Privateer "Savannah"


This Site:

Civil War

Civil War Overview

Civil War 1861

Civil War 1862

Civil War 1863

Civil War 1864

Civil War 1865

Civil War Battles

Confederate Generals

Union Generals

Confederate History

Robert E. Lee

Civil War Medicine

Lincoln Assassination


Site Search

Civil War Links


Civil War Art

Revolutionary War

Mexican War

Republic of Texas


Winslow Homer

Thomas Nast

Mathew Brady

Western Art

Civil War Gifts

Robert E. Lee Portrait

Civil War Harper's Weekly, June 29, 1861

This original Civil War Harper's Weekly newspaper features a cover illustration showing the important role women played in the War Effort. It also has a article on the Battle of Great Bethel, and a number of fascinating illustrations.

(Scroll Down to See full page, or Newspaper Thumbnails will take you to the page of interest)


Women Volunteers Civil War

Women Volunteers

Civil War Piracy

Evacuation of Harper's Ferry


Martinsburg, Virginia

Whipping Post

Slave Whipping Post

Vermont Regiment

Vermont Regiment

Camp Slifer

Camp Slifer

Battle of Great Bethel

The Battle of Great Bethel

Duryee's Zouaves

Colonel Duryee's Zouaves at Great Bethel

The Army at Cairo

The Union Army at Cairo, Illinois


Riverboats at Cairo, Illinois

The Army of the Potomac

The Army of the Potomac

The Privateer Savannah

The Privateer Savannah

Negro Cartoon



JUNE 29, 1861.]





WE publish herewith a portrait of this gallant young hero, from a photograph kindly famished by his family. The Philadelphia Inquirer gives the following sketch of his life :

Lieutenant John T. Greble was a native of Philadelphia, and was the son of Edwin Greble, Esq. He passed examination in the Ringgold Grammar School at the age of twelve, as a candidate for the High School, at which latter institution he graduated at the age of sixteen. From the High School Mr. Greble went, under the nomination of the Hon. Lewis C. Levin, to the Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated high in his class on the 1st of July, 1854, taking his place in the army as a brevet Second Lieutenant. In September of the same year he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Second Artillery, and was promoted to a First Lieutenancy on the 3d of March, 1857.

After receiving his first commission, Lieutenant Greble was stationed for a few months at Newport Barracks, but was soon called to active service in Florida, to aid in protecting the inhabitants of that State from the depredations and murders of the much dreaded band of Seminoles under Billy Bowlegs. He served several years in this war, remaining until his regiment came home. His next service was upon the Academical Staff at West Point, as one of the Professors. In October, 1860, he was ordered to Fortress Monroe, where he was stationed until the 26th of May, 1861, at which time he went with his artillery command to the advanced post at Newport News.

The sad termination of his brief but promising military career is told in the sorrowful intelligence made public yesterday. He was born in January, 1834, and was killed while gallantly heading his command in battle, on the morning of June 10, 1861, aged twenty-seven years. The particulars of this engagement show that the United States troops while advancing on Great Bethel were attacked by a masked rebel battery of forty rifled cannon, and that Lieutenant Greble was consequently ordered to bring up his guns. This movement he effected with great promptitude, and fired a number of shots, but without effect, in consequence of the commanding position of the enemy. A retreat was therefore rendered necessary. In making arrangements for the withdrawal of his guns, Lieutenant Greble was struck on the forehead and killed instantly. As an officer he bore the highest character. He was every inch a thorough-bred American soldier—skilled, brave, active, and efficient. In private life he was a gifted and accomplished gentleman, and every where he was beloved and esteemed.


WE devote several pages this week to illustrations of the BATTLE OF GREAT BETHEL, and the movements of our army at and near Fortress Monroe.

On page 408 we publish, from a sketch by our Special Artist, who was present throughout the fight, a general view of the BATTLE OF GREAT BETHEL; and on page 409 a fine picture of the CHARGE OF DURYEE'S ZOUAVES upon the rebel battery. On page 406 we give pictures of the GUN-YARD AT FORTRESS MONROE, the ROWS OF SHOT AND SHELL piled up ready for use at that work ; JOHN TYLER'S HOUSE, now occupied by Federal troops; THE FEMALE COLLEGE, also occupied by our troops—all from photographs by Mr. Stacy ; the ENTRANCE TO THE FORT, and a WHIPPING-POST on an estate near the Fort, from sketches by our special Artist. On page 407 we give a view of the CAMP OF THE VERMONT REGIMENT AT NEWPORT NEWS, from a sketch by Surgeon Sanborn of that Regiment; and a

 picture of COLONEL ALLEN'S CAMP, at the same place, from a sketch by our Special Artist. On page 410 we present a view of one of the faces of Fortress Monroe, showing the GLACIS AND DITCH, from a photograph by Mr. Stacy; and a picture of the LANDING OF THE SCOTT LIFE-GUARD at Newport News on the 7th inst., from a sketch by our Special Artist. On this page we give a picture of a GUN BENT DOUBLE by a cannon-ball in the hands of a United States soldier at the Battle of Great Bethel, from a photograph by W. H. Weaver. The next shot from the same gun took off the man's head.

Of the BATTLE OF GREAT BETHEL the following brief account must suffice at present :

About midnight Colonel Duryee's Zouaves and Colonel Townsend's (Albany) regiment crossed the river at Hampton by means of six large batteaux, manned by the Naval Brigade, and took up the line of march, the former some two miles in advance of the latter. At the same time Colonel Bendix's regiment, and detachments of the Vermont and Massachusetts regulars at Newport, moved forward to form a junction with the regulars from Fortress Monroe at Little Bethel, about half-way between Hampton and Great Bethel. The Zouaves passed Little Bethel about 4 A.M. Colonel Bendix's regiment arrived next, and took a position at the intersection of the roads. Not understanding the signal, the German regiment, in the darkness of the morning, fired upon Colonel Townsend's colunm, marching in close order, and led by Lieutenant Butler, son and aid of General Butler, with two pieces of artillery. Other accounts say that Colonel Townsend's regiment fired first. At all events the fire of the Albany regiment was harmless, while that of the Germans was fatal, killing one man and wounding seriously two others, with several other slight casualties. The Albany regiment, being back of the Germans, discovered from the accoutrements left on the field that the supposed enemy was a friend. They had in the mean time fired nine rounds with small-arms and a field-piece.

At daybreak Colonel Allen's and Colonel Carr's regiments moved from the rear of the fortress to support the main body. The mistake at Little Bethel having been ascertained, the buildings were burned, and a Major, with two prominent secessionists, named Livery and Whiting, were made prisoners. The troops then advanced upon Great Bethel, in the following order; namely, the Zouaves, Colonel Bendix, Lieutenant-Colonel Washburne, Colonel Allen, and Colonel Carr. At that point our regiments formed, and successively endeavored to take a large masked secession battery. The effort was futile, our three small pieces of artillery not being able to cope with the heavy rifled cannon of the enemy, according to some accounts being thirty in number. The rebel battery was completely masked, so that no men could be seen, but only the flashes of the guns. There were probably less than a thousand men behind the batteries of the rebels.

A well-concerted movement might have secured the position; but Brigadier-General Pierce, who commanded the expedition, appears to have lost his presence of mind, and the Troy regiment stood for an hour exposed to a galling fire, when an order to retreat was at last given; but

at that moment Lieutenant Greble, of the United States Army, and in command of the artillery, was struck by a cannon-ball and instantly killed. He had spiked his gun, and was gallantly endeavoring to withdraw his command.

Our artist writes us as follows :

CAMP DIX, June 11, 1861.

I send you sketches and a diagram of the battle. On Sunday evening I went about three miles on foot on a scouting party. On our return we found our regiment forming into line to attack a rebel battery. I immediately started off again with them. After marching out to Hampton without supper we were halted, and received orders to return to camp, where we arrived at four o'clock A.M At six o'clock we were again called to take up the line of march. No time for breakfast. We marched through the broiling sun twelve miles to Great Bethel, where we had the fight. I went into the thickest of it. Men were cut down at my side. We lost the battle, through the mismanagement of General Pierce. We were obliged to retreat : many of our men fell off with fatigue and sunstroke. We arrived home in the evening. We had hardly got to sleep when we were again called to arms, as the enemy were moving toward our camp. I have had no sleep since Saturday night.

The rebel battery was manned by about 1500 men, with about thirty pieces of cannon, mostly rifled, and two mortars. The arms these men have are the best quality; the muskets are the rifled musket. I do not think the rebels suffered much; some, however, think they did. The correspondent of the World has collected all the particulars ; his statements will be correct. There were several correspondents here at the time. I was the only artist who went into the action, the others not crossing the Creek at Hampton.

A correspondent of the Tribune visited John Tyler's house, and describes it thus :

I visited the country-seat of John Tyler, which I found a common sort of half-Gothic affair, standing on Hampton Creek or River, distinguished for nothing particularly inviting or noteworthy except the American flag, which adorned the highest peak. It is tenantless, except when a Zouave takes lodging on one of the ex-President's comfortable lounges. There are several fine residences in the immediate neighborhood, all of which are either deserted or tenanted after the manner aforesaid.

Of the work at Newport News, shown in the picture of the Vermont Regiment's camp, he says :

The redoubt is a formidable work; stretching across the point of land which makes out and causes the bend in the river, it will afford protection to a large body of men, and would seem to contemplate an increase of the forces now here. The Vermonters, who occupy the centre, appear to have progressed furthest in their labors.

The following private letter from Comp. K, dated last week, will doubtless be read with interest:


I went out with a scouting party the other day from Camp Dix, under the command of Captain Bergh. We had forty men. We entered and searched a number of houses belonging to secessionists, captured a lot of cattle, etc. The houses are all deserted, and in most cases they have left their furniture and every thing. We get all the information we desire from the niXXers. As we approached the house of Mr. J. Watson he was engaged in tying up his chickens, but observing our approach he made off and left every thing. We gave chase, but he succeeded in making his escape by swimming Back River. We posted a guard at his house ; and the captain, lieutenant, and myself took a two-horse wagon and went further on to the house of Mr. Loppan. Coming as we did in a wagon, and without the guard, he did not observe our approach, so we took the gentleman prisoner. Here we found several horses, cattle, etc. As our men were engaged in guarding the different houses, we thought it best to send for a reinforcement. I volunteered to go for them, and had a nice little trotting horse hitched up. This is a beautiful country in time of peace, but bad in war, as it is mostly bush and woods : our road lay pretty much through the woods. This was a very dangerous errand for me. I did not seem to realize it at first ; but after thinking it over a little, I saw my chances were pretty good to fall into the hands of some of the enemy's scouts, as there are a number of them hid in the woods even within a mile of our camp. It was too late to give up, so I took a niXXer with me to show me the road back—for which little piece of service I gave him his freedom. After traveling about a mile I met two secessionists on the road, both armed—one with a sabre, and the other had an old-fashioned piece on his shoulder, the stock ornamented with brass. I did not so much fear them, as I took my pistol in hand, and would have shot the first one that attempted to move his piece. When within about two miles of camp I thought I was gone—in fact, I made up my mind to it. Two armed men, without uniforms, came out of the bushes, followed by fifteen or twenty, and ranged themselves along the road. I turned to my niXXer. Says I, "It's all over with me" The darkey, who was pale enough to pass for a white man, said, " Massa, give me the reins ; let me turn him, and dey can't catch us." It was too late for that: we were not fifteen yards from them. I drew my pistol, and rode up to them and challenged them. They belonged to the Naval Brigade, and had strayed out from camp, which they should not have done, as no one is allowed to pass the picket-guard. I returned with forty more men, and learned from the party we had left that they had seen it party of rebels drilling on the other side of Back River, about three quarters of a mile off-close enough to see their muskets and uniforms. They wore red pants; blue shirts, trimmed with red. We got information from a niXXer that there were 250 of them, with three field-pieces, in a church there, and only two hours' travel from 'Yorktown by the boat. In Yorktown there were about eight hundred rebels under arms. We returned to Watson's house and camped there, and collected our guards together. The men slept on their arms that night, as we fully expected an attack; we threw


out pickets and barricaded the house. Before doing this, however, we chased a spy out from the bushes near the house. The enemy were burning signal-lights all night, which was evident to its they were in communication with Yorktown. However, we passed the night without an attack. In the morning I returned again to camp, as I had an engagement that afternoon to go to Newport News with one of General Butler's aids. Colonel Allen sent a messenger to the scouting party to return immediately, as he considered it madness for them to stay after having aroused the country. The time passed, and they came not. Finally, a report came that some of our men had been surrounded and captured. Allen immediately ordered out two companies to go and retake them. I volunteered to conduct to the place, as I knew the road. We took up the march and arrived there in fifty-five minutes, a distance of about five miles. We found them all right, but preparing to go over and attack the rebels. Allen sent a messenger to General Butler stating the case, and asking for a field-piece. Although the messenger sent in word that he wanted to see the General on important business, he did not make his appearance until an hour and a half afterward. He said the Colonel should have it; went out of the room, and did not return for two hours ; then said he would assemble his aids. They went into session, and at two o'clock sent him back with an order for the piece. We had in the mean while returned home, as it was a bad night, raining, and Colonel Allen did not think it worth while to keep his men out in the rain any longer, supposing something had happened to our messenger. We marched ten miles that night in beating rain all the way. We brought into camp with us sixty head of cattle, one flock of sheep, pigs, horses, mules, etc.

With regard to the WHIPPING-POST, our artist writes :

This is a whipping-post on the premises of Mr. West, a wealthy man at Newport News. He is the owner of several hundred negroes, and is now at Yorktown, in the Secession Army. The negro is tied to the tree, standing on the cross-piece, his feet fitting in the two notches, No. 1; his or her breast resting against No. 2, to prevent their moving. No. 2 is bough of the tree hacked up into sharp points. The punishment is inflicted with a cowhide on the bare back. Their usual allowance is ten lashes for women and fifteen for men. I got this description from a woman on the place.


As I wandered beside the blue measureless tide, While the waters and winds were at play, A woman, forlorn, pale, weary, and worn, Arose like a ghost in my way.

Her famine-wrung sigh and her grief-dimmed eye Were heavy with moan and tear,

As I placed in her palm a drop of the balm Which the world holds so preciously dear:

And this blessing she gave as she turn'd to the wave And gazed up to the azure dome,

" May your happiness be as deep as the sea, And your heart as light as the foam."

Few words they were; but they seemed to bear A magic to cheer and to save:

A beauty was flung by that sorrowful tongue . Like a spring-flower reared on a grave.

And Time, who estranges by checkers and changes, Kind thoughts that have wish'd us good-will,

Has left warmly impress'd on my brain and my breast The words of that pale woman still.

They held Music and Feeling, whose echo-tones stealing, Yet whisper where'er I may roam,

May your happiness be as deep as the sea,

And your heart as light as the foam.



Lieutenant Greble
Bent Gun
Rifle Pit
The Privateer "Savanah"



site stats


Site Copyright 2003-2018 Son of the South. For Questions or comments about this collection,


privacy policy

Are you Scared and Confused? Read My Snake Story, a story of hope and encouragement, to help you face your fears.