A Shock to the Framework of Southern Society ~ January 1865 ~ 30th & 31st

A Shock to the Framework of Southern Society ~ Gideon Welles

slave auction

slave auction

After weeks of contentious debate, the House of Representatives passes the resolution for the Thirteenth Amendment to the U S Constitution, an amendment abolishing slavery which had passed the Senate some time ago, in April of 1864. This creates a dramatic change in a society where race-based slavery has existed since 1619. West Virginia takes steps to rehabilitate rebels . . . or else. Tennessee, Georgia and Kentucky continue to reel from fighting, both military and political. South Carolina prepares as best it can for the Yankee invaders.


January 30– Tuesday– Covington, Georgia– “As the moon has changed, Julia [the slave cook] has gone to making soap again. She is a strong believer in the moon, and never undertakes to boil her soap on the wane of the moon. ‘It won’t thicken, mistress – see if it does!’ She says, too, we must commence gardening this moon. I have felt a strong desire today that my captured boys might come back. Oh, how thankful I should feel to see them once more safe at home!” ~ Diary of Dolly Sumner Lunt Burge.

January 30– Tuesday– Franklin County, Tennessee– “I reside about six miles below Winchester in Franklin County Tennessee. I am married. My husband’s name is Luke Kelly. On or about sundown of the 20 of January1865 two men named Reagan and Sam Nance rode up to the house dismounted and entered the house by the back door said they wanted to see Kelly to induce him to go see Mr. Gillespie to induce him to intercede for them to see if they could get out of bushwhacking. I told them Kelly my husband would not be at home that night. They said they were going to stay at my house. I answered they could not that my husband was not at home. They said they would stay. After Kelly came home they requested him to intercede for them in order that they might return to their home. They then laid down by the fire and remained in that position until the Federal soldiers arrived a little before day. They surrounded the house and told me to make a light. They then come in the house and asked if any Bushwhackers were in the house. I told them there is and they inquired where. I said the next room. The Lieutenant asked me if I had taken the Oath [of allegiance to the United States government]. I stated I had not. The men who were in the house made some show of resistance but were overpowered by the soldiers. After doing this Federal soldiers asked if I could fix breakfast for them. I said I thought I could if they would help me. They assisted me in fixing the fire and such and that is all the conversation I recall at present as passing between myself and the soldiers mentioned. As soon as they took breakfast they left with their prisoners. They brought my husband and myself along with them. They asked me after I stated that Kelly was not at home for the Bushwhackers being there. That is all I remember of the conversation.” ~ Sworn testimony of Matilda Jane Kelly.

George Whitman, Walt's soldier brother

George Whitman, Walt’s soldier brother

January 31– Tuesday– Brooklyn, New York– “I received your letter to day glad to hear that you was getting along so nicely and feeling so well. I hope you will write me often I feel very sad and downhearted to-night. I have just been reading about the prisoners as detailed before the committee on the conduct of the war– isn’t it perfectly awful? . . . Poor mother reads about the treatment of prisoners and will set with her head in her hand for an hour afterward– she seems to feel it much more for the last few days than she did . . . . Mother is quite well but downhearted. Mattie and the children are very well and the young ones grow like everything. Last night Morris Roberts– a friend of George’s and Andrew’s– died of spotted fever– you of course remember him– he was superintendent of the poor– he caught it somehow connected with his business. I understand that there is a great deal of it in the city some 9 cases in Johnson street near [the] Navy [Yard]. No news to tell– write me– all send love.” ~ Letter from Jeff Whitman to his brother Walt.

January 31– Tuesday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “A bill is now before the House of Delegates which provided that any person who shall have heretofore borne arms or who shall hereafter bear arms against the government of the United States, or of this State, shall be required within thirty days after the passage of this act to take and subscribe an oath that they will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of West Virginia, to be filed in the office of the recorder of the county where such person resides. Any person failing to comply with the requirements of the law shall be liable to fine or imprisonment, or both, at the discretion of the Circuit Court of the county where such person resides. The bill also provides that from and after thirty days from the passage of the act no contract or obligation entered into with any such person as is embraced in the law, shall be binding or obligatory upon any one, either in law or equity; and it shall be a sufficient bar to any action, either in law or enforce the same has either borne arms, or held or accepted office, as named in the first section of this act. Any person liable to the penalties imposed by the act, who shall refuse within six months from its passage to take the oath prescribed shall be compelled to leave the State.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

January 31– Tuesday–Washington, D. C.– “I transmit herewith a communication from the Secretary of War, covering papers bearing on the arrest and imprisonment of Colonel Richard T. Jacobs, lieutenant-governor of the State of Kentucky, and Colonel Frank Wolford, one of the Presidential electors of that State, requested by resolution of the Senate dated December 20, 1864.” ~ Message from President Lincoln to the Senate. [Jacobs and Wolford had supported General McClellan in the presidential election, for which the governor of Kentucky, Thomas Bramlette, had them arrested. Lincoln secures their release.]

Thomas Bramlette, Governor of Kentucky

Thomas Bramlette, Governor of Kentucky

January 31– Tuesday–Washington, D. C.– The House of Representatives finally passes the resolution for the Thirteenth Amendment. “1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

excitement in the House of Representatives after the adoption of the proposed 13th Amendment

excitement in the House of Representatives after the adoption of the proposed 13th Amendment

January 31– Tuesday–Washington, D. C.– “I made a short stay at Cabinet to-day. The President was about to admit a delegation from New York to an interview which I did not care to attend. The vote was taken to-day in the House on the Constitutional Amendment abolishing slavery, which was carried 119 to 56. It is a step towards the reestablishment of the Union in its integrity, yet it will be a shock to the framework of Southern society. But that has already been sadly shattered by their own inconsiderate and calamitous course. When, however, the cause, or assignable cause for the Rebellion is utterly extinguished, the States can and will resume their original position, acting each for itself. How soon the people in those States will arrive at right conclusions on this subject cannot now be determined.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

January 31– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Accounts of refugees from Savannah, heretofore published in this paper, concur in stating that General Sherman has publicly declared that he may not be able to restrain his troops when he invades South Carolina, and he does not know that he shall attempt to. Every-one knows what the rank and file of invading armies are most composed of. They are, in general, the refuse of society, the scum of the nations, outcasts, outlaws and Pariahs of the earth. Even the few of them who before were respectable citizens, become demoralized by their removal from the social and moral influences of home and the evil associations and temptations of their new mode of life. That the Yankee armies are no exception to this rule, is manifest from the hideous crimes and hard track of desolation which, even when professedly restrained by their commanders, have signalized their march through the South. What human imagination can compass the horrors which the removal of all restraint from such armies means? It means the burning of every house, the dishonor of every woman, the indiscriminate murder of old and young from one end of South Carolina to the other. That is what it means; nothing more, nothing less. General Sherman need not say that he cannot restrain his troops. If he cannot, he is unfit for his position. Any general, who chooses, has at his disposal ample means of enforcing discipline and good behavior. When Sherman intimates his doubts whether he shall attempt to restrain his soldiers, he gives us the only reason why he cannot. It remains to be seen whether our own military authorities will be able, or be inclined, to restrain the vengeance with which such dispositions should be resisted and punished.” ~ Richmond Times Dispatch.

Federal cavalry

Federal cavalry

January 31– Tuesday– somewhere in southeastern South Carolina– “We are well-situated in our present camp. But the Yanks are advancing, and it will not be long until this will all be over. And the campaign will open and then South Carolina will be overrun by the foul invader. We have a great many reports through camps, and one is that there is a Union flag flying from the courthouse at Hamilton, which reports I do not believe. But one I know that there was great many secessh about there, and if they have changed as much as the secessh of this state, they are willing to do anything to save their state. They were first for war, and they think it right to be first for peace. But I tell them they know nothing about war as yet, and they must wait until the yanks get full possession of the state and then they can be to realize what war is and not till then. I am very anxious to have peace, if we can have it in the proper way. And if not, my voice is still for war, but it seems to me that we have had war long enough to have peace on good terms.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to his wife.

January 31– Tuesday– Albany, Georgia– “Sister and I spent the morning making calls. At the tithing agent’s office, where she stopped to see about her taxes, we saw a battalion of Wheeler’s cavalry, which is to be encamped in our neighborhood for several weeks. Their business is to gather up and take care of broken-down horses, so as to fit them for use again in baggage trains and the like. At the postoffice a letter was given me, which I opened and read, thinking it was for me. It began ‘Dear Ideal’and was signed ‘Yours forever.’ I thought at first that Captain Hobbs or Albert Bacon was playing a joke on me, but on making inquiry at the office, I learned that there is a cracker girl [a poor white] named Fanny Andrews living down somewhere near Gum Pond, for whom, no doubt, the letter was intended; so I remailed it to her. As we were sitting in the parlor after supper, there was another lumbering noise of heavy feet on the front steps, but it was caused by a very different sort of visitor from the one we had Sunday night. A poor, cadaverous fellow came limping into the room, and said he was a wounded soldier, looking for work as an overseer. He gave his name as Etheridge, and I suspect, from his manner, that he is some poor fellow who has seen better days. Sister engaged him on the spot, for one month, as an experiment, though she is afraid he will not be equal to the work.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

cartoon depicting Georgia "crackers"

cartoon depicting Georgia “crackers”

January 31– Tuesday– Paris, France– Birth of Henri Desgrange, sports journalist, bicycle racer and founder of the Tour-de-France. [Dies August 16, 1940.]

Henri Desgrange

Henri Desgrange

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