The Political Caldron Is Seething~August 1864~the 6th to 8th

The Political Caldron Is Seething ~ George Templeton Strong.

Lincoln’s reelection seems to be in trouble. On a personal level he must deal with a troublesome sister-in-law. A Southern soldier faces black troops in combat and gives voice to his prejudice. Death, destruction and disruption increase in Georgia. A Confederate soldier discovers that one of his brothers is also a prisoner of the Federals. A long-serving Union officer notes how many times he has crossed the Potomac River in the course of his service. The Times takes note of German support for the Union cause. Another newspaper suggests that Havana cigars have that special something because of opium.

Battle of the Crater

Battle of the Crater

August 6– Saturday– Petersburg, Virginia– “Since I last wrote, again has the two opposing armies in Virginia, met in deadly strife. On the morning of the 30th July, the enemy sprung one of their mines in front of our lines, charging simultaneously with the explosion and succeeded in capturing a portion of our lines. About sunrise three brigades of our division were ordered from the right of our lines to the point at which the explosion occurred. Immediately upon their arrival, a charge was ordered. The works were carried & the enemy driven back to their old position. Upon the arrival of our troops at the breastworks, they found to be filled with real sure enough n****** crying ‘no quarter! no quarter!’ As they were the first colored troops our troops had ever seen, you may rest assured ‘no quarter’ was shown. An indiscriminate butchery commenced, and hardly a Negro remained to tell the story. Our loss was heavy indeed. We have to mourn many dear friends, whose lives have been sacrificed to their country. Nearly every regimental commander was killed. Just think of our brave men being murdered by cruel heartless Negroes. Isn’t it enough to render the Yankees more despicable, if possible, than ever? Oh how I do long for this cruel war to end & such barbarities with it. Since the 4th of May, our arms have been signally victorious. Almost everywhere except in Georgia, we’ve met with unprecedented success. It seems as if that department has been & is now our only drawback. I believe we would long since have had peace if that army could have equaled the successes of the Army of Northern Virginia. The people of Yankeedom seem to be somewhat enraged & frightened at the destruction of part of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. I wonder if they ever think of how many Southern homes have been made desolate, by their ruthless raiders. They, when their homes are burned, are very quick to cry out against such warfare; proclaiming it barbarous and inhumane. They are a wonderfully consistent people. Everything they do is right. Tis to be devoutly wished they may soon meet their just rewards. ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee Maggie Cone.

August 6– Saturday– Columbus, Georgia– “Now I have a painful duty to record in my diary. On the 28th of July, the enemy was pressing us at Atlanta. The brigade of my son (Captain Willis D Banks) was ordered to take the breastworks of the enemy near Atlanta, skirmishing for a time, going on. The order was impracticable. General Johnston had been relieved for retreating so often and General Hood succeeded him. Hood felt that it would not do for him to retreat under such circumstances. Willis at all times ready to make a charge when ordered. In the effort to carry out the order was badly wounded, shot in the breast with a Minie ball and taken out of the way. . . . Several ministers call to see him and had full and free conversation with him of his future prospects. He seemed willing and desirous to talk with them upon the subject. He said that long ago he had had the matter under consideration and felt a change and a determination to do right for the future, that he had not done wrong since that time that he knew of. That he was prepared to die and did not fear death. The Rev. Mr. Wynn was with him and wrote me fully of his interview with him, which was to him satisfactory, and that he had full confidence of his prospects for Heaven. Willis lived from Thursday till 2 o’clock Monday, A.M. and died giving all who conversed with him upon his future prospect, full confidence that he was gone to Heaven.” ~ Diary of John Banks.


August 6– Saturday– Mobile, Alabama– Finding that the Confederates have evacuated Fort Powell, Farragut’s ships proceed to bombard Fort Gaines.

August 6– Saturday– Utoy Creek, Georgia; Indian Village, Louisiana; Plaquemine, Louisiana– Hard fighting and heavy skirmishing.

August 7– Sunday– Westerly, Rhode, Island– Birth of Ellen Fitz Pendleton, the youngest of the nine children of Enoch and Mary Chapman Pendleton. She will become an educator and serve as president of Wellesley College from 1911 to 1936, increasing the college’s endowment from $1.2 million to over $9.7 million. [Dies July 26, 1936]

Dr Ellen Fitz Pendleton

Dr Ellen Fitz Pendleton

August 7– Sunday– New York City– “Our correspondent said that the pains taken by our efficient Consul-General at Frankfort (Mr Murphy) ‘to keep the German public well-informed on the progress of events in the United States, has contributed powerfully to this popularity of American stocks at the leading German Exchange, and we are taught by his efforts how easy it is, with a little well-directed and truthful publicity, to keep public opinion in the right track.’ This compliment we believe to be justly paid; but the popularity of our stocks among the middle-class people of Germany, is also due in a great measure, we fancy, to the favorable representations of the strength and resources of the United States sent from this country by the patriotic and true-hearted Germans who have a residence and a home among us. While such a noble confidence in the future of this republic and its financial honor is exhibited in Germany, we are almost ashamed to think of the lack of manly faith exhibited by American-born people in our own midst.” ~ New York Times.

August 7– Sunday– Johnson’s Island, Sandusky, Ohio– “I have received your letter of the 28th and was truly glad to hear from you. It has been long since your handwriting greeted my eye. You are fortunate in your wound and at the same time unfortunate. Wounds in the foot usually heal slowly. You must exercise patience, be in no hurry to leave [the] hospital if your wishes are consulted. Are you supplied with clothing? Let me know precisely. If you have money now or receive it hereafter, be sparing in the use of it whilst in the hospital. You will need it more in prison. Write home whenever you can and to me. Tell me the home news. Write one page only.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Henry McDaniel, a prisoner, to his brother Ira, wounded and now also a prisoner.

August 7– Sunday– Harpers Ferry, West Virginia– “This made twenty-five times that I have crossed the Potomac since I entered the Army. We are now in camp with our Brigade. Major General Philip H. Sheridan has arrived and has taken command of this Department.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

August 7– Sunday– Memphis, Tennessee– “It is generally known that the best Havana cigars are made from tobacco dipped in a solution of opium. Natural leaf tobacco never has that peculiar effect, as will be noticed upon smoking the best oaken leaf in a pipe. It is the opium in a first-rate cigar, and not the tobacco, which smokers get enslaved with, and cannot do without. In some of the Havana establishments, twenty thousand dollars of opium per year in used.” ~ Memphis Bulletin.

August 7– Sunday– Cobb County, Georgia– “The Chaplain commenced his services, under the trees in the Yard. I sat in the Room Window and attended his services, not 1/3 of the men attended & but few of the officers; those who attended were very attentive; the services were short, the whole occupying less time than an hour. The sermon was from 1 Romans, a plain good discourse, but not exhibited the spiritual unction I had expected. . . . In the afternoon the Chaplain had other services, I did not attend but went to visit some of the neighbors, his services at night I attended, he had a larger audience, but much noise & disturbance around. The officers do not seem to feel much interest in the services, neither attending themselves nor using their influence to preserve order.” ~ Diary of William King.

soldiers at a religious service

soldiers at a religious service

August 7– Sunday– Atlanta, Georgia– “We have been to church this morning for the first time in three weeks. Reverend Atticus Haygood preached to us in the Methodist church. Our cruel foe has the grace to cease from shelling us on the Sabbath, at least he has not done so yet. Last Wednesday night the horrid missiles of destruction whizzed past our house and discomposed us considerably. Heretofore they had fallen short, but now we cannot tell at what moment they may strike us. A gentleman and his little girl, ten years of age, were both killed in bed by the same shell last week, and several others have lost their lives.” ~ Diary of an Atlanta resident.

August 7– Sunday– Huntsville, Missouri; Enterprise, Missouri; along the Tallahatchie River, Mississippi; near Moorefield, West Virginia; Grand Bayou, Florida; Union County, Tennessee– Bitter exchanges and plenty of skirmishing.

August 7– Sunday– Kranj, Slovenia– Janez Puhar, priest, poet, painter and pioneer photographer, dies two and a half weeks before his 50th birthday.

Janez Puhar

Janez Puhar

August 8– Monday– New York City– “Than as if this were not enough, the Political Caldron is seething as if it were much nitric acid in contact with boundless copper filings. There is fearful evolution of irritating offensive gas and Heaven only knows what compound will be generated by the furious reaction of which we now see only the beginning. Peace Democrats and McClellanites are blatant. McClellan, it’s said, will accept no nomination except on a war platform.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

August 8– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Last December Mrs. Emily T. Helm, half-sister of Mrs. Lincoln, and widow of the rebel general, Ben Hardin Helm, stopped here on her way from Georgia to Kentucky, and I gave her a paper, as I remember, to protect her against the mere fact of her being General Helm’s widow. I hear a rumor to-day that you recently sought to arrest her, but were prevented by her presenting the paper from me. I do not intend to protect her against the consequences of disloyal words or acts, spoken or done by her since her return to Kentucky, and if the paper given her by me can be construed to give her protection for such words and acts, it is hereby revoked pro tanto. Deal with her for current conduct just as you would with any other.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln to Union General Burbridge, in Lexington, Kentucky.

August 8– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Going into the War Department yesterday morning . . . I found the President with General Grant, Stanton, and General Halleck in the Secretary’s room. I proposed leaving on making the single inquiry, provided they were in secret council, but the President and General Grant declared they were not . . . . General Grant has been to Frederick and placed Sheridan in command of the forces on the upper Potomac instead of Hunter, which is a good change, for H., though violently earnest, is not exactly the man for that command. . . . The President, in a conversation with Blair and myself on the Wade and Davis protest, remarked that he had not, and probably should not read it. From what was said of it he had no desire to, could himself take no part in such a controversy as they seemed to wish to provoke. Perhaps he is right, provided he has some judicious friend to state to him what there is really substantial in the protest entitled to consideration without the vituperative asperity. The whole subject of what is called reconstruction is beset with difficulty, and while the executive has indicated one course and Congress another, a better and different one than either may be ultimately pursued. I think the President would have done well to advise with his whole Cabinet in the measures he has adopted, not only as to reconstruction or reestablishing the Union, but as to this particular bill and the proclamation he has issued in regard to it. When the Rebellion shall have been effectually suppressed, the Union government will be itself again, ‘re-union will speedily follow in the natural course of events,’ but there are those who do not wish or intend reunion on the principle of political equality of the States. Unless they can furnish the mode and terms, and for fear they may not be successful, various schemes are projected.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles

Gideon Welles

Gideon Welles

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