Writ of Habeas Corpus


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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)



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



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.]



(Previous Page) at the time when he wrote the letter. General Corcoran himself was unquestionably of that opinion. But his earnest conviction now is that "none but representatives pledged to a vigorous prosecution of the war" should be sent to Congress. General John Cochrane made a famous speech at Richmond in the early spring of 1861. But General Cochrane, late in the autumn of the same year, declared for the most radical military measures against rebellion.

Suppose that some politician should now quote what General Corcoran probably said, and what General Cochrane certainly said, at about the time when General Scott's letter was written, as arguments for the surrender of the Government to the rebellion, would it not be a final and crushing reply to point to the acts and words of those men now? What General Scott thought and said before the rebellion can not be fairly quoted as counsel for surrender at this. The difference between Mr. Seymour, in whose behalf this letter was read by Mr. Van Buren, and such Democrats as Generals Corcoran and Cochrane, and Lew Wallace and McClernand, and, probably, McClellan, is, that although they hoped the rebellion might be avoided, when it came they knew no party, no cause, no hope, but its overwhelming suppression; while Mr. Seymour, who wished to surrender to it before it had struck a blow, now wishes to yield to it after it has slain unnumbered thousands of our best and bravest. But the national disgrace which the rebels could not effect, even with Mr. Seymour's assistance, before they fired at the flag, they are not likely to achieve, still with his assistance, merely because they are smeared all over with the blood of our brothers.


THE apprehension which a few people seriously felt, and which a great many politicians loudly avowed as to the effect of the President's Proclamation upon the army, was, in the nature of things, utterly groundless. If an army is besieging a city: if it has been before it for a year and a half: if it has encountered the enemy in the most sanguinary contests: if the hostility is intense and the enemy's conduct barbarous: does any sane man suppose that that army will become discontented and mutinous because it hears that the city has been mined, or that the enemy's supplies have been cut off, and that they have been summoned to surrender or to abide the consequences? What is the army there for? Is it not to compel by brute force the surrender of the enemy? Could a man be heard for the loud laughter of the camp. who should seriously ask whether it would not exasperate the enemy to mine their city and cut off their supplies? Is it supposed that people can be wounded, killed, and mangled by shot and shell without exasperation upon their part?

Yes, reply the objectors; but then you see it isn't constitutional.

What isn't constitutional? Is it constitutional to break the legs of rebels but not to kill them? Is it constitutional to march to subdue them, but not to make them pay the expense? Is it constitutional to fight them with Columbiads but not with Parrott guns? Is it constitutional to kill them with canister but not with grape? The constitutional way of making war upon rebels, and the sole constitutional way, is to strike them every where at once and with every means you can command. You may blockade them and cut off all their food and supplies. You may fight them in battle and slay until they yield or retreat. You may shell them from towns and forts and vessels. You may withdraw from their service as many men and hands as you can induce to leave them. You may destroy the aqueducts that carry water into their cities, and the trains that carry bread and salt. This is war. This is the argument of brute force. When the rebels invited war they invited this. They are having it, and so are we.

But if we see and feel this what do the soldiers feel? They who have seen their comrades gashed and torn and slaughtered; who have heard the taunts of the enemy in the faces of our dying; who have seen the rebels shooting our men as they carried water to their companions gasping in agony; who have found the carved bones of their friends and cronies in the camp of the rebels; and who know that this bloody effort to destroy the country, and to ruin all the safeguards of civil liberty, is made for no reason whatever but because the aristocratic class in the country would not submit to share the Government with the great mass of the people who are working men?

It was simply ludicrous to suppose that the soldiers would dislike a measure which not only strikes the rebellion in its weakest part, but is also the solution of the vital question from which the rebellion sprang, and an act of justice peculiarly fitting for Americans.


THERE is occasionally a plea for the release from service of certain familiar quotations upon the ground of utter exhaustion. They have done duty beyond all reason. They have grown foolish and flat. They are as appalling upon the page as bores are in society. Utterly superannuated and stale they should be gratefully dismissed.

There are certain phrases, likewise, which have done constant duty in this war for which common charity demands honorable discharge. They may really have been of service at some time, but that time is entirely past. The first phrase of the kind, and the longest in active service, is this: "The enemy greatly outnumbered us." This, it appears, has been the case wherever we have meet them. So that the President upon being asked the actual number of the rebels answered. "About twelve hundred thousand;" and when the astounded inquirer incredulously repeated the figures and besought an explanation, the President replied, "Why, Sir, we have about four hundred thousand, and the reports after every engagement inform

us that the enemy were three to our one; and three times four are twelve."

Indulgent dismissal is also earnestly entreated for the phrase, "We have completely surrounded the enemy, and they will be bagged." The thing, indeed, has never been done, but it is not from any want of activity upon the part of the phrase. That, indeed, had itself stoutly telegraphed from Virginia and from the West. It was not its fault if the facts did not correspond. Tant pis pour les faits. And still another phrase, "We are perfectly prepared to receive the enemy at all points." This is a most gallant and serene phrase. It takes charge of the entire line of the war east and west. Those rebel vermin, we constantly learn, are under our eyes. They think they are going to do a thing or two. Never fear. We have them in hand. We only want them to come on; for we are prepared at all points. To be sure they do come on. They ride entirely around us. They put Cincinnati, Louisville, Pennsylvania into (begging pardon of the fastidious!) the most awful "funk." They seize whatever they want. They take "the mayor and council, mount them on horses, and carry them off as prisoners." They burn and ravage and receive the surrender of quiet towns miles behind "all points" of our lines. They " will probably repeat in Gettysburg tonight their proceedings in Chambersburg." But our permanent telegraphic consolation is, not that General Somebody's forces "arrived at the crossing just as they (the rebels) had finished crossing," but that we are fully prepared at all points. That is an immense satisfaction. And we have been so fully prepared and waiting and watching, that the very phrase is exhausted and ought to have honorable discharge.

The constant rumors that the chief rebel generals were killed in every battle; that the foe is utterly routed; that the rebels are entirely demoralized; that they have nothing to eat nor wear, may all be true. But somehow the dead generals write reports, claim victories, and fight again. The routed foe skips all round us and hits us once more. The demoralized rebels do still shoot, and having nothing to eat or wear, their commissariat must needs be economical. Foolish old telegraph! if they are so wretched, shoeless, hatless, and breadless, why do we sit down on the Potomac and stare at them for a month and suddenly feel them in our rear? If they are utterly demoralized and destitute, the more shame to us that they are not long since forced to surrender.

A little public charity is respectfully requested for these fine phrases which have had their day, and have done as much service as any feather in a general's hat or gold lace upon his coat. They are fallen sick and indigent. They have no means of earning further support. They should be honorably discharged and pensioned, upon the sole condition that they will never try to return to service.


THE right of personal liberty is equally sacred with the right of life. Its careful defense is the foundation of free government. Its universal recognition is the mark of progressive civilization. The writ of habeas corpus is thus the great bulwark of civil society. Its suspension is a matter so solemn and important as to require especial record; and the eyes of a free people watch nothing more jealously than the inviolability of that writ.

When our Constitution was framed the possibility of the necessary suspension of the writ under extreme circumstances occurred to the Convention. In Mr. Pinckney's original draft of a plan of government, which was the ground-work of the present Constitution, he proposed (May 28,1787): "Nor shall the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus ever be suspended, except in cases of rebellion and invasion." On the 20th of August he submitted certain propositions for the Committee of Detail. Among them was this: "The privileges and benefit of the writ of habeas corpus shall be enjoyed in this Government in the most expeditious and ample manner, and shall not be suspended by the Legislature except upon the most urgent and pressing occasions, and for a limited time, not exceeding — months." In the final consideration of the clause, upon the 28th of August, he urged the sanctity of the writ in the strongest terms, and moved that it should not be suspended but on the most urgent occasions, and then for a time not exceeding twelve months. Mr. Rutledge thought it ought to be absolutely inviolate—that its suspension could never be necessary. Then Mr. Gouverneur Morris moved the clause as it now stands: "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless where, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it."

So jealous was the Convention of the sanctity of the writ that it agreed to the first part of the clause as far as the word "unless," unanimously. But three out of the ten voting States (the Carolinas and Georgia!) voted against the latter part.

Thus the privilege of suspension is granted in terms. But the power by which it shall be suspended is not specified. In Mr. Pinckney's original draft the clause occurs in the sixth article defining and limiting the powers of the Legislature. And this particular paragraph is as follows: "The Legislature of the United States shall pass no law on the subject of religion; nor touching or abridging the liberty of the press; nor shall the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus," etc. as already quoted. So in the subsequent proposition to the Committee of Detail, it is expressly stated, "shall not be suspended by the Legislature," etc. And in the Constitution as adopted, the suspension of the writ is provided for in the ninth section, which limits the power of Congress.

Thus the context of the Constitution, the English tradition, where Parliament suspends, and the whole spirit of our Government, give the power of suspension to Congress. It certainly does not reside in any Secretary more than in a Secretary's clerk, unless it may be exercised by every officer of the Government, and by every body who chooses, at his own risk. Yet in the great emergency which threatened the President at the outbreak of the

rebellion, compelled by the eminent peril of the country, he rightfully and wisely assumed a power which was clearly granted, but whose exercise was not expressly assigned to any other authority. Yet he should then have instantly summoned Congress, fresh from the people, to confirm the suspension and to define precisely the conditions under which, and the authority by which, the power should henceforth be exercised.

That was not done, but it should be the first duty of the coming session. For it is, beyond all question, the universal and profound conviction of the country that the suspension of the writ is an act so grave, although strictly constitutional, that only the extreme and urgent peril of the state can justify it: and then by the people as their representatives shall decree.


SINCE we are of those who have called attention to what seemed to be a repudiation by the Government of certain contracts in the shape of post-office stamps, it is only fair to say that the postmaster of New York has published an explanation of the general order of the department to the effect that only stamps so defaced that it is impossible to decide whether they have been used to pay postage or not will be rejected. The result of the order practically will be that the utterly defaced stamps will not be taken as change. But the true remedy of the difficulty is the adequate supply of paper-change until the silver can be released from the vaults, boxes, and old stockings into which it has betaken itself.


A YOUNG lady of eighteen was engaged to be married to a gentleman of thirty-six. Her mother having noticed her low spirits for some time, inquired the reason. "Oh dear, mamma," replied the young lady, "I was thinking about my husband being twice my age." "That's very true; but he's only thirty-six." "He's only thirty-six now, dear mamma; but when I'm sixty—" "Well?" "Oh dear! why, then he'll be a hundred and twenty!"

"The only way to look at a lady's faults," exclaimed a supergallant, "is to shut your eyes."

HOUSEHOLD TREASURES.—A treasure of a husband—carries the baby. A treasure of a wife—never asks for money. A treasure of a son—has money in the funds. A treasure of a daughter—looks the same age as her mother; if any thing, a trifle older. A treasure of a servant —runs to the post in less than half an hour. A treasure of a cook—it not hysterical whenever there is company to dinner. A treasure of a baby—doesn't disturb his dear papa in the middle of the night.

A SCOTCH MINISTER "DONE."—In common with the rest of the world, Dr. M—, an eminent Church of Scotland
divine, lately visited the International Exhibition. Shortly after his arrival in the metropolis an Irishman came running to him in the street, crying, "Och, blessins on ye, Docther M—! How are yez?" "I'm very well," replied the Doctor, rather dryly. "And when did yez come to London?" "Last week; but how do you come to know me?" "Give me a shilling and I'll tell yez." The Doctor, curious to know how the fellow found his name out, gave him the shilling, and was answered by the Irishman, "Sure then and I saw your name on your umbrella."

CONVERSATION. Conversation is but carving; Give no more to every guest Than he's able to digest.

Give him always of the prime, And but little at a time;

Carve to all but just enough,

Let them neither starve nor stuff;

And, that you may have your due,

Let some neighbor carve for you.

A young lady, on returning from school in England to her home in the East, wrote to her friends, "In Egypt I saw Cleopatra's needle, but I thought very little of it, I assure you, after having seen the sewing-machine in London."

One of our city bakers has invented a new kind of yeast, which makes bread so light that a pound loaf only weighs twelve ounces.

What female recluse is that whose name, read backward and forward, is the same?—Nun. What lady-like designation is that which is spelled backward and forward the same ?—Madam. What time is that which spelled backward and forward is the same?—Noon. What portion of a young lady's dress is that which spelled backward and forward is the same?—Bib.

A village shop-keeper, on entering his shop one morning, found his boy Bobby attempting to throw all sorts of somersets, and kicking up as great a rumpus as a seal in a tub. "What are you about?" he inquired, looking astonished at the wild evolutions of the boy. "Obligin' Martha, Sir," replied the almost, exhausted youth. "She's writ me a letter, and at the bottom of the page says, 'Turn over and oblige,' and I've been going it for mor'n half an hour."

The pompous epitaph of a close-fisted citizen closed with the following passage of Scripture: "He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord." " Dat may be so," soliloquized Sambo, "but when dat man died de Lord didn't owe 'im a red cent."


If the teeth of a storm ever bite; and if so, is lightning the result?

If a good view is to be had from the top of the morning?

If the man who did not know what to do ever got a job?

If a bald-headed man can be said to be hair-brained?

If one man is not as good as any other man?

"A gent" tapped a school-boy on the shoulder, and asked him "What he had got behind him?" to which the boy answered, "A fool!"

DEACON DAY.—There was deacon of a church of the name of Day, by trade a cooper. One Sabbath morning he heard a number of boys who were playing in front of his house, and he went out to check the Sabbath profanation. Assuming a grave countenance, he said to them, "Boys, do you remember what day this is?" "Yes, Sir," replied one of the boys, "Deacon Day, the cooper."

To make lager-bier the following new recipe is given: Take a barrel and fill it with rain-water, put in one pair of old boots, a head of last fall's cabbage, two short sixes, a sprig of wormwood, and a little yeast. Keep it for a year, and then "dish out."

Bachelors are a much-abused class of persons; but Quilp says it is much better to be laughed at for not being married than to be unable to laugh yourself because you are.

A gentleman was threatening to beat a dog for barking intolerably. "Why," exclaimed an Irishman, "would you beat the poor dumb animal for spaking out?"

IMMEASURABLE WAIST.--A correspondent writes to ask how much the waste of time measures round.

THE RIGHT THING IN THE WRONG PLACE.—A love-letter written on a mourning sheet of paper.

The man who was "overflowing with the milk of human kindness" kept the cream for his own use.

The new pill just introduced is an infallible remedy for melancholy. It is made up of fun and fresh air, in equal proportions, and is to be taken with cold water three times a day.

An editor says the only reason why his house was not blown away during the late gale was because there was a heavy mortgage upon it.

A young lady in the city says the reason she carries a parasol is that the sun is of the masculine gender, and she can not withstand his glances.



ON 16th October, at 6 A.M.. General Humphreys's division crossed at Blackford's ford and advanced on Shepherdstown, supported by General Porter's division. About the same time a portion of Sumner's corps, consisting of part of General Richardson's and General Sedgewick's divisions, under command of General Hancock, advanced from Bolivar Heights along the road to Charlestown, and met the enemy's pickets in force, supported by a battery, near Halltown, driving them with artillery in, and following them up toward Charlestown, which place our troops occupied at noon. On 17th, the object of the reconnoissances having been accomplished, the armies returned. The party under General Humphreys was followed by rebel cavalry and artillery to within a short distance of Sheperdstown, and one of our men was killed and six wounded. We captured a number of prisoners, and it is understood that the rebels had between forty and fifty men killed and wounded while disputing our advance.


No more battles have taken place in Kentucky. General Bragg is retreating toward the Cumberland Mountains, and General Buell is following him. The distance between the two armies is said to be 17 miles. Bragg has passed through Crab Orchard.


Morgan, with fifteen hundred guerrillas, captured Lexington on 18th, after a sharp fight with a small force of National cavalry stationed there. He did not stay long, however, but took the Versailles turnpike, on which, between Versailles and Frankfurt, he was suddenly met by about 2500 of General Dumont's cavalry and routed after a short fight—his force being scattered. It is supposed that he will endeavor to unite his scattered forces with Humphrey Marshall.


The following correspondence is published:



To Brigadier-General Negley, Commanding Forces at Nashville:

SIR,—Having strongly invested your position, we demand an immediate unconditional surrender of the city.

By order of MAJOR-GENERAL S. R. ANDERSON, Commanding Forces Before Nashville.




SIR,—General Negley is prepared and determined to hold his petition.

JAS, A. LAWRIE, Captain and A. A. G. No attack was made by the rebels, and General Negley finding them in some force at Lavergne, fifteen miles from the city, attacked them there and defeated them.


The latest returns of the Pennsylvania election indicate that fifteen Union Congressmen are elected. The State ticket is still in doubt, but the chances are in favor of the Democrats. The Legislature will have a Democratic House and a Republican Senate, with a Democratic majority on joint ballot.

The Democrats have carried Ohio, and probably Indiana. Iowa sends six Republicans to Congress. Among the members "dropped" are Vallandigham, Pettit, G. A. Grow of Pennsylvania, Bingham of Ohio, Hickman of Pennsylvania, etc.


It appears by the following order from the War Department that little Delaware has raised her quota of troops:


WASHINGTON CITY, D.C., Oct. 10, 1862.

Ordered, That, whereas the full quota of the State of Delaware of volunteers and militia, called for by the President on the 2d day of July, 1862, had under authority of this Department, been raised by volunteers, the order for a draft of militia from the State of Delaware is revoked and annulled. By order of   THE PRESIDENT.

EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

There will be no draft in Illinois. In New York a draft will take place on 10th November.


General Jefferson C. Davis, on 14th, received an order from the War Department releasing him from the arrest under which he has hitherto been confined since killing Nelson, and, in military phrase, "enlarging his limits." There are good reasons for believing that General Davis will be at the head of his command in the field again before long. He appeared on the streets the same afternoon, for the first time since Nelson's death.



PRESIDENT LINCOLN'S emancipation proclamation has been received in England. The London Times considers the State paper to be a political concession to the Abolitionist wing of the Republican party." The writer says that "when the Union existed" the Constitution did not confer the right to abolish slavery either on the President alone or on the President and Congress. Emancipation, it is said, is "a thunder-bolt placed in President Lincoln's hands to destroy the whole social organization of the South at a blow." The London Times thinks that the President has no power to enforce "his decree," as "the North must conquer every square mile of the South before it can make the proclamation of more effect than mere waste paper."


A meeting of working men was lately held at Staleybridge, England, having for its object "the promotion of the recognition of the Confederate States of North America as an independent nationality," by petitioning the Queen and Parliament of England. The mayor of the town presided over the organization. Mr. Mason having been invited to offer his opinion on the subject, did so by letter. After recapitulating the secession arguments, Mr. Mason declares that the "separation from the United States is final and forever," and that "in no possible contingency—even could the war be continued to their extermination—can they (the Southern States) ever be restored to the repudiated Union." The speakers endeavored to pass a resolution declaring that the sufferings of the British operatives were caused by the action of the Union Government in continuing to make war on the rebels; but the tradesmen and spinners present at once rejected the proposition, and resolved that their misery was produced "by the existence of a rebellion against the American Constitution."




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