Friday, September 30, 2011

The Bell-Wether

This entry is from the Louisville Journal as related in The Rebellion Record:  A Diary of American Events, Volume II, 1862 edited by Frank Moore.
Among the Tennesseeans now in camp in Kentucky is a little fellow of about five feet four inches, with gray and grizzled beard, dilapidated nose, and an eye as keen as a fish-hawk's. The manner of his escape was remarkable and highly ingenious. He headed a large squad of his neighbors, and eluded the rebel pickets by wearing a big sheep's bell on his head, and bleating away over the mountains, followed by a herd of men who did likewise. By this stratagem he deceived the rebel scouts, and passed within a few feet of them through one of the most important mountain passes. Old Macfarland (for that is the name of the hero of the bell) thus won the sobriquet of the bell-wether, by which name he passes all through the camps. He is a rough and good-humored old man, with a full supply of mother wit, and speaks of himself as ‘under size and over age for a soldier,’ which he literally is.
Unidentified soldier in Union cavalry uniform and Hardee hat with European import saber
and French LeFaucheux pinfire revolver from the Library of Congress Collection

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Share and Retribution

Today's entry is from the New York Times, September, 29, 1861, written by an unidentified ardently pro Union man attacking the descendants of two of the country's most revered politicians, George Washington and Henry Clay.  These descendants were John A. Washington great nephew of George Washington and James B. Clay son of Henry Clay, both Confederates.

John A. Washington owned Mount Vernon and had sold it a couple of years prior to the outbreak of the war to the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union, thus saving it from a state of disrepair.  This group still oversees Mount Vernon today. Washington served as an aide-de-camp on the staff of General Robert E. Lee during the war.

James B. Clay was the son of Henry Clay.  The house that Clay originally built was deteriorating, so James B. Clay tore it down and built a new house, which still stands today.  James B. Clay also was  Kentuckian who sympathized with the Confederates, and was arrested and charged with treason.  He eventually ended up in Canada, where he died from tuberculosis.

JOHN A. WASHINGTON, as heir to the Father of his Country, became the owner of Mount Vernon, the spot of all others which the American people hold most sacred, for there lived and died the great WASHINGTON, and there his remains are entombed.

In Kentucky is another consecrated spot, a Mecca towards which the pilgrimages of American patriotism must always tend, for there lived HENRY CLAY, and there is his grave. His home, with its surroundings, and the tomb of the honored dead, passed into the hands of his son and heir, JAMES B. CLAY.

JOHN A. WASHINGTON made merchandise of his inheritance, speculating through its agency upon the patriotism of the American people, -- levying black mail upon their affection for the memory of his great ancestor! It was fit that such a man should be a traitor. Without treason against the Union, his mercenary soul would lack the rounded proportions of perfect degeneracy, and the dishonor and shame which he brought upon the name he bore would be incomplete. He therefore became a traitor.

JAMES B. CLAY tore away and bartered for money, even the beams of his father's house, fashioned into canes and snuff-boxes, making his slaves the vendors -- exacting from them a rigid accounting at night for their sale of the sacred relics during the day. It was fit that he, too, should be a traitor, that the gulf between his name and the fame of his illustrious father should be wide as eternity.

JOHN A. WASHINGTON was killed in an ignoble skirmish which his treason occasioned, but which even his cowardice could not enable him to shun.

JAMES B. CLAY, having been detected in his treason and arrested in his flight, is on his way to prison at Fort Lafayette, where he will remain to be pointed out among hundreds of other rebels as the man who was traitor to his name as well as to his country the least excusable and the meanest of them all.
John A Washington from

James B Clay from

Inciting Men to Heroic Deeds

This entry was found at the Library of Congress website in an article about Civil War bands.

One of the few references to bands in the Civil War appeared in Dwight's Journal, dated September 28, 1861:

Gilmore's celebrated band has been engaged to accompany Col. Stephenson's Regiment to the war. The band will consist of sixty-eight pieces, including twenty drummers and twelve buglers. Such a band was never enjoyed by a regiment before, and it will probably incite the men to heroic deeds if loyal men can need any new stimulus in such a time as this. The band will appear three times more before the Boston public at the Promenade Concerts.
Band of the 8th New York State Militia, Arlington, Va., June, 1861, from the Library of Congress Collection

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Black Drink

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

Yopon Tea.—In view of the probable scarcity of tea and coffee during the war, we see the papers are recommending the use of the leaves and twigs of the Yopon, an evergreen which grows spontaneously on our coast. The Yopon is a common drink on the banks, and is highly esteemed by many. We have heard it said that when it is well cured, it is greatly improved when the milk and molasses are boiled with it. It is rather vulgar to use sugar for sweetening Yopon. Molasses is the thing. A venerable lady, who lived to a considerable age on the banks, once speaking of the healthiness of Yopon as a drink, said, "Bless the Lord! Yopon has kept me out of heaven these twenty years."—Raleigh Standard.
It is interesting to note that according to Wiki, Native Americans also made tea from this plant, more commonly called yaupon today.  The Native Americans referred to it as "black drink", and used it for male only purification and unity rituals.  The ceremony included vomiting, hence its current-day scientific name for this plant, Ilex vomitoria.  The active ingredient is caffeine, so I imagine it would make a good substitute for beverages otherwise scarce.

Photograph of an unidentified Confederate solider from North Carolina from the Library of Congress collection.  He doesn't look old enough to drink the likes of Yopon tea.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Colorful Cavalry Coats

This entry comes from  Famous Adventures and Prison Escapes of the Civil War. This is from A War Diary of Union Woman in the South, by Dora Richards Miller, edited by G. W. Cable.  The diary was originally published anonymously to protect the writer's identity.  She was a teacher in New Orleans.   

The entry is from September 25, 1861.
Sept. 25.—When I opened the door of Mrs. F.'s room on my return, the rattle of two sewing-machines and a blaze of color met me.

"Ah, G., you are just in time to help us; these are coats for Jeff Thompson's men. All the cloth in the city is exhausted; these flannel-lined oil-cloth table-covers are all we could obtain to make overcoats for Thompson's poor boys. They will be very warm and serviceable."

" Serviceable— yes! The Federal army will fly when they see those coats! I only wish I could be with the regiment when these are shared around." Yet I helped make them. 

Seriously, I wonder if any soldiers will ever wear these remarkable coats—the most bewildering combination of brilliant, intense reds, greens, yellows, and blues in big flowers meandering over as vivid grounds; and as no table-cover was large enough to make a coat, the sleeves of each were of a different color and pattern. However, the coats were duly finished. Then we set to work on gray pantaloons, and I have just carried a bundle to an ardent young lady who wishes to assist. A slight gloom is settling down, and the inmates here are not quite so cheerfully confident as in July.
General M. Jeff Thompson, from the Mollus Collection ,
United States Army Heritage and Education Center, Carlisle, PA.

Contrabands Enlist In The U. S. Navy

This entry commemorates the first time African Americans were officially allowed to serve in the U. S. military, in the Navy.  It would still be some some time before they were allowed to serve in other branches of the military.  It comes from the Official Records of the Union and Confederates Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 12, published in 1894, an order of the Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, to Flag Officer Du Pont dated September 25, 1861.
Sir: The Department finds it necessary to adopt a regulation with respect to the large and increasing number of persons of color, commonly known as "contraband," now subsisted at the navy yards and on board of ships of war. They can neither be expelled from the service to which they have resorted nor can they be maintained unemployed; and it is not proper that they should be compelled to render necessary and regular services without a stated compensation. You are therefore authorized, when their services can be made useful, to enlist them for the naval service under the same forms and regulations as apply to other enlistments. They will be allowed, however, no higher rating than boys, at a compensation of $10 per month and one ration a day.

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant, Gideon Welles.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

It Seems Like Killing Friends

This entry is a letter from Charles N. Tenney to Adelaide E Case and comes from the University of Virginia Library ( Manuscript letter from the Corinne Carr Nettleton Civil War Collection). Tenney was from the 7th Ohio Regiment. In a letter dated September 24, 1861 Tenney  discusses how much he hates the war, but that he is still patriotic.
Oh! shall I be so gald when this cruel unholy war is ended. it seems so like killing friends. but in the language of the hoary traitor Wise himself, who said at the time of the John Brown raid, "Treason must be put down", and I could conscientiously shoot him and his associates Floyd and Lee like dogs. Don't think for a moment dear Addie because I say I am tired of war, that I am tired of supporting the glorious old Stars and Stripes on the contrary I would not accept a discharge if one was offered me until every ______ banner be trampled in the dust, and every traitor hung.
Henry A Wise, John B Floyd and Robert E Lee, all who were Confederate Generals in 1861.

An Aaron Burr or a Conceited and Imbecile Fool

This entry is from the Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress, transcribed and annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois.

This is a letter written to Lincoln, from "A Southerner", on September 24, 1861, and the writer thinks that Fremont should be removed from his post, and says so in no uncertain terms.

Baltimore Septr 24th 1861
Oh for the Sake of our dear Country remove Fremont.-- He is not fit to be entrusted in this critical hour with the Nation's interest.

Would McClellan or McDowell have acted as he has. McDowell was only unfortunate -- Fremont is either imbecile &; unfit for his position or I fear, yes dread he is worse. He is either an Aaron Burr or a conceited & imbecile fool.

A Southerner.
 Lyon!! Sacrificed
Missouri! Overrun.
Mulligan! left to shift for himself & compelled to surrender.--
Our Countrys Flag!! trailed by the exulting miscreants in the dust!!!
The Union Cause!!
The Cause of our dear Country!! dispirited, confidence lost & a stab to the Cause of Liberty.
All these lie at Fremont's door!!
Who can deny it?
P. S. --
Look at it in all its bearings! give circumstances all their weight, Freemont's course is the very antipode of Genl McClellan or Genl Wool. They would have anticipated Price.

The Country has the fullest confidence in them, that Freemont can never now enjoy no matter how brilliant his future success. The Country cannot confide in Freemont Mark me.--
And another strong point is His impudent & unsoldier like letter to you-- He has to learn his Horn book over. The first lesson the Cornerstone Obey!  A man may Obey with that sullen contempt that is worse than disobeying. When he asked so insolently for a general order, well for the Country had the General  order been his dismissal Look to him! Look to him!! Beware of him ere too late.
Better men than Fremont have been deposed for circumstances over which they had no control -- that assume the lustre of virtues when compared to me acts & idle dalying of this cold hearted & self conceited fool. He L refuses audiences while the best sons of the U States are Sacrificed!
Fremont by Frabronius, from Library of Congress Collection

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Woman Determined to Follow Her Man

This entry is from My Story of the War by Mary Ashton Rice Livermore. Livermore was a journalist, and an advocate for woman's right.

Here she tells of an incident happening to the 19th Illinois Regiment.  This regiment left Camp Douglas for action on July 12, 1861, so the the episode that Livermore describes here would have happened around that time.

. .. . I remember another occurrence of that afternoon when we visited the camp of the Nineteenth Illinois. I was watching companies that were drilling, a good deal amused at their awkwardness and their slow comprehension of the orders given them. One of the captains came to me, with an apology for intrusion, and begged to know if I noticed anything peculiar in the appearance of one of the men, whom he indicated. It was evident at a glance that the "man" was a young woman in male attire, and I said so. "That is the rumor, and that is my suspicion," was his reply. The seeming soldier was called from the ranks and informed of the suspicions afloat, and asked the truth of them. There was a scene in an instant. Clutching the officer by the arm, and speaking in tones of passionate entreaty, she begged him not to expose her, but to allow her to retain her disguise. Her husband had enlisted in his company, she said, and it would kill her if he marched without her. "Let me go with you!'' I heard her plead. "Oh, sir, let me go with you!" She was quietly conducted outside the camp, when I took her in charge. I wished to take her to my home; but she leaped suddenly from the carriage before we were half way from the camp, and in a moment was lost amid the crowds hastening home from their day's work.

That night she leaped into the Chicago river, but was rescued by a policeman, who took her to the Home of the Friendless. Here I found her, a few days later, when I made an official visit to the institution. She was extremely dejected, and could not be comforted. It was impossible to turn her from her purpose to follow her husband. "I have only my husband in all the world," she said, "and when he enlisted he promised that I should go with him; and that was why I put on his clothes and enlisted in the same regiment. And go with him I will, in spite of everybody."  The regiment was ordered to Cairo, and the poor woman disappeared from the Home the same night. None of us doubted but she left to carry out her purpose.

An Illustration from Mary Livermore's book

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Purely Political

Today's entry is a letter written by Abraham Lincoln to Orville Hickman Browning, a personal friend of Lincoln's  from Illinois who was appointed to fill Stephen Douglas' seat in the U. S. Senate after his untimely death.

Lincoln discusses his decision to annul Fremont's recent proclamation, calling it purely political, and then asks for his friend's support.

Private & confidential.
My dear Sir
Yours of the 17th is just received; and coming from you, I confess it astonishes me. That you should object to my adhering to a law, which you had assisted in making, and presenting to me, less than a month before, is odd enough. But this is a very small part. Genl. Fremont’s proclamation, as to confiscation of property, and the liberation of slaves, is purely political, and not within the range of military law, or necessity. If a commanding General finds a necessity to seize the farm of a private owner, for a pasture, an encampment, or a fortification, he has the right to do so, and to so hold it, as long as the necessity lasts; and this is within military law, because within military necessity. But to say the farm shall no longer belong to the owner, or his heirs forever; and this as well when the farm is not needed for military purposes as when it is, is purely political, without the savor of military law about it. And the same is true of slaves. If the General needs them, he can seize them, and use them; but when the need is past, it is not for him to fix their permanent future condition. That must be settled according to laws made by law—makers, and not by military proclamations. The proclamation in the point in question, is simply "dictatorship." It assumes that the general may do anything he pleases———confiscate the lands and free the slaves of loyal people, as well as of disloyal ones. And going the whole figure I have no doubt would be more popular with some thoughtless people, than that which has been done! But I cannot assume this reckless position; nor allow others to assume it on my responsibility. You speak of it as being the only means of saving the government. On the contrary it is itself the surrender of the government. Can it be pretended that it is any longer the government of the U.S.———any government of Constitution and laws,———wherein a General, or a President, may make permanent rules of property by proclamation?

I do not say Congress might not with propriety pass a law, on the point, just such as General Fremont proclaimed. I do not say I might not, as a member of Congress, vote for it. What I object to, is, that I as President, shall expressly or impliedly seize and exercise the permanent legislative functions of the government.

So much as to principle. Now as to policy. No doubt the thing was popular in some quarters, and would have been more so if it had been a general declaration of emancipation. The Kentucky Legislature would not budge till that proclamation was modified; and Gen. Anderson telegraphed me that on the news of Gen. Fremont having actually issued deeds of manumission, a whole company of our Volunteers threw down their arms and disbanded. I was so assured, as to think it probable, that the very arms we had furnished Kentucky would be turned against us. I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game. Kentucky gone, we can not hold Missouri, nor, as I think, Maryland. These all against us, and the job on our hands is too large for us. We would as well consent to separation at once, including the surrender of this capitol. On the contrary, if you will give up your restlessness for new positions, and back me manfully on the grounds upon which you and other kind friends gave me the election, and have approved in my public documents, we shall go through triumphantly.
You must not understand I took my course on the proclamation because of Kentucky. I took the same ground in a private letter to General Fremont before I heard from Kentucky.

You think I am inconsistent because I did not also forbid Gen. Fremont to shoot men under the proclamation. I understand that part to be within military law; but I also think, and so privately wrote Gen. Fremont, that it is impolitic in this, that our adversaries have the power, and will certainly exercise it, to shoot as many of our men as we shoot of theirs. I did not say this in the public letter, because it is a subject I prefer not to discuss in the hearing of our enemies. There has been no thought of removing Gen. Fremont on any ground connected with his proclamation; and if there has been any wish for his removal on any ground, our mutual friend Sam. Glover can probably tell you what it was. I hope no real necessity for it exists on any ground.   Suppose you write to Hurlbut and get him to resign.
Your friend as ever

O. H. Browning, from the Library of Congress Collection

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cousin Betsey Witherspoon

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.

A cousin of Mary Chesnut's,  Betsey Witherspoon, had recently been murdered by her slaves.
From entries dated September 21 and 24, 1861:

Last night when the mail came in, I was seated near the lamp.  Mr. Chesnut, lying on a sufa at a little distance, called out to me, "Look at my letters and tell me about them."

I began to read one aloud; it was from May Witherspoon -- and a brok down.  Horror and amazement was too much for me.  Poor Cousin Betsey Witherspoon was murdered!  She did not die peacefully, as we supposed, in her bed. Nurdered by her own people.  Her negroes. . . .
Her household negroes were so insolent, so pampered and insubordinate, that she lived alone and at home.  She knew, she said, that none of her children would have the patience she had with these people who had been indulged and spoiled by her until they were like spoiled children.  Simply intolerable. . . .

. . . .Hitherto I have never thought of being afraid of negroes.  I had never injured any of them.  Why should they want to hurt me?  Two-thirds of my religion consists of trying to be good to negroes because they are so in my power, and it would be so easy to be the other thing.  Somehow today I feel that the found is cut away from under my feet.  Why should they treat me any better than they have done Cousin Betsey Witherspoon?
 Sweet potato planting, Hopkinson's Plantation, from Library of Congress Collection

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Iron Nerve of One Woman

This entry is from Nashville Daily Gazette, September 20, 1861, but originally came from Raleigh [N. C. ] Standard , no date given., and is from document put together by the  Tennessee Historical Commission found at the Art Circle Public Library, Crossville, Tennessee website.

A friend has communicated to us the following particulars showing the heroism of. . . Mrs. Julia H. Waugh. . . in Johnson county, East Tennessee, which entitles her to a place among the bravest of the brave. About the 10th of August a mob of about 150 men. . . led by Johnson, Grayson, Lock and others, commenced their depredations and insults in the county above named, near the North Carolina line, hunting down friends of the Confederate Government, and forcing the weak and defenseless to take the oath of allegiance to Lincoln.
A portion of this mob. . . fifty or sixty in number, visited the house of Mr. McQueen and demanded of his wife to know where he was. She refused, at the peril of her life, to tell them, and after a scune cursing, which they received from an old negro woman, who had no respect for Lincoln's minions, they left, and soon after visited the storehouse of Wm. R. Waugh, who was absent at the time. Their Captain marched his men up and surrounded the house and demanded of Mrs. Waugh all the arms and ammunition which her husband had. She told them her husband was absent, and had left her to take care of the store and defend the family.

They assured her that if she would quietly surrender the arms, she and the family would not be hurt. She refused. . . and gathering an axe, placed herself on the door of the building, and told them she would split the head of the first man who attempted to enter. She had with her her stepson, about 14 years of age, armed with a double-barreled gun and pistol-her daughter, about 18, armed with a repeater and a knife, and a young man who had volunteered to defend the building, was also armed. They could and would have killed a dozen or so of the mob if the attack had been made.

They endeavored to intimidate Mrs. W. but she defied them and taunted them with the sight of a Confederate flag, which they had threatened to take from her, but she told them that before they took that flag they would have to take her, and that while they were doing that, she would be certain to have her prize in the shape of a dead tory. And there she stood, the impersonation of collected courage, defying that large, angry, and desperate crowd, until at last the crowd, chagrined and mortified. . . slowly retired, and soon afterward disbanded. The iron nerve of one woman-on other occasions tender and gentle as a child-had met and turned back from their purpose some fifty or sixty desperate men.
Martial law,  engraved by John Sartain from Library of Congress Collection

Monday, September 19, 2011

What The Cherokee Nation Did

This entry is a letter written by John Ross to Opothleyoholo, the Creek Chief, assuring the chief and his people that he supported forming an alliance with the Confederates. Perhaps they found it hard to believe.
John Ross was Principal Chief of the Cherokee Native American Nation. He actually supported neutrality, but with Confederates winning battles such as Wilson's Creek so close to Oklahoma along with many Cherokees already aligned with the Confederates (some even had slaves), he probably felt pressure to officially support the Confederates.

This letter can be found at the Oklahoma Historical Society's website.
Park Hill, Cherokee Nation, September 19, 1861

Friends and Brothers: I have received a few lines from you, written on the back of a hasty note which I had written to the chiefs and headmen of your nation, and from which the following is an extract:

"Brothers:  I am gratified to inform you that the Great Being who overrules all things for good has sustained me in my efforts to unite the hearts and sentiments of the Cherokee people as one man; and at a mass meeting of about four thousand males, at Tahlequah, with one voice we have proclaimed in favor of forming an alliance with the Confederate States, and shall thereby preserve and maintain the brotherhood of Indian nations in a common destiny."

Brothers, if it is your wish to know whether I had written the above note or, not, I will tell you that I did, and in order that you may be fully informed of the whole proceedings of the Cherokee people at the mass meeting stated, and of the reasons which influenced the people to adopt them, I send you herewith several printed copies of my address to the people in convention and of the resolutions adopted by them on that occasion, I wish you to have them carefully read and correctly interpreted, in order that you may fully understand them.

Brothers, my advice and desire, under the present extraordinary crises, is for all the red brethern to be united among themselves in support of our common rights and interests by forming an alliance of peace and friendship with the Confederate States of America.
Your Friend and brother,JOHN ROSS,
Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Quell Insurrection Where Ever You Find It

Today's entry comes from  the Library of Congress, and is an excerpt of a letter addressed to Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln must have received many letters giving him advice.  Here is one of them, written on September 17, 1861, from somebody in Ohio who was decidedly unhappy with Lincoln's reversal of Fremont's emancipation order.  Much of the letter not quoted here is related to that, as are these final paragraphs.  I think this letter expresses the frustration many Americans must have felt about this time, 150 years ago.  All spelling and punctuation is part of the original letter.

Read, important

Chillicothe Ohio Sep 17. 1861.

. . . . Many think that you should issue a Proclamation in the strongest terms and most decisive manner calling on all citizens to return to their allegiance or You will by the “Eternal” disperse them, without mercy, how insignificant do the terms





“Brothers in arms”

“Breaking the Constitution”

“Deal kindly”

“Kentucky will go out,”

“Noose them”

“No law for it”

“Habius Corpus”



“Abolition measures.”

“Black Republicanizm,” and all such phraises sound when compared with 350,000 soldiers now lying in tents to defend our Capital from destruction, it is a farce—

Action and that determinedly expressed by the highest powers is what the Country wants— Cant we have it from you—

Photograph by Anthony Berger, from Library of Congress Collection

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Battlefield Trance

Today's entry is a letter from Charles N. Tenney to Adelaide E Case and comes from the University of Virginia library ( Manuscript letter from the Corinne Carr Nettleton Civil War Collection).  Tenney was from the 7th Ohio Regiment. 
A battlefield is a place all it's own, to which Tenney attests in this excerpt.

I had no idea of the feelings produced by being engaged in a battle until the fight at Cross Lanes. These feelings were indescribable. I had no thoughts of dodging the balls nor did I think of getting killed.  All I did was to take one thought of friends (including you, my dear Addie) then watch for an opportunity to send some [unclear:"Secesh"] to "Kingdom Come" but although we saw them on our front, right, and left, I thought I would reserve my fire till I was sure of my man, or at least till the order was given to fire so lost a chance to discharge my piece. . .
Unidentified soldier in Union uniform and Ohio Volunteer Militia belt buckle
with bayoneted musket, from the Library of Congress Collection

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Something To Listen For

This entry is from then New York  Times, September 15, 1861
A Suggestion for Scouting Parties.
To the Editor of the New-York Times. Permit me, through your columns, to suggest an idea that, if adopted, may be useful to our skirmishers, who appear to have been so often, and in several instances fatally surprised by the enemy. If the Captain of each scouting party would carry with him an instrument similar to the stethoscope, only larger, (which could be easily constructed by a good instrument maker,) occasionally applying it to his ear and the ground -- he could detect at a great distance, I think, the existence of approaching cavalry, [???] the footsteps of infantry; and thus by being prepared might save lives that would otherwise be lost by the guerilla system of warfare inaugurated by our antagonists. F.A. VON MOSCHIZISKER. NEW-YORK, Sept. 5, 1861.
 Pleasontons Cavalry deployed as skirmishers, from Library of Congress Collection

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Coffee! Coffee!! Coffee!!!

This entry is from Brownlow's Knoxville Whig, and is a document compiled by the  TENNESSEE HISTORICAL COMMISSION found at the Art Circle Public Library, Crossville, Tennessee website.

September 14, 1861 - "Coffee! Coffee!! Coffee!!!"
In these days of blockades, when coffee is scarce, prices high, and in many places none to be had at any price, many substitutes are tried.
I am glad to have it in my power to recommend a substitute which is so nearly like the genuine article as to satisfy the most delicate taste and deceive the oldest coffee drinkers. It is as follows:

Take the common Red Garden Beet, pulled fresh from the ground, wash clean, cut into small squares the size of a coffee grain or a little larger, toast till thoroughly parched, but not burned, transfer to the mill and grind. -The mill should be clean. Put from one pint to one and a half, to a gallon of water, and settle within an egg as in common coffee, make and bring to the table hot-with nice, fresh cream (not milk) and sugar. I will defy you or anybody else to tell the difference between it and the best Java.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Love Across the Borders

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

An Affecting Incident.—A correspondent tells the following story:
An incident was related to me by a lady of Alexandria, which affords a striking but sad illustration of the effects of civil war. The lady in question has resided with an only daughter for many years in Alexandria.

About nine months since, a mutual friend introduced a young gentleman of Richmond
to the family. The young people soon became intimately acquainted, and, quite naturally, fell in love. The parents on both sides consenting, the parties were betrothed, and the marriage day fixed for the 4th of July inst. In the mean time, however, the Virginians were called upon to decide on which side they would stand. The ladies declared themselves on the side of the Government, but the gentleman joined the forces of his State. No opportunity was afforded for the interchange of sentiments between the young folks, or any thing settled as to their future movements.

Matters thus remained till the 4th of July, when, exactly within an hour of the time originally fixed for the marriage, intelligence was received at the residence of the ladies that the young man had been shot by a sentry two days before, while attempting
to desert and join his bride.  His betrothed did not shed a tear, but standing erect, smiled, and then remarking to her mother, 'I am going to desert, too,' fell to the floor, while the blood bubbled from her lips, and this morning her remains were conveyed to their last resting-place.—Toledo Blade, July 18.
Unidentified Civil War Era Couple, from Library of Congress Collection

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ordering the Return of Fugitive Slaves

Today's entry is from the New York Times, dated  Thursday September 12, 1861, and concern the order to return Fugitive Slaves to their masters.

There is much feeling there among leading men, caused by the action of Gen. McClellan in ordering the return of fugitive slaves, or, rather, their arrest in camps and imprisonment in jail to await the claim of their masters.  This is in contravention of the spirit of the letter addressed by the Secretary of War to Gen. Butler, for it constitutes our troops but an army of negro catchers.  It is directly in contradiction to the letter of Fremont's proclamation, which has been unanimously accepted by the people of the loyal States as a true interpretation of our relation to the slaveholders in rebellion against the Government.
From Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, Oct. 12, 1861,
from the Library of Congress Collection.
The caption on the illustration above from Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper reads, "LINCOLN -- "I'm sorry to have to drop you, Sambo, but this concern won't carry us both!"

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I am not a Hobson, a Dewey, a Schley nor a Sampson

The photograph below, from the Library of Congress, illustrates a one unexpected way a Bible saved a life not once, but twice, during the war.

I am not a Hobson, a Dewey, A Schley, nor a Sampson, but I was  High Private in Co. C., 8th N. Y. Cavalry, and carried this little Testament in my blouse pocket which, in two battles saved my life from bullets, as represented in the above photo.  The bullet in the upper corner was a shot at me at Cedar Creek Va., October 19, 1864.  The bullet in the centre crashed into the Testament during the battle of Appomattox (better known as Lee's surrender), April 8th and 9, 1865.  -- Walter G. Jones, McDonough, N.Y.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Advice for Soldiers on How to Deal with Contraband Slaves

Today's entry is from Letters of Lydia Maria Child.  Child was as an abolitionist, women's rights activist, Indian rights activist, writer, and Unitarian.

This is an excerpt from a letter she wrote to John Greenleaf Whittier dated September 10, 1861, and tells of a Union soldier serving on picket duty, and how he dealt with contraband slaves.
. . . .Another [Union soldier] who was ordered on picket-duty, of course at unusual risk of his life, was told that while he was sentinel, if any slave attempted to pass the lines, he must turn him back. He replied, "That is an order I will not obey." Being reminded of his duty to obey orders, he replied," I know the penalty I incur, and am ready to submit to it, but I did not enlist to do such work and I will not do it."  The officers, being aware that his feeling would easily become contagious, modified the order thus : "If anybody tries to pass, ascertain that all's right before you allow them to pass ."
That night the moon shone brightly, and the sentinel on duty saw a moving in the bushes before him. "Who goes there? Answer quickly!"  Up rose a tall ebony man.  "Who are you ?"  "A fugitive." "Are you all right?" "Yes, massa." " Then run quick."
A Ride for Liberty -- The Fugitive Slaves, painting by Eastman Johnson,
from the Brooklyn Museum as found on Wikimedia Commons

Friday, September 9, 2011

Call The Young and Middle-Aged Men of Ohio to Arms!

This entry is from The Sherman Letters; Correspondence Between General and Senator Sherman from 1837 to 1891 edited by Rachel Sherman Thorndike.  

The Civil War was mainly fought in the south, but some, including General Sherman saw a real threat to the Northern states in the early days of the war after Bull Run, which he writes to his brother.

September 9, 1861

. . .  Ohio, Indiana and Illinois must sooner or later arm every inhabitant, and the sooner the better. I hardly apprehend that Beauregard can succeed in getting Washington, but should he, it will be worse to us than Manassass; but supposing he falls back, he will first try to overwhelm Rosecrans in Western Virginia and then look to Tennessee. We ought to have here a well appointed Army of a hundred thousand men. . . .

. . . .and if you are full of zeal you could not do better than to raise your voice to call the young and middle-aged men of Ohio to arms. If they can't get muskets then let them get such arms as can be gathered together, or if not that, then let them organize in companies in every township and be ready to collect together and move on short notice. I am amazed to see here and everywhere such apparent indifference when all know that Rebels threaten the Capital and are creeping around us in Missouri and Kansas. If they are united, and we disunited or indifferent, they will succeed. I knew this reaction was natural and to be expected, but it is none the less to be deplored. . .
William Tecumseh Sherman, from

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Most Odious and Detestable Tyrant

Today's entry is from the Southern Federal Union, September 10, 1861.  Lincoln was not a popular guy south of the Mason Dixon line.
Horrible Tyrnny [sic] of Lincoln's Administration
We have made several extracts this week from Northern newspapers all going to show that Abraham Lincoln is one of the most odious and detestable tyrants that ever walked the earth.  No man's life or property or good name is safe in the miserable country over which he domineers.  The laws afford no protection for they are virtually suspended. The writ of Habeas Corpus is suspended, and men of irreproachable character are taken from their houses by soldiers, and send to the vile dungeons of Castle Lafayette without a trial, without the form of law, and without even knowing of what crime they are suspected.  The liberty of the press is abolished.  No newspaper is allowed to publish anything against the tyranny under which they groan; even the liberty of speech is denied.  Men are every day mobbed and punished for speaking against the tyrant or his war.  Even ladies of the highest position in society are sent to prison or confined to their own houses and guarded by soldiers.  How long can such a state of things exist at the North? is the question.  That depends upon the solution of another question, whether the Northern people have lost all spirit and pride of freemen. Who would have believed one year ago that the Northern people would so soon have submitted to a military despotism?  We can't believe that such a state of things can continue long.  Surely all manhood has not departed from the North and if not some Brutus or Cassius will be found to avenge his own and his country's wrongs at the same time.
Abraham Lincoln, from Library of Congress Collection

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

If The People Want to be Deceived, Let Them

This entry comes from My Diary North and South by William Howard Russell.
Russell was an Irish reporter with The Times and is considered to have been one of the first modern war correspondents.  He is commenting on a report in the newspapers, including the New York Times on September 5, 1861 that Jefferson Davis was dead.
Sept. 7th. —Yes; "Jeff. Davis must be dead." There are some touching lamentations in the obituary notices over his fate in the other world. Meanwhile, however, his spirit seems quite alive; for there is an absolute certainty that the Confederates are coming to attack the Capitol. Lieut. A. Wise and Lord A. Vane Tempest argued the question whether the assault would be made by a flank movement above or direct in front; and Wise maintained the latter thesis with vigour not disproportioned to the energy with which his opponent demonstrated that the Confederates could not be such madmen as to march up to the Federal batteries. There is actually "a battle" raging (in the front of the Philadelphia newspaper offices) this instant— Populus vult decipi — dedpiatur. [If the people want to be deceived let them]
Jefferson Davis by Currier and Ives, from Library of Congress Collection

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Defectors, Deserters and Draft Dodgers

Today's entry is from A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital by John Beauchamp Jones
September 6, 1863
. . .In Tennessee, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Georgia, we have accounts of much and growing defection, and the embodying of large numbers of deserters. Indeed, all our armies seem to be melting away by desertion faster than they are enlarged by conscription. They will return when there is fighting to do !
Currier & Ives illustration from the Library of Congress.

 In the illustration above, the Library of Congress says, "The artist characterizes regular Confederate troops as unsavory, criminal types. Two of them (in uniform, left and center) have a well-dressed young gentleman in tow. The leader pulls on a rope around the reluctant recruit's neck, saying, "Come along you rascal! and fight for our King Cotton." The man protests, "Let me go, I tell you I'm a Union Man, and don't believe in your Southern Confederacy." He is prodded by the bayonet of a second soldier, gin flask protruding from his pocket, who urges, "Blast your Union! Them as won't go in for the war must be made to do it. Go ahead, or we'll hang you on the next tree." A second group follows. Two men in wide-brimmed hats have seized another gentleman, and urge him at bayonet point toward the left. One of the men, barefoot and ragged, with a knife and pistol in his belt, resembles a Mexican bandit. Atop a nearby hill two soldiers drag a third civilian along the ground by a rope around his neck."

Monday, September 5, 2011

That Arch Enemy of All True Prosperity

Today's entry is from Lucy Larcom: Life, Letters and Diary by Daniel D Addison.  This is an excerpt from an entry in her diary dated September 5, 1861.

 Larcom was a former mill worker, poet, teacher and abolitionist, and well acquainted with John Greenleaf Whittier.  In this quote she laments the war's ravages, and suggests it can not end until the real issue, slavery,  is dealt with.  But she says it with a passion hard to surpass.

. . . .But is it right to wrap one's own being in this mantle of peace, while the country is ravaged by war ? — its garments rolled in blood, brother fighting against brother to the death? The tide of rebellion surges higher and higher, and there is no sadder proof that we are not the liberty-loving people that we used to call ourselves, than to learn that there are traitors in the secret councils of the nation, in forts defended by our own bravest men ; among women, too : " Sisters ! oh, Sisters! Shame o' ladies ! " A disloyal woman at the North, with everything woman ought to hold dear at stake in the possible fall of this government, — it is too shameful! I hope every one such will be held in "durance vile " until the war is over.

But will it end until the question is brought to its true issue, — liberty or slavery ? I doubt it: and I would rather the war should last fifty years, than ever again make the least compromise with slavery, that arch-enemy of all true prosperity, that eating sin of our nation. Eather [sic] divide at once, rather split into a thousand pieces, than sink back into this sin!
Lucy Larcom from A Portrait Catalogue of the Books Published by Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1906

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Unconsumed By The Divine Vengeance

This entry is from Southern Literary Messenger, September 1861, "Letter to the Rev. Dr. Tying of New York" written "by author of 'Black Diamond'", which is none other than Edward A. Pollard, who was a journalist and a one of the editors of The Richmond Examiner, and an outspoken secessionist.

. . .I will endeavor to write calmly ; but I will not be satisfied to write less than truthfully.

Some days ago, sir, in making a hasty journey into the North, in which I was enabled to observe mutely, but narrowly, the sentiments and the signs of that sections, there was put into my hands a New York paper of your own persuasion, containing a report of a Sunday sermon, delivered by you before the Bible Society, on the occasion of the presentation of Bibles to the troops enlisted for war upon the South.  I will not foul my sheet with the name of this paper; and I deem it equally unnecessary, sir to assoil [sic] it by the extended report of your extraordinary vile remarks on this sabbattical [sic] occasion.

You were not satisfied to name my countrymen, and your "brethren" (to use the fondling term of the old poisoning hypocrisy of the North,) as "pirates;" you condemned them to a fate, at which demons only could rejoice ; you consigned them to nameless horrors, and declared your belief that "the Bible would singe and scald their polluted hands!"  There were Northern troops standing around you in the clamor and passion for blood.  They cheered you, sir.  You replied that "they were worthy of the Bible:"  in the animation that their shouts inspired, you exclaimed, "how their names will glisten in glory!"  You boasted of your own prowess in the work of death.  You declared in the bloody bravery and dialect of a murderer, that, as to the rebellious Southerners, "you would shoot them down as mad dogs!". . . .

. . . Great God, sir, is it possible that such awful, mocking, flippant, demon blasphemy should be uttered in the name of His church, and of His blessed Son, who "taketh away the sins of the world," and the utterer live on unconsumed by the Divine vengeance!. . . .
Father Thomas H. Mooney giving religious service, in front of tent,
to New York State Militia, from Library of Congress Collection

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Help us Jefferson Davis!

Jefferson Davis must have received numerous requests and petitions, and here is one of them.  This entry is a letter signed by 34 patients of a Charlottesville, Virginia Confederate hospital, petitioning Davis to help with a situation of incompetent medical care and disease-causing food. This letter can be found at the U. S. National Archives website.

Hospital at Charlottesville Sep 3rd 1861
To his Excellency Jefferson Davis, Pres. Confed. States America
Dear Sir

We would humbly pray you to come to our help. Disease is wasting away the glorious Army of the Potomac.  We have lost 10 times as many men by sickness as by warfare.  We come to you because we regard you as our great chief, who is able and willing and anxious to reform all abuses.

What more enormous abuse than this -- one fifth of the army sick and no additional means used to prevent the spread of the fearful pestilence!  We humbly protest that three fourths of the surgeons of the army are wholly unfit for their positions -- especially those who have been transferred into the confederate service from that of the state of Virginia and who were all appointed for political reasons and not with a view to their qualifications.  The lives of hundreds of brave men will die at the door of the men in authority who let such base motives influence the in a matter so vital to all our interests.  These surgeons have not ordered nor enforced the most ordinary sanitary requirements. . . .

. . . . We would, besides, humbly call your attention to another and a most important matter.  We believe ours is the only army of modern times that attempts to cook their own wheaten bread.  Whether so or not, this is a grand mistake.  The horrid mixtures which pass in the army for bread are enough to destroy the health of any amry that uses them.  There is not one man in the whole army that would not infinitely prefer his rations in hard bread, prepared in Richmond by good, professional bakers.  Such a change would be received with shouts by multitudes of suffering men and grateful thanks would be rendered to the man who shall effect it.  This bread forwarded from Richmond would even at the distance of a week or more from baking, surpass the present food as ambrosia surpasses the vilest food of the Feejees.  We earnestly pray God that the army may have reason to hail your name as their great friend and deliver in this respect.  Many (full 2/3rds) of these signing this petition trace their suffering (some from diarrhea, some from dysentery and many from typhoid fever) to this horrid bread.  Typhoid fever is fast becoming the scourge and dread of the army and this awful fare is the main and true source of this disease.
Wounded soldiers in hospital, ca. 1860 - ca. 1865, from U S National Archives

Friday, September 2, 2011

Old Fuss and Feathers Don't Look First Rate Today

This entry comes from My Diary North and South by William Howard Russell.
Russell was an Irish reporter with The Times and is considered to have been one of the first modern war correspondents.
 September 2, 1861.

. . . .I have heard several people say lately, "I wish old Scott would go away," by which they mean that they would be happy to strike him down when his back was turned, but feared his personal influence with the President and his Cabinet. Two months ago, and his was the most honoured name in the States: one was sickened by the constant repetition of elaborate plans, in which the General was represented playing the part of an Indian juggler, and holding an enor mous boa constrictor of-a Federal army in his hands, which he was preparing to let go as soon as he had coiled it completely round the fright ened Secessionist rabbit; "now none so poor to do him reverence." Hard is the fate of those who serve republics. The officers who met the man in the street to-day passed him by with out a salute or mark of recognition, although he wore his uniform coat, with yellow lapels and yellow sash; and one of a group which came out of a restaurant close to the General's house, exclaimed, almost in his hearing, "Old fuss and feathers don't look first-rate to-day."
Winfield Scott, July 1861 from Library of Congress Collection

Thursday, September 1, 2011

An Enlisted Man's Gripe

 This entry is from Cyrus F. Jenkins Civil War Diary, 1861 - 1862 as found at Digital Library of Georgia.
Jenkins was an enlisted man in the Meriwether Volunteers, Company B, 13th Georgia Infantry Regiment.  The misspelled words and grammar in this excerpt are the writer's own.

Sunday morning August Sept 1st. 61

I got permission to leave the camp for the purpose of going upon the mountain to get a view of the sourrounding country In company with a commissioned officer consequently I needed no written permission a thing that I abhored so much that I never gratified my curiosity in rambling unless by slipping, off or going with a commissioned officer, Although it may become necessary to carry a pass when near the enemy. then it is necessary that private and officer may account for themselfs  but here where no enemy is near, why should a private Soldier carry a pass. when an officer can go at will, for what — is an officer but a man! is he more honest because the privates have made him what he is? does his country feel dearer to him in consequence does it instill new principals and new patriotism in his bosom. or is it because he usurps the power that his fellow man has given him. I have digressed for enough. . . .
Private R. Cecil Johnson of 8th Georgia Infantry Regiment and South Carolina Hampton
Legion Cavalry Battalion in uniform, From the Library of Congress Collection