Friday, November 21, 2014

November 21, 1864: The Diary of Judith White McGuire

On this day 150 years ago, war refugee Judith White McGuire wrote in her diary of the sad case of a young wounded soldier who committed suicide to end his suffering.
November 21st, 1864.

We attended hospital services yesterday as usual. There are few patients, and none are very ill. On Friday night a most unexpected death took place, under very painful circumstances. A young adjutant lost his life by jumping out of a window at the head of his bed, about ten feet from the ground. His attendants were a sister, brother, and two servants. His suffering with a wound in his foot had been so intense that he would not allow any one to touch it except the ward-master, who handled it with the greatest tenderness. Yet while his attendants were asleep (for they thought it unnecessary to be up with him all night) he managed to get up, raise the window, and throw himself out, without disturbing one of them. His mind was no doubt unsettled, as it had been before. He lived about an hour after being found. His poor sister was wild with grief and horror, and his other attendants dreadfully shocked.

November 21, 1864: Abraham Lincoln to Mrs. Bixby, a Five-Star Mother

On this day 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln wrote the following letter to a Mrs. Bixby of Boston, Massachusetts who had lost five sons fighting with the Union Army.
MRS. BIXBY, Boston, Massachusetts.

DEAR MADAM:—I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours very sincerely and respectfully,

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

November 19, 1864: "Proclamation Concerning Blockade"

On this day 150 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln issued the following proclamation lifting the federal blockade against certain Southern ports that were under Union control, allowing a limited resumption of trade with these ports.


A Proclamation.
Whereas by my proclamation of the 19th of April, 1861, it was declared that the ports of certain States, including those of Norfolk, in the State of Virginia, Fernandina and Pensacola, in the State of Florida, were, for reasons therein set forth, intended to be placed under blockade; and:

Whereas the said ports were subsequently blockaded accordingly, but having for some time past been in the military possession of the United States, it is deeemd advisable that they should be opened to domestic and foreign commerce:
Now, therefore, be it known that I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, pursuant to the authority in me vested by the fifth section of the act of Congress approved on the 13th of July, 1861, entitled "An act further to provide for the collection of duties on imports, and for other purposes," do hereby declare that the blockade of the said ports of Norfolk, Fernandina, and Pensacola shall so far cease and determine, from and after the first day of December next, that commercial intercourse with those ports, except as to persons, things, and information contraband of war, may, from that time, be carried on, subject to the laws of the United States, to the limitations and in pursuance of the regulations which may be prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury, and to such military and naval regulations as are now in force, or may hereafter be found necessary.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the city of Washington, this nineteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-four, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-ninth.

By the President: WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

Monday, November 17, 2014

November 17, 1864: "Reply to Maryland Union Committee"

On this day 150 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln delivered some extemporaneous remarks on the occasion of a visit of some Maryland Unionists.

The President, in reply, said that he had to confess he had been duly notified of the intention to make this friendly call some days ago, and in this he had had a fair opportunity afforded to be ready with a set speech; but he had not prepared one, being too busy for that purpose. He would say, however, that he was gratified with the result of the presidential election. He had kept as near as he could to the exercise of his best judgment for the interest of the whole country, and to have the seal of approbation stamped on the course he had pursued was exceedingly grateful to his feelings. He thought he could say, in as large a sense as any other man, that his pleasure consisted in belief that the policy he had pursued was the best, if not the only one, for the safety of the country.

He had said before, and now repeated, that he indulged in no feeling of triumph over any man who thought or acted differently from himself. He had no such feeling toward any living man. When he thought of Maryland, in particular, he was of the opinion that she had more than double her share in what had occurred in the recent elections. The adoption of a free-State constitution was a greater thing than the part taken by the people of the State in the presidential election. He would any day have stipulated to lose Maryland in the presidential election to save it by the adoption of a free-State constitution, because the presidential election comes every four years, while that is a thing which, being done, cannot be undone. He therefore thought that in that they had a victory for the right worth a great deal more than their part in the presidential election, though of the latter he thought highly. He had once before said, but would say again, that those who have differed with us and opposed us will see that the result of the presidential election is better for their own good than if they had been successful.

Thanking the committee for their compliment, he brought his brief speech to a close.

November 17, 1864: The Diary of Mary Boykin Chestnut

On this day 150 years ago, Mary Boykin Chestnut noted that Sherman was on the march.
November 17th. - Although Sherman took Atlanta, he does not mean to stay there, be it heaven or hell. Fire and the sword are for us here; that is the word. And now I must begin my Columbia life anew and alone. It will be a short shrift.

Captain Ogden came to dinner on Sunday and in the afternoon asked me to go with him to the Presbyterian Church and hear Mr. Palmer. We went, and I felt very youthful, as the country people say; like a girl and her beau. Ogden took me into a pew and my husband sat afar off. What a sermon! The preacher stirred my blood. My very flesh crept and tingled. A red-hot glow of patriotism passed through me. Such a sermon must strengthen the hearts and the hands of many people. There was more exhortation to fight and die, à la Joshua, than meek Christianity.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

November 16, 1864: The Diary of John B. Jones

On this day 150 years ago, Confederate war clerk John B. Jones noted the resentment of the government clerks compelled to take up arms and defend part of Richmond's fortifications. Some of the clerks resented their situation so much they deserted.
November 16th.—Bright and frosty.

This is the day designated by the President for worship, etc., and the offices and places of business are all closed. It is like Sunday, with an occasional report of cannon down the river.

I doubt whether the clerks in the trenches will pray for the President. Compelled to volunteer under a threat of removal, they were assured that they would only be called out in times of great urgency, and then be returned to their offices in a few days. They have now been in the front trenches several months; while the different secretaries are quietly having their kinsmen and favorites detailed back to their civil positions, the poor and friendless are still “left out in the cold.” Many of these have refugee families dependent on them, while those brought in are mostly rich, having sought office merely to avoid service in the field. The battalion, numbering 700, has less than 200 now in the trenches. Hundreds of the local forces, under a sense of wrong, have deserted to the enemy.

Gen. Breckinridge has beaten the enemy at Bull’s Gap, Tenn., taking several hundred prisoners, 6 guns, etc.

Mr. Hunter was at the department early this morning in quest of news.

Gave $75 for a load of coal.

Messrs. Evans & Cogswell, Columbia, S. C., have sent me some of their recent publications: “A Manual of Military Surgery, by I. Julian Chisolm, M.D., 3d edition;” “Digest of the Military and Naval Laws,” by Lester & Bromwell; “Duties of a Judge Advocate, etc.” by Capt R. C. Gilchrist; and “A Map of East Virginia and North Carolina;” all beautifully printed and bound.