Tag Archives: Tennessee campaign

A More Vigorous Style of Warfare~December 1863~15th to 18th

A More Rigorous Style of Warfare~General Edward Wild

Black soldiers prove themselves in Tennessee, in North Carolina and in Virginia. Of the Union heroes from Gettysburg, General Buford dies and friends seek the promotion of Colonel Chamberlain. President Lincoln seeks improved relations with Nicaragua and with Great Britain. Welles writes about messy Washington politics. Canadians protect some Confederates. Whitman worries about his family. Soldiers write about the discomforts of winter. And the world continues to turn.

December 15– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “The last word I got from home was your letter written the night before Andrew was buried, Friday night, nearly a fortnight ago. I have not heard any thing since from you . . . . Dear mother, I hope you are well & in good spirits. I wish you would try to write to me every thing about home & the particulars of Andrew’s funeral, & how you all are getting along . . . . I am still going among the hospitals, there is plenty of need, just the same as ever. I go every day or evening. I have not heard from George. I have no doubt the 51st is still at Crab Orchard [Kentucky]. ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother.

December 15– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “Seward and Chase were not present at the Cabinet-meeting. The President was well and in fine spirits.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

December 15– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “I really must gladly do all in my power to effect the promotion which you do well deserve. I have today been to the [War] Department to have all the testimonies collected and hope to have it done. I think I may present the entire case to the President within a few days.” ~ Letter from Union General James Rice to Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. [Chamberlain, one of the heroes of the battle at Gettysburg, will not actually be promoted to the rank of general until June, 1864, and then only after being seriously wounded.]


December 15– Tuesday– Columbia, Tennessee– “Permit me to make the following report: I started out last Friday, 11th instant, from Calliak’s with 100 mounted men of the Eighteenth Missouri . . . to press able-bodied Negroes, horses, and mules, leaving one team to each family, the horses and mules to be turned over to Colonel Miller, the Negroes to be put in my regiment now forming at this place, and upon arriving here to-day after a five days hard scout, Colonel Mizner, commanding the post, without any knowledge or consent of me, released 13 Negroes and sent them back . . . . what is to be done in this case?” ~ Memo from Colonel Thomas Downey, Fifteenth U. S. Colored Troops to Union General George Thomas.

December 15– Tuesday– London, England–William Shee is appointed a justice of the Queen’s Bench, the first Roman Catholic to hold a judgeship in England since the Reformation.

December 15– Tuesday– Anina, Romania– The first mountain railway in the country opens with service from here to Oravita.

December 16– Wednesday– Hampton Falls, New Hampshire– Birth of Ralph Adams Cram, the eldest of three children born to William and Sarah Blake Cram. He will become a prominent architect, serving as Princeton University’s supervising architect from 1909 to 1931 and will author 18 books.

Ralph Adams Crum~1911

Ralph Adams Crum~1911

December 16– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– Union General John Buford, West Point Class of 1847 and one of the heroes of the battle at Gettysburg, dies of a fever at age 37. His last words are “Put guards on all the roads, and don’t let the men run to the rear.”

December 16– Washington, D.C.– “Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, do hereby declare and proclaim that so much of the several acts imposing discriminating duties of tonnage and impost within the United States are and shall be suspended and discontinued so far as respects the vessels of Nicaragua and the produce, manufactures, and merchandise imported into the United States in the same from the dominions of Nicaragua and from any other foreign country whatever, the said suspension to take effect from the day above mentioned and to continue thenceforward so long as the reciprocal exemption of the vessels of the United States and the produce, manufactures, and merchandise imported into the dominions of Nicaragua in the same, as aforesaid, shall be continued on the part of the Government of Nicaragua.”

December 16– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “About half past one o’clock yesterday morning, the building on Cary street, opposite the foundry of Messrs. Ettenger & Edmund, owned and used by Lawrence Lottier for grinding snuff and making smoking tobacco, was, with its contents, completely destroyed. Had the fire communicated to several large piles of plank immediately in front of the snuff mill, the destruction of several tobacco factories and stables in the vicinity would have been almost inevitable. The firemen, however, succeeded in suppressing the flames before any damage, other than that above stated, was done. It is not known how the fire originated, but supposed to have been set on fire. Losses quite heavy.” ~ Richmond Sentinel.

December 16– Wednesday– Montpelier, Virginia– “I was truly glad to hear from you again and to hear that all were well and that my noble boy was so smart and improving so fast. There is no use talking how bad I want to see you and him and all of you, but I see no chance now for me to get a furlough this winter. My health is excellent and I am still here guarding this house and premises, and am getting on finely. . . . . I am grateful to you for sympathizing for me when it is cold, but do not indulge in grieving for me, for often when you imagine I am suffering badly, I am comfortably situated. The winter here has been very mild so far for this country, though we have had ice three or four inches thick, we have had no sleet or snow yet. . . . I am delighted with the idea of getting the clothes and many good things you sent me. I hope I will get them safely. I feel and know that I have got the best wife and the best Mother in the world.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.


December 16– Wednesday– Elizabeth City, North Carolina– A force of Union soldiers, about 700 black soldiers under Union General Edward Wild, complete a week’s occupation of the town. In response to the endless sniper attacks and ambushes against his men, General Wild reports, “Finding ordinary measures of little avail, I adopted a more rigorous style of warfare; burned their homes and barns, ate up their livestock, and took hostages from their families.” After the Federal troops leave a Southern newspaper will complain, “On the streets the ladies of the place were jostled by the Negro troops, and had to permit them to walk by their side . . . . The Negro ran riot during the Yankee stay in Albemarle country.” [Edward Wild, age 38, Massachusetts physician, abolitionist and friend of the late Robert Gould Shaw, has served in the Union Army since the war began. By this time his right hand has been crippled by a wound and his left arm amputated at the shoulder because of a second wound. At the request of Governor Andrew of Massachusetts, Wild agreed in April, 1863, to take a command of black soldiers, both because he believes in the fighting abilities of these troops and he carries a deep-seated hatred of the Confederacy.]

General Edward Wild

General Edward Wild

December 16– Wednesday– Sambro, Nova Scotia, Canada– Although in Canadian waters, three United States warships recapture the merchant vessel Chesapeake but the hijackers all manage, with Canadian aid, to escape.

December 16– Wednesday– Madrid, Spain– Birth of George Santayana, philosopher, poet and novelist. Although his parents separate shortly after his birth and his mother is the widow of an American, he will not be brought to the United States until 1872. He will teach at Harvard from 1889 to 1912. His students will include Gertrude Stein and Felix Frankfurter. In 1912 he will leave the United States and live in Europe until his death in 1952.

December 16– Wednesday– London, England–The government advises the British Consul in Havana, Cuba, to inform the Confederacy that Confederate use of British ports for buying supplies or ship building violates Great Britain’s declared neutrality. “Her Majesty has declared her Neutrality and means strictly to observe it.”

December17– Thursday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “I think that this Regiment will stand as bright for morals and upright conduct both among commissioned officers and privates as any other Regiment in the service: As for drunkenness, we have comparatively speaking, but few of that class, and they only get drunk when they can get the whiskey. The boys will, once in a while, overstep the bounds of propriety and will indulge a little too much in the use of profane language. . . . . Rebels are coming into our lines almost every day and delivering themselves up. Their statement in regard to the affairs of the Confederacy all agree as representing that destitution, starvation and ruination are staring them in the face, and that a general despondency is taking hold of the minds of the people, and they are becoming anxious for peace. So mote [sic] it be.” ~ Letter to the editor of the Wheeling Intelligencer from a Union soldier who signs himself “W. W. H.”

December 17– Thursday– Washington, D. C.– “I transmit to the Senate, for consideration with a view to its ratification, a convention between the United States and Her Britannic Majesty for the final adjustment of the claims of the Hudson’s Bay and Puget’s Sound Agricultural Companies.” ~ Message from President Lincoln. This is an effort to resolve disputes between the United States and Great Britain pending since the Oregon Treaty of 1846.

December 17– Thursday– Washington, D. C.– “Herewith I lay before you a letter addressed to myself by a committee of gentlemen representing the freedmen’s aid societies in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati. The subject of the letter, as indicated above, is one of great magnitude and importance, and one which these gentlemen, of known ability and high character, seem to have considered with great attention and care. Not having the time to form a mature judgment of my own as to whether the plan they suggest is the best, I submit the whole subject to Congress, deeming that their attention thereto is almost imperatively demanded.” ~ Message from President Lincoln to both Houses of Congress.

December 17– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Crenshaw Woolen Mills. The walls of this mill, seven stories in height, which have been left standing since the building was destroyed by fire some time last spring, fell in on Monday last. The workmen in the foundry and shops below received timely warning from the falling of a few bricks, and succeeded in making their escape before the fall of the entire structure, which crushed to atoms and utterly destroyed the foundry, (in which the workmen were engaged a few minutes before) as well as the forges and other fixtures contained therein. The large iron bridge connecting the ruins with the street fell with the walls. The mill site had recently been purchased by Messrs. J. R. Anderson & Co., who contemplated pulling down several of the stories by way of precaution. Their design has now been carried out in a way more speedy than acceptable.” ~ Richmond Sentinel.

December 17– Thursday– Greenville, Virginia– “Moved at sunrise towards Staunton, passed through the town, on towards Greenville. Sleeting quite fast all day. Went into camp near the latter place about nine o’clock at night.” ~ Diary of Confederate cavalry soldier Robert P. Bryarly.

December 17– Thursday– Memphis, Tennessee– “General Orders, No. 173: The recent affair at Moscow, Tennessee, has demonstrated the fact that colored troops . . . can and will fight well, and the General Commanding Corps deems it to be due to the officers and men of the Second Regiment West Tennessee Infantry of African Descent, thus publicly to return his personal thanks for their gallant and successful defense of the important position to which they had been assigned, and for the manner in which they have vindicated the wisdom of the Government in elevating the rank and file of these regiments to the position of freedman and soldiers. By order of General S.A. Hurlbut.” [The fight referred to occurred on December 3rd through the 4th and the black soldiers had done extremely well in their first actual combat which found them pitted against a large Confederate force.]


December 18– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “A charge of bribery against a Senator has resulted in John P. Hale’s admission that he is the man referred to, acknowledging that he took the money, but that it was a fee not as a bribe. ‘Strange such a difference there should be twixt tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee.’ This loud-mouthed paragon, whose boisterous professions of purity, and whose immense indignation against a corrupt world were so great that he delighted to misrepresent and belie them in order that his virtuous light might shine distinctly, is beginning to be exposed and rightly understood. But the whole is not told and never will be; he is a mass of corruption.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.


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.]


Uncle Abe is the Most Popular Man in America~December 1863~the 8th to 11th

Uncle Abe Is the Most Popular Man in America ~ George Templeton Strong

President Lincoln offers amnesty to all in rebellion who freely take an oath of allegiance to the United States. He extends congratulations to General Grant for the recent success in Tennessee. Concern about the French intervention in Mexico reaches man different quarters. Russian naval officers are wined and dined in Washington. Women in Memphis try to provide for the poor. Nashville has no more coal. People in Wheeling are concerned about the families of soldiers. Soldiers wonder about winter quarters. A terrible fire destroys a church in Chile. And the world goes– babies born, old folks die.


December 8– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln issues a Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction which offers a full pardon to any and all Southerners who participated in the rebellion provided such persons take a “prescribed oath” of loyalty. He adds, “And I do further proclaim, declare, and make known that any provision which may be adopted by such State government in relation to the freed people of such State which shall recognize and declare their permanent freedom, provide for their education, and which may yet be consistent as a temporary arrangement with their present condition as a laboring, landless, and homeless class, will not be objected to by the National Executive. . . . . And, still further, that this proclamation is intended to present the people of the States wherein the national authority has been suspended and loyal State governments have been subverted a mode in and by which the national authority and loyal State governments may be reestablished within said States or in any of them; and while the mode presented is the best the Executive can suggest, with his present impressions, it must not be understood that no other possible mode would be acceptable.”

December 8– Tuesday– “Understanding that your lodgment at Chattanooga and Knoxville is now secure, I wish to tender you and all under your command my more than thanks, my profoundest gratitude for the skill, courage, and perseverance with which you and they, over so great difficulties, have effected that important object. God bless you all.” ~ Message from President Lincoln to General Grant.

General Grant

General Grant

December 8– Tuesday– Guatemala City, Guatemala– U S Minister to the country, Elisha Crosby, reports to Secretary of State Seward that the Guatemalan government will not recognize the monarchy in Mexico unless the United States does.

December 8– Tuesday– Santiago, Chile– The Church of the Company of Jesus, located in the downtown, is crowded with worshipers, mostly women and children, observing a feast day of the Virgin Mary when shortly before 7 o’clock in the evening a gas lamp at the top of the main altar ignites some of the fabrics adorning the walls. The fire spreads quickly from there onto the wooden roof. The attendees panic while trying to leave the burning building. Between 2,000 and 3,000 people perish in the fire, many burned beyond recognition, in a city that has about 100,000 inhabitants. Entire families are wiped out. The building is a total loss.

December 9– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– Dissatisfied with several design proposals from the mint director, Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase recommends the words “In God We Trust” be added to the design of the new one, two and three-penny coins.

December 9– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Received and entertained fifty Russian officers, the Cabinet, foreign ministers, and the officers of our own Navy who were in Washington, and all professed to be, and I think were, gratified. It was a question whether some of the legations would attend, but I believe all were present at our party.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

Russian naval officers

Russian naval officers

December 9– Wednesday– Camp Pittman near London, Kentucky– “I have just received a letter from Jeff, of Dec 3rd bringing the sorrowful news of the death of Brother Andrew. I was somewhat prepared for the worst, by Walt’s letter of Dec 1st but I still had strong hopes, that he would recover, and until I received Walt’s letter, I had no idea that Andrew was in any immediate danger. . . . Mother I do hope that you will bear up with your troubles, and not make yourself sick by worrying. . . . Mother you see by this that we have moved from Crab Orchard, we came on here last week, this place is 38 miles from Crab Orchard, in the direction of Cumberland Gap. How long we will remain here, of course we don’t know, but there is strong talk of our being ordered home to re organize and as nearly all of our men are anxious to re-enlist in the veteran Corps, I think that the chances are that we will be ordered home before many weeks. I sent you $150.00 by Addam’s Express a few days ago.” ~ Letter of George Whitman to Louisa, his mother.

December 9– Wednesday– Memphis, Tennessee– “Ladies Union Benevolent Association. This excellent and very popular society gives a free reception this evening, to which all friends are cordially invited. We are happy to state that this charitable institution has procured the hall of the No. 3 [fire] engine house,on the corner of Adams and Second streets, which are fitted up in a style both useful and conformable to the members andothers desiring to visit them. The object of this association is, first, the promotion of the social circle, and, to give the proper value to society, as it should and ought to be; to aid the poor and indigent, who have been thrown on the world through their love of country, and otherwise aid all those who are worthy of help from this association. The officers, under whose management the ‘Ladies’ Union’ is conducted, are well and favorably known; being ornaments to our first society. The following ladies are the presiding officers for the presentterm: Mrs. Cooper, President; Mrs. Tagg, Vice-President; Mrs. C. C. Smith, Secretary Mrs. Cobb, Treasurer; Mesdames Beeman, Walcot and Boyle, Directresses. We understand that it is the intention of the ladies to have the affair during the Christmas holidays, the proceeds of which will be handed to the poor of our city. They propose also to give several concerts for the same charitable purposes.” ~ Memphis Bulletin.

December 9– Wednesday– Athens, Georgia– “Notice. The Athens Manufacturing Co. having taken twenty-five thousand pair of pants to dye for the Government, they will not be able to dye any more yarns or garments for our customers. R. L. A. Bloomfield, Agent.” ~ The Southern Banner

December 10– Thursday– New York City– Irish-born Charles C. Ingham, portrait painter and one of the founders of the New York National Academy of Design in 1826, dies at age 67. He was 20 years old when he and his family came to the United States. Among his best known works are his portraits of the Marquis de Lafayette and of New York Governor DeWitt Clinton.

December 10– Thursday– Montpelier, Virginia– “The old fellow here says he wants us to stay as long as the Army stays here and we may spend the winter here. . . . . This has once been a grand and noble place and many traits of its grandeur can be seen yet, but since the war it has been taken but little care of and the beauty of the place, such as the fancy garden, yards &c is almost entirely neglected. The dwelling is situated on a beautiful eminence and commands a grand view of the mountains and the country scenery around. It has been erected more than a hundred years and is built of pure granite. It is a very large house and has about 20 rooms in all. The grave yard is quite interesting to look at. Madison, with many of the family, is buried there. It is enclosed and belongs to the State of Virginia. The monument over the grave of Madison is about 20 feet high and is of plain granite, nothing showy about it.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

December 10– Thursday– Chattanooga, Tennessee– “The general commanding takes this opportunity of returning his sincere thanks and congratulations to the brave armies of the Cumberland, the Ohio, the Tennessee, and their comrades from the Potomac, for the recent splendid and decisive successes achieved over the enemy. . . . . By your noble heroism and determined courage you have most effectually defeated the plans of the enemy for regaining possession of the States of Kentucky and Tennessee. You have secured positions from which no rebellious power can drive or dislodge you. For all this the general commanding thanks you collectively and individually. The loyal people of the United States thank and bless you. Their hopes and prayers for your success against this unholy rebellion are with you daily. Their faith in you will not be in vain. Their hopes will not be blasted. Their prayers to Almighty God will be answered.” ~ General Orders, #9 from Union General Ulysses S Grant.

December 10– Thursday– Nashville, Tennessee– “The gas-works, having exhausted the supply of coal in the city, Nashville last night was without a solitary gas jet. The gas-works have suspended operations and our city will be in a state of darkness until a supply of coal reaches us. In the meantime our denizens will have to go back to first principles and use candles and lamp-oil.” ~ Nashville Daily Press.

December 10– Thursday– Sacramento, California– Wealthy businessman Leland Stanford, age 39, Republican, the 8th Governor of California, finishes his two year term and is succeeded by former Congressman Frederick Low, age 35, also a Republican. [Stanford as governor had kept California safely within the Union. He will invest his talents in making a great deal of money in railroads and will serve in the United States Senate from 1885 to 1893. Low will serve as United States Minister to China from 1869 to 1874.]

Leland Stanford

Leland Stanford

December 10– Thursday– London, England– “I suppose from your unbroken silence that you cannot have received any of my letters. . . . . How anxiously I look for letters from home it would be impossible for me to tell you. All the accounts come through the Yankee press– Just now we have the news of Bragg’s disastrous defeat and falling back from Lookout Mountain– with loss of 60 pieces of artillery small arms &c and 8000 prisoners – I give a wide margin to this for the usual exaggeration. But the effect is most depressing. . . . . My friend you know not the importance of sending correct information, which can be used so as to counteract the Yankee accounts. I believe that all classes here except the Abolitionists sympathize with us and are only held back from recognizing us for fear of war with the United States. The invasion of Canada is the great bugbear. Remove this and all will flow smoothly. I am myself sanguine of the events of the next few months. The Mexican question is so intimately connected with our own that the one is a sequence of the other.” ~ Report from Confederate agent Rose Greenhow to Colonel Alexander Boteler, former Virginia Congressman and now serving as an aide to Confederate General Jeb Stuart in Virginia.

December 11– Friday– New York City– Anne Hall, a painter of miniatures, dies of heart disease at her sister’s home at age 71. In 1833 she had become the first woman to be a full member of the National Academy of Design.

December 11– Friday– New York City– “Uncle Abe is the most popular man in America today. The firmness, honesty, and sagacity of the ‘gorilla despot’ may be recognized by the rebels themselves sooner than we expect, and the weight of his personal character may do a great deal toward restoration of our national unity.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

December 11– Friday– Dover, Delaware– Birth of Annie Jump Cannon, only daughter and oldest of three children born to Wilson Lee and Mary Elizabeth Jump Canon. She will study physics and astronomy at Wellesley College and will work in the observatory at Harvard for forty-five years, gathering an unsurpassed collection of astronomical data and publish a significant number of articles and papers. She will actively campaign for woman suffrage, be an active member of Alice Paul’s National Woman’s Party and receive an honorary doctoral degree from Oxford.

Annie Jump Cannon c.1922

Annie Jump Cannon c.1922

December 11– Friday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Soldiers’ Relief Meeting. Only a few persons assembled at the Court House last evening. . . . . Several persons stated that comparatively large sums had been subscribed which had not as yet been paid in. Mr. Holliday from the first ward stated a citizen of that ward had just given him a check for $250. It was stated that an estimate had been made that it would require about six hundred dollars per week to supply the needy families with the necessaries of life, to say nothing of clothing, of which many children stood badly in need. It was understood that there would be a meeting on Monday evening next.” ~ Wheeling Intelligencer.


The Rebellion is Divided Into Distinct Parts~December 1863~5th to 8th

The Rebellion Is Divided into Distinct Parts~Abraham Lincoln

President Lincoln sends his state of the union message to Congress. Among other things he encourages a policy of increasing immigration. [Current Republicans take note!] Congress convenes with Lincoln’s party in control of both houses. Harper’s Weekly praises the Gettysburg Address.

In Tennessee Federal troops under General Sherman relieve the defenders at Knoxville, effectively breaking the Confederate siege. Civilians complain about the plundering done be both armies and their young men being called away for soldiering.

Rebels and Canadian sympathizers hijack a ship. A Federal hero from the Gettysburg battle is hospitalized. Some raise concern about intemperance. The Whitman family experiences a loss. And the world goes on, irregardless of the American war.


December 5– Saturday– New York City– “The oration by Mr. Everett was smooth and cold. Delivered, doubtless, with his accustomed graces, it yet wanted one stirring thought, one vivid picture, one thrilling appeal. The few words of the President were from the heart to the heart. They can not be read, even, without kindling emotion. ‘The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.’ It was as simple and felicitous and earnest a word as was ever spoken.” ~ Harper’s Weekly on President Lincoln’s speech at Gettysburg.

December 5– Saturday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “The army of soldiers now in the field defending our county, are shaming the professed Christian churches. We are receiving more petitions from the army than the church, asking us to pass a law suppressing the manufacture and sale of spirituous liquors in West Virginia. Why is this? Is it because so many professed Christians at home love to indulge in a ‘wee bit of the precious stuff.’ I wonder how many professed Christians in West Virginia, are dram drinkers? How many are engaged directly and indirectly in the manufacture and sale of spirituous liquors in the new state? Such hypocrites are the devil’s hitching post and recruiting officers.” ~ Letter to the editor of the Wheeling Intelligencer from a temperance advocate who signs the letter simply as “S.Y.”

temperance parade

temperance parade

December 5– Saturday– Washington, D. C.– “The Doctors say I have a malarial fever, darling, and I shall be several days getting over it. While I was lying tossing and burning last night, some body came and said a letter for you and from your wife they say. You may be sure I had a candle brought and read my fever to sleep. Don’t be worried, dearest.” ~ Letter from Union Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain to his wife Fannie.

Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

December 5– Saturday– McGhee’s Farm along the Tennessee River, Tennessee– “Taken from the farm . . . by the commands of Major Dobbs & Colonel Long . . . under General Sherman. As near as I can ascertain from the Amount killed twenty five hundred pounds Bacon or salt pork taken. Think I can safely say there were ten thousand pounds or upwards 1/4 of which was undoubtedly taken & I was only Receipted for 245 lbs. A potion of said meat was taken away. Pressed from the farm 2 large work mules & three indifferent ones left on the farm 2 of which has since been stolen no clue to the thief. The impressment was done by those calling themselves confederate soldiers. The Confederates took a number of bushels [of] wheat– the amount I cannot tell– perhaps 500 bushels. Confederate Army burned 1283 panels [of] fence amounting to 15,000 rails. Killed 25 fat hogs, about 75 sheep, took Bridles & lines, all of which there was nothing paid, together with the greater potion of the Hay raised on the farm, Iron, etc. The Federal Army consumed corn, hay, potatoes, mutton, etc, without giving receipts for same.” Diary of W. H. Dawson, describing the farm being plundered by both armies.

December 5– Saturday– Sabine Pass, Texas– Birth of Pattillo Higgins, self-taught geologist, oil pioneer and businessman, known as the “Prophet of Spindletop” who will make a fortune in drilling for oil beginning in 1900.

December 6– Sunday– Thompson, Ohio– Birth of Charles Martin Hall, son of Heman Basset and Sophronia Brooks Hall. He will become a chemist and discover the commercially successful process of making aluminum. At his death in 1914, he will leave a third of his estate to Oberlin College, his alma mater, a gift that by the early 1930’s would exceed $15,000,000 in value.

Charles Martin Hall

Charles Martin Hall

December 6– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– “I sent you a letter four days ago that Andrew was gone at last, poor fellow. . . . . I did not go on to Andrew’s funeral, (I suppose it was yesterday) but I am very, very sorry now that I did not stay while I was home. I am well. Write when you can.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his brother George.

December 6– Sunday– Knoxville, Tennessee–Federal troops under General Sherman enter the city, re-enforcing General Burnside’s troops.

December 7– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “Reliable information being received that the insurgent force is retreating from east Tennessee under circumstances rendering it probable that the Union forces can not hereafter be dislodged from that important position, and esteeming this to be of high national consequence, I recommend that all loyal people do, on receipt of this information, assemble at their places of worship and render special homage and gratitude to Almighty God for this great advancement of the national cause.” ~ Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln.

December 7– Monday– Washington, D.C.– Congress comes into session. In the Senate, the Republicans control 66% of the seats, the Democrats 20% and third parties 14%. In the House of Representatives, the Republicans control 45.9% of the seats, the Democrats 39.3% and third parties 14.8%. However, most of the smaller parties vote with the Republicans. Schuyler Colfax, age 40, Republican from Indiana, strongly anti-slavery and pro-immigration, is elected Speaker of the House. Thaddeus Stevens, age 71, Republican from Pennsylvania and a fervent abolitionist, despised in the Confederacy, chairs the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

Schuyler Colfax

Schuyler Colfax

December 7– Monday– Stewartville, Minnesota– Birth of Richard W Sears, son of James and Eliza Benton Sears. He will become known as the “Barnum of merchandising” and with A C Roebuck found the business which bears their names.

December 7– Monday– White County, Tennessee– “I have been out all day amongst the patrons of my school. Some of them promised me corn if I could get it home, but that is it, everyone is afraid of the Yankees, who persist in coming out from Sparta and committing ‘depredations on peaceable citizens’ despite the oath which some of them have taken. Indeed the country is in a dreadful state. No worse yet, as I know of, than it has been before with ‘our own men,’ as we have all learned to say. (I have but little part in them and wish I had less.) . . . . Fayette . . . had to leave from Hughs to go to Bragg’s war and he intended to go if there was any possible chance of getting there, for he is dreadfully opposed to their way of fighting here, and said a long time [ago] he would not go, but, when the Colonel called for him he had to go. Very few men can do as they like these days.” ~ Diary of Amanda McDowell.

December 7– Monday– Knoxville, Tennessee– “I desire to express to you and to your command my most hearty thanks and gratitude for your promptness in coming to our relief during the siege of Knoxville, and I am satisfied that your approach served to raise the siege.” ~ Message from Union General Burnside to General Sherman.

December 7– Monday– London, England– Birth of John Ebenezer West, son of William and Clara West. He will become a composer, organist, conductor and for 45 years a music editor at London’s Novello & Company.

December 8– Tuesday– off Cape Cod, Massachusetts– A group of Confederate sympathizers, several of them Canadians, led by John C Briane seize control of the merchant vessel Chesapeake.


December 8– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Following the custom established by Thomas Jefferson, President Lincoln submits his Annual Message [“State of the Union”] in writing to Congress. [President Woodrow Wilson will return to the custom of Washington and John Adams and deliver the message in person in 1913, which has been the custom for the last hundred years.]

> on the rebellion, Lincoln says, “The rebel borders are pressed still farther back, and by the complete opening of the Mississippi the country dominated by the rebellion is divided into distinct parts, with no practical communication between them. Tennessee and Arkansas have been substantially cleared of insurgent control, and influential citizens in each, owners of slaves and advocates of slavery at the beginning of the rebellion, now declare openly for emancipation in their respective States.”

> on international relations: “We remain in peace and friendship with foreign powers. The efforts of disloyal citizens of the United States to involve us in foreign wars to aid an inexcusable insurrection have been unavailing. Her Britannic Majesty’s Government, as was justly expected, have exercised their authority to prevent the departure of new hostile expeditions from British ports.”

> on slavery: “The supplemental treaty between the United States and Great Britain for the suppression of the African slave trade . . . has been duly ratified and carried into execution. It is believed that so far as American ports and American citizens are concerned that inhuman and odious traffic has been brought to an end. . . . . Of those who were slaves at the beginning of the rebellion full 100,000 are now in the United States military service, about one-half of which number actually bear arms in the ranks, thus giving the double advantage of taking so much labor from the insurgent cause and supplying the places which otherwise must be filled with so many white men. So far as tested, it is difficult to say they are not as good soldiers as any. . . . . while I remain in my present position I shall not attempt to retract or modify the emancipation proclamation, nor shall I return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation or by any of the acts of Congress.”

> on immigration: “I again submit to your consideration the expediency of establishing a system for the encouragement of immigration. Although this source of national wealth and strength is again flowing with greater freedom than for several years before the insurrection occurred, there is still a great deficiency of laborers in every field of industry, especially in agriculture and in our mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals. While the demand for labor is much increased here, tens of thousands of persons, destitute of remunerative occupation, are thronging our foreign consulates and offering to emigrate to the United States if essential, but very cheap, assistance can be afforded them. It is easy to see that under the sharp discipline of civil war the nation is beginning a new life. This noble effort demands the aid and ought to receive the attention and support of the Government.”

> on the budget, Lincoln reports that the government brought in $5,329,044.21 more than it spent, though the Post Office operated at a loss of $150,417.25, and the tax burden was “ever more cheerfully borne.”

> on the costs of the war: the War Department spent $599.3 million and the Navy Department spent $63.2 million; the Navy has 588 warships on active duty and captured over 1,000 blockade runners which won over $13,000,000 in adjudications in prize courts.

> on the Homestead Act: “Since the 1st day of January last the before-mentioned quantity of 1,456,514 acres of land have been taken up under its provisions. This fact and the amount of sales furnish gratifying evidence of increasing settlement upon the public lands, notwithstanding the great struggle in which the energies of the nation have been engaged, and which has required so large a withdrawal of our citizens from their accustomed pursuits. I cordially concur in the recommendation of the Secretary of the Interior suggesting a modification of the act in favor of those engaged in the military and naval service of the United States.”

> on soldiers and veterans: “Hence our chiefest care must still be directed to the Army and Navy, who have thus far borne their harder part so nobly and well; and it may be esteemed fortunate that in giving the greatest efficiency to these indispensable arms we do also honorably recognize the gallant men, from commander to sentinel, who compose them, and to whom more than to others the world must stand indebted for the home of freedom disenthralled, regenerated, enlarged, and perpetuated.”


The Fight To-day Progressed Favorably~November 1863~22nd to 26th

The Fight To-day Progressed Favorably~ Ulysses S Grant

The war in Tennessee changes drastically as Federal forces under Grant capture both Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge outside of Chattanooga, gaining an important Union victory and forcing Bragg’s Confederates to retreat.

A Philadelphia newspaper praises Lincoln’s speech at Gettysburg. A Richmond newspaper claims that Southern prisoners-of-war are being ill-used by the Yankees. Lots of people exchange letters with family and friends. The first modern Thanksgiving is observed in the North on the last Thursday of November as President Lincoln requested. He himself is ill and confined to bed in the White House.

November 22– Sunday– Worcester, Massachusetts– “What an interesting letter thee has sent me! thank thee for it, and Mrs Kirkland says I must also thank thee for our friends. She and Mrs McKaze were with us last Sunday, and I read it to them. Dear Lucy you ought both to keep a journal of the events so wonderfully working about you– and you in them, God bless you! I thank him that he put it in your hearts to go and bless his poor suffering people. What a wonderful deliverance they are having. Not as my father and all of us hoped by moral power changing the heart of the master– not as we feared by bloodhounds and fiery torch of insurrection when endurance had passed human limit, neither is their deliverance being wrought out by a thunderbolt of God’s wrath, but by the wrath and wickedness of their oppressors which is now turned to destroy themselves so that the wrath and wickedness of man is becoming the glory of God in the freedom of his long suffering devoted people who in the times of tribulation ever trusted in him. Their entire life should now be thanksgiving that their deliverance has been wrought out without one stain upon their hands and souls. Be not afraid of working up this feeling too much in them, they cannot be too thankful– Let them shout Glory to God who has gotten us the victory! Let them sing unto the Lord new songs for he hath triumphed gloriously. Their souls touched with a live coal from off the holy altar will open to the truths you teach them.” ~ Letter from Rebecca B. Spring to her cousin Lucy Chase who is teaching escaped slaves in Virginia.


Quaker women

Quaker women

November 22– Sunday– outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee– “This is another beautiful Sunday for the season and might be pleasantly spent by me with you, but every thing is monotonous here. . . . There is a move, perhaps of some great importance, going on here, if we could understand it. A good many of our troops have in the last few days gone on top of Lookout Mountain and, perhaps, over it for aught we know, and some seem to be moving to our rear, for what purpose we do not know but suppose the Enemy is trying to flank us on our left. . . . . Something is going to be done here soon, but what I am not able to say, but I think that one Army of the other will have to fall back soon. Should our Army fall back, a great many of our men will desert– a thing they are now doing to some extent but not like the will if we start back towards Atlanta, Georgia.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier John Farris to his wife, Mary.

November 23– Monday– Gettysburg, Pennsylvania– “On behalf of the States interested in the National Cemetery here, I request of you the original manuscript of the Dedicatory Remarks delivered by you here last Thursday. We desire them to be placed with the correspondence and other papers connected with the project. (Please append your Certificate to them.)” ~ Letter from David Wills to President Lincoln.

Gettysburg Address

November 23– Monday– Knoxville, Tennessee– “I am camped in two miles of Knoxville. The Yankees still hold the city. We had orders to charge their breast works last night at 10 o’clock but the orders were countermanded and we did not make the attempt. I think it will take a hard fight to get the enemy out of that place. I was very glad that we did not attempt to storm their works last night for I thought it very likely that it would be the last works that I would storm.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier William Stilwell to his wife Molly.

November 23– Monday– outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee– A force of 14,000 Federal troops drives the 634 Confederates from Orchard Knob, pushing them back to the base of Missionary Ridge.

November 24– Tuesday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– “I wish to be in Washington to try and if possible to get my son released, or be able to minister to his wants. He in connection with eight other of our citizens, were taken prisoners by the Rebel army on there retreat from the battle of Gettysburg. My son had been in the nine months service, and had been discharged a few weeks previous to the Rebel invasion, and was making arrangements to again enter the service, and for which I am anxious for his freedom. Any thing you could do for me would be thankfully received.” ~ Letter from Mr W. H. McDowell to Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, the radical abolitionist.

November 24– Tuesday– Washington, D. C.– “Last Sunday we were out walking & met the Count [Adam Gurowski, 1805 to 1866, an eccentric Polish exile] the first time since you left. He immediately asked for you, & I told him where you were, he asked if you were coming back etc. & when I told him that I had heard & should write you, he said ‘My Gott, I did not know that he was such a poet, tell him so, I have been trying every where to find him to tell him myself.’ So you see. He said tell him he must write more poems. I wish that you were back here in your old room for my sake, for I miss you & shall. I should have gone to the Hospital today if it had not rained, and I shall go to-morrow I think, rain or shine. . . . I count upon your return, and on our all being together much, very much this winter, and on some good talks, & good times reading your Drum Taps. You must publish that book.” ~ Letter from Ellen “Nellie” O’Connor to her friend Walt Whitman who is visiting his family in Brooklyn, New York.

November 24– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “The employees of the Laboratory are about to perfect the establishment of a bake-house, slaughter-house and general store-house, where all the necessary provisions will be accumulated, and issued to the workmen and their families in part pay for their labor. The plan is a most excellent one, which, we understand, will go into operation in a very short time. There are employed at these works about twelve hundred persons, composed of females, men and boys.” ~ Richmond Sentinel

November 24– Tuesday– Chattanooga, Tennessee– In a day-long fight, Federal troops capture Lookout Mountain. Total casualties for the Union are 408 dead, wounded and missing while the Confederate losses reach 1251. Remaining Confederates re-enforce positions on Missionary Ridge. “The fight to-day progressed favorably. Sherman carried the end of Missionary Ridge, and his right is now at the [railroad] tunnel, and left at Chickamauga Creek. Troops from Lookout Valley carried the point of the mountain, and now hold the eastern slope and point high up. I cannot yet tell the amount of casualties, but our loss is not heavy.” ~ Report by Union General Ulysses Grant telegraphed to Washington, D.C.

battle at Lookout Mountain

battle at Lookout Mountain

November 25– Wednesday– New York City– “Last evening Henry Ward Beecher spoke again at our Academy of Music. Proceeds for benefit of Sanitary Commission. . . . . it was a vile rainy night– rebel weather– so the house was thin and our net proceeds will not exceed two thousand one hundred dollars or about one-half what we counted on. The speech was admirable and well received. I adjourned . . . to Dr Bellow’s, where were the orator and some half-dozen others, including Mrs Harriet Beecher Stowe, whom I found very bright and agreeable.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

November 25–Wednesday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– The Press carries an editorial entitled, “Words for History,” which calls President Lincoln’s Gettysburg speech “perhaps the highest point in our history.” The whole ceremony had been “sublime.” The president has “never stood higher and grander, and more prophetic.” It was proper that “on that historic height” he should “utter words such as these.” The paper reprints the entire text of President Lincoln’s remarks.


November 25– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Your despatches as to fighting on Monday & Tuesday are here. Well done. Many thanks to all. Remember Burnside.” ~ Telegram from President Lincoln to General Ulysses S. Grant.

November 25– Wednesday– Chattanooga, Tennessee– In hard fighting, General Grant’s Union forces capture Missionary Ridge, thus securing all the area surrounding Chattanooga. Federal losses total 5824, Confederate losses 6667.

battle on Missionary Ridge

battle on Missionary Ridge

November 25– Wednesday– Chattanooga, Tennessee– “I have heard from Burnside to the 23rd, when he had rations for ten or twelve days. He expected to hold out that time. I shall move the force from here on to the railroad between Cleveland and Dalton, and send a column of 20,000 men up the south side of the Tennessee, without wagons, carrying four days’ rations and taking a steam-boat loaded with rations, from which to draw on the route. If Burnside holds out until this force gets beyond Kingston, I think enemy will fly, and, with the present state of the roads, must abandon almost everything. I believe Bragg will lose much of his army by desertion, in consequence of his defeat in the last three days’ fight.” ~ Report sent by Union General Ulysses Grant to Washington late this night.

General Grant

General Grant

November 26– Thursday– New York City– “How then could such a system [as slavery] make head against the spirit of such a Gospel? It was a huge mistake, demonstrated to be such by the overruling power, that has already turned slavery into the heaviest burden the rebellion has to bear. Forty thousand strong, the emancipated slaves have turned their arms against their masters, and hundreds of thousands strong, the unemancipated, have been driven into the corner States, where the diminished form of the rebellion now crouches . . . . Who can fail to foresee the issue of this great problem of slavery to the Confederacy itself? Who can help seeing that its corner-stone was laid on sand, that the noisy proclamation was a blatant falsehood, and the projected system a stupendous mistake ?” ~ Part of a Thanksgiving sermon preached by Reverend Dr Alexander H Vinton, age 56, rector of St Mark’s Protestant Episcopal Church.[Vinton holds an MD from Yale and studied theology at General Theological College of New York. By 1863 he has been in the ministry for 28 years and ranks as one of the leading preachers of the Episcopal Church and a strong supporter of the Union cause.]

November 26– Thursday– Washington, D. C.– Thanksgiving Day– President Lincoln is ill with a mild form of smallpox and confined to his bedroom.

November 26– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Yesterday morning one hundred and twenty-four Confederate Surgeons, who have been returned from the different bastilles of the North, arrived in this city by the steamer Schultz. The statements which they make in reference to their own treatment, and that of our prisoners, particularly the wounded, are in keeping with other statements published of the heathenish treatment to which they are subjected. One of these Surgeons, with whom we had a long and interesting interview, was captured at Williamsport, Maryland, in July last, where he had been left, in conjunction with others, in charge of some two hundred of our wounded. These men were nearly all so badly wounded that it was deemed advisable not to attempt their removal to Virginia, although abundance of time had been allowed to do so had their condition permitted it. In a few days after the occupation of the town by the Yankees, an order was issued for the removal of all these wounded to Hagerstown. The Surgeons remonstrated, but to the purpose. The next day brought a peremptory order for their removal, and, in their helpless and nearly exhausted condition, they were packed off to Hagerstown and piled away, without comfort, in the Court-House, and a guard placed around the building. . . . . One Surgeon with whom we conversed was for a time in charge of the wounded at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The treatment received there was in the main kind and humane, very little difference being made in the treatment of our own and the enemy’s wounded. The country people around the place sent in many delicacies, and the Yankee surgeons permitted them to be distributed among our wounded. Of the treatment at Fort McHenry, as a general thing, the darkest picture ever drawn by the New York Herald of ‘Life at the Libby,’ conveys but a feint conception. The rations consist of hard tack (except where it is completely excavated by worms), meat once a day, and a kind of slop in the morning which the Yankees politely style coffee. No fire has yet been allowed in the quarters of the officers, although the weather has been quite severe.” ~ Richmond Dispatch.

Thus Far So Nobly Advanced~November 1863~18th to 21st

Thus Far So Nobly Advanced ~ President Lincoln


The national cemetery is dedicated at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. A famous orator speaks for two hours, the President for barely two minutes. No one today remembers the long speech.

One of the heroes of the Gettysburg battle is hospitalized.

Reports of the mistreatment of prisoners surface in the news media. Times are hard in the Confederate capital. New fighting seethes in Tennessee. Another crisis begins to develop in Europe. The world continues to turn.

November 18– Wednesday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– “The prisoners at Belle Isle, near Richmond, are in a state of starvation, their supplies of food having been entirely cut off. This is stated on the authority of a chaplain who was exchanged last Wednesday. A Union prisoner in Richmond has managed to send to Washington that the rebel authorities, having fully determined to starve all their prisoners to death, have stopped the meat rations to those in the Libby Prison.” ~ Franklin Repository

Federal prisoners at Belle Island depicted in Harper's Weekly

Federal prisoners at Belle Island depicted in Harper’s Weekly

November 18– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln and Secretary of State Seward, along with diplomats, foreign visitors, a military guard and a Marine band leave the city on a special train organized by the B&O Railroad to take them to Gettysburg.

November 18– Wednesday– approaching Knoxville, Tennessee– “I expect . . . fighting today or will be tomorrow. . . . . I thought I ought to write though I had rather wait until the battle was over but I may not get any chance to write again for some time. I mention this so that you will not be uneasy if you do not get any letter from me soon. I am in good health and spirits and went in front of the brigade all the time, only one man hurt in my company.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer William Stilwell to his wife Molly.

November 18– Wednesday– Moscow, Tennessee– “I laid an ambush last night on the Somerville road, about 3 miles from here, at McCaughn’s Mill, where the guerrillas are in the habit of crossing the north fork of Wolf River on their way to and from Somerville, and captured 2 rebel mail-carriers and nearly 1,000 letters which they were taking to Somerville.” ~ Report of Union Colonel Frank Kendrick.

November 18– Wednesday– Copenhagen, Denmark– The new king, Christian IX, asserts that Schleswig is part of Denmark. [Germany will view this as a violation of the London Protocol of 1852, by which the major powers had recognized the prince as his cousin’s heir, and will lead to war next year.]

Denmark's new king

Denmark’s new king

November 18– Wednesday– Stavanger, Norway– Birth of Frederik Macody Lund, controversial historian.

November 18– Wednesday– Hermsdorf, Prussia– Birth of Richard Dehmel, poet and writer, who will be considered one of the greatest German poets of the period before 1914.

November 19– Thursday– Gettysburg, Pennsylvania– At the dedication of the National Cemetery on the battlefield the principal speaker Edward Everett delivers a two hour address. After he finishes, President Lincoln delivers a two-minute speech which will become known as the Gettysburg Address. “The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion– that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” When he sits down, Lincoln remarks to his friend Marshal Lamon, “Lamon, that speech won’t scour! It is a flat failure and the people are disappointed.” [The image Lincoln uses is of a farm plow that does not properly cut furrows. Edward Everett, age 69, Harvard graduate in the Class of 1811, is a Unitarian clergyman, teacher, statesman, five term Congressman, president of Harvard for four years, governor of Massachusetts for four years, and famed orator.]

Edward Everett

Edward Everett

November 19– Thursday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Soldiers Aid Meeting. There will be a meeting of the citizens of the 5th and 6th wards at the American Hall this evening, to make arrangement to raise funds and provide for the comfort of the families of the soldiers. All are earnestly requested to attend.” ~ Wheeling Intelligencer.

November 19– Thursday– Georgetown, District of Columbia– Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, on of the Union heroes of Gettysburg, is hospitalized at Seminary General Hospital with “malarial fever.”

Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

November 20– Friday– Brooklyn, New York– “I am well & fat, eat my rations regular, & weigh about 200, so you see I am not very delicate. Here in Brooklyn & New York where I was raised, I have so many friends, I believe, now I am here they will kill me with kindness, I go around too much, & I think it would be policy for me to put back to Washington. I have a brother here, very sick, I do not think he can recover, he has been in the army. I have another brother in the 9th Army Corps, has been out 26 months. But the greatest patriot in the family is my old mother. She always wants to hear about the soldiers, & would give her last dime to any soldier that needed it. Every thing looks on the rush here in these great cities, more people, more business, more prosperity, & more of every thing to eat & wear, than ever. Tom, I was home in time to vote. The elections went bully. . . . . I think these last elections will be a settler for all traitors north, & they are the worst. I shall be back in Washington next Tuesday.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to Thomas P Sawyer.

November 20– Friday– Franklin County, Pennsylvania– “A fine day . . . . the affair at Gettysburg was certainly imposing. The military display was good. The Lodges from different parts of the state marched the officers of the Christian Commission in and several bands and batteries.” ~ Diary of Amos Stouffer.

Gettysburg Address

November 20– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “Not wishing to intrude upon your privacy, when you must be much engaged, I beg leave, in this way, to thank you very sincerely for your great thoughtfulness for my daughter’s accommodation on the Platform yesterday, & much kindness otherwise to me & mine at Gettysburg. Permit me also to express my great admiration of the thoughts expressed by you, with such eloquent simplicity & appropriateness, at the consecration of the Cemetery. I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes. My son who parted from me at Baltimore & my daughter, concur in this sentiment.” ~ Letter from Edward Everett, who gave the lengthy key-note address yesterday at Gettysburg, to President Lincoln and delivered by a messenger. Lincoln responds and writes, “Your kind note of to-day is received. In our respective parts yesterday, you could not have been excused to make a short address, nor I a long one. I am pleased to know that, in your judgment, the little I did say was not entirely a failure.”

November 20– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “Sealed proposals will be received at this office until the tenth (10th) day of December, 1863, for filling, during the ensuing winter, the two Government Ice Houses located in and near this city, as follows: Ice house corner Cary and 22d streets, capacity 58,000 bushels. Ice house at Jackson Hospital, capacity 10,000 bushels. Each bid must be accompanied by two or more securities for the faithful performance of the contract, stating the address of the sureties, and giving reference as to their responsibility. E. W. Johns, Surgeon and Medical Purveyor.” ~ Government notice in the Richmond Sentinel.

November 20– Friday– Rio Grande River, Texas– About 7,000 Federal troops begin operations along the length of the river in an attempt to stop the trade of Confederate cotton for European arms and munitions going through Mexico.

November 20– Friday– Paddington, Middlesex, England– Birth of Zeffie Agnes Lydia Tilbury, performer on stage and later in film, appearing in over 70 films, including the role of the elderly Grandma Joad in The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Goody Hodges in Maid of Salem (1937) and the Opium Woman in The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935).

Zeffie Tilbury

Zeffie Tilbury

November 20– Friday– Horten, Norway– Birth of Jonas Schanche Kielland, jurist and politician.

November 20– Friday– Dharamsala, India– James Bruce, the 8th Earl of Elgin and the 12th Earl of Kincardine, in his second year as Viceroy of India, dies of a heart attack at age 52. A career diplomat and administrator, he had also served as Governor of Jamaica from 1842 to 1846 and as Governor General of Canada from 1847 to 1854.

November 21– Saturday– New York City– Harpers Weekly provides extensive coverage of the grand ball given on November 5th for visiting Russian naval officers. “Alas! for the Russians. It is known, or should be, that these Slavic heroes are not the very largest of the human race—that they are small men in fact—and what is to become of small men in such a jam? Early in the night—indeed, very soon after the dance began—we saw several of them in the embrace of grand nebulous masses of muslin and crinoline, whirled hither and thither as if in terrible torment, their eyes aglare, their hair blown out, and all their persons expressive of the most desperate energy, doubtless in the endeavor to escape. What became of them we can not tell.” The paper also provides an extensive report about the dresses of the women in attendance. “A bride was lovely in a dress of white corded silk, with an illusion over-dress, a white illusion veil, and ornaments of white narcisse. Two beautiful sisters attracted attention in dresses of pink moire, with flounces of white point d’Angleterre and garniture of pink flush roses, showered with diamond powder. A leading actress was also attired as usual in a rich robe of mauve satin, trimmed with a deep flounce of point applique, looped up with a bunch of white feathers and diamond cluster—cornelian set in violets, and diamond aigrette, ornamented her dark hair. . . . . A beautiful blonde wore a dress of dark maroon velvet, with an immense white lace wreath. Her fair hair was simply ornamented with a bow and long ends of narrow velvet, the color of her dress. and a splendid white Moselle rose high up over the ear; diamond ornaments.”

dancing at the Russian Ball

dancing at the Russian Ball

November 21– Saturday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “So you see that treason, not only against the United States, but also against the State of Western Virginia, is being openly practiced within striking distance of us. The loyal men of Pocahontas and Greenbrier have been principally driven from their homes long since, but there are yet men there who suppresses [sic] their sentiments, but will be found ready to assume the duties of good citizens as soon as we can make it safe for them to do so. We were told that in Greenbrier there were four hundred voters who remained silent at the election on the Ordinance of Secession. The mass of the people that remain, however, are bitterly disloyal. Few men except the very aged and decrepit were to be found. Women were plenty, but their beauty was marred by the impress on their countenances of the treason that lodged within, and their manners were as badly spoiled as their beauty. We obtained about four hundred head of beef cattle, and a good many horses; though the greater portion of the stock with which the country abounds had been driven away from the road.” ~ Wheeling Intelligencer prints a letter from a Union soldier who fought in the November 6th battle at Droop Mountain.

November 21– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– “We are a shabby-looking people now– gaunt, and many in rags. But there is food enough, and cloth enough, if we had a Roman Dictator to order an equitable distribution. . . . A committee of the Grand Jury yesterday submitted a paper to the President, on the subject of provisions– indicating the proximity of famine, and deprecating impressment. The President sent it to the Secretary, saying Mr. Seddon would no doubt take measures to keep the people of Richmond from starving; and directing the Secretary to ‘confer’ with him. But to-day he is off to the army, and perhaps some may starve before any relief can be afforded. . . . . A dollar in gold sold for $18 Confederate money, to-day. Our paper [money] is constantly depreciating; and I think it is past redemption, unless we adopt Mr Moseley’s plan, and cause some six or eight hundred millions to be canceled, and fix a maximum price for all commodities necessary for the support of life. Congress will never agree upon any measure of relief. But if the paper money be repudiated, nevertheless we shall have our independence.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

Arthur Quiller-Couch

Arthur Quiller-Couch

November 21– Saturday– Bodmin, Cornwall, England– Birth of Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch, educator, author and editor of The Oxford Book of English Verse in 1900.

The War Was Never More Popular~November 1863~13th to 18th

The War Was Never More Popular ~ Senator John Sherman

Plans are made for the dedication of a cemetery at Gettysburg. President Lincoln and others are well aware that next year is an election year. Walt Whitman comes home for a visit and a much needed rest. Soldiers write about food, the weather, God and dead comrades. The world continues to change.

November 13– Friday– Washington, D.C.– At the White House, President Lincoln meets with the new senator John Conness, age 42, Republican of California. Senator Conness presents Mr Lincoln with a cane once owned by one of Conness’s predecessors, the late David Broderick. Broderick, age 39, an outspoken anti-slavery Democrat was mortally wounded in a duel with a fellow politician in September, 1859. A newspaper account says, “The President . . . accepted the cane, and, with much emotion, replied that he never personally knew . . . Mr. Broderick, but he had always heard him spoken of as one sincerely devoted to the cause of human rights.” Mr Lincoln confides that his “proudest ambition . . . [is] to do something for the elevation of the condition of his fellow-man.”

Senator John Conness

Senator John Conness

November 13– Friday– Chicago, Illinois– “From Gettysburg. Consecration of the Soldiers’ Cemetery. The loyal citizens generally of all the States, and the charitable and benevolent associations, are most cordially invited to be present at the consecration of the Soldiers’ Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pa, on Thursday, the 19th instant, and participate in the solemn exercises of the occasion. By order of the Governors of the several States interested. David Wills, Agent for A. G. Curtin, Governor of Pennsylvania, and acting specially for the other States.” ~ Chicago Tribune.

November 13– Friday– Iago Ferry, Tennessee– “As our Cook was washing today it fell on me to get dinners and I stayed in camp on account of having no shirt to change while the other was in the wash as a good cook would do. I had dinner ready for they boys when they returned about 2 o’clock P. M. I then put on a kettle with some water peeled and sliced about half a bushel of pumpkins and boiled for some time and seasoned with salt while this cooking operation was going on James was out and luckily for the times [found] part of a box of crackers which Co. B had thrown away for bad one out of which we gathered over a pack of good pieces which was still more welcome then the pumpkins supper being ready at the usual time consisting of stewed pumpkins and beef stake sliced of the shoulders of an ox and a little coffee. Such a feed we have not had for a month it is certainly worth noting down to be remembered our Appetites being keen and sharp forced us to eat until we were scarcely to role over and still we have! a supply on hand for tomorrow who would not rejoice in our circumstances. Our Wagons that left yesterday morning for Anderson cross roads has returned this evening without rations why they were turned and sent back I have not a learned. I can also understand that gen Morgan commanding our brigade has left the cross roads if that is so we will move soon.” ~ Diary of Union soldier John Hill Fergusson.

November 13– Friday– the Isle of Man– “On Saturday last, Messrs. Gibson, McDonald, and Arnold launched from their ship-building yard at North Ramsey, Isle of Man, an iron ship of the following dimensions: Length 202 feet, beam 35 feet, depth of hold 23 feet 6 inches. A large company assembled to witness the launch. At half-past twelve o’clock the ship glided off the stocks, and was named the Euterpe by Mrs. R. H. Brown, wife of one of the owners. After the launch the company adjourned to the spacious sail-loft of the establishment, where a luncheon was provided, to which about 60 persons sat down. . . . . The Euterpe is a full-rigged ship of 1246 tons register . . . . She is the property of Messrs. Wakefield, Nash, and Co., of Liverpool, and is fitted up in the most expensive style, no pains have been spared to make her a splendid specimen of naval architecture. Her spacious poop cabin is fitted with panels of polished walnut, with moldings of maple, and is exceedingly handsome. She is built entirely of iron, and her lofty tweendecks (seven feet high) render her specially adapted for troops or passengers.” ~ A report for the Liverpool Mercury.

November 13– Friday– Auckland, New Zealand– William C Wilson begins publication of the New Zealand Herald.

November 14– Saturday– Mansfield, Ohio– “On Tuesday next I start for Gettysburg to take part in the pageant of a dedication of the battle-field as a national cemetery. From thence I shall probably go to Washington, two weeks in advance of the session. The very first thing I mean to do is to press the enforcement of the draft. . . . I notice in some of the Southern papers that a hope is entertained that the draft cannot be enforced. This is idle. The war was never more popular than at this moment. The new call will fall lightly. Ohio must send thirty-five thousand . . . . There is no lack of men or of a determination to send them. The wonderful prosperity of all classes, especially of laborers, has a tendency to secure acquiescence in all measures demanded to carry on the war. We are only another example of a people growing rich in a great war. And this is not shown simply by inflated prices, but by increased production, new manufacturing establishments, new railroads, houses, etc. . . . Indeed, every branch of business is active and hopeful. This is not a mere temporary inflation caused by paper money, but is a steady progress, and almost entirely upon actual capital. The people are prospering and show their readiness to push on the war. Taxes are paid cheerfully, and the voluntary donations for our soldiers and their families are counted by thousands.” ~ Letter from Senator John Sherman to his brother General William Tecumseh Sherman.

Gettysburg National Cemetery

Gettysburg National Cemetery

 November 14– Saturday– near the mouth of the Rio Grande River– The Confederate blockade runner Terista, carrying 298 bales of cotton and headed for European markets, is captured by the USS Granite.

November 14– Saturday– St Martens-Latem, Belgium– Birth of Leo Hendrik Baekeland, chemist and inventor. Born of poor and illiterate parents, he will earn a doctorate in science from the University of Ghent at age 21 and in 1889 emigrate to the United States where he will invent a good paper for photographic prints [which business he will sell in 1899 to George Eastman for a reported $750,000] and invent “Bakelite” in 1907-8. He is considered the founding father of the modern science of plastics.

Leo Hendrik Baekeland

Leo Hendrik Baekeland

 November 15– Sunday– Brooklyn, New York– “I had a pleasant trip that Monday from the start, & all through– clear & cool & no dust. I got home about 8 in evening, was up bright & early to the polls next morning &c. How well the election went in this state, you know. Here Brooklyn gave a stunning union vote, the biggest ever dreamed of here– Mayor, assemblymen, judges, all elected.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his friend Ellen M. O’Connor.

November 15– Sunday– near Hazel Run, Virginia– “Last night it rained, and as the weather is cold we are far from comfortable. . . . . I bought me a fine bay horse with a white mark on his face, and he can run like a deer. I call him Old Abe.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

November 15– Sunday– on the march toward Knoxville, Tennessee– “This is the Sabbath evening and I am very lonesome. I thought I could not pass off the lonely hours better than to be writing to you, as it seems like we can never talk to each other [except] only through the medium of writing. Little did I think when we were married that I must be so soon severed from my dear Molly, but it is the common lot of all to be disappointed and now, instead of being this holy Sabbath evening with my loving family where we could read the word of God together, I am away here in the east engaged in the destruction of my fellow men, but God knows my heart. I do not desire their hurt if they would part in peace. I long to see this war close but I confess that I can not see where it can ever end but I have always thought that God would provide a peace when he thinks best. I still think so, Molly. . . . . I would give the state of Georgia for a kiss [from] you and the children. Oh, God, how long shall I suffer in the flesh? I am yours without spot or blemish until death. ~ Letter from Confederate officer William Stilwell to his wife Molly.

November 15– Sunday– Copenhagen, Denmark– The death of King Frederick VII, childless at age 55, and the succession by his distant cousin Christian IX, age 45, marks the beginning of a new crisis between Denmark and Germany over Schleswig-Holstein.

Denmark's new king

Denmark’s new king

 November 16– Monday– Nashville, Tennessee– “The burning or destroying of any property, or any of the products of the country, is a positive detriment to us and a loss to the United States Government; therefore it must be stopped. The burning of cotton-gins, cotton, and everything else, is strictly prohibited. Any of the troops detected in any of these depredations will have meted out to them the extreme penalty of the law, which, in case of burning, pillaging, or robbing, is death. This order will be read at the head of every regiment and battery of the command, and every officer is commanded to aid in carrying it out.” ~ Order of Union General Grenville Mellen Dodge.


November 16– Monday– Roswell, Georgia– “The death of your brother [Thomas Edward] . . . was a sad blow to me, but he fell on a noble cause: done with the trials of this life, & now happy forever in heaven. God above knows what will be the result of this unnatural war – we have justice on our side, but deserve sever chastisement for our sins as a nation: May we all repent of short comings on duty, and look to God for his blessings– otherwise everything dark and gloomy. Rather than submit to Yankee rule– trust the Confederacy will resist to the last: better loose everything, than our liberty. . . . There is no telling what General Bragg is after– it is said that Longstreet has gone [toward] East Tennessee to drive out Burnsides, & get supplies for the army; should Bragg fall back, this portion of our state would be overran by Vandals, & they would destroy every thing.” ~ Letter from Mr Barrington King, a prosperous businessman, to his son Confederate Colonel Barrington Simeral King.

November 16– Monday– Campbell’s Station, Tennessee– Union forces beat back a Confederate attack. Total casualties– killed, wounded, missing– are 400 for the Federals, 570 for the Confederates.


November 16– Monday– Paris, France– Louis-Rene Villerme, physician and economist who studied the health of prisoners and of child factory workers, dies at age 81


November 17– Tuesday– New York City– “Famine at Richmond seems a settled fact. . . . There is reason to believe that the famine is caused not so much by actual deficiency of hog and hominy as by the unwillingness of Virginia farmers to sell anything for which they must be paid in rebel paper. Want of lively faith in the value of rebel currency implies, of course, skepticism as to the ultimate triumph of the rebel cause.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.


November 17– Tuesday– Brooklyn, New York– “I shall return Monday or Tuesday next. The weather here the last three days is very unpleasant, sloppy & thick. I was at the opera last night, Trovatore– very, very good singing & acting. I feel to devote myself more to the work of my life, which is making poems. I must bring out Drum Taps. I must be continually bringing out poems– now is the hey day. I shall range along the high plateau of my life & capacity for a few years now, & then swiftly descend. The life here in the cities, & the objects, &c of most, seem to me very flippant & shallow somehow since I returned this time. My New York boys are good, too good– if I staid here a month longer I should be killed with kindness. The great recompense of my journey here is to see my mother so well, & so bravely sailing on amid many troubles & discouragements like a noble old ship . . . . Charley, I think sometimes to be a woman is greater than to be a man, is more eligible to greatness, not the ostensible article, but the real one.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to Charles Eldridge.November 17– Tuesday– Wheeling, West Virginia– A group of citizens meet and plan a city-wide campaign to raise financial support for the families of soldiers.


One General Panorama of Grace & Beauty~November 1863~5th to 8th

One General Panorama of Grace and Beauty ~ New York Times

New York City holds a grand ball for the visiting Russian naval officers. Walt Whitman, visiting his family at home, enjoys the opera. General Lee’s rheumatism improves a bit despite chilly weather. Confederate General Bragg makes what will turn out to be a career-ending mistake, sending General Longstreet and his soldiers to attack Knoxville. Bragg under-estimates the Federal strength at Chattanooga and does not anticipate Grant’s intended attack. Soldiers write home about their experiences and concerns. And life around the world goes on.


November 5– Thursday– Confederate headquarters along the Rappahannock, Virginia– “I think my rheumatism is better to-day. I have been through a great deal with comparatively little suffering. I have been wanting to review the cavalry for some time, and appointed to-day with fear and trembling. I had not been on horseback for five days previously and feared I should not get through. The governor was here and told me Mrs Letcher had seen you recently. I saw all my nephews looking very handsome . . . . While on the ground, a man rode up to me and said he was just from Alexandria and had been requested to give me a box, which he handed me, but did not know who sent it. It contained a handsome pair of gilt spurs. Good-night. May a kind heavenly Father guard you all.” ~ Letter from General Robert E Lee to his wife Mary. [John Letcher was governor of Virginia from 1860 to 1864. His wife was Susan Holt Letcher.]

November 5– Thursday– outside Chattanooga, Tennessee– “I start to-day for Tyner’s Station, and expect to get transportation to-morrow for Sweetwater. The weather is so bad, and I find myself so much occupied, that I shall not be able to see you to say good-by. When I heard the report around camp that I was to go into East Tennessee, I set to work at once to try and plan the means for making the move with security and the hope of great results. As every other move had been proposed to the general and rejected or put off until time had made them inconvenient, I came to the conclusion, as soon as the report reached me, that it was to be the fate of our army to wait until all good opportunities had passed, and then, in desperation, seize upon the least favorable movement. . . . Have you any maps that you can give or lend me? I shall need every thing of the kind. Do you know any reliable people, living near and east of Knoxville, from whom I might get information of the condition, strength, etc., of the enemy? I have written in such hurry and confusion of packing and striking camp (in the rain and on the head of an empty flour barrel) that I doubt if I have made myself understood.” ~ Confederate General James Longstreet to General Simon Buckner. Longstreet and Bragg dislike each other.

General James Longstreet

General James Longstreet

November 5– Thursday– Bloemfontein, Orange Free State– Johannes Brand, lawyer and politician, a month away from his 40th birthday, is elected the fourth president. He will take office in February of next year.

Johannes Brand, c1864

Johannes Brand, c1864

November 6– Friday– New York City– “The imperial City of the West crowned the hospitalities it has extended to its imperial guests from the East most worthily by the charming and brilliant festival which turned last night into brightest day in Irving-place. As a triumph of social art the Russian Ball will be remembered as long as any triumph of any kind can very well be in this land of things ‘a moment bright, then gone forever.’ A palace was improvised by bridging a street, and the locale being thus provided by the managers of the ball, the world of New-York provided the rest. A throng – which only in the extremest exigencies of the evening ever became a crowd – a throng of men presumably brave, and of women visibly fair, assembled in one general panorama of grace, and beauty, and spirit, the best elements of our New-York life, to do honor to the representatives of the one great Empire which, alone among the leading Powers of the earth, has frankly and cordially maintained its old relations of amity and good will with the Republic in these days of trial and endurance. If a political significance must be sought for in so bright and evanescent a show, the very head and front of it ‘hath this extent, no more.’ America prefers no judgment of favor or disfavor upon the internal policy of Russia, nor does she ask from Russia any judgment of favor or disfavor upon her own internal policy. We simply recognize with the warmth and frankness which become us, the justice, forbearance, courtesy and respect with which Russia has borne herself toward us from the outset of a struggle the burden and responsibility of which are ours, and ours alone. If there be a lesson in this – if it be true, as we believe that true it is, that the subjects of no other great European Power would now be welcomed to these shores as the sailors of Alexander have been – if to no others would we pipe, nor ask them with us to dance, it is simply that no others have cared to mourn with us in our mourning, nor have any others practiced toward us even the poor charity of a silent indifference. Nations, like men, have their sensibilities, their emotions, their impulses of gratitude or of revenge. That such sensibilities and such emotions exist in the people of the Union is simply another proof that the people of the Union are a nation. If the Russian Ball can carry fresh conviction of this fact to a single diplomatic brain beyond the seas, we shall have no objection to see so good a sermon drawn from so gay a song. Meanwhile, for the Russians and for New-York, the ball was simply a ball, and of all the balls where of Gotham shall in her chronicles preserve the rustling, gleaming, odorous remembrance, the most orderly, the most brilliant, the most completely worthy of those who gave and of those to whom it was given.” ~ New York Times.

November 6– Friday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Governor Boreman has issued his proclamation, in accordance with the recommendation of the President of the United States, setting apart Thursday the 26th instant as a day of Thanksgiving. He concludes with this excellent suggestion. ‘And while we are rejoicing and other praises for the abundance with which we are blest, let us not forget to remember the poor and the needy, the widow and the orphan, whom the vicissitudes of life and the casualties of war have left in our midst unprovided for and unprotected.’” ~ Wheeling Intelligencer

November 6– Friday– Droop Mountain, Pocahontas County, West Virginia– Union forces defeat the Confederates in brief but violent battle, thus ending major Confederate operations in the state. Total dead, wounded and missing are 119 Federal and 275 Confederate.

November 7– Saturday– New York City– “Election turned out as I expected. The state repudiates Seymour by about thirty thousand majority. . . . . The Russian Ball Thursday night was well managed and successful. Ellie and I joined General Dix’s party at his house and went thereto in great glory, staff and all– half a dozen captivating creatures in epaulets– with nice Mrs Blake and Miss Kitty. I like all that family very much.” ~ Diary entry of George Templeton Strong.

dancing at the Russian Ball

dancing at the Russian Ball

November 7– Saturday– Rappahannock Station, Virginia– In a surprise foray Union forces capture 1,600 Confederate soldiers.

November 7– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– “Recent Fires. The out-houses of Mr. E. C. Pleasants, near Chimborazo Hospital, were set fire to on Thursday morning last, and destroyed. His residence caught [fire] several times, but was saved by the exertions of the neighbors. Some of the furniture which had been removed from the house was afterwards stolen, by some thief or thieves. The loss to Mr. P. will amount to $5,000. On Wednesday night, through the carelessness of a servant girl, the residence of Mr. Wm. P. Jones, on 8th street, was set on fire, but was fortunately discovered before much damage was done, although the furniture in one of the chambers was considerably charred.” ~ Richmond Sentinel.

November 7– Saturday– Memphis, Tennessee– “Our company is on camp guard and Captain Meade is in command of the camp so that I have no regular duties to perform. I have been sent out twice in command of an escort to Government [wagon] trains to get wood. We go about three miles into the country. There are some Rebs prowling around there and have on one or two occasions captured the trains, but they have never showed themselves when I was along in command, how soon they will do so remains to be seen. They can calculate on a good lively fight before they gobble us for I have a particular aversion to . . . prisons and would about as soon be shot as captured by them. About all the difference is in one case you die instantly and in the other by degrees.” ~ Letter from Union officer Frank Guernsey to his wife Fanny.

November 8– Sunday– Boston, Massachusetts– “I received the other day from a ‘Breckinridge Democrat,’ now converted, the inclosed sum of twenty dollars, after he had read your letter. I have not lately made any requests of my friends for more thinking you perhaps were well supplied for the present. I shall be happy to hear from you again, & I think I can find more friends hereafter if you should need them. I send this by a check & I presume they will cash it for you at Willards [Hotel] where they know me.” ~ Letter from Dr. Le Baron Russell to Walt Whitman.

November 8– Sunday– Brooklyn, New York– “I went to the N Y Academy of Music, to the Italian opera. I suppose you know that is a performance, a play, all in music & singing, in the Italian language, very sweet & beautiful. There is a large company of singers & a large band, altogether two or three hundred. It is in a splendid great house, four or five tiers high, & a broad parqueted on the main floor. The opera here now has some of the greatest singers in the world– the principal lady singer (her name is Medori) has a voice that would make you hold your breath with wonder & delight, it is like a miracle– no mocking bird nor the clearest flute can begin with it– besides it is [a] very rich & strong voice & besides she is a tall & handsome lady, & her actions are so graceful as she moves about the stage, playing her part. . . . . my dear comrades, I will now tell you something about my own folks home here there is quite a lot of us– my father is not living [and] my dear mother is very well indeed for her age, which is 67– she is cheerful & hearty, & still does all her light housework & cooking. She never tires of hearing about the soldiers, & I sometimes think she is the greatest patriot I ever met, one of the old stock. I believe she would cheerfully give her life for the Union, if it would avail any thing and the last mouthful in the house to any union soldier that needed it– then I have a very excellent sister-in-law– she has two fine young ones so I am very happy in the women & family arrangements.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to friends at the Armory Square Hospital in Washington, D.C.

November 8– Sunday– south of Tallahassee, Florida– “I was glad to hear that you was all in good health when you wrote. I was glad also to hear that your Pa had made his trip to Tennessee and back home. I was glad to hear that he found the boys enjoying a reasonable portion of health. This leaves me in good health at present we have just returned off picket duty to our camps. A good many of our men got sick while we was out but the most of them are improving at present. I fear from the tone of your letter that you are in bad health or a getting so. You don’t however write that anything serious is the matter with you. If there is, you must write to me and let me know it. While we were out in picket camp I was posted at one time at a place called Shell point on the sea beach where I could see the blockading vessel and by the help of a glass I could see the men walking about on deck of her. I saw also a large number of salt works around on the beach. I saw a grate [sic] many curiosities that I could tell you about if I could see you that time or space will not admit of here. You must write soon. Give my love to all. I remain yours as ever until death.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Edmond Hardy Jones to his wife.

Pleasing in Her Address and Modest in Her Manner~November 1863~the 1st to 5th

Pleasing in Her Address and Modest in Her Manner ~ General Robert E Lee.

General Lee praises the courage and resourcefulness of Southern women. Many of his soldiers are cold, poorly clothed and meagerly fed. The New York Times brags about Union soldiers. Northern states are putting large numbers of soldiers into the field on many fronts. Colonel Chamberlain writes a passionate love letter to his wife. A wounded soldier bemoans his state to Walt Whitman. While there is some fighting in Louisiana and South Carolina, it is in Tennessee that the cauldron is on the boil for major fighting before the year’s end. Planners extend a last minute invitation to President Lincoln to speak at the dedication of the new national cemetery at Gettysburg. New York City hosts a grand ball for its Russian visitors. Labor troubles erupt in the Pennsylvania coal region. And the world goes on.

Union soldiers

Union soldiers


November 1– Sunday– New York City– “The bounty and pay of the American soldier is something so astounding to the European, that we are forced to wonder that we have not had a double influx of able-bodied emigrants to make what to many of them would be a fortune in the three years of their service. It will, however, have the effect of showing foreign nations that it will be useless to land armies upon this Continent.” ~ New York Times

period dresses 212

November 1– Sunday– Confederate Headquarters along the Rappahannock River, Virginia– “I had a visit from a soldier’s wife to-day, who was on a visit with her husband. She was from Abbeville district, S. C. Said she had not seen her husband for more than two years, and, as he had written to her for clothes, she herself thought she would bring them on. It was the first time she had traveled by railroad, but she got along very well by herself. She brought an entire suit of her own manufacture for her husband. She spun the yarn and made the clothes herself. She clad her three young children in the same way, and had on a beautiful pair of gloves she had made for herself. Her children she had left with her sister. She said she had been here a week and must return to-morrow, and thought she could not go back without seeing me. Her husband accompanied her to my tent, in his nice gray suit. She was very pleasing in her address and modest in her manner, and was clad in a nice, new alpaca. I am certain she could not have made that. . . . She, in fact, was an admirable woman. Said she was willing to give up everything she had in the world to attain our independence, and the only complaint she made of the conduct of our enemies was their arming our servants against us. Her greatest difficulty was to procure shoes. She made them for herself and children of cloth with leather soles. She sat with me about ten minutes and took her leave– another mark of sense– and made no request for herself or husband. I wrote you about my wants in my former letter. My rheumatism I hope is a little better, but I have had to-day, and indeed always have, much pain. I trust it will pass away.” ~ Letter from Confederate General Robert E Lee to his wife Mary.

General Robert E Lee

General Robert E Lee

November 1– Sunday– Charleston, South Carolina– Union ships and artillery toss over 750 rounds into Fort Sumter.

November 1– Sunday– Chattanooga, Tennessee– The new supply route brings large amounts of food and ammunition to the Federal forces.

November 1– Sunday– Confederate Headquarters outside Chattanooga, Tennessee– “The abuses and irregularities which have so recently been observed amongst the cavalry have had an injurious effect on the morale of this army and upon the citizens. A strict regard for private rights and a due observance of the laws and regulations are essential to discipline and good order as well as content and harmony amongst the people. All straggling and pillaging are positively forbidden, and commanders are enjoined to see that previous orders on that subject are carried into effect. They will be held to a strict accountability for any violation of these orders. It is enjoined upon officers of this army to arrest all cavalrymen absent without proper authority from their commands, or who are found wandering over the country plundering and stealing from the citizens. Men so arrested will be sent under guard to these headquarters, where they will be dismounted and assigned to infantry.” ~ Orders from General Braxton Bragg.

November 1– Sunday– Angel Island, San Francisco, California– Federal troops establish a fortified camp.

November 1– Sunday– Konigsberg, East Prussia– Birth of Alfred Reisenauer, composer and pianist.

November 2– Monday– New York City– Theodore Dehone Judah, age 37, dies of yellow fever. Trained in engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Mr Judah has played a key role in developing the Central Pacific Railroad and undertook the route survey through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. While traveling across the Isthmus of Panama to New York from California he contracted the fever which takes his life.

Theodore D Judah

Theodore D Judah

November 2– Monday– St Paul, Minnesota– A report to Governor Henry Swift shows the disposition of the state’s soldiers. The 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry is at Bristow Station, Virginia; the 2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry at Chattanooga, Tennessee; the 3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry at Little Rock, Arkansas; the 4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry in operations against the Memphis and Charleston Railroad in Alabama; the 5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry at Canton, Mississippi; the 6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry on garrison duty in Minnesota; the 7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry in St. Louis, Missouri; the 8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry on garrison duty in Minnesota; the 9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry at Jefferson City, Missouri; the 10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri; the 1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry on duty in Minnesota; Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry on duty along the Tennessee River; the 1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery at Vicksburg, Mississippi; the 2nd Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery at Chattanooga, Tennessee; the 3rd Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery on duty in Minnesota. [Such distributions of state troops are fairly representative of most Northern states during the war.]

November 2– Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln receives an invitation to make a few remarks at the dedication of the new National Cemetery in Gettysburg Pennsylvania.

November 2– Monday– Confederate camp along the Rappahannock River, Virginia– “We are still quietly resting here. The troops are camped very thick here and wood is very scarce. I suppose we will move soon but I hope we will have no more hard marching this year. It is pretty cold of nights now and in the daytime too some days. I want to go into winter quarters so we can build some huts and have some protection from the rain and keen cold cutting wind. . . . it is a serious truth that there are men in our Regiment that have been entirely barefooted till a day or two ago, and have but one inferior suit of clothes and not a sign of blanket, overcoat, or anything at all to lie on or cover with. They build a fire and lie down on the ground before it and sleep, when it is cold enough to freeze a man well wrapped up.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Marion Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

November 2– Monday– Murfreesboro, Tennessee– “I have taken some pains to inquire into the case, and I learn from very reliable Union families inthis place, that she is a very estimable Lady, and that what she related about her situation is substantially true. While she has always been a true woman, and Loyal, her husband has been a Libertine and a Rebel, and is now living in a state of adultery within the Rebel lines, leaving her and her little ones to suffer the anguish, that necessarily follows such transactions. I look upon it as a dreadful thing for a pure minded woman, to be under the necessity of living with either a Libertine or a Rebel, but when the two great sins, become united in one person, it becomes positively insufferable, and will certainly admit of executive interference. Mrs Johnson can tell you the situation of the Property, and in short, the whole story better than I can. I really hope something can be done for her, although I have no interest in the matter, any more than the natural sympathy, that ought to be found in every human breast, when the innocent are wronged. I have no acquaintance with the Lady and should not have known anything about the case except by the accident of my position at this time.” ~ Report from Union Colonel William L Utley.

November 3– Tuesday– Albany, New York– In another political victory for President Lincoln and a rebuff to Democratic Governor Horatio Seymour, in the mid-term election Republicans win control of key offices and control of the state legislature which will severely limit Seymour’s ability in the last half of his term.

November 3– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Hospital Scenes and Incidents of the War. – A lady is engaged in writing a work with the above title, with the intention of devoting the proceeds, when published, to the benefit of sick and wounded soldiers. She solicits and will be grateful for brief and well authenticated accounts of personal adventures, experiences, &c. in hospital and camp life. Editors wishing to aid in this enterprise, will please call attention to it. Address, ‘Matron,’ box 857, Richmond, Va.” ~ Richmond Whig.

November 3– Tuesday– Collierville, Tennessee– In an attempt to disrupt Union operations on the Memphis & Charleston Railroad Confederate cavalry attacks the Federal garrison here but is driven back by a large force. Total killed, wounded and missing are 95 for the Confederates and 60 for the Federals.

November 3– Tuesday– Bayou Bourbeau, Louisiana– In a long and fierce engagement, Confederate soldiers drive back Federal troops but reinforcements regain the position in a hard-fought counterattack. Total Federal losses– dead, wounded, missing– number 604 while Confederate casualties amount to 181.

November 4– Wednesday– along the Rappahannock River, Virginia– “I write to you now to tell you that you are my own sweet love and that I think of you with fervent and passionate affection every moment. When I am leading (as I have been) solid battalions into the deadly eye of mortal conflict, if I do it well it is because I love you well. It is you who do it, through a person dressed in a colonel’s uniform who fears no foe and betrays no friend. As I tell you so often . . . what is life or death to love– or music which is the same, for you must know music is swelling the very air with love tonight. Am I well? Why, yes. . . . . Well, my darling how do all things go with you? The cheeks are round, are they? Are the breasts so too? I did not know that I had written that till the music struck a new strain and took away my common place sense.” ~ Letter from Union Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain to his wife Fannie.

Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

November 4– Wednesday– Confederate positions outside Chattanooga, Tennessee– General Braxton Bragg takes a gamble by ordering General James Longstreet and his troops to retake Knoxville from the Federal forces.

November 4– Wednesday– Off the coast of Texas–U S warships seize a British ship attempting to run the blockade.

November 4– Wednesday– Paris, France– Les Troyens, an opera by Hector Berlioz, debuts at the Theatre Lyrique.

Hector Berlioz

Hector Berlioz

November 5– Thursday– Audenried, Pennsylvania–Twelve masked men break into the home of mine owner George Smith and kill him. Local police blame the Molly Maguires and draft resisters but make no arrests. [On the Molly McGuires and Pennsylvania coal miners, see William Anthony Gudelunas, Jr. and William G. Shade, Before the Molly Maguires: The Emergence of the Ethnoreligious Factor in the Politics of the Lower Anthracite Region: 1844-1972; Kevin Kenny, Making Sense of the Molly McGuires; Philip S Foner, History of the Labor Movement in the United States and Spencer J Sadler, Pennsylvania’s Coal and Iron Police.]

November 5–Thursday– New York City–Society leaders give a grand ball to honor visiting officers of the Russian Navy.

The Russian Ball in New York City

The Russian Ball in New York City

November 5– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “My leg mends slowly (about as it was when you were here). I have been out in the city on Monday & Tuesday, both days I was at the relief associations, to try to get a shirt or two– yesterday I got a order from the Chaplain yesterday to get two shirts from the Christian Commission, when I went up and showed them the order they told me that they had

none– then I went into their store room and there was some nice shirts there. I told them that they were just the kind that I wanted– but they told me that they were layed out for distribution amongst the different camps through the city. So I got none of them, & I was mad enough too, after walking up there three times and than get nothing, (the Relief association may be a very nice thing, but I cant see it, for I never get any thing from them yet– you have give me more than all of the rest put together. So you are the relief association that I (as well as all the rest of the boys) like best.” ~ Letter from Lewis K. Brown, a wounded soldier, to Walt Whitman who is in Brooklyn, visiting his family.

Do a Little Something for Their County~October 1863~27th to 31st

Do a Little Something for Their Country ~ Union soldier Thomas Donohue

Soldiers write home about food, or the lack of it, death, romance and home-sickness. Women continue their efforts to feed soldiers. The International Red Cross has its beginnings in Switzerland. The situation in Tennessee continues to boil toward more hard fighting before the year’s end. Walt Whitman tries to find a publisher. George Templeton Strong entertains. Effie Shaw, one of the sisters of the late Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, marries her sweetheart. And the world continues to change.

October 27– Tuesday– near Camp Iogu, Hamilton County, Tennessee– “Today pleasant our wagons came up about noon to the gratification of officers and men as all were suffering less or more for something to eat. . . . J Anderson, Fancher Brothers and myself went out in the country to buy some corn bread off the citizens we traveled all fore noon and visited some 25 or 30 houses, we found them all suffering worse then we were. everything had been taken from them by the secesh and their husbands and Brother and Fathers had left home some 2 years ago and some a year and some18 months and joined our army there is not secesh here there all for the union and treat us with all the respect they can, but none of them was able to sell us a loaf of corn bread they were all out of meat them that had any and said that baked it up for the soldiers yesterday and had divided with them until they had nothing left for themselves and there children on our way back to camp We were passing by a house where 2 women were chopping down a tree close to the road side we walked up to them and inquired if there was no men about to chop wood for them one of them said her husband had joined the first east Tennessee cavalry and took sick and died last winter at Murfreesboro the others was a young girl unmarried we told them it looked like [it was] too hard to see women into chopping wood so we turned in and chopped down and carried up to the house a nice pile of wood. They were remarkably well pleased and invited us to [come] in and rest ourselves but we thanked them kindly as it was then half past 12 o’clock and we had to be in camp at one for roll call.” ~ Diary of Union soldier John Hill Ferguson.

Chattonooga from the north

Chattonooga from the north

October 27– Tuesday– Chattanooga, Tennessee– The new supply route ordered by General Grant is operating. Food and ammunition are arriving for the Federal troops and the Confederate siege begins to weaken.

October 27– Tuesday– near Chattanooga, Tennessee– “I just returned last night from a trip of three days up in Walker County, Georgia after corn. I could not find any corn to buy and had to press some. I pressed it from a lady whose husband is gone to the Yankees, It was very hard to do so and she was crying and begging but I could not help it, my orders was to get corn and I was obliged to get it. I don’t want to go anymore. I had much rather fight Yankees than take corn from women and children. I had a good time otherwise, eating butter and milk and potatoes and other vegetables but it did not last long, but like the hog I had to return to my wallering [sic] in the clay and vomit again.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier William Stilwell to his wife Molly in Georgia.

October 27– Tuesday– Harlingen, the Netherlands– Railway service from Leeuwarden reaches this ancient city, chartered in 1234.

Harlingen railway station as it looks today

Harlingen railway station as it looks today

October 28– Wednesday– Boston, Massachusetts– “I have taken your proposition into consideration. There is a lion in the way– $– I could easily publish a small Book, but the one you propose– to stereotype, advertise and push it– implies an expenditure that may be beyond my means. But if I can get credit, I may try. Whether I will or no depends somewhat on the printer’s notions as to whether the book would sell. Suppose you finish it and send it on: if I can’t publish it, I will see if some other person won’t. This is the best I can safely promise you. If I can get one or two jobbers to read and like it, and they will make an advance order, or give a favorable trade opinion, the way is clear. What say?” ~ Letter from James Redpath to Walt Whitman in response to Whitman’s letter of October 21st. [The book will become Memoranda During the War and be published in 1875.]

October 28– Wednesday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– “Believing that united and systematic effort only could accomplish the work of relieving the suffering in the Army, the ‘Ladies’ Aid’ became last April an auxilery [sic] of the ‘Women’s Branch Sanitary Commission,’ and subsequent visits to the wounded at Gettysburg confirmed the good opinions formed of the Christian and Sanitary Commissions. A lady who spent weeks in the work at Gettysburg remarked to us, that no one could form any conception of the work they accomplished, unless they had witnessed their unwearied labors of love. . . . After the battle of Gettysburg we received and forwarded from friends in Greenvillage, 32 loaves of bread, 23 dozen of rusk, butter, apple butter, dried fruit, &c. And from our own society, shirts, sheets, towels, drawers, 8 pillows, 18 handkerchiefs, bologna sausage, tongue, chip beef, corn starch, 4 bottles of wine, raspberry vinegar, &c. Other articles received at that time were used in Hospitals at home. To these latter we desire to call the attention of our friends. Such articles as apple butter, peach butter, pickles, &c., are needed and will be thankfully received. Persons having old cotton or linen are requested to leave it at Nixon’s Drug Store, for the use of 500 wounded still at Gettysburg.” ~ Report from Martha C Nixon, Secretary of the Chambersburg Ladies’ Aid Society printed in this day’s Franklin Repository.

women of the US Sanitary Commission

women of the US Sanitary Commission

October 28– Wednesday– Baltimore, Maryland– “We landed here this morning. This afternoon at 3:00 o’clock we leave for Washington and I expect we go on to Warrenton, Virginia. We will join Captain Patterson’s Company– 148th Regiment. Well, Father, I feel satisfied that I am doing the will of God. I feel glad that I could so willingly yield to the will of God. I know that God is able to deliver me safe and if I should fall in the field of Battle. I am glad to know that God will save me forever in Heaven. I know that he that promised is faithful and cannot lie.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Franklin Rosenbery to his father, John Rosenbery.

October 28– Wednesday– Memphis, Tennessee– “Bulletin can publish articles of editorial, or when contributed, signed by the writer, favorable or unfavorable to the general policy of the Government, if in proper spirit and designed to do good. Also questions calculated to interest the people of West Tennessee and Arkansas may be discussed pretty freely, but the paper must be held responsible for the truth of every statement of facts, and that the article is calculated to do good and not excite resentment. Try and stop this universal spirit of fault-finding and personality that has brought the press down beneath the contempt of every decent man. Encourage business advertisements, improvements in the arts, narrations of events abroad in the past or, when well authenticated, of the present. In other words, let the Government and its agents do their business in their own way.” ~ Directive issued by Union General William Tecumseh Sherman to the editor of the Memphis Bulletin.

William Tecumseh Sherman

William Tecumseh Sherman

October 28– Wednesday– Cherbourg, France–The Confederate warship Georgia arrives in the port for refitting and to take on supplies.

the CSS Georgia

the CSS Georgia

October 29– Thursday– Boston, Massachusetts– In today’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr Horatio Storer, a doctor of obstetrics, reports positively on the use of chloroform to assist women in labor and delivery.

October 29– Thursday– Warrenton, Virginia– “I am well and enjoying myself as well as Can be expected Down here in Dixie I tell you we have had Some very hard marching lately from Culpeper to Centreville is about 60 miles and now we are going Going Back the Same road we Came on last week we Crossed the old bull run battle Field and we Could See lots of Skeletons of men that were killed there a year ago . . . . I See that old Abe has Called for three hundred thousand more men I Guess that Some of them will have to Come out here yet and do a little Something for their Country well I Guess I have written enough So I will Close Excuse all mistakes and poor writing.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Thomas Donohue to Almira Winchell

October 29– Thursday– Wauhatchie, Tennessee– Daylight sees the conclusion of one of the few night-time battles in the war. Federal troops in large numbers repel a Confederate attempt to cut off the Union supply line. Federals secure their connection from Chattanooga to the outside and can receive supplies, weapons, ammunition, and reinforcements via what soldiers are calling “the Cracker Line.” Confederate casualties total 408; Union casualties total 420 dead, wounded and missing.

fighting~October, 1863

fighting~October, 1863

October 29– Thursday– Houston, Texas– Confederate General Magruder sends a reprimand to General Henry McCullough because McCullough granted furloughs to half of his soldiers so that they could go home and plant crops of wheat. Magruder instructs him to recall these soldiers immediately “as their services in the field are absolutely necessary at this crisis.”

October 29– Thursday– Geneva, Switzerland– The international conference organized by Henry Dunant and his committee concludes the gathering which began on October 26th. The meeting, called to develop possible measures to improve medical services on the battle field, has been attended by 36 individuals: 18 official delegates from national governments, 6 delegates from other non-governmental organizations, 7 non-official foreign delegates, and the five members of the International Committee, including Dunant. The states and kingdoms represented by official delegates are Baden, Bavaria, France, Britain, Hanover, Hesse, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Prussia, Russia, Saxony, Sweden, and Spain. Today at the conference’s conclusion the delegates adopt these final resolutions: 1) Foundation of national relief societies for wounded soldiers; 2) Neutrality and protection for wounded soldiers; 3) Utilization of volunteer forces for relief assistance on the battlefield; 4) Organization of additional conferences to enact these concepts in legally binding international treaties; and 5) Introduction of a common distinctive protection symbol for medical personnel in the field, namely a white armlet bearing a red cross. This marks the official beginning of the International Red Cross. [Dunant, a 35 year old Swiss businessman, has been trying to ameliorate battlefield conditions ever since 1859 when he toured the site of the battle of Solferino, Italy, and saw over 38,000 dead, dying and wounded, mostly unattended. For this work he will receive the very first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901.]


Henry Dunant

Henry Dunant

October 30– Friday– New York City– “Last Tuesday Miss Charlotte Cushman dined here . . . . The tragedienne is a cultivated woman and made herself most agreeable. She looks far better off the stage than on it. Her performances of Macbeth at Boston, New York, Washington and other cities, have brought the Sanitary Commission some eight thousand dollars.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong. [The $8,000 would be equivalent to $151,000 today.]

October 30– Friday– near Germantown, Virginia– “We have not orders to move from here yet, but don’t expect we will lay here long. The rebels destroyed the railroad from Bristol Station to the Rappahannock, and our men are at work repairing it as speedily as possible, and as soon as supplies can be transported on it again I think our army will advance again. We have had nice, clear weather for the last week, but it is cold at night, today it looks as if we might get rain soon. Give my kindest regards to Lydia Brand. I am glad that she thinks of me yet, but sorry to disappoint her in her request as it would be impossible to get a photograph taken here, but tell her I would be pleased to see hers, I have no doubt you young folks have changed a good deal since I saw you last, and also give my best respects to all the rest of Brands family, and all inquiring friends.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Christian Geisel to his sister Mrs Annie Geisel Montgomery.

October 30– Friday– North West Frontier Province, the border area between the Emirate of Afghanistan and the British controlled Punjab Province– Crag Piquet, a rocky position fortified by the British, is the scene of fierce fighting, sometimes hand-to-hand, between a large force of Pashtuns and British soldiers. Two British soldiers, George Fosbery and Henry Pitcher, will be awarded the Victoria Cross for their bravery in this battle. Control of this position will see-saw back and forth for the next four weeks.

October 31– Saturday– Staten Island, New York– Colonel Charles Russell Lowell, age 26, marries Miss Josephine “Effie” Shaw, age 19, in the Unitarian Church here. Effie is one of the sisters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw who died in the attack on Fort Wagner in July.

Josephine "Effie" Shaw and her new husband

Josephine “Effie” Shaw and her new husband

October 31– Saturday– Charleston, South Carolina– From Thursday through today Federal artillery and gunboats lob 2961 rounds on the badly damaged Fort Sumter, causing 33 Confederate casualties. However, at sunset the Confederate flag still flies above the rubble.

October 31– Saturday– Marietta, Georgia– Birth of William G McAdoo, the second of three sons and the fourth of seven children born to William McAdoo and his second wife, Mary Faith Floyd McAdoo. He will serve as Secretary of the Treasury under President Woodrow Wilson for six years and as a U S Senator from California from 1933 to 1939.

William G McAdoo, c1915

William G McAdoo, c1915