New York, June 18, 1861.

As far as it lies in my power, I shall continue to give you the most accurate information of the march of events here. I have already expressed to you, repeatedly, my conviction, that unless aided by the moral support of France and England the Southern rebellion has no chance of success, and must be completely overcome.

General Scott is perfectly confident that by next spring he will have conquered a peace. My short visit to Washington, and the interviews which I had there with the different members of the administration, convince me more and more that the government is determined to carry on the war with the utmost vigor. From what Mr. Seward told me, it would seem that France will act jointly with England in its policy during the present war. I regret this for the reasons which I have already given to you.

England has, by her unfriendly position, lost the good-will of our people and government, who both look, more than ever now, to their old ally, France, and to the sympathy of the Emperor.

The time for his mediation may sooner or later come, and great commercial advantages can be secured by France by holding, for the present, at least, aloof.

It is stated that your government will allow the Southern privateers to run in for supplies, and remain with their prizes twenty-four hours in the French ports. This is very much to be regretted, and I hope, still, that the great powers of Europe will accept the adhesion of our government to the declarations of the Congress of Paris annulling privateering. All the maritime powers would then have outlawed that barbarous mode of warfare, and the ports of France would, of course, remain closed to Jeff. Davis’s privateers.

One of them was captured a few days ago by the United States brig Perry, and her crew are now in irons on board the United States steamer Minnesota. They will be tried as pirates, and if not hung, undoubtedly sentenced to hard labor.

The evacuation of Harper’s Ferry, which was, at first, construed into an attempted attack upon Washington, seems to have been forced upon the rebel troops, who were afraid of having their retreat cut off. They will now concentrate at Manassas Junction, hoping, probably, to get General Scott to attack them there, in the strong intrenchments which they have constructed. That veteran hero is, however, too wise to be led into such a mistake. He knows that they are short of provisions, that the place does not give them a sufficient supply of water, and that, consequently, they will soon be obliged to fall back toward Richmond.

In the mean while the divisions under Generals McClellan and Patterson will come down from the West and Northwest and outflank them, unless they retreat. General Scott is confident of being in Richmond by the end of July.

During my short visit to Washington I saw a good many of our officers and soldiers. The most excellent spirit pervades our whole army. Our troops in Virginia behave with exemplary order, and are gaining the good-will of the inhabitants by the respect they show for all public and private property. Their conduct stands in beautiful contrast with that of the secession troops, who have destroyed about two million dollars’ worth of property around Harper’s Ferry, and who compel the Virginia farmers to sell them provisions against valueless paper of the Confederacy. This state of things ought soon to produce a healthy reaction in the sentiments of the Virginia people.

The election for Members of Congress in Maryland has resulted in the defeat of the whole secession ticket by handsome majorities, yet that State was claimed as hostile to the Union.



New York, June 18, 1861

While I was in Washington I had a two hours’ interview with our Secretary of State. Mr. Seward is clear in the position which he has taken with reference to the rebellion and the attitude into which the recognition of the Southern Confederacy, by any European government, will place the United States.

In that position the people will uphold our government at all hazards. There is no irritation of feeling on the part of the intelligent portion of our people against England, our papers, with one or two exceptions, treat the question very dispassionately, but there is a firm and unalterable determination not to allow a separation of this Union, whatever blood and treasure it may cost to conquer a peace and a reconstruction of the Confederacy.


—Gen. Lyon issued another proclamation to the people of Missouri from his camp at Booneville. He released the prisoners taken in the late engagement, in consideration of their youth and of the deceit that had been practised upon them, simply requiring their pledge not again to bear arms against the United States. His proclamation warned all persons against presuming upon a like clemency in future, as the continuance of treason would certainly render harsh measures necessary.—(Doc. 280.)

—The Federal force at Hagerstown and Williamsport, Md., comprise the Pennsylvania 1st, 2d, 3d, 7th, 11th, 13th, and 24th Regiments, together with the First Rhode Island Regiment, two Regiments of United States Regulars, and seven hundred United States Cavalry. Included in this formidable body are Capt. Doubleday’s corps and McMullen’s Company of Philadelphia Rovers. The portion of the force which forded the river at Williamsport were under command of Gen. Thomas, and comprised the two regiments of regulars and about six hundred of the Rhode Islanders. The men waded through the stream generally up to their hips in water, and occasionally up to their arms. Their passage on the occasion is said to have been a very imposing and spirited spectacle. The men dashed into the stream singing “Dixie” and other popular camp airs with great vim and enthusiasm. —National Intelligencer, June 20.

—Near Conrad’s Ferry, Maryland, the rebels practised upon the Federal troops from the opposite side of the Potomac with three or four 6-pounders. Their fire was returned from the rifle pieces of some twenty picked marksmen, who in the course of their firing brought down one of the enemy’s gunners. The distance across is so great, however, that even rifled muskets are of little avail except by chance shots.—N. Y. Evening Post, June 18.

—The Twenty-Seventh Pennsylvania Regiment (mostly Germans,) Colonel Einstein, about one thousand strong, passed through Baltimore, Md., on the route to the seat of war. They are well armed and equipped, and have entered the service with the spirit of true soldiers. Whilst at Camden, opposite Philadelphia, where they encamped for some time, they were treated with great kindness by the people of that city.—(Doc. 261.)

—A balloon ascension for military purposes took place at Washington. The elevation attained was not very great, though it was perfectly satisfactory as an experiment. The aeronauts were Prof. Lowe, Gen. Burns, of the

Telegraph Company, and H. C. Robinson, operator. The balloon was connected with the War Department by telegraph. The first message ever telegraphed from a balloon was then sent to the President of the United States by Prof. Lowe. It was as follows:

Baloon Enterprise, Washington, June 17.

To The President of the United States:

Sir:—This point of observation commands an area nearly fifty miles in diameter. The city, with its girdle of encampments, presents a superb scene. I take great pleasure in sending you this first despatch ever telegraphed from an aerial station, and in acknowledging my indebtedness to your encouragement for the opportunity of demonstrating the availability of the science of aeronautics in the military service of the country.

Yours respectfully,
T. S. C. Lowe.

—An official order from the Duke of Newcastle, forbidding privateers to enter the ports of Canada, was published in the Montreal (Canada) papers.—(Doc. 262.)

—The Fourteenth Regiment N. Y. S. V. passed through New York City en route for the Seat of War.—The Eighteenth Regiment N. Y. Volunteers left Albany.—(Doc. 268.)

—Capt. Budd, commanding the United States steamer Resolute, arrived at Washington, bringing as a prize the schooner Buena Vista, seized in the St. Mary’s River. He captured two other vessels—namely, the schooner Bachelor and the sloop H. Day. The former had disregarded a warning given several days ago, and had deceived Captain Rowan by false statements, and was found on the Maryland side, opposite Matthias Point, at a place where it was convenient for crossing. They belonged to the same owner. —N. Y. Commercial Advertiser, June 19.


June 17th. If it was any consolation tome that the very noisy and very turbulent warriors of last night were exceedingly sick, dejected, and crestfallen this morning, I had it to the full. Their cries for water were incessant to allay the internal fires caused by “40 rod” and “60 rod,” as whiskey is called, which is supposed to kill people at those distances. Their officers had no control over them—and the only authority they seemed to respect was that of the ” gentlemanly” conductor whom they were accustomed to fear individually, as he is a great man in America and has much authority and power to make himself disagreeable if he likes.

The victory at Big or Little Bethel has greatly elated these men, and they think they can walk all over the Northern States. It was a relief to get out of the train for a few minutes at a station called Holly Springs, where the passengers breakfasted at a dirty table on most execrable coffee, corn bread, rancid butter, and very dubious meats, and the wild soldiers outside made the most of their time, as they had recovered from their temporary depression by this time, and got out on the tops of the carriages, over which they performed tumultuous dances to the music of their band, and the great admiration of the surrounding negrodom. Their demeanour is very unlike that of the unexcitable staid people of the North.


There were in the train some Texans who were going to Richmond to offer their services to Mr. Davis. They denounced Sam Houston as a traitor, but admitted there were some Unionists, or as they termed them, Lincolnite skunks, in the State. The real object of their journey was, in my mind, to get assistance from the Southern Confederacy, to put down their enemies in Texas.

In order to conceal from the minds of the people that the government at Washington claims to be that of the United States, the press politicians and speakers divert their attention to the names of Lincoln, Seward, and other black republicans, and class the whole of the North together as the Abolitionists. They call the Federal levies “Lincoln’s mercenaries ” and “abolition hordes,” though their own troops are paid at the same rate as those of the United States. This is a common mode of procedure in revolutions and rebellions, and is not unfrequent in wars.

The enthusiasm for the Southern cause among all the people is most remarkable,—the sight of the flag waving from the carriage windows drew all the population of the hamlets and the workers in the field, black and white, to the side of the carriages to cheer for Jeff. Davis and the Southern Confederacy, and to wave whatever they could lay hold of in the air. The country seems very poorly cultivated, the fields full of stumps of trees, and the plantation houses very indifferent. At every station more “soldiers,” as they are called, got in, till the smell and heat were suffocating.

These men were as fanciful in their names and dress as could be. In the train which preceded us there was a band of volunteers armed with rifled pistols and enormous bowie knives, who called themselves “The Toothpick Company.” They carried along with them a coffin, with a plate inscribed, “Abe Lincoln, died ____,” and declared they were ” bound” to bring his body back in it, and that they did not intend to use muskets or rifles, but just go in with knife and six-shooter, and whip the Yankees straight away. How astonished they will be when the first round shot flies into them, or a cap full of grape rattles about their bowie knives.

At the station of Grand Junction, north of Holly Springs, which latter is 210 miles north of Jackson, several hundreds of our warrior friends were turned out in order to take the train north-westward for Richmond, Virginia. The 1st Company, seventy rank and file, consisted of Irishmen armed with sporting rifles without bayonets. Five-sixths of the 2nd Company, who were armed with muskets, were of the same nationality. The 3rd Company were all Americans. The 4th Company were almost all Irish. Some were in green others were in grey, the Americans who were in blue had not yet received their arms. When the word fix bayonets was given by the officer, a smart keen-looking man, there was an astonishing hurry and tumult in the ranks.

“Now then, Sweeny, whar are yes dhriven me too? Is it out of the redjmint amongst the officers yer shovin’ me?”

“Sullivan, don’t ye hear we’re to fix beenits?”

“Sarjent, jewel, wud yes ayse the shtrap of me baynit?”

“If ye prod me wid that agin, I’ll let dayloite into ye.”

The officer, reading, “No 23, James Phelan.”

No reply.

Officer again, “No. 23, James Phelan.”

Voice from the rank, “Shure, captain, and faix Phelan’s gone, he wint at the last depot.”

“No. 40, Miles Corrigan.”

Voice further on, ” He’s the worse for dhrink in the cars, yer honour, and says he’ll shoot us if we touch him; ” and so on.

But these fellows were, nevertheless, the material for fighting and for marching after proper drill and with good officers, even though there was too large a proportion of old men and young lads in the ranks. To judge from their dress these recruits came from the labouring and poorest classes of whites. The officers affected a French cut and bearing with indifferent success, and in the luggage vans there were three foolish young women with slop-dress imitation clothes of the Vivandière type, who, with dishevelled hair, dirty faces, and dusty hats and jackets, looked sad, sorry, and absurd. Their notions of propriety did not justify them in adopting straps, boots, and trousers, and the rest of the tawdry ill-made costume looked very bad indeed.

The train which still bore a large number of soldiers for the camp of Corinth, proceeded through dreary swamps, stunted forests, and clearings of the rudest kind at very long intervals. We had got out of the cotton district and were entering poorer soil, or land which, when cleared, was devoted to wheat and corn, and I was told that the crops ran from forty to sixty bushels to the acre. A more uninteresting country than this portion of the State of Mississippi I have never witnessed. There was some variety of scenery about Holly Springs where undulating ground covered with wood, diversified the aspect of the flat, but since that we have been travelling through mile after mile of insignificantly grown timber and swamps.

On approaching Memphis the line ascends towards the bluff of the Mississippi, and farms of a better appearance come in sight on the side of the rail; but after all I do not envy the fate of the man who, surrounded by slaves and shut out from the world, has to pass his life in this dismal region, be the crops never so good.

At a station where a stone pillar marks the limit between the sovereign State of Mississippi and that of Tennessee, there was a house two stories high, from the windows of which a number of negro girls and young men were staring on the passengers. Some of them smiled, laughed, and chatted, but the majority of them looked gloomy and sad enough. They were packed as close as they could, and I observed that at the door a very ruffianly looking fellow in a straw hat, long straight hair, flannel shirt, and slippers, was standing with his legs across and a heavy whip in his hand. One of the passengers walked over and chatted to him. They looked in and up at the negroes and laughed, and when the man came near the carriage in which I sat, a friend called out, “Whose are they, Sam?” “He’s a dealer at Jackson, Mr. Smith. They’re as prime a lot of fine Virginny niggers as I’ve seen this long time, and he wants to realise, for the news looks so bad.”

It was 1.40 p.m. when the train arrived at Memphis. I was speedily on my way to the Gayoso House, so called after an old Spanish ruler of the district, which is situated in the street on the bluff, which runs parallel with the course of the Mississippi. This resuscitated Egyptian city is a place of importance, and extends for several miles along the high bank of the river, though it does not run very far back. The streets are at right angles to the principal thoroughfares, which are parallel to the stream; and I by no means expected to see the lofty stores, warehouses, rows of shops, and handsome buildings on the broad esplanade along the river, and the extent and size of the edifices public and private in this city, which is one of the developments of trade and commerce created by the Mississippi. Memphis contains nearly 30,000 inhabitants, but many of them are foreigners, and there is a nomad draft into and out of the place, which abounds in haunts for Bohemians, drinking and dancing-saloons, and gaming-rooms. And this strange kaleidoscope of negroes and whites of the extremes of civilisation in its American development, and of the semi-savage degraded by his contact with the white; of enormous steamers on the river, which bears equally the dug-out or canoe of the black fisherman; the rail, penetrating the inmost recesses of swamps, which on either side of it remain no doubt in the same state as they were centuries ago; the roll of heavily-laden waggons through the streets; the rattle of omnibuses and all the phenomena of active commercial life before our eyes, included in the same scope of vision which takes in at the other side of the Mississippi lands scarcely yet settled, though the march of empire has gone thousands of miles beyond them, amuses but perplexes the traveller in this new land.

The evening was so exceedingly warm that I was glad to remain within the walls of my darkened bedroom. All the six hundred and odd guests whom the Gayoso House is said to accommodate were apparently in the passage at one time. At present it is the headquarters of General Gideon J. Pillow, who is charged with the defences of the Tennessee side of the river, and commands a considerable body of troops around the city and in the works above. The house is consequently filled with men in uniform, belonging to the General’s staff or the various regiments of Tennessee troops.

The Governors and the Legislatures of the States, view with dislike every action on the part of Mr. Davis which tends to form the State troops into a national army. At first, indeed, the doctrine prevailed that troops could not be sent beyond the limits of the State in which they were raised—then it was argued that they ought not to be called upon to move outside their borders; and I have heard people in the South inveighing against the sloth and want of spirit of the Virginians, who allowed their State to be invaded without resisting the enemy. Such complaints were met by the remark that all the Northern States had combined to pour their troops into Virginia, and that her sister States ought in honour to protect her. Finally, the martial enthusiasm of the Southern regiments impelled them to press forward to the frontier, and by delicate management, and the perfect knowledge of his countrymen which Mr. Jefferson Davis possesses, he is now enabled to amalgamate in some sort the diverse individualities of his regiments into something like a national army.

On hearing of my arrival, General Pillow sent his aide-de-camp to inform me that he was about starting in a steamer up the river, to make an inspection of the works and garrison at Fort Randolph and at other points where batteries had been erected to command the stream, supported by large levies of Tennesseans. The aide-de-camp conducted me to the General, whom I found in his bedroom, fitted up as an office, littered with plans and papers. Before the Mexican war General Pillow was a flourishing solicitor, connected in business with President Polk, and commanding so much influence that when the expedition was formed he received the nomination of brigadier-general of volunteers. He served with distinction and was severely wounded at the battle of Chapultepec and at the conclusion of the campaign he retired into civil life, and was engaged directing the work of his plantation till this great rebellion summoned him once more to the field.

Of course there is, and must be, always an inclination to deride these volunteer officers on the part of regular soldiers; and I was informed by one of the officers in attendance on the General that he had made himself ludicrously celebrated in Mexico for having undertaken to throw up a battery which, when completed, was found to face the wrong way, so that the guns were exposed to the enemy. General Pillow is a small, compact, clear-complexioned man, with short grey whiskers, cut in the English fashion, a quick eye, and a pompous manner of speech; and I had not been long in his company before I heard of Chapultepec and his wound, which causes him to limp a little in his walk, and gives him inconvenience in the saddle. He wore a round black hat, plain blue frock coat, dark trousers, and brass spurs on his boots; but no sign of military rank. The General ordered carriages to the door, and we went to see the batteries on the bluff or front of the esplanade, which are intended to check any ship attempting to pass down the river from Cairo, where the Federals under General Prentiss have entrenched themselves, and are understood to meditate an expedition against the city. A parapet of cotton bales, covered with tarpaulin, has been erected close to the edge of the bank of earth, which rises to heights varying from 60 to 150 feet almost perpendicularly from the waters of the Mississippi, with zigzag roads running down through it to the landing-places. This parapet could offer no cover against vertical fire, and is so placed that well-directed shell into the bank below it would tumble it all into the water. The zigzag roads are barricaded with weak planks, which would be shivered to pieces by boat-guns; and the assaulting parties could easily mount through these covered ways to the rear of the parapet, and up to the very centre of the esplanade.

The blockade of the river at this point is complete; not a boat is permitted to pass either up or down. At the extremity of the esplanade, on an angle of the hank, an earthen battery, mounted with six heavy guns, has been thrown up, which has a fine command of the river; and the General informed me he intends to mount sixteen guns in addition, on a prolongation of the face of the same work.

The inspection over, we drove down a steep road to the water beneath, where the Ingomar, a large river steamer, now chartered for the service of the State of Tennessee, was lying to receive us. The vessel was crowded with troops—all volunteers, of course—about to join those in camp. Great as were their numbers, the proportion of the officers was inordinately large, and the rank of the greater number preposterously high. It seemed to me as if I was introduced to a battalion of colonels, and that I was not permitted to pierce to any lower strata of military rank. I counted seventeen colonels, and believe the number was not then exhausted.


General Clarke, of Mississippi, who had come over from the camp at Corinth, was on board, and I had the pleasure of making his acquaintance. He spoke with sense and firmness of the present troubles, and dealt with the political difficulties in a tone of moderation which bespoke a gentleman and a man of education and thought. He also had served in the Mexican war, and had the air and manner of a soldier. With all his quietness of tone, there was not the smallest disposition to be traced in his words to retire from the present contest, or to consent to a reunion with the United States under any circumstances whatever. Another general, of a very different type, was among our passengers—a dirty-faced, frightened-looking young man, of some twenty-three or twenty-four years of age, redolent of tobacco, his chin and shirt slavered by its foul juices, dressed in a green cutaway coat, white jean trousers, strapped under a pair of prunella slippers, in which he promenaded the deck in an Agag-like manner, which gave rise to a suspicion of bunions or corns. This strange figure was topped by a tremendous black felt sombrero, looped up at one side by a gilt eagle, in which was stuck a plume of ostrich feathers and from the other side dangled a heavy gold tassel. This decrepit young warrior’s name was Ruggles or Struggles, who came from Arkansas, where he passed, I was informed, for ” quite a leading citizen.”

Our voyage as we steamed up the river afforded no novelty, nor any physical difference worthy of remark, to contrast it with the lower portions of the stream, except that upon our right hand side, which is, in effect, the left bank, there are ranges of exceedingly high bluffs, some parallel with and others at right angles to the course of the stream. The river is of the same pea-soup colour with the same masses of leaves, decaying vegetation, stumps of trees, forming small floating islands, or giant cotton-tree, pines, and balks of timber whirling down the current. Our progress was slow; nor did I regret the captain’s caution, as there must have been fully nine hundred persons on board; and although there is but little danger of being snagged in the present condition of the river, we encountered now and then a trunk of a tree, which struck against the bows with force enough to make the vessel quiver from stem to stern. I was furnished with a small berth, to which I retired at midnight, just as the Ingomar was brought to at the Chickasaw Bluffs, above which lies Camp Randolph.



My dear Eliza: You must feel that I am ready and glad to go anywhere and at any time with you and dear Joe. You will probably go with him to Washington, at any rate. You and I could be companions for each other at the hotel as long as the regiment camps near the city, and, judging from the way the other regiments have been disposed of, that is likely to be the arrangement for them for some time. We should be able to see them every day and perhaps go even farther south. Since Joe has taken the sick under his care we perhaps shall be able to be a part of the regiment, as other women have been, and may keep together in this way, doing what we can.

You know we three have travelled over rough roads together before, and have now only to take up our little bundles and commence our march again. We shall like it and we will do it if possible. Two of our bands of nurses have been sent on from the Hospital already, and with a letter of introduction from our association (which is accepted by government) I shall probably be able to go where I please, as far south as hospitals have been established; and so we may be able perhaps to keep up with the Sixteenth. If you can, don’t you think you had better come down and be introduced to Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell and others, and go for a few days to one of the hospitals opened to us, so that you may be able to give references from our association, if necessary? It may save you some delay and be useful to you in other ways. I am ready, or shall be at the shortest notice, to do as you say. I cannot tell you how we all feel about this. We shall try and not feel at all, only our hearts are with you and Joe always.


(from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated History of the Civil War…, edited by Louis Shepheard Moat, Published by Mrs. Frank Leslie,New York, 1895; originally published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, June 29, 1861)

“General Schenck and four companies of the First Ohio Regiment were approaching Vienna, Va., on June 17th, 1861, by railroad, when, on turning a curve, they were fired upon by masked batteries of three guns, with shells, round shot and grape, killing and wounding the men on the platform and in the cars before the train could be stopped. The engine then became damaged and could not draw the train out of the fire, so the soldiers left the cars and retired through the woods. They retreated slowly, bearing off the wounded about five miles away, where they made a stand, awaiting re-enforcements.”


JUNE 17TH—To-day there was a rumor in the streets that Harper’s Ferry had been evacuated by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, and, for the first time, I heard murmurs against the government. So far, perhaps, no Executive had ever such cordial and unanimous support of the people as President Davis. I knew the motive of the evacuation, and prepared a short editorial for one of the papers, suggesting good reasons for the retrograde movement; and instancing the fact that when Napoleon’s capital was surrounded and taken, he had nearly 200,000 men in garrison in the countries he had conquered, which would have been ample for the defense of France. This I carried to the Secretary at his lodgings, and he was so well pleased with it he wanted me to accompany him to the lodgings of the President, in the same hotel, and show it to him.

This I declined, alleging it might be too late for the press. He laughed at my diffidence, and disinclination on such occasions to approach the President. I told him my desire was to serve the cause, and not myself. I suppose he was incredulous.


Schenks Ohio Regiments near Vienna, Virginia, June 17, 1861

The Ohio Corps near Vienna, in a valley through which runs the railroad, on which the skirmish took place, a beautiful and romantic spot, but hardly a safe position against surprise, in the foreground is a scouting party in search of secessionists a great deal of this part of Virginia seems to be good farming land a great deal of wheat and other cereals being grown . . . Waud. (Inscribed on back of drawing)

Drawing by Alfred R. Waud on olive paper : pencil, Chinese white, and black ink wash

Dated June 17, 1861 (at Library of Congress web page)


Note: This particular article—a document written in 1861—includes terms and topics that may be offensive to many today.  No attempt will be made to censor or edit 19th century material to today’s standards.

Southern Confederacy [Atlanta, Ga], July 26, 1861

Approach to Huntsville – A city set on a hill – Female colleges – Female education in Georgia – Texas progress – The penitentiary – Number of convicts – State and foreign representation in the “institution” – The everlasting nigger has the best record – Solitary confinement – Old Sam Houston to take the field in the Confederate Army.

– –

                                                                                                                Huntsville, Texas, June 17, 1861.
Editors Southern Confederacy:  On yesterday evening I arrived at this place, about which a good deal of interest is sometimes manifested in the Lone Star State, as being that particular locality at which our State prison is situated.  As you approach the town upon the North, and first get a view of it, you fully realize the truth that Christ uttered upon the Mount, that a city set upon “a hill cannot be hid.”  While you are yet a little distance from it, you have a much better prospect than you can ever get of it again, and your opinion of its beauty is much better than when you enter the very heart of the town itself.  The principal buildings make a very good appearance, and one would suppose he were drawing near quite a city; but, without having the census, or the necessary statistics before me, I would set the number of inhabitants down at fifteen hundred.
There is a very good female college here; but what number of students it has, I have not been able to ascertain – but the condition of the institution is represented as very flourishing.  The want and scarcity of female colleges in the State, are generally recognized as the most serious obstacles to the progress of Texas; and, although there may be more institutions of this kind than I am apprised of, yet I think there are only three places that can boast of female colleges, and they are Huntsville, Chapel Hill and Fairfield, which last place is in Freestone county, and adjoining Limestone.  There are doubtless several excellent schools for ladies in the State; but, if my recollection serves me correctly, there are none of them, except those mentioned, that rise in dignity and importance sufficiently high to be called colleges.
The condition of Georgia at the present time, and the high intellectual culture of her fair daughters, attest the powerful influence that institutions endowed for female education have upon the career and destiny of a people.
But it could not be expected that in such a short time, Texas should be able to rival the older States in the number and excellence of her schools.  It was only in 1845 that she established her State Constitution, and, in the same year, she united herself with the United States, which are now the “ilium fuit” of such political dreamers as Seward and Lincoln.  In that length of time, she has made rapid strides in civilization and prosperity and wealth are acknowledged facts in political economy.  Her railroads are being extended into the heart and center of the State – her towns are rising here and there, dotting the beautiful prairies like “Sea Cybeles, fresh from ocean,” and her common schools are numerous, and of the best character.
But another institution has risen at this place, which also may be set down, in some measure, as a necessary consequence of growth and expansion, and slightly referred to before.  I mean the Penitentiary.  A great many curious facts may be collated from the reports of the Directors and Superintendents of the several State prisons, and, as Texas is, and has been, the resort of all “nativities,” a few of these curiosities (not natural, animal or vegetable) may possess a passing interest with your readers.
The gentlemanly Superintendent informed me that there were 216 convicts at present.–This is a larger number than in any year since its foundation.  Up to the 31st of August, 1859, there had been 412 convicts, in all, since the year 1850, which makes the very decent average of 45 2/3 per year for the said years.
Georgia is an enterprising, energetic State – the Empire State of the South – and Georgians may be curious to know if they have a fair proportion of representatives in this department of the Government – and I am very sorry to say they have.  But I think it can be accounted for upon a very rational hypotheses – perhaps I should call it a fact – that they are a people who have progressive notions, upward, onward, keeping pace with the “star of empire;” and this characteristic has led more Georgians than almost any other class of people to come to the “far distant West.”  This same characteristic, perhaps, has landed 23 of them in the State prison of Texas; Alabama, ditto; Texas ditto; and Tennessee has outstripped all her sister Southern States, and has 33, (which is a better numerical representation than she used to have in the old United States Congress,) while Kentucky and Virginia, not so high in the pictures, have each 16 here. – The puritanic States of the North are pretty fairly represented, and doubtless the only reason why they have not more here, is because they think it would not be profitable, as they never embark in any enterprise that won’t pay; for they are “indociles paupericue puti,” and for this much, an honest confession would commend them.
It is not to be understood that the States mentioned have the above number of citizens in the penitentiary at the present time, but have had, (including those now in confinement) since 1850.  Nearly all the States of the old Union have more or less “nativities” here.  Mexico, with her low flung greasers, and her rare and high-strung hidalgoes, has had 92 subjects in the State building, and, to see them as they are, looking so contented, one would imagine that they never had strung their harps and sung such words as these:
“Ay de mi! un ano felice
Parece un soplo ligero;
Pero sin dicha un instante
Ees un siglo de tormento.”
But, passing on, Ireland, next to Mexico, numerically, has 26 Paddies, “all the way from the bogs of ould Ireland;” Germany has 16 dear lovers of sour krout, and sable Africa has only one in the “Huntsville Brick House.”
There was one convict who had been sentenced to solitary confinement for life; but the last Legislature, at its regular term, repealed the law, so far as to allow the Governor, upon a proper representation of the case, to commute the punishment to “hard labor in the penitentiary for life,” which speaks highly for the humanity of that august representative body.  Col. Caruthers, the Superintendent, informed me that, by his intercession with the old hero, Sam Houston, (while Sam was Governor,) he succeeded in having the solitary confinement commuted, as the law so wisely prescribes.
There are many things of interest to be seen and found here, the details of which would weary you; but this I may be permitted to say, that the financial condition of the penitentiary is as good, or better, under old Sam’s administration than it has been for a long time.  It could not be otherwise when such efficient officers have been appointed; and this is not written for the purposes of disparaging others that have administered the “machine,” but to do justice.  By the way, an intimate friend of his told me that old San Jacinto had written him a letter, in which he said that they would doubtless soon meet in the Southern army in defence [sic] of their common country, and all he (Sam) asked of his bitter foes was to keep up with him, and turn a little of that malignity they had harbored for him against the enemy of our institutions and liberties.
Old Sam will redeem his pledge to take the field.  He is a powerful friend, but, if an enemy, he is to be dreaded.  Adios.                                 L. J. Farrar.


—A letter from Cronstadt, Russia, written by the mate of a ship, says: “There is a Charleston ship lying alongside of us that hoisted the flag of the Confederate States, and for so doing I understand that the captain was arrested and placed in the guard-house of the Russian officers. They would not acknowledge or in any way recognize the flag of the rebels.” —Boston Journal, July 12.

—Lieut. George H. Butler with others proceeded from Fortress Monroe to Big Bethel to bring away the remains of Major Winthrop. At Little Bethel a picket took their message to Colonel Magruder, who sent Captain Kilsen, of Louisiana, to receive them. Two hours after Colonel Magruder came, and they were handsomely received. With Colonel Magruder were Colonel De Rusey, brother of the Chief of the Engineers at Fortress Monroe, Colonel Hill, of North Carolina, and other late officers of the army. None of Lieutenant Butler’s party were permitted to go near the batteries. The body of Major Winthrop was taken up by Colonel Magruder’s men and escorted to the wagon by a force of three hundred, who fired a volley. Most of them had shot guns. An escort was offered to Hampton, but Lieutenant Butler declined it. Colonel Magruder and others spoke in the highest terms of Major Winthrop’s bravery. He was distinctly seen for some time leading a body of men to the charge, and had mounted a log and was waving his sword and shouting to his men to “Come on!” when a North Carolina drummer-boy borrowed a gun, leaped on the battery, and shot him deliberately in the breast. He fell nearer to the enemy’s works than any other man went during the fight. He wore the sword of Colonel Wardrop of the Massachusetts Third, and it was supposed that it was Colonel Wardrop who fell. The sword was sent to North Carolina as a trophy. —N. Y. Evening Post, June 19.

—In the Wheeling (Va.) Convention Mr. Dorsey, of Monongalia, moved that the Declaration of Independence be put upon its passage, calling for the yeas and nays. It was unanimously adopted: Yeas, 56—not a vote in the negative. Thirty members were absent on leave, and the Declaration was signed by fifty-six, the same number as signed the National Declaration of Independence.—(Doc. 256.)

—Three hundred Federal troops, under Capt. Gardner, of the Pennsylvania First Regiment, had a skirmish at Edwards’ Ferry, with a considerable force of secessionists. The fight lasted nearly three hours, when the rebels fled, having had fifteen to twenty of their number killed and wounded, one private in Capt. Gardner’s command was killed, and three or four were wounded slightly. The fight occurred from across the river. The attack was made by the enemy with a view to taking possession of the Ferry. The news was brought to Washington by Capt. Gardner’s First Lieutenant, who was engaged in the action.—N. Y. Times, June 20.

—This morning, at St. Louis, Mo., a part of Col. Kallman’s Regiment of reserve corps were returning from the North Missouri Railroad, when opposite the Recorder’s Court-room on Seventh street, between Olive and Locust, a company near the rear of the column suddenly wheeled and discharged their rifles, aiming chiefly at the windows of the Recorder’s Court and the second story of an adjoining house, killing four citizens, mortally wounding two, and slightly injuring one. The statements regarding the cause of the firing were very conflicting —one being that a pistol shot was fired from the window of a house on the corner of Seventh and Locust, which took effect in the shoulder of one of the captains, when he gave word to fire; another, that a soldier accidentally discharged his rifle in the ranks, at which the whole company became frightened and discharged a full volley into the crowd on the sidewalk and windows of houses. The Recorder’s, Court was in session, crowded with prisoners and spectators. Police officer Pratt was shot in the side, and died in ten minutes. Deputy Marshal Franzo received three balls in the legs and arms. The window just behind Recorder Peers’ desk was riddled with bullets, and broken glass scattered over his desk.—Sandusky Register, June 18.

—In honor of the day—the anniversary of the battle of Bunker Hill—the Charlestown City Guard, comprising two companies of the Massachusetts Fifth, gave a grand entertainment at their camp near Alexandria, Va. Under the pleasant shade of a luxuriant grove long tables were spread with dainties quite unusual in that part of the land. Many of the dishes were furnished by the generous ladies of Massachusetts, and vividly recalled the good living of that dear old State—ever true to liberty and constitutional law. The edibles disposed of, sentiments were the order of the hour. The memory of Warren was appropriately toasted, and there were a dozen patriotic speeches from the officers and friends of the Guard, which, coming from the shadow of the solid column commemorating the glory of Warren and his heroic comrades, always honor the day with peculiar enthusiasm. At this time, and in sight of the spot where Ellsworth —who has been well denominated the Warren of the great struggle in which we are now involved—gave his life a willing sacrifice to his country, the proceedings of this afternoon were exceedingly fitting—and honorable to the Guard.

At Boston, Mass, the anniversary was observed with more than usual manifestations of patriotism. At the monument in Charlestown there was a civic and military gathering. The Stars and Stripes were raised on a flag-staff about 40 feet above the shaft, making the height 260 feet from the ground. Gov. Andrew and others made eloquent speeches appropriate to the occasion.—Washington Star, June 20.

—Gen. Lyon issued a strong proclamation, pointing out the determined efforts of the Governor and Legislature to force the State out of the Union, and the unconstitutionality of the military bill. He rehearsed the result of the conference with Governor Jackson, and stated that attempts to execute the provisions of the military bill had imposed most exasperating hardships on peaceful and loyal citizens, with persecutions and proscriptions of those opposed to its provisions. Complaints of these acts, he said, had been received by him as commander of the Federal forces, and also sent to Washington with appeals for relief from Union men who, in many instances, had been driven from the State. He gave his orders received from the President, stating that it devolved upon him to stop them summarily by the forces under his command, with such aid as might be required from Kansas, Iowa, and Illinois.—(Doc. 257.)

—An expedition of 300 Zouaves, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Warren, and accompanied by Capt. Smith, of the United States Topographical Corps, left Fortress Monroe to make a reconnoissance in the vicinity of Big Bethel and up the route to Yorktown.—N. Y. Times, June 19.

—At 4 P. M., as a train with telegraph constructors and 660 of the First Ohio Regiment went up the Loudon and Hampshire Railroad, Va., they were fired upon by a rebel battery stationed on a hill at a curve in the road, near Vienna, a small station about 15 miles from Alexandria. The battery consisted of three 6-pounders, and was worked by a company from Alexandria. Its first fire was very destructive. The men were immediately brought out of the car and formed and returned the fire, when, by some mismanagement the train returned to Alexandria and left them. They were however brought off in good order. Six were killed and nine wounded. Two of the wounded subsequently died. The rebels also had six killed. The rebel battery was supported by 800 infantry and 200 cavalry. Directly after the retreat of the Ohio troops, a regiment of South Carolinians, with a battery of six pieces, arrived upon the scene of action. Shortly after their appearance, an alarm was raised by the supposed approach of a large body of Union troops, when the whole rebel force beat a sudden retreat through Vienna, in the direction of Fairfax Court House. A resident of Vienna, who saw them pass two hours after the action, estimated them at two thousand.—(Doc. 258.)

—Near Independence, Missouri, a detachment of Union troops, under Captain Stanley, with a flag of trace, visited the camp of the State troops to ascertain the purposes of Captain Holloway, the rebel officer. During the conference Captain Stanley suspected movements were being made with the design of attacking him, and ordered his detachment to retreat. While retreating they were fired on by the State troops, at an order given by a private; but their fire was so irregular they killed their own commander, Captain Holloway, and J. B. Clanahan, and severely wounded several more of their own men. Captain Stanley’s men did not fire, they having received orders not to do so under any circumstances. Captain Stanley retreated to Kansas City and reported the affair, when Captain Prince, with a strong body of troops, attacked and routed the State forces, capturing thirty horses and a large quantity of baggage.—N. Y. Herald, June 20.

—Gen. Lyon left Jefferson City, Mo., for Booneville. He landed four miles below the town and opened a heavy cannonade against the rebels, who retreated and dispersed into an adjacent wood, whence, hidden by brushes and trees, they opened a brisk fire on our troops. General Lyon then ordered a hasty retreat to the boats; and the rebels, encouraged by this movement, rallied and followed the troops into a wheatfield, and were thus drawn from cover. General Lyon halted, faced his troops about, and, bringing the whole force of his artillery to bear, opened a murderous fire on the rebels, many of whom were killed, and the balance fled in all directions, leaving their arms on the field. General Lyon then moved forward and took possession of Booneville. Governor Jackson viewed the battle from a distant hill, and fled for parts unknown after the defeat of his forces. General Price was not in the battle, and his absence is thus accounted for: Sunday morning the pickets brought a report that seven steamboats were coming up the river with Union troops. A consultation was immefliately had between Gov. Jackson and Gen. Price, and the Governor ordered the State troops to disband, they not being able to sustain themselves against such force. General Price then went home; the troops, however, were determined to have a fight. Col. Marmaduke then became disaffected, and resigned. A few hours later the report about the steamboats proved untrue, and the Governor ordered the troops to prepare for resistance, appointing Mr. Little to command.—There is no reliable account as to the number of killed, wounded, or taken prisoners, though the killed are stated at 800. It is stated that General Lyon’s force had the State troops in a position where they could have killed them in large numbers. He ordered the firing to cease, and halted to make them prisoners.—St. Louis .Republican, June 18.—(Doc. 258½.)

—Col. Boernstein, commanding the Federal force at Jefferson City, Mo., issued a proclamation establishing a Provisional Government in consequence of the absence of the proper authorities. He promised protection to life and property, and urged the Union men, four companies, to assist him.—(Doc. 259.)

—The First Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, pioneers of the three years’ enlistments from that State, arrived at Washington and took quarters in Woodward’s buildings, Pennsylvania avenue. The regiment numbers 1,050 men, and is fully provided with camp equipage—Sibley and Wall tents, army wagons, &c. The uniform is the standard gray, furnished by the State—the muskets the Springfield rifle.

General Patterson crossed the Potomac at Williamsport, and marched down the Virginia banks of the Potomac towards Harper’s Ferry. —National Intelligencer, June 18.


June 16th.—I was compelled to send my excuses to Governor Pettus, and remained quietly within the house of my host, entreating him to protect me from visitors and especially my own confrères, that I might secure a few hours even in that ardent heat to write letters to home. Now, there is some self-denial required, if one be at all solicitous of the popularis aura, to offend the susceptibilities of the irritable genus in America. It may make all the difference between millions of people hearing and believing you are a high-toned, whole-souled gentleman or a wretched ignorant and prejudiced John Bull; but, nevertheless, the solid pudding of self-content and the satisfaction of doing one’s work are preferable to the praise even of a New York newspaper editor.

When my work was over I walked out and sat in the shade with a gentleman whose talk turned upon the practises of the Mississippi duello. Without the smallest animus, and in the most natural way in the world, he told us tale after tale of blood, and recounted terrible tragedies enacted outside bars of hotels and in the public streets close beside us. The very air seemed to become purple as he spoke, the land around a veritable “Aceldama.” There may, indeed, be security for property, but there is none for the life of its owner in difficulties, who may be shot by a stray bullet from a pistol as he walks up the street.

I learned many valuable facts. I was warned, for example, against the impolicy of trusting to small-bored pistols or to pocket six-shooters in case of a close fight, because suppose you hit your man mortally he may still run in upon you and rip you up with a bowie knife before he falls dead; whereas if you drive a good heavy bullet into him, or make a hole in him with a “Derringer” ball, he gets faintish and drops at once.

Many illustrations, too, were given of the value of practical lessons of this sort. One particularly struck me. If a gentleman with whom you are engaged in altercation moves his hand towards his breeches pocket, or behind his back, you must smash him or shoot him at once, for he is either going to draw his six-shooter, to pull out a bowie knife, or to shoot you through the lining of his pocket. The latter practice is considered rather ungentlemanly, but it has somewhat been more honoured lately in the observance than in the breach. In fact, the savage practice of walking about with pistols, knifes, and poniards, in bar-rooms and gambling-saloons, with passions ungoverned, because there is no law to punish the deeds to which they lead, affords facilities for crime which an uncivilised condition of society leaves too often without punishment, but which must be put down or the country in which it is tolerated will become as barbarous as a jungle inhabited by wild beasts.

Our host gave me an early dinner, at which I met some of the citizens of Jackson, and at six o’clock I proceeded by the train for Memphis. The carriages were of course, full of soldiers or volunteers, bound for a large camp at a place called Corinth, who made night hideous by their song and cries, stimulated by enormous draughts of whiskey and a proportionate consumption of tobacco, by teeth and by fire. The heat in the carriages added to the discomforts arising from these causes, and from great quantities of biting insects in the sleeping places. The people have all the air and manners of settlers. Altogether the impression produced on my mind was by no means agreeable, and I felt as if I was indeed in the land of Lynch law and bowie knives, where the passions of men have not yet been subordinated to the influence of the tribunals of justice. Much of this feeling has no doubt been produced by the tales to which I have been listening around me—most of which have a smack of manslaughter about them.



A cool fine day. Nothing particularly new has occured, but matters over the River seem to be coming to a point. Went after up to the camp at Meridian Hill about a mile north. Three Maine Regts are there; [also] the NY 5th (German) and the NY 9th. About 4000 [men?] were on parade while we were there. It was quite a military show. Another Mass Regt came tonight. I did not go down to the Ave tonight. Retired early.


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.



It has been a fine comfortable day with a good breeze. Attended the service at the 12th Regt quarters, the Chaplin (Mathew Hale Smith) officiating. Large numbers of citizens attend every Sunday morning. The Regt is expecting orders every hour to move over the River into Virginia. The Dress Parade was attended by thousands of spectators. Walked down to Willards to hear the news but found not much afloat today, but plenty of reports flying about.


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.


CAMP JACKSON, Sunday, June 16, 1861.

DEAREST L—:—Morning work done and waiting till Dr. Hoge begins, I write to my darling wife and boys. Would you like to know our daily routine. (Mem.:—Colonel King commanding State troops and my superiors, Colonels Rosecrans and Matthews, all having gone home, I am now in command of all at this post, eighteen companies United States troops and sixteen companies State troops, in all three thousand men and upwards. A sudden responsibility for a civilian, but the duties are chiefly such as a civilian can easily do, so it is strange rather in appearance than reality). First, at 5 A. M., gun fired and reveille sounded, calling all men to roll-call. I was up and dressing. Owing to bright light in a tent, sound sleeping in the cool air, etc., etc., this I did not find difficult. In a few minutes all the captains call at my tent to report themselves and the condition of their men.

I sit at a table looking towards the front entrance of the tent; an orderly on my right to go errands; a clerk at a table on the left to write; an adjutant ditto to give orders and help me guess what ought to be done in each case, and a sentinel slowly pacing back and forth in front of the entrance whose main employment is telling men to take off their hats before entering on the surroundings. The first business is looking over the orders of the day, and telling the adjutant to see them carried out. These are as to guards and such, which are stereotyped with slight alterations to suit circumstances—such as guarding wells, fixing new sentinels where men are suspected of getting out, etc., etc. Next comes issuing permits to go out of camp to town and to parties to go bathing in the Scioto one and one-half miles distant. Then comes in, for an hour or more, the morning reports of roll-call, showing the sick, absent, etc., etc., all to be looked over and corrected; and mistakes abound that are curious enough. Once we got all the officers returned as “under arrest.” One captain lost a lieutenant, although he was present as plainly as Hateful W. Perkins was in Pease’s anecdote. Then rations are returned short; on that point I am strong, and as the commissary is clever, we soon correct mistakes. Then we have difficulties between soldiers, very slight and easily disposed of; but troubles between soldiers and the carpenters whose tools disappear mysteriously, and farmers in the neighborhood who go to bed with roosts of barnyard fowl and wake up chickenless and fowlless, are more troublesome. The accused defenders of their country can always prove an alibi by their comrades, and that the thing is impossible by the sentinels whose beat they must have passed.

Since writing the above, I have waited under a tree, with a flag raised, three quarters of an hour for Dr. Hoge’s congregation, but for some reason he did not come, and an audience of one thousand were disappointed, possibly(?), however, not all disagreeably. I have sent five men and a sergeant to arrest two deserters in Columbus (not of our regiment) belonging to Captain Sturgess’ company of Zanesville; one sergeant and two men to see safely out of camp two men who were about to have their heads shaved for refusing to take the oath of allegiance; a lieutenant and ten men to patrol the woods back of the camp, to prevent threatened depredations on a farmer. This all since I began writing. The wind is rising and the dust floats in on my paper, as you see. As yet, we eat our meals at Colonel King’s quarters—plain good living. Guard-mounting is a ceremonious affair at 9 A. M. At 12 M., drum-beat and roll-call for dinner; at 6 P. M., ditto for supper; at 7 P. M., our band calls out the regiment for a parade; not yet a “dress parade,” but a decidedly imposing affair, notwithstanding. The finale is at 10 P.M.

The evenings and night are capital. The music and hum, the cool air in the tent, and open-air exercise during the day, make the sleeping superb. We have cots about like our lounge, only slighter and smaller, bought in Dayton. Our men are fully equal to the famous Massachusetts men in a mechanical way. They build quarters, ditches, roads, traps; dig wells, catch fish, kill squirrels, etc., etc., and it is really a new sensation, the affection and pride one feels respecting such a body of men in the aggregate.

We are now feeling a good deal of anxiety about Colonel Rosecrans. He is said to be appointed a brigadier. If it were to take effect six weeks or three months hence, we would like it if he should be promoted; but now we fear some new man over us who may not be agreeable, and we do not like the difficulties attendant upon promotion. The governor says we shall not lose Colonel Rosecrans, and we hope he is right.

I enclose a letter in the Cleveland Herald written by some one in one of our Cleveland companies. With Colonel Rosecrans in command, we should have no trouble with our men. We have reconciled them as, I think, perfectly, or as nearly so as men ever are with their officers. But if Colonel Rosecrans goes, we are between Scylla and Charbydis you know—officers at our head whom we may not like, or men under us who do not like us; but it will all come right. I am glad I am here, and only wish you were here.

I was in at Platt’s last evening an hour or so. Laura was expecting Platt by the late train, but as he has not yet come out here, I suspect he did not arrive. Love to all. Kiss the boys. I enjoyed reading your talk about them and their sayings.





16th.—Rumours are abundant to-day of a Federal force approaching Strasburg. We are not at all credulous of the flying reports with which our ears are daily pained, and yet they make us restless and uneasy. We thank God and take courage from the little successes we have already had at Pigs Point, Acquia Creek, Fairfax Court-House, and Philippi. These are mere trifles, they say; well, so they are, but they are encouraging to our men, and show that we can hold our own.

A most decided revolution is going on in our social system throughout our old State: economy rules the day. In this neighbourhood, which has been not a little remarkable for indulging in the elegancies of life, they are giving up desserts, rich cake, etc. The wants of the soldiers are supplied with a lavish hand, but personal indulgences are considered unpatriotic. How I do admire their self-denying spirit! I do not believe there is a woman among us who would not give up every thing but the bare necessaries of life for the good of our cause.

16th, Night.—I can scarcely control myself to sit quietly down and write of the good news brought by the mail of to-day; I mean the victory—on our side almost bloodless victory—at Bethel. It took place on the 10th. Strange that such brilliant news was so long delayed! The enemy lost 200 men, and we but one. He, poor fellow, belonged to a North Carolina regiment, and his bereaved mother received his body. She lives in Richmond. It seems to me that Colonel Magruder must have displayed consummate skill in the arrangement of his little squad of men. His ” blind battery ” succeeded admirably. The enemy had approached in two parties from Fortress Monroe, and, by mistake, fired into each other, causing great slaughter. They then united and rushed into the jaws of death, or, in other words, into the range of the guns of the blind battery. I feel sorry, very sorry, for the individual sufferers among the Yankees, particularly for those who did not come voluntarily; but they have no business here, and the more unsuccessful they are the sooner their government will recall them. I do believe that the hand of God was in this fight, we were so strangely successful. How we all gathered around M. M. as she read the account given in the paper; and how we exulted and talked, and how Mr. P. walked backwards and forwards, rubbing his hands with delight!


The camp at Harper’s Ferry is broken up. General Johnston knows why; I am sure that I do not. He is sending out parties of troops to drive off the Yankees, who are marauding about the neighbouring counties, but who are very careful to keep clear of the “Ferry.” The Second Regiment, containing some of our dear boys, has been lately very actively engaged in pursuit of these marauders, and we are kept constantly anxious about them.


Sunday [June] 16.—Colonel Rosecrans and Matthews, having gone to Cincinnati, and Colonel King to Dayton, I am left in command of camp, some twenty-five hundred to three thousand men—an odd position for a novice, so ignorant of all military things. All matters of discretion, of common judgment, I get along with easily, but I was for an instant puzzled when a captain in the Twenty-fourth, of West Point education, asked me formally, as I sat in tent, for his orders for the day, he being officer of the day. Acting on my motto, “When you don’t know what to say, say nothing,” I merely remarked that I thought of nothing requiring special attention; that if anything was wanted out of the usual routine I would let him know.


JUNE 16TH.—To-day, receiving dispatches from General Floyd, in Western Virginia, that ten thousand Yankees were advancing through Fayette County, and might intercept railroad communication between Richmond and Chattanooga—the Secretary got me to send a telegraphic dispatch to his family to repair hither without delay, for military reasons. About this time the Secretary’s health gave way again, and Major Tyler had another fit of indisposition totally disqualifying him for business. Hence I have nearly all the correspondence of the department on my hands, since Col. Bledsoe has ceased to write.


—This afternoon J. G. Morrison, Jr., and several of his friends, unfurled the Star-Spangled Banner on the Maryland abutment of the bridge lately destroyed at Harper’s Ferry. The cherished symbol of the Union was hailed with delight by the people of Harper’s Ferry, and particularly by the women, who flocked to the opposite bank and saluted it by the waving of handkerchiefs and other manifestations of joy.—Baltimore American, June 20.

—General Joseph H. Lane, of Kansas, was appointed a Brigadier-General in the army of the United States.—N. Y. Tribune, June 20.

—A recconoissance of the Loudon and Hampshire Railroad, in Va., was made under Col. Powers, accompanied by the First Regiment of Connecticut troops. All the bridges were found safe, and the train returned. When two miles east of Vienna, a man in ambush fired on the train, wounding George Busbee, of the Connecticut Life Guards. Gen. Tyler was standing beside the wounded man, on an open car. The shot was evidently intended for him. The train was stopped as soon as possible, and the companies were divided to scour the woods, and search the neighboring farm-houses, etc., to make a circuit of a mile. Two men were arrested, named Walker and McMills, in the home of the latter. All the evidence that could be obtained, tended towards criminating Walker, who, with the other prisoner and a negro witness, was brought to Alexandria. The train was within three miles of 900 rebel troops, and six miles of Fairfax Court House, where, it is understood, there are 2,500 troops, besides recent arrivals.—N. Y. Times, June 17


Camp Wright, Hulton, Penm.,
Saturday, June 15, 1861.

Dear Father:—

Our camp this week has been the scene of a good deal of confusion and uneasiness. I clip an extract from this morning’s Dispatch that explains the cause.

We have been told by some officers that “We were accepted; we were going to Chambersburg; we were not accepted; we were accepted for three years; those who would not enlist for the war would be sent home; they would be kept here till their three months expires; that Companies A, B, C, F and I only, would go for the war, and the rest would be disbanded,” and within ten minutes Major Schlaudecker has told me “that none of the companies would go; that we would all go together, one way or the other.”

Acting on the statement that our company would not go, I went this morning and put my name on Company B’s roll for the war. Our Captain said “No man should leave his company till it was disbanded.” The Colonel said “Any man who chose could enlist in any company in the regiment to go for the war. Captains notwithstanding.” “Father said I might and mother said I shouldn’t,” and I concluded I would do as I was a mind to.

The statement that the companies could not be filled in time to report according to orders, is probably the true one, and so that performance will not amount to much.

Such a feeling pervades the minds of the soldiers that discipline is played out. Company K refused to turn out to roll call the other morning, and day before yesterday, not a man of them appeared on dress parade. Company F would not come out on parade yesterday.

Night before last a row broke out in a beer saloon near the depot and some of the Pittsburgh boys cleaned out the whole thing, broke in the doors and windows, smashed up the glass and furniture. A crowd collected and Colonel Grant was obliged to call out Companies B, G and I with their guns to disperse them. Company G charged down the road and across the railroad track through the thickest of them. They made quite a determined stand on the track, and some six or eight were wounded before they would leave. A man stood before me and I called to him twice to stand back. He did not move and I ran my bayonet into his side an inch or so. He started then. He was awful mad. The wound was not a serious one, only a flesh wound, but he swears he will shoot the man who stabbed him. He has been hanging round our quarters with a revolver several times lately, and pointed out a man who, he says, stabbed him, but he has got the wrong man. I think I am safe enough unless some one peaches. Only three or four in our company know who it was. M. W. Goold pricked one man, Godfrey. Wheeler and others pricked some, but none were seriously hurt. I have carried a revolver for a day or so, and I think I am all right.

The way we have been treated is enough to make a preacher swear, almost. We are cheated in our rations about half the time. Our clothes are all dropping off from us. We don’t know whether we are accepted or not, or that we will ever get any pay.


We have been practicing at target shooting lately. Our guns beat everything I ever saw to shoot. The balls are very heavy, eleven to the pound. We were shooting at “Old Jeff” yesterday, at forty rods, and over half the boys hit him. We broke his back, legs, arms, and knocked his teeth out. This morning, since I commenced writing, nineteen of us have been shooting at a target at twelve rods. Thirteen balls struck the board, nine inside the ring and four hit the center. I call that good shooting. I, of course, am not among the best, though I hit inside the ring. One ball went plumb through an oak tree, nine inches in diameter.

The orders this morning are that we must commence drilling again, and have every man attending to his duties or lying in the guard house.

I hope you will write as often as you can. It seems to me my letters are like “angels’ visits.” My health is excellent. It never was better. I am in the river every day. The river is about one hundred rods wide here, with a swift current. I rolled up in my blanket the other night and slept under an apple tree. I slept first-rate, did not wake till reveille, nor take the least cold. The boys are all getting considerably copper-colored in the hot sun. The weather is warm and dry. The Dispatch says the thermometer stood at 102 yesterday at noon.

P. S.—At 12 m. It is definitely settled now that we are to stay in the State service the remainder of the three months. No companies will leave the regiment. According to past experience, we expect this changed in a couple of hours.


SATURDAY, JUNE 15, 1861.

This has been the hotest day yet. M. 92 with a pretty good breeze all day. More troops have crossed the River, and many are looking for an assault upon the City. I do not. The Flying Artillery at Arlington House were practicing this evening, we could see the smoke and hear the guns very plain. Went down to market for strawberries, [cost] more than meat. Sergeant Mandeville was at the house this eve’g. Went down to Willards and on the Ave, bot the NY papers, home at 10 o’clock.


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


June, 1861.—There was a patriotic rally this afternoon on the campus of Canandaigua Academy and we Seminary girls went. They raised a flag on the Academy building. General Granger presided, Dr Coleman led the choir and they sang “The Star Spangled Banner.” Mr Noah T. Clarke made a stirring speech and Mr Gideon Granger, James C. Smith and E. M. Morse followed. Canandaigua has already raised over $7,000 for the war. Capt. Barry drills the Academy boys in military tactics on the campus every day. Men are constantly enlisting. Lester P. Thompson, son of “Father Thompson,” among the others.

A young man asked Anna to take a drive to-day, but Grandmother was not willing at first to let her go. She finally gave her consent, after Anna’s plea that he was so young and his horse was so gentle. Just as they were ready to start, I heard Anna run upstairs and I heard him say, “What an Anna!” I asked her afterwards what she went for and she said she remembered that she had left the soap in the water.

June.—Dr Dagget’s war sermon from the 146th Psalm was wonderful.


June 15.—Yesterday was set apart by the President as a day of prayer and fasting, and I trust that throughout the Confederacy the blessing of God was invoked upon the army and country. We went to church at Millwood, and heard Bishop Meade. His sermon was full of wisdom and love; he urged us to individual piety in all things, particularly to love and charity to our enemies. He is full of enthusiasm and zeal for our cause. His whole heart is in it, and from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, for he talks most delightfully and encouragingly on the subject. He says that if our ancestors had good reason for taking up arms in 1775, surely we had much better, for the oppression they suffered from the mother-country was not a tithe of the provocation we have received from the Government at Washington.


Winchester, June 15, 1861.

On Tuesday last we marched on foot from Harper’s Ferry to Shepherdstown, thence seven miles farther up the Potomac. There we remained a day and a half, when we were ordered to this place, on foot again, and reached here, forty miles, in a day and a half. How long we remain here, or when we move again, I have not an idea. I hardly thought I would have been able to stand forty miles’ walk so well. Last night I felt very tired, but this evening entirely recovered. The last three nights I have slept in the open air on the ground, and never enjoyed sleep more. I saw Capt. Jim White to-day, and his college boys. Lexington has been well drained of its youth and manhood. I heartily wish, Love, that I was with you again, I hardly know what I would not give for one day with wife and little ones. But I must not think of it. I would soon make myself very unhappy if I suffered my mind to wander in that direction. I ought to be grateful to Omnipotence for such a love as that which you give me. Blood and kindred never made a stronger tie. We have just received orders to hitch up again—for what destination I do not know. Harper’s Ferry has been abandoned by our forces, and hereafter direct your letters to the address below. Kiss the dear little baby boys for their absent papa, and for yourself accept the best love of a fond husband.


JUNE 15 TH—Another clerk has been appointed; a sedate one, by the name of Shepherd, and a former pupil of the colonel’s.

I received several hints that the Chief of the Bureau was not at all a favorite with the Secretary, who considered him utterly unfit for the position; and that it could hardly be good policy for me to be on terms of such intimacy with him. Policy! A word I never appreciated, a thing I never knew. All I know is that Col. Bledsoe has been appointed by the President to fill an important position; and the same power appoints the secretaries, and can unmake them. Under these circumstances I find him permitted to sit for hours and days in the department with no one to inform him of the condition of the business or to facilitate him in the performance of his official duties. Not for any partiality in his be-half, or prejudice against the Secretary, I step forward and endeavor to discharge my own duty. I strive to serve the cause, whatsoever may be the consequences to my personal interests.


—Privateer No. 1—of the Confederate States—(the Savannah) captured May 3d, by U. S. brig Perry, arrived in the port of New York.—(Doc. 251.)

—The obstructions of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad at Point of Rocks, Md., were removed, and the road was re-opened to Harper’s Ferry for the first time this morning since the occupation and obstruction of the road by the secessionists. The immense boulder, weighing about one hundred tons, thrown from the Point of Rocks upon the road by the Confederate troops, was removed last night by blasting, and the track now passes over its crushed fragments, which served to fill up the depression in the bed of the road, caused by its fall. An immense mass of the rock projects into the canal, leaving sufficient space, however, for the passage of the canal boats. The culverts which were attempted to have been blown up are now fully repaired, the solid character of the work rendering the attempted destruction but partial in extent.—Baltimore American, June 15.

—The First Massachusetts Regiment, under the command of Colonel Cowdin, left Boston for the seat of war.—(Doc. 252.)

—Jefferson City, Mo., was occupied by Gen. Lyon, in command of the Union force, who was warmly welcomed by the mass of the citizens. Gen. Lyon there learned that Gov. Jackson and the whole military and civil government of the State had fled to Booneville, forty miles above, and that they have not far from fifteen hundred men there, the most of them armed with their own rifles and shot-guns, six or eight iron cannon, and are throwing up earthworks to protect the town from attack, both by river and by land.—N. Y. Herald, June 20.

—An experiment with Sawyer’s American rifled cannon was made at the Rip Raps, in Hampton Roads. Seven of eleven 48-pound shells exploded a short distance from the rebel camp, on Sewall’s Point, and one of them over their intrenchments. It created a sensation among the secessionists. A house near the secession banner displayed a white flag.—N. Y. Times, June 18.

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