Keep the Rebels Constantly Engaged~August 1864~the 10th to 12th

Keep the Rebels Constantly Engaged ~ a Union officer.

Sherman’s Federals inch closer to Atlanta; soldiers and civilians of Georgia feels the pain. General Hood commands his soldiers not to steal from civilians. A Richmond paper mocks black Union soldiers. Dr Mary Walker is released in a prisoner exchange. Lincoln’s reelection campaign is in trouble. Memphis moves toward establishing a public school system. The British Parliament expresses concern about the number of males emigrating to the United States. A very limited election is held in Belgium.

atlanta siege images

August 10– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “In a batch of about ninety wounded Yankee prisoners, who were brought over yesterday evening, there were a dozen wounded Yankee Negro soldiers. They were the most villainous looking black scoundrels we ever set eyes on. Any . . . notions about Fort Pillow with which they may have gone into the fight on the 30th, have been pretty effectually taken out of them. As all of them that could walk landed from the [railroad] cars and marched off with their white brothers to the Libby, they were gazed upon with intense interest by about five hundred of our Negroes [slaves], who, we do not think, saw anything in their plight or appearance calculated to inspire a desire to go soldiering. They looked as if they had been frightened into permanent idiocy, and smelt – whew!” ~ Richmond Sentinel.

August 10– Wednesday– Atlanta, Georgia– The Federal artillery bombardment of the city escalates. Union batteries begin firing new 4 ½ -inch rifled cannon, each weapon firing every five minutes. Even so General Sherman complains of not hearing the guns fire enough, so the frequency of shelling increases even further.

August 10– Wednesday– Griffin, Georgia– “Oh, my dear. I can’t express myself to you. I am here in a helpless condition, suffering pain indescribable and no hand of a loving Wife to sooth my pain. . . . the wound is . . . so sore I can’t walk. . . . if he [their son] has not gone to my regiment, don’t let him go there. It will be a long time before I get back there. That is a hard place. If he has to go anywhere before I get home, he had better sign to the Georgia state troops. Keep him at home if you [can] until I come.” ~ Letter from a wounded Confederate soldier to his wife.

August 10– Wednesday– Lovejoy’s Station, Georgia; near Gaines’ Landing, Arkansas; Baldwin, Florida; near Stone Chapel, Virginia; on the Tallahatchie River, Mississippi– Armed contests, hard skirmishes and violent affairs.

August 10– Wednesday– Warwickshire, England– Thomas Baker, landscape painter, dies at age 55.

August 11– Thursday– near Winchester, Virginia– “We are not far from the city of Winchester which I hope to visit, for it is a famous place in the Shenandoah Valley and said to be a fine little city. Several battles have been fought there during the war.” ~ Diary of Union officer Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

August 11– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Hot and dry. Dispatches from secret agents at Washington state that Grant and his staff have arrived, that half his army preceded him, and the remainder will soon follow. The campaign is considered a disastrous failure, and it is anticipated that henceforth the scene of operations is to be transferred from Richmond to Washington. They say President Lincoln’s face expresses ‘great terror’ and affairs there are in a critical condition.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

Sherman inspects artillery firing into Atlanta

Sherman inspects artillery firing into Atlanta

August 11– Thursday– Cobb County, Georgia– “Cool & pleasant this morning, how cheering it would be if I were in Savannah to take a ride with my wife out to the Bridge for the day, instead of being as I am today confined at Home, away from all who render life dear to me, but the varieties of Life are beneficial, & therefore out to be cheerfully submitted to. Mr. Shepard made me a visit this morning, nothing new.” ~ Diary of William King.

August 11– Thursday– Atlanta, Georgia– In a message to the Inspector-General for the Confederate Army in Richmond, General John Bell Hood requests the impressment of 4000 slaves “for teamsters and other services in this army” to help in the defense of Atlanta.

August 11– Thursday– Andersonville, Georgia– A hard storm washes away part of the west wall near the prison creating fear among the guards of a possible massive escape. Guards are stationed at the gap to prevent any of the nearly 33,000 inmates from fleeing and telegraph messages are sent to Richmond asking that no more prisoners be sent.

Andersonville prison

Andersonville prison

August 11– Thursday– Memphis, Tennessee– “We call the attention of individuals concerned to an advertisement we publish this morning in reference to the erection of school houses. We learn that an application has been forwarded from the School Board to the Mayor and Aldermen, asking the latter to confirm their selection of spots for building the much needed school houses. . . . It will be seen that the selections have been made in reference to the city as it will be-one of the school houses being placed in the northern, one in the southern, and the other in the eastern portion of the city. The School Board has been very industrious on this subject, and has shown an anxiety to advance the great work of education that does it infinite honor. Such actions are a benefit to mankind. The truth is too well known to be denied, that the cause of education has hitherto had but few friends in Memphis. The amount of public spirit aroused in the cause of the material advancement of the city was great, but the momentous work of the mental improvement of our citizens had few friends; the consequence was that while we put up splendid blocks of business buildings, we raised no school housed, and had not [a] public library. Thank God . . . the day of school houses and libraries come. It now remains with the Board of Aldermen to complete the work so nobly begun by the School Board. The Aldermen have been chosen to their office in a peculiar way; in no better manner can they prove the excellence of the measure by which they obtained office, than by handing their fame down to future generations, as the Board of Aldermen that built the first public SCHOOL houses in Memphis.” ~ Memphis Bulletin.

August 11– Thursday– Winchester, Virginia; Newtown, Virginia; near White Post, Virginia; White Oak Creek, Arkansas; Crawford County, Arkansas; Hartville, Missouri; Kent’s Landing, Arkansas– Brawls, affairs, clashes and minor actions.

August 11– Thursday– Brussels, Belgium– In general elections held in Belgium for the Chamber of Representatives the result is a victory for the Liberal Party, which wins 64 of the 116 seats. Voter turnout is 81.0%, although only 103,717 people (2.1% of the population) are eligible to vote.

Belgian Parliament

Belgian Parliament

August 12– Friday– New York City– “In the House of Commons, July 28, Lord E. Howard rose to call attention to the subject of emigration to the United States of America, in reference to the prolongation of the war now raging in that country . . . . The noble lord said that the gravity of the subject should be his justification for bringing it forward at that late period of the session. In consequence of his position as a member of the Distress Relief Committee at Glossop, one of the towns most affected by the cotton distress, he found it became necessary to have a census made of the population in that district, and one of the elements of the census was the question of emigration. He found that a large emigration had prevailed from that district, and in the course of inquiries he found that it was also large from the cotton districts in general. In 22 towns . . . within a few months, setting aside single men, of married men alone not fewer than 1,400 had left this country for the United States of America, of whom 780 had deserted their wives and families, leaving 2,160 persons chargeable upon the rates [i.e. public assistance] . Besides that, he had the names of 14 persons who had emigrated from one locality in Manchester within three months and of these, no less than twelve had also deserted their wives and families, and probably, most of these were young and newly married men. These circumstances tended to show that there must be some deep cause at work.” ~ New York Times.

Great Britain's Parliament

Great Britain’s Parliament

August 12– Friday– Milltown, Virginia– “There is a large flour mill here owned by a Mr Hollinsworth who lives in a fine brick house with pleasant grounds. Mr Hollinsworth and wife offered me the use of a room but I preferred to sleep under the trees. The family were strong Union people and I have arranged to take my meals with them. I have taken a ride into the city [Winchester] and found many Union people. In fact we were very much surprised to be treated so kindly. Winchester is an old-fashioned sort of place, inclined to be aristocratic but its glory departed on the advent of the war. This evening myself and officers passed the evening with Mr and Mrs Hollinsworth and Mrs H gave us some good music on the piano.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

August 12– Friday– Washington, D.C.– Thurlow Weed meets with President Lincoln and advises him that “reelection is an impossibility” because the President has angered the Radical Republicans who want harsher measures approved against the South for reconstruction after the war as well as conservative members of the party who worry about the increasing cost and increasing death toll. [Weed, journalist and politician from New York, age 66 at this time, has emerged as a wheeler-dealer in the Republican Party, is opposed to the Radicals such as Charles Sumner and fears abolitionist influences on Lincoln. He favored some other candidate rather than Lincoln. Weed dies November 22, 1882 at age 85.]

Thurlow Weed

Thurlow Weed

August 12– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “This has been one of the warmest and most uncomfortable days of the season. For several days the weather has been extremely warm. A telegram from New York to-day said that ice could not be procured so rapidly as was wanted for the steamer to proceed to the squadron at Mobile to relieve the wounded and sick. I directed them to seize if necessary. Delay is not admissible at such a time.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

August 12– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– As part of a limited prisoner exchange, Dr Mary Walker, Union physician, is freed in exchange for a Confederate doctor. She is personally delighted because she, a civilian volunteer without rank, is swapped for a physician from the rebel army with the rank of major.

Dr Mary Walker

Dr Mary Walker

August 12– Friday– Atlanta, Georgia– “The lawless seizure and destruction of private property by straggling soldiers in the rear and on the flanks of this army has become intolerable. It must come to an end. It is believed to be chargeable to worthless men, especially from mounted commands, who are odious alike to the citizen and the well-disposed soldier. Citizens and soldiers are, therefore, called upon to arrest and forward to the provost-marshal-general all persons guilty of wanton destruction or illegal seizure of property, that examples may be immediately made. The laws of war justify the execution of such offenders, and those laws shall govern. . . . In any cases where it is shown that an officer, high or low, has permitted or failed to take proper steps to prevent such depredations as those complained of herein, he shall be deprived of his commission. Hereafter all cavalry horses must be branded. . . . No purchase or exchange of horses will be permitted except by authority of the company and regimental commanders. . . . Citizens are warned not to purchase from or exchange horses with soldiers, except when the authority for the transaction is previously had from the company and regimental commanders. Otherwise they may lose their property and will fail to receive the support of the military authorities.” ~ Order from Confederate General John Bell Hood.

August 12– Friday– Atlanta, Georgia– “Tell the Negroes to stay at home and not to be led into any difficulty, for there will apt to be hanging done. If the Negroes are unruly, tell them I have been a good master, have waited on and cared for them when sick and now they must fight for you and the children if necessary. Give them more meat than you have been giving them. There is no chance for me to be discharged. They do not even doctor rheumatic men up here.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to his wife.


August 12– Friday– outside of Atlanta, Georgia– “I went on duty yesterday at noon and continued until daylight today. It was rather a hard tour and I cannot get a moment’s rest by day, on account of the flies. Not until night can we get the benefit of night’s sweet restorer. There is nothing new today. We keep digging, getting up closer and closer to the rebels and bringing new and heavy pieces of artillery into advantageous positions. Both armies use their artillery to a considerable extent. The enemy has nothing but our thin lines to fire at and do little damage; our artillery is certainty superior to theirs and plays into their forts and the city. There is constant firing along the picket line too, and every now and then a bullet flies into camp. Still we are enjoying a comparative rest. I rather think the plan is to keep the rebels constantly engaged and to hold them here, rather than to push vigorously for the possession of Atlanta, for upon the evacuation of Atlanta, it will be rather difficult to follow up the rebel army, and still it would hardly do to let it slip away from us elsewhere.” ~ Letter from Union officer Fredrick C. Winkler to his wife Frances.

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