Duty Calls


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, June 21, 1862

Welcome to the online edition of the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the civil war. This archive makes our extensive collection of Civil War newspapers available to you on the internet, for your browsing pleasure. These newspapers will help you develop a better understanding of the War.

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Corinth, Mississippi

Teaching Slaves to Read and Write

Teaching Slaves to Read and Write

Black and White Equality

Black and White Equality

Duty Calls Poem

Poem "Duty Calls"


Chickahominy River

Richmond Cartoon

Richmond Cartoon

Battle of Hanover

Battle of Hanover

Corinth, Mississippi

Corinth, Mississippi



Battle of Mechanicsville

Battle of Mechanicsville

Corinth, Mississippi

Scenes Around Corinth, Mississippi

Battle of Fairoaks

Battle of Fairoaks









JUNE 21, 1862.]



to make inquiry. I had not far to go. In a ditch not more than two hundred yards away I found his body—stark, cold! He had been stabbed with some sharp instrument from behind. Robbery had been added to murder. His money and watch were gone. The zealous investigation immediately set on foot elicited no reliable particle of evidence, or so much as suggested a suspicion of who the assassin or assassins might be. No one exhibited more anxiety to discover a clew to the perpetrator of the dreadful deed than Richard Chevne. I was not deceived by that show of zeal, and consulted with Mr. Woolgar as to whether we might not hazard obtaining a warrant to search the Poor Brother's apartments in the Hospital. He strongly dissuaded me from attempting such a step. I, however, persisted; communicated my suspicions, and the grounds of them, to the Mayor of Winchester, and a search-warrant issued. Nothing was found to criminate the Poor Brother; and the only result of the search proceeding was that I had earned for myself the enmity of a man whose enmity was death. He did not openly manifest any disfavor. On the contrary, his manner toward me had never been so friendly, so apparently cordial—which friendliness and cordiality but the more convinced me I was a marked victim.

The months rolled on. We were again in the dark days and nights of January. My mother, yielding to my importunities, had sold the tenements in Otterbourne. The money was in our house, and we were to leave for Appleby, Westmoreland, where we had several relatives, in a few days.

My mother, who was much indisposed, had gone to Winchester to consult a Dr. Lyford, accompanied by the woman-servant, and would sleep there. Anticipating that I should soon be beyond the immediate reach, at all events, of Richard Cheyne, I was in much better spirits than usual. Again and again, while vainly attempting to fix my attention upon a book, I passed over in review, for the thousandth time the circumstances attending the murder of my father—thought over again the suspicions attaching to the Poor Brother, Richard Cheyne; wondered if the popular notion that "murder will out" would prove true; wondered also how it was no communication had reached us from Lavender, the Bow Street Runner, who had inserted a paragraph in the principal newspapers offering a reward to whoever would give information that might lead to the discovery of the escaped criminal lunatic, William Parsons. I had answered the advertisement, describing Richard Cheyne, and hinting my own belief that he was the man wanted. No answer had been returned, and I concluded that my pen-portrait of the Poor Brother had convinced Mr. Lavender that Richard Cheyne was not the man wanted.

It was getting somewhat late for country-folk, and I was thinking of locking up and going to bed, when the door-latch lifted and in glided Richard Cheyne!—all the demon in his nature roused in action, and flaring with flame from the bottomless pit in his wild, madman eyes.

He closed and locked the outer door before my checked pulse could beat again, then with a devilish shout of triumph advanced toward me, a bright, thin poniard (the instrument, I should think, with which he had slain my father) glittering in his hand. "I have thee now, young viper! thee and thy gold! Follow thy accursed father!" I avoided the stroke by leaping backward, seized a chair, successfully warded off his furious poniard strokes, and endeavored to gain the unlocked side-door of the room—once out, my legs would save me. I kept shouting the while, "Murder! murder! Help! help!" Furious—mad—Cheyne flung down the dagger, with his hands seized the chair, and was wrenching it from me, when, just as all hope had left me and I felt the full bitterness of death, the side-door was flung back and in rushed two men—Lavender and a brother officer—both recognized with a shriek of terror by Cheyne. They also recognized him. "All right," almost shouted Lavender; "this is our man! No nonsense, Parsons."

Tile felon-lunatic offered no further resistance; he was effectually secured and relodged in Bedlam, where he died about three years afterward. It is not, certainly, quite clear that he was one of the murderers of the Mars and Williams families, but the probabilities favor the assumption that he was; and my own conviction upon the point fire would not burn out of me.


WE are enabled to give in this number three pages of illustrations of THE ARMY OF THE MISSISSIPPI from sketches by our special artists, Messrs. Davis and Simplot.

On page 385 we reproduce three of Mr. Davis's sketches of Corinth. Mr. Davis was enabled, through the kindness of a general officer, to visit the place on the evacuation, and he accordingly introduces us to a GENERAL VIEW OF CORINTH, BEAUREGARD'S HEAD-QUARTERS there, and the RAILWAY JUNCTION which gave the point its strategical importance. On page 388 we give another picture, also from a sketch by Mr. Davis, showing the ADVANCE-GUARD OF GENERAL POPE'S ARMY ENTERING THE REBEL WORKS. This was in all probability the culminating point of the war in the Southwest, and the operation therefore possesses historical interest. The picture shows the rude breast-works erected by the enemy for the defense of their position.

We publish on page 391 three illustrations of GENERAL POPE'S ARMY, from sketches by our artist, Mr. Alexander Simplot. FARMINGTON, which is shown in the sketches, is thus described by a correspondent of the World:

Farmington, that I write in—that Pope took from the rebels, that the rebels took from Pope, and that Pope took from the rebels again, and that we now have securely under our left wing—is a mere speck of a log-town, deserted by its seventy-five inhabitants; old, dilapidated, and solitary,

situated to the east of Corinth about three miles and a quarter, and to the north of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad some two miles and a half. On the big tree at the cross-roads hard by it is written, "To Purdy 22 Miles." The only sign-board left in Farmington reads, "Haynie & Harris." What manner of wares Haynie & Harris were the disposers of their sign does not signify.

Farmington is not only utterly and absolutely vacated of its inhabitants, but presents the appearance, outdoors and in, of having been in this state and condition behind the memory of man.

Still unmapped, insignificant Farmington did confer upon me yesterday one of the most delicious hours of my life. I passed it in a little, old "God's acre" that tops a neighboring hill. The moment you set foot within this inclosure you are struck with the antiquated and dilapidated fashion of every thing around you. The whole area is not greater than a quarter of an acre, and yet I venture to presume that Greenwood or Mount Auburn do not engage and entertain the sensitive to so great an extent as this little rural grave-yard. Old Mortality might find employment here for many hours. I, indeed, either from lack of experience or the age of the inscriptions, made but poor success in his employment.

The fence, of palings that had never known the embellishment of white-wash, has nearly all gone to decay. So also the rude, small sheds that here and there cover from one to half a dozen of the dead. The old-style brick vaults, that once looked tidy and substantial, are falling into ruins and overspread with moss. A deep layer of last year's leaves hides the ground, except where the hardy wild rose or the tenacious evergreen peeps out in testimony of a loving care of the long, long ago. Bushes are numerous, while every ten square feet contains a lofty and venerable oak. One of these, loftier and more venerable than the rest, occupies the centre of the cemetery, and spreads its vast arms in paternal protection over all beneath them. Some of the graves are surrounded by a small post and rail fence supporting a roof of shingles. Others are inclosed in plain palings. Most are destitute of designation save a simple wooden stake, while the names of several of the departed are chiseled on marble tombstones.


WE devote the bulk of our space this week to illustrations of THE ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, from sketches by our artists, Messrs. A. R. Waud and Mead.

On page 390 we give a picture, from a sketch by Mr. Mead, of THE BATTLE OF MECHANICSVILLE, a small village where the rebels made a stand before they ran toward Richmond; and on page 389 another picture of the "skedaddle" of the rebel forces from the place, from a sketch by Mr. A. R. Waud. The affair is thus described in the correspondence of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

This morning at daybreak the rebels opened upon the little band that had driven them across the river at New Bridge. The cavalry and artillery were encamped across the river, and the infantry close by upon the opposite side, but in supporting distance. To our right was a little village called Mechanicsville. In a grove this side a battery of four guns commenced to fire solid shot; before us was an open field, and the fire was at once returned, but no damage bring done in half an hour, or the firing being unsatisfactory, Wheeler's battery of four pieces and Davidson's brigade in the following order—Seventy-seventh New York, Colonel J. B. M'Keon; Thirty-third New York, Forty-ninth New York, Seventh Maine, Colonel Mason—were ordered to take the battery. They at once marched up half a mile, when the rebel infantry were seen drawn up in line of battle in front of the battery. Wheeler's battery at once halted and opened upon them, dealing out a terrific fire of canister and shell. It was returned with but little loss on our side. We could now see four squadrons of rebel cavalry and two regiments of gray coats.

After firing some time, the Seventy-seventh New York and Thirty-third New York advanced again, and, in marching up, received a heavy volley of musketry and solid shot from their 12-pounders, with a "charge bayonets," and one of the most terrific roars, that seemed like the bursting of a huge cataract from its barriers, on they rushed; first the cavalry fled, and before the infantry got close enough to see the whites of their eyes, their infantry broke and ran in all directions through the woods. Down went, knapsacks, canteens, and muskets. The infantry pursued them cautiously, and found one wounded man upon the field who belonged to a Georgia regiment. Their killed and wounded were taken away with them with this exception.

On pages 392 and 393 we publish a picture representing the ENCAMPMENT OF THE ARMY AT CUMBERLAND, on the Pamunky River, from a sketch by Mr. Mead, of Vermont. This encampment was a very striking scene indeed. Never before in this country had so many men of various arms been collected on one plain. The site of the camp itself was one of great natural beauty. Up the river numbers of transports, steamers, and sailing craft, were constantly hurrying forward with troops and munitions of war. The quiet little stream was never so busy since it first flowed downward. It was from this encampment that the army moved forward to the Chickahominy and the Battle of Fairoaks.

On the same pages we illustrate one of the terrible BAYONET CHARGES BY SICKLES'S BRIGADE, at the Battle of Fairoaks, on the Sunday—June 1. The Herald correspondent wrote:

Soon the fire became general, and spread along the lines of the Irish brigade, French's brigade, and the brigade of the gallant Howard. This day also the enemy's fire was well directed and severe. But it was returned with certainly equal effect, and our men pushed forward, across the railroad and down into the swamp; and now the enemy in his turn gave way. It was very difficult ground, and the men could not at all times keep the line, and were often up to their waists in water in the advance through the swamp. Yet still they kept on. Sometimes, too, there may have been a weakness under the fire, but the gallantry of the officers kept the men up to it. This was once or twice the case in Howard's brigade; but the young hero, by his own gallantry, gave an example that restored all. Two horses were shot under him in this advance, and he received two rifle-balls in his right arm; but he bound up the shattered limb in a handkerchief and kept the field. With the continual din of the musketry, as it pealed up and down the lines on either side, no order could be heard, and only example served. Thus the mounted officers were compelled to keep ahead in the advance to show the men what was wanted.

There was the Irish brigade in all the glory of a fair free fight. Other men go into fights finely, sternly, or indifferently, but the only man that really loves it after all is the "green immortal" Irishman. So there the brave lads from the old sod, with the chosen Meagher at their head, laughed and fought and joked, as if it were the finest fun in the world. We saw one sitting on the edge of a ditch, with his feet in the water—and the sun and the water too very hot—and he apparently wounded. As we rode by he called out to know if we "had ever seen a boiled Irishman."

From Richardson's division the fire spread around to the New Jersey brigade, on the front which the enemy had pushed so far the day before. Nobly did the Jerseymen stand up to it and push on closer and closer, and the enemy fell back, through the thick swamp, slowly and steadily. On this front the fire was not so severe as on Richardson's, but still it told heavily on our brave fellows, though it did not prevent the advance.

Still farther to the left was the Excelsior brigade, and General Sickles with it. Though on, we believe, his first battle-field, the General had not the air or manner of a

novice. He was all activity, and thought only of the way to win.

Sickles's men apparently lost their patience, and we suppose the officers did, and General Sickles especially. When men advance across a battle-field, loading and firing as they go, they naturally do not go very fast, and the Sickles brigade voted the gait to be decidedly slow. So the order was given to fix bayonets and charge, and they did it not mincingly at all, but in terrible earnest and with a glorious cheer. Some of the rebels stood it and held their places; some stood long enough to fire their pieces, and then run; but the mass ran at once, scampered away through the woods like so many squirrels.

That ended the fight for Sunday in that direction, for it would not do to let the men go rashly too far into the woods. We didn't know what little arrangements of artillery, etc., the enemy might have made there in our absence, so with a wise caution the Sickles brigade was drawn back to the edge of the wood, and laid away there snugly; and there it spent its Sunday ready for visitors, though none came, if we except several innocuous shell that the enemy threw into the wood over their heads.

On page 396 we reproduce one of Mr. Waud's sketches, representing GENERAL M'CLELLAN RECONNOITRING THE TURNPIKE FROM MECHANICSVILLE TO RICHMOND. He has been within half an hour's ride of the rebel capital for several days. One can easily imagine the feelings with which he scanned the landscape. A few days more and he will realize the aim of his expedition—On to Richmond!

Lastly, on page 397 we give a picture of the commencement of the BATTLE OF HANOVER COURT HOUSE, from a sketch by an officer engaged, which was kindly presented to our artist. We take the following account of the transaction from the Herald correspondence:

Within about three miles of Hanover Court House the road turns to the right, and to the left there branches off another road which leads to Ashland. It was at this point that the enemy was first discovered in the woods, apparently in force, near the Hanover Road, while at the same time he was found to be in position near the Ashland Road to the left. General Potter immediately made a proper disposition of his forces—infantry, artillery, and cavalry were speedily placed in position to meet the enemy. Berdan's Sharp-shooters went in front, deployed in open order, and shots were exchanged between the opposing forces. At the forks of the road General Martindale was ordered to proceed to the left, drive the enemy from his position, cut the telegraph wires, and pull up a portion of the Virginia Central Railroad track at Peak's Station, which is less than half a mile distant, while the Twenty-fifth New York went in front. General Martindale proceeded with the Twenty-second Massachusetts, Colonel Gove, and the Second Maine, Colonel Roberts, to execute the order. The Twenty-second Massachusetts being directed to support a section of Benson's battery, the Captain commanding the artillery in person, skirmishers were thrown out in front and on either flank, the remainder of the regiment advancing in line of battle behind the battery. The skirmishers soon reported the enemy coming out of railroad cars to the left, therefore the whole of the Twenty-second Massachusetts was ordered to the left of the battery, which opened with shell in the direction in which the enemy was seen, at the same time the Second Maine being thrown to the right, diagonally across the railroad.

In the mean time the section of battery was relieved by Griffins', which advanced between the regiments and opened a vigorous fire on the enemy, while the latter had also brought forward some field-pieces, and there soon ensued quite an artillery engagement. It was subsequently seen that a shell from our battery exploded one of the enemy's caissons. The pioneers of the Second Maine went forward, cut the telegraph wire, pulled up over thirty rails from the railroad track, and, in conjunction with the Twenty-second Massachusetts, accomplished what had been directed. The enemy had been driven back, and the two regiments were withdrawn and directed to join the remainder of our command, which was advancing on Hanover Court House.

Before these operations had transpired on the left the Twenty-fifth New York, in General Martindale's brigade, had proceeded, with Berdan's Sharp-shooters., along the Hanover road. When debouching from the woods, skirmishers being thrown out in front, the enemy opened a vigorous fire of musketry from the woods to the left, about three hundred yards distant. This was the first fire of the day. At this fire Lieutenant-Colonel Savage was wounded in the arm, and Lieutenant Fiske was killed. A rebel regiment then advanced through the fields, filed right along the fence near Dr. Kenny's house, on the left of the road, while those on the other side also came around, and volleys were exchanged. Lieutenant Thompson and four or five men were killed by this fire. Advancing in three detachments, the enemy succeeded in cutting off and capturing nearly two companies of the Twenty-fifth Regiment. Berdan's Sharp-shooters were meanwhile engaged. Colonel Johnson, of the Twenty-fifth, then withdrew his small command to give the enemy battle near his reserve, under Major Gilbert, about twenty rods in the rear, when other troops arrived on the ground at this auspicious moment.

These troops consisted of a portion of General Butterfield's brigade. Having received information from the Commanding General that his troops were required in front, General Butterfield pushed them forward and formed them in two lines. The first line consisted of the Seventeenth New York, Colonel Lansing, on the right, and the Eighty-third Pennsylvania, Colonel M'Lane, on the left; and the second, of the Twelfth New York, Colonel Weeks, on the right, and the Sixteenth Michigan, Colonel Stockton, on the left, the two latter regiments being in double column in the rear. A strong line of skirmishers were thrown out in advance. In this order the regiments went through the woods, at the edge of which they were halted till the line was perfectly formed and the position of the enemy ascertained. In this order the command emerged from the woods, the skirmishers firing in front. The splendid appearance of the brigade as it cane into the wheat-fields, and the vigorous fire of the skirmishers, had the effect of putting the enemy to flight. The rebels immediately fell back, and the Seventeenth New York, in front on the right, took one of the enemy's guns—a brass 12-pounder, which is regarded as the most precious trophy from the battle-field, Lieutenant-Colonel Morris, of the Seventeenth New York, who has just been appointed Colonel of the Ninety-third, being sick, was requested by the doctor to remain in charge of some prisoners who had been taken near Dr. Kenny's house. When the enemy was advancing on that position Colonel Morris made the rebel prisoners haul away the captured cannon, which, for the time being, was given in charge of Captain Martin's company, and turned upon the rebels.

Generals Porter and Morell were now on the ground, and orders were given for the brigade to follow, as well in pursuit of the retiring enemy as to take the Hanover Railroad station, and participate in the expected action in the vicity of Hanover Court House. Those regiments preserving their first formation still steadily advanced, at shoulder arms, across the extensive fields, over a rough ravine and through the adjacent woods. The command occupied the railroad station to the left, where cars of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad were found abandoned on the track, a number of the enemy's tents, and other articles, and was in possession of Hanover Court House when intelligence was received that the enemy had reappeared in our rear, and orders were given to return.


WE publish on page 390 an illustration of OUR FLOTILLA IN THE JAMES RIVER, near Richmond, from a sketch by an officer on board one of the vessels. The artist writes as follows on the subject of his picture:


City Point is, or rather has been, the "port of entry" to Petersburg. It is situated on the right bank of the James River, about fifty miles below Richmond. It can hardly be called a town, having at the best of times not more than two or three hundred inhabitants, and these mostly negroes; at present it is almost entirely deserted. Being the terminus of the Petersburg Railroad, the cars frequently arrive, and are met by the United States steamer Massachusetts, both under flag of truce, to effect the exchange of prisoners. It is daily expected that Colonel Corcoran will here be restored to his anxious friends.

A letter from City Point says:

While coming up the river the height of the tide indicated that the heavy rains had caused a freshet. This was considerably increased yesterday, and still continues. Immense quantities of driftwood, logs, pieces of wreck, etc., have been and are still being floated down the stream by the force of the current. So strong is the tide that it is with great difficulty a boat from one of the vessels lower down can reach another higher up the river. Yesterday a vessel's hatch, and soon after a cook's galley, with the stove, were drifted down, and the corpse of a man floated past, face downward, feet forward and legs extended. The corpse was clad in a white shirt and white trowsers or drawers. As the face was downward, we could not tell whether the body was that of a white or a black man.

Last night, about ten o'clock, two large canal boats were driven past the squadron by the force of the current. These appearances seem to indicate that the obstructions placed across the river above Fort Darling by the rebels are being gradually washed away by the freshet; but it is exceedingly doubtful whether they will have been so far removed as to admit of the passage of our vessels, so effectually have the sunken vessels been secured between piles driven Into the river, and such large quantities of stones have been sunk between the interstices. The weather is threatening and the current in full force, with a rushing sound like that of a waterfall, and there is no indication of the freshet subsiding for some time.

Commodore Goldsborough, with a squadron as powerful as that with which Farragut took New Orleans, is at City Point or thereabouts. The country will expect to hear from him.



Go, my boy, and Heaven bless you! I have read each precious line

Of your heart's responsive throbbings to a Higher Call than mine.

God hath spoken—you have heard Him—and though tears these eyes bedim,

Your affection for your mother shall not mar your love for Him.

Could I bid you stay from fondness, when the ever-ruling Hand

Marks your path to duty clearly for the safety of your land?

No! 'tis yours to be a patriot, and 'tis mine to prove as true;

Go, my boy, where duty calls you, and my heart shall follow you!

Go in faith, and feel protection in a Power Supreme, Divine;

Should a bullet pierce your body it will also enter mine.

Do I think of this in sorrow? Does my love sad fears renew?

Do I tremble at the prospect? No, my son: no more than you.

Dear to me is every pathway where your precious feet have trod;

But I give you fondly, freely, to my country and my God. You and I shall never falter in the work we have to do;

Go, my boy, where duty calls you, and my heart shall follow you!

I shall pray for you—how often—with the waking hour of morn,

Through the labors of my household, and when night is coming on.

If a mother's prayers can keep you 'mid the dangers you incur,

God will surely bring you back again to happiness and her.

I will never doubt the goodness that has kept you until now,

That has kept the evil from your heart, the shadow from your brow;

And I know that it shall keep you in the path you must pursue;

Go, my boy, where duty calls you, and my heart shall follow you!

It my boy were less a hero, less the man in thought and deed,

I had less to give my country in her trying hour of need;

And I feel a pride in knowing that to serve this cause divine,

From the hearth-stone goes no braver heart than that which goes from mine.

I have loved you from the hour that my lips first pressed your brow,

Ever tenderly, but never quite as tenderly as now.

All I have is His who gave it, whatsoe'er He bids me do; Go, my boy, where duty calls you, and my heart shall

follow you!

I shall miss you through the spring-time, when the orchard is in bloom,

When the smiling face of Nature bathes its beauty in perfume;

When the birds are sweetly singing by the door and on the wing,

I shall think of you who always loved to pause and hear them sing.

Long will seem the waning hours through the drowsy summer day,

With my boy exposed to dangers on a soil as far away.

But my spirit shall not murmur, though a tear bedim my view;

Go, my boy, where duty calls you, and my heart shall follow you!

You will come and see your mother, come and kiss her, as you say,

From her lips receive the blessing that shall cheer you on your way;

From her fond embrace go forward to resist your country's foe,

With the comforting assurance that your mother bade you go.

Heaven protect, and bless, and keep you; holy angels guard your way,

Keep your spirit from temptation, and your feet from going astray.

To your mother ever faithful, to your country ever true—

Go, my boy, where duty calls you, and my heart shall follow you!

May 28, 1862.




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