Wednesday, March 5, 2014

March 4, 1864

March 4, 1864

—As the excitement of the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid on Richmond dies down, some personal papers of Col. Dahlgren’s come to light. 14-year-old William Littlepage finds on Dahlgren’s body a notebook and some other papers folded with it. It is the speech the Colonel had prepared to give to his troops, but never did, as well as other notes. In one note are these words:

We hope to release the prisoners from Belle Island first, and having seen them fairly started, we will cross the James River into Richmond, destroying the bridges after us and exhorting the released prisoners to destroy and burn the hateful city; and do not allow the rebel leader Davis and his traitorous crew to escape.This seems dire enough, but there are more specific goals in the speech itself:

We will try and secure the bridge to the city, (one mile below Belle Isle,) and release the prisoners at the same time. If we do not succeed they must then dash down, and we will try and carry the bridge from each side. When necessary, the men must be filed through the woods and along the river bank. The bridges once secured, and the prisoners loose and over the river, the bridges will be secured and the city destroyed. The men must keep together and well in hand, and once in the city it must be destroyed and Jeff. Davis and Cabinet killed.A Lieut. Pollard turns the papers over to his division commander, Gen. Fitzhugh Lee, who brings them to President Davis. Davis passes it off as inconsequential, but other members of the government are more incenses. Gen. Braxton Bragg immediately wants to hang all of the Federal prisoners taken from that raid. The hanging response is rejected by Pres. Davis and by Gen. Robert E. Lee. Gen. Samuel Cooper, the adjutant general of the Confederate Army, ensures that the papers are photographed.

(Source: The Civil War Daily Gazette )  

---The U.S. Senate approves Andrew Johnson as Federal Military Governor of Tennessee.  

---Rebel irregulars clash with Federal garrison troops just outside of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, with the Federals inflicting greater losses on the guerillas and driving them off. 

—Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman writes to Gen. Banks (Army of the Gulf, preparing to ascend the Red River in Louisiana) with instructions about the use of two divisions of troops that Sherman is sending to cooperate with Banks on this campaign. Notice that Sherman’s very concise, curt, and direct style make it clear that he does not want to be without those troops one minute longer than is necessary:

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE, Steamer Diana, under motion, March 4, 1864.
Major General N. P. BANKS,
Commanding Department of the Gulf, New Orleans:

GENERAL: I had the honor to receive your letter of the 2nd instant yesterday at New Orleans, but was unable to answer it except verbally, and I now reduce it to writing.

I will arrive at Vicksburg the 6th instant, and I expect to meet there my command from Canton, out of which I will select two divisions of about 10,000 men, embark them under a good commander, and order him, first, to rendezvous at the mouth of Red River and, in concert with Admiral Porter (if he agree), to strike Harrisonburg a hard blow; second, to return to Red River and ascend it, aiming to reach Alexandria on March 17 to report to you; third, that this command, designed to operate by water, will not be encumbered with land transportation, say two wagons to a regiment, but with an ample supply of stores, including mortars and heavy rifled guns, to be used against fortified places; fourth, that I calculate, and so report to General Grant, that this detachment of his forces in no event go beyond Shreveport, and that you spare them the moment you can, trying to get them back to the Mississippi in thirty days from the time they actually enter Red River. The year is wearing away fast, and I would like to carry to General Grant, at Huntsville, Ala., every man of his division as early in April as possible, as I am sure we ought to move from the base of the Tennessee River to the south before the season is too far advanced-say April 15 next.
Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, USA

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