Brag and Bluster and Bloodthirstiness~July 1863~the 10th to the 12th

Brag and Bluster and Bloodthristiness~George Templeton Strong

General Lee and his soldiers prepare for another big battle. Navy Secretary Welles worries that such a battle will not happen. President Lincoln is satisfied– so far. Walt Whitman tries to reassure his mother. The 54th Massachusetts prepares to attack Fort Wagner. Sarah Morgan feels upset by Yankee loyalists in the streets of New Orleans. Arthur Fremantle complains about uncomfortable travel and praises the marvel of a sleeper railroad car. Charles Francis Adams warns Britain about selling ships to the Confederacy while Secretary Seward warns France that recognition of the Confederacy would be seen as a hostile act. The threat of war over the situation in Poland worries many European capitals. Britain threatens Japan over the death of a British subject in September of 1862.

July 10– Friday– Williamsport, Maryland– Uncertain as to how close Federal forces may be, Confederate General Lee sends a message to his cavalry commander, General Jeb Stuart. We must prepare for a vigorous battle, and trust in the mercy of God and the valor of our troops. Get your men in hand, and have everything ready.”

July 10– Friday– Washington, D.C.– Walt Whitman tries to allay his mother’s fears. “We are having pleasant weather here still. I go to Campbell Hospital this afternoon. I still keep going, mother, the wounded are doing rather badly I am sorry to say, there are frequent deaths. The weather, I suppose, which has been peculiarly bad for wounds, so wet & warm, (though not disagreeable outdoors). Mother, you must write as often as you can . . . you must not get worried about the ups & downs of the war. I don’t know any course but to resign ones self to events– if one can only bring one’s mind to it.”

July 10– Friday– Washington, D.C.– Secretary of State Seward advises the U S Minister to France to inform the French government that diplomatic recognition of the Confederacy would be viewed by the United States as a hostile act.

July 10– Friday– Washington, D.C.– Secretary of the Navy Welles evaluates the army’s efforts. “I am assured that our army is steadily, but I fear too slowly, moving upon Lee and the Rebels. There are, I hope, substantial reasons for this tardiness. Why cannot our army move as rapidly as the Rebels? The high water in the river has stopped them, yet our troops do not catch up. It has been the misfortune of our generals to linger, never to avail themselves of success, to waste, or omit to gather, the fruits of victory. Only success at Gettysburg and Vicksburg will quiet the country for the present hesitancy.”

July 10– Friday– Detroit, Michigan– Birth of Ellen Warren Scripps Booth, philanthropist and patron of the arts. In her lifetime she will make gifts of over $20,000,000.

July 10– Friday– New Orleans, Louisiana– Sarah Morgan laments the bad news. “Shall I cry, faint, scream, or go off in hysterics? Tell me which, quickly; for to doubt this news is fine and imprisonment, and if I really believe it I would certainly give way to my feelings and commit some vagaries of the kind. My resolution is formed! I will do neither; I won’t gratify the Yankees so much. . . . What a scene I have just witnessed! A motley crew of thousands of low people of all colors parading the streets with flags, torches, music, and all other accompaniments, shouting, screaming, exulting over the fall of Port Hudson and Vicksburg. The Era will call it an enthusiastic demonstration of the loyal citizens of the city; we who saw it from upper balconies know of what rank these ‘citizens’ were. We saw crowds of soldiers mixed up with the lowest rabble in the town, workingmen in dirty clothes, newsboys, ragged children, Negroes, and even women walking in the procession, while swarms of Negroes and low white women elbowed each other in a dense mass on the pavement. To see such creatures exulting over our misfortune was enough to make one scream with rage. One of their dozen transparencies was inscribed with ‘A dead Confederacy.’ Fools! The flames are smouldering! They will burst out presently and consume you! More than half, much more, were Negroes. As they passed here they raised a yell of ‘Down with the rebels!’ that made us gnash our teeth in silence.”

July 10– Friday– dateline: Paris, France– Today’s New York Times reports that the French government appears to be quietly preparing for war with Russia over the on-going crisis in Poland.

French soldiers, mid 19th century

French soldiers, mid 19th century

July 11– Saturday– New York City– George Templeton Strong updates his diary. “The [Sanitary] Commission has spent near twenty thousand dollars this week and received as much. It is doing an immense business around Gettysburg. . . . . I observe that the Richmond papers are in an orgasm of brag and bluster and bloodthristiness beyond all historical precedent even in their chivilric columns.”

July 11– Saturday– Johnstown, Pennsylvania– Sir Arthur James Fremantle, having left Confederate Generals Lee and Longstreet and satisfactorily proving to Union officers that he is indeed an English officer, describes the start of his journey home. “I hope I may never for my sins be again condemned to travel for thirty hours in an American stage on a used-up plank road. We changed carriages at Somerset. All my fellow travelers were of course violent Unionists; and invariably spoke of my late friends as Rebels or Rebs. . . . . Left Johnstown by train at 7.30 P. M., and by paying half a dollar, I secured a berth in a sleeping car– a most admirable and ingenious Yankee notion.”

Pullman sleeping car

Pullman sleeping car

July 11– Saturday– near Antietam Creek, Maryland– Confederate soldier Jedediah Hotchkiss to his wife Sara: “I have only time before we ride to place our troops for another sanguinary battle on the banks up the Antietam– God grant we may be successful – I am well– very well, we are all hopeful & in good spirits, never better – General Lee has issued a soul stirring address this morning – and our men will perform deeds of valor.”

July 11– Saturday– on the march in Maryland– Confederate soldier Henry Dedrick writes to his family. “As I had forgot to let you know that Joseph Grass was killed at the fight at Gettysburg. I first heard that he was only wounded but since I have that he was killed. I want you to show this to William Grass. All the creek boys is well. I don’t know where James Padgett is.”

July 11– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln sends a telegram to J K Dubois in Springfield, Illinois. “It is certain that, after three days’ fighting at Gettysburg, Lee withdrew and made for the Potomac, that he found the river so swollen as to prevent his crossing; that he is still this side, near Hagerstown and Williamsport, preparing to defend himself; and that Meade is close upon him, and preparing to attack him, heavy skirmishing having occurred nearly all day yesterday. I am more than satisfied with what has happened north of the Potomac so far, and am anxious and hopeful for what is to come.”

July 11– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– Gideon Welles complains: “I fear the Rebel army will escape, and am compelled to believe that some of our generals are willing it should. They are contented to have the War continue. Never before have they been so served nor their importance so felt and magnified, and when the War is over but few of them will retain their present importance.”

July 11– Saturday– St Helena Island, South Carolina– Several escaped slaves return to the mainland, avoid Confederate guards and help 28 other slaves escape to the safety of Federal forces on the island.

fugitive slaves escaping by boat

fugitive slaves escaping by boat

July 11– Saturday– James Island, Charleston harbor, South Carolina– Colonel Robert Gould Shaw sends a note to his wife, Annie. “This morning I got a paper from General Terry of July 7th giving an incomplete list of the killed and wounded in the Second and Twentieth Massachusetts Regiments at Gettysburg. Poor Mudge is dead, I see. It will be a terrible blow to his family. You know he was my captain when we first went out. But every one must expect to lose their friends and relatives, and consider themselves as particularly favored by Providence if they do not General Gillmore made an attack on Ft. Wagner this morning, and was repulsed. He will probably begin a regular siege now. Fort Wagner is half-way down Morris Island.”

July 11– Saturday– London, England– U S Minister Charles Francis Adams presents evidence to the British government that the ships being built by Laird Brothers at Liverpool are rams being sold to the Confederacy. Adams demands that British authorities take appropriate action.

Charles Francis Adams, Lincoln's Minister to Great Britain

Charles Francis Adams, Lincoln’s Minister to Great Britain

July 12– Sunday– New York City– The New York Times comments about a crisis brewing in Asia. “It appears from the letters of our Japanese correspondent, that England is about to plunge into another of those little Eastern wars which have so often led to great results. The time has come when Japan must either atone for the offences of her people toward British subjects, or else suffer, and already a formidable squadron of English ships is assembled in Japanese waters to commence hostilities, should the government of the Tycoon evince any disposition to reject the ultimatum which the representative of Victoria at the Court of Yeddo has addressed to it. The demands of this ultimatum are that the assassins of the two British seamen, killed in the Capital, and of Mr. Richardson, killed near Kanagawa, shall be tried and executed; that Japan shall pay a heavy pecuniary penalty in acknowledgment of her offences, and that a pecuniary compensation shall be made by her to the surviving relatives of the murdered. . . . . As Americans have suffered no outrages at the hands of the Japanese, and have no wrongs to avenge, the position assumed by the American Minister is one of perfect neutrality, and we may be assured that his best efforts will be directed to bringing about an amicable arrangement between the litigant powers. No sanguine anticipation of his success need, however, be entertained; for even were the government of the Tycoon disposed to yield, the Princes, who are the real criminals, would not permit it; while tie British are determined to proceed to extremities if ample atonement is not promptly made. But the Japanese may not be so culpable as the British allege, since the murders in question were, it is said, provoked by the arrogance of the English, and their contempt for the laws and customs of the people. The Japanese, also, are bitterly averse to all foreigners.”

Japanese image of the death of Richardson, a British subject

Japanese image of the death of Richardson, a British subject

July 12– Sunday– St Petersburg, Russia– Tsar Alexander writes to King William of Germany, urging him to win the support of Austria for Russia’s operations in Poland.

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