Friday, March 22, 2013

March 21, 1863

March 21, 1863
—The Richmond Daily Dispatch has heard of speculation and skyrocketing prices for goods in Vicksburg, whose economy is already being adversely affected by the tightening grip of the Union forces on free trade:
From Vicksburg.
–The correspondent of the Mobile Advertiser, writing from Vicksburg, says:

If Vicksburg should ever be so unfortunate, as to fall into the hands of the enemy, it will be accomplished by the untiring exertions of some of our own Southern people, rather than by the assault of the enemy. The unquenchable thirst for speculation has already brought a degree of privation and destitution upon this place that would otherwise have remained strangers and at a great distance.– spirit of speculation has taken hold of almost everybody and every interest is sacrificed to Mammon. To such an extent has this spirit reached, that it now pervades every class of people and every branch of business and there families whose male stays are in the army suffer severely from it.

—The newly-promoted young Col. Robert Gould Shaw of Boston is organizing Massachusetts’ first all-black regiment, what will soon be known as the famous 54th Massaxhusetts Infantry Regiment. He writes home to his parents, and includes some details about how carefully the men for the regiment—both white officers and black enlisted men—are being selected:
March 21, 1863

Dear Father,

Yours of the 18th Inst is received. I don’t think there is any chance for Mr. Wingate in my regiment. We have filled the list of Officers already. There will probably be some vacancies before we leave, but I don’t want to take any one whom I don’t know myself, and the Governor is averse to any but Massachusetts men, as there are a great many applications from his regiments.

Please tell Mother I received her note and will take her advice about Aunt Mary’s house. Charley and Effie arrived safely night before last. The latter found some beautiful bouquets awaiting her, and yesterday received a swarm of visitors.
We have received a large number of men lately from New York State & Pennsylvania. Mr. Stearns’ recruits are beginning to come in too. We are picking them carefully & shall have a very sound set. I expect to have, at least 450 in camp before the middle of next week. Don’t you think Brown had better give up his office in New York? We get finer men from the country, and there is no doubt of our filling up pretty rapidly. . . .

The snow here is still deep, and is making a good layer of mud for us. We can’t drill out of doors which is a great disadvantage as the barracks are crowded.

Give my love to Mother. I hope Nellie is having a pleasant time in Philadelphia. I suppose it is pretty gay there.

Your loving son
Robert G. Shaw

Col. Robert Gould Shaw

---At a March 6 mass rally at the Cooper Union in New York City, John Van Buren, a notable lawyer and War Democrat and therefore supporter of the administration, speaks to an overflow crowd about the war and Copperheadism, as reported on this date in Harper’s Weekly:
The election came and passed, and it is no part of our province or purpose to consider the particular result, except to say that the people of the State of New York, after a very active canvass, were about equally divided. . . . And there being no election pending, I hold it to be entirely preposterous to assume that people who differed during the last canvass in this State may not unite a fe[w] minutes together and tell what we think will be the end of this war—unite cordially in such measures as may be necessary to put down rebellion that has no shadow of justification. [Applause.] Under such circumstances I have been called upon by a Committee of highly respectable gentlemen to redeem the pledges made in the campaign, in the very place where I now stand. And if I was in truth, as I then declared I was, in favor of a vigorous prosecution of the war, and if I did truly believe that the interest of the country far transcended in importance any political and party organization that was in existence, now to come forward and say so in common with those who be-longed to a different political party. [Applause.] Such being the fact, I have no hesitation in saying that I cordially agree to the resolutions that have been adopted. [Applause.] I am for the vigorous prosecution of the war. [Applause.] I am for the prosecution of the war until this rebellion is wholly overthrown. [Applause.] I am for destroying the usurped Government that has been set up over the Southern States, and this thing that calls itself a Confederate Government ; and until that is done I hold that all propositions for peace are entirely preposterous and absurd. [Applause.] Now being for the war, I am necessarily with every body that is for the war; and being opposed to peace, I am necessarily opposed to every body that is for peace. . . .

THE RECENT LEGISLATION OF CONGRESS. Now let us see whether there is any thing worth considering in what is suggested by those who dissent from us, and are unwilling to prosecute this war. The measures that have been recently adopted by Congress are so lately adopted, that it becomes any man who is careful what he says to be guarded in speaking of them. The President issued two Proclamations—both of them, as I have frequently stated, I disapproved. He issued both before I spoke on the 13th of October, and before Governor Seymour spoke. Neither of us saw any thing in them which prevented its from favoring a vigorous prosecution of the war. If there was nothing then, it is certain that there is no-thing now. [Applause.] . . .

I can very well understand how, if I sympathize with the rebellion—if I deemed that this war should fail—I could spend hours and columns in picking flaws in this act. But if I believed that substantial justice required that the great ends of prosecuting the war demand that this whole power of the Government shall be lodged by the Congress of the United States in the President of the United States, I would bow in silence to the act whether I approved of it or not. [Prolonged cheers.] If the President of the United States had usurped these powers there might be a degree of propriety in denouncing it; but when the representatives of the people, legally elected, after due deliberation, assume the responsibility of lodging these trusts in him, in my humble judgment, and certainly in view of the precedent to which I have referred, no wise man will ever complain of the act. [Applause.] . . .

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