Monday, April 19, 2021

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: April 5, 1863


I fear I was not appreciated on the fort, as I was superseded after my first day's effort and have since been assigned to other duty; but I nobly served my country, and I know that history will do me justice. Yesterday I was out in the country among the wild flowers. I went out with a picket guard, about three miles in a southeasterly direction, to what is called Mills cross-roads, relieving the old picket. After spreading our blankets on the grass beside the fence, we entered vigorously on our duty of waiting and watching for the rebel Gen. Garnett, and listening to the sweet warbling of the singing birds. There is nothing in picket duty that stirs up a great amount of enthusiasm, but still it is a good steady business, with occasionally a little ray of excitement, as when a darky comes along and one has to examine his pass.

About the middle of the afternoon, we heard the approach of horses, and looking up the road, saw two ladies coming at a swift gallop towards us. My first impulse was to charge cavalry, but I refrained from doing so, as I saw they were not enemies. As they came up, I recognized Madames Bartholomew and Cliffton. I turned out the guard and extended to them the customary civilities. They said they were out for an afternoon's ride and supposed it was as far as they could go in that direction. I told them they might go further if they wished, and I should be pleased to furnish them an escort, only it would weaken my lines. They laughed and thanked me for my gallantry, but thought they had better not venture farther. I inquired if there were any news stirring in town, and they answered, “All quiet on the Roanoke.” They then bade us good afternoon and started on the retreat. There is no church service today; all hands are busy at work on the fort, and things are beginning to look as though war was liable to break out at almost any time.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 87-8

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: April 10, 1863


The siege of Washington on the Pamlico river continues, and heavy tiring is heard from there every day. We learn they have got Gen. Foster shut up there and he is in danger of being made prisoner. That may be, but I will bet ten to one he holds the keys and will never take off his cap to any general in the Confederate service.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 88

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: April 16, 1863

Work goes bravely on at the fort; one gun mounted today and if we can have two or three days more we shall be ready to receive company. Our little force here is being well handled, and with the aid of the boats can make a stubborn resistance. We heard that Gen. Spinola left Newbern with quite a force, going overland to the relief of Gen. Foster, but when about half way there he got scared and turned back. Gen. Foster will not compliment him very highly for that feat. I have heard a rumor that we have had an invitation to surrender; that a flag of truce came to our lines and requested an interview with the post commander. Col. Pickett went out. They said something about his surrendering, when the colonel replied he had not been in communication with his superior recently and had received no orders to surrender, and that under the circumstances he thought it wouldn't look hardly military to surrender without first burning a little powder over it. He then dismissed the fag. Bravo, colonel, bravo!

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 88

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: April 19, 1863


The steamer Thomas Collyer arrived last night, bringing dispatches of some kind, but just what we were unable to find out. This morning, however, the mystery was cleared up. The 12th New York battery was on the wharf, the 46th Massachusetts and the other detached companies were breaking camp, preparatory to going aboard the boat. This meant evacuation and going to the relief of Foster. The 25th of course is to be the last to leave, and we cast the last sad, lingering look on Plymouth. That is always our style; the first in and last out, and never lost a battle. But just here, the uncertainty of all things human is again illustrated. Just is the troops were aboard, the old Massasoit comes putting up the river, bringing the welcome news that Foster has run the blockade and the order of evacuation is countermanded. Cheer after cheer rends the air, smiles light up every counterance and hope takes the place of despair. But won't there be larks now, though? If there is anybody hanging around Washington who does not belong there, they had better be getting away.


It seems that after Spinola's abortion and the troops' return to Newbern, the brave Col. Sisson of the 5th Rhode Island was so disgusted with the whole thing that he proposer going with his regiment alone to Foster's relief. He and his regiment went aboard the steamer Escort, and on the evening of the 13th, under cover of a heavy fire from the guboats on the batteries at Hill's Point, seven miles below Washington, he successfully ran the blockade, arriving at Washington with his troops and supplies. The next evening, with Gen. Foster aboard, he again ran the gauntlet, landing the general safely in Newbern. But it is said the Escort looked like a pepper-box from the shot holes made in her while running the gauntlet. On this perilous trip only one man (the pilot) was killed. The little garrison at Washington held out bravely. It consisted of only eight companies of the 27th and the 4th Massachusetts regiments, two companies of the 1st North Carolina, one company of the 3d New York cavalry and one New York battery, aided by two or three gunboats on the river. Against this small force was opposed some 12,000 of the enemy as near as we can learn. After Gen. Foster got away they did not seem to care to wait for his return, but folded their tents and silently stole away.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 89

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: April 24, 1863


The noise of the battle is over and we are longer harassed by war's dread alarms, but can now sit down, eat our fresh shad and herring and drink our peach and honey in peace and quiet.


Our provost marshal, Major Bartholomew of the 27th Massachusetts, has opened a broker's office, where he is exchanging salt and amnesty for allegiance oaths, and as this is the fishing season, he is driving a right smart business. The natives for miles around come in droves, take the oath, get their amnesty papers and an order for salt, and after being cautioned not to be found breaking their allegiance they go away happy. There are probably some honest men among them who would like to do about right if they dared to, but the whole thing looks ludicrous, for there is evidently not one in a hundred of them who would ever think of taking the oath were it not for the hope of obtaining a little salt. The boys call it the salt oath.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 89-90

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: April 28, 1863


I was out in the country yesterday, doing picket duty, and fell in with an old gentleman with whom I had a good sensible talk, He was an intelligent, well appearing man, who said he was a farmer, or had been one until the breaking out of the war. He owns a plantation just outside our lines, but is not permitted to go into town. He is allowed to purchase in small quantities such articles as he may need by sending in his negro man or getting the boys to bring them out. He said at the commencement of the secession movement, he and all this part of the state, in fact nearly all of the state, was opposed to it, and in two state conventions, to both of which he was a delegate, the ordinance of secession was rejected, and not until after South Carolina on one side and Virginia on the other had gone out was the ordinance of secession passed.

He said: “Situated as we were we could not remain neutral, and although opposed to it from the beginning and all the time even after the war commenced and all our young men had gone into the army, it was but natural that I should sympathize with my own people.”

“Certainly," I replied, “but have you any hopes of the ultimate success of the Confederacy?”

“None whatever, and I told our people so at our conventions. We are a ruined people and the best thing we can do is to make peace with the government on any terms we can.”

“Yes, but you know the terms are very simple, merely to lay down your arms and return to your loyalty to the government.”

“Yes, I know it is simple enough now, but I reckon the government at Richmond is not wise enough to accept it, and the longer they keep up the war the worse we are off, and in the end we will have to accept such terms as are dictated to us.”

A sensible old gentleman that, and I should have liked to go out to his place and sample his peach and honey, scuppernong and things.


An order was received here today from the war department discharging Stokes from the service. When the order was read, it took him by surprise as it was his first intimation of it. He seemed disappointed and said he should like well enough to go home a few days, but did not like the idea of going to stay and thought he should be back with us again in a few weeks.

He left for home this afternoon. I am sorry to lose Stokes and shall miss him very much. He was my chief of staff and I placed great reliance on him. He was one of our best boys, possessed of excellent judgment, and was unsurpassed in the secret service. I parted with him with many regrets and shall always retain pleasant memories of our soldier life.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 90-1

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Captain Charles Wright Wills: February 21, 1865

Pleasant Hill, S. C., February 21, 1865.

Fifteen miles to-day. Yesterday we traveled the Camden road. To-day we turned northwest. Poor country, quite rolling. Pine, scrub oak and sand.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 351

Captain Charles Wright Wills: February 22, 1865

Page's Ferry, Wateree River, February 22, 1865.

It seems to be certain that we have Charleston. Made about ten miles to-day. Our regiment and the 6th Iowa were sent down to an old ferry to make a demonstration. Found no enemy.

The 2d and 3d are already across and we cross in the morning and take the advance. We now have eight days' rations which are to last 30—wish they'd burn them all to get rid of the wagons.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 351

Captain Charles Wright Wills: February 23, 1865

Flat Rock P. O., February 23, 1865.

Fifteen miles. Traveled east or northeast. Very rough, hilly country, hills rock topped.

Passed through a village called “Liberty Hill,” some elegant houses. Forage plenty. No news and don't know anything.

No enemy.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 351

Captain Charles Wright Wills: February 24, 1865

West's Cross Roads, 13 miles northeast of Camden, S. C.,
February 24, 1865.

Made 14 miles a little south of east. We passed about a mile south of Gates' old battle ground. A dozen foragers of the 99th Indiana were captured to-day, but our foragers caught more Rebels than that, besides 50 wagons and 200 horses and mules belonging to refugees. Stringent orders from Howard, Logan and Wood about stealing. It has rained for 24 hours. No enemy in front to-day. Got out of the clay hills again on sand-pine flats.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 352

Captain Charles Wright Wills: February 25, 1865

February 25, 1865.

Have not moved to-day. Rebels captured 15 men of the 29 Missouri to-day. Our foragers have been straggling for seven or eight miles in every direction; three of our regiment captured a refugee camp of seven men, ten guns, two revolvers, some pistols and 25 mules. Ordered to keep men well in hand this p. m., as Rebel cavalry is demonstrating on our front and flanks. I think it must be at a respectful distance. Rumor says Longstreet is somewhere around. Think we are waiting for the left of the army to get up with us. Our foragers have been to Camden, 13 miles; pretty tall straggling. Others have been out southeast 11 miles, and saw our 2d and 4th divisions moving on a big road, side by side, going east. Nobody can yet decide what our destination is. It is reported to-day that 13 of our ad division foragers were found by the roadside dead, with a card marked “Fate of foragers;” also four of the 3d division killed. Gen. J. E. Smith, commanding, shot four of his prisoners in retaliation. Colonel Catterson says as we were marching to this camp to-day he had pointed out to him the tree under which Baron DeKalb died at the battle of Camden. Have had 48 hours of rain with a prospect of continuance.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 352

Captain Charles Wright Wills: February 26, 1865

Fullersville, S. C., Sunday, February 26, 1865.

Sixty hours of rain terminated at daylight this morning, but it has not hurt the sandy roads a particle. We made 11 miles in four and one quarter hours, and are now waiting for a bridge to be completed over this creek, “Lynch's.” We think now we are on the road to Wilmington. The map shows a good deal of railroad to be destroyed on the way, but I think we will get through by the 15th of March. Expect “you uns” are getting anxious about “we uns” again. This is, I think, a much longer thing than the Savannah campaign. Our 4th division took 103 prisoners here last night and our ad took 200 more to-day. They are State Line Troops and muchly demoralized. It is a fact about that murdering yesterday. Sherman is out in a big retaliation order to-day. Wilmington is reported ours. Thunder and lightning last evening. Hear that the rain has raised the creek until it is three-quarters of a mile wide, and we won't get across to-morrow. I think I'll put down our principal campaigns:


Dec., 1862, The Tallahatchie River Campaign

120 miles.


April, 1863, The Panola, Miss., 9 day's march

180 miles.


July, 1863, Jackson, Miss., Campaign

100 miles.


Oct. & Nov., '63, Memphis to Chattanooga, and in



Dec. to Maryville, Tenn., and back to Scottsboro, Ala.

800 miles.


Jan., '64, Wills Valley Campaign.

100 miles.


Feb. & March, '64, Dalton, Ga., Campaign

300 miles.


May until Sept., Atlanta Campaign.

400 miles.


Oct., 1864, Atlanta to Gadsden, Ala., and return

300 miles.


Nov. & Dec., Atlanta to Savannah.

300 miles.


Jan., Feb. & March, '65, The Carolina Campaign.

400 miles.



3,000 miles.

A captain and seven men who went foraging yesterday are still missing, supposed to be captured or killed. And 20 men of the 97th Indiana who went out this morning are reported all killed by a 46th Ohio man, who was wounded and left for dead by the Rebels. He says the 97th boys paid for themselves in dead Rebels before they were overpowered. Our corps has now 500 prisoners, three times as many as we have lost.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 353-4

Captain Charles Wright Wills: February 27, 1865

Tillersville, February 27, 1865.

We have half a mile of bridging to build before we can get across this Lynch's creek, the rains have swollen it so much. Our 6th Iowa foragers we thought captured are all right. They got across this creek before the freshet and it cut them off. The 97th Indiana men are gone up. All of the 20 killed or captured but 3; 11 dead Rebels were found on their little battle field, so the report comes from General Corse, I understand. The Rebels are losing, I should think, about 3 or 4 men to our one, but they are showing more manhood than those who opposed our march in Georgia. It isn't the “militia,” for the 360 prisoners our corps have taken within four days surrendered without firing a shot. They were S. C. chivalry, proper. The men who are most active on their side, I think, belong to Butler's or Hampton's command from the Potomac. They are cavalry and don't amount to anything as far as infantry is concerned, but only think they venture a little closer than Wheeler does. (You are expected to emit a sarcastic ha! ha!! and remark: “They don't know Sherman's army as well as Wheeler does.”) They say we can't cross here until the water falls, and as there is an excellent prospect for more rain, we are thinking of building cabins in which to pass the rainy season.

All our wounded are doing excellently. The surgeons say that the wounded do much better being transported in ambulances than in stationary hospitals. They escape the foul air is the main reason.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 354

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Captain Charles Wright Wills: February 28, 1865

February 28, 1865.

High water still keeps us here. We will probably get off to-morrow. It is thought we will cross the Great Peedee at Cheraw; there is so much swamp lower down that might trouble us.

A thousand rumors afloat to-day. The citizens have it that Grant has whipped Lee since the Hatcher Run affair. It rained some last night and is now—8 p. m. —sprinkling again. If it rains hard to-night we will have to give up crossing here and go higher up. The 17th is across. The left wing is reported near Charlotte, N. C., but don't know that it is so. We have heard that Davis' commissioners have returned to Washington.

We are having a time sure. They say now that we will not get across to-morrow. I heard some outrageous jokes to-day about a Golden Christ which was stolen by some of our thieves in Columbia, and in an inspection on the 26th it was found in a department headquarter's wagon. They are too wicked to tell. This army has done some awful stealing. Inspectors pounce down on the trains every day or two now and search them. Everything imaginable is found in the wagons. The stuff is given to citizens or destroyed. Our last winter campaign ends to-day. Only five and one-half months more to serve.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 355

Diary of Gideon Welles: Friday, September 16, 1864

At the Cabinet nothing of interest. Seward and Fessenden were early there and left. Judge Otto,1 who was present in the place of Usher, presented a paper for the removal of Charles L. Lines, a land officer in Kansas, stating he was a troublesome man and an opponent of the Administration. It is not usual for me to volunteer remarks touching the appointments of another Department, but I could not forbear saying this statement if correct was extraordinary, — that Lines was an old Whig, we had been old opponents in Connecticut, — that he, in earnest zeal, went early to Kansas, had made sacrifices of domestic comfort, had lost one or two sons there, and I should be surprised if he was not a friend of the President. Otto said he knew nothing on the subject. It was a question in which Senator Jim Lane took an interest and had been submitted by Mr. Edmunds.2 The President said he was sorry Lane had come here just at this time, for he would want him (the President) to adopt all his personal quarrels. For the present, and until he knew more, he declined to interfere.

Acting Admiral Bailey has come here, and dislikes, I presume, his orders to the Portsmouth Navy Yard, — would have preferred his command of the East Gulf Squadron. I had supposed he desired and would be gratified with the change. But prize money is a great stimulant.

1 William T. Otto, Assistant Secretary of the Interior.

2 James M. Edmunds, Commissioner of the General Land Office.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 147-8

Diary of Gideon Welles: Saturday, September 17, 1864

Talked over the subject of Wilmington, examined its localities, and considered the position of things fully with Porter and Fox. I had intended Blair should have been present, for the meeting was at his house, but he was compelled to leave for Baltimore.

Porter has preferred retaining the Mississippi Squadron, but repeated what he has heretofore said, - that he had been treated kindly by the Department, and if I ordered him to go over Niagara Falls in an iron pot he should obey the order. In other words, he and every naval officer must submit and give up their own wishes to the orders of the Department without a murmur of dissent.

There was a special Cabinet-meeting to-day on the subject of the abandoned plantations. A person of the name of Wright wishes the President to put him in possession of what he claims to be his plantation, now in the occupancy of Mr. Flanders, the Treasury agent. It seems that F. has fifty-two of these plantations, or had some time since, perhaps he has more now.

The President said serious questions were rising in regard to this description of property; appeals were made to him, and he could not undertake to investigate and adjust them. Quite a discussion took place in which the President, Mr. Bates, and Mr. Stanton took the principal part. It was not made distinctly to appear how these plantations came into the hands of Mr. Flanders, the Treasury agent. All who were present, except Mr. Bates and myself, seemed to take it for granted that it was legitimate and proper. They said the law had prescribed how abandoned plantations became forfeit. Mr. Stanton said he had given the subject great attention and most thorough investigation, and he made a somewhat emphatic and labored argument, telling the President (very properly I think) he could not, and ought not to, take upon himself the details of these embarrassing questions; that when Admiral Farragut and General Butler took possession of New Orleans, many of the inhabitants fled, leaving their plantations, and kept themselves within the Rebel lines; thousands of negroes were left unprovided for. It became necessary for the government to provide for them; the military authorities had taken up their deserted plantations and seized others, and let them out for the negroes to work. When Mr. Chase got his Treasury agents at work, it was thought best to turn these plantations over to him. After a little time, Chase became sick of his bargain, and desired the War Department to retake possession and responsibility but he (S.) had, declined.

Mr. Bates wanted a definition of “abandoned.” Was it “abandonment” for a man to leave his home with his family and go for a few months to the North, or to Cuba, or to Richmond? etc. Mr. Stanton said the statute made that clear, but Mr. Bates thought Congress, though they made law, did not make dictionaries. I put the question if a man had two plantations, one in Alabama and one in Louisiana, at the time of the capture of New Orleans, and he, being in Alabama, remained there, within the Rebel lines, attending to his private domestic affairs, whether that would be an abandonment of his Louisiana plantation so that Mr. Flanders could take and hold it. I also asked if there was not a preliminary question to all this, — would it not be necessary to ascertain by proper, legal inquiry whether the owner was a Rebel and traitor.

There is too much of a disposition to jump to a conclusion — to take for granted — on many occasions. The owner by legal title-deeds and records is entitled to his land unless he has forfeited it. If a Rebel and traitor, he may have forfeited it, but who is to decide that he is a traitor? Not the military commander or quartermaster, and yet no other officer or tribunal has passed over them.

Some difference appeared between Fessenden and Stanton as to which should have the custody of the plantations. F. thought the agent should report to S. and vice versa. If seized or taken possession of from military necessity, I have never been able to see why the Treasury agent should have them. If not a military necessity, how can he have possession, except under some legal decision? It is not sufficient that the law says the land of a traitor shall be forfeited. Who shall expound and carry the law into effect, transferring title? Not the Treasury agent, certainly.

The President said he wished some means devised to relieve him from these questions. He could not undertake to investigate them. Stanton said that was true, but that, having given the subject great consideration, he was prepared to say what in his opinion was best, – that was that the whole of the matters pertaining to abandoned plantations should be turned over to the War Department and he would organize a bureau or tribunal to make rightful disposition of each case presented.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 148-50

Diary of Gideon Welles: Monday, September 19, 1864

Grant has gone up to the Shenandoah to see Sheridan. I had advised Porter and Fox to visit Grant on James River, but this prevented, and yesterday it was said at the War Department he would be here to-day. We now learn he has already returned to the Army of the Potomac, so P. and F. left this P.M. to visit him and arrange particulars. Grant has not yet decided or made known what general he shall select for this service.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 150-1

Diary of Gideon Welles: Tuesday, September 20, 1864

Intelligence reaches us this morning that Sheridan has achieved a great victory over Early in the valley of the Shenandoah, after much hard fighting. This will do much to encourage and stimulate all Union-loving men, and will be ominous to Lee.

At Cabinet-meeting. Met Fessenden on my way, who said he had called in but the President told him there was no business.” This is the announcement three out of four days of meeting. Sometimes matters are brought forward notwithstanding. I found the Postmaster-General and the Attorney-General with the President. In a few minutes Fessenden returned, and shortly after Stanton came in. It was easy to perceive that the latter was full, – that he had something on the brain, — and I concluded he had additional tidings from Sheridan. But, the President being called out just as he entered, Stanton went and seated himself by Fessenden and conversed in an undertone. He had remarked as he came in that he had sent for Mr. Seward. When Seward arrived, Stanton unfolded and read a telegram, stating two steamers had been captured on Lake Erie by Rebels from Canada. This he said was a matter that immediately concerned the State and Navy Departments. He inquired what naval force we had there. I told him I apprehended more than we were authorized to have by treaty stipulations. He inquired what the treaty was; said he knew nothing about that. Seward explained. Stanton wanted to know where the Michigan was. I told him she had lain at Johnson's Island most of the summer to aid the army and guard prisoners and my impression was that she was still there. As usual, he was excited, and, as usual, a little annoyed that I viewed the matter coolly. He soon left, and Seward also, each agreeing to let me know as soon as they had farther information. On my return to the Department I telegraphed to Commodore Rodgers in New York to hold himself in readiness to obey any orders, and also to Admiral Paulding to have one hundred picked men and officers ready to proceed on immediate service if required. I then called on Stanton, who agreed to furnish transportation for these men and four guns to Buffalo, if the occasion needed them, — and he was confident it would, thought they had better be sent at all events, officers, men, and guns. I thought it premature but that we would be prepared. Just before leaving the Department for the day, Stanton sent me a dispatch just received, that some Rebel refugees had come on board the packet-boat Parsons at Malden, the boat being on her way from Detroit to Sandusky; had risen on the officers and crew and seized the boat, had subsequently seized and sunk the (Island Queen), then run their own boat into a Canada port and disabled and then deserted her. I called on Stanton at the War Department on my way home and remarked the flurry was pretty well over, and the fuss ended. He did not, he said, consider it so by any means. One vessel was destroyed, and one was rushing over the lake and all our vast shipping on the Lakes was at its mercy. I requested him to reread the dispatch he had sent me. He did so, and was a little nonplussed; but said the pirate was there and would do the same thing over again. I thought not immediately. He thought they would at once, and we should be prepared by having two more naval vessels. The army had two, he said, which they would turn over to us. I remarked that we had best keep within the terms of the treaty, and call on the British authorities to do their duty. I remarked this was a piece of robbery and could not be considered in any other light; that the robbers had come from Canada and risen upon the vessel upon which they had embarked, and had fled into Canada with the stolen property. The State Department had, or should have, the question now in hand. This, I perceived, was letting off the affair in too quiet a way to suit the Secretary of War, and I left him. He is always in an excited panic, a sensational condition, at such times.

There was some conversation after the others left, between the President, Blair, and myself - chiefly by them in regard to men and things in Maryland. In the early days of the Administration, H. Winter Davis and his crew had been more regarded than they deserved.

Some matters in Dakota were also alluded to. Todd, who succeeded in obtaining the seat of delegate over Dr. Jayne, brother-in-law of Trumbull, had undertaken to be exacting, and the President had told him so. I well remember that early in the Administration Trumbull had pressed the appointment of his brother-in-law to that Territory, against the wishes and convictions of the President. It appeared to me that Trumbull was unreasonable, but he then succeeded. His brother-in-law had just previously been elected to the Illinois Senate by seven votes in a district that was usually Democratic; his appointment compelled him to resign and a candidate of opposite politics was elected. The control of the legislature went into other hands; Richardson, an opponent of the Administration, was elected;1 a quarrel then broke out in Nebraska between the two - Jayne and Todd - from Springfield, etc., etc.

1 To the United States Senate, William A. Richardson.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 151-3

Diary of Gideon Welles: Wednesday, September 21, 1864

The victory of Sheridan has a party-political influence. It is not gratifying to the opponents of the Administration. Some who want to rejoice in it feel it difficult to do so, because they are conscious that it strengthens the Administration, to which they are opposed. The partisan feeling begins to show itself strongly among men of whom it was not expected. In New York there has been more of this than elsewhere. Robert C. Winthrop, once potent and powerful in Massachusetts, a man of position and of talent, not a great man, but a scholar of taste and pretension, a gentleman and statesman, made his appearance in New York, with Fernando and Ben Wood, Rynders,1 and others, whom in other days he detested. Winthrop is a disappointed man. He had high aspirations and high expectations, and not without reason. Had he pursued a faithful, conscientious course, he would have won high official distinction and influence. But, confident of his strong position in New England and with the Whigs, he courted their enemies, repelled the Republicans and fell. As he swerved from the track, Sumner and others, who did not, perhaps, regret his error, stepped forward, and poor Winthrop in a very short time found that instead of gaining new friends he had lost old ones. For several years he felt very uncomfortable, and has now committed another great mistake. The National Intelligencer, which has endeavored to hold a position of dignified neutrality during this Administration, has finally given way and become strongly partisan. This I regret, for the editor has ability, and has made his paper respectable. His discussions of current and important questions have been highly creditable and often instructive, and I cannot but think it unfortunate that he should take an attitude which will injure him and his paper and do good to no one.

Some attempt is made by the Richmond papers to help the cause of McClellan by an affectation of dread of his superior military attainments and abilities and his greater zeal for the Union. The effort is so bald, so manifestly intended for their sympathizing friends, that no one can be deceived by it. There was a time when such stuff had a market in the North, but that time has gone by.

1 Isaiah Rynders, a local politician of New York.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 153-4

Diary of Gideon Welles: Thursday, September 22, 1864

Senator Harris called on me. He is jubilant over Sheridan's success, but much disturbed by the miserable intrigues of Weed and Seward in the city of New York. Says he has told the President frankly of his error, that he has only given a little vitality to Weed, whose influence has dwindled to nothing, and would have entirely perished but for the help which the President has given him. This he is aware has been effected through Seward, who is a part of Weed. The removal of Andrews as Naval Officer, the appointment of Wakeman to his place, causing Wakeman to leave the post-office, into which they have thrust Kelly, an old fiddler for Seward in other years, is a Weed operation. Seward carried it out.

Blair tells me that Weed is manœuvring for a change of Cabinet, and Morgan so writes me. He has for that reason, B. says, set his curs and hounds barking at my heels and is trying to prejudice the President against me. Not unlikely, but I can go into no counter-intrigues. If the President were to surrender himself into such hands, which I do not believe, — he would be unworthy his position. He has yielded more than his own good sense would have prompted him already. For several months there has been a pretended difference between Seward and Weed; for a much longer period there has been an ostensible hostility between Weed and Sim Draper. I have never for a moment believed in the reality of these differences; but I am apprehensive the President is in a measure, or to some extent, deceived by them. He gives himself — too much, I sometimes think — into the keeping of Seward, who is not always truthful, not sensitively scrupulous, but a schemer, while Weed, his second part, and of vastly more vigor of mind, is reckless and direct, persistent and tortuous, avaricious of late, and always corrupt. We have never been intimate. I do not respect him, and he well knows it. Yet I have never treated him with disrespect, nor given him cause of enmity, except by avoiding intimacy and by declining to yield to improper schemes of himself and his friends. On one occasion, at an early period of the Administration, Mr. Seward volunteered to say that he always acted in concert with Weed, that “Seward's Weed and Weed's Seward.” If, as Blair supposes, Weed is operating against me, Seward probably is also, and yet I have seen no evidence of it, - certainly none recently.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 154-5

Diary of Gideon Welles: Friday, September 23, 1864

Montgomery Blair
No business of importance brought before the Cabinet to-day. Some newspaper rumors of peace, and of letters from Jeff Davis and others, all wholly groundless. Seward and Fessenden left early. Mr. Bates and myself came out of the Executive Mansion together and were holding a moment's conversation, when Blair joined us, remarking as he did so, “I suppose you are both aware that my head is decapitated, — that I am no longer a member of the Cabinet.” It was necessary he should repeat before I could comprehend what I heard. I inquired what it meant, and how long he had had the subject submitted or suggested to him. He said never until to-day; that he came in this morning from Silver Spring and found this letter from the President for him. He took the letter from his pocket and read the contents, — couched in friendly terms, — reminding him that he had frequently stated he was ready to leave the Cabinet when the President thought it best, etc., etc., and informing him the time had arrived. The remark that he was willing to leave I have heard both him and Mr. Bates make more than once. It seemed to me unnecessary, for when the President desires the retirement of any one of his advisers, he would undoubtedly carry his wishes into effect. There is no Cabinet officer who would be willing to remain against the wishes or purposes of the President, whether right or wrong.

I asked Blair what led to this step, for there must be a reason for it. He said he had no doubt he was a peace offering to Frémont and his friends. They wanted an offering, and he was the victim whose sacrifice would propitiate them. The resignation of Frémont and Cochrane was received yesterday, and the President, commenting on it, said F. had stated "the Administration was a failure, politically, militarily, and financially,” that this included the Secretaries of State, Treasury, War, and Postmaster-General, and he thought the Interior, but not the Navy or the Attorney-General. As Blair and myself walked away together toward the western gate, I told him the suggestion of pacifying the partisans of Frémont might have been brought into consideration, but it was not the moving cause; that the President would never have yielded to that, except under the pressing advisement, or deceptive appeals and representations of some one to whom he had given his confidence. “Oh,” said Blair, “there is no doubt Seward was accessory to this, instigated and stimulated by Weed.This was the view that presented itself to my mind, the moment he informed me he was to leave, but on reflection I am not certain that Chase has not been more influential than Seward in this matter. In parting with Blair the President parts with a true friend, and he leaves no adviser so able, bold, sagacious. Honest, truthful, and sincere, he has been wise, discriminating, and correct. Governor Dennison, who is to succeed him, is, I think, a good man, and I know of no better one to have selected.

Blair has just left me. I was writing and just closing the preceding page as he called. He says he has written his resignation and sent it in or rather handed it to the President. The letter from the President which he received this morning was to him entirely unexpected. But, though a surprise, he thinks it right and will eventuate well. That Seward has advised it he does not doubt, though the President does not intimate it. But the President tells him that Washburne recommended it. Strange if the President is influenced by so untruthful, unreliable, and mean a man as Washburne. But Washburne thinks it will help the President among the Germans. The President thinks it is necessary to conciliate Weed (he might have said Chase also) who, with his friends, defeated Wadsworth for Governor two years ago. Such are Blair's conclusions and, I may add, my own. Yet I cannot but think there must be something ulterior, for it is unlike the President to dismiss an acknowledged and true friend, a public officer who has, he says, discharged his duties well and against whom there is no complaint. Why, then, is he dismissed or asked to resign, when there is no cause? My impression is that the President does not intend to part with Blair, and I shall be disappointed if he is not recalled, perhaps to some other position in the Cabinet, perhaps to act in an important capacity for the restoration of the Union. But this is all speculative.1


1 At a subsequent period the President informed me that Mr. Chase had many friends who felt wounded that he should have left the Cabinet, and left alone. The Blairs had been his assailants, but they remained and were a part of the Administration. This Mr. C. and his friends thought invidious, and the public would consider it a condemnation of himself and an approval of the Blairs. If Montgomery Blair left the Cabinet, Chase and his friends would be satisfied, and this he (the President) thought would reconcile all parties, and rid the Administration of irritating bickerings. He considered both of them his friends, and thought it was well, as Chase had left, that Blair should go also. They were both in his confidence still, and he had great regard for each of them.

The relations of Stanton with Blair were such that it was difficult for the two to remain and preserve the unity and freedom necessary for good administration and social intercourse. It was not Seward's policy to advise the dismissal of Blair, but he would strenuously urge that Stanton, between whom and Blair there was hostility, should be retained. At this time the President was greatly embarrassed by contentions among his friends, by nominal Republicans, by intense radicals, and the strong front of the Democrats. — G. W.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 156-8

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Diary of Gideon Welles: Saturday, September 24, 1864

Sheridan follows up his work, and bids fair to disperse and annihilate Early's entire army. The effect of his successive victories has been a great fall in the price of gold, or an appreciation of paper currency. We are, I think, approaching the latter days of the Rebellion. The discomfiture of Early is likely to make Lee's continuance in Richmond uncomfortable, yet where can he go to make a more effectual stand? Some indications of a desire on the part of the authorities of Georgia to effect a restoration, are more than intimated, and a prevalent feeling of despondency is manifest throughout the Rebel region. An effective blow by Grant at Richmond or the retreat of the Rebel army will be the falling in of the crater.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 158

Diary of Gideon Welles: Monday, September 26, 1864

The consuls in London, Liverpool, etc., report a probable change of tactics by the Rebels in fitting out fast-sailing privateers to depredate on our commerce. It is a policy that has been a constant source of apprehension to me from the time it was determined to have a blockade - an international process - instead of closing the ports, which is a domestic question. The Rebels failed to push the privateering scheme, as I have always believed under secret admonitions from England and France. Those governments have not conformed to the extent expected to Rebel views, and not unlikely a demonstration may be made on our commerce, perhaps on some one of our light-armed blockaders by a combination of two or three of their purchased cruisers.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 158-9

Diary of Gideon Welles: Tuesday, September 27, 1864

Received mail from Admiral Farragut. Among his dispatches one confidential, inclosing a letter from General Canby, who had received a singular order signed by the President, directing that one A. J. Hamilton should be permitted to export cotton from Sabine Pass, Galveston, etc., himself, and that Hamilton's written order should be a permit for others to export. As General Canby, to whom this document was directed, has no control over the squadron, he had inclosed the President's order to Admiral Farragut. The Admiral had transmitted it to the senior officer off Galveston, and communicated copies of the whole correspondence to me, remarking that it would lead to immense swindling.

I submitted this extraordinary document to the President, and remarked as I did so, that in the discussions that had taken place on this subject on two or three occasions within the last six weeks, and since this order (dated, I think, the 9th of August) was issued, no allusion had been made to it, that it conflicted with the blockade which the Department was obliged to enforce, and that I was surprised on receiving the information. The President seemed embarrassed but said he believed it was all right. “How right?” I inquired. He said it was one of Seward's arrangements, that he guessed would come out well enough; but evidently did not himself know, or, if he knew, was unwilling or unable to explain.

This is another specimen of the maladministration and improper interference of the Secretary of State. Commencing with the first expedition sent out to supply Sumter, which he took measures to defeat, there has been on his part a constant succession of wrong acts, impertinent intrigues in the affairs of other Departments, blunders and worse than blunders, that disgrace the Administration. There is unmistakable rascality in this cotton order. Thurlow Weed was here about the time it was issued, and it will not surprise me if he has an interest in it.

Seward thinks to keep his own name out of the transaction. The President has been made to believe that the order was essential; the Secretary of State has so presented the subject to him that he probably thought it a duty. There are times when I can hardly persuade myself that the President's natural sagacity has been so duped, but his confidence in Seward is great, although he must know him to be, I will not say a trickster, because of his position and our association, but over-cunning to be strictly honest. And when I say this, I do not apply to him dishonesty in money transactions when dealing with men, or the government perhaps, but political cheating, deceiving, wrong administration. He knows this scheme to bring out cotton was a fraud, and hence, instead of coming directly to me, who have charge of the blockade, or bringing the question before the Cabinet in a frank and honorable manner, there is this secret, roundabout proceeding, so characteristic of the Secretary of State.

He insisted on a blockade at the beginning. Would not listen to closing the ports. Would make it an international, not permit it to be a domestic, question. Now, in violation of international law and of fair and honorable blockade, he and his friends are secretly bringing out cotton from Texas. This is not in good faith, but is prostituting the government and its action. I regret that Farragut did not disregard the order until it came to him legitimately through the proper channel.

Had a call from my old friend the elder Blair. It was not unexpected. Detaching Lee from the North Atlantic Squadron I supposed would cause dissatisfaction to Lee, who would, through his wife, stimulate her father to make an effort in his behalf. The old man got word to-day that Lee was detached and hastened to me. He thought himself hard used in the blows that fell upon his children. Frank had been smitten for exposing Frémont and Chase. Montgomery had been dismissed from the Cabinet, and simultaneously Lee had been detached from his command after two years' faithful service. I told him the case appeared a hard one as he presented it; that I felt the removal of Montgomery from our counsels as the greatest misfortune that had befallen the Cabinet, but my consolation was that it would only be temporary and he would certainly soon have as honorable a position; that Frank had done and was doing great service, which the country would, if it did not already, appreciate; that Lee was not degraded in being assigned to another command. I knew him to be cautious and vigilant, but not, perhaps, the man for an immediate demonstration, an assault requiring prompt action. He had labored well, and in a pecuniary point of view been better paid than any man in the Navy.

The old man wanted me to recommend him for promotion to a full commission as rear-admiral, but that, I told him, followed deserving action. It must be earned.

Acting Admiral Lee has acquitted himself very well, has discharged his duties intelligently and firmly. But he can never be a great commander. While he has administered the affairs of his squadron safely, he has failed to devise and execute any important act. The same opportunities in the hands of Porter, or Foote, or Farragut, and, I think, of John Rodgers, would have shown vastly more important results. His caution runs into timidity. He is avaricious and ambitious, I fear ungenerous and illiberal; is destitute of heroic daring.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 159-62

Diary of Gideon Welles: Wednesday, September 28, 1864

I called to-day on Secretary Fessenden with Farragut’s dispatch and the order of the President permitting A. J. Hamilton of Texas to bring out cotton, to the Treasury agent. He disclaims all knowledge of the transaction and says he will not recognize it. Looks upon it as an outrageous swindle, violating the blockade, and imposing upon the country. “Why,” he pertinently inquires, “was not this question, so important, not submitted to the whole Cabinet.” He was very earnest and wished me to again inquire of the President in regard to it.

Had an interview with Attorney-General Bates respecting some questions submitted to him for opinion. The old gentleman is very honest and right-minded; delights to be thought a little – or a good deal - obstinate, if satisfied he is right.

The finding of a court martial in the case of Commander Downes of the R. R. Cuyler, which ran short of fuel, and he, instead of using his sails and striving to get into port, proceeded to dismantle his vessel, burning his spars, gun-carriages, caissons, etc., bought lumber from on board a merchant vessel on its way to Cuba; and for all this sends in a dispatch complaining of his engineer and preferring charges against him, without any seeming consciousness that he was responsible himself, or blamable. But the court condemns Downes and dismisses him from the service. The sentence is severe but correct, though the punishment may be mitigated. It is necessary, however, to correct a rising error among a certain class of officers who are inclined to relieve the commander of a ship of responsibility, a pernicious error that would, if acquiesced in, demoralize the service. That his engineer was in fault is doubtless true, but the commander must make himself acquainted with the condition of his vessel and its equipment. Downes has proved himself an officer of merit in some respects, and it must be remembered to his credit at a time when a great failing has put him in jeopardy.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 162-3

Diary of Gideon Welles: Thursday, September 29, 1864

The appointments to the Naval Academy are a great annoyance and often a great embarrassment. Of course the Secretary is much blamed for every disappointment, although he has none but contingent appointments. Persons often apply to the President, who is restricted in his appointments, but who gives a favorable indorsement to almost all. Each considers this abundant to secure him a place, and denounces me if he does not succeed.

I again spoke to the President in relation to his order to A. J. Hamilton, and remarked to him that it was in conflict with the blockade. He was disturbed, and said Seward had fixed that up, and he presumed it was right. "Suppose you see Seward yourself,” said he. This I must do, but to little purpose, I apprehend.

The great fall in gold within a few days begins to effect prices. In other words, commodities are getting nearer their actual value by the true money standard. Recent victories have largely contributed to this, but there are other causes, and I think Fessenden may be a more correct financier than Chase, but neither is exactly fitted for the place.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 163

Diary of Gideon Welles: Friday, September 30, 1864

At the Cabinet-meeting Seward produced a telegram from Governor Nye of the Nevada Territory, stating that the new constitution had been adopted by the people, and desired the President to issue a proclamation announcing the fact pursuant to law. The telegram stated the vote, which was very decisive, and Seward thought sufficient was done by the Governor in sending this word to authorize the President to act; but the latter queried whether he ought not first to see the constitution, and know what were its provisions, and whether a more formal communication than a telegraphic dispatch ought not to be received. Seward, however, was, in his loose way of treating the most important questions, ready to act, said almost everything was done nowadays by telegraph. He received and sent the most important communications in that way, and presumed the other Departments did also, and turned to Fessenden as if to have him verify the fact. Fessenden said, however, with some sharpness, the President would do as he pleased, but that he, Fessenden, would not put his name to a proclamation under such circumstances, but would have, in a proper form, the fact.

The President, differing with Seward, yet unwilling to give dissatisfaction, told him he might prepare a proclamation, and in the mean time he would examine the laws and consider the subject. No reasons were given for the extreme haste exhibited. Seward said the Governor was very anxious about it, and Nye, a Democrat of former years, is one of his pets and somewhat thick of late with both him and Weed. I suggested that if the people had framed and adopted their constitution, and it was not inconsistent with the Federal Constitution, it was and would be their form of government, whether the President enunciated the fact a few days earlier or not, that being a mere ministerial act. But, supposing there was some objectionable feature, — that they had extended or altered the prescribed boundaries, or inserted some improper provisions, the President might feel himself greatly embarrassed if he acted without knowledge.

This, however, is a specimen of the manner in which the Secretary of State administers affairs. He would have urged on the President to this unwise proceeding to gratify one of his favorites. It is a trait in his character.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 163-4

Diary of Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Saturday, September 24, 1864

Marched five (miles) to Edinburg, seven to Mount Jackson, seven and one-fourth to New Market nineteen and one-fourth [in all]. A fine day; fine scenery.

Rebels stood a short time at Reed's Hill near Mount Jackson, but soon retreated; admit a bad defeat — loss of seventeen pieces of artillery and five thousand men. Camp facing the gap into Luray Valley.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 512-3 

Diary of Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Sunday, September 25, 1864

March nine (miles) to Sparta and nine to Harrisonburg—eighteen. A fine town and a fine day. General Early reported (to have gone over into Luray Valley to go through Blue Ridge. I conjecture he will go to railroad and Lynchburg. This is a splendid day, a fine town.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 513

Diary of Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Monday, September 26, 1864

At camp near Harrisonburg. Receive Sheridan's telegraphic report of our last battle. Crook's command gets proper credit for once.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 513

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Lucy Webb Hayes, September 26, 1864

HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA, September 26, 1864.

DEAREST:— Another victory and almost nobody hurt. The loss in my division (you know I now command General Crook's old Division, Twenty-third and Thirty-sixth Ohio and Fifth and Thirteenth Virginia, Thirty-fourth and Ninety-first Ohio and Ninth and Fourteenth Virginia) is less than one hundred. Early's Rebel veterans, Jackson's famous old corps, made our Bull Run defeat respectable. They ran like sheep. The truth is, General Crook outwitted them. The other generals opposed his plan but Sheridan trusts him absolutely and allowed him to begin the attack on his own plan. But I have written all this.

Love to the boys. Regards to Uncle Scott and all on the hill. I got his good letter just before our last fight.

Affectionately ever,

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 513

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Sardis Birchard, September 26, 1864

HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA, September 26, 1864.

DEAR UNCLE:—You have heard enough about our great victories at Winchester and Fisher's Hill. I will say only a word. No one man can see or know what passes on all parts of a battle-field. Each one describes the doings of the corps, division, or what not, that he is with. Now, all the correspondents are with the Sixth and Nineteenth Corps and the cavalry command. General Crook has nobody to write him or his command up. They are of course lost sight of. At Winchester at noon, the Sixth and Nineteenth Corps had been worsted. In the afternoon, General Crook (who is the brains of the whole thing) with his command turned the Rebel left and gained the victory. The cavalry saved it from being lost after it was gained. My brigade led the attack on the Rebel left, but all parts of Crook's command did their duty. The Sixth Corps fought well, the Nineteenth failed somewhat, and the cavalry was splendid and efficient throughout. This is my say-so.

My division entered the fight on the extreme right of the infantry, Merritt's splendid cavalry on our right, and Averell still further on our right. We ended the fight on the extreme left. The Rebels retreated from our right to our left, so that we went in at the rear and came out at the front, my flag being the first into and through Winchester. My division commander was wounded late in the fight and I commanded the division from that time. It is the Second, General Crook's old division.

At Fisher's Hill the turning of the Rebel left was planned and executed by General Crook against the opinions of the other generals. My division led again. General Sheridan is a whole-souled, brave man (like Dr. Webb) and believes in Crook, his old class and roommate at West Point. Intellectually he is not General Crook's equal, so that, as I said, General Crook is the brains of this army.

The completeness of our victories can't be exaggerated. If Averell had been up to his duty at Fisher's Hill, Mr. Early and all the rest would have fallen into our hands. As it is, we have, I think, from the two battles five thousand Rebel prisoners unhurt - three thousand wounded, five hundred killed; twenty-five pieces of artillery, etc., etc.

In the Fisher's Hill battle, the Sheridan Cavalry was over the mountains going around to the rear. This, as it turned out, was unfortunate. If they had been with us instead of Averell, there would have been nothing left of Early. General Averell is relieved.

I lost one orderly, my adjutant-general, Captain Hastings, and

field officers in all regiments, wounded. No officers especially intimate with me killed. I had my scene which I described in a letter to Lucy.


SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 513-5

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Lucy Webb Hayes, September 27, 1864

HARRISON BURG, VIRGINIA, September 27, 1864.

DEAREST:—We have left the further pursuit of Early's broken army to cavalry and small scouting parties. We are resting near a beautiful town like Delaware. We suspect our campaigning is over and that we shall ultimately go back towards Martinsburg.

It has been a most fortunate and happy campaign for us all — I mean, for all who are left! For no one more so than for me. My command has been second to none in any desirable thing. We have had the best opportunity to act and have gone through with it fortunately.

My chief anxiety these days is for you. I hope soon to hear that your troubles are happily over. Much love to the dear ones and oceans for yourself.

Affectionately ever, your

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 515

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Sardis Birchard, September 27, 1864

September 27, 1864.

DEAR UNCLE:—Our work seems to be done for the present. The cavalry and small scouting parties are after the scattered and broken army. It looks as if we should, after [a] while, return towards the Potomac. We are resting in the magnificent Valley of Virginia. A most happy campaign it has been. Our chance to act has been good, and it has been well improved. My immediate command is one of the very finest, and has done all one could desire.

There are five or six brigadier-generals and one or two major-generals, sucking their thumbs in offices at Harpers Ferry and elsewhere, who would like to get my command. One came out here yesterday to ask for it, but General Crook tells them he has all the commanders he wants and sends them back. There is not a general officer in General Crook's army and has not been in this campaign.

Things look well in all directions. Lincoln must be re-elected easily, it seems to me. Rebel prisoners — the common soldiers all talk one way: “Tired of this rich man's war; determined to quit if it lasts beyond this campaign.”


SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 515-6

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Sophia Birchard Hayes, September 27, 1864

HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA, September 27, 1864.

DEAR MOTHER: We are now one hundred miles south of Harpers Ferry. Our victories have so broken and scattered the Rebel army opposed to us that it is no use for infantry to pursue further, except in small parties scouting the woods and mountains. The cavalry are going on. We are resting in a lovely valley. I rather think that our campaigning is over for the present. It has been exceedingly fortunate. General Crook's whole command has done conspicuously well. I commanded in the last fighting the fine division formerly commanded by General Crook. We led the attack on both days. It is the pleasantest command a man could have. Half of the men are from Ohio, the rest from West Virginia.

I think we shall stay here some time and then go back towards Martinsburg.—Love to all.


SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 516

Dr. Joseph T. Webb, September 28, 1864.

Camp nigh Harrisonburg, Virginia, September 28, 1864.

[After the battle on the Opequon] the enemy fell back to Fisher's Hill, some eighteen miles from Winchester. This was supposed to be impregnable, the key to the Valley. Here they fortified themselves and boasted, as you will see by the Richmond papers, that they could not be ousted. We followed on. At this point the Valley is quite narrow, North Mountain and Middle Mountain approaching each other, say within three miles of each other. The mountainsides are steep and rough. Now, just here, a creek runs directly across the valley, whose banks are steep and high on which the Rebels have erected strong earthworks. To attack these would be worse than death. The Rebels felt quite secure. We could see them evidently enjoying themselves. After looking about a day or so, Crook proposed to flank them on their left again, this time climbing up the side of the mountain. So after marching all day, at four P. M., we found ourselves entirely inside of their works, and they knew nothing of it. Again Crook orders a charge, and with yells off they go, sweeping down the line of works, doubling up the Rebels on each other. They were thunderstruck; swore we had crossed the mountain. The men rushed on, no line, no order, all yelling like madmen. [The] Rebs took to their heels, each striving to get himself out of the way. Cannon after cannon were abandoned (twenty-two captured). Thus we rushed on until we reached their right. Here again [as on the 19th] darkness saved them once more. Such a foot-race as this was is not often met with. The Rebs say Crook's men are devils.

It was after this charge, as we were encamped on the roadside, [that] the Sixth and Nineteenth [Corps] passing gave us three cheers. Crook had given Averell his orders to charge just so soon as the enemy broke, but as usual he was drunk or something else and failed to come to time. Thus he wasted the grandest opportunity ever offered for capturing the enemy and gaining credit for himself. Sheridan ordered him to the rear, relieving him of his command. This same Averell was the sole cause of Crook's disaster at Winchester. He failed constantly on the Lynchburg raid; now he lost everything almost, and is merely relieved. Had he followed up the enemy after they were dispersed, he could have captured all their train, cannon, etc., besides scattering and capturing all of the men. Sheridan's Cavalry proper had been sent round to turn their flank through Luray Valley, but the Rebs had fortified the pass and they could not reach us. As it is, however, we have whipped the flower of the Rebel army; they are scattered in all directions. We have captured about four thousand prisoners (sound) and three thousand wounded, killing some five or seven hundred.

Our cavalry are still pursuing. All this day we can hear artillery firing. It is reported that yesterday we captured or caused them to burn one hundred waggons. I presume the infantry will not move much farther in this direction.

The men all feel fine. We have “wiped out” Winchester. Notwithstanding the Rebs had choice of position, [the number of] our killed and wounded does not equal theirs. They have lost four or five generals; colonels and majors, any quantity. Many are coming in from the mountain. All say they are tired of this war. The people are getting tired, and many noted Rebels are willing and anxious to close this out.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 516-8

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Lucy Webb Hayes, September 28, 1864—5 a.m.

HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA, September 28, (5 A. M.), 1864.

DEAREST:—We have marching orders this morning. Where to, etc., I don't yet know. I think we shall have no more heavy fighting. You will know where we are before this reaches you through the papers. We shall probably be out of the reach of you for several days.

My thoughts are of you these days more than usual and I always think of my darling a good deal, as I ought to do of such a darling as mine. You know I am

Your ever affectionate

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 518

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Isaac D. Luce to Bradford F. Thompson, August 11, 1894

Murray, Iowa, Aug. 11, 1894

B. F. Thompson.—Dear Comrade:  Your kind invitation to meet with the 112th at the annual reunion in Galva, on the 22nd inst. was duly received.  I should like to meet the boys and sake hands with them, but I am so crippled with rheumatism* that it is impossible for me to go.

My best wishes to all the comrades.

Yours in F. C. & L.,

SOURCE: The Stark County News, Toulon, Stark County, Illinois, Thursday, August 23, 1894, p. 6

Co. B Reunion

The 44th annual reunion of the surviving members Co. B, 19th Ill. Vol. Inft. Was held at the home of W. H. Boardman, in the village of Osceola, Stark county, Illinois September 17, 1908.

There were present the following members of the company:

James Montooth, Toulon.
David Jackson, Toulon.
Robert Fell, Toulon.
I. M. Spencer, Neponset.
R. A. Gardner, Neponset.
George Dugan, Bedford, Iowa.

Besides the above named members the following widows of members were present.  Mrs. Louisa Jackson, Mrs. Samuel Montooth, Mrs. James Boardman, Mrs. C. H. Drury, Mrs. E. W. Houghton, Mrs. G. W. Ried, Mrs. Lucy Robinson, Mrs. Lewis Williams.

Letters from the following:

George P. Ritchie, Prophetstown, Ill.
A. T. Johnson, Huntington, W. Va.
Walter Clark, Pentwater, Mich.
Mrs. Kate Luce, Murray, Iowa.
John Douglas, Malcolm, Iowa.

Soldiers of other regiments were in attendance as follows: Robert Parks, C. E. Bishop, G. W. Reid, Dora Vandike, A. G. Froth, Carlos Lyle and also the following confederate soldiers: A. R. Tomlinson, David Farmer.

The time before dinner was passed in visiting and getting acquainted. The tables were set in Boardman hall and were set for fifty guests. They were filled three times before all were served, and the waiters said enough food was left for fifty more. It is wonderful how the good women will provide for the inner man, and all of the very best food.

The following was the program:

Music, The Osceola Military band.
Song, “Welcome,” double quartet.
Invocation, Rev. Slyter.
Song, “Illinois,” Jackson Trio.
Recitation, “The Blue and the Gray,” Mamie Girven.
Recitation, “Music in Camp,” Miss Minnie Hallock.
Song, “We’re Growing Old Together,” Boys’ Quartet.
Recitation, “Widder Budd,” Mrs. Eugene Hill.
Poem, “Days of ’61,” read by the author, J. F. Reed.

The address was by Rev. B. E. Allen, pastor of the church at Osceola, and was patriotic and to the point. Mr. Allen has lived about 14 years in the South.

Besides a free and eloquent delivery, he was well fitted for the place he was called to fill, giving his audience a clear insight of the feeling both north and south.

The program was closed by prayer by Rev. Slyter.

The officers who were elected for the coming year are as follows:

President, I. M. Spencer.
Vice President, George Dugan.
Secretary and treasurer, Robert Fell.

Place of next meeting, at the home of G. W. Reid, Bradford.

The Officers constitute the executive committee.

And thus passes another milestone. Of our small number, Thomas Oziah and C. H. Drury have crossed the river and mustered with the comrades on the other shore, since last year. The boys in blue are rapidly fading away.

Since the reunion I have received letters from Asa Clark, Long Beach Calif., and Mrs. James Cinnamon, Davenport, Iowa.

ROBERT FELL, Secretary.

SOURCE: The Stark County News, Toulon, Stark County, Illinois, Wednesday, September 23, 1908, p. 1

Saturday, April 10, 2021


Members of Co. B. 19th Ill., Meet in Reunion at Home of George Dugan, in Ladoga, Iowa.

The Annual reunion of Co. B, 19th Illinois Infantry, was held at the home of George Dugan, at Ladoga, Iowa, on October 4,1900.

Only a few soldiers out of the company where present and they were as follows: Capt. A. Murchison and wife, of Kewanee, Ill.; James Montooth, Toulon, Ill.; Dr. J. G. Boardman, Bradford, Ill., John T. Thornton, Farragut, Ia.; Alonzo Luce, Murray, Ia.; Robert Turnbull, Cain Ia.; R. T. Scott, Pawnee City, Neb., and George Dugan, Ladoga, Ia.

The G. A. R. post, of Bedford Ia., conveyed them to Mr. Dugan’s home, where they soon met his family and neighbors.  There were seventy in number who ate a picnic dinner, and a general good time was enjoyed by all.

After the dinner hour was closed the old soldiers had their regular routine of business, and then proceeded to entertain their friends.  Some old time songs of the sixties were sung and appreciated by all.

The next reunion will be their 40th anniversary and will be held in in the church yard at Osceola, Ill., where they started with a full company to the war on June 11, 1861.

At present there are only about forty-five members of the company living, and about one hundred dead with the recruits they had during the war.

Mr. and Mrs. E. A. Trimmer, of Corning Ia., were present and enjoyed a visit with old time friends.

We trust that more of the members will be able to meet together next year.

SOURCE: The Stark County News, Toulon, Stark County, Illinois, Friday, October 12, 1900, p. 1

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: March 21, 1864

Although cloudy, there was ice this morning, and cold all day.

Yesterday another thousand prisoners were brought up by the flag of truce boat. A large company of both sexes welcomed them in the Capitol Square, whither some baskets of food were sent by those who had some patriotism with their abundance. The President made them a comforting speech, alluding to their toils, bravery, and sufferings in captivity; and promised them, after a brief respite, that they should be in the field again.

The following conversation took place yesterday between the President and "some young ladies of his acquaintance, with whom he promenaded:

Miss. —Do you think they will like to return to the field?

President.—It may seem hard; but even those boys (pointing to some youths around the monument twelve or fourteen years old) will have their trial.

Miss. —But how shall the army be fed?

President.—I don’t see why rats, if fat, are not as good as squirrels. Our men did eat mule meat at Wicksburg; but it would be an expensive luxury now.

After this, the President fell into a grave mood, and some remark about recognition caused him to say twice—“We have no friends abroad!’”

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 174-5