Making A Winter Campaign~ November 1864~ 5th to 8th

Making a Winter Campaign ~ John Jones.

Regardless of the coming of cold weather, fighting will not slow down nor come to a stop. Grant continues the relentless siege of Petersburg. Sheridan’s troops remain active in the Shenandoah. Folks in Georgia expect Sherman to try something, although they are not sure exactly what is about to do. Some Southerners resign themselves to Lincoln’s reelection with the hope that he will agree to peace and cease his embrace of the abolition of slavery. Election day comes, crowds turn out to vote, and plenty of soldiers vote for Lincoln.

Federal troops operating in the Shenandoah Valley

Federal troops operating in the Shenandoah Valley

November 5– Saturday– New Market, Virginia– “We have been such rovers this summer that I have been in the saddle more hours than in my office & now the Reports of the years operations are to be made out & the number of maps, plans of battles &c to be made is almost incredible, but I have gone at it with a will & intend to finish them within the year, if possible. Everything is quiet – we are drilling the army & getting it thoroughly reorganized & ready for any emergency or opportunity. The reserves & detailed men are coming in rapidly & being examined & assigned either to the army or light duty, as they are found capable or not. . . . I still think all ‘things work together for good’ to indicate a speedy conclusion of the war & if we are able to keep the enemy at bay, as heretofore, to the end of this campaign we shall not be troubled by them another year – I learn from a scout that the prevailing opinion at the ‘North’ is that the war will end this year. By the way, the Yankees down here say they are going back below Winchester as soon as the Election is over . . . . The Methodists are having ‘Big Meetings’ here & revivals – crowded houses day & night – the soldiers are near enough to come to meeting.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Jedediah Hotchkiss to Sara, his wife.

November 5– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– “Clear and cold. Grant has attempted nothing this week, and it is probably too late for any demonstration to affect the election. I infer that the government is convinced President Lincoln will be re-elected, else some desperate effort would have been made in his behalf by his generals. Will he float on a sea of blood another four years? I doubt it. One side or the other must, I think, give up the contest. He can afford to break with the Abolitionists now. We cannot submit without the loss of everything. It is thought Grant will continue to ‘swing to the left,’ making a winter campaign on the coasts of North and South Carolina– mean time leaving Butler’s army here, always menacing Richmond.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

November 5– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– “William, slave of Miss Sallie Tompkins, was charged with burglary. It seems that about 8 o’clock Thursday night, William went to the confectionery in rear of St. Paul’s church, belonging to Francis M. Bonavite, and staving in one of the window glasses, abstracted a jar of brandy peaches and ten pounds of chewing tobacco, and made off. An old gentleman who happened to be passing, saw the transaction and gave the alarm. Watchman Blake and another being close at hand, pursued the thief and captured him with the stolen goods in his hands. The Mayor sent the Negro on for trial.” ~ Richmond Sentinel.

November 5– Saturday – Clay County, Mississippi– “Lou and I spent the day with Mrs. Hamilton, who is dangerously ill. Mrs. Willie Young came after Tea, and sat until bed time. Mrs. Tom Young, Lou and I sat up all night, sent two messages for Dr. Smith– got back until daylight. She was over the sick spell, and the Doctors pronounce her out of danger.” ~ Diary of Belle Edmondson.

November 5– Saturday– Fort Haskell, Virginia; Fort Morton, Virginia; Bloomfield, Kentucky; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Texas County, Missouri; Charleston, Missouri– Raids and firefights.Lincoln & a widow images

November 6– Sunday– near Middletown, Virginia– “The ground was covered with snow this morning and the mountains are white on their summits. Today I took a ride over to the camp of the 1st Rhode Island Cavalry and saw several of my friends. It is very cold and the men hover over their fires.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

November 6– Sunday– Petersburg, Virginia– “Winter has come, and with it our sufferings have commenced. Every morning the ground is covered with thick white frost. For the past two or three days the wind has been blowing a perfect gale. There is no comfort at all standing round a fire built out of doors, which you know is the kind we have. Some of the soldiers have dug holes in the ground, and manage to keep themselves quite comfortable, if nothing calls them off. ‘Tis said we will soon receive large tents, I don’t believe it, tho we’ve been promised that too often. I believe we will have peace sooner by the election of Lincoln than by the election of McClellan. The former will fail to gain the support of the people & thereby cause a division, while the election of the latter will cause a uniting of the North, upon a new principle of conducting the war, and divide the South by offering peace upon a reconstruction of the Union. A great many would undoubtedly accede to such a proposition. So after all I’ve become a rabid Lincolnite, what do you think of it? I went to church in Petersburg this morning and listened to a most interesting sermon. I attended the Methodist church. There was quite a large congregation present. The church being in an exposed portion of the city and thereby subject to being struck by shells from the guns of the enemy, you would think it dangerous, at least imprudent for ladies to attend; but strange to say, it has so far been untouched. I attend almost every Sunday, when all is quiet along the lines.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee Maggie Cone.

siege around Petersburg

siege around Petersburg

November 6– Sunday– Chicago, Illinois– Federal authorities arrest several men accused of plotting an attack against the city and an effort to free Confederate prisoners held at Camp Douglas.

November 7– Monday– Plymouth, Michigan– “My foot is quite well so much so that one can not tell of my being hit there. Shortly after I came to the city again to be Mounted on a Horse & we layed [sic] in the Defenses of Washington the time the Rebels came to attack the City. Then I went up the Shenandoah Valley until the 24th day of August where I was Discharged. There was some very heavy fighting up there under Phil Sheridan & perhaps he has warmed the Johnnys since then. . . . Dear Uncle you gave me one of your Photographs & I shall always carry it with me in Remembrance of a Kind Friend & one who I have thought a good deal of. I hope that you will over look this neglect of mine in not writing you before this. This is rather bad writing any how & I am afraid you will bother yourself in reading what I have scribbled. My health is very good at present. Also the same I wish to you. My best wishes goes with this to you. ~ Letter from Reuben Farwell to Walt Whitman.

November 7– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– “Dark and raining. Cannon heard down the river. To-day our Congress assembles. Senator Johnson, of Missouri (who relinquished six years in United States Senate and $200,000 for the cause), called to see me. He is hopeful of success in the West.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

November 7– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– “Emmett Ruffin and Thomas S. Dodge were yesterday evening arrested, by officers Chalkley and Griffin, on 6th Street, near the Second Baptist Church, while with a good many other boys, they were engaged in a rock battle with some ‘basin cats.’ None of the ‘basin cats’ were arrested, as they fled to their fastnesses on the approach of the officers. This practice of throwing stones in the streets has become an intolerable public grievance. Every evening a crowd of boys collect on Navy Hill, and, with slings, stone every Negro that passes within two hundred yards of them. We expect to hear of some of the Negroes being killed, as even a very small boy can throw a stone from a sling with sufficient force to break the skull of a Negro.” ~ Richmond Sentinel.

activity around Petersburg

activity around Petersburg

November 7– Monday– Pulaski, Tennessee– “I again write to you to let you know where we have got to by this time. We came to this place on Saturday. It has been raining ever since we left Louisville. We are camping out now in tents. We are doing very well. I have gained 9pounds since I left home. If I gain as much in proportion until my time is out I will be quite portly. We get plenty to eat here and have nothing to do. The probability is we will stay here all winter. I hope we will as it is a very good place to camp. There is quite an army here and it is still increasing. They are fortifying all around here. We are in a valley with large hills all around. There is nothing going on here, only army movements. Farming has played out in this part of the country. There is very good land here but it is of no use to anybody.” ~ Letter from Union soldier John Seibert to his wife Rachel.

November 8– Tuesday– New York City– “So this momentous day is over and the battle lost and won. We shall know more of the result tomorrow. Present signs are not unfavorable. Wet weather, which did not prevent a very heavy vote. I stood in queue nearly two hours waiting my turn.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

November 8– Tuesday– near Middletown, Virginia– “Today we have held an election for President under the law that allows soldiers to vote. Lincoln of course is the favorite with the soldiers. For three days it has rained and we have been under arms every morning at daylight waiting for the enemy to appear, but he does not show up.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

Union soldiers vote on election day

Union soldiers vote on election day

November 8– Tuesday– New Market, Virginia– “We are off again tomorrow, I suppose, for ‘down the Valley’ again, as it is reported that the Yankees have left Cedar Creek & we must go to see where they have gone & keep watch of them that they do not slip off to Richmond & so bring an undue force against Masa Robert. We are all in a good humor at the idea, poor creatures that we are, we soon get tired of the quiet & monotony of ‘camp life’ & long for the ‘storm & bustle & hurricane of war.’ Heaven grant that we may meet with no disaster & that we may not have to fight another battle this fall & sadden many a hearthstone with the inevitable news. I was talking with Mr. Lacy today & he says he can but think as I do, that in the good Providence of God this year will end this long & cruel war. I do not see that any good can come to us from this Yankee election & yet I long to know how it has gone – to know if the majority of the people have approved the course of ‘Old Abe’ for the last four years & desire a continuance of the same. I do not think there will be a real election, so many have been sent from the army & from government employ to use the influence, patronage & means of corruption at their disposal that they will carry the election by fraud, if no other way. One of the Consuls of the ‘Hessian States’ from New York has been here for a few days – he left there three weeks ago – he says there are many Southern sympathizers there, but they are so closely watched that they do not dare to express their sentiments – he also says that the frauds practiced on foreigners to entrap them into service are almost beyond belief. I send you the paper today containing the President’s Message – he broaches some ‘new doctrines’ – the country is much divided in regard to the proper employment of the slaves – I think the soldiers are opposed to arming them – they want them used as wagoners &c but are unwilling to see arms put into their hands – the President handles the subject cautiously as though treading on uncertain ground. I wrote you that I was very busy, am really tired. I have been working so closely, & am glad to ride again & have field duty – then it has turned warmer today & the air is inviting – I suppose we shall now have ‘Indian Summer.’ . . . General Early has issued orders in regard to the keeping of the Sabbath, getting liquor &c which have had a fine effect; the men have been kept in camp & drilled most of the time, then so many have come back from hospitals &c and filled up our depleted ranks & so I might go on – ‘hopeful as usual’ you will say. ~ Letter from Confederate officer Jedediah Hotchkiss to his wife Sara.

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