Mason & Slidell Released to England!; White House Levee and Begged Cooperation

January 1, 1862 (New Year’s Day – Wednesday) Without cheers, jeers, ceremony or even much notice, James Mason and John Slidell, Confederate envoys to England and France, held prisoner by the United States since November 8th, were released from Fort Warren in Boston Harbor. After they were seized from the decks of the British vesselRead More

They Will Be Cheerfully Liberated: Mason & Slidell To Be Freed!

December 26, 1861 (Thursday) The celebrations of Christmas had not stood in the way of Lincoln’s Cabinet meetings and the discussion of what to do with James Mason and John Slidell, Confederate envoys to England and France, taken prisoner aboard the British vessel Trent. The incident had sparked much controversy and threatened to plunge theRead More

No Rest and Little Celebration for Christmas 1861

December 25, 1861 (Wednesday – Christmas) For some, the first Christmas of the war was a time of rest, where drills and military formalities took a short day off. Around Washington, the mood was full of apprehension and gloom over the Trent Affair, as well as gloom, if the past year was considered in theRead More

Washington Officially Given Seven Days to Release Mason & Slidell

December 23, 1861 (Monday) It was a very mild day for being so deep into December. In fact, the past week had been pleasantly dry and warm in Washington. For President Lincoln and his Cabinet, the lovely weather had been all but ignored as they squirreled themselves away in their offices and meeting rooms toRead More

Washington Unofficially Given Seven Days to Release Mason & Slidell

December 19, 1861 (Thursday) Four days after Secretary of State William Seward unloaded to President Lincoln his nervous apprehensions about Great Britain’s possible desire to wage war on the United States, a visit was paid to him by Lord Richard Lyons, England’s Minister to the United States. Neither he nor Seward had breathed a wordRead More

But Does the Bulldog Know He Will Not Bite?

December 15, 1861 (Sunday) Secretary of State William Seward simply could take no more haranguing from the British press, which had been ablaze since news of the capture of James Mason and John Slidell, lapped upon their shores. He was, said some across the pond, hoping to provoke a war with England in hopes ofRead More

British Reaction to Trent Affair Arrives in US; Preparing for Battle in Western Virginia

December 12, 1861 (Thursday) It had taken the better part of two weeks for the demands of England’s Foreign Secretary John Russell to reach the shores of America. Confederate envoys to England and France, James Mason and John Slidell, had been taken off a British ship on November 8th, over a month ago. With newsRead More

The Eugenia Smith Affair?

December 7, 1861 (Saturday) The USS Santiago de Cuba, a wooden, ten-gun, side-wheel steamer, had left Havana on November 29, in pursuit of the British ship Eugenia Smith. Under the command of Daniel Ridgeley, the Santiago had been patrolling the waters between Southern ports and Cuba. By the end of November, Ridgeley and his shipRead More

Bridge Burners Executed; England Gives the US a Week to Reply; Rebels Advancing in Missouri

November 30, 1861 (Saturday) “Two insurgents have to-day been tried for bridge-burning, found guilty and hanged.” -Col. Danville Leadbetter to Confederate Secretary of War Judah Benjamin.1 On the same day that Secretary Benjamin gave the order that those who were found guilty of burning bridges in Eastern Tennessee must be put to death, Col. Leadbetter,Read More

England Frantic with Rage over Trent Affair; Rebels Not Advancing in Missouri

November 29, 1861 (Friday) “There never was within memory such a burst of feeling as has been created by the news of the boarding of the La Plata [Trent],” wrote Charles MacKay, a Scottish poet living in England. The news that Confederate envoys, James Mason and John Slidell, had been seized from a British vesselRead More