Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Colonel Charles Russell Lowell to Josephine Shaw Lowell, September 8, 1864 – 9 p.m.

Near Summit, 9 P. M., Sept. 8, 1864.

To-day has quite changed the face of things, — the Third Brigade (my brigade) has been broken up: the Second Massachusetts is transferred to the “Reserve Brigade,” and I take command thereof, Colonel Gibbs being transferred to command of Second Brigade: the change looks like making the Second Massachusetts a permanent member of the Army of the Potomac, or that portion of it which is here.1

I am now where, if there is anything to be done for Mr. Linkum2 in the way of fighting, I may have a chance to do it. Good-night, — it's dark and rainy and windy enough to make a move to-morrow certain, — it's just the night to injure forage and rations, and very naturally they have arrived.

1 The reorganization of General Merritt's Division was as follows: First Brigade, Brigadier-General Custer; Second Brigade, Brigadier-General Devin; Reserve Brigade, Colonel Lowell. The Reserve Brigade consisted of the First, Second, and Fifth United States Cavalry and the Second Massachusetts Cavalry; also Battery D (horse artillery) of the Second United States Artillery.

2 The negro “contrabands” called their far-off benefactor “Massa Linkum,” and the Union Army the “Linkum soldiers.”

SOURCE: Edward Waldo Emerson, Life and Letters of Charles Russell Lowell, p. 337, 460-1

Major-General John Sedgwick to Brigadier-General Lorenzo Thomas, January 23, 1863

Headquarters, January 23, 1863.
Brigadier-General L. Thomas,
Adjutant-General U. S. A., Washington.


I have the honour to submit to the Honourable Secretary of War the name of Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander S. Webb for the appointment of Assistant Inspector-General U. S. A.

Lieutenant-Colonel Webb has been in the service eight years, was Assistant Inspector of Artillery in the campaign on the Peninsula, and since that campaign Inspector-General of an army corps, all of the duties of which he performed with zeal and ability. As an Assistant Inspector-General I am sure he would perform the duties with credit to himself, and to the best interest of the service, as, in my opinion, he possesses unsurpassed qualifications for this particular service.

With the highest respect,
John Sedgwick,
Major-General Volunteers.

SOURCES: George William Curtis, Correspondence of John Sedgwick, Major-General, Volume 2, p. 88

Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Thursday, January 2, 1862

Cleared off moderately cold; quiet and beautiful weather. Remarkable season. Rode with Colonel Scammon about the works. Major Comly reports finding about one hundred and twenty muskets, etc., concealed in and about Raleigh; also twelve or fifteen contrabands arrived. What to do with them is not so troublesome yet as at the East. Officers and soldiers employ them as cooks and servants. Some go on to Ohio.

Nobody in this army thinks of giving up to Rebels their fugitive slaves. Union men might perhaps be differently dealt with — probably would be. If no doubt of their loyalty, I suppose they would again get their slaves. The man who repudiates all obligations under the Constitution and laws of the United States is to be treated as having forfeited those rights which depend solely on the laws and Constitution. I don't want to see Congress meddling with the slavery question. Time and the progress of events are solving all the questions arising out of slavery in a way consistent with eternal principles of justice. Slavery is getting death-blows. As an “institution,” it perishes in this war. It will take years to get rid of its debris, but the “sacred” is gone.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 173-4

Francis Lieber to Major-General Henry W. Halleck, May 20, 1863

New York, May 20, 1863.

My Dear General, — I have the copy of General Orders 100 which you sent me. The generals of the board have added some valuable parts; but there have also been a few things omitted, which I regret. As the order now stands, I think that No. 100 will do honor to our country. It will be adopted as a basis for similar works by the English, French, and Gcrmans. It is a contribution by the United States to the stock of common civilization. I feel almost sad in closing this business. Let me hope it will not put a stop to our correspondenee. 1 regret that your name is not visibly connected with this Code, You do not regret it, because you are void of ambition, — to a faulty degree, as it seems to me.  . . . I believe it is now time for you to issue a strong order, directing attention to those paragraphs in the Code which prohibit devastation, demolition of private property, &c. I know by letters from the West and the South, written by men on our side, that the wanton destruction of property by our men is alarming. It does incalculable injury. It demoralizes our troops; it annihilates wealth irrecoverably, and makes a return to a state of peace more and more difficult. Your order, though impressive and even sharp, might be written with reference to the Code, and pointing out the disastrous consequences of reckless devastation, in such a manner as not to furnish our reckless enemy with new arguments for his savagery. . . .

SOURCE: Thomas Sergeant Perry, Editor, The Life and Letters of Francis Lieber, p. 333-4

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: October 20, 1861

A lady, just from Washington, after striving in vain to procure an interview with the Secretary of War, left with me the programme of the enemy's contemplated movements. She was present with the family of Gen. Dix at a party, and heard their purposes disclosed. They meditate an advance immediately, with 200,000 men. The head of Banks's column is to cross near Leesburg; and when over, a movement upon our flank is intended from the vicinity of Arlington Heights. This is truly a formidable enterprise, if true. We have not 70,000 effective men in Northern Virginia. The lady is in earnest—and remains here.

I wrote down the above information and sent it to the President; and understood that dispatches were transmitted immediately to Gen. Johnston, by telegraph.

The lady likewise spoke of a contemplated movement by sea with gun-boats, to be commanded by Burnside, Butler, etc.

In the evening I met Mr. Hunter, and told him the substance of the information brought by the lady. He seemed much interested, for he knows the calm we have been enjoying bodes no good; and he apprehends that evil will grow out of the order of the Secretary of War, permitting all who choose to call themselves alien enemies to leave the Confederacy. While we were speaking (in the street) Mr. Benjamin came up, and told me he had seen the letter I sent to the President. He said, moreover, that he did not doubt the enemy intended to advance as set forth in the programme.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 86

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: January 20, 1864

And now comes a grand announcement made by the Yankee Congress. They vote one million of men to be sent down here to free the prisoners whom they will not take in exchange. I actually thought they left all these Yankees here on our hands as part of their plan to starve us out. All Congressmen under fifty years of age are to leave politics and report for military duty or be conscripted. What enthusiasm there is in their councils! Confusion, rather, it seems to me! Mrs. Ould says “the men who frequent her house are more despondent now than ever since this thing began.”

Our Congress is so demoralized, so confused, so depressed. They have asked the President, whom they have so hated, so insulted, so crossed and opposed and thwarted in every way, to speak to them, and advise them what to do.

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 280-1

Diary of Judith Brockenbrough McGuire: November 12, 1862

Spent yesterday at the hospital — very few patients. Our army in the Valley falling back; and the two armies said to be very near each other, and much skirmishing. Our dear W. B. N. had his horse shot under him a few days ago. This is fearful. Our country is greatly afflicted, and our dear ones in great peril; but the Lord reigneth — He, who stilleth the raging of the seas, can surely save us from our enemies and all that hate us — to Him do we look for help.

A Baltimore paper of the 11th gives an account of McClellan having been superseded by Burnside. We are delighted at this, for we believe McC. to be the better general of the two. It is said that he was complained of by Halleck for not pushing the army on, and preventing the capture of Harper's Ferry and the 11,000. McC. knew it could not be done, for he had General Jackson to oppose him! His removal was an unexpected blow to the North, producing great excitement. Oh that the parties there would fight among themselves! The Northern papers are insisting upon another “On to Richmond,” and hint that McC. was too slow about every thing. The “Young Napoleon” has fallen from his high estate, and returns to his family at Trenton! The Yankees are surely an absurd race, to say the least of them. At one moment extolling their generals as demi-gods, the next hurling them to the dust — none so poor as to do them reverence. “General McClellan is believed to have passed through Washington last night,” is the announcement of a late Yankee paper, of the idol of last week.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 170-1

Louis T. Wigfall to Jefferson Davis, April 10, 1861

charleston, 10 April, 1861.

No one now doubts that Lincoln intends War. The delay on his part is only to complete his preparations. All here is ready on our side. Our delay therefore is to his advantage, and our disadvantage. Let us take Fort Sumter, before we have to fight the fleet and the Fort. General Beauregard will not act without your order. Let me suggest to you to send the order to him to begin the attack as soon as he is ready. Virginia is excited by the preparations, and a bold stroke on our side will complete her purposes. Policy and Prudence are urgent upon us to begin at once. Let me urge the order to attack most seriously upon you.

L. T. Wigfall.

SOURCE: Louise Wigfall Wright, A Southern Girl in ’61, p. 36-7

Diary of Sarah Morgan: April 17, 1862

And another was silly little Mr. Butler, my little golden calf. What a — don't call names! I owe him a grudge for “cold hands,” and the other day, when I heard of his being wounded at Shiloh, I could not help laughing a little at Tom Butler’s being hurt. What was the use of throwing a nice, big cannon ball, that might have knocked a man down, away on that poor little fellow, when a pea from a popgun would have made the same impression? Not but what he is brave, but little Mr. Butler is so soft.

Then there was that rattle-brain Mr. Trezevant who, commencing one subject, never ceased speaking until he had touched on all. One evening he came in talking, and never paused even for a reply until he bowed himself out, talking still, when Mr. Bradford, who had been forced to silence as well as the rest, threw himself back with a sigh of relief and exclaimed, “This man talks like a woman!” I thought it the best description of Mr. Trezevant’s conversation I had ever heard. It was all on the surface, no pretensions to anything except to put the greatest possible number of words of no meaning in one sentence, while speaking of the most trivial thing. Night or day, Mr. Trezevant never passed home without crying out to me, “Ces jolis yeux bleus! and if the parlor were brightly lighted so that all from the street might see us, and be invisible to us themselves, I always nodded my head to the outer darkness and laughed, no matter who was present, though it sometimes created remark. You see, I knew the joke. Coming from a party escorted by Mr. Butler, Miriam by Mr. Trezevant,1 we had to wait a long time before Rose opened the door, which interval I employed in dancing up and down the gallery — followed by my cavalier — singing, —

“Mes jolis yeux bleus,
Bleus comme les cieux,
Mes jolis yeux bleus
Ont ravi son âme,” etc.;

which naïve remark Mr. Butler, not speaking French, lost entirely, and Mr. Trezevant endorsed it with his approbation and belief in it, and ever afterwards called me “Ces jolis yeux bleus.”

1 Note added at the time: “O propriety! Gibbes and Lydia were with us too.”

SOURCE: Sarah Morgan Dawson, A Confederate Girl's Diary, p. 8-10; Charles East, Sarah Morgan: The Civil War Diary of a Southern Woman, p. 41-3

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Wednesday, September 14, 1864

The troops that went from here after General Wheeler into eastern Tennessee about a month ago, returned this morning, coming in on the train. They did not succeed in capturing Wheeler, but they had several skirmishes with him, in one of which it is reported that the notorious General Morgan was killed.1 The expedition, made up of the Thirty-ninth Iowa and the Thirty-third Ilinois, experienced some hard marching. Dr. French, in charge of the hospital here and head physician of the sick wards, left today for Atlanta.

1 This was another false report.—Ed.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 215

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Major-General John Sedgwick to John A. Andrew, December 5, 1862

Washington, D. C, December 5, 1862.
To his Excellency,
John A. Andrew,
Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,


In compliance with your circular of the 5th ultimo, I have the honour to submit a brief report of the operations and actions of such Massachusetts regiments as have been under my command. On the 25th of February, 1862, I assumed command of the division previously commanded by Brigadier-General Stone, at that time doing important guard duty on the upper Potomac. The 15th, 19th, and 20th Massachusetts regiments formed a part of the division, and had for the four previous months performed active and arduous duty in guarding the river. The 15th and 20th were engaged in the battle of Ball's Bluff, and are reported to have behaved with great gallantry. On the 27th of February the division was ordered to Harper's Ferry to operate with General Banks in driving the enemy out of the Shenandoah Valley. This having been successfully accomplished without a general engagement, the division was ordered to Washington to form part of the Army of the Potomac, there embarking for the Peninsula.

We landed at Hampton, Virginia, March 30, 1862, and on the 5th of April found the enemy strongly entrenched around Yorktown. The siege lasted thirty days, and although no brilliant action was fought, skirmishing and picket warfare were carried on the whole time.

After the evacuation of Yorktown, the division formed a part of the expedition, under General Franklin, ordered up the York River to seize the railroads at West Point. The enemy having attempted to interrupt the landing, the 19th and 20th were engaged in the brilliant skirmish in which the enemy was repulsed. On the 31st of May the 15th and the 20th were engaged in the great battle of Fair Oaks. The 15th, as a part of Gorman's brigade, made a brilliant bayonet charge, which routed and drove the enemy from that portion of the field, and there we bivouacked. The next morning the enemy renewed the attack, but principally on Richardson's division, and these regiments were but partially engaged. During this time the 19th was performing important duty in guarding the bridge across the Chickahominy.

From this time until the movement on James River no action was fought, but the troops were constantly engaged in reconnoissances, skirmishes, picket duty, and labour of the most arduous kind. On the 30th of June we commenced the march upon James River. This was a scene of battles and combats the whole distance. In the morning the 20th, temporarily attached to Burns's brigade, was warmly engaged at Allen's Farm with a superior force, and behaved most handsomely. In the evening the battle at Savage's Station was fought, in which the 15th, 19th, and 20th were engaged, repulsing the enemy at every point. After a long night's march across White Oak Swamp, the next day found the same regiments at Glendale (Nelson's Farm), engaged with the enemy at close quarters for three hours, routing and driving them from the field. Another day's march, and daylight found them ready for action at Malvern Hill. After this day's hard fight another night's march brought them to Harrison's Landing.

During all this — marching by night, fighting by day, without rest, and short of rations — no troops ever behaved better. On the 3rd of August these regiments formed part of the force under General Hooker which retook and held Malvern Hill. On the 16th of August the evacuation of the Peninsula was commenced. The division marched via Yorktown to Newport News, embarked for Alexandria, landed the 29th, marched to Chain Bridge, returned to Alexandria, and then marched to the relief of General Pope's army.

After its retreat on Washington, the division formed a part of the army under General McClellan ordered in pursuit of Lee, then invading Maryland. On the 15th of September the enemy was found strongly posted in the passes of South Mountain, from which he was driven with great loss. On the 17th, near Sharpsburg, was fought the battle of Antietam, where these regiments (now greatly reduced in numbers) were in the hottest of the fight, as their list of killed and wounded testifies. As I was wounded early in the action, I had no opportunity of seeing them, and have not seen the reports of the Brigadiers, but have no reason to believe their conduct different from that on all other occasions. Since that the division marched to Harper's Ferry, Warrenton, and are now in front of Fredericksburg.

I have already forwarded through the military channels a list of officers and soldiers who were distinguished for gallantry and good conduct, recommending them for promotion; and I would again commend to your Excellency Colonel Lee of the 20th, Colonel Hinks, 19th, Lieutenant-Colonel Kimball, 15th, and Lieutenant-Colonel Palfrey of the 20th. Great credit is due these officers for the splendid condition in which their regiments were prepared for the field. The 15th and 19th are in my opinion fully equal to any in the service; the 20th was badly cut up at Ball's Bluff, many officers wounded and taken prisoners, and the regiment was thereby deprived of their services.

I have on two occasions strongly recommended the appointment of Colonel Hinks as Brigadier. He disciplined and brought into the field one of the finest regiments, and has been twice wounded while gallantly leading it in battle. I again urge the appointment and respectfully ask your Excellency's favourable endorsement.

I trust your Excellency will not think me presumptuous in offering you a suggestion in regard to promotions and appointments. The system, which seems to have been adopted and carried out to a limited extent, of promoting officers who by their gallantry and good conduct have merited it, is an excellent one, and I would not confine their promotion to their own regiments. I think it adds to an officer's usefulness to place him in a regiment in which he has no acquaintances, and this holds good to a greater extent in promotions from the ranks.

I would also call your attention to the importance of filling up the old regiments. Recruits sent to these learn their duties and become acquainted with the details of camp life much sooner, while they impart new life and vigour to the old regiments.

I have the honour to be, very respectfully,

Your Excellency's obedient servant,
John Sedgwick,
Major-General Volunteers

SOURCES: George William Curtis, Correspondence of John Sedgwick, Major-General, Volume 2, p. 82-7

Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Wednesday, January 1, 1862

Camp Union, Fayetteville, Virginia, Wednesday, New Year's Day, 1862. — Sun shone brightly an hour or two; mild winter weather, then windy and threatening. Rode with Colonel Scammon four or five miles southwest of town. Wind blew all day as if a storm were by brewing, but no rain or snow. I set it down as a pleasant day. Number 1 for January 1862.

At dinner, speaking of naming my boy, I said: “The name was all ready if I had heard that a daughter was born.” “Fanny Lucy" or “Lucy Fanny” — linking together the names of the two dear ones, wife and sister. Dear Fanny! what an angel she was, and, may I hope, now is.

Heard from home. Sergeant [John] McKinley, with letter and watch — tight, drunk, the old heathen, and insisting on seeing the madame! I didn't dream of that. He must be a nuisance, a dangerous one too, when drunk. A neat, disciplined, well-drilled soldier under rule, but what a savage when in liquor! Must be careful whom I send home.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 173

Francis Lieber to Senator Chares Sumner, April 10, 1863

New York, April 10,1863.

. . . I do not think that your remarks concerning foreign ministers having intercourse with the opposition apply to the case of Lord Lyons. Would or would not the premier of England have sent word to a monarch that his minister was no longer agreeable to his majesty, if this minister in London, a century ago, had held covert intercourse with Scottish sympathizers or adherents of the Stuarts? I believe that a minister must be very circumspect in his intercourse with the opposition, — as opposition, and in excited times. Depend upon it, Pitt would not have allowed a foreign minister to be closeted with Fox and Sheridan, discussing high politics of England, without making complaint. I give you an anecdote which will be interesting to the chairman of Foreign Affairs. President King tells me that when his father, Rufus King, was American Minister in London, he paid a visit to Paris after the Peace of Amiens, when Fox likewise went. Fox went to see Consul Bonaparte. The latter desired that King would have himself presented, or the chief officers of the consul told King that they would gladly present him. King, who was then engaged in making a treaty with England, declined, because he knew that Bonaparte was very disagreeable to George III., and he thought he had no right to do anything that could interfere with his relation to the British court or ministry. When he returned to England and went to court, George III. went up to him and said: “Mr. King, I am very much obliged to you; you have treated me like a gentleman, which is more than I can say of all my subjects.” I give the words exactly as President King gave them to me, and he says that he gave the words to me as exactly as he could remember them, the anecdote being in lively remembrance in the family. He thinks he can now repeat the very words in which his father told the affair immediately after his return from court, and that they are the ipsissima verba of George III.

My belief is that, had we to consider nothing but diplomatic propriety, Lord Lyons's case is one which not only would authorize the President, but ought to cause him to declare to the Queen of England that Lord Lyons “was no longer agreeable to the American Government.” This occurrence belongs to the large class of facts which show, and have shown for the last two hundred and fifty years, that monarchies always treat republics as incomplete governments, unless guns and bayonets and commercial advantages prevent them from doing so. You remember the Netherlands? Lord Palmerston would not have spoken of a puny kingkin as he did of us in the recent Alabama discussion. Do you believe that the course of England toward us at present would have been anything like what it has been, and continues to be, had we had a monarch, though there had been an Anne or a Louis XV, or a Philip on our throne? Unfortunately, I must add that it is a psychological phenomenon which is not restricted to monarchists. The insolence of the South would have presented itself as rank rebellion to the grossest mind, had we had a monarch, or a president for life. Man is a very coarse creature. I can never forget that I found in Crabbe's “Dictionary of Synonyms,” that “properly speaking rebellion cannot be committed in republics, because there is no monarch to rebel against.” What does my senator and publicist think of this? A girl, “not of an age at which any respectable millinery establishment would be intrusted to her,”as Lord Brougham expressed it, is a more striking name, figure, sign, to swear allegiance to, than a country, a constitution, and their history, or the great continuous society to which men belong, let them be ever so old or glorious. Five hundred years hence it may be somewhat different. For the present, it is true that, could you extinguish the whole royal family in England, but keep the nation ignorant of the fact, and rule England by a ministry and parliament in the name of Peter or John, Bull would be far warmer in his allegiance than he would prove to the State, or Old England, or Great Britain. Observe how degrading for our species the beggarly appointment of a king of Greece is, — a Danish collateral prince! Our race worships as yet the Daimio as much as the Japanese do. Though a perfect Roi fainéant, it is a Roi, — an entity, a thing, and therefore better than an idea, however noble,— gross creatures that we are! . . .

SOURCE: Thomas Sergeant Perry, Editor, The Life and Letters of Francis Lieber, p. 331-3

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: October 19, 1861

Col. Ashby with 600 men routed a force of 1000 Yankees, the other day, near Harper's Ferry. That is the cavalry again! The spies here cannot inform the enemy of the movements of our mounted men, which are always made with celerity.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 86

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: January 18, 1864

Invited to Dr. Haxall's last night to meet the Lawtons. Mr. Benjamin1 dropped in. He is a friend of the house. Mrs. Haxall is a Richmond leader of society, a ci-devant beauty and belle, a charming person still, and her hospitality is of the genuine Virginia type. Everything Mr. Benjamin said we listened to, bore in mind, and gave heed to it diligently. He is a Delphic oracle, of the innermost shrine, and is supposed to enjoy the honor of Mr. Davis's unreserved confidence.

Lamar was asked to dinner here yesterday; so he came to-day. We had our wild turkey cooked for him yesterday, and I dressed myself within an inch of my life with the best of my four-year-old finery. Two of us, my husband and I, did not damage the wild turkey seriously. So Lamar enjoyed the réchauffé, and commended the art with which Molly had hid the slight loss we had inflicted upon its mighty breast. She had piled fried oysters over the turkey so skilfully, that unless we had told about it, no one would ever have known that the huge bird was making his second appearance on the board.

Lamar was more absent-minded and distrait than ever. My husband behaved like a trump — a well-bred man, with all his wits about him; so things went off smoothly enough. Lamar had just read Romola. Across the water he said it was the rage. I am sure it is not as good as Adam Bede or Silas Marner. It is not worthy of the woman who was to “rival all but Shakespeare's name below.” “What is the matter with Romola?” he asked. “Tito is so mean, and he is mean in such a very mean way, and the end is so repulsive. Petting the husband's illegitimate children and left-handed wives may be magnanimity, but human nature revolts at it.” “Woman's nature, you mean!” “Yes, and now another test. Two weeks ago I read this thing with intense interest, and already her Savonarola has faded from my mind. I have forgotten her way of showing Savonarola as completely as I always do forget Bulwer's Rienzi.”

“Oh, I understand you now! It is like Milton's devil — he has obliterated all other devils. You can't fix your mind upon any other. The devil always must be of Miltonic proportions or you do not believe in him; Goethe's Mephistopheles disputes the crown of the causeway with Lucifer. But soon you begin to feel that Mephistopheles to be a lesser devil, an emissary of the devil only. Is there any Cardinal Wolsey but Shakespeare's? any Mirabeau but Carlyle's Mirabeau? But the list is too long of those who have been stamped into your brain by genius. The saintly preacher, the woman who stands by Hetty and saves her soul; those heavenly minded sermons preached by the author of Adam Bede, bear them well in mind while I tell you how this writer, who so well imagines and depicts female purity and piety, was a governess, or something of that sort, and perhaps wrote for a living; at any rate, she had an elective affinity, which was responded to, by George Lewes, and so she lives with Lewes. I do not know that she caused the separation between Lewes and his legal wife. They are living in a villa on some Swiss lake, and Mrs. Lewes, of the hour, is a charitable, estimable, agreeable, sympathetic woman of genius.'”

Lamar seemed without prejudices on the subject; at least, he expressed neither surprise nor disapprobation. He said something of “genius being above law,” but I was not very clear as to what he said on that point. As for me I said nothing for fear of saying too much. “You know that Lewes is a writer,” said he. “Some people say the man she lives with is a noble man.” “They say she is kind and good if — a fallen woman.” Here the conversation ended.

1 Judah P. Benjamin, was born, of Jewish parentage, at St. Croix in the West Indies, and was elected in 1852 to represent Louisiana in the United States Senate, where he served until 1861. In the Confederate administration he served successively from 1861 to 1865 as Attorney-General, Secretary of War, and Secretary of State. At the close of the war he went to England where he achieved remarkable success at the bar.

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 278-80

Diary of Judith Brockenbrough McGuire: November 7, 1862

The snow falling rapidly — the trees and shrubs in full leaf, and the rose-bushes, in bright bloom, are borne down by the snow. Our poor soldiers! What are they to do to-night, without shelter, and without blankets? Everybody seems to be doing what they can to supply their wants; many persons are having carpets made into soldiers' blankets. My brother J. told me that he had every chamber carpet in the house, except one, converted into coverlets; and this is by no means a singular instance. A number of coverlets, made of the most elegant Brussels carpeting, were sent by Mr. Bruce, of Halifax County, the other day, to our hospital, with a request to Miss Tompkins that blankets should be given from the hospital to the camp, as more easily transported from place to place, and the carpeting retained in the hospital. This was immediately done. The blankets that could be spared from private houses were given last winter. How it gladdens my heart when I see that a vessel has run the blockade, and arrived safely at some Southern port, laden with ammunition, arms, and clothing for the army! The Bishop and J. have just left us, for the council of the Southern Church, to meet at Augusta, Georgia. Oh that their proceedings may be directed by the All-wise Counsellor!

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 169-70

Charlotte Cross Wigfall to Louisa Wigfall, April 10, 1861

Charleston, April 10, 1861.

You see we are still here and it is quite impossible to say for how long a time. Your father has been with General Beauregard almost constantly since we came, until yesterday, when General Beauregard requested him to go on his staff, and since then he has been actively engaged in carrying out his orders. I suppose you know the condition of things from the papers — that the administration after their professions of peace have determined to re-inforce the Fort at all risks, and we are in hourly expectation of the arrival of the store-ship and the fleet sent to protect it. General Beauregard is only waiting for the arrival of the troops from the country to make the attack on the Fort. He is quite confident of the result, and God grant he may be right. We are all anxious enough as you may suppose.

SOURCE: Louise Wigfall Wright, A Southern Girl in ’61, p. 35-6

Diary of Sarah Morgan: April 16, 1862

Among the many who visited us, in the beginning of 1861, there was Mr. Bradford. I took a dislike to him the first time I ever saw him, and, being accustomed to say just what I pleased to all the other gentlemen, tried it with him. It was at dinner, and for a long while I had the advantage, and though father would sometimes look grave, Gibbes, and all at my end of the table, would scream with laughter. At last Mr. Bradford commenced to retaliate, and my dislike changed into respect for a man who could make an excellent repartee with perfect good-breeding; and after dinner, when the others took their leave, and he asked permission to remain, — during his visit, which lasted until ten o'clock, he had gone over such a variety of subjects, conversing so well upon all, that Miriam and I were so interested that we forgot to have the gas lit!

SOURCE: Sarah Morgan Dawson, A Confederate Girl's Diary, p. 8

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Tuesday, September 13, 1864

All is quiet here at Rome. Another large squad of men was sent from the hospital to the front at Atlanta. Nearly every day there are some leaving for their homes on furloughs. I received a letter today from Lewis Elseffer; he is now a clerk at the headquarters of the Seventeenth Army Corps.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 214

Monday, June 29, 2015

Diary of Sarah Morgan: April 12, 1862

Day before yesterday, just about this time of evening, as I came home from the graveyard, Jimmy unexpectedly came in. Ever since the 12th of February he has been waiting on the Yankees' pleasure, in the Mississippi, at all places below Columbus, and having been under fire for thirteen days at Tiptonville, Island No. 10 having surrendered Monday night; and Commodore Hollins thinking it high time to take possession of the ironclad ram at New Orleans, and give them a small party below the forts, he carried off his little aide from the McRae Tuesday morning, and left him here Thursday evening, to our infinite delight, for we felt as though we would never again see our dear little Jimmy. He has grown so tall, and stout, that it is really astonishing, considering the short time he has been away. . . . To our great distress, he jumped up from dinner, and declared he must go to the city on the very next boat. Commodore Hollins would need him, he must be at his post, etc., and in twenty minutes he was off, the rascal, before we could believe he had been here at all. There is something in his eye that reminds me of Harry, and tells me that, like Hal, he will die young.

And these days that are going by remind me of Hal, too. I am walking in our footsteps of last year. The eighth was the day we gave him a party, on his return home. I see him so distinctly standing near the pier table, talking to Mr. Sparks, whom he had met only that morning, and who, three weeks after, had Harry's blood upon his hands. He is a murderer now, without aim or object in life, as before; with only one desire — to die — and death still flees from him, and he Dares not rid himself of life.

All those dancing there that night have undergone trial and affliction since. Father is dead, and Harry. Mr. Trezevant lies at Corinth with his skull fractured by a bullet; every young man there has been in at least one battle since, and every woman has cried over her son, brother, or sweetheart, going away to the wars, or lying sick and wounded. And yet we danced that night, and never thought of bloodshed! The week before Louisiana seceded, Jack Wheat stayed with us, and we all liked him so much, and he thought so much of us; — and last week — a week ago to-day — he was killed on the battle-field of Shiloh.

SOURCE: Sarah Morgan Dawson, A Confederate Girl's Diary, p. 6-7

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Sunday, September 11, 1864

This is a quiet day. I have only five boys in my ward now with one nurse. The ward is to be closed in a few days and some of the wounded out in the tents will occupy it.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 214

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Monday, September 12, 1864

No news. We have received no mail and no late papers for some time, because the main railroad to Atlanta has been torn up by the rebels for some distance between Nashville and Chattanooga.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 214

Reverend Dr. Charles Hodge to the Editor of the Southern Presbyterian, January 3, 1861

Princeton, Jan. 3d, 1861.

My Dear Sir: — I received last evening a copy of the Southern Presbyterian, for Dec. 29th, 1860, containing a notice headed “The Princeton Review on the State of the Country.” The article in the Review thus denominated, you characterize as “an unfortunate, one-sided and lamentable attack upon the South.” I think, my dear sir, that it will promote the cause of truth and brotherly love which we both have at heart, if you will permit the Editor of the Review to state to your readers in few words the design of the article on which you pronounce so unfavorable a judgment.

It was intended to produce two effects within the limited range of its influence; first, to convince the South that the mass of Northern people are not abolitionists or hostile to the rights and interests of the South; and second, to convince the North that the course adopted by the abolitionists is unjust and unscriptural. You say that the writer of the article in question “affirms that the aggressions or grievances of which the South complains have no real existence.” The article, however, says that the South has “just grounds of complaint, and that the existing exasperation towards the North is neither unnatural nor unaccountable.” It says that “the spirit, language and conduct of the abolitionists is an intolerable grievance.” It says that “tampering with slaves is a great crime. That it is a grievance that would justify almost any available means of redress.” It admits that all opposition to the restoration of fugitive slaves, whether by individuals, by mobs or legislative enactments, is immoral, and that the South has a right to complain of all such opposition. It admits that the territories are the common property of the country, and that the South has the same rights to them that the North has, and it calls for an equal division of these territories on the plan of the Missouri compromise. The article does not deny the reality of the grievances complained of, but it denies that those grievances are justly chargeable on the people of the North. It endeavors to prove, by a simple process of arithmetic, that the abolitionists against whom these charges justly lie, are comparatively a mere handful of the people of the North. Southern men and ministers of the highest eminence pronounce the abolition party to be not only Antichristian but atheistic, to be perjured and instinct with the spirit of the French revolutionists, and then the North is pronounced to be thoroughly abolitionized. We know this to be untrue. We know this to be a false judgment pronounced upon thousands and hundreds of thousands of pious, God-fearing people. We hold it, therefore, to be a solemn duty to all concerned to show that such judgment is altogether unfounded, in fact. Such is the main design of the article in question. Whatever may be thought of its execution, the design must of necessity commend itself to every good man. If Southern men knew the North as we know it, they would no more think of secession than they would of suicide. We have done what we could out of a pure conscience to convince the South that we are not hostile to its rights and interests. If our Southern brethren take this in evil part we shall deeply regret it, but cannot repent of what has the full assent of our reason and conscience.

* * * It nowhere advocates coercion in the present crisis. It deprecates all appeal to force, and urges acquiescence in the recommendation of a convention of the States, that disunion, if it must come, may at least be peaceably effected.

Your friend and fellow-servant,

Editor Of The “Princeton Review.”

SOURCE: Archibald Alexander Hodge, The Life of Charles Hodge, p. 462-3

Horace Bushnell, December 8, 1860

Clifton Springs, December 8,1860.

You want to know about every where and what and why and wherefore of our very idle, insignificant life. We go to bed, we get up, we look about, we yawn, stretch, and yawn again. And to this I sometimes add a little coughing. As to weather, we do not have any, or it is so mixed that nobody can tell what it is. The cold I had has either not left me, or it has left me not improved.

The state of the country discomposes and untones everything. What is to be the end of it? I do not exactly like the temper of our Republicans, — The Independent, for example, and The Tribune. There is too much of a provoking uppishness that wants dignity, and can only be mischievous in its effects. My Thanksgiving sermon was on this subject, the same that I delivered on the census a year ago, with some filling added. My conviction of the want of such a view just now has induced me to send it on to Hartford, where it is setting up for the press. You will see it in due time, and I guess will not be displeased by it. If you are, why, then I will secede.

SOURCE: Mary A. Bushnell Cheney, Editor, Life and Letters of Horace Bushnell, p. 442

Reverend James Henley Thornwell to Reverend Dr. John Leighton Wilson, January 7, 1861

TheOlogical Seminary, January 7, 1861.

My Dear Brother: Your two letters have both been received; and I was delighted to find what, of course, I was prepared to expect, that your heart and your sympathies are fully with the people of your native State. Every day convinces me more and more that we acted at the right time and in the right way. Georgia will be out of the Union tomorrow, or the next day. Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas will speedily follow; and we shall soon have a consolidated South. The rumours about mob law in this State are totally and meanly false. The internal condition of our society never was sounder and healthier. The law never was so perfectly supreme. Every right and interest of the citizen is completely protected; and our people are bound together in ties of mutual confidence, so strong that even private feuds are forgotten and buried. The whole State is like a family, in which the members vie with each other in their zeal to promote the common good. There is even little appearance of excitement. All is calm and steady determination. It is really a blessing to live here now, to see how thoroughly law and order reign in the midst of an intense and radical revolution. You need not fear that our people will do anything rash. They will simply stand on the defensive. They will permit no reinforcements to be sent to Charleston; and if Fort Sumter is not soon delivered up to them, they will take it. In a few days we shall be able to storm it successfully. We shall take the Fort, not as an act of war, but in righteous self-defence. We do not want war. We prefer peace. But we shall not decline the appeal to arms, if the North forces it upon us.

I have just concluded a defence of the secession of the Southern States, which will soon be out in the Southern Presbyterian Review. It is the last article, and is already advanced in printing. I shall have a large edition in pamphlet form struck off. To me it appears to be conclusive; you can judge for yourself, when you see it. Dr. Hodge's article has been received with universal indignation.  *  *  *

The contributions to Foreign Missions among us will certainly fall off. We shall not be in a condition to contribute as we have done.

SOURCE: Benjamin Morgan Palmer, The Life and Letters of James Henley Thornwell, p. 486-7

Dr. John Leighton Wilson to Dr. Charles Hodge, December 19, 1860

23 Centre Street, N. Y., December 19, 1860.
Dr. Hodge:

My Dear Brother, — Your article on the “State of the Country” did not reach me until yesterday. I have read it and re-read it, and I do not regard it as a “fire-brand,” as Dr. Boardman does. If it contains some things that would irritate the Southern people, it also contains much to soothe and command their respect. Dr. Thornwell, I understand, is preparing an article on the same subject, and I would not, if I could, abridge your liberty. [Then follow many pages.] But I will not pursue this subject further. Perhaps I have already said a great deal more than you bargained for, or are ready to read. I desire and pray most earnestly for the preservation of the whole Union. If the North will concede what is just, and what the South imperatively needs, the Union may be saved. Otherwise, we go to pieces. There are certain things in your article which the North ought to hear, and there are others which the South ought to hear. But whether upon the whole it will do more good or harm, I am not prepared to say. One thing I know, if my heart and your arm were united, and we could carry out our desires, the North would soon be compelled to relinquish some of her unjustifiable positions. As it is, my only hope is in God, and I love to lay the matter before him.

Yours as ever, truly and affectionately,
J. Leighton Wilson.

SOURCE: Hampden C. DuBose, Memoirs of Rev. John Leighton Wilson, D.D., p. 243-4

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Congressman Horace Binney to Francis Lieber, February 8, 1860

Philada., Feb. 8, 1860.

. . . The safer principle to adopt in regard to the Dred Scott case, I think, is, that when the Constitution has been interpreted on a contested point, by the Supreme Court, and that interpretation practically followed for more than half a century, no contrary decision by the same court can have the least authority whatever. This is the specific rule that I would apply.

There is no Constitution without it. If the Dred Scott case is followed, we have no unchanging Constitution whatever. It will be “alia lex Romœ, alia Athenis, alia nunc, alia posthac. Cicero had no notion of such a law.

They talk of overruling the former decisions and practice. Whoever heard of such a thing being done by the same tribunal? How can it overrule its own body, confirmed by the decisions of Presidents over and over again, and by the laws of the Representatives of the people? The judges have done an awful thing, as I have already told you; and my word for it, it will not stand one moment if this government stands. You know how the Amphictyonic Council fell when it went into politics and decided corruptly between Sparta and Thebes. So it will be here, unless the Dred Scott case is brushed away. . . .

SOURCE: Charles Chauncey Binney, The Life of Horace Binney: With Selections from His Letters, p. 296-7

Review: Hallowed Ground

By James M. McPherson

In 2003 Crown Publishing released “Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg,” written by James M. McPherson, the George Henry Davis '86 Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University, and author of the Pulitzer Prize winning “Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era.”

Having over the years led countless tours of Gettysburg National Military Park, Dr. McPherson leads his readers on a tour of the battlefield, stopping at Seminary Ridge, the Peach Orchard, Cemetery Hill and Little Round Top, as well as many other key sites related to the pivotal battle which in conjunction with the surrender of Vicksburg, Mississippi marked a turning point in the American Civil War.  McPherson reflects on the meaning of the battle and sets Battle of Gettysburg in its proper context in American and World history, while describing the action of the battle at each site. He debunks many popular myths about the battle, and relays stories of his own encounters.

Zenith Press has recently given Dr. McPherson’s text a bit of a facelift with its new release of “Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg – The Illustrated Edition,” enhancing it with period photographs, color photographs (many of which are modern photographs of the battlefield and its monuments), maps, paintings and illustrations.  Many of the books photographs and artwork consume an entire page and sometimes even a two-page spread.  Zenith Press transformed McPherson’s 2003 book from its original 144 page, 5.2 x 7.9 x 0.6 inch size to a 9.6 x 11.2 x 0.9 inch coffee table book of 224 pages. The illustrated edition has given more depth to McPherson’s original text, and in the process has made a beautiful book just to sit and thumb through.

McPherson is often accused of resting on the laurels he received for “The Battle Cry of Freedom,” by writing “popular history” books for eager readers who will buy his books; that his books forgo historical detail and new research, to appeal to a wider and more general reading audience.  Even the topic of Gettysburg can set some academically minded reader’s eyes spinning to the back of their heads.  With hundreds of titles dedicated to the three-day battle of July 1st – 3rd, 1863 why do we need yet another book on Gettysburg.  Indeed there is some validity in both arguments, but Dr. McPherson knows his audience, and as long as there are people willing to buy books about the Battle of Gettysburg, there will be people who will write them.  Putting James M. McPherson’s cachet as one of this country’s greatest historians together with Gettysburg as a topic seems like a win-win scenario for publishers, and making an illustrated edition is a brilliant marketing strategy.

ISBN 978-0760347768, Zenith Press, © 2015, Hardcover, 224 glossy pages, Photographs & Illustrations, Maps, & Index. $35.00.  To purchase a copy of this book click HERE.

Lieutenant William Thompson Lusk to Elizabeth Adams Lusk, August 5, 1861

Aug. 5th, 1861.
My dear Mother:

Living now quietly without excitement, the events of two weeks ago have become like a dream. Our camp is beautifully situated on Meridian Hill in the suburbs of Washington, and overlooks an enchanting prospect of the city, and the green banks of the Potomac. The air is fresh and healthy, and sickness which has been very prevalent among the men, is now breaking up, and a better appearance is beginning to be seen in the camp. Still the shock we received in the last battle was very great. I have written how great our loss was, and that the same was most heavy among our officers. Fifteen of them, six Captains and nine Lieutenants, nearly half of the entire number, were lost to us that day. On our return to Fort Corcoran after the battle, having walked over thirty miles from the battlefield, having been thirty-six hours without food or sleep, consequently exhausted from fatigue, hunger, and want of rest, we hoped to be allowed to throw ourselves anywhere, and to get a mouthful of anything to eat. The rain poured in torrents and we were soaked to our skins. There was not a cracker to be had at the quarters; there was not a tent to shelter us. We crawled into an old barn. Sherman, the commander of our brigade, ordered us to come out and stand in the rain. Many of the men were desperate. They became clamorous for food. Sherman sneered at them for such unsoldierly conduct. They begged for some place to rest. He bade them sleep on the ground. They had no blankets, many not even a jacket, and all were shivering in the wet. The soil was oozy with water, and deep puddles lay everywhere. The men became querulous. Sherman grew angry, called them a pack of NewYork loafers and thieves.

Oh ye Patriots, was not this a spectacle! Afterward Sherman visited the camp with President Lincoln. The men had grown sullen. As he drove by, they besieged his carriage, hooted him, and reminded him who it was that first basely deserted us on the battlefield, turning his horse's head from us, and leaving us to our fate.

President Lincoln ordered his coachman to drive away.

Affairs were now interesting. Lieut.-Col. Elliott visited the Secretary of War — denounced the conduct of Sherman in the plainest language. Everything served to corroborate his testimony. The Secretary of War then removed us to our present encampment, and placed us in the Brigade of Gen'l Mansfield. We are now doing well, but the past is not forgotten. The men feel that they were wronged, and are discontented; officers feel that they were insulted, and have resigned. Those of us who remain by the Regiment are a mere handful. Under these circumstances, and because the men fought well at Manassas, the Government has concluded to send us to some one of the forts near New-York for a short time, there to recruit, and restore the organization of the Regiment. As it is now, whole companies are without officers. It is thought in a short time we may again be upon a war footing, and ready to win fresh laurels, only laurels that are worn after victory, not the mournful ones that even the defeated may wear after a manful struggle.

I am very much entertained and amused to hear of your accounts of my heroic deeds. You don't know the half of them. I won't pretend to say how many I killed in the fight. About five hundred, I suppose — most of them Colonels, only a few ranking less than a Major. You say you read in the Tribune the statement of the bearing away the body of our good Colonel, made by Lieut. S. R. Elliott, a reliable witness. Yes, my dear Mother, I was one of the little band mentioned in the paragraph, but regarding that dreadful bomb-shell which, exploding, killed five of us, I can only say that I didn't see it. The story originated with the correspondent of the Tribune, who called one night in a beastly state of intoxication, upon Colonel Elliott to inquire the particulars of the fight. We were all somewhat astonished at the particulars as they appeared the next day in the papers. You may have read too, how a certain Captain ––– repeatedly rallied us, and led us back to the fight. Captain ––– was not near the field of battle the whole day, but being a small politician, he stayed at home and composed an account of his gallantry, in which perhaps there was much wisdom. You see, Mother, what reports are worth, and I positively deny all stories regarding myself, with the exception, of course, of such authentic anecdotes as my having killed several hundred Colonels, Lieut.-Colonels and Majors with a ram-rod, which served me as the jaw-bone did Sampson when he went out against the Philistines.

Your letters reach me now with the utmost regularity. Thank Lilly for her kind letter too. I have been looking for Hunt all day to-day. I suppose I shall see you when we are transferred, perhaps to Fort Schuyler.

I was sorry not to see Mrs. Tyler when here.

Very Affec'y.,
William T. Lusk,
Lieutenant Co. K. 79th Regiment.

SOURCE: William Chittenden Lusk, Editor, War Letters of William Thompson Lusk, p. 67-9

Captain William F. Bartlett to Lieutenant-Colonel Francis W. Palfrey, January 3, 1863

Headquarters Remainder Banks' Expedition,
No. 194 Broadway, New York, January 3, 1863.

. . . . A great many perplexing questions have come up during the week, involving heavy responsibilities, — the ordering of the various ships to sea, — telegraphing with the Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of War in regard to duties on coal, etc., etc.

I have kept a stiff upper lip. Imagine me being asked for advice and authority to do this and that, by Commodore Van Brunt, Commodore Vanderbilt, U. S. quartermasters here, and “sich like.” In cases of doubt, which have required my authority and decision, I have kept an old maxim of mine before me. Do that, which according to your impartial judgment, tends most to promote the “good of the service.”

It has carried me safely through so far. . . . .

SOURCE: Francis Winthrop Palfrey, Memoir of William Francis Bartlett, p. 55-6

Diary of Gideon Welles: Friday, September 19, 1862

Am vexed and disturbed by tidings from the squadron off Mobile. Preble, by sheer pusillanimous neglect, feebleness, and indecision, let the pirate steamer Oreto run the blockade. She came right up and passed him, flying English colors. Instead of checking her advance or sinking her, he fired all round, made a noise, and is said to have hurt none of her English crew. This case must be investigated and an example made. Had been dismissed, this would not have occurred. Nothing from the army, except that, instead of following up the victory, attacking and capturing the Rebels, they, after a day's armistice, are rapidly escaping over the river. McClellan says they are crossing and that Pleasanton is after them. Oh dear! I am not writing a history of the War or its events herein. That will be found in the books. But I record my own impressions and the random speculations, views, and opinions of others also.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 1: 1861 – March 30, 1864, p. 140-1

Diary of Salmon P. Chase: Sunday, September 14, 1862

Went to Methodist Church. Mr. Brown preached good sermon. — Afterwards called to enquire for Mrs. Douglas, who, I found, had passed a bad night, but was better.

Went to War Department. Despatches from McClellan to the President — also to Genl. Halleck. First, complimentary respects to Mrs. Lincoln; ladies enthusiastic welcome of McClellan and his army “us.” The second states getting possession of Lee's Order to Hill of 10th. troops from various directions to attack Martinsburg and Harpers Ferry on the 12th. — capture both — and then reunite at Hagerstown; — White had anticipated the enemy by joining Miles at Harpers Ferry, where the enemy made vigorous attack yesterday; — courier from Miles says he can hold out two days, but enemy is in possession of Maryland Heights; —  McC. hopes before two days to relieve Miles—is already in possession of Middleton and Jefferson; — estimates rebel force in Maryland at 125,000 thinks defeat of his army would be ruinous, and therefore better to spare all troops from Washington than suffer it; — anticipates great battle tomorrow, Monday; — enemy don't mean to go back to Virginia, but thinks Lee has blundered and hopes to make him repent of it. — Watson rode with me.

Read several books, especially article in “Revue des deux Mondes” on the soul. In the evening, Mr. Case called and talked of Politics and Spiritualism — especially the last, in which he is a firm believer. Says he receives letters from the inhabitants of the Sixth and other Spheres, among whom are Calhoun, Brutus and others that there is a council of the 6th., presided over by Washington, to which the control of this war is committed; that Richmond will be taken about Dec. 1st., and Charleston early in the Spring. — Dr. Rabe called and talked over California matters. Seems to have been very unfairly and unjustly dealt with. Thinks Hoffman excellent man — also Sharp, Dist. Atty. Thinks Phelps or , a partisan of Fremont, will be elected Senator. Rand, new Marshal, is one of Palmer, Cook & Co. set. Advised him to examine papers, and, if possible, refute charges and be restored.

Mr. Varnum, of N. Y., and his cousin, from Mass., came in and talked a little. Nothing important.

SOURCE: Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1902, Vol. 2, p. 81-2

Governor Salmon P. Chase to James S. Pike, March 19, 1860

Columbus, March 19, 1860.

My Dear Friend: Your letter came just as an imperious business necessity compelled me to go to Cincinnati. Returning, I found the announcement that it is determined to suspend the publication of the Era. The necessity of this step is greatly to be deplored. Surely a very little activity among our friends at Washington might have averted it. I fear the effect of it upon any attempt to obtain the surrender of the certificates in the Chicago Block Property. If I were only able I would myself take the responsiblity of carrying it on through the year; but I am literally exhausted by the expense of my residence here for the past four years, coupled with the great depreciation of property in the State.

I regret now that I did not recommend Mr. French to you. Although not the man to take the helm of the Era exactly, he is prompt, talented, and faithful, and might have organized a support which would have continued it. I believe I will write to him yet on the subject. Meantime please let me know what you are doing or propose to do, what propositions are made, if any, etc., etc.

As to the Chicago nomination, I possess my soul in patience. That I shall have some friends outside of Ohio who prefer me to all others, I know; that many more prefer me as a second choice is plain enough. What the result will be nobody can tell. If I were certain of the nomination I can hardly tell whether I should be more gratified by the confidence implied in it, or alarmed by the responsibilities and trials which it would impose. There seems to be at present a considerable set towards Seward. Should the nomination fall to him, I shall not at all repine. If the best interests of our cause and country will be best promoted by it, I shall not only not repine, but shall rejoice. Many, however, think he cannot be nominated; many, that if nominated he cannot be elected; many, that if elected, his administration will divide the Republicans, reorganize the Democracy, and insure its triumph. Situated as I am, I cannot enter into these speculations, but prefer to let opinions form themselves.

I wish I could come to Washington without seeming to seek votes. If I could, I would. There are some things of a business nature I want to do, and there are friends I want to see. But I suppose it will not do for me at present. I would rather never have a place than seem even to be importunate for it.

Give my best love to the children, and believe me,

Affectionately and faithfully yours,
S. P. Chase.

SOURCE: James Shepherd Pike, First Blows of the Civil War: The Ten Years of Preliminary Conflict in the United States from 1850 to 1860, p. 502-3

Joseph Holt to Major Robert Anderson, January 10, 1861

War Department,
January 10, 1861.
Major Robert Anderson,
First Artillery, Commanding at Fort Sumter, S. C.:

sir: Your dispatches to No. 16, inclusive, have been received. Before the receipt of that of 31st December,* announcing that the Government might re-enforce you at its leisure, and that you regarded yourself safe in your present position, some two hundred and fifty instructed recruits had been ordered to proceed from Governor's Island to Fort Sumter on the Star of the West, for the purpose of strengthening the force under your command. The probability is, from the current rumors of to-day, that this vessel has been fired into by the South Carolinians, and has not been able to reach you. To meet all contingencies, the Brooklyn has been dispatched, with instructions not to cross the bar at the harbor of Charleston, but to afford to the Star of the West and those on board all the assistance they may need, and in the event the recruits have not effected a landing at Fort Sumter they will return to Fort Monroe.

I avail myself of the occasion to express the great satisfaction of the Government at the forbearance, discretion and firmness with which you have acted, amid the perplexing and difficult circumstances in which you have been placed. You will continue, as heretofore, to act strictly on the defensive; to avoid, by all means compatible with the safety of your command, a collision with the hostile forces by which you are surrounded. But for the movement, so promptly and brilliantly executed, by which you transferred your forces to Fort Sumter, the probability is that ere this the defenselessness of your position would have invited an attack, which, there is reason to believe, was contemplated, if not in active preparation, which must have led to the effusion of blood, that has been thus so happily prevented. The movement, therefore, was in every way admirable, alike for its humanity [and] patriotism, as for its soldiership.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. Holt,
Secretary of War ad interim.

* Received January 5, 1861.

SOURCES: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 1 (Serial No. 1), p. 136-7; Samuel Wylie Crawford, The Genesis of the Civil War: The Story of Sumter, 1860-1861, p. 151

Diary of William Howard Russell: Sunday, April 14, 1861

A night of disturbed sleep, owing to the ponderous thumping of the walking beam close to my head, the whizzing of steam, and the roaring of the steam-trumpet to warn vessels out of the way — mosquitoes, too, had a good deal to say to me in spite of my dirty gauze curtains. Soon after dawn the vessel ran alongside the jetty at Fortress Monroe, and I saw indistinctly the waterface of the work which is in some danger of being attacked, it is said, by the Virginians. There was no flag on the staff above the walls, and the place looked dreary and desolate. It has a fine bastioned profile, with moat and armed lunettes — the casemates were bricked up or occupied by glass windows, and all the guns I could make out were on the parapets. A few soldiers were lounging on the jetty, and after we had discharged a tipsy old officer, a few negroes, and some parcels, the steam-pipe brayed —it does not whistle— again, and we proceeded across the mouth of the channel and James River towards Elizabeth River, on which stand Portsmouth and Gosport.

Just as I was dressing, the door opened, and a tall, neatly dressed negress came in and asked me for my ticket. She told me she was ticket-collector for the boat, and that she was a slave. The latter intelligence was given without any reluctance or hesitation. On my way to the upper deck I observed the bar was crowded by gentlemen engaged in consuming, or waiting for, cocktails or mint-juleps. The latter, however, could not be had just now in such perfection as usual, owing to the inferior condition of the mint. In the matter of drinks, how hospitable the Americans are! I was asked to take as many as would have rendered me incapable of drinking again; my excuse on the plea of inability to grapple with cocktails and the like before breakfast, was heard with surprise, and I was urgently entreated to abandon so bad a habit.

A clear, fine sun rose from the waters of the bay up into the purest of pure blue skies. On our right lay a low coast fringed with trees, and wooded densely with stunted forest, through which creeks could be seen glinting far through the foliage. Anxious looking little wooden lighthouses, hard set to preserve their equilibrium in the muddy waters, and bent at various angles, marked the narrow channels to the towns and hamlets on the banks, the principal trade and occupation of which are oyster selling and oyster eating. We are sailing over wondrous deposits and submarine crops of the much-loved bivalve. Wooden houses painted white appear on the shores, and one large building with wings and a central portico surmounted by a belvedere, destined for the reception of the United States sailors in sickness, is a striking object in the landscape.

The steamer in a few minutes came along-side a dirty, broken-down, wooden quay, lined with open booths, on which a small crowd, mostly of negroes, had gathered. Behind the shed there rose tiled and shingled roofs of mean dingy houses, and we could catch glimpses of the line of poor streets, narrow, crooked, ill-paved, surmounted by a few church-steeples, and the large sprawling advertisement-boards of the tobacco-stores and oyster-sellers, which was all we could see of Portsmouth or Gosport. Our vessel was in a narrow creek; at one side was the town — in the centre of the stream the old “Pennsylvania,” intended to be of 120 guns, but never commissioned, and used as receiving ship, was anchored — alongside the wall of the Navy Yard below us, lay the “Merrimac,” apparently in ordinary. The only man-of-war fit for sea was a curiosity — a stumpy bluff-bowed, Dutch-built looking sloop, called the "Cumberland." Two or three smaller vessels, dismasted, were below the “Merrimac,” and we could just see the building-sheds in which were one or two others, I believe, on the stocks. A fleet of oyster-boats anchored, or in sailless observance of the Sunday, dotted the waters. There was an ancient and fishlike smell about the town worthy of its appearance and of its functions as a seaport. As the vessel came close along-side, there was the usual greeting between friends, and many a cry, “Well, you've heard the news? The Yankees out of Sumter! Isn't it fine!” There were few who did not participate in that sentiment, but there were some who looked black as night and said nothing.

Whilst we were waiting for the steam ferry-boat, which plies to Norfolk at the other side of the creek, to take us over, a man-of-war boat pulled along-side, and the coxswain, a handsome, fine-looking sailor, came on deck, and, as I happened to be next him, asked me if Captain Blank had come down with us? I replied, that I did not know, but that the captain could tell him no doubt. “He?” said the sailor, pointing with great disgust to the skipper of the steamer. “Why he knows nothin’ of his passengers, except how many dollars they come to,” and started off to prosecute his inquiries among the other passengers. The boat along-side was clean, and was manned by six as stout fellows as ever handled an oar. Two I made sure of were Englishmen, and when the coxswain was retiring from his fruitless search, I asked him where he hailed from. “The Cove of Cork. I was in the navy nine years, but when I got on the West Ingy Station, I heerd how Uncle Sam treated his fellows, and so I joined him.” “Cut and run, I suppose?” “Well, not exactly. I got away, sir. Emigrated, you know!” “Are there any other Irishmen or Englishmen on board?” “I should think there was. That man in the bow there is a mate of mine, from the sweet Cove of Cork; Driscoll by name, and there's a Belfast man pulls number two; and the stroke, and the chap that pulls next to him is Englishmen, and fine sailors they are, Bates and Rookey. They were in men-of-war too.” “What! five out of seven, British subjects!” “Oh, ay, that is — we onst was — most of us now are 'Mericans, I think. There's plenty more of us aboard the ship.”

The steam ferry was a rickety affair, and combined with the tumble-down sheds and quays to give a poor idea of Norfolk. The infliction of tobacco-juice on board was remarkable. Although it was but seven o'clock every one had his quid in working order, and the air was filled with yellowish-brown rainbows and liquid parabolas, which tumbled in spray or in little flocks of the weed on the foul decks. As it was Sunday, some of the numerous flagstaff's which adorn the houses in both cities displayed the United States bunting; but nothing could relieve the decayed air of Norfolk. The omnibus which was waiting to receive us must have been the earliest specimen of carriage building in that style on the continent; and as it lunged and flopped over the prodigious bad pavement, the severe nature of which was aggravated by a street railway, it opened the seams as if it were going to fall into firewood. The shops were all closed, of course; but the houses, wooden and brick, were covered with signs and placards indicative of large trade in tobacco and oysters.

Poor G. P. R. James, who spent many years here, could have scarce caught a novel from such a place, spite of great oysters, famous wild fowl, and the lauded poultry and vegetables which are produced in the surrounding districts. There is not a hill for the traveller to ascend towards the close of a summer's day, nor a moated castle for a thousand miles around. An execrable, tooth-cracking drive ended at last in front of the Atlantic Hotel, where I was doomed to take up my quarters. It is a dilapidated, uncleanly place, with tobacco-stained floor, full of flies and strong odors. The waiters were all slaves: untidy, slipshod, and careless creatures. I was shut up in a small room, with the usual notice on the door, that the proprietor would not be responsible for anything, and that you were to lock your doors for fear of robbers, and that you must take your meals at certain hours, and other matters of the kind. My umbra went over to Gosport to take some sketches, he said; and after a poor meal, in a long room filled with “citizens,” all of them discussing Sumter, I went out into the street.

The people, I observe, are of a new and marked type, — very tall, loosely yet powerfully made, with dark complexions, strongly-marked features, prominent noses, large angular mouths in square jaws, deep-seated bright eyes, low, narrow foreheads, — and are all of them much given to ruminate tobacco. The bells of the churches were tolling, and I turned into one; but the heat, great enough outside, soon became nearly intolerable; nor was it rendered more bearable by my proximity to some blacks, who were, I presume, servants or slaves of the great people in the forward pews. The clergyman or minister had got to the Psalms, when a bustle arose near the door which attracted his attention, and caused all to turn round. Several persons were standing up and whispering, whilst others were stealing on tiptoe out of the church. The influence extended itself gradually and all the men near the door were leaving rapidly. The minister, obviously interested, continued to read, raising his eyes towards the door. At last the persons near him rose up and walked boldly forth, and I at length followed the example, and getting into the street, saw men running towards the hotel. “What is it?” exclaimed I to one. “Come along, the telegraph's in at the ‘Day Book.’ The Yankees are whipped!” and so continued. I came at last to a crowd of men, struggling, with their faces toward the wall of a shabby house, increased by fresh arrivals, and diminished by those who, having satisfied their curiosity, came elbowing forth in a state of much excitement, exultation, and perspiration. “It's all right enough!” “Didn't I tell you so?” “Bully for Beauregard and the Palmetto State!” I shoved on, and read at last the programme of the cannonade and bombardment, and of the effects upon the fort, on a dirty piece of yellowish paper on the wall. It was a terrible writing. At all the street corners men were discussing the news with every symptom of joy and gratification. Now I confess I could not share in the excitement at all. The act seemed to me the prelude to certain war.

I walked up the main street, and turned up some of the alleys to have a look at the town, coming out on patches of water and bridges over the creeks, or sandy lanes shaded by trees, and lined here and there by pretty wooden villas, painted in bright colors. Everywhere negroes, male and female, gaudily dressed or in rags; the door-steps of the narrow lanes swarming with infant niggerdom — big-stomached, curve-legged, rugged-headed, and happy — tumbling about dim-eyed toothless hags, or thick-lipped mothers. Not a word were they talking about Sumter. “Any news to-day?” said I to a respectable-looking negro in a blue coat and brass buttons, wonderful hat, and vest of amber silk, check trousers, and very broken-down shoes. “Well, sare, I tink nothin' much occur. Der hem afire at Squire Nichol's house last night; leastway so I hear, sare.” Squire, let me say parenthetically, is used to designate justices of the peace. Was it a very stupid poco-curante, or a very cunning, subtle Sambo?

In my walk I arrived at a small pier, covered with oyster shells, which projected into the sea. Around it, on both sides, were hosts of schooners and pungys, smaller half-decked boats, waiting for their load of the much-loved fish for Washington, Baltimore, and Richmond. Some brigs and large vessels lay along-side the wharves and large warehouses higher up the creek. Observing a small group at the end of the pier, I walked on, and found that they consisted of fifteen or twenty well-dressed mechanical kind of men, busily engaged in “chaffing,” as Cockneys would call it, the crew of the man-of-war boat I had seen in the morning. The sailors were stretched on the thwarts, some rather amused, others sullen at the ordeal. “You better just pull down that cussed old rag of yours, and bring your old ship over to the Southern Confederacy. I guess we can take your ‘Cumberland’ whenever we like! Why don't you go, and touch off your guns at Charleston?” Presently the coxswain came down with a parcel under his arm, and stepped into the boat. “Give way, my lads;” and the oars dipped in the water. When the boat had gone a few yards from the shore, the crowd cried out: “Down with the Yankees! Hurrah for the Southern Confederacy!” and some among them threw oyster shells at the boat, one of which struck the coxswain on the head. “Backwater! Back water all. Hard!” he shouted; and as the boat's stern neared the land, he stood up and made a leap in among the crowd like a tiger. “You cowardly d----d set. Who threw the shells?” No one answered at first, but a little wizened man at last squeaked out: “I guess you'll have shells of another kind if you remain here much longer.” The sailor howled with rage: “Why, you poor devils, I'd whip any half-dozen of you, — teeth, knives, and all — in five minutes; and my boys there in the boat would clear your whole town. What do you mean by barking at the Stars and Stripes? Do you see that ship?” he shouted, pointing towards the “Cumberland.” “Why the lads aboard of her would knock every darned seceder in your State into a cocked hat in a brace of shakes! And now who's coming on?” The invitation was not accepted, and the sailor withdrew, with his angry eyes fixed on the people, who gave him a kind of groan; but there were no oyster shells this time. “In spite of his blowing, I tell yer,” said one of them, “there's some good men from old Virginny abo'rd o' that ship that will never fire a shot agin us.” “Oh, we'll fix her right enough,” remarked another, “when the time comes.” I returned to my room, sat down, and wrote for some hours. The dinner in the Atlantic Hotel was of a description to make one wish the desire for food had never been invented. My neighbor said he was not “quite content about this Sumter business. There's nary one killed nor wownded.”

Sunday is a very dull day in Norfolk, — no mails, no post, no steamers; and, at the best, Norfolk must be dull exceedingly. The superintendent of the Seaboard and Roanoke Railway, having heard that I was about proceeding to Charleston, called upon me to offer every facility in his power. Sent Moses with letters to post-office. At night the mosquitoes were very aggressive and successful. This is the first place in which the bedrooms are unprovided with gas. A mutton dip almost made me regret the fact.

SOURCE: William Howard Russell, My Diary North and South, p. 80-6