General Winfield Scott's Resignation


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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.

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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) infirmities, could not be declined. General McClellan was thereupon, with the unanimous agreement of the Cabinet, notified that the command of the army would be devolved upon him.

At four o'clock in the afternoon the Cabinet again waited upon the President, and attended him to the residence of General Scott. Being seated, the President read to the General the following order:

On the first day of November, A.D. 1861, upon his own application to the President of the United States, Brevet Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott is ordered to be placed, and hereby is placed, upon the list of retired officers of the army of the United States, without reduction in his current pay, subsistence, or allowances.

The American people will hear with sadness and deep emotion that General Scott has withdrawn from the active control of the army, while the President and unanimous Cabinet express their own and the nation's sympathy in his personal affliction, and their profound sense of the important public services rendered by him to his country during his long and brilliant career, among which will ever be gratefully distinguished his faithful devotion to the Constitution, the Union, and the Flag, when assailed by parricidal rebellion.   


General Scott thereupon rose and addressed the President and Cabinet, who had also risen, as follows :

PRESIDENT—This honor overwhelms me. It overpays all services I have attempted to render to my country. If I had any claims before, they are all obliterated by this expression of approval by the President, with the remaining support of his Cabinet. I know the President and this Cabinet well. I know that the country has placed its interests in this trying crisis in safe keeping. Their counsels are wise, their labors are as untiring as they are loyal, and their course is the right one.

President, you must excuse me. I am unable to stand longer to give utterance to the feeling, of gratitude which oppress me. In my retirement I shall offer up my prayers to God for this Administration and for my country-. I shall pray for it with confidence in its success over all enemies, and that speedily.

The President then took leave of General Scott, giving him his hand, and saying he hoped soon to write him a private letter expressive of his gratitude and affection. The President added :

GENERAL,—You will naturally feel solicitude about the gentlemen of your staff, who have rendered you and their country such faithful service. I have taken that subject into consideration. I understand that they go with you to New York. I shall desire them, at this earliest convenience after their return, to make their wishes known to me. I desire you now, however, to be satisfied that, except the unavoidable privation of your counsel and society, which they have so long enjoyed, the provision which will be made for them will be such as to render their situation as agreeable hereafter as it has been heretofore.

Each member of the Administration then gave his hand to the veteran, and retired in profound silence.


WE continue in this Number our series of illustrations of the War in Missouri. On page 729 will be found a picture—from a sketch by Mr. A. Simplot — of GENERAL SIEGEL CROSSING THE OSAGE ; on page 728 a spirited illustration of the CHARGE OF GENERAL FREMONT'S BODY-GUARD THROUGH SPRINGFIELD ; and on page 727 a picture—from a sketch by Mr. A. Simplot—representing FREMONT'S ARMY at THE MARCH THROUGH MISSOURI, and another of FREMONT'S BRIDGE ACROSS THE OSAGE.

Our correspondent, who writes from Warsaw, Missouri, says that General Siegel's army had hard work crossing the Osage. The infantry were ferried over on the flat-boat shown in our picture ; the cavalry forded the stream, and several men and horses were lost in the operation. Since then a pontoon bridge has been erected, over which General Fremont crossed.

Of General Fremont's army on the march many queer stories are told. It is reported by Mr. Thurlow Weed that they are ravaging the country as they go ; and we regret to say that our own information is to the same effect. The utmost license in the way of foraging is allowed to the troops, and thus the feeling of the secessionists is imbittered, while Union men are converted into enemies. General Fremont believes in making the war support itself. At Warsaw he quartered his officers in the houses of the leading inhabitants, himself occupying the residence of Judge Wright, a leading rebel. Warsaw is a hot-bed of treason.

The charge of his Body-Guard through Springfield is described in the following dispatches :


CAPTAIN McKEEVER, Assistant Adjutant-General: Yesterday afternoon Major Seagoyne, at the head of my Guard, made a most brilliant charge upon a body of the enemy, drawn up in line of battle, and their camp, at Springfield, 2000 or 2200 strong. He completely routed them, cleared them from the town, hoisted the national flag on the Court-house, and retired upon a reinforcement, which he has already joined. Our loss is not great. This successful charge against such very large odds is a noble example to the army. Our advance will occupy Springfield tonight.   J. C. FREMONT,

Major-General Commanding.

The following is a special dispatch to the St. Louis Republican:

The following dispatch has been received, announcing a most brilliant victory at Springfield by General Fremont's Body-Guard, numbering 150 men:


GENERAL,—I report respectfully that yesterday, at four P.M., I met in Springfield about 2000 rebels formed in line of battle. They gave a very warm reception, but your Guard, with one feeling, made a charge, and in less than three minutes the enemy was completely routed by one hundred and fifty men. We cleared the city of every rebel and retired, it being near night, and not feeling able to keep the place with so small a force. Major White's command did not participate in the charge. I have seen charges, but such brilliant bravery I have never seen, and did not expect. Their war-cry—"Fremont and the Union;"-broke out like thunder.


Major Commanding Body-Guard.

General Fremont's Body-Guard numbers three hundred.

Of Fremont's bridge across the Osage the correspondent of the Times says :

The Osage at this point, from bank to bank, is perhaps two hundred yards wide: but now, owing to low water, there is a wide bar in the middle, leaving only a narrow stream of some twenty-five yards in width on either side. These two streams are the ones which are now being bridged by General Fremont for the passage of his army. Piers have been built and erected, stringers stretched

across these, and upon them is placed a covering of hewn logs, to obtain which General Fremont has torn down several log-houses. The work is a very substantial one, and will be finished to-day or to-morrow at furthest.

The Admirable War Map which appeared in the last Number of Harper's Weekly, and that we are prepared to furnish it,


at Six CENTS per copy, with the usual discount to Agents. This Map is generally admitted to be the MOST COMPLETE WAR MAP IN EXISTENCE.




As we all read in the papers of his interview with the Cabinet and retirement from public service, it was impossible not to recall that other scene, of eighty years ago, in the old building still standing at the corner of Broad and Pearl streets, in the city of New York. It was at noon of the 4th of December, 1782, that Washington met all his officers at the inn where he lodged. The meeting was to say farewell. Few words were spoken ; and at length Washington arose, and, filling a glass of wine, turned to his officers, and spoke the words that we all remember. He then asked them to come and take his hand ; and, in sacred tears and silence, he so bade them farewell.

But this time, as our later venerated soldier speaks to the President a few words of farewell gushing from the heart, it is the whole country that says to him, with emotion, as Washington said to his Generals : " With hearts full of love and gratitude we now take leave of you. We most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable."


THE traitors who are now in arms against their country are not to be envied. In their case the stings of conscience must be quickened by a constantly recurring recognition of the fact that Providence is against them. Every thing they have tried has failed ; every project they set their heart upon has ended disastrously. From the day their friend, the hoary dotard Buchanan, vacated the post he disgraced, the hand of God has lain heavily on them and theirs.

They commenced their rebellion with the notion—encouraged somewhat by presses and persons here—that a substantial portion of the Northern people would side with them in their rebellion. From that delusion they have been rudely awakened by imposing musters of Northern Democrats in support of the Union, and by the ignominious surrender of such pseudo-Democrats as Benjamin Wood and others, who presumed for a time to abet them in their treason. They know now that twenty millions of freemen —aided by the majority of the people of Maryland, Kentucky, Delaware, and Missouri—are decidedly against them.

They believed—as the letters of the special correspondent of the Times show-that neither Great Britain nor France would suffer the cotton ports to be blockaded. Europe, they boasted in their meanness, would come to their relief, and would raise the blockade. In this they have been most egregiously disappointed. Neither England nor France evince the slightest tendency to interfere with the blockade. In fact, they have no motive for doing so ; for their trouble is not so much the want of cotton as the want of a market—at the North—for their manufactured goods. Cotton they can dispense with if they can not sell cotton cloths. The "fluffy potentate" has been ejected from his throne.

His power depended upon the readiness of the North to consume the products of the looms of Manchester and Lowell. The North has ceased to consume, and the tyrant, whose sovereignty rested upon the slavery of four millions of human beings, tumbles helplessly to the earth. England and France will not disturb the blockade—and this the South knows by this time.

The traitors were satisfied that they would this summer hold Washington. One Walker, who figured as "Secretary of War" of the rebels, announced in April that they would seize Washington by May, and the Creole Beauregard fixed upon the 20th October as the time when he would be in possession. The arch-traitor, Jefferson Davis, sent word to keep his pew in church for him, as his family would want it this summer. So long as Buchanan was President there was some ground for these expectations. That miserable old man labored so strenuously on behalf of the rebels, and there were so many other traitors in every Government office, that it was natural the insurgents should hope to win possession of the capital. That prize is now beyond their reach. No city in the world is so well fortified as Washington. All the fighting men in the South can not take it. This must be a bitter disappointment.

It was confidently announced that the secession of the cotton States would be the ruin, commercially and financially, of the North. The fact is that stocks have risen from 10 to 20 per cent. since the war began ; business has improved in every direction ; our banks hold twice as much specie as they did a year ago ; our exports are increasing and our imports are diminishing; money is abundant, food is cheap, the demand for labor is in excess of the supply, and the great cities of the North, New York, Chicago, Cincinnati, Boston, Buffalo, Philadelphia, etc., were never more busy than they are at present. It is now evident that our Northern people have accommodated themselves to the war. They have made up their minds to the temporary loss of the Southern markets, and they find they can get along without them. The North is really richer to-day than it was twelve months ago. This is another substantial disappointment.

These failures must operate rather unpleasantly upon the spirits of the leaders of the Southern treason. They will produce no effect upon their subjects—white and black—because Southern newspapers are not suffered to tell the truth. But such men as Davis, Toombs, Stephens, Benjamin, Hunter, Brown, etc., must begin to see that their cause is hopeless. They have succeeded in nothing but in alienating their Northern friends, weakening slavery in the Border States, impoverishing the entire South, rousing the slaves to notions of emancipation, destroying the credit of Southern States, ruining forever the political power of the slave institution, stimulating the growth of cotton all over the world, teaching the North its independence of the South, and imbuing the whole civilized world with a thorough conviction of the brutality, dishonesty, and rottenness of a society "based on the corner-stone of human slavery." In every thing else they have failed. How long will they persist in the failure ?



For either the report had convinced the Secretary that Fremont was incompetent, or it had not. If it had, it was his duty to urge his removal. Then, if the effort were unavailing, it was his duty not to injure the service by taking the public into his confidence. It is not his business to appeal to the public against the President.

But if it had not convinced him, what honorable motive can be suggested for the publication of a document which necessarily demoralizes the entire Western Department at its most critical and perilous moment?

We do not complain of blunders, for they must occur in our situation, and every man of common sense will expect them. But when a blunder evidently involves bad faith, every man of common sense ought to speak out. In the cloud of uncertainty which rests upon the whole campaign in Missouri, and in the unfortunate quarrel between General Fremont and Mr. Frank Blair, it has been impossible to see clearly enough to express any decided opinion except of perfect faith in General Fremont's honesty and earnestness.

But this document of General Thomas's is not at all cloudy. It states facts and rumors prejudicial to the ability of General Fremont. If he is to be heard upon them, the dishonor of their publication before his answer is patent. If he is not to be heard upon them, their publication can have no other conceivable result than to aid and comfort the enemy. We say again, the report may have justified his removal. That is a question for the Commander-in-chief. But nothing can justify its publication.

Grant that Fremont is incapable—does any body

suppose him to be a traitor, or treacherously inclined? But does any body doubt that Patterson was morally responsible for the disaster of Bull Run? Then why is not the same charitable silence allowed to fall upon honesty and loyalty, however unavailing, that so closely envelops conduct which you may qualify as you will ?

If the President thinks Fremont incompetent, let him be removed. We shall all acquiesce; and if the newspapers choose to wrangle about him, let them wrangle. But if the President is not yet persuaded, then, in the name of the national honor, of his own dignity, and of the justice due to a brave and noble man who is busy with the enemy in front and is silent toward assailing slander in the rear, let the President of the United States and Commander-in-chief of the army show that the good name of every faithful soldier, whether major-general or private, is his peculiar care, and that the public shall have no official hints to his injury.


OUR great Armada has sailed away. Whither? The question may be answered before this paper is printed. It may be answered in victory which shall cheer the heart of every lover of liberty in the world. It may be answered in disaster that shall give those hearts a pang. It is announced now that "next Saturday" the news of its destined point may be safely told! What babies we still are! If all the newspapers in the land were as loyal as they are loud, they would instinctively refuse to publish any such "authentic information." Perhaps they will !

But they may be pardoned if they only repeat the "authentic information" which has been enjoyed by so many thousands for the last month. Every other man "had reason to know" where it was going; and every other mean had reason to know that it was a different point. Every possible point from Norfolk to New Orleans his been suspected and supported by the most incontestable considerations. Certainly the Administration deserves infinite credit for fitting out so vast an expedition, and, in these days of treason and telegraphic reporters, for keeping its secret so fast. Every body knows, of course. But fortunately nobody has the least idea.

There is one point in the order to General Sherman from Secretary Cameron which shows great good sense. The General is to else every body he can who is friendly and can be serviceable to the United States. Should such persons prove to be slaves under any local law and slaves of loyal masters, they are to be accounted for: they are not to be sent back. This, of course, is for two reasons. In the first place, nobody could tell whether they were or were not the slaves of loyal masters: and, secondly, if they were so proved, the army of the United States has been directed by Congress that its business is not slave-hunting.

The great Armada has sailed away. Our hopes and hearts sail with it. Our hopes for our country : our hearts for the friends, and brothers, and husbands, and sons, and lovers, whom it carries. Yet while we wait for news, if news will not have come before this morning, then let us hope reasonably, not wildly, nor trust the future to a single chance. We lavish credit so freely upon persons and things: we believe so implicitly that General This knows every thing and General That can do everything, that our disappointment is overwhelming when they prove to be only men.

Let every body make up his mind to one thing. If you mean to regard the success of this expedition as decisive of the war—the moment it is defeated, should defeat be in store for us, go over straight to the enemy. Don't stay here mourning and mumbling, and wringing your hands. But if you mean to view its success or defeat as a man and a patriot should, then, if ill news come, prepare for another blow ; remembering that with the true spirit which is now getting soberly to work, even at the worst, the more we are beaten, the more we shall beat.

And so calm waves! swift winds! and victory !


MR. WHITE well names his little book upon the writing of national hymns in general, and upon our recent efforts in that direction in particular, a lyrical study for the times. It is the study of a scholar and a musician, and will fill a quaint niche in our literature. The work is, properly, in three parts : first, a treatise upon national hymn writing, and upon music as the popular vehicle of such a hymn; second, a brief and admirable account of the two great national hymns, God Save the King and the Marseillaise; and, third, a history of the doings of the late Committee upon the subject, with specimens of some of the best and worst contributions offered to them.

The book is "thrown off;" but MR. White is so familiar with the subject he discusses, in both its aspects of poetry and music, that it is the " throwing off" of an accomplished scholar, musician, and critic—like the racy and valuable conversation of a master in the matter. The appointment of a committee for such a purpose can never be regretted, since it has resulted in this pleasant book.

But it was those gentlemen, and not the twelve hundred, who were on trial. They were to say to



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