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The village of Hampton, Va., near Fort Monroe was burned by Confederate forces under Brig. Gen. John Bankhead Magruder in operations against Butler’s Federal forces. Magruder said he had learned Butler had intended to use the town for what he called “runaway slaves” and what Butler called “contraband.” Butler claimed the few residents remaining were given fifteen minutes to leave and that it was a “wanton act.”

Federal authorities ordered the construction of seven special ironclad gunboats of a new type from James B. Eads of St. Louis for operation on western waters. These, along with some converted steamers, were to become the backbone of the Union river flotilla.

Aug. 7-10 there was a small Federal expedition from Cape Girardeau, operating Pierce’s Landing, Commerce, Benton, and Hamburg, Mo.

— E.B. Long with Barbara Long, The Civil War Day By Day Almanac: 1861-1865 (Doubleday & Co., 1971)

see HiLoBrow.com for more on Robert Penn Warren’s novel, and Raoul Walsh’s film Band of Angels.

The Federal Congress adjourned after approving all acts, orders, and proclamations of the President concerning the Army and Navy issd after March 4, 1861. Mr. Lincoln was at the Capitol to sign bills, including one freeing slaves employed or used by Confederates in arms or labor against the United States, and another establishing increased pay for the private soldier. He hesitated, but signed the first act that confiscated property used for purposes of insurrection against the nation.

As a Kentucky congressman declared in the House that Kentucky was still firmly in the Union near Lexington a pro-Union camp named Dick Robinson was established over the protest of the pro-secessionists and neutralists.

— E.B. Long with Barbara Long, The Civil War Day By Day Almanac: 1861-1865 (Doubleday & Co., 1971)

see HiLoBrow.com for more on Jelly Roll Morton and Alan Lomax.


To Mary Ellen McLellan

[Washington] Friday [c.  October 11, 1861]

Yesterday rode to Chain Bridge, thence to Upton’s Hill & did not get back until after dark.

I can’t tell you how disgusted I am becoming with these wretched politicians— they are a most despicable set of men & I think Seward is the meanest of them all— a meddling, officious, incompetent little puppy— he has done more than any other one man to bring all this misery upon the country & is one of the least competent to get us out of the scrape. The Presdt is nothing more than a well meaning baboon. Welles is weaker than the most garrulous old woman you were ever annoyed by. Bates is a good inoffensive old man— so it goes— only keep these complimentary opinions to yourself, or you may get me into premature trouble. I believe I choked off Seward already— & have strong hopes that he will keep himself to his own business hereafter….

from The Civil War Papers of George B. McLellan: Selected Correspondence 1860-1865, edited by Stephen Sears (Ticknor & Fields, 1989)

To Mrs. Susanna Weathers

Executive Mansion, Washington, Dec. 4, 1861

My Dear Madam

I take great pleasure in acknowledging the receipt of your letter of Nov. 26; and in thanking you for the present by which it was accompanied. A pair of socks so fine, and soft, and warm, could hardly have been manufactured in any other way than the old Kentucky fashion. Your letter informs me that your maiden name was Crume, and that you were raised in Washington county, Kentucky, by which I infer that an uncle of mine by marriage was a relative of yours. Nearly, or quite sixty years ago, Ralph Crume married Mary Lincoln, a sister of my father, in Washington county, Kentucky.

Accept my thanks, and believe me   Very truly   Your friend

A. Lincoln

from Abraham Lincoln: Speeches And Writings 1859-1865, Don E. Fehrenbacher, editor, Library of America

“Come on. Big village. Be quick. Bring pack. P.S. Bring pacs.” — Lt. Col. George A. Custer, June 25, 1876


Visit Cypress Hills National Cemetery

A fat blond beast of a desk sergeant throwing himself at the feet of a thin, crippled, red-haired lush worker: sparse red hair, the junky gray felt hat which leaves a line on his forehead when he takes it off– it is that tight. So thos cop comes down from the rostrum of his desk and grovels at the feet of this skinny little middle-aged lush worker known as Red from Brooklyn, to distinguish him from another Red, who has no such definite and particularizing place of residence. Red shrinks back, expecting to get worked over.

“Red!” A horrible sound of defeat, a sordid battle fought and lost in a psyche as bleak as a precinct cell. “Reddie Boy!” He makes a kissking bite for Red’s shoe. Red retreats again.

“Now, Lieutenant! I didn’t so much as put my hand out.”

The sergeant jumps up like a great albino toad. He reaches out and grabs the trembling lush worker by the coat lapels.

“Lieutenant! Listen to me. I didn’t.”

“Reddie Boy! He throws his fat but powerful arms around Red, pinioning both of Red’s arms. He runs one hand up behind Red’s neck, kisses him brutally, repeatedly…”

— from Interzone (New York: Viking, 1989)

In the States, senators, mayors, governors, and local dignitaries all graved the various head tables. The New York gathering invited President James Buchanan to attend but he turned them down because of the press of public duties. He managed to send a message: “Poor Burns. I have always deplored his sad fate. He has ever been a favorite of mine. The child of genius and of misfortune, he is read everywhere and by all classes throughout the extent of our country, and his natural pathos has reached all hearts.” The Washington D.C., Burns club also invited Buchanan to attend and received a similar reply.

The Burns Club of New York City invited Reverend [H.W.] Beecher to speak, and the crowd filled the twenty-five-hundred eat Cooper Institute— the same locale where Lincoln would charm his first eastern audience a year later— to overflowing. In his oration, Beecher noted that half the civilized world, plus the entire community of belle lettres, had come together that evening to celebrate a farmer’s son who had taken the message of Scotland “into the world.” Noting that Burns had almost emigrated to the West Indies, he scoffed at the idea that the bard could have followed a gang of slaves, whip in hand, while chanting “A man’s a man for a’ that” at which the audience applauded. Beecher closed with the observation, “As for his faults, let them be forgotten.”

— form Ferenc Morton Szasz, Abraham Lincoln, Robert Burns: Connected Lives and Legends (Southern Illinois University Press, 2008)


Kenny Wisdom adds: Dick Gaughan, whoa! And speaking of Brooklyn and poetry,what about Marsden Hartley?

While the brilliance of his photography is deservedly well known, Gordon Parks‘ film career is, Shaft aside, yet underrated and under seen. The Learning Tree (1969) does right by Kansan beauty and oppression alike and, if The Super Cops (1974) isn’t The French Connection (not that it could be, given the differences of their source material),until someone makes a movie about Henry Thomas or John Lee “Sonny Boy” WilliamsonLeadbelly (1976) is better than any musical biopic I know

Brooklyn-native Kenny Wisdom comes in on cue


Find out why and— for the first time ever— exactly where Agee lived in Brooklyn, and his previously unremarked connection to Notorious B.I.G. at HiLoBrow.com.

“Or that great range of brick and browstone north of Fulton which in each two blocks falls upon more and more bad fortune…” — Agee

“If I’m pimpin on the F with weed on my breath…” — Biggie

Through all this time in New York, which [Branch] RIckey is trying to change America, there are eight large daily newspapers. The true calling of news reporting was to reach into the sky and try to change some of the sour patches of earth beneath. It never happened. A few Southern editors stood up for blacks, and their actions were so monumental that these men are still known today— Ralph McGill of Atlanta and Hodding Carter of Mississippi, and Harry Ashmore of Little Rock, to name the most obvious. Hugo Geronimo of the Durham Herald-Sun, Smith Barrier of the Greensboro, North Carolina, Daily News, and Frank Spencer of the Winston-Salem Journal believed that [Jackie] Robinson was at least a human being and wrote about him as such.

No white editor in the North became a civil rights legend because no white in the North wanted anything to do with it.

— Jimmy Breslin, from Branch Rickey (Viking, 2011)


The Sports Desk adds: first came Jackie and then, in 1948, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe.

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