Sunday, September 19, 2021

Diary of Private Daniel L. Ambrose: Monday, January 26, 1863

This morning our regiment together with the 27th Ohio, 81st Ohio, 7th Iowa and the 52nd Illinois are ordered to escort a forage train to Hamburg Landing and return. The 27th Ohio takes the advance and the Seventh the rear. We find the roads in a desperate condition, the mud about knee deep, and soon it begins to rain. We arrive at Hamburg about dark—mud, mud, and rain, rain; how terribly dark. The regiment is ordered to take shelter in the surrounding houses and stables—the horses being turned out to grope their way in the elemental storm. The boys tear down fences to make fires to dry their drenched clothes. The houses and stables for the regiment are limited and in consequence they are densely crowded. No sleep for the soldier to-night-no place to rest his weary body.

SOURCE: Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 134

Diary of Private Daniel L. Ambrose: Tuesday, January 27, 1863

This morning the fires are made to burn more brilliantly by an addition of boards. The boys hasten to make their coffee and eat their breakfast, that they may be ready to move with the train, which is now loaded, and headed towards Corinth. The train soon commences to move out. It is the Seventh's lot as usual to follow in the rear. Oh ! what a time — mud, mud, no end to mud, slash, slash, go the wagons, and down go the mules in the mud over their ears. The Seventh extricate them; it is very fatiguing to follow in the rear. The men soon become tired, but on they go determined to see Corinth to-night. Night overtakes us five miles from camp. The Regiment scatters, every man for himself. The teams are left in the mud, and as the demoralized Seventh went lunging on their way they could hear for miles back the high keyed notes from the M. D's., whose curses and epithets were falling thick and the poor meek long-eared race. Oh! what untiring energy! Ungenerous would be the one who would speak disparagingly of the services of this race in this struggle. We imagine that in the future the faithful chroniclers will say, "here's to the mule that with patience and fortitude performed well its part in the war for the Union.” The Seventh arrive in camp between the hours of 7 and 10 o'clock P. M., every one looking most lovely.

SOURCE: Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 134-5

Diary of Private Daniel L. Ambrose: Wednesday, January 28, 1863

Corinth now presents a more lively appearance—communications regular—mail prompt—papers circulated, and perused eagerly by the soldiers. All are anxious to hear of some change at the seat of war. “Has the old Potomac Army become demoralized,” is the inquiry frequently heard now among the Western soldiers. But we hope not—hope that yet it will make the successful tramp "on to Richmond."

SOURCE: Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 135 

Diary of Private Daniel L. Ambrose: Thursday, January 29, 1863

The duties of the regiments now stationed at Corinth, are very arduous. Almost every day a regiment or two are called upon to make a trip either to the Tennessee river for forage, or to the Davenport Mills for lumber to construct fortifications. Corinth is becoming quite a Gibraltar. The freedmen are all the while kept busy upon these works. This evening the officers of the Illinois regiments meet in Music Hall to give expression to their views upon modern democracy, and their bitter detestation of the treasonable element that is becoming so prevalent in Illinois. The following are the views of the Illinois soldiers on copperheads and defunct democracy. The object is to show to Governor Yates and to all our friends at home that we are still in favor of a vigorous prosecution of the war, and that we will uphold our President and our Governor in all their efforts to crush the rebellion and restore the Union. On motion a committee to draft resolutions was appointed, consisting of the following officers : Colonel Chetlain 12th Illinois Infantry commanding post; Colonel M. M. Bane, 50th Illinois Infantry commanding Third brigade, Lieutenant Colonel Wilcox 52d Illinois Infantry, Colonel Burk, 65th Illinois sharp-shooters, Colonel A. J. Babcock, 7th Illinois Infantry, Colonel Merser 9th Illinois Infantry, commanding Second brigade, Lieutenant Colonel Morrill, 54th Illinois Infantry. The committee submited the following resolutions which were unanimously adopted :

Whereas, Our government is now engaged in a struggle for the perpetuation of every right dear to us as American citizens, and requires the united efforts of all good, true and loyal men in its behalf: and whereas, we behold with deep regret the bitter partizan spirit that is becoming dangerously vindictive and malicious in our state, the tendency of which is to frustrate the plans of the federal and state authorities in their efforts to suppress this infamous rebellion ; therefore, Resolved, That having pledged ourselves with our most cherished interests in the service of our common country in this hour of national peril, we ask our friends at home to lay aside all petty jealousies and party animosities, and as one man stand by us in upholding the president in his war measures, in maintaining the authority and the dignity of the government, and in unfurling again the glorious emblem of our nationality over every city and town of rebeldom.

Resolved, That we tender to Governor Yates and Adjutant General Fuller our warmest thanks for their untiring zeal in organizing, arming and equipping the army Illinois has sent to the field, and for their timely attention to the wants of our sick and wounded soldiers, and we assure them of our steady and warm support in their efforts to maintain for Illinois the proud position of pre-eminent loyalty which she now occupies.

Resolved, That we have watched the traitorous conduct of those members of the Illinois Legislature who misrepresent their constituents—who have been proposing a cessation of the war, avowedly to arrange terms for peace, but really to give time for the exhausted rebels to recover strength and renew their plottings to divest Governor Yates of the right and authority vested in him by our state constitution and laws, and to them we calmly and firmly say, beware of the terrible retribution that is falling upon your coadjutors at the south, and that as your crime is ten-fold blacker it will swiftly smite you with ten-fold more horrors, should you persist in your damnable work of treason.

Resolved, That in tending our thanks to Governor Yates, and assuring him of our hearty support in his efforts to crush this inhuman rebellion, we are deeply and feelingly in "earnest.” We have left to the protection of the laws he is to enforce, all that is dear to man — our wives, our children, our parents, our homes, — and should the loathsome treason of the madmen who are trying to wrest from him a portion of his just authority render it necessary in his opinion for us to return and crush out treason there, we will promptly obey a proper order so to do, for we despise a sneaking, whining traitor in the rear much more than an open rebel in front.

Resolved, That we hold in contempt, and will execrate any man who in this struggle for national life, offers factious opposition to either the federal or state government in their efforts or measures for the vigorous prosecution of the war for the suppression of this godless rebellion.

Resołved, That we are opposed to all propositions for a cessation of hostilities, or a compromise other than those propositions which the government has constantly offered; “Return to loyalty--to the laws and common level with the other states of the Union, under the constitution as our fathers made it."

Lieut. Col. PHILLIPS, 9th Illinois,

T. N. LETTON, Adjutant 50th Illinois.

SOURCE: Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 135-8

Diary of Private Daniel L. Ambrose: Friday, January 30, 1863

Everything seems quiet to-day. The soldiers seem well satisfied with the resolutions adopted last night in Music Hall. This evening they are submitted to the men for their decision thereon. The Seventh being drawn up in line adopt them with a vim, saying amen to every word. All the Illinois Regiments adopt them without one dissenting voice, except ten men belonging to the 52d Illinois Infantry.

SOURCE: Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 138

Diary of Private Daniel L. Ambrose: Saturday, January 31, 1863

This morning our new chaplain arrives, the Rev. Mr. Perkins. It is indeed a happy arrival for we have been without one for a long time. This office is now a very difficult one to fill as the soldiers have become so reckless that should the angel Gabriel receive a commission as chaplain to the Seventh, he would give it up as a bad bargain. War is atheistic, heathenish, devilish; qualify it as you may with all that civilization and christianity can do, it is yet the mightiest reaping machine in the harvest of hell. We do not say that God has nothing to do with its running, for we believe that hidden behind the veil of human wrath he directs every move to his own 'glory; but he who drives this terrible instrument is very apt to become like it, being barred as we are from civilization and the refining and ennobling influence of female society.

SOURCE: Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 139

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Diary of Sergeant David L. Day: January 25, 1864


Leaving Newport News on the afternoon of the 21st, we made a march of about ten miles, reaching Little Bethel just before dark, when we halted and put up in an old church building for the night. Little Bethel contains beside the church an old grist and saw mill, a blacksmith shop and three small houses, all in a rather dilapidated condition. There was no enemy within 100 miles of us, but Capt. Parkhurst, either as a matter of form or through force of habit, put out a few pickets. The old church had long ago been stripped of its seats and pulpit, if it ever had any, leaving the whole floor unobstructed. After supper and getting a little rested, a dance was proposed. A gallery extended across one end, and on the front of this the candles were thickly set, lighting up the old church in fine style. One of our German comrades of Company G had a violin and furnished the music. Sets were formed and the fun commenced. The pickets outside, hearing the sounds of revelry within, left their posts and came in, and standing their rifles in a corner threw off their equipments and joined in the dance. The captain remonstrated at such unlawful proceedings, but the cry was “Never mind the pickets! on with the dance! let fun be unrestrained.” The dance was kept up until the candles burned low, when we spread our blankets and laid down for rest.

In the morning we found outside five men with their horses and carts, waiting to sell us oysters. Fortunately we were the possessors of a few scraps of paper bearing the signature of Uncle Samuel. With a portion of this paper we bought the men's oysters, and after breakfast we chartered them to carry our knapsacks to Yorktown, thereby nullifying the order of the great Mogul at Fortress Monroe, and I have not the slightest doubt that if he knew of it he would hang every one of those men for giving aid and comfort to the incorrigible.

Leaving Little Bethel we marched over McClellan's famous corduroy road through white oak swamp, coming out at Warwick court house. This is a county seat, containing a small court house situated in a pretty grove of trees, a jail, church, half a dozen houses and a blacksmith shop. We arrived at the forks of the roads, a mile below and in full view of historic old Yorktown, about the middle of the afternoon.

Here we were met by an officer and commanded to halt till further orders. I thought this was as near as they dared have us come the first day for fear the malaria would strike us too suddenly.

From here the dim outlines of Washington's old intrenchments could be traced and near by was what appeared to be an angle in the line on which guns were probably mounted and which commanded the whole open plain between here and town. Now it did not require a great stretch of the imagination to go back to those days and see those brave men toiling and suffering behind those works, to build up for themselves and their posterity a country and a name. I could see in my mind the haughty Cornwallis march out upon this plain, surrendering his army and his sword to Washington, in the last grand act in the drama of the American revolution. But how is it today? Yonder rebel fort tells in thunder tones how well their degenerate sons appreciate the legacy.

About dusk an orderly rode up, bringing an order for us to proceed to Williamsburg, some fifteen miles further up the country. We tried to get the captain to stop here till morning and go through the next day, but it was of no use; he had got his orders to march and was going through tonight. I could not see that it was a military necessity to force the march, and after we had gone three or four miles my knapsack began to grow heavy and I grew tired. I halted by the roadside and said I was going to put up for the night and if any one would like to keep me company I should be pleased to have them. About twenty rallied to my standard. After the column bad passed we stepped through a low hedge of bushes into a small open space, surrounded by high bushes which served as a shelter from the winds. There we spread our blankets and laid ourselves down to forget in our slumbers the weight of our knapsacks. The stars looked down on us and the watchful eye of the Almighty was the only sentinel.

When we awoke in the morning the rising sun's bright ray was peeping through the bushes. The first object which met our gaze was a lean, lank, sundy-complexioned, long-haired native, who stood peering over the bushes at us. The first salutation that greeted his ears was, “Who are you and what do you want?" He replied, “I seed you was down yere, and thought I would come down and see if I could get some 'baccer?” Looking up we saw a house out in the field some distance off, and asked him if he resided there. He said he did. We gave him some tobacco and inquired about the roads and distince to Williamsburg. We inquired if there were any bush whackers about here? He said “There mought be once in a while one found." Then we put on a ferocious look and said they had better not be found by us unless they wished to join the antediluvian society and have their bones scattered in every graveyard from here to Jerusalem. The old chap's eyes stuck out and he began to edge off, thinking perhaps we had got on a thick coat of war paint. We made our coffee and started on our journey, and by easy stages came up with the boys in the afternoon. They had pitched the camp and got it all fixed up and named Camp, Hancock.

I thought the captain was as glad to see us as anyone, but he put on a stern look and inquired where we had been and why we fell out. We told him we were tired and lay down by the side of the road to rest and take a nap. He lectured us on the enormity of such proceedings, telling us we had committed a very flagrant breach of good order and military despotism. We assented to all the captain said, but kept thinking all the time that as we were a sort of outcasts, did not belong anywhere and were under no particular command, there wouldn't much come of it.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 111-3

William Preston Smith to John W. Garrett, October 18, 1859 — 8 a.m.

Harper's Ferry, Oct, 18, 1859 — 8 A. M.
J. W. Garrett:

The work is done. The marines after the insurgents refused to submit, broke in with sledges and heavy ladders, and amid heavy firing on both sides, five killed and others wounded, — took the survivors prisoners, and released the citizens who had been held as hostages, among whom was our clerk, Donohoo. Major Russell, of marines, headed them in person unarmed. I never saw so thrilling a scene. The insurgents are all fanatical, white-livered looking scamps of the sort that is ever agitating and exciting to mischief.

No difficulties have attended our trains except their slight irregularity by the interruption. I think the military from Baltimore will be down on mail train time, to-day. The Pennsylvania railroad directors will leave Martinsburg this morning and get to Baltimore this afternoon.


SOURCE: B. H. Richardson, Annapolis, Maryland, Publisher, Correspondence Relating to the Insurrection at Harper's Ferry, 17th October, 1859, p. 21

John W. Garrett to C. W. Perviel, October 18, 1859

October 18th, 1859.
C. W. Perveil,
        New York:

The insurrection is entirely suppressed, all the outlaws killed or arrested, all freight and passenger trains working with entire regularity and safety; no damage has been done to any portion of railway track, trains or property; advise Boston.

B. & O. R. R. Co.

SOURCE: B. H. Richardson, Annapolis, Maryland, Publisher, Correspondence Relating to the Insurrection at Harper's Ferry, 17th October, 1859, p. 21

Governor Henry A. Wise to Major Duffie, October 18, 1859 — 8:20 a.m.

Relay House, Oct. 18th, 1859 – 8.20 A. M.
Maj. Duffie, Alexandria Artillery:

Artillery orders countermanded, insurrection suppressed. So report to Capt. of Infantry.


SOURCE: B. H. Richardson, Annapolis, Maryland, Publisher, Correspondence Relating to the Insurrection at Harper's Ferry, 17th October, 1859, p. 22

Governor Henry A. Wise to Cololnel F. P. August, October 18, 1859 — 8:20 a.m.

Relay House, Oct. 18th, 1859–8.20 A. M.
Col. F. P. August,
        of the Virginia Volunteers, Washington:

You need proceed no further, return to Richmond.

SOURCE: B. H. Richardson, Annapolis, Maryland, Publisher, Correspondence Relating to the Insurrection at Harper's Ferry, 17th October, 1859, p. 22

Colonel Robert E. Lee to John B. Floyd, [October 18, 1859]

To the Hon. Secretary of War:

I find it unnecessary to bring the troops from Fort Monroe here, and have stopped them at Fort McHenry to await orders. All the rioters now trying to escape. A man named Cook has escaped. They are barricaded in the Engine House, within the enclosure of the armory. They have with them some of our best citizens, who they refuse to release. There are several companies here from Virginia and Fredericktown in charge of the village. I have put the armory property in charge of the Marines and shall endeavor to secure and protect the rioters; they have killed several citizens and several of them have been killed.

R. E. LEE.

SOURCE: B. H. Richardson, Annapolis, Maryland, Publisher, Correspondence Relating to the Insurrection at Harper's Ferry, 17th October, 1859, p. 22

George H. Steuart to John W. Garrett, October 18,1859 — 2:33 p.m.

Harper's Ferry, October 18–2.33 P. M.
John W. Garrett.

Stop any troops coming up, and be so good as to inform Brigadier Gen'l Egerton, who has gone home, and Gen. Watkins, that I shall return in the train to-morrow morning and meet them at the division parade.

Please also send a message to my family at Harlem, that I am coming home to-morrow morning.


SOURCE: B. H. Richardson, Annapolis, Maryland, Publisher, Correspondence Relating to the Insurrection at Harper's Ferry, 17th October, 1859, p. 22

H. Tyson, [October 18,1859]

We are now arranging to take a cavalry company from Mt. Clare. Does this countermand the order given by Gen. Steuart and Gov. Wise, this morning for the troops ?


SOURCE: B. H. Richardson, Annapolis, Maryland, Publisher, Correspondence Relating to the Insurrection at Harper's Ferry, 17th October, 1859, p. 22

William Preston Smith to John W. Garrett, October 18, 1859 — 2:35 p.m.

Monocacy, Oct. 18th, 1859–2.35 P. M.
J. W. Garrett:

Train has arrived here with troops. Gen'l Steuart orders that no more troops of any description be sent up, as the work is over, except what the United States Marines may do in maintaining guard.

Gov. Wise and Richmond troops are at Harper's Ferry. Trains all safe and will now fully resume their ordinary regularity. We have safely returned the Frederick troops and guns to that place. We have the Baltimore Brigade entire on my train, every man safe, but sleepy and hungry. Not one of us got over two hours sleep since leaving Baltimore, and that in the cars.

The Company's men have all behaved very energetically and bravely, and had they been seconded properly yesterday, would have saved the Marines their assault and victory to-day.

None of the property of the Company, stationary or movable, has been injured, so far as I can learn; nor was the life of a single passenger imprudently or unduly risked.

Reporters of New York Times, and other distant papers, are on the train with me. The Shepherdstown Guards are bound home on mail west.


SOURCE: B. H. Richardson, Annapolis, Maryland, Publisher, Correspondence Relating to the Insurrection at Harper's Ferry, 17th October, 1859, p. 23

William Preston Smith to Lewis M Cole, October 18, 1859 — 1:10 p.m.

Harper's Ferry, October 18th, 1859—1.10 P. M.
L. M. Cole,

Will send mail east from this place, about half an hour late, followed by ten wheeler with troops, and also Pennsylv[a]nia Rail Road Directors with a third train, — two last as extra. I go on first train as far as Monocacy at least.


SOURCE: B. H. Richardson, Annapolis, Maryland, Publisher, Correspondence Relating to the Insurrection at Harper's Ferry, 17th October, 1859, p. 23

C. Westbrook to William Preston Smith, October 18, 1859—2:43 p.m.

Martinsburg, Oct. 18th, 18[59]—2.43 P. M.
W. P. Smith.

The rumor that our line repairer was shot proves to be untrue. He was, however, shot at whilst engaged in his duties. He deserves credit for his perseverance in the face of danger. One wire is now working through.


SOURCE: B. H. Richardson, Annapolis, Maryland, Publisher, Correspondence Relating to the Insurrection at Harper's Ferry, 17th October, 1859, p. 23

Diary of Gideon Welles: Friday, January 6, 1865

Special messenger from Admiral Porter arrived this morning with dispatches. Left the Admiral and the fleet in Beaufort, coaling, refitting, taking in supplies, etc. He is not for giving up, but is determined to have Wilmington. We shall undoubtedly get the place, but I hardly know when. In the mean time he holds a large part of our naval force locked up. Admirals, like generals, do not like to part with any portion of their commands. As things are, I cannot well weaken him by withdrawing his vessels, yet justice to others requires it. Admiral Porter wrote to General Sherman in his distress, and he sent me Sherman's reply. It shows great confidence on the part of General Sherman in the Admiral, and this confidence is mutual. Instead of sending Porter troops he writes him that he proposes to march through the Carolinas to Wilmington and in that way capture the place. He does not propose to stop and trouble himself with Charleston. Says he shall leave on the 10th inst. if he can get his supplies, and names two or three places on the seaboard to receive supplies; mentions Bull's Bay, Georgetown, and Masonborough. His arrangement and plan strike me favorably; but it will be four or five weeks before he can reach Wilmington, and we cannot keep our vessels there locked up so long. Besides, General Grant has sent forward a military force from Hampton Roads to coöperate with the fleet, a fact unknown to Sherman when his letter was written. Whether this will interfere with or disarrange Sherman's plan is a question. I am told General Terry is detailed to command the military. He is a good man and good officer yet not the one I should have selected unless attended by a well-trained and experienced artillery or engineer officer.

I am apprehensive that General Grant has not discriminating powers as regards men and fails in measuring their true character and adaptability to particular service. He has some weak and improper surroundings; does not appreciate the strong and particular points of character, but thinks what one man can do another can also achieve.

The papers are discussing the Wilmington expedition. Generally they take a correct view. The New York Tribune, in its devotion to Butler, closes its eyes to all facts. Butler is their latest idol, and his faults and errors they will not admit, but would sacrifice worth and truth, good men and the country, for their parasite.

At the Cabinet-meeting no very important matter was taken up. There was a discussion opened by Attorney General Speed, as to the existing difficulties in regard to the government of the negro population. They are not organized nor is any pains taken to organize them and teach them to take care of themselves or to assist the government in caring for them. He suggests that the Rebel leaders will bring them into their ranks, and blend and amalgamate them as fighting men, - will give them commissions and make them officers. The President said when they had reached that stage the cause of war would cease and hostilities cease with it. The evil would cure itself. Speed is prompted by Stanton, who wants power.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 221-2

Diary of Gideon Welles: Saturday, January 14, 1865

The week has been one of interesting incidents, incessant occupation. Admiral Farragut came a week since and called on me. After half an hour or more of conversation on affairs connected with his command, the capture of Mobile, and matters generally, I went with him to the President. In the evening, he, with Mrs. F. and Captain Drayton, spent the evening with us.

Much speculation has been had concerning the dismissal of General Butler. It was anticipated that, being a favorite with the extremists, his dismissal would create a great excitement, but it has passed off without irritation, almost without sensation. The quidnuncs and, indeed, most of the public impute his dismissal from the Army of the James to the Wilmington failure; but it will soon be known that General Grant desired to get rid of him. Butler's greater intellect overshadowed Grant, and annoyed and embarrassed the General-in-Chief.

General Butler's farewell to his army is in many respects skillful and adroit, but in some respects will prove a failure. He does not conceal his chagrin but has hardly discovered whom to strike.

The New York Tribune has striven to warp and torture facts to help Butler, regardless of others and of stern truth. But the Tribune is unsupported. Of course the Rebels and Copperheads will be gratified, and do not conceal their joy. They have some cause for their hate, for he has been a severe, perhaps in some cases an oppressive, governor.

I cannot forget, while glad he is withdrawn from the Fort Fisher command, which he was unfitted to fill, the service which he rendered at Baltimore and in Maryland early in the War, nor his administrative ability at New Orleans, with some infirmities it is true, but which was in many respects valuable to the country. Not a merit which he has should be obscured. I am not his admirer, and should lament to see him in any responsible position without a superior. He has inordinate and irrepressible ambition, and would scruple at nothing to gratify it and his avarice.

The Committee on the Conduct of the War have summoned him to Washington. There was mischief in this. He had been ordered by the President to Lowell. The President yielded. It was well, perhaps, for Butler was off duty. But in Washington he will help the mischief-makers make trouble and stimulate intrigue and faction. Allied with Wade and Chandler and H. Winter Davis, he will not only aid but breed mischief. This is intended.

Seward fears him. There is no love between them, and yet S. would prefer to avoid a conflict. Butler has the reckless audacity attributed to the worst revolutionists of France, in the worst of times, but is deficient in personal courage. He is a suitable idol for Greeley, a profound philanthropist, being the opposite of G. in almost everything except love of notoriety.

The discoveries and disclosures in the Philadelphia Navy Yard are astounding. Some twenty or more arrests have been made, and many of the parties confess their criminality. Some of the worst have not, but the proof against them is strong.

As these men, with scarcely an exception, are friends of the Pennsylvania delegation and appointees of the Administration, extraordinary efforts will be made in their behalf. The Representatives in Congress have, however, thus far behaved pretty well. Kelley protests that he will stand by no culprit, yet several he pronounces to be among the honestest men in Philadelphia, — wants them released and restored.

In Boston the trial of Smith Brothers is brought to a close. It has been on hand some three months. This P.M. (Saturday) Senator Sumner and Representative Hooper called on me with a telegram from the counsel of Smith objecting to the court for the next trial. F. W. Smith's trial is ended; Ben is assigned for next week. The counsel request Sumner to call upon me, and, if I will not grant their request, to go to the President. I told them I was not disposed to consider the subject, and Sumner said he was not inclined to call on the President.

Contentions and rivalries in the Washington Navy Yard give annoyance. Twenty per cent of the workmen are dismissed by order of the Department, and the Senators and Representatives from Maryland object that any Marylander should be of the number dismissed. These strifes among the men and the combinations among the rogues and their friends in the different cities are exciting and drawing out attacks and intrigues against me. The interference of Members of Congress is injurious.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 223-5

Diary of Gideon Welles: Monday, January 16, 1865

Mr. Eames has returned and brings me word that O'Conor decides he will not break over his rule of trying no more jury cases. He therefore declines to undertake the case of Henderson. Advises that I should take Caleb Cushing. This does not exactly comport with my views, and yet after looking over the whole ground it appears to me that the best thing I can do will be to give him the cases of the Navy agencies. The President, with whom I have consulted, approves this course.

Edward Everett died suddenly yesterday morning, the 15th. It seems a national loss, although he has reached a ripe age. His last four years have been useful and displayed more manly vigor and wholesome, intellectual, energetic action than he has ever before exhibited. Heretofore, with high mental culture and great scholastic attainments, his policy has been artificial and conventional, but latterly his course has been natural. At no moment of his life did he stand better with his countrymen than when stricken down. I am indebted to him for many encouraging words and kind support in my administration of the Navy Department. Our party associations ran in different channels until the advent of Lincoln, but from the commencement of the War he frankly, earnestly, and efficiently aided me in many ways. He has written much, and with success, for the Navy in this great struggle.

General Butler called on me this P.M. He has come to testify before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, — called probably on his own suggestion, greatly preferring Washington, for the present at least, to Lowell. I am sorry he has come here. It is for no good or patriotic purpose, I apprehend. As for the Committee on the Conduct of the War, who have brought him here, they are most of them narrow and prejudiced partisans, mischievous busybodies, and a discredit to Congress. Mean and contemptible partisanship colors all their acts. Secretly opposed to the President, they hope to make something of Butler, who has ability and is a good deal indignant. I am not disposed to do injustice to Butler, nor do I wish to forget the good service he has rendered, but I cannot be his partisan, nor do I think the part he acted in the Wilmington expedition justifiable. He does not state clearly what his expectations and intentions were, but is clear and unequivocal in his opinion that Fort Fisher could not be taken except by siege, for which he had no preparation. General Grant could not have been of that opinion or a siege train would have been sent. In a half-hour's conversation he made no satisfactory explanation, although ingenious and always ready with an answer.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 225-6

Diary of Gideon Welles: Tuesday, January 17, 1865

The glorious news of the capture of Fort Fisher came this morning. We had two or three telegrams from Porter and officers of the Navy and Generals Terry and Comstock of the army. Fort Fisher was taken Sunday evening by assault, after five hours' hard fighting. The sailors and marines participated in the assault. We lose Preston and Porter, two of the very best young officers of our navy. Have not yet particulars.

This will be severe for Butler, who insisted that the place could not be taken but by a siege, since his powder-boat failed.

Wrote Admiral Porter a hasty private note, while the messenger was waiting, congratulating him. It is a great triumph for Porter, — greater since the first failure and the difference with Butler.

At the Cabinet-meeting there was a very pleasant feeling. Seward thought there was little now for the Navy to do. Dennison thought he would like a few fast steamers for mail service. The President was happy. Says he is amused with the manners and views of some who address him, who tell him that he is now reëlected and can do just as he has a mind to, which means that he can do some unworthy thing that the person who addresses him has a mind to. There is very much of this.

Had an interview with Caleb Cushing, who called at my house, on the subject of retaining him in the cases of the Navy agencies. Mr. Eames, who came with him, had opened the subject, and agreed as to the compensation on terms which I had previously stipulated.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 226-7

Diary of Gideon Welles: Wednesday, January 18, 1865

The congratulations over the capture of Fort Fisher are hearty and earnest. Some few whom I have met are a little out of humor. General Butler does not appear gladsome, and it is not in human nature that he should. H. Winter Davis, who for some cause avoids me, is not satisfied. I do not doubt that he is glad we have succeeded, but he does not like it that any credit should even remotely come to me. There are three or four like unto him.

Contractors are here innumerable for relief. Demagogues assail me on one hand for expenditures, while contractors complain that their bargains with the Department are so losing that they must have relief.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 227

Diary of Gideon Welles: Saturday, January 21, 1865

The congratulations and hearty cheer of the people over the victory at Fort Fisher are most gratifying. It is a comfort, too, to see, with scarcely an exception, that there is a rightful appreciation of the true merits of those who engaged in the contest, as well as of those who planned and persistently carried out this work.

But there is a contemptible spirit in one or two partisan journals that indicates the dark side of party and personal malice. The Evening Post in the capture of Fort Fisher makes no mention of the Navy. In some comments the succeeding day, the ill feeling again displays itself. The army is extolled, the Navy is ignored in the capture, and turned off and told to go forward and take Wilmington, which the editor says Admiral Porter can do if as eager as he has been for cotton bales. This gross and slanderous injustice called out a rebuke from G. W. Blunt which the editor felt bound to publish, but accompanied it with churlish, ill-natured, virulent, and ill-concealed malevolence. All this acrimony proceeds from the fact that the publisher of the Post is arrested and under indictment for fraud and malfeasance, and the Navy Department has declined to listen to the appeals of the editors to forbear prosecuting him. Henderson's guilt is known to them, yet I am sorry to perceive that even Mr. Bryant wishes to rescue H. from exposure and punishment, and, worse than that, is vindictive and maliciously revengeful, because I will not condone crime. No word of kindness or friendship has come to me or been uttered for me in the columns of the Post since Henderson's arrest, and the Navy is defamed and its officers abused and belied on this account. In this business I try to persuade myself that Godwin and Henderson are the chief actors; but Mr. Bryant himself is not wholly ignorant of what is done.

At the Cabinet-meeting yesterday Stanton gave an interesting detail of his trip to. Savannah and the condition of things in that city. His statements were not so full and comprehensive as I wished, nor did I get at the real object of his going, except that it was for his health, which seems improved. There is, he says, little or no loyalty in Savannah and the women are frenzied, senseless partisans. He says much of the cotton was claimed as British property, they asserting it had the British mark upon it. Sherman told them in reply he had found the British mark on every battle-field. The muskets, cartridges, caps, projectiles were all British, and had the British mark upon them. I am glad he takes this ground and refuses to surrender up property purchased or pretended to be purchased during the War, but which belongs in fact to the Confederate government. Mr. Seward has taken a different and more submissive view, to my great annoyance on more than one occasion, though his concessions were more generally to French claimants.

I am apprehensive, from the statement of Stanton, and of others also, that the Rebels are not yet prepared to return to duty and become good citizens. They have not, it would seem, been humbled enough, but must be reduced to further submission. Their pride, self-conceit, and arrogance must be brought down. They have assumed superiority, and boasted and blustered, until the wretched boasters had brought themselves to believe they really were a superior class, better than the rest of their countrymen, or the world. Generally these vain fellows were destitute of any honest and fair claim to higher lineage or family, but are adventurers, or the sons of adventurers, who went South as mechanics or slave-overseers. The old stock have been gentlemanly aristocrats, to some extent, but lack that common-sense energy which derives its strength from toil. The Yankee and Irish upstarts or their immediate descendants have been more violent and extreme than the real Southerners, but working together they have wrought their own destruction. How soon they will possess the sense and judgment to seek and have peace is a problem. Perhaps there must be a more thorough breakdown of the whole framework of society, a greater degradation, and a more effectual wiping out of family and sectional pride in order to eradicate the aristocratic folly which has brought the present calamities upon themselves and the country. If the fall of Savannah and Wilmington will not bring them to conciliatory measures and friendly relations, the capture of Richmond and Charleston will not effect it. They may submit to what they cannot help, but their enmity will remain. A few weeks will enlighten us.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 227-30

Diary of Gideon Welles: Monday, January 23, 1865

There was a smart brush in the House to-day between Brooks and Stevens, the cause of controversy General Butler, or rather a letter which Brooks had received and construed into a challenge. It will serve for a day or two to divert attention from the Wilmington affair, which must annoy Butler, who is still here under the order of the summons of the Committee on the Conduct of the War.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 230

Diary of Gideon Welles: Tuesday, January 24, 1865

President sent for me this evening. Found Stanton with him, having a dispatch from General Grant desiring him to request me to remove Commander Parker, the senior officer on the upper James. After some conversation, informing them that we had two gunboats above, and that the Atlanta and Ironsides had been ordered thither, I mentioned that Farragut was here, and the President sent for him. On hearing how matters stood, he at once volunteered to visit the force. The President was pleased with it, and measures were at once taken.

I rode down to Willard's after parting at the Executive Mansion and had a few additional words with Admiral Farragut and invited Mrs. F. to stop at our house during the Admiral's absence.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 230

Diary of Gideon Welles: Saturday, January 28, 1865

Have been busy, with no time to write in this book, — Congress calling for information, bills preparing, and a mass of investigations at the navy yards, all to be attended to in addition to current business. Mr. Fox has gone with General Grant to Fort Fisher.

Strange efforts are being made by some of our Massachusetts men for Smith Brothers, who have been tried for frauds and convicted. This is but one of many cases, and to relieve them because they are wealthy, and have position, ecclesiastical and political, must prevent the punishment of others. The President wrote me that he desired to see the case before it was disposed of. I told him I certainly intended he should do so after witnessing the pressure that was brought to bear. He said he had never doubted it, but "There was no way to get rid of the crowd that was upon me,” said he, “but by sending you a note.”

The Philadelphia cases of fraud are very annoying and aggravating. Our own party friends are interceding for some of the accused. They have not yet, like the Massachusetts gents, besieged the President, but they will do so. Their wives and relatives are already appealing to me.

To-day J. P. Hale had a tirade on the Department, denouncing it for prosecuting the Smiths. Was malicious towards both the Assistant Secretary and myself, and strove, as he has formerly done, to sow dissension, and stir up bad feeling. The poor fellow is having his last rant and raving against the Navy Department.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 230-1

Diary of Gideon Welles: Monday, January 30, 1865

Great talk and many rumors from all quarters of peace. The journeys of the elder Blair to Richmond have contributed to these rumors, both here and at Richmond. I am not certain that early measures may not be taken, yet I do not expect immediate results. There were, however, many singular things in the early days of these troubles, and there may be as singular things in its close. There is difficulty in negotiating, or treating, with the Rebels. At the commencement Mr. Seward consulted and diplomatized with the organs of the Rebels, and supposed he could shape and direct their movements. I should not be surprised were he to fall into the same train of conduct at the close, — perhaps with more success now than at the beginning. The President, with much shrewdness and much good sense, has often strange and incomprehensible whims; takes sometimes singular and unaccountable freaks. It would hardly surprise me were he to undertake to arrange terms of peace without consulting any one. I have no doubt that the senior Blair has made his visits in concert with the President. Seward may have been in the movement. He has queer fancies for a statesman. He told me last week that he had looked in no book on international law or admiralty law since he entered on the duties of his present office. His thoughts, he says, come to the same conclusions as the writers and students. This he has said to me more than once. In administrating the government he seems to have little idea of constitutional and legal restraints, but acts as if the ruler was omnipotent. Hence he has involved himself in constant difficulties.

Admiral Farragut returned from James River Saturday night and came directly to my house, and spent yesterday with me. The condition of things on the upper James was much as I supposed. Commander Parker seems not to have been equal to his position, but I must have his own account before forming a decided opinion.

I subsequently learned that Fox, who was present at the close of the interview at the President's on the evening of the 24th, and by whom I sent telegrams to General Grant and Commodore Parker, had, on reaching the telegraph office, substituted his own name for mine to the communications. Farragut, who was present and knew the facts and what took place at the President's, learned what Fox had done when he arrived at Grant's quarters, for he saw the telegrams. The proceeding was certainly an improper one, and it is not surprising that Farragut was indignant.

I have, on one or two occasions, detected something similar in Fox in regard to important orders, — where he had been intrusive or obtrusive, evidently to get his name in the history of these times, and perhaps to carry the impression that he was at least a coadjutor with the Secretary in naval operations.

Farragut assures me he has observed and detected this disposition and some objectionable acts in Fox, as in this instance, which he thinks should be reproved and corrected, but while I regret these faults I have deemed them venial.

I perceive that Admiral Farragut, like many of the officers, is dissatisfied with Mr. Fox, who, he says, assumes too much and presumes too much. There is truth in this, but yet it is excusable perhaps. I wish it were otherwise. He is very serviceable and, to me, considerate, deferring and acquiescing in my decision when fixed, readily and more cheerfully than most others; but he is, I apprehend, often rough with persons who have business at the Department. In many respects, in matters that are non-essentials, I yield to him and others, and it annoys many by reason of his manner and language. His position is a hard one to fill. The second person in any organization, especially if he is true and faithful to his principal, incurs the censure and ill-will of the multitude. For these things allowance must be made. Fox commits some mistakes which cause me trouble, and it is one of his infirmities to shun a fair and honest responsibility for his own errors. This is perhaps human nature, and therefore excusable. With the Naval officers he desires to be considered all-powerful, and herein is another weakness. But he is familiar with the service and has his heart in its success.

Admiral Farragut favors a Board of Admiralty. It is a favorite theme with others to give naval ascendancy in court sessions. I can perceive arguments in its favor which would relieve the Secretary of labor, provided rightly constituted and properly regulated. There would, however, be jealousies in the service of such a board, as there are of the Assistant Secretary. It would be claimed that it dictated to the Secretary and abused his confidence. It would not be beneficial to the government and country.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 231-3

Diary of Gideon Welles: Tuesday, January 31, 1865

I made a short stay at Cabinet to-day. The President was about to admit a delegation from New York to an interview which I did not care to attend. The vote was taken to-day in the House on the Constitutional Amendment abolishing slavery, which was carried 119 to 56. It is a step towards the reëstablishment of the Union in its integrity, yet it will be a shock to the framework of Southern society. But that has already been sadly shattered by their own inconsiderate and calamitous course. When, however, the cause, or assignable cause for the Rebellion is utterly extinguished, the States can and will resume their original position, acting each for itself. How soon the people in those States will arrive at right conclusions on this subject cannot now be determined.

John P. Hale is giving his last venomous rants against the Navy Department. He has introduced a resolution calling for certain information, the adoption of which was opposed by Conness, the small-pattern Senator from California. I should have been glad to have it slightly amended and adopted, although it might give me some labor, at a time when my hands are full, to respond.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 234

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Diary of Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes, November 14, 1864

Cold, windy day. This morning the First Brigade returned from Martinsburg. I assumed command again and camped them pleasantly in a wood on the extreme left. Slept cold.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 537

Diary of Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes, November 15, 1864

General Crook gone to Cumberland. General Duval takes his place. I today return to Second Division. Not so good quarters nor arrangements as at the brigade.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 537

Diary of Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes, November 16, 1864

A fine November day. Had my tent floored, banked up, and a chimney. (The Sixth and Nineteenth Corps building winter quarters. P. M. rode to cavalry camp on Front Royal Road. Night, a wine-drinking.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 537

Diary of Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes, November 17, 1864

Read speculations on Sherman's new move. Great hopes of his success. Rode into Winchester with Colonel Harris and Captain McKinley; called at Mr. Williams' law office; read the constitutional provisions as to amendments.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 537

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Lucy Webb Hayes, November 17, 1864


DEAREST: When I wrote last I was in some doubt whether this Valley campaign was ended or not. It seems to be now settled. Early got a panic among his men and left our vicinity for good, I think.

The Sixth and Nineteenth Corps are building winter quarters. A telegraph line is put up and the railroad from Winchester to Harpers Ferry is nearly rebuilt. The location is a good one for a large body of troops. We are very pleasantly camped, but having no orders to put up winter quarters, have not fixed up for winter. We are very comfortable, however. My tent is floored, banked up, a good tent flue built, etc., etc. daily papers now regularly. The Baltimore American, a sound Republican paper, sells several thousand copies, more than all other papers put together. The Philadelphia Inquirer, also sound, sells next in number. The New York Herald, sound on the war in a sort of guerrilla style, sells one thousand to two thousand copies. No other newspapers have any large circulation, but the pictorials, Harper's Weekly having the preference, sell immensely — nearly as many copies, I judge, as the Baltimore American. The Christian Commission distributes a vast amount of religious reading matter gratuitously. The sutlers sell dime novels and the thunder-and-lightning style of literature, in large quantity.

The Sixth and Nineteenth Corps have built fine fieldworks. The weather has been good and a great many squads and regiments are drilling. There are a score or two of bands. Possibly two are better than ours not more than that. There is a good deal of horse-racing with tolerably high betting. The scenes at the races are very exciting. You would enjoy them. Nothing so fine of the kind is anywhere to be [seen] in civil life. Here the subordination of rank, the compulsory sobriety of the great crowds, etc., rid these spectacles of such disagreeable accompaniments as rioting, drunkenness, and the like. – We are beginning to have oyster and wine suppers and festive times generally.

General Crook has gone to Cumberland, and it is thought that my command will be ordered there for the winter, but this is all guess. I am again in command of the division after going back to the brigade for one day. How we shall be organized ultimately is not settled. I prefer the brigade. It now has three fine veteran regiments and the Thirteenth. The First Virginia Veterans (old Fifth and Ninth) is splendid.

I mean to ask for a leave as soon as we get housed in our winter quarters. I hope to see you by Christmas.

Tell Birch I am greatly pleased to have a letter from him. He will soon be one of my chief correspondents. — Love to all. Affectionately ever, your


P. S. — Hastings is getting better slowly. There are now hopes of his recovery. His sister is with him.

Mrs. Hayes.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 537-9

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Sardis Birchard, November 20, 1864

CAMP RUSSELL, VIRGINIA, November 20, 1864.

DEAR UNCLE:— I tonight received yours of the 14th. We have had no battle for a month, and it is a week yesterday since I heard Rebel firing! This is wonderful. It is more than six months since I could say the same. We do not feel settled here, but are getting very comfortable. It is probable that we shall have a rest sometime this winter, but not yet certain. The Sixth and Nineteenth Corps may be needed at Richmond or somewhere, but I think the Army of West Virginia will do guard duty merely. What an interest the country now feels in Sherman! It looks as if he might strike some vital blows. If we get settled in time, I mean to get home by Christmas, if it is possible.


November 23. — Awful weather. Linen tents, like a fish seine for shelter, mud bottomless, cold and cheerless. All that yesterday and day before made many of us cross and gloomy not me — but today is clear and bright and bracing. The turkeys, etc., sent from the Christian land [have arrived] and everyone is happy and jolly. This is camp life. We are sure we shall make another move back in a few days.

November 24th. — Thanksgiving Day. Good winter weather and no news.


SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 539

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Lucy Webb Hayes, November 23, 1864

November 23. – Colder than any huckleberry pudding I know of! Whew, how it blew and friz last night! I took my clothes off in Christian style last night. No enemy near for a week and more makes this the correct thing. It got windy, flue disgusted smoked, let the fire go out, then grew cold; put on pants, coat, and vest, in bed. Cold again, put on overcoat and in bed again. Colder than ever, built up the fire, [it] smoked. So I wanted to be cold, and soon was. Tent-pins worked loose from the wind flapping the fly; fixed them after much trouble; to bed again, and wished I was with my wife in a house of some sort!

Today the men were to have had overcoats, stockings, shirts, etc., which they greatly need, but behold, we learn that the clothing couldn't come because all the transportation was required to haul up the turkeys and Thanksgiving dinner! We must wait until next train, eight days! And we all laugh and are very jolly in spite of it.

8 P. M. - The clothing has come after all. The turkeys are issued at the rate of a pound to a man. Very funny times we are having! When the weather is bad as it was yesterday, everybody, almost everybody, feels cross and gloomy. Our thin linen tents - about like a fish seine, the deep mud, the irregular mails, the never-to-be-seen paymasters, and “the rest of mankind," are growled about in "old-soldier" style. But a fine day like today has turned out brightens and cheers us all. We people in camp are merely big children, wayward and changeable. Believe me, dearest, your ever loving husband,


SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 540

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Lucy Webb Hayes, November 20, 1864

CAMP RUSSELL, VIRGINIA, November 20, 1864.

MY DARLING: – You see the Army of the Shenandoah has a name for its camp. Named after the General Russell who was killed at the battle of Winchester, September 19.

We have had no battle for a month! No Rebel firing for a week! Wonderful. But we don't feel settled yet. We are quite comfortable, nevertheless. We are I think waiting to see the issue of Sherman's daring campaign in Georgia. At present no furloughs or leaves of absence are granted except for sickness.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 539-40

Diary of Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes, Monday, November 21, 1864

Camp Russell. — Cavalry camp on our left broken up. Said to be gone to Stephenson's Depot, five miles north of Winchester. Rode out to works on Front Royal Road. Review of Sixth Corps in a cold rain-storm; eight brigades — ten thousand [men].

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 540

Diary of Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes, Tuesday, November 22, 1864

Snow on the mountains low down; ground frozen; "sky, chill and drear.” Rode with Roberts to Winchester and the battle-field, to where I crossed Red Bud Creek. An ugly place to cross, it is.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 541

Diary of Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes, Saturday, November 26, 1864

Rode with Generals Crook and Duval, Colonel Harris, of [the] Tenth, and Wells, of [the] Fourteenth, to works. A jolly wine-drinking in the evening with Captains Stanley and Stearns, Thirty-sixth, who leave on resignation.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 541

Diary of Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes, Sunday, November 27, 1864

A ride with Colonel Comly; a visit to General Crook. A fine day; a brigade dress parade. All pleasant.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 541

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: May 21, 1864

Sun all day, but a little hazy; perhaps a battle.

There was quite a battle yesterday on the south side. The accounts in the morning's paper fall short of the whole of our success.

The enemy, it is said to-day, did not regain the works from which they were driven, but are now cooped up at Bermuda Hundred. Nothing is feared from Butler.

Nothing from Lee, but troops are constantly going to him.

I saw some 10,000 rusty rifles, brought down yesterday from Lee's battle-field. Many bore marks of balls, deeply indenting or perforating the barrels. The ordnance officer says in his report that he has collected many thousands more than were dropped by our killed and wounded. This does not look like a Federal victory!

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 216

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: May 22, 1864

Clear and warm, but the atmosphere is charged with the smoke and dust of contending armies. The sun shines but dimly.

Custis was with us last night, and returned to camp at 5 A.M. to-day. He gets from government only a small loaf of corn bread and a herring a day. We send him something, however, every other morning. His appetite is voracious, and he has not taken cold. He loathes the camp life, and some of the associates he meets in his mess, but is sustained by the vicissitudes and excitements of the hour, and the conviction that the crisis must be over soon.

Last night there was furious shelling down the river, supposed to be a night attack by Butler, which, no doubt, Beauregard anticipated. Result not heard.

The enemy's cavalry were at Milford yesterday, but did no mischief, as our stores had been moved back to Chesterfield depot, and a raid on Hanover C. H. was repulsed. Lee was also attacked yesterday evening, and repulsed the enemy. It is said Ewell is now engaged in a flank movement, and the GREAT FINAL battle may be looked for immediately.

Breckinridge is at Hanover Junction, with other troops. So the war rolls on toward this capital, and yet Lee's headquarters remain in Spottsylvania. A few days more must tell the story. If he cuts Grant's communications, I should not be surprised if that desperate general attempted a bold dash on toward Richmond. I don't think he could take the city-and he would be between two fires

I saw some of the enemy's wounded this morning, brought down in the cars, dreadfully mutilated. Some had lost a leg and arm— besides sustaining other injuries. But they were cheerful, and uttered not a groan in the removal to the hospital.

Flour is selling as high as $400 per barrel, and meal at $125 per bushel. The roads have been cut in so many places, and so frequently, that no provisions have come in, except for the army. But the hoarding speculators have abundance hidden.

The Piedmont Road, from Danville, Va., to Greensborough, is completed, and now that we have two lines of communication with the South, it may be hoped that this famine will be of only short duration. They are cutting wheat in Georgia and Alabama, and new flour will be ground from the growing grain in Virginia in little more than a month. God help us, if relief come not speedily! A great victory would be the speediest way.

My garden looks well, but affords nothing yet except salad.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 216-7

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: May 23, 1864

Fair and warm, with pleasant breezes.

Gen. Johnston, without a defeat, has fallen back to Calhoun, Ga.

Gen. Lee, without a defeat, has fallen back to Hanover Junction, his headquarters at Ashland. Grant is said to be worming his way eastward to the Peninsula, the field occupied by McClellan in 1862. Why, he might have attained that position without the loss of a man at the outset!

On Saturday night Gen. Butler made the following exploit:

“On Saturday night the enemy renewed his assault, assailing that portion of our line held principally by Wise's brigade. In some manner our men had become apprised of the intention of the enemy to make a night attack, and were fully prepared for it. The enemy were allowed to advance, our men deliberately reserving their fire until they were within 20 or 30 yards of them, when they poured into their ranks a most terrific volley, driving them back with great slaughter. The repulse is said to have been a most decided success; the enemy were thrown into great confusion and retreated rapidly.

“The enemy's loss is said to have been very severe, and is estimated at hardly less than four or five hundred in killed alone, while we are said to have lost none in killed, and some thirty or forty wounded.”

There was an immense mail to-day, and yet with my sore eyes I had no aid from my son, still at the intrenchments. I hinted my desire to have him, but young Mr. Kean opposed it.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 217-8

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: May 24, 1864

Clear and warm.

No fighting yesterday besides small collisions near Hanover Junction. It is said to-day that Grant threatens the Central Railroad, on Lee's left. This is regarded as a serious matter. We want men.

An armed guard is now a fixture before the President's house.

Peas were in market on the 18th inst.; price $10 a half peck. Strawberries are $10 per quart. There has been no meat in market for a long time, most of the butchers' stalls being closed during the last three months. Unless government feeds the people here, some of us may starve.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 218

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: May 25, 1864

Sunshine and showers.

Custis is back again, the battalion of clerks being relieved, after three weeks' service in the field.

Yesterday there was skirmishing between the armies, near Hanover Junction-25 miles distant from the city.

Nothing of importance from the south side. But our ironclads are certainly going down the river—they say.

To-day it is thought a battle commenced between Lee and Grant. It will be, perhaps, a decisive engagement, whenever it does take place. And yet there is no trepidation in the community; no apparent fear of defeat. Still, there is some degree of feverish anxiety, as Lee retires nearer to the capital followed by the enemy. A little delay would make us stronger, as reinforcements, especially of cavalry, are daily arriving. The trains run from the city to Lee's headquarters in one hour and a half.

A letter from Senator Henry, of Tennessee, to the Secretary, suggests that Forrest's cavalry be now sent to the rear of Sherman's army in Georgia, to cut off his supplies, etc., resulting in his destruction. Perhaps this is the purpose. And Lee may have some such design. A few days will develop important events. May they put an end to this desolating war.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 218-9

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: May 26, 1864

Sunshine and showers.

Senator Henry's letter was referred to Gen. Bragg, who returned it to-day with the indorsement that the suggested movement had not escaped attention, and a good result might soon be looked for. And sure enough, a dispatch was received from Atlanta to-day, announcing the capture of some 250 of the enemy's wagons laden with stores!

It is to be hoped that Gen. Lee has some scheme of a similar character, to relieve Grant of his supply trains. Troops are daily coming hither, infantry and cavalry, whence in one hour and a half the former reach Lee's army. The great battle still hangs fire, but to be of greater magnitude when it does occur.

Gen. Bragg did a good thing yesterday, even while Senator Orr was denouncing him. He relieved Gen. Winder from duty here, and assigned him to Goldsborough, N. C. Now if the rogues and cut-throats he persisted in having about him be likewise dismissed, the Republic is safe! Gen. Ransom has now full charge of this department.

Mr. Secretary Seddon is sick, and Mr. Assistant Secretary Campbell is crabbed-Congress not having passed his Supreme Court bill. And if it were passed, the President would hardly appoint him judge.

It is said one of our iron-clads is out-the rest to follow immediately. Let Butler beware!

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 219

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: May 27, 1864

Clouds and sunshine; cooler.

Nothing additional from the West. Several thousand Georgia mounted troops have arrived during the last 24 hours, in readiness to march to Lee. One Georgia regiment has 1200, and a South Carolina regiment that went up this morning 1000 men. Lee's army is at Ashland—17 miles distant.

The enemy are marching down the Pamunky, north side. They will doubtless cross it, and march through New Kent and Charles City Counties to the James River, opposite Butler's army. Grant probably intends crossing his army to the south side, which, if effected, might lose us Richmond, for the city cannot subsist a week with its southern communications cut. We should starve.

But Beauregard means to make another effort to dislodge Butler, immediately. It will probably be a combined movement, the iron clads co-operating. It is a necessity, and it must be done without delay, no matter what the cost may be. If Butler remains, the railroads will be cut. If the city be taken, not only will the iron-clads be lost, but a large proportion of the army may be cut off from escape. Immense munitions would certainly fall into the hands of the enemy.

The Whig and Enquirer both denounced Gen. Bragg to-day.

Senator Orr's assault in the Senate on Gen. Bragg was followed by another from Wigfall, who declared there was a want of confidence in the President. Mr. Orr said his appointment was discourtesy to the Secretary of War, whereupon the Secretary fell ill yesterday, but to-day he is well again. Nevertheless, the Senate voted Gen. B. the salary, etc. allowed a general in the field. And Gen. Winder has been treated as cavalierly as he treated me. Retribution is sure.

The city is excited with rumors. One is that Beauregard, when about to engage the enemy last week, was ordered by Bragg to evacuate Petersburg-certainly an insane measure. Gen. Beauregard (so the story runs) telegraphed the President (who was with him, as I heard) to know if such an order had his sanction. The President replied that Gen. Bragg's orders were authorized by him. Beauregard disregarded the order and fought the battle, saving Petersburg. Then Beauregard tendered his resignation, which was not accepted. It is also said that the order was directed to the commandant of the garrison; but the courier was stopped by Generals Wise and Martin, who gave the paper to Beauregard. There is another rumor that Bragg's orders caused Lee to fall back; and, of course, the credulous people here are despondent; some in despair. There may be some design against the President in all this.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 219-21