This Insane Measure ~ January 1865 ~ 25th to 27th

This Insane Measure ~ Charleston Mercury

The major Charleston newspaper, which has increasing criticized President Jeff Davis, blasts the idea of arming slaves to serve in the ever decreasing ranks of the Confederate army. A Northern sympathizer in Savannah writes of her relief at Sherman’s capture of the city. A young Southern woman writes of the problems in the Andersonville prison camp and wonders why an immigrant would fight for the Union cause when his home country struggles for freedom. Abolitionists anticipate the success of their cause as the propose 13th Amendment advances. Walt and Jeff Whitman worry about family matters.


January 25– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “A New York paper publishes a private letter from a lady in Savannah, received in that city since the fall of Savannah. It shows who have been delighted at the arrival of the Yankees. The following is an extract: ‘Next door to me is quartered a portion of the Twentieth corps, New York Volunteers. They are so delighted to hear I am from New York that my kitchen is just filled all the time with them. Sarah takes great delight in making coffee for them, and doing for them what we can. I have a picket walking up and down before my door all day and night, to guard me, and they take the best care of me . . . . It is glorious, my dear sister, to be free once more and fell that I will soon be with you all, to stay just as long as I please. This morning I went to St. John’s Church. Mr. McRae preached. He did not read the prayer for the President of the United States, but will next Sunday. All the churches were open to-day, except Christ Church. The Bishop left. I hope it will be open on Sunday, for I shall take great pleasure in seeing a Union man in the pulpit. The Bishop sent off his assistant before he left. What fools some people have been! They will see their folly when too late, I fear. . . . I have so much to tell you all; I am nearly beside myself with joy. Last evening I sent General Sherman a Christmas present. May God bless him, for he has brought more joy to my heart than has been there for many a long day.’” ~ Richmond Times Dispatch.

January 25– Wednesday– Albany, Georgia– “Dined at Judge Vason’s, where there was a large company. He is very hospitable and his house is always full of people. Albert Bacon came in from Gum Pond and called in the afternoon, bringing letters, and the letters brought permission to remain in South-West Georgia as long as we please, the panic about Kilpatrick having died out. I would like to be at home now, if the journey were not such a hard one. Garnett and Mrs. Elzey are both there, and Mary Day is constantly expected. I have not seen Garnett for nearly three years. He has resigned his position on General Gardiner’s staff, and is going to take command of a battalion of ‘galvanized Yankees,’ with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. I don’t like the scheme. I have no faith in Yankees of any sort, especially these miserable turncoats that are ready to sell themselves to either side. There isn’t gold enough in existence to galvanize one of them into a respectable Confederate.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

Eliza Frances Andrews

Eliza Frances Andrews

January 26– Thursday– Brooklyn, New York– “Mother received your letter to-night– we were all very glad to hear that you arrived so nicely and were so well established. The enclosed two letters came to-day. I sent the box to dear brother George yesterday at noon directed just as you left word. I got some hoop iron and strapped the box up strong. I don’t suppose there can be anything wrong in sending it strapped in that way– do you suppose there is? I had in it a ham piece of smoked beef, can of milk (condensed), coffee, can of peaches, crackers, potatoes, salt and the clothes that he sent for. I think I will send him another next week or week after. We were all elated upon seeing the letters published yesterday about the exchange of prisoners. O I so hope they will make an exchange– can you not write something that will keep up the talk about the matter, sometimes little weights when they fall at the right moment turn the scale and accomplish great results Seems as if it would be worth almost a life time to help along such a thing as the general exchange of prisoners. So you have assumed the duties and honors of an officer of the government. Mother was wondering at tea to-night what you would have to do. . . . I suppose you have not yet had time to tell what the business is about but anyhow if it is only a comfortable berth without too much hard work, it will come in good. I hope you will have good health. I would suggest that you should not go it too strong in the Hospital way, for a while. I would draw it mild for a month or so. How does it seem to you to go back? I suppose it looks quite natural. I hope to be able to come and make you a visit soon– probably some time next month. Write to me Walt. I like to hear from you often.” ~ Letter from Jeff Whitman to his brother Walt.

January 26– Thursday– Charleston, South Carolina– “The project now agitated by the Jeff Davis devotees, and others carries away from common sense by their influence and the panic of the present situation to which their weakness has brought our affairs, is virtually the abolition of slavery, in order to put two hundred thousand Negroes in the army. These Negroes are to achieve the independence of white men. We have said the project is that of panic stricken men is desperate, destructive, utterly hopeless. . . . It was the opinion of Mr. [John C] Calhoun [1784– 1850], and is the opinion of the wisest statesmen that South Carolina has produced, that slavery is essential to the existence of a Republican Government. Remove this element of stability and conservatism, and you launch the Government into a mobocracy. We already see to what it has brought the Northern people, in spite of the conservative element of slavery in the South, heretofore acting as a balance wheel to their radical sentiments. And yet the Northern people had the vast and boundless territories of the West, that acted as a huge flood gate to their populace. Yet, in spite of both of these checks, where are they drifting? A few years more, when the territories are stocked by these herding brutes – with the conservative element of slavery removed – and where will they be? Where are they? Rushing straight into every radicalism, and every other ism – driving into revolution, dyed in blood, sinking into despotism – military rule – empire. . . . The project is utterly vain to waste words upon, without this first promise – general emancipation. But will even this insane measure make the matter better? Not one whit; but, on the contrary, much worse. For it is out of our power to keep up with the Yankee bids. What does the Yankee offer him in the ranks? A large belly full every day, a plenty of meat, grog, good clothes, shoes and physical comfort, and, at present, an apparently winning cause. What have we to offer him when we seize him and put him in our ranks? A lank belly, hard work, a plenty of bullets, scant clothing, and a cause so hard pressed as to require his help – a cause so rough that even white men, fighting for their homes, for their wives, and for their independence, fly from the ranks, and leave their standards and their comrades. Could a proposition be more absolutely absurd? The Negro will not fight in the cause, under these circumstances. Not one can be retained in the ranks, and will desert to the enemy. Placed in the line of battle, when pressed by heavy fire he will run, and break the line, and lose the day in consequence. Placed on guard on pickets, he can never be trusted. The counter-siege will be a farce, and he will lead the enemy into the camp. Out of the two hundred thousand muskets put into their hands, one hundred and fifty thousand at least will be presented by him to the enemy. You will only arm the enemy, and fill his ranks, ten for one. The whole project is insane, demoralizing, destructive, hopeless. The wall of panic, and the cry of despair resounds through every though connected with it. Away with the folly!” ~ Charleston Mercury.

Senator John C Calhoun, pro-slavery advocate

Senator John C Calhoun, pro-slavery advocate

January 26– Thursday– Macon, Georgia– “While God has punished us terribly for our wickedness, and for the abuse of the institution [slavery] which He has committed to us, we do not believe that He purposes the destruction of that institution.” ~ The Christian Index.

January 26– Thursday– Collector, New South Wales, Australia– The infamous Bushrangers Ben Hall, Johnny Gilbert and John Dunn hold up Kimberley’s Inn in the town. Dunn shoots and kills the local police officer, Constable Samuel Nelson.

Ben Hall, notorious Australian outlaw

Ben Hall, notorious Australian outlaw

January 27– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “It was expected that thy presence would open this rememberable movement– the first of the kind– in our city. It was with the deepened pain we learned that illness prevented thy comings and a profound sympathy went out from that meeting and many a fervent prayer for they speedy recovery. The substitution of our revered friend George Thompson was warmly appreciated. It was generous in thee, and magnanimous in him. His very soul seemed electrified with the sight of white and colored people mingled together in so much earnest of purpose. It was a splendid oration. His reference to your early and long-continued friendship, and his searching examination into the difficulties that surround our country, were happily and feelingly referred to. The climax of his oration was in bringing the matter to our very threshold. ‘Begin at home!’ he said,’make diligent haste to fit yourselves for universal freedom.’ . . . Mr. Thompson spoke for nearly two hours, and seemed almost overcome. Indeed, upon his arrival at my house, I noticed he was much fatigued, He is very weary with his constant labors. We must take care of him; he needs rest. . . . The colored people arc making laudable efforts, and must succeed in gaining that recognition and equality which are their birth-right and their salvation, and the salvation of our nation.” ~ Letter from Alfred H. Love of Philadelphia to William Lloyd Garrison, reprinted in The Liberator.

George Thompson, British abolitionist

George Thompson, British abolitionist

January 27– Friday– Albany, Georgia– “While going our rounds in the morning, we found a very important person in Peter Louis, a paroled Yankee prisoner, in the employ of Captain Bonham. The captain keeps him out of the stockade, feeds and clothes him, and in return, reaps the benefit of his skill. Peter is a French Yankee, a shoemaker by trade, and makes as beautiful shoes as I ever saw imported from France. My heart quite softened towards him when I saw his handiwork, and little Mrs. Sims was so overcome that she gave him a huge slice of her Confederate fruit cake. I talked French with him, which pleased him greatly, and Mett and I engaged him to make us each a pair of shoes. I will feel like a lady once more, with good shoes on my feet. I expect the poor Yank is glad to get away from Anderson on any terms. Although matters have improved somewhat with the cool weather, the tales that are told of the condition of things there last summer are appalling. Mrs. Brisbane heard all about it from Father Hamilton, a Roman Catholic priest from Macon, who has been working like a good Samaritan in those dens of filth and misery. It is a shame to us Protestants that we have let a Roman Catholic get so far ahead of us in this work of charity and mercy. Mrs. Brisbane says Father Hamilton told her that during the summer the wretched prisoners burrowed in the ground like moles to protect themselves from the sun. It was not safe to give them material to build shanties as they might use it for clubs to overcome the guard. These underground huts, he said, were alive with vermin and stank like charnel houses. Many of the prisoners were stark naked, having not so much as a shirt to their backs. He told a pitiful story of a Pole who had no garment but a shirt, and to make it cover him the better, he put his legs into the sleeves and tied the tail round his neck. The others guyed him so on his appearance, and the poor wretch was so disheartened by suffering, that one day he deliberately stepped over the deadline and stood there till the guard was forced to shoot him. But what I can’t understand is that a Pole, of all people in the world, should come over here and try to take away our liberty when his own country is in the hands of oppressors. One would think that the Poles, of all nations in the world, ought to sympathize with a people fighting for their liberties. Father Hamilton said that at one time the prisoners died at the rate of 150 a day, and he saw some of them die on the ground without a rag to lie on or a garment to cover them. Dysentery was the most fatal disease, and as they lay on the ground in their own excrements, the smell was so horrible that the good father says he was often obliged to rush from their presence to get a breath of pure air. It is dreadful. My heart aches for the poor wretches, Yankees though they are, and I am afraid God will suffer some terrible retribution to fall upon us for letting such things happen. If the Yankees ever should come to South-West Georgia, and go to Anderson and see the graves there, God have mercy on the land! And yet, what can we do? The Yankees themselves are really more to blame than we, for they won’t exchange these prisoners, and our poor, hard-pressed Confederacy has not the means to provide for them, when our own soldiers are starving in the field. Oh, what a horrible thing war is when stripped of all its ‘pomp and circumstance’!” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

Andersonville prison

Andersonville prison

January 27– Friday– Genoa, Italy– Giuseppe Rocca, master violin maker, dies at 56 years of age.

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