any news that would interest you we have had a great deal of bad weather this spring but the last week has been most beautiful. I am in hopes that we will have fine crops this year for the failure of the crops here last year has caused a great scarcity. Cousin I so seldom write a letter that I am alas out of practice & have no news but war news & I have gotten so tired of that I hate to hear of it unless their should be peace & then I would not care how much they would talk then. We still have a wedding in the neighborhood once & awhile. I suppose the girls have come to the conclusion that the war lasts so long that they will be old maids & they had better get married when they can. . . . I hope you will pardon me for not writing sooner please write soon & give me all the news & tell me whether any of your friends were killed or wounded in the battle out there. We are expecting a large fight to come off in the valley & I dread it very much.” ~ Letter from Kit Hanger to her cousin, Julia Houser. [Apparently, Kit (a/k/a Katherine) herself married a year or so before the war started and is now about 27 or 28 years old.]

April 28– Thursday– Camden County, Georgia– “Summer is here in earnest. Thermometer at 90 in the shade. Major B was over this morning cow hunting. . . . Mrs Bailey sent us some pork and peas and a saucer of butter. We are living very well.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

April 29– Friday– New York City– “Sat between Mrs Cunard and Mrs Camilla Hoyt. That lady grows stouter than is becoming, but her face is among the most splendid specimens of physical beauty– for form and color– I have ever seen.”~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

George Templeton Strong

George Templeton Strong

April 29– Friday– Sandusky, Ohio– “We see no bud nor blossom, though in South the trees are visible only in the distance. I think with a sigh of the fragrance of locust blossoms that now fills the air around you. It would be pleasant to share that breath of Spring with you, but I am glad the trees blossom and the flowers grow for you, if not for me. Who knows? Perhaps I may yet see you ere the Spring be gone. For the newspapers, North and South, seem to think the cartel [program of prisoner exchange] resumed. Please remember me to my friends. With affection undiminished by absence and trial, my dear.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Henry McDaniel, captured at Gettysburg last July and in a prison camp, to his wife Hester at home in Georgia.

April 29– Friday– Bristoe Station, Virginia– “I thought I would write you a word to say that I am perfectly well and hearty. We arrived here last night about dark, and are going to fall in, in a few minutes to move on towards Warrenton I believe. I hear that Grant has issued an order, that no letters will be allowed to be sent from this army for the next Sixty days. If that is the case Walt you must tell Mother not to feel the least bit worried if she does not hear from me in some time. . . . I can tell you nothing about the army, more than you already know everyone seems to be in good spirits and hopeful.” ~ Letter from George Whitman to his brother Walt.

April 29– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– Government agents cause considerable stir as they impress a significant number of horses for use by General Lee’s troops.

April 29– Friday– Orange County, Virginia– “General R.E. Lee reviewed our corps today. There was some ten or twelve thousand men in the field. Oh, if you could have seen it, I would have been so glad and I know that if you had of seen it, I could have seen you and that would have done me more good than a hundred reviews.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier W R Stilwell to his wife Molly.

General Robert E Lee

General Robert E Lee

April 29– Friday– Camden County, Georgia– “Fred came again unexpectedly. Has four days furlough. The orders for going to Savannah were countermanded. Our little pig is gone and we are again without meat, but having milk and occasionally a dish of greens. Sybil goes to Mrs. Lynn’s every morning to dress the baby. We fancy that he does not breathe just right and feel a little disturbed about him. Mrs. Lynn is doing very well.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

April 29– Friday– Ringgold, Georgia; Grand Encore, Louisiana; Saline Bottom, Arkansas; Sni Hills, Missouri; Berry County, Tennessee– Fire fights and brawls aplenty.

April 29– Friday– Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada– Abraham Pineo Gesner, physician, surgeon, geologist, and inventor of kerosene, dies at 66 years of age.

April 29– Friday– Versailles, France– Charles Julien Brianchon, mathematician, chemist and creator of Brianchon’s theorem in geometry (1810), dies at 80 years of age.

April 29– Friday– Gate Pa, New Zealand–A British force of 1700 prepares to assault a palisade defended by 230 Maori warriors. A heavy bombardment by 17 British artillery pieces begins at daybreak, continuing for eight hours. By mid afternoon the palisade looks as if it had been demolished and there is a large breach in the center. At 4 p.m. the artillery barrage lifts and 300 soldiers go up to capture and secure the position. Within ten minutes over a hundred of them are dead or wounded. The remainder fall back. The British make no second assault. During the night the Maori give assistance to the wounded and collect their weapons. By daybreak they abandon the position. This is the single most devastating defeat suffered by the British forces in the whole of the Maori Wars.

Gate Pa, New Zealand~after the battle

Gate Pa, New Zealand~after the battle

April 30– Saturday– Albany, New York– New York becomes the first state to charge a hunting license fee.

April 30– Saturday– New York City– “Russia is now the leader in social advancement in Eastern Europe. She is stronger in the true union of all classes than ever before. Her population, as they each day enjoy the freer institutions conferred upon them, and become more intelligent under the influence of a constitutional government, will produce more and become richer. The Emperor is more firmly seated by these wise reforms than he has been in the past. Year after year he must be moved on by the great wave of popular progress which he has admitted within the limits of his kingdom. He cannot withdraw (if he would) from reform. The great wound in the side of the nation – their weakest point, Poland – is more than half-cured by the measures of emancipation now inaugurated there. On the whole, we look upon Russia at this time as stronger than she has been during any year since 1815. But her strength is on the side of civilization, not against it; and even these irritating and exciting celebrations, we believe, will lead to no necessary struggle between her power and that of Eastern Europe.” ~ New York Times, commenting about the 50th anniversary celebrations in Russia to mark the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte as the European allies reached Paris.

April 30– Saturday– New York City– “No news from Virginia. Our Sanitary Commission Relief Corps is largely strengthened and we are making heavy purchases of supplies. The collision must come soon. It will be nearly decisive. I fear it will be fatal. God help us!” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

April 30– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “Not expecting to see you before the spring campaign opens, I wish to express in this way my entire satisfaction with what you have done up to this time, so far as I understand it. The particulars of your plans I neither know nor seek to know. You are vigilant and self-reliant; and, pleased with this, I wish not to obtrude any restraints or constraints upon you. While I am very anxious that any great disaster or capture of our men in great number shall be avoided, I know that these points are less likely to escape your attention than they would be mine. If there be anything wanting which is within my power to give, do not fail to let me know it. And now, with a brave army and a just cause, may God sustain you.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln to General Ulysses S Grant.

April 30–Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– Confederate President Jeff Davis orders the Confederate Army to return fugitive slaves to their owners. On this same day President Davis’ son Joe dies from injuries sustained in a fall at the Confederate White House.

April 30– Saturday– Jenkins Ferry, Arkansas– In a bloody day long battle the Confederates win a tactical victory but at a high price. Total Confederate casualties are approximately 1,000 and Federal casualties approximately 700. In retaliation for the atrocities at Fort Pillow and Poison Spring, black soldiers kill Confederates who try to surrender.

United States Colored Troops

United States Colored Troops



Young American Men of Decent Breeding~April 1864~26th to 28th

Young American Men of Decent Breeding~Walt Whitman

In letters to his mother and his friends, Whitman describes the young soldiers coming to serve under General Grant and those whom he nurses in hospitals. The investigation into the Fort Pillow atrocity continues. Conditions worsen at Andersonville, Georgia. Soldiers on both sides prepare for hard fighting which will be worse than they realize.

Officers raise a glass to salute fallen comrades

Officers raise a glass to salute fallen comrades

April 26– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “Burnside’s army passed through here yesterday. I saw [my brother] George & walked with him in the regiment for some distance & had quite a talk– he is very well, he is very much tanned & looks hardy, I told him all the latest news from home. George stands it very well, & looks & behaves the same good & noble fellow he always was & always will be. . . . there were I should think five very full regiments of new black troops under General Ferrero, they looked & marched very well . . . . I . . . don’t know what news, only that there is without doubt to be a terrible campaign here in Virginia this summer, & that all who know deepest about it, are very serious about it. Mother, it is serious times. I do not feel to fret or whimper, but in my heart & soul about our country, the army, the forthcoming campaign with all its vicissitudes & the wounded & slain– I dare say, Mother, I feel the reality more than some because I [am] in the midst of its saddest results so much. Others may say what they like, I believe in Grant & in Lincoln too. I think Grant deserves to be trusted, he is working continually– no one knows his plans, we will only know them when he puts them in operation. Our Army is very large here in Virginia this spring & they are still pouring in from east & west– you don’t see about it in the papers, but we have very large army here.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa.

April 26– Tuesday– Camp Sedgwick, Virginia– “We are getting ready to move and fighting will begin soon. I hope General Grant will be as successful in the East as in the West. . . . I want to see the end of the war as I saw the beginning.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

April 26– Tuesday– near Alexandria, Virginia– “The weather was very warm which made marching rather disagreeable. Especially when a person has a heavy load to carry. Our recruits started out with knapsack packed to their utmost capacity but soon found that to get along it would be necessary to dispense with everything but what they could not possibly do without. So the consequence was the roadside for many miles was strewn with coats, blankets, pants, shirts and every article of clothing and many time the whole knapsack was thrown aside and left men preferring to lose everything rather than be left laying behind.Yesterday we came through Washington City and was reviewed by President Lincoln, General Burnside, with many more of the distinguished men of the city. The corps numbered not far from forty thousand men. They made quite a grand display. It appeared that everybody was in the sidewalks and many times as we would pass crowds they would cheer our ‘old battle-scarred banner’ and showed in many ways their respect for the men that was defending their countries [sic] honor.” ~ Letter from Union officer Joseph W Allen to his father.


Federal gunboats prepare for operations

Federal gunboats prepare for operations

April 26– Tuesday– Orange County, Virginia– “We are now having fine weather & expect to have active operations in a few days. Grant still employs himself in reviews & changing his camps – he has also been digging some entrenchments this side of Culpeper Court House on Mrs Green’s land. The grass here is quite green & our horses are doing very well – picking up after the hard winter they have passed through most of them are quite thin & look badly. I have been much pleased listening to the songs of a mocking bird that sings every morning at my window & calls around him all the varieties of birds that frequent the place by imitating their notes & ‘calls’ – it is quite amusing to see a bird come flying up to answer the love call of its mate & as suddenly turn & dart off at a note of alarm seeming to come from an enemy. The bird is a very plain looking one, but certainly quite wonderful. . . . How cheeringly every thing goes on this Spring – we seem to be favored in everything and if we can only whip the Army of the Potomac I think we shall be in a fair way to secure peace by the close of the year. . . . we are enjoying the butter & pickles very much. How comes on the garden – the stock &c & & especially how comes on my dear little wife & my two babies? Heaven bless them. It almost made me homesick last Sunday to think that I was so far from home. . . . Be sure & write to me often & tell me if there is anything you want & how you get along. I am so sorry I have to leave you thus all alone – but our God will protect.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Jedediah Hotchkiss to his wife Sara.

April 26– Tuesday– Memphis, Tennessee– “I wish to state that one section of Company D, Second U. S. Light Artillery (colored), 1 commissioned officer and 40 men, were sent to Fort Pillow about February 15, as part of the garrison. The garrison at Fort Pillow, by last reports received, consisted of the First Battalion, Sixth U.S. Heavy Artillery (colored), 8 commissioned officers and 213 enlisted men; one section Company D, Second U.S. Light Artillery (colored). I commissioned officer and 40 men; First Battalion, Thirteenth Tennessee Cavalry, Maj. W. F. Bradford, 10 commissioned officers and 285 enlisted men. Total white troops, 295; total colored troops, 262; grand total, 557. Six field pieces– two 6-pounders, two 12-pounder howitzers, and two 10-pounder Parrotts.” ~ Report of Colonel Thomas H. Harris.


Fort Pillow as it looks today

Fort Pillow as it looks today

April 26– Tuesday– Jackson, Tennessee– In his official report Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest says not a word about atrocities at Fort Pillow, neither confirming nor denying the events. He concludes his report by saying, “In closing my report I desire to acknowledge the prompt and energetic action of Brigadier-General Chalmers, commanding the forces around Fort Pillow. His faithful execution of all movements necessary to the successful accomplishment of the object of the expedition entitles him to special mention. He has reason to be proud of the conduct of the officers and men of his command for their gallantry and courage in assaulting and carrying the enemy’s work without the assistance of artillery or bayonets. To my staff, as heretofore, my acknowledgments are due for their prompt and faithful delivery of all orders.”

April 26– Tuesday– Andersonville, Georgia– The Chief Surgeon at Camp Sumter (Andersonville prison) notifies the Confederate Surgeon General in Richmond that 718 of the 2,697 patients in the prison hospital have died, primarily because of poor natural resources and a lack of supplies.

April 26– Tuesday– Alexandria, Louisiana; Winchester, Virginia; near McNutt’s Hill, Louisiana; Wayne County, Missouri; Berwick, Louisiana; Little Rock, Arkansas; along the Watauga River, Tennessee; Deloach’s Bluff, Louisiana– Run-ins, showdowns and general ruckus. In addition, Federal troops are probing from Jacksonville toward Lake Monroe, Florida.

soldiers at a signal station

soldiers at a signal station

April 27– Wednesday– New York City– “J. J. Post duly married at Trinity Chapel to a Miss [Lucrie F] Mahony, only child of a rich retired merchant . . . . a remarkably pretty little blonde girl of twenty. This is an age of signs and wonders. He is much more than a quarter of a century her senior and among the most peculiar of human beings. I wish them both all health and felicity , but unless the young lady possess uncommon tact and be among the best and most unselfish of women, she will have a troublesome time.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

April 27– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln confers with former Congressman Albert Gallatin Riddle of Ohio, who is preparing to assume his duties as United States consul at Mantazas, Cuba. [Riddle, age 48, lawyer, author, orator, congressman, gained fame in abolitionist circles for representing the students and faculty involved in snatching away a captured fugitive slave in the famous Oberlin-Wellington rescue. He will later argue that the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution empowered women to vote. See, The Town That Started the Civil War by Nat Brandt (1990), pp 151-156, and Riddle’s own Recollections of War Times (1895).]

April 27– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “I forget whether I wrote to you acknowledging the receipt of the $10 sent for the wounded & sick, 1st February. It came safe– also the $5 you sent some ten days since. My dear sir, your contributions are very, very welcome– they go to the direct sustenance, cheer, & comfort of special cases of wounded & sick. I have now been over a year among the wounded. I find that personal application, tact, & insight, with entire sympathy, are the only means effectual in hospitals– every case wants some peculiar adaptation– to some, some little article purchased– many the tender hand & word, oft repeated, never slacking up, till danger is past. Some, while prostrated, are out of money, & too proud to speak of it, to these a little gift of two or three cents to some a little tobacco is a great treasure. Any thing like beggars or deceivers, are very rare– indeed I don’t meet one a fortnight. The soldiers are nearly altogether young American men of decent breeding, farmers’ sons ordinarily educated, but well behaved & their young hearts full of manliness & candor. Their condition makes deepest attachments under their sufferings & wounds often brought right to the bitterness of death. Some, indeed, one feels to love deeply, & they return it with interest.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to James P Kirkwood.

April 27– Wednesday– Sumner County, Tennessee– “Sis has just come from Mrs. Lane’s: while there she visited the grave of the stranger soldier who was shot Friday. The Yankees took his coat and boots off and put him in the grave without coffin or wrappings of any kind.” ~ Diary of Alice Williamson.

April 27– Wednesday– Dalton, Georgia– “I am tolerable well at this time, hoping those few lines may come safe to your hands in due time and find you all well. . . . I don’t see any chance for me to get to come home. You must do the best you can and take good care of yourself. I don’t want you to work any at all. The children can do all that is to do. I think my children is too smart to let their mother do the work. . . . I do want to see you all mighty bad.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to his wife.


April 27– Wednesday– Camden County, Georgia– “We went over to Kate’s for the mail. Found her sitting on the front steps, dressed in her new calico and knitting. She looked very smiling and soon told us that she and the Major were married on the previous evening. There was not time to send to us or we should have been summoned. Mr. Bullock, the minister, came at night while she was milking. The Major had been off all day cow hunting– after supper the Major brushed his hair, Kate put on her new calico, the Negroes all gathered about the doors and the knot was tied. . . . Kate loaded us down with flowers and radishes and we trotted home full of curious emotions, hardly describable.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher

April 27– Wednesday– Decatur, Alabama; Taylor’s Ridge, Georgia; Troublesome Creek, Kentucky; Dayton, Missouri; Masonborough Inlet, North Carolina– Raids, skirmishes and general to-dos.


newspaper reporters in the field

newspaper reporters in the field

April 28– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “I have the honor to transmit herewith an address to the President of the United States, and through him to both Houses of Congress, on the condition and wants of the people of east Tennessee, and asking their attention to the necessity of some action on the part of the Government for their relief, and which address is presented by a committee of an organization called ‘The East Tennessee Relief Association.’ Deeply commiserating the condition of these most loyal and suffering people, I am unprepared to make any specific recommendation for their relief. The military is doing and will continue to do the best for them within its power. Their address represents that the construction of direct railroad communication between Knoxville and Cincinnati by way of central Kentucky would be of great consequence in the present emergency. It may be remembered that in the annual message of December, 1861, such railroad construction was recommended. I now add that, with the hearty concurrence of Congress, I would yet be pleased to construct a road, both for the relief of these people and for its continuing military importance.” ~ Message from President Lincoln to Congress.

Breaking Barriers~75 Years of Wild Women

This April marks the 75th anniversary of the women’s magazine Glamour. The magazine published a list in its April issue of 75 women they picked as “a highly selective list of bad-ass U.S. barrier-breakers who changed the world for all of us.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt

From their list I would select, in no particular order: 1) Hattie McDaniel, 2) Dorothea Lange, 3) Georgia O’Keffee, 4) Margaret Sanger, 5) Billie Holiday, 6) Eleanor Roosevelt, 7) Dolores Huerta, 8) Hedy Lamarr, 9) Flannery O’Connor, 10) Audrey Hepburn, 11) Serena Williams, 12) Rosa Parks, 13) Harper Lee, 14) Wilma Rudolph, 15) Rita Moreno, 16) Rachel Carson, 17) Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, 18) Julia Child, 19) Aretha Franklin, 20) Betty Friedan, 21) Katherine Graham, 22) Carol Burnett, 23) Maya Angelou, 24) Carole King, 25) Shirley Chisholm, 26) Diana Ross, 27) Toni Morrison, 28) Gloria Steinem, 29) Billie Jean King, 30) Sandra Day O’Connor, 31) Maya Lin, 32) Sally Ride, 33) Geraldine Ferraro, 34) Dolly Parton, 35) Oprah Winfrey, 36) Wilma Mankiller, 37) Meryl Streep, 38) Florence Griffith Joyner, 39) Katherine Hepburn, 40) Mary Lou Retton, 41) Anita Hill, 42) Madeleine Albright, 43) Barbara Streisand, 44) Nancy Pelosi, 45) Hillary Clinton, 46) Barbara Walters, and 47) Michelle Obama.

Helen Prejean

Helen Prejean

To round out my own 75 women list of American agitators, trouble-makers and pioneers in the last 75 years, I would add: 48) Dorothy Day, 49) Bernice Johnson Reagon, 50) Barbara Mikulski, 51) Fannie Lou Hamer, 52) Jeanette Rankin, 53) Bella Abzug, 54) Marian Wright Edelman, 55) Frances Perkins, 56) Janis Joplin, 57) Mary Ritter Beard, 58) Zora Neale Hurston, 59) Josephine Baker, 60) Emily Greene Balch, 61) Joan Chittister, 62) Constance Baker Motley, 63) bell hooks, 64) Joan Baez, 65) Helen Prejean, 66) Peace Pilgrim, 67) Gerda Lerner, 68) Margarethe Cammermeyer, 69) Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 70) Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, 71) Jo Carol LaFleur 72) Joan Didion 73) Blanche Wiesen Cook, 74) Lillian Faderman, 75) Mary Beth Tinker.

Anna Julia Cooper

Anna Julia Cooper

And if I took my list to 100 women who shook things up in the last 75 years, I would add 76) Florence Allen, 77) Jessie Daniel Ames, 78) Hannah Arendt, 79) Charlotta Spears Bass, 80) Ella Reeve Bloor, 81) Susan Epperson, 82) Anna Julia Cooper, 83) Lavinia Lloyd Dock, 84) Jessie Redmon Fauset, 85) Alice Hamilton, 86) Dorothy Kenyon, 87) Daisy Lampkin, 88) Gypsy Rose Lee, 89) Lucy Randolph Mason, 90) Dorothy Parker, 91) Jane Hodgson, 92) Ethel Rosenberg, 93) Rose Schneiderman, 94) Vida Scudder, 95) Mary Church Terrell, 96) Barbara Elfbrandt, 97) Alberta Hunter, 98) Odetta, 99) Daisy Bates, 100) Whoopi Goldberg.

Obviously this list is my personal one and could grow much longer. And if I were to include more American history and then add world history, the list might well become unmanageable. I encourage you to try making your own list. What American women within the last 75 years have been game-changers for you?

Collecting Testimony as to Fort Pillow Affair~April 1864~23rd to 26th

Collecting Testimony as to the Fort Pillow Affair~ General Sherman

Federal military and government authorities are investigating the Fort Pillow atrocity. Confederate General Forrest is evasive. Another problem is developing– the prisoner of war camp at Andersonville, Georgia. Both sides are ready for serious warfare while soldiers and civilians write about religious faith, food and loved ones.

Fort Pillow

Fort Pillow

April 23– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “I transmit to Congress a copy of a note of the 19th instant from Lord Lyons [Britain’s Minister to the United States] to the Secretary of State, on the subject of two British naval officers who recently received medical treatment at the naval hospital at Norfolk. The expediency of authorizing Surgeon Solomon Sharp to accept the piece of plate to which the note refers, as an acknowledgment of his services, is submitted to your consideration.” ~ Message from President Lincoln to Congress. The President also approves a joint proposal from the governors of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin regarding the number of troops they will supply to the Federal forces.

April 23– Saturday– Nashville, Tennessee– “Pursuant to your orders two officers are now engaged in taking affidavits and collecting testimony as to the Fort Pillow affair. They are ordered to send you direct a copy of their report and one to me. I know well the animus of the Southern soldiery, and the truth is they cannot be restrained. The effect will be of course to make the Negroes desperate, and when in turn they commit horrid acts of relation we will be relieved of the responsibility. Thus far Negroes have been comparatively well behaved, and have not committed the horrid excesses and barbarities which the Southern papers so much dreaded. I send you herewith my latest newspapers from Atlanta, of the 18th and 19th instant. In them you will find articles of interest and their own accounts of the Fort Pillow affair.The enemy will contend that a place taken by assault is not entitled to quarter, but this rule would have justified us in an indiscriminate slaughter at Arkansas Post, Fort De Russy, and other places taken by assault. I doubt the wisdom of any fixed rule by our Government, but let soldiers affected make their rules as we progress. We will use own logic against them, as we have from the beginning of the war. The Southern army, which is the Southern people, cares no more for our clamor than the idle wind, but they will heed the slaughter that will follow as the natural consequence of their own inhuman acts.” ~ Letter from Union General William Tecumseh Sherman to Secretary of War Edwin M Stanton.


fighting at Fort Pillow

fighting at Fort Pillow

April 23– Saturday– Camden County, Georgia– “We were surprised today by the arrival of Fred from Florida. The regiment have a furlough of a few days and then ‘on to Richmond’ is the word. It is thought that the crisis is near, that there the event must be decided.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

April 24– Sunday– New York City– “No quarter was intended for them. The blacks and their officers were shot down, bayoneted and put to the sword in cold blood – the helpless victims of the perfidy by which they were overpowered, and of the savage, barbarous, brutal, devilish blood-thirstiness that burned in the hearts and impelled the arm of their victors, reveling in their fraudulently gotten victory. . . . Our informant – an officer in whose probity and moderation we have entire confidence – says he saw the charred remains of Negro soldiers mingled with the ashes of their tents. Their tents were fired, and they were prevented from escaping. They were deliberately burned to death! The spectacle, as presented to the eyes of our informant, was one that no human being, and no inhabitant of perdition, imagined within the range of human or inhuman possibilities on the face of the earth. The wounded, with great gashes in the head, and with limbs dissevered from the body, writhed and yelled with agony that terrified the horses, but made the rebel fiends in human shape laugh, and jest, and jeer.” ~ New York Times, reporting on the Fort Pillow massacre.

April 24– Sunday– New York City– “The conference for the settlement of the Dano-German imbroglio is now sitting in London. It is composed of the representatives of all those Powers which were parties to the Treaty of May, 1852.” ~ New York Times.


April 24– Sunday– Camp Sedgwick, Virginia– “Today at 2 PM a more peaceful scene was witnessed, for in its waters [Hazel Run] four Union soldiers were buried with their Lord in Baptism. . . . . In the evening our Chaplain preached in Hope Chapel and the Lord’s Supper was observed. I acted as one of the deacons . . . . About 40 officers and men took part . . . and all felt that it was indeed a Sabbath to our souls. May God bless us and keep us all in the paths of Righteousness for His name’s sake.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

April 24– Sunday– Orange County, Virginia– “Our box came in yesterday evening and I received safely my shoulder of meat and flour of which I am very thankful, and glad to get. We had biscuits, lean meat and coffee for breakfast, to which I paid my respects with the greatest magnanimity. It took me but a little while to judge the cakes you sent me, and also to find them most excellent. Now if the Yanks will let us alone for awhile, I can enjoy my eatables to the utmost, but the weather is dry and pleasant now and a move I think will come off soon but I hope for the better and eat like rip while we stay here. I am sorry that you have so much weaving to do. I earnestly hope this war will end this year, and then the women will not have so hard a task.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

April 24– Sunday– Columbus, Georgia– A report in the local newspaper quotes a Confederate inspector to the effect that an additional stockade needs to be built at Camp Sumter (Andersonville prison) to relieve overcrowding, and that the inmate hospital, operating inside the stockade, should be relocated outside it.


April 24– Sunday– Camden, Arkansas; Decatur, Alabama; Middletown, Virginia; Pineville, Louisiana– Skirmishes and bloody affairs. Also, Federal troops are snooping around Ringgold, Georgia.

April 25– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Reverses in North Carolina are bad at this time. The death of Flusser is most unfortunate. I presume the blame of the disasters will be attributed to the Navy, which, in fact, is merely auxiliary to the army. Letter-writers and partisan editors who are courted and petted by the military find no favor with naval men, and as a consequence the Navy suffers detraction. Burnside’s army corps passed through Washington, to-day, whites, blacks, and Indians numbering about 30,000. All the indications foreshadow a mighty conflict and battle in Virginia at an early day.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

April 25– Monday– Orange County, Virginia– “I have no war news, no doubt we are having the calm that always precedes the storm, and the silence of the cannon which now prevails will only make its roaring the louder in the future. We have been successful at all points this spring of which you need have heard through the medium of [the] press so I have no war news that would interest you. I have something of more importance to write, new of more profound character. God has visited us in this part of his vineyard in the outpouring of his holy spirit and many are returning to the Lord. Christians who have back-slid is again returning to the field of Christ, sinners are being converted and the word of God doth run and is glorified among us, thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory through our lord Jesus Christ, now henceforth and for evermore, Amen. Eleven joined the church night before last. I am thankful to say that this good work is not confined to our brigade but as far as I can tell is through this army. I think it is one of the best signs of our success that can be given. Again I say, thank God.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier W R Stilwell to his wife Molly.

April 25– Monday– Nashville, Tennessee– “The officers of the Army of the Tennessee have complained bitterly that in all matters pertaining to the railroad they were slighted, and there were some grounds, not intentional on your part, but calculated to raise a prejudice, that after they had come to the relief of the Army of the Cumberland they were denied bread or any facilities from the road. Some even thought you shared this feeling, and had refused them even a passage to or from Nashville. This resulted from the fact that the conductors and your guards were familiar with your passes, and were not with those of Logan or other commanders of that wing. This made my transportation order manifestly just, putting all department commanders on a just equality. We have increased the daily cars from about 80 to from 130 to 190. If I can get the average to 150 the road will supply us, and make an accumulation.” ~ Letter from Union General William Tecumseh Sherman to Union General George Thomas regarding use of the railroad by soldiers.


General William Tecumseh Sherman

General William Tecumseh Sherman

April 25– Monday– near Jackson, Tennessee– “Much having been said in the Northern press in regard to the massacre at Fort Pillow, I shall forward you by next courier copies of all the correspondence in regard to the demand for surrender and a statement of all material facts; an extra copy of same will also be sent you, with a request to forward to the President. Captain Young, the provost-marshal at Fort Pillow, now a prisoner, can corroborate all the facts, as he was the bearer of the enemy’s flag of truce, and it would be well to have him taken care of on that account.” ~ Preliminary report for Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

April 25– Monday– Shelby County, Tennessee– “Miss Annie Perdue, Sister and Brother all sent through the lines today, banished. Washburn countermanded Hurlbut’s order and sent them by land, instead of River. Miss Annie came over to see us, and get me to go over the creek for her. Father is rather afraid, but I will try it in the morning– though I expect not, Father has just left my room, and says he is afraid for me to go– I am so unhappy about the trouble I have got in-oh! what is to become of me, what is my fate to be– A poor miserable exile.” ~ Diary of Belle Edmondson.

April 25– Monday– Camden County, Georgia– “Fred left today. Last evening we had a letter from Julia and $80.00 for me– $35.00 of which I lent Fred and $10 to Gussie. Mr. Fisher is very impatient for his passport. The weather is now becoming Summer like, berries are ripening and the forest is looking fresh and beautiful.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

April 26– Tuesday– New York City– The New York Times carries a detailed copy of the testimony of an eye witness, Mr Edward Benton, given to Union General Rosecrans about “the terrible ferocity of the rebels” at Fort Pillow.

 April 26– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “Your generous remittance of $75 for the wounded & sick was duly received by letter of 21st & is most acceptable. So much good may be done with it. A little I find may go a great ways. It is perhaps like having a store of medicines– the difficulty is not so much in getting the medicines, it is not so important about having a great store, as it is important to apply them by rare perception, honest personal investigation, true love, & if possible the inspiration & tact we in other fields call genius. The hospitals here are again full, as nearly all last week trains were arriving off & on from front with sick. . . . My friend, you must accept the men’s thanks, through me. I shall remain here among the soldiers in hospital through the summer, with short excursions down in field, & what help you can send me for the wounded & sick I need hardly say how gladly I shall receive it & apply it personally to them.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to Lucia Jane Russell Briggs.


President Lincoln

President Lincoln

April 26– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Photographers from Matthew Brady’s studio work in the White House to take several studies of President Lincoln in his office.

It was the Best of Times; It was the Worst of Times~April 1859~22nd to 30th

It Was the Best of Times; it Was the Worst of Times

Charles Dickens begins the publication, in serial form, of his Tale of Two Cities. Congressman Sickles literally gets away with murder. The Fugitive Slave Law keeps aggravating tensions between North and South. The threat of war in Europe among Catholic countries concerns the Pope. Travel on ocean or river can be fraught with danger.

April 22– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “What a humiliating spectacle is presented to the world in the trials now going on at Cleveland of your humane and Christian citizens. . . . What a work of moral regeneration yet remains to be done in Ohio, in Massachusetts, throughout the North, in opposition to slavery and slave-hunting! But this very prosecution will give a fresh impetus to our noble cause.” ~ Letter from William Lloyd Garrison to Professor James Monroe of Oberlin College about the trials of the Oberlin-Wellington rescuers.

Willim Lloyd Garrison

Willim Lloyd Garrison

April 23– Saturday– Ripley, Ohio– “The colored colony of Upper Canada have recently made a commendable movement, which promises to open for them a better prospect for the future. A convention, held at Chatham, has appointed a commission of five of its members to proceed to Africa immediately, with instructions to select a suitable site for the establishment of a new Industrial Colony, to which is proposed to remove the great body of the colored colony of Canada, as rapidly as possible.” ~ Ripley Bee.

April 23– Saturday– Paris, France– French troops begin to depart for Piedmont in anticipation of war with Austria.

April 23– Saturday– Milan, Lombardy, Italy– Austrian General Franz Gyulai, who commands the Austrian troops in this province, delivers an emphatic demand to Turin that the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia disarm within three days or face attack.

April 24– Sunday– near Island Sixty, the Mississippi River– The steamboat St. Nicholas, on its way from St. Louis, Missouri to New Orleans, Louisiana is passing about ten o’clock in the evening when its boilers explode and the vessel catches fire. About forty people are killed and many more are injured or burned and the steamboat is completely destroyed.

April 25– Monday– Washington, D. C.– After deliberating for seventy minutes, the jury in the Daniel Sickles’ murder trial announce their verdict of “not guilty” to cheers in the courtroom. [After a twenty-day trial, the popular Sickles is acquitted in what is generally regarded as the first temporary insanity defense in U.S. legal history.]

April 25– Monday– Chicago, Illinois– The Chicago City Railway Company opens its first line of horse-drawn trolley service, running from State Street as far as Twelfth Street.

April 25– Monday– near Louisville, Kentucky– Seven foot nine inch tall James D. Porter, known popularly as “the Kentucky Giant,” dies in his sleep at age 49. [Porter had been born in Portsmouth, Ohio but had lived most of his life in Kentucky. He had been of normal size as a child but shot up to his remarkable height after his seventeenth birthday. He opened and ran a coffee-house near Louisville on the Portland Canal. He became famous when Charles Dickens, during his visit to the United States, saw and wrote about him. He turned down all following offers of employment on the stage, including with P.T. Barnum, and dies quietly in his sleep at his home near his business.

April 25–Monday– near what will become the city of Port Said, Egypt–The French-owned Suez Canal Company breaks ground for construction of the canal to link the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

Suez Canal, 1881 drawing

Suez Canal, 1881 drawing

April 27– Wednesday– Newark, Ohio– “It is not generally known that, since the first day of the present month, it is a criminal offense, in Ohio, to carry concealed weapons, yet such is the fact. A law was passed by the Legislature, on the 29th of March, to take effect on the 1st of the present April, which provides ‘That whoever shall carry a weapon or weapons concealed on or about his person– such as a pistol, Bowie-knife, dirk, or any other dangerous weapon– shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction for the first offense, shall be fined not exceeding $200, or imprisoned in the county jail not more than thirty days; and for the second offense not exceeding $500, or imprisoned in the county jail not more than three months, or both, at the discretion of the court.” ~ Newark Advocate.

April 27– Wednesday– Rome, Italy– As war looms between Piedmont, Austria, and France, and with nationalist street demonstrations taking place all over Italy, Pope Pius IX issues an encyclical calling for public prayers for peace between Roman Catholic nations. “And so We exhort you [Catholic bishops], to stir the faithful committed to your vigilance in view of your outstanding piety, to turn to God in prayer, so that He might grant His deeply desired peace to all. For the same reason We have ordered that public prayers be offered by all within the Papal Territories to the most kind Father of Mercies. Following the illustrious example of Our predecessors, We have decided to have recourse to your prayers and those of the whole Church. And so We ask that you order public prayers in your dioceses as soon as possible. Having implored the patronage of Mary, may your faithful strenuously beseech our merciful God to turn his wrath from us and banish war to the very ends of the earth. By doing this, he may illuminate all minds by His divine grace and inflame all hearts with the love of Christian peace. He may insure that all may be rooted in faith and love. These then would diligently keep His holy Commandments and humbly beseech His forgiveness for their sins. Turning aside from evil and doing good, they would walk in the ways of justice, exercise mutual charity among themselves and obtain salutary peace with God, with themselves, and with all men.”

Pope Pius IX

Pope Pius IX

April 28– Thursday– Milwaukee, Wisconsin– “The Oberlin Women– God Bless Them. It is not perhaps generally known that a number of the wives of the indicted are sharing prison life with their husbands, refusing to accept private hospitality, but constantly cheering the inner walls of that frowning judicial fortress with their smiles and their words of cheer. . . . The jail room of Bushnell was guarded by bailiffs yesterday and last night, though the Marshal had had the test of every possible assurance that Mr. Bushnell had no desire to escape. Mrs. B. is permitted to share his imprisonment, which she does with a true woman’s devotion to one who is persecuted for no other crime but obeying the Golden Rule, of doing unto others as ye would that they should do unto you. Mrs. Peck, Mrs. Fitch, Mrs. Plumb, and other noble women of Oberlin, also cheer, by their presence, the prison life of the husbands, fathers and brothers, on whom the officials of the Federal Government are thus wreaking the vengeance of the ‘sum of all villainies.’”~ Milwaukee Sentinel, reporting on the status of the Oberlin-Wellington rescuers imprisoned in Cleveland, Ohio.

April 28– Thursday– New York City– “The President having found that it will be impossible for him to discharge his public duties in a satisfactory manner, unless he can devote to them a few hours in each day without interruption, we are therefore authorized to state that he will not receive visitors on any day until 1 o’clock P.M. After that hour he will be happy to see his fellow-citizen as usual.” ~ New York Times, reprinting a notice from the Washington Constitution.

April 28– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– Senor Jose Marta Mata presents his credentials as ambassador from the Juarez Government of Mexico to President Buchanan.

April 28– Thursday– St Louis, Missouri– “A strike among the laborers in some of the brick yards, which has been in progress for several days, assumed a riotous character yesterday, and a considerable amount of property was destroyed. The police were called out, and after a slight skirmish, resulting in the wounding of several laborers and two policemen, the rioters were dispersed. This morning the men assembled again in large force, and assumed such a threatening attitude that the Mayor gave orders to the military to preserve the peace.” ~ report to the New York Times.

April 28– Thursday– seven miles off the coast near Ballyconigar, Ireland– The 1500 ton American ship Pomona, headed for New York in bad weather with a crew of 37 and 372 emigrants, hits the Blackwater Bank, a sand bank and becomes stuck fast. As the storm intensifies, all attempts to launch small boats fail. The severely damaged ship slips off the sand bank and sinks, killing 386 people. Twenty crewmen and three passengers survive when one boat manages to pull clear from the wreck. The captain and first mate go down with the ship.

figurehead of the Pomona

figurehead of the Pomona

April 29– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– In The Liberator William Lloyd Garrison takes note that during 1858, in Boston, there were nine colored men married to white women, the same number as in 1857. “There is not an instance reported of the marriage of a white man with a black woman.”

April 29– Friday– Brooklyn, New York– After five years of planning and construction, the city’s ambitious scheme of reservoirs, pipes, and water mains nears completion and the city organizes a big civic celebration.

April 29– Friday– Vienna, Austria– The Austrian Emperor Franz Josef publishes a declaration of war against the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia and thereby unknowingly walks into a trap set by the secret arrangements between the French Emperor Napoleon III and Piedmont Prime Minister Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour.

April 30– Saturday– New York City– “The Southern journals are just beginning to realize the difficulty of enforcing a law which is directly contrary to the sentiment of the community in which it is to be executed. They have all along insisted upon enforcing the Fugitive Slave law in Northern States, and imposing Slavery upon the Territories without regard to the will of their inhabitants. They now find, however, that they can carry on the Slave-trade and rely upon their own juries for impunity; they are quite reconciled, therefore, to the embarrassments they labor under in the other matters. Interest weights more than argument in practical affairs.” ~ New York Times.

April 30– Saturday– Staunton, Virginia– “Your two letters came in my absence from home & since my return I have been so disturbed by this calamity which has befallen Stuart that I have had no thoughts of anything else. You have no doubt seen from the papers that Baldwin Stuart is dreadfully if not fatally injured by the Steamboat explosion near Memphis. He lives there now & his mother & father have by this time reached him. Our accounts of his condition are very meager but they are such as to excite the worst apprehensions, of hideous disfigurement or of death.” ~ Letter from John B. Baldwin to John H. McCue.

April 30– Saturday– Springfield, Illinois– “Allow me also to thank you as being one of the very few distinguished men, whose sympathy we in Illinois did receive last year, of all those whose sympathy we thought we had reason to expect. Of course I would have preferred success; but failing in that, I have no regrets for having rejected all advice to the contrary, and resolutely made the struggle. Had we thrown ourselves into the arms of Douglas, as re-electing him by our votes would have done, the Republican cause would have been annihilated in Illinois, and, as I think, demoralized, and prostrated everywhere for years, if not forever. As it is, in the language of Benton ‘we are clean’ and the Republican star gradually rises higher everywhere.” ~ Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Salmon P Chase.

Charles Dickens, 1858

Charles Dickens, 1858

April 30– Saturday– London, England– Charles Dickens publishes the first chapter of The Tale of Two Cities in today’s edition of the London weekly magazine, All the Year Round, a new journal he has founded and controls. [The weekly installments will continue until November 26, 1859, when the great story of the French Revolution will conclude.]

Talk with You on Political Matters~April 1859~13th to 21st

Talk with You on Political Matters~ Thomas Pickett to Abraham Lincoln

Many people are looking ahead to the 1860 election. The trials of the Oberlin-Wellington rescuers continues. Public attention is focused on the Sickles case. A popular Frenchman dies. George Peabody makes a large donation. In India the English take a final measure of vengeance for the Indian mutiny.

The Sickles crime

The Sickles crime

April 13– Wednesday– Rock Island, Illinois– “At the request of several citizens of this place, I write to request that you will deliver your lecture on ‘Inventions’ in this city at such time as may suit your convenience. We think a full house would greet you. Please write and let me know whether it will be within your power to come. I would like to have a ‘talk’ with you on political matters – as to the policy of announcing your name for the Presidency – while you are in our city. My partner (C. W. Waite) and myself are about addressing the Republican editors of the State on the subject of a simultaneous announcement of your name for the Presidency.” ~ Letter from Thomas J. Pickett to Abraham Lincoln. [Lincoln holds a patent awarded in 1849 for an invention to lift boats and barges over shoals and obstructions in rivers and streams. As a lawyer representing railroads he constantly manifested great interest in technological advances. He remains the only U S President to hold a patent.]

April 14– Thursday– Mexico City, Mexico– The Conservative Government, locked in conflict with the Constitutional Government, led by Benito Juarez, in the ‘War of Reform,’ retaliates for the recognition extended by the United States to the Juarez government. The Conservative leaders, Felix Zuloaga and Miguel Miramon, order that all United States consulates in areas under their control be closed and they expel the American consul here.

April 14– Thursday– Woodstock, England– Don Antonio Arrom de Ayala, the Spanish consul to Australia, commits suicide in the Duke of Marlborough’s Blenheim Park. On his body investigators find a long letter addressed to the Duke apologizing for the intrusion. He wrote, “It may be a childish feeling but one cannot blow one’s brains out in a common road. . . . So I have not found another proper place to die decently than your handsome park, and you must bear the inconvenience of a dead man in your grounds. I mean no offense.”

April 15– Friday– Cleveland, Ohio– The ten day trial of Simeon Bushnell in federal court for his part in Oberlin-Wellington rescue ends today with a guilty verdict. The judge sentences him to sixty days in prison.

April 15– Friday– Shivpuri, India– The British military authorities begin the court-martial of Tatya Tope, one of the remaining leaders of the Indian Rebellion, whom they captured a week ago.

April 16– Saturday– Ripley, Ohio– “The signal discomfiture of Governor [Henry Alexander] Wise [of Virginia], in his efforts to supplant Mr. Hunter as United States Senator, was anything but a favorable augury of his Presidential prospects. But the desperation of the Black Democracy, and the utter hopelessness of the cause for 1860, with a Lecomptonite at their head, has gradually undermined their pride, and prepared them to overlook Mr. Wise’s past errors, for the sake of his supposed ‘availability.’ We have remarked numerous signs of Mr. Wise’s improving prospects, which he owes entirely to his opposition to the Lecompton fraud concocted by his own party friends. His star for the present at least, is in the ascendant, and we shall not be surprised if he should become the candidate of the party for the Presidency. The Southern wing of the party demand that the South shall have the next Presidential nomination, and Mr. Wise is the only prominent Anti Lecomptonite of the party south of Mason and Dixon’s line. Hence the necessity of forgiving his past [eccentricity], since that eccentricity can alone secure a Southern President.” ~ Ripley Bee. [Wise, a lawyer, age 52, has been governor since 1856. While an outspoken defender of slavery, he is seen as moderate on other issues, particularly religious toleration and, unlike some Southerners, opposes re-opening international slave trade. He will serve as a Confederate officer during the Civil War and will die September 12, 1876.]

George Peabody

George Peabody

April 16– Saturday– Baltimore, Maryland– George Peabody (1795-1869), an American businessman and financier, living in London, had made a gift of $1.5 million to found a music institute for his home city in 1857. The Peabody Institute was incorporated on March 9th, five weeks ago. Today the cornerstone is officially laid at the corner of Charles and Monument Streets in the city. [The building will not be completed until after the Civil War and will finally be dedicated on October 25, 1866. His gift would equal $41.3 million in today’s dollars using the Consumer Price Index.]

April 16– Saturday– Cannes, France– Alexis de Tocqueville, French historian and political analyst, dies of tuberculosis at age 53. In the United States the 1851 reprint of his Democracy in America remains popular in the North.

Alexis de Tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville

April 17– Sunday– New York City– “The Sickles Case. The second week of this very important trial is over, and there is still no immediate prospect of its conclusion. When the cause was commenced there was a general impression that its hearing would be concluded in a week or ten days, and that it was pre-judged to a great extent. But we find, on the contrary, that every step is closely contested by counsel on both sides. Indeed, so strong is the personal feeling, that counsel of proverbial coolness have lost their tempers and engaged in bitter wordy wars, hardly suited, as the Court remarked, to the dignity of the profession. It must be remembered, however, that the case is rather a remarkable one in its personal aspect. A new District Attorney is trying a lawyer for killing another lawyer, and he the predecessor of the prosecutor. The Washington lawyers are straining every nerve to justify the memory of their former confrere; while the New York lawyers are the intimate personal friends of the prisoner at the bar. So, for the last three or four days, the trial has been one of skill between the lawyers, while the Court, jury, prisoner, and, indeed, the country at large, look on the proceedings as the audience in a gymnasium might regard a lengthened contest between eminent masters of the fence. From the questions of law and fact already raised the case has assumed an aspect of the deepest importance. It is so regarded throughout the Union, and both lawyers and layman are deeply interested in the precedents which it will establish. We should not be surprised to see new evidence introduced and new issues raised; so that the trial might last two weeks longer.” ~ New York Herald.

April 17– Sunday– Panama City, [then part of Columbia, now] Panama– In the midst of Palm Sunday celebrations an argument between white and black youths escalates into a full scale riot with troops called out. An exchange of gunfire kills the commander of the soldiers and the situation becomes tense. The U.S. consul, concerned about American property and civilians in transit across the Isthmus of Panama, signals U.S. Navy vessels in the harbor and eight hundred sailors and marines are speedily dispatched to the port. The rioting dissipates and the sailors and marines are back on their ships before midnight.

April 18– Monday– Cleveland, Ohio– The trial of Charles Langston, a black man, begins in federal court for his part in the Oberlin-Wellington rescue, in violation of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. Attorneys Rufus Spalding and Albert Riddle prevail in demanding the selection of a new jury rather than use of the same jury as in Bushnell’s trial. Jury selection is completed by only by 4 o’clock in the afternoon. This is part of the defense strategy to drag out the proceedings and increase coats to the government. In the meantime Anderson Jennings and Richard Mitchell, the Kentucky men who claimed ownership of the fugitive slave, continue to be held in protective custody to keep them safe from the wrath of abolitionists who appear to be shadowing them and from the sheriff of Lorain County, Ohio, who has warrants for their arrest on kidnaping charges under Ohio law.


the Oberlin Rescuers in front of the jail, Cleveland, Ohio, April 1859

the Oberlin Rescuers in front of the jail, Cleveland, Ohio, April 1859

April 18– Monday– Charleston, South Carolina– “The Texas papers give particulars of the proceedings of several meetings recently held . . . for the purpose of taking measures to expel members of the Methodist Church North, who are accused of being abolitionists. At one meeting a committee of fifty was appointed to wait on Bishop Jayne with a warning. They performed their duty on a Sunday, while the Bishop was engaged in the morning service in the church. It was also resolved that the Methodist Church North could not be tolerated in Texas, and that it must be put down if necessary. A committee was appointed to draft other resolutions to be acted upon at an adjourned meeting.” ~ Charleston Mercury.

April 19– Wednesday– Shivpuri, India– The British military authorities hang Tatya Tope, one of the last leaders of the Indian Rebellion, whom they captured on the 8th April.

April 20– Wednesday– New York City– Bayard Taylor, age 34, whose name is a household word in the United States thanks to his six volumes of accounts of his travels in Africa, the Middle and Far East, and the American West, today announces that he will now write for the weekly New York Sunday Mercury, which has gained fame for its regular coverage of the sport of baseball since 1853. The news creates a sensation in the press across the country and is an impressive advertising coup for both the circulation of the Mercury and the sale of Taylor’s book sales. [Taylor will continue to gain in reputation, publish several novels and more books of travel and poetry, translate Goethe’s Faust into English, teach at Cornell and serve the Union cause in various ways during the Civil War. He dies December 19, 1878.]


Bayard Taylor

Bayard Taylor

April 20– Wednesday– New York City– “Some of the regular democratic organs are questioning Judge Douglas, Chevalier Forney and their anti-Lecompton ‘popular sovereignty’ newspapers, whether they do or do not intend to abide by the nomination and the platform of the Charleston Convention? All such questions, we presume, will be answered in the Convention, and not before. We suspect, too, that the upshot of the Convention will be the final dispersion of the democracy,

and two or three scrub tickets; for it is manifest that the fixed policy of every prominent clique of the party jugglers for the succession is rule or ruin.” ~ New York Herald on the upcoming 1860 national convention of the Democratic Party in Charleston, South Carolina, and whether debate about Kansas as a free or a slave state will divide the party.

April 21– Thursday– Chicago, Illinois– “The New York Tribune, in publishing letters from prominent Republicans who replied to invitations to attend the Jefferson Birthday Celebration in Boston, omits the letter of Honorable Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois. Whether the Republicanism to which that gentleman gives utterance is unsuited to the appetite of that disorganizing sheet, or whether it disliked to contrast his sentiments with its recent support of Douglas, we do not care to inquire. Sufficient for us is the omission– a part and parcel of which the Tribune has pursued toward one of the ablest and purest Republicans in the Union, since he dared to oppose the nominee of that sheet for United States Senator from Illinois. We state the fact only; we do not complain.” ~ Chicago Press and Tribune. [Horace Greeley, founding editor of the New York Tribune, had backed Senator Douglas for re-election in order to split the Democratic Party by pitting Douglas against the Southern wing of the party and weaken it in the upcoming 1860 presidential election.]

Minute Mass of Proof~April 1864~21st to 23rd

Minute Mass of Proof ~New York Times

More and more becomes known about the Fort Pillow massacre. The Sanitary Fair in New York City raises a small fortune for the work of the Commission. Walt Whitman continues to receive support for his work with the sick and wounded. A Yankee woman serving as a doctor causes a stir in Richmond because– gasp!– she wears pants just like a man! A young Southern woman is threatened with arrest for aiding the rebels. The United States signs a treaty with some Native Americans but will never keep the promises. Soldiers write home. The world continues turning.

seal of Sanitary commission

April 21– Thursday– Salem, Massachusetts– “I have been very much interested in your hospital work, of which I have heard through my brother, Dr. Russell of Boston. I inclose seventy-five dollars, which I have collected among a few friends in Salem, and which I hope may be of some little service to our brave boys, who surely should not suffer while we have the power to help them. You have our warmest sympathy in your generous work, and though sad to witness so much suffering, it is indeed a privilege to be able to do something to alleviate it. I hope to be able to send you an addition to this contribution, and thought of waiting for a larger sum, but I see that you are having numbers of sick sent in to Washington daily, so you will be in immediate want of money.” ~ Letter from Lucia Jane Russell Briggs, the wife of the pastor of the First Parish Church, to Walt Whitman. [Her $75 would equal $1150 in today’s money, using the Consumer Price Index.]

April 21– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “There was a pleasant party at our house last evening, with an attendance of about three hundred. All passed off pleasantly, and all who expressed themselves seemed much gratified, as we were. It is spoken of as one of the most agreeable parties of the season.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

April 21– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– The Senate ratifies a treaty between the United States and Red Lake and Pembina bands of Chippewa Indians. In key parts the treaty provides that in return for the ceding of valuable lands in Minnesota and in lieu of previously agreed annuities, the “United States will also expend annually, for the period of fifteen years, for the Red Lake band of Chippewas, for the purpose of supplying them with gilling-twine, cotton mater, calico, linsey, blankets, sheeting, flannels, provisions, farming-tools, and for such other useful articles, and for such other useful purposes as may be deemed for their best interests, the sum of eight thousand dollars: and will expend in like manner, and for a like period, and for like purposes, for the Pembina band of Chippewas, the sum of four thousand dollars. . . . [and] to furnish said bands of Indians, for the period of fifteen years, one blacksmith, one physician, one miller, and one farmer; and will also furnish them annually, during the same period, with fifteen hundred dollars worth of iron, steel, and other articles for blacksmithing purposes, and one thousand dollars for carpentering, and other purposes.” [The United States will default on all of these provisions.]

April 21– Thursday– Morton Hall, Virginia– “Every thing seems to work well this & by God’s blessing I think it will be to us the most successful year of the war – Every thing here is very quiet but the storm may come at any time. I think we are ready for it & that we shall succeed. Everything here is as quiet as the country away from the army – we only see the soldiers now & then as they go to or return from picket. The General intends to go into camp in a day or so, so that we may get used to it. The grass is very nice & green here & our horses are doing well – if we can stay here a short time they will improve much. The Chief Commissary sent us some fine fish today – I wish I could send mine up to you – they issue good rations to our troops, better than ever before – but corn meal is the only bread stuff they issue now.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Jedediah Hotchkiss to his wife, Sara.

April 21– Thursday– Memphis, Tennessee– “I went round according to appointment, met Captain Woodward at 11 o’clock. Colonel Patterson went with me. Captain Woodward had not seen the Provost Marshall, he went as soon as I left, came round to Mrs. Facklen’s after dinner, and brought bad news. . . . he could not treat me as the order read– it was issued from old [Union General] Hurlbut, I was to be arrested and carried to Alton [Ohio] on first Boat that passed– for carrying letters through the lines, and smuggling, and aiding the Rebellion in every way in my power– he sent me word I must not think of attending Jennie Eave’s wedding, or go out of doors at all, he would be compelled to arrest me if it came to him Officially, but as my Father was a Royal Arch Mason, and [he] a Mason, he would take no steps, if I would be quiet.” ~ Diary of Belle Edmondson.

April 21– Thursday– Camden County, Georgia– “Mrs Linn and baby thrive well. She has nothing to live on but corn meal and rice; but she is very uncomplaining and bears all patiently. We are making inquiries of all we see if there is anything in the shape of edibles to be found in the county; but nobody knows of anything– not a point! The pickets are living on field peas and rice, and the animals are suffering. There is money enough and nothing to buy.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

April 21– Thursday– off the coast of Velasco, Texas– The British ship Laura, trying to run the blockade, is seized by a Union warship.

April 21– Thursday– Tunica Bend, Louisiana; Cotton Plant, Arkansas; Harrison’s Gap, Alabama; Masonborough Inlet, North Carolina; Cane Patch, South Carolina– Hit-and-run fights, raids and bloody affairs.

April 21–Thursday– Erfurt, Germany– Birth of Max Weber, sociologist, philosopher and political economist. [Dies June 14, 1920.]


Max Weber at age 30

Max Weber at age 30

April 22– Friday– New York City– “The massacre stands without a parallel – words can give no adequate idea of the blood and destruction. Evermore the place will be held in horror and known as the spot where the blackest deed of the war recorded itself.” ~ New York Times comments about Fort Pillow.

April 22– Friday– Dayton, Ohio– John Dobbins, a deserter from the Union Army, is hanged for murdering a Mr Lindenwood during a drunken brawl in February of 1863. “One of the clergymen present then offered up a prayer, after which Dobbins arose and repeated some original lines of poetry, commencing ‘Adieu to all, of high or low degree,’ when the Sheriff adjusted the noose about his neck. He was perfectly calm; he assisted the Sheriff in the adjustment of the rope by moving his head, so as to accommodate the noose; and he several times cautioned the officers to ‘be sure that the rope was fixed right, so as to do the deed quickly.’ These were his last words, and he shook hands with the Sheriff, who stepped from the fatal platform. The next instant, at precisely 10 1/2 o’clock, the trap sunk, and Dobbins passed into eternity. The dreadful work had been done most thoroughly.” ~ as reported in the New York Times on April 24.

April 22– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “The female Yankee surgeon captured by our pickets a short time since, in the neighborhood of the army of Tennessee, was received in this city yesterday evening, and sent to the Castle in charge of a detective. Her appearance on the street in full male costume, with the exception of a gypsy hat, created quite an excitement amongst the idle Negroes and boys who followed and surrounded her. She gave her name as Dr. Mary E. Walker, and declared that she had been captured on neutral ground. She was dressed in black pants and black or dark talma or paletot. She was consigned to the female ward of Castle Thunder, there being no accommodations at the Libby for prisoners of her sex. We must not omit to add that she is ugly and skinny, and apparently above thirty years of age.” ~ Richmond Sentinel. [Walker (1832-1919), a trained and advanced thinking physician, wore a modified officer’s uniform because of the demands of traveling with soldiers and working in field hospitals, but kept her hair long so that people would know she was a woman. She carried two pistols at all times and occasionally smoked a cigar as did Generals Grant and Sherman. Upon their recommendation she will be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. See Dr Mary Walker: The Little Lady in Pants by Charles McCool Snyder (1962).]


Dr Mary E Walker wearing her Medal of Honor

Dr Mary E Walker wearing her Medal of Honor

April 22– Friday– Orange County, Virginia– “Mag, you’ve spoiled me writing to me so often, and if you don’t continue I am afraid I will go craving you to please write to me oftener, for awhile, at least until the coming campaign commences. I wish I could write you an entire letter without a single reference to military affairs; but being directly in the war, how can I do otherwise? The day appointed by President Davis and recommended by our beloved commander, General Lee, for fasting and prayer, was, I am proud to say, properly observed in our brigade. Prayer meeting was held twice, and two excellent sermons delivered on that day. Since that time I have seen Mr. Hyman, a Baptist minister of Thomas Georgia Brigade, baptize and receive into the Baptist church, nine of our best soldiers. On the night of the same day, quite a number were sprinkled into the Methodist Church. We were to be reinforced from some point. Subsequent events have proven that we were right in our conjectures. From all accounts Longstreet’s corps is undoubtedly at Charlottesville, about twenty-five miles from this place. There is no doubt now that our brigade will in a few days be reinforced by the addition of the sixty third Georgia Regiment, for some time stationed in Savannah, and the tenth Georgia Battalion.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee.

April 22– Friday– Camden County, Georgia– “There is a better state of things today. Kate has sent us a nice piece of beef and Mrs. Linn a piece also. The cows are now coming in and we shall fare very well with milk.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

 April 22– Friday– Wortley, England– Birth of Phil May, one of the finest cartoonist and caricature artists of the nineteenth century. [Dies August 5, 1903.]


Phil May~self portrait

Phil May~self portrait

April 23– Saturday– New York City– “There is now an overwhelming and painfully minute mass of proof of the truth of the first reports of the rebel massacre of our troops, black and white, at Fort Pillow. We have had, and have given, the evidence of eye-witnesses, the evidence of victims offered in their last moments, the evidence of persons who visited the scene of the butchery immediately after it, and we have had other evidence not less conclusive, such as the arrival at Cairo of some of the bodies, which bore upon them marks of the worst barbarities charged against the rebels. It now only requires the official statement of the officers appointed to investigate the matter, to furnish irrefragable proof for history. It was super-serviceable labor on the part of any one to deny the massacre, in behalf of the rebels. Jeff Davis officially proclaimed this to be his policy, and he was backed up in his ferocious proclamation by the whole rebel press. To deny that the rebels would carry out their measure is preposterous to the perception of all of us who know that, atrocious as rebel threats have been, their deeds have always been more bloody than their threats.” ~ New York Times.


activity at the New York Sanitary Fair

activity at the New York Sanitary Fair

April 23– Saturday– New York City– The Sanitary Fair closes today, bringing in close to $1,000,000 for the work of the U S Sanitary Commission.

Preparations for the Spring Campaign~April 1864~18th to 20th

Preparations for the Spring Campaign ~ Elisha Hunt Rhodes

Elisha Hunt Rhodes ans Walt Whitman are impressed with General Grant. Federal officials conduct an investigation of the Fort Pillow massacre. A similar incident occurs at Poison Springs, Arkansas where Confederates kill and mutilate black Union soldiers. Confederate General Chalmers brags about teaching a lesson to “the mongrel garrison” at Fort Pillow. Women–north and south–do what they can for their side. Religious enthusiasm abounds among soldiers. In Europe the Danes and the Germans go at each other.

April 18– Monday– Camp Sedgwick, Virginia– “The 6th Corps was reviewed by Lieutenant General U S Grant, and the display was fine and the weather delightful. . . . General Grant is a short thick set man and rode his horse like a bag of meal. I was a little disappointed in the appearance but I like the look of his eye. He was more plainly dressed than any other General on the field. . . . I had the pleasure of saluting for the first time the Lieutenant General and received his acknowledgment. We are making our preparations for the spring campaign which cannot be delayed much longer.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

General Grant

General Grant

April 18– Monday– Cairo, Illinois– “Their demand of the flag of truce having been refused, the order was given by General Forrest in person to charge upon the works and show no quarter. Half an hour after the issuance of this order a scene of terror and massacre ensued. The rebels came pouring in solid masses right over the breast-works. . . . We saw several Negroes burning up in their quarters on Wednesday morning [April 13th]. We also saw the rebels come back that morning and shoot at the wounded. We also saw them at a distance running about, hunting up wounded, that they might shoot them. There were some whites also burning. The rebels also went to the Negro hospital, where about 30 sick were kept, and butchered them with their sabers, hacking their heads open in many instances, and then set fire to the buildings. They killed every Negro soldier Wednesday morning upon whom they came. Those who were able they made stand up to be shot. In one case a white soldier was found wounded. He had been lying upon the ground nearly twenty-four hours, without food or drink. He asked a rebel soldier to give him something to drink. The latter turned about upon his heel and fired three deliberate shots at him, saying, ‘Take that, you Negro equality.’ The poor fellow is alive yet, and in the hospital. He can tell the tale for himself. They ran a great many into the river, and shot them or drowned them there. They immediately killed all the officers who were over the Negro troops, excepting one, who has since died from his wounds. . . . Major Anderson, Forrest’s assistant adjutant-general, stated that they did not consider colored men as soldiers, but as property, and as such, being used by our people, they had destroyed them. This was concurred in by Forrest, Chalmers, and McCulloch, and other officers.” ~ Report by Union Lieutenants Francis Smith and William Cleary.

April 18– Monday– Poison Spring, Arkansas– Confederate forces attack a Federal supply train, guarded by black troops, which has been foraging for corn. The out-numbered Union troops are finally overwhelmed after repelling two attacks. Total Federal casualties are 301, dead, wounded and missing, of whom 182 are black soldiers from the First Kansas Colored. Confederate losses amount to 94. The Southerners take no black soldiers as prisoners. Wounded black soldiers are killed and the dead are scalped and stripped by the rebels.

Poison Spring

April 18– Monday– Camden County, Georgia– “We were called about 3 o’clock this morning to Mrs. Linn. We hurried down but found the boy there before us. Old Nelly [a midwife, probably a slave] was officiating. It is a nice fat baby. The people here are quite like the Israelitish women. They hardly give a baby time to turn about. This is the fourth baby that we have waited on since the war broke out. Our mulatto– Josy– is the prettiest baby of the [other] three– he is a handsome, cunning little fellow. Clarence claims him as his. . . . Went over to Kate’s in the afternoon. She gave us a basket of radishes, and a basket of flower roots. . . . Yesterday Mr. Fisher succeeded in driving up three cows which gives us about two quarts of milk per day. We can now wet our rice and hominy and although it does not taste much like milk, it is a valuable acquisition. We fare well.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

April 18– Monday– Plymouth, North Carolina; Decatur, Alabama; Citrus Point, Virginia; Hunnewell, Missouri– Altercations, showdowns, and melees.

April 18– Monday– Dybbol Mill, Denmark– In what turns out to be the decisive battle of the war, a large German force defeats the Danes. Danish casualties– dead, wounded and missing– total 4,834. Total German casualties amount to 1201. This is the first battle monitored by delegates of the Red Cross, namely, Louis Appia and Charles van de Velde.

Battle of Dybbol Mill

Battle of Dybbol Mill

April 19– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “The President did not make his appearance to-day in Cabinet. He was in Baltimore last evening at the opening of the fair, and is reported to have made a speech. He has a fondness for attending these shows only surpassed by Seward. Neither Seward, nor Blair, nor Chase was present with us to-day. Blair was with the President at Baltimore. Being a Marylander, there was propriety in his attendance.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

April 19– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “Well, Mother, we have commenced on another summer, & what it will bring forth who can tell? The campaign of this summer is expected here to be more active & severe than any yet. As I told you in a former letter Grant is determined to bend every thing to take Richmond & break up the banditti of scoundrels that have stuck themselves up there as a ‘government’– he is in earnest about it, his whole soul & all his thoughts night & day are upon it– he is probably the most in earnest of any man in command or in the government either– that’s something, ain’t it, Mother? & they are bending every thing to fight for their last chance; calling in their forces from southwest &c.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa.

April 19– Tuesday– Orange County, Virginia– “We are now with General Lee’s army in Virginia, got here yesterday and I guess will stay here until the great battle of the war. The Yankees are concentrating a large force here now, so are we. I think we are going to have worse fighting here this spring than we have ever had. I hope to come out safe and get home to those I love. I am very glad to get back to Virginia and hope we will stay here as long as the war lasts. Our people are making great preparations for a siege at Richmond. I don’t want to be in the siege, it will be so sickly if we are surrounded and hemmed up in there and then if the Yankees get us in and surround us then I can not write to my dear Molly, but I don’t think they will ever get us surrounded. They will have some hard fighting to do first.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier W R Stilwell to his wife Molly.

April 19– Tuesday– off the coast of Velasco, Texas– The British ship Fanny, trying to run the blockade, is seized by a Union vessel.

April 19– Tuesday– Plymouth, North Carolina; Leesburg, Virginia; Marling’s Bottom, West Virginia; King’s River, Arkansas; Boiling Springs, Tennessee; Marion County, Alabama; Charleston, Missouri; Waterhouse’s Mill, Tennessee; along the Yazoo River, Mississippi– Altercations, fire fights, raids, confrontations of varying degrees, all presaging the coming bloodshed of the summer campaigns and most all of it in the states of Confederacy.

April 20– Wednesday– New York City– Today’s New York Times carries a lengthy article about the massacre at Fort Pillow.

Fort Pillow massacre

Fort Pillow massacre

April 20–Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– The War Department announces a reduction in the amount of rations to be received by Confederate prisoners in response to reports of Confederate mistreatment of Union prisoners.

April 20– Wednesday– Camp Randolph, Virginia– “There is preaching nearly every day or night as it suits. The preaching is pretty well attended and pretty good attendance is had during the services. The weather for the past week has been very fine but it has gotten colder the last day or two and to day looks as if we would have snow I do not think there will be much fruit this year especially in the part of the country as it has been so cool that I think it would all be killed. Our sharp Shooters are now out practicing firing at a target which reminds us very much of the commencement of a battle but it is to be hoped that we are not to have many more battles to fight as from late northern news they are more unsettled now than they have been for some time past. General Grant seems to be making great preparation for an active campaign but some persons think it is only done for a show.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Thomas M Smiley to his aunt.

April 20– Wednesday– Memphis, Tennessee– “Private John Kennedy . . . returned here wounded last Thursday. . . . He, unable to move around on account of his wound, was tied up to a tree and lashed with a gun-sling. He saw the rebels kill several (to him unknown) colored soldiers after the surrender. Some of them were shot, others knocked on their heads with muskets until they died. Some few of the rebel officers and men objected to these cruelties and outrages, but could not prevent it. He says he saw several wounded, but does not know more than one of my men killed during the fight. Mr. A. Alexander, a citizen of Memphis and sutler in my battery, was bravely fighting the rebels notwithstanding his age (over 50 years). He is reported to have been killed during the fight and afterward seen dead, still holding in his hand the musket he used so well. He leaves a destitute widow with two small children. He was a poor, but honest man.” ~ Official report of Captain Carl A. Lamberg, Battery D, Second U.S. Colored Light Artillery.

April 20– Wednesday– Memphis, Tennessee– “Tate and I arrived in Memphis quite early, put the horse up, then walked up street together, met Nannie and Anna Perkins. . . . went . . . to see Captain Woodward, to know what I must do in regard to an order which I heard was issued for my arrest— he advised me to keep very quiet until he could see the Provost Marshall and learn something in regard to it. I came to Mrs. Facklens, although she has a house full of Yankees boarding with her– they seem to be very gentlemanly, Dr. Irwin and Dr. Sommers, the latter has his family, Wife and two children– We spent a pleasant evening at Chess &c. Mrs. Facklen has been very fortunate in her selection of boarders.” ~ Diary of Belle Edmondson.

April 20– Wednesday– Nashville, Tennessee– “Miss Ada M, the Matron of the Refugee Home, was in our room this eve, and said that she was yesterday preparing some sewing for some young Misses, who were conversing earnestly about the Yankees. Finding their ideas rather erroneous with regard to that class of people, she made a remark to the effect that she was one herself. ‘Why, you ain’t a Yankee?’ exclaimed a Miss of fifteen dropping her work in bland astonishment. ‘Yes, indeed, I am,’ was the reply. ‘Why,’ said the girl, with remarkably large eyes, ‘I’ve allays hearn tell that the Yankees has horns, and one eye in the middle of their foreheads!’” ~ Journal of Elvira Powers.

April 20– Wednesday– Oxford, Mississippi– “The lion-hearted McCulloch, with his ‘fighting brigade’ of Missourians, Texans, and Mississippians, nobly assisted by Colonel Bell, with his gallant brigade of Tennesseeans . . . stormed the works at Fort Pillow. . . and taught the mongrel garrison of blacks and renegades a lesson long to be remembered. While we rejoice over our victories, let us not forget the few gallant spirits who yielded up their lives to their country, and fell as brave men love to fall, ‘with their backs to the field and their feet to the foe.’”~ Speech by Confederate General James Chalmers to his troops.

Harper's Weekly cartoon depicts Confederate atrocities

Harper’s Weekly cartoon depicts Confederate atrocities

April 20– Wednesday– Dalton, Georgia– As part of the religious revival sweeping through the Confederate armies, Bishop Stephen D Elliott of the Episcopal Church administers confirmation to four Confederate generals.

A Rebuke to Reappearing Tyranny~April 1859~1st to 12th

A Rebuke to Reappearing Tyranny ~ Abraham Lincoln

Attorney Lincoln, his eyes on the 1860 presidential election, sends his regrets to Boston for not attending the Jefferson Day dinner. Other signs of the issues dividing the nation appear like spring flowers. Radical John Brown is raising funds. An alleged fugitive slave is arrested in Pennsylvania and found not to have been a slave, much to the disgust of Southerners. In Ohio the first of the Oberlin-Wellington rescuers goes on trial. Some Northern newspapers lambast Southern dominance of the Democratic Party. War brews in Europe. The United States extends diplomatic recognition to liberal reformers in Mexico. British forces capture a rebel leader in India. The world turns.

April1– Friday– Concord, Massachusetts– John Brown gives a public speech in the Town Hall as part of his campaign to raise financial support for his antislavery work but gives no public hint of his plans to start a slave revolt.

John Brown

John Brown

April 1– Friday– Frederick, Maryland– “As for yourself Dear Edward let me say, that before you enter upon the public service of your country, I long to see you enlisted in the service of Him, by ‘whom Kings reign & princes rule.’ This is the best preparation for such a trying, responsible work. A letter from Lizzie just after yours, told us of your visit to them, & how much gratified they were. I am very sorry you had so much trouble to find them.” ~ Letter from a female friend to Edward McPherson of Franklin County, Pennsylvania.

April 1– Friday– southeastern coast of Spain– The Count de Montemolin, a claimant to the Spanish throne of Queen Isabella II, lands with 3,600 soldiers and begins a march toward the city of Valencia. [Unfortunately for the Count, neither he nor any of his staff had told the soldiers of their mission and when they discover its purpose they will immediately declare themselves loyal subjects of the Queen and arrest their leaders, including the Count. Isabella, age 28, will show mercy and deport her cousin, the Count.]

April 1– Friday– South Indian Ocean– The Indian Ocean, an Australian clipper ship carrying gold and passengers from Melbourne, Australia, to Liverpool, England, hits an iceberg, losing two of her masts. The captain and a dozen members of the crew abandon ship and take to the lifeboats but the second officer and the remainder of the crew refuse to give up the ship. [More than five weeks later, the vessel, the second officer, his loyal crew, his forty passengers and 25,070 ounces of gold will arrive safely at the port of Valparaiso, Chile. The men who took to the boats will never be seen or heard of again and presumed lost at sea.]

April 2– Saturday– Harrisburg, Pennsylvania– At the Saturday morning market a U.S. Marshal arrests Daniel Dangerfield, claiming that he is a fugitive slave escaped from the ownership of Elizabeth Simpson of Athensville, Virginia. News of the arrest spreads quickly through the town and marshals send him to Philadelphia this evening to avoid demonstrations or attempts to free him. In Philadelphia he immediately appears before the Fugitive Slave Commissioner who holds the case over until Monday.

April 4– Monday– New York City– In the finale of their performance at Mechanics Hall Bryant’s Minstrels, a group of white singers who perform in blackface, debut a song called “Dixie” by Daniel Emmett (1815-1904), a Northerner, born in Ohio. [He had written the song some weeks earlier. It becomes an instant hit and Emmett will soon sell the rights to the song for $500, which would equal $14,500 today, using the Consumer Price Index.]

Daniel Emmett performing in blackface, c.1860

Daniel Emmett performing in blackface, c.1860


April 4– Monday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– Proceedings begin in the matter of the alleged fugitive slave Daniel Dangerfield. A crowd numbering in the thousands gathers outside the court. In the courtroom, spectators include Lucretia Mott and Passmore Williamson. George Earle and J Miller McKim defend Dangerfield, arguing that this is a case of mistaken identity.

April 4– Monday– Washington D.C.– The trial of New York Congressman Daniel Sickles for the murder of District Attorney Philip Barton Key opens in the Washington court of Judge T. H. Crawford. Sickles’ defense team includes Attorney James T. Brady of New York and Attorney Edwin Stanton, originally from Ohio, who has practiced in Washington since 1856. [Brady, age 44, is an extremely successful lawyer who in criminal cases has won acquittals for over 40 clients and had only 1 convicted. Stanton, age 44, will serve as Lincoln’s Secretary of War.]

April 5– Tuesday– Boston, Massachusetts– The state legislature passes a law requiring milk inspections throughout the state by appointed milk inspectors to enforce the nation’s first such action.

April 5– Tuesday– Cleveland, Ohio– The trial of Simeon Bushnell, a white man, opens in federal court. He is on trial for violating the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 by helping escaped slave John Price escape from his captors in Wellington, Ohio the previous September. [Price, also known as Little John, was being returned to slavery in Kentucky but a group of students and faculty from Oberlin College, together with local citizens, had acted before he could be put on the train at Wellington. Price was freed, hidden, and helped in his successful flight to Canada. A federal grand jury indicted 37 people for breaches of the Fugitive Slave Law, including John Mercer Langston, and his brother Charles, both black graduates of Oberlin. All the defendants have refused to post bail, thus imposing expense and inconvenience on the United States and generating increasing public sympathy. Also, Bushnell and Langston have managed to have kidnaping charges filed in an Ohio court against the four men who snatched John Price. See, History of the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue by Jacob R Shipherd (1859; reprint 1969) and The Town That Started the Civil War by Nat Brandt (1990).]

the Oberlin Rescuers in front of the jail, Cleveland, Ohio, April 1859

the Oberlin Rescuers in front of the jail, Cleveland, Ohio, April 1859

April 6– Wednesday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– The Fugitive Slave Commissioner finds that Daniel Dangerfield is not an escaped slave and releases him to return to Harrisburg. Before he leaves a jubilant anti-slavery crowd parades Dangerfield around the city in triumph, much to the disgust of Southern observers and newspapers.

April 6– Wednesday– Springfield, Illinois– “Your kind note inviting me to attend a festival in Boston, on the 28th instant, in honor of the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, was duly received. My engagements are such that I cannot attend. Bearing in mind that about seventy years ago two great political parties were first formed in this country, that Thomas Jefferson was the head of one of them and Boston the headquarters of the other, it is both curious and interesting that those supposed to descend politically from the party opposed to Jefferson should now be celebrating his birthday in their own original seat of empire, while those claiming political descent from him have nearly ceased to breathe his name everywhere. Remembering, too, that the Jefferson party was formed upon its supposed superior devotion to the personal rights of men, holding the rights of property to be secondary only, and greatly inferior, and assuming that the so-called Democracy of to-day are the Jefferson, and their opponents the anti-Jefferson, party, it will be equally interesting to note how completely the two have changed hands as to the principle upon which they were originally supposed to be divided. The Democracy of to-day hold the liberty of one man to be absolutely nothing, when in conflict with another man’s right of property; Republicans, on the contrary, are for both the man and the dollar, but in case of conflict the man before the dollar. I remember being once much amused at seeing two partially intoxicated men engaged in a fight with their great-coats on, which fight, after a long and rather harmless contest, ended in each having fought himself out of his own coat and into that of the other. If the two leading parties of this day are really identical with the two in the days of Jefferson and Adams, they have performed the same feat as the two drunken men. . . . All honor to Jefferson to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a mere revolutionary document an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there that to-day and in all coming days it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression.” ~ Letter from Abraham Lincoln to H. L. Pierce and others.

Abraham Lincoln, attorney-at-law

Abraham Lincoln, attorney-at-law

April 6– Wednesday– near Neath, South Wales, Great Britain– At the Mair Colliery, the working of a new shaft breaches a wall that releases into the mine several hundred thousand gallons of water accumulated from old workings over the years. With the whole mine flooding rapidly, frantic efforts are made to bring the eighty-one workers and their pit-ponies to the surface. Fifty-five men and two ponies escape; however, twenty-six other men and all the other animals drown.

April 7– Thursday– Chicago, Illinois– “The proverb which says that It never Rains but it Pours, was never more strikingly illustrated than on Monday and Tuesday last, when the Republican victories in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Springfield, and the State of Connecticut, came crowding each other over the wires. The example of New Hampshire seems to have infected the whole country. . . . The whole hocus pocus of the Democratic platform has come down in a heap– Popular Sovereignty, Dred Scott, Cuba Stealing, Slave Trade, and the whole fabric of fraud and falsehood. To every sagacious observer of political events and the current popular opinion, it must be evident that nothing but the grossest incapacity and mismanagement can prevent a Republican triumph in the nation in 1860. The campaign has in one sense already begun. Each general election is looked upon as indicative of the result of the great battle next year, and the contestants everywhere make their appeals on the basis of that strife. To this point in the latter half of Mr. Buchanan’s term, the success of the Republican cause has been complete and uninterrupted. Whatever may be predicted upon present majorities, coupled with thorough organization and a righteous cause, may be set down to the account of Republicanism in the approaching Presidential contest. Who does not say that Freedom shall achieve a conclusive triumph in 1860?” ~ Chicago Press and Tribune.

April 7– Thursday– Vera Cruz, Mexico– Robert Milligan McLane presents his credentials to Benito Juarez thereby conferring United States recognition upon the Liberal government, much to the chagrin of the Conservatives under General Miramon.

April 8– Friday– Probnitz, Moravia– Birth of Edmund Husserl, philosopher and founder of the school of philosophy known as phenomenology. [Dies April 27, 1938.]

Edmund Husserl, in 1900

Edmund Husserl, in 1900

April 8– Friday– Paron forest, north central India– After more than a year of effort and aided by an informer turncoat, the British capture Tatya Tope. [Ram Chandra Pandurang Tope, age 45, better known to his enemies as Tatya Tope, or Tantia Topee, was a civilian adviser to Nana Sahib, one of the early leaders of the Indian Rebellion which began in May, 1857. As the fighting progressed Tope developed into a brilliant guerrilla leader, always one step ahead of his British pursuers and with a powerful capacity to rebound after defeat. He was active for twenty-three months, long after all other resistance was quelled. See generally, Indian Uprising of 1857-8: Prisons, Prisoners and Rebellion by Clare Anderson (2007); The Indian Mutiny by John Harris (2001); The Indian Mutiny of 1857– Military History from Primary Sources by G B Malleson & B Carruthers (2013).]

April 9– Saturday– Vienna, Austria– The Austrian Empire mobilizes in response to the war preparations of Piedmont-Sardinia.

April 12– Tuesday– Detroit, Michigan– Michael Phelan of New York defeats John Seereiter of Detroit in a billiards match billed as the world championship and wins a prize of $50,000. [The prize would equal $1,450,000 in today’s dollars, using the Consumer Price Index.]

April 12– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Lord Lyons, Her Britannic Majesty’s new Minister to the United States, presents his credentials to President Buchanan. Lord Lyons, a/k/a Richard Bickerton Pernell, arrived in Washington to replace the retiring Lord Napier. [At age 41, the career diplomat is undertaking his first major assignment in what be in total fifty years of service to the British Foreign Office. He will leave Washington in the spring of 1865 and will later spend twenty years as minister to Paris.]

Retribution Shall As Surely Come~April 1864~15th to 18th

Retribution Shall as Surely Come~President Lincoln

Lincoln, Congress and General Grant become aware of the Fort Pillow atrocity. Northen papers such as the New York Times give the matter a great deal of coverage. Union officers and soldiers talk of revenge. Skirmishing increases as does the food shortage in the South. Spring and summer promise to be brutal.

Harper's Weekly cartoon depicts Confederate atrocities

Harper’s Weekly cartoon depicts Confederate atrocities

April 15– Friday– Camden County, Georgia– “Had a dish of boiled rice and dry corn bread for breakfast. Nothing on it. For dinner a soup made of the beef bone that Kate gave us with rice and corn bread. It is a rainy day and gloomy. My thoughts continually at the North. I am homesick and I wonder what is my duty in regard to going, whether it will be made plain to me. It seems as if I could not stay contentedly another year and what shall we live on if we go North? It is a question that we cannot solve. I can hardly wait for mail day to come, and yet we are disappointed week after week. Now that we have been favored with letters I want them to come thick and fast. How long the three last years have been. They seem like a vast uncomfortable dream. Once I wished for a ‘lodge in a vast wilderness.’ I have realized the fallacy of such a wish, and now I am led to say ‘Oh, Solitude, where are thy charms?’ Give me Society, Friendship and Love. So ‘divinely’ bestowed upon man. I did not appreciate the blessing when I had it and this is a deserved chastisement. May I receive it with profit. Mr. Fisher is planting corn. Sybil is scratching in the garden. My homemade shoes are too thin to admit of my going out in the wet and so I stay in and think so hard of home. Oh! such a longing to see the girls and partake of their northern comforts once more– how little can they realize our forlorn situation.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

April 15– Friday– near Baton Rouge, Louisiana; near Presidio del Norte, New Mexico Territory; Camden, Arkansas; Greeneville, Tennessee; Bristoe Station, Virginia; Roseville, Arkansas; Milford, Virginia– Skirmishes, fire fights and bloody engagements.

April 16– Saturday– New York City– In two pieces about the Fort Pillow massacre, the New York Times describes Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest as a “guerrilla” rather than a regular army soldier and his troops as “a few thousand freebooters” while describing them as “fiends, bloodthirsty as devils incarnate” who “commenced an indiscriminate butchery of the whites and blacks” and calls on General Grant to investigate “his own responsible subordinates as well as these irresponsible rebels.”

Fort Pillow massacre

Fort Pillow massacre

April 16– Saturday– camp near Annapolis, Maryland– “I am first rate, we have had about 65 or 70 Recruits and we hear there are some 150 or 200 more in New York for us. General Grant and Burnside paid us a visit a few days ago, we had no review or any thing of that kind but the Regiment just fell in line and Grant rode along and looked at them and then went on about his business. We are getting quite a large force here and there is considerable speculation as to where we are going, but the general impression is that we will go back to North Carolina and through into Virginia. While Lee moves up from the front towards Richmond, but it seems to me time that something was underway if we are going to do much this Spring. I don’t see any signs of our leaving here for some time yet. We are having lots of drills, and have been kept pretty busy since we have been here.” ~ Letter from George Whitman to his brother Walt.

April 16– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– A report issued by the U S Commissary of Prisoners says that since the war’s start 121,937 Confederate prisoners have been exchanged for 110,866 Union prisoners. Another 29,229 rebels, including 8 Confederate generals, remain in Federal prisons and prison camps.

April 16– Saturday– Culpepper Court House, Virginia– “Julia [his wife] will start West in a few days and will stop at Covington on her way. She will remain at the house I purchased from Judge Dent until such time as she can join me more permanently. It is her particular desire to have Jennie go to St. Louis with her to spend the summer. I hope she can and will go. It has rained here almost every day since my arrival. It is still raining. Of course I say nothing of when the army moves or how or where. I am in most excellent health and well pleased with appearances here. My love to all at home.” ~ Letter from General Ulysses S Grant to his father.

General Grant

General Grant

April 16– Saturday– Camp Sedgwick, Virginia– “Tonight we had a very interesting religious meeting and about twenty took part in remarks or prayer.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

April 16– Saturday– Orange County Court House, Virginia– “We drawed [sic] four days rations of old bacon yesterday which outranks General Lee and three days rations of meal, one day’s ration of flour which is excellent and is quite a treat to us. Drew and I have had one good mess of biscuits, which tasted like Sunday morning at home when new wheat comes in. I love biscuits as well as ever and I reckon always will if I can get them. . . . The boys keep me busy sewing, and I cannot keep up. I reckon I shall have to put up a tailor’s shop when I get home. I found some old tent cloth the other day which makes excellent haversacks, and I make them and sell them at $2.00 a piece, but have to sell on credit. I have only made one yet. It is thick and hard sewing and rather slow making money but much better than doing nothing or trying to die with the blues and homesickness. Dissatisfaction is the worst complaint a soldier can have.” ~Letter of Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

April 16– Saturday– Camden County, Georgia– “The day dawns upon us more cheerily out of doors but the weather is still cold for the season. Had another corn cake and boiled rice for breakfast but Grace came over from Kate’s with a piece of drum fish and a bunch of radishes for dinner which was a great luxury. Providence does not leave us to starve in the wilderness. Yet like the Israelites we are continually murmuring. We have had lettuce twice from our garden. All the vegetables are backward and hard to keep from frost. Crows, ground moles, hens and other things too numerous to mention. We plant and raise here under great difficulties. At supper we were obliged to fall back upon the rice and corn.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

April 17– Sunday– New York City– The New York Times presents a little more information about events at Fort Pillow and assures readers that more information will be provided in coming days.

April 17– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– “We are embarrassed by state banks, state laws, and local issues and interests. The other day a determined effort was made in New York to run gold up to 200, but was promptly met by a free sale by the Government of gold and exchange, and the movement failed. It was aided by this very bad news from Fort Pillow, not so bad from the loss of men, but from the question of retaliation raised by the massacre of Negro troops. We all feel that we must either disband Negro troops or protect them. It is fearful to think about the measures that may be necessary, but what else can we do? An investigation will be made by the Secretary of War and by Congress, and if the rebels are determined to massacre prisoners, then a new and terrible stage of this war will be commenced.” ~ Letter from Senator John Sherman to his brother, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman.

April 17–Sunday– Culpepper Court House, Virginia– General Grant, now aware of the events at Fort Pillow, demands that prisoner exchanges be balanced and include black Federal troopers among those exchanged on an equal basis. A failure to do so would “be regarded as a refusal on their part to agree to the further exchange of prisoners, and [would] be so treated by us.” This demand is refused by the Confederates.

April 17– Sunday– Orange County Court House, Virginia– “You must be of good cheer – I hope this campaign may, by God’s blessing, end the war– The news from Louisiana is very cheering – it is said Banks got a bad whipping & that he sent over 7000 wounded to Baton Rouge. Be of good cheer my love and try and not exert yourself too much. Many kisses for you all – the children must learn much this spring and summer.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Jedediah Hotchkiss to his wife Sara.

April 17– Sunday– Memphis, Tennessee– Union officers say that if the government fails to take retributive steps against the Confederacy for the atrocity at Fort Pillow, they will consider it their duty to shoot every man of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s command they meet and take no prisoners. Soldiers, black and white, threaten to shoot Confederate prisoners who served under Forrest and who are now in Irvin Prison.


April 17–Sunday– Savannah, Georgia–Due to a severe food shortage, a bread riot erupts among the citizens as women, some armed, defy soldiers and demonstrate, demanding bread. In desperation some women seize food and their leaders are arrested by the soldiers.

April 17– Sunday– Camden County, Georgia– “On Sabbath mornings we look with great impatience for the mail. Today a letter came from Fred. He was in good spirits– he had found a pair of saddle bags containing clothing and had found also a pretty girl from Virginia. He was before Palatka in Florida and expecting a battle daily. . . . No satisfactory news in the papers. A dish of lettuce and eggs was added to our corn cake at noon which relished nicely. Last night was very cold, a frost in some places.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

April 17– Sunday– off the coast of Velasco, Texas– The British ship Lily, trying to run the blockade, is seized by a Union warship.

April 17– Sunday– Beaver Creek, North Carolina; Red Mount, Arkansas; Ellis Ford, Virginia; Plymouth, North Carolina; Holly Springs, Mississippi; Limestone Valley, Arkansas; on the Mississippi River 35 miles below Memphis, Tennessee– Skirmishes and minor engagements.

April 18– Monday– New York City– “I suppose we must reconcile ourselves to the fact that New York is a grand, commercial, money-making center of the universe, and that learning and science are exotics which cannot be acclimatized.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

April 18– Monday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– Birth of Richard Harding Davis, journalist and author. His articles on travel, foreign wars, sports and politics will make him the most widely known reporter of his time and be collected in a series of best-selling books. He will author ten volumes of short stories and seven popular novels as well as five successful plays. [Dies April 11, 1916.]


President Lincoln

President Lincoln

April 18– Monday– Baltimore, Maryland– “There is another subject upon which I feel that I ought to say a word. A painful rumor, true, I fear, has reached us, of the massacre, by the rebel forces at Fort Pillow, in the west end of Tennessee, on the Mississippi River, of some three hundred colored soldiers and white officers, who had just been overpowered by their assailants. There seems to be some anxiety in the public mind whether the Government is doing its duty to the colored soldier, and to the service, at this point. At the beginning of the war, and for some time, the use of colored troops was not contemplated; and how the change of purpose was wrought I will not now take time to explain. Upon a clear conviction of duty I resolved to turn that element of strength to account; and I am responsible for it to the American people, to the Christian world, to history, and in my final account to God. Having determined to use the Negro as a soldier, there is no way but to give him all the protection given to any other soldier. . . . We are having the Fort Pillow affair thoroughly investigated; and such investigation will probably show conclusively how the truth is. . . . If there has been the massacre of three hundred there, or even the tenth part of three hundred, it will be conclusively proved; and being so proved, the retribution shall as surely come. It will be matter of grave consideration in what exact course to apply the retribution; but in the supposed case it must come.” ~ President Lincoln in a speech at the Sanitary Fair.

soldiers of the 33rd U S Colored Troops

soldiers of the 33rd U S Colored Troops