Tag Archives: Virginia

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.

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

My Army Is Dirty, Ragged and Saucy

General Sherman

General Sherman

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

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

Eliza Frances Andrews

Eliza Frances Andrews

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

Gideon Welles

Gideon Welles

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

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

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

Ellen Sherman

Ellen Sherman

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

William Lloyd Garrison

William Lloyd Garrison

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.

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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.

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

Everything Is Giving Way to the Union Forces.

Federal troops in the Carolinas

Federal troops in the Carolinas

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

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

Thurlow Weed

Thurlow Weed

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

Henry Wirz, commandant at Andersonville prison

Henry Wirz, commandant at Andersonville prison

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

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

Edith Maude Eaton

Edith Maude Eaton

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

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

factory workers

factory workers

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

at the machines

at the machines

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

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

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

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

Patrick Joseph Sullivan

Patrick Joseph Sullivan

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

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

Lincoln takes the oath of office

Lincoln takes the oath of office

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

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

Additional Forces to Repel Invasion

Federal troops

Federal troops

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

regiment of United States Colored Troops (USCT)

regiment of United States Colored Troops (USCT)

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

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

Mary Chesnut

Mary Chesnut

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

General Sherman

General Sherman

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

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

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

President Davis

President Davis

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

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

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

Lincoln with his secretaries

Lincoln with his secretaries

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

General Lee

General Lee

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

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

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

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

Reorganize as Protection Societies

words of a prophet

words of a prophet

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

youthful Lydia Maria Child

youthful Lydia Maria Child

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

Lydia Maria Child, c.1870

Lydia Maria Child, c.1870

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

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

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

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

first-main-cavalry

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frederick W Goudy, circa 1924

Frederick W Goudy, circa 1924

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

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

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

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

The Army Is Liable to Move

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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.

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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.

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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.

With Malice Toward None ~ March 4, 1865

With Malice Toward None ~ Abraham Lincoln

Washington crowds at the inauguration

Washington crowds at the inauguration

For the second time Lincoln takes the oath of office as President of the United States. Some scholars consider his inaugural address to be the greatest of his speeches. I include the speech here in its entirety. It is worth a read and a slow rereading, no matter how familiar you may be with the content.

The new Vice President, Andrew Johnson, makes a fool of himself. In the Confederate capital, some people worry about fleeing the city. The tide has shifted.

March 4– Saturday– New York City– “Without abolition, what do we gain by blood and sacrifice? Not population or territory, for we fight no foreign foe; not colonies, or dependencies, for we bring back only our equals. It is nothing to punish unless we remove the cause of punishment. Is the great commotion to produce only railroads torn up and store-houses burned down? Is that in the7-30 and 10-40 contracts? No, sir. The workingmen of this nation expect to work out of this war with the dignity of work fully established. As a skillful pianist only brings out the full tones of his instrument in touching all the keys, both black and white, so shall you, in using all the forces of free labor, draw out the grand harmonies of our national march. . . . With a bewildered look you gazed on the ghastly gift of November, in doubt whether you came to Washington to attend a funeral or execute a contract. Office-seekers begging for office, patriots asking for a country; the rebel commissioners knocking for admission, not for the [hangman’s] halter they had earned but for their share of the ruins they had made; not ambassadors, but grave-diggers came for the body, prepared to bury American liberty under the dust of their rubbish platitudes. We all have our theories how they ought to have been treated, how much wiser our little wisdom could have managed the war. Ministers of great emergencies escape not great calamities. Censure now, immortality hereafter. . . . The contest, though unfinished, is no longer uncertain. Calhoun’s grave is in our possession. His theory is under the feet of our armed heroes. What peace shall parole the captured doctrine? As workingmen, respectfully but manfully addressing the master-worker, this Association bids you Godspeed.” ~ Letter from David S. Coddington on behalf of the Workingmen’s Association of New York to President Lincoln.

watching Lincoln take the oath of office

watching Lincoln take the oath of office

March 4– Saturday– New York City– “From all the arrangements made, and the patriotic spirit everywhere prevailing in the city, there is no doubt but that the celebrated of our great military and naval victories today will be one of the grandest and most unique spectacles ever witnessed in New York. The people of the metropolis will turn out by hundreds of thousands to behold the demonstration. People from the country and all the adjoining cities will flock in to see it. Every interest in the city and its surroundings will be represented. The military will make a magnificent display. The navy representatives from the Navy Yard – sailors and marines, with a full rigged ship and a monitor – will swell the throng. All the trades’ associations and other civic societies will lend their aid, and symbols and banners and allegorical illustrations of their several avocations. Europe, Asia and Africa will be impressed into the service; for we are to have elephants and giraffes, and walruses and other strange animals in the line of march. The operatic and theatrical managers, who favor the public with their Saturday matinees, will hurry up their business by an early commencement so that their audiences may be out in time to see the procession and hear the speeches in Union Square. . . . The public institutions have arranged for a national holiday. The Custom House officials have got up some splendid interior decorations for the occasion. The stores generally will be closed in the afternoon, and all New York, which is not in the windows, will be on the sidewalks. The ‘Streets of New York’ have rarely presented so fine a spectacle as they will today; and the news of the celebration will gladden the hearts of our gallant soldiers and sailors, to whose valor the metropolis of the Union has done so much honor.” ~ New York Herald.

March 4– Saturday– New York City– “On this day President Lincoln enters upon his second term, amidst the benedictions of the loyal citizens of the United States. No man in any office or at any period of our history has been so tried as he, and no man has ever shown himself more faithful to a great duty. His temperament, his singular sagacity, his inflexible honesty, his patient persistence, his clear comprehension of the scope of the war, and of the character and purpose of the American people have not only enabled him to guide the country safely in its most perilous hour, but have endeared him forever to the popular heart. Party hate has dashed itself to pieces against his spotless patriotism. Friendly impatience has long since hushed contempt at length recognize in him a purely characteristic representative of that America which conquers by good sense and moral fidelity. The history of the first term of this administration is the story of a desperate and prodigious civil war waged over a continent, and revealing the unprecedented power of a Government founded upon the popular will. Such a war necessarily clothes the chief executive magistrate with extraordinary power. Yet it is the most significant tribute to the character of Mr. Lincoln, that his exercise of that power has been so purely patriotic that, after, and he is continued in his high office by the hearty confidence of the vast body of the people. And that he is to-day inaugurated amidst universal applause, that the nation has not been deluded by the vehement party assaults which every civil war makes so practicable and specious, but has known and approved a man so just and faithful, is the noblest proof of the truly conservative character of that popular Government with which the name of Abraham Lincoln will henceforth be associated.” ~ Harper’s Weekly.

March 4– Saturday– Washington, Pennsylvania– Washington College and Jefferson College merge to form Washington & Jefferson College.

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March 4– Saturday–Washington, D.C.–”At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured. On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war– seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came. One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. ‘Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.’ If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’ With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.” ~ President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

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March 4– Saturday–Washington, D.C.–”Was at the Capitol last night until twelve. All the Cabinet were present with the President. As usual, the time passed very pleasantly. Chief Justice Chase came in and spent half an hour. Later in the night I saw him in the Senate. Speed says Chase leaves the Court daily to visit the Senate, and is full of aspirations. I rode from the Capitol home at midnight with Seward. He expressed himself more unreservedly and warmly against Chase than I have ever heard him before. The inauguration took place to-day. There was great want of arrangement and completeness in the ceremonies. All was confusion and without order– a jumble. The Vice-President elect made a rambling and strange harangue, which was listened to with pain and mortification by all his friends. My impressions were that he was under the influence of stimulants, yet I know not that he drinks. He has been sick and is feeble; perhaps he may have taken medicine, or stimulants, or his brain from sickness may have been overactive in these new responsibilities. Whatever the cause, it was all in very bad taste. The delivery of the inaugural address, the administering of the oath, and the whole deportment of the President were well done, and the retiring Vice-President appeared to advantage when contrasted with his successor, who has humiliated his friends. Speed, who sat at my left, whispered me that ‘all this is in wretched bad taste’ and very soon he said, ‘The man is certainly deranged.’ I said to Stanton, who was on my right, ‘Johnson is either drunk or crazy.’ Stanton replied, ‘There is evidently something wrong.’ Seward says it was emotion on returning and revisiting the Senate; that he can appreciate Johnson’s feelings, who was much overcome. I hope Seward is right, but don’t entirely concur with him. There is, as Stanton says, something wrong. I hope it is sickness. The reception at the President’s this evening was a crowded affair– not brilliant, as the papers say it was. In some respects the arrangement was better than heretofore for the Cabinet gentlemen and their families, but there is room for much improvement. Such was the crowd that many were two hours before obtaining entrance after passing through the gates. When I left, a little before eleven, the crowd was still going in. The day has been fatiguing and trying. The morning was rainy. Soon after noon the clouds disappeared and the day was beautiful ; the streets dreadful.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

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March 4– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– “Raining hard, and warm. We have vague reports of Early’s defeat in the Valley by an overwhelming force; and the gloom and despondency among the people are in accordance with the hue of the constantly-occurring disasters. . . . The Legislature of North Carolina has passed resolutions exempting millers, blacksmith, etc.– in contravention of the act of Congress– and directing Governor Vance to correspond with the Secretary of War on the subject. This bears an ugly aspect. General Early’s little army is scattered to the winds. Charlottesville has been in possession of the enemy, but at last accounts General Rosser, in Sheridan’s rear, held it. Sheridan advanced to Scottsville; and is no doubt still advancing. Lynchburg is rendered unsafe; and yet some of the bureaus are packing up and preparing to send the archives thither. They would probably fall into the hands of the enemy. . . . There is almost a panic among officials here who have their families with them, under the belief that the city may be suddenly evacuated, and the impossibility of getting transportation. I do not share the belief– that is, that the event is likely to occur immediately; but if it should occur, I know my wife and children will remain– for a season. We must ‘pray that our flight be not in the winter.’” ~ Diary of John Jones.

March 4– Saturday– Petersburg, Virginia– “In all together, I walked 180 miles or more since I left home. I hardly know what to write on the war news. Various opinions are afloat, in regard to future movements. One thing certain, Petersburg and Richmond are not evacuated yet and I see but little if any sign of their evacuation. We received orders last night to be ready to march at a moment’s warning but it is about 12 o’clock now and we hear nothing more from it. It is nothing unusual to get such orders, and I hope these will pass quietly away for this time at least for I do not feel like taking another tramp so soon. General Lee is Commander in Chief, and Johnson has been restored to the Command of the Army of Tennessee, which are both good things. The Law to arm the Negroes has not passed Congress yet. It is causing much debate. Sherman’s whereabouts in not known exactly but he left the railroad below Chester, South Carolina and is thought to be making his way to Wilmington, and will form a junction with Grant. If so we will whip him sure. With Johnson and Beauregard to assist us I feel confident that we will be able to manage Mr. Grant and Sherman too. Now is the time for all to rally around the standard of our Country and let us route Sherman and I firmly believe that peace will soon follow. How can a man lag from duty at these times I cannot see for my life.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

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March 4– Saturday– Macon, Georgia– “At the session in November, an appropriation of $800,000 was made to purchase and carry corn to the destitute in the counties that have been overrun by the enemy, and in counties where the crop failed on account of the extreme wet or dry weather. The average price of corn in the State, may now be set down at twelve to fifteen dollars per bushel. Add the cost of transportation, and the lowest estimate would be fifteen. The appropriation will purchase at present prices, a little over 50,000 bushels. This would not more than supply the three most needy counties in the State, if the corn could be purchased now. In two months from this time, the price may have increased one half. In my opinion the appropriation for this purpose should be at least two millions of dollars. In this connection, I beg leave again to remind the General Assembly, that without the power of impressment, it will be absolutely impossible for me to secure the corn. I have made diligent efforts through agents, and find I cannot purchase enough to feed the State teams, and support the State Line in the field. I am informed by Major Moses, the Chief Confederate Commissary for the State, that agents will be allowed to purchase part of the surplus of bonded men, for the use of soldiers’ families. This will aid as far as that class is concerned, but will afford no relief to the large number of persons not soldiers’ families, now suffering for bread, in the sections of the State where all the supplies of the people have been destroyed by the enemy. As I have already informed the General Assembly, the appropriation of money cannot afford the necessary relief without the power to impress the provisions in the hands of those who will not sell their surplus for currency. Market value should be paid to every citizen, whose property is impressed, but those who have a surplus and refuse to sell at market value, while others are suffering, should be compelled to distribute all they can spare, at its value in currency. I wish the members of the General Assembly and their constituents, to understand distinctly, that the appropriation of money already made, is wholly inadequate for this purpose and that it is impossible for me to furnish the corn, without the power of impressment. If the Legislature adjourns without conferring the authority, it will leave me powerless to relieve hundreds of women and children from actual starvation. I also beg leave again to revert to the fact, that the military appropriation already made, is entirely insufficient. If the State pays none of the expense of the militia, it will take at least $3,000,000 more to support the State Line, provide the clothing necessary for the Georgia troops in service, and purchase and support the wagons and teams which the Quartermaster General must have, to enable him to do the military transportation, and haul the corn to the most destitute section. If these appropriations and the impressment power, are withheld, it will be necessary for me again to convene the General Assembly at an early day.” ~ Message from Georgia Governor Joseph E Brown to the state legislature.

March 4– Saturday– near Ballarat, Victoria, Australia– Birth of Edward Dyson, journalist and author. [Dies August 22, 1931.]

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Will We Thus Blunder on to the End?

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

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

New York Herald, circa 1895

New York Herald, circa 1895

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

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

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

John Yates Beall

John Yates Beall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abe Isoo

Abe Isoo

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

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

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

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

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