Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November 27, 1862

November 27, 1862: Upon meeting with Pres. Lincoln, Burnside is assured that the President supports him, and wants him to take all the time he needs for the army to be ready to attack. Lincoln comes up with his own plan: to have three forces converging on Lee’s army, one of which would cut off the Confederates’ retreat to Richmond. Halleck and Burnside both reject Lincoln’s plan as unfeasible.

Thanksgiving Day On the date this holiday was celebrated in the North, Union soldiers take time out for relaxation and amusements. One soldier, John Jasper Wyeth, of the 44th Massachusetts Infantry, then stationed in coastal North Carolina, writes in his diary:
November 27. — Thanksgiving was a great day in the barracks and a fine day outside, except for those who are on guard. We will recollect them all day, having great pity, but unable to relieve them.

To-day has been talked about and worked up for a week. Turkeys and the fixings have been at a premium, but they say our dinner is safe. The day opened splendidly ; just cold enough to induce the boys to play at foot and base ball; some of the officers taking hold and seemingly enjoying the sport.

We had dinner at one p.m. The table, extended nearly the length of the bar-racks, was covered with our rubber blankets, white side uppermost, looking quite home-like.

Our plates and dippers were scoured till we could see our faces in them, and how we hated to rub them up ! for, according to tradition, the blacker the dipper and the more dents it had, the longer and harder the service. But it had to be, and was done, and we had to acknowledge "How well it looks!" When we were seated, about a man to every ten was detailed as carver ; and a few of us who had engineered to get near the platters were caught and had to cut up and serve. We tried in vain to save a nice little piece or two for ourselves ; each time we did it some one would reach for it. At last we cut the birds into quarters and passed them indiscriminately. After the meats we had genuine plum-pudding, also nuts, raisins, &c. After the nuts and raisins were on a few made remarks, but the climax was capped by our Lieut. Cumston, who, after telling us not to eat and drink too much, said, " There is a man in camp from Boston, getting statistics; among others, wishes to find out how many of ‘ E ‘ smoke." The lieutenant said it would be easier counting to ask the question, "How many did not smoke." Several jumped up proud to be counted ; among them a few who did occasionally take a whiff. The joke was soon sprung on them, for when they were well on their feet, Lieut. Cumston remarked that he had a few cigars, not quite a box, and hoped they would go round, but those who did not smoke were not to take any. We had the cigars and the laugh on those who wished to figure in the statistics. It was a big dinner, and we did it justice, and gave the cooks credit for it. In the evening Company D and ourselves gave a musical and literary entertainment. Our barrack was full, and the audience often applauded the amateurs.

The programme was as follows : —

Part I.
Song … " Happy are we to-night, boys" …
Declamation … "England’s Interference" … F. S. Wheeler (Co. D)
Song … "Oft in the Stilly Night" …
Declamation … "The Dying Alchemist" … S. G. Rawson (Co. E)
Readings … "Selections" … J. W. Cartwright (Co. E)
Song … "Viva L’ America" …
Declamation … "Spartacus to the Gladiators" … J. Waterman (Co. D)
Declamation … "The Beauties of the Law" … H. T. Reed (Co. E)
"Contraband’s Visit," … Myers and Bryant (Co. E)
Song … "Gideon’s Band." …


Part II.
Song … "Rock me to sleep, mother" …
Declamation. …"Garibaldi’s Entree to Naples "… G. H. Van Voorhis (Co. E)
Song … "There’s music in the air" …
Imitation of Celebrated Actors … H. T. Reed (Co. E)
Declamation. . ."Rienza’s Address to the Romans" … N. R. Twitchell (Co. E)
Old Folks Concert … Father Kemp.
Ending with "Home, Sweet Home," by the audience.

—George Opdyke, the Governor of New York, issues a proclamation declaring today as a day of Thanksgiving in the state. In his statement, he reminds his constituents of the prosperity that they are experiencing, and reminds them of the safety and satisfaction they live in, "but for the unhallowed Rebellion, that has steeped our country in blood and draped our households in mourning. . . ." He even suggests that in future times that New Yorkers may come to see the trials of the war as "blessings in disguise":
It subdues the vices engendered by peace, purifies the heart and ennobles the sentiments, as may be seen in the exalted patriotism, the heroic courage, the fortitude and the humanity manifested by the noble volunteer army now battling in defence of the Union. May we not hope, therefore, that the trying ordeal through which our country is passing, is but a process of purification, intended by the Great Ruler of Nations to free us from our national sins and infirmities, and fit us for a higher standard of patriotism, civilization and Christianity? Abiding in this faith, let us be of good cheer; and with one heart join in grateful thanks to the Giver of all Good for the richness of His mercies, and with confiding trust unite in earnest prayer for their continuance.
And then he adds this bit, reminding the people to pray also for their enemies:
Let us in Christian charity remember the enemies of our country, and pray God to deliver them from the evil spirit which now holds possession of their hearts; and let us, as far as in us lies, minister to the wants and alleviate the sufferings of the sick and wounded, the poor and the oppressed.

—In a Richmond paper appears an ad offering reward for returning a runaway slave:
Three hundred Dollars reward.
Runaway, on 2d July, a negro woman by the name of Winny Morton. She is about 5 feet 2 inches high, stout built, and black, with thin lips, chews tobacco, and looks glum; she has relations in Richmond and some in Manchester; she passes as a washerwoman. She was sold into absolute slavery by order of the Hustings Court. She no doubt has her free papers; she reported she lost them, which is false. Wherever any person comes across a Winny, and she has her free papers, take her up.--I will give the above reward to any white man, or black man, or black woman, let her be slave or free, so that I am able to lay my hands upon said Winny, or lodged in any jail.
J. W. Satterwhite.

—William E. Gladstone, a leader in Parliament and future Prime Minister of Great Britain, writes to Cyrus Field, an American who devised and laid the Transatlantic Cable, and offers his personal responses to the American War, believing that the Yankees have, in fact, lost the War, and can never beat the South:
But there is one aspect of the war which transcends every other: the possibility of success. The prospect of success will not justify a war in itself unjust: but the impossibility of success in a war of conquest of itself suffices to make it unjust. . . .
You know that in the opinion of Europe that impossibility has been proved. . . Depend upon it, to place the matter upon a single issue, you cannot conquer and keep down a country when the women behave like the women of New Orleans, & which, as this author says, they would be ready to form regiments if such regiments could be of use. . . . you have spent as much money, & have armed and perhaps have destroyed as many men, taking the two sides together, as all Europe spent in the first ten years of the Revolutionary war. Is not this enough? Why have you not more faith in the future of a nation, which should lead for ages to come the American continent, which in five or ten years will even up its apparent loss, or first loss, of strength and numbers, and which, with a career unencumbered by the terrible calamity and curse of slavery, will even from the first be liberated from a position generally & invariably false, and will from the first enjoy & permanent gain in credit & character such as will much more than compensate for its temporary material losses.

I am in short a follower of General Scott: with him I say "wayward sisters, go in peace": immortal fame to him for his will and courageous advice, amounting to a prophecy. Finally, you have done what man could do. You have failed because you failed to do what men could not do. Laws stronger than human will are on the side of easiest self-defence. And the aim at the impossible, which in other times very be folly only, when the path of search is dealt with misery and red with blood, is not folly only but guilt to boot.

I should not leave used so largely in this letter the privilege of free utterance, had I not been conscious that I am with yourselves in my admiration of the founders of your republic, and that I have no lurking sentiment either of hostility or of indifference to America & her, I may add, even then had I not believed that you are lovers of sincerity, and that you can bear even the rudeness of its tongue

I remain […]
Very faithfully yours
W E Gladstone

—A sharp skirmish between Union and Confederate troops ensues near La Vergne, Tennessee, a few miles outside of Nashville. Gen. Joseph Wheeler commands the Rebel riders; Col. Kirk commands the Union.

—Over 2,500 Union cavalry, under the command of Brig. Gen. Washburne, crosses the Mississippi River from Helena, Arkansas, in order to conduct a raid in Mississippi state.


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