The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Stephen Greenleaf Bulfinch, Post 8

The following excerpt is from the diary of Stephen Greenleaf Bulfinch. Over the past two months the posts to the Beehive from the diary have been almost weekly as part of the Civil War series. From this point forward, the posts will be monthly -- except in the few months where Bulfinch provides no comment about the war in his diary. 

This particular post is rather timely, as today marks the opening of the Society's newest exhibition The Purchase By Blood: Massachusetts in the Civil War, 1861-1862. The terrible loss of life suffered by Massachusetts' regiments at the Battle of Ball's Bluff, referenced by Bulfinch as "a recent skirmish near Harper’s Ferry," is a focal point of the exhibtion.

In this entry Bulfinch makes a slight mistake in identifying Col. Edward Baker. While Baker had lived in California for a number of years, he was a resident of Oregon at the time of his enlistment. He was elected to represent Oregon in the the US Senate in 1860. Baker was the only sitting US senator killed in the Civil War. 

Friday, Oct. 25th, 1861

The war advances slowly. The late engagements seem as much against as for us. We have to mourn the death of the gallant Col. Baker of Cala, & the death or capture of other valuable officers, - among them some of distinguished Boston families, in a recent skirmish near Harper’s Ferry. "O Lord, how long?"

Bulfinch's pen remains silent in November 1861. Be sure to check back in December for his 15 December 1861 entry in which he comments on Union successes through the fall of 1861, the developing Trent Affair, and makes a prediction about the outcome of the war.

permalink | Published: Friday, 7 October, 2011, 8:00 AM


Commenting has closed for this post. Thank you for participating.