London Times correspondent William H. Russell interviewed leaders in both North and South in early 1861, though his accurate reporting on the Northern rout at First Manassas left him unwelcome in Lincoln’s country afterward.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org
Drive the Yankees Beyond the Susquehanna
“I mentioned [to President Jefferson Davis on May 9th] that I had seen great military preparations through the South, and was astonished at the alacrity with which the people sprang to arms. “Yes, sir,” he remarked . . . We are not less military because we have had no standing armies. But perhaps we are the only people in the world where gentlemen go to a military academy who do not intend to follow the profession of arms.”
Mr. Davis made no allusion to the authorities in Washington, but he asked me if I thought it was supposed in England that there would be a War between the States? I answered that I was under the impression the public thought there would be no actual hostilities. “And yet you see we are driven to take up arms for the defense of our rights and liberties.”
As I saw an immense mass of papers on his table, I rose and made my bow, and Mr. Davis, seeing me to the door, gave me his hand and said, “As long as you may stay among us you shall receive every facility it is in our power to afford you, and I shall always be glad to see you”
The news that two more States had joined the Confederacy, making ten in all, was enough to put [Secretary of War Walker and General Beauregard] in good humor. “Is it not too bad these Yankees will not let us go our own way, and keep their cursed Union to themselves? If they force us into it, we may be obliged to drive them beyond the Susquehanna.”
Being invited to attend a levee or reception held by Mrs. Davis, the President’s wife, I returned to the hotel to prepare for the occasion. On my way I passed a company of volunteers, one hundred and twenty artillerymen, and three field pieces, on their way to the station for Virginia, followed by a crowd of “citizens” and Negroes of both sexes, cheering vociferously.
The band was playing that excellent quick-step “Dixie.” The men were stout, fine fellows, dressed in coarse grey tunics with yellow facings and French caps. The Zouave mania is quite as rampant here as it is in New York, and the smallest children are thrust into baggy red breeches, which the learned Lipsius might had appreciated, and are sent out with flags and tin swords to impede the highways.”
(America Through British Eyes, Allan Nevins, Oxford University Press, 1948, pp. 272-273)