Fremont's Slave Proclamation


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, September 14, 1861

This 1861 Harper's Weekly newspaper contains a variety of important news of Civil War. The paper contains original woodcut illustrations created by eye-witnesses to these historic events. These pages allow you to see the events of the Civil War unfold, just as the people of the day saw them.

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


Fort Hatteras

Fort Hatteras

Slave Proclamation

Fremont's Slave Proclamation

Martial Law

Martial Law in Missouri

General Rosecrans

General Rosecrans

Indiana Volunteers

22nd Indiana Volunteers

Southern Family Escaping North

Escaping Southern Family

French Regiment

101st French Regiment


Civil War Marines

Rebel Naval Battery

Rebel Naval Battery

Butler's Expedition

Butler's Southern Expedition


Civil War Cannons


Battle of Summersville

Abe Lincoln

Abe Lincoln Cartoon





[SEPTEMBER 14, 1861.



WE illustrate on pages 584 and 585 the DEPARTURE OF GENERAL BUTLER'S EXPEDITION AGAINST HATTERAS, and on the preceding page we give a View of the BOMBARDMENT, and Portraits of GENERAL BUTLER AND COMMODORE STRINGHAM.

The following account of this brilliant affair is from the report of the special reporter of the Herald :

Minnesota, Commodore Stringham; Wabash, Captain Mercer; the gun-boats Pawnee, Captain Rowan; Monticello, Commander Gillis, and the Harriet Lane, Captain Faunce, with the transports Adelaide and George Peabody, conveying troops to the number of about a thousand, left Fortress Monroe last Monday, and reached the rendezvous off Hatteras Inlet, fifteen miles below Cape Hatteras, on Tuesday morning, the Minnesota and Wabash coming in in the afternoon, and the Cumberland joined the fleet the same day.

Preparations were immediately made to land the troops the following morning, at which time the transports ran near the beach, two miles north of the Inlet, and, covered by the Monticello, Harriet Lane, and Pawnee, about three hundred men were landed through a heavy surf, the force consisting of Captain Larned's company of regular artillery, Captain Jardine's company Ninth New York, two companies of the Twentieth New York, with Colonel Weber and Lieutenant-Colonel Heiss; a detachment of marines from the frigates, under command of Majors Doughty and Shuttleworth, and a detachment of sailors from the Pawnee, under Lieutenants Crosby and Blue, with Drs. King and Jones.

The gun-boats swept the beach and neighboring copse of scrub oaks. All the boats being swamped and bilged in the surf, no more men could be thrown ashore. Meanwhile, the Minnesota and Wabash—the latter with the Cumberland in tow—steamed up to the front of one of the rebel batteries and took their position at long range.

At ten o'clock the Wabash fired the first gun, the eleven-inch shell striking near the battery and bursting with tremendous force. The battery, which was of sand, covered with turf and mounting five long thirty-twos, instantly returned the fire, the shot falling short. The Minnesota and Cumberland immediately opened fire and rained nine and eleven inch shells into and about it. The fire was terrific, and soon the battery's responses were few and far between, save when the frigates suspended fire for a while to get a new position, when the enemy's fire was most spirited.

No damage was sustained by our ships, and when they again took their position the cannonading was intensely hot, the shells dropping in the enemy's works or falling on the ramparts, exploding in death-dealing fragments, and carrying death and destruction with them. The small wooden structures about the fort were torn and perforated with flying shells. At eleven o'clock the immense flag-staff was shot away and the rebel flag came down, but the fire was still continued by them. At twelve o'clock the Susquehanna steamed in, and, dropping her boats astern, opened an effective fire. The cannonading on our part was incessant, and the air was alive with the hum and explosion of flying shells; but the enemy did not return the fire with any regularity, the battery being too hot for them, from the explosion of shells that dropped in at the rate of about half a dozen a minute.

The enemy ceased firing a little before two, and after a few more shells had been thrown in the Commodore signalized to cease firing.

The troops had meantime advanced to within a short distance of the fort, and before we ceased firing some of our men got in and raised the Stars and Stripes. The place was too hot for the men, but the flag was left waving. Coxswain Benjamin Sweares, of the Pawnee's first cutter, stood for some time on the ramparts waving the flaw amidst a flight of shells.

When the firing ceased the fort was occupied in force, and held afterward.

The Monticello had proceeded ahead of the land force to protect them, and had reached the Inlet when a large fort of an octagon shape, to the rear and right of the small battery, mounting ten thirty-twos and four eight-inch guns, which had till then been silent, opened on her with eight guns, at short range. At the same instant she got aground, and stuck fast, the enemy pouring in a fire hot and heavy, which the Monticello replied to with shell sharply. For fifty minutes she held her own, and finally getting off the ground she came out, having been shot through and through by seven eight-inch shell, one going below the water-line. She fired fifty-five shell in fifty minutes, and partially silenced the battery. She withdrew at dusk for repairs, with one or two men slightly bruised, but none killed or wounded.

The escape of the vessel and crew was miraculous. Until this time we supposed the day was ours; but the unexpected opening of the large battery rather changed the aspect of affairs. Things did not look cheerful at dark. We had men ashore who were probably in need of provisions, and in case of a night attack no assistance could be sent them from the Harriet Lane.

As we lay close in shore we saw the bright bivouac fires on the beach with groups of men about them. The night passed without an alarm, the enemy, as we have since learned, lying on their arms all night, expecting an attack.

At early daybreak on Thursday the men went to quarters in the fleet, and at a quarter past eight, the vessels having borne down nearer than the previous day's position, the action began, the Susquehanna opening the day's work by a shell from one of the eleven-inch guns. The Minnesota and Wabash joined in immediately, and again the hum of shell and their explosion were heard. They fired nearly half an hour before the battery responded, when it answered briskly. Our fire was more correct than on the previous day. The range had been obtained, and nearly every shot went into the battery, throwing up clouds of sand and exploding with terrific effect.

At twenty-five minutes past ten the Harriet Lane opened fire, and soon after the Cumberland came in from the offing and joined in the attack. The Harriet Lane, with her rifled guns, did good execution, several projectiles from the eight-inch shell going into the battery, and one going directly through the ramparts. The fire was so hot that all of the enemy that could do so got into a bomb-proof in the middle of the battery.

Finally, at five minutes past eleven A.M., an eleven-inch shell having pierced the bomb-proof through a ventilator and exploded inside, near the magazine, the enemy gave up the fight and raised over the ramparts a white flag.

General Butler went into the Inlet, and landed at the fort, and demanded an unconditional surrender.

Commodore Barron, Assistant Secretary of the Confederate Navy, asked that the officers be allowed to march out with side-arms, and the men be permitted to return to their homes after surrendering their arms. These terms were pronounced inadmissible by General Butler, and finally the force was surrendered without condition.


CALL him not "Brother," whose unhallowed hand

Hacks down the roof-tree of our common home! Call him not "Brother," who, with sword and brand,

Lays waste the heritage of our fatherland!

Call him not "Brother," who, 'mid cannon's boom, Beats down old land-marks, shrouds in endless gloom

The hapless ones his greed hath bared and bann'd ! He is a Cain ! Cain-like must be his doom. The Prodigal, repentant, may return?

Repentant? Yes Recusant—never! No! The renegade from freedom all men spurn.

Who strikes for slavery makes the world his foe: Who draws the sword shall by the sword be slain: And whoso " raises cane" must reap the hurricane.



ON Saturday, 31st August, Major-General Fremont, commanding at St. Louis, Missouri, issued a proclamation placing the whole State of Missouri under martial law, and further stating :

"All persons who shall be taken with arms in their hands within these lines shall be tried by court-martial, and, if found guilty, will be shot. The property, real and personal, of all persons in the State of Missouri who shall take up arms against the United States, and who shall be directly proven to have taken active part with their enemies in the field, is declared to be confiscated to the public use; and their slaves, if any they have, are hereby declared free."

It has been stated by some of the papers that in thus pronouncing the emancipation of the slaves of rebels General Fremont was only carrying out the Act known as the Confiscating Act passed by Congress at the extra Session. An examination of that act will, however, show that its provisions do not warrant the step taken by the General. The only section in which any reference is made to slaves is the following :

SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That whenever hereafter, during the present insurrection against the Government of the United States, any person claimed to be held to labor or service under the law of any State shall be required or permitted by the person to whom such labor or service is claimed to be due, or by the lawful agent of such person, to take up arms against the United States ; or shall be required or permitted by the person to whom such labor or service is claimed to be due, or his lawful agent, to work or to be employed in or upon any fort, navy-yard, dock, armory, ship, intrenchment, or in any military or naval service whatsoever, against the Government and lawful authority of the United States, then, and in every such case, the person to whom such labor or service is claimed to be due shall forfeit his claim to such labor, any law of the State or of the United States to the contrary notwithstanding. And whenever thereafter the person claiming such labor or service shall seek to enforce his claim, it shall be a full and sufficient answer to such claim that the person whose service or labor is claimed had been employed in hostile service against the Government of the United States, contrary to the provisions of this act.

It thus appears that the only slaves who can be forfeited under this Act are those who have been " employed in hostile service against the United States Government;" whereas Major-General Fremont's proclamation grants freedom to the slaves of every rebel, whether they have been employed in military service or not. The General, therefore, has evidently based his action, not upon the law of Congress, but upon something else.

That something else is THE WAR POWER, which is inherent in the Government, and is exercised by its delegated officers commanding the forces of the United States. What the nature of this war power is, and what it may do with slavery, may be gathered from the following extract from a speech delivered by ex-President John Q. Adams, in the House of Representatives, on April 14, 1842 :

When your country is actually in war. whether it be a war of invasion or a war of insurrection, Congress has power to carry on the war, and must carry it on according to the laws of war, and by the laws of war an invaded country has all its laws and municipal institutions swept by the board, and martial law takes the place of them. This power in Congress has perhaps never been called into exercise under the present Constitution of the United States. But when the laws of war are in force, what, I ask, is one of those laws? It is this, that when a country is invaded, and two hostile armies are set in martial array, the commanders of both armies have power to emancipate all the slaves in the invaded territory. Nor is this it mere theoretic statement. The history of South America shows that the doctrine has been carried into execution within the last thirty years. Slavery was abolished in Columbia, first by the Spanish General Morillo, and secondly by the Americal General Bolivar. It was abolished by virtue of a military command given at the head of the army, and its abolition continues to be law to this day. It was abolished by the laws of war, and not by municipal enactments. I might furnish a thousand proofs to show that the pretensions of gentlemen to the sanctity of their municipal institutions, under a state of actual invasion and of actual war, whether servile, civil, or foreign, are wholly unfounded, and that the laws of war do, in all such cases, take the precedence. I lay this down as the law of nations. I say that the military authority takes, for the time, the place of all municipal institutions, slavery among the rest. Under that state of things, so far from its being true that the States where slavery exists have the exclusive management of the subject, not only the President of the United States, but the commander of the army, has power to order the universal emancipation of the slaves.

John Quincy Adams thus held that, whenever a war grew out of slavery, martial law might be proclaimed in any part of the Union, and that such proclamation " swept by the board" all municipal and local laws establishing or recognizing slavery. It may seem superfluous to quote authorities in support of the assertions of so sound a jurist as Mr. Adams. We may mention, however, that he merely repeats, in the speech above quoted, the views of the recognized expounders of the common law. Sir Matthew Hale (Hist. C. L. c. 2), says that martial lacy is built upon no settled principles, but is entirely arbitrary in its decisions; it is in truth and reality no law, but something rather indulged than allowed as a law." Blackstone quotes this passage (Comm., I. 413) and emphatically approves it ; adding that in time of war court-martials have " almost an absolute legislative power." Modern jurists confirm these views, and admit that in actual warfare the powers of the general commanding are dictatorial.

We run no risk, therefore, in stating that, in decreeing the emancipation of the slaves owned by rebels in the State of Missouri, General Fremont has neither, on the one hand, relied upon the recent Act of Congress relating to confiscation,

nor, on the other, exceeded the proper limits of his authority as General commanding. Under his proclamation of martial law, all state and municipal laws were at once suspended, and he, as commanding General, was practically invested with dictatorial powers over persons and property, for the just use of which powers he tacitly undertook to render account when martial law ceased to exist in his Department.

 The direct consequences of his decree, so far as slavery in Missouri is concerned, can not be of much importance. Missouri does not contain 125,000 slaves, and of these considerably more than one half are believed to be held by loyal men. Moreover, under the terms of Fremont's proclamation, no slave can be emancipated until it is proved that his owner has been actually in arms, or laboring actively in aid of those who are in arms against the Government : a large number of slaves may thus be defrauded of emancipation through the want of evidence to establish the treason of their masters. It is doubtful whether 25,000 human beings will exchange slavery for freedom under the proclamation of General Fremont.

But its moral effect must be signal. It is a solemn warning to the inhabitants of the rebel States, that wherever the armies of the United States are resisted in the interests of slavery, the cause of the resistance will be removed. It is a pregnant hint that the rebels who have falsely accused us of being abolitionists may, if they choose, make their accusation true. It is a notification to Kentucky, which seems to be on the eve of explosion, that open treason will necessarily involve the extirpation of slavery. This rebellion has more than once recalled the old adage, " Those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first render mad :" we shall now see how far the madness extends. The cost of rebellion is abolition. Those who choose may purchase.

Another important result of General Fremont's proclamation has been the discovery of the fact that the people of the North are much more solidly united on the question of slavery than was imagined. It had been generally supposed that the first utterance of the cry of emancipation would divide the North into two hostile camps. How this strange delusion came to be entertained it is difficult to discover; the least reflection should have satisfied every one that it was impossible to build up at the North a party based on protection to slavery any where. But, however the notion originated, there is no doubt it did exist, and that leading men and journals in the confidence of the Administration were so thoroughly imbued with it, that they indignantly repudiated the imputation of being friendly to freedom under any circumstances. It seems, from the temper in which the public receive General Fremont's proclamation, that they are not so tender on the subject. They seem very well satisfied with the prospect. We hear no complaints, no lamentations over the downfall of slavery in Missouri. The respectable Democrats of this part of the country express themselves rather pleased than otherwise. Of course, it must be expected that the lottery-policy dealers and the profligate vagabonds who pretend to represent the Democracy in convention will testify their sorrow at the event, as they will do at every success of the National arms : but neither in this nor in any other particular do they express the sense of the rank and file of the Democracy.

What people want now is decided, startling, effective successes on the part of the United States. If these are achieved, no one will complain of what they may cost. Our Generals may emancipate every slave in the country, and lay waste every field from the Potomac to the Rio Grande-the people will sustain them, provided they crush out the enemy and restore the supremacy of the Government. But there will be no mercy for the general who, for fear of breaking a law or dividing a party, suffers the rebels to progress from victory to victory, and the Stars and Stripes to endure defeat after defeat, and disgrace after disgrace.


IN a notice of General McCLELLAN, published in our paper of August 31, we did injustice to Colonel DELAFIELD, United States Army, by stating that he had gone over to the rebels. This erroneous statement originally appeared in a city journal, and was promptly contradicted by Governor MORGAN, who wrote as follows :

" Colonel Delafield reported to me for duty, by order of the Chief Engineer, General Totten, seen after the bombardment of Fort Sumter, and this State and Country will be largely benefited by his valuable aid. There is not a more Union loving and supporting citizen living."

We now learn that the Colonel is still on duty with Governor MORGAN, in addition to being charged with the Defenses at the Narrows, which are at this moment in active operation, progress being made with a large force on both Forts Richmond and Tompkins. We learn also that the Colonel has superintended the construction of a large supply of rifle field-artillery that have gone into service; and that he has at this time upward of three hundred mechanics at work in this city on gun-carriages, caissons, forge and battery wagons, for additional rifle field-guns that he is ordered by

the Governor to have made without unnecessary delay. We also learn that the Colonel has found time to prepare Special Reports for the information of the Sanitary Commission.

We avail ourselves of this occasion to inform our readers of the recent distribution, by the Senate printer, of Colonel Delafield's report on the Art of War in Europe in 1854, '55, and '56—a work of great labor and research, and embellished by numerous graphic illustrations.  



As all roads, according to the proverb, lead to Rome, so all conversation now ends in the war. We all ask each other anxiously how we feel today, and the fluctuations of emotion are curious to observe. The public mind is as sensitive as a mirror. Each breath of doubt tarnishes it. An unhappy glance makes it unhappy. A cheerful face cheers the foolish reflector. On the bluest Monday, if a man persistently carries a smile in his eve and a spring in his voice, the gloomiest circle of friends, which has just demonstrated the inevitability, of national destruction, revives and takes heart, and suddenly sees that things are not half so bad as they were an hour before. On the other hand, a skillful array of the dismal statistics, which every war must needs present, clouds the well-meaning soul that was trying to be cheerful, and all is utterly hopeless and forlorn.

Petted and cockered by peace for two generations, we come very slowly to believe that we must really fight. In order to secure unfading gold in our harvest fields, those fields must be changed into camps, and we do not like it. When we see it plainly, we shall do it cheerfully and effectually. Meanwhile we look in wonder and doubt. We listen for the guns from Western Virginia; for Fremont's orders; for McClellan's bugle. Suppose that bugle should sound a retreat to the Susquehanna. The strain would bring every loyal man to its banks.

There is no mistake so great as the supposition that another Manassas would end this war. End it ! Why, we should only then fully perceive that we are fighting. Like the Catholic priest who said that he could never really work for his Church until the Pope, under a misapprehension, had excommunicated him—like the old sailor who, when the waves hiss and the winds roar, and the ship plunges on in chaotic gloom, smiles as he takes the helm, and turns his tough face to the storm, so the quality of our race, the fine fibre of our manhood, would rise to meet our fate, and twist it to our good fortune.

If it were possible that a defeat or two could seriously harm us, we should never have fought. For that would show such a fatal inward rottenness that the conspiracy would have been unresisted. That was the very thing upon which the rebel leaders counted. They believed that the poisonous breath of slavery, which a great political party and the whole country had breathed so long, had corrupted the very sources of our national vitality, and that the seemingly vigorous frame would crumble under a rigorous blow. They dealt the blow at Sumter. The smoke cleared away, and they saw that frame stretching its giant thews and clenching its mighty hands with a roar of indignation. They repeated the blow at Manassas, and looked to see the lifeless hulk along the ground. But they behold only a firmer setting of the lip, as that vast form perceives that it must use as well as own its strength.

When our earnestness equals their desperation the end of the war, although not the settlement of the question, will be evident enough.


THE " peace meeting" business is just now about the flattest of all business. The people know so well that what is called a " peace meeting" is simply a meeting to give aid and comfort to the war which Jeff Davis is waging upon the Government of his country, that they stop them as they would stop a man whom they saw sending off powder and shot to the rebel army. A "peace" man is a man who is in favor of war against the Constitutional Government of this country. Whoever talks of compromise is, as Mr. Holt truly called him in Boston, a traitor. For no man can be a friend of the Government which he advises to yield to an enemy.

Of course every body understands the work which the "peace meetings" are meant to do. They are called in those few small places which are supposed to be somewhat disaffected to the United States. In such places there will be a certain number ready to countenance treason, and it is the intention of the managers of these meetings, who are the most notorious political profligates in the country, to excite a forcible collision between traitors and true men. The " peace meetings," let it be well understood, are instigated by the agents of Jeff Davis, for the purpose of bringing war and bloodshed to the doors of the hitherto happy homes of the country. Whoever helps a " peace meeting" aids and abets Jeff Davis. If a man goes to such an assembly because he sincerely prefers peace to war, let him ask himself who has broken the peace, and then whether the way to secure peace is to yield to the demands of those who do not hesitate to break it to gain their own ends.

The Davis agents resort to the rural districts for their experiments in aiding treason, hoping that the quiet farming population will be deluded by the words "Peace," "Union," and "Fraternity." They forget that from that population march the hardy soldiers who have gone to defend that peace, union, and fraternity against the friends and allies of the agents who get up " peace meetings" to denounce the cause for which the soldiers gladly offer their lives.

Thus far these worthy gentry have not succeeded in provoking any bloody collision. They have (Next Page)



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