Mississippi Expedition


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, February 1, 1862

This WEB site features the Harper's Weekly newspapers that were published during the Civil War. These newspapers are a great source of original Civil War illustrations, and incredible stories on the key battles and people of the War. We hope that you find this collection useful. Check back often as we add new material each day.


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


Navy Battle

Navy Battle

Financing the Civil War

Mill Springs

The Battle of Mill Springs


Hancock, Maryland

Army Around Green River

Events Around Green River

Mississippi Expedition

Mississippi Expedition

Mortar Flotilla

Mortar Flotilla

Steam Sloops

Steam Sloops of War

Green River

Green River, Kentucky

Loading Ships

Loading Ships

Porter's Mortar Boats

Porter's Mortar Boat's

Mason and Slidell, Trent Affair

Mason and Slidell Cartoon




FEBRUARY 1, 1862]



(Previous Page) remain and share his fate. He brings confused rumors confirming Dan Byrne's representations. A roving band of defeated Tennesseeans will, in all probability, pass by the homestead. There remains only the hope that their haste may prove greater than their inclination for mischief and desire for wreaking vengeance upon the isolated home of a known loyalist, or that Dan's services, wounds, and mutilation may purchase his uncle's safety, of which he himself is not too sanguine.

Slowly and heavily the night draws on, as, in an upper room, the four inmates of the house wait and listen. Mattresses are placed between the windows, the fire-arms stand loaded and ready, and Harry, with a pale, resolute face, is temporarily relieving Dan in the task of casting bullets. The two old soldiers converse together earnestly. Dan, perturbed and expectant, walks to and fro, or seating himself, assumes a calmness which any transient sound discomposes.

" If it comes to the worst we kin clear out down the slope at the back of the house," says Brodnax; "for I reckon they won't risk their necks in attacking us that side. Then there's the cave not two rods off"—alluding to one of those natural excavations, popularly known in Western vernacular as "sink-holes,'' which undermine all this portion of Kentucky— "would hold a hundred of us easy."

"I've thought of that," Byrne rejoins, and there's a ladder handy to its mouth. But, mind, I intend to fight this place just as long as I kin hold it."

" Sartain !" replied his comrade, who in ceasing to combat the other's resolution seemed to have adopted his readiness, if not his eagerness, for the expected fight; "have you left the flag flying?"

" It's thar still. I wish there was a moon that they could see it."

"Well, I don't care so much about that ; if they take it for the 'Stars and Bars' it's no matter. You won't open the ball unless they begin it, I reckon ?"

"No!" answered Jasper Byrne, relapsing into silence, in which the party retained for perhaps ten minutes, listening to the stormy music of the wind in the forest.

" Come to the door; we shall have plenty of time to fix it and get back," suggests Brodnax. And the two men descend the stairs, unfasten the door, and look out from the shelter of the little piazza into the night and the wild landscape.

Another pause, and a long one. Then through the blustering and soughing of the wind, the dashing of the leaves, and now the patter of the angry rain, a sound, at first faint and distant, rising and falling, a dull, hollow murmur. Anon only the wind and rain. Then the murmur, increasing or lessening with the atmospheric tumult and the windings of the road. Presently an unmistakable sound, resolving itself into the scrambling, disorderly approach of a body of men.

"At last!" The two old soldiers draw back into the house, and are about to close and barricade the door when Dan Byrne stands before them.

"Let me go out, uncle !" he says; "I shall be of more use there than within." His request is granted without a word, and in another minute he stands outside with the door bolted and barred behind him.

The tramp grows louder and louder, the murmur swells into voices ; lights, torches, and musket-barrels flash through the wet foliage. In another minute the approaching body, imperfectly seen in the darkness, emerges from the black covert of the woods and comes toward the house. It may comprise between twenty and thirty men, some of them wounded, half of them weaponless. Ragged, dirty, shoeless, savage, weary, and intoxicated, defeat is written in their demeanor and aspect.

Dan Byrne watches them narrowly. Espying his figure by the lights they carry, some of them set up a shout, half-inquiry, half-menace. He advances and confronts them, and is at once recognized by certain of the group.

"What now, boys?" he asks, as they crowd about him with inquiries as to how he came there.

"We've been whipped by the Lincolnites, -'em, and they're after us !" is the cry, blended with demands for liquor and refreshment, which the more unruly spirits are about to enforce by a rush toward the house, when Dan raises his voice in vigorous remonstrance :

" Boys !" he cries, "you know me as your comrade, and that I lost this arm in fighting for Southern Rights, and that I wouldn't have cared if it had ben my life. Now, I ask you in return jes' to keep right straight on, without touchin' this house. It belongs to my uncle, and he's an old man, and I don't want him troubled. His only son got killed on our side in the skrimmage up to Edmondson's, and he wants to be let alone."

There was a confused clamor of voices, some in approval, some in dissent. Then a voice shouted, "We've heard of him ! he's a d—d Unionist and Yankee, and has got their - flag flying ! Let's
have it down, boys !" A partial hurrah followed.

"I know you, Mat Green," said Dan Byrne, bitterly, in the direction of the last speaker; "the biggest coward in the regiment ! Come here, and for all I've got but one arm I'll whip you, and do it easy !"

Some of the Tennesseeans set up a laugh at this, and for a moment the young Kentuckian thought he had prevailed. Only for a moment : in another he found himself hustled to and fro, half in drunken sport, half in earnest, and heard four or five of the party, who had ascended the piazza, beating on the door and clamoring for admission and speech

with the inmates. Very soon, in reply, an upper window was raised behind the planking, and the strong stern voice of old Jasper Byrne demanded the cause of the tumult.

" Give us some whisky !" " Let us in !" "Haul down that - - flag !" These and more confused outcries were the answers of the crowd in front of the house, while the men immediately below continued their clamor.

" Go to him who sent you hither, the father of all evil !" said the Kentuckian; "not one of ye

shall set foot over my threshold while I have power to prevent it, pack of rebels that ye are!" "Beat down the door !" " Set fire to the house !" And the blows of musket-butts began to rain on the portal, mingled with execrations and bloody threats. Dan Byrne meanwhile strove furiously with those about him; but his struggles were useless, his voice unheard amidst the uproar.

"Hear use once more," his uncle shouted ; and the tumult slackened, the besiegers probably anticipating some capitulation involving compliance with their demands. " You have murdered my boy, now clear out before I am tempted to revenge his death upon ye !"

Almost as he spoke a pistol-shot was fired at him, followed by the irregular explosion of half a dozen muskets in the same direction. The sharp crack of a rifle answered this—another—and two of the foremost of the cluster in front fell to the ground, mortally wounded.

Then uprose a wild shout of rage and desire for vengeance, scarcely uttered before two simultaneous and equally fatal discharges sent their leaden messengers of death through the heart or brain of others; and scatter as their comrades might, in temporary panic from that group which afforded so certain an aim to the practiced marksmen within, yet a fifth and a sixth victim was added to the list before they gained cover in which to gnash their teeth and concert measures of reprisal. Even there, wherever the gleam of a torch or lantern indicated their presence, so sure did a bullet follow them, not always unsuccessfully.

"We might drive 'em off," said Dave Brodnax, grim with smoke and gunpowder, yet with the light of battle illuminating his rough features, "if it weren't for the villains below ; they'll be up to mischief before long, I reckon. S'pose we go down and give 'em a shot or two by way of a scare ?"

Jasper Byrne assented. "They're creeping round among the thickets, I know by their silence," said he, after a glance outward ; "we shall have 'em trying the door and windows directly. What's that ?" He paused abruptly in his speech and listened as to a distant sound.

"Only the rain," suggested Brodnax, whose sense of hearing was not so acute as that of his companions. The storm had increased and the rain now descended in torrents.

"I wish that was all," answered Byrne ; "that's on our side, but I reckon those who are coming won't be so. Do you hear any thing, girl ?"

"I hear a sound in the distance, but can not distinguish what it is," Harry replied. Steadfast and resolute as the two men, she had kept her word in loading their rifles for them throughout the attack, not even blenching when a chance bullet cut its way between the stout oak planks and through her black fell of hair—the only shot which had penetrated the apartment.

"It's horses and men coming this way," pronounced her father; "we shall soon know what for. Harry, you're dressed and ready, if we have to run for it ? Now, Dave, down stairs with you, and let's at 'em agin !" And, bearing the arms and ammunition, the three noiselessly descended the staircase.

The sound of voices heard through the wind and rain on the other side of the door at once confirmed Jasper Byrne's suspicions. The besiegers had reinforced the party sheltered by the piazza, and while some explored the sides and rear of the premises, in the hope of effecting an entrance, the majority were audibly engaged in tearing up the adjacent rails and planking and piling it against the door, evidently with the intention of setting it on fire, for without such appliances the dampened wood-work had refused to ignite.

Just as the inmates of the house stood listening to the devilish intentions avowed within a few feet of them, the accents changed into surprise and indignation, a sudden fall was heard, as of a man stricken to the ground, followed by the kicking asunder of the materials of the intended bonfire, and Dan Byrne's voice, crying,

"You shall kill me first ! Come on, all of you, cowards that you are, and see if I can't use this bowie to some effect, maimed as I am ! Come on,

I say !"

A storm of invectives, of threats, and orders to stand aside answered the challenge. " Not while I live !" the young Kentuckian rejoined, in tones well-nigh as savage as those about him. His uncle looked anxiously, first into the face of his old comrade, then at his daughter.

"They'll butcher the lad in five minutes, the blood-thirsty hounds! They will, I know, unless we help him. He brought it on us ; but he knew no better, and he's gwine to die for us. Dave ! Dave ! what shall I do ? Think of Harry, if they prove too many for us !"

" Open the door, father !" the girl replied ; " save Dan if you can ! We're in God's hands, and in Him lies our safety !" And, intent on her cousin's rescue, she rushed to the door and began undoing its fastenings.

Jasper Byrne laid his hand on her arm. " Leave it to us," said he. "Do you go up stairs. Wait and see what happens; and if the time comes, and there's nothing left for it, mind my last word and .fly—you know how."

Snatching up a gun, the girl obeyed him without a word. Then with bowie-knives between their teeth, and revolvers in hand, the two old soldiers unshot the fastenings of the door.

They were just in time. The Tennesseeans, infuriated by the opposition of their late comrade, had attacked and beaten him to his knee, in which position he still defended himself desperately, having already slain one and wounded two men. As the door opened—which it did so suddenly as to be entirely unanticipated by the besiegers—a cry was raised to brain him, to trample him to death. Quick as the utterance he was snatched from beneath the uplifted musket-butts and dragged into the house by the strong arm of his uncle, while Brodnax attempted, but in vain, to close and refasten the door. The lumber piled against it had fallen inward.

With yells of rage and exultation the Tennesseeans rushed forward to improve their fancied opportunity. They were met by so deadly and rapid a discharge of revolvers that seven of their number bit the dust, and the rest wavered and might have recoiled but for those in the rear pressing on them. So on they came tumultuously, thirsting for blood and howling like so many fiends. Then the portal and passage became the scene of a conflict I want words to do justice to.

Steadfastly, sternly, and desperately, fighting inch by inch, did the three Kentuckians—for Dan Byrne soon sprang to his feet and repaid his deliverance by as effectual use of sword and pistol as ever one-armed man achieved—contest the ground, rendered slippery with the blood of the fallen. The narrow passage was sulphureous with smoke, resonant with oath and death-shriek, ghastly with human suffering. Inch by inch the brave defenders of hearth and home are borne backward, wounded but undaunted, to the foot of the staircase, from the upper portion of which has more than once come sudden destruction to the enemy in the shape of a musket-shot. The three are overmatched by numbers, and fight apparently with no hope but that of selling their lives as clearly as possible-

When a tumult arises without, the tramp of horses' feet, cries of alarm, a volley of musket-shots, and, clear above the storm which has concealed the approach of the new-comers, a ringing cheer for the Union, blended with, "Down with the seceshers !" who find themselves suddenly attacked in the rear by the troop of loyal Kentuckians from which they had fled in defeat and disgrace only that morning.

*   *   *   *   *

It were needless to protract our story by the relation of the particulars of the conflict. It was short, sharp, and bloody, terminating in the capture of the majority of the rebels, the dispersion and flight of the remainder. When Captain Maurice Byrne returned from the pursuit, wiping his ensanguined sword upon his horse's mane, it was to congratulate those whom his timely arrival had rescued from death, and to embrace her whom he loved dearer than life itself, and, in due time, to receive at once the reward of his love and loyalty.


ON page 72 we publish, from a sketch by our Western correspondent, Mr. Alexander Simplot, a view of the departure from Cairo of the advance of the great Mississippi expedition, under General McClernand. The World correspondent writes :

The expedition consists of a brigade, consisting of about 6000 men, under General McClernand, which was embarked on board transport steamers on Thursday and Friday, and ferried over to a point on the river seven miles below. It is called, from the name of an old Indian fort, Fort Jefferson, and is situated on the eastern shore of the Mississippi, at Mayfield creek, five mile below Fort Holt. Leaving the execrably muddy levee of Cairo on the fast little steamer, the Rob Roy, we followed the gun-boat Lexington on Saturday, and found the encampment at Fort Jefferson a very picturesque and convenient place, nearly opposite Norfolk. After noon guns were heard from the direction of Columbus, and Flag-Officer Foote, with Colonel Webster, proceeded immediately to the scene of probable action. Two of the gun-boats had escorted the transports to the rendezvous, and it was supposed some engagement was transpiring. The Lexington kept on beyond the encampment, and disappeared behind a point three miles below. After waiting for some hours the three gun-boats- Essex, St. Louis, Lexington, the transport Alerk Scott, and a small tugboat—were seen coming up the river. The results of the expedition were soon made known. During the morning a rebel steamer had approached within sight of General McClernand's lines. Some of our pickets had discerned her approach and given the alarm. The gun-boats were at once cast off, but being rather slow, and a rising fog temporarily obscuring the rebel steamer, they could not overhaul her. The chase was continued to within two miles of Columbus, when the Grampus held up, with a view of enticing our boats under the guns of the batteries. Twenty or thirty shots were fired at her, but with uncertain effect. The gun-boats turned up stream, leaving the Confederates in their strong-hold. The smoke of our steamers might have been seen on the previous day from Columbus, and this reconnoissance was but a natural disposition on their part to discover what was the meaning of the movement down the river. The officers at Columbus had doubtless heard of the projected expedition to Nashville. This pushing down of troops five miles nearer their lines was enough to give them the cue for an advance.

A special dispatch to the Chicago Times, dated twelve miles from Columbus on the 16th, says an additional force, with General Grant and staff, left Cairo yesterday at 10 o'clock, and overtook M'Clernand's, Paine's, and Cook's columns during the afternoon.

The following order in relation to the expedition has been issued by General Grant :


CAIRO, January 13, 1862.


During the absence of the expedition now starting, upon soil hitherto occupied almost solely by the rebel army, and when it is a fair inference that every stranger is our enemy, the following orders will be observed:

Troops in marching will be kept in the ranks, company officers being held strictly accountable for all stragglers from their companies. No firing will be allowed in camp or on the march not strictly required in the performance of duty. While in camp, no permits will be granted to officers or soldiers to leave their regimental grounds, and all violations of this order must be promptly and summarily punished.

Disrepute having been brought upon our brave soldiers by the bad conduct of some of their numbers (showing, on all occasions when marching through territory occupied by sympathizers with the enemy, a total disregard of rights of citizens, and being guilty of wanton destruction of private property), the general commanding desires and intends to enforce a change in this respect. Interpreting confiscating acts by troops themselves has a demoralizing effect, and weakens them in exact proportion to the demoralization, and makes open and armed enemies of the many who, from opposite treatment, would become friends, or at worst non-combatants. It is ordered that the severest punishment be inflicted upon every soldier who is guilty of taking or destroying private property, and any commissioned officer guilty of like conduct, or of countenancing it, shall be deprived of his sword and expelled from the camp, not to be permitted to return.

On the march cavalry advance-guards will be well thrown out. Also flank-guards of cavalry or infantry. When practicable, a regular guard of infantry will be required to see that no teams, baggage, or disabled soldiers are left behind.

It will be the duty of company commanders to see that rolls of their company are called immediately upon going into camp each day, and every member accounted for.

By order,   U. S. GRANT,

Brigadier-General Commanding.


ON page 76 we illustrate the STEAMER "PENSACOLA" PASSING THE REBEL BATTERIES on the Potomac on her way to sea. The Herald correspondent thus describes the passage:

Yesterday morning, 11th, the Pensacola left Alexandria at half past seven o'clock, and immediately proceeded down the river, escorted by the tug-boat Pusey. A large canal-boat, loaded with hay to protect her machinery, was fastened on the starboard side of the Pensacola. She had her top-gallant masts struck, so as to lighten her top hamper as much as possible, which deprived her masts of that beautiful symmetry usually exhibited by her tall and tapering spars, giving them a stumpy appearance. On arriving at Fairfax beach, below the White House, she came to an anchor, to await the time of her departure under cover of darkness.

I accompanied Captain Grumley, of the Stepping Stones, on board the Pensacola. Every thing was prepared for the expected conflict ; the deck was sanded, sponges, rammers, and handspikes provided, and upon the carriage of each gun were a ten-seconds shell and a stand of grape.

At half past three o'clock we (on board the Yankee) were roused up by the officer of the deck, who ordered all hands to quarters, announcing that the Pensacola was coming down. There was no piping nor calling to quarters, as it would have been heard on the Virginia shore, but the men quietly turned out. Soon a black object was seen moving toward us. The sky was overcast with clouds, which obscured the moon and stars, and every thing was favorable for the business in hand. The Pensacola slowly neared us, and passed within a few feet of our starboard side. Captain Morris, hailing the Yankee, ordered a light to be hoisted. This was done on her only mast. A colored light being run up within a few feet of the truck. All hands were now at quarters. The strictest silence was enjoined, and every thing was in readiness to weigh anchor, should that be necessary. The light served two purposes. It guided the Pensacola in taking her bearings, while it deceived the rebels, who no doubt took the Yankee for the Pensacola; and while the latter vessel was slowly stealing past the batteries at Cockpit Point they were awaiting her coming. A light is now seen gleaming from Cockpit Point. It is answered front below, and so on from Freestone Point and intermediate places. These are signal-lights announcing the approach of the Pensacola. The lights occasionally vanish, to be resumed with increasing brilliancy. It is now four o'clock, and not a shot has been fired. It is possible that the Pensacola will be allowed to pass unmolested, the rebels still deceived by our ruse. At length the cheat is discovered, but too late for the most formidable of the batteries at Cockpit Point, that facing Mattawoman Creek and up the river. Stump Neck is passed. There goes a flash, followed, after a few seconds, by the report of a rifled field-piece from the battery facing downward. It is a signal that the Pensacola has commenced to run the gauntlet. A long interval ensues, and we begin to think the batteries lower down will not fire. Another flash is seen, and after another long interval it is followed by three more in rapid succession from the direction of Shipping Point. The Pensacola returns the fire, for a bright flash is seen from the river, revealing the dark hull and rigging of the gallant vessel ; or can it be that a shell from the enemy has struck her and exploded? A light is seen below the batteries; it is from the Freeborn, as a beacon to the Pensacola. The firing continues but slowly. There is a want of vigor on the part of the rebels unusual with them. Battey after battery opens, throwing their shells at long intervals, but the Pensacola does not reply. Seventeen rounds are fired, when a more vivid gleam of yellow flame than any seen before issues from Shipping Point. It is soon followed by a stunning roar. It is the enemy's biggest gun. A long interval of silence is succeeded by one more shot. It is now five minutes to five o'clock. The Pensacola has passed safely.

The secret of the escape of the Pensacola is thus revealed in a letter from one of her officers to the Herald:

The first shot and shell flew through the rigging and around the lower mast-heads and lower yards. Observing this, we knew that the hull of the good ship was safe; for unless we fired the elevation of the enemy's guns could not be rectified. It was a severe trial for officers and men to stand with guns trained upon their assailants and not deliver a reply. There never was a ship in better trim for a conflict, and never were men readier or better trained. for a light, or more deliberately governed by officers. We all knew that Government did not wish the ship to be crippled in the Potomac at any price, and we felt that she must be reserved for a battle-ground where no shell would be thrown away in darkness.


WE illustrate on page 76 THE BURNSIDE EXPEDITION as it appeared off Fort Monroe on the eve of its departure. The Herald correspondent said:

Hampton Roads has only witnessed one such spectacle as the one presented at present, and that was during the latter portion of October, when General Sherman's Port Royal armada congregated here. The scene presented by the numerous vessels composing this expedition is very animating. During the evening of yesterday all the vessels were illuminated, and the music of the numerous bands with the regiments on the vessels was soul-stirring in the extreme. The calm, placid water and the bright silvery moon added additional splendor to the occasion.

Long after retreat was beaten did the soldiers of the Tenth Regiment New York Volunteers line the ramparts, and cheer upon cheer resounded through the "stilly night." A sail in the harbor under such auspices, on a bright moonlight night, with the thermometer at sixty degrees, is a pleasure which can not very conveniently be indulged in north of "Dixie's land."

Our neighbors, the rebels, are of course on the qui vive, and it must have been galling to them to listen to the delightful strains of Gilmore's and other bands that are constantly performing national airs on board of the vessels. The sound of the music is heard at Sewell's point as plainly as it is at the fort, and already has a rebel flag of truce come up on a flimsy pretext to spy out the strength of the expedition, etc.


WE devote page 77 to an illustration of the reception of some Federal prisoners (who had been released by the rebels) in the camp of their division at Washington. The Herald correspondent said :

The returned Bull Run prisoners belonging to the New York 1st regiment, numbering thirty-two, visited their regiment, which is attached to General Franklin's division, and met with a cordial reception from their officers and companions in arms. The poor fellows are staying in quarters here, and have not yet received their pay or a furlough, and were invited to visit their comrades and partake of a bountiful feast. The scene was a touching one, as the men who have languished five months in the rebel prison grasped the hands of their more fortunate fellow-soldiers, and were welcomed home. Many of the officers of the division were present, and in the speeches made on the happy occasion allusions were made in a feeling manner to the sufferings of those who endured captivity, and to the memory of those of the regiment who died in their country's cause. The comfort of the returned prisoners will be amply provided for in the camp.




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