Your Opinion About Our Present Situation ~ February 1865~ 13th and 14th

Your Opinion about Our Present Situation

Federal cavalry moving through South Carolina swamp

Federal cavalry moving through South Carolina swamp

Many southerners worry and wonder about the future yet cling to hope for independence. Those separated by the war miss each other and hope for a time of being together. Debate about the use of slaves in the army continues. Mere months after the event Sherman’s march to the sea is becoming the stuff of legend in the North and increasing bitterness in the South. While keeping his eyes and ears upon the progress of the war, President Lincoln considers international relations and the care of the increasing number of war orphans.

awaiting the letter carrier

awaiting the letter carrier

February 13– Monday– Staunton, Virginia– “I have no directions to give about our matters. You have been managing so long & so well that it is not necessary for me to direct at least whilst absent– do the best you can & as you may desire. I hope it will not be long until we will be together. I am sorely tired of this life & hope soon for a change. Can’t you pay me a visit? so soon as the weather gets warmer try it. Many ladies are paying visits to their friends here & why can’t you? it would be worth about a Million to me for to see you land here some evening by stage [coach]. If you can’t come all the way can’t you come part way & I will meet you. Try & let me hear from you on this subject. . . . The people seem to be fired up with new zeal & determination in their cause & seem willing to exhaust all means now. Some public meeting proclaim & pledge their property, their honor & their lives for the maintenance & defense of their liberties. Doubtless the spring campaign will be [a] desperate & bloody one– the people seem to be all fired with determination to conquer or die.” ~ Letter from John Quincy Nadenbousch to his wife Hester.

February 13– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “I transmit to Congress a copy of a despatch of the 12th ultimo addressed to the Secretary of State by the Minister Resident of the United States at Stockholm, relating to an International Exhibition to be held at Bergen, in Norway, during the coming summer. The expediency of any legislation upon the subject is submitted for your consideration.” and “I transmit to Congress a copy of a note of the 2nd instant addressed to the Secretary of State by the Commander J. C. de Figaniere e Morai, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of His Most Faithful Majesty the King of Portugal, calling attention to a proposed International Exhibition at the City of Oporto, to be opened in August next, and inviting contributions thereto of the products of American manufactures and industry. The expediency of any legislation upon the subject is submitted for your consideration.” ~ Messages from President Lincoln to Congress regarding upcoming exhibitions in Europe.

abraham_lincoln-03a

February 13– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– “Coldest morning of the winter. My exposure to the cold wind yesterday, when returning from the department, caused an attack of indigestion, and I have suffered much this morning from disordered stomach and bowels. From Northern papers we learn that General Grant’s demonstration last week was a very formidable effort to reach the South Side Railroad, and was, as yet, a decided failure. . . . There will be more fighting yet before Richmond is abandoned, probably such a carnival of blood as will make the world start in horror.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

February 13– Monday– northeastern Georgia– “From all I can learn, there is a bad chance to get through to my Command and if I get through I will have to walk over a hundred miles. It is useless for me to try to carry all them socks and I have left then here with Gus, who will send them out to you and you can distribute them. Cheer up and may God bless you and my darling boy.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda as struggles to return to Petersburg, Virginia after being home on leave.

Washington, Georgia, historic home

Washington, Georgia, historic home

February 13– Monday– Albany, Georgia– “Letters from home. Our house is full of company, as it always is, only more so. All the Morgans are there, and Mary Day, and the Gairdners from Augusta, besides a host of what one might call transients, if father was keeping a hotel – friends, acquaintances, and strangers whom the tide of war has stranded in little Washington [Georgia]. Mrs. Gairdner’s husband was an officer in the English army at Waterloo, and a schoolmate of Lord Byron, and her sons are brave Confederates – which is better than anything else. Mary Day had typhoid fever in Augusta. She is too weak to make the journey from Mayfield to Macon, and all non-combatants have been ordered to leave Augusta, so mother invited her to Haywood. Oh, that dear old home! I know it is sweeter than ever now, with all those delightful people gathered there. One good thing the war has done among many evils; it has brought us into contact with so many pleasant people we should never have known otherwise. I know it must be charming to have all those nice army officers around, and I do want to go back, but it is so nice here, too, that we have decided to stay a little longer. Father says that this is the best place for us now that Kilpatrick’s [Federal cavalry] raiders are out of the way. I wish I could be in both places at once. They write us that little Washington has gotten to be the great thoroughfare of the Confederacy now, since Sherman has cut the South Carolina R.R. and the only line of communication between Virginia and this part of the country, from which the army draws its supplies, is through there and Abbeville. This was the old stage route before there were any railroads, and our first ‘rebel’ president [George Washington] traveled over it in returning from his Southern tour nearly three-quarters of a century ago, when he spent a night with Colonel Alison in Washington [Georgia]. It was a different thing being a rebel in those days and now. I wonder the Yankees don’t remember they were rebels once, themselves.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews. [Washington, Georgia, home town of Ms Andrews, was incorporated in 1780 and named after George Washington. It serves as the county seat of Wilkes County. Its population today is 4,134.]

group of Civil War orphans

group of Civil War orphans

February 14– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln meets with Elizabeth E. Hutter. Mrs Hutter is the wife of Edwin Hutter, a former newspaper owner and editor and, since 1850, pastor of St Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of Philadelphia. Elizabeth has spearheaded efforts to build the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphans’ Institute to provide care for the orphaned children of Union fighters killed during the war. The building is about to open and she meets with the President to discuss the establishment of a network of similar orphanages in other states.

Elizabeth Hutter

Elizabeth Hutter

February 14– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “As if it were not enough humiliation that Sherman had made a triumphful procession through the State of Georgia, the New York Times expresses its contemptuous opinion of the people thereof for permitting him to do it. That paper says that the most remarkable and significant revelation made by Sherman’s march through Georgia was not, perhaps, the internal weakness of the Confederacy; but the entire absence of desperation on the part of that portion of the population which remains at home. ‘If,’ says the Times, ‘the war were felt by them to be a National war, in the sense in which this phrase is ordinarily understood, a war in which everything that men hold dear was at stake, and in which death was preferable to submission, it is impossible to believe that their resistance to Sherman’s progress would have been so feeble. . . . Almost in our own day, both the Russians and Tyrolese have opposed just such obstacles to the progress of French armies of invasion, as the Georgians were asked to oppose to that of Sherman. They either rose en masse in their front, “bushwhacked” them along every mile of the road, from behind every rock and tree and fence, or else converted their line of march into a howling waste, and left them no better fruits of victory than desolated fields and charred ruins. In Georgia, on the contrary, it appears well ascertained that the great majority of the inhabitants staid quietly at home, and awaited the invader’s approach in respectable quiet. So far from destroying their property in order to deprive him of the means of subsistence, they did not even drive off their mules, horses or cattle, though this would have been one of the easiest and most obvious modes of damaging him. In fact, it is hard to see that any Georgian farmers, except those who joined the militia, made the smallest personal sacrifice in aid of the Confederacy, at the most important juncture in its history, and when they were most earnestly and solemnly entreated to make every sacrifice, by the men who are supposed to have, and who ought to have, if the concern were a sound one, their fullest confidence. There is only one interpretation that can be put on this extraordinary apathy, and that is, that confidence in the success of the rebellion no longer exists anywhere outside of the official class and the army, if it exist there. The Governors of States who write the flaming appeals whenever our raiders make their appearance, are, of course, as members of the oligarchy, closely allied in sentiment, as well as in interest, with the Confederate leaders; but it appears, of late, plain that the farmers who have so far escaped the net of the conscription, either have grown tired of the contest or despair of success, and that their great aim now is not to serve the rebellion, but to avoid sharing its fortunes.’ If all that were true,– and we leave it to the fellow-citizens of those heroic Georgia troops who have illustrated so many battle-fields to hurl back the accusation,– Lincoln has stepped in to supply to all the people of this country a motive of ‘desperation’ which cannot fail to arouse the most sluggish and exasperate the most pacific. If they have not believed their own orators, their own newspapers, and their own governors, perhaps they will believe him when he tells them that slavery is abolished, and that they can only be allowed to approach his footstool as suppliants suing for mercy. If, after all this, they fall behind Russians, Tyrolese, and every other invaded nation of ancient and modern times, and look passively on the progress through their country of a conquering army, we shall concede that the Times knows them better than we do, and that provincial vassalage to a Yankee despotism would be no degradation.” ~ Richmond Dispatch.

Atlanta, Georgia, in flames

Atlanta, Georgia, in flames

February 14– Tuesday– Petersburg, Virginia– “What is your opinion about our present situation? It appears gloomy enough, but I hope and think we will yet be independent. Our only hope is to fight until we conquer a peace. There is none in negotiations, state conventions or interventions. It is on the fortitude, courage and patriotism of our soldiers we must depend, and as we have few of them in comparison to the enemy, we should foster and protect them as much as possible. This is only to be done by putting men of heart and feeling in command, like Johnston who can feel for the suffering of the private soldiery and appreciate the life of a man. I regard the Negro as the prime cause of our separation from the old Union, and it is humiliating to have to surrender one of our greatest institutions, both for the prosperity of our country and protection and civilization of the black race, to popular opinion of other nations. Yet, I think this will have to be done, sooner or later, and I believe Congress is of the same opinion. If so, why not make the Negro useful to us in achieving our independence? We can put 100,000 in service and discipline them so they will do good fighting.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to his father.

February 14– Tuesday– northeastern Georgia– “My heart is heavy. I think of you and Henry all the time, and often want to get off to myself and take a big cry, to relieve the burden from my heart. Poor little Henry, he followed me up to his Grandma’s that morning and I told him good-by again, and he halloed ‘goodby Pa’ after I had got in the buggy and started. It nearly broke my heart. May God protect him and you is my humble prayer. From what I can gather I think I can flank Augusta by going by Washington [Georgia] and walking 60 miles across South Carolina. I earnestly hope that we may yet meet again and spend many happy days together.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

valentines-day

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