Great Mischief to the Rebels~ June 1864~ 25th to 28th

Great Mischief to the Rebels ~ Gideon Welles

In northern Virginia Union General Hunter is putting hurt on the Confederacy. Sherman slowly, and with some setbacks, tightens the hold on the Atlanta region. Grant settles in the lay siege to Petersburg. Lincoln accepts his party’s nomination.


June 25– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– “Mary C. Jenkins, a well grown white girl of thirteen or fourteen, was brought into court on the charge of having ‘no where to stay.’ Watchman Webb said he had found her on 17th Street, at a late hour on the previous night, when she told him she had been sent away from Howard’s Grove Hospital, and had no house. The girl, who was not very intelligent, told the mayor that her father and mother had been dead a great while, she did not know how long; she had been staying at Howard’s Grove Hospital, attending to the sick, she did know how long, and that she had been turned out. The Mayor directed her to be carried to the overseers of the poor. We must say that an army hospital, with all its hangers-on, and rats, and medical students, and free Negroes, was [not] a sweet home for an unprotected of this age. The greatest act of kindness she received there was when they turned her out.” ~ Richmond Sentinel.

June 25– Saturday– near Kolb’s Farm, Georgia– “We are still in the same position we occupied day before yesterday. It is like so many we have had during this campaign, very close to the enemy’s pickets, and as the pickets keep firing constantly a great many bullets are thrown into the line, although in the second line I have had my men put up breastworks for their protection and a barricade of two lengths of rails, about four feet high, and covered with earth on the outside, sheltering our regimental headquarters from the intrusion of stray bullets; in the front line quite a number have been hurt, but not severely. It is a disagreeable mode of fighting. During these days when there is no engagement and you ought to be at rest, there is constant firing all around, and you are never out of danger and an hardly move about without indiscreet exposure. I know how much we lose in these many successive small battles, but we have as yet had no fighting at all compared to that of Virginia, and this mode of fighting may yet continue a long time. I hope, oh, so earnestly, for some decisive event that may put a speedy end to the whole contest, but I do not exactly see how it is to come. . . . I was interrupted by heavy firing on the skirmish line, which brought us to our feet and on the alert. It is now past six o’clock, and the sun is very near down. We have had no rain since the 21st , and it is very, very hot. We are in an open field and the only means we have of sheltering ourselves from the hot rays of the sun is to get young trees from the neighboring woods and build arbors.” ~ Letter from Union officer Fredrick C. Winkler to his wife.

Union trenches in Georgia

Union trenches in Georgia

June 25– Saturday– Andersonville, Georgia– At the prison camp, the chief surgeon establishes a separate Confederate hospital to treat sick Southern troops on the post, many of whom are dying from the same diseases as the Union prisoners – gangrene, scurvy, smallpox, and dysentery, which is the biggest killer due in part to coarsely ground cornmeal being used as food.

June 25– Saturday– Briesen, West Prussia [now Poland]– Birth of Walther Nernst, chemist who will win the 1920 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. [Dies November 18, 1941.]

Walter Nernst

Walter Nernst

June 26– Sunday– near Petersburg, Virginia– “Hurrah! My commission as Captain in the 2nd Rhode Island Volunteers has arrived.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

June 26– Sunday– Petersburg, Virginia– “Yesterday evening after I was almost exhausted attending the wounded, your last most interesting letter of the 1st inst. was received and I assure you it exerted a most revivifying influence. Since we came to the South side of the James River, our communication has been so often disturbed, that I had almost despaired of receiving your dear letters or of writing myself. Communication is now cut off, so I’m afraid you will not receive this in some time if ever. I will write, tho, as it will somewhat ease my anxiety. In other words I will feel better. I am considerable better than I was before, but still very weak and hardly able to keep up. I hope we will have a little rest soon. Our brigade has been in two fights recently, losing a good many men. About fifty killed, and nearly two hundred wounded. How long this kind of war will continue no one knows, but I hope it will stop soon, a great many of our men are becoming sick and broken down. One side or the other will have to stop pretty soon or each army will be very much reduced. The people here are very kind indeed. They visit our hospitals with refreshments every evening. They are doing all they can for the soldiers.” ~ Letters from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee, Maggie Cone.

June 27– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Your letter of the 14th instant, formally notifying me that I have been nominated by the convention you represent for the Presidency of the United States for four years from the 4th of March next, has been received. The nomination is gratefully accepted, as the resolutions of the convention, called the platform, are heartily approved. While the resolution in regard to the supplanting of republican government upon the Western Continent is fully concurred in, there might be misunderstanding were I not to say that the position of the Government in relation to the action of France in Mexico, as assumed through the State Department and indorsed by the convention among the measures and acts of the Executive, will be faithfully maintained so long as the state of facts shall leave that position pertinent and applicable. I am especially gratified that the soldier and seaman were not forgotten by the convention, as they forever must and will be remembered by the grateful country for whose salvation they devote their lives.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln formally accepting his nomination.

campaign poster

campaign poster

June 27– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– “We understand that the Confederate exchange authorities have notified the similar authorities at Fortress Monroe that no more flag of truce steamers will be allowed to ascend the James River until Grant and Butler shall have been defeated and driven from before Richmond and Petersburg, and this hurly-burly’s done. This is perfectly right and proper. We want no Yankee, under a flag of truce, ‘nosing’ around our defenses of the James in these times, when even the very walls have ears and eyes. A mail of about forty thousand letters has already accumulated, awaiting a flag of truce steamer to be forwarded North. It will have to wait. In the meantime we would advise persons who design writing by this channel to put off doing so until it is ascertained that communication by flag of truce has been resumed regularly.” ~ Richmond Examiner

June 27– Monday– near Petersburg, Virginia– “We are now having an easy time on our line, nothing to do but watch the Rebels. Fighting is going on every hour on some part of the line, and our turn will come again soon enough. Yesterday some of my men discovered an ice house full of ice and we have been having a luxury in the way of iced water. Yesterday being Sunday I attended service at the camp of the 37th Massachusetts Volunteers.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

June 27– Monday– Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia– In a bloody battle the Confederates under General Johnston halt Sherman’s advance through Georgia. Total Federal casualties– dead, wounded and missing–total 2,051. Confederate total is somewhere over 500.

Confederate positions

Confederate positions

June 27– Monday– Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia– “I find that newspaper reporters give the most extravagant and exaggerated accounts of small engagements, and even where there are no engagements. To us, who know the truth, these accounts are often absolutely sickening. A Nashville paper, for instance, has a long, glowing and minute account of Hooker’s magnificent assault upon Lost Mountain, capturing over one thousand Prisoners and twelve pieces of artillery, and of Schofield’s contemporaneous assault on Pine Knob. Neither Lost Mountain nor Pine Knob have ever been assaulted by any of our forces; the former, I believe the enemy never occupied. He had a strong line extending across the latter and towards Lost Mountain, and we took up a strong line in front of it on the 6th instant. Our whole army took position there and fortified and there it remained until the 15th instant, from time to time throwing shell into the rebel lines, one of which proved fatal to Lieutenant General Polk. On the 15th, it was found that the enemy had evacuated, and then we occupied and advanced beyond his line.” ~ Letter from Union officer Fredrick C. Winkler to his family.

June 27– Monday– International waters off the Bahamas–A U S warship captures a British merchant ship attempting to run the blockade.

June 28– Tuesday– Brooklyn, New York– “I have been improving for the last two days, & think I shall be up & around soon, as well as ever. I have had the services of a good physician, who has allowed me to get well quite naturally– he decided that the only thing needing serious watching was the throat, & had prepared if the disease there went beyond a certain point to call in a skillful New York doctor, for consultation, but fortunately we were saved the trouble. I felt a good deal like myself the most of yesterday, & the same to-day so I don’t think I am hurrahing before I am out of the woods. We have a letter from my brother George, down to 18th instant he was all safe. My mother & folks are all well.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his friend Charles W. Eldridge.

June 28– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “In answer to the resolution of the Senate of the 24th instant requesting information in regard to the alleged enlistment in foreign countries of recruits for the military and naval service of the United States, I transmit reports from the Secretaries of State, of War, and of the Navy, respectively.” ~ Message from President Lincoln to the Senate.

June 28– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.–Congress passes a bill which repeals the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

Union General David Hunter

Union General David Hunter

June 28– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “We have bad news from Sherman to-day. Neither Seward, Chase, nor Stanton was at the Cabinet-meeting. The President, like myself, slightly indisposed. Mrs. General Hunter was at our house this evening and has tidings of a favorable character from her husband, who is in the western part of Virginia. Has done great mischief to the Rebels, and got off safely and well. This small bit of good news is a relief, as we are getting nothing good from the great armies.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

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