, ,

Doubtful Loyalty


During the Civil War, New Orleans-born pianist and composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk was a Union sympathizer. During a concert tour of the northern states he wrote in his journal on March 24, 1864:

Concert at Washington. The President of the United States and his lady are to be there. I have reserved seats for them in the first row. The Secretary of State, Mr. Seward, accompanies them. Mrs. Lincoln has a very ordinary countenance. Lincoln is remarkably ugly, but has an intelligent air, and his eyes have a remarkable expression of goodness and mildness. After an encore I played my fantasia, The Union, in the midst of great enthusiasm. Lincoln does not wear gloves. I played very badly and was furious with myself, which, however, did not prevent many of my friends from coming to congratulate me on my success. One of them who was present at the first concert (at which, by the way, I played very well) said to me, “Well and good, you are in the vein tonight, for at the first concert one saw that you were badly prepared.”

March 26–Concert at Washington. Crowded from top to bottom–every place taken. Lieutenant General Grant and all his staff were present. Grant, the most fortunate of all our generals, is a small man, of ordinary appearance, slender, modest. He has taken more than one hundred thousand prisoners and captured five hundred cannons in two years and a half. The title of lieutenant general, which has just been decreed to him by the government, is at the least equivalent to the marshal [of France]….

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Madame Variani sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” each stanza of which was applauded to the skies and encored. The enthusiasm nevertheless is confined to the gallery filled with soldiers; the parterre, the boxes, and orchestra seats abstain from demonstration. You are not ignorant that Washington is of very doubtful loyalty and that her most influential families sympathize with the South.