Memphis, Tennessee in the Civil War 


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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.



WE devote page 168 to illustrations of MEMPHIS, Tennessee, from sketches taken before the war by our famous artist, Porte Crayon, of Virginia, now an officer in the army of the Union.

Memphis is now the only large city in Tennessee which is not in the hands of Union troops. It stands on an elevated bluff on the left bank of the Mississippi, at the head of ship navigation, 790 miles by the river from New Orleans, and 240 from Cairo. It is the termination of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, and is a place of much business activity, being the distributing point for the produce of West Tennessee. The rebellion has probably ruined it. The following extract from a Cairo letter gives an idea of the state of affairs there at present:

The Memphis papers repeat the old catch-words about fighting till every man, woman, and child is killed, and the impossibility of subjugating the South; but abound in rebukes to the people for their lethargy, and implore them to fly to arms. They denounce with great bitterness citizens of Memphis for refusing to take Confederate money, and at the same time paying a premium of 25 per cent. for "Lincoln Treasury notes;" and one of them adds: "We warn these men to make their pace with their Creator, for this city will never be abandoned with them in it!" Even a year of the reign of terror has not produced "unanimity" in Memphis.


THE Publishers of Harper's Weekly congratulate their readers upon the appearance in this Number of the first part of a new serial tale entitled "NO NAME," by WILKIE COLLINS, Esq., author of "The Woman in White." Its opening gives promise of the same wonderful power and matchless dramatic skill which entranced the readers of "The Woman in White." It is seldom that a periodical is enabled to furnish its subscribers with such a series of attractive tales as have appeared consecutively for the past two years in Harper's Weekly, from the pens of Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and Bulwer. The commencement of this tale affords a good opportunity for parties residing in the country to form clubs, and obtain Harper's Weekly at the reduced price of subscription.

The crisis which the war has reached imparts fresh interest to the war-pictures which are appearing in every number of Harper's Weekly. We have now regular Artist Correspondents, to wit:

MR. A. R. WAUD, with the army of the Potomac;

MR. ALEXANDER SIMPLOT, With Gen. Grant's army;

MR. HENRY MOSLER, with Gen. Buell's army;

MR. THEO. R. DAVIS, with Gen. Sherman's army;

MR. ANGELO WISER, with Gen. Burnside's army;

besides a large number of occasional and volunteer correspondents in the Army and Navy at various points. These gentlemen will furnish us faithful sketches of every battle which takes place, and every other event of interest, which will be reproduced in our pages in the best style. People who do not see Harper's Weekly will have but a limited comprehension of the momentous events which are occurring.

The circulation of Harper's Weekly being now over 120,000 copies each week, it is the best advertising medium in the country.



THE evacuation of Columbus, and the rout of the force lately gathered in Tennessee, render it certain that before the month of March expires the flag of the Union will float triumphantly over the waters of the Mississippi from the Delta to Cairo.

There has been a great deal of blatant talk at the turbulent city of Memphis about burning down houses and "dying on green sods;" but when it comes to stern reality it turns out that each man wants to burn somebody else's house and to leave his own standing; and as to the parties who want to die, they are always the first to run away. There may be another fight at Memphis, and perhaps some skirmishing by the river side; but the heat and burden of the Mississippi campaign are over, and nothing can prevent our gun-boats descending the stream to its mouth whenever they are prepared for the voyage.

Government has already granted permits to trade along the Cumberland and the Tennessee. A similar relaxation of the rule of war will doubtless shortly be granted in reference to the banks of the Mississippi. A few cargoes of groceries and dry goods will very quickly convince the rebels of the fully of further persistence in disloyalty.


THE published correspondence between the Governments of Great Britain and that of the United States, and the speeches of the Foreign Minister of England in Parliament, leave nothing to be desired by the people of this country. With the single exception of the precipitate recognition of the rebels as belligerents on the evening before Mr. Adams arrived in London, the British Government seems to have done nothing and to have said nothing to which legitimate exception can be taken in this country. It would, perhaps, have been more consistent, as well as more politic, for the British to have pronounced at the outset of the contest against the recognition of a power based on the corner-stone of human slavery, and the essential principle of whose system was perpetual and infinitesimal disintegration. But we have no right to complain of this. We had no more right to expect England to denounce our rebels than she had to

expect us to denounce the Irish insurgents of 1848. She has pursued from the start a policy, which, however impolitic in our opinion, has been strictly fair toward the United States according to the law of nations.

How comes it, this being the case, that the tone of the British press has been so uniformly hostile toward this country, and so grossly unjust and malignant?

We must conclude, in the first place, that British journals are not as well informed as journals of equal standing in this country. It is evident that neither the Times, nor the Post, nor the Globe, nor the Herald have been in the secrets of the ruling party in Great Britain. They have falsified the purposes and intentions of their own Government as grossly as they belied ours. The discovery confirms the statement of a recent British writer, who says that, in England, newspapers are despised by the ruling class, and their writers are sometimes suffered to gather the crumbs which fall from great men's tables, but are never permitted to take seats, or to share the confidence of those who do.

How came it that, while the British Government was disposed to act fairly by us, and the interests and honor of the British people were obviously concerned on our side, the British press should have so unanimously taken the part of the rebels?

There are but two possible explanations of this phenomenon. One is, that British newspapers are more accessible to corrupt approaches than leading journals here, and that the rebel envoys expended money freely in the purchase of British journalists. Here, it would be impossible to secure the favor of the leading journals by the use of money. It may be that the rule is different in England, and that the Times, Post, Globe, Herald, Saturday Review, etc., etc., can all be retained by a judicious use of banknotes.

The other explanation of the phenomenon is suggested by the normal misanthropy of the British. Englishmen hate every body in general, and almost always somebody in particular. Their favorite object of hatred and abuse for the past ten years has been the Emperor Napoleon-the best friend England ever had: him they have vilified and misrepresented and traduced with a malignity and a cowardice scarcely credible. Since the rebellion broke out here, we seem to have succeeded the French in the disfavor of the British, and it is possible that the English papers have abused us merely in order to pander to the national taste for vilifying some one, and so maintaining the national character.

Whatever be the secret of the wicked language used by the London journals in reference to this country for the past six or eight months, they have certainly achieved two results: first, they have utterly discredited themselves, and emancipated us from the provincial respect for British opinion which was previously cherished here; and secondly, they have sown seeds of discord which will render it extremely difficult for the leading statesmen of this country to settle the next dispute with England without a war.


ON Monday last the steamer Atlantic sailed from New York for Port Royal with a cargo of clergymen, schoolmasters, and schoolmistresses, Bibles, school-books, agricultural tools, sewing machines, etc. The cargo was destined for the use of some 10,000 persons with black skins, male and female, who are now tenants of the sea-islands occupied by the United States on the coast of South Carolina and Georgia. The expense of it was chiefly borne by a charitable institution lately established at Boston, with branches at New York, etc.; which, we will take leave to say, appears to us to be fully as well entitled to the support of benevolent Christians as any foreign mission in existence.

We take it that this is a GREAT FACT, which all the fine talk of pro and anti slavery orators in and out of Congress can net gainsay or dissolve. Here are over tell thousand persons with black skins, who are living under the protection of the United States flag, and whom we are going to educate—the males to work and manage sea-island plantations of cotton on scientific principles; the females to sew and comprehend domestic economy; both to read, write, cipher, and realize moral and religious obligations. In a short time this colony of ten thousand persons with black skins will be twenty thousand, and by-and-by it will be two hundred thousand. Now it inhabits two or three extremely fertile and happy islands; presently it will monopolize all the outlying islets and will probably encroach on the main land itself. For facts of this kind are of their nature progressive. Civilization and Christianity take no steps backward.

It strikes us that if some of our leading men would be so good as to forget for a while their own importance, and the necessity of keeping themselves constantly before the apple of the American eye, this Port Royal fact would, without their aid, achieve, quietly and noiselessly, without bloodshed, and without rapine or violence, some of the extremely desirable results for which they are so fatiguingly clamorous, and which it is the business of this great war to achieve. If we contribute a small share of our

substance to impart to those unfortunate persons with black skins, who are thrown by the rebellion upon our tender mercy, some portion of the educational and moral advantages which our enlightened laws secure for the meanest of our own people, Providence will probably render them the instrument of effecting a revolution which will change the face of American destiny.

It has been proposed by some well-intentioned but weak-minded people to deport these persons with black skins to various islands or continents very far away indeed. And it has also been proposed by some evil-intentioned but strong-minded people to deport—not the persons with black skins, but other persons with white skins who are in arms against us, and have cost us already more than a thousand dollars apiece, to other continents or islands still further away. It is impossible to say to what straits this Government of ours may by-and-by be reduced. It may go into the transportation business for a living. When it does, these rival propositions will doubtless be fairly considered. Meanwhile, the GREAT FACT at Port Royal stares us in the face, and until some better thing can be suggested, we hope that every body who can spare a dollar will help to send Bibles, and spelling-books, and teachers, and sewing machines, and cotton gins, and other implements of civilization there, for the benefit of these poor persons with black skins whom this atrocious rebellion has thrown upon our hands.



WE are not of those enthusiasts who suppose that the rebellion is to disappear in a night. Its roots are in all the strongest human passions—pride, ignorance, prejudice, interest, and hatred. The rebels are practically united; for there is doubtless much less Union feeling in the Cotton States than there was Toryism in the old colonies at the Revolution. There may not be much practical Terrorism in the rebel section, for there is no need of it. Indeed, the Union feeling of Tennessee and Kentucky is probably half conditional loyalty. In other words, it is not an unreserved acceptance of the Constitution, with the candid intention of abiding by it—but it is a candid intention of abiding by it if it works agreeably to their wishes.

Now one thing is clearly essential in the final settlement of this war—and that is, that the principle of armed rebellion against the result of a constitutional election must be utterly annihilated. Any thing less than that is the absolute triumph of the revolution. If, while they are still in arms, the rebels should say that they will lay them down upon condition that they can have certain guarantees, and those guarantees are given—then, of course, they conquer, and the precedent will be established that a defeated party has only to appear in arms to secure what they want. Any other terms to rebellion than those offered by General Foster at Roanoke and General Grant at Fort Donelson—"immediate and unconditional surrender" —are a betrayal of the Government and the end of civil society.

If when that surrender is made, and the leaders of the bloody and causeless revolt have been dealt with as the national justice may decide, and the ordinary, peaceful operations of life are resumed, a convention should be constitutionally called, and changes in the fundamental law should be constitutionally made, there might be regret, but there could be no complaint of foul play. If no changes should be made, and the convention dissolving, the people should acquiesce in the result, it would be clear that peace had been actually secured.

To say to the rebels that if they will lay down their arms there shall be a convention, and to add that at that convention certain results shall be achieved, is to show to all mankind that our Government is an imbecile sham, and our apparent love of country a lie. Such an act would be national suicide. Whoever advises such a course, if he understands himself, is the worst of traitors; if he does not understand himself, he is a zany.

Conditional loyalty is a "pretty good" egg.


THE fact that the Secretary of War was reported by telegraph to have said something which he did not say, and which was evidently reported, not through inadvertence, but to serve a purpose, naturally excited public concern. The same telegraph presently sent the name of Mr. S. L. M. Barlow, of New York, as the author of the false report. Mr. Barlow denied it immediately; and being accused by the Tribune of secret treasonable sympathies, he published a card in vindication aids loyalty. In that card he quotes from his correspondence with some of the rebel leaders and their advisers, during the winter of 1860-'61, and in that correspondence there is one most remarkable passage.

Mr. Barlow is known in the city as an active politician of the strongest Southern sympathy. He is known beyond the city as one of the few gentlemen who, at the time of the John Brown excitement, hastened, with more party zeal than knowledge, to implicate the great body of their political opponents in the direct responsibility for John Brown's enterprise. They sought especially to implicate Mr. Gerrit Smith in the matter, but upon his prompt summons to them to establish their charge in court they made an ample apology.

Mr. Barlow is further known as one of the gentlemen who, before the last Presidential election, and when the men who are now the rebel leaders openly and solemnly warned the country that they would try to destroy the Government if they did

not succeed at the polls, still supported those leaders in every way, and endeavored to carry the election under a threat of revolution.

Mr. Barlow is also known as one of the gentlemen who entertained Mr. W. H. Russell, LL.D., upon his arrival in this country last winter, and who supplied him with that view of the public sentiment which he depicted in his first letters to the London Times.

Upon the other hand, when it became clear to Mr. Barlow that his political friends at the South were about to do what they had frankly declared they meant to do—but what they would certainly never have attempted but for the position of open sympathy and support in their threats which Mr. Barlow and his friends occupied—then, as appears by the extracts of his correspondence now published, he vainly sought to undo the work he had done. He wrote to the South that armed resistance to the Government would result in a united North. The 13th of April justified his words.

But the remarkable passage in this correspondence which has suggested these observations is as follows: In a letter of the 27th of November, 1860—three weeks after the election—Mr. Barlow wrote to a gentleman then in the Senate, having, as he believed, great weight with the Southern leaders: "What will be agreed to in my judgment is this: a Convention to alter the Constitution, so that the just rights of the South shall be maintained by the Constitution itself, and forever removed from the arena of politics in Congress."

In other words, as the rebel leaders proposed to destroy the Government because they could not constitutionally get what they wanted, therefore the Constitution should be changed to give it to them. Peace was to be secured by the surrender of the Government to a threat of revolution.

Mr. Barlow doubtless spoke for many citizens then, and when opportunity offers he and they will again, of course, be ready for what is called a compromise. The next question therefore is, whether the change of the Constitution, for the absolute immunity of slavery, which they were willing to yield to a threat of revolution, they will be willing to grant to that revolution actually attempted for a year, and shown to be futile and hopeless by its very cry for compromise; or whether, in common with other loyal citizens, they will insist that the Government shall be unconditionally maintained, and this method of appealing from the ballot to the bullet shall be hopelessly and forever defeated?


THE weakness, and sadness, and dispirited querulousness of Davis's inaugural address will have struck every reader. By the side of the brisk impudence and cool falsehood of Mr. Speaker Bocock the inaugural is hopeless and tame. It was not necessary to hear that the day was rainy and that there were no cheers, for the speech is all gloom, and has no cheer in itself. The wretched man spoke more truly than he thought—" The day, the memory, and the purpose seem fitly associated." The day was dark; the memory was of perjury; the purpose was injustice.

The daily papers will have already followed his poor equivocations, his spiritless misrepresentations, with searching eye and scorching finger. But there is one point at which every man will smile. It is his remark, that "This rule of voluntary association, which can not fail to be conservative, by securing just and impartial government at home, does not diminish the security of the obligations by which the Confederate States may be bound to foreign nations. In proof of this, it is to be remembered that at the first moment of asserting their right of secession, these States proposed a settlement on the basis of a common liability for the obligations of the General Government."

But if every State secedes from the confederacy, who pays the debts of the confederacy? And if, being purely voluntary, you can not coerce a State to fulfill its joint obligations, what security has the creditor?

This ghastly delusion of secession at last stands fully exposed. It is simply a loud way of asserting the right of every man to do as he chooses. There is no reason why the people of Berkshire County, beyond the Connecticut and among the hills, should not secede from Eastern Massachusetts because of high taxes, or for any other reason they choose to allege; and no reason why every town should not secede from every other, as fast as it wishes to, if this futile dogma could be seriously entertained. It is the end of civil society, and the lapse into barbarism.

Yet in our system secession is no less a dangerous disease than scarlet fever in the human system. Like that, it will linger and linger. The poison will be slowly eradicated, and the patient will suffer long and sadly. Because our arms are at length beginning to win the victory of which we have always been sure—because the anaconda begins now to contract his folds—we are not to suppose that all is over, and that peace will return with summer. When the sea has been heaved by a storms so fierce as this, the waters will long toss and roar. We have shown and are showing our patriotism by our valor; we have hereafter to show it by our patience. To rout the enemy of our national peace finally and thoroughly, the nation has yet to wait longer than the army on the Potomac has waited.


IN his inaugural address, the saddest speech of the times, Jefferson Davis, with more circumlocution than Stephens, declares that the rebellion was undertaken to save slavery. Stephens says frankly its object is a system of government and society of which slavery shall be the corner-stone. Davis, more mealy-mouthed, says,

"The people of the States now confederated * * * * believed that to remain longer in the Union would subject them to the continuance of a disparaging discrimination, submission to which would (Next Page)




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