Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dec. 19, 1861: In Washington, Lord Richard Lyons, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the United States, delivers a letter to the White House from Lord John Russell, Her Majesty’s Foreign Secretary, demanding that the United States apologize for the unlawful stopping of the Royal Packet Trent on the high seas and the seizure of the Confederate diplomats James Mason and John Slidell, and that the two men be released immediately. Lord Lyons has instructions to leave Washington in a week if the Crown’s requests are not fulfilled. The Royal Navy, in the meantime, is put on alert.

--Private Oliver Willcox Norton of the Federal Army writes to his sister:

Hall’s Hill, Va., Dec. 19th, 1861.

Dear Sister L.:—

This has been a busy week. We’ve been moving into our new tents and fixing ourselves comfortable for winter. Our tents are round, with two doors that can be closed tight, and a pole in the center with two tables, one above the other on the pole. We have some twelve or fourteen in ours. We have bunks made so that we can sleep in one-half of the tent, and not sleep on the ground, either. On the other side we have a rack for our guns, a table and a stove. Think of that—a stove, a little sheet iron one, with two griddles! The stove and pipe cost four dollars. It warms up the tent, and we think it a first-rate institution.

Our new uniforms are distributed and they improve the looks of the regiment wonderfully.

Bancroft, the great historian, came to see us the other day. We donned our ‘baglegs’ and went out with the rest of the brigade and went through with a sham battle for his amusement. . . . Quite a number of carriages were up from the city and I saw ladies watching the sport with a good deal of interest. They would start a the report of the cannons and give a nice little city scream, as ladies will.

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