Document: Emerentiana Bowden to Abraham Lincoln, April 23, 1864
St Matthew’s Academy
Cor. 18th & N. York Avenue
Washington, D. C.
April 23rd, 1864.
Accept our heartfelt thanks for the Pardon of John Connor, prisoner in Fort Delaware, which, at our instance, you were so kind as to grant yesterday. You will ever have the prayers & blessing of the afflicted wife & four almost starving children whom you have relieved, and I might say, restored to life, by restoring to them, through their Father, the means of subsistence.1
1 For Lincoln’s order for the release of John Connor, see Collected Works, VII, 309.
May He upon whom we must all call for pardon be ever propitious to you, prays
1 In April 1864 General John M. Corse was sent on a mission up the Red River in order to take General Andrew J. Smith’s troops away from Nathaniel P. Banks’ command and move them to Mississippi. See Official Records, Series I, Volume 32, Part III, 244-45.
2 Lincoln had telegraphed Brayman and inquired if the general knew when Corse had departed the headquarters of General Banks. See Collected Works, VII, 308. For Brayman’s April 21 telegram to Stanton, see Official Records, Series I, Volume 34, Part III, 244.
The following Telegram received at Washington, 315. PM. April 23 1864.
From Ft Monroe
Dated, April 23 1864.
I have no doubt that I can exchange Capt McLean of the 9th Tenn Cavalry for Capt Ten Eycke of the Eighteenth (18) Infy.1
1 Senator John C. Ten Eyck of New Jersey had requested that a special prisoner exchange be arranged for Captain Tenodor Ten Eyck of the 18th U. S. Infantry. See Collected Works, VII, 310.
Benj F. Butler
Document: David Heaton to Salmon P. Chase, April 23, 18641
1 Heaton was a supervising special agent of the Treasury Department assigned to North Carolina.
For Yourself and
Newbern N. C.
April 23d 1864
2. oclock P. M.
Before this reaches you you will hear of this terrible disaster which has befallen our cause at Plymouth N. C. General Wessells has been compelled to surrender after a most desparate resistance. Our loss in killed & wounded is said to be three or four hundred while that of the enemy is reported at seventeen hundred.2
2 General Henry W. Wessells surrendered the Union garrison at Plymouth, North Carolina on April 20, 1864. The total Union casualties were over 2,800 including prisoners.
It is reported that the most inhuman acts have been perpetrated in the shooting of North Carolina soldiers & the cold blooded slaughter of Negroes wearing the federal uniform. I really fear that when the facts reach us it will be found that the Fort Pillow tragedy has been reenacted.3
3 The Fort Pillow massacre occurred on April 12, 1864 when black soldiers attempted to surrender and were given no quarter. General Wessells makes no mention of a similar occurrence upon the surrender of Plymouth, however Sergeant Samuel Johnson of the 2nd U. S. Colored Cavalry swore an affidavit in which he claimed to have witnessed Confederates killing any black man who possessed evidence of being affiliated with the Union Army. Official Confederate reports indicate that approximately 300 blacks were captured at Plymouth and a confidential letter from General Braxton Bragg to Governor Zebulon Vance authorized the governor to take possession of the captured blacks and return them to slavery. See Official Records, Series I, Volume 33, 295-301 and Series II, Volume 7, 78, 459-60. There are several documents in this collection that pertain to the Fort Pillow episode.
The rebel Iron Clad Ram built up the Roanoke & brought down so as to act in consert with the rebel land forces has been the direct cause of this great desaster. Had it not been for this Ram our gun boats could easily have held the River at Plymouth & the rebel army never could have taken our fortifications. This is known to be the fact by every intelligent man here. The Ram cleared the river, & this enabled the entire rebel army to fall upon the forts & litterally over whelmn them.
It is impossible at this moment to estimate fully the extent of our loss. I learn that 36 cannon have been taken including one two hundred pounder. The number of prisoners will exceed two thousand. The moral effect in this state to the rebel cause will be the greatest blow to us.
How soon the rebel army, flushed with victory, will make its appearance at the out posts of this place remains to be solved. The Iron clad Ram which has been prepared up the Nause River at Kingston is now ready & we know it is intended that she shall be brought down as soon as a sufficient land force can be brought to her assistance. We have no Ram to meet here -- nothing but wooden Gunboats & you can draw your own conclusions as to the result probable issue. I scarcely dare assert to you the small number of troops we have here but it seems necessary the truth should be told. Within these fortifications there is scarcely 3000 effective men, whereas we actually need ten thousand unless we could have a suitable Iron clad immediately.