Tag Archives: Lincoln’s Cabinet

August 17 to 31 ~ Election Year 1864

Woman making American Flag

In the midst of his bid for re-election, President Lincoln must deal with divisions within his own party, hostility from those who favor peace, an opposition candidate who is a general in the Union Army, handling diplomacy, encouraging immigration and citizen peace initiatives. Quietly he considers the possibility of losing the election, while encouraging Generals Grant and Sherman and receiving a great victory from the Union Navy.

August 17– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “I am sadly oppressed with the aspect of things. Have just read the account of the interview at Richmond between Jaquess and Gilmore on one side and Jeff Davis and Benjamin on the other. What business had these fellows with such a subject? Davis asserts an ultimatum that is inadmissible, and the President in his note, which appears to me not as considerate and well-advised as it should have been, interposes barriers that were unnecessary. Why should we impose conditions, and conditions which would provoke strife from the very nature of things, for they conflict with constitutional reserved rights? If the Rebellion is suppressed in Tennessee or North Carolina, and the States and people desire to resume their original constitutional rights, shall the President prevent them? Yet the letters to Greeley have that bearing, and I think them unfortunate in this respect. They place the President, moreover, at disadvantage in the coming election. He is committed, it will be claimed, against peace, except on terms that are inadmissible. What necessity was there for this, and, really, what right had the President to assume this unfortunate attitude without consulting his Cabinet, at least, or others?” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.


Gideon Welles


August 18– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “I beg of you, as citizens of this great Republic, not to let your minds be carried off from the great work we have before us. This struggle is too large for you to be diverted from it by any small matter. When you return to your homes, rise up to the height of a generation of men worthy of a free government, and we will carry out the great work we have commenced. I return to you my sincere thanks, soldiers, for the honor you have done me this afternoon.” ~ Remarks of President Lincoln to Union soldiers from Ohio who are returning home.

August 18– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– Leonard Swett meets with President Lincoln, cautioning him that it is doubtful that he can win reelection and suggesting that Lincoln withdraw his acceptance of the nomination. He informs the President that elements of the Republican Party plan to hold a another convention in September and nominate someone else. Lincoln refuses, telling Swett, “I confess that I desire to be reelected.” Later in the day, Lincoln tells another visitor, “I have the common pride of humanity to wish my past four years administration endorsed; and besides I honestly believe that I can better serve the nation in its need and peril than any new man could possibly do.” [Swett, 1825– 1899, a lawyer from Illinois, has been a confidant and friend of Lincoln for many years.]

August 19– Friday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln meets with the abolitionist Frederick Douglass at the White House. They discuss ways to help slaves escape and how to increase black enlistment in the army and navy.


Frederick Douglass


August 22– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “I suppose you are going home to see your families and friends. For the services you have done in this great struggle in which we are engaged, I present you sincere thanks for myself and the country. I almost always feel inclined, when I say anything to soldiers, to impress upon them, in a few brief remarks, the importance of success in this contest. It is not merely for the day, but for all time to come, that we should perpetuate for our children’s children that great and free government which we have enjoyed all our lives. I beg you to remember this, not merely for my sake, but for yours. I happen, temporarily, to occupy this big White House. I am a living witness that any one of your children may look to come here as my father’s child has. It is in order that each one of you may have, through this free government which we have enjoyed, an open field, and a fair chance for your industry, enterprise, and intelligence; that you may all have equal privileges in the race of life with all its desirable human aspirations–it is for this that the struggle should be maintained, that we may not lose our birthrights– not only for one, but for two or three years, if necessary. The nation is worth fighting for, to secure such an inestimable jewel.” ~ Remarks of President Lincoln to the 166th Ohio Regiment.

August 22– Monday– Geneva, Switzerland– A number of European states sign the First Geneva Convention. They include Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Prussia, Spain and Switzerland. The Convention provides for: the immunity from capture and destruction of all establishments for the treatment of wounded and sick soldiers, the impartial reception and treatment of all combatants, the protection of civilians providing aid to the wounded, and the recognition of the Red Cross symbol as a means of identifying persons and equipment covered by the agreement.

August 23– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so co-operate with the President-elect as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he cannot possibly save it afterward.” ~ Secret memorandum drafted by President Lincoln which he asks the members of his Cabinet to sign without reading it.


August 23– Tuesday– Mobile, Alabama– After heavy bombardment from Federal forces on land and sea, Fort Morgan, the last Confederate fortification guarding the entrance to Mobile Bay, falls to Union control. While the Confederates control the city itself, the harbor is closed to traffic and controlled by Federal forces. This leaves only Wilmington, North Carolina, as the only port useful to the Confederacy.

August 25– Thursday– New York City– “The peace faction grows more and more rampant and truculent. I predict that Belmont and Barlow will manipulate the Chicago convention into nominating McClellan on a non-committal platform, and that if elected, he will betray the country.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

August 25– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– Henry Raymond, editor of the New York Times, meets with President Lincoln at the White House. The President assures Raymond that ending slavery is non-negotiable.

August 25– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “The Democrats hold a party nominating convention next Monday at Chicago, which is naturally attracting a good deal of attention. There is a palpable effort to give eclat, and spread abroad a factitious power for this assemblage in advance. To this the Administration journals, and particularly those of New York, have conduced. I do not think that anything serious is to be apprehended from that convention, if Seward can keep quiet; but his management, which is mismanagement, and his shrewdness, which is frequently untowardness, will ever endanger a cause.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

August 27– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “Much party machinery is just at this time in motion. No small portion of it is a prostitution and abuse. The Whig element is venal and corrupt, to a great extent. I speak of the leaders of that party now associated with Republicans. They seem to have very little political principle; they have no belief in public virtue or popular intelligence; they have no self-reliance, no confidence in the strength of a righteous cause, little regard for constitutional restraint and limitations. Their politics and their ideas of government consist of expedients, and cunning management with the intelligent, and coercion and subornation of the less informed.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.August 29– Monday– Rochester, New York– “That every slave who escapes from the Rebel states is a loss to the Rebellion and a gain to the Loyal Cause, I need not stop to argue the proposition is self evident. . . . I will therefore briefly submit at once to your Excellency the ways and means by which many such persons may be wrested from the enemy and brought within our lines: . . . 4th Let provision be made that the slaves or Freed men thus brought within our lines shall receive subsistence until such of them as are fit shall enter the service of the Country or be otherwise employed and provided for; . . . . This is but an imperfect outline of the plan but I think it enough to give your Excellency an Idea of how the desirable work shall be executed.” ~ following up on the meeting of the 19th Frederick Douglass submits to President Lincoln a plan to aid slaves escape from the South.

August 29– Monday– Chicago, Illinois– The Democratic National Convention opens with a speech by Mr August Belmont. Belmont, a wealthy businessman and Democratic politician, age 50, declares, “Four years of misrule, by a sectional, fanatical and corrupt party, have brought our country to the very verge of ruin. The past and present are sufficient warnings of the disastrous consequences which would befall us if Mr Lincoln’s re-election should be made possible by our want of patriotism and unity.”

August 30– Tuesday– Chicago, Illinois– “Resolved, That in the future, as in the past, we will adhere with unswerving fidelity to the Union under the Constitution as the only solid foundation of our strength, security, and happiness as a people, and as a framework of government equally conducive to the welfare and prosperity of all the States, both Northern and Southern. Resolved, That this convention does explicitly declare, as the sense of the American people, that after four years of failure to restore the Union by the experiment of war, during which . . . the Constitution itself has been disregarded in every part, and public liberty and private right alike trodden down, and the material prosperity of the country essentially impaired, justice, humanity, liberty, and the public welfare demand that immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities, with a view of an ultimate convention of the States, or other peaceable means, to the end that, at the earliest practicable moment, peace may be restored on the basis of the Federal Union of the States. . . . Resolved, That the aim and object of the Democratic party is to preserve the Federal Union and the rights of the States unimpaired . . . . Resolved, That the shameful disregard of the Administration to its duty in respect to our fellow-citizens who now are and long have been prisoners of war and in a suffering condition, deserves the severest reprobation on the score alike of public policy and common humanity. Resolved, That the sympathy of the Democratic party is heartily and earnestly extended to the soldiery of our army and sailors of our navy, who are and have been in the field and on the sea under the flag of our country, and, in the events of its attaining power, they will receive all the care, protection, and regard that the brave soldiers and sailors of the republic have so nobly earned.” ~ Platform of the Democratic Party adopted in convention.


street fight between Lincoln & McClellan supporters


August 31– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “General McClellan was to-day nominated as the candidate of the so-called Democratic party. It has for some days been evident that it was a foregone conclusion and the best and only nomination the opposition could make. . . . That factious, narrow, faultfinding illiberality of radicals in Congress which has disgraced the press ostensibly of the Administration party, particularly the press of New York City, has given strength to their opponents. McClellan will be supported by War Democrats and Peace Democrats, by men of every shade and opinion ; all discordant elements will be made to harmonize, and all differences will be suppressed. Whether certain Republican leaders in Congress, who have been assailing and deceiving the Administration, and the faultfinding journals of New York have, or will, become conscious of their folly, we shall soon know. They have done all that was in their power to destroy confidence in the President and injure those with whom they were associated. If, therefore, the reelection of Mr. Lincoln is not defeated, it will not be owing to them. In some respects I think the President, though usually shrewd and sensible, has mismanaged. His mistakes, I think, are attributable to Mr. Seward almost exclusively. It has been a misfortune to retain Stanton . . . . the President is honest, sincere, and confiding, traits which are not so prominent in some by whom he is surrounded.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.


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.

Murder Most Foul ~ April 14 and 15, 1865

Murder Most Foul!


As I have studied over the course of almost three decades the roots and causes of the Civil War, the people and events of that fratricidal conflict, and the people and events of the decades after the war, I am more and more convinced that the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln was the most evil and heinous crime in American history. By killing the President, John Wilkes Booth did grievous harm to the United States as a whole and the South in particular. Had Lincoln lived to complete his second term he would have led the country on a far better path, as outlined in his passionate Second Inaugural, than Andrew Johnson did. His absence hurt the reconciliation between North and South and left open the door to many wrongs against African Americans. In my mind Booth is far and away the worst criminal in American history. If Dante’s Inferno exists, Booth would be one of history’s greatest traitors being chewed eternally in the mouth of Satan. Herein follows a description from an eye witness to the tragedy.

Gideon Welles

Gideon Welles

From the diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy:

“‘I had,’ the President remarked, ‘this strange dream again last night, and we shall, judging from the past, have great news very soon. I think it must be from Sherman. My thoughts are in that direction, as are most of yours.”

I write this conversation three days after it occurred, in consequence of what took place Friday night, and but for which the mention of this dream would probably have never been noted. Great events did, indeed, follow, for within a few hours the good and gentle, as well as truly great, man who narrated his dream closed forever his earthly career.

I had retired to bed about half past-ten on the evening of the 14th of April, and was just getting asleep when Mrs. Welles, my wife, said some one was at our door. Sitting up in bed, I heard a voice twice call to John, my son, whose sleeping-room was on the second floor directly over the front entrance. I arose at once and raised a window, when my messenger, James Smith, called to me that Mr. Lincoln, the President, had been shot, and said Secretary Seward and his son, Assistant Secretary Frederick Seward, were assassinated. James was much alarmed and excited. I told him his story was very incoherent and improbable, that he was associating men who were not together and liable to attack at the same time. ‘Where,’I inquired, ‘was the President when shot?’ James said he was at Ford’s Theatre on 10th Street. ‘Well,’ said I, ‘Secretary Seward is an invalid in bed in his house yonder on 15th Street.’ James said he had been there, stopped in at the house to make inquiry before alarming me.

Lincoln's rocking chair in which he sat at the theater

Lincoln’s rocking chair in which he sat at the theater

I immediately dressed myself, and, against the earnest remonstrance and appeals of my wife, went directly to Mr. Seward’s, whose residence was on the east side of the square, mine being on the north. James accompanied me. As we were crossing 15th Street, I saw four or five men in earnest consultation, standing under the lamp on the corner by St. John’s Church. Before I had got half across the street, the lamp was suddenly extinguished and the knot of persons rapidly dispersed. For a moment and but a moment I was disconcerted to find myself in darkness, but, recollecting that it was late and about time for the moon to rise, I proceeded on, not having lost five steps, merely making a pause without stopping. Hurrying forward into 15th Street, I found it pretty full of people, especially so near the residence of Secretary Seward, where there were many soldiers as well as citizens already gathered. Entering the house, I found the lower hall and office full of persons, and among them most of the foreign legations, all anxiously inquiring what truth there was in the horrible rumors afloat. I replied that my object was to ascertain the facts. Proceeding through the hall to the stairs, I found one, and I think two, of the servants there holding the crowd in check. The servants were frightened and appeared relieved to see me. I hastily asked what truth there was in the story that an assassin or assassins had entered the house and assaulted the Secretary. They said it was true, and that Mr. Frederick was also badly injured. They wished me to go up, but no others. At the head of the first stairs I met the elder Mrs. Seward, who was scarcely able to speak but desired me to proceed up to Mr. Seward’s room. I met Mrs. Frederick Seward on the third story, who, although in extreme distress, was, under the circumstances, exceedingly composed. I asked for the Secretary’s room, which she pointed out, the southwest room. As I entered, I met Miss Fanny Seward, with whom I exchanged a single word, and proceeded to the foot of the bed. Dr. Verdi and, I think, two others were there. The bed was saturated with blood. The Secretary was lying on his back, the upper part of his head covered by a cloth, which extended down over his eyes. His mouth was open, the lower jaw dropping down. I exchanged a few whispered words with Dr. Verdi. Secretary Stanton, who came after but almost simultaneously with me, made inquiries in a louder tone till admonished by a word from one of the physicians. We almost immediately withdrew and went into the adjoining front room, where lay Frederick Seward. His eyes were open but he did not move them, nor a limb, nor did he speak. Doctor White, who was in attendance, told me he was unconscious and more dangerously injured than his father.

Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War

Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War

As we descended the stairs, I asked Stanton what he had heard in regard to the President that was reliable. He said the President was shot at Ford’s Theatre, that he had seen a man who was present and witnessed the occurrence. I said I would go immediately to the White House. Stanton told me the President was not there but was at the theatre. ‘Then,’ said I, ‘let us go immediately there.’He said that was his intention, and asked me, if I had not a carriage, to go with him. In the lower hall we met General Meigs,  whom he requested to take charge of the house, and to clear out all who did not belong there. General Meigs begged Stanton not to go down to 10th Street; others also remonstrated against our going. Stanton, I thought, hesitated. Hurrying forward, I remarked that I should go immediately, and I thought it his duty also. He said he should certainly go, but the remonstrants increased and gathered round him. I said we were wasting time, and, pressing through the crowd, entered the carriage and urged Stanton, who was detained by others after he had placed his foot on the step. I was impatient. Stanton, as soon as he had seated himself, turned round, rose partly, and said the carriage was not his. I said that was no objection. He invited Meigs to go with us, and Judge Cartter of the Supreme Court mounted with the driver. At this moment Major Eckert rode up on horseback beside the carriage and protested vehemently against Stanton’s going to 10th Street; said he had just come from there, that there were thousands of people of all sorts there, and he considered it very unsafe for the Secretary of War to expose himself. I replied that I knew not where he would be more safe, and that the duty of both of us was to attend the President immediately. Stanton concurred. Meigs called to some soldiers to go with us, and there was one on each side of the carriage. The streets were full of people. Not only the sidewalk but the carriage-way was to some extent occupied, all or nearly all hurrying towards 10th Street. When we entered that street we found it pretty closely packed.

The President had been carried across the street from the theatre, to the house of a Mr. Peterson. We entered by ascending a flight of steps above the basement and passing through a long hall to the rear, where the President lay extended on a bed, breathing heavily. Several surgeons were present, at least six, I should think more. Among them I was glad to observe Dr. Hall, who, however, soon left. I inquired of Dr. Hall, as I entered, the true condition of the President. He replied the President was dead to all intents, although he might live three hours or perhaps longer.

Lincoln on his death bed

Lincoln on his death bed

The giant sufferer lay extended diagonally across the bed, which was not long enough for him. He had been stripped of his clothes. His large arms, which were occasionally exposed, were of a size which one would scarce have expected from his spare appearance. His slow, full respiration lifted the clothes with each breath that he took. His features were calm and striking. I had never seen them appear to better advantage than for the first hour, perhaps, that I was there. After that, his right eye began to swell and that part of his face became discolored.

Senator Sumner was there, I think, when I entered. If not he came in soon after, as did Speaker Colfax, Mr. Secretary McCulloch, and the other members of the Cabinet, with the exception of Mr. Seward. A double guard was stationed at the door and on the sidewalk, to repress the crowd, which was of course highly excited and anxious. The room was small and overcrowded. The surgeons and members of the Cabinet were as many as should have been in the room, but there were many more, and the hall and other rooms in the front or main house were full. One of these rooms was occupied by Mrs. Lincoln and her attendants, with Miss Harris. Mrs. Dixon and Mrs. Kinney came to her about twelve o’clock. About once an hour Mrs. Lincoln would repair to the bedside of her dying husband and with lamentation and tears remain until overcome by emotion.

[April 15.] A door which opened upon a porch or gallery, and also the windows, were kept open for fresh air. The night was dark, cloudy, and damp, and about six it began to rain. I remained in the room until then without sitting or leaving it, when, there being a vacant chair which some one left at the foot of the bed, I occupied it for nearly two hours, listening to the heavy groans, and witnessing the wasting life of the good and great man who was expiring before me.

About 6 a.m. I experienced a feeling of faintness and for the first time after entering the room, a little past eleven, I left it and the house, and took a short walk in the open air. It was a dark and gloomy morning, and rain set in before I returned to the house, some fifteen minutes [later]. Large groups of people were gathered every few rods, all anxious and solicitous. Some one or more from each group stepped forward as I passed, to inquire into the condition of the President, and to ask if there was no hope. Intense grief was on every countenance when I replied that the President could survive but a short time. The colored people especially – and there were at this time more of them, perhaps, than of whites – were overwhelmed with grief.

Ford's Theater draped in black the next day

Ford’s Theater draped in black the next day

Returning to the house, I seated myself in the back parlor, where the Attorney-General and others had been engaged in taking evidence concerning the assassination. Stanton, and Speed, and Usher were there, the latter asleep on the bed. There were three or four others also in the room. While I did not feel inclined to sleep, as many did, I was somewhat indisposed. I had been so for several days. The excitement and bad atmosphere from the crowded rooms oppressed me physically.

A little before seven, I went into the room where the dying President was rapidly drawing near the closing moments. His wife soon after made her last visit to him. The death-struggle had begun. Robert, his son, stood with several others at the head of the bed. He bore himself well, but on two occasions gave way to overpowering grief and sobbed aloud, turning his head and leaning on the shoulder of Senator Sumner. The respiration of the President became suspended at intervals, and at last entirely ceased at twenty-two minutes past seven.

A prayer followed from Dr. Gurley; and the Cabinet, with the exception of Mr. Seward and Mr. McCulloch, immediately thereafter assembled in the back parlor, from which all other persons were excluded, and there signed a letter which was prepared by Attorney-General Speed to the Vice-President, informing him of the event, and that the government devolved upon him.”

President Andrew Johnson

President Andrew Johnson

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

Extreme Peril at this Moment

petersburg siege images

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

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

Mary Todd Lincoln

Mary Todd Lincoln

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

field hospital

field hospital

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

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

George Templeton Strong

George Templeton Strong

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

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

a salute to fallen comrades

a salute to fallen comrades

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

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

the River Queen

the River Queen

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

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

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

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

Everything Is Giving Way to the Union Forces ~ March 1865 ~ 15th to 18th

Everything Is Giving Way to the Union Forces.

Federal troops in the Carolinas

Federal troops in the Carolinas

Gideon Welles notes the progress of the Federal armies. The eloquence of President Lincoln draws some favorable comment. Representatives of women working in factories meet the President. In Richmond, President Davis chides the Confederate congress.

March 15– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Every one likes a compliment. Thank you for yours on my little notification speech and on the recent inaugural address. I expect the latter to wear as well as perhaps better than– anything I have produced; but I believe it is not immediately popular. Men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them. To deny it, however, in this case, is to deny that there is a God governing the world. It is a truth which I thought needed to be told, and, as whatever of humiliation there is in it falls most directly on myself, I thought others might afford for me to tell it.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln to Thurlow Weed.

Thurlow Weed

Thurlow Weed

March 15– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Having thus fully placed before you the information requisite to enable you to judge of the state of the country, the dangers to which we are exposed, and the measures of legislation needed for averting them, it remains for me but to invoke your attention to the consideration of those means by which, above all others, we may hope to escape the calamities that would result from our failure. Prominent, above all others, is the necessity for earnest and cordial co-operation between all departments of government, State and Confederate, and all eminent citizens throughout the Confederacy. To you especially, as Senators and Representatives, do the people look for encouragement and counsel. To your action, not only in legislative halls, but in your homes, will their eyes be turned for the example of what is befitting men who, by willing sacrifices on the altar of freedom, show that they are worthy to enjoy its blessings. I feel full confidence that you will concur with me in the conviction that your public duties will not be ended when you shall have closed the legislative labors of the session, but that your voice will be heard cheering and encouraging the people to that persistent fortitude which they have hitherto displayed, and animating them by the manifestation of that serene confidence which, in moments of public danger, is the distinctive characteristic of the patriot, who derives courage from his devotion to his country’s destiny, and is thus enabled to inspire the like courage in others. Thus united in a common and holy cause, rising above all selfish considerations, rendering all our means and faculties tributary to the country’s welfare, let us bow submissively to the Divine will, and reverently invoke the blessing of our Heavenly Father, that as He protected and guided our sires when struggling in a similar cause, so He will enable us to guard safely our altars and our firesides, and maintain inviolate the political rights which we inherited.” ~ Message from President Davis to Congress, reprinted in today’s Richmond Times Dispatch.

Henry Wirz, commandant at Andersonville prison

Henry Wirz, commandant at Andersonville prison

March 15– Wednesday– Andersonville, Georgia– Captain Henry Wirz, commandant of the Andersonville prison camp, begins preparing Union prisoners for exchange.

March 15 – Wednesday– Prestbury, Cheshire, England– Birth of Edith Maude Eaton, aka Sui Sin Far, journalist and author. She is born to an English father and a Chinese mother. [Dies April 7, 1914.]

Edith Maude Eaton

Edith Maude Eaton

March 16– Thursday– Averasborough, North Carolina– In a desperate attempt to slow the Federal advance, a force of 5400 Confederate troops tangle with 26,000 Union soldiers but after several hours of fighting are forced to withdraw. Total casualties– killed, wounded, missing– are 682 Federals and 865 Confederates. Union column endured only minimal delays.

March 16– Thursday– Queenstown, Ireland– Birth of Patsy Donovan, major league baseball player between 1890 and 1907 for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St Louis Cardinals, and later a manager. [Dies December 25, 1953].

factory workers

factory workers

March 17– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “A committee of ladies representing fourteen thousand working women of Philadelphia, who are employed by government contractors, recently waited on President Lincoln to represent the needs of the suffering women. The President sent for the Acting Quarter-master General Thomas, told him the story he had heard, and then said: ‘I shall consider myself personally obliged it you can hereafter manage the supplies of contract work for the government made up by women, so as to give them remunerative wages for their labor.’ It is highly creditable, alike to the President’s head and heart, that he has thought fit to give his personal influence, in the manner above described, to help on a much needed reform, and relieve some of the suffering resulting from the injustice of the community to the working women. When the thing to be done is both right and expedient, and the neglect or delay of officials to perform it is favored by a widely existing popular prejudice, injuriously affecting vast numbers of people, it is all the more important that the man who chances to wield that influence which the President’s office bestows should take the trouble of putting it in action to do the right or undo the wrong. Abraham Lincoln has shown, by the act of mingled justice and kindness above described, that he recognizes this method of action, and this sort of exercise of personal influence, as right and proper.” ~ The Liberator.

at the machines

at the machines

March 17– Friday– Berwick, Pennsylvania– A large fire destroys the shops of the Jackson and Woodin Manufacturing Company.

March 17– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “It will be but a very few words that I shall undertake to say. I was born in Kentucky, raised in Indiana, and lived in Illinois; and now I am here, where it is my business to care equally for the good people of all the States. I am glad to see an Indiana regiment on this day able to present the captured flag to the Governor of Indiana. I am not disposed, in saying this, to make a distinction between the States, for all have done equally well. There are but few views or aspects of this great war upon which I have not said or written something whereby my own opinions might be known. But there is one– the recent attempt of our erring brethren, as they are sometimes called, to employ the Negro to fight for them. I have neither written nor made a speech on that subject, because that was their business, not mine, and if I had a wish on the subject, I had not the power to introduce it, or make it effective. The great question with them was whether the Negro, being put into the army, will fight for them. I do not know, and therefore cannot decide. They ought to know better than me. I have in my lifetime heard many arguments why the Negroes ought to be slaves; but if they fight for those who would keep them in slavery, it will be a better argument than any I have yet heard. He who will fight for that, ought to be a slave. They have concluded, at last, to take one out of four of the slaves and put them in the army, and that one out of the four who will fight to keep the others in slavery, ought to be a slave himself, unless he is killed in a fight. While I have often said that all men ought to be free, yet would I allow those colored persons to be slaves who want to be, and next to them those white people who argue in favor of making other people slaves. I am in favor of giving an appointment to such white men to try it on for these slaves. I will say one thing in regard to the Negroes being employed to fight for them. I do know he cannot fight and stay at home and make bread too. And as one is about as important as the other to them, I don’t care which they do. I am rather in favor of having them try them as soldiers. They lack one vote of doing that, and I wish I could send my vote over the river so that I might cast it in favor of allowing the Negro to fight. But they cannot fight and work both. We must now see the bottom of the enemy’s resources. They will stand out as long as they can, and if the Negro will fight for them they must allow him to fight. They have drawn upon their last branch of resources, and we can now see the bottom. I am glad to see the end so near at hand.” ~ Speech by President Lincoln to an Indiana Regiment of soldiers.

March 17– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “Whereas reliable information has been received that hostile Indians within the limits of the United States have been furnished with arms and munitions of war by persons dwelling in conterminous foreign territory, and are thereby enabled to prosecute their savage warfare upon the exposed and sparse settlements of the frontier. Now, therefore, be it known that I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim and direct that all persons detected in that nefarious traffic shall be arrested and tried by court-martial at the nearest military post, and if convicted shall receive the punishment due to their deserts.” ~ Proclamation by President Lincoln.

March 17– Friday– Mobile, Alabama– A force of 32,000 Federal troops is moving against the city which is defended by a garrison of 2800 Confederate soldiers.

Patrick Joseph Sullivan

Patrick Joseph Sullivan

March 17– Friday– County Cork, Ireland– Birth of Patrick Joseph Sullivan, who will serve as mayor of Casper, Wyoming, 1897-98, and Republican member of the United States Senate from Wyoming, 1929-30. [Dies April 8, 1935.]

March 18– Saturday– New York City– “The Second Inauguration of President Lincoln. . . . In many respects it is the most emphatic ceremonial in the history of our republic, since it solemnly pledges the nation in the face of the world to restore the Union whatever the cost may be. Notwithstanding the showers of rain that fell the attendance was immense, and the procession of great magnitude and state. It formed on 16th street, near Pennsylvania avenue, shortly before eleven, and directly after commenced moving towards the Capitol. The military escort consisted of two regiments of the Invalid Corps, a squadron of cavalry, a battery of artillery, four companies of colored troops, and several bands of music. The line of march was decorated with flags, and the windows along the route were crowded with spectators, who manifested the utmost enthusiasm. The streets, however, were in a miserable condition, consequent on the rain of the morning, which slackened about eight o’clock, and entirely ceased about eleven. The procession was over a mile in length. The President was in the Capitol busily engaged in signing bills. A few minutes before twelve the official procession began to file into the Senate Chamber. . . . The appearance of Mr. Lincoln was the signal for a tremendous outburst of enthusiastic cheers. When this tumult subsided, the President stepped forward and delivered his inaugural address. At the conclusion of these proceedings the procession was reformed, and the President was escorted to the White House. It is estimated that over 30,000 persons were present, notwithstanding the depth of mud in which they were obliged to stand.” ~ Frank Leslies Weekly.

Lincoln takes the oath of office

Lincoln takes the oath of office

March 18– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “The news from the army continues favorable, and it seems impossible for the Rebel leaders to continue much longer to hold out. Everything is giving way to the Union forces. The currency is getting into better shape, but there will be still tremendous struggles and revulsions before its sound restoration can be accomplished.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

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.

Reorganize as Protection Societies ~ March 1865 ~ 7th to 8th

Reorganize as Protection Societies

words of a prophet

words of a prophet

Lydia Maria Child, radical reformer, speaks with a prophet’s voice about the future and calls for action. An admirer writes to Whitman. While some citizens worry about another rebel threat from bases in Canada, Lincoln sees the threat diminished. Sherman’s troops push into North Carolina. Some in Canada oppose the idea of Confederation. While Child praises Lincoln’s inaugural address, a rebel clerk mocks it.

youthful Lydia Maria Child

youthful Lydia Maria Child

March 7– Tuesday– Wayland, Massachusetts– “It seems as if the end of this physical warfare was rapidly approaching; but we must all remember that the cessation of military hostilities is but the beginning of the great moral work that is to be accomplished. The disappointed and malignant slaveholders will doubtless enact the part of Cain, as they did in Jamaica. They will do all they possibly can to discourage and harass the emancipated laborers. They will exert all their power and all their cunning to make the system of free labor work badly, and then they will cry exultingly, ‘Behold the effects of emancipation!’ Mattie Griffith, who is now in Georgetown, D.C., writes to me that the colored people are shamefully treated by their former owners. It is well that the anti-slavery societies should disband as soon as their work is completed; but they ought to reorganize as protection societies. The newly-emancipated will need vigilant watchmen on the towers for one generation more, at least. Yet what a wonderful change has been wrought! Though everybody says it, I cannot help repeating, What a wonderful change! If you would measure the progress, read Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural and his last. How concise and significant, how full of wisdom and moral power, is that last brief address to the people! I have found a great deal of fault with President Lincoln, but, I must say, he has continually grown upon my respect and confidence. He is evidently a sensible, an honest, and a kindhearted man. I regard it as one of the best auguries for the American people that they has the good sense to stand by him at this important crisis. . . . How impressive is that portion of the President’s inaugural, where he says that every drop of blood drawn by the lash has been repaid by drops drawn by the sword! During the progress of the war, I have often been struck with the fact, that the same measure we have meted out has been measured unto us. The poor slaves had their children shot down, whipped to death, and torn from them to die afar off, and we heard of it with languid indifference, or has no execrations to bestow, except upon those who told of such deeds. They died by slow starvation, and we heeded it not. They were torn by bloodhounds, and we would not believe that Southern gentlemen could train ferocious brutes for such a purpose. And lo! we learn it all now, in the terrible school of experience. Slavery tears our children from us, to die far away from us; she starves them to skeletons; she tracks their flight with fierce bloodhounds. And, to complete the lesson, the poor, abused Negro, whom we have helped to abuse, hides them, and feeds them, and guides them to their friends. It seems to me that never, in human history, was the Divine Hand so plainly visible.” ~ Letter from Lydia Maria Child to Theodore Tilton. [Massachusetts-born Lydia Maria Francis Child, 1802– 1880, is a force of nature – abolitionist, feminist, author, editor, educator, anti-imperialist and all around reformer. See, The First Woman in the Republic: A Cultural Biography of Lydia Maria Child by Carolyn L Karcher (1994).]

Lydia Maria Child, c.1870

Lydia Maria Child, c.1870

March 7– Tuesday– Troy, New York– “Your last letter from Washington in the paper lying on my lap. Your book in the hands of my friend Lucy who sits there by the window reading it in the morning sunshine. She looks up suddenly and says ‘I think this is the soul I am waiting for, is Walt Whitman married?’ I cannot answer the question, but will you? I am not interested to know if you are married, but I would like to look in your face. How many years did you live ere you could look into the depths of all hearts. Through what experiences did you learn that lore? Remember, if ever the opportunity comes I will look in your face. It should say all that is in your book and something more. I want that something more.” ~ Letter from Celia M. Burr to Walt Whitman.

March 7– Tuesday– New York City– “The citizens of Oswego [New York] held a meeting yesterday, at which the Mayor presided, for the purpose of adopting measures for the better defense of the city from the anticipated rebel raid from Canada. A sufficient force had been detailed from Fort Ontario to patrol the streets at night.” ~ New York Herald.

March 7– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “The meeting at the Cabinet was interesting, the topics miscellaneous. Vice-President Johnson’s infirmity was mentioned. Seward’s tone and opinions were much changed since Saturday. He seems to have given up Johnson now, but no one appears to have been aware of any failing. I trust and am inclined to believe it a temporary ailment, which may, if rightly treated, be overcome.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

March 7– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Bright and frosty. Yesterday we had no certain accounts of the movements of Sheridan. His force was said to be near Charlottesville– at Keswich. Fitz Lee’s cavalry and Pickett’s infantry were sent in that direction. Not a word has yet appeared in the Richmond papers concerning this movement from the Valley– the papers being read daily in the enemy’s camp below. We hear of no corresponding movement on the part of Grant; and perhaps there was none. Preparations to evacuate the city are still being made with due diligence. If these indications do not suffice to bring the speculators into the ranks to defend their own property (they have no honor, of course), the city and the State are lost; and the property owners will deserve their fate. The extortioners ought to be hung, besides losing their property. This would be a very popular act on the part of the conquerors. . . . The packing up of the archives goes on, with directions to be as quiet as possible, so as ‘not to alarm the people.’ A large per cent of the population would behold the exodus with pleasure!” ~ Diary of John Jones.


March 7– Tuesday– Rockingham, North Carolina– Federal troops enter the state here and at other points, skirmishing with Confederate soldiers. It appears that General Sherman’s forces are headed for Fayetteville.

March 7– Tuesday– Nashville, Tennessee– “I have here in arrest two noted rebel women, Mrs. Dolly Battle and Miss Sallie Battle, who reside ten miles from Nashville, but came all the way to Wartrace, on horseback, two days ago, to re-coffin and bury the body of Trummel, alias Van Houghton, who was killed at that place on the night of the 21st ultimo, while engaged, with nine other guerrillas, in robbing the telegraph office and stores. The daguerreotypes of these two she-rebels were found on the body of this robber thief after he was killed, with letters from them showing great intimacy. They boast that they are rebels and have never taken the [loyalty] oath. Their father is an officer in the rebel army; their brother Bob is a guerrilla. This family have been spies and harborers of rebels and guerrillas since the beginning of the war. Their mother, as I was well informed last summer, boasts that they have done more good for the Confederate cause than a regiment of soldiers. I respectfully ask permission to send these two south of our lines.” ~ Letter from Union General Robert Milroy to General George Thomas.

March 7– Tuesday– Fredericton, New Brunswick– The provincial government rejects the proposal for Canadian Confederation.

Lincoln family-ZA9R12VL

March 8– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Whereas, pursuant to the order of the President of the United States, directions were issued from this Department, under date of the 17th of December, 1864, requiring passports from all travelers entering the United States, except immigrant passengers directly entering an American port from a foreign country; but whereas information has recently been received which affords reasonable grounds to expect that Her Britannic Majesty’s Government and the executive and legislative branches of the government of Canada have taken and will continue to take such steps as may be looked for from a friendly neighbor and will be effectual toward preventing hostile incursions from Canadian territory into the United States, the President directs that from and after this date the order above referred to requiring passports shall be modified, and so much thereof as relates to persons entering this country from Canada shall be rescinded, saving and reserving the order in all other respects in full force.” ~ Executive Order from President Lincoln.

March 8– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Damp and foggy. . . . President Lincoln’s short inaugural message, or homily, or sermon, has been received. It is filled with texts from the Bible. He says both sides pray to the same God for aid– one upholding and the other destroying African slavery. If slavery be an offense,– and woe shall fall upon those by whom offenses come,– perhaps not only all the slaves will be lost, but all the accumulated products of their labor be swept away. In short, he ‘quotes Scripture for the deed’ quite as fluently as our President; and since both Presidents resort to religious justification, it may be feared the war is about to assume a more sanguinary aspect and a more cruel nature than ever before. God help us! The history of man, even in the Bible, is but a series of bloody wars. It must be thus to make us appreciate the blessings of peace, and to bow in humble adoration of the great Father of all. The Garden of Eden could not yield contentment to man, nor heaven satisfy all the angels.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

March 8– Wednesday– Bloomington, Illinois– Birth of Frederic W Goudy, designer of numerous typefaces. [Dies May 11, 1947.]

Frederick W Goudy, circa 1924

Frederick W Goudy, circa 1924

March 8– Wednesday– Bolivar, Tennessee– “Nothing from Lettie [a house slave] yet. Yesterday morning Sister Mary sent her to Mrs. Grey’s, and upon finding at the expiration of three of four hours, she failed to return, sent for her, but she had left there some time before, I suppose for Yankeedom. Joy go with her. Sister and myself cleaned up our rooms this morning alone and before the Negroes had risen. (So much for Southern cruelty). She made the fire. I made up my bed and did various other things as cheerfully as any one. Had the rooms cleaned, breakfast over and baby washed and dressed before nine. When Lettie was here the rooms were generally done about eleven. Ha! Ha! Ha! I’m very glad she’s gone. The rest [of the slaves] will follow her example. The nuisances! Two women, one man and four children, all save one able to work, can’t get ready for business until ten or eleven o’clock in the morning. Isn’t it perfectly ridiculous! O Yankees, Yankees, what mistakes you have made in your attempt at sympathy and kindness.” ~ Diary of Sally Wendel Fentress.

March 8– Wednesday– Macon, Georgia– “The Senate took up the report of the committee upon the bill to be entitled an act to make an appropriation of two millions of dollars, in addition to the appropriation already made for the support of indigent families of Soldiers, who are in the public service, and for the support of indigent soldiers who have been or may be hereafter disabled by wounds or disease in the Confederate or State service, for the year 1865, and for other purposes.” ~ record of the Georgia state legislature.

chitchat among ladies-EA3C19FA75C61EA882_5730

March 8– Wednesday– Gopher Hill, Georgia– “I went up to Americus [Georgia] yesterday, with Flora and Captain Rust, to see Cousin Bolling about my eyes, expecting to return to Gopher Hill on the afternoon train, but Cousin Bessie insisted that we should stay to dinner, and her attempt to have it served early was so unsuccessful that Captain Rust and I got to the station just in time to see the train moving off without us. Flora had another engagement, that caused her to decline Mrs. Pope’s invitation, so she made the train, but the captain and I had nothing for it but to spend the night in Americus and kill the night as best we could. I was repaid for the annoyance of getting left by the favorable report Cousin Bolling gave of my eyes. He says it is nothing but the effects of measles that ails them, and they are almost well. I occupied Flora’s room that night. Cousin Bessie lent me one of her fine embroidered linen nightgowns, and I was so overpowered at having on a decent piece of underclothing after the coarse Macon Mills homespun I have been wearing for the last two years, that I could hardly go to sleep. I stood before the glass and looked at myself after I was undressed just to see how nice it was to have on a respectable undergarment once more. I can stand patched-up dresses, and even take a pride in wearing Confederate homespun, where it is done open and above board, but I can’t help feeling vulgar and common in coarse underclothes. Cousin Bessie has brought quantities of beautiful things from beyond the blockade, that make us poor Rebs look like ragamuffins beside her. She has crossed the lines by special permit, and will be obliged to return to Memphis by the 2nd of April, when her pass will be out. It seems funny for a white woman to have to get a pass to see her husband, just like the Negro men here do when their wives live on another plantation. The times have brought about some strange up-turnings. Cousin Bolling is awfully blue about the war, and it does begin to look as if our poor little Confederacy was about on its last legs, but I am so accustomed to all sorts of vicissitudes that I try not to let thoughts of the inevitable disturb me. The time to be blue was five years ago, before we went into it. . . . Captain Rust was so afraid of being left again that he would not wait for the omnibus, but trotted me off on foot an hour ahead of time, although it was raining. We met Mr. Wheatley and Major Daniel on our way to the depot, and they told us that a dispatch had just been received stating that the Yanks have landed at St. Mark’s [Florida] and are marching on Tallahassee. We first heard they were 4,000 strong, but before we reached the depot, their numbers had swelled to 15,000.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

You Are to Press to the Utmost ~ March 1865 ~ 2nd to 3rd

You Are to Press to the Utmost

General Grant

General Grant

As the capital prepares for Lincoln’s second inauguration, the President instructs General Grant to press hard against General Lee and to have no discussion except about terms of surrender. Southern soldiers and civilians worry about the state of affairs. Northerners in Boston honor African American history. Walt Whitman has returned to caring for wounded soldiers.


March 2– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “Had a houseful of visitors to witness the inauguration. Speaker Colfax is grouty because Mrs. Welles has not called on his mother– a piece of etiquette which Seward says is proper.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

March 2– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Raining. No well-authenticated news; but by many it is believed Staunton is in the hands of the enemy, and Lynchburg menaced. Nevertheless, the government is sending a portion of the archives and stores to Lynchburg! The clergymen are at work begging supplies for the soldiers; and they say the holding of Richmond and the success of the cause depend upon the success of their efforts, the government being null! A large per cent of these preachers is of Northern birth– and some of them may possibly betray the cause if they deem it desperate. This is the history of such men in the South so far. But the President trusts them, and we must trust the President.” ~ Diary of John Jones.


March 2– Thursday– in the forests of North Carolina– “I will write again today, although I feel almost certain my letters will never reach you. My anxiety to hear from you is getting more & more great & my mind more & more troubled. I try to make myself believe that you are all well & happy in the old home. But fears & doubts will arise & make me feel unhappy, & my being inactive & confined to the house, has a tendency to make me feel gloomy low spirited & very homesick. The Yankees are unable to move on account of the mud it having rained more or less for 6 days & is still drizzling, dark clouds hanging low with prospects of more rain. The roads are in terrible condition.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Barrington King to his wife Bessie.

March 2– Thursday– McMinnville, Tennessee– “I was just telling Puss [a slave] to go back and stay with her mother [a slave called Mammy], when Bruno [a dog] began to bark and growl savagely– we heard a noise too, like a scream. . . . In a moment we heard it again and she ran to the door– as she opened it, I heard thru the driving and beating of the storm a wild ‘Hello!’At the same instant Mammy emerged from the darkness exclaiming ‘it’s somebody– it’s soldiers– they’re hollering hello! G_d d__n you! Hello!’ She was frightened and I told Puss to run back with her. I was here with the children, Carolina was asleep. In a half minute I could see whenever the lightning flashed several horsemen riding around the house and soon came the usual routine of oaths accompanied with ‘Where’s the man of the house? We want meat– hand us out some hams, quick here.’ . . . . I thought they were all about to rush in. They rode up to the porch when I said ‘You can’t do that– if I had provisions I would be willing to give it to you– but I have not– and this day received a strong protection from the commanding officer here, who orders all this command not only to protect but to defend me and my property [as] is necessary. Go on quietly to town and you will be provided with something to eat there.’ ‘D__n it and who’s to give it to us?’ ‘Your commander, of course.’ . . . . I could say no more– the rain drove into my face. I saw they had left the porch. I shut the door and locked it with trembling hands. I sank into a chair by the stairs, shaking all over. I rubbed my hands and tried my best to keep it off but it would come– one of those hard nervous chills. Every moment I expected to hear them come against the door or to hear some fuss down at the [slave] cabin where I thought they had gone. I got to the wardrobe, swallowed some brandy and then sat down on my bed. . . . The wretches did not return but I was tormented all the while not knowing what they might be at down at the cabin.” ~ Journal of Lucy Virginia French.

soldiers plundering a local farm

soldiers plundering a local farm

March 2– Thursday– Blue Spring, Georgia– “We left Pine Bluff at eleven o’clock and reached the Blue Spring in time for lunch. Albert Bacon and Jimmy Chiles were there to meet us. Hang a petticoat on a bean pole and carry it where you will, Jimmy will follow. The river is so high that its muddy waters have backed up into the spring and destroyed its beauty, but we enjoyed the glorious flowers that bloom around it, and saw some brilliant birds of a kind that were new to me. Mr. Bacon said he would kill one and give me to trim my hat.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

Reverend Volkner's grave

Reverend Volkner’s grave

March 2– Thursday– Opotiki, New Zealand– Carl Sylvius Volkner, a German-born Christian missionary, age 45, is hanged and decapitated by Maori traditional religionists.

March 3– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–”Notice. The martyrdom of Crispus Attucks (March 5th, 1770) will be commemorated on Tuesday Evening, March 7th, at the Meionaon, (Tremont Temple). The eloquent counselor and orator, John M. Langston, Esq., of Oberlin, will deliver an address on ‘The Colored American as a Soldier,’ and the distinguished and eloquent poet and speaker, Mrs. Frances Watkins Haper, of Baltimore, on ‘The Mission of the War.’ Exercises to be accompanied with appropriate music. For particulars, see bills of the day. Tickets, 25 cents each, to be obtained of R. F. Wallcut, Anti-Slavery office, 221 Washington Street, and at the door, or of William C. Nell.” ~ The Liberator. [On Crispus Attucks, see Chapter 2 of Landmarks of African American History by James Horton (2005); on John M Langston, see John Mercer Langston and the Fight for Black Freedom, 1829– 65 by William Cheek and Aimee Lee Cheek (1989).]

John Mercer Langston

John Mercer Langston

March 3– Friday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln signs into law legislation establishing the Freedman’s Bureau to provide education and advancement for freed slaves.

March 3– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “The city quite full of people. General Halleck has apprehensions that there may be mischief. Thinks precautions should be taken. Advises that the navy yard should be closed. I do not participate in these fears, and yet I will not say it is not prudent to guard against contingencies. At the Cabinet-meeting to-day, the President gave formal notice that he proposed inviting McCulloch to the [position of Secretary of the] Treasury early next week. He said that . . . in regard to the other gentlemen of the Cabinet, he wished none of them to resign, at least for the present, for he contemplated no changes.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

March 3– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “The President directs me to say to you that he wishes you to have no conference with General Lee unless it be for the capitulation of General Lee’s army, or on some minor and purely military matter. He instructs me to say that you are not to decide, discuss, or confer upon any political question. Such questions the President holds in his own hands, and will submit them to no military conferences or conventions. Meantime you are to press to the utmost your military advantages.” ~ Telegram from Secretary of War Edwin Stanton to Union General Ulysses S. Grant.

General Lee

General Lee

March 3– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “Your letter has reached me– my best thanks for your contribution to the wounded & sick, & shall be applied in most needy cases. You speak of seeing Dr. Russell– has he not rec’d a N. Y. Times of two months since containing a sketch of my Visits to Hospitals? I thought one had been sent him. If he has not had one I should like to send one to him. The paragraph in the Gazette by Mr Shillaber is very kind. I do not wish you to send me any of the papers. Nothing new or special with me. I believe I told you I was working a few hours a day, a sufficiently remunerative desk in Indian office. I spend a couple of hours day or evening in the hospitals.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to John Townsend Trowbridge.

March 3– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “Raining and cold. . . . Thank God, I have some 300 pounds of flour and half that amount of meal–bread rations for my family, seven in number, for more than two months! I have but 7-1/2 pounds of meat; but we can live without it, as we have often done. I have a bushel of peas also, and coal and wood for a month. This is a guarantee against immediate starvation, should the famine become more rigorous, upon which we may felicitate ourselves. Our nominal income has been increased; amounting now to some $16,000 in [Confederate] paper– less than $300 in specie [gold or silver coin]. . . . It is rumored that [Confederate] General [Jubal] Early has been beaten again at Waynesborough, and that the enemy have reached Charlottesville for the first time. Thus it seems our downward career continues. We must have a victory soon, else Virginia is irretrievably lost. . . . It is said they are fighting at Gordonsville; whether or not the enemy have Charlottesville is therefore uncertain. I presume it is an advance of [Union General Phil] Sheridan’s cavalry whom our troops have engaged at Gordonsville.”~ Diary of John Jones.


March 3– Friday– in the forests of North Carolina– “I am rejoiced to hear there is a regular mail communication opened yesterday between this place and Georgia. The command has been in a fight lately [and] two of my old company were killed – Shaw living near Roswell was one, the other Mahaffey of Gwinnett. If possible let Mrs. Shaw know. They were killed in a charge on Sherman’s wagons three days ago. I can’t hear the particulars. You will see in the papers a correspondence between Sherman & General Hampton about killing Sherman’s foragers. None are taken prisoners but all killed. I am afraid my darling wife that I will not be able to get any furlough this spring, as long as the campaign continues active I will not apply, as I will be needed with the command.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Barrington King to his wife Bessie.

March 3– Friday– Macon, Georgia– “I am informed that the Government of the United States, will permit cotton to be shipped through the blockade, to be sold North and the proceeds applied to the relief of our suffering prisoners confined in their prisons. I also learn, that other States have taken action in this matter for the relief of their suffering sons. None have done their duty more faithfully than the Georgia troops, and while we provide for the wants of those under arms and their families, we should not forget those who languish in foreign confinement. I, therefore, recommend an appropriation sufficient to purchase one thousand bales of cotton to be shipped to New York and sold, and the proceeds applied to their relief. And I further recommend that the Governor be authorized to appoint a proper agent to go to New York, and see to the sale of the cotton and the proper application of the fund.” ~ Message from Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown to the state senate.

planter's mansion

planter’s mansion

March 3– Friday– Gopher Hill, Georgia– “Up at daybreak, and on the train, ready to leave Albany. Albert and Jimmy were there, of course, besides a number of Albany people who had come to see us off – a great compliment at that heathenish hour. We got off at Wooten’s Station, only twelve miles from Albany. Flora and Captain Rust were there to meet us with conveyances for Gopher Hill. It is worth the journey from Pine Bluff to Gopher Hill just to travel over the road between there and Wooten’s. It runs nearly all the way through swamps alive with the beauty and fragrance of spring. . . . . On each side of the avenue leading to the house is a small lake, and about two miles back in the plantation, a large one on which Flora has a row-boat. She has a beautiful pony named Fleet, that is the counterpart of our own dear little Dixie. Colonel Maxwell has a great many fine horses and all sorts of conveyances, which are at the service of his guests. He is one of the most aristocratic-looking old gentlemen I ever saw. In manners, appearance, and disposition, he is strikingly like Brother Troup, except that the colonel is very large and commanding, while Brother Troup is small and dapper. He is very handsome – next to Bishop Elliot, one of the finest specimens of Southern manhood I ever saw. It is one of the cases where blood will tell, for he has the best of Georgia in his veins, or to go back further, the best in old Scotland itself. Though over sixty years old, he has never been out of the State, and is as full of whims and prejudices as the traditional old country squire that we read about in English novels. His present wife, Flora’s stepmother, is much younger than he, very gay and witty, and escapes all worry by taking a humorous view of him and his crotchets. He and Flora idolize each other, and she is the only person that can do anything with him, and not always even she, when he once gets his head fast set.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

March 3– Friday– Kharkin, Ukraine– Birth of Alexander Gustav Adolfovich Winkler, composer, pianist and educator. [Dies August 6, 1935.]

HSBC headquarters, 1901

HSBC headquarters, 1901

March 3– Friday– Hong Kong, China– Opening of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, the founding member of the HSBC Group.