Will We Thus Blunder on to the End? ~ March 1865 ~ 1st to 2nd

Will We Thus Blunder on to the End?

field mortar images

Even a diary-keeping clerk in the Confederate government worries about the failure of the rebellion. The governor of Georgia complains about Richmond’s failures. The Confederate force in the Shenandoah Valley fights its last major battle and is scattered. Ominous signs of post-war problems are visible as West Virginia considers prohibiting rebels from participating in government and a Union general looks to financial exploitation of the South. The New York Herald, a virulently anti-Lincoln paper, takes an insultingly worded stand about the future of black people and calls Jeff Davis a despot.


March 1– Wednesday– New York City– “Now, the South has been fighting four years over the n***** question. It is a universal desert. Its farm houses are burned, its fields abandoned, the flower of its youth is slain. From one end of the land to the other the women are desolate as mothers and widows. And now, having borne all this for the perpetuation of Negro slavery, the South comes to the admission that it must lay down its arms and acknowledge defeat unless it gives these very Negroes their freedom. That is the most that the enemies of the South ever hoped to gain. The South now proposes to stand by the freedom of the Negro, that in the commencement it declared nothing but its subjugation should ever bring about. It is now as determined that the n***** shall be free as it was before that he should not. The rebel Generalissimo says that the Negroes are the only fighting material left; and though the rebel Senate says that they shall not be put in the army they will be. This great settlement of the Negro question will be carried out by the rebel Executive over the head of the rebel Senate. The rebel Senate is now all that is left of the rebellion. The rebel President and generals, army and press, are all on our side, and are fighting our battle against their own Senate. Thus the n***** question brings about a counter revolution, and the n***** question and the rebellion will be settled by the self-same blow. At the North the n***** is done with also. The constitutional amendment has gone to the States, and whether the States adopt it or not there will never be any more slavery. Even the South has helped the North make that certain. But now the Northern agitators, in their fears lest this n***** question should be set at rest, are urging that the Negro should vote. Let them give him a vote also if they will, or anything else, and if any white woman wants to marry a n*****, or any white man a wench, let them have their way. Social laws will settle all that; and as for the Negro vote; it will do no harm. If all the Negroes on earth should vote they could not give us worse governments than we have had for twenty years, whether national, State, or municipal. Universe suffrage is a delusion that cannot be made into a bug-bear any longer. In France there is universal suffrage and a despotism. Give the agitators, therefore, this is one more bone if they bark for it. Social laws will settle in their own way – whether we legislate or not – all these questions of race. It is the intellect of a nation that governs it, and not its voters. The n***** question is settled, and now we may put it aside. We may safely rob the political Othello of his occupation by giving him all he wants before he has the chance to clamor for it. Give the n***** political equality and a vote, or whatever else his pretended friends may require. If the Negro is not fit, the gifts will be useless, and if he is, he will soon have, whether or not, all that we are asked to give. And now, that the great question is thus really done with, all the men who lived upon it North and South . . . may take their tickets and sail up Salt river.” ~ New York Herald.

New York Herald, circa 1895

New York Herald, circa 1895

March 1– Wednesday– Trenton, New Jersey– The state legislature rejects the Thirteenth Amendment.

March 1– Wednesday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Captain Thomas H. Norton, 15th U.S. Infantry, of this city, arrived yesterday from Look Out Mountain, where he was through Sherman’s campaign as far as Atlanta. He is now sent north on recruiting service, and is ordered to report at the headquarters of his regiment at Newport, Rhode Island.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

March 1– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Judge J. T. Hale called on me to say he has had a conversation with the President and had learned from him that I had his confidence and that he intended no change in the Navy Department. He said a great pressure had been made upon him to change. I have no doubt of it, and I have at no time believed he would be controlled by it. At no time have I given the subject serious thought.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

John Yates Beall

John Yates Beall

March 1– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Cloudy, cold, and dismal. We have no news, except from the North, whence we learn Lieutenant Beall, one of our Canada raiders, has been hung; that some little cotton and turpentine were burnt at Wilmington; and that the enemy’s columns are approaching us from all directions. They say the rebellion will be crushed very soon, and really seem to have speedy and accurate information from Richmond not only of all movements of our army, but of the intentions of the government. They say Lynchburg and East Tennessee now occupy the mind of General Lee; and they know every disposition of our forces from day to day sooner than our own people! What imbecile stolidity! Will we thus blunder on to the end?” ~ Diary of John Jones. [John Yates Beall, born in Virginia in 1835, was involved in privateering against Federal ships and a failed effort to release Confederate prisoners from Johnson’s Island, Ohio. He was arrested in December, 1864, in Niagra, New York, for attempting to sabotage a train, and was hung on February 24 in New York City.]

March 1– Wednesday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “The scare about a Rebel attack has subsided, but the general impression is that the Rebels are preparing to leave Petersburg. Well I hope they are, for we have had a hard time trying to persuade them to leave.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

March 1– Wednesday– Madison, Wisconsin– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.


March 1– Wednesday– Nashville, Tennessee– “My brother Jim come out here about ten days ago to get a cotton farm. There is a large amount of Coal Oil region in Tennessee. I put Jim [onto it], after getting all he could lease. He has already. . . with a few others leased a large amount of valuable lands which will be immensely valuable some day and he is going ahead and will probably have the most valuable oil possessions in the U. S. I am a secret partner with him but keep this a secret as it was not allowed of army officers.” ~ Letter from Union General Robert Milroy to his wife Mary Jane.

March 1– Wednesday– Macon, Georgia– “The regiment of Troup county militia, were at the request of General Johnston, placed at the bridge at West Point, where they have remained under the command of a Confederate officer, to whom they report. Major Glenn’s squadron of mounted militia, were ordered out, and have been on duty at Atlanta. Several other organizations of militia, in the Cherokee country, were called out in the rear of the enemy, at the request of General Hood, in August. Since the enemy left Atlanta, they have been ordered to report to General Cobb, and are now reporting to that gallant officer, Brigadier General William T. Wofford. All these organizations are for the time under the command of Confederate Generals, and are expected to be paid by the Confederate Government. I regret however to learn that they do not receive their pay.” ~ Message from Georgia Governor Joseph Brown to the state legislature.

March 1– Wednesday– Albany, Georgia– “The weather has been so bad that we are thrown upon our own resources for amusement. Metta and Mecca play cards and backgammon most of the time, and Albert Bacon comes almost every day on some pretense or other. One very dark night when he was here, we told ghost stories till we frightened ourselves half to death, and had to beg him to stay all night to keep the bogies off. Mett and I take long tramps in the afternoons through mist and mud, but Mec does not like to walk. The lime sink is particularly attractive just now. The little stream that feeds it is swollen by the rains, and dashes along with a great noise. It is so full of little fish that one can catch them in the hand, and the swans go there to feed on them. The whole wood is fragrant with yellow jessamines and carpeted with flowers. Another letter from home that makes me more eager than ever to return. General Elzey and staff are at our house, and the town is full of people that I want to see.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

March 1– Wednesday– Mt Crawford, Virginia; Wilson’s Store, South Carolina; Philadelphia, Tennessee– Skirmishes and firefights.

Anna Pavlovna, Queen Consort of the Netherlands, at the time of her marriage

Anna Pavlovna, Queen Consort of the Netherlands, at the time of her marriage

March 1– Wednesday– The Hague, Netherlands– Anna Pavlovna, Russian-born Queen Consort of King William II, dies at 70 years of age. She bore her husband five children.

March 1– Wednesday– Fukuoka, Japan– Birth of Abe Isoo, politician, Christian socialist, pacifist, feminist, educator. [Dies February 10, 1949.]

Abe Isoo

Abe Isoo

March 2– Thursday– New York City– “Trinity Chapel well filled this morning for the Russian service. Part of the chapel was reserved for Russians, Greeks, and Orientals, of whom there were fifty or sixty. . . . [a friend] says this is the first time the Liturgy of St Chrysostom has been heard in a Western church . . . since the great schism between Eastern and Western Christendom. If so, this was a very remarkable transaction. . . . Even the Unitarians are to hold a council here next month to consider whether they do not believe something after all.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

March 2– Thursday– New York City– “The news which we publish this morning of the movements and operations of General Sherman’s army in South Carolina and Georgia is of the highest interest and importance. Upon unfortunate South Carolina the penalties of this rebellion are falling with a heavy hand. To the ruins, the destitution and desolations of her once wealthy and flourishing seaport of Charleston are now added the field of ashes and broken walls which mark the spot where once stood her State capital, the beautiful little city of Columbia. This visitation the inhabitants of that unfortunate place brought upon themselves by their intolerable treachery of firing from their houses upon the quietly retiring troops of General Sherman, killing and wounding a considerable number. We may deplore the sufferings thus entailed upon the women and children and other helpless citizens involved in this calamity of the burning of Columbia; but such, when criminally provoked, are the stern lessons of dreadful war. Sherman, where the people of a captured city receive him in good faith, as at Savannah, is their protector and benefactor; but where they deal treacherously with him, as at Columbia, in the stealthy assassination of his retiring soldiers, his mode of punishment is swift and terrible. We may say, too, that if any of the reckless and implacable Carolina chivalry deliberately contrived this thing for the purpose of the Southern heart again with an outcry against Yankee vandalism they will make nothing by this desperate experiment. It is because this war to them is destruction that the Southern people, under the despotism of Davis, are now in their agony crying for peace.” ~ New York Herald.


March 2– Thursday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Captain [John Yates] Beall, the rebel pirate and spy, who was executed at Governor’s Island, New York, the other day, was born in Jefferson county, in this state, and received a complete classical education at the Charlotteville University. His family were very wealthy, their property being valued at a million and a half of dollars. At the time of the famous John Brown raid, Beall lived about five miles from Harper’s Ferry, and continued to reside there until the outbreak of the rebellion. He was one of the first to espouse the rebel cause in his neighborhood, and was early known as one of the most determined and implacable advocates of secession. As a reward for his captain in the 2nd Virginia Infantry, and served under the celebrated Stonewall Jackson. He as engaged in a number of prominent battles fought in Virginia, and was finally transferred to the rebel navy, receiving a commission as acting master’s mate. In this capacity, he went to Canada for the avowed purpose of fitting out a piratical expedition on Lake Erie, the result of which our readers are already familiar with. Beall was a man of medium height, with blue eyes, light colored hair and moustache, of pleasing countenance, and about thirty years of age.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

March 2– Thursday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “A bill to prohibit Rebels and disloyal citizens from holding any office, either civil or military, in this State. Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia: 1. That no person who has heretofore voluntarily borne arms, or who may hereafter voluntarily bear arms or engage in armed hostility against the Government of the United States, or of the State of West Virginia, or give aid or assistance to the so-called Southern Confederacy, shall be eligible to any office, either civil or military, within this State. 2. No person who voted for the Ordinance of Secession in the year 1861, and then went into the service of the United States and has been or may be honorably discharged, shall be embraced in this act if he has volunteered prior to the passage of this act. 3. Any person who may hold or attempt to hold any office within this State contrary to this act, on being duly convicted thereof shall be fined, in the circuit court of his county, 4. When any such fines shall be imposed, the cost shall first be paid out of the same and the remainder go into the free school fund of the county in which such fine is imposed. 5. Any person now holding office who may have been guilty of any crime named in this act, shall be dismissed from the same by the governor’s order, and his office supplied by a new election, at the earliest time possible, according to law.” ~ Proposed legislation being debated in the House of Delegates.


March 2– Thursday– Waynesborough, Virginia– In the last major battle in the Shenandoah Valley, Federal troops quickly defeat and scatter the remainder of the Confederate force under General Jubal Early. Total casualties– killed, wounded, missing– for the Union are 9 and over 1500 for the Confederacy.

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