Monthly Archives: December 2014

Fourth Christmas in the Army ~ December 1864 ~ 24th and 25th

Fourth Christmas in the Army ~ Elisha Hunt Rhodes

Union officer Rhodes observes his fourth Christmas while giving all for the Union and wonders if it will be the last. Gideon Welles believes the rebellion is drawing to an end. Some Marylanders sees the end of slavery as a blessing. An officer sends George Whitman’s things to the family while George remains a prisoner. In Tennessee and especially in parts of Georgia residents sadly due without things to celebrate Christmas.

General Sherman reviews his cavalry

General Sherman reviews his cavalry

December 24– Saturday– Baltimore, Maryland– “The abolition of slavery in Maryland is attended with the good results the friends of emancipation expected. A steady stream of emigrants from our sister States, particularly Pennsylvania, is pouring in upon Us, now that ‘free labor’ has become a settled fact. In every county of the State, large sales of land have taken place during the past two months, and the purchasers are men who intend to settle to our midst, and who do not purchase for the sake of speculation. The worn-out and half-tilled tracts of the large slaveholder, in the hands of farmers who till their grounds by free labor who encourage free schools, and all the accompaniments of free institutions will soon place Maryland in the position among the free States that she should have occupied long ago.” ~ Baltimore American.

December 24– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “Called on the President to commute the punishment of a person condemned to be hung. He at once assented. Is always disposed to mitigate punishment, and to grant favors. Sometimes this is a weakness. As a matter of duty and friendship I mentioned to him the case of Laura Jones, a young lady who was residing in Richmond and there engaged to be married but came up three years ago to attend her sick mother and had been unable to pass through the lines and return. I briefly stated her case and handed a letter from her to Mrs. Welles that he might read. It was a touching appeal from the poor girl, who says truly the years of her youth are passing away. I knew if the President read the letter, Laura would get the pass. I therefore only mentioned some of the general facts. He at once said he would give her a pass. I told him her sympathies were with the Secessionists, and it would be better he should read her own statement. But he declined and said he would let her go; the war had depopulated the country and prevented marriages enough, and if he could do a kindness of this sort he was disposed to, unless I advised otherwise. He wrote a pass and handed [it to] me.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

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December 24– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– “There was no case of interest before the Mayor yesterday. The case of C. M. Rex, charged with stealing nitre from the Government, was, after being partially heard, continued. Rex alleges that he bought the nitre and other parties were in Court who had bought on the streets a similar article, but it was well established that it had been originally stolen from the laboratory. Four small white vagabonds, the oldest of whom was not more than twelve years old, were committed to jail for stealing iron from the Old Dominion Iron Works.” ~ Richmond Sentinel.

December 24– Saturday– Memphis, Tennessee– “I am now on the Mississippi a short distance above the fort, guarding a boat loaded with cotton which is under arrest. We have been here on the boat about two weeks but think we will be released in a few days and then I think we will go on a march to intercept [Confederate General] Hood– he is retreating from Nashville– some saying he is coming to Memphis. I wish he would. There was twenty five thousand calvary & infantry left here last week. I think they went toward Nashville. To day is a fine day but Thursday was pretty cold. This morning I seen a little ice floating down. The river is raising fast– lots of wood & all kind of things floating down. . . . They are now shelling the rebs across from where we are we can see them plain from here. The shells hum when they cross but [I] can’t see them– if it was night we could see them. I must now close as I must relieve the man that has been on guard.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Jacob Miller to his brother George.

Union soldiers celebrate Christmas in camp

Union soldiers celebrate Christmas in camp

December 24– Saturday– Maury County, Tennessee– “[Union] General John Croxton’s headquarters is in our house, with his whole brigade camped all over our yard, lots, lane and everywhere they can get near enough a fence to keep them in wood. With reluctance the General Ordered the provost guard to station out their guards all around the house, but it only gave the guards a better opportunity for marauding than the common soldiers, and they made the best of it. They took all the apples out of the cellar. They broke the weatherboarding off the house for fires, burnt the yard fences, went in our smoke house and took the meat. They cooked the last old gobbler and all the chickens over a fire in the yard. . . . There is great tribulation in the country, stealing horses, mules, hogs, breaking in houses. The soldiers are very insulting and impose on everybody, stealing and encouraging the blacks to steal and do every manner of rascality. Nothing is safe, no help is anywhere for our unfortunate condition. All, all that we have is nearly gone. How will we live? What will we eat? I wish there was a river of fire a mile wide between the North and the South that would burn with unquenchable fury forever more and that it could never be passed to the endless ages of eternity by any living creature. Is there no hope for this dying land? Tomorrow is Christmas day, a bitter one for us, black or white. A grey fox ran under the kitchen walk. I shot it for dinner. We have a little parched corn.” ~ Diary of Nimrod Porter.

December 24– Saturday– Andersonville, Georgia– About 3500 Union prisoners of war previously transferred from Andersonville prison to Camp Lawton near Millen, Georgia, then to another military prison in Thomasville, are returned to Andersonville by order of Confederate General P. G. T. Beauregard, because Millen and Thomasville are no longer secure from Union cavalry raids.

December 24– Saturday– Covington, Georgia– “This has usually been a very busy day with me, preparing for Christmas not only for my own tables, but for gifts for my servants [slaves]. Now how changed! No confectionery, cakes, or pies can I have. We are all sad; no loud, jovial laugh from our boys is heard. Christmas Eve, which has ever been gaily celebrated here, which has witnessed the popping of fire-crackers [the Southern custom of celebrating Christmas with fireworks] and the hanging up of stockings, is an occasion now of sadness and gloom. I have nothing even to put in Sadai’s stocking, which hangs so invitingly for Santa Claus. How disappointed she will be in the morning, though I have explained to her why he cannot come. Poor children! Why must the innocent suffer with the guilty?” ~ Diary of Dolly Sumner Lunt Burge.

Christmas morning in New York City

Christmas morning in New York City

December 24– Saturday– near Albany, Georgia– “About three miles from Sparta we struck the ‘Burnt Country,’ as it is well named by the natives, and then I could better understand the wrath and desperation of these poor people. I almost felt as if I should like to hang a Yankee myself. There was hardly a fence left standing all the way from Sparta to Gordon. The fields were trampled down and the road was lined with carcasses of horses, hogs, and cattle that the invaders, unable either to consume or to carry away with them, had wantonly shot down to starve out the people and prevent them from making their crops. The stench in some places was unbearable; every few hundred yards we had to hold our noses or stop them with the cologne Mrs. Elzey had given us, and it proved a great boon. The dwellings that were standing all showed signs of pillage, and on every plantation we saw the charred remains of the gin-house and packing-screw, while here and there, lone chimney-stacks, ‘Sherman’s Sentinels,’ told of homes laid in ashes. The infamous wretches! I couldn’t wonder now that these poor people should want to put a rope round the neck of every red-handed ‘devil of them’ they could lay their hands on. Hay ricks and fodder stacks were demolished, corn cribs were empty, and every bale of cotton that could be found was burnt by the savages. I saw no grain of any sort, except little patches they had spilled when feeding their horses and which there was not even a chicken left in the country to eat. A bag of oats might have lain anywhere along the road without danger from the beasts of the field, though I cannot say it would have been safe from the assaults of hungry man. Crowds of [Confederate] soldiers were tramping over the road in both directions; it was like traveling through the streets of a populous town all day. They were mostly on foot, and I saw numbers seated on the roadside greedily eating raw turnips, meat skins, parched corn – anything they could find, even picking up the loose grains that Sherman’s horses had left. I felt tempted to stop and empty the contents of our provision baskets into their laps, but the dreadful accounts that were given of the state of the country before us, made prudence get the better of our generosity.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

December 24– Saturday– Savannah, Georgia– “We cleaned our quarters. Each person planted a Christmas tree in front of his tent.” ~ Diary of Fredrick C. Winkler.

December 24– Saturday– Pest, Hungary– Demeter Laccataris, Austro-Hungarian portrait painter of Greek origin, dies at 66 years of age.

December 25– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– “Have intelligence this evening of the capture of Savannah. Hardee fled with his forces. The Rebellion is drawing to a close. These operations in the heart of the Rebel region are destroying their self-confidence, and there are symptoms of extreme dissatisfaction among them.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

December 25– Sunday– Augusta County, Virginia– “On the 25th day of December 1864 I Bind my Self my heir & to the Sum of fifty dollars it being the Balance due to Mrs. Polly W. Roberts for the hire of a Servant Henry [a slave]. Said Servant was hired by an exchange of Steers the Said Hotchkiss is to give to Mrs Roberts the above fifty dollars & also the Hide from the Steers that I got from them when I killed them & I also furnish the Said Henry with the used articles of clothing except the Blanket.” ~ Contractual agreement between Nelson H. Hotchkiss and Polly W. Roberts.

December 25– Sunday– Moffett’s Creek, Virginia– “Miss Ann R McNutt was married last Thursday to William Steel. . . . Henry hasn’t bailed much hay – the weather has been so cold he can hardly bale atal– he has about 5 acres of corn to gather yet the weather has been so that they couldn’t work at the corn as it is snowed up. The snow is so hard it will take some time for it to melt as it has a crust on it– the snow would bar up wagon and Horses. Yesterday it thawed a little but is cloudy today. It has been good sleighing. Henry took the girls to Mrs Strains in the sleigh. Well I must close– this is enough for to be written on Sunday. I wanted it to go down tomorrow. Charlotte sends her love to you– write soon.” ~ Letter from Margaret Ott to her brother Enos.

December 25– Sunday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “Your kind letter came to hand in due time. And as this is Christmas night and I [am] alone in my Shanty will improve it in writing You although there is not much new to write. Yet I will make the Endeavor. I have been away all day as this is a day that all . . . Should be free and having an invitation out to Eat roast Turkey of course accepted it and had a very nice time yet I think had I been in New York or Brooklyn that I would enjoyed My-Self much better and Shall be glad to get back there once more as a citizen for to go there on a leave of absence is only an aggravation as the time is always So Short that one cannot hardly turn before he has to come back. . . . I heard that there had been a Commission issued as Lieutenant Colonel to Some outsider, I don’t know how true it is, Yet I think it is a Shame to run over all of our Officers that are now Prisoners of War Who have Served and fought in the regiment Since the Organization and for my part I Shall resign if what I hear is true. So You need not be Surprised if You hear that Your humble Servant has put in his Unconditional Surrender, and retires to Private life. We have Sent Your Brother George’s large Trunk home to Your Mother’s Address by Express So if you have not already received it You Can look out for it.” ~ Letter from Union officer William E. Babcock to Walt Whitman.

Harper's Weekly portrays Lincoln with the true Christmas spirit, inviting all to Christmas dinner

Harper’s Weekly portrays Lincoln with the true Christmas spirit, inviting all to Christmas dinner

December 25– Sunday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “This is the birthday of our Saviour, but we have paid little attention to it in a religious way. . . . It does not seem much like Sunday or Christmas, for the men are hauling logs to build huts. This is a work of necessity, for the quarters we have been using are not warm enough. This is my fourth Christmas in the Army. I wonder if it will be my last.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

December 25– Sunday– Warren County, Tennessee– “Tonight I have but one thought—the cause of the South has gone down. The news all around us is evident of the fact. For my part I freely acknowledge that I can see no brightness now for the Confederacy. Hood has been beaten at Nashville and is now endeavoring to get out of the state, and Sherman’s rapid [march] through Georgia has been successful. He being now at Savannah if he has not possession of the city. . . . Yesterday Martha and myself worked the love long day making cakes, molasses candy, egg nog etc. for the children must have something. I felt it a drag, all the time —I did it from necessity. The children saw their odd cake elephants, horses, birds, old women etc. while in the process of cooking, and therefore they would not do for the nice white stockings that were put up to tempt good Santa Claus. I never was so put to it to get up something for the stockings, but I had a set of tiny coffee cups and saucers and some other little affairs which they had never seen, or forgotten—these I filled up the little girls with, and put in the boys, paper, pen, pencils, and some greenback [U S dollars]. They all seemed highly pleased, and enjoyed [all that] their good old pensioner used to bestow upon them. Oh! God give us peace, peace on any terms! It may be weak, but if so, Heaven forgive us! We have borne the strain so long. I took down my prayer-book and read the service of Christmas Church, with our good Bishop or Dr. Page officiating—-to recall the wreaths and emblems, to fill my soul once more with the melodious flood of the organ—the grand Te Deum—the exulting Gloria—ah! how vain! how vain! I could have wept but my tears are few nowadays, and their springs lie deep, deep. I had the same feeling today that I had when poor Captain Spurlock was brought home dead from the slopes of Stone River. It is a strange feeling—with a depth of sadness ‘too deep for easing tears.’ Oh! Will this strife ever be ended, or will I never be able to get out of it? Mollie came yesterday to spend her Christmas with us—I was very glad she came. Tho it is not at all like the old days—yet I wanted to have her with us. She has seen some merry Christmas days in the Forest [family] Home—will she ever see another as gay? No! I cannot hope it. We did not hear the news of Hood’s retreat until this evening—when Malone came over and told it. He has slept here every night since his fright by those bushwhackers. I do not think him in any danger from them now, but his wife is ill, and insists upon his not remaining at home at night, and I have told him he ought by all means do as she wishes.” ~ Journal of Lucy Virginia French.

December 25– Sunday– Covington, Georgia– “Sadai [her daughter] jumped out of bed very early this morning to feel in her stocking. She could not believe but that there would be something in it. Finding nothing, she crept back into bed, pulled the cover over her face, and I soon heard her sobbing. . . . I pulled the cover over my face and was soon mingling my tears with Sadai’s.” ~ Diary of Dolly Sumner Lunt Burge.

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Christmas Gift for President Lincoln ~ December 1864 ~ the 22nd to 24th

Christmas Gift for President Lincoln

Sherman presents the city of Savannah to the President and issues orders for the occupation. A Canadian urges support for the Union cause. French forces suffer a defeat in Mexico. The coming year holds the promise of action on an amendment to ban slavery. War time shortages and problems abound. The world goes on.

Fort McAllister outside Savannah

Fort McAllister outside Savannah

December 22– Thursday– Savannah, Georgia– Having accepted a citizen’s offer to use his luxurious house as headquarters, Union General Sherman there meets with a U.S. Treasury agent, who requests that the Treasury Department be allowed to claim all cotton, rice, and public buildings in the city. General Sherman agrees to turn over what his soldiers do not need. The agent mentions that a ship is about to depart Savannah for Fort Monroe and asks if Sherman wants to send a Christmas message to President Lincoln. Quickly, Sherman grabs a piece of paper and writes as follows: “I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.”

December 22– Thursday– Montreal, Quebec Province, Canada– “We have no desire to quarrel with the Free States of the North. They are our neighbors and natural friends, bound to us, as we to them, by the reciprocal ties of amicable commercial intercourse. With them, as with us free labour is respected, and the honest tiller of the soil has the status of a man and a citizen. With them, and with us, the word liberty has the same meaning, involving the right of poor and rich, black and white alike, to the disposal of their own persons, of their personal ability and exertion, and of the fruits thereof. In the vocabulary of the Slave States, when they cry for liberty and independence, we know that they mean only license to hold the poor in bondage, and rob the tiller of their soil of his first rights as a man. The traditions and policy of our mother country have been steadily on the side of personal liberty. And this, which is one of her most glorious distinctions, has been a cause of constant hostility towards her by statesmen and people of the Slave States.” ~ Public address by Reverend John Cordner.

December 22– Thursday– San Pedro, Mexico– Mexican forces defeat the French and their aristocratic Mexican allies.

Henry Clarke Wright, radical abolitionist

Henry Clarke Wright, radical abolitionist

December 23– Friday– Barnstable, Massachusetts– “Notice is hereby given, that the bill providing for the prohibition of slavery by an amendment of the Constitution will be taken up January 6th.Should the amendment be adopted, and sent to the people, and by them ratified, in the course of the spring, as I doubt not it would be, if it is adopted by Congress, then, so far as the Federal Government is concerned, slavery has no legal existence in the United States; the black spot on our national character is wiped out, so far as legislative enactments can wipe it out. Slavery is not only legally abolished, but also forever prohibited within the limits of the Republic. Slavery being legally abolished, and forever prohibited so far as it can be by the Constitution and by statute, law, what more have we to do as Abolitionists? Our great work, the abolition of chattel slavery, is done. No power will exist in any State to perpetuate or to establish it. No new State can come in, and no old State can remain in, with a slave. So far as organic and statute law can do it, this sum of all villainy,’ this consummation of all meanness, theft, robbery and piracy, is at an end in this nation. Only the debris of that temple of blood and tears remains to be removed. Its removal will be a colossal work. To educate and elevate the redeemed slaves will require the energies of philanthropy for years to come. In this work hundreds of thousands will join with us, who have not only taken no part in the abolition of slavery, but who have strenuously and persistently opposed it, by whatever ecclesiastical, political, social, commercial or literary power they possessed. With these we can unite our efforts to secure to the emancipated their domestic, social, political, educational and industrial rights. Equality as to natural rights, without regard to color, country or condition! This must be the watchword of the Nation’s future. To remove all obstructions which the churches, the State Governments, and the mean and base prejudices of society throw in the way of the intellectual, social and moral elevation and happiness of the Negro will require great integrity and firmness of purpose, and great wisdom and energy of action. . . . Equality of Natural Rights must be written on every pulpit, on every ballot-box, over the door of every school-house and college, home and nursery. On the practical recognition of this self-evident truth must the Republic exist, or it cannot long exist at all. . . . Would to God that our great work could have been finished without the shedding of any blood but our own! But it was not so to be. On whom rests the responsibility of these rivers of blood shed to destroy slavery, the Future will ask of those who, twenty-five years ago, had the power to abolish it without bloodshed, but who would not and did not use it. . . . Let all do what they can to back up and urge on Congress and the President to do this great work. Slavery is not dead. Any State may, if it choose, establish slavery. In God’s name, let as have the Constitutional Prohibition! Then, in all coating time, not a slave shall clank a chain, nor shed a tear, on our broad domain.” ~ Letter from Henry Clarke Wright to William Lloyd Garrison.

December 23– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “The Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln, freeing three millions of bondmen, will rank as one of the great edicts of history. It therefore eminently deserves the attention of artistic genius, and we are gratified to know that a competent hand has put on canvass the scene when the remarkable document was first brought to light. Carpenter’s picture of ‘The Emancipation Proclamation before the Cabinet,’ now on exhibition at Williams & Everett’s, 234 Washington Street, is an admirable representation of the meeting at which President Lincoln had his proclamation before the members of the Cabinet. The President and his constitutional advisers are grouped around the council board in thoughtful, yet unconstrained attitudes, and the large size of the figures gives to them a life-like appearance otherwise unattainable. The likenesses are excellent. The features of the President. Secretary Seward, Chase, Stanton, Blair, Welles, Bales and Smith are delineated with great clearness, and their individuality is unmistakable. The accessories of the picture are literal, it having been painted in the Cabinet room of the White House, and the furniture represented is that introduced in Jackson’s time, and now familiar to all visitors to the national ‘sanctum sanctorum.’ The picture is well worth seeing, not only as the representation of a great event, but as a work of art.” ~ The Liberator.

Emancipation Proclamation painting by Carpenter

Emancipation Proclamation painting by Carpenter

December 23– Friday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Miss Annie Murphy, one of the female prisoners committed to the Atheneum a couple of weeks ago, died yesterday morning of typhoid fever. The deceased formerly resided in Braxton county and was arrested upon the charge of tearing down government telegraph poles and acting as a spy for the enemy. . . . The jail of this city which has got to be quite an important institution since it has been converted into a state penitentiary, has lately been improved and rendered more safe than heretofore. A large massive iron door has lately been placed at the entrance of the building on Fifth street, at the expense of Adams’ Express company, in order more thoroughly to secure the safety of Risley, Marks, and Meredith, the three men charged with robbing the company’s office at Grafton not long since. With the late improvement the jailor has no doubt of his ability to keep his pets until called for by the courts. ” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

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December 23– Friday– Nashville, Tennessee– “The military order fixing the price of milk is likely to deprive us of this important article entirely, unless our dairymen are allowed to receive at least as much for their milk as will enable them to pay expenses. We respectfully submit the following facts given us by one of our leading dairymen, to the consideration of General Miller and the Military Board. Before the war, the price of milk was forty cents a gallon, the price of feed being from $3 to $15 per ton. The price fixed by the Military Board, is 60 cents per gallon, while the price of bran per ton is $60, oats and hay scarcely to be had at any price. The dairyman alluded to above has thirty cows, which at this season of the year yield less than twenty gallons of milk per day, the actual product of last week being $70, while the actual cost of feeding amounted to $85 to say nothing of labor, board of hands, wear and tear of materials, etc. Unless the Board make some change, we are informed that dairymen will be compelled to sell out their stock, and retire from the business until feed can be procured at more reasonable prices.” ~ Nashville Dispatch.

December 23– Friday– Covington, Georgia– “Just before night Mrs. Robert Rakestraw and Miss Mary drove up to spend the night with me. They had started down into Jasper County, hoping to get back their buggy, having heard that several buggies were left at Mr. Whitfield’s by the Yankees. Nothing new! It is confidently believed that Savannah has been evacuated. I hear nothing from my boys. Poor fellows, how I miss them!”~ Diary of Dolly Sumner Lunt Burge.

December 23– Friday– Savannah, Georgia– “Savannah, being now is our possession, and the river partially cleared out, and measures have been taken to remove all obstructions, will at once be made a grand depot for future operations. 1. The chief-quartermaster, General Easton, will, after giving the necessary orders touching the transports in Ogeechee River and Ossabaw Sound, come in person to Savannah, and take possession of all public buildings, all vacant store-rooms, warehouses, &c., that may be now or hereafter needed for any department of the army. No rents will be paid by the Government of the United States during the war, and all buildings must be distributed according to the accustomed rules of the quartermaster’s department, as though they were public property. 2. The chief commissary of subsistence, Colonel A. Beckwith, will transfer the grand depot of the army to the city of Savannah, secure possession of the needful buildings and offices, and give the necessary orders, to the end that the army may be supplied abundantly and well. 3. The chief engineer, Captain Poe, will at once direct which of the enemy’s forts are to be retained for our use and which dismantled and destroyed; and the chief ordnance officer, Captain Baylor, will, in like manner, take possession of all property pertaining to his department captured from the enemy and cause the same to be collected and carried to points of security. All the heavy sea-coast guns will be dismounted and carried to Fort Pulaski. 4. The troops, for the present, will be grouped about the city of Savannah, looking to convenience of camps . . . . 5. General Howard will keep a small guard at Forts Rosedale, Beaulieu, Wimberly, Thunderbolt, and Bonaventura, and he will cause that shore and Skidaway Island to be examined very closely, with a view to finding many and convenient points for the embarkation of troops and wagons on sea-going vessels.” ~ Orders from General William Tecumseh Sherman.

James Bronterre O'Brien

James Bronterre O’Brien

December 23– Friday– London, England– James Bronterre O’Brien, Irish Chartist leader, reformer and journalist dies at age 59 after a long illness.

Princess Zorka

Princess Zorka

December 23– Friday– Cetinje, Montenegro– Birth of Princess Zorka, eldest child of the reigning monarch, Nicholas. [She will marry the heir to the throne of Serbia and die on March 16, 1890, giving birth to her fifth child in six years.]

Savannah Surrenders ~ December 1864 ~ 21st & 22nd

Savannah Surrenders

With Confederate troops gone, the mayor of Savannah surrenders the city to General Sherman and his Federal army. Many parts of Georgia continue to suffer from the ravages of Sherman’s march to the sea. Conditions in southern prison camps deteriorate. Cold weather and scarcities bother many, soldiers and civilians alike.

army-james

December 21– Wednesday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Mr. Dillon yesterday received a letter from Lieutenant Melvin Richards, of Carlin’s battery, who was captured by the rebels on the Hunter raid and who has since been confined in different Southern prisons. . . . says the prisoners have nothing to eat but meal, rice and Sorghum which they are not even allowed to prepare to suit their tastes. . . . The prisoners have had no meat or lard or any animal food of any kind issued to them since October last. . . . Lieutenant Richards has never received any of the money sent him by his friends. He has received several letters but the money sent in them had been abstracted from the envelope. Captain Craig of the 1st West Virginia Infantry received a letter a short time ago which had been broken open and the money abstracted. The only way prisoners can get money is to have it secreted in a box, which may be done in various ways, one of the best of which is to knock the box apart at the end. Then bore a three-eighth hole with the grain of the wood, put in ten gold dollars, plug up and nail together, putting a drop of ink or some such significant mark on the spot.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

December 21– Wednesday– Moffett’s Creek Virginia– “Have not had a letter from you of later date than September 15th. Heard through J Hanger. Have looked long and anxiously for letters but disappointed until we have almost ceased to expect a letter, but know it is not your fault that we do not hear. Wrights, Beards & ourselves started a box to you. Hope will have received it. There was a suit of clothes apiece for you and H Wright, also some eatables. Aunt Lizzie had a ham to send but wasn’t room for it. Beards sent a box [of] tobacco and [a] pair [of] socks. Nothing of much interest transpiring. Friends of the boys well so far as I know. We are all in good health at present– pa suffered very much a couple of weeks from severe pain in breast could not rest at nights but is relieved of that now. How Houston died of wound received a few days before, sometime last month. Miss N Emerson was buried Monday. Mr Bill Steele and Miss Annie McNult are to be married to- morrow. Both nearly old enough for such a step. . . . Oh, how I wish you were here.” ~ Letter from Mary A. Smiley to her brother Thomas, a Confederate soldier.

battery

December 21– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Intelligence of the death of Mr. Dayton, our Minister to France, creates some commotion among public men. The event was sudden and his loss will be felt. . . . I had a light and pleasant acquaintance with him when in the Senate some fifteen or eighteen years ago, and we had some correspondence and one or two interviews in the Fremont campaign in 1856, when he was pleased to compliment me, on comparing Connecticut and New Jersey, with having done much to place my own State in a right position. We met again in the spring of 1861. He was a dignified and gentlemanly representative, not a trained diplomat, and unfortunately not acquainted with the language of the French Court. A numerous progeny has arisen at once to succeed him. John Bigelow, consul at Paris, has been appointed Charge, and I doubt if any other person will be selected who is more fit.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

December 21– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Henry Richards, alias C. Smith, came into our lines on Monday and represented himself as a Yankee deserter. He was recognized and identified as a deserter from the 21st Mississippi Regiment. He was sent to the Castle. W. T. Jones, Company C, 17th Mississippi, was sent to the Castle yesterday from the Jackson hospital, charged with larceny.” ~ Richmond Sentinel.

December 21– Wednesday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “A wet stormy day and nothing going on to report. We are glad to stay in our huts and keep dry and warm.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

December 21– Wednesday– Savannah, Georgia– “The city of Savannah was last night evacuated by the Confederate military and is now entirely defenseless. As chief magistrate of the city I respectfully request your protection of the lives and private property of the citizens and of our women and children. Trusting that this appeal to your generosity and humanity may favorably influence your action, I have the honor to be, your obedient servant.” ~ Letter from Savannah Mayor R. D. Arnold to Union General William Tecumseh Sherman. In his memoirs Sherman wrote, “General Hardee had crossed the Savannah River by a pontoon-bridge, carrying off his men and light artillery, blowing up his iron-clads and navy-yard, but leaving for us all the heavy guns, stores, cotton, railway-cars, steamboats, and an immense amount of public and private property.”

General Sherman

General Sherman

December 21– Wednesday– Savannah, Georgia– “To the Citizens of Savannah: By the fortunes of war we pass today under the authority of the Federal military forces. The evacuation of Savannah by the Confederate army, which took place last night, left the gates to the city open, and General Sherman, with his army will, no doubt, to-day take possession. The Mayor and Common Counsel leave under a flag of truce this morning, for the headquarters of General Sherman, to offer the surrender of the city, and ask terms of capitulation by which private property and citizens may be respected. We desire to counsel obedience and all proper respect on the part of our citizens, and to express the belief that their property and persons will be respected by our military ruler. The fear expressed by many that General Sherman will repeat the order of expulsion from their homes which he enforced against the citizens of Atlanta, we think to be without foundation. He assigned his reason in that case as a military necessity, it was a question of food. He could not supply his army and the citizens with food, and he stated that he must have full and sole occupation. But in our case food can be abundantly supplied for both army and civilians. We would not be understood as even intimating that we are to be fed at the cost of the Federal Government, but that food can be easily obtained in all probability, by all who can afford to pay in the Federal currency. It behooves all to keep within their homes until General Sherman shall have organized a provost system and such police as will insure safety in persons as well as property. Let our conduct be such as to win the admiration of a magnanimous foe, and give no ground for complaint or harsh treatment on the part of him who will for an indefinite period hold possession of our city. In our city there are, as in other communities, a large proportion of poor and needy families, who, in the present situation of affairs, brought about by the privations of war, will be thrown upon the bounty of their more fortunate neighbors. Deal with them kindly, exercise your philanthropy and benevolence, and let the heart of the unfortunate not be deserted by your friendly aid.” ~ front page of the Savannah Republican.

December 21– Wednesday– Ballynure, County Antrimi, Ireland– Birth of James Whiteside Mc Cay, who will become a Lieutenant General in the Australian Army, and a member of the Australian Parliament. [Dies October 1, 1930.]

December 22– Thursday– New York City– “Shakespeare uses words as nobody but Beethoven has ever used musical notes, conveying the most intense impressions in the most accountable way. . . . Details come in of Sherman’s grand adagio movement through Georgia, and most interesting they are. That seems to have been among the best and boldest conceptions of the war and to have been most triumphantly executed. Savannah is fully invested now by land and water. Rebel newspapers have not the least misgivings as to safety of that city.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

December 22– Thursday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “We have received a note from several members of Carlin’s Battery, now stationed at Fort Boreman, Parkersburg, requesting us to state for the information of friends in this city who may desire to visit the boys about Christmas, that they intend to give a grand ball on the evening of the 23rd.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

December 22– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Clear and cold. We have nothing from below. From Wilmington, we learn there is much commotion to resist the armada launched against that port. General Lee is sending troops via the Danville Road in that direction. The wire has been cut between this and Gordonsville, by the scouts of the raiders launched in that direction. We breakfast, dine, and sup on horrors now, and digest them all quite sullenly. I am invited to a turkey dinner to-day (at Mr. Waterhouse’s), and have some hesitation in accepting it at a time like this. Ought I to go? He is a skilled artisan and has made money, and no doubt the turkey is destined to be eaten by somebody. . . . There were some commissaries and quartermasters present, who are supposed to have stolen much from the government, and desire to exchange the currency they have ruined for imperishable wealth [exchanging almost worthless Confederate paper money for gold and silver]. They, too, will run away the first opportunity. The sun shines brightly this beautiful cold day; but all is dark in Congress. The Tennessee members say Hood’s army is destroyed, that he will not get 1000 men out of the State, for the Tennesseans, Kentuckians, etc. refuse to retire farther south, but straggle and scatter to their homes, where they will remain. I am told we have but a thin curtain of pickets on the north side of the James River, between us and 15,000 Negro troops.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

battle-allatoona

December 22– Thursday– near Duck River, Tennessee– “I have come through so far all safe. I was in the charge the two first days in front of Nashville. All the boys came out safe that went down from out section. It has been raining and snowing ever since we left Nashville and has been very hard traveling. It is very cold here now. We are waiting to get across the river.We may cross today and go to Columbia about two miles from here. We have taken many prisoners and pieces of artillery. I don’t know how many. I suppose you know more about it than I do as we have not had any mail for several days. Our brigade captured six pieces of artillery [on] the first charge and I helped to haul them off the field. I will send my fine shirt by first mail. I fixed it up to send the day before we left Nashville but did not get to send it out. I will write again as soon as I can get the chance. I have to write this laying on my belly and am getting very cold so no more this time. Take care of yourself and the babies. Kiss them for me.” ~ Letter from Union soldier John C. Seibert to his wife Rachel.

December 22– Thursday– Covington, Georgia– “Tuesday, the nineteenth of the month, I attended Floyd Glass’s [daughter’s] wedding. She was married in the morning to Lieutenant Doroughty. She expected to have been married the week after the Yankees came, but her groom was not able to get here. Some of the Yankees found out in some way that she was to have been married, and annoyed her considerably by telling her that they had taken her sweetheart prisoner; that when he got off the train at the Circle they took him and, some said, shot him. The Yankees found Mrs. Glass’s china and glassware that she had buried in a box, broke it all up, and then sent her word that she would set no more fine tables. They also got Mrs. Perry’s silver.” ~ Diary of Dolly Sumner Lunt Burge.

Darkest and Most Dismal Day ~ December 1864 ~ 19th to 21st

Darkest and Most Dismal Day ~ John Jones

In Richmond a government clerk confides his dismay to his diary– disaster in Tennessee following the one in Georgia. What he does not know is that Confederate troops are evacuating Savannah. Lincoln calls for more volunteers. Gideon Welles bemoans the political scene in Washington. A former patient writes to Walt Whitman. Refugees and families separated by the war experience want and express personal concern.

battlefield-front

December 19– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, in order to supply the aforesaid deficiency and to provide for casualties in the military and naval service of the United States, do issue this my call for three hundred thousand (300,000) volunteers to serve for one, two, or three years. The quotas of the States, districts, and subdistricts under this call will be assigned by the War Department through the bureau of the Provost-Marshal-General of the United States, and ‘in case the quota or any part thereof of any town, township, ward of a city, precinct, or election district, or of any county not so subdivided, shall not be filled. before the 15th day of February, 1865, then a draft shall be made to fill such quota or any part thereof under this call which may be unfilled on said 15th day of February, 1865.”

President Lincoln

President Lincoln

December 19– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Captain Winslow called on me to-day. He is looking well and feels happy. Luck was with him in the fight with the Alabama. The House of Representatives to-day passes a resolution of H. Winter Davis, aimed at the Secretary of State for his management of foreign affairs, and asserting the authority of the House in these matters. There is a disposition to make the legislative, fortunately the representative branch, the controlling power of the government. The whole was conceived in a bad spirit and is discreditable to the getters-up and those who passed the resolutions. Davis has never been, and never will be, a useful Member of Congress. Although possessing talents, he is factious, uneasy, and unprincipled. He is just now connected with a clique of malcontents, most of whom were gathering a few months [ago] around our present Chief Justice. An embryo party is forming and we shall see what comes of it and whether the ermine is soiled.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

December 19– Monday– Staunton, Virginia– “I again avail myself of a few moments to write to you hoping it may reach you soon. I am quite well. [His son] Freddy is well except complaining to day of headache. He has retired and whilst I write he asks me to tell you to send him up some Christmas things fire crackers &c &c– Can you do it? We have just returned from Richmond and laid in a stock of goods Freddy seen the Capital . . . and been to the Theatre & comes home highly pleased with his trip. I have joined Mr Herring in laying in a stock of goods. I intend trying merchandising this winter any how & see what it will do. I think there is more made at that than anything else here. If I find it don’t pay I will soon drop it but as sales are all cash here & goods going up daily I can’t see how one can loose if cautious. I tried to get out of the hotel but can’t do it now so I will still continue my interest in it. James S Brown is with us, and assists in attending to the business. I wish so much that you were here, it would be so much pleasanter for us all, of an evening when the rush of business is over Freddy & I sit alone around our fire talking & it is quite lonesome. If spring brings no change in National affairs I will make some change in mine. It won’t do to live this way. Jack & Ellen & family are now here with me. Ellen has a young daughter. Louise is still well – they all want another party next Friday night. They all seem to make Freddy their agent to ask me for favors & privileges & think much of him. He has a . . . suit, a sack coat, a new cap & hat & is growing up quite a little man. All seem to like him. He goes to school & learns fast– his teacher is quite fond of him. Whilst I write our troops [Confederate] are passing down the Valley I am in the store & can’t get time to write more.” ~ Letter from John Quincy Nadenbousch to his wife Hester.

December 19– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– “The darkest and most dismal day that ever dawned upon the earth, except one. There was no light when the usual hour came round, and later the sun refused to shine. There was fog, and afterward rain. Northern papers say Hood has been utterly routed, losing all his guns! . . . We have the spectacle now of three full generals– Johnston, Beauregard, and Bragg– without armies to command; and the armies in the field apparently melting away under the lead of subordinate, if not incompetent leaders. So much for the administration of the Adjutant-General’s office. It is rumored on the street that we intend evacuating Savannah. How did that get out– if, indeed, such is the determination? There are traitors in high places– or near them. It is also rumored that the Danville Railroad has been cut. I don’t believe it– yet. There is deep vexation in the city– a general apprehension that our affairs are rapidly approaching a crisis such as has not been experienced before. There is also much denunciation of the President forthe removal of General Johnston from the command of the Army of Tennessee. . . . The United States Congress has ordered that notice be given Great Britain of an intention on the part of the Federal Government to increase the naval force on the [Great] Lakes; also a proposition has been introduced to terminate the Reciprocity Treaty. And General Dix orders his military subordinates to pursue any rebel raiders even into Canada and bring them over. So, light may come from that quarter. A war with England would be our peace.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

union General George Thomas

union General George Thomas

December 19– Monday– Nashville, Tennessee– “The major-general commanding [General George Thomas] directs that you will have all stragglers belonging to the troops in front whom you may find about the city of Nashville and vicinity arrested, confined in the barracks, and turned out, under guard, every day, to work on the fortifications until further orders, reporting to the major-general commanding the number you have arrested and so employed. You will exercise great vigilance in overlooking the passes of persons permitted to go in and out of Nashville, and all persons who enter Nashville without proper authority should be arrested and put to work on the fortifications, until they can fully satisfy you that they are not enemies of the Government. Travel by railroad and steam-boat to Nashville from Kentucky and the States west of the Ohio River is positively prohibited, except with passes issued from headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi, for good reasons, which must be stated on the pass. This order will be understood as particularly applicable towomen desiring to enter Nashville, and none will be admitted unless their loyalty is well established and known, and even loyal women are not to be admitted except upon the best of reasons. You are also directed to make a thorough examination of the country about Nashville for the killed and wounded of the recent battle, and have them provided for, and also collect the arms, &c., found upon the field.” ~ orders sent Union General John Miller who commands the garrison in Nashville.

December 19– Monday– Rutherford Creek, Tennessee; Curtis Creek, Tennessee, near Columbia, Tennessee– Federal troops skirmish with retreating Confederate soldiers.

December 19– Monday– Savannah, Georgia– Confederate forces complete preparations to evacuate the city rather than submit to a siege or a battle with the larger Federal forces.

Refugees

Refugees

December 20– Tuesday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “The other day we made brief mention of the arrival in this city of a refugee and his family from the Valley of Virginia, and also made note of the kindness shown them by Mr. George E. Wickham, that gentleman having provided the destitute refugees with lodging and provision immediately upon their arrival. Mr. Wickham’s kindness did not stop there. Yesterday he secured a house for the unfortunates on a farm a few miles above the city, and provided them with an entire outfit of clothing, furniture, etc. They are now comfortably installed in a place which they can call ‘home.’ In connection with the above, we may remark that we received a letter yesterday from a subscriber in Hancock county, whose heart is evidently in the right place, enclosing one dollar for the relief of Mr. Huntsberry and family, the refugees referred to. The gift is a small one in itself, but it is big with kindness – it comes from a full and a free heart and is better than thousands grudgingly bestowed. Our correspondent writes: ‘I give according to my means, but if we would all give one dollar apiece, we could do much to help poor, suffering women and homeless children.’” ~ Wheeling Daily Register.

December 20– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “It is a misfortune that the President gives his ear to a class of old party hacks like [Thomas] Ewing and Tom Corwin, men of ability and power in their day, for whom he has high regard but who are paid to come here and persuade the President to do wrong. Ewing would not, of himself, do or advise another to do what he beseeches of the President, except for money. All this the President has the sagacity to see, but hardly the will to resist. I shall not be surprised if he yields, as he intimated he was ready to do before any remark from me.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles

Gideon Welles

Gideon Welles

December 20– Tuesday– Saltville, Virginia– Federal cavalry destroy the salt works, reducing the supply of salt available to Richmond and to General Lee’s army.

December 20– Tuesday– Savannah, Georgia– During the night, the city’s 10,000 Confederate defenders under General Hardee retreat over a pontoon bridge, crossing the Savannah River into South Carolina. Union General Sherman is in the process of surrounding Savannah and preparing a heavy bombardment of the city. Hardee knows his meager forces have no chance against the large and now well-equipped Union army.

December 21– Wednesday–Newark, New Jersey– “I write these few lines to you in order that you may know where I am and also that I am in the enjoyment of middling good health. I heard from you through my Father some time ago and I have wanted to visit you but I am sorry to say my health will not admit of my being out much this cold weather. If you remember I was wounded through my lung and the ball is now near my right kidney and I am not as healthy as I use to be before I was wounded. I feel quite well to day. I have just received a letter from my Brother in my Regiment (15th New Jersey) he spoke of you. I wrote him concerning you and he says he would like to see you. I think I owe you a thousand thanks for your kindness to me while in Hospital at Washington. I have often thought of you and wished I could hear from you. I would like to hear from that Lady who did so much for me. I think it was Miss Howard. I think I will be well enough to come and see you in a week or two and then we will talk over all the incidents of our short acquaintance in Washington. If you will answer this and set the day I will come and see you. I am a little deaf now from the earache but I hope we will get along with that. Hoping to hear from you soon.” ~ Letter from Jesse Mullery to Walt Whitman.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

Heavy Ordinance Necessary to the Reduction of Savannah ~ December 1864 ~ the 16th to 19th

Heavy Ordnance Necessary to the Reduction of Savannah ~ William Tecumseh Sherman

Having reached the coast and resupplied by numerous Federal ships, Sherman demands to surrender of Savannah. Confederate General Hardee refuses. In Tennessee the weakened Confederates retreat. The siege of Petersburg drags on with no end yet in sight. Abolitionists consider what comes next after total emancipation on all slaves.

Confederate artillery shells captured by General Sherman

Confederate artillery shells captured by General Sherman

December 16– Friday– outside of Savannah, Georgia– “If [Confederate] General Hardee is alarmed, or fears starvation, he may surrender; otherwise I will bombard the city. I think Hardee, in Savannah, has good artillerists, some 5,000 or 6,000 infantry, and it may be a mongrel mass of 8,000 to 10,000 militia. There must be 25,000 citizens– men, women, and children – in Savannah that must also be fed, and how he is to feed them beyond a few days I cannot imagine, as I know that his requisitions for corn on the interior counties were not filled, and we are in possession of the rice fields and mills which could alone be of service to him in this neighborhood. He can draw nothing from South Carolina, save from a small corner down in the southeast, and that by a disused wagon road.” ~ Letter from General William Tecumseh Sherman to General Ulysses S Grant.

December 17– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– Myrtilla Miner, educator, reformer, abolitionist and advocate for the education of African American women, dies at 49 years of age.

Myrtilla Miner

Myrtilla Miner

December 17– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “The President directs that, except immigrant passengers directly entering an American port by sea, henceforth no traveler shall be allowed to enter the United States from a foreign country without a passport. If a citizen, the passport must be from this Department [of State] or from some United States minister or consul abroad; and if an alien, from the competent authority of his own country, the passport to be countersigned by a diplomatic agent or consul of the United States. This regulation is intended to apply especially to persons proposing to come to the United States from the neighboring British Provinces. Its observance will be strictly enforced by all officers, civil, military, and naval in the service of the United States, and the State and municipal authorities are requested to aid in its execution. It is expected, however, that no immigrant passenger coming in manner aforesaid will be obstructed, or any other persons who may set out on their way hither before intelligence of this regulation could reasonably be expected to reach the country from which they may have started.” ~ Order issued by the State Department upon the direction of President Lincoln.

December 17– Saturday– Petersburg, Virginia– “I am well at present and enjoying excellent health and would be tolerable well satisfied if I could I would see an end to this dreadful and cruel war. I am very much afraid the Yankees paid you a visit, as I heard one of our company say that he saw a letter from home stating the Yanks had passed. I am afraid they have destroyed your stock and perhaps stole some of your Negroes off, but I think they surely have better sense than to leave you to follow Yanks. If they have, I guess they will well wish they were back before long if they don’t already. I fear I shall hear some bad news perhaps that you have been visited by the Yanks and perhaps all you have destroyed by those scoundrels or perhaps you may be in the army, enduring all the hardships and privations of a soldier. I have traveled enough, seen enough, heard enough to convince me there is no place like home, sweet home.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to his father in Georgia.

December 17– Saturday– Maury County, Tennessee– “Hood’s army is leaving Nashville and falling back, the Federals in pursuit after a great defeat, many of his men killed, many taken prisoner. The wagons of the Southern army have been passing all night going south. They are camping all around hunting everything, some are wounded. There is not much left forthem or his neighbor in the country. They are the worse looking and most broken down looking set [of soldiers] I ever laid eyes on.” ~ Diary of Nimrod Porter.

December 17– Saturday– outside Savannah, Georgia– “You have doubtless observed from your station at Rosedew that sea-going vessels now come through Ossabaw Sound and up Ogeechee to the rear of my army, giving me abundant supplies of all kinds, and more especially heavy ordnance necessary to the reduction of Savannah. I have already received guns that can cast heavy and destructive shot as far as the heart of your city; also, I have for some days held and controlled every avenue by which the people and garrison of Savannah can be supplied; and I am therefore justified in demanding the surrender of the city of Savannah and its dependent forts, and shall await a reasonable time your answer before opening with heavy ordnance,. Should you entertain the proposition I am prepared to grant liberal terms to the inhabitants and garrison; but should I be forced to resort to assault, or the slower and surer process of starvation, I shall then feel justified in resorting to the harshest measures, and shall make little effort to restrain my army– burning to avenge a great national wrong they attach to Savannah and other large cities which have been so prominent in dragging our country into civil war.” ~ Message from Union General William Tecxumseh Sherman to Confederate General William J. Hardee.

Federal siege artillery

Federal siege artillery

December 17– Saturday– Savannah, Georgia– “I have to acknowledge receipt of a communication from you of this date, in which you demand ‘the surrender of Savannah and its dependent forts,’ on the ground that you have ‘received guns that can cast heavy and destructive shots into the heart of the city,’ and for the further reason that you ‘have for some days held and controlled every avenue by which the people and garrison can be supplied.’ You add that should you be ‘forced to resort to assault, or to the slower and surer process of starvation, you will then feel justified in resorting to the harshest measures, and will make little effort to restrain your army,’ &c. The position of your forces, a half a mile beyond the outer line for the land defenses of Savannah is, at the nearest point, at least four miles from the heart of the city. That and the interior line are both intact. Your statement that you ‘have for some days held and controlled every avenue by which the people and garrison can be supplied’ is incorrect. I am in free and constant communication with my department. Your demand for the surrender of Savannah and its dependent forts is refused. With respect to the threats conveyed in the closing paragraph of your letter, of what may be expected in case your demand is not complied with, I have to say that I have hitherto conducted the military operations intrusted to my direction in strict accordance with the rules of civilized warfare, and I should deeply regret the adoption of any course by you that may force me to deviate from them in the future.” ~ Reply from Confederate General William J. Hardee to Union General William Tecumseh Sherman

December 18– Sunday– Johnson’s Island, Ohio– “The anniversary of my arrival at Johnson’s Island has just passed. I am cheerful and hopeful. Providence is kind. Do not be uneasy about me. Exchange will come by and by. Meantime I employ my time in regularly reading books of law or history and miscellanies germane to my profession, besides current newspapers. My room is pleasant and my companions are agreeable. I have been very uneasy about you. That God may preserve you and others in Monroe from harm is my earnest prayer! Kind remembrances to all. Cherishing above all things your memory.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Henry McDaniel to his sweetheart Hester Felker.

December 18– Sunday– Richmond, Virginia– “Raining. The old dull sound of bombs down the river. Nothing further from Savannah. It is now believed that the raiders in Western Virginia did not attack Saltville, and that the works are safe. For two days the speculators have been buying salt, and have put up the price to $1.50 per pound. I hope they will be losers. The State distributes salt to-morrow: ten pounds to each member of a family, at 20 cents per pound. The President’s malady is said to be neuralgia in the head– an evanescent affliction, and by no means considered dangerous. At least such is the experience in my family. It was amusing, however, to observe the change of manner of the Secretaries and of heads of bureaus toward Vice-President Stephens, when it was feared the President was in extremis. Mr. Hunter, fat as he is, flew about right briskly. If Savannah falls, our currency will experience another depreciation, and the croaking reconstructionists will be bolder.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

December 18– Sunday– Nashville, Tennessee– “Sunday again and with it peace and quiet. The battle is over. Confederates have retreated, General Thomas pursuing. Last night our army was at Franklin. Glorious Thomas! (I cannot speak his name without tears and from that I know I am pretty well shattered by all the recent excitement.) Countless blessings on his noble head! Captain LaMotte and Dr. De Graw spend today with us—they had visited the battlefield yesterday, and described it as they saw it, still covered with dead and dying. I don’t care to write or to think of what they told me of what they saw. I sicken to think of all the sad changes since I was at beautiful Belmont a few weeks ago! And now this terrible dread of who are lying dead out there onthat battle-fields hangs over us! Van went out to the field yesterday—but he is sick at heart—boy as he is—and will say nothing but that he is haunted by the terrible sight, and would give everything to blot it out, and have his mind as clear as it was.” ~ Journal of Maggie Lindsley.

Confederate prisoners

Confederate prisoners

December 18– Columbus, Georgia– “Sherman’s army passed on via Sandersville and to Waynesboro, Burke County, skirmishing all the way without any important fight. A branch of his force turned to the west and reached Thomasville near the Florida line, and thence on to Savannah, where they now are, from the reports that reach us. George, Sims and Gilmer are at Savannah. Had no letters from them for some days. Reports say Sherman has surrounded Savannah. This is a day of great anxiety with us. Our forces, or a part of them, have crossed the Savannah river and had a fight at Grahamville, some miles from Savannah in South Carolina. The result seems to be uncertain. We are daily looking for a decisive battle at Savannah. Provisions still going higher and higher. Corn, $10 per bushel, wheat, $40, pork, gross, $24. Cotton, 75 to 80 cents.” ~ Journal of John Banks.

December 18– Sunday– outside Savannah, Georgia– “At my camp by the side of the plank-road, eight miles back of Savannah, I received General Hardee’s [December17] letter declining to surrender, when nothing remained but to assault. The ground was difficult, and, as all former assaults had proved so bloody, I concluded to make one more effort to completely surround Savannah on all sides, so as further to excite Hardee’s fears, and, in case of success, to capture the whole of his army. We had already completely invested the place on the north, west, and south, but there remained to the enemy on the east the use of an old dike or plank-road leading into South Carolina.” ~ Memoirs of William Tecumseh Sherman.

December 19– Monday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– “Our prime and supreme duty at this moment is to educate the black man. We owe it to him; and we owe it not less to ourselves. For these educated slaves are to be enfranchised citizens. The one is a logical and inevitable consequence of the other. The forces– of which the anti-slavery movement was one– that produced the former, are at work to being about the latter. This work of emancipation will go on till it shall be complete. It will not be complete till the black man and the white man stand equal before the law. In political as well as in natural rights, there must be no respect of color. To your school-houses, then, O Abolitionists! Not forsaking the rostrum; not abating the tone of your editorial demands; not omitting say opportunity of making and shaping public opinion; but demonstrating as well as asserting the black man’s right to all the franchises of humanity. B. Grats Brown– to whom all honor! – will doubtless repeat in the Senate his plea of The Cosmos in favor of ‘opening up the franchise to all save the criminal’; but however eloquent, it will not equal in cogency the argument that comes from the twenty Freedmen’s schools around the base of the Capitol. Let Abolitionists everywhere take hold of and promote this school enterprise. They can they can be both practical and theoretical. They can lift up the black man with one hand, and fend off the white man with the other. They can be both Abolitionists and Elevationists. They can be in the State, and yet– if they choose– not of it. They can shape politics, and be above their atmosphere. The Freedmen’s cause is the Slave-man’s cause. It is the Freedmen, just now, that is knocking at our door. ‘Do the duty,’ saith Wisdom, ‘that lieth nearest to you.” ~ Letter from James Miller Mc Kim to William Lloyd Garrison.

James Miller McKim

James Miller McKim

Canon Thundering All Day ~ December 1864 ~ 15th and 16th

Cannon Thundering All Day

In a two day battle at Nashville, the Confederate forces suffer a major defeat with heavy losses resulting in yet another Southern army virtually out of action from now onward. Savannah is about to fall to Sherman’s Federals. Atlanta tries to return to normal but chaos rules in parts of Georgia. Abolitionists see the dawn of a new day coming.

Battle of Nashville

Battle of Nashville

December 15– Thursday– Charleston, South Carolina– “We have no very full budget of intelligence from Savannah. Sherman seems, for the present, to have abandoned the direct attack on the city, and appears to be turning his attention to the reduction of the outworks. We regret to announce the fall of Fort Mc Alister. That post was carried early yesterday morning by assault, in which a heavy column of Sherman’s best troops participated. It is believed that the enemy will next make a desperate effort to gain possession of Genesis Point. The news given above is perfectly authentic; but we have heard no details of the assault or of the casualties. Along the line of the Charleston and Savannah Railroad all continues quiet.” ~ Charleston Mercury.

December 15– Thursday– Augusta, Georgia– “Many of the old citizens [of Atlanta] are returning, and the general watchword is repair and rebuild. Whit Anderson has opened a bar-room on Decatur Street, where he serves his customers with dignity and grace, and Sid Holland a small grocery on Peachtree Street. The [Atlanta] Intelligencer has returned, and is now issuing an extra from the old shoe factory on Alabama Street. J. J. Toon has secured the old pay office on Whitehall Street for an office, and resides in Markham’s fine villa on Walton Street. The post office is open on Decatur Street, under the charge of the energetic Dick Wall, and Bob Yancey has his shaving emporium next door. Johnson Bridwell has started a salt factory. Colonel L. J. Glenn, the efficient commandant of the post, is considered the right man in the right place. He is courteous to all, yet rigidly attentive to the interests of the government and the people. The Macon & Western Railroad is running to Lovejoy’s Station and the Atlanta & La Grange Railroad to Palmetto. The city is filled with thousands of dogs and cats, ownerless and almost wild.” ~ Augusta Chronicle and Sentinel.

damage in Atlanta

damage in Atlanta

December 15– Thursday– outside Savannah, Georgia– “We have changed positions several times since arriving in front of Savannah; we are now between the Charleston & Savannah and the Central Railroads. On the right, there is also a turnpike running along the railroad. On these roads the rebels have a very strong fort, mounted with heavy guns; they throw spherical case loaded with balls two inches in diameter from time to time. Quite a number of the balls and pieces of shell have come into our camp, but no one has been hurt. We have strong breastworks, which afford us protection. Just after we came here, I became the owner of a beautiful black mare in a rather peculiar manner. I rode out on the right a ways to see about our connection with the 14th Corps, when I was met by three soldiers, two of them mounted on mules and one on the mare in question. The latter stopped and said, ‘Say, I would like to give you a first-rate blooded mare.’ I looked at him in surprise and asked him what I should give him for her; but he said, ‘I just want to give her to you; I have been detailed on cattle guard and rode her so far; she is a captured horse, unfit for Government use, and I have no forage and want to give her to some one who will take good care of her.’ He was an utter stranger to me. Of course, I took the mare and promised to take good care of her. On the river here is a group of beautiful live oak trees; the trunks are very thick, and the branches extend out in all directions. The trees form a grove with a continuous roof. I don’t know whether the fleet has landed yet. There were obstructions in the river which had to be removed first.” ~ Letter from Union officer Frederick C. Winkler to his wife Frances.

December 16– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “The American Anti Slavery Society was organized for the immediate and total abolition of slavery in the United States. Its labors have been prosecuted, ‘without compromise and without concealment,’ for a period of thirty years, through lecturing agencies, the printing and circulating of anti-slavery publications, the support of an official weekly organ, and other instrumentalities; and to these labors is largely due, primarily, that cheering and marvelous change in public sentiment, in opposition to slavery and in support of free institutions, which has taken place in all the loyal States, and which enables the Government to maintain successfully its tremendous conflict with the Southern Slaveholder Rebellion. But slavery is not yet abolished, even the Rebel States, except by the Proclamation of President Lincoln; and it still holds a tenacious existence even in some of the so-called loyal sections of the country. Not until its utter extirpation everywhere should the American Anti-Slavery Society be disbanded, or regard its mission as consummated, or be left without the necessary pecuniary aid to carry on its ordinary operations. Its time to dissolve will be when liberty is proclaimed throughout all the land to all the inhabitants thereof, by the proposed amendment of the Constitution of the United States, making it illegal to enslave any person on the American soil. That grand and glorious event, it is confidently hoped and believed, will take place during the coming year, inasmuch as the potential sentiment of the people in regard to it was indicated by an overwhelming majority at the late Presidential election, and in as much as President Lincoln, in his annual message to Congress, urges this constitutional amendment upon that body for speedy adoption. Thank God that the year 1865 is, in all probability, to be the long-desired Year of Jubilee! Once more, then– and we trust for the last time– let the treasury of the American Anti-Slavery Society be replenished by the generous donations and contributions of those who have so long given it their maintenance; and also of those who, regenerated in their views and feelings on the question of slavery, have yet to show their appreciation of the invaluable labors of the Society in disseminating light and knowledge quickening conscience, elevating the moral standard of individual and national conduct, and vindicating the rights of human nature on the broad platform of universal freedom and equality.” ~ The Liberator.

Amer Anti-slav-WTH86TDP

December 16– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “Stanton came in this morning to tell me he had just got a telegram from General Thomas, announcing the defeat and annihilation of Hood’s army. Present indications are an early closing of the Rebellion. If we have tolerable success the next ten days, they will have no formidable army but Lee’s at Richmond. . . . Preston King dined with me to-day. Had a couple of hours’ very agreeable conversation with him. He is a man of wonderful sagacity; has an excellent mind and judgment. Our views correspond on most questions. On the suppression of the Rebellion, on the rights of the States, on the reestablishment of the Union, on the extinguishment of slavery, there was entire concurrence of opinion. I did not doubt our agreement on these points before we met. I had touched on them with some others and found great bewilderment. There is, I think, no man in the Cabinet but Dennison who agrees with me on the subject of State rights. . . . We have intelligence of the release of the robbers and murderers who fled into Canada after their work at St. Albans [Vermont]. The Governor-General and the Canadian authorities denounce and disavow the act of the judge, which is an outrage that cannot be acquiesced in, or submitted to for a moment, yet I fear Seward will hesitate.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

December 16– Friday– Charleston, South Carolina–”Passengers by the Western train [on Wednesday] report a raid on the Virginia and East Tennessee Railroad at Bristol. The enemy, supposed to be a portion of Burbridge’s command from Bean Station, advanced rapidly and entered the town at 5 a.m., destroyed considerable Government stores, with engines and a train, and the eastern bound passenger train on the road between Bristol and Abingdon. We have no positive intelligence of the enemy numbers; but it is supposed to be five or six thousand – a portion of whom are said yet to occupy the place. A body of the enemy, returning towards Bean Station, encountered our forces at Zollicoffer, a station on the East Tennessee and Virginia Road, nine miles west of Bristol, where a fight was said to be progressing at last accounts.” ~ Charleston Mercury.

area outside of Nashville after the battle

area outside of Nashville after the battle

December 16– Friday– Nashville, Tennessee– The two-day battle concludes with a Federal victory. Total Union casualties– dead, wounded, missing– amount to 2,140 while Confederate losses total in excess of 4,400. Part of the fire power of Federal troops comes from the use of the hand-cranked Gatling gun. This battle marks the end of the effectiveness of the Confederate forces under General Hood who finds himself forced into delaying and defensive actions only from this date onward.

December 16– Friday– Nashville, Tennessee– “The cannon has been thundering all day yesterday and all today. The battle evidently is raging at last, and will certainly be a furious one under the circumstances—the rebels in sight of their homes will fight with desperation. Jamie has not been out to us for several days, nor Pa– and we have only had the daily papers, which however are silent on this one point of course– any statement of the actual condition of affairs being prohibited. Captain Lamotte and Lieutenant Torry called this morning, but they are still on our side of the bridge– they said that yesterday for the first time the rebs returned our fire. Every report shakes the whole house—but we do not mind it, but keep quiet around roaring fires– for it is bitterly, bitterly cold— and try to read as usual, but it is rather difficult with such an accompaniment ringing our ears. . . . But really it is wonderful how we could have become so accustomed to this state of affairs as to take it so quietly as we are doing today! I remember when two years ago the battle was raging as far off as Murfreesboro, how excited we all were, and how I started and trembled at the faint, far off sound– so indistinct as to be merely suspected in fact– and was too unnerved to do anything but think of the horrible carnage then going on: while today when the deadly work in going on within a mile of our own doors, within sight indeed!– when the artillery is deafening, we sit before the fire quietly, read, chat & laugh! And when I grow too nervous for anything else I seek relief in writing in my journal.” ~ Journal of Maggie Lindsley.

CW artillery

December 16– Friday– Forsyth County, Georgia– “There are bands of armed men calling themselves ‘scouts’ who are constantly ranging through this county foraging on the citizens, stealing horses and mules and committing other depredations, causing great distress and fearful apprehensions and tending to alienate the feelings of many from the Southern cause. This is a dreadful state of things, and if these evils are not suppressed, the whole country will be desolated and the people utterly ruined. Some driven to desperation by these outrages mutter threats of vengeance, others in a state of almost hopeless despair contemplate with trembling and dismay the dreadful alternative of ‘bushwhacking.’ Fearful thought! What is to become of us? The darkest gloom hangs over the future. What can be done? surely something should be done looking to the suppression of at least the checking of these great evils and something promising protection and security for the future. Can

nothing be done to bring about cessation of hostilities? Stop the effusion of innocent blood, stay the hand of the destroying angel, open the way to negotiation and expedite peace. Shall men continue to be blinded by passion and urged on by unholy, towering ambition to prosecute this unnatural war until the last flickering spark of freedom is extinguished in the blood of our sons and brothers and the heaven-given boon of self-government, with all the inestimable blessings of liberty, shall be buried forever in the vortex of revolution? Will ambitious aspirants continue to grovel in human blood for place, power and wealth until all that is desirable to free men is lost and lost forever? Forbid it, mercy, forbid it! Heavens, if the American people do not end – and that speedily – this fratricidal conflict, ruin, fearful ruin, to our whole people will be the inevitable result. Sir, cannot something be done to avert [this] direst of all human calamities? Cannot something be accomplished by conventions? Cannot the states in their sovereign capacity do something in this way? Suppose you take the initiative. Many of your friends who regard you as the greatest champion of state rights think that you should move in this matter, by calling a convention of this state or in some other way.” ~ Letter from a citizen to Georgia Governor Joseph E Brown.

Sorry Tales to Tell ~ December, 1864 ~ 14th and 15th

Sorry Tales to Tell ~ Wheeling newspaper

Refugees from Virginia continue to head north. The siege of Petersburg continues in cold weather, the Confederacy is short of soldiers, even to the point of seriously considering drafting slaves yet Lee’s troops remain confident. Sherman is about to capture Savannah. A major battle is developing in Tennessee. Gideon Welles laments Washington politics.

Federal supply train

Federal supply train

December 14– Wednesday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Refugees from the Valley of Virginia continue to arrive in the city almost daily. All of these persecuted people have sorry tales to tell of their hardships on the route and their sufferings at home. We conversed yesterday with a very intelligent gentleman who left Rockbridge County [Virginia] about two weeks ago and reached Beverly [West Virginia] with a party of thirteen others a few days since. Our friend had been detailed as a miller by the rebel authorities, but, as our readers are aware all orders for details were lately revoked, and the men had either to go into the rebel army or leave. The refugees travel always over the mountains and through the woods and are in constant danger of being shot by bush whackers and conscript hunters sent out for the purpose. Out of a party of eight refugees who reached Greenbrier bridge about two weeks ago, two were killed and one or more wounded by bushwhackers. The party with whom our informant came were unlucky in the selection of a guide. The man who undertook to act as guide came very near swamping the whole party. He got lost the very first night out. Luckily, however, one of the party happened to have a small pocket compass and they were thus enabled to find their way out of the wilderness. Nearly all of the . . . men who are coming in now are mechanics and are very intelligent and well informed. Since the snow has fallen in the Allegheny  mountains it is feared that many refugees will perish from cold and hunger, for they will brave any danger rather than go into the rebel army.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

December 14– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Cloudy, and thawing rapidly. All quiet below. The bill to employ 40,000 Negroes, as recommended by the President, for army purposes, though not avowedly to fight, has passed one House of Congress. So the President is master yet. There ought to be 100,000 now in the field. An effort will be made by the government to put into the field the able-bodied staff and other officers on duty in the bureaus here. It will fail, probably, since all efforts have failed to put in their able-bodied clerks. If Bragg were here, and allowed his way, he would move them to the front.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

December 14– Wednesday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “I take the opportunity this evening of in forming you that I am well at present. I received your letter on Saturday the tenth and was glad to hear from you and that you was all well. I would have answered your letter sooner but we have not been in camp since Friday evening about six o’clock only a little while on Monday morning and last night we came in to camp again about Eight o’clock but we don’t know how long we will stay. We have been out on a raid. . . . There was some of the Cavalry in front of us and they did put fire to all the buildings along the road and some of them was most splendid houses but they are paying them for burning Chambersburg [Pennsylvania]. . . . You had better believe that we slept good after we got our supper. There was some of the boys feet got that sore and some of them froze that they could not put on their shoes. My feet did get a little sore but I made it to camp.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Sylvester McElheney to Harriet, his wife, in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, where Confederate troops burned part of Chambersburg in July.

typical entrenchments at Petersburg

typical entrenchments at Petersburg

December 14– Wednesday– Charleston, South Carolina– “From General Lee’s Army. (Extract of a Private Letter.) There are a variety of opinions here as to what phase this long protracted campaign will assume. If warlike, we are ready and willing to meet it, feeling as we do our conscious ability to whip Grant and his free-booters. I believe the campaign to be virtually ended. Grant, it is true, may make demonstrations of a character sufficient to deter us from sending troops to the succor of Georgia, but that he intends any serious move upon Richmond at this late stage of the proceedings, I do not believe. He is as well aware of the fact as you, or any other person, that there is one army in the Confederate States that he cannot whip. One army, which nothing but the force of public sentiment and dire necessity can ever again make him confront; an army which looks with scorn, pity and contempt upon the vain effort made at home by croakers and fishers to weaken its strength; an army that will never submit to a dishonorable peace, no matter what the basis, with the United States, though the people clamor for it. Better, yea, better be in our graves, than bow the neck in submission to Yankee task masters. It nauseates me to hear men talk of being subjugated. Their conversation, in my mind, is always associated with swaddling clothes; I would not dignify them by saying troops. Others may doubt the final issue of the contest, now being waged, but to the Army of Virginia our freedom is as certain as the air we breathe.” ~ Charleston Mercury.

General Robert E Lee

General Robert E Lee

December 14– Wednesday– outside Savannah, Georgia– “We still had in our wagons and in camp abundance of meat, but we needed bread, sugar, and coffee, and it was all-important that a route of supply should at once be opened, for which purpose the aid and assistance of the navy were indispensable. We accordingly steamed down the Ogeechee River to Ossabaw Sound, in hopes to meet Admiral Dahlgren, but he was not there, and we continued on by the inland channel to Wassaw Sound, where we found the Harvest Moon and Admiral Dahlgren. I was not personally acquainted with him at the time, but he was so extremely kind and courteous that I was at once attracted to him. There was nothing in his power, he said, which he would not do to assist us, to make our campaign absolutely successful. He undertook at once to find vessels of light draught to carry our supplies from Port Royal to Cheeve’s Mill or to King’s Bridge, whence they could be hauled by wagons to our several camps; he offered to return with me to Fort McAllister, to superintend the removal of the torpedoes, and to relieve me of all the details of this most difficult work. General Foster then concluded to go on to Port Royal, to send back to us six hundred thousand rations, and all the rifled guns of heavy caliber and ammunition on hand with which I thought we could reach the city of Savannah from the positions already secured. Admiral Dahlgren then returned with me in the Harvest Moon to Fort McAllister. This consumed all of the 14th of December.” ~ Memoirs of William Tecumseh Sherman

General Sherman

General Sherman

December 14– Wednesday– Maury County, Tennessee– “Southern troops are all around Nashville, the scouts and pickets are fighting every day. We are trying to get straight after the visit of the Southern army, which we entertained. We are trying to haul up some wood, working the black mule in the 2 horse wagon, which is all that was left us [by the Southern army]. The [Southern] soldiers are all through our place, so it is hard work to keep even this mule. Confederates are conscripting all between 18 and 45, they having employed substitutes is no excuse. The next call will be between 16 and 50. They may get me yet.” ~ Diary of Nimrod Porter.

December 14 – Wednesday– Waterloo, Ontario, Canada– Birth of Henry Edgarton Allen, merchant and politician. [Dies December 28, 1924.]

December 15– Thursday– New York City– Eliza Wood Burhans Farnham, prison reformer, author and lecturer, dies of consumption at age 49. In her last work, Woman and Her Era, published this year, she argues that women are by nature superior to men and the discrimination suffered and limited roles forced upon women come from men’s recognition that males are inferior. She radically differs from other period feminists by demanding not equality with but superiority over men.

Eliza Farnham

Eliza Farnham

December 15– Thursday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “As most of our readers have already been advised, the Supper and Festival of the Ladies Soldiers’ Aid Society takes place at Washington Hall this evening. The ladies have left nothing undone to make the entertainment worthy of the patronage of the public, and it is only necessary to make known the noble cause to which the proceeds are to be devoted in order to secure the attendance and hearty co-operation of every loyal man and woman in the city and vicinity. The members of the Ladies Soldiers Aid Society deserve all honor and praise for their noble work in the cause of humanity. By a report which one of their number has recently made we learn that the Association has performed within the past two months an immense amount of good and have relieved many pressing wants in the homes of wives and children, in the hospital and in the field. . . . It is expected that a handsome sum will be realized for the prosecution of the work this evening, and the ladies expect and ought to receive a generous response to their appeals. Tickets may be had at the Music Store of J. B. Meilor, E. Bocking’s Drug Store and the Book Store of J. C. Orr & Co.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

December 15– Thursday– Augusta County, Virginia– “I made you another pair of gloves and if you do not get home we will send you some things but I hope you will get home soon I hope you will know soon what you will have to depend upon, though I think if you do not get home there is a poor chance for others getting off. We have not got the cloth home from Staunton yet but Mr Spencer is going down Thursday and will bring it for us. I think if we don’t soon get it we will not get our cloaks made before Christmas. Mag wrote to you for a pattern but I don’t think I will wait for a pattern as I heard they are the same there that they are here. There has been very bad weather here for the last week snow ever since last Friday and the appearance is very good for more. Charlotte says if you want to see her single once more you had better hurry home for if you don’t come soon she cannot wait [to marry]. Davie B sung over at the school house last Saturday night and is going to sing tomorrow night. Mag and Hannah are at a sewing today at Mr Thomas Harris helping the girls to make their cloaks I was invited too but was not able to go I did not expect to go if I had been well. I have just finished reading a statement of the treatment of Col. L. M. Lewis when a prisoner in the north and it is the most outrageous things I ever read I wish you could see it.” ~ Letter from Ginnie Ott to Enos, her husband.

December 15– Thursday– Washington, D. C.– “The Members of Congress have hardly commenced work as yet. They are feeling about. The malcontents are not in better mood than before the election. Chase’s appointment gives satisfaction to Senator Sumner and a few others; but there is general disappointment. Public sentiment had settled down under the conviction that he could not have the position. Sumner helped to secure it for him. The President told Chandler of New Hampshire, who remonstrated against such selections, that he would rather have swallowed his buckhorn chair than to have nominated Chase. Sumner declares to me that Chase will retire from the field of politics and not be a candidate for the Presidency. I questioned it, but Sumner said with emphasis it was so. He had assured the President that Chase would retire from party politics. I have no doubt Sumner believes it. What foundations he has for the belief I know not, though he speaks positively and as if he had assurance. My own convictions are that, if he lives, Chase will be a candidate and his restless and ambitious mind is already at work. . . . In his interview with me to-day, it being the first time we have met since he reached Washington, Sumner commenced by praising my report, which he complimented as a model paper– the best report he had read from a Department, etc., etc. As he is a scholar and critic, a statesman and politician capable of forming an opinion, has culture, discrimination, and good judgment, I could not but feel gratified with his praise. He says he read every word of it. Very many Members have given me similar complimentary assurances, but no one has gratified me so much as Sumner.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

Senator Charles Sumner, c.1860

Senator Charles Sumner, c.1860

A Word to Readers

Clio the Muse of History

Clio the Muse of History

Dear readers, just a note to say that Clio will be dealing with a family medical situation for a few days. But don’t go away too far. Posts will resume before the end of the month.

And remember, “A page of history is worth a volume of logic.” ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Be well & be blessed.

Clio

Clio

 

 

Fort McAllister Taken ~ December 1864 ~ 11th to 14th

Fort McAllister Taken ~ William Tecumseh Sherman.

Signal station at Fort McAllister

Signal station at Fort McAllister

Federal forces take Fort Mc Allister outside Savannah, Georgia and the city lies open for siege or assault. The siege of Petersburg drags on and on. Nashville is ready for a major confrontation. Canada wins no friends in the North as a Canadian court releases the Confederate raiders who attacked St Albans, strengthening anti-British sentiment in some quarters.

December 11– Sunday– Montgomery, Alabama– “It is impossible to describe the delight and apparent rapture with which our presence caused the fair Florentines. Ladies lined the streets [of Florence, Alabama] in every direction, beautiful in the excitement of agreeable surprise, cheering the army with tender words and gentle looks, clasping husbands, brothers, sons, in a gush of joy and love. Never was there a time of more real enjoyment. The tired army grew sprightly and buoyant under the patriotic impression, and there was not a soldier there who did not inwardly feel a pride in lifting such a people from the humiliation of Yankee presence. After passing through the city we come to a halt near the outskirts, threw up breastworks and here, pleasantly encamped, we have remained for the past week. All is life, gaiety and festivity in our little city now. A few nights ago the officers of Lee corps gave an entertainment in the college. It was singular to notice the friendship that existed between Mars and Cupid, as, side by side, they swept the floor of the building with fantastic feet.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to the editor of the Montgomery Advertiser.

victorian-C-20

December 12– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– “James S. Scott was on Saturday morning brought before the Mayor on the charge of feloniously shooting and killing D. H. Bevans, conductor on the Fredericksburg railroad. The shooting took place at Millford, on the 5th of November. Bevans was brought to this city, and on or about the 20th of November, died at the officers’ hospital (City Alms House).” ~ Richmond Sentinel.

December 12– Monday– Confederate lines outside Petersburg, Virginia– “This morning finds me alive and tolerable well . . . . I Suppose you know not what has become of me – well we are in what is called Dinwiddie County about 10 miles to the right of Petersburg, about thirty miles from Richmond – the railroad runs [as] a crows [flies] from Richmond to Petersburg – we are 8 or ten miles from the railroad– we have been on picket [duty] nearly all the time since we came here– was relieved yesterday evening – are today in quarters– there is plenty of cabins here– we occupy cabins that other troops built and were then ordered away father to the right of the lines – there was some fighting on the right of the line Day before yesterday– it is said the Yankees were drove back. This is a very cold day here– there is some snow on the ground . . . . I am now in a part of the world I never was before – it does not look like home. . . . well I must stop for this time – hoping this may find you alive and well – have not had any mail since wee came here – some will soon– I will write soon again. Remember me at [the] throne of grace.” – Letter from Confederate soldier John P. Dull to his wife Ginny.

typical entrenchments at Petersburg

typical entrenchments at Petersburg

December 12– Monday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “Two nights without sleep has a tendency to make me sleepy. Winter campaigning is cold work, but it is all for the Union, and I will not complain. I thank God that I have such good health and can stand it.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

December 12– Monday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “Having a little leisure this evening I will improve it in writing You a few lines. Since my return to the regiment we have been very busy, and we still have a great deal to do in the way of Picket duty. The next day after my return we received orders to be ready to move at a moment’s notice which we did about noon the Same day took our backward track to the front of Petersburg, near to the place where Captain Sims was killed, We can stand in our bombproofs and See the very place where he fell. At the present time there is a heavy fight going on our left but for once the 51st have been left behind in Company with the 48th Tennessee, 36th Massachusetts and 58th Massachusetts – all small regiments, to hold the lines in our front while the rest of our Division have gone to participate in the present engagement. It is rumored that we have the South Side Rail Road now in Earnest. I hope it may be So, but as yet we have no Official report and only have the news from men that Say they have been to the front they Say it is correct. Yet I don’t write it for Sure as we have been fooled So many times with the Same news. I have found Your Brother’s large Trunk– it was Stored at City Point. I had it fetched up and the Same is now in Charge of our Regimental Quarter Master and I will Send it home with the first Officer of my regiment that has the good luck to get a leave of absence. And if there don’t a chance occur, Lieutenant Schoonmaker will muster out of the Service on the 15th of January and I will Send it by him. There is no news of importance with us that would inerest you So I will close by Sending my best respects to Your Mother and Yourself, likewise to all inquiring friends hoping to hear from You Soon.” ~ Letter from Union officer William E. Babcock to Walt Whitman.

December 12– Monday– St Louis, Missouri– Birth of Paul Elmer More, educator, journalist, essayist and religious writer. [Dies March 9, 1937.]

Paul Elmer More

Paul Elmer More

December 12– Monday– outside Savannah, Georgia– “I instructed General Howard to send a division with all his engineers to King’s Bridge, fourteen and a half miles southwest from Savannah, to rebuild it. On the evening . . . I rode over myself, and spent the night at Mr. King’s house, where I found General Howard, with General Hazen’s division of the Fifteenth Corps. His engineers were hard at work on the bridge, which they finished that night, and at sunrise Hazen’s division passed over. I gave General Hazen, in person, his orders to march rapidly down the right bank of the Ogeechee and without hesitation to assault and carry Fort McAllister by storm. I knew it to be strong in heavy artillery, as against an approach from the sea, but believed it open and weak to the rear. I explained to General Hazen fully that on his action depended the safety of the whole army and the success of the campaign.” ~ Memoirs of William Tecumseh Sherman.

part of Fort McAllister

part of Fort McAllister

December 13– Tuesday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “A few of us belonging to the Pocahontas State Guard, held an election in the county, the first since the reign of terror in 1861. We cast 21 votes at the State election and 23 at the Presidential election. – We were united for ‘Father Abraham.’ The county is almost depopulated of men, many of whom have come out and joined our army. It would do the soldiers of any State good to see the patriotism of those mountaineers and especially the women and children, who still reside there, a large majority of whom are true to the Union. Those devoted women and old men begged us to remain in the county and protect them from rebel rule, and they would feed and support us out of their hard earnings. Although my old homestead – my native county – the Indian Queen of the evergreen mountains – Pocahontas has been overrun with Southern vandals for almost four years, still the love and attachment for the old Union in the hearts of the people has not abated. Mountain people will be free.” ~ letter from Mr S Young of Beverly, West Virginia, to the editor of the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

December 13– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln submits to the Senate for ratification a treaty of friendship, commerce, and navigation with Honduras and a separate treaty of friendship, commerce, navigation, and for the extradition of fugitive criminals with Haiti.

December 13– Tuesday– Nashville, Tennessee– “Hood still lies in front of us with his army, and still Destruction is our ruler!The officers say that the suburbs of the city have been so changed in every direction during this fortnight that we have been kept at our own post, that we of Springside would not know them. Trees all gone, beautiful houses pulled down, as the would interfere with the cannons range, hills turned into threatening fortifications, and lines of soldiers drilling everywhere! Hood himself is at Mr. Rains’s, the next place to Uncle John Trimble’s– think of it, as near as that! No wonder the poor blacks are terrified out of their wits.” ~ Journal of Maggie Lindsley.

December 13– Tuesday– outside Savannah, Georgia– “About 2 p.m. we observed signs of commotion in the fort and noticed one or two guns fired inland and some musket-skirmishing in the woods close by. This betokened the approach of Hazen’s division, which had been anxiously expected, and soon thereafter the signal-officer discovered about three miles above the fort a signal-flag, with which he conversed, and found it belonged to General Hazen, who was preparing to assault the fort and wanted to know if I were there. On being assured of this fact and that I expected the fort to be carried before night, I received by signal the assurance of General Hazen that he was making his preparations and would soon attempt the assault. The sun was rapidly declining, and [I] Was dreadfully impatient. At that very moment someone discovered a faint cloud of smoke and an object gliding, as it were, along the horizon above the tops of the sedge toward the sea, which little by little grew till it was pronounced to be the smoke-stack of a steamer coming up the river. Soon the flag of the United States was plainly visible, and our attention was divided between this approaching steamer and the expected assault. When the sun was about an hour high, another signal-message came from General Hazen that he was all ready, and I replied to go ahead, as a friendly steamer was approaching from below. Soon we made out a group of officers on the deck of this vessel, signaling with a flag, ‘Who are you?’ The answer went back promptly, ‘General Sherman.’ Then followed the question ‘Is Fort McAllister taken?’ ‘Not yet, but it will be in a minute!’ Almost at that instant of time, we saw Hazen’s troops come out of the dark fringe of woods that encompassed the fort, the lines dressed as on parade, with colors flying, and moving forward with quick, steady pace. Fort McAllister was then all alive, its big guns belching forth dense clouds of smoke, which soon enveloped our approaching lines. One color [color bearer] went down, but [the flag] was up in a moment. As the lines advance, faintly seen in the white sulphurous smoke, there was a pause, a cessation of fire; the smoke cleared away, and the parapets were blue with our men, who fired their muskets in the air and shouted so that we actually heard them, or felt we did. Fort McAllister was taken, and the good news was instantly sent by the signal-officer to our navy friends on the approaching gunboat.” ~ Memoirs of William Tecumseh Sherman.

one of the Fort McAllister guns captured by Federal troops

one of the Fort McAllister guns captured by Federal troops

December 14– Wednesday– New York City– “The Richmond papers of yesterday report General Sherman at Bloomingdale, fifteen miles from Savannah, on Saturday, December 10. . . . The severity of the weather has prevented any important movements by either side at Nashville. Nothing of importance is reported to day from the Armies of the Potomac or of the Shenandoah.” ~ New York Herald.

December 14– Wednesday– New York City– “The St Albans raiders and bank robbers discharged by the Canadian court for want of jurisdiction; whereupon General Dix issues a stringent order to military authorities along the Canadian frontier, bidding them to be watchful and militant, and requiring them in case of another raid to pursue the raiders across the line. This is right and sustained by British precedent in the case of the Caroline, when American sympathizers were aiding provincial rebellion. It may lead to complication and war with England but we must take that disaster, if it comes, as in our day’s work. It’s a great inducement to southern refugees and agents in Canada to repeat the St Albans experiment but I think the Canadian government is honestly trying to prevent its repetition.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong. [For a detailed study of the Caroline affair, see, Border Diplomacy- The Caroline and Mc Leod Affairs in Anglo-American-Canadian Relations, 1837-1842 by Kenneth R. Stevens (1989).

Finish This Imperative Work of War ~ December, 1864 ~ 9th to 11th

Finish This Imperative Work of War ~ New York Herald

General Sherman

General Sherman

Determined to finish the work, Sherman and his troops come within sight of Savannah, Georgia. On the way he finds an officer seriously injured by the Civil War equivalent of an IED and sees a man decapitated by a canon ball. Politics simmer in Washington, D. C. And President Lincoln appoints a special commission to investigate goings-on in the West. A conservative Northern paper blames the “satanical abolitionists” for the war and comes on Lincoln to push to a quick finish. A young woman in Nashville wonders and worries about impending battle. In Georgia a women writes to let her sweetheart know that she and her family are safe and to express hope that Sherman will be killed or captured.

December 9– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “At the Cabinet little as usual was done. Fessenden and Stanton were not present. Seward came late. No measure of any importance was introduced. Seward, Usher, and myself came out together, the other two a little in advance of me. Seward took Usher aside in the large hall just as they were coming out, and he spoke and beckoned to me also after the others had turned off to come with them. He said, as I came up, that he was remarking to Usher that Congress and the country were full of speculations about [Cabinet] appointments; that he did not care a damn about himself– if the President wanted him he would remain, and would go if he did not. He was going to take no part against any other member of the Cabinet, but should stand by them. Usher said it was important that he should know, for he had to depend on his salary for income for his support, and probably Mr. Seward could let him know what were the President’s intentions. The subject seemed to be one on which the two had been previously conversing, and Usher was evidently in some suspense or anxiety. I did not see nor apprehend the pertinency or occasion for the conversation, except that Usher may have heard, or learned, something which has disturbed him, and sought information from Seward, who chose to have me hear him utter nonsense to Usher. I remarked that I gave no thought to the rumors, manufactured by correspondents and quidnuncs; that if Members of Congress or committees attempted to dictate to the President, he would know how to appreciate them. The conversation did not exceed five minutes, perhaps not more than three. We then came out, but Usher seemed disturbed and clung to and walked off with Seward, although his carriage was waiting in the opposite direction.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

John Usher, Secretary of the Interior

John Usher, Secretary of the Interior

December 9– Friday– Augusta County, Virginia– “It is now nearly the middle of the day and I have had my paper, pen, & ink all morning to write to you, but we had company last night, and they have not all got away yet, and several more come in so you see I have just to slip off from them and write. I am up stairs in our room with little fire & so cold that I can’t write with a pen so you must excuse pencil. It is one of the coldest days we have had this winter. I received your kind letter several weeks ago (or rather it came here for me) as I was at Moore’s at the time I spent two weeks (wanting two days) there. . . . We know not what a day nor an hour may bring forth. We will try & send you a barrel [of food and gifts] as soon as we possibly can. I was truly glad to hear that you were so fortunate as to get in with Lieutenant H. and did not have to go the field of a action – hope you will remain there. Write soon and let us hear from you, and if you know any thing about Davis. Sarah Margaret and all send their love to you. Please excuse this horridly written letter as I am in a great hurry, and am cold. May the blessings of our Heavenly Father ever be with you.” ~ Letter from Phebe Ann McCormick to her brother-in-law Enos Ott.

December 9– Friday– approaching Savannah, Georgia– “As I rode along, I found the column turned out of the main road, marching through the fields. Close by, in the corner of a fence, was a group of men standing around a handsome young officer, whose foot had been blown to pieces by a torpedo [early type of land mine] planted in the road. He was waiting for a surgeon to amputate his leg and told me that he was riding along with the rest of his brigade-staff of the Seventeenth Corps, when a torpedo trodden on by his horse had exploded, killing the horse and literally blowing off all the flesh from one of his legs. I saw the terrible wound, and made full inquiry into the facts. There had been no resistance at that point, nothing to give warning of danger, and the rebels had planted eight-inch shells in the road, with friction-matches to explode them by being trod on. This was not war, but murder, and it made me very angry. I immediately ordered a lot of rebel prisoners to be brought from the provost-guard, armed with picks and spades, and made them march in close order along the road, so as to explode their own torpedoes, or to discover and dig them up. They begged hard, but I reiterated the order, and could hardly help laughing at their stepping so gingerly along the road, where it was supposed sunken torpedoes might explode at each step, but they found no other torpedoes till near Fort McAllister. That night we reached Pooler’s Station, eight miles from Savannah.” ~ Memoirs of William Tecumseh Sherman.

December 9– Friday– Monasterevin, Kildare, Ireland– Birth of Willoughby Hamilton, tennis player, who will become the Wimbledon Champion in 1890. [Dies September 27, 1943].

Willoughby Hamilton

Willoughby Hamilton

December 10– Saturday– New York City– “The authorities in Detroit have received positive information, that the rebels in Canada had completed all their plans for a raid on that city on Thursday night, but were deterred by the complete preparations which had been made to receive them. Another meeting of citizens of Detroit was held yesterday for the purpose of giving additional strength to their defensive arrangements. One of our correspondents in the Shenandoah valley inform us that the rebel Generals Early and Breckinridge have both received instructions from Richmond to make demonstrations on the lines of General Sheridan’s army. By the rebel newspaper extracts which we publish this morning it will be seen that on the 6th instant the rebel Senate defeated a resolution introduced in pursuance of Jeff Davis’ recommendation that various officers exempted by State laws should be forced into the rebel army. Another set of resolutions fiercely condemning the proposition to make soldiers of slaves, and give them their freedom as a reward for service, has been introduced in the South Carolina Legislature. A bill has passed the House of Representatives of that body for the conscription of all males between sixteen and sixty. The Richmond papers continue to assail Governor Brown, of Georgia. They say the reason that he refused to allow the seizure for service in the rebel armies of various persons in his State was that he desired to reserve a sufficient force to fight Jeff Davis.” ~ New York Herald .

General William F Smith

General William F Smith

December 10– Saturday– “Ordered, . . . That Major-General William F. Smith and the Honorable Henry Stanbery be, and they are hereby, appointed special commissioners to investigate and report, for the information of the President, upon the civil and military administration in the military division bordering upon and west of the Mississippi, under such instructions as shall be issued by authority of the President and the War Department. . . . Said commissioners shall have power to examine witnesses upon oath, and to take such proofs, orally or in writing, upon the subject-matters of investigation as they may deem expedient, and return the same together with their report. . . . All officers and persons in the military, naval, and revenue services, or in any branch of the public service under the authority of the United States Government, are required, upon subpoena issued by direction of the said commissioners, to appear before them at such time and place as may be designated in said subpoena and to give testimony on oath . . . . The Secretary of War shall assign to the said commissioners such aid and assistance as may be required for the performance of their duties, and make such just and reasonable allowances and compensation for the said commissioners and for the persons employed by them as he may deem proper.” ~ Executive order by President Lincoln.

December 11– Sunday– New York City– “The satanical abolitionists of the North, who fomented this war, and the ferocious and bloody-minded fire-eaters of the South, who commenced it, will be held to their terrible responsibility by the conservative masses of the country, North and South. The abolitionists, pleading the cause of humanity for the Negro, have brought upon him a state of things which threatens to end only with the destruction of his race. The fire-eaters, intent upon a Southern confederacy, resting on the corner stone of Negro slavery, have brought upon their section the horrors of a hostile invasion by numerous armies and a state of siege, which threaten not only the overthrow of slavery and their confederacy, but the extirpation of slaves and slaveholders. Thus fools, rushing in where angels fear to tread, have brought all the horrors of this dreadful war upon the land. They will not escape their day of reckoning. Meantime, in order to put an end to the scenes of lawless violence and crime attendant we again admonish the administration of its solemn and paramount duty of pushing on the war earnestly and vigorously to a speedy conclusion. Put down the rebel armies, Mr. President, and give us again the blessings of peace, before we forget, North and South, what they are. The men and the means Mr. Lincoln, are at your command. Stir yourself, put down the rebellion; stop these groans of dying men, these painful cries of women and children which come to us on every breeze. Push on and finish this imperative work of war, and give us peace.” ~ New York Herald.

radical abolitionist Frederick Douglass

radical abolitionist Frederick Douglass

December 11– Sunday– Nashville, Tennessee– “Things grow monotonous– are they to remain thus all winter I wonder! Two large armies lying here at Nashville looking at each other, and doing nothing more valorous than destroying what is left of the once beautiful regions about them! Yesterday’s paper states that the damage done in the last few days to property on the opposite side of the city amounts to between half a million to a million dollars– all those lovely homes on the Franklin pike, Mr. Putnam’s (what merry times we girls have had in that dear old house!)– Mr. Berry’s, Mr. Duncan’s, etc. are utterly ruined I am told. Mrs. A. V. Brown’s is Chatham’s headquarters. The rebels are conscripting every man and boy in their lines. It is whispered that the Nichols have Harry and Mr. More secreted in their house although the rebels are constantly there, but as the older boys are officers, there is not much trouble in hiding these two I imagine!” ~Journal of Maggie Lindsley.

December 11– Sunday– Dooly County, Georgia– “I have many times in my life wished Pa would sell out and move to middle Georgia, as we would have the benefit of better schools and better society. Now I think about how thankful we should be that we are situated just where we are. It is the most safety place of refuge I can think of in this state. A great many refugees and exiles are flocking continually to this county. I do hope Sherman’s army will not be permitted to make their escape in safety; but will all be captured or killed. I suppose they move very slowly in the direction of Savannah. I hope our force ahead is sufficient to meet them. In my last [letter] I told you Pa had to go in service as Governor Brown’s last call embraced his age. He reported at Macon, had two exemptions, his county office and mill consequently he was discharged. You haven’t the least idea how rejoiced we were when he came. We had just sat down to supper table, when he drove in the yard and everyone jumped up and ran to meet him, Negroes, too. John and Joe started to their command during Sherman’s stay near Macon and were not permitted to go through, but in a few days were sent in company with a great many more Virginia troops to Savannah by the lower rout, also the Militia went too.” ~ Letter from Maggie Cone to her fiancé Alva Benjamin Spencer.

marching toward Savannah

marching toward Savannah

December 11– Sunday– approaching Savannah, Georgia– “I rode forward by the Louisville road, into a dense wood of oak, pine, and cypress, left the horses, and walked down to the railroad-track, at a place where there was a side-track, and a cut about four feet deep. From that point the railroad was straight, leading into Savannah, and about eight hundred yards off were a rebel parapet and a battery. I could see the cannoneers preparing to fire and cautioned the officers near me to scatter, as we would likely attract a shot. Very soon I saw the white puff of smoke and, watching close, caught sight of the ball as it rose in its flight, and, finding it coming pretty straight, I stepped a short distance to one side, but noticed a Negro very near me in the act of crossing the track at right angles. Someone called to him to look out; but, before the poor fellow understood his danger, the ball (a thirty-two pound round shot) struck the ground, and rose in its first ricochet, caught the Negro under the right jaw, and literally carried away his head, scattering blood and brains about. A soldier close by spread an overcoat over the body, and we all concluded to get out of that railroad-cut.” ~ Memoirs of William Tecumseh Sherman.