“war to the knife”

Back in July a disgruntled General Joe Hooker resigned from his command of a corps in General William T. Sherman’s army group. As the 1864 political campaign heated up, Republicans must have been happy to hear that General Hooker was still in favor of a vigorous prosecution of the war.

From The New-York Times September 22, 1864:

Major-Gen. Hooker on the Situation.

To the Editor of the New-York Times:

I lately had the pleasure of a half-hour’s interview with that glorious old soldier and patriot, popularly known as “Fighting JOE,” at Waterhouse, N.Y. As copperheads and traitors have been trying to torture some recent utterances of his into a quasi-indorsement of their candidate’s platform, let me ask you to give place to one or two of the declarations made by him on that occasion. I said to him: “General HOOKER, what do you think of the declaration made at Chicago, that the war against the rebels has thus far been a failure?” His reply, as I recollect it, was in these exact words:

[Major-General Joseph Hooker, full-length portrait, seated on horse, facing left, wearing military uniform, two tents and large building in the background (between 1861 and 1865; LOC: LC-DIG-ppmsca-19394)

“war till the last ditch is reached”

“It’s pretty much what might have been expected from the sort of people assembled there, isn’t it?” His own opinion upon that point was pretty clearly expressed in another remark made by him to this effect: “That if the Union armies did not strike another blow, but simply held their present position, the rebellion must soon crumble into ruins. He did not hesitate to avow the opinion that the rebellion was already tottering to its fail, and he spoke, in terms of amazement, and certainly with no want of either directness or force, of the semi-traitorism which he found so abundant at the North. He is for war; war to the knife; war till the last ditch is reached, and the last traitor is struck down. He seemed to pant for active service again at the front; and, certainly, the whole country will join in the wish that his earnest patriotism and generalship may soon find a suitable field for their active and successful exertion.

While my pen is in hand let me express to you my admiration of the consummate ability as well as the manly dignity with which you are conducting the present political campaign, a campaign not less momentous or important in its issues than that which is now in progress in the field with such glorious success in the past, and still more glorious results soon, as we may confidently hope, to be realized in the future. W.

Joe Hooker might have been panting for active service – he finished the war in the Northern Department of Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana.

The last paragraph praised the Times for the way it was conducting the election campaign. 150 years ago today the Richmond Daily Dispatch critiqued a speech Times’ publisher Henry J. Raymond gave at a Republican rally in Brooklyn. The Dispatch pointed out that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee that a majority of the people elect the U.S. president, just a majority in the Electoral College.

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“The battle raged all day”

NY Times 9-21-1864

NY Times 9-21-1864

From a Seneca County, New York newspaper in September 1864:

Another Battle.

A desperate engagement took place at Opequan Creek [sic], in the Shenandoah Valley on Monday last, between the forces under Gen. Sheridan and those commanded by Gen. Early. The battle raged all day resulting in the repulse of the rebels with a loss, Gen. Sheridan reports, of 2,500 prisoners, five pieces of artillery, and nine battle flags. Our loss in killed and wounded is estimated at between two and three thousand. Two rebel Generals, Rhodes [sic] and Gordan, and one federal General, D.A. Russel [sic], were killed.

From the Richmond Daily Dispatch September 22, 1864:

The War News.

A report was in circulation at an early hour yesterday morning that a fight occurred near Winchester, in the Valley of Virginia, on Monday last, which resulted disastrously to the Confederate arms. As usual, when any unfavorable news is afloat, the grossest exaggerations prevailed, until the following official dispatch from General Lee was given out by the authorities:

“headquarters army Northern Virginia.

“Hon. James A. Seddon:

“General Early reports that, on the morning of the 19th, the enemy advanced on Winchester, near which place he met his attack, which was resisted from early in the day till near night, when he was compelled to retire. After night he fell back to Newtown, and this morning to Fisher’s Hill.

“Our loss reported to be severe.

“Major-General Rodes and Brigadier-General Godwin were killed, nobly doing their duty.

“Three pieces of artilleries of King’s battalion, were lost.

“The trains and supplies were brought off safely.

“[Signed] R. R. [E.] Lee.”

Newtown, the point to which our forces fell back on Monday night, is about eight miles this side of Winchester, at the interaction of the Valley turn-pike and White Post reads [road?], Fisher’s hill is adjutant to Strasburg, some eight miles south of Newtown. We have no further particulars of the battle than furnished by the official dispatch, except that Major-General Fite Lee received a painful, though not dangerous, flesh wound in the thigh.

Sheridan, having been reinforced from Grant’s army, was cabled [enabled?] to bring overwhelming numbers against the Confederates, who resisted nearly an entire day before falling back; and the fact that our trains and supplies were brought off safely, shows that it was no rout.

As in all other engagements of magnitude, we have to mourn the loss of many brave officers and men, the most prominent among whom is Major-General Robert E. Rodes, who fell nobly-doing his duty. Major-General Rodes was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, was the son of David Rodes, and at the time of his death was about thirty-four years of age. He received a military education, and was for some time an assistant professor in the Virginia Military Institute. Subsequently, in the capacity of civil engineer, he was engaged in the construction of various railroads in the South, and located at Tuskegee, Alabama, where be married On the breaking out of the war, he came to Virginia as captain of an Alabama company, and, winning distinction by meritorious conduct in the field, rose rapidly from this rank to that of brigadier. In conformity with a dying request of General T. J Jackson, he was subsequently made a major-general, and appointed to the command of a division, a position which he has filed with honor to himself, and was justly esteemed as one of the most brave and gallant spirits of our army.

Brigadier-General Archibald C. Godwin was a native of Nansemond county, Virginia. He was in California at the time of the breaking out of the war, but left for Virginia immediately upon her secession and offered his services to his country.–He was assigned to the command of the military prison at Salisbury, North Carolina, and afterwards had charge of the prison in Richmond. Receiving the appointment of provost-marshal of this city, he discharged the arduous duties of the position with much credit, but resigned and returned to Salisbury and raised the fifty-seventh North Carolina regiment, of which he was appointed colonel. He led his command through many hard fought batties, and was finally wounded and taken prisoner. Soon after his exchange he was made a brigadier, and at once returned to the field, where he had been actively and arduously engaged up to the time of his death. His age was about thirty-six years. It is thought that his remains will be brought to Richmond for interment.

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time to swap horses

Compared to President Lincoln, “none if loyal, can be for the worse”, but General McClellan would make a fine president.

From a Seneca County, New York newspaper in October 1864:


Letter from J. Hartwell Keyes to Diantha from Halls Hill, Virginia, on pictorial lettersheet ( 1862 June 2; LOC: LC-DIG-ppmsca-34611)

Reverdy reviewed the reviewers



Washington was electrified last Monday, by the publication of the following letter from Senator Reverdy Johnson, of Maryland, who was elected by his State Legislature opposed to the Democratic party, and who in the senate acted not unfrequently with the Republican portion of that body. Let him speak for himself, as the oldest Senator in Congress:


GENTLEMEN: Your invitation to the meeting to be held in Washington on the 17th inst., to ratify the nomination of McClellan and Pendleton, is but just received.

It will be out of my power to be with you, my stay here for some days longer being unavoidable. Opposed as I was to the original election of Mr. Lincoln to the station he now occupies, from a conviction of his being unequal to his duties, the manner in which he has met them, has but confirmed me in that opinion. With more than two millions of soldiers placed in his hands, and an unlimited amount of treasure, his policy and his manner of using his power, instead of putting the rebellion down and bringing to our ranks the thousands of Union men who were then in each of the seceded States, and who, in some, are believed to out number the rebels, have but served the double purpose of uniting them against us and of dividing the public opinion of the loyal States. The effect of course is that notwithstanding the gallant deeds of our army and navy, and the manifest justice of our cause, the Union is even more effectually broken now than it was when his administration commenced.


“spavined and thin”

Whatever of honesty of purpose may belong to him, and I am willing to admit that he has had it, his vascillating, his policy, now conservative, now radical, his selection of military officers grossly incompetent, his treatment of those who were evidently competent, his yielding in this to what he has himself been often heard to say as an excuse, was “outside pressure,” his not only punished, but as far as the public know, unrebuked the vandal excesses of military officers of his special selection, shocking the sentiment of the world, and disgracing us in the view of all christendom by the burning of private dwellings, and depriving their often exclusively female occupants of home and means of livelihood – all demonstrate that he is grossly incompetent to govern the country in this crisis of its fate.

How can an honorable man believe that one who has so signally failed for almost four entire years, can be successful if another four years be granted him? No one in Congress certainly. Not twenty members believe him equal to the mighty task. He has been tried and found wanting. Let us have a change; none if loyal, can be for the worse. It is not that we wish to use his own classic figures to swap horses in the midst of a stream, but when we are on a journey and safety depends at making our destination at the earliest moment, we should cast aside a spavined and thin horse, and secure a sound and active one.

McClellan is the Man, by Henry Cromwell ( Sheet music cover illustrated with half-length portrait of George B. McClellan by Fabronius after a photograph by Black & Case., 1864; LOC: LC-DIG-ppmsca-19922)

or at least one of the men

In General McClellan we are furnished – in the history of his life, in the purity of his character, his refinements, his attainments, civil and military, and, above all, in his perfect loyalty – every assurance that, under his executive guidance, the war, now so exhaustive of treasure and blood, will be soon brought to a triumphant termination and this Union, which, “at all hazards,” he will never agree to surrender, will be restored. With regards,

Your obedient servant,


According to the Library of Congress the following political cartoon pictures Reverdy Johnson in the back row, helping to support the McClellan – Pendleton ticket and the Chicago platform:

How Columbia receives McLellan's Salutation from the Chicago Platform (LC-USZ62-40791)

Presidents Pierce and Buchanan, Clement Valandigham. Reverdy Johnson among those supporting the general AND peace

Posted in 150 Years Ago This Week, Lincoln Administration, Northern Politics During War, The election of 1864 | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

supporting the people’s choice

A Republican-oriented newspaper reprinted a letter from a soldier at the front admonishing his son in New York City to avoid being a Copperhead. From The New-York Times September 18, 1864:

… To the Editor of the New- York Times

NEW-YORK, Thursday, Sept. 8, 1864.

The accompanying extracts are from a letter received from one of the soldiers of GRANT’s army, written to his son in this City. I send them to you because they came from an old Democrat and blunt old soldier:

Very respectfully, E.S.A.

PETERSBURGH, VA., Aug. 28, 1864.

MY DEAR SON: Your last welcome letter I received in due time. Glad to know that you are well. I am hearty and rugged, but wearied somewhat from our long march. * * * We are now before Petersburgh, and shall remain under fire for weeks, unless we take the place. There is not much infantry firing, but the pickets and artillery do not cease night or day. There is more danger in camp than in field.

* * * * * * * * * * You allude to a portion of my last letter as containing some objectionable phrases, and accuse me of that of which I am not guilty. I called no one in particular a Copperhead, nor did I threaten much. But I tell you now, as I told you then, that, had it not been for the rebel sympathizers, (Copperheads,) this war would have been ended months ago. In regard to the Administration, we are in duty bound to support it. ABRAHAM LINCOLN was the people’s choice. He was elected by the voice of the people, and has a right to their whole aid in his measures to suppress treason. Why not let politics alone, unite firmly and put down the rebellion, and attend to political affairs afterward?

JEFF. DAVIS recommends giving and taking “no quarter,” “war to the knife;” and says that is the only way in which to stop Northern volunteering. If the Copperheads (or Democrats, as they call themselves) will not assist in whipping the Rebels and to punish JEFF. DAVIS, the army will do it itself, and attend to them (the Copperheads) afterward.

You tell me that you are a Union man and a Jackson Democrat, Let me ask you what is democracy?

Is it composed of “Minute Men,” raised for purposes about which the Government knows nothing? Does it consist in secret societies, lawless mobs and riots? In short, is it formed of material to set at naught both civil and military law? I tell you, no. Neither JACKSON nor any other good Democrat ever advocated such principles; then why talk of resisting the draft and bidding defiance to officers?

The soldier's song--Unionism vs. Copperheadism (n the year 1864, by Smith & Swinney; LOC: C-USZ62-9637)

“A few mean, sneaking Copperheads have gone to the rebels.”

You ask, where are the men that have gone forth to fight for the Union? I will tell you. Many of them, as brave and true-nearted as God ever created, have given their lives for their country’s good. A few mean, sneaking Copperheads have gone to the rebels. Some, too cowardly to fight, have show off a finger or a thumb, or feigned sickness, in order to get into the hospital or upon the sick list.

We do not want peace upon any other terms than those extended by the President, viz.: an unconditional surrender and the abolition of Slavery. The better portion of the army will accept nothing short of this. JEFF. DAVIS says that he is “fighting for independence.” He is fighting for power and aggrandizement, and if the peace faction prevail North he will be the President yet.

I shall be happy to hear from you as often as possible, but I do not want to hear anything about “Little MAC and his hundred thousand.” If they will not fight under one officer they will be good for nothing to fight under another.

Affectionately, your father, B. …

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justices of the peace off to war?

Long-time Virginia politician William “Extra Billy” Smith served in the Confederate army until just after Gettysburg. He was elected governor for a second time in 1863 and assumed his duties on New Year’s Day 1864. Mr. Smith wasn’t afraid to cross the border to pursue the best interests of his state. Using accounts in the Chicago Tribune as a source, Scott Mingus has written that “Extra Billy” actually attended the (Northern) Democratic Convention in Chicago in August 1864.[1] The governor sued for a peace candidate and was dead set against frontrunner General George McClellan. He claimed that if the Democrats nominated a peace man – “untainted by participation in the war” – Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida would rejoin the Union if the Democrat won the general election. The skeptical Tribune wondered what possible authority Mr. Smith for such an assertion.

A moot point since “Little Mac” was selected as Democratic nominee. The war was definitely continuing. 150 years ago this week Governor Smith issued a proclamation vowing to enforce a January law intended to round up deserters and threatening to revoke the exemptions he provided justices of the peace if they refused to enforce the desertion law.

From the Richmond Daily Dispatch September 17, 1864:

Deserters and delinquents.

We call attention to the proclamation of the Governor concerning deserters and other delinquents owing military service to the Confederate Government. The law of the State makes it obligatory upon magistrates, sheriffs, sergeants and constables to take steps for the arrest of all such persons as may be found within their respective counties, cities and towns, and imposes penalties for a failure to do so. In addition to this, the Governor promises, in the event that the present apathy in this respect continues, to revoke the military exemptions of many justices of the peace and other county officers; and we feel assured he will keep his word. The Government now needs the services of every able-bodied man who can be spared from civil employment; and if all deserters and skulkers were placed in the ranks, our armies would be largely reinforced. The proclamation is timely, and we trust that those who are most interested will heed its warnings. A law more plain in its provisions was never passed by the General Assembly, and we can only account for the neglect of State officers to comply with it by supposing them ignorant of its existence. They can have no such excuse now.

More evidence of the manpower shortage from the same issue of the Dispatch:

Enrollment of Exempts.

–Under orders from the Bureau of Conscription, the enrolling officers of this city, with the aid of the advisory board, will commence this morning to register all white male citizens, not in the army or in the reserve forces, between the ages of sixteen and fifty years. It is very important that this duty should be performed forthwith, and hence every facility should be afforded, by those embraced within the order, to enable these officers to discharge the duty enjoined on them.

  1. [1] Mingus, Scott L., Sr. Confederate General William “Extra Billy” Smith – From Virginia’s Statehouse to Gettysburg Scapegoat. El Dorado Hills, California: Savas Beatie, 2012. Print. pages 304-5.
Posted in 150 Years Ago This Week, Confederate States of America, Military Matters | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Crosses’ purpose

fought for “the U.S. Army In the War of the Rebellion”

Cross family plot, Restvale Cemetery, Seneca Falls, NY 9-2-2012

Cross family plot

When I started wandering through Restvale Cemetery in Seneca Falls, New York looking for old grave stones decorated with new American flags, I was naturally drawn to a plot that indicated a whole bunch of men in the Cross family served in the Union army. According to the stones two of the family members died on the same day – September 16, 1864. That sounded like some potentially juicy history, but I didn’t learn any more details about the allegedly twinned deaths.

Walt Gable cleared up the mystery in his new book, Seneca County And The Civil War. As it turns out, none of the family members died on September 16th, but the Cross family was certainly dedicated to fighting for the Union cause.[1] William Henry Cross enlisted in the 50th New York Engineers in September 1861 when he was 53 years old. He injured himself jumping a ditch but survived the war. Five of his sons also served during the war. Amos N. Cross joined the 33rd New York Infantry in May 1861. He died of disease in September 1862.

Restvale Cemetery 9-2-2012

Asa and James did not die on same date

Two Cross brothers joined the 4th New York Artillery. George M. was injured twice and mustered out in July 1865 while at D.C.’s Harewood Hospital. Asa D. survived the war but “was admitted to the Utica/Rome Asylum and … his father reimbursed Seneca County $100 for Asa’s care there.”

Two other brothers enlisted in the 148th New York Infantry. Lemuel B. was shot in the thigh at Cold Harbor on June 3, 1864. He never fully recovered but survived the war. James G. died 150 years ago this week:

He was captured on June 15, 1864, near Petersburg, Virginia. He was sent to the infamous Andersonville prison camp in Georgia, where he died of scurvy on September 13, 1864. He is buried in the Andersonville National Cemetery. He also has a gravestone in Restvale Cemetery in Seneca Falls.

Andersonville Prison, Ga., August 17, 1864. Issuing rations, view from main gate (LOC:  LC-DIG-ppmsca-34562)

Andersonville Prison, Ga., August 17, 1864. Issuing rations, view from main gate (Library of Congress)

After the war Seneca Falls’ GAR post was named to honor the Crosses.

This case provided more evidence that, while the rosters at the New York State Military Museum are a valuable resource, they are not totally accurate. I learned that you can’t believe everything you read in a cemetery. I’m pretty sure the uprooted tree in the background of the Restvale photos was knocked down by a microburst storm that tore through Seneca Falls in May 2012.

Grounds at Andersonville, Georgia, where are buried fourteen thousand Union soldiers, who died in Andersonville Prison (Harper's weekly, 1865 Oct., p. 633; LOC: LC-DIG-ppmsca-05602)

Grounds at Andersonville, Georgia, where are buried fourteen thousand Union soldiers, who died in Andersonville Prison (Harper’s weekly, 1865 Oct., p. 633.)

  1. [1] Gable, Walter Seneca County And The Civil War. Charleston, S.C.: The History Press, 2014. Print. pages 67-70.
Posted in 150 Years Ago This Week, Military Matters, Northern Society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

certain drafts and taxes

Photograph of a campaign button with portrait of Abraham Lincoln and inscription "For President Abraham Lincoln" (1864, printed later; LOC:  LC-USZ62-126415)

For “limitless taxation and conscription”

Some Democratic campaign rhetoric painted a picture of endless drafts and high taxes if President Lincoln was re-elected.

From a Seneca County, New York newspaper in September 1864:

Not The Last Draft.

It may not be uninteresting as a subject on which to reflect that the administration has officially informed Governor Seymour, of New York, that the surplus volunteers of the State will be credited on the next draft after that for September. – Everywhere men are being urged to enlist for three years, and a circular from the Secretary of War directs that all officers be henceforth mustered for three years. If there are those sufficiently silly to believe that the war is near its end under the present abolition policy, they are welcome to what comfort they may derive from such foolish belief. In the event of Lincoln’s re-election, conscription will follow conscription, and remorseless taxation drag the people down. Those who want limitless taxation and conscription, will vote for Lincoln; those who want peace and security will vote against him – vote for George B. McClellan, whose administration will bring security to all.

According to the Library of Congress the following 1864 political cartoon was based on the Lincoln Administration’s conscription policies:

In 1862, displeased by Attorney General Edward Bates’s slowness in enforcing the Conspiracies Act, the President took matters into his own hands and issued a proclamation “directing trial by court martial or military commissions of all persons who impeded the draft, discouraged enlistments or committed other disloyal acts.” Around thirty-eight thousand people were arrested, denied the right of habeas corpus, and held in jail until brought to trial. This heavy-handed act provides the fuel for the artist’s attack here.

The link also points out that the cartoon also touched on abolition fears.

Political caricature. No. 1, The grave of the Union. Or Major Jack Downing's dream (New York : Published by Bromley & Co., 1864; LOC:  LC-USZ62-8876)

the Union has passed away

A devil-like Secretary of State Seward is in the upper right-hand corner. A Richmond paper 150 years ago this month found proof that Mr. Seward had been lying about the draft. From the Richmond Daily Dispatch September 13, 1864:

The draft to be enforced.

In the following official telegram from Secretary Stanton, we find that Seward was deceiving the A[u]burnites when he told them that the draft would not be enforced:

Washington, September 7.

Major-General Dix, New York:

This Department is still without say dispatches from south of Nashville.

It is supposed to be General Sherman’s design to withdraw his advanced columns and give his army rest in Atlanta, and establish himself securely there, and restore his railroad communications broken by Wheeler and Forrest, before making further advances.

No operations by the armies of General Grant or General Sherman are reported to-day.

The provost-marshal-general’s office is busily engaged in arranging the credits of the several districts, and is ordered to draft without delay for the deficiency in the districts that have not filled their quotas, beginning with those most in arrears.

Credits for volunteers will be allowed as long as possible; but the advantage of filling the armies immediately requires the draft to be speedily made in the defaulting districts. All applications for its postponement have, therefore, been refused.

Edwin M. Stanton,

Secretary of War.

Posted in 150 Years Ago This Month, Lincoln Administration, Northern Politics During War, Northern Society, The election of 1864 | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

as Maine goes?

NY Times 9-13-1864

NY Times 9-13-1864

The New-York Times was elated that Maine’s Republican governor Samuel Cony was re-elected. Possibly the “first gun” in the campaign was Vermont’s election of Republicans for all three U.S. House Representatives on September 6th. The same link shows Maine electing Republicans for all five of its House seats on September 11th.

Apparently Copperheads in Maine who found cold comfort in the election results could head west to mingle with more like-minded spirits. From the Richmond Daily Dispatch on September 13, 1864:

A “Copperhead” paradise.

–Idaho and Nevada are said by the Yankee papers to swarm with disaffected and disloyal men. It is estimated that ten thousand men of this class have goes there in the past year and a half. The territories named are a perfect Copperhead paradise. …

Paradise was soon lost in Nevada, which gave its two electoral votes to President Lincoln in the November election. Idaho wouldn’t earn its star until 1890.

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calling on negroes, the disabled

… and legislators?

“X” from Petersburg is concerned about getting more men into the Confederacy’s armies to try to at least partially offset additions to Northern forces.

From the Richmond Daily Dispatch September 12, 1864:

From General Lee’s Army.
(From Our Own Correspondent)
Army of Northern Virginia,
near Petersburg, Va., September 10, 1864.

Atlanta has fallen; Forts Powell, Morgan and Gaines have been surrendered into the hands of the enemy, and Jack Morgan is dead. Truly, misfortunes never come alone. But super-add to these reverses the rejoicing which rescind throughout the entire North, and bear in mind that the enemy announce large accretions to their military numbers, and you have the military situation.

The month of September will likely witness no grand military effort, either on the Virginia or Georgia military chess-board. Grant and Sherman are, meanwhile, not idle. Their camps are busy in preparation; and, backed by the authorities at Washington, they are making ready to deal us hard knocks by the “early” frost. Fous est abhorte deceri is a motto worthy to be remembered and acted upon. If the enemy are engaged in gigantic preparations for our overthrow, it behooves as to be girding on our armor and marshaling on hosts to meet them.

Capitol building (Filed July 10, 1865, Levy & Cohen, proprietors; LOC: C-DIG-ds-05496)

no more laws, “take up arms and march to the front” (west side Richmond capitol building)

The Army of Northern Virginia [n]eeds reinforcement to its fighting materiel. The reinforcement must come at once! Can the Government get them? I answer yes. In the first place, there are to-day not less than five thousand able-bodied detailed men in the quartermaster, commissary, medical and ordnance departments of this army, whose places can be supplied by negroes and, disabled men — the negroes to fill such places as teamsters and drivers, and disabled men the position of clerks and messengers. Many of these men, from favoritism or other causes, have been kept out of service for years, if, indeed, they have ever shouldered arms. Let General Lee and Secretary Seddon will it, and these men can be under arms and acting as good soldiers in ten days. Again, there are men detailed for useless and evasive duty all over the State. Let these be returned. I hear it said that forty thousand names on the muster rolls of the Army of Northern Virginia have opposite their respective names the simple word “detailed.” Again, the State of Georgia, with a readiness that does her credit, has called her reserves to the front. If the States of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, will just now imitate her example, Hood and Lee can both receive in this way valuable and appreciable reinforcements. Let them be called for at once. Ere thirty days shall have elapsed Grant will receive his drafted or volunteer men. All that Grant expects them to do is to man his already almost impregnable breastworks, whilst his old troops are disengaged for work on the flanks. Shall General Lee be reinforced by men, or shall this army, worn with the fatigue and exhaustion of a long and bloody conflict, be forced, in the hour of its triumph, to lose the price of victory by a lack of men? Some of the papers are calling for Congress and the Legislature to assemble. If it is meant for them to assemble in Richmond to take up arms and march to the front, I say brave! [bravo?] If they are expected to meet there to talk and legislate, I say no. There is already legislation enough. Let the laws be executed. The President has power enough.–Let the “justice, equity and necessity” exemptions be curtailed, as well as those of the agricultural classes — all of which emanate directly from the War Office–and we shall have men enough and to spare. It is not necessary to rob the States of their judges, clerks and sheriffs to fill the armies. It is not necessary to destroy States’ rights. The material for recruiting the arms-bearing soldiers is in the army and under control of the War Office. The men can be furnished in ten days if Secretary Seddon determines that it shall be done.

Let not our authorities and our newspaper press lay the flattering unction to their hearts that victories can be achieved without men; nor that other delusion, which is inevitable on the heels of each disaster, that the people are always at fault and skulking. The Government is not a myth, but a real, tangible entity, and is clothed with the power to recruit the armies. Will they do it, as they have done before, by the impartial exercise of the powers and trusts confided by the representatives of the people?

Petersburg Sept. 1864 (by Alfred R. Waud, 1864 September; LOC:  LC-DIG-ppmsca-21358)

Union artillery at Petersburg, 1864

Now is the accepted time–let there be no delay. The teamsters, cooks, ambulance-drivers, clerks, and other detailed men, can reinforce General Lee five thousand men. Why should the authorities refuse the brave men in the trenches the companionship and support of such obvious and necessary reinforcements? The reserves are within ten days call — no need of an extra session and new legislation. The men are at hand — all that is needed is the order, so strangely withheld, for them to fall in. If we delay till frost, or for new legislation, the events of the interval may supersede the necessity of legislation. But new grants of power are unnecessary. Execute the laws, and all will be well. –Perhaps this communication may fall without fruit. If its suggestions are heeded, the country will be benefitted; if ignored, I will not answer for results. Reinforce Lee and Hood are the suggestions of prudence and common sense, which I cannot suppose our authorities will willfully disregard.

The enemy have nearly finished their branch of the City Point road to the Weldon railroad; and everything indicates a purpose — so soon as they are strong enough — to make a bold effort to seize the Southside railroad.

This morning, about 3 o’clock, the enemy massed eleven skeleton regiments in front of Finnegan and Harris’s skirmish lines, driving them in from two lines and capturing some thirty or forty prisoners. Finnegan quickly rallied his skirmishers, retaking the second or inner line, and re-establishing his pickets at that point. Our line is now receded about two hundred yards in some places, but not more than fifty yards in other places, of what it was on yesterday. There was considerable cannonading during this little affair; but all is quiet at this writing.


Alfred Rudolph Waud drew the picture of the Union artillery at Petersburg. According to the Library of Congress Mr. Waud was suffering just like many soldiers during this time in his life. On the back of the drawing he wrote:

There is a lot of picturesque material now, in the trenches, but I cannot get around to attend to it. I am down, sick and helpless with an acute attack of dysentery. It will be weeks before I get out-if I ever do- Firing is constant- I cannot sleep for it. I send what sketches I have on hand. Will write a letter by next mail. Yrs resfly A.R. Waud alias Tapley.

Gettysburg, Pa. Alfred R. Waud, artist of Harper's Weekly, sketching on battlefield (by Timothy H. O'Sullivan, July 1863; LOC:  LC-DIG-cwpb-00074)

artist in healthier times (for him) at Gettysburg July 1863

Posted in 150 Years Ago This Week, Confederate States of America, Military Matters, Siege of Petersburg, Southern Society | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

attracting a crowd

San Francisco. Bird's-eye view ( S.F. : Published by Robinson & Snow, c1864 (S.F. : Printed by L. Nagel); LOC: LC-DIG-ppmsca-08305)

city by the bay (1864)

fireworks by the bay

150 years ago this week politics was a major topic out in the Far West. The September 9, 1864 issue of San Francisco’s Daily Alta California featured side by side coverage of a couple political rallies from the evening before. The Union mass meeting was held at Platt’s Hall. Several thousand “Copperheads” met at Portsmouth Square:

All the district clubs came marching in procession, many of them with music and transparencies. A large platform had been erected on the square, and it was lighted by gas. On the eastern side of the platform were high posts, between which was stretched an American flag, backed by a painting containing portraits of McClellan and Pendleton, life size. At each side of the portraits were transparencies, one containing the names of the electors, the other those of the nominees for Congress. A brass band was in attendance, and supplied music before the beginning of the speeches, and at the close of each. Bonfires were lighted on Brenham Place, and some speeches were made in that neighborhood. A number of rockets and Roman candles were let off before the opening of the meeting, so that all the attractions of music, bonfires, fireworks and processions were used to attract a crowd. A large number of persons were present – several thousand – the whole square was covered with people.

McClellan and Pendleton (Oakley & Tompson lith., Boston., c.1864; LOC:  LC-USZC4-3679)

like Washington, Jackson, all the founders

The first speaker, J.P. Hoge, likened General McClellan to past American heroes:
He considered the Chicago nominee as the best man in the nation for the position. He has the prudence, the patriotism, and the wisdom of Washington, the energy, the indomitable will of Andrew Jackson, and the profound knowledge of our institutions of all the fathers of the country. In one sentence of his West Point; speech he said: “A war so just and righteous, so long as its purpose is to crush the rebellion and to save our nation from the infinite perils of dismemberment.” That sentence contains the essence of the Chicago Platform, the maintenance at all hazards of the integrity of the Union and the principles of the Constitution. In his letter of acceptance he will say no more than he said in his West Point speech, and he will say no less. We go for the reconstruction of the Union, the supremacy of the Constitution. The question is, George B. McClellan and the entire Union against Abe Lincoln and Abolition.

It’s way out west, but the demonstrations are similar to all the other political rallies I’ve been reading about for the past four years. And the message seems to be the same. With General McClellan you get a restored union without the abolition.

The telegraph continues to impress – I’m pretty sure there are some New York, September 8th datelines on the front page of the September 9th issue, which sure is a lot better turn around than I managed this week.

Telegraph Hill from the Russian Hill, San Francisco

Telegraph Hill from the Russian Hill, San Francisco (published 1866)

Telegraph Hill from First Street, Rincon Hill, San Francisco

Telegraph Hill from First Street, Rincon Hill, San Francisco (published 1866)

Telegraph Hill was not named for the 1862 electrical telegraph but for a 1849 semaphore that signaled information to the city about the nature of approaching ships.

Posted in 150 Years Ago This Week, Northern Politics During War, The election of 1864 | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment