Anna Moffett's Civil War - 10
February - August 1864
Finally there is something positive to write about & what excitement it caused. Our side has developed a powerful submarine & on Feb 17, in the dark of night, it was launched from
Charleston against the Union blockade & attacked the USS Housatonic, which sank with the loss of five crew. The submarine, the Hunley also sank while returning from her mission.
They say that one in every three ships these days is intercepted while trying to run the blockage. It has almost totally choked off Southern cotton exports, which we depend on for hard currency. Cotton exports fhave fallen by 95%, from 10 million bales in the three years prior to the war to just 500,000 bales during the blockade period. The blockade also largely reduces imports of food, medicine, war materials, manufactured goods & luxury items, resulting in severe shortages. Land routes remain open for cattle drovers, but after the Union seized control of the Mississippi River last summer it became impossible to ship horses, cattle & swine from Texas & Arkansas to the eastern Confederacy.
CHARLESTON MERCURY, March 3
Letter from the Women of the South to the Soldiers of the Confederate Army.
Soldiers: The President, Congress, the Public Press & your Generals, have told you their high estimate of your noble devotion to re-enlisting for the war. We, also, as your mothers, wives, daughters, sisters & friends, claim the right to thank you. It is the grandest act of the revolution & secures immortality to all concerned in it. It awakens anew the enthusiasm with which we began this struggle for Liberty & removes all doubt of its eventual success. Such men, in such a cause,
cannot be overcome.
In the dreariness of camp life, you may sometimes have imagined yourselves forgotten or little cared for. Counting up your privations & dangers, you may have doubted their full appreciation & fancied that those who stay at home & risk nothing, while you suffer & bleed, are more esteemed
than yourselves. We beseech you harbor no such thought. You are constantly present to our minds. The women of the South bestow all their respect & affection on the heroes who defend them against a barbarous & cruel foe. In the resolution so said you, they are as firm & determined as you in
yours, not to lay down your arms 'till independence be won. When that sacred vow shall have been accomplished your reception by us will more than attest our sincerity. It shall also be shown while the contest goes on, by our efforts to increase your comforts in the field & to lighten the burden of the dear ones left at home. For your stricken country's sake & ours, be true to yourselves & our glorious cause. Never turn your backs on the flag, nor desert the ranks of honor or the post of danger. Men guilty of such infamy sell your blood & our honor & give up the Confederacy to its wicked invaders. In after years, from generation to generation, the black title of tory & deserter will
cling to them, disgracing their children's children. But no stigma like this will stain you & yours. Brave, patriotic & self sacrificing in time of war, you will be honored in peace as the saviors of your country & the pride & glory of your countrywomen. We beg you to keep near your hearts these memorials of affection & respect & to remember them, especially in battle & we invoke for you always the protection of a kind & merciful Providence.
Things have gone from bad to worse. We cannot even move now as the train passenger services in the Confederacy have more or less ground to a halt. All trains have to give way to government trains. Transport of goods for civilian use is also affected, exacerbating shortages brought on by war-time
devastation, rampant speculation & hoarding.
James has written that on March 18th his Cavalry Battalion was separated from the Holcombe Legion & increased to regimental size becoming the 7th South Carolina cavalry.
CHARLESTON MERCURY, April 2
Richmond, Monday, March 28.
Since the passenger trains were reduced to one a day, traveling has become a frightful misery & struggle. Ladies' car abolished. Soldiers to be seated first, then ladies, but not their escorts & then anybody who can fight his way in. Trains never connect. At Weldon, yesterday, there were 1500 people waiting - the cars, inside & out, platform & top, all crammed & hundreds begging & offering bribes to be admitted. At Petersburg it was nearly as bad.
Our good friend George Trenholm, the senior partner in Fraser, Trenholm & Co, became Secretary
to the Confederate States Treasury. We have so much to be grateful to the Liverpool branch of the firm acting as banker to the Confederate Government & financing the supply of armaments in return for cotton.
Another Charles Dickens book is being serialized in the Atlantic Monthly. This one is called Our Mutual Friend. The reviews say it is one of his most sophisticated works, combining psychological insight with social analysis. It centers on, "money, money, money & what money can make of life" but is also about human values. In the opening chapters a body is found in the Thames & identified as John Harmon, a young man recently returned to London to receive his inheritance. Were he alive, his father's will would require him to marry Bella Wilfer, a beautiful, mercenary girl whom he had never met. Instead, the money passes to the working-class Boffins & the effects spread into various corners of London society.
I read a letter in the paper (21 May) from Andrew M. Adger (brother of my dead son-in-law) on James Island, expresses his hope that his unit will be sent north "to see the war carried home to the Yankees, as it has been too long to us. It is time for them, now, to have a turn in the horrors of war. It makes one's blood boil to hear of the devastation created by them."
Another letter from Andrew Adger on 8 June describes the entrenchments, fighting, & truce between the armies of Lee & Grant at Gaines Mill (Cold Harbor, Va.) & relates that "Grant's men were badly cut up. All here agree he is a perfect butcher...perfectly indifferent to the wants of his wounded, dozens of them, many dead, too, were left within 50 yards of his works, without the least attention being paid to them."
Andrew, my grandson, is a cadet ranger & they participated in the Battle of Trevillian Station. It was one of the bloodiest cavalry battles in the war. General Hampton saw that a confederate battery was in danger of being overrun by Union cavalry. The only troops available were the cadet company. In a charge personally led by Gen Hampton the cadets repulsed the Union troops & saved the guns.
I mentioned earlier the Liverpool ship called the Alabama which was captured in June but not before she captured & burned 55 Union merchantmen worth $4,500,000 & bonded ten others to the value of
With the military situation not going as well as hoped for the Union earlier this year, there was considerable talk that President Abraham Lincoln could not win reelection. The president appears as a sleeping giant whose big shoes will be difficult to fill, despite the efforts of tiny “presidential cobblers & wire-pullers.”
I include some more clippings from the local paper.
Arms & Lead from the Battlefields. We noticed at the Central Depot on Saturday six cars loaded with arms, knapsacks, cartridge boxes, sabres, etc., together with a large lot of pig lead, the spoils of the battle-fields of the Wilderness & Spottsylvania. The balls are collected on the battle-field by the people living in the vicinity, brought to an established depot & melted into pigs. In this way
they are forwarded to the laboratory here. As lead is at this time in demand, it will be very acceptable. In this lot there is not less than 16,000 pounds; & about 8000 or 9000 stand of arms, which, with slight repairs, will be very serviceable. Lieut. Louis Zimmer, Assistant to Chief of Ordnance, has charge of that department. In return for lead & arms, he issues to the people corn meal & flour. There are many poor families in this neighborhood who have been despoiled by the Yankees of all they had & this is of great assistance to them, as provisions are more important to them than money. Lieutenant Z. has already collected from these battle-fields upwards of 30,000 small arms & 25,000 pounds of lead, equipments, etc. This will be to the Government a clear savings of over $2,000,000. Lieut. Z. has shown great energy in this branch of the service.
On the 19 August, the Alabama met the USS Kearsage off Cherbourg, France & after a spectacular battle watched by thousands on the French coast, the Alabama was sunk. Fortunately the steam yacht Deerhound (also built at Laird's) & owned by Englishman John Lancaster, saved a number of crew, including Captain Semmes & a number of officers, who were given a hero's welcome at Southampton.