Democrats for the disabled

Grand Review of Army, Wash. D.C., May, 1865  (LOC:

heroes’ welcome, at least in D.C. (“Grand Review of Army, Wash. D.C., May, 1865″ Library of Congress)

The The Grand Review of the Union armies occurred in Washington, D.C. on May 23rd and 24th. The soldiers would keep heading north to their homes and the next stage in their lives. The New-York Times promoted the government employment of veterans, especially those who were disabled. A Democrat paper (probably from Albany, New York) shared the concern for the disabled and saw an opportunity for The Democracy.

From a Seneca County, New York newspaper in May 1865:

How Shall the Returning Soldiers be Employed?

Unidentified soldier with amputated arm in Union uniform in front of painted backdrop showing cannon and cannonballs (between 1861 and 1865; LOC: LC-DIG-ppmsca-27369)

“Unidentified soldier with amputated arm in Union uniform in front of painted backdrop showing cannon and cannonballs” (between 1861 and 1865, Library of Congress)

The great problem before the country is how to employ the soldiers? The Evening Journal recommends them to go to “tilling the soil, to the workshop, &c.” Many of these poor fellows, alas, are wounded or disabled by fatigues and disease. They cannot meet the rugged work of farm and workshop. In the paper which makes this proposition is a list of sixty newly appointed office holders in this county, not one of whom is a soldier; yet the duty assigned to them was only to take a census of the county. Nearly 2,000 such officers are to be or have been appointed in the State. How many are returned soldiers? Few indeed we fear.

Gov. Fenton appointed Harbor Masters, Notaries, Commissioners, and a host of well paid officials. How many were taken from the scarred veterans of the field? – Not one. The organ of the office-holders bids them to be gone and dig. To the work shop or the workhouse with them! Greeley’s “Root Hog or Die,” – his benediction to the freed negroes – is equalled in brutality by the cool consignment of wounded men to the labors of the field, or the alternative of starvation!

The Democracy must take the matter in hand, and mend it, with other things. – Argus.

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free to vote?

"a natural solution in course of time"

“a natural solution in course of time”

150 years ago today President Johnson reportedly opined that the question of whether blacks should be allowed to vote in the South should be decided by loyal whites in the South.

From The New-York Times May 26, 1865:

The President on Negro Suffrage.

The President is reported to have yesterday given an opinion, to a deputation, on the question of negro suffrage, to the effect that it is a matter that may be safely left in the hands of the loyal white residents of the South. It is certainly a question which, in its primary bearings, chiefly affects the loyal citizens who will be brought into most direct contact with the negro population; who will in a measure be responsible for giving a profitable direction to negro labor, and who, above all, will be charged with the responsibility of placing the means of education within the reach of the vast neglected community set free by the war.

Richmond, Virginia. Group of Negroes ("Freedmen") by canal (1865; LOC:

“Richmond, Virginia. Group of Negroes (“Freedmen”) by canal” (1865, Library of Congress)

The President, of course, does not mean to indicate that the question of negro enfranchisement is not one of grave national interest, aside from its bearings on the industrial and social economy of particular sections. But, as we understand it, he takes the common-sense ground that loyal residents of the South, who have to live with the negro in his freed condition, may better be allowed to initiate measures for the further removal of negro disabilities, than speculative politicians living at a distance, and less familiar with the habits and wants and aspirations of the black people.

Negroes leaving the plough  (by Alfred R. Waud, Harper's Weekly, March 26, 1864; LOC:

ploughshares to swords (By Alfred R. Waud, Harper’s Weekly, March 26, 1864)

The matter is certainly not one to be disposed of by a sweeping decree, fulminated from the Executive Chamber without any regard to the peculiar interests of the sections most concerned, and irrespective of the organization of individual State authority now in progress. What the President doubtless aims at, is to see the people of the South, as distinct from the disloyal political managers, set to work, under the protection of the national authority, and recognize the new relation in which they stand to the negro population; and to do this as the first step toward reestablishing a proper relation between their separate State Governments and the supreme authority of the National Government. When that work is once set about — as it appears to be in Arkansas and North Carolina — in a loyal spirit, the question of negro suffrage will find a natural solution in course of time, without any arbitrary rule applied from without.

A far more pressing matter for the class concerned is that of well-directed and remunerative labor. This the negro is most likely to secure, not by creating antagonistic relations between him and the loyal citizens of another race, but by leaving to the natural agency of mutual self-interest to determine their relative status politically hereafter. This, we take it, is the theory which the President’s long and varied experience as a Southern citizen enables him to recommend.

Grand review of the great veteran armies of Grant and Sherman at Washington, on the 23d and 24th May, 1865. The Army of the Potomac. The stand in front of the President's house occupied by the President and cabinet, Grant and Sherman, and reviewing officers  (LOC:

President Johnson and other dignitaries at Grand Review (May 23/24, 1865)

The image of the ballot box is from WPClipart


Memorial day ceremony, 1923 (LOC:

“Memorial day ceremony, 1923″ (Library of Congress)

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Congratulations to Allen Gathman at Seven Score and Ten for over 1750 consecutive daily posts and for a very well-deserved vacation!

Thanks to his example and support I found a niche and got somewhat close to filling it – most weeks I managed to post six days. Six out of seven ain’t real bad, but it’s not Seven Score and Ten and most of the other “Daily News” sites over to the right.

Thank you, Allen. This Sesquicentennial has been a great experience.

vincit qui patitur

Atlanta, Ga. Gen. William T. Sherman on horseback at Federal Fort No. 7 (by george N. Barnard, 1864; LOC: LC-DIG-cwpb-03628)

“tlanta, Ga. Gen. William T. Sherman on horseback at Federal Fort No. 7″ (1864, Library of Congress)

Grand review, May 1865  (LOC:

“Grand review, May 1865 ” (Library of Congress)

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“A bark canoe in a tempest on mid-ocean”

Utica Morning Herald & Daily Gazette 5-22-1863

reprinted The Atlantic monthly piece (Utica Morning Herald & Daily Gazette 5-22-1863)

150 years ago this week the Utica Morning Herald & Daily Gazette (at the Library of Congress) devoted its front page to a reprint of an article that assessed Abraham Lincoln’s historical significance. The president did not seem up to the huge task of saving the Union upon taking office, but he was helped by the synergy that developed between him and the American people (Northern), who “showed strength and virtues which they were hardly conscious of possessing.” Mr. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was decisive for the successful conclusion of the war and to give him a place in universal history. Most of the piece recounted the history of slavery in America. Here’s mostly the conclusion from the June 1865 issue of The Atlantic Monthly:


Memento Mori

remember his achievements (Library of Congress)

The funeral procession of the late President of the United States has passed through the land from Washington to his final resting-place in the heart of the Prairies. Along the line of more than fifteen hundred miles his remains were borne, as it were, through continued lines of the people; and the number of mourners and the sincerity and unanimity of grief were such as never before attended the obsequies of a human being; so that the terrible catastrophe of his end hardly struck more awe than the majestic sorrow of the people. The thought of the individual was effaced; and men’s minds were drawn to the station which he filled, to his public career, to the principles he represented, to his martyrdom. There was at first impatience at the escape of his murderer, mixed with contempt for the wretch who was guilty of the crime; and there was relief in the consideration, that one whose personal insignificance was in such a contrast with the greatness of his crime had met with a sudden and ignoble death. No one stopped to remark on the personal qualities of Abraham Lincoln, except to wonder that his gentleness of nature had not saved him from the designs of assassins. It was thought then, and the event is still so recent it is thought now, that the analysis and graphic portraiture of his personal character and habits should be deferred to less excited times; as yet the attempt would wear the aspect of cruel indifference or levity, inconsistent with the sanctity of the occasion. Men ask one another only, Why has the President been struck down, and why do the people mourn? We think we pay the best tribute to his memory and the most fitting respect to his name, if we ask after the relation in which he stands to the history of his country and his fellow-man.

Before the end of 1865, it will have been two hundred and forty-six years since the first negro slaves were landed in Virginia from a Dutch trading-vessel,…

[Abraham Lincoln (4-17-1910; LOC:

“His temper was soft and gentle and yielding”

The position of Abraham Lincoln, on the day of his inauguration, was apparently one of helpless debility. A bark canoe in a tempest on mid-ocean seemed hardly less safe. The vital tradition of the country on Slavery no longer had its adequate expression in either of the two great political parties, and the Supreme Court had uprooted the old landmarks and guides. The men who had chosen him President did not constitute a consolidated party, and did not profess to represent either of the historic parties which had been engaged in the struggles of three quarters of a century. They were a heterogeneous body of men, of the most various political attachments in former years, and on many questions of economy of the most discordant opinions. Scarcely knowing each other, they did not form a numerical majority of the whole country, were in a minority in each branch of Congress except from the wilful absence of members, and they could not be sure of their own continuance as an organized body. They did not know their own position, and were startled by the consequences of their success. The new President himself was, according to his own description, a man of defective education, a lawyer by profession, knowing nothing of administration beyond having been master of a very small post-office, knowing nothing of war but as a captain of volunteers in a raid against an Indian chief, repeatedly a member of the Illinois Legislature, once a member of Congress. He spoke with ease and clearness, but not with eloquence. He wrote concisely and to the point, but was unskilled in the use of the pen. He had no accurate knowledge of the public defences of the country, no exact conception of its foreign relations, no comprehensive perception of his duties. The qualities of his nature were not suited to hardy action. His temper was soft and gentle and yielding; reluctant to refuse anything that presented itself to him as an act of kindness; loving to please and willing to confide; not trained to confine acts of good-will within the stern limits of duty. He was of the temperament called melancholic, scarcely concealed by an exterior of lightness of humor,—having a deep and fixed seriousness, jesting lips, and wanness of heart. And this man was summoned to stand up directly against a power with which Henry Clay had never directly grappled, before which Webster at last had quailed, which no President had offended and yet successfully administered the Government, to which each great political party had made concessions, to which in various measures of compromise the country had repeatedly capitulated, and with which he must now venture a struggle for the life or death of the nation.

Gen. Robert Edward Lee  (LOC:

but loyal to Virginia

The credit of the country had not fully recovered from the shock it had treacherously received in the former administration. A part of the navy-yards were intrusted to incompetent agents or enemies. The social spirit of the city of Washington was against him, and spies and enemies abounded in the circles of fashion. Every executive department swarmed with men of treasonable inclinations, so that it was uncertain where to rest for support. The army officers had been trained in unsound political principles. The chief of staff of the highest of the general officers, wearing the mask of loyalty, was a traitor at heart. The country was ungenerous towards the negro, who in truth was not in the least to blame,—was impatient that such a strife should have grown out of his condition, and wished that he were far away. On the side of prompt decision the advantage was with the Rebels; the President sought how to avoid war without compromising his duty; and the Rebels, who knew their own purpose, won incalculable advantages by the start which they thus gained. The country stood aghast, and would not believe in the full extent of the conspiracy to shatter it in pieces; men were uncertain if there would be a great uprising of the people. The President and his cabinet were in the midst of an enemy’s country and in personal danger, and at one time their connections with the North and West were cut off; and that very moment was chosen by the trusted chief of staff of the Lieutenant-General to go over to the enemy.

Every one remembers how this state of suspense was terminated by the uprising of a people who now showed strength and virtues which they were hardly conscious of possessing.

In some respects Abraham Lincoln was peculiarly fitted for his task, in connection with the movement of his countrymen. He was of the Northwest; and this time it was the Mississippi River, the needed outlet for the wealth of the Northwest, that did its part in asserting the necessity of Union. He was one of the mass of the people; he represented them, because he was of them; and the mass of the people, the class that lives and thrives by self-imposed labor, felt that the work which was to be done was a work of their own: the assertion of equality against the pride of oligarchy; of free labor against the lordship over slaves; of the great industrial people against all the expiring aristocracies of which any remnants had tided down from the Middle Age. He was of a religious turn of mind, without superstition; and the unbroken faith of the mass was like his own. As he went along through his difficult journey, sounding his way, he held fast by the hand of the people, and “tracked its footsteps with even feet.” “His pulse’s beat twinned with their pulses.” He committed faults; but the people were resolutely generous, magnanimous, and forgiving; and he in his turn was willing to take instructions from their wisdom.

London Punch 1-24-1863 (

An English view of Emancipation Proclamation (London Punch January 24, 1863)

Unidentified African American soldier in Union infantry sergeant's uniform and black mourning ribbon with bayonet in front of painted backdrop (between 1863 and 1865; LOC:  LC-DIG-ppmsca-34365)

“Unidentified African American soldier in Union infantry sergeant’s uniform and black mourning ribbon with bayonet in front of painted backdrop” (between 1863 and 1865, Library of Congress)

The measure by which Abraham Lincoln takes his place, not in American history only, but in universal history, is his Proclamation of January 1, 1863, emancipating all slaves within the insurgent States. It was, indeed, a military necessity, and it decided the result of the war. It took from the public enemy one or two millions of bondmen, and placed between one and two hundred thousand brave and gallant troops in arms on the side of the Union. A great deal has been said in time past of the wonderful results of the toil of the enslaved negro in the creation of wealth by the culture of cotton; and now it is in part to the aid of the negro in freedom that the country owes its success in its movement of regeneration,—that the world of mankind owes the continuance of the United States as the example of a Republic. The death of President Lincoln sets the seal to that Proclamation, which must be maintained. It cannot but be maintained. It is the only rod that can safely carry off the thunderbolt. He came to it perhaps reluctantly; he was brought to adopt it, as it were, against his will, but compelled by inevitable necessity. He disclaimed all praise for the act, saying reverently, after it had succeeded, “The nation’s condition God alone can claim.”

And what a futurity is opened before the country when its institutions become homogeneous! From all the civilized world the nations will send hosts to share the wealth and glory of this people. It will receive all good ideas from abroad; and its great principles of personal equality and freedom—freedom of conscience and mind,—freedom of speech and action,—freedom of government through ever-renewed common consent—will undulate through the world like the rays of light and heat from the sun. With one wing touching the waters of the Atlantic and the other on the Pacific, it will grow into a greatness of which the past has no parallel; and there can be no spot in Europe or in Asia so remote or so secluded as to shut out its influence.

Reading the Emancipation Proclamation / H.W. Herrick, del., J.W. Watts, sc. (1864; LOC:

“Reading the Emancipation Proclamation” (C1864, Library of Congress)

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exhumation impracticable

[Cold Harbor, Va. African Americans collecting bones of soldiers killed in the battle] (April 1865; LOC:

“Cold Harbor, Va. African Americans collecting bones of soldiers killed in the battle” (April 1865, Library of Congress)

Family and friends weren’t allowed to exhume the remains of soldiers in Virginia, especially if they had been dead less than a year.

From a Seneca County, New York newspaper in 1865:

The Removal of Dead Soldiers from Virginia.

Colonal [sic] Edward W. Smith, Adjutant General of the Department, has given publicity to the following important order relative to the exhumation of the bodies of deceased soldiers. Relatives of the lamented men are constantly besieging the military authorities to permit the removal of bodies, without reference to the period of time they may have been in the ground. Refusals are now as constant as applications, owing to sanitary considerations, which are necessarily controlling in their nature. The order will attract very general attention. It is as follows: –

RICHMOND, VA., May 22, 1865.

The general commanding the department calls the attention of relatives and friends of deceased officers and men who are buried in Virginia to the fact that attempts to remove the remains of such officers and men, when they had been buried less than a year, have in every instance proved impracticable from the condition in which they were found.

By command of Maj. Gen. ORD.
ED. W. SMITH, A. Adjutant General.


Richmond, Virginia. Gen. Edward O.C. Ord, wife and child at the residence of Jefferson Davis. In the doorway is the table on which the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee was signed (April 1865; LOC: LC-DIG-cwpb-02928)

“Richmond, Virginia. Gen. Edward O.C. Ord, wife and child at the residence of Jefferson Davis. In the doorway is the table on which the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee was signed” (April 1865, Library of Congress)

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May Day Memorial Day

Ruins of Secession Hall, Charleston, S.C. (by george N. barnard, 1865; LOC: LC-DIG-stereo-1s02493)

“Ruins of Secession Hall, Charleston, S.C.” (1865, Library of Congress)

It’s been over four years now since JASPER, The New-York Times’ correspondent wrote from Charleston in the seceded South Carolina. After the United States’ surrender of Fort Sumter in April 1861 JASPER was made to leave town. Now that Charleston was back in Union hands The Times had another correspondent in Charleston (who apparently didn’t sign himself with a pen name all in capitals). 150 years ago this month he reported that commerce was gradually increasing. Blacks organized a May 1st commemoration of the Union prisoners who died at a prison camp set up on the grounds of the Washington Race Track. The military commander of the city set up a home guard made up of black troops and also ordered blacks from the country back to the country to the plantations set aside for them by General Sherman.

From The New-York Times May 14, 1865:


The ruins of Charleston, S.C., showing the Sister Churches (Copyright by E. & H.T. Anthony & Co. in 1865.; LOC: LC-DIG-stereo-1s02464)

not “nothing but a mass of ruins”

View on Meeting St., Charleston, S.C., looking south, showing St. Michael's church, the Mills House, ruins of Central Church and Theatre in ruins in the foreground (by George N. Barnard, 1865; LOC:  LC-DIG-stereo-1s02442)

on Meeting Street

CHARLESTON, Sunday, May 7, 1865.

The recent order of President JOHNSON, removing restrictions on commercial intercourse with the Southern States, has had a most encouraging effect on the business class of this community. The old residents, who have all along declined embarking in trade in consequence of the difficulties which existed in respect to getting a supply of goods to this market, now show symptoms of going ahead and establishing themselves in business. The stores on Meeting, King, and other streets are being repaired and refitted, and the prospect is highly flattering that, by next Fall, the City of Charleston will present an appearance of activity that has not attached to it since the commencement of the rebellion. The impression seems to have prevailed at the North that Charleston was nothing but a mass of ruins, and that, consequently, no business of moment could be transacted. Perhaps it will astonish some of our friends at a distance to know that already quite a number of wholesale houses are in full tide of operation. As soon as the arrangement can be effected, it is contemplated running a line of steamers between this port and New-York, thus opening a direct and easy communication between the two points. When it is explained that at present we are almost wholly dependent on the government steamers for Northern news, those steamers usually arriving not oftener than once a week, it will be readily perceived what a great benefit it will be to us, when facilities are offered for getting the news twice or thrice a week. Hundreds of persons residing here, or in other portions of the department, are extremely anxious to proceed North, but the means of transportation are so limited that comparatively few of the applicants succeed in getting permits on the regular steamers. The number of travelers will, of course, be augmented to no small extent when the railroad communications are opened with the interior, and, aside from the necessity of the undertaking, a line of steamers to New-York will yield a handsome profit to its owners.

Ruins of the North Eastern R. R. Depot, where so many lives were lost by explosion, Charleston, S.C.  (c1865; LOC:

“Ruins of the North Eastern R. R. Depot, where so many lives were lost by explosion, Charleston, S.C.” (c1865, Library of Congress)

Measures are on foot to place the South Carolina, the Northeastern and other railroad lines dive[???]ing from the city, in running order. We will probably have the cars in motion in the direction of Columbia in three weeks’ time. An immense quantity of cotton is represented to be hidden away in the small towns which will find its way to this market and be used in exchange for Northern goods. In the absence of suitable stock and material it will be some months before the railroad will extend to the public the accommodations which they did formerly, but, doubtless all these matters will be adjusted as soon as orders can be filled at the Northern workshops. It would be a great convenience to have the Savannah railroad speedily opened, for the reason that the business relations of the two cities are such as require daily intercourse between them. The farmers and producers in the country are preparing to send supplies to this city when the communications will warrant the movement. For a while we must depend on the North for provisions, or until the crops can be raised in our own section.

In accordance with official orders, Tuesday of last week, was observed throughout the district as a day of humiliation, fasting and prayer. The national flag, draped and festooned with black, was displayed on public and private buildings, and from the vessels in the harbor. Business was generally suspended. Services were held in nearly all the churches, and a deep sense of the painful loss the country has sustained in the death of its Chief Magistrate pervaded the entire community. At sunrise a salute of thirteen guns was fired from the forts at the citadel and the arsenal. During the day guns were fired at intervals of half an hour, and at sunset a salute of thirty-six guns closed the ceremonies.


“A series of tombstones was installed at Washington Race Course in Charleston, South Carolina, marking the burial places of over one hundred Union soldiers.”

On the 1st of May the solemn ceremonies of dedicating the grounds of the Race Course where are buried two hundred and fifty-seven Union soldiers, who were prisoners in rebel hands, and who died from cruel treatment, were performed by the colored portion of this community. It is estimated that nearly ten thousand people were on the ground. The military organizations present were the Fifty-fourth New-York Volunteers, and the Thirty-fifth and One Hundred and Fourth colored regiments. Among the speakers were Gen. HARTWELL, Col. BEECHER, Rev. Mr. LOWE, and a number of leading colored men. Previous to the ceremonies, on the 1st, a party of twenty-five colored men belonging to an association known as “Friends of the Martyrs,” repaired to the grounds and newly raised the graves and erected a neat fence around the inclosure. A number of the “Patriotic Association of Colored Men” assisted in the work. In the course of the afternoon a procession was formed, in the line of which were nearly three thousand school-children. As they passed round the graves these children scattered upon them bouquets of flowers, as did also the others in the procession. The children then joined in singing a number of national and patriotic airs, after which the speaking was commenced. The only event which marred the solemnity of the occasion was the presence of a pic-nic party (colored) at a short distance from the Race Course.

Interior views of Fort Sumter, in April, 1865  (photographed 1865, [printed between 1880 and 1889]; LOC:

“Interior views of Fort Sumter, in April, 1865 ” (Library of Congress)

The 1st of May was joyously celebrated in Charleston by about one thousand white children, accompanied by their school teachers. At an early hour in the morning the party embarked on board the steamer Gen. Hooker and paid a visit to Fort Sumter and other fortifications in the harbor. In the afternoon the steamer made a trip up to Cooper and Ashley Rivers, and then came back to the city. In this instance, it will be observed, that the white portion of the people here have received some share of public attention, although at times it has really seemed as if there were no other than the colored population to be considered. If matters, relating to the condition and position of the colored people in this section be not perceptibly modified, we should not be surprised to learn of a change of sentiment among that class of whites who have always looked upon the subject in a consistent and practical light. If the individuals who look after the interests of the colored people will carry out the views of the government, they will do all that is required of them.

John P. Hatch, Bv't.-Maj. General (photographed between 1861 and 1865, printed later; LOC: LC-USZ62-113168)

John P. Hatch was Charleston’s military commander from February to August 1865

The disbanded officers and soldiers of LEE’s and JOHNSTON’s armies are finding their way to their several homes. A large number of the men of JOHNSTON’s force are among the recent arrivals in town. Yesterday and to-day quite a large party of WHEELER’s and JENKINS’ cavalry troops has made their way thither. In accordance with instructions from their commanding officers, they left their arms at Greensboro, where they will be taken possession of by the United States authorities. They know nothing of the whereabouts of DAVIS. Gov. MAGRATH has been at Greenville, using his fluence to get the South Carolina Legislature together’ with a view of appointing Senators and Representatives to the National Congress. The statement is fully corroborated that a large portion of JOHNSTON’s army were disbanded before the terms of surrender were effected with Gen. GRANT. Rebel money is utterly worthless; the people refuse to have anything to do with it. They are all rejoicing at the prospect of again enjoying a peace, and clamor loudly for Union.

Charleston, South Carolina. Headquarters of Gen. John P. Hatch, South Battery (April or may 1865; LOC: LC-DIG-cwpb-02425)

“Charleston, South Carolina. Headquarters of Gen. John P. Hatch, South Battery” (April or May 1865, Library of Congress)

General orders lately issued by Gen. HATCH, authorizes the formation of a Home Guard for the defence of the city when the troops now stationed here shall be sent on service elsewhere. The guard is made up of colored people. Yesterday a company of sixty of the guard paraded on Meeting-street, and attracted no small degree of attention by their neat and uniform appearance and their regularity in marching. They are to be assigned an armory somewhere near the citadel. In the same order, the colored people coming from the country are given ten days to leave the city and settle themselves upon the plantations set apart for their use by Gen. SHERMAN. Should they fail to comply with the orders they are informed that they can draw no more rations from the government. This is a step in the right direction. It is quite time that the city was rid of the thousands of idle and dissolute fellows who have no inclination to help themselves so long as government gives them free support. …

You can read part of an article about the May 1st ceremony at the race course by David W. Blight at Wikipedia. The Preservation Society of CharlestonPreservation Society of Charleston supports the idea that the Charleston commemoration was the nation’s first Memorial Day:

During the Civil War, Washington Race Course became a camp for Union prisoners of war. The death rate in the open field was frightful – at least 257 men died, and were buried in unmarked graves. After Union forces occupied Charleston, the dead were exhumed and reburied under respectful markers. In April 1865, freedmen built a fence around the burial ground, with an arch reading “Martyrs of the Race Course.” On May 1, 1865, thousands of African-Americans – freed slaves, children, Union soldiers – made a procession to the cemetery. They laid flowers on the graves, listened to speakers of both races, and picnicked on the grass. This celebration was America’s first Memorial Day. The martyrs of the racecourse were exhumed again in 1871 for proper military burial in South Carolina’s national cemeteries at Beaufort and Florence.

Fort Sumter, showing the effects of the bombardment by the artillery of the Army & Navy of the United States; while occupied by the rebels from April, 1861 to Feb., 1865 (1865; LOC: LC-DIG-ppmsca-35220)

“Fort Sumter, showing the effects of the bombardment by the artillery of the Army & Navy of the United States; while occupied by the rebels from April, 1861 to Feb., 1865″ (Library of Congress)

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what’s next?

Portrait of Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, officer of the Federal Army, and Generals of the Army of the Potomac, vicinity of Washington, D.C., June 1865 (by William Morris Smith, June 1865; LOC: LC-DIG-cwpb-03924)

“Portrait of Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, officer of the Federal Army, and Generals of the Army of the Potomac, vicinity of Washington, D.C., June 1865″ (Library of Congress)

President Lincoln wasn’t afraid to swap horses midstream of the rebel invasion back in 1863. Thankfully for the Union cause, George Gordon Meade, the new commander of the Army of the Potomac, sure knew how to play defense against the attacking Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg.

150 year ago today General Meade wrote to his wife in his last wartime letter published in The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade … (page 279-280):


I depended on the boys to tell you all the news. You will see by the papers that the great review is to come off next Tuesday. On that day, the army of the Potomac, consisting of the cavalry, Ninth, Fifth and Second Corps, will, under my command, march through Washington and be reviewed by the President. Today’s paper contains an announcement of the fact, in a telegram from Mr. Stanton to General Dix, which it is expected will bring the whole North to Washington.

I have heard nothing further about the proposed new duties, or about going to West Point. The order reducing the armies is published, and I suppose the reduction will take place immediately after the review, so it will not be long before the question is settled.

General Meade was a West Point graduate who had served steadily in the U. S. army since 1842. It’s not surprising that he was wondering what his next army assignment would be. Probably many of the returning volunteers were anxious about what they would be doing in civilian life.

General Meade

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quiet kanawha

It had been real quiet for the New York First Veteran Cavalry in the Kanawha Valley, but our SENECA correspondent was able to report the April surrender of a small rebel force at Lewisburg on Appomattox terms. The veterans in the Veteran cavalry weren’t sure when they could come home but were going to make the best of the wait with strawberries and ice cream.

From a Seneca County, New York newspaper in 1865:

From the First Veteran Cavalry.

May 15, 1865.

FRIEND STOWELL: – The great events which have been crowded into the past few weeks, the glorious victories of Grant and Sheridan, the triumphant entry into Richmond, the surrender of Lee, the wonderful achievements of Sherman and the atrocious murder of our President and Commander-in-Chief have so filled and excited the public mind that accounts from a single regiment attract but little attention. Yet there may be some who still feel an interest in the veterans, and for their gratification I will give you a few items.


pretty peaceful today, too (2008 photo by Ken Thomas)

During the last three months everything has been remarkably quiet in the “District of Kanawha.” Now and then a flag of truce has come down from Gauley. Here and there a little scout of fifty or sixty miles, and that is about all that has occurred to relieve the tedium of camp life, and remind us that we really are in the field.

While upon one of these scouts, however, soon after the news of Lee’s surrender had been received, your correspondent had the honor of meeting Col. Hounshell the commandant of the Rebel Port of Lewisburg who had come down to make terms for his command, and if possible for the numerous independent or Guerrilla bands that have operated in this part of the country. Information was immediately sent to Department Head Quarters, instruction received, and negotiations opened at Gauley Bridge, the result of which was that Col. H. surrendered his entire command upon the terms granted by Grant to Lee and a party was soon sent to Lewisburg to receive the arms and to grant the necessary paroles. Over fifteen hundred men have already been paroled including several Colonels, Majors, and any number of Line Officers. Quiet and order are restored to this section of the country and citizens are rapidly resuming their accustomed avocations. We carried with us to Lewisburg the mournful intelligence of the infamous murder of our President and the dastardly attempt upon the life of Secretary Seward. The citizens of Lewisburg with officers and men of the Confederate army were earnest in their expressions of deep regret at these wicked crimes, and seemed to feel that they had lost a friend. The kind and generous policy which Mr. LINCOLN had adopted, had endeared him to all, and many have learned his worth only too late. It is to be hoped that President Johnson will pursue the same course marked out by our late President and soon restore peace and quiet to our distracted country.

Gen. William T. Sherman

loved and venerated (said to be an 1865 photo of General Sherman wearing a mourning ribbon for Abraham Lincoln)

What a tremendous furore has been raised against the gallant SHERMAN by the rabid papers and fanatics of the north. – Set on by such men as Halleck, they seem to ignore entirely all the wonderful achievements and mighty victories of that great commander, and because he differs with them in politics, or has in their profound judgment, committed a single error, they denounce him in the most bitter terms and seem bent upon his utter ruin. It is some satisfaction to know that the more respectable portion of the Republican Press still support and defend this gallant man who has done so much to bring the war to a close, but it is more to know that all the execrations of these fanatical cowards are in vain and that to-day General Sherman stands among the first in the love and veneration of the American people.

Whether our regiment is soon to come north or not, of course no one knows. We did expect a speedy return to our homes but an order has just been received to muster out immediately all whose term of service expires before October 1st, 1865, so we infer that the veterans are to be retained a while longer. By this arrangement we lose a little over three hundred in all – Company K. about twenty – Recruits who joined us last fall. This will reduce the regiment to less than eight hundred men, and of course several officers will have an opportunity to go home.


Bridgeless Gauley Bridge in 2008 (by Ken Thomas)

A Board of examiners is now in session at Charleston, of which Lieut. Lightburn is President and perhaps this may have something to do in deciding who are to remain.

Rev. Father McKerwan of Mason city visited the various camps of our regiment a few days ago, and celebrated Mass at Camp Piott [Piatt], Loup Creek and Gauley Bridge. Large numbers of the soldiers attended the solemn services of the church, and many a one was carried nearer home than he had been before for many a day.

Mr. R.F. Taylor, a citizen of Rochester, N.Y., was here not long since and conducted himself in a very ungentlemanly and disgraceful manner. He attacked without provocation, our commanding officer (Col. Platner) and abused him in a most outrageous way. Mr. Taylor has merited and fully possesses, I assure you, the utter contempt of every officer in the regiment, and it is a wonder to all that Col. Platner has treated him with such great forbearance and leniency – But more of this anon.

The weather is getting to be extremely warm in the Valley, the thermometer nearly reaches a hundred already. Vegetables of all kinds are in perfection and it really appears like summer. Roses are in full bloom, soda fountains in full blast and before this reaches you strawberries and Ice cream will be all the rage. So you can easily imagine what we are at just now.

Yours ever, SENECA.

The photo of the town of Gauley Bridge by Ken Thomas looks “across the Gauley River at the town of Gauley Bridge. The pilings in the foreground are the remains of the Civil War-era covered bridge that gave the town its name. The original bridge was destroyed by retreating Confederate troops in 1861.”

Robert F. Taylor led the 33rd New York Volunteers for its entire two year term. In the latter half of 1863 he organized the First Veteran Cavalry but was dismissed from the service in 1864.

Lest I forget, SENECA might have had a bit of a wait, as the New York State Military Museum points out:

Commanded by Col. John S. Platner, the regiment was honorably discharged and mustered out, July 20, 1865, at Camp Piatt, W. Va., having, during its service, lost by death killed in action, 4 officers, 32 enlisted men; of wounds received in action, 15 enlisted men; of disease and other causes, 87 enlisted men; total, 4 officers, 134 enlisted men; aggregate, 138; of whom 32 enlisted men died in the hands of the enemy.

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it’s a wrap?

Confederacy Dead 9LOC:

no hope beyond the grave for little CSA

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just another rebel?

NY Times 5-14-1865

NY Times 5-14-1865

NY Times 5-15-1865

NY Times 5-15-1865

If it turned out that Jefferson Davis was not implicated in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, why should he be punished any more severely than all the other rebels who fought the United States for over four long years?

From a Seneca County, New York newspaper in May 1865:

The capture of Jefferson Davis.

The capture of Jefferson Davis was announced by telegraph at a late hour on Saturday night. He was taken near Irwinsville, Geo., on the 10th inst., by a detachment of the 4th Michigan Cavalry, under Lieut. Col. Pritchard. His captors report that when made aware of the close pursuit of our cavalry, Davis hastily put on one of his wife’s dresses and started for the woods. This part of the story is very doubtful, if not a positive exaggeration. The news of the capture of the rebel chieftain created something of a sensation. That a fate so humiliating and disastrous should overtake the man who for over four years had waged gigantic war; who, for so may campaigns, had held at bay the greatest armies the world has ever seen; that he should be hunted down with a price upon his head, is certainly a most significant finale of the great tragedy that has cost us so much in blood and treasure.

jeffdavis reward (LOC:

reward for Davis as co-conspirator

What will be done with Davis now that he is a prisoner is a question somewhat difficult to decide. His capture seems to lend additional complications to the national problem. Despite Mr. Stanton’s assurances, not one intelligent man in ten believes that Jefferson Davis had any complicity in, even the remotest knowledge of, the designs of the assassins now on trial. Yet it was not for Davis, the rebel, but Davis the accomplice of Booth, that the reward was offered. It is presumable, therefore, that as the accomplice he is to be tried. If he really is guilty of complicity in the assassination, and if it can be shown before a proper tribunal – the civil courts – then let him suffer the extreme penalty due his crimes. But if the evidence does not inculpate him, then, should Davis be tried on any other charge? The question is not whether he has forfeited his life by treason to the government, but whether exacting the forfeit is for the best interest of the nation. Had the rebellion been put down in its early stages, to have tried and adjudged to death its leaders, might have been wise and necessary. But the rebellion became a great war, the rebels belligerents, and in the judgement of Congress and the judiciary “alien enemies” even. The rebellion embraced nine-tenths of the people of the eleven States; a fifth part of the population of the country. – Now, can a civil war of this magnitude be considered at its ending a mere revolt, whose leaders are to be tried and punished as criminals?

would only whet the North’s appetite for revenge?

Is there any reason why Jefferson Davis should suffer death rather than any one of a thousand or ten thousand others? Is he any more of a rebel or traitor because the votes of his fellow citizens advanced him to the front of the rebellion? And will his death glut the popular desire for vengeance, or will it rather only whet the taste and lead to a demand for more victims? And will the execution of one or one hundred rebel leaders do aught to reunite the long-warring sections? Will it cement the Union the firmer, or in any way advance the good of the Nation? These are serious questions, and the officers of the government and the people as individuals are interested in discussing and answering them, calmly, dispassionately and judiciously.

The true story of the capture of Jeff. Davis (Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1865 by Gibson & Co. in the Clerks Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of Ohio.; LOC:  LC-DIG-ppmsca-23849)

his “Brogans Betray Him”

The chas-ed "old lady" of the C.S.A.  (1865; LOC:

The Library of Congress explains that according to Davis’s autobiography: “at the time of his capture he was wearing his wife’s raglan overcoat, which he had mistakenly put on in his haste to leave, and a shawl, which his wife had thrown over his head and shoulders.”

JD last proclamation

sing along with Jeff

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