Release of Rebels Mason and Slidell


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, January 18, 1862

This WEB site features online, readable versions of the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. These old newspapers have a variety of incredible pictures, and in depth analysis of the key people, battles, and events in the Civil War.

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


Port Royal

The Battle of Port Royal

Port Royal Battle

Trent Affair

Release of Slidell and Mason

General Burnside

General Burnside


Richmond Story

Civil War Prisoners

Richmond Prison

Trent Affair

Trent Affair Cartoon

Burnside Expedition

General Burnside's Expedition

Skating Season

Skating Season

Richmond, Virginia





JANUARY 18, 1862.]



(Previous Page) any neutral American ship and undertake to remove, or succeed in removing, any person claimed under any whimsey of owing allegiance to the British Crown, that Crown would instantly hear from Washington : "It thus appears that certain individuals have been forcibly taken from on board a United States vessel, the ship of a neutral Power, while such vessel was pursuing a lawful and innocent voyage—an act of violence which was an affront to the United States flag, and a violation of international law."

I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word.


THE letter of M. Thouvenel to Mr. Seward is interesting in itself, as showing the French doctrine of neutral rights. It is interesting historically, because throughout our troubles England and France have moved hand in hand. France asserts for herself the unquestionable right of her flag, when neutral, to cover vessels and cargo between neutral ports, even although there be enemy's civil agents on board. The only doubt she raises, and that is but a doubt, is the case of "military people actually in the service of the enemy."

This ground, of course, concedes the right of search to ascertain that the flag is truly neutral, and not falsely borne ; and that the vessel is making a neutral voyage but nothing further.

The United States, according to Mr. Seward's letter, takes the ground, that " whatever disputes have existed concerning a right of visitation or search in time of peace, none, it is supposed, has existed in modern times about the right of a belligerent in time of war to capture contraband in neutral and even friendly merchant vessels." And the Secretary assumes, that, according to British maritime law, the fact of passage of the neutral " from one neutral point to another does not modify the right of the belligerent captor."

This ground, of course, covers the right of our cruisers to stop a French merchantman conveying dispatches or embassadors, and taking them before a prize court for condemnation. But upon the doctrine advanced by France, if Breckinridge and Hunter should embark from a French colony in a French mail-packet for a French port, the case of the Trent, mutatis mutandis, and the ship and passengers be seized for adjudication, we should be brought into direct issue with France.

It is of the utmost importance to the peace of the world that this vexed question should be settled. The joint action of France and England, however, in the matter of our offer to accede to the Treaty of Paris, pure and simple-an action by which they proposed to impose a condition upon us which they did not accept for themselves—precludes the hope of any present adjustment. We must therefore all the more desire that no direct complication of the kind may arise with France.


BULWER'S tale, " A Strange Story," regularly published in the Weekly, is about ended. Thackeray's "Philip," and Anthony Trollope's " Orley Farm," with its charming illustrations by Millais, are still proceeding amicably together in Harper's Magazine.

But the story-tellers never tire. Wilkie Collins, whose fascinating and famous " Woman in White" was read with such avidity, and managed with such masterly skill by the author, is about commencing a new tale, of which the readers of the Weekly will have the earliest glimpses ; while the author of " John Halifax," one of the most popular and delightful of late novels, begins in Harper's Magazine in February a story called " Mistress and Maid." The opening is most genial and charming. The Flemish detail of portraiture and scenery reveal the sharp eye and steady hand which the friends of " John Halifax" recall; while the sketches of the three sisters, the sedate elder, no longer young, the invalid second, and the younger, Hilary, only twenty, give promise of a tale of the greatest interest, enlivened with the most smiling humor. It is a domestic story with a winning household tone in it, and yet even in the first chapter the rosy hue of romance invests it. The story is sure to be a delightful companion in these tumultuous times.


A DAY or two before Mr. Seward's letter appeared, an English gentleman, rubbing his hands briskly, remarked to an American friend, " War ! war ! of course, war. You have insulted us, and we shall just turn to and lay you down, and give you a good thrashing."

"What !" replied the American, quietly, scrawling carelessly upon the newspaper he was reading the figures 1775 and 1812, " What, again ?"


AGRICULTURAL.-" I put outside my window a large box, filled it with mould, and sowed it with seed. What do you think came up? Wheat, barley, or oats? No, a policeman, who ordered me to remove it."

" First class in philosophy stand up. Thibets, what is life ?"—"Life consists of money, a horse, and a fashionable wife." "What is poverty?" —"The reward of merit which genius receives from a discriminating public." " What is religion ?"—" Doing unto others as you please, without allowing a return of the compliment." "What is fame ?"—" A six-line puff in a newspaper."

An English gentleman once fell from his horse and injured his thumb. The pain increasing, he was obliged to send for a surgeon. One day the doctor was unable to visit his patient, and therefore sent his son instead.

" Have you visited the Englishman?" said his father in the evening.

" Yes," replied the young man, " and I have drawn out a thorn which I ascertained to be the chief cause of his agony."

"Fool!" exclaimed the father. "I trusted you had more sense ; now there is an end to the job."

A celebrated poet advertised that he would supply "Lines for any occasion." A fisherman sought him soon after, and wanted " a line strong enough to catch a porpoise."

Somebody has said that "We ought always to believe less than we are told." This may be a safe maxim for general use, but when a woman intrusts you—in confidence, of course—with her age, you may always believe a great deal more than you are told.

"What have you got to say, old Bacon-face?" said a counselor to a farmer at the late Cambridge Assizes. "Why," answered the farmer, " I am thinking my Bacon-face and your Calf's-head would make a very good dish."

" James, my boy, take this letter to the post-office, and pay the postage." The boy returned highly elated, and said, "Father, I seed a lot of men putting letters in a little place, and when no one was looking I slipped yours in for nothing."

It is related of the French family of the Duke de Levis, that they have a picture in their chateau in which Noah is represented going into the ark, and carrying under his arm a small trunk on which is written, "Papers belonging to the Levis family."

" My faculty, surely, is the more ancient, for the killing of Abel by Cain was the first criminal case," said a lawyer to a medical friend. " Sure enough," replied the doctor; " but before that happened a rib was taken out of Adam's side, and that constituted the first surgical operation."

A lady, very fond of her notwithstanding his ugliness of person, once said to Rogers, the poet, "What do you think? My husband has laid out fifty guineas for a baboon on purpose to please me." "The dear little man!" replied Rogers ; "it's just like him."

Some minds will always be slow till you cut them to the quick.

We suppose that there is quite as large an amount of craft upon the land as there is upon the water.

Swinging is said, by the doctors, to be a good exercise for the health, but many a poor wretch has come to his death by it.

A beggar boy applying to a lady at Boston for money to get a dose of castor-oil, was called in, and the oil was administered gratis, despite his grimaces.

"How are you to-day?" inquired a doctor of his patient. "A little better, thank you." " Have you taken any dinner to-day?" "Yes, a little goose." " With appetite ?" " No, Sir, with apple-sauce."

Wanted to know—whether the volume of sound has yet been found.

A curate having been overhauled by his bishop for attending a ball, the former replied, "My lord, I wore a mask." "Oh well," returned the bishop, "that puts a new face on the affair."

The "boy" who was told that the best cure for palpitation of the heart was to quit kissing the girls, said, "If that is the only remedy which can be proposed, I, for one, say let 'er palpitate."

It is a current belief that a wolf is never more dangerous than when he feels sheepish.

A lawyer once asked a hotel-keeper the following question: "If a man gives you a hundred pounds to keep for him, and dies, what do you do? Do you pray for him?" "No, Sir," replied the landlord ; "I pray for another like him."

A belle doesn't differ so very much from a bell; both have their clappers in their mouths.


See the Opinion Nationale and other French papers on the Trent Affair, in another column.

An old gentleman who had dabbled all his life in statistics, says he never heard of but one woman who insured her life. He accounts for this by the singular fact of one of the questions being, What is your age?"

"Mike, and is it yerself that can be afther telling me how they make ice-crame?" " In truth I can. Don't they bake them in cowld ovens, to be sure!"

An officer who had lost his hand by a grape-shot was in company with a young lady, who remarked that it was a cruel ball which deprived him of his hand. "A noble ball, madam," said he, "for it bore away the palm!"

Why is a fine woman like a locomotive ?—Because she draws a train after her, transports the mails (males), and makes us forget time and space.

Sir James, then Mr. Mackintosh, once dining in a large party with Parr, the conversation turned upon an Irish Roman Catholic priest, who had been executed for treason at Maidstone. Mackintosh, violent in his observations on the culprit, drew down upon himself the wrath of the Doctor: " Sir," said Parr, " the criminal who has been hanged was an Irishman—be might have been a Scotchman; he was a priest—he might have been a lawyer ; he was consistent—he might have been an apostate!"

They have got a pig in Hampshire so thoroughly educated that he has taken to music. They regulate his tune by twisting his tail—the greater the twist the higher the note.

"Speaking of shaving," said a pretty girl to an obdurate old bachelor, " I should think that a pair of handsome eyes would be the best mirror to shave by.". "Yes, many a poor fellow has been 'shaved' by them," the wretch replied.



ON Monday, December 30, in the Senate, a number of petitions praying for the emancipation of the slaves under the war power were presented. A communication was received from the Secretary of War, stating that it is incompatible with the public interest to furnish the correspondence which has passed between General Scott and General Patterson relative to the conduct of the war. Senator Davis, of Kentucky, introduced a bill declaring certain persons enemies, and for sacrificing their property for the benefit of loyal citizens.-In the House, Mr. Spaulding introduced a bill authorizing the issue of Treasury Notes, payable on demand. It was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means. A bill was introduced repealing certain laws creating ports of entry. Mr. Potter offered resolutions calling on the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of the Interior to furnish the select committee appointed to inquire into the alleged disloyalty of Government employes with certain information, in order to make their report. He stated that there were five hundred clerks in the public employ who are disloyal to the Government. The resolutions were objected to, and therefore were not acted on.

On Thursday, January 2, in the Senate, petitions were presented for the emancipation of slaves under the war power, and for the establishment of a line of mail steamers between San Francisco and China. Senator Kennedy presented a resolution from the State of Maryland protesting against interference with slavery in the States by the General Government. Senator Sumner offered a resolution, which was adopted, that the President be requested, if not incompatible with the public interest, to transmit to the Senate all the correspondence which has taken place since the Congress held at Paris in 1856, relating to neutral and belligerent rights on the ocean. A bill providing for the appointment of sutlers for the volunteers, and defining their duties, was introduced by Senator Wilson, and referred. Senator Wilson offered a resolution directing inquiry with reference to an increase of the military force; also a resolution calling for information as to the number of cavalry regiments authorized to be raised, where they are stationed, and if it would not be advisable to convert those not yet mustered into service into regiments of infantry—both adopted. The Secretary of War was requested to furnish copies of the reports of the Surgeon-General and Sanitary Commission on the health of the army.-In the House, a resolution was adopted calling on the Secretary of War for information why certain regiments of New York volunteers now in Washington are not provided with arms, and whether any legislation is necessary to enable the War Department to furnish arms to the troops now in the field. A bill providing for the defense of Philadelphia and the Delaware River was introduced and referred. Mr. Vallandigham offered a resolution calling on the Secretary of the Treasury for information respecting the national debt and revenue, but it was objected to and was not received.

On Monday, January 6, in the Senate, the credentials of the new Senator from Oregon, Mr. Stark, were presented by his colleague, but Senator Fessenden moved that the administration of the oath be suspended, and that the credentials and certain papers in his possession impeaching the loyalty of Mr. Stark be referred to the Judiciary Committee. After some discussion the papers were laid on the table for the present. The documents for the State Department relative to the Trent affair were received, and made the special order for Thursday. Senator Fessenden offered a joint resolution authorizing the Secretary of the Treasury to allow goods (coffee, tea, and sugar) warehoused before the passage of the recent act, to be withdrawn, with the duty of the former act paid, and the duties collected on such goods under the late act be refunded. The resolution was adopted. Senator Collamer offered a resolution that the Committee on the Post-Office be instructed to inquire into the expediency of placing a tax on conveying intelligence by telegraph. The resolution was agreed to. Senator Davis introduced a joint resolution that the President procure an exchange of prisoners from the privateer Jeff Davis for prisoners taken from the army of the United States. The joint resolution was adopted.-In the House, Mr. Roscoe L. Conkling, of New York, called attention to the fact that on the second day of the session a resolution was adopted requesting the Secretary of War to inform the House whether any steps have been taken to ascertain who are responsible for the defeat of the Union forces at the battle of Ball's Bluff. To this resolution the military authorities made answer to the effect that the proposed investigation would be incompatible with the public interests. This answer Mr. Conkling, Mr. Lovejoy, and others deemed unsatisfactory, and they animadverted upon the management of the Ball's Bluff affair, and the conduct of the war generally, in severe terms. Finally, Mr. Conkling offered a resolution declaring that the answer of the War Department is neither responsive nor satisfactory to the House, and that the Secretary of War be directed to return a further answer, and after a long discussion it was adopted by a vote of 79 against 64. A joint resolution, authorizing the withdrawal of tea, coffee, and sugar from bonded warehouses on payment of the rate of duty levied under the tariff of August last, and to refund any excess of duties above those imposed by the said act of August, was adopted.


Our troops in Western Virginia had a brisk skirmish with the rebels at Huntersville on Saturday morning, which resulted in a complete success. A body of our men, numbering seven hundred and forty, and consisting of a portion of the Fifth Ohio, Second Virginia, and Brocken's cavalry, made an attack on Huntersville, which was defended by four hundred rebel cavalry and three hundred and fifty infantry, and after an attack of an hour's duration the rebels were defeated with a loss of eighty killed and wounded. No one was killed on the Union side. The enemy retired from the town, leaving eighty thousand dollars' worth of army stores and clothing in the bands of our troops.


Messrs. Mason and Slidell have taken their departure for England in the British war steamer Rinaldo, which arrived at Provincetown on 31st December. They were taken from Fort Warren by the tug-boat Starlight at eleven

o'clock on 1st January, and put on board the Rinaldo, together with their secretaries, Eustis and M'Farland. The Rinaldo sailed for Europe at six o'clock on the evening of New-Year's Day, the wind at that time blowing a perfect hurricane.


Two hundred and forty Union prisoners were brought to Fortress Monroe on Friday, who were released from Richmond. They were brought down the James River by the rebel steamer Northampton, and put on board the steam-boat George Washington. They were soon after forwarded to Baltimore.


A rumor was published in the Richmond Dispatch of Friday last that General Butler had made advances from Ship Island, in the Mississippi Sound, to Biloxi, a small town on the coast, where they landed from five to seven thousand men, and that the Union troops would soon occupy all the towns and villages in that vicinity, and intend to push on to Jackson.


It was learned from some contrabands taken in small canoes off Back River, in the Chesapeake Bay, last week. that the inhabitants of Yorktown are in a state of great trepidation, fearing that the destination of General Burnside's expedition is the York River, and that a grand attack is to be made on Yorktown. It is said that General Magruder telegraphed to Richmond for permission to destroy Yorktown by fire, and that he was directed not to do so except in case of the greatest emergency.

The abandonment of Big Bethel by the rebels is confirmed by dispatches from Fortress Monroe, although it has not been found necessary to occupy that place by a garrison of Union troops. Upon the arrival of the scouting party of our army the place was found to be wholly deserted. Breast-works extending for nearly a mile, pierced for twelve guns, were erected there by the rebels.


Information from Green County, Kentucky, represents that a battle there is imminent, as the two opposing forces of the Union and rebel armies are in close juxtaposition—the rebels with five regiments at Cave City, and the Union troops at Munfordsville, these places being only seven miles apart.


It is reported by dispatches to the Southern papers from Pensacola, that Colonel Harvey Brown opened fire from Fort Pickens on New-Year's Day on a rebel steamer while going to the Navy Yard, and that the fire was responded to, and continued all the day, from the batteries of General Bragg. No damage, however, is said to have been done. General Bragg renewed the fire on the 2d, but the guns from Fort Pickens did not respond, and the fire from Bragg's batteries was consequently suspended.


It is stated on the authority of the Richmond papers of Friday, and by the assurance of gentlemen who arrived at Baltimore from that city, that the rebel steamer Ella Warley (formerly the Isabel), which arrived at Nassau, New Providence, as recently reported, ran the blockade of Charleston at daylight on Thursday, the 2d inst., and entered that port with a cargo of small arms, cannon, ammunition, and other stores, principally drugs. How she succeeded in running the blockade remains to be shown. It is also said that the rebel vessel had on board a Mr. Brisbie, bearer of dispatches from Mr. Yancey to the rebel government.


Within the past three weeks some of the Southern cities have suffered from conflagrations to an extent without a parallel. We give below the most disastrous fires, with the dates of their occurrence :

December 12—Charleston ...   $8,000,000

December 17—Greenville, Alabama   50,000

December 22 Nashville,Tennessee   800,000

January 1—Richmond    65,000

Total    $8,915, 000


 The Richmond Examiner of the 3d instant has an excellent article on the scheme of the rebel Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Memminger, to pay the interest (two per cent.) due on Confederate bonds out of specie for which he pays forty or fifty per cent. The condition of the rebel army is pictured by the rebel papers as almost hopelessly demoralized. Regimental drills have fallen into complete disuse. Drunkenness is said to be prevalent throughout the whole rank and file of the army, which is represented as a terror and dread to the citizens of the South generally.


The British steamer Fingall attempted to run the blockade at Savannah, but was foiled. She got ready to make her way through Warsaw Sound, but information having been received from a deserter, the gun-boat Ottawa was dispatched to the Sound, and on her arrival the rebel mosquito fleet of Tatnall came down to attack her. After a brisk engagement a shell was put through Commodore Tatnall's vessel, when he retired. The escape of the Fingall was thus frustrated.


Mrs. Greenhow, the female rebel, has been detected in carrying on a secret correspondence with the enemy, in spite of the close watch kept upon her house in Washington. It has, therefore, been decided to send her at once to Fort Lafayette, where she will have no opportunity of communicating information to her Southern friends.

The Court of Inquiry, in the case of Colonel Miles, charged with being intoxicated at the battle of Bull Run, has honorably acquitted him of the charge. The decision is furnished in a report of Reverdy Johnson and R. S. Gillett.



ENGLAND continues her preparations for war under the pressure of a very intense and general excitement, stimulated and promoted by the daily effusions of the ministerial and aristocratic press. At latest dates troops were still mustering for service in Canada, although the Australasian, Persia, Adriatic, Parana, Niagara, and other vessels had already been dispatched, filled with the most efficient regiments in the British service, to North America. All the available vessels in the British Mediterranean fleet had been ordered to assemble at Gibraltar to proceed, as was supposed, to the same destination.



The Opinion Nationale—the organ of Prince Napoleon —openly asserts that "England is the only enemy of France," while the Revue des Deux Mondes and other French journals show, in articles of great force and spirit, that the dearest "revolutionary traditions of France" are with the United States, and that she can not be so foolish as to go to war with us in behalf of the only Power on earth which has reason to "fear" our maritime extension. The Revue adds that England only wants to "conquer bread' for her manufacturing classes.

The Italian press is adverse to England's assumption of supremacy on the ocean, and while it condemns the action of Captain Wilkes, it inclines to a continental adhesion to whatever course France would take in case of war.



The first hostile step of the allied expedition against Mexico was taken on the 17th ultimo, when the Spanish troops from the fleet landed at Vera Cruz, took unopposed possession of that city and the fort of San Juan d'Ulloa, and hoisted the Spanish flag over the city and the fort. The rejoicings in Havana on the receipt of the news were most enthusiastic.





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