Extreme Peril At This Moment ~ March 1865 ~ 26th to 28th

Extreme Peril at this Moment

petersburg siege images

Civilians and soldiers alike express great concern for the Confederacy. President Lincoln orders a special salute as the Stars and Stripes once again flies over Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor. He meets with his two best generals to plan a quick conclusion to the war. George Templeton Strong mocks England for “playing nice” now that it appears the Union shall prevail.

March 26– Sunday– City Point, Virginia– In a public display of temper, Mary Lincoln, who has accompanied her husband on the trip, loudly criticizes her husband for his courtesy to Julia Grant, wife of General Ulysses Grant, and to Mary Ord, wife of General Edward Ord. [John Hay and John Nicolay, President Lincoln’s secretaries, consistently refer privately to Mary Lincoln as “the Hellcat.”]

Mary Todd Lincoln

Mary Todd Lincoln

March 26– Sunday– Goldsborough, North Carolina– “I have the honor to submit a brief report of the operations of the medical department . . . during the campaign commencing with the departure of the army from Pocotaligo and ending in the occupation of the town of Goldsborough. It was not without anxiety that I looked forward to the development of this campaign. The season of the year, the character of the country, and the personal hostility of the citizens all rendered it extremely probable that sickness and large losses would test to the utmost the resources of the medical department of the army. The result of the campaign and the comparatively small loss of life from disease or the efforts of the enemy is a source of gratification. The army left Pocotaligo unencumbered with sick or wounded, all such cases being left in the U.S. general hospitals at Savannah and Beaufort. Full supplies were drawn and were replenished at Columbia, S.C. Notwithstanding the bad weather, bad roads, and the necessary exposure of the campaign, the ratio per 1,000 of men unfit for duty during the campaign has been but 49.26. At no time have we been seriously pressed for accommodation for our sick and wounded. After the affair at Rivers’ Bridge, S. C., we were enabled to send to the rear many of the sick and wounded on hand, and again at Fayetteville, N. C., 150 were sent by transports to Wilmington, N. C. The country has furnished a large abundance of nutritious food, and the appearance of the men does not indicate suffering on that account. The hardships of the march have wearied them, and a period of rest is imperatively needed. The heaviest engagement of the campaign fortunately occurred so near the termination of the march as to give us no inconvenience in the removal of the wounded. Our loss in wounded on that occasion was 263. Provision has been made for the sick and wounded in this town until such time as they can be safely removed to general hospitals. . . . It is unnecessary for me to say more for the medical staff of the army than that all duties pertaining to it have been discharged with the usual promptitude, cheerfulness, and fidelity.” ~ Report from Union Dr. D. L. Huntington, Acting Medical Director, to General William Tecumseh Sherman.

field hospital

field hospital

March 26– Sunday– along the Atlantic coast, heading to City Point, Virginia–”The railroad was finished yesterday into Goldsboro and I came down to Newbern and Morehead City and am now in a fleet blockade runner on my way to meet General Grant at City Point to confer on some points, when I shall forthwith go back to Goldsboro and get ready for another campaign. There is no doubt we have got the Rebels in a tight place and must not let them have time to make new plans. They abandoned all their cities to get men enough to whip me but did not succeed. They may unite Johnston and Lee, when if they make the further mistake of holding on to Richmond, I can easily take Raleigh and the Roanoke, when Richmond will be of little use to them. If Lee lets go of Richmond the people of Virginia will give up.” ~ Letter from Union General William Tecumseh Sherman to his wife Ellen.

March 27– Monday– New York City– “Poor, mean, shabby, fallen, old England restores us the tribute of her shop-keeper’s civility and compliments the moment she discerns that we may win our unpromising lawsuit after al.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

George Templeton Strong

George Templeton Strong

March 27– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Ordered, first. That at the hour of noon on the 14th day of April, 1865, General Anderson will raise and plant upon the ruins of Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, the same United States flag which floated over the battlements of that fort during the rebel assault, and which was lowered and saluted by him and the small force of his command when the works were evacuated on the 14th day of April, 1861. Second. That the flag, when raised, be saluted by one hundred guns from Fort Sumter and by a national salute from every fort and rebel battery that fired upon Fort Sumter. Third. That suitable ceremonies be had upon the occasion, under the direction of General William T. Sherman, whose military operations compelled the rebels to evacuate Charleston, or, in his absence, under the charge of General Q. A. Gillmore, commanding the department. Among the ceremonies will be the delivery of a public address by the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher. Fourth. That the naval forces at Charleston and their commander on that station be invited to participate in the ceremonies of the occasion.” ~ Executive order from President Lincoln.

March 27– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– “About 10 or twelve days ago I was taken quite sick with severe cold and fever, and one of the hardest chills on 19th instant I ever had in my life. On 20th our Regiment received marching orders and the Surgeon sent me here. I had no more chills and am nearly well now. I shall return to my Regiment tomorrow. I do not know where they are but suppose they are not far from Petersburg. The war news is highly encouraging, and our troops are in the best of spirits. Johnson has checked Sherman in his wild career, twice, and Lee captured a few days ago a considerable portion of the Yankee works in front of Petersburg with a large number of prisoners. The Negro troops have been called out. I have seen two companies. I hope it will work well. I will close up. Tell Henry [his son] I have his cup yet, and that I want to see him mighty bad. May God bless you all. Pray for me.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

a salute to fallen comrades

a salute to fallen comrades

March 27– Monday– Headquarters, Army of Northern Virginia, Virginia– “I deeply regret to announce the death of Another beloved Brother [Barrington Simeral King] in this cruel war. I enclose you the telegram. It has been some time in reaching me in Consequence of the [telegraph] wires being down. I wrote Bessie [Barrington’s widow] immediately on Seeing the two reports both official, one reporting that he was Killed. & the other wounded hoping that the latter would prove the correct news in the end, but alas, it is not so. & the Sad and Severe stroke has fallen upon us again. I write you to get you to See poor Bessy and break the Sad, Sad, news to her. I have felt for her much in her anxiety and suspense, but more, far more, in her sad bereavement. May our Heavenly Father support her in this dark hour.” ~ Letter from one of the King brothers to his uncle in Roswell, Georgia.

March 27– Monday– City Point, Virginia– President Lincoln meets with General Grant, General Sherman and Admiral Porter aboard the River Queen.

the River Queen

the River Queen

March 27– Monday– Albany, Georgia– “Went to call on the Callaways, Mallarys, and Dahlgrens. The general and his wife were just starting out to make calls when we drove up, so we went along together. The roads are so perfectly abominable that it is no pleasure to go anywhere. At one place the water was half a foot deep in the bottom of the carriage, and we had to ride with our feet cocked up on the seats to keep them dry. Some of the ponds were so deep as almost to swim the mules, and others were boggy. We stopped at the post office on our way home and found a letter from Mec urging us to come over to Cuthbert right away.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

March 28– Tuesday– Headquarters First Army Corps, Virginia– “Your telegram asking if we can spare General Pickett’s division as a supporting force to our cavalry is received. I suggested that it should be sent on that service because I was apprehensive that our railroad would be in danger of being broken up behind us, leaving us without supplies sufficient to hold Richmond until our communications south could be re-established, or in case Sheridan went to North Carolina, his mounted force would be too formidable for that of General Johnston’s, and that General Johnston would be in great danger if we shall not reinforce him. I do not think that we can well spare the division. But I think that we would choose a lesser risk by sparing it in case Sheridan’s cavalry makes either of these moves contemplated than we would by holding him here to await the result of these operations. The enemy seems now to count upon taking Richmond by raiding upon our lines of communication, and not by attacking our lines of work. I think, therefore, we should endeavor to put a force in the field that can contend against that of the enemy. If Grant sends off his cavalry, he can hardly intend to make any general move of his main army until its return. In every aspect of affairs, so far as I am advised, I think that the greater danger is from keeping too close within our trenches. If we can remain where we are independently of the railroad, and if General Johnston would be safe with such a force as Sheridan’s operating against him, in addition to Sherman’s, we had better keep the division here. You know much more about all those points than I do, and are much better able to decide upon them. My supply train is in from Northern Neck, and starts back to-morrow for other provisions. If there is any impropriety in sending it back, please telegraph me as soon as you receive this, that I may recall it. We have about one hundred thousand pounds of meat near Dublin and eighteen thousand at New Boston. The C. S. complains that the railroad agents will not ship the meat unless it is boxed. This cannot always be done. If you can in any way aid us in this matter, we shall do very well for some time to come.” ~ Message from Confederate General James Longstreet to General Robert E Lee.

March 28– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Cloudy and sunshine; but little wind. Too ill to go to the department, and I get nothing new except what I read in the papers. Some of the editorials are very equivocal, and have a squint toward reconstruction. The President, and one of his Aids, Colonel Lubbock, ex-Governor of Texas, rode by my house, going toward Camp Lee. If driven from this side the Mississippi, no doubt the President would retire into Texas. And Lee must gain a victory soon, or his communications will be likely to be interrupted. Richmond and Virginia are probably in extreme peril at this moment.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

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