1865 September 27: “There are still stories about that this command is to be mustered out of service”
The original of this letter is in the Jerry E. Flint Papers (River Falls Mss BN) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, University Archives and Area Research Center.
Camp 4th Wis. Cavalry. .
San Antonia, Texas. .
Sept. 27th 1865
My Dear Mother
I think it is about time that I should write a few lines to you, although I can find but little of interest to note. The greater portion of the Regiment is out on a scout and will not be in until the first of October. I was left in camp as I had just had another visitation from my old friend “Chills and Fever.” The hot weather is now nearly over and I am hoping that with the cool days my usual good health will return.
My main trouble arises from exposure to the hot sun. We have one of the finest camps I ever saw. It is situated in a pleasant grove with a fine stream of clear sparkling water running close by. The good water we have here is one great advantage over Louisiana. There our best water is the muddy Mississippi, while here there are plenty of fine springs where the water gushes out from beneath ledges of solid rock.
Well tomorrow we are ordered to leave this delightful camp and locate ourselves on the top of a bluff near by. There being only three or four men in a company present, it gives us a more work than a few lazy soldiers can appreciate. Therefore we have remonstrated with the Genl and he has fairly promised us that we may stay in our present location until the return of the boys. If he fully consents all right, if he don’t I hope the vilest torments of His Majesty down below will haunt him through endless years.
There are still stories about that this command is to be mustered out of service, but I can tell you nothing reliable about it now. I think we shall know in a few weeks whether we are to remain through the winter or not. Unless we can go home very soon, I believe I would prefer to remain here until spring. I would like to hear from home very much, but our facilities for mail are so very poor now that I presume that is the reason I do not get any letters.
I have not heard from Helen¹ for six months. Tell Phineas¹ to let me know where she is next time he writes. What can I do for living if I get out of the service pretty soon. Is there any work to do? Wont [sic] it be hard though to come right down to the manual labor? It is really dreadful to think of, and then only sixteen or eighteen dollars a month after getting a hundred and fifty. Oh it is awful, awful. I enclose five dollars to get you a pair of fur lined shoes for winter. If it is not enough tell Phin¹ to pay the balance and send the bill to me. If I remember right you are troubled to keep your feet warm in the winter.
Remember me to Grandmother and all other friends. Hoping this may find you well and in the enjoyment of all the blessings of life. I remain as ever
1 . Jerry’s sister, Helen, and his brother, Phineas, or Phin for short.
1865 September 16: More Soldiers Returning Home, Freedman H. H. Thomas Speaks in Osceola, and Other News
The small, many local, news items for this week come from The Polk County Press of September 16, 1865.
— The First Minnesota Heavy Artillery is expected home in a few days.
— The Third Minnesota arrived home on the 12th inst.
GONE.—“HICK” CLARK [Andrew J. Clark] and JOHN BAKER, have gone to report themselves, their furloughs having nearly expired. They report first at Madison, we believe, where they anticipate getting discharged under the order recently issued by the War Department, discharging all absentees from their respective regiments.
— Mr. H. H. THOMAS,¹ a colored gentleman from Kansas, and before residing there, for twenty-five years a slave in six or seven Slave States, addressed an audience in this village [Osceola, Wisconsin] on Thursday evening last, giving a spirited description of his experience while in bondage, and also as a freedman. The house was well filled and all were pleased with the entertainment.
— News is expected daily of a battle between General Conner’s forces and the Indians, on or near Big Horn river, a branch of the Yellowstone, in the Rocky Mountains. [Patrick E. Connor]
— Provost Marshal General Fry reports to the State officers that Indiana has furnished 103,337 men to the Government between the 17th of April, 1861, and the 30th of April, 1865. [James B. Fry]
— Alexander H. Stephens is said to advocate giving the freedmen a fair chance and favors in trusting them with political power as soon as increased manhood and self-respect enable them to wield it intelligently.
PROCLAMATION.—Gov. Lewis [James T. Lewis] has issued a very pleasant Proclamation, an acknowlagement [sic] of the great services rendered the cause of the Union by the Soldiers of Wisconsin. It is published elsewhere.
1. A possibility is the H. H. Thomas listed in the 1870 federal census in Lawrence, Kansas. He is 40 years old, born in Virginia, and working as a real estate agent. His wife is Frances Thomas. In the 1880 census, he is listed as Henry Thomas, still married to Francis, still living in Lawrence, now working as a barber.
The following news items come from the “Gleanings” column and the end of the “Telegraphic Summary” column of the September 16, 1865, issue of The Polk County Press.
— One of the London theatres is still playing to enthusiastic audiences “The Confederate Daughter; or, the Tyrant of New Orleans.”
— Capt. Kirk,¹ the notorious guerrilla, who was to have been tried at Nashville, for the murder of Gen. McCook [Robert L. McCook], was shot in prison by his guard.
— The work of repairing the Virginia railroads progresses steadily, and it is thought that, in a few weeks, communication will be complete with New Orleans.
— William Moss, a rebel bushwhacker, who had taken up his residence at St. Louis, where he was coolly arranging to go into business, has been convicted at Jersey City [sic: Jerseyville], Missouri [sic: Illinois], of murders committed during the war, and sentenced to be hung.²
— President Johnson [Andrew Johnson] has introduced into the White House the largest family circle that ever occupied the Executive Mansion. His family consist of his wife, a son, son-in-law, two daughters, and a number of grand-children.—The son-in-law is Judge Patterson,³ recently elected a Senator form [sic] Tennessee. Mrs. P., who is to be the lady of the house, was educated at Georgetown, during Mr. Polk’s administration, and was then a frequent guest of his family.
— A correspondent of the Maine Democrat says that the father of Jeff. Davis [Jefferson Davis] was born in Maine, and went South when he had nearly arrived at manhood. He was not afterward heard of until Jeff. Davis visited Maine some years ago, when he stated in conversation with a friend, that his father was born in Buxton, and had arrived in Mississippi a poor boy. The writer says Davis’ parents were not married.
Henry A. Wise has written a letter to General Grant [Ulysses S. Grant], covering thirty sheets of foolscap, appealing against General Terry’s [Alfred H. Terry] transfer of Wise’s abandoned property to the Freedmen’s bureau.
President Johnson has telegraphed Governor Holden [W. W. Holden] that, in case of his visiting Richmond, he will extend his trip as far as Raleigh, the place of his nativity.
The death sentence of Thomas Wilson, bushwhacker, has been commuted by Governor Oglesby [Richard J. Oglesby] to imprisonment for twenty-five years.
Mr. Hall, clerk of the circuit court at Knoxville, Tennessee, was killed on Tuesday, by a man named Baker, formerly of the rebel army. Baker was taken from the jail by a mob, and hung in the street.4
Francis Pickens, of South Carolina, has made applications for pardon.
General Steele [Frederick Steele], commanding the Union forces in Texas, is represented as being very friendly towards the Mexican imperialists,—having lately been present at a ball given in honor of one of Maximilian’s ministers, and having, at a recent banquet, proposed a toast in honor of “his imperial majesty.”
The provisional governor of Alabama [Lewis E. Parsons] recommends all local Magistrates in that State to accept the position, which has been proffered them, of agents of the freedmen’s bureau, for the purpose of administering justice in cases where negroes constitute one or both of the opposing parties.
Permission has been given to Jeff. Davis to have epistolary communication with his wife. Jeff. is convalescent from his attack of erysipelas.
1. Lewis M. Kirk (1828-1865) was captain of Company D, 19th Tennessee Cavalry. Before the Civil War, Kirk—a Mexican War veteran—worked as a blacksmith in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. On November 9, 1858, Kirk killed Thomas J. Westmoreland, a farmer from neighboring Giles County. When the Civil War started, Kirk was serving a 15-year prison sentence for second-degree murder. When he filed a pardon request with Governor Isham G. Harris, he pledged to join the Confederate army if the governor would pardon him. The governor did, and Kirk joined the local Lawrenceburg Invincibles and later raised a Confederate cavalry unit that became part of the 19th Tennessee Cavalry. Kirk supposedly murdered General McCook during a skirmish in northern Alabama in early August of 1862. Kirk’s enemies also accused him of a lot of other atrocities during the War, including the murder of countless contraband slaves. The 19th Tennessee Cavalry surrendered on May 11, 1865, in Alabama and Kirk returned to Lawrenceburg, where, two months later, he was arrested and taken to the Federal headquarters in Pulaski, Tennessee. Kirk was killed—executed by a firing squadron, according to some accounts—on July 26, 1865, and is buried in the Lynnwood Cemetery in Pulaski, Tennessee. For more details on the Westmoreland murder, see Clint Alley’s April 16, 2014, post “The Blacksmith and the Farmer: A Tale of Slander, Bacon, and Murder in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee,” on the History of Lawrence Co. Tennessee blog (accessed September 17, 2015).
2. Tom Moss, an alias for William A. Brown, along with a man named Henderson, murdered three men on November 7, 1864, in Fidelity, Illinois (Jersey County). Moss escaped, but was later arrested and jailed in Jerseyville. He was tried in August 1865, convicted, and hanged on September 1, 1865, at the Jersey County courthouse.
3. David Trotter Patterson (1818-1891) married Martha Johnson in 1855. He was appointed as a judge in the first circuit court of Tennessee in 1854, serving to 1863. A Unionist from East Tennessee, Patterson was elected by the Tennessee General Assembly to the U.S. Senate in 1866, serving to March 4, 1869. (Tennessee was the first Confederate state to be re-admitted to the Union on July 24, 1866). He did not run for re-election and returned to East Tennessee to manage his substantial agricultural interests.
4. Former Union soldier William S. Hall (1838-1865) was shot in the head by ex-Confederate soldier Abner Baker (1843-1865) on September 4, 1865. One possible motive is that Baker’s father, Dr. Harvey Baker, was killed in the family home during the Civil War by a Union soldier and he may have been seeking to avenge his father’s death.
1865 September 16 : Freedmen’s Bureau Helping to Provide Employment for Destitute Freedmen, All Colored Troops to be Immediately Mustered Out
The following comes from the September 16, 1865, issue of The Polk County Press.
NEW YORK, Sept. 14.— The Tribune’s Whashington [sic] special says :
Only 130 partial rations are issued to destitute freedmen of this city, and the number is rapidly decreasing, owing to the efforts of the freedmen’s bureaus to provide colored citizens of this class with self-sustaining employment.
Lieut. Clark, of Gen. Howard’s staff, has just returned from Harper’s Ferry, for the purpose of investigating freedmen’s affairs in that vicinity, and reports very encouragingly of present prospects. [O. O. Howard]
WASHINGTON, Sept. 13.— There were issued orders to commanding officers in the departments of North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Texas, Alabama and Arkansas, directing them to immediately muster out of service all organizations of colored troops which were enlisted in Northern States and are now serving in their respective commands.
They are to muster out the entire organizations, including all additions thereto by recruits and other causes. Another order directs the muster out of 3,000 additional white troops in the department of Arkansas.
Maj. Gen. Auger has also been ordered to reduce the volunteer force in his command to 6,000 commission officers and enlisted men. [Christopher C. Augur]
The Herald’s Washington special says, last evening Secretary Seward [William H. Seward] had a reception, when, in addition to the numerous other visitors, the principal part of the southern delegation, which called upon the President [Andrew Johnson] during the day, were present. They were received by Mr. Seward and other members of the cabinet in manner equally as frank and affable as that with which they were greeted at the executive mansion. The tone of remarks by the Secretary of State were similar to those made by the President. He said the policy was to make the Union firm and equaitable [sic], but at the same time to make sure work of reconstruction.
This proclamation by James T. Lewis, Wisconsin’s governor, thanks the volunteer soldiers of the state for their service in the War. It was published in the September 16, 1865, issue of The Polk County Press.
Official Thanks to Wisconsin Soldiers.
STATE OF WISCONSIN
BY JAMES T. LEWIS, GOVERNOR
A P R O C L A M A T I O N.
An all-wise Creator has permitted us to triumph over treason. As the smoke of battle clears away and we behold the great work which has been accomplished by the Army of the Union ; when we consider that it has stood as our bulwark in the darkest hour of the Republic, and when we remember that Wisconsin’s sons formed a part of this great army, and view the honorable and important position taken by them in it, the record they have made, our hearts swell with pride, and we feel that the gratitude and thanks of our people are due and should be tendered to the noble men who have taken part in the greatest struggle the world has ever known—a struggle involving not alone the interests of this nation, but the interests of all mankind ; a struggle every day of which was crowded with momentous events.
For the bravery which has distinguished Wisconsin soldiers in every battle in which they have been engaged ; for the patriotism displayed by them on all occasions ; for the gallantry with which they have borne the Stars and Stripes, and the noble manner in which they have sustained the State and Nation, I, James T. Lewis, Governor of the State of Wisconsin, do therefore, in behalf of the State, hereby tender to all Wisconsin officers and soldiers of every grade, the heartfelt thanks and gratitude of its people. And while we remember with gratitude the living , we will not forget the heroic dead. Their heroic memories will be honored and cherished by our people. Their fame survives—they will live in the hearts of their countrymen.
In Testimony whereof, I have hereunto subscribed my name and caused the Great Seal of the State of Wisconsin to be affixed.
( L. S. ) .Done at Madison, this 2nd day of September,
. .in the year of our lord one thousand eight hundred
. .and sixty five.
JAMES T. LEWIS.
By the Governor.
LUCIUS FAIRCHILD, Secretary of State.
The following proposed amendment to the Wisconsin state constitution appeared in the September 16, 1865, issue of The Polk County Press, and the September 23, 1865, issue of The Prescott Journal.
Proposed Constitutional Amendment.
AN ACT to extend the right of suffrage.
The People of the State of Wisconsin, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows :
Section 1. The right of voting is hereby extended to male persons of African blood, who shall have attained the age of twenty-one years or upwards, with the same qualifications and restrictions now imposed upon other voters in section one of the article on suffrage, in the constitution.
Section 2. This act, before it takes effect, shall be submitted to the people, at a general election, to be held on the Tuesday next, succeeding the first Monday of November, 1865, when if such majority of votes as is required by the constitution, be cast for it, it shall be of force and effect under the requirements hereinafter prescribed ; but if such majority be not cast for it, it shall have no force or effect.
Section 3. The ballot to be used on this occasion, shall be for the affirmative, “for extension of suffrage,” for the negative, “for the extension of suffrage, no,” which shall be on the general ballot used at the said election and deposited in the same box, and all persons qualified by law to vote at any election in this State, shall be deemed voters on this question.
Section 4. These votes shall be counted and returned by the inspectors of the election, in all respects as votes for state officers are counted and returned.
Section 5. The officers now delegated by law to canvass the returns of votes for the state officers shall canvass the return on this question, at the same place and under the same regulations and restrictions now provided by law for canvassing and declaring the returns of elections for state officers.
Section 6. Within three days after the determination of such canvass, it shall be the duty of the canvasser to certify the result of the said canvass to the governor, who shall, thereupon, without delay, make proclamation of the result, and publish the same daily and weekly for two weeks, in all newspapers printed in the state ; when, if the results shall be in favor of the extension of suffrage, this act shall immediately after publication, be of force and effect ; but if not in favor of it, then this act shall have no force or effect.
Section 7. This act, immediately after its passage, shall be published, and at least three months previously to said general election, the secretary of state shall send or cause to be sent, a correct copy of it to every newspaper in the state, which newspaper, upon the publication of the same shall be entitled to pay for the same out of the state treasury, at the rates paid for other legal advertising.
Approved April 10, 1865.
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE, }
MADISON, July 18, 1865. }
The publisher of each paper in this state, will please publish the above act once each week for three months prior to the next general election, and send his bill to this office for payment.
. .Secretary of State.
The following summary of the week’s news comes from the September 16, 1865, issue of The Polk County Press.
Alexander Dudley, president of the New York River railroad, has had his pardon restored to him.
It is believed that a proclamation will soon be issued by the President, restoring the writ of habeas corpus in the loyal states.
All sentences of death in cases of soldiers convicted of desertion, have been commuted by the President to imprisonment for a term of years. [Andrew Johnson]
No prominent rebel generals have as yet applied for permission to leave the country, and it is asserted that General Lee has no thought of making such application. [Robert E. Lee]
The commission to negotiate treaties of peace with the Sioux and Cheyennes will hold a council with those tribes at Fort Rice, on the 15th proximo. The commission consists of Governor Edmonds [sic],¹ of Dakotah ; Edward B. Taylor, superintendent of Indian affairs for the northern superintendency ; Generals Curtis and Sibley ; Henry H. Reed, of Iowa ; and Owen Guernsey of Wisconsin. [Samuel R. Curtis, Henry Hastings Sibley]
Generals John C. Robinson, John F. Miller, and Joseph R. Hawley have been stricken from the list of general officers, mustered out by the recent order from the war department.²
The report that the records of the Andersonville prison had been stolen had its origin in the following circumstances ; they were originally sold for $300 to the war department by one Dorrance [sic: Dorence] Atwater, who, while a prisoner at Andersonville, managed to abstract them from the rebel officials. He was afterward detailed to accompany Captain Moore’s party to Andersonville, and during his absence, secretly made a copy of the original, with the presumable intention of repeating their sale in another quarter. He is now undergoing court-martial for the offense. Captain Moore has the original copy still in his possession. [for more on this, see footnote 1 in the September 2, 1865, post on Moore’s expedition]
Major General Wilson was recently attacked by four highwaymen, near Macon. He captured one, and put the others to flight. [James H. Wilson]
Judge Advocate Chipman³ has classified the witnesses for the prosecution in the Wirz case, so as to shorten the time of the trial by two or three weeks. [Henry Wirz]
Several of the hitherto hostile Indian tribes, on the plains, are beginning to manifest a desire for peace. The government is anxious to come to an arrangement with them, and, if one be made, will hold time rigidly to their agreements. If the attempts at pacification shall fail, military movement against the savages will be prosecuted with relentless vigor.
The testimony in the trial of Wirz, Thursday, was of a character similar to that on previous days. The prisoner is looking very badly, and the opinion is expressed by some that his life will not last beyond another month.
Henry S. Foote, the rebel congressman, has been allowed to return to his home, in Nashville, on condition that he shall not interfere in politics.
President Johnson refuses to release Mallory [Stephen R. Mallory], ex-secretary of the rebel navy, but allows him to have communication with his family.
All the white infantry troops in the department of the Tennessee have been ordered mustered out.
President Johnson, in his letter, sustaining the Governor of Mississippi [William L. Sharkey], in his call for the organization of the State militia, gives, as his main reason therfor [sic], the statement that he is desirous to induce the people to come forward in defense of the State and Federal Governments ; and declares that, in case of any insurrectionary movement by such organization, national troops will be on had [sic: hand] to suppress it immediately.
During the past four years of the rebellion, Indiana furnished 193,337 troops, and Wisconsin 96,000. In the latter State, over $10,000,000 was raised for bounties to soldiers.
1. Newton Edmunds (1819-1908) was part of the New York Edmunds family that was involved with politics, associating with the Free Soilers before affiliating with the Republican Party. Newton Edmunds’ brother, C. E. Edmunds, was Commissioner of the United States Land Office. Newton Edmunds was appointed as chief clerk in the surveyor-general’s office, resulting in Edmunds’ arrival in Dakota Territory in 1861. In August of 1862, Edmunds was elected as eighth corporal of Company A of the Dakota Militia, following the Santee uprising. On October 17, 1863, Edmunds was appointed governor of Dakota Territory by President Abraham Lincoln. Edmunds received strong support from former Governor William Jayne. Edmunds believed that the Indian wars in the territory impeded white settlement by creating a negative public perception of Dakota Territory. In October 1865, Edmunds and the commission mentioned here began to negotiate with Indian tribes located along the Missouri River. The commission eventually reached treaty agreements with thirteen tribes.
- John Cleveland Robinson (1817-1897) Robinson remained in the army following the cessation of hostilities and was assigned command of the Freedmen’s Bureau in Federally occupied North Carolina. On April 10, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated Robinson for appointment to the brevet grade of brigadier general in the regular army, to rank from March 13, 1865, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination on May 4, 1866. In July 1866, he was promoted to full colonel in the regular army. On July 17, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated Robinson for appointment to the brevet grade of major general in the regular army, to rank from March 13, 1865. Robinson was mustered out of the Volunteer army on September 1, 1866. In 1867, Robinson was assigned to command of the Military Department of the South. The following year, he was again reassigned, this time to lead the Department of the Lakes. Robinson retired from the U.S. Army on May 6, 1869, receiving a commission to the full grade of major general in the regular army on the date of his retirement
- John Franklin Miller (1831-1886) Miller was brevetted as a major general on March 13, 1865. He declined a commission as a colonel in the Regular Army and resigned from the Volunteers on September 29, 1865. He later served as a U.S. senator from California (1881-1886).
- Joseph Roswell Hawley (1826-1905) was brevetted as a major general in September 1865, and mustered out of the army on January 15, 1866. He later served as a U.S. senator from Connecticut (1881-1905).
3. Norton Parker Chipman (1834-1924) enlisted in the 2nd Iowa Infantry and fought courageously in the Battle of Fort Donelson, where he was wounded and reported dead. Chipman survived and was promoted to colonel in 1862. Chipman was later appointed as a member of General Henry W. Halleck’s and then Samuel R. Curtis’s staff. He later became a member of the Judge Advocate General’s staff. Chipman successfully prosecuted Captain Henry Wirz, the commander of the Confederacy’s infamous Andersonville prison camp. Chipman published his recollections of the famous Andersonville Trial in his 1911 book, The Tragedy of Andersonville Prison: The Trial of Captain Henry Wirz [online edition available to UWRF students and staff; check the catalog]. After the War he served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1871-75) from the District of Columbia.