Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Henry Adams, private secretary of the US Minister to the UK, to his brother, Charles.

London, November 25, 1864

The election is over then, and after all that excitement, worry and danger, behold, all goes on as before. It was one of those cases in which life and death seemed to hang on the issue, and the result is so decisive as to answer all our wishes and hopes. It is a curious commentary upon theoretical reasoning as to forms of Government, that this election which ought by all rights to be a defect in the system, and which is universally considered by the admirers of “strong Governments” to be a proof of the advantage of their own model, should yet turn out in practice a great and positive gain and a fruitful source of national strength. After all, systems of Government are secondary matters, if you’ve only got your people behind them. I never yet have felt so proud as now of the great qualities of our race, or so confident of the capacity of men to develop their faculties in the mass. I believe that a new era of the movement of the world will date from that day, which will drag nations up still another step, and carry us out of a quantity of old fogs. Europe has a long way to go yet to catch us up.

Anything that produces a great effect in our favor on this side, usually produces a sort of general silence as the first proof of its force. So this election has been met on this side by a species of blindness. People remark the fact with wonder and anger, but they have only just such a vague idea of what are to be its consequences, as shuts their mouths without changing their opinions. Only the most clear-headed see indistinctly what bearing it is likely to have on English politics, and I expect that it will be years yet before its full action gets into play. Meanwhile the Government is now stronger than ever and our only weak point is the financial one. May our name not have to stand guard on that! . . .

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Charles Francis Adams, U.S. Minister to the U.K., to his son, Charles.

London, November 25, 1864

John writes us that you reached Quincy on the Sunday previous to the election. Hence you had an opportunity to vote on that day. The result is now before us. Its moral effect must be prodigious everywhere. I candidly admit, it has surpassed my most sanguine expectations. In the face of intrigues of every kind carried on for months between traitors both without and within the lines, in the face of the serious difficulties attending the maintenance of a terrible struggle, a large majority of the people, spread over the whole country, without geographical or sectional lines to mark a difference, have expressed their deliberate sense of the necessity of perseverance in the policy once commenced. This sentiment has so pervaded the nation, that not one branch of the government, but every part of it, whether federal or state, has been brought into harmony with it. Not an opening has been left for doubt or question as to the constitutional legitimacy of the decision. This is an extraordinary escape from what at one time looked like a portentous hazard. We owe it, under Divine providence, in some degree to the energy and fidelity of the armies in the field which have nobly co-operated to sustain the government policy by contributing the essential element of success. This most critical danger having been safely passed, I trust the moment is approaching when reconciliation may be expected to commence. The slave question must before long be removed from the path. The hope of independence as the instrument to protect slavery must die with it. What is there left to fight about? All the expectations so sanguinely entertained of a return to old compromises by the agency of General McClellan prove vain. Nothing is left but a new appeal to the sword attempted at every disadvantage in comparison with earlier ones that have failed. Unless the people are stark mad, the issue must be peace or expatriation.

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November 25th.—Bright and frosty.

A report from the Bureau of Conscription shows after all that only some 3000 men have been sent to the army during the last two months, under General Order 77, revoking details, etc. I don’t wonder, for there has been the natural confusion consequent upon a conflict of authority between Gen. Kemper and the Bureau of Conscription. About as many details have been made by the one authority as have been enrolled by the other. November 26th.—Clear and frosty.

The following dispatch was received to-day from Gen. Bragg:

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“Augusta, Nov. 25th, 1864.

“Arrived late last night, and take command this morning. We learn from Gen. Wagner, who holds the Oconee Railroad bridge, that the enemy has not crossed the river in any force. He has concentrated in Milledgeville, and seems to be tending South. Our cavalry, under Wheeler, is in his front, and has been ordered to destroy every vestige of subsistence and forage as it retires; to hang upon his flanks, and retard his progress by every possible means. I am informed the brigades from Southwest Virginia have joined Wheeler. President’s dispatch of 23d just received.

“Braxton Bragg, General.”

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When I carried this dispatch to the Secretary I found him sitting in close conference with Mr. Hunter, both with rather lugubrious faces.

Another dispatch from Bragg:

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“Augusta, Nov. 25th, 8 P.M.

“The enemy has crossed the Oconee; was met this morning, in force, at Buffalo Creek, near Sandersville. His movements from that point will determine whether he designs attacking here or on Savannah.”

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Hon. I. T. Leach, from North Carolina, yesterday introduced submission resolutions in the House of Representatives, which were voted down, of course,—Messrs. Logan and Turner, of North Carolina, however, voting for them. A party of that sort is forming, and may necessitate harsh measures.

The President orders detail of fifty men for express company. I feared so!

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Nashville, Friday, Nov. 25. A very nice day. On guard once more. Battery C, 1st Missouri, struck their tents right in front of ours this afternoon. We cannot move camp to its proper place, because there are other batteries in the way. Was happy to meet Knapp and Burnham, once worthy members of the old 6th, in camp direct from Wisconsin. They came to work for the government. The greeting was like meeting family relatives.

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25th. Friday. Thanksgiving chickens for dinner. Wrote to Mrs. Beers. Forage caps issued. Considerable dissatisfaction among the boys. Band played some time.

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Near Ball’s Ferry, Oconee River,

November 25, 1864.

Got off at daylight; made some eight miles, formed in a line in a field. “Halt!” “Cover!” “Front!” “Stack arms!” Now men get rails and fix for the night. So we think we have plenty of time and make our motions accordingly. We had just got our things fairly unpacked when the “General” sounded. Fifteen minutes afterward the assembly, and we were again on the march. All right. This miserable pine smoke again to-night. Saw the 17th Corps to-day for the first time on the trip. They tried to cross the river at the railroad bridge, but the Johnnies would not let them, and they had to come down to our road. I think we are to-night half way on our journey. The boys had a great time last night in Irwinton. The citizens had buried a great many things to keep them from the “vandals” and the boys soon found it out. Hundreds of them were armed with sharpened sticks probing the earth, “prospecting.” They found a little of everything, and I guess they took it all to the owners, eatables and drinkables. We fell in at retreat, and had general order No 26 read to us for I guess the 20th time. It declares that “any soldier or army follower who shall be convicted of the crime of arson or robbery, or who shall be caught pillaging, shall be shot, and gives officers and non-commissioned ditto the right to shoot pillagers in the act.” There have been 20 to 30 booms of artillery at the ferry this evening. Think it was the 2d Division. They’ll be smart Rebels who keep that division from laying their pontoons.

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Friday, 25th.—Reported Yanks have evacuated Pulaski. Passed Mount Pleasant, Maury County; very nice country. About 20,000 Yanks at Columbia.

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Irwinton, November 24, 1864.

Made 12 miles to-day over a rolling but well settled country. This is a nice little 700 county town. I hear that the troops that were at Macon are passing us on our right. Suppose they want to get in our front to annoy us again. They had better keep out of our way. Had another romantic meeting to-day with a Miss Howell. Spent the evening at her house. A charming girl, very accomplished. Admire her very much. Understand to-day that “Pap’s” headquarters are at Howell Cobb’s house in Milledgville. Some of the men saw a Macon paper of the 21st inst. It gave the proceedings of a citizen’s meeting. In resolutions they declared that Sherman’s army must be stopped in its mad career and pledged themselves to turn out en masse and harrass us all day and night. In fact, to give us no rest at all. The operations of the next day show how they commenced their good work. Have not heard anything of them since.

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Thursday, November 24. — Thanksgiving up North. We had our dinner of course. Some canned turkey, roast beef, turnips and potatoes formed our repast. In the evening we had pumpkin pies. Received 3 letters. One from Alice, one from General Peirce and one about Sergeant Dwelley. Milledgeville captured by Sherman.

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Thursday, 24th—We lay in camp all day. The rebels are still in our front, and there is some cannonading off on our left where the Fourteenth and Twentieth Corps are on the move and destroying property. The Seventeenth Corps burned all the railroad property from Gordon down to the Oconee river. The first brigade of our division destroyed the railroad for some miles in this locality. The Iowa Brigade went out on the railroad this morning and worked for two hours. There was some skirmishing in our front and to our right. Our division supply train is lying at Station No. 15, the Fifteenth Iowa acting as train guard. We received orders to march in the morning at 5 o’clock.

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