Meade’s Dispatch is Good~July 2, 1863

Meade’s Dispatch Is Good

As the day’s hard fighting goes at Gettysburg, President Lincoln worries, President Jeff Davis offers to negotiate on the exchange of prisoners, Mary Lincoln is injured and internal distrust brews within Lincoln’s Cabinet. The siege drags on at Port Hudson. Federal forces continue to push back the Confederate forces in Tennessee. Colonel Shaw charms Charlotte Forten Grimke and complains about the pay reduction forced upon his soldiers.

July 2– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln spends most of the day in the telegraph office at the War Department reading dispatches from Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Civil War field telegraphy

Civil War field telegraphy

July 2– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– Mary Lincoln suffers some minor injuries from a carriage accident. According to a newspaper account, “Her horses took fright and ran away as she was riding from the Soldier’s Home to the city. Seeing her imminent danger she leaped from the carriage, and was stunned and severely bruised, but no bones were broken. Surgeons from Mount Pleasant Hospital were promptly in attendance. She soon recovered sufficiently to be taken to the White House.”

Mary Todd Lincoln

Mary Todd Lincoln

July 2– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– Navy Secretary Gideon Welles writes of the day’s events and criticizes two fellow Cabinet members. “Met [Senator Charles] Sumner and went with him to the War Department. The President was there, and we read dispatches received from General Meade. There was a smart fight, but without results, near Gettysburg yesterday. A rumor is here that we have captured six thousand prisoners, and on calling again this evening at the War Department I saw a telegram which confirms it. General Reynolds is reported killed. The tone of Meade’s dispatch is good. . . . . Mr. Montgomery Blair said Stanton was talking Secession to one class, and holding different language to another; . . . . During the winter of 1860 and 1861, Stanton was betraying the Buchanan Administration to Seward, disclosing its condition and secrets, and that for his treachery to his then associates and his becoming the tool of Seward, he was finally brought into the present Cabinet. These things I have heard from others also, and there have been some facts and circumstances to corroborate them within my own knowledge. Mr. Seward, who has no very strong convictions and will never sacrifice his life for an opinion, had no belief that the insurrection would be serious or of long continuance. . . . . he entertained no doubt that he should have equal success in bringing about a satisfactory result in national affairs by meeting exaction with concessions.” [From December 20, 1860 up to Lincoln’s inauguration on March 4, 1861, Stanton, a life-long Democrat, served as President James Buchanan’s Attorney General. Blair, a graduate of West Point and from a slave-holding Kentucky family, had become strongly anti-slavery after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act for which Buchanan dismissed him from the post of solicitor in the Court of Claims. He eventually joined the Republican Party and President Lincoln made him Postmaster General in the current administration. He and Welles are strong allies and both dislike Stanton and Seward.]

July 2– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– President Jefferson Davis drafts a letter to President Lincoln to be hand delivered under a flag of truce by Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederate States, in an attempt to negotiate issues on the treatment of prisoners and civilians and issues of property, which includes slaves, although Davis does not explicitly mention slaves. “With the view, then, of making one last solemn attempt to avert such calamities, and to attest my earnest desire to prevent them, if it be possible, I have selected the bearer of this letter, the Honorable Alexander H. Stephens, as a military commissioner to proceed to your headquarters under flag of truce, there to confer and agree on the subjects above mentioned ; and I do hereby authorize the said Alexander H. Stephens to arrange and settle all differences and disputes which may have arisen or may arise in the execution of the cartel for exchange of prisoners of war, heretofore agreed on between our respective land and naval forces ; also to agree to any just modification that may be found necessary to prevent further misunderstandings as to the terms of said cartel; and finally, to enter into such arrangement or understanding about the mode of carrying on hostilities between the belligerents as shall confine the se verities of the war within such limits as are rightfully imposed, not only by modern civilization, but by our common Christianity.”

July 2– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– Clerk John Jones notes the state of things. “The President is unwell again; to what extent I have not learned. But the Vice-President is ready, no doubt, to take his place in the event of a fatal result; and some would rejoice at it. Such is the mutability of political affairs! The Attorney-General Watts, being referred to, sends in a written opinion that foreigners sojourning here, under the protection of the Confederate States, are liable to military duty, in defense of their homes, against any government but the one to which they claim to owe allegiance.”

July 2– Thursday– St Helena Island, South Carolina– Union Colonel Robert Gould Shaw writes to Governor Andrew of Massachusetts to express concern for his troops. “We are now encamped in a healthy place, close to the harbor, where we get the sea breeze. You have probably seen the order from Washington which cuts down the pay of colored troops from $13 to $10. Of course if this affects Massachusetts regiments, it will be a great piece of injustice to them, as they were enlisted on the express understanding that they were to be on precisely the same footing as all other Massachusetts troops. In my opinion they should be mustered out of the service or receive the full pay which was promised them. The paymaster here is inclined to class us with the contraband regiments, and pay the men only $10. If he does not change his mind, I shall refuse to have the regiment paid until I hear from you on the subject. And at any rate I trust you will take the matter in hand, for every pay-day we shall have the same trouble unless there is a special order to prevent it. Another change that has been spoken of was the arming of Negro troops with pikes instead of firearms. Whoever proposed it must have been looking for a means of annihilating Negro troops altogether, I should think– or have never been under a heavy musketry fire, nor observed its effects. The project is now abandoned, I believe. My men are well and in good spirits.”

Robert Gould Shaw~"Blue-eyed Child of Fortune"

Robert Gould Shaw~”Blue-eyed Child of Fortune”

July 2– Thursday– St Helena Island, South Carolina– Charlotte Forten Grimke describes her day. “Colonel Shaw and Major Hallowell came to take tea with us and afterwards stayed for the shout [prayer meeting]. . . . I am perfectly charmed with Colonel Shaw. He seems to me in every way one of the most delightful persons I have ever met. There is something girlish about him, and yet I never saw anyone more manly. . . . . He said he would like to have some of the hymns to send home. I shall be only too glad to copy them for him. Old Maurice surpassed himself tonight in singing ‘The Talles’ Tree in Paradise.’”

Charlotte Forten Grimke

Charlotte Forten Grimke

July 2– Thursday– Morris’s Ford, Tennessee; Elk River, Tennessee; Rock Creek Ford, Tennessee; Estill Spings, Tennessee; Pelham Tennessee and Elk River Bridge, Tennessee– General Rosecrans’ Federal troops keep a hard press against the Confederate soldiers of General Bragg.

July 2– Thursday– Springfield Landing, Louisiana– A Confederate attempt to draw off some of the Union besiegers of Port Hudson is beaten back in a hard skirmish.

July 2– Thursday– Cabin Creek, Indian Territory [now Oklahoma]– A Union wagon train carrying supplies and accompanied by cavalry beats back a Confederate attack, inflicting a total of 63 casualties on the attackers while sustaining 23 casualties themselves.

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