Somber and Surly~November, 1862~ the 25th to the 30th

The somber mood continues as November moves to its conclusion. In Southern cities such as Richmond and Nashville wartime shortages increase and the poor suffer greatly. Deserters and thieves add to the crime problems in metropolitan areas. Well-to-do Southern women give generously to the Confederate cause. But not all Southern women fare well. Occupents of a red light district are made homeless. A Confederate widow is encouraged by her cousin to sell her late husband’s property to avoid feuding among family members. One wonders who really benefits from such a sale.

Northern soldiers and citizens observe Thanksgiving in spite of the war. Robert Gould Shaw revisits the battlefield at Antietam and mnourns the loss of dear comrades.

November 25– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– Clerk John Jones writes of conditions in the city. “No beggars can be found in the streets of this city. No cry of distress is heard, although it prevails extensively. High officers of the government have no fuel in their houses, and give nearly $20 per cord for wood for cooking purposes. And yet there are millions of tons of coal almost under the very city!”

November 25– Tuesday– Chattanooga, Tennessee– The Daily Rebel reports on the generosity of Southern women. “We publish with something more than pleasure the following note from Dr. Taylor, (chief of Ford Hospital) to one of the fairest, and as her donation indicates, one of the noblest daughters of this highland region. Such acts of munificence, with the ceaseless attentions of our women, day time and night time, to the soldiers, have turned down a golden leaf in the history of this war. May this vision of faith, hope and charity, be but the first of many following angels of mercy!” The note the doctor writes, “Permit me through your journal to acknowledge a liberal contribution of two hundred dollars. To Miss Louisa Massengale, the fair donor, Ireturn the sincerest thanks of the sick under my care. The kindness and sympathy of such patrons greatly alleviates the sickness and suffering of our soldier, and their attention measurably supplies the absence of loved ones at home.”

Women of a chapter of the Soldiers Aid Society

November 26– Wednesday– Nashville, Tennessee– A reporter for the Philadelphia [Pennsylvania] Press describes the misery seen in the city. “The melancholy appearances presented on all sides in the thoroughly rebellious City of Nashville, are enough to convince any one of the terrible consequences which a people can bring upon themselves by plunging into treason against their lawful Government. Palatial residences, once the abodes of those whose voices were most blatant in the general howl of “Southern rights” are converted into hospitals for our sick and wounded, or occupied as headquarters by our officers, . . . . But the most sickening effects of the war are visible among the poorer classes of the people. Their sufferings, particularly since Winter has set in, is extreme and acute. The commonest comforts of life cannot be procured at the enormous prices demanded. In fact, the necessary restraints which General Rosecrans has placed upon trade, to prevent contraband article from getting to the rebels, virtually stops traffic altogether. So wedded those of the city who have controlled the business of the place to the rebel cause, that the shipment of provisions has to be prohibited. Lest they be conveyed to the rebels. Among the poor, utter destitution prevails.”

November 26– Wednesday– Budapest, Hungary– Birth of Marc Aurel Stein who will become a British citizen and a well known archaeologist, famous for his work in Central Asia.

Marc Aurel Stein on expedition in the 1920.s

November 27– Thursday– Stafford Court House, Virginia– Elisha Hunt Rhodes observes the holiday, making a notation in his diary. “Thanksgiving Day in Rhode Island. Well, I too have much to thank my Heavenly Father for. He has preserved my life and given me health and strength to do my duty. For all which I am devoutly grateful.”

November 27– Thursday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– William Heyser notes in his diary church observance of the holiday. “Moderate weather. Decorated the church for Thanksgiving. The gallery and pillars ornamented with spruce. The pulpit lamps and walk behind the pulpit beautifully ornamented. Two flags handsomely draped in the background. The whole effect enhanced when the gas lights turned on. Our efforts were a huge success in that all were surprised as well as delighted with our arrangements.”

November 28– Friday– Sharpsburg, Maryland– Robert Gould Shaw writes to his sweetheart, Annie Haggerty. “Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and we managed to have a very pleasant day. There would have been no drawback, if we hadn’t missed from the table so many faces which were there last year at this time. . . . . It is very strange and unfortunate that the officers that have been killed were the very best we had . . . . Our camp is close by the great battle-field, and our principal recreation has been to ride over it and see the places where we fought and where our men were killed. There is hardly a tree near without several bullets and cannon-balls in it, and so9me of the neighboring buildings are perforated in every direction. The place is full of graves.”

November 28– Friday– Nashville, Tennessee– The Nashville Dispatch writes about the demolition of the city’s red light district. “Smoky Row is being razed, and its dimensions are growing small by degrees and wonderfully less; not, as far as we can learn, from any military necessity, but wanton destruction of property. Under ordinary circumstances, the tearing down of this place might be beneficial to the city, but considering the cold weather, and the fact that very few of the unfortunate inhabitants of this locality have either money or friends, it does seem to us cruel in the extreme to turn them out of their homes to seek shelter where they may. They are hunted about like beasts, as if they had no claims upon the charitable feelings of humanity.True, many of them have by their own acts rendered themselves outcasts and almost outlaw, but who of us are perfect? If we could read the hearts of many of those unfortunate women, we might learn how much they suffer, and how little pleasure they experience. But remember that they are human beings, and that as such they are deserving of our sympathy.”

typical womens’ outfits of the period

November 29– Saturday– Rosebank, Virginia– Alexander Holmes writes to his cousin Ellen Stuart McCue encouraging her to sell some land and slaves to settle the estate of her late husband and please the family. “Moreover, if you retain the old homestead . . . you will necessarily become so much entangled with the affairs of other members of the family, as to render collisions of interest, & alienation of feeling almost inevitable. By selling the property, you would probably have $15,000 at least, in your own absolute right, & each of your children, $8000 or more, – probably $10,000 – With this large amount, you could buy a comfortable home, & give your children complete education. By holding on to the homestead, you cannot do this, & you would be harassed by a thousand cares & anxieties, & have little left at the end of the year.”

oufit such as a well-to-do woman might wear

November 29– Saturday– Karlsruhe, Germany– Birth of Friederich Klose, music educator and composer.

November 30– Sunday– Knoxville, Tennessee– The Knoxville Daily Register complains about the city’s failure to assist the military police in the control of crime. “There is another little fact to which we would ask the attention of our Military authorities. Captain Heartsell’s guard consists of only twenty one men, while thieves and ‘stragglers’ and conscripts crowd the city. There is not a day nor night without its robbery or theft or burglary. We are reaching the deplorable condition of Richmond, where the very air is reeking with villainies and crimes. Captain Heartsell is discharging his whole duty but he demands the co-operationof our municipal authorities.”

November 30– Sunday– Torquay, England– The once-prominent actor John Sheridan Knowles dies at age 78. For most of the last 18 years, he has abandoned the stage and served as a Baptist preacher, making a name for himself with his anti-Catholic sermons and writings.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: