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The Civil War Month by Month: Feb 1865

CW - 150

Civil War 150th anniversary

The Civil War 150th Anniversary

Interesting facts, links, and suggested books for each month of the Civil War.

February 1865

This Month's Events

  • 2 February. Confederate Generals Beauregard, Hill, and Smith meet near Augusta, Georgia to plan the defense of South Carolina. Anticipating an attack on Charleston, they plan an evacuation if necessary. Beauregard writes to President Jefferson, telling him that he does not have enough men to stop Sherman and asks for troops from Virginia and North Carolina. However, Lee has already sent a division commanded by General Robert Hoke to North Carolina to fight in defense of Wilmington and feels he can't spare more troops.
    As Sherman's troops move through they thoroughly destroy the railroads. The tracks are pulled up, the ties are burned, and the metal rails placed atop them to heat. The hot rails are then formed into donut shape and twisted with a special tool called a "Poe's railroad hook". The soldiers call the end result a "Lincoln gimlet". (Orlando Poe is Sherman's chief engineer. Having spent the war planning new and better ways of destruction, he will spend his postwar career building lighthouses.)

  • 3 February. President Lincoln meets with Confederate representatives aboard a ship anchored at Hampton Roads, Virginia to talk about peace. No agreement is reached and the conflict continues.

  • 5 February. Reports of the immense suffering of Union POW's at prisons such as Salisbury and Andersonville, cause General Ulysses S. Grant to order the resumption of prisoner exchanges. [See April 1864.]

  • 6 February. President Jefferson Davis turns over command of all the Confederate armies to Robert E. Lee. Until now, Davis has been the commander.

  • 12 February. The commander of Salisbury Prison warns the government in Raleigh that Confederate deserters and Union supporters may be planning to attack the town.

  • 16 February. Mary Boykin Chesnut, wife of a wealthy South Carolinian Confederate official, takes the train from Charlotte to Lincolnton, seeking refuge from the war. Her diary will become one of the best known accounts of the times.

  • 17 February. Sherman's troops reach Columbia, South Carolina which surrenders without a fight. In the previous 2 years the population had gone from 8,000 to 20,000, most of them refugees. Now this horde of people flee, many to to North Carolina on the railroad going to Charlotte. One of the last trains out is crammed inside and outside with over a thousand passengers. By the time the Union troops leave a few days later, much of the city will be burned and looted, partially as a result of the huge amounts of liquor passed out to the troops by the local inhabitants. Today 6 marks left by Federal guns can still be seen on the State Capitol.

  • 18 February. Union officer Galusha Pennypacker, age 20, becomes a brigadier general; he is still the youngest ever to hold this rank in the U. S. Army. He is also a Medal of Honor winner.
    The youngest Confederate general is a North Carolinian from Gates County, William P. Roberts, a cavalry officer.

  • 21 February. On the coast Confederate soldiers evacuate Wilmington, North Carolina; General Braxton Bragg feels he can no longer defend the city.

  • 23 February. General Joseph E. Johnston is called back into service [see July 1864] to lead the Army of Tennessee and assume command of Confederate forces opposing Sherman's march through the Carolinas. He travels from Lincolnton where he has been staying with his wife and sets up his first headquarters in Charlotte, taking over from General Beauregard who is convinced that Charlotte is Sherman's ultimate objective. [See next month.]

This Month's Fiction

Adult Fiction

Children's Nonfiction

Out from this place, by Joyce Hansen, pub. 1988, 135 p., call #: J H. This sequel to Which Way Freedom [see April 1864] follows Obi's companion in escape, Easter. She joins a group of slaves (including her beloved Jason) who are running away from their former master. They escape to the islands off the coast of South Carolina, where they work on a plantation for pay and, reportedly, will have have the opportunity to buy their land. Easter learns to read, then must make a decision: wait for Obi to come for her and continue to make inquiries about him or go to a real school in Philadelphia. Hansen has written another wonderful tale, showing the unfairness of the situations in which freed slaves often found themselves. The use of black dialect may slow down some readers at first, but it adds tremendously to the novel, making Easter spring to life. Although a familiarity with the first book isn't required, it does give readers a better background for the incidents to which Easter refers. Gr 6-9.

This Month's Non-Fiction

Adult Nonfiction

Children's Nonfiction

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