Monday, March 10, 2014

March 9, 1864

March 9, 1864

---In a ceremony in the afternoon, Ulysses S. Grant is officially endowed with the rank of Lieutenant General and given command of all Union armies.  President Lincoln gives a short address:

General Grant:

 The nation's appreciation of what you have done, and it's reliance upon you for what remains to do, in the existing great struggle, are now presented with this commission, constituting you Lieutenant General in the Army of the United States. With this high honor devolves upon you also, a corresponding responsibility. As the country herein trusts you, so, under God, it will sustain you. I scarcely need to add that with what I here speak for the nation goes my own hearty personal concurrence.

Grant follows with a short and awkward speech also; some of the spectators describe Grant as being visibly ill-at-ease: 

Mr. President: I accept this commission with gratitude for the high honor conferred. With the aid of the noble armies that have fought on so many fields for our common country, it will be my earnest endeavor not to disappoint your expectations. I feel the full weight of the responsibilities now devolving on me, and I know that if they are met, it will be due to those armies, and, above all, to the favor of that Providence which leads both nations and men.

After an interview with the President, Grant makes preparations to proceed immediately to Brandy Station to meet with Gen. Meade.

Lt Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, USA

---Meanwhile, Gen. Meade, commander of the Army of the Potomac, has his own anxieties over the advent of Grant.  He writes to his wife, and discusses what unknown changes might accrue:

To Mrs. George G. Meade:


I am curious to see how you take the explosion of the conspiracy to have me relieved, for it is nothing less than a conspiracy, in which the Committee on the Conduct of the War, with generals Doubleday and Sickles, are the agents. Grant is to be in Washington tonight, and as he is to be commander in chief and responsible for the doings of the Army of the Potomac, he may desire to have his own man in command, particularly as I understand he is indoctrinated with the notion of the superiority of the Western armies, and that the failure of the Army of the Potomac to accomplish anything is due to their commanders.

Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, USA


---John Beauchamp Jones, a clerk in the Confederate War Department, writes in his journal about the near-starvation conditions in Richmond:

MARCH 9TH.—A frosty morning, with dense fog; subsequently a pretty day.

This is the famine month. Prices of every commodity in the market—up, up, up. Bacon, $10 to $15 per pound; meal, $50 per bushel. But the market-houses are deserted, the meat stalls all closed, only here and there a cart, offering turnips, cabbages, parsnips, carrots, etc., at outrageous prices. However, the superabundant paper money is beginning to flow into the Treasury, and that reflex of the financial tide may produce salutary results a few weeks hence.

---Near Suffolk, Virginia, the 2nd Virginia Infantry Regiment (U.S., Colored), runs into a fight with a force of Rebels.  As a result, the Rebels lose about 25 men, and the black Union troops lose about 20.

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