More Toward Universal Freedom~October 1863~the 16th to 19th

More Toward Universal Freedom~ New York Times

The New York Times evaluates the nature of the war and contrasts the goals of the Confederacy with those of the Union. President Lincoln calls for 300,000 more volunteers. General Grant receives command of all Federal forces in the west. Soldiers and civilians write about conditions in camp and at home. The wife of a black soldier is exploited by white men. Political tensions involving Russia, Poland, France, Mexico, Great Britain and the United States continue to simmer and lead to rumors of new wars. And the world continues to turn as a new generation of history makers are born.


October 16– Friday– Camp Nelson, Kentucky– “There is scarcely any sickness in the Regiment now, as our camp is very dry and healthy and is kept perfectly clean. I don’t hear any talk of our leaving here, so I think the chances are that we will stay here some time. I am just as comfortable here as can be, I have first rate grub, a good stove, plenty of wood, and everything nice. . . . The election last Tuesday in Ohio was a grand victory for our side; don’t you Yorkers feel a little ashamed about your election last Fall, when you see how other states treat such chaps as Seymour & Vallandigham? Jeff, how is it that you never write to a fellow now a days, I’ve a good mind to get mad at all of you. Mattie what’s the news at your house, have you got lots of good things put away for the winter? I make lots of reckoning, of good dinners with you, if I come home this winter. Mother don’t neglect to write as soon as you get this, and let me know all the particulars of your affairs.” ~ Letter from Union soldier George Whitman to his mother and family in Brooklyn, New York.

October 16– Friday– near Chattanooga, Tennessee– “I have been looking for Father but no word of him. Now if he has not started tell him not to start now. The bridges between here and Atlanta are well washed away and General Bragg will not allow any citizen to come up. He had better wait some two weeks before he comes. I want him to bring me something good to eat and please send me a pair of pants and a shirt. I had a shirt stolen from me a few days ago, also please send me a towel. I am in good health. I have got me a Yankee horse, he was wounded in the fight in the foot. I think I can cure him. He won’t cost me but very little. I told the man I got him from if I cured I would pay him twenty-five dollars. He is a young horse four years old and, [if] I get him well, will be worth eight hundred or a thousand dollars.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier William Stilwell to his wife Molly in Georgia.

October 16– Friday– Birmingham, England– Birth of Austen Chamberlain, the second child and eldest son of Joseph Chamberlain and Harriet Kendrick Chamberlain. His mother dies giving birth to him. He will hold a number of cabinet level posts in the British government and in 1925 will share the Nobel Peace Prize along with American Charles G Dawes.

Sir Austen Chamberlin

Sir Austen Chamberlin

October 17– Saturday– New York City– Harper’s Weekly declares that Russian friendliness to the Lincoln administration is justly upsetting France and Great Britain and opines that “an alliance with the Czar . . . may prove an epoch of no mean importance in history.”

October 17– Saturday– Washington, New Jersey– Birth of Louisa Boyd Yeomans King, author, lecturer and pioneer of the garden club movement. The third of the five children of Alfred and Elizabeth Blythe Yeomans, she will write twelve books about gardening as well as numerous magazine articles.

Louisa Boyd Yeoman King

Louisa Boyd Yeoman King

October 17– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “Whereas the term of service of a part of the volunteer forces of the United States will expire during the coming year; and Whereas, in addition to the men raised by the present draft, it is deemed expedient to call out 300,000 volunteers to serve for three years or the war, not, however. exceeding three years. Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy thereof and of the militia of the several States when called into actual service, do issue this my proclamation, calling upon the governors of the different States to raise and have enlisted into the United States service for the various companies and regiments in the field from their respective States their quotas of 300,000 men. I further proclaim that all volunteers thus called out and duly enlisted shall receive advance pay, premium, and bounty, as heretofore communicated to the governors of States by the War Department through the Provost-Marshal-General’s Office by special letters.” ~ Proclamation by President Lincoln.

October 17– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– In the evening, President Lincoln, his wife Mary, their son Tad, and Lincoln’s secretary William Stoddard attend a benefit performance of William Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth. Theater owner Leonard Grover stages the play which stars James Wallack as Macbeth, Charlotte Cushman as Lady Macbeth, and Edward Davenport as Macduff. The Washington Evening Star reports that the Lincoln party “occupied the lower stage boxes to the right.” The benefit garners over $2,000 for the Sanitary Commission and “Mr. Grover. . . gave the use of the entire resources of his establishment for this benefit, (including the services of two stars at his own expense,) and Miss Cushman generously contributed her valuable aid to the same object.” [The $2,000 would equal $37,700 today.]

October 17– Saturday– Louisville, Kentucky– General Grant meets with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. Stanton gives Grant orders creating the Military Division of the Mississippi which Grant himself is to command, replacing General Rosecrans with General Thomas, and General Sherman to have command of operations in Tennessee. Thomas and Sherman are to operate under Grant’s command.

General Grant

General Grant

October 17– Saturday– Bolivar, Tennessee– “I have commenced making myself a calico dress overcasting collar and cuffs. Ma says she is not going to make anymore common clothes for me. If I don’t make them then I will have to do without. She seems determined to make me learn how to sew. The Negroes all say that while there is a book on the place ‘Miss Sallie ain’t gwine to sew.’ They say that it is not because I am such a lover of books but because I don’t want to sew, which I expect is about half true as I dislike sewing very much indeed. But one consolation is that Ma says that sewing to all beginners is irksome.” ~ Diary of Sally Wendel Fentress.

October 17– Saturday– London, England– “One thing is clearly apparent. It is that England has a healthy dread of war with America. English statesmen see nothing so disastrous. Consequently, Mr. Laird’s iron-clads are now, it is said, under charge of royal marines, and there is no fear of their leaving the Mersey until another effort has been made to hold them by law, or to make a law that will hold them. . . . As to France, there are no present signs of hasty movement. There seems now little doubt that the new Emperor, as he has been formally saluted, will go to Mexico in February or March. The presence of the new Empress, it is thought, will be better than an army of 40,000 men. All these matters will be pushed forward with the obstinacy of Napoleon and of France – of the man who is not accustomed to abandon his projects, and of the nation that overcame that same invincible obstacle in Algeria. But, must this of necessity lead to war between France and America? If the Monroe Doctrine be adhered to, yes; if it be abandoned, no. Napoleon has no occasion to become the ally of the South, unless threatened with war by the North. If so threatened on account of his occupation of Mexico and establishment of a monarchy there, he will naturally seek to strengthen himself by an alliance with any Power or any parties, that will aid him in carrying out his place of empire and aggrandizement. . . . The Queen of England has attended the uncovering of a statue of the late Prince Consort at Aberdeen.” ~ Dispatch sent by a reporter to the New York Times.

October 18– Sunday– New York City– “Our fathers fought in the Revolution for freedom. That was the sign by which they must conquer. That was emblazoned amid the glories of the banner under which they fought. And feeling this great truth pulsating in their every heart-beat, they could not but look kindly upon the effort of any slave to make himself a freeman among freemen, by offering his life as readily as they were offering theirs for their common country. But with the rebels it is the reverse. They have set Slavery as the foundation-stone of their Government. They have plunged into rebellion and crime of all sorts in defense of Slavery. The liberty which they claim to be fighting for is a liberty to enslave others. They declare their Confederacy to be ‘a God-sent missionary’ to teach ‘Slavery, Subordination and Government.’ We, on the other hand, fight on different conditions. All the logic of the struggle leads us more and more toward universal freedom. Every dollar spent, every drop of blood shed, is an argument in this direction, and leaves behind an influence which leads us to take a bolder stand and more decided measures for freedom to each and to all. The bravery of the black man has already silenced the opposition to these regiments.” ~ New York Times on “The Negro Soldier Question.”

October 18– Sunday– Chattanooga, Tennessee– Union General Thomas, now in command of the defense of the city, responds to General Grant’s orders not to withdraw by wiring that “We will hold the town till we starve.”

General George Thomas

General George Thomas

October 19– Monday– New York City– “There has been a great deal of speculation concerning the purpose for which vessels-of-war of each of the three greatest Powers of Europe were in our harbor. The public, we believe, generally settled down into the belief that the English happened here; that the Russians had come to our Atlantic coast for safety in event of war between [Russian Tsar] Alexander and [French Emperor] Napoleon; but nothing intelligible could be suggested regarding the French, unless, like the English, their coming was an accident.” ~ The New York Times.

 October 19– Monday– near Grand Ridge, Illinois– Birth of John Huston Finley, the first of the four children of Lydia Margaret McCombs Finley and James Gibson Finley. An educator and author, Finley will serve as president of the City College of New York [1903 to 1913], New York State Commissioner of Education and from 1921 until his death in 1940 as an editor at the New York Times.

John Huston Finley

John Huston Finley

October 19– Monday– Nashville, Tennessee– “The bearer Maria, Colored woman recently belonging to William Cartright, residing about eight miles on the Murfreesboro Pike has represented her case to me as one a peculiar hardship and ill usage. According to her statement her husband is a colored soldier in the regular service of the government, that while living with in the lines of this post her owner came and managed to steal her child away and convey it to his residence, being desirous of obtaining her clothes, and her other children, who trusted the word of a Tennessee soldier who offered for five dollars to convey her safely to the residence of her master, obtain her children and clothing and insure her safe return within the lines, but this was a trap, as she alleges by which for the sum of thirty dollars the soldier or individual so presenting himself had agreed to deliver he up to her master, who no sooner had her in his power than he locked her up for four days and inflicted upon her a most cruel beating, the marks of which she now carries on her person. A cruel beating was also inflicted on one of the children whose marks and scars was seen by one of the soldiers of the 129 Illinois Regiment. She now hopes to obtain from your excellency the necessary authority and help to obtain her clothing and two children. I have no doubt of the entire truthfulness of her statement, and I feel sure Governor that your well known regard for righteousness and your sympathy for the weak and oppressed will prompt you to do what may be within your power to redress the wrongs from the suppliant who will present you with this humble document.” ~ Letter from Thomas Cotton, Chaplain, 129th Regiment Illinois Volunteers, to Governor Andrew Johnson.

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