The following summary of news comes from the September 30, 1865, issue of both The Prescott Journal and The Polk County Press. Both papers have identical inside pages, with Milwaukee advertisements.
A delegation from Texas is in Washington, urging the release of Jeff Davis. [Jefferson Davis]
The South Carolina convention has repealed the ordinance of succession—there being three votes in the negative.
The trial of the rebel burners of steamboats commenced in St. Louis, before a military commission, Tuesday. The counsel for one of the defendants gave notice that he should summon, among his witnesses, Jeff. Davis, the rebel secretaries Seddon [James Seddon] and Mallory [Stephen R. Mallory], and Admirals Farragut [David G. Farragut] and Porter [David D. Porter].
Champ Ferguson’s¹ trial, at Nashville, was closed Tuesday, and the decision of the court has been forwarded to General Stoneman. [George Stoneman]
In the Indian council at Fort Smith, on Monday, the treaty was signed by the rebel Creeks, Cherokees, Osages, Comanches, Choctaws and Chickasaws.
The late rebel Gen. Pillow is in Washington seeking pardon. [Gideon J. Pillow]
The total number of colored troops enlisted in the army was 180,000. Of these, 50,000 have died or been killed, and 60,000 of the remainder have been ordered mustered out.
The Secretary of the Treasury has addressed addressed [sic] a letter to officers of customs, allowing the shipment to the Southern States of firearms and ammunition for sporting, and blast powder for mining purposes, the amounts to be left at their own discretion.
The notorious John H. Surratt, one of the assassination conspirators, and son of Mrs. Surratt [Mary Surratt] who was executed, was recently seen in Montreal where he has been concealed. He is on the eve of leaving for Scotland.
Private letters from the 12th Illinois cavalry, of September 3d, announce the arrival of Custar’s [sic] Division at Hempshead, Texas, on the Texas central railroad, forty miles north of Houston, where the command would remain three weeks. The division is composed of the 5th and 12th Illinois, 7th Indiana, 2d Wisconsin [emphasis added], and 1st Iowa, all cavalry, in two brigades. It left Alexandria, La., August 8th, and performed the march of nearly 350 miles in nineteen days. It was expected next to proceed to Austin, 175 miles, stay several weeks, and afterwards to San Antonio, 80 miles, at which latter place Gen. Merritt’s cavalry division is already arrived. [Wesley Merritt]
In the Alabama State Convention, on the 20th, the provisional Governor was requested, by resolution, to call out the militia for the suppression of prevalent lawlessness. The consideration of the ordinance abolishing slavery was postponed, after debate, till the following day.
A dispatch from Washington says it is understood that the President regards with disfavor the extent of power exercised by agents of the Freedmen’s Bureau; and he is expected to make some changes in this regard.
The report that Jeff. Davis’ quarters at Fortress Monroe had been changed is contradicted.
Fayette McMullen, of Virginia, who was formerly a member of the federal, and latterly of the rebel congress, has received a pardon.
Kenneth Raynor and Alfred Dockery, of North Carolina, and John McQueen, of South Carolina, all formerly members of the United States congress, have also been pardoned.
General Blair, who is in temporary command of the department of the Missouri, during the temporary absence of General Pope, has been assigned to the command of the cavalry in that department. [Francis P. Blair, John Pope]
Iowa is credited by the provost marshal general with 76,000 troops—3,000 less than she claims.
In the case of the steamboat burner Murphy, at St. Louis, Friday, the motion of his cou[n]sel to summon Jeff. Davis and his cabinet as witnesses, was overruled.
A mutiny has occurred among the troops at Fort Rice, and some of them decamped on government horses.
General Sully’s force has returned from Devil’s lake to Fort Rice. Nothing was accomplished by the expedition. [Alfred Sully]
1. Irregular guerrilla forces under the notorious Champ Ferguson murdered white and black Union soldiers who had been wounded and captured. Ferguson was tried after the War for these and other non-military killings and was found guilty and executed.
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.
The following summary of the week’s news comes from the September 23, 1865, issue of The Prescott Journal.
A large Southern delegation, representing nine States waited upon the President Monday. Their spokesman assured Mr. Johnson [Andrew Johnson] of their belief that his policy would be earnestly resisted by the South. The President, in reply, made a speech of half an hour’s length, in which he stated that he did not credit the newspaper reports of disaffection of the South, and declared that he had confidence in the loyal professions of the people of that section.
It is announced that General Slocum [Henry W. Slocum], commanding in Mississippi, has tendered his resignation, in consequence of the endorsement of Gov. Sharkey [William L. Sharkey] by the president.
In the selection of delegates to the constitutional convention of South Carolina, on Tuesday last, the Unionists choose about only one-fourth of the number. Wade Hampton and several other rebel officers were elected by large majorities.
Missouri furnished 104,758 troops during the war—over one-third of whom were supplied by St. Louis.
General McCook took command at Willmington, North Carolina, on the 7th instant, in place of General Ames.¹
Secretary Howard made a visit to Richmond on Sunday, returning to Washington Monday.
The Minnesota democratic state convention met at St. Paul on the 7th instant, on adjournment from the 16th ultimo. The following nominations were made : For governor, Henry M. Rice ; for lieutenant governor, Captain C. W. Nash ; for secretary of state, Major John R. Jones ; for treasurer of state, Frank Hyderstadt ; for attorney general, William Lohren. Resolutions were adopted, “recognizing the civil and military acts of President Johnson, the fearless patriot, the able statesman, the honest man; and pleading to his wise and patriotic measures of the restoration of the Union, our cordial support ;” also favoring the equalization of bounties, so that soldiers raised in 1861 and ’62 shall receive the same amount of those raised in 1863 and ’64.
At a meeting in Detroit Monday, General Cass [Lewis Cass] subscribed $1,000 to the fund for a Michigan soldiers monument.
Orders have been issued to muster out all of the northern negro troops in the departments of North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas; for the muster out of 8,000 more white troops in the department of Arkansas ; and for the reduction to 6,000 men of the volunteer force in Gen. Augur’s command [Christopher C. Augur].
A Richmond paper states that Gen. Grant, in response to a letter from Gen. Lee, enclosed a copy of a letter he had written to the federal authorities, declaring that, under the terms of the rebel general’s surrender, the indictment found against him at Norfolk was an inadmissible proceeding. [Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee]
A Washington dispatch to the New York Herald says: “It is thought that the military force will soon be withdrawn from Virginia, and the power to maintain order placed in the hands of the militia, the same as the case of Mississippi.”
Three ex-rebels, two generals, and a clergyman waited upon General Howard on Tuesday, and expressed great satisfaction at the workings of the freedman’s bureau. [O. O. Howard]
An interview between Generals Meade [George C. Meade] and Gillmore [Quincy A. Gillmore] and Governor Perry [Benjamin F. Perry] has resulted in a partial restoration of civil authority in South Carolina,—civil courts being established for the trial of all cases except those of freedmen.
Returns of the election of delegates to the South Carolina Conventions are as yet limited ; but, so far as received, they indicate a general defeat of the Union tickets. The secession citizens are, naturally, much pleased at the result.
In the Kentucky annual conference of the Methodist Episcopal church, Wednesday, question of reunion with the church north was decided in the negative.
The train from Louisville to Nashville on Sunday last, was fired upon by a party of guerrillas. No injury was sustained by anyone on board.
The bushwhacker Wilson, whose death sentence was commuted by Governor Oglesby [Richard J. Oglesby] to twenty-five years imprisonment, has made a confession, which implicates in his misdeeds several leading copperheads of Quincy and vicinity.
A letter published from General Slocum, dated at Vicksburg, on the 31st ultimo, expressing a willingness to accept the democratic nomination for secretary of state of New York, providing the convention should endorse his views. He is, it seems, in favor of allowing the southern states “to decide who shall, and who shall not be entitled to the right of suffrage ;” of a reduction of the national debt ; of “the substitution of civil for military courts ;” and of “a more careful observance of the constitutional rights of states and individuals.”
General Strong, inspector of the freedmen’s bureau, in a report which will soon be published, giving the results of the recent observation upon the condition of the negroes along the Mississippi and Red Rivers, states that they are making very rapid advancement, industrially and educationally.
During General Meade’s recent tour through Virginia and the Carolinas, he made arrangements, under the authority of the government, for the gradual withdraw of the federal troops, and the resumption of civil law.
The specie captured from Davis, and recently brought to Washington, is detained by the Richmond banks.
Vessels arrived at San Francisco report the capture by the pirate Shenandoah, in the Arctic seas, of thirty whalers (including those previously mentioned),—twenty-six of which were burned and four bouded [sic].
Herechel V. Johnson, of Georgia, has paid a visit to Alexander H. Stephens, at Fort Warren, and reports that he is comfortably situated. Mr. Stephens’ brother, Linton, is with him.
It was reported that Captain Wirz had died ; but the fact is, that there has been an improvement in his health.
“Extra Billy” Smith, the late rebel governor of Virginia, has been given permission to visit Washington. [William Smith]
The fellow who sold the Andersonville prison records to the government, and afterwards, purloined them, has been tried by court martial, and his sentence is awaiting the approval of the proper authorities.
The statement is contradicted that all the federal troops are soon to be withdrawn from the South.
1. Adelbert Ames (1835-1933) was an American sailor, soldier, and politician. Born in Maine, he grew p to be a sailor on a clipper ship until 1856 when he entered West Point, graduating on May 6, 1861, just after the Civil War started. He served with distinction at First Battle of Bull Run, was badly wounded, but received the Medal of Honor in 1893 for his performance at the battle. He then fought in the Peninsula Campaign, the Battle of Yorktown, the Battle of Gaines’ Mill, and the Battle of Malvern Hill, the last being commended for his conduct. In August 1862 Ames took command of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry and served in the Maryland Campaign and the Chancellorsville Campaign. Ames was promoted to brigadier general in May 1863, two weeks after the Battle of Chancellorsville. Ames assumed brigade command in the XI Corps of the Army of the Potomac. After the Battle of Gettysburg, his division was sent to South Carolina and Florida and in 1864 was part of Butler’s Bermuda Hundred Campaign and the Siege of Petersburg. (Ames became Butler’s son-in-law in 1870.) In 1865 he received a brevet promotion to major general for his role in the Second Battle of Fort Fisher.
A Radical Republican, Ames served as the 27th governor of Mississippi (military/provisional governor), appointed by Congress in 1868; U.S. senator from Mississippi (1870-74); and 30th governor (civilian) serving from 1874-76.
After leaving office, Ames settled briefly in Northfield, Minnesota, where he joined his father and brother in their flour-milling business. He was living there in 1876 when Jesse James and his gang of former Confederate guerrillas raided the town’s bank.
In 1898 he served as a United States Army general during the Spanish-American War, fighting in Cuba. Ames was the last surviving full-rank general from the Civil War to die, dying at age 97 in 1933.
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 [sic] 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.