Sunday, February 16, 2014

February 15, 1864

February 15, 1864

---Sergeant Alexander G. Downing, of the 11th Iowa Infantry, records his participation in the occupation of Meridian:

Monday, 15th—After two hours’ marching our army entered Meridian at about 10 o’clock this morning and went into camp. The rebels are still retreating, and detachments of our army are pursuing them. The infantry is sent out in all directions tearing up the railroads, burning the ties and twisting the rails. Large numbers of cars, some engines and the depot have been burned, as also the store buildings and many residences. It is a terrible sight to look upon. Forage is plentiful in this vicinity.

---Judith White McGuire, in Richmond, records in her journal her anxieties about the upcoming campaigns once Spring arrives, as well as the rising prices in the city markets:

A pause in my diary; but nothing of importance has occurred, either at home or with the country. The armies are mud-bound — I wish they could continue so. I dread the approach of Spring, with its excitements and horrors.

 Prices of provisions have risen enormously-bacon $8 per pound, butter $15, etc. Our old friends from the lower part of Essex, Mr.--‘s parishioners for many years, sent over a wagon filled most generously with all manner of necessary things for our larder. We have no right to complain, for Providence is certainly supplying our wants. The clerks' salaries, too, have been raised to $250 per month, which sounds very large; but when we remember that flour is $300 per barrel, it sinks into insignificance.

---George Templeton Strong, of New York City, writes in his journal with some shrewd observations about the will to fight, both North and South, but greatly underestimates the capacity for the white Southerners to carry on civil terrorism after defeat:

Cold weather.  Dyspeptic and atrabilious.  Busy day, nevertheless.  Columbia College Committee on School of Mines at Betts’s office.  Prospects good. . . .

Our columns in the Southwest are moving, and newspapers strategists are racking their brains for good guesses at the plan of the coming campaign.  But in East Tennessee, Secesh has the initiative and threatens Knoxville again.  The Army of the Potomac is mired and stationary, as usual.  There must soon be hard fighting in the Gulf States.  Secesh would prefer to fall back, concentrating—its true policy.  But the morale of its army is too low to bear this process.  With a little more discouragement, such as retreat and abandonment of territory would produce, the cohorts of Bragg and Johnston would be disorganized by desertions and mutiny.  So Secesh will have to fight.  Defeat on a large scale will be damaging to us, though not irreparable, but to them it will be final and fatal.  Rebellion can hardly survive another Gettysburg or Lookout Mountain.  Guerillas and rapparees would continue to steal cows and hang niggers for a season, but it would not be for long. . . .

---On this date, President Jefferson Davis of the Confederate States suspends the writ of habeas corpus.  Vice President Alexander Stephens responds by condemning Davis as a tyrant, and eventually leaving Richmond, effectively abandoning his office.
Pres. Jefferson Davis

---In Kinston, North Carolina, Gen. Pickett orders the hangings of 18 men who were North Carolinians and had joined the Union army for treason--even though they had previously only been in the State militia, and had never enrolled in the Confederate Army. 

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