To Heal the Wounds of the Nation~October 1863~the 1st to the 3rd

To Heal the Wounds of the Nation~ Abraham Lincoln

As the new month begins the Atlantic Monthly rebukes a prominent British author. President Lincoln calls for a national day of thanksgiving. Secretary of the Navy Welles evaluates a Union general. The visiting Russians continue to cause a stir in New York City. The reform-minded Hutchinson Family singers perform in Boston. Walt Whitman receives monetary support to continue his visitations to the wounded. In Memphis a fallen woman takes her own life.

Offices of the Atlantic Monthly

Offices of the Atlantic Monthly

October– Boston, Massachusetts– This month’s Atlantic Monthly carries a response to Thomas Carlyle. “You have Homered it of late in a small way, one sees. You profess to sing the purport of our national struggle. ‘South chooses to hire its servants for life, rather than by the day, month, or year; North bludgeons the Southern brain to prevent the same’: that, you say, is the American Iliad in a Nutshell. In a certain sense, more’s the pity, it must be supposed that you speak correctly; but be assured that this is the American Iliad in no other nutshell than your private one,– in those too contracted cerebral quarters to which, with respect to our matters, your powerful intelligence, under such prolonged and pitiless extremes of dogmatic compression, has at last got reduced. . . . To have lost, in the hour of our trial, the fellowship of yourself, and of others in England whom we most delighted to honor, is a loss indeed. Yet we grieve a thousand times more for you than for ourselves; and are not absorbed in any grief. It is clear to us that the Eternal Providence has assigned us our tasks, not by your advice, nor by vote of Parliament,– astonishing to sundry as that may seem. Your opinion of the matter we hold, therefore, to be quite beside the matter; and drivel, like that of your nutshell-epic, by no means tends to make us wish that Providence had acted upon European counsel rather than upon His Own! Moreover, we are very busy in these days, and can have small eye to the by-standers. We are busy, and are likely to be so long; for the peace that succeeds to such a war will be as dangerous and arduous as the war itself. We have as little time, therefore, to grieve as to brag or bluster; we must work. We neither solicit nor repel your sympathy; we must work,– work straight on, and let all that be as it can be.” [At this time Carlyle, historian and essayist, is approaching age 68 and is in declining health. Since 1850 he has moved away from earlier liberal ideas, attacked the idea of democracy and publicly supported slavery by which he has alienated English thinkers such as John Stuart Mill and Americans such as Ralph Waldo Emerson.]

October 1– Thursday– Auburn, Virginia; Elizabethtown, Arkansas; Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia; Mountain Gap, Tennessee; Lewisville, Virginia– Skirmishes, raids and fire fights add to the number of killed and wounded.

October 1– Thursday– Boston, Massachusetts– “It was with exceeding interest that Mr. Curtis and I listened to the letter you lately wrote to Dr. Russell, which came to us through my sister, Miss Stevenson. Its effect was to make us desire to aid you in the good work you are engaged in, caring for the sick and wounded soldiers. We inclose thirty dollars and feel very glad to have the opportunity to minister to their comfort. Mr. Curtis would send it anonymously, but I think it is pleasant to know where one had excited an interest, and in asking you to acknowledge its receipt, my wish is most to be sure that it has reached its destination.” ~ Letter from Margaret Curtis to Walt Whitman. [The $30 gift would be like one of $566 today.]

October 1– Thursday– New York City– “Much impeded by the crowd that blocked Broadway, spectators of the reception of the Russian naval officers whose squadron is now in the harbor. This evening to the Club; a large assemblage, and a speech from a reverend Englishman, Dr Massie, who is here to represent the anti-Southern feeling of England. He seems a sensible, venerable old codger, white as to his hair, nut-crackery as to his countenance, accurate as to his diction.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong. [James William Massie, age 64, born in Scotland, spent 17 years as a missionary in India. He has spoken against slavery for many years and at the time of this tour of the United States–one of several in his lifetime– he serves as Secretary of the Home Missionary Society in London.]

October 1– Thursday– New York City– The city holds a parade to honor the visiting Russian naval officers. The Russian admiral has his ships fire a salute to honor the Americans. The mayor and other dignitaries give speeches of welcome. Houses and shops display both the Stars and Stripes and the Imperial Russian flag.


visting Russian naval officers

visting Russian naval officers

October 1– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– Senator John Sherman of Ohio visits President Lincoln in the White House to discuss the situation in Missouri and Kansas.

October 1– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “All failures, or any want of success, is imputed to the Navy, though entirely blameless, and though the fault, if any, is with the military. Without the Navy, Morris Island could not be retained by the army, and all proceedings would terminate, yet the Navy gets no credit. Its services are not properly appreciated, and General Gillmore, though a good engineer, is, I apprehend, not adapted to full command– cannot manage men, and has the infirmities which belong to engineers and those who are trained to secondary and scientific positions. They can criticize, and blame others without the faculty of accomplishing great results themselves.” ~ Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles writes in his diary about the lack of progress against Charleston, South Carolina. [General Quincy Adams Gillmore, commanding operations against Charleston, graduated first in his class at West Point in 1849. For many years studies at West Point focused primarily on military engineering and Gilmore taught engineering there for four years during the 1850’s. He was one of the first Union generals to integrate units of black soldiers into his attack infantry instead of restricting them to KP, supply or teamster work.]


Gideon Welles

Gideon Welles

October 1– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “I always carry a haversack with some articles most wanted– physical comforts are a sort of basis. I distribute nice large biscuit, sweet-crackers, sometimes cut up a lot of peaches with sugar, give preserves of all kinds, jellies, &c. tea, oysters, butter, condensed milk, plugs of tobacco, (I am the only one that doles out this last, & the men have grown to look to me) wine, brandy, sugar, pickles, letter-stamps, envelopes & note-paper, the morning papers, common handkerchiefs & napkins, undershirts, socks, dressing gowns, & fifty other things. I have lots of special little requests. Frequently I give small sums of money & shall do so with your brother’s contribution– the wounded are very frequently brought & lay here a long while without a cent. I have been here & in [the] front 9 months doing this thing, & have learned much– two-thirds of the soldiers are from 15 to 25 or 6 years of age, lads of 15 or 16 more frequent than you have any idea.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman describing his hospital visitation efforts to William S Davis, a lawyer in Worcester, Massachusetts.

October 1– Thursday– Harrison, Tennessee– For unknown reasons a Confederate raiding party burns the public records.

October 2– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– The Hutchinson Family– reorganized, reconstructed and augmented: by the union of the House of John and the Tribe of Asa will continue their series of spirit-stirring Concerts in the cause of Freedom, Humanity, and Reform, . . . at the Melonaon. Tickets of admission: evenings, for adults, 25 cents; children, 15 cents. Afternoon adults, 15 cents, children 10 cents. The character and object of their concerts, and the superior excellence of their singing, should secure the most liberal patronage. Go and hear them!” ~ The Liberator. [The Hutchinsons, from New Hampshire, began singing their four-part harmonies in 1840. For years they have stirred controversy by appearing on public platforms with abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison and singing songs about abolition, women’s rights and temperance. The 25 cent ticket would cost $4.72 today, quite reasonable for a program of live music.]


Hitchinson Family Singers

Hitchinson Family Singers

October 2– Friday– Off the coast of Texas–U S warships seize a British merchant ship attempting to run the blockade.

 October 3– Saturday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– Two regiments of black soldiers parade through the city center and are warmly applauded.

October 3– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “It has seemed to me fit and proper that they [the blessings received] should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans. mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.” ~ President Abraham Lincoln, Proclamation calling for a national Thanksgiving Day.


October 3– Saturday– Memphis, Tennessee– “Another suicide has occurred in our city among that unfortunate class whose attractions are made the sport of bad men, and whose short lives are a standing memento mori of the prostitutes. Poor Mary Raymond came to this city as the nurse of a lady. So far as is known she was virtuous and respectable. But she fell a victim to the lust of a seducer, and her downward career was even more rapid than is usual with the class. On Thursday, in the absence of her paramour, she was arrested under the General Order, which is sweeping the Cyprians from our streets, and conveyed to the Irving Prison. As she entered she made the declaration that she would never leave the place alive. She was, however, released in a few hours, but before going from the place took a large dose of laudanum, which threw her into spasms, and terminated her short and unhappy life at six A. M. yesterday. Dr. Dickinson, the coroner, held the usual inquest. The sin of seduction needs no rebuke at the hands of the press. If the death of this poor creature has not a tongue sharp and severe enough to reach the profligate, there is nothing we could say will touch their heart. Poor Mary Raymond, there is a terrible judgment in store for the man who led her into the evil way which has proved so short and fatal.” ~ Memphis Bulletin

Pyotor Kozlov, Russian explorer

Pyotor Kozlov, Russian explorer

 October 3– Saturday– Dukhoushcina, Smolensk region, Russia– Birth of Pyotr Kuzmich Kozlov, Russian explorer who will make six important expeditions through parts of Asia [1883, 1888-89, 1893-95, 1899-1901, 1907-09 and 1923-26.]

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: