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

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