General Rosecrans Biography


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, November 8, 1862

You are viewing an issue of Harper's Weekly from our online archive. We have posted the entire run of Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. These papers are rich with eye-witness illustrations and news reports written as the events unfolded.

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General Rosecrans

General Rosecrans

General Rosecrans Biography

General Rosecrans Biography

Second Battle of Pea Ridge

Second Battle of Pea Ridge

Mary Todd Lincoln

Mary Todd Lincoln

Youngest Civil War Soldier

Youngest Civil War Soldier

Civil War Dog

Civil War Dog

Ninth Indiana

Ninth Indiana Regiment

Driving Negroes

Driving Negroes South

Man of War

Man of War

Baltimore Ohio Railroad

Baltimore Ohio Railroad


Hancock, Maryland

Black Slaves

Black Slaves

Uncle Sam Cartoon

Uncle Sam Cartoon











[NOVEMBER 8, 1862.



WE devote the preceding page to a portrait of MAJOR-GENERAL WILLIAM STARKE ROSECRANS, the new commander of the Army of the Ohio, and the hero of the Battle of Corinth.

General Rosecrans was born in Delaware County, Ohio, on 6th November, 1819. His family were of Dutch descent, though of the Roman Catholic faith. In the year 1837 he was appointed a cadet at West Point, and graduated among the five first in 1841. Entering the corps of engineers, he was successively employed in works of construction at Fortress Monroe; Newport, Rhode Island; New Bedford, Massachusetts, etc., and served four years as Assistant Professor of Engineering at the Academy at West Point. In 1853 he left the army, and opened an office as civil engineer at Cincinnati. In 1855 he accepted the Presidency of the Cannel Coal Company of Coal River, Kanawha Court House, Virginia; but a couple of years afterward resigned the position to commence, at Cincinnati, the manufacture of coal oil.

At the outbreak of the rebellion General Rosecrans was one of the first men whom General McClellan called to his aid. He accepted the post of aid to McClellan when the latter entered Western Virginia, and was soon afterward appointed Brigadier-General. In the short but brilliant campaign which cleared the rebels out of Western Virginia Rosecrans took a leading part, and when General McClellan was called to Washington to replace McDowell he was left in command. He prosecuted the campaign with moderate success, failing, however, in his great object, which was to bag the "thief Floyd," through some mischance of General Benham's. For some time subsequently to this but little was heard of General Rosecrans. He turned up again at Corinth, and was in command there when the place was attacked by the rebels under Van Dorn on 3d and 4th October. His victory has been thoroughly acknowledged by the rebels.

When the escape of Bragg rendered it incumbent on the President to replace General Buell by some more fortunate if not more energetic commander, General Rosecrans was at once selected for the command. The public have every hope that he will vindicate the wisdom of the choice.

We published a sketch of General Rosecrans a little more than a year ago. The writer remarked that among the papers which he examined in search of materials for his biography, he discovered a testimonial to "Mr. Rosecrans's high abilities, integrity, and energy," signed by Jefferson Davis, and dated 1854.




THE events of this war repeat themselves with uniform regularity. We began the war with a pretty general contempt for our adversary, and a complacent self-assurance of early and easy triumph. That delusion was dispelled on 21st July on the field of Bull Run, and there the curtain fell on the first Act of our great Drama. From that ill-omened day till the close of the year 1861 the hand of fate was against us. We lost battles, and we lost territory, and we lost hope. Our armies lay idle, seemingly through want of energy on the part of their leaders. People began to despond, and the great North, which had been welded into an integral whole by the attack on Fort Sumter, began to exhibit symptoms of division into parties. The rebels could boast of holding more territory than they had ever expected to inclose within their Confederacy. They had blockaded the Potomac, beleaguered Washington, menaced Cairo and Louisville. Our blockade of their ports had been run by over three hundred vessels. The prestige of victory was with them; and the official organ of Jeff Davis's Government assured its readers that the independence of the South had been actually achieved, and that henceforth the contest was merely for boundaries. This was the condition of affairs at New Year 1862; and here we may say the second Act of the Drama ended.

The third Act began with the fulfillment of McClellan's famous promise that "when the storm does begin, it will lighten along the whole line." It began on the battle-field of Somerset in Kentucky, where, on 19th January, the first real victory won by the North was achieved. The news had scarcely been received in New York before the telegraph flashed the welcome intelligence of the bombardment and capture of Fort Henry, on February 6th; and from that day to the end of June the record was one of uninterrupted Northern success. On February 8, two days after the fall of Fort Henry, Burnside wrested the island of Roanoke from the rebels, and thus achieved the conquest of Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, and of the whole sea-board of North Carolina. On 16th, General Grant "moved upon the enemy's works" at Fort Donelson and captured that strong-hold with many thousands of prisoners. The fall of Forts Henry and Donelson compelled the rebels to evacuate their two strong-holds in the West, Columbus and Bowling Green. On 1st March the former was abandoned, and on 12th General Mitchell commenced his glorious career by entering the latter. Meanwhile, on 8th March, Curtis and Sigel had enrolled their names in the book of fame, by defeating the enemy under M'Intosh,

Price, and Van Dorn at Pea Ridge, in Arkansas. On 11th, the Army of the Potomac moved: Banks occupied Winchester, and McClellan obliged the rebels to evacuate Manassas without firing a gun. The two last weeks of March witnessed the capture of Newbern and Beaufort, North Carolina, by Burnside; of Florence, Alabama, and Iuka, Mississippi, by Mitchell; and of the whole coast of Florida, by Commodore Dupont. April began as brilliantly. On 7th, Island No. 10 surrendered to General Pope; on 8th, Commodore Farragut and General Butler took New Orleans—the most brilliant exploit of the war. On the same day, General McClellan commenced his parallels against Yorktown. On the same day the terrible battle of Shiloh, or Pittsburg Landing, by far the most bloody of the war, terminated in the victory of the Northern forces, and destroyed the hope of Beauregard's army. On 11th, General Mitchell took Huntsville, Alabama—thus securing about 100 miles of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad; and on the same day Fort Pulaski, Georgia, surrendered to General Gilmore.

The next event of importance was the evacuation of Yorktown, on May 4th; and the battle of Williamsburg, in which a portion of McClellan's army won a victory on 5th. Then followed in quick succession the battles of Hanover Court House, West Point, and Fair Oaks—all victories for the North; and on the 30th May the evacuation of Corinth. This, together with the naval victory of Commodore Foote, on 6th June, compelled the surrender of Memphis on 7th. On 18th June, General Morgan occupied Cumberland Gap. This event appears to us to have closed the third Act of the Drama. For five months our successes had been uninterrupted and substantial. Once more we were relapsing into our old blind self-confidence, and falling into the errors which this feeling naturally engenders. Enlistments were stopped and no means of recruiting our decimated regiments even proposed. Politicians were again beginning to discount the future, which they deemed so certain, and to quarrel over the distribution of the honors which seemed so securely won. There was a general relaxation of the energy which had enabled us to win victories. Add to this that the season precluded the operations of our gun-boats on the rivers of the interior, and a part of the succeeding events will seem less unintelligible than they would otherwise appear.

The fourth Act of the Drama commenced with the operations of Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley, which, though depressing to the Northern mind, were indecisive. The battles of the seven days before Richmond, ending July 1, were far more important. However highly we may praise the skill of McClellan and the bravery of his troops, it can not be denied that the substantial fruits of victory on this occasion were with the rebels. Our army was driven in a shattered condition to the banks of the James River, and the siege of Richmond was raised. The success raised the hopes of the rebels once more. Their conscript Act was enforced with rigor, and their armies throughout the Confederacy strengthened. An aggressive policy was adopted. Bragg moved northward from Chattanooga, Lee from Richmond, Hindman from Little Rock, Arkansas, while Breckinridge and Van Dorn undertook successfully to prevent the reopening of the Mississippi. We failed to take Vicksburg, and were forced to evacuate Baton Rouge. Pope, with a handful of men, strove bravely, but of course ineffectually, to resist the overwhelming advance of Lee upon Washington: the last week of August was almost as disastrous to us as the last week of June. Buell, choosing rather to circumvent Bragg than to fight him, operated so as to protect Nashville and Louisville, and succeeded; but he could not prevent the fall of Murfreesboro, the abandonment of Cumberland Gap, the capture of Frankfort and Lexington, and the occupation by the rebels of the whole Blue Grass Region of Kentucky. In the far West Hindman actually threw out skirmishers into Missouri. This Act naturally terminates with the passage of the Potomac by Lee's forces in the first week of September, and the halt of Bragg's and Kirby Smith's armies before Louisville and Cincinnati. At this moment the rebels had driven us out of Virginia and followed us into Maryland; had reoccupied the best part of Kentucky, and left us only two small corners of Tennessee; had rendered the navigation of the Mississippi as dangerous as it ever was. They were flushed with victory, we were dispirited by defeat. Their papers reported, to use their own words, "a succession of triumphs so monotonous as to pall upon the taste." Our people had begun once more to lose faith in themselves, in their cause, and especially in their leaders, and traitors were again rearing their heads at the North.

The fifth, and, we hope, the last Act of the Drama, commenced on September 14, when General McClellan defeated the rebels at South Mountain under Lee. On 17th he fought them again at Antietam, and drove them out of Maryland. On the same day Kirby Smith's army began to fall back from Florence, Kentucky, abandoning the enterprise against Cincinnati in despair. On 25th, Buell arrived at Louisville, and Bragg began to fall back. On 4th October General Rosecrans utterly defeated the rebels at Corinth, as acknowledged at Richmond, paralyzing

the armies of Van Dorn and Breckinridge. On the same day we took Galveston, Texas. On 8th, the battle of Perryville was fought, which, though perhaps not a Union victory, still compelled Bragg to fly rapidly toward the Cumberland mountains, losing the whole fruit of his expedition. On 22d, the rebel army in Arkansas was defeated and scattered at a second battle of Pea Ridge. On 23d, General Mitchell attacked the Savannah and Charleston Railroad. On 26th, the Army of the Potomac crossed into Virginia to renew the campaign. On the same day the Army of the Ohio, under instructions from its new commander, General Rosecrans, marched southward toward Tennessee. Events indicate that the tide of fortune has turned once more, and that when the curtain falls on this fifth Act the laws of art will be fulfilled by the denouement of the drama. This hope is encouraged by the fact that our armies are far stronger than they ever were, and are daily receiving fresh accessions of strength; that they are perfectly armed and equipped, and that their officers have at length learned how to handle them; and that in the course of a few days we shall have a fleet of Monitors afloat for the reduction of Charleston, Savannah, and Mobile. It is further confirmed by the fact that though, during what we have termed the second and fourth Acts of the Drama, success was with the rebels, we lost no important strategic points which the had previously won. Though they seemed to win every battle, and we seemed to hear of nothing but reverses, we continued to hold Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans, Corinth, Norfolk, Beaufort, Fort Pulaski, Pensacola, San Augustine, and to control the Mississippi River, with the exception of a few miles above and below Vicksburg. The difference between them and us appears to be that their triumphs are barren of practical results, while ours have almost invariably secured for us substantial advantages in point of territory, strategic points, or influential towns.

We have been so often disappointed that it seems rash to risk any more predictions. But if we gain as much in this fifth Act as we did in the third, there will be very little left of the Confederacy by next spring.



MR. JOHN VAN BUREN is an unseasonable jester. The airy way in which he cries "Ho, for Fort Lafayette!" shows simply his consciousness of what he deserves, and his equal consciousness that the Government which he accuses of suppressing free speech does not mind his slanders enough to suppress them. Mr. Van Buren's political opinions have ceased to be important, except as indicating the views and. policy of others. There was a time when he was the most popular orator of the principles against which the insurrection is directed. There was a time when he was the leader of the party of the future. That future has arrived. That party, with all men of all parties who are true to the fundamental principle of the Government, is valorously fighting for the existence of the nation, and its old champion stands by with folded arms, leering and laughing, jesting cheerfully, amidst peals of applause which Jeff Davis hears and smiles, over that excellent but tedious joke, the bloody destruction of the Government of the United States and the ruin of all hope of popular civil liberty hereafter.

Mr. Seymour himself is too sagacious to unroll his programme. But his friend, the jester, is less wise. The whole story of the desperate effort of the rump of the old Democratic party to get upon its legs is told in a few sentences by Mr. Van Buren. "Let us take Richmond," he says in substance. "Then ask our erring brethren what they want; if we can't agree, let us say, 'Wayward sisters, depart in peace!' "

"Here's richness!" cried Mr. Squeers, as he sipped the sky-blue skim-milk. Here's statesmanship! may we not all cry as we contemplate this patent Sherman's lozenge warranted to cure rebellion in one dose? But why take Richmond? If Mr. Van Buren had really enlisted for the war, we could understand that he burned for the fray, and could not hold until he had fleshed his doughty blade. But as he did not go, and the only war he wages is against the army and the Government, why should he send thousands and thousands of citizens, quite as valuable to the country as he, to be slaughtered, maimed, and mangled before Richmond, when by his own statement it is all to be in vain? If the Government is to surrender to the rebellion, why not surrender before another life is lost? If Mr. Van Buren and the friends for whom he speaks are so anxious to let "our Southern brethren" do exactly what they choose when they constitutionally administer the Government, and when they constitutionally lose control of it, then smother it and the country, and all the rights of every man in blood, why wait until we take Richmond? What connection is there between all this and Richmond? The jester gets a little ghastly here. For if he is willing to let them have all they wish when Richmond is taken, he simply gives his consent to the murder of all his fellow-citizens who may be slain in taking it. He may have sons or brothers in the war for all we know; but if he has not there is scarce a true-hearted family in the land but has sent its brave and cherished there, and they may be pardoned if they prefer that, if the wayward sisters are to depart in peace, they may be allowed to start now, satisfied with the misery they have already caused.

Here are our streets and the whole country filled

with wounded and maimed soldiers, heroic monuments of the national valor. Thousands sleep in the foul soil of Virginia, slain in battle or deed of sharp torture and lingering disease. But the lively jester skips in and capers upon their graves, and shaking his bells, cries "Pooh, pooh! if a man's wife wants to leave him, she can make him mighty uncomfortable, and he had better let her go. Let her go? yes, and pack her trunk too."

This is the gay view of our tremendous struggle for the perpetuity of civil order to which Mr. Van Buren invites the fathers and brothers and friends of our soldiers in the field, when he asks them to vote for Horatio Seymour. To be sure a few thousands more, including your son, may be killed, but as soon as they are safely dead we'll make it all up! If that is what you want, don't fail to vote for Seymour. If you think that at such an hour as this the people of the State of New York should express a preference for a party whose chief orator makes the war a joke, by all means vote for Seymour. But if you earnestly mean crushing the rebellion by war, then vote for Wadsworth, who means it just as earnestly as you.


THE New York correspondent of the London Times is handled without gloves in a recent number of the London Daily News. The person who writes these letters had declared, after the retreat of Pope: "Brag, bold, brazen, unblushing, unconquerable Brag is lord of the ascendant, and strives to keep up the spirits of the people.... But all this is, in one word, 'Bosh.' ... It is not permitted to the newspapers of New York to promulgate the fact, but it is known in almost every circle, and all but the willfully blind can see, that never since the disruption of the Union were the fortunes of the North at a lower ebb than at this moment."

The Daily News quotes from New York papers of about the same date as this letter, showing a perfect appreciation of the position of affairs, with no effort to disguise it, and then asks: "What do our readers think of a gentleman who is capable of sending hone, to be read by tens of thousands of his countrymen, reports which stand in such relations to the facts as we see here? What but that they are sent home for a purpose very different from that of enlightening the mind of England? And it is of such material that public opinion is made.

"It is supposed to be for the advantage of the public that the accredited correspondent of a newspaper should be unnamed. The New York newspapers, however, lately contained a letter in which Dr. Charles Mackay, late of London, announced himself as the correspondent of our contemporary in that capital. Some of our readers who remember Dr. Mackay as the poet of 'The Good Time Coming' may be surprised to find him working in the interest of the slave-owner, especially as, in his own touching words, 'The great cause of Human Progress has required, at every period of the world, the support of earnest and thinking men.' Could it have been the rise of the Slave Power he was thinking of when, sixteen years ago, he sang, joyously,

There's a fount about to stream,

There's a light about to beam,

There's a warmth about to glow,

There's a flower about to blow.

"No, for the word was then,

Onward while a wrong remains

To be conquered by the right;

While an error clouds the reason,

Or a sorrow gnaws the heart,

Or a slave awaits his freedom,

Action is the wise man's part.

"Then, too, it would have seemed—so we gather from the record—an unworthy occupation to sow the seeds of hatred and strife between the nations, and past errors of that kind were things to be repented of.

Once we thought it right to foster

Local jealousy and pride;

Right to hate another nation

Parted from us by a tide:

Old opinions! rags and tatters!

Get you gone! get you gone!

"Dr. Mackay has told us that in writing such poetry as this he was much encouraged by sympathy and approval from the other side of the Atlantic.* But sixteen years bring reflection and experience. These verses were the inspirations of sentiment. Since he wrote them, Dr. Mackay has been to the land of slavery, and having stood face to face with the hideous monster—having seen at New Orleans men with faces as white as his own bought and sold as slaves—he has become converted to the cause of the South."


"If it is true," says Horatio Seymour, "that slavery must be abolished to save this Union, then the people of the South should be allowed to withdraw themselves from that Government which can not give them the protection guaranteed by its terms."

But if the protection of slavery is guaranteed by the terms of the Constitution, it is so in one case only and that expressly mentioned, the return of fugitives held to service under the laws of one State escaping into another. Certainly neither Mr. Seymour nor any other American advocate of human slavery will contend that the protection of a right claimed by any man to a slave is more expressly guaranteed than the protection of the right of the same man to his life. If, then, his rebellion forfeits the constitutional protection of the one right, when it conflicts with the supremacy of the Government, it clearly forfeits the other in the same case, unless his right to his slave be more sacred than that to his life.

The utter absurdity of Mr. Seymour's sophism, therefore, becomes at once evident, upon substituting (Next Page)




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