Not a Very Agreeable Spectacle~June 1863~the 12th & 13th

Not a Very Agreeable Spectacle ~June 1863~the 12th and 13th

Prseident Lincoln responds to his critics and replaces a general. Gideon Welles complains about Congressional ineptitude. Colonel Shaw writes to his wife about politics, military operations and religion. Vicksburg is shelled relentlessly. Some Southerners complain about German immigrants serving in the Union army. An English observer watches a slave auction in disgust. On positive notes, English authors are changing literature. And an English woman who will change women’s fashion is born.

President Lincoln

President Lincoln

June 12– Friday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln makes a lengthy public reply to Mr Erastus Corning and other Democrats from New York State who in mid-May published a series of resolutions extremely critical of the President and his policies. In a key part, Lincoln writes, “In giving the resolutions that earnest consideration which you request of me, I cannot overlook the fact that the meeting speak as ‘Democrats.’ Nor can I, with full respect for their known intelligence, and the fairly presumed deliberation with which they prepared their resolutions, be permitted to suppose that this occurred by accident, or in any way other than that they preferred to designate themselves ‘Democrats’ rather than ‘American citizens.’ In this time of national peril I would have preferred to meet you upon a level one step higher than any party platform, because I am sure that from such more elevated position we could do better battle for the country we all love than we possibly can from those lower ones where, from the force of habit, the prejudices of the past, and selfish hopes of the future, we are sure to expend much of our ingenuity and strength in finding fault with and aiming blows at each other. But since you have denied me this I will yet be thankful for the country’s sake that not all Democrats have done so.” He concludes by saying, “I further say that, as the war progresses, it appears to me, opinion and action, which were in great confusion at first, take shape and fall into more regular channels, so that the necessity for strong dealing with them gradually decreases. I have every reason to desire that it should cease altogether, and far from the least is my regard for the opinions and wishes of those who, like the meeting at Albany, declare their purpose to sustain the government in every constitutional and lawful measure to suppress the rebellion. Still, I must continue to do so much as may seem to be required by the public safety.”

Erastus Corning

Erastus Corning

June 12– Friday– Washington, D.C.– Secretary Gideon Welles makes observations about politics. “The interference of Members of Congress in the petty appointments and employment of laborers in the navy yards is annoying and pernicious. The public interest is not regarded by the Members, but they crowd partisan favorites for mechanical positions in place of good mechanics and workmen, and when I refuse to entertain their propositions, they take offense. I can’t help it if they do. I will not prostitute my trust to their schemes and selfish personal partisanship.”

Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy

Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy

June 12– Friday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln replaces General David Hunter with General Quincy Gillmore to command the Department of the South which now includes the 54th Massachusetts.

June 12– Friday– Charleston, South Carolina– Sir Arthur James Fremantle, on his way to join with General Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia, sees a sight which bothers him. “I called at an exchange office this morning, and asked the value of gold; they offered me six to one for it. I went to a slave auction at 11; but they had been so quick about it that the whole affair was over before I arrived, although I was only ten minutes late. The Negroes–about fifteen men, three women, and three children — were seated on benches, looking perfectly contented and indifferent. I saw the buyers opening the mouths and showing the teeth of their new purchases to their friends in a very business-like manner. This was certainly not a very agreeable spectacle to an Englishman, and I know that many Southerners participate in the same feeling; for I have often been told by people that they had never seen a Negro sold by auction, and never Wished to do so.”

Sir Arthur James Fremantle of Her Majesty's Coldstream Guards

Sir Arthur James Fremantle of Her Majesty’s Coldstream Guards

June 12– Friday– St Simon’s Island, Georgia– Colonel Robert Gould Shaw in a letter to his wife, Annie, describes the raid on Darien and his own revulsion at what Colonel Montgomery did. “Now, dear Annie, remember not to breathe a word of what I have written about this raid, to any one out of our two families, for I have not yet made up my mind what I ought to do. Besides my own distaste for this barbarous sort of warfare, I am not sure that it will not harm very much the reputation of black troops and of those connected with them. For myself, I have gone through the war so far without dishonor, and I do not like to degenerate into a plunderer and robber– and the same applies to every officer in my regiment. There was not a deed performed, from beginning to end, which required any pluck or courage. If we had fought for possession of the place, and it had been found necessary to hold or destroy it, or if the inhabitants had done anything which deserved such punishment, or if it were a place of refuge for the enemy, there might have been some reason for Montgomery’s acting as he did; but as the case stands, I can’t see any justification.”

June 12– Friday– Knoxville, Tennessee– The Knoxville Register loudly complains about the conduct of German immigrants who are serving in significant numbers in the Union army. “Crimes, thefts, and insults to the women of the South, invariably mark the course of these stinking bodies of animated sour-krout. [Union General] Rosecrans himself is an unmixed Dutchman, an accursed race which has overrun the vast districts of the country of the Northwest. . . . It happens that we entertain a greater degree of respect for an Ethiopian in the ranks of the Northern armies than for an odoriferous Dutchman, who can have no possible interest in this revolution. . . . Why not hang every Dutchman captured?” [General Rosecrans was born in Ohio and can trace his family on his father’s side back to immigrants who arrived in 1651 and on his mother’s side to Stephen Hopkins, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and whose forebearers came from England in 1635. Rosecrans graduated 5th in the 1842 class of 56 cadets at West Point. Confederate General James Longstreet graduated 54th out of 56 in the same class and had a reputation as a trouble-maker.]

June 12– Friday– London, England–Charles Dickens, Frederic Leighton and others found “The Arts Club” in Hanover Square.

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

June 13– Saturday– Brooklyn, New York– Jeff Whitman to his brother Walt. “Walt I have thought considerable of the idea that you speak of, that of your giving lectures. I fear that you would not meet with that success that you deserve. Mr Lane [Moses Lane was chief engineer of the Brooklyn Water Works] and I talked about the matter and both came to the conclusion that it would be much better if you could be appointed dispensing agent, or something of that kind, for some of the numerous aid societies, and he said that he would go and see Storrs [Reverend Dr Richard Storrs, an influential Congregational clergyman, pastor for many years of the Brooklyn Church of the Pilgrim and chair of the St Nicholas Society, a charitable organization] and some other of the big guns of those societies in this city and see if it could not be done. What do you think about it. Do you think it could be accomplished.? . . . . you and I cannot agree in regard to ‘Uncle Abe’– I cannot think that he is the man for the place or he would have surrounded himself with men that could do something. He lends himself to the speculators, in all the ways that it can be done. He says ‘yes’ to the last man or ‘No’ as that man wants him to. Everything he does reminds me of an old woman. I hope that the country will last long enough for this damned war to fall through It seems nothing but an immense bubble, only of a desperate character.”

June 13– Saturday– Harrisburg, Pennsylvania– Governor Andrew Curtin issues a proclamation that Pennsylvania African Americans who enlist must do so in Pennsylvania regiments and only recruiters authorized by the War Department in Washington may recruit black soldiers.

June 13– Saturday– Winchester, Virginia– The advance units of General Lee’s invasion force reach the town and begin a two day battle with Federal troops.

June 13– Saturday– Staunton, Virginia– David Evans to Miss Lew Plunkett. “The beautiful Bouquet Sent by you Several days ago, I received, and with great delight, did I gaze at this one, reminding me still of your devoted friendship, which I hope time will never eraize [sic]. Accept my Sincere thanks for this mark of Your Kindness towards me.”

June 13– Saturday– St Simon’s Island, Georgia– Colonel Robert Gould Shaw writes to Annie, his new wife. “To-morrow is Sunday, and perhaps you will be at Staten Island; at any rate, I suppose, not at Lenox; but wherever you are, I wish I could go to church with you, and saunter about in some pretty garden afterwards. There is a beautiful little church near here, almost buried in trees and moss. I have had it put to rights (it was damaged by some sailors and soldiers), and the Chaplain of the Second South Carolina Regiment is to preach there for us to-morrow. I shall always have a service of some kind on Sunday; and if we can’t always get a chaplain, I shall have one of the officers officiate. I don’t feel good enough myself to undertake to teach others, as you suggest. Perhaps I shall some time. I have read some of Robertson’s sermons, and think them very beautiful.”

June 13– Saturday– Vicksburg, Mississippi– By day Union artillery bombards the city and by night Union gunboats on the Mississippi River fire relentlessly into to beleaguered city.

Vicksburg besieged

Vicksburg besieged

June 13– Saturday– London, England– Birth of Lucy Christiana, Lady Duff-Gordon, English fashion designer, who will become the first British designer to achieve international renown as a widely-acknowledged innovator in couture styles as well as in fashion industry public relations, originating the “mannequin parade,” a precursor to the modern fashion show, and training the first professional models.

Lady Duff-Gordon, 1919

Lady Duff-Gordon, 1919

June 13– Saturday– Christchurch, New Zealand– Englishman Samuel Butler, age 27, publishes A First Year in Canterbury Settlement, which in 1872 will appear, with some revisions, as the first part of his novel Erewhon.

Samuel Butler, 1858

Samuel Butler, 1858

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