Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Mark W. Delahay to Abraham Lincoln, May 13, 1860

Tremont House,
Gage, Bro. & Drake, Proprietors
Chicago, 10 P M May 13th 1860
Hon A Lincoln

My Dear Sir

Since your Springfield friends have been fairly located matters have been looking up. I have taken to their quarters a number of the Iowa Delegates, some of the Minnesota and all the Kansas. I have taken “Cottenwood” into my Room, he is sound. Ross & Proctor of Kansas I think can be managed their prefference is Chase. But even with the Seward Delegates you are their 2nd Choice – Greely is here as a Proxie for Origon, and is telling a Crowd now around him that NY can be carried for Bates I think he is Calculated rather to injure Seward – Some of the N. J. men talk very well as I just learned from Col Ross – and so do some of the Mass men – they say they are for a success – I have induced the Penna Delegates to stop talking about their man as an ultum attim. They have mooted one thing, that would Kill them off and I have admonished them to abandon it, which was to call Ills Ind Penna & N. J. Delegates together to harmonize between you & Cameron, such a move would appear like a “Slate” and Seward is too potent here to attempt such a meeting, his friends would probably Slate us, if it were done – I have been up late & Early and am perfectly cool & hopeful –


Carson Dobbins Hay to Abraham Lincoln, March 27, 1860

Newton Jasper Co. Ills
March 27th 1860
Hon. A. Lincoln

Honored & Dear Sir

I have been highly delighted at Seeing the perfect Success of your tour East. It is very evident that nothing has transpired recently to so much advance your interest and elevate you in the minds of the people, as that short trip.

I regret you did not address the people of Pennsylvania & New Jersey. I see by the papers that you were urged by the people of those States to do so. Cant you do it yet? Those are two of the doubtful States, and we must have Pennsylvania or we are almost certainly defeated, and I believe there is no man can do as much to secure Penna. as yourself. After the meeting of the Chicago Convention it will probably be too late for you to Speak in Penna. as I think in all probability you will be chosen our Standard-bearer—

I saw one of the delegates to that Convn the other day from the Southern part of Indiana and he Said that the Indiana delegation would will go for Abraham Lincoln on the first balot. He said it was all a mistake about Indiana going for Bates. It is ascertained that the Germans are opposed to Bates, and this fact being once fully understood, will lay him on the Shelf.

I was of opinion some time since, that as it was so all important to carry Penna. it would be pollicy for us to place a Pennsylvanian at the head of the ticket, but I am now fully of the opinion that the Strongest ticket we can get is Abraham Lincoln for President and Simon Cameron for Vice P. –

I shall be at the Decatur Convention and hope to meet you there—

I must not close, without mentioning the fact that we have a little Abraham Lincoln at our house, about twenty four hours old– His arrival created something of a Stir in our little town as it got noised around that your Honor was at Mr Hays, and Several persons were on their way to call on you, when it was discovered that it was not the original, but only a namesake—

I hope you will not think I am trying to flatter you . . . What I write comes from the bottom of my heart –

Believe me very Sincerely and Truly Your Friend and Humb. Sevt.

C. D. Hay

Zaccheus Beatty to Abraham Lincoln, February 3, 1860

Republican Office
Knoxville, Ill. Feb. 3d, 1860
Hon. A. Lincoln

Sir – I enclose you an article, written by Davidson, and published in the Monmouth Review of to-day, not knowing that you will receive it from any other source. I suppose the extract is from your Kansas speech; and more, I think it is all right. The only importance I attach to it is, that it is the beginning of some infamous plot, concocted by the Democrats of Illinois and Missouri, intended to defeat your nomination in the Chicago Convention. I may be mistaken – but “forewarned,” &c.

Letters from some of my friends from at Washington, D. C., express strong desires for your nomination, and seek to strengthen the force already committed to your interest.

If Mr. Cameron will be content with the Vice Presidency, many of your friends suppose there will be but little difficulty in forming a ticket – Lincoln and Cameron. Hurrah!

But perhaps I am presuming too much upon the introduction I received to you in Peoria, at the time of your reply to Douglas, and bring this note to a close with my best wishes for your success.

Respectfully Yours,
Z. Beatty

Mark W. Delahay to Abraham Lincoln, February 6, 1860

Lawrence Feby 6th 1860
Dear Lincoln

Trumbull says in a Letter, that I recd yesterday, that he would be glad to serve me in any way he could; Do you know any of our members under the State Constitution, that you could say a word to for me, or could you not by writing to your friends at Washington for me, in that way do me a good service– Genl. Lane has just made this Latter suggestion to me– Trumbull, says two members of the Legislature has written to him asking his advise &c but that he gave not; now a word from you to Trumbull could get him to write those members in my behalf – You can loose nothing by it, But may do me a great benefit– Lane, is the only man that is prominently before the people for Senator; he can be elected without any combination, and he can designate his colleague, and I am that man of which he will assure you if it would be any source of satisfaction to you to have him do – I think we can show a Pretty Determined front for you at Chicago; The Bates movement has a little more prominency just at this time than I desire to see. – I think Cameron or Reed for Vice Pres & yourself would give is a certain success – hoping you are well and in good keeping, I Remain Truly & faithfully your friend

M W Delahay

My health is not good, my duties are arduous, all my Clerks are raw hands, &c

Abraham Lincoln to Mark W. Delahay, March 16, 1860

Springfield, Ills– Mar–16, 1860
Dear Delahay–

I have just returned from the East. Before leaving, I received your letter of Feb. 6; and on my return I find those of the 17th. & 19th. with Genl. Lane's note inclosed in one of them.

I sincerely wish you could be elected one of the first Senators for Kansas; but how to help you I do not know. If it were permissable for me to interfere, I am not personally acquainted with a single member of your Legislature. If my known friendship for you could be of any advantage, that friendship was abundantly manifested by me last December while in Kansas. If any member had written me, as you say some have Trumbull, I would very readily answer him. I shall write Trumbull on the subject at this sitting.

I understood, while in Kansas, that the State Legislature will not meet until the State is admitted. Was that the right understanding?

As to your kind wishes for myself, allow me to say I can not enter the ring on the money basis– first, because, in the main, it is wrong; and secondly, I have not, and can not get, the money. I say, in the main, the use of money is wrong; but for certain objects, in a political contest, the use of some, is both right, and indispensable. With me, as with yourself, this long struggle has been one of great pecuniary loss. I now distinctly say this. If you shall be appointed a delegate to Chicago, I will furnish one hundred dollars to bear the expences of the trip. 

Present my respects to Genl. Lane; and say to him, I shall be pleased to hear from him at any time.

Your friend, as ever

P.S. I have not yet taken the newspaper slip to the Journal. I shall do that to-morrow; and then send you the paper as requested.

A. L.

SOURCE: Roy P. Basler, Editor, The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol. 4, p. 31-2

Senator William H. Seward to Thurlow Weed, April 29, 1859

Washington, April 29, 1859.

Dear Weed, — The southern and western politicians have habits and usages different from ours. They come upon me with a directness which confounds me. I have two or three subjects submitted by them which I propose to you now, because in the hurry of preparing my business for departure for Europe I must save time. You can keep this letter at hand and refer to it at leisure.

Many southern gentlemen express to me a wish that the national convention may be held somewhere on the border. Without expressing any opinion about it as an abstract question, I think our friends ought to know that it was understood at Washington that Humphrey Marshall intends to go over to the Democrats. If Louisville should be suggested as the place, the committee would of course consider Mr. Marshall's position in connection with the subject. It might have a bearing against such a selection.

The Baltimore “———” is in trouble. Mayor Swayne, Judge Lee, Mr. Cole, and others there want to have the paper reorganized and brought into the position of an organ in that State and for the country south of the Potomac, of the Republican party. They had Simon Cameron over there a week or two ago to confer. They think they will need some funds from the North, but I am satisfied that if they only had the benefit of your advice and Cameron's, they would be able to subscribe all the funds they want, and would promptly do so. Cameron and I promised them that we would ask you to meet him there. Cameron knows them all, and he will go at any time.

Speaking of Cameron, I promised him when he left Washington to spend a day or so with him on my way home. He took me to his house, told me all was right. He was for me, and Pennsylvania would be. It might happen that they would cast the first ballot for him, but he was not in, etc. He brought the whole legislature of both parties to see me, feasted them gloriously, and they were in the main so generous as to embarrass me.

I have Stetson's letter to you. Corwin is uneasy and fidgety; but persons who live in Ohio have excuses. They are inheritors of a noble reversion, and they would like to extinguish the present estate without being able or willing to pay its cost. He wrote me a month ago, inclosing a pitiful piece of twaddle from a correspondent of the “Express,” saying that he was against me as everybody else was. He contradicted the allegation, and said that the Cincinnati “Gazette” would contain an authorized denial. . . .

You will find John S. Pendleton, of Virginia, bold enough and well disposed for anything. The man in the District of Columbia is Henry Addison, now Mayor of Georgetown. He is wise, honest, indomitable and unreserved. You may send him safely anywhere.

Yours faithfully,
William H. Seward.

SOURCE: Harriet A. Weed, Editor, Life of Thurlow Weed Including His Autobiography and a Memoir, Volume 2, p. 256-7

David Wilmot to Abraham Lincoln, July 11, 1860

Towanda July 11th. 1860.
Hon. A. Lincoln.

Dear Sir:

Your note of the 4th inst reached me on the 9th.

I wrote you from Chicago, saying I should return home by way of Phila., and that if I observed or heard anything worthy of note, I would write you from that City. My stay in Phila. was more brief than I anticipated – one day only and as I learned nothing of interest, I did not write you.

Your note of the 22d of May was directed to me at Phila. and did not come to hand untill a few days since. I was thinking of writing you when I recd. your last favor.

I see nothing discouraging in the condition of affairs in this State: indeed to me everything looks hopeful and promising. From the day of your nomination, I have had but little doubt of our success in this State. Since the clear development of Mr Buchanan's policy, there has been an overwhelming majority of our people opposed to his Administration. I believed they would generally write in support of any of the prominent candidates before our Convention, except Govs. Seward & Chase. These gentlemen had occupied positions of such mark in the conflicts of the past ten years, that the Conservative & American elements in this State were irrevocably committed against them; but would support other men of equally advanced republican positions, but who had not been held up before them for years, in so unfavorable a light

The division of the democracy of this State is formidable, and I believe irreconcilable. Forney can be of much greater service in moving against a Coalition or Union, than he could possibly be in supporting our ticket. He stands now a recognized & influential leader of the Douglass forces; in the other contingency, he would have been denounced as a traitor, and his influence greatly weakened. At this time Douglass is in the ascendent in this State over Breckenridge, but the latter will gain from this time to the Election. There is no starch in the Northern democracy, and unless the weakened democrats of the North, & especially of Penna, the most servile of the race, shall see, as they will, that Breckenridge is to losing the South, they will flock by the thousands to his standard. They dare not seperate themselves from the South. They understand the danger of such a position, and that away from the South, there is no democratic party.

I cannot feel a doubt of the result. The confusion of Bable has fallen upon the counsels of the Enemies of Freedom. They are doomed through their great iniquities, and by the inexorable moral law of Heaven, to defeat, shame & humiliation. The moral and political power of the party of Slavery is broken, and no patched up arrangements of its leaders, were such a thing possible, can save it from its just doom. The Democracy must turn from its errors, and receive its virtue and strength at the formation of its principles, before it can have the power to retain another political victory. In truth all that remains of democracy in this country, is embodied in the Republican party

I have written you a long and I fear tedious letter

I hope to see you in the fall

very respectfully yours
D. Wilmot

Monday, August 29, 2016

Diary of Gideon Welles: Saturday, October 18, 1862

The ravages by the roving steamer 290, alias Alabama, are enormous. England should be held accountable for these outrages. The vessel was built in England and has never been in the ports of any other nation. British authorities were warned of her true character repeatedly before she left. Seward called on me in some excitement this p.m., and wished me to meet the President, himself, Stanton, and Halleck at the War Department relative to important dispatches just received. As we walked over together, he said we had been very successful in getting a dispatch, which opened up the whole Rebel proceedings, — disclosed their plans and enabled us to prepare for them; that it was evident there was a design to make an immediate attack on Washington by water, and it would be well to buy vessels forthwith if we had not a sufficient number ready for the purpose. When we entered Stanton's room, General Halleck was reading the document alluded to and examining the maps. No one else was present. Stanton had left the Department. The President was in the room of the telegraph operator. The document purported to be a dispatch from General Cooper, Assistant Secretary of War of the Confederates, to one of the Rebel agents in England. A question arose as to the authenticity of the dispatch. Halleck, who is familiar with Cooper's signature, doubted after examining the paper if this was genuine. Adjutant-General Thomas was sent for and requested to bring Cooper's signature for comparison. Seward then took the papers and commenced reading aloud. The writer spoke of “the mountains of Arlington,” “the fleet of the Potomac,” “the fleet of the North,” etc. I interrupted Seward, and said it was a clumsy manufacture; that the dispatch could have been written by no American, certainly not by General Cooper, or any person conversant with our affairs or the topography of the country; that there were no mountains of Arlington, no fleet of the Potomac, or fleet of the North. General Halleck mentioned one or two other points which impressed him that the dispatch was bogus. The President came in while we were criticizing the document, the reading of which was concluded by Seward, when the President took the papers and map to examine them. General Thomas soon brought a number of Cooper's signatures, and all were satisfied at a glance that the purported signature was fictitious.

Seward came readily to the opinion that the papers were bogus and that the consul, or minister, — he did not say which, — had been sadly imposed upon, — sold. The dispatch had, he said, cost a good deal of money. It was a palpable cheat. It may be a question whether the British authorities have not connived at it, to punish our inquisitive countrymen for trying to pry into their secrets. It is just five weeks since the Battle of Antietam, and the army is quiet, reposing in camp. The country groans, but nothing is done. Certainly the confidence of the people must give way under this fatuous inaction. We have sinister rumors of peace intrigues and strange management. I cannot give them credit, yet I know little of what is being done. The Secretary of War is reticent, vexed, disappointed, and communicates nothing. Neither he nor McClellan will inspire or aid the other.

Chase is pursuing a financial policy which I fear will prove disastrous, perhaps ruinous. His theories in regard to gold and currency appear to me puerile. General Dix is pressing schemes in regard to the blockade and trade at Norfolk which are corrupt and demoralizing. Dix himself is not selling licenses, but the scoundrels who surround him are, and he can hardly be ignorant of the fact. The gang of rotten officers on his staff have sent him here. One of the worst has his special confidence, and Dix is under the influence of this cunning, bad man. He has plundering thieves about him, — some, I fear, as destitute of position as honesty. McClellan is not accused of corruption, but of criminal inaction. His inertness makes the assertions of his opponents prophetic. He is sadly afflicted with what the President calls the “slows.” Many believe him to be acting on the army programme avowed by Key

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 1: 1861 – March 30, 1864, p. 175-7

Salmon P. Chase to John Thomas* of Cortlandville, New York, June 24, 1847

June 24, [1847.]

I am much obliged to you for yr. kind letter of the 11th ult. wh. I recd. yesty. It always gratifies me to hear of the condition & prospects of the great cause which engages us both & to be informed of the views & feelings of A. S. men in all parts of the Country: I wish there was more of communion between our friends. I am satisfied that it wd. greatly allay jealousy, & insure, instead, confidence & the activity wh. springs from confidence. I can echo from the heart all you say of the merits of our excellent friend Gerrit Smith. I honor him & love him as a true friend not merely of human right but of humanity. Shd. it become necessary for the Lib. Party to nome. candidates for the P. & V. P. in '48 & shd. he receive that nomination, he shall have my cordial & earnest support. I have not sufficy. compared the reasons wh. may be urged for his nomination, wh. may be urged for the nominn. of some other equally reliable A. S. man to be able to make up my mind, whether I shd., if a memb. of a noming. convn. give my voice for him in pref. to evy other. Indeed, at this time, when we can see so little of the circums. wh. must detere, this choice, it seems to me the pn. of prudence, to note facts & traits of char. & reserve a final decision until the moment shall call for it.

It seems to me yet doubtful whether the Lib. P'y will have any occasion to nominate candidates for the Nat1. Elect. of '48: I have not a doubt that Gen. Taylor will be the Whig nominee, though he says in a letter shewn me to day & of wh. I will send you a copy to morrow that he will not accept a party nomn. If he be the candidate of the Whigs or a no party candidate, supported by the entire body of S. Whigs & the majority of N. Whigs, the N. democracy will be obliged to throw itself upon A. S. ground.

Even Gen. Taylor, cotton planter & sugar planter as he is —  slave-holder as he is — feels, as you will see, by the letter referred to, the necessity of taking if not a favorable position, at least a neutral one, in reference to the Wilmot proviso. What ground then may not the democracy be reasonably expected to take? Will they not be compelled to take, substantially, the ground of the Lib. P.? If they take it, will they not constitute in part the Lib. P.—? I am not prepared to assume the prophectic charr. & predict the events & developments of the coming winter, but I think the signs of the times are such, that we ought to wait & observe at least until Spring: and then take that course which a wise & consistent regard to the grand paramount object of the Lib. organn., viz. the overthrow of the Slave Power & the extinction of slavery in our country shall lead us to. The first political aspiration of my heart is that my country & all my countrymen may be free. This is my paramount political purpose & object. To attain this end I am content to labor & if need be to suffer. I have always regarded the Lib. organization as a means to this end I now regard it as nothing more. I feel ready therefore to give up the Lib. Organn. at any time when I see that the great object can be accomplished without the sacrifice of principle in less time by another agency. I must indeed be well assured that such other agency will be more efficient & act upon honest principles, but once assured of this I shd. regard the question of duty as solved.

I acknowledge myself much gratified by the kind consideration of yrself & others. I do not think it at all probable that a contingency will arise in which the interest of the cause of Freedom will be promoted by presenting my name for the high office you refer to.

I am comparatively young, & unknown & my services to the cause have been slight in comparison with many others. For these & other reasons I do not wish to have my name spoken of for the V. P. We have worthy men enough in the West, if it be desired to have a western man. Judge King or Mr. Lewis of this State or Judge Stevens of Indiana not to mention others wd. fill the station with honor & credit. If however it shall become necessary for the Lib. Men to nominate Candidate as a distinct party, & — what seems to me very improbable — the contingency shall arise that the friends of freedom deem it wisest & best to have my name upon the ticket, I shd. hardly feel at liberty to withhold it. I shd. however, even then, consult my own sense of duty & be guided I trust by its admonitions.

I shall be very happy to hear further from you & to have the benefit of yr. suggestions as to the views I have presented as to the possible inability & inexpediency of separate Lib. nominations. I see the Macedon Lock Convention has nominated Mr. Smith & Mr. Burritt.1 I send you the Daily Herald of to day the leading article of wh— expresses my views of the conn. and its nomination. I regard this Convention & the attempts which are made to make eccl. connexion a political test in the Lib. Party, as indications that the necessities of the times will require a diff. instrumentality from that of the Lib. P. for the overthrow of slay.

I send you a copy of my argt. for Vanzandt — He is dead & the spoiler defeated &c.

Present to Mr. Smith when you see him the assurances of my most cordial respect & affection & believe me

* From letter-book 6, pp. 94-95.

1 See T. C. Smith, History of the Liberty and Free Soil Parties in the North West, 101, for this action of the “Liberty League.”

SOURCE: Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1902, Vol. 2, p. 118-20

William Schouler* to James S. Pike, April 25, 1850

House Of Representatives,
Boston, April 25, 1850.

My Dear Pike: You don't know how glad I was to receive your letter of the 20th inst. The spirit of the letter was in unison with my own feelings and with the feelings of all good Whigs in this quarter. The ways of Congress to some are “past finding out,” but they are now being discovered. I know that I do not overstate the fact when I tell you that our good old President is daily increasing in popular favor and regard, and Clay and Webster are decreasing in a like ratio.

We are determined here to stand by the administration, and no longer pay court to Hunkerdom anyhow. I have taken an unequivocal position, and I shall sink or swim with it. I find, however, that very little nerve is required to sustain this ground, for the people here are all of one accord. Even those who signed the letter to Mr. Webster, and were recalled by a certain speech to a “true sense of their constitutional duties,” do not find fault with me, with one or two exceptions, and they are the “born thralls of Cedric,” the Wambas and Gurths, for whom I care nothing, and who have little or no influence upon the popular mind because they are known, known even without the brass collar.

The Whig party in our State stand firm as a rock, and I have no doubt that we shall draw in a large part of the Freesoil party to the support of the administration. I don't know what we shall do in the Fourth District. The election takes place on the 29th of May. I think, however, that whoever the Whig Convention nominates will be elected. The Whig candidate, you know, has declined. He may be renominated again. His letter of declension was first-rate, and has added to his popularity, and may cause him to be put on the track again. It is possible that Hon. Samuel Hoar will receive the nomination; if so, he will certainly be elected, as the Freesoil men and Whigs can both elect him. I have known him for twenty years, and there is no better Whig living. He was opposed to General Taylor, but he has been satisfied with the old man, and he told me this forenoon that every thing which the administration had done since it came into power met with his hearty concurrence. He has had a seat alongside of me in the House for nearly four months, and I know of no better Whig anywhere. Still it is doubtful whether he will be nominated, or, if nominated, that he would accept to run against Palfrey. Nous verrons.

Your letters to the Courier are just the fodder, and I read them with great delight; they will do good.

I really hope that you will write me often. I like your letters hugely. Give my respects to the “honorable Truman,” and all other good and true Taylor men.

Yours truly,
Wm. Schoulbr.

* Editor of the Boston Atlas.

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. 42-3

Memorandum of John Thomas Pickett, April 10, 1861

DepaRtment of State,
Washington, April 10, 1861

Messrs. Forsyth, Crawford and Roman, having been apprised by a memorandum, which has been delivered to them, that the Secretary of State is not at liberty to hold official intercourse with them, will, it is presumed, expect no notice from him of the new communication which they have addressed to him, under the date of the 9th inst., beyond the simple acknowledgment of the receipt thereof, which he hereby very cheerfully gives.

A true copy of the original received by the Commissioners of the Confederate States, this 10th day of April, 1861.

J. T. PICKETT, Secretary, &c., &c.

SOURCES: Samuel Wylie Crawford, The Genesis of the Civil War: The Story of Sumter, 1860-1861, p. 343; D. Appleton & Company, The American Annual Cyclop√¶dia and Register of Important Events of the Year 1861, p. 713

Captain William Thompson Lusk to Elizabeth Adams Lusk, January 27, 1862

Jan. 27th.

We find all sorts of communication with home fairly cut off. Gen. Sherman has been long planning some expedition against Fort Pulaski. At length it has started from Hilton Head, and Gen. Sherman, with his characteristic caution has closed all communication, fearful that otherwise, through letter, or in some other manner his plans might be revealed. I trust when the embargo is raised, the same steamer that carries this to you, will bear accounts of some new success from our expedition.

I am sorry Uncle Phelps is disappointed that he did not have the pleasure of reading my name in print. Why, I read the other day (in the Herald), how I commanded an enterprise at which I was not even present. So much for newspaper glory! After Bull Run, numbers who never left New York, had themselves puffed for gallant conduct by a mercenary press. Pooh! Mother, your reputation outside the circle of those who can see, is not worth the words that picture it. I have to laugh when I think of Brig.-Gen. of the Irish Brigade, and the affrighted Captain beating a quick retreat from Bull Run, swearing that the South had fought well and deserved its independence — that it was useless to resist a free people, and the sooner we recognize the South the better.

Since then has become a great hero, by the mighty powers of quackery.

Well, dear Mother, Good-bye.

Yours affectionately,
W. T. Lusk.

SOURCE: William Chittenden Lusk, Editor, War Letters of William Thompson Lusk, p. 119-20

John L. Motley to Baron von Bismarck, August 29, 1862

Legation of the United States of America, Vienna,
August 29, 1862.

My Dear Bismarck: I have been at this point now about eight months, and ever since I came here I have been most desirous of opening communications with you. But for a long time you seemed to be so much on the move between Berlin, Petersburg, and Paris that even if I should succeed in getting a letter to you, it appears doubtful whether I should be lucky enough to receive a reply.

Perhaps I shall be more successful now, for the newspapers inform me that you are in some watering-place in the south of France. So I shall write but a very brief note, merely to express my great desire to hear from you again, and my hope that in an idle moment, if you ever have such, you will send me a line to tell me of yourself, your prosperity, and of your wife and children.

Pray give my sincerest regards to Madame de Bismarck, and allow me to add those of my wife, although personally still unknown to you both, alas!

I don't know whether you have observed in any newspapers that I was appointed about a year ago minister plenipotentiary, etc., to this court. I arrived here from America about the beginning of November. I much fear that this is the very last place in Europe where I shall ever have the good luck of seeing you. Nevertheless, whether you remain in Paris or go — as seems most likely from all I can gather from private and public sources — to Berlin this autumn to form a ministry, in either case there is some chance of our meeting some time or other, while there would have been none so long as you remained in St. Petersburg. Pray let me have a private line from you; you can't imagine how much pleasure it will give me. My meeting with you in Frankfort, and thus renewing the friendship of our youth, will remain one of the most agreeable and brightest chapters in my life. And it is painful to think that already that renewed friendship is beginning to belong to the past, and that year after year is adding a fold to the curtain.

However, you must write to me, and tell me where we can all meet next summer, if no sooner. I wish you would let me know whether and how soon you are to make a cabinet in Berlin. Remember that when you write to me it is as if you wrote to some one in the planet Jupiter. Personally, I am always deeply interested in what concerns you. But, publicly, I am a mere spectator of European affairs, and wherever and whatever my sympathies in other times than these might be, I am too entirely engrossed with the portentous events now transacting in my own country to be likely to intermeddle or make mischief in the doings of this hemisphere, save in so far as they may have bearing on our own politics. You can say anything you like to me, then, as freely as when you were talking to me in your own house.

The cardinal principle of American diplomacy has always been to abstain from all intervention or participation in European affairs. This has always seemed to me the most enlightened view to take of our exceptional, and therefore fortunate, political and geographical position. I need not say how earnest we are in maintaining that principle at this moment, when we are all determined to resist to the death any interference on the part of Europe in our affairs.

I wish, by the way, you would let me know anything you can pick up in regard to the French emperor's intentions or intrigues in regard to our civil war.

Of course I don't suggest to you for an instant any violation of confidence, but many things might be said with great openness to you that would not, from reserve or politeness or a hundred other reasons, be said to an American diplomatist.

I suppose there is no doubt whatever that L. N. has been perpetually, during the last six months, provoking, soliciting, and teasing the English cabinet to unite with him in some kind of intervention, and that the English ministers have steadily refused to participate in the contemplated crime. Of course they know and we know that intervention means war with the United States government and people on behalf of the rebel slaveholders; but I have very good reason to know that the English government refuse, and that Lord Palmerston even ridicules the idea as preposterous. Not that the English love us. On the contrary, they hate us, but they can't understand how it will help the condition of their starving populations in the manufacturing districts to put up the price of cotton five hundred per cent., which a war with America would do, and to cause an advance in corn in the same proportion. There is no doubt whatever that the harvest in England is a very bad one, and that they must buy some thirty million sterling worth of foreign corn. On the other hand, the harvest in America is the most fruitful ever known since that continent was discovered.

Unless lunatics were at the head of affairs in England, they would not seize the opportunity of going to war with the granary of corn and cotton without a cause.

But it may be different with France. She is fond of la Gloire. And she is sending out an expedition to Mexico, although she seems likely to have her hands full in Italy just now. Moreover, L. N. is the heaven appointed arbiter of all sublunary affairs, and he doubtless considers it his mission to “save civilization” in our continent, as he has so often been good enough to do in the rest of the world.

What do you think is his real design? How far do you believe he has gone in holding out definite encouragement to the secessionist agents in France? Do you think he has any secret plot with them to assist them against us in the Gulf of Mexico? Will he attempt anything of this kind without the knowledge and connivance of England? I say no more except to repeat that you may give me, perhaps, a useful hint or two, from time to time, of what you hear and know. It is unnecessary for me to say that I shall keep sacredly confidential anything you may say to me as such.

I shall not go into the subject of our war at all, save to say that it is to me an inconceivable idea that any man of average intellect or love of right can possibly justify this insurrection of the slaveholders. The attempt to destroy a prosperous, powerful, and happy commonwealth like ours, merely that on its ruin might be constructed a slave-breeding, slave-holding confederacy, is one of the greatest crimes that history has recorded. In regard to the issue of the war I don't entertain the slightest doubt, if foreign interference is kept off. If the slaveholders obtain the alliance of France, the war will of course be indefinitely protracted. If we are left to ourselves, I think with the million of men that we shall have in the field in the course of the month of October, and with a fleet of twelve or fifteen first-class iron-clad frigates, which will be ready by that time, that the insurrection cannot hold out a great while longer. However, of that I am not sure. Time is nothing to God — nor to the devil either, as to that matter. We mortals, creatures of a day, are very impatient. The United States government is now fighting with the devil, for the spirit of this slave Confederacy is nothing less. How long it will take us to vanquish it I know not. But that it will be vanquished completely I entertain no doubt whatever. I don't expect you to accept my views, but I thought it as well to state them. I am more anxious about the next three months than about anything that can happen afterward. Let me, however, warn you — in case you take an interest in the progress of our affairs — not to believe in Reuter's telegrams as in the London “Times.” Their lies are stupendous, and by them public opinion all over Europe is poisoned. This is nothing to me. Their lies can't alter the facts — I have other sources of information. But when I see how the telegraph and the European press have been constantly worked for the interest of the secessionists, it does not surprise me to see the difficulty which honest people have in arriving at the truth, either in fact or in theory. Do you know your colleague, Mr. Dayton, United States Minister in Paris? Let me recommend him to you as a most excellent and honorable man. Renewing all our kindest regards to you and yours, believe me, my dear Bismarck, always most sincerely your old friend,

J. L. Motley.

SOURCE: George William Curtis, editor, The Correspondence of John Lothrop Motley in Two Volumes, Library Edition, Volume 2, p. 271-6

William Cullen Bryant to Reverend Horatio N. Powers, of Chicago, August 17, 1862

roslyn, September 15, 1862.

Your letter of the 7th instant makes a very natural suggestion. Lest you should suppose that the real friends of the country in this neighborhood have been remiss, I would inform you that this very method which you mention has been tried with Mr. Lincoln. Some of our best and most eminent men have visited Washington to remonstrate with him, but with only partial effect. The influence of Seward is always at work, and counteracts the good impressions made in the interviews with men of a different class. I was strongly pressed to go to Washington myself, and went somewhat reluctantly, not having any confidence in my powers of per suasion. I saw Mr. Lincoln, and had a long conversation with him on the affairs of the country, in which I expressed myself plainly and without reserve, though courteously. He bore it well, and I must say that I left him with a perfect conviction of the excellence of his intentions and the singleness of his purposes, though with sorrow for his indecision. A movement is now on foot to bring the influence of our best men to bear upon him in a more concentrated manner, by a wider concert among them. Meetings have been held for that purpose and a committee raised.

SOURCE: Parke Godwin, A Biography of William Cullen Bryant, Volume 1, p. 178-9

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Congressman Charles B. Sedgwick to John M. Forbes, December 22, 1862

Washington, 22d December, 1862.

My Dear Mr. Forbes, — I have shown your letter (copy) to Mr. Fessenden to several conservative gentlemen of my acquaintance. They all agree in saying that it would be well to send on a strong delegation of clergy and laity to urge on the President. Some doubt his intention to issue the proclamation of 1st January; I do not. Many assert, more fear, that it will be essentially modified from what is promised. I do not fear this; but what I do fear is, that he will stop with the proclamation and take no active and vigorous measures to insure its efficacy. I say he will issue it, because it is his own offspring, which Seward tried hard to strangle at its birth, and failed to do it. If the President don't tell you all about it some time, I will, as I heard the story from the chief himself. Judge Kelly told me this evening he had just come from Stanton, who told him that the President and Burnside had been there but a little while before, and this subject coming up, the President said “that he could not stop the Proclamation if he would, and he would not if he could; that just as soon as the first of January dawned it would be issued.” So I cannot doubt that it will be issued. There are other facts within my knowledge which convince me that it will certainly go forth. Every conceivable influence has been brought to bear upon him to induce him to withhold or modify, — threats, entreaties, all sorts of humbugs, but he is firm as a mule.

Now if Banks can start from Mobile or New Orleans with a sufficient army, or send Butler, which will be equally well, perhaps, armed with this proclamation, and enlist every able-bodied, willing, loyal negro, as he progresses into the country, until he has 100,000 of them under arms, the great work will be accomplished. If Banks was sent South for some such purpose, the expedition is a sensible one; if not, it is pure strategy, and not worth, in the aggregate, so much as one of the rotten ships in which it was embarked. I say by all means come on and be here in force the last of this month. Be ready to shout Hallelujah on the morning of 1st January, and let the President know that he is to have sympathy and support. By all means, put him up to practical measures to make it successful. Tell him the world will pardon his crimes, and his stories even, if he only makes the proclamation a success, and that if he fails he will be gibbeted in history as a great, long-legged, awkward, country pettifogger, without brains or backbone.

We have had a nice row in the cabinet. The Senate had a secret caucus and resolved to get rid of the President's evil genius, Seward. Preston King, fearing Seward, loose, would endanger his prospects for senator, slipped out and told Seward all about it. Seward tendered his resignation Wednesday evening. By Thursday morning his friends began to pour in, to threaten the President if he accepted it. The world in general only found it out on Friday. Chase, like a good boy, on Saturday went out to bring little wandering Willie back. The telegraph is forbidden to carry the startling news to the country, except, now, to my Lord Thurlow1and some others; and on Monday all goes “merry as a marriage bell” again. So the Senate is snubbed, Seward is more powerful than ever, Chase's radical friends are disgusted that he has been used to save Seward from his folly, and the great chasm into which the administration was to fall is bridged. Vive la Humbug!

1 Thurlow Weed, editor of the Albany Journal, Mr. Seward's right-hand man. — Ed.

SOURCE: Sarah Forbes Hughes, Letters and Recollections of John Murray Forbes, Volume 1, p. 344-5

Governor Thomas H. Hicks to Brigadier-General Benjamin F. Butler, April 23, 1861

State of Maryland, Executive Chamber, ANNAPOLIS, April 23, 1861

To Brigadier General B. F. BUTLER

SIR: Having, in pursuance of the power invested in me by the constitution of Maryland, summoned the Legislature of the State to assemble on Friday, the 26th instant, and Annapolis being the place in which, according to law, it must assemble; and having been credibly informed that you have taken military possession of the Annapolis and Elk-Ridge Railroad, I deem it my duty to protest against this step, — because, without at present assigning any other reason, I am informed that such occupation of said road will prevent the Members of the Legislature from reaching this city.

Very Respectfully Yours,
THos. H. HICKs

SOURCE: Jessie Ames Marshall, Editor, Private and Official Correspondence of Gen. Benjamin F. Butler During the Period of the Civil War, Volume 1: April 1860 – June 1862, p. 28

Major-General John A. Dix to the Citizens of New York, August 17, 1863

Head-quarters, Department of the East, New York City,
August 17, 1863.
To the Citizens of New York:

The draft of men in this city to replenish the ranks of the army, in order to complete more speedily the suppression of the insurrection in the South, having, in consequence of forcible resistance to the execution of the law, been placed under my direction, as commanding officer of the forces of the United States in this Military Department, I have thought it not out of place to present to you some suggestions for your consideration as friends of the Union and of the good order of society.

The law under which the draft is to be made is for enrolling and calling out the National forces. It is founded on the principle that every citizen, who enjoys the protection of the Government and looks to it for the security of his property and his life, may be called on in seasons of great public danger to take up arms for the common defence. No political society can be held together unless this principle is acknowledged as one to which the Government may have recourse when its existence is in peril. There is no civilized country in which it is not recognized.

The law authorizing the draft has been persistently called a conscription law by those who desire to make it odious and defeat its execution. It is in no just sense a conscription like that which was put in force in the sixth year of the French Republic, and abandoned on the restoration of the Bourbons, on account of its oppressive exactions. It is a simple law for enrolling and calling into the service the arms-bearing population of certain ages, and differs in no essential principle from the law authorizing the Militia to be called out, excepting that in the latter case complete organizations are brought into the field. The object of the very provisions of the law which are most beneficial to individuals has been most grossly perverted. If a drafted man finds it inconvenient to serve, he is allowed to furnish a substitute, or to purchase his exemption from service by paying the smallest sum of money for which substitutes are ordinarily obtained. Both these provisions have the same purpose — to provide for cases of hardship; and if either were stricken out, these cases would be proportionably increased in number.

The draft about to be made is for one-fifth part of all persons between twenty and thirty-five years of age, and of the unmarried between thirty-five and forty-five. The entire class between eighteen and thirty-five was long since drafted in the seceded States; and the draft has recently been extended to embrace nearly the whole arms-bearing population. Compared with the burden they are sustaining ours is as nothing. The contest on our part is to defend our nationality, to uphold the institutions under the protection of which we have lived and prospered, and to preserve untarnished the proud memories of our history — brief, it is true, but full of high achievements in science, in art, and in arms. Shall we, in such a cause, shrink from labors and sacrifices which our misguided brethren in the seceded States are sustaining in the cause of treason and social disorganization? For the honor of New York let us take care that the history of this rebellion, more vast than any which has ever convulsed a nation, shall contain nothing to make our children blush for the patriotism of their fathers.

Whatever objection there may be to the law authorizing the draft, whatever defects it may have, it is the law of the land, and resistance to it is revolt against the constituted authorities of the country. If one law can be set at defiance, any other may be, and the foundations of all government may be broken up. Those who, in the history of political societies, have been the first to set themselves up against the law have been the surest victims of the disorder which they have created. The poor have a far deeper interest in maintaining the inviolability of the law than the rich. Property, through the means it can command, is power. But the only security for those who have little more than life and the labor of their own hands to protect lies in the supremacy of the law. On them, and on those who are dependent on them, social disorder falls with fatal effect.

The constitutionality of the law authorizing the draft has been disputed. Near the close of the year 1814, when the country was engaged in war with Great Britain, a similar law was recommended to Congress by the Government, to draft men to fill the ranks of the army, which was gallantly battling, as our armies are now, for the nation's honor and life. Madison, one of the great expounders of the Constitution, which he took a prominent part in framing, was President. Monroe, his successor, then acting both as Secretary of State and Secretary of War, addressed to the House of Representatives a lucid argument in support of the right of Congress to pass such a law. Alexander J. Dallas was Secretary of the Treasury; William Jones, Secretary of the Navy; Return J. Meigs, Postmaster-general; and Richard Rush, Attorney-general. The measure could not well have received a higher party sanction. All laws passed with the established legislative forms are valid until declared otherwise by judicial tribunals of competent jurisdiction. What would become of a people in critical emergencies if no law could be carried into effect until it had passed the ordeal of the courts? or if State or municipal authorities could arrest its execution by calling in question its conformity to the provisions of the Constitution? The President has promptly consented to have it tested by judicial interpretation; but while the car of victory is moving on, and treason is flying before it, God forbid that the State of New York or its constituted authorities should attempt to stay its progress until the judicial process can be consummated.

The accuracy of the enrolment in the city districts having been impeached, a revision was immediately ordered by the President, on a representation from the Governor of the State. But as the men are needed for immediate service, and as the correction of the returns requires time, the quota was ordered to be reduced in all the districts — in some more than half the whole amount — leaving the account for future adjustment. The reduction in the quota exceeds in proportion the alleged excess of the enrolment; so that no personal injustice can possible occur.

Under these circumstances no good citizen will array himself, either by word or deed, against the draft. Submission to the law in seasons of tranquillity is always the highest of political duties. But when the existence of the Government is in peril he who resists its authority commits a crime of the deepest turpitude. He is the voluntary instrument of those who are seeking to overthrow it, and becomes himself a public enemy. Moreover, resistance to the Government by those who are living under its protection, and arc indebted to it for the daily tenure of their property and their lives, has not even the palliation under which those who lead the insurrection at the South seek to shelter themselves—that they are acting under color of authority derived from Legislatures or conventions of the people in their respective States. With us resistance to the constituted authorities is both treason and lawless violence; and if there are any who thus combine to re-enact the scenes of cruelty and devastation by which this city has recently been dishonored, and to defeat by force of arms the execution of the paramount law of Congress, they will be treated as enemies of the country and mankind.

Returning among you from a distance, fellow-citizens, after more than two years of military service in the cause of the Union, to uphold which this city has, in all emergencies, stood forth with a manly patriotism worthy of her high position—having no feeling but to see her good name preserved without blemish, no wish but that she may continue, as she has ever been, the most Orderly of the great commercial towns of the age — I have ventured to address to you these suggestions, to exhort you to the maintenance of order, to obedience to the laws, and to the quiet pursuit of your accustomed avocations, while the draft is in progress.

Should these suggestions be disregarded by any among you, and renewed attempts be made to disturb the public peace, to break down the barriers which have been set up for the security of property and life, and to defeat the execution of a law which it is my duty to enforce, I warn all such persons that ample preparation has been made to vindicate the authority of the Government, and that the first exhibitions of disorder or violence will be met by the most prompt and vigorous measures for their repression.

John A. Dix, Major-general.

SOURCE: Morgan Dix, Memoirs of John Adams Dix, Volume 2, p. 88-91

Congressman Eli Thayer to Messrs. Ethan Allen & Thomas Wheelock, April 4, 1857

April 4, 1857.

Messrs. Allen & Wheelock, — Captain Brown wishes to get a cannon and rifle which I have given him so sighted as to secure accuracy. I hope you will attend to his wishes.

Truly yours,
Eli Thayer.

SOURCE: Franklin B. Sanborn, The Life and Letters of John Brown, p. 382

John Brown to Congressman Eli Thayer, April 16, 1857

Springfield, Mass., April 16, 1857.
Hon. Eli Thayer.

My Dear Sir, — I am advised that one of “Uncle Sam's hounds is on my track;” and I have kept myself hid for a few days to let my track get cold. I have no idea of being taken, and intend (if God will) to go back with irons in rather than upon my hands. Now, my dear sir, let me ask you to have Mr. Allen & Co. send me by express one or two navy-sized revolvers as soon as may be, together with his best cash terms (he warranting them) by the hundred with good moulds, flasks, etc. I wish the sample pistols sent to John (not Captain) Brown, care of Massasoit House, Springfield, Mass. I now enclose twenty dollars towards repairs done for me and revolvers; the balance I will send as soon as I get the bill. I have written to have Dr. Howe send you by express a rifle and two pistols, which with the guns you gave me and fixings, together with the rifle given me by Mr. Allen & Co., I wish them to pack in a suitable strong box, perfectly safe, directing to J. B., care of Orson M. Oviatt, Esq., Cleveland, Ohio, as freight, to keep dry. For box, trouble, and packing I will pay when I get the bill. I wish the box very plainly marked, and forwarded to Cleveland, as soon as you receive the articles from Dr. Howe. I got a fine list in Boston the other day, and hope Worcester will not be entirely behind. I do not mean you or Mr. Allen & Co.

Very respectfully your friend,
John Brown.

P. S. Direct all letters and bills to care of Massasoit House. Please acknowledge.

SOURCE: Franklin B. Sanborn, The Life and Letters of John Brown, p. 382

Abraham Lincoln to Lyman Trumbull, November 28, 1859

Springfield, Nov. 28. 1859
Hon. L. Trumbull.

My dear Sir: Yours of the 23rd. is received. I agree with you entirely about the contemplated election of Forney. Nothing could be more short-sighted than to place so strong a man as Forney in position to keep Douglas on foot. I know nothing of Forney personally; but I would put no man in position to help our enemies in the point of our hardest strain.

There is nothing new here. I have written merely to give my view about this Forney business.

Yours as ever

SOURCE: Roy P. Basler, Editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 3, p. 495

Diary of William Howard Russell: May 30, 1861

Wrote in the heat of the day, enlivened by my neighbor, a wonderful mocking-bird, whose songs and imitations would make his fortune in any society capable of appreciating native-born genius. His restlessness, courage, activity, and talent, ought not to be confined to Mr. Mure's cage, but he seems contented and happy. I dined with Madame and M. Milten-berger, and drove out with them to visit the scene of our defeat in 1815, which lies at the distance of some miles down the river.

A dilapidated farm-house surrounded by trees and negro huts, marks the spot where Pakenham was buried, but his body was subsequently exhumed and sent home to England. Close to the point of the canal which constitutes a portion of the American defences, a negro guide came forth to conduct us round the place, but he knew as little as most guides of the incidents of the fight. The most remarkable testimony to the severity of the fire to which the British were exposed, is afforded by the trees in the neighborhood of the tomb. In one live-oak there are no less than eight round shot embedded; others contain two or three, and many are lopped, rent, and scarred by the flight of cannon-ball, The American lines extended nearly three miles, and were covered in the front by swamps, marshes, and water cuts, their batteries and the vessels in the river enfiladed the British as they advanced to the attack.

Among the prominent defenders of the cotton bales was a notorious pirate and murderer named Lafitte, who with his band was released from prison on condition that he enlisted in the defence, and did substantial service to his friends and deliverers.

Without knowing all the circumstances of the case, it would be rash now to condemn the officers who directed the assault; but so far as one could judge from the present condition of the ground, the position must have been very formidable, and should not have been assaulted till the enfilading fire was subdued, and a very heavy covering fire directed to silence the guns in front. The Americans are naturally very proud of their victory, which was gained at a most trifling loss to themselves, which they erroneously conceive to be a proof of their gallantry in resisting the assault. It is one of the events which have created a fixed idea in their minds that they are able to “whip the world.”

On returning from my visit I went to the club, where I had a long conversation with Dr. Rushton, who is strongly convinced of the impossibility of carrying on government, or conducting municipal affairs, until universal suffrage is put down. He gave many instances of the terrorism, violence, and assassinations which prevail during election times in New Orleans. M. Miltenberger, on the contrary, thinks matters are very well as they are, and declares all these stories are fanciful. Incendiarism rife again. All the club windows crowded with men looking at a tremendous fire, which burned down three or four stores and houses.

SOURCE: William Howard Russell, My Diary North and South, p. 242-3

Diary of Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle: Wednesday, June 17, 1863

We reached Petersburgh at 3 A.M., and had to get out and traverse this town in carts, after which we had to lie down in the road until some other cars were opened. We left Petersburgh at 5 A.M. and arrived at Richmond at 7 A.M., having taken forty-one hours coming from Charleston. The railroad between Petersburgh and Richmond is protected by extensive field-works, and the woods have been cut down to give range. An irruption of the enemy in this direction has evidently been contemplated; and we met a brigade of infantry half-way between Petersburgh and Richmond on its way to garrison the latter place, as the Yankees are reported to be menacing in that neighbourhood.

The scenery near Richmond is very pretty, and rather English-looking. The view of the James River from the railway bridge is quite beautiful, though the water is rather low at present. The weather was extremely hot and oppressive, and, for the first time since I left Havana, I really suffered from the heat.

At 10 A.M. I called on General Cooper, Adjutant-General to the Confederate forces, and senior general in the army. He is brother-in-law to Mr Mason, the Southern Commissioner in London. I then called upon Mr Benjamin, the Secretary of State, who made an appointment with me to meet him at his house at 7 P.M. The public offices are handsome stone buildings, and seemed to be well arranged for business. I found at least as much difficulty in gaining access to the great men as there would be in European countries; but when once admitted, I was treated with the greatest courtesy. The anterooms were crowded with people patiently waiting for an audience.

The streets of Richmond are named and numbered in a most puzzling manner, and the greater part of the houses are not numbered at all It is the most hilly city I have seen in America, and its population is unnaturally swollen since the commencement of the war. The fact of there being abundance of ice appeared to me an immense luxury, as I had never seen any before in the South; but it seems that the winters are quite severe in Northern Virginia.

I was sorry to hear in the highest quarters the gloomiest forebodings with regard to the fate of Vicksburg. This fortress is in fact given up, and all now despair of General Johnston's being able to effect anything towards its relief.

I kept my appointment with Mr Benjamin at 7 o'clock. He is a stout dapper little man, evidently of Hebrew extraction, and of undoubted talent. He is a Louisianian, and was senator for that state in the old United States Congress, and I believe he is accounted a very clever lawyer and a brilliant orator. He told me that he had filled the onerous post of Secretary of War during the first seven months of the Secession, and I can easily believe that he found it no sinecure. We conversed for a long time about the origin of secession, which he indignantly denied was brought about, as the Yankees assert, by the interested machinations of individuals. He declared that, for the last ten years, the Southern statesmen had openly stated in Congress what would take place; but the Northerners never would believe they were in earnest, and had often replied by the taunt, “The South was so bound to, and dependent on, the North, that she couldn't be kicked out of the Union.

He said that the Southern armies had always been immensely outnumbered in all their battles, and that until recently General Lee could never muster more than 60,000 effective men. He confessed that the Southern forces consisted altogether of about 350,000 to 400,000 men; and when I asked him where they all were, he replied that, on account of the enormous tract of country to be defended, and the immense advantages the enemy possessed by his facilities for sea and river transportation, the South was obliged to keep large bodies of men unemployed, and at great distances from each other, awaiting the sudden invasions or raids to which they were continually exposed. Besides which, the Northern troops, which numbered (he supposed) 600,000 men, having had as yet but little defensive warfare, could all be employed for aggressive purposes.

He asserted that England has still, and always had had it, in her power to terminate the war by recognition, and by making a commercial treaty with the South; and he denied that the Yankees really would dare to go to war with Great Britain for doing so, however much they might swagger about it: he said that recognition would not increase the Yankee hatred of England, for this, whether just or unjust, was already as intense as it could possibly be. I then alluded to the supposed ease with which they could overrun Canada, and to the temptation which its unprotected towns must offer to the large numbers of Irish and German mercenaries in the Northern armies. He answered, “They probably could not do that so easily as some people suppose, and they know perfectly well that you could deprive them of California (a far more serious loss) with much greater ease.” This consideration, together with the certainty of an entire blockade of their ports, the total destruction of their trade, and an invasion on a large scale by the Southern troops, in reality prevents the possibility of their declaring war upon England at the present time, any more than they did at the period of their great national humiliation in the Mason-Slidell affair.

Mr Benjamin told me that his property had lately been confiscated in New Orleans, and that his two sisters had been turned, neck and crop, into the streets there, with only one trunk, which they had been forced to carry themselves. Every one was afraid to give them shelter, except an Englishwoman, who protected them until they could be got out of the city.

Talking of the just admiration which the English newspapers accorded to Stonewall Jackson, he expressed, however, his astonishment that they should have praised so highly his strategic skill in outmanoeuvring Pope at Manassas, and Hooker at Chancellorsville, totally ignoring that in both cases the movements were planned and ordered by General Lee, for whom (Mr Benjamin said) Jackson had the most “childlike reverence.”

Mr Benjamin complained of Mr Russell of the “Times” for holding him up to fame as a “gambler” — a story which he understood Mr Russell had learnt from Mr Charles Sumner at Washington. But even supposing that this was really the case, Mr Benjamin was of opinion that such a revelation of his private life was in extremely bad taste, after Mr Russell had partaken of his (Mr Benjamin's) hospitality at Mongomery.

He said the Confederates were more amused than annoyed at the term “rebel,” which was so constantly applied to them; but he only wished mildly to remark, that in order to be a “rebel,” a person must rebel against some one who has a right to govern him; and he thought it would be very difficult to discover such a right as existing in the Northern over the Southern States.

In order to prepare a treaty of peace, he said, "It would only be necessary to write on a blank sheet of paper the words ‘self-government. Let the Yankees accord that, and they might fill up the paper in any manner they chose. We don't want any State that doesn't want us; but we only wish that each State should decide fairly upon its own destiny. All we are struggling for is to be let alone.”

At 8 P.M. Mr Benjamin walked with me to the President's dwelling, which is a private house at the other end of the town. I had tea there, and uncommonly good tea too — the first I had tasted in the Confederacy. Mrs Davis was unfortunately unwell and unable to see me.

Mr Jefferson Davis struck me as looking older than I expected. He is only fifty-six, but his face is emaciated, and much wrinkled. He is nearly six feet high, but is extremely thin, and stoops a little. His features are good, especially his eye, which is very bright, and full of life and humour. I was afterwards told he had lost, the sight of his left eye from a recent illness. He wore a linen coat and grey trousers, and he looked what he evidently is, a well-bred gentleman. Nothing can exceed the charm of his manner, which is simple, easy, and most fascinating. He conversed with me for a long time, and agreed with Benjamin that the Yankees did not really intend to go to war with England if she recognised the South; and he said that, when the inevitable smash came — and that separation was an accomplished fact — the State of Maine would probably try to join Canada, as most of the intelligent people in that state have a horror of being “under the thumb of Massachusetts. He added, that Maine was inhabited by a hardy, thrifty, seafaring population, with different ideas to the people in the other New England states.

When I spoke to him of the wretched scenes I had witnessed in his own State (Mississippi), and of the miserable, almost desperate, situation in which I had found so many unfortunate women, who had been left behind by their male relations; and when I alluded in admiration to the quiet, calm, uncomplaining manner in which they bore their sufferings and their grief, he said, with much feeling, that he always considered silent despair the most painful description of misery to witness, in the same way that he thought mute insanity was the most awful form of madness.

He spoke to me of Grenfell, who, he said, seemed to be serving the Confederacy in a disinterested and loyal manner. He had heard much of his gallantry and good services, and he was very sorry when I told him of Grenfell's quarrel with the civil power.

He confirmed the truth of my remark, that a Confederate general is either considered an Admirable Crichton by the soldiers, or else abused as everything bad; and he added, the misfortune was, that it is absolutely necessary, in order to insure success, that a general must obtain and preserve this popularity and influence with his men, who were, however, generally very willing to accord their confidence to any officer deserving of it.

With regard to the black-flag-and-no-quarter agitation, he said people would talk a great deal, and even go into action determined to give no quarter; “but,” he added, “I have yet to hear of Confederate soldiers putting men to death who have thrown down their arms and held up their hands.”

He told me that Lord Russell confessed that the impartial carrying out of the neutrality laws had pressed hard upon the South; and Mr Davis asserted that the pressure might have been equalised, and yet retained its impartiality, if Great Britain, instead of closing her ports, had opened them to the prizes of both parties; but I answered that perhaps this might be over-doing it a little on the other side.

When I took my leave about 9 o'clock, the President asked me to call upon him again. I don't think it is possible for any one to have an interview with him without going away most favourably impressed by his agreeable, unassuming manners, and by the charm of his conversation. Whilst walking home, Mr Benjamin told me that Mr Davis's military instincts still predominate, and that his eager wish was to have joined the army instead of being elected President.

During my travels, many people have remarked to me that Jefferson Davis seems in a peculiar manner adapted for his office. His military education at West Point rendered him intimately acquainted with the higher officers of the army; and his post of Secretary of War under the old Government brought officers of all ranks under his immediate personal knowledge and supervision. No man could have formed a more accurate estimate of their respective merits. This is one of the reasons which gave the Confederates such an immense start in the way of generals; for having formed his opinion with regard to appointing an officer, Mr Davis is always most determined to carry out his intention in spite of every obstacle. His services in the Mexican war gave him the prestige of a brave man and a good soldier. His services as a statesman pointed him out as the only man who, by his unflinching determination and administrative talent, was able to control the popular will. People speak of any misfortune happening to him as an irreparable evil too dreadful to contemplate.

Before we reached the Spottswood Hotel, we met ——, to whom Mr Benjamin introduced me. They discussed the great topic of the day — viz., the recapture of Winchester by General Ewell, the news of which had just arrived, and they both expressed their regret that General Milroy should have escaped. It appears that this Yankee commander, for his alleged crimes, had been put hors de la loi by the Confederates in the same manner as General Butler. —— said to me, “We hope he may not be taken alive; but if he is, we will not shrink from the responsibility of putting him to death.”

SOURCE: Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, Three Months in the Southern States: April-June, 1863, p. 208-18

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Saturday, April 26, 1862

Camp Number 2, near Raleigh, Virginia. — The sky is still overcast. We shall move on five miles today if it clears up.

At General Beckley's residence are the females of three families. Mrs. Beckley and all cried when we left. One young lady, Miss Duncan, has a lover in Company F; Miss Kieffer, in hospital staff, and all the other damsels in the like category. They all speak of our regiment as such fine men! We burned all their rails! Will pay for them if General Beckley is discharged.

At 10 o'clock marched to Shady Spring; camped on a fine sandy piece of ground belonging to Dr. McNutt. The Secesh burned the dwelling, the doctor being a Union man. Floyd camped here also. A large spring gives the name to the place. The water gushes out copiously, runs on the surface a few rods and runs again into the earth. The grass is starting. The horses of the cavalry were turned loose on it and played their liveliest antics. The sun came out bright, a clear, bracing breeze blowing. Altogether a fine afternoon and a happy time.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 236

Lieutenant Colonel Charles Fessenden Morse: December 24, 1864

Near Savannah, Ga.,
December 24, 1864.

Our campaign has been successfully ended, and we are again in camp preparing for a few weeks' rest and comfort.

Since my note to E–––, we have had the hardest time of the whole campaign since leaving Atlanta. On the 15th, about two P. M., our regiment was ordered to the river; on arriving there, we were shipped on flat boats and crossed to Argyle Island, with considerable difficulty, getting aground once, and being shelled at long range by a rebel gunboat. We camped that night with the Third Wisconsin on a rice plantation. The object of our move was to protect a rice mill which was threshing out rice for the army, and to prepare a crossing into South Carolina. The remainder of our brigade crossed to the island on the 16th. That same morning, our threshing operations were suddenly brought to a standstill by a rebel battery, which opened on us from the South Carolina shore; this caused the most amusing skedaddle of about a hundred negro operatives, men, women and children, that I ever saw.

We got two guns into position and silenced the rebs. On the 19th, after several delays, our regiment, the Third Wisconsin, and the Thirteenth New Jersey, started at daylight, and, under cover of a heavy fog, crossed to the South Carolina side, effecting a landing without loss. We advanced at once, driving in about a brigade of rebel cavalry. After having secured all the desirable positions, we entrenched ourselves, and received the support of the remainder of our brigade and two guns. The enemy were much annoyed by our movement, and in the afternoon made quite a decided attack, charging in one place almost up to the works.

Our position was a peculiar one. With our five regiments, we held a line about two and a half miles long. The whole country is a rice swamp, divided into regular squares by dykes and ditches, with occasional mounds raised a few feet above the water level. On a series of these mounds our regiments were placed, connected along the dykes by a thin line of skirmishers. Our ground being perfectly open and level for miles, we could see every manoeuvre of the enemy.

On the 20th, the enemy pressed as close to our lines as they dared, showing a very superior force to our own, and in the afternoon opened a battery in our front, and fired from a gunboat in our rear, in a manner which was by no means comfortable. Early in the morning of the 21st, news came of the surrender of Savannah, and orders for our immediate crossing into Georgia. Most of our regiments and the two guns were transferred to Argyle Island, when the enemy began to advance rapidly into our old position ; they were easily checked, but with them in our front and a gale blowing on the river, it became a very difficult and dangerous operation to cross. However, by ten P. M., that night, the last man was on the island, though he had to swim the river.

Now I must go back to about four P. M., that same day, when our regiment attempted to cross to the Georgia shore. Arrived at the landing, no boats capable of carrying anybody were to be found. Captain Grafton and I took a light “dugout” and went across to send some over. Two “flats” were found and sent back, and the regiment put on them. The largest of the two, containing the majority of the men, had, with great difficulty, struggled against the wind and tide and nearly reached the shore, when an irresistible gust struck it, turning it round and round, and sending the poor boat up the river towards South Carolina with great speed. Grafton and I pursued them in our light boat, and found them about seven P. M., hard and fast on the lee shore of Hutchison Island, whence, after a deal of work, they were ferried back, a few at a time, to Argyle Island.

Such a row back against the wind as we had is easier imagined than described; however, at twelve at night, we were safe on Georgia soil with a fraction of the regiment. The next day was spent mainly in ferrying the brigade over. Towards night we started for camp, and reached it after a hard march of nine miles. This expedition cost us a few very good men wounded, but no officers.

I haven't as yet heard any estimate of the guns, stores, etc., captured, but I understand that everything was left behind. The city has been well protected since our occupation; the citizens seem very well contented that it has changed hands, and show themselves freely on the streets. We are camped about two miles from the city; the river is not a stone's throw from my tent. We are collecting quite a fleet of light boats, so that we shall have plenty of opportunity for rowing. Our next move will probably be to take Charleston.

SOURCE: Charles Fessenden Morse, Letters Written During the Civil War, 1861-1865, p. 198