This Sad, Useless War~July 1864~10th to 12th

This Sad, Useless War ~ William King

More than enough grief and concern to go around. A church service stopped. An editor arrested. Criminals in a prison camp. Weary refugees. A poet sick and exhausted. A president disappointed. Yet the Confederate raiders are turned back from Washington and a child who will be a great scientist and educator is born.


July 10– Sunday– Cobb County, Georgia– “I went to town but was informed that there would be no Church service. I saw Colonel Gleason (Commandant of Post) and asked if he would allow Mr. Benedict (the only remaining minister) to have services in his Church he said no, as he would not pray for the President of the U. S. I suggested that he would omit that part of the service, he said no, Mr. B. was too unsound, that he was the most ultra Secessionist he had met. I afterwards learnt that Mr. B. for some days had not been permitted to go beyond the limits of his lot. While in town I met Mr. Eldridge and Mr. Bonfoir (the Superintendent Of the Roswell Cotton and Wool factories), they inform me of the sad condition of things at Roswell, that the factories had been utterly destroyed and they and all the operatives, men and women, had been arrested and were in Marietta on their way to the North, that with the exception of Brother Pratt’s house, every one of the houses of the respectable settlers of Roswell had been broken open and plundered and everything of value had either been taken away or destroyed and done almost entirely by the operatives, that the soldiers had committed but few depredations. What a comment upon the human character. They stated that Brother P. & Cate were both well, but very anxious and wanted to see me; and although I no less anxious to see them, I could not prudently leave here even for a day, with such a multitude of depredators roving over the county. I returned home with many sad feelings. What a world of sin we live in. . . . The greater part of the day I remained at Home, in the afternoon I had much and pleasant company, some performing well on the Piano, others good singers, they refreshed me by playing and singing much pleasant sacred music. I told than not to sing Home, Sweet Home, that I did not want to hear it until I and my wife were within the same lines. Today closes one week since I have been under Yankee [control]. I thank God that my experiences far exceeded my most sanguine anticipations. I have suffered but little annoyance, exclusive of the robbing by the stragglers last Sabbath. I have suffered no more from the soldiers of the Federal Army than from those of our own Army. I have mingled and conversed freely with officers and privates. I have not met a single individual whose department and language has not been gentlemanly, nor a word nor opinion has been expressed to me in the least discourteous manner. Although in many cases our opinions materially differed, we pleasantly discussed them. And greatly to my surprise, even among the common soldiers with whom I have also conversed freely, I have seen exhibited no exultant spirit nor expression at our army having so constantly fallen back; but more a spirit of sympathy for us, and simply a desire to avoid any expression which might be painful to me. All which I have seen compels me to admire the men– they do not seem to feel any hatred toward us, but speak favorably of our army and our people, they say we are one people, the same language, habits and religion, and ought to be one people, they have a higher opinion of the people of the South than before the war; and I am sure even an ultra South Carolinian can never again say that 1 South Carolinian can whip 5 Yankees, to have effected such a change of sentiment North and South toward the people of both sections, has been one of the favorable results of this sad war.” ~ Diary of William King.

July 10– Sunday– Andersonville, Georgia– At the prison camp, the six ring leaders of the Raider prison gang, which had been accused of stealing from and even killing fellow inmates, are tried by a court of twenty-four Union sergeants, found guilty, and sentenced to hang, with the minor gang members to be flogged by a gauntlet of inmates.

Andersonville prison

Andersonville prison

July 10– Sunday– Camden County, Georgia– “Ed Richardson came home last month from Virginia with a wounded heel– a ball passed directly through it. Fred and Gussie have both gone to Tennessee to join Johnston’s army. They left the 1st of July. The whole regiment has gone and we are left to the mercy of the blockaders. We only number four men in a region of eight miles and they are lame and decrepit. Mr. Fisher is now confined to his bed with a bad abscess in his right breast. Suffers very much. If the enemy come and wish to take us, there is nothing to prevent them. We went over to Kate’s yesterday. She is complaining. Mrs. Smith with six children, and one at the breast, with a Negro, came to pass Sunday with her– hope she will enjoy it.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

July 10– Sunday– Columbus, Mississippi– “A long, long weary day this has been for our little party. . . . Dispatches say the Yankees are in force in Pontotoc on yesterday, our boys will have some terrible fighting. God grant they may be victorious, oh! heaven hear our prayers, spare our friends and Brothers, and shield our Generals from danger, drive our wicked, heartless enemies back to their own hearth stones, smile upon, and prosper and bless once more our Sunny land. We had a hard rain this eve, Tate went to Church.” ~ Diary of Belle Edmondson.

July 10– Sunday– Rockville, Maryland; Gunpowder Bridge, Maryland; Cherry Creek, Mississippi; Plentytude, Mississippi; Issaquena County, Mississippi; Alpharetta, Georgia; Campbellton, Georgia; Little Rock, Arkansas; Petit Jean, Arkansas; Platte City, Missouri– Firefights, altercations, encounters and affrays.

July 11– Monday– Brooklyn, New York– “My dear comrade, I have been very sick, and have been brought on home nearly three weeks ago, after being sick some ten days in Washington. The doctors say my sickness is from having too deeply imbibed poison into my system from the hospitals. I had spells of deathly faintness, & the disease also attacked my head & throat pretty seriously. The doctors forbid me going any more into the hospitals. I did not think much of it, till I got pretty weak, & then they directed me to leave & go north for change of air as soon as I had strength. But I am making too long a story of it. I thought only to write you a line. My dear comrade, I am now over the worst of it & have been getting better the last three days– my brother took me out in a carriage for a short ride yesterday which is the first I have been out of the house since I have been home– the doctor tells me to-day I shall soon be around which will be very acceptable. This is the first sickness I have ever had & I find upon trial such things as faintness, headache & trembling & tossing all night, & all day too, are not proper companions for a good union man like myself.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his friend Lewis K. Brown.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

July 11– Monday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “On Saturday last, Captain Over, commanding at this post, received a peremptory order from General Hunter to arrest the responsible editors of the Wheeling Register and put them in the military prison, and suppress for the present the further publication of the paper. Captain Over was left in the dark as to the special cause why this order was issued and no one else of course was any better off. It was presumed that the extreme bitterness with which the Register had referred to General Hunter in connection with the Washington Statue might have had something to do with the arrest, but this is hardly probable. Still, the wonder is as to the reason of the arrest. What has been the immediate cause of it? No one seems to have any idea beyond the fact of the general disloyalty of the sheet. So far as we have observed there has been nothing unusual in the paper of late. . . . What makes the arrest of the Register all the more incomprehensible is the report of Wharton’s arrest at Parkersburg for an article published in his paper the Gazette. Wharton, we all know, is a loyal man and of course it was for no act of intentional aid or comfort to the enemy that he was arrested. We understand that the last issue of his paper was suppressed and burned, and hence we have not our usual copy of the Gazette to see what was said. The arrest of Mr. Wharton has stirred up a good deal of feeling among the Union men at Parkersburg as we learned yesterday. We presume that he will be speedily released by order of the Government. Governor Boreman has sent a request to that effect to the Secretary of War.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

July 11– Monday– Silver Spring, Maryland; Frederick, Maryland; Magnolia, Maryland; Fort Stevens, outside Washington, D.C.– Confederate forces under General Jubal Early tangle with Federal troops who have poured into the area to defend Washington.

July 11– Monday– Andersonville, Georgia– At the prison camp a chaplain administers last rites to the six Raider leaders convicted the previous day of murdering other inmates. They are then hanged by fellow inmates inside of the stockade and, by request of the other prisoners, buried dishonorably in a separate plot in the prison cemetery.

Andersonville burial detail

Andersonville burial detail

July 11– Monday– Hadarschu, Bulgaria– Birth of Petar Danow, spiritual teacher and founder of a religious community. [Dies December 27, 1944.]

July 12– Tuesday– outside of Washington, D.C.– Reviewing the re-enforced Union positions around the city, General Early decides not to launch an assault against the city and at dusk, begins to withdraw. The raid has not reduced the Federal pressure against Petersburg, Virginia nor made a significant change in the military position of the Confederacy.

July 12– Washington, D.C.– “It was a fine little fight but did not last long. . . . We slept upon the field, glad that we had saved Washington from capture, for without our help the small force in the forts would have been overpowered. Early should have attacked early in the morning. Early was Late.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

July 12– Washington, D.C.– “I suppose you received my letter of the 9th. I have just received yours . . . and am disappointed by it. I was not expecting you to send me a letter, but to bring me a man, or men.” ~ Telegram from President Lincoln to Horace Greeley.

July 12– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “General Johnston telegraphs to General Bragg to have the United States prisoners at Andersonville ‘distributed immediately.’ He does not allege a reason for the necessity. It may be danger of an outbreak– or that the yellow fever has broken out among them.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

July 12– Tuesday– Cobb County, Georgia– “What sufferings have been occasioned by this sad, useless war– how much happier would we all be had not the political demagogues North and South been permitted to force this war upon a happy, prosperous people. Mr. Goodman this morning informed of a pleasant incident of which he was a witness on Sabbath last, he with a few others had attended the burial in the graveyard of a child of a poor woman who was a refugee from the county, she was greatly afflicted, at the grave he met a Federal officer . . . who had prepared the grave and who he then learnt had assisted in attending the sick child, procured the coffin and prepared the grave, he stood by the poor mother, comforting her, while the Federal soldiers were filling up the grave, and when done the poor mother overcome with grief, threw herself on the grave, the Federal officer knelt by her side speaking comforting words, some higher spots still left in the Human heart, not all godforsaken. We had some rain last night to lay the dust. The flies have been more numerous and annoying for a month past than I have ever known before.” ~ Diary of William King.

Dr George Washington Carver-1906

Dr George Washington Carver-1906

July 12–Tuesday– near Diamond Grove, Missouri– Probable birth date of George Washington Carver, African American botanist and scientist, born to slave parents. [He will earn degrees in 1894 and 1896 from the Iowa State College of Agriculture, teach and conduct reach at Tuskegee Institute, Alabama, and win five prestigious awards. Upon his death on January 5, 1943, he will leave an estate of $60,000 to Tuskegee which would be worth $808,000 today, using the Consumer Price Index.]

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