Winslow Homer's War News


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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.

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


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.



ONE of our most ingenious artists, Mr. Winslow Homer, has portrayed in the picture which we publish on pages 376 and 377 the thrilling effect of the NEWS FROM THE WAR. There is news that is exciting and triumphant: news of battles fought and won; of forts stormed in the teeth of rebel cannon; of brilliant charges with the bayonet, or fierce avalanches of cavalry; of daring reconnoissances and hair-breadth escapes: news which fires the heart and makes the eye glisten and the cheek redden with patriotic ardor. And there is news of defeat; of slaughter and massacre; of gallant Northern boys left to become the prey of Southern ghouls, who will convert their skulls into trophies, and whose daughters and wives will not blush to wear ornaments made of their bones; news which makes the cheek blanch, and nerves the brave man's heart to further encounters, and warns the wise man that the time for half-measures has passed. News of the war! We all live on it. Few of us but would prefer our newspaper in those times to our breakfast. To some it comes as the brilliant radiance of sunlight after a gloomy morning, announcing that one who is near and dear to us has fulfilled the hopes of his friends, and has won fame and promotion and a place in history. To many tender hearts news of the war, be it of victory or defeat, merely means the death or wounding of some dear soldier. How little they think, whose lovers or brothers are reported in the fatal list of killed and wounded, of the triumphs or the perils of the Union cause! Little she reeks, whose face is buried in her handkerchief in an agony of anguish, of the utter discomfiture of the rebels! Her discomfiture is more complete and more abiding than theirs. And then there is the news of Union victories, conveyed through trumpet-tongued rumor, to gallant Unionists in prison in the South, to cheer their dreary days; to wounded men in hospital and in sorrow, whose pains seem less acute, and whose blood courses more freely as they realize that the cause in which they suffered has received new lustre; to soldiers in the camp, who hear, with half-suppressed jealousy, of glories they did not share, and who vow, as they listen to the news, that when their time comes, they too will make themselves heard of. The only thing which thrills every heart nowadays is the News of the War. Mr. Homer, we think, has done justice to his subject.


"COME here a moment, please."

We had only a glimmer of light in the hospital, for the cots were nearly all empty. Most of our wounded had been sent home; but the moon was full, and poured its white stream of radiance right down on the face of the man who had spoken to me.

"What is it you want?" I asked.

" I don't like to be alone. I feel rather strangely."

"You are excited; what is the matter?"

The thin, keen features of the man wore an eager, restless expression; his black eyes shone fiercely.

"I'm a deserter, you know. This wound troubles me a little. You don't think I deserted from cupidity, do you?"

"Really I know nothing about it. You are not well to-night ; I shall give you something quieting so that you may sleep."

"No, no, just stay here a moment. Don't leave me."

He looked so eager that I sat down on his cot, felt his pulse again, rearranged his bandages, and placed his pillow more comfortably.

"Your touch is gentle as a woman's," he said, gratefully, sighing as he spoke. I sat still a little while, then rose to order his medicine, but he grasped me by the hand and drew me down again by him.

"This moonlight reminds me of the night I came near losing my sword-arm. I was lieutenant in a Louisiana regiment. We had a pretty hard brush with your fellows, and I found myself face to face with the toughest subject you ever saw. Twice I thought myself gone: our cartridges were out, and with a great shout of 'Liberty and Union!' the Yankee came at me with his sabre, cutting a gash in my arm that laid me low. Fortunately they had to fly just then, or I should have been in the other world. When I came to my senses, I was all alone with just such a glare of moonlight in my eyes as shines to-night. I was very weak and consuming with thirst, and not especially thankful to my brave comrades for thus leaving use in the lurch. You must know that I joined the army without a spark of love for secession: not a jot of principle in the matter—purely from the love of adventure, and with my French blood tingling at the thought of 'la gloire.' I have had different teaching since; so you need not be hasty in thinking me very contemptible. Glory has been the dream of my life."

Pale, wasted as he was, the young lieutenant's face had a strange fascination in it. Now his eyes gleamed again, his proud mouth was tremulous with feeling that, of course, was yet incomprehensible to me. I tried to make him be silent; but so intense was his desire to speak that I found it best to listen calmly—best for more reasons than one: life was low in the chalice, perhaps my listening might sweeten its last few drops.

"Yes, glory has been a bright dream ever since I could listen to old stories of my ancestors in other lands, where our name was a proud one, a name I have tried to keep with honor. Well, I woke in the moonlight with a dim sense of concern for my generous friends who had left me to fate, and a very urgent desire to get water; so I managed to crawl through the woods, sometimes rising to my feet only to fall again, though I had tied my handkerchief round my arm to stop the bleeding. I recollected passing a farm-house before the fray, and as well as I could made my way for it. I was fortunate; though alarmed, the occupants were accustomed to danger and kindly took me in. For some time I was very ill: during my illness

our regiment was ordered off; indeed the Federals had gained possession of that part of the country. No one molested me; for the family was a poor Union one, who had been robbed of nearly all their valuables, but who, notwithstanding our ill-treatment, did not make known my refuge. I need not tell you how kind they were, how patient and careful; there was only an elderly woman, a boy of fourteen, and a young woman in the family. From the time I first opened my eyes after the delirium of fever, until—no matter for time—but kindness and tenderest care from both, but principally the younger woman, greeted me. I can see her great, dark, sad eyes looking now at me. 'Dieu!' how beautiful, how tender, how full of love. Love, did I say? adoration! What a life was hers! Poor Nina, poor Nina ! She was the daughter of one of the most influential, proudest merchants in New Orleans—her mother a quadroon slave. The father died one day of apoplexy without adjusting his 'property,' leaving Nina a slave. Too proud, too good, too beautiful. She fled, for her mother had already named her price—three thousand dollars. I gnash my teeth with rage at our cursed institution—she taught me what I was fighting to perpetuate. She, poor Nina, not even then safe from pursuers. I can not express to you how gentle and tender was her care of me. I can only tell you that it inspired the deepest love." The invalid raised himself on one arm, flashing darker, deeper than ever were his black eyes—a noble brow, white and thin to spirituality—the proud lips quivering again with pain and passion. Again I tried unavailingly to soothe him—he must have felt the strong tide of life ebbing, but it seemed only to nerve him on to speaking.

"I had left in New Orleans rare beauties, my own cousins—proud, elegant women; I have frittered time away over soulless creatures; I have believed myself in love with these moths, glittering, gaudy, vain beings; but never had I loved truly till I saw Nina. You do not know what it cost me to confess this even to myself. I, who had dreamed of glory all my life—I, who had proudest of blood in my veins—I to love a woman tainted with African lineage! I feel wild—the room swims—hush, you must listen! Nina's voice was rich with melody, but it became torture. Her gentle, healing touch distracted me, her light footfall, her winning womanliness and modesty all jarred. I was nearly mad, and because I loved her—loved her whose price was three thousand dollars!

"I can see the room where I lay day after day battling dire thoughts—wan and weak, weaker than now, for to-night I am strong. My wound would not heal, for my brain was on fire. So lying there on the nice white pillows, fanned or read to by that beautiful, sad, passionate woman, who, even in her nice sense of beauty and order, in her loving desire to please, in her longing to amuse or change the current of my unhappy thoughts, betrayed the same emotion which was galling me. She wreathed flowers dextrously; she cooked the most delicate birds for my fastidious appetite; she sang softly low-toned ballads, rich and sweet, in old French words. And I, cold, mute, passive, listened with ears intent to hear, eyes aching to drink in her loveliness; for she was lovely—yes, though worth only three thousand dollars!

"I will stop soon; you are kind to be patient. I was dreaming one night of past scenes—of my beautiful, fashionable cousins; but their faces became suddenly dark and vicious as imps; their voices taunting, mocking me with my love of glory, my hopes of fame; for it seemed as if Nina had told them of my love for her, and in their impishness it became a matter of rare sport to jeer and mock use with my sudden fall from greatness, from ancestral pride. I suppose I spoke aloud in my dreams, for as I woke a pale face, whose dark eyes were floating with tears, vanished like a vision before use. So I knew that Nina had heard all. The next day I was left all alone. Oh, how long it was! how wearily impatient I became for my kind nurse, my tender friend! The day wore away, and evening came. In the long, tranquil twilight I watched the stars as a sick man will, longing for Nina. She came at last, slowly, feebly, as if very tired, very weary and depressed. For the first time I drew her close to me, her unresisting head down on my bosom, and told her that I loved her better than life, better than fame, better than any human being in the wide, wide world. She was very still; only her soft breath on my cheek, enlist the beating of her heart close to mine told me that she heard. Again I spoke, more intensely, more impatiently, told her all my struggles; my whole heart poured itself out, and still she knelt at my side in silence.

" 'Speak, Nina!' I said; 'only say one word.'

" 'I would die for you—I would die; but I can not live and be yours,' was her only reply. " 'But, Nina, you must. Have I not given up all? am I not willing to resign a claim which the world acknowledges—good birth—?' I was going on when she passionately exclaimed,

" 'I can not bear it—stop! I can not be beneath even you! I have no tame woman's heart; I have the fire of the South burning, leaping in my veins!' She rose quickly, standing beside use in her beautiful indignation, pride and love struggling together as they had done with me. Her words came wildly fast and almost incoherent. She spoke of her white father bitterly, witheringly; of her slave mother with unmixed contempt; of the world in disdain, almost cursing her Creator. She was in a passion of wild grief; of utter, unsubdued anguish. I tried to allay her sorrow, assuring her of my love. Gradually she calmed down; tears came to her relief. She caressed me as if I had been a little child she had unwittingly injured—all harshness, all reproach ceased to issue from her lips. It was like the hushing of a storm, the gentle rain after flashing electricity and gusts of furious wind.

"I recalled my childish lessons, long forgotten—of humility, of a Heavenly Father's love and mercy, spite of seeming disfavor.

"Poor Nina, how quietly she listened!

" It was late when she bade me good-night, but I thought her happier when we parted.

"I do not know how long I had slept when I was wakened by strange outcries, scuffling noises, remonstrance, rough replies, and, as I staggered weakly to the door, a sharp report. Two men rushed quickly past out of the house, leaving all silent within, excepting a low sound which I knew to be Nina's voice. I called, and presently the elder woman came, very much excited and alarmed, saying that the men were slave-catchers in search of Nina, whom, by their going so hastily away, she feared was injured. The boy came also quaking into my room, where they at last brought my poor Nina. She was indeed wounded, mortally—whether by her own hand I could scarcely determine, though I think it must have been in self-defense.

"She opened her beautiful eyes only once upon me, then closed them with the same tired, weary expression I had noticed in the evening. We watched her through the night, but human aid could not avail. She was gone before morning—to where she could not be sold for three thousand dollars!

"Dieu! do you wonder I deserted? Do you wonder I want to live to meet those wretches? Glory has been my dream—now vengeance has its place!"

"Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord," was my answer, as the deserter's grasp tightened. His pale face glowed suddenly, his proud lips quivered, a convulsive smile played over his fine features—the broad band of moonlight still shimmered over the little cot. The soldier had joined the ranks above.


IT had been the stupidest evening. A little singing, a little dancing, and a little talking. Singing! Fancy a great guy of a girl making mouths over that divine song of tender sorrow—"Den lieben langen Tag." Actually roaring it out in a hoarse, strident voice—those mournful, melancholy periods! It makes me shiver to think of it now.

And the dancing! Somebody thrumming on a piano the "Leduc Lancers," in a limping, haphazard kind of manner; and the choicest partner in the room a youth who performed remarkable bows, and said, "Yaas, chawming!"

That youth—I can see him now! He wore his hair parted in the middle, affected the English drawl, and knew the latest fashion before it was an hour old. You wouldn't be likely to have your heart

"Whirled by the whirlings of the waltz, The fine magnetic manliness,"

in dancing with this specimen. No, I should think not.

But the talking! Talking? Twaddle! A graceless gossip, with now and then a suggestion of slander—just a breath of the malaria.

Don't you know how it's done? A mention of some name, ominous silences, uplifting of eyebrows, compression of lips, and the poison is at work as surely as if a Babel of tongues had proclaimed it.

Why do nine-tenths of the women of our day cry out against Mr. Thackeray? Why do they declare his pictures of society are false and cynical? Because nine-tenths of the women recognize how fearfully and wonderfully they are made by these sharp strokes of Mr. Thackeray's pencil; and the likeness frightens and shames them; so they hide their faces, and cry, "It is false!"

They are not brave enough, not honest enough, not simple enough, many of them, to take the truth and let it teach them better manners, better taste, and more Christian charity. They are afraid of themselves, they are afraid of each other, and they are afraid of Mr. Thackeray.

But I am not going to enter into a discussion of this matter now. I only wanted to give you an idea of the social state that evening; and— Well, to go on, as I said, a little singing, a little dancing, and a little talking; and I had tried all three, and found the yield of amusement and satisfaction dry and barren.

I had just finished a waltz with Tommy Meyrun, the little dandy, and was standing in the embrasure of a bay-window, leaning against the lowered sash with a dull, angry, bored feeling, out of patience with myself and all the world, specially little Tommy, when whiff! white violets and fern leaves—that was the odor. And then such a rush of recollections came

Don't you understand that? Perfumes, you know, are associations sometimes. You remember what Holmes says in the Autocrat: "Memory, imagination, old sentiments, and associations are more readily reached through the sense of smell than by almost any other channel."

His specialty was marigolds and the yellow everlasting. Mine was the odor of white violets and young fern leaves.

I think if I were asleep, and any one should place a handful of these on my pillow, that I should either awaken at once with the never-forgotten fragrance thrilling my heart, or else my soul would wander off into a dream—and no dream, perhaps, but a vision, who can tell?—of a spring day long past, when a girl, half a child, a girl not yet fifteen, standing by the brink of a river, lost in her vague sweet fancies, suddenly finds herself covered and crowned by May's fresh dainties—white violets and the feathery plumes of the fern. Shaken down in loose bunches, the delicate sprays and slips settled in her hair, her arms, and dropped into her breast. Before a start of surprise can come, she meets a face smiling at her in the smooth water of the river—a boy's face, arch, mischievous, and manly. And a gay frolic ensues. The flowers serve as missiles, and rain harmlessly about, flung by the vigorous young hands.

That was all. The day went, and years went. The boy goes out into the world, and sees a dozen

faces, fairer to him perhaps, which erases the girl face of that day from his memory, it may be altogether. And the girl, as years flowed on, ceased to think of the boy-lover, or admirer—it was hardly a passion. A score of friends—maybe lovers, maybe admirers—had taken his place. But an odor of white violets and fern leaves breathes up from woods and dells, and straightway the most curious sense of loss and desolation pierces and thrills. A flash, and the picture comes: the spring day, the smooth flowing river, and the young faces meeting there. This was my experience over and over again. This was my experience now, standing there in the window embrasure, leaning against the lowered sash

A curious sense of loss and desolation. That was the oddest part of it. Why should I feel that invariably with the remembrance? No doubt you will think I am very missyish and sentimental when I tell you my fancy about it. If regret was in it, it was not for the time, nor the emotions of the time, but rather for the promise of splendid manhood and the possibilities lying in that promise. Possibilities and realizations which had never— Ah, well! I was standing by the window there, you know, when all this came again with that whiff of violets and fern leaves. But whence came the violets and ferns?

I looked out into the May night. No, never in that trim lawny garden space. I did not think of looking within. Within! Where, drooping in the button-hole of Tommy Meyrun's faultless coat, or withering in the bosom of one of those chattering magpies?

Violets here! So I kept my eyes down and mused. Whiff—again—nearer, sweeter. A shadow between me and the lights beyond. I glanced up.

Marmaduke Evan.

"How do you do, Duke?" and I put my hand out to meet his.

"How do you do, Daphne?"

My name was Margaret, but he had an odd fancy of calling me Daphne. And there in his left hand, swinging idly at his side, hung the fern feathers and a bunch of white violets. He lifted them to view.

"I've been Maying, you see."

"Yes; how lovely!" and I eyed them wistfully. He surveyed my dress a moment, then held out his flowers.

I knew he had a peculiar sense of fitness. What you would call artistic.

"They quite suit you," he said; "will you wear them?"   .

My dress was all white—a vapory muslin with soft puffs of lace half covering the material—and not an ornament nor a suggestion of ribbon.

While I fastened them at my bosom he went on talking about them.

"I have a fancy for this odd combination of tree and flower," he said, musingly. "They have a peculiar charm for me."

I looked up curiously, half disappointedly too, I believe. A sense of invasion, as if it had been my exclusive right and privilege to have associations connected with these odors. But he did not answer the look—he gave no explanation; instead, kept on:

"There must have been a spell upon me to bring these here to-night. You were no doubt waiting for them;" and he smiled half dreamily, half archly, at his own words.

"I know the combination well," I remarked, as I mused over the slender pointed lances, striking against my white dress its pale green blades.

"That is rather odd," he returned, apparently surprised.

"Odd—why?" and I was surprised.

What mutual mystery were we running darkly against through this foliage of flowers.

"Why? Well, it's a singular combination; don't you think so? Violets and ferns?"

"I don't know—is it? How did the fancy come to you?" I questioned.

"Oh, it is a simple accident of association. I had a cousin who was fond of them. A splendid good fellow, always in the woods, and knew every thing about nature. You should have heard him talk. He had multitudes of stories of trees and plants; associations of course followed, and this was one. Yes, a splendid good fellow. I always think of what one of his friends said of him, the only perfect bit of inscription I ever heard applied to such a soul. 'His heart lies so close to Nature that he feels every throb she gives, and se his life has become regulated by her sweet and pure pulsations.' "

"A flower soul," I said.

"Yes, just. Perfectly manly, yet as delicate and sensitive as a woman in his tastes and habits."

A full, sweet breath came wafting up then from the violets, and I thrilled again with my sense of loss.

Perfectly manly, yet as delicate and sensitive as a delicate woman in his habits and tastes. That was what I had lost. That was the possibility of my boy-lover—I like the word "lover" for its earnestness. That was what he might have been if he had lived, I felt sure.

But coming back from the past to the present, I asked:

"And this cousin, where is he now?"

"Where is he? Oh, dead long ago—three years or more."

The extreme regret, the yearning meaning of this, told more than any thing what he was to him —"dead long ago—three years or more." That three years was an age to him; very long indeed in separation. And do you believe actually that I felt bereft too? "Dead, both dead! The type was rare. We shall not be likely to see their like again," I mused over to myself.

I wanted to know more of this cousin but did not care to cross into his shadow again.

There is something about Duke Evan that makes it difficult to follow up a subject when once he gets silent and thoughtful. Not so much the preoccupation stays you as an assertion of reserve, quite unexpected and positive. Unexpected, because




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