Friday, July 3, 2015

June 23, 1861 - Confederates to Celebrate July 4

Consul Robert Bunch, Our Man in Charleston, is still trying to deal with a bit of scandal provoked by W. H. Russell's account of Southern banter about rejoining the British Empire which has now made it to the front page of "Harper's Weekly." Bunch reflects ironically on the upcoming celebration of July 4 in the Confederate States.

Bunch to Lyons, "Private": 

June 23 - ... We have had quite a tempest in a teapot concerning Russell. You will see from my letter to his namesake Ld. John what I think of it — the revelation is [uncommonly?] awkward just now as regards the [several?] states of the new Confederacy, but the fact is undeniable.

I have had many letters from Russell and his companion Mr. Ward. The last from Memphis, June 18.

I am writing to your Lordship at the coolest window in my home, hour 11:30 a.m. Mrs. Bunch is amusing herself with tying the thermometer which is just now at 93 close to me, and is running up fast. The mosquitoes are [cavorting?] blithely round my ankles which are wrapped in a pieced of gauze. You may fancy how a summer campaign with volunteer troops would "eventuate" in our rice swamps.

There has been some disputing here as to whether or no the 4th of July should sill be kept in the Southern States. The decision is in the affirmative. I have always looked upon the celebration of the day by the Americans as an amiable trait in their character, as showing a disposition to be very grateful for very little. If an Englishman still regrets the issue of the revolutionary war or is mortified by the celebration of "Independence Day," he is amply compensated for his wounded feelings—Yorktown is fully avenged — the sight of the hostile armies in Virginia ought to satisfy him.

Meanwhile, Russell is scrambling in Illinois: 

June 23—The latest information which I received today is of a nature to hasten my departure for Washington; it can no longer be doubted that a battle between the two armies assembled in the neighborhood of the capital is imminent.

Letter from Bunch to Lord Lyons, the British minister in Washington, courtesy of the Duke of Norfolk Archives, Arundel Castle, West Sussex, UK

Cartoon from Harper's Weekly courtesy The American Library in Paris

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