John Ballou Newbrough.

The fall of Fort Sumter, or, Love and war in 1860-61 online

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LOVE AND WAR IN 1860-61.

" By The Private Secretary to , etc."



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1S67,


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern Distrlot

of New York.




Just before the war, our country was almost without news. We were obliged
to make the most of everything, in order to have excitement enough to live on.
Many cultivated, rich, and ease-loving gentlemen used to spend their time in
the National Capitol, and, to while away that time, as the over-full enjoyment went
on, they were put to many straits for something to talk of.

In the summer of 1857, a party — myself among others — established a select
court, criminal, civil, and elite. The whole object and end, however, of this court,
was to amuse and interest ourselves. We had a definite organization, and seldom
varied from the established rules of an ordinary court. We had for our judge a
portly man of about fifty — the most eccentric, good-natured, well-informed kind of
fool you ever saw ; more of a gentleman than Falstaff — less a drinker ; more of a
wit — less a knave : and, as Jenkins says, about the same to America that Falstaff
was to England.

Jenkins, whose real name was Rumor, and who fashions the bulk of this history,
had been for many years a reporter ; but, having recently come into the possession
of a fortune, no longer followed his pursuit, except for amusement. Rumor had
it, too, that about the time referred to he was in love with the Judge's niece, after-
wards well known by the battles in the neighborhood of Loudon Heights.

The other members of our court constituted the jury, plaintiffs, defendants, wit-
nesses, et cetera. As you will perceive, if you read this history far enough, our
court had also to do with courtships and marriages, and did really have contact
with the outside world as much as was generally supposed at that period. I
continued a member of this court until the war broke out, and then, being a
Northerner, I withdrew, taking no further interest in the matter, only so far that I
always remembered with great joy the pleasant hours I had passed. During all
this long war, I was left entirely to my own conjectures about my former com-
panions, and of their whereabouts. Neither did I know who, since that time,
had taken charge of the marriages and courtships that were the life of Wash-
ington. pT <% Q fl i k


One day, not long ago, Jenkins, that is to say, Rumor, came into my office, and I
was right glad to see him. He said lie was broke — dead broke— and indeed he
looked a good deal discouraged ; bul I gave him wine, and he rallied rapidly. When
he was himself again, he said I was the cleverest man he ever knew, and that I
might as easily get a monument to my greatness as any one, if I would only fix
up his notes and publish them: for, he said, they contained not only the full his-
tory of the rebellion, but all the fashions, marriages, and courtships during the whole
lour years. I gave him more wine, and he said I was a good-looking man, and
that no other should have the privilege in so great a work as that he was going to offer
me, and that was, that when I was dead and gone my picture should be in the
frontispiece. lie unfolded a large bundle of papers and handed me a large basket-
ful beside. " Good Lord," said I, " must I rewrite all these, in order to be great ? "
But he smiled, and said, " You, sir, that have read all languages ; that have trav-
elled all over the world ; that have studied and labored for thirty years in literature ;
that know all men and value them so highly ; that look from your aerial posi-
tion ; (I am very tall) you, to talk of all these ? "

When he tumbled out the basketful, I saw that the manuscripts were in phono-
graphic characters, and told him I could not decipher them. But he said he would
furnish me an interpreter, and all I had to do was to write. I thought I would give
him another glass of wine, which, when he had finished it, he pronounced excellent,
and then he went on,

" Who wrote the best history of England ? Shakespeare. Who the best of
Scotland ? Scott. And we all know who wrote the best history of knight errantry.
They dealt in love affairs, and you know we prize them first. Now I will venture
to say that there is not a man or woman this side of Jersey who does not feel a
tingle of joy on learning the finale of some spirited amour ; and, for that reason
I want you to salt these things down."

With that he tossed them into my arms, saying, " You know one of the rules of the
club was that no member could refuse to do what was ordered by a superior."
I took them, and he immediately translated a portion to me, beginning with the
session of the Chicago convention. Now if you will be kind enough to read what
follows, you will learn the things that Jenkins wrote.




About twenty of us were waiting in the
office, and about forty others outside. "We
were waiting for news from the Chicago
Convention. I did not know at that time
who Rhett was, but was told afterwards
that he was editor and proprietor of the
Charleston Mercury. "Whilst the talk was
going on in the office, I heard a Mr.
Jones ask how far it was to Chicago.
The conversation turned on politics, and a
Mr. Smith became engaged in angry words
with Jones. The latter said he was in
favor of freedom in the Territories, and the
former thereupon accused him of saying " a
nigger is as good as a white man." It
was like all political rows, beginning in
calm argument, but ending in violence and
shame. Then came the flourish of weapons,
knives and pistols.

At this instant Rhett and Johnson
rushed upon them. Rhett said, " Gentle-
men, what would you do ? Must such
trifling words incite you to deeds of
blood ? " He took Smith, and Johnson
took Jones, and they were bearing them
back, when Smith said, " What, shall he
deride my native state?" Jones replied,
" I did not." " You did ! " says Smith.
" You cast a slur on Breckenridge, and he
and I are Kentuckians." " That is too far-
fetched " said Jones ; but thereupon Smith
tore himself away from Rhett, reiterat-
ing, " Coward, you say a nigger is as good
as a white man." He flew at Jones, but
the crowd interfered and forcibly ejected
him from the office.

As soon as quiet was restored, Rhett
said, " Did ever man take offence so easily ;
did ever man so hastily come to a base
conclusion. A dozen words, and then to
knives and pistols." He then called John-
son, and Johnson said, " Well sir." Rhett
being old, and somewhat excited, leaned
on Johnson's arm, his hand on his shoul-
der, and he facing the crowd, " This is
indeed approaching war," he continued ;
" all men, and on all occasions, meet now,
but to discuss North and South. Brooks
bled poor Sumner for this, and for as
trifling a matter as this between Jones and
Smith. Sumner spoke, Brooks took offence
— not for what Sumner said, but for what

he himself inferred might have been
spoken. Brooks loved offence more than
even justice, and so do we all. We have
had no war for fifty years, and we have
become chronic. The Creator designs
that there shall be a grand upheaval in
this nation. We have not learned to
govern ourselves with mo (ration and
reason, and the scourge of war is already
in embryo in every man's breast. These
trifles which we behold, are but its leak-
ings ; outbreaks preliminary to a mighty

Now, when Rhett began to talk, we
were all silent ; for the wisdom of his
words showed us that we were in the
presence of a superior man. Up to this
time I did not know Johnson, but was
told who he was. He replied to Rhett by
saying, " This is through politicians, and,
like their fellows in all countries, they
have their hobby for electioneering pur-
poses. Like the Prussian kin<;, who told
his subjects that the savages of England
and France were coming, and that they
should at once invest him with absolute
power ; and he promised that if the coun-
try would give him his desire, he would
fill every man's purse with gold, and his
stomach with beer. The opposite party,
however, wishing to retain the parliament,
often came to blows with the king's party,
who invariably retorted to them : '' So, you
say a Frenchman, or an Englishman is as
good as a Dutchman." The king's party
however succeeded, and this style of argu-
ment is still the basis of all politics. In
England, a candidate electioneers by say-
ing he will fill the stomachs of his consti-
tuents ; or by cautioning him that the
infidel French are coming ; or, that the
barbarous Americans need watching. In
the South, we say slavery is wealth, give
us more ; and our op])osite party says a
" negro is as good as a white man." Now
this is all nonsense. These are extreme
and ultra views which no sensible man of
either party endorses. They are political
fabrications. False, for villainous party
purposes only. What we want, Mr. Rhett,
is concession."

" Concession ! dogs ! " said Rhett, " for

Tin. fall of fort sumter ; or,

thirty years we have conceded all to the
North; but, bit. till they get our slaves,
or we gel the government, I Bwear by
heavens, as l am a man, this agitation

shall never cea B. Men like you arc as

detrimental to the whole country as to the

South." " Why, now. look yon," said John-
son, "you are like .lones and Smith; like
Brooks and Sumner. Because I said that
one word, concession, you infer that I am
on the opposite side, and might say some
Ugly things."

" No, sir,'' said Rhett, " I infer nothing,
though the South shall have her rights.
We have done nothing but concede. We
have been battling like dogs for thirty
years to obtain even a decent footing in
the West. Sir, the Free States are usurp-
ing everything. The tide of these a Hairs
will soon rise, till three-quarters of the
States will be free, and then what becomes
of us ? We can thank our stars for poor
Pierce and James Buchanan ; but— suppose
a devil with some shrewd sense be elected
from the North ? That is the gist of our
forebodings. I tell you, Johnson, sooner
than have this country overrun with abo-
litionism, I would have every man, woman
and child in it annihilated." *

Johnson replied that he considered him
one of the greatest agitators in the coun-
try. Rhett denied it. He said he only
wanted the rights of the South guaran-
teed, though ere he replied in full, the
place was thrown into some confusion
by the entrance of Toombs, Floyd, Thomp-
son, Wigfall, Davis, Slidell, Mason, and
Yancey, ami immediately after them came
Gen. Scott leaning on the arm of Prescott.
Johnson said, good humoredly, " Here are
your disciples, only for Scott and Pres-
cott." When he said this, Rhett leaned
over the railing to look at Scott and Pres-
cott, and he asked who that was on whom
Scott was leaning ? " Prescott," said John-
son ; " young Prescott, the son of a wash-
erwoman.'' "The son of a washerwo-
man ! " said Rhett, and he drew down his
eyebrows and scowled. "The son of a
washerwoman ! Well, it is well that poor
men do well in this country ; and it is
ill that they do ill in others. But there
i.; a tide in the affairs of nations, and
'.-.hen it, is at the flood, why, it gets no

" Caesar rose from nothing, but the gods
were insulted, and so great Caesar fell, and
with him his country. Caesars rise out of

* Those wonts were thoneht to be too <rood to bo
lost, and afterwards appeared editorially in the col-
umns of the I harleston Mercury, and were copied into
the New Orleans Tru» l>elta,'am\ with even worse
threats attached to them.

every dunghill in America, and they will
prove the death of us."

Johnson turned to him calmly and said,
" I, sir, am a tailor. I understand the
fashions of a cut. A goose, well tempered,
may smooth a thing, but if it be too hot.
it 1 ui ins. 1 know also there may be sharp
things in a poor garment, and even a goose
may he made to feel the prick of them."

Rhett was thrown completely oil' his
bearings, and he looked at Johnson, sur-
prised at him; but Johnson walked away.
Rhett stood for some time looking titter
him, and then he said : " A tailor, a wash-
erwoman's son ; a pretty pass in this our
great republic. Am I, that am a fair gen-
tleman, bewildered with the things I Bee,
seeing double, both the false and true, as
truth ; or is my native country mad ?
Mad ! It followa now an ape — a common
ape must rise and set its nose for Congress,
learn to take offence and mimic gen-
tlemen. O heavens ! shall never beam the
star of glory on our fair land, and wills
majestic rise to consummate the Southern
Parliament ? Shall not my thirty years of
constant prayer reach up to nini who
notes a sparrow's fall, and answer bring
imperative — no North, no South, but one
united whole; a country's laws for all;
not one the sole inheritor, nor property
devoid of bond up North that is down
South employed ? No, never. Low ambi-
tion rules the land. The loudest clamor-
ing politician sways the universal mob ;
villainous poison is secreted under the
name of Liberty. O Liberty ! I sicken at
thy oft repeated tale ; from my very soul I
hurl thee into endless chaos."

I think he said more, but, at this time,
some bustle occasioned in the office by a
report coming from Chicago, I heard
Cobb say, " You are right, Mr. Rhett." I
have known Cobb for many years. He is
a stoutish man, and often repeats what
others say. He boasts a good deal for a
man of his worth. " You are right, Mr.
Rhett," said he, " those are my senti-
ments ; " and then he added some oaths
that I do not like to mention. Afterwards
he shook hands with Rhett, and con-
tinued, " Our few heads are more powerful
than were all the warriors and philoso-
phers of the Roman Empire. We need
but to rise and shake our fists in the face
of the world, and we shall be the mightiest
of nations. No one dares oppose us ; only
let us stick together and get loose from
these dolts and plebeians that are eternally
robbing us of our rights under the sicken-
ing name of Liberty. They tell us we dare
not secede, wdiat say you ? " and then he
made oath, adding, " It is all gammon,"


using such language that even Rhett and
Davis looked ashamed.*

Despatches were now coming from Chi-
cago announcing Seward's rejection, and
the news interfered with the conversation.
We observed two persons, Madame Pon-
chard, and a man called Orsini entering
the place. They were a mysterious pair.
She was apparently a woman of great
wealth, and he a man of neat and plain
attire, as if he might be only an attendant.
Yet both were reserved, secluded, diffi-
dent. She recognized by nearly all of the
great men present by a polite bow ; lie
unnoticed. As soon as they had passed
indifferently aside, as if to await the news
from Chicago, we were still further inter-
ested by the entrance of another person —
a woman of strange and noticeable mark :
a tall, serene person she was, and of an
age no man might question. She came in
so boldly, and looked around with such
commanding mien, that we all stood still
as if awaiting our doom. " Gentlemen," she
said, " why this silence ? Methought this
bustle and these murmuring voices were
indicative of something terrible, and that
within this noble structure, I heard oaths
so abominable, that the very foundation
of my woman's nature trembled in my
delicate form. But, lo ! how soon is peace
and quiet. How majestically sweet and
humble is man's nature, turned by the pre-
sence of modest, unassuming woman. I
thank my stars, gentlemen, that I have
been the innocent means of assuaging this
raging tumult. These missions are my
errands. I am to redress the wrongs of
woman, and to reform the uncultivated
faults of man's nature. My name is Miss
Lucy Tabiatha Stimpkins."

Thus saying, she drew from her pocket
a bundle of papers and distributed them
amongst us, giving every man one. Some
said it was Donna del Don Quixote ; but
she heeded nothing round her, and went
on speaking, " You will perceive, gentle-
men," she said, " I am just starting a paper
to be entitled ' The Journal of Progress,'
and I am to be the editress. I have long
beheld the down-trodden condition of my
sex, and am prepared for the direst slurs
you may heap upon me for my apparent
boldness. I have heard lectures by our
eminent women on this subject, and I have
resolved to devote the balance of my days
as the champion and adjuster of our
wrongs. You see, too, like the knight of
the Lion heart, as some one of you has
been good enough to compare me, I pitch
into all places of danger, that all men may

* From Cobb's speech at Mobile, 1SGQ.

learn my power — my woman's power. But
not like that knight do I invoke the
power of my lover; for I tell you frankly
I love no man, having been thrice married
and thrice divorced ; but 1 speak to Him
who has power to give to the meek and
lowly according as their just rights de-
mand. Though prayer is nothing without
work. I have put my shoulder to tin;
wheel. My talents are my arms ; my sex
is my shield ; my cause is my Rosinantu.
By this prospectus, gentlemen, you will
see that 1 am the champion of freedom for
all men, and for all women too. You are
thankful for your freedom ; but you un-
doubtedly remember the women of the
days of Lycurgus, how they bared their
breasts and demanded the liberty of their
husbands and brothers, or death. Then
came the republic — the first republic. You
thank those women, and some day your
children and your children's children will
thank us. Not, sirs, that we will bare our
breasts ; " (here some of the crowd said,
" got none to bare ; " but she heeded not,
going on,) " we take a more noble method
of action, and, we trust, more powerful
than the sword. My object will be in the
' Journal of Progress ' to show you that
the abolition of slavery is near at hand ;
to show you that if it be done by war
instead of peace, you have everything
to lose, and nothing to gain ; to show you
that Elihu Burritt, the learned blacksmith,
has demonstrated that you can sell your
slaves into freedom by the sale of western
lands ; to show you that woman comes
among you as a ministering angel, to carry
out the great principles of human liberty.
Now, gentlemen, with this brief statement
on my part, allow me to ask, will you sub-
scribe for the Journal ? "

We all laughed loudly, but she went on,
" Three columns shall be devoted to news
and letters, one to advertisements, twelve
to temperance, sixteen to the abolition of
slavery, and twenty to woman's rights."
When she had got thus far, the whole
office joined in roars of laughter ; but she
was still as calm as before. As soon as
quiet was restored, Rhett replied, " It is
strange, madam, that every person North
runs on these same topics— slavery, tem-
perance, and woman's rights. As soon as
a woman learns to read, she mounts the
rostrum with adjectives numerous, and
topics worn threadbare, not to elevate or
beautify rude man, but to disgust him with
the presence of woman. Miss Lucy Tabi-
atha Stimpkins, I pity you. You have
harped upon these subjects until you are
mad. You are indeed like Don Quixote.
These subjects have made you crazy, and



the result of your crazy-headed lecturing
(a greal deal of exaggeration mixed with

a little truth) will make many, very man;
unhappy persons, especially females. It'
anything makes me hate the North more

than abolitionism it is your species of wo-
men. We have none such amongst us in
the South."

■• Exactly so.*' Baid she. "and to educate
you to that higher sphere of life have I
come among you. I come to bear the
brunt of your reproaches, and I am happy
that my modesty and delicacy do not
quail before you. I belong to that class —
I may BRy race — of unselfish beings who
can view slavery, temperance, and woman's
rights from a holier point of view. Sir,
you pity me, allow me to reciprocate the
sentiment on your revered head."

This was so easily spoken that the crowd
set up another laugh, and some of them
clapped their hands. Rhett rallied, al-
though he showed an inclination to turn
away. " Pity devil,'' said he, " but, since
you have a face bold enough to argue, let
me tell you one thing as a principle in
philosophy — and that is, that so much
boldness of Northern women is proof posi-
tive that man's nature up there has eked
out into woman, and hence the dastardly,
cowardly character of all the members
they send to the national Congress. It is
also the best assurance in the world that
in a few years the South will be entirely the
master of the country."

" I don't argue sir," said she, " I main-
tain my rights. I am champion for others.
You may fight and conquer us, you may
extinguish au army of women, but, sir,
our doctrines, our woman's rights, shall
finally vanquish you. Little girls shall be
taught to know their rights, and, coming
to majority, they will maintain them.
They will make men sue, oblige them to
stand trembling, to know r and do their
pleasure. I look far ahead, sir, to the time
when woman's voice shall ring in yonder
Capitol, and, too, wdien the black man, if
he has talent, shall grace the Senate with
his brilliant tongue."

Here a roar of laughter set in again, and
the poor woman turned and left, protesting
at the top of her voice, that she was but a
poor helpless woman, but that she would
meet them again in after times, with such
editorials as were never put to paper.

As soon as the laugh was over, Rhett,
somewhat excitedly, shouted out. " "Wel-
come war, thrice welcome bloody war.
Our land is Btagnant with peace. Folly is
in the vision of Northern millions, and wel-
come, welcome war!" Cobb rejoined,
" That is my prayer too. This couutry is

rotten," as Hamlet says, "it is rotten, sir.
Fanatics grow out of washtubs. Dyspepsia
is called a medium, a seer of spirits ; a fool-
ish tongue is loosest hung, and random
gab is sit down for sound philosophy.
My heart is bent on war, as Shakespeare
says, ' for bloody war.' I want to see
every Southerner, like Coriolanus, "all
smeared with smoke and blood,' emerging
from the putridity of these vile scenes to
bequeath to coming generations a purer
and holier stock of men. These are my
sentiments, Mr. Rhett, uive us bloody
war." He then stalked about the tele-
graph office like a king, and said he had
seen that day the Prince of Wales, and he
thought the British government better
than ours. " For," he said, " there their
snobs and bootblacks have their ambition
cheeked, nipped in the bud, and it keeps
them in their proper places. "

But, when he had got thus far he was
confronted by Prescott, Scott having pre-
viously gone out. " Why, how is that,
Mr. Cobb ? " said Prescott, " you would
not quell ambition ? "

" Yes I would," said Cobb, " I would
wipe it out of human nature."

" Then," said Prescott, " I am happy
that you did not construct mankind. Am-
bition for wealth, knowledge, ease, or
even luxury, has lifted the common
people of this country to a higher point
of excellence than in any other."

" At the expense of people of higher
birth," said Cobb.

Prescott replied, " I cannot deal with
theory— only tacts. But, sir, I never knew
before the cause of your own deterioration
in moral and mental acquirements."

When he put this witticism upon Cobb,
the latter said, " Do you say a nigger is as
good as a white man ? Must I stand and
hear a man blackguard my own State ?
You should know, sir, that we have such a
thing down South as chivalry, and it loves

" Liberty ! " said Prescott. " Oh Liberty !
how much men ask in thy poor name.
Why, sir, you have liberty. You make
your own laws, and you unmake, them at
your pleasure. Even have you liberty to
enslave others and to use them at your
pleasure, and yet you plead for liberty.
You are indeed very chivalrous. You
come up North and make us catch your
runaway slaves and carry them to you.
You killed Northern men who entered
Kansas, because they brought no slaves

Online LibraryJohn Ballou NewbroughThe fall of Fort Sumter, or, Love and war in 1860-61 → online text (page 1 of 31)