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.

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