Tag Archives: Walt Whitman

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d

When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.

O powerful western fallen star!
O shades of night—O moody, tearful night!
O great star disappear’d—O the black murk that hides the star!
O cruel hands that hold me powerless—O helpless soul of me!
O harsh surrounding cloud that will not free my soul.

In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash’d palings,
Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
With many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
With every leaf a miracle—and from this bush in the dooryard,
With delicate-color’d blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
A sprig with its flower I break.

In the swamp in secluded recesses,
A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song.

Solitary the thrush,
The hermit withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements,
Sings by himself a song.

Song of the bleeding throat,
Death’s outlet song of life, (for well dear brother I know,
If thou wast not granted to sing thou wouldst surely die.)

Over the breast of the spring, the land, amid cities,
Amid lanes and through old woods, where lately the violets peep’d
from the ground, spotting the gray debris,
Amid the grass in the fields each side of the lanes, passing the
endless grass,
Passing the yellow-spear’d wheat, every grain from its shroud in the
dark-brown fields uprisen,
Passing the apple-tree blows of white and pink in the orchards,
Carrying a corpse to where it shall rest in the grave,
Night and day journeys a coffin.

Coffin that passes through lanes and streets,
Through day and night with the great cloud darkening the land,
With the pomp of the inloop’d flags with the cities draped in black,
With the show of the States themselves as of crape-veil’d women standing,
With processions long and winding and the flambeaus of the night,
With the countless torches lit, with the silent sea of faces and the
unbared heads,
With the waiting depot, the arriving coffin, and the sombre faces,
With dirges through the night, with the thousand voices rising strong
and solemn,
With all the mournful voices of the dirges pour’d around the coffin,
The dim-lit churches and the shuddering organs—where amid these
you journey,
With the tolling tolling bells’ perpetual clang,
Here, coffin that slowly passes,
I give you my sprig of lilac.

(Nor for you, for one alone,
Blossoms and branches green to coffins all I bring,
For fresh as the morning, thus would I chant a song for you O sane
and sacred death.

All over bouquets of roses,
O death, I cover you over with roses and early lilies,
But mostly and now the lilac that blooms the first,
Copious I break, I break the sprigs from the bushes,
With loaded arms I come, pouring for you,
For you and the coffins all of you O death.)

O western orb sailing the heaven,
Now I know what you must have meant as a month since I walk’d,
As I walk’d in silence the transparent shadowy night,
As I saw you had something to tell as you bent to me night after night,
As you droop’d from the sky low down as if to my side, (while the
other stars all look’d on,)
As we wander’d together the solemn night, (for something I know not
what kept me from sleep,)
As the night advanced, and I saw on the rim of the west how full you
were of woe,
As I stood on the rising ground in the breeze in the cool transparent night,
As I watch’d where you pass’d and was lost in the netherward black
of the night,
As my soul in its trouble dissatisfied sank, as where you sad orb,
Concluded, dropt in the night, and was gone.

Sing on there in the swamp,
O singer bashful and tender, I hear your notes, I hear your call,
I hear, I come presently, I understand you,
But a moment I linger, for the lustrous star has detain’d me,
The star my departing comrade holds and detains me.

O how shall I warble myself for the dead one there I loved?
And how shall I deck my song for the large sweet soul that has gone?
And what shall my perfume be for the grave of him I love?

Sea-winds blown from east and west,
Blown from the Eastern sea and blown from the Western sea, till
there on the prairies meeting,
These and with these and the breath of my chant,
I’ll perfume the grave of him I love.

O what shall I hang on the chamber walls?
And what shall the pictures be that I hang on the walls,
To adorn the burial-house of him I love?
Pictures of growing spring and farms and homes,
With the Fourth-month eve at sundown, and the gray smoke lucid and bright,
With floods of the yellow gold of the gorgeous, indolent, sinking
sun, burning, expanding the air,
With the fresh sweet herbage under foot, and the pale green leaves
of the trees prolific,
In the distance the flowing glaze, the breast of the river, with a
wind-dapple here and there,
With ranging hills on the banks, with many a line against the sky,
and shadows,
And the city at hand with dwellings so dense, and stacks of chimneys,
And all the scenes of life and the workshops, and the workmen
homeward returning.

Lo, body and soul—this land,
My own Manhattan with spires, and the sparkling and hurrying tides,
and the ships,
The varied and ample land, the South and the North in the light,
Ohio’s shores and flashing Missouri,
And ever the far-spreading prairies cover’d with grass and corn.

Lo, the most excellent sun so calm and haughty,
The violet and purple morn with just-felt breezes,
The gentle soft-born measureless light,
The miracle spreading bathing all, the fulfill’d noon,
The coming eve delicious, the welcome night and the stars,
Over my cities shining all, enveloping man and land.

Sing on, sing on you gray-brown bird,
Sing from the swamps, the recesses, pour your chant from the bushes,
Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and pines.

Sing on dearest brother, warble your reedy song,
Loud human song, with voice of uttermost woe.

O liquid and free and tender!
O wild and loose to my soul—O wondrous singer!
You only I hear—yet the star holds me, (but will soon depart,)
Yet the lilac with mastering odor holds me.

Now while I sat in the day and look’d forth,
In the close of the day with its light and the fields of spring, and
the farmers preparing their crops,
In the large unconscious scenery of my land with its lakes and forests,
In the heavenly aerial beauty, (after the perturb’d winds and the storms,)
Under the arching heavens of the afternoon swift passing, and the
voices of children and women,
The many-moving sea-tides, and I saw the ships how they sail’d,
And the summer approaching with richness, and the fields all busy
with labor,
And the infinite separate houses, how they all went on, each with
its meals and minutia of daily usages,
And the streets how their throbbings throbb’d, and the cities pent—
lo, then and there,
Falling upon them all and among them all, enveloping me with the rest,
Appear’d the cloud, appear’d the long black trail,
And I knew death, its thought, and the sacred knowledge of death.

Then with the knowledge of death as walking one side of me,
And the thought of death close-walking the other side of me,
And I in the middle as with companions, and as holding the hands of
I fled forth to the hiding receiving night that talks not,
Down to the shores of the water, the path by the swamp in the dimness,
To the solemn shadowy cedars and ghostly pines so still.

And the singer so shy to the rest receiv’d me,
The gray-brown bird I know receiv’d us comrades three,
And he sang the carol of death, and a verse for him I love.

From deep secluded recesses,
From the fragrant cedars and the ghostly pines so still,
Came the carol of the bird.

And the charm of the carol rapt me,
As I held as if by their hands my comrades in the night,
And the voice of my spirit tallied the song of the bird.

Come lovely and soothing death,
Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving,
In the day, in the night, to all, to each,
Sooner or later delicate death.

Prais’d be the fathomless universe,
For life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious,
And for love, sweet love—but praise! praise! praise!
For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding death.

Dark mother always gliding near with soft feet,
Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome?
Then I chant it for thee, I glorify thee above all,
I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come unfalteringly.

Approach strong deliveress,
When it is so, when thou hast taken them I joyously sing the dead,
Lost in the loving floating ocean of thee,
Laved in the flood of thy bliss O death.

From me to thee glad serenades,
Dances for thee I propose saluting thee, adornments and feastings for thee,
And the sights of the open landscape and the high-spread shy are fitting,
And life and the fields, and the huge and thoughtful night.

The night in silence under many a star,
The ocean shore and the husky whispering wave whose voice I know,
And the soul turning to thee O vast and well-veil’d death,
And the body gratefully nestling close to thee.

Over the tree-tops I float thee a song,
Over the rising and sinking waves, over the myriad fields and the
prairies wide,
Over the dense-pack’d cities all and the teeming wharves and ways,
I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee O death.

To the tally of my soul,
Loud and strong kept up the gray-brown bird,
With pure deliberate notes spreading filling the night.

Loud in the pines and cedars dim,
Clear in the freshness moist and the swamp-perfume,
And I with my comrades there in the night.

While my sight that was bound in my eyes unclosed,
As to long panoramas of visions.

And I saw askant the armies,
I saw as in noiseless dreams hundreds of battle-flags,
Borne through the smoke of the battles and pierc’d with missiles I saw them,
And carried hither and yon through the smoke, and torn and bloody,
And at last but a few shreds left on the staffs, (and all in silence,)
And the staffs all splinter’d and broken.

I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them,
And the white skeletons of young men, I saw them,
I saw the debris and debris of all the slain soldiers of the war,
But I saw they were not as was thought,
They themselves were fully at rest, they suffer’d not,
The living remain’d and suffer’d, the mother suffer’d,
And the wife and the child and the musing comrade suffer’d,
And the armies that remain’d suffer’d.

Passing the visions, passing the night,
Passing, unloosing the hold of my comrades’ hands,
Passing the song of the hermit bird and the tallying song of my soul,
Victorious song, death’s outlet song, yet varying ever-altering song,
As low and wailing, yet clear the notes, rising and falling,
flooding the night,
Sadly sinking and fainting, as warning and warning, and yet again
bursting with joy,
Covering the earth and filling the spread of the heaven,
As that powerful psalm in the night I heard from recesses,
Passing, I leave thee lilac with heart-shaped leaves,
I leave thee there in the door-yard, blooming, returning with spring.

I cease from my song for thee,
From my gaze on thee in the west, fronting the west, communing with thee,
O comrade lustrous with silver face in the night.

Yet each to keep and all, retrievements out of the night,
The song, the wondrous chant of the gray-brown bird,
And the tallying chant, the echo arous’d in my soul,
With the lustrous and drooping star with the countenance full of woe,
With the holders holding my hand nearing the call of the bird,
Comrades mine and I in the midst, and their memory ever to keep, for
the dead I loved so well,
For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands—and this for
his dear sake,
Lilac and star and bird twined with the chant of my soul,
There in the fragrant pines and the cedars dusk and dim.


This poem is one of several that Walt Whitman wrote in honor President Lincoln after the President’s murder. it was published in 1865. It is my personal favorite and I think it one of Whitman’s best poems.

A Many-sided Field-day ~ March 1865 ~ 24th to 26th

A Many-sided Field-day


Talk of some type of evacuation of Richmond flourishes at many levels. Lee tries a desperate measure to relieve the siege but suffers a bitter loss. Longstreet worries about the number and morale of his soldiers. Whitman visits his brother George home now from a prison camp. Mexico struggles against the French invaders.

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March 24– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “Clear and very windy. The fear of utter famine is now assuming form. Those who have the means are laying up stores for the day of siege– I mean a closer and more rigorous siege– when all communications with the country shall cease; and this makes the commodities scarcer and the prices higher. There is a project on foot to send away some thousands of useless consumers; but how it is to be effected by the city authorities, and where they will be sent to, are questions I have not heard answered. The population of the city is not less than 100,000, and the markets cannot subsist 70,000. Then there is the army in the vicinity, which must be fed. I suppose the poultry and the sheep will be eaten, and something like a pro rata distribution of flour and meal ordered.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

March 24– Friday– Petersburg, Virginia– “I see no cause for despondency; but on the contrary, I think there is great encouragement to hope. Sherman has gone almost unopposed through the most flourishing portions of the Confederacy; but has he conquered the people? True, his progress will have a deleterious effect upon our cause abroad; but tis far from ‘crushing the rebellion.’ The repulse of our Peace Commissioners, has also produced a desirable effect, causing a greater unanimity of feeling to exist among our people than ever before. The ‘Negro’ bill has been passed, and already the Negroes are being put into the field. This will undoubtedly greatly increase our effective force, since the places of many of our troops now occupying the lines around Petersburg and Richmond can be easily filled; but I think this bill unconstitutional and violently antagonistic to the principles for which we are fighting; if however, tis reported to an act of necessity I cheerfully acquiesce. These men being relieved can operate more successfully upon the enemy’s flanks, and soon we would be ready for another foray into Pennsylvania. I know what you will say to this, since you’ve already told me, you were ‘opposed to invasion;’ but I believe that’s the only way to make the Yankees cry ‘enough.’Tis certainly better for us to enter the enemy’s country, and be fed by them, than remain in these detestable ditches poorly provided for, subject to every manner of disease and to death from the many and fiendish invasions of our foe. More men have been lost since we came south of Richmond than in the celebrated battle of Gettysburg. I’m glad to learn that Senator Hill and others are delivering addresses to the people of Georgia; for I am sorry to say I think they need some stimulus to make them do their duty, since they will not do it voluntarily. Now is the times we need their encouragement and their strongest efforts. Why do they withhold it? Surely they do expect to save anything by submission or reconstruction. On the contrary, they will lose everything, not even their home will be spared.” ~ Letters from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee Maggie Cone.

March 24– Friday– Quebec, Canada– Four political leaders are appointed to negotiate Confederation in London.

March 25– Saturday– New York City– “Benito Juarez, President of Mexico, has issued a New Year’s proclamation, dated Chihuahua, in which he urges upon all Mexicans to fight out the question with the [French] invaders. He reiterates his hope that he will triumph in the end. . . . The British army and navy estimates for the year 1865-6 have just been announced. The cost of the army is $71,000,000; of the navy $51,000,000. Total estimates for the military and naval establishments for the coming year, £24,76,671; or, in American currency, $123,703,355.” ~ Frank Leslies Weekly.

President Benito Juarez

President Benito Juarez

March 25– Saturday– Vernon County, Wisconsin– The “Claywater Meteorite” explodes just before reaching ground level. Its fragments, having a combined mass of 1.5 kg, are recovered.

March 25– Saturday– Headquarters First Army Corps, Virginia– “The impression prevails amongst the Georgia troops of this command that persons at home having authority to raise local organizations are writing and sending messages to the men in the ranks here, offering inducements to them to quit our ranks and go home and join the home organizations. The large and increasing number of desertions, particularly amongst the Georgia troops, induces me to believe that some such outside influence must be operating upon our men. Nearly all of the parties of deserters seem to go home, and it must be under the influence of some promise, such as being received in the local forces. I would suggest, therefore, the publication of a general order warning all officers or persons authorized to raise local organizations against receiving such deserters or in any way harboring them, and cautioning all such parties that they shall be punished for such crimes under the twenty-second and twenty-third Articles of War. It may be well to publish the articles in the order, and to send the order South to be published in all the Southern papers. If the order is published, I would suggest that copies be sent to the Southern papers by special messenger or by parties going South who will take pains to have it published, otherwise I fear it may miscarry or be delayed by our irregular mails. Another growing evil seems to trouble us now in the shape of applications to raise Negro companies, regiments, brigades, etc. The desire for promotion seems to have taken possession of our army, and it seems that nearly all the officers and men think that they could gain a grade or more if allowed to go home. I presume that many may try to go merely because they get furloughs. I would suggest, therefore, that some regulation be published upon this subject, and it seems to me that it should require the companies to be mustered in as non-commissioned officers and privates by the enrolling officers, and that all of the officers (general, field, and company) shall be selected from the officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates on duty with the armies of the Confederacy. If these matters are not speedily taken hold of by a firm hand, I fear that we shall be seriously damaged by them.” ~ Letter from Confederate General James Longstreet to Colonel W. H. Taylor.

General Longstreet

General Longstreet

March 25– Saturday– Petersburg, Virginia– In a desperate attempt to break the siege, Confederate troops launch a heavy attack against a Federal position called Fort Stedman. After day-long fighting, initial Southern success is turned into a defeat. Total casualties– dead, wounded, missing– are approximately 1400 for the Union and almost 4000 for the Confederacy.

March 25– Saturday– City Point, Virginia– “We may indeed call this a many-sided field-day: a break fast with a pleasure party, an assault and a recapture of an entrenched line, a review by the President of a division of infantry, and sharp fighting at sundry points of a front of eighteen miles! If that is not a mixed affair, I would like to know what is? It has been a lucky day, for us, and the 9th Corps, after patient waiting for eight months, have played the game of the ‘Mine’ against their antagonists. The official despatches will give you the main facts very well, but I can add some particulars. About daylight, the enemy having massed three divisions and a part of a fourth, made a sudden rush and carried Fort Stedman and about half a mile of line commanded by it. The garrisons of the forts on either side stood firm, however, and repelled a severe attack with much injury to the enemy. Meantime, General Parke had ordered that the works should be retaken, if it cost every man in the Corps; and all the scattered regiments immediately at hand were put in and checked a further advance, until General Hartranft (I m not sure about the spelling of his name) brought up the 3rd division, which had been camped in reserve. He person ally led in one brigade of it, with conspicuous gallantry, retook the whole portion lost, and captured, at one swoop, 1800 Rebels. It was just the ‘Mine,’ turned the other way: they got caught in there and could not get out. Their loss also in killed and wounded must have been severe, not only from musketry, but also from canister, which was thrown into a ravine by which they retreated. Upwards of a hundred Rebel dead lay in and round Fort Stedman alone. Our own losses in the 9th Corps will be somewhat over 800, half of whom may be reckoned prisoners, taken in the first surprise. I should guess the loss of their opponents as not less than 2600.” ~ Letter from Union officer Theodore Lyman to his wife Elizabeth.

interior section of Fort Stedman

interior section of Fort Stedman

March 25– Saturday– Mobile, Alabama– Federal forces begin a siege of the city.

March 26– Sunday– Brooklyn, New York– “I write a few lines to tell you how I find the folks at home. Both my mother & brother George looked much better than I expected. Mother is quite well, considering– she goes about her household affairs pretty much the same as ever, & is cheerful. My brother would be in what I would almost call fair condition, if it were not that his legs are affected– it seems to me it is rheumatism, following the fever he had– but I don’t know. He goes to bed quite sleepy & falls to sleep– but then soon wakes, & frequently little or no more sleep that night– he most always leaves the bed, & comes downstairs, & passes the night on the sofa. He goes out most every day though some days has to lay by. He is going to report to Annapolis promptly when his furlough is up. I told him I had no doubt I could get it extended, but he does not wish it. He says little, but is in first rate spirits. I am feeling finely & never enjoyed a visit home more than I am doing this. I find myself perplexed about printing my book. All the printers tell me I could not pick a more inopportune time– that in ten days prices of paper, composition &c will all be very much lower &c. I shall decide tomorrow.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his friends William D. and Ellen M. O’Connor.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

March 26– Sunday– Staunton, Virginia– “I am still at the Hotel & keeping it open. I have been trying hard to make some disposition of it but it seems impossible to do it & I fear the only way to save it until after the war is for me to keep it open & don’t know now who to get in it & for the present will have to stay here myself. Sometimes I think it best for you to come out here & live & when I think of the risk of all of our property I hesitate & can’t decide what is best for us all round but I think it will not be long until we will be able to judge more fully what is best & what to do. I assure you I am very anxious to be with you but I can’t ask you to abandon home with all its comforts to come here with me for my own comfort & pleasure & of course I have concluded to try & stand it longer.” ~ Letter from John Quincy Nadenbousch to his wife Hester.

March 26– Sunday– Richmond, Virginia– “I fear now it will be impossible to prevent a junction between Grant and Sherman, nor do I deem it prudent that this army should maintain its position until the latter shall approach too near.” ~ Message from Confederate General Robert E Lee to President Jeff Davis.

General Lee

General Lee

March 26– Sunday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “I feel it my duty this pleasant Sabbath Evening to Inform you that I just came from the hospital from seeing your husband and he requested me to write you a letter to let you know how he was and what had happened him. The Rebs did make a break in through the picket line about one mile from this yesterday morning and we was called out about 5 o’clock and about 6 o’clock we was in line of battle in front of the enemy and we had just gave them two volleys when Sylvester and I was both wounded. Sylvester is wounded through the leg but I guess the bone is not fractured any at least he thinks so. He was in very good spirits to day and I think that it wont be sore very long. I got a slight tap through one of my fingers on the left hand. Mine is a very light wound but it is pretty sore to day. Sylvester was taken to the Hospital just shortly after he was wounded and I came back to camp. There was eight wounded in our Company and one killed. The rest of the boys are all out yet lying at the breast works. There was some of them had to go on picket last night but they will come in this evening but we drove the rebs back and they loosed a good many men. They had taken two or three of our forts before we got to them but we soon took them all back and the report is that we took fifteen hundred prisoners. There was over three hundred of the rebs killed and our loss don’t exceed more than three hundred killed wounded and missing. . . . Old General Lee told his men that they would go to City Point again . . . when they started but the old fellow missed that game . . . . Well I must soon bring my scribbling to a close for I will have to get at and get supper.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Jacob Shearer to Harriet A. McElheney.

Reorganize as Protection Societies ~ March 1865 ~ 7th to 8th

Reorganize as Protection Societies

words of a prophet

words of a prophet

Lydia Maria Child, radical reformer, speaks with a prophet’s voice about the future and calls for action. An admirer writes to Whitman. While some citizens worry about another rebel threat from bases in Canada, Lincoln sees the threat diminished. Sherman’s troops push into North Carolina. Some in Canada oppose the idea of Confederation. While Child praises Lincoln’s inaugural address, a rebel clerk mocks it.

youthful Lydia Maria Child

youthful Lydia Maria Child

March 7– Tuesday– Wayland, Massachusetts– “It seems as if the end of this physical warfare was rapidly approaching; but we must all remember that the cessation of military hostilities is but the beginning of the great moral work that is to be accomplished. The disappointed and malignant slaveholders will doubtless enact the part of Cain, as they did in Jamaica. They will do all they possibly can to discourage and harass the emancipated laborers. They will exert all their power and all their cunning to make the system of free labor work badly, and then they will cry exultingly, ‘Behold the effects of emancipation!’ Mattie Griffith, who is now in Georgetown, D.C., writes to me that the colored people are shamefully treated by their former owners. It is well that the anti-slavery societies should disband as soon as their work is completed; but they ought to reorganize as protection societies. The newly-emancipated will need vigilant watchmen on the towers for one generation more, at least. Yet what a wonderful change has been wrought! Though everybody says it, I cannot help repeating, What a wonderful change! If you would measure the progress, read Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural and his last. How concise and significant, how full of wisdom and moral power, is that last brief address to the people! I have found a great deal of fault with President Lincoln, but, I must say, he has continually grown upon my respect and confidence. He is evidently a sensible, an honest, and a kindhearted man. I regard it as one of the best auguries for the American people that they has the good sense to stand by him at this important crisis. . . . How impressive is that portion of the President’s inaugural, where he says that every drop of blood drawn by the lash has been repaid by drops drawn by the sword! During the progress of the war, I have often been struck with the fact, that the same measure we have meted out has been measured unto us. The poor slaves had their children shot down, whipped to death, and torn from them to die afar off, and we heard of it with languid indifference, or has no execrations to bestow, except upon those who told of such deeds. They died by slow starvation, and we heeded it not. They were torn by bloodhounds, and we would not believe that Southern gentlemen could train ferocious brutes for such a purpose. And lo! we learn it all now, in the terrible school of experience. Slavery tears our children from us, to die far away from us; she starves them to skeletons; she tracks their flight with fierce bloodhounds. And, to complete the lesson, the poor, abused Negro, whom we have helped to abuse, hides them, and feeds them, and guides them to their friends. It seems to me that never, in human history, was the Divine Hand so plainly visible.” ~ Letter from Lydia Maria Child to Theodore Tilton. [Massachusetts-born Lydia Maria Francis Child, 1802– 1880, is a force of nature – abolitionist, feminist, author, editor, educator, anti-imperialist and all around reformer. See, The First Woman in the Republic: A Cultural Biography of Lydia Maria Child by Carolyn L Karcher (1994).]

Lydia Maria Child, c.1870

Lydia Maria Child, c.1870

March 7– Tuesday– Troy, New York– “Your last letter from Washington in the paper lying on my lap. Your book in the hands of my friend Lucy who sits there by the window reading it in the morning sunshine. She looks up suddenly and says ‘I think this is the soul I am waiting for, is Walt Whitman married?’ I cannot answer the question, but will you? I am not interested to know if you are married, but I would like to look in your face. How many years did you live ere you could look into the depths of all hearts. Through what experiences did you learn that lore? Remember, if ever the opportunity comes I will look in your face. It should say all that is in your book and something more. I want that something more.” ~ Letter from Celia M. Burr to Walt Whitman.

March 7– Tuesday– New York City– “The citizens of Oswego [New York] held a meeting yesterday, at which the Mayor presided, for the purpose of adopting measures for the better defense of the city from the anticipated rebel raid from Canada. A sufficient force had been detailed from Fort Ontario to patrol the streets at night.” ~ New York Herald.

March 7– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “The meeting at the Cabinet was interesting, the topics miscellaneous. Vice-President Johnson’s infirmity was mentioned. Seward’s tone and opinions were much changed since Saturday. He seems to have given up Johnson now, but no one appears to have been aware of any failing. I trust and am inclined to believe it a temporary ailment, which may, if rightly treated, be overcome.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

March 7– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Bright and frosty. Yesterday we had no certain accounts of the movements of Sheridan. His force was said to be near Charlottesville– at Keswich. Fitz Lee’s cavalry and Pickett’s infantry were sent in that direction. Not a word has yet appeared in the Richmond papers concerning this movement from the Valley– the papers being read daily in the enemy’s camp below. We hear of no corresponding movement on the part of Grant; and perhaps there was none. Preparations to evacuate the city are still being made with due diligence. If these indications do not suffice to bring the speculators into the ranks to defend their own property (they have no honor, of course), the city and the State are lost; and the property owners will deserve their fate. The extortioners ought to be hung, besides losing their property. This would be a very popular act on the part of the conquerors. . . . The packing up of the archives goes on, with directions to be as quiet as possible, so as ‘not to alarm the people.’ A large per cent of the population would behold the exodus with pleasure!” ~ Diary of John Jones.


March 7– Tuesday– Rockingham, North Carolina– Federal troops enter the state here and at other points, skirmishing with Confederate soldiers. It appears that General Sherman’s forces are headed for Fayetteville.

March 7– Tuesday– Nashville, Tennessee– “I have here in arrest two noted rebel women, Mrs. Dolly Battle and Miss Sallie Battle, who reside ten miles from Nashville, but came all the way to Wartrace, on horseback, two days ago, to re-coffin and bury the body of Trummel, alias Van Houghton, who was killed at that place on the night of the 21st ultimo, while engaged, with nine other guerrillas, in robbing the telegraph office and stores. The daguerreotypes of these two she-rebels were found on the body of this robber thief after he was killed, with letters from them showing great intimacy. They boast that they are rebels and have never taken the [loyalty] oath. Their father is an officer in the rebel army; their brother Bob is a guerrilla. This family have been spies and harborers of rebels and guerrillas since the beginning of the war. Their mother, as I was well informed last summer, boasts that they have done more good for the Confederate cause than a regiment of soldiers. I respectfully ask permission to send these two south of our lines.” ~ Letter from Union General Robert Milroy to General George Thomas.

March 7– Tuesday– Fredericton, New Brunswick– The provincial government rejects the proposal for Canadian Confederation.

Lincoln family-ZA9R12VL

March 8– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Whereas, pursuant to the order of the President of the United States, directions were issued from this Department, under date of the 17th of December, 1864, requiring passports from all travelers entering the United States, except immigrant passengers directly entering an American port from a foreign country; but whereas information has recently been received which affords reasonable grounds to expect that Her Britannic Majesty’s Government and the executive and legislative branches of the government of Canada have taken and will continue to take such steps as may be looked for from a friendly neighbor and will be effectual toward preventing hostile incursions from Canadian territory into the United States, the President directs that from and after this date the order above referred to requiring passports shall be modified, and so much thereof as relates to persons entering this country from Canada shall be rescinded, saving and reserving the order in all other respects in full force.” ~ Executive Order from President Lincoln.

March 8– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Damp and foggy. . . . President Lincoln’s short inaugural message, or homily, or sermon, has been received. It is filled with texts from the Bible. He says both sides pray to the same God for aid– one upholding and the other destroying African slavery. If slavery be an offense,– and woe shall fall upon those by whom offenses come,– perhaps not only all the slaves will be lost, but all the accumulated products of their labor be swept away. In short, he ‘quotes Scripture for the deed’ quite as fluently as our President; and since both Presidents resort to religious justification, it may be feared the war is about to assume a more sanguinary aspect and a more cruel nature than ever before. God help us! The history of man, even in the Bible, is but a series of bloody wars. It must be thus to make us appreciate the blessings of peace, and to bow in humble adoration of the great Father of all. The Garden of Eden could not yield contentment to man, nor heaven satisfy all the angels.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

March 8– Wednesday– Bloomington, Illinois– Birth of Frederic W Goudy, designer of numerous typefaces. [Dies May 11, 1947.]

Frederick W Goudy, circa 1924

Frederick W Goudy, circa 1924

March 8– Wednesday– Bolivar, Tennessee– “Nothing from Lettie [a house slave] yet. Yesterday morning Sister Mary sent her to Mrs. Grey’s, and upon finding at the expiration of three of four hours, she failed to return, sent for her, but she had left there some time before, I suppose for Yankeedom. Joy go with her. Sister and myself cleaned up our rooms this morning alone and before the Negroes had risen. (So much for Southern cruelty). She made the fire. I made up my bed and did various other things as cheerfully as any one. Had the rooms cleaned, breakfast over and baby washed and dressed before nine. When Lettie was here the rooms were generally done about eleven. Ha! Ha! Ha! I’m very glad she’s gone. The rest [of the slaves] will follow her example. The nuisances! Two women, one man and four children, all save one able to work, can’t get ready for business until ten or eleven o’clock in the morning. Isn’t it perfectly ridiculous! O Yankees, Yankees, what mistakes you have made in your attempt at sympathy and kindness.” ~ Diary of Sally Wendel Fentress.

March 8– Wednesday– Macon, Georgia– “The Senate took up the report of the committee upon the bill to be entitled an act to make an appropriation of two millions of dollars, in addition to the appropriation already made for the support of indigent families of Soldiers, who are in the public service, and for the support of indigent soldiers who have been or may be hereafter disabled by wounds or disease in the Confederate or State service, for the year 1865, and for other purposes.” ~ record of the Georgia state legislature.

chitchat among ladies-EA3C19FA75C61EA882_5730

March 8– Wednesday– Gopher Hill, Georgia– “I went up to Americus [Georgia] yesterday, with Flora and Captain Rust, to see Cousin Bolling about my eyes, expecting to return to Gopher Hill on the afternoon train, but Cousin Bessie insisted that we should stay to dinner, and her attempt to have it served early was so unsuccessful that Captain Rust and I got to the station just in time to see the train moving off without us. Flora had another engagement, that caused her to decline Mrs. Pope’s invitation, so she made the train, but the captain and I had nothing for it but to spend the night in Americus and kill the night as best we could. I was repaid for the annoyance of getting left by the favorable report Cousin Bolling gave of my eyes. He says it is nothing but the effects of measles that ails them, and they are almost well. I occupied Flora’s room that night. Cousin Bessie lent me one of her fine embroidered linen nightgowns, and I was so overpowered at having on a decent piece of underclothing after the coarse Macon Mills homespun I have been wearing for the last two years, that I could hardly go to sleep. I stood before the glass and looked at myself after I was undressed just to see how nice it was to have on a respectable undergarment once more. I can stand patched-up dresses, and even take a pride in wearing Confederate homespun, where it is done open and above board, but I can’t help feeling vulgar and common in coarse underclothes. Cousin Bessie has brought quantities of beautiful things from beyond the blockade, that make us poor Rebs look like ragamuffins beside her. She has crossed the lines by special permit, and will be obliged to return to Memphis by the 2nd of April, when her pass will be out. It seems funny for a white woman to have to get a pass to see her husband, just like the Negro men here do when their wives live on another plantation. The times have brought about some strange up-turnings. Cousin Bolling is awfully blue about the war, and it does begin to look as if our poor little Confederacy was about on its last legs, but I am so accustomed to all sorts of vicissitudes that I try not to let thoughts of the inevitable disturb me. The time to be blue was five years ago, before we went into it. . . . Captain Rust was so afraid of being left again that he would not wait for the omnibus, but trotted me off on foot an hour ahead of time, although it was raining. We met Mr. Wheatley and Major Daniel on our way to the depot, and they told us that a dispatch had just been received stating that the Yanks have landed at St. Mark’s [Florida] and are marching on Tallahassee. We first heard they were 4,000 strong, but before we reached the depot, their numbers had swelled to 15,000.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

You Are to Press to the Utmost ~ March 1865 ~ 2nd to 3rd

You Are to Press to the Utmost

General Grant

General Grant

As the capital prepares for Lincoln’s second inauguration, the President instructs General Grant to press hard against General Lee and to have no discussion except about terms of surrender. Southern soldiers and civilians worry about the state of affairs. Northerners in Boston honor African American history. Walt Whitman has returned to caring for wounded soldiers.


March 2– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “Had a houseful of visitors to witness the inauguration. Speaker Colfax is grouty because Mrs. Welles has not called on his mother– a piece of etiquette which Seward says is proper.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

March 2– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Raining. No well-authenticated news; but by many it is believed Staunton is in the hands of the enemy, and Lynchburg menaced. Nevertheless, the government is sending a portion of the archives and stores to Lynchburg! The clergymen are at work begging supplies for the soldiers; and they say the holding of Richmond and the success of the cause depend upon the success of their efforts, the government being null! A large per cent of these preachers is of Northern birth– and some of them may possibly betray the cause if they deem it desperate. This is the history of such men in the South so far. But the President trusts them, and we must trust the President.” ~ Diary of John Jones.


March 2– Thursday– in the forests of North Carolina– “I will write again today, although I feel almost certain my letters will never reach you. My anxiety to hear from you is getting more & more great & my mind more & more troubled. I try to make myself believe that you are all well & happy in the old home. But fears & doubts will arise & make me feel unhappy, & my being inactive & confined to the house, has a tendency to make me feel gloomy low spirited & very homesick. The Yankees are unable to move on account of the mud it having rained more or less for 6 days & is still drizzling, dark clouds hanging low with prospects of more rain. The roads are in terrible condition.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Barrington King to his wife Bessie.

March 2– Thursday– McMinnville, Tennessee– “I was just telling Puss [a slave] to go back and stay with her mother [a slave called Mammy], when Bruno [a dog] began to bark and growl savagely– we heard a noise too, like a scream. . . . In a moment we heard it again and she ran to the door– as she opened it, I heard thru the driving and beating of the storm a wild ‘Hello!’At the same instant Mammy emerged from the darkness exclaiming ‘it’s somebody– it’s soldiers– they’re hollering hello! G_d d__n you! Hello!’ She was frightened and I told Puss to run back with her. I was here with the children, Carolina was asleep. In a half minute I could see whenever the lightning flashed several horsemen riding around the house and soon came the usual routine of oaths accompanied with ‘Where’s the man of the house? We want meat– hand us out some hams, quick here.’ . . . . I thought they were all about to rush in. They rode up to the porch when I said ‘You can’t do that– if I had provisions I would be willing to give it to you– but I have not– and this day received a strong protection from the commanding officer here, who orders all this command not only to protect but to defend me and my property [as] is necessary. Go on quietly to town and you will be provided with something to eat there.’ ‘D__n it and who’s to give it to us?’ ‘Your commander, of course.’ . . . . I could say no more– the rain drove into my face. I saw they had left the porch. I shut the door and locked it with trembling hands. I sank into a chair by the stairs, shaking all over. I rubbed my hands and tried my best to keep it off but it would come– one of those hard nervous chills. Every moment I expected to hear them come against the door or to hear some fuss down at the [slave] cabin where I thought they had gone. I got to the wardrobe, swallowed some brandy and then sat down on my bed. . . . The wretches did not return but I was tormented all the while not knowing what they might be at down at the cabin.” ~ Journal of Lucy Virginia French.

soldiers plundering a local farm

soldiers plundering a local farm

March 2– Thursday– Blue Spring, Georgia– “We left Pine Bluff at eleven o’clock and reached the Blue Spring in time for lunch. Albert Bacon and Jimmy Chiles were there to meet us. Hang a petticoat on a bean pole and carry it where you will, Jimmy will follow. The river is so high that its muddy waters have backed up into the spring and destroyed its beauty, but we enjoyed the glorious flowers that bloom around it, and saw some brilliant birds of a kind that were new to me. Mr. Bacon said he would kill one and give me to trim my hat.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

Reverend Volkner's grave

Reverend Volkner’s grave

March 2– Thursday– Opotiki, New Zealand– Carl Sylvius Volkner, a German-born Christian missionary, age 45, is hanged and decapitated by Maori traditional religionists.

March 3– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–”Notice. The martyrdom of Crispus Attucks (March 5th, 1770) will be commemorated on Tuesday Evening, March 7th, at the Meionaon, (Tremont Temple). The eloquent counselor and orator, John M. Langston, Esq., of Oberlin, will deliver an address on ‘The Colored American as a Soldier,’ and the distinguished and eloquent poet and speaker, Mrs. Frances Watkins Haper, of Baltimore, on ‘The Mission of the War.’ Exercises to be accompanied with appropriate music. For particulars, see bills of the day. Tickets, 25 cents each, to be obtained of R. F. Wallcut, Anti-Slavery office, 221 Washington Street, and at the door, or of William C. Nell.” ~ The Liberator. [On Crispus Attucks, see Chapter 2 of Landmarks of African American History by James Horton (2005); on John M Langston, see John Mercer Langston and the Fight for Black Freedom, 1829– 65 by William Cheek and Aimee Lee Cheek (1989).]

John Mercer Langston

John Mercer Langston

March 3– Friday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln signs into law legislation establishing the Freedman’s Bureau to provide education and advancement for freed slaves.

March 3– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “The city quite full of people. General Halleck has apprehensions that there may be mischief. Thinks precautions should be taken. Advises that the navy yard should be closed. I do not participate in these fears, and yet I will not say it is not prudent to guard against contingencies. At the Cabinet-meeting to-day, the President gave formal notice that he proposed inviting McCulloch to the [position of Secretary of the] Treasury early next week. He said that . . . in regard to the other gentlemen of the Cabinet, he wished none of them to resign, at least for the present, for he contemplated no changes.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

March 3– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “The President directs me to say to you that he wishes you to have no conference with General Lee unless it be for the capitulation of General Lee’s army, or on some minor and purely military matter. He instructs me to say that you are not to decide, discuss, or confer upon any political question. Such questions the President holds in his own hands, and will submit them to no military conferences or conventions. Meantime you are to press to the utmost your military advantages.” ~ Telegram from Secretary of War Edwin Stanton to Union General Ulysses S. Grant.

General Lee

General Lee

March 3– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “Your letter has reached me– my best thanks for your contribution to the wounded & sick, & shall be applied in most needy cases. You speak of seeing Dr. Russell– has he not rec’d a N. Y. Times of two months since containing a sketch of my Visits to Hospitals? I thought one had been sent him. If he has not had one I should like to send one to him. The paragraph in the Gazette by Mr Shillaber is very kind. I do not wish you to send me any of the papers. Nothing new or special with me. I believe I told you I was working a few hours a day, a sufficiently remunerative desk in Indian office. I spend a couple of hours day or evening in the hospitals.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to John Townsend Trowbridge.

March 3– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “Raining and cold. . . . Thank God, I have some 300 pounds of flour and half that amount of meal–bread rations for my family, seven in number, for more than two months! I have but 7-1/2 pounds of meat; but we can live without it, as we have often done. I have a bushel of peas also, and coal and wood for a month. This is a guarantee against immediate starvation, should the famine become more rigorous, upon which we may felicitate ourselves. Our nominal income has been increased; amounting now to some $16,000 in [Confederate] paper– less than $300 in specie [gold or silver coin]. . . . It is rumored that [Confederate] General [Jubal] Early has been beaten again at Waynesborough, and that the enemy have reached Charlottesville for the first time. Thus it seems our downward career continues. We must have a victory soon, else Virginia is irretrievably lost. . . . It is said they are fighting at Gordonsville; whether or not the enemy have Charlottesville is therefore uncertain. I presume it is an advance of [Union General Phil] Sheridan’s cavalry whom our troops have engaged at Gordonsville.”~ Diary of John Jones.


March 3– Friday– in the forests of North Carolina– “I am rejoiced to hear there is a regular mail communication opened yesterday between this place and Georgia. The command has been in a fight lately [and] two of my old company were killed – Shaw living near Roswell was one, the other Mahaffey of Gwinnett. If possible let Mrs. Shaw know. They were killed in a charge on Sherman’s wagons three days ago. I can’t hear the particulars. You will see in the papers a correspondence between Sherman & General Hampton about killing Sherman’s foragers. None are taken prisoners but all killed. I am afraid my darling wife that I will not be able to get any furlough this spring, as long as the campaign continues active I will not apply, as I will be needed with the command.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Barrington King to his wife Bessie.

March 3– Friday– Macon, Georgia– “I am informed that the Government of the United States, will permit cotton to be shipped through the blockade, to be sold North and the proceeds applied to the relief of our suffering prisoners confined in their prisons. I also learn, that other States have taken action in this matter for the relief of their suffering sons. None have done their duty more faithfully than the Georgia troops, and while we provide for the wants of those under arms and their families, we should not forget those who languish in foreign confinement. I, therefore, recommend an appropriation sufficient to purchase one thousand bales of cotton to be shipped to New York and sold, and the proceeds applied to their relief. And I further recommend that the Governor be authorized to appoint a proper agent to go to New York, and see to the sale of the cotton and the proper application of the fund.” ~ Message from Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown to the state senate.

planter's mansion

planter’s mansion

March 3– Friday– Gopher Hill, Georgia– “Up at daybreak, and on the train, ready to leave Albany. Albert and Jimmy were there, of course, besides a number of Albany people who had come to see us off – a great compliment at that heathenish hour. We got off at Wooten’s Station, only twelve miles from Albany. Flora and Captain Rust were there to meet us with conveyances for Gopher Hill. It is worth the journey from Pine Bluff to Gopher Hill just to travel over the road between there and Wooten’s. It runs nearly all the way through swamps alive with the beauty and fragrance of spring. . . . . On each side of the avenue leading to the house is a small lake, and about two miles back in the plantation, a large one on which Flora has a row-boat. She has a beautiful pony named Fleet, that is the counterpart of our own dear little Dixie. Colonel Maxwell has a great many fine horses and all sorts of conveyances, which are at the service of his guests. He is one of the most aristocratic-looking old gentlemen I ever saw. In manners, appearance, and disposition, he is strikingly like Brother Troup, except that the colonel is very large and commanding, while Brother Troup is small and dapper. He is very handsome – next to Bishop Elliot, one of the finest specimens of Southern manhood I ever saw. It is one of the cases where blood will tell, for he has the best of Georgia in his veins, or to go back further, the best in old Scotland itself. Though over sixty years old, he has never been out of the State, and is as full of whims and prejudices as the traditional old country squire that we read about in English novels. His present wife, Flora’s stepmother, is much younger than he, very gay and witty, and escapes all worry by taking a humorous view of him and his crotchets. He and Flora idolize each other, and she is the only person that can do anything with him, and not always even she, when he once gets his head fast set.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

March 3– Friday– Kharkin, Ukraine– Birth of Alexander Gustav Adolfovich Winkler, composer, pianist and educator. [Dies August 6, 1935.]

HSBC headquarters, 1901

HSBC headquarters, 1901

March 3– Friday– Hong Kong, China– Opening of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, the founding member of the HSBC Group.

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

Fighting Can Never End this War ~ the Georgia state legislature

federal ambulances

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


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

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

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

Joseph Segar

Joseph Segar

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

infantry charge

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

Thomas C. Fletcher, Governor of Missouri

Thomas C. Fletcher, Governor of Missouri

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

Louisa Whitman

Louisa Whitman

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

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

federal canon

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

Joseph E. Brown, Governor of Georgia

Joseph E. Brown, Governor of Georgia

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

No uch Consent Can Ever Be Given ~ February 1865~ 15th to 16th

No Such Consent Can Ever Be Given


The angry governor of Georgia calls on the state legislature for action as he verbally attacks the administration in Richmond and denies that the Confederacy can legally take slaves into the army. A Tennessee newspaper observes the reticence of white people to see black soldiers in the Union army. Heavy fighting continues in South Carolina. A Richmond newspaper sarcastically criticizes civilians who claim to know better than generals. A friend of Walt Whitman prepares a box to send to Whitman’s brother George in a Southern prison camp. Neither Whitman nor his friend yet know that George has been released and is arriving at Anapolis Maryland.

Federal cavalry

Federal cavalry

February 15– Wednesday– Congree Creek, South Carolina; Savannah Creek, South Carolina; Bate’s Ferry, South Carolina; Red Bank Creek, South Carolina; near Lexington, South Carolina– Heavy skirmishing fails to stop the Federal advance.

Macon, Georgia~ circa 1900

Macon, Georgia~ circa 1900

February 15– Wednesday– Macon, Georgia– “Since your adjournment in November, the army of invasion, led by a bold and skillful General, have passed through our State, laid waste our fields, burned many dwelling houses, destroyed county records, applied the torch to [cotton] gin-houses, cotton, and other property, occupied and desecrated the capitol, and now hold the city of Savannah, which gives them a water base from which they may in future operate upon the interior of the State. The army of Tennessee, which contained a large number of Georgia troops, and was relied on as the only barrier to Sherman’s advance, the removal of which left Georgia at the mercy of the enemy, was ordered off beyond the Tennessee river upon a campaign which has terminated in disaster. In the midst of these misfortunes Georgia has been taunted by some of the public journals of other States because her people did not drive back and destroy the army of the enemy. Those who do us this injustice fail to state the well known fact that of all the tens of thousands of veteran infantry, including most of the vigor and manhood of the State, which she had furnished for Confederate service, but a single regiment (the Georgia Regulars,) of about three hundred effective men, was permitted to be upon her soil during the march of General Sherman from her North-western border to the city of Savannah; and even that gallant regiment was kept upon one of our islands most of the time; and not permitted to unite with those who met the enemy. Nor were the places of our absent sons filled by troops from other States. . . . The administration, by its unfortunate policy having wasted our strength and reduced our armies, and being unable to get freemen into the field as conscripts, and unwilling to accept them in organizations with officers of their own choice, will, it is believed, soon resort to the policy of filling them up by the conscription of slaves. I am satisfied that we may profitably use slave labor, so far as it can be spared from agriculture, to do menial service in connection with the army, and thereby enable more free white men to take up arms; but I am quite sure any attempt to arm the slaves will be a great error. If we expect to continue the war successfully, we are obliged to have the labor of most of them in the production of provisions. But if this difficulty were surmounted, we can not rely upon them as soldiers. They are now quietly serving us at home, because they do not wish to go into the army, and they fear, if they leave us, the enemy will put them there. If we compel them to take up arms, their whole feeling and conduct will change, and they will leave us by thousands. A single proclamation by President Lincoln that all who will desert us after they are forced into service, and go over to him, shall have their freedom, be taken out of the army, and permitted to go into the country in his possession, and receive wages for their labor would disband them by brigades. Whatever may be our opinion of their normal condition or their true interest, we can not expect them, if they remain with us, to perform deeds of heroic valor, when they are fighting to continue the enslavement of their wives and children. It is not reasonable for us to demand it of them, and we have little cause to expect the blessings of Heaven upon our efforts if we compel them to perform such a task. If we are right, and Providence designed them for slavery, He did not intend that they should be a military people. Whenever we establish the fact that they are a military race, we destroy our whole theory that they are unfit to be free. But it is said we should give them their freedom in case of their fidelity to our cause in the field; in other words, that we should give up slavery, as well as our personal liberty and State sovereignty, for independence, and should set all our slaves free if they will aid us to achieve it. . . . When we arm the slaves, we abandon slavery. We can never again govern them as slaves, and make the institution profitable to ourselves or to them, after tens of thousands of them have been taught the use of arms . . . . It can never be admitted by the State that the Confederate Government has any power directly or indirectly to abolish slavery. The provision in the Constitution which by implication authorizes the Confederate Government to take private property for public use only, authorizes the use of the property during the existence of the emergency which justifies the taking. . . . So the Government may impress slaves to do the labor of servants, as to fortify a city, if it cannot obtain them by contract, and it is bound to pay the owner just hire for the time it uses them. But the impressment can vest no title to the slave in the Government for a longer period than the emergency requires the labor. It has not the shadow of right to impress and pay for a slave to set him free. The moment it ceases to need his labor the use reverts to the owner who has the title. If we admit the right of the Government to impress and pay for slaves to free them we concede its power to abolish slavery, and change our domestic institutions at its pleasure, and to tax us to raise the money for that purpose. I am not aware of the advocacy of such a monstrous doctrine in the old Congress by any one of the more rational class of abolitionists. It certainly never found an advocate in any Southern statesman. No slave can ever be liberated by the Confederate Government without the consent of the States. No such consent can ever be given by this State without a previous alteration of her Constitution. And no such alteration can be made without a convention of her people.” ~ Message from Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown to a special session of the Georgia legislature.

Governor Joseph E Brown

Governor Joseph E Brown

February 15– Wednesday– Knoxville, Tennessee– “Some of our most refined citizens have so great a horror for white officers who stoop to command Negro regiments or brigades, that they say they can’t treat them with respect. Let us look into this matter, and reason a little about the case. These officers are officers of the United States army, and are only doing their duty by obeying their superiors. Our Government has resolved on arming and fighting the Negroes, and in our judgment Negroes are good enough to fight rebels with. And as the fight is about the Negro, it is proper that he should take a hand. But, for years past– forty years of the time we can recollect– monied men of the South have bought up droves of Negroes, put them in irons and driven them through here to the States of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, with the lordly owners on the horses, with large stock, driving whips in hand, occasionally used upon such Negroes as would lag behind. In many instances they have traveled on with the drove in carriages, and on springs, with select mulatto girls, to take care of them during their absence from home! In many instances, when the have sold these girls for the money they have sold their own offsprings and relatives! When these traders have been successful and made fortunes, man and families have taken them into their houses, treated with great deference, and recognized them as fit associates, who now turn up their noses in derision at an officer who will consent to command Negroes ! What inconsistent creatures we are!” ~ Brownlow’s Whig and Independent Journal and Rebel Ventilator.


February 16– Thursday– New York City– “The operations against the City of Charleston itself are of a very complex character; but perfect success has crowned each of the separate movements. The rebels give us news to-day of two new operations, both of which were successes. We effected a landing on Friday last upon James Island, and the rebels say we are here within two miles of the City of Charleston, the cradle of secession, where the war was begun, and which we had given up expecting to capture till its final close. Our transports and troops have also ascended the North Edisto [River], have crossed to the main land, established themselves near by on the railroad, and can thus move upon the city’s flank, maintaining all the time communications with the seaboard, and finally cooperating with the forces on James Island. Every one knows, also, that for operations against Charleston, we have, beside the army, a very powerful fleet under Admiral Dahlgren, from whom naval officers and General Sherman himself expects much. The people of the North are not extravagant in expecting every hour to hear of the capture of the city; but it would be a victory doubly worthy of Sherman if he should capture with it the forces of the dodging [Confederate General] Hardee.” ~ New York Times.

February 16– Thursday– New York City– “On the receipt of your favor of the 26th ult., I arranged with Captain Walton for the sending of a box to our dear and brave boys at the Danville Military Prison. And to-day I am having a box put up which will start tomorrow. Captain Wright does not think the boxes will ever reach our boys– but this shall not prevent my trying to get them things to keep the breath of life in them, and to cheer them up. Of the articles you enumerate, I omitted tobacco, fearing it could perfume and render the food impalatable [sic]. I added desiccated vegetables in its stead. It is about time you heard from the first box you sent. Have you? If the accounts in the papers are correct, we ought to have the boys back again before long. I hope their turn for [prisoner] exchange will come first.” ~ Letter from Elliot F. Shepard to Walt Whitman.

George Whitman

George Whitman

February 16– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “The Confederacy is blessed with a great number of ‘Street-Corner Generals.’ They plan a campaign with sagacity, elaborate the various combinations with care and patience, and conduct it invariably to a successful, and even brilliant, conclusion. Their extensive military information, strong reasoning faculties, and decision and energy of tone and manner, never fail to cheer us with the hope that our country has yet in reserve an amount of military genius which, in the last extremity, will prove her salvation. We never fail to derive information and advantage from the criticisms of these Generals in Reserve on the other Generals now in the field. We always like to hear men talking on any subject which their previous education has not prepared them to comprehend. It shows original genius and vigor of understanding to grasp and master in an instant sciences which other men have only been able to subjugate by long years of study. . . . We long for the time when the merits of the Street-Corner Generals will be properly appreciated by their Government, and our armies be placed under their direct supervision and control. We have had too much of West Point in this war. It is high time that the volunteer genius of the country should burst the cords that hold it to the earth, and, with three armies and a hopeful nation on its back, soar aloft.” ~ Richmond Times Dispatch

February 16– Thursday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “We have had a lively time today, both sides doing their best to shell out the other. On the 9th Corp front, to the right of our line, the air has been full of shot and shell and the roar of canon has been heard all day. All quiet on our front however. Our Rebel neighbors are good natured.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

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

Busy Tearing up the Railroad ~ a Union officer

skirmishing in South Carolina

skirmishing in South Carolina

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

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

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

Isabella Beeton

Isabella Beeton

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

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

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


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

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

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

Waiting for the Hour, a gift to President Lincoln

Waiting for the Hour, a gift to President Lincoln

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

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

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

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

Governor Andrew Magrath of South Carolina

Governor Andrew Magrath of South Carolina

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

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

typical of the South Carolina railroads destroyed by Federal Troops

typical of the South Carolina railroads destroyed by Federal Troops

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

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

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

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

Henry McDaniel

Henry McDaniel

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

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

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

Dr Esther H Hawks

Dr Esther H Hawks

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

Gregor Mendel

Gregor Mendel

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

After Eighty Years of Wandering ~ William Lloyd Garrison


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

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

William Lloyd Garrison

William Lloyd Garrison

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

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

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

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

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

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

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

Union General Oliver O Howard

Union General Oliver O Howard

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

John Swinton

John Swinton

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

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

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

Gideon Welles

Gideon Welles

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

John Townsend Trowbridge

John Townsend Trowbridge

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

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

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

This Minute Talking Peace

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


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

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

Federal Supply Train

Federal Supply Train

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

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

black silk dress, February, 1865

black silk dress, February, 1865

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

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

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

River Queen

River Queen

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

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

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

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

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

Alexander Stephens

Alexander Stephens

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

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

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

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

George Whitman

George Whitman

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

John C Calhoun, defender of slavery

John C Calhoun, defender of slavery

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

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

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

Taney Must Have Shivered in the Tomb ~ February 1865 ~ the 1st to 2nd

Roger B Taney Must Have Shivered in the Tomb ~ George Templeton Strong

The recently deceased author of the infamous decision in the Dred Scott case is criticized as the constitutional amendment banning slavery goes to the states for ratification. Lincoln’s home state proudly becomes the first to ratify. Sherman begins major operations in South Carolina. Lincoln attempts to negotiate peace.


February– Boston, Massachusetts– “By this record will the world judge Chief Justice Taney. His great familiarity with the special practice; his knowledge of the peculiar jurisdiction of his tribunals . . . after doing service for the day in the mechanical branch of his craft, will soon be all forgotten. But the slavocrats’ revolution of the last two generations, and the Secession war, and the triumph of Liberty, will be the theme of the world; and he, of all who precipitated them, will be most likely, after the traitor leaders, to be held in infamous remembrance; for he did more than any other individual,– more than any President, if not more than all,– more in one hour than the Legislature in thirty years,– to extend the Slave Power. Indeed, he had solemnly decided all and more than all  that President Buchanan, closing his long political life of servility in imbecility, in December, 1860, asked to have adopted as an ‘explanatory amendment’ of the Constitution, to fully satisfy the Slave Power. . . . But those he served themselves with the sword cut the knot he so securely tied; his own State was tearing off the poisoned robe in the very hour in which he was called before the Judge of all. America stood forth once more the same she was when the old man was a boy. The work which he had watched for years and generations, the work of evil to which all the art of man and the power of the State had been subservient, that work which he sought to finish with the fatal decree of his august bench, one cannon-shot shattered forever. He is dead. Slavery is dying. The destiny of the country is in the hand of the Eternal Lord.” ~ Article by Charles M Ellis on the late Chief Justice Roger B. Taney in this month’s issue of the Atlantic Monthly. [Charles M. Ellis, 1818 – 1878, a Boston lawyer and determined abolitionist, was one of the attorneys who represented the fugitive slave Anthony Burns. For a history of the case and more about Ellis, see, The Trials of Anthony Burns: Freedom and Slavery in Emerson’s Boston by Albert J Von Frank (1999), pp. 75-79, 127-128, 131-146, 191-207.]

page from Godey's Lady's Book

page from Godey’s Lady’s Book

February– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– “The sending of Valentines is going out of date, but still the custom is somewhat kept up. Our illustration shows a family so anxiously watching the postman going to their neighbors that they do not see the servant bringing in their own letters. It is a very pretty engraving any way, and reflects great credit on the artist, Lauderback, about whom we take this occasion to say, that he is the best engraver on wood in this city. The most sensible Valentine to send a lady is a copy of Godey for one year.” ~ Godey’s Lady’s Book.

February 1– Wednesday–Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln signs the resolution for the Thirteenth Amendment, sending it to the states for ratification.

February 1– Wednesday– New York City– “The constitutional amendment prohibiting slavery within the United States passed the House yesterday by a vote of 119 to 56, a little more the required two-thirds. . . . The Senate has already passed on it, but three-fourths of the states must endorse the amendment before it can become part of the Constitution. Unless affairs change greatly for the worse within six months, it will be ratified. The current sets steadily that way; witness this vote compared with the last, 95 to 65, when the measure failed for want of a two-thirds majority. No one expected it to prevail in this Congress. Who thought four years ago that John Brown would march so fast? And here has the Supreme Court of the United States just been admitting a colored person one of its attorneys and counsellors, on motion of Charles Sumner. . . . The dust that was Roger B Taney must have shivered in its tomb when the motion was granted.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

February 1– Wednesday–Washington, D.C.– “Well, mother, how are you getting along? we had a cold week, but the past three days has been much moderated. I am satisfied in the main with my room. I have such a good bed & my stove does very well– it is a little bit out of the way in location. My work as clerk in the Indian office is quite easy. I am through by 4. I find plenty who know me. I received a week’s pay on Monday, came very acceptable. My appetite is not very good, but I feel very well upon the whole. . . . I am very glad I have employment (& pay). I must try to keep it. I send you an envelope, so that you can write me a letter soon as convenient.” ~ Letter from Walt Whitman to his mother Louisa.

Louisa Whitman

Louisa Whitman

February 1– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “It has been more than a month since the writer left Richmond; he has mingled freely with people of all shades of opinion; with the friends as well as with the opponents of the Administration; and he is painfully convinced that he does not exaggerate when he says that the authorities at Richmond must concede something to popular sentiment – that the press must be more reticent and forbearing, remembering that it is one-thing to criticize the conduct of public men and point out their errors as we would those of a friend, and quite another thing to denounce them and destroy their power for future good – and that the standard of private virtue and public morals must be elevated, and the people called away from the groves and high places where Mammon is worshiped, and where patriotism is bartered away for gold. If something like this be not done; if, in other words, a remedy for existing disorders be not found and speedily applied, those in authority, as well as the press and the people, may live to see the day when they will call upon the rocks and mountains to fall upon them and hide them from the consequences of their own infatuation. People in Richmond, at the time I left the capital, had but a faint idea of the real condition of affairs. The Administration itself did not begin to realize the estimation in which it is held by the country – whether rightfully or wrongfully, I need not now stop to consider. The fact is what I am after, and the fact is as I have stated it to be. Such is the malady. What is the remedy? Patience and firmness on the part of the people; reticence, forbearance and judicious criticism on the part of the press; and conciliation and a generous confidence on the part of the Government, and an energetic administration of military affairs, so that all the resources of the country, whether of men or material, and of men, whether black or white, shall be made available in the struggle for our liberties. A long pull, a strong pull, and a pull all together, would secure our independence as surely as to-morrow’s sun will rise and set.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to the editor of the Richmond Times Dispatch.

disabled veterans

disabled veterans

February 1– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Clear and pleasant; subsequently thawing and foggy. General Robert E. Lee has been appointed General-in-Chief by the President, in response to the recent action of Congress and the clamorous demands of the people. It is to be hoped he will, nevertheless, remain in person at the head of the Army of Virginia, else the change may be fraught with disaster, and then his popularity will vanish! He has not been fortunate when not present with the troops under his command, as evidenced by Early’s defeat and Jones’s disaster in the Valley last year. A general must continue to reap successes if he retains his popularity. General Lee has called upon the people everywhere to send in any cavalry arms and equipments in their possession– the importation being stopped.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

February 1– Wednesday– Springfield, Illinois– In the President’s home state of Illinois, the legislature becomes the first state to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment as soon as they receive notice by telegraph of Lincoln having signed the resolution.

the Thirteenth Amendment

the Thirteenth Amendment

February 1– Wednesday– across southern South Carolina– Federal forces under General Sherman are moving in force. As in Georgia, Sherman has multiple columns of troops moving at one time in slightly different directions, causing the Confederate forces to wonder if his target is Charleston or some other place.

February 1– Wednesday– Manchester, Indiana– Birth of Henry Luke Bolley, educator, botanist and researcher. [Dies November 10, 1956.]

Henry Luke Bolley

Henry Luke Bolley

February 2– Wednesday– Providence, Rhode Island– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 2– Thursday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “An erroneous supposition in regard to the rights of a substitute in the army is very generally prevalent and needs correction. It seems to be understood that a substitute has the right to elect to what regiment he shall be designed. Such is not the case. All substitutes are assigned by squads to different regiments as fast as the War Department has need for them. The mistake perhaps arises from a confusion of the rights accorded to a substitute with those belonging to a representative recruit– a substitute for a person act liable to draft– who enjoys all the privileges of a volunteer. But a substitute for an enrolled person, whether that person has been drafted or merely liable to draft, is not allowed the government bounty, or the right of choosing his own regiment.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

February 2– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “The President and Mr. Seward have gone to Hampton Roads to have an interview with the Rebel commissioners– Stephens, Hunter, and Campbell. None of the Cabinet were advised of this move, and without exception, I think, it struck them unfavorably that the Chief Magistrate should have gone on such a mission.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.


February 2– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “In response to a serenade last night, President Lincoln said he supposed the passage through Congress of the Constitutional Amendment for abolishing slavery throughout the United States was the occasion to which be was indebted for the honor of this call. (Applause.) The occasion was one of congratulation to the country, and to the whole world. But there lay a task yet before us, to go forward and consummate by the votes of the States, that which Congress so nobly began yesterday.(Applause, and cries ‘they will do it’). He had the honor to inform those present that Illinois had already to-day done the work. Maryland was about half through, but he felt proud that Illinois was a little ahead. He thought this measure was a very fitting, if not an indispensable adjuncts to the winding up of the present difficulty. (Applause.) He wished the Union of all the States perfected, and so effected to remove ail causes of disturbance in the future; and to obtain this end It was necessary that the original disturbing cause should, if possible, be rooted out. He thought all would bear him witness that he had never shrunk from doing all that he could to eradicate slavery, by issuing an emancipation proclamation. (Applause.) But that proclamation falls far short of what the amendment will be when fully consummated. A question might be raised whether the proclamation was legally valid. It might be said, that it only freed those who came in our lines, and that it was inoperative as to those who did not give themselves up; or that It would have no effect upon children of slaves born hereafter. In fact, it would be urged that it did not meet the evil; but this amendment is a King’s cure for all evils. (Applause.) It winds the whole thing up. He would repeat, that it was the fitting, if not indispensable adjunct to the consummation of the great game we are playing. He could not but congratulate all present, the country, the whole world, and himself, upon this great moral victory.” ~ An abolitionist reporter’s article for The Liberator.