The Men & Horses Looked Well~June 1863~the 6th to the 8th

Optimism fills the minds of Confederate generals and the government. An English visitor finds the worship in the Episcopal church to be just like that of the Anglican church in England. A Union soldier takes note of the effort by a white Methodist preacher to keep black people “in their place.” Soldiers worry about their women at home. Women provide traveling soldiers with food and flowers. Contemporary “ladies of the night” are at work in Nashville despite efforts to suppress their activity. More black recruits join the Union forces and black soldiers prove their metal in a bloody fight. Vicksburg becomes more and more damaged. Mexico struggles against the French invaders without aide from the United States. Northern journals see events in Mexico benefitting the Confederacy and making hapopy European reactionaries..

fancy dresses of the Civil War era

fancy dresses of the Civil War era

June 6– Saturday– Nashville, Tennessee– The Nashville Dispatch laments efforts by the Union Army to close houses of prostitution and force the women out onto the streets. “Like other human beings, these poor girls have their loves and ties of kindred, of home, and of friends; many of them are as helpless as children, and totally unfit to take care of themselves; and there are none to give them a helping hand to reform, none to give then shelter in time of need, none to say‘daughter, you are forgiven; sin no more.’These facts were represented to the proper authorities during yesterday, and we learn that the order has been suspended for the present, but requiring all of them to hold themselves in readiness to vacate when called upon, and holding the proprietors responsible for any disorderly conduct in their homes, until further orders. While upon this subject, we may as well allude to the indelicate practice of soldiers riding in open carriages with these girls through the street in broad day; and would suggest that the Provost Marshal make an endeavor to put a stop to it. The girls are not to blame. The neither pay for the carriages nor induce men to ride in them. The fault lies with the men, and to them alone the military and civil authorities ought to direct their attention in suppressing this practice.”

June 6– Saturday– San Francisco, California– A reporter for the New York Times writes an updated article about recent events in Mexico. “It appears that, for the present, the Mexican Government had been removed to San Luis Potosi, the capital of the. State of San Luis Potosi, and situated 200 miles northwest of the City of Mexico. It is stated that the Mexican forces, numbering in the aggregate some 20,000 men, have evacuated the capital, with the intention of carrying on a guerrilla warfare. To the well-wishers of the Mexicans and their cause, it is a source of disappointment to find that they did not make a decided stand in defense of their capital. But any effectual defense may have been impossible. It must be remembered that the great cry in Mexico has been for arms. . . . Who will rejoice . . . over the present aspect of affairs in Mexico? It is easily told. The bigoted priesthood and the Anti-Progressive, Anti-Democratic party in Europe will rejoice. The bigoted, retrogressive Church party in Mexico, with its gang of venal speculators, will rejoice, for at this moment they appear to triumph. These elements throughout Spanish America — and they are powerful still — will rejoice. The so-called Southern Confederacy will rejoice, for the Press of that section declares: ‘that while it is the interested policy of the North to favor the Mexicans, it is the solemn duty of the South to sustain the French in every way and to encourage them to perseverance, as the recognition of the Southern Confederacy depends entirely on the previous conquest and subjugation of Mexico by her invaders. On the ruins of that nation our nationality is to rise.’”

French siege operations in Mexico

French siege operations in Mexico

June 7– Sunday– New York City– The New York Times carries a speech given by Union General George Thomas to a large group of black people in Memphis, Tennessee, fifteen days ago. In a key part of the address, the general said, “I was at Vicksburg. with General Grant, when the fight took place by which we gained important advantages. While the tight was going on General Grant and I went to the Commodore’s flagship. There we saw dead and wounded men all around us. And what else? Why, Negroes, manning the big guns. and doing as well at handling them as the white men did. And I propose to arm you. Will you help us crush this accursed rebellion? I believe Slavery is the cause of it. President Lincoln has set vou free — will you fight?” A number of black men surrounded General Thomas, singing “We are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder” at the general’s request. Thomas kept time, clapping his hands “in the manner of a Methodist camp meeting” as a reporter described the scene.

June 7– Sunday– Union camp across the river from Fredericksburg, Virginia– Union soldier Henry Butler writes home to his wife Mary. “My appetite is poor for what we get for rations, and I need money to buy something that I can eat. I have got tired of pork and hard bread. Fresh beef is not very good this time of the year, but you must not say anything about what I write about the living. The government allows us a plenty to eat, but it comes through too many hands. I heard one of the captains say today that there was 700 dollars due this regiment for back rations, and we should get it sometime. You got a good lot of wool off from the sheep. I would not hurry about selling it, for I think it will be more than 75 cents a lb. How did the hay hold out? Did you have to buy any? How does the grass look, as though there would be any kind of a crop? I want you to write all about everything. Is my hive of bees alive? You never have wrote anything about them. I wrote my name on my hive with a lead pencil so you can tell which one is mine.”

June 7– Sunday– Augusta, Georgia– Sir Arthur James Fremantle, the British officer visiting the Confederacy, describes his Sabbath. “Augusta is a city of 20,000 inhabitants; but its streets being extremely wide, and its houses low, it covers a vast space. No place that I have seen in the Southern States shows so little traces of the war, and it formed a delightful contrast to the war-worn, poverty-stricken, dried up towns I had lately visited. I went to the Episcopal church, and might almost have fancied myself in England; the ceremonies were exactly the same, and the church was full of well-dressed people.”

Sir Arthur James Fremantle of Her Majesty's Coldstream Guards

Sir Arthur James Fremantle of Her Majesty’s Coldstream Guards

June 7– Sunday– Clarksville, Tennessee– Union Sergeant Charles Alley of the 5th Iowa Cavalry attends a service for black people conducted by a white Southern Methodist minister. The sergeant is appalled at what he hears. “The sermon by a white minister was from Isaiah 1: 19-20.’If ye be willing and obedient ye shall eat of the good of the land. But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured by the sword for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken of it.’ And there followed a thing—the speaker would probably call a sermon—that was enough to disgust any man. He told the congregation that the land meant Heaven. That they must not look to eat of the good things of the earth; they were not for them. That God required them to be obedient to their masters and if they were treated all their days even with the oppression and violence they must not think to resist but must be patient looking to God to reward them. What Angels the fellow would have the slaves to be, he a rebel against the just laws of his country.”

June 7– Sunday– Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana– In an attempt to relieve Vicksburg, a Confederate force, composed primarily of Texans, fights a battle with a Union force consisting mostly of the African Brigade and a small number of the 23rd Iowa Volunteer Infantry, inflicting heavy casualties on the Federals. The black soldiers, poorly armed, fight like tigers but are hard pressed by the Southerners. However, at the moment it looks like the rebels may prevail, two Union gunboats appear and drive off the Texans. Federal losses of dead, wounded and missing total 652; Confederate losses are approximately 185. [Some reports say that the Southerners killed a number of black soldiers in cold blood when they tried to surrender. Word of the incident will spread among black soldiers in the Union ranks. General Grant will report that despite their inexperience, the black troopers “behaved well.” Assistant Secretary of War Charles A. Dana will write that “The bravery of the blacks completely revolutionized the sentiment of the army with regard to the employment of Negro troops.”]

African American Union soldiers

African American Union soldiers

June 7– Sunday– Mexico City, Mexico–French forces occupy the city.

June 8– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Mary Todd Lincoln and her 10 year old son Tad take a train to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

June 8– Monday– Wheeling, West Virginia– Federal troops enter various photographers studios and assorted “fancy stores” to seize pictures of the late General Stonewall Jackson and other Confederate officers because “these pictures afforded a great deal of gratification to rebels and rebel sympathizers.”

June 8– Monday– Culpeper Court House, Virginia– General Stuart stages another cavalry review, this time for General Lee. Lee writes to his wife that “I reviewed the cavalry. . . . it was a splendid sight. The men and the horses looked well.”

June 8– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– The Richmond Dispatch reports optimistically on the siege of Vicksburg. “The long and gallant defense of Vicksburg is in its details yet but little understood. When its situation shall be such as to enable us to communicate with its brave defenders we shall have a thrilling retrospective view of the heroic deeds of the long struggle to beat back the masses which were day after day thrown against its defenses. That it has been bravely defended all of us know. . . . The general belief of the nation now is that it will be successfully defended, and that the besieging forces of the enemy will be driven away after discomfiture and disaster not exceeded by any previous engagement with the Confederate forces.”

June 8– Monday– Cairo, Illinois– Union soldier William Taylor writes to his wife Jane, describing his regiment’s train trip. “We left Vincennes passing through many pretty towns & villages. The people heard by telegraph of our coming and were out with flags & bouquets at every station at Clay City nearly all the women in it came down with baskets & buckets of pies & cakes and handed them round without charge. This is different from the Kentucky people that we were protecting charging 25c a quart for buttermilk. The girls came distributing bouquets. I got a pretty one from a little girl that could hardly reach it up to me at the car window.” [The 25 cents would equal about $4.72 today, a lot for a quart of milk.]

artillery firing on Vicksburg

artillery firing on Vicksburg

June 8– Monday– Vicksburg, Mississippi– Day long bombardment by Union troops makes large holes in the streets and destroys the roofs of many buildings and homes.

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