McClellan Departs Army of the Potomac


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, November 29, 1862

Welcome to our online collection of Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers. This Civil War resource will allow you to study details of this war in a depth no possible through modern publications. We hope you find this collection of use.

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General Burnside

General Burnside

Burnside's Movements

Burnside's Movements

Abraham Lincoln Sabbath

Lincoln Requests Sabbath Observed


Warrenton, Virginia


The Passaic

McClellan's Departure

McClellan's Departure


Buchanan Cartoon


Thoroughfare Gap

Thoroughfare Gap

Civil War Thanksgiving

Winslow Home, Civil War Thanksgiving

Cavalry Battle

Cavalry Battle

McClellan's Farewell

McClellan's Farewell



NOVEMBER 29, 1862.]



(Previous Page) to protrude was to expose the gun to injury, and would have required so large a port-hole that a shell might easily have been thrown in by an experienced gunner. To obviate these difficulties, Mr. Ericsson invented a machine, of which, for obvious reasons, we give no description. The following account of the experiment from the Herald will be read with interest:

On arriving at a point opposite Fort Washington the Passaic was headed in toward the western shore of the river, under the towering cliffs of the Palisades, when, selecting an uninhabited spot, it was determined to see the effect against the rocky bulwarks of the noble Hudson. The steamer was stopped, and the 15-inch gun was loaded with twenty pounds of powder and a hollow shot. After the gun was run out to the side of the turret and all was ready, it was fired, the ball ricochetting along the water a few times, then striking the rocks, causing them to fly like so much chaff, followed by a terrible echo, which in its force resembled the explosion of a powder-mill. The noise outside of the turret was terrible, while inside there was no concussion of any account, and the noise certainly did not exceed that which would have been produced by the firing of an ordinary pistol.

Every one was surprised and unwilling at the first trial to say much; all were anxious to see the effect of a full service charge of thirty-four pounds of powder. The gun only recoiled seventeen inches.

Second Firing.—The second time the gun was loaded with thirty-five pounds of powder and a hollow shot. It was fired, recoiling three feet ten inches, producing no unpleasant concussion, and, as before, there was scarcely any smoke in the turret. Several of the spectators who were in the turret at the first firing were outside this time to see the working of the shot, which had been spoken of by those who were outside at the time; but the noise outside was so unpleasant that they preferred to be inside the next time the gun was fired, and accordingly they went in and remained there through the remainder of the firing.

Third Firing—The third time the gun was fired it was charged with thirty-five pounds of powder and a hollow shot. The recoil was only two feet eight inches. The same results were obtained without trouble; in fact it was mach pleasanter inside than outside of the turret. No noise was perceptible tending to discomfort either on the berth-deck or in the engine-room.

Fourth Firing.—The fourth and last time the gun was fired it was charged with thirty-five pounds of powder and a solid shot, the first one fired from a gun of this size with a full service charge. The result was precisely the same, the recoil being only two feet eight inches, and no smoke or noise in the turret.

Thus ended the experiment with the gun, which in every respect was satisfactory. We refrain from giving our foreign friends or the rebels the slightest clew as to how this matter has been accomplished; but suffice it to say that it is the plan of Captain Ericsson, and it now is believed to be as near perfect as any thing mortal man can make.

We will, however, give some of the general points in the workings of these new Monitors, showing their most prominent features.

In the first place, their speed will be sufficient for the purposes for which they were designed. There is no doubt that they will go at the very least nine knots. Secondly, at no time will the guns of the vessel be liable to any damage from the projectiles of the enemy; for the muzzles will not protrude outside of their shield. Thirdly, the number of men to work one of these enormous guns is less than to work an ordinary 11-inch gun on a Marsilly carriage. Three men wilt run out the 15-inch gun, weighing 42,000 pounds (nearly twenty-one tons), as easily as nineteen men work an 11-inch pivot. The English intended to put a fourteen-ton gun in a cupola, but Sir Howard Douglass strenuously opposed such a step, as he believed that they would not be able to get men enough inside to work it. Therefore it never was attempted. One strong person can run out the 15-inch gun while he runs out the 11-inch one, with perfect ease.

In these new Monitor batteries we give not only protection to the men, but to the guns, which, when the vessel has but two, it is very desirable should be protected. The appliance to carry off the concussion and smoke is simple and ingenious, and the Government should take care not to let this secret get out, so as to be used by other Powers. It is a success only second to the conception of the original Monitor.

The Passaic will be ready for sea within a week, and five or six of the other iron-clad Monitors about the same time. It may be taken for granted that the Department will lose no time in putting their merits to the test. Charleston, Savannah, and Mobile will probably hear of them before Christmas.


ON pages 760 and 761 we publish a large picture of McCLELLAN'S PARTING FROM HIS ARMY. The following, from the Herald correspondence, will explain the scene:

This morning it was arranged that he should visit the troops near by, and proceed to Washington by special train in the evening. When just about to go he said, "I can hardly bear to see my soldiers again." Then accompanied by his officers and escort, a magnificent cavalcade, he rode off to take a last farewell of his troops. The infantry and cavalry attached to his head-quarters were tastefully disposed on an adjacent hill. They presented a very soldierly appearance. McClellan rode along the lines, and as he passed enthusiastic cheers spontaneously arose from the ranks. The soldiers could not restrain their controlling admiration for their General. After he had passed along the lines, and was returning toward the hill, General Patrick, commanding the Provost guard at head-quarters, dashed up the crest, and, with cap in hand, led the whole command in three additional tumultuous cheers for General McClellan. The Sturgis Rifles, which have been with him from the time of his first campaign in Western Virginia, gave an extra complimentary cheer, and all the men turned their heads around, and gave one long, last lingering look, while he rode away to bid a similar adieu to other commands.

He then passed through the camps of the reserve artillery. The batteries were all arranged in convenient positions, the cannoneers standing by their guns. The men presented sabres, while the music mingled with their cheers as he passed. The magnificent artillery reserve of the army of the Potomac, which McClellan had organized with so much care, he seemed reluctant to leave it now, when there was an immediate prospect of its efficiency being fully displayed on the field.

It was while riding from here that Burnside, accompanied by a brilliant staff, came dashing across the field and joined him. They shook each other cordially by the hand, and rode together during the remainder of the day. When we reached the turnpike, on either side of which troops are encamped, we witnessed one of the grandest and most effective demonstrations it has over been my fortune to behold. The troops in General Fitz John Porter's corps were marshaled in magnificent array on the right of the road, and those in General Couch's corps on the left. Butterfield's, Sykes's, and Humphrey's divisions, in Porter's corps, were disposed in order, the banners of each command appearing in the centre, close on the road. Hancock's, Howard's, and French's divisions, in Couch's corps, were arranged in a somewhat similar manner, with the artillery of both commands planted on prominent positions. As had been done in the other instances, McClellan's farewell address to his soldiers was read to them just before he passed to personally bid them farewell. As he rode along the turnpike, with head uncovered, between the lines of troops, and followed by the glittering array of officers, fifty thousand of his devoted soldiers, with hearts and voices in perfect unison, and all with one accord, burst forth into the most tumultuous cheering. Along the lines be rode, amidst the continued acclamations of the fifty thousand, while from the distance we would occasionally catch, as though

it were an echo, the sound from the troops we had left behind, and who were cheering yet, long after the General had gone away from the immediate vicinity of his head-quarters. The banners borne by the various regiments were held near the road on either side, and their tattered fragments were fully exposed to view when the General and party passed through the lines of troops. Some of the standards had little but the gold and silver trimmings and the silken fringes left. A greater portion of many of the flags had been shot away in battle under the gallant leadership of General McClellan. Those tattered banners, having inscribed upon them the names of the battles in which the troops had fought victoriously beneath their silken folds, were mute yet most eloquent memorials of the mighty struggles which McClellan's soldiers have passed through. While he rode along the batteries fired salutes, the bands played, and the soldiers cheered; the smoke from the artillery floated in among the perforated banners, and the acclamations of the troops mingled with the martial music of the bands and guns. I can not recall from my experience any occasion on which the enthusiasm manifested by these soldiers has been surpassed.

Passing the end of Porter's and Couch's lines, General McClellan and party proceeded four or five miles further to the place where Franklin's corps was encamped. On the way soldiers followed and cheered him. He was soon near Franklin's corps. His arrival was not expected quite so soon, and the troops were not formed to receive him. But when the soldiers saw him approaching their encampment the color-bearers of the various regiments grasped the Stars and Stripes and the regimental standards, and came dashing down the hills and across the fields, the members of the regiments, without arms, dashing wildly after them. McClellan passed through this mass of soldiers to General Franklin's head-quarters, where he, Burnside, and Franklin, while the latter's troops were being collected and disposed, had a protracted interview.

This ended, the company mounted their horses again, and rode among the troops of Franklin's corps. Smith's division, part formed in line of battle and part in column, greeted McClellan with great enthusiasm. Brooks's division came rushing across the valley in one grand, solid column, with flags floating in the breeze, to meet the retiring General. They flocked around him, discarding entirely every thing concerning the rules of military formation, and, in the most feeling manner, bade him an affectionate farewell. The troops in Newton's division, formed further on, were no less decided and enthusiastic in their demonstrations. It was really wonderful to see how deep was the expression of feeling by the soldiers on this occasion.

Having passed through the lines of all the troops in the vicinity, General McClellan turned his horse's head to go back to his head-quarters, whence he intended proceeding to the train which was waiting to convey him to Washington. Now we witnessed the most affecting scene of all. Until this moment it hardly seemed that their favorite general could leave them. But now he was going from among them—he had already gone. The moment that they fully realized it, all those soldiers, animated by one universal impulse, ran after him, some weeping aloud, and shouted in the most touching and appealing manner, "Fetch him back, fetch him back!" and "Oh, come back to us, come back to us, McClellan!"

As he rode along the turnpike on his return from Franklin's corps, troops under Couch and Porter, which he had passed in regular formation a few hours before, now rushed out from their camp ground, and thronged the roadside anxious to take another last look at their beloved General. Many of them were melted to tears, and after cheering him again and again, joined in the universal supplication, "Come back to us, come back to us, M'Clellan!"


WE publish on page 756 a series of pictures, illustrating the recent march of the army of the Potomac, from sketches by Mr. Theodore R. Davis. The centre picture represents the famous THOROUGHFARE GAP in the Bull Run Mountains, which has figured so largely in the recent campaign. Many a regiment and brigade, loyal and rebel, has tramped through that dark, gloomy cleft in the mountains.

On page 757 we give a picture of the little town of WARRENTON, VIRGINIA, now occupied by our troops. Though, in the course of the present war, Warrenton has frequently changed masters, the little place has not suffered at the hands of either conquerors, and presents many pretty points of view. The LEAVE-TAKING OF McCLELLAN on the stoop of the Warren Green House at Warrenton will naturally attract attention. The ex-Commander of the Army of the Potomac spent a few moments here in shaking hands with some of his officers, and addressed them kindly words of farewell.

Another picture on page 764, by Mr. A. R. Waud, illustrates one of those cavalry skirmishes which are so often reported in the papers. Both the rebels and ourselves constantly keep flying squadrons of cavalry scouring the country, and every now and then they meet, and then comes "the tug of war." It is one of these scenes which Mr. Waud has depicted.


IT does not follow because a man relieves a misfortune that he sympathizes with the sufferer. The stoics, indeed, while they enjoined beneficence, forbade sympathy: according to them, in putting your hand into your pockets you must take care not to disturb the folds of your heart. Rochefoucauld—who certainly was not a stoic, and may rather be considered the most brilliant of the modern followers of Epicurus—appears in this respect to be in agreement with Zeno. In the portrait of himself which he has sketched with the clear broad strokes of a master's hand, he says that "he is little sensible to pity;" that there is nothing he would not do for a sufferer, even to the show of compassion, for the wretched are such fools that the very show of compassion does them all the good in the world. But," adds this polite philosopher, "I hold that one should be contented to show, and guard one's self carefully from feeling, pity: it is a passion good for nothing in a well-constituted mind (au dedans d'une ame bienfaite), which only serves to weaken the heart, and which one ought to leave to the common people, who, doing nothing by reason, have need of passion to induce them to do any thing."

Certainly most of us have known in life persons who are ever ready to perform a charitable action, but from whose lips there never falls the balm of a sympathizing word. They do not even, like Rochefoucauld, simulate the pity which they do not feel. Are you ill, and can not afford a doctor? they will pay for him; are you pining for the anodyne of a tender look? you shrink back more sick at heart than before from the chill of their hard brows.

On the other hand, there are persons whose nervous system is tremulously alive to the aspect of pain; they will give you sigh for sigh, and groan for groan; they sympathize with you sincerely for the moment: as soon as you are out of sight they forget that you exist. Put yourself in their way, and rely upon their sympathy; when out of their way never count upon their aid. Benevolence is not always beneficence. To wish you may be benefited is one thing; to benefit you is another. A man who is beneficent without sympathy, though he may not be a pleasant acquaintance, must be a good man. But a man who is sympathizing without beneficence may be a very bad man. For there is a readiness of sympathy which comes from the impressionability of the physical system—a vibration of the nerves reacting on no chord of duty, and awakening no response in a generous impulse of the heart. And a man may not be the less profoundly wicked because he possesses an excitable nervous temperament.

Alexander Pheraeus, the most ruthless of tyrants, so entered into the sorrows enacted on the stage, that a tragedy moved him to tears. It is to him that Pope alludes in his Prologue to Addison's "Cato:"

"Tyrants no more their savage nature kept,

And foes to virtue wondered why they wept."

Unfortunately Alexander Pheraeus, in spite of his weeping, kept his "nature," which was probably not constitutionally "savage." A man of a temperament readily impressionable, if accompanied, as it generally is, with a lively fancy, brings home to himself the sorrows or the dangers which are represented to his senses, and for the moment realized by his fancy. And thus it may be from fear for himself that a tyrant may weep at the representation of sufferings which, on the stage, depicts the power of Fate over even the crowned head and the sceptred hand. Now the same nervous temperament which is effeminately susceptible to this egotistical kind of sympathy may be very subject to fear; and fear is akin to cruelty. For fear is in the conviction of some weakness in him who feels it compared with the power from which he apprehends an injury; and no saying is more true than that aphorism of Seneca—"Omnis enim ex infirmitate feritas est"—"All cruelty springs from weakness." I think we have a striking example of these propositions in Nero, when his character is metaphysically analyzed. His was the excitable, impulsive, nervous organization—tremulously alive to the effects of music, poetry, the drama, spectacle—emotionally plastic to whatsoever influence appealed for the moment to his senses. Thus, in early youth, a cultivator of the softest arts, and no cause of suspicion and terror yet maddening his restless imagination, he was doubtless sincere when, the sentence on a criminal being brought to him to sign, he exclaimed, piteously, "Vellem nescire literas!"—"Would to Heaven that I had not learned to write?" But the same susceptibility to immediate influences which, when fresh from the contemplation of serene and harmless images, made him impulsively merciful, subjugated him first to sensual pleasures, rendered monstrous in proportion as his imagination, on brooding over them, became itself diseased: and, when the whole character was unmanned by the predominance of the sensual and brutelike over the intellectual and moral elements in man, all that was noblest in manhood, in exciting the internal consciousness of his own infirmity or weakness, excited his fear; for in silently rebuking, they seemed silently to threaten him—and thus the voluptuous trifler was scared into the relentless butcher. Yet, impressionable to immediate circumstance at the last as at the first, all the compassionate softness he had once known for the sentenced criminal, whose doom he had shrunk from signing, returns to settle on himself. When the doom which had shocked his nerves to contemplate for another stands before him as his own, he weeps over his own fate, his hand trembles to inflict it. Just as in his youth sympathy (being nothing more than the vividness with which he could bring home to his fancy the pain to be inflicted on another) made him forget the crime that was to be punished in pity for the criminal that was to be slain, so now he wholly lost sight of his own crimes in the anguish of contemplating his own death. And when, in forgetfulness of empire abused and remembrance of art cultivated, he exclaimed, "What an artist in me is about to perish!"* he explained the enigma of his own nature. Besides the tastes which his hostile historians accord to him in painting and sculpture, and a talent for poetry, which Suetonius is at some pains to vindicate from the charge of plagiarism, eighteen hundred laurel crowns had Athens bestowed on him as a musician! If his career had been a musician's and not an emperor's, he might indeed have been a voluptuary: a musician not unfrequently is; but a soft-tempered, vain, praise-seeking infant of art, studying harmony, and nervously shocked by discord—as musicians generally are.

The great French Revolution abounds with examples more familiar of the strange mixture of sentimental tenderness with remorseless cruelty, which may be found allied in that impressionable nervous temperament as susceptible to the rapport of the present time as a hysterical somnambule is to the will of an electro-biologist.

Many years ago I met with a Frenchman who had been an active, if subordinate, ministrant in the Reign of Terror. In Petitot's Collection of Papers illustrative of that period, we find him warmly commended to Robespierre as a young patriot, ready to


*"Qualis artifex pereo!" Artifex means something more than musician, by which word it is rendered in our current translations, and even something more than artist, by which it is rendered in the text. Artifex means an artificer, a contriver; and I suspect that, in using the word, Nero was thinking of the hydraulic musical contrivance which had occupied his mind amidst all the terrors of the conspiracy which destroyed him—a contrivance that really seems to have been a very ingenious application of science to art, which we might not have lost if Nero had been only an artificer, and not an emperor.

sacrifice on the altar of his country as many heca-tombs of fellow-countrymen as the Goddess of Reason might require. When I saw this ex-official of the tribunal of blood, which was in a London drawing-room, where his antecedents were not generally known, he was a very polite, gray-haired gentleman of the old school of manners, addicted, like Cardinal Richelieu and Warren Hastings, to the composition of harmless verses. I have seldom met with any one who more instantaneously charmed a social circle by his rapid and instinctive sympathy with the humors of all around him —gay with the gay, serious with the serious, easy with the young, caressingly respectful to the old. Fascinated by the charm of his address, a fine lady whispered to me, "This, indeed, is that exquisite French manner of which we have heard so much and seen so little. Nothing nowadays like the polish of the old regime."

Marveling at the contrast between the actions for which this amiable gentleman had been commended to Robespierre and the manners by which he might have seduced the Furies, I could not refrain, in the frankness of my temper at that earlier period of my life, from insinuating the question how a man of so delicate a refinement, and so happy a turn for innocent poems in the style of "Gentil Bernard," could ever have been led away into a participation of what I mildly termed "the excesses of the Revolution."

"Ah," quoth this velvet-pawed tiger, "que voulez-vous?—I always obey my heart! I sympathize with whatever goes on before me. Am I to-day with people who cry 'A bas les aristocrates!' ca me monte le tete! ca m'echauffe le sang! I cry out with them, 'A bas les aristocrates!' Am I to-morrow with people who cry 'A bas la guillotine!"—eh bien! my eyes moisten; I embrace my enemies—I sob out, 'A bas la guillotine!' Sympathy is the law of my nature. Ah, if you had known Monsieur Robespierre!'

"Hem!" said I; "that is an honor I should not have coveted if I had lived in his day. But I have hitherto supposed that Monsieur Robespierre was somewhat unsocial, reserved, frigid; was he, nevertheless, a man whose sins against his kind are to be imputed to the liveliness of his sympathies?"

"Sir, pardon me if I say that you would not have asked that question if you had studied the causes of his ascendency, or read with due attention his speeches. How can you suppose that a man not eloquent, as compared with his contemporaries, could have mastered his audience except by sympathizing with them? When they were for blood, he sympathized with them; when they began to desire the reign of blood to cease, he sympathized also. In his desk were found David's plans for academies for infancy and asylums for age. He was just about to inaugurate the Reign of Love when the conspiracy against him swept him down the closing abyss of the Reign of Terror. He was only a day too late in expressing his sympathy with the change in the public mind. Can you suppose that he who, though ambitious, threw up his profession rather than subscribe to the punishment of death—he whose favorite author was Jean Jacques, 'le plus aimant des hommes'—that he had any inherent propensity to cruelty? No! Cruelty had become the spirit of the time, with which the impressionability of his nervous temperament compelled him to sympathize. And if he were a sterner exterminator than others it was not because he was more cruel than they, but more exposed to danger. And as he identified himself with his country, so self-preservation was in his mind the rigorous duty of a patriot. Wherever you had placed him, Monsieur Robespierre would always have been the man of his day. If he had been an Englishman, Sir, he would have been at the head of all the philanthropical societies —come in for a large constituency on philanthropical principles—and been the most respectable, as he was always the most incorruptible of public men. 'Ce pauvre M. Robespierre! comme il est meconnu!' If he had but lived a month or two longer he would have revived the age of gold!"

Certainly, during that excitable epoch, tenderness of sentiment and atrocity of conduct were not combined in "ce pauvre M. Robespierre" alone. The favorite amusement of one of the deadliest of his fellow-murderers was the rearing of doves. He said that. the contemplation of their innocence made the charm of his existence in consoling him for the wickedness of men. Conthon, at the commencement of the Revolution, was looked upon as the mildest creature to be found out of a pastoral. He had a figure d'ange, heavenly with compassionate tenderness. Even when he had attained to the height of his homicidal celebrity he was carried to the National Assembly or the Jacobite Club (I say carried, for, though young, he had lost the use of his limbs) fondling little lapdogs, which he nestled in his bosom. An anecdote is told of one of his confreres, who was as fatal to men and as loving to dogs as himself, that when a distracted wife, who had pleaded to him in vain for her husband's life, in retiring from his presence, chanced to tread on his favorite spaniel's tale, he exclaimed, "Good heavens, Madame! have you then no humanity?"

In these instances of tenderness for brutes we see the operation of that sympathy which, being diverted from men, still must have a vent, and lavishes itself on the inferior races, to whom its sentimental possessor shows all kindness, because from them he apprehends no mischief. We need not, however, resort to the annals of the French Revolution for examples of this warped direction of pity or affection. Every day we see venerable spinsters who delight in the moral murder of scandal, and guillotine a reputation between every cup of tea, yet full of benignant charities to parrots, or dogs, or cats, or monkeys. Those venerable spinsters were, no doubt, once fond-hearted little girls, and, while in their teens, were as much shocked at the idea of assassinating the character of pretty woolen and poisoning the honor of unsuspecting hearths as they are now at the barbarity of pinching Fidele's delicate paw or singeing Tabitha's inoffensive whiskers.




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