All Exhibited Great Determination & Courage~July 1863~the 26th to the 29th

All Exhibited Great Determination and Courage ~General James Longstreet

As the month moves to a close, the consequences of Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Fort Wagner and the New York riots touch the lives and hearts of many. Death takes two prominent figures from the American political stage. Gideon Welles expresses his distrust of France and of Great Britain. A Confederate newspaper hopes for the total desolation of the North. Russia anticipates a European war. Queen Victoria insists on British neutrality in the American war.

July 26– Sunday– Frankfurt, Kentucky– Senator John J Crittenden, who tried to avert the start of war in 1860 and ‘61 by some sort of compromise, dies at age 75. One of his sons serves in the Union Army, another in that of the Confederacy.

Senator Crittenden, 1855

Senator Crittenden, 1855

July 26– Sunday– Huntsville, Texas– Sam Houston, founding father and first President of the Republic of Texas, dies of pneumonia at age 70, his wife Margaret by his bedside. His last words are, “Texas! Texas, Margaret!”

Sam Houston

Sam Houston

July 26– Sunday– St Petersburg, Russia–The Russian government directs elements of its Atlantic and Pacific fleets to make courtesy calls at American ports. This tactic insures that Russian ships will be free of ice-bound harbors in the event of war with Britain and France in coming fall and winter months.

July 27– Monday– Gettysburg, Pennsylvania– Dr Joseph Hiester describes for his wife the care of a wounded soldier whom they know. “I have been nursing Freedley for two days and he appears to be doing well. The pain has been less I think since I have been here. . . . This wound is from a sound bullet . . . just below the knee joint. It may stiffen the joint partly, for a while, but I think finally he will have the use of it. It will take a long time however for him to have a tolerable use of his leg. He desires to be kindly remembered. . . . I have not yet had a scrape of a Pen from home. This goes to Chambersburg this afternoon and if you have not do so at once. but don’t try to telegraph as the charge is simply an Extortion which no one should countenance. That is unless something occurs to make it an imperative necessity.”

July 27– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Navy Secretary Gideon Welles does some analysis of international relations. “The Mexican Republic has been extinguished and an empire has risen on its ruins. But for this wicked rebellion in our country this calamity would not have occurred. Torn by factions, down-trodden by a scheming and designing priesthood, . . . the Mexicans are . . . unable to enjoy rational freedom. . . . I don’t expect an improvement of their condition under the sway of a ruler imposed upon them by Louis Napoleon. The last arrivals bring us some inklings of the reception of the news that has begun to get across the Atlantic of our military operations. John Bull is unwilling to relinquish the hope of our national dismemberment. There is, on the part of the aristocracy of Great Britain, malignant and disgraceful hatred of our government and people. In every way that they could, and dare, they have sneakingly aided the Rebels. The tone of their journals shows a reluctance to believe that we have overcome the Rebels, or that we are secure in preserving the Union. The Battle of Gettysburg they will not admit to have been disastrous to Lee, and they represent it as of little importance compared with Vicksburg and Port Hudson, which they do not believe can be taken. Palmerston and Louis Napoleon are as much our enemies as Jeff Davis.”

July 27– Monday– Centreville, Virginia– Colonel Charles Russell Lowell writes to his sweetheart Effie Shaw about his friend and her brother Robert Gould Shaw, killed in battle on July 16. “Will and I have been talking over the good fellows who have gone before in this war, fellows whom Rob loved so much, many of them; there is none who has been so widely and so dearly loved as he. What comfort it is to think of this, if ‘life is but a sum of love,’ Rob had had his share, and had done his share. When I think how Rob’s usefulness had latterly been increasing, how the beauty of his character had been becoming a power, widely felt, how his life had become something more than a promise, I feel as if his father’s loss were the heaviest; sometime perhaps we can make him feel that he has other sons, but now remember that in a man’s grief for a son whose manhood had just opened, as Rob’s had, there is something different from what any woman’s grief can be. That is the time to die when one is happiest, or rather I mean that is the time when we wish those we love to die; Rob was very happy too at the head of his regiment where he died.”


July 27– Monday– near Culpeper Court House, Virginia– Confederate General James Longstreet submits a report to Richmond about the Battle of Gettysburg. Near the conclusion, he says, “The troops all exhibited great determination and courage on the battle-field, which, together with the fortitude and endurance subsequently shown by them under circumstances of great trial, justly entitles them to our hearty thanks and highest praise. Major General Pickett’s division merits especial credit for the determined manner in which it assaulted the enemy’s strong position upon the Cemetery Hill.”

July 27– Monday– Cassville, Missouri; Rogersville, Kentucky; Bridgeport, Alabama; Bayou Teche, Louisiana– Skirmishes, ambushes and fire-fights.

July 28– Tuesday– Baltimore, Maryland– Union soldier Samuel Potter writes to his wife Cynthia. “There are a great many sick & wounded soldiers here in Baltimore & the hospitals are conducted in the best manner. Everything must be clean about them. The sick and wounded have the best kind of diet. Those who are not sick have to live on a very plain diet and they growl a good deal about it although they get plenty to eat. There are about 400 in this hospital none of them very sick, most of them like me, waiting to be sent to their regiments. We have no special war news here at this time & I have nothing to relate of interest as taking place here. It is very monotonous here. We have a fine view of the city & bay but that is all the good it does us now.”

July 28– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Walt Whitman describes to his mother the slow dying of a young soldier whom Whiman is nursing. “As I sit here writing to you, Mother, I wish you could see the whole scene. This young man lies within reach of me, flat on his back, his hands clasp’d across his breast, his thick hair cut close; he is dozing, breathing hard, every breath a spasm– it looks so cruel. He is a noble youngster. I consider him past all hope. Often there is no one with him for a long while. I am here as much as possible.”

July 28– Tuesday– in the vicinity of Warrenton, Virginia– Union General George Meade sends a report to Washington. “No reliable intelligence of the position of the enemy has been obtained. He pickets the Rappahannock from Fredericksburg to Rappahannock Station. These pickets, however, seem to be mere ‘lookouts’ to warn him of my approach. Some camps can be seen at Pony Mountain, near Culpeper, and in the vicinity of Cedar Mountain. Contradictory reports from citizens and scouts place the main body, some at Gordonsville, others say at Staunton and Charlottesville, and some assert the retreat has been extended to Richmond. My own expectation is that he will be found behind the line of the Rapidan, which, from all I can learn, presents a favorable line of defense, most of the fords being commanded by the southern bank, where his artillery can be used to advantage. If I can hold the railroad without too great a weakening of my force, and it proves to have the capacity to afford all the supplies needed, I shall advance until the enemy is encountered or definite information obtained of his movements.”

July 28– Tuesday– 18 miles east of Vicksburg, Mississippi– General William Tecumseh Sherman writes to his brother Senator John Sherman, encouraging the Senator to visit. “Vicksburg is worth seeing, and a glance will tell you more than reams of paper why it took us six months to take the place. I am camped near Big Black, four and one-half miles northeast of where the railroad crosses it. My depot of supplies is at the crossing. . . . . I have four divisions here much reduced, but still a good stock. In the riots of New York I recognize the second stage of this war, but I trust our Government will deal with them summarily. The war has progressed as fast and as successfully as should be.

July 29– Wednesday– New York City– Anti-black sentiment lingers in the city. Samuel Gompers, 13 at the time, English-born, arrives with his immigrant parents. Later he remembered the day. “We were all seasick except father, mother the longest of all. Father had to do all the cooking in the meanwhile and take care of the sick. There was a Negro man employed on the boat who was very kind in many ways to help father. Father did not know much about cooking. When we reached New York we landed at the old Castle Garden of lower Manhattan, now the Aquarium, where we were met by relatives and friends. As we were standing in a little group, the Negro who had befriended father on the trip, came off the boat. Father was grateful and as a matter of courtesy, shook hands with him and gave him his blessing. . . . . The onlookers, not understanding, grew very much excited over father’s shaking hands with this Negro. A crowd gathered round and threatened to hang both father and the Negro to the lamp-post.” [In a few years Gompers will become a leader of labor unions.]

Samuel Gompers

Samuel Gompers

July 29– Wednesday– Gettysburg, Pennsylvania– Wounded Union soldier H. W. Freedley to his sweetheart Maria Hiester: “This is the first letter I have written for I thought that it would be strange to dictate to your father a letter for him to write to his daughter. I am glad to hear that you are all so well. Your father never looked so well Maria I am seriously wounded. I will not be able to be moved from here with in a month, I will not write to you again. You little know the pain much exertion cost. You shall hear promptly of every change in the state of my wound through your father.”

July 29– Richmond, Virginia– The Daily Dispatch offers an analysis of international relations. “Why, it would be the delight of nearly every soul in the Southern Confederacy to see all Yankeedom turned into a howling wilderness, to see every mother’s son of them massacred, or sold into slavery, to see Boston and New York (like Tyre of old) turned into little villages, where the fishermen dried their nets. . . . . we deem it certain that England and France will never allow the Union to be reconstructed.– In that event England cannot fail to foresee the downfall of her maritime supremacy, and France the extinction of all hope of ever obtaining a permanent foothold in Mexico. As long as we fought on equal terms England was anxious to see the strife continue; but she is not anxious to see us overwhelmed, as she will be induced by the enormous lies of the Yankee newspapers to believe we are about to be. Napoleon has long been desirous to recognize the Confederacy, and now that he has planted the tricolor in Mexico, he will no longer be withheld by England. These considerations . . . induce us to believe that we shall shortly be recognized, at least by France.”

Queen Victoria, 1860

Queen Victoria, 1860

July 29– Wednesday– London, England– In a message to Parliament Queen Victoria declares that she sees “no reason to depart from the strict neutrality which Her Majesty has observed from the beginning of the contest” in the United States.

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