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Five months into war…


On September 9, 1861, an editorial in the Virginia’s Daily Dispatch called for the end to debate. “Words are of no avail: blood is more potent than rhetoric, more profound than logic.” Confederate forces invaded Kentucky six days earlier. The state had been drawn into war on the side of the Union to firm up the border between north and south.

Confederate war clerk, John Beuchamp Jones, wrote, “We have no success lately, and never can have success, while the enemy knows all our plans and dispositions…. Their spies and emissaries here are so many torch-bearers for them.”

President Lincoln found disloyalty in the north. He’d ordered troops to arrest 30 secessionists in Maryland, including members of the state legislature.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee lost his first campaign at Cheat Mountain in the western part of Virginia. His soldiers didn’t have an easy time of it, even those who weren’t directly in the path of battle. Confederate soldier Cyrus F. Jenkins wrote, “I must march without one bite of anything to eat. The clouds are flying over us and the rain is falling thick and fast.”

The Union lost a siege in Lexington, Missouri, but was able to take control of Ship Island, off the Gulf Coast of Mississippi.

Lincoln was plagued by the runaway slave question. He’d upheld the Fugitive Slave Act in his inaugural address but feared the act would cause friction with the border states he struggled to retain. Late in August 1861, Union Major General John C. Fremont issued a proclamation that declared the slaves of Confederate sympathizers to be freed. But on September 11, Lincoln asked Fremont to rescind that order.

For the president’s wife, war clouded everything. Mary Todd Lincoln wrote to her cousin, “The weather is so beautiful, why is it, that we cannot feel well. If the country was only peaceful, all would be well.”

Meanwhile, Ulysses S. Grant wrote in a letter to his sister, Mary: “This war…is formidable and I regret to say cannot end soon as I anticipated at first.”

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  1. How interesting. I hadn’t heard about all the disloyal people before. Thanks for posting it.

  2. Caroline Clemmons says:

    Susan, your post reminds us that in war no one is the winner. Loyalties are divided and the soldiers are only human. Once again, you provided a thought-provoking post. I continue to be impressed by your knowledge of the Civil War.

  3. Ciara Knight says:

    Wow, I didn’t know about all the disloyal people. Thanks for sharing this.

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