Old Abe Will Be Reelected~August 1864~the 2nd & 3rd

Old Abe Will Be Reelected ~ a Union soldier

Serving in the Union siege works in front of Petersburg, a soldier expresses his confidence that Lincoln will win reelection. A friend worries about Whitman’s health. Gideon Welles worries about Grant’s abilities. Southern women worry about Federal soldiers. A soldier fighting in Virginia worries about his family in Georgia. A doctor at Andersonville worries about the high number of sick.

Union soldiers

Union soldiers

August 2– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “The explosion and assault at Petersburg on Saturday last appears to have been badly managed. The results were bad and the effect has been disheartening in the extreme. There must have been some defect or weakness on the part of some one or more. I have been waiting to get the facts, but do not yet get them to my satisfaction. It is stated in some of the letters written that lots were cast as to which corps and which officers should lead in the assault. I fear there may be truth in the report, but if so, and Grant was in it or cognizant of it, my confidence in him– never very great– would be impaired. I should not be surprised to learn that Meade committed such an act, for I do not consider him adequate to his high position, and yet I may do him injustice. My personal acquaintance with him is slight, but he has in no way impressed me as a man of breadth and strength or capabilities . . . . [I have] an awakening apprehension that Grant is not equal to the position assigned him. God grant that I may be mistaken, for the slaughtered thousands of my countrymen who have poured out their rich blood for three months on the soil of Virginia from the Wilderness to Petersburg under his generalship can never be atoned in this world or the next if he without Sherman prove a failure. A blight and sadness comes over me like a dark shadow when I dwell on the subject, a melancholy feeling of the past, a foreboding of the future. A nation’s destiny almost has been committed to this man, and if it is an improper committal, where are we? The consequence of the Petersburg failure, and the late successful raid of the Rebels, will embolden them to our injury. They will take courage, keep fewer troops to man their batteries at Richmond, and send more to harass our frontiers, perhaps to strengthen Hood in opposing Thomas and Sherman.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

General Grant

General Grant

August 2– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “I am disconsolate at your long stay. What has become of you? On returning the 7th of July I found you had gone home sick. You have no business to be sick, so I expect you are well. I was so unlucky as to be sick myself all the time I was home– and most of the time since I came back. I am quite well now, however, and feel like myself. . . . I hope you are printing Drum Taps, and that this universal drought does not reach your ‘grass.’ But make haste and come back. The heat is delicious I have a constant bath in my own perspiration. I was out at the front during the siege of Washington and lay in the rifle pits with the soldiers. I got quite a taste of war and learned the song of those modern minstrels– the minnie bullets– by heart. A line from you would be prized.” ~ Letter from John Burroughs to his friend Walt Whitman.

August 2– Tuesday– Petersburg, Virginia– “We all feel anxious to hear from dear Father or yourself, & then we will know certainly. As it is, we hear rumors, which we cannot always rely on. but of course they make their own impressions. I expected they would burn dear beautiful Roswell, that precious Home which we all loved. I love it, because both my little ones were born there, & so much of my married life has passed there. But alas! from all we can learn, it must be a perfect desolation. Major Minton told Barrington [author’s brother] that they had cut down every shade tree, after burning the homes of all. I feel more sad, for your being burned out of your Home, & such a dear precious home than any thing else.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Thomas E King to his mother in Georgia.

August 2– Tuesday– outside Atlanta, Georgia– “We are still in the same position; our progress seems to be slow. Forces are still moving from our left to our right. We have reports here of another invasion from the north by a large force of rebels; it is also said that Grant has retired from before Petersburg. The news from the east generally is not a bit encouraging; the whole of that huge struggle of the Army of the Potomac, attended as it has been by terrible loss, seems to have been for naught. Still it will not do to reason upon matters now, let us hope for the best; this very invasion may be the best thing that could happen for us. Still it will create such consternation in the north; the north is not prepared for defense. I have to go to a session of that board again this afternoon. The question before that board is a rebel flag; two regiments claim it as a trophy by right of capture. A good deal of testimony has been adduced, and each regiment proves that it captured a flag conclusively, yet there is but one. It is a very disagreeable question to decide. There is, of course, a great deal of feeling about it in both regiments.” ~ Letter from Union officer Fredrick C. Winkler to his wife Frances.


August 2– Tuesday– Atlanta, Georgia– “Thinking perhaps the boys would like to hear from the volunteers from the front, I take the opportunity while it is quiet enough to let you know that there is but one of us that is now in the land of the living, as Culpepper was shot through the head on Sunday morning about 8 o’clock and died 6 o’clock in the evening. . . . I wrote to his wife yesterday that I had his things and money and would send them to her the first chance I got, and if I don’t get killed myself I would be home after the term of my enlistment is out. The times are pretty dangerous up here, as they are shelling one another all the time and you have to keep close in your holes. There are thousands of balls whizzing along all the time over your head.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to a friend.

August 2– Tuesday– Covington, Georgia– “Just as I got out of bed this morning Aunt Julia [a slave] called me to look down the road and see the soldiers. I peeped through the blinds, and there they were, sure enough, the Yankees – the blue coats! I was not dressed. The servant [slave] women came running in. ‘Mistress, they are coming! They are coming! They are riding into the lot! There are two coming up the steps!’ I bade Rachel [a slave] fasten my room door and go to the front door and ask them what they wanted. They did not wait for that, but came in and asked why my door was fastened. She told them that the white folks were not up. They said they wanted breakfast, and that quick, too. . . . As soon as I could get on my clothing I hastened to the kitchen to hurry up breakfast. Six of them were there talking with my [slave] women. They asked about our soldiers . . . . To-night Captain Smith of an Alabama regiment, and a squad of twenty men, are camped opposite in the field. They have all supped with me, and I shall breakfast with them. We have spent a pleasant evening with music and talk. They have a prisoner along. I can’t help feeling sorry for him.” ~ Diary of Dolly Sumner Lunt Burge.

Dolly Sumner Lunt Burge

Dolly Sumner Lunt Burge

August 2– Tuesday– Andersonville, Georgia– At Andersonville prison the chief surgeon reports that 21% of the 30,000 prisoners are sick, including 5010 in the stockade and 1305 in the hospital. Scurvy is rampant due to scarcity of healthy food, the commissary is without funds, and many prisoners have no shelter.

August 2– Tuesday– Camden County, Georgia– “Last night a small boat came up the river. The enemy landed and burned up the house that the pickets occupied– they are supposed to be deserters from across the river. The pickets in their fright ran to warn Major Bailey but left us in happy ignorance until morning. We have heard two or three times from the boys. They were feeling well, but we are constantly anxious. The enemy are getting a strong hold on Georgia. We go to Kate’s twice a week for the mail. It is all the visiting and recreation that we have. She seems to enjoy it as well as we, and loads us down with good things. There is now here a new set of pickets, young boys from fourteen and up. They are abundantly supplied with melons from our garden. We have enough for ourselves and our neighbors. Were we near a market we could realize a handsome sum as they are selling from $5.00 to $10.00 but no one has any money now.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

August 2– Tuesday– Hancock, Maryland; Old Town, Maryland; Green Springs Run, West Virginia; Berwick, Louisiana; near Holden, Missouri– Raids, scouting and skirmishing.

August 2– Tuesday– Calais, France– Under various pretexts, French officials prevent the CSS Rappahannock from leaving port. Confederate officials decide not to press the matter.

August 3– Wednesday– New York City– “The rebs, on their side, are constantly firing at squirrels and birds; on our side they are unmolested. Good-sized pines, chestnut and the gum-bark tree are in and on the sides of the ravine, forming a thick and pleasant shade. . . . Politics we do not get time to trouble, our heads much about; but still have our opinions and preferences. Mine is, that Old Abe will be reelected and for these reasons: first, because he is about the ‘honestest’ one they can get, and a majority of the great farming population and working classes will vote for him. With ‘Grant, Butler and the war’ as a watchword, so popular with the people, the Administration party will sweep the elections if the President continues to give them the support which the country demands. Such is my opinion as a soldier.” ~ Letter from a Union soldier, serving in the siege of Petersburg, printed in today’s New York Times.

Chambersburg courthouse after the raid

Chambersburg courthouse after the raid

August 3– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– “We are all safe, though homeless and with only some clothing left. Our stable is unharmed. We saved by far the smallest part of our clothing – I have a borrowed shirt, one straw hat, & so-on. My Library, even my Papers & Manuscripts (except my Deeds) all – all gone. . . . Some houses in each square were fired, and . . . others caught. . . . Except one house (the Misses Dennys 8 doors above and where we are now), every house down on both sides for 7 Squares, is gone. So with Main Street for nearly ½ mile, Queen Street, part of Washington, etc . . . . The Bank, all the stores, all the hotels, every shoe, clothing, and other stores (except in the outskirts some small grocery etc shops) are all consumed. In most instances, little– in very many, nothing – was saved, not even a single change of clothing. But blessed be God, there are those who were spared, & their hearts & houses are open to the rest. Help in the way of provisions & clothing is coming in. None need to starve. But such a scene of Ruin! No imagination can conceive it. Governor Curtin came up last evening and said to me: ‘The reality is fearfully beyond all my conceptions.’ He requested us to try & keep the people in heart, for many have left, & more do not know what to do here now. . . . Some of the rebel officers + men that were here did not expect this vandalism, & they showed a good spirit – they did [not] & would not fire any building & even helped people to carry out things out of their houses. They denounced the whole

procedure as outrageous and wicked.” ~ Letter from Benjamin S. Schneck to his sister Margaretta S. Keller and her husband.

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