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Civil War Harper's Weekly, June 7, 1862

You are viewing part of our online archive of Harper's Weekly newspapers which were published during the Civil War. This archive serves as an invaluable tool for the serious student of the Civil War, or professional researcher. These newspapers are an incredible source of first edition reports on the war.

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General Stoneman

General Stoneman

Louisiana Tigers

Louisiana Tigers

Run Away Slave

Runaway Slave

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Corinth, Mississippi

Stoneman Biography

General Stoneman Biography

Jefferson Davis Coachman

Jefferson Davis's Coachman

William Jackson

William Jackson

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A Woman's Beauty

Army in the Southwest

Army in the Southwest

Hospital

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Cumberland, Virginia

Secesh

Secesh Cartoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[JUNE 7, 1862.

354

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

SATURDAY, JUNE 7, 1862.
THE RETREAT OF BANKS.

THERE is undoubtedly something humiliating in reading in the newspapers that in the month of May, 1862, thirteen months after the attack on Sumter, after the North has poured out men and money with unprecedented lavishness, it has again become necessary to call out the State militia to defend the capital. Nor is it agreeable to reflect that the rich valley of the Shenandoah, out of which General Banks had cleared the rebels by a series of brilliant manoeuvres, and where we were slowly developing a healthy Union sentiment, has again been surrendered to the rebels, who will doubtless re-enact in that populous region all the atrocities of Jacksonville. These are unquestionably very painful reflections.

It must be said, however, in justification of the military policy which dictated the transfer of three-fourths of Banks's army to McDowell, that the President, by whose orders the transfer was made, was far better able to judge of the necessity for the step than the public can be. If he had reason to believe that the rebel army in Virginia contemplated an attack upon McDowell, it would have been criminal negligence to have run the risk of a defeat at Falmouth, which would have left the road to Alexandria open to the enemy. Painful as it is to lose the Shenandoah Valley, it would have been far. more painful, more humiliating, nay, almost fatal, to have had Johnston suddenly loom up with an army flushed with victory on the bank of the Potomac, opposite the White House.

The fears which are entertained by Governor Andrew, of Massachusetts, and other persons for the safety of Washington, under present circumstances, are wholly gratuitous. The rebels do not intend to invade Maryland. If any cross the Potomac, they will do so with the intention of laying down their arms, for they know that they could never return except as released prisoners of war. That some of the leaders of the rebellion are ready for any thing desperate can readily be believed, but they are not quite insane enough to run their necks deliberately and hopelessly into a noose.

The object of the Government in calling out the militia is, doubtless, to liberate the 20,000 troops now under Wadsworth at Washington, for the purpose of reinforcing Banks and Fremont. If the step shortens the contest by a few days, it will pay.

REBEL COWARDICE.

THE Legislature of Virginia have solemnly resolved to defend their capital. Governor Letcher and "President" Davis have echoed the resolve, and have called every able-bodied man into the field to carry it into practical effect. Yet we risk little in predicting that by the time this paper reaches our readers Richmond will be in possession of General McClellan.

The one great quality which the rebels have developed in this war is COWARDICE. It has sometimes been moral, and sometimes been physical; it has been shown in Convention, and it has been seen on the battle-field; it has been noticed in the leaders and illustrated by the rank and file. Whatever else the rebels, and especially those in Virginia, may have been, they have undoubtedly been cowards.

Little more than a year ago the writer of these lines met, by appointment, at the room of Mr. Boteler (then a Member of Congress from Virginia, now an officer in the rebel army), at Washington, about a dozen members of the Virginia State Convention and one or two of the Virginia delegation in Congress. His object in seeking a meeting with these gentlemen was to ascertain the prospect of the secession of Virginia. Mr. (now Major-General) Banks had predicted in writing that Virginia would secede. The prophecy, coming from so high a source, was regarded with attention; and parties who had large interests in Virginia, who owned Virginia bonds and had large sums at stake in the State, felt some anxiety on the point. The writer of these lines stated as much to the Virginians who had assembled in Mr. Boteler's room. They one and all declared that there was no chance whatever of the secession of their State. They said that there were secessionists in Virginia, such as Ruffin and Pryor, but that the Union men were in a large majority in the Convention, and that they would hold their own. A cousin of Senator Mason, himself a member of the Convention, criticised severely the tendencies of his cousin, the Senator, and declared that the Old Dominion would be loyal in any event. Another leading member of the Convention remarked that "Virginia couldn't be dragged or kicked out of the Union."

Within a very few days after this interview Virginia seceded, by ordinance of the very State Convention in which the Union men had so large a majority, and the seizure of Norfolk and Harper's Ferry followed at once.

The records prove that the gentlemen who vouched for the loyalty of Virginia in March, 1861, did not misrepresent the facts. There was a large Union majority in the State Convention, and the sentiment of the State was emphatically against secession. As a people, the Virginians were decidedly opposed to being dragged at the tail of South Carolina into a wild revolutionary enterprise.

The secret of the sudden somersault of the Convention, and the remarkable acquiescence of the people in their decision was simply cowardice. It was the coercion of the Richmond mob, led on by crazy ruffians like Pryor and his fellows, which caused the Convention to pass the Act of Secession. The Union men had not courage enough to stand by their principles. There was not nerve enough in Virginia to withstand the brawling and the threats of a few hundred desperadoes. Whether the race had deteriorated like the soil, whether the business of slave-breeding had corroded the manly instincts of the people, or whatever the cause was, the fact was palpable—theVirginian people, in April, 1861, had not courage enough to stand by their flag, and basely surrendered to a handful of miscreants whom they might and should have hanged on the first tree.

They have had their reward. Virginia has learned by this time that courage, like honesty, is generally the best policy.

ABOUT FINISHED.

GENERAL McCLELLAN telegraphs that the "Fourth Michigan have about finished the Louisiana Tigers." We fancy we shall have some more dispatches of this tenor.

These Southern bravoes, who call themselves "Tigers," and "Lions," and "Grave-diggers," and "Yankee-slayers;" who carry black flags, and refuse quarter to unarmed men; who dig up the corpses of our dead soldiers, and send their bones home to their lady loves as trophies—these creatures, who are a speaking illustration of the brutalizing effect of the institutions among which they have been reared, and whose savage instincts would appall the most ferocious native of Dahomey or Patagonia—these fellows can never withstand the onset of a Christian soldiery. They are capable. of assassinating a Union man, or of whipping a black woman to death; but when it comes to standing up in a fair fight against Northern men, in any thing like equal numbers, they run like hares. Brutality and manhood can no more coexist in the same individual than oil and water can mingle.

We are not sorry to hear that the "Louisiana Tigers" are "about finished." It is about time that some other of these Southern regiments, which have desolated the South and done their best to destroy the nation, were "about finished" too. A gentleman from Tennessee reports that in certain neighborhoods the rebel soldiers have not only destroyed crops and fences, but have wantonly torn down houses and barns, burned every thing that would burn, and so thoroughly obliterated every vestige of improvement from the land, that the wretched owners who are now returning to their homes, under cover of our flag, experience some difficulty in discovering whereabouts their houses stood. Others tell still more fearful stories of outrages—outrages nameless and horrible; of whole districts in which not a woman or a girl has escaped the fiendish brutality of the Texans and Louisianians. It is about time, in the name of God and humanity, that the authors of these atrocities should be "finished."

THE LOUNGER.

THE PRESIDENT.

WHEN President Lincoln left his home in Illinois to go to Washington, he said to his neighbors that he was about to undertake a harder task than any President had encountered since Washington. History will add that he disposed of it with a wisdom and moderation unequaled since Washington.

Recent events have brought into strong relief one peculiar aspect of the difficulties of his position. Mr. Lincoln was elected, as all our Presidents are, as the representative of certain views—namely, the constitutional limitation of slavery. Immediately upon his election a part of the defeated party, living in a certain section of the country, rose in arms and awaited the assistance of their fellow-partisans in other parts of the country. But those friends were political allies under the Constitution, not military allies to overthrow it, and with men of all parties they rallied directly to the defense of the Government. Of course their views upon slavery, and its limitation, and the proper method of dealing with it, may have been changed by the revelations and suggestions of the rebellion, or they may have remained the same. But as to the duty of maintaining the Government they were entirely of accord with the party that had elected the President.

Meanwhile the Abolitionists, a body who have conducted the anti-slavery movement upon moral grounds merely, and who had utterly repudiated political action of every kind, appeared as strong Union men, supporting the Government. Their reason was, that slavery having provoked a war might justly be smitten by military law. The case seemed to them as simple as could be, and they stated it with all their eloquence and fervor.

Many, also, who were not in the technical and historic sense Abolitionists, thought at heart the same thing: "This is the time to hit slavery and make an end of it."

The duty of the President was perfectly plain. Clothed by the Constitution with the authority to invoke military power, and made by it Commander-in-Chief, he was to use that power and every thing which goes with it, to secure by arms, and by every means by which he could weaken the enemy, cutting off their supplies and starving them included, to force them to abandon their assault upon the existence of the Government and the peace and integrity of the nation. If it were necessary to that end that a city or ten cities should be bombarded and left in ashes, that the lives of a thousand or ten thousand revolted citizens should be taken by shot and shell as they were taking those of loyal men, that obstructions should be placed in harbors, that buildings should be destroyed and fields wasted, that grain and animals should be seized, and slaves compelled to work and fight against the Government should be released from all obligation to their masters, then these things, God and mankind being his witness for the purity of his intentions and his strict obedience to the conditions necessary to save civil society from worse woes than these, the President was constitutionally empowered and bound to do.

If still the rebellion raged, and there were four million of enslaved persons who were within the enemy's lines, who were at heart our friends, and whom no crime but the most pitiful misfortune had thrown into slavery, after due warning that every means at repression would be tried, and this alone remained, the President was constitutionally bound and empowered by the authority that enabled him to appeal to war, to summon these men to strike with all the rest for the Government—and that he might do so, to declare them their own masters.

To every man who knew, as every one does who knows the history of this rebellion, that it was the logical and inevitable result of slavery, this measure was almost as important as the restoration of the Government, because to suppress the conspiracy and leave the cause untouched was merely to knock the blossoms off a tree. But the President's duty was to bear steadily in mind that the object of the war was not emancipation; that the very fact of his being President showed that the constitutional majority of his fellow-citizens believed the slavery question could be settled otherwise than by arms. He was to bear in mind that all laws, state and national, were wisely suspended by war only so far as was absolutely necessary; that there was little real sympathy for the slaves; that it was essential to maintain a resistance to secession in the Border Slave States; that the very pivot of our system was the harmony of state and national rights; that the legality of slavery was purely local, and that it could be touched by the military hand only from clear military necessity, while to strike it before the nation felt that it was a necessity would imperil not only the Government and the emancipation of slaves, but the liberty of every man and the hope of civil society upon this continent.

He has not failed. He has never for a moment forgotten or obscured the issue. Believing, as he doubtless does, that slavery began the war, and that the war will end slavery, he sees that in the conduct of the war itself the treatment of slavery is but an episode, like every other means of reducing the rebellion; and if he strikes it at last it will be because he is convinced, not that slavery can not be destroyed, but that the nation is persuaded that the war can not be ended without it.

And whether the war can be ended or not without ending slavery, the President undoubtedly knows, for he is peculiarly a man of common sense, that there will be no permanent peace in this country until slavery is in clear course of extinction. If statesmanship be enlightened common sense applied to the management of public affairs, William Pitt was not a greater statesman than Abraham Lincoln.

FOREIGN WAR.

THIS Government is suppressing the armed effort of a faction to overthrow it. Any terms short of absolute surrender of the insurgents are therefore the victory of the rebellion. Intervention means either the proposing of conditions, which is a proposition to the Government to acknowledge itself overthrown; or it means forcible assistance of the rebels, which is war and not intervention.

Consequently the question to ask is not whether ally foreign power is likely to intervene in our difficulty, but what will any such power gain by making war upon the United States? Obviously a second-rate nation is less to be feared by a great state than an equal power, but if the equal power is distant and friendly, and the two are related by a mutually advantageous commerce, the abstraction that a state is a rival is not a sufficient provocative to the risks of war.

Or what commercial advantage is gained by a war? A year ago we said in this column what every man of sense saw, that the rebellion would teach England and every country that looked to us for cotton how uncertain the supply must be which depended upon forced labor. The London Times says on the 3d of May: "We do wish to liberate ourselves from dependence on a single slaveholdirg country for the staple material of our manufactures." Now if England passes this year without her usual supply from this country she has passed the critical point. But how is she to be more surely supplied this year by making war? We shall have every cotton port defended by iron ships. How soon is England likely to feed starving Lancashire if she makes war for cotton under those conditions?

If political jealousy and industrial necessity do not drive any foreign state to declare war against us, what inducement can the rebels offer to those states to run the risk? The great and only offer they can make is free trade. But is the trade of the Slave States more valuable to either England or France than that of the Free States? Mr. Yancey

is said to have made this proposition of free trade to M. Thouvenel. "But we shall take more cotton," said the minister, "than you take silks; how shall we pay you?" "The laws of trade must have their course," replied the astute Yancey, "and you can send us the specie." "Tiens!" answered the minister, "that is not our way of doing business. Besides, I am told, Monsieur, that in the Northern States the domestics wear silk dresses, and parasols, and bonnets; but I learn that the domestics of the South do not wear silk. Have you any other advantage to mention?"

Se non e vero, e ben trovato. It is well invented, certainly, and when we remember that the amiable Yancey (who, Parson Brownlow told us, was, in other and happier days, pardoned out of the South Carolina state-prison, where be had been placed for murdering his uncle) returned to New Orleans and told his anxious fellow-conspirators and their dupes that cotton was not king, we may be very sure that he has relinquished all hope of foreign aid.

If any foreign state declares hostilities against the United States, it opens the tragedy of universal war, and the most timid may be very sure that John Bull and Johnny Crapeau will both look very sharply at what they are likely to lose as well as to win in the event of a general shaking up of nations.

NEWS CENSORSHIP.

WHEN Mr. Stanton was called to the War Department his first official act, the issue of a congratulatory address to the army at Mill Spring, was hailed almost like a victory. At last, cried all the papers, we have energy and intelligence in the War Office. With every order and proclamation the applause increased until the famous letter which attributed victory to the spirit of the Lord rather than to well-served artillery. But when this was presently followed by the regulation regarding the publication of war news, the papers changed their tone, and the energy and intelligence of the Secretary of War are praised no longer.

Yet there can be no question of the wisdom of such an order. The present writer is a newspaper writer, and he may therefore say that, in the first place, newspaper correspondents at the seat of war are good fellows, but they are not such discreet gentlemen that they are sure to say only what they should say; and, in the second place, it is an immense relief to the country to know that all the news which it receives from the armies in the field is not inference, nor surmise, nor rumor, but settled fact. And the order is fully justified by this security.

So with General Halleck's order excluding correspondents from his lines—it is, and must be, and ought to be within his discretion. For it should be constantly understood that when we go to war we accept the conditions of war; and absolute free discussion and publication of every subject are incompatible with it. They belong to a civilization which has generally outgrown war; and when it is forced to recur to it, it is equally compelled to abridge those liberties.

Since the Government has taken the telegraph for war news into its own hands, the papers, in that department at least, have become newspapers. In other departments we are still at the mercy of as many wild speculations as there are correspondents; and every morning every question is telegraphed as settled or to be settled in exactly different ways. And no skillful reader of newspapers thinks of believing any thing he sees until there is some kind of authorized statement. He knows, for instance, that the Times will always put the most resolutely cheerful aspect upon every event or rumor; he knows that the Herald will always declare that "the radicals," meaning those who think that slavery is neither good principle nor policy, are trying to aid Jeff Davis; and that the Tribune will always speak very coolly of General McClellan.

Yet we all know now, that when any of those papers mention a fact from the seat of war it is a fact. Nobody doubted that the Monitor had beaten back the Merrimac, or that Yorktown was evacuated; and if at any moment the authorized news comes that Richmond has fallen, we shah not wonder if it be really so. Meanwhile the "rumor in town" that it has fallen is entirely unimportant.

And what harm has this supervision of military news done?

Correspondents are allowed to write what they please afterward. Ought they, or we, or the editors to complain if they are not permitted to mention the number of troops, the artillery force, the route to be pursued, and the intentions of the campaign? To say that the enemy knows all about it, whether we print it or not, is utter folly, for it begs the question. Do we know all about the rebel force and plan? Did we know exactly the dimensions and armament and arrangement of the Merrimac? Would J. Davis not have been a greater fool than we believe him to be if he had allowed the Norfolk Day-Book to print all such details? Did he not, doubtlessly, and wisely, say, "the enemy may find out if they can, I certainly shall not tell them?"

If the Secretary of War shall have no more serious sin to answer for than supervising the transmission of military news he will be a fortunate man.

HEROISM.

ONE of the bravest acts of the war was recently reported from Hilton head. Eight contrabands brought out the rebel steamer Planter from Charleston harbor. Commander Parrott has the indiscretion to call the chattel who commanded her "a very intelligent contraband." The vessel had one 32-pounder and one 24-pound howitzer, and had on board four large guns which she was transporting. "At four in the morning," says Commodore Dupont in his report, "in the absence of the Captain, who was on shore, she left her wharf, close to the Government office and head-quarters, with the Palmetto and Confederate flags flying, passed the (Next Page)


 

 

  

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