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Civil War Harper's Weekly, May 17, 1862

This site features the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. This research resource will yield new insights into 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)


Rebel Soldiers

Rebel Soldiers



New Orleans

Surrender of New Orleans

David Farragut

David Farragut

Virginia Map

Map of Virginia

Faragut's Fleet

Farragut's Fleet

Fort Macon

Capture of Fort Macon

Belle Reynolds

Belle Reynolds

Cavalry Charge

Cavalry Charge

Fort Macon

Battle of Fort Macon

Farragut's Ships

Commodore Farragut's Ships

Secession Cartoon

Secession Cartoon





[MAY 17, 1862.



ON page 309 we publish a portrait of GEORGE PEABODY, the leading American banker in London, who has just given $750,000 to the London poor. Mr. Peabody is a native of Danvers, Massachusetts, and about seventy years of age. In early life he entered a merchant's office, and at twenty-one became a partner in a leading house at Baltimore. There he remained, winning respect and fortune, until 1836, when he removed to England and set up a banking-office in London. His business has been extremely successful, and he now retires with a fortune which is estimated at millions.

Mr. Peabody, who is a bachelor, has frequently made large donations to places where he has been known. He gave $50,000 to Danvers for a Lyceum and Library, and a very large sum for a similar institution at Baltimore. His donation to the London poor is the most munificent gift ever made by a private individual to a public charity.


MRS. MAJOR BELLE REYNOLDS, whose portrait we publish on page 317, from a photograph by Cole, of Peoria, Illinois, is the wife of Lieutenant Reynolds, of Company A, Seventeenth Regiment Illinois troops, and daughter of K. W. Macumber, Esq. Her native place is Shelbourne Falls, Massachusetts. The Seventeenth, to which her husband belongs; is one of the most popular regiments in our Western army, being one of the earliest in the field, and during the whole war have been in active service. They met the enemy in a terrible encounter, and vanquished him, at Frederickstown, Missouri. They early took possession of Cape Girardeau; they also bore a prominent part, and were terribly cut up at the battle of Fort Donelson, and were in the thickest of the fight at the battle of Shiloh (or Pittsburg Landing). In these last two battles Lieutenant Reynolds was Acting-Adjutant. During the greater part of the campaign Mrs. Reynolds has shared with her husband a soldier's fare in camp; many a night, while on long marches, sleeping upon the ground in the open air, with no covering other than her blanket, and frequently drenched with rain; and ofttimes, to the order "Fall in," she has hurriedly mounted her horse in the darkness of the night, and made long marches without rest or food except such as she might have had with her. She has at all times exhibited a degree of heroism that has endeared her to the brave soldiers of the Seventeenth and other regiments that have been associated with them, and to the officers of the army with whom she is acquainted.

Governor Yates, of Illinois, and his staff were at Pittsburg Landing to look after the Illinois troops, who suffered so severely in that fearful struggle, and learning of Mrs. Reynolds's heroic conduct on the field, and untiring efforts in behalf of the wounded soldiers, by and with the advice of his staff commissioned her Daughter of the Regiment, to take rank as a Major, "for meritorious conduct on the bloody battle-field of Pittsburg Landing." Mrs. R. left Pittsburg Landing a few days after the battle to attend some wounded soldiers to their homes by the rivers, leaving the last one at Peoria —Captain Swain, of Illinois, who died as the boat touched the wharf at Peoria. She remained at Peoria a few days to recover from her fatigue, and has left again to rejoin the army, and hopes and expects soon to be in Corinth.

The following letter has been addressed to Governor Yates by citizens of Peoria:

"PEORIA, April 27, 1862.

"To His Excellency Richard Yates, Governor, etc., Springfield, Illinois:

"DEAR SIR,—Permit us to thank you for the honor conferred upon Peoria by your voluntary act in commissioning Mrs. Belle Reynolds, of this city, to take rank as Major of Illinois State Militia, showing your appreciation of valuable services so nobly rendered by a lady on the bloody battle-field of Pittsburg Landing.

"And we take pleasure in bearing testimony to the high moral and Christian character of the 'Major,' believing that in whatever circumstances she may be placed she will ever honor her commission and the worthy Executive who gave it.   Respectfully yours."


SATURDAY, MAY 17, 1862.


WE have reason to believe that our subscribers in the army at Yorktown, and the gallant officers and soldiers to whom we have the pleasure of sending complimentary copies of Harper's Weekly, will receive this Number safely, and that their property will not be interfered with on the way, either at Fortress Monroe or elsewhere.

We need hardly remark that seizures of this journal at particular points involve no pecuniary injury to us. Not a single copy of Harper's Weekly goes to Fortress Monroe, for instance, which has not been paid for in advance, with the exception of copies which we send gratuitously to regiments, officers, or soldiers in the army. To seize this journal, therefore, is merely to rob our gallant troops of property which belongs to them.

A censorship of the press is one of the temporary inconveniences which the present unexampled rebellion has involved. At the outbreak of the war there were throughout the North journals conducted by unprincipled men which were prepared deliberately to afford aid and comfort to the enemy. Ever since then there have been journals which, without the excuse of rebel sympathies, have been willing to

betray strategical secrets, in order to outstrip their rivals in the publication of military and naval intelligence. The only means of checking the one and the other was a press censorship, and it is to the credit of Mr. LINCOLN that he did not hesitate to establish it.

We cheerfully bear testimony to the sagacity and forbearance which have been generally displayed by the Hon. EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War, and Colonel E. S. SANFORD, Military Supervisor of Telegraphs, in the exercise of the abnormal powers with which they have been invested in regard to the press.

It could not be expected that an exercise of power so foreign to our usages and our political system could be established without occasional errors. and some injustice. It is often so difficult to draw the line between legitimate and contraband news that honest publishers were liable to contravene the rules of war unwittingly; while, on the other hand, the duties devolved upon the censor, in consequence of the immense number of journals published in the loyal States, and the keen appetite of the public for news, were so overwhelming that a zealous officer might readily make mistakes without rendering himself fairly liable to censure.

Where the duties of the censorship have been confided to subordinate officers, such errors have naturally been more frequent than where Colonel SANFORD has discharged those functions in person. A man may be an excellent officer without understanding the principles of journalism, or without apprehending the actual amount of information conveyed to the enemy by a newspaper article or a newspaper illustration. It gives us pleasure to add that the most grateful and not the least useful functions performed by Colonel SANFORD have been the mitigation and removal of restrictions laid upon the press by subordinate officers of the army who have filled the post of Provost Marshal at various points.

We have every reason to believe that the Secretary of War, the Hon. EDWIN M. STANTON, is discharging the duties of his most onerous station with a single eye to the suppression of the rebellion, and with a whole-souled devotion to the interest of the Union. It gives us pleasure to add that he is ably and heartily seconded in this purpose by Colonel SANFORD, whose office, though naturally ungrateful, has been, in his hands, so administered as to secure for him the gratitude and respect of journalists and the public at large.


FOREIGN journals have boasted that the troubles of the United States have given the quietus to the Monroe Doctrine, and that hereafter European Powers will be free to colonize where they please on American soil.

The events of the past month will probably have modified the views of European nations with regard to the power and position of the United States. We are not yet so broken down that it is quite safe to kick us in the face. And we are inclined to think that, whatever may have been the original purpose of the three European Powers which lately assumed to interfere in the affairs of Mexico, none of them will now persevere in intervening without the countenance of this country.

The object of the Monroe Doctrine was to obviate wars on this continent. Mr. Monroe's idea was, that so long as we were the controlling Power in America none of our neighbors would be strong enough to go to war with us; if, however, any European Power gained a foothold on American soil, we might be liable to the wars which have desolated Europe. He assumed, in establishing this doctrine, that British North America would naturally gravitate toward the Union. In this, experience has proved that he was in error. The British colonies are further than ever from us. It has been the policy of England to foster a spirit of hostility to this country among the Canadian people. They are studiously educated to regard us as their enemies. And, on the occasion of the Trent quarrel, elaborate plans were formed for the bombardment of Detroit, Chicago, and other frontier cities by expeditions fitted out in Canada.

The question naturally arises, whether the successful close of the war against the Southern rebels will not afford a good opportunity for obviating the possibility of another war with our northern neighbors. If Canada were independent we should never go to war with her, nor she with us. With England we are constantly liable to quarrel, and the only guarantee against war is the 3000 miles of ocean which separate us. This guarantee is neutralized by the military occupation of British North America by British forces.

Mr. E. G. Spaulding has given notice of a motion to abrogate the Reciprocity Treaty, and to appoint a new Commission to negotiate another treaty. It would seem that this Commission ought to demand such material guarantees for peace as would involve the political independence of the British colonies.

We do not want the British colonies in the Union. We should gain nothing by annexing them, and they would be excellent neighbors as independent States. But so long as they are

under the British flag, and so long as England can use their bays and rivers to fit out expeditions against our lake cities, they are a standing menace to us, which it is bad policy to neglect or despise. A Federal Union of these Colonies—stretching from British Columbia to Nova Scotia—under an independent national flag, would be a welcome neighbor, and we could live side by side with them for centuries in peace. But we can not help thinking that it will be bad policy to disband our splendid army and dismantle our navy until the Monroe Doctrine is applied to the region north of us, as well as the region south of us, and until it is physically impossible for any of the anti-democratic Powers of Europe to fit out expeditions on American soil to bombard our cities or ravage our frontier.

The expense of the fortifications which are about to be undertaken for the protection of our northern frontier would enable us, in case the necessity were forced upon us, to conquer the British Provinces and hold them against any power which could be sent against us from Europe.


THERE can be no more pregnant and instructive contrast than the tone of the Southern newspapers a year ago and today. The wild yell of defiance, rage, contempt, and execration which burst from them then has significantly changed.

"The North has no officers to command or drill the cowardly, motley crew of starving foreigners and operatives that it proposes to send South to fill ditches and as food for cannon, because it has no room in its penitentiaries and poor-houses to receive or sustain them." "Our people can take it (Washington), they will take it, and Scott, the arch-traitor, and Lincoln, the beast, combined, can not prevent it. The just indignation of an outraged and deeply-injured people will teach the Illinois Ape to repent his course and retrace his journey across the borders of the free negro States still more rapidly than he came; and Scott, the traitor, will be given an opportunity at the same time to try the difference between 'Scott's Tactics' and the Shanghai drill for quick movements." "It is not to be endured that this flight of Abolition harpies shall come down from the black North for their roosts in the heart of the South, to defile and brutalize the land." "They never did fight, and never will fight, except for pay, for pillage, and plunder. Once satisfy them that no money is to be made, no plunder to be gotten by invading the South, and no power on earth can lash and kick them south of Mason and Dixon's line."

All these things the Richmond Examiner said. A year has passed, and it says: "The destiny of the Confederacy is trembling on the result of Yorktown. If successful, it will give us six months for carrying out the conscription act, arming and equipping a large army, and launching a fleet of Merrimacs; but if unsuccessful, Virginia is lost."

"The action of these church-burning, flour-plundering, swinish groundhogs has no terrors for any but their Northern masters," said the Richmond Dispatch last year. Last week it says: "We may expect to hear of disasters wherever the enemy's gun-boats can be brought to bear on all the points still in our possession....Having made himself master of the river and sea-board towns, the enemy, if he wish to conquer us, must come into the interior. There he will have to beat our armies without the aid of his iron-clad boats, before he can boast of having subdued the country."

"But these mercenary hirelings, these Arnolds, are influenced alone by the thirty pieces of silver, and are not possessed of a sentiment half so sublime as that which the Devil placed in the bosom of Judas." This is the Norfolk Day Book last year. This year it says: "We have faith in our ultimate success; but should this prove fallacious we can remember the example of Samson—remember and emulate it."

"Come on, Abraham! You are wanted," said the Newbern Progress, last spring. This spring the Newbern Progress appears under the auspices of General Burnside.

The Memphis Avalanche was a prophet last April: "We predict that Jeff Davis will be on the banks of the Hudson within thirty days; that Mr. Lincoln will fly, with what little may be scraped together from a bankrupt treasury, from Washington, and that General Scott will bear him company; that nothing will be left, a month hence, of the old Union except possibly New England; and that the special session of Congress called for the Fourth of July will not meet nearer Washington than Portland, Maine, if it ever meets at all!" This April the Avalanche says that the Southern people are fast losing all confidence in their river defenses, and it is generally admitted that the Union army can be no longer successfully resisted. It also intimates a lack of confidence in the stability of the Southern Confederacy, by advising its patrons to invest whatever money they have in real estate, while purchases can be made with the money now in circulation, which is principally rebel treasury notes.

These extracts carry their own moral. The newspapers express the extremest public sentiment; and what consciousness of ghastly failure betrays itself in every word of the expiring gasconade of this infamous rebellion!


THE Report of the Committee to ascertain the treatment of our prisoners and dead by the rebels is one of the most melancholy documents in history. It is not surprising, however, for no one who has thoughtfully read the many records of the aspects

and characteristics of a society based upon slavery was unconscious of its essential and necessary barbarism. You may like slavery or dislike it; you may think it a great benefit to the people whom it utterly outrages and degrades, or not; but you can not, with our own history and the daily newspaper in your hands, deny that it imbrutes the masters. Is there any nominally Christian people in the world that could show themselves so absolutely destitute of human instinct as the Southern rebels?

It is in vain to say that there are gentle and accomplished women in Charleston, Savannah, and New Orleans; that there are frank and generous men at the South; for nobody who has a right to an opinion for a moment denies it. But these are the extremely exceptional persons, and even these are tainted by the absolute tyranny they exercise. Those gentle and accomplished people say, and evidently sincerely believe, things at which the heart stands still with horror and incredulity. Humanity, honor, justice, are all partially paralyzed in their minds. Their civilization is a mermaid—lovely and languid above, but ending in bestial deformity.

This again is not surprising, for they are human beings, and absolute power turns the brain. We are not strong enough for it. And even if it were to be allowed that the enslaved race were benefited by servitude, the enslavers have been, and must always be, ruined by it. "Nor can a more probable reason be assigned," says Hume, "for the severe, I might say barbarous manners of ancient times than the practice of domestic slavery." It is a wrong so monstrous that it carries its own perpetual Nemesis. Foolish people find something picturesque in the system. The silent, dusky servant, by descent perhaps a barbaric king—the contrast of complexion and constant lazy labor with absolute luxury of repose, are discovered to be touching and romantic. The groups of slaves dancing in the warm twilight, such as Humboldt describes in San Domingo, and Edwards and Beckford and the writers of seventy years ago in Jamaica—how pleasing a picture! how charming a peasant life! what careless happiness!

But Edwards, while he contended that slavery must be maintained, was too honest not to say, as he does in the opening of his third volume—the history of San Domingo—"In countries where slavery is established the leading principle on which government is supported is fear, or a sense of that absolute coercive necessity, which, leaving no choice of action, supersedes all question of right. It is in vain to deny that such actually is, and necessarily must be, the case in all countries where slavery is allowed." Fear begets force and requires ignorance. These are the conditions of slavery and of barbarism, but they destroy civilization. Consequently, in our slave States the ignorance of the mass of the people is appalling. Could they have known either the nature of the Government, the history of the nation, or the character of the people at the North, they would not have rebelled. The Southern masses have been brought to the field by the power of a great lie; but they could not have been juggled by a lie except for the ignorance, passion, cruelty, and prejudice which slavery occasions and requires.

Impatient of natural decay, they boil the dead flesh of our soldiers to get the bones more speedily. The bones are cut and carved into trinkets, into caskets, into drinking-cups; and the women of the region, equally ignorant and cruel, wear them and gloat over them with glee. In the Shenandoah Valley the people suppose us to have horns; believe that we gore the wounded, and can not taste blood enough. The extravagance, the idiocy of ignorance, in every quarter that our troops have entered, is appalling. But it is not strange. Slavery can not exist without it. It must have ignorance at any price. Knowledge is light, and in the light it withers.

Let the "white trash," as the poor whites of the South are called, once clearly see that in sustaining slavery they are maintaining the riches and ease of a few slaveholders at the expense to themselves of every thing decent and valuable in life, and they will soon square accounts with the four or five hundred thousand who own slaves.

Can the Union ever be safe or peaceful so long as the social system of a large section absolutely requires that the population shall be utterly ignorant of their more distant fellow-citizens? And will not the actual practical contact of the men of the North with those of the South inspire the latter with the hope of becoming civilized, intelligent, and prosperous?


AT the Charleston Convention of 1860 the seceders, under the lead of Yancey, were perfectly confident that it would not be difficult to "precipitate the Cotton States into revolution," and to secure and maintain the independence of "the South," because the North must have cotton, and the rest of the world must have cotton, and the necessities of trade would control politics, and commerce would be stronger than patriotism. "Cotton is King!" cried the infatuated leaders. "The commerce of the world hangs by a thread," said Dickens. England feeds five millions of mouths with the wages of cotton-spinning, and takes eighty-five per cent. from this country, she will raise the blockade if you try to establish one, shouted "the South," exultant. Cotton is King, and while it is so the rebellion is safe, quoth the wise Wigfall.

"Yes," sighed Yancey, a month ago in New Orleans; "but it is a mistake to suppose that Cotton is King. It is not." The Norfolk Day Book echoes the dreary confession. "We confess that we, in common with wiser men, were deluded into the general belief in the supremacy of cotton ....The truth of this declaration (Dickens's) may yet become manifest, but cotton as a political agent is done for. None so poor to do it reverence as a blockade raiser....Hog and hominy are far more important than cotton or tobacco." (Next Page)




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