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News of 150 Years Ago—November/December 1861


November/December 1861

After weeks of speculation, President Lincoln relieved Gen. John C. Fremont from his position as commander of the Department of the West on November 2.

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, November 6, 1861.



Last Night’s Dispatches.


Gen. Fremont Superseded.






SPRINGFIELD, Saturday, November 2—P. M.—General Fremont received this forenoon an official notification of his removal from the command of the Western Department. The Body Guard is now under marching orders, and will probably leave with the General for St. Louis some time between now and nightfall….

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The DEMOCRAT, a consistent Fremont supporter, was gracious to their hero in this editorial.

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, November 6, 1861.


The intelligence from the camp at Springfield will this morning be read with profound interest. It confirms the later reports from Washington relative to Gen. Fremont. On last Saturday forenoon he was officially notified of his removal from the command of the Department of the West, and received the news, in accordance with his well know characteristics, with calmness and self-possession. As gracefully as he had accepted the unsought and arduous trust, he prepared to yield it to Gen. Hunter, his successor….

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Fremont’s return to St. Louis prompted a celebration.

From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, November 9, 1861.


20,000 People Assembled to do Him Honor.

Unbounded Enthusiasm.

Magnificent Torchlight Procession.



The reception of Gen. Fremont last evening was one of the most imposing and enthusiastic demonstrations that has ever taken place in the city of St. Louis. All classes and conditions of people participated in it—the ladies turning out by thousands….

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Even after Fremont’s removal, his actions continued to make news.

From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, November 12, 1861.


Proclamation Jointly Issued by Major Generals Fremont and Price.


WHEREAS, Major General Sterling Price, commanding the Missouri State Guard, by letter, dated at his Headquarters near Neosho, Missouri, October 26, 1861, has expressed a desire to enter into some arrangement with Major General John C. Fremont, commanding the forces of the United States, to facilitate the future exchange of prisoners of war released on parole. Also, that all persons heretofore arrested for the mere expression of political opinions, may be released from confinement or parole….

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In this editorial, the DEMOCRAT lamented the deterioration of conditions in Missouri, attributing it to the lack of stability in Union command.

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, November 27, 1861.


That this military department has been singularly unfortunate no one will deny. That it has had a sufficient variety of administrations to ensure its success, if variety could do so, will be as universally conceded. That so frequent a change of military management as this region has suffered, could under any circumstances result happily, it is difficult to conceive. If the daily and constant observations of our fellow-citizens, the testimony of unbiased correspondents, and the sentiments of the press the wide world over, are an index of the general opinion, then are our countrymen and intelligent men everywhere agreed that the grand misfortune of the Federal cause in Missouri has thus far been the want of a consistent military policy….

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The DEMOCRAT continued to attribute positive local developments to Fremont’s actions as commander.

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, November 6, 1861.


The Connection of the Pacific, Iron Mountain and North Missouri Railroads.

The project of uniting the three railroads centering in this city, by a road along the entire length of the levee, had been talked about for several years, but it has been deferred from time to time in deference to this or that interest with which it seemed to conflict. So, freight passing from one depot to another had to be drayed from one to four miles. This, as may be easily comprehended, might answer for peace times, but would be fully adapted to the necessities and exigencies attending a state of hostilities, wherein vast quantities of freight would have to be moved in a very short time, and in the successful accomplishment of which might hang the fate of the campaign….

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Fremont’s removal came on the heels of news of victory from his army in western Missouri.

From The Missouri Democrat, Friday, November 1, 1861.


Brilliant Charge of Major Zagonyi with 162 Men Against a Rebel Force of 1,800.



[From our Army Correspondent.]

Monday, Oct. 28.

On Thursday evening last, while encamped at Camp Haskell, 34 miles from Warsaw and 51 from Springfield, Major Zagonyi, of the Body Guard, received orders to take a detail from each of three companies of his own command, and uniting it with Major White’s battalion of Prairie Scouts, proceed to Springfield by a forced march, and take possession of the place. It was understood that the city was held by but about 300 rebel troops, and no opposition whatever was anticipated to the progress of Major Zagonyi’s command….

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Most news from outstate Missouri reported on rebel troop movements that threatened loyal areas of the state.

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, November 6, 1861.


A Junction formed with McCulloch.


Fresh Supplies of Clothing, Medicines, &c.

Rifled Cannon Expected to Arrive.


Rebel Bands Forming in the Interior.



CHARITON COUNTY, MO., Oct. 30, 1861.

[Special Dispatch to the Missouri Democrat.]

Editors Missouri Democrat:

Judge M. C. Hunt, a prominent citizen of this county, reached home yesterday, direct from Gen. Price’s headquarters. He brings news of interest.

He left Price’s camp at Neosho, on Wednesday morning, 23d. Price and McCulloch were both in camp, having united their forces, making an army of from 27,000 to 35,000 strong-about 30,000 Judge Hunt thinks….

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While reports of rebel troop movements in western Missouri dominated the news, Grant’s sudden move from Cairo on Belmont on the Mississippi River was a sensation.

From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, November 9, 1861.


Gen. Grant’s Report of the Fight.

Rebels Driven into their Camp and Across the River.



Rebels Re-cross the River.
Loss Heavy on Both Sides.
Gallant Conduct of Generals Grant and McClernand, Col. Fouke and Others.


The following dispatch was received at Headquarters yesterday morning:

CAIRO, Nov. 7, 1861.

To Captain C. McKeever, St. Louis:

We met the rebels about 9 o’clock this morning, two and a half miles from Belmont. We drove them step by step into their camp, and across the river.

We burned their tents, and started on our return with all their artillery, but for lack of transportation had to leave four pieces in the woods.

The rebels recrossed the river and followed in our rear to our place of debarkation.

The loss is heavy on both sides….

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From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, November 11, 1861.

The Battle of Belmont.

Gallantry of our Troops.

Rebels Reinforced from Columbus.




[Special Correspondence of the Missouri Democrat.]

CAIRO, Nov. 8, 1861.

The gloom which saddened all our hearts at the news of our defeat at Columbus last night, is somewhat dispelled by the light of this beautiful morning. Although there is no disguising the fact that we were defeated, and badly too, the result is not as bad as at first reported….

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From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, November 13, 1861.



The Plan and the Movements Clearly Stated.

[Special Correspondence of the Missouri Democrat.]

CAIRO, Nov. 10, 1861.

Several days ago, orders were received here from St. Louis, to Gen. Grant, commanding this district, to move his forces, and make a demonstration on both sides of the river towards Columbus and Belmont. The object of the demonstration was not, as is generally supposed, to either take or attack Columbus, but to alarm the rebels, and to cause them to abandon the intention, which they are known to entertain, of sending large reinforcements to Price and Buckner, and to induce them to draw in and concentrate their forces at Columbus….

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On November 8, 1861, the British steamer Trent was intercepted by a U.S. frigate, and two Confederate envoys were forcibly removed. The incident brought the United States and Great Britain to the brink of war, until the two envoys were released to British custody in late December. At first news of the affair, the DEMOCRAT, like most newspapers, were strongly supportive of the action, although they misspelled the name of the Trent.

From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, November 18, 1861.


Captain Wilkes, of the U.S. steam frigate San Jacinto, has rendered the country some service. After cruising six months off the coast of Africa, to the annoyance of the piratical slave traders, he called at Cienfuegos, on the southern coast of Cuba, and there received the interesting intelligence that the bogus Confederacy’s envoys, Mason and Slidell, had succeeded in running the blockade, on the steamer Nashville, and were then en route for Europe. Hastening to Havana, Captain Wilkes there learned that the emissaries of treason had sailed thence on the 7th inst., a day or two previously, on board the British mail steamer Trentz, plying between Vera Cruz and Southampton via Havana and St. Thomas. The San Jacinto hurriedly crowded sail in pursuit, overtook the Trentz near the southeastern end of the Bahama channel, and summarily brought her to….

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From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, December 30, 1861.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 28.—Messrs. Mason and Slidell have been given up to England.

The official correspondence between our government and Great Britain, relative to the seizure of the traitors Slidell and Mason, is received. The first is a letter from Secretary Seward to Minister Adams, dated November 30th, in which he compliments the latter for wisely speaking and acting at the Lord Mayor’s dinner, and also states he told Lord Palmerston simply the fact, when informing him the life of the insurrection was sustained by the hopes of its recognition by England and France, and if those hopes ceased, the insurrection would perish in ninety days. He repeats in the same note the facts of the arrest of Slidell and Mason by Capt. Wilkes, as a new and unforeseen circumstance, which is to be met by the two governments, if possible, in kindly spirits.


From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, December 30, 1861.


Thoughtful observers of affairs were, in a considerable degree, prepared for the news received by telegraph on Saturday—that Messrs. Mason and Slidell had been given up to the British government….

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Newspapers of the period relied heavily on correspondence from area soldiers at the front for news and reports of the condition of the troops. The DEMOCRAT commented on this in this editorial.

From The Missouri Democrat, Thursday, December 12, 1861.

“Bayonets Think.”

The pithy saying is attributed to Louis Napoleon. Whoever said so, it is true, as we have constant evidence before us. All the newspapers are filled with letters from the camps, which are read with avidity. Many of these are from men in the ranks. Of course, there are various degrees of merit, probably not a few of the writers having penned for the first time a line for publication; and often it happens that such letters were meant only for the eyes of friends, get into print. Of these camp letters collectively, it may be said, they evince keen intelligence and observation, ofter considerate, thoughtful reflection upon the topics of public interest. Suggestions are not uncommon which might profitably be weighed in Congress or Cabinet.

Nothing truer than that in our armies “bayonets think.”


Tips to help soldiers in the field cope with life on campaign were common early in the war, when the new recruits were still learning how to deal with it.

From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, November 2, 1861.

How Tents May Be Dried.

A member of the Rhode Island Second writes from Camp Brightwood:

The cold has pinched us “quite smartly,” so that we not only feel the need of warmer blankets and more of them, but of good fires also. The need of protection against sudden cold has set the inventive wits of our Yankee soldiers to work. A plan was soon hit upon….

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The reports from soldiers at the front included critical comments as well as positive ones.

From The Missouri Democrat, Friday, November 15, 1861.


A meeting was held to-day by the commissioned officers in Gen. McClernand’s Brigade, at which the[y] concluded to send Col. F. B. Foulke to New York to buy new arms—Enfield rifles—for the entire brigade at any cost. The movement was approved by Gen. Grant, and Col. Foulke starts for New York in the morning. Many of our men in this brigade were armed with the clumsy “Belgian musket,” and many of them burst in the hands of our men, and blew out at the breech. A number of this brigade were killed by these inferior arms, and the men swear they will never go into an engagement with them again.


From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, November 12, 1861.

The James’s Rifled Cannon.

J. W. Martin, Lieutenant commanding Sec. Battery K, Ninth Regiment, N. Y. S. M., in his official report of the engagement at Harper’s Ferry and Bolivar, Va., on the 16th inst., says:

The latter (the James’s), however, in this as well as other actions at Pritchard’s Mill, Berlin, and Point of Rocks, at which I have used them, and the results of which I have reported to your heretofore, worked very badly….

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From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, November 6, 1861.

Is the Armstrong Gun a Failure?

The London Mechanics’ Magazine maintains, that the Armstrong gun has proved a signal failure, notwithstanding the denial of its previous statements by Mr. Baring, under Secretary of War. “Recent events,” observes our cotemporary, “have not only fully demonstrated the rectitude of our own statements, but placed the defects of the Armstrong gun in still more prominent colors.”…

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From The Missouri Democrat, Thursday, November 28, 1861.

Editors Missouri Democrat:
The First Missouri Light Artillery has been in the service of the federal government since April last, and during that time have received their pay but once. The reason of our not receiving pay last summer, was generally understood, and not a murmur was heard, because we knew we should get our pay as soon as Congress made the requisite arrangements. On the nineteenth day of September we received our pay up to the last of August. We believe there is no reason for delay in the payment of money that was due us November 1st. Our officers get their pay regularly once a month, and if there is any good reason why we should not get our pay, we will cheerfully acquiesce a further delay. We feel that if any reason exists, that it should be at once made known to us, and thus stop this eternal talk of “you’ll get paid to-morrow.” Will not the proper officer give us his assistance, and oblige many



From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, December 4, 1861.


Tearing of the Cartridges with the Teeth Pronounced Dangerous—Suggestion to Army Officers.

Editors Missouri Democrat:
In the manual exercise of our army, the soldier in holding the gun is instructed to tear off the cartridge with his teeth. This practice is pronounced by many military men, both of our own and the European armies as dangerous and fatal to the teeth; besides the unpleasant consequence, which converts the soldier after a few discharges of his gun to a perfect blacksmith, and ought to be abolished in our army….

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Commentaries on military tactics from many sources were frequently printed.

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, November 6, 1861.

Delusions as to Bayonet Wounds.

The popular idea of soldiers in a bayonet charge struggling hand to hand and face to face with fixed bayonets, is likely to be exploded, like many other delusions. We find by referring to “Guthrie’s Commentaries on Army Surgery,” that these struggles never occur….

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The DEMOCRAT reported frequently, even at this early stage of the war, on generals with a St. Louis connection.

From The Missouri Democrat, Thursday, December 12, 1861.

GENERAL GRANT.—It is reported, we know not how correctly, that General Grant, the able and accomplished officer in command at Cairo, is to be removed from the head of his present division. If the report is correct, we take it for granted that General Halleck has what he deems a more important post for General Grant to fill;…

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From The Missouri Democrat, Thursday, December 12, 1861.

Insanity of General Sherman.

We find in the St. Louis telegraphic correspondence of the Chicago Times, the announcement of General Sherman’s insanity and his removal from his command in this State to Ohio, by his friends. The singular conduct of General Sherman in Kentucky, and which led to his supersession by General Buell, was even more marked in this State, and at length the conviction was forced upon the minds of his friends that he was suffering a mental aberration and should be removed from the army, and subjected to proper treatment. It is to be hoped that the trouble is temporary in its character.


From The Missouri Democrat, Friday, December 20, 1861.

Return of Gen. Sherman.

General Sherman has returned to duty at this point, having been absent a short time on a visit to his family in Ohio. He will probably soon take the field.


On November 9, Gen. Henry Halleck took over as commander of the Department of the Missouri, succeeding Fremont. One of Halleck’s first actions was to institute a system of assessing disloyal persons in St. Louis to fund the Western Sanitary Commission’s relief efforts in support of civilian refugees who were streaming into St. Louis from outstate.

From The Missouri Democrat, Friday, December 13, 1861.

Enforcement of “Order No. 24”—Sixty Citizens Specially Honored.

In accordance with General Halleck’s “Order No. 24,” a reliable list has been made of the citizens against whom the charge of disloyalty will unquestionably held, and whom it proposes to tax for the benefit of despoiled and exiled Union citizens….

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The DEMOCRAT supported this controversial action in this editorial.

From The Missouri Democrat, Friday, December 20, 1861.


The special assessment for “charity” is, we understand, completed, and some sixty gentlemen are enrolled as involuntary contributors to the refugee relief fund. Those who, aware of their liabilities, wish to understand the mode of collection, are referred to General Order No. 24 for particulars. Should the number of refugees continue, their condition may require another and larger levy. This sum of $10,000, upon a basis so large as the property subject to special contributions, is of course a mere bagatelle, but the principle thus effectuated may have further application according to the exigencies hereafter.


Six months after the Camp Jackson incident, the repercussions were still being felt.

From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, November 12, 1861.


If any additional testimony were wanting to establish the treasonable character of the leaders of the Camp Jackson troops, it is at last furnished by the exchange of prisoners recently effected through the agency of Williams, Barclay and others. We now learn what was sufficiently proved before, that by their own confession, a large proportion of the prisoners taken by Gen. Lyon, of the United States army, at Camp Jackson, on the 10th of May last, were secessionists, or confederate soldiers. They are not treated as such by Gen. Price, a confederate General, and they acknowledge that such was their character, by being exchanged as prisoners of war by the confederates….

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Following the founding of the Ladies’ Union Aid Society in September, the organization quickly ramped up its activities in support of wounded soldiers and pro-Union refugees.

From The Missouri Democrat, Friday, November 1, 1861.

COMFORTS FOR THE SICK SOLDIERS.—The Ladies’ Union Aid Society yesterday received, through Messrs. S. and J. Hamill of this city, a box of articles for the use of the sick and wounded soldiers in this State, prepared by the ladies of Brocton, Chatauqua county, New York. This box was forwarded to the city at the suggestion of Mr. G. W. Avery, formerly a resident of Lebanon, Mo., from which place he was driven by the persecutions of the secessionists of Laclede and Pulaski counties. The contents include a variety of garments, bed clothing, lint, bandages, and many little delicacies in the way of preserves, and also five gallons of grape wine. All of them are peculiarly acceptable at this time. We learn that most of the articles will be forwarded to Otterville, where they are imperatively needed.


From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, November 12, 1861.

The Ladies’ Union Aid Society, through the influence of Mrs. A. S. Clapp, of this city, has received from Brooklyn, N.Y., $38 in cash, and two valuable boxes, containing the following articles: 102 pairs of socks, 87 sheets, 69 shirts, 54 pair of drawers, 47 pillow slips, 16 pocket handkerchiefs, bolt of muslin, 1 bottle of wine, 1 bottle brandy, 1 bottle of jelly, 1 bottle of pickles, 1 box of chocolate, 1 box of preserves, 2 packages of tea.


From The Missouri Democrat, Thursday, November 14, 1861.

Suggestion to the Ladies.

November 11, 1861.

Editors Missouri Democrat:

Thinking it advisable to make a few suggestions to those who are so generously aiding the Sanitary Committee, I have concluded to address you, and through you the ladies in all parts of the country. I see in some of the Eastern papers that bedgowns of Canton flannel, &c., are asked for; also wrappers of the same. The nurses in the hospitals in St. Louis tell me that not one man in twenty will wear these garments even when he is well enough to do so, and that the badly wounded cannot….

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From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, December 3, 1861.


The ladies of the Union Aid Society, who have so nobly enrolled and enlisted themselves in the behalf of our wounded, sick and distressed soldiers, and who, by the voluntary contributions of a generous public, have thus far been enabled to administer to the wants, assuage the distress and alleviate the sufferings of the brave volunteers, who in the defence of their country have fallen a prey to the disease and wounds incident to war, now far from the loved ones at home, linger in our hospitals, do not lack the attention of the kind women of St. Louis, and particularly those comprising the Union Aid Society, who new appeal to the St. Louis public, who have yet never failed in generous acts for the necessary means to replenish their depleted treasury and enable them to pursue their good work, and who themselves now volunteer to give an equivalent in the proposed “Tableaux Vivants,” of which notice appears in another column, and which should be responded to in a liberal and magnificent spirit….

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From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, December 7, 1861.

THE TABLEAUX VIVANTS—A GRAND ATTRACTION.—A grand expectation has long been on tiptoe relative to the Tableaux Vivants in elaborate preparation by the zealous members of the Ladies’ Union Aid Society. It is scarcely too much to say that the general anticipation was sanguine in the extreme, and yet is more than realized. The exhibition last evening was an extraordinary success….

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From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, December 10, 1861.

LADIES’ UNION AID SOCIETY.—The members of this Society, and other persons disposed to sew for the refugees who are fleeing from homes in the Southwest, and particularly requested to come to the Rooms of the Union Aid Society, which will be open every day from 9 A. M. to 4 P. M.


From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, December 11, 1861.

RECEIPTS OF THE TABLEAUX EXHIBITION.—The recent Tableaux Exhibition of the Ladies’ Union Aid Society, was unusually profitable. The receipts for Friday and Saturday evenings amounted to $600 above all expenditures.


From The Missouri Democrat, Thursday, December 19, 1861.

Jefferson County Ladies’ Union Aid Society.

A number of the Union ladies of Jefferson county met some weeks since and agreed to form themselves into a society to collect and forward such articles for the use of the sick and wounded soldiers, as the Union ladies of the county might contribute….

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From The Missouri Democrat, Thursday, December 19, 1861.

THE LADIES’ UNION AID Society acknowledge the receipt of three hundred and sixty dollars and eighty cents from the committee who superintended the taleaux vivants for their benefit.

Mrs. S. B. Kellogg,
Treasurer L. U. A. Society.


From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, December 17, 1861.

The managers of the “Refugee Aid Society” respectfully ask citizens to direct families who have been driven from their homes in the country to the rooms of the Society, No. 65 Elm street, as arrangements are so far perfected as to enable the managers to render substantial aid.

Mrs. P. A. Child, President
Mrs. Wm. Barr, Sec’y and Treas.


Besides its continuing war coverage, the DEMOCRAT reported on international events and their impact on national affairs.

From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, December 30, 1861.


By the death of Prince Albert, the Prince of Wales, the heir apparent, becomes, it is said, a more active participant in matters of state. It has been suggested that Queen Victoria in her affliction, and in view of the hereditary malady with which she is supposed to be threatened, will be likely to abdicate the throne in his favor….

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The DEMOCRAT also found space to present news of a lighter tone.

From The Missouri Democrat, Friday, November 15, 1861.

A BIT OF WAR ROMANCE.—A correspondent of the Clarksville Jeffersonian, writing from Columbus, Kentucky, says:

“Quite a romantic little incident ‘developed’ itself here yesterday. A skiff from Cairo, with a flag of truce, made a landing in front of General Pillow’s headquarters. It contained a young gentleman and a young lady. The young lady was a native of Port Gibson, Miss., and has been going to school at Columbus, Ohio. When the war commenced she found she could not get home, and has been waiting several months for an opportunity to see her native soil….

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From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, November 4, 1861.

Bishop Timon Pronounces Against Low-Necked Dresses.

Bishop Timon publishes in the Buffalo Sentinel of Saturday a letter addressed “to the honored and pious Christian women of the diocese” upon a subject which he has long refrained to touch—though pressed apparently by divine impulse—low necked dresses….

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From The Missouri Democrat, Thursday, November 7, 1861.

A Peep Into the Sheik’s Harem.

After a little mysterious whispering we were asked if we should like to visit “the house,” this being the only term by which it is permitted to allude to the female portion of the family. We gladly assented, though feeling a doubt as to the kind of interview we should have, our Arabic being limited to five words, and, of course these ladies speak no other language….

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From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, November 9, 1861.

The Art of Shopping.

We are all satisfied that gentlemen have no genius for shopping. They are not equal to it. Nature has left their faculties imperfect in that particular. They can write books and make speeches, and all that sort of thing, but they are not up to shopping. It takes the ladies for that. Men go to a store, select what they want, and buy it. But that is not shopping; that requires no genius….

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In December, representatives of the pro-Union western counties in Virginia met to sever their connections with now-Confederate Virginia and form a new state.

From The Missouri Democrat, Tuesday, December 3, 1861.



A Move for Freedom in the New State of Kanawha.

WHEELING, VA., Dec. 2.—In the Convention Mr. Hagen, of Rome, offered the following:

WHEREAS, negro slavery is the origin and foundation of our national troubles, and the cause of the terrible rebellion in our midst, that is seeking to overthrow our government; and whereas, slavery is incompatible with the word of God, and detrimental to the interests of a free people, as well as among the slaves themselves, therefore it is

Resolved, That the Convention inquire into the expediency of making the proposed new State free,…

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