Establishing the Liberties of This Country~July 1864~4th to 5th

Establishing the Liberties of this Country

North and South, people observe Independence Day in their own ways. Political activity in this election year simmers.

July 4– Monday– Franklin County, Pennsylvania– “Last night our men went off with our horses– it was quite an Excitement about the Rebs coming. It was A false Report– perhaps they come yet. Weather is dry and warm.” ~ Diary of Anna Mellinger.

July 4– Monday– Wheeling, West Virginia–”The statue of [George] Washington, recently captured by General Hunter at Lexington, Virginia, arrived on Saturday evening and will be on exhibition at the fair buildings today. It is the first bronze statue ever cast of Washington. It will be one of the greatest features of the exhibition today. Let every person who reveres the memory of the great and good Washington avail themselves of this opportunity to see him as he appeared in the height of his glory and usefulness. A bronze tablet accompanies the statue on which is the following inscription: ‘The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, have caused this statue to be erected as a monument of affection and gratitude to George Washington, who uniting to the endowments of the Hero, the virtues of the Patriot, and exerting both in establishing the liberties of his country, has endeared his name to his fellow citizens, and given to the world an immortal example of true glory. Done in the year of Christ 1788, and in the year of the Commonwealth the 12th.’ . . . This statue was taken down from its ancient pedestal by our troops and transported in a wagon to Webster, from which point it was brought hither on Saturday. We must confess that we see nothing in the enterprise to commend. We could not feel like congratulating the fair on Saturday night in the possession of this trophy. The bringing of it away from Lexington was an act of vandalism that must be objectionable to all right thinking people, irrespective of their hatred for the rebels who, have manifested so little appreciation of the usages of civilized war. Napoleon robbed the great galleries of Italy, stripping even the monasteries and churches of that ill-fated land of their works of art, and for so doing impartial history has severely condemned him. And so it will this act of General Hunter’s, if he, indeed, is responsible for it. We hope that the government will not endorse the act by ordering the statue to West Point, its reported destination. We have not even the poor excuse for such a performance that Napoleon had, who was waging war in a foreign people.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

Union siege weapon

Union siege weapon

July 4– Monday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “The glorious fourth has come again, and we have had quite a celebration with guns firing shot and shell into Petersburg to remind them of the day. This day makes four 4th of Julys that I have passed in the Army. . . . . I had a party of officers to dine with me today, and we gave what seemed to me, by way of contrast, a fine dinner. This was our bill of fare: Stewed oysters (canned); Roast turkey (canned); Bread pudding; Tapioca pudding; Apple pie (made in camp); Lemonade; Cigars. Tomorrow if we march, hard tack and salt pork will be our fare.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

July 4– Monday– Petersburg, Virginia–”No doubt you are every uneasy about me. All communication has been cut off two or more weeks and now my only chance is to send this by hand to where it can be mailed. I have been off duty nearly two weeks with diarrhea very bad, but I shall go to the front this evening, having got nearly well. I do hope and pray that you and the children are well. Molly, this is 4th of July. I have not got any baked shoat nor turkey nor I haven’t got a kiss from my Molly, which would be worth more than all fine dinners. Molly, if you was here it would be heart rending to see the ladies of Petersburg. The enemy have been shelling the city for several days. The woods and all the country is filled with women, from old gray haired mothers down to the infant, driven from their homes without a change of dressing, thousands of them in the wood, without any shelter or protection.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier W. A. Stilwell to his wife Molly.

trenches at Petersburg

trenches at Petersburg

July 4– Monday– Cherokee County, Georgia– “On this anniversary, here we are under the broiling sun of Georgia. We have advanced further south since I wrote. It was ascertained yesterday that the enemy had left our front. Our forces had been massed on our right, and I have it on pretty good authority that an attack upon the enemy’s extreme left was intended to be made yesterday morning, to break it if possible and get upon the railroad in his rear. . . . he could not well be ignorant of these movements on our part and anticipated our move by evacuating. We started in pursuit at six o’clock, and marched all day in all sorts of directions and accomplished little. . . . We had to be content to move very cautiously, and when we noticed that the rebels were taking up a new line on the Nicojack Creek, we made no attempt to disturb them. We got into camp very tired late last night. . . . We are to go three miles from here and are likely to stay a little while. We took a large number of rebel deserters, straggling about yesterday, including officers. The Johnnies are demoralized.” ~ Letter from Union officer Fredrick C. Winkler to his wife.

July 4– Monday– Cobb County, Georgia– “Monday morning, bright and clear in nature, but my spirits much depressed I went to town [Marietta]. Every thing looked changed, all strange faces, but few acquaintances to be found. I visited a few friends and then returned to my lonely Home, feeling solitary and deserted, cut off even from correspondence with my family and friends, and feeling as I was entirely among strangers, gave me another dull night for rest, and compelled me to indulge many painful reflections upon the sad consequences of war, and particularly this war, for which I was in no way culpable and had exerted all my powers to prevent– and from which I so sadly suffered.” ~ Diary of William King.

July 4– Monday– Clay County, Mississippi– “Today is the Anniversary of the declaration of our forefather’s independence, one year ago was a sad one for the happiness of our Southern Confederacy– Vicksburg surrendered by Pemberton to Grant. Many changes and sad days since that event, but thanks to a just and merciful God our hopes are brighter than at any time since we have been struggling for Independence. May the God of Battles defend our cause, protect our Armies from danger & disease, and crown them with glory and success. . . . We had a delightful day. . . . We saw all of our friends, too numerous to name. Major Leverson brought us home this evening.” ~ Diary of Belle Edmondson.

July 4– Monday– San Francisco, California– The Bank of California, founded by William Chapman Ralston and Darius Ogden Mills, among others, opens for business. It is the first commercial bank in the western United States.

July 5– Tuesday– New York City– Editor Horace Greeley, age 53, a critic of President Lincoln and advocating peace with the South, receives a letter from friends in Canada, asserting that Confederate representatives are available to discuss peace terms. Greeley in turn urges Lincoln to negotiate.

July 5– Tuesday– Brooklyn, New York–” I have had the misfortune to fall back a little since I wrote to you. I have had three or four pretty bad days & nights but I am feeling decidedly brighter this afternoon, & have no doubt I shall be myself again before long. The trouble has been as before, bad spells of weakness with heavy aching head– I think the throat is no worse, but it is not well. . . . I do not write much, nor do any thing hardly, but keep as quiet as possible– my physician thinks that time, with the change of locality, & my own latent recuperative power, will make me well, but says my system is probably saturated with the virus of the hospitals &c which eludes ordinary treatment. I have nothing new or interesting to write you. I intend to move heaven & earth to publish my ‘Drum-Taps’ as soon as I am able to go around.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his friend William D. O’Connor.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

July 5– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “Telegrams this a.m. inform us that the pirate Alabama was sunk on the 19th of June off Cherbourg by the steamer Kearsarge, Commodore Winslow, after a fight of one hour and a half. Informed the President and Cabinet of the tidings, which was a matter of general congratulation and rejoicing. Mr. Fessenden appeared at Cabinet-meeting as the successor of Mr. Chase. Although the regular day of meeting, all were specially notified, and all promptly attended. The President appeared more constrained and formal than usual.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

sinking of the CSS Alabama

sinking of the CSS Alabama

July 5– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws, do hereby declare that in my judgment the public safety especially requires that the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, so proclaimed in the said proclamation of the 15th of September, 1863, be made effectual and be duly enforced in and throughout the said State of Kentucky, and that martial law be for the present established therein. I do therefore hereby require of the military officers in the said State that the privileges of the writ of habeas corpus be effectually suspended within the said State, according to the aforesaid proclamation, and that martial law be established therein, to take effect from the date of this proclamation, the said suspension and establishment of martial law to continue until this proclamation shall be revoked or modified, but not beyond the period when the said rebellion shall have been suppressed or come to an end. And I do hereby require and command as well all military officers as all civil officers and authorities existing or found within the said State of Kentucky to take notice of this proclamation and to give full effect to the same. The martial law herein proclaimed and the things in that respect herein ordered will not be deemed or taken to interfere with the holding of lawful elections, or with the proceedings of the constitutional legislature of Kentucky, or with the administration of justice in the courts of law existing therein between citizens of the United States in suits or proceedings which do not affect the military operations or the constituted authorities of the Government of the United States.” ~ Proclamation by President Lincoln.

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