McClellan Takes Command


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, November 16, 1861

This site features online, readable versions of the Harper's Weekly newspaper published during the Civil War. These issues are full of incredible Civil War content, including stunning wood cut images and stories written by eye-witnesses to the historic events of the war. Reading these original newspapers yields insight into the war that simply can not be obtained in any other way.

(Scroll Down to see entire page, or Newspaper Thumbnails will take you to the page of interest.)


Lincoln and Scott

Abraham Lincoln and Winfield Scott

Scott's Resignation

General Scott's Resignation

McClellan Takes Command of Union Army

McClellan Takes Command of Union Army

Sherman on the Wabash

General Sherman on the Wabash

Civil War Scouts

Scouting Party


War in Southwestern Missouri

Slave Hunters

Slave Hunters

Cotton Planter

Cotton Planter Cartoon

Union Navy

The Union Navy

Battle of Springfield

Battle of Springfield Missouri

Siegel Crossing the Osage

General Siegel Crossing the Osage River

Army Beef

Army Beef on the Long Bridge



NOVEMBER 16, 1861.]



(Previous Page) the country, " Here is a hymn which we think ought to be the national hymn." But suppose that the country had not thought so ! The sole satisfied person would then have been the one who received the cash premium.

It should be said also, in regard to the book which Mr. White has prepared, that the Committee expressly reserved the right to publish the songs which seemed to them really good, even if not entirely suitable for the purpose, in case there were no objection upon the part of the authors. They expressly did not bind themselves to give any prize ; nor to give a prize to the best offered; nor to refrain from publication of such as should be selected. If any author sent a hymn for competition without first consulting the conditions, it was certainly not the fault of the Committee.

The book vindicates the final action of the Committee. Whatever may be the merit of the specimens published, it is evident that none of than are likely to be taken by the popular heart as the song of the nation. That such will come is possible. That it will not be an answer to any other advertisement than the standing advertisement which consists of the natural desire and love of good poetry and stirring song is probable. That some chance-born melody, like Dixie or Yankee Doodle, may be whistled, and sung, and tooted, and ground all over the land, until it is in a manner national, is a fact of experience. And when we have had for a long time an organized army ; when the spirit of the country is as military as for many years it is likely to be, then the " tune" which is most popular, and which is universally played by all its bands, at all its posts, and along all its lines, and which is associated with some act of heroic daring and triumph, will doubtless become the melody of a national hymn.


ONE of the most striking passages in Mr. White's book upon National Hymns is that in which he speaks briefly of the personification of the British genius in John Bull. Mr. White finds that this type came in with the Revolution of '88. John Bull was neither the gentleman of the Tudors nor the Cavalier of the Stuarts; but he dates from the Georges and the Hanoverian succession. He is the representative rural Englishman, the prize farmer, and country squire. He typifies profound selfishness, slow wit, inveterate prejudice, insular jealousy, and the vulgarity of wealth.

The vein which Mr. White opens is certainly worth working. It would be a curious national "study for the times" to see how justly John Bull typifies the average British character. A waggish friend of Mr. White's—if the author be not himself the wag—sends him this parody, which is a palpable hit:

"God save me, great John Bull ! Long keep my pockets full!

God save John Bull! Ever victorious,

Haughty, vainglorious, Snobbish, censorious,

God save John Bull!

"O Lords, our Gods, arise!
'Tax' all our enemies!

Make tariffs fall! Confound French politics, Frustrate all Russian tricks, Get Yankees in a 'fix,'

God 'bless' them all!

[Sinistra mame.]

"Thy choicest gifts in store, On me, me only, pour, Me, great John Bull! Maintain oppressive laws,

Frown down the poor man's cause,

So sing with heart and voice, I, great John Bull!"


A LATE article of the Lounger's confounded the astronomer Sontag, who died upon the Haves' expedition, with Sontag the painter. The following note is front " a friend of the deceased Dr. August Sontag:" "You mistake the person who died at Port Foulke for the artist and landscape painter Sontag. August Sontag, a native of Altona, Germany ,was an astronemer and naturalist. He obtained at an early age the academical honor of a Doctor Philosophiae. The desire to enlarge his knowledge bro't him over to this country shortly before the Mexican war, during which he was attached to the corps of topographical engineers. He was an active and valuable member of the first Grinnell expedition in search of Captain John Franklin; joined afterward the expedition of the lamented Dr. Elisha K. Kane ; went the year after his return with the Baron de Mueller to explore Yucatan and the great volcanic mountain chain of Mexico, and obtained, finally, a situation In the Dudley Observatory, whence he again connected himself with the expedition under Dr. Hayes.- He was not much of an artist and draughtsman, and you would in vain

expect sketches from him. Sontag the artist and landscape painter is still alive, and not a thousand miles from New York."


A YOUTHFUL INDISCRETION.-What is the difference between spermaceti and a school-boy's howl ?—One is the wax produced by the whale, and the other is the wail produced by the whacks.

SOLUTION OF A CHESS PROBLEM.—Those who watched the great chess match between Mr. Paulsen and his ten opponents at the Cigar Divan have particularly admired the coolness with which the German played his game. Very proper, too, for we all know how dangerous it is to receive a check during a perspiration.

PRIZE CONUNDRUM (from Hanwell).—Why is a man unable to walk because his leg is broken like a door that won't open or shut easily?—Because both cases are the result of a hinge awry.

ENCUMBERED ESTATES BILL.—What circumstance will always prevent an Englishman from becoming an Irish landed proprietor?—Because when he goes there to buy land he can only go to 'Ireland.

A NEW EMPLOYMENT.—Mr. Brown met an acquaintance the other day, who was stretching it along at an awful pace, as if he had the business of a nation depending upon his rapid haste. "You appear to be in a hurry," said Brown; "what business presses?" "Oh, ah, how are you?" said his friend, "I've a deal of matters to look after. I'm in the employ of Leggett, Walker, and Doolittle, an important firm! they employ no less than a thousand clerks just at this time." "What is your department?" " Measuring curb-stones for the corporation." The fact is, Brown's friend was a walking gentleman out of employment.

Bill Smith, "a character" in more ways than one, and especially noted for his flights of eloquence, spoke as follows upon the question: Which is man's greatest safe-guard, the dog or the gun? Bill espoused the cause of the dog; and after pronouncing an affecting eulogy upon that noble animal, he demolished his adversaries, and "brought down the house," by the following brilliant passage:

"Soposin' for a momentary moment that you was a traveling: and suppose, Sir, that night was to overtake you, and you should have to encamp out in some dark, howling wilderness! and in the black midnight, when you laid fast asleep in the arms of Metamorpheus a b'ar, painter, or some other venonous insect, was to spring upon you, what good would your gun do you then? But your dog would have said to you by his forewarning lamentations, Take keer ! look out! he's a coming!' " Decision in favor of the "Dog watch!"

THE WIDE-AWAKE PRINCE.—"The Doctor," a famous jockey, who had the contract to furnish thirty horses for time suite of the Prince of Wales throughout the tour, at eight dollars each per day, drove Prince Alfred to the Falls of Montmorenci. " The Doctor" remarked to Alfred, "I drove the Prince of Wales here." "Did you?" said the Prince. '' Yes, and his Royal Highness gave me this gold watch " "You are a lucky fellow," replied Prince Alfred; "that is more than he ever did for me." "The Doctor" subsided.

A HEROIC LASS.—A young woman had laid a wager she would descend into a vault in the middle of the night, and bring from thence a skull. The person who took the wager had previously hid himself in the vault, and as the girl seized the skull, cried, in a hollow voice,

"Leave me my head!"

" There it is," said the girl, throwing it down and catching up another.

"Leave me my head!" said the same voice.

"Nay, nay," said the heroic lass, "you can not have two heads;" so brought the skull and won the wager.

As Charles II. was dining in state, he made the celebrated and witty Grammont the remark that he was served upon the knee, a token of respect not common at other courts. "I thank your Majesty for the explanation," answered Grammont; "I thought they were begging pardon for giving you so bad a dinner."

Jones has discovered the respective natures of a distinction and a difference. He says that "a little difference" frequently makes many enemies, while "a little distinction" attracts hosts of friends to the one on whom it is conferred.

A SAILOR'S NOTION. —A sailor who had been for several years on a foreign station, and had hardly ever been on shore, asked to have a trip by land, and proceeded to Alverstroke, where, for the first time, he witnessed a funeral. When he returned on board at night he could talk of nothing but what he had seen in the church-yard. "Why, what d'ye think they does with the dead corpses ashore?" said he to a shipmate. "How should I know?" said the other. "Why then, Bill, may I never stir," replied Jack, "but they puts 'em up in boxes and directs 'em."

Dr. Johnson once dined with a Scottish lady who had hotch-potch for dinner. After the Doctor had tasted it she asked him if it was good. "It is good for hogs, ma'am," said the Doctor. "Then pray," said the lady, "let me help you to some more."

SEEDY INDIVIDUAL. "I tell you what, Mrs. Indigo, I can't pay your bill; but I'll marry your daughter and set up a school."

MOTHER. "No, indeed!"

SEEDY INDIVIDUAL. " Well, then, give me a receipt and I'll marry you, and set up a wholesale laundry."


Before a circle let appear

Twice twenty-five and five in rear,

One-fifth of eight join, if you can,

And then you'll form what conquers man.


We are little airy creatures,

All of different voice and features;

One of us in glass is set,

Another you will find in jet,

Another you will see in tin,

And a fourth a box within;

But if the last you do pursue,

It will never fly from you.

The vowels.

Why is a waiter like a race-horse?

Because he often runs for a plate.

What proof have we that King Charles wished to be beheaded?

Because they axed (asked) him whether he would or no. Why is a conceited woman like a singing-book? Because she is full of airs.

Why is a dandy like a haunch of venison?

Because he's a bit of a buck.

When is a bank-note like wrought-iron?

When it is forged.


ANOTHER VICTORY IN WESTERN VIRGINIA. THERE has been a battle between Floyd and the forces of General Rosecrans on the Gauley River; but the accounts thus far received are so meagre that it is quite uncertain what has really been done. We have intelligence sufficiently accurate, however, to show that the National arms are still successful, and to lead no to hope that the rebel and traitor Floyd is fairly entrapped.

It appears that, on Friday, Floyd opened fire from two points opposite Gauley Bridge, and succeeded in sinking a ferry-boat, which, however, was raised again during the same night. No one was killed on our side during his fire, which was somewhat heavy, though badly directed, and few were wounded. He had cut a road around a hill where Rosecrans was encamped; the latter, returning his fire, soon silenced two of his batteries, and was at the latest accounts about sending a force to attack him in the rear, so that it was expected that he would be entirely surrounded in a very short time.

On Saturday there was no fighting; at that time the position of the forces on both sides was as follows : The rebels had possession of the west bank of New River; General Schenck's brigade was a few miles above the junction of the Gauley and New rivers; General Cox's brigade and General Rosecrans were near the junction, between the rivers and General Benham was below the junction. It was believed by some that Generals Schenck and Benham would cross the river above and below Floyd, who has 7000 men, and that they would catch him. We look with interest for further intelligence.


Major-General McClellan has issued the following order :


WASHINGTON, November 1, 1861. GENERAL ORDER, No. 19.—In accordance with General Order No. 94 from the War Department, I hereby assume command of the armies of the United States.

In the midst of the difficulties which encompass and divide the nation, hesitation and self-distrust may well accompany the assumption of so vast a responsibility; but, confiding as I do in the loyalty, discipline, and courage of our troops, and believing, as I do, that Providence will favor ours as the just cause, I can not doubt that success will crown our efforts and sacrifices.

The army will unite with me in the feeling of regret that the weight of many years and the effect of Increasing infirmities, contracted and intensified in his country's service, should just now remove from our head the great soldier of our nation; the hero who, in his youth, raised high the reputation of his country in the fields of Canada, which he sanctified with his blood; who in more mature years proved to the world that American skill and valor could repeat, if not eclipse, the exploits of Cortez in the land of the Montezumas; whose whole life has been devoted to the service of his country; whose efforts have been directed to uphold our honer at the smallest sacrifice of life; a warrior who scorned the selfish glories of the battle-field when his great qualities as a statesman could be employed more profitably for his country; a citizen whom his declining years has given to the world the most shining instance of loyalty, in disregarding all ties of birth, and clinging still to the cause of truth and honor. Such has been the career and character of Winfield Scott, whom it has long been the delight of the nation to honor, both as a man and a soldier. While we regret his loss, there is one thing we can not regret—the bright example he has left for our emulation. Let us all hope and pray that his declining yearn may be passed in peace and happiness, and that they may be cheered by the success of the country and the cause he has fought for and loved so well. Beyond all that, let us do nothing that can cause him to blush for us; let no defeat of the army he has so long commanded imbitter his last years, but let our victories illuminate the close of a life so grand.

Major-General Commanding U S. A.

GEN SCOTT'S DEPARTURE FROM WASHINGTON. General Scott left Washington on Saturday afternoon, and reached Harrisburgh at 10 o'clock, on his way to this city, where he arrived during the night. Notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather, a large crowd gathered in Harrisburgh to greet the veteran.


The following is the speech of Major-General McClellan on the presentation of a sword by the Committee of the City Councils of Philadelphia:

"I ask you, Sir, to give my warmest and deep thanks to the honorable body you represent for this entirely unmerited compliment. I could thank you better if I thought that I deserved it, but I do not feel that I do. Nothing that I have yet accomplished would warrant this high compliment. It is for the future to determine whether I shall realize the expectations and hopes that have been centred in me. I trust and feel that the day is not far distant when I shall return to the place dearest of all others to me, there to spend the balance of my life among the people from whom I have received this beautiful gift. The war can not be long. It may be desperate. I ask in the future forbearance, patience, and confidence. With these we can accomplish all; and while I know that, in the great drama which may have our hearts'-blood, Pennsylvania will not play the least, I trust that, on the other hand, she will play the highest and noblest part.

"I again thank you, and again ask you to convey to the Councils my most sincere thanks for the sword. Say to them that it will be my ambition to deserve it hereafter. I know I do not now.


The Washington correspondents all state positively that the order, transferring the command of the Western Military Department from General Fremont to General Hunter, has been sent to the former, and has probably reached him. The order is stated to be absolute and unconditional, and based upon a thorough conviction of Fremont's incapacity as a General, and of his profligacy in the expenditure of the public money.


Intelligence was received at Washington on 1st from a fugitive that the rebels had erected strong fortifications at

Centreville, and that their camps, numbering 50,000 men, extended from Manassas to within two miles of Fairfax Court House, having 10,000 at Manassas.


The advance of the grand army of the West still continues in the direction of Arkansas. General Fremont's head-quarters on the 28th ult. was located at Camp Lyon, Springfield, several portions of his command having arrived there safely on the previous day. There were no professed rebels in the neighborhood—at least none were found. The Stars and Stripes once more waved over the town, and the troops were enthusiastically received by the inhabitants. On 29th the advance was at Ozark.


Our batteries on the Potomac are going on rapidly to completion. On 4th the guns of one of them were tried on the rebel steamer George Page, with what result it could not be ascertained. The Resoute, arriving at Washington on 4th, reports that seven of our soldiers have been wounded by the shot and shells from the batteries at Shipping Point.


Monday, the 21st of October, will be noted in the history of the present rebellion as an eventful day. While our brave troops were being slaughtered at Ball's Bluff, in Virginia, the rebel General Zollicoffer, with six thousand Tennessee secessionists at his back, made three separate attacks on Camp Wildcat, in Kentucky, and each time was driven back by General Garrard, with twelve hundred Union men. On that day, also, two thousand five hundred Union troops, under command of Colonel Plummer, encountered a body of rebels estimated at five thousand, commanded by Generals Thompson and Lowe, at Fredericktown, Missouri, and completely routed them.


The trial of the captain and crew of the little privateer Savannah for piracy was concluded last week, the result being that the jury, after a consultation of twenty hours, could not agree upon a verdict, four members out of the twelve being in favor of an acquittal, the remainder considering the prisoners guilty on some of the counts only.


The Government, in accordance with its determination to proceed to the confiscation of private properly belonging to secessionists, has instituted an action in the case of William Shields, formerly of Washington, but who, some months ago, removed with his family to Richmond, where he has been residing ever since, and engaged in the great rebellion against the authority of the Government. The Marshal of the District of Columbia. has been ordered to attach the real and personal property of the said Shields, and has notified all persons claiming the same, or knowing any thing about it, to appear and show cause why the same should not be confiscated. It is understood that this is to be a test case.


General Dix, commanding the military district of Baltimore, has issued a proclamation, calling upon the marshals to arrest all parties offering themselves at the polls who have been participants, directly or indirectly, in the rebellion against the Government, many of whom, he understands, intend to use their influence at the coming election for the purpose of furthering the interests of the rebels.


Messrs. Mason and Slidell, the Ministers of the rebel Government to France and England, received a very warm reception in Cuba. It is said that the British Consul at Havana waited on them in full uniform, and presented them to the Captain-General. The Theodora, which took them to Cardenas, is reported to have sailed again for Charleston with a cargo of coffee, arms, and provisions, together with about twenty passengers. Messrs. Mason and Slidell were about to take passage for Europe in the British mail steamer of the 6th of November.


John C. Breckinridge has published a Manifesto to the People of Kentucky. It is dated at Bowling Green, and he says it is written at the first moment since his expulsion from home that he could place his feet on the soil of Kentucky. In it he resigns his seat as a member of the Senate of the United States, saying, "I exchange, with proud satisfaction, a term of six years, in the United States Senate for the musket of a soldier." The address is very long, and is made up of sophisms and misrepresentations. He says "there is no longer a Senate of the United States within the meaning and spirit of the Constitution"—"the United States no longer exists—the Union is dissolved."


General A. S. Johnston has been placed in command of all the rebel forces in Missouri, and has issued a proclamation forbidding any property leaving the State.

General Van Dorn has been made the recipient of a superb war steed, magnificently caparisoned, as an evidence of the admiration and gratitude of the people of Texas.

When General Lovell arrived in New Orleans, by his own request he was not saluted. He said: "Gentlemen, keep your powder dry, and spend it on the enemy."

General Hardee has been commissioned as a Major-General in the rebel army.


Eight hundred rebel prisoners from Fort Lafayette arrived in Boston on 1st inst., and were received at Fort Warren by Colonel Dimmick, who commands at that station.


A petition to the Legislature is being circulated in Panola County, Tennessee, praying that body to pass a law for the purchase of the cotton crop of the state, and that payment in whole or in part be made by treasury notes ; that the cotton be pledged for the redemption of the notes. The petitioners further ask that, if this can not be done for the State at large, that it be done fur the county of Panola.




IT is understood that France and Spain have agreed on a programme of common action against the republic of Mexico. According to this plan, an allied land force, numbering six thousand men, is to be thrown into the interior of the country, its commanders having orders to endeavor to penetrate to the capital itself, provided ample satisfaction is not given for all the past alleged injuries committed by the inhabitants of Mexico against the subjects of the Emperor and Queen. It appears as if the English Government would content itself with supporting this movement by a strong naval demonstration in the Gulf. All the money claims of the executive or people of the three governments must be paid by Mexico.



The King of Prussia was crowned with great pomp and splendor at Konigsburg on the 18th ult. At the conclusion of the ceremony his Majesty delivered a very impressive and animated address. The king's interview with the Emperor at Compeigne exercises the British papers very seriously.



Affairs in Poland grow more and more threatening. On the occasion of the late Kosciusko demonstration in Warsaw the military made a descent upon the churches where the people were assembled, and arrested all who refused to leave them. Many were subsequently released, but it was asserted that at least two thousand men had been retained in custody, and were to be drafted into different regiments for the military service. The clergy had closed the churches, on account of their profanation by the military.

OLD GIRL. " I should like Thick Braids in front, and Curls and a Loop at the Back!"




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