Monday, March 31, 2014

March 30, 1864

March 30, 1864


---Jenkin Lloyd Jones, an artilleryman from Wisconcin, writes in his journal about the visit that ladies make to their camps, and the differences in the soldiers’ behavior there by such a visit:


At dress parade we were looked upon by four Northern ladies, one of whom was Mother Bickerdyke, having ridden up from town in an ambulance. The ranks, which before they came under the soft glances of women, were irregular, steps broken, heads drooping, all carelessness, now closed up and all moved with true military precision. A natural impulse to please took hold of them, I guess. After parade they were conducted through camp examining our quarters, with a pleasant smile and a kind word for all, spreading sunshine as they went and filling the heart with fond recollections and pleasing hopes. All were Northern women upon missions of love, one I understood a Wisconsin one, a young lady of twenty-five, the others elderly.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

March 29, 1864

March 29, 1864

---Jenkin Lloyd Jones, a Wisconsin artilleryman, still in camp at Hunstville, Alabama, writes in his journal of the unexpected but welcome arrival of provisions from Mother Bickerdyke, a volunteer nurse and herbalist whose care of the soldiers was frequently at odds with the Army Medical Corps practice.  Jones is very clear how welcome the change in diet is:

Huntsville, Tuesday, March 29. Rained exceedingly heavy during the night, but cleared off in the morning. Continued cool through the day. Our camp was visited to-day by Mother Bickerdyke with four mule teams loaded with good things from the North for the soldiers. Left us three barrels of potatoes, turnips, carrots, etc., one barrel of sourkraut with one of dried applies. Noble woman. I still remember with gratitude the motherly interest she took in my welfare while lying in the hospital at Corinth. Here again she comes with that which she has gathered by her own labor in the North, not leaving it to be wholly absorbed by surgeons, directors and officers, as is too often the case with sanitary goods. She comes along in a mule wagon and delivers it herself to the “good boys” as she terms us, without seeking the officers. She drew a large crowd around her soon. Her glowing, welcoming face, filled with cordiality, had a magnetic influence upon the hearts of all, such a contrast to the haughty, disdainful looks we are accustomed to receive from women in general. May God bless her noble, self-sacrificing spirit, is the soldier’s prayer.

Had a most hearty old-fashioned supper of potatoes and onions with gravy, which was better for our grease-laden systems than loads of cathartics. We had about twelve pounds of dried apples for our mess of four. . . .


---Stephen Minot Weld, a young officer in the Union army, writes home about his regiment gathering with the rest of the re-constituted IX Corps at Annapolis, Maryland, and how unhospitable the neighborhood is for Northern soldiers:

Annapolis is probably one of the worst cities in the Union at the present time. All the camp-followers attendant on our army, together with a large body of New York and Baltimore roughs, infest the place. These, together with paroled prisoners, make the place dangerous for any civilized beings. Within a fortnight four soldiers have been found between here and Annapolis with their throats cut. The last one found was a man named McAinsh of this regiment, a very good man indeed, but one who was fond of going on a “bender ” occasionally. He left camp without leave, went to Annapolis, got drunk probably, so that these rascals saw his money, and on his way out here had his throat cut, and his money taken. He was found dead in the woods close by here. . . . I hear that fifty-six infantry regiments are going with Burnside. My opinion is that we go to North Carolina, although I have no official or private information to make me say so. . . .

Saturday, March 29, 2014

March 28, 1864

March 28, 1864

---Riots in Illinois:  In Charleston, Illinois, soldiers of the 54th Illinois Infantry, home on leave, begin to make trouble against Copperheads (Southern sympathizers) in the neighborhood.  This day, on Court Day, a large rally for the Democratic Party is held in the town center.  A large group of soldiers appears, and John Rice Eden, the local congressman, tries to calm the crowd.  But in a scuffle, a civilian shots a soldier, who in turn shoots his assailant.  Shooting breaks out in a wild melee, and the Democrats fire on the soldiers, most of whom have stacked their arms.  The sheriff, John O’Hair, dashes out, as if to arrest the Copperheads shooting at the troops, but joins the civilians and begins shooting them, too.  Col. Greenville Mitchell, commander of the regiment, runs out into the street with his surgeon (a notorious abolitionist) and both are shot down.  By the time the soldiers are able to grab their rifles and deploy, the sheriff suddenly orders the Copperhead civilians to cease fire.  Nine are dead---six soldiers, two Copperheads, and a shopkeeper who was caught in crossfire.  Twelve more are wounded, including the regimental colonel and surgeon.  Warrants are issued, and nearly 50 civilians are arrested, and eventually 16 of them go to prison, but are not charged.  The sheriff escapes to Canada.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

March 27, 1864

March 27, 1864

—Gen. Ulysses S. Grant spends a good deal of today in conference with Pres. Lincoln, Gen. Halleck, and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.


---Colonel John M Hughes, commanding the 25th Tennessee Infantry Regiment, CSA, makes contact with Federal troops in Sparta, Tennessee, and asks to take the U.S. oath of allegiance.


---John Beauchamp Jones, of Richmond, notes glumly in his diary of the failure of some of his gardening efforts:

MARCH 27TH.—Bright morning, but windy; subsequently warmer, and wind lulled. Collards coming up. Potatoes all rotted in the ground during the recent cold weather. I shall rely on other vegetables, which I am now beginning to sow freely.
We have no war news to-day.

—Maj. Gen Nathaniel Banks, in command of the Federal Army of the Gulf, campaigning in the Red River Valley, writes to the Adjutant-General of the Army, explaining his raising and use of black soldiers in his army:

Alexandria, March 27, 1864
Washington, D. C.:

SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 7th instant, relating to the organization of the negro troops in this department, under General Orders, No., 47, and to state in reply thereto that the order was issued while the army was on the march at Opelousas. Up to the date of the order, three regiments of negroes had been organized according to the provisions of the Army Regulations.
These regiments absorbed all the material that was available at that time. It became necessary during the campaign of last year to organize new regiments for instant service. The men, of course, were utterly unused to everything appertaining to military service, the negroes of Central and Northern Louisiana being perhaps less adapted to this service than those of any other State.

The officers, with few exceptions, were necessarily taken from the ranks. These regiments being required for immediate service, it was necessary that the number of men should be limited, so that inexperienced officers might render wholly uninstructed troops available in the shortest possible time. The number of each company was limited to 50, it being the intention as soon as more country opened to us to fill the regiments to the minimum or maximum number, and also to recruit from the plantations within the lines of the army, in accordance with the instructions which I had received from General Halleck. . . .

From the moment these regiments were organized they entered active service, and have been from that day constantly in the presence of the enemy, from Brashear to Port Hudson. Two brigades will participate in this campaign. I was conscious that there was a departure from the Regulations of the Army on this subject, but the necessities of the case seemed to justify it. These regiments did excellent service, and it is no more than just to say that the campaign of last year could hardly have been accomplished without their aid.

The restrictions as to numbers are in accordance with military experience in regard to the organization of recruits intended for immediate service. To one instance I may properly refer. In France, under Napoleon, when intended for immediate service the battalions were limited to 300 instead of 1,000 men. My experience in this department fully justifies this practice when the troops are required for instant service. Under other circumstances a departure from the Army Regulations would be inexcusable. It is my intention to fill these regiments to the minimum and maximum numbers as soon as possible, and I hope that this campaign may furnish the material for such purpose.

With much respect, your obedient servant,
Major-General, Commanding.

—Captain Augustus C. Brown, commander of Co. H of the 4th New York Heavy Artillery Regiment—now being transformed into infantry—writes in his diary about leaving the comforts of their barracks in the fort, arriving in in the field at Brandy Station, and having to sleep in canvas shelter tents:

Sunday, March 27th.
At 7 o’clock this morning, being relieved by the 3d Pennsylvania Artillery, a German regiment, the company was formed for the last time on the parade ground in front of the old barracks, and one hundred and eighty-two men answered to their names at roll call. Filing slowly out of the little fort which we had built and had garrisoned for nearly two years, we formed with Co.’s A and I, and marched to Fort Ethan Allen, where we found the other companies of the regiment just falling into line. After the usual delays we took up the line of march about nine o’clock for Alexandria, where we found a train of cars awaiting us, and arrived at Brandy Station about ten o’clock that night. Here we had our first experience with shelter tents, which we pitched near the depot, and in an incredibly short time, notwithstanding the state of the weather, which was decidedly cold and unpleasant, "sleep and oblivion reigned over all."
Brandy Station, as we saw it, presented but few inducements for permanent residence. A few tents, sheds and dilapidated old buildings standing in the midst of a rolling prairie and immediately surrounded by acres of boxes, bags, bales, barrels and innumerable other army stores, comprised all the natural or architectural beauties of the place, but, being then the terminus of the railroad, the whole Army of the Potomac drew its supplies from this point. Should the track be relaid to Culpepper, however, in two days’ time no passing traveler would be able to locate the ancient site of Brandy Station.

—Oliver Norton Willcox, an officer serving with the 8th U.S. Colored Troops, writes home to his sister, and tells of his awakening to the pleasures of the game of chess:

Do you want to know how I spend my time here? Well, in the first place I am a member of a court-martial that meets every morning at 10 o’clock. If there is business enough we sit till 3 or 4 p. m., and then adjourn, but usually we get through much earlier. Then I come back to camp, and after dinner I read or write or play chess. I play a great deal lately and the more I learn the more I like it. It is a noble game and I am determined to be no mean player. I have already beaten the best player I can find in the regiment, and I mean to get so I can do it every time. Last winter I used to play "euchre" or "old sledge," but it never improved me much. Chess on the contrary is a never ending study. Dr. Franklin called it the "King of Games."

March 26, 1864

March 26, 1864

---As the Federal forces continue to prepare to advance up the Red River, the Navy (under Admiral Porter) has been seizing all of the cotton within reach, regardless of whether it belongs to the Confederate government, Confederate sympathizers, Union sympathizers, or even free blacks.  Under Naval prize law, half of the profits go the crew, and 5% to the Admiral.  When General Banks arrives, he disapproves, but legally cannot give orders to the Navy.  The cotton speculation continues.  Meanwhile, Banks drafts orders for the army to begin their advance. 

(Source: Civil War Daily Gazette )


---As Union cavalry approaches Paducah, Forrest and his raiders evacuate Paducah, and retreat south.


---Gen. Grant describes his situation and that of the Army of the Potomac for the coming Spring campaign:

That portion of the Army of the Potomac not engaged in guarding lines of communication was on the northern bank of the Rapidan. The Army of Northern Virginia confronting it on the opposite bank of the same river, was strongly intrenched and commanded by the acknowledged ablest general in the Confederate army. The country back to the James River is cut up with many streams, generally narrow, deep, and difficult to cross except where bridged. The region is heavily timbered, and the roads narrow, and very bad after the least rain. Such an enemy was not, of course, unprepared with adequate fortifications at convenient intervals all the way back to Richmond, so that when driven from one fortified position they would always have another farther to the rear to fall back into.


---Capt. Augustus C. Brown, of the 4th New York Heavy Artillery Regiment, writes in his diary of the fateful orders putting the 4th in the field, leaving their comfortable quarters in Fort Marcy, one of the fortifications protecting Washington, D.C.  :

Fort Marcy, Va., Saturday, March 26th, 1864.

I was suddenly awakened at 5 o’clock this morning by Capt. McKeel of Company A, who rushed frantically into my quarters with the intelligence that the regiment had received “marching orders,” and was immediately to join the Army of the Potomac. McKeel appeared to be in great glee; declared that he had long been “spoiling for a fight”; that now the grand object of his military existence was to be attained, and that it would never be recorded of him that he had fought three years for his country without seeing an enemy or firing a gun. . . . Indeed I may frankly say that just at that moment no order could have been more unexpected or undesirable to myself, for, forgetful of the proverbial mutability of human affairs, and particularly of military affairs, I had just completed for the officers of my company a residence within the fort. . . . It will, therefore, hardly be wondered at, that the order to march was welcomed by the Commander of Company H., Fourth N. Y. Heavy Artillery, about as joyfully as a mortar shell is received in a comfortable “Gopher-hole,” and that he looked upon the movement as an arbitrary exercise of a little brief authority on the part of the Government, and an unwarranted invasion of personal and proprietary rights. . . .

March 25, 1864

March 25, 1864

---Gen. Forrest and his Rebel cavalry attack and capture part of Paducah, Kentucky, just across the river from Illinois.

---Former Pres. Millard Fillmore, in his first public statement on the war, that he believes that in spite of the vast destruction, the war must be won, and then offers this view on showing mercy and charity afterwards:

But it must be apparent to all that the first step toward bringing this war to a close is to conquer the [rebel] army. Any negotiations for peace before this is done would prove abortive; and any professed clemency to those in arms who d[efy] our power would be a mockery which would be treated with ridicule and contempt. But, when we have conquered their armies and disposed of their leaders, then let us show our magnanimity and generosity by winning back the deluded multitude who have been seduced or coerced into this rebellion, by extending to them every act of clemency and kindness in our power, and by restoring them to all their rights under the Constitution. This I conceive to be Christian forgiveness and the best policy, and the only one which can ever restore this Union.

Monday, March 24, 2014

March 24, 1864

March 24, 1864

---Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, with his cavalry, raid Union City, Tennessee, taking prisoner the Federal garrison there.

---Red River Campaign:  At Alexandria, Louisiana, Gen. Nathaniel Banks arrives to take command.  He is dismayed to find that he is required to return A.J. Smith's division to Sherman by April 15.  He is also dismayed to find that the Red River is so low this year that it may prevent Porter's fleet ascending the river.

---Gen. Grant joins the Army of the Potomac.  He reveals his plan for joints, coordinate movement in all theaters: The Army of the Potomac would go after Lee in Virginia; the combined forces in Chattanooga (Army of the Tennessee, Army of the Cumberland, Army of the Ohio, XX Corps) under Sherman  would move against Johnston in northern Georgia, with Atlanta as the target; the Army of the James under Butler would move from Fortress Monroe towards Richmond; the Army of the Shenandoah under Sigel will begin moving up the Shenandoah Valley to flank Richmond; Gen. Crook with a column of cavalry and artillery in West Virginia will move to cut the railroad that runs from Knoxville to Virginia. 

March 23, 1864

March 23, 1864
---On this date, under orders from Sec. of War Edwin Stanton, Gen Meade is compelled to re-organize the Army of the Potomac.  Parts of the XI Corps and the XII Corps had been sent to Tennessee in October to form the XX Corps, under the command of Joseph Hooker.  What was left is folded into the II, the V, and the VI Corps.  The I and III Corps are disbanded, and their units scattered throughout the army.  The II Corps remains, commanded by Winfield S. Hancock, the V Corps commanded by Gouverneur K. Warren, and the VI still by John Sedgwick.  John Newton, who was commanding the I Corps, is simply dismissed, as is William French, commanding the III Corps.  Gen. Sykes, who commands the V Corps, is also dismissed, and Warren put in his place.  Alfred Pleasonton is relieved of command of the Cavalry Corps, and Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan is put in his place.  These moves raise the ire of supporters of the several dismissed generals, especially the soldiers of the III Corps, who are still fully enthralled in Gen. Daniel Sickles’ personality cult.
---Gen. Grant arrives in Washington from Nashville.
---At a large and noisy political rally at the Cooper Union Institute, Democrats put forth the name of George McClellan for President of the United States.
---George Michael Neese, of Chew’s Battery in the Confederate Army, offers this poetic view of the scene that greeted him after spending a night in a snowfall.
March 23 — It stopped snowing last night, and every speck of cloud drifted away from the azure dome this morning before sunrise. Our common Mother Earth, on whose bosom we slumbered, was calmly reposing this morning under a white crystal counterpane ten inches thick.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

March 22, 1864

March 22, 1864

---After long-distance wrangling, some prodding from Gen. Grant and Gen. Sherman, Gen. Steele in Arkansas is finally ready to move---two weeks after he should have.  He plans to step off tomorrow, March 23.

---Confederate artilleryman George Michael Neese, of Chew’s Battery, is in bivouac in the Shenandoah Valley.  He writes in his journal of the snowfall:

March 22 — Commenced snowing this forenoon, with a cold north wind sweeping over the bleak fields, which sends chilly feelings to the bones of soldiers without houses or shelter. It is still snowing very fast this evening.

---Robert M. Magill, of Georgia, enjoying the sporting possibilities from the same fall of snow, writes in his journal of a grand snow-ball fight between two regiments:

Wednesday, 22.—Big snow. 36th and 56th fought snow battle. 36th had to retreat, being out numbered. 12 A. M., long roll beat in 39th; in short time long roll in 56th; both regiments formed at once, confronting each other, with colors flying; 39th advanced, 56th charged and drove 39th back about ten steps, when they rallied and drove 56th back some distance. The battle now raged with tremendous fury; snowballs flying and falling fast as hail. Got hold of 56th’s colors, but they rallied so strong, could not take them away. Both sides agreed to quit, the 39th having driven the 56th back about one hundred yards.

---Kate Cumming, a nurse for the Confederate Army, writes in her journal of the same snowfall in Georgia:

We have had a very heavy fall of snow. All enjoyed it. Old and young were out snow-balling each other. Drs. H. and B. got up a very fine equipage in the way of a sleigh. The runners were made by one of the men, and the carriage part was a packing-box. Instead of furs, blankets were used. The whole affair would have been a most attractive turnout in Broadway.

March 21, 1864

March 21, 1864

---Convinced that Gen. Steele’s Yankees in Arkansas are going to stay put for a while, Gen. Edmund Kirby-Smith, commander of the Confederate Department of the Trans-Mississippi, orders Gen. Sterling Price and his troops south into Louisiana, to Shreveport.  Price has replaced Theophilus Holmes as commander of the Rebels in Arkansas.  Price is reluctant to move south, since his preference always is to strike northward into his native Missouri, to liberate it from the hated Yankees. 

---Red River Campaign:  Battle of Henderson Hill.  Brig. Gen. Albert Lee, commanding the Federal cavalry in this expedition, detaches a brigade under Col. Thomas Lucas, which joins two brigades of infantry under Joseph Mower, to move upstream toward the nearest Rebel outpost.  Lucas’ horsemen run into Rebel cavalry about 13 miles out of Alexandria, and the Federals drive them across the Bayou Rapides and up onto Henderson Hill.  At this point, the Rebels bring up artillery and begin shelling the bluecoats.  Gen. Mower arrives, and decides to keep Lucas on the hill in front (to “amuse” the Rebels) and sends a brigade of infantry and two cannon, along with one of Lucas’ mounted regiments, on a long march around the Confederate flank.  The Federals turn into the Confederate camps and capture all troops there, and then move in behind Henderson Hill, where Col. Vincent and the 2nd Louisiana Cavalry Regiment surrenders, whole.  Gen. Taylor now has no more cavalry.  The total “bag” is over 222 men, 200 horses, 4 cannons, 92 muskets, and a lot of vehicles and equipment for cavalry.  Union Victory.

---The Richmond Daily Dispatch publishes an editorial on the subject of the Union recruiting slaves in Kentucky to fight.  Gov. Bramlette protests to Washington that Kentucky is a loyal state, and that enrolling slaves into the Union army violates state laws:

Affairs in Kentucky–action of Gen. Bramlette on its negro enlistment.

Governor Bramlette, of Kentucky, has written to the President, protesting against the enrollment of negroes, and giving notice that he will enforce the State laws in the matter. –Kentucky, he says having proved her loyally, must be treated as a loyal State, and her Constitution and laws respected. A telegram from Louisville says:

Gov. Bramlette telegraphed to the Provost Marshal General of the State, at Danville yesterday, that if the Government did not stop the enrollment of slaves in the State, he (the Governor) would. He also telegraphed to the Rev. Dr. Robert Breckinridge, the distinguished Union leader, to come to Frankfort.

Mr. Breckinridge replied that he did not approve of the course taken by the Governor at all, and if he expected him to sustain his courses there was no use of his coming to the State capital. He preferred to remain among the people. . . .

The Union men of the State have taken a decided stand in favor of the National Government, and are determined to sustain the proper officers in the enforcement of the Federal laws in the State.

Bramlette has issued an address to the people of Kentucky, in which he says:

In view of the disturbance of the popular mind produced by the enrollment of slaves for the army in Kentucky, it is deemed prudent to make the following suggestions for the benefit and guidance of the people of Kentucky. Your indignation should not prove you to commit acts of violence nor to unlawful deeds. Standing as we have stood and will ever stand for the Constitution and the Union and the enforcement of the laws, we must repel the efforts of the rebellion to overturn our Government by our gallant soldiers in the field, and meet and correct unjust or unconstitutional legislation by legal appeals to constituted tribunes of the Government; and at the ballot box, in constituted modes, overthrow those who pervert or abuse the trust committed to them.

This is the only true mode of maintaining the Constitution and the Union and the enforcement of the laws. The mere act of enrolling the names of slaves does not affect any right of citizens. . . .

It is our duty to obey the law until it is declared by judicial decision to be unconstitutional. Citizens whose property may be taken for public use will be entitled, under the imperative mandate of the Constitution, to just compensation for his private property, so taken for public use. Although the present Congress may not do us justice, yet it is safe to rely upon the justice of the American people, and an appeal to them will not be unheeded or unanswered. . . . Uphold and maintain your Government, as constituted, and obey and enforce its just demands as the only hope of perpetuating free institutions.

Apparently, Gov. Bramlette is allowing the possibility that holding slaves in Kentucky may be considered “perpetuating free institutions.”