Goodbye Old 1864~ December ~ the 30th and 31st

Goodbye Old 1864 ~ Elisha Hunt Rhodes

Soldiers and civilians, North and South, bid the old year adieu and ponder what 1865 may hold.


December 30– Friday– Savannah, Georgia– “I received a most disagreeable order just now, that we must move tomorrow at seven o’clock, to take up a new encampment on the north side of the river. We have such comfortable quarters here, are right by the city, and now we have to go off there. It would be some satisfaction to know the reason of this move, but it must be submitted to I suppose. Our corps was reviewed today. A blockade runner who had not been informed of the change of proprietorship to Savannah, merrily sailed up the river night before last, little dreaming that while she had escaped our navy, she would fall into the hands of our infantry. There are a good many citizens in Savannah who have been interested in blockade running.” ~ Diary of Fredrick C. Winkler

December 30– Friday– near Dubrovnic, Kingdom of Dalmatia– Birth of Marko Murat, Serbian painter. [Dies October 14,1944.]

Marko Murat

Marko Murat

December 31– Saturday– New York City– “Miss Sarah Jane Smith, of Arkansas, who was sentenced to be hung for cutting the telegraph wire, near Springfield, Mississippi, has had her sentence commuted to imprisonment during the war. She is under 17, but a bitter rebel. She is said to be insane. . . . In the south-eastern part of Massachusetts there are 12,000 women employed in bonnet factories. Miss Avonia Jones, the popular actress, while on her voyage from St. Louis to Memphis, had her luggage riddled by the bullets of the guerillas who infest the banks of the Mississippi. She fortunately escape personal hurt. . . . A bill has been introduced into the Legislature of Louisiana, permitting the marriage of white and colored persons. . . . Barker’s famous establishment, 622 Broadway, is not only the largest in America, but also in the world. The elegance with which it is fitted up is remarkable, and it deserves a visit. Here is found every article intended to ornament lovely woman; here the darts are sharpened which beauty shoots at man. Little does the world know, as it gazes with admiration on the head-dress of a beautiful woman, and sees how artistically that great ornament, the hair, is made, not only a glorious gift of Nature, but a wonderful work of art, requiring a master hand– little does the world guess the elaboration it requires to perfect the work. The ladies’ dressing-room is a marvel for its chaste arrangement of colors, the light being thrown from above. The store, which is elegantly fitted up with oak carvings, contains everything needful for a lady’s toilet. The wigs for both ladies and gentlemen are really models of art, and can bear the closest inspection– it being absolutely impossible to detect them from a natural head of hair. . . . If there is any season of the year in which maids and matrons wish to look younger and lovelier than at other times, it is the holiday season of Christmas and New Year’s Day. And naturally, because all the surroundings of life are then bright and joyous. To be in keeping with the season is, as a matter of course, the ambition of all womankind, and we dare say that ambition will attain its object now, as it always has done. But in order to win enduring freshness and loveliness, our fair friends should not fail to enlist in their service the various appliances for the toilette that are furnished by Dr. Felix Gouraud. We commend these, because they have stood the test of time, and are thoroughly good.” ~ odds and ends of news and gossip from the “Epitome of the Week” column in Frank Leslie’s Weekly.


December 31– Saturday– New York City– “Thus passeth away into history this memorable year 1864. Much has been done toward destroying rebellion in these twelve months. It is far weaker tonight than it was a year ago. God aid our efforts to put it down and establish unity and peace this coming year as the last!” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

December 31– Saturday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Nearly every day a dozen or so deserters from the rebel army report themselves to the commander of the post here and exhibit certificates that they have taken the oath of allegiance, whereupon they are furnished with transportation and sent to the west or wherever they wish to go. Yesterday a forlorn chap, who looked like the stage version of the apothecary in Romeo and Juliet, accompanied by another ‘anatomy of a starved pilchard’ that might have been mistaken for his shadow, entered Colonel Washburne’s office in great distress. The apothecary said that his shadow had lost the written evidence of his having taken the oath. The Colonel informed him that it made no difference – that if anybody interfered with him on his travels he could easily take the oath over again and it wouldn’t hurt him a bit. The men took their departure for Ohio. Since the cold weather set in deserters have been flocking into all the outposts in this department. They take the oath and are sent on here or elsewhere. Sometimes a rank rebel makes his way into our lines for mischief, through this means, but generally they are genuine deserters, badly clothed, poorly fed and shivering in every limb.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

federal cavalry officers-KOYX

December 31– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “By the authority conferred upon the President of the United States by the second section of the act of Congress approved July 2, 1864, entitled ‘An act to amend an act to aid in the construction of a railroad and telegraph line from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean,’ etc., I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby designate the Merchants’ National Bank, Boston; the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad Company’s office, Chicago; the First National Bank at Philadelphia; the First National Bank at Baltimore; the First National Bank at Cincinnati, and the Third National Bank at St. Louis, in addition to the general office of the Union Pacific Railroad Company in the city of New York, as the places at which the said Union Pacific Railroad Company shall cause books to be kept open to receive subscriptions to the capital stock of said company.” ~ Executive order by President Lincoln.

December 31– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– “A Yankee prisoner at the Libby was yesterday morning killed by the accidental explosion of a musket in the hands of Colonel Spencer, Brigade Inspector of General P. T. Moore’s Reserves. The Colonel was inspecting the weapon in the basement of the Libby, when it exploded, driving the bullet with which it was loaded and the iron ram rod which was in the barrel through the floor over head, and into the body of a prisoner who was sitting on the floor. The prisoner died in a very short time. We could not learn his name.” ~ Richmond Whig.

December 31– Saturday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “Goodbye old 1864. Your departure is not regretted, as it brings us so much nearer the end of the war. May God grant us success in the year about to open.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

December 31– Saturday– Bolivar, Tennessee– “If I am tired of life at seventeen what will I be at twenty seven! A perfect misanthrope. Yes, in a great deal less time to be the gayest in the crowd, but if anyone knew the insatiable longing of my soul they would pity me. But it may be all my fault. I am so cold, inconstant and deceitful, no society is congenial to me. Oh how I strive to show a cheerful countenance and be affectionate and agreeable. I confess that I have no love of the world, Any but the few that I love I find hypocritical, mean and selfish.” ~ Diary of Sally Wendel Fentress.


December 31– Saturday– Savannah, Georgia– “We started out this morning to go across the river. We crossed the South Branch, which took us to Hutchinson’s Island. The broader stream is on the other side of it; this was not bridged, and the South Carolina shore was defended by some rebel cavalry. We crossed some men in boats, but they could not get to a good landing, the ground was so marshy. It was attempted to lay a pontoon bridge, but the wind was so furious and agitated the water so much that it was exceedingly difficult, besides we had not nearly pontoons enough. It was very chilly and rained all day, and we lay there in the mud on the island until night, when all but one brigade was sent back to their old camps. That brigade is to be crossed by means of a steam tug and Sat boats, and I suppose we will start out again tomorrow morning to cross the same way, and then we can easily put a bridge across. Most of our camps had been occupied by other troops when we came back; ours had not been broken up and carried off, but was in the possession of a Quarter Master, who was quickly turned out . . . . We have had no mail yet; it is said that one is expected today. I trust we will get it before we leave, as we have orders to be ready to march at any moment. The weather seems to have been rough on the ocean of late, three-mast steamers came in yesterday with top masts gone. They have had a meeting in the city and passed resolutions of submission to the United States, but I think they do not represent the general sentiments of the city; all the educated classes are intensely secesh, still necessity may make them good citizens. Savannah is a very handsome city; private residences are very fine and luxuriously furnished.” ~ Diary of Fredrick C. Winkler.

December 31– Saturday– New Orleans, Louisiana– “One year ago, in my little room in the Camp Street house, I sat shivering over Tennyson and my desk, selfishly rejoicing over the departure of a year that had brought pain and discomfort only to me, and eagerly welcoming the dawning of the New One whose first days were to bring death to George and Gibbes [ two of her brothers], and whose latter part was to separate me from Miriam, and brings me news of Jimmy’s approaching marriage. O sad, dreary, fearful Old Year! I see you go with pain! Bitter as you have been, how do we know what the coming one has in store for us? What new changes will it bring? Which of us will it take? I am afraid of eighteen sixty-five, and have felt a vague dread of it for several years past. Nothing remains as it was a few months ago. Miriam went to Lilly [Georgia], in the Confederacy, on the 19th of October (ah! Miriam!), and mother and I have been boarding with Mrs. Postlethwaite ever since. I miss her sadly. Not as much, though, as I would were I less engaged. For since the first week in August, I have been teaching the children for Sister; and since we have been here, I go to them every morning instead of their coming to me. Starting out at half-past eight daily, and returning a little before three, does not leave me much time for melancholy reflections. And there is no necessity for indulging in them at present; they only give pain.” ~ Diary of Sarah Morgan Dawson.

Sarah Morgan Dawson

Sarah Morgan Dawson

December 31– Saturday– London, England– Birth of William Bridgeman, politician who will serve as Home Secretary from 1922 to 1924. [Dies August 14, 1935.]

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