Civil War Daily Gazette

A Day-By-Day Accounting of the Conflict, 150 Years Later

‘Battles, Campaigns & Raids’

General Lee Begs for More Table Scraps from Richmond

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January 27, 1865 (Friday) “I have the honor,” began Lee to the Confederate Secretary of War, “to call your attention to the alarming frequency of desertions from this army.” It had become an epidemic. Over the course of three days, fifty-six men had deserted A.P. Hill’s Corps alone. Lee had called together his generals and together they tried to figure out why their army was hemorrhaging soldiers. Lee came to the conclusion that “the insufficiency of food and non-payment of the troops have more to do with the dissatisfaction among the troops more than anything else.” Lack of food most certainly played the biggest role, and other officers agreed. “These desertions are becoming amazingly numerous,” reported Lt. Col. J.H. Duncan of the 16th Mississippi. He submitted that it was “the insufficiency of rations” that caused the men to leave. “Our men do not get enough to eat.” He was certain that “unless something is done soon to remove this evil… the number of desertions will be greatly increased during the winter.” This was hardly the… Read More

Confederates in Georgia Being Starved from Within

January 26, 1865 (Thursday) With William Tecumseh Sherman’s massive army still lumbering north from Savannah, the Confederates were trying to pull troops from anywhere they could. Local militias had been consolidated in Charleston and Augusta, and reserves from other states had been fed into the lines. The regular troops, however, were few and far between. Though there certainly weren’t men enough to go around, many who were in Sherman’s path were unwilling to join with the main army. D.H. Hill, commanding at Augusta, complained to Hardee about a curious problem now developing. “Major Macon, of the tithe department, reports that stragglers from the cavalry, local cavalry companies, and recruiting came for broken-down horses are absorbing very largely the tithes of the State,” Hill began. This tithing was actually a tax which had previously yielded the Confederates much in food and supplies. Major Macon was basically a tax collector for the Quartermaster of the Confederate army. Hill knew that he could not fight Sherman, but entrusted his cavalry to play upon lines of supply and generally… Read More

‘We Have the Same Genius to Guide Us’ – Sherman’s Headquarters Leaves Savannah

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January 22, 1865 (Sunday) “But for bad weather we should have left Savannah at least two days ago, by land,” wrote General Sherman’s Judge Advocate, Henry Hitchcock, in a letter home. “As it is, a steady and heavy rain compelled delay, and today the General and his staff embarked on this steamer, en route for Beaufort, S.C., and thence – ?” Henry Hitchcock had been a lawyer before the war. Graduating from Yale in 1848, he soon settled in St. Louis, where he also was the editor of the St. Louis Intelligencer. By the mid 50s, Hitchcock had established himself firmly within the ranks of the city’s finest young lawyers. When the war came, he did not immediately join. Rather, he supported Lincoln through the 1860 election, and even joined the Missouri Secession Convention as a Unionist in the hopes of keeping his adopted state true. When he wound up on the losing end, he was appointed to the provisional state government, where he rallied against slavery. By September of 1864, however, he decided to… Read More

Confederates Try to Peg Sherman’s Next Move

D.H. Hill

January 21, 1865 (Saturday) The Confederates gathering to oppose General Sherman’s army had more questions than answers. Even with scouts sent by infantry and cavalry, their findings provided little in the way of intelligence, what to speak of comfort. The basic conception of Sherman’s plan, as the Rebels understood it, was that he would attack Augusta, Georgia or Charleston, South Carolina. Augusta, now commanded by D.H. Hill, had been untouched on Sherman’s trek to Savannah. Since it was a supply center, it was an obvious target. Confederate Secretary of War James Seddon understood this and instructed Hill in “the removal of cotton, whether of the Government or of private individuals, from Augusta.” He wished for him to take it as far north had he could. “To promote removal and to be prepared for contingencies,” he continued, “make preparations to burn whatever cotton may be in the city in event of its evacuation or capture. It must not fall into the hands of the enemy.” While Richmond was entertaining the probability that Sherman would strike for… Read More

‘They Have Not, it Would Seem, Been Humbled Enough’ – Gideon Welles on Southern Arrogance

Gideon Welles

January 20, 1865 (Friday) Secretary of War Edwin Stanton had just returned from a visit with William Tecumseh Sherman in Savannah. On this date, he dropped by the Cabinet meeting to let the others know what he saw. Naval Secretary Gideon Welles kept a record of the event, recalled in his typical sass and pomposity. Stanton gave an interesting detail of his trip to Savannah and the condition of things in that city. His statements were not so full and comprehensive as I wished, nor did I get at the real object of his going, except that it was for his health, which seems improved. There is, he says, little or no loyalty in Savannah and the women are frenzied, senseless partisans. He says much of the cotton was claimed as British property, they asserting it had the British mark upon it. Sherman told them in reply he had found the British mark on every battle-field. The muskets, cartridges, caps, projectiles were all British, and had the British mark upon them. I am glad he… Read More

Sherman Issues Orders to March into South Carolina

General Sherman

January 19, 1865 (Thursday) William Tecumseh Sherman had wished to begin his march north through the Carolinas in mid-January, but only if the weather cooperated. In preparation of such a tramp, he began soon after he arrived to disperse the four corps of his army. Through the early portions of the month, a division from the Twentieth Corps had moved itself across the Savannah River, entering into South Carolina. They eventually settled in Hardeeville, about ten miles northeast of the city. The entire Seventeenth Corps, helmed by Frances Blair, Jr., was loaded onto transport ships and ferried to Beaufort, forty miles north. After some time, they continued on to Pocotaligo, fifteen miles farther. John Logan’s Fifteenth Corps was following behind – some by water, others by land. These two corps made up the Right Wing, under Oliver Otis Howard. Sherman’s Left Wing, still commanded by Henry Slocum, was still mostly in Savannah, save for the division in Hardeeville. Both the 14th Corps, under Jefferson C. Davis, as well as Alpheus William’s Twentieth Corps, were ordered… Read More

Davis Struggles to Find Men to Stop Sherman

Andrew Magrath

January 17, 1865 (Tuesday) With William Tecumseh Sherman’s 60,000 resting in Savannah, the South was doing all they could to find enough troops to oppose him. This, however, was an impossible task. General William Hardee, commanding at Charleston, was trying to drawn them from anywhere, fielding promises from South Carolina’s governor of 5,000 militia. Hardee didn’t believe for a second that he could field even a fraction of that number. The biggest source for troops to fight against Sherman was the Army of Tennessee, which had opposed Sherman a few months back. Rather than dogging him all the way to Savannah, they begged off, turning toward Nashville, hoping that this would somehow play upon Sherman’s supply lines and cause him to turn back and to maybe even abandon Atlanta. Needless to say, it did nothing of the sort, and Hood’s army could now only field, perhaps, 18,000. But even this number was far more than could be spared from General Lee’s forces. President Jefferson Davis had sent P.G.T. Beauregard to John Bell Hood’s headquarters in… Read More

The Aftermath at Fort Fisher

Half Moon Battery = Sugar Loaf. Fort Anderson is across the Cape Fear River from it (unmarked).

January 16, 1865 (Monday) “I am mortified at having to report the unexpected capture of Fort Fisher,” wrote Braxton Bragg to General Lee, “with most of its garrison, at about 10 o’clock to-night. Particulars not known.” Bragg was writing at 1am, shortly after learning that Fisher had fallen. Copies of the message went not just to Lee, but also to President Davis. It was Davis who soon replied. “Yours of this morning received. The intelligence is sad as it was unexpected. Can you retake the fort? If anything is to be done you will appreciate the necessity of its being attempted without a moment’s delay.” But Bragg was not convinced that it could be even attempted. “The enemy’s enormous fleet alone would destroy us in such an attempt were we unopposed by the land force,” he replied to Davis. “The most we can hope to do will be to hold this line. We are accordingly concentrating for that purpose.” Lee also responded to Bragg’s initial message, though made no mention of regaining Fisher. Bragg then… Read More

A Stupendous Disaster – The Fall of Fort Fisher

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January 15, 1865 (Sunday) On Sunday the fire of the fleet reached a pitch of fury to which no language can do justice,” wrote Confederate General William Whiting, commanding at Fort Fisher. “It was concentrated on the land front and fort. In a short time nearly every gun was dismounted or disabled, and the garrison suffered severely from the fire.” The Federal troops under Alfred Terry had been landed two days prior, and now occupied trenches between the fort and one of its outposts, Sugar Loaf. It was in Sugar Loaf where Braxton Bragg made his headquarters, overseeing a division of infantry under Robert Hoke. Since the landing, Hoke’s troops had done literally nothing, and Whiting was wondering if they ever would. Late the previous night, Bragg had called for a council of war to be held between himself, Hoke, Whiting and Charles Lamb, commanding inside Fisher. They were all to meet at Sugar Loaf. But on the morning of this day, Whiting declined. “Too late to do anything about obstructions. I will try to… Read More

‘But a Question of Time’ – Fort Fisher’s Fate is Sealed

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January 14, 1865 (Saturday) Following the utterly botched attempt to take Fort Fisher and Wilmington, North Carolina by Benjamin Butler, the Union was not ready to abandon the idea. Grant had replaced Butler with General Alfred Terry, sending him with the same troops who had tried before, along with an additional brigade. This brought the total to nearly 9,000 men. It wasn’t lack of men assembled that caused Butler’s failure, but Butler himself. Grant figured with anyone but Butler in command, its chances of success were greatly expanded. As for the Navy, Admiral David Dixon Porter commanded more or less the same fleet as before. This fleet had been bombarding the fort since to previous morning. What’s more – shortly after the beginning of the naval artillery opened, Terry began landing troops a few miles north of the fort. By the very end of the day, Terry’s entire force was upon the land, pushing back the Rebel skirmishers. Through the night, they marched south toward Fort Fisher. Along the way, lines of entrenchment were dug… Read More

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