The Sable Arm in Double Battle~February, 1863~the 16th to the 21st

Reaction, good and bad, at home and abroad, continues in response to Mr Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the use of black troops. Robert Gould Shaw arrives home in Massachusetts and feels some stress about his new assignment and joy about his engagement. Federal forces probe the defenses of Vicksburg, Mississippi while Union General Sherman complains about journalists. Abolitionist and Transcendentalist David Wasson evaluates the cost of the war from moral and philosophical points of view in an article which delights Charlotte Forten Grimke. New York lawyer George Templeton Strong evaluates things in Europe.

Confederate General Lee, worried about the safety of Richmond, moves troops into the area. A 17-year old Southern girl wonders if she will live to see the end of the war.

Memories of the mutiny in India six years ago come to mind as heroes of the struggle die. What will become the International Red Cross begins to take shape in Switzerland. The first college under the 1962 Morril Act is chartered. [“All we are saying is ‘give peace a chance.’”]

emblem of the International Red Cross

emblem of the International Red Cross

February 16– Monday– Boston, Massachusetts- Robert Gould Shaw meets with Governor Andrew to discuss details of his new regiment and to select a place for a training camp. Shaw writes to his fiancee, Annie, that “Governor Andrew’s ideas please me extremely, for he takes the most common sense view of the thing. He seems inclined to have me do just what I please.”

February 16– Monday– New York City– George Templeton Strong notes international news.. “Louis Napoleon seems steadily and stealthily picking his way toward recognition or intervention or both, encouraged by the Northern Dirt-Eaters’ shameless sympathy with treason. . . . In England there seems reaction in our favor, mainly among the ungenteel classes. Large meetings applaud the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1. . . . Strange to say, they will rather weaken the Administration with the masses here, as being British sympathy with accursed Abolitionists.”

February 16– Monday– Washington, D.C.– The Senate passes a new Conscription Act in order to increase the size of army.

February 16– Monday– Lake Providence, Louisiana– Union soldier William Christie writes to his father. “We are always hearing of discontent among the People on account of the President’s Proclamation giving the Blacks their Liberty. I’ve learned yesterday also that there was a mutiny among the Officers and men at New Orleans on account of there Being Black troops raised there and being put in to the field. I know it is grievous among ourselves down here to see men forget every thing but there Prejudices on the slavery question. And as a general thing our officers are worse than the privates, often sending away the darkies [back to the plantations from which they escaped], when the men would keep them.”

February 16– Monday– Topeka, Kansas– State authorities establish the Kansas State Agricultural College as the first land grant college newly created under the 1862 Morrill Act.

February 16– Monday– Dublin, Ireland– Denis Dynon dies at age 40. He had been awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery in a battle fought October 2, 1857 during the “Indian Mutiny.”

February 17– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– John Jones records the latest military news. “General Lee is not sending troops to Charleston. He is sending them here for the defense of Richmond, which is now supposed to be the point of attack, by land and by water, and on both sides of the James River. Well, they have striven to capture this city from every point of the compass but one–the south side. Perhaps they will make an attempt from that direction; and I must confess that I have always apprehended the most danger from that quarter. But we shall beat them, come whence they may!”

February 17– Tuesday– Geneva, Switzerland–The first meeting of what will become the International Committee of the Red Cross is held here, following the lead of humanitarian Henry Dunant.

Henry Dunant, moving force behind the foundation of the red Cross

Henry Dunant, moving force behind the foundation of the red Cross

February 18– Wednesday– Boston, Massachusetts– Robert Gould Shaw writes to his beloved Annie. “Do write to me often, Annie dear, for I need a word occasionally from those whom I love, to keep up my courage. Whatever you write about, your letters always make me feel well.”

February 18– Wednesday– Richmond, Kentucky– Federal authorities disperse a convention of the Democratic Party because some members support the Confederacy.

February 18– Wednesday– St Helena Island, South Carolina– Charlotte Forten Grimke writes of a pleasant day. “After tea the Dr [Rogers, serving with Colonel Higginson’s regiment] read to us a grand article in the February Atlantic by his friend Mr Wasson called “The Law of Costs.” It is in relation to the war, and is certainly the best thing I have yet seen on the subject. Full of noble truths told in the most beautiful language.” [David Atwood Wasson is a Transcendentalist and abolitionist. His ten page article analyses the costs of war, the loss of blood and treasure, from political and philosophical viewpoints. Near the end of the piece he argues, “If, therefore, we are already a house divided against itself and tottering to its fall,– to what is all due? Simply to the fact that no nation can long unsay its central principle, and yet preserve it in faithfulness and power,– that no nation can long preach the sanctity of natural right, the venerableness of man’s nature, and the identity of pure justice with political interest, from an auction-block on which men and maidens are sold,– that, in fine, a nation cannot continue long with impunity to play within its own borders the part both of Gessler and Tell, both of Washington and Benedict Arnold, both of Christ and of him that betrayed him. We must choose. For our national faith we must make honest payment, so conserving it, and with it all for which nations may hope; or else, refusing to meet these costs, we must suffer the nation’s soul to perish, and in the imbecility, the chaos, and shame that will follow, suffer therewith all that nations may lawfully fear.”

cover of the first issue of Atlantic Monthly-1857

cover of the first issue of Atlantic Monthly-1857

February18– Wednesday– in the Union siege works before Vicksburg, Mississippi– General William Tecumseh Sherman writes to his brother John and he calls for censorship and limitations on the press. “In the South this/ powerful machine was at once scotched and used by the rebel government, but at the North was allowed to go .free. What are the results? After arousing the passions of the people till the two great sections hate each other with a hate hardly paralleled in history, it now begins to stir up sedition at home, and even to encourage mutiny in our armies. What has paralyzed the Army of the Potomac? Mutual jealousies kept alive by the press. . . . The only two really successful military strokes out here have succeeded because of the absence of newspapers, or by throwing them off the trail. Halleck had to make a simulated attack on Columbus to prevent the press giving notice of his intended move against Forts Henry and Donelson. We succeeded in reaching the Post of Arkansas before the correspondents could reach the papers.”

General William Recumseh Shreman

General William Recumseh Shreman

February 19– Thursday– Falmouth, Virginia– Elisha Hunt Rhodes ponders the future. “The storm still continues and we sit over our fires and wonder what will happen next.. Furloughs are still given to the men and it is hard for me to tell who ought to go first.”

February 19– Vicksburg, Mississippi– General Grant’s Federal forces probe Confederate defenses north of the city resulting in a day of hard skirmishing.

February 19– Thursday– Liverpool, England– Here and in the city of Carlisle, British workers hold mass meetings to declare their support for Mr Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

February 20– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– Robert Gould Shaw writes to his cousin, Elizabeth “Mimi” Russell Lyman. “You will be astonished to hear . . . that I am engaged to Miss Annie Haggerty. Perhaps you remember that two years ago I told you she would be my ‘young woman’ some time. . . . . [Your brother Harry and I] are at home now together, he as Lieutenant Colonel of the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry, and I as a Negro Colonel, for Governor Andrew has given me the command of his black regiment.”

Annie Haggerty

Annie Haggerty

February 20– Friday– London, England– The London Pneumatic Despatch Company inaugurates its pneumatic tube atmospheric railway for parcels between Euston station and the General Post Office, North Western District sorting office, a distance of 0.75 mile.

February 21– Saturday– Cleveland, Tennessee– Myra Adelaide Inman, age 17, describes her day and ponders her future. “A very rainy morn. Got up this morn, made up my bed, dressed, ate breakfast,worked on Sister’s chemise band, ate dinner, posted my journal, helped with supper, ate supper, washed and went to bed. This is the manner in which I usually spend my Saturdays. Wonder if I will live to see the war ended and if it will be over this time next year. Wonder where______ is today, they are expecting a battle there soon.”

February 21– Saturday– Meerat, India– Irish-born Samuel Hill, age 36, is killed in action against “bandits.” Hill had been awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery in a November, 1857 battle during the “Indian Mutiny” at Lucknow, India.

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