Showing posts with label Alcohol. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alcohol. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Diary of Gideon Welles: Tuesday, July 19, 1864

 At the Cabinet-meeting to-day, the President brought forward specially the riot in Coles County, Illinois, and the controversy between Governor Peirpoint and General Butler, with especial reference in the latter case to affairs at Norfolk, where the military authorities have submitted a vote to the inhabitants whether they will be governed by martial law. Of course the friends of civil administration, who denied the validity of the whole proceeding, would not vote, and the military had it all as they pleased. This exhibition of popular sovereignty destroying itself pleases Butler. He claims to have found large quantities of whiskey, which he seized and sold. But all the whiskey in Norfolk is there under permits issued by himself. While Butler has talents and capacity, he is not to be trusted. The more I see of him, the greater is my distrust of his integrity. All whiskey carried to Norfolk is in violation of the blockade.

Mr. Ericsson and the newspapers are discussing the monitors. He is honest and intelligent, though too enthusiastic, and claiming too much for his invention, but the newspapers are dishonest and ignorant in their statements, and their whole purpose is to assail the Department. But the system will vindicate itself. There have been errors and mistakes in the light-class monitors. I trusted too much to Fox and Stimers, and am therefore not blameless. But I was deceived, without its being intended perhaps, supposing that Ericsson and Lenthall had a supervision of them until considerable progress had been made towards their completion. I confided in Fox, who was giving these vessels special attention, and he confided in Stimers without my being aware that he was giving him the exclusive management of them. Fox and Lenthall were daily together, and I had not a doubt that much of the consultation was in regard to them, until, becoming concerned from what I heard, I questioned Lenthall direct, when he disclaimed all responsibility and almost all knowledge of them. I then inquired clearly and earnestly of Fox, who placed the whole blame on Stimers. The latter, I heard, had quarrelled with Ericsson and had been carrying forward the construction of these vessels, reporting and consulting with no one but Fox and Admiral Gregory.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 81-2

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Captain Charles Wright Wills: November 29, 1864

Ten miles south of Sevastopol, 
November 29, 1864. 

All day in an awful pine forest, hardly broken by fence or clearing. I never saw such a lonesome place. Not a bird, not a sign of animal life, but the shrill notes of the tree frog. Not a twig of undergrowth, and no vegetable life but just grass and pitch pine. The country is very level and a sand bed. The pine trees are so thick on the ground that in some places we passed to-day the sight was walled in by pine trunks within 600 yards for nearly the whole circle. Just at dusk we passed a small farm, where I saw growing, for the first time, the West India sugar cane. One of the boys killed the prettiest snake I ever saw. It was red, yellow and black. Our hospital steward put it in liquor. We made about 11 miles to-day. 

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 328

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: March 21, 1862

I AM INTERVIEWED.

Passing along Pollock, above Middle street, today, I was accosted by a man who was sitting on the veranda of his house and invited to come in, as he wished a talk with me. Noticing that he was a smart-looking, well-dressed, gentlemanly appearing man, and withal an M. D., according to his sign, I was nothing loth to gratify his whim. As I stepped up on the veranda, he invited me to be seated. After a little commonplace talk, he began to inquire about our troops, their number and where they were from. I told him only a few of our troops had landed, that the river and sound were black with them in case they should be needed, and nearly all of them were from New England. He said our capture of the city was wholly unexpected, and at the last moment nearly all the better class of citizens left, leaving their houses and property as we found them. He said in that he thought they had made a great mistake, as he regarded Gen. Burnside as an honorable, high-toned gentleman, who would have dealt fairly with them, if they had remained and taken their chances, and would have allowed them to go whenever they wished. I replied I didn't know how that would have been, but I thought they had made another mistake in burning the railroad bridge and trying to burn the town. In doing as they have, they have shown that they had no regard for their property and they certainly cannot expect us to have much for it, although we have shown some in putting out the fires and saving it.

“Yes, I know,” he said, “but perhaps they thought they would show your people that they were willing to sacrifice their property and make a Moscow of it rather than let it fall into your hands.” “Well, sir,” said I, “in that they made another mistake, for if they had succeeded in burning it, it would have been no Moscow; we should have staid here just the same. Unlike Napoleon, we do not need the town; we care nothing for it; it is the position we want.”

“But you seem to occupy it?”

“Certainly we do, there is no one else to occupy it, and we may as well use it as not.”

“Do you propose to have us vacate our premises for your use?”

“Really, sir, I am not in the secrets of the general, but I presume that you and all others will be protected in your persons and property, so long as you remain loyal and show no opposition to the government.”

“Yes, sir, I supposed it would be something that way. What do you propose doing with that cotton down on the wharf.”

“That cotton belonged to the Confederate government, or at least they were using it against the Federal government, and like other government property it becomes the spoils of war, and some fine morning you will see it going down the river bound for some northern manufacturing city. After a few weeks it will be back here again in the form of tents for the use of the army.”

“Then you intend making this a permanent garrison?”

“We intend to hold this position just as long as it is of any use to us.”

“How long do you think this war will continue?”

“As things look now, I don't think it can possibly hold more than a year longer, if it does so long.”

“Then you think in that time you can subjugate our people?”

“Well, sir, my opinion is that in less than eighteen months, every armed Confederate, unless he sooner surrenders, will be driven into the Gulf of Mexico.”

“You seem to be very sanguine in your opinion, sir; but then we all have our opinions, and I think after a year you will find you have made but little progress. I would like to ask for how long you have enlisted?”

“I have enlisted for three years, unless the job is sooner finished.”

“Well, sir, if nothing serious happens to you (which I really. hope there will not), you will serve your three years, and then, unless your people give it up, you can again enlist, for I can assure you that our people will never give it up.”

“You think then, that with all the odds against you, you will finally succeed?”

“I certainly do; you see you Yankees are going to tire of this thing after a spell; you are not used to roughing it, and will soon weary of the hardships and privations of a soldier's life. You Yankees had much rather be spinning cotton, making shoes, trading, speculating and trying to make money, than following the occupation of a soldier.”

“For a choice, there are probably very few of us who would select the occupation of a soldier, but you mistake the Yankee character entirely, if you think, having undertaken anything, they tire of it very easily. That was not the class of men they sprung from. They were an enterprising, untiring class of men; if they had not been, they would never have settled down among the rocks and hills of bleak New England and made of it the richest, most intelligent and powerful little piece of territory the sun shines on. But, my friend, as all things earthly have an end, this will probably prove no exception, and in the end, your people will find that they have got the least value received for the money paid out of any speculation they ever engaged in, and will still find themselves a part and parcel of the United States, subject to all the rules and conditions of the government, in common with the rest of the states.”

After some further talk about state rights and state sovereignty, in which we could not agree, he invited me into his house. Here, like a true Southern gentleman, he entertained and extended hospitalities right royally, and I think we must have sampled his best bottle. He told me it was six years old, and from a silver goblet, I sipped the best native wine I ever tasted; it was rich, mellow and fruity. He said it was made from a choice variety of grape called the Scupperuong. It was really a splendid native wine, as so it appeared to me. After some more small talk, I bade my new found friend good day, and took my leave.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 49-51

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: March 15, 1862

The boys came out this morning, looking a little the worse for wear, lame, sore and stiff; but with a good bumper of whiskey to lubricate their stiffened joints, and a little stirring around to take the kinks out of their legs, a good breakfast, hot coffee, etc., they soon resumed their normal condition. There is not much doing today except lying around in quarters or looking over the town. Negroes are coming in by the hundred, and the city is full of soldiers and marines traveling about and having things pretty much their own way. Guards are sent out to patrol the streets and assist Capt. Dan, the provost marshal, in preserving order preparatory to putting on a provost guard and bringing the city under law and order. Some enterprising party has hoisted the old flag on the spire of the church on Pollock street. There let it proudly wave; let it catch the first beams of the morning, and let the last rays of the setting sun linger and play amid its folds; let it gladden the hearts of every lover of liberty and loyalty, and let it be a notice to these deluded and ill-advised people around here, that it will never again give place to their traitorous rag of secession.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 46-7

Monday, August 24, 2020

Captain Charles Wright Wills: November 18, 1864

November 18, 1864.

We got here at noon but will wait until to-morrow, I understand, for the 3d and 4th Divisions to lay a pontoon bridge across the Ocmulgee river. This has been a summer resort of some note. From 800 to 1,000 people congregate here. The spring is a little stream of water not larger than your finger, which runs from the rock at the rate of a gallon a minute. It is sulphur water with some other ingredient that gives it a very disagreeable ordor. This is quite a romantic place. Foraged some peach brandy, which was destroyed.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 321

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: June 4, 1863

We move at last. We left camp as the sun rose, reaching our old quarters in front of the rebel Fort Hill in the afternoon. Glad we are to get here. A great change has taken place during our ten days' absence. More rifle-pits have been made and new batteries erected, and our lines generally have been pushed closer to the works of the enemy. Mines are being dug, and we shall soon see something flying in the air in front of us, when those mines explode. The work is being done very secretly, for it would not do to have the rebels find out our plans. Fort Hill in our front and on the Jackson road is said to be the key to Vicksburg. We have tried often to turn this key, but have as often failed. In fact, the lock is not an easy one. The underground work now going on will perhaps break the lock with an explosion. Our return to camp from our excursion after Johnston creates some excitement among those who stayed behind. They all want to hear about our trip, and what we saw and conquered. Our clothes are so dirty and ragged, that though we have sewed and patched, and patched and sewed, Uncle Sam would hardly recognize those nice blue suits he gave us a little while ago. This southern sun pours down a powerful heat, which compels us to keep as quiet as possible. Just a month from today we celebrate our Fourth of July-where, I do not know, but inside of Vicksburg, I hope.

I have asked both officers and men to write in an album I have opened since reaching our old post near the city, and here are a few of their contributions:

Friend O.: Here is hoping we may see the stars and stripes float over the court house in Vicksburg on the Fourth of July, and also that we may see this rebellion, in which so many of our comrades have fallen, come to an end, while we live on to enjoy a peace secured by our arms. Then hurrah for the Buckeye girls. Your sincere friend,

“HENRY H. Fulton,
" Company E, 20th Ohio.”

“Here is hoping we may have the pleasure of zweiglass of lager in Vicksburg, on July 4th.

“D. M. COOPER,
“ Company A, 96th Ohio.”

I hope we shall be able to spend the coming Fourth in the famous city before us, and to have a glorification there over our victories.

“SQUIRE McKEE,
“Company E, 20th Ohio.”

“Here is hoping that by the glorious Fourth, and by the force of our arms, we shall penetrate their boasted Gibraltar.

“T. B. LEGGETT,
“Company E, 20th Ohio.”

“I offer you this toast: Though you have seen many hardships, let me congratulate you on arriving safely so near Vicksburg. May the besieged city fall in time for you and all our boys to take a glass of lager on the Fourth of July; and may the boys of the Twentieth be the first to taste the article they have duly won.

“D. B. LINSTEAD,
“Company G, 20th Ohio.”

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 43-5

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Major John A. Rawlins to Major-General Ulysses S. Grant, June 6, 1863

Before VicksBURG, Miss., June 6th, 1863, 1 A. M.
DEAR GENERAL:

The great solicitude I feel for the safety of this army leads me to mention, what I had hoped never again to do, the subject of your drinking. This may surprise you, for I may be, and trust I am, doing you an injustice by unfounded suspicion, but if in error, it had better be on the side of the country's safety than in fear of offending a friend.

I have heard that Dr. McMillan at General Sherman's a few days ago induced you, notwithstanding your pledge to me, to take a glass of wine, and to-day when I found a box of wine in front of your tent, and proposed to move it, which I did, I was told you had forbid its being taken away, for you intended to keep it until you entered Vicksburg, that you might have it for your friends; and to-night, when you should, because of the condition of your health, if nothing else, have been in bed, I find you where the wine bottle has just been emptied, in company with those who drink and urge you to do likewise; and the lack of your usual promptness and decision, and clearness of expressing yourself in writing, conduces to confirm my suspicion.

You have the full control over your appetite, and can let drinking alone. Had you not pledged me the sincerity of your honor early last March, that you would drink no more during the war, and kept that pledge during your recent campaign, you would not to-day have stood first in the world's history as a successful military leader. Your only salvation depends upon your strict adherence to that pledge. You cannot succeed in any other Way. . . .

As I have before stated, I may be wrong in my suspicions, but if one sees that which leads him to suppose a sentinel is falling asleep on his post, it is his duty to arouse him; and if one sees that which leads him to fear the General commanding a great army is being seduced to that step which he knows will bring disgrace upon that General and defeat upon his command, if he fails to sound the proper note of warning, the friends, wives and children of those brave men whose lives he permits to remain thus in peril, will accuse him while he lives, and stand swift witnesses of wrath against him in the day when all shall be tried.

If my suspicions are unfounded, let my friendship for you and my zeal for my country be my excuse for this letter; and if they are correctly founded, and you determine not to heed the admonitions and prayers of this hasty note, by immediately ceasing to touch a single drop of any kind of liquor, no matter by whom asked or under what circumstances, let my immediate relief from duty in this department be the result. I am, General,

Yours respectfully,
JoHN A. RAwlins.

SOURCE: James Harrison Wilson, The Life of John A. Rawlins, p. 128-9

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Major-General William F. Smith to Senator Solomon Foot, July 30, 1864

College Point, L. I., July 30, 1864.
Hon. S. Foot:

Dear Senator: — I am extremely anxious that my friends in my native State should not think that the reasons of General Grant relieving me from duty was brought about by any misconduct of mine, and, therefore, I write to put you in possession of such facts in the case as I am aware of, and think will throw light upon the subject.

About the very last of June or the first of July, Generals Grant and Butler came to my headquarters and shortly after their arrival, General Grant turned to General Butler, and said: “That drink of whiskey I took has done me good,” and then directly afterwards asked me for a drink. My servant opened a bottle for him and he drank of it, when the bottle was corked up and put away. I was aware at this time that General Grant had within six months pledged himself to drink nothing intoxicating, but did not feel it would better matters to decline to give it upon his request in General Butler's presence.

After the lapse of an hour or less the general asked me for another drink, which he took. Shortly after his voice showed plainly that the liquor had affected him and after a little time he left. I went to see him upon his horse, and as I returned to my tent, I said to a staff officer of mine, who had witnessed his departure: “General Grant has gone away drunk; General Butler has seen it and will never fail to use the weapon which has been put into his hands.” Two or three days after that I applied for a leave of absence for the benefit of my health, and General Grant sent word to me not to go, if it were possible to stay, and I replied, in a private note, warranted by our former relations, a copy of which note I will send you in a few days. The next day the Assistant Secretary of War (Mr. Dana) came to tell me that he had been sent by General Grant to say what it becomes necessary to repeat in view of subsequent events, to wit: That he, General G., had written a letter the day before to ask that General Butler might be relieved from that department July 2, and I placed in command of it, giving as a reason that he could not trust General Butler with the command of troops in the movements about to be made, and saying also that next to General Sherman he had more confidence in my ability than in that of any general in the field. The order1 from Washington dated July 7, sent General B. to Fortress Monroe, and placed me in command of the troops, then under him, and General Grant said he would make the changes necessary to give me the troops in the field belonging to that department. I had only asked that I should not be commanded in battle by a man that could not give an order on the field, and I had recommended General Franklin or General Wright for the command of the department. I was at the headquarters of General Grant on Sunday, July 10, and there saw General B., but had no conversation with him. After General B. had left, I had a confidential conversation with General Grant about changes he was going to make. In this connection it is proper to state that our personal relations were of the most friendly character. He had listened to and acted upon suggestions made by me upon more than one important occasion. I then thought and still think (whatever General Butler's letter writers may say to the contrary) that he knew that any suggestion I might make for his consideration would be dictated solely by an intense desire to put down this Rebellion, and not from any personal considerations personal to myself, and that no personal friendships had stood in the way of what I considered my duty with regard to military management, a course not likely to be pursued by a man ambitious of advancement. In this confidential conversation with General Grant, I tried to show him the blunders of the late campaign of the Army of the Potomac and the terrible waste of life that had resulted from what I considered a want of generalship in its present commander. Among other instances I referred to the fearful slaughter at Cold Harbor, on the 3d of June. General Grant went into the discussion defending General Meade stoutly, but finally acknowledged, to use his own words, “that there had been a butchery at Cold Harbor, but that he had said nothing about it because it could do no good.” Not a word was said as to my right to criticise General Meade then, and I left without a suspicion that General Grant had taken it in any other way than it was meant, and I do not think he did misunderstand me.

On my return from a short leave of absence on the 19th of July, General Grant sent for me, to report to him, and then told me that he “could not relieve General Butler,” and that as I had so severely criticised General Meade he had determined to relieve me from the command of the Eighteenth Corps and order me to New York City to await orders. The next morning the general gave some other reason, such as an article in the Tribune reflecting on General Hancock, which I had nothing in the world to do with, and two letters which I had written before the campaign began to two of General Grant's most devoted friends, urging upon them to try and prevent him from making the campaign he had just made. These letters, sent to General Grant's nearest friends, and intended for his eye, necessarily sprang from an earnest desire to serve the man upon whom the country had been depending, and these warnings ought to have been my highest justification in his opinion and, indeed, would have been, but that it had become necessary to make out a case against me. All these matters, moreover, were known to the general before he asked that I might be put in command of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina, and, therefore, they formed no excuse for relieving me from the command I held. I also submit to you that if it had been proven to him that I was unfitted for the command I then held, that that in no wise changed the case with reference to General Butler and his incompetency, and did not furnish a reason why he should not go where the President had ordered him at the request of General Grant, and that as General Grant did immediately after an interview with General Butler suspend the order and announce his intention of relieving me from duty there, other reasons must be sought, different from any assigned, for this sudden change of views and action. Since I have been in New York, I have heard from two different sources (one being from General Grant's headquarters and one a staff officer of a general on intimate official relations with General Butler) that General Butler went to General Grant and threatened to expose his intoxication if the order was not revoked. I also learned that General Butler had threatened to make public something that would prevent the President's re-election. General Grant told me (when I asked him about General Butler's threat of crushing me) that he had heard that General Butler had made some threat with reference to the Chicago convention, which he (Butler) said “he had in his breeches pocket,” but General Grant was not clear in expressing what the threat was. I refer to this simply because I feel convinced that the change was not made for any of the reasons that have been assigned, and whether General Butler has threatened General Grant with his opposition to Mr. Lincoln at the coming election, or has appealed to any political aspirations which General Grant may entertain, I do not know, but one thing is certain, I was not guilty of any acts of insubordination between my appointment and my suspension, for I was absent all those days on leave of absence from General Grant. I only hope this long story will not tire you, and that it will convince you that I have done nothing to deserve a loss of the confidence which was reposed in me.

Yours very truly,
Wm. F. Smith,            
Major-General.

P. S. I have not referred to the state of things existing at headquarters when I left, and to the fact that General Grant was then in the habit of getting liquor in a surreptitious manner, because it was not relevant to my case; but if you think at any time the matter may be of importance to the country I will give it to you. Should you wish to write to me, please address care of S. E. Lyon, Jauncy Court, 39 Wall Street, N. Y.

Wm. F. S.
_______________

1 This order was approved by the President in General Order No. 36, adjutant-general’s office, July 28, 1864.

SOURCE: Benjamin F. Butler, Autobiography and Personal Reminiscences of Major-General Benj. F. Butler, p. 1088-90

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

A Story For Mr. Bates.

One day when Mr. Bates was remonstrating with Mr. Lincoln against the appointment of some indifferent lawyer to a place of judicial importance, the President interposed with, “Come, now, Bates, he’s not half so bad as you think.  Besides that, I must tell you, he did me a good turn long ago.  When I took to the law, I was going to court one morning, with some ten or twelve miles of bad road before me, and I had no horse.  The Judge overtook me in his wagon.  ‘Hello, Lincoln, are you not going to the court house? Come in, and I’ll give you a seat.’  Well, I got in, and the Judge went on reading his papers.  Presently the wagon struck a stump on one side of the road; then it hopped off to the other  I looked out, and I saw the driver was jerking from side to side in his seat; so, says I, ‘Judge, I think your coachman has been taking a little drop too much this morning.’  ‘Well, I declare, Lincoln,’ said he, ‘I should not much wonder if you are right, for he has nearly upset me half a dozen times since starting.’  So putting his head out of the window, he shouted, ‘Why, you infernal scoundrel, you are drunk!’  Upon which pulling up his horses and turning round with great gravity, the coachman said, ‘By gorra! That’s the first rightful decision you have given for the last twelvemonth.”

SOURCE: New York Daily Herald, New York, New York, Friday, February 19, 1864, p. 5, and copied from the New York Evening Post, New York, New York, Wednesday, February 17, 1864.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: January 22, 1862

HUNTING A CHANNEL.

The light-draught boats are engaged in finding and making a channel across the bar, or swash as it is called, of sufficient depth of water to enable the large steamers to cross into the sound. One great trouble about that is if they find one today it will all be filled up tomorrow. We shall have to wait till calmer weather before we can cross.

RATIONS.

A schooner came alongside today and left us rations of steamed pork, hardtack and condensed sea water. This was a very timely arrival as we have been very short of water for two or three days and pretty much everything else. Rattlesnake pork will taste pretty good again after a few days’ fast. Condensed sea water is rather a disagreeable beverage, but still is a little ahead of no water at all. I think, however, it might be made palatable by adding about nine parts whiskey to one of water. This water and pork is all manufactured here on the spot. They have a sort of rendering establishment where they make it, but I cannot believe that the pork would take a premium in any fair in the country unless it was for meanness.

A RIPPLE OF EXCITEMENT.

Another rebel steamer came down the sound to-day to take a look at us and see how we are getting along. One of our boats gave chase and I reckon got a shot at her, as we heard reports of artillery. Those fellows are just smart enough to keep out of our way, I hope they will always be so, I have no great desire to shoot the cusses, but still if they get in my way, and I think they ought to be shot. I suppose I shall do it.

The theatre up in the saloon is a great success. They have just got out a new play, a kind of burlesque, entitled the Rasper Brothers, and large posters are sent over the boat announcing the unprecedented success of the Rasper Brothers: playing nightly to crowded houses and hundreds turned away; none should fail of witnessing this highly moral drama.

OLD DAN.

Old Dan is having a terrible fit of the blues. He cannot understand why we were sent to this God-forsaken place. I tell him that God has not forsaken it but has sent us here to save it; and Dan, with a big oath, swore that it was not worth saving. I said to him: “You are seeing it at its worst. This is a famous watering-place; a great summer resort.” He thinks it might do first-rate for a watering place; but cannot conceive of anyone who would want to resort here. He thinks the greatest mistake he has made in this whole business was in not running away as I advised him to, while at Annapolis.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 25-6

Monday, March 2, 2020

Captain John A. Rawlins to Congressman Elihu B. Washburne, December 30, 1861

Headquarters, District of Cairo,        
December 30, 1861.
DEAR WASHBURNE:

Yours of the 21st is at hand. I was no less astounded at the contents of your note than you must have been at the information reported to you.

I thank you for the confidence manifested by you in the frank manner of your inquiry. I feel that you of all other men had the right, as you would feel it your duty, to investigate the charge. I know how much you have done for General Grant and how jealous you are of his good name, and assure you it is appreciated not only by General Grant but by all his friends.

I will answer your inquiry fully and frankly, but first I would say unequivocally and emphatically that the statement that General Grant is drinking very hard is utterly untrue and could have originated only in malice.

When I came to Cairo, General Grant was as he is to-day, a strictly total abstinence man, and I have been informed by those who knew him well, that such has been his habit for the last five or six years.

A few days after I came here a gentleman made him a present of a box of champagne. On one or two occasions he drank a glass of this with his friends, but on neither occasion did he drink enough to in any manner affect him. About this time General Grant was somewhat dyspeptic and his physician advised him to drink two glasses of ale or beer a day. He followed this prescription for about one or two weeks (never exceeding the two glasses per day) and then being satisfied it did him no good, he resumed his total abstinence habits, until some three or four weeks after the Battle of Belmont, while he was rooming at the St. Charles Hotel, Colonel Taylor of Chicago, Mr. Dubois, Auditor of State, and other friends, were visiting Cairo, and he was induced out of compliment to them to drink with them on several occasions but in no instance did he drink enough to manifest it to any one who did not see him drink. About this time Mr. Osborne, President of the Illinois Central Railroad Company, our mutual friend J. M. Douglas, and several of their friends made a visit to Cairo, and gave a dinner (or lunch) on the cars, to which the General and I were invited with others; champagne was part of the fare. Sitting near the General I noticed that he did not drink more than half a glass. The fact of his drinking at all was remarked simply because of his usual total abstinence.

But no man can say that at any time since I have been with him has he drunk liquor enough to in the slightest unfit him for business, or make it manifest in his words or actions. At the time I have referred to, continuing probably a week or ten days, he may have taken an occasional drink with those gentlemen and others visiting Cairo at that time, but never in a single instance to excess, and at the end of that period he voluntarily stated he should not during the continuance of the war again taste liquor of any kind, and for the past three or four weeks, though to my knowledge frequently importuned on visits of friends, he has not tasted any kind of liquor. Ever since I have been with General Grant he has sent his reports in his own handwriting to Saint Louis, daily when there was matter to report, and never less than three times a week, and during the period above referred to he did not at all relax this habit.

If there is any man in the service who has discharged his duties faithfully and fearlessly, who has ever been at his post and guarded the interest confided to him with the utmost vigilance, General Grant has done it. Not only his reports, but all his orders of an important character are written by himself, and I venture here the statement there is not an officer in the Army who discharges the duties of his command so nearly without the intervention of aides, or assistants, as does General Grant.

Some ten or twelve days ago an article was published in the Chicago Tribune, charging frauds on the Quartermaster's Department here, in the purchase of lumber at Chicago. General Grant immediately sent Captain W. S. Hillyer, a member of his staff, to Chicago, with instructions to thoroughly investigate and report the facts. That report and a large mass of testimony substantiating the charge had been forwarded to St. Louis when orders came from Washington to investigate the charge. The investigation had already been made. Thus time and again has he been able to send back the same answer when orders were received from St. Louis in reference to the affairs of this District.

I am satisfied from the confidence and consideration you have manifested in me that my statement is sufficient for you, but should the subject be mooted by other parties, you can refer them to Colonel J. D. Webster, of the 1st Illinois Artillery, General Grant's Chief of Staff, who is well known in Chicago as a man of unquestionable habits. He has been counsellor of the General through this campaign, was with him at and all through the Battle of Belmont, has seen him daily and has had every opportunity to know his habits. I would further refer them to General Van Renssalaer, who was specially sent to inspect the troops and investigate the condition of the District by Major General McClellan, and Generals Sturgiss and Sweeny, who were sent here by Major General Halleck for the same purpose. These gentlemen after a full and thorough investigation returned to St. Louis some two weeks ago. I know not what report they made; but this I do know, that a few days after their return an order arrived from St. Louis creating the District of Cairo, a District including Southeast Missouri, Southern Illinois, and all of Kentucky west of the Cumberland, a District nearly twice as large as General Grant's former command. I would refer them to Flag Officer A. H. Foote of the U. S. Mississippi Naval Fleet, a man whose actions and judgments are regulated by the strictest New England standard, a strict and faithful member of the Congregational Church who for months has had personal as well as official intercourse with the General.

If you could look into General Grant's countenance at this moment you would want no other assurance of his sobriety. He is in perfect health, and his eye and intellect are as clear and active as can be.

That General Grant has enemies no one could doubt, who knows how much effort he has made to guard against and ferret out frauds in his district, but I do not believe there is a single colonel or brigadier general in his command who does not desire his promotion, or at least to see him the commanding general of a large division of the army, in its advance down the Mississippi when that movement is made.

Some weeks ago one of those irresponsible rumors was set afloat, that General Grant was to be removed from the command of the District, and there was a universal protest expressed against it by both officers and men.

I have one thing more to say, and I have done, this already long letter.

None can feel a greater interest in General Grant than I do; I regard his interest as my interest, all that concerns his reputation concerns me; I love him as a father; I respect him because I have studied him well, and the more I know him the more I respect and love him.

Knowing the truth I am willing to trust my hopes of the future upon his bravery and temperate habits. Have no fears; General Grant by bad habits or conduct will never disgrace himself or you, whom he knows and feels to be his best and warmest friend (whose unexpected kindness toward him he will never forget and hopes some time to be able to repay). But I say to you frankly, and I pledge you my word for it, that should General Grant at any time become an intemperate man or an habitual drunkard, I will notify you immediately, will ask to be removed from duty on his staff (kind as he has been to me), or resign my commission. For while there are times when I would gladly throw the mantle of charity over the faults of friends, at this time and from a man in his position I would rather tear the mantle off and expose the deformity.

Having made a full statement of all the facts within my knowledge, and being in a position to know them all and I trust done justice to the character of him whom you and I are equally interested in,

I remain, your friend,
John A. Rawlins.

SOURCE: James Harrison Wilson, The Life of John A. Rawlins, p. 68-71

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: January 11, 1862

As I look out on the Old Dominion, the Mother of presidents, statesmen and heroes, my mind is filled with historical reminiscences of its past greatness and glory. Alas! that Virginia, a state that bore such a proud record in the history of our country, a state that has done so much and sacrificed so much to gain our independence and establish our government, should now be sunk in the mire and slough of rebellion.

There is no appearance of leaving here today; many of the officers are going ashore to look around, and the boys are amusing themselves as best they can. Many and various are the speculations and conjectures as to our destination. Some think we are to make an attack on Yorktown, others that Norfolk is the point of attack. Some prophesy that we shall go up the James river, others that we are going far down the coast. I have not bothered myself much about it, but conclude we shall fetch up somewhere. As one looks on “old glory” proudly waving over the frowning battlements of Fortress Monroe and the rip raps, he would naturally conclude that this part of Virginia had not passed the ordinance of secession. Fortress Monroe is built of granite and earthworks, and is calculated, I believe, to mount some 400 or 500 guns. It is the largest and strongest fort on the coast and the only complete work in this country; hence it is called a fortress. The rip raps is an unfinished work, built on an artificial island, and situated about a mile east of Fortress Monroe. When completed, it will be a powerful work, and all vessels going to Norfolk or up the James river will have to pass between the two forts.

Looking west we can see the ruins of Hampton, burned last fall by order of Gen. Magruder. Speaking of Magruder reminds me of an anecdote I have somewhere read of him. While serving in Mexico, he ranked as captain of infantry in the regular army. While there he was in the habit of spreeing it pretty hard, and early one morning, after he had been out on a pretty rough time, his regiment received orders to march. By some strange oversight, the captain failed to replenish his canteen, and in a little while he began to experience an intolerable thirst. In this dilemma he called on one of his privates, whom he supposed might have something, and asked him what he had in his canteen. He was told that it contained a certain kind of Mexican liquor, of which the captain was very fond. After taking a pretty good bumper, he said, “Private Jones, you will hereafter rank as corporal, and be obeyed and respected as such.” After a while, his thirst again coming on, he goes and calls for some more of the liquor. This time he about found the bottom of the canteen, and thanking the corporal for his politeness, said to him, “Corporal Jones, you will hereafter rank as sergeant, and be obeyed and respected as such.” And, as the story went, if the canteen had held out a while longer, private Jones might have ranked as brigadier general.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 19-20

Saturday, October 5, 2019

William T. Sherman to George Mason Graham, January 29, 1860

SEMINARY, Sunday Evening, January 29, 1860.

DEAR GENERAL: I received this p.m. your official letter on the rumor in town that some cadet had gone into a common grog shop and drank liquor. I forthwith embodied it into an order and published it at retreat. I will bear my testimony to the general good behavior of the young men here, and I will not allow my mind to be prejudiced against them by any mere general assertion of any person in Alexandria. I do not believe the report. It may be true, and even if so, I hope we are able to plant the roots of this institution so deep in the soil of truth, honor, knowledge, and science, that it cannot be shaken by the mere clamor of any town. If the men of Alexandria have the interests of us at heart let them deal by us as fair men.

If young men go into saloons, let them convey to me or to you openly, or even confidentially a statement, naming persons, and dates, and not [make] general, blind assertions, intangible, calculated to do mischief, and utterly incapable of good. I know there are some who may elude us, their teachers. We did it when boys, and boys will outwit their masters long after you and I are gone, but I know that generally the conduct of the young gentlemen here, at Alexandria, going and returning, has been as proper and fair as that of any other equal number at West Point or Lexington. I have indirectly satisfied myself of these truths, and shall permit a portion of them each Sunday to go as now under marchers and to return as now for dinner here. I do not expect them to do any thing else than young gentlemen but should any well established case of drinking or rowdyism occur, it shall be punished summarily. But I beg of you to demand of any informer specific facts.

I hear that complaints are made by merchants, apothecaries, booksellers, and hotel-men - even Dutchmen who cannot speak English - damning us because they can't make any money out of us.

I repeat, the young men here, now fifty-one, are generally well behaved, appear well-satisfied, are with a few exceptions progressing in their studies, and I never saw such manifest interest in the drill, we can hardly keep them back. They attend roll calls with great punctuality and we have no complaints of them other than would be naturally expected. They write many letters, the best kind of advertisement, and they can better spread the necessary information of the characteristics of the school than we could do by advertisements, circulars, or letters.

I did intend to send Bragg a copy of your bill,1 but I send the copy herewith to you. Mr. St. Ange will make you another copy, and if necessary you can send this to Bragg. I wrote him fully. I also wrote yesterday to Dr. Smith. I still have many letters of inquiry; all of which I answer fully or by sending an appointment. As you say we must jog along in studies at this irregular term till the legislature determine the exact character of this school and until a new working, practical Board of Control is organized. I hope that will be soon.

I have been out fighting a fire which threatened a fence, and now have a tooth-ache, not calculated to make me cheerful. Sunday to me instead of a day of rest is one of dread, for fear of these very disagreeable rumors which I cannot help. . .

[P.S.] By the way a Mrs. C— brought a son here a few days since, of proper age and appearance and I received him. She said she was in the family of Mr. Chambers, that she did not know the rules, etc., but that as soon as Mr. C— got up from New Orleans, she would send me the money. It is time I should hear from her. Do you know of her? Can you find out, as I had to act on her bare words, she being an utter stranger. The boy is a fine, bright, handsome boy, though not smart. I have notified Mrs. D— that she must send money for her son, and that without it I could [not] procure for him the uniform, about which they are very anxious.

Can you imagine where we could get fifty-five bayonets and scabbards? There are none in the State Arsenal at New Orleans. The U.S. Arsenal at Baton Rouge is under a citizen, else I would make a desperate effort there, promising to pay, unless I could get an order from the Secretary of War. I would not dare approach Mr. Floyd, as Sherman is not a fair sounding name there just now. My aim is to have fifty-five muskets [privates] and five sergeants and corporals, all uniformed early in March.
_______________

1 A bill providing for a more efficient organization of the Seminary. — Ed.

SOURCE: Walter L. Fleming, General W.T. Sherman as College President, p. 128-31

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

George S. Denison to Salmon P. Chase, February 1, 1863

(Private)
New Orleans, February 1st, 1863.

Dear Sir: Everything is quiet on the Mississippi. There have been no military movements. Appearances indicate that something is to be attempted before long, but I do not know what it will be.

Gen. Banks has authorized the raising of the 4th. Reg’t. “Native Guards” (colored) and it is filling up rapidly. The Lieut. Colonel is Mr. Hill, correspondent of the New York Herald. More regiments will be raised, but I do not know how many. Gen. Banks’ policy in regard to the enlistment of negroes, seems to me timorous and hesitating. He might have 50,000 in the service in three months — yes, 100,000 by energetically adopting the proper means.

An army of negroes could be made most formidable. They could be inspired with a religious enthusiasm as terrible and persistent as that of the followers of Mahomet. Such blind impulses, directed by a controlling mind, have accomplished great things. But no prominent man is here shrewd enough to originate, or smart enough to execute such a project. I say again, what I have often said before, that the negroes will fight this war for us, and succeed, if we will use them, and here is the place to commence. Perhaps you are aware that, for various reasons, the negroes of Louisiana are much superior in all respects to those of Virginia and of the other Atlantic States. One hundred and fifty refugees have arrived from Matamoras. I wish to remind you again, of the growing importance of the trade across the Rio Grande. A Confederate agent named Swisher, left Matamoras last June to buy arms in Europe. He has just returned to Matamoras, and three cargoes of arms bought by him in Europe, are expected to arrive shortly in Matamoras — or rather at the mouth of the Rio Grande. How all this can be stopped I explained in my last letter.

There is a person here of the Jewish persuasion — an Israelite indeed — named Dr. Zachary, who is said lately to have been a healer of corns and bunions, in New York. His vest is of flowered velvet — his hair beautifully oiled — and his presence distills continual perfume sweeter than the winds that blow from Araby the blest. In season and out of season, he fails not to announce himself as the Confidential Agent, or Correspondent, of the President. A smart little lawyer, named Shaw, used to write for him his letters from here to the President, which Zachary copied and forwarded as his own. Shaw was on Gen. Hamilton's staff, but has returned to New York. His address is Charles P. Shaw, 111 Broadway. I don't know who writes Zachary's letters now — perhaps he does it himself. Jews take to trade, as ducks to water. Dr. Zachary could not fulfill his mission without the co-operation of one Simon. That co-operation would be imperfect without Simon took a stock of goods to Baton Rouge for sale, in order to conceal the object of Simon's stay at that place. Notwithstanding these representations, and at the risk of impairing the Doctor's efficiency as Government agent, I refused to let the goods go up the River without a written order from Gen. Banks. The result was, that the order was issued. Simon took up to Baton Rouge nearly $20,000 worth of goods (including quantities of spiritous liquors), and Dr. Zachary will probably have no reason to repent the venture.

SOURCE: Diary and correspondence of Salmon P. ChaseAnnual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1902, Vol. 2, p. 352-3

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: November 13, 1863

No news of battles yet. But we have a rumor of the burning of the fine government steamer R. E. Lee, chased by the blockaders. That makes two this week.

Gen. Lee dispatched the President, yesterday, as follows:

“Orange C. H., Nov. 12th. — For the last five days we have only received three pounds of corn per horse, from Richmond, per day. We depend on Richmond for corn. At this rate, the horses will die, and cannot do hard work. The enemy is very active, and we must be prepared for hard work any day. — R. E. Lee.”

On the back of which the President indorsed: "Have the forage sent up in preference to anything else. The necessity is so absolute as to call for every possible exertion.—Jefferson Davis."

Perhaps this may rouse the department. Horses starving in the midst of corn-fields ready for gathering! Alas, what mismanagement!

I cut the following from the Dispatch:

Flour. — We heard yesterday of sales of flour at $110 per barrel. We do not, however, give this as the standard price; for, if the article was in market, we believe that even a higher figure would be reached. A few days since a load of flour was sent to an auction-house on Cary Street to be sold at auction. The proprietors of the house very properly declined to receive it, refusing to dispose of breadstuffs under the hammer, where men of money, and destitute of souls, would have an opportunity of buying it up and withdrawing it from market.

corn-meal. — This article is bringing from $18 to $20 per bushel, and scarce at that.

Country Produce And Vegetables. — We give the following as the wholesale rates: Bacon, hoground, $2.75 to $3; lard, $2.25 to $2.30; butter, $3.75 to $4; eggs, $2 to $2.25; Irish potatoes, $7.50 to $8; sweet potatoes, $10.50 to $12; tallow candles, $4 per pound; salt, 45 cents per pound.

groceries. — Coffee — wholesale, $9 per pound, retail, $10; sugar, $2.85 to $3.25; sorghum molasses, wholesale, $10, and $14 to $15 at retail; rice, 30 to 35 cents.

liquors. — Whisky, $55 to $70 per gallon, according to quality, apple brandy, $50; high proof rum, $50; French brandy, $80 to $100.

"In the city markets fresh meats are worth $1.25 to $1.50 for beef and mutton, and $2 for pork; chickens, $6 to $8 per pair; ducks, $7 to $8 per pair; butter, $4.50 to $5 per pound; sweet potatoes, $2.50 per half peck; Irish potatoes, $2 per half peck.

leather. — Sole leather, $6.50 to $7.50 per pound; upper leather, $7.50 to $8; harness leather, $5.50 to $6; hides are quoted at $2.50 to $2.75 for dry, and $1.50 for salted green; tanners' oil, $4 to $5 per gallon.

tobacco. — Common article, not sound, $1 to $1.25; medium, pounds, dark, $1.30 to $2; good medium bright, $2 to $2.75; fine bright, $2 to $4; sweet 5's and 10's scarce and in demand, with an advance."

My friend Capt. Jackson Warner sent me, to-day, two bushels of meal at government price, $5 per bushel. The price in market is $20. Also nine pounds of good beef, and a shank—for which he charged nothing, it being part of a present to him from a butcher.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 96-7

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

George S. Denison to Salmon P. Chase, December 25, 1862

(Private)
New Orleans, December 25th, 1862.

Dear Sir: The mail has just arrived and I see that, among other charges, Gen. Butler is accused of interfering in various ways with the Custom House, to the great injury of commerce.

Gen. Butler has interfered with the Custom House in four instances, but not more.

1st. He ordered me not to permit the shipment of specie and plate, without his written consent to each shipment. His object was to prevent property liable to confiscation, being removed from the country. The Prussian Bark, “Essex,” had received on board several large cases of silver — and by Gen. Butler's orders, I refused a clearance until these cases were delivered up. They were delivered up, and clearance was then granted.

2nd. Gen. B. took possession of about $2,000. worth of printer's paper in the warehouse, for his official newspaper, “The Delta” —on the ground that it was a military necessity.

3rd. He took possession of forty barrels of brandy (imported two or three years ago) for hospital purposes — as a military necessity.

4th. He took possession of ten bales of blankets for hospital purpose, as a military necessity.

In each of the last three instances, I have his written order to deliver up the articles to the officer presenting the order — and in each he settled, I suppose, with the owners of the articles. Except in the above instances, Gen. Butler has not interfered with the Custom House business. I make this statement for your information.

I send you a paper containing Gen. Butler's farewell address, and Gen. Banks' proclamation concerning the Emancipation Proclamation. Each article explains itself. From appearances, I judge that Gen. Butler intends to join the extreme radicals, as the Democratic papers term the only party which (as it seems to me) appreciates the position. The Texas men are bitterly disappointed that they cannot invade Texas at once, and think great injustice has been done them. It seems to me that the thorough opening of the river is of most consequence just now — after which the whole Southwest falls easily. Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas are pretty well drained of men, but full of corn and cattle. The Rebels would like to retreat thither, but if the river is opened at once, they will be forced back toward, or into, Alabama. With the loss of the Three Southwestern states, the rebels lose one-half their material resources. They could not break through the line of defence (Mississippi River) to recover it. In no other way can the Confederate cause be so much injured, with so little expenditure on the part of the Gov't. of men, time and money. The Arkansas, White and Red Rivers and, in Louisiana, various bayous, enable Gunboats to penetrate in all directions to the heart of the country. Fifty thousand men, together with the Union forces now in Arkansas and at El Paso (Texas), would be fully able to accomplish this in two or three months, after the opening of the river — and provided Emancipation attended the march, success would be absolutely certain. Louisiana is virtually subdued already and wishes herself back in the Union. 1 hope Gen. Banks will adopt some such plan as the above and have told him so. Lest he might mistake my political position, I took the first opportunity to tell him also, what my opinions were, particularly in regard to Slavery.

According to the best information I can get — the rebels have at Vicksburg 12,000 men — at Jackson (and Grenada), 40,000 — & at Port Hudson, 20,000. The men are said to be deserting very fast. Port Hudson is twenty miles above Baton Rouge and is said to be much stronger than Vicksburg. Many believe that to be the point (instead of Vicksburg) where the great fight will be.

Our troops are moving up to Baton Rouge, where perhaps 20,000 have already arrived. All the old (Butler's) regiments will probably be sent up. I should judge that the attack on Port Hudson would take place in about ten days. Gen. Banks is expected to command in person.

Mobile is not fortified with such strength as is represented by Southern accounts. The Rebel gunboats there are of very little account. I have just seen a reliable (white) man who escaped from there five weeks ago. Admiral Farragut can take the place whenever he chooses.

Please do not authorize more officers for the Appraiser's Department, to be sent here from New York. One, Mr. Paulson, appointed by your order, has just arrived. He is one too much. I understand still another is to come. I want to keep down expenses, and this expense is entirely unnecessary. Mr. Sarjeant did wrong in making such representations as he did to you, concerning the want of Examiners here.

SOURCE: Diary and correspondence of Salmon P. ChaseAnnual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1902, Vol. 2, p. 342-4

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Diary of William Howard Russell: July 6, 1861

I breakfasted with Mr. Bigelow this morning, to meet General McDowell, who commands the army of the Potomac, now so soon to move. He came in without an aide-de-camp, and on foot, from his quarters in the city. He is a man about forty years of age, square and powerfully built, but with rather a stout and clumsy figure and limbs, a good head covered with close-cut thick dark hair, small light-blue eyes, short nose, large cheeks and jaw, relieved by an iron-gray tuft somewhat of the French type, and affecting in dress the style of our gallant allies. His manner is frank, simple, and agreeable, and he did not hesitate to speak with great openness of the difficulties he had to contend with, and the imperfection of all the arrangements of the army.

As an officer of the regular army he has a thorough contempt for what he calls “political generals” — the men who use their influence with President and Congress to obtain military rank, which in time of war places them before the public in the front of events, and gives them an appearance of leading in the greatest of all political movements. Nor is General McDowell enamored of volunteers, for he served in Mexico, and has from what he saw there formed rather an unfavorable opinion of their capabilities in the field. He is inclined, however, to hold the Southern troops in too little respect; and he told me that the volunteers from the Slave States, who entered the field full of exultation and boastings, did not make good their words, and that they suffered especially from sickness and disease, in consequence of their disorderly habits and dissipation. His regard for old associations was evinced in many questions he asked me about Beauregard, with whom he had been a student at West Point, where the Confederate commander was noted for his studious and reserved habits, and his excellence in feats of strength and athletic exercises.

As proof of the low standard established in his army, he mentioned that some officers of considerable rank were more than suspected of selling rations, and of illicit connections with sutlers for purposes of pecuniary advantage. The General walked back with me as far as my lodgings, and I observed that not one of the many soldiers he passed in the streets saluted him, though his rank was indicated by his velvet collar and cuffs, and a gold star on the shoulder strap.

Having written some letters, I walked out with Captain Johnson and one of the attachés of the British Legation, to the lawn at the back of the White House, and listened to the excellent band of the United States Marines, playing on a kind of dais under the large flag recently hoisted by the President himself, in the garden. The occasion was marked by rather an ominous event. As the President pulled the halyards and the flag floated aloft, a branch of a tree caught the bunting and tore it, so that a number of the stars and stripes were detached and hung dangling beneath the rest of the flag, half detached from the staff.

I dined at Captain Johnson's lodgings next door to mine. Beneath us was a wine and spirit store, and crowds of officers and men flocked indiscriminately to make their purchases, with a good deal of tumult, which increased as the night came on. Later still, there was a great disturbance in the city. A body of New York Zouaves wrecked some houses of bad repute, in one of which a private of the regiment was murdered early this morning. The cavalry patrols were called out and charged the rioters, who were dispersed with difficulty after resistance in which men on both sides were wounded. There is no police, no provost guard. Soldiers wander about the streets, and beg in the fashion of the mendicant in “Gil Bias” for money to get whiskey. My colored gentleman has been led away by the Saturnalia and has taken to gambling in the camps, which are surrounded by hordes of rascally followers and sutlers' servants, and I find myself on the eve of a campaign, without servant, horse, equipment, or means of transport.

SOURCE: William Howard Russell, My Diary North and South, Vol. 1, p. 389-90

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Gerrit Smith to the callers of the Kansas Convention at Syracuse, New York, May 31, 1856

I wish the convention would go with me in voting slavery to death. But I tell you, gentlemen, with all my heart, that if the convention is not ready to go with me in voting slavery to death, I am ready to go with it in putting slavery to a violent death. . . Concluding that your convention will decide to fight rather than to vote against slavery, I hope it will originate a movement as broad as our whole State, and taxing the courage, energy and liberality of every part of the State. I hope to hear that it has adopted measures to raise one million of dollars and one thousand men. I will not doubt that both can be readily obtained. If they cannot be, then are the people of New York so degenerate and abject as to invite the yoke of slavery on their own necks.

A word in regard to the thousand men. They should not be whiskey drinkers, nor profane swearers. They should have the purity and zeal of Cromwell's armies, and, therefore, would they have the invincibility of those armies.

For myself, I am too old, and too ignorant of arms, to fight. I scarcely know how to load a gun, and I am not certain that I ever saw a Sharpe's rifle, or a revolver, or a bowie knife. I could not have encouraged others to fight, had not slavery invaded the free State of Kansas. Which of the Free States it will next seek to conquer, I cannot conjecture. Hitherto I have opposed the bloody abolition of slavery. But now, when it begins to march its conquering bands into the Free States, I and ten thousand other peace men are not only ready to have it repulsed with violence, but pursued even unto death, with violence. Remember, however, that antislavery voting — real, not sham anti-slavery voting — would have prevented all need of this.

I said that I am unfit to fight. Nevertheless I can do something for the good cause. Some can give to it brave hearts and strong arms, and military skill; others can give to it the power of prayer with Him who shall break in pieces the oppressor; and others can give money to it, — the cheapest indeed, and least meritorious of all the gifts — nevertheless indispensable. I am among those who can help the cause with this poorest of gifts. It is true that my very frequent contributions during the past year in aid of our suffering people in Kansas, have exhausted my current means. Nevertheless, I authorize you to put me down for ten thousand dollars of the million.

SOURCES: Octavius Brooks Frothingham, Gerrit Smith: A Biography, p. 232-3 which states this letter was published in the in the Syracuse Daily Journal, Syracuse, New York, May 31, 1856.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Diary of William Howard Russell: July 4, 1861

When the Senate had adjourned, I drove to the State Department and saw Mr. Seward, who looked much more worn and haggard than when I saw him last, three months ago. He congratulated me on my safe return from the South in time to witness some stirring events. “Well, Mr. Secretary, I am quite sure that, if all the South are of the same mind as those I met in my travels, there will be many battles before they submit to the Federal Government.”

“It is not submission to the Government we want; it is to assent to the principles of the Constitution. When you left Washington we had a few hundred regulars and some hastily-levied militia to defend the national capital, and a battery and a half of artillery under the command of a traitor. The Navy Yard was in the hands of a disloyal officer. We were surrounded by treason. Now we are supported by the loyal States which have come forward in defence of the best Government on the face of the earth, and the unfortunate and desperate men who have commenced this struggle will have to yield or experience the punishment due to their crimes.”

“But, Mr. Seward, has not this great exhibition of strength been attended by some circumstances calculated to inspire apprehension that liberty in the Free States may be impaired; for instance, I hear that I must procure a passport in order to travel through the States and go into the camps in front of Washington.”

“Yes, sir; you must send your passport here from Lord Lyons, with his signature. It will be no good till I have signed it, and then it must be sent to General Scott, as Commander-in-Chief of the United States army, who will subscribe it, after which it will be available for all legitimate purposes. You are not in any way impaired in your liberty by the process.”

“Neither is, one may say, the man who is under surveillance of the police in despotic countries of Europe; he has only to submit to a certain formality, and he is all right; in fact, it is said by some people, that the protection afforded, by a passport is worth all the trouble connected with having it in order.”

Mr. Seward seemed to think it was quite likely. There were corresponding measures taken in the Southern States by the rebels, and it was necessary to have some control over traitors and disloyal persons. “In this contest,” said he, “the Government will not shrink from using all the means which they consider necessary to restore the Union.” It was not my place to remark that such doctrines were exactly identical with all that despotic governments in Europe have advanced as the ground of action in cases of revolt, or with a view to the maintenance of their strong Governments. “The Executive,” said he, “has declared in the inaugural that the rights of the Federal Government shall be fully vindicated. We are dealing with an insurrection within our own country, of our own people, and the Government of Great Britain have thought fit to recognize that insurrection before we were able to bring the strength of the Union to bear against it, by conceding to it the status of belligerent. Although we might justly complain of such an unfriendly act in a manner that might injure the friendly relations between the two countries, we do not desire to give any excuse for foreign interference; although we do not hesitate, in case of necessity, to resist it to the uttermost, we have less to fear from a foreign war than any country in the world. If any European Power provokes a war, we shall not shrink from it. A contest between Great Britain and the United States would wrap the world in fire, and at the end it would not be the United States which would have to lament the results of the conflict.”

I could not but admire the confidence — may I say the coolness? — of the statesman who sat in his modest little room; within the sound of the evening's guns, in a capital menaced by their forces who spoke so fearlessly of war with a Power which could have blotted out the paper blockade of the Southern forts and coast in a few hours, and, in conjunction with, then Southern armies, have repeated the occupation and destruction of the capital.

The President sent for Mr. Seward whilst I was in the State Department, and I walked up Pennsylvania Avenue to my lodgings, through a crowd of men in uniform who were celebrating Independence Day in their own fashion — some by the large internal use of fire-water, others by an external display of fire-works.

Directly opposite my lodgings are the head-quarters of General Mansfield, commanding the district, which are marked by a guard at the door and a couple of six-pounder guns pointing down the street. I called upon the General, but he was busy examining certain inhabitants of Alexandria and of Washington itself, who had been brought before him on the charge of being Secessionists, and I left my card, and proceeded to General Scott's head-quarters, which I found packed with officers. The General received me in a small room, and expressed his gratification at my return, but I saw he was so busy with reports, despatches, and maps, that I did not trespass on his time. I dined with Lord Lyons, and afterwards went with some members of the Legation to visit the camps, situated in the public square.

All the population of Washington had turned out in their best to listen to the military bands, the music of which was rendered nearly inaudible by the constant discharge of fireworks. The camp of the 12th New York presented a very pretty and animated scene. The men liberated from duty were enjoying themselves out and inside their tents, and the sutlers' booths were driving a roaring trade. I was introduced to Colonel Butterfield, commanding the regiment, who was a merchant of New York; but notwithstanding the training of the counting-house, he looked very much like a soldier, and had got his regiment very fairly in hand. In compliance with a desire of Professor Henry, the Colonel had prepared a number of statistical tables in which the nationality, height, weight, breadth of chest, age, and other particulars respecting the men under his command were entered. I looked over the book, and as far as I could judge, but two out of twelve of the soldiers were native-born Americans, the rest being Irish, German, English, and European-born generally. According to the commanding officer they were in the highest state of discipline and obedience. He had given them leave to go out as they pleased for the day, but at tattoo only fourteen men out of one thousand were absent, and some of those had been accounted for by reports that they were incapable of locomotion owing to the hospitality of the citizens.

When I returned to my lodgings, the colored boy whom I had hired at Niagara was absent, and I was told he had not come in since the night before. “These free colored boys,” said my landlord, “are a bad set; now they are worse than ever; the officers of the army are taking them all away from us; it's just the life they like; they get little work, have good pay; but what they like most is robbing and plundering the farmers’ houses over in Virginia; what with Germans, Irish, and free niggers, Lord help the poor Virginians, I say; but they'll give them a turn yet.”

The sounds in Washington to-night might have led one to believe the city was carried by storm. Constant explosion of fire-arms, fireworks, shouting, and cries in the streets, which combined, with the heat and the abominable odors of the undrained houses and mosquitoes, to drive sleep far away.

SOURCE: William Howard Russell, My Diary North and South, Vol. 1, p. 380-3

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Samuel Gridley Howe to Senator Charles Sumner, Thursday Evening, January 10, 1852

Boston, Thursday eve., January 10th, 1852.

My Dear Sumner: — I have a welcome line from you to-day; the first for several days; thanks!

I have been dining (a wonder for me) with Mrs. Ward, when we had Mr. and Mrs. Hare, Emerson, Hillard, &c.

Mrs. Hare makes me feel young again, yet very old. Hare I did not like, mainly however because he spoke not worthily of you — talked of your land speech as a bid for the Presidency!!

Ye Gods, what are we coming to when Charles Sumner is considered by any man with brains in his head as an aspirant for office?

I hope you may cross Felton's path and be brought together in kindness and affection; you would find him changed — sadly — yet your generous catholic nature would find much to dwell upon in his character with regard and esteem.

Our Free-soilers in the State are doing nothing for the cause — nothing. I think some of us outsiders should address them a letter of inquiry as to what they mean to do. I am sure that they need a fillip from somebody.

Can you not mark out some course of policy that they should pursue to forward the great principle of our party?

They are becoming mere politicians, mere office holders. They talk, some of them, of making the Maine liquor law a Shibboleth of our party!

I cannot see my way clear to advocate the enacting of such a law, or any unnecessary sumptuary law. I know that they hold this to be necessary; it seems to me doing wrong that good may come out of it.

Faithfully ever yours,
s. G, H.

SOURCE: Laura E. Richards, Editor, Letters and Journals of Samuel Gridley Howe, Volume 2, p. 360-1