Safely & Steadily Through the Most Desperate Perils~ October 1864~the 1st & 2nd

Safely and Steadily Through the Most Desperate Perils~ John Bright.

A British MP praises Lincoln’s leadership. Readers of Godey’s Lady’s Book, the magazine with the largest circulation in the country at the time, receive an update on the plans for Vassar College. Mexican troops prove more loyal to the Union than Texans. A Confederate spy and agent dies in the service of the Confederacy. A Confederate officer and a Federal officer provide interesting views of affair in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Walt Whitman’s brother George has been captured by the rebels.


October– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– “We have before us the Circular of the Trustees [of Vassar College], issued at the Third Annual Meeting, January 26, 1864. It begins by stating that, owing to the present derangement in business affairs, and the magnitude of the object, it has been found best to postpone the opening of this College until the autumn of 1865. The Trustees remark: ‘The erection of a college edifice of such vast dimensions– five hundred feet in length and one hundred and seventy in depth, four stories high– embracing five independent dwelling-houses for resident officers, besides accommodations for the board, lodging, and study of three hundred young ladies, and their teachers, with full suites of class, lecture, music, and drawing-rooms, chapel and refectory, and suitable apartments for library, art-gallery, philosophical apparatus, chemical laboratory, cabinets of natural history, and all the other appurtenances of a College, the whole pervaded by a perfect system of arrangements for heating by steam, lighting by gas, and supplying with water on the most liberal scale and by the most recent and approved methods; this, of itself, and under the most favorable circumstances, was an immense task, requiring not energy and vigor alone, but extreme vigilance and caution, and a liberal allowance of time, to insure thoroughness in the work, and to avoid needless and wasteful expenditure.’ We think all who seriously consider the subject will feel that the delay was indispensable, and, as the Report suggests, may be made of much advantage to those young ladies who are hoping to enjoy the privileges of this noble institution. . . . We seriously advise every young lady who intends to become a candidate for Vassar College to prepare herself as thoroughly as possible. The Christian Founder has proved himself, in his munificent donations and just views, the true friend of woman. Every feminine heart should bless him, and every young lady who enjoys the opportunities of improvement Vassar College will bestow should endeavor to do him honor.” ~ Godey’s Lady’s Book. [Matthew Vassar, 1792– 1868, is a wealthy brewer and merchant who, at the request of a niece, donated 200 acres of land and $408,000 to build a college for women. His monetary gift would equal $6,240,000 today, using the Consumer Price Index.]

Matthew Vassar

Matthew Vassar

October 1– Saturday– New York City– “Grant and Sheridan seem doing well, thank God. May they continue to proper. The rebels have fought the battles of the last ten days without much sign of vigor. Can it be their rank and file are discouraged and demoralized?” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

October 1– Saturday– New York City– “A somewhat remarkable episode of the war took place lately on the Rio Grande. September 6 the Imperialists moved upon Matamoras. They were met at White Ranche by General Cortinas and severely repulsed. The French fell back and Cortinas pursued. Brownsville is just opposite Matamoras in Texas, and was held by a Confederate force under Ford, who sent troops across the river to operate against Cortinas in the rear. Cortinas, disposing of the French army in his front, turned upon the Confederates and drove them to Brownsville: pursuing them across the river, he occupied Brownsville and erected the United States colors.” ~ Harpers Weekly.

October 1– Saturday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “General Milroy was serenaded last evening at the McLure House. The band played the Star Spangled Banner and a spirited march, after which, loud calls were heard for ‘General Milroy’ and ‘Old Grey Eagle.’ Governor Peirpoint then stepped forward and introduced the General. General Milroy said he was nothing but a plain Western Hoosier. He would almost as soon attempt to storm a battery as to make a speech. He had received the credit of acting very promptly but would never, acquire any honor as a talker. . . . General Milroy said he believed that slavery was the cause of this war. The cause of contention ought to be removed, and he was glad that the signs of the times looked to the accomplishment of this great object.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

Union General Milroy

Union General Milroy

October 1– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “The President yesterday made inquiry of me as to the disposition made of Farragut. Informed me that General Canby wanted him to remain at Mobile, and that F. preferred doing so to coming to Wilmington. I told him Farragut was relieved of the latter duty, and he could remain as long as he pleased in the Gulf. This morning the President called at the Navy Department and made further inquiry. Said that . . . Sherman had some movements on hand, and the War Department also, and would like to know if F. could remain. I told him he could. Shortly after he left, two dispatches from Admiral Farragut came on to my table, received by this morning’s mail, in which he expressed decided aversion to taking command at Wilmington. . . . Seward and Stanton both endeavor to avoid Cabinet consultations on questions of their own Departments. It has been so from the beginning on the part of the Secretary of State, who spends more or less of every day with the President and worms from him all the information he possesses and can be induced to impart. A disposition to constantly intermeddle with other Departments, to pry into them and often to control and sometimes counteract them, has manifested itself throughout, often involving himself and others in difficulty.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

October 1– Saturday– near Wilmington, North Carolina– The British blockade runner Condor, with the USS Niphon in hot pursuit, runs aground. On board is the Confederate spy and agent for Confederate interests in Europe, Rose O’Neal Greenhow, age 49, with secret dispatches and $2,000 in gold. Fearing capture, she leaves the Condor in a small boat which capsizes in the storm-tossed surf. Weighed down by the gold concealed on her person, she drowns.

grave of Rose O'Neal Greenhow

grave of Rose O’Neal Greenhow

October 1– Saturday– Memphis, Tennessee– “Gabriel and Ned, black gentlemen, staked $50 aside on a game of ‘seven up. Officer Smith came upon them, like the unwelcome guest, and lodged them in jail. A lawyer undertook their defense, and mustered for the occasion all the eloquence and rhetoric of which he was master. In the course of his argument he held that gambling was only a slight offense, and too trifling to demand punishment. He considered it so trifling, in fact, and so innocent, he occasionally indulged in it himself, and had tried his luck only the night before. At this the Court smiled, the City Attorney laughed. The eloquent counsel had make a good hit, and, in appreciation thereof, the accused were released on paying the trifling fine of $10 each and cost. It was quietly suggested to our reporter that the legal gentleman was considerably more than ‘half primed’ [intoxicated].” ~ Memphis Bulletin.

October 1– Saturday– Athens, Alabama; Huntsville, Alabama; Carter’s Creek Station, Tennessee; Union, Missouri; Franklin, Missouri; Lake Springs, Missouri; Laurel Gap, Tennessee; salt Springs, Georgia; Peebles’ Farm, Virginia– Raids, assaults and skirmishes.

October 1– Saturday– Rochdale, England– “All those who have deplored the calamities which the leaders of secession have brought upon your country, who believe that slavery weakens your power and tarnishes your good name throughout the world, and who regard the restoration of your Union as a thing to be desired and prayed for by all good men, so far as I can judge, are heartily longing for the reelection of Mr. Lincoln. Every friend of your Union, probably, in Europe, every speaker and writer who has sought to do justice to your cause since the war began [hope that] Mr. Lincoln may be placed at the head of your executive for another term. . . . To us, looking on from this distance, and unmoved by the passions from which many of your people can hardly be expected to be free – regarding his Presidential path with the calm judgment which belongs rather to history than to the present time, as our outside position enables us, in some degree, to regard it – we see in it an honest endeavor faithfully to do the work of his great office, and, in the doing of it, a brightness of personal honor on which no adversary has yet been able to fix a stain. I believe that the effect of Mr. Lincoln’s reelection in England, and in Europe, and indeed throughout the world, will be this: It will convince all men that the integrity of your great country will be preserved, and it will show that republican institutions, with an instructed and patriotic people, can bear a nation safely and steadily through the most desperate perils. I am one of your friends in England who have never lost faith in your cause. I have spoken to my countrymen on its behalf; and now, in writing this letter to you, I believe I speak the sentiments and the heart’s wish or every man in England, who hopes for the freedom and greatness of your country. Forgive me for this intrusion upon you; but I cannot hold back from telling you what is passing in my mind, and I wish. if possible, to send you a word of encouragement.” ~ Letter from John Bright, member of Parliament, to Horace Greeley. [Bright, 1811– 1889, is a Quaker, fervent abolitionist and serves as a Member of Parliament for over 30 years in the course of his life.]

John Bright, MP

John Bright, MP

October 2– Sunday– Mt Sidney, Virginia– “We are again after the enemy, moved yesterday from Waynesboro to this place & today we are resting. Keeping the Sabbath for once – so I hope good may come of it. We routed the Yankee Cavalry at Waynesboro, quite handsomely & they retreated pell mell through Staunton . . . . I send Mr. Robinson over to take my coat & look after other things – I send you $50, by him. Have Miss Susan make my coat as soon as possible & write me when I can send for it – the one I have is coming to pieces rapidly – have the coat lined throughout, deep and strong pockets . . . . Please send my Jacket to me by Mr. R. he will tell you all the news. . . . Get all your flour home as soon as you can – I fear it is going to be scarce, so much wheat was burned. Ask Mr. Geeding if he cannot spare me a load of his hay – the government will get it all any way & I will pay him the same. . . . The Yanks burned J. C. Roler’s barn & stable – I hope we shall soon be able to turn the tide on them. I would come home today but I have only one horse to ride & it needs rest & we are so busy now & the General depends on me for routes &c in this region so I cannot leave just now, but hope to get home again before long– the Lord hasten the time when I may be able to stay there – I send you a fine Spencer Rifle – a present from Mr. Robinson– just what you have wanted – be careful of it & keep it hid – don’t let it be known that you have it. . . . God bless your dear soul.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Jedediah Hotchkiss to his wife Sara.

October 2– Sunday– Winchester, Virginia– “Today Captain Bowen, Surgeon Smith and myself attended the Episcopal Church, it being the only one in use, the others having been taken for hospitals. The church has a fine organ and a choir. The music was good, and we enjoyed it but the sermon was a little rebellious. The rector was trying to prove that people should receive all afflictions as from the hand of god and stated that no matter how diabolical the agents sent might be, the people should remember that the Lord sent them. (How are you, diabolical Yanks?) He prayed for all Christian rulers. I hope this included Jeff Davis, for he certainly is in need of prayer. . . . Most of the ladies were dressed in black, and it seemed almost like a funeral.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

October 2– Sunday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– Federal efforts to lengthen their lines to the left since September 30th have resulted in 2,889 total casualties, including dead, wounded, and missing. Confederate total casualties amount to 1,239. The Union siege lines have been extended by 3 miles, drawing Confederate defenses yet thinner.

October 2– Sunday– Petersburg, Virginia– “Here I am perfectly well and unhurt, but a prisoner. I was captured day before yesterday with Major Wright, Lieutenants Pooley, Cauldwell, Ackerson, Sims, and nearly the entire Regiment that was not killed or wounded Lieutenant Butler was badly wounded I am in tip top health and Spirits, and am as tough as a mule and shall get along first rate, Mother please don’t worry and all will be right in time if you will not worry I wish Walt, or Jeff would write to Lieutenant Babcock of our Regiment (who is with the Regiment) and tell him to send my things home by express, as I should be very sorry to lose them.” ~ Letter from Union officer George Whitman to his mother Louisa.

George Whitman

George Whitman

October 2– Sunday– Atlanta, Georgia– “We get no mail; no trains have gone north from Chattanooga for some time. We get no information as to the actual state of things and have to be contented as best we may. Last night we had a grand concert in Atlanta. It is said that this week is to be distinguished by a ball.” ~ Letters from Union Officer Fredrick C. Winkler to his wife Frances.

October 2– Sunday– Big Shanty, Georgia; Fairburn, Georgia; Sand Mountain, Georgia; near Powder Springs, Georgia; Saltville, Virginia; Mount Crawford, Virginia; Bridgewater, Virginia; near Columbia, Tennessee; Washington, Missouri; Marianna, Florida– Run-ins, engagements, brouhaha and confrontations.

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