The Army Is Liable to Move ~ March 1865 ~ 5th to 6th

The Army Is Liable to Move

federal supply train-D03GT1HG

Festivities abound in Washington. Federal troops sense operations are about to begin. The anti-Lincoln New York Herald mocks the President’s speech. In Richmond, plans to move men and machinery are set in motion and President Davis calls for another day of prayer and fasting. Food is in short supply and prices are sky high in many parts of the South.


March 5– Sunday– New York City– “The brief address delivered yesterday by President Lincoln, on the occasion of his second inauguration, gives us a passing review of his four years just expired, but furnished no information as to his future policy. . . . We had expected from this inaugural a different treatment of the slavery question; that Mr. Lincoln would deal with the institution as a thing already beyond the power of further mischief, and that, therefore, with the submission of the rebellious States, the remnants of slavery still existing within their borders could be safely left to the constitutional amendment before the States for the total abolition of slavery throughout the length and breadth of the land. It would be a natural inference, from the absence of even a passing remark upon this amendment, that Mr. Lincoln classes it with his emancipation proclamation, as nothing better than [a] Papal bull against the comet, and that only the sword can effect the abolition of slavery after all. But we are inclined to receive this inaugural simply as the necessary speech which the occasion demanded – a little speech of generalities, put in to fill up the program, and as nothing more. We grant that it is not quite up to the mark of the last imperial speech of Louis Napoleon; but it has answered its purpose. Mr. Lincoln has told us heretofore that he waits upon events, and is guided by them, and this being the case, his discourse of yesterday was only an effort at best to avoid any commitment upon any question affecting our domestic or foreign affairs, excepting the abolition of slavery.” ~ New York Herald.

March 5– Sunday– Richmond, Virginia– “Bright and cool; some frost this morning. I saw an officer yesterday from Early’s command. He said the enemy entered Charlottesville on Friday at half-past two o’clock P.M., between 2000 and 3000 strong, cavalry, and had made no advance at the latest accounts. . . . I have not heard of any destruction of property by the enemy. I learn . . . that the machinery of the workshops here is being moved to Danville, Salisbury, and other places in North Carolina. . . . [It is recommended] that transportation be given the families of the operatives [factory workers]; and that houses be built for them, with permission to buy subsistence at government prices, for twelve months, that the mechanics may be contented and kept from deserting. This would rid the city of some thousands of its population, and be some measure of relief to those that remain. But how long will we be allowed to remain? All depends upon the operations in the field during the next few weeks– and these may depend upon the wisdom of those in possession of the government, which is now at a discount.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

March 5– Sunday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “Although the day is Sunday, yet the payment of the troops went on. It is not customary to pay [on] Sundays as a rule, but the excuse today was that the Army is liable to move, which is true.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

Elisha Hunt Rhodes

Elisha Hunt Rhodes

March 5– Sunday– Gopher Hill, Georgia– “One of the loveliest days I ever saw. We went to a little Methodist church in Starkesville, for the pleasure of the drive. After dinner we walked to the Bubbling Spring, and killed a big snake on the way. The spring is down in a gully, and is simply the mouth of a small underground stream that comes to the surface there. It throws up a kind of black sand that rises on the water like smoke from the stack of a steam engine. The water under ground makes strange sounds, like voices wailing and groaning. Just below the spring is a little natural bridge, the most romantic spot I have seen in the neighborhood. The rocks that border the stream are covered with ferns and brilliant green mosses and liverworts. Palmettoes and bright flowering plants grow in the crevices, and the whole place is shaded by magnolias, willow oaks and myrtles, bound together by gigantic smilax and jessamine vines. At several places there are openings in the ground through which one can peep and see rapid water flowing under our feet.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

March 6– Monday– New York City– “Mud appears to remain to a considerable extent master of the situation before Richmond The rain, up to Saturday last, had been so heavy and continuous for some days as to turn all the roads into sloughs, and put a stop to any very important movements on either side. The rebel papers think there is no doubt that General Grant will commence heavy operations on his left so soon as the condition of the roads will permit, and they consequently are still anticipating a great battle in that vicinity. The Union forces along James river are nightly watching for Semmes and his rebel fleet to attempt another raid. The rebels each night keep up a heavy fire on the right of the Army of the James, with the object of preventing their men from deserting; but it does not accomplish its design, as they continue to arrive within the Union lines in large numbers. A very gallant little feat was performed in North Carolina lately by a portion of the Twelfth New York cavalry and one company of the First North Carolina mounted infantry. They surprised and captured one entire company of rebel soldiers near Greenville, and then dashed into the town, where they destroyed a large quantity of commissary stores and captured other prisoners.” ~ New York Herald.

March 6– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “The weather continues to be fine. Thousands have left the city, which is still crowded. The inauguration ball of this evening is a great attraction, particularly to the young. Seward has sent to me a request to attend, and Dennison desires it. I have no desire to go, but my family have, as well as my associates. Current business at Department has accumulated, and the day has been one of unceasing application. Did not leave Department until after five o’clock.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

women's fashions ~ March 1865

women’s fashions ~ March 1865

March 6– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– “A bright frosty morning. This day I am fifty-five years of age. It is now reported that General Early made his escape, and that most of his men have straggled into this city. . . . The President and his wife were at church yesterday; so they have not left the city; but General Lee’s family, it is rumored, are packing up to leave. I bought a quarter of a cord of oak wood this morning to mix with the green pine, and paid $55 for it. General Early’s cavalry, being mostly men of property, were two-thirds of them on furlough or detail, when the enemy advanced on Charlottesville; and the infantry, being poor, with no means either to bribe the authorities, to fee members of Congress, or to aid their suffering families, declined to fight in defense of the property of their rich and absent neighbors! We lost four guns [canon] beyond Charlottesville, and our forces were completely routed. . . . They are bringing boxes to the War Office, to pack up the archives. This certainly indicates a sudden removal in an emergency. It is not understood whether they go to Danville or to Lynchburg; that may depend upon Grant’s movements. It may, however, be Lee’s purpose to attack Grant; meantime preparing to fall back in the event of losing the day.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

General Grant

General Grant

March 6– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– The Richmond Times Dispatch prints a proclamation from Confederate President Jeff Davis, appointing Friday, March 10 as a day of “public fasting, humiliation and prayer.”

March 6– Monday– outside of Petersburg, Virginia– “We have received no mail for several days and do not like it. A soldier can do without hard bread but not without his letters from home. All quiet in our lives.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

federal canon

March 6– Monday– Petersburg, Virginia– “You will see by the caption of this letter that we’ve again been moving. We now occupy the lines recently occupied by Pickett’s Division. We only hope to remain here. We are tired of running about on the right of our lines. Here although the lines are near enough each other, to see the men on the works from one line to the other, there is not much probability of an engagement. We may have severe artillery duels; but then we have very good protection. So after all this is much the more preferable position. I think tho will leave here soon. Once more I’ve heard from home. This is the first time since I left. The cause of the delay having been so great was the gentleman who brought the letters was stopped in Augusta; he went back home and came round through the country, he was about 20 days on the road.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee Maggie Cone.

March 6– Monday– Lincolnton, North Carolina– “To-day came a godsend. Even a small piece of bread and the molasses had become things of the past. My larder was empty, when a tall mulatto woman brought a tray covered by a huge white serviette. Ellen [slave maid] ushered her in with a flourish, saying, ‘Mrs. Mc Danier’s maid.’ The maid set down the tray upon my bare table, and uncovered it with conscious pride. There were fowls ready for roasting, sausages, butter, bread, eggs, and preserves. I was dumb with delight. After silent thanks to heaven my powers of speech returned, and I exhausted my self in messages of gratitude to Mrs. Mc Daniel.” ~ Diary of Mary Chesnut.

March 6– Monday– Macon, Georgia– “Whereas, in many sections of this State, persons have been prevented from giving in their taxes for the year 1864, by reason of the public enemy overrunning or threatening such sections of the State or by reason of such persons having been driven from their homes by the proximity of the enemy. Therefore be it, Resolved by the General Assembly, That in all cases where persons have been prevented from giving in their taxes for the year 1864, by reason of the public enemy overrunning or threatening the sections of country where such persons reside or where such persons have been driven from their homes by reason of the proximity of the public enemy, it shall be lawful for all persons so situated to give in their taxes for the year 1864, within the same time that shall be allowed for the giving in a return of the taxes for the present year 1865, and in all cases where such persons have had property lost or destroyed by the public enemy or by any casualty of the war since the first of April, 1864, such persons shall not be bound to give in such lost or destroyed property, and the act entitled an act to exempt certain lands from taxation, assented to November 30th, 1863, shall apply to all persons who have been driven from their homes by the public enemy during the year 1864.” ~ action by the Georgia state legislature.

plantation slaves

plantation slaves

March 6– Monday– Gopher Hill, Georgia– “After breakfast, we all piled into a big plantation wagon and went to see Prairie Pond, a great sheet of water covering over 200 acres. It has formed there since Colonel Maxwell bought the Gopher Hill plantation. He says that when he first came here there was not a patch of standing water as big as his hand on all the acres now covered by Prairie Pond, and the great skeletons of dead forest trees still standing in the outer edges of the lake show that the encroachment of the water is still going on. . . . We had to leave our wagon several hundred yards from the border of the pond and make our explorations on foot, for want of a wagon road. In returning we took the wrong direction and went a mile or two out of our way, getting very wet feet, and I tore my dress so that I looked like a ragamuffin into the bargain. When at last we reached home, the servants [slaves] told us that Mr. and Mrs. Warren, with General Graves, Mr. Baldwin, and Clint Spenser and Joe Godfrey from Albany, had come over to dinner, and not finding anybody at home, had set out in search of us. We girls scurried to our rooms and had just made ourselves respectable when Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Spenser, having tired of their wild-goose chase, came back to the house. Mecca and I got into the double buggy with them and started out to hunt up the rest of the party. After dinner, we went to Coney Lake again.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

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