Friday, May 2, 2014

April 25, 1864

April 25, 1864

---Gen. Sherman is anxious about his missing two divisions, still with Banks in the Red River Valley, and corresponds with Gen. Halleck and Gen. Grant about the problem.  Washington is getting reports that Banks’ army panicked and retreated in disorder after the Battle of Pleasant Hill, and so an argument is made to leave A.J. Smith and the two divisions to protect the rest of Banks’ army.  Admiral Porter argues that if Smith is withdrawn, Banks would retreat still further, as they have fallen back all the way to Alexandria.  Grant is inclined to leave Smith there for the meantime, although he plans to sideline Banks in New Orleans as soon as possible.  As General-in-Chief, he issues orders to terminate the campaign. 

---Battle of Mark’s Mill, Arkansas:  Gen. Frederick Steele’s Federal Army of Arkansas, having fought a running battle throughout its march through the southern part of the state, finds itself in Camden, but unable to move forward.  It is supplied by wagon trains by a long route from Pine Bluff.  Gen. Kirby-Smith of the CSA orders his cavalry under Fagan and Jo Shelby to play havoc with the Yankee supply lines.  On this date, near Mark’s Mill, James Fagan, with 5,000 men in two small divisions of Rebel cavalry, attacks a column of wagons escorted by a brigade of Federal troops under Lt. Col. Francis Drake, and delivers them a stunning defeat.  Although the Federals fought hard, they were attacked from several sides by a superior force.  For the forces engaged, and the brief duration of the fight, the fight was a bloody one:  over 500 Federals were killed or wounded, and over 1,300 captured.  Gen. Fagan adds, that he also captured “their entire train of 300 wagons, a large number of ambulances, very many small-arms, and 150 negroes.”  Gen. Steele decides that, given the complete loss of his supply train, that remaining in Camden is untenable.

---Stephen Minot Weld, a Union officer, writes in his journal about his regiment’s arrival in Washington, D.C. and their chance to march before the review of President Lincoln:

Monday, April 25. — We started about 7 A.M. and forded the stream at Bladensburg. Marched on to Camp Barry [near Washington], where we halted some time. Here we formed in platoons and marched in review by the President, who was on the balcony at Willard’s Hotel. He looked ten years older than when I saw him last. Saw Frank Balch. Crossed Long Bridge and camped in front of Fort Scott. Men marched well. Day pleasant though hot. Made about 16 miles.


---David L. Lane, a soldier in the 17th Michigan Infantry Regiment, writes in his journal about the preparations for the upcoming campaign, with Burnside’s IX Corps, to go with the Army of the Potomac:

Our brigade was in the rear the second day, and I had an opportunity to see for myself. Before the second day had passed many had thrown away everything, not even keeping a change of shirts. I saw several poor fellows apparently in the agonies of death from sunstroke.

These first marches, after a long rest, are nearly as fatal as a hard-fought battle. In passing through Washington we were reviewed by the President and General Burnside.

This looks like a saving of time. Our ambulances are now filing past and going into camp. Our artillery is ready and awaiting us. Also a supply train. The Ninth Corps will soon be in working order, and, of course, at work. I would not have it otherwise. Where we are to work is not apparent. It matters little to old solders where.

The impending struggle is close upon us. It will, doubtless, be fierce and terrible. Let us hope it will be short and decisive.

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