Southern Reaction to Emancipation Proclamation


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, October 18, 1862

This Site features online versions of all the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. This archive serves as a valuable resource for those wishing to develop a more in depth understanding of the important events of the Civil War.

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Franz Sigel

General Sigel

Southern Reaction to Emancipation Proclamation

Southern Reaction to Emancipation Proclamation

South Reacts to Emancipation proclamation

South Reacts to Emancipation Proclamation


Shelbyville, Tennessee


Williamsport, Maryland

Antietam Aftermath

Battle of Antietam Aftermath

General Nelson

General Nelson

Murder of General Nelson

Murder of General Nelson

Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky

Blockade Runners

Captured Blockade Runners

Antietam Pictures

Pictures of the Battle of Antietam






[OCTOBER 18, 1862.



MAJOR-GENERAL FRANZ SIGEL, whose portrait we give on the preceding page, was born at Baden, in Germany, in 1824, and is consequently thirty-eight years of age at the present time. He was educated at the military school at Carlsruhe, closed his course with honors, and obtained a high position in the army of his country. In the year 1847 he was esteemed by his brother officers the most scientific artillerist in Germany. When the rebellion broke out he took sides with the insurgents, lost his commission, and took service with the popular party. At one time he was in chief command of the popular army, and managed by a skillful retreat, in which he led away 30,000 men from a pursuing army of 80,000, and saved all his guns and trains, to elicit the warm eulogiums of the oldest soldiers in Europe. At the overthrow of the rebellion Sigel emigrated to this country.

Here he engaged in teaching, and fairly settled down to the dull life of a professor, and married the daughter of the principal of his academy. About the year 1858 he obtained a position in a college at St. Louis, and removed thither. When the rebellion broke out he tendered his services to the Government, and was given the command of the 2d Regiment of Union Volunteers, raised in St. Louis. He was soon appointed Brigadier-General, and accompanied General Lyon on his famous campaign against Price. At the battle of Springfield, where Lyon was killed, Sigel succeeded to the command; and withdrew our little army with skill and success. He subsequently commanded a corps throughout the bloodless campaign under Fremont; and when General Curtis was detached to operate in Arkansas, Sigel led one of his divisions. It is understood that he planned and won the great battle of Pea Ridge almost against the wishes of his superior, General Curtis. After the battle some difficulty about commands arose, and Sigel was called to Washington and given the command of Harper's Ferry. On the organization of the Army of Virginia a place was created for him by the resignation of General Fremont, and he accordingly took command of his army corps. In all the terrible battles which Pope fought in order to delay the advance of Lee against Washington Sigel took an active part. At the Rappahannock his cannon incessantly thundered; and though the enemy outnumbered him by at least five to one, he held them at bay until McClellan's army arrived at Washington. When the Army of Virginia was merged into the Army of the Potomac Sigel was given the command of the Twelfth Army Corps, and is now moving in the direction of Warrenton and Gordonsville, apparently in order to cut off the retreat of the rebels.

General Sigel is universally admitted to be a splendid officer, and is enthusiastically loved by the German troops. It is to be hoped that General Halleck will give him a suitable force.




THE iron is at last entering the rebels' soul. The blustering braggarts who insulted the spirit of the age by attempting to destroy the noblest Government on earth, and to rear up on its ruin a hideous deformity modeled on the pattern of the kingdoms of Ashantee and Dahomey: the sham chivalry who sickened Christendom by their pretensions, while they were living on the labor of 4,000,000 unpaid servants: the barbarous creatures, who thrust our prisoners into new Black Holes of Calcutta, and dug up our dead soldiers' bodies to make rings and drinking-cups and keepsakes of their poor bones: these monstrous products of the system of slavery are at length realizing the gulf into which they have plunged. Ordinary language fails to provide expletives for their wrath: there is no precedent in history fierce enough for the policy they are going to adopt. They call Mr. Lincoln an "ape," a "fiend," a "beast," a "savage," a "highwayman." Their Congress is resolved into a dozen committees, each trying to devise some new form of retaliation to be inflicted upon United States citizens and soldiers, if we dare to carry the proclamation into effect, and tamper—to use the words of the Richmond Enquirer—with "four thousand millions' worth of property!" They are going to hoist the black flag. They are going to put to death not only soldiers on the battle- field, but every Northerner found on Southern soil. Some they are going to try by courts-martial. But it doesn't seem that that is to benefit them much; for the end of the trial is to be death. No one has yet suggested torture before execution; but that will probably come. It will be nothing new in parts of the South.

Well: all this fuss and fury over, what then? As to the black flag, the rebel soldiers will have something to say about that. At the recent battle of Antietam a Louisiana Regiment was almost exterminated. One of our soldiers explained the circumstance to a visitor. "You see, Sir, the other day at South Mountain that regiment charged with the cry of 'No quarter;' so when our boys met them again we let them have it a little hotter than usual, and there was hardly a corporal's guard of 'em escaped." A lesson or two of this kind will show these insane warriors in the rebel Congress that departures from the regular laws of warfare cut both ways. If the game of murder is to be played,

there will be two parties to play at it, and twice as many players on our side as on theirs.

As to negro insurrections. When this war first broke out it was commonly supposed that the negroes would rise at the South. This expectation has not been fulfilled. There have been negro insurrections. But they have been so promptly and so thoroughly suppressed that they exercised no appreciable influence on the war. The very fact of the war, and of the wholesale military organization of the Southern people, have rendered insurrection much less likely to be successful than it ever was. The slaves are unarmed and unorganized; the whites are under arms and thoroughly organized. Every town and village at the South contains more or less companies of armed troops—amply sufficient to put down insurrection in the neighborhood. Now the proclamation will no more alter this state of things than the Pope's Bull altered the course of the comet. What it will effect will be to destroy utterly and forever the legal tenure of slavery in the rebel States, and to deprive the slaveholders, wherever our armies go, of the peculiar property on whose behalf they made war upon us, and for whose protection they desire to erect a separate government. In point of fact, the slaves, when freed, are much more likely to trouble us than their old masters. We shall have to feed them until some new organization of their labor can be effected. They are not at all likely to attempt to massacre their old masters—unless, indeed, those masters should be foolish enough to try to massacre them. All the bugaboo stories about the slaughter of women and children are mere moonshine, intended to affect opinion in Europe. Even in San Domingo the negroes did not begin to kill the whites until they were satisfied the whites intended to exterminate them. If the rebel leaders are so afraid of their wives and children being massacred, why did they publish the proclamation in their papers? If there was really any danger of the kind, does any body believe that the negroes would have been so openly invited to commence the work of massacre?

The thing, the only thing, which the rebels do fear is the loss of "four thousand millions of property." The chivalry see that after 1st January, if the rebellion lasts, they will have to work for their living, instead of fattening on the unpaid labor of four millions of blacks. This is the awful prospect which unmans them. It is this which convulses the rebel newspapers, and has thrown their Congress into paroxysms of anguish.


A FEW days since the President was induced, by representations from Western politicians, to remove General Buell from the command of his army, and appoint General Thomas in his place. The change was no sooner made known to the latter than he at once declined to accept the command, and telegraphed to Washington earnestly begging that General Buell be retained, and assuring the Government that no better man for the place could be found in the army. The reply to his telegram was an order reinstating General Buell.

A few days previously, shortly after the return of General McClellan from the peninsula, and when men's faith in the hitherto popular General had been shaken, the powers at Washington were casting about for a new chief for the Army of the Potomac. It is understood that their first choice was General Wright, who was killed at Centreville. Next they turned to Burnside, and offered him the command. He promptly declined it. With characteristic modesty he questioned his own fitness for so responsible a station, and he declared, as his own and the soldiers' conviction, that the very best possible man for the command was McClellan. Accordingly, General McClellan was reinstated, and the battles of South Mountain and Antietam were won.

There is nothing finer in history than the lofty examples of patriotism and self-sacrifice thus given by Generals Burnside and Thomas. It is refreshing to find that, even in our day, when politicians are disgracing the country by their selfish intrigues and squabbles, there are men who can afford to surrender for the sake of the public good what must always be the dearest prize of ambition. The war will not have been in vain if its fire purges men's souls of some of the dross of peace, and develops more noble acts like these. Burnside, commanding an army corps when he might have led the whole army, and stoutly refusing to be elevated at the expense of McClellan; Thomas, promptly telegraphing to Washington to decline the honor that is dearest to his heart, because he would not do injustice to Buell: these are the men, these the acts that will live in history, and which future generations will love to recall as evidences of the spirit which animated men in the terrible crisis of 1862.



THE speeches of Andrew Jackson Hamilton, of Texas, are so clear, manly, and convincing, that it is to be hoped every citizen in the loyal States will

ponder them well. Mr. Hamilton was born in Alabama, and was a late representative in Congress from Texas. He is a Southerner and a slave-holder. But he believes in something besides slavery; and values the Union and the freedom of its inhabitants more than he does a system which is, has been, and always will be, essentially incompatible with republican government.

"I do not wish," he says, "the Union-as-it-was in Texas." Why? Because he dislikes the Constitution-as-it-is? Far from it. But because in the Union-as-it-was in Texas, the Constitution-as-it-is was constantly trampled under foot, and the very objects of the Union despised and outraged. "Because, in short," as Mr. Hamilton says, "because I might say what Washington said, believing it; what Jefferson Wrote, and what all the good and great men of that day believed; and under the Union-as-it-was in Texas I should be stigmatized as a traitor, and meet a traitor's doom. If I can enjoy the right of speech, the great and inestimable right intended to be secured to me by the Constitution, then I can bless the Union." But a Union that gags him, and hangs him for claiming his constitutional rights, is a Union that he curses and does not bless. And who does? Who does?

Let every man remember that the loud-mouthed bayers for the Union-as-it-was do not mean the Constitution-as-it-is. Its most sacred provisions were outraged in every State now rebellious. No man's life was safe below Mason and Dixon's line who exercised the right, guaranteed to him by the Constitution, of saying what he thought upon public affairs: He was insulted, hunted, hung. Mr. Hamilton tells the terrible tale for Texas. Nor only that, but free citizens and voters in the loyal States were seized and sold into perpetual slavery; and when Massachusetts sent a venerable lawyer to discuss the question before the Carolina Courts, he was mobbed and forced to fly.

Grant that citizens used their constitutional right of speech in a manner "distasteful" to a certain class in the South. What then? Is the Constitution of the United States subject to the "taste" of a body of slaveholders? Was the simple plea of any speaker for the natural rights of man more "distasteful" to a certain class at the South than a speech of Yancey in a Northern State telling us that he and his friends would, of course, hang us if we spoke at the South as he did at the North, and that if he and his friends could not have their way, they would break up the Union? He was protected, and properly, by the Constitution in saying what he had to say. But if the "taste" of his audience had done what Southern "taste" always did in the Union-as-it-was, Mr. Yancey would have been suddenly dumped into the nearest slave State, or he would have been —! So the Constitution protected, and properly, the man who was brought from Tennessee as the grandson of Patrick Henry, and who driveled to honest and hard-working laboring men of the extreme happiness of slaves, and the immense delight for hard-working men and women of having their babies sold at auction.

Does any body suppose that the wretched stuff of this kind, insulting to humanity and common sense, which was so freely spouted by slavery-orators every where, was "tasteful" to the people of the Free States? No; but its free expression was a guaranteed right of the people of this country under the Constitution, and that right was perfectly respected. Yes, and often the right of saying such things was more respected than that of expressing faith in the Declaration of Independence. Mr. Yancey could say without danger any where in the Free States, "I am for dissolving the Union to save Slavery." But if Mr. Phillips said "I am for dissolving the Union to save Liberty," he was in personal danger.

From that kind of Union-as-it-was, in which the most sacred rights and the clearest provisions of the Constitution-as-it-is were outraged and violated, Mr. Hamilton, a slaveholder of Texas, desires to be delivered. So says he; so say we all. Amen, Amen.


THE honest and sober citizen will not fail to remark that the politicians at the North who strenuously supported the rebels when they threatened to destroy the Government, and who advised the people and the Government to surrender to their threats, are now equally anxious about what they call Constitutional rights and a Constitutional conduct of the war. They mean simply, as every body knows, such a conduct of the war as will leave slavery untouched. The Constitutional right of a rebel to his life they are willing to forego, but his Constitutional right to his slaves they insist upon protecting with an edifying ardor. Now as the right of a citizen to his life is the chief and most sacred of all his rights, why is it that the politicians find it Constitutional enough to kill him if in armed rebellion, but fearfully unconstitutional to liberate his slaves whom he compels to aid him in his rebellion?

Simply because these politicians are solely anxious for the preservation of their party, not of their country. They know that if the rebellion is suppressed and slavery is saved, they are sure of the political support of the entire slave interest which controls the South. And they equally know that, if the rebellion succeeds and the slave States secede, they (the politicians) have a political capital upon which to begin the agitation for reconstruction. But if in the process of suppression slavery disappears, these same gentlemen know that their political ambition is forever defeated.

It is not the welfare of the Union, nor the Constitution, nor the country, which inspires them, but their own political predominance. When they thought it necessary for the maintenance of that predominance to support those who threatened the Government, and the Union, and the country, in case of the constitutional election of a President they did not like, they did not hesitate to give that support, and thereby to threaten the Government.

Now when they think that a truly earnest and constitutional conduct of the war, including emancipation, imperils their political future, they do not hesitate to denounce that conduct. Their sole interest is themselves. Their only care is their party.

But the Government which they denounce—the Government which can not constitutionally be changed for two years and a half, has not taken party ground. Loyal men of all parties are in its honored employ to-day. In too many cases its desire to be truly impartial and patriotic has caused the retention of utterly unfit civil and military officers. The Government elected by a party has aimed only at the preservation of the Union, and not at the perpetuity of the party. In the interest of the Union, of the country, and of the Constitution, it has issued a military order of prospective emancipation.

In the interest of their party the politicians denounce it. Which is dearest to the sober citizen, to whatever party he may have belonged, the success of a party or the salvation of the country? If the former, he will support the politicians. If the latter, he will support, with all his soul and all his strength, the Government constitutionally elected.


"BUT when you talk of severe measures and a vigorous prosecution of the war, do you not forget that the rebels are our fellow-citizens, with whom, when we have subdued the rebellion, we must live as fellow-citizens still?"

No; it is not in the least forgotten. But while they have been and shall yet be fellow-citizens, they are now desperate conspirators and rebels. The first duty, as also the most pressing necessity of the Government, is the overwhelming and speedy suppression of the rebellion. For the possible future peace of the country, and for our living together at all, that is the paramount duty of the hour. Killing them, overrunning their estates, destroying as an army necessarily destroys, shelling their camps and their towns, if necessary; seizing their property for the use of the army, and to help pay the expense of the war they have waged against the Government; liberating their slaves who reach our lines, and at last freeing all slaves, that the rocking foundations of their industrial system may strike a panic to their hearts—all these measures are not gentle. They do not win affection although they do compel respect, as power always does. They certainly exasperate and embitter. But they are war; and war never makes immediate friends.

To call men who have risen in arms against this Government without a shadow of right or excuse—for the debate upon slavery was just as constitutional as that upon a tariff or a bank—and who have pursued that purpose by every dishonorable and bloody means—who have filled with anguish hundreds of thousands of hearts and homes—who have paralyzed the prosperity of a great nation, and, for a moment, affrighted the hope of humanity and civilization—to call these men "our erring Southern brethren" is to mock the agony of a nation and insult common sense.

But they are to be our fellow-citizens? Well, suppose they are. They are to be so only when they have satisfied themselves that they are not strong enough to break away and disown us. They are to be made our fellow-citizens in the future by conquest, by subjugation. Pray for what other purpose have we hundreds of thousands of men in arms, ships of war, and tremendous artillery? For what other purpose did we kill and wound thirty thousand of them, as General McClellan reports, at Antietam? Why have there been a hundred thousand of them disabled in the hospital at Richmond? Simply because they do not yet believe that we mean what we say, when we declare that the Union shall be maintained. For the Union we know is the nation; and to destroy the Union is to ruin the nation.

The rebels are to be forced at the point of the bayonet to be our future fellow-citizens. That is the result to which every loyal man looks forward. They are not to be conciliated, nor wheedled, nor bamboozled. They are to he starved and shot and maimed and impoverished and exposed in every way until they submit. There is but one other result of the war. There can be but one. And that is, that we shall be starved and shot and maimed and impoverished and hurt in every way until we are tired out and surrender.

Under these circumstances—and there are no other—what is the obvious condition of their consenting to be our fellow-citizens? Simply that further resistance now and future insurrection shall be clearly hopeless. If we patch up an armistice, a truce, a peace, we shall be merely Samson treacherously fondled to sleep by Delilah. Let us stop before the work is done, and we shall have it all to do over again. Leave a chance, a hope, a nucleus of future rebellions, and our "fellow-citizens" will again rebel.

It is, therefore, for the very reason that we bear in mind that they are, at every cost, to be our future fellow-citizens that the most stringent measures are the most conservative. The great point is to show the rebels that they inevitably must be fellow-citizens, and they do not believe it while we pat them and play war. If the popular mind had justified, as it did not, upon the breaking out of the rebellion, the employment of every power and resource of the Government, and every recognized means of war, the peace we all desire had been long ago conquered, and thousands of the brave and true, whom we shall see no more, would have hailed with us the dawn of that day in which, the seed of war being destroyed, we can indeed become fellow-citizens.


THE rebel Virginian Governor Letcher's late diatribe against the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad as a "nuisance" that ought to be abated recalls irresistibly the famous outburst of the old Virginian colonial Governor Berkeley, in 1671: "I thank (Next page)




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