Showing posts with label Mexican War. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mexican War. Show all posts

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Diary of Private Daniel L. Ambrose: Tuesday, April 8, 1862

Oh! what a terrible scene does Shiloh's field present this morning. It is a scene of death; its victims lay everywhere. The blood of about thirteen thousand warriors has been shed here in the last two days. My God! what a sacrifice, what a flow of blood. But liberty has claimed it for an emancipated mind, and may it water well the great tree of universal freedom, and cause it to extend its branches fosteringly over a struggling people. In these two days of battle the Seventh sustained a heavy loss. The following are the casualties: 

Major R. Rowett, wounded. 

Company A. — Captain Samuel G. Ward, killed; private Alden Bates, killed. 

Company B. — Captain Hector Perrin, wounded; private Charles Newton, killed; Michael O'Keep, killed. 

Company C. — Sergeant George Mitchell, killed; Samuel Wilson, wounded. 

Company D. — Private Andrew McKinnon, killed. 

Company E. — Private Edmund Keve, wounded. 

Company F. — Killed; private Isaac Britton. Mortally Wounded ; privates John Jackson, Chas. P. Laing, John P. Hale. Wounded ; Wallace Partridge, John Dell, James Harrington, Hugh H. Porter, John Larkin, James Close. 

Company G. — Private John Gibland, killed; Captain Henry W. Allen, wounded ; private George Harris, wounded. 

Company H. — Lieutenant Leo Wash. Myres, killed ; private John H. Duff, killed ; private Ernst H. Myres, wounded; private Charles Ward, wounded; Sergeant Laban Wheeler, wounded; private James Walker, wounded; private Geo. W. Fletcher, wounded; private Carol Hurt, wounded; private Thomas Taylor, wounded; private Charlie Halbert; wounded; private Elam Mills, wounded. 

Company I. — Corporal Seth Hamilton, killed ; private John Bollyjack, killed ; private James Craven, killed; private James Lacy, killed; Sergeant Charles M. Fellows, wounded; private James Crowley, wounded; private John Johnson, wounded; private George Marsh, wounded; private Wm. S. Rogers ; wounded; private Michael Toner, wounded; private George Vesey, wounded; private George W. Byron, wounded; private Marcus McKinnis, wounded; private Daniel J. Baker, wounded. 

Company K. — Private John Nixon, killed; private Charles P. Huffman, wounded; private Jacob Howe, wounded ; Sergeant J. B. Sanders, wounded ; Sergeant Wm. C. Gillson, wounded; private John M. Anderson, wounded; private Thos. J. R. Grant, wounded; private Green B. Johnson, wounded; private George Reiner, wounded; private Joseph White, wounded. Total killed, 14; total wonnded, 43; sum total of casualities, 57. 

Glorious record! Proud names! Yes, proud as any that will ever embellish our national escutcheon. Departed souls, as courageous as history can boast of. From Shiloh's dark wilderness, no nobler, no braver spirit took its flight into the skies than the spirit of Captain Ward, of Company A. He fell mortally wounded in the fiercest of the battle Sunday evening, while at the head of his company, cheering his men on to deeds of valor. Some of his company stop to carry him from the field; but while glory is beaming in the dying warrior's eye, he says to his gallant men: “There goes the flag; it will need all its noble defenders to hold it up in the terrible battle that is raging so fiercely. Boys, it is trembling now! Lay me down to die; leave me and follow the old Seventh's silken folds, and tell the boys of Company A, that ere the sun's light is hid from this field, their Captain will be no more; that I will be silently sleeping in death. Tell them to remember Captain Ward, and keep the old flag in the wind.” 

Fainting he falls; his features lose their glow; his eyes are closed forever to the light. Alone, he died—died in his glory. Noble sacrifices may be offered in this war for the Union, but no nobler sacrifice, no grander type of a man, of a soldier, will ever be offered than has been offered in Captain Samuel G. Ward, of Company A. Captain Ward was among the first to hearken to the first call of the President in April, 1861. From a private in Company A, he was promoted by Colonel Cook to Sergeant Major of the regiment. At the end of the three months' service, Sergeant Major Ward was unanimously chosen Captain of Company A, in which position he served faithfully until liberty claimed him as a sacrifice on Shiloh's field, April 6th, 1862. Every one saw in him the elements of a rising officer; a star that was already shining, the light of which would have been seen afar had not the wild tempest blown it out so early. Though he passed away in youth's hopeful morning, ere his aspirations were reached, immortality's royal messenger will take up his name, and while soft winds chant a requiem around his grave, will say of him: “Here sleeps Captain Ward, whom liberty claimed in its great struggle on Shiloh's plain. He lived, he died, for country, home, and flag.” 

Lieutenant Leo Washington Myres, of Company H, died as the warriors die-nobly. He stood manfully while the bolts of war around him rattled, but he is a silent sleeper now. Amid shooting flames and curling smoke, he bravely sacrificed his life—sacrificed it as one of the martyrs of freedom. Being among the first to rush to the standard when arch treason first lifted its mad head, he was elected Second Lieutenant of Company H, and at the end of the three months' service, he was unanimously chosen First Lieutenant, in which capacity he valiantly served until his life was sealed at Shiloh, April 6th, 1862. 

In the wild storm that swept over that field, no truer patriot soldier was borne down than Lieutenant Myres. As a lover of liberty he followed the flag southward and stood beneath its folds where the gulf winds blew across the plains of Mexico. With Taylor and Scott, he fought for it there. With Wallace he died for it down by the Tennesssee. Oh ! how can it be that stars that gave such brilliant light should go out so soon. The providences of God are indeed mysterious. 

But all died in their glory. Sergeant Mitchell, company C, Corporal Seth Hamilton, company I, privates Alden Bates, company A, John H. Duff, company H, Charles Newton, Company B, Andrew McKennon, company D, Isaac Britton, company F, John Gibland, company G, Corporal J. Nixon, company K, and many others, died crowned with laurels as bright as the midnight stars. Though they carried the musket, we will ascribe no less praise to them, for heroes they proved themselves to be. From Thermopylæ to Shiloh, the world has never produced grander types of gallantry than has been produced in these private soldiers, who fell on this battle-field. Of all the fallen of the Seventh who went down in Shiloh's two days of battle, I can only say of them as Mark Anthony said of Julias Cæsar, “Their lives were grand; the elements so mixed in them that all the world might stand up and say, they were men; they were heroes; they were soldiers.” 

While on the battle-field, Sergeant S. F. Flint, Company I, writes: 

Soft fall the dews of midnight and morning, 
O’er the green hills where slumber the brave, 
Fall on each nameless and desolate grave; 
And soft be the song of the slow flowing river, 
As it pours by the shores they have hallowed forever. 

In peace and off duty the soldier is sleeping, 
No more will he wake at the shrill reveille, 
As it rings through the vales of the old Tennessee; 
But the wail of the wind, and the roll of the river, 
As it thrills o'er the hills his requiem forever, 

Oh! the homes in their own northern prairies and valleys, 
More lonely and dark than those desolate graves, 
O! the wailings that answer the winds and the waves ; 
O! the tears that will flow like the fall of the river, 
As it swells through the dells where they slumber forever. 

But lift up the old flag they died in defending, 
And swear by each nameless but glorious grave, 
That hallowed with triumph its free folds shall wave 
O'er the hills and the vales and the bright flowing river, 
O'er the whole lovely land of our fathers forever. 

We will now pass to yonder hospital steamer. The Seventh's wounded lay here; among the noble company lies the gallant Captain Hector Perrin, wounded badly in the thigh. Though a son of France, he loved freedom, and being one from the school of La Fayette, he fought bravely on Shiloh's field. Among this company we find heroes, all of whom have shown and yet show that they have in them the element of steel. Patiently and silently they endure their suffering. Who ever witnessed such fortitude ? The world will fail in its annals of blood to exhibit grander types. Some have lost a leg, others have frightful wounds in the face; but these are their patents of nobility. Dr. Hamilton, our popular Assistant Surgeon, as ever, has a care for the unfortunate ones. He is now, with his usual promptness, preparing to send them north. Some of them will never return again; but may a grateful people open wide to them their generous hearts, and leave them not to drift through the world in storm. Returning we mingle with the living. Of the noble survivors we can only say of them, they did well; they played their part as nobly as the most gallant warriors have ever done on any battle-field. In these two days of battle Major Rowett, who is now in his tent slightly wounded, but prostrated upon his cot, worn out by excessive toil, proved himself worthy the leadership of brave men. Where danger most threatened, there he was always found. None moved amid the carnage with a more dashing force. Full of fire and life, with a reckless contempt for danger, he stemmed the wild storm. He was wounded twice and had his horse shot but nothing could check him. At the head of his regiment he was always found, and it is conceded by those who knew, that no regimental commander handled his command on Shiloh's field better than Major Rowett handled the Seventh, At no time was the regiment driven into confusion, though many times its line was broken, but each time was reformed promptly, and be it said to the credit of the regiment, not a prisoner was taken in consequence of straggling. Captain Monroe, acting Major, has won the encomiums of all. Fight and battle seem to be his element. He carries with him triumph and glory. Enthusiastic as are all the brave, his voice was ever heard cheering the men and telling them never to let the flag go down. Captains Lawyer, Hunter, Estabrook, Church, Lieutenants Ring, Smith, Roberts, Ellis, Sullivan, Sweeny and Ahern were ever foremost in the battle and ever found encouraging their men, bidding them to stand firm for the flag and freedom. The color bearer, Sergeant Coles Barney, of company H, won for himself the admiration of his officers and comrades, for the gallant manner in which he bore his banner through the wild tempest. 

But all were brave, and all fought valiantly. They marched in blood, and threw themselves against arch treason until the Union's proud banner waved upon a triumphant field. At times it was fearfully dark, and the flag seemed to droop, but our noble men stood around it, and while blood was ebbing, they formed a defense of steel backed by hearts that never faltered. And thus defended, their flag, the pride of the mighty millions, shed glorious light around the noble men of the Seventh. 

Large parties are now at work burying the dead of both armies. Shiloh will be one vast grave-yard, but it will be destitute of marble slabs. Hundreds of Union soldiers will sleep here, and in the years to come, the patriot pilgrims will tread the earth above them, and know not that beneath sleeps Shiloh's martyrs. But should they chance to see some graves that are arched, so that they can be recognized as the graves of the lone soldiers, they will not know whether the sleepers fought for or against the old flag, and the friends of the loved and lost will not know upon which graves to throw their flowers or drop their tears, 

SOURCES: Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 57-65

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Benjamin Franklin Cheatham

Benjamin Franklin Cheatham
Benjamin Franklin Cheatham was born at Nashville in 1820. At twenty-six years of age he entered the army for service in the Mexican War. As captain and colonel he won fame in this war and at its close was appointed major general of Tennessee volunteers. In 1849 he went with the great throng of fortune hunters to the gold fields of California, but soon returned to Tennessee. At the beginning of the Civil War he was made a brigadier general in the Confederate Army and served with distinguished honor throughout the war, rising to the rank of major general. He was a stern, hard fighter, but a kind man, much beloved by his soldiers, who affectionately called him "Old Frank." Of course they never used this title in speaking to their general, but around their camp fires they rarely gave him any other. It is a custom among soldiers to nickname the commanders they love.

After the Civil War General Cheatham returned to Nashville. When General Grant became President he offered General Cheatham an appointment in the civil service of the United States, but Cheatham did not accept it. The two men were warm personal friends, though they had taken opposite sides in the war. In 1872 General Cheatham, Andrew Johnson, and Horace Maynard were candidates for congressman at large. That is, Tennessee was entitled to one more representative in Congress than there were districts in the state, so one representative had to be elected by the votes of all the people of the state. Maynard was elected. In 1875 Cheatham was made Superintendent of State Prisons, and held the position for four years. In 1885 he was appointed postmaster at Nashville, but died in September, 1886.

SOURCE: Gentry Richard McGee, A History of Tennessee from 1663 to 1914, p. 211-2

Saturday, July 11, 2020

William Brimage Bate

William Brimage Bate, Governor of Tennessee, 1883-1887, was born near Castalian Springs, in Tennessee, October 7, 1826. His educational advantages were limited. In early manhood he was a clerk on a steamboat plying between Nashville and New Orleans. When the Mexican war came, he enlisted in a Louisiana Regiment, and is said to have been the first Tennessean to reach the front. He reenlisted in the Third Tennessee Infantry, and was made a First Lieutenant of Company I. At the close of the war he went to Gallatin and established a paper called The Tenth Legion. In 1849 he was elected to the Legislature. In 1852 he entered the Lebanon Law School, and two years later was elected Attorney-General for his district. In 1860 he served as elector on the Breckinridge and Lane ticket. When the Civil war broke out, Bate enlisted as a private in a company raised at Gallatin; of this company he was elected Captain and later Colonel of the regiment. He came out of the war as a Major-General, having won as much distinction for bravery as any man on either side. He was three times wounded and had six horses killed under him in battle. In 1863, while on the battlefield, he was tendered the nomination of Governor but declined in a letter which has become historic. In 1882 he defeated Governor Hawkins for Governor and Judge Frank Reid two years later. During his administration a settlement of the State debt was reached. On March 4, 1887, Governor Bate became United States Senator, which position he filled with great credit to his State, until his death in 1905.

SOURCE: John Trotwood Moore and Austin Powers Foster, Tennessee: The Volunteer State, 1769-1923, Volume 2, p. 28

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Albert Pike

Lawyer, Poet.

Albert Pike, lawyer, poet, philologist, and for many years prior to his death the highest Masonic dignitary in the United States, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, December 29, 1809, and died in Washington City, April 2, 1891.

In early childhood he removed to Newburyport, in the same State, at which place and at Framingham he received his early education. In 1825 he entered Harvard College, supporting himself at the same time by teaching. Having studied at home for the junior class and passed the examination to enter in 1826, he found that the tuition of the two previous years was required to be paid, and, declining to do this, he completed his own education, teaching the meanwhile at Fairhaven and Newburyport, where he was principal of the grammar school, and afterwards conducted a private school of his own. In later years the degree of Master of Arts was conferred upon him by the faculty of Harvard College. In March, 1831, he went to the west, going with a trading party as far as Santa Fe, New Mexico. In September, 1832, he joined a trapping party at Taos, with which he went down the Pecos river and into the Staked Plains, where with four others he left the party and, traveling for the most part on foot, reached Fort Smith, Arkansas, December 10, 1832. His adventures during these expeditions, in which he underwent many hardships, are related in his volume of "Prose Sketches and Poems," published in 1834. While teaching in 1833, below Van Buren and on Little Piney river, he contributed articles to the Little Rock "Advocate," which attracted the attention of Robert Crittenden, through whom he was made assistant editor of that paper, of which he afterwards became owner and conducted it for upwards of two years. In 1835 he was admitted to the bar. He had read only the first volume of "Blackstone's Commentaries," but the judge of the territorial superior court said, as he gave the license, that it was not like giving a medical diploma, because as a lawyer he could not take anyone's life. He subsequently made an extensive study of the law, being his own teacher, and practiced his profession until the outbreak of the Mexican War, when he recruited a company of cavalry, and was present at the battle of Buena Vista, being attached to Colonel Charles May's squadron of dragoons In 1848 he fought a duel with Governor John S. Roane, on the occasion of an account of that battle written by him, and which Governor Roane considered reflected unjustly on the Arkansas regiment.

In 1849 he was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, at the same time with Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin. A famous case pleaded by him before that tribunal was the claim of Henry M. Rector for the famous Hot Springs property in Arkansas. In 1853 he transferred his law office to New Orleans, having, in preparation for practice before the court of Louisiana, read the "Pandects," making a translation into English of the first volume, as well as numerous French authorities, and he also wrote an unpublished work in three volumes upon "The Maxims of the Roman and French Law." He resumed practice in Arkansas in 1857. In 1859, having been for many years attorney for the Choctaw Indians, in association with three others he secured the award by the United States Senate to that tribe of $2,981,247. He was the first proposer of a Pacific railroad convention, and was sent as a delegate to several conventions of the kind before the war, at one time obtaining from the Louisiana Legislature a charter for a road with termini at San Francisco and Guaymas. During the war of secession, he was sent by the Confederate government to negotiate with the five civilized tribes in Indian Territory, to secure their alliance and adhesion, and commanded a brigade of Cherokees at the battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas. He was also for a short time on the Supreme Bench of Arkansas. In 1867 he edited the "Appeal" at Memphis, Tennessee, and in 1868 he removed to Washington City where he practiced before the courts until 1880.

From the year 1880 until his death, he devoted himself to literary pursuits and to Masonry. In his twentieth year General Pike composed the "Hymns to the Gods," poems published in "Blackwood's Magazine" in 1839, and included in "Nugae," a volume of poems privately printed in 1854. In 1873 and 1882 he printed, also privately, two other collections of poems. In 1840-45 he was the author of five volumes of Law Reports; in 1845 of the “Arkansas Form-Book;” in 1859 of "Masonic Statutes and Regulations;" and in 1870 of "Morals and Dogma of Freemasonry." Unpublished translations of the "Rig Veda," the "Zend Avesta," and other works of Aryan literature (with comments) filled seventeen or eighteen volumes of manuscript, without blemish or erasure. He composed numerous Masonic rituals, and replied to the bull of Pope Leo XIII against Masonry. In 1859 he was appointed grand commander for life of the supreme council of the thirty-third degree for the southern jurisdiction of the United States, the mother supreme council of the Masonic world. He was also at the head of the Royal Order of Scottish Rite Masonry in the United States.

SOURCE: William Richard Cutter, Editor, American Biography: A New Cyclopedia, Volume 2, p. 184-6

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: December 2, 1861


The troops encamped around here have been formed into three brigades, and will be commanded by Brigadier Generals Foster, Reno and Parke; the whole to be under command of Gen. A. E. Burnside and known as Burnside's coast division. Our regiment has been assigned the right of the first brigade, comprising the 25th, 23d, 24th and 27th Massachusetts and 10th Connecticut regiments, under command of Brig. Gen. John G. Foster, U. S. A. I think we are fortunate in our commander, as he appears to me like a man who understands his business. Gen. Foster is a regular army officer, ranking as captain of engineer!. He served in the Mexican war, and was with Major Anderson at the storming and surrender of Fort Sumpter. He has recently been commissioned brigadier general of volunteers. Judging from appearances, I have great faith in him as an able commander.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 13-4

Monday, June 10, 2019

Gerrit Smith to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, June 6, 1864

PETERBORO, June 6, 1864.

MY DEAR Cousin: I have your letter. It would be too great labor to answer all, who seek to know my choice amongst the presidential candidates. But I must answer you.

I have no choice. The first of September will be time enough for me and for every other person to have one. Intermediate events and changes will be indispensable lessons in our learning who should be the preferred candidate. To commit ourselves in time of war to a candidate one month before it is necessary, is worse than would be a whole year of such prematureness in time of peace. Then there is the absorbing, not to say frenzying, interest, which attends our important elections. That it is frenzying is manifest from the scornful reproach and wild invective, which the press is already heaping up on Lincoln and Fremont — both of them honest and able men, and both of them intent on saving the country. How unwise, nay how insane, to let this absorbing and frenzying interest come needlessly early into rivalry with our interest in the one great work of crushing the rebellion! For more than half a year have I frequently and faithfully, both with lips and pen, deprecated the premature agitation of the question who should be the chosen candidate. If, therefore, the Cleveland and Baltimore Conventions shall have the effect to divide the loyal voters so far as to let a pro-slavery and sham Democrat slip into the Presidency through their divisions, I, at least, shall not be responsible for the ruin that may come of it.

My concern whether it shall be Lincoln or Fremont or Chase or Butler or Grant who shall reach the presidential chair is comparatively very slight. But my concern to keep out of it a man, who would make any other terms with the rebels than their absolute submission is overwhelming. For any other terms would not only destroy our nation, but lessen the sacredness of nationality everywhere, and sadly damage the most precious interests of all mankind.

Since the Rebellion broke out, I have been nothing but an anti-rebellion man. So unconditionally have I gone for putting it down unconditionally, as to make no stipulations in behalf of m most cherished objects and dearest interests. And so shall I continue to go. I love the anti-slavery cause. Nevertheless, I would have the rebellion put down at whatever necessary expense to that cause. I love the Constitution; and deprecate the making of any even the slightest change in it. Nevertheless, I make infinitely less account of saving it than of destroying the rebellion. I love my country. But sooner than see her compromise with the rebels, I would see her exhaust herself and perish in her endeavors to defeat their crime — that greatest crime of all the ages and all the world. I do not forget that many of my old fellow abolitionists accuse me of having been unfaithful to the anti-slavery cause during the rebellion. My first answer to them is — that to help suppress the rebellion is the duty which stands nearest to me: and my second answer — that in no way so well as in suppressing it can the anti-slavery cause or any other good cause be promoted. There is not a good cause on the earth that has not an enemy in the unmixed and mighty wickedness of this rebellion.

You will rightly infer from what I have said, that my vote will be cast just where I shall judge it will be like to go farthest in keeping a disloyal man out of the Presidency. My definition of a disloyal man includes every one who would consent to obtain peace by concessions to the rebels – concessions however slight. Should the rebellion be disposed of before the election, I might possibly refuse to vote for any of the present candidates. When voting in time of war, and especially such a fearful war as the present, for a Governor or President, I vote for a leader in the war rather than for a civil ruler. Where circumstances leave me free to vote for a man with reference mainly to his qualifications as a civil ruler, I am, as my voting for thirty years proves, very particular how I vote. In 1856, Fremont was in nomination for the Chief Magistracy. I honored him — but I did not vote for him. In 1860, Lincoln was nominated for it. I had read his Debate with Senator Douglas, and I thought well of him. But neither for him did I vote. To-day, however, I could cheerfully vote for either to be the constitutional head of the army and navy. I go further, and say, that to save the Presidential office from going into the hands of one who would compromise with the rebels I, would vote for a candidate far more unsound on slavery than the severest abolition critic might judge either Lincoln or Fremont to be. But were there no such danger, I would sternly refuse to vote for any man who recognizes, either in or out of the Constitution, a law for slavery, or who would graduate any human rights, natural or political, by the color of the skin.

This disposition to meddle with things before their time is one that has manifested itself, and worked badly, all the way through the war. The wretched attempts at “Reconstruction” are an instance of it. “Reconstruction” should not so much as have been spoken of before the rebellion was subdued. I hope that by that time all loyal men, the various doctrines and crotchets to the contrary notwithstanding, will be able to see that the seceded States did, practically as well as theoretically, get themselves out of the Union and Nation — as effectually out as if they had never been in. Our war with Mexico ended in a treaty of peace with her. Doubtless our war with the South will end in like manner. If we are the conqueror, the treaty will, I assume, be based on the unconditional surrender of the South. And then the South, having again become a portion of our nation, Congress will be left as free to ordain the political divisions of her territory, as it was to ordain those of the territory we conquered from Mexico. Next in order, Congress will very soon, as I have little doubt, see it to be safe and wise to revive our old State lines. Nevertheless, I trust, that such revival would never be allowed until Congress should see it to be clearly safe and wise. We hear much of the remaining constitutional rights of the loyal men in the seceded States. But they, no more than their rebellious neighbors, have such rights. It is true that the rebellion is their misfortune instead of their crime. Nevertheless, it severed every political cord as well between the nation and themselves as between the nation and those rebellious neighbors. The seceded States embarked in a revolution, which swept away all the political relations of all their people, loyal as well as disloyal. Such is the hazard, which no man, however good, can escape from. If the major part or supreme power of his State carries it to destruction, he is carried along with it. A vigilant, informed, active, influential member of his body politic does it therefore behoove every good man to be. In his haste for “Reconstruction,” the President went forward in it — whereas he is entitled to not the least part in it, until Congress has first acted in it. In the setting up of military or provisional governments, as we proceed in our conquests, his is the controlling voice — for he is the military head of the nation. But in regard to the setting up of civil governments in the wake of those conquests, he is entitled to no voice at all until after Congress has spoken. Another instance of meddling with things before their time is this slapping of the face of France with the “Monroe Doctrine.” I was about to say that doing so serves but to provoke the enmity of France. There is, however, one thing more which it provokes and that is the ridicule of the world. For us, whilst the rebels are still at the throat of our nation, and may even be at her funeral, to be resolving that we will protect the whole Western Continent from the designs of the whole Eastern Continent, is as ludicrous a piece of impotent bravado as ever the world laughed at. And still another instance of our foolish prematureness is the big words in which we threaten to punish the leaders of the rebellion. It would be time enough for these big words when we had subdued the rebellion and captured the leaders. In the mean time there should be only big blows. Moreover, if we shall succeed in getting these leaders into our hands, it will be a question for the gravest consideration whether we should not beg their pardon instead of punishing them. What was it that stirred up the rebellion? The spirit of slavery. That alone is the spirit by means of which Southern treason can build up a fire in the Southern heart whose flames shall burst out in rebellion. Slavery gone from the South, and there will never more be rebellions there to disturb the peace and prosperity in which North and South will ever after dwell together. Who was the guiltier party in feeding and inflaming that spirit? The pro-slavery and preponderant North. The guiltier North it was, that had the more responsible part in moulding the leaders of the rebellion. Does it then become this guiltier North to be vengeful toward these her own creations—her own children ?—and, what is more, vengeful toward them for the bad spirit which she herself had so large a share in breathing into them? — for the Satanic character which she herself did so much to produce in them? But I shall be told that the North has repented of her in upholding slavery, and thereby furnishing the cause of the rebellion; and that the South should have followed her example. But if her repentance did not come until after the rebellion broke out, then surely it came too late to save her from responsibility for the rebellion. Has it, however, come even yet? I see no proof of it. I can see none so long as the American people continue to trample upon the black man. God can see none. Nor will he stay his desolating judgments so long as the American Congress, instead of wiping out penitently and indignantly all fugitive slave statutes, is infatuated enough to be still talking of “the rights of slaveholders,” and of this being “a nation for white men.” Assured let us be, that God will never cease from his controversy with this guilty nation until it shall have ceased from its base and blasphemous policy of proscribing, degrading, and outraging portions of his one family. The insult to him in the persons of his red and black children, of which Congress was guilty in its ordinance for the Territory of Montana, will yet be punished in blood, if it be not previously washed out in the tears of penitence. And this insult, too, whilst the nation is under God’s blows for like insults! What a silly as well as wicked Congress! And then that such a Congress should continue the policy of providing chaplains for the army! Perhaps, however, it might be regarded as particularly fit for such a Congress to do this. Chaplains to pray for our country's success whilst our country continues to perpetrate the most flagrant and diabolical forms of injustice! As if the doing of justice were not the indispensable way of praying to the God of justice! It is idle to imagine that God is on the side of this nation. He can not be with us. For whilst he is everywhere with justice, he is nowhere with injustice. I admit that he is not on the side of the rebellion. From nothing in all his universe can his soul be further removed than from this most abominable of all abominations. If we succeed in putting it down, our success, so far as God is concerned, will be only because he hates the rebellion even more than he hates our wickedness. To expect help from him in any other point of view than this, is absurd. Aside from this, our sole reliance must be, as was the elder Napoleon's, on having “the strongest battalions.” I believe we shall succeed — but that it will be only for the reasons I have mentioned — only because we are the stronger party and that God is even more against the rebels than he is against us. How needful, however, that we guard ourselves from confounding success against the rebellion with the salvation of the nation! Whether the nation shall be saved is another question than whether the rebellion shall be suppressed. In the providence of God, even a very wicked nation may be allowed to become a conqueror — may be used to punish another wicked nation before the coming of its own turn to be conquered and punished. But a nation, like an individual, can be saved only by penitence and justice.

SOURCES: Gerrit Smith, Speeches and Letters of Gerrit Smith (from January 1863, to January 1864), on the Rebellion, Volume 2, p. 14-8

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, November 13, 2018

Thomas W. Thomas* to Howell Cobb., May 27, 1848

Elberton [ga.], May 27th, 1848.

Dear Sir: Inclosed herewith I send a petition praying Congress to establish a line of stages from the village of Anderson to connect with the Georgia Rail Road, via Elberton. We will be much obliged if you will give yourself the trouble to present it and see that it is acted on and either granted or refused. The impression prevails very generally that such things are always treated with contempt and suffered to die in silence, and I would beg leave to suggest that you take such action in the matter as will be seen in the usual newspaper reports of the proceedings in Congress. Such a course will at least be good policy in this — the people here will see you have done your duty. Petitions for the same purpose as the one inclosed will probably be forwarded by the people of Oglethorpe and Anderson district, but whether these go or not we wish you to act on ours. We stand greatly in need of mail facilities, and if our rights are withheld much longer, I believe the people will secede and form an independent republic bounded by Broad River and Savannah. Such a movement is not only justified by the declaration of independence, but will be in accordance with the spirit of the age. Of the 330 signers a larger proportion than one-tenth sign by “his mark”, — a lamentable but overwhelming proof of the necessity of the light of letters. . . .

Among the names I sent you in the neighborhood of Broad River P. O. was one Henry Stephens. He lately got a speech from you on the Mexican War. He says the Whigs have been lying on Polk about originating the war. He says this speech has Gen. Taylor's letter in it, and it was Taylor “that sent them troops from one river to tother.” We are all curious to know who has been nominated, though we have no anxiety about the result. We have a perfect confidence the Baltimore Convention will give us a man sound on Southern rights. I have not heard a single man express himself for any favorite, though all expect if Polk is not renominated the candidate will be a northern man. Every day serves to strengthen the conviction that we can beat Gen. Taylor as easily as Clay. I can count at least a half dozen Whigs who have pledged themselves not to vote for Taylor on any conditions. I send below a short list of democrats whom I expect you have not got.

* A lawyer and editor of Elberton, Ga.; judge of the superior court of Georgia (northern circuit), 1855-1859; colonel of the Fifteenth Regiment of Georgia infantry in the Confederate army, 1861-1862.

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 105-6

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Henry L. Benning* to Howell Cobb, February 23, 1848

Columbus [ga.], 23d Feby., 1848.

Dear Howell, You ask me to write you soon and fully my views of Cass's letter and Dickinson's resolution. I have had so much to do lately that I could not attempt an answer until now, although your letter of the 3d inst., has been on hand for a fortnight. What you require of me involves, I think, my opinion as to the course which ought to be pursued by the democatic party to secure the next Presidency. On a question of such magnitude I am not prepared to speak with confidence; and yet upon your invitation . . . I will venture a suggestion or two.

First then, I do not object to Mr. Dickinson's resolutions. Still I must say that they are not precisely the thing according to my notion of what the exigency demands. The sins are chiefly sins of omission. The resolutions do not declare what principle ought to govern in the interval between the time of acquiring territory and the time at which the people thereof may choose to settle those “questions of domestic policy”, which it is left to them to settle.

Again, they very indistinctly, if at all, condemn the principle of the Wilmot proviso. If I am not mistaken in that principle, it is that Congress may prohibit slavery in acquired territory as long as it remains territory. Now, Mr. D's resolutions say no more than that Congress cannot do anything inconsistent with the right of the people of the territories to form themselves into States equally sovereign with the old states. The W. Proviso principle is not inconsistent with this right. That which it is inconsistent with is the right of the people of the territories to hold slaves therein if Congress forbids.

Once more, no general principle is announced by the resolutions upon the question of the quantity of territory we ought to require from Mexico in a treaty of peace. Perhaps these omissions are merits, but I venture to think not, and more audacious still, to send you what I deem the remedy in three resolutions, or rather two, ac companying this. The first is new, the second, one of Mr. D's unchanged, and the third is the other of his with some additions important but not in my opinion affecting the abstract principle on which the resolution rests.

Why these alterations? Let us consider for a moment the strength of the two parties in a sectional point of view. We see the Whig majorities, both certain and expected, chiefly in the free states, the Democratic in the slave. We see also already organized in some of the important free states a third party having naturally more sympathy with the Whigs than with the Democrats, and in the other free states no inconsiderable amount of the same third party in the state of raw material. If we add together the votes of the certain free Whig states, 51, and of those in which the abolitionists are supposed by the Whigs to have a casting vote, viz, N. Y. 36, Pa. 26, Ind. 12, Me. 9, N. H. 6, we shall have 51 plus 84 equals 135. Now even allowing for Wisconsin, 143 elects, so that those free states with either Ky. 12, N. C. 11, or Mo. 8, may dictate their man. We see too in New York strong symptoms of this abolition element becoming truly formidable, and in Pa. we distrust somewhat—a very little—the ability of the new soldiers under the banner of free trade to resist the temptation which the enemy will assuredly offer them in the resurrection of the Act of 1842. Further, we behold the Whigs in their conventions, legislatures and public meetings North already adopting the Wilmot Proviso, and on the other hand the Democrats generally ejecting the “perilous stuff” from their stomachs, as witness the letters and speeches of Buchanan, Dallas, Cass, etc., Dickinson's resolutions, and the general tone of the press. Seeing all this and much more of the same sort, are we not obliged to infer as a thing accomplished, 1st: That the Whigs intend to bid for Abolition bodaciously? And 2d: That they can afford to bid higher for it than can the Democrats, supposing the latter base enough to enter the lists? And are we not bound also to admit that true policy demands of the Democrats to endeavor to counteract the effect of the fusion of the two factions into one? Can this be done at all except by looking to the slave states?

If, however, we carry the slave states, we have but 117 votes. It won't do, then, to hazard the loss of much of our strength in the free states. The problem is to gain South and not lose North. It is the aim of the resolutions which I send you to solve it.

First then, I say that the Whigs reckon without their host when they count upon absorbing abolition, because they will nominate either Clay or Taylor; and the abolitionists, the honestly mad ones, will die at the stake before they will vote for the reprobate who dares say in word or deed that man may hold property in man— may traffic and trade in human flesh—particularly when his opponent will be a non-slaveholder and a patriot competent to utter any amount of innocent but "moral and religious sentiment" against the “peculiar institution.” What says 1844? Has Mr. Clay set his negroes free since? And Genl. Taylor, a sugar planter, on the poisonous banks of the Mississippi; he is in a much worse predicament, beyond the reach of any fable in Æsop, because by his avowed innocence of all knowledge of political questions and by his self-imposed inexorable taciturnity he will not be able even to tell the abolitionists so much as that he believes slavery to be a great moral and political evil.

But suppose this eccentric faction shedding from its humid hair pestilence upon the nations shall, contrary to the best founded expectations, flying from its orb, sink into the sun of Whiggery. Console yourself because you could not by any possibility prevent it, and because all will not be lost. Democracy will have over-balancing accessions from other sources. The last four years have been fruitful in the product of every good thing, including voters, both indigenous and naturalized. It is not extravagant, I think, for our party to reckon upon two thirds of the former and nine tenths of the latter. Why there are but three modes, or rather two and a half, suggested for conducting the war — to fight, to tax, and to take — which is one; to back clean out of a conquered country, telling the cutthroats that we were unrighteously, unconstitutionally, and damnably there from the first, which is two — to back partly out to an unnamed line, going we only know from ocean to ocean, across the continent where it is all desert and mountain, and there to fight to the very death, provided always that any enemy should dare come up and knock a chip off of Jonathan's head — which is half a one. Now, will any but the old fools (of all fools the worst you know) take up with the second or third of these plans? The young have no more sense than to believe that war is war—blood, chains, gold, territory, and no more “sentiment” than to smite, to rivet, to sieze, and to annex. They feel that woe to the vanquished is weal to the victor. We may call these young fellows ours. How many are there? The New York Herald says 800,000 — two thirds of that number are 530,000, half of which 260.000 would be the excess in our favor. Of them 160 or 170 thousand are in the free states. Then the naturalized vote must be quite large. Again, how Democratic the Army is becoming, even the regulars. Every letter from it will be a personal appeal to father, brother, friends, to put down those who give aid and comfort to the enemy. Above all, our annexation policy must bring recruits from all classes and quarters. All this being so, are we not able to despise the nauseous compound?

How, then, are we to “gain South”? I say by the principle contained in the last clause of the third of the resolutions, declaring that citizens of the slave states may settle with their slaves in the acquired territory until such time as the people thereof see fit to forbid it by legislation. The adoption of this will not carry a single slave into such territory, not one, but it will carry many a vote into the ballot box. Mere barren option, never to be availed of tho' it is, still the candidate who refused it could not at the South in a contest with one who conceded it stand a fire of blank cartridges. What Hotspur felt is nature:

I'd give thrice as much land to any well deserving friend.
But in the way of Bargain I'd cavil on the ninth part of a hair.

But won't its adoption do us more harm at the North than even so much good as this at the South can outweigh? It is not possible. Remember how far Dickinson's untouched resolutions go. These say “it is best” (mind you only expediency) to leave questions of domestic policy, that is whether there shall or shall not be slavery, to the people of the territory. So then it is best to let the people there make it a slave territory if they will. Going thus far will not damage us, it is agreed. Why? Because the good sense of the people North sees that such a permission is a mere vanity. Like laying duties upon cotton — or coal at Newcastle. Now how much further does my amendment go? It only affirms that it is best (expediency too) on many momentous accounts to permit the citizens of all the states to have an equal right of removal into the acquired territory and of holding there as property whatever they held as such where they came from. It does not affirm that such “citizens” have a right to do this or that Congress has not the right to forbid it. The constitutional question, so difficult, such a tool of death in the hands of madmen whether at the North or the South, is honorably and fairly got rid of, as indeed it is in Dickinson's original resolution to the extent to which it goes. For the most that can be made out of the expression “by leaving”, “by permitting” is that it is doubtful whether Congress has power on this subject “to bind and to loose” and therefore that it ought not to interfere to do either. Now, if the reasons assigned by Buchanan, Cass, etc., are sufficient to prove the harmlessness of leaving the question of slavery to the people of the territory, they are equally sufficient to prove the harmlessness of permitting all citizens to remove into the territory with their slaves and there to hold them in bondage. Those reasons amount to this, that the interest of slaveholders will prevent them from wishing to cross the Rio Bravo with their slaves, and so of course the people to pass the laws on the subject to slavery, being all non-slaveholders, will prohibit it. Why is it the interest of the slaveholder to keep away? On account of incompatibility of soil, climate, productions, danger of loss by facilities for escape, and on account of the region being now by the laws of Mexico free. Every one of these reasons will still affect the interest of the slaveholder to the same extent if my amendment should be adopted. It may be said that one of those reasons, viz: that drawn from the fact that the territory is now by law free and a slave going there would become free on touching the soil, would not apply if slave owners were “permitted” to take their slaves and hold them as such in the territory. Practically it is all the same. I submit that a prudent slaveholder will be as shy of putting himself and his slaves in the power of Mexican laws to be made, as of those already made. Very well. The good sense of Northern Democracy can as easily see this as the other. and the prospect of carrying Ky., N. C., and Md., with the principle, and of losing S. C. and all that she can influence, without it, will make the scales fall from their eyes in a trice. One thing is never to be forgotten, that committed as the party is, it cannot in its wildest dreams hope for the vote of an abolitionist, and further, that the action of the abolitionists as a party as to keeping embodied or subsiding into Whiggery will depend upon what the Whigs do and not upon anything that we can do, unless we undo all that we have done. In such a case ought we not to follow the dictates of ordinary prudence?

If the war continues we ought to proclaim some such principle as that embodied in the first resolution. If we elect our man with that as one of bur battle cries, be sure Mexico won't waste minutes before she will come with a decent proposition for peace. And I think the sooner the thing is done the better. Let it have time [to] feel its way into grace and favor and for the Whigs to commit themselves against it. However, as to “grace and favor”, there is no fear that it will need friends. True, we shall continue to hear the dog-in-the-manger growl of the Charleston Mercury. He has been so long only showing his teeth that we have come to believe that is all they were made for. All North it will out run the Cholera, as Prince John said to Jesse.1 Bye the bye, I have just seen the N. Y. Herald's account of the Utica convention. The address is able, not so well written as that of the Albany convention. There is one good thing in it, the declaration that they don't make W. Provisoism a test, a sine qua non. This being so, it has occurred to me that our Baltimore convention could not by any possibility have evidence enough presented to it to decide which to admit, Hunkers or Barnburners, nor the heart to risk making martyrs of the innocent, to the triumph of the guilty, and that therefore it would be obliged as a matter of sheer conscience not to be at home to New York but still to do a good part by her all the same as if she were admitted inside. That is, nominate some man staunch, staunch as Chimborazo, on all the test questions, the sine qua nons, so that both divisions of the democracy may be gratified. Howell, I am death for Equity. Now, equality is equity. By presenting such a candidate the two wings will “spread” themselves in rivalry to speed the common body. What do you think of this. Bright, ain't it.

Well, this is the hand which I want to deal you at Baltimore. I am bound to say that there are some good cards in it. And anybody can play it. Genl. Cass is a good old man, Dallas is a gentleman, Buchanan is touched with the tariff, a man of vigor, tho’, very great, sufficient doubtless to bear letting that drop out of his veins. I care not so much for the player as the cards.

Yes, the grand thing for success is harmony, unanimity in the principles and measures to be sent before the country in the address and resolutions respecting the war question and the territory question, chiefly the last. You Democrats in the House have nothing to do, being a minority, except to ascertain this common ground, compare notes, yield a little, and it will be yielded unto you. Keep the slavery question out of the way of any public discussion in the convention. What the convention does ought to be done without delay, without fuss, with perfect unity and perfect unanimity. Let its work instantly spring forth complete in every part, like Minerva from the head of Jupiter. If there is a will there is a way. There are Democrats in Congress from nearly every State, and what they can all agree upon be sure they can get their several state delegations to Baltimore to agree upon. And then, out of abundance of caution, let one member of Congress, if possible, from each state go down to Baltimore as a lobby member, an organ of assimilation. You know we shall all be strangers to one another. Why can't we organize victory. I see I have written reams. It shows at least that I take interest in the cause and that I am disposed to accomplish the object of your letter, that is (ain't it?) to enable you fellows at Washington to find out which way the wind blows. Write to me again. Speak out. Condemn what I have proposed if it ought to be done, tell me what's better — above all tell me the probable “platform” as well as the man. Dix and Shunk I forgot about. Either will do well, so far as I am at present advised.

P. S. — Tell Iverson I will answer his in a day or two, and show him this. I don't care who sees it.

Send me the address and resolutions of our last convention at Baltimore, if you can do it easily.

[Resolutions enclosed with the foregoing.]

Resolved: That the United States have the intelligence and the virtue and the power to administer with safety, with justice and with equity any quantity of territory which they may honorably acquire from any foreign nation.

Resolved: That true policy requires the government of the United States to strengthen its political and commercial relations upon this continent by the annexation of such continuous territory as may conduce to that end and can be justly obtained, and that neither in such acquisition nor in the territorial organization thereof can any conditions be constitutionally Imposed or institutions be provided for or established inconsistent with the right of the people thereof to form a free sovereign state with the powers and privileges of the original members of the confederacy.

Resolved: That in organizing a territorial government for territory acquired by common blood and common treasure, and conferring in its achievement common glory, the principles of self government will be best promoted, the spirit and meaning of the Constitution best observed, the sentiments of justice of equality and of magnanimity best consulted, the self sacrificing love for the Union best maintained and strengthened, and the shining examples of mutual forbearance and compromise set us by our fathers in every dark day of our past career best emulated, by leaving all questions which concern the Domestic policy of such territory to the unrestrained Legislation of the people thereof, and until such legislation forbid, by permitting the citizens of every state to settle therein and to hold as property there whatever they may have held as property in the states from which they came.

* A lawyer of Columbus, Ga., previously a college chum of Howell Cobb's, and always a keen student of public affairs; associate-justice of the supreme court of Georgia, 18531861; brigadier-general in the Confederate army.

1”Prince John” Van Buren, to Jesse Hoyt.

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 97-103

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Lother J. Glenn to Howell Cobb, February 12, 1848

Mcdonough [ga.], Feby. 12, '48.

Dear Sir: . . . I may be mistaken, but such is the fierceness of the opposition of the Whigs to the Mexican war that I apprehend an increase of taxes for the purpose suggested by you, by the last Legislature, would not have gone down well with the people.

They (the Whigs in this county) are even making a “great to do” over the appropriations for bringing home the remains of Cols. McIntosh and Echols. I believe however with Mr. Brown, in the war meeting at New York, that there is a “just God” and that retributive justice will yet overtake them, though just here they seem confounded hard to “run down.”

You ask me to explain the vote in the Senate on the preamble to the Taylor resolutions. I will do it to the best of my recollection, remarking at the outset that I was not one of the “six” who voted against it. If I recollect aright, the Preamble set forth nothing but the military qualifications of Taylor, concluding with the declaration that he had “mind or intellect” enough to make a president. When the vote was about to be taken on the “preamble and resolutions” Mr. Forman (a Democratic Senator) called for a division of the preamble from the resolutions. I begged him to withdraw his call, in order that we might vote upon the whole. Refusing to do so, I thought at the time that I was compelled to vote for the Preamble, though the next morning he and myself, I recollect, expressed our regret that we had done so, and I moved a reconsideration of the whole action of the Senate upon the subject, which was lost by one vote, “Waters voting against it though he had promised me to vote for it. I regret that the resolutions did not pass the House, for then the Whigs of Georgia would have another obstacle in their way of going into a convention. It seems from the “signs of the times” that the contest in the Democratic Convention will lie between Cass and Woodbury. Between them it would be with me a difficult matter to decide. I have always admired the sternness of Mr. Woodbury in advocating the rights of the South, and believe there is no firmer or purer man. Since Genl. Cass's letter to Nicholson made its appearance, I confess much if not all of the doubt and suspicion that before rested upon my mind relative to his soundness on the “Wilmot Proviso” has been removed, and perhaps he would be stronger in the South than Mr. W. or any other Northern man. I am with you, however, in the support of the “nominee” of the convention, provided he be sound on the slavery question. I was much pleased with the “skeleton” of your speech, in the Intelligencer. You brought to light one vote in the house, which I have long wanted to see, and that was the amendment of the New York Member to confine Genl. Taylor in his operations to the east bank of the Rio Grande, or rather to bring him back to the “undisputed territory of the U. States” . . . .

P. S.—I have a serious notion of moving to Atlanta in the course of the present year. What think you of the step, so far as professional prospects are concerned?

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 95-6

Monday, September 3, 2018

Luther J. Glenn* to Howell Cobb, December 1, 1847

Milledgeville [ga.], December 1, 1847.

Dear Sir: After a four days’ discussion in the Senate on the Wilmot proviso and the war and the acquisition of Territory, the vote was taken last night. The Whigs took high ground against the war and denounced it as infamous and iniquitous. They also went against any further acquisition of territory, occupying pretty much the position of Mr. Clay in his Lexington speech. You will see that a resolution was introduced declaring that the people of Georgia will adhere to the Missouri Compromise line in the division of territory that may hereafter be acquired by the General Government. It was lost by a vote of 20 to 26. Of the twenty who voted for it, 18 are D. and 2 Whigs; of those who voted against it 21 are Whigs and 5 Democrats. I think the Democrats who voted against it, were the vote to be taken over, would record their votes in favor of it. As for the Whigs, they are right in a political point of view, in opposing it, if they desire to preserve the unity of the party North and South.

The Whigs I think will endeavour to nominate Genl. Taylor for the Presidency. One of them, to wit Clayton, asked me this morning if I would not vote for resolutions of that character.

The Legislature will hardly adjourn till after Christmas. I know it will not, if the business even now before it be acted upon. . . .

* A Democrat of Athens, Ga., at this time a member of the Georgia legislature.

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 89

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Thomas R. R. Cobb to Howell Cobb, June 23, 1847

Athens [ga.], June 23rd, [1847]

Dear Bro., I have today got the copy deed and send you a copy immediately. All are pretty well. No news from Taylor. News by the Caledonia just got here. For myself I want no mediation from England. She meddles too much in our affairs anyhow. I am opposed to this Government dismembering Mexico. Let us whip her decently and give her a good government, such as the people wish. If they afterwards wish to be annexed we can do it. I am for extending the area of freedom, but not by war. The odious doctrine upon which Britain acts of taking territory for the expenses of the war is anti-Democratic. Let the glory of our government be that not one citizen lives under its laws that is not there by choice. . . .

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 88

Friday, July 13, 2018

John B. Lamar to Howell Cobb, June 24, 1846

MACON [GA.], June 24th, 1846

Dear Howell, In a previous letter I mentioned that there was, with few exceptions, a patriotic spirit among the Whigs to sustain the country in the war against Mexico. So there was as long as the first generous impulse lasted. But a change has come over the spirit of their dream. And I do verily believe if the raising of volunteers had been postponed to this time the Whig leaders and presses would take such an attitude as to prevent any member of their party from volunteering, thereby making, literally, a Democratic war. They are perfectly rabid. The tone of their editorials and conversations on the subject of the administration and the war generally is of such a virulent character as to be actually loathsome. I had no idea that the rancor of party spirit, as potent as it is, could carry men so far from all just ideas of patriotism, when the country is engaged in a war.

They are now looking on the action of Congress with regard to the tariff with the eagerness of hyenas and jackals, waiting only for the onslaught to be over to rush on to the work of mutilation. The duty on tea and coffee is the object on which they gloat. It is there they expect — if the duty is laid — to find a vulnerable point to go before the prejudices of the people with during the next Congressional campaign. They already smile a malignant smile in anticipation of the havoc they expect to deal with this pitiful weapon. And in order to render it effective they are preparing the way ingeniously by industriously endeavouring to dampen or extinguish altogether every ardent feeling in their party for the success of our arms in the contest with the Mexicans. If they can succeed in making the rank and file of their party feel as little interest as themselves in the matter, and the apathy spreads into our ranks, they will then have a fair field for clap-trap. But if, as I think must be the case in spite of their treasonable purposes, the people of both parties continue to look with interest to our army and its operations, they will signally fail. They underrate the patriotism and intelligence of the people. During times of peace and quiet the people collectively, like individual men, are easily appealed to through the pocket nerve. A penurious man, if every generous sentiment is not extinguished by avarice, will make sacrifices for a brother who requires his aid; and a mass of men, penny saving tho' they be, when the honor of their country is at stake will feel a generous emotion of patriotism arise in their breasts and stifle every petty feeling of avarice.

When the cry of tea and coffee is proclaimed from the stump, as it will be, it can be easily met by telling how Ward and Fannin were butchered; the mangled corpses of Cross and the soldiers who fell into the hands of the Mexicans will raise a feeling stronger than the strongest decoction of which coffee is capable. And then Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma will rouse feelings of pride, and every man, woman and child is vulnerable there. The victories achieved by our army all feel a personal interest in. A man may be very peacefully inclined, but still he loves military glory in a secret corner of his heart and is proud to be one of a nation who can exhibit its strength on the battle field. Men have a very ingenious way of appropriating a share in such things to themselves, altho' they have had no hand in the matter. If you ever noticed it, a man from Massachusetts is prouder than one from Connecticut. And a South Carolinian is haughtier than a Georgian, because there have been more battles fought in the former than the latter. A Massachusetts man, see him where you will, looks and feels like he was a cap stone of the Bunker Hill monument. And a S. Carolinian supposes that when you see him it naturally reminds you of Eutaw, and the Cowpens. I have observed this propensity to identify one's self with the glories of his locality carry itself from deeds to the capabilities of the soil. Thus, notice most men from Mississippi, and they seem to feel like the personification of an acre of land which could produce a 500 weight bag of cotton without the aid of manure, while a gentleman from North Carolina where the soil has not so much a reputation abroad, is usually not so assuming in his bearing. This is an odd fancy of my own, but nevertheless men are very proud of noble deeds done by others if there is the least excuse for appropriating any tithe of it however indirectly, and appeal to a man's pride of country and he is vulnerable. No talk about coffee can compete with a fanfaronade about roaring cannon and charging squadrons. Every man is at heart a soldier, altho' he may never have borne a musket or seen a bomb shell fired from a mortar. His ignorance of such things only increases his respect and admiration. I think you may feel safe about the coffee if I am any judge of human nature, especially as you can spare a few voters who may be devotees to that beverage. But if you charge yourself with a full load of Mexican cruelty and perfidy and of American chivalry, you will find few people proof against it. There are few men in your district who will admit that they would not if called on "fight, bleed and die" in defense of their country; to pay a few cents more on the pound for coffee to raise money to support our volunteers who have gone to Mexico, is much cheaper when they consider it maturely than "bleeding and dying," however patriotic the latter evolutions may be. Tell a man that a regiment composed of 930 enthusiastic Georgians have gone to defend the honour of the country and expose themselves to the rigours of an almost tropical climate, while he is left at home to make and gather his crop and enjoy the society of his family and the comforts of home, and all that is required of him is to pay a few cents on a pound of coffee to sustain the brave fellows, and he will see at once that he has decidedly the best of the bargain, even putting it on the score of dollars and cents. If in addition to this the duty on iron and sugar is reduced the proposition will be a plainer one and leave but little fulcrum space for the lever which the Whigs are calculating on wielding with such effect.

P.S. — I shall not go north before you return, if at all. I shall go to your house and spend most of my summer, I think.

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 82-4

Friday, June 15, 2018

Howell Cobb To Mary Ann Lamar Cobb, June 4, 1846

Washington City, 4th June, 1846.

My Dear Wife, . . . The prospect of winning much glory in the battle field is growing extremely unpromising. The news from Mexico indicates that the war there is fast drawing to a close, and it is now anticipated with much certainty that in a very short time our peaceful relations will be restored with that ill fated people. With England too the bow of peace spans our horizon. The last accounts from Great Britain have quieted all fears of a rupture with her about Oregon. So much so that in both countries the opinion is generally indulged and freely expressed that the Oregon dispute may be considered as approaching its final and peaceful adjustment. It is reported here that Mr. Pakenham has received instructions from his government to offer a settlement on the basis of 49° and the [mutual?] free navigation of the Columbia river. If this be true, we shall soon see a treaty to that effect made and ratified by the Senate, much to the disappointment of us 54.40 men, though in the end we shall be benefited by the result so far as popularity and public confidence is concerned . . .

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 79-80

Monday, June 11, 2018

Braxton Bragg to William T. Sherman, November 13, 1859

Near Thibodaux, La., November 13, 1859.

My Dear Sherman: It was a great pleasure to receive your note from Baton Rouge, and I sincerely hope that we may soon meet. I should have written to you at once on seeing your election to the important position you are to fill, but did not know where to find you. The announcement gave me very great pleasure, though my influence to some extent was given against you, never dreaming you could be an aspirant. I had united with many gentlemen in New Orleans to recommend Professor Sears, with whom I have no acquaintance, but simply on the ground of his being a graduate of West Point. Indeed, my letter was general, and might have applied to any graduate. Had I known your application I should have attended personally to forward your wishes. But as it is all is well.

Since seeing your appointment I have taken pains to try and advance the institution, and several friends speak of sending their sons. Whatever is in my power will be most cheerfully done for your personal interest, and for the institution generally. We must meet, but it is impossible for me to leave home now. Until nearly Christmas I shall be overrun with business, or rather confined by it. We are in the midst of [sugar] manufacturing, and a cold spell is now on us which inflicts a heavy loss every day lost. I even work on Sunday from this time to the end.

At home I have leisure, and am most happy to see friends. Kilburn,14 who is stationed in the city, [is] coming tomorrow to spend a few days. Why can't you do so? You can take dinner with me after breakfast in the city. Kilburn can put you in the way, should you have time to come down. I heard something of your misfortunes,15 and sympathised most deeply with you, but it is not too late for a man of your energy and ability to repair such a disaster.

Your institution I hope will prove a success. It is fairly endowed and has strong and enthusiastic friends. Among them you will find the master spirit my friend, General G. Mason Graham. My acquaintance with him was very short, but very agreeable. Friendships formed under the enemy's guns ought to last.16 I knew he liked me, and I admired his gallantry and devotion. Present my regards to him. You may safely trust to his friendship. Our new governor17 will be your friend, too. He is a plain man, but of excellent character, business habits and very large fortune, placing him above temptation and demagogery. Your professor of mathematics, a foreigner,18 is very highly spoken of; the others I do not know.

Mrs. Sherman and the little ones are not with you I suppose from your not mentioning them. We should be most happy to see them when they come to join you. In the meantime, when you can see enough to form any plan, let me hear from you again, and when and where we may meet. About January 1, I expect to be in Baton Rouge.

Accept my cordial wishes for your success, and happiness.


14 An officer in the commissary department, United States Army. — Ed.
15 The failure of the banking firms with which Sherman had been connected. — Ed.
16 Bragg and Graham had served together in the Mexican War. — Ed.
17 Thomas O. Moore who was to take office in January, 1860. — Ed.
18 Dr. Anthony Vallas, an Hungarian. — Ed.

SOURCE: Walter L. Fleming, Editor, General W.T. Sherman as College President, p. 52-4

Thursday, June 7, 2018

William Hope Hull* to Congressman Howell Cobb, May 22, 1846

Athens [ga.], May 22,1846.

Dear Howell, We are pretty quiet here in the midst of the general war fever. I believe there will be an effort made to raise a company for Texas, but I doubt its success. Clarke county is too much under the influence of Whiggery to have much enthusiasm in the matter. By the way, speaking of the Texas question, I am afraid the Democratic party is about to take untenable ground about the boundary there. The Rio de Norte is the western boundary, but not for its whole course. No possible logic can prove that Santa Fe and the other towns on the east side of the river on its upper streams, were ever a portion of Texas. The true line would leave the river somewhere above Mier, and follow the mountains north, leaving a large section between the line and the upper parts of the river. You may think all this very superfluous on my part, but I have not yet seen the distinction drawn by any one in Congress, nor by Ritchie, and you may depend upon it is a serious consideration and worthy of attention. I think you seem a little “riled” that your friends here have not taken up the cudgels on your behalf on the 54.40 question. We acted, as we thought, for the best, not only for you but for the party. If an attempt had been made to rally the party upon the “whole of Oregon” I do verily believe it would have split us in fragments, and for aught I can see would have given the Whigs and “moderate men” a majority. But by letting the thing be quiet and not fanning the embers of opposition, I think that all disaffection will die away and produce no unpleasant consequences. The same way we reason about a convention. I have no question that there is opposition to you in the breasts of some professed Democrats, but it has taken no open and distinct form, and if no fuss is made it will die of itself; but if we called a convention, though (I beg you to observe) I have no doubt as to the issue and am not at all afraid but that you would break down your opponents and be nominated and elected in spite of them, — still feelings might be engendered and factions started which might do us very serious injury hereafter. For this reason we thought it best to say nothing until towards August or thereabouts, when our papers will put up your name as a matter of course; and I presume there will be no opposition. In the meantime, however, if a call is made for a convention by your enemies, we shall not object, but shall go into it confident of a decided majority for you. I have given you with perfect candor my views on the subject, in which I concur with the most of your friends in Athens. Mr. Calhoun has killed himself about here as far as Democratic support goes. I have not heard the first Democrat sustain his course on the War bill. If he intended to quit us he could not have chosen a time nor a topic on which he could do us less harm in Georgia. . . . You speak in yours of the prospect of a settlement of the Oregon dispute. I am unable to see the signs of it in anything that has come to my knowledge. I wish you would let me into the secret in your next. . . .

*A neighbor and warm personal and political friend of Cobb.

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 78-9

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Thomas R. R. Cobb * to Howell Cobb, May 12, 1846

Athens, Ga., May 12, 1846.

My Dear Brother, . . . Toombs misrepresented me on the Oregon question. The Senate's Resolutions as amended by Owen met my hearty approbation. I preferred that there should be embodied in the resolutions a willingness to negotiate during the 12 mos.

Nobody talks of Oregon now. It is Mexico and War. I never saw the people more excited. A volunteer company could be raised in every county in Georgia. Our government has permitted itself to be insulted long enough. The blood of her citizens has been spilt on her own soil. It appeals to us for vengeance. Can we hesitate to deal out a just retribution? It is the general opinion here that England is pulling the wires. The quicker we know it the better. Let Congress act and that quickly. . . .

* Brother of Howell Cobb, a lawyer and author of a digest of the laws of Georgia, 1851, and of a legal treatise on slavery, 1858. He was not active In politics until the secession crisis In 1860-61. He became a brigadier-general in the Confederate army, and was killed in the battle of Fredericksburg.

SOURCE: Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, Editor, The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1911, Volume 2: The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens, and Howell Cobb, p. 76-7