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150 Years Ago: Sunday, November 30, 1862

So I am informed on pretty good authority…” writes John F. Reynolds to his sisters in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; he has received word of his promotion to Major General. Though it is not official, he is confident enough to nominate his staff for promotion and also adds two new officers.

General Ambrose E. Burnside & Officers (John F. Reynolds is standing off Burnside’s left shoulder in center of photo)
November 1862 in Warrenton, Virginia
Photography by Alexander Gardner
Source: Library of Congress

Though the promotion is welcome news, Reynolds is more excited about the plates he saw of photos taken at Warrenton by photographer Alexander Gardner. “I was taken in one with Burnside sitting on the stump of a tree, and it was very good. If you can ever get a copy of it do so – I saw only the plates.” He had arrived too late to be photographed with the other generals, but in the picture with Burnside he stood off his left shoulder. He apparently thought the picture showed the qualities that he liked in himself; a proud officer of the 1st Corp. Strong, firm, yet soft and caring. Even though he had photos taken of himself before, the enthusiasm over this photo was a first for him.

It’s been several weeks since his last letter to his fiancee Molly in St. Louis, Missouri; today U.S. Captain James Love writes her a long letter from his camp in Nashville, Tennessee:

It is a rainy Sunday Afternoon, and I must needs improve it! Would you believe it? I have actually been to church this morning, almost the first opportunity I have had in Dixie! It was an epis­copal church with its gorgeous worship windows, & music. I entered into it fully & with feeling even to the responses, but was miserably disappointed in the sermon. It only lasted 10 or 15 minutes & there was literally & truly nothing in it. It treated of the season of Advent, of which this is the first Sunday & explained what was good “Church”? doctrine on that head. Neither did I hear a word of the war. Now when the war is left out in Nashville, now the very center of a great war & all its havoc & devastation, where all the people thereof flew from the presence of both Armies as from a plague – all the Sermon & prayers had better been left out. He might have even prayed for peace & every hated foe he had (the hypocrite) would have prayed with him, but he didn’t even do that, but let him rest. I enjoyed the meeting, & not less so that there was numerous pretty girls there.

Well as I said, it is raining and all nature looks muddy & deso­late. I feel it, for I got wet coming from church, & the rain had put out our fire, so I sat for a while in the Tent the charity of the Doctor has vouchsafed to me – not the care of Uncle Sam – for he now pleads poverty & expects of us hard work in return for few comforts.

Such is our experience. I speak for thousands of officers, the working men of the army not the butterfly grubs, who lay around great cities, devouring the substance of the government & making the very name of an officer at home a stench in the eyes of the people – but I could not stand it & I came to head Qts. where I found newspapers & correspon­dence hold sway, & I joined as you see the majority. It is the first time in three weeks I’ve been here that I could get the time or the quietness to write to you – or any other private matter, so it is the more welcome. I have had such a busy time since my health allowed me to go to work – that my promotion, I fear will not promote it – writing is a sickly position, & when every thing has to be just so as red tape & precision & figures will have it. It is even worse. I have a stove, & hot air inside – while frost & rain & sunshine hold revel outside.

But the day is breaking & ere the New Year – old scores of work will be cleared off & new I hope will not accumulate – if I can help it. Then I can enjoy myself in camp & have a horse on the march. I have already had time for many pleasant round games of Cards, & much literature in the shape of the daily papers in the evening. So much for Hd. Qts. & an open railroad.

I said nature looked gloomy. The leaves have been falling slowly but surely with most the colors of the rainbow, ere & after they fell. Cotton has been picked or burnt & so the seasons travel and tomorrow is the first of December, or the beginning of Winter. Although we have been lay­ing here – our men have been working hard in guard duty & fatigue duties their time is filled up – building fortifications & guarding forage trains while the rest of our Div. has been marching & chasing after guerillas & the advance of the enemy who are still entrenched at Murfreesboro 40 miles off just where we were three months ago. We will soon be fully outfitted for a Southern campaign, & I suppose we must travel as light as the “secesh” if we wish to catch them, so we wont be over burdened with tents or clothing, (on the Wagons) on the contrary it must be on our backs, aye both our house our cooking utensils and our rations, such is life in the Army now. I pity those of weak constitution – even under a southern winter, but I prefer a Southern to a Kansas one myself although we were comfortably fixed there – and as I said I expect now to have a horse, & a servant & the concomitant chances for comfort.

I looked for a letter from you today, but as I was disappointed I revenge myself characteristically.

I hope you are all as well as heart could wish you –  in body & mind. I wish you well through the holidays, & all your fatigues in the soldiers cause or that of their destitute better halves. May they prosper & you achieve a success. I hope Sallie & all the rest are well. I am so sorry that I cant join you. My present position precludes it altogether so I may have to run another year if the exigencies of the war last so long, but there is no use speculating. A fortunate chance might send me on the way tomorrow.

I will send you a Journal that if you change names of Divisions & Regts will give a better account than I can of our movements for Nov.

I will also try and send you a Nashville paper occasionally & now with love & kisses for the present for Christmas & New Years – good night –

I am my dear Molly

Yours Sincerely

James E. Love

It appears to be a quiet day for everyone, including U.S. President Lincoln, who attends a rare religious service with his wife Mary at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington.

150 Years Ago: Saturday, November 29, 1862

Eli Pinson LandersSource: Library of Congress

Eli Pinson Landers
Source: Library of Congress

Confederate Private Eli Pinson Landers was just 19 when he left home last year to join the Flint Hill Grays. Like many in his home county of Gwinnett County, Georgia, his family owns no slaves. His enlistment has caused a great deal of hardship within his family, as he left behind his widowed mother and two younger sisters to tend to their 240-acre farm.

Camped on the south side of Fredericksburg and waiting for the enemy to make their move, he writes a quick letter to his mother about his health and the lack of basic necessities:

“We stayed on picket 48 hours down in Fredericksburg. I am not so very well today. My cold seems to get worse. I have got a very bad cough and I am so bad stopped up till I sometimes almost smother. I am fearful that I will be sick. We have a very fair prospect for a snow now soon. I dread it very bad without we was better prepared for it. I don’t know what we will do if we don’t get shoes.”

C.S.A. Lieutenant General D. H. Hill’s troops finally arrive in Fredericksburg; his men have traveled 200 miles since November 20. Unfortunately they are not yet allowed to rest; General Robert E. Lee wants Hill’s troops to continue southeast twenty miles to Port Royal in case U.S. General Ambrose Burnside tries to cross his men there.

Winfield Scott Hancock, 1862Source: Library of Congress

Winfield Scott Hancock, 1862
Source: Library of Congress

Winfield Scott Hancock had always been a reliable soldier; a graduate from West Point who was stationed in California when the war started, he had a reputation for excelling at anything given to him. While he was originally used for administrative work due to his attention to detail, he was eventually given a field commission; former General George B. McClellan had once telegraphed to Washington during an earlier 1862 campaign that “Hancock was superb today” and the nickname “Hancock the Superb” stuck. During the battle of Antietam this past September he assumed command of the First Division, II Corps after Major General Israel Richardson died in the horrific fighting at “bloody lane.” Hancock had shown great courage that day as he took command of the field and galloped between his troops and the enemy. Today he is rewarded for his efforts and is promoted to U.S. Major General of Volunteers.

150 Years Ago: Friday, November 28, 1862

The First of Many Former Slaves Enlist in Union Army under Major General Benjamin Butler

The First of Many Former Slaves Enlist in Union Army under Major General Benjamin Butler, May 1862

Far away in the Union occupied city of New Orleans, Louisiana, Major General Benjamin Butler has been overseeing the occupation and military efforts with little input from Washington City. Even though the general idea of black men being able to enlist in the military has not been approved by Congress or the President, Butler has taken it upon himself to allow former slaves to enlist within regiments under his control. The New Orleans Delta publishes a letter from one of the black soldiers enlisted:

We arrived at this place (Lafourche Landing) on the 1st instant, eight hundred to eight hundred and forty-five strong, only about thirty men having fallen out, and these from sickness. We have not, as yet, had the pleasure of exchanging shots with the enemy. But we are still anxious, as we ever have been, to show to the world that the latent courage of the African is aroused, and that, while fighting under the American flag, we can and will be a wall of fire and death to the enemies of this country, our birth-place.

When we enlisted, we were hooted at in the streets of New Orleans as a rabble of armed plebeians and cowards. I am proud to say, that if any cowardice has been exhibited since we left Camp Strong, at the Louisiana Race Course, it has been exhibited by the rebels. They have retreated from Boutee Station beyond Terrebonne Station, on the line we have marched, burning bridges and destroying culverts, which, no sooner than coming to the knowledge of Col. Thomas, of the 8th Vermont Regiment, have been repaired as quickly as they have been destroyed.

I am not of a disposition to claim for our regiment more than its share of praise, but I venture the assertion that there is not a regiment in the service more willing to share the hardships of marching and bivouacking, and more desirous of meeting the enemy, than this regiment, led by Colonel S. H. Stafford and Major C. F. Bassett.

As Confederate Lieutenant General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and his men near their final destination of Fredericksburg, Virginia, he receives a letter from his wife (Mary) Anna from Charlotte, North Carolina. She lets him know that he is the father of a baby girl, born November 23, who is named Julia Laura and looks a lot like her father. “Julia” is named after his mother who died when he was seven, and the middle name “Laura” is after his younger sister. Most importantly it appears that Anna and Julia are healthy; this is a relief to Jackson, who lost his first wife in childbirth (the son was stillborn) and his first daughter with Anna, named Mary, lived for only a few weeks.

Burnside returns to his headquarters across the river from Fredericksburg, refreshed from his very brief stay in Washington. He has rejected Lincoln’s proposed plan and General-in-Chief Henry Halleck backs his decision. With Lincoln giving in to Burnside and Halleck, it is now up to Burnside to carry through with the plan he started fourteen days ago. It continues to rain and Burnside’s men continue to sit in camps north of the city, awaiting their orders.

Taken from a Richmond, Virginia newspaper printed on November 20, The Georgia Weekly Telegraph in Macon echoes reports on movements around Fredericksburg from a Confederate perspective:

The Enquirer of this morning says the enemy yesterday took possession of the hills commanding Fredericksburg, on the north side of the Rappahannock, and covered the town with their batteries. The women and children have been leaving for the past few days, and ‘ere now the place is fully prepared to invite its doom. Its heroic citizens would prefer for it to surrender. Our forces still hold possession, and the enemy for the present does not dare attempt the passage of the river. Thus far the contending forces only threaten each other.

Prisoners captured at Fredericksburg say that Steinwhar’s corps occupy the hills opposite Fredericksburg. Their camp fires extend twelve miles.

A private letter from Gordonsville says the whole Yankee cavalry made a raid into Greenbrier county on Friday last and captured about a dozen wagons, and fired the barn of Colonel McCherry, and destroyed his wheat crop.

Prisoners who arrived yesterday by flag of truce say that the removal of McClellan came near producing a revolution among the Federal troops; that entire regiments threw down their arms, and those detailed to arrest them refused to, and that Burnside’s army is thoroughly demoralized.

These statements may be received with great caution.

150 Years Ago: Thursday, November 27, 1862

Lewis Hayden

Lewis Hayden

In Boston, Massachusetts, Governor John Andrew joins a self-emancipated black man, Lewis Hayden, at his Beacon Hill home. Hayden had escaped a life of slavery in Kentucky and had settled in Boston where he runs a used clothing store and is an abolitionist leader. Before the Civil War, he used his residence as a safe house as part of the Underground Railroad. Today they share a meal and discuss how to persuade U.S. President Abraham Lincoln to allow black men to serve in the military. This topic has often been discussed politically in Washington City, but has yet to receive support. Hayden has friends willing to fight and feels it is important for former slaves to be allowed to fight for the freedom of others still in bondage. Andrew promises Hayden that he will seek permission to form one regiment of black soldiers, but after Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, just a little more than a month away.

Over the years, Thanksgiving is slowly becoming an established holiday, though the date varies depending on what state one lives in. Today New York Governor George Opdyke’s proclamation is produced in the New York Times, declaring today as a day of public Thanksgiving and Praise.

On the steamer Baltimore near Aquia Creek, Lincoln meets with the Commander of the Army of the Potomac, General Ambrose Burnside. Lincoln feels Burnside is “stuck” and has studied the situation he now faces. Burnside somewhat agrees; with the flooded Rappahannock River he sees no good place to cross his troops and Confederate General Robert E. Lee has over 40,000 men on the heights above Fredericksburg waiting for them and watching their every move. Burnside also feels a great deal of pressure from General-in-Chief Henry Halleck, who is constantly telegraphing him that he needs to attack now.

Lincoln tells Burnside that he is the President and has the ultimate authority over Halleck, and is personally not opposed to waiting until the correct pieces are in place that would bring them the most likely success for a victory. He proposes that Burnside put additional corps at Port Royal, 20 miles southeast downriver. He also suggests to put a similar force of new troops south on the north bank of the Pamunkey River (east of Richmond), which would be backed by gunboats. These two additional forces could converge at or behind Fredericksburg while Burnside attacks Lee head-on. In Lincoln’s view, this will prevent Lee from falling back to Richmond and will force him to abandon his current lines at Fredericksburg. He knows this will take time and is willing to wait; he just wants to see movement and action, something that he often longed for in his previous General, George McClellan.

After discussing the plan, Burnside accompanies Lincoln back to Washington City. Lincoln telegraphs Halleck, who was not only unaware of the President’s visit with Burnside but also Lincoln’s proposed plan, so the communication is very unexpected. From Lincoln, Halleck reads of his plan with the closing comment that “I think the plan promises the best results, with the least hazard, of any now conceivable.” From Burnside comes a very different reaction; he flatly disagrees with Lincoln’s plan, fearing it will take too long to deploy the other columns and will take the campaign too far into the Winter months. Halleck agrees with Burnside and sticks with the message he’s been sending for days now: Attack as soon as possible.

Out West, Major General Ulysses S. Grant has his men on the move in northern Mississippi. Major General William Tecumseh Sherman has moved his troops from Memphis and comprises Grant’s right wing; Major General James Birdseye McPherson is commanding the center, and Major General Charles Smith Hamilton is leading the left wing after spending the last couple of months in Corinth, Mississippi. Confederate Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton is deeply worried by this show of force and sends a telegram to Adjutant Inspector General Samuel Cooper:

The enemy is advancing in force; crossed a considerable force in Helena; is also moving down the river in boats. I am told General Holmes objects to sending 10,000 men to Vicksburg; it is essential to its safety. I hope the order will be reiterated at once. I have no doubt we shall soon be attacked by a superior force. A strong demonstration also against Port Hudson.

150 Years Ago: Wednesday, November 26, 1862

George Robertson is a long-time Kentucky lawyer and professor who once served as legal counsel for Abraham Lincoln and other Illinois heirs of Robert Todd, Mary Lincoln’s now deceased father. George and U.S. President Lincoln have been exchanging correspondence since September, when Lincoln issued a preliminary version of the

George RobertsonSource: Library of Congress

George Robertson
Source: Library of Congress

Emancipation Proclamation that now is set to go into effect in almost a month. Robertson had complained to Lincoln that Union troops were “forcibly detaining the slaves of Union Kentuckians” and asked him to prevent such an action. To make matters worse, the policy has now personally affected Robertson as one of his slaves fled to the camp of the 22nd Wisconsin Infantry, commanded by Colonel William Utley. Per established Union military guidelines on how runaway slaves should be treated, Utley enforced those rules and not only refused to return the slave but also banned Robertson from visiting the camp. In retaliation, Robertson – now a judge – had Utley indicted for harboring a slave and sued him in a U.S. District Court. Lincoln has been receiving exasperated correspondence from Utley and Robertson on the matter. Lincoln takes up his pen and proposes an offer to Robertson in an effort to end the situation:

My dear Sir: A few days since I had a dispatch from you which I did not answer. If I were to be wounded personally, I think I would not shun it. But it is the life of the nation. I now understand the trouble is with Col. Utley; that he has five slaves in his camp, four of whom belong to rebels, and one belonging to you. If this be true, convey yours to Col. Utley, so that he can make him free, and I will pay you any sum not exceeding five hundred dollars. Yours, A. LINCOLN

Lincoln hopes that his offer to pay Robertson for his runaway slave will be accepted; then the charges against Utley are dropped and more importantly, Robertson’s slave is free and no longer has to feel threatened that his old master may forcibly bring him back. It’s an interesting but not a rare situation, to have someone in support of the Union but still wanting to keep the institution of slavery intact.

In Richmond, Virginia, Confederate President Jefferson Davis is writing a more urgent letter to the governors of the Confederate states. He appeals for aid and assistance in enrolling conscripts (their version of a military draft) and in securing more supplies (guns, clothing and food) for army use. In addition, Davis strongly pushes for the continued use of slave labor in building defensive works for the army. If the slaves can do the hard manual labor in building the defenses, then the Confederate Army can reserve their energy for fighting and winning battles. The use of slaves for military purposes is a difficult thing to ask for, as many Southern women are relying on slave labor to help keep the farms running and afloat while their husbands are away fighting for the cause.

Union Commanding General Ambrose Burnside cannot catch a break. He has his pontoon boats, but Confederate General Robert E. Lee has his cannons and arms aimed at the Rappahannock River; if Burnside’s men try to connect the boats to build the two bridges needed for the army to cross, their position will be attacked. Also, in his haste to move quickly and take action in his new leading role, Burnside had failed to establish a working supply line. He had ordered train depots at Aquia Creek to be rebuilt weeks ago, but only today a working rail line is finally established so the large army can be supplied with food and other necessary goods.

Burnside had began the Fredericksburg to Richmond campaign with vigor, but now he found himself stuck. The rain continued to fall and the river was rising. The fords were all becoming impassable, especially for his army of over 110,000. The roads were a sloppy, muddy mess, which slowed any travel by foot or wagon. He has always been focused on crossing at Fredericksburg, but now that Lee’s troops are firmly and well positioned, Major General Edwin Sumner, leader of the Grand Division that would be the first to cross, asks Burnside to reconsider as he felt the move would mean undeniable slaughter of his men. Sumner suggests that Burnside “look down the river” instead.

From Washington City it was clear to President Lincoln that his new General that was so quick to move is now frozen and going nowhere. He had seen it before with previous General George B. McClellan, but Lincoln, as he had done with McClellan, thought that maybe if he met with Burnside one-on-one he could boost his confidence and talk Burnside into taking some kind of action. Without notifying his Secretary of War Edwin Stanton or General-In-Chief Henry Halleck, Lincoln makes his way to Acquia Creek, Virginia and arrives late that evening with Burnside there to greet him. They go aboard the steamer Baltimore almost immediately; but it is too late for such a serious discussion. Lincoln decides that both should get a good night’s sleep and the true meeting of the minds can wait until morning.

In Baltimore, Maryland, nine-year-old Thomas “Tad” Lincoln has been spending the last couple of days at Barnum’s Hotel with Augustus “Gus” Gumpert, a well-to-do Philadelphia tobacco dealer that Mrs. Lincoln conducts business with and also a man whom Tad is very found of and considers his friend. Joining them is Thomas Cross, a White House messenger who is often charged with looking after Tad. Gus receives a telegram from Mary Lincoln, who has been on yet another shopping trip in New York City; she is leaving for Washington and would like Mr. Cross to come back with Tad tomorrow. It’s possible that the Lincoln’s knew they would both be away from home and thought Tad would be happier away from the city on his own adventure instead of left behind at the White House.


150 Years Ago: Tuesday, November 25, 1862

Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1870'sSource: Library of Congress

Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1870’s
Source: Library of Congress

In Washington City, Harriett Beecher Stowe and her 26-year-old daughter Hattie meet with U.S. President Abraham Lincoln at the White House for the first time. They had traveled from Andover, Maine for the occasion. Stowe had written the widely popular book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” in 1852, which depicted a realistic view of a slaves lives in the South. Over 300,000 copies were sold in the first year, and it brought a great awareness to the topic as it touched upon subjects that were often ignored. As a result, it greatly strengthened the abolitionist movement and calls to end slavery practices in the South. It is said that Lincoln greeted Stowe by stating “So you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.” Their conversation was held in private; Stowe would write to her husband that “I had a really funny interview with the President.” Stowe’s daughter Hattie was only slightly more informative: “It was a very droll time that we had at the White House I assure you… I will only say now that it was all very funny—and we were ready to explode with laughter all the while.

At 2:20am, U.S. Major General Ambrose Burnside has finally received enough pontoon boats to make one bridge. He hopes that daylight will bring enough for two bridges as he has selected two specific sites for crossing the Rappahannock River into Fredericksburg, Virginia. Furious at Brigadier General Daniel Woodbury, who was in charge of delivering the pontoons days ago, Burnside had him arrested due to his perception that the boats were severely delayed due to Woodbury’s lack of urgency. Later that day Burnside receives a telegraph from President Lincoln: “If I should be in a Boat off Aquia Creek at dark to-morrow (Wednesday) evening, could you, without inconvenience, meet me and pass an hour or two with me? A. Lincoln”

From his headquarters near Fredericksburg, Confederate General Robert E. Lee sends a letter to Confederate President Jefferson Davis about the status of Burnside’s army. It has become clear to Lee that Burnside is going to try to take Fredericksburg and then head to the capital of Richmond; this theory is supported by reports in the Northern newspapers. However, Lee feels that he and his men have the advantage and Burnside is stuck in a no-win situation. He has witnessed a large gathering of Union troops by the Rappahannock River days before, and now only a few can be seen as they have moved back beyond visual range. Obviously things are not going smoothly for the Union. Lee believes that Burnside will continue with his plans even though Lee strongly predicts the plan will be unsuccessful and they can defeat the Union at Fredericksburg. Lee knows that if Burnside tries to change his plans now that it will be the equivalent of admitting defeat. Burnside must attack the Confederates here; he has no other option.

150 Years Ago: Monday, November 24, 1862

The Ohio State Journal reports that 100 women working in a factory at W. Gay and High Streets in Columbus, Ohio are producing 100,000 cartridges a day for the Union war effort. Except for the manager and his assistant, all of the employees are female. A day’s work for each person is established at 900 rounds, but it is often exceeded.

Sample Cartridge PacketFrom Civil War

Sample Cartridge Packet
From Civil War

“The preparation of the cartridge is simple, though somewhat interesting. The (metal) balls are shipped from Cincinnati in boxes of sawdust. They are turned out into a coarse sieve and separated for use. Several little girls at the huge heap are employed in ‘setting’ them. This consists of placing side by side a given number — about three dozen — on an iron plate something like a candlestick.

This plate is then ‘dipped’ into a vessel of melted tallow for the purpose of lubricating. These plates, when the tallow cools, are placed on long tables at which the regular hands work. A ball is placed against the end of a round stick or rule, just equal to it in diameter.

It is held there with the left hand while with the right the paper wrappers are rolled around the ball and a portion of the rule. Next, the stick is removed, the paper that surrounded it doubled down and tied with a cord, twice around; thus ‘bagged,’ and with one end open for the powder, the papers are set in boxes, to be forwarded to the next room for the charge of powder. The powder is rapidly filled into them from chargers or measures. This done, and a little folding of the outer end of the paper bag, complete the work, save the packing in boxes for shipment.”

Major General William T. Sherman is back in Memphis, Tennessee. He takes the time to write a lengthy letter to his brother, Ohio Senator John Sherman about their current situation in the Western campaign:

Dear Brother: I am just back from Columbus, Ky., where I went to meet with Gen. Grant. I start on Wednesday, with all the troops that can be spared from Memphis, to co-operate with Grant against the enemy now enforced behind the Tallahatchee, about 60 miles S.E. of Memphis. Grant may have about 35,000 and I shall have 17,000. Our old regiments are very small, and I am sorry to learn that no recruits are ready to fill them up. So much clamor was raised about the draft that I really was led to believe there was something in it, but now I suppose it was one of those delusions of which the papers are so full. Your letter of the 16th is before me. I could write a good deal on the points that you make, but hardly have time to do them justice. The late election doesn’t disturb me a particle. The people have so long been accustomed to think they could accomplish anything by a vote, that they still think so; but now a vote is nothing more than a change and will produce no effect. The war might have been staved off a few years, or the issue might have been made up more clearly, or the first enthusiasm of the country might have been better taken advantage of; but these are now all past, and fault-finding will do no good. We are involved in a war that will try the sincerity of all our professions of endurance, courage and patriotism. Leaders will of course be killed off by the score. Thousands will perish by the bullet or sickness; but war must go on – it can’t be stopped. The North must rule or submit to degradation and insult forevermore. The war must now be fought out. The President, Congress, not earthly power can stop it without absolute submission…

Of course I foresaw all these complications at the outset, and was amused at the apathy of the country after the South had begun the war by the seizure of arsenals, forts, mints and public property, and still more at the call for 75,000 volunteers, when a million was the least that any man who had ever been South would have dreamed of. These half-way measure at the start only add labor in the end…

McClernand is announced as forming a grand army to sweep the Mississippi, when, the truth is, he is in Springfield, Ill., trying to be elected to the U.S. Senate. I believe at this moment we have more men under pay at home than in the field, and suppose there is no help for it. If you want to make a good law, make a simple one, “No work, no pay.” No pay unless on duty at the place where the army is. That would save tens of millions per annum.

I leave here the day after to-morrow for Tchullahoma, to communicate with Grant at Holly Springs. Our joint forces should reach near 50,000 men, but sickness and other causes will keep us down to about 40,000.

Yours affectionately, W.T. Sherman

Matthew MarvinTaken in Chicago, Illinois (1863)

Matthew Marvin
Taken in Chicago, Illinois (1863)

From camp at Stafford Hills near Falmouth, Virginia, 23-year-old Private Matthew Marvin, 1st Minnesota, had a difficult week. He was reunited with his regiment a couple of weeks ago after spending three months at Coney Island General Hospital for a wound in his left thigh. The wound was not from battle, but from a freakish incident in which an unknown soldier from the 5th New Hampshire Infantry discharged his gun in camp and sent the ball traveling through Matthew’s tent.

Now back with his fellow Minnesota men, he’s feeling homesick: “Dead-broke and 3,000 miles from home.” He and the 1st Minnesota had to march on a difficult road for what appeared to be no particular reason and he was placed on picket duty. Today he makes a quick entry in his diary that they have received orders to have two days rations and 60 rounds ready for each soldier at a moments notice. He wonders if this means a night move. He notes that the orders have made the “boys feel lively.”

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln has received Brigadier General Carl Schurz’s letter from the 20th providing him feedback on why he feels the Republican party had major losses in the last election. It appears some of Schurz’s points might have hit Lincoln a little personally; however, Lincoln has known Schurz for several years and had made it a point to request his opinion on the matter, no doubt knowing he would get an honest response from the German. He writes back:

My dear Sir,

I have just received, and read, your letter of the 20th. The purport of it is that we lost the late elections, and the administration is failing, because the war is unsuccessful; and that I must not flatter myself that I am not justly to blame for it. I certainly know that if the war fails, the administration fails, and that I will be blamed for it, whether I deserve it or not. And I ought to be blamed, if I could do better. You think I could do better; therefore you blame me already. I think I could not do better; therefore I blame you for blaming me. I understand you now to be willing to accept the help of men, who are not republicans, provided they have “heart in it.” Agreed. I want no others. But who is to be the judge of hearts, or of “heart in it”? If I must discard my own judgment, and take yours, I must also take that of others; and by the time I should reject all I should be advised to reject, I should have none left, republicans, or others — not even yourself. For, be assured, my dear Sir, there are men who have “heart in it” that think you are performing your part as poorly as you think I am performing mine. I certainly have been dissatisfied with the slowness of Buell and McClellan; but before I relieved them I had great fears I should not find successors to them, who would do better; and I am sorry to add, that I have seen little since to relieve those fears. I do not clearly see the prospect of any more rapid movements. I fear we shall at last find out that the difficulty is in our case, rather than in particular generals. I wish to disparage no one — certainly not those who sympathize with me; but I must say I need success more than I need sympathy, and that I have not seen the so much greater evidence of getting success from my sympathizers, than from those who are denounced as the contrary. It does seem to me that in the field the two classes have been very much alike, in what they have done, and what they have failed to do. In sealing their faith with their blood, Baker, an Lyon, and Bohlen, and Richardson, republicans, did all that men could do; but did they any more than Kearney, and Stevens, and Reno, and Mansfield, none of whom were republicans, and some, at least of whom, have been bitterly, and repeatedly, denounced to me as secession sympathizers? I will not perform the ungrateful task of comparing cases of failure.

In answer to your question “Has it not been publicly stated in the newspapers, and apparently proved as a fact, that from the commencement of the war, the enemy was continually supplied with information by some of the confidential subordinates of as important an officer as Adjutant General Thomas?” I must say “no” so far as my knowledge extends. And I add that if you can give any tangible evidence upon that subject, I will thank you to come to the City and do so.

Very truly your friend, A Lincoln

Daily Civil War Calendar

November 2012

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