NP: October 14, 1864 The Bedford Inquirer: 76th PA and McClellan, September 21, 1864

   

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in October 1864

ARMY CORRESPONDENCE

M’CLELLAN IN THE ARMY,

A Correction-A Soldier on Peace.

HEADQUARTERS 76TH P[ENNSYLVANI]A. VOL[UNTEER]S.
IN THE FIELD BEFORE PETERSBURG VA.
Sept. 21st, 1864.

DEAR INQUIRER.—Although I have nothing of great interest to communicate, yet I wish to occupy a small place in your columns. A few days since a Bedford Gazette1 made its appearance in our midst, and in it I see a communication written over the letter H, from the 76th P[ennsylvani]a. Vol[unteer]s., and for the sake of simple truth I wish to correct one of the frequent misinterpretations contained therein.

In the first place he states that he wrote on a day of great rejoicing among the troops of this command over the announcement that McClellan was nominated, as candidate on the Democratic ticket for President at the coming election.

Now I do not wish to dictate to any man, who elects to do as he pleases, in exercising his right of suffrage, but to say that the army is rejoiced over the nomination of McClellan, is, as far as public rejoicing is concerned, utterly FALSE, and I can call four-fifths of this brigade to witness, have never heard any rejoicing, not even a single man, as far as I know, and if any cheering was done it was done within the rebel entrenchments, in our front.

Now in the name of good sense, can it be possible that a soldier who has served in the army for three years, and borne all the dire privations and suffering, run the risks of a score of battles will support a man or a cause that is willing, yes begging his enemies, traitors in arms, who have fought him in a score of battles, to come back into the Union, and will compound with his most deadly enemies, in treason, and would place the humiliating spectacle before the world of an army, the mightiest in arms, and numbers, and of late the most successful, that ever trod the earth, after shedding rivers of blood, coming down to beg its enemies to come back and all the bloodshed, and the gallant dead, be sold them in a miserable compromise, for peace, and they to prescribe their own terms. It is the most ignominious and humiliating thought that could be entertained. We all espoused the cause of the government in the day when it was attacked by traitors and believing, as we do now, that he who stood aloof and would not support it, was and is a traitor, and if there is any man insane enough, or who is now convinced the government is wrong, and to take pleas with its enemies, why in all reason don’t he go into their lines and take up arms in accordance with his convictions. That is my opinion, and I think every sane man’s also.

I speak generally, but that Lincoln is “played out” is a fact that I never knew, and I am a member of the 10th Army Corps “near Petersburg Va.” McClellan may, speaking with all allowance, get a small vote with the army, but Lincoln is the man for the Army and Navy of the United States, and we want no better commander, and to say that the Army before Petersburg is jubilant at McClellan’s nomination, is a libel the most dishonorable, and for one I would feel outraged in having my people believe it, for I hold that as a soldier, we want a war man, and if we are following our own conviction in sustaining the government, we don’t want to be defeated, and in view of all the suffering, bloodshed, desolated homes, sorrowing families, murdered comrades, and above all the justice of our cause. What man could say compromise but a craven, a coward, or an avowed enemy of his country.

All is quiet and we have beautiful weather.

Very Respectfully,

I[SAIAH]. H. RAWLINS2, Sergt. Major.3

SOPO Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Roy Gustrowsky.

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Article Image

18641014BedfordPAInquirerP1C5

Source/Notes:

  1. SOPO Editor’s Note: The Bedford Gazette was the Democrat paper in town while this paper, the Bedford Inquirer, was the Republican paper.
  2. SOPO Editor’s Note: A quick look at the field and staff for the 76th Pennsylvania shows that Sergeant Major Rawlins’ first name was Isaiah.
  3. “Army Correspondence.” The Bedford Inquirer, October 14, 1864, p. 1, col. 5

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa Jeffers Fulton August 10, 2020 at 11:57 am

Brett,

I really enjoyed Major Rawlins’ rip-roaring letter-to-the-editor, his staunch support of Lincoln and the war, and his belief that “if any cheering was done it was done within the rebel entrenchments.” Naturally, I had to see if my “rebels in the trenches” were cheering.

In my collection of letters, it is usually Henry Jeffers, if anyone, who remarks on politics; however, he was very sick in a Richmond hospital just at this time, and did not write about the presidential nominations. His younger brother Thomas, however, did send his thoughts about the northern candidates to his father (who was at home in Edgefield District, SC, very close to Georgia). Here is the excerpt.

“Chisolmville SC Sept 19th 1864

My Dear Pa

…In regard to the coming Presidential election we need hope for no good results from that quarter as it is evidently the intention of McClellan, if elected, to carry on the war vigorously, and we are already aware of the fact that such is the intention of Mr Abe Lincoln. Consequently I must repeat, that without being discouraged, there are dark clouds hovering about the horizon of our little Confederacy, which I am afraid we will be some time dispensing. We may possibly succeed in a successful defense of Richmond, yet I would much prefer to sacrifice even that point, than allow Sherman to make any further advances, as he has already penetrated the very heart of the Confederacy, and I suppose you are all now on the lookout for a raiding party from his Army…”

As I go through the letters, I perceive Henry to be stout-hearted, always trying to rally his family’s morale. Thomas is stout-hearted enough, too, having fought in all those battles in Virginia, and just survived the Battle of Johns Island – but Thomas would confide his more clear-sighted premonitions to his father. He seems to say that at this point he would prefer that South Carolinians abandon Richmond than to see Sherman advance through their own state.

All three of the Jeffers brothers worried a lot about not being there to defend their family if the enemy came through the district.

Brett Schulte August 10, 2020 at 1:35 pm

Lisa,

Interesting take from Thomas. I have admittedly not looked much at what Confederate soldiers on the front lines at Richmond and Petersburg thought of McClellan. I would have assumed they would support McClellan if anyone, just given the fact that they KNEW Lincoln would press on 100%.

Brett

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