To Eradicate the Aristocratic Folly ~ January 1865 ~ 20th to 21st

To Eradicate the Aristocratic Folly ~ Gideon Welles

Welles comments on Southern society and the state of the rebellion. Abolitionists are cheered by an increasing stand against slavery. George Templeton Strong sighs about the newly rich. Whitman prepares to return to Washington and worries about his brother George, a prisoner of war. In Tennessee a man sees an opportunity to get even with people he does not like by making accusations to Federal authorities. A Richmond paper praises General Lee. A Charleston paper seeks someone to blame for the fall of Fort Fisher.


January 20– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–”The Anti-Slavery Convention held at Frankfort, Kentucky, on the 4th instant, already reported briefly by telegraph, was a large and enthusiastic gathering of the Union men of the state. Dr. P.S. Bell, chairman of the Union State Committee called the Convention to order . . . . The following resolutions were unanimously adopted: That we hereby request our senators and representatives in Congress to vote in favor of submitting a proposed amendment of the national Constitution, abolishing and prohibiting slavery throughout the domain of the United States; and that we invite the cooperation of the Legislature of Kentucky in carrying forward this request. That in the judgment of this convention, the slave-code of the State should be revised, repealed or modified, so as to be in accordance with the present status of affairs in Kentucky, so far as the State Constitution may permit.” ~ The Liberator.

January 20– Friday– Brooklyn, New York– “I suppose you must have heard from Ashton that I received Mr. Otto’s letter, & that I returned for answer that I would report myself to him on or about Tuesday 24th instant. During the week previous to 16th I was quite sick, but this week I am about as well as usual. I intend to leave here on Monday 23rd – shall take the 8 o’clock morning train, which will probably arrive in Washington about 7 in the evening. William, if you could hear of a room, I wish you would engage it for me . . . . take the first good room you find, if any, irrespective of price– it would do for a week or so, any how would like convenience for a fire, as I am susceptible to chill this winter. We got word yesterday by means of an exchanged prisoner, from my brother George, but only up to November 27– at that time he was at Danville, Virginia, in confinement with 350 other officers. We hear that he is full of fortitude & even good nature, but like all the rest, starved, miserable & naked, to the last degree. We are all well, home here. Last night another snow-storm, but fine & sunshiny this morning. So far this winter, snow, rain, mud, melt, fog, with spells of sharp cold. I have received a letter from Charles Eldridge, from an island off in the sea, far beyond Boston. I suppose you got my letter of some ten days since.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his friend William D. O’Connor.

George Whitman

George Whitman

January 20– Friday– Washington, D.C.– In response to the needs of the army, President Lincoln prohibits the exportation of hay until further notice.

January 20– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “The record of the great ever attracts the attention of mankind. History proves, however, that greatness is too often allied with qualities which cannot fail to excite pity, horror or disgust. Among the great of modern times, upon whom the eyes of Christendom have been turned, there has been none, up to the present day, save Washington, whose record is sustained and whose escutcheon is without blot. It is therefore with a justifiable pride that the people of the South may point to General Lee as an example, so rarely found, of goodness and greatness combined. Among our enemies, wicked as they are, none has been found to breathe a word against the honor, purity and patriotism of Robert E. Lee. Save him, there is no man of prominence in the South whom they have not slandered and belied. His simple word would outweigh in the land of our enemies the sworn attestation of their highest dignitaries. In Europe his word is the synonym of truth; and the respect shown his name in other lands is second only to that entertained for him in his own. The temple of his renown has not sprung up in a night. It took four years to build it. It stands to-day without a rival – its foundation laid in the heart of the people and its superstructure formed of noble and heroic deeds. Too earnest for words, this man, Robert E. Lee, does his work silently – all unconscious that on him are fixed the admiring glances of the world. If he is great in victory, he is sublime in defeat. His calm soul frets not at the decrees of Fate. He does what man can do, and leaves the rest to God. He has no time to talk. Mark Anthony, defeated at Actium, slew himself and died in the arms of a royal harlot. Lee, repulsed at Gettysburg, said, ‘It is my fault,’ and turned to his appointed work. No wonder men love him and can find no one with whom to liken him. Who thinks of calling Lee a Bayard, a Caesar or a Napoleon? When Jackson fell, we lost the Moses of the South; should Lee be taken from us, we should be without – Lee. He is indeed, the main prop of our cause. With him between them and the vandal hordes, men sleep in peace at night and dream of victory. Though the cause should perish, Lee will live. Time can do him no wrong. Should it be the decree of Providence that our people be exterminated and the land made desolate, the name and fame of Robert E. Lee, like the pyramids in the Egyptian desert, will stand a monument of former power and glory, exciting alike the wonder and the admiration of mankind.” ~ Richmond Times Dispatch.

Robert E Lee

Robert E Lee

January 20– Friday– Franklin County, Tennessee– “Names of some disloyal citizens of the Fourth district Franklin County Tennessee. A narration of their crimes and . . . as to what punishment they shall suffer for said crimes. Richard Arnold– A bushwhacker with Hays, he together with two others murdered a Loyal man named Samuel Kennedy in cold blood on October 15, 1864. Horace Allred– Harbors bushwhackers and bushwhacks himself occasionally, is one of the murderers of Kennedy, is a shoemaker and makes shoes for all the bushwhackers in the neighborhood. Bush– Nothing is known of the residence of this man or his name and probable the name ‘Bush’ is only a nickname. He is a bushwhacker. Joel Cunningham– He is the leader of a gang of bushwhackers 75 to 100 strong. Kill. Wesley Davis– Harbors Bushwhackers. Clean Out. . . . Jane Lipscum– A widow, Harbors bushwhackers. Clean Out. Curtis McCullum– Harbors bushwhackers and instigated his son and three others to murder in cold blood a Union man named Samuel Kennedy on October 15, 1864. He has tried his best to persuade every young man of his acquaintance in the neighborhood to join the gang of bushwhackers. His wife is as bad if not worse then he is. Has been doing all the devilment that he could ever since the war began. Hang And Burn. Cynthia McCollum– Wife of the above and also instigated her son to murder Kennedy, the same remarks that apply to her husband apply also to her with double force. She is a very bad and a very dangerous Woman. Shoot If You Can Make it Look like an Accident. Charlotte McCollum– An unmarried sister of the above is almost as bad as her mother. Burn Everything.” ~ A list written by Moses Pitman and given to Union General Milroy with recommendations as to how Federal soldiers should deal with these individuals. [The list continues, containing a total of 58 names.]

sailors reading the news

sailors reading the news

January 20– Friday– Charleston, South Carolina– “Night before last we went quietly to bed satisfied that all was right at Fort Fisher. Our attention, strained to the utmost for days, flagged and we went immediately to sleep. On yesterday morning we woke to find Fort Fisher captured. As we expected, General Whiting fought like a paladin. Both he and Colonel Lamb are seriously wounded and in the hands of the enemy. It is certain that generally, the Fort was fought with chivalric bravery. To this there were exceptions, to which, at some future time we may allude as a matter of justice to others. We cannot say when that time may occur. For the present it is enough for us to know that Fort Fisher has fallen; that a division of infantry in the field were in gun-shot, and did not fire a gun to save it, that we know of, and that heroic men like Whiting, Lamb and others are prisoners; that the last port of the Confederacy is gone, and that it ought to have been saved. We will not trust ourselves to say more. If we said anything, we might, possibly, give vent to our feelings. We do place the responsibility for our failure, but if we once commenced we might give too wide a vent. Our port ought not to have fallen. There is a responsibility – that responsibility will hereafter appear.” ~ Charleston Mercury.

January 21– Saturday– New York City– “The Honorable George P Marsh contributes to the treasury of the Sanitary Commission $500, being proceeds of copyright on his very able work, Man and Nature. Work is unequally paid in this world. This octavo volume of 550 pages, full of thought and research, brings the author $500. Success in developing a batch of petroleum wells give some Snooks or Snobins an income of $25,000 per annum.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

January 21– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “The congratulations and hearty cheer of the people over the victory at Fort Fisher are most gratifying. It is a comfort, too, to see, with scarcely an exception, that there is a rightful appreciation of the true merits of those who engaged in the contest, as well as of those who planned and persistently carried out this work. . . . I am apprehensive, from the statement of Stanton, and of others also, that the Rebels are not yet prepared to return to duty and become good citizens. They have not, it would seem, been humbled enough, but must be reduced to further submission. Their pride, self-conceit, and arrogance must be brought down. They have assumed superiority, and boasted and blustered, until the wretched boasters had brought themselves to believe they really were a superior class, better than the rest of their country-men, or the world. Generally these vain fellows were destitute of any honest and fair claim to higher lineage or family, but are adventurers, or the sons of adventurers, who went South as mechanics or slave-overseers. The old stock have been gentlemanly aristocrats, to some extent, but lack that common-sense energy which derives its strength from toil. The Yankee and Irish upstarts or their immediate descendants have been more violent and extreme than the real Southerners, but working together they have wrought their own destruction. How soon they will possess the sense and judgment to seek and have peace is a problem. Perhaps there must be a more thorough breakdown of the whole framework of society, a greater degradation, and a more effectual wiping out of family and sectional pride in order to eradicate the aristocratic folly which has brought the present calamities upon themselves and the country. If the fall of Savannah and Wilmington will not bring them to conciliatory measures and friendly relations, the capture of Richmond and Charleston will not effect it. They may submit to what they cannot help, but their enmity will remain. A few weeks will enlighten us.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

Gideon Welles

Gideon Welles

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