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

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