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Civil War Harper's Weekly, December 7, 1861

We have posted our collection of original Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers online for your study and enjoyment. These newspapers allow you to gain a more in depth understanding of the war, and the attitudes of the day. We hope you enjoy browsing this collection, and find the content enlightening.


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Fort Warren

Fort Warren

The Slavery Question

The Slavery Question


Bombardment of Pensacola

Southwest Pass

Battle of Southwest Pass

Southwest Pass

Fight at Southwest Pass

Santa Rosa

The Battle of Santa Rosa





Battle of Belmont

Mississippi River

Mississippi River Southwest Pass

Camp Nevin

Camp Nevin, Kentucky

Steamer Constitution

The Steamship "Constitution"

Review of the Army

Review of the Army










[DECEMBER 7, 1861.



WE devote the preceding page to illustrations of FORT WARREN in Boston harbor, the state prison where Mason, Slidell, and other rebels are now confined. The following description is from the Boston Journal:

George's Island, upon which Fort Warren is located, is situated about two miles west of Boston Light, fronting the main entrance to the harbor. It contains about forty-five acres, and is protected by a sea wall extending half way round the island on the most exposed part. The construction of the fort was commenced in 1833, under the direction of Colonel Sylvanus Thayer, of the United States Corps of Engineers. The work was continued until 1858, when operations were suspended by the failure of Congress to make the necessary appropriations. The fort is constructed of granite obtained principally from Quincy and Cape Ann. The sum of $1,050,000 has been expended by the Government upon the work, and It is regarded as the best built and cheapest work of its size in the United States. The sum of $75,000 is required to complete the fort, and about $300,000 to properly arm it. It is rated the most formidable work of defense in the United States, the intended armament being 320 guns, while Forts Monroe and Adams mount respectively about 290 guns. When fully garrisoned the fort will require a force of between five and seven thousand men.

The general plan of the fortification is a figure of five sides or fronts, with bastions, curtains, flanks, and faces. The top of the parapet is 70 feet above low-water mark, while the height of the parade wall is 25 feet, and that of the scarp or exterior wall 30 feet. The main fort is entirely surrounded by a ditch 30 feet wide. The average length of each front is about 620 feet, making the entire circuit of the fortification 3136 feet. The area of the parade ground is nearly ten acres. The space between the inner and outer walls is about 50 feet, and with the exception of the southerly front, the fort is truncated and divided into casemates or quarters. The terre-plein, upon which is to be planted the barbette guns, is 27 feet wide, and extends entirely around the top of the fort. The pintles and traverse stones, or circles upon which the guns are to be worked, have been set on the most commanding fronts, but at the present time only one gun, and that a Columbiad, in the casemates, is mounted. Measures have, however, been taken to supply the fort with a battery of rifled cannon.

The easterly front, commanding the main channel, mounts 35 barbette guns, and beneath them, in the case-mates, provision is made for mounting 30 Columbiads, and five flank guns, the latter designed to throw grape-shot for the defense only of the ditches. In the event of attempts being made to scale the ramparts, the ladders of the assailants could be shot away as fast as raised. All vessels entering the harbor are obliged to pass between " Bug Light" and the fort, and within half a mile of this formidable battery, in addition to which there is an outwork against the southerly front, commanding not only the south channel, but ranging in the main entrance, upon which can be mounted two batteries of seventeen and thirty-one guns.

The northeasterly front, commanding the Narrows, mounts 32 barbette guns on the terre-plein, and 47 on a cover-face, which extends the entire length of the front. The battery on the northwesterly front, also commanding the Narrows, will consist of 35 barbette guns, and several flank guns for defending the ditches and main entrance to the port. In advance of this front is an outwork in front of the main entrance, called a demi-lune or lunette from its shape. This is pierced with loop-holes, and provided with fire-places, and is intended to be used either as a prison or for the defense of the field or plain outside. The main guard-house is at the entrance of the ditch, on the left flank of this front. It consists of two square rooms, built of solid masonry, under the embankment, and well warmed and lighted. The westerly front, facing Nantasket Roads, has no provision for a battery, it being a solid embankment, with ramps for drawing ordnance from the parade to the terre-plein.

The quarters of the officers of the garrison are located in the casemates of the northwesterly front, which is pierced by the main entrance. There are eight sets of apartments, four of which, in the curtain, are finished, with marble mantles and fire-places, and plastered and painted in a style equal to first-class dwellings. Each set of quarters has a cistern of about twenty hogsheads' capacity. The balance of apartments are in different stages, just as the workmen left them, some being rough masonry, while others are plastered, but not finished. An extensive bake oven, for supplying the garrison with bread, was designed for this front, but is not yet completed. Here, too, are extensive storerooms. On the right flank of the westerly front is an ice house, and a space in the casemate has been allotted to a chapel, capable of accommodating 400 soldiers. The stone for flagging the floor is piled up in the chapel, the walls of which are now plain brick and granite.

The casemate in the northeasterly front is divided into ten spacious apartments for barracks for troops, each 50 by 17 feet, and provided with two fire-places, well lighted and ventilated. In the centre of this face is a postern which, in time of assault, is designed to be connected with the cover face by a draw-bridge, over which the troops, if repulsed, may retreat within the fort and close the heavy postern gates. There are apartments in the rear of each casemate in the sea front which, if necessary, may be used for barracks. There are three circular staircases and four straight flights of stone stairs leading from the parade-ground to the terre-plein. Magazines are located in the extreme end of each face and curtain, in the rear of the guns.

There are two wells of excellent water in the fort, which have never failed. The landing on the west side of the fort has a granite front of three hundred feet. Some attempt has been made to ornament the grounds surrounding the fort by planting from 800 to 1000 shade trees. They are, however, quite young, and as yet do not afford much shade.

EUROPEAN Dealers will be supplied with HARPER'S WEEKLY by John Adams Knight, Publisher of the London American, 100 Fleet St., London, England, where Subscriptions and Advertisements will be received, and single copies of HARPER'S MONTHLY and WEEKLY furnished.



MR. JEFFERSON DAVIS and his fellow-rebels have fled from Richmond to Nashville. At the time Bull Run was fought we were told that Richmond was impregnable. It seems now that it is not quite safe enough; and as McClellan obstinately refuses to go into winter-quarters, the king of the rebels has taken flight with all his court. This is the second "flitting" of the " Confederate Government" since the war began. It will not probably be the last.

Nashville, we take it, is at least as accessible to our forces as Richmond. It possesses some remarkable advantages in regard to mountain defenses, but hardly more than the capital of Virginia. It is accessible on two sides, from Kentucky on the north, where Buel must have 40,000 men on the Nashville and Louisville Railroad, and from Memphis on the west, where

we hope that Halleck and Foote will soon make a call with 80,000 or 100,000, and some big guns. It is a good deal further from the sea-board cities on the Atlantic than Richmond, which will be a comforting reflection for the Georgians and Carolinians, who will have to go there to protect Jeff Davis's Court while our naval expeditions are rapping at the doors of their homes.

It is not necessary, in order to end this war, that we should seize the rebel capital. In the course of a few weeks it is hoped that we shall hold every good sea-port on the Atlantic, and the line of the Mississippi from Cairo to the delta. This achieved, we can wait. Thus encircled, it is a mere question of weeks how long the insurrection can endure atrophy.


SEVERAL of the newspapers are worrying themselves about the slavery question, some of them insisting that our generals shall forthwith proceed to emancipate the slaves, while others demand that slavery, alone of Southern interests, shall be shielded from damage during the war.

Surely this discussion is irrelevant and idle at this time. Events alone can shape the course of the war, including its bearing on the institution of slavery. It is out of the power of the President or of his generals to determine the nature and extent of the changes which the war must produce in Southern society, Southern institutions, and Southern interests. We began the war with protests against the employment of slaves, and our generals uniformly returned fugitives to their masters. There has been no authoritative announcement of a change of policy; but no United States general, with the single exception of General Halleck (who stands precisely where McClellan, Heintzelman, and the others stood three months ago), now tolerates slave-hunting in his camp. Military necessity has compelled them all to welcome information brought in by fugitive slaves, and labor wrought by black as well as white hands. Surely after such a beginning the enemies of slavery can afford to let time and Providence work undisturbedly.

It is nonsense to talk of emancipating the slaves by decree, or proclamation of any thing of the kind. You must first catch your hare. The bulk of the Southern people thoroughly believe that our Government and our army are abolitionists. A decree of emancipation would not surprise them or add to their dangers. They are acting as though it had been already promulgated. They would laugh at a paper decree of emancipation, and it would have no more effect than Fremont's Brutum fulmen, or the paper blockades of old. In effect, wherever our armies penetrate emancipation becomes a fact, from the military necessities of the case; where rebel bayonets rule slavery thrives despite all we may say or publish to the contrary.

The changes already wrought by events in the policy of our generals with regard to Slavery are instructive. General McClellan is understood to have been a Douglas man, and entered Virginia with a proclamation announcing his tender regard for the peculiar institution. He has since discovered that the most reliable information he can get comes from fugitives slaves, and slave-hunters don't succeed, about these times, in finding him at home. General Heintzelman, before Bull Run, was a stout defender of slavery; but when he was placed in command of the most exposed division of the army on Accotink Creek, facing Beauregard, a proper concern for his division produced a wonderful change in his views. Slaves are received with open arms at his camp, and their information has proved most useful. General Heintzelman is wise enough to know that a. slave may bring him news which may save the whole army. Virginian slave-owners complain bitterly of his growing tendency toward abolitionism. General Halleck is destined to go through the same improving education. When he finds himself on the march, within ten miles of the enemy, and it is a matter of life and death for him to know the enemy's force and intentions, he will reconsider the order which now excludes fugitive slaves from his camp for fear they should run back into slavery. Necessity is a most successful schoolmaster.

MR. Du CHAILLU AND HIS GORILLAS still occupy the attention of the English literary and scientific journals, though Darwin, Murchison, Burton, Gray, and Malone no longer participate in the fight. Retributive justice seems to have overtaken Mr. Du Chaillu's most bitter opponent, Dr. Gray-the British Museum having signified its appreciation of the value of Mr. Du Chaillu's contributions to Natural History by purchasing the subjects of the controversy—the famous, or infamous, gorillas—and placing them in the charge of Dr. Gray, who is curator of the Natural History department.

It seems too had, however, that after Mr. Du Chaillu has so triumphantly vindicated the truth of his statements, and gained fresh Transatlantic laurels for American authorship by completely silencing his adversaries' batteries, he should be assailed by one of his own countrymen. An American correspondent informs the London Critic that Mr. Du Chaillu "is not the author of the volume

of African Explorations, but it is the work of a New York literary rowdy, named NORDHOFF, commonly known as the Baron ;" and this information is commended to the serious attention of Dr. Gray and the London Morning Advertiser. The statement was immediately pronounced, by a correspondent of the London Morning Star, not only an unmitigated falsehood in regard to Mr. Du Chaillu, but also a despicable slander against one of our most able and esteemed New York journalists, Mr. NORDHOFF—to whom, as a contemporary says, the term rowdy is about as applicable as to Mr. Bryant or Mr. Greeley. The English journalists, with their present rancorous disposition toward every thing American, will gladly avail themselves of the toadyism of this scurrilous American correspondent. A Mr. OSGOOD (of the house of TICKNOR & FIELDS, Boston) is said to be the correspondent of the London Critic.



DOUBTLESS, in the reports of the Thanksgiving Sermons you will see a great many just and eloquent statements of the lessons of the war. It is the natural theme of the times. But especially upon Thanksgiving-day the preacher might turn his audience to consider what occasions of thankfulness the war offered. And these, too, he would find to be many and profound.

Think of the career it opens to so many young men. War is always terrible, and the military career is not always ennobling, But a war of great principles—such a war as that in which Philip Sidney or that in which Joseph Warren fell —are wars which develop the finest traits and expand the soul. A man who fought in Mexico, a few years ago, was certainly engaged in no very lofty business, however brave he may have shown himself to be ; for it will always he doubted by many just men whether that war was not unjust. The soldier lacked the inspiration of a noble cause.

But the flower of our youth who are ranged today in battle order from the Potomac to the Mississippi consciously stand for the holiest cause. Wives give their husbands, and mothers their sons, and sisters their brothers, and maids their lovers, with earnest devotion. They weep, but they would not hold them back. They grow grave and silent, but without repining, and with a solemn sense—not without sweetness—of the depth and true purpose of life. The war is a career for the women as well as the men. The busy clicking of the needles in their hands is the symbol of the beating of hearts within. They are weaned from trivial thoughts. They share the work of the redemption of their Government and the salvation of the nation.

And the young men, bred in elegant leisure, who would have lounged aimlessly through life, often with a vague and dispiriting consciousness of unused powers and dormant ambition—men made not for study and thought and the dry routine of trade, but for heroic action, if only the time served —they find their day suddenly dawning, and hastening to be heroes, they give to the morning paper all the wild charm of old history.

It is not merely war, it is not only the opportunity of action that does this ; but it is the character and purpose of the war. How brave the English boys were in the Crimea and in India! But why were they fighting? Who can readily say why ? Yet there is not a young man of ours, who thought to be a clerk and who finds himself a soldier, who does not know precisely why he has drawn his sword. It is to defend the Government of his country, which is the guarantee of human liberty. To defend a Government which, truly interpreted and administered, was inimical to justice and liberty, would be a shame or a crime for any man in any country. When our men strike for the Government, the strength of their arms is the consciousness that they strike for the highest welfare of every man who is the subject of that Government.

Theodore Winthrop, in one of his letters, written from Washington within the first month of the war, expresses precisely the truth of the situation: " I see no present end to this business. We must conquer the South. Afterward we must be prepared to do its police in its own behalf, and in behalf of its black population, which this war must, without precipitation, emancipate. We must hold the South as the Metropolitan Police holds New York. All this is inevitable. Now I wish to enroll myself at once in the police of the nation, and for life, if the nation will take me. I do not see that I can put myself—experience and character—to any more useful use."

These words describe the career which this war has opened to so many young men. Its results in the national character can not easily be overestimated. The quality of their heroism has been already proved in these men. Patient valor, allied with a consciousness of justice in the cause, is irresistible.


Oust history makes itself so rapidly that it is hard to stop to comment upon its shifting aspects without being left in the lurch by newer events. Yet there are certain truths in regard to the rebellion which are confirmed by every thing that happens. Among these are the sagacity of the rebel leaders, and the ability with which they use their opportunities and means.

For instance, they have known from the beginning that their most vulnerable side was their coast. They had no ships and although the tool of treason, Mr. Toucey, had done all he could, they knew that we could command some ships. All summer long they have seen the blockading squadron. All summer long they have heard the busy hammer in our ship-yards. All summer long they have known that the winds of autumn would blow a fleet to their shores. And they have been preparing to meet it.

When the expedition sailed there was something of the same kind of unquestioning confidence in the public mind that attended the forward movement toward Manassas in July. It seemed to be thought that we should pop upon some unexpected point, land without trouble, and strike the rebellion in its own camp. The truth was, that we had undertaken one of the most difficult movements : to approach an enemy's coast, to attack batteries with ships, and to land in the face of a hostile force. Our triumph is truly magnificent. It is a success which we had no right to suppose could be so complete and so splendid.

And yet, what we found proves only the more fully the shrewdness and the ability of the enemy. Knowing long ago that the expedition would inevitably come, they naturally asked themselves where it was likely to strike. The great ports, Savannah, New Orleans, Charleston, and Mobile, were peculiarly protected against attacks from the water side ; and it was probably not one of them. The remaining points of possible access to any fleet or adapted for any combined operations were few. Port Royal, Brunswick, Fernandina, and others: of these Port Royal was the more likely point, because it was a fine entrance, because the harbor could float a fleet, and because it was midway between Savannah and Charleston, threatening both; and lay in the heart of a cotton and rice country, with 80 per cent. of slave population. When Beaufort was taken a cotton port was opened. When a cotton port was opened foreign powers could not undertake to break the blockade to get cotton. To take Beaufort was to draw the capital prize. The rebels knew it, and prepared for it.

We supposed that there might be a few earthworks, heaps of sand, as at Hatteras, but easily demolished with a few shell. But we found bomb-proof fortifications strenuously defended for four hours, and yielding only because nothing could withstand the tempest of fire that raged from our fleet. The forts of the enemy were well built and well manned.

And as Port Royal was protected, so probably are the other points upon the rebels' coast. They have counted the cost of the war, and they are prepared to pay. They will fight obstinately and desperately; but they are men, and they must yield to stronger men. Their resistance only secures our victory, for it will show us the necessity of destroying the root of rebellion. They have accepted the war, as a war of Slavery against Liberty, as the corner-stone of the Government. If they are conquered, by their own admission slavery is defeated.

There was never a moment in our history when a man should be so proud of being an American as now. For the cardinal principles of our system are in course of vindication, and we are making ourselves a nation of freemen. The strongest power in the world is an idea; and when justice is the form as it is the spirit of our Government, our permanent national peace and glory are secured.


THERE was consolation in reading of the arrest of Slidell and Mason and Gwin to think that the new times of the country will give us new men ; and that the insolence and vulgarity which are necessarily fostered by the system represented by those men will, for a time at least, vanish from our annals.

The arrogance of the men who were captured escaping as rebel agents to Europe is notorious. They and their associates have for many years assumed to overrule and bully the Senate of the United States. They have sought to exclude the word Liberty from all discussions, and have carried on, with haughty disdain, their conspiracy either to pervert or to destroy the Government.

As for Mason, it is a poetic justice that he will be sent to Fort Warren, in Boston harbor. It will teach him and his friends that the obsequious greeting he received in that city only a few years since was no indication that the heart of New England was servile. But no one can forget that it was precisely that kind of civility which deceived the Southern chiefs into the belief that their sway was absolute in the country, and that their plans would not be seriously resisted. If the gentlemen of the North had stood as fast for Liberty and the Constitution as the gentlemen of the South have stood for Slavery, Constitution or no Constitution, we should have been spared the rebellion. If the sturdy mass of loyal men at the North had treated every man who defended Slavery or apologized for it as the Southern people have treated all those who felt about Slavery as Washington, Jefferson, and Madison felt, the conspiracy would have been hopeless. Even Northern society has swarmed with snobs who thought it a fine thing to praise Slavery and denounce a preference for Liberty and decency.

Of course no thoughtful man has ever confounded all those who live in the Slave States, or who own slaves, in an indiscriminate condemnation. What is thought and said about Slavery is thought and said of a system, and of the society based upon the system, Because Mason was insolent, it does not follow that no Virginian is a gentleman. And another thing emphatically does not follow, and that is, that a man is a gentleman because he is a slave-owner. For it can by no possible interpretation of the word be made to appear gentlemanly for one man to live by the forced labor of another man whom he does not pay, and whom he whips if he will not work.

The war will take this conceit well out of the public mind ; and it will not be the least of our victories.


WHEN our forces captured the forts at Port Royal and pressed into the fort to raise the old flag, it was found that the rebels in retreating had arranged a process by which a mine should be fired and the fort and its possessors blown up at the very moment the flag was raised.

This little fact is but another indication of the (Next Page)



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