Monday, February 18, 2013

February 18, 1863

February 18, 1863

---Virginia:  Gen. Robert E. Lee sends orders to Gen. Longstreet to take command south of the James River and to keep an eye on Richmond: he is to take two divisions and sufficient artillery in order to interdict Union operations near Norfolk and Suffolk county.  The increase of Union troops on the Peninsula has Richmond worried, too.  This mission will keep Longstreet busy until mid-May. 

---Mississippi River Campaign:  General Ulysses S. Grant writes to General Halleck in Washington that the work is going well on the canals being  built at Lake Providence and near Vicksburg, although the Vicksburg canal, cutting across the bend in the river upstream, will likely not work.  Of the use of escaped slaves for labor, Grant tells Halleck that “I am using a few hundred contrabands on the work here, but have been compelled to prohibit any more coming in. Humanity dictates this policy.  Planters have mostly deserted their plantations, taking with them all their able-bodied negroes and leaving the old and very young. Here they could not have shelter nor means of transportation when we leave.”
Gen. Ulysses S. Grant

---Silas Everett Fales, a soldier in the 42nd Massachusetts Infantry Reg., serving in Louisiana, writes home to his wife about the differences between home and the exotic South:

. . . I should like to be at home but I want my time to be out first If I ever get home I can tell you something of Military life: something you never dreamed of Tonight I hear the church bells rining in New Orleans the air is soft like spring frogs are peeping in the swamp birds singing and if I could see nothing I could fancy myself at home in May but to look around it is not like New England teams are drawing wood and cannon stores are open Peddlers are on the field selling pies oyster fruit &c. groups of Negros are walking lazily round ragged and dirty but (more intelligent than those of Hilton Head) on the whole I see nothing that looks like the christen Sabbath I hear the cars passing down to the city now. One will learn to prize the institutions of the north by living hear awhile. We are camped inside of a race course they have had one or two races since we have been here Sunday is a common day for them . . .

---Referring to a Confederate-ordered massacre of negroes in Federal service, the London Daily News prints this editorial:

The wanton murder near Murfreesboro of twenty Negro teamsters who were in the service of the Federals appears to be taken as a matter of course by the advocates of the South in this country. We must presume that they know their friends, and see no reason to be surprised. And yet there are circumstances in this case which should make them anxious for a reputation in which they have so far involved their own. These Negroes were not killed in the pursuit of any military purpose. They were not on the battle-field; they were not making armed resistance. They were on the turnpike road driving their wagons when the Confederate party came up. . . .

It is important to notice that this butchery was not perpetrated in some corner of Secessia, by agents out of the reach of authority or public opinion. It was the work of officers of the great confederate army of the West, under the orders of General Bragg. There was nothing in the attitude of the Negroes to make a sudden resolution necessary; we must, therefore, assume that their murder was the effect of a previous determination. . . . The inevitable hour when the true issues of this war were to be disclosed has come, and the South unfurls the black flag—its own flag—accordingly.

A carefully-crafted representation of the gallant cavaliers of the South

---In Massachusetts, Gov. Joseph Andrew calls for the raising of a black regiment in his state, to be designated the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment.

---Col. Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio writes in his dairy of the pleasant visit of his wife and children up on the Alleghenies of western Virginia at his regiment’s winter camp:

February 18, [1863]. — Lucy, Birch, and Webb came up here on the 24th of January. We have had a jolly time together. We have rain and mud in abundance but we manage to ride a little on horseback or in a skiff; to fish a little, etc., etc. I was more than two weeks housed up with left eye bloodshot and inflamed. Birch read “Boy Hunters and Voyageurs,” and Lucy the newspapers.

---Horatio Nelson Taft writes in his journal of the varieties of anti-slavery feeling in the North, and how the hard-core Abolitionists and the moderates end up supporting the same thing:

There are two kinds of Abolitionists just now. One kind perhaps make the abolition of Slavery the prime object and care more for that than they do for the Union. The other kind care much less about Slavery, in fact consider it but an incidental question compared with the Union, and are willing to abolish it, if that will abolish the rebellion and in that spirit they “go in” for the Presidents Proclamation of freedom. I go for using all the means that God and Nature has put into our hands to crush out the Rebellion. The moral effect of the proclamation will help us much throughout the world, and that may be its greatest advantage.

---John Beauchamp Jones, a clerk in the Ward Department of the C.S.A., in Richmond, notes with alarm the rapidly worsening food shortage for civilians as well as soldiers in Virginia:

All the necessaries of life in the city are still going up higher in price. Butter, $3 per pound; beef, $1; bacon, $1.25; sausage-meat, $1; and even liver is selling at 50 cents per pound.

By degrees, quite perceptible, we are approaching the condition of famine. What effect this will produce on the community is to be seen. The army must be fed or disbanded, or else the city must be abandoned. How we, “the people,” are to live is a thought of serious concern.

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