Cotton Shortage


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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.



SATURDAY, JULY 12, 1862.


GENERAL BUTLER is feeding the people of New Orleans at the cost of the United States. General Halleck has begged the good people of the West to send food to the starving people of the Lower Mississippi Valley, and they have, with their accustomed liberality, dispatched shiploads of food down the river. In Florida our blockading squadron has, in several instances, been compelled to supply food to the famished rebels.

Now all this is perfectly right and proper, as far as it goes. Our generals and our people can not look on calmly and see even the worst traitors starve to death. But the arrangement should be reciprocal as far as possible. If the starving people of the South have any thing to give in exchange for the food with which we are supplying them, they ought to give it, and our generals should see to it that they do.

It happens that there is in the South—more or less under the control of the very mobs we are feeding—a quantity of property which is almost as urgently needed at the North and in Europe as food is needed at the South. This is cotton. In Europe, at the present time, the aggregate supply is only about 428,000 bales, against 1,644,900 bales at this time last year. Unless more cotton comes to market soon, it is inevitable that all the factories in Europe will have to stop working, and a frightful amount of suffering will ensue. In this country the scarcity is still greater. On the 27th cotton sold at 40 cents a pound in this market; and here, as in Europe, our cotton industry must cease, and the operatives of New England be thrown upon the world, unless we contrive in some way or other to obtain a fresh supply of the staple within a very few weeks.

Now there is no doubt whatever of there being over 2,000,000 bales of cotton, at least, on the Southern plantations. From all that we can learn the amount destroyed by the rebel forces is very small. It is possible that the cotton still in the South may amount to 3,000,000 bales, or even more. But, at any rate, there must be 2,000,000 bales on the plantations, ginned and unginned, bagged and unbagged, in the gin-houses or elsewhere. Now of this large amount a certain proportion could undoubtedly be got to market if the people at the South whom we are feeding were made to understand that their bread depended upon it. There must be a large number of planters in the Valley of the Mississippi who would be willing to sell, especially as, at present prices, they would get over $150 a bale. Let the starving people of the South be told that, after a certain date, they will only be able to buy food with cotton, and we are inclined to think that they will unearth a good many bales.

If these people are so bigoted in their treason that they will not help us to get cotton, the question of feeding them will assume a new aspect. But we can not but believe that the instincts of want, and the sentiment of avarice will, if properly directed, lead to a considerable increase in the supply of cotton before very long.


JOHN BULL has made another rentree in his favorite old part of Pecksniff. He is shocked at General Butler's order declaring that any woman who shall behave in a loose, idle, and disorderly manner shall be deemed a loose, idle, and disorderly female. The Times and Morning Post shudder at such brutality. Lord Palmerston protests against it on behalf of the frail sisterhood. The British Parliament steps into the ring as the champion of loose, idle, and disorderly females throughout the world.

It is futile to offer serious arguments on such a theme and to such disputants. The British do not want to be set right. What they want is a tolerable pretext for snarling at us, as they snarl at the French, the Germans, the Italians, the Spaniards, the Russians, and the human race generally. We might observe that not a single lady in New Orleans has been arrested under General Butler's order; and that, on the contrary, the effect of that order having been to compel loose, idle, and disorderly women to behave themselves decently in public, the streets have since become so quiet and orderly that the true ladies of the city have been enabled to resume their usual promenades without fear of their delicacy being shocked by unseemly behavior on the part of less worthy members of their sex, But, as we said, this explanation will not soothe the British temper. John Bull wants a peg to hang a snarl upon—nothing more.

Lovely, amiable, exemplary "guardian of civilization!" How touching his sympathy for the fancied wrongs of ladies against whose mothers, fifty years ago, his armies advanced under the banner of "booty and beauty!" How refreshing his concern for female purity, after the

appalling atrocities of the British campaign in India, in 1858, when, in the language of an officer who served under Lord Clyde, "whole villages were depopulated, the men slaughtered in cold blood, and the women and young girls given over to a fate worse than death!" How edifying his horror at General Butler's barbarity, when we remember the three days' sack, in 1860, of the defenseless city of Pekin, and the black-guard pillage, in 1855, of the town and museum of Kertsch!


CERTAIN mischief-makers are again busily trying to dishearten loyal people and encourage the rebels with the old idle talk about foreign intervention.

The facts are: that two Paris journals—both, as every body knows, sold to the rebel agents, and whose editors are as much the property of John Slidell as his ox or his ass, to wit, the Patrie and the Constitutionnel—have published articles predicting and recommending a negotiation between France and England with a view to mediation in this country. On the strength of these articles, and of a casual visit of M. de Persigny to England, where his family are staying, the whole tribe of newspaper letter-writers have revived the old cry of armed interference in this country, and all the Tory journals of England, which are choking with spite and fury at the successes of the Union arms, have fallen to braying about intervention in the old way.

Per contra, both Lord Palmerston and Lord John Russell have emphatically declared in Parliament that England had no intention to propose terms of mediation between the American belligerents; that no proposal for mediation had been made to England by France; that they thought foreign interference at this time would be most inopportune. Nothing could possibly be more conclusive against the least approach to foreign intervention than these solemn utterances of the leading members of the British Government. So in France. The Emperor's last public avowal of his policy contained the deliberate statement that, so long as the rights of neutrals were undisturbed, France had no right or desire to interfere in this country.

Yet, in the teeth of these authoritative statements, quite a number of American journals are busily engaged in trying to convince the public that we are menaced by Europe, and that we shall soon be engaged in a war with France and England. What can be said of such stupidity and perverseness?



"How do the heathen furiously rage together!" was the instinctive exclamation of every man who read the foreign papers and debates upon Butler's famous Order No. 28. Mr. Gregory, the member for Secesh, scorned to make any inquiry of any under-secretary, but he "would ask the Prime Minister of England" whether the nation that blew men from the mouths of cannon in India was going to look on in silence while refractory women in America were committed to the calaboose. It was an indecency that shocked civilization and endangered human progress, according to this amusing British Secesh comedian.

That his particular friends starve and torture the loyal citizens of the United States who fall into their hands—that they hack and hew the living bodies of their prisoners, under pretense of surgical practice, until they die in agony—that they dig up our dead like hyenas and ghouls—drat they boil the corpses to get the bones—that they cut them into drumsticks and ornaments—drat they carve the skulls into cups, and burn the bodies which they can insult and injure no farther, are matters that do not trouble the excellent Gregory. These are acts naturally to be expected of a gallant, high-spirited, and refined people, struggling for their liberties against a brutal lust of power. But that a United States General should enforce a municipal regulation of New Orleans against women who make themselves nuisances, that is an incredible enormity, at which the world and Mr. Gregory stand aghast with horror.

From first to last in this rebellion John Bull has written himself down an ass. If he had boldly said what he felt, that he was delighted with the prospect of the destruction of this Government—that we had always been hateful to him, and that now he would gratify his spite—if he had at once recognized the rebellion and sent men and ships to help the traitors, his course would at least have been frank and manly. But to whine and snivel and sneer—to do all that he could to harm us, short of actual hostilities—to eat all his words and swallow all his principles—to let "I want to" be forever held in check by "I don't exactly like to"—this is the mean and contemptible course he has preferred to pursue.

The reason of British hate lies deeper than the want of cotton. It is a political and social sympathy. The British system is only a modification of feudalism. It is a system of special privilege, not of equal rights. And although ameliorated by the greater civilization of modern times it is feudal and despotic still, and stretches out its hand muffled in cotton to grasp the hand of its ghastly kinsman, the hideous hag of Southern slavery. John Bull is ashamed of the relative—but he involuntarily owns the kinship.


IN our natural indignation with the official and current tone of British criticism upon our affairs, we ought not to be unmindful of the men who have clearly seen and bravely stated the truth in the American struggle. Lord Russell may seriously believe that the unwillingness of a Government to go to pieces without a struggle is merely a brutal lust of power. But if he does seriously believe it, it is because he is in his dotage. Lord Palmerston may say any thing that occurs to him to keep in office, but Lord Palmerston is clearly convicted by Mr. Cobden of the grossest and most absurd fabrications about the French. These two men are officeholders, and have always been so. Their view of events in the world is determined by the bearing of those events upon their chances for office.

But men like John Stuart Mill, who is always in the slender minority of the noblest Englishmen, we are bound by every consideration to honor. Another is Mr. Godkin, who lived for some time in this country, and whose connection with the Daily News in London has enabled that paper to take and hold the most impregnable position in the foreign debate upon our affairs. The raciest and most trenchant articles upon our war in the London Daily News are doubtless written by Mr. Godkin. Still another intelligent critic and spectator is J. E. Cairnes—a name hitherto unknown to us, the Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Economy in Queen's College, Galway, and late Whately Professor of Political Economy in the University of Dublin.

Professor Cairnes has recently published a work of which the full title is, "The Slave Power, its Character, Career, and Probable Designs: being an Attempt to Explain the Real Issues involved in the American Contest." It is the best book upon the general subject of slavery, and by far the most comprehensive, thorough, and masterly presentation of the essential question of our war that we have had. But he regards the matter not as an American, but as a citizen of the world. In his view it is necessary, in the interest of civilization, that the Slave Power should be destroyed here and now. He holds that it is not an American question exclusively, for every nation is interested in retarding an aggressive effort of barbarism. Intervention therefore, he says, is to be thought of only in one contingency, and that is when the United States Government finds itself unequal to destroying the moving cause of the rebellion: in which case every civilized Power should lend a hand.

He says that Europe has made up its mind that it is neither possible nor desirable to reconstruct the Union. But he argues, even if that be so, and the war should result in separation, it is of the utmost importance to Europe that the Slave Power in the States that secede shall be absolutely destroyed. Professor Cairnes, however, will hardly die before he sees that Europe has not so much made up its mind as declared its fervent wishes. He will live to see the Union reconstructed and the disturbing element eliminated.

But these for us are questions of the future. The business we have in hand is putting down the rebellion by every legitimate means of war. It is very possible that the Slave Power will be annihilated before the war ends, and as a means to that consummation. In that event Europe will probably take a new turn and make up its mind that this Government is absolutely in earnest, and that as this rebellion is causeless it will be suppressed even at the cost of the extermination of the rebels. It may also make up its mind that whatever Power interferes merely draws the whole world into war.

Such men as Mill, and Godkin, and Cairnes, make us still patient of the name of Englishman. For in therm we recognize that loyalty to human liberty which is the sole hope of mankind. It is not that they take precisely the same view of our struggle that we do ourselves—for in many things we differ; but that they see clearly the cardinal fact, that it is a fight between Liberty and Despotism, between Class Privilege and Equal Rights.


AT a time like this, when the country needs all her children either to fight or to advise and practically sympathize, there are three reasons which travelers to Europe may allege for their departure. The first is health; the second is unavoidable business; the third is indifference to the fate of the country. As for the first, there are many men who, under the circumstances, must feel very ill before they would consent to go abroad. For the second, every man must judge for himself. And whoever has not either of the other reasons to urge will naturally be suspected of the third.

But what kind of man must it be who can quietly meander through Europe, not only indifferent to the peril which threatens his country but even ashamed of its condition? Here is as grand an effort as men ever made for Civilization, Liberty, and Law; here are millions of men and women sending sons, brothers, husbands, fathers, and lovers to the battle-field—spending millions of dollars—and calmly beholding the delay of the national prosperity, in order that the great fundamental principle of the Government may be vindicated and the integrity of the Union maintained; scarcely a family but has a drop of its blood in the field—scarcely a home in which incessant labor is not preparing comfort for the wounded—scarcely a household but has felt the bloody sting of the war: one thought, one purpose, one heart-beat all through the loyal land; a convulsion long generating, and whose consequences are radical and ennobling: a stormy resurrection of the vital principle of all progressive civilization, an overwhelming of party-spirit by pure patriotism: and some citizen perhaps creeps and cowers through Europe ashamed of his country!

Never since we were a nation had an American such cause of pride and gratulation. Never since the Revolution have the mien and bearing of this people been so majestic and inspiring as they are

today. Never was there such reasonable hope that our great destiny will be fulfilled in all the ample splendor of its conception. Come home, then, poor, shivering doubter! Come home, wanderer, wherever and whoever you may be, who are ashamed of your country at this hour! In the name of decency and honor let it not be known that you are an American, or Europe will believe all that the rebels say. Let it not be suspected that America produces such men as you, or faith in the triumph of the nation will become impossible. Come home! come home! You are ashamed of your country; but oh, wretched man! if you could only know how ashamed your country is of you!


WITH every arrival from Europe comes a cloud of rumors of intervention and mediation. But no intention or threat of that kind can possibly have any other effect in this country than to stimulate our repression of the rebellion. Europe is at perfect liberty to think and say what she chooses of us. If she goes farther and begins to act, she will understand, of course, that she comes into direct collision with us.

The result of an armed English and French intervention for the rebels would be of the gravest kind. Russia would necessarily be drawn into the struggle. Spain could not stay out. It would be universal war. Now nations are governed in the main by a perception of interest, and the question inevitably asks itself, What political or material advantage do these Powers gain?

If such an intervention should at last succeed, and after long years of war the Union should be temporarily destroyed, politically those Powers would gain the advantage of our division. But they could not gain that of the failure of the democratic principle, because the result would be due to the alliance of monarchies with a despotic faction of citizens whom we should otherwise have controlled.

Materially they would gain the advantage that might accrue from commerce with the South after cotton had been lost. For in the course of such a war, not only would the Southern cotton supply be totally inadequate and uncertain, but the factories of the world must have been supplied from other sources, or some new material would have replaced cotton. Evidently the commercial advantage of Europe lies in the sure and speedy victory of the Government.

There are other contingencies, especially for France to consider. If France intends to make war upon Mexico then, of course, she wants us out of the way. But that France cares to make war both upon the United States and Mexico at the same time is not very probable. Nor is England likely to fight for the interests of a power with which she has a traditional feud upon this continent. It is clear that England could possibly gain nothing by a war with us at the moment when our strength is conspicuous. The golden moment of intervention was just a year ago. That was lost, and it will never be recovered.

The talk of mediation and intervention is only part of the foreign hate and jealousy of this country. It is a cheap comfort to a cause the Powers do not yet dare to aid with arms. That it will be always talk is questionable. But in the condition of the public mind of this country, produced by the conduct of England and France, it is highly desirable for the peace of the world that not the slightest misunderstanding should occur between either of those nations and the United States. That their taunts were not able to compel this country to renounce its traditional principle even for the purpose of holding Slidell and Mason, is under all the circumstances an instance of a national magnanimity which seldom occurs in history. Neither in magnanimity, nor humanity, nor intelligence, nor bravery, nor in every excellence of civilization and national character, will the United States suffer by comparison either with a nation that blows its prisoners from the mouths of cannon or with one that suffocates them in a mountain cavern.


THE members for slavery in the Congress of the United States ought to try to remember that the House of Representatives is not a slave-pen. Mr. Sedgwick, of Syracuse, one of the Representatives from this State, and one of the ablest, most loyal, and bravest men in Congress or the country, the energetic chairman of the committee upon naval affairs, takes the liberty as an American citizen to believe that the Declaration of Independence is not a lie nor the Constitution of the United States a fiction, and, in accordance with both those instruments, holds that men are men, whatever you may say about it; and that if, unhappily, some innocent men are deprived of their liberty by State laws, it would he better for the States and for the nation if their rights as men were acknowledged. Moreover, he believes that if they had been acknowledged the country would be at this moment more prosperous and in profounder peace than it has ever been. He therefore wishes that the war may result in destroying the root of rebellion, as well as in suppressing the rebellion itself; and to that end he desires that every aid and comfort, including that of the system of slavery, shall be, under the military powers granted by the Constitution, taken from the rebels.

Mr. Sedgwick is a man of great ability, of the loftiest character, and of the purest life; and this is his opinion. It may be a mistaken opinion, for no man is infallible. But certainly he has the same right to hold and express the opinion that liberty is safer than slavery that Mr. Mallory or any other person has to announce in the American Congress that slavery is safer than liberty. In a conversation in the House the other day Mr. Sedgwick said, that as the war was, by the confession of its leaders, begun for the extension of slavery, he hoped it would end in its extinction. Upon which Mr. Mallory remarked that he would be almost satisfied with the same result, provided that a few (Next Page)




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