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1865 April 8: News from the Mobile Campaign and Other Late News Items

April 11, 2015

The following summary of the news comes from The Polk County Press of April 8, 1865.

Late Items.

— The monitors of our fleet in Mobile Bay recently attacked and silenced two of the rebel batteries there, the men being driven from their guns.

— Gen. Wilson’s  cavalry expedition, which was reported as abandoned, it is now stated, has started 15,000 strong.  Mobile is the ultimate destination.  [James H. Wilson]

— A column under Gen. Stanley is making its way towards Western Virginia, to close up we suppose, a possible rebel retreat in that direction.  [David S. Stanley]

— St. Patrick’s Day was finely celebrated in New York.  The procession of the Irish societies was five or six miles in length, and of a very interesting character.

— The Louisville papers state that troops are being sent from that vicinity to reinforce Sherman.  [William T. Sherman]

— During the Revolution, with a population of 3,000,000, there were 395,000 men called into service.  If the same proportion were called out now, we would have an army of four million.

— An exchange says that Ex-Gov. Seymour during the last year of his term as Governor of New York, exercised the pardoning power in 208 instances.  Verily his “friends” can not charge him with ingratitude.  [Horatio Seymour]

— Gen. Sibley [Henry Hastings Sibley] received reliable information from the Lake Superior Chippewas, yesterday, which shows that they are not engaged in any plan for an outbreak.  If there was any such movement in our State it would be likely to have a co-operative movement among these bands.  The General has reason to believe that a rebel emissary has been among the Chippewas during the winter, and though he has been heard from a number of times, the authorities have been unable to effect his capture.—He speaks the Indian language, and is a hail fellow among them.—St. Paul Press, 30th.

— A HORSE, A HORSE !—Among the horses captured on Gen. Chestnut’s¹ place, in South Carolina, was the superb stallion presented to “President” Davis  [Jefferson Davis] by the Viceroy of Egypt. One of the soldiers, after riding the animal through the streets took off the saddle, and, after patting the animal on the back remarked, “You’re too good to ride in these parts, and we’ll sent you to Old Abe.”  Wonder  if Jeff would give his “Kingdom for his horse,” as a certain royal rebel once proposed to do.

— The rebel Gen. Whiting,² before his death, sent to Gen. Butler, in writing a statement of the number of troops in Fort Fisher at the time of the first attack, of the Confederate force in supporting distance, and of Bragg’s troops n Wilmington, sand describes minutely the ineffectiveness of Porter’s five on the fort—so ineffective that the cannoniers were not driven from their guns—and made a case generally that overwhelmingly justified Gen. Butler’s withdrawal from the attack on Fort Fisher. Whiting said, among other things, that it was a matter of reproach against Bragg, in his army and at Richmond, that Butler’s small force was not captured bodily ; that Bragg had the troops and the position to have made the capture ; and he in turn charged it upon the stupidness of the Confederate commander that every soldier Butler had was not taken. The frank statement of Gen. Whiting is in testimony before the Committee on the Conduct of the War.  [Benjamin F. Butler, Braxton Bragg]

1.  James Chestnut, Jr. (1815-1885) was a South Carolina lawyer and politician, serving in the South Carolina House of Representatives (1840-45, 1850-51), the South Carolina Senate (1852-58), U.S. senator from South Carolina (1858-60), and South Carolina deputy to the Provision Confederate States Congress (1861-62). Chestnut helped to draft the Confederate Constitution. As aide to General P.G.T. Beauregard, he ordered the firing on Fort Sumter, and served at First Manassas (First Battle of Bull Run). In 1861 he was aide to Jefferson Davis, and in 1864 was promoted brigadier general. His wife was the well-known Civil War diarist, Mary Chestnut. After the War, he returned to his law practice and formed the Conservative Party of South Carolina.
2.  William Henry Chase “Little Billy” Whiting (1824-1865) graduated from West Point in 1845 and was a career military officer in the Corps of Engineers. He resigned his U.S. commission in February 1861 and was given a commission in the Confederate State Army as a major of Engineers. Like Chestnut, Whiting served on the staff of General P.G.T. Beauregard at the first Battle of Fort Sumter. Whiting then served under General Joseph E. Johnston as Chief Engineer of the Army of the Shenandoah and at the First Battle of Bull Run. He was promoted to brigadier general in July 1861, and became a brigade commander. In December 1861, Whiting sent a letter to Confederate President Jefferson Davis declining his assignment to command five fresh Mississippi regiments and instead gave unsolicited advice and criticism, earning himself a suspension from his rank and position. It was only due to General Joe Johnston’s protests that Whiting was reinstated to his rank. As a division commander, he participated in the Battle of Seven Pines, Jackson’s second Valley Campaign, and the Peninsula Campaign, including the battles of Gaines’ Mill and Malvern Hill. Whiting was promoted to Major General in February 1863, and  assigned command of the Department of North Carolina and Southern Virginia, briefly taking over the Petersburg Defenses in May 1864. By late 1864, Whiting found himself defending the district against Union forces in the Wilmington Campaign. Wounded in the right thigh and hip he was captured in the Second Battle of Fort Fisher. Whiting died March 10, 1865, in prison from wounds suffered during the fall of Fort Fisher.

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