South Mountain Poem


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, October 25, 1862

This Site features an archive of the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. This resource contains invaluable illustrations and reports written by eye-witnesses within hours of the events depicted.

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




South Mountain

South Mountain Poem

Lee's Order #116

Lee's Order # 116

Maryland Campaign

Lee's Maryland Campaign

Battle of South Mountain

Battle of South Mountain

Battle Map of Kentucky

Battle Map of Kentucky

Map of Maryland Rebel Raid

Map of Rebel Raid in Maryland

Maryland Rebel Campaign

Rebel Campaign in Maryland

Lincoln in Frederick, Maryland

Abraham Lincoln in Frederick Maryland

Rebel General Polk

General Polk

Lincoln's Speech Frederick, Maryland

Lincoln's Speech in Frederick, Maryland

General Polk Biography

General Polk Biography

Horatio Seymour

Horatio Seymour Cartoons

Antietam Battle Field

Antietam Battle Field




[OCTOBER 25, 1862.



LIKE plates of brassy armor

The yellow plowed lands lay Upon the valley's bosom

For leagues and leagues away. Along them shines and shimmers

The lazy moving stream,

As o'er a child's soft bosom

The idle ribbons gleam.

The mountain's velvet helmet

Nods darkly on her crest,

As though some untold passion

Was trembling in her breast.

The green leaves chant together

A weird and mystic strain,
And the feathery tenants mingle

Their notes in the wild refrain.

The shadows sweep o'er the valley

Like an evanescent blot,

That seems like a holy feeling

Begrimed with an impure thought. —'Twas thus lay the quiet valley

And the sentry hills held sway,

Ere the bugle notes scared the song-birds,

Or the reveille woke the day.

And now was the smiling Sabbath,

And the sweet-tongued meeting bells Rang out like an incense wafted

O'er listening hills and dells.

The soldiers catch the cadence

Borne out on the distant air,

And it comes to their weary spirits

Like the thought of an angel's prayer.

But vain the holy summons—

The prayer remains unsaid,

The singer's lips are silent,

The sermon lies unread;

While long and dusty columns

Of sun-browned troops file by,

Nerved by the rigid purpose

To win the day—or die!

Along the paths of the mountain

Moves up the dark-blue line,

The gun-wheels grind o'er the boulders,

The burnished bayonets shine.

Way up in the leafy covert

The curling smoke betrays

Where the foe throw down the gauntlet,

And the answering cannons blaze.

The crack of the Minie rifle,

The shriek of the crashing shell,

The ring of the flashing sabre,

Their tale of the conflict tell.

They tell of the dear lives lying,

War's food in Nature's lap,

Ere the Starry Flag in triumph

Waves through the Mountain Gap.

Night drops her pitying mantle

To hide the bloody scene—

Next morn a thousand dead men Mark where the foe had been.

And where the fight was hottest

Two mangled corpses lay,

One clad in bright blue jacket,

And one in homespun gray.

Their hands are clasped together,

Their bloody bosoms show

Each fought with a dauntless purpose,

And fell 'neath each other's blow! They fell, and the crimson mingled,

And before the paling eye

Back rolled the storm of the conflict

To the peaceful days gone by.

Emit thought of the mystic token—

The talismanic sign;

Each recognized a Brother!

Two firm right hands entwine! The fire of the noble order

Touched not their hearts in vain.

All hate fades out, uniting

Two hearts with the triple chain!


ANTIETAM CREEK, October, 1862.


WE reproduce on the preceding page a picture by M. Beauce, which represents GARIBALDI WOUNDED AND A PRISONER. Every one remembers that Garibaldi, who was at the head of a small band of followers, was attacked at Aspromonte by the Neapolitan forces and taken prisoner. He was conveyed to Spezia by his captors, and placed in the hands of surgeons for his wounds, which are severe. It is not yet known what disposition will be made of him. When he arrived at Spezia one of our consuls addressed him a letter inquiring whether he would accept a command in our army in case it should be tendered him. He immediately replied that, being wounded and a prisoner, he could not yet dispose of his future movements; but that if he regained his strength and his liberty he would at once offer his sword to the United States, which was fighting for freedom throughout the world.




HORATIO SEYMOUR, the Democratic candidate for Governor of this State, has arrayed himself fairly and squarely in opposition to the President's proclamation or freedom, and claims the votes of the people of this State in virtue of that opposition. Citizens who now support him imply by their support that they are opposed to the United States Government, on the most vital question of its policy, at the most imminent crisis in the history of the nation. To use the words of Mr. John Van Buren, at the meeting on 13th, supporters of Horatio Seymour consider "the Government of the United States the most contemptible failure in the shape of a Government in the world;" and pronounce that, in their judgment, "the Southern people ought not to live under an abolition sway." In other words, men who vote for Seymour mean by that vote that they hate and despise their own Government, the Government of Abraham Lincoln; that they are opposed, in the crisis of a desperate war, to the most vital measures of policy adopted by that Government; and that they find much more justification for the rebellion of the Southern people than for the North's resolute and constitutional exercise and defense of its political rights. The issue is fairly and squarely made.

Men who are in favor of supporting the Government honestly and manfully; of maintaining the political system handed down to us by our fathers, and of preserving intact in its integrity the Union which a band of desperadoes at the South have endeavored to destroy, will give expression to their views by voting for WADSWORTH.

Men who are opposed to the Government of the United States; who can find excuses for the rebels, but none for the chosen rulers of the country; who have a hundred schemes for destroying and remodeling, but not one for simply maintaining the Union of our fathers; men whose secret sympathies are at this dreadful hour with the enemies of their country and the perjured traitors at Richmond: these men will vote for SEYMOUR.

It has been suggested that, in view of the unequivocal indications of the election of Wadsworth, Mr. Seymour should resign, and leave the course clear to his opponent. The Democratic leaders scout the notion, and we are very glad they do. We should like to see precisely how many people in this State agree with Mr. John Van Buren in deeming "the Government of the United States the most contemptible failure in the shape of a government in the world," and in pronouncing that "the Southern people ought not to live under an abolition sway." We want to ascertain how many citizens of the State of New York deem this a fit moment for dividing the North, opposing the Government, and holding out to the rebels hopes of support in their rebellion. We want to separate the sheep from the goats, and to see where we stand. By no means let Mr. Seymour resign. By running he will render the country a signal service.

The eyes of the rebel leaders at Richmond are fixed upon the contest in this State with perhaps even more intensity than upon the contest in Kentucky or on the banks of the Potomac. They know that, notwithstanding the temporary successes which accident has enabled them to achieve this summer, the result of the contest is as certain as fate, if its solution be left exclusively to the sword. It may take more time than the sanguine people of the North once hoped. But it is none the less certain, and the rebels know it. Their only hope now is that the Government of the United States may be paralyzed by divisions at home. If a party can be elected to power in the great State of New York whose leaders unanimously avow greater aversion for the United States Government than for the armed rebels; who wholly or partially justify the rebellion, and denounce the Government of the United States as an intolerable despotism. the hopes of Jeff Davis and his colleagues will be revived, their drooping spirits cheered, their armies encouraged to prosecute the flagging contest. For such an event as the election as Governor of this State of one who is identified with the rebel sympathizers, would signify to the foreign world that the temper of the North was undergoing a change, and that the British prediction—that we would tire of the enterprise of subjugating the South—was becoming verified. If any thing would justify intervention, this would do it. Europe could say to us, "Not only does the South desire us to interfere, but the greatest and most populous State of the North practically calls upon us likewise, by electing to office a man who is opposed to your Government; opposed to the policy which you are about to initiate, and whose leading supporters justify the rebellion." What could we say in reply?

In what condition should we find our country next January if Seymour should be elected? Whatever Mr. Seymour may say, how could he

possibly give a hearty or even any kind of support to a Government which he and his supporters denounce as an "atrocious despotism," "the most contemptible failure in the world," "a band of thieves and robbers?" etc., etc. And how could the war be prosecuted if the chief State of the North refused to support the Government; declined to forward troops, and placed itself in the attitude which Kentucky occupied eighteen months ago? Does Horatio Seymour expect to be able to play the part of Beriah Magoffin in the heart of the loyal North?



THE speech of Mr. Richard O'Gorman, some ten days ago, will bring a pang to many a breast he did not mean to wound. For some twelve years he has lived in this country, but has been publicly known only as a most polished and charming orator upon occasions which were not political. At last he breaks this public political silence of twelve years by a fiery denunciation of the Government and its policy, and an eloquent lament over the happy days when the freedom of person, of speech, and of the press were absolutely respected. He eulogizes the "high and progressive civilization" we enjoyed two years ago; and decries the despotism which, in a time of tremendous civil war, exercises the solemn Constitutional right of suspending the habeas corpus.

Mr. O'Gorman's speech itself refutes its assertion that the right of speech is destroyed; and his picture of the condition of this city, as it appears to him at this moment, in the very crisis of this terrible national struggle for existence, was the permanent condition in peace of the whole region now in open rebellion. Under the "high and progressive civilization" of two years ago the present rebels nullified the Constitution. Now they are trying to destroy it. Does the orator know that he praises the Constitutional reverence of a time when an innocent free citizen of one State could be enslaved forever with his posterity by the law of another?—a time when no State or national authority protected a man in his plainest rights under the Constitution?—a time when the Constitution of the United States was openly and shamelessly violated in time of perfect peace?

Of course crime does not excuse crime. Violation then would not excuse violation now. But that is the time of constitutional felicity which the orator selects for his praises. During all those years the constant outrage could not loosen his tongue. Not only was the outrage itself flagrant, but its cause was damnable, for the Constitution was violated to sustain slavery. Even at the North the sacred right of speech was threatened by mobs; but still this voice was silent. The tragedy of Kansas not only revealed the most wicked and inhuman contempt of the Constitution, but showed the imminence of the loss of all constitutional guarantees. But this voice had not a word of reproach, or complaint, or grief. Exiled from his native land for loving liberty, the orator saw the fundamental safeguard of all liberty in his adopted country scorned and destroyed by the fierce will of a most cruel despotism; but he saw unmoved. Good men, patriots, the heroes of liberty every where looked on in alarm, and feared for the hope of humantiy. The Despotism openly threatened to destroy the Constitution which it already nullified: and the voice was silent, and the hand doubtless gave it the aid of a vote. At last that savage despotism sprang at the nation's throat, to complete its victory and subjugate the Constitution in every Free State as it had already done at home. The nation, desperately struggling, declares that it will take all necessary steps of war, since war has been forced upon it; that it will, in this great stress, suspend temporarily some rights that it may secure the permanent enjoyment of all rights; and then, at last, this voice breaks silence—storms out into passionate music, and declares that those by whose consent the Constitution was shamelessly outraged are alone fit to save it from destruction! Guaranteed rights might be trampled upon—liberty lost—the laws defied—the Constitution nullified—the Union mortally threatened—the nation in a deathstruggle—and the eye was cold and the tongue silent. But from the wild turmoil let some illusive gleam of hope burst forth that his party might recover power, and the orator lends his fervid tongue to the destroyer.

" Who but must laugh if such a man there be?

Who would not weep if Atticus were he?"


THE question of foreign intervention is one that will properly continue to interest the public mind until the end of the war. It is beyond dispute that France wishes to intervene, but can not persuade England. How long the argument may continue before it is successful is a matter of speculation. But the two points of the argument are well understood.

The first is the conviction that, in case of our success, coming from victory flushed and furious with a huge military organization in good working order, we shall instantly demand of Great Britain an explanation of her passive hostility toward us in our misfortunes. In other words, that upon our domestic settlement war with England is inevitable; and that it is wise for her to prevent it, by stepping in and forcing a settlement which will be founded upon separation.

The second point of the argument for intervention is, that we are both heartily tired of the war, at the North and South, and that we shall secretly hail a sufficient excuse for ending it. We are held by foreign observers to be in the condition of duelists, who have exchanged a round of shots and whose seconds and witnesses interfere. The belligerents, of course, will not listen. Not they.

They can each be satisfied only with the heart's-blood of the other. But after all, they are very well content when the spectators insist and actually separate them.

These are views seriously entertained by foreign statesmen, and by foreigners among us, and it is to the influence of such convictions that we must look for the chances of intervention. The foreign horoscope of the inevitable result of the war undoubtedly is separation or anarchy. Peace, order, and law can be secured, in the opinion of Europe, only by speedy separation. In the interest of civilization, of society, and of government, therefore, the foreign mind believes intervention to be essential.

It seems impossible to show Europe that the only two possible results of this war are, either the unconditional victory of the rebellion, which is dissolution of the Union, destruction of the Government, and universal anarchy—or else the unconditional victory of the Government, whereby the rebels lay down their arms, and submit, willingly or unwillingly, to the laws, and seek their ends, if they still desire them, according to the Constitution.

There is no middle ground. Separation of the States is National death, and is as much the triumph of the rebellion as Jeff Davis installed in the White House as President of the Union. The aim of the rebellion is to change the Government by force of arms. That of the Government is to maintain itself intact. But if it concedes any part to the armed demand, it surrenders the whole principle. For when another rebellion demands another concession there is no reason why it should not be made; until at last the very form of the Government would have perished with its spirit.

If any one should object that this does not follow, any more than the destruction of the British Government followed the conceded independence of the American colonies, the reply is that the relation of Britain to her colonies does not resemble that of the National Government to the United States citizens. If you wish to have the exact parallel, consider what would be the position of the Government of Great Britain if it should, after a tremendous struggle to maintain its authority over Kent or Yorkshire, concede the separation and independence of those counties. Would the British Government, in any candid sense, longer exist? Could it with any reason, or with any hope of success, refuse the claim of any other county to retire?

Intervention, by the confession of foreigners who frankly discuss it, means separation. That is to say, it is the armed alliance of whatever powers undertake it with the rebels. The condition of the alliance is, that they shall fight for the cause of the rebels. That cause is the establishment of a new political power in the world founded upon slavery; and that power takes its origin in the conviction of its subjects that they had a right to break away from their old political community, not because of injuries suffered without hope of legal redress, which is the only plea of forcible revolution, but simply because they feared that the normal development of that community would peacefully eliminate slavery.

Nations are governed by their interest; but national and individual interest is never dissevered from certain moral principles in human nature. If Great Britain thinks her interest will be served by drawing the sword in the cause of such a power she will do it. But she will never sheathe it again as the nation she now is.


THE response of Europe to the President's Proclamation is near at hand, if it be not already audible when these lines are printed. It will be a yell of affected horror and lofty indignation. Alas! nothing will please that unhappy Europe. It is so determined that we shall go to pieces that it is impatient of our reluctance. "Why don't you die? Why, in the naughty name, don't you disappear? You're all gone. You've always been a sham, and now you are a ridiculous warning. Just be buried as soon as possible." This is the tone in which Europe comments upon our struggle.

A few weeks since we were languid, in the high European estimation. We were a set of play-actors. Our war was a melodrama. We did not mean to do any thing. We had no earnestness, no purpose, no policy. The excellent Confederates, however, really meant something. They were fervid and vigorous and united.

Now we shall hear that we are ferocious, blood-thirsty, and barbarous; that the interests of civilization and humanity require the preservation of a system which denies every right and practices every enormity to turn men into beasts. We shall hear that we confess we could not fairly conquer in honorable warfare, and have therefore appealed to the most fearful means. We shall hear that we have made ferocity take the place of heroism, and massacre that of honorable battle, and that we have merely supplied another and more stringent reason for the desperate and unconquerable unity of the enemy. We shall hear that the result was doubtful before, and is hopeless now, etc., etc.

Meanwhile, in the midst of the tantara, the Government of the United States has, as it has had, but one duty, to suppress this rebellion in the most sudden, swift, and overwhelming manner. It can not use too many means, nor kill it too dead.


MR. CASSIUS M. CLAY was born in a slave State, and early convinced that slavery was wrong, he has manfully advocated emancipation in Kentucky; and has been universally known as one of the most valiant of the anti-slavery orators. He is a man of indomitable courage, and his purely heroic career has compelled the admiration of many who differ from his views. But like all ardent and sincere men, whose moral convictions are not tempered with practical wisdom, Mr. Clay frequently puts the cause he adopts in a ludicrous or repulsive light.

When upon his journey to Russia, as our minister, he wrote a letter to the London Times and made a (Next Page)




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