Summer 1861 No 7


In the summer of 1861, Johanna Cardiff was becoming a young woman; her country was preparing for war.
This is her journal; these are her journeys.



Dear Brothers,

Please don’t think me weak or without resolve. Winter is coming and after only a single campaign season, I grow weary of war. I understand why men are called upon to undertake such hardships.

The news chatters about the defeat of our forces at Ball’s Bluff and the death of brave Col. Baker at the hands of the lawless Confederates.I join in the chorus asking who is in charge of our armies.

Some wonder if it is even possible to defeat the Rebels. Since April, when Sam came home, Fort Sumter has fallen, the Harper’s Ferry arsenal was seized, several states voted to leave the Union, and our brave men were humiliated at Bull Run. Now, with the coming of winter, the news gets no better. Again, today I read reports about the deaths of Col. Baker and our soldiers killed at Ball’s Bluff and to what end? Some newspapers report none of the Union commanders were in charge and all of them blundered. The action accomplished nothing save another few hundred mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters left to mourn. I ask again, to what end?

A few days ago, I read the administration is scurrying like rats trying to keep the British from declaring war against us. Imagine that, England declaring war on us, while we are engaged in this effort to save our beloved Union. All this kowtowing to a country whom we defeated twice prior, because Federal sailors did their jobs and stopped two traitors, determined to seek favor from the, very same, foreign powers.

I write, of course, of the RMS Trent incident, as it is now called. If you have not heard, two former American Senators, Slidell and Mason were captured and removed from the RMS Trent by sailors of the USS San Jacinto. The Trent attempted to run the Union blockade, was stopped by the San Jacinto, boarded and the two traitors were removed.The traitors were attempting to escape to Europe to beg support from England and France for the Southern cause. Some, who know the situation better than me, have speculated the ex-Senators will be released by the first of the year, in an effort to appease the European powers. I admit I do not understand this. As a people, we separated from England almost a hundred years ago. By what authority do they demand we release American citizens? I swear, I do not understand politics.

Our writing campaign never started. Both Patsy and I were so excited, but Mrs. Brown forbade us from writing. She lectured us, quite firmly, that young ladies of good breeding did not solicit correspondence from men whom they had not been introduced. Such a splendid idea, stopped in its infancy by social morays. Please, neither Patsy nor I would disobey Mrs. Brown, so no letters will be written, but I ask you to ponder this.

What if, over a period of a year, or even six months, other women learned of our efforts and joined in. What if young ladies from the South became aware, and also wrote letters, not only to the Southern leaders, but also to President Lincoln.What if five thousand, ten thousand, twenty thousand women across this country wrote every week to Presidents Lincoln and Davis. Two letters every week. They would be buried in their offices. Would it make a difference?Would those two men, willfully ignore the cries of that many citizens?

Sadly, we’ll never know because good manners dictate young single ladies stand on the sidelines until asked to dance.

Be safe brothers.

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