Burnside Expedition


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, March 15, 1862

You are viewing part of our extensive online collection of Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers. Harper's Weekly was the most popular newspaper during the Civil War, and all these issues are available for your study and research on this site.

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Ft. Donelson

Battle of Ft. Donelson


Description of Memphis in  Civil War

Jefferson Davis Message

Jefferson Davis Message

General Lander

General Lander

Fort Donelson

Fight at Fort Donelson

Virginia Map

Virginia Civil War Map


Savannah, Georgia

Attack on Fort Donelson

Attack on Fort Donelson


Memphis, Tennessee

Burnside Expedition

Burnside Expedition

Elizabeth City

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Rebel Cartoon

Rebel Cartoon



MARCH 15, 1862.]



When she recovered herself somewhat, Kitty began her talk.

'What was the matter, Hope? Was the room too warm?" Slowly Hope met her eyes, and bravely answered,

"I thought he was dead, Kitty. That was why your sudden information overcame me." Kitty Mills was more amazed than she cared to own. She could understand evasion, but this simple courage of acknowledgment was quite beyond her.

But Hope loses all thought but one. He is living: he loves her: the long agony is forgotten.

Early the next morning, at a very unfashionable hour, Major Thornly, in obedience to the brief summons he has received, enters Miss Bayne's presence.

As he bends over her hand, reverent yet ardent, warm lips brush his cheek. It is a welcome he had not dared to dream of. He turns her face to his.

"Hope, is it so—do you love me?"

She tells him all the sad, sad story; never sparing herself from first to last. In it the wealth of her heart is clearly apparent. He no longer questions her love. His generous soul only regretted her suffering.

"I was afraid you had received that letter," he said; "but I was not sure, for Lieutenant Hayes, who had charge of my papers, immediately left for the North, and I have never seen him since the engagement. He supposed, undoubtedly, not hearing of me at once, that I was dead; and indeed, Hope, I thought I was very near death myself when I fell with my horse in that last charge. But I was only stunned and wounded, and managed to escape in spite of it. But, Hope, the most marvelous part of the story is yet untold." He drew from his breast a pair of mittens—brown mittens, with Magenta gauntlets. How well she remembered them, and shuddered as she remembered!

"Nay, do not tremble, Hope; these mittens saved my life." He unfolded them, and showed a pressure, round and even, with the threads broken and worn in its centre." The ball which made this glanced off and lodged in my belt. If it had entered where it struck I should not be here, for it was just against my heart. The actual wound which I received was in my left shoulder, and was neither deep nor dangerous."

Briefly he went over his thoughts and emotions on the eve of the battle. The tears flowed down her cheeks as he added,

"God's providence guided me, Hope, I earnestly believe. He could have chosen no dearer instrument than you."

If Kitty Mills was amazed at this denouement, she kept it carefully to herself; but Will wickedly declares that she is outwitted for once; and his sly allusions, as they sit over their cups at breakfast, produce the inevitable result—he kicks the table-legs and quarrels with Kitty.


IT is rather difficult to obtain access to the catacombs of Paris, simply, I believe, because the Government consider that it is morbid and valueless curiosity which induces people to desire to visit such a spot; but there is an impression, more or less prevalent in the French provinces, that the reason why so many difficulties are thrown in the way of paying a visit to these gigantic galleries is owing to the fact that there is an entry into this underground world from the palace of the Tuileries. The provincials reverently believe that the reigning potentate, whether king or emperor, is afraid of assassins being able to penetrate into the palace by this entry if the catacombs become publicly known, and their intricacies made comprehensible. Say to any one of these provincials that the case would be met by blocking up this palatial entrance to the vaults, and you will get in return a violent shake of the head. "No, no," your countryman will answer; "if majesty is afraid of assassins entering from the catacombs, remember the catacombs would give a means of escaping if assassins, in the shape of rebels, entered at the open gate. No, no—they'll not block up the palace entrance to the catacombs. No, no!"

Let this be as it may, it is certain that I and a party of four, exclusive of the guide, obtained permission to visit underground Paris. And it is worthy of remark, as illustrating upon what small hinges serious events turn, that if I had not said the following words to the cabman who took me to the entrance, I should never have had to endure what I am about to describe. These words were: "If I do not return in half an hour, drive off." So saying, I paid the man in advance for waiting, and followed my party to the entrance-door, which was of heavy wood.

My reason for retaining the cabman was this: I had been waiting some days for the official permission to visit the catacombs, and on the very morning when it arrived I was preparing to start for London upon business of moment. Now the train started at twelve, and the written permit arrived at ten. I was undesirous of losing the opportunity for my underground exploration, and I was desirous of starting by the twelve o'clock train. I therefore came to the conclusion that if half an hour in the catacombs (from eleven to half past) would satisfy me, I could then catch the train by twelve if I had a cab ready: whereas if I found the exploration sufficiently attractive to occupy more time, I would then defer my departure until the evening.

I found the catacombs extraordinary, but monotonous. Every body knows that they were originally the stone mines which supplied the building material of Paris; in fact, it has been aptly said that Paris has been built of her own entrails. Let there be the least volcanic shock below Paris-she lies in a volcanic line—and her stupendous palaces, her whole being, would be swallowed in the tomb she herself has excavated.

At the beginning of this century Napoleon decreed

extra-mural interment, and all the grave-yards within the walls of Paris were broken up and built over. The bones of centuries were moved into the catacombs. Millions of the bones of dead French were carried thither, and fantastically arranged. The visitor passes between two walls of skulls, which all seem to stare at him with a ghastly blind stare.

Ten minutes were quite enough to satisfy my curiosity; but our guide, true to his trade, kept on making the widest promises of coming wonders, and, as a couple of my party were ladies, I need not add that the party's curiosity was stimulated by the assertions of our leader.

We each carried a little lamp, and we looked an odd group.

"Well," said I, at last, "I really think I will leave you to your promenade. I can find my way back, I feel sure, and I have yet time to catch the train."

The guide laughed at the idea of my finding my way back to the entrance. I looked at my watch. It wanted ten minutes to the half hour; if I did not go back at once, the cab would be gone.

We had passed many transverse passages in our way; indeed, the catacombs, as I saw them, seemed a wide street, intersected at regular intervals by smaller streets, and courts, and alleys. I was the last of my party, and perhaps, reluctant as I felt to go on, I lagged behind. At all events, I was looking about me from one side to the other, when, as the lamp of my companions crossed one of the transverse cuttings, I noticed, a few steps along this passage, an immense skull, in which all the teeth were singularly perfect, white, and gleaming. I turned into the passage, meaning to inspect this skull more narrowly, when, as I moved my head toward it, a horrible rat, frightened at my presence, leaped, in its fright, against my cheek. I fell as though I had been shot. We all have antipathies, more or less, and my antipathy is rats. I abhor them. I am almost ashamed to say it, but the shock of the sudden appearance and touch of that rat caused me to faint. I must have lost my senses for many minutes.

When I knew myself again I was utterly in the dark. The blackness seemed absolutely to hit me. I heard not a sound at first; then a rumbling; it was a passing carriage rolling above my horrible tomb. For a few moments, I think, I lost my consciousness once more. I am not sure, however, on this point. Having again recovered it, I endeavored to grasp the full truth of my position.

My friends were not near me, that was certain. Now, had they left the catacombs, or were they searching for me? That they discovered they had lost me, almost immediately after I had fainted, seemed to me certain. Then how was it they had left the spot near which they had last seen me? It was certain that, in looking for me, they would take the line we had traversed. Then why had they not found me? Suddenly the awful truth flashed upon me. They had thought, after calling to me many times and receiving no answer, that I had tried to make my way to the entrance. When they reached it the half hour was ended, and, the driver being gone, they had believed him to have taken me away, and so supposed me on my road to England.

It was a terrible knowledge to gain, but I did not utterly despair. I felt sure that the alarm would be taken before I had been long enough in my living tomb to die of starvation. But to pass even four or five days underground, without food or water, in a darkness which was positively maddening-

I could not remain inactive; I must do something. What could I do?

My first question was, should I remain where I lay? In the first place, such inaction would kill me; in the second, it was needless; for, as when the alarm should be taken, every inch of this subterranean world would be searched till I should be found, it mattered not whither I might have wandered—I should be equally safe any where.

I got up, stretched my hand, and touched the wall of skulls. I shrank to the ground again. A few moments, and I conquered my cowardice. I declare to you that within a few moments, and purely by dint of gravely and kindly reasoning with myself, I was able to touch the dead about me with absolute calmness; nay, I could run my hand over the shape of the skull with a kind of curiosity.

My lamp was shivered into a thousand pieces. I can not tell to this day how it was my companions did not hear the crash. I can only suppose that a carriage was rumbling along the road overhead when I fell.

Suddenly I thought of the rat. If the horrible thing came toward me, what should I do? The thought was parent to the belief that the execrable thing was there. I struck out instinctively, and, my hand coming upon some of the broken glass of the lamp, it was cut, and I felt blood flowing from the wounds. I bound my handkerchief, my gloves, my cravat, round and round the wounds, rather than a drop of my life's blood should fall, to become food for the horrible creature that had brought me to this pass.

But I felt I must move—I must seek to free myself while help was coming. Which way should I turn?

I remembered that I had entered the passage on my right, and that the skull was on the left; then, to leave it, in order to reach the road by which we had come, I must let it be on my right hand, and when I had reached the road I must turn to the left. I soon discovered the inordinately large skull, left it on my right, and groped my way the few steps to the roadway. I knew when I reached it by the angle of bones. Immediately my highly-pitched senses perceived a change. My right cheek experienced an increase of temperature. Mind—my right cheek.

I asked myself to what this change could be attributable? I soon answered myself. It was a current of air from the outer world. Now, thought I, this current of air—for current it was, though I

could detect no movement in the atmosphere—must come from an opening; that opening must be at or near a door ; then, if I follow up against this current, I shall ultimately reach the spot at which it enters.

Next moment I know I must have turned pale, for when I turned full face toward the current I could detect no difference of temperature. It required a contrast between the two cheeks, as it were, to ascertain the difference. I have since been told by a scientific friend that this can be accounted for. The nerves of the face, when I stood sideways, were struck by the current laterally, and therefore not so naturally as when the face was set toward it; because, as all the provisions of nature exhibit preservation of forces, the nerves of the face, in meeting the wind, naturally—that is, when the man is walking—are so placed in relation to the wind as to offer the least possible amount of nervous surface to its influence.

As suddenly as I had been struck with the cause of the current I obtained another means of ascertaining my way. I turned to the wall of skulls which flanked the main road, and against which my right hand still was. Now I thought that side of each skull which receives the warm current, precisely as my face received it, will, from its action, be drier than the other side, which has been infinitely less open to the influence of the comparatively drying influence of this external atmosphere.

It was as I thought. The right side of the skull —that is, the side which was right when I stood with my back to the wall—was smoother than the left; so it was with twenty other skulls. I was not in error, and my heart beat wildly. It was clear, let me follow this clew, and sooner or later it must lead me to the entrance.

But there was a fault!

I knew that we had come along the road which lay to my left; the current blew from the right. One of two causes accounted for this. Either I had become confused in my memory of the locality, and the right was my road, or there was more than one entrance to these vaults. I decided to move to the right. I never learned afterward how many miles I really did travel; to me it seemed hundreds. I went on and on—sometimes rapidly, sometimes slowly, but always surely. I knew that sooner or later I must come to a door. When I came to one of the transverse cuttings, of course I had to make several steps at random. The duration of those steps seemed years. My fingers trembled with agony until they touched once more the reassuring line of skulls. Sometimes I missed the clew both of the drier side of the skull and the test of heat on my face by turning it sideways, but I soon regained it by continuing on. I suppose that at those times I was skirting curves. How many hours I spent in that wondrous walk, that logical deduction, if so I may call it, I only knew when I was once more in the open air. If I had sat down and waited for help I should either have gone mad or idiotic, or have killed myself. Depend on it, reader, no matter how bad your condition, in whatever fix you may be placed, there is no help like your own.

I used to hear—I am speaking of my incarceration as though it lasted months—I used to hear the rumbling of the carriages overhead more or less distinctly, according to the depth of the stone above me. Yet it was company. That was the only noise which broke my silence.

Reverting to that current once more, it was astonishing how easily I learned its growing force, for I concentrated my whole mind upon the lesson. Ultimately, I could almost calculate the increase in its motion and temperature which so many hundred steps would yield. At last, suddenly, without any warning, the line of skulls ceased, and I touched WOOD!

It was a door of open lattice-work.

All looked dark beyond! But I knew I was at the exit. I had known that for many thousands of steps—many; and yet, when I touched the door, how I started!

What a celestial glory the day had as it broke upon my eyes, streaming in exquisite blue rays through the chinks of the outer door, which was beyond the lattice-work! I have no occasion to tell how I broke that lattice-work, how I hammered at the outer door, how I was at last released in the presence of half a dozen gens d'armes (who had drawn their swords), and of a score of wondering workmen.

This was not the gate by which I had entered. If I had been immured forty-two hours (as they told me), I had passed two nights in the catacombs, and all that time I had never once sat down.

I found my friends in a great fright. They had only just learned, by telegraph, that I had not reached England, and that nobody in London knew any thing about me. I was ill for some time, of course; but I recovered to claim the distinction of having touched more skulls than any other man living.


WE devote page 172 to illustrations of EDENTON, ELIZABETH CITY, etc., and other scenes in the progress of the Burnside Expedition, chiefly from sketches by our correspondent, Mr. Angelo Wiser.

Edenton was occupied by Lieutenant Maury, of our gun-boat service, on 12th ult.

Elizabeth City, where General Burnside has exchanged prisoners with the rebels, is the capital of Pasquotank County, North Carolina, on the right bank of the Pasquotank River, about 20 miles from its mouth. It is 225 miles from Raleigh, and 50 south of Norfolk, Virginia. It is one of the most considerable towns in the northeastern part of the State. The population was about 3000, and it contained two banks, two or three printing-offices, and several churches. There was a large amount of Government stores in the place, which were destroyed by the rebels on the appearance of our gun-boats. It was at Elizabeth City that Commander Rowan met and destroyed the enemy's fleet in Albemarle Sound.


Mississippi River Map




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