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

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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