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John Covode was born in West Fairfield, Pennsylvania, on 17th March, 1808. Involved in the coal industry, Covode was active in the Whig Party and was elected to the 34th Congress in 1855.
An opponent of slavery Covode joined the Republican Party and was re-elected to the 35th Congress in 1857. Over the next few years he was associated with the group known as the Radical Republicans. Covode strongly supported the Freeman's Bureau, the Civil Rights Bill and the Reconstruction Acts. After the American Civil War Covode clashed with President Andrew Johnson and voted for his impeachment in 1868.
John Covode, who was chairman of the Committee of Public Expenditures (1857-59) and the Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds (1867-69), remained in Congress until his death at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on 11th January, 1871.
--> Covode, John, 1808-1871
John Covode was a U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania.
From the description of John Covode Papers, 1854-1870. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122387770
Covode was the chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican State Central Committee.
From the description of Letterbooks, 1870. (Historical Society of Pennsylvania). WorldCat record id: 122616721
Pennsylvania representative to Congress, 1855-63, 1867-71.
From the description of Correspondence, 1859-1869. (University of Pittsburgh). WorldCat record id: 31469905
U.S. representative from Pennsylvania.
From the description of John Covode papers, 1854-1870. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 145397547
John Covode was a prominent Westmoreland County businessman and member of the U.S. House of Representatives in the mid nineteenth century.
From the description of Papers 1838-1892 (bulk 1854-1868). (Historical Society of W Pennsylvania). WorldCat record id: 28790393
Thaddeus Stevens Making a Difference
Can one person make a difference? Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania lived and died a crusader for equality. For seven years (1861–1868), his determined opposition to slavery helped shape the character of the House. Stevens later was buried in an integrated cemetery with the epitaph "Equality of Man before his Creator."
As Chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and a member of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, Stevens used his skill as a wily parliamentarian and fearless debater to press for military victory. After the war, he opposed President Andrew Johnson's lenient policies toward the defeated Confederacy. Stevens’ ill health prevented him from playing an active role in Johnson’s 1868 Senate trial. He died just weeks after it ended.
". [E]very man, no matter what his race or color every earthly being who has an immortal soul, has an equal right to justice, honesty, and fair play with every other man and the law should secure him those rights."
— Representative Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania, 1867
YesterYear Once More
THE NEW YEAR’S ADDRESS
The Carrier of The Compiler.
Jan. 1, 1861.
I am here again this morning —
Is the Carrier “all forlorn,” —
To give you all fair warning
That another year is born.
I am weary, very weary,
And my heart is almost broken
Ah! this world is very dreary
Without a friendly token.
I have come again to greet you,
And to drive your cares away,
And, my friends, I hope to meet you
In a brighter, happier day.
But there is a certain matter
That pains me very much:
Just present me with a Quarter,
And my feelings you will touch.
All hail! all hail! auspicious day!
Thou day of joy and gladness!
Thou hast returned to chase away
Our sorrow and our sadness.
Without thee, what were life on earth
But one grand scene of trouble?
Without thee, all our moral worth
Were but an empty bubble.
Another twelvemonth has gone by
Since last we has a New Year,
Another season has drawn nigh
When we should make good cheer.
Said one of old — and he well knew, —
“There is a time for all things,”
So let us then our duty do,
And condescend to small things.
O, how many weary journeys
Has the Carrier made through town,
With his brief for lean Attorneys,
And his nonsense for the Clown.
With his “Markets” for the Merchant,
And his “Married” for the single
With his “Deaths” for skillful Doctors,
And his Stories a la Cringle.
In return for this great favor
It is me?t that you should buy
An Address from this young shaver,
And light up his youthful eye.
In the year that’s just departed,
Oh, how many ties were riven
Oh, how may plans were thwarted,
and how many farewells given!
The deed is done! let angels weep,
And clothe themselves in mourning
Our blessed UNION now is rent, —
Let future States take warning.
Distracted are the councils now
Of our beloved nation —
There’s trouble in the workshop North,
And on the South plantation.
Our fate no human eye can see,
Whether weal? or woe shall come, —
May kind Heaven keep in peace and free,
This broad land — for all a home.
Black Republicans are making
A terrible commotion
When asleep, and when they’re waking,
They hold the foolish notion, —
That the glorious Constitution,
Which our wise ancestors framed,
Is a useless institution,
And ere long will be disclaimed
That there’s a “higher law” than all, —
The “law” of anti-slavery —
A “law” involving Freedom’s fall,
Ignoring all true bravery.
1860 Japanese Mission to U.S.
The Japanese — that jealous race —
Who live beyond the oceans,
Came over here, with friendly face,
And brought us sundry notions.
Tateishi "Tommy" Onojirou Noriyuki (Japanese Translator)
Image from Lock Haven University (Bob Sandow)
The fairest one of all the Japs
Was one whose name was Tommy
The ladies slyly gave him slaps, —
They loved this little Tommy.
But the wonder of the season
Was that great and mighty ship,
Which, for no especial reason,
(Ere she made her trial trip.)
The English named Great Eastern, Sirs,
Regarded as a sailer,
It may in truth be said that hers
Is quite a total failure.
But hark! a sound that charms the ear,
‘Tis music on the waters
The Prince of Wales is coming here
To court our Yankee daughters.
The day is fine breezes gently
Waft his bark to this fair clime
All are eager — eyes intently
Gaze upon this royal cyme. [or maybe]
See! how lightly through each figure
Of the gay and sprightly dance
Trips the Prince, with all the vigor,
Of an Emperor of France.
To have a tilt at this young lion
The ladies all were eager
But their chances for the English cion
Are very, very meagre.
Old Jenkins says that some e’en went
And kissed him for his mother, —
That certain damsels kindly sent
Some sweetmeats to his brother.
Sayers - Heenan Fight 1860
Image from Seaford Photographers
John Heenan and Tom Sayers,
Two pugilistic rowdies,
Made up their minds to fight like bears,
As sometimes do the dowdies.
Of our town and its improvements
It behooves me next to sing,
And recount the movements
That were made since early Spring.
First and foremost in importance
Is the Gas we burn at night
Would you raise a great discordance?
Just deprive us of this light.
The richest thanks that we can give
Are due to the contractor,
For long as these Gas Works shall live,
He is our benefactor.
The population of our “city,”
By the Census M.’s return,
It two thousand ccc, ninety, —
Cut that rhyme will hardly turn.
The Railroad still is doing fine,
And daily making money
But where it goes, should I divine?
And that seems rather funny.
Whichever way our eyes we cast
New buildings meet our view
The outskirts of our town, at last,
Are growing wider too.
The Court House now is finished quite,
Surmounted by its steeple
The town-clock too keeps going right,
Keeps going for the people.
Our County still is right side up, —
Vide how the “Star” men squirm, —
Except that Mister Mo?? fried up
To serve another term.
What he will do in these two years
We can’t with safety say
He may (or not) shed copious tears,
And see about his pay.
Yes, more may this young member do —
He’ll aid Covode & Co., —
He doubtless will spit out a few
Harangues for sake of show.
‘Twas said that Becker could not fail
The Sheriff to become
But Samuel Wolf was sent to jail,
And Becker staid at home.
Old Metzgar said that he would bet
That Wolf said so and so,
By which he thought some votes to get,
But is was all no go.
Though Bailey and Martin outrun
Gentlemen of high desert,
We Eichholtz and Gardner won,
Millet, Pfoutz and Dysert.
Abe Lincoln Election 1860
Image from House Divided – Dickinson College
The field of November was gained
By Abe and his “Wide Awake” force —
The Union, thus struck at and maim’d,
Is stopped in its onward course.
Let patriots pause — think and pause!
By justice let peril be stayed —
In fairness and love let the laws,
ALL, be fully obeyed.
So now, my friends, I leave you,
I leave you with regret
May naught occur to grieve you,
Or in any manner mar the pleasures not only of this festal day, but also of the year upon which we have just entered. Through the evil actions and still worse counsels of a certain dare-devil party of the North, rendered desperate by the desire of plunder, our once glorious country, purchased by the blood of many of Freedom’s gallant souls, is now rent in twain. That kind Heaven may avert the dangers that now menace us, and disperse the black and ominous clouds which obscure our political, social and financial atmosphere, is the earnest with of THE CARRIER.
CITY POLITICS. Meeting of the Eighteenth Ward Republicans. Speech of the Hon. John Covode.
A meeting of the workingmen of the Eighteenth Ward, who sympathize with the Republican Party and concur in its principles, was held last evening in the Demilt Dispensary, corner of Second-avenue and Twenty-third-street. The announcement that the leading speaker would be Hon. JOHN COVODE, contributed, no doubt, to the crowded assemblage by which the spacious hall was filled.
At 8 oɼlock the meeting was organized by the appointment of E. DELAFIELD SMITH as Chairman.
The subjoined preamble and resolutions were adpted without dissent:
Whereas, It is necessary for a union of the laboring classes to secure their rights, and, also, to secure free homes to free and actual settlers be it, therefore,
Resolved, That we recommend to our brother laborers of the Wards of the City of New-York the necessity of a union similar to ours of the Eighteenth Ward.
Resolved, That we pledge ourselves to support our candidates for every office -- especially if they are known to be interested in the welfare of the laboring classes.
[The resolutions that followed indorsed the nominations of ABRAHAM WAKEMAN for Congress, and of JESSE FONDA as member of the State Assembly from the Fourteenth District.]
Mr. SMITH, the Chairman, delivered a brief prefatory address, in the course of which "the Eighteenth Ward Rail-splitters" entered the room, preceded by a corps of drummers, and were received by a burst of cheers.
The next speaker was Mr. E.F. SHEPARD, who was followed by Hon. JOHN COVODE, who was introdued as the author of the "Life and Times of JAS. BUCHANAN."
Mr. COVODE said that he had come to New-York in compliance with the request of the Committee who had the management of such affairs as this in charge. He was not a talking man, but a working man, [applause,] and, as such, had made the discovery that this Administration of ours was rotten to the core. Now, as working men, what interest had they in sustaining a General Government unless it promoted the general good? They had no local interests to subserve by it, for they were secure in their homes, their schools, their local institutions of beneficence, in their farms and in their cities. Why then should they countenance or attempt to justify a Government which attempted to force a slave Constitution on a free Territory? Why tolerate murderers and ballot-box stuffers such as GEO. W. CLARK and JOHN CALHOUN? There was no other reason but party ties. He would admit that an honest man might cling to a party after all its prestige had gone, but this administration, he thought, was beyond that, and he was of opinion that it could be convicted under the statutes of this State -- first, of falsely personating another party, and next, of being made up of men who obtained office under fraudulent pretences. JEFFFERSON and JACKSON had been dethroned from the Democratic pedestal, and JOHN C. CALHOUN had been enthroned in their stead. Not only was the old wine all gone but the hoops, the head and the staves were all changed. Nothing was left of this old Democratic Party but the Custom-house certificate. [Laughter.] How had Mr. BUCHANAN been elected? It was on the plausible doctrine of Popular Sovereignty. But the power of Congress over the Territories was as old as the Constitution, and the history of Congress attested that and Mr. BUCHANAN was the representative of a party who held forth this doctrine in order that Slavery might have an opportunity to exclude free men and free labor from our Western Territories. This was a new invention -- apolitical baby that was born in 1854, and soon after was consigned to its bachelor nurse, and was subsequently so much mangled in Congress that even Judge DOUGLAS, its putative father, could hardly recognize its remains. Under the decision of the Supreme Court, to which the Dred Scott case had led, nothing had been left to the people in the Territories but Abolition, for, unless that was done, the Slave Power was supreme. If we stuck Democratic men to the question really in controversy -- the supremacy of free over slave labor -- they would say they adhered to the decision of the Court, and still they identified themselves with the party that desired the very doctrines which they (the Democrats) avowed. Mr. COVODE proceeded to argue that all the corruptions of the present Administration rest on its policy in regard to the admission of Kansas, and descanted at length on the venality for which, as he said, it has become so unenviable notorious.
He went on to detail some of the private history of his own Investigating Committee, in the management of which he took care that no Republican should be summoned as a witness, lest that fact might be made use of for electioneering purposes. He gave it very clearly to be inferred that the defection of half of the 22 Anti-Lecompton Democrats was brought about by pecuniary bribes. By way of exception he referred, in terms of warm eulogium, to JOHN B. HASKIN, of New-York, Mr. ADRAIN, of New-Jersey, and JOHN HICKMAN, of Pennsylvania. He next charged the Administration with having connived at the election frauds in Kansas, and again referred to the corruptions of the Administration, and the means by which it sought to insure its ascendancy.
Mr. WENDELL was made the subject of particular comment. I went, said Mr. COVODE, to the Bank of the Metropolis, where I knew Mr. WENDELL kept his account, and, on interrogating the clerk, was shown the book in which the disbursements to his order were made. There was A.E. that is one of the kind you want. There is S.U. that is one of the kind you want. "But what docs 'U.S.' mean?" "Oh," was the answer, "it means that the money is to be spent in promoting the cause of the party and of the country." [Laughter.] This Mr. WENDELL, Mr. C. continued to say, had paid $5,000 for Kansas in April. 1858. He (Mr. C.) asked of the clerk to whom that money had been paid, and was told it was paid to a Mr. BEAN, a clerk then and now in the House, and the editor of a newspaper in Ohio. As it was not until within a few days of the adjournment that Congress passed the appropriation for the Committee's expenses, he (Mr. C.) took $60 out of his own pocket, and sent the officer to Ohio to bring Mr. BEAN before the Committee. Mr. BEAN, however, had something important to do with Judge HALL but he came on. He was asked what the money was for, but hesitated to answer. At last he went to Mr. COVODE, and gave up at once. He said: "If I must give testimony it will ruin me I have a wife and children at home, and am the editor of a Democratic newspaper. [Laughter.] He (Mr. C.) admitted that he had some feeling for the man on account of his with and children, but the result of it was that the Committee found that Mr. BEAN and Judge HALL were from the same district in Ohio that they resided together in Washington, while Judge HALL was in Congress, and that $1,000 of that money had been taken out in a draft on a New-York Bank, just three days after they had lost Judge HALL's vote. That draft was obtained, but with one name so erased that it could not be read. The speaker made allusion to the enormous amounts of money that had been appropriated by the Democracy, to gain a triumph in 1856, and among other things recapitulated the testimony of PATRICK LAFFERTY, an employe in the Philadelphia Custom-House, who, with the wholesome fear of being sent to jail before his eyes, eventually admitted that he had issued two or three thousand fraudulent naturalization tickets that about 6,000, according to his belief were issued in all that Mr. BUCHANAN's majority in Pennsylvania was only 2,500, and therefore that Mr. BUCHANAN's election was the result of these frauds. Think of a little bit of an Irishman making, in that way, two or three thousand votes! [Laughter.]
Mr COVODE in further illustration of the abuses to which the Administration had lent itself, instanced the ease of the present editor of the Government organ at Washington, the Constitution, who held a clerkship in the New-York Custom-house, in which he performed no other labor than the drawing of his salary and that of Mr. GEO. W. BAKER, the nephew, by marriage, of Mr. BUCHANAN, who had been appointed to a place in the Philadelphia Custom-house with a salary of $100 a month for doing nothing. When asked as to what he did, BAKER said he conducted cases in Court for the Government. Mr. VAN DYKE, the District-Attorney, was sent for, and testified that Mr. BAKER had never appeared in Court but once or twice, and then it was to prosecute suits against the Government. [Laughter.[ Instead of dismissing him instantly, as Mr. BUCHANAN should have done, it was singular to note that the person who did soon find that his services were no longer needed, was Mr. VAN DYKE. [Suppressed groans.] Mr. COVODE went over the whole history of the relations between Mr. BUCHANAN and Gov. WALKER, in regard to the submission of the Constitution of Kansas to the vote of the people, and, in speaking of the celebrated letter of the President to the Governor, in which the former declared that the Constitution must be submitted to the people, he took occasion to accuse the President of perfidy, and with having sanctioned an outrage on popular rights. The speaker then, in compliance with a call from some one in the crowd, proceeded to express his views on the tariff question, and strongly to advocate the proprieiy of protection. He then took up the more prominent party issues involved in the present contest. The Republican Party he represented as having invariably given its support to those great measures of political reform and popular exigency which were most conducive to the welfare of the masses and, in conclusion, emphatically besought of the people of New-York to cast their electoral vote for LINCOLN, and thus avert the calamitous consequences that would surely befal the country if the election were sent into the House of Representatives.
At the close of his speech, (which lasted fully two hours) Mr. COVODE was loudly cheered.
Songs and speeches followed, and from the indications that were observable on the part of many of the audience, it would be natural to infer that the meeting did not break up until after midnight. The Chairman himself suggested the propriety of their "making a night of it."
Click on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time.
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National honors to Rebel dead? - A blistering letter about Confederate graves at Antietam
On January 17, 1868, Representative John Covode of Pennsylvania sat his desk in the US Capitol and penned a lengthy letter in rebuke to the Governor of New York Reuben Fenton. The Republican of Westmoreland County directed his ire at Governor Fenton for a letter that was written on December 3, 1867 about the newly opened Antietam National Cemetery.
In the letter written to John Jay, the New York commissioner on the board of the national cemetery, Fenton discussed his support for the interment of Confederate soldiers killed during the Battle of Antietam within the boundaries of the cemetery.
This suggestion enraged Covode. The politician lost one son leading the 4th Pennsylvania Cavalry and dealt with the long-lasting consequences of another son who survived Andersonville. Covode's saw his published letter printed in newspapers across Pennsylvania and other Union states.
The letter itself grapples with the meaning of the Civil War, the consequences for those who fought and those they left behind, and how the Confederacy and its supporters should be remembered. Covode fell squarely into a group that sought only to honor the fallen of the Union.
Governor Fenton was in the camp that sought reconciliation with the Southern states, supporting the interment of Confederate dead within Antietam National Cemetery. "They were Americans, misguided, indeed, and misled, but still our countrymen and we cannot remember them now either with enmity or unkindness," Fenton wrote to Jay.
Covode took umbrage at these words, telling the governor that the families of Union soldiers lost during the Civil War were "shocked and outraged by your recommendation to do honor to the author of their sorrows and the workers of their country’s woes."
The Covode letter illustrates the perspective of a grieving father who lost one son forever and feared the loss of another as a result of his shattered health as a result of the conflict. Covode refused to see how reconciliation with the defeated Confederates would honor the sacrifices of his children and the thousands of others who perished or were maimed during the conflict. While Confederate dead were never interred in Antietam National Cemetery, the reconcilationist camp later began to gains as the war's wounds began to heal and former Confederates reentered the political fray.
These battles over the Confederacy and its place in American history rage on today. The reconciliation model supported by Governor Reuben Fenton is threatened by a reawakening of Covode's sentiments about the legacy of the Confederacy and the soldiers who fought under its banner.
Below, you can read the Covode letter to Governor Fenton, as published in the Brookville Republican of Brookville, Pennsylvania on February 12, 1868.
National Honors to Rebel Dead
John Covode to Governor Fenton
Washington, D.C., January 17, 1868.
Sir: I have read with sorrow and astonishment your letter recommending national honors to rebels who invasion of the North was stopped by death in battle on the field of Antietam. You say:
“A strong local and individual feeling in the neighborhood of Antietam and other parts of Maryland, naturally engendered by the invasion, may have erected some indifference in regard to the Confederate dead, and an indisposition to see them buried side by side with those who died in defense of our nationality. But it is confidently believed no such feeling pervades the breasts of the American people, or the surviving officers and soldiers of the Union Army.
When we recall the generosity and moderation that marked the conduct of the people, the Government, and the army during the war, and the magnanimity that presided at its close when we remember that our countrymen are now engaged in the work of reconstructing the Union on the basis of universal freedom, and with an earnest desire to restore the Southern States a prosperity infinitely greater than that which slavery and rebellion conspired to destroy. It is impossible to believe that they would desire to make an invidious distinction against the mouldering remains of the Confederate dead, or that they would disapprove of their being carefully gathered from the spots where they fell and laid to rest in the National Cemetery, on the battlefield of Antietam.
Conquerors as we were in that great struggle, our stern disapproval of the cause in which they fought need not forbid our admiration of the bravery with which they died. They were Americans, misguided, indeed, and misled, but still our countrymen and we cannot remember them now either with enmity or unkindness.”
I have read these paragraphs twice and thrice, but a dimness, other than the film of age, obscures them to my vision. It is in vain that I have wiped the spectacles of an old man, and endeavored deliberately and clearly to see in your words a justification for the recommendation they make. Two forms come between me and the printed page.
They stay there and will not move away. One of them is the figure of my eldest son, the Colonel of the 4th Pennsylvania Cavalry – as brave, devoted, and generous a boy as ever filled a father’s heart with pride, and made a mother happy.
He covered with his regiment a retrograde movement of a column of our army under Sheridan, in June 1864, fighting every rod of his way. He fell badly wounded. His men endeavored to carry him off but hotly pursued, several of them were killed or disabled. He told his Major to leave him and save himself and the command, and try to make a stand on the next height, and there gain time for the great wagon train ahead to escape to the James River.
My son was laid upon the grass beside the highway, his men obeying his orders to return to their ranks, and leave him with the dead and the wounded of his regiment to await capture.
The rebels soon came up, and, as I have been told, shot him gain, when he lay helpless on the ground, stripped him of his sword, money, watch, boots and clothing, and left him naked to die. An old colored woman, living in the neighborhood, brought him water to drink while he was dying. The next day he was buried in her garden.
Gov. Fenton, the figure of this murdered boy comes between my eyes and the text of your recommendation of national honors to the rebel dead, that I cannot see in it a reason from which fathers and mothers who love their children should not shock patriots who have loved their country, and have made sacrifices for it.
There is, sir, another figure which makes filmy reading through my old spectacles. My youngest son, a private in the 4th Pennsylvania Cavalry, who entered the army before he was 15 years of age, was captured at Sulphur Springs, when Meade fell back to Centreville, with 156 of his regiment, 142 of whom afterwards died in prison.
Twenty-four of those who died went out in the Covode cavalry, from my immediate neighborhood – all sons of my neighbors – all objects of interest and care to me. After passing from one den of imprisonment and cruelty to another, they were finally immured with thousands of other unfortunates in the death pen of Andersonville. Eighteen months of hunger and nakedness, exposure to the scorching sun and the winter’s freezing, did their work on these stalwart and brave men.
Many of them died idiotic, some of them feebly insane – all the victims of a system of starvation and cruelly planned by demons and executed by devils. My son’s bodily vigor and resoluteness of spirit carried him through the horrors of Andersonville, with life left in him – with hardly anything more. He is home again with his mother, and I have just received a letter from her urging me to “try another doctor, for he grows worse.” But the energetic, intelligent, hopeful, self-reliant, brave boy, who left my house to fight the enemies of his country, has not returned to me, and he never will return.
I think that you will find that, in common with me, hundreds of loyal men, whose hearts yet bleed with wounds received in the wicked war the slaveholders waged against the nation’s life, have been shocked and outraged by your recommendation to do honor to the author of their sorrows and the workers of their country’s woes.
Had you served in the army, either in person or through a son, and presented your offerings of patriotism to your country on the picket line or the line of pitched battle, you would never have made the heartless mistake you have, in what your biographer, writing your life, will call “the Antietam Letter.”
How much I wish you had imitated the manly and sympathetic behavior of Governor Geary, of Pennsylvania, a soldier and statesman, who thus repelled the proposition to mingle the rebel with the Union dead under the Antietam monument.
“The custom has ever prevailed to specially honor those in death who won special honor by meritorious lives. The monuments reared to the memory of departed worth bear ample testimony that our people have not been unmindful of this custom. But where were such memorials ever erected for men whose actions were infamous, and who perished in an ignoble cause? Who would glorify the treason of Benedict Arnold with such monuments as have arisen to the memory of Washington? Who would dare to insult the loyal heart of this nation by proposing to lay side by side, in the same sepulcher, the body of the assassin Booth and that of Abraham Lincoln?
No loyal man would take the heartless Wirz and the other demons that presided over the prison dens of cruelty, starvation and death, and the executed conspirators against the nation’s illustrious chief, and deposit them in the same tomb with the patriotic men who sacrificed their lives in battling for ‘the right against the wrong.’
Yet it is proposed that the loyal States construct cemeteries for their heroic dead and then desecrate them by the burial therein of those who prosecuted against their country a warfare which for its diabolical ferocity is without a parallel in the history of civilization, and even to erect monuments to their memory. Carry out this purpose, and what inducement can be hereafter offered to the loyal citizen to fight against treason, when he feels assured that should he fall in battle the traitor’s grave will be honored equally with his own.
The cause of the Union was a holy one, while that which opposed it must have been its converse. To one side along the glory belongs. This was not a war of nations but of treason against loyalty. It was a contest of rebels who would have drained the life’s blood of the government which had sustained and protected them, against its patriotic sons who fought to save it from destruction. It was a war carried on by the defenders and promoters of oppression, against the friends and lovers of liberty and their country’s integrity.
While there is no reasonable objection to giving decent sepulture even to the rebel dead, those who consider them deserving of honorable testimonials may give them. It is our duty to render honor only to whom honor is due.”
It is with grief, Governor Fenton, that I write this letter to you. The subject is painful to me. But there sits on my hearthstone, and there lies in my village graveyard, and their broods in my heart a controlling reason why, since the appearance of your Antietam letter, I should regard your entrance in the National Republican Convention, a candidate for office, as an intrusion to which the survivors of the Union Army, and the relatives of its dead and wounded, should sternly object.
The People’s Contest
As we head into winter I am once again reminded that another year at The People’s Contest has passed. In fact, this year when February rolls around it won’t just be my fifth year at the Penn State Libraries, it will be the project’s fifth year. This anniversary seems like a good time to go back and look at what we have accomplished. Few digital projects last this long so not only have we achieved that important landmark, it looks like the project is just getting going with lots of new activities planned for the future.
So here is some background on the project:
The People’s Contest Civil War Era Digital Archiving Project was originally funded by an IMLS planning grant which had come about as a result of Bill Blair’s, (Head of the George and Anne Richards Civil War Center here at Penn State) interest in digitizing material. Working with then Assistant Dean Mike Furlough (now Ex. Director of the Hathi Trust) and Eric Novotny our history librarian, Blair sought to promote research into the lived experiences of people on the northern home front during the Civil War. Very little research has been done into this facet of the war, largely due to a lack of sources. A scholars board came up with a date span for the project defining the war years 1851-1874.
During that first planning year I came on board as project coordinator. I was joined in the field by Matt Isham, then a doctoral candidate (now Richards Center Manager). Together we surveyed the holdings of 10 small archives the first year and catalogued over 400 manuscript collections. Matt also wrote his essay, now available on our website, The Northern Home Front during the Civil War: A Quest to Understand. By the end of the year we had launched a website, published our database of collections, and were planning to digitize.
Soon we began selecting and digitizing those collections that seemed especially valuable to scholars. Our first collection was the Papers of John Covode owned by the Heinz History Center in Philadelphia. This process involved almost every department in the libraries, preservation prepped the collections, cataloging and metadata prepared the online records and digitization imaged the manuscripts. And when we needed to work on our webpages or database I-Tech was involved. Though many projects in the libraries involve multiple departments, ours was unique in the extent to which our activities spanned not only departments in the libraries, but within the University and across the state. We also began bringing students into our activities in various capacities. We had both graduates and undergraduates helping conduct surveys, add metadata, transcribe and describe collections.
Now as we head into our SIXTH year where are we going?
Well by the end of this year we will have 26 digital collections online. Represented are letters, diaries, scrapbooks, material written by women, African Americans, students and more. We have nearly 1000 records in our database and several new essays to read by prominent scholars in the field. Our first Graduate Assistant is helping build new exhibits, we will soon have several datasets for display and download, and our transcription tool is up and running. And we have ambitions to explore working with ledgers and economic data. So check out our project and plan to come back regularly because you will certainly see more each time you visit The People’s Contest.
JOHN BANKS' CIVIL WAR BLOG
"To call it a battle is to dignify it by a title that it does not deserve: it was a slaughter, a massacre," a Pennsylvania newspaperman opined in a searing editorial.
|The Fredericksburg dog story appeared in |
the Raftsman's Journal, a Clearfield, Pa., newspaper,
on Jan. 21, 1863. The story was published
in other Northern newspapers as well.
"We are butchered like so many animals," wrote a Pennsylvania captain who was there.
Amidst considerable post-battle coverage another story appeared -- the poignant account of a dead Pennsylvania soldier and a dog. The short story was published in many Northern newspapers, several appearing under the headline "Singular Fidelity of a Dog on the Battlefield." (The story was published in some Southern newspapers as well.)
On the Monday after the battle, according to the story, Pennsylvania Congressman John Covode and several officers walked the plain beyond Fredericksburg. Two days earlier, on Dec. 13, 1862, wave after wave of Union soldiers had been cut down there in a futile effort to dislodge Confederates from an impregnable position at Marye's Heights. As Union burial crews went about their ghastly work during a truce, Covode's party came upon a heart-rending scene: a small dog lying by the corpse of a soldier.
"Mr. Covode halted a few minutes to see if life was extinct," according to the story. "Raising the coat from the man's face, he found him dead. The dog, looking wishfully up, ran to the dead man's face and kissed his silent lips. Such devotion in a small dog was so singular that Mr. Covode examined some papers upon the body, and found it to be that of Sergeant W.H. Brown, Company C, Ninety-first Pennsylania."
The soldier was William Henry Brown, a 27-year-old laborer from Philadelphia. Married to Sarah Christine in 1857, he stood 5 feet 5 1/2 inches, had a fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.
|Pennsylvania Congressman John Covode, a Republican, |
visited Fredericksburg shortly after the battle.
(Library of Congress)
Elements of the story are indisputable: Covode, a 54-year-old abolitionist and Republican congressman from Pennsylvania's 19th district, traveled to Fredericksburg after the battle, ostensibly as chairman of the Committee on the Conduct of the War but undoubtedly also out of concern for the welfare of his state's soldiers. (A story made the rounds that Covode had been captured by Confederates while visiting the town, but it was false.) In the final wave of attacks on the heights, William Henry Brown of the 91st Pennsylvania had indeed been mortally wounded at Fredericksburg. But here's where this story, a footnote in history, takes a slight twist.
Obviously concerned about the fate of her husband, Sarah Brown may have read the account of William's impromptu funeral in a newspaper. She made an inquiry to his commanding officer, Captain Theodore Parsons. Two days before Christmas 1862, from the 91st Pennsylvania's camp near Fredericksburg, he wrote a two-page reply. (See letter and complete transcription below.)
|91st Pennsylvania Captain Theodore Parsons (above) explained the |
circumstances of William Brown's death in a note to the soldier's
widow. "I think that death relieved him of a great deal of pain
for he suffered untold agony," he wrote.
(Photo courtesy Joe Fulginiti)
Aware of the congressman's visit, Parsons wrote: "Hon John Covode is very near correct with the difference that it was not on the battle field but three miles away that [William] died, and I left Conrad [Brown, perhaps William's brother] and John Wright to bury him as I was ordered away with the company." According to the captain, Brown died on the Falmouth, Va., side of the Rappahannock River, not on the battlefield.
Of course, this dog of war story begs many questions:
In relaying the story to a reporter, could Congressman Covode have been incorrect on the date and location of Brown's death? Was Brown really dead when Covode saw him? Did Parsons have his own details of the story incorrect? Did a newspaper reporter -- fake news! -- simply get details of the story wrong? Did the dog really belong to Brown?
Is this story simply embellished . and, if so, by whom?
And, if true, whatever became of the little dog that kissed the corpse of a soldier at Fredericksburg?
POSTSCRIPT: Wounded severely in the left leg at Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863, Theodore Parsons did not survive the war. His leg was amputated, and he died of pyaemia at Seminary Hospital in the Georgetown section of Washington on June 26, 1863. He was 29.
Death also rocked the family of Congressman Covode during the war. His son, George Hay Covode, an officer in the 4th Pennsylvania Cavalry, was killed at Saint Mary's Church, Va., on June 24, 1864. Nearly three years after the Civil War ended, Covode introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives to impeach President Andrew Johnson, Abraham Lincoln's successor.
On Feb. 28, 1863, Sarah Brown successfully applied for a widow's pension. She initially received the standard $8 a month. Beginning in September 1916, her pension was increased to $20 a month. Unable to care for herself later in life, she was assisted by her niece. Brown died of senility on May 4, 1924. She never re-married.
Whether Sergeant William Brown's remains were returned to Pennsylvania is unknown.
|(National Archives via fold3.com)|
Dec, 23rd 1862
Mrs Sarah Brown,
I received your letter of inquiry in regard to your Husband William Henry and I am sorry to inform you that he was mortally wounded on the 13th inst and died, from the effects of his wounds on the morning of the 16th he was brought to this side of the river and had his leg amputated and had attention paid him untill he was buried. I was present with him when he died, and I think that death relieved him of a great deal of pain for he suffered untold agony from the time he was wounded he was struck by a shell which injured both legs and tore off part of his thigh. The account of his burial .
Clifford and Vira Heinz
The youngest of H. J. Heinz’s sons was born in 1883 and grew up in the shadow of three older siblings. In 1905, he entered Lafayette and eventually moved to a career with the H. J. Heinz Company’s Pittsburgh works. He married Vira Ingham of Pittsburgh in 1932 and died a scant three years later in Palm Springs.
Vira would never remarry, but she would embark on a career of philanthropy that would go on for more than four decades. She worked in the homefront war effort during World War II and went on to participate in the founding of the Civic Light Opera, serve on the boards of the Pittsburgh Opera and Symphony Society and become the first woman trustee of Carnegie Mellon University.
Her devotion to Pittsburgh and the region she called home continued even after her death in 1983. As part of her will, she established the Vira I. Heinz Endowment, which continues her generous work in giving back to Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania.