Somber and Surly~November, 1862~the 6th to the 10th

Irregardless of the changing season, fighting continues on many fronts. Union soldiers in Virginia describe cold weather and war-torn countryside. Tragedies such as steamboat accidents and building fires do not cease because of the war but seem yet more stark. City officials inquire about the safety of petroleum storage and sale. Reports come of a continuing buildup of British troops in Canada almost a year after the Trent affair while one English admiral sends Her Majesty’s cruisers in pursuit of the CSS Alabama.

President Lincoln decides to relieve the controversial General Ben Butler of his command while General Burnside takes McClellan’s place. After an attack on Sioux prisoners in Minnesota the President decides to review the convictions of the Indians sentenced to death. Mary Todd Lincoln is feted during a visit to Boston. Personal and public debate continues about the Emancipation Proclamation.


November 6– Thursday– New York City– The New York Times carries a report from Montreal, Canada, about Canadian concerns about and preparations for a possible war between Britain and the United States. The reporter in Montreal writes that “An uneasy feeling has prevailed in this city for some time; an undefined apprehension that Britain is on the eve of a contest with the United States, in which, of course, Canada would be involved. The daily steamers from Quebec have been quietly bringing up shot, and of late shell and a number of Armstrong guns, and on the 1st instant, we were startled by the announcement that the Ariadne, one of the finest frigates in the British navy, had passed Father Point on her way to Quebec, where she is now lying. The Ariadne, it seems, has brought up two troops of artillery and a quantity of stores. It is now said that a regiment from Halifax is coming into Canada, and that at least 10,000 men will be concentrated in this city during the Winter.” In the same edition, the paper reports, with great satisfaction, that because the CSS Alabama destroyed property belonging to an English merchant firm, “the British Consul in this City, we are informed, immediately took steps to represent these transactions most forcibly to Admiral Milne, commanding Her Britannic Majesty’s squadron in the American waters. The Admiral, upon receiving the representations of the Consul, forthwith ordered three British men-of-war in pursuit of the Alabama, with orders, as we understand, to overhaul that vessel of wrath, and convey her to some British port, where her violations of international law may be judicially inquired into.”

HMS Warrior, built in 1861 as Britain strengthened the navy

November 6– Thursday– Ste Genevieve, Missouri– Early in the morning, a steamboat about ten miles above the town on the Mississippi River runs aground and one of it boilers explodes, killing several people including a Union cavalry officer. An unknown number of persons are also injured.

November 7– Friday– New York City– Aldermen hold a public hearing on whether or not more stringent regulations are needed for the storage and sale of petroleum products within the city. Merchants assert that such regulations are not necessary, their products are safe and more regulation would increase the price of items like kerosene for household lighting.

November 7– Friday– General Ambrose Burnside assumes command of the Union Army of the Potomac in place of General McClellan.

General Ambrose Burnside

November 8– Saturday– Buffalo, New York– Birth of Nettie Rogers Shuler, suffragist, journalist and clubwoman.

November 8– Saturday– New York City– The New York Times quotes an opinion article from a Buffalo newspaper regarding the Emancipation Proclamation, which sees it not as executive order nor proposed legislation nor an abolitionist issue but only one of military necessity.”We fail . . . to discover any justification of opposition to the Emancipation act at the North. It is and of necessity can be nothing but a military expedient toward crushing out the rebellion. As such, we deem it in every point of view equally as justifiable as any other military act that could be devised. As a principle, it would be unjustifiable in the extreme, as an expedient, it should receive the cooperation and approval of every loyal citizen.”

November 8– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– Concerned about the conduct of General Ben Butler in New Orleans, President Lincoln decides to relieve Butler of his command and replace him with General Nathaniel Banks. The orders he issues to Banks make clear that the President “regards the opening of the Mississippi River as the first and most important of our military and naval operations.”

General Nathaniel Banks

November 8– Saturday– White Plains, Virginia– Elisha Hunt Rhodes complains to his diary. “How I would like to have some of those ‘On to Richmond’ fellows out here with us in the snow. The ground is white with snow, and it is too cold to write. This morning we found ourselves covered with snow that had fallen during the night.”

November 8– Saturday– New Orleans, Louisiana– General Butler orders the closure of all distilleries and breweries in the territory under his command.

November 9– Sunday– Brooklyn, New York– About 2:30 in the morning a fire breaks out in the Roman Catholic boys orphan asylum. The fire completely destroys the five story building, only erected six years ago, and kills two youngsters. All of the staff and the other 246 boys escape unharmed.

November 9– Mankato, Minnesota– The 303 Sioux condemned to death for participating in the summer uprising are moved from the Lower Agency to Camp Lincoln, near here. While passing through New Ulm, the captives are attacked by an angry mob of settlers. A few of the Sioux are killed and many are injured. Meanwhile, about 1700 Sioux, over half of them women and children and most of them uninvolved in the uprising, are moved to Fort Snelling, near St. Paul.

November 9– Sunday– Linwood, Louisiana– Sarah Morgan writes about her servants. ” To think old Abe wants to deprive us of all that fun! No more cotton, sugar-cane, or rice! No more old black aunties or uncles! No more rides in mule teams, no more songs in the cane-field, no more steaming kettles, no more black faces and shining teeth around the furnace fires! If Lincoln could spend the grinding season on a plantation, he would recall his proclamation. As it is, he has only proved himself a fool, without injuring us. . . . Poor oppressed devils! Why did you not chunk us with the burning logs instead of looking happy, and laughing like fools? Really, some good old Abolitionist is needed here, to tell them how miserable they are. Can’t Mass’ Abe spare a few to enlighten his brethren?”

Sarah Morgan

November 9– Sunday– Greenbrier County, Virginia– Dry Wood, Missouri– Boston Mountains, Arkansas– Lebanon, Tennessee– Skirmishing, ambushes and firefights occur between Union and Confederate forces in these places and at least five others.

November 10– Monday– Boston, Massachusetts– In the evening Mary Todd Lincoln, in the city to visit her son who is attending Harvard, receives Governor John Andrew and his wife Eliza Jane Hersey Andrew, Senator Charles Sumner, the author and reformer Julia Ward Howe, and Jean L. Agassiz, professor of natural history at Harvard.

Julia Ward Howe, 1861

November 10– Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln writes to General Pope in Minnesota and asks him to forward to the White House “the full and complete record” of the 300 Sioux convicted by the military tribunals. He directs General Pope to make sure the records indicate “the more guilty and influential of the culprits.”

November 10– Monday– Green Bay, Wisconsin–The Chicago and North Western Railway reaches here with service.

George Whitman

November 10– Monday– Jefferson, Virginia– George Whitman writes to his mother. “The Villages we have passed through are the most God forsaken places I ever saw, the people seem to have next to nothing to eat as the men have all gone in the Secesh army, and how they are going to get through the winter I don’t know. We have not seen a paper since we came into Va and we cant find out what the rest of the army is doing, or how the New York election went, so you see we are a long way behind the age.”

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