Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April 24, 1864

April 24, 1864

---In Tennessee, due to the departure of Gen. Longstreet’s troops back to Virginia, Gen. John Schofield’s Army of the Ohio, 13,000 strong, is available; Schofield is directed to move his troops to Chattanooga and form on Thomas’s left flank.

---In a letter home to Mrs. Meade, Gen. Meade offers another description of the new General-in-Chief, Ulysses S. Grant:

Grant is not a striking man, is very reticent, has never mixed with the world, and has but little manner, indeed is somewhat ill at ease in the presence of strangers; His early education was undoubtedly very slight; in fact, I fancy his West Point course was pretty much all the education he ever had, as since his graduation I don’t believe he has read or studied any. At the same time, he has natural qualities of a high order, and is a man whom, the more you see and know him, the better you like him. He puts me in mind of old Taylor, and sometimes I fancy he models himself on old Zac.

April 23, 1864

April 23, 1864

---Battle of Cane River Crossing, Louisiana: In a sharp action on Gen. Banks’ retreat, at a crossing at the Cane River, Gen. Hamilton Bee, CSA, has a division of cavalry in a strong position on the bluffs across the river at Monett’s Ferry, with their position covered by 16 cannon. (1) Banks’ lead troops are a corps of infantry (Franklin’s) under Gen. William Emory; Emory sends his cavalry across the river to drive in the Confederate pickets. But they cannot get any closer, so Banks orders up reinforcements from Smith, but Smith reports that Rebel cavalry are attacking his rear. Emory sends his cavalry to the left to make a demonstration, and send Gen. Henry Birge and three divisions to the right---who find a crossing farther upstream from Monett’s Ferry, crosses, and makes his way towards the Rebel left flank. But Birge encounters rough terrain, sloughs, bayous, and sharp ridges. Emory sends his artillery forward to engage the Rebel position, waiting for Birge to move into position. When Birge finally strikes the Rebel flank, the Federals struggle to make headway. Emory moves artillery forward, with heavy skirmish lines to the hammer the Confederate center. The Rebels launch a counterattack, which fails. Birge attacks again, and finally carries the bluffs the Rebels have been defending. Monett’s Ferry is open, and the Federals are able to cross.

Cane River Crossing - click map to enlarge

April 22, 1864

April 22, 1864

---Red River, Louisiana: Skirmishing throughout the day spells trouble for the retreating Federals in Banks’ Red River expeditionary force, as the army slogs on downriver towards Alexandria. Gen. Banks, the Federal commander, had planned on an orderly retreat from Grand Ecore and Natchitoches, but Gen. Taylor and his Rebels were hot on the pursuit. Banks orders a warehouse of supplies put to the torch, and the fire spreads to the rest of Grand Ecore. Taylor has been relieved of most of his infantry by Gen. Kirby-Smith, who was directing the pursuit of Gen. Steele’s Federals in Arkansas, and so Taylor is pursuing Banks with mostly two understrength division of cavalry. The smoke of the fleeing Yankees leads Taylor to believe he has an opportunity: he might be able to trap the Federals as they try to cross the Cane River crossings---a tall order, considering that Banks had nearly 30,000, and Taylor only had 5,500. With Gen. John Wharton’s cavalry nipped at his rear guard, and Gen. Hamilton Bee’s cavalry harassing his advance, Banks’ strung-out column makes poor time. At Monett’s Ferry on the Cane River, Bee’s Rebels dig in on the bluffs above the crossing.


---Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan, commander of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac, receives orders to ready his command for immediate marching orders.


---The Richmond Daily Dispatch publishes an editorial on the new Yankee Chief, Ulysses S. Grant, and hopefully dismisses him as a negligible commodity:
Gen. Grant.
–Among military men at the North Grant is not regarded as a genius. The new Fremont organ in New York, the New Nation, devotes a considerable space in every issue to a denunciation of the policy which has placed the whole military operations of the Federals in the control of a "second-rate General." One General Cluseret, an old French army officer, now in the Federal service, writes a series of articles to this paper on Grant. He shows that Grant blundered for months over an unnecessary canal, opposite Vicksburg, wasting thousands of lives thereby, and abandoning the project eventually; that the victory at Chattanooga was due to the previous disposition of the Federal troops by General Rosecrans, and that General Buell really commanded at Shiloh. General Cluseret pronounces Rosecrans the only eminent military genius in the Federal army. Just now Rosecrans is on the retired list for his Chickamauga disaster.

---The Richmond Daily Dispatch also publishes an editorial about the Confederate capture of Dr. Mary Walker, the first female licensed physician (and an Army assistant surgeon) in the United States:
–Dr. Mary E Walker, Assistant Surgeon in the Yankee army of Tennessee, captured a few days ago near Tunnel Hill, was received in this city last evening, and was committed to the female department of Castle Thunder. She was dressed in male attire, except a Gipsey hat, and wore a handsome black Talma. As she passed down the streets to the Castle in charge of a detective the odd figure she cut attracted a great crowd of negroes and boys, who beset her path to such a degree as much to obstruct her progress. She was very indignant at having been taken prisoner, protesting that at the time of her capture she was on neutral ground.

In answer to this, Dr. Walker herself writes to the Daily Dispatch herself, correcting their error vis a vis her dress:
Castle Thunder, Richmond, April 21st, 1864.
Editor of Richmond Dispatch:

–Will you please correct the statement you made in this morning’s Dispatch, in regard to my being "dressed in male attire." As such is not the case simple justice demands a correction.

I am attired in what is usually called the "bloomer" or "reform dress, " which is similar to other ladies’, with the exception of its being shorter and more physiological than long dresses.

Yours, etc., etc.,
Mary E. Walker, M. D.,
52d Ohio Vols, U. S. A.

April 21, 1864

April 21, 1864

---Repairs to the USS Eastport succeed, and the ironclad is raised from the riverbed and put afloat once more.


---Longstreet’s troops have moved even closer to Lee’s main body of troops, and marches to Gordonsville, Virginia today, lining up on Lee's left flank. 


---Sergeant Alexander Downing, of the 11th Iowa Infantry, is coming to the end of his furlough home. He has helped his father put in a crop of wheat while at home, and records his thoughts in his journal as he begins to travel back to the front:
Thursday, 21st—This is a warm, pleasant day and I bade farewell to my home folks and friends and started back to the army, my thirty-day furlough being almost up. I went on horseback, brother John going along as far as Allen’s Grove, to Uncle John Moore’s to remain over night, while John returned home, taking back the horse which I rode. Though the spring has been very late, the farmers here have all their small grain in and it is starting fine. The country around Allen’s Grove is very nice farming land; it is rolling, with plenty of timber and close to a good market; it is becoming very thickly settled. Scott county, Iowa.

---The blockade runner Laura, a schooner out of England, is captured off of Velasco, Texas, by the USS Owasco.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April 20, 1864

April 20, 1864

---Battle of Plymouth, N.C.  In conjunction with the sortie of the Albemarle in the Roanoke River, Gen. Robert Hoke, with a division of Confederate troops, moves against the defenses of Plymouth, N.C., and finds the Federal garrison there more than willing to cooperate.  Having driven the bluecoats out of Fort Comfort, the Rebels accept the surrender of Brig. Gen. Henry Wessells and most of the Union garrison, over 2,000 troops, consisting of Pennsylvania and New York detachments, as well as U.S. Colored Troops and North Carolina Unionist battalions.  However, Gen. Wessells reveals in his report that nearly all of the North Carolina troops (many of them being former Confederates) escaped before the surrender by floating downstream in canoes.  A large number of the black troops also escaped, but not all.  Sergeant Samuel Johnson, of the 2nd U.S. Colored Cavalry, writes of his experience: 

When I found out that the city was being surrendered, I pulled off my uniform and found a suit of citizen’s clothes, which I put on, and when captured I was supposed and believed by the rebels to be a citizen. After being captured I was kept at Plymouth for some two weeks and was employed in endeavoring to raise the sunken vessels of the Union fleet.


Upon the capture of Plymouth by the rebel forces all the negroes found in blue uniform, or with any outward marks of a Union soldier upon him, was killed. I saw some taken into the woods and hung. Others I saw stripped of all their clothing and stood upon the bank of the river with their faces riverward and there they were shot. Still others were killed by having their brains beaten out by the butt end of the muskets in the hands of the rebels. All were not killed the day of the capture. Those that were not were placed in a room with their officers, they (the officers) having previously been dragged through the town with ropes around their necks, where they were kept confined until the following morning, when the remainder of the black soldiers were killed.”

However, a later report from Gen. Hoke’s aide indicates that the Confederates did not kill very many of the black prisoners: “The prisoners will number about 2,500, 300 or 400 negroes, 30 pieces of ordnance, complete garrison outfit, 100,000 pounds of meat, 1,000 barrels of flour, and other provisions. [...] Where will the prisoners go? Our loss about 300 in all.”  President Davis directs that the captured negroes all be returned to their owners, and the rest sold. Confederate Victory.

(Source: Civil War Daily Gazette, )

---Leonidas L. Polk, an officer in the 43rd North Carolina Infantry, writes home to his wife upon the occasion of the Confederate victory at Plymouth, N.C., detailing for her the immensely useful plunder gained from the Yankees:

Bivouack 43d. N.C.T.
Near Plymouth, N.C.
April 20th 1864

My dear wife,

Through the mercy of God I am permitted on this the proudest day for our good old State, since the beginning of this War, to write you. After a severe engagement of 2 1/2 days we had the honor & the joy to behold the flag of our enemies lowered to day, which we all hope & believe is the beginning of a better time for N.C. I am seated in an old field, surrounded by men flushed with hope & success & dividing out their captured spoils. I write to you on Yankee paper with a gold pen, & Yankee envelope with Yankee ink, smoking Yankee cigar, full of Yankee sugar coffee &c. with a Yankee sword, navy repeater, & other “fixins” buckled about me. We had an awful time. Got here on Sunday surprised the Yankees commenced on them, Monday night stormed a fort, very formidable, impossible to get into it, but surrounded it & forced it to surrender. Last night stormed the other 2 forts, took one at daylight this morning surrounded the other & forced it to yield at 10 o’clock – took about 2000 prisoners & did not lose in all more than 200 killed & wounded, almost miraculous. To God be all the praise. In our Regt. 5 killed, 13 wounded & 3 missing, all from Anson safe but Wm. Mosely slightly wounded. Twenty thousand Yankees cannot retake the place. Well I did not get anything myself. The boys gave me what I got, except a few things I bought. They have me 3 prs. kid gloves for you slightly damaged. For the children a round comb a piece. I bought a pair of shoes for Lila. Cannot get any for you as yet will try to get some nice things for you. I will send my tricks to you the first chance. We didn’t have time to get much to day. The boys gave me a fine spy glass, a very fine pipe, & the pen with which I write just like the one at home. We got almost anything that can be thought of. If I only had any way to carry the things I could get hundreds of things for you. I intend to do my best. . . . We don’t know where we will go from here will write you as often as possible. Have not had the chance to write before, no mail since we left Kinston. I forgot to tell you that our Gun Boat came down safely, & is a complete success so far. We got any quantity of all & everything.

I would like to go more into detail but have not the time. I will do so as soon as possible. O I would like to see you so much. Kiss my dear babies for me & I know they will be so proud of their nice combs. I tried to get one for [?] but could not. Give her a pair of gloves if she wants them & will do for her. I hear there are thousands of cotton cards in town & I hope we will get some or all of them. Some of our boys got some of them. I am in fine health but can assure you had as hard a time as ever in my life, charged through the worst swamp I ever saw, got wet all over nearly lay still under fire of guns all night & came near freezing but I am now all right & am myself again.

The storming of the Forts was the most awful work I have ever seen done & I tell you it was anything but pleasant, but as I have seen so often before. I tried it again. I was at the head of the Co. in the charge nearly a mile through a level field & swamp & the thickest of the fire. . . . Well my dear Sallie I am stopped by one of my boys to go & drink some good old Rie with him, & he says you must excuse me. May God be your friend & Protector. Write to me at Tarboro. Kiss the children for me your devoted husband.


(Source: Wilson Library Special Collections, U North Carolina, )

---George Michael Neese of Virginia, and artilleryman in the Army of Northern Virginia, nears the end of his furlough, and expresses regrets at having to return to the field:

April 20 — I wish this cruel war were over, for my furlough is out and I will have to strike out once more for the tented field and be off for the war again. I left home this evening and came to New Market. These beautiful, bright, peaceful spring days of citizen life glided swiftly by like golden bubbles on the stream of time; they glowed and flashed and lo! they are gone.

(Source: Daily Observations from the Civil War:

April 19, 1864

April 19, 1864


---Roanoke River, North Carolina:  Having been constructed at a makeshift shipyard in a cornfield, the CSS Albemarle, a new ironclad ram, is launched, steams down the Roanoke River, and carefully negotiates the obstructions in the river placed by the Yankees.  She is commanded by Capt. James W. Cooke.  The USS Miami and USS Southfield are lashed together to block access to the river, but the Albemarle rams the Southfield, and gets her ram prow stuck in the Southfield’s hull as it sinks. 
The Albemarle breaks free, however, as the Miami fires a shell which bounces off the Albemarle’s armor and lands back on the Miami and explodes, causing damage and casualties---including killing Captain Flusser, the Miami’s skipper.  The USS Miami escapes downriver.  The Albemarle follows, dropping down below Plymouth, cutting off the Union garrison from its line of supply. 
Cutaway model of the CSS Albemarle


The new Rebel ironclad carries two large-bore Brooke Rifles, cannons with good range.  Each gun pivots and can fire in a 180 degree radius, with the choice to fire out of any of three gunports each.

USS Miami

Sunday, April 27, 2014

April 18, 1864

April 18, 1864

---Near Poison Springs, Arkansas, Confederate cavalry attacks a Union wagon train and captures it and 300 Yankee troops.  Steele’s supply line is in increasing jeopardy.
Rebel cavalry out on a raid


---President Abraham Lincoln, visiting the massive Sanitary Fair at Baltimore, is called upon to speak; it is on this occasion that he delivers his famous wolf-sheep analogy to illustrate the principle of positive liberty---some say, the first time this political principle had been given shape in American statecraft:

The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name, liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names—liberty and tyranny.

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act, as the destroyer of liberty, especially as the sheep was a black one. Plainly, the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of the word liberty; and precisely the same difference prevails to-day among us human creatures, even in the North, and all professing to love liberty. Hence we behold the process by which thousands are daily passing from under the yoke of bondage hailed by some as the advance of liberty, and bewailed by others as the destruction of all liberty. Recently, as it seems, the people of Maryland have been doing something to define liberty, and thanks to them that, in what they have done, the wolf’s dictionary has been repudiated.


---24-year-old Major Charles Wright Wills, a young officer in the 103rd Illinois Infantry (Army of the Tennessee), writes home to tell his family of the Union army’s preparations for the Spring campaign---and of his birthday celebrations, which includes wooing a young Alabama girl and planning to go shooting with her father and friends:

All making ready for the Spring campaign, which every one prophesies will be the bloodiest one of the war. Johnston is undoubtedly collecting all the Rebel troops in the West, on the Georgia Central R. R. and will have a large force. But ours will be perfectly enormous. Not one of our regiments but is stronger to-day than a year ago, and many divisions number from one-third to three-quarters more than then. Our division when we marched through from Memphis last fall was hardly 4,500 (for duty) strong. Now ’tis 7,000, and growing every day. We have no doubt of our ability to whip Johnston most completely, but if he can raise 70,000 men, and we think he can, of course somebody will stand a remarkably good chance for being hurt in the proceedings. . . . Twenty-four years old yesterday, and three years in the service. Celebrated the day by calling on a good looking “mountain ewe,” and dining therewith. Made arrangements to have a deer and turkey hunt with her papa and some of his friends, Colonel Cobb, (formerly of United States Congress) among others. To give you an idea of the Southern love for titles, I’ll name part of the citizens who help to form our party next Wednesday. Colonel Cobb, Colonel Provinse, Colonel Young, and Majors Hall and Hust. Every man who owns as many as two negroes is at least a colonel. None of them rank as low as captains.

---Captain Augustus C. Brown, commander of Co. H of the 4th New York Heavy Artillery, makes a visit to a civilian home near his regiment’s camp in Virginia in order to obtain a “pie”---something better than what army food did for him.  He describes in high satiric humor the graces of the local ladies:

The older woman is sharp featured, rather large, dark-haired and wears high-heeled shoes, and as she sits in the cradle while rocking it, she frequently addresses the dirty little occupant as “little lady,” from which fact I gather that the infant also belongs to the female persuasion. . . . the old lady said that when her husband died some years ago he left her “Wal, sar, I couldn’t say, sar, how much land, but it goes down to the run (all streams are called “runs” here), then over thar and thar and thar,” etc., indicating not less than a thousand acres. That she had three sons “on the line” (i. e., in the Reb army), and that her granddaughter there present lost her husband at “Anti-eat-urn.” That she was “born and raised right thar, and was never further north than Warrenton” (eight or ten miles). That “Virginians used to think the north a splendid country, but didn’t think so much of it now.” That “thar used to be lots o’ niggers about here (there isn’t one now); they’s the cause of the war and I wish thar wasn’t one on earth, and a good many Virginians wish so, too.” She thought it wicked to make soldiers of the negroes, but that colonization was just the thing. She believed heartily in the Southern Confederacy, and would not take the Yankee oath of allegiance for “a million o’ dollars.” She was willing to take both greenbacks and Confederate scrip at par for her pies, and rejoiced that she had been able to save six chickens and five guinea hens from the ravages of war. She pointed out a house where a Yankee shell had killed two Rebs and wounded four or five others, and told us that a Yankee Captain was killed right by the spring from which we got all our water, and that a Reb was killed just where our camp is located, and wound up by showing us some houses two or three miles away where she said some very pretty “Secesh” girls resided, and I couldn’t but hope that their surroundings were more attractive than those of this old woman and her grand-daughter. No northern family, however poor, could live amid such surroundings, and yet these people speak with loftiest contempt of the “dirty niggers” and the “mean whites,” and anathematize the uncivilized “Yanks,” not excepting their present company, just as if the commissariat of those same “Yanks” was not all that stands between them and starvation. My cravings for “polite society” having been fully satisfied I withdrew, not, however, until I had secured a fair specimen of a “secesh” pie for which I paid the moderate price of forty cents in greenbacks, but which I soon discovered, by analytical mastication, was apparently composed of saw-dust and cider “bound in calf.”

April 17, 1864

April 17, 1864

---Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, as General-in-Chief, issues orders that all prisoner exchanges will stop, so as to starve the South of its meager manpower.


---Civil unrest springs up in cities of the South, due to food shortages.  In Savannah, Georgia, a mob of women, armed and angry, rioted in the streets, taking bread and any foodstuffs from wherever they could find it.  Only after troops came did the crowd disperse.


---The schooner Lily, from England, is captured as a blockade runner by the Federal gunboat USS Owasco, offshore near Velasco, Texas.


---Confederate troops under George Pickett (Hoke’s division) attack Fort Gray, near Plymouth, North Carolina, garrisoned by a detachment of the 85th New York Infantry.  The attack is called off after several assaults are repulsed.

April 16, 1864

April 16, 1864

---In spite of Sherman’s orders that A.J. Smith and his divisions leave Louisiana immediately and return to Chattanooga, Gen. Banks forbids the move, insisting to Smith that it is “impossible for me to dispense with your services.”


---George Templeton Strong, in New York City, writes in his journal about the state of the market and of the nation:

Gold keeps at about 170 and exchange was bought today at 200!  Insolvency is imminent.  Congress is inefficient.  The country seems drifting to leeward.  I dread the newspaper attacks and queries and criticism to which the Sanitary Commission is about to be exposed on its receipt of the proceeds of this fair, and I have my doubts and difficulties about this question of our establishing sanitaria.  Everything looks black and life is a failure today. . . .

April 15, 1864

April 15, 1864


---Gen. Steele, with his Yankee forces now safely in fortified Camden, Arkansas, is not cheered by Sherman’s repeated order that Steele should venture forth into Louisiana to take Shreveport.  But Steele answers in his own message, pointing out Marmaduke’s cavalry division that he has been sparring with, plus another cavalry division moving in from the west.  Had he known it, he could have named yet another 3 divisions of infantry headed his way from Shreveport under Kirby-Smith. 


Sherman decides, in spite of the unfinished business in the Red River Expedition, not to delay any longer, and he summarily orders Smith to leave Louisiana and go to Chattanooga.  However, Banks countermands that order, insisting that he cannot do without Smith’s divisions.


---Banks’ troops and the accompanying fleet arrive in Grand Ecore, Louisiana, closely pursued by the Confederate army.  They resume the retreat the next day toward Alexandria. 


---The USS Eastport, the heftiest ironclad in Porter’s Red River flotilla, strikes a river torpedo and sinks.  Operations begin immediately to raise the vessel. 

April 14, 1864

April 14, 1864

---As Banks and his army fall back, Admiral David Dixon Porter, in command of the huge river flotilla on the Red River, also has to back and turn his behemoth expedition around, heading back to Grand Ecore.  Needless to say, the Rebels are intent on cutting off the exposed Federal fleet.  After being attack by Gen. Tom Green’s cavalry (and in which fight Green is killed), Porter proceeds with guns run out and loaded.  The river is running low, and the transports and gunboats regularly bottom out on sandbars and shoals.  Several brigades of infantry aid Porter in the withdrawal.  In the meanwhile, Gen. Taylor’s Rebels retreat back to Mansfield, and are not pursuing the Yankees, even though Gen. Banks feels that they must be. 


---Gen. Sherman sends a dispatch to Gen. Banks, with orders to the effect that Gen. Steele and his army in Arkansas is to press for Shreveport, Banks is to wheel about and move on Mobile, Alabama, and that A.J. Smith and his divisions are to be returned to Sherman immediately,  Sherman issues these orders ignorant of the fact of Banks’ retreat, and of Steele’s aborted march from Little Rock.

Monday, April 14, 2014

April 13, 1864

April 13, 1864

---Sergeant Alexander G. Downing, of the 11th Iowa Infantry Regiment, is at home on furlough, helping his father put in the crops:

Wednesday, 13th—It is cloudy and very cool. I helped father put in his wheat today, harrowing all forenoon and drilling in wheat in the afternoon. James Kelley, a soldier of the neighborhood, home on a furlough, came over to help me out for a few days.


---A ghastly report from the newspaper Missouri Democrat details atrocities all too common in the internecine warfare typical for Missouri at this point in the war:

Last night the notorious bushwhacking gang of Shumate and Clark went to the house of an industrious, hard-working German farmer, named Kuntz, who lives some twenty-five to thirty miles from the mouth of Osage River, in Missouri, and demanded his money. He stoutly denied having any cash; but the fiends, not believing him, or perhaps knowing that he did have some money, deliberately took down a wood-saw which was hanging up in the cabin, and cut his left leg three times below and four times above the knee, with the saw. Loss of blood, pain, and agony made the poor fellow insensible, and he was unable to tell where the money was concealed. His mangled body was found to-day, life extinct. A boy who lived with him, succeeded in making his escape, terror-stricken, to give the alarm. After leaving Kuntz’s, the gang went to an adjoining American farmer, and not succeeding in their demands for money, they destroyed every thing in and about the place, took the man out, and literally cut his head off.—Missouri Democrat.


---Blockade runners captured:  The Mandoline, off the coast of Florida, is captures by the USS Nyanza; the Rebel sloop Rosina is captured off the Texas coast today by the USS Virginia; and the British-owned Maria Alfred, is captured at sea by the USS Rachel Seaman.


---Lt. Gen. James Longstreet and his troops, released from duty in East Tennessee, have arrived in the vicinity of Charlottesville, Virginia, and preparing to join with Lee in the coming spring campaign.

April 12, 1864

April 12, 1864

---Battle of Fort Pillow, Tennessee:  In what should have been an unremarkable minor action, Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, on his raid through Kentucky and West Tennessee, strikes at Fort Pillow, a fortification on the Mississippi River just north (upstream) from Memphis.  The fort is garrisoned with white and black Tennessee Unionists, totaling 557 men.  Major Booth commands the two battalions in the fort, and as he is soon killed, Major W.F. Bradford takes over.  As Forrest places his men from Chambers’ division in positions of advantage, the guns of the fort and gunboats on the river send a heavy barrage of shell and shot toward the Rebel lines.  Forrest sends an ultimatum of surrender, but Booth refuses.  Forrest opens his attack, and the fort is taken in fairly short order, and the garrison surrenders.  After the surrender, apparently, the Confederate cavalrymen begin an unrestrained slaughter of the surrendered troops, both white and black, although the emphasis is plainly on the black troops.

Fort Pillow, Tennessee

Sergeant Achilles Clark, of the 20th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, gives his own account of what happened:
Illustration from Harper's Weekly

 The slaughter was awful – words cannot describe the scene. The poor deluded negroes would run up to our men, fall upon their knees and with uplifted hands scream for mercy but they were ordered to their feet and then shot down. The white men fared but little better. Their fort turned out to be a great slaughter pen – blood, human blood, stood about in pools and brains could have been gathered up in any quantity. I with several others tried to stop the butchery and at one time had partially succeeded but Gen. Forrest ordered them shot like dogs and the carnage continued. Finally our men became sick of blood and the firing ceased.
Illustration from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Weekly

The numbers indicate the disparity: Federal losses are 231 killed outright, 100 wounded, and only 168 whites and 58 blacks were “captured.” Of the white troops, 31% are killed; of the blacks, 64% are killed.  An unknown number of civilians, some of them families of the garrison troops, are also massacred.  For the Rebels, only 14 are killed, and up to 86 wounded.


Gen. Forrest himself writes about this soon afterwards:

The victory was complete, and the loss of the enemy will never be known from the fact that large numbers ran into the river and were shot and drowned. The force was composed of about 500 negroes and 200 white soldiers (Tennessee Tories). The river was dyed with the blood of the slaughtered for 200 yards. There was in the fort a large number of citizens who had fled there to escape the conscript law. Most of these ran into the river and were drowned.

The approximate loss was upward of 500 killed, but few of the officers escaping.

It is hoped that these facts will demonstrate to the northern people that negro soldiers cannot cope with Southerners. We still hold the fort.

Gen. Forrest

On April 13, a Union naval officer appears on the ground as the Confederates are withdrawing, and takes a great number of wounded on board ship.  The officer’s examination of the ground confirmed the reports that most of the Federals were slaughtered after surrender.


---The steamer Alliance, of English registration, is captured in the delta of the Savannah River today, loaded with military stores for the Confederacy.


---About 85 miles east of Denver, the 1st Colorado Cavalry regiment has a spirited skirmish with a band of Cheyenne, on the north bank of the Platte River.

Friday, April 11, 2014

April 11, 1864

April 11, 1864

---Mary Boykin Chestnut writes in her diary:

Mrs. Ould gave me a luncheon on Saturday. I felt that this was my last sad farewell to Richmond and the people there I love so well. Mrs. Davis sent her carriage for me, and we went to the Oulds’ together. Such good things were served—oranges, guava jelly, etc. The Examiner says Mr. Ould, when he goes to Fortress Monroe, replenishes his larder; why not? . . .

My husband is now brigadier-general and is sent to South Carolina to organize and take command of the reserve troops. C. C. Clay and L. Q. C. Lamar are both spoken of to fill the vacancy made among Mr. Davis's aides by this promotion.

 To-day, Captain Smith Lee spent the morning here and gave a review of past Washington gossip. I am having such a busy, happy life, with so many friends, and my friends are so clever, so charming. But the change to that weary, dreary Camden! Mary Preston said: "I do think Mrs. Chesnut deserves to be canonized; she agrees to go back to Camden." The Prestons gave me a farewell dinner; my twenty-fourth wedding day, and the very pleasantest day I have spent in Richmond.


---Jenkin Lloyd Jones, Federal artilleryman, writes in his journal of a tragic episode in camp:

Huntsville, Monday, April 11. Spent the day in the usual way. Two hours’ gun drill in the morning, then game of ball; an hour company drill in the afternoon; a game or two of chess, then parade 4 P. M.; reading, writing, the remainder of the time till retreat at 8 P. M. when I made down my cot. In the quiet of alone I lay down, a few yearning thoughts of home, mother, etc. and all is oblivion till reveille calls me forth from the land of nod. A little after noon we were startled by a terrible explosion near the depot. A caisson of the Illinois Battery had exploded while returning from drill, killing six cannoneers instantly and wounding two. A very sad affair. Bodies torn to shreds.

Jenkin Lloyd Jones

---The Mobile News prints this editorial reproving loose moral conduct between the women of Mobile and the army officers:

—We can hope no good results from trivial and light conduct on the part of our women. Instead of adorning their persons for seductive purposes, and tempting our officers to a course alike disgraceful and unworthy of women, whose husbands and brothers are in our armies, they had better exhort them to well-doing, than act as instruments of destruction to both parties. The demoralization among our women is becoming fearful. Before the war, no woman dared to demean herself lightly; but now a refined and pure woman can scarcely travel without seeing some of our officers with fine-looking ladies as companions. You are forced to sit at the tables with them; you meet them wherever you go. Is it that we, too, are as wild as our enemies, scoffing at God and at all rules of social morality? For heaven’s sake, let us frown down this growing evil, unless all mothers and fathers would have their daughters grow up in a pestilential atmosphere, which but to breathe is death.


April 10, 1864

April 10, 1864

---Gen. Steele’s Federal column from Arkansas, on their way to join Banks, decides to turn and return to Little Rock, harassed by Rebel attacks along the way.


---Kate Cumming, a Confederate Army nurse at Dalton, Georgia, records the activities in the Rebel camp in the emerging springtime:

Sunday, April 10.—A real April day, cloud and sunshine. This morning Dr. A. preached a very interesting sermon. His text was, “Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you.” I think it is a pity that he is not a chaplain instead of a surgeon. I told him so, but he says his health will not permit it.

There is a religious revival here in which the citizens take very little interest, but the soldiers a great deal.

Dr. McFerrin, a Methodist preacher, is holding it. He is a chaplain, and his very soul seems to be in the work. He is one of the most earnest preachers I ever heard.

The people are very gay. Nearly every night a party is given. The gentlemen who attend them are the attachees of the hospital and the officers of the post.

April 9, 1864

April 9, 1864

---Battle of Pleasant Hill, Louisiana:  Taylor’s Confederates pursue the retreating Federals south until reaching the village of Pleasant Hill.  Taylor has been reinforced by two small divisions under Gen. Thomas Churchill.  The division of Mouton (who was killed the previous day) is put under the command of Brig. Gen. Camille J. Polignac.  At this point, Gen. Banks arrives, with A.J. Smith’s divisions, and forms a line.  Neither army does much during the day.  Finally, at about 5:00 PM, Polignac moves against the Federal right; Churchill and Walker go forward, and strike the Federal line near the center, but the Federal left is hidden from their view due to the heavy woods.  The Rebels do not realize they have been flanked by virtue of their own advance until the right end of their line passes the 58th Illinois Regiment, lined up perpendicularly to the Rebel advance.  The Illinois men strike at the Rebel flank, and then the rest of Smith’s line surges forward, and drives the Yankees back, as the fighting goes on in the dark.  Smith sent a brigade in pursuit, but late at night Banks gives orders for the entire army to withdraw back to Grand Ecore.  Smith is incredulous.  The Rebels for their part, are demoralized and in full rout.  A Union tactical victory, but a Confederate strategic victory, since Banks chooses to retreat in the face of victory.  Banks offers reasons for his retreat: the supply train has been sent south at the beginning of the battle, and has gone too far to be brought back soon enough for the Yankees, who are out of food and out of water.

Losses:          Killed    Wounded    Captured/Missing        Total

U.S.                  150               844                             375                         1,369

C.S.                         1,200                                        426                         1,626

---The CSS Squib, a David-style torpedo boat, attempts an attack on the USS Minnesota, just off Newport News, Virginia.  It explodes a torpedo against the Minnesota’s hull, but the U.S. ship survives, and the Squib escapes.


---Charles Wright Wills, a young officer in Thomas’s Army of the Cumberland, writes in his journal about his regiment re-enlisting, and how disciplinarians are voted out of the officer ranks---and of a Rebel woman who lives off of Federal rations:

The day of jubilee has come at this post; that is, we have, once more, something fit to eat. This is the first day since we’ve been here that our commissary has furnished us with aught but regular rations. We can wish for nothing now, except “marching orders.” My men are in splendid condition. Everyone of them in A1 health and spirits. All the veterans of the division are back, except the three regiments of our brigade. The 55th Illinois has at last concluded to veteran. Two hundred of them will be at home shortly. They held a new election, left Malmsberg and Chandler out in the cold, and I understand, a goodly number of their best officers besides. Men who have not been under good disciplinarians, will almost invariably, if an election is allowed, choose good fellows for officers. That is, men who allow everything to go at loose ends, who have no business whatever with commissions. Captain Milt. Hainey and Captain Augustine, I understand, are to be colonel and lieutenant colonel of the 55th. They are said to be good men and officers, and exceptions to the above, but my experience is such exceptions are rare, and I’d rather time would prove them than man’s words. I believe my company would veteran, almost unanimously, to-day. I am still on court-martial duty, and having a very easy time. We seldom sit over two hours, and never more than four hours a day. . . . I met a woman to-day who prides herself on belonging to one of the first families of Virginia and boasts that her grandsire’s plantation and George Washington’s almost joined, and showed me a negro woman 110 years old, that formerly waited upon George Washington. She claims to be chivalry, par excellence. Her husband is in the Rebel Army. She lives off of the United States Commissary Department, and begs her chewing tobacco of United States soldiers. She’s a Rebel, and talks it with her mouth full of Uncle Sam’s bread and bacon.