Tag Archives: Native Americans

A 19th Century Investigative Reporter

Helen Hunt Jackson (1830–1885) was a poet, novelist and essayist who became an advocate for Native American rights, fighting for improved treatment of Natives by the US government. She detailed the adverse effects of previous actions taken against Indian tribes in her history A Century of Dishonor (1881). Her novel Ramona dramatized the in Southern California and attracted considerable attention to her cause.

Helen Maria Fiske was born October 18, 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts, the daughter of Nathan Welby Fiske and Deborah Vinal Fiske, a writer. Nathan Fiske was professor of Language and Philosophy at Amherst College. Helen had a sister Anne and two brothers, both of whom died soon after birth.
Deborah Fiske died of tuberculosis in 1844 when Helen was fourteen. Nathan Fiske died in 1847 in Jerusalem while on a trip to the Holy Land, but he had provided for her education and had arranged for an aunt to care for her.

Helen attended the highly regarded Ipswich Female Seminary and the Abbott Institute, a boarding school run by Reverend J.S.C. Abbott in New York City, receiving an excellent education for the times. At Abbott, Helen was a classmate of one of America’s most distinguished poets Emily Dickinson, also from Amherst. The two remained close and corresponded for the rest of their lives, but few of their letters have survived.

In 1852 at age 22, Helen married Edward Bissell Hunt, a captain in the U.S. Corps of Engineers. For the next 11 years, she and her husband followed the typically mobile life of a career military family. They had two sons, one of whom, Murray Hunt, died as an infant in 1854 of a brain disease.

The Civil War years were not kind to Helen and her family. In 1863 her husband was killed in an accident while experimenting with a one-man submarine he had invented. Her only surviving son, Horsford “Rennie” Hunt, died of diphtheria in 1865 at age nine.

In the winter of 1873-1874 on her doctor’s advice Helen visited Colorado Springs, Colorado in search of a cure for a respiratory ailment when she met a wealthy local banker and railroad executive William Sharpless Jackson. She married Jackson on October 22, 1875 and made Colorado her home. They had no children.

Literary Career
After losing all her family members, Helen took up residence in Newport, Rhode Island, where she and her husband had previously been stationed. After meeting Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a soldier, social reformer and author, Jackson decided to seriously pursue a writing career. With Higginson’s support, her initial literary efforts were devoted to children’s stories, travel sketches, poetry and essays under the pseudonyms “H.H.”

Helen Hunt Jackson became perhaps the most prolific woman writer of her era in the country. Many of her pieces appeared in the New York Independent, Nation, Atlantic and other periodicals. Her early work also included a volume of poetry, Verses (1870). Ralph Waldo Emerson admired her poetry and used several of her poems in his public readings. He included five of them in his anthology Parnassus.

From 1875 to 1877, Jackson published three novels, including Hetty’s Strange History and Mercy Philbrick’s Choice, in which Emily Dickinson was part-model for the heroine. In time, Jackson would produce more than 30 books and hundreds of articles. She most likely would have become better known without the pseudonyms, but popular convention of the time dictated that female writers conceal their true identity.

On a trip back east in 1879 Jackson attended a lecture in Boston by the Ponca Chief Standing Bear, who described the forcible removal of the Ponca Indians from their Nebraska reservation and transfer to the Quapaw Reservation in Indian Territory, where they suffered from disease, climate and poor supplies. This piqued her interest.

Jackson promised to help raise funds for the Ponca People so they could return to their homeland. She wrote a friend, “I have done now, I believe, the last of the things I have said I would never do. I have become what I have said a thousand times was the most odious thing in the world – a woman with a cause.”

Social Reform
Although Jackson continued her other writing, the Native Americans became her primary concern. Upset about the mistreatment of American Indians by government agents, Jackson started investigating and publicizing government misconduct, circulating petitions, raising money for lawsuits and writing letters to the New York Times, attempting to arouse public opinion on behalf of the Indians’ deteriorating condition.

She engaged in heated exchanges with federal officials over the injustices committed against American Indians. Among her special targets was US Secretary of Interior Carl Schurz, whom she once called “the most adroit liar I ever knew.” She exposed the government’s violation of treaties with the Indian tribes and documented the corruption of US Indian agents, military officers and settlers who encroached on and stole Indian lands. The book caused a national sensation.

Jackson’s political activism won the support of several newspaper editors who published her reports about broken treaties, dishonest deals and unfulfilled promises. Among them were William Hayes Ward of the New York Independent, Richard Watson Guilder of the Century Magazine and publisher Whitelaw Reid of the New York Daily Tribune.

In 1881 she wrote what she considered her most important book, A Century of Dishonor. She sent a copy of the book to each member of Congress with a quote from Benjamin Franklin printed in red on the cover: “Look upon your hands: they are stained with the blood of your relations.” The book condemned state and federal Indian policy, detailed the history of broken treaties and called for significant reform in government policy toward Native Americans.

The New York Times later wrote that she:

soon made enemies at Washington by her often unmeasured attacks, and while on general lines she did some good, her case was weakened by her inability, in some cases, to substantiate the charges she had made; hence many who were at first sympathetic fell away.

Jackson went to southern California for rest. Having been interested in the area’s mission and the Mission Indians on an earlier visit, she began an in-depth study. Under its original land grants, the Mexican government provided for resident Indians to continue to occupy the mission lands. After taking control of the territory in 1848, US policies led to their removal from mission lands.

In 1882 President Chester A. Arthur appointed Jackson, along with translator Abbott Kinney, Special Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1882 – the first woman to hold that position. Her assignment was to visit the Mission Indians in Southern California, ascertain the location and condition of various bands, and determine what lands should be purchased for their use.

In 1883 Jackson and Kinney published their 56-page report, which recommended extensive government relief for the Mission Indians, including the purchase of new lands for reservations and the establishment of more Indian schools. Jackson’s call for “some atonement” for past neglect and injustice was not acted upon by government authorities.

Inspired by her friend Harriet Beecher Stowe, Jackson wrote:

I am going to write a novel, in which will be set forth some Indian experiences in a way to move people’s hearts. People will read a novel when they will not read serious books. If I could write a story that would do for the Indian one-hundredth part what Uncle Tom’s Cabin did for the Negro, I would be thankful the rest of my life.

Although Jackson started an outline in California, she began writing the novel in December 1883 in a New York hotel room, and completed it in about three months. Originally titled In The Name of the Law, she published it as Ramona (1884). The story features Ramona, an orphan girl who was half Indian and half Scots and her Indian husband Alessandro, and their struggles for land of their own.

Ramona dramatized the mistreatment of Indians in Southern California, although its popularity was based on its romantic and picturesque qualities rather than its political content. The characters were based on people known by Jackson and incidents which she had encountered. The book achieved rapid success among a wide audience and was popular for generations; it was estimated to have been reprinted 300 times.

A fall at her Colorado Springs home in June 1884 left Jackson with a severely fractured leg. However, she returned to California to visit friends and continue writing. While there, she was diagnosed with cancer, and never returned to Colorado.

Her last letter was written to President Grover Cleveland:

From my death bed I send you a message of heartfelt thanks for what you have already done for the Indians. I ask you to read my Century of Dishonor. I am dying happier for the belief I have that it is your hand that is destined to strike the first steady blow toward lifting this burden of infamy from our country and righting the wrongs of the Indian race.

Helen Hunt Jackson died of stomach cancer on August 12, 1885 in San Francisco, California. Her husband arranged for her burial on a one-acre plot on a high plateau overlooking Colorado Springs, Colorado. Her grave was later moved to Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs. Her estate was valued at $12,642.

One year after her death the North American Review called Ramona “unquestionably the best novel yet produced by an American woman” and named it, along with Uncle Tom’s Cabin, one of two most ethical novels of the 19th century. Sixty years after its publication, 600,000 copies had been sold. There have been over 300 reissues to date and the book has never been out of print.

Helen was described as “the most brilliant, impetuous and thoroughly individual woman in her time.” She rose above personal tragedy and became one of the most successful writers of her day. She included as her friends, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Oliver Wendell Holmes. Through her dedication to Indian reform during the last five years of her life, she wrote herself into American history.


Election Year 1892 ~ April


There exist some tensions and rivalries in both the Republican and Democratic parties. Corporations increase in number and wealth. Women battling for their civil rights see little progress in the fight for the vote. Striking miners provide a foretaste of the labor struggles yet coming this year. Black people and Native Americans continue to be exploited. Germany is selling arms in Africa. Anarchists stir the pot as they can. And the incumbent president will replace a deceased Supreme Court justice in an election year without blind resistance from the opposition party.

April 1–Friday– Idaho–Mine owners across the state begin a lockout against 3,000 striking miners.

April 5–Tuesday– Lithonia, Georgia–A white mob lynches five black men.

April 7– Thursday– New York City– “Not all the men who were brought to the front in politics by the popular revolution of 1890 have justified the expectations of their supporters; some, indeed, who were elevated to important positions have proved miserable failures, and will very speedily be relegated to the obscurity out of which they were lifted. But there are some among the new men who were projected into Congress by that upheaval who have demonstrated genuine capacity, and are likely to impress themselves upon the legislation and policy of their time. Among these is Hon. William J. Bryan [1860–1925], of Nebraska, who was elected to Congress on the platform of tariff reform by a phenomenal majority in a strong Republican district, and has since attained, by a single speech, a commanding position in the House. Mr. Bryan, who is thirty-two years of age, is a man of fine appearance, of indomitable purpose and solid intellectual qualities, which make him a dangerous antagonist. He is a lawyer by profession, and is assisted in the preparation of cases by his young wife, who studied law and was admitted to the Bar in order that she might make herself more truly his helpmeet.” ~ Frank Leslie’s Weekly [Mary Elizabeth Baird Bryan is a year younger than her husband whom she married in 1884. Encouraged by her husband, she studied law at the Union College of Law in Chicago, Illinois, and was admitted to practice in November, 1888. Dies January 21, 1930.]


Mary Pickford


April 8– Friday– Toronto, Ontario, Canada– Birth of Gladys Louise Smith a/k/a Mary Pickford who will appear in more than 175 films and become one of the co-founders of United Artists. [Dies May 29, 1979.]

April11– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Now, therefore, I, Benjamin Harrison, President of the United States, do hereby declare and make known that all of the lands embraced in said reservation, saving and excepting the lands reserved for and allotted to said Indians and the lands reserved for other purposes in pursuance of the provisions of said agreement and the said act of Congress ratifying the same and other the laws relating thereto, will, at and after the hour of 12 o’clock noon (central standard time)on the 15th day of April, A. D. 1892, and not before, be opened to settlement under the terms of and subject to all the terms and conditions, limitations, reservations, and restrictions contained in said agreements, the statutes above specified, and the laws of the United States applicable thereto.” ~ Presidential proclamation opening lands taken by treaty from the Sioux to settlers.

April 11– Monday– Florence Italy– Birth of Francesca Bertini [born Elena Seracini Vitiello] who will become the premiere actress in Italian silent films. [Dies October 13, 1985.]


President Benjamin Harrison


April 12– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Now, therefore, I, Benjamin Harrison, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested by the statutes hereinbefore mentioned, also an act of Congress entitled ‘An act making appropriations for the current and contingent expenses of the Indian Department and for fulfilling treaty stipulations with various Indian tribes for the year ending June 30, 1892, and for other purposes,’ approved March 3, 1891, and by other of the laws of the United States, and by said agreement, do hereby declare and make known that all of said lands hereinbefore described acquired from the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians by the agreement aforesaid, saving and excepting the lands allotted to the Indians as in said agreement provided, excepting also the lands hereinbefore described as occupied and claimed by the Wichita and affiliated bands of Indians, or otherwise reserved in pursuance of the provisions of said agreement and the said act of Congress ratifying the same, and other the laws relating thereto, will at the hour of 12 o’clock noon (central standard time), Tuesday, the 19th day of the present month of April, and not before, be opened to settlement under the terms of and subject to all the conditions, limitations, reservations, and restrictions contained in said agreement, the statutes above specified, and the laws of the United States applicable thereto.” ~ Presidential proclamation opening other Indian lands to settlers.

April 14– Thursday– New York City– “There can be no doubt at all that Senator Hill has injured his Presidential chances by his recent Southern tour. All the influential newspapers of that section agree in saying that his speeches were disappointing to the people, revealing the low and artful partisan rather than the enlightened statesman, and that very many Democrats who were at first disposed to give him their support are now convinced that success under his leadership would be impossible. They had expected to hear an intelligent discussion of principles and policies, but were treated to the drivel of the pot-house politician. They had expected to meet a man with strong and positive convictions, but their visitor evaded every important issue, and if he had convictions, obscured or concealed them by artifices of speech. . . . . No one who has been at all familiar with Senator Hill’s methods and has closely studied the man will be surprised at this result. The truth is that David B. Hill does not possess a single quality of genuine statesmanship. He has never, as to any question or measure, displayed that breadth and loftiness of spirit which characterizes the true publicist. He is a machine politician, pure and simple. He has made his way so far by what a contemporary aptly describes as a ‘comprehending sympathy with the heeler, ballot-box stuffer, the manipulator of returns, the vote-buyer, and all who are adepts in the dodges of the criminal side of politics.’ It is the cold truth that ‘every potency and agency for good, political, religious, and moral, in his State, abhors him as a man without principle or conscience.’ . . . . Thoughtful Democrats . . . are unwilling that the party standard should be committed to a man who has nothing to recommend him but the fact that he is an expert in political crime. So overwhelming is this growing sentiment that even in this State, if the question of his candidacy could be submitted to the Democratic voters for an expression of the real wishes of the party, without pressure or intimidation of any sort, he would, as we believe, be beaten two to one.” ~ Frank Leslie’s Weekly [Hill (1843– 1910) was a lawyer and career politician who served as governor of New York State from 1885 to 1891 and in the U S Senate from 1892 to 1897. At this point he has been vigorously seeking the Democratic nomination.]


Senator David B Hill


April 15– Friday– Schenectady, New York– The General Electric Company is established through the merger of the Thomson-Houston Company and the Edison General Electric Company.

April 15– Friday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– Reliable sources indicate that Republican delegates to the national convention from this city will go to the convention as uncommitted.

April 15– Friday– Indianapolis, Indiana– It appears that all of the delegates from Indiana to the Democratic convention will support Grover Cleveland rather than Isaac P Gray, the former governor of the state. [Gray, 1828–1895, served in the Union Army during the Civil War. In 1876, upset by corruption in the administration of President Ulysses S Grant, Gray switched from the Republican to the Democratic Party.]

April 16– Saturday– Rochester, New York– A reporter asks Susan B Anthony what she thinks about the woman suffrage bill slowly making its way through the state legislature in Albany. She replies, “I am highly pleased, and I hope it will fare well . . . but I am not very enthusiastic. The cup has been brought to my lips so often and then dashed away that I have learned no to be too confident.” [Women will not gain the vote in New York until 1917.]

April 17– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– Dr Gardner, the physician taking care of First Lady Caroline Lavinia Scott Harrison, reports that she is feeling a little better, despite her hard cough and her fever. [She will struggle with illness throughout the coming months and will die on October 25th, 24 days after her 60th birthday.]


First Lady Caroline Harrison


April 17– Sunday– Paris, France– Britain and France are discussing ways to prevent arms sales to Africans, noting that partisans in Upper Niger and in Dahomey are armed with modern German-made rifles.

April 19– Tuesday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– In a move which speculators and dealers will describe as “a coal war”, the Pennsylvania Railroad announces a drastic cut in the rate it charges to haul coal, an effort to lure business away from other railroads.

April 20–Wednesday– Denmark–In national elections for the Folketing (literally, “the people’s thing”), the parliament, 63.8% of eligible voters cast ballots. The conservatives win 34.8% of the vote, taking 31 of 102 available seats. The center-right party captures 30 seats, the moderates 39 seats and the socialists only 2 seats.

April 21– Thursday– New York City– “The expressions of the newspaper press and of all the [state] political conventions which have recently been held go to show that there is practically no opposition to the renomination of President Harrison. There are a few political leaders who, out of disappointment at their failure to use the President for their own purposes, would be very glad to rally a more or less formidable opposition to him, but so far they have not succeeded in finding any candidate who is likely to commend himself at all to the national convention. Senator Cullom, who was at one time named as a candidate, has formally withdrawn from the field. Senator Allison will probably be presented by Iowa, but he has explicitly stated that he does not desire the nomination. . . . Taking the field as a whole, all the conditions are favorable to the practically unanimous renomination of the present executive. In proof of this statement we could fill our columns with extracts from the leading independent and Republican papers of the country.” ~ Frank Leslie’s Weekly

April 22– Friday– Washington, D.C.– Democratic leaders here assert that Indiana supporters of former governor Isaac P Gray are “indulging in . . . the sheerest nonsense” and the overwhelming majority of Democrats favor Grover Cleveland.

April 22– Friday– Louisville, Kentucky– At a meeting local Democrats express support for Grover Cleveland. “We believe him to possess the confidence of the masses to a greater extent than any other living American and that his nomination will carry the country by storm.”

April 23– Saturday– Buffalo, New York– Many prominent Republicans in the western part of the state favor Chauncey M Depew, age 58, a lawyer and president of the New York Central Railroad, instead of President Benjamin Harrison.

April 23– Saturday– London, England– The funeral of Mary Mowbray, wife of the labor organizer and anarchist Charles W Mowbray, takes place. The ceremony, with no religious component, provides an opportunity for anarchists and socialists to demonstrate. Some carry signs saying “Remember Chicago”, referring to the Haymarket bombing incident of 1886 after which 8 anarchist were arrested, put through a show trial in front of a biased judge and sentenced to death. Four were hanged and one committed suicide. Three remain in prison, two serving life sentences, one a sentence of 15 years. [Next year Illinois Governor John Peter Altgeld will pardon those three and release them from prison. On the Haymarket affair, see: The Haymarket Tragedy (1984) by Paul Avrich; The History of the Haymarket Affair; a Study in the American Social-revolutionary and Labor Movements (1936) by Henry David; and on Governor Altgeld, see: Eagle Forgotten: the Life of John Peter Altgeld (1938) by Harry Barnard.]


Memorial to the Haymarket Martyrs


April 27– Wednesday– Bangor, Maine– Republicans select delegates committed to James G Blaine to represent the state at the Republican national convention.

April 27– Wednesday– London, England– In Parliament, the House of Commons defeats a woman suffrage bill with 175 votes against it and 152 in favor. Suffrage leaders are pleased that the vote is that close.

April 28– Thursday– New York City– “There is an indication that the President is finding some difficulty in securing a successor to Justice [Joseph] Bradley, of the Supreme Court, owing to the meager salary paid these officials. One gentleman who is alleged to be eminently equipped for the Supreme Court bench is said to have declined the appointment on the ground that he cannot afford to accept it, being now in receipt of an income from his practice some ten times greater than the salary paid to judges. Of course the consideration of salary does not as a rule enter into the question of acceptance of this high position, but it would not diminish the dignity of the office if that salary should be more in proportion to the responsibility and excellent character of the services required of its incumbent.” ~ Frank Leslie’s Weekly [Bradley was a Republican from New York who died January 22, 1892 at age 78. President Harrison will nominate George Shiras, a Republican from Pennsylvania, age 60, to take his place. The Senate will confirm Shiras on July 26th– there will be no debate about whether or not the incumbent president could or should fill the vacancy on the court.]


the late Justice Bradley


April 29– Friday– Washington, D.C.– From the states of New York, Maine and Colorado there seems to be increasing opposition among some Republicans to the renomination of President Harrison.

April 30– Saturday– London, England– Rumors declare that the recent visit by U S warships to Buenos Aires, Argentina, is a veiled attempt to forge an anti-British alliance between the United States and Argentina. American officials strongly deny the allegations.

Womens History~ Helen Hunt Jackson


Helen Hunt Jackson


Helen Fiske Hunt Jackson, poet, author, social researcher and advocate for Native Americans, was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, on October 15, 1830. By the time she was 18, she and her sister were orphans. However, their father had provided for their education. On October 28, 1852, she married Lieutenant Edward Hunt, a brother of New York’s Governor Washington Hunt. She bore two sons to Hunt, both of whom died as children. Hunt himself died in an accident in October of 1863. Ms Hunt began her writing career after the death of her husband. She was a life-long friend of the poet Emily Dickinson and became a friend of Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Ralph Waldo Emerson. While traveling in Colorado for her health she met William Jackson, a wealthy Quaker, whom she married on October 22, 1875. With the advantages of her husband’s wealth, Ms Jackson was free to pursue her social and political interests as well as her poetry and fiction writing. A fiery and prolific writer, Ms Jackson engaged in heated exchanges with federal officials over the injustices committed against Native American tribes. Among her special targets was the Secretary of Interior, Carl Schurz, whom she once labeled “the most adroit liar I ever knew,” as she exposed the government’s violation of numerous treaties with the tribes. She documented the corruption and misdealings of Indian agents, military officers, and white settlers stole reserved native lands. Ms Jackson won the support of several newspaper editors who published her reports, including editor William Hayes Ward of the New York Independent, Richard Watson Gilder of the Century Magazine, and publisher Whitelaw Reid of the New York Daily Tribune. Her dramatic and well-documented expose, Century of Dishonor, appeared in 1881 and her romantic novel about the same issues, Ramona, was published in 1884. Helen Hunt Jackson died of cancer on August 12, 1885 in San Francisco, California.


Century of Dishonor continues to be in print and her novels and poems remain available to interested readers. For information about her life, See: Lives of Girls Who Became Famous (1886) by Sarah K Bolton; Report of Mrs Helen Hunt Jackson and Abbot Kinney on the Mission Indians in 1883 (1887); Helen Hunt Jackson (1939) by Ruth Odell; Helen Hunt Jackson (1987) by Rosemary Whitaker; Westward to a High Mountain: the Colorado Writings of Helen Hunt Jackson (1994) edited by Mark I West; She Wields a Pen: American Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century (1997) edited by Janet Gray; Helen Hunt Jackson and Her Indian Reform Policy (1997) by Valerie Sherer Mathes; The Indian Reform Letters of Helen Hunt Jackson, 1879-1885 (1998) edited by Valerie Sherer Mathes.

bk pix-2805

Women’s History~ Mary C Wheelwright

Young Mary wheelwright-web

Mary C Wheelwright, c.1905


Mary Cabot Wheelwright, anthropologist, philanthropist and museum founder, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on October 2, 1878. She was her parents’ only child, born when her father Andrew was 51 and her mother Sarah was 42. Mary’s mother Sarah was a close friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson and raised Mary in the religious liberalism of the Transcendentalists and the Unitarian Church. The family had substantial wealth from its Yankee trading origins. Although Andrew and Sarah took their daughter traveling through Europe, Egypt, and California, they were extremely protective. Mary had little formal education but read widely in things which interested her, including music and history. Although obliged to “knuckle under and do just what she was told,” she developed and held to her own strong opinions. She involved herself in social projects such as helping to develop a music school at a Boston settlement house. Her father died in 1908 and her mother in 1917, leaving Mary a small fortune in trust and the freedom to live the life she chose. In 1918, shortly before her 40th birthday, Mary Wheelwright arrived in the town of Alcalde, New Mexico, with her cousin, Evelyn Sears. Soon she was an enthusiastic Westerner, devoted to trail riding, camping, and convincing cowboys “that it was possible to be a good sport and also drink tea.” After becoming friends with Hasteen Klah, an esteemed Navaho “singer”, that is a traditional healer, she committed herself to the preservation of New Mexico’s historic and cultural Navaho legacies. In addition to founding the Museum of Navajo Ceremonial Art in 1936-37 (now the Wheelwright Museum), Mary Wheelwright made significant contributions to the Indian Arts Fund, the New Mexico Historical Society, and the Spanish Colonial Arts Society. She bought a cottage on Sutton’s Island where she lived when not traveling in Europe, India or the western United States. When a book of ballads collected in Maine was about to be published without the tunes, she brought a musicologist to gather the music and thereby enriched the publication at her own expense. Becoming friends with Fannie Hardy Eckstorm, she helped to fund Ms Eckstorm’s work in the preservation of history and culture of Native American people in Maine. Ms Wheelwright died at Sutton’s Island on July 19, 1958.


Wheelwright Museum


For more information about her, see: Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement Six, 1956– 1960 (1980) pp 687-88; her own incomplete draft of an autobiography entitled “Journey Towards Understanding” can be found in A Quilt of Words: Letters & Original Accounts of Life in the Southwest, 1860– 1960 (1988) compiled by Sharon Niederman. No book length biography has yet been written. Her papers can be found at the Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

wheelwright historical marker--0fe7_l

The Perfection of Campaigning~ November 1864~ 28th to 29th

The Perfection of Campaigning ~ Henry Hitchcock.

Chief Black Kettle

Chief Black Kettle

Confederate efforts in Georgia fail to stop the Federal advance. Mary Chesnut despairs. Both sides prepare for a major battle in Tennessee. Militia in Colorado massacre Native Americans.

November 28– Monday– Englewood, New Jersey– Birth of Mary Katherine Jones Bennett, educator, leader in home mission and interdenominational work in the United Presbyterian Church. The second of two daughters of Henry and Winifred Jones, Mary Katherine will work energetically for civic improvement, the advancement of women, especially in the church, and with Carrie Chapman Catt and Jane Addams in the cause of world peace. [Dies April 11, 1950.]

women for peace -- 1915

women for peace — 1915

November 28– Monday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “We learn that a number of guerrillas entered West Warren, Monongalia county, early one morning last week, and after a sharp skirmish with some home guards succeeding in robbing a store and stealing several horses. The report says the rebels lost two of their men.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

November 28– Monday– near New Market, Virginia– “I wrote you a line & enclosed with [it] a letter from Margaret but thinking you might fail to get it I shall again write. I wish you to purchase 80 to 120 yards good cotton cloth I also wish you to exchange $1000 [paper money] for Gold. You can check on the Bank in the name of H & E Ott. Mess Tyler & son will assist you, you will also have to get [a] check for enough in addition to the $1000 to pay for the cotton cloth buy so cheap as you can in buying a good article also if you buy or have bought the Beaver cloth for Margaret & Jinnie. The mail is leaving & I must close. . . . Write to me at Home & request them to sent it to me.” ~ Letter from Henry Ott to his brother Enos Ott in Richmond.

November 28– Monday– Staunton, Virginia– “I seat my self to let you know how I am getting on – this leaves me in very good health hoping this will reach you in due time & find you enjoying all the rich blessing I can wish – I have no news to write – I am very anxious to hear from you as it has been18 days since I have had a letter from you – they have been coming in 6 days – I think I will be certain to get one tonight as you stated you was poorly when you wrote – I am afraid you are sick . . . if I stay here I will get a 60 days furlough this winter as they give all the attendants furloughs I don’t know how it will be with me at the regiment about getting a furlough . . .. I hope by the spring we can all come home to stay & enJoy our selves as before – you must excuse my short letters as I write every week – you must write every chance & let me no how you are getting on – I desire a intrust in your prayers.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier John Jarrett to his wife Mary.

November 28– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– Guards arrest thirteen patients at the Winder Hospital on gambling charges.

Sherman's troops on the march

Sherman’s troops on the march

November 28– Monday– Petersburg, Virginia– Based upon news from a fellow soldier, a man writes, “Sherman with his army passed through Cedartown a few days before he left. Camped around Cedartown one night. They burned every house in town that was not occupied: Court house, all the storehouses, grocers, blacksmith shops and every house that there was no person living in. They take and kill everything as they go. Kill all the stock, ducks, chickens, &c., take all the provisions both for beast and man. I did not hear what they did to Father’s. I expect they tore him up. They went out to old Mrs. Battle’s and tore open all her feather beds and poured them out in the middle of the floor, poured three sacks of salt on them and a sack of wheat bran and a jug of vinegar and stirred them all together. My dear, I am very uneasy about you. I ought to have received a letter from you three or four nights ago, but still I hear nothing. I fear the mail has been stopped to that point. If so, I do not know what I will do. hope things will soon get quiet in that department and Sherman and all of his army be captured but that is almost one of the impossibilities. I don’t want you to become frightened should they ever get there, for I don’t think they will try to hurt you or insult you, unless you should say something out of the way. I would give everything I am worth to be there.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to his wife in Georgia.

November 28– Monday– Columbia, South Carolina– “We dined at Mrs. Mc Cord’s. She is as strong a cordial for broken spirits and failing heart as one could wish. How her strength contrasts with our weakness. Like Doctor Palmer, she strings one up to bear bravely the worst. She has the intellect of a man and the perseverance and endurance of a woman. Poor Cheves’ beautiful young widow was there– not yet twenty, and for more than two years in widow’s caps. She has a touchingly pathetic smile. It enhances her beauty wonderfully. We have lost nearly all of our men, and we have no money, and it looks as if we had taught the Yankees how to fight since Manassas. Our best and bravest are under the sod ; we shall have to wait till another generation grows up. Here we stand, despair in our hearts.” ~ Diary of Mary Chesnut.

Mary Chesnut

Mary Chesnut

November 28– Monday– near Louisville, Georgia– “Thus we approached Ogeechee [River] at two points– one column at Louisville, which is ten to twelve miles above railroad bridge, and other three columns coming towards railroad bridge across the Ogeechee which is at Station 10. Meanwhile Kilpatrick has gone far round to the North from Milledgeville via Sparta, with orders to choose his own road and strike and cut R.R. at or near Waynesboro, between Augusta and Millen, thence to come down on Millen if possible with dash and rescue prisoners and again cut Savannah railroad below Millen. Today’s march on sandy roads, and through woods chiefly pines, though as yet we still see oaks and other trees. Good farms along the traveled roads, and crops have all been good. We see hardly any cotton – corn almost exclusively instead – for which we are much obliged. We often laugh over J.D.’s [Confederate President Jefferson Davis] idea that Sherman’s army will be starved out. Never was an army so bountifully supplied.” ~Diary of Henry Hitchcock.

destroying Georgia railroads

destroying Georgia railroads

November 28– Monday– Buckhead Creek, Georgia– Confederate forces attempting to stop or slow General Sherman’s drive toward to coast attack Union troops but suffer a serious defeat. Federal losses– killed, wounded and missing– are 46; Confederate casualties total approximately 600.

John Chivington

John Chivington

November 28–Monday– Sand Creek, Colorado–At night 700 militia under John Chivington, using four artillery pieces, launch a surprise attack upon the camp of the Cheyenne. They kill 105 women and children and 28 mostly unarmed men. The Cheyenne had an American and a white flag clearly flying over their camp.

Sand Creek memorial

Sand Creek memorial

November 28– Monday– Shelbyville, Tennessee; near Davidsborough, Georgia; Waynesborough, Georgia; Goresville, Virginia; Cow Creek, Kansas; west of Cumberland, Maryland– Raids and skirmishes.

November 29– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– The Passport Bureau of the State Department asserts that “there is no distinction made to regard to color. Passports can be obtained by any one complying with the regulations.”

November 29– Tuesday– Moffett’s Creek Virginia– “Mr Junkin held sacramental meeting last Sabbath– commencing Friday he had no assistance, had a very slim congregation Friday but pretty good Saturday and Sunday. Text on Sunday in 21st chapter John, verse 16. Words ‘Lovest thou me’– he preached a very impressive sermon, and was listened to with attention. Oh that the word preached may find lodgment and bring deep conviction to many hearts, that many may ask themselves ‘do I love Jesus’ & Seek Him and find Him precious to their souls. I believe I have nothing new or strange to write. Aunt Mag wrote you a few lines in which I suppose she told you some news. Please write soon and all the news you can and believe me to be your affectionate Niece.” ~ Letter from Hannah to her uncle Enos Ott.

November 29– Tuesday– Spring Hill, Tennessee– After heavy skirmishing, a force of 7,000 Federal troops, along with artillery and all their supplies, eludes the 12,000 soldiers of John Bell Hood’s Confederates and successfully joins other Union forces at Franklin, Tennessee.

November 29– Tuesday– near Rocky Creek, Georgia– “Certainly this is the perfection of campaigning. Since we left Sandersville I have seen nothing of an enemy. We know, however, that it is dangerous to go off the roads or to get either before or behind the army. But no orders nor danger can prevent squads of men going off foraging, and only yesterday a lieutenant and small party were ‘gobbled’ in our rear on the very road we had just come over in the morning. And this though it is well understood that to be made prisoner probably means to have one’s throat cut at once.” ~ Diary of Henry Hitchcock.


November 29– Tuesday– Smith’s Spring, Tennessee; Hunt’s Crossroads, Tennessee; Rally Hill, Tennessee; Mount Carmel, Tennessee; Thompson’s Station, Tennessee; Louisville, Georgia; Boyd’s Landing, South Carolina; Charles Town, west Virginia; Doyal’s Plantation, Louisiana; near Dardanelle, Arkansas– Engagements, tussles, firefights and clash of arms.

I Am Still Spared~May 1864~15th to 18th

I Am Still Spared ~ a Confederate soldier

Hard fighting. Many losses of various types. Someone uses President Lincoln’s name to perpetrate a false alarm in the North.

fighting at Rescaca, Georgia

fighting at Rescaca, Georgia

May 15– Sunday– Resaca, Georgia– “Ever since we have been lying close in trenches, but in our front the fighting has not been general. The enemy has out a strong skirmish line and sharpshooters behind every tree and shelter. They shell us continually and to expose your head one second is to draw a dozen bullets. . . . Yesterday evening [the] enemy threw out a strong line, drew in our skirmishers and attempted under cover of night to assault our works. We fired a large building and lit up the field and opened [fire] on them with a dozen pieces of artillery, repulsing the attack. We are certainly having a desperate struggle.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to his father.

May 15– Sunday– Atlanta, Georgia– “There seems to be an extraordinary interest exhibited in religious works at the present time. The First Baptist Church continues to be crowded night after night, and many persons are seeking the way to become Christians. At Wesley Chapel, the revival progresses with unabated zeal and interest, and accounts from various parts of the army state that our soldiers are enlisting in great numbers under the banner of the Most High.” ~ Daily Intelligencer.

May 15– Sunday– Camden County, Georgia– “Another Sabbath. We almost dread them. They are such days of idleness and wickedness. Read letters from Ophelia and Julia. We are so anxious to hear from the North and wonder they do not write oftener. Everybody there seems flourishing. Here we are on the last squeeze– plenty of confederate money, but nothing to buy. . . . Have been nearly sick the past week with my cold– when the weather is settled and warm, hope to be better of it. It is said that so cold a spring had never been known here. We still find fires and thick clothing comfortable. Had I a home how eager I would be to fly. I want to go North and have some enjoyment of life once more. I am there almost every night in my dreams, but the home is always lacking. If we go North, where shall we go? The future is very dark. Today I am trying to console myself that day must soon dawn.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

May 15– Sunday– Rome, Georgia; Dardanelle, Arkansas; Mount Pleasant Landing, Louisiana; Centre Star, Alabama; Avoyelles, Louisiana; Armuchee Creek, Georgia; Piney Branch Church, Virginia– Raids, engagements and bloody bouts.

May 15– Sunday– Copenhagen, Denmark– Birth of Vilhelm Hammershoi, painter. [Dies February 13, 1916.]

May 16– Monday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “A soldier by the name of Bridges, was robbed on Saturday night of fifty-six dollars in greenbacks, under the following circumstances. He says he was walking up Main street, with a woman whose acquaintance he had lately formed and when near the corner of Union and Main streets, he was approached by two men who appeared to be acquainted with the woman, and who under pretense of being offended at finding the woman in presence of a stranger, fell up on Bridges and beat him violently. Bridges being intoxicated was incapable of making much resistance, and upon feeling for his money a few minutes afterwards he discovered that he had been robbed. Bridges thinks he can identify the thieves.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.



May 16– Monday– near Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia– “Still in entrenchments keeping watch and ward. Artillery firing is kept up by both sides but little real fighting has been done today.” ~ Diary of Union officer Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

May 16– Monday– near Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia– “We have had the best of the fighting so far and its my opinion that General Grant has got Lee in a pretty tight spot. We had a severe fight here on the 12th and the loss was heavy on both sides . . . . The Army is in first rate spirits and everyone seems confident and hopeful. I have not time to say much at present Mother but when I do get time I will write you a good long letter. You must not feel at all worried about me but take things Cool and comfortable as I do and above all don’t worry.” ~ Letter from Union soldier George Whitman to his mother Louisa.

May 16– Monday– near Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia– “Thanks be unto a merciful God that after twelve or fourteen days marching and fighting, I am still spared to say ‘My dear Molly.’ I have made many narrow escapes and passed through many dangers. I had one of my friends, a Mr Curry killed by my side. The other night while asleep, he and I were sleeping together, the ball struck him in the breast, he awoke me struggling, but before I could get a light he was dead, poor fellow, he never knew what hit him. . . . All the honor that I ask [for], is to get home after our independence is gained to enjoy the love and affection of my dearest wife and sweet little children. Molly, my mind is not composed and you must excuse this badly written letter but the most important [thing] is to know that I was still safe on the 16th of May. As for the morn, let us trust in God and leave the routine in his hands.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier W A Stilwell to his wife Molly.

canon at Spotsylvania

canon at Spotsylvania

May 16– Monday– Beersheba Springs, Tennessee– “Yesterday I could not write. On Saturday evening commenced a headache, at 1o’clock it was raving—I had hot cloths applied from that hour until 12 next day– together with vinegar, camphor, laudanum, sweet oil, steaming etc. I drank assafoetida —salts of tartar; and swallowed odious pills, all to no purpose, one pain bored thru my eyes—another at right angles bored thru the ear—my neck, teeth, nose, all ached—my temples burned and throbbed—at 12 o’clock in a fit of desperation I ordered a cup of tea and a cracker, swallowed them and in two minutes was entirely relived of pain!” ~ Journal of Lucy Virginia French.

May 16– Monday– along the Smokey River, Kansas– Lean Bear, age 51, a chief of the Southern Cheyenne, peaceful and unarmed, is murdered by Federal militia from Colorado.

Cheyenne dance

Cheyenne dance

May 16– Monday– Ratliff’s Landing, Mississippi; Big Bushes, Kansas; Dry wood Creek, Missouri; Smith’s Plantation, Louisiana; Pike County, Kentucky; along the Ashepoo River, South Carolina– Artillery duels, raids, affrays and struggles.

May 17– Tuesday– Washington, D. C.– “A painful suspense in military operations. It is a necessary suspense, but the intense anxiety is oppressive, and almost unfits the mind for mental activity. We know it cannot be long before one or more bloody battles will take place in which not only many dear friends will be slaughtered but probably the Civil War will be decided as to its continuance, or termination. My faith is firm in Union success, but I shall be glad when faith is past.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

May 17– Tuesday– Washington, D. C.– “I herewith lay before the Senate, for its constitutional action thereon a treaty concluded on the 7th instant in this city between William P. Dole, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and Clark W. Thompson, superintendent of Indian affairs, nowhere superintendency, on the part of the United States, and the chief Hole-in-the-day and Mis-qua-dace for and on behalf of the Chippewas of the Mississippi, and the Pillager and Lake Winnibigoshish bands of Chippewa Indians in Minnesota. A communication from the Secretary of the Interior of the 17th instant, with a statement and copies of reports of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs of the 12th and 17th instant, accompany the treaty.” ~ Message from President Lincoln to the Senate.

May 17– Tuesday– Spotsylvania, Virginia– “We have had no fighting for four days and both Armies are building earthworks. . . . I am well and happy and feel that at last the Army of the Potomac is doing good work. Grant is a fighter and is bound to win. May God help him to end the war. We hope to see Richmond soon and humble the pride of the men who brought on this wicked war.” ~ Diary of Union officer Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

May 17– Tuesday– near Drewry’s Bluff, Virginia– “I would have written you sooner but have not had an opportunity of doing so from the fact that we have been fighting constantly ever day for the last ten days and I am very sorry to say that Company D, has suffered very much. We have seen fourteen of our company since the fight commenced killed, wounded & missing. . . . I feel very thankful that I have come off safe so far. Dear sis I would write more but have not time to do so & this is all the paper I have.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier A. H. Byars to his sister.


May 17– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Attention to the Wounded. While the detailed men are absent on the defenses other assistance has become indispensable to the wounded. Such ladies as are experienced nurses are requested to visit or send their servants [slaves] to Howard’s Grove, (Mechanicsville turnpike,) Winder and Jackson, (near Hollywood Cemetery,) and Receiving (17th Street) Hospitals. Those who cannot render this aid are requested to contribute such delicacies as are usually furnished for the sick. We are desired to make this request by a prominent officer of the Medical Department, and the humane may rest assured that their efforts in behalf of our wounded are really needed.” ~ Richmond Dispatch.

May 17– Tuesday– Shelby County, Tennessee– “Oh! most miserable day– Mrs Perkins [who supports the Union] almost made me mad at her deep distress– Poor, poor Nannie, my heart aches for her, would to God I might be the medium through which all could be made happy– Miss Em is so widely different in her political feeling, there will never be any happiness, I fear, with poor Nannie. May God guide the dear child, keep her firm to the cause she has espoused, may she never have her pure, noble Southern feelings polluted with Yankee treachery or tyranny – keep her firm and true to her noble Brother Dashiell and his Country rights– she dreams not, but oh! my heart trembles and bleeds for her in this great trial and affliction.” ~ Diary of Belle Edmondson

May 17– Tuesday– Adairsville, Georgia– Confederate forces fight a delaying action against General Sherman’s advancing army. Federal casualties total 200. Confederate losses are unknown.

site of Adairsville battle as it looks today

site of Adairsville battle as it looks today

May 17– Tuesday– Camden County, Georgia– “Had a letter from Julia with $2.00 enclosed, saying she had one hundred more for me. The amount looks well but where is the value. Am not able to buy a single article and cannot take it North. No one wishes for the money. All have more than they want. No one has anything to sell. All want to buy. We could sell the last article from our backs. Mr. Fisher had a pair of shoes made by one of the pickets. The soles were from the mill belting, the vamps from coon skin tanned at home, and the quarters of cowhide. They are too hard for his sore feet, but they will probably sell for about ten dollars. His feet are nearly ruined by bad shoes. . . . The South are full of hope for their cause, the accounts we get are certainly not cheering for them.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

Gideon Welles

Gideon Welles

May 18– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Mr. Seward informed me that a forged proclamation had been published by sundry papers in New York, among others by the World and Journal of Commerce, imposing a fast on account of the failures of Grant and calling for a draft of 300,000 men. Seward said he at once sent on contradicting it . . . . He then had called on Stanton to know whether such a document had passed over the regular telegraph. Stanton said there had not. . . . Seward then asked if the World and Journal of Commerce had been shut up. Stanton said he knew of their course only a minute before. Seward said the papers had been published a minute too long; and Stanton said if he and the President directed, they should be suspended. Seward thought there should be no delay. Gold, under the excitement, has gone up ten per cent . . . . It seems to have been a cunningly devised scheme– probably by the Rebels and the gold speculators, as they are called, who are in sympathy with them.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

Minute Mass of Proof~April 1864~21st to 23rd

Minute Mass of Proof ~New York Times

More and more becomes known about the Fort Pillow massacre. The Sanitary Fair in New York City raises a small fortune for the work of the Commission. Walt Whitman continues to receive support for his work with the sick and wounded. A Yankee woman serving as a doctor causes a stir in Richmond because– gasp!– she wears pants just like a man! A young Southern woman is threatened with arrest for aiding the rebels. The United States signs a treaty with some Native Americans but will never keep the promises. Soldiers write home. The world continues turning.

seal of Sanitary commission

April 21– Thursday– Salem, Massachusetts– “I have been very much interested in your hospital work, of which I have heard through my brother, Dr. Russell of Boston. I inclose seventy-five dollars, which I have collected among a few friends in Salem, and which I hope may be of some little service to our brave boys, who surely should not suffer while we have the power to help them. You have our warmest sympathy in your generous work, and though sad to witness so much suffering, it is indeed a privilege to be able to do something to alleviate it. I hope to be able to send you an addition to this contribution, and thought of waiting for a larger sum, but I see that you are having numbers of sick sent in to Washington daily, so you will be in immediate want of money.” ~ Letter from Lucia Jane Russell Briggs, the wife of the pastor of the First Parish Church, to Walt Whitman. [Her $75 would equal $1150 in today’s money, using the Consumer Price Index.]

April 21– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “There was a pleasant party at our house last evening, with an attendance of about three hundred. All passed off pleasantly, and all who expressed themselves seemed much gratified, as we were. It is spoken of as one of the most agreeable parties of the season.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

April 21– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– The Senate ratifies a treaty between the United States and Red Lake and Pembina bands of Chippewa Indians. In key parts the treaty provides that in return for the ceding of valuable lands in Minnesota and in lieu of previously agreed annuities, the “United States will also expend annually, for the period of fifteen years, for the Red Lake band of Chippewas, for the purpose of supplying them with gilling-twine, cotton mater, calico, linsey, blankets, sheeting, flannels, provisions, farming-tools, and for such other useful articles, and for such other useful purposes as may be deemed for their best interests, the sum of eight thousand dollars: and will expend in like manner, and for a like period, and for like purposes, for the Pembina band of Chippewas, the sum of four thousand dollars. . . . [and] to furnish said bands of Indians, for the period of fifteen years, one blacksmith, one physician, one miller, and one farmer; and will also furnish them annually, during the same period, with fifteen hundred dollars worth of iron, steel, and other articles for blacksmithing purposes, and one thousand dollars for carpentering, and other purposes.” [The United States will default on all of these provisions.]

April 21– Thursday– Morton Hall, Virginia– “Every thing seems to work well this & by God’s blessing I think it will be to us the most successful year of the war – Every thing here is very quiet but the storm may come at any time. I think we are ready for it & that we shall succeed. Everything here is as quiet as the country away from the army – we only see the soldiers now & then as they go to or return from picket. The General intends to go into camp in a day or so, so that we may get used to it. The grass is very nice & green here & our horses are doing well – if we can stay here a short time they will improve much. The Chief Commissary sent us some fine fish today – I wish I could send mine up to you – they issue good rations to our troops, better than ever before – but corn meal is the only bread stuff they issue now.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Jedediah Hotchkiss to his wife, Sara.

April 21– Thursday– Memphis, Tennessee– “I went round according to appointment, met Captain Woodward at 11 o’clock. Colonel Patterson went with me. Captain Woodward had not seen the Provost Marshall, he went as soon as I left, came round to Mrs. Facklen’s after dinner, and brought bad news. . . . he could not treat me as the order read– it was issued from old [Union General] Hurlbut, I was to be arrested and carried to Alton [Ohio] on first Boat that passed– for carrying letters through the lines, and smuggling, and aiding the Rebellion in every way in my power– he sent me word I must not think of attending Jennie Eave’s wedding, or go out of doors at all, he would be compelled to arrest me if it came to him Officially, but as my Father was a Royal Arch Mason, and [he] a Mason, he would take no steps, if I would be quiet.” ~ Diary of Belle Edmondson.

April 21– Thursday– Camden County, Georgia– “Mrs Linn and baby thrive well. She has nothing to live on but corn meal and rice; but she is very uncomplaining and bears all patiently. We are making inquiries of all we see if there is anything in the shape of edibles to be found in the county; but nobody knows of anything– not a point! The pickets are living on field peas and rice, and the animals are suffering. There is money enough and nothing to buy.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

April 21– Thursday– off the coast of Velasco, Texas– The British ship Laura, trying to run the blockade, is seized by a Union warship.

April 21– Thursday– Tunica Bend, Louisiana; Cotton Plant, Arkansas; Harrison’s Gap, Alabama; Masonborough Inlet, North Carolina; Cane Patch, South Carolina– Hit-and-run fights, raids and bloody affairs.

April 21–Thursday– Erfurt, Germany– Birth of Max Weber, sociologist, philosopher and political economist. [Dies June 14, 1920.]


Max Weber at age 30

Max Weber at age 30

April 22– Friday– New York City– “The massacre stands without a parallel – words can give no adequate idea of the blood and destruction. Evermore the place will be held in horror and known as the spot where the blackest deed of the war recorded itself.” ~ New York Times comments about Fort Pillow.

April 22– Friday– Dayton, Ohio– John Dobbins, a deserter from the Union Army, is hanged for murdering a Mr Lindenwood during a drunken brawl in February of 1863. “One of the clergymen present then offered up a prayer, after which Dobbins arose and repeated some original lines of poetry, commencing ‘Adieu to all, of high or low degree,’ when the Sheriff adjusted the noose about his neck. He was perfectly calm; he assisted the Sheriff in the adjustment of the rope by moving his head, so as to accommodate the noose; and he several times cautioned the officers to ‘be sure that the rope was fixed right, so as to do the deed quickly.’ These were his last words, and he shook hands with the Sheriff, who stepped from the fatal platform. The next instant, at precisely 10 1/2 o’clock, the trap sunk, and Dobbins passed into eternity. The dreadful work had been done most thoroughly.” ~ as reported in the New York Times on April 24.

April 22– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “The female Yankee surgeon captured by our pickets a short time since, in the neighborhood of the army of Tennessee, was received in this city yesterday evening, and sent to the Castle in charge of a detective. Her appearance on the street in full male costume, with the exception of a gypsy hat, created quite an excitement amongst the idle Negroes and boys who followed and surrounded her. She gave her name as Dr. Mary E. Walker, and declared that she had been captured on neutral ground. She was dressed in black pants and black or dark talma or paletot. She was consigned to the female ward of Castle Thunder, there being no accommodations at the Libby for prisoners of her sex. We must not omit to add that she is ugly and skinny, and apparently above thirty years of age.” ~ Richmond Sentinel. [Walker (1832-1919), a trained and advanced thinking physician, wore a modified officer’s uniform because of the demands of traveling with soldiers and working in field hospitals, but kept her hair long so that people would know she was a woman. She carried two pistols at all times and occasionally smoked a cigar as did Generals Grant and Sherman. Upon their recommendation she will be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. See Dr Mary Walker: The Little Lady in Pants by Charles McCool Snyder (1962).]


Dr Mary E Walker wearing her Medal of Honor

Dr Mary E Walker wearing her Medal of Honor

April 22– Friday– Orange County, Virginia– “Mag, you’ve spoiled me writing to me so often, and if you don’t continue I am afraid I will go craving you to please write to me oftener, for awhile, at least until the coming campaign commences. I wish I could write you an entire letter without a single reference to military affairs; but being directly in the war, how can I do otherwise? The day appointed by President Davis and recommended by our beloved commander, General Lee, for fasting and prayer, was, I am proud to say, properly observed in our brigade. Prayer meeting was held twice, and two excellent sermons delivered on that day. Since that time I have seen Mr. Hyman, a Baptist minister of Thomas Georgia Brigade, baptize and receive into the Baptist church, nine of our best soldiers. On the night of the same day, quite a number were sprinkled into the Methodist Church. We were to be reinforced from some point. Subsequent events have proven that we were right in our conjectures. From all accounts Longstreet’s corps is undoubtedly at Charlottesville, about twenty-five miles from this place. There is no doubt now that our brigade will in a few days be reinforced by the addition of the sixty third Georgia Regiment, for some time stationed in Savannah, and the tenth Georgia Battalion.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee.

April 22– Friday– Camden County, Georgia– “There is a better state of things today. Kate has sent us a nice piece of beef and Mrs. Linn a piece also. The cows are now coming in and we shall fare very well with milk.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

 April 22– Friday– Wortley, England– Birth of Phil May, one of the finest cartoonist and caricature artists of the nineteenth century. [Dies August 5, 1903.]


Phil May~self portrait

Phil May~self portrait

April 23– Saturday– New York City– “There is now an overwhelming and painfully minute mass of proof of the truth of the first reports of the rebel massacre of our troops, black and white, at Fort Pillow. We have had, and have given, the evidence of eye-witnesses, the evidence of victims offered in their last moments, the evidence of persons who visited the scene of the butchery immediately after it, and we have had other evidence not less conclusive, such as the arrival at Cairo of some of the bodies, which bore upon them marks of the worst barbarities charged against the rebels. It now only requires the official statement of the officers appointed to investigate the matter, to furnish irrefragable proof for history. It was super-serviceable labor on the part of any one to deny the massacre, in behalf of the rebels. Jeff Davis officially proclaimed this to be his policy, and he was backed up in his ferocious proclamation by the whole rebel press. To deny that the rebels would carry out their measure is preposterous to the perception of all of us who know that, atrocious as rebel threats have been, their deeds have always been more bloody than their threats.” ~ New York Times.


activity at the New York Sanitary Fair

activity at the New York Sanitary Fair

April 23– Saturday– New York City– The Sanitary Fair closes today, bringing in close to $1,000,000 for the work of the U S Sanitary Commission.

Human Bondage Has No Place~April 1864~4th to 6th

Human Bondage Has No Place ~ Senator Reverdy Johnson

A moderate senator from a border state gives a dramatic speech in support of the constitutional amendment to abolish slavery. President Lincoln responds to supporters, young and old, and carries out diplomacy with the Indian nations. President Davis calls for a national day of prayer and fasting. Soldiers and civilians such as Walt Whitman write home about those things which concern them. Hints of the industrial growth and the labor movement which will dominate much of the next fifty years can be seen by keen observers. Preliminary signs suggest that the New York City Metropolitan Fair for the Sanitary Commission will prosper.

patriotic cartoon depicting Lincoln as saving the Union

patriotic cartoon depicting Lincoln as saving the Union

 April 4– Monday– New York City– The Theatrical Workingmen’s Protective Association gives its first annual fancy dress ball at Irving Hall. The New York Times comments, “Numerous ladies and gentlemen connected with the various Theatres, were present during the evening, and by their presence, not only added to the brilliancy of the occasion, but also gave encouragement to the excellent objects of the Association. The arrangements were perfect, and nothing occurred to mar the pleasure of the evening. The Association is now in a very prosperous condition, its objects are good, and they have by this ball, added a handsome sum to their fund. They are a hard working class of men, never prominently brought to notice, and deserve the good will and support of the public.”

April 4– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “I herewith lay before the Senate, for its constitutional action thereon, a treaty concluded June 9, 1863, between C. H. Hale, superintendent of Indian affairs, Charles Hutchins and S. D. Howe, Indian agents, on the part of the United States, and the chiefs, headmen, and delegates of the Nez Perce tribe of Indians in Washington Territory. A report of the Secretary of the Interior of the 1st instant, with a letter from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs of the 2nd ultimo, proposing amendments to the treaty, together with a report of Superintendent Hale on the subject and a synopsis of the proceedings of the council held with the Nez Perce Indians, are herewith transmitted for the consideration of the Senate.” ~ President Lincoln’s message to the Senate.

April 4– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “And now let any Union man who complains of the measure, test himself by writing down in one line that he is for subduing the rebellion by force of arms; and in the next, that he is for taking these hundred and thirty thousand men from the Union side, and placing them where they would be but for the measure he condemns. If he can not face his case so stated, it is only because he can not face the truth. . . . In telling this tale I attempt no compliment to my own sagacity. I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. Now, at the end of three years struggle the nation’s condition is not what either party, or any man devised, or expected. God alone can claim it. Whither it is tending seems plain. If God now wills the removal of a great wrong, and wills also that we of the North as well as you of the South, shall pay fairly for our complicity in that wrong, impartial history will find therein new cause to attest and revere the justice and goodness of God.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln to Albert G Hodges.

April 4– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Heard an excellent discourse yesterday from Bishop Whipple. . . . Had a call from J. P. Hale respecting appointments. This man, so long a Senator, has no comprehensive or statesmanlike views. Would set aside legislative action and law because he thinks it operates hard on a lieutenant whom he knows.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.


General Phil Sheridan

General Phil Sheridan

April 4– Monday– Washington, D.C.– General Philip Sheridan assumes command of the cavalry in the Union Army of the Potomac. [Sheridan, age 33, only 5′ 5″ tall, is an 1853 graduate of West Point.]

April 4– Monday– Orange County, Virginia– “The weather for the past week has been extremely bad and disagreeable, causing us to remain in our houses the greater part of the time; consequently there remained nothing for us to do, but to think, think of the loved ones far away. Day before yesterday morning, I arose from my feather bed all bustin with straw– to again see everything covered with, to us, the beautiful white of snow. But soon the rains came and it all melted away like beautiful frost work before a summer’s sun. It continued to rain throughout the entire day. Yesterday the sun shone out occasionally; but the broken clouds were flying across the heavens in almost every direction, and the wind blowing a perfect gale. As I anticipated, it is again raining, and I do feel so thankful; for the old proverb ‘more rain more rest’ is certainly true in our situation. So long as it continues bad weather we are sure to remain in our present quarters. I know it will not be long before we have to commence anew our marches; but I want to postpone the evil day as long as possible. We all look forward to the approaching campaign with great interest; for we are confident that if successful, twelve months from today, we can see a termination of hostilities between the North and South. All are confident of success, and await only the approach of Grant to show their renewed determination to be free. Don’t despond; but have a brave heart, and encourage the soldiers all you can, and I believe you will soon see a free and happy people.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee.

April 4– Monday– Jacksonville, Florida– “Joe was wounded a little in the head but he is well again and he is so big and fat you would hardly know him if you would see him. Jake is well and William was killed in the last battle we had . . . on the 20th of February. John Chambers and John Henry Carl was killed in the same battle.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Samuel Christy to his sister Mary Jane Demus.

April 5– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “The petition of persons under eighteen, praying that I would free all slave children, and the heading of which petition it appears you wrote, was handed me a few days since by Senator Sumner. Please tell these little people I am very glad their young hearts are so full of just and generous sympathy, and that, while I have not the power to grant all they ask, I trust they will remember that God has, and that, as it seems, he wills to do it.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln to Mary Peabody Mann, widow of the educator and reformer Horace Mann.


Mary Peabody Mann

Mary Peabody Mann

April 5– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “That mighty horde which from time to time have gone from the Atlantic imbued with all the principles of human freedom which animated their fathers in running the perils of the mighty deep and seeking Liberty here are now there, and as they have said they will continue to say until time shall be no more. We mean that the Government in future shall be as it has been in the past, an example of human freedom for the light and example of the world, and illustrating in the blessings and the happiness it confers the truth of the principles incorporated into the Declaration of Independence, that life and liberty are man’s inalienable right. . . . it would be a disgrace to the nation if we could suffer those Africans whom we are now calling around our standard, and asking to aid us in restoring the Constitution and the power of the Government to its rightful authority, to be reduced to bondage again. Upon a question like that the heart gives the answer in advance of the intellect. . . . Why are the Holy Scriptures kept from [slave] hovels? Why? Can there be but one answer; that if they knew what knowledge imparts, if they knew what the gospel of our Savior inculcates, they would be freemen, or sooner or later die in the effort to obtain it? . . . I conclude with saying, not a truth which every Senator here does not feel as strongly as I feel, but with saying what is indelibly engraved upon my soul, that we owe it not only to ourselves and to those who are to follow us, but to humanity, to bring, this war to a successful result. All other considerations should, for a time, be forgotten. One single object should ever be before us– the restoration of the Union; and when it shall, be restored, as I trust in Providence it will be, and unquestionably as it can be, if the power of the Government is exerted as it may be, we shall be restored, I trust, with a Government, National and State, in which human bondage has no place, and when we shall be able to say to the world. ‘However late we were in carrying out the principles of our institutions, we have at last accomplished it. The Union is restored, and slavery is terminated.’” ~ Speech in the Senate by Senator Reverdy Johnson of Maryland, speaking in favor of a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery. [Johnson, age 67, a lawyer who has served in the Maryland legislature and in Congress and opposed secession as treason, is seen as a moderate and has clashed with the radical Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts on numerous issues. His support of the amendment surprises conservatives and other moderates.]

Senator Reverdy Johnson

Senator Reverdy Johnson


April 5– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “We are having awful rainy weather here– it is raining to-day, steady & spiteful enough– the soldiers in camp are having the benefit of it, & the sick, many of them– there is a great deal of rheumatism & also throat diseases, & they are affected by the weather. I have writ to George again . . . . there are many very bad now in hospitals– so many of the soldiers are getting broke down after two years, or two & a half, exposure, & bad diet, pork, hard biscuit, bad water or none at all, &c &c so we have them brought up here. O it is terrible, & getting worse, worse, worse. I thought it was bad to see the wounded, but to see these I sometimes think is more pitiful still. Well, mother, I went to see the great spirit medium Foster, there were some little things some might call curious perhaps, but it is a shallow thing & a humbug– a gentleman who was with me was somewhat impressed, but I could not see any thing in it worth calling supernatural. I wouldn’t turn on my heel to go again & see such things, or twice as much– we had table rapping & lots of nonsense. I will give you particulars when I come home one of these days.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa.

April 5– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– George Pullman, age 33, an engineer and industrialist, patents a folding upper berth for a railroad sleeper car.


George Pullman

George Pullman

April 5– Tuesday– Nashville, Tennessee– “Grant is as good a leader as we can find. He has honesty, simplicity of character, singleness of purpose, and no hope or claim to usurp civil power. His character, more than his genius, will reconcile armies and attach the people. Let him alone. Don’t disgust him by flattery or importunity. Let him alone. . . . As our enemy fills his ranks by conscription, ours dwindle by sickness and furloughs. I am laboring hard to put all on the rolls into position, and still harder to put forward the stores on which they must feed as we advance. The country through which we have marched is cleared of all subsistence and forage, and everything must be sent forward by [railroad] cars and wagons. It is estimated that there are now the carcasses of thirty thousand animals in the valley of the Tennessee. Not one cavalry soldier in ten has a horse, and on a recent visit to Schofield, out of forty-one thousand men who should have, I find but seven thousand in line of battle, but the furloughed men are returning and I will see that by May 1st I have on the Tennessee one of the best armies in the world. You may look to the causes of these apparent incongruities not in the army, but among our people. I shall be here about two weeks, and then to the front. Let me hear from you. I care no more for the squabbles about the Presidency than I do for the causes of the Schleswig-Holstein difficulty, and Grant cares still less.” ~ Letter from General William Tecumseh Sherman to his brother Senator John Sherman.

April 5– Tuesday– Elk River, Tennessee– “I must write short letters now as our summer’s work has begun. We are under marching orders and are getting ready as fast as possible, and yet we may not move for a month.” ~ Letter from Union officer Robert Cruikshank to his wife Mary.

 April 5– Tuesday– Milledgeville, Georgia– The Southern Recorder encourages everyone to participate in the “National Day of Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer” on April 8th as requested by President Davis.

April 5– Tuesday– Natchitoches, Louisiana; Marks’ Mills, Arkansas; Quicksand Creek, Kentucky; near New Madrid, Missouri; Blount’s Creek, North Carolina; Whiteley’s Mills, Arkansas– Skirmishes and fire fights.

April 6– Wednesday– New York City– Caroline Matilda Stansbury Kirkland, age 63, dies in her sleep. She was an author, educator, advocate for female convicts and active in the Sanitary Commission. She published 11 books and a number of essays and short stories in her lifetime.

Caroline Kirkland

Caroline Kirkland


April 6– Wednesday– New York City– “Had to wait a long while in Fourteenth Street this morning while Ellie, the treasuress, was endorsing the pocketful of checks I carried down to the Bank of America. It was a pretty sight: the throng of well-dressed people, the showy decorations, the stalls or counters loaded with all sorts of things, and especially the shoals of nice women with their graceful, diagonal, broad blue ribbons . . . all working in such deadly earnest. . . . I have estimated the proceeds of the Metropolitan Fair as probably not far from $700,000. But there are bets on a million and a half, and all the indications of the last three days point toward something larger than I anticipated.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

 seal of Sanitary commission

A Son Burried Beneath the Sod of Tennessee~December 1863~11th to 15th

A Son Buried Beneath the Sod of Tennessee ~ James Vascoy

Soldiers write of the deaths of comrades, winter conditions, suffer privations, deal with wounds and sickness, long for leave to visit home and continue fighting, particularly in Tennessee. President Lincoln seeks peace with a number of Native American nations while a Southerner speculates on next year’s upcoming presidential election in the North. Americans abroad observe Thanksgiving while Europe seethes with rumors of war. Navy Secretary Welles appreciates the international advantages of the visit by the Russian navy. The family of Walt Whitman has a serious problem. And the world continues to turn, babies born and the promise of change.


December 11– Friday– Athens, Tennessee– “He took from his pocket a Testament and gave it to me and told me to read it and meet him in Glory. He also told me to tell his wife to train up his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and met him in Heaven. . . . . I thank God he has gone to Heaven oh my Dear parents you have a son buried beneath the sod of Tennessee but He rests in Jesus. And will rise at the last day to meet us in Glory if we but prove faithful. The next morning Aaron and I Buried him. Nicely to what all soldiers that fell there was although we had no coffin we dug a Vault and lined it with boards and then enscribed [sic] his named on the tree that we buried him under. And by this time the Regiment had passed and gone and I had to start in a hurrah to overtake them which I did that night.” ~ Letter from Union soldier James Vascoy to his parents in Indiana, describing the battlefield death of his brother Jacob.

December 11– Friday– near Rogersville, Tennessee– A reporter for the Richmond Whig writes that 3500 of General Longstreet’s soldiers are without shoes and coats.

December 11– Friday– Atlanta, Georgia– “Resolved by the General Assembly of Georgia, That the Committee on the State of the Republic, are hereby instructed to consider what action it may be prudent and proper for the authorities of Georgia to take, for the encouragement of the organization of a Volunteer Navy, for the service of the Confederacy, and to increase the number of vessels and seamen engaged in the Naval service; and to report by bill or otherwise, as early as practicable upon the subject.” ~ Resolution adopted today.

December 12– Saturday– New York City– The New York Times updates it readers on events in Europe. “In pursuance of President Lincoln’s Proclamation, the Americans in London observed the 26th of November as a day of Thanksgiving. Business was suspended at the American Legation and Consulates, and a grand banquet was given at St. James Hall, under the Presidency of Robert J. Walker. The banquet was attended by Mr. [Charles Francis] Adams, the secretaries of the Legation, and many prominent Americans. Mr. Lincoln’s Proclamation was read, and Mr. Walker delivered an address on the rebellion and the prospects of its speedy suppression. A prayer was offered up by Mr. Stella Martin, a fugitive slave, and a hymn was snug by the guests. A toast to the President was received with great enthusiasm . . . . The French deficit, owing to the Mexican and Cochin China [Vietnam] wars is reported at £10,000,000. . . . . Two divisions of the Prussian army are under orders to be ready to take the field. They number 35,000 men. A resolution was pending in the Prussian Chamber to place all means at the disposal of the Government for the energetic guardianship of German rights. The Wurtemburg Government urges the immediate occupation of Holstein [claimed by Denmark] by the Federal troops. . . . . Two hundred public functionaries had been arrested at Warsaw [by Russian soldiers], and condemned to deportation to Siberia.”

December 12– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “To-day the Members of Congress very generally visited the Russian fleet. I did not go down, but detailed two steamers which were at the yard to convey the members. Our Russian friends are rendering us a great service. Senator Sumner called, and we had half an hour’s interesting conversation on the topics of the day and times. He compliments my Report.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

Russian naval officers

Russian naval officers

December 12– Saturday– near Greeneville, Tennessee– “I knew you must be very uneasy. I was, dear Molly, in great danger but God delivered me out of all and brought me out without being hurt. I wrote you all the particulars. After our engagement, we learned that Bragg had fallen back from Chattanooga, that the enemy were marching on our rear in heavy force and that in a short time would be upon us front and rear, so there was nothing left us but to retreat as fast as possible. We left at dark on the night of the 4th and marched all night, one of the coldest times I ever saw. . . . . I cannot tell how much I want to see you and the children although I confess that I have lost many of the sweet remembrances of home and friends. I confess that I can hardly realize that I have a sweet wife and two little children. This may seem very strange to you who [are] at and home and [with] those little blessings of heaven around you, but it is nevertheless a fact. This truly is a world of forgetfulness. I often stray off to some sweet place and sit down to think of days that is past and gone, yes, the day when my work was done and come home to meet your smiling face at the door, yes the happiest days of my life. I try to call them to memory but it seems almost like a dream.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier William R Stilwell to his wife Molly.

December 12– Saturday– Adalsbruk, Norway– Birth of Edvard Munch, painter and printmaker whose work will focus on a strongly emotional treatment of psychological themes. His 1893 painting entitled The Scream will become his most famous work.

Edvard Munch, c1921

Edvard Munch, c1921

December 13– Sunday– Franklin County, Pennsylvania– “A warm foggy day. . . . . A good deal of fuss about the rebs to day. Think it is all Bosh.” ~ Diary of Amos Stouffer.

December 13– Sunday– Richmond, Virginia– “The coming year is to be an eventful one. We shall be able (I hope) to put 400,000 effective men in the field; and these, well handled, might resist a million of assailants from without. We have the center, they the circumference; let them beware of 1864– when the United States shall find herself in the throes of an embittered Presidential contest!” ~ Diary of John Jones.

December 13– Sunday– Atlanta, Georgia– “I forgot to say that yesterday I had to whip our woman Caroline for insubordination and impudence to her mistress. I am disgusted with Negroes and feel inclined to sell what I have. I wish they were all back in Africa, or Yankee Land. To think too that this cruel war should be waged for them!” ~ Diary entry of an Atlanta businessman.

December 13– Sunday– Hurricane Bridge, West Virginia; Dandridge, Tennessee; Strasburg, Virginia; Farley’s Mill, Tennessee; Ringgold, Georgia; Meriwether’s Ferry, Arkansas; Germantown, Virginia; La Grange, Tennessee– Skirmishes and raids.

December 14– Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln submits to the Senate and urges ratification of treaties made with various Native American nations: one with the Osage in Kansas; one with the Tabegauche band of the Utah; one with the Sac and Fox; and one with the Comanche, Kiowa and Apache. He declines to see Congressman Fernando Wood (Democrat of New York), who seeks amnesty for Northern sympathizers with rebellion. In the evening the President and his family attend Ford’s Theatre to see James H. Hackett play Falstaff in Henry IV. [Fernando Wood, age 51, was mayor of New York City in 1861 and tried to have the city join the Confederacy. During the election of 1860 he had provided substantial financial backing to the campaign of Stephen A Douglas. At this time he serves in the House of Representatives, having won a seat in the fall of 1862. He has been extremely critical of the Lincoln Administration. His strongest opponent in the House of Representatives is Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, Republican of Pennsylvania. Wood is married to his third wife and has fathered sixteen children.]

December 14– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “I told my surgeon this morning that I was going to start for home Thursday night so as to get home Saturday p.m. He shook his head, but I told him I had the strength of a magnet . . . to draw me and strengthen me for the journey. . . . . Bless you I am so happy at the thought of seeing you that weak as I am I feel as well as ever while I write.” ~ Letter from Union Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain to his wife Fanny.

Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

December 14– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– “We have President Lincoln’s message to-day, and his proclamation of amnesty to all who take an oath of allegiance, etc., and advocate emancipation. There are some whom he exempts, of course. It is regarded here as an electioneering document, to procure a renomination for the Presidency in the radical Abolition Convention to assemble in a few months. But it will add 100,000 men to our armies; and next year will be the bloody year.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

December 14– Monday– Tazewell, Tennessee– “At the crossing of the Clinch River (Evans Ford) I found a sufficient guard, under the command of Colonel Kise. The river was rising quite rapidly, but the guard had raised and repaired the ferry-boat, which was crossing successfully, being pulled back and forth by hand upon a cable stretched from one shore to another. I think that it would be well, as a matter of security, to have another boat built there, and will so notify Colonel Babcock. I found the road from Bean’s Station to Tazewell much better than I expected, and I think that it will prove a passable winter road. When I arrived here this evening it was too dark to see, but I will go over the ground early in the morning. I find that considerable [work] has been done here, and that fortunately there is an officer here with his regiment . . . who is perfectly competent to do whatever may be required in the way of construction.” ~ Report of Union Captain and Chief Engineer O M Poe.

December 14– Monday– Bean’s Station, Tennessee– In a day long see-saw battle, Confederate forces compel the Federals to retreat but are unable to gain any further advantage. Total Confederate losses– dead, wounded and missing– are approximately 900 and approximately 700 for the Union forces.

Bean's Station, 1938

Bean’s Station, 1938

December 14– Monday– Boons Hill, Tennessee; Caddo Mill, Arkansas; Granger’s Mill, Tennessee; Meadow Bluff, West Virginia; Morristown, Tennessee; Catlett’s Station, Virginia; Clinch Mountain Gap, Tennessee– Raids, skirmishes, fire fights and vigorous gun battles.

December 15– Tuesday– Boston, Massachusetts– Birth of Arthur Dehon Little, the eldest of the for sons of Thomas and Amelia Hixon Little. He will become a chemical engineer and pioneer in industrial research, as well as a respected author of scientific writing. He will obtain a number of patents for processes in tanned leather, artificial silk, various petroleum products as well as paper and wood products. Also, he will conceive of the scientific education plan which will become the School of Chemical Engineering Practice at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his alma mater.

Arthur Dehon Little

Arthur Dehon Little

December 15– Tuesday– Springfield Massachusetts– “I came up here to make some surveys and run some levels for a Mr Worthen who has been appointed to make an examination and report on supplying the city with water. . . . . Since that [incident] we don’t allow Jess to come in our rooms, or rather we only allow him to come when he has some errand for Mother. He seems to have quieted down, but I still fear to trust him. He is a treacherous cuss any way. Probably had I been home he would not have done anything of the kind but if he had, so help me God I would have shot him dead on the spot. And I must confess I felt considerably like it as it was. . . . . All this occurred some 10 or 12 days ago and you see how I feel about the matter now. I haven’t written you before because I was afraid to think about it. . . . . Now Walt ain’t there some way in which we can take this immense load from the life of Mother It certainly is telling on her every hour– she is I think failing rapidly– and I am quite sure unless something is done [will] not live but a few years. There are three of us, You, George and I and it seems as if we ought to be able to relieve Mother in a measure of this thing– if Jess is sick why we ought to put him in some hospital or place where he would be doctored There certainly must be plenty of such places and it couldn’t cost much.” ~ Letter from Jeff Whitman to his brother Walt. [Jeff writes about an incident of almost two weeks before when Jess Whitman, the oldest of the brothers, had acted in a rather bizarre and unstable manner, verbally threatening their mother, Jeff’s wife and Jeff’s children. Eventually the brothers will place Jess in an asylum in December of 1864 where he will remain until his death in March, 1870.]


I Believe in a Communion of Saints Such as These

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

Gandhi in 1907 in South Africa

Gandhi in 1907 in South Africa


Chief Joseph

Chief Joseph

Sun Yat-sen

Sun Yat-sen

Julius Nyerere

Julius Nyerere

Toussaint Louverture

Toussaint Louverture