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Civil War Harper's Weekly, May 25, 1861

This edition of Harper's Weekly featured a number of popular images. The issue includes a dramatic picture of the Fire at Willard's Hotel in Washington. The issue also contains news of the opening days of the Civil War. There is a nice picture of loading ships in preparation for war.

(Newspaper Thumbnails will take you to the page of interest. Scroll Down to See Full Page)


Fire Zouaves

The Fire Zouaves

Warning to South

Jeff Davis Cartoon

The Occupation of Baltimore

Civil War Parade

Treasury Building

Troops at the US Treasury Building


Dubuque Iowa

Camp Cameron

Camp Cameron, Georgetown


Loading a Civil War Ship


The Highlanders

Pennsylvania Soldiers

Pennsylvania Soldiers

Steam Gun

Winans Steam Gun

Troops in Capitol

Civil War Troops Housed in Congress

Map Civil War

Civil War Map





[MAY 25, 1861



" The Union is not dead but sleeping."

(Motto on a New York banner.)

The Union is not dead ! Her glorious flag Is too near Heaven to cower in the dust; Only to watchers seems the time to lag, And we are watching o'er a sacred trust. Our country's dead are looking to us now, And all earth's nations, leaning breathlessly, Are witnesses around us, as we vow To save our Union and our liberty.

She is not dead, but sleeping for a while,

Till this dark night of wickedness shall break; When the sun's warm, bright beams once more shall shine Upon us, she shall joyously awake.

Crowned with the Stars that follow in her train—Bearing the Stripes aloft against her foes; Proclaiming peace unto our land again—Blessed by unnumbered hearts as on she goes! Till then around her couch our watch we'll keep,

And guard her in her sleep.

She sleeps, Earth trembles, men recoil in doubt; Murmurs of distant voices fill the air; And from our city bursts a sterner shout

" Ho, brothers, to the ranks! our flag is there !" Now swell your bosoms with a holy thrill; One moment to Jehovah bend the knee; Then up and onward, with undaunted will! Go, stake your lives for truth and victory! This is no time for us to wail and weep

"Our Union is asleep!"

Nay! Rather go and wake her from her sleep! Bring back each star by traitor bands disgraced—Each soldier's arm to grasp the sabre leap,

Till every traitor's footstep is effaced !

Then shall the Union rise in treason's wane, And never sleep again!

S. J. A.


SATURDAY, MAY 25, 1861.

WE have received a number of letters from Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, and other Southern States, complaining bitterly of the tone of an editorial article published in Harper's Weekly on May 4. Some of these letters are from friends, and appeal to the Christian feelings and kindly disposition of the publishers. Others are from strangers ; and of these some are simply abusive, while others threaten the proprietors of this journal with assassination if Harper's Weekly perseveres in opposing the destruction of the American Union.

The point which exercises these several classes of correspondents is the statement in our editorial of March 4, to the effect that civil war between the Free States on one side and the Slave States on the other will inevitably sooner or later become a war of emancipation, and that the Free States, when Northern blood begins to flow, will not fail to turn to account the chief element of weakness in the enemy.

For saying this we are accused by old friends and valued correspondents of seeking to stir up slave insurrections, and thirsting for the slaughter of children and the violation of women!

We have laid ourselves open to no such charge. No United States army will abet such slave insurrections as may endanger the safety of the defenseless portion of the Southern people. Wherever women or children are assailed, United States troops will be the first to protect them. For ourselves, we scorn to defend ourselves against a charge so monstrously untrue, so basely unjust, and so malignantly false.

At the same time, we should fail in our duty to our Southern friends if we neglected to warn them that the first great battle in which Northern blood is shed can not but hasten the destruction of the slave institution in the States where United States troops are quartered. In saying this, we express no opinion and no desire. We merely record an obvious fact. We begin the war with solicitous tenderness for the peculiar institution. Colonel Dimick, at Fort Monroe, returns fugitive slaves ; General Butler, at Annapolis, offers the services of the Massachusetts volunteers to suppress slave insurrections ; a volunteer company in Indiana tenders its aid for a like service in Kentucky. But our Southern friends must be very blind indeed, and very ignorant of the impulses which sway human nature, if they suppose that when, in the progress of their attempt to destroy our Government, they begin to cut the throats of our brothers and our brave boys, we shall be so complaisant as this. We should be rendering them a very poor service if we allowed them to harbor such a delusion without endeavoring to dispel it. It is better that they should understand the case clearly from the start. The United States, as a nation, have no concern with slavery. But from the hour that rebels shed the blood of citizens of the United States, war will be waged upon them by the most crushing and overwhelming methods ; and among those methods the liberation of the slaves will naturally occur.

We say this, not in passion or from feeling, but simply as the calm statement of a fact as obvious as any in fixed science. Actual war between Slave and Free States ultimately involves abolition. 'Tis for the Border States to reject or accept the issue.

Some of our Southern friends accompany their abuse of this journal with a notice to the publishers to send it no more to their address.

In Tennessee Vigilance Committees forbid its being sold. In Louisiana the Governor prohibits its distribution through the Post-office.

This is a matter which concerns our Southern subscribers exclusively. It is of very small consequence to us. If the people of the South don't think they get the worth of their money when they buy Harper's Weekly, they would exhibit great folly in purchasing it. If they do, to proscribe Harper's Weekly is their loss. We do not propose, in publishing this journal, to stand indebted to any man's good-will for its success. We calculate to produce such a paper that it shall be every man's interest to buy it. If we fulfill our aim, our Southern friends merely cut off their own noses when they stop our circulation among them. It is purely their affair. If they think they can do without an illustrated record of the war we will not object. We have work enough to supply the Northern demand for Harper's Weekly.

But we will take this opportunity of reminding those among our Southern friends who still retain capacity for calm reflection, that the ostrich has never been deemed a sagacious bird because, on the approach of danger, it buries its head in a hole so as not to see its surroundings. The proscription of books and periodicals containing doctrines hostile to those of the Southern aristocracy has been carried to a fatal length at the South. The Southern people have been kept in a state of gross ignorance by their leaders. They have only been permitted to see one side of the paramount question of the day. And the consequence is, that they have been precipitated into a causeless, wanton rebellion which must inflict immeasurable injury upon them and their best interests. If the Southern people had adhered to the maxim of one of the greatest of Southern statesmen, THOMAS JEFFERSON, and had steadfastly acted upon the great truth that " Error is harmless when truth is left free to combat it," we should not now have witnessed the most audacious and most monstrous rebellion of modern times, and the fairest portions of our country would not now have been threatened with ruin and desolation.

As for Harper's Weekly, it will continue, as heretofore, to support the Government of the United States, the Stars and Stripes, and the indivisible union of thirty-four States. We know no other course consistent with the duty of citizens, Christians, and honest men. If any subscriber to this journal expects us to give our aid or countenance to rebellion against the Government, he will be disappointed. If any man buys this journal expecting to find us apologize for treason, robbery, rebellion, piracy, or murder, he will be disappointed. That is not our line of business. The proprietors of Harper's Weekly would rather stop this journal tomorrow than publish a line in it which would hereafter cause their children to blush for the patriotism or the manhood of their parents.


OUR daily contemporaries, in discussing the principle of international law comprehended in the issue of letters of marque by Jefferson Davis, have overlooked a very important Federal precedent. In 1818 Elias Glenn, United States District-Attorney at Baltimore, applied to the Hon. Wm. Wirt, Attorney-General, for instructions respecting the Fourth-of-July—a privateer under that name from La Plata, and taken with a letter of marque from Artigas, an insurgent chief holding South American territory claimed by Portugal. The Attorney-General thus curtly advised the Baltimore official : " I would indict the captain and crew as pirates, under the original Act of Congress which defines piracy. The prisoners will defend themselves under the commission of Artigas. I would object to that commission going before the jury as evidence, on the ground that it is not the commission of a sovereign recognized by our Government."

The same principle and advice will undoubtedly be applied by every nation in whose ports the Davis pirates may be found or by whose cruisers they may be captured. We recommend to the perusal of Judah P. Benjamin, Esq., Attorney-General of the Southern Confederacy, the entire letter of Mr. Wirt, in the

Official Opinions," volume first, and pages 249-253.



THE following extraordinary historical parallel is furnished to the Lounger by a most competent hand:

" The history of the attempt at secession in Switzerland, which was terminated by what is known as the Sonderbund war in 1847, as detailed by Zschokke, is remarkable and instructive in itself, and is now rendered still more so by the wonderful resemblance of the action of the rulers of our own seven rebellious States with that of the leaders of the seven dissatisfied Cantons.

" That attempt had its origin in the desire of the Catholic Cantons to recover the supremacy they had lost in consequence of the increase of population and wealth in the other Cantons, and the general diffusion of education and intelligence consequent upon the spread of Protestantism. The struggle had the appearance of relating solely to the Catholic faith, but it was really political. The policy of the reactionists was dictated by Rome, while they were encouraged by promises of assistance from France and Austria.

" The organized factious opposition to the governments of some of the liberal Cantons had become so serious that the people of those Cantons, to prevent anarchy and bloodshed, determined to secularize the convents, which were the headquarters of the opposition and the fomenters of disturbance.

"This was done, with all due regard to the interests of those concerned, and at once an outcry was raised that the Constitution, which guaranteed the existence of those convents, had been infringed. The absolute necessity of the act, to prevent anarchy and civil war, was clearly demonstrated, but the Catholics would not be appeased.

" Insurrections took place in several Cantons: in some the reactionary party was triumphant, and party hate raged throughout the land. Zschokke says : ' The whole country was divided into two vast camps. On one side floated the holy banner of religion, calling for a restoration of the institutions of the good old time ; on the other, men stood in defense of acquired popular rights, and desired a new and stronger bond of confederation.'

" At last, as a measure of conciliation, some of the suppressed convents were restored by the Cantons which had secularized them; and the Diet—in which each Canton, without regard to population, has an equal vote—decreed, by a small majority, that this was a sufficient peace-offering, and must be accepted as such.

' The Catholic Cantons demanded the restoration of all the convents, and refused to accept any compromise as a settlement. Their leaders prepared for armed resistance to the Federal Government without consulting the people. Their action was thus a violation of their own Cantonal Constitutions, as well as a rebellion against the Federal compact, though under pretext of wishing to preserve it from infringement. This was in September, 1843.

" Their plans remained secret for a long time. In the mean while they strengthened their forces; the Jesuits, who had been expelled from Switzerland, were invited into some of the Catholic Cantons to take charge of the schools ; and rigorous measures were adopted to put down the liberals. In various sanguinary conflicts which took place in the Catholic Cantons the reactionists were generally successful; and the Federal Diet, in which the representatives of the refractory Cantons retained their seats, was divided, and powerless to quell the disturbances. In those Cantons, after a while, speech and the press were no longer free; liberal citizens were persecuted and driven away, their property was confiscated. The reign of terror, under the forms of government, prevailed within their boundaries.

"Exasperated by such tyrannical proceedings, the refugees and their friends, without the sanction of the governments of the liberal Cantons, organized free corps in order to remedy the evil by force of arms. Several attempts of this nature were defeated with great loss of life, and those of the free corps who fell into the hands of the reactionists, were kept in loathsome prisons until ransomed by their friends or the governments of their respective Cantons.

" The leaders of the seven Cantons, emboldened by these successes and still further encouraged by promises of aid from abroad, now boldly proclaimed the formation of an offensive and defensive alliance in the shape of a Sonderbund or separate league, and no longer concealed their intentions. A committee of war was established, stores of arms and munitions were collected in great quantities, the work on their border and interior fortifications was pressed day and night, their active militia was exercised incessantly, all men capable of bearing arms were disciplined, and efficient officers appointed to command. They prepared for open rebellion. The liberal governments of the other Cantons were to be deposed by force, and the recently adopted constitutions annulled. A partition of the territory of some of those Cantons was agreed upon. Jesuitism, every where predominant, was to give laws to all Switzerland. The conspirators hardly entertained a doubt of their success. They reckoned upon division and consequent impotency among the other Cantons, while they confidently relied on the invincibility of their own people, united by identical fanaticism.

" In July, 1847, the Diet assembled, and a bare majority, impressed with the imminence of the danger, rallied to the support of the Federal compact. In vain did the deputies of the Sonderbund Cantons oppose them ; in vain did the representatives of other Cantons, who professed to be neutral, propose mediation. Finally, a decree was passed for the dissolution of the Sonderbund; the seizure of all arms intended for the rebellious Cantons was ordered, and they were commanded to cease their warlike preparations ; the names of all Federal staff officers who remained in the service of the Sonderbund were struck from the army list ; the Jesuit Cantons were requested to dismiss all members of that order, and its further admittance into Switzerland was prohibited. This was in September. The Diet then adjourned for six weeks to await the execution of their decrees, and to take the sense of the people.

"But the warlike preparations were still continued, and such citizens of the rebellious Cantons as yet remained faithful to the Federal compact were driven from their homes by renewed persecutions. The question was put to the people of Switzerland in their primary assemblies, and by their votes a legal majority of the Cantons decided that the decrees of the Diet should be carried into effect, by force if necessary.

" On the 18th October, the Diet reassembled. Still desirous to conciliate, they sent some of their own members as messengers of peace to the rulers of the seven Cantons, and addressed a proclamation to the people of those Cantons, solemnly assuring

them that the rights and liberties inherited from their fathers should remain unaltered—that their religion should not be interfered with—that no oppression was intended, no nullifying of Cantonal sovereignty, no forced change in the Confederate compact—but that the existence of a separate league, endangering the welfare of the whole, could never be allowed, and they appealed to them to dissolve it while there was yet time.

" Their messages of peace were rejected with scorn, and the circulation of their proclamation was prohibited by the rulers of the Sonderbund.

"Then the Diet proceeded to serious measures. There were no Federal troops. They called upon the loyal Cantons for 50,000 men, and appointed grayhaired Dufour, of Geneva, commander-in-chief. The deputies of the seven Cantons left the Diet, appealing to God, and casting upon their opponents all responsibility for future events. But the majority remained firm. On the 4th of November they decreed the dissolution of the Sonderbund by force of arms, and issued a proclamation to that effect. Two of the Cantons, not included in the Sonderbund, voted to remain neutral, and refused to furnish their contingent, but favored the rebels by permitting the transport of arms. Still, 90,000 men responded to the call of the Diet ; for the people generally felt that their liberties were at stake, and though it was a bitter thing to march against their Confederate brothers, they determined to do their duty and fight for their fatherland.

" Before the Federal forces were arrayed the rebels took the initiative, and gained some advantages. Dufour delayed the onset for a while. Disposed to act with extreme forbearance, he preferred to conquer by the display of an overwhelming force rather than by bloody violence. When fully prepared, he surrounded the principal Cantons of the Sonderbund with an immense chain of troops, closing every exit, and then marched upon Freiburg, one of the rebellious Cantons which was geographically separated from the others. On the 14th November Freiburg, disappointed in her expectations of assistance, capitulated, the rebel rulers and the Jesuits fled, a new government was instituted, and separation from the Sonderbund decreed. The Federal army then entered the territories of the other Sonderbund Cantons, and Zug, seeing herself threatened, withdrew from the league, giving a peaceful passage to the troops. On the 20th November a decisive battle took place in the territory of Lucerne, where the Sonderbund army was entrenched. The rebels were defeated, and the leaders of the Sonderbund fled by water, taking with them all the treasure they could collect. The authorities of the city of Lucerne tried to negotiate, but were compelled to surrender at discretion. The Federal troops entered as victors, and were welcomed as brothers ; all the buildings were decorated with Federal flags, and acclamations of joy filled the air. Soon the smaller Cantons also capitulated, and by the 29th of November the contest was completely concluded by the submission of all the refractory Cantons. The Federal action had been so prompt that foreign powers had no time to interfere.

"Then came the reaction and the suffering. The Diet demanded from the Sonderbund Cantons the repayment of the expenses of the war, and the armed occupation of those Cantons by the Federal troops was continued until the first installment had been paid and security given for the others. Those Cantons which had refused to perform their duty as confederates were saved from similar occupation only by the payment of a heavy fine into the Federal treasury. In all those Cantons a violent reaction took place; legal proceedings were instituted against those who had been members of the rebel governments, and others who had promoted the war. They were all made to contribute largely—in some cases their estates were confiscated, and in some of the Catholic Cantons the convents were secularized by the vote of the people, and their property seized to defray the expenses incurred; but no blood flowed except in battle. The Diet, moved by the poverty of the people, afterward remitted the last installments of the war-debt.

" Thus, in the course of surprisingly few days, the Sonderbund came to an end, but the rebellious Cantons long suffered the ruinous consequences of their folly.

"May our Southern brothers take warning, and dissolve their separate league while there is yet time !"


THE latest and concluding volume of Macaulay's History, which has been published under the supervision of his sister from his revised manuscripts, opens with a debate which is peculiarly interesting to us at this moment—the debate upon a standing army. Our own Constitution is nervously jealous of military power. It is so framed as to bind the President's hands. The great fear of its makers evidently was, that the head of the state might become a military despot, and that must be avoided at any cost. They felt that the reliance of the Government to repress insurrection must be not upon a regular army, but upon the State militia ; in other words, upon the people themselves in their military capacity.

But unluckily the very name militia is partly ridiculous. Not justly so, for our own history has shown what militia can do. Indeed our Revolution was the triumph of militia over a regular army. Yet the value of strict discipline is so great that, unless the militia are truly military, it will be long before they can be of real service.

Macaulay relates with picturesque vigor the substance of the debate in the English Parliament of 1697, after the peaceful acknowledgment of William Third, drawing very effective portraits of the disputants, of whom Lord Somers was chief. And the historian evidently thinks that Somers had the best of the argument. The advocates of disbanding the army, he says, laid it down as a fundamental principle of political science that a standing army and a free constitution could not exist together."  (Next Page)

Civil War Harper's Weekly, October 5, 1861

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