Invoking the Favor & Guidance of Almighty God ~ February 1865~ 18th to 20th

Invoking the Favor and Guidance of Almighty God ~ Jeff Davis

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Seeking relief from numerous setbacks, President Davis issues a call for a day of prayer and fasting throughout the Confederacy. General Lee asks Congress to authorize the use of slaves as soldiers in the Confederate army. Even government employees in Richmond worry that it may be too late for survival of the rebellion. In South Carolina, Charleston is occupied and additional damage inflicted upon Columbia. Union General Howard issues orders for his troops to guard and guide the increasing number of escaped slaves who are following the Federal forces and he instructs officers to stop soldiers from looting and vandalism. Canada moves toward the creation of the modern nation we know.

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February 18– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– “Proclamation by the President, appointing a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, with thanksgiving. ‘The Congress of the Confederate States have, by a joint resolution, invited me to appoint a day of public fasting, humiliation and prayer, with thanksgiving to Almighty God. It is our solemn duty, at all times, and more especially in a season of public trial and adversity, to acknowledge our dependence on His mercy, and to bow in humble submission before His footstool confessing our manifold sins, supplicating His gracious pardon imploring His Divine help, and devoutly rendering thanks for the many and great blessings which He has vouchsafed to us. Let the hearts of our people turn contritely and trustfully unto God; let us recognize in His chartering hand the correction of a Father, and submissively pray that the trials and sufferings which have so long borne heavily upon us may be turned away by His merciful love; that His sustaining grace be given to our people, and His divine wisdom imparted to our rulers; that the Lord of Hosts will be with our armies, and fight for us against our enemies; and that He will gratuitously take our cause into His own hand and mercifully establish for us a lasting, just and honorable peace and independence. And let us not forget to render unto His holy name the thanks and praise which are so justly due for His great goodness, and for the many mercies which He has extended to us amid the trials and sufferings of protracted and bloody war. Now, therefore, I, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, do issue this my proclamation, appointing Friday, the fifth day of March next, as a day of public fasting, humiliation and prayer, (with thanksgiving,) for invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, and I do earnestly invite all soldiers and citizens to observe the same in a spirit of reverence, penitence and prayer.” ~ Richmond Times Dispatch.

President Jeff Davis

President Jeff Davis

February 18– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– “With reference to the employment of Negroes as soldiers, I think the measure not only expedient, but necessary. The enemy will certainly use them against us if he gets possession of them. As his present numerical superiority will enable him to penetrate many parts of the country, I can’t see the wisdom of the policy of holding them to await his arrival, when we may, by timely action and judicious management, use them to arrest his progress. I do not think that our white population can supply the necessities of a long war without overtaxing its capacity, and imposing great suffering on our people; and I believe we should provide for a protracted struggle, not merely for a battle or a campaign. . . . I can only say that, in my opinion, the Negroes, under proper circumstances, will make efficient soldiers. I think we could do at least as well with them as the enemy, who attaches great importance to their assistance. Under good officers and good instructions, I do not see why they should not become soldiers. They possess all the physical qualities, and their habits of obedience constitute good foundation for discipline. They furnish more promising material than many armies of which we read in history, which owe their efficiency to discipline alone. I think those who are employed should be freed. It would be neither just nor wise, in my opinion, to require them to remain as slaves. The course to pursue, it seems to me, would be to call for such as are willing to come, with the consent of their owners. An impressment or draft would not be likely to bring out that class, and this course would make the war more distasteful to them and their owners. I have no doubt that if Congress would authorize their reception into the service, and empower the President to call upon individuals or States for such as are willing to contribute, with the condition of emancipation to all enrolled, a sufficient number would be forthcoming to enable us to try the experiment. If it should prove successful, most of the objections to the measure would disappear; and if individuals still remained unwilling to send their Negroes to the army, the force of public opinion in the States would soon bring about such legislation as would remove all obstructions. I think the matter should be left, as far as possible, to the people and to the States, which alone can legislate as the necessities of this particular service may require. As to the mode of organizing them, it should be left as free from restraint as possible. Experience will suggest the best course. It would be inexpedient to trammel the subject with provisions that might, in the end, prevent the adoption of reforms suggested by actual trial.” ~ Message from Confederate General Robert E Lee to the Confederate Congress.

General Robert E Lee

General Robert E Lee

February 18 – Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– “Rained last night; but this is as lovely a morning as ever dawned on earth. A gentle southern breeze, a cloudless sky, and a glorious morning sun, whose genial warmth dispels the moisture of the late showers in smoky vapors. But how dark and dismal the aspect of our military affairs! Columbia fallen and Charleston (of course) evacuated. My wife wept, my daughter prayed, upon hearing the news. South Carolina was superior to all the States in the estimation of my wife, and she regarded it as the last stronghold. Now she despairs, and seems reckless of whatever else may happen in Sherman’s career of conquest.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

February 18– Saturday– Charleston, South Carolina– “The city of Charleston and its defenses came into our possession this morning, with over 200 pieces of good artillery and a supply of fine ammunition. The enemy commenced evacuating all the works last night, and Mayor Macbeth surrendered the city to the troops of General Schimmelfennig at 9 o’clock this morning, at which time it was occupied by our forces.” ~ Message from Union General Quincy Gillmore to the War Department in Washington, D.C.

United States Colored Troops marching through Charleston

United States Colored Troops marching through Charleston

February 19– Sunday– Richmond, Virginia– ” Another bright and glorious morning. I hear of no news whatever from the South– although I know that important events are transpiring– and the reticence of the government is construed very unfavorably. Hence if Beauregard has fought a battle, it is to be apprehended that he did not gain the day; and if this be so, South Carolina lies at the conqueror’s feet.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

February 19– Sunday– Columbia, South Carolina– Before moving on, Sherman’s Federal troops destroy any and all remaining industrial buildings and railroads.

February 19– Sunday– Columbia, South Carolina– “Major [William H.] Reynolds, Fourteenth New York Heavy Artillery, is hereby assigned to the command of all escaped Union officers and soldiers [who had just been freed from Confederate prison camps in the area], and will also take charge of all refugees [escaping slaves] and their conveyances accompanying the army. These officers and soldiers will move with the refugee train as an escort, and from them will be organized a foraging party. One officer will be selected to act as quartermaster and commissary. The train will be assigned its position in the column from day to day. Major Reynolds will report to these headquarters for instructions.” ~ Order from Union General Oliver O Howard.

Union General Oliver O Howard

Union General Oliver O Howard

February 19– Sunday– Cahaba, Alabama– “It seems a long time since I heard from you or any of my connection. I am very anxious to hear from you all. I am still at Cahaba the same place when you heard from me last. I have not heard from you since last spring. I want to know what has become of you all. I have not heard from home since I was at your house. I have rote and rote and could get any anser. If you have ever heard any thing from my family, please don’t delay to let me know. It seems that I am way here cut off from my family and all my near relatives and can’t hear from them. I think hard and here I expect to have to remain, I can’t tell how long. God only knows. Duty is heavy. I am on guard every other day and night guarding Yankee prisoners. You all must wright [sic] to me. My health has been good ever since I saw you, with the exception of two weeks. I had chills. I will have to close as I have no more room.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to a family member.

February 20 – Monday– Richmond, Virginia– “Another morning of blue skies and glorious sunshine. Sherman is reported to be marching northward, and to have progressed one-third of the way between Columbia and Charlotte, North Carolina . . . . Grant’s campaign seems developed at last. Sherman and Thomas will concentrate on his left, massing 200,000 men between Lee and his supplies, effectually cutting his communications by flanking with superior numbers. It is probable Charleston, Wilmington, and Richmond will fall without a battle; for how can they be held when the enemy stops supplies? and how could the garrisons escape when once cut off from the interior? And yet Congress has done nothing, and does nothing, but waste the precious time. I fear it is too late now!” ~ Diary of John Jones.

February 20– Monday– moving north by north east from Columbia, South Carolina– “I desire to call your attention to the fact that some of our soldiers have been committing the most outrageous robberies of watches, jewelry, &c. A case has come to my notice where a watch and several articles of jewelry were stolen by a foraging party under the eye of the commissioned officer in charge. Another, where a brute had violently assaulted a lady by striking her, and had then robbed her of a valuable gold watch. In one instance money was stolen to the amount of $150, and another, where an officer with a foraging party had allowed his men to take rings off the fingers of ladies in his presence. To-day a soldier was found plundering, arrested, placed under the guard of one of General Corse’s orderlies, and was liberated by some of his comrades who had arms in their hands, and who threatened the life of the guard. These outrages must be stopped at all hazards, and the thieves and robbers who commit them be dealt with severely and summarily. I am inclined to think that there is a regularly organized banditti who commit these outrages and who share the spoils. I call upon you and upon all the officers and soldiers under you, who have one spark of honor or respect for the profession which they follow, to help me put down these infamous proceedings and to arrest the perpetrators. Please furnish to every inspector, provost-marshal, and officer in charge of a foraging party a copy of this letter, and enjoin them to be on the watch to stop these infamous proceedings, and to bring to justice the individuals who commit them.” ~ Orders from Union General Oliver O Howard.

February 20– Monday– Nashville, Tennessee– Colonel R. D. Mussey of the United States Colored Troops reports to Andrew Johnson that there are 2600 children of former slaves enrolled in 11 schools in Tennessee.

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February 20– Monday– Quebec City, Quebec, Canada– The Legislature of the Province of Canada passes a motion in favor of Confederation.

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