I Know You Are Full of Anxiety~May 1864~26th to 29th

I Know You Are Full of Anxiety ~ Confederate soldier to his wife.

Soldiers of both sides write home about battles, prisons, fears and hopes. Plenty of fighting takes place in Virginia and in Georgia. Confederate officials continue to deny misconduct at Fort Pillow. The great Congressman and radical abolitionist Joshua Giddings dies. President Lincoln updates the Senate about the situation in Mexico while the European couple claiming to be the rulers of Mexico arrive to take the throne.


May 26– Thursday– Hanover Junction, Virginia– “I know you are full of anxiety and are waiting to hear from me – I have not written for several days, because I have been to busy, and then we are cut off from direct communication – but I think the road is still open by Lynchburg & I will write, hoping you may get it – I wish I were at home to cheer you up , but when I tell you that all is going well I know you will believe it & take heart accordingly . . . . I do not know but the fortune of war may expose the [Shenandoah] Valley to invasion, but I trust that the same kind Providence that has so far shielded it will continue His favor & keep it from pollution – the many bloody lessons the enemy has learned there ought to teach him to keep away . . . . I hope you are getting along tolerably – though I am full of anxiety knowing you are ill able physically to endure this fiery trial, but your great heart I trust, & an unfailing Providence will sustain you & enable you to go through these trying times – I have money but do not think it safe to send it . . . but if you need any money call on either of the Mr. Bears to advance some to you until such time as I can send it – which I hope will not be long – for this great battle cannot be delayed much longer.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Jedediah Hotchkiss to his wife Sara.

May 26– Thursday– North Anna, Virginia– “I have slept undisturbed for two nights, and also have slept a good portion of the day time and feel considerable revived. I shaved yesterday and took off all my whiskers which helped my feelings. If I had the chance to wash the shirt and drawers I have on I would feel much better. I have a clean shirt and pair of drawers along but do not want to put them on unless I could wash these I have on, for they would be too heavy to carry with so much mud on them.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

May 26– Thursday– Knoxville, Tennessee– “The forces of the Government, as you know, have for sometime, been withdrawn from the upper part of Eastern Tennessee. We now, have no troops above Strawberry Plains, leaving all the country from that point to Bristol in the hands of about Two Hundred and fifty Rebels, who are ravaging the country at pleasure, committing daily robberies, and occasional murders. I learn to day, that they are pasturing our wheat fields. This is to be the ruin of the people, as our people in a great measure, depend on their harvest for the means of living– I mention these things to you, as I trust you will do something to relieve our part of the country. There are two squads of Rebels, who stay about Greeneville, and Rogersville. They do not exceed 150 men. If you will have one good Regiment of East Tennesseans, sent to the upper country, you will relieve us, and get the lasting gratitude of the people of that section. Unless you do something I feel that there is no hope, and therefore, in the name of your old neighbors, and in my own, I earnestly call on you, for prompt action. We want our own men, who know the roads & the fords, & who feel an interest in the country and its inhabitants.”~ Letter from Mr J Netherland to the military governor Andrew Johnson.

May 26– Thursday– Andersonville, Georgia– Reports from Camp Sumter prison-camp to Confederate officials in Richmond indicate that while Commander Henry Wirz is an efficient officer, the polluted stockade creek at the camp is unfit for drinking and bathing, with the water current of insufficient force to remove wastes from the feces laden creek bed, further exacerbating the already overwhelming problem of controlling disease among the prisoners.

May 26– Thursday– Solothurn, Switzerland– Karl Anton Postl, who for 42 years has lived, traveled and written as Charles Sealsfield, dies at age 71, revealing in his will his real name and that he had been a monk.

Charles Sealsfield

Charles Sealsfield

May 27– Friday– New York City– “Grant still goes Vorwarts [“forward”] as obstinately as old Blucher, and has crossed the North Anna after a sharp conflict, in which field-works seem to have been stormed in a style creditable to any soldier.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong. [Gebhard von Blucher was the field marshal who led the Prussian charge against the French at the last stage of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, urging his soldiers to give no quarter.]

May 27– Friday– Pickett’s Mill, Georgia– “The fight had scarcely ceased when it commenced to rain, and there we had to sit and be rained upon without shelter and without a fire. After midnight we were relieved and taken a piece to the rear, but our boys did not come until morning, and hungry, wet, without a blanket, we did not have a very pleasant night of it. At daylight the boys came with coffee, meat, crackers and blankets. We are still in the same place. Yesterday there was only skirmishing, etc., and the army got into position. It seems that the whole rebel army is in our front. Today, it is said at nine A. M. a general advance is to be made; our right, left and center are to make a simultaneous attack. We will probably be under fire before night. May God crown our arms with success. Two of Company G were killed on Wednesday. Robert Templeton and Emerson Smith. They were both excellent men, cool and brave. Truer and braver hearts have never fallen in battle. If you know their parents, tell them how sincerely we condole with them in the loss of those brave boys. We are getting ready to move.” ~ Letter from Union officer Fredrick C. Winkler to his wife.

Picketts Mill, Georgia

Picketts Mill, Georgia

May 27– Friday– Pickett’s Mill, Georgia– In hard fighting, Confederates repulse a Federal attack with heavy losses. Total casualties– dead, wounded, missing– are estimated at 1,600 for the Union and about 500 for the Confederates.

May 27– Friday– Meridian, Mississippi– “It would be superfluous for me here to advert to the skill and gallantry displayed by . . . [General] Forrest and the officers and men under his command in the engagements above referred to, in which such a handsome addition has been made to the trophies we have wrested from the enemy. Few cavalry raids have been productive of such brilliant results to our arms or of such disastrous discomfiture to the enemy as that which has rendered famous the expedition whence General Forrest’s command has just returned. I will direct that Union City and Fort Pillow be inscribed on the colors of those organizations which distinguished themselves in these engagements.” ~ Report from Confederate General Stephen Dill Lee.

May 27– Friday– Hanover Junction, Virginia; Mout Zion Church, Georgia; Sexton’s Station, Virginia; Pond Springs, Alabama; Pole Cat Creek, Virginia; Greenville, Mississippi; Salem Church, Virginia; Cassville, Georgia; Dabney’s Ferry, Virginia; Shanghai, Missouri; Mount Carmel Church, Virginia; Haovertown, Virginia– Skirmishes and bloody encounters.

May 27–Friday– Montreal, Canada–While serving as U S Consul-General, Joshua R Giddings dies at age 68. [Giddings, Pennsylvania-born, whose family moved to Ohio when he was 10, was an adamant and uncompromising abolitionist who served 20 years in Congress, much to the distress of Southerners. He was a friend of John Quincy Adams, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips and Charles Sumner. See, Arguing about Slavery: John Quincy Adams and the Great Battle in the United States Congress by William Lee Miller (1995); The Life of Joshua R Giddings by George Washington Julian (1892); Joshua Reed Giddings, a Champion of Political Freedom by Byron R Long (1919); Joshua R Giddings and the Tactics of Radical Politics by James Brewer Stewart (1970).]

Joshua Giddings

Joshua Giddings

May 28– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “In reply to a resolution of the Senate of the 25th instant, relating to Mexican affairs, I transmit a partial report from the Secretary of State of this date, with the papers therein mentioned.” ~ Message from President Lincoln updating the Senate about the situation in Mexico.

May 28– Saturday– Staunton, Virginia– “As an other opportunity offers, I write hoping that it may reach you. I am now improving in health. Dr Murphy stopped with us a few days. I got him to prescribe for me. I have since been taking his medicine and with quite good effect I feel more relief than from anything taken before . . . . I’m still running the Hotel but there is not much doing now being but little travel since the commencement of the fighting . . . . I have been waiting anxiously for a chance to get home but I see none as yet. I am so anxious to be with you. I do wish you were here or me there. I am sorely tired of this way living & am anxious for a change for the better. Mrs Thomas & family & Miss Fanny Snodgrass are here & some two other families which makes some company and the little children running about makes it feel more like home than formerly but I hope this state of things won’t exist long & that we may soon be together to remain so for all time. Mrs Hersch who visited you sometime ago, gave me word that you were well &c &c– why did you not write by her? You are too cruel keeping me in such suspense for a little writing when you have so many chances to write & don t but I hope you will make amends for this cruelty.” ~ Letter from John Quincy Nadenbousch to his wife Hester.

May 28– Saturday– Macon, Georgia– “Since I last wrote you we have been removed from Libby [Prison in Richmond, Virginia] to this place here we are encamped in a fair ground with open air exercise & good water. The change is I think a healthy one. . . . I have not heard from Brother Frank since I last wrote. He is some 70 miles from here at Andersonville Georgia. Farther we are all anxiously hoping for an exchange. I cannot see why it does not take place. Some of us have now been prisoners over a year. Perhaps when we least think of it the happy moment will come. . . . Farther I like the climate down here very much, it is just the weather for me. Warm.” ~ Letter from Union soldier James A Carman to his father in Pennsylvania.

May 28–Saturday– Lamar, Missouri–Confederate forces pillage the town.

May 28–Saturday– Veracruz, Mexico– The nobles Maximilian, age 32, and his wife Charlotte, age 24, arrive from Europe. Maximilian has claimed the throne of Mexico at urging of and with the military support of French Emperor Napoleon III. [Maximilian will be captured by the Mexicans and executed June 19, 1867. Charlotte will flee to Europe before her husband’s capture and will eventually die in seclusion in Belgium on January 19, 1927.]

Emperor Maxillian

Emperor Maxillian

May 29– Sunday– New York City– “News from Grant. He retired across the North Anna, but moved quickly down its left bank and down that the Pamunkey, crossed it, turning Lee’s position, and held Hanover (not Hanover C.H.) Some twelve miles from Richmond on Friday. If this series of bold movements succeed, Grant will be held a great general. Should Lee be forced to cross the James River, rebeldom will totter to its base. God grant it!” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

May 29– Sunday– Peakes Station, Virginia– “We left our works about noon and marched . . . we found part of our 6th Corp tearing up the railroad. We formed in line to defend them from the Rebels should they appear. Tearing up railroads is an old trick of ours. The Rebel lines are in sight of us but we hope to make them move on again soon.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

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