Somber and Surly~November, 1862~the 18th to the 24th

As November enters its last half, bloodshed continues. General William Sherman answers his brother John’s letter, asserting his own indifference to the elections and the inevitability of the war. Robert Gould Shaw, like other handsome officers in other armies in other wars, turns his heart and mind to romance and marriage. Native Americans and African Americans demonstrate loyalty to the Union cause. In Minnesota, a minister expresses his belief that the convicted Sioux have been railroaded.

President Lincoln bans the export of arms for the duration and answers a significant immigrant critic. [Carl Schurz had been a student leader in the 1848 revolution in Germany. When the revolution was suppressed he fled to the United States. He campaigned for Lincoln in the 1860 election, urging German-born people to vote for Lincoln. After the war he will become an important political leader and reformer.]

Southern women in Virginia worry about Yankee soldiers. Richmond suffers severely from war-time shortages and inflation.

An opera by Verdi premieres in Russia. In Britain a newspaper carries a letter from the abolitionist Frederick Douglass in which he urges Her Majesty’s government neither to intervene nor to recognize the Confederacy.


November 18– Tuesday– Staunton, Virginia– Miss Lizzie Fackler writes to her friend Mary. “We have been several times alarmed, for fear the Yankees would get us, but they have not succeeded yet, and I trust Jackson will never give us up to them. They have been as near at eighteen miles in several directions. At one time we had a regular panic, and almost everybody left Staunton, but after playing ‘refugee’ about a week, they returned and were laughed at a great deal about it.”

November 19– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– John Jones, government clerk, notes some problems. “The [railroad] cars this afternoon from the vicinity of Fredericksburg were crowded with Negroes, having bundles of clothing, etc., their owners sending them hither to escape the enemy. A frightened [merchant], who came in the train, said there was an army of 100,000 near Fredericksburg, and we should hear more in a few days. I doubt it not. Salt sold yesterday at auction for $1.10 per pound. Boots are now bringing $50 per pair; candles (tallow) 75 cts. per pound; butter $2.00per pound. Clothing is almost unattainable. We are all looking shabby enough.”

November 19– Wednesday– Leavenworth, Kansas– Colonel William Coffin, Indian Superintendent of the Southern Superintendency, arrives with a report that about four weeks ago a troop of Wichita fighters and other Indians loyal to the United States defeated a force of about 600 Confederate soldiers and their Indian allies in a fight at Fort Cobb in Indian Territory.

November 19– Wednesday– Ames, Iowa– Birth of William Ashley Sunday who after a career in baseball will gain fame as the evangelist Billy Sunday.

Billy Sunday in 1921

November 19– Wednesday– Philomont, Virginia– Tomkinsville, Kentucky– Pineville, Missouri– Grand Junction, Tennessee– Skirmishes, minor encounters and small free-for-alls occur between Confederate and Federal forces.

November 20– Thursday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– William Heyser, a local businessman and farmer, evaluates the state of things. “Cold and rough. Feel unwell, very depressed. I need something of a change. . . . The war news is bad, mostly from the indecision at Washington. They must play politics first, and then decide the course of their plottings. Much controversy over McClelland being relieved of his command. We feel Lincoln but a tool in his party’s hand.

November 20– Thursday– England–A British newspaper, The Independent, carries an open letter from Frederick Douglass entitled “The Slaves’ Appeal to Great Britain.” Douglass praises Britain’s ant-slavery history and recognizes the economic hardships caused by the lost imports of American cotton. He writes passionately against British recognition of the Confederacy. He concludes by saying, “The lesson of our civil war to you is the cultivation of cotton by free labor. It tells you that you should base your industry and prosperity on the natural foundations of justice and liberty. . . . You have the islands to the west of you, India to the east of you, and Africa with her perennial cotton-plant to the south of you. Intervene there, not withy swords and guns and other warlike implements, but by means of peaceful industry. . . . I fully believe in the general rectitude of the British heart.”

November 21– Friday– Sharpsburg, Maryland– Romantically interested in Miss Annie Haggerty and desirous of marrying her, Robert Gould Shaw writes to ask his mother to gage the young lady’s willingness. “So if you should see her this winter and should talk with her about it, won’t you write me what you think? It would be the best thing you could do for me just now, dear Mother.” Annie is 27, Robert is 25. Both come from wealthy families. Robert’s sister Susie introduced them more than a year ago while attending an opera in New York City with friends.

Annie Haggerty

November 21– Friday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln issues an executive order banning the export of arms and ammunition until further notice.

November 21– Friday– Richmond, Virginia–James Seddon becomes Confederate Secretary of War in place of George Randolph.

November 21– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– The Liberator carries a report from Richard J. Hinton, Adjutant, 1st Regiment Kansas Colored Volunteers. “Our nine days’ campaign proved that Negroes are splendid soldiers, will march further, fight as well, and live on as hard fare without grumbling, as any soldiers now in the services of the government. . . . The men have done their duty faithfully. Find me the six hundred white men, who, with such patient patriotism and perseverance, would have adhered to their organization through all the discouragements and disadvantages we have had to encounter. I have yet to see them.”

November 22– Saturday– St Petersburg, Russia– The opera La Forza Del Destino (The Force of Destiny) by Giuseppe Verdi premiers at the Bolshoi Kamenny Theater.

Giuseppe Verdi

November 23– Sunday– Sharpsburg, Maryland– Robert Gould Shaw opens his heart in a letter to his love, Annie Haggerty. “I felt wicked when I told you I wanted to see you even more than Mother; for I have always loved her more than any one else in the world, and I think she has me, from the sacrifices she has made for me, and for which I can never repay her. But it was true, nevertheless, like every thing I have written to you, and a great deal more besides, for my feelings to you have been almost the same since the first evening I saw you in New York; the evening I went with you and Susie to the opera.”

November 24– Monday– Mankato, Minnesota– Reverend Thomas Williamson writes to a colleague, Reverend Stephen Riggs about the Sioux prisoners. “[I] am satisfied in my own mind from the slight evidence on which these are condemned that there are many others in that prison house who ought not to be there, and that the honor of our Government and the welfare of the people of Minnesota as well as that of the Indians requires a new trial before unprejudiced judges. I doubt whether the whole state of Minnesota can furnish 12 men competent to sit as jurors in their trial. . . . From our Governor down to the lowest rabble there is a general belief that all the prisoners are guilty, and demand that whether guilty or not they be put to death as a sacrifice to the souls of our murdered fellow citizens.”

General Carl Schurz

November 24– Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln frankly answers a highly critical letter from the German immigrant General Carl Schurz. “I wish to disparage no one certainly not those who sympathize with me; but I must say I need success more than I need sympathy, and that I have not seen the so much greater evidence of getting success from my sympathizers than from those who are denounced as the contrary. It does seem to me that in the field the two classes have been very much alike in what they have done and what they have failed to do.”

General William Tecumseh Sherman

November 24– Monday– Memphis, Tennessee– General William Tecumseh Sherman responds to the recent letter from his brother John. Your letter of the 16th is before me. I could write a good deal on the points that you make, but hardly have time to do them justice. The late election doesn’t disturb me a particle. The people have so long been accustomed to think they could accomplish anything by a vote, that they still think so ; but now a vote is nothing more than a change and will produce no effect. The war might have been staved off a few years, or the issue might have been made up more clearly, or the first enthusiasm of the country might have been better taken advantage of but these are now all past, and fault-finding will do no good. We are involved in a war that will try the sincerity of all our professions, of endurance, courage and patriotism. Leaders will of course be killed off by the score. Thousands will perish by the bullet or sickness; but war must go on it can’t be stopped. The North must rule or submit to degradation and insult forevermore.”

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