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

The Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress

August 6.—Eight sutlers’ wagons, returning from the front, were captured by Mosby’s rebel guerrillas, at a point between Washington, D. C., and Fairfax Court-House, Va.—Thanksgivings was celebrated throughout the loyal States; business was generally suspended and religious exercises were held in the various churches.—At Richmond, Va., “enough of companies composed of youths below the conscript age will speedily be formed to take the place of veteran troops now doing guard-duty in Richmond.

“Captain Figner is enrolling a company of youth between the ages of fifteen and eighteen for Major Munford’s battalion, and they are specially designed to take the place of a North-Carolina company stationed here. The enrolling quarters of the company are corner of Third and Broad streets. Only a few more youths are wanted to complete the organization.”—Richmond Examiner.

—A disturbance between a party of secessionists and the National soldiers stationed at the place, occurred at Visalia, a town in Tulare County, California, during which one soldier was killed and several secessionists wounded.—The ship Francis B. Cutting was captured and bonded, in latitude 41° 10′, longitude 44° 20′, by the rebel privateer Florida.

From Frederick L. Olmstead to Preston King, July 9, 1862

Office of the Sanitary Commission,

Army of the Potomac, Berkely,

James River, July 9th 1862.

My Dear Sir,

As one of your constituents, observing this army from a peculiar point of view, may I tell you what I think of the duty of government to it?

If it remains here, the usual dangers of crowded encampments in a hot and malarious climate being aggravated by dissapointment, idleness and home-sickness from hope of home hopelessly deferred, it will loose half its value. And its value as an army, culled by hardship and disease, of its maker constituents, and disciplined and trained by three months’ advance in the face of a strong, vigilant, watchful wiley and vindictive enemy, is at the present market price of soldiers fully equal to its enormous cost. By one means or another government must save and use it. To this end the Army of the Potomac should be withdrawn, at once, entirely from James river or it should be so rapidly and constantly strengthened that the men will have the utmost confidence that within a month at furthest, they will able to advance on Richmond with certainty of success.1 For this purpose 50.000 men in regiments already disciplined should be transferred here from localities where they can be which can be abandoned, where they can be dispensed with, or where raw regiments will be able to safely supply their place, and thirty thousand men should be added to the regiments already here and greatly reduced in number force by losses in battle.

The latter should be carefully inspected sturdy re conscripts.

Conscription would greatly hasten volunteering.2 It would force a large class of men to serve the country in the only way they can be effectually made to do so. It would not withdraw men from their usual pursuits who are of more value to the community in those pursuits than they would be in the ranks, because the measure of their value is their earnings and these must be sufficient to enable them to enter successfully into competition with government in offerring premiums for volunteers — as substitutes.

Thirty thousand fresh men, each placed between two veteran volunteers, three weeks hence, would add greatly to its strength and diminish but imperceptibly its mobility and efficiency. They would be welcomed by the old volunteers because they would bring to each regiment so much relief from in guard and fatigue duties.

The cheif objection to conscription will be the supposed appearance of weakness which it will exhibit to foreign powers. Does not hesitation to adopt conscription at a crisis like this, illustrate and demonstrate an essential weakness in our form of government for purposes of war, which already is overestimated, and much to our damage and danger abroad?

Will it be wholly unpopular? It will convince the people that their government is in downright earnest in its purpose to overcome the rebellion whatever it costs, and that it realizes the fact — spite of the vain-glorious boastings of its newspapers, its orators and its generals — that this is not to be accomplished by ordinary small politicians’ small politics, nor without a sacrifice which every citizen, patriotic or otherwise must have a part in. Whatever does this, in my judgment, will be popular.

Yours most respectfully,

Fred. Law Olmsted.

[Note 1 The Army of the Potomac was withdrawn from its James River encampments early in August to reinforce John Pope for the ongoing Second Bull Run campaign.]

[Note 2 Congress did not pass the Enrollment Act, establishing a draft, until March 3, 1863.]

From Ulysses Doubleday to John G. Nicolay1

Bank of North America

New York Nov 18. 1860

Dear Sir.

Since I last wrote, enclosing letters from my brother, I have received many others from him, which, coupled with other information in my possession, left no doubt in my mind of the complicity of the President with the designs of the secessionists. I took my proofs, when the election was over, to the editor of the Evening Post, in which a series of articles has been commenced, exposing Mr. Buchanan’s treason, with the hope that the publicity thus given to it, may force him to do at least part of his duty. These articles have been brought to Mr. B’s personal notice, and both he and Secretary Floyd2 have denied their truth. As they are true, this looks as if they were becoming frightened, and the superseding of Col. Gardner,³ an avowed secessionist, by Maj. Anderson4 a loyal Kentuckian, seems still further to confirm this idea. My brother writes that a settled determination to have the forts, as a necessity of their positions, is evinced by the South Carolinians, who begin to ask why the President does not keep his promise to withdraw the troops. I think he is afraid, and, by directing public attention to these disclosures, hope to force him to send more troops. This would greatly simplify Mr Lincoln’s position after the 4th of March. The present aspect of financial affairs here, though gloomy, is not nearly so bad as in 1857. The simple fact that our exports largely exceed our imports is a proof that in a very short time gold must flow this way from Europe in large amounts. I look to a decided and permanent improvement in less than thirty days. I do not expect any answer to this letter.

Respy Yours

U. Doubleday


Note 1 — Ulysses Doubleday was the brother of Abner Doubleday, a captain in the U. S. Army who was stationed at Charleston Harbor. Ulysses Doubleday sent copies of his brother’s letters to Lincoln.

Note 2 — John B. Floyd

Note 3 — Lieutenant Colonel John L. Gardner commanded the U. S. forces at Charleston Harbor until he was replaced by Major Robert Anderson in November 1860.

Note 4 —Robert Anderson

City of New York.
Astor House, Oct 28, 1860

Dear Sir:

John D. DefreesI am here on business, but shall be at home in a few days.

Inclosed I send you a letter written by me and the comments upon it by the Herald of this city. In its endeavor to make something out of it the Herald assigns to me the position of a “confidential friend” to you.– There is nothing in the letter intimating that such a relation exists between us, and, certainly, no act or word of mine, on any occasion, could give rise to such an impression. I write you this for fear that you might, possibly, think I had said or done something to create such an impression, trusting believing, at the same time, that your acquaintance with me is sufficient to answer you that I could not stoop to an such an act.

The letter itself is but a plain statement of the “Republican Gospel” as I understand it; and, I think it will meet the approval of the Bishops of our Church everywhere!

You notice that Cobb1 and others have been here to try to create a panic among the money capitalists so as to affect the election in this State! It will give us strength instead of weakness. Our majority in this State will be over 80.000! In Pennsylvania it will be over 50.000! Our State will be over 20.000. In short we will have all the free States except possibly California.

I saw Wigfall,2 Senator from Texas, yesterday. He said that S. Carolina, Alabama & Mississippi would be out of the Union in less than 30 days! He is as rabid as a lunatic. They will cool off before the 4th of March next.

Yours truly,

Jno. D. Defrees


¹ Howell Cobb, a prominent Georgia politician, was a member of the U.S. House of Representaives (1845-51, 1855-57), governor of his state (1853-55) and Secretary of the Treasury in James Buchanan’s cabinet (1857-60). Though he favored sectional compromise and the preservation of the Union during the 1850s, Cobb became an advocate of secession after Lincoln’s election and resigned from his cabinet post a few days after issuing a public letter in which he urged secession. Cobb helped organize the Confederate government and served in the Confederate army, where he rose to the rank of major general.

² Louis Wigfall had been an advocate of secession since 1844 and moved from his native South Carolina to Texas in 1848. Wigfall was active in state politics and elected to the U.S. Senate in 1859, where he advocated a federal slave code for the territories and supported Breckinridge in the 1860 presidential campaign. During the Civil War, Wigfall attained the rank of brigadier general in the Confederate army and served in the Confederate Senate.

Copy of letter advising Lincoln how to handle sectional crisis

Washington 18th Oct 1860

My dear Sir

I address you on what I consider a very important subject — and beg your careful attention, even at the expense of a little time and trouble in decyphering my hieroglyphics.

There is no shadow of a doubt but the Union is in a critical a very critical situation, owing to the excitement of general disunion feeling at the South, and particularly in South Carolina & Georgia where the disunionist are completely in full power, having the whole State government in their possession, & perfectly able and willing to precipitate matters by overt acts from which they will not indeed could not undo & which they will carry into effect in case Mr Lincoln is elected & which can only be prevented by some change in public opinion there & by showing to the people the utter absurdity, and injurious effects of such a proceeding

Mr Lincoln was nominated as a conservative man & because he was conservative, & Mr Seward was thrown overboard because he was too ultra Mr L is a perfectly safe man for the South & so they would find him if they would only remain quiet under him, & in three months he would be highly popular at the South. But even were it otherwise how ridiculous would are these pretended fears when it is recollected that the Senate will be in opposition, that the House is already anti-republican, under the recent State elections & will be more so from the elections yet to take place, which will probably give an anti-republican majority, — in the House, of from 20 to 30 The Supreme Court is in opposition to any anti-slavery movement — all the officers at the South — Marshalls — District Attornies, Collectors Post-masters &c will be southern men, & on the top of all, even if Mr Lincoln is elected, he will be chosen against the votes of 2 two thirds of the people of the United States — for two-fifths of the votes are of the South — all of which are against him &, of the three fifths in the free States, one half, or nearly so, are in opposition to him; but by our system of choosing by electoral colleges, with only one third of the votes in of the whole Union in his favor, he will still be elected, as in the case of Mr Fillmore who received 900,000 votes, & yet only had eight electoral votes

Now, even admitting Mr Lincoln was ultra in his slavery views, what harm could he do to the South, under the above state of the case, as he would be in irons & double irons, with the Legislature & Judiciary branches of & two-thirds of the entire population dead opposed to him, & checking every movement. If he was a Garrison or a Wendell Phillips, he could not do any harm, and it is therefore doubly absurd, when Mr L instead of being an ultra is highly conservative & would be a perfectly safe man for the South, even if he had both Houses of Congress and a majority of the whole people in his favor & support– The fact, however, is patent and cannot be denied, that a disunion movement is intended & will be essayed and it will require the utmost discretion & judgment on the part of Mr L in its management & suppression — for a false step on his part, or the shedding of one drop of blood & the whole South would be in flames & beyond all control

With this long preamble, let me now come to the gist of my letter, which is that you will make it a point, to visit Mr Lincoln in person, & without delay & urge upon him the necessity, the moment he ascertains that he is elected, which will be in 48 hours after the day of election, to issue an address to his Southern fellow-citizens, stating his intended course in conducting public affairs — & putting his conservative views in the strongest posible light, disavowing the ultra sentiments which some of his stump speakers & Republican Journals have put forward all of which are being constantly reproduced at the South, & announcing, as he has on former occasions done, that he will enforce the fugitive slave law, — is opposed to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia — is not opposed to the sale & migration of slaves between the States — nor to the admission of more States with slavery in their constitutions — that he will, particularly in his Cabinet, give a full share of the appointments to the South & all of them, in Southern States, to Southern men, & put everything as regards slavery on a footing that will be — at least ought to be, satisfactory to the South — which I am convinced he is willing to do, & intends to do.

Now, my dear Sir, you cannot render a more valuable service to your Country, than by taking this matter in hand promptly & zealously, & going at once to Mr L, & urging it on him to prepare the address at once & in proper language. I neither know Mr L nor he me, & probably he has never heard my name. It would be useless therefore for me to address him, but he [armed?] that danger is imminent, & I hear & see more & from various quarters here than you possibly can. I know there is a good deal of the brag game in it at the South but there is also quite too much of the reality. It is beginning to be realized in our large cities, for in New York & Philadelphia it has already paralized real estate, of which no sales can be made, & here it is still worse, where the value of real estate is actually affected 25 to 33 per cent This Union once dissolved by the permanent secession of even one State could no more ever again be re-united — than could a glass vase which had been dashed to pieces on a stone pavement. To the South, a dissolution would be the knell of slavery; but you cannot persuade them to that. But I understand it is already affecting the value of slaves there, & if they only once realize that, it will do more to suppress disunion than the most labored arguments

The enclosed slip gives you a true view of the state of feeling at the South. I have seen similar letters & talked with cool Union loving men from that quarter, all using the same language & expressing their great regret at the state of feeling existing there

All, to whom I have suggested the plan of an address from Mr Lincoln, highly approve of it. It would greatly strengthen the hands of the Union men at the South, & would tend to check any precipitate movement — would calm the timid men there, who think Mr Lincoln intends to liberate all their slaves — & be a check & a curb on the reckless & fool-hardy.

I was recently in New York where I found the moderate & leading Republicans censuring Mr Seward for the ultra speeches he has recently been making, & in reply to my question to one of his personal friends & a very distinguished politician of the Republican party — what was Mr Seward’s motive, he promptly replied “to embarrass & injure Lincoln” — & expressed his high dissatisfaction at Mr Seward’s course. He has done great mischief at the South by those speeches & I have no doubt his friend truly appreciated his motive–

I am pleased to see that you have again consented to run & have been successful

Very truly

(signed) Wm L Hodge

Cleveland O. Oct. 17, 1860

Honble Abraham Lincoln


Dr. Sir

I send you the Cleveland Leader of Sep. 28 1859 containing a letter over my signature addressed to S. A Douglas and Judge Ranney, the latter of whom of this city was the Dem. candidate for our Governorship last fall. I considered their quotations made in public speeches from the Constitution that it and the laws passed in pursuance thereof by Congress shall be the Supreme law of the land, in the application of both the Constitution and the act of Congress, relative to the ordinance of 1787. The proprietor and Editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer a warm advocate of Douglas remarked to a friend of mine soon after reading this letter that Douglas was “demolished.”

I have taken a deep interest in the Ordinance and last winter prepared a lengthy memorial of myself to our Legislature to get laws passed in accordance with that great instrument. In that memorial of 35 pages I recited chronologically and numerically the acts of Congress from 1789 to 1859, thirty five instances, approved by the several administrations, where the ordinance is quoted in organising new Territories, and passing enabling acts and admission of new States. I urged to have the Petition printed that the historical facts touching the ordinance and the Acts of Congress might have wider dissemination, but the committee reported adverse to printing. I recited from the Dred Scott decision some passages of Taney’s opinion fully endorsing the obligations of the ordinance, and in which he recited from the Constitution that “all debts, contracts, and engagements entered into before the adoption of this Constitution shall be as valid” &c I quoted also from Justice Catron in the same decision as to the binding ” engagement” of the Ordinance unter the 6th Art. of the Constitution and the act of Congress Augt. 7. 1789.–

In my investigations I found that the Ordinance by virtue of Acts of Congress is as binding in Dacotah as it ever was here — and this by an unbroken chain of title. In the act annexing to Michigan Territory the country west of the Mississippi embracing Iowa, Minnesota and Dacotah, the remainder of Minnesota Territory, the same rights and laws are granted and imposed as had always prevailed from the beginning in the N. W. Territory. This fact was entirely new to our ablest jurists and leading republicans. When early last session a bill originated in the Senate to organise the Ty. of Dacotah I related these things to some members in my communications in which I suggested to have inserted in the bill the same rights and laws to continue in Dacotah as had prevailed there at the erection of of the State of Minnesota — then would we still continue the force of the ordinance there. Douglas evaded any recitations from the Ordinance in the act admitting Minnesota — yet the chain of title is perfect as to Dacotah. But congressional action as to Territories was blocked–

There is another point of great force to my mind which this investigation developed and that was, that Dred Scott should have been declared free by the operation of the Ordinance at Ft. Snelling under several Acts of Congress. This was a point not raised by counsel and not referred to by the court save a short sentence of Justice Curtis in the last paragraph but two of his opinion. The U. S. Supreme Court say that the Supreme Court of Missouri was not bound in comity to regard slave prohibition of Illinois constitution and so Dred’s residence at Rock Island availed nothing — but at Ft. Snelling he was in a Territory of the U. S. where by act of Congress slavery was prohibited — as above detailed, independent of the restrictions in the Louisiana Purchase–

Do I presume too much in presenting these matters to your discriminating mind?

Things are becoming more hopeful– The Republicans in unison with a Wide Awake demonstration here last night were very enthusiastic in a time of rejoicing, speeches, bonfires and illuminations.

May a kind Providence long spare your life.

With great respect

Yr Ob Svt

A. Penfield

P. S. I send also a copy of the Cleveland Herald of Oct. 4th containing “Wm. H. Seward’s tour in the old N. W. Territory”. You see I am full of the ordinance, and I am pleased to observe that the Republican Central Committee of Ohio in their late congratulatory address refer to the ordinance.

A. P.