Destruction of the Rebel Ram "Arkansas"


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, August 30, 1862

This site gives you access to our online archive of the Harper's Weekly newspaper published during the Civil War. This collection features incredible illustrations created by eye-witnesses to some of the most important events in American History.

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


General Corcoran

General Corcoran

General Corcoran

General Corcoran

Rebel Ram "Arkansas"

Destruction of the "Arkansas"

Robert L. McCook

Robert L. McCook

Morgan's Raid

Morgan's Raid

Stonewall Jackson

General Stonewall Jackson

Cedar Mountain

Cedar Mountain

Battle of Cedar Mountain

Battle of Cedar Mountain (cont.)

John Morgan Raid

John Morgan's Raid

Stevenson, Alabama

Stevenson, Alabama

Sigel's Corps

Sigel's Corps

Battle of Cedar Mountain

The Battle of Cedar Mountain

Civil War Cartoons

Civil War Cartoons










AUGUST 30, 1862.]



(Previous Page) It is a political organization for specified purposes. They are not fighting for the Union merely because it is a Union, for it might exist for inhuman and nefarious ends. The combination of pirate vessels into a pirate fleet is a union by which more money might be made than by the separate ships; but it would be a union more despicable and dangerous in the exact degree that it was larger and stronger. The great multitude of citizens are fighting to the death for this Union because they believe with all their hearts in the objects it was founded to secure and in the certainty of its securing them. And the great end of that Union is to give every man the fairest possible chance. In its formation it supposed and intended that by this time all artificial distinctions would have been removed, and that the general equality of opportunity would have secured the general welfare.

To ask, therefore, whether you would not extend Slavery all over the land to save the Union is to ask the supremely silly question whether you would not put out your eyes to save your sight. Remember that the Union is so priceless because by its lawful operation it secures to every man the largest liberty of thought, speech, and action. And it is because the only privileged class in the country saw that the lawful working of the Union was going to secure more liberty than they thought compatible with their continued monopoly of the Government that they are now trying so hard to dissolve the Union. Let us say to them that we will willingly extend Slavery to save it and they will clasp us to their hearts. They say and believe that they are our natural masters. They will be entirely justified in saying so when Bat speaks for the country.


"You call for severity," says some doubting you ; "but was it ever found that a system of fire and sword in war was a wise system? Is there not common sense in war as in every thing else; and may you not conduct it so savagely as to drive the enemy into desperation, when a more moderate method would have induced them to surrender?"

Certainly you may. But does any body but Jeff Davis and John Bull insinuate that the Government has waged this war savagely? Read any account of the treatment of our prisoners in Richmond, Salisbury, Montgomery, or Charleston, and the filth, the poison, the foul food, the sickening inhumanity of treatment are revolting. On the other hand, do you suppose that the rebel prisoners at Camp Douglas, on Delaware Island, or elsewhere, suffer? Do you suppose Soule is stifled in indescribable nastiness at Fort Lafayette? Do you not know that our own captains were turned out of their comfortable quarters at Fort Warren to accommodate the wretched old Mason and Slidell; and that the Baltimore prisoners in the same fort received every luxury from people in Boston? Have we boiled bones and carved skulls? Have we hung men of rebellious sympathies?

No: no man will charge upon the Government any undue harshness in the conduct of the war hitherto. It began by declaring privateersmen to be pirates, but its roaring was that of a sucking dove. It has taken thousands of prisoners—many, like Buckner, aggravated traitors. Did it try even that man, that, if found guilty, there might be an example? No; it has exchanged him. With the exception of some guerrillas shot upon the spot like other noxious vermin, has there been any solitary instance of rebel life taken except upon the battle-field? None; none at all.

Nor does any one ask for an inhuman or savage policy now. All that is asked is that we understand that we are at war, and that we use every lawful means of warfare. Having found that tufts of grass and twigs lightly thrown will not drive the enemy away, let us try stones. Having been forced to rely upon war, let us show those who have invoked it that we are more terrible in its use than they; that if they hit, we shall hit harder; that if we bleed, they shall bleed more copiously; that if we suffer, they shall endure anguish.

The severity that drives an enemy to despair is wanton cruelty. It is the conduct of the British in India and China, a conduct in war which makes them the most hated of nations. But British brutality stands alone. The magnanimous Britons alone blow men from the cannon's mouth because they do not side with heartless foreigners against their own country. They alone deliver young wives, nearly mothers, to the disemboweling knife of barbarians. The energy in the prosecution of this war which is demanded by all loyal men is neither torture nor wanton suffering, but the sternest use of every weapon of war.


THERE has been some question whether General Pope's order for our troops to live upon the enemy, and not to guard the property of rebels, is not an abandonment of the country to the rapine of our own soldiers. Several letters have been printed from the seat of war in Virginia apprehending the demoralizing effect of the order upon our own men, and fearing that all discipline would be destroyed.

But this fear arises from a misunderstanding. The order of living upon the enemy does not mean allowing robbery and ravage of every kind. It means simply that all property within our lines is to be occupied by the military authorities, and appropriated to our use under military regulations, and that when we move all that can not be of service to us shall be destroyed, that it may not serve the rebels. To secure this result it must, of course, be guarded. But instead of guarding it for the enemy, it will be held by ourselves for ourselves. The object of the order is to prevent the protection of property intended to help the overthrow of the Government. The result of it will be the necessity of every man's deciding whether he will take the chance of safety under our Government or under the rebellion.

Two soldiers of our army in Virginia came to a farm-house and begged for some water. The

virago in charge said that if they were Confederates they might drink and welcome; if not, they might go hang. Finding the chance hopeless the soldiers went off. The next day the woman sent to our Commanding General for a guard to protect her house and property against stragglers! So when we went into Maryland, the secession disunionists were overrun with a vast crowd of customers, who paid for what otherwise would have had no sale at all, and paid in gold, which was immediately converted into shot and shell to kill loyal men and destroy the Government. General Pope's order is intended to make such absurdity impossible. To expect to make Union men out of Secessionists by showing them that they may rebel in perfect safety, is as wise as to try to extract sun-beams from cucumbers. It is an alchemy in which General Pope does not believe.

There is one argument, and one only, which will make Union men, and that is the lesson of hard experience that the Government is overwhelmingly powerful and superior, and respects itself enough to make its enemies suffer.


IT is an interesting inquiry why Mr. Soule is shut up in Fort Lafayette and Mr. Vallandigham is not. Mr. Vallandigham urges people to do what Mr. Soule has done. Engaged in a mortal struggle for its existence, the Government is straining every nerve, and Mr. Vallandigham exhorts citizens to resist it passively. The friend of the rebel leaders, conspicuous in his subservience to every nod of the aristocratic faction which has brought all the desolation of this war upon the country, Mr. Vallandigham now virtually counsels surrender to their infamous insurrection.

If it be asked if he has not a right to his opinion and to the expression of it, the reply is, that the necessities of war supersede the privileges of peace. The right of absolutely free discussion upon the rights and wrongs of secession was allowed down to the beginning of hostilities by the rebels. The very day after the capture of Sumter, even, there were voices in this city in favor of yielding to the conspiracy.

But when war began debate ended. Open justification of the rebels became, under the changed circumstances, an act of rebellion. Words were things. Orators who tried to deaden public ardor, newspapers which strove to paralyze the national arm by every kind of appeal to ignorance and prejudice, were dealt with, and justly, as conspirators aiding and abetting. The man who endeavors to turn aside the officer who is upon the track of an accomplice, actually committing a murder, is not less criminal than the murderer. So the man who, by tongue or pen, aims to weaken the public mind in such a solemn and critical moment as this—and as the whole last year has been—is not less criminal than if he fought against us with arms.

If Mr. Vallandigham were detected in sending to Jeff Davis an accurate account of the number, distribution, and purpose of Pope's army, should he be sheltered from punishment by the plea that, as an American citizen, he had a perfect right to get and use information of public matters as he chose? The reply would be, whoever chooses to help our enemies does it at his peril. So, when he tries to persuade men not to support the Government against the rebellion, he helps our enemies; and he should do it at his peril.

Criticism of the causes of the war, or of its conduct, if they are made in an evident and sincere spirit of loyalty, however sharp they may be, are tolerable, for they assume the justice of the cause. But a man who thinks the war wrong, the Government tyrannical, the rebels right, even if a little irregular, is a man who ought not to be allowed to help them by his words in the desperate moment of the struggle.

This is the temporary denial of free speech. Of course it is. It is a temporary suspension of individual freedom that the very guarantee of all permanent freedom may be secured. It is the denial of the privilege to the private soldier of trying to raise a mutiny in the ranks on the very battlefield. This is the temporary limitation of free speech to which every true lover of liberty in the land gladly submits, and of which only rebels and rebel sympathizers complain. If Mr. Vallandigham thinks the rebels right, let him hold his tongue. If he says so, when their hand is on our throat, let his tongue be held.


The Lounger most cordially sympathizes with the suggestion of his correspondent:

"DEAR MR. LOUNGER,—Since the war began you have been so serious in your columns that I have not dared to write to you; but I have something to say now, which I think you will listen to.

"The other morning I wanted a few spools of thread and a piece of tape, and put on my bonnet and ran to Haberdasher & Co.'s to get them. It was a warm day and there were not many people in the street, and when I got into the shop I was quite confused by the number of young men who came politely forward and asked to serve me with what I wished. They were not the foolish, simpering fellows of whom there are so many pictures and so much fun in Punch; but they seemed to be quick, intelligent, and well-bred.

"I bought my thread and tape, and as I sauntered home, thinking of my brother Ned, who is with Pope in Virginia, I saw upon a pile of bricks a poster headed 'Recruits wanted.' Of course we all know that they are wanted. We know how much is left undone for the want of men. Yes, Mr. Lounger, and I know that if women would answer it would be left undone no longer.

"Now we women are as much interested in the war as you men. The Southern women, indeed, are said to be the main-stay of the rebellion, and the Northern women have been the chief solace and cure of our wounded soldiers. How they have worked in every way that women can, to help the great cause! And yet there is one other way. It is this. Let some of us do the work of Haberdasher & Co.'s clerks, and let them go to the war. At the Sanitary Commission rooms, and the hospitals, etc., there are as many women as can be made useful. But I—and I am sure there are plenty like me—would willingly take the places of these young men until they return. We

can sell thread and measure ribbon and do up tape, perhaps not as well as they, but well enough for the purpose.

"Of course there are many of them who have mothers and sisters and families dependent upon them who could not easily go. But they ought to remember that business will revive only with peace, and if the war continues they must, many of them, lose their places. Then there are a great many who have nobody but themselves to look after, and they might surely go.

"I write to you, hoping that you will print my letter, and that they may see it. If they do, I hope they will think seriously of what I say. I can not put it in pretty language, but it means just the same. It means that I, for one, do not believe that a man hasn't a soul above buttons merely because he sells them; and I don't believe that a man can not handle a rifle skillfully because he is nimble with the yard-stick. At least, let's try, Mr. Lounger.

"Your faithful friend and constant reader,

         "LUCY LAMB."




How sweet is thy Amina!

How bewitching thy Zerlina!

How seldom has there been a

More tunable Norina!

And have I ever seen a

More enjoyable Rosina?

But to tell the praise I mean a-

Las! there should have been a

Score more rhymes to ADELINA.

THE WEATHER AGAIN.—Heine said (exulting in the cool gloom of a cathedral in a real July) that Roman Catholicism was a very good religion for the summer. If so, no wonder the Pope feels discouraged this year.

Charles Incledon was proverbial for the coolness with which he regarded the turbulence of an audience. He always listened to the "storm" with the utmost nonchalance, and occasionally addressed the noisy tenants of Olympus. One evening he was prevented from singing by a dire conflict in the most classical part of the house; and after pacing the stage for some time, "nursing his wrath to keep it warm," he pulled his watch deliberately from his fob, and thus addressed them: "Ladies and gentlemen, if you would contrive to finish this row in a quarter of an hour, I would esteem it as a particular favor. I'm engaged to sup with a friend at half past eleven, and I have very little time to spare." This good-humored rebuke had the desired effect, and the belligerent parties "grounded arms" immediately.

Ask a lady her age, and the information contained in her reply will probably not be reliable; but inquire the age of her dearest friend, and the answer may be implicitly believed.

A spiteful old bachelor says of the new style of bonnets: "Their only redeeming feature is, they afford room for a small conservatory on the top of the head."

A Scotch paper tells the story of a dairy farmer who, after the burial of his wife, drove a hard bargain with the grave-digger, who, bringing his hand down on his shovel, exclaims, "Down wi' anither shillin', or up she comes!"

A boarding-house keeper advertises "Board for two gentlemen with gas."

The law is a pretty bird, and has charming wings. 'Twould be quite a bird of Paradise if it didn't carry such a terrible bill.

Peace can do a good deal toward making a gentleman, but war is more likely to finish him.

IRISH ADVERTISEMENTS.—The following is considered rather a good specimen of an Irish advertisement: "If the gentleman who keeps a shoe-shop with a red head will return the umbrella which he borrowed of a young lady with an ivory handle, he will hear of something to her advantage."

A merchant in Burlington having sunk his shop floor a few feet, announces that, "in consequence of recent improvements, goods will be sold much lower than formerly."

Old fools are more foolish than young ones; they have had much longer practice.

The farmer is a conqueror who wins victories upon important fields—at the point of the plow-share.

A man under sentence of death by hanging asked the sheriff, the evening previous to the execution, "I say, Mr. Sheriff, at what hour is that little affair of mine coming off?"

A sound discretion is not so much indicated by never making a mistake as by never repeating one.


FOR an account of the Battle of Cedar Mountain and the attack on Baton Rouge see pages 558 and 559.



Ordered—First—That after the 15th day of this month bounty and advance pay shall not be paid to volunteers for any new regiments, but only to volunteers for regiments now in the field and volunteers to fill up new regiments now organizing, but not yet full.

Second—Volunteers to fill up new regiments now organizing will be received and paid the bounty and advance pay until the 22d day of this month; and, if not completed by that time, the incomplete regiments will be consolidated and superfluous officers mustered out.

Third—Volunteers to fill up the old regiments will be received and paid the bounty and advance pay until the 1st day of September.

Fourth—The draft for three hundred thousand militia, called for by the President, will be made on Wednesday, the 3d day of September, between the hours of nine o'clock A.M. and five o'clock P.M., and continue from day to day, between the same hours, until completed.

Fifth—If the old regiments should not be filled up by volunteers before the 1st day of September a special draft will be ordered for the deficiency.

Sixth—The exigencies of the service require that officers now in the field should remain with their commands, and no officer now in the field, in the regular or volunteer service, will, under any circumstances, be detailed to accept a new command.

By order of the PRESIDENT.

EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.


WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, Aug. 14, 1862. Ordered—Eighth—That in filling all requisitions for militia the quotas of the several States will be apportioned by the Governors among the several counties, and, where practicable, among the subdivisions of counties, so that allowance shall be made to such counties and subdivisions for all volunteers heretofore furnished by them and mustered into the service of the United States, and whose stipulated term of service shall not have expired.

EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.


The news from General McClellan's army is very important. The whole force has been removed from Harrison's

Landing to Williamsburg without the loss of a single man or any of the Government property. The movement has been most successfully carried out, even in the face of a subtle foe.


Major Fifield has succeeded in capturing several hundred bags of flour belonging to the rebel States, amounting to about 12,000 pounds. Contrabands report that Jackson's army has been considerably reinforced from Richmond. The Union army now occupies the line of the Rapidan from Raccoon Ford to Cave's Ford, with pickets beyond. General Siegel, who is in the advance, has driven back that part of the enemy's force which attempted to cross the river on the morning of the 16th inst. Late dispatches state that a general advance toward the Rapidan was made on 17th. All was quiet up to one o'clock in the afternoon, the rebels not disputing the movement.




Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy:

SIR,—On the evening of the 4th inst. I was informed by General Williams, commanding the United States forces at this port, that the enemy, in considerable strength, was moving on this place.

The rebel ram Arkansas, with two gun-boats from the Red River—the Webb and Music—were also in the vicinity of the city to support the attack of the rebel army.

I made such a disposition of the naval force under my command as I thought would give the most aid to our small force on shore.

On the morning of the 5th inst., at one o'clock, the enemy made an attack on our land forces, and drove in the left wing of our army, killing General Williams. Our men retreating, I opened fire from the Essex with shot and shell over them on the advancing enemy, and turned them back with considerable loss. It was doubtless the intention of the enemy to make a simultaneous attack by land and water, but the fire of the Essex driving the rebels back evidently disconcerted their plans.

Though not making her appearance, I had information of the vicinity of the ram Arkansas about four miles above my anchorage on the river, and this morning I determined to steam up the river, attack her, and, if possible, prevent her rendering further assistance to the land forces she was co-operating with. At ten A.M. I came in sight of her at about the distance of half a mile, and immediately opened fire. After an action of about twenty minutes I succeeded in setting her on fire, and at meridian she blew up with a tremendous explosion.

The Arkansas had a crew of one hundred and eighty men and mounted ten guns—six 8-inch and four 50-pounder rifled cannon. This vessel—the Essex—mounts seven guns, and had only forty men on duty at the time of our going into action. My First Master, Mr. R. K. Riley, was in the sick hospital, and his place was supplied by Second Master David Porter Rosenmiller, who conducted himself to my entire satisfaction.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,   W. D. PORTER, Commanding Division of Flotilla in Western Waters.


John F. Fiske has resigned the Speakership of the Kentucky Legislature, and James F. Robinson, a well-known Union man, has been elected in his stead. Governor Magoffin has also resigned his office, and Robinson, therefore, becomes Governor de facto for the remainder of Magoffin's unexpired term. M. Johnson, of Lexington, also a Union man, has been elected Secretary of State. These resignations and elections virtually restore Kentucky entirely to the Union, as by the resignation of J. B. Temple, Acting-Governor Robinson becomes President of the Military Board.


A number of Union prisoners from General Pope's army had arrived in Richmond. They were put "in solitary confinement, in conformity with instructions, and the rule, as enforced, will not be departed from under any consideration whatever." Among the prisoners was Brigadier-General Prince and thirty-four officers.


General Butler, in New Orleans, is determined to carry out the order of making the rebels pay some of the expenses of the war. He has taken a list of all those who subscribed to aid the Southern Confederacy. These merchants and others agreed to pay the amount of a million and a quarter of dollars to that cause. He has therefore taxed them, and all the cotton brokers who advised the planters not to bring down their cotton so as to secure foreign intervention, to the tune of over three hundred and forty thousand dollars to help maintain the poor of New Orleans.


Archbishop Hughes delivered a most important and patriotic sermon on 17th, in St. Patrick's Cathedral. After reciting his course of action in Europe, he calls upon tho whole North to come out in its strength, for "volunteering to continue and for a draft to be made." He said that if three hundred thousand men were not enough, to call out another three hundred thousand. "The people should insist on being drafted, and so bring this unnatural strife to a close" by strength of might alone.


The papers publish a correspondence between the rebel commander and the General-in-Chief relative to repudiation of paroles and oaths of allegiance. The language of the rebel General Lee's communications is considered by General Halleck to be "couched in language exceedingly insulting to the Government of the United States," and he has therefore "declined to receive them." They were, therefore, returned unanswered, except as above quoted.


The election in North Carolina has turned out to be a victory for the moderate men who are accused of Unionism. The ultra secesh candidates for every office have been defeated by an overwhelming majority, and Vance (Union) has carried the State for Governor against Johnson (Rebel) by a surplus of forty thousand votes.



THE Queen, in a speech proroguing Parliament, says: "Civil war, which for some time has been raging in America, has unfortunately continued in unabated intensity, and the evils with which it has been attended have not been confined to the American continent; but her Majesty, having from the outset determined to take no part in the contest, has seen no reason to depart from the neutrality which she has steadily adhered to."


In the House of Lords Earl Stratheden moved for the correspondence with Mr. Mason relative to the acknowledgment of the Southern States. Earl Russell said it was not expedient to produce papers. The agent of the Confederate States was not recognized, and all communications were unofficial. Correspondence had taken place with Messrs. Adams and Seward, but the British Government replied as before. He stated that no communication had been received from any foreign Power relative to the recognition of the Southern States. Earl Malmesbury suggested that the Government should communicate with other Powers, with a view of offering mediation If a favorable opportunity arises, to which Earl Russell agreed that if mediation is offered all Powers should join in it. The motion was finally withdrawn.



It is reported that the French Council of State are trying to devise means to render France independent of America for cotton.




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