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Civil War Harper's Weekly, April 20, 1861

The April 20, 1861 edition of Harper's Weekly features extensive information on the Civil War Union Navy.  Newspaper thumbnails will take you to a large, readable version of that page.

Charles Adams

Fort Pickens

Adams Biography

Charles Adams Biography


Commander Dahlgren

Dahlgren Biography

Commander Dahlgren Biography

The Baltic and Atlantic

The Baltic and Atlantic

The Start of the Civil War

Washington Navy Yard

Washington Navy Yard

US Naval Fleet

US Naval Fleet





APRIL 20, 1861.]



For I've told you before that her heart and her hand, With their achings and aches, and some acres of land, Had been pledged to a groom of exceeding great worth, But vexatiously distant just then from the earth;

So the Bishop himself had consented to ride

At the bride's bridle-rein, and to bridle the bride. Good sooth, there was bustle enough on that morn—You'd have thought by the clamor a Ba-bel was born! But the noise and confusion were doubled, I wist, When Dame Margy cried that her young miss she


The Bishop first spoke: "By the altar and pyx, What spawn of the fiend has left us in this fix? Steal a bride from the altar! a curse on his soul, As soon I'd have thought he had stolen my stole!

One wag of a monk said that all had gone right, For "the bridgroom had come like a thief in the night." But this joke of the cloth on such barren ground fell, That the merry Anselmo was sent to his cell.

The old Baron swore by his heels and his head, And his heart and his hair, and by every thing red; And he launched out his oaths with such desperate force, That he shocked a poor innocent priest from his horse, Even strangers, who knew not his title and place, Would have said by his speech he was barren of grace.

The Abbot he cursed—and the Abbot cursed well—In the orthodox way, by book, candle, and bell; He uncorked several vials of desperate wrath, And poured the contents on the fugitives' path.

But the curses and oaths—though they traveled as fast As bolts from the bow, or as leaves on the blast—Could not catch the three rideaways—John on his bay, The knight on a roan, Isabel with her Grey! And cooling long since they have hardened to stones, Which yet block that road to the peril of bones.


Each tale has a purpose—the reader may use This story of mine for what purpose he choose—Draw what point he please from the point of my pen, But one point I must point at all beardless young men.

If you fall into love first try hard to fall out, If the pit be too deep don't go dawdling about, Pop the question at once like a bolt from a beau, For the maid may say yes ere her father can "no ;" Or, should she refuse, don't write verses or die, But ask her again, and again by-and-by.

If engaged to another, to weaken the links

Just praise up your rival, but hint that he drinks;

If she's gone to get married, put on your best clothes—She may alter her mind at the altar—who knows? Though the knot has been tied, do not give up the prize, But ask her to have you when that husband dies, For love is like chess—both fields checkered the same—If one move is left you may yet win the game!




ON 8th inst. Lieutenant Talbot arrived at Charleston from Washington. He had a conference with Governor Pickens and General Beauregard, but was not allowed to communicate with Major Anderson at Fort Sumter. Lieutenant Talbot started back for Washington on 9th. It is understood that the nature of his conference with Governor Pickens and General Beauregard was to obtain permission for an unarmed store-ship to victual the garrison at Fort Sumter. Permission was refused.

It is understood that Lieutenant Talbot then communicated to Governor Pickens the intelligence that supplies would be sent in to Major Anderson peaceably if they could, forcibly if they must. Immense preparations were immediately commenced suitable to the emergency. Orders were issued to the entire military force of the city, held in reserve, to proceed to their stations without delay.


At midnight the community was thrown into a fever of excitement by the discharge of seven guns from Citadel Square, the signal for the assembling of all the reserves ten minutes afterward. Hundreds of men left their beds, hurrying to and fro toward their respective destinations. In the absence of sufficient armories, at the corners of the streets, public squares, and other convenient points, meetings were formed, and all night the long roll of the drum and the steady tramp of the military and the gallop of the cavalry resounding through the city betokened the close proximity of the long-anticipated hostilities. The Home Guard corps of old gentlemen, who occupy the position of military exempts, rode through the city, arousing the soldiers, and doing other duty required by the moment. Hundreds of the citizens were up all night. A terrible thunder-storm prevailed until a late hour. The Seventeenth Regiment, 800 strong, gathered thus in one hour, and left for the fortifications early in the morning.


Four regiments of a thousand men each were telegraphed for from the country. One of these, from Kershaw District, under command of Colonel Rion, was formed with the, understanding not to be called out until the fight was positively at hand. Dr. Gibbs, Surgeon-General, was ordered to prepare ambulances, and make every provision for the wounded, and in all departments was observable the admirable system and discipline with which the State is prepared for this exigency.


On 9th, the floating battery, finished, mounted, and manned, was taken out of the dock and anchored in the cove near Sullivan's Island. All vessels in the harbor received a notification from General Beauregard to keep out of the range of fire between Fort Sumter and Sullivan's Island, on which Fort Moultrie is situated. As a further military necessity, a house situated near one of the batteries erected against the fort, supposed probably to interfere with its efficient working, was blown up.

Charleston telegrams state: Senator Wigfall, of Texas, and Edmund Ruffin, of Virginia (nearly seventy years of age), shouldered muskets and joined the army as privates. Numbers of old men have done the same. Even cripples are anxious to fight, and may be seen riding with the cavalry.

About 1000 troops were sent to the fortifications on 9th. Messrs. Wigfall, Chestnut, Means, Manning, M'Gowan, and Boyleston, have received appointments in General Beauregard's staff. A large number of the members of the Convention, after adjournment, volunteered as privates. About 7000 troops are now at the fortifications.


At noon on 11th Major Anderson was formally summoned, by General Beauregard, the commander of the secession forces, to surrender Fort Sumter. Major Anderson declined compliance, alleging that such a course would be incompatible with his duty to his Government. The people of Charleston were intensely excited on the receipt of this refusal to surrender the Fort. The piers and housetops, and all the places from whence a view of the harbor could be obtained, were thronged with men and women eager to witness the conflict, which was expected momentarily to begin. No hostile shot, however, was fired on either side. But later in the day negotiations were re-opened between the commanders, and pending their conclusion hostilities have of course been postponed. The Federal fleet had not made its appearance off Charleston at last accounts.

The non-arrival of the squadron off Charleston is doubtless due to the heavy gale that has prevailed along the southern coast for the past two or three days. The storm was so severe that a large number of vessels, including several steamers, were obliged to take refuge in Hampton Roads.


On Friday, 12th, at 27 minutes past 4 A. M., General Beauregard, in accordance with instructions received on Wednesday from the Secretary of War of the Southern Confederacy, opened fire upon Fort Sumter. Forts Johnson and Moultrie, the iron battery at Cumming's Point, and the Stevens Floating Battery, kept up an active cannonade during the entire day, and probably during the past night. The damage done to Fort Sumter is stated by the Confederate authorities to have been considerable. Guns had been dismounted, and a part of the parapet swept away.

Major Anderson had replied vigorously to the fire which had been opened upon him, but the Charleston dispatches represent the injury inflicted by him to have been but small. The utmost bravery had been exhibited on both sides, and a large portion of the Charleston population, including five thousand ladies, were assembled upon the Battery to witness the conflict.

Down to our latest advices, the battle had been carried on solely by the batteries of the revolutionists and Fort Sumter. The Harriet Lane, Captain Faunce, the Pawnee, and another United States vessel, were said to be off the harbor, but had taken no part in the conflict. The Harriet Lane is said to have received a shot through her wheel-house.

The opinion prevailed in Charleston that an attempt would be made during the night to reinforce Fort Sumter by means of small boats from the three vessels seen in the offing.

No one had been killed by the fire of Major Anderson, and the casualties among the Confederate troops in the batteries were inconsiderable. There is, of course, no account of the loss, if any, among the garrison of Fort Sumter.


A telegraphic correspondence between the Montgomery War Department and General Beauregard, before the commencement of hostilities, has been published. On April 8 General Beauregard telegraphed that a messenger from President Lincoln had brought word that provisions would be sent to Fort Sumter—peaceably if possible, forcibly if necessary. Mr. Walker, the Secretary of War, replied, on April 10, instructing General Beauregard to demand the immediate evacuation of Fort Sumter, and if this was refused, to proceed to attack the fort in the way he thought best. The demand for surrender was accordingly made by General Beauregard, and Major Anderson replied, April 11, "It is a demand with which I regret that my sense of honor and my obligations to my Government prevent my compliance." He added, also, "I will await the first shot, and if you do not batter us to pieces, we will be starved out in a few days." His answer being sent to Montgomery, the Secretary of War telegraphed back that if Major Anderson would state the time at which he would evacuate the fort, it should not be bombarded. To this Anderson would not consent, and upon his refusal hostilities began. The latest of those dispatches, that from General Beauregard to the Secretary of War, bears date April 12, and was received in New York a few hours after it was sent to Montgomery.


Accounts from New Mexico state that the citizens of Arizona, in convention at Mesilla, have voted that Territory out of the Union.


The Southern Commissioners now in Washington on 9th received from the State Department a reply to their note seeking to initiate negotiations for a separation of the seceded States from the Union, and a surrender to them of such of the Federal property as they may desire. Secretary Seward of course declines to receive them in their official capacity, but expresses respect for them as distinguished gentlemen, and declares the intention of the Government to defend itself whenever assailed.

The Southern Commissioners to Washington on 11th sent to the Department of State their rejoinder to the note of Mr. Seward rejecting their offer to treat with reference to the troubles of the nation. They believe war inevitable, and have proceeded to Montgomery to report to the Confederate States Government.


The bids for five million dollars of Treasury notes were opened at Washington on 11th. The entire amount was taken at par to 27-100 premium. There were $439,000 more offered than was called for.


The Atlantic was chartered by the Government, and sailed on 6th with troops and munitions of war. The Baltic and Illinois sailed on 8th with similar freight. Orders were issued on same day by the Navy Department to have the Wabash, Vincennes, and Savannah, at Brooklyn, and the Jamestown, at Philadelphia, fitted for active service with dispatch. The United States ship Pawnee sailed from Norfolk at 6 P.M. on Tuesday, bound South, under sealed orders. There is great activity manifested at the Charlestown Navy-yard (at Boston, Massachusetts), over 800 persons being employed. The brig Bainbridge is ready for sea, and waiting for her crew. The steam-frigates Minnesota, Mississippi, and Colorado are also nearly ready. Commodore Stringham is expected to arrive early next week. Business at the Philadelphia Navy-yard is inactive, and there are frequent discharges of men, only two hundred being now employed there. The United States steamer Water Witch has gone into commission, and sails during the week. Her destination is unknown. Her crew consists of 70 sailors and marines.


Dispatches received from Montgomery state that President Davis was considering the propriety of going to Charleston, being satisfied that Fort Sumter was to be the great strategic point where the issue was to be tried as to the power of the Confederate States Government to maintain itself. He and his friends deemed it his duty to be on the ground.


The Government has come into possession of such definite information as to warrant them in acting, and on Tuesday evening ten companies, comprising about one-fourth of the militia of the District of Columbia, were ordered into service, and were mustered on Wednesday for inspection. Major Ben McCulloch, who has recently been alternating between Washington and Richmond, and who left the former place on Tuesday with the expressed intention of returning to Texas, is reported to be at the head of the contemplated movement—the Texas "journey" being merely a blind. The troops called out will be stationed at various points throughout the city, ready for any emergency.

There are 1200 men under arms in Washington, 700 volunteers and 500 regulars. The Volunteer force can be increased to 2000 at a few hours' notice. All the approaches to the city are guarded. There is said to be an organized disunion conspiracy in the District, with 700 men enrolled.


In this body. on 5th, the 6th resolution of the report was amended verbally—the Convention refusing, by a vote of 94 to 64, to declare that Virginia ought not to accept a form of adjustment that would not prove acceptable to the seceded States. The resolution, as adopted, expresses an earnest desire for the reestablishment of the Union in its former integrity, and peace, prosperity, and fraternal feeling. On 8th, the resolution of Mr. Preston, to appoint Commissioners to wait on President Lincoln and ascertain what policy he intended to pursue with regard to the seceding States, was discussed at length and finally adopted -75 to 63. W. B. Preston, Conservative, A. H. H. Stuart, Union, and George W. Randolph, Secessionist, were appointed the Commissioners, and left Richmond for Washington. On 9th, an amendment stating that the Federal authorities have no power to deal with the subject of secession in any way, was voted down—114 to 12. A resolution was adopted—128 to 20—declaring that the Convention was willing that the seceded States should be recognized as independent Powers. An amendment declaring "that in the event of proposed amendments to the Constitution being rejected by the Non-Slaveholding States Virginia will secede," was voted down—57 to 68. On 10th, the twelfth and thirteenth of the pending resolutions were

adopted. They oppose all Federal action for holding or retaking the forts in the seceded States, and declare that any action on the part of the United States Government or Confederate States tending to produce a collision pending the efforts for an adjustment of difficulties, will be regarded as leaving them free to determine their own futur policy.


Lieutenant Slemmer has found means of communicating with the Government, in spite of the surveillance exercised by the investing army. He explains why the troops were not landed from the Brooklyn, conformably to the order, issued by the War Department several weeks ago. According to his view, Fort Pickens can withstand any assault which may be made by the force now assembled there, or any which is likely to be collected by Jefferson Davis. He has four months' provisions, and feels himself fully able to maintain his position and defend himself, without drawing upon the contingent force at his disposal in the ships of war. In case of an attack, which is not feared, notwithstanding all the demonstrative display, the troops could be landed at a signal, just as easily as at this time. The intelligence was received by telegraph.


The Brooklyn has returned from her trip to Key West for supplies, and had furnished the other vessels of the fleet with various necessaries. The Commander of Fort Taylor, at Key West, had compelled the inhabitants of that place to haul down all their Confederate State flags, with a polite intimation that two different nationalities could not rule in the place.


Another of the transports sent to Texas to bring away the United States troops—the steamer Coatzacoalcos reached this port on 11th. She left here on the 16th of March, and arrived at Pass Cabello Bar on the 21st. She started on her return on the 31st, and touched at Key West on the 4th inst., where she landed two companies of infantry. Being unable to obtain water at Key West, she then proceeded to Havana, whence she sailed on the 6th. She brings one company of infantry and six of cavalry, some of the latter of which will probably be immediately sent to Washington. The troops left in Texas, numbering about one thousand, are reported to be in good health, and abundantly supplied with provisions ; and in view of recent occurrences, it may now be considered doubtful whether they will be removed.


 Governor Curtin, of Pennsylvania, on 10th, sent to the Legislature of that State a special message relative to national affairs, and recommending the appropriation of half a million dollars for the proper military organization of the State. He also suggests the establishment of a military bureau at the Capital, and other modifications of the Militia laws, in order that the State may be in the most complete state of readiness for any emergency which may arise. Governor Curtin mentions, incidentally, that he has received a letter from President Lincoln, in which he states that he has information of a design to attack Washington.


The Massachusetts Legislature adjourned on 11th sine die. During the session It has authorized the Governor to increase the number of the volunteer militia and to put 2000 troops on a war footing. It has settled the long disputed boundary question between the State and Rhode Island ; and has authorized the extension of the Old Colony Railroad to Newport. These are its principal enactments.


We learn from the Salem (Indiana) Times that an inhuman wretch, in an adjoining county to Washington, deliberately plotted the following, by which to put his wife to death. It seems that, to accomplish his hellish work, it was necessary to employ his own son, a small boy, to assist him. He set his fence on fire, and instructed his little son to perpetrate the deed. After he had set the fence on fire he sent the little boy to the house after his (the boy's) mother, to come and put the fire out, while he (the father) secreted himself in the woods near by, telling the boy before this, that while his mother was engaged in extinguishing the fire, to approach her from behind and set her clothes on fire, which he did, and before she was aware her clothes were in a blaze, burning them entirely off, and of course burning her to death. The Times does not state that the inhuman wretch has been arrested.


The Legislature of Kansas has chosen as United States Senators two Republicans, General Pomeroy and James H. Lane.

General Sumner has gone to take charge of the Pacific division, thus superseding General Johnston, who has been some time in command, and who is a kinsman of Mr. Floyd. Unpleasant reports have reached here of late of a probable defection in the army there, and of correspondence carried on between high officers and Jefferson Davis.

Stephen Van Rensselaer, son of the Patroon of Albany, committed suicide on the 8th inst. at a drinking saloon, by swallowing laudanum. Naturally of good abilities, having had every advantage which wealth could furnish, he started in life under the most favorable circumstances. He was thirty-five years old.

A correspondent of the St. Louis Republican says that there is a Revolutionary soldier now living at Ironton, Iron County, Missouri, named Captain John Hall. "The old hero is now 107 years of age, and was a few months since enjoying good health. The old man relates with much pleasure the scenes and exploits which he passed through in those times that ' tried men's souls.' "



THE election of a member for Tiverton, in the room of Lord Palmerston, who had accepted the office of Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, took place on the 28th ult. Lord Palmerston offered himself for re-election, and was returned without opposition.

Lord Palmerston, in returning his thanks, after alluding to the condition of affairs in England, said:

"There is but one spot in the political horizon the contemplation of which must inspire us with regret and uneasiness. I mean those convulsions which are now taking place among our cousins in North America, leading to a dissolution of the Union of the formerly United States: It is not for us to judge between the contending parties. It is not for us to say what ought to be; whether compromises ought to be made by which the Union may be maintained, or whether it is best for the happiness of the sections that they should separate, and form respectively different associations and confederacies. But of this I am sure—every man who hears me, every British heart, will feel that it is our cordial wish that, whatever may be the ultimate result of the differences now prevailing, that result may be brought about by amicable adjustments, and that the world may be saved from the afflicting spectacle of seeing brothers arming against brothers, and parents against children, and of seeing that state of social happiness which has hitherto been the admiration of mankind deformed by disputes, and a country which has been the scene of peace and industry polluted by the effusion of blood."


Mr. Train's first piece of street-railway in London was opened on the 23d of March, and he celebrated the event with a banquet, at which he delivered one of his characteristic speeches.



Napoleon received the address from the Corps Legislatif on the 23d ult. In returning thanks he said :

"I thank the Chamber for the sentiments which it expresses toward me, and for the confidence which it places

in me. If that confidence honors me and flatters me, I think I deserve it from my constant solicitude of only looking upon questions in a point of view of the real interests of France.

" To live up to the age, to preserve of the past all that is good, to prepare the future by sweeping off the path of civilization all the prejudices which obstruct it, or utopias which compromise it—that is how we shall bequeath calm and prosperous days to our children.

"Despite the vivacity of the discussion, I by no means regret to see the great bodies of the State discuss the difficult questions of foreign policy. The country benefits from it in many respects. These discussions instruct it without alarming it.

"I shall be always happy, believe me, to act in concert with you. Issuing from the some suffrage, guided by the same sentiments, let us mutually aid each other in promoting the grandeur and prosperity of France."

The speech was received with enthusiastic cheering, but it is generally regarded as ambiguous.


The Paris correspondent of the New York Times says : "The news of the arrest of the famous Blanqui, at the head of a secret society having for its object the assassination of the Emperor, quite took Paris by surprise. The day of such enterprises, people had thought, was past. The attempts of the Italians, before His Majesty went with his army to Italy, were understood, and, in their view of the case, logical. But an attempt on His Majesty's life today, and by a Republican, is both illogical and insane. The Republican party is disorganized and unprepared for resistance to a Regency, and the Legitimists are powerless and are destined to remain so. No good could therefore result from such an event, even to the party the assassins wish to serve. Blanqui and his accomplices will be 'consigned' in the penal colony."



Count Cavour has announced to the Italian Chamber of Deputies, that the Ministerial programme remains unchanged. In a speech on the Roman question he claimed that Italy had a right to have Rome for her capital, but that she must go there with the consent of France. He said that the union of the temporal and spiritual power was the source of evil.

The discussion of the Roman question continued in the Italian Chamber of Deputies. The speakers generally advocated the separation of the temporal from the spiritual power. Several speakers on the left proposed the simple proclamation of Rome as the capital of Italy, and calling on Napoleon to withdraw his troops.

Signor Cheaves spoke against the transfer of the capital of the Kingdom of Italy to Rome.

Count Cavour refuted the arguments brought forward. He maintained that it was urgent that Rome should be immediately declared the capital of Italy. The transfer will take place in consequence of the law adopted by the Chamber without any disturbances. The time will be fixed by law. We offer the spiritual power of the Pope all guarantees for its liberty and moral force which a friendly Government can ever give to the Papacy. I hope public opinion will very soon be disposed for the proclamation, and that France will agree with us in this matter.



We have now before us the text of the manifesto of the Czar, announcing to his subjects the emancipation of the serfs. His Majesty tells them that on ascending the throne he resolved in all sincerity to acquire the affections of his subjects of every rank and condition—" from the warrior who nobly carries arms for the defense of his country to the humble artisan engaged in works of industry; from the functionary who pursues the career of the highest employments of the State to the laborer whose plow furrows the fields." His Majesty proceeds to glance at the patriarchal relations which have hitherto existed between the peasants and their proprietors, and to show that, as simplicity of manners has disappeared, the condition of the serfs has been unfavorably affected. He was convinced, therefore, that a great amelioration of their lot was a mission to which he was called by Divine Providence. The steps which have been taken in consulting the nobility, in forming the Committees, and in considering the various propositions, are successively detailed; and the mode of emancipation ultimately agreed to (the substance of which has been given in our columns) is described at length. The cooperation of the nobility is warmly spoken of in the manifesto. "Russia," says His Majesty, "will never forget that the noblesse, moved slowly by their respect for the dignity of man and by the love of their neighbor, have spontaneously renounced the rights which the serfdom now abolished, had given them, and have laid the foundations of a new future for the peasants." They are then called upon to carry out faithfully and conscientiously the regulations which have been deemed fittest for the great end in view.

The manifesto was read in all the churches of St. Petersburgh and Moscow on Sunday, the 5th ult., and was followed by solemn prayers for the preservation of the health and prolongation of the life of the Emperor. The manifesto and the accompanying regulations are being sent as rapidly as possible to all the chiefs of departments, proprietors of land, and communes of peasants throughout the empire. Myriads of copies are, of course, required, and some weeks, it is said, must elapse before the requisite number can be distributed.


Colonel Gowen, the American contractor at Sebastopol, says in a letter, which is published in the London Times, "My enterprise in clearing the harbor from the sunken fleet is progressing quite favorably, and I hope to have it entirely completed during the present year. The harbor is now practically clear of all obstructions, only eight vessels being left to raise whole." He then details what he has done in the way of repairs to the English cemeteries, and acknowledges the receipt of a beautiful gold snuff box from the English Government for his services in this matter.



It is stated that the Porte had consented to the prolongation of the occupation of Syria. The International Committee at Beyrout had demanded the prompt execution of the condemned Druses. The Paris papers publish a telegram dated Constantinople, the 13th inst., announcing that Prussia and Austria, like France and Russia, had remitted notes to the Porte, stating the urgent necessity of reforms. On account of the insurrection in the Herzegovina, and the fears entertained respecting other Provinces, the Porte had called out 50,000 Itedips. It was also reported that the Conferences would shortly be resumed at Constantinople, at which a plan will be submitted and supported by France, Russia, and Turkey, for the creation of an independent State in Lebanon, governed by Abd-el-Kader, under the protectorate of France.



It is reported from Japan that Mr. Heustren, the Secretary of the American Legation at Yeddo, had been murdered. According to one dispatch, the Foreign Ministers had retired to Kanagawa. Another dispatch says the English and French Ministers had fled to Yakshama, while the United States Minister remained at Yeddo.



By way of Havana we have received definite intelligence in regard to the long-whispered-of descent on San Domingo. The Havana papers have at length spoken, and it is somewhat singular that the very first mention made of the affair by that press should be the announcement of its consummation. We have the authority of the Diario de la Marina, of Havana, and the proclamation of Santana, exPresident of the ex-republic of San Domingo, for the statement that the Dominican portion of the island has passed once more under the dominion of the Spanish crown, and is now held by seven thousand bayonets of her Catholic Majesty's army.




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