Sunday, March 16, 2014

March 16, 1864

March 16, 1864


---Red River Campaign:  Admiral David Dixon Porter, in command of the largest river fleet in history, arrives at Alexandria, Louisiana, and lands 180 sailors there.  Then Federal troops under Brig. Gen. Joseph Mower occupy the town and raise the Stars and Stripes.  Mower’s troops were described by one resident as looters and marauders: homes entered, and everything of value hauled away.  Even items of no military or monetary value to the Yankees were destroyed, such as “the ledgers, promissory notes, and accounts destroyed.”  The soldiers ransacked drugstores and stripped the town of food.  This commentator asserts that furniture and private possessions were despoiled, and that the people were “insulted and abused in the grossest manner.”  Most notable was the Navy, with Porter’s apparent approval, confiscating all cotton—even that owned by private owners, and even Unionists.  The bales were stamped with C.S. brands to make it appear that only Confederate government cotton was being taken.   
Admiral Porter's fleet at dockside in Alexandria. Louisiana (click to enlarge)

Gen. A.J. Smith and Porter await the arrival of Gen. Banks and the main force marching northwest up the Bayou Teche for a rendezvous of the entire force.

Porter's fleet on the Red River

---The Confederate States government takes measures to save its currency by devaluing it and restricting the supply of cash.  Food prices take a steep dive, and so this measure helps, at least temporarily.


---Sergeant Alexander P. Downing, a young Union soldier in the 11th Iowa Infantry Regiment, finally gets his furlough home:

Wednesday, 16th—This is a beautiful day. I left for home on my thirty-day furlough. I embarked with the Fifteenth Iowa and the Thirty-second Illinois, on board the “Olive Branch.” We left for Cairo, Illinois, at 3 p. m. We say adieu to thee, Vicksburg, the Gibraltar of the West! We leave thee with some pleasant memories, notwithstanding the many hardships we had to endure while with thee! Before we left Vicksburg the railroad station caught fire and was completely consumed with two thousand bushels of oats stored there.


---In southern Tennessee, along the Chattanooga railroad, a company of Rebel irregulars under a Captain Scott stops the train and robs the passengers.  One report supplies this ghastly detail of the raid:

Among other atrocious acts was the following: There were four colored boys on the train acting in the capacity of brakemen, and two black men who were officers’ servants. These six poor creatures were placed in a row, and a squad of about forty of the robbers, under a Captain Scott, of Tennessee, discharged their revolvers at them, actually shooting the poor fellows all to pieces.—


---John Beauchamp Jones, of the Richmond War Department, writes in his journal of the investigations of what happened at Vicksburg:

The Examiner to-day publishes Gen. Jos. E. Johnston’s report of his operations in Mississippi last summer. He says the disaster at Vicksburg was owing to Gen. Pemberton’s disobedience of orders. He was ordered to concentrate his army and give battle before the place was invested, and under no circumstances to allow himself to be besieged, which must of course result in disaster. He says, also, that he was about to manœuvre in such manner as would have probably resulted in the saving a large proportion of his men, when, to his astonishment, he learned that Gen. P. had capitulated.

Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, CSA

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