Thursday, April 4, 2013

March 29, 1863

March 29, 1863
David L. Day, an infantryman in the 25th Massachusetts in coastal North Carolina, writes about attending Church in the local meeting house:
Church Service.

March 29. Church service today for the first time in several weeks; we occupied the Methodist church. Chaplain James discoursed on neutrality. He said there could be no such thing as neutrality; a man must be one thing or the other, and those who do not declare for the government, should be treated as its enemies. The house was well filled with soldiers and the galleries running around three sides of the house were filled with darkies, who somewhat resembled an approaching thunder squall.

---Charles Wright Wills, a young officer serving in the 109th Illinois Infantry, writes in his journal about the brazen escapades of Rebel guerillas so near the Union base at LaGrange, Tennessee:

Camp at Lagrange, Tenn.,

March 29, 1863. 

All perfectly quiet except the regular picket firing every night which here exceeds anything I ever before met in my experience. ‘Tis singular, too, for we have a large force of cavalry here and I should think the rascals would hardly dare to venture so near them. A few days since three guerrillas came up to one of our cavalry pickets, and while he was examining one of their passes the others watching their chance gobbled him. They at once retreated. The sergeant of the picket heard a little noise on the post and just got there in time to see the secesh disappear. He raised the alarm, and a party followed them on the run for 15 miles, rescued our man, killed three and captured four of the rascals, . . . ‘Tisn’t safe to go three miles from camp now, although 100 men can go 40 miles in any direction safely.

---A War Department clerk in Richmond, John Beauchamp Jones, writes in his diary, musing over the probability of Union victory, and the desperation of the South’s need for victory:

A day of reckoning will come, for the people of the United States will resume the powers of which the war has temporarily dispossessed them, or else there will be disruptions, and civil war will submerge the earth in blood. The time has not arrived, or else the right men have not arisen, for the establishment of despotisms.

Everything depends upon the issues of the present campaign, and upon them it may be bootless to speculate. No one may foretell the fortunes of war—I mean where victory will ultimately perch in this frightful struggle. We are environed and invaded by not less than 600,000 men in arms, and we have not in the field more than 250,000 to oppose them. But we have the advantage of occupying the interior position, always affording superior facilities for concentration. Besides, our men must prevail in combat, or lose their property, country, freedom, everything,—at least this is their conviction. On the other hand, the enemy, in yielding the contest, may retire into their own country, and possess everything they enjoyed before the war began. Hence it may be confidently believed that in all the battles of this spring, when the numbers are nearly equal, the Confederates will be the victors, and even when the enemy have superior numbers, the armies of the South will fight with Roman desperation. The conflict will be appalling and sanguinary beyond example, provided the invader stand up to it. That much is certain. And if our armies are overthrown, we may be no nearer peace than before.

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