Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cutting Off the Quinine

This entry is from the The Rebellion Record:  A Diary of American Events, Volume II, 1862 edited by Frank Moore.

Cutting Off The Quinine.—A Philadelphia paper suggests cutting off from the South their supply of quinine. "Capital idea," says Profundissimus; "we'll stop their physic, and make them die a natural death!"

No more quinine—let 'em shake;
No Spalding's pills—let their heads ache;
No morphine—let 'em lie awake;
No mercury for the rebels take,
    Though fever all their vitals bake;
No nitre drops, their heat to slake;
No splinters, though their necks they break;
And, above all, no Southern rake
Shall have his " wine for stomach's sake,"
Till full apology they make.
Part of an advertisement for Spalding's Cephalic Pills commonly published during the year 1861

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hoping Against Hope

This entry is from a letter written by Frederick Douglass to Rev. Samuel J. May on August 30, 1861.  An original image of this letter can be found at University of Rochester Frederick Douglass Project.

Frederick Douglass was a former slave who escaped to freedom some twenty years earlier and became a famous and tireless supporter for African American rights.  This letter is addressed to Samuel J. May, a well known radical reformer who championed  abolition and women's rights.  The letter starts by referencing a plan by somebody named Copeland.  Douglass didn't know Copeland, nor do I know to whom the letter is referring, but the topic gave Douglass a chance to air his feelings about the current climate of abolition in Washington in this powerful and prophetic letter.

I do not know Mr. Copeland, nor his plan, and I should like to know something of the latter before offering myself or procuring any other man to ask as his body servant.

It now seems to me that our Government has resolved that no good shall come to the negro from this war, and that it means by every means its power to convince the slaveholders that slavery is safer in than out of the union --  that the slave holding rebel is an object of higher regard than is his humble slave.  The hope that the war would finally become an abolition war has been dissipated  and men are now preparing for another attempt to preserve the liberty of the white man at the expense of that of the black.  I have tried to be hopeful and do still try to be so -- but I confess that it seems much like hoping against hope.  What I feared would result from sudden success has come  from defeat.  The Government defeated seems as little disposed to carry the war to the abolition point as before.  Who would have supposed that General Banks would have signalized the first week of his campaign on the Potomac by capturing all slaves and returning them to their masters?  He has done less to punish the rebels than to punish their victims. Only think too, of Fremont with Edward M. Davis for quartermaster, cooping up  two fugitive slaves in the arsenal of St Louis and when the poor fellows succeeded in getting away from these their federal and abolition friends, their loyal owners were assured that they might expect to be duly paid for their runaway chattels with your money and mine.  Looking at the government in the light of these and of similar examples, and the fact that the government consents only that negroes shall smell powder in the character of cooks and body servants in the army, my antislavery confidence is blown to the winds.  I wait and work -- relying more upon the  stern logic of events than upon any disposition of the Federal army towards slavery.

When I join any movement such as I suppose contemplated, I must have a country or the hope of a country under me, a government around me and some flag of a Northern or Southern Nation floating over me.  The negro can do much, but he can not hope to whip two nations at once.  Not even the allowance that the Government at Washington would wink at a John Brown movement could induce me to join it.  Nothing short of an open recognition of the negro's manhood, his rights as such to have a country, to bear arms, and to defend that country equally with others would induce me to join the army in any capacity.  I am sick of seeing mere isolated, extemporaneous insurrections the only result of which is the shooting and hanging of the few brave men who take part in them -- and not being willing to take the chances of such insurrection myself I could not advise any one else to take part in them.  Whenever the government is ready to make the war, a war for freedom and progress and will receive the services of black men on the same terms upon which it received that of other men I pledge myself to do one man's work in supplying the Government .  I honor Mr. Copeland for his supposed good intentions, but he will not succeed in getting the government to do justice by persuasion.  Nothing short of dire necessity will bring it to act wisely.
Frederick Douglass Ambrotype, 1856 from National Portrait Gallery,
Smithsonian Institution, as found at Wikimedia Commons

Monday, August 29, 2011

Like the Measles

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

AUGUST 29th.—We have intelligence from the North that immense preparations are being made for our destruction; and some of our people begin to say, that inasmuch as we did not follow up the victory at Manassas, it was worse than a barren one, having only exasperated the enemy, and stimulated the Abolitionists to renewed efforts. I suppose these critics would have us forbear to injure the invader, for fear of maddening him. They are making this war; we must make it terrible. With them war is a new thing, and they will not cease from it till the novelty wears off, and all their fighting men are sated with blood and bullets. It must run its course, like the measles. We must both bleed them and deplete their pockets.
Soldiers in the trenches before battle, Petersburg, Va., 1865, as found at

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Exiled Patriots, Fugitive Freemen

This entry is from the New York Times, August 28, 1861.
The citizens of East Tennessee were strongly opposed to secession.  42,000 men joined the ranks of the Union army, and most of them came from East Tennessee.

Fugitive Freemen.

The exodus of patriots from East Tennessee has fairly commenced.  . . . They, escaped from East Tennessee at night, and with their clothes barely, and, in some few cases, a trusty fire-lock; and in this sad plight took up their weary line of march, as many a poor negro slave has done before them, towards the North Star. The pitiable precession arrived at Danville, travel-stained, ragged and foot-sore; and were received by the hospitable citizens of that loyal Kentucky town, in silence and with profound emotion, but with prompt and earnest sympathy A general contribution of food was made, and a generous dinner was soon prepared and set in the Seminary grounds for the fugitives. It was an acceptable gift, and gladly partaken of, amid the on-looking of hundreds of citizens of the surrounding country, whom the novel scene had gathered together.

We can well believe the letters from Danville which say that the population of Kentucky through which the slow-moving caravan of fugitive freemen passed, had been excited to the highest pitch, and that a rage of honest resentment against the horrible despotism of JEFF DAVIS had seized all hearts. Surely, so incendiary a movement was never made in the South as this movement of exiled patriots out of it; and we greatly mistake the signs of the times, if it does not prove the fire-brand that will light the fires of civil war, down to the borders and on the soil of the State of Tennessee.

The detachment of fugitives whose arrival at Danville is thus noticed is but the vanguard of the movement from East Tennessee. Another band, almost as numerous, was reported to be close behind this first, and their arrival at Danville was expected next day. And as the cause of their flight is ineradicable, the stream will flow on till every Union family is banished, or till the edict of inexorable tyranny shall forbid their further flight, and keep them at home to be hunted. We have rumors of defection from their former loyalty of such men as BROWNLOW and Hon. T.A.R. NELSON, coming in tolerably well authenticated form. We hope to find the facts otherwise, but we cannot deny that these men have struggled along to this time in almost utter hopelessness. They have had reason to despair of the protection of the United States Government; for no sign [???] promise of relief has been held out to them while the bloodhounds of secession, encompassing them on every side, have been gnashing their teeth upon them.

If the Union men of East Tennessee had been succored in time we should have lost none of the gallant spirit whom despair has driven to surrender to treason, and at this day the men that are fleeing for their lives might have been holding the State of Tennessee steadfastly in the Union.

Union Soldier from East Tennessee, as found at

Friday, August 26, 2011

Base Material versus High Morality

This entry comes from the DeBow's Review (date not indicated),  as found in The Rebellion Record:  A Diary of American Events, Volume II, 1862 edited by Frank Moore.

Southern Criticism.—The army of the North is as remarkable for its base material as ours for its high morality. Respectable men do not volunteer to go a-rogueing, [shade of Webster!] and the attack on the South is avowedly a rogue's expedition. The Northern troops are, with very few exceptions, paupers, thieves, ignorant foreigners, murderers, bullies, and criminals of every description. They are not half so respectable or well-informed as our negroes, and it adds much to the indignation and exasperation of our troops that they have to meet these nomadic scoundrels.
A group of unidentified Union soldiers, From Library of Congress Collection

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Southern Gentleman's Take on the War

This entry comes from the Vanity Fair  (date not indicated),  as found in The Rebellion Record:  A Diary of American Events, Volume III, 1862 edited by Frank Moore.

I don't appwove this hawid waw;
Those 'dweadful bannahs hawt my eyes; 
And guns and dwums are such a baw, —
Why don't the pawties compwamise?

Of cawce, the twoilet has its chawms;
But why must all the vulgah cwowd
Pawsist in spawting unifawms,
In cullaws so extwemely loud?

And then the ladies --  pwecious deahs ! —
I mawk the change on ev'wy bwow;
Bai Jove! I weally have my feahs
They wathah like the hawid waw!

To heah the chawming cweatures talk,
Like patwons of the bloody wing,
Of waw and all its dawtv wawk, —
It doesn't seem a pwappah thing!

I called at Mrs. Gweene's last night,

To see her niece. Miss Mawy Hertz,
And found her making — cwushing sight! -- 
The weddest kind of flannel shirts!

Of cawce I wose and sought the daw,
With fewy flashing from my eyes!
I can't appwove this hawid waw ; --
Why don't the pawties compwamise ?
Illustration Civil War Union Envelope, Caricature of a "Southern Gentleman",
from the Library of Congress Collection

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Nefarious Affair

This entry is a letter that appeared in the Newspapers, from then former Governor Francis Thomas, staunch Republican and politician residing in Maryland, as found in The Rebellion Record:  A Diary of American Events, Volume II, 1862 edited by Frank Moore.  It was a dangerous time to be a politician, especially a Republican in Maryland.
Ex-governor Thomas, of Maryland, gives the following account of the attempt of the Maryland rebels upon his life:
Cumbebland, August 24, 1861.
Dear SiR: As an incident of to-day may be misrepresented, I will communicate to you the precise facts of the case. I left here this morning at half-past six, for my home, in the railroad train. Ten miles from this place the cowcatcher of the engine ran against a pile of eight railroad ties, which had been carefully placed across the track. Fortunately six of the ties were scattered right and left of the road, and the train continued to run for about five hundred yards, when it was stopped by the resistance to its progress produced by the two remaining ties, which were so situated that one end rested on the engine and the other ploughed along the road. As soon as the cars halted, the engineer and fireman leaped off, and soon removed the two ties, while the baggage-master was out to see what had occurred to arrest our progress. All this happened in almost an instant, and before I had paid much attention to what was occurring.
At that moment the baggage-master exclaimed, "There is an armed man on the road behind us." This caused tho thought to flash across my mind that this accident had been contrived, and I called the conductor to the platform on which I stood, and directed him to put tho cars in motion by pulling the bell-rope. The conductor seemed at a loss to know how to act, but obeyed my directions, and as soon as the train began to move we were fired upon by a crowd of more than one hundred armed men, who had appeared upon the road out of the bushes near the spot where the ties had been placed on the road. We all escaped uninjured, although twenty or thirty shots were fired before we were out of reach. There were no persons on the train as passengers, but an old black man, two aged white men, and myself. This whole nefarious affair was, I have no doubt, contrived against my liberty, if not my life, by spies resident in this place, who notified their allies in Virginia that I was to pass on the railroad this morning.  And nothing saved me but that coolness and presence of mind which prompted me, under Providence, to see and guard against the danger prompt as electricity.
Please hurry on the arming of our volunteers in Frederick, as I am doing here, that we may be ready for spies within and traitors without our State. Yours, respectfully,
Francis Thomas
Francis Thomas, from the Library of Congress Collection

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Female Rebels: How to Manage Them

This entry comes from the Louisville Journal (date not indicated),  as found in The Rebellion Record:  A Diary of American Events, Volume II, 1862 edited by Frank Moore.

The Louisville Courier is very pathetic in speaking of a little paragraph of ours, wherein we stated that crinoline contains many a contraband article, and advised the detectives to be on the look-out. Sturdy patriotism, however, is getting to be proof against sickly pathos. It is notorious that hundreds, if not thousands of pistols, have been smuggled under the cover of crinoline into the Southern Confederacy, for the killing of citizens of the United States, and the thing should be stopped. Our neighbor appears to think that the only way to prevent contrabands from being smuggled under ladies' dresses, is to employ the great "he creatures" to search the blushing innocents. He is a greenhorn. Doesn't he know with what delicacy, and yet how effectively, these things are managed in foreign ports? If a woman, carrying under her dress deadly weapons to be used by rebels against our people, blushes at being examined in a private room by another woman, let her blush. Better that her blood should mount to her face, than that the blood of our countrymen should be shed through her crime. Smuggling pistols under female hoops is not a legitimate mode of hooping barrels.
"The Augusta" from the Peterson Magazine December 1861, from  NYPL Digital Gallery

Monday, August 22, 2011

Treason of the Newspapers

 This entry is an excerpt from the Cincinnati Press, as found in The Rebellion Record:  A Diary of American Events, Volume II, 1862 edited by Frank Moore.  It discusses General Rosecrans' order of August 20, 1861 regarding information published in newspapers.


General W. S. Rosecrans, commanding the Army of the Occupation in Western Virginia, in a General order bearing the date of 20th inst. "invites the aid of the press to prevent the enemy from learning through it the position, strength, and movements of the troops under his command."  "Such information," he continues, "is of the greatest service to the enemy, and deprives the commander of our forces of all the advantages which arise form the secrecy of concentration and surpise -- advantages which are constantly enjoyed by the rebels, whose press never appears to betray them." 

General Rosecrans is a humorist.  He invites the tongues of rumor, the trumpet of common fame, the very embodiment of gossip, the thing which is nothing if not clamorous , to aid him in holding its peace -- invites it.  Why does he not go forth into some of the valleys in the vicinity of his camp, and invite the echoes that inhabit the neighboring hill-sides to be kind enough to intermit their performances?  We can imagine them replying to his solicitations:  If we cease to tattle, what are we?  Who will know that we exist?  How shall we know it ourselves?  He can we?  Are se not vox preterea nihil?  Take away the voice, and what remains? . . ..

Yet these things have been tolerated; nay they have been encouraged.  Every officer from Commanding General to Corporal, has seemed to think it desirable to have the correspondent of a newspaper at his elbow, to sing his praises, put him right with the public, and be the convenient vehicle to transmit to the world a knowledge of his exploits.  They very Commander-in-Chief of the army invites the editor of a New York Journal to dinner, and develops him the entire plan of a campaign, which, on the next day, makes its appearance in print, semi-editorially and semi-officially, without any suspicion of breach of confidence in the relator.
William Stark Rosecrans, by Brady, from Library of Congress Collection

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hordes of Hungry Rebels

This entry is an excerpt from a Proclamation made by Governor A. G. Curtin of Pennsylvania on August 20th, 1861, imploring military enlistment,  as found in The Rebellion Record:  A Diary of American Events, Volume II, 1862 edited by Frank Moore.

Washington is again believed to be in danger.  The President has made an earnest appeal for all the men that can be furnished to be sent forward without delay.  If Pennsylvania now puts forth her strength, the hords [sic] of hungry rebels may be swept down to the latitudes where they belong.  If she falters, the seat of tumults, disorder, and rapine may be transferred to her own soil.  Let every man so act that he will not be ashamed to look at his mother, his wife, or sisters . . . .

Governor A. G. Curtin, from the Library of Congress Collection

Friday, August 19, 2011

That Vindictive Feeling

This entry is from The Sherman Letters, Correspondence Between General and Senator Sherman from 1837 to 1891, Book by Rachel Sherman Thorndike, 1894.

Letter dated August 19, 1861 William Sherman to his brother Senator John Sherman

. . . There is no time to be lost and I will not spare my individual efforts, though I still feel as one groping in the dark. Slowly but surely the public is realizing what I knew all the time, the strong vindictive feeling of the whole South.
William Sherman as found at

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Spy Drinking Tea

This entry is from Mary Chesnut's Civil War, edited by C. Vann Woodward. Mary Chesnut  was married to James Chesnut, United States Senator from South Carolina, 1859-1861, and afterward an Aide to Jefferson Davis, and a Brigadier General in the Confederate Army.
From an entry dated August 18, 1861:
Found it quite excting to have a spy drinking his tea with us.  Perhaps because I knew his profession, I did not like his face.  He is said to have a scheme by which Washington will fall into our hands like an overripe peach.

The tea drinker was identified in the 1860s Journal as George Donellan, a member of the Confederate spy ring in Washington that had sent information on Union troop movements to Beauregard before Bull Run.  Apparently his "scheme" never came to "fruition."

Head of a Confederate Spy, from Library of Congress Collection

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Plea to Enlist

Today's entry is excerpts from a proclamation made by Governor Richard Yates, of Illinois on August 17th, 1861 urging military enrollments, as found in The Rebellion Record:  A Diary of American Events, Volume II, 1862 edited by Frank Moore.

. . . Illinoians!  the war is on your hands -- the enemy now in large numbers is marching toward your borders.  Every prominent point on your rivers is threatened with attack.  Shall it be said that the numbers, whose object it is to sustain a Government as good as ours, are not one-third so large as those which are in arms to put it down!  Shall the handful of our first volunteers be required to oppose vastly superior numbers?  How long shall the brave Siegel in the unequal contest be forced to retreat?  How long shall the blood of the noble Lyon cry from the ground unavenged?  How long shall the fatal blunder and foul blot of Manassas stain our escutcheon?  

The cause in which you are to engage is a holy one.  You are to fight for a Government you love; the very best Government on earth, endeared to you by the boundlessness of the blessing it confers; which has protected and nursed you with all the fondness of a mother for her child; which has secured our country respect at home and abroad, and made the title "American citizen" prouder than that of "Roman citizen" in the days of the Scipios and Caesars.  What undying memories cluster around it!  What joys, what fears, what tears, what smiles, and destinies, what hopes are associated with it!  The gift of Washington -- the hope of our children -- the asylum of the oppressed of every nation on earth; to aim for its perpetuity is the loftiest summit of patriotic aspiration -- and to vindicate it, the most shining height of human achievement.  To fight for -- to live for -- to die for such a Government -- is glorious.
Richard Yates, from the Library of Congress Collection

Monday, August 15, 2011

No Ice in Washington

This entry is from the Richmond Daily Dispatch, August 15, 1861.  Ice was relied upon during the summer to help beat the heat, but apparently Washington went without during the late summer of 1861.
--In this sweltering weather, with the thermometer ranging from one hundred to one hundred and twenty degrees, the ice dealers announce that their stock of ice is exhausted, and that there is no more to be had there this summer. Five large vessels, loaded with the precious commodity, have been over due now more than ten days, and the consignees there have come to the reluctant conclusion that the vessels have been captured by "the pirates of the gulf." The ice-dealers say also that it is impossible to get vessels to bring ice here, because vessel-owners are afraid of losing, in this manner, both vessel and cargo. So that they have the very pleasant prospect before them of living through the hot months of August and September, without ice.
Washington D. C. view from Georgtown heights, with Aqueduct Bridge and Mason's Island, created by William Morris Smith, 1865, from Library of Congress collection

Days of Miracles

This entry, recording an act of heroism of Biblical proportions is from the The Southern Recorder of Milledgeville from September 10, 1861, reprinted from the Richmond Whig, wherein it appeared at an earlier date. 

Striking Incident in the Fight at Manassas --- Probably no battle ever fought called forth more remarkable instances of individual herosim than the contest at Manassas.  In the progress of the struggle, regiments,and even companies, became separated, and in many cases there was a hand-to hand contest between individuals of the opposing armies. 

At this stage of the battle  an incident occurred,which, probably, has no parallel since the days of David and Goliah.  A  young man from August County, named Stitzer, a member of Capt Grinnan's company, found himself confronted with a tall Yankee. Stitzer has discharged his musket,and the Yankee had loaded his, and was about to but on the cap to shoot Stitzer.  It was rather an awkward predicament to be placed in, as there was no time for parley.  Stitzer, fortunately, retained his self-possession, and finding the chances of a contest with muskets very much against him, promptly threw his down, and seizing a good sized stone, threw it with great forced and unerring aim, and struck the Yankee between the eyes, crushing in hisskukll and killing him instantly.  Stitzer, when a boy, was accustomed to throwing stones, and had acquired such skill that he could bring a squirrl from the tallest tree in two or three trials.  This incident is vouched for by two intelligent officers of the regiment, and   may be relied on as authentic.

Verily the days of miracles do not seem to have passed! -- Richmond Whig

Unidentified Confederate soldier from the Library of Congress Collection

Friday, August 12, 2011

Recognizing the Hand of God in This Terrible Visitation

Today's entry is a portion (one of the whereas clauses) of Abraham Lincoln's Proclamation of August 12, 1861 appointing the last Thursday in September as a day of humiliation, prayer and fasting for all the people of the nation."   A strong statement for extraordinary times. . ..

 And whereas, when our own beloved Country, once, by the blessing of God, united, prosperous and happy, is now afflicted with faction and civil war, it is peculiarly fit for us to recognize the hand of God in this terrible visitation, and in sorrowful remembrance of our own faults and crimes as a nation and as individuals, to humble ourselves before Him, and to pray for His mercy, -- to pray that we may be spared further punishment, though most justly deserved; that our arms may be blessed and made effectual for the re-establishment of law, order and peace, throughout the wide extent of our country; and that the inestimable boon of civil and religious liberty, earned under His guidance and blessing, by the labors and sufferings of our fathers, may be restored in all its original excellence: --

Abraham Lincoln from the Library of Congress Colleciton

Thursday, August 11, 2011

It Is Too Late Now

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

AUGUST 11TH [1861]. —There is a whisper that something like a rupture has occurred between the President and Gen. Beauregard; and I am amazed to learn that Mr. Benjamin is inimical to Gen. B. I know nothing of the foundation for the report; but it is said that Beauregard was eager to pass with his army into Maryland, immediately after the battle, and was prevented. It is now quite apparent, from developments, that a small force would have sufficed to take Washington, a few days or weeks after the battle. But was Beauregard aware of the fact, before the opportunity ceased to exist ? It is too late now.
Pierre Gustave Toutain Beauregard, from

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Union General's Premonition

This entry is from "An Address Delivered by Hon. Albert E. Gebene at the Annual Meeting of the Society, Topeka, January 15, 1895"  from Transactions of the Kansas Historical Society. 1889-'96, Vol. V.

Gebene spoke on the Battle of Wilson Creek, and part of his speech was devoted to the demise of General Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union General to perish in Battle during the Civil War.

The battle occurred on August 10, 1861.  The night before the battle :

Lyon and [John McAllister] Schofield, his adjutant-general, found a wide crevice between two rocks and laid down side by side. The latter expressed a fear that his companion was not comfortable, but Lyon replied that he was "all right," that he "was born among the rocks." After a while, when Schofield supposed that Lyon had gone to sleep, the general said: "I am a believer in presentiments, and I have a feeling that I can't get rid of that I shall not survive this battle."
The next day the battle raged for hours . .. until
. . . .At this instant a line of men was seen at right angles to the column of  Lyon, and a question arose as to who they were. There was a possibility of  their being [Franz] Sigel's men.  Lyon, [Col. Robert B.] Mitchell and an orderly rode out toward them. Three officers at the same time advanced from their lines and asked  "Who are you?" From some cause Lyon at once saw they were rebels, perhaps he recognized them as old army associates, at any rate he turned to his body-guard, which had come up, and said: "Shoot them! Shoot them!"   Instantly there was a volley from a thicket a few rods away and Lyon received
a bullet in the heart. Mitchell was hit in the thigh at the same time, but caught Lyon as he was falling and lowered him from his horse to the ground.

To his orderly, Albert Lehman, he murmured, "I am killed; take care of my body." Lieutenant Shroyer of the Second and two men sprang forward and bore the corpse through the ranks to the rear. Lehman was crying and making a great noise, and was told to keep still. The face was then covered with a handkerchief and the guard told to keep the fact of Lyon's death from the men.

This simple recital is gathered from personal interviews with soldiers who
witnessed the event, officers within speaking distance of Lyon when he fell, numerous letters, and lastly, the official records of the battle. It differs from the popular accounts which have given inspiration for the cheap pictures, the only representations extant, of the death of Lyon. 

There was none of the impetuous dash and wild clamor of war, "peal on peal afar;" no leaping steed, frenzied with the clash of arms; no fluttering pennants, nor host of aides in brilliant uniforms to signalize the event; . . . .  Simply a quiet, unassuming soldier, bareheaded, and bloody from crown to foot, sitting on a jaded horse with a few comrades at his side. In this way Lyon fell; the first great sacrifice of the war; the only leader who had rightly interpreted secession, and the only one who had seized it by the throat or seriously threatened its overthrow. At the time of his death there was no general in the union army worthy to be compared with him. What he had  done and attempted to do had already endeared him to the whole north. Suddenly elevated from a captain to a general, he at once disclosed the qualities of leadership, roused the hopes of his countrymen by his tremendous energy in pursuing and sublime audacity in fighting overwhelming odds, and crowded into two months a career as brilliant as it was brief, and as precious to the cause as its ending was bloody and pathetic.
Nathaniel Lyon, from

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Young and the Fearless

This entry is from the August 9th 1861 Richmond Dispatch, and tells the story of one boy who got another chance to be a man.
A Gallant Southern Boy.
A correspondent sends to the Dispatch the subjoined extract of a letter from an Ohio captain to the editor of the Toledo (Ohio) Blade, published in that paper on the 26th of July. Such testimony, from an enemy, of the bravery of our troops, and of an act of gallantry on the part of some unknown Virginia boy, (which has few parallels even in our army of heroes,) cannot fail to command the attention of every reader:

"About 1 o'clock there was a short cessation of hostilities — the firing was only heard in the distance. Our Brigade had been wrestling for several hours with opposing forces, principally Virginians, and were ensconced in thickets on each side of a field of no great dimensions. We occupied the Northern slope of a hill of considerable elevation, and also the top of the hill, whilst the enemy held the Southern slope.  Suddenly we observed to emerge from the opposing ranks a boy, apparently 16 or 17 years of age, armed with a musket and pistols. He double-quicked to the top of the hill, within sixty or eighty yards of our place of concealment; saw an officer on horseback, took deliberate aim at him, fired, and the officer fell mortally wounded. About the same time my company of 80 men fired at him, and he fell, I supposed pierced by many balls. What was my surprise to see this proud and over-brave boy rise from the ground only slightly wounded, seize his musket, wave his cap in triumph in our faces, and rejoin his comrades, one of whom had followed him, I suppose to bring him back. Such fearlessness I never saw before."

Unidentified Young Confederate Soldier, from the Library of Congress Collection

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Life Spared

This entry is from the Second Wisconsin website (
The following remarkable incident occurred in Dodgeville, Wisconsin.
When the war first broke out, a young man who resided in the above village joined a company commanded by Captain Tom Allen, which was afterwards incorporated in the Second Regiment of Wisconsin Volunteers, and was present at the disastrous battle of Bull Run. The intelligence came back to his family at Dodgeville that he was slain upon the battle-field, and his body left to be cared for by the enemy. The news nearly killed his affectionate mother, and she, with the remainder of those relatives who had been nearly related to him, wore mourning for him who had poured out his blood and sacrificed his young life for his country.

The gnawing grief had preyed upon these loving hearts for many months, until they learned to view it with a species of resignation. What could then depict their unspeakable astonishment and joy, when he walked into the house, hearty and well! 

His story is briefly told thus: He had been left severely wounded, with many others, upon the battle-field. After the engagement was over, and his friends had retreated in confusion, a company of secessionists came where they were lying, and actually bayoneted his wounded companions before his eyes. They even went so far as to stab the bodies of senseless corpses, lest there be some spark of life left in them! A man came to where he was lying on the ground and raised his ensanguined weapon for the fatal thrust, which he fully expected would end his mortal career. He closed his eyes, fairly sick with the horrid emotion, and waited to receive his fate. His enemy hesitated. He lowered his musket, and finally raised him carefully up and gave him water from his canteen. He was afterwards removed to the hospitals of Richmond, where he received careful treatment and at last was exchanged and allowed to return home.

Collected by Frank Moore, 1889
Unidentified soldier in uniform with arm in sling in front of painted backdrop showing military camp and American flag, from Library of Congress Collection

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Incessant Wants of 5,000 Men

This entry is from Home Letters of General Sherman, by William T. Sherman, 1820-1891.  Sherman  is writing to his wife.

[Undated: apparently August, 1861.]
. . . .The incessant wants of 5,000 men, all complaining, with sick wives and children and fathers at home, wanting to go to Georgetown and Washington and every-wheres where they should not go, growling about clothing, shoes, beef, pork, and everything! Now in an army all these things are regulated by sergeants, captains and colonels. A brigadier only has to operate through them. An irregularity in a regiment is checked by a word to the colonel; but here every woman within five miles who has a peach stolen or roasting ear carried off comes to me to have a guard stationed to protect her tree, and our soldiers are the most destructive men I have ever known. It may be other volunteers are just as bad, indeed the complaint is universal, and I see no alternative but to let it take its course. When in Fairfax County we had a majority of friends. Now I suppose there is not a man, woman or child but would prefer Jeff Davis or the Czar of Russia to govern them rather than an American volunteer army. . . .
William Tecumsah Sherman, Brady National Photographic Art Gallery, from Library of Congress Collection

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Enough Was Done For Glory

This entry is from Jefferson Davis:  Ex-President of the Confederate States of America, A Memoir by His Wife (1890) by Varina Davis.  Davis is consoling Beauregard for not taking Washington after the first Battle of Bull Run.

RICHMOND, VA, August 4, 1861
My DEAR SIR: I think you are unjust to yourself in putting your failure to pursue the enemy to Washington to the account of short supplies of subsistence and transportation. Under the circumstances of our army, and in the absence of the knowledge since acquired, if indeed the statements be true, it would have been extremely hazardous to have done more than was performed. You will not fail to remember that, so far from knowing that the enemy was routed, a large part of our forces were moved by you, in the night of the 21st, to repel a supposed attack upon our right, and that the next day's operations did not fully reveal what has since been reported of the enemy's panic. Enough was done for glory, and the measure of duty was full. Let us rather show the untaught that their desires are unreasonable, than, by dwelling on the possibilities recently developed, give form and substance to the criticisms always easy to those who judge after the event. With sincere esteem, I am your friend,
Jefferson Davis, photograph by Mathew Brady, from Library of Congress Collection

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I Very Much Dislike Speaking of Myself

This entry in an excerpt from  a letter from U. S. Grant wrote to his father, dated August 3, 1861  from Letters of Ulysses S. Grant to His Father and His Youngest Sister, 1857-78, by Ulysses S. Grant, Edited by Jesse Grant Cramer (As found at  I think this quote speaks to Grant's character; He reveals that he is more concerned with results than recognition.

I see from the papers that my name has been sent in for Brigadier General. This is certainly very complimentary to me, particularly as I have never asked a friend to intercede in my behalf. My only acquaintance with men of influence in the State was whilst on duty at Springfield, and I then saw so much pulling and hauling for favors that I determined never to ask for anything, and never have, not even a colonelcy. I wrote a letter to Washington tendering my services, but then declined Governor Yates' and Mr. Trumbull's endorsement.

My services with the regiment with which I now am have been highly satisfactory to me. I took it in a very disorganized, demoralized and insubordinate condition, and have worked it up to a reputation equal to the best, and, I believe, with the good will of all the officers and all the men. Hearing that I was likely to be promoted, the officers, with great unanimity, have requested to be attached to my command. This I don't want you to read to others for I very much dislike speaking of myself.. . .
U. S. Grant photograph by Mathew Brady from Library of Congress Collection

The Real War Has Not Yet Begun

This entry is from Home letters of General Sherman by William T. Sherman.  Sherman is writing to his wife, telling her about Bull Run, and what the future forebodes, "the destruction of all able-bodied men of this generation.".  He knew exactly what he was getting into. It was about this time that Lincoln appointed him a brigadier general.
Washington, August 3, 1861.

I sent you a long letter a few days ago, telling you all about Bull Run. The disaster was serious in its effect on the men who, whether they ought or not to be, are discouraged beyond measure. All the volunteers continue in a bad state, but we must do the best we can with them. " It seems regulars do not enlist, because of the preference always given to volunteers, whose votes are counted even in the ranks. I doubt if our democratic form of government admits of that organization and discipline without which an army is a mob. Congress is doing all that is possible in the way of laws and appropriations, and McClellan is determined to proceed slowly and cautiously.

I wish we had more regulars to tie to. We must be the assailant and our enemy is more united in feeling, and can always choose their ground. It was not entrenchments but the natural ground and woods of which they took good advantage, while we in pursuit had to cross open fields and cross the crests of hills which obstructed a view of their forces. This must continue to be the case . . . .
.  .  . Beauregard must have suffered much, else his sagacity would have forced him to take Washington, which he well might.

I prefer you should go to housekeeping in Lancaster. Don't come here. I would not permit you to visit my camp. I have as much as I can do to keep my officers and men from living in Washington, and shall not set a bad example. I never expect again to move you from Lancaster.

The simple chances of war, provided we adhere to the determination of subduing the South, will, of course, involve the destruction of all able-bodied men of this generation and go pretty deep into the next. 'Tis folly to underestimate the task, and you see how far already the nation has miscalculated. The real war has not yet begun.
An illustration from the book, Life and Deeds of General W T Sherman , Including the Story of His Great March to the Sea  by Henry Davenport Northrup

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Try It, Sisters

Today's entry comes from the Tennessee Baptist, August 3, 186, from the Art Circle Public Library's Website.

August 3, 1861 - The parable of the patriotic, self-sacrificing Tennessee plantation mistress
A Noble Woman.
We overheard a conversation some few weeks since, which threw light upon the character of our fair countrywomen. A lady, young and beautiful, a graduate of one of our most popular Female Colleges, married the choice of her heart. They have a large plantation and a strong force to work it. He felt it to be his duty to lead a company of his neighbors and friends to the field of war to meet the invaders of our homes. But she was in such a condition that he hesitated to go from home, and for a time she was not quite willing that he should
leave her.

After some deliberation and consultation with friends, however, she said she earnestly desired him to go. ["]But who will take care of the plantation?"

"I can do it myself."

"You will need at least an overseer?"

"No, I can manage better than any overseer we are likely to procure."

"You must not be left alone."

"No, I will get some sensible woman for a companion. That is all I need or wish."

"What if you are disturbed or insulted?"

"I can shoot as well as my husband."

"What if your servants rebel against your authority?"

"There is no danger. They love me too well, and if need be I can make them fear me."

"Then you really wish your husband to go?"

"I do not like to be separated from him. It is a terrible trial, but some must go.  And between submission to the North and the short separation from my husband it is easy to choose. I can't go and fight but I can stay and take his place on the plantation while he is gone. Let him go and do his duty. I will stay and do mine."

Tennessee and all the South is full of just such women. They can and will, to a great extent, take upon themselves the cares and labors of the loved ones who have gone to the camp, so far at least as business is concerned. Why will not our sisters in the churches do the same, so far as practicable, in the labors of the church and the Sabbath School? Much or most that is to be done in the school they can do as well or better than anybody else. Try it sisters. Try it at once. Don't let your school disband or if it has done so, don't let another Sabbath pass till you gather it again. Don't wait for some one else to begin. Begin yourself, by going at once to the others who will help you, and secure the hearty cooperation of all. These times of trouble and distress are no time to neglect the duties of religion. When the dampness of death broods over the land the light of religion is more needful than ever. Take your places, then, at once, my sisters in the Lord. Fill up, at once, the ranks left vacant by our brethren who have
gone to defend you and the "other loved ones at home" from horrors worse than death. Don't let the cause of God, at home, suffer from their absence any more than the good lady referred to above intends to let the interest of her noble husband suffer in his absence.
A. C. D.
Tennessee Baptist, August 3, 1861.NOTE 1
NOTE 1: As cited in:
From an 1861 Godey's Ladies Book ( NYPL Digital Gallery)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Confederate Regiments That Use Scalping Knives?

Today's entry is an excerpt from a letter by Tandy Walker, a Confederate officer and mixed blood Choctaw Indian.  Here he writes about the 1st Choctaw & Chickasaw Mounted Rifles and their eagerness to serve the Confederacy.

Scullyville, August 1, 1861.
President of the Confederate States:

SIR: I have the honor to inform you that the regiment of mounted rifles authorized for the service of the Confederate States from among the Choctaws and Chickasaws has been raised, and is now fully organized according to law. When supplied with arms, I can justly state no more ardent, efficient, and patriotic body of warriors will be found under the banner of Southern independence.

It is an unkind and certainly an incorrect statement, made by some Southern journals, that the Indian warriors design using the scalping-knife in any conflict in which they may be engaged with the enemy. These warriors are a civilized people, are Christians in principle, observe the Army Regulations, and drill with commendable closeness, and will show, when proper occasion offers, they are worthy the age, the cause, and the brotherhood they share with their white allies.

There are two Choctaw and one Chickasaw companies organized, besides the number authorized, that are very anxious to enter the service. I learn there will shortly be organized one Choctaw and one Chickasaw company more, expecting to be called into the field. . . .  
Adjutant-General Army Choctaw Nation
(As found at

Later, the Indians' zeal to fight for the South was tempered when they found out that neither arms nor pay were arranged for them (per article at Wiki, "Choctaw in the American Civil War"
Tandy Walker