The Rebellion is Divided Into Distinct Parts~December 1863~5th to 8th

The Rebellion Is Divided into Distinct Parts~Abraham Lincoln

President Lincoln sends his state of the union message to Congress. Among other things he encourages a policy of increasing immigration. [Current Republicans take note!] Congress convenes with Lincoln’s party in control of both houses. Harper’s Weekly praises the Gettysburg Address.

In Tennessee Federal troops under General Sherman relieve the defenders at Knoxville, effectively breaking the Confederate siege. Civilians complain about the plundering done be both armies and their young men being called away for soldiering.

Rebels and Canadian sympathizers hijack a ship. A Federal hero from the Gettysburg battle is hospitalized. Some raise concern about intemperance. The Whitman family experiences a loss. And the world goes on, irregardless of the American war.


December 5– Saturday– New York City– “The oration by Mr. Everett was smooth and cold. Delivered, doubtless, with his accustomed graces, it yet wanted one stirring thought, one vivid picture, one thrilling appeal. The few words of the President were from the heart to the heart. They can not be read, even, without kindling emotion. ‘The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.’ It was as simple and felicitous and earnest a word as was ever spoken.” ~ Harper’s Weekly on President Lincoln’s speech at Gettysburg.

December 5– Saturday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “The army of soldiers now in the field defending our county, are shaming the professed Christian churches. We are receiving more petitions from the army than the church, asking us to pass a law suppressing the manufacture and sale of spirituous liquors in West Virginia. Why is this? Is it because so many professed Christians at home love to indulge in a ‘wee bit of the precious stuff.’ I wonder how many professed Christians in West Virginia, are dram drinkers? How many are engaged directly and indirectly in the manufacture and sale of spirituous liquors in the new state? Such hypocrites are the devil’s hitching post and recruiting officers.” ~ Letter to the editor of the Wheeling Intelligencer from a temperance advocate who signs the letter simply as “S.Y.”

temperance parade

temperance parade

December 5– Saturday– Washington, D. C.– “The Doctors say I have a malarial fever, darling, and I shall be several days getting over it. While I was lying tossing and burning last night, some body came and said a letter for you and from your wife they say. You may be sure I had a candle brought and read my fever to sleep. Don’t be worried, dearest.” ~ Letter from Union Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain to his wife Fannie.

Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

December 5– Saturday– McGhee’s Farm along the Tennessee River, Tennessee– “Taken from the farm . . . by the commands of Major Dobbs & Colonel Long . . . under General Sherman. As near as I can ascertain from the Amount killed twenty five hundred pounds Bacon or salt pork taken. Think I can safely say there were ten thousand pounds or upwards 1/4 of which was undoubtedly taken & I was only Receipted for 245 lbs. A potion of said meat was taken away. Pressed from the farm 2 large work mules & three indifferent ones left on the farm 2 of which has since been stolen no clue to the thief. The impressment was done by those calling themselves confederate soldiers. The Confederates took a number of bushels [of] wheat– the amount I cannot tell– perhaps 500 bushels. Confederate Army burned 1283 panels [of] fence amounting to 15,000 rails. Killed 25 fat hogs, about 75 sheep, took Bridles & lines, all of which there was nothing paid, together with the greater potion of the Hay raised on the farm, Iron, etc. The Federal Army consumed corn, hay, potatoes, mutton, etc, without giving receipts for same.” Diary of W. H. Dawson, describing the farm being plundered by both armies.

December 5– Saturday– Sabine Pass, Texas– Birth of Pattillo Higgins, self-taught geologist, oil pioneer and businessman, known as the “Prophet of Spindletop” who will make a fortune in drilling for oil beginning in 1900.

December 6– Sunday– Thompson, Ohio– Birth of Charles Martin Hall, son of Heman Basset and Sophronia Brooks Hall. He will become a chemist and discover the commercially successful process of making aluminum. At his death in 1914, he will leave a third of his estate to Oberlin College, his alma mater, a gift that by the early 1930’s would exceed $15,000,000 in value.

Charles Martin Hall

Charles Martin Hall

December 6– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– “I sent you a letter four days ago that Andrew was gone at last, poor fellow. . . . . I did not go on to Andrew’s funeral, (I suppose it was yesterday) but I am very, very sorry now that I did not stay while I was home. I am well. Write when you can.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his brother George.

December 6– Sunday– Knoxville, Tennessee–Federal troops under General Sherman enter the city, re-enforcing General Burnside’s troops.

December 7– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Reliable information being received that the insurgent force is retreating from east Tennessee under circumstances rendering it probable that the Union forces can not hereafter be dislodged from that important position, and esteeming this to be of high national consequence, I recommend that all loyal people do, on receipt of this information, assemble at their places of worship and render special homage and gratitude to Almighty God for this great advancement of the national cause.” ~ Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln.

December 7– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Congress comes into session. In the Senate, the Republicans control 66% of the seats, the Democrats 20% and third parties 14%. In the House of Representatives, the Republicans control 45.9% of the seats, the Democrats 39.3% and third parties 14.8%. However, most of the smaller parties vote with the Republicans. Schuyler Colfax, age 40, Republican from Indiana, strongly anti-slavery and pro-immigration, is elected Speaker of the House. Thaddeus Stevens, age 71, Republican from Pennsylvania and a fervent abolitionist, despised in the Confederacy, chairs the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

Schuyler Colfax

Schuyler Colfax

December 7– Monday– Stewartville, Minnesota– Birth of Richard W Sears, son of James and Eliza Benton Sears. He will become known as the “Barnum of merchandising” and with A C Roebuck found the business which bears their names.

December 7– Monday– White County, Tennessee– “I have been out all day amongst the patrons of my school. Some of them promised me corn if I could get it home, but that is it, everyone is afraid of the Yankees, who persist in coming out from Sparta and committing ‘depredations on peaceable citizens’ despite the oath which some of them have taken. Indeed the country is in a dreadful state. No worse yet, as I know of, than it has been before with ‘our own men,’ as we have all learned to say. (I have but little part in them and wish I had less.) . . . . Fayette . . . had to leave from Hughs to go to Bragg’s war and he intended to go if there was any possible chance of getting there, for he is dreadfully opposed to their way of fighting here, and said a long time [ago] he would not go, but, when the Colonel called for him he had to go. Very few men can do as they like these days.” ~ Diary of Amanda McDowell.

December 7– Monday– Knoxville, Tennessee– “I desire to express to you and to your command my most hearty thanks and gratitude for your promptness in coming to our relief during the siege of Knoxville, and I am satisfied that your approach served to raise the siege.” ~ Message from Union General Burnside to General Sherman.

December 7– Monday– London, England– Birth of John Ebenezer West, son of William and Clara West. He will become a composer, organist, conductor and for 45 years a music editor at London’s Novello & Company.

December 8– Tuesday– off Cape Cod, Massachusetts– A group of Confederate sympathizers, several of them Canadians, led by John C Briane seize control of the merchant vessel Chesapeake.


December 8– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Following the custom established by Thomas Jefferson, President Lincoln submits his Annual Message [“State of the Union”] in writing to Congress. [President Woodrow Wilson will return to the custom of Washington and John Adams and deliver the message in person in 1913, which has been the custom for the last hundred years.]

> on the rebellion, Lincoln says, “The rebel borders are pressed still farther back, and by the complete opening of the Mississippi the country dominated by the rebellion is divided into distinct parts, with no practical communication between them. Tennessee and Arkansas have been substantially cleared of insurgent control, and influential citizens in each, owners of slaves and advocates of slavery at the beginning of the rebellion, now declare openly for emancipation in their respective States.”

> on international relations: “We remain in peace and friendship with foreign powers. The efforts of disloyal citizens of the United States to involve us in foreign wars to aid an inexcusable insurrection have been unavailing. Her Britannic Majesty’s Government, as was justly expected, have exercised their authority to prevent the departure of new hostile expeditions from British ports.”

> on slavery: “The supplemental treaty between the United States and Great Britain for the suppression of the African slave trade . . . has been duly ratified and carried into execution. It is believed that so far as American ports and American citizens are concerned that inhuman and odious traffic has been brought to an end. . . . . Of those who were slaves at the beginning of the rebellion full 100,000 are now in the United States military service, about one-half of which number actually bear arms in the ranks, thus giving the double advantage of taking so much labor from the insurgent cause and supplying the places which otherwise must be filled with so many white men. So far as tested, it is difficult to say they are not as good soldiers as any. . . . . while I remain in my present position I shall not attempt to retract or modify the emancipation proclamation, nor shall I return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation or by any of the acts of Congress.”

> on immigration: “I again submit to your consideration the expediency of establishing a system for the encouragement of immigration. Although this source of national wealth and strength is again flowing with greater freedom than for several years before the insurrection occurred, there is still a great deficiency of laborers in every field of industry, especially in agriculture and in our mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals. While the demand for labor is much increased here, tens of thousands of persons, destitute of remunerative occupation, are thronging our foreign consulates and offering to emigrate to the United States if essential, but very cheap, assistance can be afforded them. It is easy to see that under the sharp discipline of civil war the nation is beginning a new life. This noble effort demands the aid and ought to receive the attention and support of the Government.”

> on the budget, Lincoln reports that the government brought in $5,329,044.21 more than it spent, though the Post Office operated at a loss of $150,417.25, and the tax burden was “ever more cheerfully borne.”

> on the costs of the war: the War Department spent $599.3 million and the Navy Department spent $63.2 million; the Navy has 588 warships on active duty and captured over 1,000 blockade runners which won over $13,000,000 in adjudications in prize courts.

> on the Homestead Act: “Since the 1st day of January last the before-mentioned quantity of 1,456,514 acres of land have been taken up under its provisions. This fact and the amount of sales furnish gratifying evidence of increasing settlement upon the public lands, notwithstanding the great struggle in which the energies of the nation have been engaged, and which has required so large a withdrawal of our citizens from their accustomed pursuits. I cordially concur in the recommendation of the Secretary of the Interior suggesting a modification of the act in favor of those engaged in the military and naval service of the United States.”

> on soldiers and veterans: “Hence our chiefest care must still be directed to the Army and Navy, who have thus far borne their harder part so nobly and well; and it may be esteemed fortunate that in giving the greatest efficiency to these indispensable arms we do also honorably recognize the gallant men, from commander to sentinel, who compose them, and to whom more than to others the world must stand indebted for the home of freedom disenthralled, regenerated, enlarged, and perpetuated.”


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