“the heavy hand of power”

[I originally planned to post the following back in March, but was uncertain about the timing. The local newspaper article does seem to have been influenced by the Democratic playbook for the 1864 election.]

I am confused about the timing of today’s piece. There was no handwritten date on the following editorial in the big notebook of Civil War clippings at the Seneca Falls, New York public library. It appeared on the same notebook page as the February 1864 article about war costs. The article referred to thousands of soldiers back home to vote, and there were local elections in New York state in March 1864. In fact, one of the questions on ballots in New York state was whether soldiers in the field should have the right to vote. That amendment passed and New York soldiers could vote in the field in November 1864. So would there still have been thousands of soldiers home to vote in the November 1864 election? I think there’s a possibility that the following was published in February or March 1864.

This Democrat editorial contrasts the Utopia that was antebellum America with the great carnage, debt, and taxation caused by the war.

From a Seneca County, New York newspaper in 1864:

The Cost of the War.

“It is not so easy to pay something as it is to pay nothing, and it is easier to pay a large sum than it is to pay a larger one.” This was the precise language used by Abraham Lincoln in his message to the Abolitionist Congress in December 1862. – That silly, trifling language to the people of the U.S., shows his shallowness of mind, and how little he appreciated the awful condition of this country. It was about equal in discretion to the idle boast in one of his ridiculous speeches about the time he was inaugurated, that he intended to show how “a party which can carry an election can also suppress a rebellion.”

Columbia demands her children! (by Joseph Baker, 1864; LOC: LC-DIG-ppmsca-15768)

“sacrificed to abolition folly”

That speech was, in his own estimation, about to be verified when he called for 75,000 volunteers to conquer 12,000,0000 men in the fifteen rebellious States. The result of such unpardonable ignorance in the Executive of the Nation, and his Abolition Proclamation, have in his opinion, made it necessary to demand twenty hundred thousand, instead of 75,000 men, and about 250,000 of whom have already been sacrificed to abolition folly; and the bloody graves of tens of thousands of fallen victims are watered by the tears of bereaved relations. This, though horrid to civilized humanity, is only the beginning of the Nation’s woes which must inevitably follow. The sword of war is still whetting for the butchery of thousands more of human beings who must fall by the base and bloody passions of exasperated men. The conflict has been urged on, too, by clergymen and others who profess to be “followers of the gospel of Peace,” and who, like the bigoted priests when they slew the Saviour, seem to be gratified with the sorrow and sufferings which their own bigotry and fanaticism have helped to bring upon a once peaceful and happy country. Those professed Puritans must answer at the bar of God for a large share of immorality, dissipation, and crime, which war will entail upon this and the next generation.

Ours was the only country on earth professing to be civilized, which guaranteed liberty and protection to States without direct taxation. The burdens of government were not felt by the people except in the slight tariff on imported goods, and that benefitted the North at the expense of the South. But now what have we fastened upon us? Instead of a light tariff which then supported our economical government, with a small army and navy, and those scarcely necessary, we are saddled with the largest army and navy on the globe, the salaried officers of which will be loth to lessen their power without a struggle, and many will naturally assimilate with corrupt party zealots to perpetuate military pensions for life, for the tendency of military power is always to perpetuate itself.

The Commander-in-Chief conciliating the soldier's votes on the battle field (1864; LOC:  LC-USZ62-89731)

funny songs at Antietam

And the National debt. This according to the recorded and undisputed statement of the leaders of the Black Republican party at the close of the war will be four thousand millions of dollars! a sum of solid silver sufficient to load ox-teams from Missouri to the eastern borders of Maine. The interest on this debt will at the lowest estimate amount to $200,000,000 which must be levied annually by taxation on the people, and that, too, for generations to come. We now begin to feel the heavy hand of power upon us in every business paper transaction, in every security given by a debtor to his creditor, in the settlement of every deceased person’s estate, whether solvent or insolvent, and in the increased price of all the necessities of life to the poor as well as to the rich. The land tax is deferred merely for the present, because the farmers would feel the crushing weight too keenly, and would enquire what corresponding benefit they derive to support recruiting agents, and furloughed regiments, who are maintained in idleness among us by thousands to vote for abolition candidates for office. But the land tax cannot in the nature of things be much longer postponed. Then the farmers and laboring classes who are always the last to be aroused will enquire, “why are we taxed to prosecute a war for the subjugation and ruin of a large portion of our own country, the utter destruction of their social laws and rights as States, the devastation of one half of our own territory, and then be compelled to garrison that same ruined territory without resources to be derived from it sufficient to pay one fourth of the cost of its occupation? Why are those people who were forced and deceived by their Rulers, to be ruthlessly slaughtered, and their natural attachment to our once glorious Union to be severed, in order to gratify the revenge of Abolition fanatics, and the whims of the ‘smutty joker?‘” These questions and others of equal importance will soon have to be met by those who now push on this suicidal war without allowing one opportunity for conciliation, and who are filling their pockets and the purses of their relatives from the sufferings of an outraged people. **

Once again this Democrat paper seemed to ignore the fact that most the Southern states actually made the decision to secede before Lincoln even took office. This paper seemed to have no objection at all to slavery.

Reference to Abraham Lincoln as the “smutty joker” can be found in the Hand-book of the Democracy 1863 & ’64. near the end of the book in the “Campaign Songs” section:

History of the Rise and Fall of the Irrepressible Conflict.

AIR — “Villikens and his Dinah.

There was an old joker in Springfield did dwell,
He wandered all over his stories to tell;
He joked irrepressibly by night and by day,
Till his smutty jokes drove decent people

(Spoken — Chorus for the smutty joker
and the Ohio clergymen. )

Ri tu ral, ri tu ral, ri tu ral li da, … [for twelve stanzas]

I’m confused again because the final stanza talks about 1864 Democrat candidate for president George B. McClellan sending the joker back to Springfield. Most of the campaign songs seem to feature General McClellan. There could have been references to the smutty joker before the campaign song was written. Democrats could have added the last stanza after the nomination. Some people might have just assumed General McClellan would be nominated. The Times link in the first paragraph of this post quotes one Democrat soldier as saying he was going to vote for the absentee voting amendment because all the soldiers were going to vote for McClellan.

At any rate, President Lincoln wanted to get the news out that New York soldiers could vote in field:

From The Papers And Writings Of Abraham Lincoln, Volume Seven:



New York City votes ninety-five hundred majority for allowing soldiers to vote, and the rest of the State nearly all on the same side. Tell the soldiers.


Running the "machine" (by John Cameron, [New York] : Published by Currier & Ives, 152 Nassau St. N.Y., c1864; LOC: LC-USZ62-9407)

“He joked irrepressibly by night and by day”

There are many 1864 political cartoons at the Library of Congress, where you can read the details: Columbia; Antietam; the machine

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

heads game

The political "Siamese" twins, the offspring of Chicago miscegenation ([New York] : Published by Currier & Ives, 152 Nassau St. New York, c1864.; LOC: LC-USZ62-9733)

Democrats’ mixed message

From The New-York Times October 24, 1864:


Mr. PENDLETON, Democratic candidate for Vice-President, left Cincinnati incognito last Thursday, on a visit to the East. He was in Philadelphia yesterday, and to-morrow will reach New York, where Little MAC and he will put their heads together and exhaust all the resources of statesmanship to secure a Copperhead triumph.

According to the following, General McClellan might not have needed any more heads:

The Chicago platform and candidate (by Louis Maurer,  [New York] : Published by Currier & Ives, 152 Nassau St. N.Y., c1864.; LOC: LC-USZ62-21706)

General Janus

You can read the details of the anti-Democrat political cartoons at the Library of Congress: miscegenation; two-faced

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About three weeks before the U.S. presidential election the October 22, 1864 issue of Harper’s Weekly (at Son of the South took a swipe at the peace-loving Democrats:

democrats-peace-plan (Harper's Weekly 10-22-1864)

War and Argument—Cold Steel and Cool Reason—having failed to restore the Union, it is supposed that the South may be bored into coming back.
Our Picture represents the successful operation of this exceedingly humane and ingenious device.

War, cold steel … don’t forget plundering the civilian population, as the following article implied.

From the Richmond Daily Dispatch October 22, 1864:

Best preparation for Raids.

–The very best preparation, of course, for a raid,–says the Lexington (Virginia) Gazette,–is for the people to remove all their valuables out of the reach of the enemy. This cannot always be done, but there is one article which soldiers always seek after, which is, perhaps, more abundant in this country than it ever was before, –We mean apple brandy, which, it cannot be removed, ought to be poured out by every one on the approach of the enemy. The Yankees behave had enough without liquor, but they are ten times worse when they become intoxicated. It would be much better for a man to lose a fine lot of brandy than save it for the Yankees, and lose, in other respects, ten times its value besides, to say nothing of the effect that the drinking would have on their behavior.

Posted in 150 Years Ago This Week, Confederate States of America, Military Matters, Southern Society, The election of 1864 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

men versus munitions model?

Unidentified soldier in Confederate infantry uniform with model 1842 musket and two Colt revolvers (between 1861 and 1865; LOC: LC-DIG-ppmsca-32591)

man and musket

I’ve heard about the Guns versus butter economic model. As the number of men in Confederate armies diminished, it appears that the government tried to get more soldiers in the field while still producing enough ordnance to keep shooting at Yankees. From the Richmond Daily Dispatch October 21, 1864:

Filling up the Ranks.

A late order, issued from the office of the Adjutant and Inspector-General, orders the chiefs of the Bureau of Ordnance and of the Nitre Bureau to turn over, without delay, one-fifth of all the force employed in their respective bureaux, including contractors and other employees.

This order will put into the field almost as many men, if not more, than were procured by the revocation of details of producers — the whole number of men who have been detailed as farmers on this side of the Mississippi river being four thousand four hundred and eighty five.

Spotsylvania Court House, Va., vicinity. Body of another Confederate soldier near Mrs. Alsop's house (by Timothy H. O'Sullivan, 1864 May 20; LOC: LC-DIG-cwpb-01187)

dead Confederate, Spotsylvania, 5-20-1864

The only objection to this order is that portion of it which says: “Three days are allowed for the execution of this order after its reception at any post or station of the different departments.” This time will be too short to prevent inconvenience to the public service from the sudden cessation of labor and the inability of contractors to wind up their affairs.

The same issue admired Canada for not exempting aliens from the service.

Refugees in Canada.

The following order seems to have created great excitement among the refugees from Yankeedom in Canada:

“Headquarters, Quebec,
“September21, 1864.

“Notice is hereby given to all persons from the Federal States of America who have taken refuge in Canada since the first of August, 1864, and are fit for the performance of military duty, to report immediately to Captain H. Stanhope Wilkes, of Her Majesty’s service, at his headquarters, Clifton House, Canada West, for enrollment into the military service of Her Majesty’s Government.

npscw_facts-01 (http://www.nps.gov/civilwar/facts.htm)

ebb tide

“All persons failing or refusing to comply with this order will be subject to summary arrest, fine and imprisonment.

“Refugees and exiles seeking the protection of this Government must lend their aid to strengthen the Government that gives them protection.

“By order.”

Southern refugees are said to be complying with the order, and Yankees are making for their homes.

It should cause our authorities to reflect on their leniency towards foreigners in letting them go almost entirely unscathed, while every white male citizen is required to go to the front — exemption or no exemption, detail or no detail.

We are indebted to Captain Gilbert C. Rice, of the Eighteenth Georgia battalion, for his courtesy in sending us copies of late Northern papers.

The graph is posted at the National Park Service.

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northern exposure

NY Times 10-20-2014

NY Times 10-20-2014

150 years ago yesterday St. Albans, Vermont was “raided” by a band of Confederates led by Bennett Henderson Young. The rebels entered Vermont via Canada and took rooms in St. Albans’ hotels. On the 19th they held up three banks and shot up some citizens, one of whom died.

From the Richmond Daily Dispatch October 24, 1864:

An invasion of Vermont from the Canada side — robbery of banks — panic of the citizens.

The Yankees are having a sensation nearer home than the seat of war. On Wednesday last, a band of twenty-five men from Canada “invaded” the town of St. Albans, in Vermont, and robbed the National Bank of $50,000, the St. Albans Bank of $80,000, and the Franklin County Bank of a considerable sum. Some twenty horses were also seized by the desperadoes and carried off. Several citizens who resisted were deliberately shot; two were seriously wounded, and it is feared fatally — E. J. Morrison and, a contractor, and C. H. Huntington, a jeweler. Several others are reported slightly wounded. The attack commenced about 3 P. M., and the opening is thus described by an eye-witness:

Several men appeared to be rushing about with pistols, in parties of from five to ten. One of these gangs met a Mr. Morrison and presented a weapon to him, demanding his surrender. He answered, “You are joking, boys.” They fired and he fell, weltering in his blood. Our informant saw him throw up his hands and then sink on the ground, and then he realized for the first time that the village was attacked by an organized body of men, bent on pillage and regardless of human life.

US & canada 1860 (LOC: http://www.loc.gov/item/2001623437/)

St. Albans in Green … Mountain State

Meanwhile the attack had been simultaneous on the three banks — the First National, Franklin County and St. Albans. Parties entered each. When the teller, or cashier, suspecting no evil, asked what they desired, the leader presented a pistol, with the exclamation, “You are my prisoner; if you move an inch we’ll blow you through,” Others of the gang then went to the vault and drawers and laid violent hands on all the specie, bills and other articles which they could find, and filled the side satchels, which each wore, as we before described. Of course resistance was useless, for the surprise was complete. At the Franklin County Bank the raiders pushed the cashier, Mr. Beardsley, and one of the clerks, into the vault and locked them up, and the prisoners were not released until late in the night.

Then commenced a reign of terror in the village. Plunder had been accomplished, and violence followed. The raid was brief; but the scene must have been terrible while it lasted. The thirty or more marauders rushed up and down the streets, firing their pistols in every direction. Whenever they saw a citizen or a group of men they would aim in that direction. They had magnificent arms–seven-shooters — and as fast as one weapon was unloaded they drew another, and kept up the lade.Mr. Baldwin says he can only liken the sounds to the noise of a Fourth of July morning in a large city. There was a continuous bang! bang! bang! Of course this reckless use of firearms could not continue long with nobody hurt. The sheriff of the county soon fell; Mr. Huntington was shot while resisting the robbery of his store; a woman, whose name we could not learn, fell, and — more dastardly than all — as the guerrillas were leaving the town, they saw a little girl in the street and wantonly killed her. And the bullets were flying around among the buildings in the main street — nearly all of which bear marks of lead. Windows were broken, blinds chipped and people wounded. It was a scene that beggars all description.

Of course the entire populace rushed into the streets. They had no idea of the cause of the disturbance, for they were engaged in their usual daily avocations, and the raid was “like thunder from a clear sky.” The guerrillas, as they rushed through the town, stopped all the citizens they met and gathered them in squads under guard of a few men, armed with pistols, retaining them as prisoners, on the common. Meanwhile the remainder of the banditti started to secure horses. They took two from Field’s livery stable, five from Fuller’s, several from the American and Tremont stables, and a twelve hundred dollar span from Mr. Clark, of Rutland — securing about thirty in all. Their adroitness in cutting off harness was marvellous, and the contents of the saddle-makers’ shops soon enabled the villains to become cavalry instead of footpads.

Stalbansraid (A woodcut illustration of the St. Albans Raid in St. Albans, Vermont, United States. At the bank, the raiders forced those present to take an oath of loyalty to “the Constitution of the Confederate States of America.”)

bank tellers taking the (Confederate) oath

Meanwhile their threats were terrible. “We will burn your damned town,” they said. “We will treat you as the people of Atlanta were treated.”–They also said, “We are coming back again, and will burn every town in Vermont.” Their imprecations were of a blasphemous character. They claimed to be Confederates. Our informant does not think any of the men were Canadians. They all looked like Americans, and Southerners at that. These demons continued their infernal pistol-firing, killing a man named Morse after they began to “take prisoners.”

All this was the work of twenty minutes. Conductor Baldwin says he can scarcely realize that it all happened, and that so much was done in so short a time. The guerrillas, having all secured horses and saddles, commenced their retreat. They abandoned the prisoners and rode off northward, firing their pistols as they proceeded.

After the invaders had gone the citizens turned out and pursued them, capturing the leader, with $100,000. The Governor-General of Canada is also endeavoring to arrest those who escaped into that province. As the “raiders” passed through Frewsburg, an attempt was made to stop them, and the bailiff of the town was killed. All New England is crazy over this “barbarous invasion,” and is trying to prove that the men were Confederates.

You can read a complete account at The St. Albans Raid.

Although pursued by townspeople, the rebel band eventually made it back to Canada, where they were locked up. The United States’ request for extradition failed, and the detainees were released.

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



Old Line State = Free State

150 years ago this month voters in Maryland narrowly approved a new state constitution that outlawed slavery. The votes of Maryland soldiers serving in the Union army proved to be decisive.

President Lincoln probably was pleased with the Maryland vote since he believed that if slavery wasn’t wrong nothing was wrong. 150 years ago he congratulated serenading Marylanders in D.C. about their constitution but then went on to reassure citizens that if he lost the November election he wasn’t going to try to ruin the Government or let General McClellan take control at once. President Lincoln was going to follow the Constitution. He sort of pictured himself as a competent helmsman ready to transfer the ship of state to the next duly elected president.

From The Papers And Writings Of Abraham Lincoln, Volume Seven:

OCTOBER 19, 1864.

FRIENDS AND FELLOW-CITIZENS:—I am notified that this is a compliment paid me by the loyal Marylanders resident in this District. I infer that the adoption of the new constitution for the State furnishes the occasion, and that in your view the extirpation of slavery constitutes the chief merit of the new constitution. Most heartily do I congratulate you, and Maryland, and the nation, and the world, upon this event. I regret that it did not occur two years sooner, which, I am sure, would have saved the nation more money than would have met all the private loss incident to the measure; but it has come at last, and I sincerely hope its friends may fully realize all their anticipations of good from it, and that its opponents may by its effects be agreeably and profitably disappointed.

A word upon another subject. Something said by the Secretary of State in his recent speech at Auburn, has been construed by some into a threat, that if I shall be beaten at the election, I will, between then and the end of my constitutional term, do what I may be able to ruin the Government.

Three-quarter length portrait of Presidenet Abraham Lincoln standing (1864 Jan. 8; printed later between 1885 and 1911; LOC:  LC-USZ62-8047)

” if I live” till March 4th, I’ll defend the Constitution

Others regard the fact that the Chicago Convention adjourned, not sine die, but to meet again, if called to do so by a particular individual, as the intimation of a purpose that if their nominee shall be elected he will at once seize control of the Government. I hope the good people will permit themselves to suffer no uneasiness on either point. I am struggling to maintain the Government, not to overthrow it. I am struggling especially to prevent others from overthrowing it. I therefore say, that if I live, I shall remain President until the 4th of next March, and that whoever shall be constitutionally elected, in November, shall be duly installed as President on the 4th of March, and in the interval I shall do my utmost that whoever is to hold the helm for the next voyage shall start with the best possible chance of saving the ship. This is due to the people, both on principle and under the Constitution. Their will, constitutionally expressed, is the ultimate law for all. If they should deliberately resolve to have immediate peace, even at the loss of their country and their liberties, I know not the power or the right to resist them. It is their own business, and they must do as they please with their own. I believe, however, they are still resolved to preserve their country and their liberties; and in this, in office or out of it, I am resolved to stand by them. I may add, that in this purpose to save the country and its liberties, no classes of people seem so nearly unanimous as the soldiers in the field and the sailors afloat. Do they not have the hardest of it? Who should quail while they do not? God bless the soldiers and seamen, with all their brave commanders.

Civil War envelope showing shaking hands in front of U.S. Constitution with weapon and American flag in back (Philadelphia : King & Baird, printers, 607 Sansom St., [between 1861 and 1865]; LOC: LC-DIG-ppmsca-31974

A. Lincoln a big supporter

The President did not have been concerned about the November result, according to the Richmond Dispatch, which called the presidential contest for Mr. Lincoln 150 years ago today based on the outcome of state elections in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. From the Richmond Daily Dispatch October 18, 1864:

Tuesday morning…October 18, 1864.

The completion of the return from the North leave no doubt with regard to the re-election of Lincoln. For our own part, we are in no way disconcerted or disappointed, for we have never, for one moment, entertained a doubt that the result would be precisely such as it is new evident to all that it must be. Nor, to speak the truth, are we displeased with the issue. We have always regarded McClellan as the most dangerous man for the Confederacy that could possibly have been put in nomination for the Northern Presidency; nor do we see any reason new to doubt that our opinion was well founded. He has proclaimed himself a war candidate, although placed by his friends upon a peace platform.–He avows, at the risk of losing many votes, his determination to prosecute the war to the restoration of the Union. He avows his determination, if elected, to place the prosecution of hostilities upon a footing consistent with the usages of civilized nations. Had he been elected, there is every probability that the policy of armistices and peace conventions — the most dangerous policy that could possibly have been inaugurated for our cause — would have been pushed to consummation. Besides all this, he is a man of large military experience, and knows far better than Lincoln how to handle the immense forces placed at the command of a President of the United States. We are gratified, then, at the escape we think we have made. It might have been infinitely worse. We are, indeed, confident that it would have been.

We now are pretty sure of what we have to expect. Not only is Abraham Lincoln President of the United States for the next four years after the 4th of March, 1865, but he goes in with a majority large enough to sustain him in any atrocity he may meditate. The majority of the North have pretty clearly declared themselves well pleased with the war and with the manner of conducting it. They endorse all the atrocities of Sherman, all the cruelties of Hunter, all the crimes of Sheridan, all the murders of Butler, all the butchery and barbarism of Grant. The conflagrations of our towns and villages, the deportation of our women and children, the starvation of whole populations, the instigations of our slaves to murder and robbery, an aggravation of all the horrors of war, in its most horrible aspects, where the passions are left entirely without control, and every appliance is used to stimulate them, until, by their indulgence, men become devils — all these things, the virtuous, intelligent, civilized, christian, religious North–the heirs of the best government the sun ever shone upon — have deliberately approved of as applied to us. And we accept the application. Indeed, there is no way of escape, did we even desire to avoid the issue. There can be no shuffling in the ranks now. Every man must know his place, and must keep it. The issue is not peace or war, but freedom or slavery, existence or extermination.

It is best for the people of the Confederacy to understand, once for all, that their hopes consist in their arms alone. …

Did General McClellan already have a chance to command the immense U.S. forces?

The Old Line State acquired the Free State moniker when the 1864 constitution took effect on November 1st.

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Surgeon Curran

It looks like exactly two years after his heroism at Antietam, Medal of Honor recipient Richard J. Curran was promoted to full Surgeon.

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

PROMOTED. – The many friends of Dr. Richard Curran, will be pleased to learn that he has been promoted and assigned to the position of Surgeon of the Ninth N.Y. Cavalry.

Friends of Surgeon Rulison, Dr. Curran’s predecessor, were probably not too pleased to learn that he had been killed.

Richard Curran Ninth NY Cavalry

Richard Curran

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3rd Artillery (Light) Battery D NY Volunteers Guidon (NY State Military Museum

The Third New York Artillery had been losing men to Yellow Fever, but ample replacements seemed to be available.

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

An Efficient Recruiting Officer.

Lieut. JOHN STEVENSON, of the 3d N.Y. Artillery, has recently recruited over 250 men for his regiment, mostly from our county. They left Elmira on Saturday last to join the regiment, which is now at Newbern, N.C. Lieut. STEVENSON has been detailed and sent home on two or three different occasions for the purpose of recruiting, and each time obtained a large number of volunteers. He is an active and efficient officer, and is deserving of much praise for his efforts in strengthening the Artillery arm of the service.

John Stevenson Jr

outstanding recruiter

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bombs bursting in air

Oh, to be iron-clad from head to foot. … but we drone on.

The Yankees are still shelling Charleston. In this correspondence concerning the night of September 30th, some civilians were wounded, and, while the writer was amused by the sight of blacks fleeing the bombs, he admitted that the thought of the shells being directed at him “caused a cold chill to run through my veins.” Also, Yellow Fever was on the rise in the city.

From the Richmond Daily Dispatch October 15, 1864:

The shelling of Charleston — a night of horror.

A correspondent of the Macon Confederacy, writing from Charleston on the 30th, gives an account of the cruel shelling of that place, in the corporate limits of which there are not probably a dozen Confederate soldiers.

Wednesday night will long be remembered by the residents of this city as a night of horror. The shelling of the place had been almost continuous and rapid on Monday and Tuesday, but the bombardment of the last forty-eight hours has exceeded it all. On Tuesday evening I counted four shots within eight minutes, and thought it remarkably rapid firing; but the cannonading Wednesday night beat even that. It commenced a little after six o’clock and lasted until ten–the shells averaging forty and forty-five to the hour. The firing is said to have been from four guns, but I think more must have been used, as any one at all acquainted with heavy artillery practice knows that it takes considerable time in the loading and firing of heavy ordnance.

That the enemy have mounted additional and heavier pieces is evidenced from the fact that the shells were thrown in a part of the city hitherto considered safe and beyond the reach of these devilish missiles. Where that neighborhood is, I shall not be so indiscreet as to mention for the information of the enemy.

charleston-bombardment (Harper's Weekly, January 9, 1864)

still pertinent (Harper’s Weekly 1-9-1864)

Much damage was done to buildings and considerable injury to persons — the family of one of our oldest and most respectable merchants, consisting of a lady and four children, were all wounded by the explosion of a percussion shell in the room in which they were seated at tea. The lady had her collar bone broken, the children were less seriously hurt. During the day, one man had an arm taken off, and another lost a leg from the shells. Up to this writing, I have heard of no loss of life from the bombardment of the last forty-eight hours.

Had it not been a matter of life and death, some of the scenes witnessed, by the flight of the darkeys from the shelled district, would have been ludicrous and mirth provoking.

Many old wenches passed the window at which I was seated, loaded down with every conceivable useful and useless article of household plunder, with their young ones screaming and tugging at their skirts. Others, with more maternal feelings, abandoned all their kitchen goods and bore off their Scotty picaninnies alone. I noticed one of the latter loaded down with no less than three–two in her arms and one riding on her back. One old African, in hobbling past, cordially, but irreverently, wished that the Yankee who invented those big guns “was in hell-fire, and the d — d rascals dat was firing dem, too.”

It is a singular idea, but no less true, that the negroes hereabouts seem to think themselves a doomed race, so far at least as shells are concerned; but they bid defiance to fate on this occasion by leaving at the first fire. I have heard of but few whites leaving the neighborhood.

Had a fellow been iron clad or bombproof, top and bottom, the sight would have been a grand and imposing one; but when my attention was even at its height the thought that the flight of these fiery monsters might be turned in my direction caused a cold chill to run through my veins.

The firing ceased at 10 o’clock, and was not renewed until 8 the next morning, and was kept up steadily but slowly all day, the shots not exceeding eight to the hour.

Charleston, South Carolina. Ruins of bombarded graveyard (1865; LOC: LC-DIG-cwpb-02406)

“Charleston, South Carolina. Ruins of bombarded graveyard” (1865)

The Yankees war not only with women and children, but even with the dead. Several shells fell on Tuesday night in the graveyard of Trinity (Methodist Episcopal) Church, tearing up the graves and demolishing the tombstones of the sacred dead. They may have been chance shots. I think otherwise, and that they were but following the hyena-like instincts of their projectors.

The yellow fever, I am sorry to say, is on the increase. It is now among our German population, with whom it is generally very fatal, as all previous yellow fever seasons has abundantly proven.–Prayer for its abatement was offered up in several of the churches last Sunday.

The Charleston Courier adds to the above this paragraph:

The enemy renewed their fire upon the city rather feebly Thursday morning.–Some thirty-three shots were fired up to six o’clock Thursday evening. No further casualties were reported, but several very narrow escapes made. In one house the family but a moment previous to the entering of a shell had retired to the dining-room, when the sitting-room was struck, making a complete wreck of the room and contents. A prayer book on a side-table appeared to be the only article that escaped destructive. It was opened at the 49th Psalm, commencing with: “Deliver me from mine enemies, O. my God; defend me from them that rise up against me. Deliver me from the workers of iniquity and save me from bloody men.”

It wasn’t just civilians. 150 years ago prisoners of war were purposely exposed to the bombs flying through the Charleston air.During 1864 Confederate General Samuel Jones housed Union prisoners in parts of Charleston within range of the Yankees to try and reduce the shelling of civilian areas. Union General John Foster eventually retaliated by putting approximately 600 rebel prisoners on Morris Island – in the path of both Confederate and Union shells. You can read all about this episode in a very good article at HistoryNet. The mutual exposure of prisoners ended 150 years ago this month:

General Jones’ threats to put Union prisoners on the ramparts of Fort Sumter never materialized, and on October 8 the Union captives in Charleston were removed to cities farther inland. The Southern captives’ ordeal continued, however, until October 21, when, after 45 days of exposure to shellfire, they were finally taken out of their miserable pen and transferred to Fort Pulaski at Savannah, Ga.

Charlestonharbor1864 (1864; LOC: http://www.loc.gov/item/99448816/)

bombs flying over rebel prisoners on Morris Island

Posted in 150 Years Ago This Week, Civil War prisons, Military Matters, Southern Society | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

electoral bullying banned

At least in the army by New York State

In a good article on the soldiers’ vote Mr. Lincoln and New York explains that New Yorkers overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment in the spring of 1864 allowing troops to vote in the field. According to the following, the state legislature tried to guard against officers coercing their men to vote a certain way. The Democrat paper wanted to make sure soldiers knew they were free to vote for General McClellan for president.

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

Attention, Soldiers!

The laws of this State provide that if

SEC.13. Any officer of this State or of the United States, who shall, directly or indirectly, control or attempt to control any such enlisted elector in the exercise of any of his rights under this act by menace, bribery, fear of punishment, hope of reward, or any other corrupt or arbitrary measure or resort whatever, or to annoy, injure, or otherwise punish any such officer or man, for the manner in which he may have exercised any such right, shall be deemed guilty of an offense against the sovereignty of this state, which shall be punished as a misdemeanor, and for which he may be indicted and tried at any future time, when he may be found within the limits of this state; and upon conviction he shall be imprisoned for a term not exceeding one year, and fined in a sum not exceeding one thousand dollars and he shall also thenceforth be ineligible, after conviction thereof, to hold any office in this state.

Under the provisions of this act, any Colonel, Captain, or other military officer, high or low, who shall in any way, improperly influence or annoy, or attempt to annoy, any private soldier desiring to vote for McClellan, is liable to indictment and punishment as a felon, in this State. We therefore urge our boys to make complaint wherever they are abused or intimidated. They can send their complaints to any Grand Jury, and they will be entertained. there is no statute of limitations in this case, and there are some counties where courts will do their duty.

You can read about the following anti-Republican political cartoon at the Library of Congress:

How free ballot is protected! (by Joseph E. Baker, 1864; LOC: LC-USZ62-89606)

intimidation bad at home, too

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