26th.—A pleasant little interlude to-day, to the troubles and hard work through which I have had to pass: At about twelve o’clock, a soldier stepped to the door of my quarters, and said that some friends wished to see me at the door. I stepped out and found my whole corps of hospital attendants, and the patients of the hospital who were able to be up, in a circle. The head nurse stepped forward, and in a very neat little speech, presented me, in the name of himself and the others, a very pretty regulation dress sword and belt. I replied to it as well and as appropriately as I could; the ceremony closed by a vociferous testimonial of kind feelings, and we parted. I confess that I have been highly gratified. The compliment was appreciated by the fact that it came directly from those who most intimately know me, both personally and officially.

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Wednesday, February 26. — Morning and most of the afternoon pleasant, but just as I came in from brigade drill under General Martindale, it began to rain. Found the general at home, and busy writing orders for our starting. If it does not rain too much we shall start tomorrow, I think. I am getting my things ready. Received some of my photographs from Washington to-day. They are the best I ever had taken.

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Wednesday 26th

Cloudy morning and rain before noon again. The roads were getting quite passable yesterday. There was a stir among the Military. Genl Banks crossed the River (above) it is said, and some Regts & Batteries were sent over from here. Julia was at Genl McClellans. Mrs M told her that the Genl had gone to parts unknown over the River. There is a good deal of excitement in the City in consequence of the reported Advance. There has been some skirmishing among the Pickets today. Mr David of N.H. with his son, Edward from Dubuque, called on me at the office today with a letter from the Dr, of introduction. He left this afternoon for home. I was at the National tonight to see E, he has a brother in the Army who is now here.

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The three diary manuscript volumes, Washington during the Civil War: The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865, are available online at The Library of Congress.

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To Mrs. Lyon

Feb. 26, 1862.—I moved Saturday to my own quarters. Board with a Mrs. Reyburn, whose husband is a sutler. My bed is in the parlor, and I have white sheets. Everything is as neat as wax and the whole family are so solicitous for my comfort it is almost embarrassing. I can tell in a day or two when you had better come.

I can give you no idea of our future movements. It is supposed that our troops are at Nashville and that Tennessee has caved in. We do not think that there will be any fight at Columbus or Memphis. Both places are expected to surrender soon. Their terrible defeat at Donelson seems to have taken the life out of the rebels. We have given up all idea of seeing any more fighting. The buds and grass are starting and spring is here.

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FEBRUARY 26TH.—Congress, in secret session, has authorized the declaration of martial law in this city, and at some few other places. This might be well under other circumstances; but it will not be well if the old general in command should be clothed with powers which he has no qualifications to wield advantageously. The facile old man will do anything the Secretary advises.

Our army is to fall back from Manassas! The Rappahannock is not to be our line of defense. Of course the enemy will soon strike at Richmond from some direction. I have given great offense to some of our people by saying the policy of permitting men to go North at will, will bring the enemy to the gates of the city in ninety days. Several have told me that the prediction has been marked in the Secretary’s tablets, and that I am marked for destruction if it be not verified. I reply that I would rather be destroyed than that it should be fulfilled.

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Wednesday, February 26.

Encouraged by several windy days, which were likely to dry the roads, we ventured out to Joe’s camp for the first time since early in January, to show it to Mother and Hatty. The roads were unexpectedly good, the only really bad places being near the camp. J. had dined, but gave us a nice and hearty after-lunch, and Mother enjoyed the experience very much. While we were there the general order arrived placing the army in readiness to march at very short notice. Four wagons are allowed to each regiment, and quartermasters are to see that they are not heavily loaded: the men to carry knapsacks and blankets and the little shelter-tents large enough for three or four men to creep under. The order cast a gloom over our little visit, but the effect on the troops was very different. As we sat in J’s tent we could hear the cheers ringing through the camps as the order was read—three times three and a tiger.

Just before this J. H. had mailed a little box of trailing arbutus “from camp” to J. S. W. and this acknowledgment came back.

Arbutus from Camp, near Alexandria.
Sent by Capt. J. H., 1862.

“ Thank God for Spring!” I said;
While no one watches, through the gloomy hours
She walks the weary earth with noiseless tread
And fills the graves with flowers.

And, holding in my hand
My Soldier’s message, in its leaves I read
Through winter-sorrows of a weeping land
A dawn of Spring indeed!

Dull, sodden leaves o’er-strown,
Then, tears of rain, and then, these flowers for me.
The wild war horses tread the blossoms down
And set the sweetness free.

So get me flowers again
Dear Soldier;—not alone of Hope and Spring,
Flowers of full Summer, through the crimson rain
And battle thunder of the stormy plain,
Close on their blossoming!

Red roses, flushed and bold,
Red victor-roses,—sea-blue bells wide blown
That ring for joy the river-edges down,
And white Peace-lilies with the spike of gold
That clasp the perfect crown.

J. S. W.

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February 26.—This day, in the Maryland House of Delegates, Reverdy Johnson, of Baltimore County, submitted the following: Preamble and Resolution on the subject of the course the State will pursue in the present rebellion.

Whereas, Jefferson Davis, a pretended president of a pretended confederacy, in a paper styled an inaugural, delivered by him in Richmond, Va., on the twenty-second inst, has repeated an assertion often recklessly uttered in public bodies of the so-called Confederate States, that “Maryland, already united to us by hallowed memories and material interests, will, when able to speak with unstifled voice, unite her destiny to the South;”

And whereas, it is due to the intelligence, patriotism and good name of our people that such assertion be at once repudiated by their Representatives here assembled; therefore be it

Resolved, by the General Assembly of Maryland, That such assertion is an unfounded and gross calumny upon the people of the State, who, sincerely lamenting the madness and self-inflicted misfortunes of our brethren of the South, acting under a delusion caused by the arts of the aspiring and criminal ambition of a few designing men, are but admonished by the sad condition of such brethren, of the fatal results sure to follow from the course which they have pursued, and are more and more convinced of the obligation, alike of interest and of duty, to abide, with undying attachment, to the Union devised for us by our fathers, as absolutely necessary to our social and political happiness, and the preservation of the very liberty which they fought and bled to achieve for us.

—This night Capt. Montgomery, of Wright’s battalion, with his company, was surprised at Keittsville, Barry Co., Mo., by eight hundred and fifty rebels, supposed to belong to McBride’s division, but who represented themselves as Texas Rangers. They fired into the house occupied by the National troops, killing two and wounding one. One of the rebels was killed, the rest fled, taking with them about seventy horses.

Two wagons, loaded with sutler’s stores, were burned at Major Harbine’s farm, two miles beyond Keittsville.

—The Fifteenth regiment of Maine volunteers arrived from Augusta at Portland, and embarked on board the ship Great Republic.

—In the Confederate Congress at Richmond, Va., Senator Simms, of Kentucky, offered resolutions, declaring that the people of the Confederate States will, to the last extremity, maintain and defend their right to self-government and the government established by them, and to this end do pledge their last man and their last dollar for the prosecution of the war, until their independence is acknowledged; and also, that they will submit to any sacrifice, and endure any trial, however severe, and firmly relying upon the justice of their cause, and humbly trusting in the providence of God, will maintain their position before the world and high Heaven, while they have a voice to raise, or an arm to defend. The resolutions were referred to the Committee on Military Affairs.—(Doc. 65.)

—The President of the United States approved the Loan and Treasury Bill, and the measure became the law of the land. It creates a national currency of United States notes, of the denominations of five dollars and upwards, made lawful money, and a legal tender for all debts, public and private, and in all payments to and from the Government, other than for customs duties to the United States, and interest on the public debt by the United States. The total amount of this currency authorized is not to exceed one hundred and fifty million dollars, including the sixty million dollars of United States notes issued under the Act of July seventeenth. These being made receivable by that act, for all public dues, are now authorized to be accepted in place of gold, for customs duties; but the whole issue is to be withdrawn and cancelled, and regular legal tender United States notes substituted, as soon as practicable. The customs duties, whether in gold or United States notes, are specifically pledged for the interest on the public debt, which is to be invariably paid in gold.

The loan authorized by this act is limited to five hundred million dollars, on the estimate of the Secretary of the Treasury, for the service of the remaining four months of the present fiscal year, and the succeeding fiscal year. Only one form of loan is prescribed—a twenty year six per cent stock, coupon or registered, which may be redeemed, at the pleasure of the Government, at any time after five years, at the par value thereof. Into this stock the United States notes of circulation are made convertible, the conversion not to affect the sum total of United States notes, legal tender, which the Treasury is authorized to keep in circulation.

—The National gunboat R. B. Forbes, having run ashore near Nag’s Head, N. C, was set on fire this morning, and totally destroyed. The rebels threatened to take her, but the captain by his great coolness prevented.

—A meeting of cotton and tobacco-planters, was held in Richmond, Va., to take into consideration the voluntary destruction of the cotton and tobacco crop, in view of the fact that the enemy’s efforts were mainly directed toward robbing the South of the accumulation of these two great staples:

“On motion of Col. C. M. F. Garnett, Gen. Thomas J. Green, of North-Carolina, was called to the chair, and R. R. Rhodes, Esq., Commissioner of Patents, appointed Secretary. The Chairman explained the objects of the meeting, saying that as cotton was king and tobacco vice-regal, it was proposed to ascertain how far they could be made to subserve the cause of our independence.

“An eloquent address was delivered by Dr. C. K. Marshall, of Mississippi, in which he advocated the purchase of the cotton and tobacco crop by the government, and its destruction, if necessary. He deprecated reliance on foreign intervention, saying that we must fight out the battle ourselves.

“Gov. Brown, of Mississippi, being called upon, responded in a few spirited remarks, in the course of which the extortioners and the Yankee acquisitiveness of the shopkeepers and moneymakers who have selected Richmond as the theatre of their exploits, were alluded to in terms of withering contempt.

“The Mayor responded, defending the resident population from any charge tending to impugn their devotion to the cause of Southern rights.

“Thomas H. Wynne, Esq., of the House of Delegates, spoke effectively in vindication of his fellow-citizens from the charge of want of appreciation or patriotism, showing that these entitled to be called citizens of the metropolis had, since the commencement of the war, met the requirements of the crisis. The city, he said, had sent to the field a soldier for every voter.

“Gov. Brown briefly responded, again excoriating the extortioners and cheating shopkeepers now domiciled in our midst”—(Doc. 66.)

—The Raleigh (N. C.) Register of this date, has an editorial which begins by saying that “it would be criminal as well as idle to deny that the present is the most gloomy period that the South has witnessed since the commencement of the war,” and the editor in the most earnest manner calls upon the people to remain by their colors and fight to the last.

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Gallipolis, February 26, 1862.

Dear Uncle: — On my way to the wars again. Left all well and happy at home. Your letters reached me. There will be no difficulty about “camping down” in your house. Lucy could get up out of her furniture a camp chest which will be ample for comfort without buying anything.

I shall be away from mails soon. Shall not write often. You will hear all important things by telegraph.

Sincerely,

R. B. Hayes.

S. Birchard.

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Feb. 25. This being a warm, sunny day, a small party of us thought we would take a stroll up to the head of the island, a mile or two, and perhaps we might find some traces or relics of Raleigh’s expedition. Arriving at our destination, we discovered a large, weather-beaten two-storied house, built at some remote period, and surrounded by large live oak trees. We had not the slightest doubt but that this was the house built by Lane and his party. Seeing a man standing outside, whom we supposed was the gentlemanly proprietor of the ranche, we approached, and saluting him very respectfully, inquired if he was in receipt of any recent advices from Raleigh’s expedition. He looked at us in utter astonishment and said he knew nothing about it and reckoned there had been “no sich expedition yere.” He said, “Burnside’s expedition was yere,” and “reckoned that was about enough;” he couldn’t see the use of any more coming. We bade the gentleman good day and left. In looking around for relics, Whipple picked up an old shoe heel. Here was a prize surely, a veritable relic of Raleigh’s party. Whipple put it in his pocket, intending, as he said, to send it to the antiquarian society at Worcester, and indulging in the hope that for presenting such a priceless relic, they would at least vote him an honorary member of the society. Relics being scarce, we went up to the shore where we could look up the Albemarle. The wind was blowing gently down the sound, and the little rollers were breaking on the beach at our feet. It was pretty warm; the water looked clear and really refreshing. Some one proposed taking a dip. No sooner said than off came our clothes and in we plunged. Egad! such a scrambling and floundering to get out is seldom seen. It reminded me of a basket of lobsters turned into a tub of scalding water. The water was ice cold, and I thought I should certainly freeze before getting out. After getting on my clothes and getting warm, I certainly felt better for my bath. It was agreed by all hands that February was the wrong season of the year for out-door bathing. Whipple is despondent, his hopes are dashed. He came to me and informed me that he had carefully inspected the shoe heel, and found it put together with cut nails, which are a much more recent invention than Raleigh’s expedition.

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Tuesday Feb 25th 1862

Nothing in particular has occured today. But it has been a clear dry day with a bright sun. Yesterday the wind did much damage blowing off roofs and ruining the Baptist church on 13th Street. Went over with the boys after dinner to see it today. Called on our return at Franklin Square to see the Dress Parade of the “Regulars,” parts of the 3rd & 10th Regts, 11 Companies. Called down to the “National” this evening, got NY papers.

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The three diary manuscript volumes, Washington during the Civil War: The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865, are available online at The Library of Congress.

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February 25th.—They have taken at Nashville¹ more men than we had at Manassas; there was bad handling of troops, we poor women think, or this would not be. Mr. Venable added bitterly, “Giving up our soldiers to the enemy means giving up the cause. We can not replace them.” The up-country men were Union men generally, and the low-country seceders. The former growl; they never liked those aristocratic boroughs and parishes, they had themselves a good and prosperous country, a good constitution, and were satisfied. But they had to go—to leave all and fight for the others who brought on all the trouble, and who do not show too much disposition to fight for themselves.

That is the extreme up-country view. The extreme lowcountry says Jeff Davis is not enough out of the Union yet. His inaugural address reads as one of his speeches did four years ago in the United States Senate.

A letter in a morning paper accused Mr. Chesnut of staying too long in Charleston. The editor was asked for the writer’s name. He gave it as Little Moses, the Governor’s secretary. When Little Moses was spoken to, in a great trepidation he said that Mrs. Pickens wrote it, and got him to publish it; so it was dropped, for Little Moses is such an arrant liar no one can believe him. Besides, if that sort of thing amuses Mrs. Pickens, let her amuse herself.

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¹ Nashville was evacuated by the Confederates under Albert Sidney Johnston, in February, 1862.

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February 25.—General Henry Heth and staff have arrived at Lewisburgh, Va. He takes command of the forces of Kanawha. He was greeted with great applause by the troops, many of whom were in his old command, and all knew him by reputation. Great confidence is felt in this young and talented officer, and no one could have been sent who gives so universal satisfaction.—Richmond Dispatch, February 28.

—The Savannah Republican of this date says: A reconnoissance by the steamer Savannah, yesterday, brought to light all the movements of the enemy in our river. They have erected three batteries, which effectually cut off all communication with the Fort—one of four guns, on Venus’s Point, one of the same number of guns on a small marsh, just above Long Island, and commanding the south channel, and the third on boats moored in Mud River. The three are located in the form of a triangle, and could not be passed by any vessel in our service. The guns are all of a heavy calibre, most of them throwing shot to the distance of three miles. A number were fired at the Savannah, but they all fell short.

—Major Ferdinand Lacomte formally received his appointment on Major-General McClellan’s staff. He is considered one of the most intelligent, energetic officers in the Swiss service, and is known as an author as well as a soldier. He obtained leave of absence from his own government to enter the National army.

—The city of Nashville, on the Cumberland River, capital of Tennessee, was occupied this morning by the National forces under command of General Nelson, U.S.A. No opposition was made to the landing of the troops, who had been conveyed from Clarksville by steamer. The greatest panic prevailed in the city on the announcement of the approach of the National soldiers. Large numbers of the inhabitants fled with the retreating rebel army, and a vast amount of property was wantonly destroyed by the fugitives.— (Doc. 63.)

—The Ninth Ohio and Second Minnesota regiments this afternoon received two splendid flags from the loyal ladies of Louisville, in commemoration of their victory at Mill Springs on January nineteenth. Considerable enthusiasm attended the presentation.—Louisville Journal, Feb. 26.

—An important order was issued from the War Department at Washington, in relation to the transmission of intelligence in regard to military operations. All the telegraph lines in the United States (loyal States, we presume, is meant) were taken possession of by the War Department, and all telegraphic communications in respect to military operations, not authorized by the War Department, were forbidden. Newspapers publishing military intelligence, however obtained, and by whatever medium received, not authorized by the official authority, were excluded thereafter from receiving intelligence by telegraph, or transmitting their papers by railroad.

—The rebel General Sterling Price sent an official report of his retreat from the State of Missouri, to the disloyal Governor C. F. Jackson, dated at Camp on Cove Creek, Arkansas. He states that, having occupied Springfield, Mo., for the purpose of being within reach of supplies, etc., he was attacked by superior numbers of National troops on the twelfth inst., and deemed it prudent to retreat. After a fatiguing march of over four days’ duration, with continual skirmishing with the National troops, he succeeded in reaching Cross Hollows, Arkansas, with a loss of from four to six killed and fifteen or eighteen wounded.— (Doc. 64.)

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Cincinnati, February 25, 1862. Tuesday. — A. M., 8:30, bright, cold, gusty, started in cars on Marietta Railroad; reached Hamden, junction of railroad to Portsmouth, about 2 P. M.; twenty-five miles to Oak Hill on this railroad; Cuthbert, in quartermaster department under Captain Fitch at Gauley Bridge, my only acquaintance. Took an old hack — no curtains, rotten harness, deep muddy roads — for Marietta [Gallipolis]. The driver was a good-natured, persevering youngster of seventeen, who trudged afoot through the worst holes and landed us safely at Gallipolis [at] three-thirty A. M., after a cold, sleepless, uncomfortable ride. He said he had joined three regiments; turned out of two as too young and taken out of the third by his father. Poor boy! His life is one of much greater hardship than anything a soldier suffers.

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Monday Feb 24th 1862

The public offices have been closed again today in consequence of the funeral of Willie Lincoln. A great many hundreds went to the house, but a small number were admited, as the friends of the family only were invited to attend. Myself and Wife were admited and rode to the Cemetery at Georgetown “Oakhill.” The other Boy is quite low. I fear he will not recover. Today we rcd the Bll of fruit &c sent by Col Mirrick, the green apples had been frozen & were [dredged or damaged?].

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The three diary manuscript volumes, Washington during the Civil War: The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865, are available online at The Library of Congress.

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