Thursday, February 23, 2012

Feb. 23, 1862

Feb. 23, 1862: Fayetteville, Arkansas - On this date, the confederate forces in northwest Arkansas, afraid of being flanked by Gen. Samuel Curtis’ Union troops in the Army of the Southwest, abandon their posts and flee south, out of Bentonville, and then decide to continue south from Fayetteville as well, leaving it to the Yankees. As Rebel Gen. Ben McCullough gives the orders, he orders everything useful in Fayetteville to be destroyed, lest it fall into the hands of the Yankees. The evacuation turns into a panic, as the Rebel soldiers begin to steal anything not nailed down in the town. Plunder and looting ensue. McCullough, as his troops are leaving town, sends back his cavalry to burn the town. Louisiana cavalrymen set fire to the military supply warehouses, still full with food, and then the flour mill and the stables. They fired the Arkansas Female College, which had been used as an arsenal, and as artillery shells began to explode, the fire spread generally. One enraged man stopped some cavalrymen and said, "God has rained down fire from heaven upon better men than those that did this!" Since the majority of people in Fayetteville were pro-Union, apparently Gen. McCullough felt no obligation to protect their property. The Union troops came into town later in the day. One Union observer, after observing the occupation, noted this "act of vandalism" by the Rebels: "The rebels left a quantity of poisoned meat behind them, which unhappily was partaken of by the National troops, and resulted in poisoning forty officers and men of the Fifth Missouri cavalry, among them one or two valuable commanding officers. Such deeds entitle the perpetrators to no mercy.—"

—Union soldier Daniel L. Day, with his regiment on the newly-captured Roanoke Island in Pamlico Sound, North Carolina, writes about what he has learned of the early English settlers on Roanoke Island, the first English-speaking settlement there:

They gave such glowing accounts of the country and what they had seen that Raleigh, the next year, sent out a colony under one Lane. They occupied this island, but after about a year, during which time they suffered many hardships, returned to England. A year or two later, another expedition was sent out. They also settled here, but after a while the leader of it returned to England for supplies. After an absence of a year or two, he again returned here, but on landing, not a trace of it could be found, and it was never after heard from. A later historian, however, says the Indians who lived on the island claimed that some of their ancestors were white people and could talk out of a book.
—Judith White McGuire of Richmond, writes in her journal about the celebrations in the capital over the newly-inaugurated Davis as President:

Last night was the first levee. The rooms were crowded. The President looked weary and grave, but was all suavity and cordiality, and Mrs. Davis won all hearts by her usual unpretending kindness. I feel proud to have those dear old rooms, arousing as they do so many associations of my childhood and youth, filled with the great, the noble, the fair of our land, every heart beating in unison, with one great object in view, and no wish beyond its accomplishment, as far as this world is concerned. But to-day is Saturday, and I must go to the hospital to take care of our sick— particularly to nurse our little soldier-boy. Poor child, he is very ill

—Union soldier Emmet Cole, in Port Royal, South Carolina, writes home to his sister Celestia at home: "The Peach trees are in full bloom, and vegetation (such as decayes here in the winter season) is putting forth with all the beauties of spring. summer is fast comeing, and we are not used to this climate. and I feel a little dubious about the effect it may have upon the northerners. for I notice here upon most of the Grave stones (some of which date back half a century or more) that the principle disease is Yellow fever. but we may escape without being attacked by it. I had a great deal rather be attacked by the Rebels. . . ."

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