Army Correspondence: September 17, 1864

Army Correspondence

By Chaplain Turner

Headquarters 1st U.S.C.T,

Harrison Landing, Va.

Sept. 10th, 1864


Turner writes about the Democratic party's Chicago Platform of 1864 and other happenings concerning his regiment. 

Christian Recorder: September 17, 1864

Mr. Editor:--The news that continually pours in here from various quarters, is commingled with every impassioned element in a human being.

The news of Farragut’s glorious triumphs at Mobile, and Sherman at Atlanta, creates no small amount of fighting energy in this department. We can all realize the hopefulness of finally achieving the end for which we are battling, amid the privations and ills, which we are necessarily subjected to in an army life. Every victory, like a new sunbeam, sheds its radiance in brighter aspects over the dark vortex of this raging strife.

The infamous catalogue of principles, embodied in that infernal instrument, called the Chicago platform, the framers of which out to every one be hung, till dead by the neck, or shot till riddled like Napoleon’s lion, has not affected the determined conclusion to strike down the last foe to the American flag, and her free institutions. Who would have thought that an American heart, could have been so perverted at this stage of events, as to publicly endorse such audacious resolution as those incarnate devils at Chicago formed, as the basis of a Presidential campaign? They are enough to revolt human modesty, and turn our most prudish promptings into confusion and burning shame. Never let the American people, in all coming time, stand aghast at any thing again.

England’s false neutrality, and the manifest treachery of France, in making a cat’s paw of the Austrian Prince, culminates at third-rate, compared to the diabolical Tories, before whom Mr. Lincoln has bowed, and honored with the highest positions. Had the President from the beginning administered the stern mandates of moral and political justice to the enemies of the country, who came as goats in sheep’s clothing, until they were fostered and nourished into strength, the evil they are now perpetrating and the injury they are doing the Government, in its efforts to crush the rebellion, would have been entirely obviated. But like the man who warmed and animated the frozen serpent, to only sting his children to death, and forever demolish the comforts of his household, had half the encouragement been tendered to the negro, which has been given to Copperheads, the nation might have rallied to-day over two hundred thousand colored soldiers, who would have struck terror to the heart of the rebellion, and swept the seceded States, with a tornado of desolation, such as would have silenced the clang of war, and hushed the rage of battle. But instead of this, the country’s most inveterate enemies have been permitted to lounge upon the most comfortable seats, and plot and plan its ruin, only to leave a wreck, where the eternal bastions of a free and happy Government should have stood, forever founded upon the rock of grandeur, glory, and honor.

True, the nation is passing through a terrible revolution: such a one as she doubtless needs, to purge her from the dross of base corruption, and this seeming progression and retrogression to which she is, by force of circumstances, compelled to succumb, may all, in God’s providence, be working for her good, but there is no law in nature, physical or intellectual, which may not require, as a means, some repulse to properly secure good results. Reverses, political and moral, may sometimes be commuted for glorious ends, but to conclude these channels of indispensable necessity, is to acknowledge the existence of the devil as important as the existence of God, in the scale of physical and moral elevation.

Some people have a kind of placid logic, that accounts, in a very easy manner, for every thing that transpires, and they work every thing up, to be a part of the machinery infinitely designed to the accomplishment of some great good. But never will I believe, this side of eternity, ever was, or ever will be used by infinite Wisdom, as an indispensable requisite for political or moral good.

The argument, that Mr. Lincoln was obliged to court the affections of the Democratic parties, to secure the co-operation of the whole North, is nothing more than a farce. The principles which should have governed him, were those of eternal justice; they were clearly laid down in the Bible, and engraved upon the tables of nature; they were throbbed in every pulsation of the human heart, and preached by the proclamation of John C. Fremont, in the opening of the war. And had these principles been his modus operandi, or his compass, to run the national ship by, amid the stormy winds, and lurid siege of war, this opposition party would have set in profound dumbness, until the last foe had bitten the dust at his lordly feet. But instead thereof, they rise with indignant majesty before him, contemning, insulting, and trying to defame that name which should have been as dear to the American heart, as Washington to American, or Cromwell to England.

We will, in some future time, treat this subject more largely. I presume your readers will be much surprised to hear of the intimacy which has recently taken place between the rebels and the colored soldiers.

Having for some time heard that the colored and rebel pickets were exchanging words, and that the venom to each other had somewhat ameliorated, I was led to doubt its truthfulness from a previous knowledge of the uncompromising hostility they had hitherto cherished toward each other. But a short time since, my regiment was ordered to the trenches, where their proximity to the rebels was not more than a hundred yards. Here, to my great surprise, I saw the rebels and the soldiers of my regiment, talking, laughing, exchanging papers, tin-cups, tobacco, &c.

Some of the rebels deserted and came into our lines, and cursed the rebellion, and thus they had a jolly time with our boys.

I learn they are now acknowledging our soldiers as prisoners of war.

This sudden transition, though, should be carefully watched: there is evidently some deep-laid treachery at the bottom of so singular a move.

Col. John H. Holman, of our regiment, who has been absent on sick leave, to Boston, returned a short time ago, and such a shout never was heard, as the boys gave him: one unanimous ring reverberated through the adjacent woods, and over the hills, which, I suppose, woke up the rebels; for next morning they made three charges upon our works, but were driven away without any trouble.

We are now at the famous Harrison’s Landing, made so by Gen. McClellan’s inglorious retreat in ’62. There is nothing very significant about the place, more than some very fine houses, which are all deserted, and marks of its former greatness in the days when slavery was rampant in this vicinity, and men with immortal souls were chained, whipped, and driven like brutes before the prowess of Southern chivalry.

I have the honor to be,

Very truly,



H. M. T.