This Minute Talking Peace ~ February 1865 ~ 2nd to 3rd

This Minute Talking Peace

Lincoln and Seward meet with Confederate representatives to discuss peace but the effort is in vain. General Lee desperately needs soldiers and supplies but is criticized for suggesting the use of slave soldiers in the Confederate army. Some folk in Massachusetts remain angry about Daniel Webster’s support of the 1850 Compromise. The Whitman family worries about their soldier in a Southern prisoner of war camp. Sherman’s Federal troops are pushing harder and faster into South Carolina. By the close of business on the 3rd six of the necessary 27 states have ratified the Thirteenth Amendment.


February 2– Thursday– Petersburg, Virginia– “I find everything here very quiet indeed, with flags of truce nearly daily. The three self-constituted [peace] commissioners, Stephens, Hunter and Campbell, actually passed through the lines on day before yesterday evening at sundown on their way to the city of all villainies and corruption to have a talk with King Abraham. Whether it will result in good is yet to occur. I trust God may move it so. We shall know in a few days. These men were accompanied to our lines by General Lee, in full uniform.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to his wife.

February 2– Thursday– Charleston, South Carolina– “General Lee has issued an appeal for the surrender of all cavalry arms and equipments now in private hands. He says that a prompt compliance with this call will greatly promote the efficiency of and strengthen the army – particularly the cavalry. A large public meeting last night in the Hall of the Virginia House of Delegates [in Richmond, Virginia] was addressed by the Honorable Thomas S. Flournoy, and by several members of the House from Virginia and Georgia. Great enthusiasm prevailed, and the meeting broke up at a late hour. All the speeches declared in favor of the prosecution of the war until our independence shall be achieved.” ~ Charleston Mercury.

Federal Supply Train

Federal Supply Train

February 2– Thursday– Lawtonville, South Carolina; Barker’s Mill, South Carolina; near Loper’s Cross Roads; River’s Bridge across the Salkehatchie River, South Carolina; Broxton’s Bridge across the Salkehatchie River, South Carolina– Heavy skirmishing occurs as Confederate forces attempt to stop General Sherman’s advancing troops.

February 2– Thursday– Albany, Georgia– “We spent the evening at Major Edwin Bacon’s, rehearsing for tableaux and theatricals, and I never enjoyed an evening more. We had no end of fun, and a splendid supper, with ice cream and sherbet and cake made of real white sugar. I like the programme, too, and my part in it, though I made some of the others mad by my flat refusal to make myself ridiculous by taking the part of the peri [an exotic winged fairy] in a scene from Lalla Rookh [an 1817book of poems by the Irish poet Thomas Moore, 1779– 1852]. Imagine poor little ugly me setting up for a pert! Wouldn’t people laugh! I must have parts with some acting; I can’t run on mylooks. The entertainment is to take place at sister’s, and all the neighborhood and a number of [other] people . . . will be invited. The stage will be erected in the wide back entry, between sister’s room and the dining-room, which will serve for dressing-rooms. After the rehearsal came a display of costumes and a busy devising of dresses, which interested me very much. I do love pretty clothes, and it has been my fate to live in these hard war times, when one can have so little.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

black silk dress, February, 1865

black silk dress, February, 1865

February 2– Thursday– Lansing, Michigan– The state legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 2– Thursday– Hamilton County, Tennessee– “Knowing of your extreme anxiety to hear from home I hasten to respond in Sister’s stead, to two letters received from you a few minutes ago. Before proceeding farther, I will relieve your anxiety by telling you that she is well, and staying at Ms Cannon’s. Mrs. Cannon complained of feeling very lonely and will have Sister to spend a portion of her time with her. Sister has been out there about a month. The children are all well. . . . Johnnie is here with us. He is an excellent child and talks of you a good deal, says frequently when he gets up in the morning, that he dreamed of pa last night. . . . Sister had no difficulty in getting good winter shoes for the children. Sister asked Annie what message she would like to send you, and childlike, her new calico dresses were uppermost. She would like to tell you about her four new calico dresses. Jimmy is extremely proud of his new book.” ~ Letter from Rhoda Inman to her brother-in-law John Carter, a Confederate soldier.

February 3– Hampton Roads, Virginia– On board the River Queen, President Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward meet with Confederate Vice-President Alexander Stephens, former Supreme Court Justice John Archibald Campbell, and Robert M.T. Hunter to discuss ending the war. The Confederacy hoped to obtain a cease-fire, to allow time to try and negotiate for Southern independence. But Lincoln insists on three things: “1) the restoration of the national authority throughout all the States; 2) no receding, by the Executive of the United States on the Slavery question; and 3) no cessation of hostilities short of an end of the war, and the disbanding of all forces hostile to the government.” Lincoln and Stephens had been friends before the war, and discuss old times and acquaintances for a few minutes before the conference begins. It lasts four hours, but neither side will give on any crucial point. Lincoln, who desperately wants to stop the bloodshed, insists that if the South would lay down its arms and return to the Union, the fighting would stop and he would do his best to see that Southern planters would be recompensed for the loss of their slave property. But the Southern representatives see this as submitting to the demands of the North, and insist that a peace be negotiated between the two countries, while Lincoln will not acknowledge the South as a separate country. So while both parties negotiate in good faith, neither can or will compromise on the essential points separating them. Thus, the conference ends with no agreements.

River Queen

River Queen

February 3– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “Any man who yielded to the conspirators of the South when he might hare resisted them, must be regarded as an agent in producing this rebellion. On that ground, Mr. Everett was no small party to his country’s misfortune. He was guilty of public acts which were a reproach to the religion of which he was accounted minister, irreconcilable with his office as representative or administrator of a popular form of government, and damaging to his reputation for humanity and moral consistency. ‘Laudator’ of Webster not less than of Washington, he yet deserves a statue far more than the former, and will outlive him. For the Marshfield farmer sank like the blood-shot orb of day amid the haze of political disappointment and disgrace– remorseful, haply, for having bartered an honorable name and the parity of his country for a mess of pottage which failed him, (since he needs a long spoon who sups with the devil;)while Everett disappears like the sun in mid-heaven, which has transcended the mists of the early morning, and is eclipsed in its consummate splendor.” ~ Letter to the editor from M. du Pays in today’s Liberator.

Henry Clay of Kentucky proposing the Compromise of 1850. Webster's support of the Compromise made some hate him.

Henry Clay of Kentucky proposing the Compromise of 1850. Webster’s support of the Compromise made some hate him.

February 3– Friday– Albany, New York– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 3– Friday– New York City– “Lincoln is at City Point this minute talking peace with A. H. Stevens and his two colleagues, who deserve hanging for treason if ever men deserved it, and Stephens above all, who has sinned against the clearest light. This negotiation will come to no good. It is undignified for Lincoln to make a long expedition for the purpose of arguing with a little delegation of conspirators representing an armed and truculent rebellion.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

Alexander Stephens

Alexander Stephens

February 3– Friday– Brooklyn, New York– “Did you see the Tribune of to-day? It had a long letter from Mr Richardson about the exchange of prisoners. I thought strongly and well written– to-night’s Evening Post extracts quite a long passage from it. How horrible the whole thing is. It does seem as if the Government could hardly dare to turn a deaf ear to the call for an exchange. I wish you could write upon the same subject and keep it before the reading public. . . . What is your idea of this peace business? is there anything in it? It seems to me as if there is. I think if they once get to talking in earnest that it must come without much more fighting. I wish you would write me quite often Walt – somehow since you went away this time I have felt lonely. I suppose its because I dwell so much on the thought that something ought to be done to see if we can’t do something to help George. Oh if we only could it seems to me it would be worth almost a life time.” ~ Letter from Jeff Whitman to his brother Walt.

February 3– Thursday– Annapolis, Maryland– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 3– Friday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia: 1. All persons held to service or labor as slaves in this state, are hereby declared free. 2. There shall hereafter be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in this State, except in punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” ~ Passed by the state legislature. The legislature also ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 3– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “From the deep distress of my mother whose health is getting affected, & of my sister & thinking it worth the trial myself, I write this hastily to ask you to do, or rather if you have an objection to do, as follows: Write a brief letter, not filling more than one page, letter paper, to . . . General Grant. Date it from the office of the Times, which will add to its effect, & recall you to General Grant. It is to request him to give directions, that one of the special [prisoner] exchanges (of which they are now making quite a number) shall be made, in favor of my brother George, and also another officer same regiment. State in short terms that Captain Whitman has been in active military service of U. S. since April, 1861, nearly four years, has borne his part bravely in battles in nearly every part of the war in the United States, east & west, including Vicksburg & Jackson, Mississippi, has an aged widowed mother in deepest distress. Ask General Grant to order a special exchange of Captain George W. Whitman, 51st New York Volunteers & Lieutenant Samuel Pooley, 51st New York Volunteers, both of whom are now, or were lately, in Confederate States Military Prison, in Danville, Virginia (both the above officers have been promoted from the ranks for conduct on the field).” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to John Swinton.

George Whitman

George Whitman

February 3– Friday– Charleston, South Carolina– “General Lee, the advocate, if not the author of this scheme of n***** soldiers and emancipation, is said by those who are acquainted with the families and the family opinions of men in Virginia, to be an hereditary Federalist, and a disbeliever in the institution of slavery. It is with these sentiments then that he comes to us to advise us. What else then could his advice be than what it is? But were we in the Cotton States, after all the long teachings and labors of Calhoun and our other sages, at this time of day, to turn a somersault in all of our political and social views, and to lay down our arms at the feet of Southern Federalism and Abolitionism. To recant all of our opinions, ignore our past actions, and proclaim ourselves to have been all wrong in the past, and our leaders to have been blind guides. One of two things is certain – either John C. Calhoun was as ignorant a charlatan as ever undertook to expound Government, Laws and Institutions; or General Robert E. Lee, noble gentleman and accomplished soldier as he is, is a much better thinker and adviser on military tactics, than he is on matters of government and of institutions. South Carolina and the other Cotton States must either stand today upon the doctrines of Federalism, with its fungus corollaries – such, as those now progressing at Richmond under the advice of Federal leaders, – or else she and they must asset their determination to stand by the political doctrines of their lives, to assert their power, and to uphold the entire integrity of their institutions, upon which rests both their political power, and their material prosperity and industry of everything. The whole question is one – John C. Calhoun vs. Daniel Webster and Robert E. Lee. On what ground will Carolina and the Cotton States stand?” ~ Charleston Mercury.

John C Calhoun, defender of slavery

John C Calhoun, defender of slavery

February 3– Friday– Salkehatchie River, South Carolina– A small Confederate force is able to delay one column of the Union army advancing into South Carolina for most of the day at River’s Bridge. As they had so often in Georgia, Union troops outflank the outnumbered Confederates, forcing them to retreat.

February 3– Friday– Columbia, Missouri– “Excuse me for taking the liberty of answering your letter which we received this evening. Emma is not at home now and will not be for two or three weeks, she has gone back to our old home in Johnson County. She has been gone about a week. She will write when she returns. We heard from Hugh and the boys at Camp Chase [a prison camp in Columbus, Ohio, holding Confederate soldiers] a day or two ago – they were well and in fine spirits Do you know any thing about Jimmie Beard? He is in prison some where but I do not know where. I think they came very near taking all the Virginians that time, but I hope they will be so kind as to release you all before long. . . . If you are needing any thing, money or clothing, let us know and we will try and get them for you and if any of the boys who are with you need any thing we will help them also. When you are released (and I hope our President will be so kind as to do that soon) you must write and let us know. Well I must close [as] the candle gives very poor light.” ~ Letter from Mattie E. Hull to Thomas M. Smiley.

February 3 – Friday– Landing, Michigan– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

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