February 20, 1863
—The Quincy (Ill.) Daily Whig and Republican newspaper, reports on an incident in nearby Keokuk, Iowa, where the recovering wounded soldiers in the Army hospital there have stormed the offices of the Keokuk Constitution, looted the office, scattered the type, and destroyed the press, due to the Constitution’s disloyal “Copperhead” biases:
“Cleaning Out” of the Keokuk “Constitution.”
[From the Gate City, Feb˙ 20.]
Yesterday afternoon a large number of soldiers from the Hospital marched down to the Constitution office, and taking possession of it, broke up the presses and threw, with the cases of type and all other contents of the building, into the street. A couple of drays were pressed into the service, which carried a load of each to the river. This movement took everybody by surprise, but the numbers were so formidadble that no opposition was made (except the personal efforts of Lieut˙ Ball, commandant of the post, and perhaps some others,) until the contents of the office were in ruins. Lieut˙ Ball at length got together the Provost Guard, when the work of destruction was brught to a close. We are told that the cause of the outbreak was the indignation of the soldiers at the comments in the constitution of the 18th and 19ht inst˙, upon the speech of Gov˙ Wright. No one, so far as we are aware, excepting the soldiers engaged in it, knew anything of the movement, until it was consummated.
We publish below, at the request of the soldiers, the pledge which they made, setting forth the reasons for destroying the Constitution Office. It will not be deemed by any inappropriate to allow an expression from the soldiers engaged in this act, that public opinion may be fully informed in regard to all the circumstances of the case. This paper was signed by 150 soldiers of the hospital, most of whom, we understand, are awaiting transportation to return to service.
HEADQUARTERS U˙S˙ SOLDIERS,
KEOKUK, IOWA, FEB˙ 19, ’63.
We, the undersigned soldiers of the U˙S˙ army being fully convinced that the influence of a paper published in this city called “The Constitution,” edited by Thos˙ Clagget, has exerted and is exerting a treasonable influence, (inexcusable by us soldiers) against the Government for which we have staked our all in the present crisis. We, therefore, consider it a duty we owe ourselves, our brethren in the field, our families at home, our Government and our God, to demolish and cast into the Mississippi river, the press and machinery used for the publication of the aforesaid paper, and any person or persons that interfere, so help us God.
—On this date, the Richmond Daily Dispatch comments on the proliferation of Copperhead pro-McClellan sentiment in the North with this wry editorial on Yankee military talent:
There must be an awful dearth of military genius in the United States, when the restoration of McClellan to the chief command of the Army of the Potomac is urged by leading Northern journals as the only means of crushing the rebellion. If ever a man had been tried in the balances and found wanting, it is that same G. B. McClellan. Old Wingfield Scott, after being allowed only three months and fifty thousand men, was thrown overboard because he did not succeed in his “On to Richmond;” whilst McClellan, with a whole year for preparation, and a hundred and fifty thousand men, was whipped out of the Peninsula like a thieving bound, and yet his friends complain because he was removed, and insist that nothing but his restoration will restore the Union.
— The New York Herald reports on an event at the White House this evening: "Public reception at White House to-day was very numerously attended. . . . The President was cordial in his greetings, and Mrs. Lincoln manifested towards all visitors the affability for which she is distinguished."