Saturday, November 24, 2012

November 24, 1862

---The Richmond Daily Dispatch editorializes against Burnside’s orders to empty the town of Fredericksburg before he shells it, reminding their readers that this town was the home of George Washington’s mother.  The editorial notes with outrage the irony the possibility that “the home in which she lived, and in which she trained her illustrious son for his lofty mission, that the very monument erected to her memory, have been demolished by the cannon of a people who owe to Washington their freedom and independence! . . . Exile, desolation, and ruin are the fate with which such a town has been visited by this fiendish invasion, whilst the Northern cities, reeking with moral corruption, are exuberant with pleasure and gaiety. Washington, the central fountain of all the bloodshed, misery, and crime of this inhuman war, is said to be the scene of extraordinary festivities, whilst innocent Southern cities are clothed in mourning and tribulation.”

---Pres. Abraham Lincoln writes a frank letter to his friend Carl Schurz, a German immigrant who is well-connecting and skilled in politics and now a general in the army, apparently in reference to Schurz’s criticisms that the Republican cause is not being prospered:



MY DEAR SIR—I have just received and read your letter of the 20th. The purport of it is that we lost the late elections and the administration is failing because the war is unsuccessful, and that I must not flatter myself that I am not justly to blame for it. I certainly know that if the war fails the administration fails, and that I will be blamed for it, whether I deserve it or not. And I ought to be blamed if I could do better. You think I could do better; therefore you blame me already. I think I could not do better; therefore I blame you for blaming me. I understand you now to be willing to accept the help of men who are not Republicans, provided they have "heart in it." Agreed. I want no others. But who is to be the judge of hearts, or of "heart in it"? If I must discard my own judgment and take yours, I must also take that of others and by the time I should reject all I should be advised to reject, I should have none left, Republicans or others not even yourself. For be assured, my dear sir, there are men who have "heart in it" that think you are performing your part as poorly as you think I am performing mine. I certainly have been dissatisfied with the slowness of Buell and McClellan; but before I relieved them I had great fears I should not find successors to them who would do better; and I am sorry to add that I have seen little since to relieve those fears.

I do not see clearly the prospect of any more rapid movements. I fear we shall at last find out that the difficulty is in our case rather than in particular generals. I wish to disparage no one certainly not those who sympathize with me; but I must say I need success more than I need sympathy, and that I have not seen the so much greater evidence of getting success from my sympathizers than from those who are denounced as the contrary. . . . I will not perform the ungrateful task of comparing cases of failure. . . .

Very truly your friend,


---The famous preacher Henry Ward Beecher criticizes Lincoln heavily in his newspaper, The Independent:

We have been made irresolute, indecisive and weak by the President's attempt to unite impossibilities; to make war and keep the peace; to strike hard and not hurt; to invade sovereign States and not meddle with their sovereignty; to put down rebellion without touching its cause. . . .

---Sergeant Alexander Downing of the 11th Iowa Infantry, with the Army of the Tennessee, writes in his journal the soldier’s plaintive lament about poor rations:

Monday, 24th—We draw rations now of equal parts of meal, flour and crackers, and in amount equal to a one-pound loaf of bread. We have no means for baking bread, so each man turns over his flour and corn meal to the company cook, who boils it into a mush. Then at the noon hour he calls out and the men go and get their portions. Some of us fry the mush with a little bacon, which makes a very palatable dish. But I cannot understand why it is, that with a railroad open to our base of supplies, the quartermaster cannot draw full rations of crackers for the men.

---Kate Cumming, a nurse in the Confederate Army hospital in Chattanooga, passes judgment on foodstuffs speculators in the South, in her journal: 

Have just received a letter from Mr. M—— ;he says provisions are so high in Mobile that it is almost impossible to live, and that speculators are making piles of money out of the misfortunes of their country. It will be a curse to them and their posterity after them, for it is the very blood of their fellow-mortals they are making it out of. I little thought, when we set out, that there was one man in the whole South who could be guilty of such a base act. How can they expect men to fight for them when they are taking the lives of their wives and children?

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