The Johnson Dispatch of 1867 (Wentworth Trunk)

Following the loss of the District of Columbia in November 1867, the Wentworth Trunk remains the single, largest repository of pre-Moon presidential documents. Horus Wentworth, a White House butler, reached the Manhattan Knickerbocker line on December 11. (All excerpts are at the permission of the New-York History Museum's American Dissolution Exhibit)
Following the loss of the District of Columbia in November 1867, the Wentworth Trunk remains the single, largest repository of pre-Moon presidential documents. Horatio Wentworth, a White House butler, reached the Manhattan Knickerbocker line on December 11. (All excerpts are at the permission of the New-York History Museum’s American Dissolution Exhibit)

Editor’s Note: The following dispatch was sent to Washington D.C. in late October. Ostentatiously, it addresses the confirmation of Gov. Jenkins in Reconstruction Georgia. Jenkins, of course, would not live to be inaugurated.

MILLEDGEVILLE, Georgia, Oct. 21, 1867.

His Excellency Andrew Johnson, President:

You will be delighted to know that the state senate has confirmed Gov. Jenkins, as anticipated. He is, as you know, loyal to the reconstruction effort and I foresee no future differences between Washington and his office. We shall make every effort to assist in the transition.

I must now turn to the discomforting events of the past week. While Georgia is hardly the Capitol, we receive our fair share of dispatches from across the South. These overwhelmingly express universal dismay over what our Dr. Bridges (of Harvard fame) has termed a “singular astronomical event.” He refers of course to the darkly-unwholesome satellite that appeared in the sky three evenings ago.

The men have named it the Black Moon. It is a baleful thing.

The second Moon’s rise was heralded with the lowing of cattle about Milliedgeville, and the rusty caw of crows. The inhabitants took to the streets to gawk, but fear soon overcame curiosity. The Georgians now nail their shutters shut and hang crosses and colorful, local charms across the slats. I cannot gainsay them this false comfort, and must admit that I type this missive to the cadence of hammers which ring throughout my own home.

Unfortunately, as I understand you have learned from other, better connected outposts, the Black Moon’s rise has brought new portents that appear far more serious than the unnerving of barnyard animals. Two of my personal guards–veterans of the 2nd Massachusetts; clean, God-fearing men–and a third individual, a maid, have all come down with the new sickness. The men sport dark tumors, no bigger than a dollar coin, on leg and arm respectively, while the maid was constrained to chambers after the sickness claimed her left eye.

The maid is Eleanor Porter of Somerville, Mass. A lady of unquestionable virtue and remarkable work ethic that has been with my family for years, Eleanor has shown a strange reaction to her illness, to the point of baffling even the esteemed Dr. Bridges. During an examination of her destroyed orbital bones, the good doctor found himself violently shoved against an armoire as if thrown by a larger man. Eleanor, certainly, has neither the temperament nor the strength for such an assault, yet an under-secretary assisting Bridges’ examination collaborates his report.

For her part, the young lady begs only that we stay away, claiming that the Moon is staring at us through her ruined eye. Most unusual.

Apart from urgent requests for raw meat, the 2nd Mass veterans have expressed no unusual symptoms or episodes.

As to the more fanciful reports–deceased Georgians rising from the graves, will ‘o wisps waylaying stage coaches, twisted coyote-like creatures baying through the bogs–I can only assume that the events of the past week have whipped the hither-lands into superstitious frenzy. However, I do anticipate that the newly-elected Governor will be requesting federal troops to maintain order. In the strongest possible terms, I advise that said request be granted without delay.

Despite these bizarre events, I remain your faithful servant,

(Signed) J. JOHNSON, Provisional Governor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *