150 Years Ago: Wednesday, May 8, 1861

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Daily Highlights/Updates:
  • Claiborne Fox Jackson, Governor of Missouri (to be posted 5/16 PM)
  • Edward D. Baker, Senator from Oregon (to be posted 5/16 PM)
  • William T. Sherman, Military Leader, USA (to be posted 5/16 PM)

According to a correspondent from 7thNYInfantry.jpgWashington, the Seventh New York Regiment (shown here) are enduring hard conditions at Camp Cameron in Georgetown. The tents were not constructed properly and as a result most of the regiment was completely drenched by the morning. Meals have also been problematic; many of the men didn’t get their supper until after midnight. The regiment likely misses their former quarters in the Capitol building.

Major Robert Anderson, who will be leading volunteer efforts in Kentucky and Western Virginia, issues directions to women in New York City who are eager to support the military effort. He asks them not to attempt to furnish food, as it would be too expensive and hospitals are kept well supplied. He does ask that they furnish a few items that he feels are a comfort and blessing to those in the field:

  • A large supply of Canton flannel night shirts, large and long
  • Green silk eye-shades, with elastic bands
  • Common slippers of large size
  • Hospital knapsacks
  • Field-stretchers 

At the White House, Colonel Edward D. Baker joins the Lincoln family for breakfast. He was a long-time friend of the family, a fellow Springfieldian and the Lincoln’s second son, who had died in 1850 at the age of three, had been named after him. Baker is very excited and makes an application to the President to be appointed Major General of the volunteers, specifically from the west and ideally from Illinois. 

In afternoon Lincoln goes for carriage ride with Secretary of State William Seward, where they receive greetings of respect and support along their path.

In the middle of the night in St. Louis, the steamer J.C. Swan arrives courtesy of the Confederacy. It contains small arms, bayonets and four large artillery in heavy plank boxes marked “Tamoroa” (a kind of marble). The weapons are immediately taken to Camp Jackson, a secessionist camp outside of the city. Missouri Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson had previously shipped six brass cannons to the Camp from what was left of Missouri’s own arsenal. It was still unclear what the goal of Camp Jackson was; originally it was formed to seize the St. Louis Arsenal along the Mississippi River, but Nathaniel Lyon had gotten there first and most of the arms were sent to Springfield. Lyon now occupied the Arsenal and “high ground” with 10,000 volunteer troops, mostly Germans.  

For weeks, William T. Sherman has been hounded by his brother & brother-in-law to join the Union military effort, and for weeks Sherman has continued to defend his position to stay in St. Louis in a year-long contract as President of the St. Louis Railroad Company. Yesterday his brother, Senator John Sherman, had met privately with President Lincoln to come up with a way to get his brother a commission in the regular army. Whether it was the rising secessionist movement in St. Louis, Lincoln’s proclamation for three year volunteers, the pressure from his family or his own conscience, today Sherman writes to Secretary of War Simon Cameron offering his services. 

However, there are stipulations. Sherman starts by staying he was always prepared to serve his country but “will not volunteer for three months, because I cannot throw my family on the Cold support of charity, but the three years call of the President would enable an officer to prepare his command and do good service.” He is not willing to volunteer and is not going to take a “mere private’s place” given that he had graduated from West Point and had served in California and Louisiana in what would be referred to as “the old army” (the pre-Civil war army). He feels that if he enlists the men around him will not know him well enough to elect him to his “appropriate place.” He states that “Should my services be needed, the Records of the War Department will enable you to designate the Station in which I can render best service.” 

Sherman was not a man of high confidence or power. He had struggled most of his life to maintain a good home for his wife that he adored and their children. Being surrounded by successful family members there was a constant pressure he put upon himself to reach his own full potential, but he had yet to reach it. He was a practical, stubborn man and given that he had been in Louisiana when the state left the Union he saw the war from a very different view than the politicians on either side. He was a man of honor and didn’t want to leave a position that he had committed a year to serve. He was very skeptical about Lincoln’s abilities and didn’t want to be a political-appointed military leader; he wanted to get an appointment based on his own merits and his previous service. But now Sherman has offered his services and outlined his conditions; it was up to Washington what his fate would be. 

For more information, visit our website at thecivilwarproject.com

About The Civil War Project

Like many others, I have a passion for the Civil War era, and for decades have chosen to spend my much of free time researching this topic - particularly the people, as the human component is what I find most fascinating. This site is not a source of revenue for me, nor is it tied in with a company or other individual behind the scenes. It is my own personal venture. It is because of this genuine bond of respect and affection I feel towards this period in our history that I created "The Civil War Project." If this is your first time visiting the site, I welcome you and thank you for your interest. If you have any feedback or questions, please feel free to contact me at thecivilwarproject@yahoo.com.


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