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.”

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