Saturday, March 28, 2015

Colonel Charles Russell Lowell to Josephine Shaw, June 22, 1863

Camp, June 22, 1863.

Lee is in earnest in some direction, and, within a month, I think we shall need all the troops we can raise, either to enable us to reap the full benefit of a victory or to lessen the disaster of a defeat. I am going to write to Governor Andrew that it is not enough for Massachusetts to be ahead in volunteering, ahead in coloured troops, and ahead in so many things, she must be ahead in conscribing, that is the example needed now, — conscription for old regiments, no more officers, only men: and in conscription, why should not Massachusetts set the example of no substitutes? She has already so many men ahead against the next draft, that the conscription will not be very severe, and why should not all go who are chosen?

SOURCE: Edward Waldo Emerson, Life and Letters of Charles Russell Lowell, p. 263

Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: November 5, 1861

Camp Ewing. — Six hundred and fifty-seven present for duty; sixty-nine sick. Total strength nine hundred and thirty-six. Absent one hundred and ninety-three — all sick but about forty on detached service. Captain Woodward worse and in great danger. Enemy firing again on McCook's camp. No casualties at 10:30 o'clock.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 138

Brigadier-General John A. Rawlins to Mary Emeline Hurlburt Rawlins, April 25, 1864

April 25, 1864.

. . . News of the capture of Plymouth by the enemy has also been officially received, and does not differ materially from my statement of it in yesterday's letter. I shall write you in a day or two the time fixed for our movements here. This failure of General Banks has greatly disconcerted us, and will I fear permit the enemy to bring forward here or against Sherman, as they may deem best, from twenty to twenty-five thousand more men than they would were Banks at the place it was ere this intended he should have been.

Mrs. Grant is in New York at Colonel Hilyer's. I see by the papers she attended the great sanitary fair in that city and voted for General McClellan on the sword question. Now I am free to say if she was required to vote at all, she voted right, but I do think her voting at all is decidedly bad taste, to say the least of it. If she desired to go to the fair she could have made her donation in some other manner, one less calculated to get her name in a paragraph of the daily newspapers. The General feels considerably annoyed about the matter; still, of course, it amounts to very little in itself. . . .

SOURCE: James H. Wilson, The Life of John A. Rawlins, p. 424-5

Lieutenant-Colonel Theodore Lyman to Elizabeth Russell Lyman, November 29, 1864

November 29, 1864

I did not have room to tell you of the ingenious inventions of General Butler for the destruction of the enemy. He never is happy unless he has half a dozen contrivances on hand. One man has brought a fire-engine, wherewith he proposes to squirt on earthworks and wash them all down! An idea that Benjamin considered highly practicable. Then, with his Greek fire, he proposed to hold a redoubt with only five men and a small garden engine. “Certainly,” said General Meade; “only your engine fires thirty feet, and a minié rifle 3000 yards, and I am afraid your five men might be killed, before they had a chance to burn up their adversaries!” Also he is going to get a gun that shoots seven miles and, taking direction by compass, burn the city of Richmond with shells of Greek fire. If that don't do, he has an auger that bores a tunnel five feet in diameter, and he is going to bore to Richmond, and suddenly pop up in somebody's basement, while the family are at breakfast! So you see he is ingenious. It is really summer warm today; there are swarms of flies, and I saw a bumble-bee and a grasshopper.

SOURCE: George R. Agassiz, Editor, Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, p. 284

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: July 11, 1861

The colonel tried his hand to-day at dictating answers to certain letters. Together we pitched upon the proper replies, which, after being marked with his pencil, I elaborated with the pen. These were first approved by the Secretary, then signed by the Chief of the Bureau, and copied by Mr. Scott.

To-day the colonel essayed a flight with his own plumage. I followed his dictation substantially in the answers. But the moment the Secretary's eyes rested upon them, they were promptly reversed. The Secretary himself, suspecting how it was, indeed he saw the colonel's pencil marks, brought them to me, while a humorous smile played upon his usually not very expressive lip. When the colonel came in, and beheld what had been done, he groaned, and requested me to write the proper answers. From that day he ceased to have anything more to do with the correspondence than to sign his name to the letters I prepared for him. He remarked to-day that if he was to have nothing to do, he would do nothing.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 60-1

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: March 24, 1862

I was asked to the Tognos’ tea, so refused a drive with Mary Preston. As I sat at my solitary casemate, waiting for the time to come for the Tognos, saw Mrs. Preston's landau pass, and Mr. Venable making Mary laugh at some of his army stories, as only Mr. Venable can. Already I felt that I had paid too much for my whistle — that is, the Togno tea. The Gibbeses, Trenholms, Edmund Rhett, there. Edmund Rhett has very fine eyes and makes fearful play with them. He sits silent and motionless, with his hands on his knees, his head bent forward, and his eyes fixed upon you. I could think of nothing like it but a setter and a covey of partridges.

As to President Davis, he sank to profounder deeps of abuse of him than even Gonzales. I quoted Yancey: “crew may not like their captain, but if they are mad enough to mutiny while a storm is raging, all hands are bound to go to the bottom.” After that I contented myself with a mild shake of the head when I disagreed with him, and at last I began to shake so persistently it amounted to incipient palsy. “Jeff Davis,” he said, “is conceited, wrong-headed, wranglesome, obstinate — a traitor.” “Now I have borne much in silence,” said I at last, “but that is pernicious nonsense. Do not let us waste any more time listening to your quotations from the Mercury.”

He very good-naturedly changed the subject, which was easy just then, for a delicious supper was on the table ready for us. But Doctor Gibbes began anew the fighting. He helped me to some pâté — “Not foie gras, said Madame Togno, “pâté perdreaux. Doctor Gibbes, however, gave it a flavor of his own. “Eat it,” said he, “it is good for you; rich and wholesome; healthy as cod-liver oil.”

A queer thing happened. At the post-office a man saw a small boy open with a key the box of the Governor and the Council, take the contents of the box and run for his life. Of course, this man called to the urchin to stop. The urchin did not heed, but seeing himself pursued, began tearing up the letters and papers. He was caught and the fragments were picked up. Finding himself a prisoner, he pointed out the negro who gave him the key. The negro was arrested.

Governor Pickens called to see me to-day. We began with Fort Sumter. For an hour did we hammer at that fortress. We took it, gun by gun. He was very pleasant and friendly in his manner.

James Chesnut has been so nice this winter; so reasonable and considerate — that is, for a man. The night I came from Madame Togno's, instead of making a row about the lateness of the hour, he said he was, “so wide awake and so hungry.” I put on my dressing-gown and scrambled some eggs, etc., there on our own fire. And with our feet on the fender and the small supper-table between us, we enjoyed the supper and glorious gossip. Rather a pleasant state of things when one's own husband is in good humor and cleverer than all the men outside.

This afternoon, the entente cordiale still subsisting, Maum Mary beckoned me out mysteriously, but Mr. Chesnut said: “Speak out, old woman; nobody here but myself.” “Mars Nathum Davis wants to speak to her,” said she. So I hurried off to the drawing-room, Mama Mary flapping her down-at-the-heels shoes in my wake. “He's gwine bekase somebody done stole his boots. How could he stay bedout boots?” So Nathan said good-by. Then we met General Gist, Maum Mary still hovering near, and I congratulated him on being promoted. He is now a brigadier. This he received with modest complaisance. “I knowed he was a general,” said Maum Mary as he passed on,” he told me as soon as he got in his room befo’ his boy put down his trunks.”

As Nathan, the unlucky, said good-by, he informed me that a Mr. Reed from Montgomery was in the drawing-room and wanted to see me. Mr. Reed had traveled with our foreign envoy, Yancey. I was keen for news from abroad. Mr. Reed settled that summarily, “Mr. Yancey says we need not have one jot of hope. He could bowstring Mallory for not buying arms in time. The very best citizens wanted to depose the State government and take things into their own hands, the powers that be being inefficient. Western men are hurrying to the front, bestirring themselves. In two more months we shall be ready.” What could I do but laugh? I do hope the enemy will be considerate and charitable enough to wait for us.

Mr. Reed's calm faith in the power of Mr. Yancey's eloquence was beautiful to see. He asked for Mr. Chesnut. I went back to our rooms, swelling with news like a pouter pigeon. Mr. Chesnut said: “Well! four hours — a call from Nathan Davis of four hours!” Men are too absurd! So I bear the honors of my forty years gallantly. I can but laugh. “Mr. Nathan Davis went by the five-o'clock train,” I said; “it is now about six or seven, maybe eight. I have had so many visitors. Mr. Reed, of Alabama, is asking for you out there.” He went without a word, but I doubt if he went to see Mr. Reed, my laughing had made him so angry.

At last Lincoln threatens us with a proclamation abolishing slavery1 — here in the free Southern Confederacy; and they say McClellan is deposed. They want more fighting — I mean the government, whose skins are safe, they want more fighting, and trust to luck for the skill of the new generals.

1 The Emancipation Proclamation was not actually issued until September 22, 1862, when it was a notice to the Confederates to return to the Union, emancipation being proclaimed as a result of their failure to do so. The real proclamation, freeing the slaves, was delayed until January 1,1863, when it was put forth as a war measure Mrs. Chesnut's reference is doubtless to President Lincoln's Message to Congress, March 6, 1862, in which he made recommendations regarding the abolition of slavery.

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 150-3

Diary of Judith W. McGuire: May 2, 1862

The morning papers contain a most spirited letter by the Mayor of New Orleans, in reply to the Federal commander who demanded the surrender of the city, and that the Confederate flag should be taken down. He refuses to do either, telling him that the city is his by brute force, but he will never surrender it.

Our young friend, J. S. M., is here, very ill; I am assisting to nurse him. I feel most anxious about him; he and his four brothers are nobly defending their country. They have strong motives, personal as well as patriotic. Their venerable father and mother, and two young sisters, were forced to leave their comfortable home in Fairfax a year ago. The mother has sunk into the grave, an early sacrifice, while the father and sisters continue to be homeless. Their house has been burnt to the ground by Federal soldiers — furniture, clothing, important papers, all consumed. Sad as this story is, it is the history of so many families that it has ceased to call forth remark.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 109-10

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: November 6, 1862

Randolph [Col. P.'s fourth son] has come home from the Institute sick.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 156

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: November 10, 1862

Randolph very ill with typhoid fever; has been delirious almost a week. The Dr. thinks there is some change for the better. I pray it may be God's will to spare his life. A cadet has died at the Institute, with this same fever, after seven days' illness.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 156

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: December 8, 1862

A long hiatus in my little note book. Poor Randolph has been trembling in the balance between life and death ever since my last entry; sometimes the scales seemed descending beyond all hope; again they incline toward the side of life. Today his symptoms are more discouraging.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 156

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: December 10, 1862

Have had the extreme joy of receiving today a short note from my precious sister; the first I have had from her since August 21st, 1861, a year and a half ago! No wonder I rejoice. It contained comfortable tidings of my beloved ones; my dear Father well and in good spirits; for which thank God! Julia had received my note of October 28th.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 156

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: December 18, 1862

Today, at half past three o'clock in the afternoon, our poor suffering Randolph breathed his last!

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 156

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Saturday, May 28, 1864

We started at 7 o'clock this morning and dragging along slowly with our heavy trains, went into bivouac when we reached Somerville at 3 o'clock. Most of our road was over very rough country and besides we had to wade one river, the bridges being gone. Somerville is a mere village with a courthouse, a few stores and about twenty dwellings.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 191

Diary of Corporal Charles H. Lynch: July 16, 1864

Yesterday we had a long tedious march, putting in a hard day. Last night we were glad to drop on the ground for rest and sleep. This is a hot morning out here in the open fields. Our cavalry boys brought in a captured rebel wagon train. The rebel teamsters were driving as directed by our boys who held guns in their hands. The teamsters knew what that meant. Orders came for us to move into the shaded woods which we found cool and fine.

General David Hunter relieved of his command. General George Crook now our commander. The 8th Corps. Six pointed star. We are also known as the Army of the Shenandoah.

SOURCE: Charles H. Lynch, The Civil War Diary, 1862-1865, of Charles H. Lynch 18th Conn. Vol's, p. 99

Diary of Luman Harris Tenney: March 22, 1862

A report circulated that we are to be among the regiments disbanded. Hope not true — prefer to see the thing through without re-enlisting. After all would like a short furlough. Dealt out the bacon. Got a good piece of beef for myself. Heard the wolves howl during the night.

SOURCE: Frances Andrews Tenney, War Diary Of Luman Harris Tenney, p. 10

Friday, March 27, 2015

Colonel Charles Russell Lowell to Major Caspar Crowninshield,* June 20, 1863

Camp Brightwood, June 20, '63.

We are lying here anxiously expecting orders, — two squadrons are just back from over the river collecting stragglers from the Army of the Potomac. The First Massachusetts Cavalry had a severe fight at Aldie on Wednesday afternoon. Captain Sargent and Lieutenant Davis (not Henry) reported killed, — Major Higginson wounded in four places, not seriously, — Lieutenant Fillibrown wounded, — Jim Higginson captured, — loss killed, wounded, and missing, 160 out of 320, according to Major Higginson, who is at Alexandria, — but this is evidently a mistake.1 The loss in prisoners is great, because Adams's squadron was dismounted and was supposed to be supported by the Fourth New York, which neglected to support at the proper moment and left our fellows unprotected.

* Major Caspar Crowninsbield of Boston, noted in college for his great strength and rowing prowess in victories of Harvard over Yale, had done good service in the Twentieth Massachusetts Infantry. Thence he was commissioned Major of the Second Massachusetts Cavalry, took the field in command of the First Battalion, and continued in service throughout the war. After Colonel Russell's promotion to the Fifth Massachusetts Cavalry he became lieutenant-colonel, and, as such, commanded the regiment from the moment that Colonel Lowell commanded a brigade. After the colonel's death, he, for a time, commanded the Reserve Brigade.

1 Major Higginson's wounds from shot and sabre proved so severe as to necessitate his resignation, after a long period of suffering. His brother was, as here reported, taken prisoner on the same field. Captain Lucius Manlius Sargent, left for dead on the field, recovered, and did active service until December, 1864, when he was killed in action at Bellfield, Virginia. Captain Adams, the son of our minister to England, has since become well known as a good citizen and author.

SOURCE: Edward Waldo Emerson, Life and Letters of Charles Russell Lowell, p. 262, 427

Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Sardis Birchard, November 4, 1861

Camp Ewing, November 4, 1861.

Dear Uncle: — Your letter of October 21 came to hand the day before yesterday. I am very glad you are so much better. If you will now be careful, I hope you will be able to get comfortably through the winter. You have no doubt heard that Matthews has been promoted to a colonelcy and has left us. I have been promoted to his place of lieutenant-colonel. We regret to lose him. He is a good officer. I have now been relieved from duty as judge-advocate, and will hereafter be with my regiment. The colonel of our regiment is a genial gentleman, but lacks knowledge of men and rough life, and so does not get on with the regiment as well as he might. Still, the place is not an unpleasant one.

The enemy has appeared in some force, with a few cannon, on the opposite side of New River at this point, and on the left bank of Kanawha lower down, and are, in some degree, obstructing our communications with the Ohio. To get rid of this, we are canvassing divers plans for crossing and clearing them out. The river here is rapid, the banks precipitous rocks, with only a few places where a crossing, even if not opposed, is practicable; and the few possible places can be defended successfully by a small force against a large one. We are getting skiffs and yawls from below to attempt the passage. If it is done, I shall do what I can to induce the generals to see beforehand that we are not caught in any traps.

This is Birch's birthday — a cold, raw November morning — a dreadful day for men in tents on the wet ground. We ought to be in winter quarters. I hope we shall be soon. We are sending from this army great numbers of sick. Cincinnati and other towns will be full of them. . . .

[R. B. Hayes.]

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 137-8

Brigadier-General John A. Rawlins to Mary Emeline Hurlburt Rawlins, April 24, 1864

Culpepper C. H., Va., April 24, 1864.

. . . The trees are beginning to put forth their leaves, and the fruit trees their blossoms; the green grass is making its appearance, and real spring is upon us. I rode out for exercise this afternoon and could but contrast the acts of our soldiers in fencing in and caring for the cemetery near here, in which is buried many hundreds of the enemy's dead, with the brutal massacre at Fort Pillow. How full of reverence for Christianity is the contrast in favor of our brave but humane soldiers. The dead and those who are captives with our army cease to be objects against which they war. All that religion demands in reverence of the one, and all that humanity requires in kindness to the other, is freely and willingly given by those who fight for our Democratic institutions beneath the bright banner of stripes and stars.

Enclosed I send you some lines written by Alfred B. Street on the presentation of war banners to the Legislature of New York. I think them decidedly beautiful and hope you will coincide with me in this opinion. I also send you by to-day's mail a late Richmond paper, from which we have the latest news from Plymouth, which is that that place was carried by storm on the 20th by the enemy, with a loss to us of full sixteen hundred men, besides armament, supplies, etc. This place had held out stubbornly, and we were in hopes all would be safe after they had repulsed the first assaults. This comes of the Government persistently urging the holding of places for political effect on the people in the seceding States and abroad, also for the protection of such of the inhabitants as commit themselves to our side. General Butler had asked permission to withdraw the troops from Plymouth some time since, but the reasons urged, as I heard him state to General Grant, were the ones I have just recited. If the force was to stay at Plymouth, then capture will not materially affect us, for they were virtually dead to the service while they remained there, at any rate. I hope that Policy will after a while have discovered that she can only succeed through force of arms, and that force should be made as strong as possible and as compact, and be directed with energy against one point at a time. In this way only can we succeed. . . .

SOURCE: James H. Wilson, The Life of John A. Rawlins, p. 423-4

Lieutenant-Colonel Theodore Lyman to Elizabeth Russell Lyman, November 28, 1864

November 28,1864

Let me see, I had got to Fort Harrison, had I not? Really I got so sleepy last night over the second sheet that I should not be surprised if it contains numerous absurdities. From the Fort you have an excellent view of the Rebs in their line opposite, their main fort being only 800 yards distant. I was surprised they did not fire upon us, as there was a great crowd and evidently several generals among us. But I believe they never shoot. The pickets, on either side, are within close musket-range but have no appearance of hostility. There was one very innocent “Turkey,” who said to me: “Who are those men just over there?” When I told him they were Rebs, he exclaimed: “God bless me!” and popped down behind the parapet. . . .

Thence we all went to view the great canal. You will notice on the map, that the river at Dutch Gap makes a wide loop and comes back to nearly the same spot, and the canal is going through there. This cuts off five or six miles of river and avoids that much of navigation exposed to fire; and it may have strategic advantages if we can get iron-clads through and silence the Rebel batteries on the other bank. The canny Butler sent an aide to see if they were shelling the canal, who reported they were not; so we dismounted a little way off and walked to the place. It was very worth seeing. Fancy a narrow ridge of land, only 135 yards wide, separating the river, which flows on either side; a high ridge, making a bluff fifty feet high where it overhangs the water. Through this a great chasm has been cut, only leaving a narrow wall on the side next the enemy, which wall is to be blown out with several thousand pounds of gunpowder. We stood on the brink and looked down, some seventy feet, at the men and the carts and the horses at work on the bottom. Where we stood, and indeed all over the ridge, was strewed thickly with pieces of shell, while here and there lay a whole one, which had failed to explode. Had the Rebs known that a Lieutenant-General and two Major-Generals were there, they would hardly have left us so quiet. . . .

Though we got off very nicely (I thought as I stood there: “Now that line is the shortest one to our horses, and you must walk it with dignity — not too fast when they begin to shell”), there was a fat “Turkey” who came after us and was treated to a huge projectile, which burst over his head; he ran and picked up a piece and cried out: “Oh! it's warm. Oh!! it smells of sulphur. Oh!!! let us go now.” He was delighted with this and all other adventures, and was quite elated when his horse tumbled in a ditch and muddied him greatly. After dark we were treated to an exhibition of a “Greek fire.” They burst a shell in a bunch of bush and immediately the whole was in a roaring blaze. “They've got the fuses to work well now,” said Grant calmly. “They tried the shells on three houses, the other side of the river, and burnt them all without difficulty.” Good thing for the owners! Then they spirted the stuff through a little hose and set the stream on fire. It was a beautiful sight and like the hell of the poets, with an unquenchable fire and columns of black smoke rolling up. Owing to these pyrotechnics, we only got home at midnight. In my next I will tell more of the genius of Butler. General Meade, you will be glad to learn, has been informed officially, that he will be appointed a Major-General in the Regular Army, to rank General Sheridan!

SOURCE: George R. Agassiz, Editor, Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, p. 282-3

In The Review Queue: Engineering Victory

By Justin S. Solonick

On May 25, 1863, after driving the Confederate army into defensive lines surrounding Vicksburg, Mississippi, Union major general Ulysses S. Grant and his Army of the Tennessee laid siege to the fortress city. With no reinforcements and dwindling supplies, the Army of Vicksburg finally surrendered on July 4, yielding command of the Mississippi River to Union forces and effectively severing the Confederacy. In this illuminating volume, Justin S. Solonick offers the first detailed study of how Grant’s midwesterners serving in the Army of the Tennessee engineered the siege of Vicksburg, placing the event within the broader context of U.S. and European military history and nineteenth-century applied science in trench warfare and field fortifications. In doing so, he shatters the Lost Cause myth that Vicksburg’s Confederate garrison surrendered due to lack of provisions. Instead of being starved out, Solonick explains, the Confederates were dug out.

After opening with a sophisticated examination of nineteenth-century military engineering and the history of siege craft, Solonick discusses the stages of the Vicksburg siege and the implements and tactics Grant’s soldiers used to achieve victory. As Solonick shows, though Grant lacked sufficient professional engineers to organize a traditional siege—an offensive tactic characterized by cutting the enemy’s communication lines and digging forward-moving approach trenches—the few engineers available, when possible, gave Union troops a crash course in military engineering. Ingenious midwestern soldiers, in turn, creatively applied engineering maxims to the situation at Vicksburg, demonstrating a remarkable ability to adapt in the face of adversity. When instruction and oversight were not possible, the common soldiers improvised. Solonick concludes with a description of the surrender of Vicksburg, an analysis of the siege’s effect on the outcome of the Civil War, and a discussion of its significance in western military history.

Solonick’s study of the Vicksburg siege focuses on how the American Civil War was a transitional one with its own distinct nature, not the last Napoleonic war or the herald of modern warfare. At Vicksburg, he reveals, a melding of traditional siege craft with the soldiers’ own inventiveness resulted in Union victory during the largest, most successful siege in American history.

About the Author

Justin S. Solonick, PhD, is an adjunct instructor in the Department of History and Geography at Texas Christian University. His most recent publication, “Saving the Army of Tennessee: The Confederate Rear Guard at Ringgold Gap,” appeared in The Chattanooga Campaign, published by SIU Press in 2012.

ISBN 978-0809333912, Southern Illinois University Press; 1st Edition Edition, © 2015, Hardcover, 304 pages, Maps, Photographs & Illustrations, Appendix, Glossary, Bibliographic Essay, End Notes, Bibliography & Index. $37.50.  To purchase a copy of this book click HERE.

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: July 10, 1861

There are indications of military operations on a large scale on the Potomac. We have intelligence that McDowell is making preparations to advance against our forces at Manassas. Gen. Johnston is expected to be there in time; and for that purpose is manœuvring Gen. Patterson out of the way. Our men have caps now — and will be found in readiness. They have short-commons under the Commissary Department; but even with empty stomachs, they can beat the Yankees at the ordeal of dying. Fighting is a sport our men always have an appetite for.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 60

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: March 20, 1862

The Merrimac is now called the Virginia. I think these changes of names so confusing and so senseless. Like the French “Royal Bengal Tiger,” “National Tiger,” etc. Rue this, and next day Rue that, the very days and months a symbol, and nothing signified.

I was lying on the sofa in my room, and two men slowly walking up and down the corridor talked aloud as if necessarily all rooms were unoccupied at this midday hour. I asked Maum Mary who they were. “Yeadon and Barnwell Rhett, Jr.” They abused the Council roundly, and my husband's name arrested my attention. Afterward, when Yeadon attacked Mr. Chesnut, Mr. Chesnut surprised him by knowing beforehand all he had to say. Naturally I had repeated the loud interchange of views I had overheard in the corridor.

First, Nathan Davis called. Then Gonzales, who presented a fine, soldierly appearance in his soldier clothes, and the likeness to Beauregard was greater than ever. Nathan, all the world knows, is by profession a handsome man.

General Gonzales told us what in the bitterness of his soul he had written to Jeff Davis. He regretted that he had not been his classmate; then he might have been as well treated as Northrop. In any case he would not have been refused a brigadiership, citing General Trapier and Tom Drayton. He had worked for it, had earned it; they had not. To his surprise, Mr. Davis answered him, and in a sharp note of four pages. Mr. Davis demanded from whom he quoted, “not his classmate.” General Gonzales responded, “from the public voice only.” Now he will fight for us all the same, but go on demanding justice from Jeff Davis until he get his dues — at least, until one of them gets his dues, for he means to go on hitting Jeff Davis over the head whenever he has a chance.

“I am afraid,” said I, “you will find it a hard head to crack.” He replied in his flowery Spanish way: “Jeff Davis will be the sun, radiating all light, heat, and patronage; he will not be a moon reflecting public opinion, for he has the soul of a despot; he delights to spite public opinion. See, people abused him for making Crittenden brigadier. Straightway he made him major-general, and just after a blundering, besotted defeat, too.” Also, he told the President in that letter: “Napoleon made his generals after great deeds on their part, and not for having been educated at St. Cyr, or Brie, or the Polytechnique,” etc., etc. Nathan Davis sat as still as a Sioux warrior, not an eyelash moved. And yet he said afterward that he was amused while the Spaniard railed at his great namesake.

Gonzales said: “Mrs. Slidell would proudly say that she was a Creole. They were such fools, they thought Creole meant—” Here Nathan interrupted pleasantly: “At the St. Charles, in New Orleans, on the bill of fare were ‘Creole eggs.’ When they were brought to a man who had ordered them, with perfect simplicity, he held them up, ‘Why, they are only hens' eggs, after all.’ What in Heaven's name he expected them to be, who can say?” smiled Nathan the elegant.

One lady says (as I sit reading in the drawing-room window while Maum Mary puts my room to rights): “I clothe my negroes well. I could not bear to see them in dirt and rags; it would be unpleasant to me.” Another lady: “Yes. Well, so do I. But not fine clothes, you know. I feel — now — it was one of our sins as a nation, the way we indulged them in sinful finery. We will be punished for it.”

Last night, Mrs. Pickens met General Cooper. Madam knew General Cooper only as our adjutant-general, and Mr. Mason's brother-in-law. In her slow, graceful, impressive way, her beautiful eyes eloquent with feeling, she inveighed against Mr. Davis's wickedness in always sending men born at the North to command at Charleston. General Cooper is on his way to make a tour of inspection there now. The dear general settled his head on his cravat with the aid of his forefinger; he tugged rather more nervously with the something that is always wrong inside of his collar, and looked straight up through his spectacles. Some one crossed the room, stood back of Mrs. Pickens, and murmured in her ear, “General Cooper was born in New York.” Sudden silence.

Dined with General Cooper at the Prestons. General Hampton and Blanton Duncan were there also; the latter a thoroughly free-and-easy Western man, handsome and clever; more audacious than either, perhaps. He pointed to Buck — Sally Buchanan Campbell Preston. “What's that girl laughing at?” Poor child, how amazed she looked. He bade them “not despair; all the nice young men would not be killed in the war; there would be a few left. For himself, he could give them no hope; Mrs. Duncan was uncommonly healthy.” Mrs. Duncan is also lovely. We have seen her.

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 148-50

Diary of Judith W. McGuire: April 27, 1862

The country is shrouded in gloom because of the fall of New Orleans! It was abandoned by General Lovell — necessarily, it is thought. Such an immense force was sent against the forts which protected it, that they could not be defended. The steamer Mississippi, which was nearly finished, had to be burnt. We hoped so much from its protection to the Mississippi River. Oh, it is so hard to see the enemy making such inroads into the heart of our country! It makes the chicken-hearted men and women despondent, but to the true and brave it gives a fresh stimulus for exertion. I met two young Kentuckians to-night who have come out from their homes, leaving family and fortunes behind, to help the South. After many difficulties, running the blockade across the Potomac, they reached Richmond yesterday, just as the news of the fall of New Orleans had overwhelmed the city. They are dreadfully disappointed by the tone of the persons they have met. They came burning with enthusiasm; and anything like depression is a shock to their excited feelings. One said to me that he thought he should return at once, as he had “left every thing which made home desirable to help Virginia, and found her ready to give up.” All the blood in my system boiled in an instant. “Where, sir,” said I, “have you seen Virginians ready to give up their cause?” “Why,” he replied, “I have been lounging about the Exchange all day, and have heard the sentiments of the people.” “Lounging about the Exchange? And do you suppose that Virginians worthy of the name are now seen lounging about the Exchange? There you see the idlers and shirkers of the whole Southern army. No true man under forty-five is to be found there. Virginia, sir, is in the camp. Go there, and find the true men of the South. There they have been for one year, bearing the hardships, and offering their lives, and losing life and limb for the South; it is mournful to say how many! There you will find the chivalry of the South; and if Virginia does not receive you with the shout of enthusiasm which you anticipated, it is because the fire burns steadily and deeply; the surface blaze has long ago passed away. I honour you, and the many noble young Kentuckians who have left their homes for the sake of our country, but it will not do for Kentucky to curl the lip of scorn at Virginia. Virginia blushes, and silently mourns over her recreant daughter, and rejoices over every son of hers who has the disinterestedness to leave her and come to us in this hour of our bitter trial.”

I do not believe that this young man really means, or wishes, to return; he only feels disheartened by the gloom caused by our great national loss.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 108-9

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: October 27, 1862

Yesterday it rained steadily all day; the first day of continuous rain we have had since August: and even yet, Mr. P. says, in plowing today at the farm, they turn up dry earth.

Mr. P.'s cousin, Rev. R. Taylor here to tea tonight. He is a chaplain in the army. It makes me feel despairing to hear him tell of the ragged and barefoot soldiery: of the desolation inflicted by war: of the country laid waste, and the houses burned, and the blackened chimneys standing. It is a very serious question how the army is to be clothed and fed this winter.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 155-6

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Friday, May 27, 1864

We remained in bivouac until 2 o'clock waiting for rations. After getting our rations we crossed the Tennessee river by pontoon bridges and started on our way for Rome, Georgia. The railroad bridge of the Memphis & Ohio, here at Decatur, was destroyed by our gunboats soon after the battle of Shiloh. It took seventy-two pontoon boats to make our bridge. Our road today lay through a large swamp which it took some time for the artillery and provision trains to cross; besides we had some very rough country to cross, and did not get into bivouac until midnight.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 191

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Brigadier-General John A. Rawlins to Mary Emeline Hurlburt Rawlins, April 23, 1864

Culpepper C. H., Va., April 23, 1864.

. . . Clear, dry weather. . . .

Burnside's corps commenced moving up from Annapolis today to join this army. The moment it arrives we will be ready for action. Reports from Sherman, Butler and Sigel are all as cheering as we could hope for under the circumstances. The enemy have attacked Plymouth in Butler's Department and been repulsed. This initiatory move of theirs will delay Butler somewhat in his preparations for cooperation with the movements of this army. Sherman and Sigel will both be in readiness without doubt at the appointed time, as will, we trust, General Butler, notwithstanding this attack at Plymouth. In Sherman, Meade and Butler, General Grant has three Generals, all in important commands, whom he can trust. They are all three loyal to their country, friends of the General, and consequently with no ambitions to be gratified that look not to the success of our arms in obedience to and in accordance with his orders and plans.

General Sigel shows a fine disposition, and I have great hopes that he is a much better officer than General Pope gave him credit for being. He is active in his preparations for the part he is to perform in the coming campaign, is subordinate as far as I am able to judge, and has unquestionably the interest of the country at heart.

As yet no official report has been received from General Banks. General Grant has discharged his duty faithfully in this matter by suggestions to the President that Banks be relieved by General J. J. Reynolds in the command of the Gulf Department. What the President will do we don't as yet know. General Banks may be, and I have no doubt is, a splendid man on presentations, but certainly as a soldier he is a failure. The men under his command are to all intents and purposes dead to the service. Private information would indicate that we have retrieved much that we had lost in the Red River affair. I hope this may be true.

The Fort Pillow Massacre is one of the most brutal and horrible acts of fiendishness on record. If it is true as reported, and the Confederate authorities endorse and approve it, I hope the tongue of every Northern person who would speak in justification of them or their cause may cling to the roof of their mouths. This might make dumb many who profess to be my friends, but certainly could not hush to me the sweet voice of the wife I love, for at such acts of cruelty and barbarism her noble and queenly nature will ever revolt.

Reports from the front are that Lee is massing all his cavalry near Fredericksburg with a view to advance against us, which may be true, but I doubt it. . . .

SOURCE: James H. Wilson, The Life of John A. Rawlins, p. 422-3

Lieutenant-Colonel Theodore Lyman to Elizabeth Russell Lyman, November 27, 1864

November 27, 1864

I think I will occupy the remainder of this letter with an account of our picnic yesterday to Butlerdom. The day was further remarkable for the departure of my dear General Humphreys to take command of the 2d Army Corps. For Hancock has got a leave of absence, and will doubtless be put to recruiting fresh troops, while it is hoped that the President will permanently assign Humphreys to this Corps. He is in high glee at going, and will be in despair if a big fight is not got up for his special benefit. He was a great favorite and was escorted by some fifteen mounted officers of the Staff to his new quarters, at which compliment I think he was gratified. I regretted not to be with him, but had to go with the General, who started by the mail train, at 8 A.M., to be early at Grant's Headquarters, whence they were to start. We took our horses on a freight car. In the train we found Generals Warren and Crawford, who were invited to be of the party. Arrived at City Point, we discovered that the Lieutenant-General was still in bed, whereat Meade did laugh, but the three stars soon appeared and went to breakfast. After which meal, our horses were put on the boat and we put ourselves on, and off we started. The party was a big one. There were Generals Grant, Meade, Warren, Crawford and Ingalls, and several Staff officers. There were then the bourgeois: to wit, a great many “Turkeys” (gentlemen who had come down to distribute those Thanksgiving fowls); two men who wanted to sell a steamer; one Senator, viz., Nesmith of Oregon, and one political blackguard named H–––, whose special business was to praise a certain Greek fire, of which more anon. This fellow's name is usually prefixed by “Pet.” He has wild hair and beard and a face showing a certain ability; his distinguishing mark, I am told, is the absence of any sort of morality or principle. With him was his son, a small and old boy, of whom they said that, if papa could not get the best at a game of poker, son would come in and assist. Senator Nesmith is a child of the people, and was prepared for his congressional duties by a residence of twenty-five years among the Indians. When he first got to Washington, he had never before seen a railroad, a telegraph, or a gas-light. “Senator Fessenden asked me what I thought of things. ‘Well,’ says I, ‘when I first came along I was full of the dignity of the position to which I had been elected; but now all I want to know is, who in thunder ever sent you fellers here!’” He has plenty of brains, this same, but is a very coarse man. The “Turkeys” were of various sorts: several of them were Club men, e.g., Mr. Benson, a gentleman who seemed a middle-aged beau, with much politeness and no particular brains. He kept bowing and smiling and backing into persons, and offering his chair to everyone, from orderlies up to General Grant. He requested to know whether in my opinion he could be properly considered as having been “under fire; because,” said he, “I stood on the Avery house and could see the shells explode in the air, you know!” All this motley crowd started at once for Deep Bottom; nor should I omit to say that we had also on board a Secesh bishop — Leigh of Georgia — who was going by flag of truce to Richmond. He had remained in Atlanta, and Sherman had told him if he wished to get back, he must go via Richmond. From him they got a good deal of entertaining conversation. His opinion of Sherman was very high and complimentary. “The old Book tells us,” he said, “that the race may not be to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, and we feel that Providence will not desert our righteous cause.” “Yes,” said General Meade, “but then we feel that Providence will not desert our cause; now how are you going to settle that question?” Whereat they both laughed. The bishop was a scholastic, quiet-looking man, and no great fire-eater, I fancy. The boat made fast at Aiken's landing, halfway between Deep Bottom and Dutch Gap. A Staff officer was there to receive us and conduct us, two miles, to General Butler's Headquarters. Some rode and some were in ambulances. The James Army people always take pretty good care of themselves, and here I found log houses, with board roofs, and high chimneys, for the accommodation of the gentlemen of the Staff. You might know it was Butler's Headquarters by the fact that, instead of the common ensign, he had a captured Reb battle-flag stuck up! This chieftain asked in the general officers and we were left to the care of the Staff, who were not behindhand in their civility.  . . . Presently Butler climbed on his horse and led the way to see Fort Harrison, which was captured in the movements at the end of September. It was well worth seeing, for on our side of the river we have no hills: it is pretty much one plain with gullies. But here was a regular hill, of some size, dominating the whole country about. How they took the place, I hardly see, for the land is often for a mile in front of it, and the Rebs had artillery in position and a regular infantry running quite to the river. . . .

SOURCE: George R. Agassiz, Editor, Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, p. 279-82

In The Review Queue: Spring 1865

By Perry D. Jamieson

When Gen. Robert E. Lee fled from Petersburg and Richmond, Virginia, in April 1865, many observers did not realize that the Civil War had reached its nadir. A large number of Confederates, from Jefferson Davis down to the rank-and-file, were determined to continue fighting. Though Union successes had nearly extinguished the Confederacy’s hope for an outright victory, the South still believed it could force the Union to grant a negotiated peace that would salvage some of its war aims. As evidence of the Confederacy’s determination, two major Union campaigns, along with a number of smaller engagements, were required to quell the continued organized Confederate military resistance.

In Spring 1865 Perry D. Jamieson juxtaposes for the first time the major campaign against Lee that ended at Appomattox and Gen. William T. Sherman’s march north through the Carolinas, which culminated in Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender at Bennett Place. Jamieson also addresses the efforts required to put down armed resistance in the Deep South and the Trans-Mississippi. As both sides fought for political goals following Lee’s surrender, these campaigns had significant consequences for the political-military context that shaped the end of the war as well as Reconstruction.

About the Author

Perry D. Jamieson is senior historian emeritus of the U.S. Air Force. He is the coauthor of Attack and Die: Civil War Military Tactics and the Southern Heritage and the author of Crossing the Deadly Ground: United States Army Tactics, 1865–1899.

ISBN 978-0803225817, University of Nebraska Press, © 2015, Hardcover, 320 pages, Maps, Photograph & Illustrations, End Notes, Bibliographic Essay & Index. $34.95.  To purchase a copy of this book click HERE.

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: July 9, 1861

Mr. Toombs is to be a brigadier-general. That is what I looked for. The two brothers Cobb are to be colonels; and Orr is to have a regiment.

Mr. Hunter succeeds Toombs in the State Department — and that disposes of him, if he will stay there. It is to be an obscure place; and if he were indolent, without ambition, it would be the very place for him. Wise is done for. He has had several fights, always drawing blood; but when he gets ready to make a great fight, he is ordered back for fear of his “rashness.” Exacting obedience in his own subordinates, of course he will obey the orders of Adjt.-Gen. Cooper. In this manner I apprehend that the three giants of Virginia, Wise, Hunter, and Floyd, will be neutralized and dwarfed at the behest of West Point. Napoleon's marshals were privates once — ours — but perhaps West Point may be killed off in the end, since they rush in so eagerly at the beginning of the war.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 60

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: March 19, 1862

He who runs may read. Conscription means that we are in a tight place. This war was a volunteer business. To-morrow conscription begins—the dernier ressort. The President has remodeled his Cabinet, leaving Bragg for North Carolina. His War Minister is Randolph, of Virginia. A Union man par excellence, Watts, of Alabama is Attorney-General. And now, too late by one year, when all the mechanics are in the army, Mallory begins to telegraph Captain Ingraham to build ships at any expense. We are locked in and can not get “the requisites for naval architecture,” says a magniloquent person.

Henry Frost says all hands wink at cotton going out. Why not send it out and buy ships? “Every now and then there is a holocaust of cotton burning,” says the magniloquent. Conscription has waked the Rip Van Winkles. The streets of Columbia were never so crowded with men. To fight and to be made to fight are different things.

To my small wits, whenever people were persistent, united, and rose in their might, no general, however great, succeeded in subjugating them. Have we not swamps, forests, rivers, mountains — every natural barrier? The Carthaginians begged for peace because they were a luxurious people and could not endure the hardship of war, though the enemy suffered as sharply as they did! “Factions among themselves” is the rock on which we split. Now for the great soul who is to rise up and lead us. Why tarry his footsteps?

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 147-8

Diary of Judith W. McGuire: April 21, 1862

The ladies are now engaged making sand-bags for the fortifications at Yorktown; every lecture-room in town crowded with them, sewing busily, hopefully, prayerfully. Thousands are wanted. No battle, but heavy skirmishing at Yorktown. Our friend, Colonel McKinney, has fallen at the head of a North Carolina regiment. Fredericksburg has been abandoned to the enemy. Troops passing through towards that point. What does it all portend? We are intensely anxious; our conversation, while busily sewing at St. Paul's Lecture-Room, is only of war. We hear of so many horrors committed by the enemy in the Valley — houses searched and robbed, horses taken, sheep, cattle, etc., killed and carried off, servants deserting their homes, churches desecrated!

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 107-8

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: October 23, 1862

Just heard of the birth of General Jackson's daughter: as much talk and ado about it almost, as if it were a little princess!

Unexampled drought! Not rain enough yet to enable the farmers to seed; consequently they cannot sow half crops. What is to become of the country? The fear is that there is not enough food in it to keep the people from starving.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 155

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Thursday, May 26, 1864

We left our bivouac at 6 o'clock this morning and marched twelve miles. Within a few miles of Decatur we went into bivouac for the night. Advance brigades of our army were skirmishing with the rebels today and it is reported that the colonel of the Seventeenth New Jersey Regiment was killed. Our men captured a provision train and also took some prisoners. Our corps teams have been sent out for fodder.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 191

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: July 8, 1861

There is a stout gray-haired old man here from Maryland applying to be made a general. It is Major J. H. Winder, a graduate of West Point, I believe; and I think he will be successful. He is the son, I believe, of the Gen. Winder whose command in the last war with England-unfortunately permitted the City of Washington to fall into the hands of the enemy. I have almost a superstitious faith in lucky generals, and a corresponding prejudice against unlucky ones, and their progeny. But I cannot suppose the President will order this general into the field. He may take the prisoners into his custody — and do other jobs as a sort of head of military police; and this is what I learn he proposes. And the French Prince, Polignac, has been made a colonel; and a great nephew of Koscinsko has been commissioned a lieutenant in the regular army. Well, Washington had his Lafayette — and I like the nativity of these officers better than that of the Northern men, still applying for commissions.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 59-60

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: March 18, 1862

My war archon is beset for commissions, and somebody says for every one given, you make one ingrate and a thousand enemies.

As I entered Miss Mary Stark's I whispered: “He has promised to vote for Louis.” What radiant faces. To my friend, Miss Mary said, “Your son-in-law, what is he doing for his country?” “He is a tax collector.” Then spoke up the stout old girl: “Look at my cheek; it is red with blushing for you. A great, hale, hearty young man! Fie on him! fie on him! for shame! Tell his wife; run him out of the house with a broomstick; send him down to the coast at least.” Fancy my cheeks. I could not raise my eyes to the poor lady, so mercilessly assaulted. My face was as hot with compassion as the outspoken Miss Mary pretended hers to be with vicarious mortification.

Went to see sweet and saintly Mrs. Bartow. She read us a letter from Mississippi — not so bad: “More men there than the enemy suspected, and torpedoes to blow up the wretches when they came. Next to see Mrs. Izard. She had with her a relative just from the North. This lady had asked Seward for passports, and he told her to “hold on a while; the road to South Carolina will soon be open to all, open and safe.” To-day Mrs. Arthur Hayne heard from her daughter that Richmond is to be given up. Mrs. Buell is her daughter.

Met Mr. Chesnut, who said: “New Madrid1 has been given up. I do not know any more than the dead where New Madrid is. It is bad, all the same, this giving up. I can't stand it. The hemming-in process is nearly complete. The ring of fire is almost unbroken.”

Mr. Chesnut's negroes offered to fight for him if he would arm them. He pretended to believe them. He says one man can not do it. The whole country must agree to it. He would trust such as he would select, and he would give so many acres of land and his freedom to each one as he enlisted.

Mrs. Albert Rhett came for an office for her son John. I told her Mr. Chesnut would never propose a kinsman for office, but if any one else would bring him forward he would vote for him certainly, as he is so eminently fit for position. Now he is a private.

1 New Madrid, Missouri, had been under siege since March 3, 1862.

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 146-7

Diary of Judith W. McGuire: April 20, 1862

On Wednesday we saw eight thousand troops pass through town. We were anxious to see many who were among them. The sidewalks were thronged with ladies, many of them in tears. General C. passed with his brigade, containing the 17th, with its familiar faces. Colonel H. and himself rode to the sidewalk for a shake of the hand, but the rest could only raise their hats in recognition. I knew the cavalry would pass through Franklin Street, and hurried there to see my dear W. B. N. The order “Halt” was given just as he, at the head of his troop, was passing. I called him aloud. Amid the din and tumult of course he could not hear, but as he raised his cap to salute the ladies near him, his quick eye met mine; in an instant he was at my side: “My dear aunt, what are you doing here?” I came to look for you; where are you going?” Our orders extend to the steamers at the wharf,” he replied; “but don't be uneasy, we are going to the right place.” His face glowed with animation, and I meant to appear cheerful to him, but I found, after he was gone, that my face was bathed in tears. They all looked as if the world were bright before them, and we were feeling the appalling uncertainty of all things. A mother stood by, straining her weeping eyes for the parting glance at her first-born; and so many others turned their sad, weary steps homewards, as their dear ones passed from their sight.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 107

Major-General Thomas J. Jackson to Colonel John T. L. Preston, December 22, 1862

Caroline Co., Va., Dec. 22d, 1862.

Dear Colonel, — I hope that ere this your son Randolph is out of danger. I regretted to hear of his sickness.

Before this, you have, I presume, seen the details of the recent battle near Fredericksburg.

I greatly desire to see peace, blessed peace, and I am persuaded that if God's people throughout our Confederacy will earnestly and perseveringly unite in imploring His interposition for peace, that we may expect it. Let our Government acknowledge the God of the Bible as its God, and we may expect soon to be a happy and independent people. It appears to me that extremes are to be avoided, and it also appears to me that the old United States occupied an extreme position in the means it took to prevent the union of Church and State. We call ourselves a Christian people, and it seems to me our Government may be of the same character, without committing itself with an established Church. It does appear to me that as our President, our Congress, and our people have thanked God for victories, and prayed to him for additional ones, and He has answered such prayers, and gives us a government, that it is gross ingratitude not to acknowledge Him in the gifts.

Let the framework of our government show that we are not ungrateful to Him. If you think with me, I hope you will use the talent God has given you of impressively presenting facts to others, in securing a government which will gain God's blessing. Our Congressional Committee is in favor of repealing the law which requires Sabbath mails. Can you not write to several members of Congress for the purpose of securing their support of the committee's report? I have only seen one member of the House, Mr. Boteler, who warmly favors the repeal.

I am much obliged to you for your kind offer respecting Albert, &c. Please hire him to any one with whom he desires to live: and please ascertain whether Hetty has been hired, and if not, may I trouble you to do it f or me?  . . . I also wish you would sell my lot the first opportunity. I do not desire to keep it any longer. You need not consult me about the price, but take what you can get. Remember me very kindly to Maggie and all the family. I sent her a note from her brother John a few days since. He was on the recent battle field.

Very truly your friend,
T. J. Jackson.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 152-4

James Buchanan to Harriet R. Lane, January 16, 1862*

Wheatland, near Lancaster,
16 January [1862].
My Dear Harriet

I have received yours of the 11th Instant; & now enclose you a letter just received under the frank of Mr. Blair.

The invitation from Mr. and Mrs. Ward surprises me. Please to tell Judge Roosevelt that I have no loose copy of my speech in favor of the Independent Treasury, or it would afford me much pleasure to send it to him.

Do you know why our friend Schell is so much in Washington? Is he a witness or a party to any investigation there?

I have not & have not had any intention of writing a history of my administration. What I have done has been to collect & prepare for publication, should this become necessary, a reference to such public & other authentic documents as would fully justify me in all I did & all I did not do since the election of Mr. Lincoln in November last. For the present I have not the least idea of publishing it.

To tell me that a Paper like the Herald, which is read by every body, has no influence is vain. It has a most malign influence both at home & abroad. Its influence was evil in encouraging the secessionists to believe they might depart in peace, & then after its editor had been pursued by a mob, its influence in exasperating the people of England against us has been most unfortunate. It is considered there as a reflex of public opinion in this Country, & especially of that of the great city of New York.

Well, our friend Stanton has been appointed Secretary of War. I presume, without knowing, that this has been done by the influence of General M’Clellan. I have reason to believe they are very intimate. What are Mr. Stanton's qualifications for that, the greatest & most responsible office in the world, I cannot judge. I appointed him Attorney General when Judge Black was raised to the State Department, because his professional business & that of the Judge, especially in California cases, were so intimately connected that he could proceed in the Supreme Court without delay. He is a sound, clear-headed, persevering, & practical lawyer, & is quite eminent especially in Patent cases. He is not well versed in public, commercial, or constitutional law; because his professional duties as a County Lawyer never led him to make these his study. I believe he is a perfectly honest man & in that respect differs from his immediate predecessor. He never took much part in Cabinet Counsels, because his office did not require it. He was always on my side & flattered me ad nauseam. . . .1

Remember me in great kindness to the Judge & Mrs. Roosevelt.

Yours affectionately
James Buchanan.
Miss Harriet R. Lane.

* Buchanan Papers, private collection. The paragraph relating to Stanton is imperfectly printed in Curtis's Buchanan, II. 522.

1 A paragraph relating to an entirely different and personal matter is here omitted.

SOURCE: John Bassett Moore, The Works of James Buchanan, Volume 11: 1860-1868, p. 246-7

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Wednesday, May 25, 1864

We packed our knapsacks and sent them by rail to Rome, Georgia. The advance of our corps started early this morning for Decatur, Alabama, but our brigade taking up the rear did not leave Huntsville till in the afternoon. From Decatur we are to proceed to Rome, Georgia. We marched through fine farming country with good buildings, but as usual the people are gone and the farms are idle. Such is the effect of war, the citizens being afraid to remain while our armies are marching back and forth.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 190

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Colonel Charles Russell Lowell to Josephine Shaw, June 20, 1863

Camp BrIghtwood, A. M., June 20, 1863.

I look for a general action soon, — and shall not be surprised if Lee has Washington by August 1st. Don't think me gloomy, — I should regard the loss of Washington as the greatest gain of the war.

I don't wonder Rob feels badly about this burning and plundering, — it is too bad. In stead of improving the negro character and educating him for a civilized independence, we are re-developing all his savage instincts. I hope when the Fifty-Fifth goes down there, they may be able to make a change in negro warfare. Such a gentle fellow as Rob must be peculiarly disturbed about it.1

1 One company of the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Regiment had been part of a force under Colonel Montgomery, an old Kansas fighter, which had burned the village of Darien, Georgia. See Colonel Lowell's letter of June 26, to Hon. William Whiting of Massachusetts.

SOURCE: Edward Waldo Emerson, Life and Letters of Charles Russell Lowell, p. 261-2

Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Monday, November 4, 1861

Camp Ewing up New River. — Cold and clear; rain probably over. My boy's birthday — eight years old. It was such a morning as this eight years ago. I hope they are all well and happy at home. They will think of me today as they eat the birthday dinner and give him the birthday presents. Dear boy!

This morning four yawls were hauled into camp. It shows that it is intended to cross the river and attack the enemy. The blunder is in hauling them up in daylight. The enemy have thus been told of our design and will guard the few practicable ferries, as I fear, to our serious loss if not defeat. Stupid! stupid!

About seven hundred and fifty men are present this morning. Sixty-nine are sick. This, after sending off one hundred and fifty-nine sick men. Only one second-lieutenant for duty — a bad showing. Sun shining at 11 A. M. All the company officers gloomy and grumbling. The paymaster coming just at this time is all that makes endurable this state of things.

3:30 P. M. — Cannon firing heard. Shelling McCook's camp on the hills below. I order out Captain McIlrath and company to go with Mack's Battery.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 137

Brigadier-General John A. Rawlins to Mary Emeline Hurlburt Rawlins, April 22, 1864

Culpepper C. H., Va., April 22, 1864.

. . . We have been reviewing the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac, General Hancock commanding. It was the finest display of troops I ever witnessed at one review, twenty-two thousand men in all, in one clear, open field, with their glittering arms, their banners (many of them battle worn) and bands of music, all conspired to fill one with emotions of pride that he, too, was an American soldier fighting for the perpetuation of the principles of civil and religious liberty for our Republican form of Government. Never on but one occasion before have I seen so many men at one view, and that was not on review. It was in the second day's fight at Chattanooga. The whole of Thomas's army, numbering nearly twenty-five thousand men,1 moved upon the enemy's works across an open plain much like the field we were on to-day, but how different were my feelings from what they were to-day. As regiment after regiment of the brave men moved by I could but feel that many a one with proud and elastic step was marching to the end of time, the very farthest verge of which they had already reached, and such was the case. How eagerly my mind contrasted the pageantry, the grandeur of to-day with that of actual conflict at Chattanooga, and the mind would run along the lines of the not distant future and picture these brave men amid the din and heat of the coming terrible conflict. How different will they then appear to those whom Heaven spares to see them. They are full of hope and confidence, and in their buoyancy of spirit, their cheerful soldierly satisfaction I place the fullest confidence. They feel that they can whip Lee. This is much in our favor. I believe they can and will. Every effort is being made to concentrate troops from all sections here, and much has already been accomplished. From New York City alone we get three thousand men, or thereabouts, that have been for months virtually dead to the service. In all the Northern States are many troops, kept mainly that some of our major generals might have commands in Peace Departments commensurate with their rank. These are all being gathered up and brought to the front. I assure you nothing is left undone that should be done to give us victory. Victory here is what would be of much service to us. The Red River expedition appears to have been a terrible failure. Porter has his gunboats, several of them far up towards Shreveport, with the river falling so that he is prevented by sand-bars from either going forward or returning, and is waiting for rain and a rise in the river. I feel much anxiety for him.

You ask me if General McClellan is to have a command. He is not, for the present at least. You also ask me what kind of a general General Meade is. He is a man of real sterling worth, and is evidently the best general who has yet been honored with the command of this army. He is well liked by both men and officers, and no change is demanded by them. This you can rest assured is true, anything in the newspapers to the contrary notwithstanding. . . .

1 Probably considerably in excess of 25,000.

SOURCE: James H. Wilson, The Life of John A. Rawlins, p. 421-2

Lieutenant-Colonel Theodore Lyman to Elizabeth Russell Lyman, November 24, 1864

November 24, 1864

This was Thanksgiving, which is sloppy and snowy and haily with us, as a general thing, but here was sunny and pleasant. All day the waggons were distributing turkeys to the patriots, of whom I believe all got some, sooner or later. Flint, having seen that his squadron had their poultry, called a sergeant and asked him how much it made to each man. “Well,” said the sergeant, “it makes about a quarter of a turkey, a piece of pie, and four apples.” “Oh!” said Flint, “quite a meal.” “Yes,” said the sergeant dubiously, “yes, a small meal; I could eat half a turkey myself!” The turkeys were ready cooked and were a great treat to our ragamuffins. I took a ride in some woody spots within the lines, and it was pleasant, in the warm hollows, to hear the wee birds twittering and warbling, visitors from a northern climate, that have left you some weeks ago. Then there was a pileated woodpecker (not known with us), a great fowl, as big as a crow; black, with white feathers in his wings, an ivory beak and a gay scarlet cockade. He thought himself of great account, and pompously hopped up and round the trunks of trees, making a loud, chattering noise, which quite drowned the wee birds, like a roaring man in a choir. The pompous old thing was very much scared when I approached, and flew away, but soon began his noise on a distant tree.

SOURCE: George R. Agassiz, Editor, Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, p. 278-9

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: July 7, 1861

Major Tyler's health has improved, but I do not perceive a resumption of his old intimate relations with the Secretary. Yet he is doing the heavy epistolary work, being a lawyer; and the correspondence sometimes embracing diverse legal points. My intimacy with the colonel continues. It seems he would do anything in the world for me. He has put Mr. Shepherd to issuing passports to the camps, etc. — the form being dictated by the Secretary. These are the first passports issued by the government. I suggested that they should be granted by and in the name of the Chief of the Bureau of War — and a few were so issued — but the Secretary arrested the proceeding. The Secretary was right, probably, in this matter.

The President is appointing generals enough, one would suppose. I hope we shall have men for them. From five to ten thousand volunteers are daily offered — but not two thousand are accepted. Some have no arms; and others propose to serve only for six or twelve months. Infantry will not fight with hunting rifles or shot-guns; and the department will not accept mounted men, on account of the expense of transportation, etc. Oh, that I had power but for a week! There should then be accepted fifty regiments of cavalry. These are the troops for quick marches, surprises, and captures. And our people, even down to the little boys, are expert riders. If it were to be a short war — or if it were to be a war of invasion on our part — it might he good policy, economically, to discourage cavalry organizations. But we shall want all our men; and many a man would fight in the saddle who could not or would not march in the infantry. And mounted men are content to use the double-barreled shotgun — one barrel for ball, the other for buck-shot and close quarters.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 59

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: March 17, 1862

Back to the Congaree House to await my husband, who has made a rapid visit to the Wateree region. As we drove up Mr. Chesnut said: '”Did you see the stare of respectful admiration E. R. bestowed upon you, so curiously prolonged? I could hardly keep my countenance.” “Yes, my dear child, I feel the honor of it, though my individual self goes for nothing in it. I am the wife of the man who has the appointing power just now, with so many commissions to be filled. I am nearly forty, and they do my understanding the credit to suppose I can be made to believe they admire my mature charms. They think they fool me into thinking that they believe me charming. There is hardly any farce in the world more laughable.'”

Last night a house was set on fire; last week two houses. “The red cock crows in the barn!” Our troubles thicken, indeed, when treachery comes from that dark quarter.

When the President first offered Johnston Pettigrew a brigadier-generalship, his answer was: “Not yet. Too many men are ahead of me who have earned their promotion in the field. I will come after them, not before. So far I have done nothing to merit reward,” etc. He would not take rank when he could get it. I fancy he may cool his heels now waiting for it. He was too high and mighty. There was another conscientious man — Burnet, of Kentucky. He gave up his regiment to his lieutenant-colonel when he found the lieutenant-colonel could command the regiment and Burnet could not maneuver it in the field. He went into the fight simply as an aide to Floyd. Modest merit just now is at a premium.

William Gilmore Simms is here; read us his last poetry; have forgotten already what it was about. It was not tiresome, however, and that is a great thing when people will persist in reading their own rhymes.

I did not hear what Mr. Preston was saying. “The last piece of Richmond news,'” Mr. Chesnut said as he went away, and he looked so fagged out I asked no questions. I knew it was bad.

At daylight there was a loud knocking at my door. I hurried on a dressing-gown and flew to open the door. “Mrs. Chesnut, Mrs. M. says please don't forget her son. Mr. Chesnut, she hears, has come back. Please get her son a commission. He must have an office.” I shut the door in the servant's face. If I had the influence these foolish people attribute to me why should I not help my own? I have a brother, two brothers-in-law, and no end of kin, all gentlemen privates, and privates they would stay to the end of time before they said a word to me about commissions. After a long talk we were finally disgusted and the men went off to the bulletin-board. Whatever else it shows, good or bad, there is always woe for some house in the killed and wounded. We have need of stout hearts. I feel a sinking of mine as we drive near the board.

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 144-6