April 29th. We have been lying quietly at our anchorage here for two or three days, negotiating about the city and its flag and transfer. The river is alive with steamers which our people have taken possession of, and are gliding about seemingly practicing for duty by-and-by; among others, a fine steamer, the Tennessee, has been taken possession of and will doubtless prove quite a prize for us. The rebel gunboat McRae came up from the forts with a flag of truce, asking permission to bury her dead, but instead, watched her chance and scuttled her in deep water.

This morning a gunboat from the forts brought the pleasing intelligence that Forts Jackson and St. Philip had both surrendered to our forces below, and that a powerful floating battery, mounting eighteen guns and covered with railroad iron, had been fired and drifted down the river and blown up. This intelligence called all hands into the rigging, and they gave three times three cheers for the Union. At nine o’clock A. M., the marines of the squadron, under the command of Capt. J. L. Broome, went ashore to hoist the flag, backed by the howitzers; they proceeded to the Custom House and gave the Star-Spangled Banner to the breeze; thence they went to the Council House and lowered the State flag and brought it aboard as a trophy. Crowds of people frequent the levee to gaze on the shipping from day to day.

At 6:30 A. M., Capt. Bailey brought word up from below, that both forts had surrendered, and the Stars and Stripes were waving over them. At 3 P. M., Mr. Osbon, Flag Lieutenant, left the ship to go on board the gunboat Cayuga; as he was leaving, gave him three cheers. Cayuga, Capt. Bailey in command, went down the river, bound North with dispatches. Manned the rigging, and cheered ship.


April 29.—About one hundred sick men were brought in last night, on their way to another hospital. We gave them coffee, bread, and meat, with which they were much pleased. Some of them were too sick to eat this, so we gave these the few eggs we had.

General Sterling Price, with a part of his army, has arrived. He is in this hospital. We were all introduced to him. He gave us his left hand, as his right was disabled from a wound received at the battle of Elkhorn. I told him that I felt that we were safe in Corinth now, since he and his brave followers had arrived. He gave me a very dignified bow, and, I thought, looked at me as if he thought that I was talking a great deal of nonsense. He was not behind his sex in complimenting the ladies for the sacrifices they are making in doing their duty. I have heard so much of that lately, that I sometimes wonder if the southern women never did their duty before. I meant what I said to the general, and I felt quite proud of the honor I enjoyed in shaking hands with him whose name has become a household word with all admirers of true patriotism, and whose deeds of heroism in the West have endeared him to his followers, so that they look on him more as a father than any thing else.

In the afternoon he visited the patients. Many of them were men who had fought under him, and all were delighted to see him. One of them, Captain Dearing, was wounded at the battle of Shiloh. He was quarter-master in Blythe’s Mississippi Regiment, and when the battle came off could not resist the temptation of engaging in it. He is badly wounded in two places, but is doing well. He is from Kentucky, but is a native of the Emerald Isle. I can not help contrasting these men with those born in the South, they seem to be able to endure physically so much more than the southerners. We have had quite a number of them, and I do not recollect that any have died.


Civil War envelope showing American flags, eagle with laurel branches, and shield

Civil War envelope showing American flags, eagle with laurel branches, and shield bearing message “Union and liberty”

Addressed to Mr. Asa Foote, Fowler, Trumbull Co., Ohio; postmarked; bears 3 cent stamp. Notation on verso: Gallipolis, Ohio.

Collection: Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs (Library of Congress)

This envelope and additional information may be found here at the Library of Congress


April 29th.—A grand smash, the news from New Orleans fatal to us. Met Mr. Weston. He wanted to know where he could find a place of safety for two hundred negroes. I looked into his face to see if he were in earnest; then to see if he were sane. There was a certain set of two hundred negroes that had grown to be a nuisance. Apparently all the white men of the family had felt bound to stay at home to take care of them. There are people who still believe negroes property—like Noah’s neighbors, who insisted that the Deluge would only be a little shower after all.

These negroes, however, were Plowden Weston’s, a totally different part of speech. He gave field-rifles to one company and forty thousand dollars to another. He is away with our army at Corinth. So I said: “You may rely upon Mr. Chesnut, who will assist you to his uttermost in finding a home for these people. Nothing belonging to that patriotic gentleman shall come to grief if we have to take charge of them on our own place.” Mr. Chesnut did get a place for them, as I said he would.

Had to go to the Governor’s or they would think we had hoisted the black flag. Heard there we are going to be beaten as Cortez beat the Mexicans—by superior arms. Mexican bows and arrows made a poor showing in the face of Spanish accoutrements. Our enemies have such superior weapons of war, we hardly any but what we capture from them in the fray. The Saxons and the Normans were in the same plight.

War seems a game of chess, but we have an unequal number of pawns to begin with. We have knights, kings, queens, bishops, and castles enough. But our skilful generals, whenever they can not arrange the board to suit them exactly, burn up everything and march away. We want them to save the country. They seem to think their whole duty is to destroy ships and save the army.

Mr. Robert Barnwell wrote that he had to hang his head for South Carolina. We had not furnished our quota of the new levy, five thousand men. To-day Colonel Chesnut published his statement to show that we have sent thirteen thousand, instead of the mere number required of us; so Mr. Barnwell can hold up his head again.


April 29.—At Harrisonburgh, Va., to-day, a National salute was fired from an eminence near the town by the troops under General Banks, in honor of recent Union victories. The regimental bands assembled in the Court-House square and played “Hail Columbia.” The soldiers gave nine cheers, when the band followed with the “Red, White, and Blue,” “Dixie,” and the “Star-Spangled Banner.” After a recess the bands consolidated and marched through the streets, much to the disgust of certain prominent inhabitants. The day was pleasant, and the bright new uniforms presented a striking contrast to the sombre hues of those of the former occupants of the town.—Boston Transcript, May 1.

—Monterey, Tenn., was visited by the National forces under Gen. Pope. The rebels fled on the appearance of the Union forces before the town, leaving a quantity of baggage and supplies. Fifteen prisoners were taken by the Nationals, who returned to their camp near Pittsburgh, Tenn., having destroyed the rebel camp.—Sec’y T. A. Scott’s Despatch.

—Timothy Webster was executed as a spy at Richmond, Va. Webster is said to be the first spy executed by the rebel government—Richmond Despatch, April 30.

—President Lincoln sent a Message to the Senate to-day in answer to a resolution of inquiry as to who authorized the arrest of Gen. Charles P. Stone, the ground upon which he was arrested, and the reasons why he had not been tried by court-martial. The President said the arrest was made by his order, upon good and sufficient evidence; and that the only reason why he had not had a trial was because the public interests would not permit it. The officers required to hold the court, and who would be called as witnesses, perhaps on both sides, were in the field, in the midst of active operations. The President stated, in conclusion, that it was his purpose to give the General a fair trial as soon as it could be done in justice to the service.

—Col. Davidson, of the Third Mississippi regiment, who was captured at Fort Donclson, died at Fort Warren this day.—Boston Post, May 3.

—An expedition with the gunboat Hale was made this day, to capture a battery on Grim ball’s plantation, near the junction of Dawho-pow-pow and South-Edisto River, S. C. The rebels opened on the Hale when within one thousand eight hundred yards, and continued their fire as she wound her way to engage them at close quarters; but when the Hale reached the last bend, and was making a straight course for the battery, the rebels fled in haste. Lieut. Gillis landed with a party of men to destroy it. The work was about three hundred and fifty yards from the river-bank, and mounted two long fine twenty-four-pounders on excellent field-carriages. So rapid was the flight of the rebels that one of the guns was left loaded and primed. The Hale returned to her anchorage without having a man injured.—Report of Com. Du Pont.

—A battle took place this day at Bridgeport, Ala., between the National forces under Gen. O. M. Mitchel and the confederates under Gen. E. Kirby Smith, in which the latter was defeated with a loss of seventy-two killed and wounded and three hundred and fifty taken prisoners.— (Doc. 154.)

—The Montgomery (Ala) Advertiser of this date contains the following on the cotton question: We have understood that an agent of the French government is in this city, authorized to purchase an indefinite amount of cotton.

The designs are evidently these. The agent is to purchase a large supply of cotton, and then in case of a threatened Yankee occupation of the city, he would hoist the French flag over it to prevent it from being destroyed by our authorities and the citizens. With Montgomery and the Alabama River in the hands of the Yankees, and the cotton in the hands of the French agent, it could be at once shipped to Europe, and the necessities of the manufacturers there relieved; the Yankees would not, of course, object to such a cute scheme, seeing at once, that with a supply of cotton sufficient to meet their requirements, England and France would lose all their interest in the American question, and Lincoln would no longer be troubled with fears of a foreign intervention.

It is doubtless a very nice arrangement on the part of those who wish to relieve themselves from a very disagreeable dilemma, but we can assure the French agent and all others that the scheme won’t work. The question concerning the protection of foreign flags has already been decided. The President having authorized Gen. Lovell, at New-Orleans, to destroy all cotton and tobacco belonging to citizens or foreign residents, indiscriminately, where it was in danger of falling into the hands of the enemy. The same course will be pursued here, and the French flag or any other, will not save the cotton from destruction in case the enemy threatens to land at this point.

Written from the Sea islands of South Carolina.

Monday, April 28, 1862.


It is very touching to hear the negroes begging Mr. Pierce to let them plant and tend corn and not cotton. They do not see the use of cotton, but they know that their corn has kept them from starvation, and they are anxious about next year’s crop. Mr. Pierce takes us to the different plantations as often as he can to talk to the negroes and make them contented, which they are not now by any means. The sight of ladies gives them a feeling of security that nothing else does.

Mr. Ruggles is a fine man, quiet, good, and easy. His men are contented. I went with him after church yesterday to his plantation to visit his sick, carrying my whole doctor’s apparatus. It was my first purely professional visit out here.

Yesterday we attended the Baptist church, deep in the live-oaks with their hanging moss. It was a most picturesque sight to see the mules tied in the woods and the oddly dressed negroes crowding in. Inside it was stranger still, the turbans or bare heads, the jetty faces, and uncouth forms were all wild. We first had a Sunday School where the letters were taught principally, and then the Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer read. Mr. Horton made an excellent sermon upon the text, “Hold fast to that liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free,” or something like that. He told them that liberty did not mean freedom to be idle, etc. But the sermon was an exhortation to preserve liberty, and was a good one. . . .

I saw at church, and on Mr. Gabriel Caper’s plantation, a woman brought from Africa whose face was tattooed. She appeared to be of more vigorous stock than our own negroes. I find most of the negroes I have seen very weak and decidedly unhealthy and having bad teeth. What else could be expected on hominy and pork from generation to generation, and with such houses and such work?

Last night I was at the “Praise House” for a little time and saw Miss Nelly reading to the good women. Afterwards we went to the “shout,” a savage, heathenish danceout in Rina’s house. Three men stood and sang, clapping and gesticulating. The others shuffled along on their heels, following one another in a circle and occasionally bending the knees in a kind of curtsey. They began slowly, a few going around and more gradually joining in, the song getting faster and faster, till at last only the most marked part of the refrain is sung and the shuffling, stamping, and clapping get furious. The floor shook so that it seemed dangerous. It swayed regularly to the time of the song. As they danced they, of course, got out of breath, and the singing was kept up principally by the three apart, but it was astonishing how long they continued and how soon after a rest they were ready to begin again. Miss Walker and I, Mrs. Whiting and her husband were there — a little white crowd at the door looking at this wild firelight scene; for there was no other light than that from the fire, which they kept replenishing. They kept up the “shout” till very late.

The negroes are pretty cunning. They pretend they want us to stay, that they would be in despair if we went away, and they tell us they will give us eggs and chickens. Indeed, they do constantly offer eggs and they feel hurt if they are refused, for that is equivalent to refusing to make any returns. Old Susannah, the cook, often sends to the table fish or other delicacies. When I ask her where she got them, she says a friend gave them to her and she gives them to us. She does n’t want pay — no, indeed. She always gave such things to her old “massas,” and then they in return gave a little sweetening or something good from the house. It was give and take, good feeling all around. All giving on one side, I should think; all taking, nearly, on the other; and good feeling according to the nature of the class, one only content in grasping, the other in giving. They transfer their gratitude to “Government.” One woman said to me, “I was servant-born, ma’am, and now ’cause de Gov’ment fightin’ for me, I’ll work for Gov’ment, dat I will, and welcome.” Another woman, to-day, just from “the main,” said to me that she had hard work to escape, sleeping in “de ma’sh” and hiding all day. She brought away her two little children, and said her master had just “licked” her eldest son almost to death because he was suspected of wanting to join the Yankees. “They does it to spite us, ma’am, ’cause you come here. Dey spites us now ’cause de Yankees come.” She was grateful to the Yankees for coming, nevertheless, but deplored that the season for planting cotton was over, because only the cotton-workers were to be paid and she was suffering for clothes. Another man said, “I craves work, ma’am, if I gets a little pay, but if we don’t gets pay, we don’t care—don’t care to work.” Natural enough. One very handsome, tall, proud-looking woman came here to buy, but Miss Walker was too busy to sell. I told her she could have no clothes; when she and another woman, thinking I supposed them beggars, said — “We not dat kind, ma’am; we got our money here.” They object to going to the young gentlemen on the places for clothes, thinking it will be taken as a kind of advance for notice— such notice as the best of them have probably dreaded, but which the worst have sought. Women should be here —good elderly women. Miss Donelson was an irreparable loss. The men and women living together on this place are not all of them married. When Miss Walker asks them they say, “No, not married, ma’am, but I just tuck (took) her and brought her home.” They make not the slightest preparation for an expected infant, having always been used to thinking it “massa’s” concern whether it was kept alive or not. The woman we saw yesterday, whose baby was dead, seemed perfectly stolid, and when I gave her a dollar was pleased as if she had no sorrow. Yet I think the negroes are not harsh to the children. They have a rough way of ordering them that sounds savage. When you speak to a child who does not answer, the others say, “Talk, talk. Why you not talk?” — in the most ordersome tone to the silent one.

In church on Sunday after service Mr. Horton came to me and said he was glad to see me there. I answered that I was much gratified by his sermon, but objected to two things — his qualifying their freedom rather too much, and his telling them that we had all come down to do them good, leaving homes and comfort for their sake. “I wanted to keep up their respect for these young men,” he answered. “I don’t know that we shall do it by self-praise,” I said — and he looked annoyed. “I have heard them told so, so often,” I said again, “that I am sure that is well drilled into their heads.” One thing the soldiers did, notwithstanding all their wronging of the slaves by taking their corn, and that is, they made them fully sure that they are free and that they never again can be claimed by any master as property. Some of the superintendents threaten that they shall be reenslaved if they do not succeed and work as freemen. But I think the negroes know that it is only a threat, and despise the makers of it.

Mr. Hooper heard last night, from a special agent who was sent down here to convince the soldiers that Government is right in reserving their pay for their wives, that it is said at the North that the goods are sold here on private speculation, and that the money is put into the pockets of the superintendents. Also that the whole plan is a failure and is sure to break up. I think the latter very probable, for my part, for few can be found fitted for carrying out such purely benevolent plans as this was designed to be.

The negro men and women come crowding here at all hours, begging to be allowed to buy clothing, and, although they stand for hours in the hall, we have never missed the slightest thing.

Mr. Pierce begins now to pay a dollar an acre on account, which the negroes find it hard to comprehend and are not well content with. We women have to be borrowed and driven to the different plantations to talk to and appease the eager anxiety. This is quite a triumph, after having been rejected as useless.

On Sunday I was much pleased with one of the hymns the negroes spontaneously set up, of which the refrain was —

“No man can hinder me.”

It was, I believe, saying that nothing could prevent access to Jesus. I heard them introduce the names of several men, as they do in improvising, but their pronunciation was so very imperfect that I could not hear fully. The men sing mostly, and have much finer voices than the women.

Another song is, “The Bell done ring.” Another, “Bound to go.” Another, “Come to Jesus.”

They sing the tune of “John Brown’s Body” to other words, and in church or out of it, whenever they begin one of these songs, they keep time with their feet and bodies. It sounded very strange in the church.

Susannah has just been up here telling me about the flight of the rebels. She says that the day after the “Guns at Baypoint” (which is what all the negroes call the taking of Port Royal), her master went away, taking his family. He wanted Susannah to go with him, she being the seamstress of the family, but she refused. He then told her that if she stayed she would either be killed by the Yankees or sold to Cuba; but she said, why should they kill poor black folks who did no harm and could only be guided by white folks? After he went, his son came back once and told the negroes that they must burn the cotton; but they said, “Why for we burn de cotton? Where we get money then for buy clo’ and shoe and salt?” So, instead of burning it, they guarded it every night, the women keeping watch and the men ready to defend it when the watchers gave the alarm. Some of the masters came back to persuade their negroes to go with them, and when they would not, they were shot down. One man told me he had known of thirty being shot. This man is a cabinet-maker and schoolmaster among them, and says he reads all the papers. He is named Will Capers. He is very intelligent and self respecting. He is in hopes he will be paid for teaching. While his master was here he had a secret night-school for men. He was very discontented because he was ordered to the field, there being no work at his trade to do. When Mr. Pierce harangued them from the porch, this Will said he did not think it right to have to go to the field. Mr. Pierce said, “What would you do? There is no cabinetwork for you, and every man must work. You want to be a soldier, I suppose, don’t you?” “Yes, sah,” promptly. Then Mr. Pierce made two of them stand up and he drilled them a little. The other day Miss W. and I, sitting in the carriage, found this man standing by it. I said, “I remember your face, but I do not know where I have seen you.” “One of the soldiers, ma’am,” he answered quietly. So this man, an intelligent, reliable negro, who has gone sensibly to the field ever since Mr. Pierce’s explanation, affirms that he knew of thirty men being shot down by their masters, and says the masters declared they would shoot down everyone they saw who remained. Nevertheless, a great part of them stayed; and many of those who went came back, or are coming every day. Others from the mainland come here daily for clothes and have pitiful tales to tell of how their masters whip those they suspect of wishing to join the Yankees. Susannah’s master has never come back. He is probably afraid of his negroes, as he was a very cruel, hard master, who gave no shoes, salt, molasses, or Sunday clothes — neither would he allow the field hands any meat, nor permit them to raise pigs. Susannah once raised some pigs and her master threatened to shoot them. “No, massa, you cawnt do it. What can I do for our children’s winter shoes and our salt if our pigs are shot? You cawnt do it — you cawnt doit.” He told her not to be impudent. “I don’t mean impudence, massa, but you cawnt shoot my hogs”; and he could n’t. He used to buy and sell as suited him. Susannah’s three boys (all she raised out of twenty-two that she had) were sent away from her, but when she had the fever from going in the sun to see the little one, and crawled out to beg her master to let her have one to hand her a drink of water in the night, he consented. He brought one from his son’s plantation, where he had sent him, but told her that as soon as she was well she must part with him again. He also whipped, or “licked,” as they say, terribly. For the last year he was determined to make them work as mulch as they possibly could, because “he was afraid the Yankees were coming”; and so he kept them in the fields from morning till night and lashed them every day. Susannah herself never had a whipping after she was a child. Her mistress used to tell her she would “lash her,” and scolded her, but Susannah used to say “Whippin’ never does me no good, ma’am. I’ll explain and I’ll do be tter next time. I only wants to know what you want and I’ll do it. If my pride and principle won’t make me do right, lashing won’t.” She spoke continually of doing things from pride and principle. She was sickly, and she made all the ladies’ dresses — two reasons for her being spared. “I never axed no wagers,but my twoclothes for the year. I was quite satisfy if dey did n’t lick me. I would work or do anything for them if dey would n’t lick me.” Her young “missuses” cried when they went away, and said “Oh, Zannah, the Yankees’ll kill you. If you see a Yankee it’ll drive you crazy.” “Why, miss, ain’t dey natural folks?” “Oh, no, Zannah, they don’t look like us.” So, when Susannah saw soldiers coming, she ran out to Marcus, her husband, and said, “Oh, deys soldiers j deys come to kill us,” and her hands shook with trembling. But Marcus said they would n’t hurt her and ordered her to go to them to see what they wanted. When they saw her fright, they said to her, “We are not going to hurt you. We only want you to get us something to eat, and we’ll pay you for it.” “Oh, such pretty men!” she said, “and so respectful.” They stayed some time; and Susannah used to parch peanuts for them every night. All of the negroes speak with tenderness and gratitude of our soldiers. Susannah says, when feeling grateful, “Oh, you from the Norf are all so patient. Such a patient people — never see notion’ like it.”

We need patience. One day I came downstairs to make a cup of tea for an unexpected guest. No fire and no wood. No possibility of getting wood, as it was raining hard. No butter. Old Robert was sick and had the key of the dairy, and was away off somewhere; just as it was at breakfast-time, when we had no milk, and Robert was away at “the pen,” too far for return before we had done breakfast. I sent Lucy through the rain for Robert, who came after a time with the butter — and no bread, rations overdrawn and consumed, none to come till tomorrow. Hominy gone. Sent Lucy to ask Susannah why and where she had taken it. It came. Robert offered to lend us a little wood — so at last we got a fire (and a cup of tea with some hominy and butter).

I told Rina to come up and do our room and have not seen her since. Just now Aleck was idle and I sent him for wood to the pines with a little mule. I told him not to whip it. He yelled and doubled himself up with laughing, and lashed it before my eyes until quite out of sight, shrieking with laughter and paying no heed to my calls.


April 28 — This morning we, together with the Tenth, Thirty-Seventh and Twenty-Third Regiments of Virginia Infantry, went with a train of forage wagons as a guard to protect them from Yankee scouting parties that are prowling around searching for something to snatch. We went within a mile of McGaheysville, and remained there until the wagons returned.

I think that the Tenth Regiment of Virginia Infantry has just recently joined Jackson’s army, and has quite lately arrived from the Rappahannock. Today was the first time I saw it. It carries a large and splendid Virginia “Sic Semper Tyrannus” flag, the first one I have seen in the army.


Monday, 28.— A fine, warm spring day. Drills as usual. . . . . Four of Company I, a sergeant, two corporals, and one private, left on Sunday to forage. They have not returned. Their leave of absence extended a few hours — not to [be] longer than the evening dress parade. They stayed last night with two of Company B near Flat Top and in the morning separated from the Company B men saying they would not return until they got something, but would be in by the Monday dress parade “which period has now expired.” I much fear that they are taken. Sergeant Abbott’s party of scouts were fired on last evening; “nobody hurt.” We must break up the gang (Foley’s) near Flat Top before we shall be rid of them.


28th.—Marched out this morning, to support our pioneers, who are cutting out a brushy ravine, which has afforded cover to the enemy’s pickets, from which to inflict much damage to ours. We met with resistance, and have had quite a brush of a fight over it, but succeeded in driving the enemy out. Here, again, I am astonished at our men’s indifference to danger, and their apparent insensibility to the suffering of their comrades. During the fight, our whole regiment were lying on the ground, laughing, talking, whittling and cracking jokes, as unconcernedly as if they were preparing for a frolic; and, yet we were constantly receiving intelligence of comrades falling within a few rods of us. So near were we to the fight that we could occasionally hear the rebels calling to the “damn-d Yankees to come on.” Sometimes when a wounded or dead soldier was brought by on a litter, the soldiers would discuss the question whether they would rather be litter-bearers or litter-borne, and would even get one of their number on a litter, with litter-bearers, and “play wounded.” Such is the demoralization of war, and it is one of the least of its evils. War may be necessary, but—

“Och! it hardens a’ within,

An’ petrifies the feeling.”


Broadside views of three steamships by Alfred R. Waud

Broadside views of three steamships by Alfred R. Waud

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

  • Inscribed below first image: U.S. Transport “Daniel Webster.” N.B. The “Ariel” is precisely like the Webster only much longer.
  • Inscribed below the second image: Transports “Parkersburgh” “Locust Point” & Potomac are like the above.
  • Inscribed below the third image: U.S. Transports Baltic & Atlantic.

More information may be found at the Library of Congree Broadside views of three steamships page.


Steamship Daniel Webster

(click on image to view larger version)

Two ships named Daniel Webster were used as hospital transports by the U. S. Sanitary Commission.  They were referred to as Daniel Webster No. 1 and Daniel Webster No. 2.

While this ship was used during the War as a transport, it was under the name of Expounder for at least part of it’s service.  She afterwards ran between Baltimore and West Point, Va.

In 1884 the Daniel Webster left Boston for the St. Lawrence River, and her name was changed to Saquenay.

Built 1854 at Greeenpoint, Long Island.   (More info at Maritime History of the Great Lakes.)


April 28, 1862.—This evening has been very lovely, but full of a sad disappointment. H. invited me to drive. As we turned homeward he said:

“Well, my arrangements are completed. You can begin to pack your trunks to-morrow, and I shall have a talk with Max.”

Mr. R. and Annie were sitting on the gallery as I ran up the steps.

“Heard the news?” they cried.

“No! What news?”

“New Orleans is taken! All the boats have been run up the river to save them. No more mails.”

How little they knew what plans of ours this dashed away. But our disappointment is truly an infinitesimal drop in the great waves of triumph and despair surging to-night in thousands of hearts.


Note: To protect Mrs. Miller’s job as a teacher in New Orleans, the diary was published anonymously, edited by G. W. Cable, names were changed and initials were often used instead of full names — and even the initials differed from the real person’s initials.
Abby Howland Woolsey to Georgeann and Eliza.

New York, April 28.

My dear Sisters: Mother’s letter of Sunday morning, giving the startling intelligence of your having gone off suddenly to Fort Monroe, came before breakfast. Since it was your very earnest wish, and, as Mr. Prentiss tells us, you might have chafed at being held back—why I am glad you have gone. But it seems to me a very trying position for you: you will work yourselves sick. Joe will be the most surprised person, and I don’t believe he will approve of your being on a hospital boat. It is very satisfactory that Mrs. Griffin is on board; as long as she stays you will not need either man or woman protector. . . . Georgy’s letter to Charley came with Mother’s. He will see to the wire camp-beds, and we will put the other stores, your hats, etc., etc., all in a trunk and have them ready for the first opportunity. If you write for Charley he will take them on at once. . . . It is strange that Mr. Olmsted should have had you in mind, without having known of your desire to go. It shows that, as Georgy says, “Heaven had opened the door.” . . . Our best love to you two dear brave girls; you are doing what you love to do, and I hope will take care of yourselves as well as of the soldiers.

Eliza Woolsey Howland to Joe Howland.

Monday Morning, April 28.

Where do you think I am? On the “Daniel Webster No. 1,” which the Sanitary Commission has taken as a hospital ship. We are now on the way down to Cheeseman’s Creek, near Ship Point, and when you receive this we shall be lying just there. Saturday afternoon the gentlemen of the Commission, Mr. Olmsted and Mr. Knapp, came over to see us, and to our great surprise and pleasure proposed to us to come down with them in the ship as “nurses at large,” or matrons, or what not—to do of course all we can for the sick and wounded men in the approaching battle. They had telegraphed to Mrs. William P. Griffin and Mrs. Lane of New York to come on at once, and go too. We only had one night’s notice, as they were to leave early Sunday morning, but we accepted the offer at once, and here we are! We four are the only women on board except a colored chambermaid, but there are 30 or 40 men nurses and hospital dressers, and several members of the Commission—Mr. Olmsted, Mr. Knapp, Mr. Lewis Rutherford, Mr. Strong, Dr. Agnew, Dr. Grymes, etc. They have two boats, this and the Elm City. The latter is to be a receiving ship and permanent floating hospital, and this one the transporting one, in which the wounded will be carried at once by sea to New York, Philadelphia, or Baltimore and Washington, as the case may be. It is an old ocean steamship, and used to run on the Aspinwall route; is stanch and seaworthy, but now wretchedly dirty. A dozen stout contrabands are at work night and day scrubbing and cleaning, and, as they finish, the whitewashers and carpenters succeed them, and by degrees it will be put in good condition. . . . I saw Mrs. Franklin the night before we started and have a note for the General. We left our little dog Mopsey with her. . . . If you are still off Ship Point we shall be very near each other. . . . There is a P. O. station at Cheeseman’s Creek to which please direct your letters to me, care of Fred. Law Olmsted, Hospital Ship of Sanitary Commission.


April 28.—To-day a detachment of the First New-Jersey cavalry carried into Washington, D. C, ten prisoners captured at a courier station, six miles beyond the Rappahannock River, Va. They were surprised in their beds. The information which led to their capture was volunteered by a loyal black, who guided the Jerseymen through the rebel picket line. The prisoners declared that they were of the party who killed Lieut. Decker, near Falmouth. They were intelligent men of a company formed in John Brown times, to which “none but gentlemen were elected.”—N. Y. Tribune, April 29.

—The United States war steamer Sacramento was launched at the Portsmouth, (N. H.) Navy Yard to-day. She is the finest and largest war vessel ever built at Portsmouth.—Boston Transcript, April 29.

—Five companies of National cavalry had a skirmish with the enemy’s cavalry two miles in advance of Monterey, Tenn.[1] The rebels retreated. Five of them were killed—one a major. Eighteen prisoners, with horses and arms, were captured. One of the prisoners, named Vaughan, was formerly foreman in the office of the Louisville Democrat. The Unionists had one man wounded and none killed. The prisoners say that the enemy has upward of eighty thousand men at Corinth, and will fight and that they are intrenching and mounting large guns.—Official War Despatch.

—Near Yorktown, Va., Gen. Hancock went out with a portion of his brigade for the purpose of driving the rebels from a piece of timber which they occupied in close proximity to the National works. The troops advanced through an open fire on their hands and knees until they came within close musket-range. The rebels, who were secreted behind stumps and trees, were anxious to get the men on their feet, and to accomplish this the captain in command of the enemy shouted at the height of his voice to charge bayonets, supposing that the Union troops would instantly jump to their feet and run. But they were mistaken. The command being given the second time, the rebels arose, when the Union troops poured into them a well-directed fire, causing them to retreat, leaving their dead and wounded.

Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson

Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson

During the skirmish a new battery which the rebels had erected during Sunday night, and which interfered with the working party of the Nationals, was most effectually silenced and the guns dismantled.

—The Santa Fe, New-Mexico mail, arrived at Kansas City, Mo., with dates to the twelfth inst. Col. Slough and Gen. Canby formed a junction at Galisteo on the eleventh. Major Duncan, who was in command of Gen. Canby’s advance-guard, encountered a large party of Texans and routed them. Major Duncan was slightly wounded. The Texans were thirty miles south of Galisteo, in full flight from the territory.—Official Despatch.

—The rebel steamer Ella Warley (Isabel) arrived at Port Royal, S. C, in charge of Lieut. Gibson and a prize crew, she having been captured by the Santiago de Cuba, one hundred miles north of Abaco.

—Forts Jackson and St Philip on the Mississippi River, below New-Orleans, surrendered to the National fleet under Flag-Officer Farragut.— (Doc. 149.)

[1] Monterey is a small post-village of McNairy County, situated near the boundary line of Mississippi but a short distance from Corinth. The county has an area estimated at five hundred and seventy square miles, and occupies part of the table-land I between the Tennessee and Hatchie Rivers.

Written from the Sea islands of South Carolina.

St. Helena’s, Sunday, April 27,1862.

I have been hoping from day to day for a chance to give you a good long letter, but I never was so busy in my life, except just after we moved to Frog-Hollow, and it is in pretty much the same style — a struggle for the food of the day. To be sure, we fare very well, but that is one trouble; we have a large family and not an abstemious one, and I am housekeeper, with Southern servants, and those irregular, and only half under my control, being at every other body’s beck and call. . . . Miss W. it was who told me we were to pay no wages for the work we have done, and at first, supposing she knew, I tried to reconcile myself to it by specious reasoning. But Mr. Pierce says we have no right at all to take their labor and leave Government to pay, or to pay our servants here out of the goods sent by the commissioners. He will pay the cook and driver. I have hired a washerwoman and chambermaid for half a dollar a week extra. That is, she gets food from Government, as all do (the corn, that is, that was left on the estate), and she has her house as before, but for attending to my room and doing my washing I pay her half a dollar a week. Little enough, but I dare not give more, as it would make the field hands and others discontented. . . . I am quite charmed with Miss Winsor. She is doing a good work quietly and efficiently. I envy her her school, but some one must keep house. … I have a good deal of satisfaction too, in housekeeping, for comfort is coming out of chaos; so I did not come here for nothing. I can do, too, what I always wanted to come for specially, and that was to strengthen the anti-slavery element. . . .

The blessed soldiers, with all their wrongdoing, did this one good thing — they assured the negroes that they were free and must never again let their masters claim them, nor any masters. I think it is very touching to hear them begging Mr. Pierce to let them cultivate corn instead of cotton, of which they do not see the use, since they worked it last year for pay which has not come yet, while their corn has saved them from starvation. Next week they are to be paid a dollar an acre for the cotton they have planted under Mr. Pierce. They do not understand being paid on account, and they think one dollar an acre for ploughing, listing, or furrowing and planting is very little, which of course it is. Mr. P. wants to make it their interest to tend the cotton after it is planted, and so he pays on it just as little as he can, until it is all ready for the market. Meanwhile, if the masters drive us off, no return will ever be made for their work, to the people who are planting for us. Nothing is paid for the cultivation of the corn, and yet it will be Government property. The negroes are so willing to work on that, that Mr. P. has made it a rule that till a certain quantity of cotton is planted they shall not hoe the corn. This they take as a great hardship, for the corn wants hoeing. Several boxes of clothing have lately come here for distribution, and from early morning till evening the negroes are flocking here to buy. I do not like the prices fixed on the goods at all. They are in some cases higher a good deal than the retail Philadelphia prices. Be sure if Mrs. Hastings sends her box to me to mark it “Private” and then I can dispose of it as I please. . . . Miss Winsor insists that her children shall be decently clad, or she will not teach them. After the buyers have been to the cotton-house where the goods are stored, they often come and ask for me at the mansion house, so as to get a needle and a little skein of thread — great treasures in this region. They will give two or three eggs — which the soldiers buy at two cents apiece here — for a needle and a little wisp of tangled cotton. When that box from our sewing-circle comes along, I want you to put into it for me especially, at my cost, of course, a lot of coarse needles, some black and white linen thread, some coarse spool cotton of various colors, and some large size porcelain buttons. . . . One luxury I want you to send me. It is about five pounds of pulverized sugar. We have had some of Mr. Pierce’s and it has gone, to his great regret, in this blackberry season. The fields are black with them, and we have them three times a day, a needle and thread paying for a quart or two. I bought yesterday a little plague for a quarter of a dollar. It was a young mocking-bird which I had to get to keep a negro boy from undertaking to “bring it up.”


I have begun my professional career. On the next plantation to this a good many negroes are sick, and at church this morning the young man in charge, a Mr. Ruggles, asked me for some medicine for them — so he came for me, and this afternoon I doctored the half dozen families who had measles and mumps. The church was in the midst of splendid live-oak trees hanging with moss, and the services were impressive only because they were so unusual, especially the singing. The garments seen to-day were beyond all description. One man had a carpet, made like a poncho, and he stalked about in such grandeur. There was an old woman there who came from Africa in a steamship. Her face was tattooed a little. Mr. Horton, who was one of our fellow passengers on the Oriental, a Baptist minister, preached a sermon upon true freedom, and I think the negroes liked it. We heard of one old negro who got up in meeting, when one of the young superintendents was leading the services, and said, “The Yankees preach nothing but cotton, cotton.” The fact is that every man has thought it his duty to inculcate the necessity of continuing to work, and the negro can see plainly enough that the proceeds of the cotton will never get into black pockets — judging from past experience.

clip_image002To-night I have been to a “shout,” which seems to me certainly the remains of some old idol worship. The negroes sing a kind of chorus, — three standing apart to lead and clap, — and then all the others go shuffling round in a circle following one another with not much regularity, turning round occasionally and bending the knees, and stamping so that the whole floor swings. I never saw anything so savage. They call it a religious ceremony, but it seems more like a regular frolic to me, and instead of attending the shout, the better persons go to the “Praise House.” This is always the cabin of the oldest person in the little village of negro houses, and they meet there to read and pray; generally one of the ladies goes there to read to them and they pray. I went to-night and saw Miss Nelly Winsor sitting ready to read to them; but as she seemed embarrassed I did not stay. I shall go again next week. They meet at the house of old Aunt Phillis, a real character. But I have no time to tell you of her to-night.

I wish I could sketch. This country would make S. wild with delight, the trees are so picturesque. I think the palmetto as ugly a tree as ever was planned. I have seen no strange animals except white cranes or herons and turkey buzzards. There is the skin of an alligator lying in the yard. It was shot in the creek here, but was not more than five or six feet long. The flowers are not very beautiful, that is, the wild ones, but I never in my life saw such garden roses.

We have been riding around all week to different plantations to cheer up and reassure the rather downhearted negroes, or rather the negro women. It is not a cheering thing to do, except as it is gratifying to be so able to give comfort. They think a white lady a great safeguard from danger, and they say they are “confused” if there are no ladies about.


27th.—The country is shrouded in gloom because of the fall of New Orleans! It was abandoned by General Lovell—necessarily, it is thought. Such an immense force was sent against the forts which protected it, that they could not be defended. The steamer Mississippi, which was nearly finished, had to be burnt. We hoped so much from its protection to the Mississippi River. Oh, it is so hard to see the enemy making such inroads into the heart of our country! it makes the chicken-hearted men and women despondent, but to the true and brave it gives a fresh stimulus for exertion. I met two young Kentuckians to-night who have come out from their homes, leaving family and fortunes behind, to help the South. After many difficulties, running the blockade across the Potomac, they reached Richmond yesterday, just as the news of the fall of New Orleans had overwhelmed the city. They are dreadfully disappointed by the tone of the persons they have met. They came burning with enthusiasm; and anything like depression is a shock to their excited feelings. One said to me that he thought he should return at once, as he had “left every thing which made home desirable to help Virginia, and found her ready to give up.” All the blood in my system boiled in an instant. “Where, sir,” said I, ” have you seen Virginians ready to give up their cause?” “Why,” he replied, “I have been lounging about the Exchange all day, and have heard the sentiments of the people.” “Lounging about the Exchange! And do you suppose that Virginians worthy of the name are now seen lounging about the Exchange? There you see the idlers and shirkers of the whole Southern army. No true man under forty-five is to be found there. Virginia, sir, is in the camp. Go there, and find the true men of the South. There they have been for one year, bearing the hardships, and offering their lives, and losing life and limb for the South; it is mournful to say how many! There you will find the chivalry of the South; and if Virginia does not receive you with the shout of enthusiasm which you anticipated, it is because the fire burns steadily and deeply; the surface blaze has long ago passed away. I honour you, and the many noble young Kentuckians who have left their homes for the sake of our country, but it will not do for Kentucky to curl the lip of scorn at Virginia. Virginia blushes, and silently mourns over her recreant daughter, and rejoices over every son of hers who has the disinterestedness to leave her and come to us in this hour of our bitter trial.”

I do not believe that this young man really means, or wishes, to return; he only feels disheartened by the gloom caused by our great national loss.

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