Tuesday, February 19, 2013

February 19, 1863

February 19, 1863

—Rear Admiral Samuel P. Lee, USN, commander of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, sends order to Commander Alex Murray, USN, in command of the Union flotilla in the coastal waterways of North Carolina, to conduct a campaign on the rivers of North Carolina—namely, the Neuse, the Tar, and the Roanoke—to search out and destroy the ironclads that the Confederate Navy is building on them. The rivers named rise with the spring floods, and will allow the Rebels to sortie, but will also allow the Federal flotilla to steam up the streams to get at the nearly-completed Rebel vessels. Murray is ordered to use the troops of Gen. Foster in cooperation for this mission.

—Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, well-known for his animosity towards the Press, writes about the subject to his brother John Sherman, a U.S. Senator from Ohio:
We have reproached the South for arbitrary conduct in coercing their people; at last we find we must imitate their example. we have denounced their tyranny in filling their armies with conscripts, and now we must follow her example. We have denounced their tyranny in suppressing freedom of speech and the press, and here, too, in time, we must follow their example. The longer it is deferred the worse it becomes. Who gave notice of McDowell’s movement on Manassas and enabled Johnson so to reinforce Beauregard that our army was defeated? The press. Who gave notice of the movement on Vicksburg? The press. Who has prevented all secret combinations and movements against our enemy? The press.
In the South this powerful machine was at once scotched and used by the Rebel government, but in the North was allowed to go free. What are the results? After arousing the passions of the people till the two great sections hate each other with a hate hardly paralleled in history, it now begins to stir up sedition at home, and even to encourage mutiny in our armies.

—In Virginia, Gen. Hooker continues in his reforming of the Army of the Potomac, tightening up loose ends in the observation of the Sabbath, the organization of topographical engineers, provost regulations, and the rules governing the resignation of officers from the Army.

—The Richmond Daily Dispatch publishes an editorial that wonders just why the stupid abolitionist Yankees cannot seem to learn anything about the negro’s true character, in rather virulent racist terms:
One of the few indications of reason and common sense which has been given by any party in the United States since this war begun is the resolute purpose manifested by the Conservatives to resist the emancipation policy of Abraham Lincoln. They seem clearly to comprehend that "fighting for the negro" is the most asinine of all human occupations, and would be, if successful, a triumph over Northern commerce not less than Southern independence.

There was, before the war, some honest ignorance in the North of the true condition and character of the negro; but the war has introduced Cuff and his relations to all mankind. He is no longer an object of mystery and romance. It familiarity has not bred contempt for him as yet in the eyes of the Black Republicans, it has sickened their Democratic allies to the very bottom of their stomachs. . . . They are discovering that they are valuable in the right place, but that place is not in the free States, nor where they can come in competition with white labor. They perceive that the negro only works upon compulsion; and that unless he is made to work, and that in cotton, rice, and tobacco, Northern conservation[?], alias Northern commerce and goods, must go to destruction. It is surprising that other nations, such as England, have not long ago made the same discovery.

Are they awake or asleep that the developments of such a war as this add nothing to their stock of knowledge of negro character! Instead of an element of weakness, do they not see that they are a corner-stone of a nation’s strength in war? Is it not better that black barbarians should, by subjection to the mild restrictions of Southern servitude, be made the most useful and productive class of human laborers, than that they should roam the dirty alleys and cellars of the North in filth and freedom?

—Major Alexander Biddle of the 121st Pennsylvania Volunteers Infantry, writes home to his wife about the incessant rain in Virginia:
Head Qrs 121st Reg P.V.
Camp near Belle plains Virg
Thursday February 19. 1863

Dear Julia
I write to you after over 60 hours of rain snow and rain the rain began last Monday afternoon next morning we had a thick snow and since that rain rain rain -- last nights and yesterday we could not read a book in our house without a drop falling on the open pages and when laid down upon my bed with india rubber beneath and india rubber above the dripping from our canvas roof kept up a lovely pattering outside my covering Hall told me when I moved in the night there was a small shower from my bed – when I rose I found my shoes nicely filled with water and everything wet around us – the rain however had nearly ceased and we had but little difficulty in getting ourselves comfortable again. . . .
A typical army winter hut, showing the chimney made of logs plastered with clay, the dugout cabin, sleeping platform, and A-frame of poles where the "roof" (canvas tent) was stretched.

—A skirmish is fought near Coldwater, Mississippi, between the 1st Indiana Cavalry and several hundred Confederate cavalry. The Federals rout the Rebels, killing 6, wounding 3, and capturing 15.

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