Affairs in Memphis Tennessee


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, July 5, 1862

This site contains an online archive of all Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. These newspapers will allow you to develop unique insights into the events that made up the Civil War. The illustrations present eye-witness records of this important period in American History.

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Cumberland Gap

Cumberland Gap

Before Richmond

Before Richmond

Emancipation Bill

Emancipation Bill

Memphis Post Office

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Joe Hooker

General Joe Hooker

Memphis, Tennessee

Affairs in Memphis Tennessee

Silas Casey

General Silas Casey

Fairoaks Battle

Fairoaks Battle Description





Cavalry Charge

Cavalry Charge


Charleston Approach

Charleston Approach

Captain Clitheroe

Captain Clitheroe

Negro Cartoon

Negro Cartoon








JULY 5, 1862.]



It was half past one when she approached the house and knocked, for the second time, at Noel Vanstone's door. The woman-servant opened it, as before.

"Has Mrs. Lecount come back?"

"Yes, ma'am. Step this way, if you please."

The servant preceded Magdalen along an empty passage, and leading her past an uncarpeted staircase, opened the door of a room at the back of the house. The room was lighted by one window looking out on a yard; the walls were bare; the boarded floor was uncovered. Two bedroom chairs stood against the wall, and a kitchen table was placed under the window. On the table stood a glass tank filled with water, and ornamented in the middle by a miniature pyramid of rock-work interlaced with weeds. Snails clung to the sides of the tank; tadpoles and tiny fish swam swiftly in the green water; slippery efts and slimy frogs twined their noiseless way in and out of the weedy rock-work; and on the top of the pyramid there sat solitary, cold as the stone, brown as the stone, motionless as the stone, a little bright-eyed toad. The art of keeping fish and reptiles as domestic pets had not at that time been popularized in England; and Magdalen, on entering the room, started back in irrepressible astonishment and disgust from the first specimen of an Aquarium that she had ever seen.

"Don't be alarmed," said a woman's voice behind her. "My pets hurt nobody."

Magdalen turned and confronted Mrs. Lecount. She had expected—founding her anticipations on the letter which the housekeeper had written to her—to see a hard, wily, ill-favored, insolent old woman. She found herself in the presence of a lady of mild, ingratiating manners, whose dress was the perfection of neatness, taste, and matronly simplicity; whose personal appearance was little less than a triumph of physical resistance to the deteriorating influence of time. if Mrs. Lecount had struck some fifteen or sixteen years off her real age, and had asserted herself to be eight and thirty, there would not have been one man in a thousand, or one woman in a hundred, who would have hesitated to believe her. Her dark hair was just turning to gray, and no more. It was plainly parted under a spotless lace cap, sparingly ornamented with mourning ribbons. Not a wrinkle appeared on her smooth white forehead or her plump white cheeks. Her double chin was dimpled, and her teeth were marvels of whiteness and regularity. Her lips might have been critically considered as too thin, if they had not been accustomed to make the best of their defects by means of a pleading and persuasive smile. Her large black eyes might have looked fierce if they had been set in the face of another woman: they were mild and melting in the face of Mrs. Lecount; they were tenderly interested in every thing she looked at—in Magdalen; in the toad on the rock-work; in the back-yard view from the window; in her own plump, fair hands, which she rubbed softly one over the other while she spoke; in her own pretty cambric chemisette, which she had a habit of looking at complacently while she listened to others. The elegant black gown in which she mourned the memory of Michael Vanstone was not a mere dress—it was a well-made compliment paid to Death. Her innocent white muslin apron was a little domestic poem in itself. Her jet ear-rings were so modest in their pretensions that a Quaker might have looked at them and committed no sin. The comely plumpness of her face was matched by the comely plumpness of her figure: it glided smoothly over the ground; it flowed in sedate undulations when she walked. There are not many men who could have observed Mrs. Lecount entirely from the Platonic point of view —lads in their teens would have found her irresistible—women only could have hardened their hearts against her, and mercilessly forced their way inward through that fair and smiling surface. Magdalen's first glance at this Venus of the autumn period of female life more than satisfied her that she had done well to feel her ground in disguise before she ventured in matching herself against Mrs. Lecount.

"Have I the pleasure of addressing the lady who called this morning?" inquired the house-keeper. "Am I speaking to Miss Garth?"

Something in the expression of her eyes, as she asked that question, warned Magdalen to turn her face farther inward from the window than she had turned it yet. The bare doubt whether the housekeeper might not have seen her already under too strong a light, shook her self-possession for the moment. She gave herself time to recover it, and merely answered by a bow.

"Accept my excuses, ma'am, for the place in which I am compelled to receive you," proceeded Mrs. Lecount, in fluent English, spoken with a foreign accent. "Mr. Vanstone is only here for a temporary purpose. We leave for the seaside to-morrow afternoon; and it has not been thought worth while to set the house in proper order. Will you take a seat, and oblige use by mentioning the object of your visit?"

She glided imperceptibly a step or two nearer to Magdalen, and placed a chair for her exactly opposite the light from the window. "Pray sit down," said Mrs. Lecount, looking with the tenderest interest at the visitor's inflamed eyes through the visitor's net veil.

"I am suffering, as you see, from a complaint in the eyes," replied Magdalen, steadily keeping her profile toward the window, and carefully pitching her voice to the tone of Miss Garth's. "I must beg your permission to wear my veil down, and to sit away front the light." She said those words feeling mistress of herself again. With perfect composure she drew the chair back into the corner of the room beyond the window; and seated herself, keeping the shadow of her bonnet well over her face. Mrs. Lecount's persuasive

lips murmured a polite expression of sympathy; Mrs. Lecount's amiable black eyes looked more interested in the strange lady than ever. She placed a chair for herself exactly on a line with Magdalen's, and sat so close to the wall at to force her visitor either to turn her head a little further round toward the window, or to fail in politeness by not looking at the person whom she addressed. "Yes," said Mrs. Lecount, with a confidential little cough. "And to what circumstance a, I indebted for the honor of this visit?"

"May I inquire, first, if my name happens to be familiar to you?" said Magdalen, turning toward her as a matter of necessity—but coolly holding up her handkerchief, at the same time, between her face and the light.

"No," answered Mrs. Lecount, with another little cough, rather harsher than the first. "The name of Miss Garth is not familiar to me."

"In that case," pursued Magdalen, "I shall best explain the object that causes me to intrude on you by mentioning who I am. I lived for many years as governess in the family of the late Mr. Andrew Vanstone, of Combe-Raven, and I come here in the interest of his orphan daughters."

"Mrs. Lecount's hands, which had been smoothly sliding one over the other up to this time, suddenly stopped; and Mrs. Lecount's lips self-forgetfully shutting up, owned they were too thin at the very outset of the interview.

"I am surprised you can bear the light out of doors without a green shade," she quietly remarked, leaving the false Miss Garth's announcement of herself as completely unnoticed as if she had not spoken at all.

"I find a shade over my eyes keeps them too hot at this time of the year," rejoined Magdalen, steadily matching the housekeeper's composure. "May I ask whether you heard what I said just now on the subject of my errand in this house?"

"May I inquire on my side, ma'am, in what way that errand can possibly concern me?" retorted Mrs. Lecount.

"Certainly," said Magdalen. "I come to you because Mr. Noel Vanstone's intentions toward the two young ladies were made known to them in the form of a letter from yourself."

That plain answer had its effect. It warned Mrs. Lecount that the strange lady was better informed than she had at first suspected, and that it might hardly be wise, under the circumstances, to dismiss her unheard.

"Pray pardon me," said the housekeeper, "I scarcely understood before; I perfectly understand now. You are mistaken, ma'am, in supposing that I am of any importance, or that I exercise any influence in this painful matter. I am the mouth-piece of Mr. Noel Vanstone; the pen he holds, if you will excuse the expression, nothing more. He is an invalid; and like other invalids he has his bad days and his good. It was his bad day when that answer was written to the young person—shall I call her Miss Vanstone? I will with pleasure, poor girl; for who am I to make distinctions, and what is it to me whether her parents were married or not? As I was saying, it was one of Mr. Noel Vanstone's bad days when that answer was sent, and therefore I had to write it, simply as his secretary, for want of a better. If you wish to speak on the subject of these young ladies—shall I call them young ladies, as you did just now? no, poor things, I will call them the Miss Vanstones.—if you wish to speak on the subject of these Miss Vanstones, I will mention your name, and vour object in favoring me with this call, to Mr. Noel Vanstone. He is alone in the parlor, and this is one of his good days. I have the influence of an old servant over him, and I will use that influence with pleasure in your behalf. Shall I go at once?" asked Mrs. Lecount, rising with the friendliest anxiety to make herself useful.

"If you please," said Magdalen, with grateful alacrity; "and if I am not taking any undue advantage of your kindness."

"On the contrary," rejoined Mrs. Lecount, "you are laying me under an obligation—you are permitting me, in my very limited way, to assist the performance of a benevolent action. She bowed, smiled, and glided out of the room.

Left by herself, Magdalen allowed the anger which she had suppressed in Mrs. Lecount's presence to break free from her. For want of a nobler object of attack, it took the direction of the toad. The sight of the hideous little reptile sitting placid on his rock throne, with his bright eyes staring impenetrably into vacancy, irritated every nerve in her body. She looked at the creature with a shrinking intensity of hatred; she whispered at it maliciously through her set teeth. "I wonder whose blood runs coldest," she said, "yours, you little monster, or Mrs. Lecount's? I wonder which is the, slimiest, her heart or your back? You hateful wretch, do you know what your mistress is? Your mistress is a devil!"

The speckled skin under the toad's mouth mysteriously wrinkled itself, then slowly expanded again, as if he had swallowed the words just addressed to him. Magdalen started back in disgust from the first perceptible movement in the creature's body, trifling as it was, and returned to her chair. She had not seated herself again a moment too soon. The door opened noiselessly, and Mrs. Lecount appeared once more.

"Mr. Vanstone will see you," she said, if you will kindly wait a few minutes. He will ring the parlor-bell when his present occupation is at an end, and he is ready to receive you. Be careful, ma'am, not to depress his spirits, or to agitate him in any way. His heart has been a cause of serious anxiety to those about him from his earliest years. There is no positive disease; there is only a chronic feebleness—a fatty degeneration—a want of vital power in the organ itself, His heart will go on well enough if you

don't give his heart too much to do—that is the advice of all the medical men who have seen him. You will not forget it, and you will keep a guard over your conversation accordingly. Talking of medical men, have you ever tried the Golden Ointment for that sad affliction in your eyes? It has been described to me as an excellent remedy."

"It has not succeeded in my case," replied Magdalen, sharply. "Before I see Mr. Noel Vanstone," she continued, "may I inquire—"

"I beg your pardon," interposed Mrs. Lecount. "Does your question refer in any way to those two poor girls?"

"It refers to the Miss Vanstones."

"Then I can't enter into it. Excuse me, I really can't discuss these poor girls (I am so glad to hear you call them the Miss Vanstones!) except in my master's presence, and by my master's express permission. Let us talk of something else while we are waiting here. Will you notice my glass Tank? I have every reason to believe that it is a perfect novelty in England."

"I looked at the Tank while you were out of the room," said Magdalen.

"Did you? You take no interest in the subject, I dare say? Quite natural. I took no interest either until I was married. My dear husband—dead many years since—formed my tastes, and elevated me to himself. You have heard of the late Professor Lecomte, the eminent Swiss naturalist? I am his widow. The English circle at Zurich (where I lived in my late master's service) Anglicized my name to Lecount. Your generous country-people will have nothing foreign about them—not even a name—if they can help it. But I was speaking of my husband—my dear husband, who permitted me to assist him in his pursuits. I have had only one interest since his death—an interest in science. Eminent in many things, the Professor was great at reptiles. He left me his Subjects and his Tank. I had no other legacy. There is the Tank. All the Subjects died but this quiet little fellow—this nice little toad! Are you surprised at my liking him? There is nothing to be surprised at. The Professor lived long enough to elevate me above the common prejudice against the reptile creation. Properly understood, the reptile creation is beautiful. Properly dissected, the reptile creation is instructive in the last degree." She stretched out her little finger and gently stroked the toad's back with the tip of it. "So refreshing to the touch!" said Mrs. Lecount. "So nice and cool this summer weather!"

The bell from the parlor rang. Mrs. Lecount rose, bent fondly over the Aquarium, and chirruped to the toad at parting as if it had been a bird. "Mr. Vanstone is ready to receive you. Follow me, if you please, Miss Garth." With these words she opened the door and led the way out of the room.




U. S. A., COLUMBUS, OHIO, June 16, 1862.

To the Editor of Harper's Weekly:

In your Weekly of May 31 you publish a sketch purporting to represent the Eighteenth Regular Infantry and their conduct in the reconnoissance at Pea Ridge, near Corinth, April 24, 1862. It is simply a fancy piece reflecting upon a large number of officers and men, but having no foundation in fact.

Sixteen companies of the Eighteenth Infantry, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel O. L. Shepherd, an officer of large experience, are attached to the brigade of General Robert L. McCook. The Majors of the two battalions are Major F. Townsend, formerly Colonel of the Third New York Volunteers, an accomplished and brave officer, and Major James M. Caldwell, who for twenty-five years has been an officer of the regular army. Twelve companies of the detachment referred to have been in active service, under General Buell, since November, 1861, and include in their ranks a considerable number of old soldiers, wearing the badges of one, two, and even three five-year enlistments.

General A. J. Smith commanded the reconnoissance. Brigadier-General M'Cook writes to the correspondent of the Cincinnati Gazette, respecting his communication of the same tenor with your own, as follows:

"General A. J. Smith, of General Halleck's staff, who conducted the reconnoissance, assures me that the regiment and officers acted with coolness and courage; that they obeyed all his orders with alacrity and promptness; and did all that was, or could have been expected of them under the circumstances. I was satisfied that the persons from whom you derived your information were mistaken. You will do the officers out men of the regiment an act of justice by making the proper correction in the premises." The report of the reconnoissance shows that four companies of the Eighteenth were in advance as skirmishers. Lieutenant Mills, Acting-Adjutant Eighteenth Infantry, reported three regiments of the enemy in line of battle within the woods to the front. The Eighteenth were, by order, at a rest—not to move until so ordered, and not to bring on a general engagement. The Eighth Missouri, on the right, and the Seventy-sixth Ohio, on the left, passed into the field behind the skirmishers, but retired by order, leaving the Eighteenth Infantry in its assigned position. Captain Granger, reporting the movement, writes: "When these regiments moved forward, supposing it was done by order of General Smith, there was much grumbling through the lines at what we considered a slight, in permitting them to pass in. But Lieutenant-Colonel Shepherd immediately marched us by the flank through their interval to cover our skirmishers, when we halted, by order of General Smith, and 'the armed reconnoissance' was over."

When it is remembered that in nearly every case during the war, where regiments have been accused of cowardice, the subsequent inquiry has shown that great injustice has been done to worthy and true men by this indiscriminate and hasty criticism, the idea is suggested that it might be as just and patriotic to have even a little later intelligence for the public, and thereby save the honor and fair fame of the deserving, as well as secure the facts. Believing your desire is to do substantial justice, though I doubt the value to the country of publishing any rumors derogatory to the American army in advance of investigation—or, at least, before inquiry of the commanding officer as to the facts, I am, yours, etc.,


Colonel Eighteenth Infantry, U.S.A.

[The drawing referred to in the above letter came to us from a valued correspondent, Mr. James F. Gookins. He will doubtless settle the questions of fact involved with Colonel Carrington.—ED. H. W.]]


OUR old subscribers in Memphis, Tennessee, who have so long been deprived of Harper's Weekly by the insane rebellion of the secessionists, will probably not be sorry to find some illustrations of their city in our pages this week. We publish on page 417 an illustration of the MOVEMENT OF SUGAR AND COTTON ON THE LEVEE, a sight which had not been seen at Memphis for many a day before; and on page 420 a view of the JACKSON MONUMENT, defaced by some rascally rebel; of the STARS AND STRIPES BEING HOISTED OVER THE POST-OFFICE; and of COLONEL ELLET'S RAM FLOTILLA.


The rebels burned all the produce they could find. But a good deal escaped them, and is coming out of hiding-places. The Memphis Avalanche says:

Independent of the boat, armed and unarmed, of the Federal fleet, transports are going from and coming to our wharf in such a way as to awaken a dim memory of the good old times. The Perry started this evening heavily laden with sugar and cotton. An unusual degree of animation prevails about the levee, and the echoes of the mallet has again awakened the echo of the bluff. Heaven knows we need a revival of trade sadly.

The Herald correspondent writes:

Business in Memphis is falling into its old channels. The J. D. Perry, of the St. Louis and Memphis Steamboat, Line, left last evening with a full freight of sugar, and a boat will start for Cairo today laden with it fine supply of cotton. Drays are already crowding the levee, and cotton and sugar are coming out of their places of concealment in unlooked-for abundance. A boat came in yesterday from St. Louis laden to the guards with supplies for the Memphis market.

The Tribune correspondent says:

More and more cotton and sugar is being discovered daily in and around Memphis, and I have seen numerous parties who boast of their adroitness in outwitting the minions of the Confederacy, showing the Southern staples as proofs of their cleverness. A number of flat-boats loaded with New Orleans sugar are now lying at the mouth of Wolf River, having been brought down the stream since the occupation of the city, and will be sold by the owners to the highest bidder. In various garrets and cellars cotton and sugar have developed themselves in considerable quantities, and still more will come to light during the coming fortnight.

The World correspondent says:

In three days we have had a dozen steamboats partially loaded with goods, groceries, clothing, etc. The goods have been landed and stored, and the boats are loading up with cotton, sugar, and molasses for their return trip. For the present the purchases are, of course, limited to the bare wants of the consumers, for the reason that the currency is still unsettled.

The stocks of many articles have been exhausted. Drugs, tea, coffee, liquors, and articles of fine dress have attained unheard-of prices. Firearms and powder can not be had for money. The rule of the Southern authorities and the stringency of the blockade has so worked upon the people that for the most part they are glad to be admitted onto more as partakers of our industry.

A telegram to the press, dated Memphis, June 17, via Cairo, June 18, says:

The shipments north up have been—Cotton, 3000 bales; molasses, 5000 barrels, 3000 half barrels; sugar, 6000 barrels. There was much coming in yesterday.

A correspondent of the World tells the following story, which illustrates the atrocious oppression practiced by the cotton-burners, and the feeling of some of the planters. The scene occurred in Louisiana:

The cotton-burners came, they saw, they departed.

"I have come to burn your cotton, Sir."

"By what authority?"

"By the authority of General Beauregard."

"You will not burn my cotton."

"We will burn your cotton."

"Go about it then. But it is my opinion, gentlemen, that you will not burn it."

"What do you propose to do? You don't mean to say that you will show any opposition to our authority?"

"I simply mean to say than you will not burn my cotton.   Bob, bring a coal of fire."

The fire is brought.

"Gentlemen, there is the fire, and yonder are one hundred bales of cotton. Proceed."

"Your conduct is very extraordinary, Sir. I should like to know what you mean."

"Well, Sir, I mean that if you attempt to burn that cotton I will scatter your brains so far and wide that no power in heaven or earth can bring them together again. Here, boys, that cotton is yours; defend it or starve."

"D—d strange conduct," mutters Mr. Officer, sullenly.

"We'll attend to your case, Sir. We are going down the river; we will give you a visit on our return."

"Do. Whenever you make up your mind to burn my cotton, by all means come and burn."

The cowed officer and his posse "fell back in good order. The valiant Louisianian saved his cotton. He has had no second visit from Beauregard's cotton-burners.

I have yet to hear of an instance of voluntary submission to this cruel cotton "order" of Beauregard. In thousands of cases remonstrance, threats of men, and tears of women and children were of no avail.


The Herald correspondent says:

Walking into Jackson Park I approached the statue of Jackson, which occupies the centre of the green. It is enclosed by a circular iron fence, and ornamented by carefully trained shrubbery. The bust of the old hero of New Orleans is placed on the top of a plain shaft of marble, seven or eight feet in height. On the northern face of the shaft is the inscription—

The word "Federal" and the first two letters of "Union" have been chipped by some rampant rebel, presenting an appearance as if a small hammer had been several times struck across the obnoxious words. It was a very feeble attempt at defacement of the words that grated harshly on treason's ear.


These vessels, which proved so effective at the Battle of Memphis, are mostly old river boats, strengthened at the bow with heavy timber, and shielded with iron. They cost about $25,000 to $30,000, and can be kept afloat and in service for about $15,000 a month. Thus far they have proved more than a match for the most effective class pf gun-boats, and will hereafter take a leading place in naval warfare.





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