A Crisis in Our Affairs~January, 1863~the 2nd to the 8th

The new year opens with bloodshed in a pitched battle in Tennessee. In the South, President Davis praises Confederate valor. In the North people such as General Sherman and George Templeton Strong evaluate the South’s endurance. In the Atlantic Monthly, Harriet Beecher Stowe challenges British women to support the Union cause. Southerners continue to see “contented” slaves while dealing with an increasing number of escapes. Through it all, life goes on all around the world.

January 2– Friday– Washington, D.C.– Senator John Sherman writes to his brother, General William Tecumseh Sherman. “We are watching with the most eager interest the progress of your expedition. We all hope its success will brighten the gloom cast by operations here. If the Mississippi can only be opened and Texas and Arkansas detached it will be a gleam of hope by which I can see the end of the war. Without an outlet to the South and West and with such a blockade as we can easily keep up, the Southern Confederacy cannot exist. This will settle the cotton question, for Texas and Arkansas can with the free labor that can easily be thrown there grow enough cotton for the world another ground of hope.”

Senator John Sherman

Senator John Sherman

January 2– Friday– Murfreesboro, Tennessee– The battle which began on New Year’s Eve comes to a conclusion. Total Federal losses are 12,906 dead, injured or missing while the Confederate losses amount to 11,739, killed, wounded or missing.

January 2– Friday– London, England– U S Minister Charles Francis Adams sends to Secretary of State Seward and President Lincoln a message drafted yesterday by Mayor Abel Haywood and many of the working men of Manchester, England. “We rejoice in your greatness. . . . We honor your free States, as a singular, happy abode for the working millions. . . . One thing alone has, in the past, lessened our sympathy with your country and our confidence in it; we mean the ascendency of politicians who not merely maintained Negro slavery, but desired to extend and root it more firmly. Since we have discerned, however, that the victory of the free north, in the war which has so sorely distressed us as well as afflicted you, will strike off the fetters of the slave, you have attracted our warm and earnest sympathy.”

January 3– Saturday– New York City–Harper’s Weekly today carries Thomas Nast’s first drawing of the modern Santa Claus.

Santa Claus by Thomas Nast

Santa Claus by Thomas Nast

January 3– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– Walt Whitman writes to his sister Martha. “Yesterday I went out to the Campbell Hospital to see a couple of Brooklyn boys, of the 51st. They knew I was in Washington, and sent me a note, to come and see them. O my dear sister, how your heart would ache to go through the rows of wounded young men, as I did and stopped to speak a comforting word to them. There were about 100 in one long room, just a long shed neatly whitewashed inside. One young man was very much prostrated, and groaning with pain. I stopped and tried to comfort him. He was very sick. . . . The 100 are in a ward, and there are, I should think, eight or ten or twelve such wards in the Campbell Hospital– indeed a real village. Then there are some 38 more Hospitals here in Washington, some of them much larger.”

January 3– Saturday– Murfreesboro, Tennessee– Confederate forces begin to withdraw.

January 4– Sunday– Atlantic Ocean– Two U S warships seize the Mercury, a Confederate blockade runner from Charleston on its way to Nassau, Bahamas with Southern trade goods and mail.

January 4– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln and General Halleck order General Grant to rescind Special Order 11, issued in December, 1862, expelling Jews from areas under Grant’s command. The President also orders Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles to use Federal gunboats on the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay to assist loyalists fleeing Virginia.

January 4– Sunday– Hamburg, Germany– Three men– Rudolf Rosochaki, F W Schwartz and Heinrich Geyer– create a schism in the Catholic Apostalic Church, which had been founded in England a little over 30 years before this, and in another 13 years their church will become known as the New Apostalic Church.

January 5– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Mr James Plimpton, age 35, from New York City, receives a patent for four-wheeled roller skates, an invention which makes the recreation much safer.

January 5– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– President Jeff Davis addresses a crowd which gathers in front of the Executive Mansion to welcome him back from his tour of the west. He characterizes the war and the Confederacy’s enemy. “Here, in the ancient Commonwealth of Virginia the great principles of human government were proclaimed by your ancestors; here great battles for freedom have been fought, when the grand system they founded was attempted to be overturned by those who got possession of a government which they could not comprehend, and which, in six months, they see themselves wholly unable to administer. . . . . You have shown yourselves in no respect to be degenerate sons of your fathers. You have fought mighty battles, and your deeds of valor will live among the richest spoils of Time’s ample page. It is true you have a cause which binds you together more firmly than your fathers were. They fought to be free from the usurpations of the British crown, but they fought against a manly foe. You fight against the off-scourings of the earth.”

January 5– Monday– Off the Florida coast–U S warships capture a British ship attempting to run the blockade.

January 6– Tuesday– On the steamer Forest Queen, Mississippi River– General William Tecumseh Sherman writes to his brother John. “I suppose you are now fully convinced of the stupendous energy of the South and their ability to prolong this war indefinitely, but I am further satisfied that if it lasts 30 years we must fight it out, for the moment the North relaxes its energies the South will assume the offensive and it is wonderful how well disciplined and provided they have their men. We found everywhere abundant supplies, even on the Yazoo, and all along the river we found cattle, and fat ones, feeding quietly. The country everywhere abounds with corn, and the soldiers, though coarsely, are well clad. We hear of the manufacture of all sorts of cloth and munitions of war. The river plantations are mostly abandoned, and all families, Negroes, stock and cotton removed 25 miles back.”

General William Recumseh Shreman

General William Recumseh Shreman

January 6– Tuesday– Nashville, Tennessee– The Nashville Dispatch lists military hospitals. “A large number of buildings have been selected to be fitted up as hospitals for the reception of the wounded, among which we hear of the First Presbyterian Church, corner of Spring and summer streets; the First Baptist Church, north Summer street; Cumberland Presbyterian Church; McKendree Church, Spring street, and the large residence of Mr. Alexander Wheless on Spruce street.”

January 6– Tuesday– London, England– Harriet Gouldsmith Arnold, English landscape painter and etcher dies at age73.

January 7– Wednesday– New York City– George Templeton Strong opines about the duration of the war. “Our resources will stand the wear and tear of indecisive conflict longer than those of slavedom, and can be sooner repaired.”

January 7– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– Government clerk John Jones writes about slaves. “A large body of slaves passed through the city to-day, singing happily. They had been working on the fortifications north of the city, and go to work on them south of it. They have no faith in the efficacy of Lincoln’s Emancipation. But it is different in Norfolk; 4000 enfranchised slaves marched in procession through the town the other day in a sort of frantic jubilee.They will bewail their error; and so will the Abolitionists. They will consume the enemy’s commissary stores; and if they be armed, we shall get their arms.”

 January 8– Thursday– Louisville, Kentucky– Birth of Ellen Churchill Semple, a geographer who will make geography a university-level discipline.

January 8– Thursday– Falmouth, Virginia– George Whitman writes to his brother Thomas Jefferson Whitman. “Poor old Mother, she is hardly ever out of my mind, when we are going into a fight, and I have often thought when I have been in a pretty hot place, how glad I was that none of you at home, knew anything about it, and it makes me feel quite bad to think how worried you all were, on account of seeing my name in the list of wounded, while I was just as well as ever I was in my life, as the scratch I got scared me a great deal worse than it hurt, It was a mighty warm place we were into when I was hit, as the Rebs had a battery planted right in front of us and not more than 1000 yards distance, and they poured grape and cannister into us like the very devil.”

January 8– Fairfax Station, Virginia– Robert Gould Shaw writes to his mother. “If we do change our commander again, and the new one doesn’t do any better than his predecessors, I should think a crisis in our affairs might be expected. . . . . I have been reading Bleak House and I didn’t remember how many beautiful things there were in it. . . . . What a great year this is for the Negroes and the country! . . . . I read Mrs Stowe’s “Reply” in the January Atlantic and liked it very much.” [In the mid-1850’s a group of prominent women in the United Kingdom had sent an open letter to women in the United states to encourage them to stand against slavery. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s article of 20+ pages chastises British women for failing to support the Union cause. Stowe’s passionate piece ends with the following: “And now, Sisters of England, think it not strange, if we bring back the words of your letter, not in bitterness, but in deepest sadness, and lay them down at your door. We say to you,– Sisters, you have spoken well; we have heard you; we have heeded; we have striven in the cause, even unto death. We have sealed our devotion by desolate hearth and darkened homestead,– by the blood of sons, husbands, and brothers. In many of our dwellings the very light of our lives has gone out; and yet we accept the life-long darkness as our own part in this great and awful expiation, by which the bonds of wickedness shall be loosed, and abiding peace established on the foundation of righteousness. Sisters, what have you done, and what do you mean to do?”

Harriet Beecher Stowe, c1853

Harriet Beecher Stowe, c1853

January 8– Thursday– Okolona, Mississippi– Colonel P Smith, commanding a Confederate cavalry battalion, writes to the Headquarters of the Confederate Department of Mississippi. “You will oblige me by sending instructions in reference to the manner of disposing of Negroes–runaways–caught by my scouts and not giving correct statement of the names of their owners and residence. It is difficult by any manner to ascertain where they belong, and the number is increasing beyond convenience. On yesterday a Negro was caught armed and killed two dogs in the attempt to catch him and finally shot himself inflicting a severe wound, ”

January 8– Thursday– Sacramento, California–Workers break ground for the start of the construction of the first transcontinental railroad.

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