Battle of Mechanicsville


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, July 12, 1862

For students and researchers interested in a more in depth examination of the Civil War, we have posted all the original Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. Harper's Weekly was the most popular newspaper of the day, and this online collection can provide incredible details not available elsewhere.

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


Lew Wallace

Lew Wallace

Cotton Shortage

Cotton Shortage


Battle of Mechanicsville


Hampton, Virginia

Lewis Wallace

Lewis Wallace Biography

General Butler

General Butler

General Pope

General Pope

New Orleans Cartoon

New Orleans Cartoon


Civil War Surgeon


View of Richmond

Bayonet Charge

Winslow Homer "Bayonet Charge"





JULY 12, 1862.]



(Previous Page) people like Mr. Sedgwick could be hung before the end of the war.

It is high time that Mr. Mallory and the gentlemen who find nothing worth saving in the country but slavery should understand that the time has passed in the Congress of the United States when a profession of faith in the fundamental idea of this Government is to be received by ruffianism either in words or deeds. They should be taught by public opinion to know that Mr. Preston Brooks no longer sits in that House, and that his principles and practices are no longer the Congressional rule of conduct; and that if Mr. Mallory or any body else attempts to revive them, he will find that his only reward is the disgust and contempt of every loyal American citizen.


IN a neat and convenient form the author of this volume, Mr. Fetridge, has condensed the necessary information for travelers in the great European and Eastern tour. He understands perfectly that such a book ought to contain what the traveler must otherwise "pick out of some twenty-five different guide-books, at a cost of nearly seventy dollars, besides the inconvenience of carrying some twenty-five pounds of extra baggage." This little work teems with valuable directions. It puts the traveler in the way of seeing and hearing and knowing all that is most interesting and delightful in his tour: and for the American traveler especially it contains a score of invaluable hints in regard to the details of traveling and expenses. The author has consulted all the proper books, and has himself made many of the tours for which he gives ample instructions. He has made an indispensable vade mecum of travel—and furnishes blank pages at the end that the notes of future travelers may enable his book to keep up with the times.


THE WREATH FOR WRINKLES.—"If flowers are worn as ornaments for the dress, those in the hair should, of course, be of the same kind; for elderly ladies they can be intermixed with lace or feathers." Very well. If elderly ladies must wear flowers in their hair, and would choose appropriate flowers, they should decorate it with elder-flowers. The lace with which those flowers are intermixed should be antique, and the only feathers to match are those of a goose.

THE HEIGHT OF LIBERALITY.—Professor Holloway takes a box of Morison's Pills, and believing that he has been cured by them, sends a testimonial to the proprietors.


Maniac.—Teeth can not be extracted from the gums of trees.

Hoopoo.—Orchard is a place where apples are grown. You may call it a Poniatowski Squash; but this term, though endearing, conveys no definite idea to the mind.

Bobby.—How many times may I ask for potatoes at dinner? Twice, taking care to gasp between each application. Observe, no charge for booking.

Cabbage.—Burns was a Scorchman.

Peach.—The quotation about potatoes is in Shakspeare's Timon the Tartar.

Greeneye asks, "Do ganders lay eggs?" No, gooseberries, of course.

Daisy.—The masculine of cowslip is bulrush. Doddles.—The best peaches are found at the sea-side at Peachy Head.

A LUXURY.—A traveler was lately boasting of the luxury of arriving at night, after a hard day's journey, to partake of the enjoyment of a well-cut ham and the left leg of a goose. "Pray, Sir, what is the peculiar luxury of a left leg?" "Sir, to conceive its luxury, you must find that it is the only leg that is left!"

"All maidens are good," says one moralist; "but where do the bad wives come from?"

"Then I'll bring a suit for my bill!" said an enraged tailor to a dandy, who refused to pay him. "Do, my dear fellow," replied the imperturbable swell, pointing to his threadbare clothes, "that's just what I want."

Follow the laws of nature and you will never be poor. Your wants will be but few. Follow the laws of the world and you will never be rich. You will want more than you can acquire.

A DECIDED MISTAKE.—A friend who is in the habit of breakfasting at a coffee-house has made the discovery that the old adage of "Nothing like leather" is a great mistake. He says that the steaks he gets every morning are very much like it.

An advertiser in a daily paper, who rejoices in the various occupations of doctor, lawyer, justice of the peace, and dry-goods merchant, adds the following to his list of pursuits and qualifications: "N. B. Auctioneering of the loudest kind, interwoven with ventriloquism."

"I say, Dick, don't you think that if the women had to do the fighting instead of the men they would make sad work of it?" "No; why do you ask?" "Because I think they would, they have such an engaging way with them." "That's very true; but they have also such a captivating way that there would be doubtless more prisoners than killed."

Two boys going home one day, found a box in the road, and disputed who was the finder. They fought the whole afternoon without coming to a decision. At last they agreed to divide the contents equally, but on opening the box, lo, and behold! it was empty. Few wars have been more profitable than this to the parties concerned.

An Irish barrister lately addressed a full court in Bankruptcy as "gentlemen" instead of "your honors." After he had concluded, a brother barrister reminded him of his error. He immediately arose to apologize thus: "May it please your honors, I find I called yer honors gentlemen. I made a mistake, yer honors." He then sat down, and we hope the court was satisfied.

We never knew one who was in the habit of scolding able to govern a family. What makes people scold? The want of self-government. How then can they govern others? Those who govern well are generally calm. They are prompt and resolute, but steady and mild.

ADVICE TO HUSBANDS.—If your wife happens to be of opinion that absolute monarchy is better than constitutional government, be resigned. You can not say your sovereign was not of your own choosing.


BANTER.—Mutual banter is the ordinary conversation of people who justly despise one another. If you are a sensible fellow you will take banter in good part, and gratify your banterer by laughing at the fun which he makes of you, which you will be enabled to do with natural ease by considering what a ridiculous opinion of his own superiority to yourself he must entertain to have the impudence of presuming to make you his butt.

Banter may irritate a rational man if it take him unawares, as when he is talking in earnest, so as to confuse and balk him, and thus, like the zany's foolscap when it stopped the philosopher's telescope, put him into a rage. You will be subject to be ruffled by banter if you want sufficient presence of mind always, when attacked with it, to think how stupid you must be to suffer your serenity to be disturbed by an ass. Still, when banter flurries a man and puts him out, it is a considerable bore, and. therefore he might well be vexed with his acquaintance for mocking him to his face, although he would not care a button how much they chose to deride him behind his back.

Banter among the lowest class of cabmen, omnibus conductors, and touters, and the inferior order of thieves, becomes chaff. Chaff is unbridled banter; insolence worded without scruple or restraint; scorn venting itself in a guffaw. As in banter smiling gentlemen pleasantly twit one another with follies and foibles, so grinning ruffians, interchanging chaff, bandy imputations of depravity. It is good for a gentleman to accustom himself to stand chaff, for that will enable him to sustain banter with complacency.

"That's my business!" as the butcher said to the dog that was killing his sheep.

An Irish footman, who got a situation at the west end of London, on entering a room where there was a vase of golden fish, exclaimed, "Well, by J—, this is the first time I ever saw red herrings alive!"

A lot of fellows bantering a large and fat companion, remarked that if all flesh was grass, he must be a load of hay. "I suspect I am," said the man, from the way the asses are nibbling at me."

"If you children quarrel so about that doll, I'll break it; there's no peace where you are." "Oh do, mamma," screamed the young hopefuls; "then we all shall have a little piece."

The facetious Mr. Bearcroft told his friend Mr. Vansittart, "Your name is such a long one, I shall drop the sittart and call you Van for the future." "With all my heart," said he; "by the same rule I shall drop the croft and call you Bear."

Douglas Jerrold was subjected to a series of long interviews with an old lady, a friend of the family, who was in the habit of talking to him in a very gloomy and depressing manner, presenting to him only the sad side of life. "Hang it," said Jerrold, "she wouldn't allow there was a bright side to the moon!"

HAVING A REST.—"Why do you walk, Bob, when you've got a donkey to ride?" said a gentleman to an Irish lad, who was walking by the side of his donkey. "Sure, then," replied the boy, "I'm just walking to rest my legs."

It is beauty's privilege to kill time, and time's privilege to kill beauty.

SAMBO TO A VENDOR.—De tater is inevitably bad or inwerably good. Dare am no mediocrity in de combination oh de tater. De exterior may appear remarkably exemplary and butesome, while de interior is totally negative; but, Sir, if you wends de article 'pon your own responsibility, knowing you to be a man of sagacity in all your translations, why, Sir, widout further circumlocution, I take a bushel.

What description of fowl did Lord Elgin's carriage resemble when he entered Pekin?—A coach in China.

Which travels at the greatest speed, heat or cold?—Heat; because you can easily catch cold.

A MICHAELMAS GOOSE.—A person invited an acquaintance to dinner on the twenty-ninth of September, saying he always had a goose at dinner on Michaelmas-day.

A NEGRO'S NOTION.—It is peculiarly the duty of the white race to be cleanly—they show dirt so easily.

LADIES IN THE MIDDLE AGES.—In a "Book of Courtesy" published in the Middle Ages, ladies are recommended to keep their hands clean and to cut their nails often, and never to swear or get drunk!



ON Tuesday, June 24, in the Senate, a resolution directing inquiry as to what legislation is necessary to punish Congressmen who lend their official influence to procure government contracts was adopted, A Message was received from the President vetoing the bill repealing the act prohibiting the issue of small bank-notes in the District of Columbia. An executive session was held, and the Senate adjourned.—In the House, the bills authorizing an additional issue of $150,000,000 of Treasury notes, and appropriating $5,000,000 for the payment of volunteers' bounties, were passed. The Senate's amendments to the Pacific Railroad bill, and also the House bill prohibiting polygamy in the Territories, were concurred in. After the transaction of considerable business of a miscellaneous character the House adjourned.

On Wednesday, June 25, in the Senate, the Judiciary Committee reported back the Bankrupt bill, with a recommendation that it be postponed till December next. The bill to prevent Congressmen and Government officers taking compensation for procuring contracts was reported back by the Judiciary Committee. The discussion of the Confiscation bill was then resumed, and continued till the adjournment.—In the House, resolutions of the Missouri State Convention on the subject of emancipation were presented, and ordered to be printed. A bill for the admission of Western Virginia into the Union was referred to the Committee on Territories. The bill providing for the adjustment of the claims of loyal citizens for damages caused by the Union troops was taken up, and discussed at considerable length. The House then took up the Tariff bill, and, after the adoption of a number of amendments, adjourned.

On Thursday, June 26, in the Senate, the bill granting the proceeds of certain public lands in aid of the construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad was passed. The bill for the admission of Western Virginia into the Union as a State was taken up, and discussed by Senator Sumner. The bill recognizes slavery till the end of the year 1863; but Senator Sumner moved an amendment prohibiting slavery in the State. Pending the question, the Senate resolved itself into a High Court of Impeachment, and proceeded with the trial of Judge West H. Humphreys, of Tennessee, charged with high crimes and misdemeanors against the Government. After the hearing of testimony, the President of the Senate pronounced the judgment of the Court, as follows: "It is hereby ordered and decreed that West H. Humphreys, Judge of the District Court for the Western, Middle, and Eastern Districts of Tennessee, be, and is hereby, removed from said office, and that he be and is disqualified from holding or enjoying any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States." The Court and the Senate then adjourned. —In the House, Mr. Walton, of Vermont, offered a preamble and resolution declaring, in effect, that the reporter of the New York Tribune, who sent to that paper an article relative to the purchase by Congress of Gales & Seaton's compilation of the proceedings of Congress, is guilty of a breach of the privileges accorded to reporters by the House, and directing the Judiciary Committee to inquire into the facts. The preamble and resolution were adopted by a vote of 102 against 8. The Senate bill increasing the army medical corps was passed. No other business was transacted, the members of the House being in attendance upon the High Court of Impeachment for the trial of Judge Humphreys.

On Friday, June 27, in the Senate, the bill punishing Congressmen and other public officers, and disqualifying them from holding office, on conviction of their having taken any consideration for procuring government contracts, office, or place from the government, was passed. The report of the conference committee on the bill reorganizing the navy was agreed to. The debate on the Confiscation bill was then resumed, and continued till the adjournment.—In the House, the morning hour was occupied in discussing the bill providing indemnity to loyal citizens for losses of property through United States troops. A bill was reported making good the amount of the Indian trust bonds stolen from the Interior Department through the connivance of the traitor Floyd. In Committee of the Whole the discussion of the Tariff bill was resumed, and all the sections of the bill were acted on except the last two, when the committee rose. A resolution was adopted ordering the arrest of Michael C. Murphy, of New York, to answer for contempt, he having refused to appear before the Judiciary Committee in the case of Hon. Benjamin Wood. The House then adjourned till Monday.

On Saturday, June 28, in the Senate, a communication was received from the War Department transmitting official reports of the battle of Pittsburg Landing, one hundred and sixty in number. The consideration of the Confiscation bill was resumed; and, after some debate, the motion of Senator Clark, of New Hampshire, to substitute the bill reported by the Senate committee for the House bill, was adopted by a vote of twenty-one against seventeen; and afterward the bill was passed by a vote of twenty-eight against thirteen. An executive session was then held, and the Senate adjourned.


Another terrible battle took place before Richmond on 26th and 27th. It appears that General McClellan had become convinced by 25th that General Fitz John Porter's corps, which was on the north side of the Chickahominy, should be moved across the river so as to be on the same side as the rest of the army, and the movement of commissary stores and tents had already begun. This movement will eventually necessitate the abandonment of the railroad to the Pamunky and of our depot at White House; and orders were sent to White House to embark our stores and send them to Fortress Monroe, with a view to the establishment of a new depot on the James or Chickahominy rivers.

On 26th the enemy attacked simultaneously General Porter's corps near Mechanicsville (the rebels having crossed the Chickahominy near the Virginia Central), and our forces near Hanover Court House. They took nothing by the attack, General McCall's division, which was in the advance, being thoroughly able to hold their ground.

Early on the morning of 27th McCall received orders to fall back slowly in the direction of Gainer's Mills. The order was obeyed. The retreat was so slow that the troops took six hours to march less than six miles. After passing Gaines's Mills they reached the ground where they

had been directed to make a stand—a large plain lying some distance east of Gaines's Mills, southeast of Coal Harbor and north of the Chickahominy. There they awaited the attack of the enemy, who came on in great force at about 3 P.M. on 27th. The battle raged fiercely till night, without change of position. At one time General Porter was so hard pressed—the enemy having received reinforcements—that he sent across the Chickahominy to McClellan for help. It came at once. A few thousand men, under Generals Slocum, Palmer, French, and Meagher, were hurried across the river, and with this reinforcement General Porter held his ground firmly, and holds it still. Night put an end to the conflict.

The effect of these battles is to change somewhat the line of our army before Richmond. Instead of stretching from Mechanicsville, on the north side of the Chickahominy to Bear and White Oak Swamp, on the south bank of the river, a distance of some twenty miles, our forces are now concentrated on the Chickahominy, at what was till recently our left flank. As soon as a new depot and base of operations are established, the whole army will move forward without delay upon the rebel right and Richmond —probably along the bank of the James River.

General Jackson is said to have reinforced the rebels with his army from the Shenandoah Valley.


General Pope has received the supreme command of affairs in the Shenandoah Valley, and will now be pitted against the rebel Stonewall Jackson. The forces under Major-Generals Fremont, Banks, and McDowell have been consolidated into one army, called "the Army of Virginia," and Major-General Pope has been especially assigned by the President to the chief command. The forces under General Fremont constitute the first army corps, to be
commanded by General Fremont. The forces under General Banks constitute the second army corps, and are to be commanded by him. The forces under General McDowell constitute the third army corps, to be commanded by him.


The following is published:


I.—Major-General John C. Fremont having requested to be relieved from the command of the first army corps of the Army of Virginia, because, as he says, the petition assigned him by the appointment of Major-General Pope as Commander-in-chief of the Army of Virginia is subordinate and inferior to that heretofore held by him, and to remain in the subordinate command now assigned would, as he says, largely reduce his rank and consideration in the service, it is ordered that Major-General John C. Fremont be relieved from command.

II.—That Brigadier-General Rufus King he and he is hereby assigned to the command of the first army corps of the Army of Virginia, in place of General Fremont, relieved. By order of the   PRESIDENT.

EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.


General Rosecrans, who has hitherto proved himself an able officer in his career in Western Virginia, is to take General Pope's command.


On 25th June, our pickets on the left were advanced considerably, under sharp resistance on the part of the enemy. The movement commenced about noon. At 3 1/4 o'clock General McClellan telegraphed that the picket lines of General Kearney and one half those of General Hooker were where he desired them to be, and that he hoped soon to accomplish all he aimed at for the day. At 5 o'clock he telegraphed that the affair was over, and that he had gained his point fully, and with but little loss, notwithstanding the strong opposition. The enemy was driven out of his camps in front, and all was quiet. While this important movement was being made on the left, General Fitz-John Porter, further to the right, succeeded in silencing the enemy's batteries in his front.

The ground fought for was a swamp, with thick underbrush, beyond which is an open space, the command of which is extremely important. But little more ground is now to be gained to place our troops entirely beyond the swamps fringing the Chickahominy—a matter of the first moment as regards the health of the troops, as well as facility of movement.


The troops under command of General Benham made an attack on Secessionville, on James Island, S. C., at four o'clock on the morning of the 16th, and after four hours' hard fighting against the rebel batteries, were repulsed, with heavy loss. The Seventy-ninth New York Volunteers (Highland Regiment) behaved with the most determined valor, and suffered fearfully. The Eighth Michigan sustained with them the hottest portion of the fight, and suffered equally. The attack was made on the Tower Battery, which, for some time past, had been annoying our troops with shells, and General Benham resolved to make a reconnoissance in force to discover the strength of the enemy at that point. The result proved that his command was not large enough for the operation he undertook to accomplish; and although the troops retreated in good order after a terrific combat, their sacrifice was heavy, and their repulse, under the circumstances, was rendered inevitable. That General Benham had not force enough to effect what he attempted is unquestionable; and the blame of failure is put upon him, and he has been sent here to New York under arrest. This affair cost us six hundred and sixty-eight brave soldiers killed, wounded, and missing.


An attack was made by a body of rebel cavalry on Wednesday upon a train bound for Corinth, on the Charleston and Memphis Railroad, twelve miles from the latter city, containing a company of the Fifty-sixth Ohio regiment, a number of officers, and several teams and wagons. The rebels destroyed the locomotive, burned the cars, killed ten of our men, and captured several officers including Colonel Kenny, Majors Pride and Sharp.


Many of the clergy of Tennessee are obstinately rebellious, with the exception of the priesthood of the Catholic Church, who are devotedly loyal to the Union. The leading clergymen of the Methodist and Baptist persuasions refused to take the oath of allegiance at the Conference in Nashville, and many of them were sent to the Penitentiary as impenitent rebels.


General Carleton's brigade of Union troops has entered Arizona. The advance-guard, under Colonel West, reached Tucson about the 17th ult., the rebels having previously abandoned the place. The Stars and Stripes were again hoisted over the ruins of Fort Breckinridge.


The Deseret Legislature met for the first time at Salt Lake City on the 14th of April, and Brigham Young sent in his Message as Executive of the State. The Governor is sound on the Union, and strongly urges the immediate recognition of the State authority of Deseret by Congress. He says the government will save, by her admission into the Union, thirty-four thousand dollars now paid for Territorial expenses, and receive her annual quota of the governmental tax. He recommends the Legislature, when Deseret is taken to exact that it be done with all the laws that are now in operation in the Territory of Utah, including, of course, the law recognizing polygamy.



THE Patrie of the 11th ultimo circulated the following paragraph in larger type than usual: "We are assured that negotiations are about to commence in London to arrive at an understanding which may enable proposals to be made for a mediation in American affairs. If the negotiations in question succeed, the mediation of England and France will be tendered simultaneously, and in identical terms, to the belligerent parties."

You put your Finger on him, and he isn't there.

Rebel Flea Cartoon




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