Saturday, January 5, 2013

January 4, 1863

January 4, 1863:  In New York City, at the Shiloh Presbyterian Church, there is a large gathering that styles itself as a Grand Emancipation Jubilee, where white and black ministers spoke to an enthusiastic crowd in celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation.   Patriotic songs are sung, and a prayer offered by the group.

---Walt Whitman, the poet, is in Washington to find his younger brother George, who had been wounded in battle.  He writes home to his sister about his experiences there, and his impressions of the soldiers’ sufferings:

. . . Well, dear sister, I hope you are well and hearty, and that little sis keeps as well as she always had, when I left home, so far. Dear little plague, how I would like to have her with me, for one day. I can fancy I see her, and hear her talk. Jeff must have got a note from me about a letter I have written to the Eagle—you may be sure you will get letters enough from me, for I have little else to do at present. Since I laid my eyes on dear brother George, and saw him alive and well—and since I have spent a week in camp, down there opposite Fredericks-burgh, and seen what well men and sick men, and mangled men endure—it seems to me I can be satisfied and happy henceforward if I can get one meal a day, and know that mother and all are in good health, and especially if I can only be with you again, and have some little steady paying occupation in N. Y. or Brooklyn. . . . O my dear sister, how your heart would ache to go through the rows of wounded young men, as I did—and stopt to speak a comforting word to them. There were about 100 in one long room, just a long shed neatly whitewashed inside. One young man was very much prostrated, and groaning with pain. I stopt and tried to comfort him. He was very sick. I found he had not had any medical attention since he was brought there—among so many he had been overlooked. So I sent for the doctor, and he made an examination of him. . . . I gave him a little change I had—he said he would like to buy a drink of milk, when the woman came through with milk. Trifling as this was, he was overcome and began to cry. Then there were many, many others. I mention the one, as a specimen. My Brooklyn boys were John Lowery, shot at Fredericksburgh, and lost his left forearm, and Amos H. Vliet—Jeff knows the latter—he has his feet frozen, and is doing well. The 100 are in a ward,—and there are, I should think, eight or ten or twelve such wards in the Campbell Hospital—indeed a real village. Then there are some 38 more Hospitals here in Washington, some of them much larger. . . .

---Laura M. Towne, in the Sea Islands near Port Royal, South Carolina as a teacher for the freedmen and their families, records in her diary an Emancipation Jubilee celebration she attended with the high command of the Union forces there, and how trouble brewed at the dinner:
January 4.

A grand celebration at the church. The children sang, “Sound the loud timbrel,” and “Oh, none in all.”

General Saxton, General Seymour, Mr. Milne, Mr. Williams, Mr. Harrison, and Mr. French addressed the people. They all dined here, I sitting at table opposite to Mr. Soule, having General Saxton on my right hand, General Seymour on my left. The dinner passed pleasantly, when some spirit prompted me to bring in General McClellan, when the two generals opposite each other blazed up, General Seymour being an admirer of McClellan and General Saxton saying a few noble, outspoken words against his pro-slavery principles. He spoke brave, true words about freedom for the blacks. General Seymour did not agree with him. This malapropos subject came near causing a little disagreeable stiffness. Soon after dinner all went home. General Seymour seems to be full of impulse and fire, but too much impressed by a residence of former years in Charleston in favor of the “chivalry.”

---Today, the USS Quaker City and the USS Memphis chase and sieze the Mercury, a fast Confederate blockade runner dashing out of Charleston with a cargo of turpentine and carrying mail. 

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