No Advisor So Able, Bold, Sagacious~September 1864~23rd and 24th

No Adviser So Able, Bold, Sagacious~ Gideon Welles.

In a shakeup of his Cabinet, President Lincoln asks for and graciously receives the resignation of Postmaster General Montgomery Blair. Blair, age 51, is against slavery yet is seen by Radical Republicans such as Thaddeus Stevens and Charles Sumner as too moderate in his views. Blair’s dismissal appears to be made to appease the radicals. A Southern woman looks for a biblical justification of slavery. Sherman’s continued presence in Georgia worries many. News of deaths comes frequently.

Lincoln and his Cabinet

Lincoln and his Cabinet

September 23– Friday– near New Market, Virginia– “I have only time to write you a few words– We had a battle yesterday at Fisher’s Hill, which resulted quite disastrously from the fact that our men broke & ran & we lost some 15 pieces of artillery & a good many small arms & some prisoners – but we brought off all our wagons & nearly all of our troops and are now making a stand here, the enemy’s coming slowly after us – I hope we may not have to fall back any further, but should not be surprised if we came up to Harrisonburg or even to Staunton, but movements are on foot to aid us & I think all will soon be well. Our troops behaved badly – & got into a panic – Colonel Pendleton was mortally wounded, just at dark & we had to leave him in Woodstock. I am truly sorry for his young wife – he was one of the best officers in the army & it will be difficult to fill his place . William got scared in the stampede & I have not seen him yet, but hear that he went up the road badly ‘demoralized.’ Thanks to a Kind Providence I escaped – my horse was hit by the fragments of a shell & one piece struck my hand but did no damage. If William comes home I want him to come back. I do not want Mr. Geedings to sell my horse for less than $15 or $1600. Love to all– write soon Don’t get the ‘blues’– all will yet be well. Don’t know of any one you know hurt.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Jedediah Hotchkiss to his wife Sara.

September 23– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “You have generously said to me, more than once, that whenever your resignation could be a relief to me, it was at my disposal. The time has come. You very well know that this proceeds from no dissatisfaction of mine with you personally or officially. Your uniform kindness has been unsurpassed by that of any other friend, and while it is true that the war does not so greatly add to the difficulties of your department as to those of some others, it is yet much to say, as I most truly can, that in the three years and a half during which you have administered the General Post-Office, I remember no single complaint against you in connection therewith.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln to Postmaster General Montgomery Blair.

Montgomery Blair

Montgomery Blair

September 23–Friday– Washington, D.C.– “Mr. Bates and myself came out of the Executive Mansion together and were holding a moment’s conversation, when Blair joined us, remarking as he did so, ‘I suppose you are both aware that my head is decapitated, that I am no longer a member of the Cabinet.’ It was necessary he should repeat before I could comprehend what I heard. I inquired what it meant, and how long he had had the subject submitted or suggested to him. He said never until to-day; that he came in this morning from Silver Spring and found this letter from the President for him. He took the letter from his pocket and read the contents– couched in friendly terms– reminding him that he had frequently stated he was ready to leave the Cabinet when the President thought it best, etc., etc., and informing him the time had arrived. . . . I asked Blair what led to this step, for there must be a reason for it. He said he had no doubt he was a peace-offering to Fremont and his friends. They wanted an offering, and he was the victim whose sacrifice would propitiate them. . . . In parting with Blair the President parts with a true friend, and he leaves no adviser so able, bold, sagacious. Honest, truthful, and sincere, he has been wise, discriminating, and correct. Governor Dennison, who is to succeed him, is, I think, a good man, and I know of no better one to have selected.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

September 23– Friday– Cleveland, Tennessee– “This night our dear &only brother left this world of sorrow to dwell in realms of eternal bliss. Gently & softly the sad news came of General Morgan’s death, tempered from a thunderbolt to a mournful regret that our southern Marion had fallen. Killed in Mrs Williams’ garden at Greeneville, Tennessee.”~ Diary of Myra Adelaide Inman.

September 23– Friday– Augusta, Georgia–”The doctrine of self government I suppose of course to be right and yet our Southern people do not appear to have learned the art, even if they had the right granted them. Where is there more power exercised than is displayed in the manner in which our Generals are ‘relieved’? But as to the doctrine of slavery altho I have read very few abolition books (Uncle Tom’s Cabin making most impression) nor have I read many pro slavery books, yet the idea has gradually become more and more fixed in my mind that the institution of slavery is not right, but I am reading a new book, Nellie Norton, by the Rev. E. W. Warren which I hope will convince me that it is right. Owning a large number of slaves as we do I might be asked why I do not free them? This if I could, I would not do, but if Mr. Thomas would sell them to a man who would look after their temporal and spiritual interest I would gladly do so. Those house servants we have if Mr. Thomas would agree to it I would pay regular wages but this is a subject upon which I do not like to think and taking my stand upon the moral view of the subject, I can but think that to hold men and women in perpetual bondage is wrong. During my comparatively short life, spent wholly under Southern skies, I have known of and heard too much of its demoralizing influence to consider the institution a blessing.” ~ Journal of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas. [The book to which she refers is Nellie Norton: or, Southern Slavery and the Bible; A Scriptural Refutation of the Principal Arguments upon which the Abolitionists Rely; A Vindication of Southern Slavery from the Old and New Testaments by Reverend Ebenezer W Warren. He developed the book out of a sermon he preached early in 1861 as the war began and published the work in 1864, so it is “hot off the press” as Mrs Thomas reads it. He pastored the First Baptist Church in Macon, Georgia, from 1860 to 1871 and again from 1879 to 1891.]

slaves praying with their feet

slaves praying with their feet

September 23– Friday– Front Royal, Virginia; Woodstock, Virginia; Mount Jackson, Virginia; Athens, Alabama; Rocheport, Missouri– Raids, hard skirmishing and firefights.

September 24– Saturday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “We learn from a reliable source that Dr. William Park a citizen of Jackson county, residing near Ravenswood, was killed on Wednesday last by Captain Kennedy’s Home Guards, under the following circumstances: Some of Kennedy’s men pressed one of Dr. Park’s horses for the purpose of going on a scout. The doctor asked the privilege of going to town with the men to see if he could not get his horse released. Shortly after leaving the house on the way to town, one of the soldiers shot the Doctor in the head killing him almost instantly. Parks voted for the [Virginia] ordinance of secession but had never been charged with any other act of disloyalty. The act is universally denounced as an unprovoked and unjustifiable outrage and if the circumstances have been correctly reported to us the perpetrators should at once be brought to justice.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer. [West Virginia had been part of Virginia but many residents opposed secession, thus leading to the split from Virginia.]

September 24– Saturday– near New Market, Virginia– “I am sorry to tell you that your Brother John is no more. He was killed in the battle at Winchester, shot in the head I think, though I am not certain for I did not see him, though I was told by some one who professed to know, he lived but a very short time after he was struck. I would of written to you immediately but I did not have time, I wrote home, and told my wife to tell Mary to write to you about and let you know the worst, I have but little good news to tell you, we had another hard fight on the 19th were victorious until about three o’clock, the Yanks flanked us and we had to fall back which raised a perfect stampede.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Charles Baylor to his friend Charles W. McGuffin.

third battle of Winchester

third battle of Winchester

September 24– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “Sheridan follows up his work, and bids fair to disperse and annihilate Early’s entire army. The effect of his successive victories has been a great fall in the price of gold, or an appreciation of paper currency. We are, I think, approaching the latter days of the Rebellion. The discomfiture of Early is likely to make Lee’s continuance in Richmond uncomfortable, yet where can he go to make a more effectual stand? Some indications of a desire on the part of the authorities of Georgia to effect a restoration, are more than intimated, and a prevalent feeling of despondency is manifest throughout the Rebel region. An effective blow by Grant at Richmond or the retreat of the Rebel army will be the falling in of the crater.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

September 24– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln issues an Executive Order detailing the purchase and resale of products “of States declared in insurrection.”

September 24– Saturday– Cleveland, Ohio–The brig Sultan leaves the harbor in the afternoon, sailing east on Lake Erie. In the evening, about five miles away, it strikes a sandbar and sinks. One man survives. Seven others die. The vessel and cargo are a total loss.

September 24– Saturday– Petersburg, Virginia– “Sherman still occupies Atlanta and I’m afraid he will soon pay his respects to other portions of our beloved state. I’m afraid his visit will be rather longer than you expected. He is daily running six or eight raids loaded with commissary and smaller stores, into the city preparatory, I’ve no doubt, to sending the greater portion of his army elsewhere. I don’t generally make prophecies; but I’m going to make one now. I predict that in less time than six months, General Hood’s army will be feasting on the Yankee rations now in Atlanta. All Sherman’s boasting will be but to his shame. He will surely meet with his just deserts for the manner in which he treated the people of that afflicted city. I received a letter from Sister yesterday, saying they were still living in dread of Yankee raiders. I do hope her fears may prove groundless; but I’m afraid twill be a forlorn hope. I think it is Sherman’s intention to inflict as great injury upon the people of Georgia as he possible can. O how I do pity those who as so unfortunate as to be in their line of march. May you and others, dear to me, escape that dreadful calamity. Our cause now looks gloomy. Our armies are suffering defeats, and every thing looks anything but peaceful. Our enemies are putting forth every energy to crush and annihilate the rebels. Although this dark cloud of oppression is hanging over our beloved land, threatening to spend its fury upon us, still I believe it has a ‘silver lining’ and will soon pass away, revealing to us a happy and prosperous country. There is an old saying that ‘the darkest hour is just before day,’ doesn’t it seem as if it were nearly day?” ~Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee Maggie Cone.

Union soldiers in Atlanta

Union soldiers in Atlanta

September 24– Saturday– Petersburg, Virginia– “I have returned to the Sharpshooters. I came back day before yesterday evening. I have not regained my strength fully yet, but I got heartily tired of the hospital and had much rather be here than there. I am doing no duty here yet. The boys say they want me to get entirely well before I set in for good. The Doctor gave me a pint of cherry bark bitters when I left which does me much good. Well I suppose the booming of cannon is in hearing of you. It is getting too close to be healthy. It makes me feel bad to think of it, but I hope it will come no nearer. Of course I can tell nothing about Sherman’s intentions only by guess, but it is my opinion that he will do but little more there for the present.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

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