Friday, March 7, 2014

March 7, 1864

March 7, 1864

Red River Campaign: In Louisiana, Gen. Richard Taylor of the Confederate Army is assembling whatever troops he can find at hand, while Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks of the Union forces is readying his Army of the Gulf and a flotilla of gunboats to begin ascending the Red River. Banks, with over 15,000 men, is joined by two divisions (10,000 men) of Sherman’s Army of the Tennessee under Maj. Gen. A.J. Smith. Gen. Frederick Steele, at Little Rock, would march with a third column of Federal troops from Arkansas slanting down toward Shreveport. Also, 5,000 Federal cavalrymen under Brig. Gen. Albert Lee would ride north to secure Alexandria, Louisiana, the point where Banks and Smith would converge.

Maj. Gen. Richard Taylor, CSA

—President Lincoln writes to Congressman John A.J. Creswell, of Maryland, on the subject of gradual emancipation, to clarify what he intends:
To John A. J. Creswell
Hon. John A. J. Creswell Executive Mansion,

My dear Sir: Washington, March 7, 1864.
I am very anxious for emancipation to be effected in Maryland in some substantial form. I think it probable that my expressions of a preference for gradual over immediate emancipation, are misunderstood. I had thought the gradual would produce less confusion, and destitution, and therefore would be more satisfactory; but if those who are better acquainted with the subject, and are more deeply interested in it, prefer the immediate, most certainly I have no objection to their judgment prevailing. My wish is that all who are for emancipation in any form, shall co-operate, all treating all respectfully, and all adopting and acting upon the major opinion, when fairly ascertained. What I have dreaded is the danger that by jealousies, rivalries, and consequent ill-blood---driving one another out of meetings and conventions---perchance from the polls---the friends of emancipation themselves may divide, and lose the measure altogether. I wish this letter to not be made public; but no man representing me as I herein represent myself, will be in any danger of contradiction by me. Yours truly
C.S.S. David

—On the night preceding, James A. Tomb of the Confederate Navy takes command of the CSS David, a partially-submerged torpedo boat, which takes the backwaters southwest to the North Edisto River, between Charleston and Hilton Head, and sorties to attack a Federal ship. The USS Memphis, a former blockade runner captured and converted to blockade duty, is on patrol, under command of Master Robert O. Patterson. Finding the Memphis, the David steams straight ahead, and strikes the Memphis in the hull with the spar torpedo—but it fails to explode. The two vessels maneuver and the David tries again, and the torpedo fails again.

U.S.S. Memphis

—In the New York Times is found an article about the first black New York regiment setting off for service at the front:
The Ovation to the Black Regiment.

There has been no more striking manifestation of the marvelous times that are upon us than the scene in our streets at the departure of the first of our colored regiments. Had any man predicted it last year he would have been thought a fool, even by the wisest and most discerning. History abounds with strange contrasts. It always has been an ever-shifting melodrama. But never, in this land at least, has it presented a transition so extreme and yet so speedy as what our eyes have just beheld.

Eight months ago the African race in this City were literally hunted down like wild beasts. They fled for their lives. When caught, they were shot down in cold blood, or stoned to death, or hung to the trees or the lamp-posts. Their houses were pillaged; the asylum which Christian charity had provided for their orphaned children was burned; and there was no limit to the persecution but in the physical impossibility of finding further material on which the mob could wreak its ruthless hate. . . . The physical outrages which were inflicted on the black race in those terrible days were but the outburst of malignant agencies which had been transfusing the whole community from top to bottom, year after year.

How astonishingly has all this been changed! The same men who could not have shown themselves in the most obscure street in the City without peril of instant death, even though in the most suppliant attitude, now march in solid platoons, with shouldered muskets, slung knapsacks, and buckled cartridge-boxes down through our gayest avenues and our busiest thoroughfares to the pealing strains of martial music, and are everywhere saluted with waving handkerchiefs, with descending flowers,and with the acclamations and plaudits of countless beholders. . . . It is only by such occasions that we can at all realize the prodigious revolution which the public mind everywhere is experiencing. Such developments are infallible tokens of a new epoch.

—Private Robert Knox Sneden, recently become a resident, as a prisoner, of Andersonville Prison, writes in his journal of the woeful conditions faced there by the Federal prisoners:
. . . Although we like the outdoor situation better than being confined in buildings in Richmond, the cold winds and heavy rains offset it. All energy for escape is lost. Not a hope left for exchange. Every one is despondent except the rougher class of prisoners. Hunger gnaws our vitals day and night. All are impressed with the terrible fact that the Rebels will slowly starve us to death, and we are shut completely out from the rest of the world where our armies can never reach us. Among us are large numbers of roughs, who steal anything from each other or from a sick or weak comrade, taking his shoes, blanket, tin pan or anything coveted by sheer brutal force. There are over thirty of these desperate villains amoong us who make it a practice to prowl around a sleeping prisoner in the middle of the night and steal anything and everything he has. It he resists they club him into a state of insensibility, but generally get away with what they came for. They travel and prowl about at night like hyenas, three or four in a gang. Many of us know this and have made clubs, hardening them in the fire, so as to be ready for them. . . . Some of us have money yet, both Confederate and greenbacks. This is the main desire for these scoundrels to get. Something must be done to stop this villainy. Some of us are talking about establishing a patrol or police among ourselves, but no one volunteers to be chief and act.

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