Chapter 16: the Civil war, 1860-1865.
- The outbreak of Civil war. -- Mrs. Stowe's son enlists. -- Thanksgiving day in Washington. -- the proclamation of emancipation. -- Rejoicings in Boston. -- Fred Stowe at Gettysburg. -- leaving Andover and settling in Hartford. -- a reply to the women of England. -- letters from John bright, Archbishop Whately, and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Immediately after Mrs. Stowe's return from Europe, it became only too evident that the nation was rapidly and inevitably drifting into all the horrors of civil war. To use her own words:
It was God's will that this nation — the North as well as the South--should deeply and terribly suffer for the sin of consenting to and encouraging the great oppressions of the South; that the ill-gotten wealth, which had arisen from striking hands with oppression and robbery, should be paid back in the taxes of war; that the blood of the poor slave, that had cried so many years from the ground in vain, should be answered by the blood of the sons from the best hearthstones through all the free States; that the slave mothers, whose tears nobody regarded, should have with them a great company of weepers, North and South,--Rachels weeping for their children and refusing to be comforted; that the free States, who refused to listen when they were told of lingering starvation, cold, privation, and barbarous cruelty, as perpetrated on  the slave, should have lingering starvation, cold, hunger, and cruelty doing its work among their own sons, at the hands of these slave-masters, with whose sins our nation had connived.Mrs. Stowe spoke from personal experience, having seen her own son go forth in the ranks of those who first responded to the President's call for volunteers. He was one of the first to place his name on the muster-roll of Company A of the First Massachusetts Volunteers. While his regiment was still at the camp in Cambridge, Mrs. Stowe was called to Brooklyn on important business, from which place she writes to her husband under the date June 11, 1861:--
Yesterday noon Henry (Ward Beecher) came in, saying that the Commonwealth, with the First (Massachusetts) Regiment on board, had just sailed by. Immediately I was of course eager to get to Jersey City to see Fred. Sister Eunice said she would go with me, and in a few minutes she, Hatty, Sam Scoville, and I were in a carriage, driving towards the Fulton Ferry. Upon reaching Jersey City we found that the boys were dining in the depot, an immense building with many tracks and platforms. It has a great cast-iron gallery just under the roof, apparently placed there with prophetic instinct of these times. There was a crowd of people pressing against the grated doors, which were locked, but through which we could see the soldiers. It was with great difficulty that we were at last permitted to go inside, and that object seemed to be greatly aided by a bit of printed satin that some man gave Mr. Scoville. When we were in, a vast area of gray caps and  blue overcoats was presented. The boys were eating, drinking, smoking, talking, singing, and laughing. Company A was reported to be here, there, and everywhere. At last S. spied Fred in the distance, and went leaping across the tracks towards him. Immediately afterwards a blue-overcoated figure bristling with knapsack and haversack, and looking like an assortment of packages, came rushing towards us. Fred was overjoyed, you may be sure, and my first impulse was to wipe his face with my handkerchief before I kissed him. He was in high spirits, in spite of the weight of blue overcoat, knapsack, etc., etc., that he would formerly have declared intolerable for half an hour. I gave him my handkerchief and Eunice gave him hers, with a sheer motherly instinct that is so strong within her, and then we filled his haversack with oranges. We stayed with Fred about two hours, during which time the gallery was filled with people, cheering and waving their handkerchiefs. Every now and then the band played inspiriting airs, in which the soldiers joined with hearty voices. While some of the companies sang, others were drilled, and all seemed to be having a general jollification. The meal that had been provided was plentiful, and consisted of coffee, lemonade, sandwiches, etc. On our way out we were introduced to the Rev. Mr. Cudworth, chaplain of the regiment. He is a finelooking man, with black eyes and hair, set off by a white havelock. He wore a sword, and Fred, touching it, asked, “ Is this for use or ornament, sir?” “ Let me see you in danger,” answered the chaplain, “and you'll find out.”  I said to him I supposed he had had many an one confided to his kind offices, but I could not forbear adding one more to the number. He answered, “ You may rest assured, Mrs. Stowe, I will do all in my power.” We parted from Fred at the door. He said he felt lonesome enough Saturday evening on the Common in Boston, where everybody was taking leave of somebody, and he seemed to be the only one without a friend, but that this interview made up for it all. I also saw young Henry. Like Fred he is mysteriously changed, and wears an expression of gravity and care. So our boys come to manhood in a day. Now I am watching anxiously for the evening paper to tell me that the regiment has reached Washington in safety.In November, 1862, Mrs. Stowe was invited to visit Washington, to be present at a great thanksgiving dinner provided for the thousands of fugitive slaves who had flocked to the city. She accepted the invitation the more gladly because her son's regiment was encamped near the city, and she should once more see him. He was now Lieutenant Stowe, having honestly won his promotion by bravery on more than one hardfought field. She writes of this visit:--
 During the darkest and most bitter period of the Civil War, Mrs. Stowe penned the following letter to the Duchess of Argyll:--
Later in the year we hear again from her son in the army, and this time the news comes in a chaplain's letter from the terrible field of Gettysburg. He writes:-- 
The wound in the head was not fatal, and after weary months of intense suffering it imperfectly healed; but the cruel iron had too nearly touched the brain of the young officer, and never again was he what he had been. Soon after the war his mother bought a plantation in Florida, largely in the hope that the out-of-door life connected with its management might be beneficial to her afflicted son. He remained on it for several years, and then, being possessed with the idea that a long sea voyage would do him more good than anything else, sailed from New York to San Francisco around the Horn. That he reached the latter city in  safety is known; but that is all. No word from him or concerning him has ever reached the loving hearts that have waited so anxiously for it, and of his ultimate fate nothing is known. Meantime, the year 1863 was proving eventful in many other ways to Mrs. Stowe. In the first place, the long and pleasant Andover connection of Professor Stowe was about to be severed, and the family were to remove to Hartford, Conn. They were to occupy a house that Mrs. Stowe was building on the bank of Park River. It was erected in a grove of oaks that had in her girlhood been one of Mrs. Stowe's favorite resorts. Here, with her friend Georgiana May, she had passed many happy hours, and had often declared that if she were ever able to build a house, it should stand in that very place. Here, then, it was built in 1863, and as the location was at that time beyond the city limits, it formed, with its extensive, beautiful groves, a particularly charming place of residence. Beautiful as it was, however, it was occupied by the family for only a few years. The needs of the growing city caused factories to spring up in the neighborhood, and to escape their encroachments the Stowes in 1873 bought and moved into the house on Forest Street that has ever since been their Northern home. Thus the only house Mrs. Stowe ever planned and built for herself has been appropriated to the use of factory hands, and is now a tenement occupied by several families. Another important event of 1863 was the publishing of that charming story of Italy, “Agnes of Sorrento,” which had been begun nearly four years before. This story suggested itself to Mrs. Stowe while she was  abroad during the winter of 1859-60. The origin of the story is as follows: One evening, at a hotel in Florence, it was proposed that the various members of the party should write short stories and read them for the amusement of the company. Mrs. Stowe took part in this literary contest, and the result was the first rough sketch of “Agnes of Sorrento.” From this beginning was afterwards elaborated “Agnes of Sorrento,” with a dedication to Annie Howard, who was one of the party. Not the least important event of the year to Mrs. Stowe, and the world at large through her instrumentality, was the publication in the Atlantic monthly of her reply to the address of the women of England. The “reply” is substantially as follows:--
The publication of this reply elicited the following interesting letter from John Bright:--
It also called forth from Archbishop Whately the following letter:--
 Among the many letters written from this side of the Atlantic regarding the reply, was one from Nathaniel Hawthorne, in which he says:--