British Atrocities


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, February 15, 1862

We have been collecting Harper's Weekly Civil War Newspapers for over 20 years. We are pleased to make these historical documents available online for your research and study. These old newspaper provide perspective on the War that is simply not available anywhere else.

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Civil War Ships

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Foreign Intervention

Trent Affair

British Respond to Trent Affair


The Merrimac

Map Hatteras Inlet

Hatteras Inlet Map

"Nashville" and "Tuscarora"

Slave Torture

Slave Torture

Hatteras Inlet

Hatteras Inlet

British Atrocities

British Atrocities in India

British Atrocities

British Atrocities

Disaster of the Burnside Expedition

Disaster of the Burnside Expedition

William Russell Cartoon

William Russell Carton



Shipwreck of the "City of New York"









[FFEBRUARY 15, 1862.


(Previous Page) time, they were dropped to the ground, and their brains blown out by musketry.

Another execution of a similar nature took place on the 13th of June, at Ferozepore. All the available troops and public establishments were convened to witness the scene. Some of the mutineers were to be hung, and around the gallows, erected during the night previous, the soldiers were drawn up. The mutineers were then brought into the centre, and the proceedings of the general Court-Martial was read. Upon being informed that if they would become Queen's evidence they would be reprieved, twelve of the criminals accepted the offer and were marched to the rear. Two were taken to the gallows. They ascended the ladder with firm steps, and to the last moment betrayed no emotion of fear.

The remaining ten were now led away to the artillery guns, and while their irons were being struck off some cried, "Do not sacrifice the innocent for the guilty!" Two others rejoined, "Hold your sniveling: die men and not cowards—you defended your religion, why then do you crave your lives? Sahibs! they are not Sahibs, they are dogs!" Others then began to upbraid their commanding officer. The wretched beings were quickly fastened to the muzzles of ten guns, charged with blank cartridge. The commanding officer directed port-fires to be lit. "Ready!" "Fire!" and the drama was played out. An eye-witness says: "The scene and stench were overpowering. I felt myself terribly convulsed, and could observe that the numerous native spectators were awe-stricken—that they not only trembled like aspen-leaves, but also changed into unnatural hues. Precaution was not taken to remove the sponge-and-load men from the muzzles of the guns; the consequence was that they were greatly bespattered with blood, and one man in particular received a stunning blow from a shivered arm!"

Another witness, W. H. Russell, LL.D., then as now correspondent of the London Times, wrote as follows :

A French General, in a letter to Sir Colin, expressed his regret that certain violences attributed to some of our officers in cold blood—I presume alluding to Hobson shooting the Princes of Delhi, and things of that sort—but he should know that here there is no cold blood at the sight of a rebel . . . . . . When Neile marched from Allahabad his executions were so numerous and indiscriminate, that one of the officers attached to his column had to remonstrate with him, on the ground that if he depopulated the country he could get no supplies for the men.—Diary, vol. i. p. 222.

And again, the same witness said:

The officer in command (Renaud) was emulous of Neile, and thought he could show equal vigor. In two days forty-two men were hanged on the roadside ; and a batch of twelve men were executed because their faces were "turned the wrong way" when they were met on the march. These severities could not have been justified by the Cawnpore massacre, because they took place before that diabolical act. An officer remonstrated with Renaud, on the ground that if he persisted in this course he would empty the villages and render it impossible to supply the army with provisions.

In another instance Mr. Russell stated that a helpless boy, leading a blind man, sought the protection of an officer of Fusiliers, when the latter drew his revolver, snapped it at the wretched suppliant's head—but it missed fire—cocked and snapped it again and again, until the fourth time, when it went off, and the "boy's life-blood flowed at his feet!"



MARCH, march, march!

Through road, and alley, and street;
Tramp, tramp, tramp!

With weary and aching feet.

Over the thirsty plain,

Over the dreary hill,

Over the dangerous ford,

Over the prairie chill,

Over the tottering bridge,

Over the desolate marsh, Through the mountainous pass, Flinty, and wild, and harsh!

On, on, on!

With weary and aching feet,

From sunset to midnight and dawn, From dawn to the noontide heat.

Tramp, tramp, tramp!

All through the weary night;

Clamp, clamp, clamp! Under the fierce sun's light.

Peering for ambushed foes, Startled with strange alarms, Exhausted and falling out,

Tottering under their arms; Hungry, and cold, and damp,

Weary, and sick, and sore, Pursued, we must tramp or die,

Till the weary march is o'er.

Oh, the sad and solemn marches!

Oh, the long and dreadful marches!

Oh, the forced and midnight marches

Of the troops!

March, march, march!

With banners and pennons gay,

With faces happy and bright,

In the light of the early day;

With the burnished muskets gleaming,

And the blazoned banners beaming,

And every brave heart dreaming

A dream of victory.

On, on, on!

No footstep now moves slow;

Still fleeter and fleeter move,
We are marching on the foe!

Hurry, and hasten, and run,

Move fleetly, we care not how;

We are marching toward the foe, And the toil is nothing now.

No matter how fast we move,

Our hearts are ahead of our feet;
Our faces are toward the foe-

Hurrah! let our steps be fleet!

With our hearts all on the fight-

For never a thought must roam,

As we march toward the foe,

To the loved ones left at home.

No time for tenderness now,

No time for the dreams of love;

To-day the whole world looks on,

To-day we must heroes prove. Then march, march, march!

With hearts and footsteps light;

No hardship in the march,

When we march toward the fight.

Oh, the glory of the marches!

Oh, the thrill of forward marches!

Oh, the prayers that speed the marches

Toward the foe!


March, march, march!

The day is fought and won;

We are following their retreat,

Let us run, run, run!

Fleeter than frightened hares,

Pursue them as they flee,

And cheer, and shout, and sing Wild songs of jubilee;

While every heart keeps time

To the notes of victory.

Dash, dash, dash!

Onward and ever on;

Clash, clash, clash! The foes before us run;

Crash, crash, crash! They are firing as they run.

Tramp, tramp, tramp!

We can think of our sweet-heart now,

And how proudly she will view
Battle laurels on our brow.

We can think of them all at home, Reading the battle news,

And talking of all the brave,

And giving us all our dues.
And so we march, march, march!

In our hearts but a single pain—

The thought of the brave, brave boys

Who will never march again:

The thought of the ones who fell

'Mid the battle's rush and roar, And who ne'er will bivouac

With their camp-mates any more.

'Tis this alone that saddens

The grand pursuing marches!

The glorious forward marches

Of the troops!   HATTIE TYNG.


IN the city of Baltimore lives a lady named—No, we will keep back the real name from publication, and give only an assumed initial, calling her Mrs. D—.

Mrs. D— is the wife of a gentleman engaged in mercantile pursuits. He is neither rich nor socially ambitious; though, by carefulness and attention to business, he has accumulated some property, and lives in good style for a man of his means.

Mrs. D— is very much unlike her husband in some respects. Social ambition is one of her weaknesses. In marrying Mr. D—, whose father had been a mechanic, she felt that she was letting herself down; but, as the puny scion of an old aristocratic family that was decaying for lack of both moral and intellectual force, she wisely accepted the chance of being ingrafted on a more vigorous stock, even though, in her estimation, the quality were inferior. Of this, however, a fair difference of opinion may exist.

By birth and education Mrs. D— considered herself a "lady." That is, a person of superior quality—made of finer stuff—than the great body of the people ; and, for this advantage, entitled to deference and service from those who were held to be graded below her. Toward all persons who ranked in the same grade with her husband, Mrs. D— assumed an air of dignified superiority that offended some and imposed upon others. Assumption always carries weight with a class. Her poverty before marriage—for the family had about exhausted itself by extravagance, dissipation, and want of thrift—had separated her from many early friends; and her marriage with the son of a mechanic, though a strong, true, and rising man, had caused others to drop an acquaintance which had not for some time been looked upon as desirable.

For several years after her marriage Mrs. D—, whose husband could not afford display in living, found it hard work to maintain her standing with any portion of the proud exclusives with whom it was her ambition to associate. Still she was ever at the gate, gliding in upon all accessible occasions, and holding a place by intrusion if not under acknowledged right. By flattery she kept in favor with some, and through them drew to the side of others, whose repellent coldness would have held a sensitive and truly independent mind far in the distance.

Such was Mrs. D—. As her husband's means increased she pressed him closely for a more liberal dispensation thereof at home. To this he yielded, even beyond his own judgment ; but never to an extent that touched his safety. She dressed extravagantly; but he saw that her bills did not exceed a certain sum that could be afforded. Gradually, through elegance of attire and assumed importance, Mrs. D— widened her sphere among
the exclusives, and, in corresponding degree, drew off from certain excellent people, held as inferior, who had rather tolerated than enjoyed her society.

Thus it stands with Mrs. D— at this present writing. To sum her up in a sentence, she is weak, badly educated, proud, vain, unrefined ; the representative of a class of women who imagine themselves vastly superior to other people, but who have scarcely a claim to true womanhood—who call themselves ladies par excellence, yet have scarcely a lady-like quality. Mr. D—, on the contrary, is a man in the true sense. Honorable, brave enough to be independent and outspoken in the face even of public opinion, and with sufficient force

of character to maintain himself in any right action at home or abroad. His wife has learned not only to respect him, but to stand aside when he asserts his will.

To certain women in Baltimore, belonging to this equivocal class, a new excitement offered itself in the presence of United States soldiers, who did the good work of saving that city from self-destruction, as we save a madman by chains. Treason foiled was splenetic in its impotence. Prudence sealed the lips and regulated the public conduct of large numbers of men whose hearts beat pulse for pulse with the open enemies of their country, and who, in all possible ways, gave them aid and comfort; but women could venture upon a larger liberty, and to their discredit must it be recorded, that some, who dressed in "silks and gay attire," wore gold and diamonds, rode in splendid carriages, and claimed to be ladies of the first water, stooped to acts of coarseness and vulgarity that would shame a market-woman. Unprovoked insults were offered to soldiers and officers in the street by these women, who even spat upon them in many instances; thus showing the depraved quality of their minds. Foremost in the practice of these indignities was Mrs. D—, who was encouraged by the class among whom she visited.

One day, fired by the almost insane malice of half a dozen free-talking women, with whom she had been in conference, Mrs. D—, in company with a friend, started forth to enjoy the pain of soldiers and officers subjected to wanton insults, which, because offered by women, they could not resent. Passing a soldier, Mrs. D— purposely dropped her lace-bordered handkerchief. The soldier, under an impulse of politeness—at home he moved in quite as good, and certainly in a more cultivated society than the lady—stepped forward, and lifting the handkerchief from the pavement, offered it to Mrs. D—. There was an instant flash of contempt on her face, and a strong upward curl of her lip. She drew herself back for a moment, like one in surprise at a rudeness, then taking the handkerchief between the tips of her thumb and finger, she held it far from her, like something infected, and, moving to the curb-stone, dropped it in the muddy gutter. Not deigning to glance back at the soldier, she swept away with an air of dignified hauteur that, to her mind, was worthy of a princess. A jeering laugh from some vulgar fellows added to the soldier's momentary feeling of discomfiture.

Proud of her shame, Mrs. D— swept down the street. In the next block she encountered an officer. Throwing upon him a look of supreme contempt, Mrs. D— swerved from the right line of her course, and avoided him by taking a quick circle, that brought her crowding up against a merchant's show-window.

"One of your vile women, in gala dress," remarked the officer to a loyal citizen with whom he was walking.

"No; she is the wife of a Baltimore merchant," was replied—" a Mrs. D—."

"Formerly a servant-maid, or woman of the lowest class, judging from her manners."

"No; Mrs. D— is from one of our best families."

"Heaven save the mark!" ejaculated the officer." If she represents the best, of what style and quality must your worst be? But really, I thought her a woman of the town, and it was on my lip to address her in old Ben Jonson's salutation to the lady of rank who ventured a wanton insult-

'In silk and scarlet walks many a harlot —

Good-morning, Madam!' "

"I wish you had done so," was replied. "It might have suggested the bad reputation she was making for herself in the eyes of all decent people. But is there no way to check these insults?"

"I have made up my mind to check them in all instances where they exceed a certain limit."

"Ah! what is the limit?"

"My judgment of the insult, when it occurs, must determine."

"What will you do?"

"Hold the husband, father, or brother, as the case may be, personally responsible."

"Will the rules of the service permit this?"

"I shall not ask."

"Suppose the husband, brother, or father will not respond?"

"Then I shall govern myself by the law of circumstances. But of one thing you may rest assured—should I make a beginning in this matter I will see the end at all hazards. I do not belong to a quick-blooded race, but the blood once heated cools slowly. When we put our hands to the plow we never look back."

The officer and the citizen walked, conversing, for half an hour, when, being in the eastern part of the city, they took a car and rode up Baltimore Street. In passing Calvert Street the officer bought an extra from a news-boy, and was opening it, when the lady who had swept so haughtily around him not long before entered the car with her friend. Seeing the officer, Mrs. D— gave a short, contemptuous "Oh!" and sat down just opposite. From her sneering face the officer dropped his eyes quietly to the paper he had just opened, and began reading. Mrs. D— at once commenced talking aloud to her friend, and using the most offensive remarks touching the soldiers and the people of the States from which they had come. This she continued, the apparent unconsciousness of the officer increasing her irritation, and causing her to almost exhaust the vocabulary of low invective. As if she were not present, the officer read on. At last the car was in the neighborhood to which Mrs. D— was going, and she nodded to the conductor. The check-string was pulled and the car stopped. Mrs. D— arose, and, to her shame be it said, so far lost all sense of decency and self-respect as to spit in the officer's face.

Looking up with flashing eyes, and red spots burning on his cheeks, the officer said, as he drew his handkerchief and wiped the venom from his face—speaking with suppressed anger-

"You are no lady! If you were a man you would not leave this car alive !"

An hour later, as Mr. D— sat in his counting-room, a gentleman, with whom he was partially acquainted, came in. There was in the face of the latter an expression that sent a troubled wave across the feelings of Mr. D—. It was threatening and mysterious. He arose, bowing with some distance and formality.

"I come, Mr. D—." said the gentleman, "on very unpleasant business. An officer in the United States Service has received a public insult at the hands of your wife, for which he has determined to hold you responsible."

A sudden paleness overspread the face of Mr. D—. "My wife insulted an officer!" he exclaimed, in a tone of surprise. "How? when? where?"

"She spit in his face."


"I saw it."

"Then he must have grossly insulted her."

"On the contrary, he neither spoke to nor looked at her."

"Where was it?"

"In one of the city cars. He sat reading, and she, in company with a female friend, sat opposite. In conversing aloud they applied to soldiers the most offensive language, but he never even glanced toward them. Finally, they arose to leave the car, when Mrs. D— bent forward and spit in his face. I saw it done, and there can be no mistake. The officer is Captain L—, of Massachusetts, a gentleman of wealth, education, and high social position, and he holds you responsible for the conduct of your wife."

"Madness!" exclaimed the merchant, throwing his arms above his head. "Has the woman lost all sense and decency! What does Captain L— want?"

"Nothing unreasonable, Sir. But these outrages upon loyal soldiers, who are simply obeying the call of their Government and doing duty as it directs, must be made to cease. If the perpetrators shield themselves under the immunities of their sex, their next of male-kin must answer in consequences. You must bear the burden of your wife's deeds."

"My wife shall apologize," said Mr. D—. His mind was beginning to grow clear.

"Captain L— can not call upon her to receive an apology."

"But she shall call upon him at his quarters." "Very well."

"You bear a challenge?"

"No; I come to demand satisfaction. If that is not given, then—"

"I must fight."

"Yes, Sir."

"Very well. Here is pen, ink, and paper. Sit down and write a challenge in the name of Captain L—. Make it strong. Confusion take these women! Will they never cease playing the fool?"

The friend of Captain L— sat down and wrote a very peremptory demand for satisfaction, closing with the sentence, "It must be prompt, full, and complete, or you will be held to the last resort."

In less than thirty minutes from that time Mr. D— stood, pale, angry, and agitated before his wife.

"At last," he said, passionately, "you have completed your evil work. Warning and remonstrance have been of no avail. Had you no decency, no self-respect left? What fiend possessed you?"

The color went out of Mrs. D—'s face. Fear and alarm overshadowed it. Never in her life had she seen her husband so moved. Never had she felt in such awe of him. Usually so calm, his violence now almost appalled her, and she felt weak and vaguely guilty before him.

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"You spat in a gentleman's face to-day."

The crimson of shame crept over her countenance.

"Disgracing yourself and your husband in the very public eye; and now my life's-blood must be the penalty. The officer whom you outraged—a man of wealth and high position at home—holds me responsible for the insult. There is his challenge!" And he drew the paper from his pocket and held it forth.

Mrs. D— shuddered and dropped nerveless into a chair. This was a great deal more, in the way of consequences, than had ever entered her foolish brain.

"Oh, Henry!" she sobbed, "what have I done?"

"Disgraced yourself and put your husband's life in jeopardy," was the stern answer. "And now, you must choose one of two things: the humiliation of an apology, or the loss of your husband; for I shall not refuse the satisfaction demanded, even though I never fired a pistol, and the officer knows his weapon. Of course, I shall fall!"

A cry of fear shivered on the air. "Oh, what have I done! What have I done!" followed in distressed tones.

"An act for which atonement is demanded; and there is no escape. It is my life, or your humiliation."

"Where is the officer?" asked Mrs. D—, faintly.

"At the camp on Federal Hill."

"I will apologize," she spoke in constraint. "Let it be your own act," said Mr. D—, coldly. " I leave you free."

"Oh, Henry!" She was hurt by his manner. "Can you think such evil of me?"

"It must be your own act," he repeated.

"You will go with me?"

"No; I shall take no part in this humiliation. If Captain L— demands my life, let him take it. I am a man, and never did a mean or ungentlemanly thing that I should humble myself before another man. If you were brave enough to offer an insult, you must be brave enough to make an apology. The issue lies in your hands."

Mr. D— was wholly in earnest, and neither the tears nor entreaties of his wife moved him.




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