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.

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