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2016 April 1-15: Free Access to Fold3’s Civil War Collection

April 4, 2016

In honor of Confederate History Month access the Civil War Collection Free



Access the Civil War Collection

Gun squad at drill From April 1–15, 2016, Fold3 will be allowing free access to their Civil War collection to remember the commencement of the Civil War and commemorate Confederate History Month.

With more than 85 million records, Fold3’s Civil War collection provides a wealth of information for both ancestral and historical research. Explore Civil War soldier records, photographs, original war maps, widows’ pension files, court investigations, slave records, Lincoln records, and more.

The collection includes dozens of titles pertaining to the Union and Confederacy, such as:

Join Fold3 during the month of April in paying tribute to those who fought in the bloody war—both North and South—and discover information about famous participants as well as your own Civil War ancestors through documents, photos, and images that capture the experiences of those involved in America’s deadliest conflict. Then commemorate your ancestors by creating or expanding Memorial Pages for them on Fold3’s Honor Wall.

Visit Fold3’s Civil War page for more detailed overview of the collection. Or get started searching or browsing the Civil War collection here.


Our Blog in 2015

January 1, 2016

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for our blog.  As the Civil War has wound down, so has our blog viewership, which fell by 1% since last year.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 24,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

1865 December 7: ThanksgivingDay–“Peace again smiles upon us”

November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Day was supposedly set as the last Thursday in November by President Abraham Lincoln in his 1863 proclamation, but in 1865 President Andrew Johnson declared December 7 as the National Day of Thanksgiving.  Wisconsin Governor James T. Lewis had issued a proclamation declaring November 30th, but then changed the date when President Johnson issued his proclamation.

As has been our custom, we include the Thanksgiving artwork—1865’s by famed illustrator Thomas Nast—from Harper’s Weekly.

From The Polk County Press of November 29, 1865:

Finger002  Gov. Lewis has changed the day for thanksgiving from November 30th to December 7, the day appointed by the President.

From The Prescott Journal of November 11, 1865:

Proclamation for Thanksgiving.

MADISON, Oct. 28.—Governor Lewis to-day issued the following proclamation :


Peace again smiles upon us.  The work of death has ceased.  The authority of the government has been fully established, and traitors who once defied it, now bow in humble submission.  The accursed institution of African Slavery has perished.  The Union established by our fathers, cemented anew by the blood of their patriot sons, sends forth a brighter and a purer light to the oppressed of other nations.

The people of our State have enjoyed the blessings of health and prosperity and the privileges of education and divine worship.  Our territory has not been polluted by the tread of the invader, our substance has been preserved.

For these and the many other favors and blessings which our Heavenly Father in His goodness has vouchsafed to us in providing for our wants and guarding us from danger, we should thank and praise Him.  While we enjoy the gift let us not forget the Giver.

Feeling that we should express our gratitude and thankfulness for all these blessings and favors, I, James T. Lewis, Governor of the State of Wisconsin in accordance with a time-honored, custom, do here appoint

THURSDAY, the 30th Day of NOV., A. D. 1865,

a day of THANKSGIVING, PRAYER and PRAISE to ALMIGHTY GOD, and do recommend to the people that they meet on that day, in their usual places of worship, and

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow,”¹

thank Him for His goodness towards us during the year that has passed, and ask for the continuence [sic] of his favors and blessing.

Given under my hand and the seal of the State in the Executive Chamber at Madison,
[L. S.]    this 28th day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred
.             .and sixty-five.


By the Governor,



By the President of the United States of America :

WHEREAS,  It has pleased Almighty God, during the year which is now coming to an end, to relieve our beloved country from the fearful scourge of civil war, and to permit us to secure the blessings of peace, unity, and harmony, with a great enlargement of civil liberty;

AND WHEREAS, Our Heavenly Father has also, during the year, graciously averted from us the calamities of foreign war, pestilence, and famine, while our granaries are full of the fruits of an abundant season;

AND WHEREAS, Righteousness exalts a nation, while sin is a reproach to any people;

Now, Therefore, I, Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, do hereby recommend to the people thereof that they do set apart and observe the First Thursday of December as a day of National Thanksgiving to the Creator of the universe for these deliverances and blessings; and I do further recommend that on that occasion the whole people make confession of our national sins against His infinite goodness, and with one heart and one mind implore the Divine guidance in the ways of national virtue and holiness.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this 28th day of October, in the year of our Lord 1865, and of the Independence of the United States the 90th.

[Signed.]                                    ANDREW JOHNSON.

By the President :
. .WM. H. SEWARD, Sec’y of State.


Thanksgiving 1865 Harpers

“We Thank Thee O God Our Heavenly Father!” is the caption on the main image from “Harper’s Weekly”²

1.  The first line from the doxology known as “Old One Hundreth” or simply Old Hundred.²
2.  From the December 9, 1865, issue of Harper’s Weekly. The University of Wisconsin-River Falls’ Chalmer Davee Library has microfilm copies of Harper’s Weekly for 1858-1865 (UWRF online catalog).

1865 November 11: Telegraphic Summary

November 19, 2015

The following article comes from The Prescott Journal of November 11, 1865.

Telegraphic Summary.

It is reiterated that Caleb Cushing’s mission to England is in connection with our claims for damages in the cases of the Anglo-rebel pirates; and Mr. C., it is stated, is preparing an elaborate argument on the subject.

Governor Stone’s majority, in all but eight counties of Iowa, is 15,942.

Brigadier General John Cook has been promoted a Major General.

The payment of bounties to colored soldiers who were slaves at the time of their enlistment has been suspended for the present, the Secretary of War holding that the law on the subject as it stands at present, does not warrant such payment.

Since the close of the rebellion, thirty-five new national banks have been organized in the southern state, with an aggregated capital stock of $4,474,400, distributed among the states as follows; Virginia, sixteen banks, capital stock $1,600,000; Tennessee, seven banks, capital stock $1,000,000; North Carolina, two banks, capital stock $100,000; Georgia, three banks, capital stock, $800,000; Alabama three banks, capital stock $400,000; Mississippi, one bank, capital stock $50,000; Louisiana, two banks, capital stock $800,000; Texas, one bank, capital stock $200,000.

In the case of Father Cummings, tried on charge of having preached without having taken the oath of loyalty, the supreme court of Missouri has affirmed the decision of the Pike Circuit Court, amereing him in the sum of $500.

A Washington dispatch states that the President in consequence of recent grossly disloyal action in South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi will change his policy concerning those States; visit them in future with the rigors of martial law, and grant but few amnesties to citizens thereof.

Returns of the gubernatiorial vote in all districts of South Carolina give Orr a majority of 500 over Wade Hampton.  Provisional Governor Perry has been elected United States Senator for the long term.

Great Britain has removed all restrictions upon the United States war vessels in British ports, and it is understood that the British naval commander in the Pacific has been ordered to send cruisers out for the purpose of capturing the Shenandoah.

Generals Hood and Longstreat left Cincinnati for Washington Tuesday.  Gen. Breckinridge, it is reported, will proceed from Canada to Washington, at the request of the President.

In accordance with Secretary Seward’s circular, a large number of claims against foreign governments-mainly for damages sustained by the operations of the Anglo-rebel pirates-have been filed in the State Department.  Mr. Seward is preparing a reply to Earl Russell’s dispatch proposing a commission for the adjustment of certain claims.

Jeff. Davis evidently does not expect to be executed this winter, as he has ordered a new overcoat for his own wear.  A Washington dispatch to the New York Tribune estimates that Davis will escape without punishment.

The payments to the army, since the beginning of the rebellion, amount, it is said, to $1,050,000,000.

Alexander H. Stephens has signified his consent to accept the nomination for governor of Georgia.

Wisconsin has been taken from the military department of the Missouri and sided to the department of the Ohio.

The New York Herald states that Secretary Weller has issued an order directing the immediate preparation for sea of all iron clads now lying idle.

The number of vessels now in the United States naval service is 101, carrying 1,115 guns.

The President has sent a dispatch to Governor Johnson, declaring that Georgia “should not hesitate for a single moment in repudiating every dollar of the debt created for the purpose of aiding the rebellion;” and the governor has sent a message to the convention, urging strongly such repudiation.

The Mississippi House has passed, over Governor Sharkey’s veto, a bill abolishing the special court of equity established by that functionary; and it is considered certain that the bill will also pass the Senate.

Secretary McCulloch, in consequence of the scarcity of small currency, has ordered a large amount of five-cent notes to be issued.

Admiral Porter is now engaged in re-establishing the naval academy at Annapolis, Maryland.  The class of midshipmen just entering numbers one hundred and twenty-five.

Judge Gray, of Texas, has been pardoned at the request of Henry Ward Beecher.

It is rumored at Washington that the President has the case of Wirz under close advisement, “with a view to mitigate as much as possible his punishment.”  Wirz having recovered from his indisposition, his diet has been changed back to the regular army ration, a procedure which meets with his hearty disapprobation.

The Treasury Department has under consideration, a plan for funding the national debt at 5 1-2 per cent interest.

1865 October 14: Little Piece of Secret History–How the Confederates Got Lee to Join Their Side

October 16, 2015

The following article comes from The Polk County Press of October 14, 1865.

A Little Piece of Secret History.

Mr. Montgomery Blair has published in Washington a letter, from which we get at another reason for the sudden order of Jeff. Davis to Beauregard [P.G.T. Beauregard] to open on Fort Sumpter.  General, then Colonel, Lee [Robert E. Lee], it seems, was offered the command of the armies of the Union.  He hesitated.  Mr. Blair writes :

“My father¹ was authorized by the President [Abraham Lincoln] and Mr. Cameron [Simon Cameron], Secretary of War, to converse with General Lee, and ascertain whether he would accept the command of our army in the field.  The latter was written for, and he met my father at my house, where they conversed for an hour or more.  It was a few days before the ordinance was passed.  General Lee concluded the conversation by saying secession was anarchy, and, added if he owned the four million slaves in the South, he would cheerfully sacrifice them to the union ;  but he did not know how he could draw his sword on his native State.  He said he would see General Scott [Winfield Scott] on the subject before he decided.”

But he was caught up by some Virginia friends, who lay in wait for him, and he did not get to see Gen. Scott :

“A committee from the Virgina convention, while the General and my father conversed, were hunting for him through the city.  They met on his leaving the house.  He repaired with them, to consult with the convention, as I have since learned, about some mode of settlement. “

The secessionists on this committee, who were determined to have no settlement, and were also anxious to secure Lee, saw that action was necessary and telegraphed to that effect to the rebel leaders.  The result was Davis’ order to open fire on Sumter ;  and that crazy-headed old hanger-on of Calhoun [Calhoun], Edmund Ruffin, of Virgina fired the first gun.  As Lee’s Virgina confidents [sic] foresaw, he went over immediately.  General Scott and General Thomas [Thomas], who are also Virginians, did not go over to the enemies of their country.  Neither did General Philip St. George Cooke.  Neither did General John W. Davidson nor General L. P. Graham, nor General William Hays, nor General John Newton, all of whom were Virginians by birth and education.  Nor did scores of other officers of lower rank, all Virginians, and all faithful to the Union.  But Edmond Ruffin’s first gun brought down Lee—as his last gun brought down himself.

1.  Francis Preston Blair, Sr. (1791-1876) personally conveyed Lincoln’s offer to Robert E. Lee to command all the Union armies, which Lee rejected, as we see here. After Lincoln’s re-election, Blair organized the abortive Hampton Roads Conference, where peace terms were discussed with the Confederates, but no substantial issues resolved.  Francis Preston Blair, Jr., was Montgomery Blair’s brother.

1865 October 14: The 30th Wisconsin Comes Home

October 15, 2015

The following front page article comes from the October 14, 1865, issue of The Prescott Journal.

The Thirtieth.

The 30th Reg. is home.  So large a proportion of the officers and men of this Reg. went from this part of the State, that it has been watched here with more than usual interest.

No regiment in the State was made up of better material, or has more creditably discharged the duties which it was called on to perform.  So trusty was its character and so orderly its deportment that it was long kept in the State, engaged in the difficult and delicate duty of enforcing the draft.  Sent from the State into the far Indian country, it had no opportunity of winning laurels in battle, but it had much hard work, which was cheerfully done.

For considerable time past the regiment has been doing provost duty in Kentucky and has been remarkable for its efficiency, and honorable soldierly conduct.  Many of its members have been detailed to important  places, and Col. DILL has most of the time been Provost Marshal General of the State, and received high praise for the manner in which he filled that difficult position.  [Daniel J. Dill]

The boys are welcome home.  As they left bearing our warm wishes for their safe return, so now we rejoice that so many of them are spared to share in the prosperity and enjoy the peace which again blesses the land.

1865 October 14: Telegraph Summary

October 14, 2015

Once again The Prescott Journal and The Polk County Press of October 14, 1865, both have inside pages from a Milwaukee paper.  The following news summary appeared in both of our local newspapers.


Jefferson Davis was removed Monday from the casement in which he has been confined to quarters in Carroll Hall.

The State Convention of Georgia unanimously adopted an ordinance declaring the act of Secession null and void.

The veteran reserve corps will be disbanded in a few days, the regular army having been recruited sufficiently to supply its place.

General Conner [sic], commanding the expedition against the Sioux, Cheyennes, and Arraphoes, has returned to Fort Laramie.  He has fought four pitched battles with the Indians, suffering a loss of only 27, while the savages had 400 or 600 killed and a large number of wounded.  [Patrick E. Connor]

Proposals are out for a government loan of $50,000,000,—5-30’s—payment to be made in compound interest notes, treasury notes, and certificates of indebtedness.

At Paducah, recently, white soldiers attacked negro troops and killed five or six of them.

The provisional governor of Mississippi has issued a proclamation accepting a proposition from the freedmen’s bureau to transfer all negro cases to the civil courts of the State, on condition that the freedmen shall be accorded all the rights and privileges extended to whites.  Orders have been issued from the freedman’s bureau in Louisiana to a similar effect.

Chaplain Callahan,¹ of the Freedman’s [sic] Bureau in Louisiana, has been arrested by General Canby [Edward Canby], on account, among other things, of his recent arrest and trial of Judge Weems.²

The United States district court, at St. Louis, Tuesday announced that the oath prescribed by the act of Congress of January 24th, 1865, was a rule of the court ;  whereupon several attorneys who had refused to take the state constitutional oath subscribed to the federal obligation.

The President [Andrew Johnson] is said to be strongly disposed to set aside the Louisiana constitution, of 1864, and to appoint a provisional governor ;  but Gov. Wells [James M. Wells] does not meet with favor in his eyes.

The democratic State convention of Louisiana have nominated J. M. Wells for governor.

It has been decided gradually to muster out the colored troops stationed in the Northern States, including Kentucky.

Accounts from Mexico continue to be of a most contradictory character.  According to one statement, the imperialists are sweeping everything before them ;  while other statements give tidings of uninterrupted republican success.

It is believed that a large portion of the military forces congregated on the north-western frontier, will soon be withdrawn.

Major Generals Casey and Heintzelman, of the volunteer service, have been ordered to rejoin their regiments in the regular army.  The former is colonel of the 4th regiment of infantry and the latter of the 17th.  [Silas Casey, Samuel P. Heintzelman]

Dr. Gwin, and ex-Governor Clark of Missouri have been arrested and committed to Fort Jackson.³

Dr. Gwin and ex-Governor Clark, of Missouri, are on their way to Washington from New Orleans, under arrest.

An Augusta paper states that a dispatch has been received at Atlanta announcing that Alexander H. Stephens has been pardoned, and will return to his home.

A Philadelphia dispatch asserts that Gen. Grant, a few days ago, declared that our government would vindicate the Monroe doctrine ;  that Maximilian must leave Mexico ;  and that President Johnson would take open ground in the matter on the meeting of Congress.  [Ulysses S. Grant]

Gen. Slocum’s resignation has been accepted by the President.  [Henry W. Slocum]

About 1,600 additional French troops have lately arrived in Mexico.  Some negro troops are expected there from Egypt ;  apprehensions are felt that they will bring cholera with them.

A Louisiana delegation, in an interview with the President on Wednesday, sustained Governor Wells, praised Gen. Sheridan, and blamed General Canby for the disorder and dissatisfaction prevalent in that State, alleging that his interference with civil matters had been the cause of all the difficulties.  [Philip H. Sheridan]

Little Six4 and Medicine Bottle,5 the Sioux chiefs, are to be hung on Wednesday of next week.

Ex-Governor Clarke [sic: Charles Clark], of Mississippi, who has for some months past been imprisoned at Fort Pulaski, has been set at liberty by order of the President.

Dick Turner, the keeper of the Libby prison, who is to be tried on the charge of maltreatment of Union prisoners, has engaged Marmaduke Johnson as his counsel ;  and strong hopes are expressed by that gentleman of a disapproval of the charges against his client.  [Richard “Dick” Turner]

Judge Caton6 denies the truth of the statement made “on the authority of William H. Smith,”7 that General Grant, in a conversation with him (Judge C.) declared that the Monroe Doctrine would be enforced by our government, and that Maximilian must leave Mexico.  The General, who arrived in Washington Friday morning is said to be “much annoyed at the publication of expressions erroneously attributed to him.”

A meeting of 60,000 freedmen was held at  Edgefield, Tennessee, on Thursday Brig. General Fisk made an address.  “He wanted to put the black man in the jury box and on the witness stand.”  It is expected that, within a few weeks, there will be a general cleaning out of the negroes at Nashville, arrangements having been perfected to procure work for them in various localities.

Dr. Mudd recently made an attempt to escape from Dry Tortugas, by secreting himself in the coal bunker of the steamer Thomas A. Scott.  He was detected and put to work wheeling sand.  [Samuel Mudd]

General Carl Schurz is at St. Louis, and intends, it is reported, to establish a radical (English) newspaper at that point.

General Conner [sic] has issued a circular announcing “war to the knife” against the Indians, and advising officers in command of expeditions never leave a trail until the savages are overtaken and punished.

The 3rd Illinois cavalry, after a march of 1,500 miles, have reached Fort Snelling, whence they will leave for home in about a week, to be mustered out of service.

Count Joannes8 has volunteered to act as consul for General Lee in case of the trial of the latter ;  and the general has accepted his offer.  [Robert E. Lee]

The total number of pardons thus far granted by the President is 2,658.  Among the parties who have recently been recipients of executive clemency is L. Pope Walker, the first rebel secretary of war.  [L. P. Walker]

The work of re-establishing lighthouses along the southern coast is in course of vigorous prosecution.

1.  Thomas Callahan, assistant superintendent of the Freedmen’s Bureau in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was chaplain for the 48th U.S. Colored Infantry.
2.  Judge James J. Weems (1796-1872) was arrested on September 8, 1865.
3.  William M. Gwin, ex-senator of California, and ex-Governor Clark of Texas, were involved in a scheme to settle colonists from the Confederacy in Mexico. The colonists would be protected by veteran Confederate soldiers. The scheme fell apart.
William McKendree Gwin (1805-1885) was well known in California, Washington, DC, and in the South as a determined southern sympathizer. He served as a U.S. Representative from Mississippi (1841-43), and was one of California’s first two U.S. senators—John C. Fremont being the other, serving from 1850-61. After the the colonization scheme failed and the war ended, Gwin returned to the United States, and, after being arrested briefly, he retired from public life..
Edward Clark (1815-1880) was the 8th governor of Texas, serving from March to November 1861. He had previously been the lieutenant governor under Sam Houston (1859-61) and secretary of state under Elisha M. Pease. Clark became governor when Sam Houston refused to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy. After losing the governor’s race by 124 votes to Francis Lubbock, Clark joined the 14th Texas Infantry as colonel. He was promoted to brigadier general after being wounded in battle. Clark fled to Mexico at the end of the War, staying only briefly.
4.  Medicine Bottle (1831-1865) was a Mdewakanton Dakota warrior, who played a part in the Dakota Conflict of 1862. His Dakota name was “Wa-Kan’-O-Zan-Zan” or Wakanozanzan, and he was also known as Rustling Wind Walker. In 1863 Medicine Bottle fled to Canada, and during the winter of 1864 he was captured there and brought to Fort Snelling (Minnesota). There he was tried and convicted by a military commission for his participation in the Dakota Conflict and sentenced to death. President Andrew Johnson confirmed the sentence. A crude gallows for two was built and, on November 11, 1865. Medicine Bottle was hanged at Fort Snelling, alongside his friend, Chief Shakopee (III).
5.  Little Six (1811-1865), also known as Chief Shakoppe (Shakopeela), was the third Mdewakanton Dakota chief of that name. He was a leader in the Dakota Conflict of 1862, during which he said he killed 13 women and children. Like Medicine Bottle, he fled to Canada in 1863 and was captured in 1864, returned to Minnesota, tried and convicted, and hanged on November 11, 1865.
6.  John Dean Caton (1812-1895) was lawyer in Illinois. Governor Thomas Carlin appointed Caton as an associate justice of the Illinois Supreme Court in August of 1842. He became chief justice when Samuel H. Treat resigned from the post in 1855. Caton himself resigned from the bench in 1864.
7.  Possibly William Henry Smith (1833-1896), a newspaper editor and Republican politician who was the 16th Ohio secretary of state (1865-68), or William Hugh Smith (1826-1899) who will become the 21st governor of Alabama (1868-70).
8.  George, Count Joannes (born George Jones, 1810-1879) was an English-American actor, author, journalist, and litigator best known for his eccentric behavior later in life. The Count’s many letters and other interactions with the famous became fodder for the newspapers, particularly after his return to America in 1859. He filed lawsuits against Horace Greeley, Edward Sothern, Massachusetts Governor John Albion Andrew, writer Francis Henry Underwood, The New York Times, and others. His correspondence with General Robert E. Lee offering to defend him against charges of treason was reported in the newspapers, as we see here.


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