Tag Archives: Robert E Lee

Aiding Soldiers ~ March 1865 ~ 30th to 31st

Aiding Soldiers

black preacher

black preacher

It seems that slaves are not as happy and satisfied as their masters claimed. They are escaping in droves to Union lines, helping Confederate soldiers to desert and Yankees escaping from Southern prisons back to Federal positions. A modicum of Southern social life continues yet many from each side feel that the end draws near.

March 30– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Alexander, slave of William B. Randolph, of Henrico county, was sent to the city yesterday by General Longstreet, and committed to Castle Thunder, upon the charge of aiding soldiers to desert to the enemy from the Confederate services.” ~ Richmond Sentinel

March 30– Thursday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “I have endured this life for nearly four years and I sometimes think that I enjoy it. Great events are to happen in a few days and I want to be there to see the end. The end of the war will be the end of slavery and then our land will be the ‘Land of the free.’” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

Elisha Hunt Rhodes

Elisha Hunt Rhodes

March 30– Thursday– City Point, Virginia– “I begin to feel that I ought to be at home and yet I dislike to leave without seeing nearer to the end of General Grant’s present movement. He has now been out since yesterday morning and although he has not been diverted from his program no considerable effort has yet been produced so far as we know here. Last night at 10.15 P. M. when it was dark as a rainy night without a moon could be, a furious cannonade soon joined in by a heavy musketry fire opened near Petersburg and lasted about two hours. The sound was very distinct here as also were the flashes of the guns up the clouds. It seemed to me a great battle, but the older hands here scarcely noticed it and sure enough this morning it was found that very little had been done.” ~ Telegram from President Lincoln to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.

March 30– Thursday– Macon, Georgia– The state legislature has authorized the use of militia on horseback to stop the escape of slaves to Union lines.

March 30– Thursday– Presov, Austrian Empire [now in Slovakia]– Oleksandr Dukhnovych, priest, writer, educator and social activist, dies at age 61.

Oleksandr Dukhnovich

Oleksandr Dukhnovich

March 31– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “The Negroes would always assist the fugitives [Union soldiers escaping from Confederate prisons]; give them food, and pilot them to the best routes. They said that their masters generally offered them $25 reward to betray a Yankee. In spite of this tempting reward, they acted the part of the Good Samaritan in all cases. ‘They are,’ say the officers, ‘as true as steel in all cases.’ Captain Timpson says, while waiting at the banks of the Saluda River, pursued by a pack of hounds, the chivalry mounted on horseback, to the number of fifteen or twenty, armed with shot-guns, pursuing them, the slaves on the opposite shore hearing the baying of the hounds, one of them pushed into a boat, and rowed rapidly across. He knew from the sound of the dogs that they were in pursuit of some Yankee fugitives. The barking of the hounds grew louder and nearer, and the officers feared they would be overtaken and devoured before the boat could reach the shore. The faithful Negro pulled for dear life, took the officers into this boat, and bore them in safety beyond the reach of the men-hunters and their natural allies the bloodhounds, at the risk of his own life. He piloted the officers around the pickets, who were lying in wait for them, by which means they escaped. The slaves said: ‘Our masters curse you all the day, but we pray for you every night.’” ~ The Liberator.

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March 31– Friday– New York City– “Sherman’s officers say that their campaign was made possible by the order of the rebel government that corn be planted instead of cotton. . . . They marched through a land of groaning corn cribs and granaries, and their men and their animals entered Savannah in better flesh than when they left Atlanta.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

March 31– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “Raining; rained all night. My health improving, but prudence requires me to still keep within the house. The reports of terrific fighting near Petersburg on Wednesday evening have not been confirmed. Although General Lee’s dispatch shows they were not quite without foundation, I have no doubt there was a false alarm on both sides, and a large amount of ammunition vainly expended. . . .We are sinking our gun-boats at Chaffin’s Bluff, to obstruct the passage of the enemy’s fleet, expected soon to advance.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

March 31– Friday– Albany, Georgia– “Mrs. Callaway gave a large dining, and I wore a pretty new style of head dress Cousin Bessie told me how to make, that was very becoming. It is a small square, about as big as my two hands, made of a piece of black and white lace that ran the blockade, and nobody else has anything like it. One point comes over the forehead, just where the hair is parted, and the opposite one rests on top of the chignon behind, with a bow and ends of white illusion. It has the effect of a Queen of Scots cap, and is very stylish. The dining was rather pleasant. Kate Callaway’s father, Mr. Furlow, was there, with his youngest daughter, Nellie, who is lovely. As we were coming home we passed by a place where the woods were on fire, and were nearly suffocated by the smoke. It was so dense that we could not see across the road. On coming round to the windward of the conflagration it was grand. The smoke and cinders were blown away from us, but we felt the heat of the flames and heard their roaring in the distance. The volumes of red-hot smoke that went up were of every hue, according to the materials burning and the light reflected on them. Some were lurid yellow, orange, red, some a beautiful violet, others lilac, pink, purple or gray, while the very fat lightwood sent up columns of jet-black. The figures of the Negroes, as they flitted about piling up brush heaps and watching the fire on the outskirts of the clearing, reminded me of old-fashioned pictures of the lower regions.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

Dr Anandi Gopal Joshi

Dr Anandi Gopal Joshi

March 31– Friday– Kalyan, India– Birth of Anandi Gopal Joshi, who will become in March, 1886, the first South Asian woman to earn a degree as a physician of Western style medicine and probably the first Hindu woman to come to the United States. [Dies February 26, 1887, shortly after her return to India.]

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

I Make No Plans for the Future

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

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

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

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

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

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

cabin at City Point used as General Grant's headquarters

cabin at City Point used as General Grant’s headquarters

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

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

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

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

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

Extreme Peril at this Moment

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

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

Mary Todd Lincoln

Mary Todd Lincoln

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

field hospital

field hospital

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

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

George Templeton Strong

George Templeton Strong

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

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

a salute to fallen comrades

a salute to fallen comrades

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

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

the River Queen

the River Queen

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

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

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

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

A Many-sided Field-day

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

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

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

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

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

President Benito Juarez

President Benito Juarez

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

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

General Longstreet

General Longstreet

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

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

interior section of Fort Stedman

interior section of Fort Stedman

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

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

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

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

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

General Lee

General Lee

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

Wind Up Matters About Richmond ~ March 1865 ~ 18th to 22nd

Wind up Matters about Richmond

Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina

Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina

General Grant expresses optimism while a Confederate government clerk hopes for intervention by France on behalf of the Confederacy. Longstreet and Lee try to anticipate Grant’s next move. A Southern woman mourns the death of a slave. Families mourn the death of loved ones.

CW arms

March 18– Saturday– Lynchburg, Virginia– “Your model of gun is so incomplete that it will be useless to take it Richmond in it present condition & I haven’t time to have one made. I have left it in Farmers Bank with Mr. Lo. Norvell. I think you had better come here & complete the Model & take it Richmond But I have ascertained that you can do nothing with the government or any one else unless we can furnish the metal for its manufacture. I can get up a large company here if we can furnish the metal. So I think you had better go to Orono at once & put things through there & then start the gun nearly at the Armory works in Richmond are stopped for want of metal. Some very wealthy men are anxious to go into the iron business at Orono we get the iron & then we can go ahead with the gun. I would have written to you sooner, but have been worked half to death by generals in & around Lynchburg ever since I parted with you. Keep me acquainted with your movements.” ~ Letter from A. D. Robertson to Lorenzo Sibert.

March 18– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– The Congress of the Confederate States of America adjourns. [It will not meet again.]

March 18– Saturday– Warsaw, Poland– On or about this date, Anna Held is born. She will become a star in American musical comedy and common law wife of Florenz Ziegfeld. [Dies August 12, 1918.]

Anna Held, circa 1902

Anna Held, circa 1902

March 19 – Sunday– Milwaukee, Wisconsin– Birth of William Morton Wheeler, entomologist and educator. [Dies April 19, 1937.]

March 19– Sunday– Richmond, Virginia– “As beautiful a spring morning as ever dawned since the sun spread its glorious light over the Garden of Eden. Cannon is heard at intervals down the river; and as we have had a few days of wind and sunshine, the surface of the earth is becoming practicable for military operations. . . . Thousands of non-combatants and families, falling weekly within the power of Sherman’s army, have succumbed to circumstances and perforce submitted. I suppose most of those remaining in Savannah, Charleston, Wilmington, etc. have taken the oath of allegiance to the United States; and I hear of no censures upon them for doing so. Whether they will be permitted long to enjoy their property– not their slaves, of course– will depend upon the policy adopted at Washington. If it be confiscated, the war will certainly continue for years, even under the direction of President Davis, who is now quite unpopular. If a contrary course be pursued, the struggle may be more speedily terminated– perhaps after the next great battle. And Mrs. Davis has become unpopular with the ladies belonging to the old families. Her father, Mr. Howell, it is said was of low origin, and this is quite enough to disgust others of ‘high birth,’ but yet occupying less exalted positions. Ladies are now offering their jewels and plate at the Treasury for the subsistence of the army. It is not a general thing, however. Yesterday bacon was selling at $20 per pound, and meal at $140 per bushel. If Sherman cuts the communication with North Carolina, no one doubts that this city must be abandoned by Lee’s army– and yet it may not be so if diligent search be made for food. The soldiers and the people may suffer, but still subsist until harvest; and meantime the God of battles may change the face of affairs, or France may come to our relief.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

March 19– Sunday– City Point, Virginia– “We are now having fine weather and I think will be able to wind up matters about Richmond soon. I am anxious to have Lee hold on where he is a short time longer so that I can get him in a position where he must lose a great portion of his army. The rebellion has lost its vitality and if I am not much mistaken there will be no rebel army of any great dimensions in a few weeks hence. Any great catastrophe to any one of our armies would of course revive the enemy for a short time. But I expect no such thing to happen. . . . I am in excellent health but would enjoy a little respite from duty wonderfully. I hope it will come soon. My kindest regards to all at home. I shall expect to make you a visit the coming summer.” ~ Letter from Union General Ulysses S Grant to his father Jesse.

General Grant

General Grant

March 20– Monday– New York City– “The secessionists of East Tennessee, who, at the outset of the war, practiced every imaginable outrage on their neighbors, are beginning to suffer the just penalty of their action. The Union men, the courts having been reestablished, are prosecuting their former prosecutors for damages sustained, and the juries, so far as cases have come to trial, indicate a disposition to see full justice done to all concerned. Parson Brownlow has just recovered $25,000 damages in the United States Circuit Court at Knoxville, from three persons who had made him the object of their malice; another loyalist has obtained a verdict for a similar amount, while the heirs of a third have recovered the large sum of $40,000 in a similar manner. Brownlow, in his paper, advises all Union men who have suffered to commence suits at once; and the verdict in the cases named will, no doubt, influence very many to follow his advice. . . . Should the practice thus initiated in Tennessee be carried out in other States, as they are gradually recovered and civil government reestablished, many wrongs will no doubt be righted and the wealthy secessionist, even should they escape all political penalties, will find, as others have done before them, that crime always brings, in some form, its own retribution. The action of the east Tennessee juries affords conclusive evidence that the loyal people of the insurgent States, when the rebellion is finally expelled, can be depended upon to administer the laws and take care of the secession element without any help from loyal bayonets.” ~ New York Times.

March 20– Monday– outside Richmond, Virginia– “I presume that the enemy’s next move will be to raid against the Danville Railroad, and think that it would be well if we begin at once to make our arrangements to meet it. In order that we may get the troops that may be necessary to meet such a move, would suggest that we collect all the dismounted men of Generals Fitz Lee, Rosser, and Lomax, and put them behind our strongest lines, and draw out a corps of infantry and hold it in readiness for the raid. General W. H. F. Lee’s dismounts might also be used behind our works to great advantage. With a cavalry force of two or three thousand men to hold the enemy in check, I think that our infantry may be able to overtake the raiding column. If we can get a large cavalry force I think that we would surely be able to destroy the raiding force.” ~ Message from Confederate General James Longstreet to General Robert E Lee.

General Longstreet

General Longstreet

March 20– Monday– Albany, Georgia– “The rain has stopped at last and the waters are beginning to subside, but the roads are terrible. We have had a mail at last, too, and a long letter from home giving us carte blanche as to future movements; as dear old father expressed it: ‘Go where you please, when you please, do what you please and call on Mr. Farley or Mr. Butler for all the money you need.’ That is the way I like to be treated. I think now we will go to Chunnennuggee by way of Eufaula and the Chattahoochee. The river trip would be pleasant, and Jenny and Julia Toombs are with their aunt in Eufaula, who has invited us to meet them there. However, our movements are so uncertain that I don’t like to make engagements. We will stop a few days in Cuthbert with the Joyners, anyway.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

March 20– Monday– Kyoto, Japan– Yamanami Keisuke, a prominent samurai, dies by his own hand at 32 years of age.

Group of Samurai, circa 1860

Group of Samurai, circa 1860

March 21– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “The Battalion from Camps Winder and Jackson, under the command of Dr. Chambliss, including the company of colored troops under Captain Grimes, will parade on the square on Wednesday evening, at 4½ o’clock. This is the first company of Negro troops raised in Virginia. It was organized a month since, by Dr. Chambliss, from the employees of the hospitals, and served on the lines during the recent Sheridan raid.” ~ Richmond Sentinel.

March 21– Tuesday– Headquarters, Army of Northern Virginia, Virginia– “I wrote you immediately on Seeing the two notices in the papers of our Brother, I know you would be in a State of great agony of mind. We have no farther news at all & keep indulging in a hope that he may be only wounded. I have telegraphed to all the Sources, I think I can get any farther information from, and am still without any news. If I can get suitable papers I will go on myself and look after him. It would be next to impossible for you to get on these now. I will do all in my power for him & if wounded will contrive him someway of getting to Georgia or make him comfortable where he is. I feel greatly for you my dear sister & trust you will find support in this dark hour of suspense. I have not written Father & Mother yet until we can find out the facts.” ~ Letter from one of the King brothers to his sister, concerning his brother Barrington Simeral King.

March 21– Tuesday– Bentonville, North Carolina– Three days of fighting concludes in another Union victory as the last effort to stop Sherman’s advance fails. Total casualties– dead, wounded, missing– are approximately 1500 for the Federals and approximately 2700 for the Confederates.

Lucy Virginia French

Lucy Virginia French

March 22– Wednesday– McMinnville, Tennessee– “Poor Martha [a slave] passed away from earth– I trust into a heavenly rest. I felt very badly . . . winds roared and raved everywhere, shook the windows, and drove the smoke down the chimneys. I had a fire made in the front bed-room, where I staid with the children after we got Martha laid out, and all the house clean and quiet. I made wreaths to put over her of white peach blooms and hyacinths and arbor-vitae. She looked very natural. That evening Mollie came and how glad I was to see her! I had been feeling so sick, and lonely and depressed all day. Mollie had heard in the evening that Martha was dead, and came right off as soon as school was out, walking three miles and crossing the river on horseback behind a Negro to get here. I was so grateful to her. That night there was a room full of Negroes to sit up. I sent them in refreshments about midnight—coffee, cordial, bread, fresh peaches, etc. They were very quiet and orderly, no noise except when some one slipped out for wood to replenish the fire and the sound of the hymns they sung all thru the night. I could not help feeling sorry for the Negroes – times are so changed with them from what they were before this war. Their merry-makings then were so numerous and so characteristic as also were peculiar ways of conducting all these things, which were characteristic—and so picturesque, if I may use the term. In a few years these things will pass away, be merged in Yankee customs, in accordance with, and obedience to that old Puritanic spirit which will never permit anybody to speak, act, or think but just as it thinks, speaks and acts. Let us of the South be not boastful that we are a separate and different people– but grateful.” ~Journal of Lucy Virginia French.

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

Additional Forces to Repel Invasion

Federal troops

Federal troops

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

regiment of United States Colored Troops (USCT)

regiment of United States Colored Troops (USCT)

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

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

Mary Chesnut

Mary Chesnut

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

General Sherman

General Sherman

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

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

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

President Davis

President Davis

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

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

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

Lincoln with his secretaries

Lincoln with his secretaries

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

General Lee

General Lee

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

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

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

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.

imagesOTVLRF1X

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.

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

You Are to Press to the Utmost

General Grant

General Grant

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

field-hospital

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

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

Rocketts_Guns_Panorama

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

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

soldiers plundering a local farm

soldiers plundering a local farm

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

Reverend Volkner's grave

Reverend Volkner’s grave

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

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

John Mercer Langston

John Mercer Langston

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

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

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

General Lee

General Lee

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

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

SOPV-03images

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

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

planter's mansion

planter’s mansion

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

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

HSBC headquarters, 1901

HSBC headquarters, 1901

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

The World Has Never Seen Their Like ~ February 1865 ~ 27th to 28th

The World Has Never Seen Their Like

battle-newbern

Soldiers are seen everywhere, are topics of constant conversation and provide newspaper coverage. As the month closes, it is clear that Confederate forces are desperate to fill up the ranks and that Federal forces are closing in on most fronts. The remaining question: how soon will the end arrive?

bayou-teche

February 27– Monday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “Last night we only got five deserters on our front, a smaller number than usual. We sent out a large number of circulars [encouraging Confederate soldiers to desert] last night. We use them as bait and some times catch our fish.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

February 27– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– “Robert Tyler told me that it was feared Governor Brown, and probably Stephens and Toombs, were sowing disaffection among the Georgia troops, hoping to get them out of the army; but that if faction can be kept down thirty days, our cause would assume a new phase. . . . The President and General Lee were out at Camp Lee to-day, urging the returned soldiers (from captivity) to forego the usual furlough and enter upon the spring campaign now about to begin. The other day, when the President made a speech to them, he was often interrupted by cries of ‘furlough!’” ~ Diary of John Jones.

General Robert E. Lee

General Robert E. Lee

February 27– Monday– Macon, Georgia– “Mr. Gaulden moved to take up the resolutions, in relation to the enlistment of Slaves in the army– which was agreed to. Mr. Guerry moved to refer the same to the Committee on Confederate relations– which prevailed.” ~ Journal of the Senate of the Georgia General Assembly.

February 28– Tuesday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Yesterday a soldier named Good, or Gooch, who had just received his bounty, was the victim of a most rascally transaction. As he was counting his money at a tavern on Water street, a pious looking individual approached him and offered him a hundred dollar Treasury note for some small bills, stating that it would be much more convenient to carry than such a large bulk, and that the soldier would not be so likely to spend it. The soldier at once counted out one hundred dollars in small notes, and passing the same to the harmless looking person, received in return a hundred dollar note. Sometime afterwards the soldier discovered that the note was a base counterfeit, but his friend had disappeared and was nowhere to be found.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

wounded

February 28– Tuesday– Staunton, Virginia– “We are all packing up & fixing for a move, as the enemy is reported advancing up the Valley – their advance having reached Mt. Jackson – their intentions are not fully developed yet, but the impression is that they will go across the Ridge from New Market. I should have sent William [a slave] out today but for that – if we have to go away, get Snyder to kill your pig. Mr Christian Bear told me yesterday he could spare me $200, so if you need any money call on him & tell him I want you to have it – do not get it unless you want it. He wants Webster’s Dictionary & said he would give you a barrel of flour for it – that is now ten dollars in specie. I told him I thought you would like the bargain – it is a good one & you can hide the flour & keep it – I think. I hope this will blow by & I get home & get you fixed better. Sandy will finish cutting your wood & I will pay him. I think you will find Christian Bear a good man to call on if you need any aid. I had a long talk with him. I have clothes enough to get along so do not be troubled about me. If I need any I will send for them but if any ones come tomorrow send my flannels & shirts – only by some safe way & I do not think you had better look much for a way for I can send after them. Be of good cheer & hope for the best & the Lord protect & defend you all.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Jedediah Hotchkiss to his wife Sara.

February 28– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “The resolutions which have been passed by the various regiments of the Confederate army, and which they have published to the world, ring like inspiring trumpet tones on the air. Wherever else the paralyzing suggestions of despondency and doubt are heard, they cannot affect the iron nerves of those heroes who have borne the brunt of this war; who have endured the winter’s frosts and the summer’s heat; who have slept on the bare ground, have lived on the coarsest food, marched weary miles in bare feet, poured out their blood like summer rain, and stood like a living wall between their country and its enemies. These are the men who send forth words of hope and cheer and high resolve, and whose heroic souls, like the Aeolian harp, give forth stronger strains as the tempest increases. Whatever others may dream, subjugation is a word which is not found in their vocabulary, and which it would not be safe for friend or foe to utter in their presence. They proclaim their fixed and unchangeable determination to conquer or die; and it is the army which is the country. They have no thought of permitting all their labors, privations, perils, to go for naught, nor of suffering the blood of their fallen comrades to cry in vain from the ground. Whatever others may do, the heroes of the Confederacy neither intend nor desire to survive their country. They love her, and they believe in her also; their faith and hope are equal to their valor and devotion, and their trust in God is firm and unwavering. Noble men! The world has never seen their like.” ~ Richmond Times Dispatch.

kilpatrick-cavalry

February 28– Tuesday– Carthage, Tennessee– “A band of guerrillas pass quite often from a point on Obey River, some eight miles above Celina, going west. Their track is near the State line. How far they go west I am unable to say, but they generally pass beyond the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. The band numbers from fifteen to sixty men, or that has been the report for the last few months. They have different commanders. Sometimes Captain Benett, at others Major Jones or Magruder. For a long time they have not gone east of the point mentioned on Obey River. Generally on their return to Obey River they bring goods of various kinds and hide them away among the hills. Yesterday I had a long conversation with H. D. Johnson, of Overton. I know he is in communication with Hughes, Gatewood, and others. He has a son with the rebel Colonel Dibrell, formerly of Sparta. Johnson says the rebels will be in this section of country in considerable force late in the spring, or so soon as it shall seem the rivers will not rise suddenly and remain full any length of time. There is the same old evil disposition among the rebels, the same hate, but they fear more and hide. If any one doubts, let him become for a time a rebel and go among them, where he is not known to be other than what he seems.” ~ Report from J. D. Hale to Union General Whipple.

February 28– Tuesday– in the mountains, North Carolina– “The Yankees are in Lancaster District [South Carolina] & making their way toward Wilmington [North Carolina]. My precious one I have been thinking much of you & our precious little ones lately & have become very anxious to hear from you to know how you are getting along in Roswell [Georgia]. My mind is troubled to think that you may not be comfortable, or, actually suffering from want of necessaries of life. I wish so much I could hear from you. Nearly 4 weeks have gone by now since I left you in Roswell & it may be a long time yet before I can hear anything from you. Oh! that peace could be ours.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Barrington King to his wife Bessie.

February 28– Tuesday– Macon, Georgia– “Whereas, in the present crisis, more able bodied men are required in the field to arrest the progress of the foe who assails us, and whereas, it is necessary to arouse the indomitable spirit of our people by a return to the true spirit of the constitution; and whereas, the Conscript Law has accomplished all the good that can be expected therefrom, and in the judgment of the General Assembly of Georgia has for some time past tended to oppress and distract our people, therefore be it, 1st Resolved, That in the opinion of the General Assembly of Georgia, the further enforcement of the Conscript Law should be abandoned. 2nd, That the Government should resort to requisition on the States for such troops as may be needed for the further prosecution of the war. 3rd, That the adoption of the above course will add largely to our effective force in the field; will revive the spirit of 61 and 62 amongst our people and by so doing will enable us to conquer an early and honorable peace. 4th, That the Governor is hereby requested to furnish the President, members of Congress, and the Governors of the States constituting the Confederacy, a copy of these resolutions.”

Sir Wilfred Grenfell

Sir Wilfred Grenfell

February 28– Tuesday– Parkgate, England– Birth of Wilfred Grenfell, medical missionary to Newfoundland and Labrador. He will receive knighthood in recognition of his great service. [Dies October 9, 1940.]

February 28– Tuesday– Milford Haven, Wales, Great Britain– Birth of Arthur Symons, poet, literary critic and magazine editor. [Dies January 22, 1945.]

Sherman Is Proving Himself a Great General ~ February 1865 ~ 21st to 22nd

Sherman Is Proving Himself a Great General ~ Gideon Welles

William Tecumseh Sherman

William Tecumseh Sherman

Lincoln’s government is pleased with General Sherman as his troops march through South Carolina, more hindered by rainy weather than by strong defense from Confederate soldiers. The Georgia legislature shows signs of contention with the government in Richmond, particularly disagreeing with the idea of drafting slaves into the army. Food supplies are so short in some Southern places that soldiers steal flour for local women to use.

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February 21– Tuesday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “We learn from citizens of Wayne county who arrived yesterday, that a few days ago a guerrilla murder was committed at Ceredo, on the Ohio river in that county. It appears that a gang of men, under command of the notorious Bill Smith, came down to Ceredo and entered the house of Jack Meadows, a citizen, shot him through the heart, drove his wife and children out of doors, and set fire to the premises. Mrs. Meadows who was fortunately armed with a revolver, shot one of the guerrillas dead and seriously wounded another, but not until one of her legs had been broken by a blow with a gun in the hands of one of the rebels. The rebels having completely destroyed the house of Mr. Meadows, with all its contents, fled to their hiding places, leading their dead companion unburied. Mrs. Meadows and her children were taken to Catlettsburg, Kentucky where she still remains.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

February 21– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “We have made great progress in the Rebel War within a brief period. Charleston and Columbia have come into our possession without any hard fighting. The brag and bluster, the threats and defiance which have been for thirty years the mental aliment of South Carolina prove impotent and ridiculous. They have displayed a talking courage, a manufactured bravery, but no more, and I think not so much inherent heroism as others. Their fulminations that their cities would be Saragossas were mere gasconade, their Pinckneys and McGrawths and others were blatant political partisans. General Sherman is proving himself a great general, and his movements from Chattanooga to the present demonstrate his ability as an officer. He has, undoubtedly, greater resources, a more prolific mind, than Grant, and perhaps as much tenacity if less cunning and selfishness. In Congress there is a wild, radical element in regard to the rebellious States and people. They are to be treated by a radical Congress as no longer States, but Territories without rights, and must have a new birth or creation by permission of Congress. These are the mistaken theories and schemes of Chase, perhaps in conjunction with others.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

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February 21– Tuesday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “We are having delightful weather and quite warm . . . . We have today glorious news– the fall of Charleston. Salutes have been fired along the entire line and the troops have cheered themselves hoarse. Thank God for the victory, for I hope it will help to end the war. The enemy still continues to desert to our lines. Last night ten came. They all tell the same story– that the Southern cause is hopeless. I begin to feel that the war is really drawing to a close, but we shall have some severe fighting yet.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

February 21– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Another bright and glorious morning. Charleston fell on Thursday night last. A large number of heavy guns fell into the hands of the enemy. The confidential telegraph operators remained with the enemy. They were Northern men; but it is the policy of those in possession of this government to trust their enemies and neglect their friends. . . . The Negro bill also passed one House [of Congress], and will pass the other to-day. . . . These measures may come too late. The enemy is inclosing us on all sides with great vigor and rapidity. A victory by Beauregard would lift up the hearts of the people, now prone in the dust.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

February 21– Tuesday– Winnsborough, South Carolina– “A rebel woman set fire to her store filled with cotton and destroyed two or three blocks before the troops entered. The Fourteenth Corps entering first put out the fire and appropriated the large amount of supplies found there.” ~ Diary of an officer serving with Union General Oliver O. Howard.

civilians fleeing before Sherman's advance

civilians fleeing before Sherman’s advance

February 21– Tuesday– Macon, Georgia– “1st. Resolved by the General Assembly of the State of Georgia, That the struggle in which we have been engaged for the last four years involves not only the domestic institutions of the South, but the rights of self government and State Sovereignty, in which every State of this Confederacy as well as each State of the North, is most deeply interested; to maintain political equality and the sovereignty of the States should be an object demanding the greatest public sacrifice. 2nd, Resolved, That we do spurn with indignation due to so gross an insult, the terms on which the President of the United States has proffered peace to the people of the Confederate States. 3rd, Resolved, That the freedom with which the President [Jeff Davis] has received even unofficial commissioners from the United States, his ready response to unofficial invitations to send commissioners, and the wise and discreet choice of persons made by him, commands our highest admiration, and is proof conclusive to the world of an honest and sincere desire to adjust the differences between the two nations, and put an end to this bloody strife. 4th, Resolved, That burying all past differences of opinion as to the origin and conduct of the war, we intend to take nothing but our absolute independence, and to accomplish this Georgia pledges herself to use all the resources which Providence has placed in her power, humbly relying upon divine assistance in the defense of all that is dear to freemen. 5th, Resolved, Though having lately passed through an ordeal of blood and trial, Georgia renews her pledges to her sister States to stand by them with her army and treasury until independence is achieved and liberty won. 6th, Resolved, That our  profoundest gratitude is due to her soldiers, who on many a bloody battle field have illustrated their State by deeds of heroic valor, and that while we look to them with pride and confidence, we will see to it that their efforts are generously sustained, and that the amplest resources of the State are applied for the support and comfort of their families at home. 7th Resolved, That His Excellency the Governor, be requested to transmit a copy of the resolutions to the President of the Confederate States, the Governors of the several independent States, and to our Senators and Representatives in Congress.”

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February 21– Tuesday– Albany, Georgia– “A letter from Mecca Joyner, saying she is coming to make me a visit, and I must meet her in Albany on Wednesday. Just as I had finished reading it a buggy drove up with Flora Maxwell and Captain Rust, from Gopher Hill. Flora has a great reputation for beauty, but I think her even more fascinating and elegant than beautiful. Captain Rust is an exile from Delaware, and a very nice old gentleman, whom the Maxwells think a great deal of. He was banished for helping Southern prisoners to escape across the lines. He tells me that he sometimes had as many as fourteen rebels concealed in his house at one time.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

February 21– Tuesday– Paris, France– The painter Constant Troyon dies at 54 years of age.

Cattle Drinking by Troyon

Cattle Drinking by Troyon

February 21– Tuesday– Melbourne, Victoria, Australia– A Royal Commission into the origin and nature of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (a cattle disease) presents its final report to the Parliament of Victoria.

February 22– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “As your life has been faithfully devoted to the cause of humanity, the abolition of slavery and the welfare of the freedman, I am sure you will be interested in all facts and questions relating to the condition of those in any part of the country whom the rebellion has made free. I went from Ohio to New Orleans in the summer of 1863, and since, then, most of the time, have resided there, participating in and observing the effect of the new order of things which the slaveholders’ war has inaugurated. From what I have seen in Northern papers, I think the true condition and relation of those who were formerly slaves, in the State of Louisiana, have not been fully understood. . . . Slavery, I trust, is forever abolished in Louisiana; and if, in the future, her lawgivers secure equal rights to all her citizens; her fertile lands and genial climate, producing figs, rice, corn, tobacco, sugar and cotton; her orange groves, bending and yellow with ripening fruit; and her thousands of miles of navigable rivers and bayous, furnishing ample, cheap, convenient and expeditions means of conveying the products of her soil to market, will invite capital and labor from every civilized country and clime. She will then learn to her advantage that ‘righteousness exalteth’ a State. But if, in the future as in the past, a majority of her laborers are oppressed and disfranchised, she will learn, at her cost that injustice ‘is a reproach to any people.’” ~ Letter from John Hutchins to William Lloyd Garrison.

February 22– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– General Robert E. Lee, now commander of all Confederate armies, issues Special Order No. 3, naming General Joseph E. Johnston commander the Army of Tennessee and of all troops in the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Privately, Lee telegraphs Johnston with instructions: “Concentrate all available forces and drive back Sherman.” Quickly, Johnston telegraphs back: “It is too late to expect me to concentrate troops capable of driving back Sherman. The remnant of the Army of Tennessee is much divided. So are other troops. Is any discretion allowed me? I have no staff.”

General Robert E Lee

General Robert E Lee

February 22– Wednesday– Frankfort, Kentucky– The legislature rejects the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 22– Wednesday– Nashville, Tennessee– The state adopts a new state constitution which includes a prohibition of slavery.

February 22– Wednesday– McMinnville, Tennessee– “Some Yanks came– wanting milk– they said. I met them at the backdoor, spoke pleasantly but held the door knob in my hand. I saw they were preparing to come in but I did not invite them and bolting the door, directed them to [a slave] Mammy’s house to get the milk. They went-dreadfully dissatisfied and grumbled to the servants [slaves] that I had not asked them to come in the house. They were gentlemen, had been raised, never had been in any place before but what they were asked in the house, if they had been officers she would have asked them in, if they had been secesh etc. etc. etc., until Mammy and Puss [both slaves] said they thought both were born fools. The servants [slaves] told them I never asked soldiers in the house soldiers did not expect it and have no right to expect it—they usually come to get something and if I had it I gave it and they went away—if they expected to be invited in they mostly come with some friend to introduce them etc. etc. Finally they commenced about killing chickens, the Negroes got them out to if—then they wanted milk which was brought—then walnuts—these also were furnished—some wanted bread and this was handed over also—then they went off after examining all the outhouses, etc. carefully—for what I do not know. Just as dinner was on the table and we sitting down to it here they came again—whiz! Bang! Went the rocks everywhere. They were after the chickens, and they carried them off in triumph. Not all satisfied however, for they came back 3 times after more but failed to catch them. Mammy was so mad she was fit to fly and Puss was quite as much exasperated.” ~ Journal of Lucy Virginia French

Lucy Virginia French

Lucy Virginia French

February 22– Wednesday– Macon, Georgia– “Whereas, We are informed that the Confederate Government contemplates and are making efforts, to enlist in the military service of the Confederate States, the male slaves of the State, within certain ages, first paying the owners their value, and then setting them free at the end of the war. 1st. Resolved, By the Senate and House of Representatives of Georgia, That it is our opinion, that this measure if carried out, will be a violation of the Constitution of the Confederate States. 2nd. Resolved, That independent of the constitutional difficulty, in the opinion of this General Assembly, the policy of employing this class of persons in the army, will be pre-judicial in the extreme and will result in the destruction of the slave interest of the South, as well as the ruin of our army. 3rd. Resolved, That the Governor of Georgia, be requested to transmit a copy of these resolutions to the President of the Confederate States, and to the Governors of each of the Confederate States.”

February 22– Wednesday– Athens, Georgia– “We understand that some soldiers belonging to [Confederate General] Hood’s army, at home on furlough, made a ‘raid’ on the Commissary store in Hartwell last Thursday, and helped themselves to what they wanted. They afterwards went to McMullen’s mill, where the Government grain was ground, and distributed to about fifty females a sack of flour each.” ~ The Southern Banner.

February 22– Wednesday– Albany, Georgia– “I . . . brought Mecca Joyner and Jim Chiles home with me. I took dinner with Mrs. Sims and met several friends, whom I invited to our picnic. Sister had a large company to spend the evening, and they stayed so late that I grew very sleepy. I am all upset, anyway, for letters from home have come advising us to stay here for the present, where there is plenty to eat, and less danger from Yankees now, than almost anywhere else. It must be perversity, for when I thought I had to go home I wanted to stay here, and now that father wants me to stay, I am wild to go. I have written him that he had better order me back home, for then I would not care so much about going. Now that the Yanks have passed by Augusta and are making their way to Columbia and Charleston, I hope they will give Georgia a rest.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

Eliza Frances Andrews

Eliza Frances Andrews