Anxiety on the Subject of Provisions~April 1864~10th to 13th

Anxiety on the Subject of Provisions ~ General Robert E Lee

General Lee and Southern civilians worry about food shortages. The withdrawal of General Longstreet from Tennessee poses increased problems for civilians. General Grant makes a good impression. Working women gain prominence and undertake the duties of nursing the sick and wounded. Freedom comes for serfs in Poland but at a terrible price. An atrocity against black soldiers takes place in Tennessee and it will echo for decades after the war.

illustration of Fort Pillow massacre two decades later

illustration of Fort Pillow massacre two decades later


April 10– Sunday– Nevada City, California– Birth of William Phillips, a/k/a Tully Marshall, his stage name. He will have a 30 year career as a character actor, both on stage and in film. [Dies March 10, 1943.]

April 10– Glasgow, Scotland– Birth of Eugene d’Albert, pianist and composer, with an English mother and German father. [Dies March 3, 1932.]

April 11– Monday– Boston, Massachusetts– Birth of Lizzie “Lillie” Plummer Bliss [dies March 12, 1931], the second daughter and second of the four children of Cornelius and Elizabeth Plummer Bliss. Lillie, as her friends called her, will become an important art collector, philanthropist, and one of the founders of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.


Lillie Plummer Bliss

Lillie Plummer Bliss

April 11– Monday– approaching Charlottesville, Virginia– “Oh that peace, happy peace could be once more granted us so that I could once more embrace my dearest wife. Oh, Molly I love you so much and yet I am not allowed to see you nor even kiss thy cheeks, oh, if I would just kiss you again it would so me so much good. I can’t see how I ever did leave you when I was at home but God who has guarded us all the time I reckon guarded me in that also. I must bid you kiss the little children for and bid you an affectionate ado.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier W H Stilwell to his wife Molly.

April 11– Monday– Camden County, Georgia– “Mr. Linn killed a pig and sent us a piece. The first meat we have had in eight days, with the exception of a rice bird. We were all eager for our supper but the pig was so poor and green that it made us sick. I awoke in the night distressed with hives– my body was covered with rash. All have been busy since the fire picking up nails– it is said there are none in the confederacy. A few weeks ago they were worth $300 a keg, now more. Mr. Fisher and John are now hurrying to plant corn. The nights are so cold nothing grows fast. Sybil had a tedious ride to King’s Ferry. Kate bought a common calico dress for $120., ten yards. Merchants prefer to keep their goods until the new issue. This banking business is a great swindle. People who deposited gold for safekeeping are obliged to give it up for this confederate trash.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

April 11– Monday– Columbus, Kentucky; Greenwich, Virginia; Kelly’s Plantation, Alabama; Richland, Arkansas; Chariton, County, Missouri– Raids, fire fights and blood-letting. Federal troops are probing and scouting from Rossville to La Fayette, Georgia.

April 12– Tuesday– New York City– “The middle of this month will witness in Europe another of those grand events which, like the President’s Proclamation of Emancipation in America, are to make these years forever illustrious in history. On the 15th of April, by a recent ukase of the Czar, every serf in Russian Poland is to be at once and forever set free from all bondage. He is to own the cottage and the plot of ground which he has been occupying, his time and labor are to be his own, and he is liberated from all claims to service and obligations of labor which his master may have possessed over him. For this great emancipation, he has only to pay to the Government a tax, by which ‘loyal masters’ are to be remunerated. More than this, the Polish serf is to become at once a self-governing citizen. He is to elect his own village officials, his mayor, and sheriff, and justice of the peace – a privilege which Prussia has never yet granted to the Prussian Poles. Thus, at a single stroke, millions of human beings are set free from an ancient oppression, and endowed with new privilege and rights.” ~ New York Times. [This move by the Russian Tsar is made in large part to undercut support for the rebellion which has run on since last January. The Tsar will prohibit the speaking of Polish and require the Russian language to be taught in Polish schools.]


Tsar Alexander II

Tsar Alexander II

April 12– Tuesday– Camp Sedgwick, Virginia– “Yesterday we all rode to Culpeper, and saw General Grant, who went last night to Washington, and did go thence to Annapolis. I was well pleased with all the officers down there; among others was a Lieutenant– Colonel Comstock, a Massachusetts man. He had somewhat the air of a Yankee schoolmaster, buttoned in a military coat. Grant is a man of a good deal of rough dignity; rather taciturn; quick and decided in speech. He habitually wears an expression as if he had determined to drive his head through a brick wall, and was about to do it. I have much confidence in him.” ~ Letter from Union officer Theodore Lyman to his sweetheart.


General Grant

General Grant

April 12– Tuesday– Camp Sedgwick, Virginia– “The weather is warm and delightful, although the distant mountains are still capped with snow.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

April 12– Tuesday– Orange County Court House, Virginia– “My anxiety on the subject of provisions for the army is so great that I cannot refrain from expressing it to Your Excellency. I cannot see how we can operate with our present supplies. Any derangement in their arrival or disaster to the railroad would render it impossible for me to keep the army together, and might force a retreat to North Carolina. Thee is nothing to be had in this section for men or animals. We have rations for the troops to-day and to-morrow. I hope a new supply arrived last night, but I have not yet had a report. Every exertion should be made to supply the depots at Richmond and at other points. All pleasure travel should cease, and everything be devoted to necessary wants.” ~ Letter from General Robert E Lee to President Jeff Davis.


General Lee

General Lee

April 12– Tuesday– Fort Pillow, Tennessee–Confederate forces numbering about 2500 under General Nathan Bedford Forrest capture the Union garrison and massacre over 200 black troopers. Later reports indicate that they killed several unarmed woman, both black and white. Total Federal dead and wounded are 547. Total Confederate casualties are 80.


Fort Pillow massacre

Fort Pillow massacre

April 12– Tuesday– Blair’s Landing, Louisiana; Florence, Alabama; Pleasant Hill Landing, Tennessee; Van Buren, Arkansas; Fort Bisland, Louisiana– Brawls, scuffles and tussles.

April 13– Wednesday– New York City– “Working-woman’s Protective Union: Families and employers are informed that they can be supplied, free of charge, from the rooms of the Working-woman’s Protective Union, No. 4 New Chambers Street, with teachers, copyists, photograph colorers, gold leaf cutters, saleswomen, bookfolders, plain sewers, and operators on the different sewing machines. They also desire to say that they have the names or a large number of respectable young girls who wish to learn the various trades that are suitable and profitable for females, on their books, and hope through this channel to obtain employment for them.” ~ New York Times.

April 13– Wednesday– Nashville, Tennessee– “Entered upon my duties to-day, as lady nurse of two divisions of tents at Small Pox Hospital. Not obliged to come here, but have accepted this most disagreeable place, as there are so few who are willing to take it. Expect to be quite confined to the place; and the hope of doing good in a position which otherwise would be vacant, is the inducement. The Hospital is about a mile out from the city, and near Camp Cumberland. It consists of tents in the rear of a fine, large mansion which was deserted by its rebel owner. In these tents are about 800 patients-including convalescents, contrabands, soldiers and citizens. Everything seems done for their comfort which can well be, with the scarcity of help. Cleanliness and ventilation are duly attended to; but the unsightly, swollen faces, blotched with eruption, or presenting an entire scab, and the offensive odor, require some strength of nerve in those who minister to their necessities. There are six physicians each in charge of a division. Those in which I am assigned to duty are in charge of Drs. R. & C. There is but one lady nurse here, aside from the wives of three surgeons, Mrs. B., the nurse, went with me through the tents, introduced me to the patients and explained my duties.” ~ Journal of Elvira Powers.


April 13– Wednesday– Atlanta, Georgia– “My presence in East Tennessee gave me a good opportunity of realizing the real condition of things in that ill-fated and unfortunate country. Its evacuation last August by General Buckner was a miserable military blunder, which time cannot soon repair. Its abandonment on a more recent occasion, though perhaps less inexcusable under the circumstances, is accompanied with evils scarcely to be realized or exaggerated. As the army of Longstreet fell back toward Virginia those of our southern citizens who had the means of doing sfell back too, and many of them will be able to find shelter and subsistence elsewhere. But my heart bleeds to have witnessed the condition of the families of our soldiers and our poorer people of true Southern proclivities. What will become of them? They are unprotected and without supplies– a prey to the rapacity, the cruelty, and the revenges of the unrelenting and malicious Union men of that country, to say nothing of the hostilities of the Yankees. A citizen there told me that if it were not for the fish in Chucky River many of them must starve. In its retreat the army swept the country of all its supplies. With the recuperative energy that characterizes that Scotch-Irish population, many of our farmers had endeavored to repair the desolation made before the reoccupancy of the country by Longstreet, were rebuilding their fences, &c., and doing other spring work on their plantations preparatory to planting some corn. Now, since our forces are withdrawn, the horses stolen, their fences burned the second and the third time, and no prospect of further protection from the pillaging enemy, the heart sickens at the contemplation of the spring and summer before them. No Egypt is at hand to which these virtuous, patriotic, and indigent people can repair to procure bread. They must not be left there to suffering and starvation. As the soldiery of Tennessee are standing like a bulwark of defense against the invasion of Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia, leaving their desolated homes and destitute families to the benignant care of the Government, will you listen to an appeal from one of their countrymen, an exile himself, and houseless and homeless, too, when, he suggests to the Confederate authorities to order at once the purchase or the impressment in Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia of a supply of corn, the establishment immediately of a store-house or houses on our lines, and the authorized invitation to loyal destitute families to come there and be fed at least till harvest.” ~ Letter from Mr J G M Ramsey to President Jeff Davis.

 April 13– Wednesday– Athens, Georgia– “We are informed that a gentleman has recently obtained a patent for the manufacture of Kerosine oil, which has been thoroughly tested and found to be equal, if not superior to the Yankee article. He has made some from the Alabama coal, which gives a brilliant light. The material is inexhaustible. We expect soon to have some of it, when we shall say more about it. This will prove very pleasant news to those of our readers who are using tallow dips at one dollar each.” ~ The Southern Banner.

April 13– Wednesday– Camden County, Georgia– “We went over to Kate’s in the morning. Mr. Fisher took us in his cart as far as the creek. I wished to lend them $75.00 but they had no use for it. Shall probably lose it. Kate gave us a piece of fresh meat half dozen potatoes and a saucer of fresh butter. Such a rich day for us. I think we must gain some fat. Mr. Linn left at noon. His furlough was up and he must go leaving his wife in hourly expectation of illness. Before leaving Savannah he bought two pounds of coffee for $30.00. On the road he discovered that someone had given him a paper of peas in exchange [instead of the coffee beans]. He purchased a sack of flour for $125.00 that he had not found when he left here. The country is threatened with starvation. Major Bailey has gone fishing.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

April 13– Wednesday– Richland Creek, Arkansas; Columbus, Kentucky; Cleveland, Tennessee; Decatur, Alabama; Nokesville, Virginia; Smithville, Arkansas– Tussles, engagements, scraps and altercations.


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