WESTON, August 1, 1861.

DEAREST:—Do you remember a year ago today we were riding on the Grand Trunk Railroad from Detroit by Sarnia eastwardly? Jolly times those. If you were here, these would be as pleasant. The water in the river below our camp flows past you in the Ohio; in these low water days, about a month after they leave here.

We are now in telegraphic communication with the world. Dr. Joe receives dispatches about medicines and Colonel Scammon about military matters from Columbus and Cincinnati. We had the two county court clerks before the colonel taking the oath of allegiance to the United States and to the new Government of Virginia. They squirmed a little, but were required to do it or go to Camp Chase.

Colonel Matthews left this noon with five companies—right wing—for Sutton, a place forty-four miles south of this place. We suspect that Wise has left western Virginia. If so, our campaigning here is likely to be pacific and uninteresting.

August 2.—I have been out to report myself at reveille, and not feeling like resuming my nap, am seated on my trunk jotting down these lines to my darling. Colonel Jewett arrived last night from Zanesville. He finds his boy doing well. It is still very uncertain what is to be the result. It is probable that no amputation will be necessary, and there is hope that he may not be more than very slightly crippled, He will be unable to use his foot, however, for perhaps months.

Our news is that Wise has continued his retreat burning the bridges after him. This confirms our suspicions as to his abandoning all west of the mountains. There is, however, a report from the East that General Lee is to be sent out here to look after General Rosecrans, with a considerable force. I do not believe it, but if so, we shall have lively times. Colonel Ammen with the Twenty-fourth is reported in our neighborhood. We shall be glad to be with them again.

Puds, here it is Saturday, the 3d, and my foolishness isn’t off yet and won’t be until Monday. It is so hot and pleasant. I am so lazy and good-natured. Joe says, “I wish Webb was here”; I say, I wish you were all here. We may be ordered to move any hour, and it may be [we] shall be here a week hence. We have got our camp into good order—clean and pretty. Joe was pretty sick last night, but is under a nice shade today, as lazy and comfortable as possible. The effect is curious of this fine mountain air. Everybody complains of heat, but everybody is in a laughing humor. No grumbling reaches me today.

I have called on divers leading lawyers and politicians, generally Union men, and find them agreeable people. The courthouse here is a good one and is used as a hospital for all these regiments. About one hundred sick are there. When Joe gets perfectly well, which I advise him not to do, he will have charge of all of them. We have four or six there.

Very affectionately, your


“Love me?” I have heard nothing from Ohio except an occasional newspaper. Write about Uncle and everybody. Our men sing beautifully tonight.




August 2, 1861.—A. M. fired pistol with Captain Zimmerman and P. M. Enfield rifle with Captain Sperry. My pistol shooting rather poor. Rifle shooting at one hundred yards good, at three hundred yards, tolerable. Weather hot. In the evening passed the sentinels to try them, back and forth several times. Found them generally defective; they took instruction kindly and I hope they may do well yet.



The weather is hot now adays, the M. ranging about 90. I have been at the office part of the day writing letters &c at my old table. Doct King has been packing up his books. I have been cleaning out my drawers and throwing away unimportant papers and letters. Chas heard from Fort Leavinworth today. He wrote to one of the officers enquiring for Frank. He is with Genl Lyons Command near Springfield M.O. Wa[l]ked with wife up to Col Smalls camp, called on our return upon Mr & Miss Reynolds.


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.


Cairo, August 2, 1861.

Hot! You don’t know what that word means. I feel that I have always been ignorant of its true meaning till this week, but am posted now, sure. The (supposed-to-be) “never failing cool, delicious breeze” that I have talked about so much, seems to be at “parade rest” now and—I can’t do justice to the subject. The health of the camp is much better now than at any time before, since we have been here. There is not a sick man in our company. My health remains gorgeous. We drill now five hours a day, under a sun that cooks eggs in 13 minutes, but we think we feel the heat no more walking than lying around the quarters.

The seceshers this morning took the packet that has been plying between here and Columbus, and have run her off down to Memphis. I thought that Prentiss stopped her sometime since, but this at last closes all communication between the North and South at this point. Our “ossifers” we think are really scared about an attack here, but you could not make the soldiers believe in the like till they see the fight begin. About a thousand of our men were rushed off to Bird’s Point to-day to work on intrenchments, and won’t they sweat?

My chum heard Colonel Oglesby tell an officer two hours ago that there were 17,000 Rebels within 15 miles of the Point. The scouts reported this body at New Madrid, 40 mile’s down the Mississippi, two days since. Yesterday 12 men from the Pekin company and 12 from our’s with some artillerymen went 30 miles up the Mississippi to collect all the boats we could find on the Missouri shore. We found three large flats tied up to trees along the shore which we confiscated. One of them wasn’t very good so we sunk it. The object was to prevent marauders from visiting Illinois. I had charge of the men from our company.


August 2nd.—Mr. Olmsted visited me, in company with a young gentleman named Ritchie, son-in-law of James Wadsworth, who has been serving as honorary aide-de-camp on M’Dowell’s staff, but is now called to higher functions. They dined at my lodgings, and we talked over Bull Bun again. Mr. Ritchie did not leave Centreville till late in the evening, and slept at Fairfax Court House, where he remained till 8.30 a.m. on the morning of July 22nd, Wadsworth not stirring for two hours later. He said the panic was “horrible, disgusting, sickening,” and spoke in the harshest terms of the officers, to whom he applied a variety of epithets. Prince Napoleon has arrived.


August 2d.—Prince Jerome¹ has gone to Washington. Now the Yankees so far are as little trained as we are; raw troops are they as yet. Suppose France takes the other side and we have to meet disciplined and armed men, soldiers who understand war, Frenchmen, with all the élan we boast of.

Ransom Calhoun, Willie Preston, and Doctor Nott’s boys are here. These foolish, rash, hare-brained Southern lads have been within an ace of a fight with a Maryland company for their camping grounds. It is much too Irish to be so ready to fight anybody, friend or foe. Men are thrilling with fiery ardor. The red-hot Southern martial spirit is in the air. These young men, however, were all educated abroad. And it is French or German ideas that they are filled with. The Marylanders were as rash and reckless as the others, and had their coat-tails ready for anybody to tread on, Donnybrook Fair fashion. One would think there were Yankees enough and to spare for any killing to be done. It began about picketing their horses. But these quarrelsome young soldiers have lovely manners. They are so sweet-tempered when seen here among us at the Arlington.


¹ Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte, a grandson of Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother Jerome and of Elizabeth Patterson of Baltimore. He was a graduate of West Point, but had entered the French Army, where he saw service in the Crimea, Algiers, and Italy, taking part in the battle of Balaklava, the siege of Sebastopol, and the battle of Solferino. He died in Massachusetts in 1893.


August 2.—Up to this date Indiana has equipped and sent into the field thirteen regiments of infantry and two companies of cavalry. Two additional regiments of infantry are now ready to march, and an entire regiment of cavalry will be ready in a short time. Seventeen additional regiments of infantry are now forming, and will be put into the service as speedily as possible. This will make thirty-three regiments raised and to bb raised in Indiana—a force of about 86,000 men, including three artillery companies now about ready for active service. This is over 3,000 men for each Congressional District, or about every fortieth person in the State.—Indianapolis Journal, August 3.

—The United States steamer Albatross, Captain Prentiss, arrived at Philadelphia, Pa., from Hampton Roads, having in charge the schooner Enchantress, which was captured July 6th, 260 miles southeast of Sandy Hook, by the privateer Jeff. Davis, and on attempting to take her into the port of Charleston, S. C., on the 22d of July, was re-captured with five men of the privateer’s crew on board, west of Cape Hatteras. The Enchantress cleared from Boston on the 29th of June, for ports in Cuba. All the crew except Garrick (negro cook) were removed to the Jeff. Davis, and a crew from the privateer, consisting of W. W. Smith, of Savannah, Ga.; Ebin Lane, of West Cambridge, Mass.; Thomas Qnigley, of New York; Daniel Mailings, of Charleston, S. C.; and E. Rochford, of Liverpool—put on board to take her to Charleston, the negro Garrick being retained as cook. After the schooner had left the Jeff. Davis, Garrick meditated getting possession of the Enchantress, but delayed the execution of his plan, so as to sound the views of a portion of the crew. Before coming to any definite conclusion the steamer Albatross hove in sight, and as soon as the crew on board the Enchantress discovered the character of the steamer they “fought shy.” When the Albatross approached and the Enchantress was hailed, a reply came that “the schooner was from Newburyport, and bound to Santa Cruz.” Just at that moment the negro Garrick appeared on the gunwale of the schooner and jumped overboard, at the same time crying out, “For God’s sake, save me, Captain; she’s a Secesher, bound to Charleston.” A boat was immediately lowered from the Albatross, and, after picking up the negro, boarded the schooner. On examining her papers they were found to be the same that had been issued in Boston, and the crew had agreed to represent themselves as the original crew of the Enchantress, but the officers of the Albatross having seen the account of her capture in the papers, and also having the story of the negro to confute their statements, they were placed on board the Albatross and ironed, in which condition they were brought into port and turned over to the United States authorities. The Enchantress has a cargo of first, class assorted goods, suitable for the army.— Philadelphia Ledger.

—General Fremont and staff and a fleet of eight steamers, four regiments of infantry, several detached companies of infantry, and two companies of light artillery, arrived at Cairo, Ill., this afternoon. They were enthusiastically received. The troops were landed at Bird’s Point.—Boston Transcript, August 3.

—In the House of Representatives at Washington, a joint resolution was adopted thanking the soldiers of the republic for their loyalty and devotion, and declaring that while the National Legislature expresses the sympathy of the nation for the bereaved families and friends of the fallen, they commend to a generous people and to the army, which is now eager to renew the contest with unyielding courage, the imperishable honor of their example.

—General Lyon, with all the infantry, cavalry, and artillery of his command, came up with part of the rebel force under McCullough at Dug Spring, nineteen miles south-west of Springfield, Missouri; at 4 P. M., Lyon opened upon the enemy with artillery, and elicited but feeble response. A detachment of his cavalry, twenty-seven in number, came suddenly upon a regiment of rebel infantry, charged and broke it, and returned safely to their position. The artillery fire continued till night, when the enemy withdrew. The national infantry was not engaged. Forty rebels were found dead upon the field and forty-four wounded. Lyon’s loss was nine killed and thirty wounded.—(Doc. 154.)

—The Congress of the United States passed the Tariff and Direct Tax Bill, providing for a direct tax of twenty millions of dollars.—N. Y. Herald, August 3.

—Four companies of the Second Ohio Volunteers arrived at Cincinnati this morning from Washington. The reception was the grandest demonstration ever witnessed in Cincinnati. The Home Guards of Covington and Newport, Ky., and the reserve militia and independent regiments of Cincinnati, were out in large force, and escorted the volunteers through some of the principal streets to the Eighth-street Park, where they were welcomed home by Judge Storer in an eloquent address. They afterward partook of a banquet in the Park, provided by the citizens. All along the line of march the streets were densely crowded, and the enthusiasm unbounded. The volunteers were completely covered with the bouquets and wreaths showered upon them. The city was gaily decorated with flags, and business was entirely suspended.—N. Y. Tribune, Aug. 8.

—General B. F. Butler, at Fortress Monroe, Va., issued a general order forbidding the sale of intoxicating liquors to the soldiers in his department.—(Doc. 155.)

—The Fifth Regiment of New York Militia, under the command of Colonel Schwarzwaelder, returned home this morning, and were escorted to their head-quarters by the Eleventh Regiment, the Fourth Artillery, and several German societies.—The service on which the Fifth has been employed was guard, picket, and scout duty, at the Relay House, Md. Their vigilance frequently prevented serious results to the body of troops stationed at that post. The railroad was also an object of the special vigilance of the Fifth, and the prevention of attempts to place obstacles on the track, was one way in which their services were valuable.—N. Y. Commercial, August 2.

—The Mobile Register of to-day, referring to a despatch to the effect that forty votes were given in Congress to Mr. Cox’s peace proposition, says:—”We know that there is a peace party already numbering among its representatives, nearly one-third of the United States House of Representatives. This is a direct result of the triumph of Manassas. We have converted near one-third of the United States House of Representatives from the error of their warlike ways by the powerful display of our ability to conquer a peace. We first asked peace. It was refused. Now we will conquer it. We have conquered one-third of it already. Another great victory like, or even less than that of Manassas, and we shall conquer another third—the two-thirds including all the commonsense men of the North, who will be brought to conversion: and the outside third, the radical abolition fanatics, will alone remain, the despised minority of their countrymen, who will role them out of voice in the Government. Let us wait, and hope, and—fight, as if we had still three-thirds to conquer.”

—The following, in large letters on a handbill, was conspicuously posted at several places in New York city this morning. Crowds of people were attracted to read it:

“The people awake! Enemies at home wearing the mask of peace (masks of the golden cross) as well as open foes, must be struck down. Be not deceived! The freedom of the press is subordinate to the interests of a nation. Let the three Southern organs issued in this city beware, or editors will be assigned to them to preserve the public welfare. From this date the authority of the people organizes a new system of legislation suited to the times. Politicians will not be permitted to injure the general cause in pursuit of ambitious ends. The rights of our soldiers will be protected. Disappointed demagogues will be forbidden to aggrandize themselves at their expense. The District-Attorney is expected to exercise his power. Traitors, male and female, are marked. Their names enrolled. Not one shall escape. Southern sympathizers are directed to leave the state. One will! One way! One country! We have begun to act. From the league of loyalty,

The People.


—The House of Representatives, at Washington, to-day recommitted the Confiscation bill. Mr. Crittenden made a speech upon it, protesting on constitutional grounds, and for reasons of policy, against the confiscation and consequent emancipation of slaves. He, however, pronounced boldly for the war, for the Union, sustaining the President, and, in the name of the great interests at stake, demanding that the utmost aid be given him.—N. Y. Tribune, August 8.

—The Twentieth Regiment, Ulster Guard, N. Y. S. M., Colonel G. W. Pratt, returned to Rondout this morning, their term of service having expired. They were received at the landing by the military, firemen, and a very large number of citizens of Rondont and Kingston. The regiment was mustered out of the service soon after the arrival.—N. Y. Evening Post, August 3.


Day after day, till the month was over and August had come, I passed in a state of powder and julep, which the Virginian doctor declared saved my life. The first time I stirred out the change which had taken place in the streets was at once apparent: no drunken rabblement of armed men, no begging soldiers—instead of these were patrols in the streets, guards at the corners, and a rigid system of passes. The North begin to perceive their magnificent armies are mythical, but knowing they have the elements of making one, they are setting about the manufacture. Numbers of tapsters and serving men, and canaille from the cities, who now disgrace swords and shoulder-straps, are to be dismissed. Round the corner, with a kind of staff at his heels and an escort, comes Major General George B. M’Clellan, the young Napoleon (of Western Virginia), the conqueror of Garnet, the captor of Peagrim, the commander-in-chief, under the President, of the army of the United States. He is a very squarely-built, thick-throated, broad-chested man, under the middle height, with slightly bowed legs, a tendency to embonpoint, His head, covered with a closely cut crop of dark auburn hair, is well set on his shoulders. His features are regular and prepossessing—the brow small, contracted, and furrowed; the eyes deep and anxious-looking. A short, thick, reddish moustache conceals his mouth; the rest of his face is clean shaven. He has made his father-in-law, Major Marcy, chief of his staff, and is a good deal influenced by his opinions, which are entitled to some weight, as Major Marcy is a soldier, and has seen frontier wars, and is a great traveller. The task of licking this army into shape is of Herculean magnitude. Every one, however, is willing to do as he bids: the President confides in him, and “Georges” him; the press fawn upon him, the people trust him; he is “the little corporal” of unfought fields—omnis ignotus pro mirifico, here. He looks like a stout little captain of dragoons, but for his American seat and saddle. The latter is adapted to a man who cannot ride: if a squadron so mounted were to attempt a fence or ditch half of them would be ruptured or spilled. The seat is a marvel to any European. But M’Clellan is nevertheless “the man on horseback” just now, and the Americans must ride in his saddle, or in anything he likes.

In the evening of my first day’s release from juleps the President held a reception or levee, and I went to the White House about nine o’clock, when the rooms were at their fullest. The company were arriving on foot, or crammed in hackney coaches, and did not affect any neatness of attire or evening dress. The doors were open: any one could walk in who chose. Private soldiers, in hodden grey and hob-nailed shoes, stood timorously chewing on the threshold of the state apartments, alarmed at the lights and gilding, or, haply, by the marabout feathers and finery of a few ladies who were in ball costume, till, assured by fellow-citizens there was nothing to fear, they plunged into the dreadful revelry. Faces familiar to me in the magazines of the town were visible in the crowd which filled the reception-rooms and the ballroom, in a small room off which a military band was stationed.

The President, in a suit of black, stood near the door of one of the rooms near the hall, and shook hands with every one of the crowd, who was then “passed” on by his secretary, if the President didn’t wish to speak to him. Mr. Lincoln has recovered his spirits, and seemed in good humour. Mrs. Lincoln, who did the honours in another room, surrounded by a few ladies, did not appear to be quite so contented. All the ministers are present except Mr. Seward, who has gone to his own state to ascertain the frame of mind of the people, and to judge for himself of the sentiments they entertain respecting the war. After walking up and down the hot and crowded rooms for an hour, and seeing and speaking to all the celebrities, I withdrew. Colonel Richardson in his official report states Colonel Miles lost the battle of Bull Run by being drunk and disorderly at a critical moment. Colonel Miles, who commanded a division of three brigades, writes to say he was not in any such state, and has demanded a court of inquiry. In a Philadelphia paper it is stated M’Dowell was helplessly drunk during the action, and sat up all the night before drinking, smoking, and playing cards. M’Dowell never drinks, and never has drunk, wine, spirits, malt, tea, or coffee, or smoked or used tobacco in any form, nor does he play cards; and that remark does not apply to many other Federal officers.

Drunkenness is only too common among the American volunteers, and General Butler has put it officially in orders, that “the use of intoxicating liquors prevails to an alarming extent among the officers of his command,” and has ordered the seizure of their grog, which will only be allowed on medical certificate. He announces, too, that he will not use wine or spirits, or give any to his friends, or allow any in his own quarters in future—a quaint, vigorous creature, this Massachusetts lawyer.

The outcry against Patterson has not yet subsided, though he states that, out of twenty-three regiments composing his force, nineteen refused to stay an hour over their time, which would have been up in a week, so that he would have been left in an enemy’s country with four regiments. He wisely led his patriot band back, and let them disband themselves in their own borders. Verily, these are not the men to conquer the South.

Fresh volunteers are pouring in by tens of thousands to take their places from all parts of the Union, and in three days after the battle, 80,000 men were accepted. Strange people! The regiments which have returned to New York after disgraceful conduct at Bull Run, with the stigmata of cowardice impressed by their commanding officers on the colours and souls of their corps, are actually welcomed with the utmost enthusiasm, and receive popular ovations! It becomes obvious every day that M’Clellan does not intend to advance till he has got some semblance of an army: that will be a long time to come; but he can get a good deal of fighting out of them in a few months. Meantime the whole of the Northern states are waiting anxiously for the advance which is to take place at once, according to promises from New York. As Washington is the principal scene of interest, the South being tabooed to me, I have resolved to stay here till the army is fit to move, making little excursions to points of interest. The details in my diary are not very interesting, and I shall make but brief extracts.



My lameness is much better today. I have been down to the office where I remained most of the day writing &c. I think it quite possible that they will find it necessary to restore me to my Desk as Doct King was removed yesterday, among others. I was down to the Camp this evening with wife & Julia. The officers were very sociable, the Lieut Col a little drunk as usual. Wife & Chaplin Buck went to church.


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 1.—This whole neighbourhood is busy to-day, loading a wagon with comforts for the hospital at Fairfax Court-House. They send it down once a week, under the care of a gentleman, who, being too old for the service, does this for the sick and wounded. The hospitals at Centreville and the Court-House are filled with those who are too severely wounded to be taken to Richmond, Charlottesville, and the larger hospitals. They are supplied, to a very great degree, by private contributions. It is beautiful to see the self-denying efforts of these patriotic people. Everybody sends contributions on the appointed day to Millwood, where the wagon is filled to overflowing with garments, brandy, wine, nice bread, biscuit, sponge cake, butter, fresh vegetables, fruit, etc. Being thoroughly packed, it goes off for a journey of fifty miles.

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August 1, [1861].—Another hot, moist day; deep fogs in the night. Two gentlemen, suspected of secession proclivities, clerks of the courts, were required to take the oath of allegiance to the new State Government of Virginia and to the United States.

They say it is not always so rainy here; they lay it to the presence of our troops.

Colonel Matthews left with the five right-wing companies for Bulltown and Sutton at 1 P. M. today. I felt a little melancholy to see the fine fellows leaving us.

A year ago today was with Lucy travelling from Detroit on the Grand Trunk Railroad eastwardly for pleasure. A telegraph line is completed to this point connecting us with all the world.

Governor Wise, it is said, has continued his retreat up the Kanawha towards eastern Virginia. It is said that he has left Gauley River and burnt the bridge. If so western Virginia is now in our undisputed possession. But it is also said that General Lee is coming with a large force to look after General Rosecrans. I suspect that all the movements of the Southern army look to operations about Washington and Baltimore, and that all movements of troops in other directions are merely feints.


Meridian Hill, Washington,

Aug. 1st, 1861.

Dear Cousin Lou:

I am seated in my tent, the rain is pouring in torrents, and I am at leisure to think of friends at home. You see whom I was first remembering, not having forgotten the kind letter which Mr. Houston brought me from Thompsonville, when I was somewhere over in Virginia. I thank you so much for all the dear, kind expressions of love your letter contained.

Oh! Ah! Here come about twenty-five men or more with complaints, and as the Captain is away, I must straighten up, and play the part of Magistrate. Oh Olympian Jove! Oh Daniel risen to judgment! The malcontents have been severally coaxed, wheedled, threatened, and sent about their business, and the Centurion is once again at leisure. A pleasant thing is this exercise of power, especially when commands can be given in the quietest manner possible, and yet to feel that from your judgment there can be no appeal. In fact, dear Cousin Lou, imagine me when the Captain is away, performing the paternal function towards some hundred grown up children. Ah me! I am growing venerable and cares are weighing heavily upon me.

But I must not forget that I am a veteran soldier now. Poor Horace! How I shall assume superior airs, tell him, when I return home! In fact when,one of these days, I get a furlough and am surrounded by friends, how I shall exercise my soldier’s privilege of drawing the long bow! In my first battle, of course, I performed the most remarkable deeds of daring. I shall not pretend to tell you how many Secessionists I killed! Between ourselves though, in all privacy, I will confess that the fearful weapon with which I struck such terror in the hearts of the enemy, was a toy wooden sword, captured by one of our men from a secession boy-baby. In the great battle of Manassas, holding the occasion to be one of greater moment, I made the charge armed with a ramrod, which I picked up on the way thither! I acknowledge I found the work hotter than I anticipated in the latter engagement, and mean in future to go armed in regulation style. The truth of the matter was, that being ordered suddenly to march from our pleasant encampment in Georgetown, I was found unprepared, and must either stay behind, or trust to my pistol in case of emergency. I preferred the latter, and the kind Providence has brought me safely through the fiery ordeal through which we all had to pass. What think you, dear Cousin Lou ,of our miserable defeat? It seems hard, as we lost many good men out of our Regiment on that bloody day. I saw many things never to be forgotten. No matter for sickening details though. The ground lost must be recovered at any cost. We have lost out of the 800 who went into the engagement about 150 in killed and wounded, besides some fifty more numbered among the missing. Hardship and exposure have caused much sickness in the camp. Most of the liquor-dealing Captains and Lieutenants who commanded before the battle have resigned, many others are dead or in the hands of the enemy —so I can give no very cheerful picture of our camp at present. We are to be soon thoroughly reorganized, to be cared for tenderly by the President and Secretary of War, to be recruited to the army standard, and when once more discipline shall be enforced, we trust that the 79th will be able to charge as gallantly as at Manassas, but that the charge may result not in mere loss of life, but in glorious victory.

You would be much entertained, could you only see behind the scenes, at the daring feats of individuals, which are passing the rounds of the papers. A specimen is afforded by a story I read in the Herald of a certain Captain _____ who is reported to have repeatedly rallied the men of the 79th and led them back to battle. Now the fact is that Captain _____ never was within three days journey of the battle, and moreover, at least ten days before the engagement the Colonel threatened him with arrest should he dare to show himself in the Regiment. Captain _____ wrote the article himself, and had it published. This is only an isolated example of the manner by which this war is made to subserve the dirtiest of politicians. I have had no letter from Horace, and but few from home since I left New-York. I suppose some of the letters addressed to me have been captured by the Secessionists, and have been perused with the same gusto that we felt when a package of the enemy’s letters fell into our hands. Of course we had to read them to glean as far as possible the state of political feeling in the South, and I blush to say we read with special interest the tender epistles which fair South Carolina maidens penned for the eye alone of South Carolina heroes. Think of such sacred pages being polluted by the vulgar gaze of a parcel of peddling Yankees.

We learned some of the peculiarities of the Aborigines down South from these epistles. We learned that the ladies are so modest that they write of themselves with a little i — that all Southern babies send their papas “Howdy” — that a certain perfidious _____ _____ is “cortin the gall” of one of the brave palmetto soldiers who is congratulated by his sister upon having slain 3000 Yankees — that the ladies in the South are thirsting for the blood of the Northern mercenaries, and, above all, penmanship, spelling and composition showed that the greatest need of the South is an army of Northern Schoolmasters. Well, Cousin Lou, I must not write for ever, so good-bye. Love to all in Enfield and in Pelham.

Very affectionately,

Wm. T. Lusk,

Lieut. 10th Co. 79th Regiment, Washington.


Daily Times [Leavenworth, Ks], August 1, 1861

The Capt. McCook who was killed at the battle of Bull’s Run, on Sunday, 21st of July, at the age of eighteen years, was Charles McCook, son of Judge McCook, now of Illinois. His family have distinguished themselves in the public service. His brother, G. W. McCook, of Ohio, was Lieut. Col. in Col. Curtis’, (now of Iowa,) Ohio regiment of volunteers, and served with distinction during the Mexican war. Two brothers are now Colonels in the Federal service in Virginia, one in Eastern and one in Western Virginia. The deceased was a brother of the Hon. Dan. McCook of this city—Probate Judge of this county, and Capt. of a company now in service in Missouri.

Young McCook died bravely. He had been visiting the hospital, and while crossing a field his troops were assailed by a band of horsemen who demanded a surrender. He refused, when one of the horsemen shot him. The soldier who killed him was immediately shot by one of the comrades of the deceased.


August 1st.—Mrs. Wigfall, with the “Lone Star” flag in her carriage, called for me. We drove to the fair grounds. Mrs. Davis’s landau, with her spanking bays, rolled along in front of us. The fair grounds are as covered with tents, soldiers, etc., as ever. As one regiment moves off to the army, a fresh one from home comes to be mustered in and take its place.

The President, with his aides, dashed by. My husband was riding with him. The President presented the flag to the Texans. Mr. Chesnut came to us for the flag, and bore it aloft to the President. We seemed to come in for part of the glory. We were too far off to hear the speech, but Jeff Davis is very good at that sort of thing, and we were satisfied that it was well done.

Heavens! how that redoubtable Wigfall did rush those poor Texans about! He maneuvered and marched them until I was weary for their sakes. Poor fellows; it was a hot afternoon in August and the thermometer in the nineties. Mr. Davis uncovered to speak. Wigfall replied with his hat on. Is that military?

At the fair grounds to-day, such music, mustering, and marching, such cheering and flying of flags, such firing of guns and all that sort of thing. A gala day it was, with double-distilled Fourth-of-July feeling. In the midst of it all, a messenger eame to tell Mrs. Wigfall that a telegram had been received, saying her children were safe across the lines in Gordonsville. That was something to thank God for, without any doubt.

These two little girls came from somewhere in Connecticut, with Mrs. Wigfall’s sister—the one who gave me my Bogotsky, the only person in the world, except Susan Rutledge who ever seemed to think I had a soul to save. Now suppose Seward had held Louisa and Fanny as hostages for Louis Wigfall’s good behavior; eh?

Excitement number two: that bold brigadier, the Georgia General Toombs, charging about too recklessly, got thrown. His horse dragged him up to the wheels of our carriage. For a moment it was frightful. Down there among the horses’ hoofs was a face turned up toward us, purple with rage. His foot was still in the stirrup, and he had not let go the bridle. The horse was prancing over him, tearing and plunging; everybody was hemming him in, and they seemed so slow and awkward about it. We felt it an eternity, looking down at him, and expecting him to be killed before our very faces. However, he soon got it all straight, and, though awfully tousled and tumbled, dusty, rumpled, and flushed, with redder face and wilder hair than ever, he rode off gallantly, having to our admiration bravely remounted the recalcitrant charger.

Now if I were to pick out the best abused one, where all catch it so bountifully, I should say Mr. Commissary-General Northrop was the most “cussed” and villified man in the Confederacy. He is held accountable for everything that goes wrong in the army. He may not be efficient, but having been a classmate and crony of Jeff Davis at West Point, points the moral and adorns the tale. I hear that alluded to oftenest of his many crimes. They say Beauregard writes that his army is upon the verge of starvation. Here every man, woman, and child is ready to hang to the first lamp-post anybody of whom that army complains. Every Manassas soldier is a hero dear to our patriotic hearts. Put up with any neglect of the heroes of the 21st July—never!

And now they say we did not move on right after the flying foe because we had no provisions, no wagons, no ammunition, etc. Rain, mud, and Northrop. Where were the enemy’s supplies that we bragged so of bagging? Echo answers where? Where there is a will there is a way. We stopped to plunder that rich convoy, and somehow, for a day or so, everybody thought the war was over and stopped to rejoice: so it appeared here. All this was our dinnertable talk to-day. Mr. Mason dined with us and Mr. Barnwell sits by me always. The latter reproved me sharply, but Mr. Mason laughed at “this headlong, unreasonable woman’s harangue and female tactics and their war-ways.” A freshet in the autumn does not compensate for a drought in the spring. Time and tide wait for no man, and there was a tide in our affairs which might have led to Washington, and we did not take it and lost our fortune this round. Things which nobody could deny.

McClellan virtually supersedes the Titan Scott. Physically General Scott is the largest man I ever saw. Mrs. Scott said, “nobody but his wife could ever know how little he was.” And yet they say, old Winfield Scott could have organized an army for them if they had had patience. They would not give him time.


August 1.—This morning the First Maine Regiment, Col. K. J. Jackson, passed through Philadelphia on their way home. Their appearance indicated the hard service which the regiment have had since leaving. They number 780 rank and fife, but intend, on reaching home, to immediately reorganize the regiment, increase the number to one thousand men, and re-enter the service for three years. The soldiers took breakfast at Washington avenue, prepared by the refreshment committee. This regiment passed through Philadelphia about three months ago; they have principally done guard duty on Meridian Hill, and at the Long Bridge, Washington.—Phila. Press, August 2.

—The War Department at Washington received the following direct from Gen. Rosecrans by telegraph, dated to-day:—”Gen. Cox reached Gauley Bridge on the 29th nit. Gen. Wise fled without fighting, destroying the bridge to prevent pursuit. We have captured a thousand muskets and several kegs of cannon powder. Many inhabitants of that section, who have heretofore been strong Secessionists, denounce Gen. Wise for his wanton destruction of property, and are abandoning him and his cause. His Western troops are rapidly disbanding. The valley of the Kanawha is now free from the rebel forces.”—Phila. Inquirer, August 2.

—Jeff. Thompson by proclamation informs the rebels of Missouri, that the North is whipped in Virginia; that “tardy action, like the gentle south wind, will only meet with Northern frosts,” and so invites them to “strike while the iron is hot.”—(Doc. 149.)

—The Twelfth Regiment N. Y. S. M., under the command of Colonel Butterfield, and the Twentieth Regiment, Colonel George W. Pratt, returned to New York from the seat of war. The Eighth Regiment, Mass., reached Boston from the seat of war.—N. Y. Herald, August 2.

—The prize brig Herald, with a cargo of naval stores and tobacco from Beaufort, S. C., bound to Liverpool, and which was captured by the frigate St. Lawrence on the 10th of July, arrived at Philadelphia, Pa. She cleared from Boston, May 27, ostensibly for Turk’s Island, but was then chartered by parties in New York for Beaufort, S. C., with the intent to try the experiment of running the blockade.—N. Y. Evening Post, August 2.

—Scouts returned to Cairo, Ill., from the South, and reported that the rebels at New Madrid were well-armed and drilled. They have five batteries of ten-pound field-pieces, officered by foreigners, and two regiments of cavalry well equipped. General Pillow is in command. He has promised Ex-Governor Jackson to place 20,000 men in Missouri at once. He has also issued a proclamation, full of bombast, to the people of Missouri, declaring his intention “to drive the invaders from the State, and enable her people to regain their rights so ruthlessly taken away by the forces who march under banners inscribed with Beauty and Booty, as the reward of victory.” He says he will show no quarter to those taken in arms.—Phila. Bulletin, August 2.

—New Orleans papers state that a “naval engagement” took place this day at the mouth of the Mississippi River between the U. S. frigate Niagara and “the little Confederate privateer J. O. Nixon;” and that, after an action of twenty minutes, the Niagara crowded on “every inch of canvas she could use, and made regular Manassas-time seaward.”—(Doc. 150.)

—The Onondaga County Cavalry, Capt. Moschell, departed from Syracuse, N. Y., for Washington at 10:20 to-night, to join Col.. Van Alen’s Cavalry Regiment. The company is 80 strong, and is composed of the very best material. A young bride, Mrs. Cook, accompanies them as a daughter of the regiment.—Baltimore American, August 3.

—The Secretary of War at Washington directed the commandant of the forces at Alexandria, Va., that from this day all slaves now in prison at that post be liberated, and that they may be employed on the fortifications and military works, and be paid for as day-laborers in the service of the Government. All other slaves escaping hereafter shall be treated in a similar manner.—Louisville Journal, August 3.

—Governor Gamble of Missouri delivered his inaugural to the Convention of that State. After referring to the personal sacrifices made by him in accepting the office, he calls upon the Convention and the people to give the experiment just made a fair trial. He then gives a vivid sketch of the evils arising from the anarchy with which that State has lately been threatened, assuring them that it will be his sole aim that the people of Missouri can worship God together, each feeling that his fellow-worshipper is not an enemy; that each can meet his neighbor without any conversations on blood and slaughter. The inaugural closes with a strong appeal for the cultivation of confidence and good feeling.—(Doc. 151.)

—The steamer B. P. Cheney was seized by the rebels at Columbus, Kentucky, and carried to the head-quarters of Gen. Pillow.—Louisville Courier, August 10.

—In the Senate of the United States, the bill to suppress insurrection and sedition was taken up, and an exciting debate occurred, in which Mr. Breckinridge and Mr. Baker, of Oregon, took part.—(Doc. 152.)

The St. Louis Democrat of this day gives an account of the preparation and departure of Gen. Fremont’s expedition from St. Louis to Bird’s Point, Cairo, and other positions on the Mississippi River.—(Doc. 153.)


Wednesday, 31st.— Two companies (C and E) of the First Battalion, setting out from Camp Jackson, passed through Gallatin, crossed Cumberland River at Wood’s Ferry, and camped for the night one mile and a half from the river, on the Lebanon road. The other three companies, starting from Nashville, moved by a different route, crossing the Cumberland at Carthage, and uniting with us at Livingston.



Wednesday, P. M., July 31, 1861.

DEAR MOTHER:—How you would enjoy sitting by my side on this beautiful hill and feasting your eyes on the sweep of hills that surrounds us. Nothing in Vermont is finer. The great majority of the people here are friendly and glad to have us here to protect them from the Secessionists. This is agreeable; it puts us in the place of protectors instead of invaders. The weather is warm, but a good breeze is blowing. The water is good; milk and blackberries abundant, and the location perfectly healthy. . . .

The village is a pretty one with many good residences and nice people. The State is, or was, building near where we are encamped a large lunatic asylum—an expensive and elegant structure. The war stops the work. This part of Virginia naturally belongs to the West; they are now in no way connected with eastern Virginia. The only papers reaching here from Richmond come by way of Nashville, Louisville, and Cincinnati. The courthouse and several churches are creditable buildings, and the shrubbery and walks in the private grounds are quite beautiful. Do not allow yourself to worry if you do not hear often. I think of you often. Love to Laura and all.

Affectionately, your son,




[WESTON], July 31, [1861], Wednesday P.M.

DEAREST:—We are to stay here and keep in countenance the Union people for several days—or a week or more—until others come in to take our places. It is safe, which would please Mother; it is pleasant as a camping ground. I wish you were here.

I tell Mr. Schooley to bring me an India-rubber havelock and cape to keep water out of neck—or some such thing; also strong black buttons—a few—and a pair of yellow spurs, regulation style.

Young Jewett sleeps well and is in no great pain—so far doing well. His chance of saving his foot is about even—a sad case. We are to be alone in this locality; possibly we may be divided so as to occupy two or three places. Kisses for the boys.





Bellville [Tx] Countryman, July 31, 1861

The citizens of Port Lavaca, says the Victoria Advocate, have established a foundry for casting cannon, and also procured machinery for the manufacture of small arms. An old nine pounder, long located in Victoria, has been sent down there to be rifled.

The Reagan Guards and Texas Guards, from Anderson county, Texas, arrived in New Orleans on the 8th.



This has been a hot day. M. 92. I have been obliged to keep very quiet on account of my lameness. If I had been a “high liver” I should think it was the gout, but I am very clear of that. I have been in the house nearly all day, but went over to the “Camp” awhile at Major Bartletts quarters. More removals in the patent office today, only three of the old Exmrs left, so we go. G P Androus of NY called this evening. He is on a business visit to the City.


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.


10th Street, July 31.

My dear Eliza: We were quite touched by a note and a message from your farmer Thomson, and I write at once that no time may be lost in carrying out the generous wishes of the people on the place. As soon as they received the particulars of the battle of Bull Run, Thomson took up a subscription among them, for the wounded soldiers, and raised twenty dollars. He took it to Mrs. Wolcott, asking her to put it into the Society’s fund for buying hospital clothing. But she suggested that a more satisfactory way would be to send it to you, to be spent on the spot, in any way you thought best. . . . Thomson preferred this himself, and hopes to hear from you that the twenty dollars are well laid out.


Daily Times [Leavenworth, Ks], July 31, 1861

The Osawattomie Herald gives an interesting reminiscence relating to a field piece, now in possession of Capt. Snyder, of the Third Regiment. During the troubles of ’56, this cannon was at one time, in charge of a guard of six Missourians, at a place near the State line. It was taken from them, at night, by Mr. Stiles, of Shawnee, assisted by three Kansas ladies, viz: Mrs. E. W. Stiles, Miss Virginia King, aged fifteen, and Miss Sophia Knapp, aged thirteen. The old gun which was once used to crush out freedom in Kansas, will now do good service in annihilating the traitors of Missouri.


Five years ago, I created a short video using photographs from the civil war and and mixed it with a couple of medleys of civil war music recorded almost 100 years ago.

Unidentified young soldier in New York Zouave uniform

All of the photographs are from the U.S. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.


Description of photographs:

  • Keedysville, Md., vicinity. Confederate wounded at Smith’s Barn, with Dr. Anson Hurd, 14th Indiana Volunteers, in attendance, September 1862.
  • Unidentified soldier in Confederate uniform and forage cap.
  • Chickahominy River, Va. Grapevine bridge built May 27-28, 1862, by the 5th New Hampshire Infantry under Col. Edward E. Cross.
  • Unidentified young soldier in Union uniform with musket, bayonet, and knapsack.
  • Aquia Creek Landing, Va. Embarkation of 9th Army Corps for Fort Monroe, February 1863.
  • Unidentified soldier in Confederate uniform and slouch hat, missing jacket buttons.
  • Cedar Mountain, Va. A Confederate field hospital, 1862.
  • Unidentified young soldier in New York Zouave uniform.
  • Cumberland Landing, Va. Federal encampment April – May 1862.
  • Unidentified young soldier in Confederate shell jacket, Hardee hat with Mounted Rifles insignia and plume with canteen and cup.
  • Military Bridge across the Chicahominy, June 1862.
  • Unidentified African American soldier in Union uniform in front of painted backdrop showing military camp.
  • Rebel gun in front of Fort Hell, April 1865, a Confederate cannon inside of Fort Sedgwick in Petersburg, Virginia.
  • Unidentified soldier in Confederate uniform.
  • Yorktown, Va. Embarkation for White House Landing, Va.
  • Unidentified young sailor in Union uniform.
  • Antietam Bridge, September, 1862.
  • Unidentified soldier in Confederate shell jacket and slouch hat with object hanging from neck in front of painted backdrop showing waterfall.
  • Confederate prisoners at Fairfax Courthouse, June 1863.
  • Unidentified girl in mourning dress holding framed photograph of her father as a cavalryman with sword and Hardee hat.
  • Hand colored; Tending wounded Union soldiers at Savage’s Station, Virginia, during the Peninsular Campaign, 1862.
  • Two unidentified women reading letters.
  • James River, Va. Sailors on deck of U.S.S. Monitor; cookstove at left, July 9, 1862.
  • Unidentified soldier in Confederate uniform and civilian, likely his father or older brother.
  • Harper’s Ferry, meeting of the Potomac and the Shenandoah, July 1865.
  • Unidentified soldier in Confederate uniform.
  • Libby Prison, Richmond, Va., August 23, 1863.
  • Unidentified African American Union soldier with a rifle and revolver in front of painted backdrop showing weapons and American flag at Benton Barracks, Saint Louis, Missouri.
  • Manassas, Virginia. Camp of General Irvin McDowell’s body guard, hand colored photographic print.
  • Unidentified soldier in uniform with young woman, probably his wife.
  • Secret Service agents, Whitehouse, Va.
  • Unidentified soldier in Confederate uniform of the 11th Virginia regiment with knapsack and bedroll.
  • Dinner time in camp.
  • Unidentified woman wearing mourning brooch and displaying framed image of unidentified soldier.
  • Confederate artillery near Charleston, S.C.
  • Unidentified soldier in Union uniform with Company E, 12th Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers hat.
  • Confederate prisoners at Belle Plain Landing, Va., captured with Johnson’s Division, May 12, 1864.
  • 1863, Interior view of Fort Sumter showing ruins and explosion.
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