No Silk Dresses in This Town~June 1863~the 25th and 26th

No Silk Dresses in this Town– a Confederate soldier in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Female spies carry pistols under their skirts. A school for girls prospers in spite of the war. Some women pray to be spared from the invading “greybacks” while another prays for Confederate victory. A disturbance occurs at a house of ill-repute. There is fighting at sea, in the middle of Tennessee, at Vicksburg and at Port Hudson. Pennsylvania prepares to resist the invaders. A famous admiral dies. A Union officer worries about the consequences of the burning of Darien, Georgia. The union army moves northward, all too slowly for Gideon Welles. Confederate soldiers take retribution on the property of an abolitionist Congressman.

June 25– Thursday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– Confederate soldier G C Brown writes to his mother and sister about obtaining dresses, assorted dry goods and a bit of foodstuffs which he is sending south to them. “The whole concern cost me (the 4 lbs. tea at $3.00 included) $163.00– It would cost you about $700 if you could get it at all, I suppose. I hope to be able to fill another box if we get to Harrisburg or Carlisle, and will try to send the things included in your list & not sent now. There are no silk dresses in this town– all being off or hidden. I bought for Confederate States money & used no threats for compulsion whatever. Chickens sell for 10 cents here, butter for 12 ½ but we generally have to pay in Yankee money for them as General Ewell does not allow us to force our own currency upon the people– a leniency which I think utterly thrown away upon men who behave as these have done, or at least as their troops have done. The people in the towns seem to stir about as much as usual or more, and behave pretty well except that now & then women turn their backs on us, or bring up a decided pout, which as they are naturally very much uglier & coarser than ours, doesn’t improve them.”

Southern woman and her soldier husband

Southern woman and her soldier husband

June 25– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– Local woman Rachel Cormany describes her encounters with the “greybacks.” “They must surely expect to set up stores or fill their empty ones judging from the loads they have been hauling away & they take every thing a body can think of– I was across the street for water & at Aunt Maria’s two rebs were talking. One was telling about the battle at Chancellorsville. A body would think by his talk that he did about all that was done, at least the greatest part–he told how mean our men acted in December battle at Fredricksburg.”

Rachel Cormany

Rachel Cormany

June 25– Thursday– Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania– Fearing Confederate attack, over 11,000 men have, at the direction of their employers and city officials, left their jobs in stores, shops, factories and mills and are helping to build fortifications.

June 25– Thursday– Frederick, Maryland– The Union Army of the Potomac, moving in pursuit of General Lee begins arriving on this side of the Potomac River.

June 25– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– Gideon Welles updates his diary. “Word is sent me by a credible person who left Hagerstown last evening that Ewell and Longstreet with their divisions passed through that place yesterday to invade Pennsylvania with sixty thousand men. The number is probably exaggerated, but I am inclined to believe there may be half that number, perhaps more. Where in the mean time is General Hooker and our army? I get nothing satisfactory from Headquarters or Stanton. . . . Mr. Stanton called on me this morning and stated he had made an arrangement with John C. Rives to publish a military journal which he proposed to call the Army and Navy Gazette, He wished it to embrace both branches of the service unless I objected. The entire expense, over and above the receipts, whatever they may be, should be borne by the War Department. I told him I of course could make no objection to the name, and if the orders, reports, official papers, and current news were regularly and correctly published there would be some conveniences attending it.”

June 25– Thursday– Nashville, Tennessee– The Nashville Daily Press describes the commencement and program at St Cecilia’s Academy. “One of the most remarkable problems connected with our social condition is presented by the fact that while in every centre of two belligerent armies, liable to all the real dangers and distracting fears consequent upon such a situation, St. Cecilia’s Academy has suffered little, if any, relaxation from its former high degree of prosperity. . . . Such a phalanx of beauty, intelligence and gallantry, making all allowances for the multiplicity of inconveniences and deprivations of war, has not united in our midst since the peaceful days of yore. We are sure that a more lovely array of childhood never took place anywhere. The costume of the ‘little dears,’ in both junior and senior departments, was of the most elegant and fashionable prints, and in the ‘make up’ the characteristics of neatness and simplicity were unmistakable.”

five women from the Civil War period

five women from the Civil War period

June 25– Thursday– Memphis, Tennessee– The Memphis Bulletin reports on a recent disturbance at a house of ill-repute. “Several soldiers had congregated there, where they were furnished whisky, and all went on merrily for awhile; but a dispute arising between one of the soldiers and a girl, who was an inmate of the house, the controversy grew hot, and the soldier drew a pistol and fired at the girl, the ball taking effect in the side of her head and passing out behind the ear. The skull was not fractured, and consequently the wound is not dangerous. Either the girl, or another one of the soldiers, firedat the fellow who had fired at the girl without effecting anything. The police were on hand, and, with the assistance of the patrol guards, succeeded in arresting the whole crew.”

June 25– Thursday– Vicksburg, Mississippi– Union sappers complete a tunnel under a position utilized by a Confederate regiment from Louisiana. At 3:30 in the afternoon, with General Grant watching, 2200 pounds of explosive are ignited. The blast kills the six Mississippians trying to dig a countermine and makes a gigantic crater. For the 20 hours both sides battle back and forth as the Yankees attempt to exploit the damage. Union soldier Lucius Barber writes that “Occasionally we would succeed in getting hold of a paper printed in Vicksburg. It was printed on wall paper and with a miserable type, fit emblems of the waning fortunes of the Confederacy. This paper would have flaming editorials telling about Johnson, how that, at the proper moment, he would attack and annihilate Grant. It also stated that Marmaduke had captured Milliken’s Bend and cut off our supplies, and by a general system of lying had made the rebel soldiers believe that we were as good as ‘goners.’”

Vicksburg under bombardment

Vicksburg under bombardment

June 26– Friday– Off the coast of Maine–A Confederate ship captures a Union coastal vessel; however, in a Federal counter-attack, the Confederate crew is captured.

June 26– Friday– New York City– Admiral Andrew Foote dies at age 56. An ardent anti-slavery man, Foote served from 1849 through 1851 in the West Africa squadron to suppress international slave trade. He became a hero in the North for his key role in Union victories of 1862 at Fort Henry, Fort Donalson and Island #10 in the Mississippi River.

Union Admiral Andrew Foote

Union Admiral Andrew Foote

June 26– Friday– Caledonia, Franklin County, Pennsylvania– Near this village, Confederate soldiers destroy the Caledonia Iron Works because the facility belongs to abolitionist Congressman Thaddeus Stevens.

Radical Republiucn Congressman Thaddeus Stevens

Radical Republiucn Congressman Thaddeus Stevens

June 26– Friday– Franklin County, Pennsylvania– Amos Stouffer describes the day. “A wet, rainy day. The rebs are in Newburg. Took about 100 head of cattle. They are every place you hear off in this part of the State, taking [a] great many horses & cattle. Lee’s whole army is in our valley-about 90,000 men. We do not know where Hooker is with our army. Some say on the Potomac by Williamsport, others at Baltimore. Self at the mountains with the horses. Do not know where Ben & Andy are. Think at Miller’s or at Harrisburg.”

June 26– Friday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– Rachel Cormany commits her worries to her diary and herself to God. “O it seems dreadful to be thus thrown into the hands of the rebels & to be thus excluded from all the rest of the world–I feel so very anxious about Mr. Cormany–& who knows when we will hear from any of our friends again. It is no use to try to get away from here now–we must just take our chance with the rest– trusting in God as our Savior then come life come death if reconciled with God all is well– My God help me– I do wish to be a real true & living Christian.”

June 26– Friday– camp near Poolesville, Maryland– Union Colonel Charles Russell Lowell writes to William Whiting, the Solicitor in War Department, about the burning of Darien, Georgia. “If burning and pillaging is to be the work of our black regiments, no first-rate officers will be found to accept promotion in them; it is not war, it is piracy . . . . Without first-rate officers (and even with them) expeditions in which pillaging is attempted by order will infallibly degenerate into raids in which indiscriminate pillaging will be the rule . . . . Public opinion is not yet decided in favor of black troops; it is merely suspended, in order to see the experiment tried. I do not believe it can be made favorable to their employment if it sees only such results as these; unfavorable public opinion will still further increase the difficulty of getting good officers, and so on ad infinitum. Of the absolute right and wrong of the case, I say nothing, and of the effect upon the black race, for those are outside questions: but in a military point of view, I think the net result of Darien expeditions will be against us.”:

June 26– Friday– Hoover’s Gap, Tennessee– Union forces successfully conclude a three day fight, continuing to drive back Confederate forces in Middle Tennessee. Total Union casualties are 583, Confederate casualties are unknown.

June 26– Friday– Memphis, Tennessee– The Memphis Bulletin reports on “unladylike” activities. “It would not be expected that the gentle sex would become so ungentle as to endeavor to carry concealed weapons; yet, such is the case with two Minervas who are now confined within ‘Dame Irving’s embrace,’ and ‘lodging to be free.’ It seems that these ladies forgot that we were living in a military age, and attempted to carry concealed pistols through the lines to their rebel friends. A sharp corporal, however, who happened to be on picket duty, proved too sharp to be imposed upon; so, finding the weapons and guessing the intent, our traveling ladies were furnished rooms in the Irving Hotel.”

Nancy Hart Douglas, rebel spy

Nancy Hart Douglas, rebel spy

June 26– Friday– Port Hudson, Louisiana– In a series of quick sallies, the Confederates capture several Union outposts.

June 26– Friday– New Orleans, Louisiana– Sarah Morgan celebrates in the pages of her diary. “O praise the Lord, O my soul! Here is good news enough to make me happy for a month! . . . . Lee has crossed the Potomac on his way to Washington with one hundred and sixty thousand men. . . . It is so delightful to see these frightened Yankees! One has only to walk downtown to be satisfied of the alarm that reigns. . . . Men congregated at corners whispering cautiously. These were evidently Confederates who had taken the oath. Solitary Yankees straggled along with the most lugubrious faces, troubling no one. We walked down to Blineau’s with Mrs. Price, and over our ice-cream she introduced her husband, who is a true blue Union man, though she, like ourselves, is a rank Rebel. Mr. Price, on the eve of making an immense fortune, was perfectly disconsolate at the news. Every one was to be ruined; starvation would follow if the Confederates entered; there was never a more dismal, unhappy creature. Enchanted at the news, I naturally asked if it were reliable. ‘Perfectly!’”

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