Monday, March 10, 2014

March 8, 1864

March 8, 1864

---Newly-promoted Lieut. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant shows up in Washington last night, unknown and unacknowledged.  He checks into Willard’s hotel, looking rather travel-worn and with no badge of rank.  He is assigned to an attic room in the hotel for himself and his son, Fred.  Lincoln’s aides finally find him and take him over to the White House where a reception was already in motion.  Grant meets Lincoln, who greets him with “This is General Grant, is it?”  The two chat for a while, and then Grant is led to meet the First Lady, Sec. Seward, and finally Sec. Stanton.  At one point, the general is compelled to stand on a sofa so that everyone can get a look at him.  One reporter writes that Grant “blushed like a schoolgirl.”  Lincoln tells Grant that he would like the General to formally accept the rank advancement tomorrow, and to give a speech.

Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, USA

---Charles H. Lynch, a young Union soldier, writes in his journal about the travails of picket duty in the winter misery:

March 8th. A cold, wet, disagreeable night for picket duty. We are about as miserable as we can be. When off duty we find shelter in an old barn, until the arrival of our tents. Maryland mud is fully as bad as Virginia. Trying to make the best of our condition, hoping for sunshine and warmer weather. All is quiet along the picket line. Once in a while the boys take chances and shoot at the turkey buzzards, sailing through the air.

---Jenkin Lloyd Jones, an artilleryman from Wisconsin, is on garrison duty at Hunstville, Alabama, has been ill for a number of weeks now, in the misery of a muddy camp.  On this day, a batch of replacement troops to bolster the understaffed battery has arrived from home---along with a package from home:

Huntsville, Monday, March 7. A cloudy, dismal morning. Felt gloomy and sad in spirits. After dinner in hopes of driving such feelings away, I took my pen to write to Thomas. While thus engaged, I was interrupted by a loud talking and cheering in front of the tent, which called me out. There I found that the recruits had arrived from Camp Randall, thirty stout and hearty looking men with mouths wide open, gazing at their “to be” comrades. Anyone could see that they were raw recruits, but nearly everyone had friends to receive and congratulate, but I knew no one, but was cheered by the handing of a package to me by a stranger. It was from home. Hardly waiting to go to my tent, I tore it open, found a pair of socks knit by the hands of my mother; she who so often in times gone by has contributed to my comfort and happiness, had again remembered me in her labors, while suffering severely under the ruthless hand of disease. Oh how precious she is to me, and how fondly I will cherish her humble gift. Also a number of the Phrenological Journals bound in with the calico strip as of old—my favorite paper, loaded with valuable reading matter; also a gift from Brother John, a diary such as I need. The whole so impressed me with the scenes of home and its endearments that I could hardly refrain the tears. When the mail arrived I received four letters—nearly enough for one day.

---Young Lieut. Luman Harris Tenney, an officer in the 2nd Ohio Cavalry Regiment, on furlough back home in Cleveland, discusses a night out with Fannie, his principal female interest, and the uncertainty of making plans during a war:

7th. At 10 A. M. went to the east side with Roxena. Fine Arts Hall and then for bath. P. M. called at Mr. Barnitz’, Bys’, Mrs. Cobb’s and Cous. Brougham’s. Fannie and I rode out—E. Cleveland, etc. Enjoyed myself hugely. We also went to hear Anna Dickinson. “Words for the Hour.” After lecture, walked and talked over our love affairs, and discussed our relations and feelings. Had it not been for a few hindrances and contingencies, I think we would have engaged ourselves. Under the circumstances I could and would not entertain the thought. I love the girl and hope she loves me. God forbid that we should ever be married to be unhappy, if ever done must be mutual self-sacrifice from choice. God help and bless both of us.

---Robert M. Magill, a young soldier in the 39th Georgia Infantry Regiment, writes in his journal of un unexpected gift from the ladies back home:

Wednesday, 8th.—Had good dinner to-day; sent to Company F from the ladies of Crawford County, Ga. Plenty of bread, butter and ham.


---Mary Boykin Chestnut, in Richmond, is told an experience by her friend Mrs. Preston, who had found an old friend in despair and a living illustration of the devastations of war on the people of the South:

Mrs. Preston went up, knew the lady, had her brought down into comfortable rooms, and nursed her until she recovered from her delirium and fever. She had run away, indeed, and was hiding herself and her children from a worthless husband. Now, she has one son in a Yankee prison, one mortally wounded, and the last of them dying there under her eyes of consumption. This last had married here in Richmond, not wisely, and too soon, for he was a mere boy; his pay as a private was eleven dollars a month, and his wife’s family charged him three hundred dollars a month for her board; so he had to work double tides, do odd jobs by night and by day, and it killed him by exposure to cold in this bitter climate to which his constitution was unadapted.

They had been in Vicksburg during the siege, and during the bombardment sought refuge in a cave. The roar of the cannon ceasing, they came out gladly for a breath of fresh air. At the moment when they emerged, a bomb burst there, among them, so to speak, struck the son already wounded, and smashed off the arm of a beautiful little grandchild not three years old. There was this poor little girl with her touchingly lovely face, and her arm gone. This mutilated little martyr, Mrs. Preston said, was really to her the crowning touch of the woman’s affliction. Mrs. Preston put up her hand, “Her baby face haunts me.”

Mary Chestnut and her husband Col. James Chestnut

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