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Civil War Harper's Weekly, December 21, 1861

You are viewing a page from the original December 21, 1861 Harper's Weekly newspapers. We have posted our entire Harper's Weekly collection online for your study and research. These old documents allow you to gain unique insight into the critical aspects of this important period of American History.


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Beaufort Slaves

Beaufort Contrabands

Cost of the Civil War

Fugitive Slaves

Fugitive Slave Issue

New York Mayor Opdyke

New York Mayor Opdyke

Ericsson Battery

Ericsson Steel Battery

Tennessee Map

Tennessee Map


Rankin's Lancer Regiment

Civil War Ads

Civil War Ads

Slavery Cartoon

Slavery Cartoon

Battle of Hunter's Mill

Battle of Hunter's Mill

San Juan Vera Cruz

Castle San Juan D'ulloa

US Man of War

Man of War

Homer's Bivouac Fire on the Potomac

Homer's Bivouac Fire




[DECEMBER 21, 1861.




MR. CHASE, in his Report just laid before Congress, estimates that the rebellion is costing us about $400,000,000 a year, exclusive of the proceeds of the new war taxes. In other words, so long as the war lasts, the loyal people will have to pay direct and indirect taxes at the rate of about $4 per head per annum, and will besides have to borrow $400,000,000 a year.

He has already borrowed $197,000,000 at 6 @ 7.30 per cent. ; further loans to the amount of $75,000,000 were authorized at the extra session in last July : Mr. Chase now asks Congress to authorize the negotiation of fresh loans to the tune of $430,000,000 to carry on the war to 1st July, 1863. Besides the money to be thus raised, he proposes to obtain $150,000,000 by obliging the Banks to call in all their present circulation, and issue fresh notes based on the pledge of United States Stocks and registered at the Treasury Department at Washington.

We can thus realize what the nefarious rebellion of the Southern Slaveholders is costing and going to cost us. The figures constitute a fitting accompaniment to the theories of those politicians who would have as still use half-measures, and deal gingerly with the rebels who are putting us to an expense of blood and treasure unparalleled in the history of nations.

It was expected that Mr. Chase would recommend either a United States Bank or an issue of United States Demand Notes, not redeemable in coin, but made a legal tender by Act of Congress. Wars of such magnitude as the present one have never been waged upon a specie basis. Wall Street was prepared for a recommendation which would have practically amounted to a suspension of specie payments. Mr. Chase has not fulfilled these expectations. If specie payments are to be suspended he leaves the responsibility of the act to Congress.

The new tax levy will amount, as we said, to about $90,000,000 a year, or say $4 per head of the loyal population. This tax is distributed as follows :

Indirect taxes, customs, etc., etc  $40,000,000

Income tax ..................................   10,000,000

Direct tax, to be levied by States .. 20,000,000
Tax on tobacco, distilled liquors, etc., etc 20,000,000

Aggregate taxation   .................... $90,000,000

In order to show the actual operations of the Treasury Department, we condense from the Report of the Treasury the following figures :



Expenditure for first quarter    $98,239,733
Estimated expenditure for second, third, and fourth quarters, according to acts of extra session    302,035,761

Additional appropriations now asked for   143,130,927

Total   $543,406,422


Ordinary revenue from customs, etc .......................................................$36,809,731

Revenue from direct tax ................20,000,000

Borrowed already .........................197,242,588

Balance of loans authorized ..........75,449,675

Deficit ...........................................213,904,427




Civil list   $23,086,971

Interior Department    4,102,962

War    360,159,986

Navy    45,164,994

Public debt    42,816,330

Total    $475,331,245


Customs, etc, ...............................$45,800,000

Direct taxes .....................................50,000,000

Deficit ...............................379,531,245   ......................................................$475,331,245

The latter estimate, we need hardly explain, is based upon the hypothesis that the war will last another year. Mr. Chase hopes and believes that it will be over by mid-summer.


WE must never lose sight of the main object of the war, and of the means by which that object can be attained.

This war is prosecuted for the maintenance of the Union and of the indivisible nationality of the United States. It is not, as foreigners suppose, a war for tariffs, or on account of slavery. The United States Government has no other object in view than the assertion of its authority over the whole of its dominion, and the practical refutation of the subversive doctrines of secession and State sovereignty. It is likely that, in the course of the contest which is being waged, various existing interests, including the institution of slavery, may suffer severely. With that the United States have nothing to do. As soon as the authority of the United States Government is acknowledged throughout the revolted section the war will cease, whatever be the condition of the slaves and the slave-owners; but until that authority is acknowledged the war will go on, and, whatever may be the views of individual generals, it will be waged in the most thorough manner, and every rebel interest, including the institution of slavery, will be assailed as vigorously as possible. If we are forced

to free the slaves in order to restore the Union, we shall do so. But no one in authority would desire to carry on the conflict for one hour after the authority of the Government was acknowledged at the South, for the sake of abolishing slavery.

How are we to succeed in accomplishing our purpose of restoring the authority of Government throughout the revolted section?

When the war first broke out it was generally assumed that there was in every Southern State, with, perhaps, the single exception of South Carolina, a majority in favor of the Union, and that nothing was needed but the presence of an imposing force of Union troops to enable this majority to reassert its control over the section which it inhabited. The idea of many persons was that if we sent a hundred thousand troops into Virginia, the loyalists of that State would straightway overwhelm the rebels, and elect members of Congress. Experience soon caused a modification of these views. People soon realized that a majority which lets itself be ruled by a minority could not prove a very efficient ally to an invading army. Independently of this consideration, it was remembered that all revolutions are the work of minorities ; in every community the majority of the people are inert, pusillanimous, and accustomed to be led by a few daring, reckless spirits. It is undoubtedly true that in March last a clear majority of the people of Virginia, Louisiana, Georgia, and Tennessee were opposed to secession. The minority, however, carried the day in all these States, and the majority acquiesced. Now there are members of almost every Union family at the South in the rebel army ; Southern pride has been thoroughly aroused ; and it is safe to conclude that the Union party at the South—as a party—has ceased to exist. There are no doubt large numbers of men at the South who in their heart desire the restoration of the Union. But many of these men are fighting in the ranks of the rebels. To expect any aid from them is as fallacious as it was for the secessionists to count upon the alliance of Mr. Fernando Wood and the city of New York. The "masses" always stand by their section, and follow their leaders.

It is clear, then, that we can not succeed in our purpose of restoring the Union through the aid of Southern Unionists, whose efforts in that behalf—now held in check by the rebel despotism—can be evoked by the presence of Union armies.

What we have to do is to convince the people of the South that we are stronger than they, and as resolute; that we are determined to restore the Union at any cost ; and that they can not contend against us. When this is done, we shall find plenty of Southern Unionists, and the war will be over.

In order to convince the South that the struggle is hopeless on their part, that we must succeed in the end, and that their best interests will be promoted by a surrender, we must do two things—we must beat them in the field, and we must render the inconveniences of the war intolerable to the Southern people.

The first will be done by General McClellan at his own time, and in his own way. He is working with unexampled industry and energy to create an army which shall teach the South that Northerners are the better men as well as the better citizens. It is, perhaps, hardly desirable that he should strike his blow before other measures have prepared the Southern people for a reactionary movement against the rebel despotism. At all events, when the cost of rebellion has been thoroughly appreciated in every rebel State, a victory on the Potomac will yield far more useful fruit than it would at present, while the bulk of the rebels are still sanguine of success.

The measures which are being taken by Government to teach the South the cost of rebellion are of various kinds. The blockade is the first. This must cause very severe suffering. For six months no vessel has arrived at New Orleans. Thousands of families, which derive their living from foreign trade at Southern ports, must be puzzled to obtain food and clothing. The " stone fleet" blockade will strike at other classes as well. The sinking of stone-laden ships at the mouth of Southern harbors, must render it doubtful whether those harbors can ever again be opened to trade, and must render real estate in the sea-ports thus closed absolutely worthless. A necessary part of the blockade is the descent and occupation of the Mississippi River. We understand that Government is resolved to occupy the shores of the Mississippi, from Cairo to New Orleans, at whatever cost. If two hundred thousand men under General McClellan are needed for the operation, they will be forthcoming. We must hold Columbus, Memphis, Natchez, and New Orleans. We may hold simultaneously Hatteras, Port Royal, Savannah, Brunswick, Fernandina, and Pensacola. Thus encircled, the rebel section will be within our grasp, and we can make the rebels feel what it is to be at war. For instance, they are suffering severely from the want of various articles of prime necessity, leather, coffee, tea, salt, woolen cloths, all kinds of hardware, drugs, etc. This want will become more stringent as time elapses, and the blockade is perfected. Wherever our armies go slaves escape, and the dread

of servile insurrections spreads. When we come to hold half the great cities of the South, we should imagine that this consideration alone will lead many rebels to weigh the advantages of surrender. Our occupation of Port Royal is said to have cost the people of that district 7000 slaves, worth—as they are mostly adults—at least $5,000,000. Virginia has lost more than 7000. When we take Memphis and New Orleans the fugitives will probably be counted by the hundreds of thousands. The Confiscation Act is another part of the regular course of instruction through which the rebels will be put. It is well understood that Congress will pass a law which will forfeit the property of every rebel, and will divide it between loyal men who have been ruined by the war and the Government itself. As our armies advance, and this Act is carried into effect, its execution will exercise a wholesome effect upon the rebels who are still in arms.

It is believed that by the time the cordon is fairly tightened round the rebel States, and the Southern people have had time to appreciate the discomforts of a paralysis of trade, the want of a large number of articles of prime necessity, the loss of slaves, the dread of slave insurrections, and the prospect of seeing their property confiscated, they will be ready for a reactionary movement, and " Union Southerners" who have some backbone will begin to develop in various spots. A smart defeat in the field would then probably end the war.

This, we take it, is the programme of the Government, as planned by Generals Scott and McClellan, and approved by Mr. Lincoln. We need hardly observe that its success mainly depends upon the thoroughness with which the penalties of rebellion are impressed upon the Southern mind. If we are to convert these rebels by chastisement there must be no sparing of the rod. Nothing must be neglected, consistently with the rules of warfare, which can increase the inconveniences and terrors of their position. When the war is over we shall be ready enough to forgive: just now the severest methods are the most humane.


IT is not too late to speak of the Message, for the Message is the programme of the policy of the Government in dealing with the rebellion; and now that public opinion has fairly expressed itself, we are better able to measure the impression produced by the Message upon the country.

It was a most difficult moment for a President to speak. But unquestionably the public confidence is confirmed by the Message ; and that is, upon the whole, the highest praise of it. It is a thoroughly characteristic paper. The President is an honest, plain, shrewd magistrate. He is not a brilliant orator ; he is not a great leader. He views his office as a strictly executive one, and wishes to cast responsibilities, as much as possible, upon Congress. He wishes to get as near, and keep as near, to the people as he can. If the people are right, the President will be so, If the people are wrong, the President can not make them right. No policy can be successful which is not based upon the public conviction.

The President states the condition of the country calmly and dispassionately. " I have adhered," he says, to the Act of Congress to confiscate property used 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 indispensable 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."

These are the words of a wise magistrate. No loyal citizen, surely—no man who believes that the Government is adequate to all the objects that honorable men desire—could wish that extreme measures should be taken before they are indispensable. If it should appear that the supremacy of the Government could be restored only by putting New Orleans under water and totally destroying the other Southern ports, such measures would, of course, be taken. But nobody wishes that they should be employed until the necessity is beyond question. So, if it should appear that the Union can be preserved only by a summary emancipation and arming of the slaves, it would be an extreme measure justified by military necessity, and would unquestionably be taken ; because the Government of the United States is more precious than the system of human slavery.

The President clearly contemplates the possibility of such emergencies, and he therefore takes care to express the necessity of maintaining the Government, even at such cost, in the most unreserved manner. That it is done without rhetoric or passion makes it only the more impressive. Does any intelligent man suppose that Mr. Lincoln is less firmly persuaded now than he was four years ago, when he said it, that a house divided against itself can not stand? Does any body doubt that he believes the house can be united upon the sole principle of permanent security, and that he means to do all he can as the Chief Magistrate to secure that result ? His method may not seem to us the most heroic, but so long as we confide in the honesty of his purpose we shall not foolishly perplex him.

If any body supposes that Slavery is going to survive this war he seems to us not rightly to understand human nature. The military hand, which knows no rule but necessity, will loosen its roots ; and the hand of law will afterward tear it up and

cast it into the fire. Probably there is no man in the country who sees this more clearly than the President.


THE annual Reports from the Departments of Government are already part of our history; and it has few more glowing chapters than they write. They are the record of the spirit and power of the nation ; the final, crowning testimony to the quality of the race and the character of our political system. The rebellion took its at the utmost disadvantage. It had tied the national resources head and foot, as far as it could, and it had the official control. It relied upon the long habit of peace and upon party division to compel the nation to surrender. Last winter eminent rebels-John Slidell was one of them—said that the plot was perfect and sure. The Montgomery Constitution was to be adopted; the new lawful administration set aside ; New England left out, or suffered to come in only as a single State with two Senators; New York was ready, they said, to accede, for they had just read Fernando Wood's Message; there would be but little fighting, and that not serious ; the Government was to be subverted, the nation betrayed, and the revolution accomplished, before the world distinctly knew what was going on.

This was the amiable Slidell's view, and Hunter's, and Davis's. The gentlemanly James M. Mason, on the 19th of February, expressed his firm persuasion and ardent desire that the Union would be and should be maintained; and the gentlemanly man, who is all honor, wrote on the 20th to a correspondent in France, the details of the conspiracy. These people had been so long sedulously poisoning the nation that they assumed it to be paralyzed or dead. And there were honest men, too, who really feared it might be so.

On the 12th of April the rebellion began hostilities against the nation at Sumter. We had then 16,000 regular troops, mainly on the Western frontier. 75,000 volunteers for three months were called for, 78,000 immediately responded. In July 500,000 volunteers were asked for three years of the war, and the regular army was increased by 25,000 men. On the first of December we have a force of 600,000 troops; and, reckoning the three months' soldiers, the force that has responded to the call since April is more than 700,000 men. Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri were then threatened with rebellion. But they have held and been held fast to the Government.

And this is only preparation.

Turning from the land to the water, what is the naval condition and prospect of the nation ?

0n the 4th of March we had 12 vessels as a home squadron, and of these 4 only, mounting 25 guns, were in Northern ports; the rest, 8 vessels of 162 guns, including the Sabine of 50 guns, were at Pensacola, at Vera Cruz, or homeward bound from that port, all without question intended by Toucey to fall into the hands of the rebels. Our navy then counted 42 vessels, carrying 555 guns, and 7600 men. It now consists of 264 vessels, 2557 guns, and 22,000 men. The naval arm of the nation has thus far struck the heaviest blows at the rebellion. Hatteras and Port Royal are henceforth historic names.

Thus the nation that Slidell, Mason, and the other conspirators believed to be dead or hopelessly imbecile, which they supposed was dough in their hands, in seven months has created an army and navy, meanwhile maintaining every inch of the ground it occupied, and retaking parts of the insurgent section. Surely we had never fairer cause for congratulation. For it is our own vindication to ourselves. It is the justification of our system which some could not help doubting.

And have not the two Secretaries vindicated themselves also in regard to the charges of incompetency? Mr. Welles was called to the head of the Navy Department when instant and extensive action was required. He had no ships, no men, and he could do nothing but provide them as fast as possible. But human possibility can never satisfy human impatience in an emergency. There seemed to be inertness because there was delay. Because ships were not produced at every point where they were needed ; because an officer of the government could not make purchases without consideration, it seemed as if nothing were doing, as if all would be lost before we raised a hand. In addition to all this, the Secretary had a long beard—consequently he was Rip Van Winkle soundly sleeping. And now behold his dreams !

Certainly not in our day have the annual Message of the President and the Reports of the Secretaries struck a key so perfectly in accordance with the spirit and intent of the Government and the honor of the nation as those which were lately published. The Union means power, and liberty, and peace.


Now that the fury of the city election is over, every honest citizen should think a moment of the grounds upon which the late Mayor urged his reelection. For Mr. Wood will again offer himself for office, doubtless, and his conduct should be well remembered.

His speeches just before the election were the most startling that have been known in our civic affairs. He deliberately incited the worst passions of the worst men, not politically, but socially. He appealed to the most hateful prejudices, and in sheer desperation strove to array class against class, race against race, and the city against the State. This war, he said, is a war of the abolitionists against Southern men and their rights. They are very willing to spend Irish and German blood to secure a victory, and when they have secured it, they will bring the black laborer up into the North to steal the work and the bread of the honest Irish and Germans.

As for the abolition war let Dickinson and Cochrane, Bancroft and Burnside, Meagher and Corcoran answer. (Next Page)



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