What Passingbells~July, 1862~the second week

The second week of July is a busy one for President Lincoln, He takes care of his son away at college, continues diplomacy with Latin America, visits the troops and attempts to rally support for gradual compensated emancipation. In private, with two Cabinet members, he broaches the idea of a radical emancipation.

Mary Chesnut blames the war on Northern greed. Sarah Morgan criticizes General Butler for his treatment of women. Like some other college-age women of then and now, she is harshly critical of James Boswell and Sam Johnson.

The New York Times declares that the capture of Richmond will end any threat of European intervention while a British politician writes to former Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, saying that this is not the right time for Britain to recognize the Confederacy.

Confederate cavalry score successes in Kentucky. New Yorker George Templeton Strong feels depressed by Union failures. General Pope deals harshly with the people of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. General Butterfield composes “Taps” for use at soldiers’ funerals. Congress creates the Medal of Honor to recognize bravery. Out west, in San Francisco citizens celebrate the authorization of the transcontinental railroad while in Salt Lake City Brigham Young wants federal recognition of Mormon polygamy.

Union Army of the Potomac in camp

July 8– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln instructs his private secretary, John Nicolay, to send $280 to Robert Todd Lincoln, the President’s 18 year old son who is studying at Harvard. [A hefty sum which today would equal about $6,460 in purchasing power.]

July 8– Tuesday– Charleston, South Carolina– Mary Chesnut diaries her analysis of the causes of the war. “Table-talk to-day: This war was undertaken by us to shake off the yoke of foreign invaders. So we consider our cause righteous. The Yankees, since the war has begun, have discovered it is to free the slaves that they are fighting. So their cause is noble. They also expect to make the war pay. Yankees do not undertake anything that does not pay. They think we belong to them. We have been good milk cows – milked by the tariff, or skimmed. We let them have all of our hard earnings. We bear the ban of slavery; they get the money. Cotton pays everybody who handles it, sells it, manufactures it, but rarely pays the man who grows it. Second hand the Yankees received the wages of slavery. They grew rich. We grew poor. The receiver is as bad as the thief. That applies to us, too, for we received the savages they stole from Africa and brought to us in their slave-ships. As with the Egyptians, so it shall be with us: if they let us go, it must be across a Red Sea – but one made red by blood.”

Notice of slave auction

July 9– Wednesday– Washington, D. C.– President Lincoln submits to the Senate for ratification a postal agreement treaty with Costa Rica.

July 9– Wednesday– Tomkinsville, Kentucky– Confederate cavalry under John Hunt Morgan capture the town.

July 9– Wednesday– Harrison’s Landing, Virginia– Elisha Hunt Rhodes records a visitor. “Last night President Lincoln made a visit to the Army. As he passed along the lines salutes were fired, and the men turned out and cheered.”

July 10– Thursday– New York City– The New York Times discusses the threat of foreign intervention. “The panic-mongers are doing a pretty good business just now. They have convinced Wall-street at least that foreign intervention is certain to take place immediately, and that the end of the rebellion is therefore indefinitely postponed. . . . We have no fears of foreign intervention. We apprehend no troubles from abroad with which the skillful and masterly diplomacy of Secretary Seward will not safely and successfully deal. . . . The one thing needful is to take Richmond – to disperse and destroy the army which holds it. Whenever that is done, we shall hear nothing more of foreign intervention in the interest of secession.”

Union General John Pope

July 10– Thursday– Shenandoah Valley, Virginia– Union General John Pope issues orders that any citizen in the Shenandoah Valley who fires shots at Federal soldiers or damages telegraph or railroad lines will be executed.

July 10– Thursday– Harrison’s Landing, Virginia– A bugle call for lights out and for use at funerals, recently composed by General Dan Butterfield, a 30 year old New Yorker, comes into use in the Army of the Potomac. It is called “Taps.” Oliver Norton, from Erie, Pennsylvania and Butterfield’s bugler, is generally recognized as the first bugler to play the composition.

Union General Dan Butterfield

July 10– Thursday– Baton Rouge, Louisiana– Sarah Morgan comments to her diary about General Butler’s attempts to suppress war news and public discussion of the war. “What a stretch of tyranny! O free America! You who uphold free people, free speech, free everything, what a foul blot of despotism rests on a once spotless name! A nation of brave men, who wage war on women and lock them up in prisons for using their woman weapon, the tongue; a nation of free people who advocate despotism; a nation of Brothers who bind the weaker ones hand and foot, and scourge them with military tyrants and other Free, Brotherly institutions; what a picture! Who would not be an American? One consolation is, that this proclamation, and the extraordinary care they take to suppress all news except what they themselves manufacture, proves me our cause is prospering more than they like us to know. I do believe day is about to break!”

July 10– Thursday– San Francisco, California– This evening there is a large torch-light parade in honor of the passage of the Pacific Railroad bill.

July 11– Friday– Newport, Giles County, Virginia– Rebel soldier James McCutchan describes for his cousin, Rachel Ann McCutchan, some of the people he has met. “Mrs. Paine is a fine old lady, her husband is dead & she has no children [but] she has an adopted daughter, Miss Hattie Early a young lady about sixteen. They are all mighty nice about every thing, real sanctified Methodists. The circuit rider is here now. I don’t know how he can preach but from his appearances, I judge if I had two days study, & a glass of brandy, I could preach as well in the back woods as he can.”

July 11– Friday– London, England– Birth of Elisabeth (“Liza”) Nina Lehman, composer and opera singer.

Group of women in the Civil War period

July 12– Saturday– New York City– A report in Harper’s Weekly says that in April, Mormon leader Brigham Young sent a message to the territorial legislature in support of the Union cause and encouraging statehood and “that it be done with all the laws that are now in operation in the Territory of Utah, including, of course, the law recognizing polygamy.”


Mormon leader Brigham Young


July 12– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln sends an appeal to the congressional delegations from the border states, seeking their support for a program of gradual emancipation. “How much better for you, and for your people, to take the step which, at once, shortens the war, and secures substantial compensation for that which is sure to be wholly lost in any other event. . . . I do not speak of emancipation at once, but of a decision at once to emancipate gradually. . . . . . . Before leaving the Capital, consider and discuss it among yourselves. You are patriots and statesmen; and, as such, I pray you, consider this proposition; and, at the least, commend it to the consideration of your states and people. As you would perpetuate popular government for the best people in the world, I beseech you that you do in no wise omit this. Our common country is in great peril, demanding the loftiest views, and boldest action to bring it speedy relief.”

July12– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– Congress establishes the Medal of Honor for gallantry in action by non-commissioned officers and privates who “distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldierlike qualities.”

July 12– Saturday– Lebanon, Kentucky– John Hunt Morgan’s cavalry captures the town.

July 13– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– During a carriage ride, President Lincoln suggests to Secretary of State William Seward and Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles, both strong opponents of slavery, that he is seriously considering proclaiming emancipation of all slaves in the rebellious states. Seward suggests some of the problems such a move might cause and asks for time to “bestow on it mature reflection before giving a decisive answer.” Welles notes in his diary that “in all our previous interviews . . . [the President] had been prompt and emphatic in denouncing any interference by the General Government with the subject.”

July 13– Sunday– Baton Rouge, Louisiana– Sarah Morgan writes her impression of Boswell’s Life of Johnson. “I have been reading that old disguster, Boswell. Bah! I have no patience with the toady! I suppose ‘my mind is not yet thoroughly impregnated with the Johnsonian ether,’ and that is the reason why I cannot appreciate him, or his work. I admire him for his patience and minuteness in compiling such trivial details. He must have been an amiable man, to bear Johnson’s brutal, ill-humored remarks; but seems to me if I had not spirit enough to resent the indignity, I would at least not publish it to the world! Briefly, my opinion, which this book has only tended to confirm, is that Boswell was a vain, conceited prig, a fool of a jackanape, an insupportable sycophant, a–whatever mean thing you please; there is no word small enough to suit him. As to Johnson, he is a surly old bear; in short, an old brute of a tyrant. All his knowledge and attainments could not have made me tolerate him, I am sure.”


James Boswell, the object of Sarah Morgan’s scorn

July 14– Monday– New York City– In his diary George Templeton Strong writes in a dark mood. “We are in the depths just now, permeated by disgust, saturated with gloomy thinking. I find it hard to maintain my lively faith in the triumph of the nation and the law.”

July 14– Monday– Williamstown, Massachusetts– Birth of Florence Bascom, geologist who will become a professor of geology at Bryn Mawr College and the first woman to work for the United States Geological Society (1896 to 1936).

Florence Bascom

July 15– Tuesday– Yazoo River, north of Vicksburg, Mississippi– Union gunboats slug it out with the new Confederate iron-clad the Arkansas, Three Union vessels and the Arkansas are severely damage with 68 Union sailors killed or injured and 25 Southerners killed or wounded on the Arkansas.

July 15– Tuesday– Apache Pass, New Mexico Territory [now part of Arizona]– Federal soldiers fight a day-long battle with well-armed Chiricahua Apache warriors led by Mangas Coloradus. Two Union soldiers are killed and somewhere between 35 and 65 Apache die, mostly from canon fire.

July 15– Tuesday– London, England– In a letter to Benjamin Disraeli, W. S. Stanley writes, “It is premature to recognize the southern confederacy. We can’t even get at them. The whole coast is in federal hands. It can hardly be argued that a country which has not a port nor a means of ingress or egress is in a position to claim recognition o f its independence. Mediation is impossible. The offer of it useless you want to provoke insult from the North. If you intervene, you must prepare to enforce the acceptance of your proposal. In its present temper, the north would go to war rather than yield. T hey are too much excited to calculate chances . . . . If we want to protract the war- to stimulate the combatants to the utmost, let us talk of interfering to stop it. If we want it to die out, let us carefully stand aloof. The strongest American feelings are, distrust of England and belief in their own invincibility. Nothing can do away the first- events only can desicate the last.”

Benjamin Disraeli

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