Monday, March 2, 2015

Major-General George G. Meade to Margaretta Sergeant Meade, May 1, 1865

Headquarters Army Of The Potomac,
Burksville, Va., May 1, 1865.

We are under marching orders for Alexandria, via Richmond, so the grand military division of the James, including the Army of the Potomac, has just existed about one week. I presume this army is ordered to Alexandria, as a preliminary measure to its disbandment.

I shall leave here to-morrow for Richmond, and after spending a day or two there, putting the army en route for Alexandria, shall proceed to that point, which I expect to reach before the middle of the month. I will write you from Richmond.

George1 and myself are both well, and greatly delighted with the idea of getting so near home as Washington, with the hope that, whatever turns up, I shal1 be able to spend a little time at home.
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1 Son of General Meade.

SOURCE: George Meade, The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Vol. 2, p. 277

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Monday, May 2, 1864

We left Cairo at 1 o'clock in the night and arrived at Paducah, Kentucky, at 10 o'clock today. We were sent here to reinforce the troops at this place, as it was reported that the rebels, thought to be Forrest's command, would make a raid into Paducah for the purpose of destroying our supplies. We went ashore while the transports with large details of men were sent back to Cairo for ammunition and provisions. I was detailed this morning for the first time as corporal of the guard. We have a force of about five thousand men at this place, with but one fort.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 185

Diary of Gideon Welles: Friday, August 22, 1862

The President tells me he has a list of the number of new recruits which have reached Washington under the late call. Over 18,000 have arrived in just one week. There is wonderful and increasing enthusiasm and determination to put down this Rebellion and sustain the integrity of the Union. It is confined to no class or party or description: rich and poor, the educated and ignorant, the gentle and refined as well as the stout, coarse, and athletic, the Democrats generally as well as the Republicans, are offering themselves to the country.

Governor Dennison and Judge Swayne1 of Ohio, with others, are urging in person the establishment of a line of armed and armored steamers on the Ohio River. The plan has been elaborated with much care, and has been before presented and pressed with some zeal. Distrust, no doubt, in regard to army management leads these men to seek naval protection. The Blairs are quoted to me as favoring the movement, and Fox has given them encouragement. It has not found favor with me at any time. It is now brought to my attention in such a way that I am compelled to take it up. I find that great names and entire communities in Ohio and Indiana, led on by the authorities of those States, are engaged in it. I told the principal agent, who, with Governor D., had a long interview with me, that my judgment and convictions were against it, for: First: I had no faith that light-draft gunboats would be a safe and reliable means of frontier river-defense. They might be auxiliary and essential aids to the army, but they cannot carry heavy armament, are frail, and in low stages of the water, with high banks which overlook the river, would not be effective and could hardly take care of themselves, though in certain cases, and especially in high water, they might greatly aid the army. Secondly: As a matter of policy it would be injudicious and positively harmful to establish a frontier line between Ohio and Kentucky, making the river the military boundary, — it would be conceding too much. If a line of boats could assist in protecting the northern banks of the Ohio they could afford little security to the southern banks, where, as in Ohio, there is, except in localities, a majority for the Union. I added that I should be opposed to any plan which proposed to establish frontier lines, therein differing from some of our best army officers; that I thought neither Ohio nor Indiana could, on deliberate consideration, wish the line of separation from hostile forces should be the northern boundary of Kentucky. It appeared to me the true course was to make their interest in this war identical with that of Kentucky, and if there were to be a line of demarcation it should be as far south as the southern boundary of Tennessee, and not the banks of the Ohio. The gentlemen seemed to be impressed with these general views.
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1 Noah H. Swayne, of the United States Supreme Court.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 1: 1861 – March 30, 1864, p. 87-9

Diary of Salmon P. Chase: Monday, August 18, 1862

Busy, except when interrupted by callers, with list of Collectors and Asessors. Saw Chandler and Gov. Blair at President's, and closed Michigan appointments. President insisted on Stanley, to save Trowbridge's feelings, instead of Mills, whom I recommended as best man; and Chandler and Blair concurred — none of us, however, knowing Stanley.

Thurlow Weed dined with me. Parsons was at home, but had dined, and went away. After dinner, left Weed at Willard's, where I went to call on Colonels Corcoran and Wilcox, returned yesterday from their long captivity in Richmond. They had gone to dine at the President's; and I went to Mr. Cutts' and spent an hour with Mr. C. and Mrs. D.

SOURCE: Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1902, Vol. 2, p. 61

Senator Truman Smith to James S. Pike, December 26, 1859

New-York City, 49 wall Street,}
December 26, 1859.}

My Dear Sir: I have long been of the opinion that the question of slavery in our territories is not treated in our leading Republican journals in a way best calculated to produce an effect on the masses — particularly the laboring masses — in the free States. I send you an article which I have prepared expressive in some degree of my views on this subject, but I have in my mind other ideas which it seems to me should be developed and kept incessantly before the Northern mind; but being deeply engaged in my profession, I can only talk them over, and shall be happy to do so if you will call at my office.

Faithfully yours,
Truman Smith.
Hon. Pike.

P. S. — The manuscript inclosed is entirely at your disposal; it will not mortify me in the least if you stick it into the fire.

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. 454-5

Major Robert Anderson to Colonel Samuel Cooper, December 22, 1860

No. 10.]
fort Moultrie, S. C, December 22, 1860.
(Received A. G. O., December 26.)
Col. S. Cooper, Adjutant-General:

Colonel: Captain Foster is apprehensive that the remarks in my letter of the 20th instant may be considered as reflecting upon him, and I told him that I would cheerfully state distinctly that I do not intend to pass any criticism upon his proceedings.

I stated in my last letter fully all the reasons I intended to give against commencing the second caponiere. The Captain has put a very large force of masons on it, and they are running up the walls very rapidly. He says, as he has all the material on hand, the men, having just completed the first one, will be enabled to construct the second caponiere as soon as they could finish any temporary work in its stead. He says that he will have the ‘work defensible in five more working days, and have it finished in nine more working days.’ God knows whether the South Carolinians will defer their attempt to take this work so long as that. I must confess that I think where an officer is placed in as delicate a position as the one I occupy, that he should have the entire control over all persons connected in any way with the work intrusted to him. Responsibility and power to control ought to go together.

I have heard from several sources that last night and the night before a steamer was stationed between this island and Fort Sumter. That the authorities of South Carolina are determined to prevent, if possible, any troops from being placed in that fort, and that they will seize upon that most important work as soon as they think there is reasonable ground for a doubt whether it will be turned over to the State, I do not doubt. I think that I could, however, were I to receive instructions so to do, throw my garrison into that work, but I should have to sacrifice the greater part of my stores, as it is now too late to attempt their removal. Once in that work with my garrison I could keep the entrance of their harbor open until they construct works outside of me, which might, I presume, prevent vessels from coming into the outer harbor.

We have used nearly all the empty barrels which Captain Foster had wisely saved, for embrasures, traverses, &c., and Captain Foster is now making use of our gun pent-houses for the same purpose, filling them with sand.

No one can tell what will be done. They may defer action until their Commissioners return from Washington; or, if apprised by the nature of the debates in Congress that their demands will not probably be acceded to, they may act without waiting for them.

I do not think that we can rely upon any assurances, and wish to God I only had men enough here to man fully my guns. Our men are perfectly conscious of the dangerous position they are placed in, but are in as fine spirits as if they were certain of victory.

I am, Colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

robert Anderson,
Major First Artillery, Commanding.

P. S. — I have just heard that several of the men at work in Fort Sumter wear the blue cockade. If they are bold enough to do that the sooner that force is disbanded the better. The public property would be safer there under Lieutenant Snyder and a few men than it now is.

R. A.

SOURCE: Samuel Wylie Crawford, The Genesis of the Civil War: The Story of Sumter, 1860-1861, p. 93-4

Diary of William Howard Russell: March 28, 1861

I was honored to-day by visits from a great number of Members of Congress, journalists, and others. Judging from the expressions of most of the Washington people, they would gladly see a Southern Cabinet installed in their city. The cold shoulder is given to Mr. Lincoln, and all kinds of stories and jokes are circulated at his expense. People take particular pleasure in telling how he came towards the seat of his Government disguised in a Scotch cap and cloak, whatever that may mean.

In the evening I repaired to the White House. The servant who took my hat and coat was particularly inquisitive as to my name and condition in life; and when he heard I was not a minister, he seemed inclined to question my right to be there at all: “for,” said he, “there are none but members of the cabinet, and their wives and daughters, dining here today.” Eventually he relaxed, — instructed me how to place my hat so that it would be exposed to no indignity, and informed me that I was about to participate in a prandial enjoyment of no ordinary character. There was no parade or display, no announcement, — no gilded staircase, with its liveried heralds, transmitting and translating one's name from landing to landing. From the unpretending ante-chamber, a walk across the lofty hall led us to the reception-room, which was the same as that in which the President held his interview yesterday.

Mrs. Lincoln was already seated to receive her guests. She is of the middle age and height, of a plumpness degenerating to the embonpoint natural to her years; her features are plain, her nose and mouth of an ordinary type, and her manners and appearance homely, stiffened, however, by the consciousness that her position requires her to be something more than plain Mrs. Lincoln, the wife of the Illinois lawyer; she is profuse in the introduction of the word “sir” in every sentence, which is now almost an Americanism confined to certain classes, although it was once as common in England. Her dress I shall not attempt to describe, though it was very gorgeous and highly colored. She handled a fan with much energy, displaying a round, well-proportioned arm, and was adorned with some simple jewelry. Mrs. Lincoln struck me as being desirous of making herself agreeable; and I own I was agreeably disappointed, as the Secessionist ladies at Washington had been amusing themselves by anecdotes which could scarcely have been founded on fact.

Several of the Ministers had already arrived; by and by all had come, and the party only waited for General Scott, who seemed to be the representative man in Washington of the monarchical idea, and to absorb some of the feeling which is lavished on the pictures and memory, if not on the monument, of Washington. Whilst we were waiting, Mr. Seward took me round, and introduced me to the Ministers, and to their wives and daughters, among the latter, Miss Chase, who is very attractive, agreeable, and sprightly. Her father, the Finance Minister, struck me as one of the most intelligent and distinguished persons in the whole assemblage, — tall, of a good presence, with a well-formed head, fine forehead, and a face indicating energy and power. There is a peculiar droop and motion of the lid of one eye, which seems to have suffered from some injury, that detracts from the agreeable effect of his face; but, on the whole, he is one who would not pass quite unnoticed in a European crowd of the same description.

In the whole assemblage there was not a scrap of lace or a piece of ribbon, except the gorgeous epaulettes of an old naval officer who had served against us in the last war, and who represented some branch of the naval department. Nor were the Ministers by any means remarkable for their personal appearance.

Mr. Cameron, the Secretary of War, a slight man, above the middle height, with gray hair, deep-set keen gray eyes, and a thin mouth, gave me the idea of a person of ability and adroitness. His colleague, the Secretary of the Navy, a small man, with a great long gray beard and spectacles, did not look like one of much originality or ability; but people who know Mr. Welles declare that he is possessed of administrative power, although they admit that he does not know the stem from the stern of a ship, and are in doubt whether he ever saw the sea in his life. Mr. Smith, the Minister of the Interior, is a bright-eyed, smart (I use the word in the English sense) gentleman, with the reputation of being one of the most conservative members of the cabinet. Mr. Blair, the Postmaster-General, is a person of much greater influence than his position would indicate. He has the reputation of being one of the most determined Republicans in the Ministry; but he held peculiar notions with reference to the black and the white races, which, if carried out, would not by any means conduce to the comfort or happiness of free negroes in the United States. He is a tall, lean man, with a hard, Scotch, practical-looking head — an anvil for ideas to be hammered on. His eyes are small and deeply set, and have a rat-like expression; and he speaks with caution, as though he weighed every word before he uttered it. The last of the Ministers is Mr. Bates, a stout, thick-set, common-looking man, with a large beard, who fills the office of Attorney-General. Some of the gentlemen were in evening dress; others wore black frock-coats, which it seems, as in Turkey, are considered to be en regle at a Republican Ministerial dinner.

In the conversation which occurred before dinner, I was amused to observe the manner in which Mr. Lincoln used the anecdotes for which he is famous. Where men bred in courts, accustomed to the world, or versed in diplomacy, would use some subterfuge, or would make a polite speech, or give a shrug of the shoulders as the means of getting out of an embarrassing position, Mr. Lincoln raises a laugh by some bold west-country anecdote, and moves off in the cloud of merriment produced by his joke. Thus, when Mr. Bates was remonstrating apparently against the appointment of some indifferent lawyer to a place of judicial importance, the President interposed with, “Come now, Bates, he's not half as bad as you think. Besides that, I must tell you, he did me a good turn long ago. When I took to the law, I was going to court one morning, with some ten or twelve miles of bad road before me, and I had no horse. The judge overtook me in his wagon. ‘Hollo, Lincoln! Are you not going to the court-house? Come in, and I'll give you a seat.’ Well, I got in, and the judge went on reading his papers. Presently the wagon struck a stump on one side of the road; then it hopped off to the other. I looked out, and I saw the driver was jerking from side to side in his seat; so says I, ‘Judge, I think your coachman has been taking a little drop too much this morning.’ ‘Well I declare, Lincoln,’ said he, ‘I should not wonder if you are right, for he has nearly upset me half a dozen of times since starting.’ So, putting his head out of the window, he shouted, ‘Why, you infernal scoundrel, you are drunk!’ Upon which, pulling up his horses, and turning round with great gravity, the coachman said, ‘By gorra! that's the first rightful decision you have given for the last twelvemonth.’” Whilst the company were laughing, the President beat a quiet retreat from the neighborhood of the Attorney-General.

It was at last announced that General Scott was unable to be present, and that, although actually in the house, he had been compelled to retire from indisposition, and we moved in to the banqueting-hall. The first “state dinner,” as it is called, of the President, was not remarkable for ostentation. No liveried servants, no Persic splendor of ancient plate, or chefs d'œuvre of art, glittered round the board. Vases of flowers decorated the table, combined with dishes in what may be called the “Gallo-American” style, with wines which owed their parentage to France, and their rearing and education to the United States, which abounds in cunning nurses for such productions. The conversation was suited to the state dinner of a cabinet at which women and strangers were present. I was seated next Mr. Bates, and the very agreeable and lively Secretary of the President, Mr. Hay, and except when there was an attentive silence caused by one of the President's stories, there was a Babel of small talk round the table, in which I was surprised to find a diversity of accent almost as great as if a number of foreigners had been speaking English. I omitted the name of Mr. Hamlin, the Vice-President, as well as those of less remarkable people who were present; but it would not be becoming to pass over a man distinguished for nothing so much as his persistent and unvarying adhesion to one political doctrine, which has made him, in combination with the belief in his honesty, the occupant of a post which leads to the Presidency, in event of any occurrence which may remove Mr. Lincoln.

After dinner the ladies and gentlemen retired to the drawingroom, and the circle was increased by the addition of several politicians. I had an opportunity of conversing with some of the Ministers, if not with all, from time to time, and I was struck by the uniform tendency of their remarks in reference to the policy of Great Britain. They seemed to think that England was bound by her anti-slavery antecedents to discourage to the utmost any attempts of the South to establish its independence on a basis of slavery, and to assume that they were the representatives of an active war of emancipation. As the veteran Commodore Stewart passed the chair of the young lady to whom I was speaking, she said, “I suppose, Mr. Russell, you do not admire that officer?” “On the contrary,” I said, “I think he is a very fine-looking old man.” “I don't mean that,” she replied; “but you know he can't be very much liked by you, because he fought so gallantly against you in the last war, as you must know.” I had not the courage to confess ignorance of the captain's antecedents. There is a delusion among more than the fair American who spoke to me, that we entertain in England the sort of feeling, morbid or wholesome as it may be, in reference to our reverses at New Orleans and elsewhere, that is attributed to Frenchmen respecting Waterloo.

On returning to Willard's Hotel, I was accosted by a gentleman who came out from the crowd in front of the office. “Sir,” he said, “you have been dining with our President tonight.” I bowed. “Was it an agreeable party?” said he. “What do you think of Mr. Lincoln?” “May I ask to whom I have the pleasure of speaking?” “My name is Mr. –––, and I am the correspondent of the New York ––––.” “Then, sir,” I replied, “it gives me satisfaction to tell you that I think a great deal of Mr. Lincoln, and that I am equally pleased with my dinner. I have the honor to bid you good evening.” The same gentleman informed me afterwards that he had created the office of Washington Correspondent to the New York papers. “At first,” said he, “I merely wrote news, and no one cared much; then I spiced it up, squibbed a little, and let off stories of my own. Congressmen contradicted me, — issued cards, — said they were not facts. The public attention was attracted, and I was told to go on; and so the Washington correspondence became a feature in all the New York papers by degrees.” The hum and bustle in the hotel to-night were wonderful. All the office-seekers were in the passages, hungering after senators and representatives, and the ladies in any way related to influential people, had an entourage of courtiers sedulously paying their respects. Miss Chase, indeed, laughingly told me that she was pestered by applicants for her father's good offices, and by persons seeking introduction to her as a means of making demands on “Uncle Sam.”

As I was visiting a book-shop to-day, a pert, smiling young fellow, of slight figure and boyish appearance came up and introduced himself to me as an artist who had contributed to an illustrated London paper during the Prince of Wales's tour, and who had become acquainted with some of my friends; and he requested permission to call on me, which I gave without difficulty or hesitation. He visited me this evening, poor lad! and told me a sad story of his struggles, and of the dependence of his family on his efforts, as a prelude to a request that I would allow him to go South when I was making the tour there, of which he had heard. He was under an engagement with the London paper, and had no doubt that if he was with me his sketches would all be received as illustrations of the places to which my letters were attracting public interest in England at the time. There was no reason why I should be averse to his travelling with me in the same train. He could certainly go if he pleased. At the same time I intimated that I was in no way to be connected with or responsible for him.

SOURCE: William Howard Russell, My Diary North and South, p. 41-6

John Lothrop Motley to Mary Benjamin Motley, June 17, 1861

Washington,
June 17, 1861.

My Dear Mary:  . . . After being at home three days, I left by the afternoon boat of Saturday, 15th, for New York, where I was obliged to remain all Sunday till 6 P.M. I did not find Mr. Grinnell, unluckily, who is out of town for the summer. In the night I came on to Washington, reaching here at six this morning. I went up to the State Department in the forenoon, and had the merest moment of a conversation with Mr. Seward, who begged me to come and dine with him to-day at seven, and requested, as it was his despatch day, to defer all further colloquy until then. I had afterward a very brief interview with the Secretary of War, Cameron, to whom Governor Andrew begged me to give some information concerning Cobb's battery of flying artillery, which is of more interest to the War Department than to you, so I will not enlarge on that subject. I also introduced Tom, who had something to communicate concerning Gordon's regiment; and the secretary took occasion to say that Massachusetts — and, indeed, all New England — did everything so well that improvement seemed impossible, and that the country was more indebted to it than could ever be repaid for its conduct in the present crisis.

Afterward I saw a small crowd waiting on the pavement, and Lee, who was with us (and who, as you know, has a place in the War Department), told me that they were waiting to see General Scott come out of his office. It reminded me of the group I so often saw in Piccadilly waiting to see Lord Palmerston come out. We stood looking on, too, and very soon he appeared. He has a fine, soldierly, and yet benignant countenance, very much resembling Dr. Reynolds in face as well as stature, and not seeming much older than he. Presently Lee, who knows him very well, went up and mentioned my name. He turned round with much vivacity, with his hand stretched out very cordially, and expressed himself very happy to make my acquaintance, being pleased to add that my writings were “an honor to the age.” Of course I say these little things to you because it will please you and the children. He asked us to come and see him of an evening, and I certainly shall do so as soon as possible.

No one here knows what the plans of the campaign are; all is conjecture. You will see by the papers that go with this that Harper's Ferry has just been evacuated by the rebels. Those with whom I converse seem to imagine that the plan is to strengthen and improve day by day the great national army, gradually surrounding the rebellion by an impenetrable cordon, and thus compelling them, by sheer exhaustion, to lay down their arms before the close of the year. The blockade, bankruptcy, and famine, it is thought, will be potent enough without many very severe pitched battles. The show of force is already so imposing and so utterly beyond any previous calculation of the rebels that they are thought to be rapidly demoralizing, while, on the other hand, every day strengthens the government. There are at least 100,000 well-furnished government troops here and in the immediate neighborhood, or within twelve hours' march, and they are coming daily. The government has plenty of money, plenty of men, and is constantly improving its commissariat and arranging all the details of a great war. It has entered into no man's head that the rebellion is not to be put down. I doubt not that the English government have been fully informed upon this point now, for when I expressed this sentiment just now to Lord Lyons, he responded, “Certainly not; it is only a question of time.”

I went to see him after leaving Mr. Seward. In fact, Seward was kind enough to send me there in his carriage. I found him little changed from the Dresden days, except that he has grown stouter. He was very cordial, frank, and friendly, and we had a long and full conversation on American affairs. He was himself sure that every thinking person in England would deplore a rupture between the two countries as a calamity too painful to contemplate, and that all his efforts would be to avert it.

There is a review of 8000 government troops on the sacred soil of Virginia going on just now. General McDowell invited us to go. My dinner engagement prevents me, but Tom has gone. The town is full of troops. A Massachusetts regiment left Boston the day we did, and a Michigan regiment arrived the same day. All are enlisted for the war just now. There is no lack of good officers. McClellan, who commands the Western Division and is next to Scott, is very competent to command the whole if anything should happen to the veteran. But of that there seems no fear. He looks vigorous, healthful, and young. There seems nothing senile about him.

To-morrow we are going across the Potomac to see the encampments, the fortifications, etc. Pay no heed to anything you may see from time to time of intentions of the rebels to attack Washington. They are as likely to attack Boston. The thing I believe to be utterly out of the question, although Scott would like nothing better than that they should try it on.

I dine with Lord Lyons to-morrow, and I dare say I shall spend the rest of the week here. I have not quite decided whether to go to Fortress Monroe or not, but probably shall do so. Secretary Cameron has given us a pass recommending us especially to the commander of troops, etc., etc. I may as well repeat what I said in my last, that here, as in Boston, every one to whom I speak thanks me for the article in the “Times.” Lord Lyons said it was considered the principal document in the whole affair, and the French minister said the same thing. Everybody says it has done much good, and it most sincerely rejoices me to hear it.

SOURCE: George William Curtis, editor, The Correspondence of John Lothrop Motley in Two Volumes, Library Edition, Volume 2, p. 136-40

Sunday, March 1, 2015

John M. Forbes to Nassau W. Senior, December 20, 1861

Boston, 20 December, 1861.

Nothing from you lately. You will be glad to hear that our people here are within the control of the government in regard to the difficulty with England, and unless the demands are made in such a spirit and manner as to make it seem that war is intended sooner or later, we can tide over the present trouble. If our government or people are made to feel that the Trent affair is merely a pretext, and that after making disagreeable concessions there, we shall only be called upon the sooner to "eat dirt" in some other case, we shall of course fight at first, coûte qu’il coûte.

This I do not anticipate, but I hope you statesmen will look ahead beyond the immediate horizon and try to treat this case so that it shall not further embitter the feelings of the two nations, and thus lay the foundations of a future war, whether of tariffs or cannon!

It will be unfortunate, for instance, if you make stringent demands for reparation of a wrong which to our common people, and to the common sense of the world, will in so large a matter between nations look like a technical or legal quibble.

You cannot convince our people that you are justified in humiliating us in this our extremity upon the ground that our frigate exercised an admitted right in a wrong manner, the wrong growing out of a generous motive toward your ship or your nation.

I know it is an important principle that no naval officer should take the office of a judge, and I shall be glad to see our officers and yours put upon their responsibility to conform, in manner and in substance both, to the Law of Nations, — but you ought not to push the legal advantage, if you have one, too far, where the substantial equity will seem to be with us! If you do, it will be considered like striking us while we are down, and will be remembered and resented long after this generation has passed away.

One cannot yet fairly judge how far our government and people may be pushed in the way of concession. If we do give way much beyond what seems to us fair, you may put it down to our inveterate earnestness to whip our domestic enemy.

I hope and believe we shall get over this near danger of collision with you, but I want to see the future guarded too.

If, for instance, you propose to leave the whole question to arbitration of parties as nearly disinterested as the case admits of, I think it will be received as an earnest of a better state of feeling. The king of Italy and the Czar, though opposed to republican institutions, would, I think, be accepted as fair referees, of course after proper argument being heard from your jurists and ours.

On the other hand, to insist upon your own interpretation of the international law, or upon referring it solely to Louis Napoleon, will, even if we concede it, leave a sting that will rankle for half a century! It will confirm all our worst fears that your rulers are ready to catch at any pretext, and risk any amount of suffering to your own people if they can only thus make sure of the failure of republican institutions. The prevailing opinion is that such is the disposition of your government, and I daily hear men of property and of general worldly prudence advocate the necessity of absolute resistance to any demand for concession. They reason that it would break down the spirit of our people and create internal divisions to a degree that is worse than foreign war! Their policy would be to let the foreign demands intensify our efforts against the rebels, and the moment it is ascertained that actual war will result, let loose the blacks, cut the dikes which confine the Mississippi, and deluge New Orleans and the whole of the flat country on its banks; an easy task!

A spark may thus ignite all the elements of war, while public opinion is so nearly balanced that it is only to-day that one can speak for! To-day peace is probable — to-morrow it may be impossible.

SOURCE: Sarah Forbes Hughes, Letters and Recollections of John Murray Forbes, Volume 1, p. 260-3

Charles Eliot Norton to George William Curtis, Thursday Evening, July 31, 1862

Shady Hill
Thursday evening, 31 July, 1862.

. . . The weather is very beautiful; — such a sunshiny, showery, green, shady, summer as it is! But we have no days finer than the 17th. That was fine every way. Your Oration1 lasts in the minds of men. Its praises come to me from all sides. Last Saturday at the Club there was a general expression of hearty admiration of it which would have pleased you to hear. Every one who had heard it said it was one of the most effective pieces of oratory that had been heard here by this generation, and that its sentiment and doctrine were as noble as your eloquence. Even the “conservatives” give in to its power. “Detestable opinions, Sir, but overwhelming eloquence.”

Here we have given up McClellan as a general, and have renewed our original faith in Stanton. It seems to me certain that the President and the Secretary of War have not interfered with McClellan's plans, but have done everything to forward them. I fear the President is not yet quite conscious of the spirit of the people, and aware of the needs of the time. I have no doubt of his good intention, but I doubt if his soul is open to the heats of enthusiasm for a great principle, or his will quick and resolute enough for a great emergency. I do not believe in any palliations at present. Will Lincoln be master of the opportunities, or will they escape him? Is he great enough for the time?

Do you think the army2 on the James River is safe? If it is forced to surrender, I think the people generally would be excited to make the cause good rather than depressed by the calamity. It looks to me as if Emancipation might come very soon in Kentucky. But what a pity that the President should not have issued a more distinct and telling Proclamation! I think this a great misfortune. However, it is not a mere piece of commonplace faith that everything is best, when I say I believe that the issue of the war will be as we desire. What a lot of capital I’s I have put into this note! . . .
_______________

1 The Phi Beta Kappa Oration at Harvard.
2 The Army of the Potomac, under McClellan, after the disastrous Seven Days' Battles.

SOURCE: Sara Norton and  M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Letters of Charles Eliot Norton, Volume 1, p. 254-5

George William Curtis to Charles Eliot Norton, July 12, 1864

And how is Ashfield? I should have written you there before if I had supposed there was a post-office at such a height. Do you have to eat oil more than three times a day to keep warm in this weather? We don't. But then we live upon an island in the temperate zone. Or are you warmed by the news of the isolation of Washington? There is something comical about it which I cannot escape, with all the annoyance. The great Dutch Pennsylvania annually sprawling on its back, and bellowing to mankind to come and help it out of the scrape, is perfectly ludicrous. I hope that this year all the States will learn that, while they have no efficient and organized militia, they will be constantly harassed by raids to the end of the war. We have all kinds of rumors here at every moment, from which you are free. But the sense of absurdity and humiliation is very universal. These things weaken the hold of the administration upon the people; and the only serious peril that I foresee is the setting in of a reaction which may culminate in November and defeat Lincoln, as it did Wadsworth in this State. I wish we had a loyal governor, and that New York city was virtuous.

Have you thought what a vindication this war is of Alexander Hamilton? I wish somebody would write his life as it ought to be written, for surely he was one of the greatest of our great men, as Jefferson was the least of the truly great; or am I wrong? Hamilton was generous and sincere. Was Jefferson either? In Franklin's life how the value of temperament shows itself! It was as fortunate for him and for us as his genius.

SOURCE: Edward Cary, George William Curtis, p. 180-1

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Charles Fessenden Morse, Tuesday, August 20, 1861

We were relieved at six o'clock P. M., by Company A, and learned from them that the regiment was being paid off. We got our pay-rolls signed that night, and (Aug. 21st) were paid this morning, each man receiving eighteen dollars and seventy-four cents pay, up to the 30th of June. I got my full pay of one hundred and eight dollars a month, one hundred and eighty-four dollars and forty-five cents. We are paid again in less than a month, when I shall get two hundred and sixteen dollars and ninety cents. It makes me feel quite flush to see so much gold, all 1861 pieces. At twelve o'clock, noon, the regiment started to join our brigade and marched six miles to Jefferson, a very pretty town, where we camped for the night.

SOURCE: Charles Fessenden Morse, Letters Written During the Civil War, 1861-1865, p. 18-9

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Charles Fessenden Morse: August 22, 1861


Marched eight miles to Buckeyston, over hard roads on account of the heavy rains. Camped for the night here. I have now arrived up to date, and must stop, as we start soon. I shall send some money home at the very first place I can get hold of Adams Express. I have had but one mail for several days, so I've no doubt there are several letters for me somewhere.

SOURCE: Charles Fessenden Morse, Letters Written During the Civil War, 1861-1865, p. 19

Wilder Dwight: Wednesday, July 24, 1861

Head-quarters, Harper's Ferry,
Wednesday, July 24, 1861.

If you knew the pleasure I have had to-day in receiving my first letter from you, you would write — write — write. A letter written on Sunday with C.’s charming postscript. Its arrival is the incident of our bloodless campaign. Yet our progress is not without its triumphs. To-day, for instance, we have had another flag presented. The ladies of Harper's Ferry, this evening, assembled on the Square, and our officers, with the band and color-bearer, went out to receive the national color. The flag, during the occupation of the town by Johnston, had been sent off to Frederick City, in Maryland. It was brought back last Saturday, to bo given to the first regiment of Federal troops which brought its protection to the people. The scene and the occasion were striking. One of the ladies made a short speech. The Colonel responded, and the band rang out, “Long may it wave!”

Virginia gives an American flag to Massachusetts, and Massachusetts restores the blessings of that flag to Virginia. I cannot help attaching a good deal of significance to the occasion. I fancy, too, that there are Virginians whose blood will boil with the desire to tear down that flag, which we will certainly carry into action when the time comes.

Since I began to write news has come that General Banks has arrived to take command of this division. We hear from Winchester that there is great mourning and no joy over the battle at Manassas. Their dead are coming home to them in great numbers. If I am not mistaken, it will turn out that, if that senseless panic had not overtaken our troops, a half-hour more would have given them a decided success. These speculations and discussions fill our minds here, for want of something more practical and direct.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Amelia Dwight, Editor, Life and Letters of Wilder Dwight: Lieut.-Col. Second Mass. Inf. Vols., p. 56-7

Colonel Charles Russell Lowell to Josephine Shaw, June 3, 1863

Camp Brightwood, June 3, 1863.

The change from the camp to the field (we are now, so far as work and life go, to be counted in the field, though there seems to me a good deal of “sham” about it) is a very critical one for a regiment, it is so important to start picket duty aright, so hard to make men understand that the only way to keep tolerably clean is to keep perfectly clean, so hard to get new officers to keep the proper line between their men and themselves. I am going to try the experiment, too, of taking off my camp guard and giving my “pet lambs” a chance to wander where they please, — punishing them, of course, if found outside of camp. I am not sure how it will work.

SOURCE: Edward Waldo Emerson, Life and Letters of Charles Russell Lowell, p. 252-3

Major-General George G. Meade to Margaretta Sergeant Meade, April 27, 1865


Headquarters Army Of The Potomac,
Burksville, Va., April 27, 1865.

I have received your letters of the 22d and 23d insts. Such exhibitations as are now being made of the body of Mr. Lincoln, are always in my judgment in bad taste, and are never solemn or impressive. Still, as public ceremonies, I suppose they always will be, as they ever have been, necessary for the masses of people.

I cannot understand Sherman's course.1 I am very sorry for Sherman, no one can dispute that his services have been pre-eminent, and though he may have erred in judgment, and have mistaken the temper of the North, he is entitled to the considerations due to his past services, which should have shielded him from having his motives and loyalty impugned. I am curious to see whether Grant, when he joins him, will smother him as he did me.
_______________

1 General W. T. Sherman's terms for the surrender of General Johnston were repudiated by the authorities at Washington.

SOURCE: George Meade, The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Vol. 2, p. 277

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Sunday, May 1, 1864

The Eleventh Iowa signed the pay rolls this morning for two months' pay. Six of the boys were robbed of $30.00 last night. Our regiment drew the new rifles and accouterments this afternoon. The Government is fitting out all of the veteran regiments with new equipments.

We received orders this afternoon to go on board the transports at 5 o'clock, and we struck our tents and turned them over to the post quartermaster. The Eleventh, the Fifteenth and part of the Thirteenth Iowa are on board the “John H. Dickey.” We were ordered to carry five days' rations. Our destination is supposed to be Huntsville, Alabama.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 184

Congressman James M. Ashley to Abraham Lincoln, January 31, 1865

House Of Representatives, January 31, 1865.

Dear Sir: The report is in circulation in the House that Peace Commissioners are on their way or in the city, and [it] is being used against us. If it is true, I fear we shall lose the bill. Please authorize me to contradict it, if it is not true.

Respectfully,
J. M. Ashley.
To the President.


SOURCE: John G. Nicolay and John Hay, Editors, The Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 10, p. 349

Abraham Lincoln to Congressman James M. Ashley, January 31, 1865

So far as I know there are no Peace Commissioners in the city or likely to be in it.

A. Lincoln.
January 31, 1865.

SOURCE: John G. Nicolay and John Hay, Editors, The Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 10, p. 349

13th Amendment to the United States Constitution

AMENDMENT XIII
Passed by Congress January 31, 1865. Ratified December 6, 1865.

Section 1.

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

John Brown: The Fight Of Osawatomie, September 7, 1856

The Fight Of Osawatomie.

Early in the morning of the 30th of August the enemy's scouts approached to within one mile and a half of the western boundary of the town of Osawatomie. At this place my son Frederick (who was not attached to my force) had lodged, with some four other young men from Lawrence, and a young man named Garrison, from Middle Creek. The scouts, led by a proslavery preacher named White, shot my son dead in the road, while he — as I have since ascertained — supposed them to be friendly. At the same time they butchered Mr. Garrison, and badly mangled one of the young men from Lawrence, who came with my son, leaving him for dead. This was not far from sunrise. I had stopped during the night about two and one half miles from them, and nearly one mile from Osawatomie. I had no organized force, but only some twelve or fifteen new recruits, who were ordered to leave their preparations for breakfast and follow me into the town, as soon as this news was brought to me. As I had no means of learning correctly the force of the enemy, I placed twelve of the recruits in a log-house, hoping we might be able to defend the town. I then gathered some fifteen more men together, whom we armed with guns; and we started in the direction of the enemy. After going a few rods we could see them approaching the town in line of battle, about half a mile off, upon a hill west of the village. I then gave up all idea of doing more than to annoy, from the timber near the town, into which we were all retreated, and which was filled with a thick growth of underbrush; but I had no time to recall the twelve men in the log-house, and so lost their assistance in the fight. At the point above named I met with Captain Cline, a very active young man, who had with him some twelve or fifteen mounted men, and persuaded him to go with us into the timber, on the southern shore of the Osage, or Marais des Cygnes, a little to the northwest from the village. Here the men, numbering not more than thirty in all, were directed to scatter and secrete themselves as well as they could, and await the approach of the enemy. This was done in full view of them (who must have seen the whole movement), and had to be done in the utmost haste. I believe Captain Cline and some of his men were not even dismounted in the fight, but cannot assert positively. When the left wing of the enemy had approached to within common rifle-shot, we commenced firing, and very soon threw the northern branch of the enemy's line into disorder. This continued some fifteen or twenty minutes, which gave us an uncommon opportunity to annoy them. Captain Cline and his men soon got out of ammunition, and retired across the river. After the enemy rallied we kept up our fire, until, by the leaving of one and another, we had but six or seven left. We then retired across the river. We had one man killed — a Mr. Powers, from Captain Cline's company — in the fight. One of my men, a Mr. Partridge, was shot in crossing the river. Two or three of the party who took part in the fight are yet missing, and may be lost or taken prisoners. Two were wounded; namely, Dr. Updegraff and a Mr. Collis. I cannot speak in too high terms of them, and of many others I have not now time to mention. One of my best men, together with myself, was struck by a partially spent ball from the enemy, in the commencement of the fight, but we were only bruised. The loss I refer to is one of my missing men. The loss of the enemy, as we learn by the different statements of our own as well as their people, was some thirty-one or two killed, and from forty to fifty wounded. After burning the town to ashes and killing a Mr. Williams they had taken, whom neither party claimed, they took a hasty leave, carrying their dead and wounded with them. They did not attempt to cross the river, nor to search for us, and have not since returned to look over their work. I give this in great haste, in the midst of constant interruptions. My second son was with me in the fight, and escaped unharmed. This I mention for the benefit of his friends. Old Preacher White, I hear, boasts of having killed my son. Of course he is a lion.

John Brown.
Lawrence, Kansas, Sept. 7, 1856.

SOURCE: Franklin B. Sanborn, The Life and Letters of John Brown, p. 317-8

Major Rutherford B. Hayes to Lucy Webb Hayes, October 19, 1861

Camp Tompkins, October 19, 1861.

Dearest: — I got your letter of last Sunday yesterday. You can't be happier in reading my letters than I am m reading yours. Very glad our little Ruddy is no worse.

Don't worry about suffering soldiers, and don't be too ready to give up President Lincoln. More men are sick in camps than at home. Sick [men] are not comfortable anywhere, and less so in armies than in good homes. Transportation fails, roads are bad, contractors are faithless, officials negligent or fraudulent, but notwithstanding all this, I am satisfied that our army is better fed, better clad, and better sheltered than any other army in the world. And, moreover, where there is want, it is not due to the general or state Government half as much as to officers and soldiers. The two regiments I have happened to know most about and to care most about — McCook's Ninth and our Twenty-third — have no cause of complaint. Their clothing is better than when they left Ohio and better than most men wear at home. I am now dressed as a private, and I am well dressed. I live habitually on soldiers' rations, and I live well.

No, Lucy, the newspapers mislead you. It is the poor families at home, not the soldiers, who can justly claim sympathy. I except of course the regiments who have mad officers, but you can't help their case with your spare blankets. Officers at home begging better be with their regiments doing their appropriate duties. Government is sending enough if colonels, etc., would only do their part. McCook could feed, clothe, or blanket half a regiment more any time, while alongside of him is a regiment, ragged, hungry, and blanketless, full of correspondents writing home complaints about somebody. It is here as elsewhere. The thrifty and energetic get along, and the lazy and thoughtless send emissaries to the cities to beg. Don't be fooled with this stuff.

I feel for the poor women and children in Cincinnati. The men out here have sufferings, but no more than men of sense expected, and were prepared for, and can bear.

I see Dr. S— wants blankets for the Eighth Regiment. Why isn't he with it, attending to its sick? If its colonel and quartermaster do their duties as he does his, five hundred miles off, they can't expect to get blankets. I have seen the stores sent into this State, and the Government has provided abundantly for all. It vexes me to see how good people are imposed on. I have been through the camps of eight thousand men today, and I tell you they are better fed and clothed than the people of half the wards in Cincinnati. We have sickness which is bad enough, but it is due to causes inseparable from our condition. Living in open air, exposed to changes of weather, will break down one man in every four or five, even if he was “clad in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.”

As for Washington, McClellan and so on, I believe they are doing the thing well. I think it will come out right. Wars are not finished in a day. Lincoln is, perhaps, not all that we could wish, but he is honest, patriotic, cool-headed, and safe. I don't know any man that the Nation could say is under all the circumstances to be preferred in his place.

As for the new governor, I like the change as much as you do. He comes in a little over two months from now.

A big dish of politics. I feared you were among croakers and grumblers, people who do more mischief than avowed enemies to the country.

It is lovely weather again. I hope this letter will find you as well as it leaves me. Love and kisses for the dear ones.
Affectionately, ever,
R. B. Hayes.
Mrs. Hayes.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 119-20

Brigadier-General John A. Rawlins to Mary Emeline Hurlburt Rawlins, April 2, 1864

Fort Monroe, Va., April 2, 1864.

. . . We arrived here yesterday about 9 A. M. The General transacted his business with Major General Butler; reviewed some of the colored troops camped near by; visited the ruins of Hampton; ran down to Norfolk, but the rain setting in just as we reached the landing prevented our going ashore. We returned here with the intention of leaving for Washington at 12 o'clock last night, but the increased violence of the storm rendered the navigation of the bay, with the class of steamers to which ours belongs, so dangerous that the Captain did not venture out, and we are still here, and the storm still raging. When it will cease I know not, but of course like everything else, and all the storms of this world, will end some time.

Had my wishes governed, instead of reviewing troops, visiting ruins, or running down to Norfolk, I should, when through with the conference with General Butler, have gone back to Washington. As it is, we may be here for two days yet. This much for having one's wife with him. If Mrs. Grant had remained in Washington, we would not have mixed with this trip any curiosity or pleasure not strictly in the line of duty. It is true, had not this storm arose no time would have been lost, nor do I imagine the public interests will suffer as it is. Still, I like of all things, to see every one at his post. I am sure my dearest wife will never desire to be with me when it might, by any possibility, seem to influence my judgment in what I should do in the line of duty unless that influence is to hasten me in its performance. When a man's wife is with him he can't help bending a little to the desire of pleasing her, even against her protestations .. .

General W. F. Smith is assigned to duty in this Department and will have a very large command when the spring campaign opens. This is a place of great interest, Fortress Monroe being second to no place in the United States in point of importance or strength, and was to the officers of the old army prior to the rebellion, a sort of paradise, in which they all sought to be ordered on duty. It is in this respect, however, greatly changed and the fine and elegantly furnished officers' quarters are occupied by the volunteers who have leaped ahead of them in rank, and in many instances, in the race of glory. In this I mean no disparagement to them for no more loyal or devoted men can be found anywhere than can be found among the regular officers —  a loyalty a devotion, which the advantages of a military education at West Point has enabled them to render signal service in this our day of severest trial. I am one who admires the men of the old army, who have stood firm, and not one of those who would malign them.

Mrs. Grant is accompanied by Mrs. General Robinson and another lady whose name I do not remember. General Robinson, Mr. Washburne and Colonel Comstock are also along. All are tired and praying for the abatement of the storm, notwithstanding the courtesy of General and Mrs. Butler to every one. I hope we shall be able to start back between this and to-morrow morning so as to reach Culpepper by Monday's train. . . .

SOURCE: James H. Wilson, The Life of John A. Rawlins, p. 408-10

Lieutenant-Colonel Theodore Lyman to Elizabeth Russell Lyman, Friday, October 11, 1864

October 11, 1864

Did I tell you of the two spies, last night? There is a redoubt on our line which had no garrison except a sergeant and two or three men. Towards sunset appeared two officers, who attracted attention, the one by having three stars on his coat arranged somewhat like those of a Rebel colonel, the other by being much concealed by a high collar and a flap hat. They asked a number of questions about the work, which so increased the suspicion that word was sent to General Meade, who ordered a regiment at once to proceed to the spot, and the sergeant to be arrested for not seizing the persons. Who do you think they were? Why, Captain Craig and Rosencrantz, taking an evening stroll! Craig has no circulation and turns up his collar whenever the mercury falls below 70 degrees. Rosie has a Swedish coat with three stars indicating a captain; hence the alarm! This morning arrived a passing visitor, Major-General Doyle, commanding in Nova Scotia. He is a Pat and is favorable to us, for a wonder; gave up the Chesapeake to us, you know. He looks as funny as Punch; indeed just like Punch — a very red edition of him, with a stiff throttled aspect, caused by an apoplectic stock, five inches high. He was a jolly old buck and much amused by a lot of civilians, who also had come up from City Point. He called them T.G.'s, signifying “travelling gents,” and, whenever we came on a redoubt, with a good abattis, he would say to the T.G's: “What do you think, hey? How would you like to attack that, hey?” Upon which the T.G's, whose pantaloons were somewhat up their legs, would look dubious. As he beheld the wonders of the land, he would exclaim: “Oh, bless my soul! why, you know, we have no idea of this at home. Oh, bless my soul!” On the road we met a Rebel deserter, who chanced to be an Irishman, whereat the Doyle was highly delighted and asked him if he got much whiskey the other side. To which Pat replied with regret, that that strengthening beverage cost $30 a quart in Secessia. After trotting him all over creation and giving him a lunch, we put him on top of the Avery house, and let him look at Rebs through a telescope; but I am sure he saw nothing, though he exclaimed, “Bless my soul!” a great deal.

SOURCE: George R. Agassiz, Editor, Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, p. 244-5

Major-General George G. Meade to Margaretta Sergeant Meade, April 24, 1865


Headquarters Army Of The Potomac,
Burksville, Va., April 24, 1865.

I received last evening your letter of the 20th, and was sorry to learn you had so narrowly escaped being mobbed, particularly after the credit you had gained for being the first to display mourning. It certainly was very culpable on the part of –––, after taking upon himself the duty of decorating your house, to neglect it as he did. In such times of excitement some allowance must be made for vulgar and ignorant people, and you must be over careful to avoid giving offense, whether justly or otherwise.

Major Henry's letter is very handsome and very creditable to him; I return it herewith. Some one had sent me an extract from the proceedings of the City Councils, containing Mr. Gratz's letter to Councils, and the resolution accepting Mr. Gratz's gift. No letter came with this printed slip, but it posted me up in the great honor that had been conferred upon me.

Some days ago the Ninth Corps was detached from this army and ordered to Washington — destination unknown (but surmised to be Missouri). Yesterday the Sixth Corps was ordered to Danville, to be there under Sheridan's orders; so that I am reduced to two corps — one the Fifth, guarding the railroad from here to Petersburg; the other, the Second, at this point. I presume one of them will soon be ordered away, probably the Second, to guard the railroad from here to Danville. Being reduced then to one corps, I trust the common sense of my superiors will see the absurdity of calling me the commander of an army, and that I shall be relieved and some other duty assigned me.

SOURCE: George Meade, The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Vol. 2, p. 276

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: June 19, 1861

Yesterday I saw Colonel Bartow, still accompanied by young Lamar, his aid. I wish all our officers were inspired by the same zeal and determination that they are. And are they not?

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 53

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: September 1, 1861

North Carolina writes for arms for her soldiers. Have we any to send? No. Brewster, the plainspoken, says, “The President is ill, and our affairs are in the hands of noodles. All the generals away with the army; nobody here; General Lee in Western Virginia. Reading the third Psalm. The devil is sick, the devil a saint would be. Lord, how are they increased that trouble me? Many are they that rise up against me!”

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 124-5

Diary of Judith W. McGuire: Wednesday, February 19, 1862

We are now in our own comfortable little room on Grace Street, and have quite a home-like feeling. Our children in the city are delighted to have us so near them, and the girls have come on a visit to their cousin, Mrs. C, and will be present at the inauguration on the 22d.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 93

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: May 28, 1862 – After Dark

Phil returned with the carriage; Mr. P. went on to Winchester in an ambulance. Phil heard a gentleman say to him, just as he was stepping into the ambulance, that he was just from Winchester, and Frank was not so ill as he might expect to find him. This is some alleviation of the suspense. Heard today of a son of Dr. Breckenridge's being killed at Shiloh; also, a cousin of Mr. P. being desperately wounded. Two dead soldiers passed through Lexington today. Last week eight dead bodies passed through. We are getting so used to these things, that they cease to excite any attention. Jackson has gained a great success, and the papers ring with eulogiums on “old Stonewall” as they delight to call him. We have heard today of five Lexington boys being wounded at Winchester; Frank P. the only one seriously so.

Miss Magdalen Reid tells me that in buying groceries to begin housekeeping, she paid 45 cents for brown sugar, $1 per lb. for coffee, and $4.50 for tea! The coarsest domestic cotton I ever saw — such as very few servants would be willing to wear, I can only get for 75 cents per yard. Calico, when it can be had at all, is the same price. These records will be interesting for reference hereafter.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 142

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Saturday, April 30, 1864

The Eleventh Iowa was mustered today for pay. The regiment numbers about six hundred men present for duty, and but few are absent on account of sickness. General McPherson is having his entire corps (the Seventeenth) armed with new Springfield rifles, and our regiment today turned over to the quartermaster the Enfield rifles and old accouterments to draw the new rifles and accouterments. Most of the men feel that the Enfield rifle is better suited to our use than the new one, for it has a bronze barrel, hence easier to keep clean, as the outside does not require extra polishing.

I took a walk this afternoon over Cairo to view the town. There is a great deal of building going on, even if it is one of the biggest mudholes in the State of Illinois. The town may be said to be on stilts, for the buildings rest on posts, ten or twelve feet from the ground, and of course the sidewalks are the same. There are only two or three really nice buildings in the town. But it is a very important place for our armies, as it is the mobilizing point for our army on the Mississippi and the Tennessee rivers.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 184

Diary of Corporal Charles H. Lynch: July 12, 1864

A fine morning. When relieved from duty went to the large spring for a bath. Called on Mrs. Shults, my wash-woman. A fine old German woman. Always did my washing and the mending of my clothes. Her old father lived with her. Owned a small home on the Winchester Pike, close to the town. They were pleased to see the Union soldiers in the town again. So far all things remain quiet. The enemy must be in this section.

SOURCE: Charles H. Lynch, The Civil War Diary, 1862-1865, of Charles H. Lynch 18th Conn. Vol's, p. 97

Diary of Luman Harris Tenney: March 18, 1862

Ruled the blank abstract provision return book — nineteen pages. Wrote to Ella Clark.

SOURCE: Frances Andrews Tenney, War Diary Of Luman Harris Tenney, p. 9

Friday, February 27, 2015

Brigadier-General John A. Rawlins to Mary Emeline Hurlburt Rawlins, March 30, 1864

March 30, 1864.

. . . Did not get off to Butler's Department, but will go to-morrow. . .  Everything here still and quiet. Deserters from Lee's army say there is a rumor in their camps that General Lee said recently that the Army of the Potomac has been long enough at Culpepper and that he intended to start it from there soon. They keep rations constantly on hand for a march, but whether he designs to attack us here or simply to be in readiness, should we move to attack him, is not known. Probably the latter. . . .

I send herewith the answer to the letter I sent General Grant in rear of Vicksburg, which you will please take special pains to preserve. . .1
_______________

1 This letter has not been found, and no member of the Rawlins family knows what became of it.

SOURCE: James H. Wilson, The Life of John A. Rawlins, p. 408

Lieutenant-Colonel Theodore Lyman to Elizabeth Russell Lyman, Friday, October 10, 1864

October 10, 1864

General Humphreys deserted us to-night, for a brief leave — no, of course I mean he went early this morning, having taken his breakfast before us. The good General is fond of sitting awhile and talking after meals. He discourses sometimes on the art military and said it was “a godlike occupation”! “Ah,” he said, “war is a very bad thing in the sequel, but before and during a battle it is a fine thing!” (Note by T. L. — I don't see it.) The Commander has been death on riding round lately on his jog-trotter, to inspect and mouse over works. He is mighty smart at such things, and if a line is run fifty feet out of position, he sees it like a flash. It is very creditable to our engineers, that, though a part of our works were laid out after dark, no corrections have been made in the general position. I had the honor to follow George about, as he rode round the country. In the camps, one sees the modes of punishment adopted. One ingenious Colonel had erected a horizontal bar, about a dozen feet from the ground, and supported at each end by a post. On this elevated perch he causes malefactors to sit all the day long, to their great discomfort and repentance. In the 9th Corps, they had put some barrels on the breastworks, and, on these high pedestals, made the men stand. They had run away in the fight and had great placards of “Coward” on them. A pretty severe punishment if they had any shame left. This is a grubby little letter, for my tent has been invaded by various silly, chattering, idle officers.

SOURCE: George R. Agassiz, Editor, Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, p. 243

Major-General George G. Meade to Margaretta Sergeant Meade, April 23, 1865

Headquarters Army Of The Potomac,
Burksville, Va., April 23, 1865.

An order came yesterday constituting Virginia into the Military Division of the James, assigning Major General Halleck to the command, and putting myself and the Army of the Potomac under him.

This is the most cruel and humiliating indignity that has been put upon me. (It is General Grant's work, and done by him with a full knowledge of my services and the consideration due to them, all of which have been ignored by him to suit his convenience). The order is a perfectly legitimate one, and to which, as a soldier, I have no right to make any objection, General Halleck being my senior in the regular army. I understand, however, the whole affair. After the assassination of the President, General Grant, who had previously determined to return here, made up his mind to remain in Washington. He wished to find a place for Halleck. His first order assigned Halleck to the command of the Department of Virginia, in Ord's place, sending Ord to South Carolina. I presume Halleck demurred at this, as a position not equal to what he was entitled. At Halleck's remonstrance, and to render acceptable his removal from Washington, this order was rescinded, and the order issued making the Military Division of the James, and putting both Ord and myself under him. I feel quite confident that, if I had been in Washington and my remonstrances could have been heard, I either would have frustrated this plan, or have been provided for in some way more consistent with my past services, but les absens ont toujours tort was fully illustrated in this instance, and there is nothing left me but the submission which a good soldier should always show to the legitimate orders of his superiors. I, however, now give up Grant.

I am glad Lyman called to see you. He is an honest man and a true friend. He has a healthy mental organization, which induces him to look on all matters in the most favorable light.

SOURCE: George Meade, The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Vol. 2, p. 275-6

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: June 18, 1861

The city is content at the evacuation. The people have unbounded confidence in the wisdom of the administration, and the ability of our generals. Beauregard is the especial favorite. The soldiers, now arming daily, are eager for the fray; and it is understood a great battle must come off before many weeks; as it is the determination of the enemy to advance from the vicinity of Washington, where they are rapidly concentrating. But our people must curb their impatience. And yet we dare not make known the condition of the army,—the awful fact which may be stated here—and will not be known until after-years, — that we have not enough ammunition at Manassas to fight a battle. There are not percussion caps enough in our army for a serious skirmish. It will be obviated in a few weeks; and until then I pray there may be no battle. But if the enemy advance, our brave men will give them the cold steel. We must win the first battle at all hazards, and at any cost; and, after that, — how long after? — we must win the last!

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 53

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: August 31, 1861

Congress adjourns to-day. Jeff Davis ill. We go home on Monday if I am able to travel. Already I feel the dread stillness and torpor of our Sahara of a Sand Hill creeping into my veins. It chills the marrow of my bones. I am reveling in the noise of city life. I know what is before me. Nothing more cheering than the cry of the lone whippoorwill will break the silence at Sandy Hill, except as night draws near, when the screech-owl will add his mournful note.

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 124

Diary of Judith W. McGuire: Tuesday Evening, February 18, 1862

It is all true. Our brave men have yielded to overpowering numbers. The struggle for three days was fearful. The dread particulars are not known. Wild stories are told of the numbers captured. God in his mercy help us!

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 93

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: May 28, 1862

This has been a day of painful suspense about poor Frank; the mail brought us no letter; but one was received by some one else, which says that Frank's arm (in the opinion of the surgeon who spoke to the writer) may probably have to be amputated.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 141-2

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Friday, April 29, 1864

It is quite cool and cloudy, with some rain this afternoon. The Ohio river is rising fast. The veterans keep arriving daily at Cairo. The Seventeenth Army Corps is being reorganized as fast as possible and sent up the Tennessee river and landed at Clifton, and is then to march across to Huntsville, Alabama. Our mustering rolls are being made out and we are to be mustered in tomorrow. I received my discharge from the old service, dated December 31, 1863, and sent the certificate home for father to keep till I return.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 183-4

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Brigadier-General John A. Rawlins to Mary Emeline Hurlburt Rawlins, March 29, 1864

March 29, [1864].

. . . To-morrow the General goes to General Butler's Department. Colonel Comstock and I will accompany him. This may possibly prevent my writing to you for two days. . . .

SOURCE: James H. Wilson, The Life of John A. Rawlins, p. 408

Lieutenant-Colonel Theodore Lyman to Elizabeth Russell Lyman, Friday, October 7, 1864

October 7, 1864

There is a certain General Benham, who commands the engineers at City Point, and was up about laying out some works. Channing Clapp is on his Staff. You ought to see this “Ginral.” He has the face and figure of Mr. Briggs and wears continually the expression of Mr. B. when his horse sat down at the band of music. When he had got through all the explanations, which were sufficient to have laid out a permanent work of the first class, the Meade rose with weariness, and eased his spirit by riding out and looking at my new camp-ground, and inspecting those everlasting redoubts. Now that the camp is arranged, the Meade is dubious about moving: that's like him! When we got to the extreme left, he thought he would go out and take a peek at the picket line. First there was a little bunch of cavalry. They were of a jocose turn; they had found an old pair of wheels whereon they had mounted a keg, making a very good cannon, which pointed, in a threatening manner, down the road. Its ensemble was completed by a figure, closely resembling those that defend cornfields, and which was keeping steady guard with a small pole. A hundred yards beyond was the picket reserve, behind a barricade. Then, beyond, a couple of hundred yards more, the sentries, each standing and looking sharply to the front. The one in the road was a half-breed Indian, though he looked more like a Neapolitan. He had that taciturnity that clings to the last drop of blood. “Are you a picket here?” asked the General. “Yes.” “Is there anyone on your right and left?” “No.” “You are an Indian, are you not?” “Part.” All of which the red warrior delivered, without turning his gaze from the vista before him. Beyond this gentleman was a post of two cavalry videttes. From this place we could get a very good view of one of the Rebel lines of earthworks; but there seemed very few men behind it. I could only notice one or two. And so we rode back again past the perils of the keg cannon. General Warren has a short leave, and General Crawford commands the Corps, to the indignation, I presume, of old cocks like Griffin and Ayres; for C. was doctor in Fort Sumter, and thus got a star, and thus is an old brigadier, and thus ranks the regulars G. and A. General Grant was on a flying visit to Washington to-day. I like to have him down here: first, he gives a general balance and steadiness; then, what is most important, he can order — just order what groceries he pleases, and no questions asked behind the counter!

SOURCE: George R. Agassiz, Editor, Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, p. 241-3

Major-General George G. Meade to Henry A. Cram, April 22, 1865

Headquarters Army Of The Potomac,
Burksville, Va., April 22, 1865.

I shall be most delighted to pay Katharine1 and yourself a visit in Irving Place, but the prospect of such felicity does not seem very near.

I am at present very much demoralized by a recent order which places me and my army under the command of General Halleck, who has been transferred from Washington to Richmond. In order to make General Halleck's removal from Washington acceptable to him, and appear necessary to the public, the services of myself and army are ignored, and this indignity put upon us; and this by Grant, who wrote the letter he did last winter, and who professes the warmest friendship. All this entre nous.

We of the army have done our work; the military power of the Rebellion is shattered. It remains for statesmen, if we have any, to bring the people of the South back to their allegiance and into the Union. How and when this will be accomplished, no one can tell. In the meantime, I presume our armies will have to occupy the Southern States. I am myself for conciliation, as the policy most likely to effect a speedy reunion. If we are going to punish treason, as perhaps strict justice would demand, we shall have to shed almost as much blood as has already been poured out in this terrible war. These are points, however, for others to adjust.
_______________

1 Wife of Mr. Cram.

SOURCE: George Meade, The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Vol. 2, p. 274-5