Civil War Daily Gazette

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

‘Confederate Politics’

Both Davis and Lincoln Remain Hopeful

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April 11, 1865 (Tuesday) Confederate President Jefferson Davis heard of General Lee’s surrender the night previous. He had re-established what was left of the government in Danville, Virginia, some eighty miles to the south of Appomattox. Almost immediately he began to make plans for another evacuation, fearing now that Federal cavalry would swarm down upon him. Entering Danville as he was about to leave were throngs of refugees, including soldiers wishing not to surrender, but to join in with Joe Johnston’s army in North Carolina. The night of the 10th, Jefferson and what could be gathered of the government boarded trains for Greensboro, forty-five miles farther south. They arrived in the afternoon of this date. The crowds in Greensboro were not as they had been in Danville and Richmond. These were not dyed in the wool Rebels, but indifferent citizenry weary of war. They cared little to harbor this congress of fugitives. Regardless, Davis found a makeshift home in a second floor apartment, while the White House was now merely a rail car. Davis, however,… Read More

‘I bid you an affectionate farewell’ – General Lee to His Troops

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April 10, 1865 (Monday) There came then soft rains, falling only slightly thicker than mist upon the blue and gray soldiers bivouacked in and around Appomattox Court House. Though General Lee had surrendered, the Union picket lines still held their formation, and mixing between the two armies, save higher ranking officers, had not yet come to be. The Confederates, arms stacked, held weak vigil over their camps, but for them the heavy war was at an end, though peace seemed foreign and incomprehensible. General George Meade, who had battled Lee since the terrible summer of 1863, was not at the surrender. Through the rains, he rode now to meet with his adversary. “Passing our picket line,” wrote Theodore Lyman of Meade’s staff, “and continuing on the main stage road we came among groups of rebel soldiers, standing listlessly about.” As they reached the Southern tents, Meade sent Lyman forward to find General Lee. There, he found General Charles Field, commanding Hood’s old division. This sullen gentleman escorted him to Lee’s headquarters in a nearby woods.… Read More

‘You Can Cast Off the Name of Slave and Trample Upon It’ – Lincoln Enters Richmond

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April 4, 1865 (Tuesday) “Thank God, that I have lived to see this! It seems to me that I have been dreaming a horrid dream for four years, and now the nightmare is gone. I want to see Richmond.” – Abraham Lincoln William H. Crook, Lincoln’s bodyguard: The shore for some distance before we reached Richmond was black with negroes. They had heard that President Lincoln was on his way—-they had some sort of an underground telegraph, I am sure. They were wild with excitement and yelling like so many wild men: ‘There comes Massa Lincoln, the -Savior of the land — we is so glad to see him!’ We landed at the Rocketts, over a hundred yards back of Libbey Prison. By the time we were on shore hundreds of black hands were outstretched to the President, and he shook some of them and thanked the darkies for their welcome. David Dixon Porter, Admiral, US Navy: Four minutes had passed since the party had landed in apparently deserted streets; but, now that the hymn… Read More

‘The Rebellion Has Gone Up’ – The Fall of Petersburg and Richmond

Petersburg dead photographed on this date.

April 2, 1865 (Sunday) “I see no prospect of doing more than holding our position here till night,” wrote General Lee to Secretary of War John Breckinridge at 1040am. “I am not certain that I can do that. If I can I shall withdraw to-night north of the Appomattox, and, if possible, it will be better to withdraw the whole line to-night from James River. The brigades on Hatcher’s Run are cut off from us; enemy have broken through our lines and intercepted between us and them, and there is no bridge over which they can cross the Appomattox this side of Goode’s or Beaver’s, which are not very far from the Danville railroad. Our only chance, then, of concentrating our forces, is to do so near Danville railroad, which I shall endeavor to do at once. I advise that all preparation be made for leaving Richmond to-night. I will advise you later, according to circumstances.” Grant’s assault upon the Confederate lines at Petersburg stepped off at first light. The attack came all along the… Read More

‘Whenever I Hear Any One Arguing for Slavery, I Feel a Strong Impulse to See it Tried on Him Personally’

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March 17, 1865 (Friday) On this date President Lincoln delivered one of his more famous speeches. There were two copies of this message – one from the New York Herald, and another, written shortly thereafter, signed personally by Lincoln. The first was spoken to the 140th Indiana Regiment, which captured a Confederate flag at Fort Anderson. But it was before Lincoln had heard that the Confederate bill to allow slaves to fight in the Southern armies had passed. The second took this into account. I have taken the liberty of splicing the two drafts together to make a third. It’s usually a bad idea to do this, but I thought I’d give it a shot anyway. Below is this new draft. The portions that come from the second, signed draft are in italics. — FELLOW CITIZENS—It will be but a very few words that I shall undertake to say. I was born in Kentucky, raised in Indiana and lived in Illinois. And now I am here, where it is my business to care equally for… Read More

Davis Signs Bill Authorizing Slaves in the Confederate Army; The Reaction and Plans of the Black Population

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March 13, 1865 (Monday) Jefferson Davis could feel it all coming apart. He paced away, as Judah Benjamin later wrote, “the anxious hours when we could not but perceived that our holy and sacred cause was gradually crumbling under a pressure too grievous to be bourne, and when we looked every where for some sign of sympathy, some promise of help, some ray of hope.” Publically, Davis was all of these things and more. His speeches and proclamations propounded the coming achievements, the battles to be won, and the new country before them. He promised what all wanted – peace. But this was a peace through triumph, not a mere ceasation of hostilities under the boot of the Federal government. He awaited this latest hope: the bill passed by the Confederate Congress that called for the use of slaves in the ranks of the armies. But on the morning of this date, though he had heard of its approvale on the 10th, he had not yet seen the bill to sign it. “The bill for… Read More

Ensuring the Enslavement of Even those Who Enlisted

A fairly logical (and obviously racist) depiction of what would happen when slaves were grafted into the Confederate army.

March 12, 1865 (Sunday) For months, President Jefferson Davis had hinted that slaves might be impressed into the army. The issue had cut the line between idealism and necessity. Many were, not surpringly, opposed to such measures. “The moment you resort to Negro soldiers,” said Howell Cobb of Georgia, “your white soldiers will be lost to you.” His reasoning was simple: “You can’t keep white and black soldiers together and you can’t trust Negroes by themselves.” He, and countless others, were fine with using slaves to build fortifications, for labor, and as teamsters, but “the day you make soldiers of them is the beginning of the end of the revolution.” But then there was the practical. If the war continued, and the North continued to gain ground, good Southern slaves would be swept up and emancipated. Those freemen would then be put in a Union uniform, given a gun and turned against their former masters. If Judah P. Benjamin, Confederate Secretary of State, got his way, the 680,000 black men, both free and slave, who… Read More

Grant Cannot Talk Peace with Lee

James Longstreet

March 3, 1865 (Friday) In the last week of February, a strange meeting took place between Union General Edward Ord and Confederate General James Longstreet. Along the lines between Longstreet’s men and the Army of the James, between Petersburg and Richmond, the pickets of both sides had more or less given up on the war and engaged in open trade with each other. Rather than simply order it to be ceased, Ord wrote to Longstreet and asked if the two of them might not get together to talk about this. They had been friends before the war, and at the very least, it would be an amicable aside. It was decided that they would meet at noon on the New Market Road. When they met, the talk about the soldiers’ behavior was quickly had, and soon after Ord moved onto his true purpose: peace. He had been thinking much about the failed Hampton Roads peace conference, and came to the conclusion that such matters couldn’t be left up to politicians. They should be held, thought… Read More

The Unchangeable Determination to Conquer or Die

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February 28, 1865 (Tuesday) Through the harsh winter, General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had experienced a hemorrhage of desertions. At its peak, scores, even hundreds of men were putting the war behind them. While Lee prescribed more executions for those caught in the act, he also hoped to stem the tide. Following the failure of the Hampton Roads peace conference, it became clear to many Southerners that the Federals were more than willing to see this to the bitterest of ends; that only full and unconditional surrender would be accepted. As far as their new country was concerned, there was nothing left to lose. There came then a new movement of reaffirmation, with entire regiments pledging themselves once more to the cause. The tide of deserters was never stopped, but perhaps these pledges, these resolutions and oaths resworn, were enough to keep those who remained fast in the trenches. Often the thought handed down to the men was that the differences between North and South were irreconcilable. There could never be hope of peace… Read More

Davis: ‘We are Reduced to Choosing Whether the Negroes Shall Fight for or Against Us

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February 21, 1865 (Tuesday) The idea of forcing slaves to fight in the Confederate armies was one of the hottest debates in Richmond. The day previous, the House voted to allow slaves to be drafted as soldiers. Now it had to face the Senate and then the President. Jefferson Davis had already voiced his approval of the measure, though only as an absolute necessity. As things stood now, however, that time had come. At the end of December, the editor of the Mobile Register and Advertiser send Davis an editorial supporting this view, something that paper had expounded nice November of 1863. In it, the editor thought that Richmond should make “a permanent levy or draft of a certain proportion of the slave population.” Since there seemed to be no way to coax the “stragglers, skulkers and absentees” back into the armies, and since, as the paper suggested, the Union had “marshaled 200,000 of our slaves against us,” the slave population, it was proposed, should be tapped. Davis, in replying, agreed, saying that the article… Read More

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