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150 Years Ago: Monday, April 15, 1861

By now most of the country was aware of the Battle at Fort Sumter and the end result. President Lincoln’s April 14 proclamation regarding troops was officially announced to the country, quickly followed by proclamations from state Governors carrying out the order. Even the Southern states that had seceded were each given a quota of a single regiment; those orders would not be carried out.

In Tennessee, Governor Isham Harris ordered a second session of the state legislature to consider the option of a second secession convention. While Tennessee had originally rejected the idea of secession, the call for troops and their quota of two regiments sent the Governor over the edge. He would refuse the order.

In Pensacola, Florida, Braxton Bragg (CSA) puts Lieutenant John Warden (USA) under arrest, making him the first prisoner of war. Three days prior, Bragg had been promoted to full General by CSA President Davis for his heroism; he was the fifth one to achieve this rank, and would eventually be one of only seven in the Confederacy.

In the 1860’s it was not uncommon for people to keep diaries. Now, thousands across the USA and CSA would keep Civil War journals in an effort to preserve history & their part in it. From her uncle’s plantation in Yazoo, Mississippi, 19-year-old Kate S. Carney wrote of hearing the good news of the Confederate victory at Fort Sumter, writing “Rejoice-Rejoice.

Six hundred miles north in Hanover, Indiana, Marie Hester Brandt would start a diary collection of her own. Today, this 38-year-old Quaker Sabbath schoolteacher wrote of Lincoln’s proclamation and her sadness over the affair. “Of all wars a civil war is the saddest, may the Lord overrule the affairs of Nation, and bring good out of evil”, she wrote.

As news quickly spread, people wrote to their loved ones on their thoughts regarding this unique set of circumstances. Edward M. Stanton on this day wrote to his brother-in-law in Pittsburgh. Having been appointed Attorney General by President Buchanan in 1860, he was credited with changing Buchanan’s stance on secession from tolerance to denouncing it as illegal & unconstitutional. Like many in government, he had strong views on the situation and what would be required for either side to win.


It is now certain that we are about to be engaged in a general civil war between the Northern and Southern States. Everyone will regret this as a great calamity to the human race. But at the same time attention will be directed to the influence it will exercise upon the business & affairs of the country.

I think it will result in a great activity in all mechanical & productive classes of business, and especially in whatever is connected with the supplies & transports required by a State of War. The contest will very soon be directed toward New Orleans. Its capture & fortification will no doubt be one of the first aims of the Government.

This will create a demand for boats, provisions, arms, ammunition, & supplies generally. The manufacturing interests of Pittsburgh will I think receive a strong impulse. — its shipping interests will especially be in great advance. A proclamation for seventy five thousand men will be issued today. A larger portion of these will have to come from the west and must be transported either east or South — a considerable no doubt in both directions. Their subsistence & transport will require supplies — become cheaper than by rail.

There will no doubt be an attack by the Southern forces on Washington — the capture of the capital will be the first movement probably. The government will of course strive to protect it but whether successfully or not is perhaps doubtful.

But in the end I think the most important & successful operations will have to be by the Mississippi in concert with corresponding movements on the Sea board.

But no general alarm or excitement. The Union feeling predominates. The impression prevails that Virginia will join the Confederate States & probably Maryland. Many persons are preparing to remove from here. I shall remain, and take the chances, feeling a firm faith in the final result in power of the Government and willing to encounter its risks.

These views I give you in confidence as the best judgment I can learn at present of the strange events now transpiring.

Give my love to Mrs. Hutchison and the family at Homewood. Ellen and the children are well.

Very truly,
Edwin M. Stanton


Daily Civil War Calendar

April 2011

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