Saturday, December 26, 2009

Excerpts From the Journal of Horace Purdy, Danbury, February 13th - March 5th, 1861

These excerpts from the journal of Horace Purdy (Wooster Guards/1st Conn. Vols.) deal with the final determination of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, and some of the rumors involving him inauguration. Also included here are some more interesting occurrences in the town of Danbury. Fires and deaths (mainly from the Smallpox) are common throughout the diary and remind us how much times have changed with childhood vaccines, modern elctricity and firefighting equipment, and instantaneous news sources.

Wednesday February 13th 1861 Danbury

“Abraham Lincoln has undoubtedly been declared the President of these United States in the halls of Congress at Washington.”

[Although Lincoln won the popular vote with 39.7% on November 6, 1860, the electoral college did not make the win official until February 13th, 1861.]

Friday February 15th 1861 Danbury

“I went to drill in the eve, while there an alarm of fire was raised. It soon became quiet again and we supposed it was a false alarm, but on my way home from drill I found out that it was a reality. It was McDonald Ford’s dry goods store. It was soon extinguished but not before it had done a great deal of damage.”

Friday February 22nd 1861 Danbury

“The anniversary of Washington’s birthday. The Wooster Guards assembled (or a portion of them voluntarily) to fire a national salute. At the second volley a horse becamed frightened, threw the driver out, and broke the wagon at which we stopped and closed the windows to the hall (for we were firing from the windows.) I attended drill in the eve.”

Saturday February 23rd 1861 Danbury

“The news tonight by the N. York Evening Post is that Abraham Lincoln, the president elect, was to be assassinated at Baltimore on his way to Washington and that he escaped by disguising himself. He intended to arrive there today and undoubtedly did.”

[Read more about the 'Baltimore Plot' here.]

Saturday March 2nd 1861 Danbury

“I waited on Fred Starr to see if he would take the command of the Wooster Guards, he consented on certain conditions.”

Monday March 4th 1861 Danbury

“Abraham Lincoln, commonly called Honest Old Abe, has undoubtedly today been inaugurated President of the United States, if the southerners have not murdered him as some have believed they would.”

Tuesday March 5th 1861 Danbury

“Today’s papers gives us an account of the inauguration at Washington which was peaceable and without disturbance.”

[Read his inauguration address (from March 4th 1861) here. See a photo of the event here]

Monday, December 21, 2009

Excerpts from the Journal of Horace Purdy, Danbury, January 25 - February 9, 1861

Friday January 25th 1861 Danbury

“He (Geo.) staid [sic] until evening and went with me to drill. Our Capt. Having had orders from the Gov[ernor] to drill his men and look to our arms and equipments and hold ourselves in readiness to march at short notice to fight for our country. The co[mpany] was better represented than it has been for a long time before. Three new recruits were proposed for membership. Two of them were accepted – Fred Starr and Geo. Brockett. When I returned from drill I drew up the minutes of the meeting and retired.”

Tuesday February 5th 1861 Danbury

Joshua R. Giddings lectured here this eve before the Young Mans’ Christian Association. The subject – John Q. [Quincy] Adams – the rowdies and roughs of the Democratic Party threaten to give him a smell of rotten eggs. I attended drill and on my way home I stopped a few moments outside the hall to see what was going on, but the crowd was made up of such a clup [?], and so obsene [sic] and disgraceful was the conversation that I thought to do justice for myself I had better leave and did so forthwith.”

Saturday February 9th 1861 Danbury

“I went into the street in the eve to buy something for breakfast and got into a political discussion with Edgar Wildman which detained me longer than I intended.”
[Edgar L. Wildman was a private in the First Connecticut Regiment.]

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Excerpts from the Journal of Horace Purdy, Danbury, January 10-14, 1861

Thursday January 10th 1861 Danbury

“There was about two inches of snow on the ground this morning. The papers today state that the Star of the West, carrying reinforcements to Major Anderson at Fort Sumter Charleston Harbor S. Carolina was fired into as she attempted to enter the harbor. She turned around an put out to sea.”

Friday January 11th 1861 Danbury

“Colder – no work in the shop. We did not get the news papers until the freight train came in at 2 o’clock. South Carolina has actually declared war against the United States. Major Anderson is now awaiting orders from the President through one of his Lieutenants who he has sent as a messenger to Washington. He will undoubtedly have orders to blockade the port and protect the Stars and Stripes. I painted a little upstairs after dinner. I attended the quarterly meeting of the Guards [Wooster Light Guard] in the eve. There was not a quorum present.”

Saturday January 12th 1861 Danbury

“I went into the street in the eve to get the news. The Star of the West has returned to N. York with her troops, she not being able to land at Fort Sumter. Out of 17 shots fired at her from Morris Island and Fort Moultry [sic] only two struck her. The President has determined to remain inactive and to send no troops to take the forts which are on the coasts of the Gulf States thinking that the secession difficulty can be managed better without arms than with. This is the news tonight in the N. York Evening Express.”

Monday January 14th 1861 Danbury

“No work in the shop. I waited there until the ca{rs?} came in and then went up for the papers. I brought them to the shop where we all read the news. The return of the Star of the West to N. York is confirmed. The troops were landed Sunday morning at their barracks on Governors Island. The war steamer Brooklyn is lying off Charleston Bay. It’s real object is not definitely known.”

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Excerpts from the Journal of Horace Purdy, Danbury, January 1-5, 1861

Tuesday January 1st 1861 Danbury

“The report that Buchanan had resigned is false. The papers today state that Gen. Scott was offered the war secretaryship but declined – Post Master [Joseph] Holt was then appointed who is now officiating as such. He is a strong Union man they say. The report also that Major Anderson is to be recalled is contradicted and he is to keep his position at Fort Sumter for the present at least.”

Friday January 4th 1861 Danbury

“I have worked all day in the shop. A little snow in the A.M., pleasant in the P.M. The news from South Carolina today are that the Carolinians have repaired Fort Moultry [sic] and are planting cannon at the nearest land point to Fort Sumter and are nearly ready to open fire on it with the attempt to take. Now is the time for the President to act and that quickly to by sending reinforcements to Major Anderson at Fort Sumter.”

Saturday January 5th 1861 Danbury

“Yesterday’s news in regard to besieging Fort Sumter in contradicted – instead of getting very stirring news today as expected, affairs are more tranquil. Secession has reached its highest pitch. Next week will tell. Something will be done then if ever.”