December 4th.—To Arlington, where Senator Ira Harris presented flags—that is, standards—to a cavalry regiment called after his name; the President, Mrs. Lincoln, ministers, generals, and a large gathering present. Mr. Harris made a very long and a very fierce speech; it could not be said Ira furor brevis est; and Colonel Davies, in taking the standard, was earnest and lengthy in reply. Then a barrister presented colour No. 2 in a speech full of poetical quotations, to which Major Kilpatrick made an excellent answer. Though it was strange enough to hear a political disquisition on the causes of the rebellion from a soldier in full uniform, the proceedings were highly theatrical and very effective. “Take, then, this flag,” &c.—”Defendit with your,” &c.—” Yes, sir, we will guard this sacred emblem with —,” &c. The regiment then went through some evolutions, which were brought to an untimely end by a feu de joie from the infantry in the rear, which instantly broke up the squadrons, and sent them kicking, plunging, and falling over the field, to the great amusement of the crowd.

Dined with Lord Lyons, where was Mr. Gait, Financial Minister of Canada; Mr. Stewart, who has arrived to replace Mr. Irvine, and others. In our rooms, a grand financial discussion took place in honour of Mr. Gait, between Mr. Butler Duncan and others, the former maintaining that a general issue of national paper was inevitable. A very clever American maintained that the North will be split into two great parties by the result of the victory which they are certain to gain over the South—that the Democrats will offer the South concessions more liberal than they could ever dream of, and that both will unite against the Abolitionists and Black Republicans.


4th.—The story of yesterday’s fight is all bosh. There were no two hundred prisoners taken—no fifteen killed—no fight—not a rebel seen! Munchausen must have been the legitimate son of a camp, or rather, the camp must be the legitimate progenitor of the whole race of Munchausen.

But it is surprising how camp life enhances the capacities of some men. I left home in July a dyspeptic. I came to Camp Griffin, in October, weighing one hundred and thirty-nine pounds. I record here, as something worth my remembering, an extract of a letter written to-day to a friend inquiring how camp life affected my health:

” * * * I weigh now one hundred and fifty pounds. I have almost recovered my appetite. With other things in proportion, I now take three cups of coffee for breakfast, three cups tea at dinner, two cups at tea, and eat five meals a day, or suffer from hunger. My last meal is usually taken at 11 to 12 o’clock at night, and consists of one or two chickens, or a can of oysters, with a pot of English pickled cauliflower. With that I contrive to get through the night.

“But with the morrow’s rising sun
The same dull round begins again.”

“Last night, however, I was so unfortunate as to have no chickens. My can of oysters was sour, and I had to put up with a single head of boiled cabbage, half a dozen cold potatoes, and some cold boiled beef. I wonder what I shall do when we get away from the neighborhood of Washington to where there is no market, no oysters, no chickens, no cabbage, no cauliflower, ‘no nothin’.’ I shall be compelled to settle back to dyspepsia, and have no appetite.”



Mercury at 24 this morning, the air pure and bracing, in the office as usual all day. Bought some wood and coal this morning, enough I think to last till “New Years.” By that time I think the Potomac will be open or clear of Batterys, but it may be closed with ice. Some indications of a movement over the River. According to the Report of the Sec’y of War, we have 600,000 men now in the field. Mr Seward says “we do not want any more men. The War is nearly over.” Spent an hour with Alex Williams at “Browns.”


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.


DECEMBER 4TH.—We are now tasting the bitter fruits of a too indulgent treatment of our enemies. Yesterday Gen. Stuart’s cavalry and the 6th Regiment S. C. volunteers met with a bloody disaster at Drainsville. It appears that several of the traitors arrested and sent hither by Gen. Johnston were subsequently discharged by Gen. Winder, under the instructions of Mr. Benjamin, and sent to their homes, in the vicinity of Drainsville, at the expense of the government. These men, with revenge rankling in their breasts, reported to Gen. Stuart that a large amount of forage might be obtained in the vicinity of Drainsville, and that but a few companies of the enemy were in the neighborhood. The general believing these men to be loyal, since they seemed to have the confidence of the War Department, resolved to get the forage; and for that purpose started some 80 wagons early the next morning, escorted by several regiments of infantry and 1000 cavalry, hoping to capture any forces of the enemy in the vicinity. Meantime the Drainsville traitors had returned to their homes the preceding evening, and sent off intelligence to the headquarters of the enemy of the purpose of Gen. Stuart to send out in that direction, early the next day, a foraging party consisting of so many wagons, and small forces of infantry, artillery, and cavalry.

The enemy hastened away to Drainsville an overwhelming force, and ambuscaded the road, where it entered the woods, with artillery and men of all arms. Their line was the shape of a horse-shoe, and completely concealed from view.

Gen. Stuart had not entered far into the jaws of this trap, before some of his trusty scouts reported the presence of the enemy, Believing it to be only the pickets of the few companies previously reported, the general advanced still farther; but at the same time ordering the wagons to retire. He was soon undeceived by a simultaneous and concentric fire of artillery and musketry, which brought down many of his men. Nevertheless, he charged through the lines in one or two places, and brought his guns to bear with effect on such portions of the enemy’s line as were not wholly protected by the inequalities of the ground and the dense growth of woods. He quickly ascertained, however, that he was contending against vastly superior numbers, and drew off his forces in good order, protecting his wagons. The enemy did not pursue, for Stuart had rather more men than the informers reported to the enemy. But we lost 200 men, while the enemy sustained but little injury; their killed and wounded not exceeding 30.

This is the first serious wound inflicted on the country by Mr. Benjamin’s policy.


December 4.—The Maryland Legislature organized to-day by electing Mr. Berry Speaker of the House, and Mr. Goldsborough President of the Senate. The Governor’s Message was transmitted. It is eminently loyal and patriotic. He says he has convened the Legislature in special session, in order that they may at once perform clearly the express will of the people, by taking such steps as will seem most effective to vindicate the honor and loyalty of the State, by undoing, as far as possible, and remedying the evils of the legislation of their predecessors. He urges measures for the payment of the State’s portion of the national tax for the expenses of the war. He says the rebellion must be put down, no matter at what cost. The State must bear her share, and he hopes it will be done with no niggard hand. He urges a loan for the purpose; also, that it is due to the pride of the House that immediate provision be made for raising and equipping Maryland’s quota of volunteers for the war. He also recommends legislation for the summary punishment of persons in Maryland, who shall be convicted of aiding or abetting in any manner these who are in arms against the Government.

—A Spirited skirmish took place to-night near Anandale on the Little River Turnpike, Va. It having been ascertained that a number of rebel cavalry were in the habit of coming out toward the pickets in that locality, and driving in or capturing them, last night Colonel Taylor, with twenty-five or thirty men from the Third New Jersey regiment, went out toward Anandale, where the rebels were said to appear occasionally, coming down the road at full gallop. They tied a piece of telegraph wire across the road, just high enough to trip the horses and throw them with their riders, and then placed themselves in ambush beside the road. About half-past eleven forty or fifty of the rebel cavalry approached, galloping down the road.

The head horseman tripped and fell, and the others rushing on, several tumbled over in the confusion, in the mean time swearing and shouting. The Nationals poured a volley into them, unhorsing several, killing six or seven, and capturing three, one of whom was a lieutenant. The rebels managed to get some of their killed and wounded away. One private on the National side was mortally wounded and died soon after. The captured rebel lieutenant was shot in the leg and made fight with his sword when the National soldiers went to pick him up. A bayonet prick, however, quieted him.— Philadelphia Inquirer.

—The Memphis Avalanche says: “We unhesitatingly say that the cause of justice and the cause of humanity itself, demands that the black flag shall be unfurled on every field—that extermination and death shall be proclaimed against the hellish miscreants who persist in polluting our soil with their crimes. We will stop the effusion of blood, we will arrest the horrors of war, by terrific slaughter of the foe, by examples of overwhelming and unsparing vengeance. When Oliver Cromwell massacred the garrison of Drogheda, suffering not a man to escape, he justified it on the ground that his object was to bring the war to a close—to stop the effusion of blood—and that it was, therefore, a merciful act on his part. The South can afford no longer to trifle—she must strike the most fearful blows —the war-cry of extermination must be raised.”

—A Bill was presented in the Tennessee Legislature, requesting the Judges of the Supreme and Circuit Courts, Chancellors, and Justices of the Peace, not to hold their courts, during the continuance of the war, for the trial of cases wherein debts and money were involved.—Louisville Journal, Dec. 12.

—The “Confederate” Congress passed yesterday, unanimously, and President Davis signed to-day, the following:

Be it Resolved by the Congress of the Confederate States, That the thanks of the people of the Confederate States are eminently due, and are hereby tendered, to Major-General Sterling Price and the Missouri Army under his command, for the gallant conduct they have displayed throughout their service in the present war, especially for the skill, fortitude, and courage, by which they gained the brilliant achievement at Lexington, Mo., resulting, on the 20th day of September last, in the reduction of that town, and the surrender of the entire Federal army there employed.—Idem.

—In the Senate, at Washington, a resolution expelling John C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky, an officer in the rebel army, was offered, but objected to by Mr. Powell, of Kentucky, on the ground that as Breckinridge had already resigned he could not be expelled. The resolution was adopted by a vote of yeas thirty-six, nays none.—Mr. Wilson introduced a resolution providing for the release of slaves confined in prison in Washington. The subject was referred to the Committee on District of Columbia Affairs. On motion of Mr. Wilson, the same committee were directed to consider the question of abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia, allowing compensation to loyal owners of slaves.—Mr. Saulsbury, of Delaware, proposed the appointment of a commission, consisting of Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, Roger B. Taney, Edward Everett, George M. Dallas, Thomas M. Ewing, Horace Binney, Reverdy Johnson, John J Crittenden, and George C. Pugh, to confer with a like number of commissioners from the so-called Confederate States, with a view to the restoration of peace, the preservation of the Union, and the maintenance of the constitution, and that during the pendency of the deliberations of the joint commissioners, active hostilities should cease. The proposition was laid on the table.—(Doc. 211.)

—Queen Victoria issued a proclamation forbidding the export from all ports of the United Kingdom, of gunpowder, nitre, nitrate of soda, brimstone, lead, and fire-arms.—London Gazette, Dee. 4.

—To-day, a party of exasperated Union citizens of all parties, attacked a gang of returned rebels from General Price’s army, under command of Captains Young and Wheatley, near Dunksburg, about twenty miles west of Sedalia, Mo., killing seven and wounding ten. Among the killed was Captain Young. None of the citizens were killed or severely wounded. Three of the wounded rebels died.—N. Y. Herald, Dec. 7.

Gen Phelps’ expedition, which left Fortress Monroe, Va., on the 29th of Nov., on board the steamer Constitution, landed its forces and stores on Ship Island, in what is called Mississippi Sound, in the Gulf of Mexico, near the coast. After landing, Gen. Phelps issued a proclamation to the loyal citizens of the South-West, which called forth some sharp criticism at the North as well as the South.—(Doc. 211.)

—The first independent battery of New York State Volunteer artillerists arrived in New York, from Albany. They number one hundred and fifty-six men, and are under the command of Captain T. J. Kennedy. The majority of the men have been enlisted from the plough and harrow in Cayuga County, and are a fine-looking set of young men. They are fully uniformed but without sabres or guns, both of which wait them in Washington. Their pieces are to consist of four ten-pound rifled Parrott guns, and two twelve-pound howitzers.

—Gen. Prentiss, at St. Joseph, Mo., addressed a large crowd of the citizens of that place, declaring in the most solemn manner that he would compel every secessionist there to take an oath of allegiance to the United States Government, or he would set them at work in the trenches of Fort Smith. The speech delighted the loyal, but sent consternation into the ranks of the traitors.—N. Y. Tribune, Dec. 7.

—This night a detachment of the Federal cavalry made a dash for the Memphis Branch railroad, and succeeded in burning a portion of the Whip-poor-will Bridge, taking eleven prisoners of the guard stationed there. Though wholly unaccompanied with danger, this is the most brilliant exploit of the war in Kentucky. And though the damage done is trifling, and has been repaired ere this, the injury to the Southern cause is serious out of all proportion to the loss sustained. This movement of the Federal scouts will excite a feeling of uneasiness and apprehension in the country, discouraging Southern men and encouraging the few Lincolnites in this section. And there is no excuse for it.—Nashville Courier.(Doc. 212.)

—Secretary Seward addressed a letter to Gen. McClellan, calling his attention to the fact that slaves escaping from the rebels, and coming within the national lines, had been imprisoned in the jail at Washington. The Secretary pointed out the impropriety of the fact, and declared that such arrest and imprisonment ought to be followed by the immediate punishment of the persons making the seizure.— (Doc. 213.)

—At St. Louis Major-General Halleck issued an important order to his commanding officers in Missouri, directing them to arrest and hold in confinement every one found in arms against the Government, or those who, in any way, give aid to the rebels; and ordering that all persons found within the lines of the army, in disguise as loyal citizens, and giving information to the enemy, and all these taken from the ranks of the rebels in actual service, should not be treated as prisoners of war, but as spies, and should be shot. He further ordered that the provost-marshals of St. Louis should take in charge the numbers of Union families who were crowding into the city—having been plundered and driven from their homes by the rebels— and quarter them upon avowed secessionists, charging the expense of their board to them, on the ground that, although they had not themselves plundered and driven forth these unfortunate people, they were giving aid and comfort to these who had done so.

Alfred L. Castleman

December, 3d.—There is a rumor here to-day that our troops are in possession of both Savannah and Pensacola. I do not believe it.

What do our leaders mean to do with us this winter? Here we are, the 3d December, a cold, freezing, windy day, in our open tents, without intimation of what we are going to do— with no more preparation for winter quarters than we had a month ago. Are we to be kept in this condition all winter? We are getting tired of McClellan’s want of vim. How long is he going to be “getting ready?” All is conjecture, except that the wind howls dreadfully around our tents this cold night.

This morning the three divisions of the army here sent out five hundred to a thousand men each, to beat the bush. This moment comes the statement that they woke up about four hundred rebel cavalry, surrounded them, and that they are even now endeavoring to fight their way out; that they have killed about fifteen of our men; that we have taken about two hundred prisoners, and are fishing in the dark for the rest. All this may be true, but I am getting to be a great doubter of the truth of anything I hear in camp. We shall know all about it to-morrow.



This has been the coldest day of the season yet. M. this morning stood at 28. Have been in the office all day. No particular news afloat. Went down to the Ave after dinner, bot some Carpeting of “Barnes and Mitchel,” 20 yards for dining room and 28 yards stairs Carpet. Wife went down and selected it. Called at Willards. Saw Hugh Hastings of Albany and some other gentlemen who I knew from NY. Came home about 7 o’c., read the Presidents Message which was delivered to Congress today. A plain, practical document.


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.


December 3rd.—Drove down to the Capitol, and was introduced to the floor of the Senate by Senator Wilson, and arrived just as Mr. Forney commenced reading the President’s message, which was listened to with considerable interest. At dinner, Colonel D’Utassy, of the Garibaldi legion, who gives a curious account of his career. A Hungarian by birth, he went over from the Austrian service, and served under Bern; was wounded and taken prisoner at Temesvar, and escaped from Spielberg, through the kindness of Count Bennigsen, making his way to Semlin, in the disguise of a servant, where Mr. Fonblanque, the British consul, protected him. Thence he went to Kossuth at Shumla, finally proceeded to Constantinople, where he was engaged to instruct the Turkish cavalry; turned up in the Ionian Islands, where he was engaged by the late Sir H. Ward, as a sort of secretary and interpreter, in which capacity he also served Sir G. Le Marchant. In the United States he was earning his livelihood as a fencing, dancing, and language master; and when the war broke out he exerted himself to raise a regiment, and succeeded in completing his number in seventeen days, being all the time obliged to support himself by his lessons. I tell his tale as he told it to me.

One of our friends, of a sporting turn, dropped in tonight, followed by a gentleman dressed in immaculate black, and of staid deportment, whose name I did not exactly catch, but fancied it was that of a senator of some reputation. As the stranger sat next me, and was rubbing his knees nervously, I thought I would commence conversation.

“It appears, sir, that affairs in the south-west are not so promising. May I ask you what is your opinion of the present prospects of the Federals in Missouri?”

I was somewhat disconcerted by his reply, for rubbing his knees harder than ever, and imprecating his organs of vision in a very sanguinary manner, he said—

“Well, d____ if I know what to think of them. They’re a b____ rum lot, and they’re going on in a d____ rum way. That’s what I think.”

The supposed legislator, in fact, was distinguished in another arena, and was no other than a celebrated pugilist, who served his apprenticeship in the English ring, and has since graduated in honours in America.

I dined with Mr. Cameron, Secretary-of-War, where I met Mr. Forney, Secretary of the Senate; Mr. House, Mr. Wilkeson, and others, and was exceedingly interested by the shrewd conversation and candid manner of our host. He told me he once worked as a printer in the city of Washington, at ten dollars a week, and twenty cents an hour for extra work at the case on Sundays. Since that time he has worked onwards and upwards, and amassed a large fortune by contracts for railways and similar great undertakings. He says the press rules America, and that no one can face it and live; which is about the worst account of the chances of an honest longevity I can well conceive. His memory is exact, and his anecdotes, albeit he has never seen any but Americans, or stirred out of the States, very agreeable. Once there lived at Washington a publican’s daughter, named Mary O’Neil, beautiful, bold, and witty. She captivated a member of Congress, who failed to make her less than his wife; and by degrees Mrs. Eaton—who may now be seen in the streets of Washington, an old woman, still bright-eyed and, alas! bright-cheeked, retaining traces of her great beauty—became a leading personage in the State, and ruled the imperious, rugged, old Andrew Jackson so completely, that he broke up his Cabinet and dismissed his ministers on her account. In the days of her power she had done some trifling service to Mr. Cameron, and he has just repaired it by conferring some military appointment on her grandchild.

The dinner, which was preceded by deputations, was finished by one which came from the Far West, and was introduced by Mr. Hannibal Hamlin, the Vice-President; Mr. Owen Lovejoy, Mr. Bingham, and other ultra-Abolitionist members of Congress; and then speeches were made, and healths were drunk, and toasts were pledged, till it was time for me to drive to a ball given by the officers of the 5th United States Cavalry, which was exceedingly pretty, and admirably arranged in wooden huts, specially erected and decorated for the occasion. A huge bonfire in the centre of the camp, surrounded by soldiers, by the carriage drivers, and by negro servants, afforded the most striking play of colour and variety of light and shade I ever beheld.

Charles Francis Adams, Jr.

Boston, December 3, 1861

Your letters were written under the cloud of Balls Bluff, and it is hard for us just now when every one is getting elated again to go back and appreciate the bitterness of which you speak. Yes, every one is in the clouds again, but I must confess my confidence has been too much shaken to be suddenly restored. I am oppressed by a combined sense of ill-luck and incompetence. A few words of Balls Bluff affair and then let us try to forget it. I am informed by Harrison Ritchie, who has been to Washington for the Governor recently and is in “possesshun of certing infamashon,” that there is no doubt that the advance was ordered by General Scott without McClellan’s knowledge, and the advance on Romney was ordered by him at the same time. The last succeeded and the first failed, and within ten days Scott resigned. The results of the reverse were however fatal, and much in the way that I imagined, the plans of the campaign were frustrated, and here we now are with a disconnected series of successes and reverses leading to little and effecting in themselves still less. So affairs now stand, and soon we must go into winter quarters, for today it has set in bitter cold. Still there are signs of promise in the sky and the blockade promises us far greater results than our arms bid fair to win. The South already is evidently starving, and if it is so in November what will it be in April? They are wild with terror at our naval expeditions and, in despite of all and everything, I never felt so confident of crushing them in time, if no foreign force intervenes, by sheer weight, as I now do. I have lost all confidence in our skill or courage, for the present; but passing events make it pretty clear to my mind that we are learning fast and that brute force is all with us.


Every one is fearfully anxious to hear from England of the reception of Mason and Slidell’s capture, and your letter in which you mention that the James Adger was watched created a good deal of uneasiness. The English precedents so clearly justify us that I cannot fear difficulty from that cause; but I do fear very much a popular clamor and feeling of hatred towards us which will make the occurrence of future difficulty very easy. However, every day gained is a great thing now and I think there will be a Southern collapse within four months, if only we can hold over that time.

But I have talked enough of politics. How do they like my going into the army in London? Did they expect it? Were they pleased or disgusted? As for me I have nothing new to tell you in that regard. The regiment is still here, but I do not expect to be ordered to join until they move to Carlisle barracks, which will probably be very soon, for winter has set in in earnest. .. .

A likeness of Jones when he was editor  and majority owner of the Daily Madisonian during President John Tyler's administration.

DECEMBER 3D.—Several members of Congress came into my office and denounced the policy which the government seemed to have adopted of permitting Yankees, and those who sympathize with them, to be continually running over to the enemy with information of our condition, and thus inviting attacks and raids at points where we are utterly defenseless. They seemed surprised when I told them that I not only agreed with them entirely, but that I had really written most of the articles they had read in the press denunciatory of the policy they condemned. I informed them, moreover, that I had long since refused to sign any such passports as they alluded to, at the risk of being removed. They said they believed the President, in his multiplicity of employments, was not aware of the extent of the practice, and the evil effects it was certain to entail on the country; and it was their purpose to wait upon him and remonstrate against the pernicious practice of Mr. Benjamin.

rebellion record

December 3.—Major Bowen’s Cavalry were attacked at Salem, Dent Co., Mo., this morning at four o’clock, by three hundred rebels under command of Colonels Freeman and Turner. They charged upon a house in which some of the Federal soldiers were sleeping, killing and wounding fifteen, shooting them through the windows and as they emerged from the house. Major Bowen, whose head-quarters were at the court house, one hundred yards distant, rushed out and rallied his men, when a street fight took place. The Federals charged upon the rebels, drove them from the streets, and followed them some distance out of town. They were perfectly cleaned out and fled. Many of the rebels were killed and wounded, but the number was not ascertained. Major Bowen had possession of the town, and sent to Rolla, Mo., for a surgeon and a reinforcement of fifty men. Capt. Dodd, of the rebel force, was badly wounded and taken prisoner. He said Turner had one hundred and thirty men under his command. Among the dead on the Federal side was James Ayres, of Company A, commanded by Captain Stevens. The following were wounded: William Cartwright, Wilson Randolph, John Hooper, and Samuel Matlock, of Company A.—St. Louis Democrat.

President Lincoln’s Message and the accompanying documents were transmitted to Congress to-day. The Message is clear and explicit in its statements, practical in its suggestions, and eminently conservative in its treatment of the exciting subjects which depend upon the political questions connected with the rebellion. The President urges no scheme of general emancipation or of arming the slaves. “In considering the policy to be adopted for suppressing the insurrection,” says the President, “I have been anxious and careful that the inevitable conflict for this purpose shall not degenerate into a violent and remorseless revolutionary struggle. I have, therefore, in every ease, thought it proper to keep the integrity of the Union prominent as the primary object of the contest on our part, leaving all questions which are not of vital military importance to the more deliberate action of the Legislature.” This declaration is eminently satisfactory to the country.

—The Western Virginia Convention in session at Wheeling to-day, changed the name of the new State from Kanawha to Western Virginia.

—This morning, Gen. Fitz John Porter sent out a small scouting party to make a reconnoisance in the vicinity of Vienna, Va. It consisted of a squadron of the Third Pennsylvania Cavalry, composing Companies F and M, under command of Captain Bell, numbering one hundred and twenty men. The first information received from Captain Bell, was the arrival at Gen. Porter’s head-quarters this afternoon of an orderly, with the intelligence that the squadron had met the enemy in considerable force— said to be five hundred cavalry and two hundred infantry—and that our men had engaged them and suffered much.

Upon learning this, General Porter in person, with a force of four regiments of infantry and two companies of cavalry, started to the rescue of Captain Bell’s party, and met them a short distance beyond Fall’s Church, on their return.

Captain Bell reports that they proceeded a short distance beyond Vienna, when they encountered the rebel cavalry that General Wadsworth designed to cut off. The party were defiling through a tract of woods only wide enough for the column to march by twos.

The first indication of the presence of the enemy was the opening of a galling fire upon the rear of his column, just entering the wood, by a body of infantry concealed in a house near at hand. Captain Bell ordered his men forward, but on emerging from the wood, they were met by two or three hundred of the rebel cavalry, who opened upon them with carbine and pistol. Many of the horses in Captain Bell’s party, not being practised to the discharge of arms, became unmanageable.

The National troops were at once thrown into confusion; but each man, fighting on his own account, discharged his piece at the enemy, emptying several saddles. Two of the rebel horses were brought in. Lieutenant John W. Ford and Sergeant Smith, of Company F, were taken prisoners. Sergeant Parker, of Company M, was seriously injured by the fall of his horse. He was brought back to camp.

When the Nationals returned to camp, forty-five men were missing. The number killed and wounded is not known.

—Henry Fry and Jacob M. Hemslier were hung at Greenville, Tennessee, for bridge-burning.—Henry C. Burnett, Representative from Kentucky, was, upon the motion of Mr. Dunn of Indiana, expelled from the Congress of the United States for active participation in the rebellion.

Charles Wright  Wills

Monday, December 2, 1861.

While I was writing last night there really was a Rebel gunboat came up the river and fired into Fort Holt. Impudent, wasn’t it? The Fort replied, and Fort Cairo also shot a couple of shells over our heads toward the rascals, but they fell short. We could see the troops at Fort Holt out under arms for an hour. Taylor’s battery went off down the Norfolk road at a slashing pace to try and get a shot at the boat but was too late.

It is very cold this morning and snowing again. We are perfectly comfortable, though.


The Troops Brigaded.

Dec. 2. The troops encamped around here have been formed into three brigades, and will be commanded by Brigadier Generals Foster, lieno and Parke; the whole to be under command of Gen. A. E. Burnside and known as Burnside’s coast division. Our regiment has been assigned the right of the first brigade, comprising the 25th, 23d, 24th and 27th Massachusetts and 10th Connecticut regiments, under command of Brig. Gen. John G. Foster, U. S. A. I think we are fortunate in our commander, as he appears to me like a man who understands his business. Gen. Foster is a regular army officer, ranking as captain of engineer! He served in the Mexican war, and was with Major Anderson at the storming and surrender of Fort Sumpter. He has recently been commissioned brigadier general of volunteers. Judging from appearances, I have great faith in him as an able commander.



A fine cool day again. The great event has been the convening of Congress. A quorum was present and a great crowd was there. No particular news today. Young H N Jr is makeing an effort to get the place of Page in the “House.” Went down to the Ave this evening, bot Harpers Mag. and Frank Leslies Pictorial. Called at Barnes & Mitchels, came home by seven o’clock and staid there.


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.

William Howard Russell

December 2nd.—Congress opened to-day. The Senate did nothing. In the House of Representatives some Buncombe resolutions were passed about Captain Wilkes, who has become a hero—”a great interpreter of international law,” and also recommending that Messrs. Mason and Slidell be confined in felons’ cells, in retaliation for Colonel Corcoran’s treatment by the Confederates. M. Blondel, the Belgian minister, who was at the court of Greece during the Russian war, told me that when the French and English fleets lay in the Piraeus, a United States vessel, commanded, he thinks, by Captain Stringham, publicly received M. Persani, the Russian ambassador, on board, hoisted and saluted the Russian flag in the harbour, whereupon the French Admiral, Barbier de Tinan, proposed to the English Admiral to go on board the United States vessel and seize the ambassador, which the British officer refused to do.

William Thompson Lusk.

Headquarters 2d Brigade,

Hilton Head, Dec. 2d, 1861.

My dear Mother:

A real Southern storm is without — the rain falls heavily, thunder rolls in the distance, the fly of my tent flaps noisily — yet here within all is peace and quiet, loving not stormy thoughts. Let us look about my tent a little. The bottom is boarded and covered with straw; a washstand occupies the corner; a bed, comfortable with blankets, extends along one of the sides; from the tent-poles hang my sword, sash and belt, my military coat, and such clothes as are needful for daily wear. Then I am sitting on my valise (Lieut. Elliott’s name is upon it), and am writing at a table of rude construction — an old shutter, robbed from a Secession barn, laid upon a box—yet, covered with the beautiful blanket which came a gift from Hunt, it has a fine, jaunty look, and we think ourselves elegant in the extreme, especially when we put our new coffee-pot upon it, and sit writing at it for the purpose of spinning a yarn. A circular yarn I call it, for I intend it for all the kind friends whose loving thoughts were so abundantly manifest in that box of “goodies” which the “Bienville” brought me. There’s one thing that I’ve been keeping back all this time — the cunning rogue that I am. Its a big, blue Secession chest, a good deal battered and worn, but I have only to throw open the lid — and presto (in the excitement I had nearly written prestidigitato) — I feel, see, think all sorts of things — things around which cluster pleasant memories.

Let us see! Come, oh bottle of Abreco, out of thy hiding place, for thou must distil for me dainty fancies warm as the sun that ripened the grapes out of which thou art made! Ay, and a cigar I must have too — a real Havana — Santa Rosa is inscribed upon it. Why that was the name of a little Jew maiden whom I once knew, and concerning which Miss Ellen Dwight, with her superior worldly knowledge, whispers in the ear of Sam Elliott, “Oh strange infatuation!” But no matter. Let the fragrant clouds arise; clouds bearing fair, friendly, earthly visions! Stop,though! There the cap of blue and white, knit by small, slender fingers. Dear Lilly, I put it on now, and now I take it off and look at it. It has a pretty maidenly appearance about it, and suggests indefinitely kisses from red pouting lips, and the sort of romantic dreams in which sentimental youths indulge. Some such articles as this, probably, Penelope spun while waiting her Lord’s return from Troy. Is Penelope quietly spinning for me still? Or is the yarn run out, and does she now bend a willing ear to new suitors? If so, why then, bother take Penelope; let us look at the stockings! They have a jolly comfortable aspect. They bring one from visions of “airy, fairy Lilians” of poet fancy, to the substantial bread-and-butter sentiment of Germany. They are the work of comfortable middle-aged Penelopes, I fancy. I can commence at the toes of them, if I choose, and unravel them slowly, and each time the yarn makes a circuit, I can feel sure that I am unravelling a kind thought — perchance a tearful memory, that the loving ones wove into their work, as they sat knitting around the fireside. “Sweet home” — it is long since I have known thee, yet, when the labor is done, how eagerly will I clutch the promises the words “Sweet home” contain! I have some studs in my shirt. They are made of Sarah’s hair and they tell me home has changed somewhat since I knew it. I asked General Stevens the other day if he had known General Garnett. He said, “Yes. Well.” and almost in the same breath added, “He had such a lovely wife who died in my territory.” They two have bidden us farewell, and grief is deadened at the thought of their present happiness. I look again into the box, and I see there gifts from Hunt and Thomas. They have been good brothers to me. They two and Walter have always given me a full, hearty brother’s love. I am not an humble man, and am proud in many ways, but there is naught of which I am half so proud as my own true valued friends. As I think of them, they are not few; as I look into the box, I see this; as I remember all the kind acts they have done me, I feel this; and when I call to mind the goodness of the Almighty, I know it. Dear mother, dear sisters, dear brothers, I can hardly keep back the tears when I ask you to accept the thanks for your exceeding love. There are the little ones too, and they are never forgotten. I must add Walter’s boy to the list now — that wondrous boy, so different from all other babies, and yet so like all others in the striking resemblance he bears his papa. Tell Cousin Lou that I am using the ink and paper she sent me, to express to all my friends my thanks. Does Cousin Lou think I am such a savage — so delighting in secession blood — that I would not extend my hand to help anyone in trouble? And does she not feel sure that a duty would become a pleasure when it would be to assist her friends? Let her never doubt that should any of her relatives fall into our hands, I will not forget either my duty to them nor my love to her. The gift from Uncle John I felt, and accept with that pleasure which not only springs from affection, but from the honest respect I have for his fearlessness of character in vindication of the right. Thank Uncle Phelps and Aunt Maria. They have never faltered in their friendship toward me. Thank my Aunts. I trust I may never disgrace them. Thank Mrs. Tyler, Cousin Lizzie and Aunt Elizabeth. Their gifts were timely and acceptable. I trust I have omitted none of those to whom I am indebted. If so I would thank them too, and in conclusion I can only thank God who has given so many friends — friends so faithful, so kindly, and so true.


Will Lusk.

Rutherford B. Hayes

Fayetteville, Virginia, December 2, 1861.

Dearest : — … Dr. Joe made up his mind to go by the first wagon to Gauley on his way to Cincinnati. Won’t the boys jump to see him!

I should like a first-rate pair of military boots — not so high as common — high in the instep and large. Two or three military books — good reading books. We have Halleck [“Elements of Military Art and Science”] and Scott’s dictionary and don’t want them. . . .



Mrs. Hayes.

A likeness of Jones when he was editor  and majority owner of the Daily Madisonian during President John Tyler's administration.

DECEMBER 2D.—Gen. Lee has now been ordered South for the defense of Charleston and Savannah, and those cities are safe! Give a great man a field worthy of his powers, and he can demonstrate the extent of his abilities; but dwarf him in an insignificant position, and the veriest fool will look upon him with contempt. Gen. Lee in the streets here bore the aspect of a discontented man, for he saw that everything was going wrong; but now his eye flashes with zeal and hope. Give him time and opportunity, and he will hurl back the invader from his native land; yes, and he will commend the chalice of invasion to the lips of the North ; but not this year—it is too late for that.

rebellion record

December 2.—The Memphis Avalanche of this day, says: “Hang ’em,” yes, hang them, everyone. Every East Tennessean found recreant to the will and interest of the State of Tennessee, and known to be actively conniving with its enemies, should be hung and loftily. When the citizens of a State have, by an overwhelming majority at the ballot-box, determined on its foreign policy, and by that policy have been necessitated to arm for the defence of their homes and firesides, every resident on the soil of that State who lends or gives aid to the invader, deserves as little mercy as Beelzebub will give them in his empire. Wherever the cobra-like head of treason is lifted, it should be stricken off, and that quickly, for its poisonous saliva is as contagious as the airs of Malemma. “Hang ’em, hang ’em,” every one.

—Three rebel gunboats came up in sight of Fort Holt, near Cairo, Ill., this afternoon and fired several shots, which were returned from the fort and the batteries at Bird’s Point. A shot from the Point went over the rebel steamers and they turned back down the river. Soon after General Grant followed them, but was unsuccessful in overtaking the fleet.—Cincinnati Gazette, December 3.

—This day General Blenker, learning that a party of rebel cavalry were foraging a few miles in front of his position at Hunter’s Chapel, Va., despatched a squadron of horsemen to drive them off. They met, and a brief engagement ensued before the rebels put spurs to their horses and ran off, having three or four killed and wounded, and leaving two prisoners. The Nationals lost one man killed. The names of the prisoners are Alexander Maxwell, of Rectortown, Fauquier County, Virginia, and Wm. H. Dennis, of Salem, in the same county. The latter’s horse was taken with him. They were both members of Company II, Sixth regiment of Wise (Va.) Dragoons, Col. Field commanding. They had been sent to forage from their camp, two miles from Centreville.— Washington Star, Dec. 3.

—A sharp engagement between the U. 8. gunboats Hetzel, Seymour, White Head, Shawshene, and the rebel steamer Patrick Henry, took place about five miles above Newport News, Va. The bombardment lasted about two hours, commencing at five o’clock in the morning. The rebel steamer kept close to the shore, where a powerful battery assisted it materially.—(Doc. 209.)

—In the convention of Western Virginia, in session at Wheeling, Mr. Hagan, of Boone County, offered the following resolution, which was referred to the Committee on Fundamental and General Provisions:

Whereas Negro Slavery is the origin and foundation of our National troubles, and the cause of the terrible rebellion in our midst, that is seeking to overthrow our Government; and whereas Slavery is incompatible with the Word of God, detrimental to the interests of a free people, as well as wrong to the slaves themselves; therefore,

Resolved, That this Convention inquire into the expediency of making the proposed new State a free State, and that a provision be inserted in the Constitution for the gradual emancipation of all slaves within the proposed boundaries of the new State, to be submitted to the people of the same, for their approval or rejection.

—A military execution occurred at Shepherd’s Hill, near Centreville, Va. Two members of the New Orleans company, known as “The Tigers,” were shot for mutinous conduct and an assault upon the officer of the day.—Richmond Examiner, December 9.

—Both Houses of Congress met at Washington. In the Senate Mr. Trumbull gave notice of a bill to confiscate the property of the rebels and give freedom to persons in the slave States. Mr. Wilkinson gave notice of a bill to abolish the distinction between regular and volunteer forces.

In the House Mr. Maynard was, after some discussion, sworn in as a member from the second district of Tennessee. The question as to the right of Mr. Segar, of Va., to a seat was referred. Mr. Eliot offered a series of resolutions in favor of emancipating the slaves in the rebel districts. A motion to lay them on the table was lost by a vote of fifty-six to seventy, and the further consideration of them was postponed until the next Tuesday. Messrs. Campbell and Stevens also offered resolutions of similar import. Mr. Roscoe A. Conklin submitted a resolution calling upon the Secretary of War for information in regard to the responsibility of the disastrous movement at Ball’s Bluff, which was adopted. On motion of Mr. Odell, the President was requested to order John Slidell into close confinement, in return for similar treatment of Col. A. M. Wood, of the Fourteenth regiment N. Y. S. M., who was taken prisoner at Bull Run. A resolution of similar (illegible) in reference to James M. Mason, in return for the treatment to Col. Corcoran, was unanimously passed.

—The bark Samuel Moxley, partly owned in Apalachicola, Florida, was seized under the confiscation act by the collector at New London, Conn. The vessel had just arrived there in ballast from Sligo Island.

—The Eighty-seventh regiment N. Y. S. V., Brooklyn Rifles, under command of Colonel Stephen A. Dodge, left New York this evening for Washington, D. C. Before leaving, two magnificent silk flags were presented to the regiment by Major Kalbfleisch of Brooklyn, who addressed the men. Col. Dodge replied in a short speech.—N. Y. Herald, Dec. 4.

—The Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser has the following: Mr. Chas. B. May has erected buildings at Montgomery, Ala., suitable for the manufacture of all kinds of patent enamelled leather. He has succeeded in getting from the North, some time since, two or three workmen, who thoroughly understand the business, and who are said to be the best workmen in the country. He has all the necessary machinery and ingredients, and is going immediately into the manufacture on an extensive scale, of the article of patent leather, of any quality or color. This is something new in our new Confederacy; but, one by one, we are learning to ”paddle our own canoe,” independent of the blockades, and, ere long, we feel satisfied that every article usually brought from abroad will be made in our own country.

Rutherford B. Hayes

Sunday, December 1, [1861]. — A dry, cold day, no sun, leaden sky, — threatens snow. About noon gets gusty, wintry and colder. No severe cold yet. Am preparing to have regular lessons and drills. P. M. Began to drizzle — a wintry rain. Loup Creek or Laurel, up yesterday, prevented our waggons crossing. Today fifteen wagons with food came in. Read Halleck’s “Lectures on the Science and Art of War.” Goodish. Youth, health, energy are the qualities for war. West Point good enough, if it did not give us so much of the effete.

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