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March 2015

This week in the Civil War for March 15, 1865

Days after President Abraham Lincoln began his second term, the Union scored a new victory in fighting in North Carolina 150 years ago in the Civil War. Troops under Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman and a fellow general collided with a Confederate force led by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston on March 19, 1865. The battle of Bentonville, North Carolina, came as Sherman's army was marching across North Carolina. Johnston attacked. Fierce fighting erupted. The Union counterattacked. Repeated Southern efforts to overrun the federal contingent failed after hours of hard fighting on March 19, 1865, and the combat would drag on two more days before the Confederates retreated. Though Sherman's advance was momentarily slowed by fighting at Bentonville, his forces continued their march across the Carolinas. One newspaper dispatch reported: "Sherman walks over the Carolinas as fearlessly and unconcerned as a giant." And it would only be a matter of weeks before the Union prevailed. The Cleveland Morning Leader signaled Northern morale was running high as it reported March 22, 1865, that some projections put a war-weakened Confederate army now at just over 120,000 troops. "Against this our forces, in the three armies of Grant, Sherman, and Schofield alone, muster more than 250,000 men. Who can doubt the result?"

From ABC News and the Associated Press

Hardtack postcard

Hardtack, a soldiers best friend. Wild Bill spoke of many recipes that the troops used during the war. His favorite was to fry it up, crumbled with bacon fat or coffee. By frying it, the heat usually killed the bugs that might be in older hardtack, One industrious soldier even used one as a post card which he mailed home to his sweetheart in NY (bottom photo).

From Wildbillbourroughs on Tumblr

This week in the Civil War for March 8, 1865

Fighting flared anew in North Carolina as Union forces sought to move inland from Wilmington, captured weeks earlier when the federal forces closed down the last major Atlantic seaport for the Confederacy. A Union force advancing under the command of Maj. Gen. John Schofield was halted by two Confederate divisions near Kinston, North Carolina, on March 7, 1865. The following day a Confederate attempt at an assault on the Union flanks began fiercely, but then broke down. By March 9, 1865, Union forces were able to repel further Confederate attacks and force the Southern divisions to retreat over days of hard fighting. Kinston, North Carolina, would fall later that week to the Union, 150 years ago in the Civil War.

From The Associated Press and ABC News

POW's journal from Andersonville

Sgt. John Clark Ely of Company C, 115th Ohio Infantry, was captured in Tennessee in late 1864. Following his transfer from Confederate prison camps in Mississippi and Alabama, Ely was imprisoned at infamous Camp Sumter in Georgia. His journal entries are courtesy of Andersonville National Historic Site. (By “scalloway,” Ely probably meant “scalawag.”)

Feb. 18, 1865 (Saturday)
Beautiful morning and day. P.M. some 800 prisoners came in, were the sick left at Meridian, captured of Hood.

Feb. 19, 1865 (Sunday)
Slight frost, fine morning, some rumors of exchange. 9th Division drew cooked rations again.

Feb. 20, 1865 (Monday)
Fine day.

Feb. 21, 1865 (Tuesday)
Lowery in morning, pleasant p.m. Wrote note to Lt. Eadie.

Feb. 22, 1865 (Wednesday)
Washington birthday. How different from where I was a year ago, some scalloway opened our tent at bottom and stole from me one shirt, one pair drawers, one () and haversack with 4 days rations meal.

Feb. 23, 1865 (Thursday)
Slight shower in night, many rumors of exchange in rebel papers yesterday. Drew more cooking vessels p.m. division sergeants sent communication to Capt. Wirtz relative to changing quarters, refused.

Feb. 24, 1865 (Friday)
Rainy night, showery day with some thunder.


Gear used by a soldier at Waterloo.

A different war. A different contenant. A soldier's gear remains the same.

1.) 1812 pattern Belgic Shako as worn by a centre company soldier of the Coldstream Guards during the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. It has white worsted woollen cap cords and tassels, a brass cap plate bearing a Coldstream star in the centre, a black leather cockade worn on the left hand side red and white feathered plume to indicate that the wearer is from a centre company. If the soldier was from the Grenadier Company he would wear a white plume and from the Light Company a Green plume

Continue reading "Gear used by a soldier at Waterloo." »

This week in the Civil War for March 1, 1865

Astride the momentum of a string of Northern battlefield victories, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in this week 150 years ago to a second term as U.S. president. Lincoln's second inauguration opened on a damp, muddy day on March 4, 1865, in Washington, D.C. Where his oath four years earlier had been administered amid a growing, warlike atmosphere, his second swearing-in came as many sensed war was nearing an end with the North prevailing. Tens of thousands gathered as he delivered his second inaugural address on a day with sun breaking from the clouds. He spoke in stirring words of healing a nation long divided by war. And he delivered the oft-recalled phrase as he concluded his speech: "With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nations wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."

From The Associated Press and ABC News