We Now Clearly See the Beginning of the End ~ December 1864 ~ 28th to 30th

We Now See Clearly the Beginning of the End ~ Henry Hitchcock

Rebels and Yankees see a shortened life for the Confederacy. Yet a Richmond newspaper asserts the loyalty of slaves and sees hope in the Confederate use of black soldiers. West Virginia papers talk about law and order. A friend encourages Whitman to return to Washington. Abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison ponder the future of freed people.

raids by guerrillas

raids by guerrillas

December 28– Wednesday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Some half dozen of the scoundrels who have lately been robbing and plundering the peaceable citizens of Marion and Harrison counties, have lately been arrested, brought to the city and committed to the Atheneum. Among the number is one James H. Nay, a deserter from Company K, 9th West Virginia Infantry. He is said to have lately distinguished himself as a great thief and guerrilla since he deserted from the Union army, and it is thought likely that a little hanging will be applied to him in case he shall be found guilty. Another one of the gang is William Coon, who was here once before as a prisoner and who escaped from the guard while on the way to Camp Chase.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

December 28– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Men fight at the bidding of incentives of many kinds, and their valor is called forth in proportion as their incentives are strong or weak. Array an army of Southern slaves against an army of Federal Negroes, as the South proposes, and which will have the strongest incentive to fight? Certainly the Southern slaves. . . . So far, we have only viewed the different interests which prevail on the respective sides. But there is another influence at work upon the Southern slave tending to make him play the part of a faithful soldier to the rebellion. It is that relation, affection and sympathy between himself and master. Its existence was once generally discredited in the North, in spite of manifold proofs; but the war has furnished too many notorious incidents of the devotion of a majority of the slaves to allow it longer to be doubted. Thousands of slaves follow their masters, be they in the ranks or at the head of armies, through the dangers of the battle field, and many have laid down their lives as the price of the temerity dictated by their love. During [General Jubal] Early’s last invasion of Maryland, General McCausland owed his life to the valor of his faithful body servant, who came to the rescue of his master when hard pressed by Averill’s troops, and relieved him by seriously wounding the Federal captain at the head of the attacking party. General McCausland is represented as the roughest of Virginia’s cavaliers– yet he binds the heart of his lowly slave by the ties of affection that cannot be stifled by the dangers of battle. There are many such masters and slaves in the South.” ~ Richmond Times Dispatch.

problems of rebel women in Virginia as depicted in Harpers Weekly

problems of rebel women in Virginia as depicted in Harpers Weekly

December 29– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Rained all night; spitting snow this morning. Although General Bragg announces that the enemy’s fleet has disappeared off Wilmington, still the despondency which has seized the croakers remains. It has probably sailed against Charleston, to co-operate with Sherman. . . . Most people believe Charleston will fall next, to be followed by a sweep of the entire sea-board; and grave men fear that the impetus thus given the invader cannot be checked or resisted.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

December 29– Thursday– Savannah, Georgia– “There is nothing very new to add. Indications daily increase of the tremendous moral effect our campaign has had and will have in Georgia in ‘knocking out the underpinning’ of the C.S.A. . . . while I do not think the war likely to end within a year from this as some do, I do think we now see clearly ‘the beginning of the end.’ And our General [Sherman] is the man who under God will bring it.” ~ Letter from Union officer Henry Hitchcock to Mary, his wife.

William Lloyd Garrison, editor of The Liberator

William Lloyd Garrison, editor of The Liberator

December 30– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “The abolition of slavery in this country is the release of a population as large as that of all New England from a tyranny which crashed all the rights and claims of human nature at a blow; which left to its victims nothing but the capacity to suffer, and the sole duty to be as submissive to their pretended owners as though they were created to, be ‘yoked with the brute and fettered to the soil.’ For them there was no home, no parental or filial relationship, no freedom of locomotion, no right to think or speak, no scope for conscience or the fear of God, no development of those faculties, and powers which take hold of immortal life, no moral culture, no educational improvement, no protection against even the most atrocious wrongs, no incentive to industry but the lash, no power of accumulation, no thrift, no prompting to invention or enterprise, no art, no science, no philosophy, no literature, no aspiration to be good or great. Their emancipation, therefore, meets them just where slavery leaves them– in need of everything that pertains to their physical, intellectual, and moral condition. Here, then, is opened an immense field, for philanthropic and missionary effort; and it is gratifying to perceive a disposition widely felt to cultivate it, both by individuals and associations. No doubt the charities of the benevolent, in this direction, will be sometimes abused, through the selfishness or in competency of some who enter this field; hence, too much caution cannot be exercised by those who are asked to contribute for so laudable an object. As a friend remarks, ‘The term freedman is now a word to conjure with,’ and therefore is there a special liability to be imposed upon by self-seeking adventurers or proselyting sectarists. As far as our knowledge extends, we regard the various Freedmen’s Associations now in operation as trustworthy mediums, and deserving of general encouragement in proportion to the catholic spirit in which they are organized, without reference to theological differences of opinion. We trust they will be vigilant and discriminating in the employment of teachers and agents, and endeavor to penetrate into the motives of those who apply for such situations; for if the animating spirit be simply to find employment or to get pecuniary gain, the moral and educational experiment will be neither successful nor creditable.” ~ The Liberator.

December 30– Friday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “At this time we find it difficult to write anything out of the usual line of every day transactions, which, with us, consists principally in scouting after ‘Johnny Rebs at home’ on extended furloughs, leaves of absence, special and general details, and all the various modes and devices by which a thoroughly worn out and a badly used reb can fabricate and avail himself of to get home, to see his friends and replenish his wardrobe, the latter, to judge from appearances, being the greater inducement. In fact, to judge from the appearance of a ‘fresh arrival’ from Dixie, it would seem that the Southern Confederacy, or what is left of it, is made up of gray or muddy-colored jackets, all of which have seen much service – as none come without them, and few with anything else. This season of the year being favorable for the business, they are caught about as fast as they come in. Many having a wholesome fear of the State Scouts [state militia], and an antipathy to visiting Camp Chase [a prison camp] at this unseasonable time of the year, have availed themselves of President Lincoln’s Proclamation, came in, surrendered up their arms, and taken the oath of fidelity to that Government that they have been trying to break down, which leaves the county of Braxton with fewer armed rebels in it now than there has been since the war commenced, and should we be furnished in future from the General Government the protection we now have – which consists of a sufficient force near to stop or check all large raids through this county, and which we are justly entitled to, we can within ourselves and by Spring put a final stop to horse stealing, bushwhacking, and all the different unlawful and barbarous callings that have been practiced so long and successfully in this and similarly situated localities. All we ask is an extension of our present admirably arranged State organization.” ~ Letter from a Union soldier in Braxton, County, West Virginia, to the editor of the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

guerrilla robbers

guerrilla robbers

December 30– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “I have been constantly hoping to have you here again and now begin to see something more than a glimmer of fruition. Ashton has spoken (at my instigation) to Mr. Otto the Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Interior in your behalf, and Mr. Otto says that if you will write a letter of application to the Secretary of the Interior, he will endeavor to put you in. Now, dear Walt, do this without delay. The object of your writing the letter is to get a specimen of your hand. Pick out, then, a good pen and write as fairly as you can a letter formally applying for a clerkship. Then enclose a copy of this letter to Ashton, so that he can follow it on to the Secretary. The first letter you will, of course, mail to the Secretary direct. Do this as soon as you can. We shall fetch it this time. I have every confidence that you will get a good and an easy berth, a regular income, &c., leaving you time to attend to the soldiers, to your poems, &c– in a word, what Archimedes wanted, a place on which to rest the lever. I shall wait anxiously to hear that you have sent on the letters. Have been thinking of you constantly for months and have been doing everything I could to secure you a foothold here. . . . I write this letter at intervals between the press of office work, which has driven upon me in spasms today, but pretty severely when it did come. Any incoherence in it, you may refer to the obfuscated state which such hurryings [sic] have induced in me. Farewell, dear Walt. I hope to hear from you very soon. We are all tolerably well at home.” ~ Letter from William D. O’Connor to his friend Walt Whitman.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

December 30– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “The Augusta Chronicle publishes some particulars of the evacuation of Savannah, derived from one who left the city the night before our troops. It says: ‘When he left the city on Monday, several hundred families were without anything to eat. Provisions were exceedingly scarce. During the past week several assaults were made on our lines, but were repulsed signally. Our works around the city were very strong, and the place, in all probability, would have been held had it not been for the fall of Fort Mc Allister. The usual garrison of Fort Mc Allister numbered about one hundred and twenty five men. A day or two before it fell, however, about six hundred more troops were sent to their aid. By its fall we lost between seven and eight hundred men. . . . After Sherman captured the fort he communicated with the fleet and procured a bountiful supply of ammunition – an article which he was deprived of by Providence in Atlanta. Sherman also transferred the heavy guns from Fort Mc Allister to a position from which he could shell the city in case he wished to. No demand was made for the surrender of the city until Saturday. On that day he demanded the unconditional surrender of the city. General Beauregard, in substance, informed him that he knew the way to the city and could take it if he was able. General Beauregard left the city on Sunday. The residents of Savannah did not expect that the city would be captured. They were totally unprepared for such a result. But very few of them succeeded in getting away. Those who did were obliged to leave most of their effects behind. The best order was maintained throughout the siege. All the whiskey was locked up. The stills were all seized by the authorities. The four local companies were assigned to police duty and kept law-breakers quiet. One or two small fires occurred, but little property, however, was damaged. All the rice on the plantations in the vicinity of the city fell into the hands of the Yankees. . . . A large portion of the Central railroad cars were sent down the Savannah and Gulf railroad before that line was interrupted. Both of the printing offices in the city fell into the hands of the Yankees. Both editors left before the capitulation. A gentleman from Savannah says that some of our troops, when leaving, broke open stores and helped themselves to everything they saw, carrying away what they fancied and wantonly destroying much property they could not remove.” ~ Richmond Times Dispatch.

Union General George Thomas, victor at Nashville

Union General George Thomas, victor at Nashville

December 30– Friday– Pulaski, Tennessee– “As the enemy is now entirely driven out of the State of Tennessee, I would respectfully suggest that immediate measures be taken for the reorganization of the civil government of the State, as it is desirable, it possible, to place as force of the army beyond the borders of the State and as close to the enemy as we can, and I should be very happy to be assured that I could leave the State in the hands of the citizens. All should certainly now feel that the establishment of rebel authority in the State of Tennessee is hopeless, and their own interests should induce them to return to their allegiance to the United States, and restore peace to their State without any further quibbling.” ~ Letter from Union General George Thomas to Andrew Johnson

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