Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Flag Raising

This entry is from  Witness to the Young Republic: A Yankee’s Journal, Donald B. Cole and John J. McDonough, editors (as found at Mr. Lincoln's White House)

Benjamin French  is describing a flag raising on the South Lawn at the White House that took place on April 27th 1861, attended by a large crowd of citizens and military and civilian officials, including General-in-Chief Winfield Scott, Secretary of State William H. Seward, Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase and Mary Todd Lincoln.

"After a band played "Hail to the Chief" prayer was read by Rev. Smith Pyne, Mr. Lincoln raised the flag with mixed success: The President then took hold of the halliards & commenced raising the flag. At the place where the cloth surrounded the pole it hung hard, but the President tugged away with a will, and up it went, but, alas, when it blew out in the breeze the two upper stripes and about three of the stars were separated by a rent, and just hung like a ribbon to the rest of the flag. Although a thousand hearty cheers went up, and the band played 'the star spangled banner,' and the guns of the Artillery, stationed on the Monument grounds, thundered a salute, I felt a sorrow that I cannot describe, at seeing the torn flag. It seemed to me an omen of ill luck. My only consolation was observing the determined energy with which the president pulled away at the halliards — as if he said, in his mind, 'It has got to go up whether or no.' And I thought, 'Well, let what reverses may come, he will meet them with the same energy, and bring us out of war, if with a tattered flag, still it will all be there!'"
Unidentified soldier in Union uniform with bayoneted musket in front of American flag,
from the Library of  Congress Collection

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Song of the Secession Warrior

Todays' entry comes from The Rebellion Record, A Diary of American Events, edited by Frank Moore, Vol. 5, and the author is anonymous.  This little ditty speaks for itself.   I think it is meant to be sung to the same tune as the Battle of New Orleans.

   Slightly altered from the Choctaw

I made a spur of a Yankee's jaw,
And in New-Orleans I show his squaw --
Shot his child like a yelping cur,
He had no time to fondle on her,,
   Hoo!  hoo! hoo! for the rifled graves!
   Wah! wah! wah! for the blasted slaves!

I scraped his skull all naked and bare,
And here's his scalp with a tuft of hair!
His  heart is in the buzzard's maw,
His bloody bones the wolf doth gnaw.
   Hoo!  hoo! hoo! for the rifled graves!
   Wah! wah! wah! for the blasted slaves!

With percussion-caps we filled each gun,
And put torpedoes where he'd run;
And with poisoned bullets and poisoned rum
Helped him along to kingdom come.
   Hoo!  hoo! hoo! for the rifled graves!
   Wah! wah! wah! for the blasted slaves!

Unidentified Confederate Soldier, from Library of Congress Collection

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Cross Dressing Confederate Officer

This entry from the Richmond Dispatch, describes an event that took place on June 28, 1861, the capture of the commercial ship the Saint Nicholas by Richard Thomas (Zarvona).

Richmond Dispatch, July 4, 1861
From Fredericksburg.
[special correspondence of the Dispatch.]
Fredericksburg, July 3, 1861.
Several very amusing incidents occurred on board the St. Nicholas before and after her seizure by Col. Thomas and his gallant followers. Among them, I will mention one which occurred after Capt. Hollins was taken on board at Point Lookout: The Captain (Hollins) was, as a matter of personal safety, disguised, and although well known to Captain Kirwan, was not recognized by him until after the freak of nature (!) which transformed the old French woman into the terror imparting Zouave, Col. Thomas. But before the disguises were thrown off, Capt. Kirwan observed "sly" winks passing between the French woman and the disguised naval officer, and very naturally thought he had discovered an intrigue, and called the attention of some of his friends, predicting "some fun." One can readily imagine his astonishment when the true state of affairs burst upon him, and he became familiar with the much-abused profession, privateering.

But the story doesn't end there.  A good account of the entire incident can be found at:  The Washington Times website

The French Lady taking off with the ship, From Harpers Weekly, July 27 1861

Monday, June 27, 2011

I Almost Feel Like Thanking God For This Very War

Today's entry is written by George Tyler Burroughs, Sr., the father of Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs. George Burroughs' biography can be found online at the George Tyler Burroughs page, part of the official Edgard Rice Burroughs Tribute site.

Burroughs immediately entered the Army when Lincoln called for volunteers in April 1861, and began his Civil War service in the 71st New York volunteers regiment.  He was in the hospital with dysentery when he learned that his company was marching to the front, and so he climbed out the window and caught up with his company.  And so his military career began. He entered the war as a private, and when the war ended, was a major.

This is a portion of a letter dated June 27, 1861 to his soon-to-be wife wherein he discusses the "Peculiar Institution".

. . . . I almost feel like thanking God for this very war. I know not but that the earlier impressions of some of you may have been not beneath the shadow of the "Peculiar Institution" of the "Sunny South," the land of the Ralmittan & the Palm, I would not give offence, but freely as I would tell my sisters, I must say that I feel thankful for this war because I believe that this Institution of human Slavery will now receive its death blow. Morally I believe slavery to be wrong. God made all the nations of the earth of one blood & he did not intend that the stronger should tyrannize over the weaker, the White over the Black -- for the last thirty five years it has been the prime cause of all the National troubles. Socially its tendency is to exalt one man over another, it makes its perpetrator haughty, arrogant, lazy. Not by his own honest toil does he obtain his support but through the wrongs of a made oppressed race. It curses all with whom it comes in contact, while in __  __  __.
I could but notice the deplorable ignorance of the poor white people, they are absolutely more to be pittied [sic] than the slaves. One man told me that he had never been in Washington in his life (a distance of fifteen miles) that he "reckoned" _____ would be better off if she was free, that his boys had never had any schooling worth mentioning, they did not know enough to learn a trade & therefore all mechanical labor done in his section of the country was done by men who came from the North. That the rich man's sons were educated for it & so received an office as soon as they were old enough. Do not these facts speak volumes?
George Tyler Burroughs, as found at

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I Have Pledged My Word To the People of Western Virginia

Today's entry comes from The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I Vol. II part I.

Yesterday (See June 24, "Rebels In Our Midst") I blogged a letter, a letter  from the people of western Virginia imploring the government to send help.  Help was indeed on the way already, and today's entry is General George McClellan's message to the Army of the West, going to the aid of western Virginia.

Grafton, Va., June 25, 1861.
To the Soldiers of the Army of the West:
You are here to support the Government of your country, and to protect the lives and liberties of your brethren, threatened by a rebellious and traitorous foe. No higher and nobler city could devolve upon you, and I expect you to bring to its performance the highest and noblest qualities of soldiers-discipline, courage, and mercy. . . . .

Bear in mind that you are in the country of friends, not of enemies; that you are here to protect, not to destroy. Take nothing, destroy nothing, unless you are ordered to do so by your general officers. Remember that I have pledged my word to the people of Western Virginia that their right in person and property shall be respected. I ask every one of you to make good this promise in its broadest sense. We come here to save, not to upturn. . .

Your enemies have violated every moral law; neither God nor man can sustain them. They have, without cause, rebelled against a mild and paternal Government; they have seized upon public and private property; they have outraged the persons of Northern men merely because they loved the Union; they have placed themselves beneath contempt, unless they can retrieve some honor on the field of battle. You will pursue a different course. You will be honest, brave, and merciful; you will respect the right of private opinion; you will punish no man for opinion's sake. Show to the wold that you differ from our enemies in the points of honor, honesty, and respect for private opinion, and that we inaugurate no reign of terror where we go. 

Soldiers! I have heard that there was danger here. I have come to place myself at your head and to share it with you. I fear now but one thing-that you will not find foemen worthy of your steel. I know that I can rely upon you.
Major-General, Commanding.

Gen. Geo. B. McClellan, Library of Congress Collection, Brady-Handy Photograph Collection

Friday, June 24, 2011

Rebels In Our Midst

Francis Harrison Pierpont has just been elected Governor of the Restored government of Virginia (later known as West Virginia)  on June 20, 1861, just four days before the  communication below was written pleading for help and protection from "Rebels in our midst."  Unfortunately, it was merely a precursor of the struggle to come in the area.

This letter can be found at the Prince William County Virginia by Ronald Ray Turner website (
To Governor Pierpont
Of the State of Virginia

Governor Pierpont,
Honorable Sir: Whereas, we, the Union Citizens of Wayne County, for some time past, has been daily threatened by the Rebels in our midst, with the destruction of life, property, or subjugation to the rule of the so called Confederate States; by the instrumentality of an armed force. We, therefore, as loyal citizens, possessing allegiance both to Federal Constitution and the State of Virginia under the Provisional Government now being established, do, most humbly petition your Excellency that, an armed force of U. S. Troops may be sent speedily as possible among us, and stationed at Annacetta, 8 miles from Guyandotte, to protect us from the insults and outrages of Secessionist. Done at a meeting held in Wayne County, Va., June 24th 1861.
R. T. Luther, President
B. D. McGinnis, Secretary
In November 1861 Union liberators, who considered Guyandotte (now part of Huntington, WV),  a "seesech" town, burned two-thirds of it to the ground.

More about Guyandotte's tragic fate and the events leading up to it can be found at the Guyandotte Civil War Days Website.

Francis Harrison Pierpoint (from Wikipedia)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Two-Faced City

Today's entry is from the writings of a Soldier passing through Baltimore, Maryland, on the way to Washington, June 22, 1861.  It comes from "Maryland was a slave-holding state with many Southern sympathizers. On April 19, 1861, a mob attacked Massachusetts troops as they changed trains in Baltimore, killing four soldiers. Just a few weeks later, on the night of June 22, some companies of Wisconsin's 2nd Infantry arrived in the city far ahead of the others. An unidentified soldier, probably from Racine, describes holding off a crowd of jeering Confederate supporters."

At the point the quote begins, the soldier has gotten off the first train, and is waiting to walk through the city to the train that will take him and his fellow soldiers to Washington, their ultimate destination.

It was rather exciting I can assure you, as well as fatiguing, standing there with our knapsacks on our backs, 40 rounds of ammunition in our cartridge boxes, cap box, bayonet scabbard, two day's rations in our haversacks besides knife, fork, spoon and plate. But there we stood not daring to sit down or be off our guard for a moment, surrounded by thousands of the roughs of Baltimore, who were armed to the teeth with pistols and knives. These rascals would cheer Jeff. Davis and then groan for the Wisconsin volunteers. It looked many times as though we were bound to have a fight, but they dared not commence the cotillion….

As we were passing through the street in which the 7th Mass. Regiment was fired into some six weeks ago, a huge ruffian stepped out on the right flank of our company, with a revolver in his hand, and proposed three cheers for Jeff. Davis and three groans for Col. Coon and the Wisconsin Volunteers, which were repeated by the crowd; …

In many of the streets we were received with great enthusiasm; the side walks were lined and the house tops covered with people. Bouquets were showered upon us by the ladies, and the stars and stripes were waved over us. In other streets we were hissed and insulted. It was 2 ½ miles from one depot to the other, but we finally got seated in the cars ready for our journey to Washington, which place we reached this morning at 5 o'clock.
Source: E.B. Quiner Scrapbooks: "Correspondence of the Wisconsin Volunteers, 1861-1865," Volume 1, page 85.  

Cartoon: "The way to go through Baltimore."  from an envelope as found at

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Woman's Work Is Never Done

This entry comes from the Memphis Daily Appeal, June 22, 1861 (as found at Art Circle Public Library, Cumberland County, TN website). During the Civil War, Southern women worked in ammunition factories much like during World Wars, Here is one example.

A visit to the Confederate Saber Factory in Memphis

Manufactory of Ammunition.-By the kindness of Mr. Trezevant, we were yesterday admitted within the Confederate Government saber manufactory, on the south-east corner of Monroe and Third streets, over which establishment we were obligingly shown by the efficient superintendent and inspector, Lieut.

On mounting to the immense room up stairs, we found four large tables ranged from end to end of the room, and at these tables two hundred and fifty women and girls, principally young girls, were busily engaged in the labor of preparing cartridges.. . .

. . .In giving employment, the widows, wives, and families of soldiers, have the
first preference. The women are paid four dollars and a half a week, the girls
three dollars; when by extraordinary industry a certain number per day are
made, a dollar a day is given. No less than two hundred and eighty-five persons
are employed, of whom two hundred and thirty are females. . . .

 "Filling Cartridges at the United States Arsenal at Watertown, Massachusetts," July 20, 1861, Harper’s Weekly.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Hasty Quarrel

This entry is from A Cycle of Adams Letters 1861-1865 edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford.

Charles Francis Adams, the son of John Quincy Adams, was serving as the United States Minister to Great Britain at the time he wrote this letter.  He is largely responsible for France and England failing to recognize the Confederacy.  This letter is addressed to his son back in the States. He relates what the British people think about the situation in the United States.

June 21, 1861

Letter from Charles Francis Adams, Sr. to Charles Francis Adams, Jr., June 21, 1861
Charles Francis Adams to his Son

. . . People [the British]  do not quite understand Americans or their politics. They think this a hasty quarrel, the mere result of passion, which will be arranged as soon as the cause of it shall pass off. They do not comprehend the connection which slavery has with it, because we do not at once preach emancipation. Hence they go to the other extreme and argue that it is not an element of the struggle. 
. . . .On the other hand I now look to something of a war. We are in it and cannot get out. The slaveholding politicians must go down or there will be no permanent peace. 
Charles Francis Adams.  Frontispiece illustration to  A Cycle of Adams Letters 1861-1865

Monday, June 20, 2011


This entry is from Brother of Mine, The Civil War Letters of Thomas and William Christie, edited by Hampton Smith.

William and Thomas Christie were half brothers, 13 years apart in age.  They served in the same Regiment,  the 1st Minnesota.
Thomas is writing to his father.
June 20th, 1862
These deaths have a good effect upon the men, making them feel kinder and more brotherly towards each other.  We are no longer a mass of discordant elements thrown together and called a Company, with no fellow-feelings for any one outside of our own platoons -- as was the case at Fort Snelling and the Arsenal -- , but we are now bound together by common bereavements and common dangers into one body.  The feeling of isolation here in the South, and of dependence upon each other strengthens the bond.  As a consequence we are today stronger and more efficient as a Battery than when our Morning-Report gave a hundred and fifty-six (156) men as fit for duty; the number now is 80.  When the orderly Sergeant addressed us last night as "Brothers" the word went straight through to our hearts, for we felt that it represented the Truth.
2 unidentified soldiers in Union shell jackets, from Library of Congress collection.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hell-Born and Hell-Bound

This entry is from "Speech of Andrew Johnson at Cincinnati, Ohio, June 19, 1861", Frank Moore, ed., The Rebellion Record, Vol. 2.

Andrew Johnson was senator from Tennessee, Military Governor of Tennessee, vice-president, and after Lincoln's assassination, President of the United States. 

Johnson was a "Unionist."  Unionists were fiercely loyal to the Union but were not much interested in the fate of the African American. He was the only Southern U.S. senator not to resign at the onset of the the Civil War, even when Tennessee seceded.  He helped bring Lincoln votes when  he was reelected during 1864, but made a controversial president during the reconstruction era.

Here is part of a speech he made on June 19, 1861 explaining how he felt about secession.
. .. I look upon the doctrine of secession as coming in conflict with all organism, moral and social.  I repeat, without regard to the peculiar institutions of the respective States composing this Confederacy; without regard to any Government that may be found in the future or exists in the present, this odious doctrine of secession should be crushed out, destroyed and totally annihilated.  No government can stand, no religious, no moral, or social organization can stand, where this doctrine is tolerated.  It is disintegration -- universal dissolvement -- making war upon every thing that has a tendency to promote and ameliorate the condition of the mass of mankind.  Therefore I repeat, that this odious and abominable doctrine -- you must pardon me for  using a strong expression -- I do not say it  profane sense -- but this doctrine I conceive to be, hell-born, and hell-bound, and one which will carry everything in its train, unless it is arrested and crushed out from our midst. . . .
Andrew Johnson photograph, attributable to Jessie Whitehurst, from the Library of Congress collection

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Rumor in the Streets

Today's entry is from A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital by John Beauchamp Jones.

JUNE 17TH..[1861] To-day there was a rumor in the streets that Harper's Ferry had been evacuated by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, and, for the first time, I heard murmurs against the government. So far, perhaps, no Executive had ever such cordial and unanimous support of the people as President Davis.
I knew the motive of the evacuation, and prepared a short editorial for one of the papers, suggesting good reasons for the retrograde movement ; and instancing the fact that when Napoleon's capital was surrounded and taken, he had nearly 200,000 men in garrison in the countries he had conquered, which would have been ample for the defense of France. This I carried to the Secretary at his lodgings, and he was so well pleased with it he wanted me to accompany him to the lodgings of the President, in the same hotel, and show it to him. This I declined, alleging it might be too late for the press. He laughed at ray diffidence, and disinclination on such occasions to approach the President. I told him my desire was to serve the cause, and not myself. I suppose he was incredulous.
A view of Harper's Ferry by Currier and Ives from the Library of Congress Collection

Thursday, June 16, 2011

You're Not Listening!

Letter from General Beauregard to Jefferson Davis. From The military operations of General Beauregard in the war between the States 1861 to 1865, including a brief personal sketch and a narrative of his services in the war with Mexico, 1846 (as found at  This letter is oozing with Beauregard's discontent with Davis.
To his Excellency President JEFF. DAVIS, Richmond, Va. 
Manassas Junction, June 16th 1861

Can I be informed why it is that none of my communications to the War Department through the Adjutant-General's Department are answered. They are not even acknowledged. I refer more particularly to my letters of the 5th, 9th, and 12th instant. Ought my communications (reports, etc.) to be sent through General Lee or not? He is the only one from whom I receive any official orders of any importance.

I beg to call your attention particularly to my letter of the 5th instant, referring to the immediate necessity of furnishing my command with belts (of any material) three (3) inches wide, red on one side and yellow on the other, to be worn with either color on the outside, and from over the right shoulder buttoned under the left arm, or from left to right, as the officer in command shall direct, for the time being. Many of my regiments are not furnished with the Confederate colors ; how are they to be distinguished in battle from the enemy ? especially if we attack them in flank or rear, as we ought to do whenever practicable. I feel very much concerned about these two matters. I have no doubt that, if the ladies of Richmond were called upon, belts and colors could be made in a few days.

Many of my companies are entirely unprovided with cartridge and cap boxes ; what are they to do, especially in wet weather? We have no ammunition to waste. I have thought it advisable to call these facts to your Excellency's attention, as they are going to play a very important part in our battles with the enemy. I remain, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

G. T. Beauregard, Brig.-Genl. Comdg.
From NYPL Digital Library

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Day of Prayer and Fasting

This entry is from Diary of a Southern Refugee During the War by a Lady of Virginia (Mrs. Judith W. McGuire)

McGuire writes about a day of prayer and fasting and the sermon delivered on that day by Bishop William Meade.  Meade was the Bishop of Virginia.  He strongly opposed secession, but once the state of Virginia made the decision to do so, he supported the state. His father was an aide to George Washington during the Revolutionary War, so he had patriot blood flowing through him.
June 15, 1861
Yesterday was set apart by the President as a day of prayer and fasting, and I trust that throughout the Confederacy the blessing of God was invoked upon the army and country.  We went to church at Millwood, and heard Bishop Meade.  His sermon was full of wisdom and love ; he urged us to individual piety in all things, particularly to love and charity to our enemies.  He is full of enthusiasms and zeal for our cause.  His whole heart is in it, and from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, for he talks most delightfully land encouragingly on the subject.  He says that if our ancestors had good reason for taking up arms in 1775, surely we had much better, for the oppressions they suffered from the mother-country was not a tithe of the provocation we have received from the Government at Washington.
Bishop William Meade from

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Fighting Bishop Falls

This entry is from Diary of a Confederate Soldier, John S. Jackman of the Orphan Brigade, edited by William C. Davis.  Jackman was a witness to Fighting Bishop's (General Leonidas Polk) death, June 14, 1864.


About 9 or 10 o'clock a.m. 14th Capt G. and I were sitting by the col'ls fire, a little to the rear of the regiment.  For two days not a shell had been thrown at our position -- and when a shell came shrieking over the mountain to our left, I remarked to the captain, that some General and his staff, no doubt, had ridden up to the crest of the hill, and the Federal batteries were throwing shells at them. "Yes," said the captain, "and I hope some of them will get shot.  A general can't ride around the lines without a regiment of staff at his heels."  About this time we heard the second shell strike -- I thought it struck into the side of the hill; but it had struck Lt. General Polk.  Where he was killed, was not a hundred yards from us, but the trees were so thick, we could not see from where we were what was going on, and we did not learn what had happened for some minutes.
Leonidas Polk, from the Library of Congress Collection

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Love Letter to a Future U. S. President

Today's entry is written by Lucy W. Hayes, wife of Rutherford B Hayes.  Rutherford B. Hayes, from Ohio, served as an officer during the Civil War, eventually being promoted to general.

Lucy W Hayes was an abolitionist and supporter of women rights. During the Civil War she routinely visited her husband's military camp, and helped in military hospitals. She reportedly disliked being a woman and unable to fight on the battlefield for the North.  She also secured supplies from Northern civilians to better equip the Union soldiers. Soldiers in the Twenty-third Ohio nicknamed Lucy Hayes "Mother of the Regiment" for her contributions to their welfare.  (

Here are some excerpts from a rather touching letter that Lucy wrote Rutherford at the beginning of the war -- a love letter to a future U.S. President, surely one of many such missives written by women waiting at home.  This letter can be found at

Cincinnati. June 13 th [1861]
Dearest Ruddy,

I cannot tell you how happy your first letter made me- I felt certain - satisfied that you loved me as dearly and truly as in all the past years- How rapidly time passes away we are now almost old folks and yet it is but a few months in feeling- I was down street to day and when I came home found your dear letter and read it and reread it till I almost knew it by heart . . . .

. . . .My greatest happiness now would be to feel that I was doing some thing for the comfort and happiness of our men I feel that in giving you up- (for dearest it is hard to feel we may be parted) I have tried to do cheerfully and with out a murmur what was my duty- If I could only follow you where ever you are called to go no privation or trial would cause the slightest discontent- you would find Ruddy that your foolish little trial of a wife was fit to be a soldiers wife. 

. . . .It is well dearest that you have expressed the wish to have me with you- for I had settled in my own mind- that as long as I can be with you I will but it was such a happiness to know that you in the midst of all the hurry and bustle of camp life thought of it.

. . . .Good bye my dearest- May it not be long till we shall be together.
Your loving Wife

Lucy W. Hayes, from the Library of Congress Collection

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Slave Auction

From Three Months in the Southern States, April - June 1863 by Lieut-Col.
Fremantle. Fremantle was an English "tourist" who came to America to see the conflict firsthand.

June, 12th, 1863  (Charleston SC)
I went to a slave auction at 11; but they had been so quick about it that the whole affair was over before I arrived, although I was only ten minutes late. The negroes — about fifteen men, three women, and three children — were seated on benches, looking perfectly contented and indifferent. I saw the buyers opening the mouths and showing the teeth of their new purchases to their friends in a very business-like manner. This was certainly not a very agreeable spectacle to an Englishman, and I know that many Southerners participate in the same feeling ; for I have often been told by people that they had never seen a negro sold by auction, and never wished to do so.
Dealers inspecting a negro at a slave auction in Virginia., from the Illustrated London News
(as part of the NYPL Digital Collection)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

An Eye for an Eye

From the Charleston (SC) Mercury, June 11, 1861.
The capture of the Privateer Savannah actually occurred on June 3, 1861.

The Capture of the Privateer Savannah

Almost every day now brings us news of importance.  Yesterday brought us the Intelligence of the capture of the privateer Savannah, from this port.  The loss of the schooner in times like these, would scarcely call for a moment's consideration.  But the circumstances are such as to render the fact one a grave Import -- perchance the results may be still graver.  The insane and blood-thirsty spirit ruling the Government of the North, there are probabilities that the crew of the Savannah will be executed.  The United States Government has said it -- the popular clamor has approved the bloody declaration.  Will their bloated vanity and malice give way to the milder voice of national law -- of reason and discretion?  Will they not go on in their mad pathway of violence of lawlessness?  Their course up to this time has been uniform.  Will they at this day pay regard to reason, justice or law?  If they do not, what then?

Aye! what then?

Let one of these men perish, and we look to the authorities at Richmond for immediate and bloody retribution.  We look to them, and we shall expect them to settle a strict account of blood for blood.

If a hair of the head of a single man of this crew is injured, South Carolina will demand that the outrage be atoned for -- an eye for an eye -- a tooth for a tooth -- a life for a life.  Aye! and she will have it -- no more and no less; on the battle field, and after the battle.  Let one of these, her citizens commissioned in her cause, perish as a pirate, and woe to the enemy who falls into our hands.  Humanity and justice, no less than the cause itself, will compel to prompt and [sic] ample retribution; and the sooner this is understood, the better for all parties to the war.  Civilized warfare will be met in kind, savage warfare will compel savage warfare.  The North can make it either.  Let them now decide.
(Image of this article can be found at (http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.ed)

The crew members of the Savannah were not executed.  Six months later they were tried for piracy, but the jury disagreed. "While awaiting a new trial, the Confederacy imprisoned an equal number of officers of the Federal army, who were held as prisoners of war, and notified the Federals that whatever punishment was inflicted upon the privateersmen would be imposed upon the officers who were held as hostages. The great nations of the world refused to accept the ultimatum of the Union that the privateers were practising piracy, and from that time to the close of the war the men captured on privateers were treated as prisoners of war."(from The Photographic History of The Civil War: in ten volumes, Thousands of Scenes Photographed 1861-65, with Text by many Special Authorities, Volume 6: The Navy.)

The Privateer Savannah, from the Library of Congress Collection

Friday, June 10, 2011

Hardships to Bear

Letter from Henry Bitner, Chambersburg, PA, to Alexander Cressler, (as found as

Alexander Cressler to Henry Bitner, a friend.  Cressler is confident the Union will prevail, but there may be hardships to bear.   Little did he know then that Chambersburg would be destroyed by the Confederates three years later.

June 10, 1861, Chambersburg, PA

. . . You seemed to think that some other Nation might join with the South but I believe our cause is a just one, and if, all the other nations of the earth should join with their teeming millions and come to our shores in battle array against us, that by trusting in the god of battles, who I believe is superintending our movements, that triumph must be ours, but we must do our share of the work and stand right up to the mark, whether death be our lot a not Henry, I have no fear of the result, we may lose many good men, but if we go to the work right I feel confident of success.. . .
The Ruins of Chambersburg, 1864, From Library of Congress Collection

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Star Spangled Banner Revisited

From The Southern Confederacy, an Atlanta newspaper, June 9, 1861

This is a Confederate man's take on the Star Spangled Banner.

Letter to the editor:
Star Spangled Banner.  I have seen and heard various lamentations over the prospect of the repudiation of this song; particularly the air, which is supposed to have been composed for it.  I beg to dispel the illusion.  Very early in life, I took a fancy to music; and among my father's books, published, I think, before the Revolution, and certainly before the "Star Spangled Banner" was written, was one of songs with accompanying music, painted in London.  From it, I learned to play on the flute the air to which the "Star Spangled Banner" was adapted, and send you one verse of the song.  Seeing that the Yankees steal everything else, it is not surprising that they have stolen music.  For myself, I have no hesitation in singing the air to the original song; which, now that the "Star Spangled Banner" is only emblematical of Black Republican murder and robbery, is a far more pious offering to the God of music than anything which reminds us of the desecration of the once honored, but now forever cursed National flag:

To Anacreon in heaven where he sat in full glee,
A few sons of harmony sent a petition,
That he their inspirer and patron would be,
When this answer arrived from the jolly old Grecian:
Voice, fiddle and flute, no longer be mute,
I'll lend you my name and inspire you to boot!
And besides I'll instruct you like me to entwine
The myrtle of Venus and Bacchus's vine.

The air is a beautiful one, and can be sung without recalling, I trust, the memory of that standard which signalizes power without right or humanity, and numbers without laws, human or divine.
From the Library of Congress Collection

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Cynic

From Home Letters of General Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman

Sherman was on the way to Washington from St. Louis when he wrote this to his wife.
June 8, 1861

. . . Now that the War has begun, no man can tell when it will end. Who would have supposed old England, chuck full of Abolitionists, would side with the southern against their northern descendants. Nations like men are governed solely by self interest, and England needs cotton, and the return market for the manufactures consumed in exchange. Again corruption seems so to underlie our government that even in this time of trial, cheating in clothes, blankets, flour, bread, everything, is universal.

It may be the simple growl of people unaccustomed to the privations of war. Again some three or four hundred thousand people are now neglecting work and looking to war for the means of livelihood. These, hereafter, will have a say in politics, so that I feel that we are drifting on the high seas, and no one knows the port to which we are drifting. The best chance of safety is our old government, with all its political chicanery and machinery, and to it we tie our fortunes. . . .
William Tecumseh Sherman, From the Library of Congress Collection

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How I Became a POW, Part III

From Civil War Diary of Sergeant Henry W. Tisdale, Company I, Thirty-Fifth Regiment, Massachuesetts Volunteers 1862-1865. This diary can be found at .

Tisdale was captured by the Confederates on May 24 and then taken to Libby prison, but later transferred  the infamous Andersonville prison.  Below is his first impressions upon entering. see May 24th 2011 "How I Became a Prisoner of War" for account of Tisdale's capture by the Confederates and May 26, "How I Became of POW Part II" for Tisdale's impression of the Libby Prison.
June 7th, 1864  (Andersonville prison)

. . . .At 2 p.m. were marched through the city about 3/4 of a mile and were soon on the way to Andersonville, Georgia.  Augusta, as we saw it seemed beautiful.  The citizens treated us civily and kindly, the boys willingly bringing us water.  A ride of some 250 miles and at noon of Tuesday, June 7th, were landed on a grassy plot with “Andersonville Stockwall” in our front. 
 Soon a wiry looking officer on a white horse rode along and gave orders “Fall in line.”  A squad of “blue jackets” for some reason were not obeying orders when the officer swore at them and ordered them into line.  This was our introduction to the prison commandant Captain Wirz.  He then displayed a  sheet of letter paper and called for a Sergeant.  It flashed upon me that this might mean some work to do and my dread of idle hours might be relieved, and I sprang forward to be told to count off 90 men and enroll them upon the paper that they made up the 3rd mess of detachment No. 76 that my duties would be to have supervision of them.  A daily roll call, a report, divide the rations, and for this work was to have double rations.
Just as the day close we were marched through the gates many of us feeling that the words “Abandon all ye who enter here” might have a real meaning to us.  Found it much worse a place than I had expected or that it had been represented to us by the citizens while en route.  So crowded that it seemed as if there was no room for us new comers to stretch out upon.  Got a ducking and laid down for the night wet but slept soundly.  Another shower during the night.
From the Library of Congress Collection

Monday, June 6, 2011

A God-fearing Man

This entry is from Diary of a Southern Refugee During the War by a Lady of Virginia (Mrs. Judith W. McGuire)
June 6, 1861

Mrs. General Lee has been with us for several days.  She is on her way to the lower country, and feels that she has left Arlington for an indefinite period.  They removed their valuables, silver, etc. but the furniture is left behind.  I never saw her more cheerful and she seems to have no doubt of our success.  We are looking to her husband as our leader with implicit confidence; for besides his great military abilities, he is a God-fearing man, and looks for help where alone it is to be found.
Robert E Lee, From Library of Congress Collection

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sharing the Dangers of the Battlefield

The entry is from All For The Union, The Civil War Diary and Letters of Elisha Hunt Rhodes, written a few days before the Battle of Mechanicsville.
June 4, 1862  Near Mechanicsville, VA

. . . .General McClellan has issued an order in which he states that he shall share the dangers of the battlefield with us (Why not?) and talks about relying upon the bayonet.  We can see the Rebel guns, and the shells fly over our camp.  They sound like a steam whistle.  We have not tents, and our blankets are wet most of the time.  But is it all for the Union.  May God Help us.

Gen'l Geo. B. McClellan, Library of Congress Collection

Friday, June 3, 2011

Willing and Anxious to Meet the Enemy

From The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. series I, Volume II, part I

General G T Beauregard makes a critical report to Jefferson Davis in the days before the first Battle of Bull Run. Did Davis listen?  

Camp Pickets, Va., June 3, 1861.
His Excellency President JEFFERSON DAVIS,
Richmond, Va.:

DEAR SIR: I arrived here on the 1st, at 2 p.m., and immediately examined the site of this encampment and the place of its proposed defenses. The former is an open country, traversed by good roads in every direction, without any strong natural features for the purposes of defense, and without running water nearer than three miles, except a few small springs at half that distance. The plans of the works are good, but too extensive to be finished in less than two or three weeks, and cannot be garrisoned with less than from three to four thousand men. As this position can be turned in every direction by an enemy, for the purpose of destroying the railroads intended to be defended by it, it becomes a question whether these works could be held more than a few days when thus isolated.

I have reconnoitered closely several of the fords on Bull Run and one on Occoquan Run (about three miles from here), which offer strong natural features of defense; but they are so numerous and far apart that only a much larger force than I have here at my command (say not less than from ten to fifteen thousand men) could hope to defend them all against a well-organized enemy of about twenty thousand men, who could select his point of attack. I must therefore either be re-enforced at once, as I have not more than about six thousand effective men, or I must be prepared to retire, on the approach of the enemy, in the direction of Richmond, with the intention of arresting him whenever and whenever the opportunity shall present itself, or I must march to meet him at one said fords, to sell our lives as dearly as practicable.

Badly armed and badly equipped as my command is at present, with several of its regiments having but one or two field officers, and having hardly any means of transportation, it would be expecting too much that I could meet with success the Northern foes that are preparing to attack us within a few days with all the advantages of arms, numbers, and discipline.

I beg, however, to remark that my troops are not only willing, but are anxious, to meet the enemies of our country under all circumstances.
I remain, dear sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
From The Photographic History of The Civil War in Ten Volumes: Volume One, The Opening Battles.
The Review of Reviews Co., New York. 1911 (Wikimedia Commons)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Moral Point of View

This entry is from Sanctified Trial: The Diary of Eliza Rhea Anderson Fain, a Confederate Woman in East Tennessee by John N. Fain

June 2, 1861  . . .
"How little they [northerners] know of the deep anguish many of us feel in regard to our servants for their immortal souls. And I do feel the judgments of Almighty God will rest upon the heads of the Northern people for their unjust interference and thereby thwarting our plans for the elevation of our colored people in a moral point of view." 
Group Portrait,  S. C. Landon, Photographer from Library of Congress Collection

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Divided or United

This entry is a letter written by Henry H. Hitchcock, 12th Infantry, New York (from

A letter to his aunt:

June 1, 1861, Washington [D C]

. . . .Down town you see nothing but soldiers, soldiers, soldiers. I see that the Volunteer force now amounts to 300,000. This is beside the regular army and the impression seems to be that the president will call for about as many more when congress meets.. . 

.. . My idea s that Jeff is sorry he has got his foot in now that he sees that the North are so united and that instead of a divided North and a united South he has a divided South and united North.. . .
Jefferson Davis caricature from NYPL Digital Gallery

Send Contrabands to Haiti

This entry is from The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 3, vol 1, Part 1 (Union Letters, Orders, Reports)

James Redpath, was journalist who had visited Haiti in 1860 in his capacity as a reporter. Later he served as director of Haiti's campaign to attract free black emigrants from the United States and Canada.  But the idea never really took off, and after the war, Redpath gave up on the idea. 

Here he writes a letter to the Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, suggesting Haiti as a partial solution to the contraband problem caused by the onset of the war.

HAYTIAN BUREAU OF EMIGRATION, Numbers 8 Washington Building, 221 Washington Street, Boston, June 1, 1861.
Honorable SIMON CAMERON,  Secretary of War of the United States:
SIR: I notice that since the decision of your Department that "the slaves held by rebels who may seek protection in our camps are to be
reported as contraband articles of war" has been published, a great number of negroes have flocked to the fortresses, forts, and war headquarters of our troops now stationed in the rebellion States. Since the number of these contraband articles will soon become too great to be employed in the labors of entrenching, &c., and must occasion great embarrassment to the troops, I take the liberty of making two suggestions to you, and of offering at the same time to carry them out without expense for my personal services to the Government of the United States:

First. The establishment of a central station, to which all living contraband articles (of a black and colored complexion), who may not be needed by the regiments from whom they seek protection, shall be sent until the war is over, or until the Cabinet may decide what final disposition to make of them.

Second. The shipment of all such said articles to Hayti as by the conduct of their former holders, or the decision of the Cabinet, may be declared free to the Republic of Hayti.
As a citizen of the United States I offer to superintend free of charge such a central station as is here recommended. As the agent of the Government of Hayti I offer to provide every negro whom you may confiscate with a comfortable home and a farm in Hayti.

Respectfully submitted.
James Redpath, from