Fighting Words On A Cake

William H Seward, 1859

William H Seward, 1859

We’ve been following the 19th New York Volunteer Infantry as it drills in Elmira, New York. The regiment has had to persevere through some difficult circumstances, but things aren’t all bad. For example, the volunteers believed they had the support of Secretary of State, William H. Seward, because Seward’s permanent residence was in Auburn, Cayuga County, where the bulk of the regiment came from (Cayuga in the Field):

With field and staff thus constituted, the regiment felt a great and general satisfaction. Nearly all were novices in war; but the men felt safe and strong in the leadership of officers of such known ability and intellect, especially since it was generally believed that Secretary Seward approved the choice made and would do all he could to help the regiment commanded by them. The 19th at once dubbed itself “The Seward Regiment,” and resumed its work of training.

Unfortunately, Seward’s alleged patronage didn’t help much with the food and uniforms provided the regiment.

Thankfully, there were care packages from home:

Edwin B. Morgan 1859

Some dough for the boys: Edwin B. Morgan 1859 (LOC - LC-DIG-ppmsca-26608)

The deprivations of camp life in the ration department were sometimes relieved from home. Barrels of goodies came sometimes from Auburn. Once there came a plum pudding, aromatic with spices, which created a sensation. Huge cakes came now and then. One royal specimen was inscribed “If any man attempts to haul down the American flag, shoot him on the spot.” Sums of money, the gifts of patriotic friends, aided to replenish a poor larder and provide comforts. Dr. Willard gave the soldiers $50 ; Theo. P. Case and Clarence Seward each $100 ; E. B. Morgan sent $500. The thankfulness of the men found expression, as gifts were announced, in hearty hurrahs, and resolutions of thanks.

Edwin B. Morgan was the first president of Wells Fargo and served as a U.S. House Representative during the 1850’s. “During the American Civil War, Morgan was active in raising and equipping regiments from New York, for which he received the title of colonel.”

At age seven Clarence Seward became an orphan. His uncle William H. Seward helped take care of him.

John Adams Dix wrote his fighting words on January 29, 1861:

Dix was appointed United States Secretary of the Treasury by President James Buchanan in 1861. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he sent a telegram to the Treasury agents in New Orleans ordering that: “If any one attempts to haul down the American flag, shoot him on the spot.” Although the telegram was intercepted by Confederates, and was never delivered to the Treasury agents, the text found its way to the press, and Dix became one of the first heroes of the North during the Civil War. The saying is found on many Civil War tokens minted during the war, although the wording is slightly modified.

You can see an example of a Civil War token honoring Dix’ famous words at Wikipedia. So far I have not seen any cake examples – I’m sure the Cayuga boys quickly digested theirs.

John A. Dix, hero

John A. Dix, Union hero (LOC - LC-USZ62-35087)

John A. Dix (probably 1840s)

young Dix (possibly as U.S. senator in 1840s) (LOC - LC-USZ62-109924)

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