A Gain to The Loyal Cause~August 1864~28th & 29th

A Gain to the Loyal Cause ~ Frederick Douglass.

Following up his meeting with Lincoln, Frederick Douglass provides a detailed proposal to draw more slaves from the South and into the Union cause. Welles speaks his mind about Secretary of State Seward. Many southerners express concern about Federal troops vandalizing or stealing property. Sherman’s soldiers find special delight in destroying railroads. The Democrats convene their national meeting to select a candidate to oppose Lincoln. Like many wealthy northern men George Templeton Strong hires a substitute rather than be drafted himself, a legal but rich man’s option under the law. The family of a wounded soldier write to Whitman.

General Sherman meeting with his officers

General Sherman meeting with his officers

August 28– Sunday– Petersburg, Virginia– “I am truly glad you’ve so far been spared the presence of the Yankee raiders; but from the recent dispatches of the press association, I’m every day afraid those uncivilized warriors will make their appearance near your home. It is doubtless their intention to free the prisoners confined at Andersonville. I hope such may never be. Should, however, such happen, I pity the fate of South Western Georgia. T’would be equivalent to turning loose so many inmates of the Asylum and Penitentiary. Neither citizens nor private property would be respected. Everything in their path would be taken or destroyed. Such has been the course pursued by them in Virginia, why should Georgia be an exception? I have known them to take jewelry from the persons of young ladies. Their object is to impoverish the citizens and enrich themselves. I do sincerely hope the day of retribution is not too far distant. Sometimes I think all raiders ought to be put to death as soon as captured; but so soon as I see them, I pity and can but treat them as prisoners of war should be.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his finance Maggie Cone.

August 28– Sunday– Cobb County– “Sabbath again, a most delightful day, bright, clear & cool, everything quiet and calm, scarcely a thing moving about, not even on the [Rail] Roads. We have this morning traced the stolen pot, it was carried over to a Hospital at Mr. Baker’s place to wash with, they promising to return it today we left it with them, in use. The mosquitoes were very bad last night, as bad as I have ever known them in Savannah, even keeping me awake. I have written to my wife today to be sent via New York.” ~ Diary of William King.


August 28– Sunday– outside of Atlanta, Georgia– “Quite early yesterday morning, squads of rebels appeared near our picket line, and patrols I sent out soon discovered a considerable force. About noon today they drove in a portion of our pickets, and at the same time opened upon our lines with two pieces of artillery. It was a reconnaissance, and when they found us posted here with infantry and artillery, they withdrew. We have a very nice place here now– a shady grove– and it would not be bad if we were to stay for a time. Our corps is in detachments at different points on the river, guarding our communications, while the rest of the army has gone on a big raid I suppose. General Locum has come and taken command of our corps. He was here yesterday, just as the fight commenced, and stayed until it was over. In personal appearance and manner, he is very prepossessing.” ~ Letter from Union officer Fredrick C. Winkler to his wife Frances.

August 29– Monday– Glens Falls, New York– “As we have received your letter you sent to Bethuel I will write a few lines in this and send it to you . . . he was wounded the 11 of June in his right leg a little above his knee– he rode in a government wagon 4 Days then on about one Day and night then he came to Washington– he got a furlough the first Day of July for forty Days at which period he returned to Washington to the hospital– he was very thin in flesh but looked some better when he left home his health was not very good and if the [hospital] saves his life we expect him home again next month.” ~ Letter from Christopher and Maria Smith, the parents of Bethuel Smith, a soldier in the Union cavalry, to Walt Whitman.

August 29– Monday– New York City– “I purveyed myself a substitute, a big ‘Dutch’ boy of twenty or thereabouts, for the moderate consideration of $1100. Thus do we approach the almshouse at an accelerating rate of speed. My alter ego could make a good soldier if he tried.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong. [As many wealthy Northern men, Strong hires a substitute in order to avoid the draft himself, an action permissible under Federal law at this time. The $1100 would equal $16,800 in today’s dollars, using the Consumer Price Index.]

George Templeton Strong

George Templeton Strong

August 29– Monday– Rochester, New York– “That every slave who escapes from the Rebel states is a loss to the Rebellion and a gain to the Loyal Cause, I need not stop to argue the proposition is self evident. . . . I will therefore briefly submit at once to your Excellency the ways and means by which many such persons may be wrested from the enemy and brought within our lines: 1st Let a general agent be appointed by your Excellency charged with the duty of giving effect to your idea as indicated above: Let him have the means and power to employ twenty or twenty five good men, having the cause at heart, to act as his agents: 2d Let these Agents which shall be selected by him, have permission to visit such points at the front as are most accessible to large bodies of slaves in the Rebel States: Let each of the said agents have power to appoint one subagent or more in the locality where he may be required to operate: the said sub agent shall be thoroughly acquainted with the country and well instructed as to the representations he is to make to the slaves but his chief duty will be to conduct such squads of slaves as he may be able to collect, safely within the Loyal lines: Let the sub agents for this service be paid a sum not exceeding two dollars per day while upon active duty. 3dly In order that these agents shall not be arrested or impeded in their work, let them be properly ordered to report to the General Commanding the several Departments they may visit, and receive from them permission to pursue their vocation unmolested. 4th Let provision be made that the slaves or Freed men thus brought within our lines shall receive subsistence until such of them as are fit shall enter the service of the Country or be otherwise employed and provided for: 5thly Let each agent appointed by the General agent be required to keep a strict acct of all his transactions, of all monies received and paid out, of the numbers and the names of slaves brought into our lines under his auspices, of the plantations visited, and of everything properly connected with the prosecution of his work, and let him be required to make full reports of his proceedings at least, once a fortnight to the General Agent. 6th Also, Let the General Agent be required to keep a strict account of all his transactions with his agents and report to your Excellency or to an officer designated by you to receive such reports. 7th Let the General Agent be paid a salary sufficient to enable him to employ a competent Clerk, and let him be stationed at Washington or at some other Point where he can most readily receive communications from and send communications to his Agents: The General Agent should also have a kind of roving Commission within our lines, so that he may have a more direct and effective oversight of the whole work and thus ensure activity and faithfulness on the part of his agents– This is but an imperfect outline of the plan but I think it enough to give your Excellency an Idea of how the desirable work shall be executed.” ~ following up on the meeting of the 19th Frederick Douglass submits to President Lincoln a plan to aid slaves escape from the South.

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

August 29– Monday– Johnson’s Island, Sandusky, Ohio– “Colonel Cooper Nisbet, 66th Georgia, captured on the 22nd before Atlanta, is here and a member of my private mess. He gave me much personal intelligence. Indeed, with what I have heard from him, and from a recent letter from General Anderson’s Head Quarters, I am better informed about affairs and persons than at any time since my capture. I have undergone keen anxiety about my brothers. Ira lies in hospital at Baltimore and, from a letter showed me this morning by Colonel Phillips of Georgia from a lady who has been kind to him, I fear his recovery is doubtful. I have heard of Egbert, but not from him. He is supposed to be at [the prisoner of war camp at] Elmira, New York. All that remains of poor Sanders has been kindly cared for at Frederick City, Maryland.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Henry McDaniel to his sweetheart Hester C. Felker in Georgia. [He will survive the war and marry Hester on December 20, 1865.]

August 29– Monday– Chicago, Illinois– The Democratic National Convention opens with a speech by Mr August Belmont. Belmont, a wealthy businessman and Democratic politician, age 50, declares, “Four years of misrule, by a sectional, fanatical and corrupt party, have brought our country to the very verge of ruin. The past and present are sufficient warnings of the disastrous consequences which would befall us if Mr Lincoln’s re-election should be made possible by our want of patriotism and unity.”

site of the 1864 Democratic convention

site of the 1864 Democratic convention

August 29– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “We have word through Rebel channels that the Union forces have possession of Fort Morgan. This will give us entire control of the Bay of Mobile. . . . The Rebel leaders understand [Secretary of State William] Seward very well. He is fond of intrigue, of mystery, of sly, cunning management, and is easily led off on a wild chase by subtle fellows who can without difficulty excite his curiosity and flatter his vanity. Detectives, secret agents, fortune-tellers are his delight.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

August 29– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– “Saturday night, about one o’clock, the torch of the incendiary was applied to the stable of Mr. John M. Daniel, on Council Chamber Hill. The flames being undiscovered until they had gained considerable headway, the building and also two adjoining stables were destroyed. The horses in each were gotten out in safety by a party who were returning from the Theatre.” ~ Richmond Sentinel.

August 29– Monday– Cobb County, Georgia– “Cool, clear pleasant day again. I walked out to the Powder Spring Road to learn what was going on in the big World. I saw an old Woman who had just moved into the Johnson Brick House (without doors or Window shutters) with her sick Husband & 8 children, she had come from Campbell County, to see if they could get some work to make a living, she thought they might be able to get washing & sewing enough to supply them with provisions to sustain life, the Husband she says was very sickly, & could do nothing to help. I will go & see him during the day or tomorrow. The poor are gathering thick in and about town. May God provide for them during the coming winter, trust in man is poor. Our Hogs are all gone I am afraid, nothing has been seen of any of them, for several days past, nothing eatable is safe out of doors, and our 2 last chickens have been missing for 2 days. A soldier remarked that often when their officers send them out on foraging expeditions for the Horses, they say do not take any thing more than you can bring off, by which the soldiers understand they are allowed to take everything they find, and can get, if they can only bring it off.” ~ Diary of William King.

August 29– Monday– along the western perimeter of Atlanta, Georgia– Carrying out General Sherman’s orders, Federal troops spend most of the day tearing up 12 miles of track of the Western & West Point Railroad. The wooden railroad ties along with fence-rails are burned in large bonfires. The metal rails are heated in the these fires until they can bend. Soldiers then wrap them around trees or telegraph poles to cool and harden into useless forms. [As this becomes a common practice for the remainder of the Georgia campaign, the soldiers nickname the bent rails “Sherman’s neckties.”]

making Sherman's neckties

making Sherman’s neckties

August 29– Monday– Red Oak Station, Georgia; near Sandtown, Georgia; Smithfield Crossing, Virginia; Charles Town, West Virginia; Greeneville, Tennessee; Ghent, Kentucky; Milton, Florida; near Port Hudson, Louisiana– Hard skirmishes, bloody firefights, raids and surprise attacks.

August 29– Monday– London, England– William Huggins, age 40, becomes the first astronomer to take the spectrum of a planetary nebula when he analyzes NGC 6543. [Huggins dies May 12, 1910.]

Sir William Huggins 1906

Sir William Huggins 1906


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