2 PM Richmond 130 PM May 17
1 PM 17th for Secy War = I learn
that Vance was started for Wash this
morning under guard = The rebel War
Dept records Eighty one boxes weighing ten
tons will leave this evening sig
There are a lot of things about war that are more interesting than what happens to the paperwork of the defeated side, but I’m sure that there were (and probably still are!) plenty of people who would see ten tons of Confederate government documents as a treasure trove. Someone may have had to come up with an entirely new filing system to handle the sheer volume! Seriously, though, without the filers and arrangers of this world, we would all be lost. Go out and hug a records manager or an archivist today.
Thanks to Zooniverse user absoluteforth for pointing this telegram out to us!
11 A.M. Washington June 25th 1863-
For Berry The immense loss and
destruction of horses in your army
and the difficulty of supplying this
loss renders it necessary that you
should impress every servicable animal likely
to fall into the hands of
the enemy There are many animals
in Loudon County and the adjacent
part of Maryland These should be
seized to save them from the
enemy as well as to supply
yourself signed Applause Fight well now
The tone of this telegram is slightly less ominous than my creative title, but I suspect that the horses’ owners didn’t feel any better about having to surrender their animals just because the army was more polite.
Thanks to Zooniverse user JustStardust for pointing this message out!
230 PM 25th Memphis Apr 24th 1863
From Millikens Bend April Sixteenth 6. P.M
via Memphis twenty fourth for Secy of War
Vicksburg Batteries will be run tonight
about 9 oclock – fleet will consist of
Six Iron Clad Turtles namely “Benton”
“Mound City” “Carondelet” “Louisville” “Pittsburg” &
“Dekalb”, besides “Lafayette” Iron Clad and
“Genl Price” heavy armed ram. Adml Porter
has intended to take “Tuscumbia” Iron
Clad also, but has concluded to
leave her in Yazoo. Transports consist
of “Henry Clay” and “Forest Queen”
side Wheel Steamers and “Silver Wave”
stern Wheel having twelve barges in
While looking over the consensus data I spied the phrase “Six Iron Clad Turtles.” Turns out this is the start of a three page missive from Charles A Dana (one with the telegram tail “nothing worth mentioning here”). Dana is not talking about children’s pets, red sliders, yellow bellied sliders, or box turtles, nor is he talking in code for a Monitor class vessel. No, he is using the term to describe the river gunboats that were built in Union ports along the Mississippi. It is apt as they kind of do look like snapping turtles (not a pet), albeit with heavy guns:
I should note that that “heavy armed ram” that joined the iron clad turtles, named General Price, was also not a mythical creature conjured by Dana:
Definitely not a male sheep OR a turtle. Nor a pet.
12:40 P.M. Harrisburg July 4, 1863
For G. G. Meade The glorious success of
the army of the Potomac has
electrified all I did not believe
the army of the Potomac could
be whipped when fought in a
body Unquestionably the rebels have fortified
the passes in south mountains such
information was given me a week
ago from Gettysburg signed D.N. Couch hot
Such was the telegram sent by General Couch on the victory by the Union Army of the Potomac when it was clear that the battle at Gettysburg was won. It did indeed electrify all, and Gettysburg became one of the defining battles of the United States Civil War. It also became the site of commemoration, beginning with the dedication and consecration of the Nation Cemetery at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863. It was on this date that Lincoln delivered these famous lines:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address has become a touchstone in American Memory. It still has the power to evoke strong emotions of loss and hope. But Lincoln’s words, and those spoken by others on that November day in 1863, were not to be the only monument to the soldiers who fell on the fields and hills of Gettysburg.
After the Civil War, monuments began to be erected at Gettysburg in honor of the various units who had fought there. Among the images available online at the Huntington Digital Library are a set of photographs that depict monuments at Gettysburg taken by photographer William H. Tipton. Some were elaborate, such as the one honoring the 90th Pennsylvania Infantry, is in the form of a shattered tree trunk, with a cannon ball lodged in the heart of the tree at the top, the bark peeled away. Others were very simple like that of the 20th Massachusetts Infantry which is a large puddingstone boulder on top of a carved base. These photographs were collected as keepsakes by a veteran, Lindsey M. Gould. They provided him a touchstone, no doubt, to those he fought with and those who died.
Let us take a moment, then, to reflect on this anniversary of the consecration of hallowed ground at Gettysburg. Let us reflect on Lincoln’s words. Gettysburg did electrify the Nation in 1863. Let that spark electrify you today.
H E Thayer Washn Sept 17th 1864
For Benjamin Franklin Phila period
Let the pistols be delivered
to Smith follow him to
Virgin year and when he
reaches there seize him and
the pistols and ammunition period
Turn him over to the
military commander at Wheeling to
be put in the military
prison there and turn over
the pistols and ammunition to
the ordnance officer at Wheeling
taking his receipt period This
telegram will be received as
an order to the military
Commander at Wheeling to take
charge of Smith and by
the ordnance officer to receive
the pistols and ammunition Telegraph
when seizure is made E.M. Stanton
I realize that “Benjamin Franklin” was probably a code name, given the original Benjamin Franklin had been dead for 74 years, but I have a wonderful mental image of ol’ Ben as a secret agent. It looks something like this:
He tries to be stealth, but everyone is like, OMG, Benjamin Franklin, what are you doing here?! How are you even alive?! So then he has to run away and his borderline-entrapment scheme is blown. All because Stanton didn’t think of sending an agent who is not immediately recognizable to the majority of Americans. Way to go, Edwin.
Have a great weekend everybody!
Recd 140 PM
27th Bridgeport Oct 27
Bridge=port Tenn 630 a.m. Oct. twenty 7th
to Secy War Troops just moving out
for Shell=mouth & Raccoon mountain
no evidence to show that rebels
will oppose the undertaking Hooker came
here from Stevenson last night he
is in an unfortunate state of
mind for one who has to
cooperate = fault finding = criticising dissatisfied = no
doubt the chaos of Rosecrans’ administration
is as bad as he describes =
but he is quite as truculent
Forward the plan he is now
to execute as toward the impotence
& confusion of the old regime
Charles Dana became an Assistant Secretary of War in 1863, and two of the ledgers that we have are dedicated exclusively to his field reports from 1863 and 1864. This message from October of 1863 comes from an encounter with General Joseph Hooker, who was on his way to reinforce the Army of the Cumberland, and was apparently not very encouraging. It’s always interesting to see whether historical sources bear out our modern interpretations of individuals, and this seems to be pretty well in keeping with the current view of Hooker.