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

Post image for The Trent Affair: Seward’s Dispatch to Lord Russell—William Howard Russell’s Diary.

The Trent Affair: Seward’s Dispatch to Lord Russell—William Howard Russell’s Diary.

December 27, 2011

My Diary North and South - William Howard Russell,The American Civil War

December 27th.—This morning Mr. Seward sent in his reply to Lord Russell’s despatch—”grandis et verbosa epistola.” The result destroys my prophecies, for, after all, the Southern Commissioners or Ambassadors are to be given up. Yesterday, indeed, in an under-current of whispers among the desponding friends of the South, there went a rumour that the Government had resolved to yield. What a collapse! What a bitter mortification! I had scarcely finished the perusal of an article in a Washington paper,—which, let it be understood, is an organ of Mr. Lincoln, —stating that “Mason and Slidell would not be surrendered, and assuring the people they need entertain no apprehension of such a dishonourable concession,” when I learned beyond all possibility of doubt, that Mr. Seward had handed in his despatch, placing the Commissioners at the disposal of the British Minister. A copy of the despatch will be published in the National Intelligencer to-morrow morning at an early hour, in time to go to Europe by the steamer which leaves New York.

After dinner, those who were in the secret were amused by hearing the arguments which were started between one or two Americans and some English in the company, in consequence of a positive statement from a gentleman who came in, that Mason and Slidell had been surrendered. I have resolved to go to Boston, being satisfied that a great popular excitement and uprising will, in all probability, take place on the discharge of the Commissioners from Fort Warren. What will my friend, the general, say, who told me yesterday “he would snap his sword, and throw the pieces into the White House, if they were given up?”

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