Charles Francis Adams To His Son

London, June 21,1861

With respect to his [Sumner’s] language about Governor Seward I very much regret it for the sake of the public interest. He is sowing the seeds of discord where we ought to have a more perfect union. He is disseminating distrust in our Government when it depends upon confidence. I am surprised to find how very general the dislike of the Governor is in society here. The English express fear of his intentions towards them and intimate suspicions of his duplicity, whilst among Americans he finds only here and there a defender. In one or two cases I have already traced these impressions to their source in America, and I think I see the channels through which they are conducted. How much harm they may be doing cannot yet be appreciated. But if by means of them we should be plunged into a war solely from misunderstandings of our reciprocal intentions, we might come to conceive an idea of it. I believe that events are gradually working us out of this danger. But I suspect that the mischief has been considerable, and that we shall feel the effect of it in our future relations with this country for a good while to come. So far as I can, I have done my best to counteract it.

 

The general impression here is that there will be no war, and a little apprehension is expressed lest the reunion may be the signal for a common crusade against Great Britain. People do not quite understand Americans or their politics. They think this a hasty quarrel, the mere result of passion, which will be arranged as soon as the cause of it shall pass off. They do not comprehend the connection which slavery has with it, because we do not at once preach emancipation. Hence they go to the other extreme and argue that it is not an element of the struggle. With the commercial men the wish is father to the thought. They look with some uneasiness to the condition of the operatives at Manchester, to the downfall of Southern State stocks, to the falling off of the exports of goods and the drain of specie, to the exclusion from the seaports by the blockade, and to the bad debts of their former customers, for all which their sole panacea is settlement, somehow, no matter how. If it be by a recognition of two governments, that is as good a way as any other. On the other hand I now look to something of a war. We are in it and cannot get out. The slaveholding politicians must go down or there will be no permanent peace. I confess that in this sense I look with some anxiety to the meeting of Congress. I know not who there is now to give a right tone to its proceedings. Possibly some of the new men may come in and contribute to help on the work. Judge Thomas has a reputation as a lawyer, and he has also been a little of a legislator as long ago as when I was with him, but this is a new field. I hope and trust he may do well. . . .

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Camp Lyon, Near the City of St. Joseph1
June 21, 1861.

Messrs. Austin A. King, and others—

Gentlemen: Your note of the 18th has been received, and I embrace the very first leisure moment to reply thereto. In regard to my mission here, I have to say that I am sent here by my Government and your Government to support and sustain the supremacy of the constitution and laws of our common Government, the United States of America. Extraordinary efforts have been made to induce our people to embark in a foolish and wicked assault on the Government and laws that protect them. Men are enrolled, mustered, and in arms against their own country, and therefore against the peace of society, and my orders and purpose are to suppress these unnatural belligerents by military force. So far from disturbing peaceable law abiding citizens, it is my desire to protect and shield them from insult, anarchy and oppression. But those who are in arms or hiding, directing and encouraging “secession” and civil war I regard as enemies of our country, and they will be pursued with all calamities of civilized warfare.

It is difficult to distinguish between those who enrolled under former laws with no view of rebellion and those who are recently enrolled with the avowed purpose of cooperating with secession armies, but I will of course endeavor to guard the innocent men when found associated with rebels if they promptly take oath of allegiance, and immediately and publicly withdraw from such associations. While it is my painful duty to carry forward the aims and emblems of National power against persons we have before regarded as citizens and friends, I will rejoice to see them surrender their arms, return to their allegiance and unite with us in sustaining a flag that our fathers unfurled, our country maintains, and the world continues to respect and honor.

I hope we of this generation may be equal to the occasion and transmit the blessings of liberty to succeeding generations.

Uniting with you in sympathy with those who innocently suffer from the accidents and havoc of war, I am, very truly and respectfully

Your ob’t Servant,
Sam’I R. Curtis
Colonel Commanding


1. Ibid. A Confederate flag had been raised in St. Joseph, a Union flag hauled down and torn to shreds; a railroad bridge was discovered on fire, and the suspected parties arrested, found to be secessionists: two men were arrested and charged with membership in a military drill company marching under the Confederate banner, using swords taken from the government arsenal at Liberty. Missouri. The Secessionist friends in St. Joseph had also secured a hasty Common Council ordinance against the raising of flags in the city, apparently designed to prevent a federal flag from being flown.

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—A correspondent at Washington says: Surprise has been expressed in some quarters at the failure of Gen. Scott to prevent the erection of batteries at various points on the right bank of the Potomac. The impending advance of the Union army toward Richmond, however, will either compel the Rebels to remove their batteries or render them an easy prey to the Union forces. Gen. Scott is simply indisposed to take at a great sacrifice of life what will be had in due time without bloodshed.—Ohio Statesman, June 22.

—The Twenty-ninth Regiment N. Y. S. V., under the command of Colonel Von Steinwehr, and the Seventeenth Regiment, Colonel H. C. Lansing, left New York for Washington. The Twenty-sixth Regiment N. Y. S. V., Colonel Christian, left Elmira, N. Y., for Washington.— (Doc. 27.)

—Two free negroes, belonging to Frederick, Md., who concealed themselves in the cars which conveyed the Rhode Island Regiment to Washington from that city, were returned this morning by command of Colonel Burnside, who supposed them to be slaves. The negros were accompanied by a sergeant of the regiment, who lodged them in gaol.—Baltimore American, June 22.

—The Third and Fourth Regiments of Ohio troops, under the commands of Colonels Morrow and Anderson, left camp Dennison for Virginia—Philadelphia Ledger, June 24.

—The Eastern Tennessee Union Convention, assembled at Greenville, adopted a declaration, of grievances and resolutions, expressing their preference for the Union and Constitution, and ignoring in a most emphatic manner the idea that they had been oppressed by the General Government.—It is the fixed determination of the Federal Government to sustain and protect in their constitutional and legal rights all those citizens of Tennessee who, in their devotion to the Union, are struggling to wrest their State Government from the hands of its unconstitutional rulers, and it will defend all loyal States against parts thereof claiming to have seceded, and thus will afford them every protection “against domestic violence, insurrection, invasion, and rebellion.”—(Doc. 28.)

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“Never did a people enter on a war so utterly destitute of any reason for waging it, or of the means of bringing it to a successful termination against internal enemies.”

June 20th.—When I awoke this morning and, gazing out of my little window on the regiments parading on the level below me, after an arduous struggle to obtain cold water for a bath, sat down to consider what I had seen within the last two months, and to arrive at some general results from the retrospect, I own that after much thought, my mind was reduced to a hazy analysis of the abstract principles of right and wrong, in which it failed to come to any very definite conclusion: the space of a very few miles has completely altered the phases of thought and the forms of language.

I am living among “abolitionists, cut-throats, Lincolnite mercenaries, foreign invaders, assassins, and plundering Dutchmen.” Such, at least, the men of Columbus tell me the garrison at Cairo consists of. Down below me are “rebels, conspirators, robbers, slave breeders, wretches bent upon destroying the most perfect government on the face of the earth, in order to perpetuate an accursed system, by which, however, beings are held in bondage and immortal souls consigned to perdition.”

On the whole, the impression left upon my mind by what I had seen in slave states is unfavourable to the institution of slavery, both as regards its effects on the slave and its influence on the master. But my examination was necessarily superficial and hasty. I have reason to believe that the more deeply the institution is probed, the more clearly will its unsoundness and its radical evils be discerned. The constant appeals made to the physical comforts of the slaves, and their supposed contentment, have little or no effect on any person who acts up to a higher standard of human happiness than that which is applied to swine or the beasts of the fields “See how fat my pigs are.”

The arguments founded on a comparison of the condition of the slave population with the pauperised inhabitants of European states are utterly fallacious, inasmuch as in one point, which is the most important by far, there can be no comparison at all. In effect slavery can only be justified in the abstract on the grounds which slavery advocates decline to take boldly, though they insinuate it now and then, that is, the inferiority of the negro in respect to white men, which removes them from the upper class of human beings and places them in a condition which is as much below the Caucasian standard as the quadrumanous creatures are beneath the negro. Slavery is a curse, with its time of accomplishment not quite at hand—it is a cancer, the ravages of which are covered by fair outward show, and by the apparent health of the sufferer.

The slave states, of course, would not support the Northern for a year if cotton, sugar, and tobacco became suddenly worthless. But, nevertheless, the slave owners would have strong grounds to stand upon if they were content to point to the difficulties in the way of emancipation, and the circumstances under which they received their damnosa hereditas from England, which fostered, nay forced, slavery in legislative hotbeds throughout the colonies. The Englishman may say “We abolished slavery when we saw its evils.” The slave owner replies, “Yes, with you it was possible to decree the extinction—not with us.”

Never did a people enter on a war so utterly destitute of any reason for waging it, or of the means of bringing it to a successful termination against internal enemies. The thirteen colonies had a large population of sea-faring and soldiering men, constantly engaged in military expeditions. There was a large infusion, compared with the numbers of men capable of commanding in the field, and their great enemy was separated by a space far greater than the whole circumference of the globe would be in the present time from the scene of operations. Most American officers who took part in the war of 1812-14 are now too old for service, or retired into private life soon after the campaign. The same remark applies to the senior officers who served in Mexico, and the experiences of that campaign could not be of much use to those now in the service, of whom the majority were subalterns, or at most, officers in command of volunteers.

A love of military display is very different indeed from a true soldierly spirit, and at the base of the volunteer system there lies a radical difficulty, which must be overcome before real military efficiency can be expected. In the South the foreign element has contributed largely to swell the ranks with many docile and a few experienced soldiers, the number of the latter predominating in the German levies, and the same remark is, I hear, true of the Northern armies.

The most active member of the staff here is a young Englishman named Binmore, who was a stenographic writer in London, but has now sharpened his pencil into a sword, and when I went into the guard-room this morning I found that three-fourths of the officers, including all who had seen actual service, were foreigners. One, Milotzky, was an Hungarian; another, Waagner, was of the same nationality; a third, Schuttner, was a German; another, Mac something, was a Scotchman; another, was an Englishman. One only (Colonel Morgan), who had served in Mexico, was an American. The foreigners, of course, serve in this war as mercenaries; that is, they enter into the conflict to gain something by it, either in pay, in position, or in securing a status for themselves.

The utter absence of any fixed principle determining the side which the foreign nationalities adopt is proved by their going North or South with the state in which they live. On the other hand, the effects of discipline and of the principles of military life on rank and file are shown by the fact that the soldiers of the regular regiments of the United States and the sailors in the navy have to a man adhered to their colours, notwithstanding the examples and inducements of their officers.

After breakfast I went down about the works, which fortify the bank of mud, in the shape of a V, formed by the two rivers—a flêche with a ditch, scarp, and counter-scarp. Some heavy pieces cover the end of the spit at the other side of the Mississippi, at Bird’s Point. On the side of Missouri there is a field entrenchment, held by a regiment of Germans, Poles, and Hungarians, about 1000 strong, with two field batteries. The sacred soil of Kentucky, on the other side of the Ohio, is tabooed by Beriah Magoffin, but it is not possible for the belligerents to stand so close face to face without occupying either Columbus or Hickman. The thermometer was at 100° soon after breakfast, and it was not wonderful to find that the men in Camp Defiance, which is the name of the cantonment on the mud between the levees of the Ohio and Mississippi, were suffering from diarrhœa and fever.

In the evening there was a review of three regiments, forming a brigade of some 2800 men, who went through their drill, advancing in columns of company, moving en echelon, changing front, deploying into line on the centre company, very creditably. It was curious to see what a start ran through the men during the parade when a gun was fired from the battery close at hand, and how their heads turned towards the river; but the steamer which had appeared round the bend hoisted the private signs, by which she was known as a friend, and tranquillity was restored.

I am not sure that most of these troops desire anything but a long residence at a tolerably comfortable station, with plenty of pay and no marching. Cairo, indeed, is not comfortable; the worst barrack that ever asphixiated the British soldier would be better than the best shed here, and the flies and the mosquitoes are beyond all conception virulent and pestiferous. I would give much to see Cairo in its normal state, but it is my fate to witness the most interesting scenes in the world through a glaze of gunpowder. It would be unfair to say that any marked superiority in dwelling, clothing, or comfort was visible between the mean white of Cairo or the black chattel a few miles down the river. Brawling, rioting, and a good deal of drunkenness prevailed in the miserable sheds which line the stream, although there was nothing to justify the libels on the garrison of the Columbus Crescent, edited by one Colonel L. G. Faxon, of the Tennessee Tigers, with whose writings I was made acquainted by General Prentiss, to whom they appeared to give more annoyance than he was quite wise in showing.

This is a style of journalism which may have its merits, and which certainly is peculiar; I give a few small pieces. “The Irish are for us, and they will knock Bologna sausages out of the Dutch, and we will knock wooden nutmegs out of the Yankees.” “The mosquitoes of Cairo have been sucking the lager-bier out of the dirty soldiers there so long, they are bloated and swelled up as large as spring ‘possums. An assortment of Columbus mosquitoes went up there the other day to suck some, but as they have not returned, the probability is they went off with delirium tremens; in fact, the blood of these Hessians would poison the most degraded tumble bug in creation.”

Our editor is particularly angry about the recent seizure of a Confederate flag at Columbus by Colonel Oglesby and a party of Federals from Cairo. Speaking of a flag intended for himself he says, “Would that its folds had contained 1000 asps to sting 1000 Dutchmen to eternity unshriven.” Our friend is certainly a genius. His paper of June the 19th opens with an apology for the non-appearance of the journal for several weeks. “Before leaving,” he says, “we engaged the services of a competent editor, and left a printer here to issue the paper regularly. We were detained several weeks beyond our time, the aforesaid printer promised faithfully to perform his duties, but he left the same day we did, and consequently there was no one to get out the paper. We have the charity to suppose that fear and bad whisky had nothing to do with his evacuation of Columbus.” Another elegant extract about the flag commences, “When the bowlegged, wooden shoed, sour craut stinking, Bologna sausage eating, hen roost robbing Dutch sons of _____ had accomplished the brilliant feat of taking down the Secession flag on the river bank, they were pointed to another flag of the same sort which their guns did not cover, flying gloriously and defiantly, and dared yea! double big black dog—dared, as we used to say at school, to take that flag down—the cowardly pups, the thieving sheep dogs, the sneaking skunks, dare not do so, because their twelve pieces of artillery were not bearing on it.” As to the Federal commander at Cairo, Colonel Faxon’s sentiments are unambiguous. “The qualifications of this man, Prentiss,” he says, “for the command of such a squad of villains and cut-throats are, that he is a miserable hound, a dirty dog, a sociable fellow, a treacherous villain, a notorious thief, a lying blackguard, who has served his regular five years in the Penitentiary and keeps his hide continually full of Cincinnati whisky, which he buys by the barrel in order to save his money—in him are embodied the leprous rascalities of the world, and in this living score, the gallows is cheated of its own. Prentiss wants our scalp; we propose a plan by which he may get that valuable article. Let him select 150 of his best fighting men, or 250 of his lager-bier Dutchmen, we will select 100, then let both parties meet where there will be no interruption at the scalping business, and the longest pole will knock the persimmon. If he does not accept this proposal, he is a coward. We think this a gentlemanly proposition and quite fair and equal to both parties.”

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THURSDAY 20

Hot day and everybody wondering what will happen next. Troops here under marching orders. The 12th expect to go tonight. Some 4000 new troops have arrived today. The Boys have been spending the day at the Prests with the Lincoln boys. Willie has been with me all [sic] the office all day. Was at the Dress Parade with wife and daughter, did not go on to the Ave, got “Herald” and read it, bed 10 1/2.

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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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CAMP CHASE, June 20, 1861.

DEAR UNCLE:—I now expect to leave here on Saturday and come to Fremont to stay over Sunday with you. On Monday I will go down to Cincinnati to stay one or two days, and then I return to devote myself to the instruction and exercises of my post. Matthews returned yesterday, having finished his home preparations.

We have been in camp almost two weeks, and were getting on finely when we lost our colonel. Rosecrans has been promoted to a brigadier-generalship, and left us night before last to command the Virginia expedition to the Kanawha. We are helping the governor find some competent military man to take his place. If Matthews had had two months’ teaching and experience, he would be willing to take the place, and I should have perfect confidence in him, but as it is, he prefers not to take the responsibility.

Mother has returned. She was out here a few days ago, in good health for her and spirits. I shall see you so soon, that I need not write further. I enjoy this life, and it is going to be healthy for me. I shall hardly be more exposed to cold than in a very open tent the two cold nights a few days ago; but I am gaining in strength and spirits.

Sincerely,

R. B. HAYES.

S. BIRCHARD

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CAMP CHASE, June 20, 1861.

DEAREST L—:—Your letter filled me with joy—as your letters will always do. I write to say that my present purpose is to go to Fremont Saturday, to remain over Sunday, and Monday, to go down home and stay one or two days only. You will find it so pleasant up here that I do not go down except for business. Make little mem.’s of all things you want me to attend to. Recollect about any thin duds I have, especially coats. I am now well provided with most things.

Yes, the loss of our colonel did trouble us. Matthews does not yet wish the responsibility of command. With a few weeks’ experience I would prefer his appointment; in fact, I would anyhow, but we are casting about and the governor will consult our wishes. Our present preference is either Colonel [Eliakim Parker] Scammon or Colonel George W. McCook, the latter if he would take it. It will probably be satisfactory. If the new man is competent, he will be a very mean man if he does not get on well with us.

Affectionately,

R.

MRS. HAYES.

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from Tioronda, June 20:

We will go together, as you say, and will keep as near Joe as possible, though where it may be is entirely uncertain. They will march like others, with sealed orders. I go to Albany on Friday to see them in camp again before they leave. Will you go too? Joe has ordered a mess-chest and camp-table, and wants a cookery-book. I think I have seen one for army use advertised. Will you get me a simple one of any kind, civil or military, and send or bring it up? Simple directions for soups, gruels, stews, etc., are all he wants. His advice to me is to close up my affairs here and go to Mother for a while, till he can reach Washington and spy out the land. He wants us to be all ready to move but not to move hastily, and he says we must take Moritz with us as body-servant wherever we go. If any of you are near Tiffany’s the next few days you might hurry the flags up.

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JUNE 20TH.—Gov. Wise has been appointed brigadier-general, of a subsequent date to General Floyd’s commission. He goes to the West, where laurels grow; but I think it will be difficult to win them by any one acting in a subordinate capacity, and especially by generals appointed from civil life. They are the aversion of the West Pointers at the heads of bureaus.

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To-day Telegraph Engineer Henry I. Rogers, of New York, put in operation, on the western side of the Potomac, his newly invented telegraphic cordage or insulated line, for field operations, and it proved eminently successful, giving entire satisfaction in the manner in which it operated. It is run off reels upon the ground with great rapidity, (as required for instant use,) across streams, through woods, or over any localities. Lines were in extraordinarily short time laid between the head-quarters of General McDowell and two or three of his most advanced camps, and were worked in immediate connection with the telegraph station in the War Depatment. It is worthy of note that the heaviest artillery may run over the Rogers’ cordage without damaging its effectiveness in the least. It differs in many respects from the field telegraph used by Louis Napoleon in the Italian war, and embraces many advantages of convenient and certain operation under any possible circumstances over that (Louis Napoleon’s) which contributed so signally to the success of the French arms. —Baltimore American, June 22.

—The Second Rhode Island Regiment, Col. Slocum, accompanied by the Providence Marine Artillery Corps, with a full battery (six pieces) of James’s rifled cannon, arrived at New York, on their way to Washington. Governor Sprague and a portion of his staff, including Colonels Goddard and Gardner, and two others, accompanied them.—(Doc. 23.)

—This evening while the United States steamer Colorado was at sea, a break occurred in the after standard supporting the reversing shaft to the propeller. It had broken midway, and at a point where a triangular shaped piece had been sawed out of the rib, and a nicely fitted piece of soft wrought iron inserted and fastened by a small tap bolt. The surfaces had then been filed smoothly and painted over as before. But for the breakage it would have escaped the most critical examination. A strict inspection was made of the other parts, resulting in the discovery of a similar work upon the forward standard of the reversing shaft. Several other flaws were discovered, and the conclusion was irresistible that some villain had wrought all this mischief for the purpose of disabling the ship. A delay was caused before the repairs could be made, and the vessel again proceed on its course.—N. Y. Herald, June 27.

—At Willet’s Point, N. Y., interesting ceremonies took place on the occasion of blessing the standards of Col. McLeod Murphy’s regiment, and the presentation of colors by Col. Bradford, of Gov. Morgan’s staff. A large number of visitors attended, and interesting speeches were made by D. Thompson, Judge Charles P. Daly, Orestes A. Brownson, and others.—N Y. Times, June 21,

—Thirteen rebels were captured at Clarksburg, Va., this morning by the 3d Virginia Regiment. A secession flag and arms were also captured.—Louisville Journal, June 22.

—Gov. Harris, in a message to the legislature of Tennessee, recommends the passage of a law requiring payment to be made of all sums due from the State to all persons or the Government on terms of peace, and advises such a policy toward the citizens of the belligerent States as the rules of war justify. He recommends the issue of Treasury notes to pay the expenses of the Provisional Government, to be receivable as currency.

Major-General McClellan to-day assumed command in person of the Western Virginia forces. He expects to have 16,000 men in the field before Saturday night.—N. Y. Commercial, June 21.

—Cornelius Vanderbilt offered all the steamships of the Atlantic and Pacific Steamship Company to the Government, including the Vanderbilt, Ocean Queen, Ariel, Champion, and Daniel Webster, to be paid for at such rate as any two commodores of the United States Navy and ex-Commodore Stockton might decide upon as a proper valuation.—(Doc. 24.)

—In the Wheeling (Va.) Convention, Frank H. Pierpont, of Marion county, was unanimously elected Governor; Daniel Paisley, of Mason county, Lieutenant Governor, and Messrs. Lamb, Paxhaw, Van Winkle, Harrison, and Lazar to form the Governor’s Council. The election of an attorney-general was postponed till Saturday. The Governor was formally inaugurated in the afternoon, taking in addition to the usual oath, one of stringent opposition to the usurpers at Richmond. He then delivered an address to the members of the convention, urging a rigorous prosecution of the work of redeeming the State from the hands of the rebels. After the inauguration, the bells were rung, cannon were fired, and the whole town was wild with delight—(Doc. 25.)

—The Second New Hampshire Regiment left Portsmouth, for the seat of war. Previous to their departure, the Goodwin Riflemen, attached to the regiment, were presented with a banner. It had on one side the coat of arms of the State, with an inscription showing that the flag was given by the ladies of Concord, and on the other side was a representation of the Goddess of Liberty, with the inscription in gold letters, “Goodwin Rifles.” At Boston, Mass., on the arrival of the troops, they were entertained by the sons of New Hampshire resident in that city. —(Doc. 26.)

—Gov. Robinson of Kansas issued a proclamation calling on all good citizens to organize military companies for the purpose of repelling attacks from the rebels in Missouri.

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June—, 1861.—Early in the second week of our camping out in service, Colonel Rosecrans returned and set vigorously to work organizing the regiment. The evening of the day he returned we were closing up matters in our tent preparatory to going to bed, when two gentlemen rode up with a dispatch which announced the appointment of Colonel Rosecrans to the post of brigadier-general, and ordering him to repair to western Virginia to take command of Ohio troops moving in that direction. We rode into Columbus and saw the colonel now general, off about midnight. Good-bye to our good colonel. A sorry thing for us. May it prove all he hopes to him. I shall never forget how his face shone with delight as he read the dispatch.

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WEDNESDAY 19

Fine weather yet. Every one on tiptoe to hear news. Troops are passing over the River and an advance to Fairfax C.H. is expected. Exciting news expected from Old Point from the West as well as from the opposite side of the River. Attended the “Parade” this evening and went down to Willards for an hour or so. Everybody excited and enquiring for news. Came home with the NY papers and retired 1/2 past 10.

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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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June 19.—Yesterday evening we heard rumours of the Federal troops having crossed the Potomac, and marching to Martinsburg and Shepherdstown in large force. General Johnston immediately drew up his army at a place called “Carter’s,” on the Charlestown road, about four miles beyond Winchester. Messrs. B. and R. M. called this morning, and report that the location of the Federals is very uncertain; it is supposed that they have retreated from Martinsburg. Oh, that our Almighty Father, who rules all things, would interpose and give us peace, even now when all seem ready for war! He alone can do it.

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The middle of June, 1861, J. H.’s regiment, the Sixteenth New York, suddenly received orders to be ready to march, and after some little further delay it left Albany for Washington and the front. The family were now fairly in the war.

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Rev. G. L. Prentiss to Joseph Howland

Joseph Howland

Joseph Howland


New York, June 19, 1861.

Abby has just told my wife that you are ordered South. Is it so? If I were not strong in faith about you, I don’t know what I should say. But the path of duty is the path of safety and of honor, and if you were my own brother (you seem to me more like a younger brother than anything else) I could not lift a finger against your going — assuming always that your health and strength hold out. God bless you and have you ever, dearest friend, in His holy keeping.

Most affectionately yours,

George L. Prentiss.

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June 19th.—In England Mr. Gregory and Mr. Lyndsey rise to say a good word for us. Heaven reward them; shower down its choicest blessings on their devoted heads, as the fiction folks say.

Barnwell Heyward telegraphed me to meet him at Kingsville, but I was at Cool Spring, Johnny’s plantation, and all my clothes were at Sandy Hill, our home in the Sand Hills; so I lost that good opportunity of the very nicest escort to Richmond. Tried to rise above the agonies of every-day life. Read Emerson; too restless—Manassas on the brain.

Russell’s letters are filled with rubbish about our wanting an English prince to reign over us. He actually intimates that the noisy arming, drumming, marching, proclaiming at the North, scares us. Yes, as the making of faces and turning of somersaults by the Chinese scared the English.

Mr. Binney¹ has written a letter. It is in the Intelligencer of Philadelphia. He offers Lincoln his life and fortune; all that he has put at Lincoln’s disposal to conquer us. Queer; we only want to separate from them, and they put such an inordinate value on us. They are willing to risk all, life and limb, and all their money to keep us, they love us so.

Mr. Chesnut is accused of firing the first shot, and his cousin, an ex-West Pointer, writes in a martial fury. They confounded the best shot made on the Island the day of the picnic with the first shot at Fort Sumter. This last is claimed by Captain James. Others say it was one of the Gibbeses who first fired. But it was Anderson who fired the train which blew up the Union. He slipped into Fort Sumter that night, when we expected to talk it all over. A letter from my husband dated, “Headquarters, Manassas Junction, June 16, 1861:”

My Dear Mary: I wrote you a short letter from Richmond last Wednesday, and came here next day. Found the camp all busy and preparing for a vigorous defense. We have here at this camp seven regiments, and in the same command, at posts in the neighborhood, six others—say, ten thousand good men. The General and the men feel confident that they can whip twice that number of the enemy, at least.

I have been in the saddle for two days, all day, with the General, to become familiar with the topography of the country, and the posts he intends to assume, and the communications between them.

We learned General Johnston has evacuated Harper’s Ferry, and taken up his position at Winchester, to meet the advancing column of McClellan, and to avoid being cut off by the three columns which were advancing upon him. Neither Johnston nor Beauregard considers Harper’s Ferry as very important in a strategic point of view.

I think it most probable that the next battle you will hear of will be between the forces of Johnston and McClellan.

I think what we particularly need is a head in the field—a Major-General to combine and conduct all the forces as well as plan a general and energetic campaign. Still, we have all confidence that we will defeat the enemy whenever and wherever we meet in general engagement. Although the majority of the peopie just around here are with us, still there are many who are against us.

God bless you.          Yours,

James Chesnut, Jr.

Mary Hammy and myself are off for Richmond. Rev. Mr. Meynardie, of the Methodist persuasion, goes with us. We are to be under his care. War-cloud lowering.

Isaac Hayne, the man who fought a duel with Ben Alston across the dinner-table and yet lives, is the bravest of the brave. He attacks Russell in the Mercury—in the public prints—for saying we wanted an English prince to the fore. Not we, indeed! Every man wants to be at the head of affairs himself. If he can not be king himself, then a republic, of course. It was hardly necessary to do more than laugh at Russell’s absurd idea. There was a great deal of the wildest kind of talk at the Mills House. Russell writes candidly enough of the British in India. We can hardly expect him to suppress what is to our detriment.

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¹ Horace Binney, one of the foremost lawyers of Philadelphia, who was closely associated with the literary, scientific, and philanthropic interests of his time. His wife was a sister of Mrs. Chesnut, the author’s mother-in-law.

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—The probabilities are, that the nest few days will witness the most momentous developments in the history of the continent. The aspect of affairs in Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri betokens the proximity of a crisis—of collisions upon the result of which depends much of the future. The preparations on the border, on both sides, indicate movements which may determine, and will be certain largely to influence, the result of the controversy between the hostile sections. The points towards which public interest will be generally directed are: Fort Pickens, before which the Confederates have the best appointed and applied army ever organized in this country, and commanded by an officer whose high renown attaches to his name the prestige of success. The signs of the times are, that public expectations in this quarter will soon be relieved. On the northeastern line, we infer, from the proclamation of General Beauregard, issued from Manassas Junction, that an early offensive movement is contemplated, which the South desires, and will support. Fortress Monroe will be invested, and the marauding bands that have been plundering the immediate vicinity confined to their lines, or defeated in detail, as at Bethel. The Harper’s Ferry force are now engaged in a movement, the result of which will, we have no doubt, astonish the country. Missouri, too, has become the theatre upon which startling events will soon be enacted, if the people of that State sustain the action of their patriotic Governor in his determination to drive the abolition marauders from her border. If the people respond, important moves upon the chess-board of war west of the Mississippi are certain to occur. Governor Jackson and his brave Missourians, supported, as they undoubtedly will be, by McCulloch and his forces, will soon drive back the miscreants who have been deputized to crush popular sentiment as it has been done in Maryland. And here on the eastern banks of the Mississippi there are thousands of brave men congregated eager for the fray, whose impetuosity will not bear restraint much longer. As a contemporary remarks, “the result of these various military movements may not all be satisfactory to the South.” Our forces may even suffer defeats and disasters. Military operations are frequently controlled by accident. But whatever may be the conclusion of any or all of the movements mentioned above, of one result we feel assured, and that is, of the final success of our great and glorious cause, and of the eventual defeat and humiliation of our vaunting enemies. Our people are not discouraged—our troops are brave, anxious, and hopeful, and the God of battles will defend the right and carry our standard to victory. We may prepare ourselves for the development of the future at an early day.—Memphis (Tenn.) Appeal, June 19.

—John Ross, principal Chief of the Cherokee’ Indians, in a proclamation to his people, reminds them of the obligations arising under their treaties with the United States, and urging them to their faithful observance; earnestly impressing upon all the propriety of attending to their ordinary avocations, and abstaining from unprofitable discussion of events transpiring in the States; cultivating harmony among themselves, and the observance of good faith and strict neutrality between them and the States threatening civil war, by which means alone can the Cherokee people hope to maintain their rights and be spared the effect of devastating war, hoping there may yet be a compromise or peaceful separation. He admonishes the Cherokees to be prudent and avoid any act or policy calculated to destroy or endanger their rights. By honestly adhering to this course no just cause for aggression will be given, and in the final adjustment between the States the nation will be in a situation to claim and retain their rights. He earnestly impresses upon the Cherokee people the importance of non-interference, and trusts that God will keep from their borders the desolation of war and stay the ravages among the brotherhood of States.—(Doc. 15.)

—A battle took place at sunrise, yesterday morning, between 800 Union Home Guards, under Captain Cook, near the town of Cole Camp, Mo., and a large party of secessionists from Warsaw and the surrounding country, in which 15 Guards were killed, 20 wounded, many of them severely, and 30 prisoners were taken. Most of the Guards were in a large barn when the firing began, but they immediately sprung to arms, and killed forty of the attacking party before being overpowered by superior numbers, but nearly all of them finally escaped and are ready to join the forces to dispute the passage of the State troops.—Baltimore American, June 22.

—To-day six pickets from Grafton, Va., who had been sent out into the country back of Philippi, ran into a camp of secessionists most unexpectedly, and were immediately surrounded. They fought their way out without a man being hurt, although two of them had their horses shot under them. They returned to Philippi and reported to the camp, and shortly after a large force was sent out. They came across the camp and dispersed the rebels, who fled in every direction. They were pursued, and several stragglers picked up. Among them was no less a personage than ex-Governor Joseph Johnson, who was captured in full regimentals. He was brought into Grafton this evening.— Wheeling ( Va.) Intelligencer, June 20.

—The Second Wisconsin Regiment passed through Cleveland, O., for Washington. They were welcomed by a large and enthusiastic crowd of citizens. Before leaving they partook of refreshments, which had been abundantly provided in the park.

—Yesterday the Convention of North Carolina elected the following delegates to the Confederate Congress:—For the State at large, W. W. Avery and George Davis; First District, W. N. H. Smith; Second, Thomas Ruffin; Third, T. D. McDowell; Fourth, A. W. Venable; Fifth, John M. Morehead; Sixth, R. C. Puryear; Seventh, Burton Craige; Eighth, A. D. Davidson. It also authorized the First Regiment of North Carolina Volunteers, who took so active a part in the affair at Bethel, to inscribe on their colors the word “Bethel.”—Philadelphia Press, June 24.

—The Twenty-sixth Pennsylvania Regiment, Col. Small, numbering about one thousand hardy-looking and well-drilled men, arrived at Washington. They are fully equipped and armed with the regulation musket. They are quartered in the new Colonization Society building, corner of Four-and-a-half street and Pennsylvania avenue.—(Doc. 16.)

—A detachment of regulars from Kansas City captured thirty-five secessionists and a small quantity of arms and ammunition at Liberty, Mo., to-day.—N. Y. World, June 25.

—The Fourth Regiment of Maine Volunteers passed through New York on its way to the seat of war in Virginia. The regiment landed at pier No. 3, on the North River, and took up the line of march through Battery Place into Broadway, and thence to the City Hall. All along the route the greatest enthusiasm prevailed, and the appearance of the volunteers was the subject of universal praise. Their solid ranks, their excellent marching, and above all their full preparation in every respect for the work of the campaign—all went to show that what they claim—namely, that they arc equal if not superior to any corps which has entered into the service—has some foundation in fact. In front of the City Hall they were drawn up in close lines, and were presented with two flags —one on behalf of the sons, and the other on behalf of the daughters of Maine, resident in New York. Rev. I. S. Kalloch, formerly of Boston, offered a prayer. Rev. Dr. Hitchcock presented the flag in behalf of the sons. He said to the regiment in substance that their brothers bid them welcome to the commercial metropolis of the Union, to this temporary camping ground of the loyal troops of the Union. (Three cheers for the volunteers of Maine.) They went to join thousands of troops now engaged in the defence of the Union. The serpent’s egg, (secession,) he said, was hatched thirty years ago. The old hero, Jackson, put his foot on it, but only on its tail. They (the regiment) would put their feet on its head and kill it! (Cheers.) The year 1861 would stand side by side with 1776. We began to exist in 1776, to-day we were in our manhood. The disasters of which we bear are only the gentle discipline of our Father, for our good, to teach us how to snatch victory on greater fields. (Cheers.) The Confederates have put themselves where our leading General wished to put them—flanked by the mountains and the sea. The sons of Maine are willing to see the flag he presented to the regiment returned soiled with blood, but not soiled with the soil of Virginia.—Col. Berry took the flag and waved it. It was saluted with thousands of cheers. He then tendered his sincere thanks. He could not wait to make a speech, but he would say (mounting the stand)—Men of the Fourth Regiment, shall this flag ever trail in the dust? (“No, no!”) Will you defend it as long as you have a right arm? (“We will,” and enthusiastic cheers.)—A splendid regimental flag, on behalf of the daughters of Maine, was presented by Mr. J. W. Brookman, and received with appropriate remarks by Colonel Berry. —(Doc. 17.)

—The Thirty-eighth Regiment New York Volunteers, Second Scott Life Guard, commanded by Colonel J. Hobart Ward, left New York city for the seat of war.—(Doc. 18.)

—The Secession forces from Romney, Va., burnt the railroad bridge over New Creek, twenty-three miles west of Cumberland, Md., early this morning, and marched to Piedmont, five miles further west, which place they now hold. The telegraph wires east of Piedmont were cut by them. Notice was given of their approach to the town, and the citizens prepared to leave. All the engines belonging to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company were fired up and sent west to Grafton. The greatest excitement prevailed. A company of citizen soldiers who were guarding the bridges are reported to have been fired upon and killed. On the approach of the secessionists the Piedmont operator closed the telegraph office and fled. Communication by railroad between Grafton and Cumberland is now cut off.—National Intelligencer, June 21.

—T. B. Bueke, a rabid secessionist, was hung by the citizens of Lane, (Ogle Co., Illinois,) from a two-story window of the Court-house building. He was charged with causing the destructive fires there on the 7th of this month, and in December last. His guilt was fully established, and it was also proved that he had planned the burning of the business part of the town.—N. Y. Express, June 20.

—Two letters from John Adams, second President of the United States, to Gen. Benjamin Lincoln, of Massachusetts, on the subject of “State Sovereignty,” and the heresy of “confederated republic,” were first published at Boston.—(Doc. 19.)

—The Twenty-first New York Regiment, Colonel Rogers, from Buffalo, arrived this afternoon at Washington. They are a hardy-looking set of men, and number about eight hundred. The uniform is of gray cloth, and they are well armed and equipped. Many of the regiment served in Mexico, and Col. Rogers was a captain in that war, and distinguished as an efficient officer.—(Doc. 20.)

—Andrew Johnson, of Tennessee, arrived at Cincinnati, en route to Washington. He was escorted across the Ohio, by the Newport and Covington Military, and a large concourse of citizens. At 8 o’clock he was formally waited upon by the Chamber of Commerce, and made a speech from the balcony of the Burnett House to a large gathering of citizens. —(Doc. 21.)

—The 8th and 10th Indiana Regiments, Colonels Benton and Mansen, passed through Cincinnati, Ohio, for Virginia.—Albany, (N. Y.) Journal, June 21.

—The War Department accepted for three years, or the war, a Chicago battalion, raised by Capt. J. W. Wilson, consisting of 212 men, rank and file, called “The Illinois Bridge, Breastwork, and Fortification Fusileers.” It is composed of 120 carpenters, 70 railroad-track men, 7 railroad and bridge blacksmiths, 6 boatbuilders, 2 engineers, and 9 locomotive builders. Boston Transcript, June 20.

—The Eleventh Anniversary of the Hudson River Baptist Association South, was held with the Mount Olivet Baptist Church, Yonkers. The anniversary sermon was preached by Rev. W. S. Mikels, of New York. Rev. John Dowling, D. D., was elected Moderator, Rev. C. C. Norton was reelected Clerk, James L. Hastie, Assistant-Clerk, and J. M. Bruce, Jr., Treasurer. A Committee was appointed to prepare a series of resolutions on the state of the country, which, with the report, were offered through the chairman, Rev. Wm. Hague, D. D. of New York, and unanimously adopted.— (Doc. 22.)

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June 19th. It is probable the landlord of the Gayoso House was a strong Secessionist, and resolved, therefore, to make the most out of a neutral customer like myself—certainly Herodotus would have been astonished if he were called upon to pay the little bill which was presented to me in the modern Memphis; and had the old Egyptian hostelries been conducted on the same principles as those of the Tennessean Memphis, the “Father of History ” would have had to sell off a good many editions in order to pay his way. I had to rise at three o’clock A.m., to reach the train, which started before five. The omnibus which took us to the station was literally nave deep in the dust; and of all the bad roads and dusty streets I have yet seen in the New World, where both prevail, North and South, those of Memphis are the worst. Indeed, as the citizen, of Hibernian birth, who presided over the luggage of the passengers on the roof, declared, “The streets are paved with waves of mud, only the mud is all dust when it’s fine weather.”

By the time I had arrived at the station my clothes were covered with a fine alluvial deposit in a state of powder; the platform was crowded with volunteers moving off for the wars, and I was obliged to take my place in a carriage full of Confederate officers and soldiers who had a large supply of whisky, which at that early hour they were consuming as a prophylactic against the influence of the morning dews, which hereabouts are of such a deadly character that, to be quite safe from their influence, it appears to be necessary, judging from the examples of my companions, to get as nearly drunk as possible. Whisky, by-the-by, is also a sovereign specific against the bites of rattlesnakes. All the dews of the Mississippi and the rattlesnakes of the prairie might have spent their force or venom in vain on my companions before we had got as far as Union City.

I was evidently regarded with considerable suspicion by my fellow passengers, when they heard I was going to Cairo, until the conductor obligingly informed them who I was, whereupon I was much entreated to fortify myself against the dews and rattlesnakes, and received many offers of service and kindness.

Whatever may be the normal comforts of American railway cars, they are certainly most unpleasant conveyances when the war spirit is abroad, and the heat of the day, which was excessive, did not contribute to diminish the annoyance of foul air—the odour of whisky, tobacco, and the like, combined with innumerable flies. At Humbolt, which is eighty-two miles away, there was a change of cars, and an opportunity of obtaining some refreshment,—the station was crowded by great numbers of men and women dressed in their best, who were making holiday in order to visit Union City, forty-six miles distant, where a force of Tennesseean and Mississippi regiments are encamped. The ladies boldly advanced into carriages ,which were quite full, and as they looked quite prepared to sit down on the occupants of the seats if they did not move, and to destroy them with all-absorbing articles of feminine warfare, either defensive or aggressive, and crush them with iron-bound crinolines, they soon drove us out into the broiling sun.

Whilst I was on the platform I underwent the usual process of American introduction, not, I fear, very good-humouredly. A gentleman whom you never saw before in your life, walks up to you and says, “I am happy to see you among us, sir,” and if he finds a hand wandering about, he shakes it cordially. “My name is Jones, sir, Judge Jones of Pumpkin County. Any information about this place or State that I can give is quite at your service.” This is all very civil and well meant of Jones, but before you have made up your mind what to say, or on what matter to test the worth of his proffered information, he darts off and seizes one of the group who have been watching Jones’s advance, and comes forward with a tall man, like himself, busily engaged with a piece of tobacco. “Colonel, let me introduce you to my friend, Mr. Russell. This, sir, is one of our leading citizens, Colonel Knags.” Whereupon the Colonel shakes hands, uses nearly the same formula as Judge Jones, immediately returns to his friends, and cuts in before Jones is back with other friends, whom he is hurrying up the platform, introduces General Cassius Mudd and Dr. Ordlando Bellows, who go through the same ceremony, and as each man has a circle of his own, my acquaintance becomes prodigiously extended, and my hand considerably tortured in the space of a few minutes; finally I am introduced to the driver of the engine and the stoker, but they proved to be acquaintances not at all to be despised, for they gave me a seat on the engine, which was really a boon considering that the train was crowded beyond endurance, and in a state of internal nastiness scarcely conceivable.

When I had got up on the engine a gentleman clambered after me in order to have a little conversation, and he turned out to be an intelligent and clever man well acquainted with the people and the country. I had been much impressed by the account in the Memphis papers of the lawlessness and crime which seemed to prevail in the state of Mississippi, and of the brutal shootings and stabbings which disgraced it and other Southern States. He admitted it was true, but could not see any remedy. “Why not?” “Well, sir, the rowdies have rushed in on us, and we can’t master them; they are too strong for the respectable people.” “Then you admit the law is nearly powerless?” “Well, you see, sir, these men have got hold of the people who ought to administer the law, and when they fail to do so they are so powerful by reason of their numbers, and so reckless, they have things their own way.”

“In effect, then, you are living under a reign of terror, and the rule of a ruffian mob?” “It’s not quite so bad as that, perhaps, for the respectable people are not much affected by it, and most of the crimes of which you speak are committed by these bad classes in their own section; but it is disgraceful to have such a state of things, and when this war is over, and we have started the Confederacy all fair, we’ll put the whole thing down. We are quite determined to take the law into our own hands, and the first remedy for the condition of affairs which, we all lament, will be to confine the suffrage to native-born Americans, and to get rid of the infamous, scoundrelly foreigners, who now overrule us in our country.” “But are not many regiments of Irish and Germans now fighting for you? And will these foreigners who have taken up arms in your cause be content to receive as the result of their success an inferior position, politically, to that which they now hold?” “Well, sir, they must; we are bound to go through with this thing if we would save society.” I had so often heard a similar determination expressed by men belonging to the thinking classes in the South that I am bound to believe the project is entertained by many of those engaged in this great revolt—one principle of which indeed, may be considered hostility to universal suffrage, combining with it, of course, the limitation of the immigrant vote.

The portion of Tennessee through which the rail runs is exceedingly uninteresting, and looks unhealthy, the clearings occur at long intervals in the forest, and the unwholesome population, who came out of their low shanties, situated amidst blackened stumps of trees or fields of Indian corn, did not seem prosperous or comfortable. The twists and curves of the rail, through cane brakes and swamps exceeded in that respect any line I have ever travelled on; but the vertical irregularities of the rail were still greater, and the engine bounded as if it were at sea.

The names of the stations show that a savant has been rambling about the district. Here is Corinth, which consists of a wooden grog-shop and three log shanties; the acropolis is represented by a grocery store, of which the proprietors, no doubt, have gone to the wars, as their names were suspiciously Milesian, and the doors and windows were fastened; but occasionally the names of the stations on the railway boards represented towns and villages, hidden in the wood some distance away, and Mummius might have something to ruin if he marched off the track but not otherwise.

The city of Troy was still simpler in architecture than the Grecian capitol. The Dardanian towers were represented by a timber-house, in the verandah of which the American Helen was seated, in the shape of an old woman smoking a pipe, and she certainly could have set the Palace of Priam on fire much more readily than her prototype. Four sheds, three log huts, a sawmill, about twenty negroes sitting on a wood-pile, and looking at the train, constituted the rest of the place, which was certainly too new for one to say, Trqja fuit, whilst the general “fixins” would scarcely authorise us to say with any confidence, Trojafuerit.

The train from Troy passed through a cypress swamp, over which the engine rattled, and hopped at a perilous rate along high trestle work, till forty-six miles from Humbolt we came to Union City, which was apparently formed by aggregate meetings of discontented shavings that had travelled out of the forest hard by. But a little beyond it was the Confederate camp, which so many citizens and citizenesses had come out into the wilderness to see; and a general descent was made upon the place whilst the volunteers came swarming out of their tents to meet their friends. It was interesting to observe the affectionate greetings between the young soldiers, mothers, wives, and sweethearts, and as a display of the force and earnestness of the Southern people—the camp itself containing thousands of men, many of whom were members of the first families in the State—was specially significant.

There is no appearance of military order or discipline about the camps, though they were guarded by sentries and cannon, and implements of war and soldiers’ accoutrements were abundant. Some of the sentinels carried their firelocks under their arms like umbrellas, others carried the but over the shoulder and the muzzle downwards, and one for his greater ease had stuck the bayonet of his firelock into the ground, and was leaning his elbow on the stock with his chin on his hand, whilst Sybarites less ingenious, had simply deposited their muskets against the trees, and were lying down reading newspapers. Their arms and uniforms were of different descriptions—sporting rifles, fowling pieces, flint muskets, smooth bores, long and short barrels, new Enfields, and the like; but the men, nevertheless, were undoubtedly material for excellent soldiers. There were some few boys, too young to carry arms, although the zeal and ardour of such lads cannot but have a good effect, if they behave well in action.

The great attraction of this train lay in a vast supply of stores, with which several large vans were closely packed, and for fully two hours the train was delayed, whilst hampers of wine, spirits, vegetables, fruit, meat, groceries, and all the various articles acceptable to soldiers living under canvas were disgorged on the platform, and carried away by the expectant military.

I was pleased to observe the perfect confidence that was felt in the honesty of the men. The railway servants simply deposited each article as it came out on the platform—the men came up, read the address, and carried it away, or left it, as the case might be; and only in one instance did I see a scramble, which was certainly quite justifiable, for in handing out a large basket the bottom gave way, and out tumbled onions, apples, and potatoes among the soldiery, who stuffed their pockets and haversacks with the unexpected bounty. One young fellow, who was handed a large wicker-covered jar from the van, having shaken it, and gratified his ear by the pleasant jingle inside, retired to the roadside, drew the cork, and, raising it slowly to his mouth, proceeded to take a good pull at the contents, to the envy of his comrades; but the pleasant expression upon his face rapidly vanished, and spurting out the fluid with a hideous grimace, he exclamed, “D____; why, if the old woman has not gone and sent me a gallon of syrup.” The matter was evidently considered too serious to joke about, for not a soul in the crowd even smiled; but they walked away from the man, who, putting down the jar, seemed in doubt as to whether he would take it away or not.

Numerous were the invitations to stop, which I received from the officers. “Why not stay with us, sir; what can a gentleman want to go among black Republicans and Yankees for.” It is quite obvious that my return to the Northern States is regarded with some suspicion; but I am bound to say that my explanation of the necessity of the step was always well received, and satisfied my Southern friends that I had no alternative. A special correspondent, whose letters cannot get out of the country in which he is engaged, can scarcely fulfil the purpose of his mission; and I used to point out, good-humouredly, to these gentlemen that until they had either opened the communication with the North, or had broken the blockade, and established steam communication with Europe, I must seek my base of operations elsewhere.

At last we started from Union City; and there came into the car, among other soldiers who were going out to Columbus, a fine specimen of the wild filibustering population of the South, which furnish many recruits to the ranks of the Confederate army—a tall, brawny-shouldered, brown-faced, black-bearded, hairy-handed man, with a hunter’s eye, and rather a Jewish face, full of life, energy, and daring. I easily got into conversation with him, as my companion happened to be a freemason, and he told us he had been a planter in Mississippi, and once owned 110 negroes, worth at least some 20,000£.; but, as he said himself, “I was always patrioting it about;” and so he went off, first with Lopez to Cuba, was wounded and taken prisoner by the Spaniards, but had the good fortune to be saved from the execution which was inflicted on the ringleaders of the expedition. When he came back he found his plantation all the worse, and a decrease amongst his negroes; but his love of adventure and filibustering was stronger than his prudence or desire of gain. He took up with Walker, the “the grey eyed man of destiny,” and accompanied him in his strange career till his leader received the coup de grace in the final raid upon Nicaragua.

Again he was taken prisoner, and would have been put to death by the Nicaraguans, but for the intervention of Captain Aldham. “I don’t bear any love to the Britishers,” said he, “but I’m bound to say, as so many charges have been made against Captain Aldham, that he behaved like a gentleman, and if I had been at New Orleans when them cussed cowardly blackguards ill-used him, I’d have left my mark so deep on a few of them, that their clothes would not cover them long.” He told us that at present he had only five negroes left, “but I’m not going to let the black republicans lay hold of them, and I’m just going to stand up for States’ rights as long as I can draw a trigger—so snakes and Abolitionists look out.” He was so reduced by starvation, ill-treatment, and sickness in Nicaragua, when Captain Aldham procured his release, that he weighed only 110 pounds, but at present he was over 200 pounds, a splendid bête fauve, and without wishing so fine a looking fellow any harm, I could not but help thinking that it must be a benefit to American society to get rid of a considerable number of these class of which he is a representative man. And there is every probability that they will have a full opportunity of doing so.

On the arrival of the train at Columbus, twenty-five miles from Union City, my friend got out, and a good number of men in uniform joined him, which led me to conclude that they had some more serious object than a mere pleasure trip to the very uninteresting looking city on the banks of the Mississippi, which is asserted to be neutral territory, as it belongs to the sovereign state of Kentucky. I heard, accidentally, as I came in the train, that a party of Federal soldiers from the camp at Cairo, up the river, had recently descended to Columbus and torn down a secession flag which had been hoisted on the river’s bank, to the great indignation of many of the inhabitants.

In those border states the coming war promises to produce the greatest misery; they will be the scenes of hostile operations; the population is divided in sentiment; the greatest efforts will be made by each side to gain the ascendancy in the state, and to crush the opposite faction, and it is not possible to believe that Kentucky can maintain a neutral position, or that either Federal or Confederates will pay the smallest regard to the proclamation of Governor McGoffin, and to his empty menaces.

At Columbus the steamer was waiting to convey us up to Cairo, and I congratulated myself on the good fortune of arriving in time for the last opportunity that will be afforded of proceeding northward by this route. General Pillow on the one hand, and General Prentiss on the other, have resolved to blockade the Mississippi, and as the facilities for Confederates going up to Columbus and obtaining information of what is happening in the Federal camps cannot readily be checked, the general in command of the port to which I am bound has intimated that the steamers must cease running. It was late in the day when we entered once more on the father of waters, which is here just as broad, as muddy, as deep, and as wooded as it is at Baton Rouge, or Vicksburg.

Columbus is situated on an elevated spur or elbow of land projecting into the river, and has, in commercial faith, one of those futures which have so many rallying points down the centre of the great river. The steamer which lay at the wharf, or rather the wooden piles in the bank which afforded a resting place for the gangway, carried no flag, and on board presented traces of better days, a list of refreshments no longer attainable, and of bill of fare utterly fanciful. About twenty passengers came on board, most of whom had a distracted air, as if they were doubtful of their journey. The captain was surly, the office keeper petulant, the crew morose, and, perhaps, only one man on board, a stout Englishman, who was purser or chief of the victualling department, seemed at all inclined to be communicative. At dinner he asked me whether I thought there would be a fight, but as I was oscillating between one extreme and the other, I considered it right to conceal my opinion even from the steward of the Mississippi boat; and, as it happened, the expression of it would not have been of much consequence one way or the other, for it turned out that our friend was of very stern stuff, “This war,” he said, “is all about niggers; I’ve been sixteen years in the country, and I never met one of them yet was fit to be anything but a slave; I know the two sections well, and I tell you, sir, the North can’t whip the South, let them do their best; they may ruin the country, but they’ll do no good.”

There were men on board who had expressed the strongest secession sentiments in the train, but who now sat and listened and acquiesced in the opinions of Northern men, and by the time Cairo was in sight, they, no doubt, would have taken the oath of allegiance which every doubtful person is required to utter before he is allowed to go beyond the military post.

In about two hours or so the captain pointed out to me a tall building and some sheds, which seemed to arise out of a wide reach in the river, “that’s Cairey,” said he, “where the Unionists have their camp,” and very soon the stars and stripes were visible, waving from a lofty staff, at the angle of low land formed by the junction of the Mississippi and Ohio.

For two months I had seen only the rival stars and bars, with the exception of the rival banner floating from the ships and the fort at Pickens. One of the passengers told me that the place was supposed to be described by Mr. Dickens, in “Martin Chuzzlewit,” and as the steamer approached the desolate embankment, which seemed the only barrier between the low land on which the so-called city was built, and the waters of the great river rising above it, it certainly became impossible to believe that sane men, even as speculators, could have fixed upon such a spot as the possible site of a great city, —an emporium of trade and commerce. A more desolate woe-begone looking place, now that all trade and commerce had ceased cannot be conceived; but as the southern terminus of the central Illinois railway, it displayed a very different scene before the war broke out.

With the exception of the large hotel, which rises far above the levee of the river, the public edifices are represented by a church and spire, and the rest of the town by a line of shanties and small houses, the rooms and upper stories of which are just visible above the embankment. The general impression effected by the place was decidedly like that which the Isle of Dogs produces on a despondent foreigner as he approaches London by the river on a drisly day in November. The stream, formed by the united efforts of the Mississippi and the Ohio, did not appear to gain much breadth, and each of the confluents looked as large as its product with the other. Three steamers lay alongside the wooden wharves projecting from the embankment, which was also lined by some flat-boats. Sentries paraded the gangways as the steamer made fast along the shore, but no inquiry was directed to any of the passengers, and I walked up the levee and proceeded straight to the hotel, which put me very much in mind of an effort made by speculating proprietors to create a watering-place on some lifeless beach. In the hall there were a number of officers in United States’ uniforms, and the lower part of the hotel was, apparently, occupied as a military bureau; finally, I was shoved into a small dungeon, with a window opening out on the angle formed by the two rivers, which was lined with sheds and huts and terminated by a battery.

These camps are such novelties in the country, and there is such romance in the mere fact of a man living in a tent, that people come far and wide to see their friends under such extraordinary circumstances, and the hotel at Cairo was crowded by men and women who had come from all parts of Illinois to visit their acquaintances and relations belonging to the state troops encamped at this important point. The salle à manger, a long and lofty room on the ground floor, which I visited at supper time, was almost untenable by reason of heat and flies; nor did I find that the free negroes, who acted as attendants, possessed any advantages over their enslaved brethren a few miles lower down the river; though their freedom was obvious enough in their demeanour and manners.

I was introduced to General Prentiss, an agreeable person,without anything about him to indicate the soldier. He gave me a number of newspapers, the articles in which were principally occupied with a discussion of Lord John RusselPs speech on American affairs: Much as the South found fault with the British minister for the views he had expressed, the North appears much more indignant, and denounces in the press what the journalists are pleased to call “the hostility of the Foreign Minister to the United States.” It is admitted, however, that the extreme irritation caused by admitting the Southern States to exercise limited belligerent rights was not quite justifiable. Soon after nightfall I retired to my room and battled with mosquitoes till I sank into sleep and exhaustion, and abandoned myself to their mercies; perhaps, after all, there were not more than a hundred or so, and their united efforts could not absorb as much blood as would be taken out by one leech, but then their horrible acrimony, which leaves a wreck behind in the place where they have banqueted, inspires the utmost indignation and appears to be an indefensible prolongation of the outrage of the original bite.

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Camp Randolph—Cannon practice—Volunteers—”Dixie “—Forced return from the South—Apathy of the North—General retrospect of politics—Energy and earnestness of the South—Fire-arms— Position of Great Britain towards the belligerents—Feeling towards the Old Country.

June 18th. On looking out of my cabin window this morning I found the steamer fast alongside a small wharf, above which rose, to the height of 150 feet, at an angle of 45 degrees, the rugged bluff already mentioned. The wharf was covered with commissariat stores and ammunition. Three heavy guns, which some men were endeavouring to sling to rude bullock-carts, in a manner defiant of all the laws of gravitation, seemed likely to go slap into the water at every moment; but of the many great strapping fellows who were lounging about, not one gave a hand to the working party. A dusty track wound up the hill to the brow, and there disappeared; and at the height of fifty feet or so above the level of the river two earthworks had been rudely erected in an ineffective position. The volunteers who were lounging about the edge of the stream were dressed in different ways, and had no uniform.

Already the heat of the sun compelled me to seek the shade; and a number of the soldiers, labouring under the same infatuation as that which induces little boys to disport themselves in the Thames at Waterloo Bridge, under the notion that they are washing themselves, were swimming about in a backwater of the great river, regardless of cat-fish, mud, and fever.

General Pillow proceeded on shore after breakfast, and we mounted the coarse cart-horse chargers which were in waiting at the jetty to receive us. It is scarcely worth while to transcribe from my diary a description of the works which I sent over at the time to England. Certainly, a more extraordinary maze could not be conceived, even in the dreams of a sick engineer—a number of mad beavers might possibly construct such dams. They were so ingeniously made as to prevent the troops engaged in their defence from resisting the enemy’s attacks, or getting away from them when the assailants had got inside—most difficult and troublesome to defend, and still more difficult for the defenders to leave, the latter perhaps being their chief merit.

The General ordered some practice to be made with round shot down the river. An old forty-two pound carronade was loaded with some difficulty, and pointed at a tree about 1700 yards—which I was told, however, was not less than 2500 yards— distant. The General and his staff took their posts on the parapet to leeward, and I ventured to say, “I think, General, the smoke will prevent your seeing the shot.” To which the General replied, “No, sir,” in a tone which indicated, “I beg you to understand I have been wounded in Mexico, and know all about this kind of thing.” “Fire,” the string was pulled, and out of the touch-hole popped a piece of metal with a little chirrup. “Darn these friction tubes! I prefer the linstock and match,” quoth one of the staff, sotto voce, “but General Pillow will have us use friction tubes made at Memphis, that ar’nt worth a cuss.” Tube No. 2, however, did explode, but where the ball went no one could say, as the smoke drifted right into our eyes.

The General then moved to the other side of the gun, which was fired a third time, the shot falling short in good line, but without any ricochet. Gun No. 3 was next fired. Off went the ball down the river, but off went the gun, too, and with a frantic leap it jumped, carriage and all, clean off the platform. Nor was it at all wonderful, for the poor old-fashioned chamber cannonade had been loaded with a charge and a solid shot heavy enough to make it burst with indignation. Most of us felt relieved when the firing was over, and, for my own part, I would much rather have been close to the target than to the battery.

Slowly winding for some distance up the steep road in a blazing sun, we proceeded through the tents which are scattered in small groups, for health’s sake, fifteen and twenty together, on the wooded plateau above the river. The tents are of the small ridge-pole pattern, six men to each, many of whom, from their exposure to the sun, whilst working in these trenches, and from the badness of the water, had already been laid up with illness. As a proof of General Pillow’s energy, it is only fair to say he is constructing, on the very summit of the plateau, large cisterns, which will be filled with water from the river by steam power.

The volunteers were mostly engaged at drill in distinct companies, but by order of the General some 700 or 800 of them were formed into line for inspection. Many of these men were in their shirt sleeves, and the awkwardness with which they handled their arms showed that, however good they might be as shots, they were bad hands at manual platoon exercise; but such great strapping fellows, that, as I walked down the ranks there were few whose shoulders were not above the level of my head, excepting here and there a weedy old man or a growing lad. They were armed with old pattern percussion muskets, no two clad alike, many very badly shod, few with knapsacks, but all provided with a tin water-flask and a blanket. These men have been only five weeks enrolled, and were called out by the State of Tennessee, in anticipation of the vote of secession.

I could get no exact details as to the supply of food, but from the Quartermaster-General I heard that each man had from ¾ lb. to 1¼ lb. of meat, and a sufficiency of bread, sugar, coffee, and rice daily; however, these military Olivers “asked for more.” Neither whisky nor tobacco was served out to them, which to such heavy consumers of both, must prove one source of dissatisfaction. The officers were plain, farmerly planters, merchants, lawyers, and the like—energetic, determined men, but utterly ignorant of the most rudimentary parts of military science. It is this want of knowledge on the part of the officer which renders it so difficult to arrive at a tolerable condition of discipline among volunteers, as the privates are quite well aware they know as much of soldiering as the great majority of their officers.

Having gone down the lines of these motley companies, the General addressed them in a harangue in which he expatiated on their patriotism, on their courage, and the atrocity of the enemy, in an odd farrago of military and political subjects. But the only matter which appeared to interest them much was the announcement that they would be released from work in another day or so, and that negroes would be sent to perform all that was required. This announcement was received with the words, “Bully for us !” and “That’s good.” And when General Pillow wound up a florid peroration by assuring them, “When the hour of danger comes I will be with you,” the effect was by no means equal to his expectations. The men did not seem to care much whether General Pillow was with them or not at that eventful moment; and, indeed, all dusty as he was in his plain clothes he did not look very imposing, or give one an idea that he would contribute much to the means of resistance. However, one of the officers called out, “Boys, three cheers for General Pillow.”

What they may do in the North I know not, but certainly the Southern soldiers cannot cheer, and what passes muster for that jubilant sound is a shrill ringing scream with a touch of the Indian war-whoop in it. As these cries ended, a stentorian voice shouted out, “Who cares for General Pillow?” No one answered; whence I inferred the General would not be very popular until the niggers were actually at work in the trenches.

We returned to the steamer, headed up stream and proceeded onwards for more than an hour, to another landing, protected by a battery, where we disembarked, the General being received by a guard dressed in uniform, who turned out with some appearance of soldierly smartness. On my remarking the difference to the General, he told me the corps encamped at this point was composed of gentlemen planters, and farmers. They had all clad themselves, and consisted of some of the best families in the State of Tennessee.

As we walked down the gangway to the shore, the band on the upper deck struck up, out of compliment to the English element in the party, the unaccustomed strains of “God save the Queen;” and I am not quite sure that the loyalty which induced me to stand in the sun, with uncovered head, till the musicians were good enough to desist, was appreciated. Certainly a gentleman, who asked me why I did so, looked very incredulous, and said “That he could understand it if it had been in a church; but that he would not broil his skull in the sun, not if General Washington was standing just before him.” The General gave orders to exercise the battery at this point, and a working party was told off to firing drill. ‘Twas fully six minutes between the giving of the orders and the first gun being ready.

On the word “fire” being given, the gunner pulled the lanyard, but the tube did not explode; a second tube was inserted, but a strong jerk pulled it out without exploding; a third time one of the General’s fuses was applied, which gave way to the pull, and was broken in two; a fourth time was more successful—the gun exploded, and the shot fell short and under the mark—in fact, nothing could be worse than the artillery practice which I saw here, and a fleet of vessels coming down the river might, in the present state of the garrisons, escape unhurt.

There are no disparts, tangents, or elevating screws to the gun, which are laid by eye and wooden chocks. I could see no shells in the battery, but was told there were some in the magazine.

Altogether, though Randolph’s Point and Fort Pillow afford strong positions, in the present state of the service, and equipment of guns and works, gunboats could run past them without serious loss, and, as the river falls, the fire of the batteries will be even less effective.

On returning to the boats the band struck up “The Marseillaise” and “Dixie’s Land.” There are two explanations of the word Dixie—one is that it is the general term for the Slave States, which are, of course, south of Mason and Dixon’s line; another, that a planter named Dixie, died long ago, to the intense grief of his animated property. Whether they were ill-treated after he died, and thus had reason to regret his loss, or that they had merely a longing in the abstract after Heaven, no fact known to me can determine; but certain it is that they long much after Dixie, in the land to which his spirit was supposed by them to have departed, and console themselves in their sorrow by clamorous wishes to follow their master, where probably the revered spirit would be much surprised to find himself in their company. The song is the work of the negro melodists of New York.

In the afternoon we returned to Memphis. Here I was obliged to cut short my Southern tour, though I would willingly have stayed, to have seen the most remarkable social and political changes the world has probably ever witnessed. The necessity of my position obliged me to return northwards—unless I could write, there was no use in my being on the spot at all. By this time the Federal fleets have succeeded in closing the ports, if not effectually, so far as to render the carriage of letters precarious, and the route must be at best devious and uncertain.

Mr. Jefferson Davis was, I was assured, prepared to give me every facility at Richmond to enable me to know and to see all that was most interesting in the military and political action of the New Confederacy; but of what use could this knowledge be if I could not communicate it to the journal I served?

I had left the North when it was suffering from a political paralysis, and was in a state of coma in which it appeared conscious of the coming convulsion but unable to avert it. The sole sign of life in the body corporate was some feeble twitching of the limbs at Washington, when the district militia were called out, whilst Mr. Seward descanted on the merits of the Inaugural, and believed that the anger of the South was a short madness, which would be cured by a mild application of philosophical essays.

The politicians, who were urging in the most forcible manner the complete vindication of the rights of the Union, were engaged, when I left them arguing, that the Union had no rights at all as opposed to those of the States. Men who had heard with nods of approval of the ordinance of secession passed by State after State were now shrieking out, “Slay the traitors!”

The printed rags which had been deriding the President as the great “rail splitter,” and his Cabinet as a collection of ignoble fanatics, were now heading the popular rush, and calling out to the country to support Mr. Lincoln and his Ministry, and were menacing with war the foreign States which dared to stand neutral in the quarrel. The declaration of Lord John Russell that the Southern Confederacy should have limited belligerent rights had at first created a thrill of exultation in the South, because the politicians believed that in this concession was contained the principle of recognition; while it had stung to fury the people of the North, to whom it seemed the first warning of the coming disunion.

Much, therefore, as I desired to go to Richmond, where I was urged to repair by many considerations, and by the earnest appeals of those around me, I felt it would be impossible, notwithstanding the interest attached to the proceedings there, to perform my duties in a place cut off from all communication with the outer world; and so I decided to proceed, to Chicago, and thence to Washington, where the Federals had assembled a large army, with the purpose of marching upon Richmond, in obedience to the cry of nearly every journal of influence in the Northern cities.

My resolution was mainly formed in consequence of the intelligence which was communicated to me at Memphis, and I told General Pillow that I would continue my journey to Cairo, in order to get within the Federal lines. As the river was blockaded, the only means of doing so was to proceed by rail to Columbus, and thence to take a steamer to the Federal position; and so, whilst the General was continuing his inspection, I rode to the telegraph office, in one of the camps, to order my luggage to be prepared for departure as soon as I arrived, and thence went on board the steamer, where I sat down in the cabin to write my last despatch from Dixie.

So far I had certainly no reason to agree with Mr. Seward in thinking this rebellion was the result of a localised energetic action on the part of a fierce minority in the seceding States, and that there was in each a large, if inert, mass opposed to secession, which would rally round the Stars and Stripes the instant they were displayed in their sight. On the contrary, I met everywhere with but one feeling, with exceptions which proved its unanimity and its force. To a man the people went with their States, and had but one battle cry, “States’ rights, and death to those who make war against them!”

Day after day I had seen this feeling intensified by the accounts which came from the North of a fixed determination to maintain the war; and day after day, I am bound to add, the impression on my mind was strengthened that “States’ rights” meant protection to slavery, extension of slave territory, and free-trade in slave produce with the outer world; nor was it any argument against the conclusion that the popular passion gave vent to the most vehement outcries against Yankees, abolitionists, German mercenaries, and modern invasion. I was fully satisfied in my mind also that the population of the South, who had taken up arms, were so convinced of the righteousness of their cause, and so competent to vindicate it, that they would fight with the utmost energy and valour in its defence and successful establishment.

The saloon in which I was sitting afforded abundant evidence of the vigour with which the South are entering upon the contest. Men of every variety and condition of life had taken up arms against the cursed Yankee and the black Republican—there was not a man there who would not have given his life for the rare pleasure of striking Mr. Lincoln’s head off his shoulders, and yet to a cold European the scene was almost ludicrous.

Along the covered deck lay tall Tennesseans, asleep, whose plumed felt hats were generally the only indications of their martial calling, for few indeed had any other signs of uniform, except the rare volunteers, who wore stripes of red and yellow cloth on their trousers, or leaden buttons, and discoloured worsted braid and facings on their jackets. The afterpart of the saloon deck was appropriated to General Pillow, his staff, and officers. The approach to it was guarded by a sentry, a tall, good-looking young fellow, in a grey flannel shirt, grey trousers, fastened with a belt and a brass buckle, inscribed U.S., which came from some plundered Federal arsenal, and a black wide-awake hat, decorated with a green plume. His Enfield rifle lay beside him on the deck, and, with great interest expressed on his face, he leant forward in his rocking-chair to watch the varying features of a party squatted on the floor, who were employed in the national game of “Euchre.” As he raised his eyes to examine the condition of the cigar he was smoking, he caught sight of me, and by the simple expedient of holding his leg across my chest, and calling out, “Hallo! where are you going to?” brought me to a standstill—whilst his captain, who was one of the happy euchreists, exclaimed, “Now, Sam, you let nobody go in there.”

I was obliged to explain who I was, whereupon the sentry started to his feet, and said, “Oh! indeed, you are Russell that’s been in that war with the Rooshians. Well, I’m very much pleased to know you. I shall be off sentry in a few minutes; I’ll just ask you to tell me something about that fighting.” He held out his hand, and shook mine warmly as he spoke. There was not the smallest intention to offend in his manner; but, sitting down again, he nodded to the captain, and said, “It’s all right; it’s Pillow’s friend— that’s Russell of the London Times.” The game of euchre was continued—and indeed it had been perhaps all night — for my last recollection on looking out of my cabin was of a number of people playing cards on the floor and on the tables all down the saloon, and of shouts of “Eu-kerr !” “Ten dollars, you don’t!” “I’ll lay twenty on this!” and so on; and with breakfast the sport seemed to be fully revived.

There would have been much more animation in the game, no doubt, had the bar on board the Ingomar been opened; but the intelligent gentleman who presided inside had been restricted by General Pillow in his avocations; and when numerous thirsty souls from the camps came on board, with dry tongues and husky voices, and asked for “mint juleps,” “brandy smashes,” or “whisky cocktails,” he seemed to take a saturnine pleasure by saying, “The General won’t allow no spirit on board, but I can give you a nice drink of Pillow’s own iced Mississippi water,” an announcement which generally caused infinite disgust and some unhandsome wishes respecting the General’s future happiness.

By and bye, a number of sick men were brought down on litters, and placed here and there along the deck. As there was a considerable misunderstanding between the civilian and military doctors, it appeared to be understood that the best way of arranging it was not to attend to the sick at all, and unfortunate men suffering from fever and dysentery were left to roll and groan, and lie on their stretchers, without a soul to help them. I had a medicine chest on board, and I ventured to use the lessons of my experience in such matters, administered my quinine, James’s Powder, calomel, and opium, secundum meant artem, and nothing could be more grateful than the poor fellows were for the smallest mark of attention. “Stranger, remember, if I die,” gasped one great fellow, attenuated to a skeleton by dysentery, “That I am Robert Tallon, of Tishimingo county, and that I died for States’ rights; see, now, they put that in the papers, won’t you? Robert Tallon died for States’ rights,” and so he turned round on his blanket.

Presently the General came on board, and the Ingomar proceeded on her way back to Memphis. General Clarke, to whom I mentioned the great neglect from which the soldiers were suffering, told me he was afraid the men had no medical attendance in camp. All the doctors, in fact, wanted to fight, and as they were educated men, and generally connected with respectable families, or had political influence in the State, they aspired to be colonels at the very least, and to wield the sword instead of the scalpel.

Next to the medical department, the commissariat and transport were most deficient; but by constant courts-martial, stoppages of pay, and severe sentences, he hoped these evils would be eventually somewhat mitigated. As one who had received a regular military education, General Clarke was probably shocked by volunteer irregularities; and in such matters as guard-mounting, reliefs, patrols, and picket-duties, he declared they were enough to break one’s heart; but I was astonished to hear from him that the Germans were by far the worst of the five thousand troops under his command, of whom they formed more than a fifth.

Whilst we were conversing, the captain of the steamer invited us to come up into his cabin on the upper deck; and as railway conductors, steamboat captains, barkeepers, hotel-clerks, and telegraph officers are among the natural aristocracy of the land, we could not disobey the invitation, which led to the consumption of some of the captain’s private stores, and many warm professions of political faith.

The captain told me it was rough work abroad sometimes with “sports” and chaps of that kind; but “God bless you,” said he, “the river now is not what it used to be a few years ago, when we’d have three or four difficulties of an afternoon, and may-be now and then a regular free fight all up and down the decks, that would last a couple of hours, so that when we came to a town we would have to send for all the doctors twenty miles round, and may-be some of them would die in spite of that. It was the rowdies used to get these fights up; but we’ve put them pretty well down. The citizens have hunted them out, and they’s gone away west.” “Well, then, captain, one’s life was not very safe on board sometimes.” “Safe! Lord bless you!” said the captain; “if you did not meddle, just as safe as you are now, if the boiler don’t collapse. You must, in course, know how to handle your weepins, and be pretty spry in taking your own part.” “Ho, you Bill!” to his coloured servant, “open that clothes-press.” “Now, here,” he continued, “is how I travel; so that I am always easy in my mind in case of trouble on board.” Putting his hand under the pillow of the bed close beside him, he pulled out a formidable looking double-barrelled pistol at half-cock, with the caps upon it. “That’s as purty a pistol as Derringer ever made. I’ve got the brace of them—here’s the other;” and with that he whipped out pistol No. 2, in an equal state of forwardness, from a little shelf over his bed; and then going over to the clothes-press, he said, “Here’s a real old Kentuck, one of the old sort, as light on the trigger as gossamer, and sure as deeth— Why, law bless me, a child would cut a turkey’s head off with it at a hundred yards.” This was a huge lump of iron, about five feet long, with a small hole bored down the centre, fitted in a coarse German-fashioned stock. “But,” continued he, this is my main dependence; here is a regular beauty, a first-rate, with ball or buckshot, or whatever you like — made in London; I gave two hundred dollars for it; and it is so short and handy and straight shooting, I’d just as soon part with my life as let it go to anybody” and, with a glow of pride in his face, the captain handed round again a very short double-barrelled gun, of some eleven or twelve bore, with back action locks, and an audacious “Joseph Manton, London,” stamped on the plate. The manner of the man was perfectly simple and bond fide; very much as if Inspector Podger were revealing to a simpleton the mode by which the London police managed refractory characters in the station-house.

From such matters as these I was diverted by the more serious subject of the attitude taken by England in this quarrel. The concession of belligerent rights was, I found, misunderstood, and was considered as an admission that the Southern States had established their independence before they had done more than declare their intention to fight for it.

It is not within my power to determine whether the North is as unfair to Great Britain as the South; but I fear the history of the people, and the tendency of their institutions, are adverse to any hope of fair-play and justice to the old country. And yet it is the only power in Europe for the good opinion of which they really seem to care. Let any French, Austrian, or Russian journal write what it pleases of the United States, it is received with indifferent criticism or callous head-shaking. But let a London paper speak, and the whole American press is delighted or furious.

The political sentiment quite overrides all other feelings; and it is the only symptom statesmen should care about, as it guides the policy of the country. If a man can put faith in the influence for peace of common interests, of common origin, common intentions, with the spectacle of this incipient war before his eyes, he must be incapable of appreciating the consequences which follow from man being an animal. A war between England and the United States would be unnatural; but it would not be nearly so unnatural now as it was when it was actually waged in 1776 between people who were barely separated from each other by a single generation; or in 1812-14, when the foreign immigration had done comparatively little to dilute the Anglo-Saxon blood. The Norman of Hampshire and Sussex did not care much for the ties of consanguinity and race when he followed his lord in fee to ravage Guienne or Brittany.

The general result of my intercourse with Americans is to produce the notion that they consider Great Britain in a state of corruption and decay, and eagerly seek to exalt France at her expense. Their language is the sole link between England and the United States, and it only binds the England of 1770 to the American of 1860.

There is scarcely an American on either side of Mason and Dixon’s line who does not religiously believe that the colonies, alone and single-handed, encountered the whole undivided force of Great Britain in the revolution, and defeated it. I mean, of course, the vast mass of the people; and I do not think there is an orator or a writer who would venture to tell them the truth on the subject. Again, they firmly believe that their petty frigate engagements established as complete a naval ascendancy over Great Britain as the latter obtained by her great encounters with the fleets of France and Spain. Their reverses, defeats, and headlong routs in the first war, their reverses in the second, are covered over by a huge Buncombe plaster, made up of Bunker’s Hill, Plattsburg, Baltimore, and New Orleans.

Their delusions are increased and solidified by the extraordinary text-books of so-called history, and by the feasts, and festivals, and celebrations of their every-day political life, in all of which we pass through imaginary Caudine Forks; and they entertain towards the old country at best very much the feeling which a high-spirited young man would feel towards the guardian who, when he had come of age, and was free from all control, sought to restrain the passions of his early life.

Now I could not refuse to believe that in New Orleans, Montgomery, Mobile, Jackson, and Memphis there is a reckless and violent condition of society, unfavourable to civilisation, and but little hopeful for the future. The most absolute and despotic rule, under which a man’s life and property are safe, is better than the largest measure of democratic freedom, which deprives the freeman of any security for either. The state of legal protection for the most serious interests of man, considered as a civilised and social creature, which prevails in America, could not be tolerated for an instant, and would generate a revolution in the worst governed country in Europe. I would much sooner, as the accidental victim of a generally disorganized police, be plundered by a chance diligence robber in Mexico, or have a fair fight with a Greek Klepht, suffer from Italian banditti, or be garotted by a London ticket-of-leave man, than be bowie-knifed or revolvered in consequence of a political or personal difference with a man, who is certain not in the least degree to suffer from an accidental success in his argument.

On our return to the hotel I dined with the General and his staff at the public table, where there was a large assemblage of military men, Southern ladies, their families, and contractors. This latter race has risen up as if by magic, to meet the wants of the new Confederacy; and it is significant to measure the amount of the dependence on Northern manufacturers by the advertisements in the Southern journals, indicating the creation of new branches of workmanship, mechanical science, and manufacturing skill.

Hitherto they have been dependent on the North for the very necessaries of their industrial life. These States were so intent on gathering in money for their produce, expending it luxuriously, and paying it out for Northern labour, that they found themselves suddenly in the condition of a child brought up by hand, whose nurse and mother have left it on the steps of the poor-house. But they have certainly essayed to remedy the evil and are endeavouring to make steam-engines, gunpowder, lamps, clothes, boots, railway carriages, steel springs, glass, and all the smaller articles for which even Southern households find a necessity.

The peculiar character of this contest developes itself in a manner almost incomprehensible to a stranger who has been accustomed to regard the United States as a nation. Here is General Pillow, for example, in the State of Tennessee, commanding the forces of the State, which, in effect, belongs to the Southern Confederacy; but he tells me that he cannot venture to move across a certain geographical line, dividing Tennessee from Kentucky, because the State of Kentucky, in the exercise of its sovereign powers and rights, which the Southern States are bound specially to respect, in virtue of their championship of States’ rights, has, like the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, declared it will be neutral in the struggle; and Beriah Magoffin, Governor of the aforesaid State, has warned off Federal and Confederate troops from his territory.

General Pillow is particularly indignant with the cowardice of the well-known Secessionists of Kentucky; but I think he is rather more annoyed by the accumulation of Federal troops at Cairo, and their recent expedition to Columbus on the Kentucky shore, a little below them, where they seized a Confederate nag.

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JUNE 18TH.—The city is content at the evacuation. The people have unbounded confidence in the wisdom of the administration, and the ability of our generals. Beauregard is the especial favorite. The soldiers, now arming daily, are eager for the fray; and it is understood a great battle must come off before many weeks; as it is the determination of the enemy to advance from the vicinity of Washington, where they are rapidly concentrating. But our people must curb their impatience. And yet we dare not make known the condition of the army,—the awful fact which may be stated here—and will not be known until after-years,—that we have not enough ammunition at Manassas to fight a battle. There are not percussion caps enough in our army for a serious skirmish. It will be obviated in a few weeks; and until then I pray there may be no battle. But if the enemy advance, our brave men will give them the cold steel. We must win the first battle at all hazards, and at any cost; and, after that,—how long after? —we must win the last!

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TUESDAY, JUNE 18, 1861.

Weather fine but a good deal of excitement on account of a fight over the River at a little Station on the RR called Vienna. Our troops ran into a trap on a train of cars (under a Masked Battery). Lost a number of men (Ohio Regt). Large bodies of troops are expected to move to Fairfax C.H. by tomorrow. The C.S.A. troops must fight or back out as they did at Harpers Ferry. 12th Regt Reviewed by Sec’y of War this afternoon. Was down at “Willards,” quite a crowd there.

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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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18th.—We go to-day to dine with Bishop Meade. He wishes us to spend much of our time with him. He says he must have the “refugees,” as he calls us, at his house. Dear me, I am not yet prepared to think ourselves refugees, for I do hope to get home before long. How often do I think of it, as I left it! Not only blooming in its beauty, but the garden filled with vegetables, the strawberries turning on the vines, the young peach-orchard in full bloom; every thing teeming with comfort and abundance.

But the family is waiting for me ; the carriage is at the door, and my sad thoughts must end.

Night.—The day was passed delightfully; the Bishop, his son, and daughter-in-law, all so kind, hospitable and agreeable. It amused me to see with what avidity the old gentleman watches the progress of events, particularly when I remember how much opposed he was to secession only a few months ago. He clung to the Union with a whole-souled love for all that he had been educated to revere, as long as he could do it; but when every proposal for peace made by us was spurned, and when the President’s proclamation came out, calling for 75,000 troops, and claiming Virginia’s quota to assist in fighting her Southern brethren, he could stand it no longer, and I only hope that the revolution may be as thorough throughout the land as it is in his great mind.

“Mountain View” is beautiful by nature, and the Bishop has been collecting exotic trees and shrubs for many years, and now his collection is perfectly magnificent. This country is so far very peaceful, but we are constantly subjected to the most startling rumours, and the frequent, though distant, booming of cannon is very trying to our nervous and excitable temperaments. Many, so many, of our dear ones are constantly exposed to danger; and though we would not have it otherwise—we could not bear that one of them should hesitate to give his life’s-blood to his country—yet it is heart-breaking to think of what may happen.

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Boston, June 18, 1861

Before this reaches you, you will have heard of the miserable affair at Great Bethel which has made so much noise here. You see a Quincy man was killed — young Souther, a brother of our one-armed friend. Our flags out there were hung at half mast for a day and loud swearing, there as elsewhere, was heard at and about Brigadier General Peirce. It was a bad affair and John Palfrey writes that two companies of regulars would have carried the battery with ease, but this is the beginning of our militia generalship and, alas, that this should have been a Massachusetts man. In fact our good old State, which began this war so well, is likely after going up like a rocket to come down like a stick, and she is now rapidly falling behindhand. While other states have sent out from one to twenty regiments of three year men, she has sent out her first only last week and that one under the command of Colonel Cowdin, a notorious incompetent. In fact Gordon’s regiment is the only decent one, so far as I can hear, yet organized in Massachusetts and the others are so wretchedly officered and so thoroughly demoralized already that it will be almost a miracle if the State is not soon disgraced. In fact Andrew does not show that capacity which he gave promise of and his selections of men so far have, I should say, been wretched. I hope the next batch from here which will probably be called for and organized in July and August will show an improvement, and that we shall then send out some superior men, those whom we are now sending out having previously demonstrated their incompetence. . . .

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St. Joseph, June 18, 1861.1

Col Curtis ―

Dear Sir: The undersigned, citizens of Missouri, fully aware of the delicate duties enjoined upon you, as the military commander of this post, and feeling a deep solicitude for the preservation of as much peace and quietness among the people in the surrounding country, as the extraordinary circumstances which environ us will allow and in further view of the arrests already made by you; and that the public mind is greatly excited. Men have left their homes, business of every character is paralized and apprehensions entertained that the arrests made by you, in discharge of your military duty are to be indiscriminate and against those who entertain southern sentiments, as well as those found in armed organization against the Government of the United States. We, therefore, respectfully ask that you will communicate to us your views upon this subject; hoping and believing that it will have the effect of quieting the public mind, and allow the farmers to return to their homes, and quietly attend to their farms and gather their harvest which is now ripe and suffering for the want of reapers.

We have the honor to be.

Very Respectfully,
Austin A. King
Silas Woodson
J. M. Bassett,
H. M. Vories,
Jas. Craig
R. M. Stewart


1. Printed in the St. Joseph Daily Journal. June 22, 1861.

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Secretary af the Treasury, Washington, D. C.

New York, June 18, 1861.

My Dear Sir,—I have the pleasure of handing you inclosed copies of the decrees of the Emperor Napoleon, and of the report of his Minister of Finance, relative to the last national loan of five hundred millions of francs, issued during the last Crimean war.

You will see, thereby, that the subscription was open in all the departments of France for a fortnight at 92 per cent. for 4½ per cent. stock, and 65 25/100 per cent. for 3 per cent. stock, which was about one to one and three-quarters per cent. lower than the stock was quoted on that day in Paris, say 93 per cent. for the 4½ per cent., and 67 25/100 per cent. for the three per cent. Rentes.

The subscription amounted to two billion one hundred and seventyfive million francs, that is to say, more than four times as much as was required; and the amount required was more than filled up by subscriptions of under five hundred francs, Rentes, say about twelve to fifteen thousand francs capital, so that the large subscribers got nothing.

This loan was issued in the midst of the Crimean war, and nine months only after a similar loan of two hundred and fifty millions, which had been taken in the same proportions. You will also see that a sinking fund is attached to this loan.

If our brave army is, as I trust and hope, victorious in its engagements with the rebels in Virginia, there will be no difficulty in negotiating large amounts of Federal stock here and in Europe.

The elastic-energy of the American people makes them desirous to get quickly through their troubles, and I have no doubt that a vigorous prosecution of the war, and a consequent demand for larger appropriations, will be well received by the people.

My last letter from Paris states : “All uneasiness of hostilities in Europe during the present year appear to have disappeared. Our bank is amply supplied with bullion, and the subscription, which has just closed, to an issue of two hundred and forty million francs railway bonds, has so enormously exceeded the amount as to prove to excess that there is plenty of money here which seeks suitable investments.”

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