Disaster of the Burnside Expedition


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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 We are pleased to make these historical documents available online for your research and study.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.

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


Civil War Ships

Civil War Ships

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"








FEBRUARY 15, 1862.]



Captain L— was sitting in his tent, in company with two other officers, when a sergeant came to the entrance and said that a lady had called to see him. The two officers moved to retire, but he desired them to remain.

"Conduct her to my tent," said Captain L—, in answer to the sergeant.

In a few moments a handsomely dressed lady, with her veil down, entered. Captain L— at once recognized her, and stood up with a grave, but not angry countenance.

"Do you remember me?" she asked, partly drawing aside her veil, and showing a very altered face from the one he had seen in the morning.

"Mrs. D—," the Captain answered, bowing. There was a quality of tone and air about the officer that inspired her with a feeling of respect. He merely pronounced her name, and then stood awaiting her further purpose.

"I am here to offer an apology for conduct that

has no excuse. Will you accept the apology ?" "On one condition," replied Captain L—.

" Name it, Sir."

"That you promise, on the word of a lady, never

again to insult a soldier or an officer."

"I promise," was the low answer.

"Then the past is past, Madam. And now permit me to conduct you from the camp."

And with bearing of a gentleman as he was, Captain L— attended Mrs. D— to the carriage in which she had come, and closing the door for her after she had entered, said, in parting,

"The lesson is a severe one, Madam ; but the fault was grave, and constrained a harsh reaction. We are here as friends, not enemies; as gentlemen, not ruffians. At the call of our country, not to invade and wrong. We come to save, not to destroy. When will you learn to read events aright ?"

And turning from her the officer went back to his tent, and the lady rode to the city, an humbler, if not a wiser, woman.

The story, as such stories always will, got out, and was repeated from lip to lip. From that time women of Mrs. D—'s style of thinking and feeling conducted themselves with a little more public decorum. It is quite certain that Captain L—was never insulted again.


WE devote pages 101, 103, 104, and 105 to illustrations of the BURNSIDE EXPEDITION in the gale off Hatteras, from sketches by our special correspondent with the expedition. The general newspaper dispatch said:

The expedition sailed from Hampton Roads on the 11th and 12th of January, and consisted of over one hundred and twenty-five vessels of all classes. They arrived at Hatteras between the 12th and 17th instant, having been greatly retarded by the storms and adverse winds which prevailed during that time.

After their arrival at Hatteras they experienced a series of storms of such severity that for two days in succession, on more than one occasion, it was impossible to hold any communication between any two vessels of the fleet.

After the first storm it was discovered that, instead of vessels drawing eight and a half feet of water being able to go over the swash, or bars, as General Burnside had been informed, no vessel drawing over seven feet three inches could pass into Pamlico Sound. No vessel either could pass outside the bar drawing over thirteen feet of water, unless very skillfully piloted, consequently the steamer New York, on the 18th instant, struck on the outside of the bar. The New York was loaded with a cargo valued at two hundred thousand dollars, consisting of powder, rifles, and bombs, and proved a total loss. The captain and crew, after bravely remaining in the rigging for forty hours, were saved. The gun-boat Zouave dragged her anchors, had a hole stove in her bottom, and sunk. She is a total loss. Her crew and guns were saved. The steamer Pocahontas went ashore on the 17th instant, near the light-house, and became a total wreck. Ninety valuable horses belonging to the Rhode Island battery were on board of her, and were nearly all drowned, including several valued at five hundred dollars each. The Grapeshot, in tow of the New Brunswick, parted her hawser and went down. The crew were saved. An unknown schooner loaded with oats, and another schooner, name unknown, and six of her crew, were also lost on the beach. The steamer Louisiana struck on the bar, where she still remains. The report of her having been burned is entirely incorrect. She may get off. The Eastern Queen and the Voltigeur are also ashore. The latter will probably get off.

The water vessels attached to the expedition had not reached their destination when the Eastern State left; and had it not been for the condensers on board some of the vessels, and a vessel on shore, the most terrible sufferings must have occurred among the troops. As it was the water casks were composed of old whisky, camphene, and kerosene oil casks.

The current was running at the rate of five miles an hour, and the chop seas prevented General Burnside from answering any signals of distress or communicating with his generals. At one moment flags would appear with Union down on a number of vessels, indicating want of water, coal, and provisions, and then would be lost from view.

The special correspondent of the Times wrote on 23d :

It commenced blowing yesterday noon, and by 2 o'clock P.M. we thought the gale had culminated. Mistaken mortals! We had not been "raised hereabout," and this accounts for our inexperience. During the night the gale increased, knocking up an ugly chopping sea, and obliging all the vessels to let go both anchors and pay out all their chain. Strenuous efforts were made to get the Admiral over, but the attempt proved abortive, and during the night-tide another ineffectual trial was made. It was a fruitless contest with the elements, and she remained foundering on the "swash." To-day, affairs in the harbor are in a deplorable state. The severity of the gale prevents all communication between the vessels of the fleet. The Admiral is nearly out of water; her coal is exhausted, and no coal means no water. A vessel with 300 troops (Massachusetts Twenty-fourth) on board, within as many hundred yards of us, has her colors set in the rigging, Union down. She is probably in the same condition with ourselves—no water on board. Here comes a boat from the Cossack, covered with the feathery spray. She comes alongside of the Admiral, and the officer hands General Burnside a message. It is a cry for water. Six hundred troops of the Fifty-first Pennsylvania Regiment on board, and six reporters, and no water—nor whisky. The General reads the letter with moistened eyes, and frankly informs the messenger that their only resource is to go to the Southfield for It. If the gale continues there will soon be water. Water nowhere, and not a drop to drink. There are, also, fears that the Admiral may knock a hole in her by this constant pounding on the hard sand of the midway "swash."

Twelve o'clock, and no sign of the gale abating; on the contrary, otherwise. As far as the eye can discern through the drifting mist the bay is one broad sheet of white foam, resembling a plain of newly-fallen snow. Dark clouds

sweep down from the north, and, with their murky edges, seem almost to touch the vessel's masts as they go careening by, casting their gloomy shadows over the fleet, which sways and staggers under the mighty storm. A single person here and there appears on some vessel's deck, holding on by the rail or rigging, and a few scattering groups are seen pacing the beach, as if in search of shelter from the fury of the blast. The tents of the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts, which were yesterday pitched upon the beach, have all been swept away, and the poor soldiers must have spent a fearful night, exposed to the peltings of the pitiless storm; and yet there is a worse night before them. Beyond, where their straggling forms are seen strolling on the beach, the billows of old ocean break along the shore, tossing the spray from their snowy crests high into the air. It is a spectacle truly grand. Camps Wool and Winfield, as well as the Rhode Island Battery, whose unsheltered horses and men were only yesterday put down on the beach, must have suffered fearfully.

General Burnside, who thus far has maintained his accustomed cheerfulness and resolution under all this load of responsibility, watches the careering storm from the deck of the Admiral, and seems weighed down with these accumulating misfortunes. His whole concern is for the army. Occasionally he is heard to exclaim, in suppressed tones, "This is terrible!" "When will the storm abate ?" "The poor men, what will they do?" No one will wonder that such a man is beloved by his men. But he is not the Almighty, to say to the winds, "Be still." Nor a Moses, with power to smite the rock, and bid the waters to gush forth to supply their wants. They must wait on Providence, whose ways are past finding out, and who "doeth all things well." The General says he rests in the assurance that some wise purpose will be accomplished by those strange adversities. We are, he says, as so many grains of sand in the hands of the Almighty. The condition of Napoleon before Moscow, or the old Massachusetts Governer at the siege of Louisburg, seem only fitting parallels to his situation. Yet he seems as strong-hearted as on the day on which he set sail from Annapolis. With such a leader let no one despair of the result. The heavens are only overcast—the sun has not gone out.

The largest of the pictures on page 101 represents Fort Hatteras, with Fort Clarke in the distance. We illustrated the spot very fully at the time General Butler first occupied it. The view now given is taken from the inlet. At high-water the fort is an island, and the troops travel to the gun shown in the fore-ground of our picture on a plank-bridge resting on barrels. The stakes on the left of the picture mark the graves of soldiers; the building on the right is devoted to the condensing of water by the aid of patent condensers. Captain Morris, of the First Artillery, is in command of the post.

One of the designs at the top of the page shows us the steamer George L. Peabody unshipping the horses of the Rhode Island Artillery at Fort Hatteras. Another presents a view of the steamer Zouave sinking in Hatteras Inlet on 14th January; and also of the steamer New York on the bar, with her foremast and smoke-stack gone, and the hulk going to pieces. The third depicts the Hotel d'Afrique, a building erected near Fort Hatteras for the reception of contrabands. There are upward of forty there now. The darkey with the pipe is " boss" of the establishment, and obligingly sat to be sketched by our correspondent.

The difficulties attending the entrance of General Burnside's expedition to Pamlico Sound will be understood by reference to the CHART on page 103, reduced from charts of the Coast Survey Department, drawn by A. Schoepff, now General in our army in Kentucky. The shallow water is represented on our chart by tints, one showing depths of less than six feet, the other presenting water varying from six to twelve feet deep. Between the edge of the tint and the dotted line the water is from twelve to eighteen feet in depth, within the dotted line over eighteen feet or three fathoms. It will be seen that shallow sand spits, over which the sea rolls in dangerous breakers, extend from the shore into the ocean for more than a mile on each side of the narrow channel through which vessels pass into the Sound on the course indicated by the line. After passing the second inner buoy, a vessel bound into the Sound must change its course from northwest by west to northeast. After about a mile on this northeast course another buoy is reached, which is at the beginning of the shallow Swash Channel. The course from this point is north a little over a mile, when another buoy directs the pilot to a northwest course; and after a mile in this direction is passed two fathoms of water (twelve feet) is reached, and the navigation of a treacherous Sound is before him. So many shallow points lie about that only by this devious course of over six miles can vessels enter the Sound through this inlet.

To the west of Fishing Shoal is a limited anchorage for vessels drawing over twelve feet water. This is sometimes called Oliver's Channel, and is entirely unprotected from the winds; and here were the six-score vessels of our fleet tossed, careened, and dragged by the storm. The Swash Channel has hut seven feet of water, except immediately after high winds from the northeast, north, and northwest, which bring water from the Sound. The gales which delayed the energetic General Burnside at the inlet brought a greater depth of water into the Swash Channel, which allowed the passage of his laden vessels through the intricate sand bars and shifting shoals. The figures on our chart indicate the depth of water where they are placed.

Throughout Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds are shallow banks which restrict the navigation of these bodies of water by even light-draught vessels to particular channels.


Head-Quarters for Cheap Jewelry.








HEAD-QUARTERS FOR EVERY THING in the Jewelry Line. Enclose stamp for full particulars. W. A. HAYWARD, MANUFACTURING JEWELER, 208 BROADWAY, NEW YORK.

The New Issue of Postage Stamps, of all denominations, for sale. Apply to HARPER & BROTHERS, Franklin Square, N. Y.

AGENTS— The best contrivance for the Soldier is the MCCLELLAN PORTABLE WRITING DESK.

It is well made, is shaped like a writing desk, can be carried in a knapsack, and forms an indispensable addition to a soldier's comforts. Officers and soldiers who have used it speak in terms of praise of its many points of excellence. The press speak favorably of them. They contain every thing that is needed for writing, including ink.

Price 25 cents. Agents wanted everywhere. Send for a circular.

Each Desk contains the following articles: 6 Sheets Commercial Note Paper.

6 Sheets Ladies' Billet Paper.

6 Sheets Ladies' Note Paper.

6 McClellan Envelopes.

6 Buff Envelopes.

6 Cream Colored Envelopes.

1 Bottle Ink.

2 Fine Steel Pens.

1 Fine Pencil, No. 2.

1 Sheet Blotting Paper.

1 Accommodation Pen-holder.

Agents wanted everywhere. Send for Circular.

W. H. CATELY & CO., 102 Nassau St., New Yerk.





and of a better quality, and a finer


than any package put up in this or any other city. Agents who have dealt with us for years do not need to be told of this. We are talking to those who may wish to engage in a LUCRATIVE BUSINESS, yielding from $5 to $10 per day, or who may now be selling an inferior article. To such it is only necessary to say, send for and read our circular, when you will be convinced that ours is the


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6 sheets Commercial Note Paper.

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6 White Union Envelopes, in colors.

6 Ladies' White Union Envelopes, in colors.

6 Sheets Ladies' Billet Paper.

6 Buff Envelopes.

2 Fine Steel Pens.

1 Fine Pencil.

1 Sheet Blotting Paper.

1 Accommodation Penholder.



Commercial Travelers and Agents

Wanted to Sell our

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Contents—18 Sheets Note Paper, 18 Envelopes, 1 Penholder, 1 Pen, 1 Pencil, 1 Blotting Pad, 100 Recipes, 1 War Hymn, 5 Engravings, 1 New Method for Computing Interest.—2 Fashionable Embroidery Designs for Collars, 4 for Under-Sleeves, 2 for Under-Skirts, 1 for Corner of Handkerchief, 2 for Cuffs, 1 for Silk Purse, 1 for Child's Sack, 1 for Ornamental Pillow Case, 1 Puzzle Garden, and ONE BEAUTIFUL ARTICLE OF JEWELRY. $10 a day can be realized. Send stamp for Circular of wholesale prices.

WEIR & CO., 43 South Third Street, Phila., Pa.

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Agents make most and give better satisfaction by selling our "Prize Stationery Packets." Circulars, with full particulars, free.

P. HASKINS & CO., 36 Beekman Street, New York.



10,000 Watches for sale, at wholesale prices, to the Army or any one interested therein. Enclose stamp for descriptive Circular.

W. A. HAYWARD, Manufacturing Jeweler, 208 Broadway, N. Y.

A sure cure for Rheumatism, Neuralgia, and Salt Rheum. Wholesale Agents F. C. WELLS & CO., 115 Franklin St., New York. Sold by Apothecaries everywhere.


No pay expected until received, read,
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Address, Dr. S. S. FITCH, 714 Broadway.

At Gimbrede's, 588 Broadway, a box of Note Paper and Envelopes, elegantly stamped with Initials, sent on receipt of $1, $2, or $3. (25 new styles just received.)

Shower of Pearls.

A Collection of VOCAL DUETS with PIANO ACCOMPANIMENT. Price $2. Published by DITSON & CO., BOSTON.

VALENTINES.—Strong's New Stock now ready for the wholesale trade. Sutlers, booksellers,. news agents, and fancy dealers should send at once for one of " Strong's $20 Lots," containing over $60 worth of Valentines at retail prices. Circulars will be sent by addressing

THOS. W. STRONG, Original Valentine Depot, 98 Nassau Street, N. Y.

The 8in., or Navy Size, carries a Ball weighing 38 to the lb., and the No. 32, or 4in. Revolver, a Ball 80 to the lb. By recent experiments made in the Army, these Revolvers were pronounced the best and most effective weapons in use. For particulars call or send for a Circular to

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Gimbrede's wedding and visiting cards, unsurpassed in quality, 588 Broadway and 177 6th Av., N. Y.


in every County at $75 per month and expenses, to sell a new and cheap Sewing Machine. Address (with stamp)   S. MADISON, Alfred, Maine.

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Send for circular, or see our advertisement in Harper's Weekly, Feb. 8, page 95.


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All Articles for Soldiers at Baltimore, Washington, Hilton Head, Beaufort, and all other places, should be sent, at half rates, by HARNDEN'S EXPRESS, No. 74 Broadway. Sutlers charged low rates.

Every Man his own Printer.

Portable Printing-Offices for the Army and Navy, Druggists, and Business Men generally. Send for a circular. ADAMS PRESS COMPANY,

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Single Copies Six Cents.

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