Tag Archives: black soldiers

June ~ Election Year 1864

Woman making American Flag

The Republican Party splits and a rival faction supports John C Fremont for president while the mainline Republicans nominate Lincoln for re-election and approves a platform which the President likes, including a proposal for a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery. Within Lincoln’s cabinet, his Secretary of the Navy comments on the President’s gentle attitude toward the Confederate leaders and the Treasury Secretary resigns. War news from Virginia and from Georgia is not particularly encouraging but at sea the Union Navy wins a major victory. Black soldiers prove their worth while a racist Confederate general denies the atrocity at Fort Pillow.

June 1– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “We have to-day the results of a meeting of strange odds and ends of parties, and factions, and disappointed and aspiring individuals at Cleveland. Fremont is nominated as their candidate for President and John Cochrane for Vice-President. The gathering had the nomination of Fremont in view, though other objects were professed. . . . This war is extraordinary in all its aspects and phases, and no man was prepared to meet them. It is much easier for the censorious and factious to complain than to do right. I have often thought that greater severity might well be exercised, and yet it would tend to barbarism. No traitor has been hung. I doubt if there will be, but an example should be made of some of the leaders, for present and for future good. They may, if taken, be imprisoned or driven into exile, but neither would be lasting. Parties would form for their relief, and ultimately succeed in restoring the worst of them to their homes and the privileges they originally enjoyed. Death is the proper penalty and atonement, and will be enduringly beneficent in its influence. There was, moreover, an aristocratic purpose in this Rebellion. An aristocracy of blood and wealth was to have been established. Consequently a contrary effect would work benignantly. Were a few of the leaders to be stripped of their possessions, and their property confiscated, their families impoverished, the result would be salutary in the future. But I apprehend there will be very gentle measures in closing up the Rebellion. The authors of the enormous evils that have been inflicted will go unpunished, or will be but slightly punished.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

June 1– Wednesday– Atlanta, Georgia– “A little nearer each day, and each day the cannons are heard more distinctly. Sherman flanks and fortifies, and Johnston falls back. . . . But a short distance from my house the militia are stationed. They are composed mostly of men past the conscript age, who had a right to expect exemption from camp life. Many of them, too, have opposed this war from the beginning and have passed through the fires of treason unscathed in soul.” ~ Diary of Cyrena Stone, a Union sympathizer.


General Sherman


June 2– Thursday– Washington, D. C.– “There is intense anxiety in relation to the Army of the Potomac. Great confidence is felt in Grant, but the immense slaughter of our brave men chills and sickens us all. The hospitals are crowded with the thousands of mutilated and dying heroes who have poured out their blood for the Union cause. Lee has returned to the vicinity of Richmond, overpowered by numbers, beaten but hardly defeated.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

June 3– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “Mother, . . . . I do not feel as first rate as usual. . . . I believe I am homesick, something new for me, then I have seen all the horrors of soldier’s life & not been kept up by its excitement– it is awful to see so much, & not be able to relieve it.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa.

June 3– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “For several days the delegates to the National Convention have been coming in. Had a call from several. Met a number at the President’s. All favor the President. There is a spirit of discontent among the Members of Congress, stirred up, I think, by the Treasury Department. Chase has his flings and insinuations against the President’s policy, or want of policy. Nothing suits him.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

June 4– Saturday– New York City– “The moderate tone of all his [Grant’s] despatches is a most favorable sign. It indicates that he is a man of business and work, that he knows the worth of facts and of results accomplished, and the importance of results not yet attained, and that he cares little for talk or telling bulletins. I begin to rate Grant very high.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.


General Grant


June 4– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “There has been continued fighting, though represented as not very important. Still there is heavy loss, but we are becoming accustomed to the sacrifice. Grant has not great regard for human life.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

June 7– Tuesday– Baltimore, Maryland– The Republican Party adopts a campaign platform which includes resolutions “to do everything in our power to aid the Government in quelling by force of arms the Rebellion now raging against its authority, and in bringing to the punishment due to their crimes the Rebels and traitors arrayed against it . . . . That as slavery was the cause, and now constitutes the strength of this Rebellion, and as it must be, always and everywhere, hostile to the principles of Republican Government, justice and the National safety demand its utter and complete extirpation from the soil of the Republic; and that, while we uphold and maintain the acts and proclamations by which the Government, in its own defense, has aimed a deathblow at this gigantic evil, we are in favor, furthermore, of such an amendment to the Constitution, to be made by the people in conformity with its provisions, as shall terminate and forever prohibit the existence of Slavery”; benefits for disabled veterans and provision for widows and orphans of deceased soldiers; “that the Government owes to all men employed in its armies, without regard to distinction of color, the full protection of the laws of war—and that any violation of these laws, or of the usages of civilized nations in time of war, by the Rebels now in arms, should be made the subject of prompt and full redress;” to encourage immigration; to encourage speedy construction of a railroad to the Pacific coast and to do all necessary to discourage European efforts to re-establish monarchy in the Americas, a provision aimed at French intervention in Mexico.

June 8– Wednesday– Baltimore, Maryland–In its convention, the Republican Party, on the fourth ballot, nominates President Lincoln for president and Andrew Johnson of Tennessee for vice-president.

June 9– Thursday– Washington, D. C.– “I will neither conceal my gratification nor restrain the expression of my gratitude that the Union people, through their convention, in their continued effort to save and advance the nation, have deemed me not unworthy to remain in my present position.” ~ President Lincoln’s reply to the committee recommending nomination.


President Lincoln


June 10– Friday– Cold Harbor, Virginia– “May God forgive the men who brought about this war. I fear I shall yet hate them.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

June 10– Friday– Atlanta, Georgia– “Fast day again! Stores are closed and all business suspended. . . . From over the hills, the cannons boom, boom, and in the skies above there are mighty thunderings, the rumblings of God’s chariot wheels.”~ Diary of Cyrena Stone, who is a Union sympathizer.

June 11– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– “We have heard to-day that Lincoln was nominated for re-election at Baltimore on the 7th instant . . . . Fremont is now pledged to run also, thus dividing the Republican party, and giving an opportunity for the Democrats to elect a President. If we can only subsist till then, we may have peace, and must have independence at all events.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

June 11– Saturday– Cherbourg, France–The Confederate warship Alabama arrives for refitting. The U S vice-counsel protests to the French government for allowing the ship to enter the harbor and sends notice to the U S warship Kearsage in an English port.

June 13– Monday– New York City– “Among the most gratifying developments of the Baltimore Convention was the unanimity exhibited in favor of a Constitutional amendment making a universal and perpetual end of Slavery. . . . The rebellion sprang so directly from Slavery, and was so closely connected with Slavery in all of its objects and policies, that it was not possible to make war against the rebellion with a whole heart, and yet remain well affected toward Slavery.” ~ New York Times.

June 14– Tuesday– Off the coast of Cherbourg, France– The U.S.S. Kearsarge arrives and prepares to engage C. S. S. Alabama as soon as the rebels leave the port and enter international waters.

June 15–Wednesday– Petersburg, Virginia–Black Union soldiers, attacking under heavy fire, overwhelm a Confederate position called Fort Walker, a Confederate artillery position of nine canon with infantry support. During the attack, the Confederates yell taunts at the black soldiers. When the Union force takes the position, they shoot all the Confederates, even those attempting to surrender. The Union men yell “Remember Fort Pillow!” Over 200 Confederate soldiers die.


African American Union soldiers


June 16– Thursday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– “War at the best is terrible, and this of ours in its magnitude and duration is one of the most terrible the world has ever known. . . . It has caused mourning among us until the heavens may almost be said to be hung in black. And yet it continues. . . . When is this war to end? I do not wish to name the day when it will end, lest the end should not come at the given time. We accepted this war, and did not begin it. We accepted it for an object, and when that object is accomplished the war will end, and I hope to God that it will never end until that object is accomplished. We are going through with our task, so far as I am concerned, if it takes us three years longer.” ~ Speech by President Lincoln at the Philadelphia Sanitary Fair.

June 17– Friday– Memphis, Tennessee– “From statements that have been made to me by colored soldiers who were eye-witnesses, it would seem that the massacre of Fort Pillow had been reproduced at the late affair at Brice’s Cross-Roads. . . . If true and not disavowed they must lead to consequences hereafter fearful to contemplate. . . . If it is contemplated by the Confederate Government to murder all colored troops that may by the chance of war fall into their hands, as was the case at Fort Pillow, it is but fair that it should be freely and frankly avowed. Within the last six weeks I have on two occasions sent colored troops into the field from this point. In the expectation that the Confederate Government would disavow the action of the commanding general at the Fort Pillow massacre I have forborne to issue any instructions to the colored troops as to the course they should pursue toward Confederate soldiers that might fall into their hands; but seeing no disavowal on the part of the Confederate Government, but on the contrary laudations from the entire Southern press of the perpetrators of the massacre, I may safely presume that indiscriminate slaughter is to be the fate of colored troops that fall into your hands; but I am not willing to leave a matter of such grave import and involving consequences so fearful to inference, and I have therefore thought it proper to address you this, believing that you will be able to indicate the policy that the Confederate Government intends to pursue hereafter on this question. . . . Up to this time no troops have fought more gallantly and none have conducted themselves with greater propriety. They have fully vindicated their right (so long denied) to be treated as men. . . . For the government of the colored troops under my command I would thank you to inform me, with as little delay as possible, if it is your intention or the intention of the Confederate Government to murder colored soldiers that may fall into your hands, or treat them as prisoners of war and subject to be exchanged as other prisoners.” ~ Letter from Union General Cadwaller Colden Washburn to Confederate General Stephen Dill Lee.

June 19– Sunday– near Petersburg, Virginia– “A division of colored soldiers charged . . . but were driven back. They fought well and left many dead on the field. . . . yesterday’s work convinced me that they will fight. So Hurrah for the colored troops.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

June 19– Sunday– Off the coast of Cherbourg, France–During a battle in international waters, the U S. S. Kearsage sinks the C. S. S. Alabama. However, an English yacht, Deerhound, rescues the captain of the Alabama, causing the U S Minister Charles Francis Adams to file a protest with Her Majesty’s Government. A large crowd on the shore watches the hour long battle.

Kearsarge- v Alabama 2

sinking of the C S S Alabama


June 20– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “The President in his intense anxiety has made up his mind to visit General Grant at his headquarters, and left this p.m. at five.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

June 22– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– Walt Whitman, feeling totally exhausted and sick, leaves the city to return to Brooklyn, New York, for some rest and recovery.

June 22– Wednesday– near Petersburg, Virginia– “Yesterday President Lincoln paid us a visit. I did not see him, as I was at the front.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

June 23– Thursday– Tupelo, Mississippi– “I regard your letter [of June 17] as discourteous to the commanding officer of this department, and grossly insulting to myself. You seek by implied threats to intimidate him, and assume the privilege of denouncing me as a murderer and as guilty of the wholesale slaughter of the garrison at Fort Pillow, and found your assertions upon the ex parte testimony of your friends, the enemies of myself and country. I shall not enter into the discussion, therefore, of any of the questions involved nor undertake any refutation of the charges made by you against myself; nevertheless, as a matter of personal privilege alone, I unhesitatingly say that they are unfounded and unwarranted by the facts. But whether these charges are true or false, they, with the question you ask as to whether Negro troops when captured will be recognized and treated as prisoners of war, subject to exchange, &c., are matters which the Government of the United States and Confederate States are to decide and adjust, not their subordinate officers. I regard captured Negroes as I do other captured property and not as captured soldiers, but as to how regarded by my Government and the disposition which has been and will hereafter be made of them, I respectfully refer you through the proper channel to the authorities at Richmond. It is not the policy nor the interest of the South to destroy the Negro– on the contrary, to preserve and protect him– and all who have surrendered to us have received kind and humane treatment.” ~ Letter from Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest to Union General Cadwaller Colden Washburn.


massacre of black soldiers at Fort Pillow


June 24– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “The President was in very good spirits at the Cabinet. His journey has done him good, physically, and strengthened him mentally and inspired confidence in the General and army.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

June 25– Saturday– Brooklyn, New York– “I write just a line to let you know I got home all safe. I do not feel very well yet, but expect to, or begin to, pretty soon. I send my love to you & Nelly & to Charles Eldridge.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his friend William D. O’Connor in Washington, D.C.

June 26– Sunday– Petersburg, Virginia– “How long this kind of war will continue no one knows, but I hope it will stop soon, a great many of our men are becoming sick and broken down. One side or the other will have to stop pretty soon or each army will be very much reduced.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee, Maggie Cone.

June 27– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Your letter of the 14th instant, formally notifying me that I have been nominated by the convention you represent for the Presidency of the United States for four years from the 4th of March next, has been received. The nomination is gratefully accepted, as the resolutions of the convention, called the platform, are heartily approved. . . . I am especially gratified that the soldier and seaman were not forgotten by the convention, as they forever must and will be remembered by the grateful country for whose salvation they devote their lives.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln formally accepting his nomination.


Gideon Welles


June 30– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “All were surprised to-day with the resignation of Secretary Chase and the nomination of Governor David Tod as his successor. I knew nothing of it till the fact was told me by Senator Doolittle, who came to see and advise with me, supposing I knew something of the circumstances. But I was wholly ignorant. . . . It is given out that a disagreement between himself and the President in relation to the appointment of Assistant Treasurer at New York was the cause of his leaving. I think likely that was the occasion of his tendering his resignation, and I have little doubt he was greatly surprised that it was accepted. He may not admit this, but it is none the less true, I apprehend. Yet there were some circumstances to favor his going– there is a financial gulf ahead.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.


May ~ Election Year 1864


Certainly before this time, no American president had faced re-election in the midst of a difficult war, compounded by problems at home and abroad. Union military operations seemed stalled– Grant unable to reach Richmond, Sherman not yet at Atlanta. Casualties keep mounting higher and higher. A bogus proclamation appears in several New York newspapers. Black soldiers had been massacred. Radical Republicans break from the party and nominate their own candidate. A European power is meddling in the affairs of Mexico. Many fear that Lincoln cannot win again.

May 1– Sunday– New York City– “In another column we give copious extracts from our files of English journals, together with translations of notable passages from our French files, to illustrate the popular feeling abroad regarding the progress of events in Mexico. The supercilious, insulting tone in which reference is made to the disability of our Government to interfere at present with the erection of a monarchy upon the ruins of the Mexican Republic might, and perhaps would, excite our indignation, were it not for the ludicrous perplexity in which both the English and French journalists appear to be regarding what has actually been accomplished by Napoleon, and the fears which seem to haunt them unless the would-be Emperor may not after all find his path to the Mexican capital strewn with roses.” ~ New York Times

May 2– Monday– Washington, D.C.– A group of 73 women, most of them the wives of senators, congressmen, judges, clergy or military officers, form a “Ladies National Covenant” and agree to help the war effort by refraining from purchasing European goods. “For the good of our country and the honor of our sex, let us redeem ourselves from this reproach of wanton extravagance.” They agree to encourage women across the country to make the same pledge.

May 2– Monday– St Louis, Missouri– Birth of Alice Bertha Kroeger, first daughter and second child of Adolph and Eliza Curren Kroeger. She will become a librarian, author, lecturerer, advocate for suffrage, organizer and first director of the school of library science at Drexel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. [Dies October 31, 1909]


Gideon Welles


May 3– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “At the Cabinet-meeting the President requested each member to give him an opinion as to what course the Government should pursue in relation to the recent massacre at Fort Pillow. The committee from Congress who have visited the scene returned yesterday and will soon report. All the reported horrors are said to be verified. The President wishes to be prepared to act as soon as the subject is brought to his notice officially, and hence Cabinet advice in advance. The subject is one of great responsibility and great embarrassment, especially before we are in possession of the facts and evidence of the committee. There must be something in these terrible reports, but I distrust Congressional committees. They exaggerate.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

May 5– Thursday– Cochran’s Mills, Pennsylvania– Birth of Elizabeth Jane Cochran, a/k/a Nellie Bly, journalist, author and inventor. [Dies January 27, 1922.]

May 5– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “I have written a letter to the President in relation to the Fort Pillow massacre, but it is not satisfactory to me, nor can I make it so without the evidence of what was done, nor am I certain that even then I could come to a conclusion on so grave and important a question. The idea of retaliation,– killing man for man,– which is the popular noisy demand, is barbarous, and I cannot assent to or advise it. . . . The whole subject is beset with difficulties. I cannot yield to any inhuman scheme of retaliation. Must wait the publication of the testimony.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

May 6– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “Between Mr. Bates and Mr. Blair a suggestion came out that met my views better than anything that had previously been offered. It is that the President should by proclamation declare the officers who had command at the massacre outlaws, and require any of our officers who may capture them, to detain them in custody and not exchange them, but hold them to punishment. . . . I expressed myself favorable to this new suggestion, which relieved the subject of much of the difficulty. It avoids communication with the Rebel authorities. Takes the matter in our own hands. We get rid of the barbarity of retaliation. Stanton fell in with my suggestion, so far as to propose that, should Forrest, or Chalmers, or any officer conspicuous in this butchery be captured, he should be turned over for trial for the murders at Fort Pillow. I sat beside Chase and mentioned to him some of the advantages of this course, and he said it made a favorable impression. I urged him to say so, for it appeared to me that the President and Seward did not appreciate it. We get no tidings from the front. There is an impression that we are on the eve of a great battle and that it may already have commenced.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

May 7– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “Some fragmentary intelligence comes to us of a conflict of the two great armies. A two days’ fight is said to have taken place. The President came into my room about 1 p.m., and told me he had slept none last night. He lay down for a short time on the sofa in my room and detailed all the news he had gathered.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.


May 9– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “To the Friends of the Union and Liberty: Enough is known of the army operations within the last five days to claim our especial gratitude to God, while what remains undone demands our most sincere prayers to and reliance upon Him, without whom all human efforts are in vain. I recommend that all patriots, at their homes, in their places of public worship, and wherever they may be, unite in common thanksgiving and prayer to Almighty God.” ~ Proclamation by President Lincoln.

May 13– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “The army news is interesting and as well received as the great loss of life will permit. Hancock has made a successful onset and captured Edward Johnson and two other generals, with about fifty other officers and four thousand prisoners, thirty pieces of cannon, etc. General Sheridan, with his cavalry, has got in rear of Lee and destroyed about ten miles of railroad, captured two trains, and destroyed the depot of Rebel supplies at Beaver Dam. Our troops are in good heart and everything looks auspicious for the republic. Many valuable lives have been offered up for the Union, and many a Rebel has fallen.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

May 13– Friday– Morris Island, South Carolina– “We have been fighting as brave as ever there was any soldiers fought. I know if every regiment that are out and have been out would have done as well as we have the war would be over. I do really think that it’s God’s will that this war Shall not end till the Colored people get their rights. It goes very hard for the White people to think of it But by God’s will and power they will have their rights. Us that are living now may not live to see it. I shall die a trying for our rights so that other that are born hereafter may live and enjoy a happy life.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Jacob Christy, a black man, to his sister Mary Jane Demus.


May 16– Monday– near Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia– “We have had the best of the fighting so far and its my opinion that General Grant has got Lee in a pretty tight spot. We had a severe fight here on the 12th and the loss was heavy on both sides . . . . The Army is in first rate spirits and everyone seems confident and hopeful.”~ Letter from Union soldier George Whitman to his mother Louisa.

May 18– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Mr. Seward informed me that a forged proclamation had been published by sundry papers in New York, among others by the World and Journal of Commerce, imposing a fast on account of the failures of Grant and calling for a draft of 300,000 men. Seward said he at once sent on contradicting it . . . . He then had called on Stanton to know whether such a document had passed over the regular telegraph. Stanton said there had not. . . . Seward then asked if the World and Journal of Commerce had been shut up. Stanton said he knew of their course only a minute before. Seward said the papers had been published a minute too long; and Stanton said if he and the President directed, they should be suspended. Seward thought there should be no delay. Gold, under the excitement, has gone up ten per cent . . . . It seems to have been a cunningly devised scheme– probably by the Rebels and the gold speculators, as they are called, who are in sympathy with them.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

May 18– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Whereas there has been wickedly and traitorously printed and published this morning in the New York World and New York Journal of Commerce, newspapers printed and published in the city of New York, a false and spurious proclamation purporting to be signed by the President and to be countersigned by the Secretary of State, which publication is of a treasonable nature, designed to give aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States and to the rebels now at war against the Government and their aiders and abettors, you are therefore hereby commanded forthwith to arrest and imprison in any fort or military prison in your command the editors, proprietors, and publishers of the aforesaid newspapers, and all such persons as, after public notice has been given of the falsehood of said publication, print and publish the same with intent to give aid and comfort to the enemy; and you will hold the persons so arrested in close custody until they can be brought to trial before a military commission for their offense. You will also take possession by military force of the printing establishments of the New York World and Journal of Commerce, and hold the same until further orders, and prohibit any further publication therefrom.” ~ Executive order from President Lincoln to General John Adams Dix.

May 18– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Mother, I see such awful things– I expect one of these days, if I live, I shall have awful thoughts & dreams– but it is such a great thing to be able to do some real good, assuage these horrible pains & wounds, & save life even– that’s the only thing that keeps a fellow up,” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa.

Whitman (2)

Walt Whitman


May 19– Thursday– New York City– “The undersigned, editors and publishers of a portion of the daily press of the city of New York, respectfully represent that the leading journals of this city sustain very extended telegraphic news arrangements, under an organization established in 1848 and known as the New York Associated Press, which is controlled by its members, acting through an executive committee, a general agent in this city, and assistant agents immediately responsible to the association at every important news center throughout this country and Europe. Under the above-named organization the rule has always been to transmit by telegraph all intelligence to the office of the general agent in this city, and by him the same is properly prepared for publication, and then written out by manifold process on tissue paper, and a copy of the same is sent simultaneously in sealed envelopes to each of the editors who are entitled to receive the same. From foregoing statement of facts Your Excellency will readily perceive that an ingenious rogue, knowing the manner in which the editors were supplied with much of their telegraphic news, could, by selecting his time and opportunity, easily impose upon editors or compositors the most wicked and fraudulent reports. . . . . the suspension by Your Excellency’s orders of the two papers last evening has had the effect to awaken editors and publishers and news agents, telegraph companies, &c., to the propriety of increased vigilance in their several duties, the undersigned respectfully request that Your Excellency will be pleased to rescind the order under which The World and the Journal of Commerce were suppressed.” ~ Message from Sidney Howard Gay of the New York Tribune, Erastus Brooks, of the New York Express, Frederick Hudson for James G. Bennett, of the New York Herald and Moses Sperry Beach, of the New York Sun to President Lincoln. [The four of them together represent a spectrum of both journalistic approaches and political views.]

May 19– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “The bogus proclamation has been the principal topic to-day. The knowledge that it is a forgery has not quieted the public mind.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

May 21– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln decides to lift publication ban on New York newspapers World and Journal of Commerce.

May 23– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “The author of the forged proclamation has been detected. His name is Howard, and he has been long connected with the New York press, but especially with the Times. . . . He is of a pestiferous class of reckless sensation-writers for an unscrupulous set of journalists who misinform the public mind. Scarcely one of them has regard for truth, and nearly all make use of their positions to subserve selfish, mercenary ends. This forger and falsifier Howard is a specimen of the miserable tribe. The seizure of the office of the World and Journal of Commerce for publishing this forgery was hasty, rash, inconsiderate, and wrong, and cannot be defended. They are mischievous and pernicious, working assiduously against the Union and the Government and giving countenance and encouragement to the Rebellion, but were in this instance the dupes, perhaps the willing dupes, of a knave and wretch.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

May 28–Saturday– Veracruz, Mexico– The nobles Maximilian, age 32, and his wife Charlotte, age 24, arrive from Europe. Maximilian has claimed the throne of Mexico at urging of and with the military support of French Emperor Napoleon III. [Maximilian will be captured by the Mexicans and executed June 19, 1867. Charlotte will flee to Europe before her husband’s capture and will eventually die in seclusion in Belgium on January 19, 1927.]


Emperor Maximilian


May 30– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “The army movements have been interesting for the last few days, though not sensational. Grant has not obtained a victory but performed another remarkably successful flank movement. Sherman is progressing in Georgia.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

May 31–Tuesday– Cleveland, Ohio–A convention of 350 Radical Republicans nominates John C Fremont for president and John Cochran of New York for vice-president. Their platform calls for a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery, no compromise with the Confederacy, a one term limit for the office of president, direct election of president and vice-president, a policy of reconstruction for the defeated South to be set by Congress and not the president, the plantations of Southern rebels to be given to Union veterans and no toleration of “the establishment of any anti-republican government on this continent by any foreign power.”


John C Fremont


May 31–Tuesday– Washington, D.C.–The House of Representatives defeats a resolution for a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery [which will eventually become the Thirteenth Amendment] by a vote of 55 in favor but 75 opposed.

I Make No Plans For The Future ~ March 1865 ~ 28th to 30th

I Make No Plans for the Future


Much gloom pervades Southern civilians and soldiers, mourning dead family and friends.


March 28– Tuesday– Petersburg, Virginia– “While I was gone the Regiment got into a severe fight. It was on the 25th and like to have all got killed or captured. The loss of the Regiment is 6 killed, 25 wounded, 118 captured. From what I can gather about the fight is this. Above here in front of Petersburg our forces attacked the yanks taking a number of prisoners and a good portion of their works. To retaliate they attacked our picket line, in front of this place capturing many but never got to our main line, and in trying to reestablish our picket line our Regiment got so badly cut up and failed to do it that day which was the 25th. Yesterday they reestablished the line with little loss. All is quiet now again but it is sad and heart sickening to look at our Regiment now. It seems that Providence ordained that I should miss it, or else I might now have been captured or killed. I feel sad and lonesome now, all my mess is gone, and I am alone again, but I can get along about that. The weather is pleasant now but it is uncertain about its continuing so long.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

March 28– Tuesday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “You must let me off with a few lines to-night, because I have some little packing yet to do and would like a good modicum of slumber; for to-morrow we are up and moving betimes in light order. I do not look for any grand action from this (taking the liberty of guessing where I am in the dark). I fancy a heavy infantry force will move to our left and rear, to mask and protect a great movement of cavalry with Sheridan at its head, directed at the South Side Rail Roadand other communications; all of which the enemy must be fully aware of; but I don’t think he can have one half our force in cavalry. The amount of fighting will depend on the moves of the enemy ; but I do not ever expect to see more than one such field-day as we used to have in the ever memorable campaign of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania perhaps not even one. Meantime I will not recklessly run against bullets. It isn’t my style; not exactly.” ~ Letter from Union officer Theodore Lyman to his wife Elizabeth.

Army Potomac-US-AHNN

March 28– Tuesday– Albany, Georgia– “Misses Caro and Lou Bacon spent the day with us, but I could not enjoy their visit for thinking of the poor boy, Anderson [a slave youth], who has been sent to jail. He implored me to beg ‘missis’ to forgive him, and I couldn’t help taking his part, though I know he deserved punishment. He refused to obey the overseer, and ran away four times. A soldier caught him and brought him in this morning with his hands tied behind him. Such sights sicken me, and I couldn’t help crying when I saw the poor wretch, though I know discipline is necessary, especially in these turbulent times, and sister is sending him to jail more as an example to the others than to hurt him. She has sent strict orders to the sheriff not to be too severe with him, but there is no telling what brutal men who never had any Negroes of their own will do; they don’t know how to feel for the poor creatures.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

March 29– Wednesday– New York City– “I almost hope this war may last till it becomes a war of extermination. Southrons who could endure the knowledge that human creatures were undergoing this torture [the treatment of Union prisoners in Confederate prison camps] within their own borders, and who did not actively protest against it, deserve to be killed.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

March 29– Wednesday– Petersburg, Virginia– Union General Grant begins a pincer-like operation in an attempt to prevent Confederate General Lee from evacuating the area.

cabin at City Point used as General Grant's headquarters

cabin at City Point used as General Grant’s headquarters

March 29– Wednesday– Headquarters of Confederate General Johnston, North Carolina– “I thought My duty as the friend & bother officer of your deceased husband to write you, giving the particulars of his death. Colonel King Returned to the Command from the Hospital at Charlotte, N.C. (where he had been for a few days with slight illness) on the 9th instant. On the morning of the 10th our brigade was ordered to charge the camp of the Yankee General Kilpatrick. The Cobb Legion under Colonel King led the charge which was entirely Successful until the enemy rallied & the Cobb Legion again charged the Yankee Battery in which charge the Colonel Received a mortal wound while most gallantly leading his men in the fight. When I first met him he was speechless therefore, I did not hear his last words. I learned from those who were very near him at the time that his last Remark was, (Say to My wife I die willingly defending My country). I trust Madam that you will accept My Sincere Sympathy in your great very great bereavement. You have lost a Kind good husband, I a true & tried friend, and our common country a staunch & noble patriot. I trust Madam that you May have the fortitude to bear your loss as becomes the wife of So brave & noble a man. Again I tender you My heart felt Sympathies.” ~ Letter from a fellow officer to Bessie King, the widow of Barrington Simeral King.


March 29– Wednesday– Augusta, Georgia– “At times I feel as I was drifting on, on, ever onward to be at last dashed against some rock and I shut my eyes– almost wish it was over, the shock encountered and I prepared to know what destiny awaits me. I am tired, oh so tired, of this war. I feel the restraint of the blockade and as port after port becomes blockaded, I feel shut up, pent up and am irresistibly reminded of the old story of the iron shroud contracting more and more each hour, each moment. I may perhaps be glad hereafter that I have lived through this war but now the height of my ambition is to be quiet, to have no distracting cares, the time to read, leisure to think and write and study. Country, glory, and patriotism are great things but to the bereaved hearts of Mrs. Stovall and Mrs. Clayton, each moaning for the death of their first born, what bitter mockery there must be in the words. Thus it is I strive to get away, to forget in reading or in writing or in talking the ever present, the one absorbing theme of war and thus it is thrust upon me. I make no plans for the future.” ~ Journal of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas.

March 30– Thursday– Augusta County, Virginia– “I take this opportunity of thanking you for the excellent selection of tracts you sent me. I have read many of them and think them excellent. The soldiers appear glad to get them. I hope they will be read by many and be the means of doing good. I always request those to whom I give tracts to give them to others when they have read them. I have some of them yet perhaps as many as I may be able to distribute for a month that will depend very much on the movements of the army near us. I again ask the favor of another bundle when it may be convenient for you to send them. I send you $400 which I place at your disposal to be used in the way you think will do most good. There is one thing I must tell you. Some of our returned prisoners complain of the treatment they met with in Richmond. They say they came there destitute of money and could procure nothing to eat without it. If this is true it is discouraging to our soldiers who have suffered so much in Yankee prisons to meet with such neglect at home. I suppose Government has made provision for our prisoners But it may be through some neglect some are left to suffer. If you are situated so near the Landing as to have an opportunity of observing our prisoners and see such, please relieve them. We are now looking for some of our Providence and Shemariah boys– T Smiley, H Wright, of Beard, F Meatcheon. If you should see any of the above named destitute please furnish them with the means of procuring such things as they need. If you have not funds in your hands at the time they may come and you expend any thing for their comfort, Let me know and I will refund it. I do not wish you to keep this money waiting to see if they will need it But use it in any way you wish for doing good.” ~ Letter from Mr E. Martin to Reverend H. Brown.


March 30– Thursday– Headquarters First Army Corps, Virginia– “Your letter expressing the views of the commander-in-chief in reference to the policy to be pursued in raising Negro troops is received. I am apprehensive that we shall have applications and evidence enough to take from us more men than we can well spare at this critical moment in our affairs. It seems to me that any person who has the influence to raise a company or a regiment by going home could do so as well by letters to his friends at home. If I am right in this opinion, an order announcing that the officers of the companies and regiments of colored troops would be appointed from the officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates on duty with our armies would have the effect of bringing back more absentees than we should lose by making the appointments. If we may judge of our future success in getting up new organizations by the past, we may rely upon it that many will furnish the necessary evidence, and go home and there remain for eight and ten and twelve months. I think it would be well to publish a general order, explaining more clearly the policy indicated in your letter, in order that a better general understanding may exist amongst the parties who may desire to furnish evidence of their ability to get up new organizations. Otherwise I may adopt rules which would not be as favorable to the officers and men of this command as those of other commands.” ~ Letter from Confederate General James Longstreet to Colonel W. H. Taylor.

A Many-sided Field-day ~ March 1865 ~ 24th to 26th

A Many-sided Field-day


Talk of some type of evacuation of Richmond flourishes at many levels. Lee tries a desperate measure to relieve the siege but suffers a bitter loss. Longstreet worries about the number and morale of his soldiers. Whitman visits his brother George home now from a prison camp. Mexico struggles against the French invaders.

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March 24– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “Clear and very windy. The fear of utter famine is now assuming form. Those who have the means are laying up stores for the day of siege– I mean a closer and more rigorous siege– when all communications with the country shall cease; and this makes the commodities scarcer and the prices higher. There is a project on foot to send away some thousands of useless consumers; but how it is to be effected by the city authorities, and where they will be sent to, are questions I have not heard answered. The population of the city is not less than 100,000, and the markets cannot subsist 70,000. Then there is the army in the vicinity, which must be fed. I suppose the poultry and the sheep will be eaten, and something like a pro rata distribution of flour and meal ordered.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

March 24– Friday– Petersburg, Virginia– “I see no cause for despondency; but on the contrary, I think there is great encouragement to hope. Sherman has gone almost unopposed through the most flourishing portions of the Confederacy; but has he conquered the people? True, his progress will have a deleterious effect upon our cause abroad; but tis far from ‘crushing the rebellion.’ The repulse of our Peace Commissioners, has also produced a desirable effect, causing a greater unanimity of feeling to exist among our people than ever before. The ‘Negro’ bill has been passed, and already the Negroes are being put into the field. This will undoubtedly greatly increase our effective force, since the places of many of our troops now occupying the lines around Petersburg and Richmond can be easily filled; but I think this bill unconstitutional and violently antagonistic to the principles for which we are fighting; if however, tis reported to an act of necessity I cheerfully acquiesce. These men being relieved can operate more successfully upon the enemy’s flanks, and soon we would be ready for another foray into Pennsylvania. I know what you will say to this, since you’ve already told me, you were ‘opposed to invasion;’ but I believe that’s the only way to make the Yankees cry ‘enough.’Tis certainly better for us to enter the enemy’s country, and be fed by them, than remain in these detestable ditches poorly provided for, subject to every manner of disease and to death from the many and fiendish invasions of our foe. More men have been lost since we came south of Richmond than in the celebrated battle of Gettysburg. I’m glad to learn that Senator Hill and others are delivering addresses to the people of Georgia; for I am sorry to say I think they need some stimulus to make them do their duty, since they will not do it voluntarily. Now is the times we need their encouragement and their strongest efforts. Why do they withhold it? Surely they do expect to save anything by submission or reconstruction. On the contrary, they will lose everything, not even their home will be spared.” ~ Letters from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee Maggie Cone.

March 24– Friday– Quebec, Canada– Four political leaders are appointed to negotiate Confederation in London.

March 25– Saturday– New York City– “Benito Juarez, President of Mexico, has issued a New Year’s proclamation, dated Chihuahua, in which he urges upon all Mexicans to fight out the question with the [French] invaders. He reiterates his hope that he will triumph in the end. . . . The British army and navy estimates for the year 1865-6 have just been announced. The cost of the army is $71,000,000; of the navy $51,000,000. Total estimates for the military and naval establishments for the coming year, £24,76,671; or, in American currency, $123,703,355.” ~ Frank Leslies Weekly.

President Benito Juarez

President Benito Juarez

March 25– Saturday– Vernon County, Wisconsin– The “Claywater Meteorite” explodes just before reaching ground level. Its fragments, having a combined mass of 1.5 kg, are recovered.

March 25– Saturday– Headquarters First Army Corps, Virginia– “The impression prevails amongst the Georgia troops of this command that persons at home having authority to raise local organizations are writing and sending messages to the men in the ranks here, offering inducements to them to quit our ranks and go home and join the home organizations. The large and increasing number of desertions, particularly amongst the Georgia troops, induces me to believe that some such outside influence must be operating upon our men. Nearly all of the parties of deserters seem to go home, and it must be under the influence of some promise, such as being received in the local forces. I would suggest, therefore, the publication of a general order warning all officers or persons authorized to raise local organizations against receiving such deserters or in any way harboring them, and cautioning all such parties that they shall be punished for such crimes under the twenty-second and twenty-third Articles of War. It may be well to publish the articles in the order, and to send the order South to be published in all the Southern papers. If the order is published, I would suggest that copies be sent to the Southern papers by special messenger or by parties going South who will take pains to have it published, otherwise I fear it may miscarry or be delayed by our irregular mails. Another growing evil seems to trouble us now in the shape of applications to raise Negro companies, regiments, brigades, etc. The desire for promotion seems to have taken possession of our army, and it seems that nearly all the officers and men think that they could gain a grade or more if allowed to go home. I presume that many may try to go merely because they get furloughs. I would suggest, therefore, that some regulation be published upon this subject, and it seems to me that it should require the companies to be mustered in as non-commissioned officers and privates by the enrolling officers, and that all of the officers (general, field, and company) shall be selected from the officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates on duty with the armies of the Confederacy. If these matters are not speedily taken hold of by a firm hand, I fear that we shall be seriously damaged by them.” ~ Letter from Confederate General James Longstreet to Colonel W. H. Taylor.

General Longstreet

General Longstreet

March 25– Saturday– Petersburg, Virginia– In a desperate attempt to break the siege, Confederate troops launch a heavy attack against a Federal position called Fort Stedman. After day-long fighting, initial Southern success is turned into a defeat. Total casualties– dead, wounded, missing– are approximately 1400 for the Union and almost 4000 for the Confederacy.

March 25– Saturday– City Point, Virginia– “We may indeed call this a many-sided field-day: a break fast with a pleasure party, an assault and a recapture of an entrenched line, a review by the President of a division of infantry, and sharp fighting at sundry points of a front of eighteen miles! If that is not a mixed affair, I would like to know what is? It has been a lucky day, for us, and the 9th Corps, after patient waiting for eight months, have played the game of the ‘Mine’ against their antagonists. The official despatches will give you the main facts very well, but I can add some particulars. About daylight, the enemy having massed three divisions and a part of a fourth, made a sudden rush and carried Fort Stedman and about half a mile of line commanded by it. The garrisons of the forts on either side stood firm, however, and repelled a severe attack with much injury to the enemy. Meantime, General Parke had ordered that the works should be retaken, if it cost every man in the Corps; and all the scattered regiments immediately at hand were put in and checked a further advance, until General Hartranft (I m not sure about the spelling of his name) brought up the 3rd division, which had been camped in reserve. He person ally led in one brigade of it, with conspicuous gallantry, retook the whole portion lost, and captured, at one swoop, 1800 Rebels. It was just the ‘Mine,’ turned the other way: they got caught in there and could not get out. Their loss also in killed and wounded must have been severe, not only from musketry, but also from canister, which was thrown into a ravine by which they retreated. Upwards of a hundred Rebel dead lay in and round Fort Stedman alone. Our own losses in the 9th Corps will be somewhat over 800, half of whom may be reckoned prisoners, taken in the first surprise. I should guess the loss of their opponents as not less than 2600.” ~ Letter from Union officer Theodore Lyman to his wife Elizabeth.

interior section of Fort Stedman

interior section of Fort Stedman

March 25– Saturday– Mobile, Alabama– Federal forces begin a siege of the city.

March 26– Sunday– Brooklyn, New York– “I write a few lines to tell you how I find the folks at home. Both my mother & brother George looked much better than I expected. Mother is quite well, considering– she goes about her household affairs pretty much the same as ever, & is cheerful. My brother would be in what I would almost call fair condition, if it were not that his legs are affected– it seems to me it is rheumatism, following the fever he had– but I don’t know. He goes to bed quite sleepy & falls to sleep– but then soon wakes, & frequently little or no more sleep that night– he most always leaves the bed, & comes downstairs, & passes the night on the sofa. He goes out most every day though some days has to lay by. He is going to report to Annapolis promptly when his furlough is up. I told him I had no doubt I could get it extended, but he does not wish it. He says little, but is in first rate spirits. I am feeling finely & never enjoyed a visit home more than I am doing this. I find myself perplexed about printing my book. All the printers tell me I could not pick a more inopportune time– that in ten days prices of paper, composition &c will all be very much lower &c. I shall decide tomorrow.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his friends William D. and Ellen M. O’Connor.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

March 26– Sunday– Staunton, Virginia– “I am still at the Hotel & keeping it open. I have been trying hard to make some disposition of it but it seems impossible to do it & I fear the only way to save it until after the war is for me to keep it open & don’t know now who to get in it & for the present will have to stay here myself. Sometimes I think it best for you to come out here & live & when I think of the risk of all of our property I hesitate & can’t decide what is best for us all round but I think it will not be long until we will be able to judge more fully what is best & what to do. I assure you I am very anxious to be with you but I can’t ask you to abandon home with all its comforts to come here with me for my own comfort & pleasure & of course I have concluded to try & stand it longer.” ~ Letter from John Quincy Nadenbousch to his wife Hester.

March 26– Sunday– Richmond, Virginia– “I fear now it will be impossible to prevent a junction between Grant and Sherman, nor do I deem it prudent that this army should maintain its position until the latter shall approach too near.” ~ Message from Confederate General Robert E Lee to President Jeff Davis.

General Lee

General Lee

March 26– Sunday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “I feel it my duty this pleasant Sabbath Evening to Inform you that I just came from the hospital from seeing your husband and he requested me to write you a letter to let you know how he was and what had happened him. The Rebs did make a break in through the picket line about one mile from this yesterday morning and we was called out about 5 o’clock and about 6 o’clock we was in line of battle in front of the enemy and we had just gave them two volleys when Sylvester and I was both wounded. Sylvester is wounded through the leg but I guess the bone is not fractured any at least he thinks so. He was in very good spirits to day and I think that it wont be sore very long. I got a slight tap through one of my fingers on the left hand. Mine is a very light wound but it is pretty sore to day. Sylvester was taken to the Hospital just shortly after he was wounded and I came back to camp. There was eight wounded in our Company and one killed. The rest of the boys are all out yet lying at the breast works. There was some of them had to go on picket last night but they will come in this evening but we drove the rebs back and they loosed a good many men. They had taken two or three of our forts before we got to them but we soon took them all back and the report is that we took fifteen hundred prisoners. There was over three hundred of the rebs killed and our loss don’t exceed more than three hundred killed wounded and missing. . . . Old General Lee told his men that they would go to City Point again . . . when they started but the old fellow missed that game . . . . Well I must soon bring my scribbling to a close for I will have to get at and get supper.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Jacob Shearer to Harriet A. McElheney.

My Army Is Dirty, Ragged and Saucy ~ March 1865 ~ 22nd to 24th

My Army Is Dirty, Ragged and Saucy

General Sherman

General Sherman

General Sherman boasts in a letter to his wife. His boast is justified. As he pushes up from North Carolina, he and Grant move closer to catching Lee’s dwindling Confederate force in a powerful vice. As part of list ditch measures, the Confederacy tries to rapidly mobilize black soldiers. Radical abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, whose newspaper antagonized the South and poked the consciences of the North for decades, announces that his paper will cease publication. It is the end of an era.


March 22– Wednesday– Albany, Georgia– “Up very early and drove to the depot with Mecca. Mr. Godfrey was there and proposed that we should go as far as Smithville with her, and let him drive me out home in the afternoon, but the roads are so bad and the weather so uncertain that I thought I had better go back with sister. The journey was the worst we have made yet. We bogged at one place and had to wade through the mud while Aby helped the mules to pull the carriage over. At Wright’s Creek we found a crowd of soldiers and countrymen on the bank, and they told us the creek was too high to cross. Some of them were exchanged prisoners impatient to get home, and they had determined to swim over. They stood on the bank with bare legs, ready to strip off and plunge in the moment our backs were turned. I couldn’t help being amused at the nonchalance with which one burly fellow pulled off his stockings and commenced playing with his toes while talking to us. Another, wishing to call sister’s attention to the water-mark, grabbed her by the arm and led her down the bank, saying: ‘See this here stick here, where the water has already begun to fall, an hit’ll fall a heap rapider the next hour or two.’ They meant no harm. These are unceremonious times, when social distinctions are forgotten and the raggedest rebel that tramps the road in his country’s service is entitled to more honor than a king. We stood on the bank a long time, talking with the poor fellows and listening to their adventures. There was one old man standing on the shore, gazing across as wistfully as Moses might have looked towards the promised land. He could not swim, but his home was over there, and he had made up his mind to plunge in and try to cross at any risk. The soldiers saluted him with a few rough jokes, and then showed their real metal by mounting him on the back of the strongest of them, who waded in with his burden, while two others swam along on each side to give help in case of accident. Sister and I thought at first of getting General Dahlgren to send us across in his pleasure boat, but soon gave up the idea and concluded to stay at the Mallarys till the creek became fordable, for we knew it would fall as rapidly as it had risen. We bid our soldier friends good-by, and drove away to the Mallarys, where we spent a pleasant day and night. General and Mrs. Dahlgren called after dinner and said that we ought to have stopped with them. Mrs. Dahlgren is a beautiful woman, and only twenty-two years old, while her husband is over sixty. He is a pompous old fellow and entertained us by telling how his influence made General Joseph E. Johnston commander-in-chief of the Army of Tennessee; how Hood lost Atlanta by not following his advice; how he was the real inventor of the Dahlgren gun, which is generally attributed to his brother, the Yankee admiral , and so on.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

Eliza Frances Andrews

Eliza Frances Andrews

March 23– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “The President has gone to the front, partly to get rid of the throng that is pressing upon him, though there are speculations of a different character. He makes his office much more laborious than he should. Does not generalize and takes upon himself questions that properly belong to the Departments, often causing derangement and irregularity. The more he yields, the greater the pressure upon him. It has now become such that he is compelled to flee. There is no doubt he is much worn down ; besides he wishes the War terminated, and, to this end, that severe terms shall not be exacted of the Rebels.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

Gideon Welles

Gideon Welles

March 23– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “4. The enlistment of colored persons under this act will be made upon printed forms, to be furnished for the purpose, similar to those established for the regular service. They will be executed in duplicate, one copy to be returned to this office for file. No slave will be accepted as a recruit unless with his own consent and with the approbation of his master by a written instrument conferring, as far as he may, the rights of a freedman, and which will be filed with the superintendent. The enlistments will be made for the war, and the effect of the enlistment will be to place the slave in the military service conformably to this act. The recruits will be organized at the camps in squads and companies, and will be subject to the order of the General-in-Chief under the second section of this act. 5. The superintendent in each State will cause a report to be made on the first Monday of every month showing the expenses of the previous month, the number of recruits at the various depots in the State, the number that has been sent away, and the destination of each. His report will show the names of all the slaves recruited, with their age, description, and the names of their masters. One copy will be sent to the General-in-Chief and one to the adjutant and Inspector General. 6. The appointment of officers to the companies to be formed of the recruits aforesaid will be made by the President. 7. To facilitate the raising of volunteer companies, officers recruiting therefor are authorized to muster their men into service as soon as enrolled. As soon as enrolled and mustered, the men will be sent, with descriptive lists, to the depots of rendezvous, at which they will be instructed until assigned for service in the field. When the organization of any company remains incomplete at the expiration of the time specified for its organization, the companies or detachments already mustered into service will be assigned to other organizations at the discretion of the General-in-Chief.” ~ Directive for the enlistment of black soldiers issued by Inspector General Cooper.


March 23– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Yesterday afternoon the Camps Winder and Jackson battalion paraded on the Capitol Square. In the battalion were two companies of Negroes (not uniformed), which were made up from the Negroes employed about the hospitals. They are not, we believe, in the Confederate military service. In marked contrast to the appearance of these Negroes was that of a squad of Major Turner’s colored troops, neatly uniformed, and showing a good soldierly carriage. These regulars had gone up to look at their colored brethren. Volunteering would be much encouraged by the parade of Major Turner’s men, which will, we hope, soon take place.” ~ Richmond Dispatch.

March 23– Thursday– Goldsboro, North Carolina– “I wrote you from Fayetteville. On our way thence the enemy struck our left flank and I turned on him and after three days maneuvering and fighting defeated him and drove him off towards Raleigh. The fight was near Bentonsville, 20 miles from here on the south side of the Neuse in the direction of Smithfield. I got here to-day and all the army will be in by to-morrow. Thus have I brought the army from Savannah in good order, beaten the enemy wherever he attempted to oppose our progress, and made junction with Schofield and Terry from Newbern and Wilmington on the 21st, one day later than I had appointed before leaving Savannah. It is far more difficult and important than the Savannah march. Besides the immediate results we have forced the Rebels to abandon the whole sea coast. . . . I have no doubt that you will be sufficiently gratified to know that I have eminently succeeded in this last venture, and will trust to luck that in the next still more hazardous I will be again favored. I don’t believe anything has tended more to break the pride of the South than my steady persistent progress. My army is dirty, ragged and saucy. I have promised them rest, clothing and food, but the railroads have not been completed as I expected and I fear we may be troubled thereby. I am just informed that the telegraph line is finished from the sea to this place, so our lines of communication will be shortened. Strange to say we are all in fine health and condition, only a little blackened by the pine smoke of our camp fires. I would like to march this army through New York just as it appears today, with its wagons, pack mules, cattle, Negroes and bummers, and I think they would make a more attractive show than your [Sanitary] fair.” ~ Letter from Union General William Tecumseh Sherman to his wife Ellen.

Ellen Sherman

Ellen Sherman

March 24– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “It is true that we have concluded to discontinue the Liberator at the close of the present year, which will complete its Thirty-fifth volume. As we commenced its publication for the express purpose of effecting the extinction of slavery, and as that sublime event has been consummated by a constitutional decree of the nation, so that henceforth no salve is to beheld within the domains of the American Union, it seems to us historically fitting that the Liberator should simply cover the whole period of the struggle, and terminate with it. Unless, therefore, something should occur beyond our present belief or anticipation to make it necessary to change our decision, we shall not prolong the existence of the paper beyond this Year of Jubilee; and have instructed our General Agent to take no subscription for a longer period. This is not the occasion for us to say all that such a conclusion naturally suggests. Let it be deferred till the time is at hand. On many accounts, we shall regret to discontinue a paper which has cost us so much of trial and fiery persecution, experienced so many vicissitudes, wrought out such results, afforded us such opportunities to test the spirit of the age, attracted to its support such pure-minded and noble spirits, and absorbed the larger portion of our earthly life. But this will not necessarily sunder our connection with the press, nor prevent our publishing another journal, under a new title, and for other reformatory purposes. Whether we shall retire altogether, or commence anew in the manner suggested, we leave it for Divine Providence to determine. If nearly forty years of editorial service (begun when we were only twenty years of age) have made it ‘as second nature,’ and if we should feel out of our element divorced from that service, still, with advancing years, we confess that, ‘though the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak;’ and that something of repose and seclusion is coveted by us, in order to recuperate both mind and body. Yet let not those whose cause we espoused when all was dark and desperate, and the whole weight of the nation was brought to crush us– in whose behalf we have periled all that is dear to man, through a whole generation of conflict– whose chains are now happily broken, whose reproach is fast passing away, and whose future is now one of glorious promise– imagine, for one moment, that we shall ever grow weary in maintaining their rights, or consent to any abatement of their claims to ‘liberty, equality, fraternity.’ We have always made, and shall continue to make, their case our own. It was not on account of their complexion that we gave them our sympathy and advocacy, but because they were members of one great human family, endowed by their Creator with the same attributes and prerogatives, and destined to the same immortality as all other races; and, therefore, their enslavement was a blow struck at the liberties of mankind. We claimed for them, at the outset, all of justice and fair-dealing; and we have never since claimed anything less. . . . They can firmly demand whatever is yet wrongfully withheld from them, and still be neither factious nor insolent. They can protest against bring victimized in any direction on account of their complexion, and yet be filled with thanksgiving that such mighty changes have taken place in their favor in so short a time. There is now, very generally, a deep sympathy and a warm-hearted interest in their condition as a people; and a growing purpose to make, as far as practicable, atonement for the past, and to give security for the future. What contributions are made, what labors put forth, what means of enlightenment provided, what sacrifices offered, in behalf of the millions who are coming out of the Southern house of bondage! Is not all this as wonderful as it is cause for joy and gratitude? Let there be no revulsion in this tide of benevolent feeling caused by any unseemly behavior or unreasonable fault-finding; but let it be rejoicingly taken at its flood, and accepted as the harbinger of complete enfranchisement at no distant day.” ~ The Liberator.

William Lloyd Garrison

William Lloyd Garrison

Additional Forces to Repel Invasion ~ March 1865 ~ 12th to 14th

Additional Forces to Repel Invasion

Federal troops

Federal troops

After much intense debate, the Confederate Congress passes, by an extremely narrow margin, a bill to use slaves as soldiers. President Davis immediately signs the measure into law. But citizens of Richmond are nervous. Sherman’s Federal troops seem unstoppable in North Carolina. Gideon Welles relates a story of the early days of the rebellion. Lincoln takes steps to punish those who assisted the Confederacy with trade or commerce of any sort.

regiment of United States Colored Troops (USCT)

regiment of United States Colored Troops (USCT)

March 12– Sunday– Richmond, Virginia– “Bright and frosty. About one o’clock last night, there wasan alarm, supposed to be the approach of the enemy from the West– Sheridan’s cavalry– and the tocsin sounded until daylight. It was a calm moonlight night, without a cloud in the sky. Couriers reported that the enemy were at the outer fortifications, and had burned Ben Green’s house. Corse’s brigade and one or two batteries passed through the city in the direction of the menaced point; and all the local organizations were ordered to march early in the morning. Mr. Secretary Mallory and Postmaster-General Reagan were in the saddle; and rumor says the President and the remainder of the cabinet had their horses saddled in readiness for flight. About a year ago we had Dahlgren’s raid, and it was then announced that the purpose was to burn the city and put to death the President, the cabinet, and other prominent leaders of the ‘rebellion.’ Perhaps our leaders had some apprehension of the fate prepared for them on that occasion, and may have concerted a plan of escape.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

March 12– Sunday– Lincolnton, North Carolina– “Better to-day. A long, long weary day in grief has passed away. I suppose General Chesnut [her husband] is some where but where? that is the question. Only once has he visited this sad spot, which holds, he says, all that he cares for on earth. Unless he comes or writes soon I will cease, or try to cease, this wearisome looking, looking, looking for him.” ~ Diary of Mary Chesnut.

Mary Chesnut

Mary Chesnut

March 12– Sunday–Fayetteville, North Carolina– “We reached this place yesterday in good health and condition. We have had bad roads and weather but made good progress, and have achieved all I aimed to accomplish. Our main columns came through Columbia and Cheraw, South Carolina. We have had no general battle, and only skirmishes on the skirts of the army. The enemy gave ground when I moved in force. The importance of this march exceeds that from Atlanta to Savannah. South Carolina has had a visit from the West that will cure her of her pride and boasting. I sent couriers to Wilmington and a tugboat got up this morning, and I will start her back at 6 p. m. with despatches to Grant, the Secretary of War, and all my subordinate commanders. I do not intend to go to the sea shore, but will move on. I have no doubt you have all been uneasy on our account, but barring bad weather and mud we have had no trouble. . . .The same brags and boasts are kept up, but when I reach the path where the lion crouched I find him slinking away. My army is in the same condition as before, and seems to possess abiding confidence in its officers. It would amuse you to hear their comments on me as I ride along the ranks, but I hope you will hear the jokes and fun of war at a fitter time for amusement. Now it is too serious. I think we are bringing matters to an issue. Johnston is restored to the supreme command and will unite the forces hitherto scattered and fight me about Raleigh or Goldsboro. Lee may reinforce him from Richmond, but if he attempts that Grant will pitch in. I can whip Joe Johnston unless his men fight better than they have since I left Savannah. As I rode into Columbia crowds gathered round me, composed of refugees and many [Union] officers who had escaped their prison guards [from a prison camp] and hid themselves. . . . I expect to stay here a few days in hopes to receive some bread and shoes from Wilmington. The river is now high and easily navigated, and had I time I should have no trouble in getting supplies up, but time is so important that I must ‘Forward.’” ~ Letter from Union General William Tecumseh Sherman to his wife Ellen.

General Sherman

General Sherman

March 12– Sunday– the Gulf of Mexico– A U S warship captures a British vessel attempting to run the blockade.

March 13– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Rear-Admiral Porter spent the evening at my house. Among other things he detailed what he saw and knew of Jeff Davis and others in the early days of the Rebellion. He was, he admits, and as I was aware, on intimate terms with Davis and Mrs. Davis, and had been so for some years. On the evening after reception of the news that South Carolina passed the secession ordinance he called at Davis’s house. A number of Secession leaders, he says, were there. It was a rainy, disagreeable evening, but Mrs. Davis came down stairs bonneted and prepared to go out. She caught him and congratulated him on the glorious news. South Carolina had declared herself out of the Union, which was to be broken up. She was going to see the President, Buchanan, and congratulate him. Wanted to be the first to communicate the intelligence to him. Porter told her the weather and roads were such she could not walk, and, one of the Members of Congress having come in a hack, he, Porter, took it and accompanied her. On the way he inquired why she should feel so much elated. She said she wanted to get rid of the old government ; that they would have a monarchy South, and gentlemen to fill official positions. This, he found, was the most earnest sentiment, not only of herself but others. Returning in the carriage to Davis’s house, he found that the crowd of gentlemen was just preparing to follow Mrs. Davis to call on the President and interchange congratulations. They all spoke of Buchanan, he says, as being with them in sentiment, and Porter believes him to have been one of the most guilty in that nefarious business; that he encouraged the active conspirators in his intercourse with them, if he did not openly approve them before the world.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

March 13– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– “The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That, in order to provide additional forces to repel invasion, maintain the rightful possession of the Confederate States, secure their independence, and preserve their institutions, the President be, and he is hereby, authorized to ask for and accept from the owners of slaves, the services of such number of able-bodied Negro men as he may deem expedient, for and during the war, to perform military service in whatever capacity he may direct. 2. That the General-in-Chief be authorized to organize the said slaves into companies, battalions, regiments, and brigades, under such rules and regulations as the Secretary of War may prescribe, and to be commanded by such officers as the President may appoint. 3. That while employed in the service the said troops shall receive the same rations, clothing, and compensation as are allowed to other troops in the same branch of the service. 4. That if, under the previous sections of this act, the President shall not be able to raise a sufficient number of troops to prosecute the war successfully and maintain the sovereignty of the States and the independence of the Confederate States, then he is hereby authorized to call on each State, whenever he thinks it expedient, for her quota of 300,000 troops, in addition to those subject to military service under existing laws, or so many thereof as the President may deem necessary to be raised from such classes of the population, irrespective of color, in each State, as the proper authorities thereof may determine: Provided, That not more than twenty-five per cent of the male slaves between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, in any State, shall be called for under the provisions of this act. 5. That nothing in this act shall be construed to authorize a change in the relation which the said slaves shall bear toward their owners, except by consent of the owners and of the States in which they may reside, and in pursuance of the laws thereof.” ~ Legislation passed today and promptly signed by President Davis.

President Davis

President Davis

March 13– Monday– Albany, Georgia– “Mett, Mecca, and I took a long drive to look at some new muslin dress goods that we heard a countryman down towards Camilla had for sale. They were very cheap – only twenty dollars a yard. Mett and I each bought a dress and would have got more if Mrs. Settles, the man’s wife, would have sold them. How they came to let these two go so cheap I can’t imagine. I felt as if I were cheating the woman when I paid her 500 dollars in Confederate money for 20 yards of fairly good lawn. We stopped at Gum Pond on the way back and paid a visit. Albert Bacon gave me a beautiful red-bird that he shot for me to trim my hat with.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

March 14– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “The President was some indisposed and in bed, but not seriously ill. The members met in his bedroom. Seward had a paper for excluding blockade- runners and persons in complicity with the Rebels from the country.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

March 14– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “The President directs that all persons who now are or hereafter shall be found within the United States who have been engaged in holding intercourse or trade with the insurgents by sea, if they are citizens of the United States or domiciled aliens, shall be arrested and held as prisoners of war until the war shall close, subject, nevertheless, to prosecution, trial, and conviction for any offense committed by them as spies or otherwise against the laws of war. The President further directs that all nonresident foreigners who now are or hereafter shall be found in the United States, and who have been or shall have been engaged in violating the blockade of the insurgent ports, shall leave the United States within twelve days from the publication of this order, or from their subsequent arrival in the United States, if on the Atlantic side, and forty days if on the Pacific side, of the country; and such persons shall not return to the United States during the continuance of the war. Provost-marshals and marshals of the United States will arrest and commit to military custody all such offenders as shall disregard this order, whether they have passports or not, and they will be detained in such custody until the end of the war, or until discharged by subsequent orders of the President.” ~ Executive Order from President Lincoln.

Lincoln with his secretaries

Lincoln with his secretaries

March 14– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Bright and pleasant, but indications of change. The papers contain no news from the armies, near or remote. But there was some alarm in the upper portion of the city about 9 P.M. last night, from a signal seen (appended to a balloon) just over the western horizon. It was stationary for ten minutes, a blood-red light, seen through a hazy atmosphere. I thought it was Mars, but my eldest daughter, a better astronomer than I, said it was neither the time nor place for it to be visible. The air was still, and the dismal barking of the dogs conjured up the most direful portents. All my neighbors supposed it to be a signal from Sheridan to Grant, and that the city would certainly be attacked before morning. It was only a camp signal of one of our own detachments awaiting the approach of Sheridan. . . . General Lee sends to the department this morning a copy of a fierce letter from Lord John Russell, British Secretary of State, to our commissioners abroad, demanding a discontinuance of expeditions fitted out in Canada, and the building and equipping of cruisers in British ports. It says such practices must cease, for they are not only in violation of British law, but calculated to foment war between Great Britain and the United States, which Lord John is very much averse to. The communication is sent to Washington, D. C., and thence forwarded by Mr. Seward to General Grant, who sends it by flag of truce to General Lee. Great Britain gives us a kick while the Federal generals are pounding us.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

General Lee

General Lee

March 14– Tuesday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “Find everybody excited with orders to move. Well, I am ready, and may God give us victory.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

March 14– Tuesday– Fayetteville, North Carolina– For the third consecutive day Federal troops destroy any and all machinery and buildings deemed useful to the Confederate war effort.

March 14– Tuesday– Knoxville, Tennessee– “Woke up at Cleveland, just before day & got on top of [the railroad] car to see the country. Very fertile– poorly cultivated. Plow with one horse for corn. Think I never saw better soil. People seem to be poor. Here is the first part of the South were I have found villages. We pushed through many pretty little places. First place– country where I have seen Union people in the South. They are all out at the doors waving handkerchiefs & cheering. Some times we’d see a dozen at one house. Crossed the Tenn on a bridge at Loudon. The people seem to have the spirit of old Brownlow. Came into Knoxville about 4 o’clock [P. M. ] A beautiful place. Larger than I expected. I never saw a more strongly fortified place. Marched us out about two miles at night and ordered us to camp. Ah I shall remember this evening. It commenced raining as we started. I thought I should drop down before we got there. Wasn’t long till we had a shelter & were in bed soundly sleeping after a good supper.” ~ Diary of Union soldier Arthur Calvin Mellette.

Prayer for Our Poor Country ~ March 1865 ~ 9th to 10th

Prayer for Our Poor Country

slave market

slave market

Southerners keep a day of prayer and fasting for the sake of the Confederacy. Georgia seems less and less cooperative with the Confederacy. It seems that desertion has become a major problem for General Lee’s forces. Items from a slave market are displayed in Boston. [The abolitionist and Quaker poet Whittier refers to them as “symbols of the Anti Christ.”]

chains used on slaves

chains used on slaves

March 9– Thursday– Montpelier, Vermont – The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

March 9– Thursday– Amesbury, Massachusetts– “I rejoice heartily to hear of thy arrival in Boston with the relics of the Great Barbarism– the auction-block of the human flesh-market of South Carolina, worn with weary feet and steeped in tears!– the lock of the accursed prison-house!– the letters over its gates of despair! It is as if Dante had torn the dreadful inscription, ‘Hope enters not here!’ from the doors of Hell, and borne it away with him to the upper world. It was well done on thy part. Let these infernal hieroglyphics and symbols of the worship of the Anti Christ be carefully preserved. Lay them side by side with the racks of the Inquisition and the keys of the Bastille. Let them tell the generations to come of that most hideous form of human depravity which, priding Itself on Its evangelical purity, and with the name of Christ on its lips, bought and sold the image of God, and subjected body and soul to the base uses of lust and avarice. Let them be a wonder and a warning to all time. I fear I may not be able to be at the meeting for presentation to morrow. But I know that such men as Governor Andrew and William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips will say the fitting word for Massachusetts and for Freedom on the occasion. Absent I shall rejoice with you, and thank God that I have lived to see the opening of the prison-doors.” ~ Letter from John Greenleaf Whittier to Charles Carleton Coffin. [Coffin, 1823– 1896, Massachusetts-born, has served as a war correspondent since the start of the war. He obtained the referenced items from the slave market in Charleston, South Carolina, after it fell to Federal troops, and brought them to Boston. Whittier is 57 years old at this time, continuing to deal with some health problems.]

Charles Carleton Coffin

Charles Carleton Coffin

March 9– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Rained all night; clearing away this morning. Warm. Nothing positive from Sherman, Grant, or Sheridan. . . . Yesterday the Senate passed the Negro troops bill . . . . The enemy did capture or destroy the tobacco sent to Fredericksburg bythe speculators to exchange for bacon– and 31 [railroad] cars were burned. No one regrets this, so far as the speculators are concerned. Letters from North Carolina state that the country is swarming with deserters . . . . It is stated that there are 800 in Randolph County, committing depredations on the rich farmers, etc.; and that the quartermaster and commissary stores at Greensborough [North Carolina] are threatened.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

bull whip used on slaves

bull whip used on slaves

March 9– Thursday– Macon, Georgia– “Let the Conscript Act be repealed, as you have wisely resolved it should be, let us return to the principles upon which we entered the contest, and let the whole country, with the spirit of freedom, which animated them in 1861, rally around our glorious leaders, Lee, Johnston, and Beauregard, who should be untrammeled by Presidential interference in the management of military campaigns, and we shall again triumph in battle, and roll back the dark cloud of despondency, which has so long darkened our horizon, and blighted our hopes. Georgia has done her whole duty, from the commencement of the struggle. She has furnished more than her quota of troops, clothed them when naked in Confederate service, and provided subsistence for their families at home. Official reports show, that she has lost more men, and paid more tax, than any State in the Confederacy. However much she may be misrepresented, and the motives of those who have conducted her counsels, and administered her Government, may be maligned, by artful and designing politicians, both she, and her public servants, may proudly point to the sacrifices made, and the results achieved, as the highest evidence of loyalty to the cause. I now appeal, doubtless, with your concurrence, to Georgians, at home and in the field, while they demand the correction of abuses, and maintain in sunshine and in shade, the old land marks of State Sovereignty and republican liberty, against foes without and within, never to permit her proud banner to trail in the dust, nor the cause to suffer, on account of their failure to strike, with heroic valor, in the thickest of the fight, till freedom is won and Constitutional liberty firmly established.” ~ Message from Georgia governor Joseph E Brown to the state legislature.

spring outfit 1865

spring outfit 1865

March 9– Thursday– Gopher Hill, Georgia– “Mrs. Warren gave a dinner party to which all the people from Gopher Hill and a good many from Albany were invited, but very few attended on account of the weather. It poured down rain all day, and in the afternoon there was a furious storm; but Mrs. Maxwell is always in for a frolic, so we left home at eleven, between showers, and got to the Warrens’ just before the storm burst. General Graves, Mr. Baldwin, Joe Godfrey, Albert Bacon, and Jim Chiles were the only ones there besides Mrs. Maxwell and her guests. There is a fine lake in front of Mr. Warren’s house, but the weather gave us no opportunity for rowing. We dined at six, and it was so dark when we rose from the table that we had to start for home at once. Mrs. Warren insisted on our staying all night, but there was company invited to spend the evening at Gopher Hill, so off we went in the rain. We took a new road to avoid some bad mud holes in the old one, and as a matter of course, lost our way in the numerous blind roads that cross each other in every direction through the pine woods, and which are all just alike except that they lead to different places – or to no place at all. The night was very dark and it rained furiously, though the wind had lulled. The glare of the lightning was blinding and terrific peals of thunder rang through the woods. Every few yards there were trees blown across the road, and the Negro Mr. Warren had sent to guide us would have to grope about in the dark, hunting for some way around them. At last he confessed that he had lost his way, and then I fell back in a corner of the phaeton and began to say my prayers. As there was nothing else to do, we concluded to follow the blind path we were in, hoping it would lead somewhere. It did lead us with a vengeance, through ponds and bogs and dismal swamps where the frogs filled our ears with unearthly noises. But all things have an end, even piney woods byroads, and at last we came out upon a broad smooth highway, which the guide recognized as the one he was looking for. Our troubles were now over, and in a short time we were back at Gopher Hill. Though it was very late, we began to dance and enjoy ourselves in a fashion, but everybody seemed to be more or less out of humor, for before we went to bed, I was made the confidante of four lovers’ quarrels.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

March 10– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “At the late special meeting of the Massachusetts Historical Society commemorative of Edward Everett, the Rev. R.S. Waterston read the following interesting communication from Mr. Whittier, who, only a few weeks previous, had been associated as colleague with Mr. Everett in the Electoral College of this State. Mr. Waterston introduced the letter with the words of Dr. Channing, who said of Mr. Whittier more than a quarter of a century ago, ‘His poetry bursts from the soul with the fire and energy of an ancient prophet, and his noble simplicity of character is the delight of all who know him.’ . . . ‘When I last met him, as my colleague in the Electoral College of Massachusetts, his look of health and vigor seemed to promise us many years of his wisdom and usefulness. On greeting him I felt impelled to express my admiration and grateful appreciation of his patriotic labors, and I shall never forget how readily and gracefully he turned attention from himself to the great cause in which we had a common interest, and expressed his thankfulness that he had still a country to serve. To keep green the memory of such a man is at once a privilege and a duty. That stainless life of seventy years is a priceless legacy. His hands were pure. The shadow of suspicion never fell on him. If he erred in his opinions (and that he did so, he had the Christian grace and courage to own), no selfish interest weighed in the scale of his judgment against truth.’” ~ The Liberator.

Edward Everett

Edward Everett

March 10– Friday– New York City– “The rebel hosts continue to be seriously drained by desertion. Not less than fifty deserters have taken refuge within Grant’s lines every day for many weeks past, and their average number is probably nearer one hundred than fifty. . . . All tell the same story of compulsory service, hardships, failure of pay and of clothing and of rations, and of general despondency.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

March 10– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “Raining and cold. This is the day appointed by the government for prayer, fasting, etc.; and the departments, shops, etc. are closed. The people, notwithstanding the bad weather, pretty generally proceeded to the churches, which will be open morning, noon, and night, for it is a solemn occasion, and thousands will supplicate Almighty God to be pleased to look upon us with compassion, and aid us, in this hour of extremity, to resist the endeavors of our enemies to reduce us to bondage.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

March 10– Friday– Petersburg, Virginia– “I have but a few minutes in which to write and I’m writing by a very dim fire light. I don’t expect you can read it but I will write a few lines. I wrote toyou some few days since . . . . I don’t suppose you will ever get them. We are now on the line between the James & the Appomattox rivers. We occupy the position formerly held by Picket’s Division. We are very well situated. Although we can see the Yanks (about a thousand yards off) we do not expect an engagement. We may, however, be subject to a shelling occasionally. I will try and take care of myself. My light is about out so I must close. Love to all.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee Maggie Cone.

March 10– Friday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “What think you we did yesterday? We had a ‘Matinee Musicale,’ at the Chapel of the 50th New York Engineers. Nothing but high-toned amusements, now-a-day, you will perceive. In truth I was very glad to go to it, as good music always gives me pleasure. The band was the noted one of the New Jersey brigade, and consisted of over thirty pieces. . . . There was a large assemblage of the fashion and nobility of the environs of Petersburg, though most of the first families of Virginia were unavoidably detained in the city. We had a batch of ladies, who, by the way, seem suddenly to have gone mad on visiting this army. No petticoat is allowed to stay within our lines, but they run up from City Point and return in the afternoon. Poor little Mrs. Webb accompanied the General to our monkish encampment and tried, in a winning way, to hint to General Meade that she ought to remain a day or two; but the Chief, though of a tender disposition towards the opposite sex, hath a god higher than a hooped skirt, to wit, orders, and his hooked nose became as a polite bit of flint unto any such propositions. And so, poor little Mrs. Webb, afore said, had to bid her Andrew adieu.” ~ Letter from Union officer Theodore Lyman to his wife Elizabeth.

Theodore Lyman

Theodore Lyman

March 10– Friday– Lincolnton, North Carolina– “Went to church crying to Ellen, ‘It is Lent, we must fast and pray.’ When I came home my good fairy, Colonel Childs, had been here bringing rice and potatoes, and promising flour. He is a trump. He pulled out his pocket-book and offered to be my banker. He stood there on the street, Miss Middleton and Isabella witnessing the generous action, and straight out offered me money. ‘No, put up that,’ said I. ‘I am not a beggar, and I never will be; to die is so much easier.’ Alas, after that flourish of trumpets, when he came with a sack of flour, I accepted it gratefully. I receive things I can not pay for, but money is different. There I draw a line, imaginary perhaps. Once before the same thing happened. Our letters of credit came slowly in 1845, when we went unexpectedly to Europe and our letters [of credit] were to follow us. I was a poor little, inoffensive bride, and a British officer, who guessed our embarrassment, for we did not tell him (he came over with us on the ship), asked my husband to draw on his banker until the letters of credit should arrive. It was a nice thing for a stranger to do.” ~ Diary of Mary Chesnut.

March 10– Friday– Bolivar, Tennessee– “To-day was the day appointed by our President [Jefferson Davis] as a day of fasting and prayer. I for one observed it, though perhaps not with the right spirit. All the animosity which formerly existed (but which we had hoped had completely died out) between the Presbyterian and Episcopalian churches seems with the last few days to have been revived. Everybody is talking of the church some think one some the other. Everybody is commenting on a book which the Episcopalian Minister is circulating by the name of ‘A Presbyterian Minister in search of The Church’ which our pastor pronounced (also any good sensed person) a collection of falsehoods to deceive the ignorant. There is a class of young ladies who intend being confirmed, and this book is given preparatory to confirmation. How wrong to cultivate feeling so injurious to the cause of Christ and so unchristian like in their bearing, instead of cultivating feelings of goodwill toward all men in imitation of our gentle Jesus. The apple of discord has now been thrown among us. Father is divided against Son, Mother against daughter, all ties of Christian affection completely and perhaps forever surrendered. . . . Yankees reported in eight miles of town this morning. At LaGrange this evening, also at Salisbury, I believe.” ~ Diary of Sally Wendel Fentress.

civil-war-fashion-Paris-March 1865

March 10– Friday– Gopher Hill, Georgia– “A day of public fasting and prayer for our poor country, but there was little of either done at Gopher Hill. We had a late breakfast after our night’s dissipation, and soon after, Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Bacon came over and played cards till dinner-time. After dinner the gentlemen proposed a row on the lake, but Mrs. Maxwell and I were the only ones that had fasted and we wouldn’t indulge in a frolic, and the others said they were afraid they might be drowned for their sins if they ventured on the water, so we drove to the station instead. We were too late to meet the train, but heard plenty of news. A tornado passed over the Flat Pond plantation yesterday, destroying every house on it and killing fifteen Negroes; a schoolhouse was blown down and several children killed; on one plantation all the poultry was drowned, and two calves blown away and never came down again! So much for marvels. But the whole country between Wooten’s and Gopher Hill is really flooded. One bridge that we crossed was entirely under water and seemed ready to give way and go down stream at any moment. Jimmy caught a gopher in the road on our way home, and we saw rows of them sitting on logs in the swamps, as if they were having a prayer-meeting.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

March 10– Friday– Beijing, China– Birth of Tan Sitong, politician and reformist leader. [Executed by the imperial government September 28, 1898.]

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.

Fighting Can Never End This War ~ February 1865 ~ 23rd to 24th

Fighting Can Never End this War ~ the Georgia state legislature

federal ambulances

Continuing with a veiled degree of animosity toward the government in Richmond, the Georgia legislature calls for a negotiated settlement to end the war and reaffirms the doctrine of states’ rights. The Confederate Congress defeats the bill to enlist slaves in the Confederate army. In Missouri the new governor outlines a peaceful and prosperous future and calls for an end to party politics. George Whitman is free and arrives in Union territory.


February 23– Thursday– St Paul, Minnesota– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 23– Thursday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “Yesterday was [George] Washington’s birthday and we celebrated in fine style.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

February 23– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “It is rather mortifying to the people of Virginia to find that Mr. Joseph Segar, their representative to the United States Senate, has been denied a seat in that august body by a very decisive vote taken upon his ‘credentials.’ The rejection appears to be based upon the fact that Virginia is ‘a State in armed rebellion’– a little circumstance that probably Mr. Segar, in his hurry to take the boat for [ Washington ] had overlooked. Mr. Charles Sumner, a citizen of Massachusetts, who is more fortunate than Mr. Segar in occupying a seat in the Federal Senate, took a very sensible view of the matter. He could not see– what nobody else can see– the propriety of a Virginia representative in a Yankee Senate. He said: ‘It will be the duty of the committee to consider, in the first place, whether a State in armed rebellion, like Virginia, can have Senators on this floor. That is a great question — constitutional, political and practical. It will be their duty, then, in the second place, to inquire whether the gentleman whose credentials have been presented has been chosen legally, under the Constitution of the United States, by any State. I do not intend to prejudge either of these questions. I simply offer them for the consideration of the Senate; but I do insist that a measure of this importance shall not be acted on without due consideration or in absolute indifference to those facts which now stare us in the face, glaring upon us every day in every newspaper that we read. You cannot be insensible to facts. It is in vain that Senators say that Virginia, now at war against the Union, is entitled to representation on this floor, when you have before you the inexorable fact that the greater part of the State is at this moment in the possession of an armed rebellion– when you have before you the other fact, filling almost all the newspapers in the land, that the body of men who have undertaken to send a Senator to Congress are a little more than the Common Council of Alexandria. And you have that question distinctly presented to you whether a representative of the Common Council of Alexandria is to enter this chamber and share the same powers and privileges with my honorable friends, the Senators from New York and Pennsylvania. I merely open these points without now undertaking to decide, and simply as an unanswerable argument in favor of the reference to the committee.’” ~ Richmond Daily Dispatch. [Segar, 1804 to 1880, a lawyer and state politician from Hampton, Virginia, had remained loyal to the Union but the investigating committee will deny him permission to be seated in the U S Senate.]

Joseph Segar

Joseph Segar

February 23– Thursday– Macon, Georgia– “Whereas, It is believed that a majority of the people of Georgia desire that a Convention be called to consider the condition of the country and to devise ways and to initiate measures which will result in opening negotiations, by which an honorable peace may be obtained between the Confederate States and the United States, Resolved 1st, That in the opinion of this General Assembly that, with the resources of the Confederate States, it is in their power to prolong this war for an indefinite number of years, and that the State of Georgia ought to, and will, reject the late ultimatum of President Lincoln to the Commissioners of the Confederate States. That whilst this is our stern determination, yet we believe that if the subject is approached in the proper spirit by negotiations, peace may be obtained. If, however, we shall fail, we will have the proud satisfaction of knowing that we have exhausted the argument, and the people of the State of Georgia will stand united as one man prepared to win by our arms the just measures of our rights, or fill patriots’ graves. Resolved 2nd, That this General Assembly pledges the entire resources of the State for the prosecution of the war until an honorable peace can be obtained; but in our opinion fighting can never end this war, and we desire to withdraw as far as practicable the questions at issue from the arbitrament of the sword, and refer the same to the umpire of reason. With a view to this end, Resolved 3rd, That an election for delegates to a Convention be held on the 20th day of March next, which Convention shall assemble at Macon on the 15th day of April next. That each county shall be entitled to send two delegates. That each voter shall endorse on his ticket Convention or No Convention If a majority of the voters shall say No Convention, then said Convention shall not be held, but if a majority shall endorse Convention, then said Convention shall assemble at the time and place hereinbefore stated. That in those counties having no mail or railroad facilities, it shall be the duty of the Justices of the Inferior Courts to forward the returns by special couriers, and it shall be the duty of the Governor to make the result known by proclamation so soon as the result is ascertained.” ~ Resolutions passed by the Georgia state legislature.

infantry charge

February 24– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “The new Governor of Missouri, Thomas C. Fletcher, is the man for the times. We have read with intense interest and complete satisfaction his inaugural Message, delivered on the 2nd of January. It as of the true radical grit, and thoroughly loyal, of course. A radical hater of slavery is, from the very nature of things, loyal, and a radical hater of slavery-engendered rebellion. With the incoming of the new State Administration at the head of which stands Governor Fletcher, a near era of prosperity, happiness, and honor for Missouri has commenced. We like the Governor’s Inaugural so well, that we cannot forbear letting our readers have the privilege of sharing in our satisfaction by perusing the following passage, which is all aglow with the holy enthusiasm of Liberty: ‘In the name of Truth, of Justice, of Freedom, and of Progress, God has permitted us a political triumph, bringing with it toe solemn responsibility of promoting those great principles by an enforcement of the fundamental law for securing the peace, happiness and prosperity of the people of the State. Through the blood and fire of a civil war, we have attained to a new era, effulgent with the glory of the decree of the people, In their sovereign capacity, emancipating themselves from servitude to principles and policies which have weighed down their energies, opposed barriers to their progress, and armed the hand of treason for shedding of patriot blood. . . . Let it be announced that, in the new era which has come, ours is to be the first of States, with the largest freedom and the widest charities. Let ours be a State where, with the administration of inflexible justice, the abandonment of mere partyisms, and the domination of industrial politics, all the advancements of statute law progress towards combining labor and capital, rather than placing them in the cruel antagonisms of the past; where the light of hope is shut out by the fundamental law from no human being, of whatever race, creed or color, but where a free people heeding the stroke of inevitable destiny on the horology of time in the great crisis of changeful progress guards the right of permitting the position and privileges of every man to be such as his virtues, talents, education, patriotism, enterprise, industry, courage or achievements may confer upon him. The victorious armies of the Republic are with deadly thrusts piercing the enemy on every side. The giant rebellion, bleeding at every pore, begins to reel and faint. Our Sherman, with his veteran braves, stands on the ocean’s beach, gazes back at the last deep mortal wound inflicted, and awaits only to see if another is necessary. The legions of Grant, Butler, Sheridan, Thomas and Canby are rushing on to complete the work; the coming spring time will bring the final blow, and amid the battle cry of freedom, the death of rebellion will be consummated, and blessed peace once more breathe its benisons over the land.’” ~ The Liberator. [Fletcher, age 38, Missouri-born, is a lawyer and Union officer. Because of his distinguished military service, the Republicans nominated him for governor, which he won by a large majority. He serves as governor from January, 1865 to January, 1869. Eventually, he will move to Washington, D.C. to practice law and dies there March 15, 1899.]

Thomas C. Fletcher, Governor of Missouri

Thomas C. Fletcher, Governor of Missouri

February 24– Friday– Anapolis, Maryland– “I arrived here yesterday from the Hotel De Libby [Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia] and if ever a poor devil was glad to get in a Christian Country it was me. I am perfectly well Mother although I am in the Hospital Buildings, and am not under Medical treatment. The reason that I am quartered here is that the Hotels and Boarding Houses in town are crammed full, I stay here for one dollar and a half a day while the Hotels charge three or four dollars and we are just as comfortable as I want to be. I drew 2 months pay to day and bought a new suit of clothes and now I feel something like a white man. I made an application this morning for a leave of absence for 30 days and I expect to be home in the course of 3 or 4 days. We left Danville on the 19th of this Month and stopped in Richmond until the morning of the 22nd. On our arrival at Richmond I found 2 boxes filled with Clothing and grub for me and the way we went into the eatables while we were in Libby was a caution. Mother I am very anxious indeed to hear from you all and wish you get to write or Telegraph to me (as soon (as you get this) as possibly I may get it if you write before I leave here. I have lots of yarns to tell you Mother but will wait until I get home as I can’t do justice to the darn Rebs, in a letter. You cant imagine how I want to see you and Mattie and the children and all the rest.” ~ Letter from George Whitman to his mother Louisa.

Louisa Whitman

Louisa Whitman

February 24– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “Rained all day yesterday; cloudy and cool this morning. We have no news– only rumors that Wilmington has been abandoned . . . . Yesterday the Senate voted down the bill to put 200,000 Negroes in the army. The papers to-day contain a letter from General Lee, advocating the measure as a necessity. Mr. Hunter’s vote defeated it. He has many Negroes, and will probably lose them; but the loss of popularity, and fear of forfeiting all chance of the succession, may have operated on him as a politician. What madness!” ~ Diary of John Jones.

February 24– Friday– Charlotte, North Carolina– “The fact is my darling we are retreating without fighting & Sherman is, in fact now marching through South Carolina as easily as he did through Georgia. I rejoined the command on Monday as I told you I would. & the next day threw up breastworks for the protection of Columbia. Kept in the ditches that night raining & freezing as it fell. All next day Wednesday was occupied in strengthening our works, we were on the right. Some skirmishing all day on the left. Sherman to save ammunition would not press on but moved up across the Saluda river, thereby causing us to fall back across the Congarce which was done Wednesday night & the long bridge burned. Thursday the Yankees kept moving up the river all day in plain view from Columbia. Slight skirmishing was kept up all day across the river. The Yankees very sparing of ammunition could not resist the temptation of firing a few shells at the new capitol 3 of which struck the end towards the river defacing it very little. All knew the place was to be evacuated the next morning & the stores were rapidly being plundered by soldiers & citizens. Words cannot describe my feelings at seeing Ladies and children running about wild with excitement & fear, ringing their hands & crying. There was not a man but gripped his sabre tighter & felt more than ever determined never to give up this struggle till liberty or death be our lot. Friday night the Yankees destroyed by fire 3/4 of the city. Prisoners say it was accidental but we can believe as much of that as we please.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Barrington King to his wife Bessie.

federal canon

February 24– Friday– Macon, Georgia– “The General Assembly of the State of Georgia do Resolve, 1. That the independence of the Confederate States of America, as based upon the constitutional compact between the sovereign States composing the Confederacy, and maintained through nearly four years of gigantic war, justly claims from their former associates and from the world, its recognition as a rightful fact. 2. That all the States which composed the late American Union, as well those embraced within the present United States as those embraced within the Southern Confederacy, are what the original thirteen States were declared to be by their common ancestors of 1776 and acknowledged to be by George the Third, of England independent and sovereign States: not as one political community, but as States, each one of them constituting such a people as have the inalienable right to terminate any government of their former choice by withdrawing from it their consent; just as the original thirteen States through their common agent acting for, and in the name of each of one them, by the withdrawal of their consent, put a rightful termination to the British government which had been established over them with their perfect consent and free choice. 3. Resolved, That in the judgment of this General Assembly the sovereignty of the individual and several States is the only basis upon which permanent peace between the States now at war with each other can be established consistently with the preservation of constitutional liberty; and that the recognition of this principle, if the voice of passion and war can once be hushed, and reason be allowed to resume her sway, will lead to an easy and lasting solution of all matters of controversy involved in the present unnatural war, by simply leaving all the States free to form their political associations with one another, not by force of arms which excludes the idea of consent, but by a rational consideration of their respective interests, growing out of their condition, resources and situation. 4. Resolved, That we do spurn with indignation the terms on which the President of the United States has proposed peace to the people of the Confederate States; and that Georgia pledges herself to her sister States to use constitutionally all the resources which Providence has placed in her power for the maintenance of the principles herein announced, the security of our rights and in maintaining the independence and sovereignty of these States. 5. Resolved, That whilst we spurn with indignation the terms on which the President of the United States has offered peace to the people of the Confederate States; and whilst Georgia renews her pledges to use constitutionally her resources for the attainment of an honorable peace upon the principles herein laid down; we appeal from the terms offered by President Lincoln to the reason and justice of all friends of constitutional liberty wherever found. And that we echo a hearty response to the proposition for an armistice and the withdrawal of the decision of this question from the arbitrament of the sword to the forum of reason and justice. 6. Resolved, That the freedom with which President Davis has received even unofficial Commissioners from the United States, his ready response to unofficial invitations to send Commissioners, the wise and discreet choice of persons made by him commands our highest admiration and is proof conclusive of an honest and sincere desire to withdraw the decision of the questions involved, from the arbitrament of the sword to the forum of reason and justice. 7. Resolved, That our profoundest gratitude is due to our soldiers who on many a bloody battle-field have illustrated their State by deeds of heroic valor, and that while we look to them with pride and confidence we will see that their efforts are generously sustained and that the amplest resources of the State are applied for the support and comfort of their families at home. 8. Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be forwarded by His Excellency the Governor to the President of the Confederate States, to our Senators and Representatives in the Confederate Congress, and to the Governors of the several independent States.”

Joseph E. Brown, Governor of Georgia

Joseph E. Brown, Governor of Georgia

February 24– Friday– Dooly County, Georgia– “Last evening I was most agreeable surprised by the reception of your most interesting letter of the 4th instant. Having heard that communications were cut off, I greatly feared a long time would elapse before I would again have the happy pleasure of hearing from you. I was almost afraid to expect a letter, lest I should be disappointed; but I’m truly glad my supposition was wrong, that Sherman had not accomplished that which he so much desires, and I so hope he may never be permitted to destroy effectually the communication. Well something else now. I’m truly glad you arrived safely in camps with your boxes. You certainly had a most disagreeable trip. Soldiers going from here won’t carry anything back for their friends, owing to the conditions of the roads. I know it must be very troublesome to carry boxes through, but of course one hates to refuse knowing how much they appreciate such a favor from others. The people seem to very uneasy about the condition of General Lee’s army, lest it should suffer for provisions. We cannot hear any news from South Carolina whatever. The movements of the two armies are kept secret for some purpose. I hope Sherman will get a good whipping whenever he makes an attack.” ~ Letter from Maggie Cone to Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer, her fiancé.

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

Invoking the Favor and Guidance of Almighty God ~ Jeff Davis

campaign map-6232

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.


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.


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