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

New York Times

Procession for the execution of five deserters from the 118th Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1st Division, 5th Corps, Beverly Ford, Va

(New York Times article.)


The execution of the substitute-deserters sentenced to the penalty of death in General Orders No. 84, took place to-day. More than ordinary interest was exhibited in this execution of military law, and it is estimated that not less than 25,000 persons were present. The ground was well selected, and every arrangement so complete that no accident occurred to mar the solemnity of the proceedings.

The position of the spectators was upon a semicircular elevation partially surrounding the place of execution. Previous to the execution the scene presented a remarkable view to the spectator.

Execution of five deserters in the 5th CorpsTwo of the sentenced persons were Protestants, two Catholics, and the fifth a Hebrew. The spiritual advisers of each were present, administering the last consolations of religion. The criminals were sitting upon their respective coffins, with the yawning graves in their rear. The troops were drawn up in close column by division, covering the complete semicircle, and separated from the spectators by a creek.

The order for their immediate execution was issued by Gen. GRIFFIN at 3 P.M., and the officer of the day, Capt. CROCKER, of the One Hundred and Eighteenth Pennsylvania, recalled the clergymen from their spiritual duties.

The rest is briefly told.

Execution of five deserters from the 118th Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1st Division, 5th Corps, before the entire 5th Corps, Beverly Ford, VaAt the order to fire, thirty-six muskets were discharged, and instant death was announced by the surgeons in attendance as the result. The bodies were then placed in their respective graves, and the clergy performed the last religious rites over the deceased.

The spectacle was an unusual one — the Protestant, the Hebrew and the Catholic stood side by side, each uttering prayers for their souls.

The names, ages, residences, etc., of the deceased are as follows:

GEORGE KUHNA, Hanoverian, 22 years old, Pennsylvania — unmarried.

JOHN FELANE, Italian, 26 years old, Pennsylvania — wife and family.

CHARLES WALTER, Prussian, 28 years old — wife and child.

GEORGE KEINESE, Italian, 24 years old — wife and child.

EMIL LAI, Prussian, 30 years old — wife.

The clergy who attended these unfortunates were the Chaplain of the One Hundred and Eighteenth Pennsylvania regiment; Rev. C.L. EGAN, of St. Dominick’s Church Washington; and Rabbi B.S. SCOLD, of Baltimore. They were unremitting in their attendance upon the deceased from the time of their sentence until the final hour.


Image information:


Top image:

  • Procession for the execution of five deserters from the 118th Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1st Division, 5th Corps, Beverly Ford, Va.; drawn by Edwin Forbes.
  • Library of Congress image.

Second image:

  • Execution of five deserters in the 5th Corps; drawn by Alfred R. Waud.
  • Drawing on brown paper : pencil, Chinese white ; 17.8 x 25.9 cm.
  • inscribed below image in pen and pencil: The Army of the Potomac – Execution of 5 conscripts five deserters in the 5th corps for desertion/ [sketched] by Mr A R Waud.
  • Inscribed upper left: half this sketch missing.
  • Library of Congress image.

Bottom image:

    • Execution of five deserters from the 118th Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1st Division, 5th Corps, before the entire 5th Corps, Beverly Ford, Va.; drawn by Edwin Forbes.
    • “The fatal volley” on mount.
    • Library of Congress image.

IMPORTANT ARREST.; Hon. Clement L. Vallandigham Apprehended —The Fire Bells at Dayton Rung, and an Attempt Made to Rescue Him. —RIOTING BY A DISLOYAL MOB.

CINCINNATI, Tuesday, May 5.  (NY Times)

Hon. CLEMENT L. VALLANDIGHAM was arrested at his residence at Dayton, Ohio, this morning, by a detachment of soldiers, who went up from Cincinnati by a special train last night.

The soldiers were obliged to batter down two or three doors of his house before they could reach his room and take him.

His friends rang the fire-bells and called out the people, when an attempt was made to rescue him, but it failed.

He was brought to this city.

CINCINNATI, Tuesday, May 5 — P.M.

A disloyal mob has cut all the telegraph wires in Dayton, and set the Journal office on fire. It is feared that the Philips house will be fired. The telegraph office has been closed, for fear of being gutted by the rioters.

arrest of Vallandigham


Arrest of Vallandigham from May 23, 1863 issue of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.


The War on The Mississippi – Sudden and Daring Attack by Rebel Guerillas, Led by Capt. Talbot, on the Sugar Steamer Empire Parish, At the Landing 44 Miles Below Baton Rouge (Published January 31, 1863 in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper from a sketch by Mr. F. H. Schell)


From the New York Times of January 3, 1863: “News has just reached us, that while the Empire Parish steamer was loading sugar yesterday (Monday) at noon, at Meringo Plantation, on the right bank of the river, four miles below Baton Rouge, a party of 120 guerrillas, under command of Capt. TALBOT, came down and demanded the surrender of the boat. Capt. BOUCHENAU refused, upon which they commenced firing, killing the Assistant Engineer, C. MCGILL, and wounding four, among others, W.J. REID, of New-Orleans, the agent of the boat. The guerrillas then went down to the plantation of Mr. N. LANDRY and rolled down the bank into the river some 80 hogsheads of sugar. They also captured three negroes, nine mules and three carts, and then departed; the Empire Parish at the same time backing out and saving herself down the river.”

On New-Year’s Day, when everybody was making the compliments of the season, Messrs MASON and SLIDELL were quietly conveyed from Fort Warren and placed on board the British war-steamer Rinaldo, which forthwith put to sea; and if the hurricane which blew the whole night did not send DAVIS’ “ambassadors” to Davy’s locker, they are now on the fair way of completing the voyage which Captain WILKES cut short six weeks ago. It having been decided in the great Council of Trent, that England has a right to the two worthies, the corpora delictorum have been cheerfully yielded up by the Government; and as the “mob,” that dreadful creation of the London Times’ fancy, which it was predicted would sooner see the country smashed than the prisoners given up, has not interposed any obstacle, but, on the contrary, has shown itself most languidly indifferent to their taking off, the strange episode in the history of the times with which the names of MASON and SLIDELL are connected, may be considered as ended.

It is curious to contrast the intense excitement caused by the news of the arrest of the rebel “Ambassadors” with the perfect indifference felt at the announcement of their departure. But there is nothing illogical in the two sentiments. The whole country rejoiced at the arrest of two notorious rebels who had been engaged in plotting their country’s ruin, and were going abroad the more effectually to carry on the work. But it was presently seen that their arrest, on board an English vessel, was an act which concerned England as well as ourselves. Accordingly, with that inquisitive temper that marks the American mind, the whole North organized itself into a vast Court of Inquiry and a thousand Presses canvassed the case in all its bearings in view of International Law. It may be that, under the first excitement of the capture, we were somewhat forgetful of our traditional American policy in the matter of neutral rights, and this led us to look too exclusively into British principles and precedents. But as time passed, and the case opened up more fully, a recollection of our larger and more permanent interests in the great question, and how they would be jeopardized should we insist on justifying the arrest, added to a growing conviction of what Mr. SEWARD has called the “comparative insignificance of the individuals concerned,” operated a marked change in the views of the thoughtful; so that when the policy of the Government was announced, it found the public in a great measure prepared to acquiesce in their decision for the surrender of the prisoners. And if an imperfect appreciation of all the motives that prompted the Administration to take the step it did, left with some a sense of humiliation, it has already wholly disappeared under the influence of Secretary SEWARD’s admirable logic.

The result is that nobody feels the slightest interest in the two wretched traitors, of whom the country is now happily rid. In fact, the more personalities of MASON and SLIDELL have become so overslaughed by theoretic questions of International Law, that a good many people have begun to regard them as a good deal of a myth.

November 6, 1860

It is universally conceded that the vote of New-York to-day decides the Presidential question. Every other Northern State is surrendered to LINCOLN. The great West will pronounce for him by enormous majorities. No one has a moment’s doubt about any NewEngland State, and the vote of last month rendered it absolutely certain that Pennsylvania will vote for him by at least 30,000 majority. The decision of the question, therefore, rests with New-York; — and so certain is the vote of the whole interior, that nothing less than forty or fifty thousand against him in the City can cast a shadow of doubt on the result in the State at large.

The most remarkable feature of the canvass has been the fact that the Republicans are the only organized party in the field. Theirs is the only platform of principles and the only candidate for which any citizen has a chance to vote. The Opposition to LINCOLN are united upon no candidate, nor do they agree upon any political principle. No man can tell what would follow their success, — what principles would come into the ascendant, — what man would take the guidance of public affairs. Indeed the only result of electing the Fusion ticket would be to throw everything into greater confusion than ever. Instead of ending the Presidential contest it would only be just commenced. The agitation throughout the country would be greater, more violent and more ruinous to business than ever before, and we might look forward to a Winter of political turmoil, business stagnation and commercial disaster. Business men in this City begin to see this tendency and dread the result. If the defeat of LINCOLN would end the contest, or put the matter in the way of a peaceful solution; — if it would elect anybody else or settle the principles and policy of the Administration, there would be some show of excuse for pressing it with so much zeal. But no such result is anticipated, or even claimed by his opponents.

The simple truth is, the political parties — and especially the Douglas Democrats, — have been made to play a purely subordinate part in this whole Fusion movement. The active leaders of the whole crusade have been a firm of dry goods merchants in this City, — who have cared far more about advertising their business at the South than about saving the Union or defeating LINCOLN. And the expiring faction of Know-Nothings, and the ultra Pro-Slavery Hards, saw at the outset that their only chance of salvation lay in fastening themselves upon the Democratic Party and being kept from utter extinction by its strength. If the Douglas Democrats had run a ticket of their own, with their own candate and upon their own platform, they would have had at least 20,000 more votes than the Fusion ticket will get, and would have held the organization, the strength and the prestige of the party after the contest was over. As it is, even if the Fusion ticket should succeed, half the victory inures to their copartners, and they themselves become powerless. For the Douglas Democrats, Fusion is the gravest mistake a political party ever committed.

The attitude of the Republican Party is eminently national and conservative, — and its success will do more to suppress the sectional agitation of the Slavery question than any other result. It seeks no interference with Slavery, — but aims only to check its increase. Its candidate is an eminently just, upright and conservative statesman, — pledged by his opinions, his declarations and his life against any invasion of Southern rights and any denial of Southern justice. The whole country has confidence in his honor and his fidelity to the Constitution; — and that confidence will not be misplaced or betrayed.

November 5, 1860

Senator SEWARD, in his speech on Friday night, declared the whole aim and duty of the Republican Party to be to leave Slavery just where it is. They do not seek to abolish or disturb it; but they do propose to prevent its extension or increase. It is not easy to see what objection any rational man can make to such a policy. The whole disturbance which prevails through the country has been caused by the efforts of the South to increase Slavery. They have pursued this policy steadily for some years past, covering its purpose by charging its opponents with designing to interfere with it where it now exists.

Senator SEWARD’s declaration on this point ought to have weight with candid and fair-minded men. He has always been regarded as among the most advanced of the Anti-Slavery Republicans. If any one had designs upon Slavery in the South, he was supposed to be the man. But his disclaimer on this point is direct and complete. All he aims at is to have Slavery left where it is, – and this is all the Republican Party proposes to do about it.

The Charleston Mercury not long ago declared that the success of the Republican Party would put an end to the slavery agitation as a sectional question. “It will cease to be a contest between the North and South,” said the Mercury, and will be transferred to the Southern States.” Is not that precisely where it belongs? Has it not been a standing reproach for years that we were meddling with a subject which did not concern us, – that we were stirring up a sectional agitation, – that the question of Slavery belonged exclusively to the South, and should be left for the South to manage? Yet this is precisely the result which the Charleston Mercury dreads and deprecates as the result of a Republican victory.

We venture the prediction that, in less than one year after the incoming of a Republican Administration, that party will be generally recognized as the most truly national and conservative party in the Union. It proposes the settlement of the Slavery question on the only possible basis, – that of checking the increase of the evil, and leaving it to the operation of natural causes and the laws of social economy.

November 5, 1860

A warrant was issued yesterday by Justice QUACKENBUSH for the arrest of GEORGE K. COOKE, the Democratic member of the Board of Registry for the Eighth District of the Fifteenth Ward, on a charge of having violated the Registry law. An affidavit has been made to the effect that COOKE, while acting as Registrar on the 17th ult., caused his name to be placed on the list of voters for that District, giving No. 308 Bowery as his place of residence. It was subsequently ascertained, however, that he resided at No 373 Fourth-street, which is not in the Eighth District, and that he had also been to the registering-place of the Ninth District, of the same Ward, and had his name registered there. NAPOLEON B. HOBBS, a clerk for LORD & TAYLOR, is also charged with an offence similar to the one of which COOK is accused. On the 30th inst. he caused his name to be registered as a legal voter in the Eighth District of the Fifteenth Ward, and went off boasting that he should vote for “The Union, the Constitution, and the enforcement of the laws.” As, however, he had not lived in this State one year, having come here from Baltimore, Md., in March last, he was unqualified for voting at all, and his arrest was effected on the ground that he had willfully violated the law. Justice QUACKENBUSH required him to funish bail in $500 to answer. The penalty, upon conviction of the offences charged, is not less than one year’s imprisonment in the State Prison.

New York Times, November 2, 1860

Correspondence of the Louisville Democrat.

LAMAR Co., Texas, Sept., 1860.

Seeing that the many Rumors and reports which were circulated through our State a few months since, as to Abolition emissaries, insurrections, etc., are being published and accredited by many of the papers in the older States, I desire, through the columns of your paper, to say to my friends in Kentucky, and to the public generally, that all such rumors are altogether unfounded. It is true, that during the exceedingly hot and dry weather of the past Summer, there were many destructive fires in the State of Texas. The town of Henderson was nearly destroyed – that of Dallas greatly damaged, and some houses burned in other towns in different parts of the State. But the origin of these fires, as far as yet ascertained, was either from the ignition of matches or some other accidental cause. I have not been able to learn of a single instance in which there was the slightest evidence that it was the work of an Abolition emissary – in fact, I don’t believe there is one in the State, though there are some characters nearly as bad.

As to the reports that poison had been found in the possession of negroes in various and sundry parts of the country, and in wells, &c., they are all false, as far as I have been able to learn. I have not met with a single man who knows of an authenticated instance. Yet these reports were published by all the papers in the State, and accredited by many, and the people in many parts were excited almost to desperation. Who originated these reports, and for what purpose, are the questions that have perplexed the good citizens of our State for some time past. Such reports are certainly calculated to injure the State, and keep away such emigrants as desire to come. Why, then, should the people of Texas circulate and give credit to them?

It is the opinion of many of our best citizens, after mature deliberation and thorough investigation of the subject, that these reports had their origin in the minds of scheming politicians, and are a part of that great plan concocted and being put in execution to “nerve the Southern arm and excite the Southern mind, preparatory to precipitating the cotton States into a revolution.” R.B.D.

Conditions of Affairs at the Navy-Yards.

Matters at the different Navy-Yards, notwithstanding the number of vessels ordered for sea, are comparatively dull. This arises from the small appropriations made by Congress for purely yard work. At New-York, (the sum granted for which was $20,000,) there is hardly anything doing except on ships. The launching-ways are receiving a few finishing touches, a sewer is being sunk, and a small shot-rack is building behind the marine barracks. The Vandalia occupies a large gang, and so does the Wabash, which is still in dock. The Roanoke, North Carolina, Perry, Brandywine and Potomac are in statu quo.

At Boston the Mississippi is in hands, and will be reported ready for further orders in a few weeks. The Colorado is in a state of thorough readiness for sea-going preparations; the Minnesota is nearly in the same state; the Franklin takes up her old quarters, waiting the “conversion” process, and the Ohio and Virginia remain as they have been for years. There is little other than ship work going on at the premises. The Boston appropriation was $15,000.

Philadelphia is not remarkably dull, owing to the variety of things to be done for the corvettes Jamestown and Saratoga. There are about 400 men employed in the Yard, and the disbursements for labor do not probably exceed $30,000 monthly. The St. Lawrence frigate, flagship of the Brazil squadron in 1857-8-9; and the steamer Princeton, are the other craft in the stream. Philadelphia got $15,000 also for the year’s yard expenses.

At Norfolk, since the departure of the Richmond, the Pensacola and Germantown afford work for a fair force. The Merrimack steamer, line-of-battle-ships Columbus, New-York, (not launched,) Pennsylvania, Delaware, frigates Raritan and Columbia are in ordinary. The Norfolk yard has $69,000 to dispose of in the twelve months ending next July.

At Portsmouth there is little doing, and little funds to do it with. The corvette Cumberland is in commission, and will leave for New-York in a few days. The Santee is on the stocks. $10,000 was considered a sufficient sum for Portsmouth. The sloops Macedonian and Marion, recently returned from sea, are in the river.

At Washington the machinery of the Pensacola is the chief business going on. The removal of the Naval Monument occupied the hands of the Yard for a short time recently. The $17,000 given for work at the Washington Station would seem too liberal.

The laborers at Pensacola are mostly idle. The Fulton is the only vessel likely to give them anything to do, $10,000 were laid aside for this Yard. At Sackett’s Harbor and Mare Island nothing of interest is going on.

The Washington correspondent of an “enterprising” cotemporary says that our account of the doings of the Naval Board, showing that almost without exception none but line-of-battle ships would be recommended for conversion into steamers, was unfounded. When the official report appears “Jenkins” will find that he is mistaken.