Tag Archives: newspapers

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.

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

The Army Is Liable to Move

federal supply train-D03GT1HG

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


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

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

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

Elisha Hunt Rhodes

Elisha Hunt Rhodes

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

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

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

women's fashions ~ March 1865

women’s fashions ~ March 1865

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

General Grant

General Grant

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

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

federal canon

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

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

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

plantation slaves

plantation slaves

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

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

Will We Thus Blunder on to the End?

field mortar images

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


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

New York Herald, circa 1895

New York Herald, circa 1895

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

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

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

John Yates Beall

John Yates Beall

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abe Isoo

Abe Isoo

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

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


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

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


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

No uch Consent Can Ever Be Given ~ February 1865~ 15th to 16th

No Such Consent Can Ever Be Given


The angry governor of Georgia calls on the state legislature for action as he verbally attacks the administration in Richmond and denies that the Confederacy can legally take slaves into the army. A Tennessee newspaper observes the reticence of white people to see black soldiers in the Union army. Heavy fighting continues in South Carolina. A Richmond newspaper sarcastically criticizes civilians who claim to know better than generals. A friend of Walt Whitman prepares a box to send to Whitman’s brother George in a Southern prison camp. Neither Whitman nor his friend yet know that George has been released and is arriving at Anapolis Maryland.

Federal cavalry

Federal cavalry

February 15– Wednesday– Congree Creek, South Carolina; Savannah Creek, South Carolina; Bate’s Ferry, South Carolina; Red Bank Creek, South Carolina; near Lexington, South Carolina– Heavy skirmishing fails to stop the Federal advance.

Macon, Georgia~ circa 1900

Macon, Georgia~ circa 1900

February 15– Wednesday– Macon, Georgia– “Since your adjournment in November, the army of invasion, led by a bold and skillful General, have passed through our State, laid waste our fields, burned many dwelling houses, destroyed county records, applied the torch to [cotton] gin-houses, cotton, and other property, occupied and desecrated the capitol, and now hold the city of Savannah, which gives them a water base from which they may in future operate upon the interior of the State. The army of Tennessee, which contained a large number of Georgia troops, and was relied on as the only barrier to Sherman’s advance, the removal of which left Georgia at the mercy of the enemy, was ordered off beyond the Tennessee river upon a campaign which has terminated in disaster. In the midst of these misfortunes Georgia has been taunted by some of the public journals of other States because her people did not drive back and destroy the army of the enemy. Those who do us this injustice fail to state the well known fact that of all the tens of thousands of veteran infantry, including most of the vigor and manhood of the State, which she had furnished for Confederate service, but a single regiment (the Georgia Regulars,) of about three hundred effective men, was permitted to be upon her soil during the march of General Sherman from her North-western border to the city of Savannah; and even that gallant regiment was kept upon one of our islands most of the time; and not permitted to unite with those who met the enemy. Nor were the places of our absent sons filled by troops from other States. . . . The administration, by its unfortunate policy having wasted our strength and reduced our armies, and being unable to get freemen into the field as conscripts, and unwilling to accept them in organizations with officers of their own choice, will, it is believed, soon resort to the policy of filling them up by the conscription of slaves. I am satisfied that we may profitably use slave labor, so far as it can be spared from agriculture, to do menial service in connection with the army, and thereby enable more free white men to take up arms; but I am quite sure any attempt to arm the slaves will be a great error. If we expect to continue the war successfully, we are obliged to have the labor of most of them in the production of provisions. But if this difficulty were surmounted, we can not rely upon them as soldiers. They are now quietly serving us at home, because they do not wish to go into the army, and they fear, if they leave us, the enemy will put them there. If we compel them to take up arms, their whole feeling and conduct will change, and they will leave us by thousands. A single proclamation by President Lincoln that all who will desert us after they are forced into service, and go over to him, shall have their freedom, be taken out of the army, and permitted to go into the country in his possession, and receive wages for their labor would disband them by brigades. Whatever may be our opinion of their normal condition or their true interest, we can not expect them, if they remain with us, to perform deeds of heroic valor, when they are fighting to continue the enslavement of their wives and children. It is not reasonable for us to demand it of them, and we have little cause to expect the blessings of Heaven upon our efforts if we compel them to perform such a task. If we are right, and Providence designed them for slavery, He did not intend that they should be a military people. Whenever we establish the fact that they are a military race, we destroy our whole theory that they are unfit to be free. But it is said we should give them their freedom in case of their fidelity to our cause in the field; in other words, that we should give up slavery, as well as our personal liberty and State sovereignty, for independence, and should set all our slaves free if they will aid us to achieve it. . . . When we arm the slaves, we abandon slavery. We can never again govern them as slaves, and make the institution profitable to ourselves or to them, after tens of thousands of them have been taught the use of arms . . . . It can never be admitted by the State that the Confederate Government has any power directly or indirectly to abolish slavery. The provision in the Constitution which by implication authorizes the Confederate Government to take private property for public use only, authorizes the use of the property during the existence of the emergency which justifies the taking. . . . So the Government may impress slaves to do the labor of servants, as to fortify a city, if it cannot obtain them by contract, and it is bound to pay the owner just hire for the time it uses them. But the impressment can vest no title to the slave in the Government for a longer period than the emergency requires the labor. It has not the shadow of right to impress and pay for a slave to set him free. The moment it ceases to need his labor the use reverts to the owner who has the title. If we admit the right of the Government to impress and pay for slaves to free them we concede its power to abolish slavery, and change our domestic institutions at its pleasure, and to tax us to raise the money for that purpose. I am not aware of the advocacy of such a monstrous doctrine in the old Congress by any one of the more rational class of abolitionists. It certainly never found an advocate in any Southern statesman. No slave can ever be liberated by the Confederate Government without the consent of the States. No such consent can ever be given by this State without a previous alteration of her Constitution. And no such alteration can be made without a convention of her people.” ~ Message from Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown to a special session of the Georgia legislature.

Governor Joseph E Brown

Governor Joseph E Brown

February 15– Wednesday– Knoxville, Tennessee– “Some of our most refined citizens have so great a horror for white officers who stoop to command Negro regiments or brigades, that they say they can’t treat them with respect. Let us look into this matter, and reason a little about the case. These officers are officers of the United States army, and are only doing their duty by obeying their superiors. Our Government has resolved on arming and fighting the Negroes, and in our judgment Negroes are good enough to fight rebels with. And as the fight is about the Negro, it is proper that he should take a hand. But, for years past– forty years of the time we can recollect– monied men of the South have bought up droves of Negroes, put them in irons and driven them through here to the States of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, with the lordly owners on the horses, with large stock, driving whips in hand, occasionally used upon such Negroes as would lag behind. In many instances they have traveled on with the drove in carriages, and on springs, with select mulatto girls, to take care of them during their absence from home! In many instances, when the have sold these girls for the money they have sold their own offsprings and relatives! When these traders have been successful and made fortunes, man and families have taken them into their houses, treated with great deference, and recognized them as fit associates, who now turn up their noses in derision at an officer who will consent to command Negroes ! What inconsistent creatures we are!” ~ Brownlow’s Whig and Independent Journal and Rebel Ventilator.


February 16– Thursday– New York City– “The operations against the City of Charleston itself are of a very complex character; but perfect success has crowned each of the separate movements. The rebels give us news to-day of two new operations, both of which were successes. We effected a landing on Friday last upon James Island, and the rebels say we are here within two miles of the City of Charleston, the cradle of secession, where the war was begun, and which we had given up expecting to capture till its final close. Our transports and troops have also ascended the North Edisto [River], have crossed to the main land, established themselves near by on the railroad, and can thus move upon the city’s flank, maintaining all the time communications with the seaboard, and finally cooperating with the forces on James Island. Every one knows, also, that for operations against Charleston, we have, beside the army, a very powerful fleet under Admiral Dahlgren, from whom naval officers and General Sherman himself expects much. The people of the North are not extravagant in expecting every hour to hear of the capture of the city; but it would be a victory doubly worthy of Sherman if he should capture with it the forces of the dodging [Confederate General] Hardee.” ~ New York Times.

February 16– Thursday– New York City– “On the receipt of your favor of the 26th ult., I arranged with Captain Walton for the sending of a box to our dear and brave boys at the Danville Military Prison. And to-day I am having a box put up which will start tomorrow. Captain Wright does not think the boxes will ever reach our boys– but this shall not prevent my trying to get them things to keep the breath of life in them, and to cheer them up. Of the articles you enumerate, I omitted tobacco, fearing it could perfume and render the food impalatable [sic]. I added desiccated vegetables in its stead. It is about time you heard from the first box you sent. Have you? If the accounts in the papers are correct, we ought to have the boys back again before long. I hope their turn for [prisoner] exchange will come first.” ~ Letter from Elliot F. Shepard to Walt Whitman.

George Whitman

George Whitman

February 16– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “The Confederacy is blessed with a great number of ‘Street-Corner Generals.’ They plan a campaign with sagacity, elaborate the various combinations with care and patience, and conduct it invariably to a successful, and even brilliant, conclusion. Their extensive military information, strong reasoning faculties, and decision and energy of tone and manner, never fail to cheer us with the hope that our country has yet in reserve an amount of military genius which, in the last extremity, will prove her salvation. We never fail to derive information and advantage from the criticisms of these Generals in Reserve on the other Generals now in the field. We always like to hear men talking on any subject which their previous education has not prepared them to comprehend. It shows original genius and vigor of understanding to grasp and master in an instant sciences which other men have only been able to subjugate by long years of study. . . . We long for the time when the merits of the Street-Corner Generals will be properly appreciated by their Government, and our armies be placed under their direct supervision and control. We have had too much of West Point in this war. It is high time that the volunteer genius of the country should burst the cords that hold it to the earth, and, with three armies and a hopeful nation on its back, soar aloft.” ~ Richmond Times Dispatch

February 16– Thursday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “We have had a lively time today, both sides doing their best to shell out the other. On the 9th Corp front, to the right of our line, the air has been full of shot and shell and the roar of canon has been heard all day. All quiet on our front however. Our Rebel neighbors are good natured.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

So Many of My Friends Falling ~ February 1865 ~ the 9th and 10th

So Many of My Friends Falling ~ Alva Benjamin Spencer


Hard times in the Confederacy. Sherman is cutting his way through South Carolina. Supplies running short. The size of the army so reduced that General Lee goes on record supporting the enlistment of black slaves in large numbers. Southern newspapers call out for resistance. There is discussion– North and South– about the failed peace initiative.

Sherman marching through South Carolina

Sherman marching through South Carolina

February 9– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Sherman has not neglected, in his military march, to ‘garrison the press.’ The Savannah Republican, an old and long established journal of that city, has been manned and officered by an Abolition detachment. . . . We are glad to learn that the new organ of Sherman is compelled to rely wholly on the Yankee soldiers and sailors for patronage, the sales to citizens being, at present, very small. This shows that, in spite of representations to the contrary, the great mass of the people of Savannah . . . have no sympathy with the invaders. The Republican indeed, admits as much, but it is by no means despondent. It will ‘require time to teach the rabid rebels of Savannah their fatal error.’ The manner of conveying this instruction is not clearly indicated, but, from the example of New Orleans and other Confederate cities in Yankee possession, we can readily imagine the process of enlightening darkened understandings. Insult, degradation, stoning and plunder, will open their eyes to the beauties of abolition philanthropy; or, if they still continue incredulous, banish them by wholesale and seize their houses and effects. The ‘fatal error’ of the Confederate people is to imagine that they have any right to exist on the planet. When they are converted from that mortal heresy, and renounce it with their dying breath, they may expect to escape from Yankee persecution.” ~ Richmond Times Dispatch.

February 9– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “We have nothing from Charleston for several days. No doubt preparations are being made for its evacuation. The stores will be brought here for Lee’s army. What will be the price of gold then?” ~ Diary of John Jones.

February 9– Thursday– Charleston, South Carolina– “When the Yankee nation elected Abraham Lincoln on the avowed basis of abolition, they proclaimed their future intentions with regard to us and our institutions. They made up the issue between the sections and severed the Union. When they seized Fort Sumter and returned to give it up to us, to whom it rightly belonged, they closed the issue for war and shut the book of peace. The contest engaged in was on either sides for Union or for disunion – for one General Government, or two separate General Governments, over the two separate sections. For four years this war was waged with fierce endeavor on both sides. But now, just at this point, and just at this time, the 1st chapter of the war has closed its red pages. . . . For the second time the issues have all been made up – and for the second time the books have been closed. The United States Government have just abolished slavery, by an act of Congress, throughout the entire length and breadth of the land now under their authority, or hereafter to come under their authority. . . . Everybody knows now where we stand – utter and complete subjugation and abolition; or fight on to the death, or to glorious independence, with the preservation of our rights and individual liberties.” ~ Charleston Mercury.


February 9– Thursday– Walker’s Plantation, South Carolina– “Marched to Walker’s plantation; distance, ten miles. Here we remained . . . while the troops were completing the destruction of the railroad.” ~ Diary of a staff officer under Union General Oliver O. Howard.

February 9– Thursday– Albany Georgia– “We are in Albany – Mett, Mrs. Meals, and I – on our way to Americus, where I am going to consult Cousin Bolling Pope about my eyes. They have been troubling me ever since I had measles. We had hardly got our hats off when Jim Chiles came panting up the steps. He had seen the carriage pass through town and must run round at once to see if a sudden notion had struck us to go home. After tea came Captain Hobbs, the Welshes, and a Mr. Green, of Columbus, to spend the evening. Mrs. Welsh gives a large party next Thursday night, to which we are invited, and she also wants me to stay over and take part in some theatricals for the benefit of the hospitals, but I have had enough of worrying with amateur theatricals for the present.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

February 9– Thursday– London, England– Birth of Beatrice Stella Tanner who will become a famous actress known as Mrs Patrick Campbell. [Dies April 9, 1940.]

Beatrice Tanner a/k/a Mrs Patrick Campbell

Beatrice Tanner a/k/a Mrs Patrick Campbell

February 10– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– Today’s issue of The Liberator reprints the text of the Thirteenth Amendment and lists every member of the House of Representatives by name, state and political party, indicating whether he voted for or against the amendment. The issue also reports the following: “Another Marked Event in American History! The admission of John S. Rock, Esq., a talented and much respected lawyer of Boston, to practice in the Supreme Court of the United States.” [Rock, 1825 – 1866, a free-born black man was an educator, physician and abolitionist activist as well as a lawyer. Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts moved for Rock’s admission to practice before the Supreme Court on February 1st thus making Rock the first African American lawyer to be admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court. For a biography, see The Supreme Court Bar’s First Black Member by Clarence G. Contee (1975), in the electronic archives of the Supreme Court Historical Society.]

John S Rock

John S Rock

February 10– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “On Wednesday evening Mrs. Welles held a levee, which always disarranges. The season has thus far been one of gaiety. Parties have been numerous. Late hours I do not like, but I have a greater dislike to late dinners. The dinner parties of Washington are to be deprecated always by those who regard health. The President has communicated his movements tending to peace. Jeff Davis has published the letter of Stephens, Hunter, and Campbell. They do not materially differ. The prospect of peace does not seem nearer than before the interview took place, yet I trust we are approximating the much desired result. There are ultras among us who do not favor the cessation of hostilities except on terms and conditions which make that event remote. A few leading radicals are inimical to the Administration, and oppose all measures of the Administration which are likely to effect an immediate peace. They are determined that the States in rebellion shall not resume their position in the Union except on new terms and conditions independent of those in the proposed Constitutional Amendment. Wade in the Senate and Winter Davis in the House are leading spirits in this disturbing movement. It is the positive element, violent without much regard to Constitutional or State rights, or any other rights indeed, except such as they may themselves define or dictate. Not much was done to-day at the Cabinet. Some discussion of general matters.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

February 10– Friday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “The weather is fine today and as warm as spring. We are enjoying it after the snow and ice of a few days ago. I am very well and happy as a man ought to be.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

February 10– Friday– Petersburg, Virginia– “It does indeed make me feel sad to see so many of my friends falling around me. Oh for something to stop this destructive conflict. The ‘Peace Commissioners’ have returned, telling us ‘the argument is exhausted, let us stand by our arms.’ They were permitted to go no nearer Washington than Fortress Monroe, at which place they were met by inhuman Lincoln, and the subtle intriguer Seward. Nothing was accomplished, save our Commissioners being told they were rebel traitors. Thus endeth the Peace question, ‘peace to its ashes.’I hope no sensationist will again revive it. I think we all can now see what is the character of our enemies. We can do nothing but await the time when we shall be more powerful than they. To insure such an event, we have to put forth every energy, in the field and at home. The people must encourage the army and all will be well. We have virtually commenced a new war. It does look gloomy; but contrast independence with submission or subjugation. Let every man’s motto be ‘Liberty or death,’ and independence is ours. None are more desirous to obtain peace than I. I have an object to attain to, which would make me forget all the many, many hardships I’ve undergone and render me the happiest among men. If we could gain anything by reconstruction, I would willingly give my consent; but we all know that instead of gaining, we would lose everything.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee Maggie Cone.

Alva Benjamin Spencer

Alva Benjamin Spencer

February 10– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “Bright and cold. . . . Sherman has got to the railroad near Branchville, and cut communications with Augusta. At the meeting [of Congress], yesterday, Mr. Hunter presided, sure enough; and made a carefully prepared patriotic speech. There was no other alternative. And Mr. Benjamin, being a member of the cabinet, made a significant and most extraordinary speech. He said the white fighting men were exhausted, and that black men must recruit the army– and it must be done at once; that General Lee had informed him he must abandon Richmond, if not soon reinforced, and that Negroes would answer. The States must send them, Congress having no authority. Virginia must lead, and send 20,000 to the trenches in twenty days. Let the Negroes volunteer, and be emancipated. It was the only way to save the slaves– the women and children. He also said all [planters and farmers] who had cotton, tobacco, corn, meat, etc. must give them to the government, not sell them.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

February 10– Friday– Charleston, South Carolina– “We desire to call the attention of our readers in all parts of the State to the important mission of Captain Julian Mitchel, under the authority of the Governor of the State. His mission is to save food from the hands of the enemy, for the use of the State. It is a matter of the greatest importance in two aspects. First, it is essential, in order to delay, or to check altogether, Sherman’s march into the interior, that all food should be moved from in front of him. He must march across a waste. Not a pound of corn, rice or peas, or a bushel of potatoes must be left on his line of march, or anywhere, that he can get it, beyond the absolute necessities of those who cannot move. This fact all property owners in the State should understand at once. And this order every military man should be required strictly to enforce to the letter. Secondly, it is important that whilst cutting off all supplies from Sherman, so far as the produce of this State is concerned, we should not starve ourselves. This is Captain Mitchel’s mission. In all regions of the country threatened by the enemy, he is to gather up for the use of the State all the provisions except those absolutely requisite for the sustenance of those who are compelled by necessity to remain at home – old men, and cripples, women and children. It is a mission of incalculable importance, if properly enforced and thoroughly carried out.” ~ Charleston Mercury.

February 10– Friday– Albany Georgia– “We had to get up very early to catch the seven o’clock train to Americus. Jim met us at the depot, though there were so many of our acquaintances on board that we had no special need of an escort. Mr. George Lawton sat by me all the way from Smithville to Americus, and insisted on our paying his family a visit before leaving South-West Georgia. I wish I could go, for he lives near father’s old Tallassee plantation where I had such happy times in my childhood; but if we were to accept all the invitations that come to us, we would never get back home again. We reached Americus at ten and went straight to Cousin Bolling’s hospital. He was not there, but Dr. Howard, his assistant, told us he was in the village and would be at the office in a few minutes. All along the streets, as we were making our way from the depot to the hospital, we could recognize his patients going about with patches and shades and blue spectacles over their eyes, and some of them had blue or green veils on. We didn’t care to wait at the hospital in all that crowd of men, so we started out to visit the shops, intending to return later and meet Cousin Bolling. We had gone only a few steps when we saw him coming toward us. His first words were the announcement that he was married! I couldn’t believe him at first, and thought he was joking. Then he insisted that we should go home with him and see our new cousin. We felt doubtful about displaying our patched up Confederate traveling suits before a brand new bride from beyond the blockade, with trunk loads of new things, but curiosity got the better of us, and so we agreed to go home with him. He is occupying Colonel Maxwell’s house while the family are on the plantation in Lee county. When we reached the house with Cousin Bolling, Mrs. Pope – or ‘Cousin Bessie,’ as she says we must call her now– made us feel easy by sending for us to come to her bedroom, as there was no fire in the parlor, and she would not make company of us. She was a Mrs. Ayres, before her marriage to Cousin Bolling, a young widow from Memphis, Tennessee, and very prominent in society there. She is quite handsome, and, having just come from beyond the lines, her beautiful dresses were a revelation to us dowdy Confederates, and made me feel like a plucked peacock. Her hair was arranged in three rolls over the top of the head, on each side of the part, in the style called ‘cats, rats, and mice,’ on account of the different size of the rolls, the top one being the largest. It was very stylish. I wish my hair was long enough to dress that way, for I am getting very tired of frizzes; they are so much trouble, and always will come out in wet weather. We were so much interested that we stayed at Cousin Bolling’s too long and had to run nearly all the way back to the depot in order to catch our train. On the cars I met the very last man I would have expected to see in this part of the world – my Boston friend, Mr. Adams. He said he was on his way to take charge of a Presbyterian church in Eufaula, Alabama. He had on a broadcloth coat and a stovepipe hat, which are so unlike anything worn by our Confederate men that I felt uncomfortably conspicuous while he was with me. I am almost ashamed, nowadays, to be seen with any man not in uniform, though Mr. Adams, being a Northern man and a minister, could not, of course, be expected to go into the army. I believe he is sincere in his Southern sympathies, but his Yankee manners and lingo ‘sorter riles’ me, as the darkies say, in spite of reason and common sense. He talked religion all the way to Smithville, and parted with some pretty sentiment about the ‘sunbeam I had thrown across his path.’ I don’t enjoy that sort of talk from men; I like dash and flash and fire in talk, as in action. We reached Albany at four o’clock, and after a little visit to Mrs. Sims, started home, where we arrived soon after dark, without any adventure except being nearly drowned in the ford at Wright’s Creek.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

coatee dress, 1865

coatee dress, 1865

February 10–Friday– Columbus, Ohio– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 10– Friday– Jefferson City, Missouri– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 10– Friday– Lombardy, Ontario, Canada– Birth of Richard Gardiner Willis, politician and leader of the Conservative Party. [Dies February 24, 1929.]

Richard Gardiner Willis

Richard Gardiner Willis

A Shock to the Framework of Southern Society ~ January 1865 ~ 30th & 31st

A Shock to the Framework of Southern Society ~ Gideon Welles

slave auction

slave auction

After weeks of contentious debate, the House of Representatives passes the resolution for the Thirteenth Amendment to the U S Constitution, an amendment abolishing slavery which had passed the Senate some time ago, in April of 1864. This creates a dramatic change in a society where race-based slavery has existed since 1619. West Virginia takes steps to rehabilitate rebels . . . or else. Tennessee, Georgia and Kentucky continue to reel from fighting, both military and political. South Carolina prepares as best it can for the Yankee invaders.


January 30– Tuesday– Covington, Georgia– “As the moon has changed, Julia [the slave cook] has gone to making soap again. She is a strong believer in the moon, and never undertakes to boil her soap on the wane of the moon. ‘It won’t thicken, mistress – see if it does!’ She says, too, we must commence gardening this moon. I have felt a strong desire today that my captured boys might come back. Oh, how thankful I should feel to see them once more safe at home!” ~ Diary of Dolly Sumner Lunt Burge.

January 30– Tuesday– Franklin County, Tennessee– “I reside about six miles below Winchester in Franklin County Tennessee. I am married. My husband’s name is Luke Kelly. On or about sundown of the 20 of January1865 two men named Reagan and Sam Nance rode up to the house dismounted and entered the house by the back door said they wanted to see Kelly to induce him to go see Mr. Gillespie to induce him to intercede for them to see if they could get out of bushwhacking. I told them Kelly my husband would not be at home that night. They said they were going to stay at my house. I answered they could not that my husband was not at home. They said they would stay. After Kelly came home they requested him to intercede for them in order that they might return to their home. They then laid down by the fire and remained in that position until the Federal soldiers arrived a little before day. They surrounded the house and told me to make a light. They then come in the house and asked if any Bushwhackers were in the house. I told them there is and they inquired where. I said the next room. The Lieutenant asked me if I had taken the Oath [of allegiance to the United States government]. I stated I had not. The men who were in the house made some show of resistance but were overpowered by the soldiers. After doing this Federal soldiers asked if I could fix breakfast for them. I said I thought I could if they would help me. They assisted me in fixing the fire and such and that is all the conversation I recall at present as passing between myself and the soldiers mentioned. As soon as they took breakfast they left with their prisoners. They brought my husband and myself along with them. They asked me after I stated that Kelly was not at home for the Bushwhackers being there. That is all I remember of the conversation.” ~ Sworn testimony of Matilda Jane Kelly.

George Whitman, Walt's soldier brother

George Whitman, Walt’s soldier brother

January 31– Tuesday– Brooklyn, New York– “I received your letter to day glad to hear that you was getting along so nicely and feeling so well. I hope you will write me often I feel very sad and downhearted to-night. I have just been reading about the prisoners as detailed before the committee on the conduct of the war– isn’t it perfectly awful? . . . Poor mother reads about the treatment of prisoners and will set with her head in her hand for an hour afterward– she seems to feel it much more for the last few days than she did . . . . Mother is quite well but downhearted. Mattie and the children are very well and the young ones grow like everything. Last night Morris Roberts– a friend of George’s and Andrew’s– died of spotted fever– you of course remember him– he was superintendent of the poor– he caught it somehow connected with his business. I understand that there is a great deal of it in the city some 9 cases in Johnson street near [the] Navy [Yard]. No news to tell– write me– all send love.” ~ Letter from Jeff Whitman to his brother Walt.

January 31– Tuesday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “A bill is now before the House of Delegates which provided that any person who shall have heretofore borne arms or who shall hereafter bear arms against the government of the United States, or of this State, shall be required within thirty days after the passage of this act to take and subscribe an oath that they will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of West Virginia, to be filed in the office of the recorder of the county where such person resides. Any person failing to comply with the requirements of the law shall be liable to fine or imprisonment, or both, at the discretion of the Circuit Court of the county where such person resides. The bill also provides that from and after thirty days from the passage of the act no contract or obligation entered into with any such person as is embraced in the law, shall be binding or obligatory upon any one, either in law or equity; and it shall be a sufficient bar to any action, either in law or enforce the same has either borne arms, or held or accepted office, as named in the first section of this act. Any person liable to the penalties imposed by the act, who shall refuse within six months from its passage to take the oath prescribed shall be compelled to leave the State.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

January 31– Tuesday–Washington, D. C.– “I transmit herewith a communication from the Secretary of War, covering papers bearing on the arrest and imprisonment of Colonel Richard T. Jacobs, lieutenant-governor of the State of Kentucky, and Colonel Frank Wolford, one of the Presidential electors of that State, requested by resolution of the Senate dated December 20, 1864.” ~ Message from President Lincoln to the Senate. [Jacobs and Wolford had supported General McClellan in the presidential election, for which the governor of Kentucky, Thomas Bramlette, had them arrested. Lincoln secures their release.]

Thomas Bramlette, Governor of Kentucky

Thomas Bramlette, Governor of Kentucky

January 31– Tuesday–Washington, D. C.– The House of Representatives finally passes the resolution for the Thirteenth Amendment. “1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

excitement in the House of Representatives after the adoption of the proposed 13th Amendment

excitement in the House of Representatives after the adoption of the proposed 13th Amendment

January 31– Tuesday–Washington, D. C.– “I made a short stay at Cabinet to-day. The President was about to admit a delegation from New York to an interview which I did not care to attend. The vote was taken to-day in the House on the Constitutional Amendment abolishing slavery, which was carried 119 to 56. It is a step towards the reestablishment of the Union in its integrity, yet it will be a shock to the framework of Southern society. But that has already been sadly shattered by their own inconsiderate and calamitous course. When, however, the cause, or assignable cause for the Rebellion is utterly extinguished, the States can and will resume their original position, acting each for itself. How soon the people in those States will arrive at right conclusions on this subject cannot now be determined.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

January 31– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Accounts of refugees from Savannah, heretofore published in this paper, concur in stating that General Sherman has publicly declared that he may not be able to restrain his troops when he invades South Carolina, and he does not know that he shall attempt to. Every-one knows what the rank and file of invading armies are most composed of. They are, in general, the refuse of society, the scum of the nations, outcasts, outlaws and Pariahs of the earth. Even the few of them who before were respectable citizens, become demoralized by their removal from the social and moral influences of home and the evil associations and temptations of their new mode of life. That the Yankee armies are no exception to this rule, is manifest from the hideous crimes and hard track of desolation which, even when professedly restrained by their commanders, have signalized their march through the South. What human imagination can compass the horrors which the removal of all restraint from such armies means? It means the burning of every house, the dishonor of every woman, the indiscriminate murder of old and young from one end of South Carolina to the other. That is what it means; nothing more, nothing less. General Sherman need not say that he cannot restrain his troops. If he cannot, he is unfit for his position. Any general, who chooses, has at his disposal ample means of enforcing discipline and good behavior. When Sherman intimates his doubts whether he shall attempt to restrain his soldiers, he gives us the only reason why he cannot. It remains to be seen whether our own military authorities will be able, or be inclined, to restrain the vengeance with which such dispositions should be resisted and punished.” ~ Richmond Times Dispatch.

Federal cavalry

Federal cavalry

January 31– Tuesday– somewhere in southeastern South Carolina– “We are well-situated in our present camp. But the Yanks are advancing, and it will not be long until this will all be over. And the campaign will open and then South Carolina will be overrun by the foul invader. We have a great many reports through camps, and one is that there is a Union flag flying from the courthouse at Hamilton, which reports I do not believe. But one I know that there was great many secessh about there, and if they have changed as much as the secessh of this state, they are willing to do anything to save their state. They were first for war, and they think it right to be first for peace. But I tell them they know nothing about war as yet, and they must wait until the yanks get full possession of the state and then they can be to realize what war is and not till then. I am very anxious to have peace, if we can have it in the proper way. And if not, my voice is still for war, but it seems to me that we have had war long enough to have peace on good terms.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to his wife.

January 31– Tuesday– Albany, Georgia– “Sister and I spent the morning making calls. At the tithing agent’s office, where she stopped to see about her taxes, we saw a battalion of Wheeler’s cavalry, which is to be encamped in our neighborhood for several weeks. Their business is to gather up and take care of broken-down horses, so as to fit them for use again in baggage trains and the like. At the postoffice a letter was given me, which I opened and read, thinking it was for me. It began ‘Dear Ideal’and was signed ‘Yours forever.’ I thought at first that Captain Hobbs or Albert Bacon was playing a joke on me, but on making inquiry at the office, I learned that there is a cracker girl [a poor white] named Fanny Andrews living down somewhere near Gum Pond, for whom, no doubt, the letter was intended; so I remailed it to her. As we were sitting in the parlor after supper, there was another lumbering noise of heavy feet on the front steps, but it was caused by a very different sort of visitor from the one we had Sunday night. A poor, cadaverous fellow came limping into the room, and said he was a wounded soldier, looking for work as an overseer. He gave his name as Etheridge, and I suspect, from his manner, that he is some poor fellow who has seen better days. Sister engaged him on the spot, for one month, as an experiment, though she is afraid he will not be equal to the work.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

cartoon depicting Georgia "crackers"

cartoon depicting Georgia “crackers”

January 31– Tuesday– Paris, France– Birth of Henri Desgrange, sports journalist, bicycle racer and founder of the Tour-de-France. [Dies August 16, 1940.]

Henri Desgrange

Henri Desgrange

This Insane Measure ~ January 1865 ~ 25th to 27th

This Insane Measure ~ Charleston Mercury

The major Charleston newspaper, which has increasing criticized President Jeff Davis, blasts the idea of arming slaves to serve in the ever decreasing ranks of the Confederate army. A Northern sympathizer in Savannah writes of her relief at Sherman’s capture of the city. A young Southern woman writes of the problems in the Andersonville prison camp and wonders why an immigrant would fight for the Union cause when his home country struggles for freedom. Abolitionists anticipate the success of their cause as the propose 13th Amendment advances. Walt and Jeff Whitman worry about family matters.


January 25– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “A New York paper publishes a private letter from a lady in Savannah, received in that city since the fall of Savannah. It shows who have been delighted at the arrival of the Yankees. The following is an extract: ‘Next door to me is quartered a portion of the Twentieth corps, New York Volunteers. They are so delighted to hear I am from New York that my kitchen is just filled all the time with them. Sarah takes great delight in making coffee for them, and doing for them what we can. I have a picket walking up and down before my door all day and night, to guard me, and they take the best care of me . . . . It is glorious, my dear sister, to be free once more and fell that I will soon be with you all, to stay just as long as I please. This morning I went to St. John’s Church. Mr. McRae preached. He did not read the prayer for the President of the United States, but will next Sunday. All the churches were open to-day, except Christ Church. The Bishop left. I hope it will be open on Sunday, for I shall take great pleasure in seeing a Union man in the pulpit. The Bishop sent off his assistant before he left. What fools some people have been! They will see their folly when too late, I fear. . . . I have so much to tell you all; I am nearly beside myself with joy. Last evening I sent General Sherman a Christmas present. May God bless him, for he has brought more joy to my heart than has been there for many a long day.’” ~ Richmond Times Dispatch.

January 25– Wednesday– Albany, Georgia– “Dined at Judge Vason’s, where there was a large company. He is very hospitable and his house is always full of people. Albert Bacon came in from Gum Pond and called in the afternoon, bringing letters, and the letters brought permission to remain in South-West Georgia as long as we please, the panic about Kilpatrick having died out. I would like to be at home now, if the journey were not such a hard one. Garnett and Mrs. Elzey are both there, and Mary Day is constantly expected. I have not seen Garnett for nearly three years. He has resigned his position on General Gardiner’s staff, and is going to take command of a battalion of ‘galvanized Yankees,’ with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. I don’t like the scheme. I have no faith in Yankees of any sort, especially these miserable turncoats that are ready to sell themselves to either side. There isn’t gold enough in existence to galvanize one of them into a respectable Confederate.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

Eliza Frances Andrews

Eliza Frances Andrews

January 26– Thursday– Brooklyn, New York– “Mother received your letter to-night– we were all very glad to hear that you arrived so nicely and were so well established. The enclosed two letters came to-day. I sent the box to dear brother George yesterday at noon directed just as you left word. I got some hoop iron and strapped the box up strong. I don’t suppose there can be anything wrong in sending it strapped in that way– do you suppose there is? I had in it a ham piece of smoked beef, can of milk (condensed), coffee, can of peaches, crackers, potatoes, salt and the clothes that he sent for. I think I will send him another next week or week after. We were all elated upon seeing the letters published yesterday about the exchange of prisoners. O I so hope they will make an exchange– can you not write something that will keep up the talk about the matter, sometimes little weights when they fall at the right moment turn the scale and accomplish great results Seems as if it would be worth almost a life time to help along such a thing as the general exchange of prisoners. So you have assumed the duties and honors of an officer of the government. Mother was wondering at tea to-night what you would have to do. . . . I suppose you have not yet had time to tell what the business is about but anyhow if it is only a comfortable berth without too much hard work, it will come in good. I hope you will have good health. I would suggest that you should not go it too strong in the Hospital way, for a while. I would draw it mild for a month or so. How does it seem to you to go back? I suppose it looks quite natural. I hope to be able to come and make you a visit soon– probably some time next month. Write to me Walt. I like to hear from you often.” ~ Letter from Jeff Whitman to his brother Walt.

January 26– Thursday– Charleston, South Carolina– “The project now agitated by the Jeff Davis devotees, and others carries away from common sense by their influence and the panic of the present situation to which their weakness has brought our affairs, is virtually the abolition of slavery, in order to put two hundred thousand Negroes in the army. These Negroes are to achieve the independence of white men. We have said the project is that of panic stricken men is desperate, destructive, utterly hopeless. . . . It was the opinion of Mr. [John C] Calhoun [1784– 1850], and is the opinion of the wisest statesmen that South Carolina has produced, that slavery is essential to the existence of a Republican Government. Remove this element of stability and conservatism, and you launch the Government into a mobocracy. We already see to what it has brought the Northern people, in spite of the conservative element of slavery in the South, heretofore acting as a balance wheel to their radical sentiments. And yet the Northern people had the vast and boundless territories of the West, that acted as a huge flood gate to their populace. Yet, in spite of both of these checks, where are they drifting? A few years more, when the territories are stocked by these herding brutes – with the conservative element of slavery removed – and where will they be? Where are they? Rushing straight into every radicalism, and every other ism – driving into revolution, dyed in blood, sinking into despotism – military rule – empire. . . . The project is utterly vain to waste words upon, without this first promise – general emancipation. But will even this insane measure make the matter better? Not one whit; but, on the contrary, much worse. For it is out of our power to keep up with the Yankee bids. What does the Yankee offer him in the ranks? A large belly full every day, a plenty of meat, grog, good clothes, shoes and physical comfort, and, at present, an apparently winning cause. What have we to offer him when we seize him and put him in our ranks? A lank belly, hard work, a plenty of bullets, scant clothing, and a cause so hard pressed as to require his help – a cause so rough that even white men, fighting for their homes, for their wives, and for their independence, fly from the ranks, and leave their standards and their comrades. Could a proposition be more absolutely absurd? The Negro will not fight in the cause, under these circumstances. Not one can be retained in the ranks, and will desert to the enemy. Placed in the line of battle, when pressed by heavy fire he will run, and break the line, and lose the day in consequence. Placed on guard on pickets, he can never be trusted. The counter-siege will be a farce, and he will lead the enemy into the camp. Out of the two hundred thousand muskets put into their hands, one hundred and fifty thousand at least will be presented by him to the enemy. You will only arm the enemy, and fill his ranks, ten for one. The whole project is insane, demoralizing, destructive, hopeless. The wall of panic, and the cry of despair resounds through every though connected with it. Away with the folly!” ~ Charleston Mercury.

Senator John C Calhoun, pro-slavery advocate

Senator John C Calhoun, pro-slavery advocate

January 26– Thursday– Macon, Georgia– “While God has punished us terribly for our wickedness, and for the abuse of the institution [slavery] which He has committed to us, we do not believe that He purposes the destruction of that institution.” ~ The Christian Index.

January 26– Thursday– Collector, New South Wales, Australia– The infamous Bushrangers Ben Hall, Johnny Gilbert and John Dunn hold up Kimberley’s Inn in the town. Dunn shoots and kills the local police officer, Constable Samuel Nelson.

Ben Hall, notorious Australian outlaw

Ben Hall, notorious Australian outlaw

January 27– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “It was expected that thy presence would open this rememberable movement– the first of the kind– in our city. It was with the deepened pain we learned that illness prevented thy comings and a profound sympathy went out from that meeting and many a fervent prayer for they speedy recovery. The substitution of our revered friend George Thompson was warmly appreciated. It was generous in thee, and magnanimous in him. His very soul seemed electrified with the sight of white and colored people mingled together in so much earnest of purpose. It was a splendid oration. His reference to your early and long-continued friendship, and his searching examination into the difficulties that surround our country, were happily and feelingly referred to. The climax of his oration was in bringing the matter to our very threshold. ‘Begin at home!’ he said,’make diligent haste to fit yourselves for universal freedom.’ . . . Mr. Thompson spoke for nearly two hours, and seemed almost overcome. Indeed, upon his arrival at my house, I noticed he was much fatigued, He is very weary with his constant labors. We must take care of him; he needs rest. . . . The colored people arc making laudable efforts, and must succeed in gaining that recognition and equality which are their birth-right and their salvation, and the salvation of our nation.” ~ Letter from Alfred H. Love of Philadelphia to William Lloyd Garrison, reprinted in The Liberator.

George Thompson, British abolitionist

George Thompson, British abolitionist

January 27– Friday– Albany, Georgia– “While going our rounds in the morning, we found a very important person in Peter Louis, a paroled Yankee prisoner, in the employ of Captain Bonham. The captain keeps him out of the stockade, feeds and clothes him, and in return, reaps the benefit of his skill. Peter is a French Yankee, a shoemaker by trade, and makes as beautiful shoes as I ever saw imported from France. My heart quite softened towards him when I saw his handiwork, and little Mrs. Sims was so overcome that she gave him a huge slice of her Confederate fruit cake. I talked French with him, which pleased him greatly, and Mett and I engaged him to make us each a pair of shoes. I will feel like a lady once more, with good shoes on my feet. I expect the poor Yank is glad to get away from Anderson on any terms. Although matters have improved somewhat with the cool weather, the tales that are told of the condition of things there last summer are appalling. Mrs. Brisbane heard all about it from Father Hamilton, a Roman Catholic priest from Macon, who has been working like a good Samaritan in those dens of filth and misery. It is a shame to us Protestants that we have let a Roman Catholic get so far ahead of us in this work of charity and mercy. Mrs. Brisbane says Father Hamilton told her that during the summer the wretched prisoners burrowed in the ground like moles to protect themselves from the sun. It was not safe to give them material to build shanties as they might use it for clubs to overcome the guard. These underground huts, he said, were alive with vermin and stank like charnel houses. Many of the prisoners were stark naked, having not so much as a shirt to their backs. He told a pitiful story of a Pole who had no garment but a shirt, and to make it cover him the better, he put his legs into the sleeves and tied the tail round his neck. The others guyed him so on his appearance, and the poor wretch was so disheartened by suffering, that one day he deliberately stepped over the deadline and stood there till the guard was forced to shoot him. But what I can’t understand is that a Pole, of all people in the world, should come over here and try to take away our liberty when his own country is in the hands of oppressors. One would think that the Poles, of all nations in the world, ought to sympathize with a people fighting for their liberties. Father Hamilton said that at one time the prisoners died at the rate of 150 a day, and he saw some of them die on the ground without a rag to lie on or a garment to cover them. Dysentery was the most fatal disease, and as they lay on the ground in their own excrements, the smell was so horrible that the good father says he was often obliged to rush from their presence to get a breath of pure air. It is dreadful. My heart aches for the poor wretches, Yankees though they are, and I am afraid God will suffer some terrible retribution to fall upon us for letting such things happen. If the Yankees ever should come to South-West Georgia, and go to Anderson and see the graves there, God have mercy on the land! And yet, what can we do? The Yankees themselves are really more to blame than we, for they won’t exchange these prisoners, and our poor, hard-pressed Confederacy has not the means to provide for them, when our own soldiers are starving in the field. Oh, what a horrible thing war is when stripped of all its ‘pomp and circumstance’!” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

Andersonville prison

Andersonville prison

January 27– Friday– Genoa, Italy– Giuseppe Rocca, master violin maker, dies at 56 years of age.

Fight For Charleston! ~ January 1865 ~ 21st to 24th

Fight for Charleston!

Dozens of women in Charleston, South Carolina, call on their men to fight the Yankees to the death. An exchanged Confederate prisoner reports that morale is high among rebel soldiers in Northen prison camps. Yet another soldier writes to his wife that desertions from the Confederate ranks are increasing and morale is low. A Tennessee woman notes that the war is demoralizing every body. Like other Northerners, George Templeton Strong sees the end of slavery as necessary to re-establishment of the Union. Whitman has a job in Washington.

slave auction

slave auction

January 21– Saturday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “It has been a long time since I have seen or heard from you, and I suppose that you have nearly forgotten me, but if you will think back you will remember a man by my name, whom you met in Carver Hospital Washington D. C. where we met then the first time. I never expected to be able to write you a line in the year 1865, but I have been spared for some other purpose I suppose. And now you will please accept my thanks for all the favors that you have shown me while lying then unable to help myself. Lieutenant Babcock has this morning recd a letter from Lieutenant Caldwell. Caldwell and all the rest of our officers are in Danville Military Prison Virginia, he mentions Major Wright, Captain Whitman . . . [and others] they are all doing well, & all they ask for is for something to eat, Hard Bread and Pork, or anything that can be sent them, and as it is impossible for us to get them anything how I hope some of you good people at home will try and do something for them. Lieutenant Babcock has shown me a memorial of the Old 51st and if you could possibly send me a few copies I would be very much obliged to you for your trouble. Once more allow me to thank you for your kindness toward me while in Hospital.” ~ Letter from Union officer Aaron Smith to Walt Whitman with news of Whitman’s brother George.

January 21– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– According to an article in today’s Richmond Times Dispatch the state of Georgia had16,000 slaves in 1776 and 381,682 slaves in 1850.

January 21– Saturday– Charleston, South Carolina– “From Colonel M. L. Woods, of the 46th Alabama regiment, who has just returned from imprisonment in the North, in which he remained for twenty months, we learn that there are now in the prison camp on Johnson Island, three thousand Confederate officers and two hundred private soldiers. For the first six or eight months after Colonel Weeds reached Johnson island, the prisoners were treated well. . . . What is most important, however, concerning our prisoners, is the spirit which animates them. They were never more enthusiastic in their patriotism, and were never more determined to fight through the war than now. They authorized Colonel Woods to say to the President and the Confederate Congress that, in the reorganization of the army, which they anticipated, any claims which they might have as officers should be entirely disregarded. They are perfectly willing to shoulder their muskets and march in the ranks of the army. The general spirit of Confederate prisoners – privates as well as officers – throughout the North, was undaunted and determined; and whilst a large number of soldiers are reported to have taken the oath of allegiance to the United States, Colonel Woods knows that the number is not only grossly exaggerated, but that a large number who do take the oath only do so to enable them to get out of the clutches of their keepers and return to the Confederacy.” ~ Charleston Mercury.

johnson island index01

January 21– Saturday– somewhere in southeast South Carolina– “I see the citizens of Savannah has held a Union meeting and passed resolutions in favor of going back into the Union. They say they are going to send one copy to the Mayor of Augusta, one to the Mayor of Atlanta, one to Macon, one to Columbus and one to the President of the United States. I suppose they treat them very well in Savannah! I had the chance of [a] lieutenant position the other day and would not accept it. All I want is to get out of this war. Sallie, when you write me let me know the people’s notions at home about the war. Let me know what your notions are. I will tell you what mine are: I am whipped. Sallie, we are a ruined people. There is no chance for us. Good many of our regiments are deserting. They are in low spirits. Tom Sanders from our county has deserted, but I don’t think I will ever desert. I will stay with them until the war ends or they kill me. I think the best thing we can do is to go back into the Union. The Negroes are certain to be set free. Sallie, we have done all that we can. That’s my notion, Sallie. Remember me in this dark hour of trial.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to his wife Sallie.

Federal ambulances

Federal ambulances

January 21– Saturday– Albany, Georgia– “I never in all my life knew such furious rains as we had last night; it seemed as if the heavens themselves were falling upon us. In addition to the uproar among the elements, my slumbers were disturbed by frightful dreams about Garnett. Twice during the night I dreamed that he was dead and in a state of corruption, and I couldn’t get anybody to bury him. Colonel Avery and Captain Mackall were somehow mixed up in the horrid vision, trying to help me, but powerless to do so. In the morning, when we waked, I found that Metta also had dreamed of Garnett’s death. I am not superstitious, but I can’t help feeling more anxious than usual to hear news of my darling brother. The rain held up about dinner time and Mrs. Sims determined to return to Albany, in spite of high waters and the threatening aspect of the sky. We went five miles out of our way to find a place where we could ford Wright’s Creek, and even there the water was almost swimming. Mett and I were frightened out of our wits, but Mrs. Sims told us to shut our eyes and trust to Providence, and Providence and Uncle Aby between them brought us through in safety. At some places in the woods, sheets of water full half a mile wide and from one to two feet deep were running across the road, on their way to swell the flood in Flint River. Sister sent a Negro before us on a mule to see if the water-courses were passable. We had several bad scares, but reached town in safety a little after dark.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

January 21 – Saturday– Paris, France– Joseph Xavier Boniface Saintine, novelist and dramatist, dies at age 66.


January 21– Saturday– Helsinki, Finland– The painter Johan Erik Lindh dies at 71 years of age.

January 22– Sunday– New York City– “I have faith in Uncle Abe’s sagacity and honesty and in Stanton’s vindictiveness. They favor no pacification that leaves the sources of this war still open and the Slaveocracy in existence to recover its strength and rebel a second time. They know that peace and union cannot be secured without utterly squelching slavery and slaveholders.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

January 22– Sunday– Bolivar, Tennessee– “The war seems to be demoralizing every body. . . . Some of the very nicest girls of this county are throwing themselves, their honor and good name away, losing control over fiendish passions, ruining themselves forever in the eyes of the world. Oh will people never be brought to their senses!” ~ Diary of Sally Wendel Fentress.

January 22– Sunday– Albany, Georgia– “The rains returned with double fury in the night and continued all day. If ‘the stars in their courses fought against Sisera,’ it looks as if the heavens were doing as much for us against Kilpatrick and his raiders. There was no service at St. Paul’s, so Mrs. Sims kept Metta and me in the line of duty by reading aloud High Church books to us. They were very dull, so I didn’t hurt myself listening. After dinner we read the Church service and sang hymns until relieved by a call from our old friend, Captain Hobbs.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

January 22– Sunday– Schwerin, Germany– Birth of Friedrich Paschen, educator and physicist. [Dies February 25, 1947.]

Friedrich Paschen

Friedrich Paschen

January 23– Monday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia, That our senators in congress be instructed, and our representatives requested, to cast their votes in favor of the proposed amendment to the constitution of the United States for the abolishment of slavery.” ~ Resolution passed by the state legislature.

January 23– Monday– Paris, France– The painter Joseph Desire Court dies at 67 years of age.

woman on a couch by Joseph Desire Court

woman on a couch by Joseph Desire Court

January 24– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “Several members of the Cabinet, with myself, considered the question, to-day, as to the time of your coming on here. While we fully appreciate your wish to remain in Tennessee until her State government shall be completely re-inaugurated, it is our unanimous conclusion that it is unsafe for you to not be here on the 4th of March. Be sure to reach here by that time.” ~ Telegram from President Lincoln to Andrew Johnson.

January 24– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “You are hereby appointed to a Clerkship of the first class in the Office of Indian Affairs, of this Department, the salary of which is $1200 per annum, to commence when you have subscribed the enclosed oath, and entered upon duty.” ~ Letter from William T. Otto to Walt Whitman.

January 24– Tuesday– Charleston, South Carolina– “We beg, through your columns, to address, the General commanding South Carolina, and the Governor of this State. We, women of Charleston, not enthusiastic girls, but women whose hair has whitened through the anguish of this awful war, whose husbands, sons, brothers, have died for South Carolina and Charleston, entreat to be heard. We would say that we have listened, with grief and horror inexpressible, to the hints of abandoning to our foes, without a struggle, the city of our love. We urge, by all our titles to regard; we implore, as the greatest boon, fight for Charleston! Fight at every point – fight for every inch, and if our men must die, let them die amid the blazing ruins of our homes, their souls rising upward on the flames which save our city from the pollution of our enemy. Send out the women and children yet in the city. Thousands of Charleston women scattered through the land will share with them their all. They shall not starve. But let them be no excuse for deserting the sacred homes of us and our ancestors. . . . By the rain of blood and tears, which has fallen upon our hearts, never quenching, but brightening the flame of patriotism there, do not utterly crush those true hearts by this blow. We know, each of us, our husbands, our brothers, our sons, are not shrinking now. They are chafing at this fatal policy of retreat. They who have won their fame from the Savannah river to Charleston harbor, they ask but leave to fight on as they have fought. Do you but lead them on, not keep them back. We call upon the Commanding General to stand by us, to fight with us, heart and soul. We call upon our Governor, sworn to defend Carolina and her honor, to defend it here. Let the mantle of the dictator fall upon him, and if Charleston, defended to the hour, must then fall amidst her burning edifices and her homes – either to the sound of guns of our forts, as they send out their last defiance to the baffled foe.” ~ Letter signed by dozens of women to the editor of the Charleston Mercury.

Confederate women

Confederate women

January 24– Tuesday– Albany, Georgia– “Mr. and Mrs. Welsh spent the evening with us. Jim Chiles came last night and sat until the chickens crowed for day. Although I like Jimmy and enjoy his budget of news, I would enjoy his visits more if he knew when to go away. I never was so tired and sleepy in my life, and cold, too, for we had let the fire go out as a hint. When at last we went to our room I nearly died laughing at the way Metta had maneuvered to save time. She had loosened every button and string that she could get at without being seen, while sitting in the parlor, and had now only to give herself a good shake and she was ready for bed. We spent the morning making calls with Mrs. Sims, and found among the refugees from South Carolina a charming old lady, Mrs. Brisbane. Though past fifty, she is prettier than many a woman of half her years, and her manners would grace a court. Her father was an artist of note, and she showed us some beautiful pictures painted by him. After dinner we enjoyed some Florida oranges sent by Clinton Spenser, and they tasted very good, in the absence of West India fruit.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

To Eradicate the Aristocratic Folly ~ January 1865 ~ 20th to 21st

To Eradicate the Aristocratic Folly ~ Gideon Welles

Welles comments on Southern society and the state of the rebellion. Abolitionists are cheered by an increasing stand against slavery. George Templeton Strong sighs about the newly rich. Whitman prepares to return to Washington and worries about his brother George, a prisoner of war. In Tennessee a man sees an opportunity to get even with people he does not like by making accusations to Federal authorities. A Richmond paper praises General Lee. A Charleston paper seeks someone to blame for the fall of Fort Fisher.


January 20– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–”The Anti-Slavery Convention held at Frankfort, Kentucky, on the 4th instant, already reported briefly by telegraph, was a large and enthusiastic gathering of the Union men of the state. Dr. P.S. Bell, chairman of the Union State Committee called the Convention to order . . . . The following resolutions were unanimously adopted: That we hereby request our senators and representatives in Congress to vote in favor of submitting a proposed amendment of the national Constitution, abolishing and prohibiting slavery throughout the domain of the United States; and that we invite the cooperation of the Legislature of Kentucky in carrying forward this request. That in the judgment of this convention, the slave-code of the State should be revised, repealed or modified, so as to be in accordance with the present status of affairs in Kentucky, so far as the State Constitution may permit.” ~ The Liberator.

January 20– Friday– Brooklyn, New York– “I suppose you must have heard from Ashton that I received Mr. Otto’s letter, & that I returned for answer that I would report myself to him on or about Tuesday 24th instant. During the week previous to 16th I was quite sick, but this week I am about as well as usual. I intend to leave here on Monday 23rd – shall take the 8 o’clock morning train, which will probably arrive in Washington about 7 in the evening. William, if you could hear of a room, I wish you would engage it for me . . . . take the first good room you find, if any, irrespective of price– it would do for a week or so, any how would like convenience for a fire, as I am susceptible to chill this winter. We got word yesterday by means of an exchanged prisoner, from my brother George, but only up to November 27– at that time he was at Danville, Virginia, in confinement with 350 other officers. We hear that he is full of fortitude & even good nature, but like all the rest, starved, miserable & naked, to the last degree. We are all well, home here. Last night another snow-storm, but fine & sunshiny this morning. So far this winter, snow, rain, mud, melt, fog, with spells of sharp cold. I have received a letter from Charles Eldridge, from an island off in the sea, far beyond Boston. I suppose you got my letter of some ten days since.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his friend William D. O’Connor.

George Whitman

George Whitman

January 20– Friday– Washington, D.C.– In response to the needs of the army, President Lincoln prohibits the exportation of hay until further notice.

January 20– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “The record of the great ever attracts the attention of mankind. History proves, however, that greatness is too often allied with qualities which cannot fail to excite pity, horror or disgust. Among the great of modern times, upon whom the eyes of Christendom have been turned, there has been none, up to the present day, save Washington, whose record is sustained and whose escutcheon is without blot. It is therefore with a justifiable pride that the people of the South may point to General Lee as an example, so rarely found, of goodness and greatness combined. Among our enemies, wicked as they are, none has been found to breathe a word against the honor, purity and patriotism of Robert E. Lee. Save him, there is no man of prominence in the South whom they have not slandered and belied. His simple word would outweigh in the land of our enemies the sworn attestation of their highest dignitaries. In Europe his word is the synonym of truth; and the respect shown his name in other lands is second only to that entertained for him in his own. The temple of his renown has not sprung up in a night. It took four years to build it. It stands to-day without a rival – its foundation laid in the heart of the people and its superstructure formed of noble and heroic deeds. Too earnest for words, this man, Robert E. Lee, does his work silently – all unconscious that on him are fixed the admiring glances of the world. If he is great in victory, he is sublime in defeat. His calm soul frets not at the decrees of Fate. He does what man can do, and leaves the rest to God. He has no time to talk. Mark Anthony, defeated at Actium, slew himself and died in the arms of a royal harlot. Lee, repulsed at Gettysburg, said, ‘It is my fault,’ and turned to his appointed work. No wonder men love him and can find no one with whom to liken him. Who thinks of calling Lee a Bayard, a Caesar or a Napoleon? When Jackson fell, we lost the Moses of the South; should Lee be taken from us, we should be without – Lee. He is indeed, the main prop of our cause. With him between them and the vandal hordes, men sleep in peace at night and dream of victory. Though the cause should perish, Lee will live. Time can do him no wrong. Should it be the decree of Providence that our people be exterminated and the land made desolate, the name and fame of Robert E. Lee, like the pyramids in the Egyptian desert, will stand a monument of former power and glory, exciting alike the wonder and the admiration of mankind.” ~ Richmond Times Dispatch.

Robert E Lee

Robert E Lee

January 20– Friday– Franklin County, Tennessee– “Names of some disloyal citizens of the Fourth district Franklin County Tennessee. A narration of their crimes and . . . as to what punishment they shall suffer for said crimes. Richard Arnold– A bushwhacker with Hays, he together with two others murdered a Loyal man named Samuel Kennedy in cold blood on October 15, 1864. Horace Allred– Harbors bushwhackers and bushwhacks himself occasionally, is one of the murderers of Kennedy, is a shoemaker and makes shoes for all the bushwhackers in the neighborhood. Bush– Nothing is known of the residence of this man or his name and probable the name ‘Bush’ is only a nickname. He is a bushwhacker. Joel Cunningham– He is the leader of a gang of bushwhackers 75 to 100 strong. Kill. Wesley Davis– Harbors Bushwhackers. Clean Out. . . . Jane Lipscum– A widow, Harbors bushwhackers. Clean Out. Curtis McCullum– Harbors bushwhackers and instigated his son and three others to murder in cold blood a Union man named Samuel Kennedy on October 15, 1864. He has tried his best to persuade every young man of his acquaintance in the neighborhood to join the gang of bushwhackers. His wife is as bad if not worse then he is. Has been doing all the devilment that he could ever since the war began. Hang And Burn. Cynthia McCollum– Wife of the above and also instigated her son to murder Kennedy, the same remarks that apply to her husband apply also to her with double force. She is a very bad and a very dangerous Woman. Shoot If You Can Make it Look like an Accident. Charlotte McCollum– An unmarried sister of the above is almost as bad as her mother. Burn Everything.” ~ A list written by Moses Pitman and given to Union General Milroy with recommendations as to how Federal soldiers should deal with these individuals. [The list continues, containing a total of 58 names.]

sailors reading the news

sailors reading the news

January 20– Friday– Charleston, South Carolina– “Night before last we went quietly to bed satisfied that all was right at Fort Fisher. Our attention, strained to the utmost for days, flagged and we went immediately to sleep. On yesterday morning we woke to find Fort Fisher captured. As we expected, General Whiting fought like a paladin. Both he and Colonel Lamb are seriously wounded and in the hands of the enemy. It is certain that generally, the Fort was fought with chivalric bravery. To this there were exceptions, to which, at some future time we may allude as a matter of justice to others. We cannot say when that time may occur. For the present it is enough for us to know that Fort Fisher has fallen; that a division of infantry in the field were in gun-shot, and did not fire a gun to save it, that we know of, and that heroic men like Whiting, Lamb and others are prisoners; that the last port of the Confederacy is gone, and that it ought to have been saved. We will not trust ourselves to say more. If we said anything, we might, possibly, give vent to our feelings. We do place the responsibility for our failure, but if we once commenced we might give too wide a vent. Our port ought not to have fallen. There is a responsibility – that responsibility will hereafter appear.” ~ Charleston Mercury.

January 21– Saturday– New York City– “The Honorable George P Marsh contributes to the treasury of the Sanitary Commission $500, being proceeds of copyright on his very able work, Man and Nature. Work is unequally paid in this world. This octavo volume of 550 pages, full of thought and research, brings the author $500. Success in developing a batch of petroleum wells give some Snooks or Snobins an income of $25,000 per annum.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

January 21– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “The congratulations and hearty cheer of the people over the victory at Fort Fisher are most gratifying. It is a comfort, too, to see, with scarcely an exception, that there is a rightful appreciation of the true merits of those who engaged in the contest, as well as of those who planned and persistently carried out this work. . . . I am apprehensive, from the statement of Stanton, and of others also, that the Rebels are not yet prepared to return to duty and become good citizens. They have not, it would seem, been humbled enough, but must be reduced to further submission. Their pride, self-conceit, and arrogance must be brought down. They have assumed superiority, and boasted and blustered, until the wretched boasters had brought themselves to believe they really were a superior class, better than the rest of their country-men, or the world. Generally these vain fellows were destitute of any honest and fair claim to higher lineage or family, but are adventurers, or the sons of adventurers, who went South as mechanics or slave-overseers. The old stock have been gentlemanly aristocrats, to some extent, but lack that common-sense energy which derives its strength from toil. The Yankee and Irish upstarts or their immediate descendants have been more violent and extreme than the real Southerners, but working together they have wrought their own destruction. How soon they will possess the sense and judgment to seek and have peace is a problem. Perhaps there must be a more thorough breakdown of the whole framework of society, a greater degradation, and a more effectual wiping out of family and sectional pride in order to eradicate the aristocratic folly which has brought the present calamities upon themselves and the country. If the fall of Savannah and Wilmington will not bring them to conciliatory measures and friendly relations, the capture of Richmond and Charleston will not effect it. They may submit to what they cannot help, but their enmity will remain. A few weeks will enlighten us.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

Gideon Welles

Gideon Welles

How I Hate Yankees ~ January 1865~ the 8th to 12th

How I Hate Yankees ~ Eliza Frances Andrews.

cavalry battle images

Anger and resentment simmer in Georgia. Many people are concerned not only with sick and wounded soldiers but also with the increasing number of permanently disabled veterans. The Charleston newspaper continues to criticize President Jeff Davis. Whitman prepares to return to Washington where a paying job awaits him. In Oberlin, Ohio, religious enthusiasm continues as it does in many places during the war. The Lincoln Administration investigates General Sherman’s treatment of freed slaves.

January 8– Sunday– near Macon, Georgia– “I wish to ask you what is to become of such men as I that is disabled and cannot get what is due them from the government. I cannot work for a living with one hand. Times is so no one won’t hire a overseer. And I wish to know what I am to do, if I can look to Georgia for help or have I got to turn out in the world. These times are [hard], after fighting in this cruel war until I was ruined for life, when I had nothing in the world to fight for but myself, without parents or relation or property of any kind, though I considered it my duty to fight for the country, and I did so until I was disabled. Since that time it looks like the world has forsaken me and cares not for a man no longer than he is able for the battlefield. I hope you will adopt some plan that I may draw what is due me or some plan that I may get some clothing without turning out in the world a beggar or being sent to the poor house. I will close, hoping that you will consider my condition and let me hear from you soon.” ~ Letter from a disabled Confederate soldier to Georgia Governor Joseph Brown.

veteran who lost both arms

veteran who lost both arms

January 8– Sunday– Dooly County, Georgia– “Sure enough Sherman has reached the coast. I believe he can go any where he pleases. Some predict that he will take Augusta next. I hope this letter will go through first. I’m about to despair of our ever gaining our independence. We have had so many reverses of late. I still think this spring, the struggle will be decided. Let our fate be what it may, I want to see it. I wish the suspense to be done away with.” ~ Letter from Maggie Cone to her fiancé, Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer.

Alva Benjamin Spencer

Alva Benjamin Spencer

January 9– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “I transmit herewith the letter of the Secretary of War, with accompanying report of the Adjutant-General, in reply to the resolution of the House of Representatives dated December 7, 1864, requesting me ‘to communicate to the House the report made by Colonel Thomas M. Key of an interview between himself and General Howell Cobb on the 14th day of June, 1862, on the bank of the Chickahominy, on the subject of the exchange of prisoners of war.’” ~ Message from President Lincoln to Schuyler Colfax, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

January 9– Monday– Charleston, South Carolina– “The Confederacy at this moment is in much the condition of a man who, having more than once got his enemy under him, with his knee up on his breast, and his hand upon his throat, is, while in the act of dealing him his death blow, assailed from behind by one whom he had supposed to be his best friend, whilst the enemy is released from his grasp for the third or fourth time. Staggering upon his legs from repeated blows from behind, confronting his released and enraged antagonist– weakened in strength, shaken in nerve, sick at heart – his efforts all vain, his skill all vain, his success all vain, exhausted by his long struggle, stunned by the fore blows, reeling he still bears up and endeavors to summon back his ebbing energies. If conquered, he falls not by the force of the enemy in front, but by the unlooked for blows from behind. Yet, had he expected this foul play, could he at any time by one effort have felled this puny creature in his rear. Even yet he might free himself of his presence, and, retreating slowly before his antagonist in front, gradually collect his strength and hurl him back to the ground. Will he do it? or will he suffer himself to perish by this foul play?” ~ Charleston Mercury.

January 10– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, in accordance with the recommendation of the Secretary of the Treasury, do hereby declare and proclaim that the port of St. Albans, in the State of Vermont, is and shall be entitled to all the privileges in regard to the exportation of merchandise in bond to the British North American Provinces [Canada] adjoining the United States which are extended to the ports enumerated in the seventh section of act of Congress of the 3rd of March, 1845, aforesaid, from and after the date of this proclamation.” ~ Proclamation by President Lincoln.

President Jeff Davis, Confederate States of America

President Jeff Davis, Confederate States of America

January 10– Tuesday– Charleston, South Carolina– “We turn our eyes to Richmond, and the contrast [with Washington] is appalling, sickening to the heart. In the Cabinet, and in Congress, in the conduct of foreign affairs, in the military service, from the commanding generals to quartermaster clerks, everywhere there reigns a pandemonium of imbecility, laxity, weakness, failure. Not that there are not many brave and able men in the army. We have an abundance of both. But that they are so circumscribed and controlled as to produce weakness throughout. In the beginning of the war, when we had the basis upon which to have established a firm, solid financial system, all efforts were vain, all counsel vain, to have anything done with a view to a fixed, financial system. . . . It is there [in the military] where the fuming passions of Executive petty tyranny strike most directly at the heart of the Confederacy, by a corrupt and unscrupulous exercise of delegated power, in proscribing and ejecting from position, or forcing entirely out of the service, the very foremost military men in America; whilst men notoriously incompetent are made the pivots of our destinies. Nor are these remarks applicable alone to the leaders of armies; but on every side we see petty favorites lifted up to promotions and pushed into positions of importance whilst men of magnificent gallantry and accomplished minds are suffered to fight on in the ranks, or to fall in some position of inferior command. Political tools are rewarded with commissions as Brigadier and Major Generals, whilst their friends, relations and acquaintances generally fill up the lower grades of promotion. Not soldiers to lead armies are sought, but creatures to whine at the foot of the Executive; or else, honest, but incompetent men are made use of, as sticks to lay over the heads of some personal pet hatred. As an inevitable consequence, laxity and inefficiency prevails everywhere in the army. Imbeciles and good-for-naughts hold high commissions and low commissions – there is no responsibility anywhere – no discipline is enforced – men straggle and desert – even officers do the same. But favorites cannot be shot, or cashiered, and it would not do for ‘Uncle Jeff’ to make himself unpopular with the men, by allowing the penalties of military law to be executed.” ~ Charleston Mercury.

January 11– Wednesday– Bergen County, New Jersey– “My Father & Mother are smart considering their age– they are still keeping House. George has been out here since last May– he is stout– he has done considerable work for me and we have had some nice rides going to the Political meetings last fall and we have elected our Man and I hope and pray he will with God’s help settle this trouble before long. Walter I am sorry to inform you that I never got the paper you sent me and I think you better come out here yourself and give us the particulars yourself – we would be very happy to see you, we all send our best respects to you and all your friends. You will see my pen and ink are both poor and myself a poor writer so I will close by wishing you a happy New Year.” ~ Letter from Herman Storms to his friend Walt Whitman.

January 11– Wednesday– Oberlin, Ohio–”The Religious Interest manifested during the Fall Term, attending the earnest labors of President [Charles] Finney still continues, as is evidenced by the number who united with the First Church on last Sabbath. Eighteen new members were added– a good beginning for the new year. The Young People’s Meeting on Monday evening is always crowded now, and we may hope that much good is being done.” ~ Lorain County News.

January 11– Wednesday– Savannah, Georgia– Secretary of War Edwin Stanton arrives to meet with Union General William Tecumseh Sherman, not over military matters but rather in response to concerns expressed by others about Sherman’s treatment of freed slaves. Word had reached the North that during the march to the sea, a Union general, J. C. Davis, had caused the death of hundreds of freed slaves at Ebenezer Creek, when he ordered a pontoon bridge removed before the former slaves following his army could cross the creek. Few could swim, but rather than be left behind, many jumped in the water and drowned while trying to make to the other side. Also, it was rumor claimed that many of those left behind had been killed by Confederate cavalry. Stanton, a staunch abolitionist, decided to come personally to investigate. He first holds a meeting with Sherman and a group of twenty black ministers. Next, Stanton asks about enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation. Then, he asks Sherman to step out of the room while he asks the ministers about Sherman’s actions toward black people. They voice support for Sherman, describing him as “a friend and a gentleman” in his treatment of black people. Stanton calls Sherman back into the room to ask about the Ebenezer Creek tragedy. Sherman replies that the incident has been blown out of proportion. No black refugees were turned back, and General Davis had removed the bridge because he needed to carry it with him. General Sherman knows of no freed slaves killed by the Confederate cavalry. Whether Stanton is convinced or not, he ends his investigation.

Edwin Stanton

Edwin Stanton

January 12– Thursday– Bridgeville Delaware– “It is with the greatest pleasure that I seat myself to give you a few lines to let you know that your most welcome letter came safe to hand and you don’t know how glad I was to hear from you– I often thought of you and could not hear what had become of you. You stated in yours that you hoped that I had not forgotten you. I never will forget you so long as life should last. Uncle I have got very near well. The wound in my chest has got nearly well. I am so that I can go about and do light duty. Also my arm is getting along nicely but there is some slight pain yet but none to stop me from writing such a kind and affectionate friend as you have been to me. May God bless you forever– I can’t find words to tell you the love there is in me for you. I hope you & I may live to meet again on this earth if not I hope we shall meet in the world where there is no more parting.” ~ Letter from William H. Millis to his friend Walt Whitman.

January 12– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “Upon reporting at this Department and passing a satisfactory examination you will be appointed to a First Class Clerkship at a compensation of twelve hundred dollars per annum.” ~ Letter from Mr William T. Otto, U. S. Department of the Interior, to Walt Whitman. [The salary would equal $17,700 in today’s dollars, using the Consumer Price Index.]

January 12– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “[Georgia] Governor Brown has furloughed the new regiment recently organized at Macon. A correspondent of the Enquirer, writing on the 19th ultimo, says: The Governor reviewed our regiment at half-past 11 o’clock, and afterwards made us a short, but pointed, speech. I will now attempt to give a synopsis of his remarks for want of space. He sends all of us home on and after to-morrow. There was not a wet eye visible in the entire regiment. The Governor, it is thought, made many a vote by that little speech. He said we could go home now, but would remain subject to another call when the State required our services in the field. He hoped it would not be soon, however. All delinquents are to be tried by a military court-martial, to sit in Macon; and, if found guilty, the pains and penalties of desertion will be visited upon them. He complimented the Georgia militia, and said he had been assured by a distinguished Confederate general that they fought and won the bloody battle of Honey Hill, South Carolina; that the enemy’s loss there was fully one thousand; that he counted on the field one hundred dead Negroes and whites. We are to keep our organization intact, our powder dry, and to respond promptly whenever a call is made.” ~ Richmond Times Dispatch.

Union army doctors

Union army doctors

January 12– Thursday– Nashville, Tennessee– “On the 30th of December, 1864, Surgeon Brinton, superintendent of hospitals at Nashville, was directed to make use of such of the rebel surgeons as he might require in the treatment of the rebel wounded, being informed at the same time that, previous to putting them on duty, it was absolutely necessary for them to be put upon their written parole by the provost-marshal-general Department of the Cumberland. From all this it may be observed that everything was done in order to have the rebels properly cared for, both as sick men and prisoners of war. As soon as the Tennessee and Alabama Railroad shall be opened every wounded rebel in our possession whose life will not be endangered by so doing will be brought to Nashville, and not only those in the hospitals but those, too, who are scattered in the farm-houses through the country.” ~ Report from Dr George E. Cooper, U. S. Army, Medical Director.

January 12– Thursday– near Albany, Georgia– “I have a letter from Tolie; she is living in Montgomery, supremely happy, of course, as a bride should be. She was sadly disappointed at my absence from the wedding. The city is very gay, she says, and everybody inquiring about me and wanting me to come. If I wasn’t afraid the Yankees might cut me off from home and sister, too, I would pick up and go now. Yankee, Yankee, is the one detestable word always ringing in Southern ears. If all the words of hatred in every language under heaven were lumped together into one huge epithet of detestation, they could not tell how I hate Yankees. They thwart all my plans, murder my friends, and make my life miserable.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

Eliza Frances Andrews

Eliza Frances Andrews