This Week in Georgia Civil War History
This Week in Georgia Civil War History
March 13, 1864: Julia Johnson Fisher - a woman staying in Camden County during the war - wrote in her diary of some cheering news she had received on this Sabbath day, only to be followed by more sad news from the war.
The children came from Brookfield and we had our little Sabbath School. They were attentive and learn well. We have had another letter from Augustus which has given us much satisfaction. It is so cheering to get tidings from home. And, one from Fred, who is now in the Florida war. He is seeing hard times. They are fighting with great desperation. Since his letter came they have had another battle. We are all feeling lonely and discouraged again. Mrs. Linn is mostly confined to the house and feels that she can hardly bear her secluded life much longer--her husband is in Savannah. Sybil is in great doubts as regards the future. We would all, if we could, spread our wings and fly away to liberty and friends.
Source: Julia Johnson Fisher, 1814-1885 Diary, 1864
March 14, 1864: A Georgia soldier in Virginia wrote his fiance with the sad news that there would be no more furloughs granted for the time being; he mentioned native Georgian General James Longstreet and speculated on his plans.
"...yesterday evening an order came to our Brigade, stopping all furloughs, until further orders. What gave rise to this order; I'm unable to say positively; but 'Madam Rumor' says it is to clear the railroads in order to transport Genl. Longstreet's Corps to General Johnston. Genl. Longstreet and staff were at Orange C.H. a day or two since. I should like very much, for Genl. Longstreet's command to join Genl. Lee again. I have many friends there. I should like very much to see. ... If Genl. Longstreet does come here, I shall at once begin to mend my harness, for a trip into Pennsylvania or Ohio. ...
There is only one thought that makes the approaching campaign, appear gloomy, and that is the thought that I will almost entirely be debarred the privilege of hearing from you. Perhaps we may go into Pennsylvania or some other foreign land, and then I know I will not only fail to receive your letters; but be unable to send my own. I will make up for lost time, tho, when I get back into civilization. ..."
Source: Clyde G. Wiggins III (ed.), My Dear Friend: The Civil War Letters of Alva Benjamin Spencer, 3rd Georgia Regiment, Company C (Macon, Mercer University Press, 2007), pp. 97-98.
Click here to see the pay record for a Georgia soldier who received a mere $8.86 on this day.
The Richmond Times Dispatch reported on a proposal by a Georgia legislator to offer peace to the North after each Confederate victory, with the individual Southern states to decide on its own whether or not to agree to it.
March 15, 1864: Julia Johnson Fisher wrote in her diary of the food shortages caused by the war; her husband had resorted to eating a squirrel for breakfast.
Mr. Fisher is 76 years old today. Kate Lang and all the children walked over to see us this morning and settle an affair with the negroes. Willie Bailey dined with us on rice and hominy. Our pork is gone and there's no prospect for any meat at present. The pigs fatten too slowly to supply the demand. Mr. Fisher caught a squirrel in a trap which was served for his breakfast. Kate says they are obliged to economize closely at their table. Famine threatens to follow in the wake of the war. Fred writes that he has but one meal a day which he cooks himself and his house suffers for want of food. The Confederates fight like tigers with a yell and a whoop.
Source: Julia Johnson Fisher, 1814-1885 Diary, 1864
The Confederate Union of Milledgeville speculated that the next move of the "enemy" would be a "grand movement against Georgia." They were right.
Both The Confederate Union and The Southern Recorder printed the full text of Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown's message to the special called meeting of the Georgia Legislature. The message was too long to reproduce here, but it can be read at the newspaper links.
The Southern Recorder did not like the tone of the Governor's message.
An officer was assigned to serve as commissary at Camp Sumter near Andersonville, but needed a storehouse to perform his duty. He was told that someone would have to send lumber to build it or he could use a local church.
March 16, 1864: Guard troops at Camp Sumter near Andersonville were ordered not to speak with prisoners except on official business.
The Richmond Times Dispatch reprinted a report from a Savannah newspaper on the war situation in Florida.
March 17, 1864: A Georgia soldier in Tennessee wrote home to his wife; he was not feeling well after a lot of marching, and was still contemplating deserting with a friend.
"...I seat myself this morning to write you a few lines which will inform you that I am not very well but I hope this may find you all well. I received a letter from you last Saturday but have not had time to answer it we have bin on the road an expecting a fight but I do not think there will be much fight now. ... Pool is with us but not very well. I think him an I will soon carry out our design we are at work for it faithful. ... My Dear do not write anything about my getting away from here for if you do the letters may come after I am gone an some one else will get the letters an find out all about it. be sure to keep it a secret forever. ..."
Source: Katherine S. Holland (ed.), Keep All My Letters: The Civil War Letters of Richard Henry Brooks, 51st Georgia Infantry (Macon: Mercer University Press, 2003), p. 115.
The Georgia General Assembly passed an act authorizing the Governor to fund Confederate notes remaining in the state treasury at a six percent rate in bonds.
Law Number: (No. 51.)
The General Assembly of the State of Georgia do resolve, That His Excellency the Governor, be, and he is hereby authorized, to have funded in six per cent bonds, provided for by the act of Congress, all Confederate notes which may remain in the Treasury, or may be in the hands of the financial agents of the State, after the first day of April next; and to sell and dispose of such bonds at their market value in currency, which can be made available in payments to be made by the Treasury; and to credit the Treasurer with any losses that may accrue, by reason of the failure of the bonds to bring their par value, when sold.
[Sidenote: Gov. authorized to have funded in six per cent. Con. bonds all Confed. notes belongiug to the State.]
[Sidenote: State Treasurer to be eredited with loses for sales helow par.]
Approval Date: Assented to, March 17th, 1864.
The Richmond Times Dispatch reported on several items from the special called session of the Georgia Legislature, including an upcoming speech from Confederate Vice-President Alexander Stephens.
March 18, 1864: The Confederate Congress issue a circular regarding conscription, detailing how conscription boards were to be established and who remained exempt. Clearly there was a need for more soldiers to meet the overwhelming number of Union forces.
Union General William T. Sherman assumed overall command of the Military Division of the Mississippi - to oversee all actions in the western theater of the Civil War, including the campaign in Georgia planned the remainder of 1864.
The Richmond Times Dispatch reported - with information from a Savannah newspaper - on the reception in Georgia to Governor Joseph E. Brown's recent address to the special called meeting of the Georgia Legislature; apparently the address was not being well received in many places.
March 19, 1864: The Georgia General Assembly passed a resolution "declaring the ground on which the Confederate State stand in this War, and the terms on which peace ought to offered to the enemy."
Full Title: Resolutions declaring the ground on which the Confederate State stand in this War, and the terms on which peace ought to offered to the enemy.
The General Assembly of the State of Georgia do resolve, [Illegible Text] That to secure the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, "Governments were instituted among men, deriving the just powers from the consent of the governed; that when eye any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundations on such principles, an organizing its powers in such form as shall seem to them [Illegible Text] likely to effect their safety and happiness."
[Sidenote: Declaratory of the objects of all good governments, and the right of "the people" to alter or abolish, to secure those objects.]
2nd. That the best possible commentary upon this grand text [Illegible Text] our fathers of 1776, is their accompanying action, which it was put forth to justify; and that action was the immortal declaration that the former political connection between the Colonies and the State of Great Britain, was dissolved and the thirteen Colonies were, and of right, ought to be, not one independent State, [Illegible Text] thirteen independent States, each of them being such a "people as had the right, whenever they chose to exercise it, to separate themselves from a political association and government of their [Illegible Text] choice, and institute a new government to suit themselves.
[Sidenote: The Declaration of Independence the result of this principle.]
3rd. That if Rhode Island, with her meagre elements of nationality, was such a "people" in 1776, when her separation from [Illegible Text] government and people of Great Britain took place, much more was Georgia and each of the other seceding States, with the large territories, populations and resources, such a "people," [Illegible Text]
untitled to exercise the same right in 1861, when they decreed their separation from the Government and people of the United States; and if the separation was rightful in the first case, it was [Illegible Text] clearly so in the last, the right depending, as it does in the case of every "people" for whom it is claimed, simply upon their [Illegible Text] and their will to constitute an independent State.
[Sidenote: Georgia and the seceded States declared such a people as were entitled to exeroise the right of self government.]
4th. That this right was perfect in each of the States to be exercised by her at her own pleasure, without challenge or resistance from any other power whatsoever; and while these Southern states had long had reason enough to justify its assertion against some of their faithless associates, yet, remembering the dictate of prudence" that "governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes," they forbore a resort to [Illegible Text] exercise, until numbers of the Northern States, State after [Illegible Text] through a series of years, and by studied legislation, had [Illegible Text] themselves in open hostility against an acknowledged provision of the Constitution, and had at last succeeded in the election [Illegible Text] a President who was the avowed exponent and executioner of their faithless designs against the Constitutional rights of their [Illegible Text] sisters -- rights which had been often adjudicated by the [Illegible Text] and which were never denied by the abolitionists themselves, but upon the ground that the Constitution itself was void whenever it came in conflict with a "higher law" which they [Illegible Text] not find among the laws of God, and which depended, for [Illegible Text] exposition, solely upon the elastic consciences of rancorous [Illegible Text] The Constitution thus broken, and deliberately and [Illegible Text] repudiated by several of the States who were parties it, ceased, according to universal law, to be binding on any [Illegible Text] the rest, and those States who had been wronged by the reach, were justified in using their rights to provide "new guards or their future security."
[Sidenote: The causes of separation stated, and the act of secession justified.]
5th. That the reasons which justified the separation when it [Illegible Text] place, have been vindicated and enhanced in force by the subsequent course of the Government of Mr. Lincoln -- by his [Illegible Text] rejection of the Confederate Commissioners who were sent to Washington before the war, to settle all matters of difference without a resort to arms, thus evincing his determination to have war: by his armed occupation of the territory of the [Illegible Text] States, and especially by his treacherous attempt to [Illegible Text] his garrisons in their midst, after they had, in pursuance [Illegible Text] their right, withdrawn their people and territory from the [Illegible Text] of his government, thus rendering war a necessity, and [Illegible Text] inaugurating the present lamentable war: by his official [Illegible Text] of the Confederate States, as "rebel" and "disloyal" [Illegible Text] for their rightful withdrawal from their faithless associate [Illegible Text] whilst no word of censure has ever fallen from him against [Illegible Text] faithless States who were truly "disloyal" to the Union and [Illegible Text] Constitution, which was the only cement of the Union, and who were the true authors of all the wrong and all the mischief
of the separation, thus insulting the innocent by charging upon them the crimes of his own guilty allies: And finally, by his monstrous usurpations of power and undisguised repudiation of the Constitution, and his mocking scheme of securing a Republican form of government to sovereign States by putting nine-tenths of the people under the dominion of one-tenth, who may be abject enough to swear allegiance to his usurpation, thus betraying his design to subvert true constitutional republicanism in the North as well as the South.
[Sidenote: The separation originally just, vindicated by the subsequent policy of Mr. Lineoln.]
6th. That while we regard the present war between these Confederate States and the United States as a huge crime, whose beginning and continuance are justly chargeable to the government of our enemy, yet we do not hesitate to affirm that, if our own government, and the people of both governments, would avoid all participation in the guilt of its continuance, it becomes all of them, on all proper occasions, and in all proper ways -- the people acting through their State organizations and popular assemblies, and our government through its appropriate departments -- to use their earnest efforts to put an end to this unnatural, unchristian and savage work of carnage and havoc. And to this end, we earnestly recommend that our government, immediately after signal successes of our arms, and on other occasions, when none can impute its action to alarm, instead of a sincere desire for peace, shall make to the government of our enemy, an official offer of peace, on the basis of the great principle declared by our common fathers in 1776, accompanied by the distinct expression of a willingness, on our part, to follow that principle to its true logical consequences, by agreeing that any border State, whose preference for our association may be doubted, (doubts having been expressed as to the wishes of the border States) shall settle the question for herself, by a Convention, to be elected for that purpose, after the withdrawal of all military forces, of both sides, from her limits.
[Sidenote: An honorable close of the war highly desirable.]
[Sidenote: After signal success of our arms, and on all appropriate occagions, terms of peace should be officially tendered the enemy on the great principles of 1776, and in pursuance of it, the border States allowed to make free choice of future association.]
7th. That we believe this course, on the part of our government, would constantly weaken, and sooner or later, break down the war power of our enemy, by showing to his people the justice of our cause, our willingness to make peace on the principles of 1776, and the shoulders on which rests the responsibility for the continuance of the unnatural strife; that it would be hailed by our people and citizen soldiery, who are bearing the brunt of the war, as an assurance that peace will not be unnecessarily delayed, nor their sufferings unnecessarily prolonged; and that it would be regretted by nobody on either side, except men whose importance, or whose gains, would be diminished by peace and men whose ambitious designs would need cover under the ever-recurring [Illegible Text] of the necessities of war.
[Sidenote: Reasons of policy for this course.]
8th. That while the foregoing is an expression of the sentiments of this General Assembly respecting the manner in which peace should be sought, we renew our pledges of the resources and power
of this State to the prosecution of the war, defensive on our part, until peace is obtained upon just and honorable terms, and until the independence and nationality of the Confederate States is established upon a permanent and enduring basis.
[Sidenote: In meantime, all the resources of the State pledged to the prosecution of the war.]
Approval Date: Approved March 19th, 1864.
The Georgia General Assembly also passed an Act exempting state tax receivers and some newspaper editors from military service.
Full Title: An Act to exempt certain persons from service in the Militia of the State of Georgia.
2. SECTION II. Be it enacted, That the following named persons, in addition to those already declared emept, shall be exempted, from militia duty under the Act of the General Assembly, approved 14th December, 1863.All State Tax Receivers, one editor of each newspaper published on the 14th of December, 1863, and as many persons employed in printing and publishing the same, as the editor may on oath declare to be absolutely essential to its publication; and all ministers of religion, duly authorized to preach according to the rules of their sect, in the regular discharge of ministerial duties.
[Sidenote: Tax Receivers, one editor and necessary printers, and ministers exempt from militia duty.]
SEC. II. All conflicting laws are hereby repealed.
Approval Date: Assented to March 19, 1864.
The Georgia General Assembly also adopted a resolution expressing confidence in Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
Full Title: A Resolution expresive of the confidence of this General Assembly in the integrity and patriotism of President Davis.
Resolved, That notwithstanding the difference of opinion entertained by members of this Legislature in reference to the wisdom and constitutionality of the recent Act of Congress suspending the privilege of the writ of Habeas Corpus, the General Assembly of Georgia hereby express our undiminished confidence in the integrity and patriotism of Jefferson Davis, Chiet Magistrate of the Confederate States.
[Sidenote: Declaratory of undiminished confidence in the patriotism & integrity of President Davis.]
Approval Date: Assented to 19 March, 1864.
Yet another resolution from the Georgia General Assembly - this one honoring all the Georgia regiments who had re-enlisted and pledging to take care of their families.
Full Title: Resolutions in reference to the re-enlistment of all the Georgia Regiments.
The General Assembly of Georgia do resolve, That the reenlistment of all of our Georgia regiments has inspired within the bosom of every true Georgian, sentiments of the highest esteem and gratitude for the heroic endurance, fortitude and chivalry, displayed by them, in this additional instance of self-sacrifice.
[Sidenote: Expressive of esteem and gratitude to our re-enlisting troops.]
Resolved, 2nd, That we pledge ourselves to make all needful appropriations for the support and benefit of the destitute and suffering families of these gallant troops, so long as the exigencies of the country may require their services in the field of battle.
[Sidenote: Pledges the State to support the destitute families of soldiers in the field.]
Approval Date: Approved to March 19, 1864.
The Richmond Times Dispatch printed a brief report on the status of the army in north Georgia; they did not expect a major battle anytime soon.
This week's edition of Harper's Weekly printed another brief item on the moving of prisoners to Georgia. While the location is not mentioned, they were referring to Andersonville. They were overly optimistic on the number of "accommodations" there.
The Richmond Examiner of March 1 says that on February 29th 400 more Federal prisoners were shipped for Americus, Georgia. Nearly 3000 have thus far been sent, and there are accommodations for 6000.
Image Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library / University of Georgia Libraries
Harper's Weekly also printed a map of the "rebellion" as it was in 1861, and how it stood as of this date in 1864.
Image Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library / University of Georgia Libraries
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