The Ship Rides Safe & Sound~October 1863~25th to 27th

The Ship Rides Safe & Sound ~ Walt Whitman

Whitman praises President Lincoln while the President begins considering standing for re-election next year. Soldiers write home. Black Union soldiers prove once again their combat readiness. Visiting Russian naval officers enjoy Niagra Falls. Southern socialite Mary Chesnut entertains Confederate officers. Two northern women raise a lot of money for the Sanitary Commission.

Seal of the U S Sanitary Commission

Seal of the U S Sanitary Commission

October 25– Sunday– Niagra Falls, New York– “They spent all day yesterday, from breakfast till dark, ‘doing’ the Falls, and there are few places of interest that were not visited by every officer of the fleet. They were allowed free passes everywhere . . . . The Russians . . . give the American side the preference . . . . They have spent their money very freely, however, for curiosities, and their presence here so late in the year, when the ‘season’ was thought to be over, has been a perfect godsend to the venders of these articles. All of them seem bound to have a plentiful supply of mementoes of their visit to this memorable place. It speaks well for their taste and judgment that their most liberal purchases are of stereoscopic views of the Falls and the scenery round about. Their visit here will terminate to-morrow morning. A special train will be in readiness at 8 1/2 o’clock to take them to Buffalo, where they will stop three hours. From Buffalo they will take a special train to Elmira, where they will stop over night, and arrive in New York on Tuesday. Thus far the excursion has been a great success, and the Russians unanimously vote it the most acceptable treat they have received since their arrival in America.” ~ A reporter for the New York Times describes the visit to the Falls by the Russian naval officers whose ships are anchored in the harbor at New York City.

visiting Russian naval officers

visiting Russian naval officers

October 25– Sunday– Memphis, Tennessee– “Fannie I wish you could just look in on me this evening and see how pleasantly I am situated I think perhaps you would want to be a soldier too, our tent is about nine feet by eighteen, on one side of the tent and near the center is a good brick fireplace in which a good cheerful fire is burning; directly opposite at a small table strewed with papers two or three ink stands, two books a looking glass, clothes, brush, match box, etc. is the subscriber happy as a lark and feeling first rate generally, my bed is a very useful article of furniture but not very ornamental stands in the back part of the tent covered with warm woolen blankets, don’t you wish you were a soldier so you could enjoy all these luxuries and comforts. We have built winter quarters for our men and the prospect is good for our staying here all winter, though there are rumors of our leaving here soon, I don’t credit them and shall not until the order for march comes then perhaps I may be persuaded to believe it. We are so comfortably situated now that I should rather dislike going into the field and leaving here just as we have got everything so nicely fixed for winter, but I am ready to go anywhere they have a mind to send us.” ~ Letter from Union officer Frank Guernsey to his wife Fannie.

October 25– Sunday– Pine Bluff, Arkansas– Early in the morning a company of Union cavalry, including black soldiers of the 5th Kansas Cavalry, head toward Princeton, Alabama. Soon they run into an advancing Confederate infantry division. After an exchange of fire, the Confederate commander advances under a flag of truce and demands surrender. The Federal troops refuse to surrender and slowly retreat back into Pine Bluff. About 300 freed slaves have rolled cotton bales out of the warehouses for barricades to protect the courthouse square and they join the dismounted cavalry troopers, taking positions to defend the town. After failing to take the square by a frontal assault, the Confederates attempt to set fire to the cotton bales to force out the Union soldiers but fail. The Confederate soldiers retire, leaving Pine Bluff under the control of the Federals. Casualties are 75 in total for the Union force and 40 total for the Confederate division. The Federal defenders, including the slaves, total about 850 fighters, and successfully hold off about 2,000 Confederate attackers.

22nd Regiment United States Colored Troops

22nd Regiment United States Colored Troops

October 26– Monday– Elmira, New York– “Before leaving Niagara Falls, this morning, the officers of the Russian fleet went down in a body from the Cataract House to the stairs leading to the ferry at the foot of the American Falls, where a photographic view of the entire party was taken, with the cataract in the background. It was a beautiful and cloudless morning, and, for the first time since the guests have been at the falls, a brilliant-hued rain bow shot forth from the mists of the cataract, and mounting the early sunbeams, pointed upward, like a painted horn, to the sky. The artist succeeded in getting an excellent negative, and the Russians are delighted at the prospect of having such a splendid souvenir of their visit to Niagara to transmit to their friends at home. . . . The party arrived a Elmira at 4 1/2 P.M., where they were received by a large concourse of citizens and escorted to the Brainerd House, which was decorated with Russian flags, and on the balcony of which a brass band played patriotic airs while the guests marched into the doorway. Some ten or fifteen invited guests, mostly officers of the Erie Railroad, accompanied the Russians from Buffalo to Elmira.” ~ A reporter for the New York Times.

October 26– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Thanks to both you and our friend Campbell for your kind words and intentions. A second term would be a great honor and a great labor, which, together, perhaps I would not decline if tendered.” ~ Confidential letter from Abraham Lincoln to Elihu Benjamin Washburne. [Washburne, 47 years old, is serving in Congress as a U S Representative from Illinois. He is a close friend of Lincoln as well as General Ulysses Grant. He has sounded out the President on running for re-election in the upcoming presidential race in 1864.]

Elihu Washburne

Elihu Washburne

October 26– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “The prospect of passing the Winter in the North is less agreeable than probable. Not that I have an apprehension of a want of ordinary comforts; it is the isolation from home. My wound is doing well. I am now permitted to walk a few steps daily, and in consequence, I am slowly regaining strength. My general health is good as might be expected. The authorities of the Hospital are kind and attentive to our wants and comfort; the accommodations are ample and excellent. Virginia is visible across the Potomac.” ~ Letter from Confederate Major Henry Mc Daniel to his wife Hester in Georgia. Mc Daniel was wounded and captured at Gettysburg in July.

October 26– Monday– near Cleveland, Tennessee– “Our folks are very busy hauling in our corn. We will have plenty of corn, potatoes, tallow, pumpkins, and nearly enough meat to do us another year if we can only keep it from the soldiers. How thankful we should be for our blessings. The soldiers are ruining Uncle Caswell, taking his corn, burning his rails and killing his hogs.” ~ Diary of Myra Adelaide Inman.

October 26– Monday– Sacramento, California– The first rails are laid for construction of the Central Pacific Railroad.

October 27– Tuesday– New York City– “The well-known conduct of Governor Seymour during the riot fully sustains this view. His action was not, as his warmest friend must admit, that of the Governor of a community, attempting to preserve it from anarchy and rapine, but rather of the chief of a gang of ill-used and oppressed men, whose wrongs more than half-justified their crimes. We feel for the sensitiveness of the Democratic Presses as to these New-York riots. They certainly do present to the popular mind the most awful, as well as the most natural, culmination to the Copperhead principles. They have been a very unfortunate circumstance for the Peace Democracy in the West.” ~ The New York Times continues to blame the Democratic Party in general and the peace advocates (“Copperheads”) in particular for the July riots in New York City.

October 27– Tuesday– Washington, D. C.– “Well, dear Mother, how the time passes away– to think it will soon be a year I have been away– it has passed away very swiftly somehow to me. O what things I have witnessed during that time. I shall never forget them & the war is not settled yet, & one does not see any thing at all certain about the settlement yet, but I have finally got for good I think into the feeling that our triumph is assured, whether it be sooner or whether it be later, or whatever roundabout way we are led there, & I find I don’t change that conviction from any reverses we meet, or any delays or government blunders– there are blunders enough, heaven knows, but I am thankful things have gone on as well for us as they have– thankful the ship rides safe & sound at all– then I have finally made up my mind that Mr Lincoln has done as good as a human man could do. I still think him a pretty big President. I realize here in Washington that it has been a big thing to have just kept the United States from being thrown down & having its throat cut & now I have no doubt it will throw down secession & cut its throat & I have not had any doubt since Gettysburg.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother, Louisa.


October 27– Tuesday– near Warrenton, Virginia– “Still in camp. I hardly think that our Regiment will reenlist. While several of the officers (I for one) favor it, the men as a rule want to go home when their time expires. As one half must enlist again before they will send us home, I have no hope of going. It is growing cold very fast, and although our Regiment is in stone huts we find it difficult to keep warm.” ~ Diary of Union officer Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

October 27– Tuesday– near Columbia, South Carolina– “Young Wade Hampton has been here for a few days, a guest of our nearest neighbor and cousin, Phil Stockton. Wade, without being the beauty or the athlete that his brother Preston is, is such a nice boy. We lent him horses, and ended by giving him a small party. What was lacking in company was made up for by the excellence of old Colonel Chesnut’s ancient Madeira and champagne. If everything in the Confederacy were only as truly good as the old Colonel’s wine-cellars! Then we had a salad and a jelly cake. General Joe Johnston is so careful of his aides that Wade has never yet seen a battle. Says he has always happened to be sent afar off when the fighting comes. He does not seem too grateful for this, and means to be transferred to his father’s command. He says, ‘No man exposes himself more recklessly to danger than General Johnston, and no one strives harder to keep others out of it.’ But the business of this war is to save the country, and a commander must risk his men’s lives to do it.” ~ Diary of Mary Chesnut.

Mary Livermore

Mary Livermore

October 27– Tuesday– Chicago, Illinois– Organized by Mary Livermore and Jane Hoge of the U S Sanitary Commission, the first “sanitary fair” opens to raise money to buy medical supplies, clothes and other necessities for wounded and sick Union soldiers. The price of admission is 75 cents and visitors can purchase donated items such as clothes, toys, artwork, musical instruments, books and other such things. Mary Livermore, age 42 at the time, Massachusetts-born, is an educator, writer, abolitionist and activist. Her friend Jane Hoge, Pennsylvania-born, age 52, bore 13 children and is a worker for children and destitute widows. Both have been active in the business of the Sanitary Commission since the war began. [Over the next two weeks 5,000 people will come through the gates. The fair will raise $100,000 of which $3000 will come from the sale of the original draft of the Emancipation Proclamation which President Lincoln has donated. After the war, both women will remain active in various causes and both will write first-hand accounts of their war-time experiences. In today’s dollars the cost of admission would equal $14.10 and the proceeds would equal $1,890,000]


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