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Civil War Harper's Weekly, April 12, 1862

We have posted our extensive collection of original Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers online for your study and research. This collection will allow new insights into this important period of American History.

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HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[APRIL 12, 1862.

226

ADVERTISEMENT.

THE Publishers of Harper's Weekly congratulate their readers upon the appearance in Number 272 of the first part of a new serial tale entitled "No NAME," by WILKIE COLLINS, Esq., author of "The Woman in White." Its opening gives promise of the same wonderful power and matchless dramatic skill which entranced the readers of "The Woman in White." It is seldom that a periodical is enabled to furnish its sub-scribers with such a series of attractive tales as have appeared consecutively for the past two years in Harper's Weekly, from the pens of Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and Bulwer. The commencement of this Tale affords a good opportunity for parties residing in the country to form clubs, and obtain Harper's Weekly at the reduced price of subscription.

The circulation of Harper's Weekly being now over 125,000 copies each week, it is the best advertising medium in the country. Price, per line, inside 50 cents, outside 75 cents.

See terms for Clubs, etc., on page 239.

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

SATURDAY, APRIL 12, 1862.
THE COMMAND OF THE ARMY.

THE indignation of an outraged public has compelled the New York Tribune and its coadjutors to cease their abuse of the Major-General commanding the army; but many leading politicians at Washington and a large section of the public continue to complain that matters are not ordered according to their notions, and to insinuate in very intelligible terms that the war would be much better conducted if another officer—shall we say General Fremont?—were at the head of the army.

We desire to be classed among the admirers of the genius, bravery, and fortitude of Major-General Fremont. To us it seems, as to others, that injustice was done him in the publication, if not in the making, of Adjutant-General Thomas's Report. He certainly crossed the Osage with his army, which Thomas positively declared he could not do. And it is likely enough that the waste and corruption in his Department were not more flagrant than in other Departments. At the same time, no one who has taken the pains to keep posted on the current events of the day and on the course of public opinion, can deny that Fremont's campaign in Missouri was not a success, and that his reputation as a military leader does not stand high among the people at large. The bare rumor of his appointment to the command of the army caused a decline of one per cent. on the stock exchange. It may have been his misfortune that the leading events of his "hundred days" in Missouri were the defeat at Springfield, the death of Lyon, and the surrender of Lexington. But his speech at St. Louis, in which he confessed that his removal had shaken his faith in democratic institutions, and the open threats of his followers—men in his confidence and under his control—that they would obey orders from no General but him, were not only misfortunes: they were faults, for which he must make amends, and which he must efface from the public memory before he can regain the confidence of the people. His present command, we are happy to add, will afford him an opportunity of retrieving these errors; it ought to suffice his friends.

With regard to the course pursued by Major-General McClellan, there is but one principle which can be safely adopted by good citizens, and that is, to trust him until the proofs of his incapacity are so flagrant as to be obvious to every one. His position and his responsibilities render it incumbent on him to keep his plans secret. If he were to attempt to vindicate himself from the charges of his civilian critics, he would be affording to the enemy information which would be priceless. There is and must be much in the movements of our armies which seems unintelligible and unwise to persons ignorant of the facts and of military science. But shall we imitate the savages who batter down steam-engines and tear their constructors to pieces because they don't understand them?

We do not pretend to have divined General McClellan's plan of operations; but we can see, as every one can, that since he assumed command of our armies we have met with but one reverse—Ball's Bluff and General Stone, the commander on that day, is in Fort Lafayette, charged with treason. We have won a dozen substantial victories, and the progress of our armies since they began to move in February has been steady, incessant, and unchecked. The chief strong-holds of the rebels — Columbus, Bowling Green, and Manassas, places deliberately selected, fortified at great pains and expense, and constituting a strong strategic line—have been occupied by our forces without the loss of a man or a gun. In Virginia our movements seem to proceed on a deliberately prearranged plan. Banks occupies Charlestown, and McDowell moves to Centreville; Banks takes Leesburg, and Hooker crosses the Potomac; McDowell camps at Manassas, and Banks moves on to Winchester; Heintzelman turns up at Big Bethel; as Sumner occupies Warrenton Junction, Banks advances to Strasburg, and Hooker occupies Aquia Creek and Shipping Point. All this looks like method, especially when it is remembered that Burnside, on the one hand, and Schoepff on the other, are within striking distance

of the only two lines of railway by which the rebel army in Virginia can escape to the Gulf States. We claim no strategic knowledge or military science. But to a civilian eye this looks like system, and such successful combination as would be called "a forced game" at chess. Surely the mind which has evolved these results deserves to be trusted a little longer. So far as we can judge, no General of modern times ever displayed more sagacity, courage, and, to use his own words, "adaptation of means to ends," than Major-General McClellan.

One thing is certain. The man who has the greatest stake in this contest is Abraham Lincoln. He has the power of removing McClellan from his command at any moment, and he has the best means of knowing whether he is fit for the rank he fills. Can we not afford to rely upon him?

THE LAST DITCH.

THE great defeat of the Americans, writes a traveler from Timbuctoo, is weakness in the back-bone.

Here are a parcel of men and women going about wringing their hands and saying, What shall we do if the rebels continue to hold out after McClellan has beaten them? What if they go to their mountains after we have taken their sea-ports and the Mississippi, and continue to flourish the rebel flag?

Really these are questions which don't concern us at all. When we have got our forts and custom-houses, and reopened the Mississippi, and raised the blockade, what happens in the interior will not matter much. We shall not distress ourselves if people collect there and call themselves Confederates. They may call themselves cannibals if they like; and judging from the reports from Manassas, the title would not be inappropriate. If they. try to eat any body or commit robbery or murder, we shall have to hang them, of course. But otherwise, why disturb them?

These notions of "an unconquerable people," of "dying in the last ditch," of burning one's house; and destroying one's property, are mere newspaper gabble. No people in the world voluntarily doom themselves to pauperdom for pride's sake. In every war there comes a time when men prefer their wife and babies to political theories. When we have thrashed the rebels well, they will be readier for submission than we to specify the terms.

THE NEGRO QUESTION IN
KENTUCKY.

THE Legislature of Kentucky, by a very large majority, has pronounced in favor of the disfranchisement of any citizen of that State who advocates the emancipation of the negroes. The majority was not large enough—two-thirds—to give to the expression of opinion the force of law. But in a moral and philosophical point of view it was enough. A generation since, Kentucky came within two or three votes of being a free State. Now, to propose such a thing involves ostracism. Such has been the effect of cotton culture, and of the rapid increase of the negro population.

We should like to have a fresh vote on this question taken in a Legislature newly elected by the people of Kentucky. When the present Legislature was chosen, the rebels were contending for the mastery of the State. Possibly the subsequent progress of the Union army may have effected a change in public sentiment; though, we confess, we hardly dare think so.

This vote of the Kentucky Legislature seems the most discouraging event of the day.

THE LOUNGER.

MOB LAW

THE papers which think that Mr. Wendell Phillips was served right when he was mobbed in Cincinnati are the same papers that thought the speech of Mr. Yancey at the Cooper Institute, just before the election of 1860, a very eloquent oration, and profoundly worth public attention. In that speech Mr. Yancey told us that slavery was a grand thing, and that if we undertook to censure it by electing Mr. Lincoln slavery could not think of submitting to such an indignity, and must necessarily break up the Union. There was no report of rotten eggs or rioting upon the occasion. It was simply a part of the effort to carry the election under threat of revolution.

When treason was struggling to make good what Mr. Yancey had said, Mr. Phillips declared in Cincinnati that he was an abolitionist and a Union man (the telegraph said disunionist, but that is the very thing Mr. Phillips repudiated)—and he was mobbed for saying so. "Served him right!" cry the papers that had so tender a heart and quick an ear for Mr. Yancey.

Now let us have a fair understanding of this matter. Mr. Yancey was an open disunionist, so was Mr. Phillips. Mr. Yancey was for disunion because the dominance of slavery in the Government was threatened. Mr. Phillips, because he thought the Government hopelessly committed to the protection of slavery. One thought that the Government was going to be just, therefore he was its enemy. The other thought that it was unjust, therefore he opposed it.

Under the Constitution, and by the manhood of every man in the land, both were equally entitled to express their convictions, and to make as many converts as they could. Under the Constitution, in a time of peace, if a man thinks that a monarchy is better than a republic, that polygamy is better than Christian marriage, that twice two make seventy, and that a circle is evidently a square, he has the fullest right to say so to as many persons as wish to hear, and every soldier and every gun at the service of the nation is pledged for his protection in the exercise of that right. In time of war the Government, as a military measure of security, may arrest, of course at its own peril, a man who merely preaches treason. But whether in peace or war, the mob has no rights, and no sane man will excuse it.

It is easy to understand that a people whose brave defenders stand upon the battle-field will feel such impatience of those who defame them that they may break through the forms of law and threaten the defamer with a summary penalty, as was shown by the mob that menaced the Herald newspaper in New York last April. But no man of common sense for a moment defends such an outbreak. There may be a bitter justice in making a man taste the poison with which he has tried to destroy other men; but when justice is bitter it is to be suspected. If Mr. Yancey or Mr. Ben Wood should preach treason in New York or elsewhere, at this moment, it is possible that the Government would seize them as it seized Mr. Schnable. But the Government is the judge. If it does not seize them it ought to shoot the mob that tries to do it. If Mr. Phillips preaches treason the rule is the same. When the military hand of the Government is not laid upon him, the mob that hounds him is the tool of treason and traitors.

And who doubts that? The mob in Cincinnati was an effort to solace treason. It was engineered doubtless by men who would betray that city to Jeff Davis to-morrow if they could. It is applauded by men who applauded Yancey—by men so utterly lost to manhood that a man who would destroy this Government for the sake of Slavery is a more tolerable character than he who would have destroyed it for the sake of Liberty. And the men and papers that commend this riot and anarchy, during which the foundations of society are imperiled, are the newspapers and the politicians who claim to be especially conservative and law-and-order-loving citizens! To save and favor slavery, which is the direct personal enemy of every laboring man in the country, they applaud anarchy. They are as blind as they are vicious.

THE TWO PARTIES.

IN the great struggle between Liberty and Despotism which is now waged in this country, party-spirit will inevitably play a prominent part. The enemies, or conditional friends, of constitutional liberty will sympathize as party men. When the armed resistance of disloyal citizens is suppressed, it is evident that such Union men as Senator Carlile of Virginia and Senator Davis of Kentucky will be inclined to strike hands with such open friends of the rebellion as Mr. Ben Wood and Mr. Vallandigham. Ought not this fact to make such men as the Union Senators hesitate? Can a party to which all the secret and silent adherents of disunion attach themselves, be a party which can possibly promise peace to the country in the future? Can Mr. Davis cleave to a party which holds that armed rebellion is a proper remedy for constitutional defeat, without supporting all that Jeff Davis has ever claimed?

There are really but two parties in the country at this moment. There is the party of absolutely loyal men, who hold that the integrity of the nation must be preserved at every cost, but who differ as to the time and way in which slavery should be touched; and there is the party of disloyal men who are either openly in arms, or who secretly support those in arms, or who declare that, if slaves are not untouched, however much they may be used against the Government, they will virtually aid the rebellion.

There are very few men in the country who do not belong to one of these two parties, and out of these two the working political organizations of the future are to arise. The question that will divide them is slavery; and slavery will be the dividing question of all parties in the country until it absolutely overpowers the Government, or until it is seen to be in process of extinction. For it is a contest of civilizations. The party of liberty asserts that every man was born with equal civic rights; that an injustice which repels the moral sense of mankind is bad political policy; and that as, in a popular government, the great mass of the citizens must be laborers, therefore labor must be respected. While the party of slavery contends, in the words of the Charleston Mercury, that "Slavery is the natural and normal condition of the laboring man, whether white or black;" that men have no natural rights, and that therefore for the strong to rob and oppress the weak is not injustice.

The party of slavery is intrenched in ignorance and prejudice, and the practical difficulty of dealing with a vicious system of society. The party of liberty is strengthened by common sense—by experience of the necessary consequences of slavery, which are war, taxation, and anarchy—and by the positive advantages of liberty, which are general prosperity, intelligence, and civil security. The practical weakness of the party of slavery will be the inhuman avid revolting doctrines and practices which it must logically assert and defend: the weakness of the party of liberty will be the difference of opinion as to methods, and the bitterness which such difference always breeds.

Virtually, of course, we have all made the election between these parties. Those of us who think that the remnants of despotism and the barbaric ages are to be weeded out of this nation belong already to the party of liberty, of civilization, of America, of peace, progress, and prosperity. Those

of us who believe that there is no necessary antagonism, in a nation of laborers, between a system which respects and one which degrades labor, who suppose that the laborers of the Free States are going to look on quietly and see the homes of their children in the West preoccupied by slaves, and who think it wise to maintain an overwhelming servile class restrained by laws of terrorism, and whom it must be necessarily criminal to teach or to treat as human, belong already to the party of despotism, ignorance, and anarchy.

THE "NASHVILLE."

CERTAINLY, if Captain Pegram were on our side, we should give him dinners, and invite him to receive his fellow-citizens at the City Hall. The Nashville rivals the Sumter. She dances in and out under the very noses of our guns. They smell her and snort, but she skips away. She will arrive blithely in Liverpool or Southampton, and a week afterward, while she is comfortably lying there, the news we send of her burning or her capture will set all Europe laughing. It is a joke; we may as well own it, and laugh too. Certainly crying won't help it. Moreover, we need not say that it is no matter, for it is matter. Nor need we insist that we don't care whether Europe laughs or not, for we do care. The very ferocity with which we assure each other that we are entirely independent of foreign criticism betrays us; just as the wrath with which the English newspapers vociferate that they have shown us Christian forbearance betrays the jealousy and the ill feeling which animate them.

The truth is that our Navy has been utterly inadequate to its task. It has done well. It has done nobly. At Port Royal the old Navy, and at Fort Henry the new Navy, were glorious victories. But the career of the Sumter, and the Nashville, and the Merrimac upon her first appearance, can not but be mortifying to us; not because they and their movements are so important in themselves, but because they show a skillful audacity which inspires admiration and begets confidence; and they also show the utmost use of the means at the rebels' command.

On the other hand, the mortification ought not to blind us to the fact that such things are not very serious in themselves, and that every day constantly makes us readier to meet them. We have to guard a thousand miles of coast, with intricate inlets. These passages are known intimately to the enemy. They have one or two swift steamers, and they choose their point of entrance all along the line. Of course they avoid our steamers, and laugh at our old fogy sailing ships. For instance, on the 16th of March the steamer State of Georgia left the mouth of Beaufort harbor, leaving the bark Gemsbok and the "slow steamer" Cambridge. In the evening of the 17th the Nashville stole quietly out, showed her heels to the two ships, which showered her with shells, but in a very few minutes she was safely at sea.

Naturally one question presents itself, and it may be answered even before it is asked here. Since it was known that the Nashville was at Beaufort, and that Burnside was threatening it, why were not arrangements made to have one or two steamers constantly on the watch to capture or sink her? The probability is that there was no available steamer, and to have made one available may have been only at the expense of leaving some other and essential point exposed.

There is, doubtless, a general feeling that Mr. Welles is an incompetent Secretary of the Navy, and ought to be removed. That may be, but it is idle to hold him responsible for every naval mishap. If Mr. Welles is to be made directly accountable for the escape of the Nashville, then General McClellan must bear the blame of Ball's Bluff. The only question is, whether the Secretary did all that could be done, under the circumstances, to intercept the Nashville. Unquestionably the naval resources of the country ought to have supplied plenty of proper vessels for the purpose. But did they? It is a mere question of fact whether the Navy furnishes force enough for our occasions. If it does, then the escape of the Nashville, with the first outbreak of the Merrimac, should be enough to unseat any Secretary.

POLITICS IN THE DARK.

IN this country there can never be occasion or excuse for secret political societies. If any such exist, they are necessarily treasonable either in spirit or in purpose. They are ruled by a few men, who by means of the secrecy rule more easily, and the objects of the society, for which the lay members work as blind tools, is the advantage of the few leaders. In a despotism it may often be necessary for the friends of liberty to meet secretly to perfect measures for revolution. But in a republic like ours the public welfare can only be determined by public discussion, while a secret society is a conclave of persons who practically seek to make themselves oligarchs.

There is no political object which can be honestly desired by any honest American citizen that can not be more securely attained by frank debate than by hidden means, which appeal to fear and prejudice and mystery. Such objects may, indeed, be attained by mysterious methods, but the triumph is resisted in like manner. The state is undermined by intrigues, and sinks inevitably into a chronic condition of anarchy and civil war. The countries in which such societies flourish are those which are perpetually torn with revolutions.

The difficulty of the "American" movement, as it was called a few years since in this country was this taint of secrecy. The American people upon the whole, wish to see fair play; and they had a very summary answer to this new party—"Dark-lanterns have nothing to do with politics." The "American" or "Know-Nothing" phenomenon in our political history was simply a secret conspiracy against foreign citizenship. Now, if it were the conviction of any man or body of men that the naturalization laws needed revision, it (Next Page)


 

 

  

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