Tag Archives: constitution

The Great Charter~June 15, 1215

The Great Charter

King John I signs the Great Charter

King John I signs the Great Charter

On this date in 1215 England’s King John I made peace with contentious nobles by signing the Magna Carta or Great Charter. John was the fifth and youngest son of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He had none of the political skill of his father and certainly none of the intelligence of his brilliant mother. He ascended the throne of the death of his older brother, King Richard, the Lion-Hearted. As I used to tell my students, King John was in every way as nasty a piece of work as portrayed in the Robin Hood legends and then some.

Circa 1150, Eleanor of Aquitaine (c.1122 - 1204), the wife of King Louis VII of France and later of Henry II of England. One of her sons by Henry was Richard the Lionheart. Original Artwork: Taken from the carving on her tomb at Fontevrault. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Circa 1150, Eleanor of Aquitaine (c.1122 – 1204)

King John declared the Magna Carta invalid in September of 1216, barely a month before his own death and fighting with the nobles– both Norman and Saxon– continued. When John died his young son, Henry, needed the support of the nobility to keep the throne, and so Henry’s guardian issued an edited version of the Magna Carta. The adult King Henry III re-issued a final version of the Magna Carta in 1225, though it did not officially become law until 1295.While most of the rights in the Magna Carta, like the protections against unreasonable taxes and fees, had already been established by the Charter of Liberties, and others had been established by previous monarchs (John’s father, Henry II, had established a fairly decent system of trial by jury), the Magna Carta included one significant provision that had never been put into law before– the Council of Barons. This turned the Magna Carta from a list of intentions and promises, like the Charter of Liberties, into a document that could actually be enforced on the king. The Magna Carta meant that the king’s power was no longer completely absolute; however, the monarch continued to exercise great power until additional changes took place in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, giving shape to the English monarchy as we know it today.

monument at Runnymede

monument at Runnymede

What did the Great Charter actually say and do?

The Magna Carta prevented the king from levying taxes without his nobles’ permission, except in a few special situations, and from demanding goods or services without payment from his free subjects. It also limited the power of the barons to levy taxes on their own feudal subjects, and protected debtors from having their land seized to pay their debts, except as a last resort.

The Magna Carta protected the widows and heirs of nobles from having to pay unreasonable fees to receive their inheritances, and ensured that they would receive enough money to live on even if their husbands or fathers died in debt, as well as making the royal officials who managed the estates of underage heirs accountable for how the estates were run. It also limited the power of the king to force the widows and children of barons to marry, a power King John had abused for his own profit.

The Magna Carta set up permanent courts for different kinds of cases, and forced royal officials who accused someone of a crime to produce witnesses to prove their case. It protected free men from fines that would ruin them or that were out of proportion to their crime, and protected nobles from being fined except by the rest of the nobility. On the other hand, the Magna Carta also established that priests could be fined under the same rules as lay people. It established protection for free men from being arrested or punished in any way unless the punishment has been agreed by a jury of their equals or decreed by law.

One of the most important steps the Magna Carta took was the establishment of a council of twenty-five barons to enforce the rights it granted. The Council of Barons had the right to challenge the king if he or any of his officials violated any of the provisions of the Magna Carta, and if the king refused to make reparations, the council could force him to comply by seizing his royal property. The council was not elected by the people. When members died or left, the remaining members chose noblemen to replace them but by setting up a group of subjects with the power to hold the king to account, and to punish him if he failed to abide by the law, the Magna Carta paved the way for the later creation of Parliament, beginning around 1295.

tomb of King John I

tomb of King John I

We must remember that the Great Charter was created by nobles and a king not interested in civil rights but only in reaching a bargain to avoid civil war. Its purpose was to protect the nobility from the King. It did nothing for the peasant. It offered nothing for the Jews, the Scots or the Irish, or any foreigners living in or conducting business in England.

Yet it had long-reaching effects in establishing constitutional government in Great Britain and in the United States.

Advertisements

Murder Most Foul ~ April 14 and 15, 1865

Murder Most Foul!

assassination2

As I have studied over the course of almost three decades the roots and causes of the Civil War, the people and events of that fratricidal conflict, and the people and events of the decades after the war, I am more and more convinced that the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln was the most evil and heinous crime in American history. By killing the President, John Wilkes Booth did grievous harm to the United States as a whole and the South in particular. Had Lincoln lived to complete his second term he would have led the country on a far better path, as outlined in his passionate Second Inaugural, than Andrew Johnson did. His absence hurt the reconciliation between North and South and left open the door to many wrongs against African Americans. In my mind Booth is far and away the worst criminal in American history. If Dante’s Inferno exists, Booth would be one of history’s greatest traitors being chewed eternally in the mouth of Satan. Herein follows a description from an eye witness to the tragedy.

Gideon Welles

Gideon Welles

From the diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy:

“‘I had,’ the President remarked, ‘this strange dream again last night, and we shall, judging from the past, have great news very soon. I think it must be from Sherman. My thoughts are in that direction, as are most of yours.”

I write this conversation three days after it occurred, in consequence of what took place Friday night, and but for which the mention of this dream would probably have never been noted. Great events did, indeed, follow, for within a few hours the good and gentle, as well as truly great, man who narrated his dream closed forever his earthly career.

I had retired to bed about half past-ten on the evening of the 14th of April, and was just getting asleep when Mrs. Welles, my wife, said some one was at our door. Sitting up in bed, I heard a voice twice call to John, my son, whose sleeping-room was on the second floor directly over the front entrance. I arose at once and raised a window, when my messenger, James Smith, called to me that Mr. Lincoln, the President, had been shot, and said Secretary Seward and his son, Assistant Secretary Frederick Seward, were assassinated. James was much alarmed and excited. I told him his story was very incoherent and improbable, that he was associating men who were not together and liable to attack at the same time. ‘Where,’I inquired, ‘was the President when shot?’ James said he was at Ford’s Theatre on 10th Street. ‘Well,’ said I, ‘Secretary Seward is an invalid in bed in his house yonder on 15th Street.’ James said he had been there, stopped in at the house to make inquiry before alarming me.

Lincoln's rocking chair in which he sat at the theater

Lincoln’s rocking chair in which he sat at the theater

I immediately dressed myself, and, against the earnest remonstrance and appeals of my wife, went directly to Mr. Seward’s, whose residence was on the east side of the square, mine being on the north. James accompanied me. As we were crossing 15th Street, I saw four or five men in earnest consultation, standing under the lamp on the corner by St. John’s Church. Before I had got half across the street, the lamp was suddenly extinguished and the knot of persons rapidly dispersed. For a moment and but a moment I was disconcerted to find myself in darkness, but, recollecting that it was late and about time for the moon to rise, I proceeded on, not having lost five steps, merely making a pause without stopping. Hurrying forward into 15th Street, I found it pretty full of people, especially so near the residence of Secretary Seward, where there were many soldiers as well as citizens already gathered. Entering the house, I found the lower hall and office full of persons, and among them most of the foreign legations, all anxiously inquiring what truth there was in the horrible rumors afloat. I replied that my object was to ascertain the facts. Proceeding through the hall to the stairs, I found one, and I think two, of the servants there holding the crowd in check. The servants were frightened and appeared relieved to see me. I hastily asked what truth there was in the story that an assassin or assassins had entered the house and assaulted the Secretary. They said it was true, and that Mr. Frederick was also badly injured. They wished me to go up, but no others. At the head of the first stairs I met the elder Mrs. Seward, who was scarcely able to speak but desired me to proceed up to Mr. Seward’s room. I met Mrs. Frederick Seward on the third story, who, although in extreme distress, was, under the circumstances, exceedingly composed. I asked for the Secretary’s room, which she pointed out, the southwest room. As I entered, I met Miss Fanny Seward, with whom I exchanged a single word, and proceeded to the foot of the bed. Dr. Verdi and, I think, two others were there. The bed was saturated with blood. The Secretary was lying on his back, the upper part of his head covered by a cloth, which extended down over his eyes. His mouth was open, the lower jaw dropping down. I exchanged a few whispered words with Dr. Verdi. Secretary Stanton, who came after but almost simultaneously with me, made inquiries in a louder tone till admonished by a word from one of the physicians. We almost immediately withdrew and went into the adjoining front room, where lay Frederick Seward. His eyes were open but he did not move them, nor a limb, nor did he speak. Doctor White, who was in attendance, told me he was unconscious and more dangerously injured than his father.

Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War

Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War

As we descended the stairs, I asked Stanton what he had heard in regard to the President that was reliable. He said the President was shot at Ford’s Theatre, that he had seen a man who was present and witnessed the occurrence. I said I would go immediately to the White House. Stanton told me the President was not there but was at the theatre. ‘Then,’ said I, ‘let us go immediately there.’He said that was his intention, and asked me, if I had not a carriage, to go with him. In the lower hall we met General Meigs,  whom he requested to take charge of the house, and to clear out all who did not belong there. General Meigs begged Stanton not to go down to 10th Street; others also remonstrated against our going. Stanton, I thought, hesitated. Hurrying forward, I remarked that I should go immediately, and I thought it his duty also. He said he should certainly go, but the remonstrants increased and gathered round him. I said we were wasting time, and, pressing through the crowd, entered the carriage and urged Stanton, who was detained by others after he had placed his foot on the step. I was impatient. Stanton, as soon as he had seated himself, turned round, rose partly, and said the carriage was not his. I said that was no objection. He invited Meigs to go with us, and Judge Cartter of the Supreme Court mounted with the driver. At this moment Major Eckert rode up on horseback beside the carriage and protested vehemently against Stanton’s going to 10th Street; said he had just come from there, that there were thousands of people of all sorts there, and he considered it very unsafe for the Secretary of War to expose himself. I replied that I knew not where he would be more safe, and that the duty of both of us was to attend the President immediately. Stanton concurred. Meigs called to some soldiers to go with us, and there was one on each side of the carriage. The streets were full of people. Not only the sidewalk but the carriage-way was to some extent occupied, all or nearly all hurrying towards 10th Street. When we entered that street we found it pretty closely packed.

The President had been carried across the street from the theatre, to the house of a Mr. Peterson. We entered by ascending a flight of steps above the basement and passing through a long hall to the rear, where the President lay extended on a bed, breathing heavily. Several surgeons were present, at least six, I should think more. Among them I was glad to observe Dr. Hall, who, however, soon left. I inquired of Dr. Hall, as I entered, the true condition of the President. He replied the President was dead to all intents, although he might live three hours or perhaps longer.

Lincoln on his death bed

Lincoln on his death bed

The giant sufferer lay extended diagonally across the bed, which was not long enough for him. He had been stripped of his clothes. His large arms, which were occasionally exposed, were of a size which one would scarce have expected from his spare appearance. His slow, full respiration lifted the clothes with each breath that he took. His features were calm and striking. I had never seen them appear to better advantage than for the first hour, perhaps, that I was there. After that, his right eye began to swell and that part of his face became discolored.

Senator Sumner was there, I think, when I entered. If not he came in soon after, as did Speaker Colfax, Mr. Secretary McCulloch, and the other members of the Cabinet, with the exception of Mr. Seward. A double guard was stationed at the door and on the sidewalk, to repress the crowd, which was of course highly excited and anxious. The room was small and overcrowded. The surgeons and members of the Cabinet were as many as should have been in the room, but there were many more, and the hall and other rooms in the front or main house were full. One of these rooms was occupied by Mrs. Lincoln and her attendants, with Miss Harris. Mrs. Dixon and Mrs. Kinney came to her about twelve o’clock. About once an hour Mrs. Lincoln would repair to the bedside of her dying husband and with lamentation and tears remain until overcome by emotion.

[April 15.] A door which opened upon a porch or gallery, and also the windows, were kept open for fresh air. The night was dark, cloudy, and damp, and about six it began to rain. I remained in the room until then without sitting or leaving it, when, there being a vacant chair which some one left at the foot of the bed, I occupied it for nearly two hours, listening to the heavy groans, and witnessing the wasting life of the good and great man who was expiring before me.

About 6 a.m. I experienced a feeling of faintness and for the first time after entering the room, a little past eleven, I left it and the house, and took a short walk in the open air. It was a dark and gloomy morning, and rain set in before I returned to the house, some fifteen minutes [later]. Large groups of people were gathered every few rods, all anxious and solicitous. Some one or more from each group stepped forward as I passed, to inquire into the condition of the President, and to ask if there was no hope. Intense grief was on every countenance when I replied that the President could survive but a short time. The colored people especially – and there were at this time more of them, perhaps, than of whites – were overwhelmed with grief.

Ford's Theater draped in black the next day

Ford’s Theater draped in black the next day

Returning to the house, I seated myself in the back parlor, where the Attorney-General and others had been engaged in taking evidence concerning the assassination. Stanton, and Speed, and Usher were there, the latter asleep on the bed. There were three or four others also in the room. While I did not feel inclined to sleep, as many did, I was somewhat indisposed. I had been so for several days. The excitement and bad atmosphere from the crowded rooms oppressed me physically.

A little before seven, I went into the room where the dying President was rapidly drawing near the closing moments. His wife soon after made her last visit to him. The death-struggle had begun. Robert, his son, stood with several others at the head of the bed. He bore himself well, but on two occasions gave way to overpowering grief and sobbed aloud, turning his head and leaning on the shoulder of Senator Sumner. The respiration of the President became suspended at intervals, and at last entirely ceased at twenty-two minutes past seven.

A prayer followed from Dr. Gurley; and the Cabinet, with the exception of Mr. Seward and Mr. McCulloch, immediately thereafter assembled in the back parlor, from which all other persons were excluded, and there signed a letter which was prepared by Attorney-General Speed to the Vice-President, informing him of the event, and that the government devolved upon him.”

President Andrew Johnson

President Andrew Johnson

Prayer for Our Poor Country ~ March 1865 ~ 9th to 10th

Prayer for Our Poor Country

slave market

slave market

Southerners keep a day of prayer and fasting for the sake of the Confederacy. Georgia seems less and less cooperative with the Confederacy. It seems that desertion has become a major problem for General Lee’s forces. Items from a slave market are displayed in Boston. [The abolitionist and Quaker poet Whittier refers to them as “symbols of the Anti Christ.”]

chains used on slaves

chains used on slaves

March 9– Thursday– Montpelier, Vermont – The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

March 9– Thursday– Amesbury, Massachusetts– “I rejoice heartily to hear of thy arrival in Boston with the relics of the Great Barbarism– the auction-block of the human flesh-market of South Carolina, worn with weary feet and steeped in tears!– the lock of the accursed prison-house!– the letters over its gates of despair! It is as if Dante had torn the dreadful inscription, ‘Hope enters not here!’ from the doors of Hell, and borne it away with him to the upper world. It was well done on thy part. Let these infernal hieroglyphics and symbols of the worship of the Anti Christ be carefully preserved. Lay them side by side with the racks of the Inquisition and the keys of the Bastille. Let them tell the generations to come of that most hideous form of human depravity which, priding Itself on Its evangelical purity, and with the name of Christ on its lips, bought and sold the image of God, and subjected body and soul to the base uses of lust and avarice. Let them be a wonder and a warning to all time. I fear I may not be able to be at the meeting for presentation to morrow. But I know that such men as Governor Andrew and William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips will say the fitting word for Massachusetts and for Freedom on the occasion. Absent I shall rejoice with you, and thank God that I have lived to see the opening of the prison-doors.” ~ Letter from John Greenleaf Whittier to Charles Carleton Coffin. [Coffin, 1823– 1896, Massachusetts-born, has served as a war correspondent since the start of the war. He obtained the referenced items from the slave market in Charleston, South Carolina, after it fell to Federal troops, and brought them to Boston. Whittier is 57 years old at this time, continuing to deal with some health problems.]

Charles Carleton Coffin

Charles Carleton Coffin

March 9– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Rained all night; clearing away this morning. Warm. Nothing positive from Sherman, Grant, or Sheridan. . . . Yesterday the Senate passed the Negro troops bill . . . . The enemy did capture or destroy the tobacco sent to Fredericksburg bythe speculators to exchange for bacon– and 31 [railroad] cars were burned. No one regrets this, so far as the speculators are concerned. Letters from North Carolina state that the country is swarming with deserters . . . . It is stated that there are 800 in Randolph County, committing depredations on the rich farmers, etc.; and that the quartermaster and commissary stores at Greensborough [North Carolina] are threatened.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

bull whip used on slaves

bull whip used on slaves

March 9– Thursday– Macon, Georgia– “Let the Conscript Act be repealed, as you have wisely resolved it should be, let us return to the principles upon which we entered the contest, and let the whole country, with the spirit of freedom, which animated them in 1861, rally around our glorious leaders, Lee, Johnston, and Beauregard, who should be untrammeled by Presidential interference in the management of military campaigns, and we shall again triumph in battle, and roll back the dark cloud of despondency, which has so long darkened our horizon, and blighted our hopes. Georgia has done her whole duty, from the commencement of the struggle. She has furnished more than her quota of troops, clothed them when naked in Confederate service, and provided subsistence for their families at home. Official reports show, that she has lost more men, and paid more tax, than any State in the Confederacy. However much she may be misrepresented, and the motives of those who have conducted her counsels, and administered her Government, may be maligned, by artful and designing politicians, both she, and her public servants, may proudly point to the sacrifices made, and the results achieved, as the highest evidence of loyalty to the cause. I now appeal, doubtless, with your concurrence, to Georgians, at home and in the field, while they demand the correction of abuses, and maintain in sunshine and in shade, the old land marks of State Sovereignty and republican liberty, against foes without and within, never to permit her proud banner to trail in the dust, nor the cause to suffer, on account of their failure to strike, with heroic valor, in the thickest of the fight, till freedom is won and Constitutional liberty firmly established.” ~ Message from Georgia governor Joseph E Brown to the state legislature.

spring outfit 1865

spring outfit 1865

March 9– Thursday– Gopher Hill, Georgia– “Mrs. Warren gave a dinner party to which all the people from Gopher Hill and a good many from Albany were invited, but very few attended on account of the weather. It poured down rain all day, and in the afternoon there was a furious storm; but Mrs. Maxwell is always in for a frolic, so we left home at eleven, between showers, and got to the Warrens’ just before the storm burst. General Graves, Mr. Baldwin, Joe Godfrey, Albert Bacon, and Jim Chiles were the only ones there besides Mrs. Maxwell and her guests. There is a fine lake in front of Mr. Warren’s house, but the weather gave us no opportunity for rowing. We dined at six, and it was so dark when we rose from the table that we had to start for home at once. Mrs. Warren insisted on our staying all night, but there was company invited to spend the evening at Gopher Hill, so off we went in the rain. We took a new road to avoid some bad mud holes in the old one, and as a matter of course, lost our way in the numerous blind roads that cross each other in every direction through the pine woods, and which are all just alike except that they lead to different places – or to no place at all. The night was very dark and it rained furiously, though the wind had lulled. The glare of the lightning was blinding and terrific peals of thunder rang through the woods. Every few yards there were trees blown across the road, and the Negro Mr. Warren had sent to guide us would have to grope about in the dark, hunting for some way around them. At last he confessed that he had lost his way, and then I fell back in a corner of the phaeton and began to say my prayers. As there was nothing else to do, we concluded to follow the blind path we were in, hoping it would lead somewhere. It did lead us with a vengeance, through ponds and bogs and dismal swamps where the frogs filled our ears with unearthly noises. But all things have an end, even piney woods byroads, and at last we came out upon a broad smooth highway, which the guide recognized as the one he was looking for. Our troubles were now over, and in a short time we were back at Gopher Hill. Though it was very late, we began to dance and enjoy ourselves in a fashion, but everybody seemed to be more or less out of humor, for before we went to bed, I was made the confidante of four lovers’ quarrels.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

March 10– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “At the late special meeting of the Massachusetts Historical Society commemorative of Edward Everett, the Rev. R.S. Waterston read the following interesting communication from Mr. Whittier, who, only a few weeks previous, had been associated as colleague with Mr. Everett in the Electoral College of this State. Mr. Waterston introduced the letter with the words of Dr. Channing, who said of Mr. Whittier more than a quarter of a century ago, ‘His poetry bursts from the soul with the fire and energy of an ancient prophet, and his noble simplicity of character is the delight of all who know him.’ . . . ‘When I last met him, as my colleague in the Electoral College of Massachusetts, his look of health and vigor seemed to promise us many years of his wisdom and usefulness. On greeting him I felt impelled to express my admiration and grateful appreciation of his patriotic labors, and I shall never forget how readily and gracefully he turned attention from himself to the great cause in which we had a common interest, and expressed his thankfulness that he had still a country to serve. To keep green the memory of such a man is at once a privilege and a duty. That stainless life of seventy years is a priceless legacy. His hands were pure. The shadow of suspicion never fell on him. If he erred in his opinions (and that he did so, he had the Christian grace and courage to own), no selfish interest weighed in the scale of his judgment against truth.’” ~ The Liberator.

Edward Everett

Edward Everett

March 10– Friday– New York City– “The rebel hosts continue to be seriously drained by desertion. Not less than fifty deserters have taken refuge within Grant’s lines every day for many weeks past, and their average number is probably nearer one hundred than fifty. . . . All tell the same story of compulsory service, hardships, failure of pay and of clothing and of rations, and of general despondency.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

March 10– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “Raining and cold. This is the day appointed by the government for prayer, fasting, etc.; and the departments, shops, etc. are closed. The people, notwithstanding the bad weather, pretty generally proceeded to the churches, which will be open morning, noon, and night, for it is a solemn occasion, and thousands will supplicate Almighty God to be pleased to look upon us with compassion, and aid us, in this hour of extremity, to resist the endeavors of our enemies to reduce us to bondage.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

March 10– Friday– Petersburg, Virginia– “I have but a few minutes in which to write and I’m writing by a very dim fire light. I don’t expect you can read it but I will write a few lines. I wrote toyou some few days since . . . . I don’t suppose you will ever get them. We are now on the line between the James & the Appomattox rivers. We occupy the position formerly held by Picket’s Division. We are very well situated. Although we can see the Yanks (about a thousand yards off) we do not expect an engagement. We may, however, be subject to a shelling occasionally. I will try and take care of myself. My light is about out so I must close. Love to all.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee Maggie Cone.

March 10– Friday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “What think you we did yesterday? We had a ‘Matinee Musicale,’ at the Chapel of the 50th New York Engineers. Nothing but high-toned amusements, now-a-day, you will perceive. In truth I was very glad to go to it, as good music always gives me pleasure. The band was the noted one of the New Jersey brigade, and consisted of over thirty pieces. . . . There was a large assemblage of the fashion and nobility of the environs of Petersburg, though most of the first families of Virginia were unavoidably detained in the city. We had a batch of ladies, who, by the way, seem suddenly to have gone mad on visiting this army. No petticoat is allowed to stay within our lines, but they run up from City Point and return in the afternoon. Poor little Mrs. Webb accompanied the General to our monkish encampment and tried, in a winning way, to hint to General Meade that she ought to remain a day or two; but the Chief, though of a tender disposition towards the opposite sex, hath a god higher than a hooped skirt, to wit, orders, and his hooked nose became as a polite bit of flint unto any such propositions. And so, poor little Mrs. Webb, afore said, had to bid her Andrew adieu.” ~ Letter from Union officer Theodore Lyman to his wife Elizabeth.

Theodore Lyman

Theodore Lyman

March 10– Friday– Lincolnton, North Carolina– “Went to church crying to Ellen, ‘It is Lent, we must fast and pray.’ When I came home my good fairy, Colonel Childs, had been here bringing rice and potatoes, and promising flour. He is a trump. He pulled out his pocket-book and offered to be my banker. He stood there on the street, Miss Middleton and Isabella witnessing the generous action, and straight out offered me money. ‘No, put up that,’ said I. ‘I am not a beggar, and I never will be; to die is so much easier.’ Alas, after that flourish of trumpets, when he came with a sack of flour, I accepted it gratefully. I receive things I can not pay for, but money is different. There I draw a line, imaginary perhaps. Once before the same thing happened. Our letters of credit came slowly in 1845, when we went unexpectedly to Europe and our letters [of credit] were to follow us. I was a poor little, inoffensive bride, and a British officer, who guessed our embarrassment, for we did not tell him (he came over with us on the ship), asked my husband to draw on his banker until the letters of credit should arrive. It was a nice thing for a stranger to do.” ~ Diary of Mary Chesnut.

March 10– Friday– Bolivar, Tennessee– “To-day was the day appointed by our President [Jefferson Davis] as a day of fasting and prayer. I for one observed it, though perhaps not with the right spirit. All the animosity which formerly existed (but which we had hoped had completely died out) between the Presbyterian and Episcopalian churches seems with the last few days to have been revived. Everybody is talking of the church some think one some the other. Everybody is commenting on a book which the Episcopalian Minister is circulating by the name of ‘A Presbyterian Minister in search of The Church’ which our pastor pronounced (also any good sensed person) a collection of falsehoods to deceive the ignorant. There is a class of young ladies who intend being confirmed, and this book is given preparatory to confirmation. How wrong to cultivate feeling so injurious to the cause of Christ and so unchristian like in their bearing, instead of cultivating feelings of goodwill toward all men in imitation of our gentle Jesus. The apple of discord has now been thrown among us. Father is divided against Son, Mother against daughter, all ties of Christian affection completely and perhaps forever surrendered. . . . Yankees reported in eight miles of town this morning. At LaGrange this evening, also at Salisbury, I believe.” ~ Diary of Sally Wendel Fentress.

civil-war-fashion-Paris-March 1865

March 10– Friday– Gopher Hill, Georgia– “A day of public fasting and prayer for our poor country, but there was little of either done at Gopher Hill. We had a late breakfast after our night’s dissipation, and soon after, Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Bacon came over and played cards till dinner-time. After dinner the gentlemen proposed a row on the lake, but Mrs. Maxwell and I were the only ones that had fasted and we wouldn’t indulge in a frolic, and the others said they were afraid they might be drowned for their sins if they ventured on the water, so we drove to the station instead. We were too late to meet the train, but heard plenty of news. A tornado passed over the Flat Pond plantation yesterday, destroying every house on it and killing fifteen Negroes; a schoolhouse was blown down and several children killed; on one plantation all the poultry was drowned, and two calves blown away and never came down again! So much for marvels. But the whole country between Wooten’s and Gopher Hill is really flooded. One bridge that we crossed was entirely under water and seemed ready to give way and go down stream at any moment. Jimmy caught a gopher in the road on our way home, and we saw rows of them sitting on logs in the swamps, as if they were having a prayer-meeting.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

March 10– Friday– Beijing, China– Birth of Tan Sitong, politician and reformist leader. [Executed by the imperial government September 28, 1898.]

Will We Thus Blunder on to the End? ~ March 1865 ~ 1st to 2nd

Will We Thus Blunder on to the End?

field mortar images

Even a diary-keeping clerk in the Confederate government worries about the failure of the rebellion. The governor of Georgia complains about Richmond’s failures. The Confederate force in the Shenandoah Valley fights its last major battle and is scattered. Ominous signs of post-war problems are visible as West Virginia considers prohibiting rebels from participating in government and a Union general looks to financial exploitation of the South. The New York Herald, a virulently anti-Lincoln paper, takes an insultingly worded stand about the future of black people and calls Jeff Davis a despot.

images-02

March 1– Wednesday– New York City– “Now, the South has been fighting four years over the n***** question. It is a universal desert. Its farm houses are burned, its fields abandoned, the flower of its youth is slain. From one end of the land to the other the women are desolate as mothers and widows. And now, having borne all this for the perpetuation of Negro slavery, the South comes to the admission that it must lay down its arms and acknowledge defeat unless it gives these very Negroes their freedom. That is the most that the enemies of the South ever hoped to gain. The South now proposes to stand by the freedom of the Negro, that in the commencement it declared nothing but its subjugation should ever bring about. It is now as determined that the n***** shall be free as it was before that he should not. The rebel Generalissimo says that the Negroes are the only fighting material left; and though the rebel Senate says that they shall not be put in the army they will be. This great settlement of the Negro question will be carried out by the rebel Executive over the head of the rebel Senate. The rebel Senate is now all that is left of the rebellion. The rebel President and generals, army and press, are all on our side, and are fighting our battle against their own Senate. Thus the n***** question brings about a counter revolution, and the n***** question and the rebellion will be settled by the self-same blow. At the North the n***** is done with also. The constitutional amendment has gone to the States, and whether the States adopt it or not there will never be any more slavery. Even the South has helped the North make that certain. But now the Northern agitators, in their fears lest this n***** question should be set at rest, are urging that the Negro should vote. Let them give him a vote also if they will, or anything else, and if any white woman wants to marry a n*****, or any white man a wench, let them have their way. Social laws will settle all that; and as for the Negro vote; it will do no harm. If all the Negroes on earth should vote they could not give us worse governments than we have had for twenty years, whether national, State, or municipal. Universe suffrage is a delusion that cannot be made into a bug-bear any longer. In France there is universal suffrage and a despotism. Give the agitators, therefore, this is one more bone if they bark for it. Social laws will settle in their own way – whether we legislate or not – all these questions of race. It is the intellect of a nation that governs it, and not its voters. The n***** question is settled, and now we may put it aside. We may safely rob the political Othello of his occupation by giving him all he wants before he has the chance to clamor for it. Give the n***** political equality and a vote, or whatever else his pretended friends may require. If the Negro is not fit, the gifts will be useless, and if he is, he will soon have, whether or not, all that we are asked to give. And now, that the great question is thus really done with, all the men who lived upon it North and South . . . may take their tickets and sail up Salt river.” ~ New York Herald.

New York Herald, circa 1895

New York Herald, circa 1895

March 1– Wednesday– Trenton, New Jersey– The state legislature rejects the Thirteenth Amendment.

March 1– Wednesday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Captain Thomas H. Norton, 15th U.S. Infantry, of this city, arrived yesterday from Look Out Mountain, where he was through Sherman’s campaign as far as Atlanta. He is now sent north on recruiting service, and is ordered to report at the headquarters of his regiment at Newport, Rhode Island.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

March 1– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Judge J. T. Hale called on me to say he has had a conversation with the President and had learned from him that I had his confidence and that he intended no change in the Navy Department. He said a great pressure had been made upon him to change. I have no doubt of it, and I have at no time believed he would be controlled by it. At no time have I given the subject serious thought.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

John Yates Beall

John Yates Beall

March 1– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Cloudy, cold, and dismal. We have no news, except from the North, whence we learn Lieutenant Beall, one of our Canada raiders, has been hung; that some little cotton and turpentine were burnt at Wilmington; and that the enemy’s columns are approaching us from all directions. They say the rebellion will be crushed very soon, and really seem to have speedy and accurate information from Richmond not only of all movements of our army, but of the intentions of the government. They say Lynchburg and East Tennessee now occupy the mind of General Lee; and they know every disposition of our forces from day to day sooner than our own people! What imbecile stolidity! Will we thus blunder on to the end?” ~ Diary of John Jones. [John Yates Beall, born in Virginia in 1835, was involved in privateering against Federal ships and a failed effort to release Confederate prisoners from Johnson’s Island, Ohio. He was arrested in December, 1864, in Niagra, New York, for attempting to sabotage a train, and was hung on February 24 in New York City.]

March 1– Wednesday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “The scare about a Rebel attack has subsided, but the general impression is that the Rebels are preparing to leave Petersburg. Well I hope they are, for we have had a hard time trying to persuade them to leave.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

March 1– Wednesday– Madison, Wisconsin– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

imagesPPYLBV35

March 1– Wednesday– Nashville, Tennessee– “My brother Jim come out here about ten days ago to get a cotton farm. There is a large amount of Coal Oil region in Tennessee. I put Jim [onto it], after getting all he could lease. He has already. . . with a few others leased a large amount of valuable lands which will be immensely valuable some day and he is going ahead and will probably have the most valuable oil possessions in the U. S. I am a secret partner with him but keep this a secret as it was not allowed of army officers.” ~ Letter from Union General Robert Milroy to his wife Mary Jane.

March 1– Wednesday– Macon, Georgia– “The regiment of Troup county militia, were at the request of General Johnston, placed at the bridge at West Point, where they have remained under the command of a Confederate officer, to whom they report. Major Glenn’s squadron of mounted militia, were ordered out, and have been on duty at Atlanta. Several other organizations of militia, in the Cherokee country, were called out in the rear of the enemy, at the request of General Hood, in August. Since the enemy left Atlanta, they have been ordered to report to General Cobb, and are now reporting to that gallant officer, Brigadier General William T. Wofford. All these organizations are for the time under the command of Confederate Generals, and are expected to be paid by the Confederate Government. I regret however to learn that they do not receive their pay.” ~ Message from Georgia Governor Joseph Brown to the state legislature.

March 1– Wednesday– Albany, Georgia– “The weather has been so bad that we are thrown upon our own resources for amusement. Metta and Mecca play cards and backgammon most of the time, and Albert Bacon comes almost every day on some pretense or other. One very dark night when he was here, we told ghost stories till we frightened ourselves half to death, and had to beg him to stay all night to keep the bogies off. Mett and I take long tramps in the afternoons through mist and mud, but Mec does not like to walk. The lime sink is particularly attractive just now. The little stream that feeds it is swollen by the rains, and dashes along with a great noise. It is so full of little fish that one can catch them in the hand, and the swans go there to feed on them. The whole wood is fragrant with yellow jessamines and carpeted with flowers. Another letter from home that makes me more eager than ever to return. General Elzey and staff are at our house, and the town is full of people that I want to see.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

March 1– Wednesday– Mt Crawford, Virginia; Wilson’s Store, South Carolina; Philadelphia, Tennessee– Skirmishes and firefights.

Anna Pavlovna, Queen Consort of the Netherlands, at the time of her marriage

Anna Pavlovna, Queen Consort of the Netherlands, at the time of her marriage

March 1– Wednesday– The Hague, Netherlands– Anna Pavlovna, Russian-born Queen Consort of King William II, dies at 70 years of age. She bore her husband five children.

March 1– Wednesday– Fukuoka, Japan– Birth of Abe Isoo, politician, Christian socialist, pacifist, feminist, educator. [Dies February 10, 1949.]

Abe Isoo

Abe Isoo

March 2– Thursday– New York City– “Trinity Chapel well filled this morning for the Russian service. Part of the chapel was reserved for Russians, Greeks, and Orientals, of whom there were fifty or sixty. . . . [a friend] says this is the first time the Liturgy of St Chrysostom has been heard in a Western church . . . since the great schism between Eastern and Western Christendom. If so, this was a very remarkable transaction. . . . Even the Unitarians are to hold a council here next month to consider whether they do not believe something after all.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

March 2– Thursday– New York City– “The news which we publish this morning of the movements and operations of General Sherman’s army in South Carolina and Georgia is of the highest interest and importance. Upon unfortunate South Carolina the penalties of this rebellion are falling with a heavy hand. To the ruins, the destitution and desolations of her once wealthy and flourishing seaport of Charleston are now added the field of ashes and broken walls which mark the spot where once stood her State capital, the beautiful little city of Columbia. This visitation the inhabitants of that unfortunate place brought upon themselves by their intolerable treachery of firing from their houses upon the quietly retiring troops of General Sherman, killing and wounding a considerable number. We may deplore the sufferings thus entailed upon the women and children and other helpless citizens involved in this calamity of the burning of Columbia; but such, when criminally provoked, are the stern lessons of dreadful war. Sherman, where the people of a captured city receive him in good faith, as at Savannah, is their protector and benefactor; but where they deal treacherously with him, as at Columbia, in the stealthy assassination of his retiring soldiers, his mode of punishment is swift and terrible. We may say, too, that if any of the reckless and implacable Carolina chivalry deliberately contrived this thing for the purpose of the Southern heart again with an outcry against Yankee vandalism they will make nothing by this desperate experiment. It is because this war to them is destruction that the Southern people, under the despotism of Davis, are now in their agony crying for peace.” ~ New York Herald.

SOPV-1images

March 2– Thursday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Captain [John Yates] Beall, the rebel pirate and spy, who was executed at Governor’s Island, New York, the other day, was born in Jefferson county, in this state, and received a complete classical education at the Charlotteville University. His family were very wealthy, their property being valued at a million and a half of dollars. At the time of the famous John Brown raid, Beall lived about five miles from Harper’s Ferry, and continued to reside there until the outbreak of the rebellion. He was one of the first to espouse the rebel cause in his neighborhood, and was early known as one of the most determined and implacable advocates of secession. As a reward for his captain in the 2nd Virginia Infantry, and served under the celebrated Stonewall Jackson. He as engaged in a number of prominent battles fought in Virginia, and was finally transferred to the rebel navy, receiving a commission as acting master’s mate. In this capacity, he went to Canada for the avowed purpose of fitting out a piratical expedition on Lake Erie, the result of which our readers are already familiar with. Beall was a man of medium height, with blue eyes, light colored hair and moustache, of pleasing countenance, and about thirty years of age.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

March 2– Thursday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “A bill to prohibit Rebels and disloyal citizens from holding any office, either civil or military, in this State. Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia: 1. That no person who has heretofore voluntarily borne arms, or who may hereafter voluntarily bear arms or engage in armed hostility against the Government of the United States, or of the State of West Virginia, or give aid or assistance to the so-called Southern Confederacy, shall be eligible to any office, either civil or military, within this State. 2. No person who voted for the Ordinance of Secession in the year 1861, and then went into the service of the United States and has been or may be honorably discharged, shall be embraced in this act if he has volunteered prior to the passage of this act. 3. Any person who may hold or attempt to hold any office within this State contrary to this act, on being duly convicted thereof shall be fined, in the circuit court of his county, 4. When any such fines shall be imposed, the cost shall first be paid out of the same and the remainder go into the free school fund of the county in which such fine is imposed. 5. Any person now holding office who may have been guilty of any crime named in this act, shall be dismissed from the same by the governor’s order, and his office supplied by a new election, at the earliest time possible, according to law.” ~ Proposed legislation being debated in the House of Delegates.

SOPV-03images

March 2– Thursday– Waynesborough, Virginia– In the last major battle in the Shenandoah Valley, Federal troops quickly defeat and scatter the remainder of the Confederate force under General Jubal Early. Total casualties– killed, wounded, missing– for the Union are 9 and over 1500 for the Confederacy.

Fighting Can Never End This War ~ February 1865 ~ 23rd to 24th

Fighting Can Never End this War ~ the Georgia state legislature

federal ambulances

Continuing with a veiled degree of animosity toward the government in Richmond, the Georgia legislature calls for a negotiated settlement to end the war and reaffirms the doctrine of states’ rights. The Confederate Congress defeats the bill to enlist slaves in the Confederate army. In Missouri the new governor outlines a peaceful and prosperous future and calls for an end to party politics. George Whitman is free and arrives in Union territory.

13th_Amendment_Pg1of1_AC

February 23– Thursday– St Paul, Minnesota– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 23– Thursday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “Yesterday was [George] Washington’s birthday and we celebrated in fine style.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

February 23– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “It is rather mortifying to the people of Virginia to find that Mr. Joseph Segar, their representative to the United States Senate, has been denied a seat in that august body by a very decisive vote taken upon his ‘credentials.’ The rejection appears to be based upon the fact that Virginia is ‘a State in armed rebellion’– a little circumstance that probably Mr. Segar, in his hurry to take the boat for [ Washington ] had overlooked. Mr. Charles Sumner, a citizen of Massachusetts, who is more fortunate than Mr. Segar in occupying a seat in the Federal Senate, took a very sensible view of the matter. He could not see– what nobody else can see– the propriety of a Virginia representative in a Yankee Senate. He said: ‘It will be the duty of the committee to consider, in the first place, whether a State in armed rebellion, like Virginia, can have Senators on this floor. That is a great question — constitutional, political and practical. It will be their duty, then, in the second place, to inquire whether the gentleman whose credentials have been presented has been chosen legally, under the Constitution of the United States, by any State. I do not intend to prejudge either of these questions. I simply offer them for the consideration of the Senate; but I do insist that a measure of this importance shall not be acted on without due consideration or in absolute indifference to those facts which now stare us in the face, glaring upon us every day in every newspaper that we read. You cannot be insensible to facts. It is in vain that Senators say that Virginia, now at war against the Union, is entitled to representation on this floor, when you have before you the inexorable fact that the greater part of the State is at this moment in the possession of an armed rebellion– when you have before you the other fact, filling almost all the newspapers in the land, that the body of men who have undertaken to send a Senator to Congress are a little more than the Common Council of Alexandria. And you have that question distinctly presented to you whether a representative of the Common Council of Alexandria is to enter this chamber and share the same powers and privileges with my honorable friends, the Senators from New York and Pennsylvania. I merely open these points without now undertaking to decide, and simply as an unanswerable argument in favor of the reference to the committee.’” ~ Richmond Daily Dispatch. [Segar, 1804 to 1880, a lawyer and state politician from Hampton, Virginia, had remained loyal to the Union but the investigating committee will deny him permission to be seated in the U S Senate.]

Joseph Segar

Joseph Segar

February 23– Thursday– Macon, Georgia– “Whereas, It is believed that a majority of the people of Georgia desire that a Convention be called to consider the condition of the country and to devise ways and to initiate measures which will result in opening negotiations, by which an honorable peace may be obtained between the Confederate States and the United States, Resolved 1st, That in the opinion of this General Assembly that, with the resources of the Confederate States, it is in their power to prolong this war for an indefinite number of years, and that the State of Georgia ought to, and will, reject the late ultimatum of President Lincoln to the Commissioners of the Confederate States. That whilst this is our stern determination, yet we believe that if the subject is approached in the proper spirit by negotiations, peace may be obtained. If, however, we shall fail, we will have the proud satisfaction of knowing that we have exhausted the argument, and the people of the State of Georgia will stand united as one man prepared to win by our arms the just measures of our rights, or fill patriots’ graves. Resolved 2nd, That this General Assembly pledges the entire resources of the State for the prosecution of the war until an honorable peace can be obtained; but in our opinion fighting can never end this war, and we desire to withdraw as far as practicable the questions at issue from the arbitrament of the sword, and refer the same to the umpire of reason. With a view to this end, Resolved 3rd, That an election for delegates to a Convention be held on the 20th day of March next, which Convention shall assemble at Macon on the 15th day of April next. That each county shall be entitled to send two delegates. That each voter shall endorse on his ticket Convention or No Convention If a majority of the voters shall say No Convention, then said Convention shall not be held, but if a majority shall endorse Convention, then said Convention shall assemble at the time and place hereinbefore stated. That in those counties having no mail or railroad facilities, it shall be the duty of the Justices of the Inferior Courts to forward the returns by special couriers, and it shall be the duty of the Governor to make the result known by proclamation so soon as the result is ascertained.” ~ Resolutions passed by the Georgia state legislature.

infantry charge

February 24– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “The new Governor of Missouri, Thomas C. Fletcher, is the man for the times. We have read with intense interest and complete satisfaction his inaugural Message, delivered on the 2nd of January. It as of the true radical grit, and thoroughly loyal, of course. A radical hater of slavery is, from the very nature of things, loyal, and a radical hater of slavery-engendered rebellion. With the incoming of the new State Administration at the head of which stands Governor Fletcher, a near era of prosperity, happiness, and honor for Missouri has commenced. We like the Governor’s Inaugural so well, that we cannot forbear letting our readers have the privilege of sharing in our satisfaction by perusing the following passage, which is all aglow with the holy enthusiasm of Liberty: ‘In the name of Truth, of Justice, of Freedom, and of Progress, God has permitted us a political triumph, bringing with it toe solemn responsibility of promoting those great principles by an enforcement of the fundamental law for securing the peace, happiness and prosperity of the people of the State. Through the blood and fire of a civil war, we have attained to a new era, effulgent with the glory of the decree of the people, In their sovereign capacity, emancipating themselves from servitude to principles and policies which have weighed down their energies, opposed barriers to their progress, and armed the hand of treason for shedding of patriot blood. . . . Let it be announced that, in the new era which has come, ours is to be the first of States, with the largest freedom and the widest charities. Let ours be a State where, with the administration of inflexible justice, the abandonment of mere partyisms, and the domination of industrial politics, all the advancements of statute law progress towards combining labor and capital, rather than placing them in the cruel antagonisms of the past; where the light of hope is shut out by the fundamental law from no human being, of whatever race, creed or color, but where a free people heeding the stroke of inevitable destiny on the horology of time in the great crisis of changeful progress guards the right of permitting the position and privileges of every man to be such as his virtues, talents, education, patriotism, enterprise, industry, courage or achievements may confer upon him. The victorious armies of the Republic are with deadly thrusts piercing the enemy on every side. The giant rebellion, bleeding at every pore, begins to reel and faint. Our Sherman, with his veteran braves, stands on the ocean’s beach, gazes back at the last deep mortal wound inflicted, and awaits only to see if another is necessary. The legions of Grant, Butler, Sheridan, Thomas and Canby are rushing on to complete the work; the coming spring time will bring the final blow, and amid the battle cry of freedom, the death of rebellion will be consummated, and blessed peace once more breathe its benisons over the land.’” ~ The Liberator. [Fletcher, age 38, Missouri-born, is a lawyer and Union officer. Because of his distinguished military service, the Republicans nominated him for governor, which he won by a large majority. He serves as governor from January, 1865 to January, 1869. Eventually, he will move to Washington, D.C. to practice law and dies there March 15, 1899.]

Thomas C. Fletcher, Governor of Missouri

Thomas C. Fletcher, Governor of Missouri

February 24– Friday– Anapolis, Maryland– “I arrived here yesterday from the Hotel De Libby [Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia] and if ever a poor devil was glad to get in a Christian Country it was me. I am perfectly well Mother although I am in the Hospital Buildings, and am not under Medical treatment. The reason that I am quartered here is that the Hotels and Boarding Houses in town are crammed full, I stay here for one dollar and a half a day while the Hotels charge three or four dollars and we are just as comfortable as I want to be. I drew 2 months pay to day and bought a new suit of clothes and now I feel something like a white man. I made an application this morning for a leave of absence for 30 days and I expect to be home in the course of 3 or 4 days. We left Danville on the 19th of this Month and stopped in Richmond until the morning of the 22nd. On our arrival at Richmond I found 2 boxes filled with Clothing and grub for me and the way we went into the eatables while we were in Libby was a caution. Mother I am very anxious indeed to hear from you all and wish you get to write or Telegraph to me (as soon (as you get this) as possibly I may get it if you write before I leave here. I have lots of yarns to tell you Mother but will wait until I get home as I can’t do justice to the darn Rebs, in a letter. You cant imagine how I want to see you and Mattie and the children and all the rest.” ~ Letter from George Whitman to his mother Louisa.

Louisa Whitman

Louisa Whitman

February 24– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “Rained all day yesterday; cloudy and cool this morning. We have no news– only rumors that Wilmington has been abandoned . . . . Yesterday the Senate voted down the bill to put 200,000 Negroes in the army. The papers to-day contain a letter from General Lee, advocating the measure as a necessity. Mr. Hunter’s vote defeated it. He has many Negroes, and will probably lose them; but the loss of popularity, and fear of forfeiting all chance of the succession, may have operated on him as a politician. What madness!” ~ Diary of John Jones.

February 24– Friday– Charlotte, North Carolina– “The fact is my darling we are retreating without fighting & Sherman is, in fact now marching through South Carolina as easily as he did through Georgia. I rejoined the command on Monday as I told you I would. & the next day threw up breastworks for the protection of Columbia. Kept in the ditches that night raining & freezing as it fell. All next day Wednesday was occupied in strengthening our works, we were on the right. Some skirmishing all day on the left. Sherman to save ammunition would not press on but moved up across the Saluda river, thereby causing us to fall back across the Congarce which was done Wednesday night & the long bridge burned. Thursday the Yankees kept moving up the river all day in plain view from Columbia. Slight skirmishing was kept up all day across the river. The Yankees very sparing of ammunition could not resist the temptation of firing a few shells at the new capitol 3 of which struck the end towards the river defacing it very little. All knew the place was to be evacuated the next morning & the stores were rapidly being plundered by soldiers & citizens. Words cannot describe my feelings at seeing Ladies and children running about wild with excitement & fear, ringing their hands & crying. There was not a man but gripped his sabre tighter & felt more than ever determined never to give up this struggle till liberty or death be our lot. Friday night the Yankees destroyed by fire 3/4 of the city. Prisoners say it was accidental but we can believe as much of that as we please.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Barrington King to his wife Bessie.

federal canon

February 24– Friday– Macon, Georgia– “The General Assembly of the State of Georgia do Resolve, 1. That the independence of the Confederate States of America, as based upon the constitutional compact between the sovereign States composing the Confederacy, and maintained through nearly four years of gigantic war, justly claims from their former associates and from the world, its recognition as a rightful fact. 2. That all the States which composed the late American Union, as well those embraced within the present United States as those embraced within the Southern Confederacy, are what the original thirteen States were declared to be by their common ancestors of 1776 and acknowledged to be by George the Third, of England independent and sovereign States: not as one political community, but as States, each one of them constituting such a people as have the inalienable right to terminate any government of their former choice by withdrawing from it their consent; just as the original thirteen States through their common agent acting for, and in the name of each of one them, by the withdrawal of their consent, put a rightful termination to the British government which had been established over them with their perfect consent and free choice. 3. Resolved, That in the judgment of this General Assembly the sovereignty of the individual and several States is the only basis upon which permanent peace between the States now at war with each other can be established consistently with the preservation of constitutional liberty; and that the recognition of this principle, if the voice of passion and war can once be hushed, and reason be allowed to resume her sway, will lead to an easy and lasting solution of all matters of controversy involved in the present unnatural war, by simply leaving all the States free to form their political associations with one another, not by force of arms which excludes the idea of consent, but by a rational consideration of their respective interests, growing out of their condition, resources and situation. 4. Resolved, That we do spurn with indignation the terms on which the President of the United States has proposed peace to the people of the Confederate States; and that Georgia pledges herself to her sister States to use constitutionally all the resources which Providence has placed in her power for the maintenance of the principles herein announced, the security of our rights and in maintaining the independence and sovereignty of these States. 5. Resolved, That whilst we spurn with indignation the terms on which the President of the United States has offered peace to the people of the Confederate States; and whilst Georgia renews her pledges to use constitutionally her resources for the attainment of an honorable peace upon the principles herein laid down; we appeal from the terms offered by President Lincoln to the reason and justice of all friends of constitutional liberty wherever found. And that we echo a hearty response to the proposition for an armistice and the withdrawal of the decision of this question from the arbitrament of the sword to the forum of reason and justice. 6. Resolved, That the freedom with which President Davis has received even unofficial Commissioners from the United States, his ready response to unofficial invitations to send Commissioners, the wise and discreet choice of persons made by him commands our highest admiration and is proof conclusive of an honest and sincere desire to withdraw the decision of the questions involved, from the arbitrament of the sword to the forum of reason and justice. 7. Resolved, That our profoundest gratitude is due to our soldiers who on many a bloody battle-field have illustrated their State by deeds of heroic valor, and that while we look to them with pride and confidence we will see that their efforts are generously sustained and that the amplest resources of the State are applied for the support and comfort of their families at home. 8. Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be forwarded by His Excellency the Governor to the President of the Confederate States, to our Senators and Representatives in the Confederate Congress, and to the Governors of the several independent States.”

Joseph E. Brown, Governor of Georgia

Joseph E. Brown, Governor of Georgia

February 24– Friday– Dooly County, Georgia– “Last evening I was most agreeable surprised by the reception of your most interesting letter of the 4th instant. Having heard that communications were cut off, I greatly feared a long time would elapse before I would again have the happy pleasure of hearing from you. I was almost afraid to expect a letter, lest I should be disappointed; but I’m truly glad my supposition was wrong, that Sherman had not accomplished that which he so much desires, and I so hope he may never be permitted to destroy effectually the communication. Well something else now. I’m truly glad you arrived safely in camps with your boxes. You certainly had a most disagreeable trip. Soldiers going from here won’t carry anything back for their friends, owing to the conditions of the roads. I know it must be very troublesome to carry boxes through, but of course one hates to refuse knowing how much they appreciate such a favor from others. The people seem to very uneasy about the condition of General Lee’s army, lest it should suffer for provisions. We cannot hear any news from South Carolina whatever. The movements of the two armies are kept secret for some purpose. I hope Sherman will get a good whipping whenever he makes an attack.” ~ Letter from Maggie Cone to Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer, her fiancé.

Fight Rather Than Submit to Yankee Rule ~ February 1865 ~ 16th to 17th

Fight Ever Rather than Submit to Yankee Rule ~ Maggie Cone

Federal troops raise the U S flag after occupying Columbia South Carolina

Federal troops raise the U S flag after occupying Columbia South Carolina

A young Georgia woman and her soldier husband-to-be exchange letters on the same day, wondering if the other will receive it. She, much like other Southern women, is filled with worry but wants to fight on. In the Shenandoah Valley, another young women informs a mother about the death of her son. South Carolina trembles as Columbia surrenders and much of the city is devastated by fire while Confederate troops evacuate Charleston, the city where the opening shots of the war were fired in April of 1861. Three more states ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, raising the total to 16 of the 27 necessary for ratification and the constitutional abolition of slavery.

hospital wagon

hospital wagon

February 16– Thursday– Lincolnton, North Carolina– “A change has come o’er the spirit of my dream. Dear old quire of yellow, coarse, Confederate home-made paper, here you are again. An age of anxiety and suffering has passed over my head since last I wrote and wept over your forlorn pages. My ideas of those last days are confused. The Martins left Columbia the Friday before I did, and Mammy, the Negro woman, who had nursed them, refused to go with them. That daunted me. Then Mrs. Mc Cord, who was to send her girls with me, changed her mind. She sent them up-stairs in her house and actually took away the staircase ; that was her plan. . . . We thought that if the Negroes were ever so loyal to us, they could not protect me from an army bent upon sweeping us from the face of the earth, and if they tried to do so, so much the worse would it be for the poor things with their Yankee friends. I then left them to shift for themselves, as they are accustomed to do, and I took the same liberty. My husband does not care a fig for the property question, and never did. Perhaps, if he had ever known poverty, it would be different. He talked beautifully about it, as he always does about everything. . . . I took French leave of Columbia slipped away with out a word to anybody. Isaac Hayne and Mr. Chesnut came down to the Charlotte depot with me. Ellen, my [slave] maid, left her husband and only child, but she was willing to come, and, indeed, was very cheerful in her way of looking at it. . . . A woman, fifty years old at least, and uglier than she was old, sharply rebuked my husband for standing at the [railroad] car window for a last few words with me. She said rudely: ‘Stand aside, sir ! I want air !’ With his hat off, and his grand air, my husband bowed politely, and said: ‘In one moment, madam ; I have something important to say to my wife.’ She talked aloud and introduced herself to every man, claiming his protection. She had never traveled alone before in all her life. Old age and ugliness are protective in some cases. She was ardently patriotic for a while. Then she was joined by her friend, a man as crazy as herself to get out of this. From their talk I gleaned she had been for years in the Treasury Department. They were about to cross the lines. The whole idea was to get away from the trouble to come down here. They were Yankees, but were they not spies? Here I am broken-hearted and an exile. And in such a place! We have bare floors, and for a feather-bed, pine table, and two chairs I pay $30 a day. Such sheets ! But fortunately I have some of my own. . . . The Martins had seen my, to them, well-known traveling case as the hack trotted up Main Street, and they arrived at this juncture out of breath. We embraced and wept. I kept my room. The Fants are refugees here, too; they are Virginians, and have been in exile since the second battle of Manassas. Poor things ; they seem to have been everywhere, and seen and suffered everything. They even tried to go back to their own house, but found one chimney only standing alone ; even that had been taken possession of by a Yankee, who had written his name upon it. The day I left home I had packed a box of flour, sugar, rice, and coffee, but my husband would not let me bring it. He said I was coming to a land of plenty, unexplored North Carolina, where the foot of the Yankee marauder was unknown, and in Columbia they would need food. Now I have written for that box and many other things to be sent me by Lawrence [one of her household slaves], or I shall starve.” ~ Diary of Mary Chesnut.

Mary Chesnut

Mary Chesnut

February 16– Thursday– Columbia, South Carolina– Federal troops almost completely encircle the city as Confederate soldiers under General Beauregard retreat after Beauregard notifies General Lee that his outnumbered force is unable to defend the place.

February 16– Thursday– Albany, Georgia– “We started for . . . Mrs. Welsh’s party, soon after breakfast, but were a good deal delayed on the way by having to wait for a train of forty government wagons to pass. We found Mrs. Julia Butler at Mrs. Sims’s, straight from Washington [Georgia], with letters for us, and plenty of news. I feel anxious to get back now, since Washington is going to be such a center of interest. If the Yanks take Augusta, it will become the headquarters of the department. Mrs. Butler says a train of 300 wagons runs between there and Abbeville, and they are surveying a railroad route. Several regiments are stationed there and the town is alive with army officers and government officials. How strange all this seems for dear, quiet little Washington! It must be delightful there, with all those nice army officers. I am going back home as soon as I can decently change my mind. I have been at the rear all during the war, and now that I have a chance, I want to go to the front. I wish I could be here and there, too, at the same time.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

Eliza Frances Andrews

Eliza Frances Andrews

February 16– Thursday– Indianapolis, Indiana– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 16– Thursday–Baton Rouge, Louisiana– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 16– Thursday– Carson City, Nevada– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

13th_Amendment_Pg1of1_AC

February 17– Friday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Yesterday a man . . . having had some difficulty with the wife of his bosom, (who appears to have gently protested against his making a whisky keg of himself,) determined in an act of desperation, to go for a soldier, and started in the direction of the Provost Marshal’s office. The wife, suspecting his design, started in pursuit, accompanied by young persuaders in the shape of as many flaxen haired little pledges of affection. The husband was overtaken on Fourth street. At first he declined to listen to the appeals of his wife, but at last the little ones climbed up his legs and tugged at his coat tails, when he melted and was led off captive as meek as was ever Captain Cuttle, mariner, in the custody of Mrs. Mc Stinger. A committeeman from one of the sub districts of the county said the woman ought to be arrested for discouraging enlistments.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

February 17– Friday– near Winchester, Virginia– “Yours of October 18th and December 10th only a few days ago were received – how they were smuggled through the lines I am not aware, but sincerely hope I may be able to get this through to you – yours were truly, truly welcome. . . . think not I should not have been so negligent as not to send you some message had I had but one moment of freedom that I could have written & sent the letter through, but you know we are in the thumb of tyrants that the penalty for receiving or sending letter through the lines if known to them is so severe, that no one is willing to risk carrying a letter & I have never had one safe opportunity that I could send you a long letter. . . . as soon as in my power I shall send you full particulars as far as I can of your dear son’s death. In this I will only answer your inquiries. Our Angel – our beloved dead – he died, I am told, in sight of my home, alone in an ambulance, insensible – he must have spoken after wounded, as the driver said he requested to be brought here. Oh! What comfort what consolation to us all had we only heard him speak, seen him breathe. He was I know prepared for the change, four nights before he fell, he was here, left the next day . . . right back into this battle. . . . he seemed in good spirits, cheerful, warning me to trust in God, to be cheerful & happy . . . . I received a few articles, taken from your son’s body, his own testament . . . also have some of his hair, his tobacco bags, pipe, a handkerchief , his money . . . . our great regret is that we were unable to purchase him a good coffin but it was impossible, hundreds of our dear soldiers – Colonels, Captains, officers of all rank – were wrapped in their blankets & placed low. Ma begged our undertaker to make as nice a one as possible, he says . . . were you able to pay me one thousand dollars, I could not make you one I have no material. Ma offered boards he made him a plain pine coffin not such as he deserved, but that was better than none at all, and many others had to sleep calmly in our private lot in the once beautiful home of our dead but oh it pains me so deeply to tell you, even it has been desecrated, almost ruined by our merciless foes that sacred spot was so beautiful. Perhaps someday we can again replace it & it rest undisturbed. . . . God may heal, but memory lives, the grave only can bury this my first deepest the one great sorrow of my life. I never can be perfectly happy again. I may smile, be seemingly happy, as far as the happiness of this world is concerned, for all is dark to be now there is no happiness here . . . . On the 19th I received a letter from Mac, written two hours before he fell, telling me he was near & hoped soon to be with me, at one o’clock his dead body was brought to my home . Had an only brother, an only son been brought in a corpse, the screams, the sorrow of my mother, sisters & all could not have been more terrible that day & night can never be forgotten. . . . your son . . . was buried as decently as was in our power to have him, you cannot regret more than me, that it could not have been otherwise . . . . May God bless, protect, heal your sorrows. Guide you all safely through Life.” ~ Letter from Maggie Heist to Martha Roadcap.

period graveyard

period graveyard

February 17– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “Whereas objects of interest to the United States require that the Senate should be convened at twelve o’clock on the Fourth of March next, to receive and act upon such communications as may be made to it on the part of the Executive: Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, have considered it to be my duty to issue this my Proclamation, declaring that an extraordinary occasion requires the Senate of the United States to convene for the transaction of business at the Capitol, in the city of Washington, on the Fourth day of March next, at twelve o’clock at noon on that day, of which all who shall at that time be entitled to act as members of that body, are hereby required to take notice.” ~ Proclamation issued by President Lincoln.

February 17– Friday– Petersburg, Virginia–”The sadness I feel now is inexpressible, and can be equaled only by the heart-rending pangs I suffered when I so recently parted with you in person. Never, except for a very short time, since the commencement of our correspondence, have we been deprived the inestimable privilege of regularly hearing from each other. Others have been debarred this priceless boon, almost during the whole of the present struggle. Now tis probable that we, too, are to be subject to a like fate, it does indeed render me sad and gloomy. Not that I think the separation will be for a great while or that absence and silence will conquer the love of either for the other; but because twill be so painful to be separated for however short a time. I have no hope whatever of receiving letters by soldiers at home on furlough. To surmount this difficulty, will you write me one more long, long letter, and enclose it in a letter to Sister Fannie, requesting her to forward it by some one coming on to the Army of Virginia? I will surely get it. This may be the last opportunity and you know not how anxious I am to hear from you once more. Sherman, contrary to my expectation, seems to be marching to Columbia [South Carolina]. If he is successful, all communication, by any means, will be effectively destroyed, for awhile at least. That he will be successful, I haven’t the least idea.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee Maggie Cone.

February 17– Friday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “Today I have been at work in charge of a detail of six hundred men at work on a fort called Fort Fisher which is built across the Weldon Rail Road. It rained all day and we worked in the mud water. This fort will be a strong one and, as it is in sight of the Rebels, we shall have music before it is finished.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

February 17– Friday– Charleston, South Carolina– Anticipating the arrival of the large Federal force, Confederate troops evacuate the city.

February 17– Friday– Columbia, South Carolina– The city surrenders to Federal troops. In the night much of the city burns, whether deliberately set by Yankees or retreating rebels or freed slaves and prisoners or accidentally set on fire remains unclear. Two-thirds of the city is heavily damaged.

fire damage in Columbia

fire damage in Columbia

February 17– Friday– Dooly County, Georgia– “As I anticipated the detestable Yankees have cut the road at or near Branchville, but however slight may be the probability of your receiving a letter, I will write you. One week has elapsed since the road was interrupted, but I don’t know whether they still hold possession or not, as I haven’t seen a paper in several days, neither have I heard any late news from that point; though I hope the road has been repaired and communication is again open to Virginia. Since our Commissioners have returned and informed the people of the result of their interview with the Federal Commissioners, I hope now the urgent request ‘Send Commissioners to negotiate with the Federal Government’ will cease, and that such a dishonorable proposition for peace, will not have a discouraging effect upon our soldiers and the people at home, but to the contrary, will unite and inspire them with redoubled energy to fight on, fight ever, rather than submit to Yankee rule and oppression. I confess, I did hope some honorable proposition would be made that we could accept of though I didn’t hardly think there would be consequently I was not much disappointed.” ~ Letter from Maggie Cone to her fiancé Alva Benjamin Spencer.

So Many of My Friends Falling ~ February 1865 ~ the 9th and 10th

So Many of My Friends Falling ~ Alva Benjamin Spencer

images3DRG08DM

Hard times in the Confederacy. Sherman is cutting his way through South Carolina. Supplies running short. The size of the army so reduced that General Lee goes on record supporting the enlistment of black slaves in large numbers. Southern newspapers call out for resistance. There is discussion– North and South– about the failed peace initiative.

Sherman marching through South Carolina

Sherman marching through South Carolina

February 9– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Sherman has not neglected, in his military march, to ‘garrison the press.’ The Savannah Republican, an old and long established journal of that city, has been manned and officered by an Abolition detachment. . . . We are glad to learn that the new organ of Sherman is compelled to rely wholly on the Yankee soldiers and sailors for patronage, the sales to citizens being, at present, very small. This shows that, in spite of representations to the contrary, the great mass of the people of Savannah . . . have no sympathy with the invaders. The Republican indeed, admits as much, but it is by no means despondent. It will ‘require time to teach the rabid rebels of Savannah their fatal error.’ The manner of conveying this instruction is not clearly indicated, but, from the example of New Orleans and other Confederate cities in Yankee possession, we can readily imagine the process of enlightening darkened understandings. Insult, degradation, stoning and plunder, will open their eyes to the beauties of abolition philanthropy; or, if they still continue incredulous, banish them by wholesale and seize their houses and effects. The ‘fatal error’ of the Confederate people is to imagine that they have any right to exist on the planet. When they are converted from that mortal heresy, and renounce it with their dying breath, they may expect to escape from Yankee persecution.” ~ Richmond Times Dispatch.

February 9– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “We have nothing from Charleston for several days. No doubt preparations are being made for its evacuation. The stores will be brought here for Lee’s army. What will be the price of gold then?” ~ Diary of John Jones.

February 9– Thursday– Charleston, South Carolina– “When the Yankee nation elected Abraham Lincoln on the avowed basis of abolition, they proclaimed their future intentions with regard to us and our institutions. They made up the issue between the sections and severed the Union. When they seized Fort Sumter and returned to give it up to us, to whom it rightly belonged, they closed the issue for war and shut the book of peace. The contest engaged in was on either sides for Union or for disunion – for one General Government, or two separate General Governments, over the two separate sections. For four years this war was waged with fierce endeavor on both sides. But now, just at this point, and just at this time, the 1st chapter of the war has closed its red pages. . . . For the second time the issues have all been made up – and for the second time the books have been closed. The United States Government have just abolished slavery, by an act of Congress, throughout the entire length and breadth of the land now under their authority, or hereafter to come under their authority. . . . Everybody knows now where we stand – utter and complete subjugation and abolition; or fight on to the death, or to glorious independence, with the preservation of our rights and individual liberties.” ~ Charleston Mercury.

13th_Amendment_Pg1of1_AC

February 9– Thursday– Walker’s Plantation, South Carolina– “Marched to Walker’s plantation; distance, ten miles. Here we remained . . . while the troops were completing the destruction of the railroad.” ~ Diary of a staff officer under Union General Oliver O. Howard.

February 9– Thursday– Albany Georgia– “We are in Albany – Mett, Mrs. Meals, and I – on our way to Americus, where I am going to consult Cousin Bolling Pope about my eyes. They have been troubling me ever since I had measles. We had hardly got our hats off when Jim Chiles came panting up the steps. He had seen the carriage pass through town and must run round at once to see if a sudden notion had struck us to go home. After tea came Captain Hobbs, the Welshes, and a Mr. Green, of Columbus, to spend the evening. Mrs. Welsh gives a large party next Thursday night, to which we are invited, and she also wants me to stay over and take part in some theatricals for the benefit of the hospitals, but I have had enough of worrying with amateur theatricals for the present.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

February 9– Thursday– London, England– Birth of Beatrice Stella Tanner who will become a famous actress known as Mrs Patrick Campbell. [Dies April 9, 1940.]

Beatrice Tanner a/k/a Mrs Patrick Campbell

Beatrice Tanner a/k/a Mrs Patrick Campbell

February 10– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– Today’s issue of The Liberator reprints the text of the Thirteenth Amendment and lists every member of the House of Representatives by name, state and political party, indicating whether he voted for or against the amendment. The issue also reports the following: “Another Marked Event in American History! The admission of John S. Rock, Esq., a talented and much respected lawyer of Boston, to practice in the Supreme Court of the United States.” [Rock, 1825 – 1866, a free-born black man was an educator, physician and abolitionist activist as well as a lawyer. Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts moved for Rock’s admission to practice before the Supreme Court on February 1st thus making Rock the first African American lawyer to be admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court. For a biography, see The Supreme Court Bar’s First Black Member by Clarence G. Contee (1975), in the electronic archives of the Supreme Court Historical Society.]

John S Rock

John S Rock

February 10– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “On Wednesday evening Mrs. Welles held a levee, which always disarranges. The season has thus far been one of gaiety. Parties have been numerous. Late hours I do not like, but I have a greater dislike to late dinners. The dinner parties of Washington are to be deprecated always by those who regard health. The President has communicated his movements tending to peace. Jeff Davis has published the letter of Stephens, Hunter, and Campbell. They do not materially differ. The prospect of peace does not seem nearer than before the interview took place, yet I trust we are approximating the much desired result. There are ultras among us who do not favor the cessation of hostilities except on terms and conditions which make that event remote. A few leading radicals are inimical to the Administration, and oppose all measures of the Administration which are likely to effect an immediate peace. They are determined that the States in rebellion shall not resume their position in the Union except on new terms and conditions independent of those in the proposed Constitutional Amendment. Wade in the Senate and Winter Davis in the House are leading spirits in this disturbing movement. It is the positive element, violent without much regard to Constitutional or State rights, or any other rights indeed, except such as they may themselves define or dictate. Not much was done to-day at the Cabinet. Some discussion of general matters.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

February 10– Friday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “The weather is fine today and as warm as spring. We are enjoying it after the snow and ice of a few days ago. I am very well and happy as a man ought to be.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

February 10– Friday– Petersburg, Virginia– “It does indeed make me feel sad to see so many of my friends falling around me. Oh for something to stop this destructive conflict. The ‘Peace Commissioners’ have returned, telling us ‘the argument is exhausted, let us stand by our arms.’ They were permitted to go no nearer Washington than Fortress Monroe, at which place they were met by inhuman Lincoln, and the subtle intriguer Seward. Nothing was accomplished, save our Commissioners being told they were rebel traitors. Thus endeth the Peace question, ‘peace to its ashes.’I hope no sensationist will again revive it. I think we all can now see what is the character of our enemies. We can do nothing but await the time when we shall be more powerful than they. To insure such an event, we have to put forth every energy, in the field and at home. The people must encourage the army and all will be well. We have virtually commenced a new war. It does look gloomy; but contrast independence with submission or subjugation. Let every man’s motto be ‘Liberty or death,’ and independence is ours. None are more desirous to obtain peace than I. I have an object to attain to, which would make me forget all the many, many hardships I’ve undergone and render me the happiest among men. If we could gain anything by reconstruction, I would willingly give my consent; but we all know that instead of gaining, we would lose everything.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee Maggie Cone.

Alva Benjamin Spencer

Alva Benjamin Spencer

February 10– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “Bright and cold. . . . Sherman has got to the railroad near Branchville, and cut communications with Augusta. At the meeting [of Congress], yesterday, Mr. Hunter presided, sure enough; and made a carefully prepared patriotic speech. There was no other alternative. And Mr. Benjamin, being a member of the cabinet, made a significant and most extraordinary speech. He said the white fighting men were exhausted, and that black men must recruit the army– and it must be done at once; that General Lee had informed him he must abandon Richmond, if not soon reinforced, and that Negroes would answer. The States must send them, Congress having no authority. Virginia must lead, and send 20,000 to the trenches in twenty days. Let the Negroes volunteer, and be emancipated. It was the only way to save the slaves– the women and children. He also said all [planters and farmers] who had cotton, tobacco, corn, meat, etc. must give them to the government, not sell them.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

February 10– Friday– Charleston, South Carolina– “We desire to call the attention of our readers in all parts of the State to the important mission of Captain Julian Mitchel, under the authority of the Governor of the State. His mission is to save food from the hands of the enemy, for the use of the State. It is a matter of the greatest importance in two aspects. First, it is essential, in order to delay, or to check altogether, Sherman’s march into the interior, that all food should be moved from in front of him. He must march across a waste. Not a pound of corn, rice or peas, or a bushel of potatoes must be left on his line of march, or anywhere, that he can get it, beyond the absolute necessities of those who cannot move. This fact all property owners in the State should understand at once. And this order every military man should be required strictly to enforce to the letter. Secondly, it is important that whilst cutting off all supplies from Sherman, so far as the produce of this State is concerned, we should not starve ourselves. This is Captain Mitchel’s mission. In all regions of the country threatened by the enemy, he is to gather up for the use of the State all the provisions except those absolutely requisite for the sustenance of those who are compelled by necessity to remain at home – old men, and cripples, women and children. It is a mission of incalculable importance, if properly enforced and thoroughly carried out.” ~ Charleston Mercury.

February 10– Friday– Albany Georgia– “We had to get up very early to catch the seven o’clock train to Americus. Jim met us at the depot, though there were so many of our acquaintances on board that we had no special need of an escort. Mr. George Lawton sat by me all the way from Smithville to Americus, and insisted on our paying his family a visit before leaving South-West Georgia. I wish I could go, for he lives near father’s old Tallassee plantation where I had such happy times in my childhood; but if we were to accept all the invitations that come to us, we would never get back home again. We reached Americus at ten and went straight to Cousin Bolling’s hospital. He was not there, but Dr. Howard, his assistant, told us he was in the village and would be at the office in a few minutes. All along the streets, as we were making our way from the depot to the hospital, we could recognize his patients going about with patches and shades and blue spectacles over their eyes, and some of them had blue or green veils on. We didn’t care to wait at the hospital in all that crowd of men, so we started out to visit the shops, intending to return later and meet Cousin Bolling. We had gone only a few steps when we saw him coming toward us. His first words were the announcement that he was married! I couldn’t believe him at first, and thought he was joking. Then he insisted that we should go home with him and see our new cousin. We felt doubtful about displaying our patched up Confederate traveling suits before a brand new bride from beyond the blockade, with trunk loads of new things, but curiosity got the better of us, and so we agreed to go home with him. He is occupying Colonel Maxwell’s house while the family are on the plantation in Lee county. When we reached the house with Cousin Bolling, Mrs. Pope – or ‘Cousin Bessie,’ as she says we must call her now– made us feel easy by sending for us to come to her bedroom, as there was no fire in the parlor, and she would not make company of us. She was a Mrs. Ayres, before her marriage to Cousin Bolling, a young widow from Memphis, Tennessee, and very prominent in society there. She is quite handsome, and, having just come from beyond the lines, her beautiful dresses were a revelation to us dowdy Confederates, and made me feel like a plucked peacock. Her hair was arranged in three rolls over the top of the head, on each side of the part, in the style called ‘cats, rats, and mice,’ on account of the different size of the rolls, the top one being the largest. It was very stylish. I wish my hair was long enough to dress that way, for I am getting very tired of frizzes; they are so much trouble, and always will come out in wet weather. We were so much interested that we stayed at Cousin Bolling’s too long and had to run nearly all the way back to the depot in order to catch our train. On the cars I met the very last man I would have expected to see in this part of the world – my Boston friend, Mr. Adams. He said he was on his way to take charge of a Presbyterian church in Eufaula, Alabama. He had on a broadcloth coat and a stovepipe hat, which are so unlike anything worn by our Confederate men that I felt uncomfortably conspicuous while he was with me. I am almost ashamed, nowadays, to be seen with any man not in uniform, though Mr. Adams, being a Northern man and a minister, could not, of course, be expected to go into the army. I believe he is sincere in his Southern sympathies, but his Yankee manners and lingo ‘sorter riles’ me, as the darkies say, in spite of reason and common sense. He talked religion all the way to Smithville, and parted with some pretty sentiment about the ‘sunbeam I had thrown across his path.’ I don’t enjoy that sort of talk from men; I like dash and flash and fire in talk, as in action. We reached Albany at four o’clock, and after a little visit to Mrs. Sims, started home, where we arrived soon after dark, without any adventure except being nearly drowned in the ford at Wright’s Creek.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

coatee dress, 1865

coatee dress, 1865

February 10–Friday– Columbus, Ohio– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 10– Friday– Jefferson City, Missouri– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 10– Friday– Lombardy, Ontario, Canada– Birth of Richard Gardiner Willis, politician and leader of the Conservative Party. [Dies February 24, 1929.]

Richard Gardiner Willis

Richard Gardiner Willis

Busy Tearing Up the Railroad ~ February 1865 ~ the 6th to 8th

Busy Tearing up the Railroad ~ a Union officer

skirmishing in South Carolina

skirmishing in South Carolina

While the governor of South Carolina calls on all citizens to resist the Yankee, Federal troops are busy destroying railroads and burning cotton, just as they did marching through Georgia months ago. While Delaware, a slave-holding state which remained in the Union, rejects the Thirteenth Amendment, five other states ratify it. Snow falls up and down the east coast. Secretary Welles again describes a dysfunctional Congress driven only by party politics– just as today’s Congress. Lincoln sends a thank you letter to William Lloyd Garrison. An obscure Catholic monk presents pioneering scientific research.

February 6– Monday– Jefferson City, Missouri– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 6– Monday– London, England– Isabella Mary Mayson Beeton, cook and author of a popular book on household management, dies at 28 years of age.

Isabella Beeton

Isabella Beeton

February 6– Monday– Antrim, Ireland– Birth of Andrew Claude de la Cherois Crommelin, astronomer and educator. [Dies September 20, 1939.]

February 6– Monday– Kristiansand, Norway– Birth of William Martin Nygaard, publisher and politician. [Dies December 19, 1952.]

February 7– Tuesday– Augusta, Maine– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

13th_Amendment_Pg1of1_AC

February 7– Tuesday– Brooklyn, New York– “We are now having quite a snow storm– it looks as if it would be quite deep. I am rather sorry to see it for it looks hard for the soldiers. I feel disappointed in regard to the peace talks. I was in hopes that we have had war enough. It seems almost impossible that the south can keep up the fight much longer– however I think the president showed a great deal of cuteness in going down to see them and if he only told them that the Union was all he asked [he showed] more statesmanship than I ever gave him credit for. I see that a great many here have not yet given up the idea but what there is something more to come– the desire for a peace on the basis of the Union alone seems so far as I can see meets with universal applause. Well Walt so you have gone to keeping house have you? You must be careful or you will get sick again. I fear you do not live well. I think the great cause of good health is good eating. Keep up the supply of good things. Do you have about the same experience in the Hospitals as you used to? were the men glad to see you back? were any remaining that you used to visit? if so I know they were glad to see you– and it must seem like old times for you to go among them. Do you see many of the friends that you used to know then? I suppose you visit the Hospitals once a day– are there as many in them as there used to be? I hope not– tis so long since we have had any very large battles that I should suppose the Hospitals were not full.” ~ Letter from Jeff Whitman to his brother Walt.

February 7– Tuesday– Dover, Delaware– The legislature rejects the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 7– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “I have your kind letter of the 21st of January, and can only beg that you will pardon the seeming slight occasioned by my constant engagements. When I received the spirited and admirable painting, ‘Waiting for the Hour,’ I directed my Secretary not to acknowledge its arrival at once, preferring to make my personal acknowledgment of the tender kindness of the donors; and waiting for some leisure hour, I have committed the discourtesy of not replying at all. I hope you will believe that my thanks, though late, are most cordial, and I request that you will convey to them to those associated with you in this flattered and generous gift.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln to William Lloyd Garrison.

Waiting for the Hour, a gift to President Lincoln

Waiting for the Hour, a gift to President Lincoln

February 7– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “Very little before the Cabinet. The President, when I entered the room, was reading with much enjoyment certain portions of Petroleum V. Nasby to Dennison and Speed. The book is a broad burlesque on modern Democratic party men. Fessenden, who came in just after me, evidently thought it hardly a proper subject for the occasion, and the President hastily dropped it. . . . Strange how men in prominent positions will, for mere party, stoop to help the erring and the guilty. It is a species of moral treason. J. P. Hale is, as usual, loud-mouthed and insolent in the Senate, belying, perverting, misstating, and misrepresenting the Navy Department. The poor fellow has but few more days in the Senate, and is making the most of them for his hate.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

February 7– Tuesday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “This morning when I awoke I found as did all the troops that I was covered with snow and ice. It had snowed during the night and then turned to rain which froze as it fell. I never felt more uncomfortable in my life and we started fires to try and dry our clothing.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

February 7– Tuesday– Hatcher’s Run, Virginia– In the third and final day of hard fighting, Federal forces defeat Confederate troops, creating an encirclement around Petersburg and Richmond which extends 37 miles, leaving General Lee’s 46,000 soldiers short on supplies and facing General Grant’s 125,000 troops who are well supplied. For this three day battle, Union casualties– dead, wounded, missing– total 1512 while total Confederate losses amount to approximately 1160.

February 7– Tuesday– Topeka, Kansas– The state legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

Governor Andrew Magrath of South Carolina

Governor Andrew Magrath of South Carolina

February 7– Tuesday– Charleston, South Carolina– “The doubt has been dispelled. The truth is made manifest; and the startling conviction is now forced upon all. The invasion of the State has been commenced, our people driven from their homes; their property plundered and destroyed; the torch and the sword displayed, as the fate to which they are destined! The threats of an insolent foe are to be carried into execution, unless that foe is checked and beaten back. I call now upon the people of South Carolina to rise up and defend, at once, their own rights and the honor of their State. . . . Remove your property from the reach of the enemy; carry what you can to a place of safety; then quickly rally and return to the field. What you cannot carry, destroy. Whatever you leave that will be of use to your foe, what he will not need, that will he destroy. Indulge no sickly hope that you will be spared by submission; terror will but whet his revenge. Think not that your property will be respected, and afterward recovered. No such feeling prompts him. You leave it but to support and sustain him; you save it but to help him on his course. Destroy what you cannot remove. . . . You have led the way in those acts which united the people of your sister States in this confederation of States, and their secession from the Government of the United States. You first fired the gun at the flag of the United States, and caused that flag to be lowered at your command. As yet, you have suffered less than any other people. You have spoken words of defiance – let your acts be equally significant. In your sister States, with the people of those States, you have a common sympathy in the determination to be free, and in your hatred of the foe; you will not falter in that strong sympathy which is derived from a common suffering. . . . Rise, then, with the truth before you, that the cause in which you are to arm is the cause of Justice and of Right! Strike, with the belief strong in your hearts, that the cause of Justice and of Right is the cause which a Power superior to the hosts seeking to oppress you will not suffer to be overthrown. And even upon the soil of the State in which this monstrous tyranny was first defied, let it meet the fate it deserves, while imperishable honor will be awarded those who contributed to that great consummation, in which humanity will rejoice.” ~ Message from Governor Andrew Gordon Magrath to the people of South Carolina, published in today’s Charleston Mercury.

February 7– Tuesday– Bamberg, South Carolina– “Marched into Bamberg; five miles. This was a once thriving town on the Charleston and Augusta Railroad. The Fifteenth Corps was busy tearing up the railroad; as we entered the last train to Charleston passed about 4 o’clock that morning. In Bamberg we found an immense quantity of cotton, which was burned.” ~ Diary of a staff officer under Union General Oliver O. Howard.

typical of the South Carolina railroads destroyed by Federal Troops

typical of the South Carolina railroads destroyed by Federal Troops

February 8– Wednesday– Boston, Massachusetts– The Massachusetts legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 8– Wednesday– New York City– “Not so clear but that the Hampton Roads Conference has done good after all by silencing or converting Peace Democrats. . . . Opposition papers . . . say in substance, more or less distinctly, ‘Since the South refuses to negotiate about peace, except on the basis of recognition and disunion, there is nothing left but to fight it out.’ Strange they have been so long in coming to that conclusion.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

February 8– Wednesday– Harrisburg, Pennsylvania– The Pennsylvania legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 8– Wednesday– Johnson’s Island, Ohio– “I am forced to reiterate the familiar cry – no letter. It is a consolation to know that a portion of my letters reach you. But I look daily for the batch of old missives that have been detained by the way. Letters from Aunt Mary, Ira and Carrie Sanders have been received. The information those contained relieved my anxiety about affairs at home. The suspense had been unutterably painful. On every Wednesday night there is held a small prayer-meeting in my room. The old familiar songs are sung, the loved [ones] at home are remembered in prayers of men familiar with every experience of grim-visaged war. There are none on earth I love better. Monroe was before me; the dear old church hard by my grandmother’s home, the other scarcely less dear from kindred associations, those whom I have so often met within their sacred walls. I have abiding faith that I shall one day meet them as of old.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Henry Mc Daniel to his sweetheart Hester C. Felker.

Henry McDaniel

Henry McDaniel

February 8– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “I am called on by the House of Representatives to give an account of my interview with Messrs. Stephens, Hunter & Campbell; and it is very desirable to me to put in your despatch of February 1st to the Secretary of War, in which among other things you say ‘I fear now their going back without any expression from any one in authority will have a bad influence.’ I think the despatch does you credit while I do not see that it can embarrass you. May I use it?” ~ Private message from President Lincoln to General Grant.

February 8– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Rained all day yesterday– slush– bright this morning and cool– ground still covered with snow. It is reported by General Lee that the losses on both sides on Monday were light, but the enemy have established themselves on Hatcher’s Run, and intrenched; still menacing the South Side Railroad. It is also said fighting was going on yesterday afternoon, when the dreadful snow and sleet were enough to subdue an army! We have nothing from Charleston or Branchville, but the wires are said to be working to Augusta.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

February 8– Jacksonville, Florida– “The military force is so small here now, that the rebels are giving us some annoyance. Dickinson’s band of cavalry, about two hundred strong, is in this vicinity, and have recently captured several small parties of our soldiers, amounting, in all, to over a hundred men. Our Schools are in a flourishing condition; we have an average attendance of one hundred and sixty. I have organized a sewing-school – the children bringing such work as they have – and we teach them to mend, and patch, and the older ones to cat by patterns, which we prepare for them. It is an interesting sight to see my sewing school; and the delight of the smaller ones, who are being initiated into the mysteries of making rag babies, is comical to see. It is the best I can do, we have so little to do with besides. I have great faith in the knowledge which comes to children through their dolls. Last Saturday, I visited thirty-seven different families, white and black, in town. I wish I could give you some idea of the difference between the two– equally poor, equally dirty and destitute! The whites, have a hopeless, listless appearance; and no words of encouragement or cheer seem to reach them. They do not hesitate to beg, and are full of complaints. There is no elasticity in them; with the blacks, it is just the opposite: they are cheerful, willing to work, do not beg or complain, and are far more hopeful objects to labor for.” ~ Report from Esther H. Hawks to the New England Freedmen’s Aid Society.

Dr Esther H Hawks

Dr Esther H Hawks

February 8– Thursday– Brunn, Moravia, Austrian Empire– Gregor Mendel, age 43, a Catholic friar, presents his first paper on plant genetics to the Nature Research Society.

Gregor Mendel

Gregor Mendel

After Eighty Years of Wandering ~ February 1865~ 4th to 6th

After Eighty Years of Wandering ~ William Lloyd Garrison

1850_Liberator_HammattBillings_design

As the constitutional amendment begins to be ratified, Garrison, the radical abolitionist, speaks publicly about the long struggle. Some Southerners see the amendment only fueling the flames of on-going war. Lincoln reports, sadly, to his cabinet about the failed peace effort. Whitman is back in Washington, visiting wounded soldiers and working for his brother’s release. Fighting in South Carolina escalates.

February 4– Saturday– Boston, Massachusetts– “At last, after eighty years of wandering and darkness, of cruelty and oppression, on a colossal scale, towards a helpless and on unoffending race, of necromancy to all the Heaven-attested principles enunciated by our revolutionary sires in justification of their course; through righteous judgment and fiery retribution; through national dismemberment and civil war; through suffering, bereavement and lamentation, extending to every city, town, village and hamlet, almost every household in the land; through a whole generation of Anti-Slavery warning, expostulation and rebuke, resulting in wide spread contrition and repentance; the nation, rising in the majesty of its moral power and political sovereignty, has decreed that liberty shall be ‘Proclaimed throughout all the land, to all the Inhabitants thereof,’ and that henceforth no such anomalous being as slaveholder or slave shall exist beneath the stars and stripes, within the domains of the republic . . . . friends and strangers stop me in the streets, daily, to congratulate me on having been permitted to live to witness the almost miraculous change which has taken place in the feelings and sentiments of the people on the subject of slavery, and in favor of the long rejected but ever just and humane doctrine of immediate and universal emancipation. Ah, sir, no man living better understands or more joyfully recognizes the vastness of that change than I do. But most truly can I say that it causes within me no feeling of personal pride or exultation. God forbid! But I am unspeakably happy to believe, not only that this vast assembly, but that the great mass of my countrymen are now heartily disposed to admit that, in disinterestedly seeking, by all righteous instrumentalities, for more than thirty years, the utter abolition of slavery, I have not acted the part of a madman, fanatic, incendiary, or traitor, but have at all times been of sound mind, a true friend of liberty and humanity, animated by the highest patriotism, and devoted to the welfare, peace, unity, and ever increasing prosperity and glory of my native land!” ~ Speech by William Lloyd Garrison.

William Lloyd Garrison

William Lloyd Garrison

February 4– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “There was yesterday no meeting of the Cabinet. This morning the members were notified to meet at twelve meridian. All were punctually on hand. The President with Mr. Seward got home this morning. Both speak of the interview with the Rebel commissioners as having been pleasant and without acrimony. Seward did not meet or have interview with them until the President arrived. No results were obtained, but the discussion will be likely to tend to peace. In going the President acted from honest sincerity and without pretension. Perhaps this may have a good effect, and perhaps other-wise. He thinks he better than any agent can negotiate and arrange. Seward wants to do this.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

February 4– Saturday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia, That our senators and representatives in congress be requested to procure, if possible, an amendment to the act of congress, approved June 3rd, 1864, entitled ‘An act to provide a national currency, secured by a pledge of United States bonds, and to provide for the circulation and redemption thereof,’ so as to allow state banks having branches to become national banking associations under the said act, and still use a portion of their capital for banking purposes and keep offices of discount and deposit at the several places where such branches are now located. Resolved further, That the president of the senate and speaker of the house of delegates be directed to certify and forward a copy of these resolutions to each of our senators and representatives in congress.” ~ Adopted by the state legislature.

February 4– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “As you see by the date of this, I am again back in Washington. I spend a portion of my time around among the Hospitals as formerly. I find quite a good many bad old lingering wounds, & also a good many down with sickness of one sort or another & the latter are receiving accessions every day– especially as they appear to be breaking up the Corps Hospitals in front, down in Grant’s army– a good many of the men have been sent up here– day before yesterday I saw a string of over a hundred ambulances, bringing up the men from the depot, to distribute them around to the different Hospitals. My health is pretty good, & I remain in good spirits considering. I have a little employment here, of three or four hours every day. It is regular, & sufficiently remunerative. Sundays I spend most of the day in the Hospitals– during the week a few hours from time to time, & occasionally in the evening.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his friend Abby H. Price.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

February 4– Saturday– Petersburg, Virginia– “I am once more safely in camp, after having undergone the most disagreeable hardship I ever experienced. Just think of my being on the road since the morning of the 26th. I missed connection at the first depot, and at every other junction between Georgia and Virginia. I found my brigade just returned from another raid in the direction of Weldon. They were very much fatigued, and represented the trip as having been much more severe than the former. I was fortunate in missing it, don’t you think so? above all they are not whipped. While the people (a part of them) are ready for reconstruction. The soldiers are very much displeased with the situation of affairs in Georgia, and I expect some of them, will receive some raking documents.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee Maggie Cone.

February 4– Saturday– Charleston, South Carolina– “We have heretofore stated that the entire industry and property of the Cotton States rested upon their great products– cotton, rice and sugar. It is not to be supposed that any man who sells a cake of soap, or drives a ten-penny nail, is a political economist. We all know that grog-shop keepers are, by right of possession, and prima facie, statesmen. It is the privilege of their profession to talk as much nonsense as bad liquor and a maudlin state of brains can induce them to utter. We shall not, therefore, attempt to enlighten upon an abstruse question, those who have not laid the foundations of knowledge upon which we might hope to build our argument comprehensible to them. But for men who desire to think who are in earnest to arrive at the bottom of the truths which now press upon us, and upon our posterity after us, we will illustrate the truth of the political aphorism, with which we have headed our article this morning – that all property comes out of the ground – and the industry, labor and property of the Cotton States is based upon its products – cotton, rice and sugar.” ~ Charleston Mercury.

February 4– Friday– southern South Carolina– “Marched to the Salkehatchie; camped near Buford’s Bridge. General Howard having fought his way across at Binnaker’s Bridge, this strong point was abandoned without a struggle. We had, however, to rebuild the causeway across the marsh that borders the river. This causeway, two miles in length and containing twenty-seven small bridges over the little rivers of the marsh.” ~ Diary of a staff officer under Union General Oliver O. Howard.

Union General Oliver O Howard

Union General Oliver O Howard

February 5– Sunday– New York City– “I most cheerfully write the note you request to General Grant, though I do not know that it will be of any service. I enclose it to you, for the reason that in the new aspect of the Exchange question you may not think it worth mailing. Since your letter was written, the statement has been published (and you have doubtless seen it) that Grant has made the arrangements for a general exchange which is to be begun immediately, and carried on with all possible promptitude. It may be, and I trust will be, that under these circumstances your brother will be at once exchanged in the general mode. However, I leave this for you to decide by what you may have heard when you get this. Hoping you are now in health and that your lost brother may soon be restored to you and his mother.” ~ Letter from John Swinton to Walt Whitman.

John Swinton

John Swinton

February 5– Sunday– Albany, Georgia– “Went to church at Mt. Enon, and did my best to listen to Dr. Hillyer, but there were so many troops passing along the road that I could keep neither thoughts nor my eyes from wandering. Jim Chiles came home to dinner with us. He always has so much news to tell that he is as good as the county paper, and much more reliable. I have a letter from Lily Legriel asking me to make her a visit before I go home. She is refugeeing in Macon, and I think I will stop a few days as I pass through.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

February 6– Monday– Augusta County, Virginia– “We have little or nothing to do. How do you like your berth by this time. Have they done anything with you for staying at home over your time? I am anxious to hear about this and you must write immediately. I have not heard from home since you left. Expect a letter daily. What do you think of Peace by this time? I think that before bright Spring shall unfold her sunny wings the loud toxin of war will have peaked her clamor and peace and harmony will reign once more in our beloved land. At least this is my hope. Oh! would it not be delightful for us all to be gathered at home once more and pursue the peaceful avocations of life. You and I would again devote ourselves to our books and attempt to make ourselves men. You must write soon I will be anxious to hear from you.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier A.M. Chacky to his brother Ed.

February 6– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “There was a Cabinet-meeting last evening. The President had matured a scheme which he hoped would be successful in promoting peace. It was a proposition for paying the expenses of the war for two hundred days, or four hundred millions, to the Rebel States, to be for the extinguishment of slavery, or for such purpose as the States were disposed. This in few words was the scheme. It did not meet with favor, but was dropped. The earnest desire of the President to conciliate and effect peace was manifest, but there may be such a thing as so overdoing as to cause a distrust or adverse feeling. In the present temper of Congress the proposed measure, if a wise one, could not be carried through successfully.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

Gideon Welles

Gideon Welles

February 6– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “As you see by the date of this, I am back again in Washington, moving around regularly, but not to excess, among the hospitals. . . . My health is pretty good, but since I was prostrated last July, I have not had that unconscious and perfect health I formerly had. The physician says my system has been penetrated by the malaria– it is tenacious, peculiar and somewhat baffling– but tells it will go over in due time. It is my first appearance in the character of a man not entirely well. The talk here is about the late Peace Conference– the general statement accepted is that it has been a failure and a bubble– even the war is to go on worse than ever– but I find a few shrewd persons whose theory is that it is not at all sure of its being a failure– they say that the President and Mr. Seward are willing to avoid at present the tempest of rage which would beat about their heads, if it were known among the Radicals that Peace, Amnesty, every thing, were given up to the Rebels on the single price of re-assuming their place in the Union– so the said shrewd ones say the thing is an open question yet. For my part I see no light or knowledge in any direction on the matter of the conference, or what it amounted to, or where it left off. I say nothing, and have no decided opinion about it– not even a guess (but rather leaning to the generally accepted statement above). My dear friend, I haven’t your last letter at hand to see whether there is anything that needs special answer. I hope to hear from you often.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his friend John Townsend Trowbridge.

John Townsend Trowbridge

John Townsend Trowbridge

February 6– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– “Bright and frosty. As I supposed, the peace commissioners have returned from their fruitless errand. President Lincoln and Mr. Seward, it appears, had nothing to propose, and would listen to nothing but unconditional submission. The Congress of the United States has just passed, by a two-thirds vote, an amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery. Now the South will soon be fired up again, perhaps with a new impulse– and WAR will rage with greater fury than ever.~ Diary of John Jones.

February 6– Monday– Charleston, South Carolina– “The recent movements of the enemy have been much delayed by the recent rains. On Thursday last the hostile forces were on opposite banks of the Salkahatchie, our own troops having fortified the bridges and principal fords. Too much reliance, it seems, was placed upon the effectiveness of the river and the swamps which skirt it, as a bar to the enemy progress. On Friday afternoon, the Yankees plunged, waist deep, into the stream, between Broxton and Rivers’ Bridges, and also above Rivers’ Bridge, thus flanking our defensive positions with a heavy column on either side, and compelling our troops to fall back to Branchville, behind the Edisto. Previous, however, to our retreat, the fighting at Rivers’ Bridge was quite sharp, and lasted several hours. It was rumored yesterday that the 47th Georgia Regiment had suffered severely at this point. During Thursday Wheeler did good service, holding the enemy in check and inflicting severe damage upon him. The Augusta train came through last evening, but the train from Charleston did not go farther than Branchville. Our readers need not be surprised to hear today that Sherman has struck the main stem of the South Carolina Railroad, at some point above Branchville.” ~ Charleston Mercury.

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.

13th_Amendment_Pg1of1_AC

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.