A Diary of American Events – May 8, 1861

The Rebellion Record—A Diary of American Events; by Frank Moore

—The Salem, Mass., Zouaves arrived at Washington. They number 66 men, and are officered as follows: Captain, A. F. Devereux; 1st Lieutenant, G. F. Austin; 2d Lieutenant, E. A. P. Brewster; 3d Lieutenant, G. D. Putnam. They are armed with the Miniè musket, and uniformed in dark blue jackets and pants, trimmed with scarlet braid, and red fatigue caps. —National Intelligencer, May 11.

—A privateer was captured at the mouth of the Chesapeake, by the steamer Harriet Lane. The officers and crew, with the exception of two seamen, escaped.—Philadelphia Press, May 9.

—The Richmond Examiner of to-day demands a Dictator; it says: “No power in executive hands can be too great, no discretion too absolute, at such moments as these. We need a Dictator. Let lawyers talk when the world has time to hear them. Now let the sword do its work. Usurpations of power by the chief, for the preservation of the people from robbers and murderers, will be reckoned as genius and patriotism by all sensible men in the world now, and by every historian that will judge the deed hereafter.”

—The Fourth Pennsylvania Regiment from the county of Montgomery, arrived at Washington from Annapolis. It is commanded by the following officers:

Colonel, John F. Hartranft; Lieut. Col, Edward Schall; Major, Edwin Schall; Adjutant, Chas. Hunsicker; Quartermaster, Yerkes; Surgeon, Dunlop; Assistant-Surgeons, Christ and Rogers; Captains, Bolton, Schall, Chamberlain, Dunn, Snyder, Allabaugh, Amey, Brooke, Cooke, and Taylor.

The regiment numbers about 900, and comprises a fine body of hardy yeomanry and artisans, who left their fields and shops to rally in defence of the National Capital—National Intelligencer, May 9.

—The steam frigate Minnesota, the flag-ship of the blockading squadron, sailed from Boston, Mass.—Boston Transcript, May 8.

—A meeting in aid of the volunteers from Roxbury, Mass., was held in that city. Speeches were made by Rev. J. E. Bartholomew, Edward Everett, and Alexander H. Rice.—(Doc. 145.)

—General Butler, at the Relay House, Md., promulgated special brigade orders concerning the several events that have occurred at the camp at that place since its formation.—(Doc. 146.)


The Letters of Samuel Ryan Curtis

The Letters of Samuel Ryan Curtis

War Department
May 7. 1861.

In the absence of regular officers for the purpose the Hon. Col. Samuel R. Curtis of Ioway late of the U.S. Army, is hereby appointed to muster into the Service of the United States the quota of Militia of the State of Ioway called out under the requisition of the President of the U.S.1

He is authorised to take all steps necessary to equip, provisions, and supply these troops till the officers of the several administrative departments can be ordered to relieve him, until which time he will receive, and govern himself, by the instructions these Departments may give.

Simon Cameron
Secy of War

1. The call for 75,000 ninety day troops of the state militia was issued by Lincoln April 15. Iowa’s quota was one regiment. There was a subsequent call for three year troops several weeks later. Three regiments were quickly formed in Iowa to rendenvous at Keokuk May 20.


William Howard Russell’s diary.—Proclamation of war.—Jefferson Davis.—Interview with the President of the Confederacy.—Passport and safe-conduct—Messrs. Wigfall, Walker, and Benjamin.—Privateering and letters of marque.—A reception at Jefferson Davis’s’.—Dinner at Mr. Benjamin’s.

My Diary North and South – William Howard Russell

May 9th. [7th1]—To-day the papers contain a proclamation by the President of the Confederate States of America, declaring a state of war between the Confederacy and the United States, and notifying the issue of letters of marque and reprisal. I went out with Mr. Wigfall in the forenoon to pay my respects to Mr. Jefferson Davis at the State Department. Mr. Seward told me that but for Jefferson Davis the Secession plot could never have been carried out. No other man of the party had the brain, or the courage and dexterity, to bring it to a successful issue. All the persons in the Southern States spoke of him with admiration, though their forms of speech and thought generally forbid them to be respectful to any one.

There before me was “Jeff Davis’ State Department” — a large brick building, at the corner of a street, with a Confederate flag floating above it. The door stood open, and “gave” on a large hall whitewashed, with doors plainly painted belonging to small rooms, in which was transacted most important business, judging by the names written on sheets of paper and applied outside, denoting bureaux of the highest functions. A few clerks were passing in and out, and one or two gentlemen were on the stairs, but there was no appearance of any bustle in the building.

We walked straight up-stairs to the first-floor, which was surrounded by doors opening from a quadrangular platform. On one of these was written simply, “The President.” Mr. Wigfall went in, and after a moment returned and said, “The President will be glad to see you; walk in, sir.” When I entered, the President was engaged with four gentlemen, who were making some offer of aid to him. He was thanking them “in the name of the Government.” Shaking hands with each, he saw them to the door, bowed them and Mr. Wigfall out, and turning to me said, “Mr. Russell, I am glad to welcome you here, though I fear your appearance is a symptom that our affairs are not quite prosperous,” or words to that effect. He then requested me to sit down close to his own chair at his office-table, and proceeded to speak on general matters, adverting to the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny, and asking questions about Sebastopol, the Redan, and the Siege of Lucknow.

I had an opportunity of observing the President very closely: he did not impress me as favorably as I had expected, though he is certainly a very different looking man from Mr. Lincoln. He is like a gentleman—has a slight, light figure, little exceeding middle height, and holds himself erect and straight. He was dressed in a rustic suit of slate-colored stuff, with a black silk handkerchief round his neck; his manner is plain, and rather reserved and drastic; his head is well formed, with a fine full forehead, square and high, covered with innumerable fine lines and wrinkles, features regular, though the cheek-bones are too high, and the jaws too hollow to be handsome; the lips are thin, flexible, and curved, the chin square, well defined; the nose very regular, with wide nostrils; and the eyes deep set, large and full—one seems nearly blind, and is partly covered with a film, owing to excruciating attacks of neuralgia and tic. Wonderful to relate, he does not chew, and is neat and clean-looking, with hair trimmed, and boots brushed. The expression of his face is anxious, he has a very haggard, care-worn, and pain-drawn look, though no trace of anything but the utmost confidence and the greatest decision could be detected in his conversation. He asked me some general questions respecting the route I had taken in the States.

I mentioned that I had seen great military preparations through the South, and was astonished at the alacrity with which the people sprang to arms. “Yes, sir,” he remarked, and his tone of voice and manner of speech are rather remarkable for what are considered Yankee peculiarities, “In Eu-rope” (Mr. Seward also indulges in that pronunciation) “they laugh at us because of our fondness for military titles and displays. All your travellers in this country have commented on the number of generals, and colonels, and majors all over the States. But the fact is, we are a military people, and these signs of the fact were ignored. We are not less military because we have had no great standing armies. But perhaps we are the only people in the world where gentlemen go to a military academy who do not intend to follow the profession of arms.”

In the course of our conversation, I asked him to have the goodness to direct that a sort of passport or protection should be given to me, as I might possibly fall in with some guerilla leader on my way northwards, in whose eyes I might not be entitled to safe conduct. Mr. Davis said, “I shall give such instructions to the Secretary of War as shall be necessary. But, sir, you are among civilized, intelligent people who understand your position, and appreciate your character. We do not seek the sympathy of England by unworthy means, for we respect ourselves, and we are glad to invite the scrutiny of men into our acts; as for our motives, we meet the eye of Heaven.” I thought I could judge from his words that he had the highest idea of the French as soldiers, but that his feelings and associations were more identified with England, although he was quite aware of the difficulty of conquering the repugnance which exists to slavery.

Mr. Davis made no allusion to the authorities at Washington, but he asked me if I thought it was supposed in England there would be war between the two States? I answered, that I was under the impression the public thought there would be no actual hostilities. “And yet you see we are driven to take up arms for the defence of our rights and liberties.”

As I saw an immense mass of papers on his table, I rose and made my bow, and Mr. Davis, seeing me to the door, gave me his hand and said, “As long as you may stay among us you shall receive every facility it is in our power to afford to you, and I shall always be glad to see you.” Colonel Wigfall was outside, and took me to the room of the Secretary of War, Mr. Walker, whom we found closeted with General Beauregard and two other officers in a room full of maps and plans. He is the kind of man generally represented in our types of a “Yankee— tall, lean, straight-haired, angular, with fiery, impulsive eyes and manner—a ruminator of tobacco and a profuse spitter—a lawyer, I believe, certainly not a soldier; ardent, devoted to the cause, and confident to the last degree of its speedy success.

The news that two more States had joined the Confederacy, making ten in all, was enough to put them in good humor. “Is it not too bad these Yankees will not let us go our own way, and keep their cursed Union to themselves? If they force us to it, we may be obliged to drive them beyond the Susquehanna.” Beauregard was in excellent spirits, busy measuring off miles of country with his compass, as if he were dividing empires.

From this room I proceeded to the office of Mr. Benjamin, the Attorney-General of the Confederate States, the most brilliant perhaps of the whole of the famous Southern orators. He is a short, stout man, with a full face, olive-coloured, and most decidedly Jewish features, with the brightest large black eyes, one of which is somewhat diverse from the other, and a brisk, lively, agreeable manner, combined with much vivacity of speech and quickness of utterance. He is one of the first lawyers or advocates in the United States, and had a large practice at Washington, where his annual receipts from his profession were not less than £8000 to £10,000 a year. But his love of the card-table rendered him a prey to older and cooler hands, who waited till the sponge was full at the end of the session, and then squeezed it to the last drop.

Mr. Benjamin is the most open, frank, and cordial of the Confederates whom I have yet met. In a few seconds he was telling me all about the course of Government with respect to privateers and letters of marque and reprisal, in order probably to ascertain what were our views in England on the subject. I observed it was likely the North would not respect their flag, and would treat their privateers as pirates. “We have an easy remedy for that. For any man under our flag whom the authorities of the United States dare to execute, we shall hang two of their people. ” “Suppose, Mr. Attorney-General, England, or any of the great powers which decreed the abolition of privateering, refuses to recognize your flag?” “We intend to claim, and do claim, the exercise of all the rights and privileges of an independent sovereign State, and any attempt to refuse us the full measure of those rights would be an act of hostility to our country.” “But if England, for example, declared your privateers were pirates?” “As the United States never admitted the principle laid down at the Congress of Paris, neither have the Confederate States. If England thinks fit to declare privateers under our flag pirates, it would be nothing more or less than a declaration of war against us, and we must meet it as best we can.” In fact, Mr. Benjamin did not appear afraid of anything; but his confidence respecting Great Britain was based a good deal, no doubt, on his firm faith in cotton, and in England’s utter subjection to her cotton interest and manufactures. “All this coyness about acknowledging a slave power will come right at last. We hear our commissioners have gone on to Paris, which looks as if they had met with no encouragement at London; but we are quite easy in our minds on this point at present.”

So Great Britain is in a pleasant condition. Mr. Seward is threatening us with war if we recognize the South, and the South declares that if we don’t recognize their flag, they will take it as an act of hostility. Lord Lyons is pressed to give an assurance to the Government at Washington, that under no circumstances will Great Britain recognize the Southern rebels; but, at the same time, Mr. Seward refuses to give any assurance whatever, that the right of neutrals will be respected in the impending struggle.

As I was going down stairs, Mr. Browne called me into his room. He said that the Attorney-General and himself were in a state of perplexity as to the form in which letters of marque and reprisal should be made out. They had consulted all the books they could get, but found no examples to suit their case, and he wished to know, as I was a barrister, whether I could aid him. I told him it was not so much my regard to my own position as a neutral, as the vafri inscilia juris which prevented me throwing any light on the subject. There are not only Yankee ship-owners but English firms ready with sailors and steamers for the Confederate Government, and the owner of the Camilla might be tempted to part with his yacht by the offers made to him.

Being invited to attend a levée or reception held by Mrs. Davis, the President’s wife, I returned to the hotel to prepare for the occasion. On my way I passed a company of volunteers, one hundred and twenty artillerymen, and three field-pieces, on their way to the station for Virginia, followed by a crowd of “citizens” and negroes of both sexes, cheering vociferously. The band was playing that excellent quick-step “Dixie.” The men were stout, fine fellows, dressed in coarse grey tunics with yellow facings, and French caps. They were armed with smooth-bore muskets, and their knapsacks were unfit for marching, being waterproof bags slung from the shoulders. The guns had no caissons, and the shoeing of the troops was certainly deficient in soling. The Zouave mania is quite as rampant here as it is in New York, and the smallest children are thrust into baggy red breeches, which the learned Lipsius might have appreciated, and are sent out with flags and tin swords to impede the highways.

The modest villa in which the President lives is painted white—another “White House”—and stands in a small garden. The door was open. A colored servant took in our names, and Mr. Browne presented me to Mrs. Davis, whom I could just make out in the demi-jour of a moderately-sized parlour, surrounded by a few ladies and gentlemen, the former in bonnets, the latter in morning dress à la midi. There was no affectation of state or ceremony in the reception. Mrs. Davis, whom some of her friends call “Queen Varina,” is a comely, sprightly woman, verging on matronhood, of good figure and manners, well-dressed, ladylike, and clever, and she seemed a great favorite with those around her, though I did hear one of them say “It must be very nice to be the President’s wife, and be the first lady in the Confederate States.” Mrs. Davis, whom the President C. S. married en secondes noces, exercised considerable social influence in Washington, where I met many of her friends. She was just now inclined to be angry, because the papers contained a report that a reward was offered in the North for the head of the arch rebel Jeff Davis. “They are quite capable, I believe,” she said, “of such acts.” There were not more than eighteen or twenty persons present, as each party came in and staid only for a few moments, and, after a time, I made my bow and retired, receiving from Mrs. Davis an invitation to come in the evening, when I would find the President at home.

At sundown, amid great cheering, the guns in front of the State Department, fired ten rounds to announce that Tennessee and Arkansas had joined the Confederacy.

In the evening I dined with Mr. Benjamin and brother-in-law, a gentleman of New Orleans, Colonel Wigfall coming in at the end of dinner. The New Orleans people of French descent, or “Creoles,” as they call themselves, speak French in preference to English, and Mr. Benjamin’s brother-in-law labored considerably in trying to make himself understood in our vernacular. The conversation, Franco-English, very pleasant, for Mr. Benjamin is agreeable and lively. He is certain that the English law authorities must advise the Government that the blockade of the Southern ports is illegal so long as the President claims them to be ports of the United States. “At present,” he said, “their paper blockade does no harm; the season for shipping cotton is over; but in October next, when the Mississippi is floating cotton by the thousands of bales, and all our wharfs are full, it is inevitable that the Yankees must come to trouble with this attempt to coerce us.” Mr. Benjamin walked back to the hotel with me, and we found our room full of tobacco-smoke, filibusters, and conversation, in which, as sleep was impossible, we were obliged to join. I resisted a vigorous attempt of Mr. G. N. Sanders and a friend of his to take me to visit a planter who had a beaver-dam some miles outside Montgomery. They succeeded in capturing Mr. Deasy.

1 Note: In the book, this entry is placed between the 6th and 8th, though it is recorded as the 9th.  Also, the declaration of war, made in secret session of the Confederate Congress, had been made public on the 6th and appeared in the papers on the 7th.

“Went into the East Capitol grounds where the Zuave Regt (Col Ellsworths) was on parade. They are a hard looking set (NY Fire man).”—Horatio Nelson Taft

Diary of US patent clerk Horatio Nelson Taft.

taft_horatio_nelsonTUESDAY, MAY 7, 1861.

It has been a pleasant fine day and much enjoyed by all after the long cold rain. 4000 soldiers from NJ are here now. Saw them all on parade on the Ave tonight. Went with wife to the Capitol, into both chambers. Had to pass eight sentries. Went into the East Capitol grounds where the Zuave Regt (Col Ellsworths) was on parade. They are a hard looking set (NY Fire man). Called in the evening on Col Allen of Boston at the National. Saw the Col of the NY 5th Regt there and other officers. Got the papers, a map of the City & Georgetown & a [badge?] for myself.


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.


Rebel War Clerk

A Rebel War Clerk’s Diary at the Confederate States Capital, By John Beauchamp Jones
A likeness of Jones when he was editor  and majority owner of the Daily Madisonian during President John Tyler's administration.

A likeness of Jones when he was editor and majority owner of the Daily Madisonian during President John Tyler’s administration.

MAY 7th. —Col. R. E. Lee, lately of the United States army, has been appointed major-general, and commander-in-chief of the army in Virginia. He is the son of “Light Horse Harry” of the Revolution. The North can boast no such historic names as we in its army.

Gov. Wise is sick at home, in Princess Ann County, but has sent me a strong letter to President Davis. I fear the governor will not survive many months.


A Diary of American Events – May 7, 1861

The Rebellion Record—A Diary of American Events; by Frank Moore

—A serious riot occurred at Knoxville, Tenn., caused by hoisting a Union flag and the delivery of inflammatory speeches. About twenty shots were fired in all. A man named Douglas, a ringleader in the fight, was wounded, having received several shots. An outsider, named Bull, was mortally wounded.—National Intelligencer, May 11.

—Judge Ogden  of the County Court of Oyer and Terminer of Hudson County, N. J., delivered a charge to the Grand Jury, in which he defined the crime of treason as giving aid, comfort, and information to the enemy.

The Massachusetts First Regiment, which has been for several days at Boston waiting marching orders, on learning that the War Department would hereafter accept no troops for a less period than three years, unanimously offered their services to the Governor for the full term.

The New Jersey House of Assembly ordered to a third reading the bill to raise a war loan of $1,000,000. Resolutions of thanks to Governor Olden for his activity in raising troops, to President Lincoln for his energetic defence of the Union, and pledging New Jersey to stand by the Union with all her power, were introduced into the Senate by a democrat, and passed by a unanimous vote.—N. Y. Tribune, May 8.

—The contributions of the people of the North for the war, during the last three weeks amount to the sum of $23,277,000. Pennsylvania leads the column with a free gift of $3, 500,000. New York and Ohio have each given $3,000,000; Connecticut and Illinois each $2,000,000; Maine, $1,300,000; Vermont and New Jersey, each $1,000,000; Wisconsin and Rhode Island, $500,000; Iowa, $100,000. The contributions of the principal cities are: New York, $2,173,000; Philadelphia, $330,000; Boston, $186,000; Brooklyn, $75,000; Buffalo, $110,000; Cincinnati, $280,000; Detroit, $50,000; Hartford, $64,000.—(Doc. 141.)

—The Twentieth Regiment of N. Y. S. M. from Ulster County, under the command of Colonel George W. Pratt, left New York for the seat of war.—(Doc. 142.)

—Reverdy Johnson addressed the Home Guard of Frederick, Md., upon the occasion of the presentation to them of a National flag from the ladies of that place. The population of the city was swelled by the addition of upwards of two thousand persons, who poured in from the surrounding towns and villages, sometimes in lengthy cavalcades of horses and vehicles, and again in companies of tens and fifties. Union cockades and badges were displayed in profusion upon the coats of the jubilant Union men, numbers of whom were decidedly ambitious in their ideas of patriotic personal adornment, wearing cockades as large as sun-flowers. The Stars and Stripes fluttered gaily from about forty different points, and, altogether, Frederick may be said to have donned her holiday suit for the occasion.

The scene of the presentation formalities was the Court-house yard, where a stand, draped with the national colors, had been erected, and at the hour designated for the commencement of the ceremonies, was surrounded by two or three thousand persons, including the Brengle Guard, a body of about three hundred respectable citizens, principally aged and middle-aged men, organized for the purpose of home protection and defence.—(Doc. 148.)

—Four hundred Pennsylvania volunteers, escorted by three hundred regular United States troops from Carlisle barrack; arrived at Washington at 10 o’clock, on the evening of Thursday, April 18th, and bivouacked at the capitol—N. Y. Times, April 19.

—Isham G. Harris, Governor, sent a message to the General Assembly of Tennessee, announcing the formation of a military league between that State and the Confederate States; submitting the plan of the league, the joint resolution ratifying it, and a “declaration of independence and ordinance dissolving the Federal relations between the State of Tennessee and the United States of America.”—(Doc. 144.)


William Howard Russell’s diary:—Slave auction.—The Legislative Assembly.—A “live chattel” knocked down.—Rumors from the North (true and false) and prospects of war.

My Diary North and South – William Howard Russell
Note: This particular diary entry—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.

May 6th.—I forgot to say that yesterday before dinner I drove out with some gentlemen and the ladies of the family of Mr. George N. Sanders, once United States’ consul at Liverpool, now a doubtful man here, seeking some office from the Government, and accused by a portion of the press of being a Confederate spy — Porcus de grege epicuri—but a learned pig withal, and weatherwise, and mindful of the signs of the times, catching straws and whisking them upwards to detect the currents. Well, in this great moment I am bound to say there was much talk of ice. The North owns the frozen climates; but it was hoped that Great Britain, to whom belongs the North Pole, might force the blockade and send aid.

The environs of Montgomery are agreeable—well-wooded, undulating, villas abounding, public gardens, and a large negro and mulatto suburb. It is not usual, as far as I can judge, to see women riding on horseback in the South, but on the road here we encountered several. After breakfast I walked down with Senator Wigfall to the capitol of Montgomery—one of the true Athenian Yankeeized structures of this novo-classic land, erected on a site worthy of a better fate and edifice. By an open cistern, on our way, I came on a gentleman engaged in disposing of some living ebony carvings to a small circle, who had more curiosity than cash, for they did not at all respond to the energetic appeals of the auctioneer.

The sight was a bad preparation for an introduction to the legislative assembly of a Confederacy which rests on the Institution as the cornerstone of the social and political arch which maintains it. But there they were, the legislators or conspirators, in a large room provided with benches and seats, and listening to such a sermon as a Balfour of Burley might have preached to his Covenanters—resolute and massive heads, and large frames—such men as must have a faith to inspire them. And that is so. Assaulted by reason, by logic, argument, philanthropy, progress directed against his peculiar institutions, the Southerner at last is driven to a fanaticism—a sacred faith which is above all reason or logical attack in the propriety, righteousness, and divinity of slavery.

The chaplain, a venerable old man, loudly invoked curses on the heads of the enemy, and blessings on the arms and councils of the New State. When he was done, Mr. Howell Cobb, a fat, double-chinned, mellow-eyed man, rapped with his hammer on the desk before the chair on which he sat as speaker of the assembly, and the house proceeded to business. I could fancy that, in all but garments, they were like the men who first conceived the great rebellion which led to the independence of this wonderful country—so earnest, so grave, so sober, and so vindictive—at least, so embittered against the power which they consider tyrannical and insulting.

The word “liberty” was used repeatedly in the short time allotted to the public transaction of business and the reading of documents; the Congress was anxious to get to its work, and Mr. Howell Cobb again thumped his desk and announced that the house was going into “secret session,” which intimated that all persons who were not members should leave. I was introduced to what is called the floor of the house, and had a delegate’s chair, and of course I moved away with the others, and with the disappointed ladies and men from the galleries, but one of the members, Mr. Rhett, I believe, said jokingly: “I think you ought retain your seat. If the “Times” will support the South, we’ll accept you as a delegate.” I replied that I was afraid I could not act as a delegate to a Congress of Slave States. And, indeed, I had been much affected at the slave auction held just outside the hotel, on the steps of the public fountain, which I had witnessed on my way to the capitol. The auctioneer, who was an ill-favored, dissipated-looking rascal, had his “article” beside him on, not in, a deal packing-case—a stout young negro badly dressed and ill-shod, who stood with all his goods fastened in a small bundle in his hand, looking out at the small and listless gathering of men, who, whittling and chewing, had moved out from the shady side of the street as they saw the man put up. The chattel character of slavery in the States renders it most repulsive. What a pity the nigger is not polypoid—so that he could be cut up in junks, and each junk should reproduce itself!

A man in a cart, some volunteers in coarse uniforms, a few Irish laborers in a long van, and four or five men in the usual black coat, satin waistcoat, and black hat, constituted the audience, whom the auctioneer addressed volubly: “A prime field hand! Just look at him — good-natered, well-tempered; no marks, nary sign of bad about him! En-i-ne hunthered —only nine hun-ther-ed and fifty dol’rs for ’em! Why, it’s quite rad-aklous! Nine hundred and fifty dol’rs! I can’t raly —That’s good. Thank you, sir. Twenty-five bid—nine hun-therd and seventy-five dol’rs for this most useful hand.” The price rose to one thousand dollars, at which the useful hand was knocked down to one of the black hats near me. The auctioneer and the negro and his buyer all walked off together to settle the transaction, and the crowd moved away.

“That nigger went cheap,” said one of them to a companion, as he walked towards the shade. “Yes, Sirr! Niggers is cheap now—that’s a fact.” I must admit that I felt myself indulging in a sort of reflection whether it would not he nice to own a man as absolutely as one might possess a horse—to hold him subject to my will and pleasure, as if he were a brute beast without the power of kicking or biting—to make him work for me—to hold his fate in my hands: but the thought was for a moment. It was followed by disgust.

I have seen slave markets in the East, where the traditions of the race, the condition of family and social relations divest slavery of the most odious characteristics which pertain to it in the States; but the use of the English tongue in such a transaction, and the idea of its taking place among a civilized Christian people, produced in me a feeling of inexpressible loathing and indignation. Yesterday I was much struck by the intelligence, activity, and desire to please of a good-looking colored waiter, who seemed so light-hearted and light-colored I could not imagine he was a slave. So one of our party, who was an American, asked him: “What are you, boy—a free nigger?” Of course he knew that in Alabama it was most unlikely he could reply in the affirmative. The young man’s smile died away from his lips, a flush of blood embrowned the face for a moment, and he answered in a sad, low tone: “No, sir! I b’long to Massa Jackson,” and left the room at once. As I stood at an upper window of the capitol, and looked on the wide expanse of richly-wooded, well-cultivated land which sweeps round the hill side away to the horizon, I could not help thinking of the misery and cruelty which must have been borne in tilling the land and raising the houses and streets of the dominant race before whom one nationality of colored people has perished within the memory of man. The misery and cruelty of the system are established by the advertisements for runaway negroes, and by the description of the stigmata on their persons—whippings and brandings, scars and cuts—though these, indeed, are less frequent here than in the border States.

On my return, the Hon. W. M. Browne, Assistant Secretary of State, came to visit me—a cadet of an Irish family, who came to America some years ago, and having lost his money in land speculations, turned his pen to good account as a journalist, and gained Mr. Buchanan’s patronage and support as a newspaper editor in Washington. There he became intimate with the Southern gentlemen, with whom he naturally associated in preference to the Northern members; and when they went out, he walked over along with them. He told me the Government had already received numerous — I think he said 400—letters from ship-owners applying for letters of marque and reprisal. Many of these applications were from merchants in Boston, and other maritime cities in the New England States. He further stated that the President was determined to take the whole control of the army, and the appointments to command in all ranks of officers into his own hands.

There is now no possible chance of preserving the peace or of averting the horrors of war from these great and prosperous communities. The Southern people, right or wrong, are bent on independence and on separation, and they will fight to the last for their object.

The press is fanning the flame on both sides: it would be difficult to say whether it or the telegraphs circulate lies most largely; but that as the papers print the telegrams they must have the palm. The Southerners are told there is a reign of terror in New York—that the 7th New York Regiment has been captured by the Baltimore people—that Abe Lincoln is always drunk—that General Lee has seized Arlington heights, and is bombarding Washington. The New York people are regaled with similar stories from the South. The coincidence between the date of the skirmish at Lexington and of the attack on the 6th Massachusetts Regiment at Baltimore is not so remarkable as the fact, that the first man who was killed at the latter place, 86 years ago, was a direct descendant of the first of the colonists who was killed by the royal soldiery. Baltimore may do the same for the South which Lexington did for all the Colonies. Head-shaving, forcible deportations, tarring and feathering are recommended and adopted as specifics to produce conversion from erroneous opinions. The President of the United States has called into service of the Federal Government 42,000 volunteers, and increased the regular army by 22,000 men, and the navy by 18,000 men. If the South secede, they ought certainly to take over with them some Yankee hotel keepers. This ” Exchange” is in a frightful state—nothing but noise, dirt, drinking, wrangling.


“Many of the troops are in an exposed condition and suffering for shelter.”—Horatio Nelson Taft

Diary of US patent clerk Horatio Nelson Taft.


Rain again most of the day. Many of the troops are in an exposed condition and suffering for shelter. The NJ troops came in early this morning, over 3000 in the rain and could find no shelter for sometime. Drilling of RI soldiers in the Halls of the Pat office all day. Everything outside looks wet and gloomy. Did not go to the Ave this evening, but got a plate of glass and put in the Aquarium, one was broken. Caught in a shower while after it, to bed 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.


Operations in Florida – Confederate Correspondence

War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

Near Pensacola., Fla., May 6, 1861.

Hon. L. P. WALKER, Secretary of War, Montgomery:

From the tenor of my orders and instructions there has existed no doubt in my mind that the Department desired me first to secure the defense of my position here, and then the reduction of Fort Pickens, if practicable. No suggestion has been regarded as an order to proceed in any manner contrary to my own conviction, and no step has been taken which my own judgment has not approved; but I have felt it a duty to lay before you the means and sacrifices necessary to accomplish the object.

The change which has been made in my proposed plan of operations is the result of unavoidable delay, by which the enemy has been enabled to frustrate my first intentions. Fort Pickens is now more than twice as strong as it was three weeks ago, and the approaches to it will be made more and more difficult every day. They are now extending their operations on the island of Santa Rosa, and every hour will add seriously to the difficulties to be overcome. The importance of rapid movement on our part is very apparent if we are to proceed to the reduction of Fort Pickens, but it would be very bad policy to move until we are prepared to succeed. My plan for a lodgment on the island is arranged, and will be executed as soon as the means are available. In the present state of that work, with a garrison fully competent for its defense, and a support at all times ready at hand in the fleet, its reduction will cost us many lives, much time and labor, and a very large expenditure of money. Whether the end will justify the means the Department must decide.

My works on this side, both for attack and defense, are nearly completed, and preparations are going on for the island movement, but we are still deficient in many essentials. Five thousand sets of infantry accouterments are necessary for the preservation of our ammunition. It is now carried by the men in their pockets, and one day’s hard service would destroy it all. A supply of musket cartridges is also a first necessity. Having yet had no response to my requisition of last March, I shall send an, officer to Louisiana to see if some can be had at Baton Rouge. The present supply here would last me in an engagement about thirty minutes. Our best defense against the fleet–shells–cannot be used for want of fuses. Not one has yet reached me. These items are not mentioned  by way of complaint, for I know full well the difficulties and embarrassments which surround the Department, but simply to show how utterly impossible it is to check the enemy in his operations.

Night before last we succeeded in placing some serious obstructions in the channel between Forts Pickens and McRee, which will intimidate the fleet and seriously retard any movement to enter the harbor. It might be much more effectually blocked, but at a heavy expense for the necessary vessels. The entrance, however, of steamers would entirely frustrate our movement on the island, if it did not result in a capture of our force.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, Commanding.


“Another instance of Southern magnanimity!”—Rebel War Clerk.

A Rebel War Clerk’s Diary at the Confederate States Capital, By John Beauchamp Jones

MAY 6th. —To-day a Yankee was caught in the street questioning some negroes as to which side they would fight on, slavery or freedom. He was merely rebuked and ordered out of the country. Another instance of Southern magnanimity! It will only embolden the insidious enemy.


A Diary of American Events – May 6, 1861

The Rebellion Record—A Diary of American Events; by Frank Moore

—Governor Hicks, in response to an order of the Maryland Senate, inquiring if he consented to or authorized the burning of the bridges on the Northern Central, and the Baltimore, Wilmington, and Philadelphia railroad, said: “I have to say that I neither authorized nor consented to the destruction of said bridges, but left the whole matter in the hands of the Mayor of the city of Baltimore, with the declaration that I had no authority in the premises; that I was a lover of law and order, and could not participate in such proceedings.”—National Intelligencer, May 10.

—The six regiments demanded by the Federal Government of Indiana were raised and mustered into service and ready to march in a week after the call was made. They are now in camp, drilling daily, and living the regular soldier life. They would have been on the way to the post assigned them long ago if they had been armed. But up to this time, though the guns have come, the accoutrements are still behind.—Indiana State Journal, May 7.

—Virginia was admitted into the Southern Confederacy in Secret Session of the Confederate Congress.—N. Y. Times, May 14.

—The Committee appointed by the General Assembly of Maryland to visit President Lincoln and present him with a copy of the joint resolutions adopted by that body on the 24 of May, presented their report.—(Doc. 135.)

—The town of Dorchester, Mass., voted $20,000 for the war, besides appropriating $20 per month to every married volunteer, and $15 to every single volunteer. This applies not only to citizens of Dorchester who enlist in the town or out, but to citizens of other towns who may enlist in Dorchester, provided their own towns . do not make any provision for them.—N. Y. Express, May 9.

—General John A. Dix, late Secretary of the Treasury, was appointed one of the four major-generals from the State of New York. General Dix is a native of New Hampshire, and is a son of the late Lieut.-Colonel Timothy Dix. He entered the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1812; was promoted ensign in 1814, and was subsequently promoted to a third lieutenancy in the twenty-first regiment of infantry. His subsequent rank of promotion is as follows:

Second lieutenant, March, 1814; transferred August 14, 1814, to artillery arm; returned same year in the re-organization of the army; adjutant, 1816; first lieutenant, March 18; aide-de-camp to Major-General Brown, 1816; transferred to First artillery, May, 1821; Third artillery, August, 1821; captain, August 25; resigned his commission in the army, December 11, 1828. He afterward filled the post of Adjutant-General of the State of New York, Secretary of State, and United States Senator from January, 1845 to 1849; Postmaster of New York in 1860-61; and was called to the post of Secretary of the Treasury, under James Buchanan, January 11, 1861.— Commercial Advertiser, May 7.

—The First, Second, and Third regiments of New Jersey State Militia arrived at Washington. They constitute, with the Fourth, previously arrived, a brigade of 3,200 men, under the command of Gen. Theodore Runyon. His staff consists of Capt. J. B. Mulligan, Aid; Brigade-Major, A. V. Bonnell; Private Secretary and Special aid, C. W. Tollis.—(Doc. 136)

—The Arkansas Convention, by a vote of sixty-nine to one, passed an ordinance of secession from the Federal Union. The ordinance was unanimously ratified by the State.—N. O. Picayune, May 7.

—The correspondence between Mr. Faulkner, late American Minister at Paris, and Secretary Seward, in relation to the recognition of the Southern Confederacy by the government of France, is published. — (Doc. 137.)

—The Washington Star of this morning, speaking of the intended attack on Washington by the secessionists, says, “The scheme of the oligarchy was to have attacked this city sometime between daybreak of the 18th and daybreak of the 21st of April ultimo. They had been led to believe that the Virginia ordinance of secession would have been pushed through the Convention a few days before that was accomplished, (on the 17th,) and that the troops of that State would have been able to take Washington by surprise between the dates we have named above. The secret outside Convention that was assembled by the disunion Convention in Richmond on the 17th ultimo, was called to aid the scheme, and the raid on Harper’s Ferry was to the end of aiding it also. That was contrived and carried out wholly by disunion revolutionary means; the Governor (Letcher) having declined to order it, or the raid on the Government property (the Navy Yard, &c.) in and near Norfolk. John Bell was doubtless in the conspiracy, we apprehend, as his change of front took place just in time to admit of his getting on what he foolishly supposed would be the winning side. The resignation of the large number of army and navy officers between the 18th and 21st of April, in a body, was doubtless also planned to embarrass the Government just previous to the contemplated attack upon the Federal Metropolis. The conspirators had no idea that the Government would prove more prompt and efficient in their measures of defence, than they in theirs of attack.”

—President Lincoln’s letter to Governor Hicks of Maryland and Mayor Brown of Baltimore, dated on the day after the attack upon the Massachusetts troops, (April 19,) is published in full in the newspapers of to-day.—(Doc. 138.)

—The Police Commissioners of St. Louis, Mo., formally demanded of Capt. Lyon, the officer in command at the Arsenal, the removal of United States troops from all places and buildings occupied by them outside the Arsenal grounds. The Captain, as was doubtless expected, declined compliance with the demand, and the Commissioners have referred the matter to the Governor and Legislature. The Commissioners allege that such occupancy is in derogation of the Constitution and laws of the United States, and in rejoinder Capt. Lyon replies, inquiring what provisions of the Constitution and laws were thus violated. The Commissioners, in support of their position, say that originally “Missouri had sovereign and exclusive jurisdiction over her whole territory,” and had delegated a portion of her sovereignty to the United States over certain tracts of land for military purposes, such as arsenals, parks, &c., and the conclusion implied, but not stated, is, that this is the extreme limit of the right of the United States Government to occupy or touch the soil of the sovereign State of Missouri.—St. Louis Democrat, May 7.

—An important interview took place at Camp Defiance, Cairo, Ill., between Colonel Tilghman, commander of the Kentucky forces, and Colonel Prentiss in command at Cairo.—(Doc. 139.)

—The act recognizing the existence of war between the United States and the seceding States, and concerning letters of marque prizes and prize goods, which had passed the Southern congress at Montgomery, was made public, the injunction of secrecy having been removed therefrom.—(Doc. 140.)

—A meeting of the principal shipowners and commercial men of Maine was held at Augusta. It was summoned by Governor Washburn to take into consideration the state of the country, and the expediency of procuring a guard for the coast. Resolutions were adopted tendering the services of the shipowners to the Government, and pledging their ability to furnish thirty steam vessels within from 60 to 90 days, if required.

George F. Patten, of Bath, John B. Brown, of Portland, and George W. Lawrence, of Warren, were appointed a committee to proceed to Washington and communicate to the Government the views of the merchants and shopkeepers of the State, and to urge the most vigorous action in the premises. The meeting embraced the leading shipowners of all parties, and the sentiment in favor of executing the laws was not only unanimous, but enthusiastic.—Boston Transcript, May 8.


William Howard Russell’s Diary:—Knights of the Golden Circle.—Reflections on Slavery.

My Diary North and South – William Howard Russell

May 5th.—Very warm, and no cold water, unless one went to the river. The hotel baths were not promising; This hotel is worse than Mill’s House or “Willard’s. The feeding and the flies are intolerable. One of our party comes in to say that he could scarce get down to the hall on account of the crowd, and that all the people who passed him had very hard, sharp bones. He remarks thereupon to the clerk at the bar, who tells him that the particular projections he alludes to are implements of defence or offence, as the case may be, and adds, “I suppose you and your friends are the only people in the house who haven’t a bowie-knife, or a six-shooter, or Derringer about them.” The house is full of Confederate Congress men, politicians, colonels, and placemen with or without places, and a vast number of speculators, contractors, and the like, attracted by the embryo government. Among the visitors are many filibusters, such as Henningsen, Pickett, Tochman, Wheat*. [*Since killed in action.] I hear a good deal about the association called the Knights of the Golden Circle, a Protestant association for securing the Gulf provinces and states, including —which has been largely developed by recent events— them in the Southern Confederacy, and creating them into an independent government.

Montgomery has little claims to be called a capital. The streets are very hot, unpleasant, and uninteresting. I have rarely seen a more dull, lifeless place; it looks like a small Russian town in the interior. The names of the shopkeepers indicate German and French origin. I looked in at one or two of the slave magazines, which are not unlike similar establishments in Cairo and Smyrna. A certain degree of freedom is enjoyed by some of the men, who lounge about the doors, and are careless of escape or liberty, knowing too well the difficulties of either.

It is not in its external aspects generally that slavery is so painful. The observer must go with Sterne, and gaze in on the captives’ dungeons through the bars. The condition of a pig in a sty is not, in an animal sense, anything but good. Well fed, over fed, covered from the winds and storms of heaven, with clothing, food, medicine provided, children taken care of, aged relatives and old age itself succored and guarded—is not this ——? Get thee behind us, slave philosopher! The hour comes when the butcher steals to the stye, and the knife leaps from the sheath.

Now there is this one thing in being an ẵvaξ ẵvδpϖv, that be the race of men bad as it may, a kind of grandiose character is given to their leader. The stag which sweeps his rivals from his course is the largest of the herd; but a man who drives the largest drove of sheep is no better than he who drives the smallest. The flock he compels, must consist of human beings to develop the property of which I speak, and so the very superiority of the slave master in the ways and habits of command proves that the negro is a man But, at the same time the law which regulates all these relations between man and his fellows, asserts itself here. The dominant race becomes dependent on some other body of men, less martial, arrogant, and wealthy, for its elegances, luxuries, and necessaries. The poor villeins round the Norman castle forge the armor, make the furniture, and exercise the mechanical arts which the baron and his followers are too ignorant and too proud to pursue; if there is no population to serve this purpose, some energetic race comes in their place, and the Yankee does the part of the little hungry Greek to the Roman patrician.

The South has at present little or no manufactures, takes everything from the Yankee outside or the mean white within her gates, and despises both. Both are reconciled by interest. The one gets a good price for his manufacture and the fruit of his ingenuity from a careless, spendthrift proprietor; the other hopes to be as good as his master some day, and sees the beginning of his fortune in the possession of a negro. It is fortunate for our great British Catherine-wheel, which is continually throwing off light and heat to the remotest parts of the world—I hope not burning down to a dull red cinder in the centre at last—that it had not to send its emigrants to the Southern States, as assuredly the emigration would soon have been checked. The United States has been represented to the British and Irish emigrants by the free States—the Northern States and the great West—and the British and German emigrant who finds himself in the South, has drifted there through the Northern States, and either is a migratory laborer, or hopes to return with a little money to the North and West, if he does not see his way to the possession of land and negroes.

After dinner at the hotel table, which was crowded with officers, and where I met Mr. Howell Cobb and several senators of the new Congress, I spent the evening with Colonel Deas, Quartermaster-General, and a number of his staff, in their quarters. As I was walking over to the house, one of the detached villa-like residences so common in Southern cities, I perceived a crowd of very well-dressed negroes, men and women, in front of a plain brick building which I was informed was their Baptist meeting-house, into which white people rarely or never intrude. These were domestic servants, or persons employed in stores, and their general appearance indicated much comfort and even luxury. I doubted if they all were slaves. One of my companions went up to a young woman in a straw-hat, with bright red-and-green ribbon trimmings and artificial flowers, a gaudy Paisley shawl, and a rainbow-like gown, blown out over her yellow boots by a prodigious crinoline, and asked her “Whom do you belong to?” She replied, “I b’long to Massa Smith, sar.” Well, we have men who “belong” to horses in England. I am not sure if Americans, North and South, do not consider their superiority to all Englishmen so thoroughly established, that they can speak of them as if they were talking of inferior animals. Tonight, for example, a gallant young South Carolinian, one Ransome Calhoun [since killed], was good enough to say that “Great Britain was in mortal fear of France, and was abjectly subdued by her great rival.” Hence came controversy, short and acrimonious.


“I did not understand that he was talking to me as it was dark, until he cried Stand, and cocked his Musket.”—Horatio Nelson Taft

Diary of US patent clerk Horatio Nelson Taft.


Went to ch this morning with whole family, some soldiers in the congregation in uniform. Cool day, wore my cloak. Chas was up to dine with us. Doct Eddy called in the afternoon with Mr Cramer. He is on a visit to the City, staid an hour or two. Went down to Willards, saw A B Williams, Mr Pomeroy, the new M.C. from our district, and other gentlemen at his room. On my return home, got challenged by the Sentinel at Franklin Square. I did not understand that he was talking to me as it was dark, until he cried Stand, and cocked his Musket. I was very near the point of his Bayonet then, but backed down and went another way home.


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.


“He says that nine men were hung the day before he left, good citizens, and men whose only crime was loyalty to the United States Government.”–Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, Charles Wright Wills.

Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, Charles Wright Wills, (8th Illinois Infantry)

Cairo, May 5, 1861, Sunday, 11 a.m.

The bells are just ringing for church. I intended going, but it is such hard work getting out of camp that I concluded to postpone it. Anyway, we have service in camp this p.m. This is an awful lazy life we lead here. Lying down on our hay constitutes the principal part of the work. As our routine might be of interest to you, I will give it. At 5 a.m. the reveille is sounded by a drum and fife for each regiment. We arise, fold our blankets in our knapsacks and prepare to march. We then “fall in,” in front of our quarters for roll-call; after which we prepare our breakfast and at the “breakfast call” (taps of the drum at 7) we commence eating; and the way we do eat here would astonish you. At 9 a.m. we fall in for company drill. This lasts one hour. Dinner at 12. Squad drill from 1 to 3 and supper at 5:30. At 6 p.m. the whole regiment is called out for parade. This is merely a review by the colonel, and lasts not more than 30 minutes and often but 15. After 8 p.m. singing and loud noises are stopped; at 9:30 the tattoo is beat when all are required to be in quarters, and at three taps at 10 p.m. all lights are put out, and we leave things to the sentries. Our company of 77 men is divided into six messes for eating. Each mess elects a captain, and he is supreme, as far as cooking and eating are concerned. Our company is considered a crack one here and we have had the post of honor assigned us, the right of the regiment, near the colors. Our commanders, I think, are anticipating some work here, though they keep their own counsels very closely. They have spies out in all directions, down as far as Vicksburg. I think that Bradley’s detective police of Chicago are on duty in this vicinity. We also have two very fleet steamers on duty here to stop boats that refuse to lay to, and to keep a lookout up and down the Mississippi river. Yesterday, p.m., I noticed considerable bustle at headquarters which are in full view of our quarters, and at dark last night 20 cartridges were distributed to each man, and orders given to reload revolvers and to prepare everything for marching at a minute’s notice, and to sleep with our pistols and knives in our belts around us. That’s all we know about it though. We were not aroused except by a shot at about 2 this morning. I heard a little while ago that it was a sentinel shooting at some fellow scouting around. The Rebels have a host of spies in town but I think they are nearly all known and watched. The men confidently expect to be ordered south shortly. Nothing would suit them better. I honestly believe that there is not a man in our company that would sell his place for $100. We call the camp Fort Defiance, and after we receive a little more drilling we think we can hold it against almost any number. We have 3,300 men here to-day, but will have one more regiment to-day and expect still more.

We are pretty well supplied with news here; all the dailies are offered for sale in camp, but we are so far out of the way that the news they bring is two days old before we get them. Transcripts and Unions are sent to us by the office free. I wish you would send me the Register once and a while, and put in a literary paper or two, for we have considerable time to read. We have a barrel of ice water every day. Milk, cake and pies are peddled round camp, and I indulge in milk considerably at five cents a pint. Everything is much higher here than above. Potatoes, 50 cents; corn, 60 cents, etc. It has been raining like blue blazes since I commenced this, and the boys are scrambling around looking for dry spots on the hay and trying to avoid the young rivers coming in. Almost all are reading or writing, and I defy anyone to find 75 men without any restraint, paying more respect to the Sabbath. We have not had a sick man in camp. Several of the boys, most all of them in fact, have been a little indisposed from change of diet and water, but we have been careful and are now all right. There are 25, at least, of us writing here, all lying on our backs. I have my paper on a cartridge box on my knees.

We have been seeing and feeling the roughest side of camp life, ever since my last. Rain in double-headed torrents; lightning that will kill easily at five miles; thundering thunder; and wind from away back. But the mud dries like water on a hot brick, and six hours sun makes our parade ground fit for drill. Afternoon when the sun is out its hot enough to scorch a phoenix; yesterday we drilled from 1 to 3. I was almost crisped, and some of the boys poured a pint of grease out of each boot after we finished. Up to 10 last night when I went to sleep it was still boiling, but at five this morning, when we got up, we shivered in coat, vest and blankets. Bully climate! And then the way that the rain patters down through the roof, now on your neck; move a little and spat it goes, right into your ear, and the more you try to get away from it the more you get, until disgusted, you sit up and see a hundred chaps in the same position. A good deal of laughing, mixed with a few swears follows, and then we wrap our heads in the blankets, straighten out, “let her rip.” I never was in better health, have gained four pounds since we started, and feel stronger and more lively than I have for a coon’s age. Health generally excellent in our company, because we are all careful. There has not been a fight yet in the whole camp. A man was shot dead last night by one of the guards by accident. We have a fellow in the guardhouse whom we arrested a couple of days since as a spy. He is almost crazy with fear for his future. His wife is here and has seen him. His trial comes off this p.m. We all hope that he will be hung, for he laid forty lashes on the back of a man down south a few weeks since, who is now a volunteer in our camp. The boys would hang him in a minute but for the officers.

The news of the fuss in St. Louis has just reached us. We suppose it will send Missouri kiting out of the Union. General Prentiss has some information (don’t know what it is) that makes our officers inspect our arms often and carefully. I know that he expects a devil of a time here shortly, and preparations of all kinds are making for it.

The boys are just now having a big time over a letter in the Transcript of the 10th, signed W. K. G. Of course it is a bundle of lies. We have given nine groans and three tiger tails for the writer W. K. G. A man just from Mobile is in camp now. He landed this morning. He took off his shirt and showed a back that bore marks of 30 strokes. They laid him across a wooden bench and beat him with a paling. His back looks harder than any one I ever saw. He says that nine men were hung the day before he left, good citizens, and men whose only crime was loyalty to the United States Government. They would not volunteer under the snake flag. He reports 1,500 men at Memphis, a few at Columbus, only 50 at Mobile, and none worth mentioning at other points. A man has been here this morning from 20 miles up the river in Missouri. He wants arms for four companies of Union men that have formed there, and who are expecting an attack from the secessionists. The Union men have but 20 shotguns now. A boat came up yesterday crowded with passengers. Looked as though she might have a thousand on her. All Northerners.

One of the boys has just come in with a report that there are “to a dead certainty” 5,000 men now at Columbus (20 miles below) who have just arrived this morning. They are after Cairo. The boys are all rumor proof, though, and the above didn.t get a comment. One of the boys has just expressed my feelings by saying: “I don’t believe anything, only that Cairo is a damned mud hole.” I have not stood guard yet a minute. Have been on fatigue duty is the reason. A general order was given last night for every man to bathe at least twice a week. Most of us do it every day. The Ohio is warm enough and I swim every night now. There were over 2,000 of us in at once last night. We had a candy pulling this p.m. There was an extra gallon in to-day’s rations, and we boiled it and had a gay time. Our company is, I believe, the orderly one here. We have lots of beer sent us from Peoria, and drink a half barrel a day while it lasts. (Do those two statements tally?)


Life at Fort Defiance is also described today at Seven Score and Ten from an 1861 New York Times article.

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Operations in Florida

War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

Fort Taylor, May
5, 1861.

Col. L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General U. S. Army:

COLONEL: The Illinois, from Fort Pickens, is in coaling, and knowing the anxiety of the Government with respect to the insulated forts, Taylor and Jefferson, I communicate direct. This key is in an excellent state for defense. The few suggestions given by me to Captain Meigs are all that will be required until winter. The more men the more disease. I have used my general authority to mount a section of Light Company K, and expect acclimated horses from the Havana in a few days, cheap and hardy. With these the island can be patrolled, vedettes kept up, and light guns moved rapidly.

The sentiment on the key is strictly selfish. The Union man to-day is the disunionist of the morrow. My effort has been to make it the interest of the citizens to be loyal, to encourage the Union men, and to lift up the faint-hearted. The judiciary (Federal) have had but little to act upon. I call upon them officially, indirectly. Brought up and resident with the citizens, it might at this time compromise. I have made myself acquainted with the respectable inhabitants under the same rules and formalities which exist elsewhere. The effect has been to open the trial sooner than might have been anticipated. Everything which should have been for sale, after a refusal, when Captain Meigs passed by on the Atlantic North, is now given–coal, water, wharfage. I am opening propositions through Colonel Patterson, naval officer, to buy out for the Government at reduced rates water lines, &c. I have asked from the mayor of Key West lists of the inhabitants, extra mouths, &c., which will have to be fed by the United States. Extraneous people will have to leave. Now there are not ten barrels of flour for sale on the island. Military organizations have been directed to make to me (ex officio) their rolls. No more troops are needed; water is scarce, not doubtful, and the command is equal to every occasion. My position has required me to take responsibility. This I never shrink from. I have the confidence of my officers and the loyalty of the rank and file. Indorse my recommendations, as they are moderate. This place is safe.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

Brevet Major, U. S. Army, Commanding.


“It is no time to stand on ceremony or antecedents. The post of duty is the post of honor.”—Rebel War Clerk

A Rebel War Clerk’s Diary at the Confederate States Capital, By John Beauchamp Jones
A likeness of Jones when he was editor  and majority owner of the Daily Madisonian during President John Tyler's administration.

A likeness of Jones when he was editor and majority owner of the Daily Madisonian during President John Tyler’s administration.

MAY 5th. —President Tyler has placed in my hands a memorial to President Davis, signed by himself and many of the members of the Convention, asking appropriate civil employment for me in the new government. I shall be content to obtain the necessary position to make a full and authentic Diary of the transactions of the government. I could not hope for any commission as a civil officer, since the leaders who have secured possession of the government know very well that, as editor, I never advocated the pretensions of any of them for the Presidency of the United States. Some of them I fear are unfit for the positions they occupy. But the cause in which we are embarked will require, to be successful, the efforts of every man. Those capable of performing military duty, must perform it; and those physically incapable of wielding the bayonet and the sword, must wield the pen. It is no time to stand on ceremony or antecedents. The post of duty is the post of honor. In the mighty winnowing we must go through, the wheat will be separated from the chaff. And many a true man who this day stands forth as a private, will end as a general. And the efficient subordinate in the departments may be likewise exalted if he deserves it, provided the people have rule in the new confederacy. If we are to have a monarchy for the sake of economy and stability, I shall submit to it in preference to the domination of the Northern radicals.


A Diary of American Events – May 5, 1861

The Rebellion Record—A Diary of American Events; by Frank Moore

—Raleigh, North Carolina, is alive with soldiers, who have been pouring in at the call of the Governor. Sixteen companies, comprising twelve hundred men, rank and file, are encamped at the Fair Grounds, and there are several more quartered in other parts of the city. They are all fine looking, and in their eagerness to acquire military knowledge frequently have voluntary drills, not being satisfied with the three regularly appointed ones for each day.

Ten companies have been selected by the Governor to constitute the “First Regiment of North Carolina Volunteers,” and an election of field officers has taken place, resulting in the selection of D. H Hill, O. C. Lee, and J. H. Lane, respectively, to the offices of Colonel, Lieutenant-Colonel, and Major.—Charleston Mercury, May 11.

—The Twenty-eighth New York Regiment (from Brooklyn) arrived at Washington by the steamer Star of the South. In the absence of Col. Bennett, detained at home by sickness, Lieut.-Col. E. Burns is in command. The other officers are Acting Lieut.-Col. W. R. Brewster; Adjutant, D. A. Bokee; Surgeon, P. B. Rice; Surgeon’s Mates, Drs. Rappold and Prentice; Captain of Engineer Corps, Von Kumeke; Quartermaster, F. Steigier; Assistant Quartermaster, O. Menseh; Acting Paymaster, W. Mavelle; Chaplain, Mr. Zapt. They number about six hundred men, divided into ten companies, commanded by Captains Brewer, Baker, Campbell, Brandenberry, Beadle, Seeper, Ruegor, Wills, Kuhl, and Weaver. —National Intelligencer, May 7.

—Brigadier-General Philip St. George Cocke commanding the “Potomac Department” of the State of Virginia, in orders issued to-day, says:

“The capital of the United States has never been threatened, and it is not now threatened. It is beyond and outside the limits of the free and sovereign State of Virginia.”

If Gen. Cocke means to say that the “capital of the United States” has never been threatened by him, all credence will be given to his declarations under this head; but if it is intended to suggest that there have been no threats of attack from other quarters, sufficient to justify the precautionary measures taken by the Federal Government, his assurances cannot be received without casting discredit on men high in the confidence of the Confederate States, and on able and influential journals, heretofore understood to be the authentic exponents of Southern wishes and purposes.—(Doc. 134.)

—A body of, Federal troops, under command of Gen. B. F. Butler, arrived at the Relay House, nine miles from Baltimore, took possession of the telegraph wires, planted eight howitzers on the viaduct, and invested the entire neighborhood. They encamped on the grounds of William Talbot, adjoining those of George W. Dobbin, on the west side of the Patapsco. This point is the junction of the Baltimore and Ohio road, and the Washington branch, and gives full command of the road to and from the West.—The World, May 6.

—The women of Mobile organized themselves into a society to make sand bags for defence, lint and bandages for the wounded, clothes for the soldiers of the Confederate Army, to nurse the sick and wounded, and to seek out the families of those volunteers upon whose exertions their families are dependent for daily support.—N. O. Picayune, May 5.


William Howard Russell’s diary: Slave-pens; Negroes on sale or hire.—Popular feeling as to Secession.— Beauregard and speech-making.—Arrival at Montgomery.—Bad hotel accommodation.

My Diary North and South – William Howard Russell

May 4th.—In the morning I took a drive about the city, which is loosely built in detached houses over a very pretty undulating country covered with wood and fruit-trees. Many good houses of dazzling white, with bright green blinds, verandas, and doors, stand in their own grounds or gardens. In the course of the drive I saw two or three signboards and placards announcing that “Smith & Co. advanced money on slaves, and had constant supplies of Virginian negroes on sale or hire.” These establishments were surrounded by high walls enclosing the slave-pens or large rooms, in which the slaves are kept for inspection. The train for Montgomery started at 9·45 A.m., but I had no time to stop and visit them.

It is evident we are approaching the Confederate capital, for the candidates for office begin to show, and I detected a printed testimonial in my room in the hotel. The country, from Macon in Georgia to Montgomery in Alabama, offers no features to interest the traveler which are not common to the districts already described. It is, indeed, more undulating, and somewhat more picturesque, or less unattractive, but, on the whole, there is little to recommend it, except the natural fertility of the soil. The people are rawer, ruder, bigger—there is the same amount of tobacco chewing and its consequences—and as much swearing or use of expletives. The men are tall, lean, uncouth, but they are not peasants. There are, so far as I have seen, no rustics, no peasantry in America; men dress after the same type, differing only in finer or coarser material; every man would wear, if he could, a black satin waistcoat and a large diamond pin stuck in the front of his shirt, as he certainly has a watch and a gilt or gold chain of some sort or other. The Irish laborer, or the German husbandman is the nearest approach to our Giles Jolter or the Jacques Bonhomme to be found in the States. The mean white affects the style of the large proprietor of slaves or capital as closely as he can; he reads his papers—and, by the by, they are becoming smaller and more whitey-brown as we proceed—and takes his drink with the same air —takes up as much room, and speaks a good deal in the same fashion.

The people are all hearty Secessionists here—the Bars and Stars are flying at the road-stations and from the pine-tops, and there are lusty cheers for Jeff Davis and the Southern Confederacy. Troops are flocking towards Virginia from the Southern States in reply to the march of Volunteers from Northern States to Washington; but it is felt that the steps taken by the Federal Government to secure Baltimore have obviated any chance of successfully opposing the “Lincolnites” going through that city. There is a strong disposition on the part of the Southerners to believe they have many friends in the North, and they endeavor to attach a factious character to the actions of the Government by calling the Volunteers and the war party in the North “Lincolnites,” “Lincoln’s Mercenaries, ” ” Black Republicans,” “Abolitionists,” and the like. The report of an armistice, now denied by Mr. Seward officially, was for some time current, but it is plain that the South must make good its words, and justify its acts by the sword. General Scott would, it was fondly believed, retire from the United States’ army, and either remain neutral or take command under the Confederate flag, but now that it is certain he will not follow any of these courses, he is assailed in the foulest manner by the press and in private conversation. Heaven help the idol of a democracy!

At one of the junctions General Beauregard, attended by Mr. Manning, and others of his staff, got into the car, and tried to elude observation, but the conductors take great pleasure in unearthing distinguished passengers for the public, and the General was called on for a speech by the crowd of idlers. The General hates speech-making, he told me, and he had besides been bored to death at every station by similar demands. But a man must be popular or he is nothing. So, as next best thing, Governor Manning made a speech in the General’s name, in which he dwelt on Southern Rights, Sumter, victory, and abolitiondom, and was carried off from the cheers of his auditors by the train in the midst of an unfinished sentence. There were a number of blacks listening to the Governor, who were appreciative.

Towards evening, having thrown out some slight out works against accidental sallies of my fellow-passengers’ saliva, I went to sleep, and woke up at 11 P.M. to hear we were in Montgomery. A very rickety omnibus took the party to the hotel, which was crowded to excess. The General and his friends had one room to themselves. Three gentlemen and myself were crammed into a filthy room which already contained two strangers, and as there were only three beds in the apartment it was apparent that we were intended to “double up considerably;” but after strenuous efforts, a little bribery and cajoling, we succeeded in procuring mattresses to put on the floor, which was regarded by our neighbors as a proof of miserable aristocratic fastidiousness. Had it not been for the flies, the fleas would have been intolerable, but one nuisance neutralized the other. Then, as to food—nothing could be had in the hotel—but one of the waiters led us to a restaurant, where we selected from a choice bill of fare, which contained, I think, as many odd dishes as ever I saw, some unknown fishes, oyster-plants, ‘possums, raccoons, frogs, and other delicacies, and, eschewing toads and the like, really made a good meal off dirty plates on a vile table-cloth, our appetites being sharpened by the best of condiments.

Colonel Pickett has turned up here, having made his escape from Washington just in time to escape arrest— travelling in disguise on foot through out-of-the-way places till he got among friends.

I was glad, when bed-time approached, that I was not among the mattress men. One of the gentlemen in the bed next the door was a tremendous projector in the tobacco juice line: his final rumination ere he sank to repose was a masterpiece of art—a perfect liquid pyrotechny, Roman candles and falling stars. A horrid thought occurred as I gazed and wondered. In case he should in a supreme moment turn his attention my way!—I was only seven or eight yards off, and that might be nothing to him!—I hauled down my mosquito curtain at once, and watched him till, completely satiated, he slept.


“At the Pat office the RI Regt were paraded and reviewed by Gov Sprague.”—Horatio Nelson Taft

Diary of US patent clerk Horatio Nelson Taft.

SATURDAY, MAY 4, 1861.

Rain all the first part of the day. Soldiers still drilling in the Halls. Our ears are constantly saluted with the word of command and and [sic] the clangor of arms on the marble floors. Went on to the Ave after dinner with wife and Juliet. Soldiers and citizens crowded that prominade about equaly divided in numbers. In the streets Regiments were paraded. We saw 2200 march into the Treasury. At the Pat office the RI Regt were paraded and reviewed by Gov Sprague. On Louisiana Ave another Regt were paraded. Went down to Willards in the evening. Not much of a crowd. Mostly soldiers.


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.


Current value of slaves.—Rebel War Clerk.

A Rebel War Clerk’s Diary at the Confederate States Capital, By John Beauchamp Jones

MAY 4th. —Met Win. H. B. Custis, Esq., to-day in the square, and had a long conversation with him. He has made up his mind to sign the ordinance. He thinks secession might have been averted with honor, if our politicians at Washington had not been ambitious to figure as leaders in a new revolution. Custis was always a Democrat, and supported Douglas on the ground that he was the regular nominee. He said his negro property a month before was worth, perhaps, fifty thousand dollars; now his slaves would not bring probably more than five thousand; and that would be the fate of many slaveowners in Virginia.


Operations in Florida

War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

FORT TAYLOR, FLA., May 4, 1861.

J. P. BALDWIN, Esq., Mayor, Key West City :

MY DEAR SIR: I proposed on yesterday to print an address to the citizens of the United States on Key West. The address was delayed, and I take the opportunity to say to you, in continuation of the conversation had a few days since, that from circumstances brought to my attention direct, and from reliable sources, it is my opinion that there will be a strong effort made to distress the inhabitants of this key. Isolated and shut up by the water of the Gulf, should what I hear prove correct, the distress would be extreme upon the inhabitants of the island. It is in your power to aid in avoiding this contingency, which, whether near or remote, will be terrible when it comes. I have served in Florida during the early wars, and remember the distress of the inhabitants of Saint Augustine, to whom the government had to furnish subsistence. It is probable that such may be the case on the key. The government determining to hold it will be responsible for its loyal citizens; and should the necessities referred to arise, it will be necessary to discriminate, and those who do not belong here should be so notified.

It is also essential that it should be generally known that the functions of the commanding officer on Key West, ex officio, embrace during the present crisis all the military, including citizens desirous to bear arms for the preservation of life and property. It will be necessary for me, in order to combine them with those of the government, that a muster-roll according to the form prescribed should be supplied to these headquarters by any military organization now existing.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

Brevet Major, U. S. Army, Commanding.


“To-day our house seems so deserted, that I feel more sad than usual, for on this morning we took leave of our whole household.”—Diary of a Southern Refugee.

Diary of a Southern Refugee During the War by Judith White McGuire

At Home, May 4, 1861.—I am too nervous, too wretched to-day to write in my diary, but that the employment will while away a few moments of this trying time. Our friends and neighbors have left us. Every thing is broken up. The Theological Seminary is closed; the High School dismissed. Scarcely any one is left of the many families which surrounded us. The homes all look desolate; and yet this beautiful country is looking more peaceful, more lovely than ever, as if to rebuke the tumult of passion and the fanaticism of man. We are left lonely indeed; our children are all gone—the girls to Clarke, where they may be safer, and farther from the exciting scenes which may too soon surround us; and the boys, the dear, dear boys, to the camp, to be drilled and prepared to meet any emergency. Can it be that our country is to be carried on and on to the horrors of civil war? I pray, oh how fervently do I pray, that our Heavenly Father may yet avert it. I shut my eyes and hold my breath when the thought of what may come upon us obtrudes itself; and yet I cannot believe it. It will, I know the breach will be healed without the effusion of blood. The taking of Sumter without bloodshed has somewhat soothed my fears, though I am told by those who are wiser than I, that men must fall on both sides by the score, by the hundred, and even by the thousand. But it is not my habit to look on the dark side, so I try hard to employ myself, and hope for the best. To-day our house seems so deserted, that I feel more sad than usual, for on this morning we took leave of our whole household. Mr. ––––and myself are now the sole occupants of the house, which usually teems with life. I go from room to room, looking at first one thing and then another, so full of sad associations. The closed piano, the locked bookcase, the nicely-arranged tables, the formally-placed chairs, ottomans and sofas in the parlor! Oh for some one to put them out of order! And then the dinner-table, which has always been so well surrounded, so social, so cheerful, looked so cheerless to-day, as we seated ourselves one at the head, the other at the foot, with one friend,—but one,—at the side. I could scarcely restrain my tears, and but for the presence of that one friend, I believe I should have cried outright. After dinner, I did not mean to do it, but I could not help going into the girls’ room, and then into C.’s. I heard my own footsteps so plainly, that I was startled by the absence of all other sounds. There the furniture looked so quiet, the beds so fixed and smooth, the wardrobes and bureaux so tightly locked, and the whole so lifeless! But the writing-desks, work-boxes, and the numberless things so familiar to my eyes! Where were they? I paused, to ask myself what it all meant. Why did we think it necessary to send off all that was so dear to us from our own home? I threw open the shutters, and the answer came at once, so mournfully! I heard distinctly the drums beating in Washington. The evening was so still that I seemed to hear nothing else. As I looked at the Capitol in the distance, I could scarcely believe my senses. That Capitol of which I had always been so proud! Can it be possible that it is no longer our Capitol? And are our countrymen, under its very eaves, making mighty preparation to drain our hearts’ blood? And must this Union, which I was taught to revere, be rent asunder? Once I thought such a suggestion sacrilege; but now that it is dismembered, I trust it may never, never be reunited. We must be a separate people—our nationality must be different, to insure lasting peace and good-will. Why cannot we part in peace?


“I cannot with justice to my eyes write longer letters.”–Letters from Elisha Franklin Paxton.

Elisha Franklin Paxton – Letters from camp and field while an officer in the Confederate Army


Harper’s Ferry, May 4, 1861.

Write very often. Nothing can be so interesting to me as your letters. Some of the other wives, you think, get more letters than you do, and you women measure your husband’s love by the number and length of their letters. I will write to you, Love, about once a week and half a page at a time. I cannot with justice to my eyes write longer letters. This will be handed to you by Maj. Preston, who will tell you everything you want to know. Kiss the children for me, and for yourself take my best love.


A Diary of American Events – May 4, 1861

The Rebellion Record—A Diary of American Events; by Frank Moore

—A large Union meeting was held at Kingwood, Preston county, Va., when resolutions were adopted expressing unalterable opposition to the ordinance of secession, favoring a division of the State, and resolving to vote for a delegate to the next session of Congress.—National Intelligencer, May 11.

—Commodore Charles Stewart, of the United States Navy, addressed a letter to George W. Childs of Philadelphia, furnishing him with the reminiscences of a conversation which passed between Com. Stewart and John C. Calhoun, in the year 1812, after the declaration of war against Great Britain by the Congress of the United States.—(Doc. 132.)

—The artists of New York met at the rooms of Messrs. Kensett and Lang in that city. Mr. D. Huntingdon was called to the chair. Messrs. Kensett, Gray, and Lang embodied resolutions which were adopted by those present, expressing their desire to contribute to the relief of families of volunteers of the city of New York who are now serving in defence of government and law, and resolving that a committee be appointed to solicit contributions of pictures or other works of art, to be disposed of at public auction; said committee to have power, also, to receive moneys presented in aid of the fund. Messrs. Gray, Lang, Hubbard, Huntington, Stone, and Baker were named the committee, with full power to forward the plan proposed. —N. Y. Evening Post, May 7.

—The Ithaca (N. Y.) volunteers arrived in New York on their way to the seat of war. They number one hundred and fifteen men, and are commanded by the following officers:—Captain, Jerome Rowe; First Lieutenant, James Tischner; Ensign, William O. Wyckoff; Orderly Sergeant, William Godley; Second Sergeant, Edwin C. Fulkenson; Third do., Edward Atwater; Fourth do., Dr. Tolbo; First Corporal, Leonard Atwater; Second do., Clinton McGill; Third do., James A. Dickinson; Fourth do., George Shepherd.—N. Y. Herald, May 5.

—The Onondaga Regiment left Syracuse, N. Y., for Elmira. This is the first regiment organized under the new Volunteer bill of the State of New York. Ten full companies presented their muster-rolls to the Adjutant-General, not merely full, but with an excess of nearly one hundred men.—N. Y. Tribune, May 5.

—The New Orleans Delta of to-day contains a full account of the numbers and condition of the rebel troops and defences in the vicinity of Fort Pickens; from which it appears that Gen. Bragg has under his command an army of over six thousand fighting men, besides a large force of laborers, sailors, and marines.—(Doc. 133.)

—The Buena Vista Volunteers, from Philadelphia, Captain Powers, arrived at New York. They are to join Col D. E. Sickles’s regiment. These are men who went unarmed to Baltimore, and fought the Gorillas with their fists.— N. Y. Tribune, May 5.

—The Phoenix Ironworks at Gretna, opposite Lafayette, New Orleans, cast the first gun for the Confederate Navy. It is an eight-inch Dahlgren shell, and has eight feet six inches bore.

The steamship Star of the West was put in commission as the receiving ship of the Confederate States Navy at New Orleans. She is stationed at the navy yard at Algiers, under the temporary command of Midshipman Comstock, for receiving sailors and marines now being enlisted for the navy.—N. O. Picayune, May 5.

—A committee of the Maryland Legislature held an interview with President Lincoln. They admitted both the right and the power of the government to bring troops through Baltimore or the State, and to take any measures for the public safety which, in the discretion of the President, might be demanded either by actual or reasonably apprehended exigencies. They expressed their belief that no immediate effort at secession or resistance of the federal authority would be attempted by the Legislature or State authorities, and asked that, in this view, the State should, as long as possible, be spared the evils of a military occupation or a mere revengeful chastisement for former transgressions. The President replied that their suggestions and representations should be considered, but that he should now say no more than that the public interests, and not any spirit of revenge, would actuate his measures—N. Y. Herald, May 5.

—A Union meeting was held at Wheeling, Va, Hon. Frank Pierpont, of Mason county, and George M. Porter, late member of the convention, addressed the people in able speeches, urging resistance to the secession ordinance, ad favoring the division of the State. Resolutions were adopted approving the action of the merchants in refusing to pay taxes to the authorities at Richmond, denunciatory of the secession ordinance, and declaring adhesion to the stars and stripes.—Boston Transcript, May 8.

—The American flag was displayed from the tower of the First Baptist Church in Broome street, New York, with appropriate ceremonies. A large concourse of people listened to stirring speeches by President Eaton, of Madison University, Rev. Dr. Armitage, Rev. Mr. Webber, of Rochester, and Hon. W. D. Murphy, of the Oliver street church.

Dr. Armitage referred to the fact that the pastors of this First Baptist Church (a church which has existed more than a century) had all been noted for their zealous patriotism. One of the most eminent of them—Spencer H. Cone—had, in the war of 1812, himself gallantly defended that emblem of civil and religious liberty, the stars and stripes, at Fort McHenry; and at this moment members of this church are in the camp, equally ready to defend it against all aggression. No free government or constitutional liberty have ever been secured or perpetuated by any nation without the seal of its own blood. If the liberties thus purchased for us by our fathers, and the government which they founded—the best the world has ever seen—are to be insulted and trampled upon, shall we not strike down the traitor, even though he be one of the family—even though he be our own brother?

“I too,” said Dr. Eaton, “am emphatically a man of peace, for I am a minister of the gospel of the Prince of Peace; but in this crisis, my friends, it is my firm conviction that the best and surest way to perpetuate the blessing is promptly to send down, if need be, half a million of men to those seditious brethren of ours, and compel them to keep the peace. We cherish no malice against them—God forbid. But their traitorous hands are now clutching the very life of our body politic, and we must use prompt and vigorous action in defence of our very national existence.”—N. Y. Evening Post, May 7.


Off for Montgomery.—The Bishop of Georgia.—The Bible and Slavery.—Macon.—Dislike of United States’ gold.—William Howard Russell

My Diary North and South – William Howard Russell

May 3rd.—I bade good-by to Mr. Green, who with several of his friends came down to see me off, at the terminus or “depȏt” of the Central Railway, on my way to Montgomery—and looked my last on Savannah, its squares and leafy streets, its churches, and institutes with a feeling of regret that I could not see more of them, and that I was forced to be content with the outer aspect of the public buildings. I had been serenaded and invited out in all directions, asked to visit plantations and big trees, to make excursions to famous or beautiful spots, and specially warned not to leave the State without visiting the mountain district in the northern and western portion; but the march of events called me to Montgomery.

From Savannah to Macon, 191 miles, the road passes through level country only partially cleared. That is, there are patches of forest still intruding on the green fields, where the jagged black teeth of the destroyed trees rise from above the maize and cotton. There were but few negroes visible at work, nor did the land appear rich, but I was told the rail was laid along the most barren part of the country. The Indians had roamed in these woods little more than twenty years ago—now the wooden huts of the planters’ slaves and the larger edifice with its verandah and timber colonnade stood in the place of their wigwam.

Among the passengers to whom I was introduced was the Bishop of Georgia, the Rev. Mr. Elliott, a man of exceeding fine presence, of great stature, and handsome face, with a manner easy and graceful, but we got on the unfortunate subject of slavery, and I rather revolted at hearing a Christian prelate advocating the institution on scriptural grounds.

This affectation of Biblical sanction and ordinance as the basis of slavery was not new to me, though it is not much known at the other side of the Atlantic. I had read in a work on slavery, that it was permitted by both the Scriptures and the Constitution of the United States, and that it must, therefore, be doubly right. A nation that could approve of such interpretations of the Scriptures and at the same time read the “New York Herald,” seemed ripe for destruction as a corporate existence. The malum prohibitum was the only evil its crass senses could detect, and the malum per se was its good, if it only came covered with cotton or gold. The miserable sophists who expose themselves to the contempt of the world by their paltry thesicles on the divine origin and uses of slavery, are infinitely more contemptible than the wretched bigots who published themes long ago on the propriety of burning witches, or on the necessity for the offices of the Inquisition.

Whenever the Southern Confederacy shall achieve its independence — no matter what its resources, its allies, or its aims —it will have to stand face to face with civilized Europe on this question of slavery, and the strength which it derived from the ægis of the Constitution — “the league with the devil and covenant with Hell” — will be withered and gone.

I am well aware of the danger of drawing summary conclusions off-hand from the windows of a railway, but there is also a right of sight which exists under all circumstances, and so one can determine if a man’s face be dirty as well from a glance as if he inspected it for half an hour. For instance, no one can doubt the evidence of his senses, when he sees from the windows of the carriages that the children are barefooted, shoeless, stockingless — that the people who congregate at the wooden huts and grog-shops of the stations are rude, unkempt, but great fighting material, too — that the villages are miserable places, compared with the trim, snug settlements one saw in New Jersey from the carriage windows. Slaves in the fields looked happy enough — but their masters certainly were rough looking and uncivilized — and the land was but badly cleared. But then we were traversing the least fertile portions of the State — a recent acquirement — gained only one generation since.

The train halted at a snug little wood-embowered restaurant, surrounded by trellis and lattice-work, and in the midst of a pretty garden, which presented a marked contrast to the “surroundings” we had seen. The dinner, served by slaves, was good of its kind, and the charge not high. On tendering the landlord a piece of gold for payment, he looked at it with disgust, and asked, “Have you no Charleston money? No Confederate notes?” “Well, no! Why do you object to gold?” “Well, do you see, I’d rather have our own paper! I don’t care to take any of the United States gold. I don’t want their stars and their eagles; I hate the sight of them.” The man was quite sincere — my companion gave him notes of some South Carolina bank.

It was dark when the train reached Macon, one of the principal cities of the State. We drove to the best hotel, but the regular time for dinner hour was over, and that for supper not yet come. The landlord directed us to a subterranean restaurant, in which were a series of crypts closed in by dirty curtains, where we made a very extraordinary repast, served by a half-clad little negress, who watched us at the meal with great interest through the curtains — the service was of the coarsest description; thick French earthenware, the spoons of pewter, the knives and forks steel or iron, with scarce a pretext of being cleaned. On the doors were the usual warnings against pickpockets, and the customary internal police regulations and ukases. Pickpockets and gamblers abound in American cities, and thrive greatly at the large hotels and the lines of railways.