Showing posts with label Secessionists. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Secessionists. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Jonathan Worth to Springs, Oak & Co., May 13, 1861

ASHEBORO, May 13th, 1861.

I have just returned from Raleigh. The State regards the impending war as a sectional one and all seemed determined to repel it. A large majority up to the issuing of Lincoln's proclamation were firm for the Union. Some of us would have made any sacrifice to preserve it. The small concessions made by the last Congress had strengthened us. Lincoln prostrated us. He could have devised no scheme more effectual than the one he has pursued, to overthrow the friends of Union here. Whether this was his design in order to make war upon slavery, or his purpose only what he professes, we are in doubt. [Next three lines illegible.] Whatever may be his purpose, any sensible man could foresee, and this act of his will prove, that he is the most efficient auxiliary of the secessionists. I have been the most persevering and determined public man in my State to preserve the Union—the last to abandon the hope, that the good sense of the Nation would prevent a collision between the extremes, each of which I viewed with equal abhorrence. I am left no other alternative but to fight for or against my section. I can not hesitate. Lincoln has made us a unit to resist until we repel our invaders or die. I can see no hope in the future, whatever may be the issue of the fight, which now seems inevitable. The best chance for ultimate re-union would be a peaceable separation.

Our Legislature is terrible. You will have seen our new stay law. All collection for creditors at home and abroad is cut off, without any security to creditors.

Will you please let me know how accts. stand between me and you? I intend to pay the little I owe North and South, if I can be permitted to do so without being a traitor.

Read Gov. Graham's speech to the Hillsboro volunteers, published in the Standard this week. It is a true exponent of the views of all quondam Union men here.

PHILADELPHIA, PA.

SOURCE: J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton, Editor, The Correspondence of Jonathan Worth, Volume 1, p. 143

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Jonathan Worth to Gaius Winningham, May 20, 1861

ASHEBORO, May 20, '61.

Knowing that you are an ardent personal and political friend and that you cannot hear well, and that you are concerned on account of the slanders which my ignoble political opponents are industriously circulating, not to promote the good of the country by breaking me down, but to gratify personal malevolence—I desire to say to you that I have changed no political opinion I have heretofore maintained.

I still firmly believe in the wisdom and virtue of Washington and the early promoters of our government and that war. no other divided government can ever be built up so good as the United one we are pulling down—and hence I abhor the Northern Abolitionist and the Southern Secessionist, both co-operating with different objects, to break up the Union, but the whole nation has become mad. The voice of reason is silenced. Furious passion and thirst for blood consume the air. Democracy and Abolition, moved and instigated by the Devil, are the opposing factions. Nobody is allowed to retain and assert his reason. The cartridge box is preferred to the ballot box. The very women and children are for war. Every body must take sides with one or the other of these opposing factions or fall a victim to the mob or lose all power to guide the torrent when its fury shall begin to subside. It is barely possible that the leaders may pause before the carnage fairly sets in. The best chance to produce such pause and prevent war, is for us to show a united purpose to enlist besides, if we must fight, none of us can hesitate to fight for our wives-our homes-our sections. I have therefore concluded to urge our young men to volunteer. Division or hesitation among us will but invite the invasion of the black Republicans. My maxim has always been to choose among the evils around me and do the best I can. I think the annals of the world furnish no instance of so groundless a war—but as our nation will have it—if no peace can be made—let us fight like men for our own firesides.

 I write this for your own personal satisfaction—not for the public eye,—not that I desire to conceal my views, but because in the present frenzied state of the public mind it will be distorted—misrepresented, and can do no good.

SOURCE: J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton, Editor, The Correspondence of Jonathan Worth, Volume 1, p. 148-9

Jonathan Worth to Johnson and Farnsworth, May 22, 1861

ASHEBORO, May 22nd, 1861.

This State is now a perfect unit as the North seems to be. No man desired or worked harder than myself to preserve the Union, but the Abolitionists North and the fire-eaters South have gradually forced everybody into the ranks of the one or the other. In N. C. the Union sentiment was largely in the ascendant and gaining strength until Lincoln prostrated us. Congress having refused to pass the force bill, we felt that the President could abandon Sumter and Pickens without any sacrifice of his principles, but in conformity with the Legislative will. He induced the whole South so to believe. The assurance of Seward to Judge Campbell seems to have been made with deliberate duplicity, and we can not doubt that Mr. Lincoln knew his policy would disarm all Union men in the Southern States. He did more than all the secessionists to break up the Union, but whether he did this, not being statesman enough to comprehend the effect of his measures; or whether his purpose was to drive all the slave States into rebellion, thinking he could bring against us men enough, with the aid of a servile insurrection, to overthrow us and abolish Slavery, we are in doubt. If the Union be restored, the War must at once cease.  Our white population and our slaves will resist to the death. I infer from all I can see that Lincoln's measures have united the North. The have certainly united North Carolina. The North must stop her warlike measures and consent to a severance of the government—or the God of Battles must long gloat over the carnage of alienated brethren. Reason has left. Rage controls both sections.

God save the Country.-

Gov. Graham, as I presume you know, is universally respected for every quality which should commend the regard of good and wise men. He was as strong for the Union as Edward Everett till Lincoln's proclamation. I enclose a late speech of his. Have it published in some of your leading papers. Let good men North and South understand each other.

BOSTON, MASS.

SOURCE: J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton, Editor, The Correspondence of Jonathan Worth, Volume 1, p. 50-1

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Jonathan Worth’s Address to People Of Randolph And Alamance, January 31, 1861

To My Constituents of the Counties of Randolph and Alamance:

On the 28th of February next you are called upon, by the question of a an act of the General Assembly, by your vote to declare whether or not you want a State Convention, restricted to the consideration of our National Affairs; and also, at the same time, to vote for delegates for said Convention, in case a majority of the whole State shall call it. The Act provides that the action of the Convention shall have no validity until ratified by a vote of the people. I voted against this act because neither the Constitution of the United States, nor of this State, contemplates any such convention, and because I can see no way by which it can do any good, and I fear it may do much mischief. Such a convention is a modern invention of South Carolina, to bring about a sort of legalized revolution. It has been adopted in most of the Southern States. All its original advocates were disunionists. Wherever such a convention has assembled, it has asserted the power to sever the State from the Union, and declare it an independent government. Under my oath to support the Constitution of the United States, I could not vote to call a convention to overthrow that instrument. I thought it improper for the General Assembly to ask you whether you want an unconstitutional Convention. What can it do o lt can do nothing only as a revolutionary body. Everybody looks for a remedy for our national troubles, to an amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The Fifth Article of the Constitution of the United States prescribes two modes of amendment. I give you the words:

“The Congress, whenever two-thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution; or on the application of the Legislatures of two-thirds of the several States shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid, for all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratifical by the Legislatures of three-fourths of the several States, or by conventions in three-fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress.”

Our wise fathers did not intend that the great fundamental law—the Constitution—should be lightly altered. If bare majorities of the popular vote could have altered it, a written Constitution would have been idle.

You will see that there are two constitutional modes of amendment. Congress has been endeavoring to agree on amendments. There is little prospect that two-thirds of both houses can agree on anything. The members were all elected as partizans. Many of them have indulged in crimination and recrimination in mutual abuse of each other till they are not in the temper to act as patriots and statesmen. They have become excited—excited men rarely act prudently and wisely. The other mode of amendment has not been tried. Shall we not try all constitutional modes of amendment before we resort to strange and unconstitutional modes? That other mode seems peculiarly adapted to our present condition. Let a National Convention be called. Surely two-thirds of the State will join in such a call. If called, it is hoped wise and discreet men, not men lately engaged in party strife, will be called to fill it. Can anybody doubt that such an assembly could compose the National commotions. I do not doubt it. The provision for such a convention, in common with all their works, shows the forecast and wisdom of our fathers. In such an assembly, composed of calm and prudent men, all sections could be heard, could interchange views, each could make some concessions to the feelings and prejudices of others, the same sort of concession we all have to make to each other in religion, morals, and everything else, which makes civilized society.

They would agree on a basis of settlement. In all the States excepting South Carolina, perhaps in a few other Southern States, the people still cherish a love for the name of Washington and for the Union. The doings of such a convention would be likely to be heartily ratified by three-fourths of the States. At all events let no one break up this great Union till we have fully tried all constitutional modes of amendment.

If the proposed State Convention does what its most ardent advocates desire it to do, it will be what all conventions south of us have done—declare the State out of the Union and an independent State. Every artifice will be employed to make you believe that a convention is to be 
called to save the Union. Believe it not. It is true, many members who are Union men voted for submitting it to a vote of the people whether they would have a convention or not, throwing upon you, with little time to consider, a responsibility which I think they should have met themselves. A majority refused to pass an amendment allowing you to endorse on your tickets whether you are for Union or disunion. It will be said that the convention can do no harm since whatever it may do will have no validity till ratified by you. The disunion leaders boldly maintain that the Legislature can not restrict the convention, that it may pass whatever ordinance it pleases, regardless of the restraints attempted to be imposed upon it by the Act of Assembly; and that it may, or may not, at its pleasure, submit its action to the people for ratification. If war begins it will probably be brought on during the sitting of the convention.

It is now the policy of disunionists to postpone hostilities until President Buchanan goes out and President Lincoln comes in. They will probably court a fight as soon as Lincoln takes the reins. If war shall have actually commenced before the convention closes its session, and an ordinance of secession be passed, it is to be feared that its action will not be referred to the people for ratification. Not one of the five States which seceded, though acting under no emergency, has submitted its action to the people for ratification. We have not yet exhausted constitutional remedies. We can not have exhausted them before this convention shall assemble. Believe not those who may tell you this convention is called to save the Union. It is called to destroy it. If you desire to preserve the Union vote “No Convention,” and at the same time, be careful for whom you vote as delegates.

When we shall have seen what the Commissioners shall effect, who are to meet in Washington on the 4th of February, to look for a remedy for the National disturbances, when we shall have called for a National Convention and it shall be refused, or shall have failed to accomplish a pacification, it will be time enough to resort to revolution. I think that those only should vote for a convention who regard disunion as the only remedy for the disease of the times.

I have felt it due to you to present this hasty explanation of my views, on a momentous question on which you are called upon to vote with such extraordinary haste.

To go into a discussion of the ground on which the disunionists claim that we ought to dissolve the Union, would require more time than I could properly withdraw from my legislative duties. I content myself with saying that I have carefully read nearly all the debates in Congress, and I see no sufficient reason for abandoning the counsels of the Father of his Country, and the Government under which we have become the freest and most powerful nation of the earth, and launching, probably through civil war, upon the dark sea of experiment.

JoNAThAN WorTh.
January 31, 1860 [sic]

SOURCES: “Circular,” Fayetteville Semi-Weekly Observer, Fayetteville, North Carolina, published February 7, 1861, p. 2;  J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton, Editor, The Correspondence of Jonathan Worth, Volume 1, p. 129-33

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

George S. Denison to Salmon P. Chase, February 7, 1863

(Private)
New Orleans, February 7th, 1863.

Dear Sir: I wrote you by the last steamer expressing a wish to receive the office of “Commissioner of Internal Revenue” which you so kindly offerred. I now repeat the wish, and am ready to commence operations whenever you direct.

The great military movement up the West side of the Mississippi has commenced to-day or will commence in a day or two. The bayous leading from the Teche and near there, lead right through to Red River, so that light draft boats can go through them above Port Hudson. About 9,000 men will advance in one column.

A rumor prevails here among the secessionists that we have been whipped off Mobile and that Ship Island is captured. The story is without foundation, though you may see it in N. Y. papers. A very strong feeling is arising among the planters against Gen. Banks. The reason is that he is not sufficiently pro-slavery to suit them. I think statements have been sent to Washington that he has commenced speculating. I am confident such charges are entirely false. 1 do not think Gen. Banks a great commander, but believe him to be completely honest.

Admiral Farragut has gone out to sea in his flagship, the "Hartford"—probably for the purpose of visiting the various blockading vessels along the coast.

In my next I shall have occasion to say something more about Dr. Zachary.

SOURCE: Diary and correspondence of Salmon P. ChaseAnnual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1902, Vol. 2, p. 356-7

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

“Red Stick” to Isaac M. Keeler, November 22, 1861

FRIEND KEELER:—As I have a few spare moments I thought I would indite a few lines to you, letting you know that the central division of the American army of the Department of Cumberland is still remaining at this point.  When our large army will move forward it is impossible to tell.  The indications are not very flattering.  I predict that our division of troops will not advance very far from this camp.  It looks as if we would go into winter quarters between this point and Green River.

Our army is large enough for an advance, but it looks as if this was a peaceful war against the rebels.  Our delays are expensive and give the rebels time to fortify.  There is no need of such dilatory action.  Let the war be pushed forward with vigor, for by rapid movements we gain much.  By remaining here, the rebels gain every advantage, and our forces are put to the necessity of reducing strong fortifications.  Our movements could be forward, for if any advantages are to be gained, let our forces gain them.  There is too much red tape governing the action of our army.  We have remained here over five weeks, and winter is upon us, and yet no battle has been fought; no victory tells of the bravery of our men, and no trophies tell of daring exploits, forced marches or hardships endured by our soldiers, for the preservation of the American Union and of Free institutions.  Our army is inactive, but if tried by the Kentucky rebels, they will find us ready and effective.  But it seems as if the army contractors who are plundering from the government treasure are anxious to prolong this war for their own selfish purposes.  But the people are getting tired of such extravagant work.—They demand prompt action and efficient prosecution of this war, until traitors cease to exist and the Banner of the Free waves in triumph over every state in the American Union.

The men around here are secessionists, but to swear the dogs and let them go, seems to be the policy of those in power.  The rebels are constantly getting information from our camp, and reporting our acts to their rebel chieftains.—Here we see the rebel signals very near every night, and our picket guards are within gun shot of the “tarnel red skins,” yet we remain inactive.  But we yield obedience to all orders, however repugnant they may be to our sense of right and justice.  We are government machines set to any tune it may desire to play.

Yesterday our regiment (the 49th) was out on picket guard.  It was a gloomy day, the mud being about knee deep, but it seemed to go well for a change.  Companies A and F were on the extreme right, the farthest from camp and at points where rebel balls have pierced union hearts.  Company A is from Findlay, Ohio; its officers are gentlemen in every sense of the word.  Capt. A. Langworthy is one of God’s noblemen.  He is small in statue [sic], but I don’t think any other little man every had so large a heart.  Lieut. Sam. Gray is considered the best looking man in the regiment and is an able and efficient officer.  Lieut. Davidson was one of the Kansas warriors, and exerted himself to free Kansas from the blighting curse of slavery.  His fame shall live forever.

Lieut. Gray was out last night scouting, and I learn captured a secessionist at a distillery.  The rats get dry, they must come out of their holes.

Yesterday afternoon about dusk, Capt. Bartlett and eight men captured four secessionists, who have been firing upon our picket guards for a long time back without bloodshed.  He went through a defile in the woods to an old forsaken house, where no one would suppose white men would live and found them in the garret asleep.  His entrance around the sleeping villains, but they dare not resist, and surrendered themselves as prisoners.  They were brought into camp this morning amid the hearty plaudits of our volunteers.  They looked hard.

Capt. James Patterson and John, the scout, are now out scouting.  We look for them to-night.  John is a negro and makes a valuable man in the scouting service.

The regiment have received their overcoats.  They are a dark blue.  They boys are satisfied with them, and make a good appearance.

Kentucky’s fairest daughters do not compare with Sandusky county girls.  They are not so large or handsome.  But I find the “school marms” are from the North, hence the people here have some advantages which we enjoy at home.

Our boys have built a bake-oven.  They are great on improvements, and their inventive genius has been let loose.  Daniel Jacobson seems to be ahead so far in that line.  The oven is a perfect success, and better bread cannot be found any where than baked in it.  It is an old fashioned mud oven, and it might be said of it, science directed and Corporal Wilson Executed.

Ours is the Printer Company.  Five printers belong to it, and we will set the type and take impressions when we get to Bowling Green.

Without bragging, our Orderly Sergeant, John Kessler, cannot be beat, search creation over.—He is always ready, ever willing, and always attentive to the wants of the men.  He is respected and loved by all.

Our regimental officers are good.  Col. Wm. H. Gibson is O. K.  The men will fight for Bill until there is nothing left to fight for.  He is familiar with all, but is endowed with Roman firmness, never flinching, and always at his post.  He is the right man in the right place.

Our Lieutenant Colonel is A. M. Blackman, formerly of Fostoria.  He was in the three month’s service, a Captain under Col. Norton in the Ohio 21st regiment.  He left a history in Western Virginia which the rebels will not very soon forget.  He his courageous, able and efficient, and all the proficiency that has been made in drill by the 49th regiment is due to him.

Our Major is Levi Drake, of Putnam county, Ohio.  He was through the Mexican war, is military by practice and inclination, a good officer and a brave man.

Our Chaplain is Rev. E. H. Bush, son of Erastus Bush, of Fremont.  Hi is a gentleman and a scholar, always attentive to the spiritual wants of his men.

Of Adjutant C. N. Norton nothing need be said by me; he is favorably known by all Fremonters.

Col. Crittenden’s 6th Indiana regiment cleaned out Rain’s store and dwelling houses at Nolin.  Rains was connected in burning Bridges.  They took his chimney down, kicked all the siding off of his house and store, and applied his goods to their benefit.  Every thing was thoroughly cleaned out.

Our army is increasing in strength all the time.  Troops are continually pouring in at this point.  Hurry up the 72nd, for we need more men in Kentucky.  Union men of Sandusky county, come to our rescue.  Come and go with us upon the battle-field, and there prove yourselves worthy of your ancestry.  Let it not be said you was unmindful of the deeds of bravery exhibited by George Croghan and his little band of heroes who so nobly defended Fort Stephenson.  Come as the waves come, clearing out every thing in our course.

To-day our Regiment received orders to be ready at a moment’s notice to march.  Where to or when it is not known.

John Tally came here with Col. Gibson and joined Company F.  He used to be a carpenter at Fremont.  He makes a good soldier.

The men in our regiment are in good health, and are always in good condition.  They have been  seriously exposed, but have so far luckily escaped.

Yours truly,
RED STICK.

SOURCE: “Army Correspondence,” The Freemont Weekly Journal, Freemont, Ohio, Friday, November 22, 1861, p. 2.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Letter from “Red Stick,” December 4, 1861

CAMP NEVIS, Ky., December 4, 1861:—I have another opportunity of talking with my pen to you and to the readers of the JOURNAL.  As expected, we are still here, not knowing when we will advance.  Our force here is sufficient for a good hand to hand encounter with the rebels.  So far we are like Old Maids are said to be: “Ready but not wanted!” It is openly proclaimed in camp to-day that we will be able for an advance as soon as one million freemen unite their destiny with ours, and march from their homes in the Great Free West, for they need a body guard at the houses of every man in the State of Kentucky.

This is a singular war and it must be carried on with more regard to the wishers of the rebels than of interest to the country.  The property of well known secessionists must be strongly guarded and protected.  Away with this childish play.  If there is any law let its supremacy be vindicated.  Let the world know that we are capable of self government.  Let us stop boasting of our Nationality, and have a rigid enforcement of all laws.

The health of the 49th regiment is fast improving, and the men are satisfied.  They endure a soldier’s life like old campaigners.  The friends of soldiers in the 49th regiment need have no fears, for no man suffers.  They have plenty to eat of good and substantial food, but our Camp does not abound with luxuries.  It is hard bread, bacon, rice, beef, potatoes, coffee, &c.; the &c. being what is accidently picked up by the men.  They also have sufficient clothes to keep them dry and warm. All that we require of friends at home, is to write us cheering letters and not forget to send us the papers.

On Thanksgiving Day, while our friends in Ohio were living on the fat of the land—I know that in many households a seat was vacant at the festive board by the absence of a son, husband or father, who had gone forth to battle for their country—our Thanksgiving was passed on picket guard!  For thirty-six hours we stood at the post of duty, during the whole of which time it rained very hard.  We were compelled to ford creeks where the water was three feet deep, and during the whole time lived upon two scanty meals.  With the creeks and the rain together we get pretty thoroughly soaked, but not a murmur was heard.

Lieut. Wilcox is on the sick list, but he is now convalescent, and bids fair to soon be entirely recovered.

On the third day of December it snowed all day, and we now have about seven inches of snow, good skating and excellent sleighing.—The boys only regret that the Buckeye girls they left behind could not enjoy the pleasure of a sleigh with them.

Capt. Bartlett and squad of men, have gone out rabbit-hunting.  By the way, the captain is extremely popular with his men.

This morning Capt. Lovejoy accidently shot himself in the mouth with his revolver.  The ball lodged in the upper jaw.  The wound is not considered dangerous.

So far the Paymaster has not made the acquaintance of the 49th regiment, but we are all anxious for an introduction.

In the 49th regiment we have Bob Morris’ Sheep Skin Band, whose music reminds one of the croackings of the bull-frogs in some dismal swamp.  Their music is unearthly and should be abolished.

John Stoner, a Printer boy in Company F, makes a good soldier.

The railroad bridge across salt river has washed away and cut of supplies.  Some regiments are reported as having nothing but bacon and coffee.  With them hard bread would be a luxury.

Winter has come, and with it its pelting storms, but we hope it may not be a “winter of discontent.

We are willing, if necessary, to have the 72nd regiment track the 49th in their victorious marches, through snow-drifts and rivers of ice making our tracks traceable by bloody footsteps upon the frozen snow.  Our blood may chill but our love of country shall remain unchilled forever.

RED STICK.

SOURCE: “Army Correspondence,” The Freemont Weekly Journal, Freemont, Ohio, Friday, December 13, 1861, p. 2.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Brigadier-General Benjamin F. Butler to Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott, April 30, 1861

Headquarters Department of Annapolis, April 30th, 1861

To Lieut. Gen’l. WINFIELD Scott, General in Chief U.S. Army,
WASHINGTON, D.C.

GENERAL: Col. Corcoran, of the Sixty ninth N. Y. Regiment, sent to me under arrest a man calling himself Edward Grandval, whose voluntary examination was taken by me in writing, read over to and signed by him. The evidence upon which he has been arrested has been fully seen and weighed, and from it I find that it is substantially proved that the prisoner lately came to Baltimore from the Capital of the Confederate States; that he went into correspondence with one Beach, the Editor of the Baltimore Sun Newspaper, a known enemy of the Union, and known by the prisoner to be such at the time he entered his service, whatever that service was; that he made a written proposal to Mr. Beach to place himself at or as near as possible to Annapolis, there to gather what information he could of the movements and numbers of the troops, to forward the same to Beach by private hand; that on Friday evening he entered upon that duty, and was engaged about it until yesterday morning when he was arrested.

There was found upon him this engagement which he endeavored to destroy, and also portions of a letter which he said had been written by one Alexander in order to procure him his engagement. All but the latter part and the signature was destroyed. There was evidence that he was lurking around Col. Corcoran's Quarters, endeavoring to obtain information of the men as to the forces of his command, that he attempted to tamper with the men, telling them of the forces of the secessionists and that they were ready to receive them as their brothers if they would come over to them. He had examined the private quarters of Col. Corcoran for papers, had taken there a Revolver. His statement in his examination was transparently improbable, and made no impression upon the mind either of his truthfulness or propriety of conduct. From the evidence I have no doubt that he was sent as a Spy upon our movements, and it is for the Commanding General to direct what course shall be pursued. My own opinion is that the utmost severity is needed towards such a person.

Under the guise of bearer of dispatches and reporters of newspapers we are overrun by the meanest and most despicable kind of Spies, who add impudence and brazen effrontery to traitorous and lying reports with which to injure us. I had forgotten to mention that one part of his engagement was that he was to receive a pass from Gen’l. Trimble. I await orders from Headquarters.

Very respectfully, Yr. Obdt. Servt.
BENJ. F. BUTLER

SOURCE: Jessie Ames Marshall, Editor, Private and Official Correspondence of Gen. Benjamin F. Butler During the Period of the Civil War, Volume 1: April 1860 – June 1862, p. 59-60

Friday, April 26, 2019

George S. Denison to Salmon P. Chase, January 15, 1863

(Private)
New Orleans, January 16th, 1863.

Dear Sir: I have just been informed by Gen. Banks that the expedition to the Teche under Weitzel, was completely successful and accomplished all he intended. The rebels had in the Bayou a large and powerful gunboat called the “Cotton,” which boat got aground below their fortifications. This boat we destroyed. They have no other boats in any of the bayous below Red River.

Gen. Banks can now take the Teche country whenever he pleases. Weitzel's force has returned, but, I judge, Gen. Banks intends occupying the country by flank movement according to suggestions made by me at first.

I hear much complaint of Gen. Banks that he has not accomplished, or prepared to accomplish, anything — that his time is occupied in listening to complaints of secessionists — that four weeks of fine weather have been lost without military operations — that no step has been taken to open the river — and other similar complaints.

Gen. Banks told me this morning, he cannot yet undertake the opening of the river, because he has no cavalry — no transportation — no medicines, &c. He says everything has been done that ought to have been — and that he shall operate up the River at the earliest day possible. I will say one thing strongly in his favor — that he conceals his plans (whatever they may be) perfectly — and I hardly think even the members of his staff know his intentions.

SOURCE: Diary and correspondence of Salmon P. ChaseAnnual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1902, Vol. 2, p. 350

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Governor John A. Andrew to Caleb Cushing, April 27, 1861

April 27, 1861.
Hon. Caleb Cushing.

Sir, — Under the responsibilities of this hour, — remitted both as a man and a magistrate to the solemn judgment of conscience and honor, — I must remember only that great cause of constitutional liberty and of civilization itself referred to the dread arbitrament of arms. And I am bound to say that although our personal relations have always been agreeable to myself, and notwithstanding your many great qualities fitting you for usefulness; yet your relation to public affairs, your frequently avowed opinions touching the ideas and sentiments of Massachusetts; your intimacy of social, political and sympathetic intercourse with the leading secessionists of the Rebel States, maintained for years, and never (unless at this moment) discontinued, — forbid my finding you any place in the council or the camp. I am compelled sadly to declare that, were I to accept your offer, I should dishearten numerous good and loyal men, and tend to demoralize our military service. How gladly I would have made another reply to your note of the 25th inst., which I had the honor to receive yesterday, I need not declare, nor attempt to express the painful reluctance with which this is written.

Faithfully your obedient servant,
John A. Andrew, Governor.

SOURCE: Henry Greenleaf Pearson, The Life of John A. Andrew: Governor of Massachusetts, 1861-1865, Volume 1, p. 197-8

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Diary of William Howard Russell: July 4, 1861

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 29, 2018

George S. Denison to Salmon P. Chase, September 24, 1862

(Private and Unofficial)

New Orleans, Sept. 24th, 1862.

Dear Sir: Your kind letter of the 8th. inst. reached me yesterday. I showed it to Gen. Butler, as you gave me permission to do. The General requests me to present to you his kindest regards. He is satisfied that Slavery must be abolished, and he will do his part at such time as he thinks proper. He humorously remarked that his colored Brigade was of about the complexion, (upon the average) of the Vice President. He says that after properly organizing and drilling them, he believes they can march triumphantly from here to Kentucky. To-morrow the first Reg't. receives arms and joins the army. The second is fully enlisted and is being drilled. A third will be organized, but the General has arms for no more. His order says none are to be received but those who have received freedom through some recognized legal channel — but these are of three classes, viz: — Those who have received freedom from their owners.  2nd. Those who are made free by the present military courts.  3rd. All who come in from the enemy's lines. You see this includes almost all colored people. Gen. Butler will manage this matter wisely and well.

Gen. Butler does more work than any other man in Louisiana. Every thought seems to be given to the interest of the Government, and his powers of endurance are remarkable. No other man could fill his place here. His popularity among Union men is great and increasing. As I told you in a former letter, it is to be regretted that his brother does business here, but I do not think the General is interested in his speculations. He learns everything and forgets nothing. He comes in contact with the best minds in the State, and is equal, or superior, to them till.

During the week ending last night, the number of people who have taken the oath of allegiance, is very great. Every place where the oath was administered, was thronged. Secessionists can be tamed and Gen. Butler can do it. I should say three-fourths, at least, of the citizens have taken the oath, and yet not a threat was made against such as should not take it. I have reason to believe the General will be very severe toward those who persist in calling themselves loyal to the Southern Confederacy. I think he will confiscate their property and remove them beyond the lines.

Notwithstanding Federal reverses, the Union feeling develops itself satisfactorily, and many have realty ceased to be secessionists

The Prussian Ship “Essex” has on board many cases of plate and bullion shipped by rebels. Gen. Butler directed me to grant no clearance to the ship until the cases were landed. The ship has been waiting for a clearance three days, but will (probably) land the cases soon, when there will be no more trouble.

Since I have been here, two small vessels have cleared for Pensacola with Gen. B.’s permit. Admiral Farragut may perhaps complain of these vessels, for one or both, ran into rebel ports or were captured by the enemy. At any rate, they did not reach Pensacola. The Navy seized the Prize Schooner “Emma”1 at Ship Island, sent by me to New York. I had put iron on her to complete cargo. She was released and continued her voyage.

The business of the Custom House goes on very satisfactorily. The Mr. Flanders2 I spoke of is not the one you know, but his brother, and is not perhaps a proper person for Surveyor. He is a proper person for Clerk to perform the duties of Deputy Surveyor and for this office I have nominated him the office of Surveyor being included, I suppose, in my position as Special Agent and Acting Collector.
_______________

1 In the next letter this name is given as "Elma."

2 Mr. B. F. Flanders is frequently mentioned (June 23, 1862, etc.) and, except toward the close of the period, with approval. The second Mr. Flanders is not elsewhere mentioned, either in these letters or in the important printed sources bearing on the period.

SOURCE: Diary and correspondence of Salmon P. ChaseAnnual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1902, Vol. 2, p. 315-7

Sunday, October 7, 2018

George S. Denison to Salmon P. Chase, September 9, 1862

New Orleans, September 9th, 1862.

Dear Sir: The newspapers which I send, will give you most of the local news.

One Regiment of the Free Colored Brigade is full, and about 500 more are already enlisted. Surgeons and officers speak highly of the physical qualities of the men. Most of them are a very light color, and, I believe, will make good soldiers. I admire the characteristic shrewdness with which Gen. Butler has managed this affair. By accepting a regiment which had already been in Confederate Service, he left no room for complaint (by the Rebels) that the Government were arming the negroes. But, in enlisting, nobody inquires whether the recruit is (or has been) a slave. As a consequence the boldest and finest fugitives have enlisted, while the whole organization is known as the “Free Colored Brigade.” Without doubt it will be a success.

It is understood here that Gen. Phelps' resignation has been accepted. The controversy between Generals Butler and Phelps, is much regretted by the best Union men. Gen. Phelps is beloved by his soldiers, and no man has suspected his integrity and disinterestedness. This is not strictly true of Gen. Butler, for while all admire his great ability, many of his soldiers think him selfish and cold-hearted, and many soldiers and citizens — Union and Secessionists think he is interested in the speculations of his brother (Col. Butler) and others.

Sometimes circumstances look very suspicious, but if I happen to hear his explanation of the same circumstances, suspicion almost entirely disappears. I have never been able to discover any good proof that Gen. Butler has improperly done, or permitted, anything for his own pecuniary advantage. He is such a smart man, that it would in any case, be difficult to discover what he wished to conceal.

But it is the general impression here that money will accomplish anything with the authorities. It seems probable, that this impression would not exist without some foundation. It is much to be regretted, but Gen. B.'s abilities, shrewdness, and just severity toward secessionists — and proper appreciation of the whole rebellion, cause him to be respected and admired even by his enemies. I believe Gen. Butler's opposition to the enlistment of negroes by Gen. Phelps, was not a matter of principle. Gen. Phelps had the start of him, while Gen. B. wanted the credit of doing the thing himself, and in his own way And he is doing it, shrewdly and completely, as he does everything.

Notwithstanding the impression above mentioned, it would be difficult to find a man capable of filling Gen. Butler's place, and who would give the same satisfaction to Union men.

The City is very healthy, and the coming of Yellow Fever is no longer feared.

The Iron Clad Gunboat Essex is here from up the River.

SOURCE: Diary and correspondence of Salmon P. ChaseAnnual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1902, Vol. 2, p. 312-4

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

George S. Denison to Salmon P. Chase, August 26, 1862

New Orleans, Aug. 26th, 1862.

Dear Sir: The troops at Baton Rouge have evacuated the place, without destroying it, and are now joined to Gen. Phelps' command at Carrolton. His effective force is now about six thousand men and many guns, and is sufficient for the defence of the place. The fortifications are strong, and Gen. Phelps has the entire confidence of his men. An attack on the City was feared, and therefore the troops were brought down from Baton Rouge. The secessionists confidently expect the city to be taken soon, and had they succeeded at Baton Rouge, an attack on the City would have followed immediately. I do not believe it will now be made, but if attempted, will certainly be unsuccessful. They expected aid in the City, but Gen. Butler has disarmed all citizens. About 25,000 arms of various kinds have been given up.

The first Louisiana Reg't. is full and ready for service, and nearly enough men enlisted to form a second Reg't. The men are generally foreigners — many Germans — and will do good service.

A free Colored Reg't. formerly in Rebel service, is being organized. Probably this Regiment will be increased to a Brigade. I urged this matter upon Gen. Butler, but he had already decided upon it favorably. The free negroes of Louisiana, are certainly superior, as a class, to the Creoles (descendants of French and Spanish settlers). They are intelligent, energetic and industrious, as is evident from the fact (as stated to me) that they own one seventh of the real estate in this city. This is their own work, for they commenced with nothing, of course.

These men will be good soldiers. Gen. Phelps has at his camp 1,500 men — escaped slaves. Enough to make a full regiment are drilled (without arms) and go through all movements well. I do not know whether Gen. Butler intends them to have arms. They are good looking men, and I believe will be good soldiers.

The health of the troops is good, except those lately at Vicksburg, among whom however, deaths have been few. The City is quite healthy, and there is no longer much danger from Yellow Fever. This is owing to Gen. Butler's severe quarantine regulations. A few more days of health will render us perfectly secure.

The Union sentiment is developing itself satisfactorily. The laboring classes are our friends. When the great Southern armies are broken up they will no longer be afraid, and all will be well.
Provisions are high, and there is much suffering in the City. It is much to be regretted that the River was not opened, so that provisions might be cheap. The condition of the people now is scarcely better than under rebel rule — as to food, I mean.

For other reasons, the opening of the River is of the utmost consequence.

Much complaint is made by Union men, and justly, that those who have been secessionists, are frequently given employment by the authorities, to the exclusion of Union men. Concerning the Custom House there have been no such complaints, I believe, for I have been particularly careful in selecting officers, but I regret to say that other departments have not exercised the same care.

Col. Butler is a brother of Gen'l. Butler and came out with the army, and immediately commenced doing business. He is not in government employ. He is here for the sole purpose of making money, and it is stated by secessionists — and by some Union men—that he has made half a million dollars, or more. I regret his being here at all, for it is not proper that the brother of the commanding General, should devote himself to such an object. It leads to the belief that the General himself is interested with him, and such is the belief of our enemies and of some of our friends. The effect is bad. General Butler seems entirely devoted to the interests of the Government. I have observed closely his brother's course. I do not believe the General is interested in his speculations. I have delayed mentioning this matter until now, hoping to be better informed. Hon. Reverdy Johnson can give you as much information as I can.1 I believe Gen. Butler is disinterested and that he is a most able officer though in a difficult position. Should I learn anything further, you will be informed.
_______________

1 Hon. Reverdy Johnson, Senator from Maryland, was “appointed by the State Department as a special agent, to proceed to New Orleans and investigate and report upon the complaints made by foreign consuls against the late military proceedings in their respective cases.” (Secretary Stanton to General Butler, June 10, 1862, Rebellion Records, Series I, Vol. XV, p. 471. Cf. Series III, Vol. II. Cf. also the appendix to these letters.)

SOURCE: Diary and correspondence of Salmon P. ChaseAnnual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1902, Vol. 2, p. 310-2

Saturday, September 15, 2018

George S. Denison to Salmon P. Chase, July 19, 1862

New Orleans, July 19th, 1862.

Dear Sir: I venture to refer to the name of J. L. Riddell (formerly Confederate Postmaster) because he is, or is to be, an applicant for the office of Assistant Treasurer. Though he now pretends to be a Union man, I believe him to be unworthy of your confidence. I can give you full information about him if you desire it.

Mr. Gray, Deputy Collector, who has been in the New York Custom House more than twenty years, says that more questions and more difficult to' be decided, arise here in a week, than in the New York Custom House during a whole year. This is partly owing to the disturbed condition of the country, and partly to the fact that we avoid the former loose and corrupt manner of doing business. The necessity of immediate decision of many of these questions, obliges me, being at so great a distance from Washington, to assume great responsibility. Almost everything, even most of the furniture, belonging to the Custom House, was destroyed — except the building, which was in a dilapidated state. I was compelled to employ considerable labor to make it habitable. I have discovered and seized rebel boats and launches and repaired them — had the Iron safes drilled, opened and repaired—obtained furniture—preserved and arranged all the old books and papers, and done many other necessary things, so that now we begin to work effectively.

Except salaries of appointed officers, all expenses have, as yet, been paid from the fees of the office — for, of course, money received for duties remains untouched. Hence you see strict economy is practiced. I intend every Government employee in this Custom House shall earn his wages.

No expenses have been, or shall be incurred except such as are absolutely necessary for the thorough establishment of the Custom House, and protection of the Revenue Service.

The whole amount of money collected for duties, is Seventy-Six Thousand Nine Hundred and four 85/100 Dollars ($76,904-85/100) — See my official report of this date. This amount is now in my hands and subject to your order. All the safes are repaired, and the money is perfectly safe, unless the army should be driven out by the Rebels, which is impossible.

The City never was more healthy, and as yet there is no danger of the Yellow Fever.

I do not think the military rule here or elsewhere, is severe enough. It ought to be more dangerous to be a secessionist than to be a loyal citizen, which is not the case here. We should adopt toward rebels, measures as severe as they adopt toward Union men. A real secessionist cannot be conciliated. I begin to incline to the opinion that the Abolition of Slavery is necessary, as a means of terminating the war. The South has persistently forced this issue upon the Government, and perhaps it must soon be accepted.

SOURCE: Diary and correspondence of Salmon P. ChaseAnnual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1902, Vol. 2, p. 309-10

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Lieutenant-Colonel William T. Lusk to Elizabeth Adams Lusk, July 28, 1863

Headquarters Del. Dept.
Wilmington, Del., July 28th, 1863.
My dear Mother:

That I have not written you more punctually, the enclosed carte-de-visite must be my excuse. At last I have fulfilled my promise, and I trust the result may prove satisfactory to you. The carte was promised last Thursday, but only furnished yesterday. “There's a twist to your nose” says the ingenuous artist, while taking his preliminary surveys. “Perhaps you fell down once, and injured it.” I answered mildly that I had no recollection of such a catastrophe. “Well,” he says, “it isn't straight anyway.” Then adding with a sigh, “There are very few things that are straight in this world.” I suppose that this philosophic photographer is right.

After all I am going to be present to-morrow at Horace's wedding. There really is so little doing, that I feel as though I could absent myself for a couple of days with propriety. The General says “All right,” so I shall go on to-night at 11:30. You have not written whether it is your intention to be present. It would be a great pleasure to me if I should find you among the guests. Never mind, Fall is near at hand, and my stay in the army is hastening to an end. I have much leisure time to read, and as it is long since I have had such an opportunity, I am indulging myself in books with a vengeance. My previous visit to New-York was merely to vary a little the monotony of Wilmington life, by the excitement of the mob-rule then prevailing in the former city. I there met Charley Dodge, who was serving as Chief of Cavalry on Gen. Wool's staff. Charley contrived to give me some little employment, but all I did was not much in amount.

I dined a few days ago at ———'s. ——— is a capital good fellow, but painfully lazy and objectless. Much attention and kindness has been shown us since we have been here by the Union people. Unionism means something in a slave state. The most violent secessionists would not venture to express half the disloyal sentiments that one hears from pretty good Union people in Connecticut. The Union people here, from their position, are forced to take such strong ground as to make the sentiment of New England seem cold by comparison. Much love.

Most affec'y.,
Will.

SOURCE: William Chittenden Lusk, Editor, War Letters of William Thompson Lusk, p. 291-2

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Diary of Gideon Welles: Friday, February 5, 1864

Went last night to Blair's reception and also to a party at Riggs's, the banker. At the latter there were many semi-Secessionists whose modified views and changed opinions and course enable or induce them once more to mingle with the vulgar world from which they have kept secluded since these troubles commenced. The party was magnificent in its display and profusion, worthy the best, and the house is baronial in its appearance. In other days the Secession aristocracy gathered there, though at Corcoran's and some others the association was more earnest and hearty. Riggs was a sympathizer, not an actor; his social affinities, rather than his political opinions, were with the Rebels.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 1: 1861 – March 30, 1864, p. 521

Monday, April 16, 2018

Diary of William Howard Russell: June 27 - July 1, 1861

At eight o'clock on the morning of the 27th I left Chicago for Niagara, which was so temptingly near that I resolved to make a detour by that route to New York. The line from the city which I took skirts the southern extremity of Lake Michigan for many miles, and leaving its borders at New Buffalo, traverses the southern portion of the state of Michigan by Albion and Jackson to the town of Detroit, or the outflow of Lake St. Clair into Lake Erie, a distance of 284 miles, which was accomplished in about twelve hours. The most enthusiastic patriot could not affirm the country was interesting. The names of the stations were certainly novel to a Britisher. Thus we had Kalumet, Pokagon, Dowagiac, Kalamazoo, Ypsilanti, among the more familiar titles of Chelsea, Marengo, Albion, and Parma.

It was dusk when we reached the steam ferry-boat at Detroit, which took us across to Windsor; but through the dusk I could perceive the Union Jack waving above the unimpressive little town which bears a name so respected by British ears. The customs' inspections seemed very mild; and I was not much impressed by the representative of the British crown, who, with a brass button on his coat and a very husky voice, exercised his powers on behalf of Her Majesty at the landing-place of Windsor. The officers of the railway company received me as if I had been an old friend, and welcomed me as if I had just got out of a battle-field. “Well, I do wonder them Yankees have ever let you come out alive?” “May I ask why?” “Oh, because you have not been praising them all round, sir. Why even the Northern chaps get angry with a Britisher, as they call us, if he attempts to say a word against those cursed niggers.”

It did not appear the Americans are quite so thin-skinned, for whilst crossing in the steamer a passage of arms between the Captain, who was a genuine John Bull, and a Michigander, in the style which is called chaff or slang, diverted most of the auditors, although it was very much to the disadvantage of the Union champion. The Michigan man had threatened the Captain that Canada would be annexed as the consequence of our infamous conduct. “Why, I tell you,” said the Captain, “we'd just draw up the negro chaps from our barbers’ shops, and tell them we’d send them to Illinois if they did not lick you; and I believe every creature in Michigan, pigs and all, would run before them into Pennsylvania. We know what you are up to, you and them Maine chaps; but Lor' bless you, sooner than take such a lot, we'd give you ten dollars a head to make you stay in your own country; and we know you would go to the next worst place before your time for half the money. The very Bluenoses would secede if you were permitted to come under the old flag.”

All night we travelled. A long day through a dreary, illsettled, pine-wooded, half-cleared country, swarming with mosquitoes and biting flies, and famous for fevers. Just about daybreak the train stopped.

“Now, then,” said an English voice; “now, then, who's for Clifton Hotel? All passengers leave cars for this side of the Falls.” Consigning our baggage to the commissioner of the Clifton, my companion, Mr. Ward, and myself resolved to walk along the banks of the river to the hotel, which is some two miles and a half distant, and set out whilst it was still so obscure that the outline of the beautiful bridge which springs so lightly across the chasm, filled with furious hurrying waters, hundreds of feet below, was visible only as is the tracery of some cathedral arch through the dim light of the cloister.

The road follows the course of the stream, which whirls and gurgles in an Alpine torrent, many times magnified, in a deep gorge like that of the Tête Noire. As the rude bellow of the steam-engine and the rattle of the train proceeding on its journey were dying away, the echoes seemed to swell into a sustained, reverberating, hollow sound from the perpendicular banks of the St. Lawrence. We listened. “It is the noise of the Falls,” said my companion; and as we walked on the sound became louder, filling the air with a strange quavering note, which played about a tremendous uniform bass note, and silencing every other. Trees closed in the road on the river side; but when we had walked a mile or so, the lovely light of morning spreading with our steps, suddenly through an opening in the branches there appeared, closing up the vista — white, flickering, indistinct, and shroud-like — the Falls, rushing into a grave of black waters, and uttering that tremendous cry which can never be forgotten.

I have heard many people say they were disappointed with the first impression of Niagara. Let those who desire to see the water-leap in all its grandeur, approach it as I did, and I cannot conceive what their expectations are if they do not confess the sight exceeded their highest ideal. I do not pretend to describe the sensations or to endeavor to give the effect produced on me by the scene or by the Falls, then or subsequently; but I must say words can do no more than confuse the writer's own ideas of the grandeur of the sight, and mislead altogether those who read them. It is of no avail to do laborious statistics, and tell us how many gallons rush Over in that down-flung ocean every second, or how wide it is, how high it is, how deep the earth-piercing caverns beneath. For my own part, I always feel the distance of the sun to be insignificant, when I read it is so many hundreds of thousands of miles away, compared with the feeling of utter inaccessibility to anything human which is caused by it when its setting rays illuminate some purple ocean studded with golden islands in dreamland.

Niagara is rolling its waters over the barrier. Larger and louder it grows upon us.

“I hope the hotel is not full,” quoth my friend. I confess, for the time, I forgot all about Niagara, and was perturbed concerning a breakfastless ramble and a hunt after lodgings by the borders of the great river.

But although Clifton Hotel was full enough, there was room for us, too; and for two days a strange, weird kind of life I led, alternating between the roar of the cataract outside and the din of politics within; for, be it known, that at the Canadian side of the Falls many Americans of the Southern States, who would not pollute their footsteps by contact with the soil of Yankee-land, were sojourning, and that merchants and bankers of New York and other Northern cities had selected it as their summer retreat, and, indeed, with reason; for after excursions on both sides of the Falls, the comparative seclusion of the settlements on the left bank appears to me to render it infinitely preferable to the Rosherville gentism and semi-rowdyism of the large American hotels and settlements on the other side.

It was distressing to find that Niagara was surrounded by the paraphernalia of a fixed fair. I had looked forward to a certain degree of solitude. It appeared impossible that man could cockneyfy such a magnificent display of force and grandeur in nature. But, alas! it is haunted by what poor Albert Smith used to denominate “harpies.” The hateful race of guides infest the precincts of the hotels, waylay you in the lanes, and prowl about the unguarded moments of reverie. There are miserable little peep-shows and photographers, bird-stuflfers, shell-polishers, collectors of crystals, and proprietors of natural curiosity shops.

There is, besides, a large village population. There is a watering-side air about the people who walk along the road worse than all their mills and factories working their water-privileges at both sides of the stream. At the American side there is a lanky, pretentious town, with big hotels, shops of Indian curiosities, and all the meagre forms of the bazaar life reduced to a minimum of attractiveness which destroy the comfort of a traveller in Switzerland. I had scarcely been an hour in the hotel before I was asked to look at the Falls through a little piece of colored glass. Next I was solicited to purchase a collection of muddy photographs, representing what I could look at with my own eyes for nothing. Not finally by any means, I was assailed by a gentleman who was particularly desirous of selling me an enormous pair of cow’s-horns and a stuffed hawk. Small booths and peep-shows corrupt the very margin of the bank, and close by the remnant of the " Table Rock," a Jew (who, by the by, deserves infinite credit for the zeal and energy he has thrown into the collections for his museum), exhibits bottled rattlesnakes, stuffed monkeys, Egyptian mummies, series of coins, with a small living menagerie attached to the shop, in which articles of Indian manufacture are exposed for sale. It was too bad to be asked to admire such lusus naturӕ as double-headed calves and dogs with three necks by the banks of Niagara.

As I said before, I am not going to essay the impossible or to describe the Falls. On the English side there are, independently of other attractions, some scenes of recent historic interest, for close to Niagara are Lundy's Lane and Chippewa. There are few persons in England aware of the exceedingly severe fighting which characterized the contests between these Americans and the English and Canadian troops during the campaign of 1814. At Chippewa, for example, Major General Riall who, with 2000 men, one howitzer; and two twenty-four-pounders, attacked a, force of Americans of a similar strength, was repulsed with a loss of 500 killed and wounded; and on the morning of the 25th of July the action of Lundy's Lane, between four brigades of Americans and seven fieldpieces, and 3100 men of the British and seven field-pieces, took place, in which the Americans were worsted, and retired with a loss of 854 men and two guns, whilst the British lost 878. On the 14th of August following, Sir Gordon Drummond was repulsed with a loss of 905 men out of his small force in an attack on Fort Erie; and on the 17th of September an American sortie from the place was defeated with a loss of 510 killed and wounded, the British having lost 609. In effect the American campaign was unsuccessful; but their failures were redeemed by their successes on Lake Champlain, and in the affair of Plattsburg.

There was more hard fighting than strategy in these battles, and their results were not, on the whole, creditable to the military skill of either party. They were sanguinary in proportion to the number of troops engaged, but they were very petty skirmishes considered in the light of contests between two great nations for the purpose of obtaining specific results. As England was engaged in a great war in Europe, was far removed from the scene of operations, was destitute of steam-power, whilst America was fighting, as it were, on her own soil, close at hand, with a full opportunity of putting forth all her strength, the complete defeat of the American invasion of Canada was more honorable to our arms than the successes which the Americans achieved in resisting aggressive demonstrations.

In the great hotel of Clifton we had every day a little war of our own, for there were —— but why should I mention names? Has not government its bastiles? There were in effect men, and women too, who regarded the people of the Northern States and the government they had selected very much as the men of ’98 looked upon the government and people of England; but withal these strong Southerners were not very favorable to a country which they regarded as the natural ally of the abolitionists, simply because it had resolved to be neutral.

On the Canadian side these rebels were secure. British authority was embodied in a respectable old Scottish gentleman, whose duty it was to prevent smuggling across the boiling waters of the St. Lawrence, and who performed it with zeal and diligence worthy of a higher post. There “was indeed a withered triumphal arch which stood over the spot where the young Prince of our royal house had passed on his way to the Table Rock, but beyond these signs and tokens there was nothing to distinguish the American from the British side, except the greater size and activity of the settlements upon the right bank. There is no power in nature, according to great engineers, which cannot be forced to succumb to the influence of money. The American papers actually announce that “Niagara is to be sold; the proprietors of the land upon their side of the water have resolved to sell their water privileges! A capitalist could render the islands the most beautifully attractive places in the world.

Life at Niagara is like that at most watering-places, though it is a desecration to apply such a term to the Falls; and there is no bathing there, except that which is confined to the precincts of the hotels and to the ingenious establishment on the American side, which permits one to enjoy the full rush of the current in covered rooms with sides pierced, to let it come through with undiminished force and with perfect security to the bather. There are drives and picnics, and mild excursions to obscure places in the neighborhood, where only the roar of the Falls gives an idea of their presence. The rambles about the islands, and the views of the boiling rapids above them, are delightful; but I am glad to hear from one of the guides that the great excitement of seeing a man and boat carried over occurs but rarely. Every year, however, hapless creatures crossing from one shore to the other, by some error of judgment or miscalculation of strength, or malign influence, are swept away into the rapids, and then, notwithstanding the wonderful rescues effected by the American blacksmith and unwonted kindnesses of fortune, there is little chance of saving body corporate or incorporate from the headlong swoop to destruction.

Next to the purveyors of curiosities and hotel-keepers, the Indians, who live in a village at some distance from Niagara, reap the largest profit from the crowds of visitors who repair annually to the Falls. They are a harmless and by no means elevated race of semi-civilized savages, whose energies are expended on whiskey, feather fans, bark canoes, ornamental moccasins, and carved pipe-stems. I had arranged for an excursion to see them in their wigwams one morning, when the news was brought to me that General Scott had ordered, or been forced to order the advance of the Federal troops encamped in front of Washington, under the command of McDowell, against the Confederates, commanded by Beauregard, who was described as occupying a most formidable position, covered with entrenchments and batteries in front of a ridge of hills, through which the railway passes to Richmond.

The New York papers represent the Federal army to be of some grand indefinite strength, varying from 60,000 to 120,000 men, full of fight, admirably equipped, well disciplined, and provided with an overwhelming force of artillery. General Scott, I am very well assured, did not feel such confidence in the result of an invasion of Virginia, that he would hurry raw levies and a rabble of regiments to undertake a most arduous military operation.

The day I was introduced to the General he was seated at a table in the unpretending room which served as his boudoir in the still humbler house where he held his head-quarters. On the table before him were some plans and maps of the harbor defences of the Southern ports. I inferred he was about to organize a force for the occupation of positions along the coast. But when I mentioned my impression to one of his officers, he said, “Oh, no, the General advised that long ago; but he is now convinced we are too late. All he can hope, now, is to be allowed time to prepare a force for the field, but there are hopes that some compromise will yet take place.”

The probabilities of this compromise have vanished; few entertain them now. They have been hanging Secessionists in Illiniois, and the court-house itself has been made the scene of Lynch law murder in Ogle county. Petitions, prepared by citizens of New York to the President, for a general convention to consider a compromise, have been seized. The Confederates have raised batteries along the Virginian shore of the Potomac. General Banks, at Baltimore, has deposed the police authorities proprio motu, in spite of the protest of the board. Engagements have occurred between the Federal steamers and the Confederate batteries on the Potomac. On all points, wherever the Federal pickets have advanced in Virginia, they have Encountered opposition and have been obliged to halt or to retire.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

As I stood on the veranda this morning, looking for the last time on the Falls, which were covered with a gray mist, that rose from the river and towered unto the sky in columns which were lost in the clouds, a voice beside me said, “Mr. Russell, that is something like the present condition of our country, mists and darkness obscure it now, but we know the great waters are rushing behind, and will flow till eternity.” The speaker was an earnest, thoughtful man, but the country of which he spoke was the land of the South. “And do you think,” said I, “when the mists clear away the Falls will be as full and as grand as before?” “Well,” he replied, “they are great as it is, though a rock divides them; we have merely thrown our rock into the waters, — they will meet all the same in the pool below.” A colored, boy, who has waited on me at the hotel, hearing I was going away, entreated me to take him on any terms, which were, I found, an advance of nine dollars, and twenty dollars a month, and, as I heard a good account of him from the landlord, I installed the young man into my service. In the evening I left Niagara on my way to New York.

SOURCE: William Howard Russell, My Diary North and South, Vol. 1, p. 360-7