July 28, 1862 (Monday)
The Southern states of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Missouri were in quite a predicament. They were keenly aware that Richmond might just have put them on the back burner, instead focusing on Virginia and Tennessee. These realizations prompted the governors of these four states to petition President Jefferson Davis.
It all started in late spring, when Arkansas Governor Henry Rector wrote a poetic proclamation to the people of his state practically convinced that though Richmond had abandoned them, they would fight on – and if they could not fight, they would flee and set up new homes elsewhere. This hardly encouraging piece of literature found its way to Davis’ desk, causing more than a little uneasiness over the thought of losing Arkansas. Governor Francis Lubbock of Texas saw what was happening and told Davis “if Rector is wrong, I shall endeavor to get him right.” He also reassured his President that Thomas Moore, governor of Louisiana was a true patriot of the Confederacy.
Davis then suggested that those three governors, plus Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson of Missouri, meet together to come up with ideas how the Confederate government in Richmond could be of service to their states. And so Governor Lubbock set July 20th as the date when they would all meet at Marshall, Texas.
Only Missouri’s Governor Jackson showed up (and really, without a state of his own, what else did he have to do?). Together, Lubbock and Jackson wrote out their concerns and forwarded the letter, dated July 28, 1862, to Governors Rector and Moore, who added their signatures.
They first asked for three things they found “absolutely indispensable; without them we can not use our strength nor fully develop the mighty power of resistance that is in our midst.” First, they wanted a commanding General to oversee operations in their four states. They also needed money to raise an army. And lastly, they needed arms and ammunition.
“All that we desire,” wrote the governors in closing, “is that you send us a cool and able head to direct our military operations, provide the funds necessary to support the army, and the arms to put into the hands of our citizens, and then we will endeavor to deal with the enemy on this side of the river as successfully as you have done upon the James and the Chickahominy.”
Along with the letter sent to Davis, the four governors drafted a proclamation to the people of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Missouri, in hopes of bolstering morale and support for the Confederate government. “Submission, or subjugation, places the feet of the oppressor upon your necks,” declared the governors, “yields up your noble women to Butlers, and degrades or drives into exile your children. A people united and determined to be free can never be conquered. Remember this. Gird on your swords, shoulder your rifles, and be ready for the word of command when given by the government of our choice and affection.”1
Keeping up appearances is a very important part of politics. Both General-in-Chief Henry Halleck and General George McClellan knew the game well. While McClellan had received Halleck, his new commander, cordially, and though Halleck had been, at worst, neutral towards McClellan, neither cared much for the other.
Publicly, thus far, both were amiable chums from the old army. In private, however, it was an entirely different story. Unable to voice their opinions to each other or their comrades in arms, they both turned to their respective wives.
McClellan grumbled and heaved to Mary Ellen that President Lincoln never informed him that Halleck would be taking up the position of his overall commander. “We never conversed on the subject,” wrote the General, “I only know it from the newspapers.” McClellan took it personally, believing that Lincoln and his ilk did so “to make the matter as offensive as possible.”
Of Lincoln, McClellan continued, writing that he “had not shown the slightest gentlemanly or friendly feeling & I cannot regard him as in any respect my friend – I am confident that he would relieve me tomorrow if he dared do so. His cowardice alone prevents it.”
These rants against Lincoln had become the prevailing subject between husband and wife these past few weeks: “I can never regard him with other feelings than those of thorough contempt – for his mind, heart & morality.”
Oddly, though he felt personally slighted at Halleck’s appointment, he seemed almost optimistic about it. He naturally despised most of Lincoln’s military advisors and hoped that “Halleck will scatter them to the four winds.” He personally singled out General Irvin McDowell, calling him “morally dead” and maintaining that “he has no longer one particle of influence & is despised by all alike.”2
While McClellan complained about Lincoln, Halleck bemoaned McClellan. Their meeting, of which McClellan wrote nothing, Halleck described as “necessarily somewhat embarrassing.” He explained that “it certainly was unpleasant to tell one who had been my superior in rank that his plans were wrong, but my duty to myself and the country compelled me to do so.”
Trying to remain diplomatic, even to his own wife, he first described McClellan as “a most excellent and valuable man,” but added that “he does not understand strategy and should never plan a campaign.”
Halleck was nearly convinced that the road ahead was a rocky one: “We can get along very well together if he is so disposed, but I fear that his friends have excited his jealousy and that he will be disposed to pitch into me. Very well. My hands are clean. When in command of the army no one did more than I did to sustain him and in justice to the and to the country he ought now to sustain me. I hope he will but I doubt it. He is surrounded by very weak advisers.”3
Pro-Confederate Canadians Attack Pro-Union Newspaper in New Brunswick, Canada
At the outbreak of the war, many northern newspapers that leaned towards supporting the Confederacy, or where merely radical democrats, had been ransacked and destroyed by Unionist mobs. For awhile, this was a fairly common thing, especially in New York and New England.
It could easily be imagined that a pro-Southern newspaper in Maine might be attacked by adherents to Maine’s pro-Northern factions. But what can be made of a pro-Union newspaper in Canada being attacked by pro-Confederate Canadians?
Just across the Maine border in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, The St. Croix Herald had been printing Unionist editorials since the war in the United States began. In the middle of December, a pro-Southern mob burst into their offices, tore up the place and destroyed much of the type.
This attack, however, did not dissuade the pro-Union editors, who continued to publish the same rhetoric that had made them locally infamous. Seven months later, on this date, a very similar mob again assailed the Herald. This time, the pro-secessionists spared little. The furniture was smashed to pieces, the press was completely demolished, the type was again scattered, and whatever they could grab was thrown into the St. Croix River. It would take months for the paper to resume its business.4
- All quotes come from Six decades in Texas by Francis Richard Lubbock, B.C. Jones & Co., 1900. [↩]
- Letter from George McClellan to Mary Ellen McClellan, July 27, 1862. As printed in The Civil War Papers of George B. McClellan edited by Stephen W. Sears, Da Capo Press, 1989. [↩]
- Letter from Henry Halleck to Elizabeth Hamilton Halleck, July 28, 1862. As printed in The Collector Magazine, February, 1908. [↩]
- Lincoln and the Press by Robert S. Harper, McGraw-Hill, 1951. [↩]