Burnside's Retreat From Fredericksburg


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, December 27, 1862

Welcome to our collection of online Civil War newspapers. We have posted all the Harper's Weekly newspapers that were printed during the Civil War. This site allows access to this incredible historical resource to allow you to develop a deeper understanding of this period in American History.

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Battle of Fredericksburg

Battle of Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg Battle Description

Description of  Battle of Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg Retreat

Burnside's Retreat After Fredericksburg

Map Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg Map

War in the Rear

War from the Rear

The Fredericksburg Bombardment

The Fredericksburg Bombardment

The Forlorn Hope

The Forlorn Hope



Fredericksburg Bombardment

Bombardment of Fredericksburg

Behind the Lines

Behind the Lines







DECEMBER 27, 1862.]



government; that its avowed object is to open the slave-trade and extend the area and confirm the condition of human slavery—an object which would disgrace Dahomey or a Polynesian Prince—an object, also, which is totally repugnant to the spirit and the history of your own country, is all of no avail, against—what? Why, my dear John, against an organic hatred of our system and principle. For; look at it. The vindication of this Government by the suppression of the rebellion will be the proof of the superior force of a popular to any form of aristocratic Government. It is the justification of John Bright against all Toryism: of the News against the Times: of John Stuart Mill and Cairnes against Blackwood: of the people of England against the aristocracy. Do you think the governing class can think of such a result with patience?

But more than that, our success leaves us with a vast and powerful fleet built in the light of the most advanced science. We emerge from the war not only a commercial but a naval nation, and with a navy of iron. How do you think old Wooden-Walls likes that ? Still again, we emerge with a national hatred of the governing influence of Great Britain, but with a vast army and great navy and the habit of war. Nor that only; but this warlike nation, hating England, emerges with the knowledge that it holds fast one hand of England by its cotton, and the other by its grain. Do you suppose that is an inspiring thought for the surly aristocrat, who walks under your hat and calls himself by your name?

But look here, John Bull. Do not for a moment suppose that I confound the generous part of you with the mean. The mean part, although the most cultivated, the richest, the most intelligent, has not hesitated at inventing and uttering the most infamous falsehoods about me. It has called use sordid, cowardly, stupid, mad, ferocious, grasping, unjust. It has declared that I was destroying all guarantees of liberty, and trying to throttle a noble, chivalric, and deserving brother. But it has consoled itself by the thought that financial ruin, starvation, and at last utter anarchy and riot, would compel me to yield to destruction. It has asserted that by waging an infamous war I kept the cotton from your looms and the bread from your mouth. But you have been wiser, though you were the sufferer. You know that a wanton effort to destroy me is making by the growers of cotton, who hope that your want of it will compel you to help them. They have not persuaded you, but they have found the heart of your alter ego already theirs.

And now, John, I want you to understand that I know this and honor you. Your cause is mine; for we are both children of the people. I am, to be sure, engaged in a hard fight, but I was never more prosperous. My fields during the year have grown use wheat for the world. My work-shops are active. My cities and towns were never more quiet. Bad men, who are the friends of your enemies here, try to annoy me. I have been forced to learn how to fight while I was fighting, and the delay has caused you to suffer sorely. But here are ships full of food for you, and here are hearts full of sympathy and gratitude. I am overflowing and you are empty; and I am glad enough to have the chance of sending to you a proof of my steady appreciation and friendship. Remember in all time to come that the cause of an aristocracy can never be the cause of the people. I have learned that. It is the aristocracy which is now seeking my life. If it kill me, your hopes are slain. If I conquer it, you may look at me to see your future. Good-by, John.   Your Cousin,



THERE is one military arrangement which should certainly be corrected; and that is the mingling of convalescent and discharged soldiers and deserters in the same camp. There is a great camp, a kind of military settlement at Alexandria, where this is done; and the treatment of the convalescents in particular demands a much more charitable consideration than it has yet secured. The Sanitary Commission is not unmindful of then, but its special function is with the really sick and suffering; and a separate bureau or department might wisely be instituted for this purpose. We hear of one parish that has sent within a few months two hundred dozens of backgammon boards, heaps of foot-balls, and games of every kind for the amusement of the soldiers who are getting well. Of course any generous hand may stuff the boards with tracts of the most earnest and persuasive kind. But in sending them, don't forget the games and balls. Sick people must play. They can't read tracts all the time. When they have read they must have exercise; and they can not comfortably play checkers with "the Dairyman's Daughter," nor kick "The Midnight Bell" as high as the sky.

And let it be remembered that the longer the war lasts the more stringent is the demand for every kind of supply that has been hitherto furnished to the Commission. The most skeptical now see and confess its great service to the life and health of the army. Its operations, although in conformity to the military departments, are yet carried on independently. Its supplies reached the needy at Antietam forty-eight hours before those of the regular Government authorities; and its traveling hospital and pharmacy and sick commissariat moves in the van of the army. Meanwhile its faithful and devoted agents neither tire nor flinch. The Sanitary Commission is an illustration of the results attainable by the direct application of common sense to the emergency. It is, of course, exactly what the Sanitary Department of the army ought to be. But it was the department which outsiders could equally well organize and conduct. If every department had been managed with a similar sole regard to the accomplishment of its intention, why then—why then, things would have been different.

For the convalescents, also, reading of a pleasant, not professedly pious, kind is also most desirable.

Magazines, light books, newspapers, are always welcome. The current illustrated newspapers are especially interesting to them. A shower of such as ours falling into the camp every week would be most refreshing and fertilizing. The veterans like to see the faces of their heroes, and the places whore they have fought. But whatever you may choose to send bear them in mind, the brave boys who are recovering from wounds and sickness, fallen to them in serving us with their health and lives.


WHETHER Dr. Barney and Mr. J. Wesley Green are men of straw or not the object of the reports about them is clear enough. They are put forth as feelers of the public pulse. The men who mean that the Government shall be destroyed by surrender to the rebellion endeavor, by spreading the stories that propositions of peace have been offered by the rebels, to ascertain whether the nation is yet ready to end the war with any thing less than actual victory.

The organs of the reaction do not hesitate to throw off the thin veil of loyalty, and to declare that the war can end in one way only; that is, by a convention and negotiation. Now the object of all of us should be to deal with facts. How then can there be a convention or negotiation except by the virtual admission of the Government that it can not maintain its full authority? For if the Government is to be maintained without change there is clearly no need of a convention. If it is to be changed, then the rebellion is successful. Certain citizens have risen in arms against the Government, not because they have been oppressed, but because they think that they may be, and because they do not like a Government which they can not control. If now that Government asks them "Upon what terms will you return to your obedience?" it confesses that it is not strong enough to compel their obedience. But if that be so, the Government will be always at the mercy of any faction which chooses to take up arms. It will be the old story. It will be Mexico.

If the rebels, for instance, should return to their loyalty as citizens because the nation agreed that they should reopen the slave-trade and carry their slaves, without question, into the Territories, we should merely have invited them to demand any other privilege at the point of the bayonet, and we should have justified the rebellion of any other section that chose to believe itself aggrieved. Then suppose that some of the Free States should take up arms and demand that the representation of slaves should cease—would there be another convention, and would they be tempted back by the concession of their demands?

It is true that a really powerful Government has sometimes granted demands irregularly made; and it has been wisely done. But those were grants by conscious power. If the Government had refused and denied those demands through a desperate war of two years, and then granted them, it would be only because it was conquered and could not help itself. We speak of an armistice; but what is it? It is a temporary truce. In this case it would be a truce to give time for negotiation. But negotiation for what? The Government exists, and the rebels make war upon it. Therefore a negotiation can only be an arrangement of terms upon which they will submit. Thus it comes precisely to the same point. If we do not accept their terms, they will take up arms again. If we do accept them, they are the masters of the situation.

They may or may not have made propositions. But as the "Conservative party"—heaven save the mark!—desire the submission of the Government to rebellion, under the name of negotiation and convention, and, for the sake of obtaining political power, would unquestionably give any guarantee for the protection and extension of slavery that might be required, we propose to hold our own eyes open, and to help others, that every thing may be clearly seen and understood.


SOME months since an admirable Society was formed in Chicago, called the Protective War-Claim Association, the object of which is to secure to soldiers or sailors and their families any claims for pay or pensions, etc., at the least cost to the claimants.

The field for such a benevolence is evident at once to any one who thinks of the condition of the great mass of the soldiers and sailors, ignorant of legal processes and compelled to rely upon the services of claim-agents, who can do very much as they please, even to buying up the claims at a small fraction of their real value. The sharpers—for, sad to say! even the legal profession is not without such—are and have long been already at their work. Many a faithful fellow from the army or the navy has been copiously swindled. The evil drew the attention of thoughtful men, and by a very simple plan they seek to avoid it.

The first essential is, that the movers and managers shall be men entirely above suspicion of self-interest in the matter; and the second is, that their characters shall be a sufficient guarantee of their active supervision of the operations. A third essential is, that the soldiers and sailors shall know both of the existence of the Association and of the fact that it is managed in good faith, like the Sanitary Commission, for their benefit. Let them understand, therefore, that the precise objects are—1st, To secure their claims at the least cost; 2d, To protect them and their families from imposture and fraud; 3d, To prevent false claims from being made against the Government; 4th, To give gratuitous advice and information to soldiers and sailors and their families.

The members of the Association have contributed a sufficient sum to establish it; and the necessary expenses will be met by the percentage allowed upon the collection of claims. For the present these are: one dollar for sums of fifty dollars or less; two and a half dollars for every one hundred

dollars more than fifty; and upon claims for pensions the smallest possible legal charge. 'Thus the working of the Association will be the Board of Directors and the claim-agents whom they shall employ.

The great necessity of such a society and its practical benefits are obvious enough. There should be in every State affiliated associations. Chicago begins and New England answers. The head-quarters of the New England Association are in Boston. The Chief Justice of Massachusetts is its President, and honorable and conspicuous citizens of all parties and faiths are among its Directors. We beg every soldier and sailor who may chance to read these lines to remember the friendly hands and hearts that are opened to him, and to tell his neighbor. And how soon will New York move? While our brave soldiers and sailors are delivering us from the hands of rebels let us hasten to save them from those of sharpers.


AN Irishman lost his hat in a well, and was let down in a bucket to recover it; the well being deep, and extremely dark withal, his courage failed him before he reached the water. In vain did he call to those above him to pull him up; they lent a deaf ear to all he said—till at last, quite in despair, he bellowed out: "Be St. Patrick, if ye don't draw me up, sure I'll cut the rope!"

A little fellow weeping, piteously was suddenly interrupted by some amusing occurrence. He hushed his cries for a moment—the train of thought was broken. "Ma," said he, renewing his snuffle, and wishing to have his cry out—"Ma, ugh! ugh! what was I crying about just now?"

The Irish Parliament, in 1784, sent a bill limiting the privilege of franking to England for the royal approbation. One clause enacted, "That should a member be unable to write, he might authorize another person to frank for him, provided that on the back of the letter so franked the member gives a certificate, under his hand, of his inability to write."

A man at Newcastle, who served four days on a jury, says he is so full of law that it is hard work for him to keep from cheating somebody.

A person speaking to a very deaf man, and getting angry at his not catching his meaning, said, "Why, it is as plain as A B C." "That may be, Sir," replied the poor man; "but I am D E F."

"How well he plays for one so young," said Mrs. Partington, as the organ-boy performed with the monkey near the door; "and how much his little brother looks like him to be sure!"



ON Wednesday, December 10, in the Senate, a resolution directing the Military Committee to inquire into the expediency of reporting a bill forfeiting the pay and emoluments of officers of the army during the time they are absent, except when upon sick leave, was adopted. The bill for the relief of the owners of the French ship Jules et Marie was taken up and passed. The House bill providing for the discharge of State prisoners, and authorizing Judges of the United States Courts to take bail and recognizances to secure their trial, was taken up and ordered to be printed, and postponed until to-day. Senator Henderson, of Missouri, gave notice that he should introduce a bill to aid the State of Missouri in effecting the emancipation of the slaves of that State—In the House, the Senate bill providing for the admission of the State of Western Virginia into the Union was passed by a vote of 96 against 55. A resolution was adopted calling on the Secretary of War for a statement of the number and grade of every officer absent from their commands; the number of major and brigadier generals not assigned to actual commands, and the names and grade of their staffs; the number of aids-de-camp that may be dispensed with, etc. The Committee of Ways and Means were instructed to bring in a bill amending the eleventh section of the Excise and Tax law, in order to confer upon assistant assessors the same authority that is possessed by the principal assessors.

On Thursday, 11th, in the Senate, a resolution was adopted instructing the Committee on Finance to inquire into the expediency of allowing Surat cotton to be imported into the United States upon the payment of the same duties as for cotton imported from beyond the Cape of Good Hope. The President sent in a Message recommending a vote of thanks to Lieutenant George W. Morris and Lieutenant John L. Worden, the commanders respectively of the sloop of war Cumberland and iron battery Monitor, for gallant conduct in the action with the rebel steamer Merrimac; referred. The resolution relative to the arbitrary arrests of certain citizens of Delaware was then taken up and discussed till the adjournment—In the House, a resolution providing armed vessels to convoy ships laden with provisions for the starving operatives of England was introduced, but objection was made to its consideration. The bill appropriating $9500 indemnity for damages received by the French ship Jules et Marie by collision with the United States steamer San Jacinto was passed. A message from the President, recommending that John L. Worden receive the thanks of Congress by resolution for his gallant conduct on the Monitor in combat with the Merrimac, such thanks being necessary under the law to advance him one grade in the naval list of officers of the navy, was referred to the Naval Committee. Mr. Roscoe Conkling asked leave to report a bill to establish a uniform system of bankruptcy, with an amendment, in the nature of a substitute, and desired that a day should be assigned for its consideration. Resolutions were offered declaring the President's emancipation not warranted by the Constitution; that the policy of emancipation, as predicated in the proclamation, is not calculated to hasten the restoration of peace, is not well chosen as a war measure, and is an assumption of power dangerous to the rights of citizens and the perpetuity of a free government. On motion of Mr. Lovejoy the resolutions were laid on the table by a vote of ninety-four against forty-five. The House then went into Committee of the Whole and discussed the President's plan of negro emancipation.

On Friday, 12th, in the Senate, a resolution was offered directing the Military Committee to inquire into the expediency of allowing to enlisted men now in the service of the United States, entitled to a bounty of one hundred dollars before the passage of the act of 1862, the same advance bounty as was allowed to enlisted men by that act; and also what legislation is necessary to secure more prompt and speedy payment of the troops in the field and hospitals. The Senate then adjourned till Monday.—The House was not in session.

On Monday, 15th, in the Senate, Senator Davis, of Kentucky, offered a resolution, which was laid on the table, declaring that after it had become manifest that an insurrection against the United States was about to break out in several Southern States, James Buchanan, then President, from sympathy with the conspirators and their treasonable projects, failed to take the necessary and proper measures to prevent it; wherefore he should receive the censure and condemnation of the Senate and of the American people. A resolution requesting the President, if not inconsistent with the public interests, to transmit to the Senate the report and accompanying documents of Hon. Reverdy Johnson as Commissioner of the United States during last summer at New Orleans, was adopted. Senator Wright, of Indiana, offered a resolution, which was also adopted, that the Committee on the Judiciary be instructed to inquire into the expediency of providing by act of Congress that any loyal citizen of the United States, who has

sustained damages from the troops of the States engaged in the present rebellion, may set off such damages against any claim or demand against him in any action at law by any such rebellious States, or the agents or trustees of such States, or in any case where such claim or demand it for the use or benefit of such States. A resolution instructing the Committee on Foreign Relations to inquire whether some method can not be devised to manifest the sympathy of Congress with the suffering Lancashire operatives was ordered to be printed. The resolution calling for information relative to arbitrary arrests in Delaware was taken up, and Senator Davis made a speech, arguing that the President had no authority, under this Constitution, to make such arrests.—In the House, a resolution, declaring that in the judgment of the House there should be no legislation changing the existing laws providing for the payment of interest on the public debt in coin, was adopted by a vote of eighty-one against twenty-four, and a joint resolution, that the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States be and is hereby authorized and empowered to pay in coin any portion of the bonded public debt maturing and falling due previous to the first day of January, 1864, was referred to the Committee of Ways and Means. Mr. Colfax introduced a bill to reduce the duties on paper from thirty-five down to ten per centum. It was referred to this Committee on Ways and Means. Mr. Noell, of Missouri, introduced a bill, which was referred, to procure the abolishment of slavery in Missouri and provide compensation to loyal owners. A resolution was adopted instructing the Committee on Ways and Means to inquire into the expediency of revising the tariff, increasing the duty on foreign goods not of prime necessity, so that the importation of foreign goods shall not exceed the amount exported of American growth and manufacture, exclusive of specie. A resolution indorsing the President's emancipation proclamation was adopted by a vote of seventy-eight against fifty-one. The Army Appropriation bill was reported and made the special order for Thursday. The first proposition for peace was introduced by Mr. Conway, of Kansas, who offered a resolution in effect dissolving the Union, and acknowledging the independence of the Confederate States. It was laid on the table—Mr. Conway being the only one who voted in the negative. In Committee of the Whole, Mr. Cox, of Ohio, delivered a speech on the topic, of the President's Message and the removal of General McClellan, and at the conclusion of his remarks the House adjourned.

On Tuesday, 16th, in the Senate, the resolution censuring ex-President Buchanan for his course respecting the rebellion was laid on the table. The consideration of the subject of arbitrary arrests of citizens was postponed till next day. The death of Representative Luther Hanchett, of Wisconsin, was then announced, the customary resolutions of respect and condolence adopted, and the Senate adjourned.—In the House, on motion of Mr. Cox, of Ohio, it was resolved that the Secretary of the Treasury be directed to furnish to the House a statement of the amount of the United States loan created in 1841, and extended by act of April 15, 1842, which falls due during the present year, and also the names of those who are registered as the owners thereof, and such information as the Department may possess as to the actual ownership thereof; and that he communicate to this House a copy or copies of any memorial or memorials addressed to him or to the Treasury Department, proposing or soliciting a special medium of payment to the owners or holders of said loan, and whether he proposes to pay said loan in coin. The consideration of Mr. Stevens's resolution, declaring that the Union must be and remain one and indivisible forever, and that it would be a high crime to advise or accept peace propositions on any other terms, was postponed for three weeks. The West point Academy appropriation bill was passed. A bill for the removal of the Sioux Indians, and the sale of their lands, was referred. The decease of Mr. Hanchett, of Wisconsin, was announced, the usual resolutions were adopted, and the House adjourned.


We publish on page 830 an account of the bombardment of Fredericksburg, and the successful crossing of the river. On the following day, Saturday, 13th the fight was renewed. It is stated that 40,000 men of our army were engaged against a large force of the rebels. Franklin, on the left, gained some ground. Sumner, on the right and centre, attacked the first line of the rebel defenses, but was repulsed. The loss of life was very great. On Sunday, 14th, the battle was not renewed. There was some artillery firing in the morning, but it ceased about noon.


During the storm and darkness of Monday night General Burnside succeeded in making good his retreat across the Rappahannock without attracting the attention of the enemy. The artillery was first moved over, the infantry bringing up the rear, and reaching the north bank safely a short time after daylight. The pontoon bridges were then removed, and the communication between the two shores was effectually cut off.


From Cairo we learn that General Hovey's expedition on the Mississippi has returned to Helena, Arkansas. The results of the expedition are one hundred and sixty rebels killed, wounded, and captured, and our loss thirty-four killed, wounded, and missing. The army of General Sherman has returned to Memphis. The rebel army of Mississippi is said to be between Jackson and Canton. General Grant is still at Oxford with his forces.


Twelve regiments left New been on 6th, probably to make an attack on Weldon and Petersburg. On 7th two transports and five gun-boats ascended the Chowan River, and a land force of ten thousand were seen in motion from Suffolk, indicating a movement on Weldon.


According to the news brought by the schooner Alice, which arrived at this port last week from Point Petre, Gaudaloupe, the Alabama ran into port at Martinique, after robbing and destroying by fire the ships Levi Starbuck of New Bedford, and the T. B. Wales of Boston. The United States steamer San Jacinto, Commander Ronckendorff, being off the port went in pursuit, and found her there. During the ensuing night, however, with the aid of the French authorities, she made her escape. She is said to have since returned to Martinique: the San Jacinto is watching her.


General McClellan was examined last week on the trial of General McDowell, and his testimony was of intense interest, detailing, as it did, the plans of the campaign on the peninsula. Among other things he said: "I have no doubt, for it has ever been my opinion, that the Army of the Potomac would have taken Richmond had not the corps of General McDowell been separated from it. It is also my opinion that had the command of General M'Dowell joined the Army of the Potomac in the month of May, by way of Hanover Court House from Fredericksburg, we would have had Richmond in a week after the junction."


General Bragg has gone to Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Joe Johnston now commands the rebel army of East Tennessee. The citizens of that section are in a state of insurrection against Jeff Davis's conscript law. Large numbers of them are up in arms in Charlotte.


The election, for Members of Congress for the First and Second Districts in Louisiana, held on the 3d instant, have resulted in the choice of two unconditional Union men, Messrs. B. F. Flanders and Michael Hahn. Mr. Jacob Barker, whom the New Orleans Delta calls "the negro-worshiping and rebel candidate," was defeated, at which the Delta rejoices.


Governor Johnson has issued a proclamation providing for an election of representatives for the Ninth and Tenth Congressional Districts of Tennessee. He says it is believed that a large majority of the voters in these districts have given evidence of loyalty and allegiance to the Constitution and laws; but no disloyal person is to be permitted to vote.




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