Monthly Archives: November 2013

Gratitude in the Midst of Crisis~Thanksgiving 1863

The celebration of Thanksgiving on a regular basis throughout the country on the last Thursday of November came about with seventeen years of agitation by a New England woman and the pressures of war. Sarah Josepha Hale (1788– 1879), a poet, journalist and author, began in 1846 writing letters to the President of the United States asking him to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. Four presidents ignored her. Finally in the midst of all the agonies of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln responded to her letters and editorials and issued the proclamation reprinted below. As I read it, I think is right for us today. The words are just as true and just as powerful. I am thankful for all the American women who have pestered American presidents into action.

Sarah Josepha Hale, c 1831

Sarah Josepha Hale, c 1831

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The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and 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, tranquility and Union. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln, October 3, 1863

Abraham_Lincoln

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Faces Firmly Turned Forever~November 1863~26th to 30th

Faces Firmly Turned Forever ~ Lucy Chase

Many Yankees observe Thanksgiving in a variety of ways, especially reaching out to soldiers. More slaves are fleeing their masters, headed for freedom and many joining the Union army. Union physicians claim that Southerners are mistreating Yankee prisoners. In Tennessee, things are going badly for the Confederate forces and Braxton Bragg tenders his resignation. John Hunt Morgan escapes from a Northern prison. Sarah Morgan Dawson, like many women with family serving in the military on one side or the other, rejoices to receive a letter from one of her brothers. Elsewhere in the world life goes on.

November 26– Thursday– Rocky Run, North Carolina– “There is guerillas stationed on the outside of the rebel pickets and if they catch any deserters they are shot right off. There is Negroes coming in every day or two. There will be plenty of them in New Berne pretty soon there is more Negroes than white people soldiers and all. There ain’t much of any thing to write. The boys are all well and so am I and I hope this will find you the same.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Oren Wooster to his mother. [From 1863 to the war’s end, close to 4,000 black men from this area enlist in the Union army.]

United States Colored Troops [USCT] on garrison duty

United States Colored Troops [USCT] on garrison duty

November 26– Thursday– St Helena Island, South Carolina– “Thanksgiving Day. We had quite a large dinner party– fifteen or sixteen– and a very merry evening– dancing, games. Of course, Mr Sumner was the life of the party. He is very witty and entertaining.” ~ Diary entry of Charlotte Forten Grimke, who returned from the North on October 16th. [It is unclear if this reference is to Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts.]

Charlotte Forten Grimke

Charlotte Forten Grimke

November 26– Thursday– Warm Springs, North Carolina; Morton’s Ford, Virginia; Pea Vine Valley, Tennessee; Graysville, Georgia; Raccoon Ford, Virginia; Woodson, Missouri; Pigeon Hill, Tennessee; Plymouth, North Carolina– Skirmishes, fire fights, ambushes and melees.

November 27– Friday– New York City– “The good news from Chattanooga amply confirmed, and more than confirmed. Bragg’s defeat is a rout . . . there was every sign of flight and disorganization. . . . . God be praised for this victory, which looks like the heaviest blow the country has yet dealt at [the] rebellion.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

November 27– Friday– Columbus, Ohio– Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and several of his officers escape from the state penitentiary.

John Hunt Morgan

John Hunt Morgan

November 27– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “We, the undersigned, surgeons of the United States Army, and recently prisoners in Richmond, Va., consider it our duty to publish a few facts that came to our knowledge while we were inmates of the hospital attached to Libby Prison. We enjoyed for several months daily access to the hospitals where the sick and wounded among our Union soldiers received treatment. As a result of our observations, we hereby declare our belief that since the battle of Chickamauga the number of deaths per diem has averaged fully fifty. The prevailing diseases are diarrhoea, dysentery and typhoid pneumonia. Of late the percentage of deaths has greatly increased, the result of causes that have been long at work – as insufficient food, clothing and shelter, combined with that depression of spirits brought on so often by long confinement. It may seem almost incredible when we affirm, of our personal knowledge, that in the three hospitals for Union soldiers the average mortality is nearly forty per day; and upon the most reliable testimony we are forced to believe that the deaths in the tobacco factories and upon the island will raise the total mortality among all the Union prisoners to fifty per day, or fifteen hundred monthly.” ~ Opening section of the signed statement of four Union doctors recently returned to Washington in a prisoner exchange.

November 27– Friday– Mine Run, Virginia– In an inconclusive battle, Confederate and Union forces maul each other. Total casualties– dead, wounded, missing– amount to 1272 for the Federals and 680 for the Confederates.

November 27– Friday– Chattanooga, Tennessee– “I am just in from the front. The rout of the enemy is most complete. Abandoned wagons, caissons, and occasional pieces of artillery are everywhere to be found. I think Bragg’s loss will fully reach sixty pieces of artillery. A large number of prisoners have fallen into our hands. The pursuit will continue to Red Clay in the morning, for which place I shall start in a few hours.” ~ Telegram sent early in the morning by General Grant to Washington, D.C.

canon captured by Federal troops

canon captured by Federal troops

November 27– Friday– Graysville, Georgia– “To-morrow the Fifteenth Corps will destroy railroads and all property of use to all enemy in this neighborhood, and General Hooker’s command will, in like manner, destroy that in the neighborhood of Ringgold, and . . . will make the necessary orders for the general movement back to Chattanooga. . . . . please report what you have done, and make all preliminary preparations for the return march.” ~ Orders issued by Union General William Tecumseh Sherman.

November 27– Friday– Ringgold Gap, Georgia– In a hard-fought battle Confederate forces repel a Federal attack. Total casualties– dead, wounded, and missing– are 432 for the Federal forces and 480 for the Confederate defenders.

November 28– Saturday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “On Thanksgiving Day, a number of the benevolent ladies of the city provided a first rate dinner to the sick of the Atheneum Hospital and the prisoners. In all sixty-four soldiers were provided with an excellent dinner, which must have been highly relished after living a couple of years on army rations. The ladies who deserve particular credit are, Mrs. Harry, Mrs. France, Mrs. Rhiheldaffer and Miss Maggie Baltzell.” ~ Wheeling Intelligencer.

November 28– Saturday– Confederate headquarters outside of Knoxville, Tennessee– “I am not at all confident that General Bragg has had a serious battle at Chattanooga, but there is a report that he has, and that he has fallen back to Tunnel Hill. Under this report I am entirely convinced that our only safety is in making the assault upon the enemy’s position to-morrow at daylight, and it is the more important that I should have the entire support and co-operation of the officers in this connection ; and I do hope and trust that I may have your entire support and all the force you may be possessed of in the execution of my views. It is a great mistake to suppose that there is any safety for us in going to Virginia if General Bragg has been defeated, for we leave him at the mercy of his victors, and with his army destroyed our own had better be, for we will be not only destroyed, but disgraced. There is neither safety nor honor in any other course than the one I have chosen and ordered.” ~ Letter from Confederate General Longstreet to General McLaws.

November 28– Saturday– Dalton, Georgia– General Braxton Bragg telegraphs his resignation to President Jeff Davis.

November 28– Saturday– Tromso, Norway– Birth of Johan Henrik Rye Holmboe, businessperson and liberal politician who will serve 42 on the city council three terms in the Parliament and twice in the national government, first from 1920 to 1921, second from 1923 to 1924.

November 29– Sunday– Norfolk, Virginia– “Two or three days ago, 4 hundred Negroes followed on the heels of a force sent out from Norfolk in search of guerillas, and now we find them at our doors. Two weeks ago, four hundred other Negroes, accepting a cordial invitation from colored soldiers, came to town. Not to spend the winter, not to tarry but a night, but with their faces firmly turned forever and a day from their homes? Such floods we look for all through the winter. . . . I wish you could go with my sister and myself . . . just after the arrival of refugees. Tumbling about amongst boxes, beds, tables, and tubs, the little ones with their shining eyes and frolicsome ways, sing ‘Jubilee’ for the whole community. While the more anxious parents sit on table-corners, or lean against the brick walls, too unsettled in the face of an uncertain future to find rest either for body or mind. My sister saw many reunions yesterday. One woman came to her, leading a girl of eighteen, and said, ‘See my daughter, they sold her away from me when she was just old enough to rock a cradle, and see how they’ve done her bad, see how they’ve cut her up. From her head to her feet she is scarred just as you see her face.’ A man from one of the farms just came to me for a blanket, saying, ‘I make out tolerably well myself, but my children, you see it grieves my mind.’” ~ Letter from Lucy Chase to Anna Lowell.

November 29– Sunday– near Knoxville, Tennessee– In a desperate attempt to capture the city Confederate forces assault the well defended Federal position at Fort Sanders and are repulsed, suffering heavy losses. Killed, wounded and missing total 100 for the Federals and 780 for the Confederates.

November 29– Sunday– Chattanooga, Tennessee– “So I took a stroll to Missionary Ridge– where our Regiment made a charge– followed it along where the battle raged hardest. The ground was strewn with shreds of clothing, parts of pants cut off of wounded men to dress them, cartridge boxes &c. All the dead were buried . . . . I saw men wounded in every form– shot through all parts of [the] body. The rebels had shanties or rived staves. I went into many of them– found they had rice, beans and meal for a living. Bragg’s quarters were on this ridge. . . . . The rebels could look off this ridge and see all maneuvers in our camp. Along the line of the Rail Road is to be seen smoke of burning buildings. This evening our Regiment has come, it and I go with a detail to get wood to warm their tents. They feel jolly over their exploits.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Bliss Morse to his mother.

November 29– Sunday– Fort Esperanza, Texas– After a two day battle, tonight the outnumbered and outflanked Confederates evacuate the fort after spiking the canon, burning their stores, and blowing up their ammunition magazines. [The fort will be occupied and repaired by Union forces, who will use it as their base of operations for campaigns in the area until June of the coming year.]

November 30– Monday– Dalton, Georgia– “No satisfactory excuse can possibly be given for the shameful conduct of our troops on the left in allowing their line to be penetrated. The position was one which ought to have been held by a line of skirmishers against any assaulting column, and wherever resistance was made the enemy fled in disorder after suffering heavy loss. Those who reached the ridge did so in a condition of exhaustion from the great physical exertion in climbing, which rendered them powerless, and the slightest effort would have destroyed them. Having secured much of our artillery, they soon availed themselves of our panic, and, turning our guns upon us, enfiladed the lines, both right and left, rendering them entirely untenable. Had all parts of the line been maintained with equal gallantry and persistence no enemy could ever have dislodged us, and but one possible reason presents itself to my mind in explanation of this bad conduct in veteran troops who had never before failed in any duty assigned them, however difficult and hazardous. They had for two days confronted the enemy, marshaling his immense forces in plain view, and exhibiting to their sight such a superiority in numbers as may have intimidated weak-minded and untried soldiers; but our veterans had so often encountered similar hosts when the strength of position was against us, and with perfect success, that not a doubt crossed my mind. As yet I am not fully informed as to the commands which first fled and brought this great disaster and disgrace upon our arms. Investigation will bring out the truth, however, and full justice shall be done to the good and the bad.” ~ Report by Confederate General Braxton Bragg to Richmond about the battle of Lookout Mountain.

Braxton Bragg

Braxton Bragg

November 30– Monday– New Orleans, Louisiana– “Relieved by good news from [my brother] Jimmy. The jolliest sailor letter from him came this morning, dated only the 4th instant from Cherbourg, detailing his cruise on the Georgia from leaving England, to Bahia, Trinidad, Cape of Good Hope, to France again. Such a bright, dashing letter! We laughed extravagantly over it when he told how they readily evaded the Vanderbilt, knowing she would knock them into ‘pie’ . . . . What a jolly life it must be! Now dashing in storms and danger, now floating in sunshine and fun! Wish I was a midship man! Then how he changes, in describing the prize with an assorted cargo that they took, which contained all things from a needle to pianos, from the reckless spurt in which he speaks of the plundering, to where he tells of how the Captain, having died several days before, was brought on the Georgia while Maury read the service over the body and consigned it to the deep by the flames of the dead man’s own vessel. What noble, tender, manly hearts it shows, those rough seamen stopping in their work of destruction to perform the last rites over their dead enemy. One can fancy their bare heads and sun burned faces standing in solemn silence around the poor dead man when he dropped into his immense grave. God bless the ‘pirates’!” ~ Diary of Sarah Morgan Dawson. [Jimmy is her brother serving in the Confederate Navy. His letter describes an attack upon a merchant ship.]

Sarah Morgan Dawson

Sarah Morgan Dawson

November 30– Monday– Manila, the Philippines– Birth of Andres Bonifacio, leader of the Philippine revolt against Spain. [He will be arrested, tried and executed by political opponents in the spring of 1897.]

The Fight To-day Progressed Favorably~November 1863~22nd to 26th

The Fight To-day Progressed Favorably~ Ulysses S Grant

The war in Tennessee changes drastically as Federal forces under Grant capture both Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge outside of Chattanooga, gaining an important Union victory and forcing Bragg’s Confederates to retreat.

A Philadelphia newspaper praises Lincoln’s speech at Gettysburg. A Richmond newspaper claims that Southern prisoners-of-war are being ill-used by the Yankees. Lots of people exchange letters with family and friends. The first modern Thanksgiving is observed in the North on the last Thursday of November as President Lincoln requested. He himself is ill and confined to bed in the White House.

November 22– Sunday– Worcester, Massachusetts– “What an interesting letter thee has sent me! thank thee for it, and Mrs Kirkland says I must also thank thee for our friends. She and Mrs McKaze were with us last Sunday, and I read it to them. Dear Lucy you ought both to keep a journal of the events so wonderfully working about you– and you in them, God bless you! I thank him that he put it in your hearts to go and bless his poor suffering people. What a wonderful deliverance they are having. Not as my father and all of us hoped by moral power changing the heart of the master– not as we feared by bloodhounds and fiery torch of insurrection when endurance had passed human limit, neither is their deliverance being wrought out by a thunderbolt of God’s wrath, but by the wrath and wickedness of their oppressors which is now turned to destroy themselves so that the wrath and wickedness of man is becoming the glory of God in the freedom of his long suffering devoted people who in the times of tribulation ever trusted in him. Their entire life should now be thanksgiving that their deliverance has been wrought out without one stain upon their hands and souls. Be not afraid of working up this feeling too much in them, they cannot be too thankful– Let them shout Glory to God who has gotten us the victory! Let them sing unto the Lord new songs for he hath triumphed gloriously. Their souls touched with a live coal from off the holy altar will open to the truths you teach them.” ~ Letter from Rebecca B. Spring to her cousin Lucy Chase who is teaching escaped slaves in Virginia.

 

Quaker women

Quaker women

November 22– Sunday– outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee– “This is another beautiful Sunday for the season and might be pleasantly spent by me with you, but every thing is monotonous here. . . . There is a move, perhaps of some great importance, going on here, if we could understand it. A good many of our troops have in the last few days gone on top of Lookout Mountain and, perhaps, over it for aught we know, and some seem to be moving to our rear, for what purpose we do not know but suppose the Enemy is trying to flank us on our left. . . . . Something is going to be done here soon, but what I am not able to say, but I think that one Army of the other will have to fall back soon. Should our Army fall back, a great many of our men will desert– a thing they are now doing to some extent but not like the will if we start back towards Atlanta, Georgia.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier John Farris to his wife, Mary.

November 23– Monday– Gettysburg, Pennsylvania– “On behalf of the States interested in the National Cemetery here, I request of you the original manuscript of the Dedicatory Remarks delivered by you here last Thursday. We desire them to be placed with the correspondence and other papers connected with the project. (Please append your Certificate to them.)” ~ Letter from David Wills to President Lincoln.

Gettysburg Address

November 23– Monday– Knoxville, Tennessee– “I am camped in two miles of Knoxville. The Yankees still hold the city. We had orders to charge their breast works last night at 10 o’clock but the orders were countermanded and we did not make the attempt. I think it will take a hard fight to get the enemy out of that place. I was very glad that we did not attempt to storm their works last night for I thought it very likely that it would be the last works that I would storm.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier William Stilwell to his wife Molly.

November 23– Monday– outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee– A force of 14,000 Federal troops drives the 634 Confederates from Orchard Knob, pushing them back to the base of Missionary Ridge.

November 24– Tuesday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– “I wish to be in Washington to try and if possible to get my son released, or be able to minister to his wants. He in connection with eight other of our citizens, were taken prisoners by the Rebel army on there retreat from the battle of Gettysburg. My son had been in the nine months service, and had been discharged a few weeks previous to the Rebel invasion, and was making arrangements to again enter the service, and for which I am anxious for his freedom. Any thing you could do for me would be thankfully received.” ~ Letter from Mr W. H. McDowell to Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, the radical abolitionist.

November 24– Tuesday– Washington, D. C.– “Last Sunday we were out walking & met the Count [Adam Gurowski, 1805 to 1866, an eccentric Polish exile] the first time since you left. He immediately asked for you, & I told him where you were, he asked if you were coming back etc. & when I told him that I had heard & should write you, he said ‘My Gott, I did not know that he was such a poet, tell him so, I have been trying every where to find him to tell him myself.’ So you see. He said tell him he must write more poems. I wish that you were back here in your old room for my sake, for I miss you & shall. I should have gone to the Hospital today if it had not rained, and I shall go to-morrow I think, rain or shine. . . . I count upon your return, and on our all being together much, very much this winter, and on some good talks, & good times reading your Drum Taps. You must publish that book.” ~ Letter from Ellen “Nellie” O’Connor to her friend Walt Whitman who is visiting his family in Brooklyn, New York.

November 24– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “The employees of the Laboratory are about to perfect the establishment of a bake-house, slaughter-house and general store-house, where all the necessary provisions will be accumulated, and issued to the workmen and their families in part pay for their labor. The plan is a most excellent one, which, we understand, will go into operation in a very short time. There are employed at these works about twelve hundred persons, composed of females, men and boys.” ~ Richmond Sentinel

November 24– Tuesday– Chattanooga, Tennessee– In a day-long fight, Federal troops capture Lookout Mountain. Total casualties for the Union are 408 dead, wounded and missing while the Confederate losses reach 1251. Remaining Confederates re-enforce positions on Missionary Ridge. “The fight to-day progressed favorably. Sherman carried the end of Missionary Ridge, and his right is now at the [railroad] tunnel, and left at Chickamauga Creek. Troops from Lookout Valley carried the point of the mountain, and now hold the eastern slope and point high up. I cannot yet tell the amount of casualties, but our loss is not heavy.” ~ Report by Union General Ulysses Grant telegraphed to Washington, D.C.

battle at Lookout Mountain

battle at Lookout Mountain

November 25– Wednesday– New York City– “Last evening Henry Ward Beecher spoke again at our Academy of Music. Proceeds for benefit of Sanitary Commission. . . . . it was a vile rainy night– rebel weather– so the house was thin and our net proceeds will not exceed two thousand one hundred dollars or about one-half what we counted on. The speech was admirable and well received. I adjourned . . . to Dr Bellow’s, where were the orator and some half-dozen others, including Mrs Harriet Beecher Stowe, whom I found very bright and agreeable.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

November 25–Wednesday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– The Press carries an editorial entitled, “Words for History,” which calls President Lincoln’s Gettysburg speech “perhaps the highest point in our history.” The whole ceremony had been “sublime.” The president has “never stood higher and grander, and more prophetic.” It was proper that “on that historic height” he should “utter words such as these.” The paper reprints the entire text of President Lincoln’s remarks.

gettysburg-address-2

November 25– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Your despatches as to fighting on Monday & Tuesday are here. Well done. Many thanks to all. Remember Burnside.” ~ Telegram from President Lincoln to General Ulysses S. Grant.

November 25– Wednesday– Chattanooga, Tennessee– In hard fighting, General Grant’s Union forces capture Missionary Ridge, thus securing all the area surrounding Chattanooga. Federal losses total 5824, Confederate losses 6667.

battle on Missionary Ridge

battle on Missionary Ridge

November 25– Wednesday– Chattanooga, Tennessee– “I have heard from Burnside to the 23rd, when he had rations for ten or twelve days. He expected to hold out that time. I shall move the force from here on to the railroad between Cleveland and Dalton, and send a column of 20,000 men up the south side of the Tennessee, without wagons, carrying four days’ rations and taking a steam-boat loaded with rations, from which to draw on the route. If Burnside holds out until this force gets beyond Kingston, I think enemy will fly, and, with the present state of the roads, must abandon almost everything. I believe Bragg will lose much of his army by desertion, in consequence of his defeat in the last three days’ fight.” ~ Report sent by Union General Ulysses Grant to Washington late this night.

General Grant

General Grant

November 26– Thursday– New York City– “How then could such a system [as slavery] make head against the spirit of such a Gospel? It was a huge mistake, demonstrated to be such by the overruling power, that has already turned slavery into the heaviest burden the rebellion has to bear. Forty thousand strong, the emancipated slaves have turned their arms against their masters, and hundreds of thousands strong, the unemancipated, have been driven into the corner States, where the diminished form of the rebellion now crouches . . . . Who can fail to foresee the issue of this great problem of slavery to the Confederacy itself? Who can help seeing that its corner-stone was laid on sand, that the noisy proclamation was a blatant falsehood, and the projected system a stupendous mistake ?” ~ Part of a Thanksgiving sermon preached by Reverend Dr Alexander H Vinton, age 56, rector of St Mark’s Protestant Episcopal Church.[Vinton holds an MD from Yale and studied theology at General Theological College of New York. By 1863 he has been in the ministry for 28 years and ranks as one of the leading preachers of the Episcopal Church and a strong supporter of the Union cause.]

November 26– Thursday– Washington, D. C.– Thanksgiving Day– President Lincoln is ill with a mild form of smallpox and confined to his bedroom.

November 26– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Yesterday morning one hundred and twenty-four Confederate Surgeons, who have been returned from the different bastilles of the North, arrived in this city by the steamer Schultz. The statements which they make in reference to their own treatment, and that of our prisoners, particularly the wounded, are in keeping with other statements published of the heathenish treatment to which they are subjected. One of these Surgeons, with whom we had a long and interesting interview, was captured at Williamsport, Maryland, in July last, where he had been left, in conjunction with others, in charge of some two hundred of our wounded. These men were nearly all so badly wounded that it was deemed advisable not to attempt their removal to Virginia, although abundance of time had been allowed to do so had their condition permitted it. In a few days after the occupation of the town by the Yankees, an order was issued for the removal of all these wounded to Hagerstown. The Surgeons remonstrated, but to the purpose. The next day brought a peremptory order for their removal, and, in their helpless and nearly exhausted condition, they were packed off to Hagerstown and piled away, without comfort, in the Court-House, and a guard placed around the building. . . . . One Surgeon with whom we conversed was for a time in charge of the wounded at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The treatment received there was in the main kind and humane, very little difference being made in the treatment of our own and the enemy’s wounded. The country people around the place sent in many delicacies, and the Yankee surgeons permitted them to be distributed among our wounded. Of the treatment at Fort McHenry, as a general thing, the darkest picture ever drawn by the New York Herald of ‘Life at the Libby,’ conveys but a feint conception. The rations consist of hard tack (except where it is completely excavated by worms), meat once a day, and a kind of slop in the morning which the Yankees politely style coffee. No fire has yet been allowed in the quarters of the officers, although the weather has been quite severe.” ~ Richmond Dispatch.

A Delivery Solemn & Impressive~Gettysburg~November 19, 1863

On this day 150 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln delivered one of greatest pieces of oratory known to recorded history, short, concise, heart-grabbing and gut-wrenching. For me, one of the most powerful readings of that address I ever heard was in a recording of Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait with the poet Carl Sandburg reading some of those famous words. In my soul, it is the American “Sermon on the Mount.”

As with so many things in Lincoln’s life, the writing and delivery of the Gettysburg Address is enveloped in a complicated mixture of myth and fact, entangled further by time and distance, and shaped no doubt by one’s perceptions of Lincoln. What follows is from an intriguing article, written over a hundred years ago. You, gentle reader, may find the whole of it at “The Gettysburg Address: When Written, How Received, Its True Form” by Major William B Lambert, Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, volume 33, #4 (1909), pp 385 – 408.

Gettysburg national cemetery

Gettysburg national cemetery

 

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In the History of the Battle of Gettysburg (published in 1875) Samuel P. Bates in giving an account of the dedication ceremonies quotes the Address and says, “Its delivery was more solemn and impressive than is possible to conceive from its perusal.” Major Harry T. Lee, who was one of the actors in the battle and who was present upon the platform at the dedication, says that the people listened with marked attention throughout the two hours that Mr Everett spoke ; * * * * * but that when Mr. Lincoln came forward and, “with a voice burdened with emotion, uttered these sublime words the bosoms of that vast audience were lifted as a great wave of the sea; and that when he came to the passage, ‘The brave men living and dead, who struggled here’ there was not a dry eye.”

Arnold in his Life of Lincoln (1885), after citing the Address, states, “Before the first sentence was completed, a thrill of feeling like an electric shock pervaded the crowd. That mysterious influence called magnetism, which sometimes so affects a popular assembly, spread to every heart. The vast audience was instantly hushed and hung upon his every word and syllable. Every one felt that it was not the honored dead only, but the living actor and speaker that the world for all time to come would note and remember, and that the speaker in the thrilling words he was uttering was linking his name forever with the glory of the dead * * * All his hearers realized that the great actor in the drama stood before them, and that the words he said would live as long as the language; that they were words which would be recollected in all future ages among all peoples, as often as men should be called upon to die for liberty and country. As he closed, and the tears and sobs and cheers which expressed the emotions of the people subsided, he turned to Everett and, grasping his hand, said, ‘I congratulate you on your success.’ The orator gratefully replied, ‘Ah! Mr. President, how gladly would I exchange all my hundred pages to have been the author of your twenty lines.’”

Major Mekerson, of the 8th Ohio, who had been severely wounded in the battle, was present at the dedication and had a seat on the platform within a few feet of the speakers, gave an account in Scribner’s Magazine July, 1893, of his “Two Visits to Gettysburg.” He says, “Others, too, have differed as to the immediate effects of the President’s remarks. I give the impressions received at the time, which were also identical with those of all with whom I spoke. I thought then and still think it was the shortest, grandest speech to which I ever listened. * * * My own emotions may perhaps be imagined when it is remembered that he was facing the spot where only a short time before we had our death grapple with Pickett’s men and he stood almost immediately over the place where I had lain and seen my comrades torn in fragments by the enemy’s cannon-balls—think then, if you please, how these words fell upon my ear.” Then, quoting a portion of the Address, the Major adds, “If at that moment the Supreme Being had appeared with an offer to undo my past life, give back to me a sound body free from the remembrance even of sufferings past and the imminence of those that must necessarily embitter all the years to come, I should have indignantly spurned the offer, such was the effect upon me of this immortal dedication.”

Robert Miller, who had been the Adjutant of an Ohio Regiment of 100 days’ volunteers, was a member of the Ohio Legislature and attended the dedication ceremonies, stated in a letter published in the Eaton, Ohio, Register, November 30,1863: “The tall form of the President appeared on the stand and never before have I seen a crowd so vast and restless, after standing so long, so soon stilled and quieted. Hats were removed and all stood motionless to catch the first words he should utter, and as he slowly, clearly, and without the least sign of embarrassment read and spoke for ten minutes you could not mistake the feeling and sentiment of the vast multitude before him. I am convinced that the speech of the President has fully confirmed and I think will confirm all loyal men and women in the belief that Abraham Lincoln, though he may have made mistakes, is the right man in the right place.”

The Commissioners representing Massachusetts at the dedication, in their report to Governor Andrew, say, “The brief speech of President Lincoln * * * * made a profound impression” and that it was spoken with great deliberation. The correspondent of the Boston Daily Advertiser, who was probably one of the Commissioners, in his letter to that paper expressed a similar view and added that the remarks “seemed to be emphatically the right words in the right place.”

A committee from the city of Boston attending the dedication reported, “Perhaps nothing in the whole proceedings made so deep an impression on the vast assemblage or has conveyed to the country in so concise a form the lesson of the hour, as the remarks of the President, their simplicity and force make them worthy of a prominence among the utterances from high places.”

The opinions of these Commissioners and of Lieutenant Miller are especially valuable because expressed and recorded immediately after they had heard the address. John Russell Young, who was present on the speaker’s platform as representative of the Philadelphia Press, in an article published in 1891, based upon his recollections and memoranda made at the time, says that the report made by the Associated Press “was studded with applause, but I do not remember the applause and am afraid the appreciative reporter was more than generous—may have put in the applause himself as a personal expression of opinion, * * * I have read * * * of the emotions produced by the President’s address, the transcendent awe that fell upon every one who heard those most mighty and ever living words, to be remembered with pride through the ages, I have read of the tears that fell and the solemn hush, as though in a cathedral solemnity in the most holy moment of the Sacrifice. * * * There was nothing of this, to the writer at least, in the Gettysburg Address.”

Gettysburg Address

In Lamon’s account he professes to quote Mr. Lincoln’s own opinion of his Address and says that, “After its delivery on the day of commemoration he expressed deep regret that he had not prepared it with greater care. He said to me on the stand immediately after concluding the speech, “Lamon, that speech won’t scour! It is a flat failure and the people are disappointed.’ He seemed deeply concerned about what the people might think of his address, more deeply, in fact, than I had ever seen him on any public occasion. * * * The occasion was solemn, impressive, and grandly historic. The people, it is true, stood apparently spell-bound; and the vast throng was hushed and awed into profound silence, and attention to his words arose more from the solemnity of the ceremonies and the awful scenes which gave rise to them than from anything he had said. He believed that the speech was a failure. He thought so at the time and he never referred to it afterwards in conversation with me, without some expression of unqualified regret that he had not made the speech better in every way. On the platform from which Mr, Lincoln delivered his address and only a moment after it was concluded, Mr. Seward turned to Mr. Everett and asked him what he thought of the President’s speech. Mr. Everett replied, ‘It is not what I expected from him, I am disappointed.’ Then in his turn Mr. Everett asked, ‘What do you think of it, Mr. Seward?’ The response was, ‘He has made a failure and I am sorry for it. His speech is not equal to him.’ Mr. Seward then turned to me and asked, ‘Mr. Marshal, what do you think of it ?’ I answered, I am sorry to say that it does not impress me as one of his great speeches.’

“In the face of these facts it has been repeatedly published that this speech was received by the audience with loud demonstrations of approval; that amid the tears, sobs, and cheers it produced in the excited throng, the orator of the day, Mr. Everett, turned to Mr. Lincoln, grasped his hand and exclaimed, ‘I congratulate you on your success’ adding in a transport of heated enthusiasm, ‘Ah! Mr. President, how gladly would I give my hundred pages to be the author of your twenty lines!

 “As a matter of fact, the silence during the delivery of the speech, and the lack of hearty demonstration of approval immediately after its close, were taken by Mr. Lincoln as a certain proof that it was not well received. In that opinion we all shared. If any person then present saw, or thought he saw, the marvelous beauties of that wonderful speech, as intelligent men in all lands now see and acknowledge them, his superabundant caution closed his lips and stayed his pen. * * * * I state it as a fact, and without fear of contradiction, that this famous Gettysburg speech was not regarded by the audience to whom it was addressed, or by the press and people of the United States, as a production of extraordinary merit, nor was it commented on as such until after the death of the author.”

gettysburg-address-2

While there may be some truth in Lamon’s narrative, and the language ascribed to Lincoln seems natural and characteristic, allowance should be made for the author’s idiosyncrasies as exhibited in the Life of Lincoln published in 1872, that, purporting to have been written by Lamon, and was based upon information that had been secured by him, was really written by Chauncey F . Black, son of President Buchanan’s Attorney-General. Certainly Lamon’s assertion concerning Everett’s criticism of the Address is not consistent with his letter to the President on the following day, in which, after thanking Mr. Lincoln for the kindness shown himself and his daughter at Gettysburg, Mr. Everett said, “Permit me also to express my great admiration of the thoughts expressed by you with such eloquent simplicity and appropriateness at the consecration of the Cemetery. I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes.”

 The President’s reply was characteristically modest; I quote the reference to himself: “In our respective parts yesterday you could not have been excused to make a short address nor I long one. I am pleased to know that in your judgment the little I did say was not a failure.”

Mr. Clark E. Carr, who was present at Gettysburg as a Commissioner from Illinois, is the author of an address, “Lincoln at Gettysburg,” in which he quotes liberally and with approval from Lamon and from Nicolay, and also gives his own impressions concerning the President’s Address, saying: “His expressions were so plain and homely, without any attempt at rhetorical periods, and his statements were so axiomatic, and, I may say, matter-of-fact, and so simple, that I had no idea that as an address it was anything more than ordinary.” But he adds, ” Every one was impressed with his sincerity and earnestness,” and, There was one sentence that did deeply affect me—the only one in which the President manifested emotion. With the close of that sentence his lips quivered, and there was a tremor in his voice which I can never forget. * * * The sentence was, ‘ The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.'”

This sentence that so impressed Mr. Carr attracted the attention of George William Curtis, who, in Harper’s Weekly, December 5,1863, said of the Address, but with special reference to the sentence quoted: “The few words of the President were from the heart to the heart, they can not be read even without kindly emotion. It was as simple and felicitous and earnest a word as was ever spoken.”

***********

In an address so brief, but so momentous, every syllable tells; and though the differences between the final revision and the speech as actually delivered are few and seemingly immaterial, the changes intensify its strength and pathos and add to its beauty, and as so revised the speech cannot be too jealously preserved as the ultimate expression of the author’s sublime thought. Increasing appreciation of Lincoln’s character and of his fitness for the great work to which in the providence of God he was called enhances the value of his every word, and surely the form by which he intended this utterance should be judged is that in which we should perpetuate the Gettysburg Address.

Lincoln Memorial at Gettysburg

Lincoln Memorial at Gettysburg

Thus Far So Nobly Advanced~November 1863~18th to 21st

Thus Far So Nobly Advanced ~ President Lincoln

gettysburg-address-2

The national cemetery is dedicated at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. A famous orator speaks for two hours, the President for barely two minutes. No one today remembers the long speech.

One of the heroes of the Gettysburg battle is hospitalized.

Reports of the mistreatment of prisoners surface in the news media. Times are hard in the Confederate capital. New fighting seethes in Tennessee. Another crisis begins to develop in Europe. The world continues to turn.

November 18– Wednesday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– “The prisoners at Belle Isle, near Richmond, are in a state of starvation, their supplies of food having been entirely cut off. This is stated on the authority of a chaplain who was exchanged last Wednesday. A Union prisoner in Richmond has managed to send to Washington that the rebel authorities, having fully determined to starve all their prisoners to death, have stopped the meat rations to those in the Libby Prison.” ~ Franklin Repository

Federal prisoners at Belle Island depicted in Harper's Weekly

Federal prisoners at Belle Island depicted in Harper’s Weekly

November 18– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln and Secretary of State Seward, along with diplomats, foreign visitors, a military guard and a Marine band leave the city on a special train organized by the B&O Railroad to take them to Gettysburg.

November 18– Wednesday– approaching Knoxville, Tennessee– “I expect . . . fighting today or will be tomorrow. . . . . I thought I ought to write though I had rather wait until the battle was over but I may not get any chance to write again for some time. I mention this so that you will not be uneasy if you do not get any letter from me soon. I am in good health and spirits and went in front of the brigade all the time, only one man hurt in my company.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer William Stilwell to his wife Molly.

November 18– Wednesday– Moscow, Tennessee– “I laid an ambush last night on the Somerville road, about 3 miles from here, at McCaughn’s Mill, where the guerrillas are in the habit of crossing the north fork of Wolf River on their way to and from Somerville, and captured 2 rebel mail-carriers and nearly 1,000 letters which they were taking to Somerville.” ~ Report of Union Colonel Frank Kendrick.

November 18– Wednesday– Copenhagen, Denmark– The new king, Christian IX, asserts that Schleswig is part of Denmark. [Germany will view this as a violation of the London Protocol of 1852, by which the major powers had recognized the prince as his cousin’s heir, and will lead to war next year.]

Denmark's new king

Denmark’s new king

November 18– Wednesday– Stavanger, Norway– Birth of Frederik Macody Lund, controversial historian.

November 18– Wednesday– Hermsdorf, Prussia– Birth of Richard Dehmel, poet and writer, who will be considered one of the greatest German poets of the period before 1914.

November 19– Thursday– Gettysburg, Pennsylvania– At the dedication of the National Cemetery on the battlefield the principal speaker Edward Everett delivers a two hour address. After he finishes, President Lincoln delivers a two-minute speech which will become known as the Gettysburg Address. “The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion– that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” When he sits down, Lincoln remarks to his friend Marshal Lamon, “Lamon, that speech won’t scour! It is a flat failure and the people are disappointed.” [The image Lincoln uses is of a farm plow that does not properly cut furrows. Edward Everett, age 69, Harvard graduate in the Class of 1811, is a Unitarian clergyman, teacher, statesman, five term Congressman, president of Harvard for four years, governor of Massachusetts for four years, and famed orator.]

Edward Everett

Edward Everett

November 19– Thursday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Soldiers Aid Meeting. There will be a meeting of the citizens of the 5th and 6th wards at the American Hall this evening, to make arrangement to raise funds and provide for the comfort of the families of the soldiers. All are earnestly requested to attend.” ~ Wheeling Intelligencer.

November 19– Thursday– Georgetown, District of Columbia– Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, on of the Union heroes of Gettysburg, is hospitalized at Seminary General Hospital with “malarial fever.”

Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

November 20– Friday– Brooklyn, New York– “I am well & fat, eat my rations regular, & weigh about 200, so you see I am not very delicate. Here in Brooklyn & New York where I was raised, I have so many friends, I believe, now I am here they will kill me with kindness, I go around too much, & I think it would be policy for me to put back to Washington. I have a brother here, very sick, I do not think he can recover, he has been in the army. I have another brother in the 9th Army Corps, has been out 26 months. But the greatest patriot in the family is my old mother. She always wants to hear about the soldiers, & would give her last dime to any soldier that needed it. Every thing looks on the rush here in these great cities, more people, more business, more prosperity, & more of every thing to eat & wear, than ever. Tom, I was home in time to vote. The elections went bully. . . . . I think these last elections will be a settler for all traitors north, & they are the worst. I shall be back in Washington next Tuesday.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to Thomas P Sawyer.

November 20– Friday– Franklin County, Pennsylvania– “A fine day . . . . the affair at Gettysburg was certainly imposing. The military display was good. The Lodges from different parts of the state marched the officers of the Christian Commission in and several bands and batteries.” ~ Diary of Amos Stouffer.

Gettysburg Address

November 20– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “Not wishing to intrude upon your privacy, when you must be much engaged, I beg leave, in this way, to thank you very sincerely for your great thoughtfulness for my daughter’s accommodation on the Platform yesterday, & much kindness otherwise to me & mine at Gettysburg. Permit me also to express my great admiration of the thoughts expressed by you, with such eloquent simplicity & appropriateness, at the consecration of the Cemetery. I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes. My son who parted from me at Baltimore & my daughter, concur in this sentiment.” ~ Letter from Edward Everett, who gave the lengthy key-note address yesterday at Gettysburg, to President Lincoln and delivered by a messenger. Lincoln responds and writes, “Your kind note of to-day is received. In our respective parts yesterday, you could not have been excused to make a short address, nor I a long one. I am pleased to know that, in your judgment, the little I did say was not entirely a failure.”

November 20– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “Sealed proposals will be received at this office until the tenth (10th) day of December, 1863, for filling, during the ensuing winter, the two Government Ice Houses located in and near this city, as follows: Ice house corner Cary and 22d streets, capacity 58,000 bushels. Ice house at Jackson Hospital, capacity 10,000 bushels. Each bid must be accompanied by two or more securities for the faithful performance of the contract, stating the address of the sureties, and giving reference as to their responsibility. E. W. Johns, Surgeon and Medical Purveyor.” ~ Government notice in the Richmond Sentinel.

November 20– Friday– Rio Grande River, Texas– About 7,000 Federal troops begin operations along the length of the river in an attempt to stop the trade of Confederate cotton for European arms and munitions going through Mexico.

November 20– Friday– Paddington, Middlesex, England– Birth of Zeffie Agnes Lydia Tilbury, performer on stage and later in film, appearing in over 70 films, including the role of the elderly Grandma Joad in The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Goody Hodges in Maid of Salem (1937) and the Opium Woman in The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935).

Zeffie Tilbury

Zeffie Tilbury

November 20– Friday– Horten, Norway– Birth of Jonas Schanche Kielland, jurist and politician.

November 20– Friday– Dharamsala, India– James Bruce, the 8th Earl of Elgin and the 12th Earl of Kincardine, in his second year as Viceroy of India, dies of a heart attack at age 52. A career diplomat and administrator, he had also served as Governor of Jamaica from 1842 to 1846 and as Governor General of Canada from 1847 to 1854.

November 21– Saturday– New York City– Harpers Weekly provides extensive coverage of the grand ball given on November 5th for visiting Russian naval officers. “Alas! for the Russians. It is known, or should be, that these Slavic heroes are not the very largest of the human race—that they are small men in fact—and what is to become of small men in such a jam? Early in the night—indeed, very soon after the dance began—we saw several of them in the embrace of grand nebulous masses of muslin and crinoline, whirled hither and thither as if in terrible torment, their eyes aglare, their hair blown out, and all their persons expressive of the most desperate energy, doubtless in the endeavor to escape. What became of them we can not tell.” The paper also provides an extensive report about the dresses of the women in attendance. “A bride was lovely in a dress of white corded silk, with an illusion over-dress, a white illusion veil, and ornaments of white narcisse. Two beautiful sisters attracted attention in dresses of pink moire, with flounces of white point d’Angleterre and garniture of pink flush roses, showered with diamond powder. A leading actress was also attired as usual in a rich robe of mauve satin, trimmed with a deep flounce of point applique, looped up with a bunch of white feathers and diamond cluster—cornelian set in violets, and diamond aigrette, ornamented her dark hair. . . . . A beautiful blonde wore a dress of dark maroon velvet, with an immense white lace wreath. Her fair hair was simply ornamented with a bow and long ends of narrow velvet, the color of her dress. and a splendid white Moselle rose high up over the ear; diamond ornaments.”

dancing at the Russian Ball

dancing at the Russian Ball

November 21– Saturday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “So you see that treason, not only against the United States, but also against the State of Western Virginia, is being openly practiced within striking distance of us. The loyal men of Pocahontas and Greenbrier have been principally driven from their homes long since, but there are yet men there who suppresses [sic] their sentiments, but will be found ready to assume the duties of good citizens as soon as we can make it safe for them to do so. We were told that in Greenbrier there were four hundred voters who remained silent at the election on the Ordinance of Secession. The mass of the people that remain, however, are bitterly disloyal. Few men except the very aged and decrepit were to be found. Women were plenty, but their beauty was marred by the impress on their countenances of the treason that lodged within, and their manners were as badly spoiled as their beauty. We obtained about four hundred head of beef cattle, and a good many horses; though the greater portion of the stock with which the country abounds had been driven away from the road.” ~ Wheeling Intelligencer prints a letter from a Union soldier who fought in the November 6th battle at Droop Mountain.

November 21– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– “We are a shabby-looking people now– gaunt, and many in rags. But there is food enough, and cloth enough, if we had a Roman Dictator to order an equitable distribution. . . . A committee of the Grand Jury yesterday submitted a paper to the President, on the subject of provisions– indicating the proximity of famine, and deprecating impressment. The President sent it to the Secretary, saying Mr. Seddon would no doubt take measures to keep the people of Richmond from starving; and directing the Secretary to ‘confer’ with him. But to-day he is off to the army, and perhaps some may starve before any relief can be afforded. . . . . A dollar in gold sold for $18 Confederate money, to-day. Our paper [money] is constantly depreciating; and I think it is past redemption, unless we adopt Mr Moseley’s plan, and cause some six or eight hundred millions to be canceled, and fix a maximum price for all commodities necessary for the support of life. Congress will never agree upon any measure of relief. But if the paper money be repudiated, nevertheless we shall have our independence.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

Arthur Quiller-Couch

Arthur Quiller-Couch

November 21– Saturday– Bodmin, Cornwall, England– Birth of Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch, educator, author and editor of The Oxford Book of English Verse in 1900.

The War Was Never More Popular~November 1863~13th to 18th

The War Was Never More Popular ~ Senator John Sherman

Plans are made for the dedication of a cemetery at Gettysburg. President Lincoln and others are well aware that next year is an election year. Walt Whitman comes home for a visit and a much needed rest. Soldiers write about food, the weather, God and dead comrades. The world continues to change.

November 13– Friday– Washington, D.C.– At the White House, President Lincoln meets with the new senator John Conness, age 42, Republican of California. Senator Conness presents Mr Lincoln with a cane once owned by one of Conness’s predecessors, the late David Broderick. Broderick, age 39, an outspoken anti-slavery Democrat was mortally wounded in a duel with a fellow politician in September, 1859. A newspaper account says, “The President . . . accepted the cane, and, with much emotion, replied that he never personally knew . . . Mr. Broderick, but he had always heard him spoken of as one sincerely devoted to the cause of human rights.” Mr Lincoln confides that his “proudest ambition . . . [is] to do something for the elevation of the condition of his fellow-man.”

Senator John Conness

Senator John Conness

November 13– Friday– Chicago, Illinois– “From Gettysburg. Consecration of the Soldiers’ Cemetery. The loyal citizens generally of all the States, and the charitable and benevolent associations, are most cordially invited to be present at the consecration of the Soldiers’ Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pa, on Thursday, the 19th instant, and participate in the solemn exercises of the occasion. By order of the Governors of the several States interested. David Wills, Agent for A. G. Curtin, Governor of Pennsylvania, and acting specially for the other States.” ~ Chicago Tribune.

November 13– Friday– Iago Ferry, Tennessee– “As our Cook was washing today it fell on me to get dinners and I stayed in camp on account of having no shirt to change while the other was in the wash as a good cook would do. I had dinner ready for they boys when they returned about 2 o’clock P. M. I then put on a kettle with some water peeled and sliced about half a bushel of pumpkins and boiled for some time and seasoned with salt while this cooking operation was going on James was out and luckily for the times [found] part of a box of crackers which Co. B had thrown away for bad one out of which we gathered over a pack of good pieces which was still more welcome then the pumpkins supper being ready at the usual time consisting of stewed pumpkins and beef stake sliced of the shoulders of an ox and a little coffee. Such a feed we have not had for a month it is certainly worth noting down to be remembered our Appetites being keen and sharp forced us to eat until we were scarcely to role over and still we have! a supply on hand for tomorrow who would not rejoice in our circumstances. Our Wagons that left yesterday morning for Anderson cross roads has returned this evening without rations why they were turned and sent back I have not a learned. I can also understand that gen Morgan commanding our brigade has left the cross roads if that is so we will move soon.” ~ Diary of Union soldier John Hill Fergusson.

November 13– Friday– the Isle of Man– “On Saturday last, Messrs. Gibson, McDonald, and Arnold launched from their ship-building yard at North Ramsey, Isle of Man, an iron ship of the following dimensions: Length 202 feet, beam 35 feet, depth of hold 23 feet 6 inches. A large company assembled to witness the launch. At half-past twelve o’clock the ship glided off the stocks, and was named the Euterpe by Mrs. R. H. Brown, wife of one of the owners. After the launch the company adjourned to the spacious sail-loft of the establishment, where a luncheon was provided, to which about 60 persons sat down. . . . . The Euterpe is a full-rigged ship of 1246 tons register . . . . She is the property of Messrs. Wakefield, Nash, and Co., of Liverpool, and is fitted up in the most expensive style, no pains have been spared to make her a splendid specimen of naval architecture. Her spacious poop cabin is fitted with panels of polished walnut, with moldings of maple, and is exceedingly handsome. She is built entirely of iron, and her lofty tweendecks (seven feet high) render her specially adapted for troops or passengers.” ~ A report for the Liverpool Mercury.

November 13– Friday– Auckland, New Zealand– William C Wilson begins publication of the New Zealand Herald.

November 14– Saturday– Mansfield, Ohio– “On Tuesday next I start for Gettysburg to take part in the pageant of a dedication of the battle-field as a national cemetery. From thence I shall probably go to Washington, two weeks in advance of the session. The very first thing I mean to do is to press the enforcement of the draft. . . . I notice in some of the Southern papers that a hope is entertained that the draft cannot be enforced. This is idle. The war was never more popular than at this moment. The new call will fall lightly. Ohio must send thirty-five thousand . . . . There is no lack of men or of a determination to send them. The wonderful prosperity of all classes, especially of laborers, has a tendency to secure acquiescence in all measures demanded to carry on the war. We are only another example of a people growing rich in a great war. And this is not shown simply by inflated prices, but by increased production, new manufacturing establishments, new railroads, houses, etc. . . . Indeed, every branch of business is active and hopeful. This is not a mere temporary inflation caused by paper money, but is a steady progress, and almost entirely upon actual capital. The people are prospering and show their readiness to push on the war. Taxes are paid cheerfully, and the voluntary donations for our soldiers and their families are counted by thousands.” ~ Letter from Senator John Sherman to his brother General William Tecumseh Sherman.

Gettysburg National Cemetery

Gettysburg National Cemetery

 November 14– Saturday– near the mouth of the Rio Grande River– The Confederate blockade runner Terista, carrying 298 bales of cotton and headed for European markets, is captured by the USS Granite.

November 14– Saturday– St Martens-Latem, Belgium– Birth of Leo Hendrik Baekeland, chemist and inventor. Born of poor and illiterate parents, he will earn a doctorate in science from the University of Ghent at age 21 and in 1889 emigrate to the United States where he will invent a good paper for photographic prints [which business he will sell in 1899 to George Eastman for a reported $750,000] and invent “Bakelite” in 1907-8. He is considered the founding father of the modern science of plastics.

Leo Hendrik Baekeland

Leo Hendrik Baekeland

 November 15– Sunday– Brooklyn, New York– “I had a pleasant trip that Monday from the start, & all through– clear & cool & no dust. I got home about 8 in evening, was up bright & early to the polls next morning &c. How well the election went in this state, you know. Here Brooklyn gave a stunning union vote, the biggest ever dreamed of here– Mayor, assemblymen, judges, all elected.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his friend Ellen M. O’Connor.

November 15– Sunday– near Hazel Run, Virginia– “Last night it rained, and as the weather is cold we are far from comfortable. . . . . I bought me a fine bay horse with a white mark on his face, and he can run like a deer. I call him Old Abe.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

November 15– Sunday– on the march toward Knoxville, Tennessee– “This is the Sabbath evening and I am very lonesome. I thought I could not pass off the lonely hours better than to be writing to you, as it seems like we can never talk to each other [except] only through the medium of writing. Little did I think when we were married that I must be so soon severed from my dear Molly, but it is the common lot of all to be disappointed and now, instead of being this holy Sabbath evening with my loving family where we could read the word of God together, I am away here in the east engaged in the destruction of my fellow men, but God knows my heart. I do not desire their hurt if they would part in peace. I long to see this war close but I confess that I can not see where it can ever end but I have always thought that God would provide a peace when he thinks best. I still think so, Molly. . . . . I would give the state of Georgia for a kiss [from] you and the children. Oh, God, how long shall I suffer in the flesh? I am yours without spot or blemish until death. ~ Letter from Confederate officer William Stilwell to his wife Molly.

November 15– Sunday– Copenhagen, Denmark– The death of King Frederick VII, childless at age 55, and the succession by his distant cousin Christian IX, age 45, marks the beginning of a new crisis between Denmark and Germany over Schleswig-Holstein.

Denmark's new king

Denmark’s new king

 November 16– Monday– Nashville, Tennessee– “The burning or destroying of any property, or any of the products of the country, is a positive detriment to us and a loss to the United States Government; therefore it must be stopped. The burning of cotton-gins, cotton, and everything else, is strictly prohibited. Any of the troops detected in any of these depredations will have meted out to them the extreme penalty of the law, which, in case of burning, pillaging, or robbing, is death. This order will be read at the head of every regiment and battery of the command, and every officer is commanded to aid in carrying it out.” ~ Order of Union General Grenville Mellen Dodge.

 

November 16– Monday– Roswell, Georgia– “The death of your brother [Thomas Edward] . . . was a sad blow to me, but he fell on a noble cause: done with the trials of this life, & now happy forever in heaven. God above knows what will be the result of this unnatural war – we have justice on our side, but deserve sever chastisement for our sins as a nation: May we all repent of short comings on duty, and look to God for his blessings– otherwise everything dark and gloomy. Rather than submit to Yankee rule– trust the Confederacy will resist to the last: better loose everything, than our liberty. . . . There is no telling what General Bragg is after– it is said that Longstreet has gone [toward] East Tennessee to drive out Burnsides, & get supplies for the army; should Bragg fall back, this portion of our state would be overran by Vandals, & they would destroy every thing.” ~ Letter from Mr Barrington King, a prosperous businessman, to his son Confederate Colonel Barrington Simeral King.

November 16– Monday– Campbell’s Station, Tennessee– Union forces beat back a Confederate attack. Total casualties– killed, wounded, missing– are 400 for the Federals, 570 for the Confederates.

 

November 16– Monday– Paris, France– Louis-Rene Villerme, physician and economist who studied the health of prisoners and of child factory workers, dies at age 81

 

November 17– Tuesday– New York City– “Famine at Richmond seems a settled fact. . . . There is reason to believe that the famine is caused not so much by actual deficiency of hog and hominy as by the unwillingness of Virginia farmers to sell anything for which they must be paid in rebel paper. Want of lively faith in the value of rebel currency implies, of course, skepticism as to the ultimate triumph of the rebel cause.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

 

November 17– Tuesday– Brooklyn, New York– “I shall return Monday or Tuesday next. The weather here the last three days is very unpleasant, sloppy & thick. I was at the opera last night, Trovatore– very, very good singing & acting. I feel to devote myself more to the work of my life, which is making poems. I must bring out Drum Taps. I must be continually bringing out poems– now is the hey day. I shall range along the high plateau of my life & capacity for a few years now, & then swiftly descend. The life here in the cities, & the objects, &c of most, seem to me very flippant & shallow somehow since I returned this time. My New York boys are good, too good– if I staid here a month longer I should be killed with kindness. The great recompense of my journey here is to see my mother so well, & so bravely sailing on amid many troubles & discouragements like a noble old ship . . . . Charley, I think sometimes to be a woman is greater than to be a man, is more eligible to greatness, not the ostensible article, but the real one.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to Charles Eldridge.November 17– Tuesday– Wheeling, West Virginia– A group of citizens meet and plan a city-wide campaign to raise financial support for the families of soldiers.

 

The Act of Secession is Legally Nothing~November 1863~8th to 12th

The Act of Secession Is Legally Nothing ~ President Lincoln

President Lincoln denies the legality of the secession acts passed by southern states. He allows tobacco shipments to European powers who paid for it before the war began. Russian naval officers arrive in Washington. Soldiers write about fighting, wounds, furloughs, food, warm clothes of the lack of such things. Reverend Finney honors the wife of his predecessor. Slaves keep escaping. Labor unrest occurs in the coal fields of Pennsylvania. And the world continues to turn.

November 8– Sunday– Sidi Bel Abbes, Algeria– Birth of Jean Raphael Adrien Rene Viviani, politician, who will briefly serve as Prime Minister of France from June, 1914 to October, 1915.

Viviani in 1914

Viviani in 1914

November 8–Sunday– St Petersburg, Russia– The U S Minister advises Washington that the Tsar views the reception given by Americans to the Russian navy as United States’ support for Russia against Britain, France and Austria.

November 9– Monday– Oberlin, Ohio– Reverend Charles G Finney writes to the editor of the Lorraine County News. “The enclosed notice of the life and death of our Christian sister, Mrs. President Mahan, I cut from the Adrian [Michigan] Daily Expositor, of Oct. 28. It will much gratify the numerous friends of President and Mrs. Mahan in this place, to see it in your paper. All who knew Mrs. M. can testify to the truthfulness of this notice. We, who have best known her, can bear the fullest testimony to her many excellent traits of character. She was indeed a most judicious wife and mother, and as a Christian lady she was always exemplary. All who knew them in this community, sympathize deeply with the President and his family in view of their irreparable loss. I must not indulge my feelings in dwelling upon the excellencies of Mrs. M.; nor, on the other hand, upon the great loss her family has sustained. . . . . I have received two letters from the President in regard to the death of his wife. He is, as we should all expect, greatly sustained by the grace of our Lord Jesus. His inward consolation abounds under his outward sore bereavement. God bless him and his bereaved children.” [Asa Mahan served as the first president of Oberlin College and resigned in a dispute with the faculty in the summer of 1850. Finney was selected as president in Mahan’s place. Mary Hartwell Dix Mahan married Asa in 1828 and bore him seven children. Their son Theodore was mortally wounded at the battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, in December of 1862.]

Asa Mahan

Asa Mahan

November 9– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “I have always thought the act of secession is legally nothing, and needs no repealing. Turn the thought over in your mind, and see if in your own judgment, you can make any thing of it.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln to Benjamin Flanders, a special agent of the U S Treasury Department in New Orleans, concerning whether or not a vote is officially needed to repeal Louisiana’s act of secession from January, 1861.

November 9– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Received and entertained fifty Russian officers, the Cabinet, foreign ministers, and the officers of our own Navy who were in Washington, and all professed to be, and I think were, gratified. It was a question whether some of the legations would attend, but I believe all were present at our party.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy.

November 9– Monday– Union Headquarters along the Rappahannock River, Virginia– “It was now late on this Sunday afternoon and the troops were massing, to bivouac. There seemed really no end of them; though but part of the army was there; yet I never saw it look so big, which is accounted for by the fact that the country is very open and rolling and we could see the whole of it quite swarming with blue coats. . . . We recrossed the Rappahannock at the railroad, and saw the fresh graves of the poor fellows who fell in the assault of the redoubt. The Rebel officers said it was the most gallant thing they had seen. Two regiments, the 6th Maine and 7th Wisconsin, just at sundown, as the light was fading, charged up a long, naked slope, in face of the fire of a brigade and of four cannon, and carried the works at the point of the bayonet. . . . . I think it no small praise to General Meade to say that his plans were so well laid out that our loss in all is but about 400. No useless slaughter, you see, though there was plenty of room for a blunder, as you would have known had you seen the lines of breastworks the fellows had; but we took part of them and scared them out of the rest.” ~ Letter from Union officer Theodore Lyman to his family.

November 10– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “In consideration of the peculiar circumstances and pursuant to the comity deemed to be due to friendly powers, any tobacco in the United States belonging to the government either of France, Austria, or any other state with which this country is at peace, and which tobacco was purchased and paid for by such government prior to the 4th day of March, 1861, may be exported from any port of the United States under the supervision and upon the responsibility of naval officers of such governments and in conformity to such regulations as may be presented by the Secretary of State of the United States, and not otherwise.” ~ Executive Order issued by President Lincoln.

Lincoln depicted in a patriotic political cartoon

Lincoln depicted in a patriotic political cartoon

November 10– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “I do not know that I told you that both of my parents were dead but it is true and now Walt you will be a second Father to me wont you, for my love for you is hardly less than my love for my natural parent. I have never before met with a man that I could love as I do you still there is nothing strange about it for ‘to know you is to love you’ and how any person could know you and not love you is a wonder to me. Your letter found me still here and not yet ready to start home my Papers have not yet returned from headquarters. . . . I suppose you have heard that we received some 90 wounded men Sunday night a number of which were Rebels. Among the wounded were the Col and the Maj. of the 6th Wisconsin Regt. and quite a number of privates a great many of them were very badly wounded, more so than any lot I have seen come in, eight of them died while on the way. And now Dear Comrade I must bid you good by hoping you will enjoy your visit and when you return have a pleasant and safe journey be assured you will meet with a warm welcome from many in Armory Square. You will yet be rewarded for your kindness to the Soldiers.” ~ Letter from Elijah Douglass Fox to Walt Whitman. Whitman is at home in Brooklyn, New York, visiting his family. [For information about Whitman’s difficult family circumstances at the time, see The Better Angel: Walt Whitman in the Civil War by Roy Morris, pp 154 to 159.]

November 10– Tuesday– near Knoxville, Tennessee– “Molly, I notice that since I wrote you that I thought I would get a furlough this winter that you have been writing every time for me to come home. Now you must stop that as it is only makes me feel bad and I cannot get one now. I will get one as soon as I can. There is no one that wants a furlough worse than I do. I have not tried to write to John and it is so cold that I am trembling now.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier William Stilwell to his wife Molly.

November 11– Wednesday– near Morton’s Ford, Orange County, Virginia– “The Colonel was wounded through the right lung. He seemed to know that there was no chance for him to live. Our forces fell back that night after he was wounded so they had to move him to Gordonsville where he lived until last Thursday. . . . . I did not hear of the Colonel’s death until last night. Our Regiment is very sad about his death and besides we lost a good many others. The [loss] in our Regt is over hundred and fifty, most of them is taken prisoner. I hope God will give Miss Fannie and yourself strength to [bear] this sad news. For if we loved him who was no kin to him how much more must those that was so near to him. I shall have his Horse taken care of– you had better send Ransome [the Colonel’s slave] back after him and let him take him thru the country. The Colonel thought a good deal of his horse.” ~ Letter from Confederate Captain Gary Williams to Fannie Holmes’s husband, Dr. Allmond Holmes, describing the circumstances of Colonel William Sillers’ death. Fannie is the sister of William Sillers.

November 11– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Ran away from the subscriber, on the night of the 5th of this month, (November) near Charlotte Court House, Virginia, my three men Pompey, Miles, and George– Pompey is a black, fat, stout, short man, 27 years old, and was my cook. Miles is a slender and rather dedicate gingerbread-looking man, 38 years old, and if made to hold out his hand is very tremulous, and was my carriage driver. George is a stout, slouchy walking gingerbread looking fellow, 25 years old, and is a pretty good blacksmith and carpenter. As these Negroes ran off without any provocation whatever, it is presumed their object is to make their way to the Yankees. They were raised at Weston, on James river, and no doubt will endeavor to make their escape in that direction. I will pay a reward of $100 each for the apprehension and imprisonment of these Negroes so that I get them again, or will pay $100 each and their expenses if delivered to me at Charlotte C H, Virginia. John A Selden.” ~ Richmond Dispatch.

 

runaway slaves

runaway slaves

November 11– Wednesday– outside Chattanooga, Tennessee– “Food &clothing are both pretty scarce with the Army now, & I fear we shall suffer for both before very long. In fact, we do to a limited extent now. We can buy nothing at all to eat, & all are very scarce of clothing, especially shoes, socks & blankets. There are a good many men in the Army now without the sign of a shoe on their feet, & I know of but few who can say they sleep warm; & if things do not get better, I know a great many will desert this winter, & some are now deserting. . . . . We have not drawn any meat of any kind since day before yesterday, & Sam is cooking some peas without any grease for dinner or supper, just as you choose to call it, for we only eat twice a day. I am nearly barefooted both for shoes & socks, but I think I will get shoes before long &, as for socks, I have no idea when I will get any, & I only have one pair, which are cotton & full of holes & heels & toes all gone.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier John Farris to his wife Mary.

November 11– Wednesday– Paris, France– Birth of Paul Signac, neo-Impressionist painter and political anarchist.

Paul Signac

Paul Signac

November 12– Thursday– New York City– “In the coal region of Pennsylvania the strike is combined with organized resistence to the draft and has attained serious dimensions. . . . . in fact, a Copperhead insurrection that holds two or three counties. The insurgent strikers are mostly lewd fellows of the baser sort . . . committing all manner of murderous brutality.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

coal miners meeting

coal miners meeting

November 12– Thursday– Liberty, Virginia– “I get a plenty to eat. I do not eat all the rations I draw. We draw hard bread, pork, beef, beans, sugar, coffee, sometimes molasses and potatoes. There is no danger of anyone starving on that living. I have not drawed [sic] an over coat yet. I am in want of one very much. I expect to have one soon. I have a good warm blanket and a piece of tent, so I get along pretty well, only when I am on guard. Then I need an over coat. I think we shall soon be paid off, then you will get 60 dollars. I shall get enough to pay my passage home out of the 18 dollars. If you sell the wagon, don’t sell it less than 30 dollars. It is worth that if it is worth anything. I would like to keep it, but if you are short of money you better sell it.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Henry Butler to his wife Mary. [The $30 for the wagon would equal $566 in current dollars. However, the economic value of the wagon would equal about $6770 in today’s economy.]

One General Panorama of Grace & Beauty~November 1863~5th to 8th

One General Panorama of Grace and Beauty ~ New York Times

New York City holds a grand ball for the visiting Russian naval officers. Walt Whitman, visiting his family at home, enjoys the opera. General Lee’s rheumatism improves a bit despite chilly weather. Confederate General Bragg makes what will turn out to be a career-ending mistake, sending General Longstreet and his soldiers to attack Knoxville. Bragg under-estimates the Federal strength at Chattanooga and does not anticipate Grant’s intended attack. Soldiers write home about their experiences and concerns. And life around the world goes on.

war-tennessee

November 5– Thursday– Confederate headquarters along the Rappahannock, Virginia– “I think my rheumatism is better to-day. I have been through a great deal with comparatively little suffering. I have been wanting to review the cavalry for some time, and appointed to-day with fear and trembling. I had not been on horseback for five days previously and feared I should not get through. The governor was here and told me Mrs Letcher had seen you recently. I saw all my nephews looking very handsome . . . . While on the ground, a man rode up to me and said he was just from Alexandria and had been requested to give me a box, which he handed me, but did not know who sent it. It contained a handsome pair of gilt spurs. Good-night. May a kind heavenly Father guard you all.” ~ Letter from General Robert E Lee to his wife Mary. [John Letcher was governor of Virginia from 1860 to 1864. His wife was Susan Holt Letcher.]

November 5– Thursday– outside Chattanooga, Tennessee– “I start to-day for Tyner’s Station, and expect to get transportation to-morrow for Sweetwater. The weather is so bad, and I find myself so much occupied, that I shall not be able to see you to say good-by. When I heard the report around camp that I was to go into East Tennessee, I set to work at once to try and plan the means for making the move with security and the hope of great results. As every other move had been proposed to the general and rejected or put off until time had made them inconvenient, I came to the conclusion, as soon as the report reached me, that it was to be the fate of our army to wait until all good opportunities had passed, and then, in desperation, seize upon the least favorable movement. . . . Have you any maps that you can give or lend me? I shall need every thing of the kind. Do you know any reliable people, living near and east of Knoxville, from whom I might get information of the condition, strength, etc., of the enemy? I have written in such hurry and confusion of packing and striking camp (in the rain and on the head of an empty flour barrel) that I doubt if I have made myself understood.” ~ Confederate General James Longstreet to General Simon Buckner. Longstreet and Bragg dislike each other.

General James Longstreet

General James Longstreet

November 5– Thursday– Bloemfontein, Orange Free State– Johannes Brand, lawyer and politician, a month away from his 40th birthday, is elected the fourth president. He will take office in February of next year.

Johannes Brand, c1864

Johannes Brand, c1864

November 6– Friday– New York City– “The imperial City of the West crowned the hospitalities it has extended to its imperial guests from the East most worthily by the charming and brilliant festival which turned last night into brightest day in Irving-place. As a triumph of social art the Russian Ball will be remembered as long as any triumph of any kind can very well be in this land of things ‘a moment bright, then gone forever.’ A palace was improvised by bridging a street, and the locale being thus provided by the managers of the ball, the world of New-York provided the rest. A throng – which only in the extremest exigencies of the evening ever became a crowd – a throng of men presumably brave, and of women visibly fair, assembled in one general panorama of grace, and beauty, and spirit, the best elements of our New-York life, to do honor to the representatives of the one great Empire which, alone among the leading Powers of the earth, has frankly and cordially maintained its old relations of amity and good will with the Republic in these days of trial and endurance. If a political significance must be sought for in so bright and evanescent a show, the very head and front of it ‘hath this extent, no more.’ America prefers no judgment of favor or disfavor upon the internal policy of Russia, nor does she ask from Russia any judgment of favor or disfavor upon her own internal policy. We simply recognize with the warmth and frankness which become us, the justice, forbearance, courtesy and respect with which Russia has borne herself toward us from the outset of a struggle the burden and responsibility of which are ours, and ours alone. If there be a lesson in this – if it be true, as we believe that true it is, that the subjects of no other great European Power would now be welcomed to these shores as the sailors of Alexander have been – if to no others would we pipe, nor ask them with us to dance, it is simply that no others have cared to mourn with us in our mourning, nor have any others practiced toward us even the poor charity of a silent indifference. Nations, like men, have their sensibilities, their emotions, their impulses of gratitude or of revenge. That such sensibilities and such emotions exist in the people of the Union is simply another proof that the people of the Union are a nation. If the Russian Ball can carry fresh conviction of this fact to a single diplomatic brain beyond the seas, we shall have no objection to see so good a sermon drawn from so gay a song. Meanwhile, for the Russians and for New-York, the ball was simply a ball, and of all the balls where of Gotham shall in her chronicles preserve the rustling, gleaming, odorous remembrance, the most orderly, the most brilliant, the most completely worthy of those who gave and of those to whom it was given.” ~ New York Times.

November 6– Friday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Governor Boreman has issued his proclamation, in accordance with the recommendation of the President of the United States, setting apart Thursday the 26th instant as a day of Thanksgiving. He concludes with this excellent suggestion. ‘And while we are rejoicing and other praises for the abundance with which we are blest, let us not forget to remember the poor and the needy, the widow and the orphan, whom the vicissitudes of life and the casualties of war have left in our midst unprovided for and unprotected.’” ~ Wheeling Intelligencer

November 6– Friday– Droop Mountain, Pocahontas County, West Virginia– Union forces defeat the Confederates in brief but violent battle, thus ending major Confederate operations in the state. Total dead, wounded and missing are 119 Federal and 275 Confederate.

November 7– Saturday– New York City– “Election turned out as I expected. The state repudiates Seymour by about thirty thousand majority. . . . . The Russian Ball Thursday night was well managed and successful. Ellie and I joined General Dix’s party at his house and went thereto in great glory, staff and all– half a dozen captivating creatures in epaulets– with nice Mrs Blake and Miss Kitty. I like all that family very much.” ~ Diary entry of George Templeton Strong.

dancing at the Russian Ball

dancing at the Russian Ball

November 7– Saturday– Rappahannock Station, Virginia– In a surprise foray Union forces capture 1,600 Confederate soldiers.

November 7– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– “Recent Fires. The out-houses of Mr. E. C. Pleasants, near Chimborazo Hospital, were set fire to on Thursday morning last, and destroyed. His residence caught [fire] several times, but was saved by the exertions of the neighbors. Some of the furniture which had been removed from the house was afterwards stolen, by some thief or thieves. The loss to Mr. P. will amount to $5,000. On Wednesday night, through the carelessness of a servant girl, the residence of Mr. Wm. P. Jones, on 8th street, was set on fire, but was fortunately discovered before much damage was done, although the furniture in one of the chambers was considerably charred.” ~ Richmond Sentinel.

November 7– Saturday– Memphis, Tennessee– “Our company is on camp guard and Captain Meade is in command of the camp so that I have no regular duties to perform. I have been sent out twice in command of an escort to Government [wagon] trains to get wood. We go about three miles into the country. There are some Rebs prowling around there and have on one or two occasions captured the trains, but they have never showed themselves when I was along in command, how soon they will do so remains to be seen. They can calculate on a good lively fight before they gobble us for I have a particular aversion to . . . prisons and would about as soon be shot as captured by them. About all the difference is in one case you die instantly and in the other by degrees.” ~ Letter from Union officer Frank Guernsey to his wife Fanny.

November 8– Sunday– Boston, Massachusetts– “I received the other day from a ‘Breckinridge Democrat,’ now converted, the inclosed sum of twenty dollars, after he had read your letter. I have not lately made any requests of my friends for more thinking you perhaps were well supplied for the present. I shall be happy to hear from you again, & I think I can find more friends hereafter if you should need them. I send this by a check & I presume they will cash it for you at Willards [Hotel] where they know me.” ~ Letter from Dr. Le Baron Russell to Walt Whitman.

November 8– Sunday– Brooklyn, New York– “I went to the N Y Academy of Music, to the Italian opera. I suppose you know that is a performance, a play, all in music & singing, in the Italian language, very sweet & beautiful. There is a large company of singers & a large band, altogether two or three hundred. It is in a splendid great house, four or five tiers high, & a broad parqueted on the main floor. The opera here now has some of the greatest singers in the world– the principal lady singer (her name is Medori) has a voice that would make you hold your breath with wonder & delight, it is like a miracle– no mocking bird nor the clearest flute can begin with it– besides it is [a] very rich & strong voice & besides she is a tall & handsome lady, & her actions are so graceful as she moves about the stage, playing her part. . . . . my dear comrades, I will now tell you something about my own folks home here there is quite a lot of us– my father is not living [and] my dear mother is very well indeed for her age, which is 67– she is cheerful & hearty, & still does all her light housework & cooking. She never tires of hearing about the soldiers, & I sometimes think she is the greatest patriot I ever met, one of the old stock. I believe she would cheerfully give her life for the Union, if it would avail any thing and the last mouthful in the house to any union soldier that needed it– then I have a very excellent sister-in-law– she has two fine young ones so I am very happy in the women & family arrangements.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to friends at the Armory Square Hospital in Washington, D.C.

November 8– Sunday– south of Tallahassee, Florida– “I was glad to hear that you was all in good health when you wrote. I was glad also to hear that your Pa had made his trip to Tennessee and back home. I was glad to hear that he found the boys enjoying a reasonable portion of health. This leaves me in good health at present we have just returned off picket duty to our camps. A good many of our men got sick while we was out but the most of them are improving at present. I fear from the tone of your letter that you are in bad health or a getting so. You don’t however write that anything serious is the matter with you. If there is, you must write to me and let me know it. While we were out in picket camp I was posted at one time at a place called Shell point on the sea beach where I could see the blockading vessel and by the help of a glass I could see the men walking about on deck of her. I saw also a large number of salt works around on the beach. I saw a grate [sic] many curiosities that I could tell you about if I could see you that time or space will not admit of here. You must write soon. Give my love to all. I remain yours as ever until death.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Edmond Hardy Jones to his wife.

Pleasing in Her Address and Modest in Her Manner~November 1863~the 1st to 5th

Pleasing in Her Address and Modest in Her Manner ~ General Robert E Lee.

General Lee praises the courage and resourcefulness of Southern women. Many of his soldiers are cold, poorly clothed and meagerly fed. The New York Times brags about Union soldiers. Northern states are putting large numbers of soldiers into the field on many fronts. Colonel Chamberlain writes a passionate love letter to his wife. A wounded soldier bemoans his state to Walt Whitman. While there is some fighting in Louisiana and South Carolina, it is in Tennessee that the cauldron is on the boil for major fighting before the year’s end. Planners extend a last minute invitation to President Lincoln to speak at the dedication of the new national cemetery at Gettysburg. New York City hosts a grand ball for its Russian visitors. Labor troubles erupt in the Pennsylvania coal region. And the world goes on.

Union soldiers

Union soldiers

 

November 1– Sunday– New York City– “The bounty and pay of the American soldier is something so astounding to the European, that we are forced to wonder that we have not had a double influx of able-bodied emigrants to make what to many of them would be a fortune in the three years of their service. It will, however, have the effect of showing foreign nations that it will be useless to land armies upon this Continent.” ~ New York Times

period dresses 212

November 1– Sunday– Confederate Headquarters along the Rappahannock River, Virginia– “I had a visit from a soldier’s wife to-day, who was on a visit with her husband. She was from Abbeville district, S. C. Said she had not seen her husband for more than two years, and, as he had written to her for clothes, she herself thought she would bring them on. It was the first time she had traveled by railroad, but she got along very well by herself. She brought an entire suit of her own manufacture for her husband. She spun the yarn and made the clothes herself. She clad her three young children in the same way, and had on a beautiful pair of gloves she had made for herself. Her children she had left with her sister. She said she had been here a week and must return to-morrow, and thought she could not go back without seeing me. Her husband accompanied her to my tent, in his nice gray suit. She was very pleasing in her address and modest in her manner, and was clad in a nice, new alpaca. I am certain she could not have made that. . . . She, in fact, was an admirable woman. Said she was willing to give up everything she had in the world to attain our independence, and the only complaint she made of the conduct of our enemies was their arming our servants against us. Her greatest difficulty was to procure shoes. She made them for herself and children of cloth with leather soles. She sat with me about ten minutes and took her leave– another mark of sense– and made no request for herself or husband. I wrote you about my wants in my former letter. My rheumatism I hope is a little better, but I have had to-day, and indeed always have, much pain. I trust it will pass away.” ~ Letter from Confederate General Robert E Lee to his wife Mary.

General Robert E Lee

General Robert E Lee

November 1– Sunday– Charleston, South Carolina– Union ships and artillery toss over 750 rounds into Fort Sumter.

November 1– Sunday– Chattanooga, Tennessee– The new supply route brings large amounts of food and ammunition to the Federal forces.

November 1– Sunday– Confederate Headquarters outside Chattanooga, Tennessee– “The abuses and irregularities which have so recently been observed amongst the cavalry have had an injurious effect on the morale of this army and upon the citizens. A strict regard for private rights and a due observance of the laws and regulations are essential to discipline and good order as well as content and harmony amongst the people. All straggling and pillaging are positively forbidden, and commanders are enjoined to see that previous orders on that subject are carried into effect. They will be held to a strict accountability for any violation of these orders. It is enjoined upon officers of this army to arrest all cavalrymen absent without proper authority from their commands, or who are found wandering over the country plundering and stealing from the citizens. Men so arrested will be sent under guard to these headquarters, where they will be dismounted and assigned to infantry.” ~ Orders from General Braxton Bragg.

November 1– Sunday– Angel Island, San Francisco, California– Federal troops establish a fortified camp.

November 1– Sunday– Konigsberg, East Prussia– Birth of Alfred Reisenauer, composer and pianist.

November 2– Monday– New York City– Theodore Dehone Judah, age 37, dies of yellow fever. Trained in engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Mr Judah has played a key role in developing the Central Pacific Railroad and undertook the route survey through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. While traveling across the Isthmus of Panama to New York from California he contracted the fever which takes his life.

Theodore D Judah

Theodore D Judah

November 2– Monday– St Paul, Minnesota– A report to Governor Henry Swift shows the disposition of the state’s soldiers. The 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry is at Bristow Station, Virginia; the 2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry at Chattanooga, Tennessee; the 3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry at Little Rock, Arkansas; the 4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry in operations against the Memphis and Charleston Railroad in Alabama; the 5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry at Canton, Mississippi; the 6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry on garrison duty in Minnesota; the 7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry in St. Louis, Missouri; the 8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry on garrison duty in Minnesota; the 9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry at Jefferson City, Missouri; the 10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri; the 1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry on duty in Minnesota; Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry on duty along the Tennessee River; the 1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery at Vicksburg, Mississippi; the 2nd Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery at Chattanooga, Tennessee; the 3rd Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery on duty in Minnesota. [Such distributions of state troops are fairly representative of most Northern states during the war.]

November 2– Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln receives an invitation to make a few remarks at the dedication of the new National Cemetery in Gettysburg Pennsylvania.

November 2– Monday– Confederate camp along the Rappahannock River, Virginia– “We are still quietly resting here. The troops are camped very thick here and wood is very scarce. I suppose we will move soon but I hope we will have no more hard marching this year. It is pretty cold of nights now and in the daytime too some days. I want to go into winter quarters so we can build some huts and have some protection from the rain and keen cold cutting wind. . . . it is a serious truth that there are men in our Regiment that have been entirely barefooted till a day or two ago, and have but one inferior suit of clothes and not a sign of blanket, overcoat, or anything at all to lie on or cover with. They build a fire and lie down on the ground before it and sleep, when it is cold enough to freeze a man well wrapped up.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

November 2– Monday– Murfreesboro, Tennessee– “I have taken some pains to inquire into the case, and I learn from very reliable Union families inthis place, that she is a very estimable Lady, and that what she related about her situation is substantially true. While she has always been a true woman, and Loyal, her husband has been a Libertine and a Rebel, and is now living in a state of adultery within the Rebel lines, leaving her and her little ones to suffer the anguish, that necessarily follows such transactions. I look upon it as a dreadful thing for a pure minded woman, to be under the necessity of living with either a Libertine or a Rebel, but when the two great sins, become united in one person, it becomes positively insufferable, and will certainly admit of executive interference. Mrs Johnson can tell you the situation of the Property, and in short, the whole story better than I can. I really hope something can be done for her, although I have no interest in the matter, any more than the natural sympathy, that ought to be found in every human breast, when the innocent are wronged. I have no acquaintance with the Lady and should not have known anything about the case except by the accident of my position at this time.” ~ Report from Union Colonel William L Utley.

November 3– Tuesday– Albany, New York– In another political victory for President Lincoln and a rebuff to Democratic Governor Horatio Seymour, in the mid-term election Republicans win control of key offices and control of the state legislature which will severely limit Seymour’s ability in the last half of his term.

November 3– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Hospital Scenes and Incidents of the War. – A lady is engaged in writing a work with the above title, with the intention of devoting the proceeds, when published, to the benefit of sick and wounded soldiers. She solicits and will be grateful for brief and well authenticated accounts of personal adventures, experiences, &c. in hospital and camp life. Editors wishing to aid in this enterprise, will please call attention to it. Address, ‘Matron,’ box 857, Richmond, Va.” ~ Richmond Whig.

November 3– Tuesday– Collierville, Tennessee– In an attempt to disrupt Union operations on the Memphis & Charleston Railroad Confederate cavalry attacks the Federal garrison here but is driven back by a large force. Total killed, wounded and missing are 95 for the Confederates and 60 for the Federals.

November 3– Tuesday– Bayou Bourbeau, Louisiana– In a long and fierce engagement, Confederate soldiers drive back Federal troops but reinforcements regain the position in a hard-fought counterattack. Total Federal losses– dead, wounded, missing– number 604 while Confederate casualties amount to 181.

November 4– Wednesday– along the Rappahannock River, Virginia– “I write to you now to tell you that you are my own sweet love and that I think of you with fervent and passionate affection every moment. When I am leading (as I have been) solid battalions into the deadly eye of mortal conflict, if I do it well it is because I love you well. It is you who do it, through a person dressed in a colonel’s uniform who fears no foe and betrays no friend. As I tell you so often . . . what is life or death to love– or music which is the same, for you must know music is swelling the very air with love tonight. Am I well? Why, yes. . . . . Well, my darling how do all things go with you? The cheeks are round, are they? Are the breasts so too? I did not know that I had written that till the music struck a new strain and took away my common place sense.” ~ Letter from Union Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain to his wife Fannie.

Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

November 4– Wednesday– Confederate positions outside Chattanooga, Tennessee– General Braxton Bragg takes a gamble by ordering General James Longstreet and his troops to retake Knoxville from the Federal forces.

November 4– Wednesday– Off the coast of Texas–U S warships seize a British ship attempting to run the blockade.

November 4– Wednesday– Paris, France– Les Troyens, an opera by Hector Berlioz, debuts at the Theatre Lyrique.

Hector Berlioz

Hector Berlioz

November 5– Thursday– Audenried, Pennsylvania–Twelve masked men break into the home of mine owner George Smith and kill him. Local police blame the Molly Maguires and draft resisters but make no arrests. [On the Molly McGuires and Pennsylvania coal miners, see William Anthony Gudelunas, Jr. and William G. Shade, Before the Molly Maguires: The Emergence of the Ethnoreligious Factor in the Politics of the Lower Anthracite Region: 1844-1972; Kevin Kenny, Making Sense of the Molly McGuires; Philip S Foner, History of the Labor Movement in the United States and Spencer J Sadler, Pennsylvania’s Coal and Iron Police.]

November 5–Thursday– New York City–Society leaders give a grand ball to honor visiting officers of the Russian Navy.

The Russian Ball in New York City

The Russian Ball in New York City

November 5– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “My leg mends slowly (about as it was when you were here). I have been out in the city on Monday & Tuesday, both days I was at the relief associations, to try to get a shirt or two– yesterday I got a order from the Chaplain yesterday to get two shirts from the Christian Commission, when I went up and showed them the order they told me that they had

none– then I went into their store room and there was some nice shirts there. I told them that they were just the kind that I wanted– but they told me that they were layed out for distribution amongst the different camps through the city. So I got none of them, & I was mad enough too, after walking up there three times and than get nothing, (the Relief association may be a very nice thing, but I cant see it, for I never get any thing from them yet– you have give me more than all of the rest put together. So you are the relief association that I (as well as all the rest of the boys) like best.” ~ Letter from Lewis K. Brown, a wounded soldier, to Walt Whitman who is in Brooklyn, visiting his family.