Commodore Foote


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, February 22, 1862

This site features online versions of the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. Harper's Weekly was the most popular newspaper of the day, and we are making this incredible resource available for your study and perusal.

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Fort Henry

Battle of Fort Henry


Commodore Foote

Stone Arrested

General Stone Arrested

Lord Lyons

Lord Lyons

Richmond Prisons

Richmond Prisons

Richmond Prisoners

Richmond Prisoners

Ohio Freshet

Ohio Freshet

Attack on Fort Henry

Attack on Fort Henry

Stuck in Mud

Stuck in the Mud


Ice Skating in Brooklyn

Battle of Vera Cruz

Battle of Vera Cruz

P. T. Barnum

P. T. Barnum Advertisement










[FEBRUARY 22, 1862.


(Previous Page) Columbiads. The sides of the boats, both above and below the knee, incline at an angle of forty-five degrees, and nothing but a plunging shot from a high bluff could strike the surface at right angles. The iron plating has been severely tested by shots from rifled cannon at different distances, and has shown itself to be utterly impervious to any shots that have been sent against it, even at a range of three hundred yards.

The boats, it will be perceived, are built very wide, in proportion to their length, giving them almost the same steadiness in action that a stationary land-battery would possess. They are constructed on the same principle as the famous iron battery at Charleston, the sides sloping upward and downward from the water line at an angle of forty-five degrees. The boats were built so that in action they could be kept "bow on," hence the superior strength of the bow battery. Broadsides were so arranged as to be delivered with terrible effect while shifting position. To facilitate movements in action, the engines and machinery are of the most powerful kind. The boilers are five in number, constructed to work in connection with or independent of each other. In case of damage done to any one or more of them, a valve was arranged to close the connection between the damaged and undamaged boilers, and the latter operate as if nothing had happened.


Commodore Foote is. a native of Connecticut, of which State he is a citizen, and from which State he was appointed to the navy of the United States. He is a son of Senator Foote, of Connecticut, to whom Daniel Webster replied, in the Senate, with one of his famous speeches. He entered the United States service on the 4th of December, 1822, and has consequently served the country nearly forty years. He steadily rose in his profession, and was made a commander on the 19th of December, 1852, under which commission he saw about two years and three months' sea-service. His total sea-service was nearly twenty years and a half, and he performed nearly eight years shore duty. He was unemployed for over ten years, and was last at sea in June, 1858. At the breaking out of the present troubles he was in command of the Navy-Yard at Brooklyn, and shortly after the commencement of hostilities was promoted to a captaincy, with the charge of the Western or Mississippi flotilla, of which he is the commodore or flag-officer. While engaged in his duties he is reported as having worked night and day with a zeal and energy that are worthy of emulation in both branches of the service, and has accomplished an almost herculean task. Being dependent upon the Navy Department for men and a portion of his equipment, and compelled to call upon the War Department for other things equally necessary to the success of his mission in the inland waters, and apparently an object of jealousy and a subject of neglect from both, he has quietly worked through all obstacles, and is about prepared to undertake the opening up of the Mississippi River from Cairo to New Orleans. He is a quiet, gray-haired veteran, and, although holding a rank equal to major-general of the land forces, attained by a life's service on the broad seas under the old flag, has been quietly and unostentatiously serving his country at the junction of the Ohio and the Mississippi. His present expedition has been carried out with spirit and energy, and the result is gratifying to the nation.

The above MAP shows the position of FORT HENRY, FORT DONELSON, and the MEMPHIS AND OHIO RAILROAD.


WE publish on page 116 Portraits of four of the leading members of the diplomatic corps at Washington, viz.: LORD LYONS, MONSIEUR MERCIER, BARON STOECKEL, and BARON VON GEROLT.

Lord LYONS, British Minister to Washington, was born in England in 1817. He is the son of Admiral Lyons, who commanded the British fleet in the Black Sea during the Crimean War, and was created a Baron as a reward for his public services. Lord Lyons entered into the diplomatic service at an early age, and won the esteem of the chiefs of parties in England. He succeeded Lord Napier at Washington about three years ago. Here he was generally popular until the letters of Dr. Russell appeared; these communications to the Times have seemed to connect Lord Lyons in some degree with the secessionist party, of which Dr. Russell is an ally, and the minister's reputation has suffered in consequence. Lord Lyons is, however, a genial companion, and a man of fine talents. He has recently received from his Government the order of the Bath as a recognition of his services in the Trent affair.

The other Ministers—M. MERCIER, who represents France; Baron STOECKEL, who represents Russia ; and Baron VON GEROLT, who represents Prussia, have not as yet filled any prominent place in history. At Washington they are popular, and widely known. Baron STOECKEL has lived here many years, first as Secretary of Legation, and next as Minister. M. MERCIER is famous for his hospitalities; his dinners are the best in Washington, and he is not sparing of them.


WE publish on page 124 a VIEW OF THE NATIONAL BRIDGE near Vera Cruz, Mexico, where the French and Spanish invaders are said to have been repulsed by the Mexicans. Up to the present time our details of the fight are brief. We only know that the battle lasted five hours, and that the Mexicans maintained their position. If true, the news is of great importance.

Report states that the Mexicans have 50,000 men at National Bridge, whereas the Allies have only about 15,000.



WE publish on page 121 an illustration which is the best possible answer to those critics, domestic and foreign, who complain that we are making no headway in the work of suppressing the rebellion. Both in Virginia and in Kentucky the roads are lakes of liquid mud, into which pedestrians sink nearly to the knees, and through which it would be impossible to move artillery or commissariat wagons. At the hour we write, General McClellan on the Potomac, General Thomas on the Cumberland, and General Buell on Green River are stuck fast in the mud, and if the lives of every man of their commands depended upon it they could not move. This will not last long, of course. Ten days of dry weather would enable forward movements to be made along the whole line. And in any event, the roads will become practicable in March. But at present no person possessed of ordinary reasoning faculties can blame our generals for not doing that which is physically impossible.

Even as it is the work goes steadily on, and we are witnessing the fruits of McClellan's ripe strategy and far-sighted calculations. General Thomas is steadily though slowly working his way into East Tennessee. The battle of Mill Spring is an evidence of the soundness of the strategy he is carrying out. We learn from the rebel accounts that, though Generals Crittenden and Zollicoffer were aware of the approach of our army many days before it came within reach, they could not muster much more than half as many men as were led by General Thomas; and though they had chosen a strong position, and fortified it, his approach was so well planned that they were forced to come out of their intrenchments to attack him, with hardly any prospect of success. So in West Tennessee. The rebels had ample notice of our intended attack, and General Beauregard, with 15,000 men, was detached from Manassas to strengthen General Polk. A day or two before the attack on Fort Henry an organ of the rebel Government at Richmond announced that "the Confederates" were in full force on the Tennessee River, and that nothing could possibly be achieved by the United States troops. Yet a bombardment of an hour and a half by three or four gun-boats settled the matter, and the "Confederates," who were in such force, were not to be found when Commodore Foote landed. Similar fortune will doubtless attend General Burnside. He will encounter at Roanoke Island, at Newbern, at Fort Macon, and wherever else he may go on the Sounds, a force vastly inferior to his own both in men and metal, and his success will be merely a question of hours.

These operations afford the key to General McClellan's plan. It is "slow and sure." It is not swift enough to satisfy the idle gossips who indulge in tea-table strategy. But it is very sure, and it takes no step backward. We have no idea that the future will differ from the past in regard to the movements of the campaign. Events will doubtless seem to succeed each other with painful slowness. But every week will witness some substantial progress, and no day will be marked by defeat or retreat. Whatever is done will be thoroughly done. Wherever the rebels are met, they will be met by a superior force to theirs, armed with superior weapons. Wherever a battle takes place the odds will be enormously in our favor, as at Mill Spring. As soon as the roads enable our armies to move, they will be set in motion; but they will not move precipitately, and nothing will be left to chance. Careful and thorough reconnoissances will precede every operation, and young soldiers will be disgusted at the want of dash displayed by our commanders.

Why should it be otherwise? It is possible to render the triumph of the Government mathematically certain: why risk any thing? Why go and knock our heads against Columbus, if a few strategic movements can compel the garrison to capitulate without firing a shot? Why disturb the rebels at Manassas, if Burnside and Thomas can catch them there as in a trap, and force them to scatter or sue for terms of surrender? If we were fighting for glory; if our generals, like some chiefs renowned in history, had no higher aim than their own personal fame as soldiers, then we might offer to meet the rebels in some fair field, with equal or nearly equal force, and light it out. But glory is the last thing that can be won in civil war; and as to General McClellan, he is too good a citizen to wish to see bloody and doubtful battlefields when his purposes can be accomplished without them.

That there will be some hard fighting yet in this war there is no reason to doubt. Too many rebels are fighting with halters round their necks to justify hopes of a general bloodless submission. But it must be evident to every careful student of the history of the day, and especially of the rebel accounts of events, that the rebel cause is becoming desperate. That fiery enthusiasm with which the South

commenced the struggle, and which induced so many travelers to give the North credit for less spirit than its enemy, is evidently subsiding; drafting—which has been tried, it is said unsuccessfully, in Tennessee—is to become general on 1st March. The men of the twelve-months' rebel regiments decline to re-enlist, and the whole army seems to be falling to pieces. New Orleans declares that if Columbus falls—and how can it help falling?—the whole Mississippi will follow. Savannah editors try to cheer up their readers by assuring them that there is no immediate danger in the city—as though we intended to go there at all after securing Fort Pulaski. The official papers at Richmond admit the impossibility of defending the sea-board. The cotton loan is an acknowledged failure, and even at Richmond people refuse the shinplasters which are the only currency. It is admitted by the rebel papers that the severing of their lines at Greenville and on the Tennessee River will deal a fatal blow at their cause; and yet they do not affect to believe that it can be prevented. Howell Cobb and his colleagues warn their people that we are going to swoop down upon the South in the spring with an irresistible army of 600,000 men, "disciplined to the stolidity of regulars," armed with the most improved weapons, and morally certain of success. They recommend, as the only remedy, self-sacrifice and heroism. What good will these do? What if the planters do burn down their houses? That is their concern, not ours. We don't want to live in them. All that we want is to seize, occupy, and possess our FORTS and CUSTOM-HOUSES. When we have done this our office will have been fulfilled. We don't want to march six inches into the rebel country, after the rebel armies have been once beaten. As to submitting, the rebels can take their own time for this. It concerns them exclusively. If they would like to be one year, or two, or three without representatives in Congress, United States courts, postal service, intercourse with the world, manufactured goods, and markets for their produce, we shall not object. No law of Congress obliges constituencies to elect members, or citizens to trade with the rest of the country. If the rebels can afford to dispense with law, order, and commerce, it will not lie in our mouth to complain.

The apprehensions of foreign intervention, to which we referred last week, were revived a day or two since, first by an alarming letter from Mr. Thurlow Weed, and subsequently by dispatches from the reporter of the Associated Press, asserting that Napoleon was about to interfere and raise the blockade, with or without the assistance of England. Those false reports are happily set at rest by Napoleon's speech to the Chambers on 27th, in which he stated positively that, so long as the rights of neutrals were respected, France would confine itself to the earnest wish that the dissensions in the United States would be speedily brought to a close. Is it too much to hope that our gullible fellow-citizens will be on their guard hereafter against the monstrous lies of the British newspapers? These foreign writers, and among them we must, we fear, class the European correspondent of the New York Associated Press, have deliberately and systematically misrepresented European, and especially French sentiment ever since the war broke out: seeming to labor, if not in reality laboring, in the interest and for the comfort of the Southern rebels. They have been convicted of falsehood as often as Dr. Russell has been convicted of blundering. Yet every fresh canard which they choose to publish sends a thrill through the nerves of our people. When shall we begin to understand them?


THE United States are about giving solemn proof that they are in earnest. When our fathers formed the government they debated long and earnestly, as became men who were founding a government upon equal human rights, the iniquity of the slave-trade. For reasons sufficient to them they tolerated it for twenty years. At the end of that time the trade was prohibited, and it was presently pronounced a capital crime by the national law. The law has been outraged, and the penalty evaded. We have been on the verge of conflict with other powers to sustain the rights of our flag, prostituted to the meanest and most revolting purposes. Administered in the interest of injustice and inhumanity, our Government has connived at the outrage of its own laws, until a late prosecuting officer of the Government declared in the national court of our largest port that it was not to be supposed that any man would be convicted of that crime, and insinuated that he ought not to be. So utter was the demoralization of the Government.

That demoralization has naturally resulted in an effort to destroy the Government, when it passed from the control of those who forgot that it was established "to secure justice," and who meant that it should perpetuate injustice. Those into whose hands it had passed by the will of the people were in every way, by the most solemn profound conviction, and the most solemn pledge, held to a vindication of the fundamental principle of that Government by every lawful means. It chanced that the law so long and so ruthlessly violated in a series of crimes of blood and suffering such as the mind hates to contemplate, at length

was to be tested by the conviction of a slave-trader. He was a young man, but old in this sin. It was his fourth voyage. He knew the utter horror of the traffic. He knew the crime and the penalty. But he knew also that its interest had controlled the Government, and that money, influence, and all persuasions would be lavished for him if by chance he were caught and convicted. But he was caught. The withering mass of testimony established his crime beyond question. Neither he, nor his counsel, nor his friends seriously denied the fact. The verdict was speedy. The sentence followed.

Then came the strenuous play of every influence to secure a pardon or a commutation. The law was clear. It was one of the most important and solemn of all laws. The case was established beyond cavil. But it was pleaded that the law had been virtually obsolete, and that no man had ever suffered. In the courts the law may have been obsolete. In the Government its letter was violated and its spirit renounced. But it was never obsolete in the hearts of the American people, and its spirit had been amply vindicated in the last general election. The enemies of that law, holding that slavery was true philanthropy, and that all the shuddering horrors of the slave-trade and the mid-passage were Christian processes, are engaged in a war upon this Government. They have announced to all the world that slavery is their corner-stone. They have declared that the anti-slavery sentiment of the North is an affectation and a political cry for power. All other nations are at this moment in doubt whether there is really any more love of liberty and human rights at the North than at the South. And if the majesty of the law, which at this moment has a pregnant significance which it never had before, should be brought into contempt—if the first administration of the Government, confessedly called to power for its attitude of resistance to the overwhelming tyranny of slavery, should fail to execute the penalty of a test law in regard to its own character and sincerity, the world might justly despise a Government that was still ruled by its deadliest enemies.

If there were the least shadow of doubt of the guilt of the offender—if it were even his first offense—if there were any solitary mitigating circumstance—if it were any thing else than a terrible, revolting, and inhuman massacre of innocent and defenseless people, and the hopeless enslavement of those who unhappily escaped murder—it might be urged that this criminal should be leniently considered. But all the recent murderers executed in this city are tyros and amateurs compared with this offender. It is sad enough to seem to cry for the blood of a fellow-man. It is not that: it is only the demand in the name of Justice and Humanity—in the name of the nation quivering with the blows of which this crime is the minister—in the name of our brothers who stood with their lives a ready sacrifice, that the very foundations of law, of society, and of the national welfare, shall not be shaken by interfering with the course of Justice, however solemn and tragical that course may be.

If it be right to respite the offender, it is wrong for this Congress to allow the law to remain a day longer upon the Statute Book. If the law be profoundly just and essential, shall the fact that it has been weaker hitherto than the crime it denounces shield an offender in this extreme moment from the penalty which he has consciously and constantly defied? If he, under all the circumstances of the time, should escape, the Administration would have proclaimed the immunity of capital crime, and have betrayed the Government and the country. Repeal the law, if you will; but until you have repealed it, let the world see that we MEAN that a man who steals and murders and sells other men and women and children, is an enemy of the human race.


IT appears that the Chamberlain of the French Emperor lately asked of Mr. Dayton the "quality" of the persons whom our Minister proposed to introduce at Court. The reply was, that they were all persons eligible for presentation to the President. No response was received; or the response came at so late an hour that only a few of the persons were presented.

This has seemed, to many persons, a peculiar incivility at this time upon the part of the French Court. But the explanation is very simple. A great many improper women bad been smuggled into the presentations, and the Emperor was determined to put an end to it. It may be difficult to exclude such persons from a levee at the White House—but the Tuileries is a different place. A royal reception is a favor. It is a social honor, and the receiver may confer it upon whom he will, and upon what conditions lie chooses. Mr. Marcy said in his famous circular, that it was advisable the American representatives should not wear lace and other adornments, but black coats and trowsers. We could be very democratic in our clothes and manners in the good old times, a few years since, when it was extremely difficult to detect any democracy in our feelings and actions. To Mr. Marcy's circular, and to Mr. Sanford, then our Secretary at Paris, now our minister at Brussels, who practiced its precepts, the Court said: "You are not wanted in a black coat."

It was perfectly clear that if a man wished to go to royal parties he must conform to royal etiquette. If his principles forbade, he could stay at home.

It happens to be imperial etiquette now not to receive what are called "questionable characters" and "improper persons." Yankee Doodle may insist that the Princess Mathilde is a personage of a very distinct notoriety, and that the lady on his arm may be more frank, but is no more "improper" than a great many ladies who lean upon the imperial arm. But the chamberlain will doubtless inform him that the question is one of ceremony, and that such are the orders. Certainly, my dear Yankee Doodle, he might add, granting that a (Next Page)

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