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.

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