Saturday, November 12, 2016

Diary of Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle: Tuesday, July 14, 1863

At breakfast this morning two Irish waiters, seeing I was a Britisher, came up to me one after the other, and whispered at intervals in hoarse Hibernian accents — “It's disgraceful, sir. I've been drafted, sir. I'm a Briton. I love my country. I love the Union Jack, sir.” I suggested an interview with Mr Archibald, but neither of them seemed to care about going to the Counsel just yet These rascals have probably been hard at work for years, voting as free and enlightened American citizens, and abusing England to their hearts' content.

I heard every one talking of the total demoralisation of the Rebels as a certain fact, and all seemed to anticipate their approaching destruction. All this sounded very absurd to me, who had left Lee's army four days previously as full of fight as ever — much stronger in numbers, and ten times more efficient in every military point of view, than it was when it crossed the Potomac to invade Maryland a year ago. In its own opinion, Lee's army has not lost any of its prestige at the battle of Gettysburg, in which it most gallantly stormed strong intrenchments defended by the whole army of the Potomac, which never ventured outside its works, or approached in force within half a mile of the Confederate artillery.

The result of the battle of Gettysburg, together with the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, seems to have turned everybody's head completely, and has deluded them with the idea of the speedy and complete subjugation of the South. I was filled with astonishment to hear people speaking in this confident manner, when one of their most prosperous States had been so recently laid under contribution as far as Harrisburg and Washington, their capital itself having just been saved by a fortunate turn of luck. Four-fifths of the Pennsylvanian spoil had safely crossed the Potomac before I left Hagerstown.

The consternation in the streets seemed to be on the increase; fires were going on in all directions, and the streets were being patrolled by large bodies of police followed by special constables, the latter bearing truncheons, but not looking very happy.

I heard a British captain making a deposition before the Consul, to the effect that the mob had got on board his vessel and cruelly beaten his coloured crew. As no British man-of-war was present, the French Admiral was appealed to, who at once requested that all British ships with coloured crews might be anchored under the guns of his frigate.

The reports of outrages, hangings, and murder, were now most alarming, and terror and anxiety were universal. All shops were shut; all carriages and omnibuses had ceased running. No coloured man or woman was visible or safe in the streets, or even in his own dwelling. Telegraphs were cut, and railroad tracks torn up. The draft was suspended, and the mob evidently had the upper hand.

The people who can't pay $300 naturally hate being forced to fight in order to liberate the very race who they are most anxious should be slaves. It is their direct interest not only that all slaves should remain slaves, but that the free Northern negroes who compete with them for labour should be sent to the South also.

SOURCE: Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, Three Months in the Southern States: April-June, 1863, p. 308-11

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