The Battle of Corinth

 

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Civil War Harper's Weekly, November 1, 1862

Welcome to our online collection of Harper's Weekly newspapers. This archive has all the Harper's published in the Civil War. This collection has incredible content, to help you develop a more in depth knowledge of this important era of American History.

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

 

Alabama

Pirate Ship "Alabama"

Bragg and Buell in Kentucky

Bragg and Buell in Kentucky

Writ of Habeas Corpus

Writ of Habeas Corpus

Camp Dick Robinson

Camp Dick Robinson

Battle of Perryville

The Battle of Perryville

Stuart's Cavalry Raid into Maryland

Stuart's Cavalry Raid into Maryland

The Battle of Corinth

John Bull

John Bull Cartoon

Chambersburg

Chambersburg

Perryville, Kentucky Battle

The Battle of Perryville, Kentucky

Stuart's Cavalry Raid

JEB Stuart's Cavalry Raid

Battle of Corinth

Battle of Corinth

 

 

NOVEMBER 1, 1862.]

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

699

(Previous Page) He paused; but she kept her eyes fixed on the ground, and said, in a low voice,

"What would you have me do?"

"Will you advise me?" he asked. "I am so afraid of speaking too soon. Will you talk to her of me, and prepare her for my declaration?"

"On one condition," Honoria answered.

"What is it?"

"That you promise not to speak till I give you warning. You will ruin your own cause if you speak too soon."

Archer hesitated; then said, smiling, "Well, I promise; only you must not try me too long."

She wondered at herself for the composure with which she now could go through scenes like this one. No one knew what passed in the solitude of her own chamber, when the tall, proud form lay stretched on the ground, as if crushed by some heavy blow; no human eye saw the haggard face, peering out in the moonlight, the clenched hands raised in a mad supplication for death. Morning found her in her usual place at the breakfast-table, calm and attentive to her duties, ready. to listen to her father's plans, and to take her part in conversation. There was no outward change, or, at least, Mr. Calvert perceived none; and if he was a little puzzled at seeing Mr. Benham devote himself to Susie quite as much as to Honoria, yet he made no remark, and concluded, probably, that it was a natural consequence of the little girl's pretty voice.

But a dark shadow hung over the old house. Mr. Calvert was seized with a fit at his office, and almost instantly expired, only the day after Archer had made his appeal to Honoria for her assistance. The sisters were overwhelmed with sorrow, and Susie drooped at once, like some tender plant beaten down by the storm. When Mr. Ellis arrived to announce the sad news, he found the sisters sitting together busied with some womanly work. His face betrayed that he was the bearer of evil tidings. He tried to tell them cautiously, but when Susie understood the truth she dropped from her seat like one heart-stricken.

"Poor child!" Mr. Ellis said, kindly, as he raised her in his arms as gently as if she had been his own daughter. "Let me carry her to her room, Miss Calvert; she will be better there."

Pale and wan, but tearless still, Honoria led the way, and Susie was carried to her room. The sun was shining gayly in, but Honoria, almost impatiently, drew the heavy curtains to shut out the daylight; and begging Mr. Ellis to send Susie's old nurse, who was still a favored member of the household, she began to undress the poor child. The swoon lasted long; and for many a day afterward Susie lay, feeble as an infant, with wide-open eyes, scarcely speaking, even to old nurse, who sat beside the bed, working at the black garments, and wishing for cries or tears, or any thing rather than that strange stillness.

Meanwhile, Honoria came and went through the darkened chambers, gloomy, hopeless, and most miserable. She saw no one but Mr. Ellis, who had been named in Mr. Calvert's will as one of Susie's guardians, while Honoria herself was the other. The property, which was considerable, was divided equally between the two sisters; and in the event of one of them dying all was to belong to the survivor.

"Arrange all as you think best," Honoria said to Mr. Ellis; "only I shall remain in this house with Susie. I do not care for any thing else."

Mr. Ellis offered his wife's assistance.

"No," Honoria replied; "you are very kind, but we can do very well. I am glad to have something to do;" and she sighed drearily. About one thing she was obstinate—she would not see Archer Benham. He called, he sent messages through Mr. Ellis, he wrote imploring letters, but all in vain; she always sent the same answer, "He must wait."

So the weary weeks passed on, and Susie could yet only bear to be lifted from the bed to the sofa; but she sometimes spoke of her father with quiet tears that the nurse rejoiced to see. Strength might return to the delicate frame, enfeebled by so severe a shock, now that the mind was clear and calm. And all this time there was a heart beating only for her. Archer longed to defend her with his strong, loving arms against all the cares, all the sorrows, all the unkindness of the world. If she had only known!

One day Honoria was beside her sister's couch, silently watching the thin fingers braiding some pretty work. It was so still outside that they could hear the approach of a horseman, and presently a voice almost under the window asked for Miss Calvert. Honoria saw the color rise in Susie's cheek, the eyes fill with moisture, the trembling hands drop the work.. She saw how the tender little heart yearned with eager longing at the sound of that voice, but she had no pity then. She rose, pressing her hand on her heart, and left the room. With that burning, passionate jealousy in her soul she dared not stay beside her sister. She went to her room, the scene so often of her fearful mental struggles, and sat down, gasping for breath, and shuddering at her own thoughts. A knock roused her, and the servant put a letter into her hand.

"Mr. Benham says, Will you be good enough to see him, only for five minutes, Miss Calvert?"

"I can not see him," she answered, hoarsely. "Tell him I will write."

She sat listening till she heard him ride slowly away; then she rose and went to the window, whence she watched the solitary horseman as long as he was in sight. Almost with a groan she then broke the seal of the letter she had held all this time. An inclosure fell out, addressed to Susie; she laid it aside, and read the sheet addressed to herself. In it Archer implored her forgiveness, but he could wait no longer. Surely, if Susie loved him, it would be a comfort to her to receive the assurance of his deep and unalterable affection. Would she not give him some hope? He could not stay so near and not try to see her. If Susie would not give him an answer now, would she name a time when he might come? Might he return in a month—two months—three months?

Meantime he would go abroad. He would not harass her for the world; he would be a wanderer till she bade him come; only let him have a hope, he asked no more.

There was a cold, cruel gleam in Honoria's eye as she read. The jealous passion she had nursed had grown beyond her unassisted human strength now, and she yielded to its whispers. Lighting a candle, she held Susie's letter in the flame till it blazed, then threw it on the hearth, and stood watching it till the last particle was consumed; then she sat at her desk and wrote, without glancing at the open sheet that lay beside her.

"Susie can not, will not listen to you now. You will lose her forever if you persist in writing. Her heart is full of her father, and she thinks it sacrilege to talk of any other love now. Your plan of going abroad is excellent. Leave her to me and go. In three months you may return." For a moment she paused. Implied falsehood had been but too easy; a direct untruth was harder. Again her evil spirit prompted, and she listened. A very few words were added. "Susie bids me say so."

She dared not read what she had written. Hastily sealing and directing it, and only pausing to crush Archer's letter into a secret drawer of her desk, she took her note to the hall, and put it into the letter-bag herself. She could not stop to think, but went straight to Susie's room. The poor child looked up with eager, wistful eyes, and her lips were white with agitation. Honoria moved out of reach of her glance, and said, as easily as she could—

"I have had a note from our friend Mr. Benham. He inquires kindly for us, and is just going abroad."

Her ear caught a low, shivering sigh, but there was no answer; and when she ventured to turn from the window the little fingers were busy with their delicate work again. Honoria smiled bitterly.

"She does not care much, after all," she thought. A few days later Mr. Ellis mentioned, accidentally, that Mr. Benham was gone abroad for three months. Honoria replied that she had heard so from himself, and then the subject was dropped, and Archer's name was mentioned no more.

Summer was coming with its roses, but no roses returned to Susie's cheek. The doctor, whom Honoria anxiously consulted, said the nerves had sustained so severe a shock in her father's sudden death that she could only rally by very slow degrees. The old nurse trembled for her darling, and called Honoria's attention to the fact that Susie grew weaker. The old woman carried her about like a child, and Susie liked to be taken to the couch in the bay-windowed room, to lie listening to the whispering leaves and dreaming over the past.

Honoria herself was fearfully changed. Her cheek was hollow, her eye burned with a restless fire. Sleep seldom visited her. Through the long nights she wandered up and down her room, pausing at the window to watch the gray dawn stealing up the sky, or to gaze over the meadow-land, where the grass was once more rich and high, as in the time last year when Archer Benham first came to the old house. Thoughts which almost maddened her rushed over her brain in those miserable nights.

"Was Susie really dying, as nurse feared? Was it. only grief for her father's death? Would the knowledge, the blessed certainty that she was beloved, send fresh life through those veins, fresh vigor into that fading form? Should she hear the truth soon—to-morrow? No: Honoria would wait till she knew where he was, and could summon him. She knew not now any thing of his whereabouts; she must wait. Only three months, and he would come, and then......and then......"

Two-thirds of the time had rolled away. It was a lovely day in June, and the blackbird was piping in the pink-thorn whose bloomy boughs shadowed the bay-window. Susie was on her couch facing the garden, and Honoria sat with her back to the light, looking at her sister, and trying to fancy she was better. Susie shook her head in reply to some remark of Honoria's. "I have taken my last walk, dear," she said; "you must learn to do without little Susie."

Honoria hid her face in her hands, when suddenly she was startled by a low cry, and, looking up, she saw Susie raising herself on the couch, with outstretched hands and glowing cheek, her eyes intently gazing out of the window. Honoria turned. He was there; pale, travel-worn, altered —but it was Archer Benham.

In a few moments he was in the room, kneeling by the couch, Susie's little head lying on his bosom in an ecstasy of joy. Tender as a mother's were his low, caressing words: "My little one, my dove, my darling, why did you send me away?"

He could only think of the bliss of seeing her again at first. Honoria sat spell-bound, till at last he turned to her, and said, fiercely, "Why was I not warned of this? Why did you not tell me? I heard from a stranger that she was ill."

"How could I know where you were?" faltered Honoria.

"You knew my uncle's address," he said; then, turning to Susie, "Why did you not answer my letter, my little one? Why not tell me I should be welcome? One word would have brought me, as I told you. Why did you not write!" Susie looked up astonished.

"Letter!" she said; "I had no letter."

Honoria hid her face, and the truth flashed on Archer that he had been deceived. He started to his feet and confronted her.

"You did not give her my letter?" he asked, seizing her wrist. "Where is it?"

"I destroyed it."

The words sounded unnaturally hollow. He stood a moment, as if paralyzed; then a low moan from Susie roused him, and he flew to his place by the couch, where the poor child lay cold and still, faint with terror.

"God forgive you!" he muttered, as he turned
from Honoria. "You have murdered your sister."
It was too true. Joy came too late to save the

young life, blighted by sorrow and falsehood. The next day, with words of Christian forgiveness and Christian hope on her lips, Susie's spirit passed into the world where sorrow is unknown. Honoria had confessed all, and Susie had earnestly pleaded with Archer; but Honoria felt that his seeming pardon was but spoken to pacify her sister, and that in reality he shrank from her with disgust. One promise Susie had exacted from her old nurse; it was that she should always remain with Honoria. Even Susie's influence would have failed here had the old woman known the truth, but none ever knew it except the three persons concerned.

The funeral moved away from the house, and once more Honoria gazed from the window, wild and hopeless, as the body of her only sister was carried to the grave. From that day she never again saw the face of Archer Benham, nor did any friendly foot ever cross her threshold. With Mr. Ellis she would only communicate by letter on matters of business. She dismissed every servant except the gardener, his wife, and the old nurse. She never left the house by day, only in the twilight she would steal into the garden or shrubbery, and wander for hours like a restless ghost, and many a time the passing traveler might be startled at the sight of a white, despairing face looking drearily out of one of the upper windows. Who shall say whether peace ever came to that proud and sinful heart? Death took her after many years. The nurse, entering her room one morning, found the bed had not been occupied, but on the floor under the window lay Honoria, her gray hair unbound, her hands clasped as if in supplication. She was dead.

Her will left all her large fortune to different charitable institutions, after providing for her servants. The house she bequeathed, without remark, to Archer Benham, now a baronet and in possession of Benham Park, but still a sad and solitary man. By his order the furniture was sold, with the exception of some few things he reserved for himself. In the secret drawer of Honoria's desk he found a crushed letter, which he tore and flung to the winds; the other papers he handed to Mr. Ellis. After the sale, he ordered that the house should be shut up and left to decay. The very windows had been removed, and replaced by boards, and neglect soon did its work. The once cheerful home is now but a desolate ruin, which the traveler can scarcely pass without a sigh, even when the history of its former inmates is unknown to him.

THE PIRATE "ALABAMA," ALIAS "290."

WE publish on page 689 a faithful portrait of the new PIRATE "ALABAMA," alias "290," which was built by the British a few months since to prey upon our merchant navy, and which has already taken and burned fourteen vessels of various sizes. She is commanded by Captain Raphael Semmes, late of the Sumter. Captain Hager, of the Brilliant, one of the vessels taken and burned by the Alabama describes her as follows:

The Alabama was built at Liverpool, or Birkenhead, and left the latter port in August last; is about 1200 tons burden, draught about fourteen feet; engines by Laird & Sons, of Birkenhead, 1862. She is a wooden vessel, propelled by a screw, copper bottom, about 210 feet long, rather narrow, painted black outside and drab inside; has a round stern, billet head, very little shear, flush deck fore and aft; a bridge forward of the smoke stack carries two large black boats on cranes amidships forward of the main rigging; two black quarter boats between the main and mizen masts, one small black boat over the stern, on cranes; the spare spars, on a gallows between the bridge and foremast, show above the rail. She carries three long thirty-two pounders on a side, and is pierced for two more amidships; has a one hundred-pound rifled pivot gun forward of the bridge, and a sixty-eight pound pivot on the main deck; has tracks laid forward for a pivot bow gun, and tracks aft for a pivot stern chaser—all of which she will take on board to complete her armament. Her guns are of the Blakely pattern, and manufactured by Wesley & Preston, Liverpool, 1862. She is bark rigged; has very long, bright lower masts, and black mast-heads; yards black, long yard-arms, short poles (say one to two feet), with small dog-vanes on each, and a pendant to the main; studding-sail booms on the fore and main, and has wire rigging. Carries on her foremast a square foresail; large try-sail with two reefs, and a bonnet top-sail with two reefs, top-gallant sail and royal. On the mainmast a large try-sail with two reefs and a bonnet. No square mainsail bent, top-sail two reefs, top-gallant sail and royal. On the mizen-mast, a very large spanker and a short three-cornered gaff top-sail; has a fore and foretop-mast stay-sail and jib; has had no stay-sail to the main or mizen-mast bent or royal yards aloft. Is represented to go thirteen knots under canvas and fifteen under steam. Can get steam in twenty minutes, but seldom uses it except in a chase or an emergency. Has all national flags, but usually sets the St. George's cross on approaching a vessel. Her present complement of men is one hundred and twenty, all told, but is anxious to ship more. Keeps a man at the mast-head from daylight till sunset. Her sails are of hemp canvas, made very roaching; the top-sails have twenty cloths on the head and thirty on the foot. General appearance of the hull and sails decidedly English. She is generally under two top-sails, fore and main try-sails; fore and foretop-mast stay-sails; sometimes top-gallant-sails and jib, but seldom any sails on the mizen except while in charge of a vessel. She is very slow in stays; generally wears ship. She was built expressly for the business. She is engaged to destroy, fight, or run, as the character of her opponent may be. She took her armament and crew and most of her officers on board near Terceira, Western Islands, from an English vessel. Her crew are principally English; the officers chivalry of the South. All the water consumed on board is condensed. She has eight months' provisions, besides what is being plundered, and has about four hundred tons of coal on board.

He gives the following additional information, which will be found interesting and important:

In all cases where Captain Semmes captures a vessel, he sends an armed boat on board and orders the unfortunate captain on board the Alabama with his papers. On his arrival he is ushered into the presence of the pirate Semmes, who receives him in the most pompous and over-bearing manner. He is questioned as to the name of the strip, where from, where bound, and the character of his cargo. Captain Hagar, in reply to the latter question, said that some of his cargo was on English account. On his giving this reply Semmes scowled at him and remarked, "Do you take me for a d—d fool? Where are the proofs that part of your cargo is on English account?"

The papers, unfortunately, not having the Consular seal attached, were not considered proof, and the Brilliant and her cargo were in consequence seized by Semmes as a prize.

When Captain Hagar left the Alabama there were between forty and fifty of the crews of the different vessels she had destroyed still on board. They were confined below

low in irons, in the most miserable condition. They were where every drop of rain fell on them, and every sea that came aboard the vessel washed over them, and the poor fellows were in a terrible plight, having lost every thing, with the vessels they belonged to, the pirates permitting no baggage, except the very smallest quantity, to be brought away from the prizes before they were destroyed. They had the satisfaction of knowing, however, that it could not be long before they would be released; for Semmes could not afford to have his ship filled up with prisoners.

The plan that Semmes has adopted to bring fish to his net is as follows: It will be seen at a glance that the position he was last reported in was in the track of many vessels bound to and from Europe. This is the position he has chosen to do the greatest possible amount of destruction; and he certainly has been most successful Whenever he captures a ship, after taking from her all that he and his officers want, he lays by her until dark, and then sets her on fire. The light of the burning ship can be seen many miles, and every other ship within seeing distance stands toward the light, thinking to rescue a number of poor fellows from destruction. The pirate keeps in the immediate vicinity awaiting the prey that is sure to come, and the next morning the poor fellows who have, to serve the cause of humanity, gone many miles out of their course, find themselves under the guns of the Alabama, with the certainty that before another twenty-four hours they will share the fate of the ship they came to serve.

This plan will enable him to destroy an immense amount of property without much cruising. He can lay in one position and gather the ships around him during the night ready for operations on the coming day for weeks to come; for it will be a long time before his depredations can be made known.

He has been known to cruise for an indefinite length of time, with no coal, depending upon his canvas entirely, which, it seems, is all-sufficient for his purpose. He carries stores for eight months, and can always replenish from the prizes he may take. He will be here to-day, there to-morrow, and will be certain to be found where no one is looking for him. Looking for him will be like "looking for a needle in a haystack," and with the majority of vessels we have cruising at the present time, should one of them be fortunate enough to see him, all we shall benefit thereby will be a look, and so it will continue to be until we have ships of greater speed than we now possess or expect soon to have.

THE BATTLE OF CORINTH.

ON pages 692 and 701 we give a large picture of the BATTLE OF CORINTH, fought on 4th October, from a sketch by our special artist, Mr. A. Simplot, The battle commenced on 3d, the rebels under Price and Van Dorn being the attacking party. That day they seem to have rather had the advantage. On the 4th the contest was renewed at daybreak. For some hours it was waged with indifferent success. At length the great effort was made which forms the subject of our picture. The Tribune correspondent describes it as follows:

For a time there were no demonstrations on the part of the enemy, and they remained altogether quiet in the angle of the woods near the railroad. Presently two lines were formed, one at right angles to the other—the one destined with its reserves to sweep over the railroad, through the abattis into the village—the other with its reserves to attack battery "Robinett," which was the key to the whole position. It once taken and held, Corinth was undeniably in rebel possession. The line destined for the occupation of the village came rapidly forward at a charge across the railroad, over the fallen timber, driving the Union line before them like chaff. All that grape and canister could do to impede their progress was attempted, but still their irresistible progress was not stayed. Batteries of light artillery played upon their front and left incessantly; their colors were thrice shot away; but they came still onward, nor halted until they reached the public square, and formed in line of battle directly in front of General Halleck's old head-quarters. Our line of battle was formed directly opposite, in the street leading past General Rosecrans's head-quarters.

The two armies advanced and engaged in a terrible hand-to-hand conflict, and for a time the destruction of the Union line seemed inevitable. Our army gradually yielded, and fell back until the enemy had nearly reached the Corinth House. Here General Rosecrans rode along the line, and in a few cheering words revived the drooping courage of the wearied soldiers. The enemy's reserve was at this time directly in range of the guns on the redoubt, to the left, and huge shells began to drop in their midst, whose explosion in the solid masses began to create considerable confusion and loss of life. At the same time the order was given to "charge bayonets." At this command our brave soldiers sprang to their work with a will. They attacked vigorously, and soon the enemy were flying across the public square in wild confusion. The explosion of the fiery missiles from the two batteries added haste to their movements, and by the time they had reached the cover of the timber their retreat had become a rout.

By the time this line was driven back the other line with their reserves were well advanced in the direction of battery "Robinett."

During the period of seeming inaction when the enemy had withdrawn to the cover of the timber, while preparing to make the two charges as recorded in the preceding narrative, General Price and his principal officers held a consultation to devise ways and means to take the battery. The importance of its capture was admitted, and the risk and danger of the attempt thoroughly canvassed. General Price would not undertake the responsibility of ordering the attack, but called for volunteers. Colonel Rogers of Arkansas immediately tendered his brigade as the forlorn hope, and Colonel Ross his brigade as a support.

They massed their troops eight deep, and advanced under a heavy fire of double charges of grape and canister. A terrible enfilading and flanking fire was poured upon them from every battery bearing in that direction, aided by incessant volleys of musketry from the supports of the batteries and the Union regiments drawn up in line parallel with them.

The first shell from Battery William exploded in the centre of the advancing column, sending thirty or forty to their long home. Every discharge caused huge gaps in their ranks. An eye-witness of that wonderful charge says that he can compare the effect of our fire to nothing but the falling of grain before the scythe. This tremendous mortality did not affect their irresistible onward march. As fast as one man fell his comrade stepped forward in his place. I doubt whether history has ever recorded a charge characterized by such determined valor and bravery Twice did they approach almost to the outer works of the battery, and twice were they compelled to fall back. The third time they reached the battery and planted their flag upon the edge. It was shot down, raised again, and again shot down. They swarmed about the battery; they climbed over the parapets; they fired through the escarpments, and for a time it seemed as if they had secured the victory their valor had so richly earned.

When they obtained the battery, our men who were working it fell back behind the projecting earth-works, out of reach from our shells, and immediately all the batteries bearing upon the position were turned upon Battery Robinett, and soon a shower of missiles were falling like hail upon the brave intruders. No mortal man could stand the fire, and they retreated. Slowly the brave remnant turned their unwilling steps toward the forest from which they started, when the order was given to the two regiments supporting the battery to charge. This order was splendidly executed. The miserable remnant of troops whom the batteries had nearly destroyed was now almost annihilated. A few scattering troops were all that remained of the column which as valiantly attacked the battery scarcely an hour before. The dead bodies of rebels were piled up in and about the intrenchments, in some places eight and ten deep. In one place directly in front of the point of assault 216 dead bodies were found within a space of a hundred feet by four, among them the commanders of both brigades making the assault—Colonel Rogers and Colonel Ross.

This was the termination of the engagement.


 

 

  

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