Battle of Chickahominy


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, June 14, 1862

Welcome to our online archive of Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers. This archive contains all the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. Examination of these old newspapers will help you develop a better understanding of this important part of American History.

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Naval Battle

Naval Battle

New Orleans Poem

New Orleans Poem

Battle of Chickahominy

Battle of Chickahominy

Robert Smalls

Robert Smalls

Negro Mammy

Negro Mammy

Prisoner Exchange

Prisoner Exchange

Winslow Homer War News

Winslow Homer's War Illustration

Moses Odell

New Orleans

The Starving in New Orleans

Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer Self-Portrait

Feeding Rebels

Feeding New Orleans Rebels

New Orleans Cartoon





JUNE 14, 1862.]



(Previous Page) an eminent Republican who was supposed to be the choice of the party for the succession; but the point was not pressed, and Mr. Thomas was nominated as a thoroughly loyal Union man, but moderate and conservative—of which qualifications the sufficient guarantee was the urgent support he received from Mr. George Ticknor Curtis, a gentleman chiefly known in his State by his conspicuous services in enforcing, as United States Commissioner, the Fugitive Slave Law.

Mr. Thomas has been an eminent leader of the moderate party in Congress, except in the Trent affair, in which he took a strong anti-English position, and not in the least conciliatory. But his learning, his discretion, his candor, and his intellectual ability, have justly given great weight to his words. On the 10th of April he spoke upon the Confiscation and Emancipation bills, opposing both, but with clearness and good temper. Yet in this speech, which has been regarded as so signal a triumph for the reaction, Mr. Thomas plainly states the right and duty of the Government to require all persons to arm in its defense. Those who loosely say that he favors slavery at the expense of Union have not read his words. It is with him simply a question of time, not of right or power.

Slaves in the military and naval service of the rebels, he says, may be freed.

"The Government may refuse to return a slave to a master who has been engaged in the rebellion, or suffered the slave to be employed in it."

"It may require the services of all persons subject to its jurisdiction by residing upon its territory, when the exigency arises, to aid in executing the laws, in repressing insurrection, or repelling invasion.... Nothing but the direst extremity would excuse the use of a power fraught with so great perils to both races." And he thinks we shall triumph without it.

"There is one other exigency in which the relation of master and slave must give way to military exigency. If the Commander of a military district shall find that the slaves within it, by the strength they give to their rebellious masters—by bearing arms, or doing other military service, or acting as the servants of those who do—obstruct his efforts to subdue the rebellion, he may deprive the enemy of this force, and may remove the obstruction by giving freedom to the slaves."

As the slaves build the fortifications from which our friends are slaughtered by the rebels, as they are the servants of the rebels every where, as their labor and presence immensely obstruct our efforts to reduce the rebellion, it would seem that this exigency mentioned by Mr. Thomas had very nearly arrived. One thing at least is clear, the "great perils" to the white race resulting from employing black men to fight for the Union could not possibly be more awful than those the white race already suffers from rebels fighting against the Union. The barbarism of the slaves, whatever it be, can not be worse than that of the mass of the poor whites who compose the rebel army; and in this war, now lasting more than a year, Mr. Thomas has yet to find a solitary instance of cruelty from a slave to his master, even when every circumstance has favored. The history of the infamous wrong of slavery in this country shows that it dehumanizes the master a hundred-fold more than the subject race; nor has it ever been found that free black soldiers, organized and disciplined, have been peculiarly ferocious. Slaves rising in insurrection to save their lives and seize their liberty by destroying their masters are a fearful foe; for their vengeance is proportioned to their wrongs. But slaves freed and regularly drilled are among the best soldiers, as Washington found in the Revolution when he enlisted a regiment of slaves in Rhode Island, freed for the purpose, who were conspicuous for their gallantry, bravery, and military skill at the battle upon Quaker Hill near Newport. The black regiment "distinguished itself by deeds of desperate valor," says Arnold in his History of Rhode Island. Senator Ten Eyck, of New Jersey, says that the Jersey boys would not fight by the side of soldiers of another color. Let us hope that they deserve a higher praise than their Senator gives them; and that Jerseymen do not disdain allies who were honest and brave enough for Washington, and Greene, and Varnum, and the Rhode Island boys of '78.

Yet one thing may be freely conceded to Mr. Thomas. It is impossible to act in a matter of this kind faster than the great public opinion of the country approves, and in that perception is the profound wisdom of Mr. Lincoln. But that public opinion, on the other hand, may ripen too slowly to save the country. When the nation is willing to use every loyal hand it can command it may be too late. Therefore in this emergency the duty of a legislator is twofold; he should endeavor to make the country approve what he thinks ought to be done, and when he is sure of that approval he should vote to do it. The impatient should remember that in this country law merely, as the Fugitive Slave Law shows, will not control a settled public sentiment. The penalty may be paid, but the law will be seldom executed. A law to be just and valid must express a conviction, not an emotion.


WHEN Major-General Butler arrived at New Orleans the rebels caught a Tartar. He understands perfectly well that the way to develop National sentiment in that city is to show that the nation is supremely powerful. He knows that nothing is done until that is done. Genuine patriotic sentiment is doubtless nearly extinct there, while, as a trading city, it will willingly yield its allegiance to the force that proves its superiority. If there be any decided Union feeling in that city it is certainly remarkably modest. We do not deny that it may be there, and that it is awaiting results before it shows itself. It may be that it does not feel the National grasp to be so secure that it can dare to slip from the Confederate embrace. Let us be perfectly willing to wait and see if this be so. But meanwhile General Butler has to keep order,

and repossess and hold the property of the United States, and he carries altogether too many guns for the gentry who oppose him.

His brisk orders will not be misunderstood. They clear "secesh" air like lightning. They say exactly what they mean, and are utterly iconoclastic. "The Second Washington" who heads this great and glorious war for the defense of the right of holding other people in slavery is called by the peremptory Butler "one Jefferson Davis." The work expended upon fortifications near the Mint by the Confederate authorities was "idly and inanely wasted." The Mayor of the city complains of an order which he says imperils the peace of the city, so that he will not answer for it; the reply is another order suspending him from his functions and committing him to Fort Jackson. He apologizes and withdraws the letter, and is continued at his post. Then he returns with friends and insists upon withdrawing the apology. The General says, "Very well, you may withdraw it; but we have been playing long enough"—and sends him and friends to Fort Jackson.

This is the method which will apprise the rebellious gentry of New Orleans and the rebel region that this Government is fully in earnest; that the loss and suffering brought upon it by this causeless and ferocious insurrection have put it into no mood to be trifled with; that it has taken up arms to touch no person, no property, no right, which ought not to be touched to secure the restoration of its supremacy, but that when it does touch it will be as with lightning; and that it means to hold every city it occupies with the military hand until its citizens give proof of their willingness to be loyal. Meanwhile, of course, mere severity is not force—a fact which General Butler shows that he fully understands.


"You will find," said an officer of Berdan's Sharp-shooters to the Lounger, "that this is not a fancy regiment." The whole country now gratefully confesses it. For they are good men with good weapons. Floyd did what he could to steal all our fire-arms—and he can do more in that way than any other American. But not even Floyd could steal our wits. The Yankee will make a gun if he hasn't one; and if he has one he will make a better. He is kinsman of the doughty warrior of whom the song says,

"And when his legs were shot away,

He fought upon his stumps."

In fact, one of the great collateral interests of the war has been its effect upon improvement in weapons, projectiles, and defenses. The principle of fixed ammunition, or water-proof cartridge, is now about as sure to supersede the old style as that iron-clad ships will replace the old wooden walls of our navy. In like manner the whole question of coast defenses is opened by the Monitor's exploits.

Among the improvements in weapons, experts agree that there is nothing better than Ballard's breech-loading rifle. It is very simple and very sure. The usual difficulties of construction and management in such arms have been thoughtfully avoided in this. Most weapons of the kind, for instance, separate the barrel from the breech, of course weakening the whole. Ballard's rifle has no such objection. It is, moreover, light, made well, and of the best materials, and is in every respect warranted. It is fitted, also, for the copper water-proof cartridge.

Soldier or sportsman looking for a rifle will naturally remember Ballard's.


THE LAST FASHIONABLE VICE.—Enameling is already on the spread. We suppose the Rachels of this superficial accomplishment will soon copy the example of the photographers in the cheap neighborhoods, and place touters at their doors, whose business it will be to waylay ladies as they go by, and to tempt them with the insinuating inquiry of, "Please, Mum, will you have your face enameled?" 

The reward of villains is various; some of them are hung, others cropped and branded—others elected to office.

A large, ferocious dog, finding his way into a dry-goods store filled with lady customers, created considerable alarm; when a raw-looking case remarked that if they'd give him what he wanted likely the dog would leave. What could a dog want in a dry-goods store? Why, he wanted mus'lin, of course.

A magistrate of Chicago proposes to marry couples at one dollar a piece, if they will form clubs of twelve, and all get "fixed" at the same time."

A man with a slight attack of fever and ague is "no great shakes any how."



ON Tuesday, May 27, in the Senate, a resolution was offered and adopted inquiring of the Secretary of War how many officers and men of the army are now confined in the District of Columbia Penitentiary, to what regiments they belong, and by what authority they were committed. The Tax bill was taken up and several amendments adopted. Without transacting any other business the Senate adjourned.—In the House, a message was received from President Lincoln, of which we give an analysis below. Read and referred. The House then took up, in Committee of the Whole, the bill for the establishment of a soldiers' hospital in the District of Columbia: the Committee rose without taking a vote on the bill. A motion was made to reconsider the vote by which the bill for the confiscation of the slaves of rebels was defeated on the previous day. Pending the motion the House adjourned.

On Wednesday, May 28, in the Senate, the Vice-President presented a message from the President, in reply to the resolution of inquiry in reference to certain arrests in Kentucky, in which the President states that it is not deemed compatible with the public interests to give the information asked at present. The special message from the President, sent into the House on the previous day, was ordered by the Senate to be printed. The Tax bill was then taken up and considered for some time, when, on motion, the Senate went into executive session. The executive session lasted but for a short time, after which the consideration of the Tax bill was resumed, and a long discussion on the question of taxing slaves as property took place, pending a decision on which the Senate adjourned.

—In the House, the motion pending at the adjournment

on the previous day, to reconsider the vote by which the bill to give freedom to the slaves of rebels was defeated, was, after considerable discussion, postponed. The House then went into Committee on the Whole on the Senate bill to collect Taxes in the insurrectionary districts, which was passed by a vote of 97 yeas to 17 nays. A resolution was adopted calling on the Secretary of the Treasury for a statement of the public debt, and the annual interest thereof. A bill was introduced, and referred to the Military Committee, in reference to limiting the number of volunteers to be mustered into the military service, and prohibiting the enlistment of contrabands.

On Thursday, May 29, in the Senate, Senator Willey called up the memorial of the loyal Legislature of Virginia, asking for a division of the State, and spoke in favor of it. The memorial was referred to the Territories' Committee. The Senate then continued the consideration of the Tax bill, and the proposed amendment to lay no tax on slaves in States which have adopted the President's system of gradual emancipation was rejected. An amendment was offered to make the tax on slaves two dollars each, instead of five, as proposed, which, after considerable discussion, was adopted by 28 yeas to 10 nays. The amendment of Senator Simmons, proposing to levy the tax on fewer articles, was then considered, and it was rejected by 14 yeas to 22 nays. The Senate then held an executive session, at the conclusion of which an adjournment took place.—In the House, the bill for the more effectual suppression of the African slave-trade, reported from the Judiciary Committee, was passed by a vote of 63 against 45.

On Friday, May 30, in the Senate, resolutions were offered that the Secretary of War communicate to the Senate a copy of General Hooker's official report of the battle of Williamsburg; that the Secretary of the Interior furnish a copy of the correspondence with the War Department respecting the imprisonment of soldiers in the District penitentiary, together with a copy of the District Attorney's opinion thereon. After some discussion upon the Agricultural College bill, the Tax bill was taken up and debated until the hour of adjournment.—There was no session of the House of Representatives.

On Saturday, May 31, in the Senate, Senator Wilson introduced a bill to enable slaves to establish their right to freedom, under the act of August 6, 1861. A resolution for the appointment of a select committee to inquire into the official conduct of Adjutant-General Thomas was offered and laid over. The bill giving compensation to the crew of the gun-boat Varuna was passed. The memorial for the admission of Western Virginia as a separate State was considered, but no final action on it was taken. The House bill to allow California three representatives was passed. The bill to legalize all the President's acceptances of volunteers was taken up and considered for some time, some amendments being proposed; but a vote on the subject was not reached at the hour of one o'clock, the time for taking up the Tax bill, when the consideration of that subject was resumed, which, without any definite result, continued till the adjournment.—The House of Representatives was not in session.

On Monday, June 2, in the Senate, petitions were presented in favor of a sufficient enlargement of the canals of this State to fit them for being navigated by gun-boats. A resolution was offered calling on the Secretary of War for copies of the instructions furnished to Governor Johnson, of Tennessee, and Governor Stanley, of North Carolina. The bill providing for the collection of direct taxes in the rebellious States was returned from the House with amendments, and all the amendments excepting one were adopted. The discussion of the Tax bill was resumed. Different amendments were acted on, when the bill was reported complete, and the Senate adjourned.—In the House, a resolution similar to that offered in the Senate, calling for copies of the instructions to the Provisional Governors of Tennessee and North Carolina, was adopted. Bills were introduced for the organization of the Territory of Lanawa; to prohibit the reduction of free persons to slavery; for the emancipation of Robert Smalls and the other colored men who recently brought the rebel steamer Planter out of Charleston harbor and delivered her to the United States naval forces, and making additional appropriations for the postal service, all of which were referred to the appropriate committees. The Senate bill for the appointment of diplomatic agents to Hayti and Liberia was introduced and discussed till the adjournment, without any decision on it being arrived at.


The President sent an important message to Congress on 27th, explaining the measures taken by the Government at the commencement of the rebellion for the protection of the Union and the Constitution. He recounts the history of the chartering of vessels and providing transportation and supplies then adopted, and assumes to himself the responsibility to answer for the honesty of the Administration and the agents they employed. He states that he consulted his entire Cabinet in the emergency, and met a hearty support from them. He says that he is not aware of a single dollar of the public funds intrusted to unofficial persons having been either lost or wasted, and he entirely exonerates Mr. Cameron from the censure implied in the House resolution of the 30th ult. If censure be due, Mr. Lincoln thinks that he himself, and all the heads of the departments should share it with the late Secretary of War.


The following dispatch was received at the War Department on 1st from

      FIELD OF BATTLE, June 1—12 M. We have had a desperate battle, in which the corps of Generals Sumner, Heintzleman, and Keyes have been engaged against greatly superior numbers.

Yesterday at one o'clock the enemy, taking advantage of a terrible storm which had flooded the valley of the Chickahominy, attacked our troops on the right flank. General Casey's division, which was in the first line, gave way unaccountably and disunitedly. This caused a temporary confusion, during which the guns and baggage were lost; but Generals Heintzleman and Kearney most gallantly brought up their troops, which checked the enemy.

At the same time, however, we succeeded, by great exertion, in bringing across Generals Sedgwick and Richardson's divisions, who drove back the enemy at the point of the bayonet, covering the ground with his dead.

This morning the enemy attempted to renew the conflict, but was every where repulsed.

We have taken many prisoners, among whom is General Pettigrew and Colonel Long.

Our loss is heavy, but that of the enemy must be enormous.

With the exception of General Casey's division, the men behaved splendidly.

Several fine bayonet charges have been made. The Second Excelsior regiment made two today.


      Major-General Commanding.


The official report of the battle at Hanover Court House was received at the War Department from General McClellan on 28th, from which it appears that it was a pretty serious affair, resulting in a complete rout of the enemy. The rebel loss in killed and wounded is set down at one thousand, and our loss at three hundred and seventy-nine killed, wounded, and missing, of whom fifty-three were killed. One hundred of the enemy's dead were buried on the field by our men. Five hundred were taken prisoners, and more were coming in. The rebels in this action were mostly from Georgia and North Carolina.


The evacuation of Corinth by the rebel army under General Beauregard was announced officially by General Halleck, in a dispatch received at the War Department on 30th ult. The Thirty-ninth Ohio regiment, the advance-guard of General Pope's brigade, entered the city at a few minutes before seven o'clock on 30th, and planted the Union flag on the dome of the court-house. The enemy had abandoned the place previously. The last display of resistance they made was in responding to the batteries of General Pope on the morning of 29th.


Major-General Halleck telegraphs:


Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:

The enemy's position and works in front of Corinth were

exceedingly strong. He can not occupy a stronger position in his flight. This morning he destroyed an immense amount of public and private property, stores, provisions, wagons, tents, etc, For miles out of the town the roads are filled with arms, haversacks, etc., thrown away by his fleeing troops. A large number of prisoners and deserters have been captured, estimated by General Pope at 2000. General Beauregard evidently distrusts his army, or he would have defended so strong a position. His troops are generally much discouraged and demoralized. In all the engagements for the last few days their resistance has been slight.


Major-General Commanding.


The following was received at the War Department on 2d:



CAMP NEAR CORINTH, June 1, 1862.

To Hon. Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War.

The following dispatch has been received from General Pope:

To H. W. Halleck, Major-General Commanding:

It gives me pleasure to report the brilliant success of the expedition sent out on the 28th of May, under Colonel Elliott. With the Second Iowa cavalry, after forced marches, day and night, through a very difficult country, and obstructed by the enemy, he finally succeeded in reaching the Mobile and Ohio Railroad at Booneville at two o'clock P.M. on the 30th.

He destroyed the track in many places, both south and north of the town, blew up one culvert, destroyed the switch and track, burned up the depot and locomotives, and a train of twenty-six cars loaded with supplies of every kind, destroyed ten thousand stand of small-arms, three pieces of artillery, and a great quantity of clothing and ammunition, and paroled two thousand prisoners, which he could not keep with his cavalry. The enemy had heard of his movements, and had a train of box cars and flat cars, with flying artillery and five thousand infantry, running up and down the road, to prevent him from reaching it. The whole road was lined with pickets for several days. Colonel Elliott's command subsisted on meat alone, such as they could find in the country.

For daring and dispatch this expedition has been distinguished in the highest degree, and entitles Colonel Elliott and his command to high distinction. Its results will be embarrassing to the enemy, and contribute greatly to their loss and demoralization. He reports the road full of small parties of the retreating enemy, scattering in all directions.

      JOHN POPE, Major-General.


Refugees who have just arrived at Cairo state that Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas, is in possession of our troops. The Governor and the members of the Legislature had fled to parts unknown.


A brigade of our troops, with four companies of the Rhode Island cavalry in advance, under Major Nelson, entered Front Royal on Friday morning and drove the enemy, consisting of the Eighth Louisiana, four companies of the Twelfth Georgia, and a body of cavalry, out of the town, and now occupy it. Our advance was so rapid that the enemy was surprised, and was therefore not enabled to burn the bridges across the Shenandoah. A dispatch from General Banks himself states that the Fifth New York cavalry, Colonel De Forest commanding, entered Martinsburg on 30th, and passed several miles beyond, where they encountered the enemy's cavalry, captured several prisoners, a wagon, several muskets, ammunition, and an American flag. Thus it appears that a large portion of the ground lost by the recent attack of the rebels upon the reduced forces of General Banks has been recovered.


The following dispatches are published:


NEAR STRASBURG, June 1, 1862. General Fremont, with a strong column, left Franklin on Sunday, 25th ult., and by rapid forced marches has crossed the Shenandoah mountain ranges, marching nearly one hundred miles over difficult roads, with little means of transportation, and no supplies in the country. This morning, five miles from Strasburg, he overtook General Jackson in full retreat with his whole force, on the road from Winchester to Strasburg.

Colonel Cluserut, commanding the advance brigade, came upon the enemy, strongly posted with artillery, which opened as soon as the head of his column approached. General Fremont rapidly brought his main column up, and formed in line of battle.

General Jackson declined to fight, and, while holding Cluserut in check with a portion of his troops, withdrew his main forces and continued his retreat.

In the skirmish five of the Eighth Virginia and two of the Sixtieth Ohio regiments were wounded.

The enemy's loss is unknown. Twenty-five prisoners were taken by our cavalry.

Lieutenant-Colonel Downey, of the Third regiment Potomac Home Brigade, in a skirmish on Thursday morning, drove a large party of Ashby's cavalry through Wardensville, killing two and wounding three.


      STRASBURG, June 2, 1862. General Fremont's advance brigade, under Colonel Cluserut, occupied Strasburg last night without resistance.

Jackson is rapidly retreating before our forces.

A midnight reconnoissance three miles beyond Strasburg came upon a rope barricade and ambush of Jackson's rear-guard, and retired successfully with the loss of only three wounded.

Colonel Figgelmencil, of General Fremont's staff, with only fifteen men, brilliantly charged and put to flight a body of cavalry, commanded by Ashby in person.


The Charleston papers of the 21st inst. state that four of our vessels had shelled three islands in the harbor on the day previous—namely, Coles, Kiawah, and Goat Islands—and that the rebels had retired after burning their quarters. Coles Island is situated at a distance of between twelve and fifteen miles from the city of Charleston.


General Butler has suppressed the New Orleans Delta and the Bee for advocating the destruction of produce. He has arrested several British subjects for giving aid to the rebels. He has seized a large quantity of specie belonging to the rebels from the office of the Consul for the Netherlands; has stopped the circulation of "Confederate" paper money, and has distributed among the suffering poor the provisions intended for the support of the rebel soldiers. And more: he has taken the wife of General Beauregard—who was found to be in New Orleans—under his care and protection, just as General McClellan has done the wife of the rebel General Lee, in the neighborhood of Richmond.


Trouble is breaking out in Western Tennessee, and a considerable force of rebels is said to be at Trenton, ready to march on Union City and Hickman. Union men from Weakly and Obion counties were flecking to Hickman for protection. Four or five hundred rebel cavalry are stationed near the mouth of Obion liver, awaiting the draining of the swamp in that region to plant a battery to prevent the passage of our transports on the Mississippi.


The prize steamer Patras, recently captured while attempting to run into Charleston harbor, has arrived here. The vessel and her cargo are valued at $300,000. In addition to this, the blockading squadron have already captured the following steamers: The Circassian (British), Bermuda (British), Swan, Labuan (British, since restored), Magnolia, Florida, Ella Warley, Stettin (British), Calhoun, Lewis, Wallace, Fox, and the rebel gun-boat Planter, run out of Charleston by loyal contrabands, The aggregate value of these vessels is over $5,000,000.


Major-General Dix left Baltimore by steamer on 31st for Fortress Monroe to relieve General Wool from his command at that post. General Wool, it is said, will take the place of General Dix at Baltimore.




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