Incorrigible Inter-meddling ~ January 1865 ~ 4th to 6th

Incorrigible Inter-meddling ~ Charleston Mercury

The Confederacy shows signs of unraveling. States more concerned about retaining soldiers for their own defense. Criticism of generals and of President Davis. Congressional inactivity. Concerns about large scale desertions from the army’s ranks. Resentment about the inability to stop General Sherman’s devastation of Georgia and concern about his threat to South Carolina. In Boston, William Lloyd Garrison takes note of the increased visitation to the halls of Congress by African American citizens.

men's fashions 1865

men’s fashions 1865

January 4– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Bright, but several inches of snow fell last night. . . . General J. S. Preston, Superintendent Bureau of Conscription, writes a long letter from South Carolina indorsing an act of the Legislature authorizing the impressment of one-fifth of the slaves between eighteen and fifty, for work on the fortifications within the State, but also providing for impressment of an additional number by the Confederate States Government. This, General Preston considers a treasonable move, indicating that South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, etc. have a purpose to disintegrate Confederate authority, and that they will not contribute another man, black or white, to the Confederate service, to be commanded by Confederate States authority. And he has several thrusts at General Bragg and General Kemper, and, indirectly, at the President, for interfering with his bureau. I see nothing in the act to warrant his interpretations, and I have no faith in his predictions. W. F. D. Saussure and others, Columbia, South Carolina, petition the government to send a corps of Lee’s army to save their State and Georgia from devastation, as there are no adequate forces in them for defense. They confess that Richmond is important to hold, but insist that Georgia and South Carolina must be defended to hold it, etc. They are frightened evidently.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

January 4– Wednesday– Charleston, South Carolina– “It is stated that there are one hundred thousand absentees from the armies of the Confederate States. In this Department, we are credibly informed, there is a single corps of twenty-seven thousand on the rolls, which does not turn out seven thousand effective men. These facts support the statement of President Davis, made in his Macon speech, upon his return from a review of the sullen Army of the West, after his removal of General Johnston, the bloody repulses of Hood, and the fall of Atlanta. Why is it that men are not in the ranks and at the front? Will any one say that the people of the Confederate States are not patriotic? History tells of no struggle for independence in which more general and heroic devotion was ever displayed. Our people have made great exertions in behalf of a great cause. It is the people of these States which over and over have lifted out of the perils ensuing from incompetent mal-administration the affairs of the country. It is the incorrigible inter-meddling, mischievous dictation, malignant prejudices and petty partisanship which make sacrifices apparently endless and useless. It is these things which weigh like a pall upon the heart of the country. It is these things which infuse inefficiency everywhere, and inspire selfishness and indifference. It is these things which are destroying us, and which must be eradicated by the action of Congress.” ~ Charleston Mercury.

Robert B Rhett, owner of the Charleston Mercury

Robert B Rhett, owner of the Charleston Mercury

January 4– Wednesday– near Albany, Georgia– “I am just getting well of measles, and a rough time I had of it. Measles is no such small affair after all, especially when aggravated by perpetual alarms of Yankee raiders. For the last week we have lived in a state of incessant fear. All sorts of rumors come up the road and down it, and we never know what to believe. Mett and I have received repeated letters from home urging our immediate return, but of course it was impossible to travel while I was sick in bed, and even now I am not strong enough to undertake that terrible journey across the burnt country again. While I was ill, home was the one thought that haunted my brain, and if I ever do get back, I hope I will have sense enough to stay there. I don’t think I ever suffered so much before in all my life, and dread of the Yankees raised my fever to such a pitch that I got no rest by night or day. I used to feel very brave about Yankees, but since I have passed over Sherman’s track and seen what devastation they make, I am so afraid of them that I believe I should drop down dead if one of the wretches should come into my presence. . . . General Sherman told Mr. Cuyler that he did not intend to leave so much as a blade of grass in South-West Georgia, and Dr. Janes told sister that he (Sherman) said he would be obliged to send a formidable raid here in order to satisfy the clamors of his army, though he himself, the fiend Sherman, dreaded it on account of the horrors that would be committed. What Sherman dreads must indeed be fearful. They say his soldiers have sworn that they will spare neither man, woman nor child in all South-West Georgia. It is only a question of time, I suppose, when all this will be done. It begins to look as if the Yankees can do whatever they please and go wherever they wish – except to heaven; I do fervently pray the good Lord will give us rest from them there. . . . medicine nearly killed me. It was a big dose of opium and whisky, that drove me stark crazy, but when I came to myself I felt much better. Dr. Janes was my regular physician and had the merit of not giving much medicine, but he frightened me horribly with his rumors about Yankee raiders. We are safe from them for the present, at any rate, I hope; the swamps of the Altamaha are so flooded that it would take an army of Tritons to get over them now.” ~ Diary of Eliza Frances Andrews.


January 5– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “I herewith return to your honorable body, in which it originated, a ‘Joint resolution to correct certain clerical errors in the internal-revenue act,’ without my approval. My reason for so doing is that I am informed that this joint resolution was prepared tinting the last moments of the last session of Congress for the purpose of correcting certain errors of reference in the internal-revenue act which were discovered on an examination of an official copy procured from the State Department a few hours only before the adjournment. It passed the House and went to the Senate, where a vote was taken upon it, but by some accident it was not presented to the President of the Senate for his signature. Since the adjournment of the last session of Congress other errors of a kind similar to those which this resolution was designed to correct have been discovered in the law, and it is now thought most expedient to include all the necessary corrections in one act or resolution. The attention of the proper committee of the House has, I am informed, been already directed to the preparation of a bill for this purpose.” ~ Veto message by President Lincoln.

January 5– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Clear and cold. It is understood now that General Hood has crossed to the south side of the Tennessee River with the debris of his army. . . . It is supposed we shall have active operations again before this city as soon as the weather and roads will permit. But it really does seem that the States respectively mean to take control of all their men not now in the Confederate States armies, and I apprehend we shall soon have ‘confusion worse confounded.’” ~ Diary of John Jones.

discharged veteran tells his war stories

discharged veteran tells his war stories

January 5– Thursday– Charleston, South Carolina– “A gentleman, who left Savannah last week, says that the city continued quiet– the citizens not being molested, and private property being protected. An order has been issued not to cut the shade trees because fuel is short. Sherman promises to bring wood by the Gulf Railroad. The 14th and 25th Corps are in the entrenchments, reaching from the Savannah River to the Plank Road. The Yankees are building a new pontoon bridge opposite the Exchange. The Churches on Sunday were filled with ladies. Many Negroes, who joined Sherman in the country are leaving; in fact, the roads are lined with them. . . . Several Federal steamers are engaged in removing the obstructions from the river. Adams’ Express Company have opened an office in the city. In Augusta, on Thursday, about three hundred Negroes were sold by various auction houses, at an average of $3,000 to $3,500 each.” ~ Charleston Mercury.

January 5– Thursday– somewhere in southeast South Carolina– “We left our camp in Savannah on Monday morning and crossed the river on a steamer, the Planter. We landed in the rice fields. The first trip brought over three regiments, including mine. I was put in command, and our brigade commander went back. We had to repair, or rather rebuild, a bridge on the dike, and that took us until late in the afternoon; then we marched forward four miles, where our first brigade was camped. Here I found General Ward, who told me to camp there for the present. Evening: I was interrupted this morning by an order to go out reconnoitering. Tuesday I sent out a party early and they had not been gone long before we heard quite heavy firing, so I concluded to go out and see what it was myself. Our horses had not then come across the river and I had to go on foot. I found that our party had met a rebel cavalry force, who had fallen back to an entrenchment commanding the road, on each side of which there was an impassable swamp. I sent parties to the right and left to try to get through the swamp, but they could not accomplish it and I finally found, on personal examination, it was just about impracticable. I was bound to get them out, so I took a few of my men and made a wide detour. We went over a rice field dike as far as we could and then worked our way inch by inch through a canebrake on very swampy bottom, and finally came out on a road which would lead me to their rear. Here I came upon a cavalry picket post, who gave the alarm, and they all ran off. To-day I went over the same road and met no enemy, but found immense quantities of rice and sent a scow load down the river. We moved forward about a mile and went into camp on good dry ground yesterday. To-day our wagon came up and brought us a few boards. I have a floor in my tent, but no chimney. There are no bricks here, the soil is all sandy. It is reported that a portion of the 17th Corps has embarked on board of transports, bound for some more northerly port. I hinted to a staff officer of the division that I wanted to resign, a few days ago; he thought I could not possibly get my resignation approved.” ~ Letter from Union officer Fredrick C. Winkler to his wife Frances.


January 6– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– ” It was noticeable that there were in the Senate galleries about a dozen colored persons sitting on the back seats, to be sure, but as well-behaved and properly dressed as any other persons in the gallery. This is the first time Negroes were ever present on opening day, though, towards the close of the last session, it was no uncommon thing to see them in the galleries– more particularly in those of the Senate. . . . Various semi-secesh women of Washington were also excessively shocked it this alarming evidence of our national relapse into barbarism, and charged it all to ‘Sumner and the nasty abolitionists’ declaring, with flashing eyes and scornfully turned upper lip, that it was an insult to every body in the land to admit ‘N******’ into the gallery. The enormity of the offence is shown by the fact that in the two years, perhaps as many as fifty different colored persons have visited the Senate gallery; some of whom have actually been there two or three times. This revolution, at least, trill not go backward. Hereafter color will not be a qualification for admission to all parts of the Capitol. . . . in one of the lower halls, four soldier [were] exploring the building together, two of whom were whites and two of whom were Negroes. When whites and Negroes meet on such terms of equality as that, what may we not expect next?” ~ The Liberator.

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