The Very Apex of This Great Event~August 1864~the 1st & 2nd

The Very Apex of This Great Event ~ President Lincoln

August begins with North and South finding the war quite different from three months ago. Richmond and Atlanta are both threatened by Federal forces. Lee mounts a fine defense but lacks supplies and reenforcements. In Georgia, Hood fares not much better than Johnston against the belligerent Sherman. Northern politics grow increasingly difficult and Lincoln’s advisors fear defeat in the November election. Yet before the month is over a major military victory will help the Republican cause and enemies within Lincoln’s own party will make a major faux pas. The Democrats will hold a convention. Georgia will suffer more as Sherman tightens the noose around Atlanta. The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia will see almost unlimited fighting.


At the start, Lincoln gives an interview to a Canadian journalist. Many people comment about the battle at the crater and the burning of Chambersburg. The New York Times mocks Horace Greeley and the Confederacy for the failed peace talks. War or not, people commit crimes and attempt to flee.

August 1– Monday– New York City– “The editor of the London (Canada) Free Press, writing from Washington to his paper, thus describes an interview with Mr. Lincoln . . . . ‘Your position must indeed be responsible and trying, Mr President.’ ‘Yes, to think of it, it is very strange that I, a boy, brought up in the woods, and seeing, as it were, but little of the world, should be drifted into the very apex of this great event.’” ~ New York Times.


August 1– Monday– New York City– “No news from Petersburg this morning. But we have news by the afternoon papers. Grant has delivered his grand coup and has failed. He exploded his mines . . . and pushed forward his columns but had to withdraw them . . . with severe loss, it would seem. Never mind. Attacks on Vicksburg, Port Hudson, and Sebastopol failed ignominiously but all three fell at last. Copperheads, sympathizers and traitors will rejoice over this news but their joy may yet be turned to mourning and the country saved.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

August 1– Monday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– “I have no doubt you are very anxious to hear from home, thanks to a kind Providence that we still retain our home. I suppose you hear all sorts of news. But hardly much worse than it really is. On Saturday morning at four O’clock we heard artillery firing which proved to be the rebs on the fair grounds, and a few of our soldiers between them and town. We had two pieces [of artillery] I do not know how many the rebels had, Our men then started with the horses, & sheep . . . . The rebels . . . first (for an excuse) demanded 500,000 in Greenbacks, or 100,000 in gold which of course could not be given them. They then fired the Companies ware house, Court-house-Hall, [the] Academy and then carried fire in the private houses. There is nothing but ruins from the Depot up till Dr Sueserott’s house Eysters mill the paper mill and everything is gone. There is nothing left but the suburbs of the place. Col. Mc Clure’s house and barn and J. Eby’s barn are burned. Mrs. Mc Clure was sick and they gave her ten minutes time to leave, Mrs. Mc Clellan saved her house by very hard pleading. . . . The Citizens Killed a Rebel Major who was drunk & had straggled back and was burning buildings. David & John Miller came up this morning to see whether we were burned out. There were two rebels came out to Porters on Saturday Morning and while they were busy talking a squad of our men came dashing out the lane there and captured them, they say now and it is the opinion of almost every one that they came out for the purpose of burning the mill, as the rebels said in town that Stouffer’s Mill must come down yet. . . . I was in town twice on Saturday, Once while the fire was raging and again when it was pretty well over, from the mill we could see the Cupola of the Academy, Benjamin Franklin &c. fall over– it looked very hard. Since I am writing it began to rain but I think it is already pretty well over, I have a great deal to tell you and hope to see you soon when I can have the pleasure of again speaking to you.” ~ Letter from Emma V. Stouffer to her brother Amos Stouffer, a Union soldier.

Chambersburg in flames

Chambersburg in flames

August 1– Monday– near Frederick, Maryland– “Several men were overcome by heat . . . . Yesterday we passed through the town of Jefferson again. As it was Sunday all the people were out in their good clothes. It must have been a queer Sabbath for them.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

August 1– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Exciting and silly stories prevailed about the raid into Pennsylvania. Street rumors put the Rebels at 40,000, and the press states that number, but reports are contradictory. Am still of the opinion that the force is small and the scare great. Governor Curtin and all Harrisburg are doubtless in a ferment. Was told the bells in Harrisburg were all ringing an alarm. I asked if it included the dinner-bell of Governor Curtin, for he would be frantic to stir up the people, and never disbelieved the largest fib that was sent abroad. . . . The President went yesterday to Fortress Monroe to meet General Grant, by prior arrangement, which made me distrust final operations at Petersburg, for if such were the fact, he could not well be absent. The President tells me the movement was well planned and well executed up to the closing struggle, when our men failed to do their duty. There must, I apprehend, have been fault in the officers also– not Grant, who originates nothing, is dull and heavy, but persistent.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

August 1– Monday– Petersburg, Virginia– “I am uneasy about the Yankees getting so near you. I hope they will soon come to grief. I don’t think you are in danger or at least not much danger. Oh when will this wicked war close and let us meet again, never to part again on earth? Oh, Molly, let us live near the cross of our Lord and Master and trust in him for life and salvation, Oh, that God may bless and preserve you. Molly, I often steal in the silent grove when supper’s over or for an evening prayer that God will take care of you and me and the children.” ~ Letter from W. A. Stilwell to his wife Molly.

August 1– Monday– Cobb County, Georgia– “It cheers me to know that a new month has commenced– how very anxious am I that this anxious & melancholy summer should pass away; and God only knows what better awaits us in the winter. I heard yesterday that the Pickets had shot a Bushwhacker near Kennesaw Mountain, they are getting uncomfortably near about, the whole county is becoming lawless, and will be more so as the Army is farther removed from Marietta, their force afford us much protection. These Lawless Men, from all I can learn, consist of citizens, and Federal & Confederate stragglers & deserters, they will attack any one, their object seems to be robbery. A soldier with his face badly cut up informed me today that while coming out of town at 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon, he was attacked near the grave yard by 2 of his fellow soldiers, beaten & robbed of about $18.” ~ Diary of William King. [The soldier’s $18 would equal $275 today, using the Consumer Price Index.]

August 1– Monday– Atlanta, Georgia– Federal artillery shells the city.

Federal artillery

Federal artillery

August 1– Monday– Griffin, Georgia– “I am yet alive and doing as well as could be expected, though I have been almost at death’s door. . . . thanks be to God, He sees fit to raise me, I hope, again. I was wounded in a charge on the 20th. The ball entered by left side just below the ribs and ranged down, struck the hip bone, glanced round to the back bone, there lodged. I was picked up in a few hours by friends I shall never forget and toted a mile and a half to the doctor. He probed after the ball, could not get it . . . . He could do nothing for me and left me to die. I lay without any attention two days and nights. I could not be moved without fainting. I was brought to this place Friday at night in a dying condition to all appearances. I was as helpless as an infant and [there were] maggots in my wound by thousands. The doctor went to work with me. He got them all out on Saturday evening, he put me under the influence of chloroform and cut the ball out. . . . I am now mending as fast as can be, though I can’t walk yet. But I can begin to stand on my feet a little. I sit up in my bed a good deal the last few days. I feel now that I will get well soon, so I can come home.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to his family.

August 1– Monday– Cumberland, Maryland; Flintstone Creek, Maryland; Deep Bottom, Virginia; Diamond Grove Prairie, Missouri; Rolla, Missouri; near Independence, Missouri; Lamb’s Plantation, Arkansas; Athens, Tennessee; Silver Springs, Tennessee; Bardstown, Kentucky– Raids, skirmishes, armed encounters and fire fights.


August 2– Tuesday– New York City– “Clement C. Clay, of Alabama, is one of the very meanest of those mean conspirators who helped Davis, Toombs & Co. to set up their Confederacy of Treason, Slavery and Crime. Jacob P. Thompson was one of the Secretaries of Buchanan, who rivaled Floyd in infamy, and surpassed him in meanness, These were the dramatis persona at the Clifton House, while on the other side of the roaring Niagara our amiable and renowned Greeley sat at the International, to receive the propositions of these inimitable knaves. He seems to be all unconscious of the high honor bestowed upon him by these virtuous and high-minded representatives of rebels and pirates. They are very polite. They signify an anxious desire for peace. They are particularly anxious to rescue their pirate friends from their present uncomfortable and dangerous position. Mr. Greeley is willing, as everybody knew he was, to forward so pure, so amiable, so benevolent an enterprise, as saving these pirates from their well-earned halters. Such are the actors in the farce, and we see at once, they are none of the common herd, the profanum vulgus, but of the genuine stock of Southern bragadocias; the bloviators of the Confederacy . . . . they have made a great mistake. It is not Mr. Lincoln, but the American people, who reject any terms of compromise whatever. The people and Congress will not allow the Administration to make any other terms than that the rebels shall return unconditionally to an obedience to the laws and Constitution of the United States. It is, therefore, a mere absurdity to be talking about their independence, or their separation intellectual condition, to have set up a rebellion on mere delusion, and think they can end it by proposing impossible terms. They ought to be able by this time to realize their sad condition and that to be relieved from the miseries and calamities of war they must return to their duty and their allegiance, The loyal people of this nation desire peace, earnestly and fervently, It is no pleasure to see the best young men of the country killed on the battle-field, or to see the desolated and devastated fields of the South. They would gladly end this controversy. But they have a nation, a country and flag to sustain, and will sustain, cost, what it may, till the rebellion is forever ended. Probably we shall hear no more of these fictitious embassies. The drama is drawing to a close. If the rebels cannot drive Grant away, they must fall. The army and population of Richmond cannot be fed by the scant supplies which they are now getting; Sherman cannot be stopped till he reaches Augusta and Charleston; and what then is left? The falling leaves of November will find the Confederacy in that decaying state which precedes its final fall and dissolution.” ~ New York Times.

Horace Greeley

Horace Greeley

August 2– Tuesday– Rochester, New York– “Last Wednesday evening, July 22, Mr. James Ward, a wealthy and prominent citizen of Niles, Ohio, was shot down dead in the street by Frank O. Robbins. The latter had been paying illicit visits to a married woman named Stevenson, living in a house of Mr. Ward’s, and she had been warned by the latter to leave the premises. To wreak revenge upon Mr. Ward, the guilty pair, both heavily armed, were on their way to his house, but meeting his son, they attacked and beat him severely and Mr. Ward coming to the rescue, Robbins drew a pistol and shot him through the head. The murderers then took means of escape, but officers were soon on their track, stimulated by a reward of $3,000 for the capture of Robbins, and $1,000 for his paramour. The assistance of the Buffalo police was secured, and it was soon discovered that the murderers had taken refuge near Fort Erie in Canada. Some difficulty was encountered in procuring the interference of the Canadian authorities, but by a plentiful distribution of greenbacks the way was smoothed, and Robbins and Lydia Stevenson were taken into custody, and yesterday brought across Suspension Bridge.” ~ Rochester Express.

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