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150 Years Ago: Sunday, November 23, 1862

Reverend Henry Ward BeecherSource: Library of Congress

Reverend Henry Ward Beecher
Source: Library of Congress

As the rain pours down in Washington City, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln opens a desk drawer and pulls out a stack of editorials from Reverend Henry Ward Beecher. Beecher is against slavery and bigotry of all kinds: religious, racial and social. He is often heard quoting his long-held belief: “Hold yourself responsible for a higher Standard than anyone else expects of you. Never excuse yourself.” Lincoln carefully reads every word, including the passage “We have been made irresolute, indecisive and weak by the President’s attempt to unite impossibilities; to make war and keep the peace; to strike hard and not hurt; to invade sovereign States and not meddle with their sovereignty; to put down rebellion without touching its cause…” A couple of the articles criticize Lincoln. As Lincoln finishes reading the harsh words, his face is flushed and he exclaims to his secretaries “Is thy servant a dog, that he should to this thing?”

The New York Times publishes a letter that details the capture of a group of four women who were smuggling military materials and letters containing Union military information from Memphis, Tennessee to the South. Initially they were to be treated leniently and they were released on bail, but the fact they were providing military information might lead the Union to charge them with espionage, with their fate to be decided by the Military Commission. Though the South refuses to publish their names out of “respectability”, the Times lists them as Mrs. Minnie Burr, Miss Winchester, Miss Merrill and Miss Creighton. Each one of the women had concealed underneath their skirts – and in two cases inside their drawers – large amounts of letters, papers and documents that contained valuable information. Women may not be able to fight on the battlefield, but many have created very non-traditional roles to assist in the cause – whether it be for the North or South.

Corporal Elisha Hunt Rhodes with the 2nd Rhode Island Volunteers continues to camp in New Stafford Court House, Virginia while they await orders on their final destination. He writes in his diary:

I am cold, in fact half frozen. As I write some of the officers who are hovering over a huge fire are singing “Home Sweet Home.” Well I should like to see my home. Our blankets are wet and we have no sun to dry them in some time. Yesterday our Regiment was on picket. We struck a new section of country where rail fences were plenty and had good fires. The roads are in bad condition from mud. Supplies begin to come from Acquia Creek and we are happy. I get a little home sick sometimes.

Brigadier General John Reynolds arrives near Acquia Creek, Virginia. It’s familiar ground to him, as he had spent a month here in the Spring with the Reserves. He had governed the town for a short time and in August had assumed a Division command nearby. He looks upon his return to the area as “good luck.”

Daily Civil War Calendar

November 2012

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