Capture of Red Bill


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, August 16, 1862

Welcome to our online archive of Harper's Weekly newspapers from the Civil War. This important archive allows you to "drill down" and study the Civil War in a level of detail never before possible. This collection documents the key events of the conflict.

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


John Morgan

John Morgan

Lincoln Institutes the Draft

Lincoln Institutes the Draft

Lincoln's Draft Order

Abraham Lincoln's Draft Order

War in Alabama

The War in Alabama

Capture of Red Bill

Capture of Red Bill

The Pirate Ship Sumter

Pirate Ship "Sumter"

Sumter's Officer Journal

Journal from Sumter Officer

On Board the Sumter

On Board the Sumter

Franklin's Corps

General Franklin's Corps

McClellan's Prayer Service

General McClellan's Prayer Service

Battle of Fairoaks

The Battle of Fairoaks

Mississippi River

Mississippi River

Slave Cartoons

Slave Cartoons










AUGUST 16, 1862.]



"It all depends, my dear madam, on Mrs. Bygrave. I trust we shall stay through the autumn. You are settled at Sea-View Cottage, I presume, for the season?"

"You must ask my master, Sir. It is for him to decide, not for me."

The answer was an unfortunate one. Mr. Noel Vanstone had been secretly annoyed by the change in the walking arrangements which had separated him from Magdalen. He attributed that change to the meddling influence of Mrs. Lecount, and he now took the earliest opportunity of resenting it on the spot.

"I have nothing to do with our stay at Aldborough," he broke out, peevishly. "You know as well as I do, Lecount, it all depends on you.Mrs. Lecount has a brother in Switzerland," he went on, addressing himself to the captain—" a brother who is seriously ill. If he gets worse, she will have to go there and sec him. I can't accompany her, and I can't be left in the house by myself. I shall have to break up my establishment at Aldborough, and stay with some friends. It all depends on you, Lecount—or on your brother, which comes to the same thing. If it depended on me," continued Mr. Noel Vanstone, looking pointedly at Magdalen across the housekeeper, "I should stay at Aldborough all through the autumn with the greatest pleasure. With the greatest pleasure," he reiterated, repeating the words with a tender look for Magdalen, and a spiteful accent for Mrs. Lecount.

Thus far Captain Wragge had remained silent, carefully noting in his mind the promising possibilities of a separation between Mrs. Lecount and her master, which Mr. Noel Vanstone's little fretful outbreak had just disclosed to him. An ominous trembling in the house-keeper's thin lips, as her master openly exposed her family affairs before strangers, and openly set her jealousy at defiance, now warned him to interfere. If the misunderstanding were permitted to proceed to extremities, there was a chance that the invitation for that evening to Sea-View Cottage might he put off. Now, as ever, equal to the occasion, Captain Wragge called his useful information once more to the rescue. Under the learned auspices of Joyce he plunged for the third time into the ocean of science and brought up another pearl. He was still haranguing (on Pneumatics this time), still improving Mrs. Lecount's mind with his politest perseverance and his smoothest flow of language, when the walking party stopped at Mr. Noel Vanstone's door.

"Bless my soul, here we are at your house, Sir!" said the captain, interrupting himself in the middle of one of his graphic sentences. "I won't keep you standing a moment. Not a word of apology, Mrs. Lecount, I beg and pray! I will put that curious point in Pneumatics more clearly before you on a future occasion. In the meant time, I need only repeat that you can perform the experiment I have just mentioned to your own entire satisfaction with a bladder, an exhausted receiver, and a square box. At seven o'clock this evening, Sir—at seven o'clock, Mrs. Lecount. We have had a remarkably pleasant walk, and a most instructive interchange of ideas. Now, my dear girl, your aunt is waiting for us."

While Mrs. Lecount stepped aside to open the garden gate Mr. Noel Vanstone seized his opportunity, and shot a last tender glance at Magdalen— under shelter of the umbrella, which he had taken into his own hands for that express purpose. "Don't forget," he said, with his sweetest smile, "don't forget, when you come this evening, to wear that charming hat!" Before he could add any last words Mrs. Lecount glided back to her place, and the sheltering umbrella changed hands again immediately.

"An excellent morning's work!" said Captain Wragge, as he and Magdalen walked on together to North Shingles. " You and I and Joyce have all three done wonders. We have secured a friendly invitation at the first day's fishing for it."

He paused for an answer; and receiving none, observed Magdalen more attentively than he had observed her yet. Her face had turned deadly pale again, her eyes looked out mechanically straight before her in heedless, reckless despair.

"What is the matter?" he asked, with the greatest surprise. "Are you ill?"

She made no reply; she hardly seemed to hear him.

"Are you getting alarmed about Mrs. Lecount?" he inquired next. "There is not the least reason for alarm. She may fancy she has heard something like your voice before, but your face evidently bewilders her. Keep your temper, and you keep her in the dark. Keep her in the dark, and you will put that two hundred pounds into my hands before the autumn is over."

He waited again for an answer, and again she remained silent. The captain tried for the third time in another direction.

"Did you get any letters this morning?" he went on. "Is there bad news again from home? Any fresh difficulties with your sister?"

Say nothing about my sister!" she broke out, passionately. "Neither you nor I are fit to speak of her."

She said those words at the garden gate, and hurried into the house by herself. He followed her, and heard the door of her own room violently shut to, violently locked and double locked. Solacing his indignation by an oath, Captain Wragge sullenly went into one of the parlors on the ground-floor to look after his wife. The room communicated with a smaller and darker room at the back of the house by means of a quaint little door, with a window in the upper half of it. Softly approaching this door, the captain lifted the white muslin curtain which hung over the window, and looked into the inner room.

There was Mrs. Wragge, with her cap on one

side, and her shoes down at heel; with a row of pins between her teeth; with the Oriental Cashmere Robe slowly slipping off the table; with her scissors suspended uncertain in one hand, and her written directions for dressmaking held doubtfully in the other—so absorbed over the invincible difficulties of her employment as to be perfectly unconscious that she was at that moment the object of her husband's superintending eye. Under other circumstances she would have been soon brought to a sense of her situation by the sound of his voice. But Captain Wragge was too anxious about Magdalen to waste any time on his wife, after satisfying himself that she was safe in her seclusion, and that she might be trusted to remain there.

He left the parlor, and after a little hesitation in the passage, stole up stairs and listened anxiously outside Magdalen's door. A dull sound of sobbing—a sound stifled in her handkerchief, or stifled in the bed-clothes—was all that caught his ear. He returned at once to the ground-floor, with some faint suspicion of the truth dawning on his mind at last.

"The devil take that sweet-heart of hers!" thought the captain. "Mr. Noel Vanstone has raised the ghost of him at starting."


WE illustrate on pages 513 and 518 some interesting scenes of General Mitchell's campaign in North Alabama. Our pictures are from sketches by Mr. Hubner, of the Third Ohio, who thus describes them:


"A part of Mitchell's division, under command of Colonel Lytle, Tenth Ohio Volunteers, Third Ohio Volunteers, Colonel J. Beatty, Coldwater Battery, Captain Loomis (Michigan Artillery), were sent to Decatur, which place they held until the rebels with overwhelming forces, under command of General Price, advanced on us. We prevented the rebels from following us by burning the bridge, also the railroad depot. Mitchell took possession of every boat, even of the smallest skiff, for twenty miles up and down the river, so the rebels had not the slightest means to cross.

"Captain Loomis did good work. His boys are the finest set of men I have ever seen.

"The bridge was a beautiful one, built of wood and iron, and 1700 yards long.


"After our arrival at Huntsville our gallant leader, General Mitchell, who was much pleased with our conduct, sent us immediately to Bridgeport, Jackson County, twenty-four miles above Chattanooga (a small place of about six or eight houses), where another force of the rebels, under General Ledbetter, was advancing. We drove them back, burned a small bridge, and Loomis shelled them out of their camp, which was situated about a mile from the shore of the river.


"On our way from Bridgeport back to Huntsville two of our men got shot by some bushwhackers, who fired on our train out of the bushes in the vicinity of Paint Rock. Colonel J. Beatty stopped the train and sent several detachments in pursuit of the rebels. One party went to the town and captured four or five of the band; another party, under command of Captain McDougal, Company H, Third Regiment Ohio Volunteers, went into a cave which is in the neighborhood of Paint Rock. A slave negro led the way. The entrance of the cave is not easily detected. It is half hidden by bushes and rocks. We had to walk some distance with heads bent; but soon the cave got wider and wider, and looked like a church with fine columns and arches, strange formations of the dropping limestone. The red blaze of the torches produced a strange and beautiful effect. Often it seemed to us that we saw human figures in the deep shadow, often we raised our trusty rifles, but found we were aiming at some curious limestone formation. We went about two miles into the cave, found signs of occasional visits by human beings, and the negro assured us it was in fact a hiding-place of a guerrilla band.

"We had to go back when the torches burned down. There are many side caves and abysses, and without light it is a most dangerous place. The cave is five miles long, and has several outlets.

"We went back to where our train stopped. The other party arrived with the prisoners. One of them is a captain in some rebel cavalry company. They also found some guns.

"The boys were so enraged Colonel B. could hardly prevent them from hanging the murderers immediately. Some rebel houses were burned.

"Late at night we arrived at Huntsville and delivered the traitors into jail."


WE reproduce on pages 520 and 521 a number of sketches by our special artist, Mr. Theodore R. Davis, representing SCENES ON THE LOWER MISSISSIPPI. Mr. Davis thus describes his pictures:


"The rebels, in burning the cotton of the planters, have made for themselves bitter enemies and for us strong friends. More than one planter told me that until their cotton was burned they were as good Confederate States men as any. Now they would rather give the Yankees every pound of it than have it fall into Confederate hands. They told me also that no planter had burned his own cotton willingly; and that cotton, in small quantities, was hidden in every swamp and bayou in Mississippi, it having been placed upon barges and taken, at high-water, up a then navigable bayou, which may only now be reached by canoes.

"Of the quantity of cotton destroyed I think we have but little comprehension. I was told in Memphis that, some time previous to the occupation of the place by our troops, there started from that city a lawless band of poor whites—baconeating scoundrels, who had never owned a pound of cotton in their lives. These visited the Mississippi on either side, burning and destroying. Up the Arkansas, the Red River, and the Yazoo, not a bale of cotton that they could find escaped the flames. They returned to Memphis, after an absence of five weeks, and reported the destruction of 800.,000 bales of cotton.


"For a long time after the occupation of the city of New Orleans there appeared to be a hesitancy among the people known to be Union, in coming forward and expressing their sentiments.

"The reason for this was soon found to be a fear of a band of desperadoes calling themselves Thugs. They had been in the habit for some years of murdering the citizens of New Orleans whenever and wherever they pleased. These men General Butler at once set about catching, for the purpose of trying, convicting, and punishing them for their crimes. Adams, the two Du Pratts, M'Niel, Leggett, and others, were soon in durance vile at the forts. There then remained but one of the desperadoes uncaptured, Red Bill, and he was soon discovered to be lurking near Lake Salvador, and parties were daily dispatched in quest of him, but for a long time were unsuccessful in their search.

"More definite intelligence reaching the parties in search, a party set out from New Orleans, disguised as fishermen, for Lake Salvador. Arriving at the lake they commenced hauling their seine, and were joined by another party of fishermen, and soon after by Red Bill. On leaving them he was tracked to ins lair. At midnight, by creeping, they surrounded his couch, seized, and bound him. On searching his bed, two pistols and a hatchet were found under his pillow. He told his captors that he had seen the different parties sent to capture him—had talked and drank with them. General Butler will mete out a just punishment to this last of the Thugs, so that he will be no more a terror to the denizens of New Orleans.


"A large portion of the supplies for the rebel army of the Valley of the Mississippi have come from Texas. The mouth of the Red River is the great crossing-place for these supplies. In the sketch two steamers, having barges laden with cattle in tow, are conveying them across the river. This favorite crossing-place is now, however, broken up, as one or more gun-boats are constantly stationed there. The Hon. H. Webb and the Music are now, with the exception of the Arkansas, the only rebel craft on the river. The two former are close prisoners on the Red River.


"Of what was formerly the pretty little town of Grand Gulf there remains now a few chimneys standing. After two warnings not to fire into our transport vessels, and those laden with sick soldiers, which warnings were disregarded, a passing gun-boat took the matter in hand, and demolished the town. Since that event there has been no firing into our vessels, except from Vicksburg.


"Ellis Cliff is probably the strongest position on the river below Vicksburg. The river seems surrounded on three sides by a towering cliff, from 250 to 300 feet in height. From this place our vessels have been frequently fired into by light batteries which are kept on the move from place to place.


"The mortar fleet of Commodore Porter has, by its wonderful efficiency and management, proved itself to be of immense value. I have watched the shells thrown from these vessels to a distance of over two miles, and two out of five shells would be sure to lodge in the earth-works being thrown up by the rebels. It hardly seems possible that a mortar should be capable of such accurate firing. The vessels are concealed in the most ingenious manner, every portion of the spars and rigging being carefully covered with branches of trees and shrubbery; so that at the distance of a mile and a half or two miles it is impossible to see the vessels, moored as they are near the thickly-wooded banks of the river.

"For the information of the many who may not be entirely au fait with the manipulation of the mortar and the mode of working it, I will give a short description of it: The mortar, by means of a mathematical instrument, is pointed at the exact elevation of 45 degrees. A wooden bar, or sight, with a spirit-level attached, is then firmly screwed to the trunnion, and the exact position of the mortar at its elevation of 45 degrees is marked upon it. With the distance to be fired varies the charge of powder, each charge being carefully weighed and placed in the mortar loose, instead of in cartridge. When the distance fired is very great, and the charge of powder in consequence large, the men—to avoid the effect of the heavy concussion—stand on tip-toe and with mouths open. The open mouth allows the sound to reach the inside of the ear-drum, reduces the effect of the concussion, and renders the shock much less severe."

A third picture shows us the SHARP-SHOOTERS OF THE FLEET lying behind the bulwarks on the look-out for rebel sharp-shooters ashore.


WE continue in this number our series of illustrations of the Army of the Potomac, from sketches by Mr. Alfred R. Wand. Mr. Waud writes respecting the illustrations on pages 516 and 517:


"This was a scene to be remembered. It occurred at two A.M. on Sunday, 29th June. The clearing was filled with wagon-trains, shown up

by the glare of fires lighted for the destruction of such stores as it was impossible to convey with the army. Among these the artillery and infantry steadily moved to take up positions for their defense. By the dull glow of the fires guns in position came into sight formed across the field; and occasionally, when a box of cartridges or other inflammable material would explode, the whole scene would be illuminated brightly in all its detail: artillery moving; guns in battery, with the tired cannoniers sleeping around them; wagon-trains forming for a move; soldiers burning stores, con amore, that 'Johnny Reb' might not profit by them; stragglers and sick working their weary way along, and much more, making a scene of the most dramatic character.


"Every Sunday morning an open-air service is held in the camp of head-quarters, at which General McClellan is a punctual attendant. Seated around may be seen generals, with members of the staff, and other officers of the army; sometimes a naval officer, and a few outsiders of various denominations. The attention displayed must be gratifying to the chaplains who officiate, though the gentlemen who represent the Church here are not generally its most brilliant lights. The scene is not without its suggestions. The groups of officers and soldiers, so lately grimed with dust and battle-sweat, and gaunt with fatigue and hunger, refreshed by rest, show few signs of their recent struggles. The sentries, leaning their heads upon their keen sabre-bayonets, join in the hymns—real Ironsides these. The military band takes the place of the organ, preluding and accompanying the hymns, in which few join, and playing for opening and closing voluntaries selections from Traviata. Down below rolls the placid yellow James, and from it arises other sounds: the hoarse roar of letting off steam; the rattling of a cable as a gun-boat or transport conies to an anchor; the shouts of drivers leading their horses splashing into the river to drink; and the spiteful, high-pressure puffing of a propeller looking after its tow. McClellan sits or stands calm and thoughtful through the service, the presence of a stranger drawing one quick, searching glance from him—a look which a sensitive individual would not care to encounter as a delinquent. In dress the General is, of all present, least ostentatious—a plain undress sack without shoulder-straps, pants without a stripe, gaiters, and a gray shirt comprising all. Yet none could fail to see at once in him the commander."


Regarding the illustration on page 524, Mr. Waud writes:

"I send this under the direction of General Sickles and Colonel Hall (his was the only regiment of the Excelsior Brigade that charged). The locality is correct. The line of the men is correct, and the enemy's skirmishers as Hall found them. No hand-to-hand desperate work by demoniac individuals in Zouave dress and caps—the Excelsior Brigade wears the infantry uniform with felt hats. I could not send this at the time as I was flat on my back."


THERE are sounds of fearful meaning struggling through the steadfast pines,

And the pale earth shudders weakly to the tramp of battle lines,

And the bayonets flash defiance where the bright sun on them shines.

Months have gone since first this warning chilled with woe the south wind's heat:

"You have wronged us! you have trampled every right beneath your feet!

And no more with brothers' greetings, hands fast locking, will we meet!"

Then went down the flag of Sumter, and our young men, brave and strong,

Dropped the hands of dancing maidens, closed the lips on jest and song—

Paler grew the mothers' faces, gazing on the eager throng;

And from some the cry went upward, "Oh, my parted household band!

In the fearful hour of conflict face to face my sons shall stand,

God forbid that Death should find one guided by the other's hand!"

Oh the days that lie before us! who shall speak with steady tongue

Of the time when foul Disunion to the breeze its banner flung,

While the writhing, loathsome Hydra, hissing to its standard clung?

Many an old man's lips shall quiver when some fair child at his knee

Asks about his soldier father, dead beside the Tennessee; "Grandpa, when the Union soldiers came, what made the generals flee?

"Mother says they fled one morning, riding swiftly down the hill,

And they made my darling father go with them against his will,

Else he might have been beside, us, with his strong arms round me still."

Many a young man's hair shall whiten with the memory of that day

When he floated down the river, awful in its war array,

And beheld the white smoke curling where last morn his homestead lay.

Yet our soldiers smile right bravely, and with faces toward the foe,

Say, "Oh, let us hear the drum beat and the wild war bugle blow,

Darker glooms the doubt-veiled safety than the danger that we know.

"And the banner left by freedom unto North, South, East, and West,

Still shall lift o'er every city proud and high its eagle crest,

Though from every loyal fireside steps a hero to his rest."




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