On February 17, 1863, Karl Marx received a letter from his friend and collaborator, Friedrich Engels, discussing the course of the American Civil War. A leader of the international revolutionary movement since the publication of TheCommunist Manifesto in 1848, Marx had taken a keen interest in the Civil War.
From London, Marx had written articles for the New York Herald Tribune until 1862, frequently arguing that the Union crusade against slavery was to the benefit of workingmen everywhere.
On February 16, 1863, Kansas State University became one of many public institutes of higher education to be founded under the authority of the Morrill Land Grant Act.
Signed by President Lincoln in 1862, the Morrill Act promised 30,000 acres of federal land to each state for the purpose of supporting higher learning in the agricultural and mechanical arts. The Morrill Act however refused to provide any such assistance to states currently in rebellion.
On February 15, 1863, Captain Robert Gould Shaw arrived in Boston to assume command of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry. Memorialized in the film Glory, the 54th Massachusetts Infantry consisted of free black men recruited mostly from the North.
The son of a prominent abolitionist, Shaw joined the 7th New York Infantry Regiment in April of 1861. He later fought with the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry at the pivotal battle of Antietam.
On February 13, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln took time off from the Civil War to host a wedding reception at the Executive Mansion for the entertainer Tom Thumb and his new bride, Lavinia Warren.
Born as Charles Sherwood Stratton on January 3, 1838, Tom Thumb stopped growing normally at 6 months of age. As an adult, he stood at around 2 1/2 feet. Discovered by distant relative P.T. Barnum, Thumb was taught to sing, dance, mime and impersonate famous people, including Napoleon Bonaparte.
On February 12, 1863, the West Virginia Constitutional Convention reconvened in Wheeling. On October 24, 1861, voters in 39 northwestern counties had voted to secede from the state of Virginia after it had joined the Confederacy earlier in the year.
On February 11, 1863, in Yadkin County, North Carolina, a small group of men facing the Confederate draft resolved to flee to the Union. As reported by the North Carolina Museum of History, the militia learned that the men were meeting at a local schoolhouse and surrounded them.
On February 7, 1863, a commentator for the London Illustrated News wrote a bitterly critical assessment of the Union’s conduct of the American Civil War. The commentator was especially unsparing in his criticism of President Lincoln.
He observed that while the President was seemingly a “well-meaning man,” he had unfairly placed the burden of victory squarely on Union soldiers, as though sheer bravery could compensate for the incompetence of their officers and commander-in-chief.
On February 7, 1863, Second Lieutenant John Whittier Messer Appleton became the first white officer commissioned to serve with the 54th Massachusetts Infantry. Led by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, and memorialized in the film Glory, the 54th Massachusetts Infantry consisted of approximately 1,100 free black men recruited mostly from the North.
The regiment included among its ranks two sons from freed slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. After training through the spring of 1863, the 54th paraded through downtown Boston on May 28, before embarking to Charleston.
On February 6, 1863, Secretary of State Seward announced that the Union was rejecting a French offer to mediate in the American Civil War.
With ambitions rivaling those of his more famous uncle, Emperor Napoleon III had hoped to establish a military alliance with the Confederacy, and to build a French colonial empire in Mexico. Napoleon’s efforts in Mexico were dealt a setback on May 5, 1862, however, when a French army was defeated by Mexican forces.
On February 3, 1863, a Confederate assault led by Major General Joseph Wheeler failed to dislodge a Union fortification at Ft. Donelson on the Cumberland River. The purpose of the attack had been to disrupt Union shipping.