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Civil War Harper's Weekly, December 14, 1861

This WEB site contains online readable versions of the original Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. These original documents contain a wealth of incredible content to help you develop a more full understanding of the important issues of the war. We hope you enjoy studying these priceless documents.

 

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Slave Map

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Contrabands

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Urbanna, Virginia

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General Benham and General Nelson

Rat Hole Squadron

Rat Hole Squadron

Beaufort

Beaufort

Beaufort, South Carolina

Stone Fleet

The Stone Fleet

Tybee Island

Tybee Island, Georgia

Fort Pickens

Interior of Fort Pickens

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DECEMBER 14, 1861.]

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

787

(Previous Page) of luxuries to the rebel prisoners would be cut off. The people who profess an airy ignorance and indifference in the war would be silenced and sobered by public opinion; and a victory of the rebellion upon the Potomac would be the liberation of the slaves. If they are our foes already, as the scornful rebels declare, they would be no more so then. If they wished to fight for their own degradation, they would have an opportunity.

The lesson of the ever-present hour is, that we are to keep a cheerful mind by looking always directly at the facts of the case.

The rebels are very ignorant, and their effort is for the destruction of all the safeguards of human rights ; but they are as sincere as savages, as desperate, and as unforgiving. They are taught, and they believe, that this is a war of invasion by fire and sword against their territory and all their rights, especially their sacred system of slavery, waged by a plebeian, psalm-singing, Puritan mob of peddlers and tinkers, who have always abused them, and taxed them, and made money out of them, and who now propose to take their property outright. They are taught and believe that all that is precious and honorable in men requires resistance to the death. They are very ignorant, but very desperate and very able.

Now such rebels fight with their brains no less than with their guns. The brains may belong to a few, but they are well worked for the benefit of all. Take for an instance the fact that they had poisoned the public opinion of the whole world against us. When the storm struck us, we struggled up, looked around for a friend, and the nations stood regarding us with folded arms, and either a smile or sneer upon their faces. It was an immense victory and advantage for the rebellion. It was a part of the same sagacity in crime that had already stolen all our arms and demolished or sent off our ships. It showed what every thing else has shown, the earnestness of the rebels.

The war, then, as General McClellan says, will be "sharp." But a sharp war implies blows received as well as given. It implies resolution and bravery upon both sides. It implies that the difficulty is not to be snuffed out, but is to be shelled cut and shot down. It implies reverses and disasters all round.

All we can reasonably expect, then, is not that we shall beat in every battle, but that, upon the whole, we shall be gaining. The war is radical and thorough. We shall not have two of them in our day ; and it will end in a permanent peace, not in a patch. The event may indeed soon appear. It may soon be evident that the supremacy of the Government will be indisputably established. But the establishment will be a work of time. A peace of eighty years in a country does not end in a little war ; and a great war is a tempest which heaves the ocean long after the sun shines. Patience, forbearance, confidence, says General McClellan. Neither Bull Run nor Beaufort ended the war. The strong heart, the steady mind, the nimble hand, these alone bring final victory.

SISTE VIATOR.

WHILE Mr. Jefferson Davis asks with well-bred disdain, " Do you call this a blockade, John Bull ?" and while that unselfish gentleman says to us, " Good cousins, what do you call a blockade ?" the answer is plumped and splashed in sundry lately convenient harbors upon our rebellious coast. The Honorable Rodney French, a marine magician from New Bedford, sails out of that city one gray November morning, and presently turns a screw, and lo ! he has made inland villages of sundry ports of entry.

His ships are provided with apparatus for pumping them out, and floating them at some convenient season. But when the sands of the rebellion run low, the sands of the Cooper and the Ashley and the Savannah will probably have buried the ancient whalers of New Bedford beyond help of pumps and bladders. Meanwhile the amiable discussion between the rebels and their foreign well-wishers may continue. What a blockade ought to be may remain an open question. What our blockade is will be settled.

These acts, with the arrest of Mason and Slidell, and the great day of Port Royal, will show the world, which has disbelieved, that we are now awaking, if not awake. It will show also that this nation, while it subdues a most causeless and wicked rebellion, desires to leave a monument of the war and its own power, which shall yet injure no innocent person, and in no manner destroy the prosperity of the whole country. Charleston was the nursery of this insurrection. It will not be wasted with fire, nor flooded with water ; but the arrogant little city will be changed into a country village. "Siste viator," its quiet rural streets will hereafter say, "I was a frog ; I would be an ox ; and I am a dried skin."

HUMORS OF THE DAY.

ALMANACK AND DIARY. ASTRONOMICAL AND METEORILLOGICAL NOTICES. WIND—high.

N.B.—For economical reasons there will be no New Moon this month, as the old one, being in excellent repair, will still be retained upon the establishment.

KITCHEN GARDEN.—Asparagus, vegetable marrow, and young pease may be looked for about this time; it is as well, however, to caution young gardeners against spending too long a time in the proceeding. If you have a dearth of fruit walk down to the water side above Richmond, gather the currents of the Thames, which are running (probably to seed), and return home in triumph.

FLOWER GARDEN.—Rake up dead leaves, soil, stumps, sand, gravel, and any other rubbish into a heap, then turn over it (somersaults, if convenient) until you are tired or hurt yourself; the effect from your neighbors' windows will be novel and pretty.

RECIPE FOR A WARM AND GRATEFUL DRINK.—(Extracted from the Works of Bishop Beveridge.)—Take half an ounce of the best raisin pips, the same of lemon, with one of the best Wallsend, one drachm and a half of finely-powdered chalk. simmer carefully on a gridiron, and drink suddenly -N.B. The foregoing is at bedtime—(the very last thing) to be taken.

MEMORANDA FOR THE MONTH—(From J. Robinson's

Note-book).—Mem. To ask who took my new hat after our ball. Mem. Find out to whom I lent my guinea umbrella. Mem. To get that two pounds ten from Jones. MEM—(From Jones's Note-book).—Avoid Robinson.

SMILES AND TEARS.—An uncharitable French proverb says, "Man, woman, or child was never yet helped by Tiers ;" the English of this must be that " Self-Help" is by Smiles.

TESTIMONIAL TO THE BOUCICAULTS (from the Note-book of B. Webster, Esq ).—" Highly accomplished couple, my dear boy ; they play, sing, and—ahem ! —draw."

QUERY BY SPINNING JENNY.—Could a loom worked by steam ever become an heir-loom in a family?

MODERN CLASSICS.—Est veritas in vino?—Vy, no. SPRING TIME.—When the Cure sings at Weston's. GREAT EXPECTATIONS.—Civility from the Civil Service.

IT FOLLOWS, OF COURSE.—In one of the journals we find the announcement of a new story called Crime and its Punishment. We can quite understand that, from the nature of the story, it was a crime to write it, and certainly that it will be a punishment to read it, which forms, as the author may see, it very pretty sequiter indeed.

The author of the following can have a check for any amount upon ceiling at our office, provided he will not annoy us for the fixture: Why is a man walking on wet grass like a bank draft unpaid?—Because he is over dew!

DOMESTIC INTELLIGENCE.

CONGRESS.

THE first regular session of the Thirty-seventh Congress commenced at noon on 2d inst. The galleries of both Houses were crowded with spectators. In the Senate thirty-seven Senators answered to their names at roll call, including Messrs. Powell of Kentucky, Bayard of Delaware, and Bright of Indiana. The usual committees were appointed to wait upon and inform the President and the House of Representatives that the Senate was ready to proceed to business.

Senator Trumbull, of Illinois, gave notice that he would introduce a bill to confiscate the property of rebels, and give freedom to persons in slave States. Senator Wilkinson, of Minnesota, gave notice of a bill to abolish the distinction between the regular and volunteer soldiers. The committee appointed to wait on the President reported that he would communicate his Message to Congress at noon on 3d, whereupon the Senate adjourned.

In the House one hundred and fourteen members answered to their names. Mr. Maynard, of Tennessee, was admitted to a seat. The question of admitting Mr. Segar, from the Fortress Monroe District of Virginia, Mr. Beach, from the same State, and Mr. Foster, from North Carolina, was referred to the Committee on Elections. A memorial from Mr. Lowe, to be admitted as an additional member from California, was referred to the same Committee. A joint resolution, tendering the thanks of Congress to Captain Wilkes, for his arrest of the rebel emissaries Mason and Slidell, was adopted. A resolution expelling John W. Reed, the member from the Fifth District of Missouri, and now serving in the rebel army, was adopted. Resolutions requesting the President to order that Messrs. Slidell and Mason be treated in the same manner as Colonel Corcoran and Colonel Wood, prisoners in the hands of the rebels, are treated, were unanimously adopted, amidst cheers from the spectators.

The Secretary of War was requested to communicate what measures have been taken to ascertain who is responsible for the disaster at Ball's Bluff. Mr. Eliot, of Massachusetts, offered a resolution declaring that in prosecuting the war the Government has for its object the suppression of rebellion and the re-establishment of the Constitution and laws over the entire country; disclaiming all power to interfere with State institutions, yet that the safety of the State dominates over all rights of property and civil relations; that, therefore, the President of the United States, as the Commander-in-Chief of our army, and the officers in command under him, have the right to emancipate all persons held as slaves in any military district in a state of insurrection against the National Government; and that we respectfully advise that such order of emancipation be issued whenever the same will avail to weaken the power of the rebels in arms, or to strengthen the military power of the loyal forces. A motion to lay the resolution on the table was lost by a vote of 56 to 70. Mr. Roscoe L. Conkling, of New York, proposed an amendment so as to make the resolution apply to the slaves of disloyal citizens. This was accepted by Mr. Eliot, and the subject was then laid aside till Tuesday next.

Mr. Stevens, of Pennsylvania, offered a preamble and bill declaring that there can be no permanent peace or Union in the republic so long as slavery exists within it; that slavery is an essential means of protracting the war; that according to the law of nations it is right to liberate the slaves of an enemy to weaken his power; that the President be requested to declare free, and to direct all our generals and officers in command to order freedom to all slaves who shall leave their masters or shall aid in quelling the rebellion, and that the United States pledge the faith of the nation to make full and fair compensation to all loyal citizens who are or shall remain active in supporting the Union for all damage they may sustain by virtue of this resolution. This resolution lies over for future consideration. Mr. Van Wyck, of New York, gave notice of a bill to establish and construct a military and postal railroad from Washington City, in the District of Columbia, to the City of New York, in the State of New York. The Committee appointed to wait on the President reported that the Message would be sent in at noon on 3d, and the House adjourned. The Message was sent in at noon of the 3d. We give its leading points:

OUR FOREIGN RELATIONS.

The disloyal citizens of the United States, who have offered the ruin of our country in return for the aid and comfort which they have invoked abroad, have received less patronage and encouragement than they probably expected..... The principal lever relied on by the insurgents for exciting foreign nations to hostility against us is the embarrassment of commerce. Those nations, however, not improbably saw front the first that it was the Union which made as well our foreign as our domestic commerce. They can scarcely have failed to perceive that the effort for disunion produces the existing difficulty, and that one strong nation promises more durable peace, and a more extensive, valuable, and reliable commerce, than can the same nation broken into fragments.

COAST DEFENSES.

Since, however, it is apparent that here, as in every other State, foreign dangers necessarily attend domestic difficulties, I recommend that adequate and ample measures be adopted for maintaining the public defenses on every side. While, under this general recommendation, provision for defending our coast line readily occurs to the mind, I also, in the same connection, ask the attention of Congress to our great lakes and rivers. It is believed that some fortifications and depots of arms and munitions, with harbor and navigation improvements at well-selected points upon these would be of great importance to the national defense and preservation.

INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS.

I deem it of importance that the loyal regions of East Tennessee and Western North Carolina should be connected with Kentucky and other faithful parts of the Union by railroad; I therefore recommend, as a military measure, that Congress provide for the construction of such road as speedily as possible. Kentucky will no doubt co-operate, and, through her Legislature, make the most judicious selection of a line.

THE REVENUE.

The revenue from all sources, including loans for the financial year ending on the 30th of June, 1861, was $86,835,900.27, and the expenditures for the same period,

including payments on account of the public debt, were $84,578,034.47, leaving a balance in the Treasury on the 1st of July of $2,257,065.80 for the first quarter of the financial year ending on the 30th September, 1861. The receipts from all sources, including the balance of July 1, were $102,532,509.27, and the expenses $98,239,733.09, leaving a balance on the 1st of October, 1861, of $4,292,776.18..... It is gratifying to know that the expenses made necessary by the rebellion are not beyond the resources of the loyal people, and to believe that the same patriotism which has thus far sustained the Government will continue to sustain it till peace and union shall again bless the land.

CLAIMS AGAINST REBELS.

One of the unavoidable consequences of the present insurrection is the entire suppression in many places of all ordinary means of administering civil justice by the officers and in the forms of existing law. This is the case, in whole or in part, in all the insurgent States, and as our armies advance upon and take possession of parts of those States, the practical evil becomes more apparent. There are no courts, nor officers to whom the citizens of other States may apply for the enforcement of their lawful claims against citizens of the insurgent States, and there is a vast amount of debt constituting such claims. Some have estimated it as $200,000,000, due in large part front insurgents, in open rebellion, to loyal citizens who are even now making great sacrifices in the discharge of their patriotic duty to support the government. Under these circumstances I have been urgently solicited to establish by military power courts to administer summary justice in such cases. I have thus far declined to do it, not because I had any doubt that the end proposed—the collection of the debts—was just and right in itself, but because I have been unwilling to go beyond the pressure of necessity in the unusual exercise of power. But the powers of Congress, I suppose, are equal to the anomalous occasion; and therefore I refer the whole matter to Congress, with the hope that a plan may be devised for the administration of justice in all such parts of the insurgent States and Territories as may be under the control of this government, whether by a voluntary return to allegiance and order, or by the power of our arms ; this, however, not to be a permanent institution but a temporary substitute, and to cease as soon as the ordinary courts can be re-established in peace.

CONTRABANDS.

Under and by virtue of the act of Congress, entitled an act to confiscate property used for insurrectionary purposes, approved August 6, 1861, the legal claims of certain persons to the labor and services of certain other persons have become forfeited, and numbers of the latter, thus liberated, are already dependent on the United States, and must be provided for in the same way. Besides this, it is not impossible that some of the States will pass similar enactments for their own benefits respectively, and by the operation of which persons of the same class will be thrown upon them for disposal. In such case I recommend that Congress provide for accepting such persons from such States according to some mode of valuation in lieu probanto of direct taxes, or upon some other plan to be agreed with such States respectively, that such persons on such acceptance by the General Government be at once deemed free, and that in any event steps be taken for colonizing both classes, or the one first mentioned if the other shall not be brought into existence, at some place or places in a climate congenial to them. It might be well to consider, too, whether the free colored people already in the United States could not, so far as individuals may desire, be included in such colonization.

OBJECTS OF THE WAR.

In considering the policy to be adopted for suppressing the insurrection, I have been anxious and careful that the inevitable conflict for this purpose shall not degenerate into a violent and remorseless revolutionary struggle. I have therefore, in every case, thought it proper to keep the integrity of the Union prominent as the primary object of the contest on our part, leaving all questions which are not of vital military importance to the more deliberate action of the Legislature. In the exercise of my best discretion I have adhered to the blockade of the ports held by the insurgents instead of putting in force by proclamation the law of Congress enacted at the late session for closing those ports. So also obeying the dictates of prudence as well as the obligations of law, instead of transcending, I have adhered to the act of Congress to confiscate property, and for insurrectionary purposes, If a new law upon the same subject shall be proposed, its propriety will be duly considered. The Union must be preserved, and hence all dispensable means must be employed. We should not be in haste to determine that radical and extreme measures, which may reach the loyal as well as the disloyal, are indispensable.

THE BORDER STATES.

The insurgents confidently claimed a strong support from north of Mason and Dixon's line, and the friends of the Union were not free from apprehension on the point. This, however, was soon settled definitely, and on the right side. South of the line noble little Delaware led off right from the first. Maryland was made to seem against the Union, our soldiers were assaulted, bridges were burned, and railroads torn up within her limits, and we were many days at one time without the ability to bring a single regiment over her soil to the capital. Now her bridges and railroads are repaired and open to the Government. She already gives seven regiments to the cause of the Union, and none to the enemy, and her people at a regular election have sustained the Union by a larger majority, and a larger aggregate vote than they ever before gave to any candidate or any question. Kentucky, too, for some time in doubt, is now decidedly and, I think, unchangeably ranged on the side of the Union. Missouri is comparatively quiet, and I believe can not again be overrun by the insurrectionists. These three States of Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri, neither of which would promise a single soldier at first, have now an aggregate of not less than 40,000 in the field for the Union. After it somewhat bloody struggle of months winter closes on the Union people of Western Virginia, leaving them masters of their own country.

SCOTT AND McCLELLAN.

Lieutenant-General Scott has retired from the head of the army. During his long life the nation has not been unmindful of his merit; yet, on calling to mind how faithfully, ably, and brilliantly he has served the country from a time far back in our history when few of the now living had been born, and thence forward continually, I can not but think that we are still his debtor. I submit, therefore, for your consideration, what further mark of recognition is due to him and ourselves as a grateful people. With the retirement of General Scott came the executive duty of appointing in his stead a General-in-Chief of the army. It is a fortunate circumstance that neither in council nor country was there, so far as I know, any difference of opinion as to the proper person to be selected. The retiring chief repeatedly expressed his judgment in favor of General McClellan for the position, and in this the nation seemed to give a unanimous concurrence. The designation of General McClellan is, therefore, in a considerable degree, the selection of the country as well as of the Executive, and hence there is better reason to hope there will be given him the confidence and cordial support thus by fair implication promised, and without which he can not, with so full efficiency, serve the country.

LABOR AND CAPITAL.

Labor is prior to, and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital, producing mutual benefits...... In most of the Southern States a majority of the whole people of all colors are neither slaves nor masters, while in the Northern a large majority are neither hirers nor hired. ..... There is not of necessity any such thing as the free hired laborer being fixed for that condition of life. Many independent men every where in these States a few years back in their lives were hired laborers. The prudent, penniless beggar in the world labors for wages awhile, saves

a surplus with which to buy tools and land for himself, then labors on his own account another while, and at length hires another new beginner to help him. This is the just and generous and prosperous system which opens the way to all, gives hope to all, and consequent energy and progress and improvement of the condition to all. No men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from poverty; none less inclined to take or touch aught which they have not honestly earned. Let them beware of surrendering a political power which they already possess, and which, if surrendered, will surely be used to close the door of advancement against such as they, and to fix new disabilities and burdens upon them till all of liberty shall be lost.

THE OBJECT OF THE STRUGGLE.

From the first taking of our National census to the last are seventy years, and we find our population at the end of, the period eight times as great as it was at the beginning. The increase of those other things which men deem desirable, has been even greater. We thus have, at one view, what the popular principle, applied to government, through the machinery of the States and the Union, has produced in a given time; and also what, if firmly maintained, it promises for the future. There are already among us those who, if the Union be preserved, will live to see it contain 250,000,000. The struggle of to-day is not altogether for to-day. It is for a vast future, also. With a firm reliance on Providence, all the more firm and earnest, let us proceed in the great task which events have devolved upon us.

REPORT OF THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY.

We give the following extracts from the Report of the Secretary of the Navy :

EMPLOYMENT OF FUGITIVES.

In the coastwise and blockading duties of the navy it has been not unfrequent that fugitives from insurrectionary places have sought our ships for refuge and protection, and our naval commanders have applied to me for instruction as to the proper disposition which should be made of such refugees. My answer has been that, if insurgents, they should be handed over to the custody of the Government; but if, on the contrary, they were free from any voluntary participation in the rebellion and sought the shelter and protection of our flag, then they should be cared for and employed in some useful manner and might be enlisted to serve on our public vessels or in our Navy-yards, receiving wages for their labor. If such employment could not be furnished to all by the navy, they might be referred to the army, and if no employment could be found for them in the public service they should be allowed to proceed freely and peaceably without restraint to seek a livelihood in any loyal portion of the country. This I have considered to be the whole required duty, in the premises, of our naval officers.

REBEL EMISSARIES.

Captain Charles Wilkes, in command of the San Jacinto, while cruising in the West Indies for the Sumter, received information that James M. Mason and John Slidell, disloyal citizens and leading conspirators, were with their suite to embark from Havana in the English steamer Trent, on their way to Europe to promote the cause of the insurgents. Cruising in the Bahama Channel he intercepted the Trent on the 8th of November, and took from her these dangerous men, whom he brought to the United States. His vessel having been ordered to refit for service at Charlestown, the prisoners were retained on board and conveyed to Fort Warren.

The prompt and decisive action of Captain Wilkes on this occasion merited and received the emphatic approval of the Department, and if a too generous forbearance was exhibited by him in not capturing the vessel which had these rebel emissaries on board, it may, in view of the special circumstances, and of its patriotic motives, be excused; but it must by no means be permitted to constitute a precedent hereafter for the treatment of any case of similar infraction of neutral obligations by foreign vessels engaged in commerce or the carrying trade.

THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER.  

A naval force, auxiliary to and connected with the army movements on the Mississippi and its tributaries, has been organized, and is under the command of Flag-Officer Andrew H. Foote, who is rendering efficient service in that quarter.

The steamers which have been built or purchased for this service by the War Department are of a formidable character, and manned by a class of superior seamen and western boatmen, who, in the preliminary skirmishes already, have done good service, and will, I am confident, acquit themselves with credit in the future. Reports are appended exhibiting some of the operations of this command as auxiliary to the military movements on the Mississippi.

SINKING VESSELS.

One method of blockading the ports of the insurgent States, and interdicting communication as well as to prevent the egress of privateers which sought to depredate on our commerce, has been that of sinking in the channels vessels laden with stone. The first movement in this direction was on the North Carolina coast, where there are numerous inlets to Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, and other interior waters, which afforded facilities for eluding the blockade, and also to the privateers. For this purpose a class of small vessels were purchased in Baltimore, some of which have been placed in Ocracoke Inlet.

Another and larger description of vessels were bought in the Eastern market, most of them such as were formerly employed in the whale fisheries. These were sent to obstruct the channels of Charleston harbor and the Savannah River; and this, if effectually done, will prove the most economical and satisfactory method of interdicting commerce at those points.

VESSELS CAPTURED.

Since the institution of the blockade one hundred and fifty-three vessels have been captured sailing under various flags, most of which were attempting to violate the blockade. With few exceptions, these vessels were in such condition when seized as to authorize their being sent at once to the courts for adjudication and condemnation as prizes.

THE FIGHT AT FORT PICKENS.

We illustrate on pages 792 and 793 the scene of the recent conflict at and around Fort Pickens. At the hour we write we are still without authentic advices from the scene of action. It appears certain, however, that on 19th Nov. fire was opened by Fort Pickens on the rebel works, and returned; that the mutual bombardment lasted all day, and was resumed the next ; that after two or three days' firing both parties stopped the engagement, and that matters now remain as they were. There are reports that, Pensacola has been evacuated, and the Navy-yard burned—but nothing certain is known on these points. The commander of the rebel forces is General Bragg, who is supposed to have seven or eight thousand men; the commander of Fort Pickens is Colonel Harvey Brown, who has sixteen hundred men under his command.

THE OCCUPATION OF TYBEE.

Commodore Dupont last week transferred his flag from the Wabash to the Susquehannah, and, together with General Sherman, landed a force of United States marines on Tybee Island, who commenced repairing the fortifications and constructing new ones. A fleet of eight gun-boats is at anchor off Tybee to cover the troops in case of necessity. The rebels sunk two vessels between Tybee Island and Fort Pulaski, in the narrow part of the Savannah River channel, to prevent the fleet from getting to that city. A small schooner has been sent up to one of the islands above Hilton Head to load cotton, and would sail in a few days, by order of the naval authorities.

An account from Savannah is published in a Richmond paper to the effect that, on the 26th ultimo, Commodore Tatnall, with three small rebel steamers and one gun-boat, attacked the Union fleet in Cockspur Roads. The engagement lasted one hour, and from forty to fifty shots were exchanged.

Our illustrations on page 797 represent a reconnoissance made toward Fort Pulaski by General Sherman, when they were fired at by the enemy ; the general view of the coast, etc.


 

 

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