What Passingbells~July, 1862~the first week

Just a bit more than a half-century after the American Civil War, the madness of war envelops most of the world. A young English officer writes poetry about the Western Front.

Anthem For Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?

Only the monstrous anger of the guns.

Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle

Can patter out their hasty orisons.

No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;

Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,

The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;

And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?

Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes

Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.

The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;

Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,

And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

– Wilfred Owen

In July of 1862 more than 1600 soldiers, Union and Confederate, will be killed or mortally wounded, on average more than 52 deaths per day. Injured will be more than 3 times that number. And July merely serves as a prelude to the atrocious losses coming in August and September.

 As the month begins, Confederate forces have ended the string of Union victories. In Virginia, Jackson and Lee have made names for themselves and raised Southern hopes. In Mississippi, Tennessee and South Carolina, rebels have stalemated or repulsed Yankee advances, despite the fact that as the month begins, Union forces have more than 650,000 soldiers and sailors under arms while the Confederacy has approximately 170,000 fighters under arms.

 Women in the United States mourn dead young soldiers and worry about sons and husbands far from home. Polish immigrant Dr Maria Zakrzewska pioneers the work of women in medicine as she opens a teaching hospital in Boston. A mourning Queen Victoria, still deeply grieving the December death of her husband, quietly marries off her second daughter. The brutal murder of a housemaid in Scotland creates a sensation. A male author offers a book telling women all that they need to know about motherhood and child care. An English author creates a story to amuse a ten year old named Alice.

 In the midst of the bloodshed in Virginia and the failure of Union forces to take Richmond, General McClellan advises President Lincoln on how to run the war and the government while General Lee advises President Davis that his forces are now too weak to push McClellan back further. A visionary President Lincoln signs legislation establishing a transcontinental railroad and making provision for land grant colleges, both of which will have far-reaching effects on an eventually reunited nation.

 The Independence Day celebrations cause George Templeton Strong to worry afresh about European intervention, William Lloyd Garrison and others to mourn rather than celebrate and the eloquent Frederick Douglass to declare that the war is a struggle between slavery and freedom and to again chastise the Federal government for failing to use eager black volunteers.

 In Russia the Tsar grants some freedom of the press to Jews. In New Zealand the Parliament meets in the new capital


July– Rochester, New York– In Douglass’ Monthly, Frederick Douglass writes of the continued refusal of the Federal government to utilize the services of willing black people. “Though thus repelled and insulted, the Negro persists in his devotion to the Government, and will serve it with a pickaxe if he cannot with a pistol, a spade if he cannot with a sword. In all this the Negro is wise. He can see what wise men have failed to see, that however tortuous and dark may be the present conduct of the Government, by the essential nature of things, this war is a war between slavery and freedom, that whether our rulers know it or not, wish it not, they are striking a blow for the destruction of slavery.”

Battle of Malvern Hill as depicted in Harpers Weekly

July 1– Tuesday– Malvern Hill, Virginia–In the culmination of the series of battles which began on June 25th and will be called “the Seven Days Campaign,” General Lee’s Confederate forces rout the Union troops under General McClellan and save Richmond. However, the fighting in these seven days costs the Confederacy 20,141 dead, wounded and missing while Federal casualties amount to 15,849. McClellan successfully withdraws and Lee decides no to pursue him.

July 1– Tuesday– Malvern Hill, Virginia– Yankee soldier Elisha Hunt Rhodes records his perception of today’s battle. “O the horrors of this day’s work, but at last we have stopped the Rebel advance, and instead of following us they are fleeing to Richmond. The battle of today is beyond description. The enemy advanced through fields of wheat . . . . Our gun boat threw shell over our heads and into the Rebel lines.” Today alone Federal casualties total 2100 and Confederate casualties total 5650.

 July 1– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln signs into law a bill creating the Union Pacific Company which will receive federal money to build a railroad from Nebraska to Utah.


Dr Maria Zakrzewska

July 1– Tuesday– Boston, Massachusetts–Dr Maria Zakrzewska opens the New England Hospital for Women and Children.

 July 1– Booneville, Mississippi– Union troops under the command of 31 year old Colonel Philip Sheridan, a career officer determined to make a name for himself, defeat a Confederate force, losing only 1 dead while killing more than 60 Confederate soldiers.

 July 1– Tuesday– East Cowes, the Isle of Wight, Great Britain– In a private ceremony at Osborne House, the royal residence here, 19 year old Princess Alice, second daughter of Queen Victoria, marries Prince Ludwig of Hesse. Because the Queen is still in morning for her late husband, it is a very subdued affair.


Princess Alice, Queen Victoria’s second daughter

July 1– Tuesday– St Petersburg, Russia– Tsar Alexander II gives permission for Jewish people to publish books.

 July 2– Wednesday– New York City– George Templeton evaluates international relations. “Our European news is bad. France and England are itching to intervene and sustain the slave-breeding woman-floggers of Charleston and New Orleans and Richmond in their rebellion. I never expected much from France, but the political immorality of England, as revealed by her press, confounds me. I cannot understand or explain it. If her sense of national right and wrong be so utterly perverted as it seems, she will surely be punished before many generations have passed away.”

 July 2– Wednesday– Washington–President Lincoln signs into law the Morrill Land Grant Act which creates land-grant colleges to teach agricultural and mechanical sciences across the United States. He signs as well a law prohibiting polygamy in U S territories and a law requiring loyalty oaths from every government official.

 July 2– Wednesday– London, England– Birth of William Henry Bragg, English physicist, chemist and mathematician who will win the 1915 Nobel Prize in Physics.

 July 3– Thursday– New York City– The New York Times reports that an elderly woman reputedly of 107 years of age was buried on Monday. She came from Monteith, Scotland, and had lived with her son in Philadelphia since 1800. “She was remarkably temperate, and up to within five years retained possession of all her faculties with the exception of her power of smelling.”

July 3– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– John Jones, government clerk, reports on casualties. “Our wounded are now coming in fast, under the direction of the Ambulance Committee. . . . There are fifty hospitals in the city, fast filling with the sick and wounded. I have seen men in my office and walking in the streets, whosearms have been amputated within the last three days. The realization of a great victory seems to give them strength.”

July 3– Charleston, South Carolina– in her diary, Mary Chesnut records painful news of deaths and laments the war’s disruption of society. “Arrived at Mrs. McMahan’s at the wrong moment. Mrs. Bartow was reading to the stricken mother an account of the death of her son. The letter was written by a man who was standing by him when he was shot through the head. ‘My God!’ he said; that was all, and he fell dead. James Taylor was color-bearer. He was shot three times before he gave in. Then he said, as he handed the colors to the man next him, ‘You see I can’t stand it any longer,’ and dropped stone dead. He was only seventeen years old. . . . Have been reading The Potiphar Papers by Curtis. Can this be a picture of New York socially? If it were not for this horrid war, how nice it would be here. We might lead such a pleasant life. This is the most perfectly appointed establishment – such beautiful grounds, lowers, and fruits; indeed, all that heart could wish; such delightful dinners, such pleasant drives, such jolly talks, such charming people; but this horrid war poisons everything.” [ The Potiphar Papers by George W. Curtis, a New York writer, is a satire on fashionable society and published in 1853. Curtis is married to Anna Shaw, the sister of Robert Gould Shaw.]

July 4– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– On this 86th anniversary of American independence, the city celebrates with patriotic speeches, music programs, balloon rides, fireworks and a regatta on the Charles River. In the various boat races, the first prize of $75 is won by a Mr James Hammell, of Pittsburgh, in the single-scull category.

July 4– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–The Liberator contains numerous comments about the national holiday. People ought to gather for the purpose “of recalling to the mind and impressing upon the heart of the people the great ‘self-evident truths, that all men are created equal.’” Another comment includes reference to the “four million of slaves yet to be emancipated.” As to “the most awful civil war that the world has ever seen . . . . Is it a day for boasting and revelry, or for sackcloth and ashes?”

July 4– Friday– Himrods Corners, New York– Frederick Douglass delivers a lengthy and brilliant Independence Day speech. In it, he declares, “This is already an old war The statesmanship at Washington with all its admitted wisdom and sagacity, utterly failed . . . to comprehend the nature and extent of this rebellion. Mr Lincoln and his Cabinet . . . have fought the rebels with the Olive branch. The people must teach them to fight them with the sword.” In the last part of the speech, Douglass returns to slavery as the cause of the war and complete abolition as the only way to end it. “This slavery begotten and slavery sustained, and slavery animated war, has now cost this nation more than a hundred thousand lives, and more than five hundred millions of treasure. . . . By urging upon the nation the necessity and duty of putting an end to slavery, you put an end to the war, and put an end to the cause of the war, and make any repetition of it impossible.”

July 4– Friday– Front Royal, Virginia– Robert Gould Shaw writes to his mother, talking at length about General Fremont’s resignation from the army. He reports that some officers believe “that there is a set of men in power who are bound to hunt down every prominent and popular anti-slavery man, and that Fremont’s difficulties are to be attributed to them. All the Western men . . . are in a great rage with government. . . . What we want is his [Fremont’s] ‘d__n the expense’ spirit, don’t you think so? If we only went in for sink or swim, we should finish the thing up.” He observes about McClellan’s recent defeat that “we can look for something exciting from England and France . . . if we have suffered such a defeat as is as present supposed.”

Lewis Carroll


July 4– Friday– Thames River, near Oxford, England–Charles Dodgson (a/k/a Lewis Carroll) entertains 10 year old Alice Liddell and her sisters on a boat trip from Oxford to Godstow by improvising the story that becomes Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

July 5– Saturday– New York City– Harper’s Weekly carries and advertisement of interest to mothers. “JUST PUBLISHED—Price 50 cents. Free by mail on receipt of the price, “Advice to a Mother on the Management of Her Offspring in Infancy, Childhood, and Youth.” By Pye Henry Chavasse, M.D. This little volume answers over three hundred questions, which none but a mother would think of asking, concerning the management of children from birth till they arrive at the age of puberty. If we mistake not, the information conveyed covers all the cases that can, by any possibility, arise respecting the numerous ills that lie in wait for children. The book is written in a popular form, and cannot but prove acceptable to mothers and nurses.” [Price would equal about $11.50 today.]

 July 5– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– General Lee advises President Davis that his forces are too reduced in number to again immediately engage General McClellan’s Federal troops. [Since June 1st the Confederate forces in Virginia have lost about 5200 killed and three times that number wounded.]

July 5– Saturday– Hilton Head, South Carolina– Union soldier Christian C Lobinger records the day’s beverage and meat. “Captain Templeton purchased a good portion of . . . Whiskey for the Company and I never saw whiskey drank that had such a good effect as on this occasion – the very medicine needed for the men under the circumstances (though I don’t approve of using it as a beverage) – W. H. Lewis and I . . . bought some roast turkey canned . . . so we had roast turkey for dinner– rather a luxury in the army and few soldiers can boast of eating the same.”

July 6– Sunday– New York City– George Templeton Strong evaluates the French government. “Louis Napoleon is tempted to intervene . . . and thinks he will secure recognition of his dynasty by active hostility to free institutions. It seems an unreasonable, impractical motive, not at all in the style of that most wily and wary potentate.”

July 7– Monday– Harrison’s Landing, Virginia– From his headquarters General McClellan sends a letter to President Lincoln, giving the President unsolicited advice on policy, particularly on the slavery question. “Neither confiscation of property, political executions of persons, territorial organization of States, or forcible abolition of slavery should be contemplated for a moment. In prosecuting the war all private property and unarmed persons should be strictly protected, subject only to the necessity of military operations. All private property taken for military use should be paid or receipted for; pillage and waste should be treated as high crimes; all unnecessary trespass sternly prohibited, and offensive demeanor by the military towards citizens promptly rebuked.”

July 7– Monday– near Richmond, Virginia– A young man serving under Stonewall Jackson writes to his mother. “I can’t comprehend the reason you give for secession that the North and the South did not love each other. With what cruel hatred do the most pious people of the North regard the Southern Rebels– ‘Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.’ The pious and highly conservative Dr. Engles . . . Consigns the South to Execration! Malignant fanaticism fills the best minds in the north. The Christians of the North are as much justifiable for Supporting this war as the pious Catholics were for supporting the Inquisition.”

July 7– Monday– Glasgow, Scotland– Upon returning home with his family from several days of holiday, John Fleming, a well-to-do and respected accountant, finds 35 year old Jess McPherson, a servant, murdered in her room. Her half-dressed body rests beside her bed, showing signs of being brutally attacked by someone using a cleaver. The case will quickly become a sensation in the British Isles and the United States.


Wellington, New Zealand~government buildings

July 7– Monday– Wellington, New Zealand– The Parliament meets here for the first time.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: