Worst Specimens of These Wretched Politicians~August 1864~13th & 14th

Worst Specimens of These Wretched Politicians ~ Gideon Welles.

Lincoln’s reelection looks doubtful to many. His Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, rails against wretched politicians, especially those opposed to the President. In response to the recent burning of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Lincoln encourages Grant to negotiate with Lee to end such destruction of civilian properties. A popular actress raises money for the Sanitary Commission. A friend writes to Walt Whitman, expressing worry about the military and the political situations. Soldiers write of their concerns. Citizens in Georgia are fretful. Things in Haiti seem to be improved while trouble continues in Mexico.

Charlotte Cushman

Charlotte Cushman

August 13– Saturday– New York City– “Will you call the attention of your readers generally, and of the friends of Miss Charlotte Cushman particularly, to the testimonial of appreciation of her worth, remarkable genius and patriotic liberality, which is about to be sent from our shores to her in her distant home at Rome. Some of the leading artists of New York, Boston and Philadelphia, united in furnishing sketches for an album, containing in all about fifty paintings in oil and water, which was contributed by them to the great Central Fair, recently held in the latter city for the Sanitary Commission, with the understanding that the volume, valued at $1,500, should be subscribed for by the friends of Miss Cushman in these three cities and be presented to her through the Fair. About $700 were raised in Philadelphia, about $500 in Boston; but as yet only $100 has been received from NewYork. A check for $100 from San Francisco was sufficient to pay the expenses incurred in binding, which work was beautifully executed in green, gold and ivory – a very gem of art. We think that it cannot be generally known to the friends of Miss Cushman in New York that the subscription book which contains the autograph names of subscribers, is at the rooms of the Sanitary Commission, No. 10 Cooper Union; or the delay in filling up the amount would not have been so great.” ~ New York Times ~ letter from Henry W. Bellows, President of the United States Sanitary Commission. [Charlotte Cushman, a famous actress between 1836 and 1852, age 48 at this time, achieved great fame in England as well as in the United States, performing a variety of roles, including assuming more than 30 male roles and giving a performance before Queen Victoria and the Royal Family in 1848. Her success enabled her to amass a fortune, stop performing in 1852 and divide her time between London and Rome. Since 1857 the sculptor Emma Stebbins has been her close companion. She came out of semi-retirement in 1863 to raise money for the Sanitary Commission. Cushman dies February 18, 1876.]

Charlotte Cushman as Romeo

Charlotte Cushman as Romeo

August 13– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “Had some talk with Senator Lot Morrill, who is a good deal excited, not to say alarmed. The slow progress of our armies, the mismanagement of military affairs exemplified in the recent raids, the factious and discontented spirit manifested by Wade, Winter Davis, and others, have generated a feeling of despondency in which he participates. Others express to me similar feelings. There is no doubt a wide discouragement prevails, from the causes adverted to, and others which have contributed. A want of homogeneity exists among the old Whigs, who are distrustful and complaining. It is much more natural for them to denounce than to approve, to pull down than to build up. Their leaders and their followers, to a considerable extent, have little confidence in themselves or their cause, and hence it is a ceaseless labor with them to assail the Administration of which they are professed supporters. The worst specimens of these wretched politicians are in New York City and State, though they are to be found everywhere. There is not an honest, fair-dealing Administration journal in New York City. A majority of them profess to be Administration, and yet it is without sincerity.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles. [Senator Morrill, age 52, former governor of Maine, has served in the Senate since 1861. He favors freeing all slaves and supports Lincoln’s moderation for dealing with the South after the war.]

Senator Lot Morrill

Senator Lot Morrill

August 13– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “I am enraged and ashamed of myself to have never sent you a word responsive to your letters of July 5th and 24th.Believe that I have thought of you much, however, and for the last fortnight I have talked of you incredibly, saying superb things all the time, to Mr. Channing whom you know, and to Miss Griffith whom perhaps you have not heard of. She is a handsome and heroic Kentucky girl, who several years ago impoverished herself by liberating her slaves (seven of them, I think) and then came North to live, the South being hateful to her on account of slavery. She lives in New York, but has come on here for a time and is staying with her sister in Georgetown. She had heard much of you and was anxious to hear about you from me, whom she likes (of course!!!). So I told her much, painting you as the gigantesque angel of valor, compassion and poetry that you are, and reciting moreover all the splendid passages from your book that I could remember; besides numerous excerpts from your forthcoming volume! This, you see, involved considerable conversation about you and you must admit that I have kept you well in mind. . . . The heat of the last fortnight has been fearful, but tonight, thank goodness, there has been a rattling thunderstorm, flash and crash, with a deluge of rain, and the moon now shines through broken clouds on an earth drenched and cool. It was such rain as we have often seen here from my windows, only this time I saw it all alone. . . . Alas, Walt! There is no hope of Richmond. The campaign has proved a failure. Everything shows that Grant is coming back and the next fighting will probably be in the Shenandoah Valley if not in Ohio or Pennsylvania. It is sad to think of the eighty thousand men, veteran, lost so fruitlessly. I think Mr. Lincoln’s chances for the next presidency are very small. Victory at Atlanta is possible and may save him, but the signs are that the party will withdraw him and run some other man. I see New York had one of her oceanic meetings for McClellan lately. I fear he will be our next President.” ~ Letter from William D. O’Connor to Walt Whitman.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

August 13– Saturday– Petersburg, Virginia– “My health continues good and we are still here at the same place, getting along about as usual with the exception that our beef rations have stopped which hurts pretty bad. The weather is very warm and dry and there is a good deal of sickness. Ed Jordan is very sick, I fear dangerously sick. I think he has the typhoid fever. He is not in his right mind half his time. He is at the Brigade Hospital back in the woods about a mile from here. I went to see him yesterday. I think his wife ought to come or send somebody to see about him. There is no war news atall scarcely stirring here. They still shell and skirmish in front of Petersburg and there was some shelling on our left this morning.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

August 13– Saturday– Cobb County, Georgia– “Soldiers just riding up with their Horses loaded with bundles of corn Stalks all in tassels, a daily sight, and a sad one to see the corn crops almost ripe cut down and destroyed, to leave the poor farmers in want another year, but the Horses must have provender. Our Army did the same in cutting the Oat, Wheat & Corn crops– Famine or Want the attendant of an Army.” ~ Diary of William King.

cavalry raid typical of both sides

cavalry raid typical of both sides

August 13– Saturday– Andersonville, Georgia– A new source of fresh water for the prisoners in the camp unexpectedly gushes from the ground inside the stockade near the recently washed away portion of the west wall. This water will most likely save hundreds of lives and is believed by many of the prisoners to be an act of Divine Providence; thus the name given by the inmates– “Providence Spring.”

August 13– Saturday– Hurricane Creek, Mississippi; Palatka, Florida; near Fort Barrancas, Florida; along the north bank of the James River, east of Richmond, Virginia; Berryville, Virginia; near Strasburg, Virginia– Serious fighting, hard-hitting raids and bloody skirmishes.

August 13– Saturday– Port-au-Prince, Haiti– “The Haitian Senate has presented to President Geffrard a full statement of the condition of the Republic, showing a vast improvement in the moral and physical condition of its people, and containing, among other significant passages, the following: ‘It is evident that the happy results of the agricultural measures of 1863, the constantly increasing culture of cotton, and the activity of commercial affairs during the same year, prove that remunerative labor is increasing in our country, and that this state of things is the consequence of your (President Geffrard’s) administration. We learn with equal satisfaction that the financial situation is prosperous, and that the foreign debt is met with regularity. The Senate observes with satisfaction that the number of crimes has notably diminished, which proves, evidently, an amelioration of the manners of the people.’” ~ Dispatch from a journalist to the New York Times.

August 13– Saturday– Mexico City, Mexico– Reports from here say that Emperor Maximilian has arranged that in the event of his death the Empress Charlotte is to rule in his place.

Empress Charlotte of Mexico

Empress Charlotte of Mexico

August 13– Saturday– London, England–The first fish and chips shop opens.

August 14– Sunday– Johnson’s Island, Sandusky, Ohio– “Ira recently wrote me from West’s Building Hospital, Baltimore. His wound was doing well. Sanders was buried on the field at Monocacy Junction, his grave being carefully marked. I have not yet succeeded in tracing Egbert. Friends here and at Baltimore have written to the various prisons and hospitals of prisoners of war in the East and we will soon find him. The fact of his having sent me no letter or message should not be considered conclusive that he was wounded. He had no money, no stationery, no stamps, and may have met no person writing to friends at this place. It would be a crushing calamity should harm befall you in the army. I pray God may shield my father! I endeavor to look at our calamities in an unmurmuring spirit.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Henry Mc Daniel, in a Federal prison camp, to his father in Georgia.

Johnson's Island prison camp

Johnson’s Island prison camp

August 14– Monday– Anapolis, Maryland– As part of a limited prisoner exchange, 500 Union soldiers, mostly wounded and many of them officers, arrive from the South.

August 14– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– “The Secretary of War and I concur that you had better confer with General Lee, and stipulate for a mutual discontinuance of house-burning and other destruction of private property. The time and manner of conference and particulars of stipulation we leave, on our part, to your convenience and judgment.” ~ Telegram from President Lincoln to Union General Grant.

General Robert E Lee

General Robert E Lee

August 14– Sunday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “We are getting Paid off to day. I draw . . . one hundred 20 dollars 10 cents. I’ll [send by] express 1 hundred 10 dollars and maybe fifteen dollars. I don’t want to keep so much money here. I send it to you and if you want to make use of it . . . you may get the Children what ever they want that is in the eating line . . . but you must be A little saving. I don’t know when we will be paid off again. I must stop now and go and get my money. It is a big pile but you shall have it all but five or six dollars and when that is all [spent] I’ll write for some more so I must go.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Jacob Middows to his mother Elizabeth.

August 14– Sunday– Cobb County, Georgia– “Another Sabbath has come, how rapidly time is passing away & now how it rejoices my often depressed spirits to know that if we all live & I get permission, after 9 more Sabbaths shall have been numbered with the past, I will be in the enjoyment of the society of my family & friends, God grant that I may then find them all alive & well and if we can only then be in the enjoyment of the Blessings of Peace in our afflicted country. The day is very pleasant, but still I have to remain at Home. This morning my young friend Evans again called & spent an hour with me. At 10 o’clock the Chaplain Mr. Griffith had services, his congregation did not exceed 150 attending– his services were short not even an hour– his sermon a good one on the necessity of the Reformation of our natural lives & dependence for the atonement of Christ for Salvation. I was surprised to see the small number attending the services, the most of the men on the outskirts– how little do men think of their duties to God and of the condition of their souls on the final day of accountability. Death & the great exposure to death, tend it seems to render men more thoughtless.” ~ Diary of William King.

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