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

Thus Far So Nobly Advanced ~ President Lincoln


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.

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