The Secession of Virginia


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, May 11, 1861

This Civil War Harper's Weekly has a variety of important stories and pictures. It shows the events unfold as they happened and are reported to eye-witnesses to the events. The paper covers the Battle of Harper's Ferry, one of the early conflicts in the war. It also has important content on the Annapolis Naval Academy and scenes of the destruction of the Norfolk Navy Yard.



Colonel Ellsworth

Colonel Ellsworth

Virginia Secession

Virginia Secession

Slave and Free States

Halltown, Virginia

Halltown Virginia

Harper's Ferry

The Battle of Harper's Ferry


Annapolis Naval Academy


Annapolis Maryland

Norfolk Navy Yard

The Destruction of the Norfolk Navy-Yard


The Brooklyn Armory

New York

New York Civil War Scene

St. Louis

Saint Louis Arsenal

Harrisburg Pennsylvania

Harrisburg Pennsylvania

Steamship Boston

Steamship Boston



May 11, 1861.



it could not know that they were coming. It only knew that Virginia and Maryland swarmed with traitors. It knew that telegraphs were destroyed and bridges burned, and the chronically riotous city of Baltimore was mad with a rebellious riot. It knew and expected that at any moment a horde of rebels might descend upon it, and that their coming would not be unwelcome to many, if not a majority, of the population of the city.

It was under these circumstances that the Secretary wrote to the Governor, and spoke him fair. The position was a very hard one. It was not exactly a moment for bragging or defying. If he could have known what we know, he might not have syllabled so silvery a reply. If he had had an army of thirty thousand men about him, do you suppose he would have been so gingerly gracious? It was not a heroic reply. It was not the kind of answer that a commodore makes upon the deck of his ship, or a commander standing by his flag in extremity. Yet it does not deserve the wholesale censure and contempt which have been cast upon it. Remember that the Secretary until lately was inclined to believe and say with Bulwer's Richelieu,

"Put away the sword,

States can be saved without it."

He has now learned that these States, at least, can not be saved without it.


RETORT COURTEOUS. —A school-boy having good-natured1y helped another in a difficult ciphering lesson, was angrily questioned by the Dominie, "Why did you work his lesson ?"—"To ' lessen' his work," replied the youngster.

In the Paris Court of Correctional Police, recently, a lady, by no means young, advanced coquettishly to the witness stand to give her testimony. "What is your name?"—" Virginia Loustatot."—" What is your age ?"-"Twenty-five." (Exclamations of incredulity from the audience.) The lady's evidence being taken, she regained her place, still coquettishly bridling, and the next witness was introduced. This one was a full-grown young man. "Your name?" said the judge.—" Isadore Loustatot."—"Your age?"—" Twenty-seven years."—" Are you a relative of the last witness ?"—" I am her son."—" Ah, well!" murmured the magistrate, " your mother must have married very young."

DR. PARR AT WHIST.-Dr. Parr had a high opinion of his own skill at whist, and could not even patiently tolerate the want of it in his partner. Being engaged with a party in which he was unequally matched, he was asked by a lady how the fortune of the game turned, when he replied, " Pretty well, Madam, considering that I have three adversaries."

"Father," said a lady of the new school to her indulgent spouse, as he resumed his pipe after supper one evening, "you must buy our dear Georgiana an English grammar and spelling-book; she has gone through her French, Latin, and Greek, music, drawing, and dancing, and now she must commence her English studies."

AN ANCESTOR OF GENTLE BLOOD.—At a time when Curran was called before his college board for wearing a dirty shirt, "I pleaded," said Curran, "inability to wear a clean one, and I told them the story of poor Lord Avonmore, who was at that time the plain, untitled, struggling Barry Yelverton. ‘I wish, mother,' said Barry, ' I had eleven shirts.'—' Eleven, Barry ? why eleven?'—' Because, mother, I am of opinion that a gentleman, to be comfortable, ought to have the dozen.' Poor Barry had but one, and I made the precedent my justification."

"In what company is your life insured, Sir?" asked a sprightly young miss.

" In the Hope."

"I prefer the Alliance," said she, blushing.

"Then we'll make a joint-stock operation, if you choose," said the delighted old bachelor.

Pleasant enough was the magnanimity of the person who, being reproached with not having avenged himself for a caning, said, "Sir, I never meddle with what passes behind my back."

MUSICAL SNUFF-BOXES.—As musical snuff-boxes of Switzerland play airs that are copyright, the singular idea has been come to to prohibit them unless the author's rights are paid.

In most quarrels, there is a fault on both sides. Both flint and steel are necessary to the production of a spark; either of them may hammer on wood for ever, and no fire will follow.

A friend, in conversation with Rogers, said, "I never put my razor in hot water, as I find it injures the temper of the blade."—" No doubt of it," said the poet; "show me the blade that would not be out of temper, if plunged into hot water."

"Here, John," said a gentleman to his servant on horseback in the rear, " come forward, and just take hold of my horse while I dismount, and after I am dismounted, John, you dismount too. Then, John, ungirth the saddle of your horse and put it down; then also ungirth the saddle of my horse and put it down. Afterward, John, take up the saddle of your horse, and put and girth it on my horse. Next, John, take up the saddle of my horse, and put and girth it on your horse. Then, John, I will seat myself in your saddle, and we will resume our journey."—"Bless me, master," said the astonished servant, " why couldn't you have simply said, Let's change saddles ?"

Love's sweetest meanings unspoken. The full heart knows no rhetoric of words; it resorts to the pantomime of sighs and glances.

Joseph the Second of Austria was fond of traveling incognito, and one day he reached a little inn on his route before his retinue came up. Entering a retiring room he began shaving himself. The inquisitorial landlord was anxious to know what post his guest held about the person of the Emperor. "I shave him sometimes," was his majesty's reply.

The best government is that which teaches a man to govern himself; the next best, that which teaches him how to govern his family; the third, that which teaches him to govern a community.

When Voltaire was on his death-bed, many visitors called —all of whom were denied entrance to his chamber. Among them was the Abbe Chapeau, who came to offer the consolations of the Church. When his name was announced by the servant, Voltaire said, "I came into the world bareheaded, and I shall leave it without a chapeau !"

A Spanish proverb says : "Jews ruin themselves at their Passover, Moors at their marriages, and Christians in their lawsuits."

One day, at a farm-house, a wag saw an old gobler trying to eat the strings of some nightcaps that lay on the ground to bleach. "That," said he, "is what I call introducing cotton into Turkey."

A gentleman was threatening to beat a dog who barked intolerably. " Why," exclaimed a by-stander, "would you beat that poor dumb animal for speaking out ?"

I say, Bill," asked an insulting fellow, why is your hat like a giblet-pie ?" " Give it up." "Why, because there's a goose's head in it."

Nothing is so fragile as thought in its infancy—an interruption breaks it ; nothing is so powerful, even to the overturning of mighty empires, when it reaches maturity.

A FALSE-HOOD.—On being shown a portrait of himself, very unlike the original, Hood said that the artist had perpetrated a false-Hood.

Mr. A-, upon entering a certain book-shop, inquired
of a young man in attendance if he had " Goldsmith's Greece" to sell. "No, but we have some mighty good hair-oil," was the reply.

" Why did you retreat in the face of the enemy ?" "You see, Sir, I have got a retreating nose, and of course I have to follow it."

It is a law among the Japanese that he who lends them cash in this world will receive in the next world the capital and ten per cent. at simple interest.

When the beautiful Duchess of Devonshire, and her sister, Lady Duncannon, canvassed the electors of Westminster in behalf of Fox, in 1784, it was wittily said, " Never did two such lovely portraits appear on canvass."

Of what nation are all stocking-menders?—Darnation.



WASHINGTON is safe. Over 12,000 troops have arrived at Annapolis from the North, including the New York 6th, 7th, 12th, 13th, 25th, 28th, and 71st Regiments; and it is stated that no more volunteers will be ordered unless they are fully equipped for service. It would appear that the preparations to receive the troops at Annapolis were very imperfect, and had not the weather been very mild, they would have suffered much. As it was, a thousand of them had to sleep in the open air on Friday night, and although there is abundance of provisions the commissariat was so badly managed that some of the troops were without food for twenty-four hours.


This ordinance has been published, and reads as follows :



The people of Virginia, in their ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted by them in Convention on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, having declared that the powers granted under the said Constitution were derived from the people of the United States, and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression; and the Federal Government, having perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern Slaveholding States.

Now, therefore, we, the people of Virginia, do declare and ordain that the ordinance adopted by the people of this State in Convention, on the twenty-fifth day of June, eighty-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and all acts of the General Assembly of this State, ratifying or adopting amendments to said Constitution, are hereby repealed and abrogated; that the Union between the State of Virginia and the other States under the Constitution aforesaid, is hereby dissolved, and that the State of Virginia is in the full possession and exercise of all the rights of sovereignty which belong and appertain to a free and independent State. And they do further declare that the said Constitution of the United States of America is no longer binding on any of the citizens of this State.

This ordinance shall take effect and be an act of this day when ratified by a majority of the votes of the people of this State, cast at a poll to be taken thereon on the fourth Thursday in May next, in pursuance of a schedule to be hereafter enacted.

Done in Convention, in the city of Richmond, on the 17th day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and in the eighty-fifth year of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

JNO. L. EUBANK, Secretary of Convention.


The following ordinance has also appeared:


We, the delegates of the people of Virginia, in Convention assembled, solemnly impressed by the perils which surround the Commonwealth, and appealing to the searcher of hearts for the rectitude of our intentions in assuming the grave responsibility of this act, do, by this ordinance, adopt and ratify the Constitution of the Provisional Government of the Confederate States of America, ordained and established at Montgomery, Alabama, on the eighth day of February, eighteen hundred and sixty-one ; provided that this ordinance shall cease to have any legal operation or effect, if the people of this Commonwealth, upon the vote directed to be taken on the ordinance of secession passed by this Convention, on the 17th day of April, eighteen hundred and sixty-one, shall reject the same.   A true copy.

JNO. L. EUBANK, Secretary. A treaty, offensive and defensive, between the Confederate States has also been made and published.


The following proclamation followed the secession of Virginia :

By the President of the United States of America. Whereas, for the reasons assigned in my proclamation of the 19th instant, a blockade of the ports of the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas was ordered to be established; and whereas, since that date public property of the United States has been seized, the collection of the revenue obstructed, and duly commissioned officers of the United States, while engaged in executing the orders of their superiors, have been arrested and held in custody as prisoners, or have been impeded in the discharge of their official duties, without due legal process, by persons claiming to act under authority of the States of Virginia and North Carolina. An efficient blockade of the ports of these States will therefore also be established.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the City of Washington, this 27th day of April, in

the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-fifth.   

ABRAHAM LINCOLN. By the President.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.


That the Government is resolved to carry on the war vigorously and to the bitter end, is evident from the fact that it has just decided to receive, besides the 75,000 volunteers called for, 40,000 men to serve for three years, 25,000 for five years, and 13,000 out of the regular army to serve for five years, besides enrolling 18,000 sailors for the navy. An additional call has been made upon Pennsylvania for twenty regiments of infantry and one of cavalry, all of which have already been tendered to the Governor for the service of the United States Government.


Dispatches state that the Maryland Legislature, now in session at Frederick, decided, on 29th, not to call a convention of the people on the question of secession, by a vote of 53 yeas to 13 nays, and also resolved that the troops of the United States Government shall be permitted to pass through the State. A great change in public sentiment is reported to have occurred in Baltimore, which has been manifested by an extensive display of the Stars and Stripes in all quarters of the city.


A gentleman, who has just arrived at Philadelphia, from Wilmington, North Carolina, having left there on Friday, and who was at Richmond on Saturday, states that the people of North Carolina were all up in arms, and were preparing to come North with several thousand troops for the purpose, as Governor Ellis informed him, of making an attack upon Washington. The day that he left Governor Ellis showed him a dispatch, which he had just received from Montgomery, stating that some five thousand troops were on their way to join those of North Carolina, which were about to leave for Richmond, and that it was the purpose of the Confederate government to make an attack without a moment's delay; that if they were to attack it, it must be done before the Federal Government had concentrated a large force at Washington.


General Ransom, who has recently left North Carolina, reports that every Federal post in that State has been taken. At Fayetteville Arsenal seventy thousand stand of arms were captured, including twenty-eight thousand of the most approved pattern.


The Times says : "General Butler, by the efficient manner in which he is conducting affairs at and near Annapolis, and between that point and Washington, is fast establishing an enviable reputation for efficiency. The railroad is now fully in possession of the troops under his command and the rails will not be allowed to be removed with impunity. The Superintendent of the road was on Friday arrested for attempting it."


On Saturday night the Tenth Company of the Eighth Massachusetts regiment, in a steam-tug, cut out the receiving ship Alleghany in Baltimore harbor, and placed her under the guns of Fort M'Henry.


The Government has decided to establish an arsenal at once at Rock Island City, Illinois, in place of the Harper's Ferry Arsenal just destroyed. Rock Island City stands on the banks of the Mississippi, 182 miles southwest of Chicago. It is situated at the foot of the Upper Rapids which extend nearly fifteen miles, and in low stages of water obstruct the passage of vessels drawing a heavy draft.


At a meeting at Detroit the other day, General Cass presided, and said : " You need no one to tell you what are the dangers of your country, nor what are your duties to meet and avert them. There is but one path for every true man to travel, and that is broad and plain. It will conduct us, not, indeed, without trials and sufferings to peace and to the restoration of the Union. He who is not for his country is against her. There is no neutral position to be occupied. It is the duty of all zealously to support the government in its efforts to bring this unhappy civil war to a speedy and satisfactory conclusion, by the restoration, in its integrity, of that great charter of freedom bequeathed to us by Washington and his compatriots."


General Harney, it is reported, has been released from arrest by order of General Lee, the commander of the Virginia forces.

A proposition to act as arbitrators in the quarrel between the North and South has been made by Mr. C. J. Ingersoll, of Philadelphia, to the five ex-presidents—Buchanan, Pierce, Fillmore, Tyler, and Van Buren.


IN the House of Commons, on the 16th ult., Mr. Gregory gave notice that he should defer his proposed notion for a speedy recognition of the Southern Confederacy for two weeks.



Garibaldi had taken his seat in the Italian Parliament, and business was temporarily suspended by applause. The action of the Ministry in disbandng the Southern army and the measures taken for its reorganization were debated. Garibaldi made a speech so violent that it excited tumult in the Chamber. He made offensive allusions to the Ministry, against which Count Cavour protested. The President of the Chamber put on his hat, and sitting was suspended for a brief interval. Garibaldi, in resuming, spoke with more moderation. He defended his comrades in arms, and said the formation of three divisions of volunteers, as decreed, was not sufficient for the national armament.

General Bixio made a conciliatory speech.

Count Cavour said he accepted the mode of conciliation. Garibaldi explained the several facts alluded to by Count Cavour, and expressed his belief that Count Cavour loved Italy. He designated the French army as the enemy of Italy, because it occupied Rome.

On the 19th. Garibaldi was again received in the Chamber with loud applause.

A discussion took place on the organization of the Minlstry.


The disturbances in Russia are spreading fast. In Kiew, the capital of the district once bearing the distinctive name of the Ukraine, a funeral service was celebrated on the 14th ult. for the Warsaw victims, which led to a most serious disturbance and slaughter. A bloody conflict is stated to have taken place between the inhabitants and the Russian troops. A telegraphic dispatch states that the number of persons killed and wounded amounted to one hundred and fifty.


Particulars are published of a destructive flood which occurred on the Island of Java, between the 22d and 26th of February. Upward of 2000 people are reported as drowned and an immense amount of property destroyed.


WE continue in this number the series of illustrations of the pending War which have formed so conspicuous a feature in Harper's Weekly for some months back.

Mr. Strother has sent us some sketches of the Harper's Ferry affair. On page 292 we give a picture of the GATHERING OF THE VIRGINIANS for the attack on the Arsenal; and on the following page the APPROACH, and the BURNING OF THE WORK-SHOPS. The following account is the


Harper's Ferry, which, eighteen months ago, was the centre of public interest, has again become the scene of historic events of more immediate political importance, but fortunately not of so tragic a character as those of October, 1859.

On Thursday, the 18th instant, private orders were brought from the authorities at Richmond commanding the seizure of the arms and public works at Harper's Ferry. Immediately on receiving the notice the Jefferson Battalion assembled at Charlestown, the county seat, and marched to the appointed rendezvous at Halltown, a small village situated midway between the Court House and Harper's Ferry, and about four miles from either point. Some three thousand men had been notified of the movement; but owing to the suddenness of the summons, and doubt as to its authenticity, only two hundred and fifty were on the ground by eight o'clock in the evening. As prompt action was deemed more important than numbers, Colonel Allen, who commanded the Jefferson troops, gave the order to march as soon as it was quite dark. The Infantry moved down the road in close column, followed by one piece of artillery and a squad of the Faquier Cavalry, led by Captain Ashby, numbering about twenty horses.

The troops marched in silence, and about a mile from the starting-point the column was challenged by sentries posted in the road. They halted, loaded with ball-cartridge, and advanced with fixed bayonets until they reached the brow of the hill overlooking the town and at the outskirts of the village of Bolivar. Here the advance was again challenged, and the column halted. As these sentries were known to be employes of the armories, and as it was thought probable from the temper manifested during the day that the whole body of workmen had united with the Government troops, thus giving them four hundred effective men, with full preparation and choice of position, it was thought proper to send a flag into the town to ascertain how matters stood. An influential gentleman accompanying the troops offered his services to execute this delicate duty, and to dissuade the citizens, if possible, from taking part in the contest. From after-knowledge it was ascertained that this precaution was unnecessary, as the mass of the inhabitants were loyal to soil where they lived, and such as might have entertained different sentiments were silenced by the reports of the imposing force which was supposed to be at hand,

While the Virginia officers were in consultation there (Next Page)


AN Irishman living in Ohio once challenged a Western man to fight roosters. The birds were brought out, and Pat's was pretty soon knocked off his pins. The Irishman concluded that his rooster's unsteadiness on his legs arose from the narrowness of his feet; and purchasing a duck, with webbed feet, challenged the Western man again. Again the Buckeye fowl won the day, and with ease. Pat then said he had a bird at home that would beat the Western game-sock, and offered to double the bets, provided the birds were not allowed to see each other till the fight began. The money put up, on the day fixed our friend Buckeye produced his rooster in splendid fighting condition. Pat brought out an old heavy chicken-owl, who was of course blinded by the light, and stood winking and stupidly twisting his head. The game-cock instantly flew at him, and drew blood. The owl winked, and looked stupider than ever. Again the rooster clashed in, and made a furrow in the owl's cheek. Again the owl winked, and twisted his neck about, apparently trying to understand the matter. A third time the game-cock flew at him, and slashed vigorously with beak and spur. Just at that moment the owl happening to get the corner of one eye open enough to see his little antagonist, he grinned, stretched forth one claw, caught the game-cock by the neck, and ate him up on the spot.

Cock and Owl Fable



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