Showing posts with label England. Show all posts
Showing posts with label England. Show all posts

Monday, November 16, 2020

Dr. Seth Rogers to his daughter Dolly, January 27, 1863

January 27, 1863.

I appropriated the mess-room for operations and the officer's berths to receive the wounded. Fortunately we had thought to bring candles along, no others on board. . . . It was not more than one hour before we were busy dressing gun-shot wounds. One man was killed instantly by a ball through the heart and seven were wounded, one of whom will die. Braver men never lived. One man with two bullet holes through the large muscles of the shoulder and neck, brought off from the scene of action, two miles distant, two muskets and not a murmur escaped his lips. Another, Robert Sutton, with three wounds, one on the skull, which may cost him his life, would not report himself till compelled to do so by his officers. While dressing his wounds he quietly talked of what they had done and what they yet can do. Today I have had the Colonel order him to obey me. He is perfectly quiet and cool but takes this whole affair with the religious bravery of a man who realizes that freedom is sweeter than life. Yet another did not report at all, but kept all night on guard and perhaps I should not have known of his having a buck-shot in his shoulder, if some duty requiring a sound shoulder had not been required of him today. The object of our raid was to surprise and capture a company of rebel cavalry pickets, but, as is usual in this war, the enemy seemed to know the secret plan, and we only succeeded in making them skedaddle after a few rounds, and in bringing off five contrabands, a fine piano [for the Beaufort schoolhouse] and divers other things. We also had the satisfaction of burning the plantation house and out-buildings, in accordance with general orders, so they will not screen any more pickets. We steadily send shot and shell over the bluffs to prevent their picking off men from our boat, which is their habit. All this is very exciting and I enjoy it much. I just now volunteered to go up on a bluff and burn a picket house of rendezvous, but I believe the Colonel thinks it is unsafe for his friends to do what he himself is ever ready to do.

We reached St. Mary's before noon. I believe I have before stated that the town was partially burned by the Neptune, yet there were fifty or more houses remaining, including two large churches, a bank, etc. As we approached, the waving of white handkerchiefs began again, by the two maiden ladies (!!) residing in sight of the wharf. All the other houses were uninhabited. The women informed us that they were living entirely alone with their aged mother, that they were “Domingo ladies,” but had not owned slaves since England abolished slavery there.

Their antecedents have been so doubtful that the Colonel thought it best to search their house very carefully in spite of their protestations, and entreaties and talk of honor, etc. etc. permitted to join him and one of the captains in the search and found it very interesting though we discovered no rebels. Of course we had a guard around the house, a guard of such color as greatly to annoy the inmates. They told me that they had not seen pickets at all, and many other things which I knew to be false. But we politely left them, they avowing that they were ladies and thanking us for being gentlemen. As we were about to leave the wharf, bang, bang, bang, went secesh rifles from behind the houses and whistling went the balls over our heads. We were not long in sending shot and shell enough to protect our skirmishers and then the Colonel did what I begged him to do this morning — put nearly all the town in flames, save the house of these women and two or three at the windward of it. I wanted to take the women down to Fernandina and burn every house, but the Colonel thought it best to leave them, so there will still be a screen and sympathy left there for the rebels. But we left an immense fire and I trust the pickets will have to rescue the women from it.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 43, October, 1909—June, 1910: February 1910. p. 350-1

Monday, November 2, 2020

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 20, 1864

 Bright, calm, but still cold—slightly moderating. Roads firm and dusty. Trains of army wagons still go by our house laden with ice.

Brig.-Gen. Wm. Preston has been sent to Mexico, with authority to recognize and treat with the new Emperor Maximilian.

I see, by a letter from Mr. Benjamin, that he is intrusted by the President with the custody of the "secret service " money.

Late papers from the United States show that they have a money panic, and that gold is rising in price. In Lowell not a spindle is turning, and 30,000 operatives are thrown out of employment!

From England we learn that the mass of the population are memorializing government to put an end to the war!

I saw a ham sell to-day for $350; it weighed fifty pounds, at $7 per pound.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 153

Friday, September 25, 2020

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 2, 1864

So lax has become Gen. Winder's rule, or deficient, or worse, the vigilance of his detectives,—the rogues and cut-throats,—one of them keeps a mistress in a house the rent of which is more than his salary, that five Jews, the other day, cleared out in a schooner laden with tobacco, professedly for Petersburg, but sailed directly to the enemy. They had with them some $10,000 in gold; and as they absconded to avoid military service in the Confederate States, no doubt they imparted all the information they could to the enemy.

Mr. Benjamin, Secretary of State, asked the Secretary of War to-day to make such arrangements as would supply the State Department with regular files of Northern papers. They sometimes have in them important diplomatic correspondence, and the perusal of this is about all the Secretary of State has to do.

It is rumored that the Hon. Robert Toombs has been arrested in Georgia for treason. I cannot believe it, but I know he is inimical to the President.

The British papers again seem to sympathise with us.

Senator Orr writes to the Secretary that a resolution of the Senate, asking for copies of Gen. Beauregard's orders in 1862 for the fortification of Vicksburg (he was the first to plan the works which made such a glorious defense), and also a resolution calling for a copy of Gen. B.'s charges against Col. ——, had not been responded to by the President. He asks that these matters may be brought to the President's attention.

The weather is beautiful and spring-like again, and we may soon have some news both from Tennessee and North Carolina. From the latter I hope we shall get some of the meat endangered by the proximity of the enemy.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 140-1

Monday, August 10, 2020

Diary of Gideon Welles: Wednesday, July 6, 1864

Admiral Porter called on me to-day direct from his command. Had a long interview on his affairs.

Received dispatches to-day from Captain Winslow of the Kearsarge relative to sinking the Alabama. Wrote congratulatory letter. There is great rejoicing throughout the country over this success, which is universally and justly conceded a triumph over England as well as over the Rebels. In my first draft, I made a point or two, rather too strong perhaps, against England and the mercenary, piratical spirit of Semmes, who had accumulated chronometers.

While our people generally award me more credit than I deserve in this matter, a malevolent partisan spirit exhibits itself in some, which would find fault with me because this battle did not sooner take place. These assaults disturb me less, perhaps, than they ought; they give me very little uneasiness because I know them to be groundless. Violent attacks have been made upon the Department and myself for the reason that our naval vessels were not efficient, had no speed; but in the account of the battle, the Kearsarge is said, by way of lessening the calamity, to have had greater steaming power than the Alabama, and to have controlled the movement. Our large smooth-bore guns, the Dahlgrens, have been ridiculed and denounced by the enemies of the Navy Department, but the swift destruction of the Alabama is now imputed to the great guns which tore her in pieces.

A summer raid down the valley of the Shenandoah by the Rebels and the capture of Harper’s Ferry are exciting matters, and yet the War Department is disinclined to communicate the facts. Of course, I will not ask. A few words from Stanton about “cursed mistakes of our generals," loss of stores that had been sent forward, bode disaster. General Sigel is beaten and not the man for the command given him, I apprehend. He is always overwhelmed and put on the run. It is represented that the Rebel army is in large force, 30,000 strong, under Ewell. We always have big scares from that quarter and sometimes pretty serious realities. I can hardly suppose Ewell there with such a command without the knowledge of Grant, and I should suppose we would hear of the movement of such a body from other sources. But the military authorities seem not to know of them.

I have sometimes thought that Lee might make a sudden dash in the direction of Washington or above, and inflict great injury before our troops could interfere, or Grant move a column to protect the city. But likely Grant has thought and is prepared for this; yet he displays little strategy or invention.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 67-8

Friday, May 29, 2020

Major-General Benjamin F. Butler to George Coppell, May 11, 1862

New Orleans, May 11, 1862.
Acting as Her Majesty's Consul, New Orleans:

SIR: I have your communication of May 8. With its evasions of facts I have nothing to do. A plain statement of the matter is this:

A number of residents of this city, who were enjoying the protection and advantages of the United States Government in their large trade and property for many years (some of them more than a decade), and now claiming to have been born subjects of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, organized themselves into a military body, known as the "British Guard," and armed, and uniformed, and equipped, patrolled the streets till the fleet of the United States had the city under its guns. This body then, after a discussion in presence of its captain and at least one other officer, at 11 o'clock at night, deliberately voted, in an organized meeting, to send the arms and uniforms of the company to the army of the rebel General Beauregard, which vote was carried into effect by sending to the rebels substantially all the arms, uniforms, and equipments in their armory. This transaction was concealed from me for some days. I then sent for Captain Burrowes and he acknowledged the facts materially as above stated. For this flagrant breach of the laws of nations, of the United States, your Queen's proclamation, and the laws of God, I directed him to order the company to leave the city within twenty-four hours.

To this he objected, saying, among other things, that this would be punishing the innocent with the guilty, as there were some members absent at the time of the vote; that each soldier of the Guard owned his arms and uniform as private property, and it would be hard to compel those to leave the city who still retained their arms and uniforms and did not concur in the vote. I then modified the order, directing those to report to me who still retained their arms and uniforms; all others, having forfeited all rights of neutrality and hospitality, to leave the city within twenty-four hours, or I should have them arrested and sent to Fort Jackson as dangerous and inimical persons. These people thought it of consequence that Beauregard should have sixty more uniforms and rifles. I thought it of the same consequence that he should have sixty more of these faithless men, who may fill them if they choose.

I intended this order to be strictly enforced. I am content for the present to suffer open enemies to remain in the city of their nativity, but law-defying and treacherous alien enemies shall not. I welcome all neutrals and foreigners who have kept aloof from these troubles which have been brought upon the city, and will, to the extent of my power, protect them and their property. They shall have the same hospitable and just treatment they have always received at the hands of the United States Government. They will see, however, for themselves that it is for the interest of all to have the unworthy among them rooted out, because the acts of such bring suspicion upon all. All the facts above set forth can most easily be substantiated, and indeed are so evasively admitted in your note by the very apology made for them. That apology says that these men when they took this action, &c., sent these arms and munitions of war to Beauregard, "did it with no idea of wrong or harm." I do not understand this. Can it be that such men, of age to enroll themselves as a military body, did not know that it is wrong to supply the enemies of the United States with arms? If so, I think they should be absent from the city long enough to learn so much international law; or do you mean to say that, "knowing their social proclivities and the lateness of the hour when the vote was taken," that therefore they were not responsible? There is another difficulty, however, in these people taking any protection under the British flag. The company received a charter or commission, or some form of rebel authorization from the Governor of Louisiana, and one of them whom I have under arrest accompanied him to the rebel camp.

There is still another difficulty, as I am informed and believe, that a majority of them have made declaration of their intentions to become citizens of the United States and of the supposed Confederate States, and have taken the proper and improper oaths of allegiance to effect that purpose.

Thus far you will do me the honor to observe that I have treated your communication as if it emanated from the duly authorized consul of Her Majesty's Government at this port. The respect I feel for that Government leads me to err, if at all, upon the side of recognition of all its claims and those of its officers, but I take leave to call your attention to the fact that you subscribed yourself "Her Britannic Majesty's Acting Consul," and that I have received no official information of any right which you may have so to act, except your acts alone, and pardon me if I err in saying that your acts in that behalf, which have come to my knowledge, have not been of such a character as to induce the belief on my part that you do rightfully represent that noble Government.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

BENJ. F. BUTLER,              
Major-general, Commanding.

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series III, Volume 2 (Serial No. 123), p. 126-7

George Coppell to Major-General Benjamin F. Butler, May 16, 1862

BRITISH CONSULATE,                 
New Orleans, May 16, 1862.
Maj. Gen. B. F. BUTLER,
Commanding Department of the Gulf:

SIR: Having been well assured that a British subject named Samuel Nelson has been by your orders arrested and sent to Fort Jackson without trial or proof of the charges which are said to have induced his arrest, and that evidence could be produced which would satisfactorily prove his innocence in the premises, in accordance with the notification contained in my communication to you of date the 8th instant, I have, acting as Her Britannic Majesty's consul, and in the name of Her Majesty's Government, most solemnly to protest against the arrest and confinement of the said Samuel Nelson in the manner set forth, and against all further and other acts done or to be done in violation of the rights of Her Britannic Majesty's subjects residing in the city of New Orleans.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

GEORGE COPPELL,                       
Her Britannic Majesty's Acting Consul.

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series III, Volume 2 (Serial No. 123), p. 128-9

Major-General Benjamin F. Butler to George Coppell, May 16, 1862

New Orleans, May 16, 1862.
Acting Consul of Her Britannic Majesty, New Orleans:

SIR: Your communication in relation to Samuel Nelson is received. Whenever Samuel Nelson desires a trial he can have it. He is now in Fort Jackson because, amongst other things, he declined an investigation.

Officially, your obedient servant,
BENJ. F. BUTLER,              
Major-General, Commanding.

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series III, Volume 2 (Serial No. 123), p. 129

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Jefferson Davis to the Confederate Congress, May 2, 1864

RICHMOND, May 2, 1864.

You are assembled under circumstances of deep interest to your country, and it is fortunate that, coming as you do newly elected by the people and familiar with the condition of the various localities, you will be the better able to devise measures adapted to meet the wants of the public service without imposing unnecessary burdens on the citizen. The brief period which has elapsed since the last adjournment of Congress has not afforded sufficient opportunity to test the efficacy of the most important laws then enacted, nor have the events occurring in the interval been such as materially to change the state of the country.

The unjust war commenced against us in violation of the rights of the States, and in usurpation of power not delegated to the Government of the United States, is still characterized by the barbarism with which it has heretofore been conducted by the enemy. Aged men, helpless women, and children appeal in vain to the humanity which should be inspired by their condition for immunity from arrest, incarceration, or banishment from their homes. Plunder and devastation of the property of non-combatants, destruction of private dwellings, and even of edifices devoted to the worship of God; expeditions organized for the sole purpose of sacking cities, consigning them to the flames, killing the unarmed inhabitants, and inflicting horrible outrages on women and children, are some of the constantly recurring atrocities of the invader. It cannot reasonably be pretended that such acts conduce to any end which their authors dare avow before the civilized world, and sooner or later Christendom must mete out to them the condemnation which such brutality deserves. The suffering thus ruthlessly inflicted upon the people of the invaded districts has served but to illustrate their patriotism. Entire unanimity and zeal for their country's cause have been pre-eminently conspicuous among those whose sacrifices have been the greatest. So the Army, which has borne the trials and dangers of the war, which has been subjected to privations and disappointments (tests of manly fortitude far more severe than the brief fatigues and perils of actual combat), has been the center of cheerfulness and hope. From the camp comes the voice of the soldier patriots invoking each who is at home, in the sphere he best may fill, to devote his whole energies to the support of a cause in the success of which their confidence has never faltered. They—the veterans of many a hard-fought field—tender to their country, without limit of time, a service of priceless value to us, one which posterity will hold in grateful remembrance.

In considering the state of the country the reflection is naturally suggested that this is the Third Congress of the Confederate States of America. The Provisional Government was formed, its Congress held four sessions, lived its appointed term, and passed away. The permanent Government was then organized, its different departments established, a Congress elected, which also held four sessions, served its full constitutional term, and expired. You, the Second Congress under the permanent Government, are now assembled at the time and place appointed by law for commencing your session. All these events have passed into history, notwithstanding the threat of our prompt subjugation made three years ago by a people that presume to assert a title to govern States whose separate and independent sovereignty was recognized by treaty with France and Great Britain in the last century, and remained unquestioned for nearly three generations. Yet these very governments, in disregard of duty and treaty obligations which bind them to recognize as independent Virginia and other Confederate States, persist in countenancing by moral influence, if not in aiding by unfair and partial action, the claim set up by the Executive of a foreign Government to exercise despotic sway over the States thus recognized, and treat the invasion of them by their former limited and special agent as though it were the attempt of a sovereign to suppress a rebellion against lawful authority. Ungenerous advantage has been taken of our present condition, and our rights have been violated, our vessels of war detained in ports to which they had been invited by proclamations of neutrality, and in one instance our flag also insulted where the sacred right of asylum was supposed to be secure; while one of these governments has contented itself with simply deprecating, by deferential representations, the conduct of our enemy in the constantly recurring instances of his contemptuous disregard of neutral rights and flagrant violations of public law. It may be that foreign governments, like our enemies, have mistaken our desire for peace, unreservedly expressed, for evidence of exhaustion, and have thence inferred the probability of success in the effort to subjugate or exterminate the millions of human beings who, in these States, prefer any fate to submission to their savage assailants. I see no prospect of an early change in the course heretofore pursued by these governments; but when this delusion shall have been dispelled and when our independence by the valor and fortitude of our people shall have been won against all the hostile influences combined against us, and can no longer be ignored by open foes or professed neutrals, this war will have left with its proud memories a record of many wrongs which it may not misbecome us to forgive, some for which we may not properly forbear from demanding redress. In the meantime it is enough for us to know that every avenue of negotiation is closed against us; that our enemy is making renewed and strenuous efforts for our destruction, and that the sole resource for us as a people secure in the justice of our cause and holding our liberties to be more precious than all other earthly possessions, is to combine and apply every available element of power for their defense and preservation.

On the subject of the exchange of prisoners I greatly regret to be unable to give you satisfactory information. The Government of the United States, while persisting in failure to execute the terms of the cartel, make occasional deliveries of prisoners and then suspend action without apparent cause. I confess my inability to comprehend their policy or purpose. The prisoners held by us, in spite of humane care, are perishing from the inevitable effects of imprisonment and the homesickness produced by the hopelessness of release from confinement. The spectacle of their suffering augments our longing desire to relieve from similar trials our own brave men who have spent so many weary months in a cruel and useless imprisonment, endured with heroic constancy. The delivery, after a suspension of some weeks, has just been resumed by the enemy; but as they give no assurance of intent to carry out the cartel, an interruption of the exchange may recur at any moment.

The reports of the departments, herewith submitted, are referred to for full information in relation to the matters appertaining to each. There are two of them on which I deem it necessary to make special remark. The report of the Secretary of the Treasury states facts justifying the conclusion that the law passed at the last session for the purpose of withdrawing from circulation the large excess of Treasury notes heretofore issued has had the desired effect, and that by the 1st of July the amount in circulation will have been reduced to a sum not exceeding $230,000,000. It is believed to be of primary importance that no further issue of notes should take place, and that the use of the credit of the Government should be restricted to the two other modes provided by Congress, viz, the sale of bonds and the issue of certificates bearing interest for the price of supplies purchased within our limits. The law as it now stands authorizes the issue by the Treasury of new notes to the extent of two-thirds of the amount received under its provisions. The estimate of the amount funded under the law is shown to be $300,000,000, and if two-thirds of this sum be reissued we shall have an addition of $200,000,000 to our circulation, believed to be already ample for the business of the country. The addition of this large sum to the volume of the currency would be attended by disastrous effects and would produce the speedy recurrence of the evils from which the funding law has rescued the country. If our arms are crowned with the success which we have so much reason to hope, we may well expect that this war cannot be prolonged beyond the current year, and nothing would so much retard the beneficent influence of peace on all the interests of our country as the existence of a great mass of currency not redeemable in coin. With our vast resources the circulation, if restricted to its present volume, would be easily manageable, and by gradual absorption in payment of public dues would give place to the precious metals, the only basis of a currency adapted to commerce with foreign countries. In our present circumstances I know of no mode of providing for the public wants which would entail sacrifices so great as a fresh issue of Treasury notes, and I trust that you will concur in the propriety of absolutely forbidding any increase of those now in circulation.

Officers have been appointed and dispatched to the trans-Mississippi States and the necessary measures taken for the execution of the laws enacted to obviate delays in administering the Treasury and other Executive Departments in those States, but sufficient time has not elapsed to ascertain the results.

In relation to the most important of all subjects at the present time, the efficiency of our armies in the field, it is gratifying to assure you that the discipline and instruction of the troops have kept pace with the improvement in material and equipment. We have reason to congratulate ourselves on the results of the legislation on this subject, and on the increased administrative energy in the different bureaus of the War Department, and may not unreasonably indulge anticipations of commensurate success in the ensuing campaign.

The organization of reserves is in progress, and it is hoped they will be valuable in affording local protection without requiring details and detachments from active force.

Among the recommendations contained in the report of the Secretary of War, your attention is specially invited to those in which legislation is suggested on the following subjects, viz:

The tenure of office of the general officers in the Provisional Army, and a proper discrimination in the compensation of the different grades.

The provision required in aid of invalid officers who have resigned in consequence of wounds or sickness contracted while in service.

The amendment of the law which deprives officers in the field of the privilege of purchasing rations, and thus adds to their embarrassment, instead of conferring the benefit intended.

The organization of the general staff of the Army, in relation to which a special message will shortly be addressed to you, containing the reasons which compel me to withhold my approval of a bill passed by your predecessors at too late a period of the session to allow time for returning it for their reconsideration.

The necessity for an increase in the allowance now made for the transportation of officers traveling under orders.

The mode of providing officers for the execution of the conscript laws.

The means of securing greater dispatch and more regular administration of justice in examining and disposing of the records of cases reported from the courts-martial and military courts in the Army.

The recent events of the war are highly creditable to our troops, exhibiting energy and vigilance combined with the habitual gallantry which they have taught us to expect on all occasions. We have been cheered by important and valuable successes in Florida, Northern Mississippi, Western Tennessee and Kentucky, Western Louisiana, and Eastern North Carolina, reflecting the highest honor on the skill and conduct of our commanders, and on the incomparable soldiers whom it is their privilege to lead. A naval attack on Mobile was so successfully repulsed at the outer works that the attempt was abandoned, and the nine-months' siege of Charleston has been practically suspended, leaving that noble city and its fortresses imperishable monuments to the skill and fortitude of its defenders. The armies in Northern Georgia and in Northern Virginia still oppose with unshaken front a formidable barrier to the progress of the invader, and our generals, armies, and people are animated by cheerful confidence.

Let us, then, while resolute in devoting all our energies to securing the realization of the bright auspices which encourage us, not forget that our humble and most grateful thanks are due to Him without whose guidance and protecting care all human efforts are of no avail, and to whose interposition are due the manifold successes with which we have been cheered.


SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series IV, Volume 3 (Serial No. 129), p. 365-8

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Major-General William T. Sherman to Salmon P. Chase, August 11, 1862

MEMPHIS, TENN., August 11, 1862.
Hon. S. P. CHASE, Secretary of the Treasury.

SIR: Your letter of August 2d, just received, invites my discussion of the cotton question.

I will write plainly and slowly, because I know you have no time to listen to trifles. This is no trifle; when one nation is at war with another, all the people of the one are enemies of the other; then the rules are plain and easy of understanding. Most unfortunately, the war in which we are now engaged has been complicated with the belief on the one hand that all on the other are not enemies. It would have been better if, at the outset this mistake had not been made, and it is wrong longer to be misled by it. The Government of the United States may now safely proceed on the proper rule that all in the South are enemies of all in the North; and not only are they unfriendly, but all who can procure arms now bear them as organized regiments or as guerrillas. There is not a garrison in Tennessee where a man can go beyond the sight of the flagstaff without being shot or captured. It so happened that these people had cotton, and, whenever they apprehended our large armies would move, they destroyed the cotton in the belief that, of course, we would seize it and convert it to our use. They did not and could not dream that we would pay money for it. It had been condemned to destruction by their own acknowledged government, and was therefore lost to their people; and could have been, without injustice, taken by us and sent away, either as absolute prize of war or for future compensation. But the commercial enterprise of the Jews soon discovered that ten cents would buy a pound of cotton behind our army, that four cents would take it to Boston, where they could receive thirty cents in gold. The bait was too tempting, and it spread like fire when here they discovered that salt, bacon, powder, firearms, percussion caps, etc., were worth as much as gold; and, strange to say, this traffic was not only permitted but encouraged. Before we in the interior could know it hundreds, yea thousands, of barrels of salt and millions of dollars had been disbursed, and I have no doubt that Bragg's army at Tupelo, and Van Dom’s at Vicksburg, received enough salt to make bacon, without which they could not have moved their armies in mass, and from ten to twenty thousand fresh arms and a due supply of cartridges have also been got, I am equally satisfied. As soon as got to Memphis, having seen the effect in the interior, I ordered (only as to my command) that gold, silver, and Treasury notes were contraband of war, and should not go into the interior, where all were hostile. It is idle to talk about Union men here: many want peace, and fear war and its results, but all prefer a Southern, independent government, and are fighting or working for it. Every gold dollar that was spent for cotton was sent to the seaboard to be exchanged for banknotes and Confederate scrip, which will buy goods here and are taken in ordinary transactions. I therefore required cotton to be paid for in such notes, by an obligation to pay at the end of the war, or by a deposit of the price in the hands of a trustee—viz., the United States quartermaster. Under these rules cotton is being obtained about as fast as by any other process, and yet the enemy receives no “aid or comfort.” Under the “gold” rule the country people who had concealed their cotton from the burners, and who openly scorned our greenbacks, were willing enough to take Tennessee money, which will buy their groceries; but now that trade is to be encouraged and gold paid out, I admit that cotton will be sent in by our own open enemies, who can make better use of gold than they can of their hidden bales of cotton.

I may not appreciate the foreign aspect of the question, but my views on this may be ventured. If England ever threatens war because we don't furnish her cotton, tell her plainly if she can't employ and feed her own people to send them here, where they can not only earn an honest living, but soon secure independence by moderate labor. We are not bound to furnish her cotton. She has more reason to fight the South for burning that cotton than us for not shipping it. To aid the South on this ground would be hypocrisy which the world would detect at once. Let her make her ultimatum, and there are enough generous minds in Europe that will counteract in the balance. Of course her motive is to cripple a power that rivals her in commerce and manufactures that threaten even to usurp her history. In twenty more years of prosperity it will require a close calculation to determine whether England, her laws and history, claim for a home the continent of America or the isle of Britain. Therefore, finding us in a death struggle for existence, she seems to seek a quarrel to destroy both parts in detail.

Southern people know this full well, and will only accept the alliance of England in order to get arms and manufactures in exchange for their cotton. The Southern Confederacy will accept no other mediation, because she knows full well that in old England her slaves and slavery will receive no more encouragement than in New England.

France certainly does not need our cotton enough to disturb her equilibrium, and her mediation would be entitled to a more respectful consideration than on the part of her present ally. But I feel assured the French will not encourage rebellion and secession anywhere as a political doctrine. Certainly all the German states must be our ardent friends, and, in case of European intervention, they could not be kept down.

With great respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

SOURCES: William T. Sherman, Memoirs of General William T. Sherman, by Himself, Volume 1, p. 266-8; Manning F. Force, General Sherman, 92-4.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Diary of Gideon Welles: Tuesday, May 31, 1864

No special matters in Cabinet. Mr. Seward sent me on Saturday a correspondence between himself and Lord Lyons and the Treasury Department relative to a large amount of cotton which was purchased a few months since in Georgia by one John Mulholland, an Englishman, who desires to bring it out, or, if he could not do that, to have it protected. The Secretary of State wrote the Secretary of the Treasury for views. The Treasury thought the proposition to bring it out inadmissible, but when our military lines were so extended as to include this cotton the agents of the Treasury would give it the same care as the property of loyal citizens; thinks it would be well to advise the Navy and War Departments to instruct their officers. Hence the communication to me.

I decline giving any such instructions, and so have written Mr. Seward, considering it illegal as well as inexpedient, telling him it would be a precedent for transferring all the products of the South into foreign hands to pay for munitions of war which we should be bound to protect. None but Englishmen would have the presumption to make such a request. It is entitled to no respect or consideration. Not unlikely it is cotton of the Rebel government covered

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 40

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Major-General Patrick R. Cleburne et al. to General Joseph E. Johnston and the Division, Brigade and Regimental Commanders of the Army of Tennessee, January 2, 1864

[JANUARY 2, 1864.]


GENERAL: Moved by the exigency in which our country is now placed, we take the liberty of laying before you, unofficially, our views on the present state of affairs. The subject is so grave, and our views so new, we feel it a duty both to you and the cause that before going further we should submit them for your judgment and receive your suggestions in regard to them. We therefore respectfully ask you to give us an expression of your views in the premises. We have now been fighting for nearly three years, have spilled much of our best blood, and lost, consumed, or thrown to the flames an amount of property equal in value to the specie currency of the world. Through some lack in our system the fruits of our struggles and sacrifices have invariably slipped away from us and left us nothing but long lists of dead and mangled. Instead of standing defiantly on the borders of our territory or harassing those of the enemy, we are hemmed in today into less than two-thirds of it, and still the enemy menacingly confronts us at every point with superior forces. Our soldiers can see no end to this state of affairs except in our own exhaustion; hence, instead of rising to the occasion, they are sinking into a fatal apathy, growing weary of hardships and slaughters which promise no results. In this state of things it is easy to understand why there is a growing belief that some black catastrophe is not far ahead of us, and that unless some extraordinary change is soon made in our condition we must overtake it. The consequences of this condition are showing themselves more plainly every day; restlessness of morals spreading everywhere, manifesting itself in the army in a growing disregard for private rights; desertion spreading to a class of soldiers it never dared to tamper with before; military commissions sinking in the estimation of the soldier; our supplies failing; our firesides in ruins. If this state continues much longer we must be subjugated. Every man should endeavor to understand the meaning of subjugation before it is too late. We can give but a faint idea when we say it means the loss of all we now hold most sacred—slaves and all other personal property, lands, homesteads, liberty, justice, safety, pride, manhood. It means that the history of this heroic struggle will be written by the enemy; that our youth will be trained by Northern school teachers; will learn from Northern school books their version of the war; will be impressed by all the influences of history and education to regard our gallant dead as traitors, our maimed veterans as fit objects for derision. It means the crushing of Southern manhood, the hatred of our former slaves, who will, on a spy system, be our secret police. The conqueror's policy is to divide the conquered into factions and stir up animosity among them, and in training an army of negroes the North no doubt holds this thought in perspective. We can see three great causes operating to destroy us: First, the inferiority of our armies to those of the enemy in point of numbers; second, the poverty of our single source of supply in comparison with his several sources; third, the fact that slavery, from being one of our chief sources of strength at the commencement of the war, has now become, in a military point of view, one of our chief sources of weakness.

The enemy already opposes us at every point with superior numbers, and is endeavoring to make the preponderance irresistible. President Davis, in his recent message, says the enemy “has recently ordered a large conscription and made a subsequent call for volunteers, to be followed, if ineffectual, by a still further draft.” In addition, the President of the United States announces that “he has already in training an army of 100,000 negroes as good as any troops,” and every fresh raid he makes and new slice of territory he wrests from us will add to this force. Every soldier in our army already knows and feels our numerical inferiority to the enemy. Want of men in the field has prevented him from reaping the fruits of his victories, and has prevented him from having the furlough he expected after the last reorganization, and when he turns from the wasting armies in the field to look at the source of supply, he finds nothing in the prospect to encourage him. Our single source of supply is that portion of our white men fit for duty and not now in the ranks. The enemy has three sources of supply: First, his own motley population; secondly, our slaves; and thirdly, Europeans whose hearts are fired into a crusade against us by fictitious pictures of the atrocities of slavery, and who meet no hindrance from their Governments in such enterprise, because these Governments are equally antagonistic to the institution. In touching the third cause, the fact that slavery has become a military weakness, we may rouse prejudice and passion, but the time has come when it would be madness not to look at our danger from every point of view, and to probe it to the bottom. Apart from the assistance that home and foreign prejudice against slavery has given to the North, slavery is a source of great strength to the enemy in a purely military point of view, by supplying him with an army from our granaries; but it is our most vulnerable point, a continued embarrassment, and in some respects an insidious weakness. Wherever slavery is once seriously disturbed, whether by the actual presence or the approach of the enemy, or even by a cavalry raid, the whites can no longer with safety to their property openly sympathize with our cause. The fear of their slaves is continually haunting them, and from silence and apprehension many of these soon learn to wish the war stopped on any terms. The next stage is to take the oath to save property, and they become dead to us, if not open enemies. To prevent raids we are forced to scatter our forces, and are not free to move and strike like the enemy; his vulnerable points are carefully selected and fortified depots. Ours are found in every point where there is a slave to set free. All along the lines slavery is comparatively valueless to us for labor, but of great and increasing worth to the enemy for information. It is an omnipresent spy system, pointing out our valuable men to the enemy, revealing our positions, purposes, and resources, and yet acting so safely and secretly that there is no means to guard against it. Even in the heart of our country, where our hold upon this secret espionage is firmest, it waits but the opening fire of the enemy's battle line to wake it, like a torpid serpent, into venomous activity.

In view of the state of affairs what does our country propose to do? In the words of President Davis “no effort must be spared to add largely to our effective force as promptly as possible. The sources of supply are to be found in restoring to the army all who are improperly absent, putting an end to substitution, modifying the exemption law, restricting details, and placing in the ranks such of the able-bodied men now employed as wagoners, nurses, cooks, and other employ√©s, as are doing service for which the negroes may be found competent.” Most of the men improperly absent, together with many of the exempts and men having substitutes, are now without the Confederate lines and cannot be calculated on. If all the exempts capable of bearing arms were enrolled, it will give us the boys below eighteen, the men above forty-five, and those persons who are left at home to meet the wants of the country and the army, but this modification of the exemption law will remove from the fields and manufactories most of the skill that directed agricultural and mechanical labor, and, as stated by the President, “details will have to be made to meet the wants of the country,” thus sending many of the men to be derived from this source back to their homes again. Independently of this, experience proves that striplings and men above conscript age break down and swell the sick lists more than they do the ranks. The portion now in our lines of the class who have substitutes is not on the whole a hopeful element, for the motives that created it must have been stronger than patriotism, and these motives added to what many of them will call breach of faith, will cause some to be not forthcoming, and others to be unwilling and discontented soldiers. The remaining sources mentioned by the President have been so closely pruned in the Army of Tennessee that they will be found not to yield largely. The supply from all these sources, together with what we now have in the field, will exhaust the white race, and though it should greatly exceed expectations and put us on an equality with the enemy, or even give us temporary advantages, still we have no reserve to meet unexpected disaster or to supply a protracted struggle. Like past years, 1864 will diminish our ranks by the casualties of war, and what source of repair is there left us? We therefore see in the recommendations of the President only a temporary expedient, which at the best will leave us twelve months hence in the same predicament we are in now. The President attempts to meet only one of the depressing causes mentioned; for the other two he has proposed no remedy. They remain to generate lack of confidence in our final success, and to keep us moving down hill as heretofore. Adequately to meet the causes which are now threatening ruin to our country, we propose, in addition to a modification of the President's plans, that we retain in service for the war all troops now in service, and that we immediately commence training a large reserve of the most courageous of our slaves, and further that we guarantee freedom within a reasonable time to every slave in the South who shall remain true to the Confederacy in this war. As between the loss of independence and the loss of slavery, we assume that every patriot will freely give up the latter—give up the negro slave rather than be a slave himself. If we are correct in this assumption it only remains to show how this great national sacrifice is, in all human probabilities, to change the current of success and sweep the invader from our country.

Our country has already some friends in England and France, and there are strong motives to induce these nations to recognize and assist us, but they cannot assist us without helping slavery, and to do this would be in conflict with their policy for the last quarter of a century. England has paid hundreds of millions to emancipate her West India slaves and break up the slave trade. Could she now consistently spend her treasure to reinstate slavery in this country? But this barrier once removed, the sympathy and the interests of these and other nations will accord with our own, and we may expect from them both moral support and material aid. One thing is certain, as soon as the great sacrifice to independence is made and known in foreign countries there will be a complete change of front in our favor of the sympathies of the world. This measure will deprive the North of the moral and material aid which it now derives from the bitter prejudices with which foreigners view the institution, and its war, if continued, will henceforth be so despicable in their eyes that the source of recruiting will be dried up. It will leave the enemy's negro army no motive to fight for, and will exhaust the source from which it has been recruited. The idea that it is their special mission to war against slavery has held growing sway over the Northern people for many years, and has at length ripened into an armed and bloody crusade against it. This baleful superstition has so far supplied them with a courage and constancy not their own. It is the most powerful and honestly entertained plank in their war platform. Knock this away and what is left? A bloody ambition for more territory, a pretended veneration for the Union, which one of their own most distinguished orators (Doctor Beecher in his Liverpool speech) openly avowed was only used as a stimulus to stir up the anti-slavery crusade, and lastly the poisonous and selfish interests which are the fungus growth of the war itself. Mankind may fancy it a great duty to destroy slavery, but what interest can mankind have in upholding this remainder of the Northern war platform? Their interests and feelings will be diametrically opposed to it. The measure we propose will strike dead all John Brown fanaticism, and will compel the enemy to draw off altogether or in the eyes of the world to swallow the Declaration of Independence without the sauce and disguise of philanthropy. This delusion of fanaticism at an end, thousands of Northern people will have leisure to look at home and to see the gulf of despotism into which they themselves are rushing.

The measure will at one blow strip the enemy of foreign sympathy and assistance, and transfer them to the South; it will dry up two of his three sources of recruiting; it will take from his negro army the only motive it could have to fight against the South, and will probably cause much of it to desert over to us; it will deprive his cause of the powerful stimulus of fanaticism, and will enable him to see the rock on which his so called friends are now piloting him. The immediate effect of the emancipation and enrollment of negroes on the military strength of the South would be: To enable us to have armies numerically superior to those of the North, and a reserve of any size we might think necessary; to enable us to take the offensive, move forward, and forage on the enemy. It would open to us in prospective another and almost untouched source of supply, and furnish us with the means of preventing temporary disaster, and carrying on a protracted struggle. It would instantly remove all the vulnerability, embarrassment, and inherent weakness which result from slavery. The approach of the enemy would no longer find every household surrounded by spies; the fear that sealed the master's lips and the avarice that has, in so many cases, tempted him practically to desert us would alike be removed. There would be no recruits awaiting the enemy with open arms, no complete history of every neighborhood with ready guides, no fear of insurrection in the rear, or anxieties for the fate of loved ones when our armies moved forward. The chronic irritation of hope deferred would be joyfully ended with the negro, and the sympathies of his whole race would be due to his native South. It would restore confidence in an early termination of the war with all its inspiring consequences, and even if contrary to all expectations the enemy should succeed in overrunning the South, instead of finding a cheap, ready-made means of holding it down, he would find a common hatred and thirst for vengeance, which would break into acts at every favorable opportunity, would prevent him from settling on our lands, and render the South a very unprofitable conquest. It would remove forever all selfish taint from our cause and place independence above every question of property. The very magnitude of the sacrifice itself, such as no nation has ever voluntarily made before, would appal our enemies, destroy his spirit and his finances, and fill our hearts with a pride and singleness of purpose which would clothe us with new strength in battle. Apart from all other aspects of the question, the necessity for more fighting men is upon us. We can only get a sufficiency by making the negro share the danger and hardships of the war. If we arm and train him and make him fight for the country in her hour of dire distress, every consideration of principle and policy demand that we should set him and his whole race who side with us free. It is a first principle with mankind that he who offers his life in defense of the State should receive from her in return his freedom and his happiness, and we believe in acknowledgment of this principle. The Constitution of the Southern States has reserved to their respective governments the power to free slaves for meritorious services to the State. It is politic besides. For many years, ever since the agitation of the subject of slavery commenced, the negro has been dreaming of freedom, and his vivid imagination has surrounded that condition with so many gratifications that it has become the paradise of his hopes. To attain it he will tempt dangers and difficulties not exceeded by the bravest soldier in the field. The hope of freedom is perhaps the only moral incentive that can be applied to him in his present condition. It would be preposterous then to expect him to fight against it with any degree of enthusiasm, therefore we must bind him to our cause by no doubtful bonds; we must leave no possible loophole for treachery to creep in. The slaves are dangerous now, but armed, trained, and collected in an army they would be a thousand fold more dangerous: therefore when we make soldiers of them we must make free men of them beyond all question, and thus enlist their sympathies also. We can do this more effectually than the North can now do, for we can give the negro not only his own freedom, but that of his wife and child, and can secure it to him in his old home. To do this, we must immediately make his marriage and parental relations sacred in the eyes of the law and forbid their sale. The past legislation of the South concedes that large free middle class of negro blood, between the master and slave, must sooner or later destroy the institution. If, then, we touch the institution at all, we would do best to make the most of it, and by emancipating the whole race upon reasonable terms, and within such reasonable time as will prepare both races for the change, secure to ourselves all the advantages, and to our enemies all the disadvantages that can arise, both at home and abroad, from such a sacrifice. Satisfy the negro that if he faithfully adheres to our standard during the war he shall receive his freedom and that of his race. Give him as an earnest of our intentions such immediate immunities as will impress him with our sincerity and be in keeping with his new condition, enroll a portion of his class as soldiers of the Confederacy, and we change the race from a dreaded weakness to a position of strength.

Will the slaves fight? The helots of Sparta stood their masters good stead in battle. In the great sea fight of Lepanto where the Christians checked forever the spread of Mohammedanism over Europe, the galley slaves of portions of the fleet were promised freedom, and called on to fight at a critical moment of the battle. They fought well, and civilization owes much to those brave galley slaves. The negro slaves of Saint Domingo, fighting for freedom, defeated their white masters and the French troops sent against them. The negro slaves of Jamaica revolted, and under the name of Maroons held the mountains against their masters for 150 years; and the experience of this war has been so far that half-trained negroes have fought as bravely as many other half-trained Yankees. If, contrary to the training of a lifetime, they can be made to face and fight bravely against their former masters, how much more probable is it that with the allurement of a higher reward, and led by those masters, they would submit to discipline and face dangers.

We will briefly notice a few arguments against this course. It is said Republicanism cannot exist without the institution. Even were this true, we prefer any form of government of which the Southern people may have the molding, to one forced upon us by a conqueror. It is said the white man cannot perform agricultural labor in the South. The experience of this army during the heat of summer from Bowling Green, Ky., to Tupelo, Miss., is that the white man is healthier when doing reasonable work in the open field than at any other time. It is said an army of negroes cannot be spared from the fields. A sufficient number of slaves is now administering to luxury alone to supply the place of all we need, and we believe it would be better to take half the able bodied men off a plantation than to take the one master mind that economically regulated its operations. Leave some of the skill at home and take some of the muscle to fight with. It is said slaves will not work after they are freed. We think necessity and a wise legislation will compel them to labor for a living. It is said it will cause terrible excitement and some disaffection from our cause. Excitement is far preferable to the apathy which now exists, and disaffection will not be among the fighting men. It is said slavery is all we are fighting for, and if we give it up we give up all. Even if this were true, which we deny, slavery is not all our enemies are fighting for. It is merely the pretense to establish sectional superiority and a more centralized form of government, and to deprive us of our rights and liberties. We have now briefly proposed a plan which we believe will save our country. It may be imperfect, but in all human probability it would give us our independence. No objection ought to outweigh it which is not weightier than independence. If it is worthy of being put in practice it ought to be mooted quickly before the people, and urged earnestly by every man who believes in its efficacy. Negroes will require much training; training will require time, and there is danger that this concession to common sense may come too late.

P. R. Cleburne, major-general, commanding division; D. C. Govan, brigadier-general; John E. Murray, colonel Fifth Arkansas; G. F. Baucum, colonel Eighth Arkansas; Peter Snyder, lieutenant-colonel, commanding Sixth and Seventh Arkansas; E. Warfield, lieutenant-colonel, Second Arkansas; M. P. Lowrey, brigadier-general; A. B. Hardcastle, colonel Thirty-second and Forty-fifth Mississippi; F. A. Ashford, major Sixteenth Alabama; John W. Colquitt, colonel First Arkansas; Rich. J. Person, major Third and Fifth Confederate; G. S. Deakins, major Thirty-fifth and Eighth Tennessee; J. H. Collett, captain, commanding Seventh Texas; J. H. Kelly, brigadier-general, commanding Cavalry Division.


SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 52 (Serial No. 110), p. 586-92

Friday, March 20, 2020

Major-General Howell Cobb to James A. Seddon, January 8, 1865

Macon, Ga., January 8, 1865.
Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:

SIR: Your letter of the 30th of December received by yesterday's mail. I beg to assure you that I have spared no efforts or pains to prosecute vigorously the recruiting of our Army through the conscript camp. It is true, as you say, there are many liable to conscription who have not been reached, and for reasons I have heretofore given I fear never will be reached. Rest assured, however, that I will not cease my efforts in that regard. In response to your inquiries, how our Army is to be recruited, I refer with strength and confidence to the policy of opening the door for volunteers. I have so long and so urgently pressed this matter that I feel reluctant even to allude to it, and yet I should not be true to my strong convictions of duty if I permitted any opportunity to pass without urging and pressing it upon the proper authorities. It is in my opinion not only the best but the only mode of saving the Army, and every day it is postponed weakens its strength and diminishes the number that could be had by it. The freest, broadest, and most unrestricted system of volunteering is the true policy, and cannot be too soon resorted to. I think that the proposition to make soldiers of our slaves is the most pernicious idea that has been suggested since the war began. It is to me a source of deep mortification and regret to see the name of that good and great man and soldier, General R. E. Lee, given as authority for such a policy. My first hour of despondency will be the one in which that policy shall be adopted. You cannot make soldiers of slaves, nor slaves of soldiers. The moment you resort to negro soldiers your white soldiers will be lost to you; and one secret of the favor with which the proposition is received in portions of the Army is the hope that when negroes go into the Army they will be permitted to retire. It is simply a proposition to fight the balance of the war with negro troops. You can't keep white and black troops together, and you can't trust negroes by themselves. It is difficult to get negroes enough for the purpose indicated in the President's message, much less enough for an Army. Use all the negroes you can get, for all the purposes for which you need them, but don't arm them. The day you make soldiers of them is the beginning of the end of the revolution. If slaves will make good soldiers our whole theory of slavery is wrong—but they won't make soldiers. As a class they are wanting in every qualification of a soldier. Better by far to yield to the demands of England and France and abolish slavery, and thereby purchase their aid, than to resort to this policy, which leads as certainly to ruin and subjugation as it is adopted; you want more soldiers, and hence the proposition to take negroes into the Army. Before resorting to it, at least try every reasonable mode of getting white soldiers. I do not entertain a doubt that you can by the volunteering policy get more men into the service than you can arm. I have more fears about arms than about men. For heaven's sake try it before you fill with gloom and despondency the hearts of many of our truest and most devoted men by resorting to the suicidal policy of arming our slaves.

Having answered the inquiries of your letter, let me volunteer in a few words a suggestion. Popularize your administration by some just concessions to the strong convictions of public opinion. Mark you, I do not say yield to popular clamor, but concede something to the earnest convictions of an overwhelming, and, I will say, an enlightened public opinion. First, yield your opposition to volunteering in the form and manner which I have heretofore urged; second, restore General Johnston to the command of the Army of Tennessee, and return General Beauregard to South Carolina.

With Lee in Virginia, Johnston here, and Beauregard in South Carolina you restore confidence and at once revive the hopes of the people. At present I regret to say that gloom and despondency rule the hour, and bitter opposition to the Administration, mingled with disaffection and disloyalty, is manifesting itself. With a dash of the pen the President can revolutionize this state of things, and I earnestly beseech him to do it.

Sincerely, yours,

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series IV, Volume 3 (Serial No. 129), p. 1009-10

Thursday, February 13, 2020

John M. Forbes et al to Gideon Welles, July 10, 1863

While failing to accomplish any great object, we hope that we have done something to enlighten public opinion by our constant intercourse with leading public and literary men and others, and also by aiding and encouraging our consuls in their efforts to stop the outfit of pirates in what ought to be the friendly ports of Great Britain.

SOURCE: Sarah Forbes Hughes, Letters and Recollections of John Murray Forbes, Volume 2, p. 64

Flag Officer Samuel F. Dupont to Gustavus V. Fox, March 14, 1862

Off St. Augustine
14 March 62
My Dear Sir

All these reports are interesting. Do have them published, they encourage the officers more than anything else.

The great want of the Govt. is an official Organ for National effect, if not for Political. The Nat, Intellg will publish everything. I think the Ass. Press concern a curse.

I hope to catch the Casslin—but I have nothing to cross that Mosquitoe Inlet bar, but this ship's launches and they are away up at Jacksonville—and lucky they are there. I am sending to Wright to hurry troops there—he thought it ought not to be occupied—but it must be to secure loyal people.

I recd the Dept's mail—will take an early oppy. to write about the blockade. None of those vessels reported from London and Liverpool ever dare approach the coast, showing what they think of the blockade— but transship at Nassau N.P. aided and abetted by those English hypercritical scoundrels—into vessels about the size of our launches.

The Fingal was the last foreign vessel that got into Savannah, after the gale of the 24, but has never got out and is sold to the rebels.

The Isabel and Nashville, with local Pilots of extraordinary skill, fogs and accident, and Steam have eluded us—but how many have been kept out? Skiddy run through Lord Cochrane's whole fleet blockading one port. Steam has quadrupled the advantage to those who run the blockade, over those who cover the ports.

But the game is up with them now, I promise you. The merchants ought to be glad the Nashville is in. This place Smyrna which I knew nothing about, has let in good many arms I am now satisfied.

Much disappointed about the Vermont, but expected nothing less. A clever old Port Captain would have taken that place.

Now my friend for the last time let me implore you to send coal. I have begged in vain. Two weeks more and this whole fleet will be laid up. Lardner writes only one vessel has arrived and this gulf people swallow that up.

The coming Equinoxial gales, will upset half the ships I have—all their Paddle wheels are nearly out of the water.

I can't tell you how I feel about it. I have written and begged Lenthall and you—but it produces nothing —two miserable schooners on the way, which will not both of them fill up the Bienville.

Yrs faithfully

SOURCE: Robert Means Thompson & Richard Wainwright, Editors, Publications of the Naval Historical Society, Volume 9: Confidential Correspondence of Gustavus Vasa Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1861-1865, Volume 1, p. 112-4

Saturday, January 11, 2020

John M. Forbes to William Bathbone, Jr. of Liverpool, October 31, 1863

Boston, 31 October, 1863.

Your note about Sumner's speech was duly received and has been used so that it will do good. Being marked private, I could not show it to Sumner, but I read it to him without giving your name. I have also sent a copy of its substance to one of our campaign orators who was disposed to pitch into your government and people too!

Sumner was much disturbed at it, and at other similar letters; but insists that he was right in telling the truth, and that he thus best served the interests of Peace. He does not shine in the perceptive faculties; has eloquence, scholarship, high principle, and many other good qualities, but he has not the faculty of putting himself in the position of an opposing party, and conceiving of how things look from a different standpoint than his own.

Nobody can appreciate the extreme sensitiveness of the English mind to anything which can, however remotely, be construed into a threat, unless he has been in the little island within the past year. When to this honest sensitiveness you add the many causes for taking offense in the selfishness of certain parties and the prejudice of others who wish to see our experiment fail, there is an array of dangers against speaking out which will deter most men from doing so. Sumner claims to be, par excellence, the friend of Peace and of England, and therefore thinks he can best sound the alarm when he sees war threatening.

He says that all the arguments you and I use against plain speaking were used with even more force against speaking the truth against slavery. It would irritate the South, would hurt our friends, would strengthen the hands of our enemies, etc., etc., and if he had listened then we should now be the supporters of a mighty slave empire. There is something in this, but analogies are not conclusive, and I shall continue to do my best to keep people's tongues quiet! The more I think and know of the whole subject, however, the more sure I am that the only safeguard against a war, if not now, certainly the first time you get into war when we are at peace, is your prescription, — a radical change of your and our law. I am sure, although I cannot prove it, that if Mr. Adams's whole correspondence were published you would see that we accepted the proposal to modify our laws (and yours) although we had found ours sufficient to protect you up to this time.

But the experience of the doings of the Alabama, etc., has shown that steam changes the practical effect of the law, and that the right to sell ships of war, even if sent out honestly for sale, is incompatible with friendly neutral relations. Moreover, the irritation caused by your privateers will surely change the practical mode of executing our law.

You will then go to war with us for doing precisely what your government have done, — unless you abstain from the same motives we do, expediency. No maritime nation will hereafter see its commerce destroyed and its people irritated by steamers doing such widespread mischief as any steamer can, without going to war about it. Hence the need of new treaties modifying the present construction of the law of nations permitting outfit of vessels adapted to war purposes, whether bona fide for sale or the property of belligerents.

You and I know very well how easy it is to pass over a bill of sale the moment a vessel is three miles from the shore; and that when the law is once fully established that warships may legally be exported for sale, the rebels or any other belligerents can get them delivered at convenient points without the builders or anybody else breaking the letter of the law.

As you told me the day I landed in Liverpool, your law is, under your practice, radically defective. Ours did well under our practice, but you can never for a moment count upon our continuing the same practice in the face of your precedents. You hit the nail on the head when you told me that your law was worthless for our protection. Accept my assurance that ours will be worthless for your protection in your next war. Our mutual safety is to change it, and that promptly, while you are strong and can do it with a good grace, and while we are still in danger from its defects. It is absurd to say that your navy would have been much more efficient than ours in catching the Alabama, etc. All naval ships are loaded down with guns and stores and trash. Our mercantile warships are better for speed than either your or our warships.

I was only yesterday talking with one of our old clipper captains whom I got appointed two years ago volunteer lieutenant, and who has a merchant steamer bought and armed by government. He has been very successful in catching blockade runners and assures me that the Clyde and other trials of speed are perfectly illusory. He has taken several vessels that were going sixteen knots, his ship beating them at ten knots.

It is not the Alabama's or Honda's speed; but the ocean is a big place, and we shall always have numerous light-built, fast steamers that can repeat the Alabama feats even with the whole British navy divided between blockading ports and chasing privateers!

Depend upon it, we can export for sale to any belligerent as many Alabamas as he can pay for. It is for merchants and statesmen to look ahead and avert the mutual danger.

With best regards to your father and all your circle.

SOURCE: Sarah Forbes Hughes, Letters and Recollections of John Murray Forbes, Volume 2, p. 59-63

Gustavus V. Fox to Flag Officer Samuel F. Dupont, February 28, 1862

Navy Department
March 6” 1862.
My dear Commodore:

I had a long talk with McClellan to-day to see if he had any objections to giving Sherman orders to go ahead with the first programme. I was rather surprised to find that he did not know why it had not been carried out, and upon comparing notes more freely, we both found that we were entirely ignorant of what was going on or intended. Meigs was with us, and he had a letter from Sherman one month old, which seemed to intimate that the other expedition was about to move. Under these circumstances, an order will be given by both Departments, suggesting that the matter go forward at once, unless incompatible with some operation now on hand. I do not think, as I have several times written you, that the Government place much importance upon the acquisition of Savannah, beyond the possession of Pulaski, but the recovery of a whole state is a moral victory that cannot be too highly estimated. The people expected Sherman to march at once upon Savannah or Charleston, which was ridiculous, and impossible, though I think he could have cut the railroad. He and his compeers, expected the gun boats to go directly into the Savannah river, and dash up to the city, which was impossible, so that a month ago he seemed to be waiting for the Navy to go South. In the meantime there is an immense force and the sickly season almost upon us. I look forward to it with dire apprehension. The Nashville has got into Wilmington, Southern accounts say by hoisting the American flag and going through our ships. A regular trade seems to be carried on from Nassau and Havana to some parts of our Southern coasts in small vessels. I suppose it cannot be entirely prevented, of course, but I do not believe they use Charleston and Fernandina as they pretend. There are eight steamers fitting out in England for the Southern coast, and the blockade would give us very serious trouble were it not for the desperate condition of the rebels, owing to their sudden reverses in the west. I think Europe will now withdraw their material aid. The Vermont, having met with serious losses, the extent of which are yet unknown, the Relief is now loading for Port Royal. I hope Lenthall and Harwood keep you well up in ammunition and coal. The resolution for you went through unanimously and I trust we shall obtain for you higher honors yet. The Maratanza “double Ender” is nearly ready at Boston and we will send her down for Rodgers. The Miami steered badly but it was the fault of the constructor at Philadelphia. The Octorara is a gem. We shall get off the Vermont again at the earliest possible moment, but she is not yet saved, and I hear has lost her masts. Any little trophies from your district would be most gratefully received by the members of Congress, and as they constantly ask me for such, I have ventured to ask you to make up a box of the most trifling things. One word more, and good night. Don't write confidential letters upon a former flag officer to your short friend.

Yours most truly,
G. V. FOX.
Flag Officer S. F. DuPont, G. V. FOX.
Comd’g So Atlantic Blockd’g Squadron
Port Royal

SOURCE: Robert Means Thompson & Richard Wainwright, Editors, Publications of the Naval Historical Society, Volume 9: Confidential Correspondence of Gustavus Vasa Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1861-1865, Volume 1, p. 109-11

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

John M. Forbes to Senator Charles Sumner, September 8, 1863

Naushon, September 8, 1863.

I hear you are to speak on foreign relations, — a delicate subject for a man in your position.

May I give you a hint? I hear from good authority that great doubt exists whether the English government will consider our prima facie case made out against the ironclads, and if not they will make no attempt to stop them.

It will not do, therefore, to say that the letting out of these vessels means war between us and England, for your saying so may make your prophecy into its fulfillment!

Of course, we must tell the English people how much the going out of these vessels will increase the danger of war, and try to wake them up to this danger, but we cannot afford to go to war yet, even for this. We are in a sad state of want of preparation for a war with a naval people. We must gain time, must wait, and even when ready must still hope to avoid the fatal necessity.

It is a great point that the “Times” backs up the Emancipation Society's petition; it shows which way Palmerston wishes the public mind turned; but it is not conclusive, and the whole subject needs the greatest caution, as far from threats as from any indication that we will submit.

Forgive me for ever seeming to preach to an adept like yourself; but I have been there and know the sensitiveness of the British people (even decent ones) to threats, and also the readiness of the government to avail of any appearance of weakness on our part to push us. . . .

I delight in the President's plain letter to plain people!1

1 See page 73.

SOURCE: Sarah Forbes Hughes, Letters and Recollections of John Murray Forbes, Volume 2, p. 58-9

Friday, October 11, 2019

Diary of William Howard Russell: July 21, 1861

The calmness and silence of the streets of Washington this lovely morning suggested thoughts of the very different scenes which, in all probability, were taking place at a few miles' distance. One could fancy the hum and stir round the Federal bivouacs, as the troops woke up and were formed into column of march towards the enemy. I much regretted that I was not enabled to take the field with General McDowell's army, but my position was surrounded with such difficulties that I could not pursue the course open to the correspondents of the American newspapers. On my arrival in Washington I addressed an application to Mr. Cameron, Secretary at War, requesting him to sanction the issue of, rations and forage from the Commissariat to myself, a servant, and a couple of horses, at the contract prices, or on whatever other terms he might think fit, and I had several interviews with Mr. Leslie, the obliging and indefatigable chief clerk of the War Department, in reference to the matter; but as there was a want of precedents for such a course, which was not all to be wondered at, seeing that no representative of an English newspaper had ever been sent to chronicle the progress of an American army in the field, no satisfactory result could be arrived at, though I had many fair words and promises.

A great outcry had arisen in the North against the course and policy of England, and the journal I represented was assailed on all sides as a Secession organ, favorable to the rebels and exceedingly hostile to the Federal government and the cause of the tumors. Public men in America are alive to the inconveniences of attacks by their own press; and as it was quite impossible to grant to the swarms of correspondents from all parts of the Union the permission to draw supplies from the public stores, it would have afforded a handle to turn the screw upon the War Department, already roundly abused in the most influential papers, if Mr. Cameron acceded to me, not merely a foreigner, but the correspondent of a foreign journal which was considered the most powerful enemy of the policy of his government, privileges which he denied to American citizens, representing newspapers which were enthusiastically supporting the cause for which the armies of the North were now in the field.

To these gentlemen indeed, I must here remark, such privileges were of little consequence. In every camp they had friends who were willing to receive them in their quarters, and who earned a word of praise in the local papers for the gratification of either their vanity or their laudable ambition in their own neighborhood, by the ready service which they afforded to the correspondents. They rode Government horses, had the use of Government wagons, and through fear, favor, or affection, enjoyed facilities to which I had no access. I could not expect persons with whom I was unacquainted to be equally generous, least of all when by doing so they would have incurred popular obloquy and censure; though many officers in the army had expressed in very civil terms the pleasure it would give them to see me at their quarters in the field. Some days ago I had an interview with Mr. Cameron himself, who was profuse enough in promising that he would do all in his power to further my wishes; but he had, nevertheless, neglected sending me the authorization for which I had applied. I could scarcely stand a baggage train and commissariat upon my own account, nor could I well participate in the system of plunder and appropriation which has marked the course of the Federal army so far, devastating and laying waste all the country behind it.

Hence, all I could do was to make a journey to see the army on the field, and to return to Washington to write my report of its first operation, knowing there would be plenty of time to overtake it before it could reach Richmond, when, as I hoped, Mr. Cameron would be prepared to accede to my request, or some plan had been devised by myself to obviate the difficulties which lay in my path. There was no entente cordiale exhibited towards me by the members of the American press; nor did they, any more than the generals, evince any disposition to help the alien correspondent of the "Times," and my only connection with one of their body, the young designer, had not, indeed, inspired me with any great desire to extend my acquaintance. General McDowell, on giving me the most hospitable invitation to his quarters, refrained from offering the assistance which, perhaps, it was not in his power to afford; and I confess, looking at the matter calmly, I could scarcely expect that he would, particularly as he said, half in jest, half seriously, "I declare I am not quite easy at the idea of having your eye on me, for you have seen so much of European armies, you will, very naturally, think little of us, generals and all."

SOURCE: William Howard Russell, My Diary North and South, Vol. 1, p. 439-41