Saturday, January 25. — Snow thawing into the deepest mud and slush imaginable. Thawed into water; sky cleared off; a drying wind and a pleasant evening. Examined the eighteen prisoners; generally gave me truthful answers; a queer lot of people.

Yesterday had pictures taken — Avery, Sperry, Adjutant Bottsford, Thomas (our colored man), and Gray, the Scotch veteran orderly, at dinner table and fencing. Great news of a victory at Cumberland Gap. I hope it is true.

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Satturday Jan’y 25/62

Weather more favorable today, a cool fine air, but plenty of mud in the streets. No news worth mentioning. The news papers are dull for want of some new sensation. Got set of chairs, one bedstead, mattress & Rocker today. Cane seats are the best I can afford for my parlor. Went to market and to Adamss for groceries & staid at home the rest of the evening.

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

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Jan. 25. The storm is at last over, for to-day at least. It has cleared off warm and pleasant, and is the first bright day since we came here. Business is brisk to-day; all is bustle and hurry. There is quite a change of scene, the boats’ decks are covered with soldiers, shouting and cheering each other; the bands are all out playing, and altogether it is quite a contrast to the miserable life we have been living. Our attention is taken up watching the operations going on in the harbor, among the shipping. Steamers are being towed across the swash into the sound, and steamers and tugs are at work straining every nerve to pull off the boats that are ashore. It makes fun for the boys watching them pull. Five or six steamers and tugs are at work trying to pull off the Eastern Queen, on which are the 4th Rhode Island boys, and when they all pull together it seems as though they would pull her in two. Sometimes she seems to start a little, and then stick again; the boats will give a steady pull for an hour before she will start again. Occasionally a big cable will break, and it is fun to watch the agility of the boys, dodging the recoil of the cable ends.

The big steamer Northerner attempted to cross the sound at flood tide this morning, and stuck in the middle. She carries the 21st Massachusetts, and I think they will have to be taken off before she can get across. A number of boats and tugs are at work, trying to pull her across. If the Northerner sticks, going across at high water, how we are to cross is a problem yet to be solved, as the New York draws six inches more water than the Northerner.

Sick Horses.

The horses do not appear to stand hardships and privations as well as the men. On short feed, condensed sea water, with no exercise, they grow sick and debilitated. A schooner is lying but a short distance from us, with a deck-load of horses, belonging to a Rhode Island battery, and they are jumping them overboard, and swimming them ashore. It is curious to observe the horses as they are led up to the gangway; to see them brace themselves back and shudder to take the fearful leap. But a little encouragement from half a dozen men in their rear pushing them, over they go, and as they come up out of the water, they shake their heads and snort, and put for the nearest land, where they are rubbed dry, blanketed and led off up the island.

Across the Swash.

The Northerner has crossed into the sound, and anchored. As she got off and moved into the sound, cheer after cheer went up from all the fleet, the bands playing and all having a big time generally.

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January 25. — William H. Seward, Secretary of State, issued an order to the Marshal of the District of Columbia, directing him “not to receive into custody any persons claimed to be held to service or labor within the District, or elsewhere, and not charged with any crime or misdemeanor, unless upon arrest or commitment, pursuant to law, as fugitives from such service or labor:” and “not to retain any such fugitives in custody beyond a period of thirty days from their arrest and commitment, unless by special order of competent civil authority.” The order was to be enforced ten days after its publication, and had no relation to arrests made by military authority.—(Doc. 19.)

—The Twentieth regiment of Kentucky Volunteers, under the command of Colonel Sanders D. Bruce, left Camp Wallace, for the seat of war. —Louisville Journal, January 25.

— The Eighth regiment of New-Hampshire Volunteers, under the command of Colonel Fearing, left Manchester for the seat of war.

— Governor Pierpont declared all the civil offices, on the Eastern shore of Virginia, vacant, and the Commanding General of the Federal forces, stationed on the Peninsula, issued a proclamation requesting the people to elect others.— National Intelligencer, January 25.

—The Wisconsin First Battery, Captain J. F. Foster, and the Wisconsin Third Battery, Captain Drury, arrived at Louisville, Ky. The batteries number three hundred men and twelve guns, and are splendidly equipped. The guns are six pounders, and twelve-pounder howitzers. Some of the members were armed with rifled yagers — saber bayonets.—Louisville Journal, Jan. 27.

—The Petersburgh, Express, of this date, contains the following: “An order, signed by John Withers, Assistant Adjutant General, has issued from the Inspector General’s office, at Richmond, Va. The two hundred and fifty Confederate States troops, ten officers, and two hundred and forty non-commissioned officers and privates, who were captured by the United States troops at Hatteras, N. C, subsequently released from Fort Warren, Boston harbor, and released on parole by General Wool, United States Army, are hereby released from said parole, and will immediately report for duty with their respective companies, General Wool having acknowledged, in exchange, the receipt of a like number of United States prisoners, sent to Fortress Monroe, Va., by the Confederate Government.

—The Fifty-fifth regiment of Illinois volunteers, under the command of Colonel M. M. Baine, arrived at Cairo, Ill., en route for the seat of war. — Cincinnati Gazette, January 27.

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Friday, [January] 24, 1862. — A cold morning, ground frozen; promises to be a fine day. Snowed all the afternoon. A busy day. Had a good confidential talk with Colonel Scammon. He gains by a close and intimate acquaintance.

Alfred Beckley, Jr., left with a pledge to return if he failed to get exchanged for young Henderson, Company H, Twenty-third, the captured scout.

Two women wanted me to compel a neighbor to pay for tobacco and hogs he had stolen from them. One had a husband in the Secesh army and the other in the Union army.

An old man who had been saved by our soldiers because he was a Mason, so he thought, wanted pay for rails, sheep, and hogs; another, for hogs; another would give security for his good behavior, having been discharged, on condition he would do so, from Columbus, Ohio.

Sixteen Rebels captured in Raleigh County by Captain Haven sent in. Thirteen of our men found thirteen of them in a house armed to the teeth. They surrendered without firing a shot!! A mail-carrier caught with letters of the 17th. Many from soldiers of the Twenty-second Virginia to their friends in Boone County.

Dr. Joe in a stew and much laughed at by Dr. Jim and myself because he left his trunk, etc., on the river in a big skiff in charge of a blacksmith he had never seen before.

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Jan. 24. The storm has subsided somewhat, but is still rough enough for all practical purposes. Mr. Mulligan says fair weather has been known here, and taking that as a precedent, we may naturally conclude it perhaps may be again. This is certainly the longest storm I ever remember of, and never read of but one that exceeded it. That was the one Old Noah got caught out in, but he had the advantage of us, as his was the only craft afloat, and had plenty of sea room; besides his style of navigation was ahead of ours, as he let her drift around where she pleased and trusted to luck for a landing. That kind of navigation might have answered for those times, but would never do for Hatteras. And now another trouble has happened, the theatre has collapsed, and I am at a loss to understand the reason for it. It certainly could not have been from any lack of talent, music or patronage. It seemed to be perfect in all its appointments, and I can account for its sudden closing in no other way than that there must have been some little indiscretion on the part of the management; but perhaps, Rasper Brothers may have had something to do about it. I am sorry it has closed, as I could spend an evening up there very pleasantly. But in the loss of the theatre we must console ourselves with the thought that the drama has always had its difficulties.

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London, January 24, 1862

The Trent case has not blown hard enough to carry me away from my post of duty here. But it is not quite calm for all that. The rebel emissaries and their sympathisers are continually at work puffing up grievances and straining out falsehoods, and they find multitudes of not unwilling ears. One day it is the barbarism of savage blockade by filling up harbors; the next, it is the wretched pretence of paper blockade, respected by nobody. All this shows the eagerness to clutch at some pretext for interference. The expedition to Mexico is taking extraordinary proportions just now, which may not be without its significance under possible contingencies. Political matters being a little dull on this side, it would seem as if people would like to take a hand in the quarrel in America. I do not wish harm to any body, but if the Austrians and the Italians should fall to belaboring each other a bit just at this moment, so as to turn the public attention from our continent, I do not know that I should regard it as wholly a misfortune. . . .

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Friday Jan’y 24th 1862

Colder today but still freezes but little. Tonight the wind blows from the north bringing rain and sleet. It is a terrible bad night out, and I cannot but think of the hundreds of poor sentries on duty who have to stand and take it. No particular news today in the City. Genl McClellan is either going to advance soon or intends to make the rebels believe that he is. I am inclined to think that it is his policy to hold Still at present. By so doing he holds the bulk of the rebel force at Mannasses, who are daily geting more and more in a desperate case, and at the same time is giving them hard blows in every direction and cuting off their communications with the West and south. The roads are in such a condition now that a “Movement” is simply impossible.

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

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Friday, Jan. 24, 1862. (On steamboat W., Mississippi River.)—With a changed name I open you once more, my journal. It was a sad time to wed, when one knew not how long the expected conscription would spare the bridegroom. The women-folk knew how to sympathize with a girl expected to prepare for her wedding in three days, in a blockaded city, and about to go far from any base of supplies. They all rallied round me with tokens of love and consideration, and sewed, shopped, mended, and packed, as if sewing soldier clothes. They decked the whole house and the church with flowers. Music breathed, wine sparkled, friends came and went. It seemed a dream, and comes up now and again out of the afternoon sunshine where I sit on deck. The steamboat slowly plows its way through lumps of floating ice,—a novel sight to me,—and I look forward wondering whether the new people I shall meet will be as fierce about the war as those in New Orleans. That past is to be all forgiven and forgotten; I understood thus the kindly acts that sought to brighten the threshold of a new life.

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Note: To protect Mrs. Miller’s job as a teacher in New Orleans, the diary was published anonymously, edited by G. W. Cable, names were changed and initials were often used instead of full names — and even the initials differed from the real person’s initials.
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JANUARY 24TH.-Beauregard has been ordered to the West. I knew the doom was upon him! But he will make his mark even at Columbus, though the place seems to me to be altogether untenable and of no practicable importance, since the enemy may attack both in front and rear. It would seem that some of the jealous functionaries would submit to any misfortune which would destroy Beauregard’s popularity. But these are exceptions: they are few and far between, thank Heaven!

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January 24.—A large meeting was held at the St. Charles’ Hotel, in New Orleans, La., for the purpose of expressing regret at the death of General Zollicoffer. Colonel Andrew Erwin was called to the chair, and Mr. H. L. Goodrich requested to act as Secretary. On motion, the Chairman appointed the following Committee, to draft resolutions: Colonel J. G. Pickett, Major-General Lovell, Brigadier-General Ruggles, Commodore Hollins, W. A. Johnson, A. L. Davis, W. J. Barry, Alexander Fall, D. M. Hildreth, M. Hilcher, and J. C. Goodrich; which reported the following resolutions:

Resolved, That we have received the intelligence of the death of General Felix K. Zollicoffer, with feelings of the profoundest sorrow, and lament his untimely end as an irreparable loss to the cause for which he heroically gave his life. In private life, or in discharging public duties, we always found him an incorruptible patriot. Cool and collected amidst troubles, he was unfaltering in the execution of his purposes. No man, since General Andrew Jackson, enjoyed, so completely, the confidence and undivided esteem of the people of Tennessee.

Resolved, That we mourn his death as a great public loss, which is only relieved by the recollection that he fell fighting bravely at the head of his column, against the invaders of his country.

—The Second Maryland regiment, under the command of Colonel John Sommer, who have been encamped some time at Pikesville, Baltimore county, arrived at Annapolis, about four o’clock yesterday afternoon, in the steamer Columbia, and marched immediately to the Naval School, where they took up their quarters. The regiment presented quite a fine appearance as they marched through the streets, and looked as if they were glad of the prospect of more active duties. — The Forty-seventh Pennsylvania regiment, Colonel T. C. Goode, also arrived about ten o’clock last evening, from Washington, in a special train, and took quarters in the Naval School.

—The Union light-boat, stationed near the Middle Ground, at the mouth of the Chesapeake, went ashore at the Pleasure House beach, near Cape Henry, and, with its crew, consisting of seven men, was captured by the rebels.

—Two rebel vessels, with valuable cargoes of cotton, attempted to run the blockade, off Pass à l’Outre, at the mouth of the Mississippi, this morning, but having got aground, were set on fire, and burned to the water’s edge.

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Jan. 23. Another great storm. The wind is blowing a gale and the sea is dashing, foaming and threatening everything with destruction. The camps on shore are flooded, the soldiers driven into the fort or up the island; more vessels ashore and the fleet going to the devil. A great many of the men are beginning to despond, and in fact the success of the expedition begins to look gloomy enough. Nothing but hardship and disaster has attended us since we left Fortress Monroe, and God only knows when it will end. Almost any other man but Gen. Burnside would be ready to give it up as a failure; but he is everywhere to be seen, looking cheerful and confident, and encouraging his men. He is a man of indomitable energy, perseverance and courage. He knows no such word as fail, and is bound to overcome all obstacles and dangers.

If the general, by the blessing of God, gets the expedition out of this scrape, and is successful where he strikes, it will give him great prestige, and he will be thought competent for any command. Our engine is slowly working, helping the anchor cable, and Mr. Mulligan says if the other boats will stick to their mudhooks and keep clear of us we shall ride it out all safe. I really hope they will for I am tired of these cathead drills. I have always had rather of a desire for a sea voyage, but I am willing to confess that that wish is fully gratified. This being “rocked in the cradle of the deep” sounds all very pretty in song and romance, but the romance is played out with me, and I think the person who wrote the song, “A Life on the Ocean Wave,” must have been a proper subject for a lunatic asylum.

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Thursday 23d 1862

In the office as usual. No rain today and a little cooler, but does not freeze. Geo W Prentice was an hour in our room today, quite sociable. Thinks Schoepf did the fighting at “Somerset” whether he gets the credit of it or not, and I think so too. I must call upon Mis Schoepf tomorrow. A Senatorial Committee visited the rooms of the Land office today, in company with the Comr. I have spent the evening at home. Put a stove in Julias room, fixed a lock for Buds Box, and put a lock on a cupboard door for the better preservation of the barrel of apples. They will undoubtedly keep better under lock and key with three boys about the house. Troops are moveing about in the mud and Expeditions are now on the move in all directions and “Secesh” is getting into a “tight place.” A great deal is expected of the force now in the field the month to come, and I think that a great deal will be done towards quelling this infernal rebellion.

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

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JANUARY 23D.—Again the Northern papers give the most extravagant numbers to our army in Kentucky. Some estimates are as high as 150,000. I know, and Mr. Benjamin knows, that Gen. Johnston has not exceeding 29,000 effective men. And the Secretary knows that Gen. J. has given him timely notice of the inadequacy of his force to hold the position at Bowling Green. The Yankees are well aware of our weakness, but they intend to claim the astounding feat of routing 150,000 men with 100,000! And they suppose that by giving us credit for such a vast army, we shall not deem it necessary to send reinforcements. Well, reinforcements are not sent.

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January 23.—The rebel steamer Calhoun was captured off the Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River. Previous to leaving her the rebels set her on fire, which was with difficulty extinguished.—Philadelphia Ledger.

—A force of one hundred rebel cavalry entered Blandville, Ky., and carried off the books and records of the county. The captain of the band made a speech to the inhabitants, in which he said that the rebel citizens who shall or have suffered from the incursions of a Union army, shall be reimbursed by levies upon Union men.

—Several of the Secessionists of St. Louis, Mo., who were assessed for the benefit of the southwestern fugitives, by order of Major-General Halleck, having failed to pay their assessments, their property has been seized under an execution to satisfy the assessment, with twenty-five per cent additional, according to General Order No. 24.

To-day Samuel Engler, a prominent merchant, and one of these assessed, had a writ of replevin served on the Provost-Marshal, for the property seized from him, whereupon he and his attorney, Nathaniel Cox, were arrested and lodged in the military prison.

General Halleck issued a special order, directing the Provost-Marshal General to send Mr. Engler beyond the lines of the Department of Missouri, and to notify him not to return without permission from the commanding General, under the penalty of being punished according to the laws of war.

General Halleck adds: Martial law having been declared in this city by authority of the President of the United States, all the civil authorities, of whatever name or office, are hereby notified that any attempt on their part to interfere with the execution of any order from these headquarters, or impede, molest, or trouble any officer duly appointed to carry such order into effect, will be regarded as a military offence and punished accordingly.

The Provost-Marshal General will arrest each and every person, of whatever rank or office, who attempts in any way to prevent or interfere with the execution of any order issued from these headquarters. He will call upon the commanding officer of the Department of St Louis for any military assistance he may require.

—The second stone-fleet was sunk in Maffit’s Channel, Charleston, S. C, harbor.

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Wednesday, January 22, 1862. — Cold, threatening rain or snow all day. … In the evening reports from Raleigh. Three of Company K, Thirtieth, and young Henderson, scout Company H, captured by the enemy. Report says no fighting except by Henderson. No other fired a gun. Rumor says they were drunk.

A great bushwhacker captured with three others. In the night bushwhacker taken with pains in his bowels — rolled over the floor, etc., etc., suddenly sprang up, seized two muskets and escaped! This is the official (false!) report. The other prisoners report that the sentinels were asleep, and the bushwhacker merely slipped out, taking two muskets with him.

Report says that three thousand milish of Mercer [County] are on or near Flat Top Mountain twenty miles from Raleigh and thirteen hundred cavalry!!

Three prisoners brought down last night. Captain McVey, a bushwhacking captain, armed with sword and rifle, was approaching a Union citizen’s house to capture him, when [the] Union man, hearing of it, hid behind a log, drew a bead on Secesh as he approached, called out to him to lay down his arms, which Secesh prudently did, and thereupon the victor marched [him] to our camp at Raleigh. Another prisoner, a son of General Beckley, aged about sixteen. Why he was taken I don’t understand. He carried dispatches when the militia was out under his father, but seems intelligent and well-disposed. Disliking to see one so young packed into a crowded guardhouse (thinking of Birch and Webb, too), I took him to my own quarters and shared my bed with him last night. He talked in his sleep incoherently, otherwise a good bedfellow.

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