April 4, 1864
---On this date, Pres. Lincoln puts the finishing touches on a document that records his recent interview with A.G. Hodges, Senator Dixon of Kentucky, and Gov. Bramlette of Kentucky:
I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think, and feel, and yet I have never understood that the Presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling. . . . I have done no official act in mere deference to my abstract judgment and feeling on slavery. . . . I felt that measures, otherwise unconstitutional, might become lawful, by becoming indispensible to the preservation of the constitution, through the preservation of the nation. Right or wrong, I assumed this ground, and now avow it. . . . I made earnest, and successive appeals to the border states to favor compensated emancipation, . . . They declined the proposition; and I was, in my best judgment, driven to the alternative of either surrendering the Union, and with it, the Constitution, or of laying strong hand upon the colored element. I chose the latter. In choosing it, I hoped for greater gain than loss, but of this I was not entirely confident. More than a year of trial now shows no loss by it in our foreign relations, none in our home popular sentiment, none in our white military force, no loss by it any how, or anywhere. On the contrary, it shows a gain of quite one hundred and thirty thousand soldiers, seamen, and laborers. These are palpable facts, about which, as facts, there can be no caviling. We have the men; and we could not have had them without the measure. . . . I add a word which was not in the verbal conversation. In telling this tale I attempt no compliment to my own sagacity. I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me.
Later in the evening, he and Mrs. Lincoln attend a performance of "Der Freischütz" at Grover’s Theatre.
---Battle of Elkins Ferry, Arkansas, Day 2: Having been attacked by Gen. John Marmaduke’s Southern cavalry the day before, the Federal brigades nearest the Little Missouri River crossing at Elkin’s Ferry begin to cross at the ford to defend the crossing. Col. McLean’s brigade is near the ford, and a couple of battalions under Lt. Col. Drake are posted guard the road to the ford. As the Rebels advance, Drake’s troops, assisted by a 2-gun section of artillery, resist with deadly effect, and finally discover that they have been holding off 2,000 Rebels. When Col. McLean is able to obtain reinforcements, he sends them to Drake’s position, and they drive the Confederates back. Prominent in the fighting are the 29th and 36th Iowa, and the 43rd Indiana. Casualties are light: the Federals have only 30 wounded, and the Confederates suffer 18 killed and 50 wounded. Union victory.
|Union Infantryman, by Winslow Homer|
---Washington, DC: The U.S. House of Representatives passes a resolution that the United States will never allow a monarchy in Mexico, in reference to the 25,000 French troops that are in Mexico to do just that---to install Archduke Maximilian of Austria as Emporer of Mexico on April 10.
---The USS Scioto, a Federal gunboat on blockade duty off Galveston, Texas, gives chase and captures the Mary Sorley, a Confederate blockade runner, dashing out of the port.
---George Michael Neese, of the Confederate artillery, writes in his journal of his return home to the Shenandoah Valley on a furlough:
April 4 — Left camp this morning on a fifteen-day furlough, the first thing of the kind I have had since the war commenced. There is a charming euphony and sweet music in the words, “Going home,” such as those who never soldiered nor roamed ever yet have heard.
I took the train at Gordonsville. It was raining very hard then, and before the train reached the Blue Ridge the rain had changed to snow, and here at Staunton gentle spring is reveling under a mantle of snow four inches thick. When we were coming up the eastern side of the Blue Ridge it was snowing very fast, and the snow scene was beautiful and grand; every evergreen bush and shrub and the branches of the trees were gracefully bending and drooping under a burden of beautiful snow, and in a thousand places on the mountain side the shiny green leaves of mountain laurel peeped out from under the glittering crystal shroud that was spread and hung over the mountain’s rocky, irregular, and slopy breast. . . .
The train arrived in Staunton this evening at six o’clock, and we furloughed men, of whom there are five, put up for lodging at the Virginia Hotel; we all slept in one room and our lodging cost us five dollars each. A meal here costs five dollars, and I will have to browse in order to satisfy the longings of the inner man or else I will not have enough Confed. to get me back to my command; five dollars for a nap and five dollars for a meal will soon, all too soon, clean up the contents of my pocketbook and ruin my credit.