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 http://civilwardailygazette.com )
---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. . . .