Wednesday, Jan. 29, 1862
PONY-POWERED PARTY POOPERS PREVAIL
Even in wartime, even close to enemy lines or in this case the enemy
capital, life must go on, including the social aspects thereof.
Lee’s House, at Occoquan, Virginia, south of Washington, was the
scene of a small dance party being held by a group of Confederates
this day. Showing a distinct lack of social graces, a party of
Federal troops swooped down, quite without an invitation. A minor
skirmish ensued, and the revelers were compelled to disperse. In the
campaign against Hatteras Inlet, foul weather was still making it
difficult to get ships over the bar into the bay. The good news was
that the ship carrying the signal corps finally showed up. It had
been missing for two weeks and was feared sunk by the storms.
Thursday, Jan. 29, 1863
CONFEDERACY CURRENCY CONNIVANCE CONTINUES
Financing a new nation is never an easy prospect, and to have to
finance a war of independence at the same time is even harder.
Despite all resolve to the contrary, budget deficits may prove
almost impossible to avoid. Thus it was for the Confederacy, whose
Congress today authorized the borrowing of $15 million, a huge sum
for the time. A foreign middleman, French financier Emile Erlanger,
provided the funding. The deal, like many of the financial bailouts
that kept the Confederate government solvent, was probably arranged
by Secretary of War Judah Benjamin. After the war he would move to
England and write a law textbook that was used for a generation. In
the South he served so loyally he was never quite socially accepted,
because he was a Jew.
Friday, Jan. 29, 1864
BLOCKADE BRIBERY BOLDLY BRANDISHED
Blockade-running provided desperately needed resources to the
Confederacy, and blockade runners were careful to keep funds on hand
to pay off US Navy captains they might encounter on the seas. The
amounts had to be considerable, since they were compensated to
match. Lt. Cmdr James Chaplin, USN, was morally outraged by this,
and wrote today to Admiral Dahlgren about the situation: “They are
...in possession of the necessary funds to bribe, if possible,
captors for their release. Such an offer was made to myself of some
800 pounds .” The British pound was then the hardest currency in the
world, making the bribe worth some $4000 US, a not-inconsiderable
amount to ill-paid Naval officers.
Sunday, Jan. 29, 1865
SHERMAN’S SOLDIERS SHIFT SNEAKILY
Gen. William T. Sherman left his headquarters staff on Hilton Head
Island and rejoined his troops on the march. The wily Sherman had
been careful to spread his forces out on several roads, intending to
confuse any opposition about what town would be his initial
destination. Today, though, he made for the interior of South
Carolina. Communication arrived indicating that reinforcements were
on the way from Gen. George Thomas’ army in Tennessee. It was a
closely held secret that Thomas’ force was making for Wilmington.
Sherman began to slack off the pretense that he was heading anywhere
other than Columbia, South Carolina’s capital.
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