Saturday, March 24, 2012

March 24, 1862

March 24, 1862: In Cincinnati, Wendell Phillips, a noted anti-slavery speaker and activist, visits the Opera House to deliver a speech. Cincinnati is mostly pro-Union, and since Phillips is also pro-secession—that is, Let the South Go—he is attacked by a crowd with rocks, eggs, and other missiles of political debate.

—In the on-goiong debate over the First Confiscation Bill in the U.S. Senate, Senator Saulsbury of Delaware voices his opposition to freeing any more negroes:

"I will remark now only that if this bill passes it is to pass by the votes of Senators from the non-slaveholding States, gentlemen representing States that are not afflicted with the great curse of a free negro population. I propose this amendment: That the said persons liberated, within thirty days thereof, be transported to the States of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, and New York."

The vote was called on this scarcely serious measure: yeas 2, nays 31.

—William Yancey, recently returned from Europe as an envoy, has been unable to turn even one European country toward the Confederate cause. In an impromptu speech to a crowd at the St. Charles Hotel in New Orleans, Yancey states as his belief that Europe will not come to the South’s rescue, and that all European nations are hoping for the war to drag on as long as possible, in order to weaken or even collapse all of the American governments. He further encourages self-reliance in the face of the ever-strengthening Union blockade. He further acknowledges that cotton is not king at all, due to the glut in world supply.

—South of Kernstown, Virginia, Confederate troops fight a delaying action as they withdraw south on the Valley Pike, toward the crossing at Cedar Creek, where Jackson’s main force has retured. One young Virginia artilleryman, George Michael Neese, writes in his journal of the day’s action:

At about nine o’clock they came in sight. We moved about a mile south of Newtown, went in battery and fired on their vanguard. . . . At this position we had a lively and stubborn artillery duel. We held our own until we saw that the Yankee army as a whole was advancing. Then we withdrew to the next hill and opened on them again, and so we skirmished with their artillery and devilled their advance from every hilltop until we arrived on the Shenandoah side of Cedar Creek. There we found Jackson’s infantry and wagon train in camp, but were preparing to move up the Valley. The Yanks charged one of our guns to-day, but found that the fire was a little too warmish and dangerous to accomplish the capture of a live Rebel gun. The Yanks have no relish for canister.
—Capt. William Thompson Lusk, of the 2nd New York Volunteer Infantry, writes home to his mother, defending Gen. George McClellan to his detractors, and then considering the chances for peace:

My dearest Mother, it will be a sweet thing for us all to see peace once more restored, and I do not doubt that no one prays more earnestly for it than yourself. I cannot but feel that a Higher Power has guided us of late to victory and do not fear for the result, yet bloody battles must be fought in which we must all partake, before the olive-branch is possible. I hardly think that the impatient ones at home, who are clamorous as to the inactivity and want of efficiency of our army, will have in the end any reason to complain that blood enough has not been shed to compensate them for the millions they have expended on it.

—Major Rutherford B. Hayes of the Union Army, writes in a letter home:

An odd laughable incident occurred to Joe the other day. You know his fondness for children. He always talks to them and generally manages to get them on his knee. Stopping at a farm-house he began to make advances towards a little three-year old boy who could scarcely talk plain enough to be understood. The doctor said, "Come, my fine little fellow. I want to talk to you." The urchin with a jerk turned away saying something the doctor did not comprehend. On a second approach the doctor made it out "Go to Hell, you dam Yankee!" This from the little codger was funny enough. . . .

—Lt. Charles Wright Wills, of the 7th Illinois Cavalry, writes in his journal about riding in a patrol going after Jeff Thompson’s semi-regular Rebel guerillas in southeasternMissouri:

When we first saw these pickets they were tearing up a culvert. We hurried up and after each side fired four or five rounds they ran. No one hurt here, although the distance was not more than 60 yards. Andy Hulit, my sergeant major and myself were the advance guard, but I have no carbine, and did not get to shoot, but this didn’t seem to make any difference to them for they threw buckshot round me quite promiscuously. Well, we fixed up that bridge and pressed on, but they tore down so many bridges that we could go but slowly. Just before the fight I had dropped back a dozen files to get out of building any more bridges, and when our boys saw the secesh, they had just finished destroying another. The horses couldn’t cross it, but the boys dismounted and hurrying across on foot, made them take to the swamp in water waist deep, where they hid themselves behind logs, vines and a kind of high grass that grows in bunches as large as a currant bush. When they had concealed themselves to their notion, they commenced firing at us, and of the first four of our boys over the bridge (Andy Hulit led them), three were down, wounded in a minute. We then charged (on foot) right into the brush and water, some of the boys up to their armpits, and made them scoot. They did not number over 20 but their advantage was enormous. We dropped two of them certain, and— I don’t think any more. . . . We drove the Rebels clear off, and captured two horses, and all their blankets, overcoats etc. About 15 miles out we came to Little River. While the major was examining the bridge, we saw a half dozen men running through a swamp on the other side. Over the bridge we went, and into the mud and water after them. We got them all. I captured a couple in a thicket. Andy Hulit came up a few minutes after and we had work to keep a lot of boys from shooting them, while we were taking them back to the river. Well, that was a pretty rough trip and I don’t hanker after another like it, although the excitement is rather pleasant too. But being set up for a mark on a road where there is not a sign of a chance to dodge, and having the marksman completely concealed from you, and this other fix of letting them throw shells at you when your carbine won’t carry to them, sitting on horseback too, I wish it understood I’m opposed to and protest against, although I never think so until I get back to camp.

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