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Valley of the Shadow

Semi-Weekly Dispatch: December 31, 1861

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-Page 01-

Description of Page: Advertisements, columns 1-3; report of a fire in Washington that burned the government stables with 500 horses inside, report that seventeen "old whalers" were sunk in Charleston harbor to protect the blockade, brief article from the Richmond Enquirer concerning the Trent, column 4; anecdotes, column 5

The Contraband Question
(Column 5)
Summary: Relates a proposal being considered in Congress for solving the question of what to do with slaves in the custody of the federal government.
Full Text of Article:

Prominent members of Congress are considering a new proposition for the solution of the "Contraband" question, in order to avoid the expense of supporting crowds of slaves in idleness, and to furnish the American mills with cotton. They take the ground that the Indian territory west of Louisiana and Arkansas was ceded to the United States by treaty, and on certain conditions. Without provocation they have violated the treaties and "levied war" on the United States, thus rendering the treaties null and void.--The countries thus reverting to the Government embraces the valleys of the Red, Arkansas and other rivers, and contain about twenty millions of acres of cotton land, of unsurpassed fertility, capable of producing about fifteen millions of bales of cotton per annum.

It is proposed to apply the principle of Benton's "Florida Armed Occupation Act," and send all "contrabands" to this Territory, and apprentice them to the settlers upon these cotton lands, leaving the question of their final disposition to be settled by Congress at the close of the war. All contrabands, as fast as they come into camp, to be promptly forwarded thither.

The country is approached from St. Louis through Springfield, a distance of three hundred miles. The remainder of the railroad from Rolla, through Springfield to Fort Smith can be completed in twelve months. It is said that the plantations of the Choctaws and Chickassaws alone could fully supply the American mills, even in the first year of the experiment.

-Page 02-

Description of Page: Article concerning the death of Prince Albert, column 1; official correspondence between the Secretary of State and Lord Lyons concerning the Trent affair, taken from the National Intelligencer, columns 2 and 3; advertisements, columns 4 and 5

England's Ultimatum
(Column 1)
Summary: Reports that the President's Cabinet is considering whether to accept England's demands that the United States issue an apology for seizing Mason and Slidell from their ship and surrender the two men so as to avoid possible war with England.

-Page 03-

Description of Page: Advertisements, column 5

Gen. Negley's Brigade
(Column 1)
Summary: Reports that General Negley's Brigade now consists of four regiments--those of Colonel Sirwell, Colonel Hambright, Colonel Starkweather (the 1st Wisconsin), and Colonel Scribner (38th Indiana). The brigade is now stationed at Camp Hood, Bacon Creek, Kentucky. Colonel Stumbaugh's Regiment has been transferred to General Wood's Brigade, now near Bowling Green, Kentucky.
(Column 1)
Summary: Recounts community events that occurred on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Chambersburg.
Full Text of Article:

The day was observed by a general suspension of business by our people.

Gen. O. Seilhamer, Esq., delivered his original, humorous and descriptive Poem, entitled "The Times," to a respectable audience, in Franklin Hall. It is a creditable composition, and during its recitation was frequently applauded. The same Poem delivered by "Doesticks," Saxe, Benjamin, or some other noted lecturer, would be pronounced by many a first-rate production.

On Christmas eve, the Lutheran Sabbath School, under the care of its excellent Superintendent, G. R. Messersmith, Esq., held a Musical Festival in the Church, which was largely attended. A number of pieces were played and sung in fine style, alternately, by an orchestra, and some twenty of the Sabbath School children. The children, who were dressed in white, occupied a platform in front of the pulpit, made a very interesting and imposing appearance. The decorations of the Church were very neat and attractive--a large star, formed of jets of burning gas, above the platform, adding such to the beauty and harmony of the whole.

Colored Emigrants to Hayti
(Column 1)
Summary: Reports that "several large companies" of African Americans have left American ports in the past two years bound for Haiti. Reprints an invitation presented by President Geffrard to "colored people of the world" to come to Haiti.
Full Text of Article:

Hayti is naturally attracting the attention of the intelligent colored men of this country, and within the last two years several large companies have left different ports in our country for that genial clime. A few months ago some twenty-six colored persons from Bellfonte and Lewistown, Pa., left New York for Hayti, and highly favorable accounts have been received from the emigrants.

The following is the invitation of President Geffrard to the colored people of the world to emigrate to Hayti:

"Invitation.--Hayti will soon regain her ancient splendor. This marvellous [sic] soil that our fathers, blessed by God, conquered for us, will soon yield to us the wealth now hidden in its bosom. Let our black and yellow brethren, scattered through the Antilles, and North and South America, hasten to co-operate with us in restoring the glory of the Republic. Hayti is the common country of the black race. Our ancestors, in taking posession [sic] of it, were careful to announce in the Constitution that they published that all the descendants of Africans, and of the inhabitants of the West Indies, belong by right to the Haytian family. The idea was grand and generous.

"Listen, then, all ye negroes and mulattoes who, in the vast continent of America, suffer from the prejudices of caste. The Republic calls you; she invites you to bring to her your arms and your minds. The regenerating work that she undertakes interests all colored people and their descendants, no matter what their origin or where their place of birth.

"Hayti, regaining her former position, retaking her ancient sceptre as Queen of the Antilles, will be a formal denial, most eloquent and peremptory, against those detractors of our race who contest our desire and ability to attain a high degree of civilization.


We understand there are six or eight enterprising colored persons of this place who have it in contemplation to emigrate to Hayti.

(Column 2)
Summary: Reports that a series of meetings have lately been held in the northwestern part of Franklin County conducted by the Reverend R. Kelly, assisted by the Reverend J. W. Cleaver, both of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Estimates that over one hundred and fifty persons have professed conversion.
Teachers' Association
(Column 2)
Summary: Reports that the Franklin County Teachers' Association held its regular meeting in the Washington Street school room from the previous Wednesday until Friday evening. The Reverend F. Dyson presided over the meeting, at which about 120 members were in attendance.
Letters from the Victors
(Column 3)
Summary: Prints a letter from Sergeant J. A. Davidson, a Chambersburg resident who was present at the battle of Dranesville.
(Names in announcement: Sergeant J. A. Davidson)
Trailer: J. A. Davidson
Letter from Easton's Battery
(Column 3)
Summary: Prints a letter written by Mr. William Weston of Chambersburg to his parents. The letter concerns Weston's observances and actions at the battle of Dranesville.
(Names in announcement: Wm. Weston)
Trailer: Wm. Weston
A Rebel Letter
(Column 4)
Summary: A letter found on a soldier from the 10th Alabama who was killed at Dranesville. The letter was from the man's mother, Sarah Gover.
Full Text of Article:

We are indebted to the kindness of Mr. David Piper, of this place, for the following letter, taken from the body of a Rebel soldier, of the 10th Alabama regiment, who was among the killed at Dranesville. It confirms the statements we have frequently published of the great destitution prevailing at the South in the articles of food and clothing. We publish it almost entire, although we have endeavored to make it somewhat more readable than the original:

Talladega, Ala., Nov. 5, 1861.

Dear Son:--I seat myself to write you a few lines to let you know how we all are in the possession of good health, hoping these lines may find you enjoying the same blessing. I have neglected writing to you, and will now endeavor to make atonement by writing you a long, interesting letter. There is nothing here but hard times and distress for every mother that has a son in the army; but we try to make the best of it we can, and you boys must do the same. You ought to prepare your immortal souls for eternity, for none of you know the moment when you will be called hence. Don't put off the day of preparation, and think it won't be you that will be called, for it may as likely be you as any other. Don't forget the endearments of home--father, mother, brothers and sisters--yet don't grieve about home. I can't help but think that the day will come when we shall welcome you and all the boys home once more. We mourn the dead, and feel anxious for any of you that are sick. Mrs. Dickerson is greatly grieved about her son, Tip, and I am sorry for her.

There is nothing talked about here, but something to eat--that is, meat and coffee. Almost half of the families in this part of the country are drinking rye coffee, for there is no coffee to get for love or money, nor won't be until Lincoln's blockade is torn up. They have bursted [sic] them up at Charleston and New Orleans, and such a cry for wool to make clothes for the soldiers I never heard. The ladies here are still hard at work for the soldiers. I sewed last week for Captain Ed. Turner's company, and could hardly save enough wool to make clothes for the little children. All the ladies in this country wear homespun--the rich as well as the poor. There is nothing in the stores here, and it is nothing uncommon to see a lady at church with a homespun dress on.

Tell James Lewis his pa and ma stayed here last night, and they are all well. Your uncle and aunt Abner stayed with us a few nights back, and they were all well. Pa says to tell you he is gathering his corn, and it is very good. He says he will make four times as much as he did last year. He says, "burst up them Yankees and come home," for he has got three good fire-places in the house now, and he will have you a big fire on, so you can take a good warming. You said in your letter you sent me a lock of your hair, but it never came. You must send it yet. Don't have your hair trimmed no more this winter, for it will make you take cold. I have got more clothes for you, and you must write for them long before you need them, so as to give me a chance to send them by some one. I have woven you a blanket and some woolen drawers, and I wish you now had them. Your pa says he has tried all over town to get you a hat, and he can't find one that is worth carrying home. He says if he can't do any better, he will have to send you your old one. He says it is no use to talk about boots, for we can hardly get enough leather to make shoes, as the speculators have been round, and bought up all the leather, and make the people pay just such prices as they please. We can't get any kind of shoes for less than $2,50 or $3,00, and there will be many a one will have to go barefooted here this winter, for there is no money to buy with.

"Your sister and Tom were married the first Sunday of October. They were married at our house at nine o'clock in the morning, and went to church at Concord. Be sure, my son, to write by every chance, for it was five weeks that I got no letter from you, and I was sure you were sick. Tell Tip Sis got his letter, and tell him to take good care of himself, and try to get well. When any of the boys write, just ask them to say you are well, for we do dread sickness for you so much. I do not know who are in your mess, but try and be agreeable, for if you don't, it will come here and cause talk.

We hear almost everything that is done at your encampment. Be certain to let me know if you want your blanket, for I wish to send it to you. I have sent your envelopes, and also scraps of jeans to patch you pants with, in Tip's and Aleck's clothes, and have marked them to you. Write to me whether your butter and ham spoilt or not, for I was in hope they would reach you safely, and thought they would be a good treat to you.

Write soon and often. I must now close.

Your affectionate mother,

To James A. Gover.

(Column 5)
Summary: Mr. Samuel Croft of St. Thomas and Miss Anna Mary Embich were married on December 24. Miss Embich is the daughter of Henry Embich, Esq., of Chambersburg.
(Names in announcement: Mr. Samuel Croft, Miss Anna Mary Embich, Henry EmbichEsq.)
(Column 5)
Summary: Mr. Thomas H. Cook and Miss Mary E. McGaffigan, both of Chambersburg, were married on December 25 in Christ's Church.
(Names in announcement: Mr. Thomas H. Cook, Miss Mary E. McGaffigan)
(Column 5)
Summary: Mr. Samuel Hurst of Washington County, Maryland, and Miss Nancy Lesher "of this vicinity" were married on December 26.
(Names in announcement: Mr. Samuel Hurst, Miss Nancy Lesher)
(Column 5)
Summary: Mr. George W. McCleary and Miss Caroline Knepper, both of Quincy township, were married on December 26.
(Names in announcement: Mr. George W. McCleary, Miss Caroline Knepper)

-Page 04-

Description of Page: Proceedings of Congress, column 1; prices current, column 2; advertisements, columns 2-5