Slavery Will Be Sent Out by this Agony~July 1863~the 30th & 31st

Slavery Will Be Sent out by this Agony~Harriet Beecher Stowe

The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia seems to be short of feed for its animals. The United States makes a treaty with the Northwest Shoshone people. President Lincoln and his cabinet meet an impressive member of General Grant’s staff. Harriet Beecher Stowe writes to a friend in England about writers, slavery and British attitudes about the American war. The solicitor of the War Department writes a legal opinion about black soldiers and slavery. President Lincoln takes a firm stand with the Confederacy about the treatment of black soldiers, particularly, for each and every black soldier or white officer from black regiments executed by the South, a Confederate prisoner will be executed.

At last, two months of long and hard campaigns draw to a close. What will happen next? Is peace or at least a cease-fire close at hand? Is either side so decimated by casualties that operations are impossible? Might Britain intervene or at least extend diplomatic recognition to the Confederacy? Will either side see more changes at the highest levels of command? What is the significance of the New York riots? Will Lincoln enforce the draft law? Is more bloody fighting yet to come? Is the Confederacy permanently severed or can it regain control of the lower Mississippi River? It seems for a moment that both sides stop and take a deep breath. But not for long. Campaigns through the end of summer and into the fall will continue to make 1863 the bloodiest and most fateful year of the Civil War.


July 30– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln issues an order regarding the treatment of prisoners. “It is the duty of every government to give protection to its citizens, of whatever class, color, or condition, and especially to those who are duly organized as soldiers in the public service. The law of nations and the usages and customs of war, as carried on by civilized powers, permit no distinction as to color in the treatment of prisoners of war as public enemies. To sell or enslave any captured person on account of his color, and for no offense against the laws of war, is a relapse into barbarism and a crime against the civilization of the age. The Government of the United States will give the same protection to all its soldiers, and if the enemy shall sell or enslave anyone because of his color the offense shall be punished by retaliation upon the enemy’s prisoners in our possession. It is therefore ordered, That for every soldier of the United States killed in violation of the laws of war a rebel soldier shall be executed, and for every one enslaved by the enemy or sold into slavery a rebel soldier shall be placed at hard labor on the public works and continued at such labor until the other shall be released and receive the treatment due to a prisoner of war.”

July 30– Thursday– Madison Court House, Virginia– Confederate soldier Michael Garber updates his sister Kate. “Our Horses are almost completely broken down, can scarcely drag the Guns, this morning is the first corn they have been fed for 20 days, as we are near the Rail now we will be able to get good feed for them. . . . I am very badly off for Shirts. I have to borrow one until I can have mine washed. I have but the one. Our Corps is the only part of the army encamped here, do not know where the rest of the army is, it is said that we will move in the direction of Gordonsville in a few days.”

July 30– Thursday– Greenfield Township, Michigan– Birth of Henry Ford, American business man. He is the first of five children born to William and Mary Litogot Ford.

Shoshone encampment

Shoshone encampment

July 30– Thursday– Box Elder, Utah Territory– The United States and representatives of the Northwest Shoshone people sign a treaty of peace. In part the key provisions are “The several routes of travel through the Shoshone country, now or hereafter used by white men, shall be and remain forever free and safe for the use of the government of the United States, and of all emigrants and travelers under its authority and Protection, without molestation or injury from any of the people of the said nation. And if depredations should at any time be committed by bad men of their nation, the offenders shall be immediately seized and delivered up to the proper officers of the United States, to be punished as their offences shall deserve; and the safety of all travelers passing peaceably over said routes is hereby guaranteed by said nation. Military agricultural settlements and military posts may be established by the President of the United States along said routes; ferries may be maintained over the rivers wherever they may be required; and houses erected and settlements formed at such points as may be necessary for the comfort and convenience of travelers” and “the United States agree to increase the annuity to the Shoshonee Nation five thousand dollars, to be paid in the manner provided in said treaty. And the said northwestern bands hereby acknowledge to have received of the United States, at the signing of these articles, provisions and goods to the amount of two thousand dollars, to relieve their immediate necessities, the said bands having been reduced by the war to a state of utter destitution.”

July 31– Friday– Andover, Massachusetts– Harriet Beecher Stowe writes a lengthy letter to her friend, Elizabeth Georgiana, The Duchess of Argyll. “So many, good and noble, have passed away whose friendship was such a pride, such a comfort to me! Your noble father. Lady Byron, Mrs. Browning, – their spirits are as perfect as ever passed to the world of light.” About Ann Isabella Byron and Elizabeth Barrett Browning she adds, “I have lost Lady Byron. Her great heart, her eloquent letters, would have been such a joy to me! And Mrs. Browning, oh such a heroic woman! None of her poems can express what she was, – so grand, so comprehending, so strong, with such inspired insight! She stood by Italy through its crisis. Her heart was with all good through the world.” However, in the longest part of her letter Stowe discusses the lack of English sympathy for the Union cause and the struggle against slavery. “The utter failure of Christian, anti-slavery England, in those Instincts of a right heart which always can see where the cause of liberty lies, has been as bitter a grief to me as was the similar prostration of all our American religious people in the day of the Fugitive Slave Law. Exeter Hall is a humbug, a pious humbug, like the rest. Lord Shaftesbury. Well, let him go; he is a Tory, and has, after all, the instincts of his class. But I saw your duke’s speech to his tenants! That was grand! If he can see these things, they are to be seen, and why cannot Exeter Hall see them? It is simply the want of the honest heart. Why do the horrible barbarities of Southern soldiers cause no comment? Why is the sympathy of the British Parliament reserved for the poor women of New Orleans, deprived of their elegant amusement of throwing vitriol into soldiers’ faces, and practicing indecencies inconceivable in any other state of society? Why is fill expression of sympathy on the Southern side? There is a class of women in New Orleans whom Butler protects from horrible barbarities, that up to his day have been practiced on them by these so-called New Orleans ladies, but British sympathy has ceased to notice them. You see I am bitter. I am. You wonder at my brother. He is a man, and feels a thousand times more than I can, and deeper than all he ever has expressed, the spirit of these things. You must not wonder, therefore. Remember it is the moment when every nerve is vital; it is our agony; we tread the winepress alone, and they whose cheap rhetoric has been for years pushing us into it now desert en masse. . . . . Slavery will be sent out by this agony. We are only in the throes and ravings of the exorcism. The roots of the cancer have gone everywhere, but they must die – will. Already the Confiscation Bill is its natural destruction. Lincoln has been too slow. He should have done it sooner, and with an impulse, but come it must, come it will. Your mother will live to see slavery abolished, unless England forms an alliance to hold it up. England is the great reliance of the slave-power to-day, and next to England the faltering weakness of the North, which palters and dare not fire the great broadside for fear of hitting friends. These thing’s must be done, and sudden, sharp remedies are mercy. Just now we are in a dark hour; but whether God be with us or not, I know He is with the slave, and with his redemption will come the solution of our question.”

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Harriet Beecher Stowe

July 31– Friday– Washington, D.C.– Navy Secretary Gideon Welles: “I met at the President’s, and was introduced by him to, Colonel Rawlins of General Grant’s staff. He arrived yesterday with the official report of the taking of Vicksburg and capture of Pemberton’s army. Was much pleased with him, his frank, intelligent, and interesting description of men and account of army operations. His interview with the President and Cabinet was of nearly two hours’ duration, and all, I think, were entertained by him. His honest, unpretending, and unassuming manners pleased me; the absence of pretension, and I may say the unpolished and unrefined deportment, of this earnest and sincere man, patriot, and soldier pleased me more than that of almost any officer whom I have met. He was never at West Point and has had few educational advantages, yet he is a soldier, and has a mind which has served his general and his country well. He is a sincere and earnest friend of Grant, who has evidently sent him here for a purpose.” [John A Rawlins, 1831-1869, serves as Grant’s chief staff officer and is a close friend and influential advisor. The “purpose” is Grant’s advancement, perhaps as much or more the purpose of Rawlins than Grant himself.]

John A Rawlins

John A Rawlins

July 31– Friday– Washington, D.C.– William Whiting, age 50, a graduate of the law department at Harvard and serving as Solicitor to the War Department issues his advisory opinion about the status of black soldiers. “Since the Conscription act makes no distinction between white and colored citizens, but requires them equally to be enrolled and drafted in the forces of the United States, there seems to be no reason why such citizens should not, when volunteering to serve the country, be placed upon the same footing with other soldiers as regards their pay and bounty. The attention of Congress will be directed to this subject, and from the generous manner in which they have treated the soldiers heretofore, it cannot be doubted that they will honor themselves by doing full justice to those of every color, who rally round the Union flag in time of public danger. But I do not forget that the colored soldiers are not fighting for pay. They will not let their enemies reproach them with being mean as well as cowardly. They will not lose this, their first chance, to vindicate their right to be called and treated as men. Pay or no pay, they will rally round that banner of freedom which shall soon float over a country that contains no slaves within its borders. The policy of the Government is fixed and immovable. Congress has passed the irrevocable acts of emancipation. The Supreme Court of the United States have unanimously decided that since July 13, 1861, we have been engaged in a territorial civil war, and have full belligerent rights against the inhabitants of the rebellious districts. The President has issued proclamations under his hand and seal. Abraham Lincoln takes no backward step. A man once made free by law cannot be again made a slave. The Government has no power, if it had the will to do it. Omnipotence alone can reenslave a freeman. Fear not the Administration will ever take the back track. The President wishes the aid of all Americans, of whatever descent or color, to defend the country. He wishes every citizen to share the perils of the contest, and to reap the fruits of victory.”

William Whiting

William Whiting

July 31– Friday– Pleasant Hills, Alabama– Birth of Sidney J Catts, politician who will serve as governor of Florida from 1917 to 1921.


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