Friday, June 19, 2015

June 19, 1865: "Juneteenth"

Major General Gordon Granger, U.S. Army
On this day 150 years ago, Union Major General Gordon Granger stood on the balcony of Galveston, Texas' Ashton Villa and read aloud his "General Order No. 3", announcing the total emancipation of any and all slaves remaining in bondage in Texas. Granger's proclamation marked the end of chattel slavery in the United States and the anniversary of this day is now celebrated as "Juneteenth."


Galveston, Tex., June 19, 1865.

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedman are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

By order of Major-General Granger:


Major and Assistant Adjutant-General.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

May 30, 1865: William T. Sherman says goodbye to his army

On this day 150 years ago, Major General William Tecumseh Sherman bid his army farewell in Special Field Orders No. 76.


The general commanding announces to the Armies of the Tennessee and Georgia that the time has come for us to part. Our work is done, and armed enemies no longer defy us. Some of you will go to your homes, and others will be retained in military service till further orders.

And now that we are all about to separate, to mingle with the civil world, it becomes a pleasing duty to recall to mind the situation of national affairs when, but little more than a year ago, we were gathered about the cliffs of Lookout Mountain, and all the future was wrapped in doubt and uncertainty.

Three armies had come together from distant fields, with separate histories, yet bound by one common cause--the union of our country, and the perpetuation of the Government of our inheritance. There is no need to recall to your memories Tunnel Hill, with Rocky-Face Mountain and Buzzard-Roost Gap, and the ugly forts of Dalton behind.

We were in earnest, and paused not for danger and difficulty, but dashed through Snake-Creek Gap and fell on Resaca; then on to the Etowah, to Dallas, Kenesaw; and the heats of summer found us on the banks of the Chattahoochee, far from home, and dependent on a single road for supplies. Again we were not to be held back by any obstacle, and crossed over and fought four hard battles for the possession of the citadel of Atlanta. That was the crisis of our history. A doubt still clouded our future, but we solved the problem, destroyed Atlanta, struck boldly across the State of Georgia, severed all the main arteries of life to our enemy, and Christmas found us at Savannah.

Waiting there only long enough to fill our wagons, we again began a march which, for peril, labor, and results, will compare with any ever made by an organized army. The floods of the Savannah, the swamps of the Combahee and Edisto, the "high hills" and rocks of the Santee, the flat quagmires of the Pedee and Cape Fear Rivers, were all passed in midwinter, with its floods and rains, in the face of an accumulating enemy; and, after the battles of Averysboro' and Bentonsville, we once more came out of the wilderness, to meet our friends at Goldsboro'. Even then we paused only long enough to get new clothing, to reload our wagons, again pushed on to Raleigh and beyond, until we met our enemy suing for peace, instead of war, and offering to submit to the injured laws of his and our country. As long as that enemy was defiant, nor mountains nor rivers, nor swamps, nor hunger, nor cold, had checked us; but when he, who had fought us hard and persistently, offered submission, your general thought it wrong to pursue him farther, and negotiations followed, which resulted, as you all know, in his surrender.

How far the operations of this army contributed to the final overthrow of the Confederacy and the peace which now dawns upon us, must be judged by others, not by us; but that you have done all that men could do has been admitted by those in authority, and we have a right to join in the universal joy that fills our land because the war is over, and our Government stands vindicated before the world by the joint action of the volunteer armies and navy of the United States.

To such as remain in the service, your general need only remind you that success in the past was due to hard work and discipline, and that the same work and discipline are equally important in the future. To such as go home, he will only say that our favored country is so grand, so extensive, so diversified in climate, soil, and productions, that every man may find a home and occupation suited to his taste; none should yield to the natural impatience sure to result from our past life of excitement and adventure. You will be invited to seek new adventures abroad; do not yield to the temptation, for it will lead only to death and disappointment.

Your general now bids you farewell, with the full belief that, as in war you have been good soldiers, so in peace you will make good citizens; and if, unfortunately, new war should arise in our country, "Sherman's army" will be the first to buckle on its old armor, and come forth to defend and maintain the Government of our inheritance.

By order of Major-General W. T. Sherman,

L. M. DAYTON, Assistant Adjutant-General.

Friday, May 29, 2015

May 29, 1865: President Johnson proclaims a partial amnesty

Many Americans, North and South, were eager to move the process of bringing the South back into the Union along as quickly as possible. On this day 150 years ago, President Andrew Johnson issued the following proclamation offering amnesty to most Southerners, but excluding members of certain classes.
Proclamation 134 - Granting Amnesty to Participants in the Rebellion, with Certain Exceptions 
May 29, 1865

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

Whereas the President of the United States, on the 8th day of December, A. D. 1863, and on the 26th day of March, A. D. 1864, did, with the object to suppress the existing rebellion, to induce all persons to return to their loyalty, and to restore the authority of the United States, issue proclamations offering amnesty and pardon to certain persons who had, directly or by implication, participated in the said rebellion; and

Whereas many persons who had so engaged in said rebellion have, since the issuance of said proclamations, failed or neglected to take the benefits offered thereby; and

Whereas many persons who have been justly deprived of all claim to amnesty and pardon thereunder by reason of their participation, directly or by implication, in said rebellion and continued hostility to the Government of the United States since the date of said proclamations now desire to apply for and obtain amnesty and pardon.

To the end, therefore, that the authority of the Government of the United States may be restored and that peace, order, and freedom may be established, I, Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, do proclaim and declare that I hereby grant to all persons who have, directly or indirectly, participated in the existing rebellion, except as hereinafter excepted, amnesty and pardon, with restoration of all rights of property, except as to slaves and except in cases where legal proceedings under the laws of the United States providing for the confiscation of property of persons engaged in rebellion have been instituted; but upon the condition, nevertheless, that every such person shall take and subscribe the following oath (or affirmation) and thenceforward keep and maintain said oath inviolate, and which oath shall be registered for permanent preservation and shall be of the tenor and effect following, to wit:

I,_________,do solemnly swear (or affirm, in presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States thereunder, and that I will in like manner abide by and faithfully support all laws and proclamations which have been made during the existing rebellion with reference to the emancipation of slaves. So help me God.

The following classes of persons are excepted from the benefits of this proclamation:

First. All who are or shall have been pretended civil or diplomatic officers or otherwise domestic or foreign agents of the pretended Confederate government.

Second. All who left judicial stations under the United States to aid the rebellion.

Third. All who shall have been military or naval officers of said pretended Confederate government above the rank of colonel in the army or lieutenant in the navy.

Fourth. All who left seats in the Congress of the United States to aid the rebellion.

Fifth. All who resigned or tendered resignations of their commissions in the Army or Navy of the United States to evade duty in resisting the rebellion.

Sixth. All who have engaged in any way in treating otherwise than lawfully as prisoners of war persons found in the United States service as officers, soldiers, seamen, or in other capacities.

Seventh. All persons who have been or are absentees from the United States for the purpose of aiding the rebellion.

Eighth. All military and naval officers in the rebel service who were educated by the Government in the Military Academy at West Point or the United States Naval Academy.

Ninth. All persons who held the pretended offices of governors of States in insurrection against the United States.

Tenth. All persons who left their homes within the jurisdiction and protection of the United States and passed beyond the Federal military lines into the pretended Confederate States for the purpose of aiding the rebellion.

Eleventh. All persons who have been engaged in the destruction of the commerce of the United States upon the high seas and all persons who have made raids into the United States from Canada or been engaged in destroying the commerce of the United States upon the lakes and rivers that separate the British Provinces from the United States.

Twelfth. All persons who, at the time when they seek to obtain the benefits hereof by taking the oath herein prescribed, are in military, naval, or civil confinement or custody, or under bonds of the civil, military, or naval authorities or agents of the United States as prisoners of war, or persons detained for offenses of any kind, either before or after conviction.

Thirteenth. All persons who have voluntarily participated in said rebellion and the estimated value of whose taxable property is over $20,000.

Fourteenth. All persons who have taken the oath of amnesty as prescribed in the President's proclamation of December 8, A. D. 1863, or an oath of allegiance to the Government of the United States since the date of said proclamation and who have not thenceforward kept and maintained the same inviolate.

Provided, That special application may be made to the President for pardon by any person belonging to the excepted classes, and such clemency will be liberally extended as may be consistent with the facts of the case and the peace and dignity of the United States.

The Secretary of State will establish rules and regulations for administering and recording the said amnesty oath, so as to insure its benefit to the people and guard the Government against fraud.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, the 29th day of May, A. D. 1865, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-ninth.


By the President:


Secretary of State.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

May 28, 1865: The shackling of Jefferson Davis ordered ended

On this day 150 years ago, Union Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton found out that Confederate President Jefferson Davis had, at some point after his arrival at Fortress Monroe, had his ankles placed into shackles. Davis had fought to avoid the procedure, which he regarded as degrading, but he was physically overpowered and shackled. Stanton ordered the shackles removed if Davis was still in them, and inquired as to the circumstances of Davis being shackled in the first place. The fortress' commander, Nelson A. Miles, responded.
WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington City, May 28, 1865.

Major-General MILES, Commanding, &c., Fort Monroe:

Please report whether irons have or have not been placed on Jefferson Davis. If they have been, when was it done, and for what reason, and remove them.


Secretary of War.

FORT MONROE, VA., May 28, 1865-2.30 p. m.

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War:

I have the honor to state, in reply to your dispatch, that when Jeff. Davis was first confined in the casemate the inner doors were light wooden ones without locks. I directed anklets to be put upon his ankes, which would not interfere with his walking, but would prevent his running, should he endeavor to escape. In the meanime I have changed the wooden doors for granted ones with locks and the anklets have been removed. Every care is taken to avoid any pretense for complaint, as well as to prevent the possibility of his escape.

I remain, with the highest respect, your obedient servant,



Wednesday, May 27, 2015

May 27, 1865: Halleck launches marriage campaign

On this day 150 years ago, Major General Henry W. Halleck, commanding the Union Military Division of the James took steps to encourage freed slaves to formalize their slave marriages with official, legally binding ceremonies. Aleck order was classic Halleck: on the surface it seems a silly attention to detail, but Halleck understood that henceforth the former slaves would be subject to the laws of property and inheritance as they related to marriage and foresaw the need for them to properly document what had previously only been informal arrangements.


Richmond, Va., May 27, 1865.

I. The attention of clergymen and magistrates, who are authorized by the laws of Virginia and North Carolina to perform marriage ceremonies, is respectfully called to the cases of colored me and women in their respective parishes and districts who have marital relations without contracting marital obligations. Such persons should be duly instructed in regard to their social and domestic duties, and especially in regard to their duty to support and educate their offspring. They must be made to understand that the laws of God, as well as the laws of their country, forbid their living together as man and wife without the colonization of marriage.

II. Military orders in regard to oaths and licenses to be taken before marriage will not be deemed applicable to colored persons, nor to those who may marry them unless a fee be charged, nor will any formalities be required which are not necessary for the completion of a civil contract of marriage by the laws of the State. All such marriages, however, should be duly registered and a proper certificate given tot eh parties. It is recommended that all fees in such cases be remitted and all unnecessary expenses discouraged.

III. It is hoped that all persons interested in ameliorating the condition of the colored race in improving their social character will use their influence in promoting the object in view.

By order of Major-General Halleck:


Assistant Adjutant-General.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

May 26, 1865: E. Kirby Smith surrenders the Army of the Trans-Mississippi

Major General Edward R.S. Canby, U.S. Army
When Confederate President Jefferson Davis fled Richmond on April 2, 1865, he had vague notions of rallying remaining Confederate troops west of the Mississippi River and continuing the war from there. Davis had, instead, been captured in Georgia, and far from continuing the fight, Confederate commanders like Lieutenant General E. Kirby Smith were doing all they could to halt the fighting without further bloodshed. Smith had sent a representative of his to negotiate with Edward R.S. Canby, the Union commander of the Military Division of West Mississippi, and on this day 150 years ago, Canby was able to report that Smith was ready to surrender.

New Orleans, May 26, 1865. (Received 3 p. m. 27th.)

Lieutenant-General GRANT,

Commanding U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:

The arrangements for the surrender of the Confederate forces in the Trans-Mississippi Department have been concluded. They include the men and material of both army and navy, and the Confederate military authorities will use their influence and authority to see that public property in the hands of the agents of the late rebel Government are duly surrendered to the U. S. authorities. I have arranged for the surrender of the troops and property within the limits of the Division of Missouri to the commander of that division, and ask General Pope to designate the commissionaires. I think it advisable, in order to prevent any possible complication on the Mexican frontier, that Steele's command should be sent to the Rio Grande without waiting for the Twenty-fifth Corps, if that should now be sent. If you approved, this will be done and I can at once add 4,000 colored to his command. Cavalry will be needed, but it cannot be sent by sea, but may march from Berwick Bay.


Major-General, Commanding.