Manliness & Patriotism & High Courage~July, 1863~the 24th to the 26th

Manliness and Patriotism and High Courage~ Charles Russell Lowell

As the news spreads about the attack upon Fort Wagner many mourn the death of Colonel Shaw. His soldiers consider the rebels’ treatment of the Colonel’s body to be disgraceful. President Lincoln orders the U S Navy to tread lightly in dealing with neutrals. Gideon Welles complains of General Meade’s inactivity. Harper’s Weekly criticizes the mob in New York City. President Davis deals with a free press problem. [Is it treason for an editor to speak his mind?] Federals finally capture John Hunt Morgan. A sad and exhausted Charlotte Forten Grimke decides to return to New England.

July 24– Friday– Washington, D.C.– Gideon Welles complains about Meade’s inactivity. “While something efficient is being done by Union generals with small commands, the old complaint of inactivity and imbecility is again heard against the great Army of the Potomac. Meade is– I say it in all kindness– unequal to his position, cannot grasp and direct so large a command, would do better with a smaller force and more limited field, or as second under a stronger and more able general. If he hesitates like McClellan, it is for a different reason. Since the Battle of Gettysburg he has done nothing but follow Lee at a respectful distance.”

July 24– Friday– Centerville, Virginia– Union Colonel Charles Russell Lowell writes to his sweetheart, Effie Shaw. “‘Each and All’ is a true poem and in Emerson’s best strain, but don’t misunderstand it ; Emerson doesn’t mean to bring in question the reality of beauty, or the substantial truth of our youth’s hopes, but he has seen how unripe and childish is the desire to appropriate, and how futile the attempt must always be. He does not lament over this, perhaps he rather rejoices over it– everything is ours to enjoy, nothing is ours to encage; open, we are as wide as Nature; closed, we are too narrow to enjoy a seashell’s beauty. I wonder whether you will ever like Wordsworth as much as I do– I wonder whether I liked him as much when I was only ‘nineteen.’ . . . . he is rather a cold customer, not an ardent Protestant, and yet far from Catholic; but then he lived pretty high up and a good deal alone.”

Zebulon Vance

Zebulon Vance

July 24– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– President Davis writes to Zebulon Vance, Governor of North Carolina about a report that a newspaper editor in the state is “engaged in the treasonable purpose of exciting the people of North Carolina to resistance against their Government, and co-operation with the enemy.” He asks Governor Vance, “If . . . the facts stated . . . be true (and the author is entitled to the greatest credit), the case is quite grave enough for me to consult with you on the subject, and to so licit from you such information and advice as you may be able to give me, for the purpose of such joint or separate action as may be proper to defeat designs fraught with great danger to our common country. I write you confidentially, because there may be error or exaggeration in the reports about this man, and I would be unwilling to injure him by giving publicity to the charges, if there be no foundation for them.”

July 24– Friday– Morris Island, South Carolina– James Gooding, a soldier in the 54th Massachusetts, writes a report for the Mercury about the assault on Fort Wagner. “We have since learned by the flag-of-truce boat that Colonel Shaw is dead– he was buried in a trench with 45 of his men! not even the commonest respect paid to his rank. Such conduct is in striking contrast to the respect paid a rebel Major, who was killed on James Island. The Commander of the 54th regiment had the deceased rebel officer buried with all the honors of war granted by the regulations; and they have returned the compliment by tossing him into a ditch. We hope the London Times will make note of that fact. They did not say how many of our men they had buried, beyond the 45 with the Colonel, nor how many of them they have as prisoners; they merely said they would not exchange them then, but should hold them for future consideration. So we can give no definite news of those who are killed or prisoners. We have never been allowed to approach near enough to hold any parley with them since the night of the assault.” He goes on to describe the present state of the regiment and its losses to date. “The regiment is hardly fit for service in the field at present for want of officers. Captains Russell and Simpkins have never been heard of since the memorable night of the 18th. All the other company commanders are so severely wounded that it is feared some of them will never be able to resume the field again, and it is to be hoped that the steps for reorganizing the regiment will be speedily taken. It is due to what few officers we have left with us, to reward them with a step higher up the ladder. Colonel Littlefield, of the 3rd S.C. Regiment, has temporary charge of the 54th. . . . . The total number of men now killed, wounded and missing, is 357. It is estimated that about 70 of the wounded will be again fit for service.”


July 24– Friday– Beaufort, South Carolina– Charlotte Forten Grimke receives confirmation of bad news. “To-day the news of Colonel Shaw’s death is confirmed. There can no longer be any doubt. It make me sad, sad at heart.”

July 25– Saturday– New York City–Harpers Weekly addresses the recent riots. “There was nothing peculiar to New York, or to the Irish race in this riot of Monday. Precisely similar mobs have been seen in Paris, London, Vienna, Naples, and Canton. They are explosions of the volcanic element which lies dormant in the heart of every large city. Nor does the riot imply, as some of the papers try to have us believe, any such general disapproval of the Conscription law as should lead to its alteration or suspension. Though the draft was the original cause of the riot, it soon took the more familiar direction of an anti-negro demonstration, such as used to occur in this city at intervals of ten years or so before the Revolution of 1776, similar in kind to the no-popery riots of Lord George Gordon, in London, and the Jacobin riots in Paris during the revolution. Toward the close of the day, the rage of the mob was exclusively directed against colored people, who had no more to do with enforcing the Conscription Act than the Pope of Rome.”

July 25– Saturday– New York City– George Templeton Strong laments. “It is amazing the amount of detriment done to our moral sense by the slavery system that has been legally and constitutionally forced upon us for so many years. . . . . We seem to make little progress toward Charleston. There are rumors of repulse before Fort Wagner, and of the death of Colonel Shaw (Francis G Shaw’s son) who commanded a Negro regiment from Massachusetts.”

July 25– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln issues an executive order to Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles requiring that the U S Navy observe the greatest care and respect when near neutral ports and when dealing with the citizens and ships of neutral countries. “My dear sir, it is not intended to be insinuated that you have been remiss in the performance of the arduous and responsible duties of your Department, which, I take pleasure in affirming, has in your hands been conducted with admirable success. Yet, while your subordinates are almost of necessity brought into angry collision with the subjects of foreign states, the representatives of those states and yourself do not come into immediate contact for the purpose of keeping the peace, in spite of such collisions. At that point there is an ultimate and heavy responsibility upon me. What I propose is in strict accordance with international law, and is therefore unobjectionable; whilst, if it does no other good, it will contribute to sustain a considerable portion of the present British ministry in their places, who, if displaced, are sure to be replaced by others more unfavorable to us.”

July 25– Saturday– near Warrenton, Virginia– Union officer Elisha Hunt Rhodes records that when his hungry soldiers reached this area yesterday, they found and ate plenty of blackberries. “They were good, too, for we were nearly starved. It is reported that we are to remain here for a few days and receive clothing for the men, which is much needed.”

Elisha Hunt Rhodes

Elisha Hunt Rhodes

July 25– Saturday– London, England– Birth of Alison Skipworth, a/k/a Alison Mary Elliott Margaret Groom. As an actress she will have a career on Broadway and in Hollywood, making her last film in 1930.


Alison Skipworth

Alison Skipworth

July 26– Sunday– Salineville, Ohio– A cavalry force of 2600 Union soldiers captures Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and the small remainder of his force. Morgan and most of his officers are taken to the Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus.

July 26– Sunday– Confederate camp near Luray, Virginia– Jedediah Hotchkiss writes to his wife Sara. “Moved up to the foot of the Mountain yesterday, 3 miles from Luray and there rest for the holy Sabbath & it is a lovely morning, giving promise of a joyous day for inanimate nature, for it rained hard last night, with thunder & lightning & tempered the fervent heats of the past few days, laid the dust & worked the face of creation– we shall all enjoy this much needed rest, animals as well as men, and then the pasturage here is very fine. I saw Sam Chapman yesterday, he said his mother was very low, could hardly survive — I hope my bundle has reached you by this time – and I hope too I may soon hear from you, I have not heard in so long that I feel quite uneasy– Lt. Smith goes up today & I send this horrid note by him — I am in excellent health, thank a kind Providence, and doing very well, only earnestly wishing that this war may cease & I permitted to return once more, but still I am for fighting this war out, and hope it may not last long.”

July 26– Sunday– Union camp near Centreville, Virginia– Colonel Charles Russell Lowell writes to his mother. “You will write me, I know, all you learn about the Fifty-Fourth, I see that General Beauregard believes Bob Shaw was killed in a fight on the 18th. I hope and trust he is mistaken. He will be a great loss to his regiment and to the service, and you know what a loss he will be to his family and friends. He was to me one of the most attractive men I ever knew, he had such a single and loyal and kindly heart ; I don’t believe he ever did an unkind or thoughtless act without trying to make up for it afterwards. Effie says he never did (I mean she has said so, of course I have not heard from her since this news).” Later that day, he writes to Effie Shaw, his sweetheart and sister to Robert Gould Shaw. “Cousin John has just sent me the report about dear Rob. It does not seem to me possible this should be true about Rob. Was not he preeminently what ‘Every man in arms should wish to be ?’ The manliness and patriotism and high courage of such a soldier never die with him ; they live in his comrades, it should be the same with the gentleness and thoughtfulness which made him so loveable a son and brother and friend. As you once wrote, he never let the sun go down upon an unkind or thoughtless word.”

July 26– Sunday– Dead Buffalo Lake, Dakota Territory [now North Dakota]– Federal soldiers skirmish with members of the Sioux Nation who are led by Sitting Bull, Gall and Inkpaduta.

July 26– Sunday– St Helena Island, South Carolina– Having returned from several days of nursing wounded survivors of the 54th Massachusetts, Charlotte Forten Grimke decides to return to the North. “Had a long talk with him [Dr Rogers], after which came to the sudden determination to go North in the next steamer. It is necessary for my health, therefor it is wiser to go. My strength has failed rapidly of late.”

Charlotte Forten Grimke

Charlotte Forten Grimke

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