AUGUST 8TH.—For some time past (but since the battle at Manassas) quite a number of Northern and Baltimore policemen have made their appearance in Richmond. Some of these, if not indeed all of them, have been employed by Gen. Winder. These men, by their own confessions, have been heretofore in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York, merely petty larceny detectives, dwelling in bar-rooms, ten-pin alleys, and such places. How can they detect political offenders, when they are too ignorant to comprehend what constitutes a political offense? They are illiterate men, of low instincts and desperate characters. But their low cunning will serve them here among unsuspecting men. They will, if necessary, give information to the enemy themselves, for the purpose of convincing the authorities that a detective police is indispensable; and it is probable a number of them will be, all the time, on the pay-rolls of Lincoln.


August 8th.—To-day I saw a sword captured at Manassas. The man who brought the sword, in the early part of the fray, was taken prisoner by the Yankees. They stripped him, possessed themselves of his sleeve-buttons, and were in the act of depriving him of his boots when the rout began and the play was reversed; proceedings then took the opposite tack.

From a small rill in the mountain has flowed the mighty stream which has made at last Louis Wigfall the worst enemy the President has in the Congress, a fact which complicates our affairs no little. Mr. Davis’s hands ought to be strengthened; he ought to be upheld. A divided house must fall, we all say.

Mrs. Sam Jones, who is called Becky by her friends and cronies, male and female, said that Mrs. Pickens had confided to the aforesaid Jones (nee Taylor, and so of the President Taylor family and cousin of Mr. Davis’s first wife), that Mrs. Wigfall “described Mrs. Davis to Mrs. Pickens as a coarse Western woman.” Now the fair Lucy Holcombe and Mrs. Wigfall had a quarrel of their own out in Texas, and, though reconciled, there was bitterness underneath. At first, Mrs. Joe Johnston called Mrs. Davis “a Western belle,”¹ but when the quarrel between General Johnston and the President broke out, Mrs. Johnston took back the “belle” and substituted “woman” in the narrative derived from Mrs. Jones.

Commodore Barron² came with glad tidings. We had taken three prizes at sea, and brought them in safely, one laden with molasses. General Toombs told us the President complimented Mr. Chesnut when he described the battle scene to his Cabinet, etc. General Toombs is certain Colonel Chesnut will be made one of the new batch of brigadiers. Next came Mr. Clayton, who calmly informed us Jeff Davis would not get the vote of this Congress for President, so we might count him out.

Mr. Meynardie first told us how pious a Christian soldier was Kershaw, how he prayed, got up, dusted his knees and led his men on to victory with a dash and courage equal to any Old Testament mighty man of war.

Governor Manning’s account of Prince Jerome Napoleon : “He is stout and he is not handsome. Neither is he young, and as he reviewed our troops he was terribly overheated.” He heard him say “en avant,” of that he could testify of his own knowledge, and he was told he had been heard to say with unction “Allons ” more than once. The sight of the battle-field had made the Prince seasick, and he received gratefully a draft of fiery whisky.

Arrago seemed deeply interested in Confederate statistics, and praised our doughty deeds to the skies. It was but soldier fare our guests received, though we did our best. It was hard sleeping and worse eating in camp. Beauregard is half Frenchman and speaks French like a native. So one awkward mess was done away with, and it was a comfort to see Beauregard speak without the agony of finding words in the foreign language and forming them, with damp brow, into sentences. A different fate befell others who spoke “a little French.”

General and Mrs. Cooper came to see us. She is Mrs. Smith Lee’s sister. They were talking of old George Mason—in Virginia a name to conjure with. George Mason violently opposed the extension of slavery. He was a thorough aristocrat, and gave as his reason for refusing the blessing of slaves to the new States, Southwest and Northwest, that vulgar new people were unworthy of so sacred a right as that of holding slaves. It was not an institution intended for such people as they were. Mrs. Lee said: “After all, what good does it do my sons that they are Light Horse Harry Lee’s grandsons and George Mason’s? I do not see that it helps them at all.”

A friend in Washington writes me that we might have walked into Washington any day for a week after Manassas, such were the consternation and confusion there. But the god Pan was still blowing his horn in the woods. Now she says Northern troops are literally pouring in from all quarters. The horses cover acres of ground. And she thinks we have lost our chance forever.

A man named Grey (the same gentleman whom Secretary of War Walker so astonished by greeting him with, “Well, sir, and what is your business?”) described the battle of the 21st as one succession of blunders, redeemed by the indomitable courage of the two-thirds who did not run away on our side. Doctor Mason said a fugitive on the other side informed him that “a million of men with the devil at their back could not have whipped the rebels at Bull Run.” That’s nice.

There must be opposition in a free country. But it is very uncomfortable. “United we stand, divided we fall.” Mrs. Davis showed us in The New York Tribune an extract from an Augusta (Georgia) paper saying, “Cobb is our man. Davis is at heart a reconstructionist.” We may be flies on the wheel, we know our insignificance; but Mrs. Preston and myself have entered into an agreement; our oath is recorded on high. We mean to stand by our President and to stop all fault-finding with the powers that be, if we can and where we can, be the fault-finders generals or Cabinet Ministers.


¹ Mrs. Davis was born in Natchez, Mississippi, and educated in Philadelphia. She was married to Mr. Davis in 1845. In recent years her home has been in New York City, where she still resides (Dec. 1904).

² Samuel Barron was a native of Virginia, who had risen to be a captain in the United States Navy. At the time of Secession he received a commission as Commodore in the Confederate Navy.


August 8.—This evening, at Baltimore, Md., Charles King, from North Carolina, was arrested by officer Stevens, of the Southern District, by order of Major-General Dix, on the charge of being concerned in the raising of a number of men, whoso purpose it was to organize themselves into a crew, and take passage on some boat, intending to capture it in the same manner as the St. Nicholas, and then turn her into a pirate.—Baltimore Patriot, August 9.

—The Nineteenth Regiment of Indiana Volunteers passed through Philadelphia for the seat of war.—N. Y. Herald, August 9.

—F. K. Zollicoffer was appointed a brigadier-general in the rebel army, and assigned to the command of the Department of East Tennessee. On assuming his command, he issued a proclamation assuring all who desire peace, that they can have it by quietly and harmlessly pursuing their lawful avocations.—(Doc. 171.)

—The Massachusetts Fifteenth Regiment, under the command of Colonel Charles Devens, left Camp Scott, Worcester, Mass., for the seat of war. This regiment is armed with the Springfield musket, and numbers 1,040 men. They are all tall, muscular men, possessing the lightness of limb and full development of natural powers which denote the true specimen of a soldier. Their dress consists of the regular army uniform—gray pantaloons, blue coats, and hat, which is as neat and useful a thing as our fighting men could have.—N. Y. Herald, August 10.

—One hundred men of the Nineteenth Regiment N. Y. V., commanded by Capt. Kennedy, crossed the Potomac at Rock Ferry, at 1 A. M., and marched to Lorrettsville, Loudon co., Va., where it was reported that a company of rebel cavalry were engaged in the impressment of citizens. “When they reached the town the rebels had left, and they retraced their steps; but late in the afternoon, while upon their return march, they were overtaken with word that another detachment of about 130 cavalry had entered the town. Tired and worn out, almost shoeless, and hungry, the brave follows with a shout at once voted unanimously to return and attack the rebels. Starting at a double-quick time they reached the town, and under the cover of a corn-field gained sight of the cavalry about thirty rods distant. Resting for a few minutes, they heard the rebel captain give orders to mount, and believing they had been discovered and were about to be charged upon, Captain Kennedy charged upon the town at a double-quick, firing two volleys as they ran. The enemy, after firing a few harmless shots, made their way, concealed by houses, out of the opposite side of the town, but not until they had one lieutenant killed and five men wounded.—N. Y. Times, August 18.

—The office of the Democratic Standard at Concord, N. H., was completely relieved of its contents this afternoon by a mob composed of the soldiers of the returned First Regiment and citizens. The Standard published an article reflecting on the soldiers. They demanded retraction, and the Palmers—the editors and proprietors—shook pistols and axes out of the windows and dared the mob, while the city authorities endeavored to quell the disturbance. The Palmers fired four shots, wounding two soldiers. The office was immediately stripped, and the materials burnt in the street. The Palmers took refuge in the attic, but were finally found and carried to the police station, protected by the police, though with great difficulty.—(Doc. 172.)

—Dissatisfaction at the supposed intention of the Government not to receive men in its army who could not speak the English language, and a misconception of a War Department order upon the subject, led to the withdrawal as thus stated:

Department Of State,
Washington, August 8,1861.

To F. A. Alberger, Esq., Mayor of the city of Buffalo, N. Y.:

Dear Sir : I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 5th inst., and to state in reply, that the order to which it refers was officially explained a day or two since by the Secretary of War, but having still been a subject of great misapprehension it has now been entirely rescinded and vacated. Consequently there is no obstacle whatever to the acceptance of the services of volunteers, on the ground of their nationality or language. The contest for the Union is regarded, as it ought to be, a battle of the freemen of the world for the institutions of self-government.

I am very truly yours,

William H. Seward.

—In a communication of this date, in respect to the disposition to be made of contrabands, the Secretary of War informed General Butler that he was to be governed by the act of Congress, 1861, which “declares that if persons held to service shall be employed in hostility to the United States, the right to their services shall be forfeited.”—(Doc. 173.)

—The Massachusetts Fourteenth Regiment, under the command of Colonel Wm. R. Greene, left Fort Warren, Boston Harbor, for the seat of war. The regiment numbers 1,046 members. Their uniform is light brown pants, deep blue jacket, light blue overcoat, and regulation hat. They are armed with the Springfield musket of the pattern of 1842. They have with them twenty-four baggage wagons, four ambulances, two hospital wagons, and 220 horses.

All the field and staff officers of this regiment but two are natives of Massachusetts. Of the whole corps 350 are married men, and 5 widowers with families. It has one “gentleman,” a host of shoemakers and laborers, and samples of every kind of craftsmen and operatives known among us. There are several teachers on the roll, and one “missionary.” There are a great many blacksmiths—more than any other regiment probably will average. The Amesbury section (Co. E) has thirteen disciples of Vulcan on its roll. The farmers are about equal in number to the blacksmiths. There are three artists, one photographer, one physician, only one printer, two students, and a number of hatters and machinists. One-half of the whole regiment is composed of men connected with the boot and shoe business.—N. Y. World, August 9.

—The ” Confederate” Congress in session at Richmond, Va., adopted the following resolution this day:—

Whereas it has been found that the uncertainty of maritime law in time of war has given rise to differences of opinion between neutrals and belligerents, which may occasion serious misunderstandings, and even conflicts;

and whereas the Plenipotentiaries of Great Britain, France, Austria, Prussia, Sardinia, and Russia, at the Congress of Paris of 1856, established a uniform doctrine on this subject, to which they invited the adherence of the nations of the world, which is as follows:

1. That privateering is and remains abolished.

2. That the neutral flag covers the enemy’s goods, with the exception of contraband of war.

3. That neutral goods, with the exception of contraband of war, are not liable to capture under the enemy’s flag, and

4. That blockades, in order to be binding, must be effective; that is to say, maintained by a force sufficient really to prevent access to the coast of the enemy.

And whereas it is desirable that the Confederate States of America shall assume a definite position on so important a point; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Congress of the Confederate States of America accept the second, third, and fourth clauses of the above-cited declaration, and decline to assent to the first clause thereof.

—There was published a letter dated April 15, from Gen. Frost, Missouri Militia, to Gov. Jackson of Missouri, apropos to the President’s proclamation calling out 75,000 volunteers. He advises the Governor to convene the Legislature, proclaim to the people of the Slate that the President’s proclamation is illegal, and especially to take St. Louis, held by United States troops.—(Doc. 174.)


Bellville [Tx] Countryman, August 7, 1861

The Stars and Bars are now floating over our office. For this present we are indebted to Mrs. Jane Railey, of this place. The flag is a neat one, of medium size, and has a star for each Confederate State. We had thought of publishing a speech that might have been delivered by “our devil” on the occasion of raising the flag, but as flag presentations are becoming so common, we forego giving this choice production to the public, and just leave them to infer what our devil should, or ought to have said on the occasion.



Heat still oppressive. M. 92, but a good air. Was on the Ave awhile this morning, soldiers not as plenty there as formerly. They are now kept in their quarters. The “Patrol” “nabs” them anywhere, officers and all, when found without a “pass.” Congress adjourned yesterday. I have spent most of the day at home doing some small jobs, looking over my drawings &c. The Lincoln boys were here again today. My three boys are now fited out in the Zuave uniform.


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.


August 7th.—In the evening I went to Mr. Seward’s, who gave a reception in honour of Prince Napoleon. The Minister’s rooms were crowded and intensely hot. Lord Lyons and most of the diplomatic circle were present. The Prince wore his Order of the Bath, and bore the onslaughts of politicians, male and female, with much good humour. The contrast between the uniforms of the officers of the United States army and navy and those of the French in the Prince’s suit, by no means redounded to the credit of the military tailoring of the Americans. The Prince, to whom I was presented by Mr. Seward, asked me particularly about the roads from Alexandria to Fairfax Courthouse, and from there to Centreville and Manassas. I told him I had not got quite as far as the latter place, at which he laughed. He inquired with much interest about General Beauregard, whether he spoke good French, if he seemed a man of capacity, or was the creation of an accident and of circumstances. He has been to Mount Vernon, and is struck with the air of neglect around the place. Two of his horses dropped dead from the heat on the journey, and the Prince, who was perspiring profusely in the crowded room, asked me whether the climate was not as bad as midsummer in India. His manner was perfectly easy, but he gave no encouragement to bores, nor did he court popularity by unusual affability, and he moved off long before the guests were tired of looking at him. On returning to my rooms a German gentleman named Bing—who went out with the Federal army from Washington, was taken prisoner at Bull’s Run, and carried to Richmond—came to visit me, but his account of what he saw in the dark and mysterious South was not lucid or interesting.


Daily Chronicle & Sentinel [Augusta, GA],
August 7, 1861

A correspondent of the Cincinnati Commercial, writing from Western Virginia, says: “A female spy has been discovered in the first Kentucky regiment. She is from Georgia, and enlisted at Cincinnati. She was detected by writing information in regard to the movements of our troops to the enemy. She is a member of the Knights of the Golden Circle, says she knows the punishment of a spy is death, and is ready for her fate. She is to be sent to Columbus.”


25 Cooper Union, N. Y., August 7th, 1861.

My dear Miss Woolsey: Dr. Blackwell, at our last board meeting, read a very interesting letter from you, giving details about the hospitals. We should be very much obliged if you would be willing to write us a few incidents in regard to hospital supplies. Any little personal anecdote relative to the pleasure caused by the receipt of these delicacies and stores, any message from a wounded soldier, would go farther to interest our country contributors, than any figure-statements of what has been, and is to be, done. . . .

The response made to our appeals is grand, and it is a privilege to know and feel the noble spirit that animates the women of the loyal states. We have contributions not only from our own states, but from Conn., New Jersey, Massachusetts and Michigan. Within the last fortnight our receipts have amounted to over 7000 different articles of clothing and 860 of edibles. . . .

Our letters from the Sanitary Commission say that the hospitals near Washington are now well supplied.


August 7, 1861 – Harper’s Weekly

WE illustrate on page 550 the BURNING OF HAMPTON by the rebels under General Magruder. The correspondent of the Associated Press thus describes the scene:

A few minutes past midnight General Magruder, with about five hundred rebels, some of them belonging in Hampton, entered the town and immediately fired the buildings with torches. The greater part of the five hundred houses were built of wood, and no rain having fallen lately, the strong south wind soon produced a terrible conflagration. There were perhaps twenty white people and double that number of negroes remaining in the town from inability to move, some of whose houses were fired without waking the inmates. They gave Wilson Jones and his wife, both of them aged and infirm, but fifteen minutes to remove a few articles of furniture to the garden. Several of the whites and also of the negroes were hurried away to be pressed into the rebel service. Mr. Scofield, a merchant, took refuge in a swamp above the town. Two negroes were drowned while attempting to cross the creek. A company of rebels attempted to force the passage of the bridge, but were repulsed with a loss of three killed and six wounded.

The fire raged all night. The greater part of the rebels withdrew toward morning, and at noon to-day, when I visited the place, but seven or eight buildings were left standing.

The glare of the conflagration was so brilliant that I was enabled to write by it. A more sublime and awful spectacle has never yet been witnessed. The high south wind prevailing at the time fanned the flames into a lurid blaze, and lighted up the country for miles and miles around. The fire broke out between eleven and twelve o’clock P.M. on the 7th inst. It appears that a short time previous our pickets from Colonel Max Weber’s Twentieth Regiment were fired upon by a company of rebels, but by dropping on their faces our troops did not sustain any loss. They, however, returned the fire with deadly aim from their trusty rifles, which must have made sad havoc among the enemy. We could see the rebels passing from one house to another, by the glare of the light, and use the incendiary’s torch with effect. Every building in this once beautiful village is destroyed, with the exception of the Military Academy, and that can not possibly be saved.

Our camp was alarmed instanter, and the troops got under arms. An attack from Fox Hill was momentarily expected, and Colonel Weber’s regiment were immediately supplied with extra ammunition, and sent out in all directions as pickets, patrols, and skirmishers. They have done their work bravely and efficiently. Two companies are now here watching for rebels and guarding the bridge from being fired. The bridge will be saved. It is dismantled about a rod from the farther shore, and terminates there in a barricade of boards, behind which a portion of our picket was stationed when fired on by the enemy. Captain Strouple, of the Twentieth Regiment, has just started across to the barricade with six men in the face of the flames and foe. He is anxiously watched from this side, as it is expected that he will be fired upon. The light is as bright as day, and the figures of men are seen reflected in the water. They have reached the barricade in safety.

The rebels have done their work effectually, nothing is now left to mark the once beautiful Hampton but the charred, towering chimneys, looming up in the distance, as monuments of the dastardly work of the rebels.


AUGUST 7TH.—Saw Col. Pendleton to-day, but it was not the first time. I have seen him in the pulpit, and heard him preach good sermons. He is an Episcopal minister. He it was that plowed such destruction through the ranks of the invaders at Manassas. At first the battery did no execution; perceiving this, he sighted the guns himself and fixed the range. Then exclaiming, “Fire, boys! and may God have mercy on their guilty souls!” he beheld the lanes made through the regiments of the enemy. Since then be has been made a colonel, and will some day be a general; for he was a fellow-cadet at West Point with the President and Bishop Polk.

A tremendous excitement! The New York Herald has been received, containing a pretty accurate list of our military forces in the different camps of the Confederate States, with names and grades of the general officers. The Secretary told me that if he had required such a list, a more correct one could not have been furnished him. Who is the traitor? Is he in the Adjutant-General’s office? Many suppose so; and some accuse Gen. Cooper, simply because he is a Northern man by birth. But the same information might be supplied by the Quartermaster’s or Commissary-General’s office; and perhaps by the Ordnance Bureau; for all these must necessarily be in communication with the different organizations in the field. Congress was about to order an investigation; but it is understood the department suggested that the matter could be best searched into by the Executive. For my part, I have no doubt there are many Federal spies in the departments. Too many clerks were imported from Washington. And yet I doubt if any one in a subordinate position, without assistance from higher authority, could have prepared the list published in the Herald


August 7. — John C. Breckinridge was serenaded at a hotel in Baltimore, and in response essayed to address those assembled in the street, but was compelled to desist by the uproar of the crowd, who shouted for the “Union,” “Crittenden,” “Scott,” etc. — Baltimore American, August 9.

— Gen. Magruder, C. S. A., with a force of 7,000 men, including 200 cavalry and eight pieces of artillery, viz., three Parrott guns, four howitzers, and one rifled cannon, took up a position on Back River, three miles from Hampton, Virginia. The intention was to draw out the national forces, attack Camp Hamilton or Newport News if practicable, and at least to destroy Hampton, so as to prevent its use by the U. S. troops for winter-quarters. Gen. Butler at once repaired to Hampton Bridge, where he remained until 11 o’clock P. M. Col. Weber erected a barricade near the Hampton end of the bridge, and placed a strong guard at various points near.

A few minutes past midnight, Gen. Magruder, with about 500 Confederates—some of them belonging in Hampton—entered the town, and immediately fired the buildings with torches. A greater part of the five hundred houses were built of wood, and no rain having fallen lately, the strong south wind soon produced a terrible conflagration. There were perhaps twenty white people and double that number of negroes remaining in the town from inability to move, some of whose houses were fired without waking the inmates. They gave Gary Jones and his wife, both of them aged and infirm, but fifteen minutes to remove a few articles of furniture to the garden. Several of the whites and also of the negroes were hurried away to be pressed into the Confederate service. Mr. Scofleld, a merchant, took refuge in a swamp above the town. Two negroes were drowned while attempting to cross the creek. A company of rebels attempted to force the passage of the bridge, but were repulsed with a loss of three killed and six wounded. They then withdrew. The fire raged all night and entirely destroyed the town.—(Doc. 168.)

—The Ohio Democratic State Convention met at Columbus to-day and nominated H. J. Jewett for Governor and John Scott Harrison for Lieutenant-Governor. A series of resolutions were adopted. The third recommends the legislatures of the States to call a National Convention for settling the present difficulties and restoring and preserving the Union. The sixth resolution condemns the President’s late attempt to suspend the writ of habeas corpus. —National Intelligencer, August 10.

—The United States gun boat Flag arrived at Fort Mifflin, on the Delaware River, this morning with thirty-six rebel prisoners, taken from the rebel war vessel, Petrel, formerly the revenue cutter Aiken, seized at Charleston last winter. The Aiken fired at the St. Lawrence, off Charleston, mistaking her for a merchant vessel, when the St. Lawrence returned a broadside, sinking the rebel. Five of the crew were lost, and the rest rescued and placed on board the Flag.—Philadelphia Press, August 8.

—Isham G. Harris, Governor of Tennessee, appeals to the people of that State “to raise, organize, and thoroughly prepare a reserve force of thirty thousand volunteers.”—(Doc. 169.)


Late addition to Volume 3:


August 7.—In the C. S. Congress, a bill was reported favorably from the Military Committee to increase the military force of the Confederacy to the extent of four hundred thousand men.—Richmond Enquirer, August 9.


August 6.—Warm, beautiful weather. A busy day, settling disputes between citizens and their quarrels. I held a sort of police court. Dr. Joe also decided cases. The parties under arrest, we hear their stories and discharge or put on bread and water as the case seems to require. All local tribunals suppressed or discontinued. We also are full of courier and express duty. Colonel Withers, a Union citizen of the old-fashioned Intelligencer reading sort, called. He is a true patriot. We sent out a courier to meet Colonel Ammen with the Twenty-fourth, preparatory to greeting and escorting him. But he isn’t coming yet. Colonel Scammon is policing and disciplining in a good way. The colonel improves. As soon as taps sounds he has the lights put out and all talk suppressed.

When we came to Weston, Colonel Lytle was here with four companies. The Seventeenth returning home (three-months men) passed through here about the second or third. The Nineteenth about the first. Colonel E. B. Tyler with the Seventh is beyond Sutton. Colonel Bosley with the Sixth is at Beverly.


WESTON, VIRGINIA, Tuesday P. M., August 6, 1861.

DEAR MOTHER:—I have just read your letter, with Brother William’s of the 2nd,—the first I have had from anybody since we came to Virginia. I am sitting in my tent looking out on the same beautiful scene I have so often referred to. It is a bright and very warm afternoon, but a clear, healthful mountain air which it is a happiness to breathe. . . .

My horse shows a little weakness in the fore shoulders, but as he can probably work well in an ambulance, I can exchange him for a good government horse, if he gets worse. We have plenty of business. A good deal of it is a sort of law business. As all civil authority is at an end, it is our duty to keep the peace and do justice between the citizens, who, in these irregular times, are perhaps a little more pugnacious than usual. Dr. Joe and I, under direction of the colonel, held courts on divers cases all the forenoon. It was rather amusing, and I think we dispensed very exact justice. As there is no appeal, a case decided is for good and all.

I am so glad you and Uncle are both getting well. If Uncle wishes to travel, and we remain here, he couldn’t please himself better than by a trip this way. He would enjoy a few days very much in our camp, or at the hotel in the village.

Young Jewett leaves with his father for Zanesville tonight. I hope he will stand the trip well. I will hand them this letter to mail when they get out of these woods. Send me sometime a neat little New Testament. I have nothing of the sort. I have clothes enough. I am cut short by business. Good-bye.






M. at 92. at 10. this morning with but little air stirring. The Lincoln boys were both up here after mine by 9 o’clock, they make themselves quite at home in the house. Packed up my books at the Pat office today, shall try to get out some Patents on my own ac[coun]t. Saw the Comr again, cannot move him yet. He showed me the act current [?] for July, deficit $8000. Walked down to the Camp with Julia, saw the officers, returned about 9 o’clock.


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.


St Louis August 6. 1861

My dear wife & daughters

I have a little more leasure than I ought to have in these times of troubles; but not being here long enough to learn the ropes I can find a little more time to write you. I have been busy writing and telegraphing to get troops forward, as this seems to be the main business of Genl Fremont at present. I see however that both our Keokuk Regiments have gone out to Athens where a fight took place yesterday. I hope Green will now be Satisfied and I trust his army will go to their homes and behave themselves or go off to hunt Claib Jackson.1 We want all the Iowa troops down here and must get the Home guards so well armed and ready that they can take care of the rebels in North Missouri.

The success at Athens2 will help to strengthen the union men at the right time and place. I want to hear the particulars. Hope our men took the cannon from the rebils, but the Telegraph does not say any thing about the matter.

I feel great anxiety about Geni Lyons command. Pillow, Haris, Hardie and McCullough are all according to accounts, pressing the south part of this state and we have very little force to check them with. General Fremont is moving Heaven and Earth to get troops so as to repel them but we are evidently behind the times. A few days of doubt and danger evidently exists in Southern Missouri. Many think this city is to be taken, but I cannot bring myself to the belief that Pillow and Hardie will venture so far North.

There are evidently, however, great numbers of Secessionists in this city, and in the event of Pillows success there may be trouble here.

I shall evidently be here a few days. Have a nice room on 4th Street with little back room for William who busys himself taking care of my clothes &c &c If it were not so very hot I could wish indeed you were here with me, all of you. I see however none of our old friends that I cared most for. The Aristocracy here are very generally secessionists and keep very shy

General Fremont is so busy he can hardly find time to speak even to his Generals but seems very cordial when we do meet.

Keep me well informed of all of yourselves as that is what I most desire to know. The Athens matter will no doubt give occasion to much talk and the Tableau party too that will no doubt be subject of interest. Telegraphed Harry today about troops

Affectionately yours

1. Claiborne Fox Jackson, Governor of Missouri, 1860-1861, was a compromise, pro-slavery, advocate. He was frustrated at the outbreak of war in the seizure of government posts in St. Louis by Lyons and F. P. Blair, Jr.

2. The battle of Athens, listed officially as a skirmish and of which no reports were filed, took place near that town Aug. 5, 1861. Less than 600 Union men were reportedly attacked by between 1400 and 1500 of the opposing forces.


Tuesday.—The North requires 600,000 men to invade us. Truly we are a formidable power! The Herald says it is useless to move with a man less than that. England has made it all up with them, or rather, she will not break with them. Jerome Napoleon is in Washington and not our friend.

Doctor Gibbes is a bird of ill omen. To-day he tells me eight of our men have died at the Charlottesville Hospital. It seems sickness is more redoubtable in an army than the enemy’s guns. There are 1,100 there hors de combat, and typhoid fever is with them. They want money, clothes, and nurses. So, as I am writing, right and left the letters fly, calling for help from the sister societies at home. Good and patriotic women at home are easily stirred to their work.

Mary Hammy has many strings to her bow—a fiancé in the army, and Doctor Berrien in town. To-day she drove out with Major Smith and Colonel Hood. Yesterday, Custis Lee was here. She is a prudent little puss and needs no good advice, if I were one to give it.

Lawrence does all our shopping. All his master’s money has been in his hands until now. I thought it injudicious when gold is at such a premium to leave it lying loose in the tray of a trunk. So I have sewed it up in a belt, which I can wear upon an emergency. The cloth is wadded and my diamonds are there, too. It has strong strings, and can be tied under my hoops about my waist if the worst comes to the worst, as the saying is. Lawrence wears the same bronze mask. No sign of anything he may feel or think of my latest fancy. Only, I know he asks for twice as much money now when he goes to buy things.


August 6th.—Prince Napoleon, anxious to visit the battle-field at Bull Run, has, to Mr. Seward’s discomfiture, applied for passes, and arrangements are being made to escort him as far as the Confederate lines. This is a recognition of the Confederates, as a belligerent power, which is by no means agreeable to the authorities. I drove down to the Senate, where the proceedings were very uninteresting, although Congress was on the eve of adjournment, and returning visited Mr. Seward, Mr. Bates, Mr. Cameron, Mr. Blair, and left cards for Mr. Brekinridge. The old woman who opened the door at the house where the latter lodged said, “Massa Brekinridge pack up all his boxes; I s’pose he not cum back here again.”


August 6, 1862, Daily Times (Leavenworth, Kansas)

War for the Union!
and for
Freedom for All.
1000 Colored Men Wanted
for the
1st K. R. of the Liberating Army.

            All able bodied colored men, between the age of eighteen and forty-five, can now have an opportunity of voluntarily enrolling their names in this regiment.
Ten dollars per month will be paid, good quarters, rations and clothing provided.  Apply at No. 17½ Shawnee street.
Leavenworth,  August 5th, 1862.
Etham Earle,
1st K. R. C. M.


August 6.—All the bills which passed both Houses of the Congress of the United States, were approved by President Lincoln, who yielded a reluctant approval of that for the confiscation of property used for rebellious purposes.— (Doc. 159.)

—The brigs Naiad, Machias, and Ben Dunning, seized by the privateer steamer Sumter, near Cienfuegos, arrived at New York. They were released by order of the Spanish Government, and sailed with others as far as Cape Antonio, under convoy of the U. S. steamer Crusader.—Official advices from the Gulf squadron state that, on the 4th of July off Galveston, the United States steamer South Carolina captured six schooners; on the 5th, two, and ran one ashore; on the 6th, one, and on the 7th, one—making in all eleven sail destroyed or captured. The names of the captured vessels are the Shark, Venus, Ann Ryan, McCaulfield, Louisa, Dart, Covalia, Falcon, George Baker, and Sam. Houston. A portion of them had cargoes, chiefly of lumber. Among other things captured were 13 mail bags, and 31 bags containing express matter. — N. Y. Times, August 7.

— Queen Victoria, in her speech to the British Parliament this day, said: — “The dissensions which arose some months ago in the United States of North America, have unfortunately assumed the character of open war. Her Majesty, deeply lamenting this calamitous result, has determined, in common with the other powers of Europe, to preserve a strict neutrality between the contending parties. — London News, August 7.

— There was great excitement in the House of Representatives at Washington this morning. The near approach of the hour of adjourning, and the busy and exciting scenes which always attend the adjournment, attracted quite a crowd of ladies and gentlemen to the galleries. The Senate went into executive session at an early hour, and thus sent their spectators into the galleries of the House of Representatives. Within a few minutes of the hour of adjournment, a most exciting scene took place in the House. A lull had occurred in the business, when Mr. Wickliffe, of Kentucky, arose and stated to the House that the elections in his State had gone largely for the Constitution, and that the people of Kentucky had declared that their State, among the first in the Union, should be among the last in the Union. The announcement created a scene of indescribable enthusiasm. Cheer after cheer arose from the floor and galleries, and the Speaker, unable to control the assembly, yielded to the general enthusiasm of the moment. — Phila. Press, August 7.


London, August 5, 1861 We received yesterday the news of our defeat at Bull’s Run, and today your letter and John’s with some papers have arrived. Though I do not see that this check necessarily involves all the serious consequences that you draw from it, I am still sufficiently impressed by it to decide me to take a step that I have for some time thought of. If you and John are detained from taking part in the war, the same rule does not apply to me. I am free to act as I please, and from the taste I have had of London life, I see no reason for my sacrificing four years to it. . . .

I wish you, then, on the receipt of this to go to some one in authority and get a commission for me, if you can; no matter what, second, third Lieutenant or Ensign, if you can do no better. They ought to be willing to let me have as much as that. If you can induce the Governor to promise this, see if you can find some fellow I know for a Captain. They say Horace Sargent is going home immediately to raise a regiment. I would serve under him and perhaps other Boston fellows would be mustered under him so as to make it pleasant. If you decide ultimately to go in as Captain, I could serve under you. At any rate I wish to have a commission, and if you succeed in arranging it, let me know at once, by telegraph, if you can. I can be on the way home in three weeks from this time, almost. A day’s notice is ample for me here, and as I know nothing of war or drill and don’t care to learn a drill here that I might have to unlearn, it will be necessary for me to begin at once. I don’t know that I should n’t start tomorrow and march in on you with this letter, if it were n’t that I don’t like to be precipitate, and that I want to watch things here for a while. I presume there will be restlessness here, though I still believe that England will prove herself more our friend than we suppose. . . .

I wish you to understand that I am in earnest and that if you can get me the place and don’t, I shall try to get it by other means. As for reasons for it, your own arguments apply with double force to me. Until now I have thought it my duty to do what I have done. But as the reasons why I should stay decrease, the reasons for going into the army increase, and this last battle turns the scale. It makes no difference whether you go or not. I am the youngest and the most independent of all others, and I claim the right to go as younger son, if on no other grounds.

You need not apprehend difficulty on this side. . . . If [your reply] is favorable I shall leave here in the first steamer, and the first positive knowledge they will have of it here, will be simultaneous with my departure. Papa will not interfere. He never does, in cases where his sons choose to act on their own responsibility, whatever he may think. Mamma has been preaching the doctrine too long to complain if it hits her at last.

We are going on as usual here except that we have got into our new house which is a great improvement. I have two large rooms on the third story which I have been making comfortable. Braggiotti is here; dines with us tomorrow.


Aug. 5th, 1861.

My dear Mother:

Living now quietly without excitement, the events of two weeks ago have become like a dream. Our camp is beautifully situated on Meridian Hill in the suburbs of Washington, and overlooks an enchanting prospect of the city, and the green banks of the Potomac. The air is fresh and healthy, and sickness which has been very prevalent among the men, is now breaking up, and a better appearance is beginning to be seen in the camp. Still the shock we received in the last battle was very great. I have written how great our loss was, and that the same was most heavy among our officers. Fifteen of them, six Captains and nine Lieutenants, nearly half of the entire number, were lost to us that day. On our return to Fort Corcoran after the battle, having walked over thirty miles from the battlefield, having been thirty-six hours without food or sleep, consequently exhausted from fatigue, hunger, and want of rest, we hoped to be allowed to throw ourselves anywhere, and to get a mouthful of anything to eat. The rain poured in torrents and we were soaked to our skins. There was not a cracker to be had at the quarters; there was not a tent to shelter us. We crawled into an old barn. Sherman, the commander of our brigade, ordered us to come out and stand in the rain. Many of the men were desperate. They became clamorous for food. Sherman sneered at them for such unsoldierly conduct. They begged for some place to rest. He bade them sleep on the ground. They had no blankets, many not even a jacket, and all were shivering in the wet. The soil was oozy with water, and deep puddles lay everywhere. The men became querulous. Sherman grew angry, called them a pack of New York loafers and thieves.

Oh ye Patriots, was not this a spectacle! Afterward Sherman visited the camp with President Lincoln. The men had grown sullen. As he drove by, they besieged his carriage, hooted him, and reminded him who it was that first basely deserted us on the battlefield, turning his horse’s head from us, and leaving us to our fate.

President Lincoln ordered his coachman to drive away.

Affairs were now interesting. Lieut.-Col. Elliott visited the Secretary of War — denounced the conduct of Sherman in the plainest language. Everything served to corroborate his testimony. The Secretary of War then removed us to our present encampment, and placed us in the Brigade of Gen’l Mansfield. We are now doing well, but the past is not forgotten. The men feel that they were wronged, and are discontented; officers feel that they were insulted, and have resigned. Those of us who remain by the Regiment are a mere handful. Under these circumstances, and because the men fought well at Manassas, the Government has concluded to send us to some one of the forts near New-York for a short time, there to recruit, and restore the organization of the Regiment. As it is now, whole companies are without officers. It is thought in a short time we may again be upon a war footing, and ready to win fresh laurels, only laurels that are worn after victory, not the mournful ones that even the defeated may wear after a manful struggle.

I am very much entertained and amused to hear of your accounts of my heroic deeds. You don’t know the half of them. I won’t pretend to say how many I killed in the fight. About five hundred, I suppose — most of them Colonels, only a few ranking less than a Major. You say you read in the Tribune the statement of the bearing away the body of our good Colonel, made by Lieut. S. R. Elliott, a reliable witness. Yes, my dear Mother, I was one of the little band mentioned in the paragraph, but regarding that dreadful bomb-shell which, exploding, killed five of us, I can only say that I didn’t see it. The story originated with the correspondent of the Tribune, who called one night in a beastly state of intoxication, upon Colonel Elliott to inquire the particulars of the fight. We were all somewhat astonished at the particulars as they appeared the next day in the papers. You may have read, too, how a certain Captain _____ repeatedly rallied us, and led us back to the fight. Captain _____ was not near the field of battle the whole day, but, being a small politician, he stayed at home and composed an account of his gallantry, in which perhaps there was much wisdom. You see, Mother, what reports are worth, and I positively deny all stories regarding myself, with the exception, of course, of such authentic anecdotes as my having killed several hundred Colonels, Lieut.-Colonels and Majors with a ram-rod, which served me as the jaw-bone did Sampson when he went out against the Philistines.

Your letters reach me now with the utmost regularity. Thank Lilly for her kind letter too. I have been looking for Hunt all day to-day. I suppose I shall see you when we are transferred, perhaps to Fort Schuyler.

I was sorry not to see Mrs. Tyler when here.

Very Affec’y.,

William T. Lusk,

Lieutenant Co. K. 79th Regiment.



Weather continues extremely hot. M. at 92 in the middle of the day. Surgeon Barnes took breakfast with us. He is attending the Lowry boy who fell (our neighbor). The boy is doing extremely well. I was at the Pat office awhile today, saw and talked with the Comr. He thinks he made a mistake in removing me but cannot retract just yet on account of others. Spent the evening at the quarters of Capt Adams, “Camp Anderson.”


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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