General Corcoran


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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.



ON page 545 we present a portrait of BRIGADIER-GENERAL MICHAEL CORCORAN, whose release from captivity has been one of the most interesting events of the past week.

General Michael Corcoran was born in Ireland, but came to this country at a very early age. He engaged in various employments here, and at the time the war broke out was employed as a clerk in the New York Post-office. He had always evinced a fondness for soldiering, and had risen, by his attention to drill and his devotion to the interests of the regiment, from the rank of private to that of Colonel of the Sixty-ninth Regiment New York State Militia. He first rose into notice when the Prince of Wales was here, by refusing to turn out his regiment in honor of the nation's guest. His conduct at the time was the subject of severe animadversion, and he was even court-martialed for it. It will suffice to say that for that offense no one will be disposed to censure him now. If Prince Albert Edward were to come here to-morrow there is not a Colonel in the service who would willingly pay honor to the heir to the throne of a country which has treated us as England has done during the past year. At the outbreak of the war Colonel Corcoran was one of the first Colonels who reported a regiment ready; and early in April, 1861, the gallant Sixty-ninth marched down Broadway 1300 strong. They were stationed for some time on Arlington Heights, where they left a substantial token of their visit in the shape of Fort Corcoran. Their term of service expired on the 20th July, and they were then entitled to return to their homes. But a battle was imminent, and after a heart-stirring appeal from Colonel Corcoran, the entire regiment decided to see it out. At Bull Run they behaved with gallantry, and won the praise of their General. Unfortunately, in the retreat the Colonel got separated from his men, and was taken prisoner. This was thirteen months ago. During that time General Corcoran has endured privations of all kinds, in prison at Richmond, Charleston, Columbia, and Salisbury—suffering slights and insults beyond all imagination; badly fed, badly lodged, badly treated by brutal jailors; constantly deluded by false promises of liberty which were always broken. And now the gallant fellow is back with us again, and ready and eager to fight once more under the glorious old Flag. At his reception at Washington he said:

SOLDIERS AND CITIZENS.—For this kindly greeting on my arrival I return you my most fervent thanks. Such cheers as those just given I have not heard for thirteen months, nor is it possible for such a cheer to come from any other people than those actuated by the principles which move the men I see before me, marching, as they are, to the maintenance and support of the outraged laws of this glorious Union. There is nothing of the yell of the tiger or hyena in those cheers. They remind me of the cheers I heard on the Fourth of July at Salisbury, North Carolina, for the maintenance of the glorious institutions under which we have lived. [Immense applause.] Massachusetts has always done well, and taken a great part in all the struggles of the past. It does my heart good to see that she has come forth with redoubled vigor with the best of her children, who will, I hope, strike such a blow as will crush the miscreants that have dared to raise the flag of this infamous rebellion. [Cheers, and cries "We will, we will"] I hope to hear a good account of the men who are now before me. I know I shall. I hope that New York will send forth her thousands to your Massachusetts' thousand, and I am satisfied that, with the hearty co-operation of the other States, we shall soon put an end to this rebellion. Gentlemen, I had hoped the whole matter would have been settled ere now; but I do not regret that I am now here and shall be permitted to take my musket in my hand, if in no other position, and strike one more blow against our enemies. I hope the number that has been called for by the President of the United States will come forward voluntarily and enroll themselves in their country's cause; but I shall not regret if some are obliged to be drafted, for I want a few of the fault-finders—[Cheers and cries of "Good, good!"]—some of the stay-at-home military critics to have an opportunity of displaying their imaginary genius. I shall not be sorry either, for I want to see the lukewarm men, the men who remain at home and mind their business, and after peace is restored by the labor and the blood of their more patriotic neighbors, will be the first to take advantage of every thing good in the country they are unworthy of and unwilling to sustain in the hour of her need. I want those men made to fill up the ranks, and shall not regret if there is no other way of getting them to draft them. [Cries of "Good, good!"] I am glad to find on my return here that the Government has adopted vigorous measures for the prosecution of the war, and that Congress has clothed the Executive with ample power to do so. I trust the President implicitly. I would see him invested with unlimited power to crush the rebellion. The rebels have given to their chief leader dictatorial powers, and we must meet force with force. If the power of the loyal people is put forth now the rebellion will be broken and the Union sustained and restored. Gentlemen, I did not intend to make a speech—[Cries of "Go on, go on!" and cheers]—and will reserve any further remarks a may have to make to a future occasion.

The public learn with satisfaction that the President, in consideration of his captivity and his heroism, has appointed him a Brigadier-General, his commission to date from the Battle of Bull Run.




THE Army of the Potomac has evacuated Harrison's Landing without the loss of a gun or a dollar's worth of property, and is on its way to new fields of battle. We trust that the military critics who so highly eulogized General Beauregard for evacuating Corinth, and General Johnson for evacuating Manassas without being molested by our armies, will render to General McClellan his due meed of praise for having, under circumstances of far greater difficulty, accomplished this last evacuation with at least equal success.

Whether our troops ought ever to have gone to a place from which it required consummate generalship to extricate them; whether General McClellan would not have acted more wisely in turning back from Yorktown as soon as he ascertained

that the civilian commanders at Washington had upset his plans for the campaign on the Peninsula, by depriving him of the army of 40,000 men led by General McDowell, are questions which can safely be left open for discussion when the war is over. It is easy to understand the reasons which may have induced General McClellan to persevere in his expedition even against the dictates of his judgment. But this is no time to consider them.

What we have to do now is to beat the enemy, and this, with God's help, we are in a better position to do now than we ever were. The Army of the Potomac, consisting of fully 80,000 veterans, will soon be co-operating with the Army of Virginia. Regiments are pouring into Washington at the rate of seven or eight a day. By the 1st September more than the first 300,000 men will be in the field, and by 1st October the second 300,000 will likewise be under arms. We shall then have 1,000,000 of men actually fighting the rebels, and a reserve of fully 100,000 in camp at home to fill vacancies by death. This force, in cool, healthy weather, led by generals of tried courage and experience, ought to finish the rebellion before the end of the winter.


WE devoted some space last week to illustrations of three new iron-clad vessels which are being built for the navy. The subject is worth notice in this column. Very few persons are aware that we are building a navy which will not only be more powerful than that of any other nation in the world, but which will be equal in strength to the combined navies of the entire European world.

When the rebellion broke out our navy consisted of 88 vessels, of which 43 were sailing craft and 9 store-ships, leaving 36 effective steam vessels of war. When Secretary Welles made his last report to Congress our navy consisted of 202 vessels, a majority of which were propelled by steam. Included in this list were 23 steam gun-boats of about 500 tons each, all of which were constructed for Government, and have proved excellent vessels for the blockade; 8 larger steam gun-boats, of about 1000 tons each, built by Government (the Tuscarora belongs to this class); 10 side-wheel steamers of about 800 tons each, similar in build to the Octorora; 37 purchased side-wheel steamers converted into gun-boats; 42 purchased screw-steamers converted into gun-boats; 13 ships, 18 barks, and 20 schooners, all purchased for Government, and now serving either on the blockade or as mortar vessels. For naval warfare in American waters this fleet will compare favorably with that of any foreign nation. In our waters—which are the only ones in which we are likely to engage in naval warfare—the heavy line-of-battle ships of European Powers could not manoeuvre. Our light-draft vessels, armed with heavy guns, would sink them at leisure.

But the events of the past year have made it plain that naval battles hereafter must be fought not with the "wooden walls" celebrated in song, but with iron hulls. Iron-clad gun-boats are going to win every naval battle that is won in the present generation. The nation which has the most and the best iron-clad navy will be mistress of the seas.

Great Britain has at the present time three iron-clad men of war afloat—the Warrior, the Black Prince, and the Defense; all large vessels drawing too much water to enter any American port except Portland, or perhaps New York at very high tides. She has twelve more vessels building of the same class; viz., four of 6600 tons, five of 4000 tons, and three of 3500 or 3000 tons. Of these it is hoped that four will be afloat this year. Captain Coles, the man who pirated Captain Ericsson's invention of turrets, is razeeing one or two three-deckers, which will be ready some time next year. Thus, sometime in 1863, Great Britain will have a fleet of iron-clad vessels. Whether any of them will be able to approach any American port near enough to fulfill the threat of the London Times and bombard our cities seems doubtful. The Warrior could not enter any American port except Portland, even Halle could steam across the ocean, which her recent trip justifies us in considering highly unlikely. Recent experiments have, moreover, shown that the plating of the Warrior and the other vessels of her class, however efficacious it may be against the old smooth-bore thirty-twos, would not resist the impinging force of a 100-pounder Parrott shot, or to Dahlgren 13-inch solid shot. These projectiles would go right through the Warrior. When our forts and iron-clad vessels are armed with these new cannon, therefore, it will be safe to conclude that the iron-clad navy of England will be powerless against us.

France is said to have 6 iron-clad vessels afloat, after the fashion of La Gloire, and 11 more on the stocks. These vessels are not more heavily plated than the British craft of the same class, and they have never been to sea. Besides these the Emperor has constructed a very large number of gun-boat-batteries, partially iron-plated, intended to land troops on soil not far distant from the coast of France. These vessels are said to be strong enough to repel shot from old-fashioned smooth-bore guns. As, however,

they are not calculated to cross the ocean, they possess no interest for us.

The United States have 14 iron-clad vessels afloat. Of these, 11 are Mississippi River boats, mostly plated with 2 1/2 inch iron, and though very serviceable against forts or wooden boats, not calculated to fight craft like the Monitor or the Arkansas. Four of these 11, including the Essex, Commodore Foote's flag-ship, were purchased by the Government; the others, including the famous Benton and Carondelet, were built on contract for Government at St. Louis. They are good boats and have done good service, but they are not up to the times. The remaining 3 iron-clads now in the service of the Government are the Monitor, the Galena, and the Naugatuck. The latter is hardly worth enumerating, and is not likely to figure prominently in the ranks of our navy. The merit of the Galena remains to be tested. Naval officers, as a rule, have very little faith in her. At Fort Darling, the rebel shot went through and through her 3-inch plating, and many men were wounded by the dislocation of the bolts and nuts which fasten her bulwarks together. She rendered good service to the Union army at the battle of July 1; but we are inclined to think that her future career will not be very active. Of the Monitor it is needless to say any thing.

Besides these, the Government is building new iron-clad vessels in every ship-yard in the country. The exact number of vessels contracted for and actually in process of construction can not be ascertained. But it is certain that the following craft are being built:

1. The Ironsides, a frigate, 18 guns, plated with 4i-inch plates, nearly ready, at Philadelphia. She will be the most formidable vessel in our navy when she is completed. She carries two most formidable 100-pound rifled guns, and is said to draw only 14 feet of water. If she fulfills the expectations of her builders, she will be the finest iron-clad vessel afloat.

2. The Roanoke, razeed from a first-class 40-gun steam sloop to a Monitor battery, plated with 4 1/2-inch plates, with three turrets. She will not be ready for sixty days yet, but when she is ready, she will be very formidable indeed. She will carry six 15-inch Dahlgren guns.

3. The Whitney Battery, a vessel with turrets like the Monitor's, but differing from them in being a ram as well as a gun-boat, in having its sides inclined so as to shed shot, and in having fixed turrets and movable guns. She is only 160 feet long, and will have two turrets, with an 11-inch gun in each. She will be ready for service about 30th September.

4. The Quintard Battery, also a turreted vessel, with two turrets and two guns in each: generally very similar to the Monitor's. She will be ready in two months.

5. Ten Monitors, larger than the vessel which fought the Merrimac, each with one turret containing two guns. These vessels will be 200 feet long, and will be improvements in many respects upon the original Monitor. The first of them will be ready for service about September 10, and the last of the ten about October 20, if the contractors fulfill their engagement. They are being constructed at Boston, Greenpoint, Hoboken, Jersey City, Chester, and Wilmington, Delaware. Most of them are being built under the direction of Mr. T. F. Rowland, of this city. The three which are being built at Greenpoint are to be named respectively the Passaic, Montauk, and Catskill.

6. Two Ericsson Monitors, of 320 and 340 feet in length, the former with one, the latter with two turrets. These vessels will be the most powerful vessels in the navy. They will be so built as to secure a high degree of speed, and will be very serviceable as rams, being, as Captain Ericsson says, capable of splitting an iceberg. They will carry 16-inch guns, which are being cast specially for them at Pittsburg. These vessels will be ready in the course of next summer; they would be able to sink such vessels as the Warrior in short order. They have been named by Mr. Lincoln Puritan and Dictator.

7. Ten iron-plated gun-boats for service on the Mississippi and Ohio, drawing 2 feet water, plated with 2 1/2-inch iron, and carrying 2 heavy guns. They are to be ready in about six weeks.

8. Three river Monitors, to wit: the Chillicothe, 162 feet, the Indianola, 170, and the Tuscumbia, 170. These vessels will each carry two 168-pound guns in a turret, plated with 3-inch iron. They will draw from 34 to 48 inches.

9. A tremendous ram, 7000 tons, to be built by William H. Webb, of this city, at a cost of $1,250,000. She is to have two turrets, and to be plated all over with 6-inch iron. Her chief use, however, will be as a ram, for which purpose she is to steam 18 miles an hour.

Besides these, there is a large Monitor building for service on the Pacific coast, and one or two other large iron-clads contracted for under circumstances of great secrecy by the Navy Department. We presume we are not out of the way when we say that by 1st January next we shall have twenty first-class iron-clads afloat—vessels capable of running any batteries in the world, and sinking, in a short time, any vessels in the navies of Europe. We take for granted that, if it became necessary, the large iron-clads which Captain Ericsson and Mr. Rowland are constructing could sail up the Thames to London

Bridge with perfect impunity, sinking every war-vessel they found in their way, and could dictate terms to the British over the ruins of the House of Lords.

We are not building any iron-clad vessels on the lakes, for the reason that the treaty with England forbids any thing of the kind. An effort is being made to induce the Government to widen the locks on the Erie Canal so as to enable our Monitors to pass through into the lakes, if necessary. This will merely prove an expensive job. It would be far cheaper and more sensible to negotiate with Great Britain for the independence of Canada, which would render it unnecessary to provide for the safety of our cities on the lakes.



THE rebels are certainly frank. They tell us plainly and in the most contemptuous way that they come of a master race, and we Northerners and Northern emigrants of a subject and slave race. They disdainfully declare that they have always ruled us—that they are our born masters—that they have whipped us in like hounds before, and that they will do it again; that we are peddling knaves and cowards, who would gladly sell our souls for sixpence, and who instinctively crawl upon the ground before the chivalrous gentlemen of the South.

Well, fellow-Northerners, they will make their words good unless we believe in ourselves as heartily as they in themselves. They have ranged their class and their civilization against ours. It is useless to disguise the scope of the contest. Their system must be annihilated or ours must. We must conquer and subdue them utterly or they will absolutely overcome us. After sixteen months of war they are flushed with hope and confidence; but their purpose is no stronger now than ever. They have always meant conquest of the North. They hoped it would come by peaceable secession, and then a peaceable surrender of the North under the name of reconstruction. But they believe now that the same practical result can be achieved without separation.

And there is but one thing that can help it; that the resolution of the North that they shall be exterminated, if extermination is necessary to our success. And when once we have that deep and inexorable determination, we shall succeed without exterminating them. For we shall disintegrate their society. We shall make the foundations of their social system quiver and shake beneath their feet. We shall fill the sky with blackness over them and the air with terror around them. Rather than that they shall be victorious over this Government and ruin the foundations of civil order, the death and horror and desolation in which they would ingulf us all shall yawn for them. Who are they, and for what purpose is it, that they are to disturb with fire and blood, and infinite loss and anguish, the peace in which we were all living—a peace which provided every peaceful remedy for difference or complaint? They have brought the sword against us. Let them feel the edge of that sword in all its sharpness, rather than that it shall prevail against us.

Not a hair of their heads would we have injured. They laughed us to scorn and called us cowards. Gladly would we have borne and forborne. They sneered with the insolent defiance of the barbarism in which they delight to wallow. For the sake of Liberty we strained Peace almost to pusillanimity. For the sake of Slavery they rushed with fierce joy into the cruelest war. In the name of Justice let them have that war to the utmost.

When that is the feeling of this nation we shall not be troubled about McClellan's army, nor anxious about the Virginia campaign, nor quaking, as we are at this moment, lest Washington be taken; but the quaking and the fear will be in the hearts of those who, having sworn to save Slavery or die, hear at last the voice of the awaking wrath of Liberty—a wrath which, once aroused, they can no more resist than dead leaves in the forest can withstand the equinoctial gale.


OLD Bat, the statesman, who haunts the grocery at the corner of 245th Street, said the other day that he was a better Union man than the President, and he could prove it. "The President," said he, "doesn't like slavery, and would be glad to see it ended. But I am for saving the Union either by carrying Liberty to the Gulf or Slavery to the Lakes."

The Bat school of statesmen is tolerably large. They plume themselves upon their peculiar patriotism. "You Abolitionists," they cry, "are very ready to shout save the Union, when it means destroy Slavery. Are you equally ready to save it by destroying Liberty?"

When they put the question so, they put it fairly; and the reply may be equally plain—we are all willing to suffer temporary deprivations of Liberty for the sake of saving the fundamental law which secures permanent Liberty. It is upon the same principle that we are willing to suffer a painful surgical operation that we may be free from pain afterward. But when you ask us whether, in order to save a Government which was established to secure personal and political liberty, we are willing to be deprived of that liberty forever, you ask an absurdity. You might as well wonder whether, in order to save his life, a man would be willing that his heart should be cut out. That would be the destruction of his life. To save the Government by destroying Liberty is equally impossible.

Honest men are giving their lives, their time, and their money, and mean to give and suffer to the end to save the Union. But what is the Union? (Next Page)




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