Monthly Archives: August 2013

Fifty Years Ago ~ August 28, 1963

I was a high school student and active in the debate club. I listened intently to the coverage of the March on Washington. Many great people in addition to Dr King ought to be remembered, honored and thanked. Here is a story about one of them from National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” program of August 15, 2013.

Bayard Rustin with Dr King

Bayard Rustin with Dr King

The trailblazing strategist behind the 1963 March on Washington will this year be posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. That’s a long way from the days when civil rights activists counted on Bayard Rustin’s hard work, but tried to push him aside because he was gay. For 60 years, Rustin fought for peace and equal rights–demonstrating, organizing and protesting in the United States and around the world.’Strategic Nonviolence’ In the summer of 1963, he was the main organizer of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. On Aug. 28, speaker after speaker roused a crowd of 250,000, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., with his seminal “I Have A Dream” speech. Rustin had less than two months to organize what was the largest demonstration the country had ever seen.”As we follow this form of mass action and strategic nonviolence,” he said, “we will not only put pressure on the government, but we will put pressure on other groups which ought by their nature to be allied with us.” Washington, D.C.’s Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton was a law student in 1963 and a volunteer for the march. Rustin was her boss. “Bayard was one of a kind, and his talent was so enormous,” she says.”The great achievement of the March on Washington is that Rustin had to work from the ground up,” Norton says. “There had been many marches from the South … but calling people from all over the country to come to Washington, the capital of the United States, was unheard of.

Rustin grew up in West Chester, Pa. In college in the 1930s, he joined the Communist Youth League for a few years, attracted by the group’s anti-racist efforts. He later embraced socialism. He was a gay black man, tall, with high cheekbones, and a gifted singer. He played a bit part in a Broadway musical alongside Paul Robeson, and Rustin often sang for his audiences as he toured the country, conducting race-relations workshops. Rustin was considered a master organizer, a political intellectual and a pacifist; he served time in prison for refusing to register for the draft. He created the first Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation on interstate buses. Along with King, Rustin was one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He had two strong mentors. A.J. Muste, the head of the pacifist organization the Fellowship of Reconciliation, hired Rustin as a youth secretary to conduct workshops and demonstrations against war and segregation.

Rustin’s other mentor was A. Philip Randolph, the head of the first predominantly black union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. “What Rustin took away from Randolph, especially, is the recognition that economic issues and racial justice issues are completely intertwined,” says his biographer, John D’Emilio.

Despite his extensive involvement in the civil rights movement, Rustin was content to remain behind the scenes, D’Emilio says.”I think of it as part of the Quaker heritage that he internalized. You don’t push yourself forward,” D’Emilio says. “It doesn’t matter if you don’t get the credit for it. What is important is this notion of speaking truth topower.”

In 1953, Rustin’s homosexuality became a public problem after he was found having sex in a parked car with two men. He was arrested on a morals charge. Later, when he was chosen to organize the 1963 march, some civil rights activists objected. In an effort to discredit the march, segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond took to the Senate floor, where he derided Rustin for being a communist, a draft dodger and a homosexual.

Ironically, author D’Emilo says, it became a rallying point for the civil rights leaders.” Because no one could appear to be on the side of Strom Thurmond,he created, unwittingly, an opportunity for Rustin’s sexuality to stop being an issue,” he says.The march was a success, and at its end, a triumphant Rustin stepped up to the microphone to read the demands that the leaders of the civilrights movement would take to President John F. Kennedy.First on the list: “effective Civil Rights legislation – no compromise, no filibuster – and that it include public accommodations, decent housing, integrated education, [fairemployment], and the right to vote.” Rustin wanted to move the civil rightsagenda from protesting to politics and to work within the system– blacks and whites together– to create jobs and other opportunities. His effort fell flat,stymied by a more militant generation and the dominant issue of the times, the Vietnam War. Rustin said, “It has split the civil rights movement down themiddle. It has caused many white people who were in it to say, ‘That must wait now until we stop Vietnam.’”

Bayard Rustin in 1963

Bayard Rustin in 1963

In his later years, Rustin continued to speak out on a variety of fronts, and his personal life also changed: He met Walter Naegle. Naegle, Rustin’s surviving partner, says that in the final years of his life, Rustin became more involved in gay rights. “He saw this as another challenge, another barrier that had to be broken down a larger struggle for human rights and for individual freedoms,” Neagle says. Or, as Rustin put it:”The barometer for judging the character of people in regards to human rights is now those who consider themselves gay, homosexual, lesbian. The judgment as to whether you can trust the future, the social advancement, depending on people, will be judged on where they come out on that question.”Activist Mandy Carter says Rustin was a visionary, understanding the parallels in the civil rights struggle and the gay rights movement. Carter is on the leadership council the National Black Justice Coalition, an LGBT civil rights group.”For me and for a lot of us who are black, and gay and lesbian, bi, trans, who see ourselves as social justice advocates as well, to have this person– such an amazing role model,” she says. Carter says there was just no one like him, and she is delighted such a key individual in the civil rights movement is now being recognized with the nation’s highest honor.Rustin died in 1987 in New York. He was 75.

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Improve the Condition of Our Men~August 1863~the 28th to the 31st

Improve the Condition of Our Men ~ Robert E Lee

Soldiers think about food and wine. Gideon Welles expresses concern about party politics. Senator Sherman thinks about post-war reconstruction. Rumors abound. As the bloody summer moves toward its close many wonder what will happen next. Both sides wonder if Lee or Meade will mount a new offensive. What will happen in Tennessee? At Charleston, South Carolina? Will Britain or France enter the war? How much longer can the Confederacy survive the blockade? Will the great bloodshed of July be repeated?

54th Massachusetts Memorial

54th Massachusetts Memorial

August 28– Friday– Washington, D.C.– Gideon Welles evaluates the state of American politics. “The Rebels are demoralized and discouraged, yet have not the manly resolution to confess it. Great is the tyranny of public opinion in all this land of ours, and little is the individual independence that is exercised. Men surrender their honest convictions to the dictates of others, often of less sense and ability than themselves. The discipline and mandates of party are omnipotent, North as well as South.”

August 28– Friday– Orange Courthouse, Virginia– Confederate soldier Marion Fitzpatrick writes to his wife Amanda. “It makes my mouth water to read of your having so many peaches. I never see one, and only a few inferior apples, which sell from one to two dollars per dozen. I see a watermelon occasionally. They sell for from five to ten dollars a piece. . . . We are doing better in the eating line than usual. We draw about equal quantities of flour and meal, beef and bacon which is much better than altogether of either.”

August 29– Saturday– Mansfield, Ohio– Senator John Sherman responds to his brother, General William Tecumseh Sherman, who has invited the senator to visit the army campaigning in the South. “I propose . . . to arrange all my business so that I may leave soon after the election, say about the 20th of October, and will then go down the river and spend all the time until the meeting of Congress. I hope to be able to go via Vicksburg, New Orleans, Charleston, to Washington. If a favorable opportunity offers at Vicksburg and New Orleans, I wish to develop my ideas as to a reconstruction of the Union. I know these will suit you a good deal better than they will the administration, but I feel quite independent of the latter and am disposed to follow my own course.”

Senator John Sherman, Republican from Ohio

Senator John Sherman, Republican from Ohio

August 30– Beverly Ford, Virginia– Union Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin writes to his wife Fanny. “I have not been well today just a temporary derangement brought on possibly after an unquiet night in consequence of having taken my brigade out (yesterday) to assist in the execution of 5 deserters. Anxiety to handle the Brigade well in the presence of so many spectators, and the painful strains on my nerves at being obliged to assist at so awful a spectacle no doubt overtaxed my not yet restored powers. . . . [William] Donnell [Chamberlin’s adjutant] came today and didn’t bring me any port wine! Now you must get two bottles of that for me and two of Madeira if you can and send by the ladies boxes or barrels: they will come straight to me in that way.”

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin

August 30– Sunday– Charleston, South Carolina– Federal artillery resumes bombardment of Fort Sumter and again inflicts heavy damage.

August 31– Monday– New York City– George Templeton Strong notes a dinner conversation. “[Surgeon General William] Hammond says that the regular regiments now in the city are destined for Texas . . . that Mexico means to recognize the Confederacy, and will be thereupon invaded and that prophets of Washington predict war with France. Not at all unlikely.”

August 31– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– General Robert E Lee sends orders to General James Longstreet. “I have wished for several days past to return to the army, but have been detained by the President. He will not listen to my proposition to leave to-morrow. I hope you will use every exertion to prepare the army for offensive operations, and improve the condition of our men and animals. I can see nothing better to be done than to endeavor to bring General Meade out and use our efforts to crush his army while in its present condition.”

General Robert E Lee, 1863

General Robert E Lee, 1863

The Spot is Too Lovely for War~August 1863~the 23rd to 27th

The Spot Is Too Lovely for War ~ Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin

The extreme bloodshed of earlier in the summer continues to effect changes and human costs. Soldiers continue to miss their loved ones. Presidents continue to deal with problems. And the wide world continues turning.

August 23– Sunday– Mamaroneck, New York– Emily Bradley Neal Haven, author and magazine editor, dies of tuberculosis at age 35, a month after birthing her fifth child. [She submitted her first published story under the pen name “Alice G Lee” and in 1846 took Alice as her first name. She published 14 books and numerous articles and stories during her life. Two volumes will be published posthumously.]

Amelie Rives

Amelie Rives

August 23– Sunday– Richmond, Virginia– Birth of Amelie Louise Rives, the oldest of three daughters born to Sarah MacMurdo Rives and Alfred Rives. [As a novelist she will write 25 novels, one of the first American authors to be influenced by the developments in psychiatry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She will cause a stir in 1895 by divorcing her husband John Armstrong Chanler and the next year will marry the renowned painter Prince Pierre Troubetzkoy.]

August 23– Sunday– Charleston, South Carolina– After firing more than 5000 shells at Fort Sumter and Fort Wagner, the Union artillery concludes the bombardment today. Sumter has one canon capable of returning fire. Both forts are now masses of rubble.

August 24– Monday– New York City– The wealthy abolitionist Francis George Shaw writes to Union General Quincy Adams Gillmore, who is in command of operations in South Carolina. “I take the liberty to address you because I am informed that efforts are to be made to recover the body of my son, Colonel Shaw of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment, which was buried at Fort Wagner. My object in writing is to say that such efforts are not authorized by me or any of my family, and that they are not approved by us. We hold that a soldier’s most appropriate burial-place is on the field where he has fallen. I shall therefore be much obliged, General, if in case the matter is brought to your cognizance, you will forbid the desecration of my son’s grave, and prevent the disturbance of his remains or those buried with him.”

August 24– Monday– New Orleans, Louisiana– Sarah Morgan takes note of a friend’s wounds. “A letter from Captain Bradford to Miriam. My poor Adonis, that I used to ridicule so unmercifully, what misfortunes have befallen him! He writes that during the siege at Port Hudson he had the top of his ear shot off (wonder if he lost any of that beautiful golden fleece~his hair?), and had the cap of his knee removed by a shell, besides a third wound he does not specify. Fortunately he is with kind friends.”

August 24– Monday– Pozega, Slovenia– Birth of Dragutin Lerman, an explorer who will make four trips to Africa between 1882 and 1896. On his first he will accompany the American Henry Stanley; his others will be under the auspices of King Leopold II of Belgium.

August 25– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln issues an executive order reopening the port of New Orleans to incoming and outgoing vessels subject to supervision by the military governor.

August 25– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa. “I have seen now so much horrors that befall men, (so bad & such suffering & mutilations, &c that the poor men can defy their fate to do any thing more or any harder misfortune or worse agony) that I sometimes think I have grown callous– but, no, I don’t think it is that, but nothing of ordinary misfortune seems as it used to, & death itself has lost all its terrors. I have seen so many cases in which it was so welcome & such a relief. Mother, you must just resign yourself to things that occur– but I hardly think it is necessary to give you any charge about it, for I think you have done so for many years, & stood it all with good courage.”

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin

August 25– Beverly Ford, Virginia– Union Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin writes to his wife Fanny, whom he misses. “How lonely it is! Here I am in a new place– a new tent– new surroundings– new duties– I feel like one making his debut. I have left the noble 20th [Maine Regiment] having been assigned by General Griffin to the command of this Brigade which he says is a ‘permanency’ for a long time, that is. This makes me virtually a Brigadier General but I feel badly to leave the 20th and shall be glad when I can return to it. I have a pleasant staff and shall get routed in a few days. . . . How the rain falls on the tent roof! Like the glorious nights before. Only now you can hear the roar at the falls close by and in full night by day. The spot is too lovely for war and for me alone.” [Chamberlin will not be officially made a brigadier general until June, 1864 when he is recovering from a nearly fatal wound.]

August 25– Tuesday– St Louis, Missouri–Federal authorities order all persons in a four county area to leave their homes unless they can prove their loyalty to the Federal government. Union soldiers begin a systematic destruction of houses and farms belonging to suspected Confederate sympathizers.

August 26– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln writes to James C Conkling. “You say that you will not fight to free Negroes. Some of them seem willing to fight for you; but no matter. Fight you, then, exclusively, to save the Union. I issued the proclamation on purpose to aid you in saving the Union. Whenever you shall have conquered all resistance to the Union, if I shall urge you to continue fighting, it will be an apt time then for you to declare you will not fight to free Negroes. I thought that in your struggle for the Union, to whatever extent the Negroes should cease helping the enemy, to that extent it weakened the enemy in his resistance to you. Do you think differently? I thought that whatever Negroes can be got to do as soldiers, leaves just so much less for white soldiers to do in saving the Union. Does it appear otherwise to you? But Negroes, like other people, act upon motives. Why should they do anything for us if we will do nothing for them? If they stake their lives for us they must be prompted by the strongest motive, even the promise of freedom. And the promise, being made, must be kept.” [Conkling, age 47, a lawyer and politician in Illinois, had asked the President to attend to a large pro-Union rally; believing that he could not spare the time away from his duties, Lincoln wrote this letter and asked Conkling to read it to the gathering. In a private note to his friend Conkling, Lincoln writes, “You are one of the best public readers. I have but one suggestion– read it very slowly. And now God bless you, and all good Union men.]

James C Conkling

James C Conkling

August 26– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– Clerk John Jones notes the shortage of fighters. “General Beauregard telegraphs for a detail of 50 seamen for his iron-clads, which he intends shall support Sumter, if, as he anticipates, the enemy should make a sudden attempt to seize it– or rather its debris– where he still has some guns, still under our flag. None of his vessels have full crews. This paper was referred to the Secretary of the Navy, and he returned it with an emphatic negative, saying that the War Department had failed to make details from the army to the navy, in accordance with an act of Congress, and hence none of our war steamers had full crews.”

August 27– Thursday– Reed’s Bridge, Arkansas; Mount Pleasant, Mississippi; Carter County, Kentucky; Elk River, West Virginia; Clark’s Neck, Kentucky; Glenville, West Virginia; Little Washington, Virginia; Ball’s Mill, West Virginia; Edward’s Ferry, Maryland; Weaverville, Virginia– Fire fights and skirmishes take a toll.

August 27– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln writes to General Schofield in St. Louis, Missouri, about the savage destruction of Lawrence, Kansas. “I have just received the despatch which follows, from two very influential citizens of Kansas . . . . The severe blow they have received naturally enough makes them intemperate even without there being any just cause for blame. Please do your utmost to give them future security and to punish their invaders.”

August 27– Thursday– Warrenton, Virginia– Union General John Buford submits a detailed report about his division’s operations at Gettysburg. He concludes by writing, “The zeal, bravery, and good behavior of the officers and men on the night of June 30, and during July 1, was commendable in the extreme. A heavy task was before us; we were equal to it, and shall all remember with pride that at Gettysburg we did our country much service. July 2, the division became engaged with the enemy’s sharpshooters on our left, and held its own until relieved by Gen. Sickles’ corps, after which it moved to Taneytown, and bivouacked for the night.”

General John Buford

General John Buford

August 27– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– The Richmond Sentinel notes that “General Robert E. Lee is in the city on a short visit. He looks to be in excellent health, nor at least fatigued by his recent arduous campaign.”

August 27– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia–“The disasters in Mississippi were both great and unexpected to me. I had thought that the troops sent to the State, added to those already there, made a force large enough to accomplish the destruction of Grant’s army. That no such result followed may have been the effect of mismanagement, or it may have been that it was unattainable. An investigation of the causes of the failure is now in progress; though, as the misfortunes have already come upon us, it would afford me but little satisfaction to know that they resulted from bad Generalship and were not inevitable. Recent events near their own homes have been calculated to produce in some minds the feeling of gloom . . . . But I have not yet seen cause to waver in the conviction to which I have frequently given expression, that, if our people now show as much fortitude as we are entitled to expect from those who display such conspicuous gallantry in the field, we shall certainly beat the enemy and secure our independence. . . . The recital of your losses during the war pains me. But the firmness with which you bear them– and the zeal in the country’s behalf which characterizes you and all the members of your family, are what I had expected – as well as the loyalty & true-heartedness of the women of the land, upon which you remark.” ~ Letter from President Davis to James Howry.

The Questions Are of Vast Magnitude~August 17th to 22nd

The Questions Are of Vast Magnitude~Gideon Welles

President Lincoln reveals his favorites among the works of Shakespeare. Members of his Cabinet discuss reconstruction after the war. The draft, enforced by the presence of Federal troops, resumes in New York City. Confederate-held forts Wagner and Sumter in Charleston harbor endure heavy bombardment. Raiders in Kansas commit atrocities. Throughout the country the incidents and accidents of a nation in the midst of civil war continue.

August 17– Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln writes to James Hackett.” For one of my age I have seen very little of the drama. The first presentation of Falstaff I ever saw was yours here, last winter or spring. Perhaps the best compliment I can pay is to say, as I truly can, I am very anxious to see it again. Some of Shakespeare’s plays I have never read, while others I have gone over perhaps as frequently as any un-professional reader. Among the latter are Lear, Richard III., Henry VIII., Hamlet, and especially Macbeth. I think nothing equals Macbeth. It is wonderful. Unlike you gentlemen of the profession, I think the soliloquy in Hamlet commencing ‘Oh, my offense is rank,’ surpasses that commencing ‘To be or not to be.’ But pardon this small attempt at criticism. I should like to hear you pronounce the opening speech of Richard III. Will you not soon visit Washington again? If you do, please call and let me make your personal acquaintance.” [Hackett, age 63, from New York City, has gained fame by, among other roles, portraying Falstaff in Shakespeare’s plays. Earlier in this year he published a book about Shakespeare’s plays and various actors who performed them. He sent a complimentary copy to the President.]

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

August 17– Monday– Monongalia, West Virginia– Three women dressed in men’s clothing and assisted by a 14 year old boy, capture three suspected Confederate sympathizers and turn them over to Federal authorities.

August 17– Monday– Charleston, South Carolina– As Federal forces renew their efforts against the city, gunboats and artillery fire 938 rounds into Fort Wagner and Fort Sumter.

August 17– Monday– Lagro, Indiana– Birth of Geneva Grace Stratton, a/k/a Gene Stratton-Porter, author and naturalist, the 12th child of Mary and Mark Stratton. By the time of her death in 1924, her nineteen published books will have sold almost 9 million copies.

Gene Stratton-Porter

Gene Stratton-Porter

August 18– Tuesday– Barre, Massachusetts– Mary Babbitt writes on behalf of her brother Caleb Babbitt to Walt Whitman. “My brother wishes me to inform you of the state of his health, also of his journey home he arrived home last week Wednesday very much exhausted & he was obliged to take to his bed from which he has not yet got up. He has put off writing every day thinking the next day he would be able to write himself. He often speaks of you telling of your kindness during his sickness there, and wishes he could see you.”

August 18– Tuesday– Boston, Massachusetts– On her way to see other friends, Charlotte Forten Grimke arrives from Pennsylvania via New York City. “Mr Pierce and Mr [Francis] Shaw met me at the Station. The latter has a good, noble face, but very sad.” [Francis Shaw is the grieving father of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw.]

August 18– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Walt Whitman writes to his mother Louisa about his plans. “Mother, I want to see you & all very much. As I wish to be here at the opening of Congress, & during the winter, I have an idea I will try to come home for a month, but I don’t know when. I want to see the young ones & Mat & Jeff & every body.” [The next session of Congress will convene on December 7th, 1863].

August 18– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “A Benevolent Action. In these times of extortion, it is refreshing to hear of any one’s doing a good deed, and it is with pleasure that we record the fact that General Joseph R Anderson, of the Tredegar [Iron] works, has recently purchased a large quantity of wheat, sent it to the mills of this city to be converted into flour, and is to let his employees have it at cost price. Such an example is worthy of imitation, and we trust all our large employers will do likewise, and thereby aid to bring down [the cost of] this necessary of life.”– The Richmond Sentinel.

August 18– Tuesday– Charleston, South Carolina– For a second day Union artillery and gunboats bombard Fort Wagner and Fort Sumter.

August 18– Tuesday– Nasville, Tennessee– The Nashville Daily Press reports an accident. “A wagon and team, in charge of George W Bell, an employee of Lieutenant Irvin, yesterday knocked down and ran over a woman on the Public Square. The team was been driven at headlong speed, and the wagon tongue struck the woman on the temple, felling her to the ground, and then two of the wheels passed over her body. Miraculous enough, she was neither killed or seriously hurt, but it was not because of a want of recklessness on the part of the teamster. The woman was taken to the hospital of the Eighteenth Michigan, and after her wounds were carefully dressed she walked home. Bell was quickly arrested and sent to the Penitentiary.”

August 18– Tuesday– Saint Louis, Missouri–Union General Thomas Ewing issues orders freeing slaves of any Missourians actively involved with the Confederate Army.

August 19– Wednesday– New York City–Federal troops help to maintain order as the draft resumes.

August 19– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– Count Nicholas Giorgi, newly appointed minister to the United States from the Empire of Austria, presents his credentials to President Lincoln.

August 19– Wednesday– Charleston, South Carolina– For the third day in a row, Federal heavy artillery pounds Fort Wagner and Fort Sumter.

August 19– Wednesday– Blackwater Creek, Missouri– About 350 men under the command of William Quantrill leave for a raid on Kansas. Quantrill, age 26, Ohio-born and a former school teacher, calls himself a general, having deserted Confederate General Sterling Price’s command in order to form his guerrilla band which includes Jesse and Frank James as well as Jim, John, Bob and Cole Younger who will gain fame after the war as outlaws.

Quantrill

Quantrill

August 20– Thursday– Charleston, South Carolina– Once again Union gun boats and canon shell Fort Wagner and Fort Sumter for most of the day.

August 20– Thursday– Memphis, Tennessee– The Union Army command issues a directive regarding horses. “The practice of shipping horses and mules from the several posts of this command in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Kentucky to the North having been found to encourage a system of robbery and stealing, both from the Government and the citizens, must be put a stop to. Hereafter no such shipments to private individuals will be permitted, except in cases of property purchased from sales by quartermasters and provost-marshals, for which proper vouchers will be given.”

August 21– Friday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln sends an urgent telegram to General George Meade.”At this late moment I am appealed to in behalf of William Thompson of Company K, Third Maryland Volunteers, in Twelfth Army Corps, said to be at Kelly’s Ford, under sentence to be shot to-day as a deserter. He is represented to me to be very young, with symptoms of insanity. Please postpone the execution till further order.”

August 21– Friday– Orange Courthouse, Virginia– Confederate soldier Jedediah Hotchkiss writes to his brother Nelson. “Our men are being nicely clothed and shod and will soon present a nice appearance; a uniformed army. The Commissariat of our army is in fine condition too and today the soldiers had roasting ears issued to them, a barrel to the hundred men, and that much is to be issued daily while the roasting ears season lasts. There is enough to eat. The bugbear of starvation has fled; the enemy has cruelly said that they would starve us and Heaven answered them with blessing our land with abundance. We fasted until a 6 P.M. dinner. We had roasting ears, tomatoes, potatoes, good light rolls, and beefsteak, a good enough dinner for any one and so fare the soldiers now while we are resting, and it is well it is so for the times of privation always come when marching and fighting begin, as begin it must, although there are no signs now of any movements and a profound quiet reigns everywhere, the enemy having retired further away. I hope you succeeded in getting in something to eat and do not have to buy at the horrid prices now prevailing. A change must come before long in some way, no one knows how, but it is sure to come.”

August 21– Friday– Chattanooga, Tennessee– Union forces reach the Tennessee River opposite the city and Federal artillery begins shelling the town. The bombardment catches many soldiers and civilians by surprise as many are in church observing a day of prayer and fasting. The cannoneers sink two steamers docked at the landing and raise concerns about another Vicksburg-type siege among the Confederates. The shelling will continue periodically over the next two weeks, .

August 21– Friday– Lawrence, Kansas–Confederate raiders, numbering about 350, under William Quantrill attack the town in supposed retaliation for a Union raid on Osceola, Missouri. They kill 164 civilians, mostly men and boys, and destroy many buildings. The guerrillas suffer about 40 killed and wounded. After holding the town several hours, they withdraw.

the massacre at Lawrence Kansas

the massacre at Lawrence Kansas

August 22– Saturday– New York City– George Templeton Strong notes the resumption of the draft. “Troops continue to arrive here from Meade’s army . . . . We have already more than enough to ensure the execution of the draft in this city.”

August 22– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– Gideon Welles describes his conversation with Salmon P Chase. Chase, age 55, a former member of the Free Soil Party and former governor of Ohio, known for his strong opposition to slavery, is serving as Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury. “Mr. Chase called and took me this evening for a two hours’ ride. We went past Kalorama north, crossed Rock Creek near the Stone Mill, thence over the hills to Tenallytown, and returned through Georgetown. The principal topic of conversation, and the obvious purpose of this drive was a consultation on the slavery question, and what in common parlance is called the reconstruction of the Union with the incidents. After sounding me without getting definite and satisfactory answers, he frankly avowed his own policy and determination. It is unconditional and immediate emancipation in all the Rebel States, no retrograde from the Proclamation of Emancipation, no recognition of a Rebel State as a part of the Union, or any terms with it except on the extinction, wholly, at once, and forever, of slavery. I neither adopted nor rejected his emphatic tests, for such he evidently meant them. The questions are of vast magnitude, and have great attending difficulties.”

Salmon P Chase

Salmon P Chase

August 22– Saturday– Charleston, South Carolina– For the sixth consecutive day, Union guns blaze away at Fort Wagner and Fort Sumter. Wagner is covered with sand from the impact of exploding shells. Only four Confederate canon remain operable in Fort Sumter.

August 22– Saturday– Murfreesboro, Tennessee– Union Sergeant Charles Alley takes note of Southern culture. “This last week things have been changing here considerably. Numbers of market wagons come in daily and the people no matter how much they may hate the Yankees appear still quite willing to turn an honest penny selling them the products of their farms at exorbitant rates. They only charge $2 per bushel for potatoes, 75 cents for a single watermelon, 50 cents per pound for butter, 20 cents per quart for milk sweet, but they sometimes charge only that price for buttermilk, and double that for sweet and everything else in proportion. Yesterday a wagon stopped just opposite our camp with watermelons. The wagon was driven by a slave, a stout lusty fellow. He handed out the melons to the buyers. The buyers paid the money to the female owner of the teamster, who was seated in a buggy, which was driven by a female slave. ‘There’ thought I is slavery illustrated in one phase any how, takes three persons to do the work of one. Another curious point– ‘The Yankees’ say these chivalrous owners of the souls and bodies of men, ‘are come in here to burn, desolate and reduce to a desert our beautiful country, to slay our men with the sword, to ravish our women and have our little ones to perish,’ and then to show how much they believe their own lying assertions they go off, stay away, lie round in the woods and murder Yankees; and leave their women to buy from, sell to and get gain from these same Yankees and trust that they will be honorably dealt with and do not trust in vain neither. Ah, slavery, what a demoralizer art thou. Surely he was not far wrong that first denounced thee as the sum of all villains. May heaven grant the morning shall soon dawn that shall find no trace of thee in the length and breadth of our large and goodly land.”

A Higher Courage, A Purer Patriotism~August 1863~the 12th to the 16th

A Higher Courage, a Purer Patriotism ~ Robert E Lee

Any number of crises and problems flourish on the international stage: tension over British sale of ships to the Confederacy, revolution in Poland, French intervention in Mexico, trouble in the Dominican Republic, a Confederate agent heads to Europe to seek help for her government. General Grant reports atrocities committed by the rebels against black soldiers and their white officers. George Whitman fumes about the riots in New York City. Frederick Douglass ceases his publication and redirects his efforts. General Lee calls on his army to observe a day of prayer and fasting. Many people long for peace.

August 12– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– Gideon Welles is pleased by the fiery stand of the State Department in dealing with Great Britain. “[Secretary of State] Seward informs me in confidence that he has, through Mr. Adams, made an energetic protest to Great Britain against permitting the ironclads to leave England, distinctly informing the Ministry that it would be considered by us as a declaration of war. The result is, he says, the ironclads will not leave England. I have uniformly insisted that such would be the case if we took decided ground and the Ministry were satisfied we were in earnest.”

August 12– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– The Richmond Sentinel updates prices in the slave market. “A month ago we published the price of slaves then prevailing, viz: Young men ranging from $2,000 to $2,700, and young women from $2,000 to $2,500. There is now, we learn, an advance on these prices; all kinds of slaves commanding higher prices than ever before. Boys and girls and small Negroes are proportionably higher than grown ones.” [The $2700 for a human being would equal about $50,900 today.]

Southern slave auction

Southern slave auction

August 12– Wednesday– Vicksburg, Mississippi– General Grant submits to the War Department a report on the Confederate treatment of black soldiers and their white officers. “The day after the battle of Millikens Bend, in June last, the Marine Brigade landed some 10 miles below the Bend, and attacked and routed the guerrillas which had been repulsed by our troops and the gunboats the day previous. Major Hubbards cavalry battalion, of the Marine Brigade, followed the retreating rebels to Tensas Bayou, and were horrified in the finding of skeletons of white officers commanding Negro regiments, who had been captured by the rebels at Millikens Bend. In many cases these officers had been nailed to the trees and crucified; in this situation a fire was built around the tree, and they suffered a slow death from broiling. The charred and partially burned limbs were still fastened to the stakes. Other instances were noticed of charred skeletons of officers, which had been nailed to slabs, and the slab placed against a house which was set on fire by the inhuman demons, the poor sufferers having been roasted alive until nothing was left but charred bones. Negro prisoners recaptured from the guerrillas confirmed these facts, which were amply corroborated by the bodies found, as above described. The Negroes taken were to be resold into slavery, while the white officers were consumed by fire. Lieutenant Cole holds himself responsible for the truth of the statement.”

August 12– Wednesday– dateline: Paris, France– The New York Times carries an update from its Paris correspondent. “The secession press at Paris accept at last, but with a bad grace, the successes of the National arms. They try to obscure them as much as possible with the New-York riot, and all urge, with the London Times, that the successes in the Mississippi Valley are fully counterbalanced by the blow struck at the national power in the streets of New-York! . . . . Thus far we have no indications as to what effect the opening of the Mississippi will exert upon the Emperor’s Mexican policy. . . . . The Government papers are filled with accounts of the friendly reception given everywhere in Mexico to the French and their policy, and of the efficient cooperation of the Mexican allied troops, thus looking as if the Government was still clinging to the doctrine that, they have gone to Mexico as friends and civilizers. . . . . The alarm about a war with Russia is not so general as a week ago. This change of opinion is due to various causes. In the first place, it is evident to every one that the reply of Russia was based upon the supposition that an alliance between the three Powers was impossible, and that she would have made a much acceptable reply if she had known what, she now knows of the sentiments especially of Austria. Thus, while it is believed that Napoleon dare not go to war alone, for fear of a European coalition, it is also believed that Russia will not think of fighting the three Powers and that she will finally recede from the position she now occupies [regarding Poland].”

August 12– Wednesday– Burrard Inlet, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada– The first commercial cargo of lumber from this area is shipped.

August 12– Wednesday– Limmerick, Ireland– Birth of Margaretta Eagar , who will become the nurse for the four daughters of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra and will write a 1906 memoir entitled Six Years at the Russian Court about her time with the Romanov family.

Ms Eager with another nanny & 3 of the Tsar's children

Ms Eager with another nanny & 3 of the Tsar’s children

August 12– Wednesday– Gastein, Germany– King William writes to the Russian Tsar declining the Tsar’s request for diplomatic help with the Austrians because William is certain the Austrian Empire is conspiring against Germany.

August 13– Thursday– Orange Courthouse, Virginia– Confederate General Lee issues a proclamation to the Army of Northern Virginia. “The President of the Confederate States has, in the name of the people, appointed August 21st as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer. A strict observance of the day is enjoined upon the officers and soldiers of this army. All military duties, except such as are absolutely necessary, will be suspended. The commanding officers of brigades and regiments are requested to cause divine services, suitable to the occasion, to be performed in their respective commands. Soldiers! we have sinned against Almighty God. We have forgotten His signal mercies, and have cultivated a revengeful, haughty, and boastful spirit. We have not remembered that the defenders of a just cause should be pure in His eyes; that ‘our times are in His hands,’ and we have relied too much on our own arms for the achievement of our independence. God is our only refuge and our strength. Let us humble ourselves before Him. Let us confess our many sins, and beseech Him to give us a higher courage, a purer patriotism, and more determined will; that He will hasten the time when war, with its sorrows and sufferings, shall cease, and that He will give us a name and place among the nations of the earth.”

August 13– Thursday– St George Bermuda– Confederate agent Rose Greenhow, on her way to Europe, writes to her friend Colonel A A Boteler in Richmond. “I have as you will see arrived here in despite of Yankee cruisers who gave us a close chase all the way. I was seasick of course but I am now entirely recovered and enjoying the dolce faneanti of this seducing climate with its beautiful tropical trees and fruits. I shall leave here the middle of the coming week en route for Southampton. And when I reach this point I will tell you your impressions of matters and things. I have met with River friends Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Walker with whom I spend all my time are very charming and cultured people. He is certainly a most indefatigable and valuable officer to the Confederacy and by his prudence and high trust conduct him the consideration of all here, and is there by enabled to render service to the country of a magnitude that would be startling if it were prudent to speak yet.”

August 13– Thursday– Paris France– Eugene Delacroix, painter, dies at age 65.

Eugene Delacroix

Eugene Delacroix

August 14– Friday– Lawrence, Massachusetts– Birth of Ernest Thayer, writer.

August 14– Friday– New Orleans, Louisiana– Sarah Morgan writes in her diary, opening a fresh new volume. “Doomed to be bored! To-night Miriam drags me to a soiree musicale; and in the midst of my toilet, I sit down with bare shoulders to scratch a dozen lines in my new treasure which has been by me for three days, untouched. I don’t know what tempts me to do it except perversity; for I have nothing to say. . . . . Here comes Miriam after me! What a bore! What a bore! And she looks as though it was a pleasure to go out! How I hate it! Glancing up the page, the date strikes my eye. What tempted me to begin it Friday? My dear Ada would shiver and declare the blank pages were reserved for some very painful, awful, uncomfortable record, or that ‘something’ would happen before the end of it. Nothing very exciting can happen, except the restoration of peace; and to bring that about, I would make a vow to write only on Fridays.”

August 15– Saturday– Bethany, West Virginia– “The Union men of Bethany raised a tall pole, from the top of which a beautiful American flag, made by the loyal ladies of the place, was flung to the breeze. After the pole raising there was a public dinner, at which all the good things of the earth were provided, which were indulged in by all present. Several addresses were delivered and a good time generally was had.”~The Wheeling Intelligencer

August 15– Saturday– Orange County Courthouse, Virginia– Confederate soldier Jedediah Hotchkiss to Sara, his wife. “The glorious sun is sinking behind the distant Blue Ridge, looking at me away here in the tented field and at you, away yonder in our quiet home, but lonely; my thoughts follow his setting & I fain would, like Milton’s Angel, ride up to the Ridge top one sunbeam & down to you on another, but I will do the next best thing, write you a long letter, especially as I have so long neglected you my Love, so long that you wrote to me first, a kind sweet letter, thus gently chiding me for my long silence since that sweet dream of home, one day in its blissful retreat – but I have been so busy, but that is always the case & I will not bring that as an excuse, though your kind heart will pardon, for you know I have daily thought of writing & as often something has interfered.”

August 15– Saturday– Savannah, Georgia– Authorities have caught a local man selling dog meat as mutton.

August 16– Sunday– Rochester, New York– In an open letter to his readers Frederick Douglass announces that he is ceasing the publication of his newspaper in order to work in the recruitment of black soldiers. “Let it also be understood that I do not abandon my paper because I shall cease to think and write upon vital social questions concerning colored men and women. I shall think, write and speak as I have opportunity, while the slave needs a pen to plead his cause, or a voice to expose his wrongs before the people.”

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

August 16– Sunday– near Covington, Kentucky– Union soldier George Whitman, in a letter to his mother, Louisa, evaluates the recent riots. “We have had full accounts of the proceedings of the mob in New York, and its almost enough to make a fellow ashamed of being a Yorker, the first accounts we saw were in the western papers, and I could hardly believe, that a thing of that kind would be allowed to get such headway in the City of New York, it strikes me that it would have been a good idea to have taken Fernando and Ben Woods, Governor Seymour [all three are Democratic politicians opposed to the Lincoln Administration] and a few more of the wire pullers and strung them up to one of the trees in the city Hall park. what a pity it is that 4 or 5 of the old regiments, had not of been there to of straightened things up a bit, as for myself I would have went into that fight with just as good a heart, as if they had belonged to the rebel army. I am only sorry there wasn’t 10 times as many killed of the rioters as there was.”

August 16– Sunday– Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic–A group of insurgents make a daring raid on the city and raise the Dominican flag on the capitol. This action, known as “El grito de Capotillo” is the beginning of a war against Spanish attempts to retake the country and will last until 1865 when the last Spanish troops will be withdrawn.

Two Hostile & Irreconcilable Systems of Society~July 1863~the 8th to the 11th

Two Hostile and Irreconcilable Systems of Society ~ George Templeton Strong

In a prophetic voice, George Templeton Strong writes of the war’s historical significance. The deaths of soldiers haunt Walt Whitman and Mary Chesnut. The abolitionist Gerritt Smith declares that European powers need to keep their noses out and hands off of America’s struggle. The major European powers still face an unsettled situation in Poland. General Lee offers to resign but President Davis refuses to allow him. President Lincoln meets face-to-face with Frederick Douglass and encourages General Grant. Grant allows military authorities to read the mails passing through areas under his command. [Editor’s query: Hhhmm! Wonder what Grant would think about the military necessity of reading citizens’ private e-mails. Mayhap some things do not change.]

August 8– Saturday– Locust Grove, New York– Birth of Florence Augusta Merriam Bailey, ornithologist and nature writer. She will author fourteen books and her writing is considered to be among the best ornithological writing. She will be active in social welfare issues as well, campaigning against child labor, and on behalf of housing, education and recreation for poor youth.

Florence Merriam Bailey c.1904

Florence Merriam Bailey c.1904

August 8– Saturday– Orange Courthouse, Virginia– General Lee offers his resignation to President Jefferson Davis. “I have been prompted by these reflections more than once, since my return from Pennsylvania, to propose to your Excellency the propriety of selecting another commander for this army. I have seen and heard of expressions of discontent in the public journals at the result of the expedition. I do not know how far this feeling extends in the army. My brother officers have been too kind to report it, and so far the troops have been too generous to exhibit it. It is fair, however, to suppose that it does exist, and success is so necessary to us that nothing should be risked to secure it. I therefore, in all sincerity, request your Excellency to take measures to supply my place. I do this with the more earnestness because no one is more aware than my self of my inability for the duties of my position. I cannot even accomplish what I myself desire. How can I fulfil the expectations of others? In addition, I sensibly feel the growing failure of my bodily strength. I have not yet recovered from the attack I experienced the past spring. I am becoming more and more incapable of exertion, and am thus prevented from making the personal examinations and giving the personal supervision to the operations in the field which I feel to be necessary. I am so dull that in making use of the eyes of others I am frequently misled. Everything, therefore, points to the advantages to be derived from a new commander, and I the more anxiously urge the matter upon your Excellency, from my belief that a younger and abler man than myself can readily be obtained. I know that he will have as gallant and brave an army as ever existed to second his efforts, and it would be the happiest day of my life to see at its head a worthy leader ; one that would accomplish more than I could perform, and all that I have wished. I hope your Excellency will attribute my request to the true reason, the desire to serve my country, and to do all in my power to insure the success of her righteous cause.”

August 8– Saturday– St Anns, Nova Scotia, Canada– Angus MacAskill, known as Giant MacAskill, a circus performer who stands 7′ 9″ tall, dies at age 38 of “brain fever.”

Angus MacAskill

Angus MacAskill

August 9– Sunday– Byberry, Pennsylvania– Charlotte Forten Grimke makes music with a friend. “Bessie W came up yesterday afternoon, bringing sunshine with her. She certainly is a charming most refreshing girl. We spent the morning at the piano playing ‘Roll Jordan’ and other songs of the freed people.”

August 9– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln writes to General Grant. “General Thomas has gone again to the Mississippi Valley, with the view of raising colored troops. I have no reason to doubt that you are doing what you reasonably can upon the same subject. I believe it is a resource which if vigorously applied now will soon close the contest. It works doubly, weakening the enemy and strengthening us. We were not fully ripe for it until the river was opened. Now, I think at least one hundred thousand can and ought to be rapidly organized along its shores, relieving all white troops to serve elsewhere. Mr. Dana understands you as believing that the Emancipation Proclamation has helped some in your military operations. I am very glad if this is so.”

August 9– Sunday– Orange Courthouse, Virginia– Confederate soldier Richard Brooks writes to his wife. “I could not wish for any better living than when we had as we was going on an after we got through Maryland an into Pennsylvania as far as we went but after we turned back this way again we all have suffered very much ever since for something to eat. We have not had more than half enough to eat since we turned back. . . . My Dear I do hope the war will soon close for I do want to see you an the Children the worst I ever had in my life.”

August 9– Sunday– McMinnville, Tennessee– Lucy Virginia French takes note in her journal of political changes. “As to our political prospects they are in status quo. Tennessee is gone to the Confederacy I suppose, and in my present frame of mind and state of health, I must confess I feel unpatriotic enough not to care a continental about it any way if I could only be well, and quiet for a little while. . . . We were told today that all the ‘rebel girls’ in McMinnville have been made to take the oath, a great triumph for old Armstrong and his crew. Mollie Armstrong has procured the Federal uniform—a blue riding dress and rides around with the Yankees, as she used to do with Morgan’s men. I suppose this would be the end of her Southernism—it was too intense to last long!”

Lucy Virginia French

Lucy Virginia French

August 10– Monday– dateline: Warsaw, Poland– The New York Times reports that the leaders of the Polish revolution have demanded as part of a cease-fire that “All persons under arrest shall be at once liberated; all pursuit on political grounds shall equally cease; all exiles shall return to their country” and “A permanent international commission shall be established in the country for the purpose of seeing the armistice rigorously put in execution.” They “assure the mediating Powers [Great Britain, France and the Austrian Empire] that the engagements that may be contracted on these grounds will be faithfully observed by the Poles.”

August 10– Monday– Washington, D.C.–President Lincoln meets with Frederick Douglass. They discuss a variety of topics including the treatment and pay of black soldiers in the U. S. Army.

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

August 10– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Walt Whitman writes a letter of condolence to Mr. and Mrs. S. B. Haskell, the parents of Erastus Haskell of the 141st New York Infantry. “I write to you this letter, because I would do something at least in his memory; his fate was a hard one, to die so. He is one of the thousands of our unknown American young men in the ranks about whom there is no record or fame, no fuss made about their dying so unknown, but I find in them the real precious & royal ones of this land, giving themselves up, aye even their young & precious lives, in their country’s cause.”

August 10– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– Mary Chesnut relates a strange experience. “To-day I had a letter from my sister, who wrote to inquire about her old playmate, friend, and lover, Boykin McCaa. . . . . To tell the truth, she writes, ‘in these last dreadful years, with . . . everything dismal, anxious, and disquieting, I had almost forgotten Boykin’s existence, but he came here last night; he stood by my bedside and spoke to me kindly and affectionately, as if we had just parted. I said, holding out my hand, Boykin, you are very pale. He answered, I have come to tell you good-by, and then seized both my hands. His own hands were as cold and hard as ice ; they froze the marrow of my bones. I screamed again and again until my whole household came rushing in, and then came the Negroes from the yard, all wakened by my piercing shrieks. This may have been a dream, but it haunts me. Some one sent me an old paper with an account of his wounds and his recovery, but I know he is dead.’ ‘Stop !’ said my husband at this point, and then he read from that day’s Examiner these words: ‘Captain Burwell Boykin McCaa found dead upon the battle-field leading a cavalry charge at the head of his company. He was shot through the head.’”

chestp

August 10– Monday– Vicksburg, Mississippi– General Grant issues regulations regarding mail going to or coming from states in the Confederacy. “The establishing of mails within the insurrectionary States of this department being for the exclusive benefit of the military authorities and those connected therewith, the following regulations are established and will be observed, until otherwise ordered, by all persons employed in their transmission, at all military posts south of Memphis, Tennessee: 1. Postmasters will transmit no letters but those coming from designated military authorities, nor deliver any received at their respective offices to citizens or civilians, excepting through the same channels. 2. Mails will be made up at department, corps, division, and post headquarters, and by all provost-marshals, quartermasters, and commissaries, sent regularly to the post offices by them, and promptly forwarded by the post inspector of each post. 3. The military authorities above designated will forward no letters from any citizen in any insurrectionary State in this department, without first examining the same and marking their approval thereon.”

August 11– Tuesday– Albany, New York– In a speech Gerrit Smith, 66 years old, abolitionist, politician and philanthropist, declares, “We must also insist that, during the prosecution of this war, all other nations must let us alone. Ours is a family quarrel with which there must be no outside interference. We will tolerate neither intervention nor mediation. The one we shall pronounce impertinence, and the other we shall construe into war. I have said we must insist on the unconditional submission of the rebels. Our opposition to the rebels must also be unconditional.”

August 11– Tuesday– New York City– George Templeton Strong writes prophetically about the war. “We hardly appreciate, even yet, the magnitude of this war, the issues that depend on its result, the importance of the chapter in the world’s history that we are helping to write. . . . It is the struggle of two hostile and irreconcilable systems of society for the rule of this continent. . . . I think that Grant and Rosecrans, Lee and Stonewall Jackson . . . will be more conspicuous and better known to students of history A.D. 1963 than . . . Napoleon, Frederick [the Great], Wellington . . . not as greater generals, but as fighting on a larger field and in a greater cause than any of them. So will our great-great-grandchildren look back on them a century hence, whatever be the result.”

August 11– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– President Davis refuses General Lee’s offer to resign. “Where am I to find that new commander who is to possess the greater ability which you believe to be required ? I do not doubt the readiness with which you would give way to one who could accomplish all that you have wished, and you will do me the justice to believe that, if Providence should kindly offer such a person for our use, I would not hesitate to avail of his services. My sight is not sufficiently penetrating to discover such hidden merit, if it exists, and I have but used to you the language of sober earnestness, when I have impressed upon you the propriety of avoiding all unnecessary exposure to danger, because I felt your country could not bear to lose you. To ask me to substitute you by someone in my judgment more fit to command, or who would possess more of the confidence of the army, or of reflecting men in the country, is to demand an impossibility. It only remains for me to hope that you will take all possible care of yourself, that your health and strength may be entirely restored, and that the Lord will preserve you for the important duties devolved upon you in the struggle of our suffering country for the independence of which we have engaged in war to maintain.”

P G Doumergue, c.1924

P G Doumergue, c.1924

August 11– Tuesday– Algues-Vives, France– Birth of Pierre Paul Henri Gaston Doumergue, who will serve as Prime Minister of France from December, 1913 to June, 1914 and again for ten months in 1934.

Another Solemn Epoch of Human Progress~August 1863~the 4th to the 7th

Another Solemn Epoch of Human Progress~Giuseppe Garibaldi

Garibaldi, the Italian revolutionary hero, praises President Lincoln. Lincoln himself encourages emancipation in Louisiana and defends the draft. The abolitionist editor Garrison encourages his eldest son, praises the soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts and denounces the rioters of New York City. Gideon Welles despises a British ship builder. New Yorker George Templeton Strong wants to assign Southern politicians to hot places in hell. The new state of West Virginia selects senators. (This is before the adoption of the 17th Amendment to the U S Constitution so senators are chosen by governors and state legislators, not direct election by the voters.) Theater audiences in Wheeling have a reputation.

August 4– Tuesday– New York City– George Templeton Strong expresses himself. “Only news is the death of that notable scoundrel, W L Yancey . . . . The gallows don’t always get its due in the this world, but the Devil commonly gets his in the next; and if men are to be judged by the quantity of mischief they have done . . . deliberate authors of Civil War deserve a hot corner of Tophet.” [William Yancey, from Alabama, one of the Southern politicians known as “Fire-Eaters”, an agitator for secession, a racist supporter of slavery and its unlimited expansion, had died at age 48 on July 27th. Many abolitionists shared Strong’s opinion. “Tophet” is a Hebrew word used to refer to a place of punishment, generally hell.]

August 4– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– John Jones expresses his hopes and concerns in the pages of his diary. “Our people are thirsting for another victory; and may expect too much. Confederate notes are now given for gold at the rate of $12 or $15 for $1. Flour is $40 per barrel; bacon, $1.75 per pound; coal, $25 per cart-load; and good wood, $30 per cord. Butter is selling at $3 per pound, etc. etc. Nevertheless, most men look for relief in the foreign complications the United States are falling into. England will not prohibit the selling of steamers to the Confederate States, and the United States say it shall not be done; and France has taken possession of Mexico, erecting it into an Empire, upon the throne of which will be seated some European ruler. We think recognition of our government is not far behind these events; when we shall have powerful navies to open the blockade. We are used to wounds and death; but can hardly bear starvation and nakedness.” [By this time Confederate currency is significantly declining in value. Comparing these prices in Yankee dollars, the $40 barrel of flour would equal about $750 today; the $25 worth of coal, about $472 current dollars.]

August 4– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– The Richmond Sentinel takes note of local changes made by the war. “The Hermitage Fair Grounds. Since the occupation of this place by the military, it has undergone quite a changed appearance. The fencing has been nearly all removed, and the desolating effects of war are visible on all sides. Let us hope that the day is not far distant when, in the enjoyment of the blessings of peace and independence, we may again witness the assembling of thousands of the beautiful daughters and sturdy farmers of Virginia, at this once attractive spot.”

August 4– Tuesday– Wheeling, West Virginia– The West Virginia Legislature selects Waitman Willey, age 51, of Morgantown, and Peter Van Winkle, age 54, of Parkersburg, as West Virginia’s first United States Senators.

Senator Peter Van Winkle

Senator Peter Van Winkle

August 5– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln writes to General Banks in New Orleans about politics in Louisiana. “I would be glad for her [Louisiana] to make a new constitution, recognizing the emancipation proclamation, and adopting emancipation in those parts of the State to which the proclamation does not apply. And while she is at it, I think it would not be objectionable for her to adopt some practical system by which the two races could gradually live themselves out of their old relation to each other, and both come out better prepared for the new. Education for young blacks should be included in the plan. After all, the power or element of ‘contract’ may be sufficient for this probationary period, and by its simplicity and flexibility may be the better. As an antislavery man, I have a motive to desire emancipation which proslavery men do not have but even they have strong enough reason tothus place themselves again under the shield of the Union, and to thus perpetually hedge against the recurrence of the scenes through which we are now passing. . . . For my own part, I think I shall not, in any event, retract the emancipation proclamation: nor, as executive, ever return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation, or by any of the acts of Congress.”

August 6– Thursday– Boston, Massachusetts– Abolitionist and pacifist William Lloyd Garrison writes to his eldest son, George Thompson Garrison who has joined the 55th Massachusetts Regiment. “I have nothing but praise to give you that you have been faithful to your highest convictions, and taking your life in your hands, are willing to lay it down, even like the brave Colonel Shaw and his associates, if need be, in the cause of freedom, and for the suppression of slavery and the rebellion. True, I could have wished you could ascend to what I believe a higher plane of moral heroism and a nobler method of self-sacrifice; but as you are true to yourself, I am glad of your fidelity, and proud of our willingness to run any risk in a cause that is undeniably just and good.”

August 6– Thursday– London, England– Birth of Francis Sydney Marvin, historian and educator.

August 6– Thursday– Caprera, Italy– The Italian revolutionary hero Garibaldi writes to President Lincoln. “In the midst of your titanic struggle, permit me, as another among the free children of Columbus, to send you a word of greeting and admiration for the great work you have begun. Posterity will call you the great emancipator, a more enviable title than any crown could be, and greater than any merely mundane treasure, You are a true heir of the teaching given us by Christ and by John Brown. If an entire race of human beings, subjugated into slavery by human egoism, has been restored to human dignity, to civilization and human love, this is by your doing and at the price of the most noble lives in America. It is America, the same country which taught liberty to our forefathers, which now opens another solemn epoch of human progress. And while your tremendous courage astonishes the world, we are sadly reminded how this old Europe, which also can boast a great cause of liberty to fight for, has not found the mind or heart to equal you.”

 

Garibaldi, c 1866

Garibaldi, c 1866

August 7– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–In today’s issue of The Liberator, Garrison reprints President Lincoln’s order insuring that there should be “no distinction as to color in the treatment of prisoners of war as public enemies.” Garrison notes with satisfaction the provision for retaliation upon Confederate prisoners if any black soldiers are executed. About the attack upon Fort Wagner and the riots in New York, the paper says: “The 54th Massachusetts, by the admission of all who witnessed their heroic conduct at the storming of Fort Wagner, have added one more argument to sustain the policy of raising Negro regiments, and furnished one more practical contradiction to the slanders of the enemies of the policy. We trust, for the honor of human nature, that there is not a person in the loyal States, if we except the brutes, ruffians and assassins of New York mob, who can read the accounts of the assault, without feeling his prejudices insensibly giving away before such examples of fortitude and daring, and without being impressed anew with the unfathomable baseness of the miscreants in New York City, who wreaked every outrage on the defenseless brethren of such soldiers, and who, recreants themselves to their country’s call, were furious at the idea that men whose skins were black should presume to be patriots and heroes. The crimes perpetrated in New York against the Negro were palliated by some disloyal journals on the ground that they were a natural reaction against the attempt of the Administration to raise the blacks above their natural level. It was highly presumptuous in the Negro to wish to die for the nation, and therefore it was to be expected that whites should instantly proceed to burn black tenements and murder black citizens! We wonder if the white gentlemen of Five Points, Corlaers Hook and Mackerelville, even now consider the 54th Massachusetts as up to their level.”

Garrison

Garrison

 August 7– Friday– Washington, D.C.– Walt Whitman to Hugo Fritsch. “Well, Hugo, I am still as much as ever, indeed more, in the great military hospitals here. Every day or night I spend four, five, or six hours, among my sick, wounded, prostrate boys. It is fascinating, sad, & with varied fortune of course. Some of my boys get well, some die. After I finish this letter . . . I shall give the latter part of the afternoon & some hours of the night to Armory Square Hospital, a large establishment & one I find most calling on my sympathies & ministrations. I am welcomed by the surgeons as by the soldiers– very grateful to me. You must remember that these government hospitals are not filled as with human debris like the old established city hospitals, New York, &c., but mostly [with] these good-born American young men, appealing to me most profoundly, good stock, often mere boys, full of sweetness & heroism– often they seem very near to me, even as my own children or younger brothers.”

 

August 7– Friday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln responds to New York Governor Seymour’s request that the President suspend the draft. “I do not object to abide a decision of the United States Supreme Court, or of the judges thereof, on the constitutionality of the draft law. In fact, I should be willing to facilitate the obtaining of it. But I cannot consent to lose the time while it is being obtained. We are contending with an enemy who, as I understand, drives every able-bodied man he can reach into his ranks, very much as a butcher drives bullocks into the slaughter-pen. No time is wasted, no argument is used. This produces an army which will soon turn upon our now victorious soldiers already in the field, if they shall not be sustained by recruits as they should be. It produces an army with a rapidity not to be matched on our side if we first waste time to re-experiment with the volunteer system, already deemed by Congress, and palpably, in fact, so far exhausted as to be inadequate; and then more time to obtain a court decision as to whether a law is constitutional, which requires a part of those not now in the service to go to the aid of those who are already in it; and still more time to determine with absolute certainty that we get those who are to go in the precisely legal proportion to those who are not to go. My purpose is to be in my action just and constitutional, and yet practical, in performing the important duty with which I am charged, of maintaining the unity and the free principles of our common country.”

New York Governor Horation Seymour

New York Governor Horation Seymour

August 7– Friday– Washington, D.C.– Navy Secretary Gideon Welles describes the ship builder John Laird as “an unmitigated liar and hypocrite. Professing to be an antislavery man from principle and an earnest friend of the Union, he and his firm have for money been engaged in the service of the slaveholders to break up our Union.”

August 7– Friday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “With show folks of all sorts the people of Wheeling have the reputation of being the most boisterous and disorderly at public exhibitions, of any people in the country. Every exhibition, no matter of what character, is sure to be greeted by shouts and whistles and rude demonstrations of disorder. Since the theatre opened at Washington Hall the management has been terribly annoyed by a class of persons who appear to attend the performances on purpose to create a tumult and annoy the performers and the better portion of the audiences.”~Wheeling Intelligencer

Our Progress Has Been as Rapid as Any Philosopher Could Ask~August 1863~the 1st to the 3rd

Our Progress Has Been as Rapid as Any Philosopher Could Ask.~William Tecumseh Sherman

The month opens with no major battles but sporadic fighting occurs in many places. Many hope for a decisive victory somewhere. Colonel Chamberlin requests more leave from his teaching job and considers resigning his academic post. Colonel Lowell remembers his friend Robert Gould Shaw and hopes for stronger protection for black soldiers if they are captured. Charlotte Forten Grimke returns north. A popular actress publishes an expose of Southern life. A reader of the New York Times opines that black children ought to be kept out of sight, far out of sight, as he voices opposition to rebuilding the orphan asylum destroyed in the riots.

Fanny Kemble

Fanny Kemble

August– Boston, Massachusetts– This month’s issue of The Atlantic Monthly includes a complimentary review of Journal of a Residence on a Georgia Plantation in 1838-39 by Frances Anne Kemble. “The life that she describes upon the model plantation is the necessary life of Slavery everywhere– injustice, ignorance, superstition, terror, degradation, brutality; and this is the system to which a great political party– counting upon the enervation of prosperity, the timidity of trade, the distance of the suffering, the legal quibbles, the moral sophisms, the hatred of ignorance, the jealousy of race, and the possession of power– has conspired to keep the nation blind and deaf, trusting that its mind was utterly obscured and its conscience wholly destroyed. . . . Slavery, industrially and politically, inevitably resists Christian civilization. The natural progress and development of men into a constantly higher manhood must cease, or this system, which strives to convert men into things, must give way. Its haughty instinct knows it, and therefore Slavery rebels. This Rebellion is simply the insurrection of Barbarism against Civilization. It would overthrow the Government, not for any wrong the Government has done, for that is not alleged. It knows that the people are the Government– that the spirit of the people is progressive and intelligent– and that there is no hope for permanent and expansive injustice, so long as the people freely discuss and decide. It would therefore establish a new Government, of which this meanest and most beastly despotism shall be the chief corner-stone. . . . . whoever would comprehend the real social scope of the Rebellion should ponder every page of the journal itself. It will show him that Slavery and rebellion to this Government are identical, not only in fact, but of necessity. It will teach him that the fierce battle between Slavery and the Government, once engaged, can end only in the destruction of one or the other. This is not a book which a woman like Mrs. Kemble publishes without a solemn sense of responsibility. A sadder book the human hand never wrote, nor one more likely to arrest the thoughts of all those in the world who watch our war and are yet not steeled to persuasion and conviction. An Englishwoman, she publishes it in England, which hates us, that a testimony which will not be doubted may be useful to the country in which she has lived so long, and with which her sweetest and saddest memories are forever associated. It is a noble service nobly done. The enthusiasm, the admiration, the affection, which in our day of seemingly cloudless prosperity greeted the brilliant girl, have been bountifully repaid by the true and timely words now spoken in our seeming adversity by the grave and thoughtful woman.” [Fanny Kemble, as she was popularly known, had been born in London to a well-known family of actors and musicians. From 1834 to 1849 she had been married to Pierce Butler, a Georgia slave owner. After the marriage ended in divorce she returned to performing and using her family name. At this time, in her 54th year, her book is seen by many anti-slavery people as admirable and heroic. She will return to London in 1877 and will die there in 1893.]

August 1– Saturday– New York City– The New York Times carries a letter from a reader who does not give his real name and states his opposition to rebuilding the orphan asylum for black children in the same location where it was burned during the rioting. “I presume the intention is to rebuild on the old site, but if so, I must enter my protest against it. The location, however good for the purpose originally, is bad, very bad, at the present time. The land is altogether too valuable. It would sell quickly at one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars – and why devote so costly a property for such a purpose? I am in favor of rebuilding the Asylum, but doing it in a suitable location. This building has been recently burned by a mob; who can tell when the next asylum, on the same spot, may follow suit? Better build at a distance from the mob, where they would not be likely to go, and out of this county. The officers of the Asylum ought to sell these lots, now that it can be done at a high price, and with a small portion of the proceeds buy a suitable site on Long Island, near its easterly end. Here the children or the building would be safe. We have had abundant proof – recently and years ago – that this City and County are very unfavorable places for institutions like this.”

the orphan asylum burns during the riots in New York City

the orphan asylum burns during the riots in New York City

August 1– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– Walt Whitman to Lewis Brown: “Well, Lew, they had the great battle of Gettysburg, but it does not seem to have settled any thing, except to have killed & wounded a great many thousand men. It seems as though the two armies were falling back again to near their old positions on the Rappahannock– it is hard to tell what will be the next move, yet, Lewy, I think we shall conquer yet. I don’t believe it is destined that this glorious Union is to be broken up by all the secesh south, or copperheads north either.”

August 1– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– In Washington for medical treatment Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin writes to his wife Fanny. “How vexed and lonesome I am. I send to President [Leonard] Woods [of Bowdoin College] my explanation of absence with request for further leave while the exigency of the public service may require I offer to resign my professorship. . . . How everything plagues me and I am worn out with the awful hardships and toils and vexations of the last campaign.”

Bowdoin College 1845

Bowdoin College 1845

August 1– Saturday– at sea on the SS Fulton– Charlotte Forten Grimke, after a period of sea-sickness, has a good day. “Spent the day on deck– talking, or listening to Emerson and Tennyson, very kindly read to me by Dr Rogers and Mr Hall. Another very lovely day. The sea is unusually calm, and of the most beautiful emerald hue.”

August 1– Saturday– Warrenton, Virginia– Union officer Elisha Hunt Rhodes makes a list for himself of the 63 places in three states where he and his soldiers have been since the 13th of June.

August 1– Saturday– Charleston, South Carolina–Federal forces begin a massive buildup for a new assault on Fort Wagner and Fort Sumter.

August 1– Saturday– Hawkins County, Tennessee; Brandy Station, Virginia; Taylor’s Farm Missouri; Smith’s Shoals, Kentucky; Winchester, Tennessee; Round Ponds, Missouri– Fire fights and skirmishes.

August 2– Sunday– Richmond, Virginia– Government clerk John Jones: “We have warm, fair weather now; but the momentary gloom, hanging like the pall of death over our affairs, cannot be dispelled without a decisive victory somewhere, or news of speedy foreign intervention. The letters which I read at the department this morning, contain no news whatever. I have suggested to the government to prohibit the exchange of newspapers in the flag of truce boat; but I doubt if they will act upon it. It is a manifest injury to us.”

August 2– Sunday– Shelbyville, Tennessee– Union General W C Whitaker makes a report, complaining about certain cavalry under his command. “Scouting parties are sent out every day from this command. . . The Tennessee cavalry of Colonel Galbraith is giving me excessive trouble and worrying and plundering throughout the country whenever they go out. They are under no control or discipline, as far as I can learn. Several instances have come to my hearing of their insulting unprotected females. I could not learn the names of the guilty parties.”

August 3– Monday– Saratoga Springs, New York– The Saratoga Race Course opens with its first race of thoroughbred horses.

August 3– Monday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– Having arrived in New York City yesterday, Charlotte Forten Grimke comes by train to see family and friends. “Took everybody by surprise. Ate some ice cream– how refreshing it is! What an unspeakable luxury it is! Am throughly exhausted, and only fit to go to bed at once. Too tired to think.”

Charlotte Forten Grimke

Charlotte Forten Grimke

August 3– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Gideon Welles to his diary: “Went on a sail yesterday down the river. The day was exceedingly warm, but with a pleasant company we had an agreeable and comfortable time on the boat. The jaunt was of benefit to me. I am told by Drs. W. and H., whom I see officially almost daily, and am myself sensible of the fact, that I am too closely confined and too unremittingly employed, but I know not when or how to leave, hardly for a day. The Sabbath day is not one of rest to me.”

August 3– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Colonel Charles Russell Lowell writes to his sweetheart, Effie Shaw, about President Lincoln’s proclamation concerning the treatment of black soldiers taken prisoner by the Confederacy. Lowell notes the significance of the death of his friend, Robert Gould Shaw, Effie’s brother. “It is a satisfaction to think that the President’s order is the result of your father’s letter, one immediate good out of Rob’s death and out of the splendid conduct of this regiment. Negroes at Port Hudson had been treated just as barbarously, but it passed unnoticed by the Administration; they could not pass this over: I wish the President had said a rebel soldier shall die for every Negro soldier sold into slavery. He ought to have said so.”

August 3– Monday– in camp 18 miles from Vicksburg, Mississippi– General William Tecumseh Sherman expresses some political opinion to his brother John. “The South that lived on slavery saw the United States yield to abolition pressure at the North, to pro-slavery pressure at the South, to the miners of California, the rowdies of Baltimore, and to the people everywhere. They paved the way to this rebellion. The people of the South were assured that, so far from resisting an attempt to set up an independent Government of homogeneous interests, the United States would give in and yield. They appealed to precedents, and proved it, and I confess I had seen so much of it that I doubted whether our Government would not yield to the pressure, and die a natural death. But I confess my agreeable surprise. Though full of corruption and base materials, our country is a majestic one, full of natural wealth and good people. They have risen not in full majesty, but enough to give all hopes of vitality. Our progress has been as rapid as any philosopher could ask. The resources of the land in money, in men, in provisions, in forage, and in intelligence, has surprised us all, and we have had as much success as could be hoped for. The Mississippi is now ours, not by commission but by right, by the right of manly power.”

General Sherman

General Sherman

August 3– Monday– Agardpuszta, Hungary– Birth of Geza Gardonyi, author and journalist.