The Loss of Atlanta is a Stunning Blow~September 1864~the 5th & 6th

The Loss of Atlanta Is a Stunning Blow~ John Jones.

In Richmond a government clerk admits the seriousness of the fall of Atlanta. General Lee wants 2,000 slaves for manual labor to help the army. A young woman in Virginia ponders her future. A Confederate officer supposes that McClellan will win the presidency of the United States while a Union officer reaches the opposite conclusion. Perhaps worried about Sherman’s success at Atlanta, Confederate officials begin transferring thousands of Union prisoners out of Andersonville. The Masons help the people of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. General Grant writes home. A woman fleeing the South reaches Boston. A soldier writes to Whitman.

the burnt courthouse at Chambersburg

the burnt courthouse at Chambersburg

September 5– Monday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– “A communication was received from George Washington Lodge, No. 143, located at Chambersburg, through a committee consisting of brothers Thomas Barnhart, George W. Brewer, and H. S. Stoner, appealing to the Grand Lodge for relief for the suffering brethren of said Lodge, made destitute by the terrible conflagration consequent upon the recent rebel raid at that place. A full statement of the facts, and earnest appeal on behalf of the suffering brethren, having been made by brother Brewer, one of the committee, brother Lamberton, Deputy Grand Master of the District, and also by a number of the members of the Grand Lodge, it was unanimously Resolved, That this Grand Lodge contribute the sum of Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000) in aid of the suffering brethren by the late disastrous conflagration at Chambersburg, such sum to be paid to the committee of George Washington Lodge, No. 143, and that it be recommended to all the subordinate lodges in its jurisdiction to grant such aid as may be in their power.” ~ Minutes of meeting of the Grand Masonic Lodge. [The $2,000 gift would equal $30,600 in today’s dollars, using the Consumer Price Index.]

September 5– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Lew tells me he has just finished writing to you, and I take the opportunity of sending a few lines in his letter, as a slight token of my affectionate regard for you. I am sorry to hear you have been ill; but hope that by this time you have fully recovered; and that we shall soon have the pleasure of seeing you in Washington, where you are so much missed by your intimate friends and the soldiers in hospitals. I am at present rather unwell– with a bilious attack– but hope to be up again in a day or two. There was a salute of 100 guns fired here at noon today, in honor of the news from Atlanta, which creates quite a Jubilee. There is now quite a shower of rain falling, and Lew and Bartlett are having quite a time down stairs, while I am up here in our room, alternately throwing up bile, and writing to you. Very interesting, is it not? (I mean the bile affair.) If you have time, please write me sometimes, as I will always be very happy even to receive a few lines from you.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Joseph Harris to Walt Whitman.

September 5– Monday– Augusta County, Virginia– “I expect I will be the last one going into the Union. Although I would do most any thing to cause peace once more but it looks like we will never again See the same times we once did– we have some of the finest opportunities to have Sport making Apple butter but I can never enjoy myself as long as this war Continues. I think we would all forget that times ever were to be enjoyed if this war lasts two years longer. I don’t think I Can ever forgive the Enemy for those they have killed– I hope they will be made sorely repent for it but If they Continue fighting as they have recently they wont be a great number left on either side. . . . I will have to give you a pounding the first time I see you about that I would like to know your reason for doubting my Sincerity when I told you that I was not Engaged– you stated that you thought I was & you Could guess his name &c – I would like very much to hear the name. I’m in the dark about it myself. I am anxious to no what my name is to be. well Cousin we are having Some brandy made & I expect I will kill myself drinking. I am going to save some that I may get drunk when this Cruel war is over. I was coming from Greenville the other day & I met a soldier– he was as drunk as people generally get– he insisted on me drinking but I told him I never drank any. If I had only been acquainted with him I would certainly have plagued him enough but I was too bad scared to talk much– if they had only some person been along with me I would have taken his brandy like I was going to drink & kept it. he begged me to Excuse him for being drunk & I told him I would if he would do so no more & he promised he would do better but I know the boy’s promises are like pie crust– they are made to be broken– when they can get liquor to drink they never think of a promise.” ~ Letter from Mollie M Houser to her cousin James Houser.

September 5– Monday– Stephenson’s Depot, Virginia– “I suppose McClellan will be elected as nearly all the Army of the Potomac goes for him – Pendleton, the nominee for Vice President, is a man with strong Southern feelings & a peace man, it is said. Evidently the Peace & War men have made a compromise matter of the nominations & will all be for peace if the signs of the times are as much in our favor as they are now. We are very well assured of the fall of Atlanta, since the Yanks have official despatches announcing it, but we are full of hope that even good may come from temporary ill & that Hood has not given up the place but for good & sufficient reasons. I am in excellent health. Hope to hear from you today again – it seems a long time between your letters. Love to the children & blessings for you from our Merciful Heavenly Father.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Jedediah Hotchkiss to his wife Sara.

trench warfare in 1864

trench warfare in 1864

September 5– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– “Clear and warm. General Lee has called for 2000 Negroes (to be impressed) to work on the Petersburg fortifications. General Lee has been here two days, giving his advice, which I hope may be taken. . . . The loss of Atlanta is a stunning blow.” ~ Diary of John Jones. [Lee had on September 2nd written to President Jeff Davis and asked for slaves “in every place in the army or connected with it when [sic] . . . [they] can be used.” Thus he hoped to have white men released from jobs as teamsters, laborers, carpenters and so forth to fill his thinning ranks of fighters.]

September 5– Monday– City Point, Virginia– “Your theory about delays, either with Sherman or myself, was not correct. Our movements were co-operative but after starting each one has done all that he felt himself able to do. The country has been deceived about the size of our armies and also as to the number of the enemy. We have been contending against forces nearly equal to our own, moreover always on the defensive and strongly intrenched. Richmond will fall as Atlanta has done and the rebellion will be suppressed in spite of rebel resistance and Northern countenance and support. Julia and children are in Philadelphia. If I can get a house there, I will make that my home. Julia is very desirous that Jennie should make her home with us if she will, and if she will not do that, at least spend the fall and winter with us.” ~ Letter from Union General Ulysses S Grant to his father Jesse.

General Grant

General Grant

September 5– Monday– Atlantic Ocean, off the southeastern coast of the United States– A hurricane begins to rage today and continues through Thursday September 8th but it does not make landfall, other than dumping a lot of rain along the coast.

September 5– Monday– Atlanta, Georgia– “We have reliable information now that there has been severe fighting in the neighborhood of Jonesborough, and it would seem that such a whipping the rebels never got before. If reports are true, our prisoners count by thousands, and the rebel dead and wounded that remain on the field are said to exceed all precedent. They burned two trains, consisting of eighty cars, loaded with arms and ammunition the night before we took the city. There was a good deal of powder and many filled shells on the trains which exploded and were thrown all over the neighborhood; besides a large number of small arms, there were also two batteries of twelve pounders I exhumed from the ruins. We also found five very large siege guns in the city, which had only been brought up from Augusta two days before, and a number of smaller ones around in the city, all spiked. Their evacuation was certainly very precipitate. I think the military prospect is brightening and Mr. Lincoln will be re-elected, but, even if McClellan should be chosen, unless he repudiates every act and word of his past life, his course cannot be essentially different. It is quite remarkable how diametrically opposed McClellan’s course has been to that advocated by the present peace faction of the Democratic party. . . . I do not think General Howard was ever seriously thought of as a Democratic candidate. He is a strong anti-slavery man and a staunch supporter of the administration. . . . Thus the General [Sherman] . . . tells us of his plans for the future; it is well that he does, it will keep many from cherishing idle, demoralizing dreams of rest when there is work ahead. I expected another campaign this year. It is right that there should be one. The rebel army in its present demoralized state ought to be followed up, and the next three months certainly offer very good campaigning weather. I am ready for my part. If I could start out with four hundred muskets, as I did four months ago, it would be more gratifying. Three officers and thirty-two men killed, four officers and one hundred and fifty-three men wounded, are the casualties of the regiment in the last campaign; besides there is a large number of men sick in many of the large hospitals. That terrible army disease, scurvy, has made inroads upon us. This ever unchanging army ration is too bad. In Virginia we got potatoes, dried fruit, etc– here in such diminutive quantities. I hope we will get some little extras for the men during this month of rest, for we have less than two hundred men fit for duty now.” ~ Letters from Union officer Fredrick C. Winkler to his wife Frances.

pro-Lincoln poster by Thomas Nast calling for peace through victory

pro-Lincoln poster by Thomas Nast calling for peace through victory

September 5– Monday– Andersonville, Georgia– The Confederate government finally begins transferring Union prisoners out of the Andersonville prison camp to prisons in South Carolina and elsewhere in Georgia. [This will gradually reduce the inmate population at Andersonville from 33,000 to 5000 by October. There is concern in some Southern minds that Sherman will make a thrust southward from Atlanta for the 140 miles to Andersonville and free the Union prisoners.]

crowding at Andersonville

crowding at Andersonville

September 6– Tuesday– Providence, Rhode Island– Brown University celebrates its centennial. In his speech at the occasion Union General Ambrose Burnside calls for popular support of the army. “Our army is not a mercenary army. It is composed of our own citizens. Every praying man in the army – and there are a great many more of them than we are apt to imagine – I say, every praying man in our army asks of God daily, almost hourly, that peace may be reestablished; but whilst that desire is uppermost in his heart, no honest, loyal and true soldier will ever consent to a division of his country.”

September 6– Tuesday– Boston, Massachusetts– “A lady who left Richmond on the 25th of August, and who arrived in this city within a few days, gives an account of her sufferings and the state of affairs in the rebel capital, a synopsis of which we deem of interest to the public. She is a native of Fredericksburg, Virginia, but the principal part of her life has been passed in Massachusetts. In January, 1861, she went to Richmond to visit her mother, with whom she remained until her decease.

In December, 1863, being anxious to return North, where her husband and son resided, she obtained a pass for herself and little daughter through the rebel lines. On reaching the Blackwater River, she was arrested as a spy, taken to Petersburg, and subjected there to an insulting inquisition by the rebel General Pickett and his staff officers, who used every exertion to obtain evidence sufficient to bring her to trial by court-martial. Failing in that, they sent her to Richmond, where she was imprisoned in Castle Thunder four weeks, and subjected to great indignities. She was finally released . . . . On receiving her trunks from Petersburg, all valuables were found to be abstracted, for which the officer would give no account. . . . The lady reports the people of Richmond decidedly in favor of closing the war as they best can. They have lost all faith in the establishment of a separate Confederacy. The streets are now guarded by old gray-headed men, who have shut up their places of business, and been substituted for boys who have been sent to the front.” ~ Boston Transcript.

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