October 25, 1864: Sherman on black troops.

27th regiment USCT

Sherman writes to the secretary of war about black troops. If black men fight, they’ll insist on equality. Sherman doesn’t think they’re ready for it. He also thinks that white men should all be fighting for their country, and then there would be no necessity for black troops. But if the government is set on enlisting black men, Sherman will arm the ones that come into his lines.

Official Records 79:428

In the Field, Gaylesville, Ala., October 25, 1864.
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.:

SIR: I do not wish to be considered as in any way adverse to the organization of negro regiments, further than as to its effects on the white race. I do wish the fine race of men that people our Northern States should rule and determine the future destiny of America; but if they prefer trade and gain, and leave to bought substitutes and negroes the fighting (the actual conflict), of course the question is settled, for those who hold the swords and muskets at the end of this war (which has but fairly begun) will have something to say. If negroes are to fight, they, too, will not be content with sliding back into the status of slave or free negro. I much prefer to keep negroes yet for some time to come in a subordinate state, for our prejudices, yours as well as mine, are not yet schooled for absolute equality.

Jeff. Davis has succeeded perfectly in inspiring his people with the truth that liberty and government are worth fighting for, that pay and pensions are silly nothings compared to the prize fought for. Now, I would aim to inspire our people also with the same idea -that it is not right to pay $1,000 to some fellow, who will run away, to do his fighting, or to some poor negro, who is thinking of the day of jubilee, but that every young and middle-aged man should be proud of the chance to fight for the stability of his country, without profit and without price; and I would like to see all trade, commerce, and manufactures absolutely cease until this fight is over, and I have no hesitation or concealment in saying that there is not, and should not be, the remotest chance of peace again on this continent till all this is realized, save the peace which would result from the base and cowardly submital to Jeff. Davis’ terms.

I would use negroes as surplus, but not spare a single white man, no one. Any white man who don’t or won’t fight now should be killed, banished, or denationalized, and then we would discriminate among the noisy patriots and see who really should vote. If the negroes fight and the whites don’t, of course the negroes will govern. They won’t ask you or me for the privilege, but will simply take it, and probably reserve the relation hitherto existing, and they would do right. If, however, the Government has determined to push the policy to the end, it is both my duty and pleasure to assist, and in that event I should like to have Colonel Bowman, now commanding the District of Wilmington, Del., to organize and equip such as may fall into the custody of the army I command.

Major-General, Commanding.

Posted in Edwin M. Stanton, U.S. Colored Troops, William Tecumseh Sherman | Leave a comment

October 24, 1864: Hitchcock says states’ rights are bunk

Maj. Gen. E. A. Hitchcock

General Hitchcock writes to the Times to refute Alexander Stephens’ claims about states’ rights. The constitution, he argues, was framed as an antidote to the problems caused by the excessive rights granted to states under the Articles of Confederation. And he concludes by pointing out that the Democrats are working for disunion, and should be voted down.

To the Editor of the New-York Times:

I noticed a statement in the recently published letter of Mr. STEPHENS, which needs contradiction; and yet I meet with no contradiction of it in the various comments upon that letter which have fallen under my eye, although the statement touches a point of vital character in the history of our country.

Mr. STEPHENS, as the Vice-President of the so-called Confederate States of the South, may feel bound to assert what he does in his letter, on the point to which I refer; but how he can protect himself from the accusation of having made a willful misstatement — except on the plea of downright ignorance — it is difficult to perceive; and ignorance, in his position, is not be supposed on the point referred to.

Mr. STEPHENS, in defence of the State Rights doctrine, so-called, asserts not only the original independence of the States, as a doctrine recognized in the Confederation under which the independence of the country was achieved, as established in the treaty of 1783, but he asserts, in addition, that the same doctrine was recognized in the formation of the present Constitution of the United States.

It is with regard to this latter assertion that the statement of Mr. STEPHENS needs correction. This is an old question, as I am well aware, and nothing new can be said about it; but something true can be asserted of it, in direct contradiction of the statement of Mr. STEPHENS.

In the first place, the original Colonies were in no sense free as independent States under the English Government; but when they threw off their dependence upon England, and the Confederation was formed, the original Colonies may be said to have asserted some of the elements of what is now claimed as the State Rights doctrine, though by no means to the extent subsequently claimed. But now comes the important consideration, that the present Constitution of the United States grew out of the fact, practically demonstrated, that in the Confederation the Colonies had set forth certain prerogatives or privileges, the exercise of which tended directly to the destruction of the Confederation. It was precisely because the Confederate system implied, or was based upon, if you please, too much State independence, that the whole country became aware of the necessity of establishing a constitutional Government, the direct effect of which was to correct the evils inherent in the confederate system; and, perhaps, no man in the United States is better acquainted with this fact than Mr. STEPHENS himself, though, situated as he now is, he finds it expedient to deny it.

There ought to be nothing better known in our country than the facts and the principles they involve, just set forth in the brief statement above. If any proof were wanted to show the wisdom of our fathers in repudiating the Confederate system, it may be seen in the monstrous fruits now exhibited in this country in the war of the rebellion, which is professedly based on what is called a State Rights doctrine — the right of secession — by which the people of one or more States, having solemnly entered into a compact, contract, agreement, or whatever it may be called, claim the right, on their own motion, to abrogate their own deliberately-assumed obligation.

The absurdity of this claim, most assuredly was never more clearly made visible than in the inaugural address of our Chief Magistrate, who, in view of the State Rights doctrine, asks the pertinent question, which answers itself: How can a Union be formed upon disunion principles? It remains for the present generation to give to posterity the final proof that our fathers were indeed wise in substituting a National Union in place of that rope of sand, a confederate system, which the southern portion of the country is disposed to reestablish, but which, if it could be done, would necessarily destroy the Republic, by plunging it into anarchy and endless civil war.

As between the two parties in the North, one of which is practically working for the South, and the other for the maintenance of the Union, I desire to take this opportunity of expressing the most earnest hope I am capable of forming, that the people of the country will adhere to the present Chief Magistrate, as the representative of all the good to be looked for in a government of this country. Very respectfully, your obedient servant.

[Major-General] E.A. HITCHCOCK.

Posted in E. A. Hitchcock | Leave a comment

October 23, 1864: Good job, Slocum

Gen. Henry W. Slocum
General Slocum


Sherman is formulating a justification for his planned march already; if the rebels break his supply line, he’ll just have to forage on the countryside. Slocum is doing a fine job of it in preparation.

Official Records 79:406

In the Field, Gaylesville, Ala., October 23, 1864.
General SLOCUM, Atlanta, Ga.:

Your dispatch of the 20th received. Am delighted at your success in foraging. Go on, pile up the forage, corn, and potatoes, and keep your artillery horses fat. Send back all unserviceable artillery, and at the last moment we can count up horses and see what we can haul, and send back all else. One gun per thousand men will be plenty to take along. Hood is doubtless now at Blue Mountain, and Forrest over about Corinth and Tuscumbia, hoping by threatening Tennessee to make me quit Georgia. We are piling up men in Tennessee, enough to attend to them and leave me free to go ahead. The railroad will be done in a day or two. We find abundance of corn and potatoes out here, and enjoy them much. They cost nothing a bushel. If Georgia can afford to break our railroads, she can afford to feel us. Please preach this doctrine to men who go forth, and are likely to spread it. All well.

Major-General, Commanding.

Posted in He, Henry W. Slocum, William Tecumseh Sherman | Leave a comment

October 22, 1864: Sherman’s supplies

Sherman in Atlanta, 1864

The rebels are sending significant forces after Sherman’s communications, to besiege him in Atlanta. Meanwhile, supplies are accumulating in Chattanooga, and Sherman is preparing to stock up and cast loose.

Official Records 79:401.

WASHINGTON, October 22, 1864 – 4 p. m.
Major-General THOMAS:

Dispatches from Memphis, dated the 20th, state that Forrest, Lee, and other rebel generals, with a large force, are moving toward Tuscumbia, with the supposed intention of operating on Sherman’s communications. Sherman will find abundant supplies at the place indicated by General Grant.

Major-General and Chief of Staff.
(Copy to General Sherman.)


NASHVILLE, TENN., October 22, 1864 – 10 p. m.
(Received 1 a. m. 23d.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
Chief of Staff:

Your dispatch of 4 p. m. to-day is received. Have ordered out scouts to ascertain the truth of the report from Memphis. Have not heard from General Sherman since my last dispatch. The railroad will be completed by the 26th instant. In the mean time supplies are being forwarded by Chattanooga, ready to throw in a large supply to Atlanta as soon as the road is open. There are supplies for three months in Chattanooga now.


Posted in Chattanooga, Henry Halleck, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Tennessee, William Tecumseh Sherman | Leave a comment

October 21, 1864: Hood’s political failure

John Bell Hood

The New York Times reports that Hood’s offense was planned to bolster the Northern peace party. It doesn’t seem to be working.

Published: October 21, 1864

– It seems that the present, or rather the late offensive campaign of HOOD was actually undertaken as a means of affording aid and comfort to the peace party of the North. JEFF. DAVIS, himself, confessed so in his speech delivered at Augusta on the 3d inst., just prior to HOOD’s advance. He said: “Wc must beat SHERMAN; we must march into Tennessee; there we will draw from 20,000 to 30,000 to our standard, and so strengthened, we must push the enemy back to the Ohio, and thus give the peace party of the North an accretion no puny editorial can give.” The peace party must greatly grieve over the ill fortune which has be fallen the army of HOOD in its desperate effort to aid them. Their newspapers and speakers give abundant evidence of their disappointment.

Posted in Georgia, John Bell Hood | Leave a comment

October 20, 1864: Proclamation of a day of Thanksgiving


Lincoln fixes the date of Thanksgiving as a national celebration — at least for those parts of the nation that were listening to him.


A Proclamation.

It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with his guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad, and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps, and our sailors on the rivers and seas, with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while he has opened to us new: sources of wealth, and has crowned the labor of our working-men in every department of industry with abundant rewards. Moreover, he has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions.

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may be then, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid, that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust, and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the great Disposer of events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the, land which it has pleased him to assign as a dwelling-place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this twentieth day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-four, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-ninth.


By the President WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

Posted in Abraham Lincoln | Leave a comment

October 20, 1864: Foraging instructions.


Instructions from one of Sherman’s foragers on how to do it properly.

Official Records:

Atlanta, Ga., October 20, 1864.
Lieutenant Colonel H. W. PERKINS,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

SIR: In compliance with request of commanding general, I have the honor to submit the following suggestions for the consideration of commanding officers of foraging expeditions:

Upon arriving at a section of country from which sufficient forage can be obtained a defensible position should be selected to park the main portion of the train, with at least one brigade of infantry and one battery of artillery in charge for its protection and for picketing the different roads. One hundred and FIFTY wagons, in charge of a brigade of infantry and a squadron of cavalry, can be loaded and brought back to park in a day, provided that they meet with no serious opposition from the enemy. The cavalry should be used to patrol the country and report the location of the different corn-fields. Too many wagons should not be taken into the corn-fields, as they only embarrass operations, but they should be parked near at hand so that they can be moved promptly to the point required. As the corn is usually very Light, not yielding in many instances over from ten to fifteen bushels to the acre, the officer in charge should be careful in estimates as to the number of wagons required for the several fields. The troops detailed for stripping the corn should be deployed, assigning one man to carry ten rows of corn. As the corn is stripped it should be thrown into piles and the wagons should follow and load it up. Two or even one man for this purpose is sufficient. The men should keep on their equipments and sling their guns over their shoulders, so as to be ready to repel a sudden attack from the enemy. Company officers should be required to remain with their commands, and the men should under no circumstances be permitted to leave their commands to forage until their work is done.

Men not connected with their commands should not be permitted to accompany the expedition. They are usually men of the most depraved and worthless character, who accompany the expedition for the purpose of plundering private houses and committing outrages upon defenseless females. This class of men by their bad conduct bring disgrace upon the army. The commanding officer of the expedition should be authorized to shoot all men found committing these outrages. Parties sent with expeditions to forage for the different headquarters of the army should be furnished with proper passes, to be approved by the commanding officer of the expedition. The commanding officer of the expedition should have at least one company of cavalry to be used as orderlies by himself and the quartermaster in charge. An officer of the quartermaster’s department should accompany every thirty wagons, well instructed as to manner to loading his train and doubling up the same both in the road and in the field. A guard should be set on all streams to prevent teamsters from watering their mules while trains are moving. Detachments from each train should be taken every day while foraging in order to secure services of officers and wagon-masters in loading trains. The pioneer corps of the different brigades should accompany the expedition in order to repair roads.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel, Commanding late Expedition.

Posted in Sherman's March | Leave a comment

October 19, 1864: The purpose of Sherman’s March


Sherman explains his plans to Halleck. Hood is going to Blue Mountain, at the end of the Selma and Talladega road (surely that should be a fast road to travel). Meanwhile, Sherman will destroy the rail line from Chattanooga to Atlanta, destroy Atlanta, and then head for the sea. He’ll keep his options open so that the Confederates can’t concentrate against him. The point of Sherman’s planned march? “This movement is not purely military or strategic, but it will illustrate the vulnerability of the South.”

Official Records:

Major General H. W. HALLECK,
Washington, D. C.:

GENERAL: At some more leisure time I will record the facts relating to Hood’s attack on my communications. He has partially succeeded from the superior mobility of is columns, moving without food or wagons. I now have him turned back and am pursuing him till he will not dare turn up Will’s Valley without having me at his rear and the Tennessee at his front. My opinion is he will go to Blue Mountain, the terminus of the Selma and Talladega road, where he and Beauregard will concoct more mischief. We must not be on the defensive, and I now consider myself authorized to execute my plan to destroy the railroad from Chattanooga to Atlanta, including the latter city, strike out into the heart of Georgia, and make for Charleston, Savannah, or the mounth of the Appalachicola. General Grant prefers the middle one, Savannah, and I understand you to prefer Selma and the Alabama.

I must have alternates, else, being confined to one route, the enemy might so oppose that delay and want would trouble me, but, having alternates, I can take so eccentric a course that no general can guess at my objective. Therefore, when you hear I am off have lookouts at Morris Island, S. C., Ossabaw Sound, Ga., Pensacola and Mobile Bays. I will turn up somewhere, and believe I can take Macon and Milledgeville, Augusta and Savannah, Ga., and wind up with closing the neck back of Charleston so that they will starve out.

This movement is not purely military or strategic, but it will illustrate the vulnerability of the South. They don’t know what war means, but when the rich planters of the Oconee and Savannah see their fences and corn and hogs and sheep vanish before their eyes they will have something more than a mean opinion of the “Yanks. ” Even now our poor mules laugh at the fine corn-fields, and our soldiers riot on chestnuts, sweet potatoes, pigs, chickens, &c. The poor people come to me and beg as for their lives, but my answer is, “Your friends have broken our railroads, which supplied us bountifully, and you cannot suppose our soldiers will suffer when there is abundance within reach.”

It will take ten days to finish up our road, during which I will eat out this flank and along down the Coosa, and then will rapidly put into execution the plan. In the mean time I ask that you give to General Thomas all the troops you can spare of the new levies, that he may hold the line of the Tennessee during my absence of, say, ninety days.

I am, &c.,

Posted in Henry Halleck, Sherman's March, William Tecumseh Sherman | Leave a comment

October 19, 1864: Body parts

New York Times

In case you thought that grisly crimes were a modern development, here’s one from 150 years ago.

THE MYSTERIOUS MURDER.; Discovery of the Head Belonging to the Dissevered Parts A Pistol Shot Found in the Right Temple and Another under the Right Eye.

The head belonging to the trunk and limbs of the body picked up at different places along the shores of the East River and Gravesend Bay within the past three weeks, was picked up yesterday morning at Fort Hamilton, and sent to the Coroner’s office in this city. Coroner MORRIS being absent in consequence of a domestic affliction, the remains were taken in charge by Coroner BARRETT.

When found, the head was wrapped in enamelled cloth, apparently a piece of the same material in which the other parts were tied up. The cord was also the same, but there was no hardware, paper, or iron weights, as found on the other packages.
A sharp knife and saw had been used in severing the head from the body, but it was not cut as evenly as the other dissevered portions.

The evidences of murder are unmistakable. A bullet-hole was found in the right temple, and another under the right eye. The wounds were probed, and found to be about three inches in depth. Thus far, no attempt has been made to extract the balls, should they still be in the brain.

The features present the appearance of a stout, hearty, and handsome-looking man, of about 35 years of age. The hair is of a dark, chestnut brown color, inclined to curl, whiskers thick and short, with mustache of a sandy color. The complexion is light, the eyes blue. The face is well shaped — rather broad below the temples. The forehead is high, and of good width; in fact, everything about the face and head indicates that he was a man of intellect. The teeth are rather large, and in first-rate condition.

The head and features are in an excellent state of preservation — almost as fresh looking as they might have been on the day after death; and should they be seen by any one who had seen the man alive, they could be identified without any difficulty whatever.

The remains were conveyed to a daguerrean establishment, and several photographs were taken, after which, at the request of a number of citizens, Coroner BARRETT permitted the head to be exposed to view in the rotunda of the City Hall. Hundreds of persons came to see it, but no one could identify the features.

Exposure to light and air had the effect of hastening decay, and the head was conveyed to the Dead House, and placed in ice with the other remains.

All the parts of the body have now been recovered, with the exception of the upper portion of the breast, shoulders and arms. These are not indispensible to identification, now that the head has been found.

The greatest excitement was caused by the event, and some dozen ladies, all sure that it was a husband, a son, or a brother, came to examine the features.

Posted in Crime | 1 Comment

October 18, 1864: Hood’s not a big deal.

The New York Times reprints a dispatch from Charles Dana, explaining that Hood hasn’t really done that much damage to the railorads. Meanwhile the union cavalry has got the best of Mosby.

Maj. Gen. Dix:

Advices from Gen. SHERMAN to the evening of Oct. 16 indicate that HOOD, after having struck the railroad in the neighborhood of
Dalton and Resaca, has fallen back before SHERMAN without fighting, abandoning his great movement upon our line of communications.

He has torn up some fifteen miles of the road from Resaca, north, but the injury will be repaired without difficulty. The interruption will cause no inconvenience to SHERMAN’s army, as his stores of supplies south of the break, as well as north of it, are ample. HOOD has retreated toward the Southwest. His rear left Dalton in haste at 6 o’clock on Sunday morning.
Gen. SHERIDAN reports that the rebel army lately under EARLY, but now apparently under LONGSTREET, having appeared in the vicinity of Strasburgh, his forces moved to attack them on Saturday. CROOK, who had the advance, found the rebels drawn up in four lines of battle; but upon his charging them with his accustomed impetuosity, they broke and withdrew in considerable disorder, without giving the opportunity for any serious conflict. SHERIDAN reports them as continuing their retreat in haste far up the valley.

Col. GANSEVOORT, commanding the Thirteenth New-York Cavalry, has succeeded in surprising a rebel camp of the outlaw and freebooter MOSBY, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, capturing his artillery, consisting of four pieces, with munitions complete.

Acting Secretary of War.

Posted in Georgia, John Bell Hood | Leave a comment