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Civil War Harper's Weekly, February 16, 1861

The February 16, 1861 edition of Harper's Weekly featured a vast array of news on Fort Sumter, and information related to the opening days of the Civil war.  Scroll down to see the entire page, or the newspaper thumbnails below will take you to the specific page of interest.


Civil War Valentine

Sally Port

Sally Port at Fort Sumter

Congressional Actions

Texas secedes

Texas Secession

New Orleans Custom House

New Orleans Custom House

New Orleans Customs House Story


Columbiad at Fort Sumter

Slavery Cartoon

Slavery Cartoon








[FEBRUARY 16, 1861.

(continued from Previous Page)

out the State. In the early part of 1833 Mr. Holt was appointed Commonwealth's Attorney for the Jefferson Circuit, of which Louisville is the capital. He carried into that position that integrity, labor, clearness of judgment, and inflexible resolution that have been so eminently displayed by him in the national positions he has filled. The Sheriff of the County, an ardent political opponent of Mr. Holt, often said to the writer that he never knew Mr. Holt to fail to be prepared for trial while he held the office. He scarcely ever failed in securing a conviction while he was " Prosecuting" Attorney. During this period the writer heard a number of Mr. Holt's speeches to juries, and then believed all that had been said of his eloquence. On one occasion the writer was standing by Mr. Holt at the conclusion of an address to a jury, when Judge Rowan, often called in Kentucky the monarch of the bar, advanced, took Mr. Holt by the hand, and said to him, "Mr. Holt, permit me to say that the effort just made is the finest specimen of legal eloquence I have ever heard." The writer has heard Clay, Barry, Bledsoe, Crittenden, Webster, and Everett, and has never heard as perfect oratory as that of Mr. Holt.

Governor James T. Morehead declared that Mr. Holt was the only Commonwealth's Attorney that faithfully wrote out for the Governor's office a full history of every case of conviction in the judicial district of which he was the representative of the Commonwealth. He so endeared himself to the people of Louisville that, with great unanimity, they petitioned for his reappointment. In the autumn of 1835 Mr. Holt removed to Mississippi, and opened an office at Port Gibson. In the following spring he removed to Vicksburg, and soon came into possession of an immense practice. He was almost constantly pitted against S. S. Prentiss, Esq. Mr. Holt was equally as great an orator as that gentleman, and his superior as a lawyer. In the fall of 183G Mr. Holt assisted in the prosecution of a murder case in Vicksburg, and thrilled the community by the terrible power with which he used a quotation from Macbeth. Homicide was then almost a daily affair in Mississippi, but this murder was peculiarly horrible. A wealthy planter had murdered his son in circumstances of great aggravation. The Prosecuting Attorney was in feeble health, and had a great array of legal talent against him. Mr. Holt volunteered his assistance. The report of a pistol was heard in the planter's inclosure, and the neighbors made their way into the premises. The son was found murdered, and the father had concealed the weapon. It was found under the head of his bed, still warm from the discharge. The father denied all knowledge of the deed, and insisted that the body of his son, still warm, should be lifted from the yard and buried. In allusion to the father's nonchalance and his audacity, Mr. Holt said that if the murdered son were then to rise with his gaping wound, the father, "albeit with chattering teeth, would exclaim, ' Thou canst not say I did it ! Shake not thy gory locks at me !' " Those present say they never saw such an effect produced in a court-room. The murderer looked as though the orator had summoned the real scene to view.

Mr. Holt acquired an ample fortune by his profession, and returned to Louisville, in 1842, with a serious affection of his throat. In 1848 he made a trip to Europe and to the East. He was absent seventeen months. In the winter of 1856-'57 he removed to Washington. In 1857 he was appointed Commissioner of Patents, in which he at once won the confidence of the country.

In 1859, upon the death of Postmaster-General Brown, Mr. Holt was transferred to that department, the details of which he speedily mastered. His reports for 1859 and 1860 will compare favor-ably with any ever made by his predecessors.

In January, 1861, Mr. Holt was transferred to the War Department, upon the resignation of Mr. Floyd. The friends of the Union throughout the country hailed this appointment with great satisfaction, because they felt that whatever could be done integrity, fidelity, and inflexible courage, would be done.

Mr. Holt has been married twice. His first wife was the daughter of Dr. Burr Harrison ; the second, was the daughter of the Hon. C. A. Wickliffe. They were eminently lovely women, and deeply de-voted to the subject of this sketch.


NATURE marked out the position of New Orleans as the inevitable site of a great commercial emporium. Although more than a hundred miles from the mouth of the Mississippi, it occupies the lowest point where a great city can stand. It is, therefore, the natural emporium of the largest and most fertile valley on the globe. Nothing short of some natural catastrophe which shall change the physical features of the country, or some political change which shall force the commerce of the Valley of the Mississippi to find some other outlet than its natural one by the mouths of that river, can reduce New Orleans from its present high position. In 1857 the products of the interior landed on the Levee at New Orleans amounted to $156,000,000. Of this $86,000,000—more than one-half—consisted of cotton ; next came tobacco, $12,000,000 then sugar, $11,000,000. If the present duty on sugar is abolished, or materially reduced, the plantations of Louisiana must be ruin-

and this article will no longer appear in the , commercial statistics of New Orleans. The cotton grade of New Orleans has kept pace with its production, and must continue to do so. More than half the cotton products of the United States is shipped from this one port. In 1857, out of 2,940,000 bales, 1,435,000 were shipped from New Orleans, 509,000 from Mobile, 332,000 from Savannah, and 404,000 from Charleston. If "cotton. is king," his court is at the Crescent City.

New Orleans shows every where traces of the

two races—French and American—by whom it is chiefly peopled. Streets of low, red-tiled houses, lighted by lamps suspended from chains in the centre, are but a stone's-throw from the Levee, which presents a scene of commercial bustle exceeded in no city on the globe. The ST. CHARLES, one of the most imposing of all the great American hotels, is thronged by SELLERS OF FLOWERS, like in every thing but their clarity faces and turbaned heads to those of Paris. The French language—not the purest, perhaps—is as common on the shop-signs, in the street placards, and newspaper advertisements, as the more robust English.

Of public buildings there are many deserving special note, such as three or four of the leading hotels, some churches, the Odd Fellows' Hall, and the Charity Hospital—an edifice worthy of its noble purpose. Two, however, are just now of special interest : the NEW CUSTOM-HOUSE, of which the United States have had only a brief occupancy, and the BRANCH MINT—both of which have been recently seized by the State authorities. The former, as will be seen by our illustration, is a structure worthy of the commercial importance of the city. The MINT, of which we give a drawing on a smaller scale, is likewise a fine building, 282 feet long, with two wings of 29 by 81 feet.





I WENT the next morning to take leave of Harpar before starting, but found to my astonishment that he was already off! He bad, I learned, hired a small carriage to convey him to Bregenz, and had set out before daybreak. I do not know why this should have annoyed me, but it did so, and set me a thinking over the people whom Echstein, in his " Erfharungen," says, are born to be dupes. "There is," says he, "a race of men who are ' eingeboren narren'—' native numskulls,' one might say—who muddy the streams of true benevolence by indiscriminating acts of kindness, and who, by always aiding the wrong-doer, make themselves accomplices of vice." Could it be that I was in this barren category? Harpar had told me the evening before that he would not leave Lindau till his sprain was better, and now he was off, just as if, having no further occasion for me, he was glad to be rid of my companionship—just as if— I was beginning again to start another conjecture, when I bethought me that there is not a more deceptive formula in the whole cyclopedia of delusion than that which opens with these same words, "just as if." Rely upon it, amiable reader, that when-ever you find yourself driven to explain a motive, to trace a cause, or reconcile a discrepancy, by "just as if," the chances are about seven to three that you are wrong. If I was not in all the bustle of paying my bill and strapping on my knapsack, I'd convince you on this head, as the morning is a bright, but mellow, one, of early autumn, and my path lies along the placid lake, waveless and still, with many a tinted tree reflected in its fair mirror. Let as not think of knaves and rogues, but rather dwell on the pleasanter thought of all the good and grateful things which daily befall us in this same life of ours. I am full certain that almost all of us enter upon what is called the world in too combative a spirit. We are too fond of dragon slaying, and rather than be disappointed of our sport, we'd fall foul of a pet lamb for want of a tiger. Call it self-delusion, credulity, what you will, it is a faith that makes life very livable, and, without it,

We feel a light has left the world, A nameless sort of treasure,

As though one pluck'd the crimson heart

From out the rose of pleasure. I could forgive the fate that made Me poor and young to-morrow, To have again the soul that played So tenderly in sorrow,

So buoyantly in happiness.

Ay, I would brook deceiving, And even the deceiver bless, Just to go on believing!

"Still," thought I, " one ought to maintain self-respect ; one should not willingly make him-self a dupe." And then I began to wish that Vaterchen had come up, and that Tintenfleck was rushing toward me with tears in her eyes, and my money-bag in her hands. I wanted to forget them. I tried in a hundred ways to pre-vent them crossing my memory ; but though there is a most artful system of artificial memories invented by some one, the Lethean art has met no explorer, and no man has ever yet found out the way to shut the door against by-genes. I believe it is scarcely more than five miles to Bregenz from Lindau, and yet I was almost as many hours on the road. I sat down perhaps twenty times, lost in reverie ; indeed, I'm not very sure that I didn't take a sound sleep under a spreading willow, so that when I reached the inn the company was just going in to dinner at the table d'hote. Simple and unpretentious as that board was, the company that graced it was certainly distinguished, being no less than the Austrian field-marshal in command of the district, and the officers of his staff.

To English notions, it seemed very strange to see a nobleman of the highest rank, in the proudest state of Europe, seated at a dinner-table, open to all comers, at a fraction less than one shilling a head, and where some of the government officials of the place daily came.

It was not without a certain sense of shame that I found myself in the long, low chamber,

in which about twenty officers were assembled, whose uniforms were all glittering with stars, medals, and crosses ; in fact, to a weak-minded civilian like myself, they gave the impression of a group of heroes fresh come from all the triumphant glories of a campaign. Between the staff which occupied one end of the long table and the few townsfolk who sat at the other there intervened a sort of frontier territory uninhabited, and it was here that the waiter located me—an object of observation and re-mark to each. Resolving to learn how I was treated by my critics, I addressed the waiter in the very worst French, and protested my utter ignorance of German. I had promised myself much amusement from this expedient, but was doomed to a severe disappointment—the officers coolly setting me down for a servant, while the townspeople pronounced me a peddler; and when these judgments had been pronounced, instead of entering upon a psychological examination of my nature, temperament, and individuality, they never noticed me any more. I felt hurt at this, more indeed for their sakes than my own, since I bethought me of the false impression that is current of this people through-out Europe, where they have the reputation of philosophers deeply engaged in researches into character, minute anatomists of human thought and man's affections; "and yet," muttered I, " they can sit at table with one of the most remarkable of men, and be as ignorant of all about him as the husbandman who toils at his daily labor is of the mineral treasures that lie buried down beneath him.

"I will read them a lesson," thought I. " They shall see that in the humble guise of foot-traveler it may be the pleasure of men of rank and station to journey." The townsfolk, when the dessert made its appearance, rose to take their departure, each before he left the room making a profound obeisance to the general, and then another but less lowly act of homage to the staff, showing by this that strangers were expected to withdraw, while time military guests sat over their wine. Indeed, a very significant look from the last person who left the room conveyed to me the etiquette of the place. I was delighted at this—it was the very opportunity I longed for—and so, with a clink of my knife against my wine-glass, the substitute for a bell in use among humble hostels, I summoned the waiter, and asked for his list of wines. I saw that my act had created some astonishment among the others, but it excited nothing more, and now they had all lighted their pipes, and sat smoking away quite regardless of my presence. I had ordered a flask of Steinberger at six florins, and given most special directions that my glass should have a "roped rim," and be of a tender green tint, but not too deep to spoil the color of the wine.

My admonitions were given aloud, and in a tone of command, but I perceived that they failed to create any impression upon my mustached neighbors. I might have ordered nectar or hypocras for all that they seemed to care about me. I raked up in memory all the impertinent and insolent things Henri Heine had ever said of Austria ; I bethought me how they tyrannized in the various provinces of their scattered empire, and how they were hated by Hun, Sclavon, and Italian ; I reveled in those slashing leading articles that used to show up the great but bankrupt bully, and I only wished I was " own correspondent" to something at home to give my impressions of " Austria and her military system:"

Little as you think of that pale, sad-looking stranger, who sits sipping his wine in solitude at the foot of the table, he is about to transmit yourselves and your country to a remote posterity. "Ay !" muttered I, " to be remembered when the Danube will be a choked up rivulet, and the park of Schonbrunn a prairie for the buffalo." I am not exactly aware how or why these changes were to have occurred, but Lord Macaulay's New Zealander might have originated them.

While I thus mused and brooded the tramp of four horses came clattering down the street, and soon after swept into the arched door-way of the inn with a rolling and thunderous sound.

"Here he comes—here he is at last!" said a young officer, who has rushed in haste to the window, and at the announcement a very palpable sentiment of satisfaction seemed to spread itself through the company, even to the grim old field-marshal, who took his pipe from his mouth to say,

"He is in time—he saves ' arrest !' "

As he spoke a tall man in uniform entered the room, and walking with military step till he came in front of the general, said, in a loud but respectful voice,

"I have the honor to report myself as re-turned to duty."

The general replied something I could not catch, and then shook him warmly by the hand, making room for him to sit down next him.

"How far did your royal highness go? Not to Coire?" said the general.

"Far beyond it, Sir," said the other. "I went the whole way to the Splugen, and if it were not for the terror of your displeasure, I'd have crossed the mountain and gone on to Chiavenna."

The fact that I was listening to the narrative of a royal personage was not the only bond of fascination to me, for somehow the tone of the speaker's voice sounded familiarly to my ears, and I could have sworn I had heard it before. As he was at the same side of the table with myself, I could not see him, but while he continued to talk the impression grew each moment more strong that I must have met him previously.

I could gather—it was easy enough to do so —from the animated looks of the party, and the

repeated bursts of laughter that followed his sal' lies, that the newly-arrived officer was a wit and authority among his comrades. His elevated rank, too, may have contributed to this popularity. Must I own that he appeared in the character that to me is particularly offensive? He was a " narrator." That vulgar adage of " two of a trade" has a far wider acceptance when applied to the operations of intellect than when addressed to the work of men's hands. To see this jealousy at its height, you must look for it among men of letters, artists, actors, or, better still, those social performers who are the bright spirits of dinner-parties—the charming men of society. All the animosities of politic-al or religious hate are mild compared to the detestation this rivalry engenders ; and now, though the audience was a foreign one, which I could have no pretension to amuse, I conceived the most bitter dislike for the man who now engaged their attention.

I do not know how it may be with others, but to myself there has always been this difficulty in a foreign language, that until I have accustomed myself to the tone of voice and the mariner of a speaker, I can rarely follow him without occasional lapses. Now, on the present occasion, the narrator, though speaking distinctly, and with a good accent, had a very rapid utterance, and it was not till I had familiarized my ear with his manner that I could gather his words correctly. Nor was my difficulty lessened by the fact that, as he pretended to be witty and epigrammatic, frequent bursts of laughter broke from his audience and obscured his speech. He was, as it appeared, giving an account of a fishing excursion he had just taken to one of the small mountain lakes near Peppenheim, and it was clear enough he was one who always could eke out an adventure of even the most ordinary incident of daily life.

This fishing story had really nothing in it, though he strove to make out fifty points of interest or striking situations out of the veriest commonplace. At last, however, I saw that, like a practiced story-teller, he was hoarding up his great incident for the finish.

"As I have told you," said he, "I engaged the entire of the little inn for myself; there were but five rooms in it altogether, and though I did not need more than two, I took the rest that I might be alone and unmolested. Well, it was on my second evening there, as I sat smoking my pipe at the door, and looking over my tackle for the morrow, there came up the glen the strange sound of wheels, and, to my astonishment, a traveling carriage soon appeared, with four horses driven in hand, and I saw in a moment it was a lohnkutscher, who had taken the wrong turning after leaving Ragatz, and mistaken the road, for the highway ceases about two miles above Peppenheim, and dwindles down to a mere mule-path. Leaving my host to explain the mistake to the travelers, I hastily re-entered the house, just as the carriage drove up. The explanation seemed a very prolix one, for when I looked out of the window, half an hour afterward, there were the horses still standing at the door, and the driver, with a large branch of alder, whipping away the flies from them, while the host continued to hold his place at the carriage door. At last he entered my room, and said that the travelers, two foreign ladies--he thought them Russians—had taken the wrong road, but that the elder, what between fatigue and fear, was so overcome that she could not proceed farther, and entreated that they might be afforded any accommodation —mere shelter for the night—rather than re-trace their road to Ragatz.

" `Well,' said I, carelessly, ' let them have the rooms on the other side of the hall; so that they only- stop for one night, the intrusion will not signify.' Not a very gracious reply, per-Imps, but I did not want to be gracious. The fact was, as the old lady got out, I saw some-thing like an elephant's leg, in a fur boot, that quite decided me on not making acquaintance with the travelers, and I was rash enough to imagine they must be both alike. Indeed, I was so resolute in maintaining my solitude undisturbed, that I told my host on no account whatever to make me any communication from the strangers, nor on any pretext to let me feel that they were lodged under the same roof with myself. Perhaps, if the next day had been one to follow my usual sport, I should have forgot-ten all about them, but it was one of such rain as made it perfectly impossible to leave the house. I doubt if I ever saw rain like it. It came down in sheets, like water splashed out of buckets, flattening the small trees to the earth, and beating down all the night foliage into the muddy soil beneath; meanwhile the air shook with the noise of the swollen torrents, and all the mountain streams crashed and thundered away like great cataracts. Rain can really be-come grand at such moments, and no more resembling a mere shower than the cry of a single brawler in the street is like the roar of a mighty multitude. It was so fine that I determined I would go down to a little wooden bridge over the river, whence I could see the stream as it came down, tumbling and splashing, from a cleft in the mountain. I soon dressed myself in all my best water-proofs—hat, cape, boots, and all —and set out. Until I was fully embarked on my expedition I had no notion of the severity of the storm, and it was with considerable difficulty I could make bead against the wind and rain together, while the slippery ground made walking an actual labor.

" At last I reached the river, but of the bridge the only trace was a single beam, which, deeply buried in the bank at one extremity, rose and fell in the surging flood, like the arm of a drowning swimmer. The stream had completely filled the channel, and swept along, with fragments of timber, and even furniture, in its muddy tide;



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