Somber and Surly~November, 1862~the 11th to the 17th

Various parties and governments in Europe respond both to the Emancipation Proclamation and the results of the recent American elections. French military presence increases in Mexico. However, they discover the reality of “Montezuma’s revenge” as many soldiers sicken.

President Lincoln puts power into the Confiscation, authorizing the forceful seizure of Southern property which includes slaves. Also, he directs the armed forces to make careful observation of the Sabbath and receives requests not to show any clemency to the Sioux in Minnesota for the attacks of the past summer.

Northerners fuss and fume about the results of the elections. New reports appear about the outrages of the raider CSS Alabama, serving to increase anti-British sentiment in the North.


November 11– Tuesday– Easton, Pennsylvania– James Madison Porter who served one year as Secretary of War under President Tyler and was a professor and founder of Lafayette College, dies at age 69.

November 11– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln passes to Secretary of War Stanton a telegram which he received from Governor Alexander Ramsey of Minnesota. With hope of dissuading the President from clemency toward any of the Sioux, the Governor wrote, “I hope the execution of every Sioux condemned by the military court will be at once ordered. It would be wrong upon principle and policy to refuse this. Private revenge would on all this border take the place of official judgment on these Indians.” The President also receives a telegram from General Pope urging prompt execution of all the convicted Sioux. Pope warns the President that “if the guilty are not all executed I think it nearly impossible to prefvent the indiscriminate massacre of all the Indians– old men, women, and children.”

Governor Alexander Ramsey of Minnesota

November 11– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– Confederate President Jeff Davis writes to Governor Zebulon Vance of North Carolina. “I have been cheered by the evidence of popular sentiment which supports any measure necessary to protect our country and secure our political independence. Like yourself, I have hoped that party distinctions which existed at a former time would be buried in the graves of the gallant men who have fallen in defense of their birthright, and that we should all as a band of brothers strike for the inheritance our fathers left us.”

November 12– Wednesday– Vera Cruz, Mexico– A correspondent for a Cuban newspaper describes increasing French activity. “French troops are continually landing, and the number now exceeds 36,000 outside the walls of this city. Since the beginning of this month, more than 8,000 have been encamped. Many of them, who have been attacked with intermittent fever, are leaving continually for the hospitals. . . . . General Forey, when he left here for Orizaba, took with him 800 infantry and an escort of hussars. He left a portion of them sick at Tejena and at Cordova, and at last arrived at Orizaba with only three hundred men. Conceive what it must be here, with so many thousand men, who expose themselves to the sun, are negligent about the water, and indulge in drinking.”

November 12– Wednesday– London, England– Her Majesty’s Government declines the offer of Emperor Napoleon III to help mediate the civil war in the United States.

November 12– Wednesday– Invercargill, New Zealand– The Invercargill Times publishes its first issue. [It will change its name to The Southland Times in 1864 and become a daily in 1875. It will continue to publish into the 21st century.]

November 13– Thursday– New York City– George Templeton Strong frets and writes in his diary. “The war languishes. We are slowly invading Virginia, but there is nothing decisive or vigorous done there or elsewhere. I’ve a dim foreboding of a coming time when we shall think of the war . . . as a terrible, crushing, personal calamity to every one of us; . . . the wives and daughters of contractors shall cease to crowd Stewart’s and Tiffany’s, . . . . Much of the moral guilt of this terrible, murderous convulsion lies at our doors. South Carolina would never have dared to secede but for our toadyism, our disposition to uphold and justify the wickedness of Southern institutions.”

George Templeton Strong whose diaries provide much information about Northern life during the Civil War

November 13– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln issues an executive order to provide necessary force to carry out the provisions of the Confiscation Act to seize property of any sort belonging to rebels, wherever situated. “The Attorney-General is authorized and required to give to the attorneys and marshals of the United States such instructions and directions as he may find needful and convenient touching all such seizures, prosecutions, and condemnations, and, moreover, to authorize all such attorneys and marshals, whenever there may be reasonable ground to fear any forcible resistance to them in the discharge of their respective duties in this behalf, to call upon any military officer in command of the forces of the United States to give to them such aid, protection, and support as may be necessary.”

Edward Bates who served as Lincoln’s Attorney General

November 13– Thursday– Tubingen, Germany– Ludwig Uhland, poet and literary historian whose 1812 treatise marks him as one of the founders of philology, dies at the age of 75.

November 14– Friday– Sharpsburg, Maryland– Robert Gould Shaw writes to his father. “So General McClellan has been removed at last! I think every one in the army regrets it, excepting, perhaps, some envious major-generals. What Burnside has ever done to merit the position, I can’t see. All is quiet here . . . . I think Professor Cairne’s book is wonderful for its clearness and sagacity. What a comfort it is . . . to feel that there are some men in England who understand the matter.” [The book is The Slave Power: Its Character, Career, and Probable Designs: Being an Attempt to Explain the Real Issues in the American Contest by the English abolitionist John Elliot Cairnes, published a few months ago.]

Robert Gould Shaw~”Blue-eyed Child of Fortune”

November 14– Friday– Paris, France– A correspondent for the New York Times evaluates the French Emperor’s offer to mediate an end to the Civil War. “The document avows that the present time was seized for the offer of an armistice, because of the manifestation of a desire for peace both North andSouth, and because neither army was making any progress. We do not pretend to know from what source the French Government derived this intelligence, for the only place in which we have seen anything of the kind was in the columns of the Slavery Press of Paris and London; but it is safe to say, nevertheless, that to the Democratic Party of the North is due this lame and foolish attempt at intervention in American affairs . . . there has been no spectacle more pitiable than that offered by a portion of the American people, thus inviting, by their conduct, the intervention of foreign Nations in their internal affairs.”

November 15– Saturday– New York City– The New York Times reports on European response to the Emancipation Proclamation. “We are permitted to make the following extract from a letter from our Consul-General at Frankfort-on-the-Maine, in Germany, to a high official of our City . . . ‘The Emancipation Proclamation gives very general satisfaction. It has increased the value of American securities held here, and likewise made us hosts of friends.’ When we consider that Frankfort is the chief financial center of Germany, as New-York is of our own country, the importance of the fact above stated cannot be over-estimated. It shows how that great act of the President is viewed by impartial minds in a city where aristocratic and absolutist jealousies have not the power which they exert in England and France, and at a distance from all influences of party and passion, which blind so many here, and which enable falsehood, in the interest of treason, to obtain so strong a foothold among us.”

November 15– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln issues an executive order regarding observance of the Sabbath by the military. “The President, Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, desires and enjoins the orderly observance of the Sabbath by the officers and men in the military and naval service. The importance for man and beast of the prescribed weekly rest, the sacred rights of Christian soldiers and sailors, a becoming deference to the best sentiment of a Christian people. and a due regard for the divine will demand that Sunday labor in the Army and Navy be reduced to the measure of strict necessity. The discipline and character of the national forces should not suffer nor the cause they defend be imperiled by the profanation of the day or name of the Most High.” He invokes the example of a similar order issued by General George Washington in 1776.

November 15– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia–Confederate Secretary of War George Randolph resigns over President Jeff Davis’ interference with Randolf’s work in the War Department.

November 15– Saturday– Obersalzbrunn, Silesia– Birth of Gerhart Hauptmann, German dramatist and novelist who will win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1912.

November 16– Sunday– New York City– The New York Times reprints a letter from a Captain Julius of the merchant ship Tonawanda which was captured last month by the Confederate raider Alabama. He describes the enemy ship as “a splendid vessel, and the fastest under canvas that I ever had my foot on board of, and I have no doubt she is the same under steam, as she has very powerful machinery. She is 225 feet long, entirely built, they say, of teak wood. She is calculated to remain at sea as long as they like, as they condense all the water used. They have now 360 tons of coal on board, and the instance mentioned before is the only time they have raised steam since she has been out. I do not think there is a ship in our navy that can catch her. Her armament is six 32 broadside guns, one 68 amidships, and one 100-pound rifled cannon amidships, forward of mainmast. I judge there were about 100 persons on board, mostly English men-of-war’s-men. I do not think there is an American-born seaman on board.” [In fact, of the 83 sailors serving under the Confederate officers a majority but not all are British born. This serves to increase anti-British sentiment in the Northern press and among some members of President Lincoln’s cabinet.]

John Sherman, a politician later known as “the Ohio Icicle”

November 16– Sunday– Mansfield, Ohio– John Sherman, a politician, writes to his brother General William Tecumseh Sherman about the results of the recent elections. He opines that one of the major reasons for “defeat is, the people were dissatisfied at the conduct and results of the war. The slow movements on the Potomac and worse still in Kentucky dissatisfied and discouraged people. It was a little singular that the Democrats, some of whom opposed the war, should reap the benefit of this feeling, but such is the fate of parties. Lincoln was a Republican. He put and kept in these slow generals and we shall be punished for it by having an organized opposition limiting appropriations. No doubt the wanton and unnecessary use of the power to arrest without trial and the ill-timed [Emancipation] proclamation contributed to the general result.”

William Wilberforce~ although he has been dead for almost three decades by the time of the American Civil War his abolitionist passion still motivates British anti-slavery activists

November 17– Monday– London, England– The Committee of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society issues a public statement regarding the American war and President Lincoln’s proclamation. It concludes with these sentiments: “The President has lately issued a proclamation declaring absolutely and forever free all the slaves in those States which shall be in rebellion on the 1st of January next, and pointing to the measures in progress for the abolition of Slavery in the loyal States, upon the principle of indemnification. While the Committee deprecates a resort to arms, even with the avowed purpose of promoting the extinction of Slavery, they reiterate the opinion that the friends of the slave in the United States, under whatsoever designation, have established a just claim upon the sympathy of the friends of freedom throughout Europe. In this spirit, and with the object of evoking such an expression of sympathy as shall encourage the emancipation party in the United States to their most difficult position, to persevere in their endeavors to obtain justice for the slave, the Committee issue the present address, earnestly commending it to the favorable consideration of their fellow-countrymen, and to the friends of humanity in all lands.”

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