When Will We See Peace Again?~September 1863~the 7th to the 10th

When Will We See Peace Again? ~ Myra Adelaide Inman

As fighting continues, civilans and soldiers worry and wonder. Mary Chesnut visits with Mary Custis Lee, has ice for sweets and attends a wedding. President Lincoln urges the recruitment of more black soldiers. A Union general urges promotion for Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin. France is spending a lot of money to conquer Mexico. The crisis in Poland still simmers. And life continues, shaping the future in ways not immediately visible.

Mary Chesnut

Mary Chesnut

September 7– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– Mary Chesnut records a recent meeting with Mary Custis Lee, General Lee’s wife and a great-granddaughter of Mary Custis Washington. “That day, Mrs Lee gave me a likeness of the General in a photograph taken soon after the Mexican War. She likes it so much better than the later ones. He certainly was a handsome man then, handsomer even than now. I shall prize it for Mrs Lee’s sake, too. She said old Mrs Chesnut and her aunt, Nellie Custis (Mrs Lewis) were very intimate during Washington’s Administration in Philadelphia. I told her Mrs Chesnut, senior, was the historical member of our family; she had so much to tell of Revolutionary times. She was one of the ‘white-robed choir’ of little maidens who scattered flowers before Washington at Trenton Bridge, which everybody who writes a life of Washington asks her to give an account of. . . . Mrs Ould and Mrs Davis came home with me. Lawrence had a basket of delicious cherries. ‘If there were only some ice,’ said I. Respectfully Lawrence answered, and also firmly, ‘Give me money and you shall have ice.’ By the underground telegraph he had heard of an ice-house over the river, though its fame was suppressed by certain Sybarites, as they wanted it all. In a wonderfully short time we had mint-juleps and sherry-cobblers.” [Sybarites refers to residents of the ancient city of Sybaris, a Greek colony in Italy, whose inhabitants were known as lovers of luxury and pleasure.]

September 7– Monday– near Nicholasville, Kentucky– George Whitman writes to his mother. “I last wrote you, from Covington where we were having first rate easy times and fine living. We left there, August 26th marched down to the Depot and took the Cars for this place. We are about 100 miles from Covington and 3 from the village of Nicholasville We are right among the farmers, so of course we are all right on the grub question, pedlars every day bring in fruit, vegetables, Eggs and all that kind of thing. We have been expecting orders to march every day, and this morning we were ordered to be ready to move at any moment, with 3 days rations in Haversacks, but a few minutes ago the orders to be ready, were countermanded for some reason or another, (I think likely that word has come from Burnside that he is not likely to meet with much resistance at Knoxville).”

September 8– Tuesday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– Birth of Jessie Willcox Smith, painter and illustrator. She is the youngest of the four children of Charles and Katherine Willcox Smith. Her illustrations for children’s books and her work for various magazines will give her financial success. She will never marry and at different times in her career she will provide financially for 11 different children, including the 3 of her invalid sister. By 1915, when she will win a silver medal at the Panama Pacific Exposition, she will be one of the best known artists in the United States.

Jessie Willcox Smith in 1917

Jessie Willcox Smith in 1917

September 8– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “Let me urge that you do your utmost to get every man you can, black and white, under arms at the very earliest moment, to guard roads, bridges, and trains, allowing all the better trained soldiers to go forward to Rosecrans. Of course I mean for you to act in co-operation with and not independently of, the military authorities.” ~ President Lincoln to Governor Andrew Johnson in Nashville, Tennessee.

September 8– Tuesday– near Warrenton, Virginia– “My personal knowledge of this gallant officer’s skill and bravery upon the battlefield, his ability in drill and discipline, and his fidelity to duty in camp, added to a just admiration for his scholarship, respect for his Christian character, induces me to ask your influence on his behalf. Colonel Chamberlin joined the brigade of which he is now the commanding officer, about a year ago. At all the severe conflicts of the army since, he has greatly distinguished himself for the skillful dis position of his command and for his personal bravery. Not a battle has been fought in which the 20th Maine under his command has not added luster to our arms, and a brighter page to our history. . . . I would urge the promotion of this officer since the service, more than ever before, demands that high-toned, moral, patriotic Christian men shall lead its forces to victory.” ~ Letter of Union General James Rice to Senator William Fessenden of Maine, urging the senator to seek the promotion of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin to the rank of general. [Fessenden, age 56, a Republican and strong anti-slavery man, has served in the Senate since 1854 and at this time chairs the Senate Finance Committee.]

Senator William Fessenden

Senator William Fessenden

September 8– Tuesday– Charleston, South Carolina– Confederate defenders of Fort Sumter repulse an attack by Federal infantry. Union losses total 117; Confederate losses are unknown.

September 8– Tuesday– Cleveland, Tennessee– A local woman, Myra Adelaide Inman, confides her worries to her diary. “All of the southern soldiers have left today. Oh, I feel so sad to think the southern army has left and left us to our fate. We are looking for the Yankees in soon. Mr. Farrow was here this morn. We are very busy baking biscuits for some soldiers, the last we will cook for them in a long time, I am afraid. When will we see peace again? I never wish to pass such a week as the last has been, such confusion and noise I never witnessed. Cousin John Lea came and told us good-bye about 2 o’clock. He went down to Dalton [Georgia]. I am very lonesome this eve. The soldiers have all left and everything is quiet, looking for the Yankees [to come] in every minute. When will we see another southern soldier, we are now in the federal government, how I detest it. I do wish we could whip them. We are cut off from all of our friends and relatives. The town looks deserted. I took a good cry this eve about our fate.”

September 8– Tuesday– Sabine Pass, Texas– A small Confederate garrison surprises and routs a much larger Union force inflicting about 200 Federal casualties. The Confederates report no killed or wounded.

September 9– Wednesday– Cambridge, Massachusetts– “The Times [of London], I see, has now sent over an ‘Italian’ to report upon us– a clever man, but a double foreigner, as an Italian with an English wash over him. Pray, don’t believe a word he says about our longing to go to war with England. We are all as cross as terriers with your kind of neutrality, but the last thing we want is another war. If the rebel iron-clads are allowed to come out, there might be a change.” ~ Letter of James Russell Lowell to the English author Thomas Hughes whose 1857 novel Tom Brown’s School Days was a best seller in the United States as well as in Great Britain.

James Russell Lowell

James Russell Lowell

September 9– Wednesday– near Warrenton, Virginia– “It was a somewhat sad sight to look at these veterans, with their travel-stained uniforms and their battered canteens; many of the regiments had no more than 200 men, and their flags were so tattered that you could barely read such names as Fair Oaks, and Williamsburg . . . . The men looked spare and brown and in good health; and also as if they would then and there fight French Zouaves or anybody else you chose to bring on. . . . Some divisions at Gettysburg marched thirty-six miles in one day; and then fought for two days after that, with scarcely anything to eat or to drink. Among the troops were the 11th and 16th Massachusetts regiments and the 10th battery, and certainly none of the soldiers looked better. . . . The artillery looked even more serviceable than the infantry; and, independent of the large number of guns, was well horsed and well manned. As a rule I am much pleased with the aspect of our officers, high and low. They are cleanly and have a firm, quiet bearing. You can often pick out those who have been through the thick of it, by their subdued and steady look.” ~ Colonel Theodore Lyman, aide-de-camp to General Meade, in a letter to his wife, Elizabeth “Mimi” Russell.

September 9– Wednesday– Chattanooga, Tennessee– Federal troops enter the city following its evacuation by Confederate forces. Union forces also establish control of the critical Cumberland Gap, the intersection of Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia.

September 9– Wednesday– Bishopsworth, Somerset, England– Birth of Herbert Henry Ball. In 1886, he and his new wife will move to Toronto, Canada, where he will work as a journalist, serve as a Conservative Member of Parliament from 1926 to 1929 and as the King’s Printer, printing Canadian government documents from 1930 to 1934.

Herbert Henry Ball c.1921

Herbert Henry Ball c.1921

September 9– Wednesday– Paris, France–A French government report reveals that French operations in Mexico have cost over 172,000,000 francs. [About 2.1 million U S dollars in 1863; about 37.751 million in today’s dollars.]

September 10– Thursday– Centreville, Virginia– “I to-day had to call attention in a general order to the prevalence of profanity in the command, and at the same time to add that perhaps I had not set them a good example in this respect. I don’t swear very much or very deep, but I do swear, more often at officers than men, and there is a great deal of swearing in the regiment which I wish to check; of course, I shall stop it in myself entirely; I shall enforce the Articles of War if necessary. . . . I think we must make up our minds to a long war yet, and possibly to a war with some European power. For years to come, I think all our lives will have to be more or less soldierly, i. e. simple and unsettled; simple because unsettled.” ~ Letter of Union Colonel Charles Russell Lowell to his sweetheart, Effie Shaw.

September 10– Thursday– Camden, South Carolina– “It is a comfort to turn from small political jealousies to our grand battles to Lee and Kirby Smith after Council and Convention squabbles. Lee has proved to be all that my husband prophesied of him when he was so unpopular and when Joe Johnston was the great god of war. The very sound of the word convention or council is wearisome. Not that I am quite ready for Richmond yet. We must look after home and plantation affairs, which we have sadly neglected. Heaven help my husband through the deep waters. The wedding of Miss Aiken, daughter of Governor Aiken, the largest slave-owner in South Carolina; Julia Rutledge, one of the bridesmaids; the place Flat Rock. We could not for a while imagine what Julia would do for a dress. My sister Kate remembered some muslin she had in the house for curtains, bought before the war, and laid aside as not needed now. The stuff was white and thin, a little coarse, but then we covered it with no end of beautiful lace. It made a charming dress, and how altogether lovely Julia looked in it!” ~ Diary of Mary Chesnut. [William Aiken, 1806-1887, was governor of South Carolina from 1844 to 1846 and U S Congressman from 1851 to 1857. No information seems to be readily available about his daughter.]


September 10– Thursday– Bayou Forche, Arkansas– Federal troops rout an entrenched Confederate force, thereby opening the way to advance on Little Rock.

September 10– Thursday– Little Rock, Arkansas– Confederate forces withdraw toward Rockport and this evening this important Southern center is occupied by Union troops.

September 10– Thursday– Paris, France– A correspondent for the New York Times reports on French newspaper opinion regarding the situation in Poland. “The Siecle publishes an article upon the Polish question, stating that the declaration of the Journal de St. Petersburg shows that Russia is not more accommodating at present than in July. The Siecle thinks it impossible that France, England and Austria should tolerate the present position of affairs. They will be forced to take one part or another, and say plainly, yes or no. If England and Austria should decline to sanction an ultimatum in reply to the unmeaning notes in which Russia scoffs at their remonstrances, the other Powers will be ready to go hand in hand with France for the deliverance of Poland. The insurgent Leader Lelewel had suffered a decisive defeat at the hands of the Russians. Lelewel himself is said to have been killed or wounded, and Grekowicz had undertaken the command of his corps. A later dispatch says Lelewel was left dead on the field, pierced by two bullets. The Paris Patrie urges the recognition of the Poles as belligerents by the great Powers.”


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