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Chapter 4:

  • Mr. Logan elected to the thirty-seventh congress
  • -- the journey to Washington -- Railway travel in 1859 -- installed at Brown's Hotel -- the capital dominated by slaveholders -- a cab adventure -- President Buchanan and Miss Lane at the White House -- reception at Senator Douglas's -- re-election of Douglas to the Senate -- his loyalty to Lincoln -- arrival of Lincoln in Washington -- the inauguration -- the crisis and current conditions -- our first state dinner -- General social festivities on the verge of war -- the theatres -- firing on Sumter -- public opinion at home -- Logan's stand for the union -- his speech at Marion enlists “for the war” and raises a regiment.

As soon as the election returns were in and Mr. Logan was declared elected to represent the Ninth Congressional District in the Thirty-seventh Congress, he began to arrange his affairs to go on to Washington to be sworn in March 4, 1859. We went to Marion, Williamson County, to spend the Christmas holidays with my father and mother, and to visit Mother Logan who lived twenty-four miles west of Marion, at Murphysboro, Jackson County. On account of the discomfort of travelling in winter, we were afraid to take our little daughter, then but a few months old, on so long a journey in February. My husband therefore went on to Washington without baby and me. He arranged everything for our home, when we should come the following December.

I spent the summer arranging our household affairs that I might close our house, and in the far more difficult task of preparing a suitable wardrobe in which to make my debut as the wife of a popular Congressman from the West. I spent many sleepless nights designing costumes, hats, and other [71] necessities for a lady's wardrobe. We were too far from Saint Louis or Chicago for me to avail myself of city dressmakers and milliners; consequently, after getting together what I thought would be passable, I waited until I reached Washington to obtain what I should require further.

A few days before Thanksgiving we bade good-by to the numerous friends and neighbors and started, via the Illinois Central and the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad, to Cincinnati; thence, via the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, to the national capital.

Going to Washington in those days was a very different affair from that of the present. The crude railroading, the uncomfortable, barren, low-berthed sleeping-cars can never be forgotten. The road-beds were rough, and the rolling-stock worse. This, together with the zigzag track of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad through the Alleghany Mountains, made travelling a question of physical endurance; getting over ground more rapidly than by the primitive stagecoach was at the cost of many an aching bone and dizzy head. The untidy condition of the best sleeping-cars was intolerable. I had never before crossed the Alleghany Mountains, and remember vividly the struggle between the desire to sit up and feast my eyes upon the grand scenery of the mountains and the Cheat River Valley, with that enchanting river appearing and disappearing from view as the train sped on through tunnels and around the craggy points of the range through which the river flows, and the tremendous effort it required to keep from yielding to the desperate car-sickness and fatigue incident to travelling under circumstances then inevitable. All trains were late, overcrowded, and uncomfortable. We had to change frequently. At Bellaire the cars were transported across the river on a boat; the mountains at some places were crossed by the switchback system. From the time one embarked till dropped at the old Baltimore and Ohio Depot in Washington one suffered incessantly either with fatigue, terror [72] on account of the tortuous heights and crooked track, or suffocation from the tunnels and vile air of the cars. Eating-stations were few and far between, and the improvident, who had no luncheon provided, had to endure the pangs of hunger; and when children were of the number their cries added additional annoyance to passengers. We had, among others, as travelling companions, the Hon.Cox and Mrs. S. S. Cox. Mr. Cox was then a member of Congress from Ohio, and was full of life and good stories, which he told so well that he made everybody cheerful and enabled many to forget their discomfort. Others included the eloquent Dick Barrett, of Saint Louis; Colonel Ross and J. C. Robinson, members of Congress from Illinois; Mr.Turner and Mrs. Oscar Turner, of Louisville, Kentucky; Mr.Stillwell and Mrs. Stillwell, of Indiana.

The Relay House was then the last stopping-place for meals before reaching Washington. Hungry and weary, we all responded with avidity to the supper-call, entering the typical Southern dining-room of the hotel, to be served with a delicious Southern supper of fried chicken, corn bread, baked sweet potatoes, fresh biscuit, butter, honey, tea, and coffee. As the door swung open between the kitchen and dining-room, while the waiters went in and out serving the supper, the old black cook with her bandanna turban could be seen busy with implements of her profession, dishing toothsome fruits of her cunning in the art of the cuisine, and could be heard at the same time delivering lectures to the audacious Sambos and Cuffys for the want of manners they displayed while filling the orders of the guests. Before realizing that twenty minutes had expired, the conductor's cry of “all aboard” made us drop the biscuit and honey and hurry to the train.

Reaching Washington in the early evening, we had scarcely descended from the cars before the rush of burly hackmen crying: “This way for Brown's Hotel!” “This way for the national!” “This way for-” this and that hotel and lodging-house, almost deafened and completely terrified me. [73] Unsophisticated as I then was, I felt I was to be the victim of a mob; but under the guidance of Mr. Logan, to whom the whole proceeding was not a novelty, we were soon ensconced in Brown's Hotel omnibus and driven to that hotel, and to my dying day I shall remember the kindly greeting of Mr.Brown and Mrs. Brown (parents of Mrs. Richard Wallach), the worthy proprietors. Their son-in-law, Mayor Wallach, was a friend of Mr. Logan, and through him they had been advised of our coming, and right royally did they receive us.

I felt that in Mrs. Brown I had a refuge in all the dilemmas that awaited the timid young wife of a Western Congressman. This city was then dominated by the aristocratic slave-holders of the South, who looked upon the North and West as “mudsills and drudges,” quite unworthy of much consideration; and far too often a swaggering manner and a retinue of colored slaves gave a man a prestige over others of scholarly attainments, simple habits, and no attendants. The hotel was quite full of the most pronounced of the aristocratic type who were then threatening disunion. Among them were Wigfall, of Texas; Kelt, of South Carolina; Mason and Harris, of Virginia; Benjamin, of Louisiana; Slidell and Barksdale, of Mississippi; and a legion of others who were subsequently leaders in the Confederacy, and who have since paid the debt that all must pay sooner or later. Daily, during the dinner-hour, discussions were heated and often quite boisterous. Sometimes it seemed that a collision was imminent at the table, ladies frequently appearing with secession cockades, which gave encouragement to the advocates of secession. At first I used to listen to these discussions in mortal terror, and sometimes was almost persuaded that the boasted prowess of the Southern men was a reality. I often wondered upon what they fed that they should be so boastful; my heart, meanwhile, praying that, should the conflict ever come, Heaven might protect the Union and give to its defenders strength to save it from dismemberment. [74]

Impatient to secure a presentable wardrobe, and disliking to take up my husband's time, or that of Mrs. Brown, to accompany me on a shopping tour, one morning I started out alone. It was easy enough to wander down Pennsylvania Avenue to Perry's and John T. Mitchell's dry-goods stores, and to find all I dared purchase with my limited purse. Feeling that I had achieved wonders, I started to return to the hotel; but, after walking quite a distance and looking about carefully for landmarks and failing to find one, I went to the corner of Seventh and C Streets, the old carriage stand, got into one of the vehicles and told the driver to take me to Brown's Hotel. Turning around the corner he halted at the ladies' entrance half a block from where I had entered the carriage. He charged me a dollar which I paid without demurring, and hurried to my room. Subsequently, I discovered that I had gone down C Street in the rear of the hotel, forgetting, when I attempted to return, the oblique direction of the avenue. I waited many months before telling my experience to my husband, who enjoyed repeating the story at my expense for the amusement of his friends, and it was a long time before I heard the last of my first shopping expedition in Washington.

To visit the Capitol and public buildings and familiarize myself with the objects of interest which the city contained kept me busy for some time. Congress had adjourned for the holidays before we felt prepared to make our debut, and begin the rounds of calls obligatory upon the wife of a new member, if she expects to hold any place in the social world at the capital. New Year's, 1860, I first witnessed the ceremonies of that day. Going to the White House, upon invitation of Mr. Buchanan, we watched with admiration the President, with all the dignity natural to him, and Miss Lane, with graciousness unsurpassed by any of her predecessors or successors, receive the official calls. The Diplomatic Corps, Cabinet, Supreme Court, Congress, and the [75] whole list of officials then, as now, paid their respects to the President on that day. The music of the Marine Band, under the direction of Professor Scala; the gay uniforms and decorations of the foreigners, our army and navy, and the beautiful toilets of the ladies made an impression upon me that can never be effaced. My ideas of democratic, simplicity fled precipitately, and I stood aghast fancying no imperial court could rival our republican government in ostentatious display. While Washington was not the city it is to-day in population and improvement, there were aristocratic and pretentious people who made the most of such occasions, and allowed no opportunity to pass without availing themselves of it to display their gorgeous resources.

SenatorDouglas and Mrs. Douglas had invited me to come and assist them in receiving their friends. This was my first experience in participating as an assistant to a hostess on such an occasion. SenatorDouglas and Mrs. Douglas lived on I Street in the house more recently occupied by the late Justice Bradley. Their home was one of the most ambitious in the city, with its lovely picture gallery, spacious drawing-rooms, fine library, and luxurious surroundings. Adjoining was the home of Senator Rice, of Minnesota; that of Senator Breckenridge, of Kentucky, adjoined Rice's. All day the callers came and went. Mrs. Douglas, one of the most diplomatic women of her time, received her guests with matchless grace and cordiality, presenting them to her assistants in such a way as to put them at ease and banish their shyness. Most elaborate refreshments, including egg-nog and wines of all kinds, were served in the dining-room; while Senator Douglas, with his wonderful charm of manner, entertained in the library those who lingered as long as politeness would permit. It was long before we slept that night: the excitement of the day, the glittering panorama of the reception, the novelty of meeting so many people, the enjoyment of hearing the bright sallies and conversation of the distinguished callers had enchanted me, but [76] through it all forebodings of the impending “crisis” stirred my soul. The ambition of reckless spirits, who had for so long ruled the land, the arrogance of the slaveholders in their possessions, all tended to keep the political excitement at fever heat. Events occurring in the Capitol were reflected in society. The absorbing topics under discussion could not be dropped even in the drawing-room. Participants in the debates in the halls of Congress could not forget the subject when they met for social intercourse. The very sight of each other suggested continuation of their discussions. Illinois was then represented in the United States Senate by William A. Richardson and Stephen A. Douglas. Douglas's time was to expire on the 4th of March following. In the House of Representatives there were elected in November, 1858, from the First Congressional District, Hon. E. B. Washburne; Second, John F. Farnsworth; Third, Owen Lovejoy; Fourth, William Kellogg; Fifth, I. N. Morris; Sixth, John A. McClernand; Seventh, James C. Robinson; Eighth, P. B. Foulke; Ninth, John A. Logan-forming a galaxy of as strong men as the State has ever had in Congress; and it was not surprising that such representatives were destined to be conspicuous in the thrilling events that took place in the decade following. While the legislature was Democratic, Mr. Lincoln having carried the State by the popular vote the fear that Mr. Douglas would not be returned to the Senate was greatly augmented. When the legislature convened, there assembled at Springfield a great number of persons from all over the State who desired to influence its action. It was evident to the most stupid observer that Mr. Lincoln had made a national reputation during the campaign, and especially in the joint discussions, and that in his questions put to Douglas on the subject of slavery in the Territories he had set many men to questioning whether or not the policy of Mr. Douglas was a safe one for the best interests of the country north of the Mason and Dixon line; whether it was [77] not true that the country could no longer exist “half slave and half free,” and whether or not, also, the slaveholders were determined to extend slavery or dissolve the Union. Every man in the legislature was watched with jealous eyes lest he might falter in his allegiance to his party, and thereby defeat party supremacy. The contest was long and bitter, until, finally, Douglas was re-elected to the Senate, but, as was predicted at the time, at the expense of his Presidential hopes and prospects, as beyond all doubt the fame acquired by Mr. Lincoln as the nominee of the Republican party for the Senate in the celebrated campaign of 1858 and the division of Democratic sentiment as to Douglas gave Lincoln the nomination for the Presidency in 1860.

But one issue was before the people, and that was the question of slavery and its extension in the Territories. The proslavery party would listen to nothing but an espousal of their cause absolutely; and the antislavery party would listen to no uncertain sound on that question-nothing but the prohibition of slavery in the Territories would satisfy their demands. Hence there was little chance for a compromise man to accomplish much. The two wings of the Democratic party were just as much at variance as were the Republican and Democratic parties, and when the conventions met the rupture came with full force, so that the result of the campaign of 1860 was not a surprise to Mr. Douglas and his adherents. But, with his hopeful spirit, he thought something might still be done, and we remember well how, during the whole winter preceding the firing on Sumter, day after day he pleaded with leaders for a compromise, and with what anxiety he watched the gathering storm and longed to avert the “irrepressible conflict.” I remember, too, how eagerly he joined the venerable John J. Crittenden in his “compromise” proposition, and how, night after night, the young men of his party met at his house and counselled with him as to what should be done, and how his great soul recoiled at the [78] thought of a dismemberment of the Union! I remember his likening himself to a shuttle, going from side to side, between the warp and the woof of party threads, trying to weave a harmonious fabric, but often entangled in the meshes of the political web. He was loyal to the core, and yet his affiliations had all been with the South. His first wife was a Southern lady, and his sons were then with their kindred in North Carolina. At times he felt most keenly his impotency to accomplish anything on the peace commission, even to postpone the evil hour. I remember once when it was discovered that the conspirators had been holding secret meetings in the room of the Senate military committee, of which Jefferson Davis was chairman, Douglas came to our rooms manifesting the greatest possible distress. They had been arranging for secession and even for the resistance of Mr. Lincoln's inauguration. As Douglas talked the matter over with Mr. Logan (then a member of the House) great tears stood in his earnest eyes, and he said: “It is no use. If you gave these men a blank sheet of paper and asked them to write down terms of compromise under which they would agree to remain in the Union, they would not write them.” He added: “I, for one, can not be a party to the destruction of the Government, if every man in the Democratic party is with them.” He said he would do all in his power to give Mr. Lincoln a hearty welcome to Washington and insure his inauguration; that he was elected by the people, and should be inaugurated at all hazards.“ As a senator from Illinois, he was most active on the committee of arrangements for the inaugural ceremonies, going with the Illinois delegation to pay their respects to Mr. Lincoln as soon as he arrived. He shared the deep solicitude felt by the friends of Mr. Lincoln lest some madman or rampant secessionists might do him violence before his inauguration. I saw much of Mr. Douglas during those anxious days, and know that he suffered acutely all the time over the condition [79] of affairs, and more over the approaching storm of rebellion than over his own disappointment and waning political power.

Matters had reached such a climax that the most indifferent realized that the nation's weal was paramount to any individual consideration. Men of affairs moved about with grave countenances, absorbed with the awful thought that a civil war was inevitable. We remember perfectly the arrival of Mr. Lincoln in Washington, and the relief it was to know that nothing had befallen him en route, and with what intense anxiety many watched every move of the most violent secessionists all Inauguration Day. With bated breath I stood on the balcony of the Metropolitan Hotel (then called Brown's) and watched the procession wending its way down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol. I can remember exactly how Mr. Lincoln looked as he sat beside Senator John P. Hale, of New Hampshire (father of Mrs. W. E. Chandler), so calm and so apparently unaware of the imminent danger that his dearest friends apprehended. I saw them returning after the ceremonies, and was deeply impressed by the change in spirit and manner of the multitudes that followed. En route for the inauguration ceremonies anxiety and apprehension were depicted on every face. Returning, they followed the carriage of the new President, shouting: “Long live the President!” But when nightfall was gathering over the city, again the timid began to quake lest some evil soul might improve his opportunity to commit some violent deed under the cover of darkness. For days hope and fear, security and doubt, succeeded each other in the public and private mind. Nominations for the Cabinet were sent in and were, of course, considered firebrands to the South, whose representatives one by one departed from the city and began their work all over the South for the establishment of the Confederacy. Each day some prominent member or senator failed to answer the roll-call. Mr. Lincoln's assurances that [80] he knew “no North, no South, no East, no West,” made no impression, and were considered unreliable by the leaders of the secession movement. First one State and then another passed secession resolutions. Then came echoes of the fatal firing on Sumter and all the fearful consequences that followed. Mr. Lincoln, with the deepest anxiety depicted on his face, was tireless in his efforts to restrain the madmen who were precipitating the nation into a civil war. He remained almost incessantly in his office or closeted with some leading spirit through whom he hoped to work a change and heal the breach. His most loyal adherents were untried men. He was ignorant of their abilities and doubted their discretion. The executive departments were completely demoralized. The Treasury and arsenals were empty. General Winfield Scott, the general of the army, was old and decrepit. The army was at its lowest ebb in numbers, and was scattered all over the vast extent of the country, with the most meagre and inefficient communications or means of transportation. The Indians were more numerous and savage than to-day. Our frail naval fleet, insignificant in the number of ships and efficiency of the officers and men, was for the most part on foreign seas, the rest in Southern waters. Fearing the Supreme Court to be in sympathy with secession, apparently a great republic was tottering to its fall. Was a President-elect ever so circumstanced? Upon him alone rested the responsibility of so directing affairs as to save the Union from dismemberment. Yet he was without absolute authority, and wholly dependent upon the legislative branch of the government and the loyalty of the people, albeit there were sounds of disloyalty everywhere, even north of the Mason and Dixon line.

Fortunately, the electric shock of the firing on Sumter startled the whole country, awakened the latent patriotism of the nation, and brought to Mr. Lincoln the much-needed assurance that there was in the hearts of the people an indomitable love of country that would sustain him in all respects [81] and enable him to fulfil the mission for which, in the retrospect, he seems to have been especially called. I have often thought that persons who to-day criticise the manner in which things were done then-particularly the tardiness which characterized the organization and movements of the army and the preparations which were necessary to prosecute the war, seem not to remember the difference between the situation then and now or the wonderful progress that has been made for the transportation and mobilization of an army.

Notwithstanding the undercurrent of political excitement, social gayety at the capital was attempted, and, like all novices, I was entranced by the brilliancy of the receptions, balls, dinners, and other entertainments which my husband and myself attended. At times I felt timid and so unsophisticated that I feared my embarrassment would provoke many a smile from the experienced women who chaperoned me on occasions of great importance. No more courtly President has ever been in the White House than James Buchanan, whose innate refinement and dignified manners had been greatly enhanced by his experience at the court of Saint James. His charming niece, Miss Harriet Lane, who presided as mistress of the White House, was so queenly and gracious always that she has had no superior as the first lady of the land. I shall ever bless them for the cordial greeting extended to Mr. Logan and myself in the executive mansion.

Our first state dinner was an event of so much importance to me that the picture of the table will be in my mind evermore. It was an elegant affair, notwithstanding the fact that the decorations of that time were very unlike the richer displays of the present day. I remember at each end of the Van Buren mirror, with its filigree railing of gold bronze, that formerly adorned the centre of the table on all state occasions, there were two tall gilt baskets in which were [82] arranged plaster-of-Paris fruits painted in very unnaturally bright colors. The variety included oranges, apples, peaches, grapes, etc.,with artificial leaves here and there among the mimic fruits. I remember, too, the historic china, with the red band and coat of arms of the United States in the centre. The gold-plated spoons, solid-silver service, and cut glass, though familiar to me since from frequent dinings at the executive mansion, have never looked half so gorgeous.

Though delighted over the invitation, for days before the affair I was wholly engrossed by the momentous questions of what I should wear; what I should do when I got there; and how I should ever command ideas enough to carry me safely through a long state dinner and not become a bore to my escort — that was the rub. Who that unfortunate individual was to be it was impossible to find out. Was he to be a personage of agreeable manners, or arrogant, pedantic, and probably patronizing? Any of these latter characteristics would make me so unhappy that I should be unable to appear to any advantage. Then if he betrayed in — the slightest degree that he was bored or really endured me because there was no escape I should have suffered intensely. I was proud of my husband, whose handsome face and brilliant conversation would charm all about him, but for myself I had many misgivings and visions of hours of agony.

However, the desire to see the pomp and display of a state dinner and to hear the conversation of the distinguished guests I expected to meet at such a ceremonious affair overcame every scruple. Stephen A. Douglas and his universally admired wife, Mr.Breckenridge and Mrs. John C. Breckenridge, SenatorDavis and Mrs. Jefferson Davis, SenatorYulee and Mrs. Yulee, SenatorMason and Mrs. Mason, of Virginia, SenatorGwyn and Mrs. Gwyn, of California, Judah P. Benjamin, SenatorCrittenden and Mrs. John J. Crittenden, Colonel Syms, of Kentucky, the Cabinet, and many others to the number of forty sat down to that [83] stately dinner. My escort was Stephen A. Douglas, and of course I was supremely happy, because I had known him from girlhood and had looked up to him as a great leader and most charming man in conversation. He was the personal and political friend of my father and my husband, and was anxious to treat me with every consideration for their sakes. Under his tactful and fascinating conversation I soon forgot my misgivings, and, through the inspiration of the resplendent surroundings, felt never so proud and happy, although now and then in the sallies of the leading spirits in the conversation that went round the table, ominous expressions were made that caused one to tremble and ask one's self: “Is it possible that there is one of this distinguished company who would raise a hand against the flag of the Union or break the bonds that hold the grand constellation of States together?” I little thought that one of the number would in a brief time be the leader and President of the Confederacy, directing deadly blows against a government that had bestowed on him many high honors.

SenatorGwyn and Mrs. Gwyn, of California, entertained very handsomely, their grand balls being among the finest given in Washington. For years their hospitable home had been the attraction for the most distinguished at the capital. People were still talking of their famous masquerade ball, given the winter before, in which the President appeared in the court dress he had worn at Saint James's. Members of the Cabinet, both houses of Congress, the diplomatic corps, army, navy, and citizens entered into its spirit with enthusiasm, and, all in fancy costumes, represented royalty, dramatic characters, historic personages, great warriors, celebrated admirals, men and women of literary distinction, artists, and many others.

Among those who took part in the occasion was Mrs. William E. Chandler, then young Miss Hale, daughter of Senator Hale, of New Hampshire, who appeared as Sunrise, and of [84] whom Major John De Havilland, who described the affair in verse, wrote:

I marvel not, O sun, that unto thee
In adoration men should bow the knee.

Mrs. Stephen A. Douglas, subsequently Mrs. Williams, then one of the most brilliant and beautiful women at the capital, representing Aurora, inspired the poet to the following description:

The bright Aurora in our senses gleams,
Nor yields to that fair daughter of the morn,
Whom Guido saw on car triumphant borne.

She was, indeed, “la belle au bal.” Mr.Coyle and Mrs. Coyle, Mrs. Madison Cutts, Mrs. Emery, wife of General Emery, and Brady the artist were there, though not in masquerade. Nothing of later days has excelled the stateliness of the occasion in all its appointments or the illustrious characters taking part.

MayorWallach and Mrs. Wallach gave many grand dinners and receptions and one ball so resplendent as to rival anything, save a fancy-dress affair. We recall the venerable John J. Crittenden and his charming wife, whose dignified bearing and genial face were ever pleasing to see; Lord Napier; the French minister; Hon. Anson Burlingame; Mr.Clay and Mrs. C. C. Clay, of Alabama; Mrs. Greenough, wife of the sculptor; Hon. Horatio King; Hon. Daniel E. Sickles, still surviving; Mr. Bouligny, of Louisiana, and his fascinating wife, nee Miss Parker; the Livingstons; Minister Bodisco and his charming wife; Cochrane, of New York; Banks, of Alabama; General Magruder; Mr. Clingman; Mr.Vance and Mrs. Vance; Mr. Harris, of Virginia; John C. Breckenridge; Senator Rice, of Minnesota; Chief Justice Taney; Barkesdale, member of Congress from Mississippi, who was later killed [85] in the Confederate Army during the Civil War; Stephen A. Douglas; Hon. William Kellogg, of Illinois; Mr.Pryor and Mrs. Roger A. Pryor; Doctor Garnett; Senator Judah P. Benjamin; GeneralMcClernand and Mrs. McClernand; Miss Dunlap, sister of Mrs. McClernand, who married General McClernand after her sister's death in the early sixties; Mr.Foulke and Mrs. Foulke, of Illinois; Senator Edward Baker, killed at Ball's Bluff in 1862; ColonelLee and Mrs. Robert E. Lee; and a host of others were familiar faces at social entertainments.

On all occasions wine flowed freely, egg-nog being on every table on New Year's Day. Terrapin was as common as the simple bouillon of to-day, the colored cook who presided in every kitchen knowing better how to prepare terrapin than our most skilful chef.

At evening entertainments the guests arrived early and remained until the “wee smal hours.” The Inauguration Ball, March 4, 1861, was a grand affair, but not participated in by many of the opposition or residents of Washington whose sympathies were with the South, many flattering themselves to the very last that there would be some resistance to Mr. Lincoln's inauguration. Fortunately, the theory of bowing to the will of the majority was then a cardinal principle in the decalogue of American politics. It is a melancholy revery for one to think upon those momentous days, and to take up, one by one, the names of men and women who figured in the social and political drama then being enacted. Death has claimed nearly all, as more than half a century has rolled away, not a few having met sudden deaths in the real tragedies in which they took part; while others of the brilliant coterie played important parts in the Civil War that burst upon the country with such violence in 1861 as to stop completely their dalliance with pastimes and pleasures at the national capital, and precipitate the whole nation into its realities. Instead of making merry and dancing to the music of “stringed instruments” in the ball and drawing rooms, they [86] hastened to the field of carnage to the thrilling notes of martial music, changing the light steps of the dancers to the tramp of the warriors' march. Before Ash Wednesday had stopped the festivities, rumors of the coming conflict, the defiant threatenings of seizing Sumter, and the seceding of States from the Union effectually stopped all gayety, and made serious and thoughtful the most giddy devotee of society.

Almost every one was so restless that he must needs be on the go all the time. Even the theatres were packed every night. The actors and actresses of that time were very fine. Forrest, Sothern, Joe Jefferson, Booth the elder, Charlotte Cushman, and other celebrated men and women were on the boards, “Lord Dundreary” furnishing recreation and amusement for the weary, “Rip Van Winkle” bringing tears from the sympathetic, while Charlotte Cushman's “Queen Catherine” and “Meg Merrilies” awakened the wildest enthusiasm for her great power in the rendition of such roles. In February she came to Washington to play for five nights: the first night giving “Queen Catherine,” supported by J. B. Studley, a fine actor; the second night in “Meg Merrilies.” When she delivered the curse upon poor Bertram, her figure seemed to rise to the stature of a giantess before her trembling, cringing victim. On this occasion she was brought before the curtain again and again, the whole audience, from orchestra to the top gallery, rising to their feet and cheering wildly. In imagination I can to this day see her majestic figure as she appeared to acknowledge the encores.

She followed the next night (her benefit) with Mrs. Haller, in Kotzebue's play, “The Stranger,” and as Mrs. Simpson in “Simpson & company,” to a superb audience of appreciative admirers. “Lady MacBETHeth,” “Cardinal Wolsey,” and “Nancy Sykes” were also given at the earnest request of a large number of distinguished people, who signed a petition to her to gratify them by prolonging the engagement seven nights. Each night the house was as full as the managers [87] dared to allow. One never tired of seeing her. She was the personification of power and grace, and so forceful that one was impressed by her peerless physical and mental strength, and yet she seemed as gentle as a child. Few women have left a deeper impress upon the age in which they lived.

On the reassembling of Congress after Mr. Lincoln's inauguration the excitement grew greater and greater, reaching a higher pitch when the sound of the firing upon Sumter was flashed across the country. The seizure of the forts in Charleston Harbor and the firing on the flag aroused the whole nation. The people were completely demoralized between the conflicting impulses of their generous natures toward kindred in the South and duty to their country. At first they could do nothing. The hammer lay idle by the anvil; the bellows unused; the fires were out in engines and furnaces; the wheels of machinery still. The plough stood in the furrow, and men wandered about asking for news, and stood in groups for hours talking; crowded around every new arrival in the little town, or gathered about the fortunate possessor of a newspaper, while he read aloud to the anxious listeners every line of news or comment upon the situation of affairs. Wives, mothers, and sweethearts went about their household duties with melancholy faces, and often with tears rolling down their cheeks, as their loving hearts ached with ominous forebodings of what was coming, and what might happen to their loved ones in the near future. Unaccustomed to the suspense and anxiety of war, and the absence of loved ones whom they knew would enlist if war should be declared, they were wretched beyond expression.

Having no alternative, Mr. Lincoln made the call for seventy-five thousand men, and money to protect life and property and uphold the authority of the Government. To our peaceful citizens this seemed an innumerable army, but the response from every loyal State, that their quota would [88] be supplied as rapidly as possible, according to their respective facilities of enlisting and organizing troops, inspired the President with hope and confidence.

To a nation that had only known the annual “Militia day” in those States which had militia organizations-numbering only a few in the whole country-and whose idea of the militia rose scarcely above the standard of a parade by five companies, the announcement, over the signature of the Chief Magistrate, that the Union was in danger and needed defence at the hands of all loyal citizens, aroused the patriotism of the people. The small, regular army, then scattered to the farthermost borders of this vast country, could not furnish a sufficient number of drill-sergeants or commissioned officers to drill the hastily recruited volunteers.

The few veterans of the Mexican War then surviving north of the Mason and Dixon line had well-nigh forgotten the obsolete manual of arms, which they had learned during the brief war with Mexico; and yet long-neglected tactics were taken down from the dusty shelves and eagerly read. Rusty swords that had done occasional duty on Militia Day since ‘48 were hunted up and buckled on over citizen dress; old fifes that had not known the touch of human lips for many years were soon responding to the inspiring notes of martial airs; old drummers regained their cunning, and beat an accompaniment calling men to arms. The few industrial establishments that had been kept in operation by a small number of faithful men for the furtherance of private enterprises were immediately converted into busy hives for the manufacture of implements of war, volunteers stepping into line until every place was filled. Those not needed in the field joined the busy army of workers who were occupied with the preparations for clothing, feeding, arming, and supporting the soldiers at the front.

Returning to our home in southern Illinois, we found that the proximity of that section to the slaveholding States and [89] the close ties by nature of a majority of the people to those of the South had caused the most intense excitement. Almost every household was divided in sentiment. The theory of States' rights had so impregnated the minds of the people that they were unable to divest themselves of the feeling that the people of the South really owed their first duty to their States, and not to the Government of the United States. In the heat of discussions of the political campaign they had concluded that the South had a grievance in the election of an antislavery man and the supremacy of the Republican party. At heart they were loyal to their country, and in sympathizing with their kindred of the South it never occurred to them that they were guilty of disloyalty, or that they were aiding and abetting treason. They had an idea that concessions might be made which would in no wise compromise the dignity and power of the Government, and through which the Southern States might be induced to remain in the Union.

We had taken advantage of the interim between the adjournment and the reassembling of Congress under the President's call to go home, I to remain to do what I could to prepare the people for the step Mr. Logan had decided he must take at an early day or be guilty of treason to his country. He felt that he must be for or against the Government, and that his duty demanded that he should enter the army and take with him as many men of his constituency as he could. Therefore he did not want them to continue their excitement, lest they might rashly commit themselves to secession. Mr. Logan, however, returned to Washington to take part in the proceedings of Congress at the extra session to provide ways and means for supporting, arming, and equipping the troops.

Arriving at Marion, Williamson County, Illinois, where we then resided, we were not prepared for the state of public mind that greeted us. Constituents hitherto full of enthusiasm and cordial greeting met us with restraint, expressing [90] eagerness to know what was going to be done; finding fault with this, that, and the other action that had and had not been taken; insisting especially that there had not been given to the South enough guarantees that their institutions would in no wise be interfered with. They were reluctant to believe that everything had been offered and refused. At the same time they blamed the South for the attack on Fort Sumter. Many of them had kindred in the South whom they dearly loved, and still they could not leave their homes in the North and sacrifice everything to go to their friends whom they knew must, sooner or later, lose their all in the cause of the rebellion in which they were embarking. It was touching to see them. They looked to Mr. Logan, then their representative in Congress, to tell them what to do, and they knew instinctively that his advice would be hard to follow. Either horn of the dilemma was painful for them to contemplate.

A few reckless spirits had already departed for the Southern Confederacy, and had thus brought suspicion and opprobrium upon the section of the State south of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad.

The authorities at the capital of the State and in the office of the United States marshal were watching the movements of every man. Their only hope of restraining the sympathizers was through Mr. Logan, whose influence had been very great. Appreciating the grave responsibility resting upon him, he had occasion for much vigilance and solicitude, lest he should fail in saving the people from getting into trouble through rash acts until their own good judgment and sense should bring them to see whither they were drifting, and the inevitable results of rebellion. Many were the hours he paced the floor revolving in his mind how he should hold them to their duty by enlisting them in the service of the Government, thus preventing their taking steps that would involve them in ruin. He dared not tell them that he should enter the army himself. They would have spurned him and [91] accused him of treachery to his party and to them, and of selling himself to the administration. The time had not arrived for them, with their former political teachings and affiliations, to think of the rebellion as treason against the general Government, and as a confederation for the destruction of the Federal Union. So, without intimating what he should do, he talked to them as though they were children, arguing in the line of patriotism and duty to one's country, warned them of the fate of traitors, the horrors of civil war, and the consequences of aiding and abetting revolution. He then departed for Washington, promising them his faithful devotion to their best interests and the perpetuity of the Union, assuring them that party ties should not be strong enough to drag any man into treason against his country. He tried to prepare them for what was coming — the severing of party allegiance and enlistment in the army.

To remain at home and be surrounded by all these people, to answer all their questions, to satisfy their curiosity and fault-finding with what was being done in Washington, to interpret the meaning of every move North and South, to keep them as nearly as I could in the channel in which Mr. Logan had adroitly drawn them, was an appalling task. Beset by fears lest I might make a mistake, and the awful foreboding that harm might come to Mr. Logan through the hate of some adventurous spirit whose sympathies were with the South, and the knowledge, too, that my husband would soon join the army and embark in all the hazardous movements and dangerous enterprises of a soldier's life in a fratricidal war made me the most unhappy of women.

My eldest brother, then a young man of twenty, at school at Lebanon, Illinois, suddenly returned home, and before we could prevent him left us to join the Confederate army. He was only two years my junior; we had always been together in our childhood and partners in all the joys and sorrows of life. After my marriage he had been much with us, and loved [92] Mr. Logan devotedly, but in a mad moment he had ruthlessly placed himself in the attitude of an enemy. He was a dashing, thoughtless spirit, and had yielded to an impulse to follow the fate of his college chums who lived South and had gone to their homes at the mandate of their families in different States which had seceded. This brought to my already overburdened heart another overwhelming sorrow. To see the blanched faces and tearful eyes of my dear father and mother as they went about fretting over the impending conflict, with my husband (whom they idolized) and their eldest son in opposing armies, was almost more than I could endure. Time flew rapidly, and Mr. Logan wrote me by every mail (then triweekly) of the progress of events, directing me to prepare the few we could trust for his return and to apprise them of his purpose to raise a regiment immediately upon his arrival.

In the South the seeming restless tide of secession was sweeping everything before it; in the North the timid and doubtful were wavering under the impress always made by success. What would be the result? no one could foretell; all felt the feverish state of the public mind. The spring had come and gone, the summer's heat was on, half the crops had not been planted, and those that had been were not properly cultivated. Wherever one went naught but the din of discussion was heard; every person seemed suspicious of every one else; friction and impatience were rife. The battle of Manassas, or first Bull Run, with its unsatisfactory result had discouraged and disheartened the not over-sanguine, and had made it harder than ever to convince the sympathizers that there was no foundation for the boasted prowess of the Southern soldiers, and that their claim that one Southern man was worth five Northern men was baseless.

Events of the most thrilling character occurred daily, and kept every one in a state of excitement and apprehension. The very thought of civil war carried with it a [93] heart-sickening terror, and completely demoralized the people. Senator Douglas had died very suddenly in Washington, and Mr. Logan was left almost alone to face the excited, reckless people of southern Illinois.

Finally the day arrived upon which Mr. Logan was to reach home. J. H. White, later lieutenant-colonel of the 31st Infantry, which Mr. Logan raised; Mr. Swindell, sheriff of Williamson County; one or two others; and myself had canvassed the county on horseback. Going to the houses of the coolest-headed and most reliable men, we asked them to come to the town of Marion on that day that they might hear Mr. Logan, who was advertised to speak to the people in the public square; also asking them to be ready to protect him or to quell any disturbance should mob violence be attempted if he failed to impress them favorably.

It was one of those hot, dusty days in that semitropical climate when man and beast panted for breath. At an early hour the people began to arrive, and before noon--the hour at which Mr. Logan was due — a surging throng of human beings filled the public square, impatiently watching the road over which he was to drive into town.

Getting into a buggy early that morning, I drove out on the road leading to Carbondale, a station on the Illinois Central Railroad, to meet my husband, who was to come to Marion in a carriage that had been sent to bring him from the train. It was a distance of twenty miles from Marion to Carbondale. I kept driving but did not meet him. Fearing something was wrong, I continued my journey to Carbondale, to learn that the Eastern train on the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad, and the Illinois Central Railroad upon which he was to come had missed connection at the crossing at Odin. There was no possible chance for him to get down until two o'clock the following morning; hence he could not speak until the following day. Appreciating the disappointment it would be to the people of Marion, knowing their inflammable natures, [94] and that many men among them had probably been drinking and were desperate by that time, I knew it was no time to trust a messenger with the simple message that my husband had been detained, but would come the following day, at which time they should return to hear what he had to say. I also wished to consult with the trusted friends we had as to the temper of the people when such numbers were together. I therefore took a fresh horse and drove back to Marion. Many eyes were still peering down the long road, and the moment they spied me coming alone they could hardly wait for me to reach the centre of the square when they gathered around the buggy, stopped the horse, and eagerly cried out: “Where is Logan?” “What is the matter?” “What does this mean?” “We have got to know all about this business,” and many such questions and threats.

Heartsick, frightened, weary with the forty-mile drive, and choking with anxiety and discouragement over the seeming madness of the men, I could only beg them to be quiet; to call Mr. Swindell, the sheriff, that I might explain to him, and that he should stand up in the buggy and tell them all. I saw that many were drunk and muttering vengeance on somebody, and that they did not know what they were doing, and I was almost in despair. Very soon Mr. Swindell, a tall, distinguished-looking man, with a fine face, blue eyes as gentle as any woman's, and at the same time full of moral courage and coolness, came to me and I briefly told him the facts: that it was purely an accident occasioned by a delay on the then badly managed road. He stood up on the seat of the buggy and addressed the surging multitude, appealing to their manhood, their sense of right and propriety. He besought them to go home and go to sleep; to quiet down, and to come back by two o'clock on the following day when Logan, their leader and best friend, would be there and would tell them everything. He told them that, as they valued their liberty, their homes, and their country, it behooved them to follow [95] him wherever he should go; that he had more at stake than they had; that all that he or they held dear was in the balance against anarchy and rebellion; that they and their posterity would reap the consequences of their sowing; that they knew that his all was at stake with them, and that he, personally, was ready to join Logan with all he had in whatever move Logan said would bring peace to the distracted country, without which they could expect nothing for themselves or their children. Many were deeply affected and did as he suggested, departing for their homes; others manifested an ugly spirit and continued their wrangling and dissipation, making threats, and in many ways causing me great solicitude.

When the crowd had dispersed I drove to my father's home, and, after consulting with our friends, I decided to take another horse and drive back to Carbondale to meet my husband, so that I could have a chance to tell him everything — the exact position of every man in the town, and of many who were in the country; to be able to give him the benefit of what we had done; and suggest to him what we considered the safest line in which he could move. It was a bright moonlight night, and, as it was before the day of tramps, I was not afraid to go alone, although I should not arrive in Carbondale before midnight. In those days the produce was freighted across the country to the railroad in large wagons, forming sometimes quite a train of ten or a dozen together. The drivers camped at the side of the road, parking their teams, sleeping in their wagons, building fires to cook their food and make their coffee — the men sometimes sitting up late, playing cards and telling stories. If one was alone on the highway and had to pass one of these camps, they presented rather a weird appearance, and in times of such excitement it was quite enough to startle the nerves of a weak woman. Driving along the road with a dense forest on either side, and seeing that at the sound of the approaching vehicle some of the men walked out toward the road as if they intended [96] to stop the horse, or at least to know who was passing at so late an hour; fearing that they might not recognize me, and greatly frightened, my heart fluttered like a leaf in a gale of wind. Fortunately they knew me and also my horse, and they called out: “Where are you going — has anything happened?” I halted long enough to tell them, and they expressed regret that I had undertaken so lonely a journey and that none of them could leave their teams, as they were then returning to Marion with valuable freight, or they would not let me continue alone. I bade them good night and hurried on, congratulating myself upon my good fortune. I reached Carbondale two hours before Mr. Logan arrived. It was two o'clock A. M. before his train halted at the Illinois Central depot.

We were both weary and half-sick from fatigue, anxiety, and loss of sleep. We went to the hotel, and, as quickly as he could get away from the many who had been waiting for him, we retired to our room to rest till seven in the morning, when we must go to Marion to meet the crowd that would be waiting impatiently for him. There was no sleep for either of us, so anxious were we both. Events of such grave character had happened since we parted early in April, that it seemed ages since we had been together. The unknown was before us. A more or less reckless people surrounded us, all of them unreasonable in their expectation of what Mr. Logan could do; some going so far as to aver that he could have secured the adoption of the Crittenden compromise if he had tried, forgetting that Crittenden, Douglas, Caleb Gushing, and the oldest and ablest men in the nation had been unable to get anything done in the way of compromise. His former closest friends were the worst secessionists. Our families were much divided, and we felt that we could trust only each other. He had resolved to enter the army for the war with no alternative but to leave me to do the best I could; and, at the same time, to try to sustain my father and mother (my eldest [97] brother, as before stated, having joined the Confederate army) and those who might be left alone should their husbands, fathers, or brothers volunteer to go with him. Not knowing what fate awaited us, we drove over the familiar road with sad hearts, feeling it was our only opportunity to be alone, or to talk over the plans for the present or the future.

As we approached Marion the people began to gather about the buggy, cheering and shouting their welcome to General Logan; crowding so near to grasp his hand that it was almost impossible for the horse we were driving to move. He assured them he would speak to them at two o'clock. It was then almost noon, and he had to go home long enough to remove the dust of travel from his clothing and to get his dinner. The very crowd was enough to alarm one; they were so excited-seemingly on the verge of violent demonstration. When the hour arrived, he came to me and begged me on no account to go into the street. He felt that there might be trouble, and assured me he should be unnerved if he thought I was in the crowd, should mob violence seize the half-crazed people. I gave my promise, with a mental reservation not to keep it; as I determined to be near him whatever happened, thinking by a disguise in dress and keeping behind him (as he was to speak standing in a wagon in the public square) that I could watch the actions of one or two persons who had made threats of a personal assault upon him should he declare for war or attempt to raise a regiment. I felt sure I could at least scream should they move toward him with evil intent.

I waited until he was gone and soon followed, keeping out of his sight, but where I could see him and every movement made toward him. I trembled in every limb, my head swam, and I dared not speak to any one, though surrounded by acquaintances who once were friends. He mounted the wagon, and, after waving salutation to the throng who surrounded him, he began to speak in a voice so clear and with such [98] volume that every person, even those farthest from him on the outside of the crowd, could hear him distinctly. In a few moments a deathlike stillness prevailed; the most turbulent spirit in the crowd was as quiet as the dead. You could hear only his sonorous voice as he with great deliberation pictured the situation of affairs, the inevitable consequences of rebellion against the Government should the theory of secession prevail; telling them at what cost of blood and treasure the republic had been established, and how certainly liberty would be forfeited and anarchy reign were the Union once dissolved. Step by step he led them on for nearly two hours, intensity and earnestness depicted in every lineament of his face, his bright black eyes gleaming with emotion, every gesture emphasizing the truthfulness of his remarks, and his earnestness carrying conviction. The effect upon his hearers was magical. They were swayed by his eloquence until they fairly re-echoed his utterances. Toward the close he said: “The time has come when a man must be for or against his country, not for or against his State. How long could one State stand up against another, or two or three States against others? The Union once dissolved, we should have innumerable confederacies and rebellions. I, for one, shall stand or fall for this Union, and shall this day enroll for the war. I want as many of you as will to come with me. If you say ‘No,’ and see your best interests and the welfare of your homes and your children in another direction, may God protect you.”

There was an old fifer, six feet four inches tall, and very large in proportion, in the crowd. He had been a fifer in the same regiment with Mr. Logan in the Mexican War. We had seen him previously, and he had promised to come and bring his fife, and at a signal from J. H. White was to go up to Mr. Logan, give him his hand as a volunteer, and then was to play a patriotic air on his fife, whereat Mr. White and a few others were to step in line and start the volunteering. Mr. Logan did not know that Sanders, the fifer, was to be [99] there, or that he was to lead off in that way, and when he saw the herculean figure of his old comrade striding through the crowd, making for him, he lost control of his feelings and wept like a child. It is needless to add that through my own tears I witnessed the most affecting scene that had ever occurred in that or any other town. At the sound of Sanders's fife and the beating of an old drum of Gabriel Cox, who was a member of the drum corps of the same regiment in which Mr. Logan served in the Mexican War, and whom Mr. White and Captain Looney, who was elected captain of the company, and other friends had hunted up, Mr. Logan jumped down from the wagon, stepped into the line that was speedily filling up, one after another “falling in” (my friend the teamster who had frightened me so two nights before being among the very first), gave the command, “Forward, march!” and started around the square, followed by one hundred and ten men, as good and true as ever carried musket. All were enrolled for “three years, or during the war.” There was scarcely a dry eye in the whole crowd. The ugly spirits who a few hours before were boasting and threatening all sorts of bloody deeds had hied themselves to safer quarters till the volunteers were out of town. The company enlisted on that day, the 19th of August, 1861, afterward became Company A of the gallant 31st, which Colonel Logan recruited and commanded till after the battle of Fort Donelson, where he won his star.

Those were trying times when the knowledge that one's husband had enlisted for the war and a hundred others had joined him brought to the heart a feeling of relief and respite from fear lest he might be the victim of an assassin or a mob. That one should construe such a dernier ressort as a guarantee for the preservation of life and the protection of homes seems an anomaly, but such was the condition of things that from that hour we hoped for the best, and felt relieved from cruel suspense and agonizing forebodings. [100]

Colonel Logan was so absorbed with the details of raising his regiment, and so sure that southern Illinois would be true to the Union, that he seemed almost happy, keeping me busy driving back and forth between Carbondale, the telegraph station on the Illinois Central Railroad, and other points where he went to recruit the ten companies of which his regiment was composed. He would not trust any one else to send or receive the despatches he was constantly sending and receiving from the governor and adjutant-general of the State, who was at Springfield, the capital of the State, and the Secretary of War, at Washington, D. C. Consequently and fortunately, I had but little time to think of the future and all that it might hold for me.

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