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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.

(Scroll Down to See Entire Page, or Newspaper Thumbnails below will take you to a specific page of interest)


General Buell

General Buell

Kentucky Negroes

Kentucky Negroes

Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

Tennessee Map

Tennessee Battle Map


Biography of General Buell

Battle of Winchester

Battle of Winchester

Battle of Hampton Roads

Battle of Hampton Roads



New Madrid, Point Pleasant

Point Pleasant and New Madrid


Newbern, NC

Picture of the Monitor

Picture of the Monitor

Battle Winchester Picture

Picture of the Battle of Winchester



APRIL 12, 1862.]



—the air as heavy as lead. Every body was gloomy, in spite of repeated efforts to be cheerful. And yet when the hour for the siesta came, nobody, not even the children, seemed to care for sleep. All were restless and ill at ease. Suddenly Wilson exclaimed:

"Royston, come out, will you? Hang the sun! I can't kick my heels indoors any more. Let's get our nags, and have a gallop over the Llanos."

Before long we were mounted: I on my black horse from the south, Wilson on a splendid sorrel mustang, with very evident marks of the Arabian blood derived from the Spanish jennets. We had our rifles slung, and heavy Mexican knives in our belts—an indispensable precaution on those prairies. And Wilson had his lasso at his saddle-bow, as well as the bolas which he always carried.

"There's a brindled bull astray," said he, "that has puzzled the vaqueros; perhaps I shall get a sight of him, and if I get the noose over his horns I'll forgive him if he gets off again. And then there's a flock of pronghorns, you know, our American antelopes, driven in by thirst. Shy as they are, we may get a crack at them. Come along!"

And he spurred out of the corral. I followed, and we were soon careering, side by side, over the. boundless sea of grass. The brisk motion did us good, and stimulated our nerves a bit; and my companion shot an antelope, and slung him behind his saddle, and we hit on the tracks of the lost bull. After a sharp gallop we suddenly reined up. There lay the poor bull on the parched plain—dead, but still warm. It had died of thirst. A dozen ugly vultures rose screaming from the carcass. They had been pecking at the eyes and protruding tongue.

"Pah!" cried Wilson; "I hate the vulture's very name, but they are useful scavengers. Come along. Poor brindle! we have come too late to save the truant."

We rode homeward. Once or twice Wilson saw some shadows, far off, against the extreme horizon, and pronounced them to be mounted Indians.

"The dogs are after no harm; most likely chasing game that is running for the rivers, mad for the want of water," said he.

At last we reined up our horses on the edge of the low hill, carpeted with blossomed shrubs, which overlooked the fair white house and sweet shady garden which formed Wilson's home.

"How pretty!" I exclaimed, involuntarily.

"Can you wonder," said Wilson, "that I am anxious not to leave it to the torch of the savage? What on earth are you about?"

It was not I that was doing any thing remarkable. It was my horse that began to shiver, and to snort and pant, and spread his nostrils to the air, and show every sign of distress. I sprang to the ground.

"What ails the brute?" cried Wilson. "By Heaven! mine is trembling, too, in every limb."

And he, too, dismounted. The horses, dark with heat drops, with flanks quivering, limbs shaking, showed every sign of extreme terror. They pressed, whinnying, close to us, and then trembled till they could hardly stand. What was that? A groan, deep and thrilling as if it came from the agony of Nature herself—a sound as of a tortured Titan on the rock—came moaning sullenly past. It deepened: it swelled into a roar. The horses were down, cowering like frightened spaniels. And then we felt the solid earth heave and swell like surging water beneath is, and a swift shiver made the ground reel, and we dropped to our hands and knees. The earthquake! It was come in its terrors. What was that in the valley beneath? A great fissure was gaping in the earth, like the mouth of some devouring monster, stretching, widening fast—fast—quicker than I can describe it. We saw the dark chasm yawn like huge jaws hungry for prey. Then another shock came: we were prostrate, sickened, and giddy. The moans of the horses at our side were the only sounds audible. Crash! I saw the dust rise thickly where the huts of the herdsmen had fallen in. I saw the stout stockade give way like straws in a whirlwind, and the horses and the few cattle left, crouching huddled up together. But the house stood firm, with its fair white walls of hewn stone, though the trees around were snapping and breaking, the shrubs torn up, the ground bursting as if a mine had exploded. There were loud shrieks. I saw the fluttering garments of women, the fairy figures of the two children in the veranda, the outstretched arms, the wild gestures, and I heard the despairing cry for aid. But fast toward the house extended the dreadful chasm, yawning, widening, splitting asunder the firm earth with giant force: its huge jaws opened as if to devour the home and its inmates. The sight gave new strength to the husband and father. He sprang up, though his feet could hardly cling to the heaving ground. I caught his arm and held him fast.

"Let me go!" he cried; "they call me. Let me go, or—"

In his madness, in his bitter despair, he would have struck me with his hunting-knife had I not released him. And yet by that momentary restraint I saved his life, worthless as the boon may have seemed to him, for in the next instant we were both flung helpless to the ground by a more violent shock. I glanced up; I saw the house quiver and reel; I saw the chasm open and swallow it up, with all its living inmates, and I pressed my hands upon my eyes to shut out the horrid sight. When the last shock passed away I looked again. The fissure had closed, all but a narrow rift, nearly choked with broken fragments of the ruins. Trees, bushes, earth, and stones lay tossed about in confusion. Nothing was unaltered. A few instants had changed the face of all familiar objects. Wilson lay beside me, senseless and livid. The horses were still in their ague-fit of fear. Two men only were standing unharmed where the huts of the herdsmen had stood. They were my guide and the Indian peon. Poor Wilson! he lay long ill of a brain-fever at San Juan de los Llanos, and when he recovered he was a broken man. The bodies of the dear ones he had lost were never seen more by mortal eye. His despair has done the work of years upon him, has made him what you see. The band is wailing its last tune. Shall we walk? And, old fellow, just one more cigar!  


ON page 229 we reproduce two of the sketches sent us by our artist, Mr. Angelo Wiser, with the Burnside Expedition. One of them represents the LANDING OF OUR TROOPS below the forts of Newbern, our gun-boats shelling the woods; the other, the BOMBARDMENT OF NEWBERN by the gun-boats, showing a distant view of the burning city. We gave a full account of the battle in our last paper, to which we refer.

On page 225 we show a BOMB-PROOF BATTERY AT NEWBERN, taken by our troops under General Burnside, from a sketch by Mr. Wiser. The battery is so strong, and the shelter for the gunners so thorough, that it seems incredible that our gallant fellows should have taken it with so little loss.

Tennessee Battle Map




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