Cotton Running Low; H.Pierce Joins 76th; Snow Foot and a Half Deep

By Rich MacAlpine

As Gleaned from the Yates County Chronicle, February 6, 1862

The Chronicle reprinted an article from The Scientific American relating to the cotton trade. Cotton manufacturers in the Northeast stockpiled cotton when Southern states began secession. After 10 months of war, those stockpiles were used up. The article stated, “It is estimated that there is not a stock of cotton on hand to keep our factories running two months. What, then, is to be done when this is all worked up? This is now a subject of serious thought to our cotton manufacturers.” Charles Beach of Penn Yan (listed in the 1860 census as a “pedlar”) answered the call and wrote a letter to the Chronicle outlining how cotton processing machinery could be adapted to process flax and turn it into “flax cotton.”

The Chronicle reported on “The Movements of the Army – It is evident that if ‘all is quiet on the Potomac’, it is not so in other sections. But there is an evident determination on the part of General McClellan to move forward with his army of the Potomac as soon as the condition of the soil will admit. The roads are so mixed up with deep mud and frost that it is impossible to move heavy ordinance.”

Herschel Pierce of Dundee, who had tried valiantly to raise a company of artillery in that village and fell short of the number needed, was back in town as a 2nd Lieutenant in Company A of the 76th NY Infantry (the “Cortland Regiment”). “The citizens of that village, as a token of the high appreciation of his worth, have presented him with means to purchase a Sword and Revolver.” NOTE: Pierce rose through the ranks to become Captain of his company in 1863.

“The Weather – The winter so far has been mild and pleasant. The snow is about a foot and a half deep and the sleighing is fine, except in some of the north and south roads the drifts are serious obstacles. The people seem disposed to improve the opportunity to do uptheir winter business.”

Editor’s Note. Here’s a letter written by Herschel Pierce, placed online by Brown and Michaels, a law firm in Ithaca.  Thank you, BPM Legal!

About Ray

Ray Copson worked for many years at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress before coming to Yates County in the heart of the Finger Lakes region of New York State. He chairs the Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee of the Yates County Genealogical and Historical Society.
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