Fortune’s Favor~June, 1862~the third week

Nurses working for the Sanitary Commission

As the war drags on into its fifteenth month women continue to feel its effects. Southerner Sarah Morgan laments the war’s increase of feelings of hate and anger in women. Varina Howell Davis receives the gift of a lead pencil from her husband, President Jeff Davis, who notes that such writing tools are in short supply. Just as many other women, North and South, a group of Roman Catholic nuns come to Virginia to provide nursing care for injured and sick soldiers. Among Quakers women lead in the adoption of a statement which recognizes that slavery is the cause of the war and immediate abolition of slavery the only cure.

Bitter fighting in South Carolina ends in a loss for Federal forces. General John Fremont resigns in anger from the Union Army while criticism of McClellan increases. New Englander Elisha Hunt Rhodes prays that God may cause men in the regiment to repent. New York City raises more money for the Sanitary commission. New legislation bans slavery in any U S territory, thus terminating the provisions of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 and rebuffing the Southern assertion that slave-owners have a constitutionally protected right to bring slaves into any territory.

President Lincoln asks Congress for money to assist Mexico in paying its debts. The Harpers Weekly takes a decidedly pro-French position, asserting that Napoleon’s conduct is honorable.

In Europe, the recently elected prime minister of Romania is assassinated. Karl Marx, in exile in England, writes to Frederick Engels about Darwinian theory in human socirty,

Map of Secessionville battle


June 16– Monday– James Island [known as “Secessionville”], South Carolina– Outside of Charleston, Confederate soldiers repel a Union attack with a loss of 203 dead, wounded and missing, while inflicting a total of 683 casualties on the Federal force. Two immigrant brothers who came from Scotland in the 1850’s are both heroes in the fight, Alexander Campbell for the Union, James Campbell for the Confederacy. Both survive today’s fight and only learn later of the other’s presence. Pennsylvania soldier Christian Lobinger describes what he saw. “The battle raged furiously several hours and by scores here for the first time in my life I saw the terrible effects of War. Our boys made several bayonet charges . . . and finally with terrible slaughters and a loss of about 100 we were defeated and compelled to retreat.”

 June 16– Monday– Baton Rouge, Louisiana– Sarah Morgan confides to her diary. “This war has brought out wicked, malignant feelings that I did not believe could dwell in woman’s heart. I see some of the holiest eyes, so holy one would think the very spirit of charity lived in them, and all Christian meekness, go off in a mad tirade of abuse and say, with the holy eyes wondrously changed, ‘I hope God will send down plague, yellow fever, famine, on these vile Yankees, and that not one will escape death.’ O, what unutterable horror that remark causes me as often as I hear it! I think of the many mothers, wives, and sisters who wait as anxiously, pray as fervently in their faraway homes for their dear ones, as we do here; I fancy them waiting day after day for the footsteps that will never come, growing more sad, lonely, and heart-broken as the days wear on; I think of how awful it would be if one would say, ‘Your brothers are dead’; how it would crush all life and happiness out of me; and I say, ‘God forgive these poor women! They know not what they say!’”

 June 16– Monday– Isle of Wight, England– The Cowes and Newport Railway opens the first section of passenger line on the island between the two towns of its title, a stretch of 4.5 miles or 7.2 km.

June 17– Tuesday– New York City– George Templeton Strong takes the political temperature. “McClellan seems to make no progress. . . . I have a lively faith in old Abe Lincoln. There will be no personal intrigue in his Cabinet, ‘not if he knows it.’”

 June 17– Tuesday– Shenandoah Valley, Virginia– General John C Fremont, age 49, full of anti-slavery sentiment and angry at being placed under General John Pope, to whom he is senior, submits his resignation.

Karl Marx & his daughter Jenny, London, England, c1865


June 18– Wednesday– London, England– Karl Marx writes to his friend Frederick Engels. After lamenting his poverty and inability to earn money, Marx turns to an interesting analysis. “I’m amused that Darwin, at whom I’ve been taking another look, should say that he also applies the ‘Malthusian’ theory to plants and animals, as though in Mr Malthus’s case the whole thing didn’t lie in its not being applied to plants and animals, but only — with its geometric progression — to humans as against plants and animals. It is remarkable how Darwin rediscovers, among the beasts and plants, the society of England with its division of labor, competition, opening up of new markets, ‘inventions’ and Malthusian ‘struggle for existence’. It is Hobbes’ bellum omnium contra omnes and is reminiscent of Hegel’s Phenomenology, in which civil society figures as an ‘intellectual animal kingdom’, whereas, in Darwin, the animal kingdom figures as civil society.”

 June 19– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln signs into law a bill forbidding slavery in all U. S Territories.

 June 19– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– President Jeff Davis writes to his wife, Varina Howell Davis, who is with their children in the safety of Raleigh, North Carolina. President Davis is recently returned from visiting them. “Kiss my dear children whose sweet faces I last saw in sleep, and from whose door I turned reluctantly in the morning upon your announcing ‘all sound’ with a manner thatwarned me against waking them. I left a soft pencil for you on your mantel piece, having noticed you had none. I hope you found it as they are rare with us now.”


Wedding picture of Varina & Jeff Davis

June 20– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– In the Liberator, a lengthy article recounts the tenth annual meeting of Progressive Friends, held at Longwood, Pennsylvania. In Quaker fashion the meeting, which included Lucretia Mott and John Greenleaf Whittier, issued a “Testimony on the Rebellion” which concludes that “The cause of this bloody civil strife, therefore, being the enslavement of four million of the inhabitants of the land, there is but one sure method of bringing it to an end, and making at least partial atonement for our great iniquity. It is to Abolish Slavery Without Delay.”

 June 20– Friday– Bucharest, Romania– As he leaves Parliament, Prime Minister Barbu Catargiu, age 54, is shot and killed by an unknown assailant. He has been in office less than two months.

Prime Minister Catargiu

 June 21– Saturday– New York City– Harper’s Weekly sizes up the turbulent situation in Mexico in a decidedly pro-French position. “The truth of the matter is simply this. Napoleon wants to see Mexico peaceful, and an active consumer of French wines, silks, and other manufactures. To achieve this end he is willing to lend the strongest and best party in Mexico the use of a few thousand French soldiers. . . . . Indeed, if we are not mistaken, the Government of the Emperor has already made known to Mr. Lincoln that the French expedition against Mexico has no other object than the restoration and protection of a stable native Government in that country, and that the Emperor seeks and ardently desires the co-operation of the United States.”

June 22- Sunday– Fair Oaks, Virginia– Elisha Hunt Rhodes describes the Sabbath observance. “Our Chaplain preached this morning from the word ‘Gospel.’ The sermon was excellent and I trust will do some good. We have Christian men in the Regiment, but there are many who take no interest in religious matters. I trust that God’s spirit will move upon their hearts and turn them to repentance.”


Elizabeth Ann Seton, founder of the Sisters of Charity

June 22– Sunday– Fort Monroe, Virginia–Thirty of Elizabeth Seton’s Sisters of Charity, Roman Catholic nuns, arrive to nurse Union sick and injured.

 June 23– Monday– New York City– In his diary George Templeton Strong records some good news. “Tonight to concert at Academy of Music. It was got up spontaneously by the young men of the Mercantile Society Library for the benefit of the Sanitary Commission. Tolerable house. Guess we shall net $1,000 and upwards.” [This would be about $23,100 today.]

 June 23– Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln submits to the Senate for review and possible ratification a treaty with Mexico which would provide financial assistance in the amount of $11,000,000 to help Mexico pay its debt to European powers. The President includes correspondence from Mr Corwin, the American Minister in Mexico. [The amount would equal about $254million today.]

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