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150 Years Ago: Monday, May 13, 1861


It is the first day of a three-day gathering in Wheeling, a town in the northwest corner of Virginia. Called “The First Wheeling Convention,” it is attended by 429 delegates from 27 western counties of the state and is held at Washington Hall. There is initially debate over who should be allowed to attend based not only on location but also because some had come on their own initiative instead of being chosen at public meetings. They decide to create a committee on representation and organization to settle the issue so they can move forward. Though Virginia’s Ordinance of Secession had not yet been ratified by a vote of the people, there is strong pro-Union support in this region of Virginia and they do not feel they are being represented.

In Washington, President Lincoln sends a letter to U.S. Secretary of War Simon Cameron. It appears Lincoln’s meeting with Carl Schurz two days ago led the President to appoint him as a Brigadier General of four New York German regiments that have requested to form a brigade with Schurz as their leader. Lincoln is also supporting his request to head immediately to Fortress Monroe in Virginia, which the Union still occupies. Schurz wants to command the garrison, but if Cameron objects to it Lincoln says Schurz is willing to waive rank if it means he can go. Lincoln’s use of the words “By plan of the organization, I see I am to appoint the Generals” and “Why should it not be done at once!” leads TCWP to believe that this was not the first time Cameron had ignored an order from the President.

It is Mrs. Lincoln’s second day in New York City and her every move is followed by the press. In the morning she views carriages at Brewster’s and ends up purchasing one for $900. She spends the afternoon purchasing an “extensive” amount of dry goods and dines with an “intimate friend.” That evening she entertains callers at the Metropolitan Hotel.

Queen Victoria of Britain issues a “proclamation of neutrality” which recognizes the Confederate States of America as having rights due to the current state of war. While this proclamation is not a formal recognition of the seceded states, it becomes a common standard for how the major foreign powers will handle the situation in North America.

Sherman recently received a letter from Professor David Boyd at the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy in Alexandria, Louisiana. Up until Louisiana seceded from the Union, Sherman was serving as the first Superintendent of the Academy. Today he writes his old friend, now on the opposite side of the conflict:

I know that I individually would not do any human being a wrong, take from him a cent, or molest any of his rights or property, and yet I admit fully the fact that Lincoln was bound to call on the country to rally and save our Constitution and Government. Had I responded to his call for volunteers I Know that I would now be a Major General. But my feelings prompted me to forbear and the consequence is my family and friends are almost cold to me, and they feel and say I have failed at the critical moment of my life.

It may be I am but a chip on the whirling tide of time destined to be cast on the shore as a worthless weed. But I still think in the hurly-burly of strife, order and system must be generated, and grow and strengthen till our people come out again a Great and purified Nation.

Lincoln is of right our President and has the right to initiate the Policy of our Government during his four years, and I believe him sincere, in his repeated declarations that no dismemberment of our nation shall ever be thought of. The inevitable result is war and an invasive war.

About thecivilwarproject

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. The site is not a source of revenue for me, nor is it tied in with a company or 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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