God Bless the Russians~September 1863~the 23rd to the 26th

God Bless the Russians. ~ Gideon Welles

Russian warships arrive in New York City. Sent by the Tsar in order to be sure that the Imperial Russian fleet is not ice-bound in the event of war against England and France over the Polish question, the move is praised by Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles and the New York Times. Confederate President Jeff Davis reaches out diplomatically to the Pope in hope of stopping Yankee recruitment in Europe. News about the battle at Chickamauga reaches north and south. Abolitionist editor Garrison writes about Irish immigrants. Colonel Charles Russell Lowell makes wedding plans. The New York Times covers women’s fashions. And life moves on as people who will change the world are born.

September 23– Wednesday– Memphis, Tennessee– Birth of Mary Church Terrell, African American educator, lecturer, author and activist for civil rights and suffrage. Her parents, Robert Church and Louisa Ayers, are both former slaves. Ms Terrell will graduate from Oberlin College, become one of the founding members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People [NAACP], at age 85 become the first black woman member of the American Association of University Women and at age 89 sue to desegregate restaurants and lunchrooms in Washington, D.C.

Mary Church Terrell

Mary Church Terrell

September 23– Wednesday– Aubonne, Canton of Vaud, Switzerland– Birth of Alexandre Yersin, a bacteriologist who will help develop the anti-rabies serum and discover the cause of bubonic plague.

Alexandre Yersin in 1893

Alexandre Yersin in 1893

September 24– Thursday– New York City– Several Russian warships arrive on a friendly visit. Today’s New York Times reports that “The Russian frigate Osliaba, which has lain at anchor in our harbor for several days past, and has been an object of so much interest to our citizens, is about to be reinforced by a fleet of four or five vessels of the same nationality. The English steamer which arrived yesterday reports having signaled the fleet a short distance outside of Sandy Hook. On paying a visit to the Osliaba, yesterday, we found her officers in the best of spirits at the prospect of soon being joined by so large a force of their countrymen, with whom they can share the pleasures of their visit here . . . . An Admiral of the Russian navy accompanies the fleet, but his name, or the names of the vessels composing the fleet, are not known on board of the Osliaba. The Osliaba has been absent from Russia two years, and came to this port from Cadiz [Spain]. She is here awaiting orders, and will probably join the fleet on its departure from this port. Those who have been on board of her all speak in the highest terms of her appearance and management, and of the rare intelligence and gentlemanly bearing of her officers of every grade. We were told by the courteous mid-shipmen who escorted us through the frigate, that officers belonging to the Russian navy are required to be able to speak English and French. There were none on board the Osliaba who could not speak the former language correctly and fluently. Last night the vessels spoken of above as signaled, and which prove to be steam frigates, arrived at and anchored in Flushing Bay.”

September 24– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– To support operations in Tennessee, President Lincoln issues an executive order that Union generals are “authorized to take military possession of all railroads, with their cars, locomotives, plants, and equipments, that may be necessary for the execution of the military operation committed to his charge; and all officers, agents, and employees of said roads are directed to render their aid and assistance.” He also orders the lifting of the naval blockade of the port of Alexandria, Virginia, which is now under Federal control.

September 24– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– President Davis appoints Ambrose Dudley Mann, age 62, a Virginian, a lawyer and diplomat, as the Confederacy’s special agent to the Papacy. The objective of the appointment is to ask the Pope to help stop Federal recruitment of Irish and German Catholics. Recruiters for the Union forces offer an enlistment bounty which draws many poor Europeans. [After the war ends, Mann will not return to the United States but will remain in Europe and die in Paris in 1889.]

September 25– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– A brief article begins with a description of the condition of the people of Ireland as a people deprived of “education, very poor, under the absolute control of . . . priestcraft, and . . . greatly demoralized [by English rule]. In Ireland they knew nothing of prejudice or malevolence against the Negro race and it is among the dreadful results of American slavery, that it has infected the minds of the Irish, who have come over here, with a colorphobia . . . which so disgracefully characterizes native-born Americans. Nevertheless, we entertain for them nothing but the utmost good will and the deepest compassion. . . . Our moral indignation is directed wholly against those who take advantage of their ignorance and credulity to make them serve the cause of injustice and oppression.” ~ An article in today’s Liberator by William Lloyd Garrison on the Irish immigrants involved in the New York City draft riots in July. [Garrison had no animosity toward Irish immigrants as some Bostonians of the period did but he was strongly antagonistic to all organized religion. See the award winning biography All on Fire: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of Slavery by Henry Mayer. Also, the classic Freedom’s Ferment by Alice Felt Tyler and The Web of Progress by William and Jane Pease.]

September 25– Friday– New York City– “September is usually one of those months of transition in which it is most difficult to speak with certainty of styles that will be adopted in the future. Even the semi-annual opening does not always reveal the choicest secrets of what is to be, the public exhibition being rather intended to suit the tastes and tempt the pockets of Peoria, than settle the vexed questions of taste and style for the fastidious . . . of Fifth-avenue and Madison-square. . . . ladies are just now intruding extensively upon male attire. Not only the hat, but high military boots are said to have been appropriated abroad, although, as yet, none have been seen in this country; also the vest and the cane, leaving absolutely nothing but the trousers, which, figuratively, have been worn by married women for a long time. This invasion threatens an absolute revolution in fashion, and with the aid of a certain mysterious contrivance for raising the dress, gives to the most radical dress reformers all they ever asked. . . . Hoops will be worn undoubtedly rather larger, it is said, than during the past season. The Princess Alexandra has used her influence with Queen Victoria, and has prevailed upon her to take back all she recently said against this popular female institution. . . . Sets of jewels are altogether confined to full dress occasions . . . . The cameo is the favorite style, and these may be cut in any real, or allegorical figure, and in the most costly stones, and worn as bracelet, ring or breastpin. A fine chance this for preserving an enduring memento of newly-made Majors, Colonels and Brigadier-Generals.” ~ The New York Times on women’s fall fashions.


September 25– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “The English Government has interposed to prevent the armored rams built by the Lairds from coming out. . . . Things look a little threatening from France, but Louis Napoleon may not persist when he learns that England has changed her policy. Should we meet with defeat at Chattanooga, it is by no means certain England will not again assume unfriendly airs, and refer the question of the departure of the armored ships to the ‘law officers of the Crown.’ Our own ironclads and the fear of privateers which would ruin her commerce are, however, the best law, and our best safeguards. The Russian fleet has come out of the Baltic and are now in New York, or a large number of the vessels have arrived. They are not to be confined in the Baltic by a northern winter. In sending them to this country at this time there is something significant. What will be its effect on France and the French policy we shall learn in due time. It may moderate; it may exasperate. God bless the Russians.” ~ Gideon Welles in his diary comments on international relations.

September 25– Friday– Centerville, Virginia– “Did I tell you that I hoped to get a leave of absence sometime about November 1st and meant therein to come home, and that ‘s not all, but meant also to be married? I don’t believe I did tell you, for the plan, though inchoate, was not in shape to bear telling. Now I think it will; of course, I do not expect to get my leave, but I think I shall ask for it; . . . . I shall ask for twenty days, and shall try to be married in the first five (one of the first five, Henry; it only takes one day) and I want you to be married on one of the other five. E [Effie Shaw] and I would so much like to be at your wedding, old fellow. . . . Of course, in these times, weddings are what they should be– quiet, simple, and sacred.” ~ Union Colonel Charles Russell Lowell in a letter to his friend Major Henry L Higginson. [Higginson, age 28, a distant cousin of Thomas Wentworth Higginson, is like Lowell an officer in a regiment of Massachusetts cavalry. At this time he is in Boston recovering from wounds received back on June 17th.]

September 25– Friday– Columbus, Georgia– “Just gotten telegram from Willis [his son] who was in the battle near Ringgold, saying that William Mitchell, a lieutenant, was killed. Willis was wounded, flesh wound . . . . This battle has lasted several days and been most fatal. Our killed and wounded estimated at 10 to 12,000. The enemy’s loss thought to be larger than ours. We certainly made a victory. The enemy commanded by Rosecrans. Bragg commanded our army. Many have fallen from Columbus and the neighborhood. The fighting still continues about Charleston. Nothing decisive from there yet, she still holds out and thus far has escaped the enemy. Elbert [another son] is still in Mississippi. . . . Cotton not so high as it has been 35 to 45c.” ~ John Banks in his diary. [The price for cotton at 45 cents/pound would equal about $8.49 in today’s money.]

September 26– Saturday– New York City– “This is the only fleet of Russian vessels that has ever been seen in our waters, and its appearance at this particular time will doubtless give rise to a variety of speculations among our own people, and perhaps to still more anxious perturbations on the other side of the Atlantic. It is most likely a coincidence which has no great political significance, but it fortunately affords an opportunity, eagerly desired by our citizens, of giving a hospitable welcome to the representatives of the only leading European Power which has manifested any sympathy for us as a people during our life struggle, or exhibited anything like candor in the view it has taken of the position of our Government in its present contest with rebels.” ~ New York Times.

visting Russian naval officers

visting Russian naval officers

September 26– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln and members of his Cabinet express their displeasure that Union troop movements to support General Rosecrans in Chattanooga, Tennessee, are published in the New York Post.

September 26– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “The most reliable account we have of the battle leaves little doubt we were beaten, and only the skill and valor of General Thomas and his command saved the whole concern from a disastrous defeat. McCook and Crittenden are reported to have behaved ingloriously. There is obscurity and uncertainty respecting Rosecrans on the last day that should be cleared up.” ~ Gideon Welles writes in his diary about the battle at Chickamauga.

September 26– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– “The Execution of Spencer Kellogg. – This person, convicted of desertion and of being a spy, was hanged yesterday at Camp Lee, in the presence of the military and a large concourse of citizens. He was cool, calm and collected up to the last moment, and gave the signal himself for the drop to fall. He was attended by several clergymen, who administered to him the consolations of religion. On reaching the gallows, Kellogg examined the rope to see if it was strong enough; and had a conversation with Captain Alexander and others.” ~ The Richmond Sentinel.

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