Saturday, November 3, 2007

ON THIS DAY: Sunday, Nov. 3, 1861

From his headquarters at Cairo, Illinois, Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant occupies himself with orders to his commanders to pursue the pesky Jeff Thompson, reported to still be in southeastern Missouri with 3,000 men. “The object of the expedition is to destroy this force, and the manner of doing it is left largely to your discretion…” Grant writes one of his commanders.

In his camp in western Virginia, Rutherford B. Hayes, newly minted as lieutenant colonel of the 23rd Ohio, tells his diary, “I must learn all the duties of colonel, see that Colonel [Eliakim] Scammon [commander of the 23rd Ohio] does not forget or omit anything. He is ready to [do] all but so forgetful. He loves to talk….”

A Confederate sympathizer who is in Hayes’ camp on a flag of truce says he “entertains not the shadow of a doubt that the Confederate states will achieve independence.” His remarks suggest that Southerners have come to demonize Lincoln and regard him as the chief obstacle to reunion, as if there were no other serious issues. The demonizing of political opponents to obscure deeper concerns is a practice that will continue into the 21st century.

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