Monthly Archives: August 2012

By Blood and Iron~September, 1862~the first week

The bloodshed of September scalds the nation. At the start of the war no one expected such endless blood-letting, so many dead. This month includes the bloodiest single day of fighting in the United States. In major battles fought during this month, the dead from both sides total at least 6,532 and the wounded at least 24,362. In addition to major battles, skirmishing, scouting, probing and firefights occur in Florida, Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and West Virginia [the last still in the process of officially joining the Union]. In the whole eight years of the American Revolution there were about 50,000 dead and wounded in total. During the War of 1812, a conflict of less than three years duration, 2280 Americans died in combat and another 4,505 were wounded. In this terrible month an average of 218 soldiers are killed each day. [In the whole American Revolution the daily average was 11 killed per day; in the War of 1812, an average of 31 per day; from 1955 to 1975, in the Vietnam War, an average of 26 soldiers were killed each day.] The month is full of uncertainty and bloodshed in measures previously unknown to Americans. It is a month of blood and iron in the United States and elsewhere around the world. A speech by the new German Prime Minister will set in motion a half century of developments leading, directly and indirectly, to the fields of Flanders in 1914. Yet in all of this there comes a gleam of hope for the enemies of slavery.

Frederick Douglass, abolitionist

As the month begins Frederick Douglass criticizes President Lincoln while Lincoln privately ponders the will of God. Yankee soldiers Robert Gould Shaw and Elisha Hunt Rhodes fret about the lack of progress in suppressing the rebellion. A popular Union general dies in battle. Bloodshed continues in Minnesota. A Southern belle praises her black “servants” for not running off with Yankee soldiers. Confederate General Lee prepares a strike northward to relieve pressure on Richmond. A young rebel reassures his family that he prays regularly but misses his home. Tensions continue between Britain and the United States. A leader of the Anglican Church dies.


September– Rochester, New York– In this month’s issue of Douglass’ Monthly Frederick Douglass takes to task President Lincoln. “The President of the United States seems to possess an ever increasing passion for making himself appear silly and ridiculous, if nothing worse. Since the publication of our last number he has been unusually garrulous, characteristically foggy, remarkably illogical and untimely in his utterances, often saying that which nobody wanted to hear, and studiously leaving unsaid about the only things which the country and the times imperatively demand of him.” In the same edition he writes, “The mild and gentle persuasions of abolitionists have been despised, their counsels and warnings have been scorned and rejected. Now the fiery sword of justice waves over the land, and we must reap as we have sown.”

September 1– Monday– Lexington, Virginia– Jacob Kent Langhorne, beginning his first year of study at the Virginia Military Institute, writes home to his sister in Augusta County. “Tell Ma that I have read my bible every day since I have been here. We also have prayers every night among the cadets and tell her that I have been every night and expect to keep it up as long as I stay here. I have looked for the last two days for a letter from home if you all knew how much I want to hear from home you would certainly write. Sister I have been thinking all day about the nice grapes and peaches you all are having and how much I would like to be there.”

the gallent General Kearney leading the charge in which he is killed

September 1– Monday– Chantilly, Virginia– In the continuing chaos since the battle of August 30th, about 20,000 Confederate troops under Stonewall Jackson and Jeb Stuart run into 6,000 Federal soldiers under Major General Philip Kearney. In heavy day-long fighting under a hard rain, the Union suffers 1300 dead, wounded and missing while the Confederacy suffers a total of about 800 casualties. During fighting the popular Union General Kearney, age 47, is shot and killed. The fighting is inconclusive. The Confederate advance toward Washington stalls and the Federals withdraw and regroup in defensive positions.

September 1– Monday– Fairfax Court House, Virginia– As the Union Army settles for the night, Elisha Hunt Rhodes describes the day’s battle. “It rained in torrents, and I never in all my life ever heard such thunder or saw such lightening. It seemed as if Nature was trying to outdo man in the way of noise . . . . Nature won and the battle ceased. We camped on the field for the night amid the dead and dying.”

American cartoon depicting the English “John Bull”, the equivalent of Uncle Sam to Americans

September 1– Monday– New York City– The New York Times takes to task British criticism of the Union war effort, detailing Britain’s failures and problems in the Crimean War of the preceding decade. “John Bull professes to be very greatly amazed that we do not abandon a war which we have failed to end in a year. He thinks we ought to be satisfied, by this time, that we never can conquer the South, inasmuch as we have not done it already. . . . We submit this brief summary of his only recent military undertaking, drawn from his own historian, to the careful contemplation of John Bull, whenever he feels disposed to criticize our operations and failures during the past year. England began that war with a powerful standing army, the largest fleet in the world, a strong Government, a high military reputation, skilled and experienced officers, and the loudest possible boasts of the enormous results she was about to achieve on behalf of the free institutions and Christian civilization of the Western World. Every step she took in the campaign was marked by blundering incapacity, by neglect of the most ordinary military precautions, and by failures which would have been fatal and utterly disgraceful, but for the timely and efficient aid of the French. The British officers, old and experienced as they were, were unable even to feed and shelter their troops, to prevent them from constant surprises, or to seize the opportunities which would have given them an early and a cheap victory.”

September 2– Tuesday– Morton, Minnesota– In the battle of Birch Coulee, the Sioux defeat a force of 170 soldiers, killing 13 of them and wounding 47 others. Two Sioux warriors are killed.

September 2– Tuesday– Bull Run, Virginia– Robert Gould Shaw writes to his father. “This campaign began about the 1st of March. Now it is September and we are just where we started from.”

September 2– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– On or about this day, President Lincoln writes for himself a meditation on Divine Will. “The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party– and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect His purpose. I am almost ready to say that this is probably true– that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet. By his mere great power, on the minds of the now contestants, He could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest. Yet the contest began. And, having begun He could give the final victory to either side any day. Yet the contest proceeds.” [The scrap of paper is later found and preserved by John Hay, one of the president’s personal secretaries.]

President Lincoln with his two private secretaries

September 3–Wednesday– Frankfort, Kentucky– Confederate forces capture the city, the state capital.

September 3– Wednesday– near Washington, D.C.– Elisha Hunt Rhodes expresses the feelings of many Union soldiers. “It is hard to have reached the point we started from last March, and Richmond is still the Rebel Capital.”

September 3– Wednesday– Clinton, Louisiana– Sarah Morgan records the conduct of her family’s slaves. “Our servants they [Union soldiers] kindly made free, and told them they must follow them (the officers). Margret was boasting the other day of her answer, ‘I don’t want to be any free-er than I is now– I’ll stay with my mistress,’ when Tiche shrewdly remarked, ‘Pshaw! Don’t you know that if I had gone, you’d have followed me?’ The conduct of all our servants is beyond praise. Five thousand Negroes followed their Yankee brothers from the town and neighborhood; but ours remained. During the fight, or flight, rather, a fleeing officer stopped to throw a musket in Charles Barker’s hands, and bade him fight for his liberty. Charles drew himself up, saying, ‘I am only a slave, but I am a Secesh n—–, and won’t fight in such a d—- crew!’ Exit Yankee, continuing his flight down to the riverside.”

September 4– Thursday– Leesburg, Virginia– Rather than attempt a frontal assault on Washington, Confederate General Lee begins to cross the Potomac River here, 33 miles northwest of the Federal capital, and moves toward Maryland.

September 5– Friday– Washington, D.C.– General McClellan orders guard established at President’s residence on grounds of Soldiers’ Home. The 20 year old building in the northwest section of the District of Columbia has served as the President’s retreat since June.

the Lincoln Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home

September 6– Saturday– Frederick, Maryland– Confederate soldiers under Stonewall Jackson occupy the town.

September 6– Saturday– Washington, D. C.– Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, journals unpleasant thoughts. “We have information that the Rebels have crossed the Potomac in considerable force, with a view of invading Maryland and pushing on into Pennsylvania. . . . Have unpleasant information concerning privateers, which are getting abroad by connivance of the British authorities.”

Captured blockade runners

September 6– Saturday– London, England– John Bird Sumner, the Archbishop of Canterbury since 1848, dies at 82 years of age.

September 7– Sunday– Orcutts Cross Roads, Virginia– Elisha Hunt Rhodes, now a second lieutenant, celebrates. “I am very happy over my promotion, for I am one of the youngest officers, being only 20 years old, and seven months.”

Any Real Republicans These Days? A Contrast with the Election of 1860

Real Republicans~Are There Any Remaining These Days?

The Election of 1860

This is the second in my occasional series looking at the history of the Republican Party. I confess that I was tempted to entitle this ‘Real Republicans~Are There Any Left?’ but realized that would be an unnecessary implied comment.

 Allow me, gentle reader, to restate a warning which I have stated previously. When I started this blog a bit over a year ago, I wrote in my first essay: “My interests are varied, my age senior, my politics and theology unapologetically liberal. If you enjoy my rambling, I am pleased. If you don’t, well the web is a wide, wide world. To each her own.” In this election year I have a thing or six to say about American politics. Much of that is harsh and unflattering to the Republican Party nationally and to the current Republican administration in my state, Pennsylvania. And if you, gentle reader, are conservative in your views, you will most likely be offended by what I say. So read on at your own risk or switch right now to another blog.

 My political views come from FDR’s New Deal, Jack Kennedy’s New Frontier, Eugene V Debs’ “Bending Cross” speech, chapters 5, 6 and 7 of the Gospel of Matthew [when the Italian social activist Father John Bosco was asked about politics, he replied, “My political views are those of the Lord’s Prayer”], Quaker peace principles and the IWW’s concept of “one big union.” I have voted for Democrats, independents and various third party candidates but, never, to my knowledge, for a Republican. And since my dominant hand has not withered, I believe that I never have pulled the lever for a Republican. In my mind, the criticism of President Obama as a “socialist” simply reveals the ignorance of his critics who apparently do not know enough history or current events to recognize a real socialist if one stood in front of them. All that said, if you are still reading, let me move on apiece to my second historical study in this series–the election of !860.


Lincoln in 1860


I posted a detailed account of the election of 1860 here on my blog on August 30th of last year. Those who are interested can read or reread it. To begin this analysis I will repeat a few of the introductory paragraphs and then turn my attention to the Chicago convention of that year and the Republican platform adopted at the convention.

 The Republican Party emerged in 1854, growing out of a coalition of anti-slavery Whigs [the American “Whig” Party was founded in 1832-3 and dissolved in 1854] and Free Soil Democrats who mobilized in opposition to Senator Douglas’ introduction of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill which repealed the 1820 Missouri Compromise prohibition on slavery in territory north of the 36degree 30minute latitude line. The new party quickly composed a platform of developing the United States by encouraging cheap or free homesteads on western lands, encouraging immigration from western Europe, expanding railroads, and protecting growing industries. They argued that free-market labor was superior to slavery and indeed was the foundation of civic virtue.

 In the mid-term election of 1858, the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives for the first time, benefitting from the breakdown of the anti-immigration and anti-Catholic American Party [“the Know Nothing movement”] and from increasing strife within the Democratic Party. While actually several seats short of a numerical majority, the Republicans exercised authority by support from members of other parties.

 At the beginning of the campaign year, the Democrats continued to splinter. Yet the Republican field of potential nominees for the presidency seemed quite full. William H. Seward of New York was considered the front runner, followed by Abraham Lincoln of Illinois, Salmon P. Chase of Ohio, Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania and Edward Bates of Missouri.

 Seward was a distinguished lawyer, had been governor of New York and served in the U S Senate since 1849. He held abolitionist sympathies and he and his wife had sheltered fugitive slaves in their home. Southerners either despised or feared him.

 Chase, a distinguished lawyer, had been born in New Hampshire. Blinded in one eye as a youth, he was raised by an uncle, an Episcopal bishop. For his defense of escaped slaves seized in Ohio, he was called “the Attorney General for Fugitive Slaves.” His argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Jones v.Van Zandt on the constitutionality of fugitive slave laws attracted much attention. He had served as U S Senator for Ohio and as the state’s governor from January 14, 1856 to January 9, 1860.

 Cameron, a Pennsylvania native son, made a considerable fortune in railroads and banking. He twice served as a U S Senator from Pennsylvania.

 Bates, Virginia-born, was a veteran of the War of 1812 and a lawyer. He moved to Missouri after the war and became active in Missouri politics at both the state and national levels.

 Lincoln, like the others, was a lawyer. Unlike Seward, Chase and Cameron, he had not attended college and had minimal formal schooling. Like most antebellum lawyers, he “read law” while clerking for a lawyer and then sought admission to the bar. He had natural wit, read everything he got his hands on and was an excellent story-teller. He had served one term in Congress as a representative from Illinois where he opposed the War with Mexico in 1846. He married a southern woman. He made a considerable fortune doing legal work for the growing railroads. His 1858 challenge to Stephen A Douglas for the seat in the U S Senate gave him some notoriety beyond Illinois.


Site of the 1860 Republican convention

As the convention in Chicago developed, it became clear that Seward, Chase, Bates and Cameron had each alienated some faction of the Republican Party. Seward appeared too closely identified with the radical wing of the party. [Remember, gentle reader, in this period and during Reconstruction after the Civil War, the terms “radical” and “Republican” were not mutually exclusive]. Chase, a former Democrat, alienated many of the former Whigs by his coalition with the Democrats in the late 1840s, opposed tariffs demanded by Pennsylvania industry, and faced some opposition among his own delegation from Ohio. Bates alienated people in the border states and southern conservatives as well as German-Americans in the party. Cameron was slick and opportunistic, having no real support outside of Pennsylvania. After his famous Cooper Union address in February, 1860, Lincoln developed a national reputation as the most articulate moderate in the party. [Query: Would a moderate stand a chance of winning the Republican nomination today? Not at all likely, is it?] He won the nomination on the third ballot on May 18, 1860. Hannibal Hamlin, a lawyer and politician from Maine and known for his anti-slavery views, was selected as vice-presidential candidate to balance the ticket. Consider the platform which came out of that Chicago convention. 

“6. That the people justly view with alarm the reckless extravagance which pervades every department of the Federal Government; that a return to rigid economy and accountability is indispensable to arrest the systematic plunder of the public treasury by favored partisans; while the recent startling developments of frauds and corruptions at the Federal metropolis, show that an entire change of administration is imperatively demanded.”

Yes, that sounds familiar. The American public has already heard such words. I will not be surprised to see similar language in the Republican platform whicvh will come out of this year’s convention. However, look further with me ,gentle reader, at what else was in that Republican platform.

 “9. That we brand the recent reopening of the African slave trade, under the cover of our national flag, aided by perversions of judicial power, as a crime against humanity and a burning shame to our country and age; and we call upon Congress to take prompt and efficient measures for the total and final suppression of that execrable traffic.”

 Despite legislation from the Administration of President Jefferson in 1807 which banned American participation in international slave trade, the South had boldly resumed illegal trade, capturing and buying slaves directly in Africa, and the Southern bloc in Congress stymied efforts to stop it. Southerners also regularly bought slaves in Havana, Cuba and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil which were seen, in light of the Monroe Doctrine, as part of sphere of influence of the United States and buying slaves there as much a part of the domestic slave trade as buying slaves in Richmond, Virginia or New Orleans, Louisiana. Will the current Republican candidate take such a brave stand on behalf of people of color? I have my doubts.


Anti-Lincoln political cartoon showing him supported by free black people and the liberal editor Horace Greeley

“12. That, while providing revenue for the support of the general government by duties upon imports, sound policy requires such an adjustment of these imports as to encourage the development of the industrial interests of the whole country; and we commend that policy of national exchanges, which secures to the workingmen liberal wages, to agriculture remunerative prices, to mechanics and manufacturers an adequate reward for their skill, labor, and enterprise, and to the nation commercial prosperity and independence.”

 Given the current anti-union positions of the Republican Party today, I do not expect them to advocate “liberal wages” for workers. Today’s Republicans place the interests of business owners far above those of blue collar and pink collar workers.

 “13. That we protest against any sale or alienation to others of the public lands held by actual settlers, and against any view of the free-homestead policy which regards the settlers as paupers or suppliants for public bounty; and we demand the passage by Congress of the complete and satisfactory homestead measure which has already passed the House.”

 Today’s Republicans place the interests of agribusiness and oil companies well above those of small family farmers. I would be greatly suprised to see this kind of language in the 2012 Republican platform.

 “14. That the Republican party is opposed to any change in our naturalization laws or any state legislation by which the rights of citizens hitherto accorded to immigrants from foreign lands shall be abridged or impaired; and in favor of giving a full and efficient protection to the rights of all classes of citizens, whether native or naturalized, both at home and abroad.”

 This was added to the platform to counter anti-immigrant policies advocated by Southerners and those with anti-Catholic, anti-Irish and anti-Jewish sentiments, sentiments which had some popularity every so often in the 1840s and 1850s. The current attitude of the Republican Party is to restrict immigration as much as possible, quickly deport illegal immigrants and pull away the welcome mat from in front of the Statue of Liberty.

 “15. That appropriations by Congress for river and harbor improvements of a national character, required for the accommodation and security of an existing commerce, are authorized by the Constitution, and justified by the obligation of Government to protect the lives and property of its citizens.

“16. That a railroad to the Pacific Ocean is imperatively demanded by the interests of the whole country; that the federal government ought to render immediate and efficient aid in its construction; and that, as preliminary thereto, a daily overland mail should be promptly established.”

 I can not imagine the current Republican Party making any such similar statements. If it were up to the apparent nominee the American automobile would have become extinct. Most likely with his mentality a transcontinental railroad would never have been built. I look forward to contrasting the 2012 Republican platform with that of 1860. And certainly no one of the stature of Lincoln or Seward is in the forefront of that party today.


Pro-Lincoln cartoon depicting him as the true defender of liberty

On Tuesday, November 6, 1860, in the popular vote for president, Lincoln receives 1,866,452 votes; Douglas receives 1,375,157 votes; John Breckinridge receives 847,953 votes; John Bell receives 590,631 votes. Lincoln carries California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin. Douglas receives a majority (51.9%) only in New Jersey and in Missouri where he edges Bell by only 429 votes. Breckinridge carries most of the slave-holding states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas and edges out Bell by 722 votes in Maryland. Bell carries only Kentucky and Missouri. South Carolina opts not to participate.

 I expect that the Republican ticket in 2012 will win all the states which were once part of the Confederacy– unless large numbers of minority persons turn out to vote and vote Democratic. This election will be decided by which party carries New England, the mid-Atlantic, the mid-West and the Pacific coast. But are there Republicans like those of 1860? If they yet remain in that party they are strangely silent.

Let Slip the Dogs of War~August 26th to 31st, 1862

The month closes with one more major bloodbath, a second go-round at Bull Run (Manassas) with the Confederates victorious as they were in the summer of 1861. However, the cost in dead and wounded is much higher for both sides this time. Worse things, much worse, are coming in September. Citizens such as George Templeton Strong as well as members of Lincoln’s Cabinet worry about the competency of General McClellan. The alleged Confederate spy Belle Boyd is released. Northern newspapers fuss about draft exemption for Quakers. Violence continues in Minnesota.

One of Walt Whitman’s former editors laments his present state of affairs.

It becomes clear to Mexico that the country shall have to go it alone against France. In Italy the hero Garibaldi again makes the news.

August 27– Wednesday– New York City– The New York Times joins a number of other papers questioning the exemption of Quakers from military conscription based upon their religious belief in non-violence. “There is no reason why a Quaker should not be required to defend the Government which protects him in the enjoyment of life, liberty and prosperity, any more than any other citizen. If for any reason of conscience or constitution, he is unwilling to fight in person, let him hire a substitute. The law in question is liable and is actually subject to very gross abuse. In many parts of this State, we learn from good authority, scores and hundreds of men are filing claims to exemption from the draft on the ground that they are ‘of the religious sect called Quakers,’– a fact which has never been suspected by those who have known them best hitherto.”

August 28–Thursday– Washington, D.C.–The Mexican Minister reports to his government that the United States will not allow Mexico to buy weapons in the United States to fight the French.

August 28– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– Belle Boyd, the alleged Confederate spy who was arrested on July 29th, is released from jail. Federal authorities cite lack of sufficient evidence to hold her.

Col. Sibley at the time of the battle with the Sioux

August 28– Thursday– Fort Ridgely, Minnesota– Additional Federal troops under Colonel H H Sibley arrive to fight the Sioux.

August 28– Thursday– Munich, Germany– The painter Albrecht Adam dies at age 76. He was a court painter for Emperor Napoleon I and later for the emperors of Austria and the kings of Bavaria. He is famous for his paintings of battle scenes and of horses.

August 29– Friday– New York City– George Templeton Strong complains to his diary. “Are our generals traitors or imbecile? Why does the Rebellion enjoy the monopoly of audacity and enterprise? Were I a general, even I, poor little feeble, myopic, flaccid, effeminate George T Strong, I think I could do better than this.”

Maurice Maeterlinck

August 29– Friday– Ghent, Belgium– Birth of Maurice Maeterlinck, playwright and poet, who will win the Nobel Prize for literature in 1911.

August 29– Friday– Reggia Calebria, Italy– In a skirmish between the Royal Italian Army and volunteers under Garibaldi, Garibaldi is wounded and the push to Rome brought to a halt. Garibaldi, upset by the determination of Pope Pius IX to maintain secular political rule over the city of Rome, had gathered volunteers to challenge Papal authority. The government sent troops to stop them. When one or two soldiers open fire on the “rebels” and they return fire, Garibaldi orders his followers to cease and he himself willingly becomes a prisoner. The encounter becomes known as “the Battle of Aspromonte.”



August 30– Saturday– Manassas, Virginia– In the final day of a prolonged four day fight which will become known as “Second Manassas” or the Second Battle of Bull Run, General Lee’s Confederate troops score a major victory over Federal troops. Lee sustains a total of 9,197 killed, wounded or missing (about 18.9% of his total command) during the four days campaign while inflicting 16,054 total casualties upon his opponents (21.4% of the involved Union forces). The star performer on behalf of the Confederacy is General Stonewall Jackson.

Stonewall Jackson memorial at Manassas Park

August 30– Saturday– Richmond, Kentucky– Confederate troops win a small but important victory over Union forces and make a major advance in their invasion of Kentucky.

August 31– Sunday– Boston, Massachusetts– William Wilde Thayer of the bankrupt publishing company of Thayer and Eldridge, which published the third edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass in 1860, writes to Whitman about the job Thayer now holds in the post office. “I lead a miserable life now I assure you, save that which I enjoy in my home. I have uncongenial companions to work with in the office, who though externally good, are internally nobodies, with minds that have fed on husks, they present but poor incentives to one who would enjoy true refinement of soul, or purity of thought, or thought downright earnest sturdy thought of any kind. Poor fellows! They have hard work & disagreeable & I must not blame them, for I believe it is the nature of the employment that stultifies. For I think that I myself have got ‘slunk,’ and have not very exalted ambitions now, although please understand, your old ‘fanatic’ of the concern of T&E is by no means crushed. He only wants his time to rise. The Post master is a good friend to me so I must not complain for without my clerkship, God only knows how I could have supported the dear ones at home.”

Walt Whitman in a photograph by Matthew Brady

August 31– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– Gideon Welles records increasing sentiment against General McClellan among some members of the Cabinet. “The energy and rapid movements of the Rebels are in such striking contrast to those of our own officers that I shall not be seriously surprised at any sudden dash from them. Yesterday . . ., Chase called on me with a protest addressed to the President, signed by himself and Stanton, against continuing McClellan in command and demanding his immediate dismissal. . . . I believe his removal from command was demanded by public sentiment and the best interest of the country.”

August 31– Sunday– Carlisle. Great Britain–The last horse-drawn mail coach makes its final run from this city to Hawick, Scotland.

Lincoln’s Reply to Horace Greeley~full text

Executive Mansion,

Washington, August 22, 1862

Hon. Horace Greeley:

Dear Sir. I have just read yours of the 19th addressed to myself through the New York Tribune. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be perceptible in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.

 As to the policy I “seem to be pursuing” as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.

 I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.” If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I don’t believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be error; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

 I have here stated my purpose according to my view of Official duty: and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.


A. Lincoln


Let Slip the Dogs of War~August 22nd to 25th, 1862

The slavery issue and the status of black Americans remain paramount issues. Abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison blister President Lincoln’s endorsement of colonization. An administration spokesman calls for volunteers to initiate a colony in Central America. President Lincoln makes a public response to Horace Greeley’s Prayer of Twenty Million, saying his primary goal is to save the Union. Tentative steps are taken toward the enlistment of African Americans in the Union Army. General Sherman makes clear that he will not compel the return of fugitive slaves who have come into his lines.

The dogs of war howl in numerous places. Jeb Stuart’s horse soldiers make quite a find. Union soldiers pillage Baton Rouge. Minnesota reels with conflict between the Sioux and settlers who are being reenforced by the Army. The raider CSS Alabama is fully armed and ready to begin its operations. An alleged Confederate diplomat makes passage through Canada on his way to Europe. In the midst of it all, Quakers call for members to bear witness for peace,

The music world will eventually mark the birth of Claude Debussy

William Lloyd Garrison, abolitionist editor


August 22– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– In The Liberator, William Lloyd Garrison attacks President Lincoln for the August 14th proposal to colonize free black people in Central America. “A spectacle, as humiliating as it was extraordinary . . . . Can anything be more puerile, absurd, illogical, impertinent, untimely? Will it not excite the derision and scorn, if not the astonishment, of all Europe?”

August 22–Friday–Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France–Birth of Claude Debussy, French composer.

Claude Debussy

August 22– Friday– Catlett’s Station, Virginia– Jeb Stuart’s cavalry captures the baggage train of Union General Pope, i8ncluding his official papers.

August 22– Friday– New Orleans, Louisiana–Union General Butler opens enlistment of black men into units under his command.

August 22– Friday– Washington, D.C.– Gideon Welles sounds an optimistic note in his diary. “The President tells me he has a list of the number of new recruits which have reached Washington under the late calk. . . . There is wonderful sand increasing enthusiasm and determination to put down this Rebellion and sustain the integrity of the Union.”

August 22–Friday– Washington, D.C.– In response to Horace Greeley’s editorial of August 19th, President Lincoln writes a public letter to Greeley. He states his position as “I have not meant to leave any one in doubt. I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be ‘the Union as it was.’ If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views. . . . and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.”

August 23– Saturday– some miles outside Baton Rouge, Louisiana– Sarah Morgan notes in her diary some of what she has heard about the Union soldiers retreating from Baton Rouge. “I could not record all the stories of wanton destruction that reached us. I would rather not believe that the Federal Government could be so disgraced by its own soldiers. Dr. Day says they left nothing at all in his house, and carried everything off from Dr. Enders. He does not believe we have a single article left in ours. I hope they spared Miriam’s piano. But they say the soldiers had so many that they offered them for sale at five dollars apiece! We heard that the town had been completely evacuated, and all had gone to New Orleans except three gunboats that were preparing to shell, before leaving.”

Steinway grand piano of the period

August 23– Saturday– various battle fronts– Extensive skirmishing erupts in Missouri, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Virginia.

August 23– Saturday– New York City– The New York Times reports atrocities by the Sioux in Minnesota. “Escaped citizens came into the fort, during the night, giving accounts of horrors too terrible for imagination to conceive. Mothers came in rags, barefooted, whose husbands and children were slaughtered before their eyes. Children came who witnessed the murder of their parents, or the burning of their homes. The roads, in all directions, to New Ulm, are lined with murdered men,women and children.”

August 24– Sunday– The Azores– Here in the middle of the North Atlantic the CSS Alabama receives its armament, ammunition and supplies from British companies. The vessel is now a fully operational warship.

Deck of the CSS Alabama, 1863

August 24– Sunday– near Yorktown, Virginia– Elisha Hunt Rhodes writes, “I fear we are no nearer the end of the war than we were when we first landed at Fortress Monroe five months ago. But then we have learned some things, and now I hope we shall go ahead and capture Richmond.”

General William Tecumseh Sherman

August 24– Sunday– Memphis, Tennessee– Union General William Tecumseh Sherman writes to Thomas Hunton, Esquire, a man who has complained about the loss of his slaves. Sherman has known the man for years and expresses surprise the Hunton sided with the rebellion. As to the escaped slaves, You ask of me your Negroes. and I will immediately ascertain if they be under my Military Control and I will moreover see that they are one and all told what is true of all– Boys if you want to go to your master, Go– You are free to choose, You must now think for yourselves. Your Master has seceded from his Parent Government and you have seceded from him–both wrong by law–but both exercising an undoubted natural Right to rebel, If your boys want to go, I will enable them to go, but I wont advise, persuade or force them.”

 August 25– Monday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania–The Quaker Yearly Meeting encourages male members to maintain “the faithful support of our Christian testimony against war.”

Lucretia & James Mott, Quaker leaders

August 25– Monday– Washington, D.C.–Secretary of War Edwin Stanton authorizes General Rufus Saxton, a committed abolitionist and a friend of Thomas Wentworth Higginson, to arm and use 5,000 black soldiers in the South.

General Rufus Saxton

August 25– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Acting under the authority of President Lincoln, Senator Samuel C Pomeroy, age 46, Republican from Kansas, issues a call to free black people. “I propose to examine, and if found satisfactory and promising to settle you at Chirique [in modern Panama], in New-Grenada [a fragile political confederation formed in 1858 which will fall apart in 1863], (with the approval of the Government,) only about one week’s sail from Washington, D.C. All persons of the African race, of sound health, who desire to take with me the lead in this work, will please send their names, their number, sex, and ages of the respective members of their families, and their Post-office address to me, at the City of Washington, D.C. No white person will be allowed as a member of the colony. I want mechanics and laborers, earnest, honest and sober men, for the interests of a generation, it may be of mankind, are involved in the success of this experiment, and with the approbation of the American people, and under the blessing of Almighty God, it cannot, it shall not, fail.”

August 25– Monday– New Ulm, Minnesota– In the conclusion of a two day battle soldiers and settlers drive off a large Sioux attack. However, most of the buildings in town are destroyed or severely damaged and three dozen settlers and soldiers killed.

August 25– Monday– Montreal, Quebec, Canada– The Montreal Herald reports that a man claiming to be an emissary of the Confederate States recently left Canada for England, a “Mr George N. Saunders, who, according to his own representations, is the bearer of a proffer to England of a very favorable commercial treaty with the Southern States. It that be the case, However, Jeff. Davis is not so happy in the choice of his diplomatists as in his generals, for the latter usually exhibit a great deal of reticence as to the business they are engaged in, whereas this Ambassador – if Ambassador he was – manifested a disposition rather blatant than discreet, as to the alleged propositions which he was to submit to the British Government.”

Burned buildings after a Civil War battle

Horace Greeley’s open letter to President Lincoln, August 19, 1862

Horace Greeley’s “The Prayer of the Twenty Millions”

August 19, 1862–the complete text:



President of the United States


DEAR SIR: I do not intrude to tell you– for you must know already– that a great proportion of those who triumphed in you election, and of all who desire the unqualified suppression of the Rebellion now desolating our country, are sorely disappointed and deeply pained by the policy you seem to be pursuing with regard to the slaves of the Rebels. I write only to set succinctly and unmistakably before you what we require, what we think we have a right to expect, and of what we complain.


I. We require of you, as the first servant of the Republic, charged especially and preeminently with this duty, that you EXECUTE THE LAWS. Most emphatically do we demand that such laws as have been recently enacted, which therefore may fairly be presumed to embody the present will and to be dictated by the present needs of the Republic, and which, after due consideration have received your personal sanction, shall by you be carried into full effect, and that you publicly and decisively instruct your subordinates that such laws exist, that they are binding on all functionaries and citizens, and that they are to be obeyed to the letter.

II. We think you are strangely and disastrously remiss in the discharge of your official and imperative duty with regard to the emancipating provisions of the new Confiscation Act. Those provisions were designed to fight Slavery with Liberty. They prescribe that men loyal to the Union, and willing to shed their blood in her behalf, shall no longer be held, with the Nations consent, in bondage to persistent, malignant traitors, who for twenty years have been plotting and for sixteen months have been fighting to divide and destroy our country. Why these traitors should be treated with tenderness by you, to the prejudice of the dearest rights of loyal men, We cannot conceive.

III. We think you are unduly influenced by the counsels, the representations, the menaces, of certain fossil politicians hailing from the Border Slave States. Knowing well that the heartily, unconditionally loyal portion of the White citizens of those States do not expect nor desire chat Slavery shall be upheld to the prejudice of the Union–(for the truth of which we appeal not only to every Republican residing in those States, but to such eminent loyalists as H. Winter Davis, Parson Brownlow, the Union Central Committee of Baltimore, and to The Nashville Union)–we ask you to consider that Slavery is everywhere the inciting cause and sustaining base of treason: the most slaveholding sections of Maryland and Delaware being this day, though under the Union flag, in full sympathy with the Rebellion, while the Free-Labor portions of Tennessee and of Texas, though writhing under the bloody heel of Treason, are unconquerably loyal to the Union. So emphatically is this the case, that a most intelligent Union banker of Baltimore recently avowed his confident belief that a majority of the present Legislature of Maryland, though elected as and still professing to be Unionists, are at heart desirous of the triumph of the Jeff. Davis conspiracy; and when asked how they could be won back to loyalty, replied “only by the complete Abolition of Slavery.” It seems to us the most obvious truth, that whatever strengthens or fortifies Slavery in the Border States strengthens also Treason, and drives home the wedge intended to divide the Union. Had you from the first refused to recognize in those States, as here, any other than unconditional loyalty–that which stands for the Union, whatever may become of Slavery, those States would have been, and would be, far more helpful and less troublesome to the defenders of the Union than they have been, or now are.

IV. We think timid counsels in such a crisis calculated to prove perilous, and probably disastrous. It is the duty of a Government so wantonly, wickedly assailed by Rebellion as ours has been to oppose force to force in a defiant, dauntless spirit. It cannot afford to temporize with traitors nor with semi-traitors. It must not bribe them to behave themselves, nor make cheat fair promises in the hope of disarming their causeless hostility. Representing a brave and high-spirited people, it can afford to forfeit anything else better than its own self-respect, or their admiring confidence. For our Government even to seek, after war has been made on it, to dispel the affected apprehensions of armed traitors that their cherished privileges may be assailed by it, is to invite insult and encourage hopes of its own downfall. The rush to arms of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, is the true answer at once to the Rebel raids of John Morgan and the traitorous sophistries of Beriah Magoffin.

V. We complain that the Union cause has suffered, and is now suffering immensely, from mistaken deference to Rebel Slavery. Had you, Sir, in your Inaugural Address, unmistakably given notice that, in case the Rebellion already commenced were persisted in, and your efforts to preserve the Union and enforce the laws should be resisted by armed force, you would recognize no loyal person as rightfully held in Slavery by a traitor, we believe the Rebellion would therein have received a staggering if not fatal blow. At that moment, according to the returns of the most recent elections, the Unionists were a large majority of the voters of the Slave States. But they were composed in good part of the aged, the feeble, the wealthy, the timid–the young, the reckless, the aspiring, the adventurous, had already been largely lured by the gamblers and negro-traders, the politicians by trade and the conspirators by instinct, into the toils of Treason. Had you then proclaimed that Rebellion would strike the shackles from the slaves of every traitor, the wealthy and the cautious would have been supplied with a powerful inducement to remain loyal. As it was, every coward in the South soon became a traitor from fear; for Loyalty was perilous, while Treason seemed comparatively safe. Hence the boasted unanimity of the South–a unanimity based on Rebel terrorism and the fact that immunity and safety were found on that side, danger and probable death on ours. The Rebels from the first have been eager to confiscate, imprison, scourge and kill: we have fought wolves with the devices of sheep. The result is just what might have been expected. Tens of thousands are fighting in the Rebel ranks to-day whose, original bias and natural leanings would have led them into ours.

VI. We complain that the Confiscation Act which you approved is habitually disregarded by your Generals, and that no word of rebuke for them from you has yet reached the public ear. Fremont’s Proclamation and Hunter’s Order favoring Emancipation were promptly annulled by you; while Halleck’s No. 3, forbidding fugitives from Slavery to Rebels to come within his lines– an order as unmilitary as inhuman, and which received the hearty approbation of every traitor in America– with scores of like tendency, have never provoked even your own remonstrance. We complain that the officers of your Armies have habitually repelled rather than invited approach of slaves who would have gladly taken the risks of escaping from their Rebel masters to our camps, bringing intelligence often of inestimable value to the Union cause. We complain that those who have thus escaped to us, avowing a willingness to do for us whatever might be required, have been brutally and madly repulsed, and often surrendered to be scourged, maimed and tortured by the ruffian traitors, who pretend to own them. We complain that a large proportion of our regular Army Officers, with many of the Volunteers, evince far more solicitude to uphold Slavery than to put down the Rebellion. And finally, we complain that you, Mr. President, elected as a Republican, knowing well what an abomination Slavery is, and how emphatically it is the core and essence of this atrocious Rebellion, seem never to interfere with these atrocities, and never give adirection to your Military subordinates, which does not appear to have been conceived in the interest of Slavery rather than of Freedom.

VII. Let me call your attention to the recent tragedy in New Orleans, whereof the facts are obtained entirely through Pro-Slavery channels. A considerable body of resolute, able-bodied men, held in Slavery by two Rebel sugar-planters in defiance of the Confiscation Act which you have approved, left plantations thirty miles distant and made their way to the great mart of the South-West, which they knew to be the indisputed possession of the Union forces. They made their way safely and quietly through thirty miles of Rebel territory, expecting to find freedom under the protection of our flag. Whether they had or had not heard of the passage of the Confiscation Act, they reasoned logically that we could not kill them for deserting the service of their lifelong oppressors, who had through treason become our implacable enemies. They came to us for liberty and protection, for which they were willing render their best service: they met with hostility, captivity, and murder. The barking of the base curs of Slavery in this quarter deceives no one–not even themselves. They say, indeed, that the negroes had no right to appear in New Orleans armed (with their implements of daily labor in the cane-field); but no one doubts that they would gladly have laid these down if assured that they should be free. They were set upon and maimed, captured and killed, because they sought the benefit of that act of Congress which they may not specifically have heard of, but which was none the less the law of the land which they had a clear right to the benefit of–which it was somebody’s duty to publish far and wide, in order that so many as possible should be impelled to desist from serving Rebels and the Rebellion and come over to the side of the Union, They sought their liberty in strict accordance with the law of the land–they were butchered or re-enslaved for so doing by the help of Union soldiers enlisted to fight against slaveholding Treason. It was somebody’s fault that they were so murdered–if others shall hereafter stuffer in like manner, in default of explicit and public directions to your generals that they are to recognize and obey the Confiscation Act, the world will lay the blame on you. Whether you will choose to hear it through future History and ‘at the bar of God, I will not judge. I can only hope.

VIII. On the face of this wide earth, Mr. President, there is not one disinterested, determined, intelligent champion of the Union cause who does not feel that all attempts to put down the Rebellion and at the same time uphold its inciting cause are preposterous and futile–that the Rebellion, if crushed out tomorrow, would be renewed within a year if Slavery were left in full vigor–that Army officers who remain to this day devoted to Slavery can at best be but half-way loyal to the Union–and that every hour of deference to Slavery is an hour of added and deepened peril to the Union, I appeal to the testimony of your Ambassadors in Europe. It is freely at your service, not at mine. Ask them to tell you candidly whether the seeming subserviency of your policy to the slaveholding, slavery-upholding interest, is not the perplexity, the despair of statesmen of all parties, and be admonished by the general answer.

IX. I close as I began with the statement that what an immense majority of the Loyal Millions of your countrymen require of you is a frank, declared, unqualified, ungrudging execution of the laws of the land, more especially of the Confiscation Act. That Act gives freedom to the slaves of Rebels coming within our lines, or whom those lines may at any time inclose–we ask you to render it due obedience by publicly requiring all your subordinates to recognize and obey it. The rebels are everywhere using the late anti-negro riots in the North, as they have long used your officers’ treatment of Negroes in the South, to convince the slaves that they have nothing to hope from a Union success-that we mean in that case to sell them into a bitter bondage to defray the cost of war. Let them impress this as a truth on the great mass of their ignorant and credulous bondsmen, and the Union will never be restored-never. We cannot conquer Ten Millions of People united in solid phalanx against us, powerfully aided by the Northern sympathizers and European allies. We must have scouts, guides, spies, cooks, teamsters, diggers and choppers from the Blacks of the South, whether we allow them to fight for us or not, or we shall be baffled and repelled. As one of the millions who would gladly have avoided this struggle at any sacrifice but that Principle and Honor, but who now feel that the triumph of the Union is dispensable not only to the existence of our country to the well being of mankind, I entreat you to render a hearty and unequivocal obedience to the law of the land.


Horace Greeley

New York, August 19, 1862

Let Slip the Dogs of War~August 16th to 21st, 1862

The slavery question takes national prominence yet again as Horace Greeley, 51 years old, founding editor the New York Tribune, reformer and long-time opponent of slavery, publishes his passionate “Prayer of the Twenty Millions” in which he encourages Lincoln to take immediate action to abolish slavery.

Women continue to make outstanding efforts to provide nursing and encouragement for recruitment. While the Lincoln Administration has so far successfully avoided war with Great Britain, war erupts on another front as the Sioux Nations in Minnesota rise in revolt against the indifference and neglect of government agents and commercial traders. George Templeton Strong and Elisha Hunt Rhodes despair of General McClellan’s leadership.

Walt Whitman’s brother George writes to his mother, describing the August 9th inconclusive battle at Cedar Mountain, Virginia, in glowing terms as a Yankee victory. He relishes telling about the soldiers’ success in foraging at the expense of Virginia farmers.

Elsewhere in the world a Canadian pioneer and the mother of Chilean independence die. In the cosmopolitan city of Vienna a grand park opens to the public.


Cartoon depicting Civil War nurses as patriotic heroes


August 16– Saturday– New York City– The New York Times praises the war efforts made by the Woman’s Central Association which has, among other things, trained nurses, noting that “the women who first assumed the untried part of military nurses under their supervision retain their positions still. Ninety-one responsible nurses have been trained by them and are, for the most part, at present actively employed, sustaining thus far reputations for substantial efficiency.”

August 16– Saturday– various battle fronts– Federal and Confederate troops skirmish at locations in Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia

August 17– Sunday– Litchfield, Minnesota– Four Sioux warriors kill five settlers near here. This is the first incident in what will be called the “Sioux Uprising.” Resentment among the Sioux has been festering for weeks as promised payments of cash and food to be made by the United States government have not arrived. Traders refuse to sell provisions on credit to the Sioux. Andrew Myrick, a spokesman for the traders, said, “So far as I am concerned, if they are hungry, let them eat grass.”

August 17– Sunday– near Cedar Mountain, Virginia– George Washington Whitman writes home to his mother with a distinctly Yankee look at recent fighting against Stonewall Jackson and a view of foraging. “When we arrived here the fight was over and old Stonewall had skedadled back in the mountains, pretty badly licked too, as near as I can find out. This is as handsome a country as I ever saw, we find plenty of forage in the shape of Beef, Chickens, eggs, potatoes, and the way the cattle and sheep have suffered since we have been here is a caution to secesh farmers. Some of our boys go to a house where there is a sheep dog, take the dog and make him catch as many sheep as they want, and bring them in and cook them, and you may be sure the Yankees get some tall cussing from the farmers.”

August 18– Monday– Orange County, Virginia– William Baylor, serving under General Stonewall Jackson, writes home to his wife, Mary Baylor. “We are no doubt preparing for an important movement– 3 days rations to be put into Haversacks– the enemy are not very far off – but we believe have fallen back. May God give us a great victory & preserve me to you & my child – I am in command of the Brigade – feel my inability for such a responsible position & rely only on heaven for wisdom & strength in the discharge of my Duties.”

Sioux warriors fighting in Minnesota, August, 1862

August 18– Monday– Redwood Ferry, Minnesota– Twenty-seven Federal soldiers die in a fight with Sioux warriors.

Simon Fraser, Canadian explorer

August 18– Monday– St Andrew West, Canada–Simon Fraser, fur-trader and first non-indigenous explorer of what became the province of British Columbia, dies at age 86.

August 19–Tuesday– New York City–With an impassioned editorial of about 2200 words in today’s Tribune, Horace Greeley writes as an open letter to President Lincoln, encouraging the president to emancipate all slaves. Near the end of the piece, Greeley declares, “On the face of this wide earth, Mr. President, there is not one disinterested, determined, intelligent champion of the Union cause who does not feel that all attempts to put down the Rebellion and at the same time uphold its inciting cause are preposterous and futile–that the Rebellion, if crushed out tomorrow, would be renewed within a year if Slavery were left in full vigor–that Army officers who remain to this day devoted to Slavery can at best be but half-way loyal to the Union–and that every hour of deference to Slavery is an hour of added and deepened peril to the Union, I appeal to the testimony of your Ambassadors in Europe. It is freely at your service, not at mine. Ask them to tell you candidly whether the seeming subserviency of your policy to the slaveholding, slavery-upholding interest, is not the perplexity, the despair of statesmen of all parties, and be admonished by the general answer. I close as I began with the statement that what an immense majority of the Loyal Millions of your countrymen require of you is a frank, declared, unqualified, ungrudging execution of the laws of the land.”

Horace Greeley

August 19– New York City– George Templeton Strong confides to the pages of his diary his opinion of the war effort. “McClellan has gloriously evacuated Harrison’s Landing and got safe back to where he was months ago. Magnificent strategy. Pity it has lost so many thousand men and millions of dollars. . . . McClellan stock is falling fearfully. He is held accountable for the thousands of lives expended without result in digging trenches in the Chickahominy swamp and on the James River.”

August 20– Wednesday– Fort Ridgely, Minnesota– Soldiers and settlers repel an attack by Sioux fighters.

August 20– Wednesday– Canandaigua, New York– Caroline Cowles Richards, age 19, notes in her diary the organization of a new regiment. “The 126th Regiment, just organized, was mustered into service at Camp Swift, Geneva. . . . [regimental surgeon] Dr. Hoyt wrote home: ‘God bless the dear ones we leave behind; and while you try to perform the duties you owe to each other, we will try to perform ours.’ We saw by the papers that the volunteers of the regiment before leaving camp at Geneva allotted over $15,000 of their monthly pay to their families and friends at home. One soldier sent this telegram to his wife, as the regiment started for the front: ‘God bless you. Hail Columbia. Kiss the baby. Write soon.’ A volume in ten words.”

August 20– Wednesday– near Yorktown, Virginia– Union soldier Elisha Hunt Rhodes confides to his journal. “I am well but do not like the appearance of things. We are moving in the wrong direction it seems to me.”

Javiera Carrera, Mother of independent Chile

August 20– Wednesday– Santiago, Chile– Francisca Xaviera Eudoxia Rudecinda Carmen de los Dolores de la Carrera y Verdugo, better known as Javiera Carrera, dies at age 81. Born into one of the most aristocratic Chilean families, she actively participated in the War of Independence against Spain. Together with her three brothers, she was one of most important leaders of the early struggle for freedom and is credited with having sewn the first national flag of Chile. Mourners take to the streets, hailing her as the “Mother of Chile”.


August 21– Thursday– Baton Rouge, Louisiana– Federal troops withdraw from the city.

August 21– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– President Jeff Davis issues a proclamation that if captured, Union generals David Hunter and John Phelps are to be treated not as prisoners of war but as felons for using slaves against the Confederacy.

August 21– Thursday– Vienna, Austria– The first public park in the city, the Stadtpark, opens its gates.

A section of modern Stadtpark

Let Slip the Dogs of War~August 12th to 15th, 1862

African Americans remain at the heart of political and military affairs. In Washington, President Lincoln meets with a delegation of free black people and encourages emigration. In New Orleans the French Counsel tells Union General Butler that French nationals in the city have a right to keep and bear arms to protect themselves from possible slave insurrection.

Some in Lincoln’s Cabinet and in the armed services express doubts about the abilities of General McClellan. A riverboat accident kills wounded soldiers. Robert Gould Shaw laments the deaths of friends and desires to do serious harm to the rebels.

August 12– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Secretary of the Navy Welles nots in his diary his skepticism of General McClellan’s abilities. “Had a private letter from Commodore Wilkes, who deplores recent orders in regard to the army under McClellan; thinks it suicidal. I fear there is truth in his apprehensions.”

Heavy artillery

August 12– Tuesday– New Orleans, Louisiana– The French Consul responds to a recent order by General Ben Butler. “The new order of the day, which has been published this morning, and by which you require that all and whatever arms which may be in the possession of the people of this city must be delivered up, has caused the most serious alarm among the French subjects of New Orleans. Foreigners, Sir, and particularly Frenchmen, have, notwithstanding the accusations brought against them by certain persons, sacrificed everything to maintain, during the actual conflict, the neutrality imposed upon them. When arms were delivered them by the municipal authorities, they only used them to maintain order and defend personal property, and those arms have since been almost all returned. And it now appears, according to the tenor of your order of to-day, that French subjects, as well as citizens, are required to surrender their personal arms, which could only be used in self-defense. For some time past unmistakable signs have manifested themselves among the servile population of the city and surrounding country of their intention to break the bonds which bind them to their masters, and many persons apprehend an actual revolt. It is these signs, this prospect of finding ourselves completely unarmed, in the presence of a population from which the greatest excesses are feared, that we are above all things justly alarmed; for the result of such a state of things would fall on all alike who were left without the means of self-defense.”

Period steamboat

August 13– Wednesday– Potomac River, near Washington, D.C.– Two Union steamers, the George Peabody and the West Point, collide, killing 73 men, most of them wounded soldiers in transit.


Robert Gould Shaw


August 13– Wednesday– Culpepper Court House, Virginia– Robert Gould Shaw writes to his cousin Annie about Union killed and wounded. About his friend Richard Cary, whose body he found, he says, “The expression of his face was as sweet and happy as an angel’s and my first feeling was that I wanted to stoop down & kiss him.” About his own and others growing accustomed to so many dead, he say, “It is only at odd times that we realize what a fearful thing it is to see 100 or 200 men, whom we have lived in the midst of, for more than a year, killed in a few moments. I long for the day when we shall attack the Rebels with an overwhelming force and annihilate them. May I live long enough to see them running before us hacked to little pieces.”

August 14– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln meets with a delegation of free black persons at the White House. In his remarks, the President acknowledges the wrongs done to African peoples by slavery. “I need not recount to you the effects upon white men, growing out of the institution of Slavery. I believe in its general evil effects on the white race. See our present condition—the country engaged in war!— our white men cutting one another’s throats, none knowing how far it will extend.” However, Mr Lincoln notes, “There is an unwillingness on the part of our people, harsh as it may be, for you free colored people to remain with us.” In consequence of this, the President encourages the creation of a colony for free black people. “The place I am thinking about having for a colony is in Central America. It is nearer to us than Liberia—not much more than one-fourth as far as Liberia, and within seven days’ run by steamers. Unlike Liberia it is on a great line of travel— it is a highway. The country is a very excellent one for any people, and with great natural resources and advantages, and especially because of the similarity of climate with your native land— thus being suited to your physical condition.” He asks them to consider the idea and report back to him.

Period cartoon showing Lincoln as a patriot, rallying support for the Union cause

August 14– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– Government clerk John Jones boasts in his diary. “Lee has gone up the country to command in person. Now let Lincoln beware, for there is danger. A mighty army, such as Napoleon himself would have been proud to command, is approaching his capital.This is the triumph Lee has been providing for, while the nations of theearth are hesitating whether or not to recognize our independence.”

August 14– Thursday– New Orleans, Louisiana– Union General Butler responds to the French Consul’s letter of two days ago. “Surely the representative of the Emperor, who does not tolerate Slavery in France, does not desire his countrymen to be armed for the purpose of preventing the Negroes from breaking their bonds. Let me assure you that the protection of the United States against violence, either by Negroes or white men, whether citizens or foreign, will continue to be as perfect as it bas been since our advent here, and by far more manifesting itself at all moments and everywhere than any improvised citizens’ organization can do.”

The constant question raised by the abolitionists

Let Slip the Dogs of War~August 8th to 11th, 1862

While President Lincoln takes steps of questionable constitutionality, abolitionists make new calls for the use of black troops. The opposing forces fight a fearsome battle in Virginia and in Alabama rebel snipers put Federal troops at risk and they in turn put Southern clergy in harm’s way.

The government of Her Britannic Majesty asserts that its official position is one of strict neutrality. A Canadian asserts that Canada has a measure of independence from Britain. In France a young actress and singer makes her debut.

The Liberator, abolitionist newpaper founded by William Lloyd Garrison

August 8– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– The Liberator carries a number of articles about various efforts to raise units of black men to serve. Among other items, a delegation has met with President Lincoln to “ascertain if he would accept the services of Negro regiments” but the President declined. Another article says that Colonel Lyman Dyke, of Stoneham, Massachusetts, has tendered his services without pay, “to organize, fit and drill for the field, a regiment of colored men in Massachusetts, if Governor Andrew shall see fit” to authorize such a regiment.

August 8– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln issues an executive order which declares “that until further order no citizen liable to be drafted into the militia shall be allowed to go to a foreign country.” Furthermore, he orders that the “writ of habeas corpus is hereby suspended in respect to all persons so arrested and detained, and in respect to all persons arrested for disloyal practices.”


Drummer boys, typical of both armies

August 8– Friday– Huntsville, Alabama– Federal troops have occupied the town since early April. In response to Confederate snipers firing randomly into passing railroad cars, Union soldiers arrest a number of local ministers and church leaders known to support the Confederacy. Federal authorities announce that one of these churchmen shall ride the train each day

August 8– Friday– London, England– In a speech at an important political banquet Lord Palmerston declares that Her Majesty’s Government intends to preserve “a strict and rigid neutrality” in regard to the war in the United States.

Lord Palmerston, 1855

August 9– Saturday– New York City– The New York Times reprints a British proclamation issued five months ago in regard to British neutrality and enforcement against both American parties with regard to the Bahamas. In a key section the proclamation orders that “No ship-of-war or privateer of either belligerent shall hereafter be permitted, while in any port, roadstead or waters, subject to the territorial jurisdiction of Her Majesty, to take in any supplies, except provisions and such other things as may be requisite for the subsistence of her crew; and except so much coal only as may be sufficient to carry such vessel to the nearest port of her own country, or to some nearer destination; and no coal shall be again supplied to any such ship-of-war or privateer, in the same or any other port, roadstead or waters, subject to the territorial jurisdiction of Her Majesty.”

Battle of Cedar Mountain

August 9– Saturday– Cedar Mountain, Virginia– Soldiers from both armies tangle in a bloody battle, under poor leadership on both sides, and fail to make significant gains for either cause. Confederate losses total 1341 killed, wounded or missing while the Union casualties amount to 2381 dead, wounded or missing.

August 9– Saturday– Baden-Baden, Germany– Beatrice et Benedict, an opera by Hector Berlioz based on Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing, debuts in the Theater der Stadt to an appreciative audience.

Hector Berlioz

August 10– Sunday– Culpepper, Virginia– Union soldier William Kindig writes to his friend Henry Bitner, a school teacher in Pennsylvania. “When we came within a mile and a half of the battle ground, our brigade was halted; our regiment received its mail here, and we fell to reading letters by candlelight; this drew the fire of a rebel battery, and some half dozen solid shot fell right in among us, wounding four men of our regiment. . . . then . . . [they] opened out again with the purpose of ascertaining our position as well as of the rest of the large number of McDowell’s corps which had silently advanced under cover of the dark, but they fired far above our heads, and we lay listening to the loud and crashing roar of the dogs of war in perfect safety. presently the battery belonging to our brigade let loose upon the one which fired into the 107th and silenced it.”

August 10– Sunday– Richmond, Virginia– John Jones gleefully writes of General Jackson’s recent victory at Cedar Mountain. “Jackson struck Pope yesterday! It was a terrible blow, for the numbers engaged. Several thousand of the enemy were killed, wounded, and taken prisoners. Among the latter is Gen. Prince, who arrived inthis city this morning. He affected to be ignorant of Pope’s brutal orders, and of the President’s retaliatory order concerning the commissioned officers of Pope’s army taken in battle. When Prince was informed that he and the fifty or sixty others taken with him were not to be treated as prisoners of war, but as felons, he vented his execrations upon Pope. They were sent into close confinement.”

August 10– Sunday– various battle fronts– Even though it is Sunday, skirmishing occurs in a number of locations in Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

August 11– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, notes in his diary, “We are not, it is true, in a condition for war with Great Britain just at this time, but England is in scarcely a better condition for a war with us. At all events, continued and degrading submission to aggressive insolence will not promote harmony nor self-respect.”

August 11– Monday– near Culpepper, Virginia– Robert Gould Shaw describes recent fighting in a letter to his father. “We had a hard fight day before yesterday. . . . The loss from the Second Massachusetts is one hundred and ninety. Of those, one hundred and thirty or forty are known to be killed and wounded. Give my best to Mother and the rest. I can’t conceive how I could have got through it without a scratch.” Shaw is only one of 7 officers to escape death or injury. Sixteen officers were killed or wounded.

August 11– Monday– Corinth, Mississippi– The Union General Ulysses Grant orders that fugitive slaves coming into his lines are not to be sent back and are to be employed where suitable.

Popular sheet music by Ms Jacobs Bond

August 11– Monday– Janesville, Wisconsin– Birth of Carrie Jacobs Bond, singer, songwriter and pianist. She will become one of the first, if not the first, American woman to sell one million copies of the sheet music for one of her songs.

August 11– Monday– Rockville, New York– A reader signing only as “A Rockville Canadian” writes a letter to the editor of The New York Times, taking the paper to task for a recent article about relations between England and Canada. “It would seem from the tenor of your article . . . on Canada, that you are not fully aware of the relations of that country with Great Britain at the present time. The connection between Canada and the mother country have undergone most important alterations within the last thirteen years. The people of Canada now make their own laws through their House of Assembly, frame their own tariff, and collect their own revenue, and without any reference whatever to the Parliament or people of Great Britain.”

August 11– Monday– Paris, France– Sarah Bernhardt, two and a half months away from her 18th birthday, has her stage debut at Comedie Francaise.

Sarah Bernhardt, c.1865

Let Slip the Dogs of War~August 1st to 7th, 1862

“‘Cry ‘Havoc!’, and let slip the dogs of war.”/wiki/DogJulius Caesar, Act 3, Scene I, by William Shakespeare.

In the dog days of August, 1862, the havoc of war seems everywhere in the divided United States.

Over 4500 soldiers, some in blue, others in grey, are killed.. More than 20,000 are wounded. This averages over 145 dead and 645 wounded for each day of the month. Fighting, ranging from large scale battles to skirmishing, occurs in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, New Mexico Territory and the yet unadmitted new state of West Virginia.

Whether the Lincoln Administration wants to deal with it or not, the slavery question keeps demanding an answer. The destiny of free black people remains uncertain as some white people encourage emigration to Africa or South America.

Tensions continue to simmer between Great Britain and the United States. Among other things, British merchants continue to attempt to sell arms to the Confederacy and there are public expressions of support in England for the rebels.

Responding to complaints from General McClellan and others President Lincoln orders a draft, a move supported by New Englanders like Elisha Hunt Rhodes. Robert Gould Shaw expresses support for the use of black troops. German immigrants respond well to the draft. A Maryland woman from a prominent political family publicly encourages enlistment in the Union Army.

In Brooklyn, New York, a white mob attacks black workers. In Europe a deformed man who will become a circus sideshow, another man who will become part of a group of famous literati and a princess enter the world.


John S. Rock, Esq.

August 1– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– At a celebration in honor of the 1834 abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire which took effect on August 1st, African Americans John S. Rock, William Wells Brown and Reverend J. Sella Martin deliver speeches.

August 2– Saturday– various battle fronts– Skirmishing between Union and Confederate forces occurs in scattered locations in Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri and Virginia.

Union dead, August, 1862

August 2– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– Secretary of State Seward sends instructions to Minister Charles Francis Adams to neither receive nor discuss any offers of mediation by Great Britain.

August 3– Sunday– Washington, Virginia [along the Rappahannock]– Robert Gould Shaw writes to his father. “About having Negroes in the present white regiments, I think the men would object to it very strongly at first, but they would get accustomed to it in time. I infer this from the fact that soldiers in our regiments who are acting as officers, servants, make no objection to living and sleeping in the same tent with black servants. Still, there would undoubtedly be great dissatisfaction, if we should enlist blacks and put them into the volunteer regiments now.”

August 3– Sunday– Harrison’s Landing, Virginia– Elisha Hunt Rhodes writes of the need for soldiers. “We are looking for recruits, but so far in vain. If men are not patriotic enough to volunteer to save the country I hope a draft will be ordered.”

August 3–Sunday–Off the Bahamas–In international waters a U S warship captures the British merchant the Columbia, loaded with twelve canon and thousands of rifles with plenty of ammunition for the Confederacy, clearly in violation of Britain’s declared neutrality and the arms embargo.

August 4– Monday– Brooklyn, New York– A mob of white men, mostly Irish immigrants, attacks a factory where most of the workers are black women and children. The New York Times describes it as “one of the most atrocious riots of modern times” in which 400 or more men “assaulted a factory where twenty peaceable colored persons, mostly women and children were at work, attempted to butcher them in cold blood, and subsequently actually set fire to the building with the intent of burning the helpless Negroes to death. It was only by the most superhuman exertions of the Police that the lives of the victims were saved, the mob dispersed, and the ringleaders arrested. The assault was entirely unprovoked — in fact, it was merely because the assaulted parties were Negroes.” The paper asks “Do they think to aid the cause of Jeff. Davis, by diverting part of the National strength for the preservation of order at home?”

August 4– Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln issues an executive order for “a draft of 300,000 militia [to] be immediately called into the service of the United States, to serve for nine months unless sooner discharged. The Secretary of War will assign the quotas to the States and establish regulations for the draft.”

August 4– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– Government clerk John Jones writes in his diary that “Lee is making herculean efforts for an ‘on to Washington,’ while the enemy think he merely designs a defense of Richmond. Troopsare on the move, all the way from Florida to Gordonsville [Virginia].”

August 4– Monday– New Orleans, Louisiana– Union General Ben Butler assesses known supporters of the Confederacy fines which total $341,916 to provide for the poor and indigent of the city.

Joseph Merrick–c.1889

August 5–Tuesday–Leicester, England–Birth of Joseph Merrick, who will become known as “The Elephant Man” because of his physical deformity.

August 5– Tuesday– Baltimore, Maryland– Anna Ella Carroll, who has been involved in politics for a decade, is a secret advisor to President Lincoln and whose grandfather Charles Carroll signed the Declaration, writes “A Woman’s Appeal to the Men of Maryland” to encourage men to enlist in the Union Army. Now age 47 she has worked as a legal assistant to her lawyer father since age 12 and has written speeches and political broadsides for various candidates. In her “Appeal” she writes, “The President, by his modification of the Confiscation bill, and the proclamation and military orders, which have followed, has placed the Government of the country in marked antagonism to the Abolition party, its purposes and designs. Whether it continues so antagonized, depends now entirely on the action of the Border States. If they will in good faith sustain the Government in its efforts to put an end to the rebellion, they can save the Union and all their rights; including that to the labor and service of the African. But, if the Border States now falter, they become the virtual allies of the Abolitionists, and the country will be forever lost.” in conclusion, she exhorts, “Let every son and every daughter resolve upon one united effort now, to do their part heroically to save the most beneficent and glorious Government the world has ever known.” Numerous newspapers will print her “Appeal,” including the New York Times.

Anna Ella Carroll

August 5– Tuesday– Baton Rouge, Louisiana– In a morning of heavy fighting, Union forces repel a Confederate attack, suffering total casualties of 383 killed, wounded or missing while the attacking rebels lose 456 dead, injured or missing. Union General Thomas Williams, 47 years old, a career army officer, commanding the Federal troops, is killed by a gunshot wound to the chest.

Damaged buildings after the battle at Baton Rouge

August 6– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– At a public meeting to encourage enlistments, President Lincoln puts in an impromptu appearance. “I believe there is no precedent for my appearing before you on this occasion, but it is also true that there is no precedent for your being here yourselves, and I offer in justification of myself and of you that, upon examination, I have found nothing in the Constitution against it. I, however, have an impression that; there are younger gentlemen who will entertain you better and better address your understanding than I will or could.” He goes on to dispel rumors of conflict between General McClellan and Secretary of War Stanton. He concludes by saying, “I have talked longer than I expected to do, and now I avail myself of my privilege of saying no more.”

August 6– Wednesday– London, England– Birth of Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, historian, educator and peace activist who will become one of intellectuals of the Bloomsbury Group.

Some members of the Bloomsbury Group

August 7– Thursday– New York City– George Templeton Strong writes about an excellent dinner. “Dined at Maison Doree . . . Martinez, the proprietor . . . insisted on getting up a little artistic recherche dinner for us of his own devising. Very pretty little dinner it was, and full of elegant but surprising effects, and the bill was unquestionably reasonable.”

August 7– Thursday– New York City– The New York Times reports the response of German immigrants to President Lincoln’s call for more troops by means of a draft. “Upon no class of our fellow-citizens has the draft produced a livelier effect than upon the Germans of this City and neighborhood. The German papers, one and all, approve of the measure, only wishing that it had been adopted long ago, before the armed force of the rebellion had acquired such de- velopment. The radical German papers do not let slip the occasion to urge that the President shall at once give to the war the utmost latitude of operation in reference to freeing and arming the slaves in the South.”

August 7– Thursday– Blackburn, England– A public meeting expresses support for the Confederacy.

August 7– Thursday– Karlsruhe, Baden– Birth of Princess Sophia Maria Victoria who will marry Crown Prince Gustaf of Sweden and become Queen Victoria of Sweden when her husband ascends the throne as King Gustaf V in 1907.

Sweden’s Queen Victoria, c.1910