Ship Island


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, January 4, 1862

This is an original Harper's Weekly newspaper published during the Civil War. It has a variety of wood cut illustrations created by eye-witnesses to the events, and in depth news and analysis of the War.

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




Ship Island

Ship Island

Charleston Fire

Charleston Fire

Building Green River Bridge

Green River Bridge


Jeff Davis as the Devil

Ship Island

Ship Island

Savannah Map

Map of Savannah River

Burnside Expedition

General Burnside's Expedition




[JANUARY 4, 1862.



ON page 4 we illustrate SHIP ISLAND, lately occupied by our troops ; on page 13 the vessels composing GENERAL BURNSIDE'S EXPEDITION ; on page 12 a view of GREEN RIVER BRIDGE, KENTUCKY; and on page 5 SAVANNAH AND ITS APPROACHES.

SHIP ISLAND was occupied by the advance-guard of General Butler's expedition on 3d December: The troops consisted of the 26th Massachusetts and 9th Connecticut Volunteers, under command of Brigadier-General Phelps. They left Massachusetts in the steamer Constitution; their embarkation was duly illustrated in Harper's Weekly at the time. On 3d inst., as we said, they arrived at their destination, landed, and occupied the island without molestation. It is understood that they are to be followed by other troops, on whose arrival operations will be commenced against Mobile or New Orleans, or both. The following account of Ship Island will, with our illustrations, enable our readers to understand the importance of the  movement:

Ship Island is situated in longitude 89 and a little north of latitude 30, and is the property of the State of Mississippi. It is about sixty miles from New Orleans, nearly the same distance from the Northeast Pass, at the mouth of the Mississippi River, forty miles from Mobile, and ninety from Fort Pickens. It lies between Horn Island on the east and Cat Island on the west, and is distant about five miles from each. Some ten or twelve miles to the north, on the main land of Mississippi, are the towns of Balexi, Pascagoula, and Mississippi City. These towns are favorite summer resorts for the wealthy planters and merchants of the Gulf States, and, in consequence of a bar off their shore, are now the places of refuge for rebel gun-boats.

Ship Island is somewhat undulating, and extends in a slight curve about seven miles east-northeast and westsouthwest. At West Point (the western end), where the fort is located, the island is little more than an eighth of a mile wide, and is a mere sand spit, utterly barren of grass or foliage of any kind. This eastern end, or East Point, is about three-quarters of a mile in width, and is well wooded with pine, cedar, and live-oak.

The whole island contains a fraction less than two square miles of territory. Excellent water can be obtained in unlimited supply by sinking a barrel any where on the place. The great advantage of this is too palpable to require comment.

The island possesses a very superior harbor, into which nineteen feet can be carried at ordinarily low water. It is situated north of the west end of the island. The anchorage, with water equal to the depth on the bar, is five miles long, and averages three and a quarter miles in width. The harbor is safe for the most dangerous storms in the Gulf—those from the eastward, southward and eastward, and southward—and might be easily entered during these storms without a pilot, if good light-houses were placed in proper positions. The rise and fall of the tide is only from twelve to fourteen inches.

FORT MASSACHUSETTS, of which we give an illustration, is thus described in the Herald letter:

This fort, which is situated on the sand spit at the extreme western end of the island, is nearly circular in shape, somewhat resembling a pear in form. As I have stated elsewhere, its construction was commenced by the federal Government, and when in a state of considerable progress was burned by the rebels, who afterward rebuilt and then abandoned it. It is of brick, and rendered bomb-proof by sand-bags place fire or six feet deep in front of the walls.

The rebels built eleven casemates, and our forces have built two more since they have occupied the fort. The casemates are bomb-proof. The fort is at present but one tier high. It is provided with Dahlgren's 9-inch shell guns of very heavy calibre and in perfect order, and they are hourly expecting sixteen more very heavy guns from Pensacola. Besides this, Captain Manning's battery have landed five of their steel rifled cannon, with the Sawyer projectile. There were six of these guns on board the Constitution, but unfortunately one of them was lost overboard in removing them from the transport. It is hoped that they will be able to recover it, as a buoy floats right over the spot where it full.

The vessels composing GENERAL BURNSIDE'S EXPEDITION will he found portrayed on page 13. They comprise vessels of all kinds, from steam-sloops to schooners. The principal craft, composing the expedition proper, are North River propellers altered into gun-boats. These vessels, it is believed, will prove very useful, as they can carry a large number of men, besides acting as gun-boats. They have been strengthened throughout, and carry from two to four guns each. The destination of General Burnside's expedition is, of course, a secret. It is surmised, however, that it will operate in conjunction with General McClellan, and form a base not very far from Fortress Monroe.

GREEN RIVER BRIDGE, KENTUCKY, near which the contending armies under Schoepf and Zollicoffer have been encamped, is 73 miles from Louisville, Kentucky, on the line of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. This most elegant structure was built in the fall of 1857. It is nearly 1000 feet in length; the centre pier is 115 feet high. The first, or south pier, was blown up by the rebels and entirely destroyed.

Our birds-eye view of SAVANNAH AND ITS APPROACHES will convey a clear idea of the theatre of Commodore Dupont's operations.


WE have republished separately the admirable War Map of the Southern States, which appeared in a late Number of HARPER'S WEEKLY, and are prepared to furnish it, BEAUTIFULLY COLORED, at Six CENTS per copy, with the usual discount to Agents. This Map is generally admitted to he the MOST COMPLETE WAR MAP IN EXISTENCE.


THE great exertions made by the proprietors of HARPER'S WEEKLY to illustrate the WAR have been rewarded by a large increase of circulation. During last year over FIVE HUNDRED ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE WAR have been published in HARPER'S WEEKLY. It now circulates ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY THOUSAND COPIES WEEKLY; which is, we believe, the largest circulation of any Journal in this country in which Advertisements are published, Price 50 and 75 cents per line.

EUROPEAN Dealers will be supplied with HARPER'S WEEKLY by John Adams Knight, Publisher of the London American, 100 Fleet Street, London, England, where Subscriptions and Advertisements will be received, and single copies of HARPER'S MONTHLY and WEEKLY furnished.


IT is well understood that Great Britain has demanded satisfaction for the Trent affair, in what terms and to what extent is not known at the time we write. It is inferred from the tone of the British press that the degree of satisfaction required is such as can not be granted without subjecting the United States to decided humiliation. And the question which has engrossed the minds of all loyal Americans during the past week has been whether we should submit to humiliation, or go to war again with England.

The answer to that question has not been unanimous. Some of our leading men and some journals are for war with England if the British demands growing out of the Trent affair are such as can not be honorably complied with. Others again hold that in our present straits we can not afford to embark in a foreign war, and that it is better for us now to submit to the demands of England, whatever they may be, and to trust to the future for opportunities of redress and vengeance. The latter view appears to be entertained by those whose opinion is entitled to the greatest weight.

They argue that if the British navy and British credit were placed at the service of the rebels, it would be a work of superhuman difficulty to conquer them. We might, and we probably would, do infinite injury to British commerce. We might, if it were deemed worth while, overrun Canada, and add that wild and worthless region to our dominion. We might even stir up serious disturbances in Ireland. But all this would not compensate us for the permanent division of the Union and the erection of a hostile power on our own soil. There is no question but the navy of Great Britain is at present so superior to ours that our blockade would be speedily broken, and thus the great object for whose accomplishment we have taken up arms would be placed beyond our reach. The war between the insurrectionary and the loyal States would be prolonged indefinitely, and our ultimate success would be rendered extremely doubtful.

In view of these considerations, and of the paramount importance of preserving the Union at all costs, a majority of our leading men are understood to be of the opinion that the wisest course now is to comply with the demands of Great Britain whatever they may be, and to reserve to ourselves the right of reopening the controversy hereafter. That this is the view of the Administration we do not know. But there is reason to believe that Mr. Lincoln is as keenly alive as any one to the vital importance of maintaining our nationality at any sacrifice, and that he will not risk the main point for the sake of incidental controversies and side issues.

Of the conduct of Great Britain in this affair it requires unusual self-control to speak in measured language. It is as well known in England as here that the United States are engaged in a life struggle; that every man and every dollar are enlisted in a contest for the maintenance of our nationality; that there never has been a time since the conquest of our independence when this country was less fitted to embark in a foreign war. It requires some self-command to remark upon the conduct of a nation which chooses this moment to offer us the option of war or humiliation. History, we think, may vainly be searched for a parallel. Half a dozen times since 1814 occasions of war have arisen between this country and England, and have always been adjusted by diplomacy. It is only now, when our whole energies are engrossed in a domestic struggle, that England ventures to threaten us with war.

But a just Providence rules, and to Him the issue may safely be intrusted. No wrong, in national affairs, ever goes unpunished. No such baseness as England has evinced in the course of the past nine months can escape retribution. A time will come—and in our day, too—when we shall call England to account for the unnatural enmity she has displayed toward the United States ; for her base sympathy with traitors and pirates, and for the unspeakable cowardice she now evinces in trying to drive us to the wall in the hour of our most trying extremity She should be the last Power in the world to make us her foe, for she has not a friend in the world. There is not a nation in Europe that would not exult over the ruin of England, for there is not one she has not insulted, outraged, or injured at some moment when they could not strike back. France, Russia, Spain, Germany, Italy—all will sympathize heart and soul with us when the time comes for our retribution, our vengeance. Millions of poor creatures in India, and millions in China, will bless the day when we strike to the heart of the brutal oppressor, who, for a century, has trampled

them, and robbed them, and cheated them, and tried to convert them into mere instruments for the consumption of Manchester and Birmingham goods Twice in our history we have fought with England, each time for causes which even Englishmen now admit to have been just. We have one more fight in prospect: but it will be the last. .


HARPER'S WEEKLY wishes its friends a Happy New Year ! It has every reason to do so, for it believes firmly in the prospects and promises of the coming time. Nor can it be unmindful of the prosperity which has followed it during the eventful year that now closes—a prosperity which it may fairly say is not altogether undeserved. With a weekly issue of 120,000 copies, an illustrated journal like this is necessarily a power in the land. Today, at least, while it compliments all others, it may be forgiven for not forgetting itself; especially if it means, in good faith, not to forget itself in the coming year, but to serve its friends as faithfully as in the past.

A Happy New Year ! It can hardly fail to be that. The tempest upon our Southern horizon is already wasting itself away, and it will leave the land fatter and fairer in all good purposes and principles. The cloud that rolls up for the moment from the East, beyond the sea, is a cloud that is transparent, and a peaceful sky shines through it. We have come in the last year to our national consciousness. We have proved to ourselves that the sons are worthy of the sires. The proof has cost money and blood, and will yet cost more. But that retrospect makes even the dark year of war welcome, and the consequences will make each future year of our lives a Happy New Year.


WHATEVER be the result of the difficulty between this country and England, history will record but a few simple facts:

That this was a great friendly power at peace with Great Britain ;

That under different political systems each country was working out the problem of constitutional liberty;

That our commercial relations were most essential and intimate;

That the traditional mutual jealousy and dislike springing naturally from the circumstances of our earlier history were fast disappearing;

That while England was distinctively an Anti-Slavery nation, and the system of Slavery still lingered among us, yet that public sentiment here was rapidly ripening and preparing the peaceful and lawful solution of the question, of which the proof was the election of Mr. Lincoln;

That that result being clearly foreseen by a faction in the country, they raised the standard of revolt professedly to destroy this Government and to establish another upon the corner-stone of Slavery;

That no other reason for the revolt was seriously presented or accepted;

That immediately upon the declaration of this rebellion, before it had struck any significant blow, or achieved any result whatsoever, the British Government, without waiting for a word from this Government, at once recognized the rebels as a belligerent power, thereby treating a faction aiming to subvert a friendly government for the purpose already indicated as the warlike equal of that government;

That in reply to the natural incredulity, surprise, and indignation of loyal American citizens, the chief organs of British opinion, leading statesmen, and public men, assumed the destruction of this Government as a fact already accomplished, and accused the citizens who were maintaining the integrity of the nation of waging a wicked and fratricidal war;

That the thinly-veiled sympathy with the rebellion, and selfish delight in the difficulties of this nation, which, with few exceptions, have been manifested by Great Britain from the beginning, at length induced the captain of an English passenger steamer, in open and deliberate violation of the Queen's proclamation—which was intended to embarrass this Government by granting belligerent rights to rebels, but which expressly forbade all English subjects to carry "officers, soldiers, dispatches, arms," etc.—to receive as passengers two men personally known to him as emissaries of the rebels to foreign courts, and so publicly declared to be by the ringleader of the rebellion;

That in pursuance of the unquestionable rights of a belligerent power, a naval officer of the United States stopped the offending steamer, and, after seizing the traitors, kindly permitted the offending ship to proceed;

That Great Britain had always exercised, and still asserted, the right of stopping any American vessel upon the high seas, and removing any British seaman found on board ;

That she had thus stopped hundreds of American vessels, and removed thousands of sailors;

That upon hearing what this nation had done, the English were as furious as if they had the prescriptive right to do precisely as they chose, and other nations only what Great Britain might permit;—

At this point the record, for the moment, closes. If it shall be completed by the further fact that thereupon England declared war against us, recognized the rebellion as a successful revolution, and, in concert with the slaveholders, sought to overthrow this Government and consummate the ruin of the country, no student of history will be surprised. No nation is disinterested. None is so little so as England. Only the greatest firmness and care upon the part of this Government can prevent

her hastening, in the hour of our peril, from dealing a blow which she will hope may remove her most formidable rival forever.


THE attitude of the country and the tone of the newspapers since the news of the English excitement are most admirable. Perfectly calm and perfectly firm, neither inviting nor evading a war, which could not fail to fall most heavily upon all sides, the feeling of the nation undoubtedly is to acknowledge frankly any wrong that may have been committed, and to submit to no dishonor.

Unquestionably the Government will insist that, by all international law and usage, and especially by the uniform conduct of England upon the ocean, nothing can be clearer than the right of a national ship to stop a neutral vessel and remove contraband of war, dispatches, and agents.

If the British Government should claim that, as we do not recognize the rebels as belligerents, they must be considered political refugees invoking the protection of the English flag; and that therefore England can no more allow them to be taken by force from an English ship than she could allow Mann and Yancey to be taken by force from English soil—the reply is final, that, without going further, it is quite enough that Great Britain has recognized them as belligerents, and has formally warned all English ships that they carry officers, dispatches, and contraband goods at their peril.

If England shall ask an explanation, there will be an explanation and correspondence. If it fails to satisfy, the matter can and should be left to arbitrament. This nation wishes to do nothing wrong. But, of course, it does not accept England as the expounder of what is right. That must be determined by a congress of nations, or by an arbiter mutually selected.

If England sends an ultimatum, Lord Lyons will have received his passports before this paper is printed.

Should that be the course, it will be evident that she wished only war, and necessarily the responsibility will be hers. The chances for war are—the English hatred of America; the want of cotton; the danger of loss of office by the present Ministry if they do not raise the war-cry; and the opportunity of striking us and finishing us when we may be hit at a disadvantage. The chances for peace are—in the unquestionable justice of our position; in the wisdom and coolness of our Government; in the traditional jealousy of France toward England, which would not fail to strike when England was most exposed; and the universal tumult in the world which such a war would occasion.

The probability is, that the black cloud will mutter hoarsely and roll away. The possibility is, that the whole vexed question of belligerent rights may be settled by an international congress.


WHY should England wish a war with us? Is she not our natural friend? are questions that are instinctively asked by many who have fondly cherished the tradition that England was a peculiarly magnanimous power. and that community of language and race is sufficient to secure permanent friendship between us.

But the case is very clear to a moment's calm consideration.

If we emerge victorious from the suppression of the rebellion, as no sane man doubts, we shall have demonstrated the superiority of our system to every other in the world; for no other government could hope to subdue a conspiracy so vast and vigorous as this has proved to be. Our success will be the most fatal argument against an aristocratic system. Every English coronet, from the crown down, will feel itself cracked. Bright will be the Englishman of proved deepest insight; and what would not English toryism and the testy prejudice of John Bull do to avoid seeing John Bright justified? Our success will be a tremendous political argument against England.

But again, if we are victorious, we come out with an army and a navy which make us absolute masters of this Continent, and America master of the seas. What, then, becomes of the mistress? If John Bull bears, like the Turk, no rival near the throne, what is he likely to do with a superior?

Our domestic struggle is thus really the crisis of England. She has seen it from the beginning, and hence all her conduct during the contest. Doubtless she will strain every point now to precipitate war. But if she does not at once insist upon an ultimatum, this effort will be defeated.

The cue of England at this moment is to insist upon the right of secession, in order to pave the way to a recognition of the Confederate traitors. This spirit appears in all quarters. "Senator So-and-so has the temerity to deny the right of secession!" exclaimed an Englishman the other day, who had been in the country four months; and the Athenoeum, a purely literary and scientific London paper, begins a review of a work upon the American Union by a Mr. James Spence, with these words: "Although Mr. James Spence takes the right side on the main question raised in his book, and arranges with lucidity and force the arguments which establish the existence of a constitutional right to secede in, the States of the American Union," etc., etc.

This is amusing, because nothing is more profound than the ignorance of every Englishman in the matter of our political system. That they should be ignorant is not surprising. But that they should now, whether in the person of Mr. James Spence, or those mysterious and final gentlemen "the Law Officers of the Crown," undertake to enlighten the world at large, and especially the President and his Cabinet, as to the proper interpretation of our Constitution, is so ludicrously preposterous that it must be turned off with a loud laugh.

And yet, notwithstanding this practical absurdity, and the unquestionable alienation of English  (Next Page)




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