The Battle of Baton Rouge

 

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Civil War Harper's Weekly, September 6, 1862

Welcome to our online archive or original Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers. We feel confident that this collection will be a valuable resource for your study and research. This information is simply not available anywhere else!

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

 

Iron Clad

Iron Clad

Slave Colonization Plan

Lincoln's Slave Colonization Plan

Letter from Lincoln to Horrace Greeley

Lincoln's Letter to Horace Greeley

Women

Women in the Civil War

Battle of Baton Rouge

The Battle of Baton Rouge

Balloon

Reconnaissance Balloon

Army of the Potomac at Yorktown

Army of the Potomac at Yorktown

Rebel Cartoon

Rebel Cartoon

Battle of Baton Rouge

Battle of Baton Rouge

Essex

The "Essex"

Yorktown

The Army of the Potomac at Yorktown

Civil War Women

Civil War Women

 

 

SEPTEMBER 6, 1862.]

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

571

mental torture, at length regained his calm. But never more, for him, such fearful championship!

A broad distinction, of course, lies between cases of mere cerebral excitement and such as we have before adduced. Hallucinations are as fully recognized, if not quite so common, as colds in the head. Few of those who must have noticed the twitch or toss of the head peculiar to the late eminent counsel, Mr. B—, were aware that it was engendered by a perpetual vision of a raven perched on his left shoulder. A gentleman now residing in Broadway, New York, transacts business daily under the immediate supervision of his great-uncle, who, in a laced coat and ruffles, occupies a large arm-chair placed expressly to receive the honored vision.

MANNERS MAKE THE MAN.

WE have lately stumbled on two compendious little works, entitled "The Gentleman's" and "Lady's Manual of Modern Etiquette," which profess to embody the latest edition of the code of manners observed in "the highest circles." Glancing at the preface, we found to our horror that to be ignorant of the subject-matter of these minute volumes was "necessarily to exhibit vulgarity at the table, clownishness in the drawing-room, and general unfitness for the society of the refined;" and, furthermore, that here were set forth "certain fixed laws, observed by all classes claiming a respectable position." Inexpressibly shocked at the awful consequences we must have incurred by remaining ignorant of this authoritative exposition of the edicts of fashion, we lost no time in perusing it, with the faint hope that haply our instincts might have saved us from some of the social enormities so sweepingly denounced, and that in the eyes of society we might hitherto have appeared as, at any rate, a favorable specimen of the savage.

The "Gentleman's Manual" begins by setting out the ceremonial to be observed on the occasion of a morning visit. And the exhaustive nature of the treatise will be recognized by the first direction, which is this, "If you alight from a carriage, endeavor to do so in a graceful manner." Our author has evidently a salutary fear of the street gamins before his eyes, for he adds, "Inattention to this matter has subjected many to ridicule." Visits are of two kinds, for purposes of congratulation and of condolence. We do not pretend to understand the reasons which, of course, exist for the following caution with reference to the former: "Visits of congratulation must be always made before dinner." Much more intelligible is this rule for a visit of condolence, which breathes the very spirit of the "mitigated affliction department" at Messrs. Pugh's or Jay's: "Take care to appear in a sober dress; and if the occasion be the death of a person even slightly related to you, go in mourning—deep or otherwise—according to the degree of relationship." Here is an exoteric precept applicable to all visits, the full force of which the housemaid will appreciate: "Be very careful to scrape your feet, and to use the door-mat upon entering, if the streets be in a muddy condition." But the very next is highly mystic and esoteric: "Take your hat with you into the reception-room, and, as a rule, hold it in your hand; if requested to do so, you may place it beside you on a table, but never put it on the ground." Chapter II. relates to the dinner-table, and in it the programme of dinner is minutely laid down. "To married ladies," we read, "should be conceded preference as to the order of rotation, and if it is wished to be very formal, let those of highest rank be taken out first." The "order of rotation" can only mean that in the highest circles the ceremonial is to go in state down the front stairs, then to mount with equal pomp the back stairs, then to descend the front stairs a second time, and so on ad infinitum—clearly a very aristocratic proceeding, because it would result in a dinner with his Grace Duke Humphry. "The host offers his arm to the principal lady"—that is, if he wishes to be very formal—"and leads the way." "Immediately behind comes the hostess." It is terrible to reflect that we have invariably permitted the wife of our bosom to bring up the rear. Once down stairs, here are a few of the canons for behavior. Perhaps, in these revolutionary days, it is wise in our author to reassert explicitly a good deal that Lord Chesterfield would take for granted. At any rate, it is impossible to cavil at the following sound advice: "Never convey the knife to the mouth. Take care to masticate as quickly as possible, and do not rattle your knife, fork, or spoon, more than you can avoid. It is not necessary to wait until any one else begins to eat; commence the business of your dinner as soon as you are served, although it is not requisite to dart upon it like a vulture upon its prey—such a course would intimate that you are unaccustomed to such fare as you have before you." A great instructor can not enlarge on his chosen theme without introducing indirectly a good deal of curious scientific information. As we learned, under the head of visiting, that a visit of congratulation must be taken, like fruit, early in the day, on pain of dyspepsia, so in the passage just quoted we are presented with a singular fact in natural history—namely, that it is the want of familiarity with raw meat that makes the vulture take to it with such unmistakable gusto. Peculiar responsibilities of course attach to the post of master of the house. There is the obvious duty "of sending a plate of any meat he may be carving, by a servant, to each guest who is not supplied, without the ceremony of first asking permission." But he must have the subtlety of a Gladstone or a Bethell to realize and act upon the following nice distinction: "He may inquire of each person if he prefers any particular part; not whether he would like such or such a part, naming it. If he have no choice to offer, it is out of place to press a guest to make one." Out of place, indeed! but we can hardly believe that a host could be found of such devilish malignity as to press a friend to partake of a wing or breast when nothing but the drumstick remained. "It is mistaken kindness to persist in helping any one to a particular dish if once

declined." Again, we think the "Manual" understates the barbarity of this proceeding. It is impossible to reprobate too severely the conduct of an entertainer who should treat his guests as Strasbourg geese are treated, or the apoplectic pigs that sprawl about a Cattle Show. There are a few useful hints about taking wine. "It is not necessary to ask the pleasure of taking wine with a lady verbally—to catch her eve is sufficient. If her neighbor is so remiss as not to perceive that the service is required, a lady may politely request him to charge her glass." The parties "should smile and bow slightly before drinking."

Ball-givers and ball-goers may learn much from these pages. First, as to sending out invitations. "If several members of one family be invited, one card is sent to the master and mistress, another to the daughters, and another to the sons. These may all be placed in one envelope, which should not be fastened, and addressed to the mistress of the house." The votary of Terpsichore ought to be grateful for the following suggestions: "In a quadrille, the gentleman should, if possible, escort his partner to the top place. (N.B. If the orchestra be placed at the end of the room, that end is considered the top; if elsewhere, the top of the room is that end farthest from the door.)" This is really hard upon the unhappy lady who is offered the alternative of being deafened by the cornet-a-piston, or suffocated for want of air. Besides, what if a room should be so utterly abnormal as to have two doors, where would the top be then? This is a casus omissus to which we respectfully invite the author's attention. "In the Schottische, Waltz, and Polka be very careful to avoid encircling your partner's waist, except in the lightest manner, and exercise extreme caution to prevent pressing too closely upon her; avoid pressing her hand tightly." Soft pressure, it would seem, is allowable, and does not entail any "unfitness for the society of the refined." But no further liberty would be tolerated in "respectable company;" and we may charitably infer, therefore, that "in the highest circles" a similar propriety is observed.

Hitherto we have been drinking in wisdom from a stern, rigid Mentor. In the remarks on "Supper," we feel at once that we are listening to a man and a brother. "After attending to the wants of their fair partners, the gentlemen generally tacitly agree to stand and wait until the ladies have retired (which they should always do after a moderate refreshment), and then to sit down together to supper," of which they may, by implication, partake immoderately. Here we have the voice of nature bursting artificial restraints. Great is lobster salad, for it fairly triumphs over etiquette in the affections of this modern Polonius.

Of this Manual, as of some other books, it might be said that it contains many things that are new, and many things that are true; but what is new is not true, and what is true is not new. No one, for instance, would dream of disputing the following proposition: "Some knowledge of passing events is almost indispensable to those who go much into society;" or this "Do not speak so much as a single sentence in company in a language not understood ley those present;" of this: "To take notice of children is generally to render yourself agreeable to their parents." Again, the most unsophisticated among us knows that "letters should always be prepaid;" that "the flesh, teeth, and nails should be cleansed at regular and fixed intervals;" and that "the nails should never be permitted to grow to an offensive length." We have long ago arrived at the conclusion that "those who have weak eyes should wear colored spectacles;" and the instinct of self-preservation would forbid any disregard of the following rule: "If you use false hair, be careful that it is all of one shade." Nor do we require to be reminded that "it has an undignified and somewhat thief-like look to turn the eves down whenever you are spoken to." The following caution, too, we regard as somewhat superfluous: "When a marriage contract is to be drawn up, it is well to ascertain that all parties concerned agree to all the particulars set forth before the formal meeting for signing the deeds. This will prevent much unseemly discussion in the presence of the bride-elect." But we find in this volume many injunctions and many subtle distinctions calculated to make us feel acutely our own utter ignorance of modern etiquette. We do not see, for instance, how any conversation is to proceed, if the following rule be strictly adhered to: "It is inexpedient to indulge the habit of asking questions; it may be inconvenient to answer them, or if answered, the reply may cause you to look very foolish." Again, there must be some good reason for the following precept, though we fail to grasp it: "Do not permit yourself to be surprised at any thing, except in the company of ladies." Why is one to be all agog in female company, and how long has straining eyeballs and an open mouth been a recommendation to the sex? Here is a mysterious canon: "A formal introduction may occasionally be dispensed with in the case of persons who meet casually, and who, finding each other's society or conversation agreeable, think lit to dispense with the services of a third party." What services? and who is the "third party" darkly alluded to as haunting the steps of the two "agreeable parties?" For a good many ''things not generally known," we beg to refer our readers to the head of "Letter Writing," in this pregnant little work. They will learn there that, "in addressing any one higher in rank than themselves, large-sized paper should be used;" that the use of adhesive envelopes should be exclusively confined to business communications; that it is "contrary to good-breeding to send a letter secured otherwise than by sealing-wax to your most intimate friend, or even to your wife; that the seal should never be impressed by any fantastic device; and that gilt-edged paper should only be employed in a friendly letter." With infinite shame and contrition many of our readers must own to frequent breaches of each and all of these social observances, and particularly to having licked innumerable envelopes in corresponding with their wives about the children's

whooping-cough. We are not sure that all our generous impulses toward our superiors have `taken the form of a present of game, which we are assured is "the only thing that we may be certain will not give offense." Nor have we interpreted the ante-nuptial banquets of our male friends in the following cruel sense: "It is usual for a gentleman, previous to his marriage, to give a dinner to those of his bachelor friends whose acquaintance he wishes to discontinue. This is tacitly understood as a friendly form of dismissal!"

There is great originality about the "general suggestions" given at the end of these volumes. A gentleman will note that the habit of crossing the legs is objectionable; that he must never address a friend aloud by his name in public; that in ascending stairs he must precede a lady as quickly as possible, in descending he must follow her; and that while escorting a lady from one room to another on the same floor he must give her the left arm, unless both parties are married, in which case the right arm is more correct. A lady will find much practical wisdom embodied in the remarks on "dress." If she is so unfortunate as to be deformed, she is advised to conceal it by "attention to the make of that portion of her habiliments immediately connected with the misshappen part." If her features be large, she is to arrange her hair in large masses. She is never to appear anxious about the safety of any part of her attire in company. She is solemnly warned not to compress her feet into shoes too small, or her hands into gloves of a size less than proper for them. "Such an attempt causes the 'member' to appear larger, its uncomfortably tight appearance attracting attention; besides which, the feet are sure to be injured, and, by the formation of corns, to become larger and more unshapely the longer the course is persisted in." And lastly, let her attend to the follow leg oracular utterance, in which we could have wished that the condemnation of crinoline had been more explicit: "At a ball, you will pass and repass during its progress the other dancers many times. Bear this in mind, and dress, accordingly, in a costume as light and close-fitting as is consistent with the fashion."

One is tempted to ask, with whom can the author of this wonderful Manual have lived? and who are the lunatics who regulate their deportment by the rules it contains? Who in the world is our anonymous instructor? We do not hesitate to say that we have penetrated his disguise. Every item in this catalogue of the proprieties smells of cast-off plush. It is our old friend Jeames, whiling away the hours of his retirement from active work by dilating on the Genteel. There is a certain psychological value in a travesty of society regarded from the point of view of a thoroughly vulgar and illiterate mind. But there is something more of which a book of this kind is the expression. It symbolizes the essentially snobbish side of character. The demand for such information as this impudent imposture pretends to give is created by the morbid craving which almost every class evinces to ape its betters, and do as is clone "its the higher circles." Mrs. Smith wants to know the dinner arrangements observed in a nobleman's family, in order that, when she next entertains Mrs. Jones, she may astonish that lady's weak mind by imitating them as closely as circumstances will permit. The hard-worked maid of the Smith establishment does just the same thing, when she waggles about the kitchen in a hoop which she fondly imagines to be a faithful copy of Missis's style of dress. There is something almost pathetic, in an Aristotelian point of view, in this latest synopsis of the social virtues. The points which strike an ordinary reader as most ridiculous would save it from ridicule in the eves of a philosopher. The injunctions to cleanliness and a calm temper betray something like a faint and dim notion of the principles on which true courtesy rests. They indicate a sort of twilight consciousness that, after all, it consists in something more than a set of arbitrary rules about matters of infinitesimal importance, and that it is too subtle to be subjected to this ludicrous codification. As Sheridan says of wit, so it might be said of good-manners, that they are more nearly allied to good-nature than shopmen imagine. While spurious politeness hinges on respect of persons and has its sliding scale of manners—these for the company of a grandee, these for every day life, and these for a poor relation—true politeness disdains to look beyond or outside of itself for a principle whereby to regulate its conduct. The true gentleman is absolutely and unalterably the same in the cottage and in the palace, simply out of respect for himself and a noble scorn of appearing for a moment other than he is. It is this which Shakspeare expresses so happily in the few pregnant words with which Hamlet rebukes the men who would have had the poor players treated according to their degree—"Treat them according to your own honor."

THE BATTLE AT BATON ROUGE.

ON page 564 we publish an illustration of the BATTLE OF BATON ROUGE, fought on 5th August; and on page 565 an illustration of the DESTRUCTION OF THE REBEL IRON-CLAD "ARKANSAS" BY THE UNION GUN-BOAT "ESSEX," which occurred on the following day. We condense from the Herald correspondence the following account of these affairs:

General Williams received information as early as Monday, the 28th ult., that the rebels had started from Camp Moore for the purpose of making an attack on Baton Rouge.

About two o'clock on the afternoon of the 4th information was received from some negroes that the rebels were approaching in force from the Greenwell Springs road, upon which the troops were got under arms, ready for the menaced attack. At half past three o'clock on the following morning the reveille was beaten, and, the troops having formed, they were marched out to meet the enemy. About a mile out of town our little army west drawn up in line of battle, awaiting the the expected attack.

The engagement was brought on by one of the companies of the Twenty-first Indiana, which was on picket duty about a mile back of the camp, being driven in by the

rebels. As soon as the firing was heard General Williams sent the other companies of the Twenty-first Indiana to the support of the pickets. On reaching the scene of action they found that the enemy was in too great force to contend with successfully, upon which they fell back to the front of their tents, followed by the enemy. There they made a stand, and engaged the entire brigade of General Clarke, consisting of two Mississippi regiments, and a third regiment, composed partially of men from Mississippi, the rest being from Arkansas. The fighting at that place was very severe. The Indiana boys performed prodigies of valor, and kept the enemy in check for a considerable time. General Williams, finding, however, that they were too far advanced to receive support from the other regiments, ordered them to fall back, which was done to the distance of from 200 to 250 yards.

Just about this time the right wing of tie Union army was engaged by Colonel Allen's brigade. This wing consisted of the Sixth Michigan and Nims's battery. Simultaneous with this movement our left was attacked by Ruggle's brigade. Attached to the left wing was the Fourteenth Maine and Everett's battery. The fighting at this point was excessively severe, and the roar of battle was heard all along the line from left to right. This lasted for about twenty minutes, during which time the rebels kept their troops masked under the cover of the woods as much as possible, while the Union soldiers were exposed to their fire in the open field. Considerable inconvenience was experienced by our troops, too, in consequence of their facing to the east, which caused the looming sun to shine in their faces, rendering their operations exceedingly difficult. Still our brave troops flinched not, but manfully bore the shock of overwhelming numbers in the face of every difficulty.

The Thirtieth Massachusetts was now ordered to advance and support the Michigan troops; but while they were getting into position it was found that their aid was not necessary, as the Michigan boys had already repulsed their opponents. The Ninth Connecticut and the Fourth Wisconsin, which were held in reserve, were ordered about the same time to advance in support of the other regiments; but as they were going on the field the enemy retired. At one period of the fight the enemy got into the camp of the Twenty-first Indiana and burned it, upon which this regiment, from the cover of the woods, poured a most terrific volley into them, doing fearful execution, and causing them to retire precipitately. They met a similar fate from the Twentieth Maine, into whose camp they had forced an entrance, though they succeeded in burning this camp too.

While the fight was raging three companies of the Sixth Michigan Volunteers were in peril of being cut off by the Fourth and Thirtieth Louisiana regiments, commanded by Colonel Allen, acting as Brigadier-General. These two regiments suddenly emerged from the woods and marched toward the three companies, with the view of turning their right flank. They had succeeded in capturing two guns belonging to Nines's battery, and a well-known rebel officer, named Henderson, was seen to wave a flag in triumph over the guns. Some say it was a black flag; but doubts have been expressed in regard to the correctness of the statement. The two guns were brought to bear on the gallant Michigan boys; but they were too nimble for the rebels. Lying flat on the ground, the rebel balls flew over them, upon which they started to their feet and poured so well-directed a volley into the enemy's ranks as to completely astonish him. This was handsomely seconded by the remaining guns of Nims's battery, which, making a detour along the road, so severely galled the Louisiana regiments by a well-timed cross-fire that when the two companies of the Michigan Sixth came to the bayonet charge the rebels were driven back to the cover of the woods, leaving the two guns they had captured behind then. Nims's battery thus got their own again.

The hardest part of the fighting was in the centre, where the Fourteenth Maine fought with distinguished bravery. The Twenty-first Indiana also fought like tigers, and it is said that a rebel general paid them the handsome compliment of saying that but for those damned Indianians Baton Rouge would have been captured, though theere are Union soldiers who do not see it exactly in that light.

When the long roll was beaten the gun-boats Essex, Sumter, Kineo, and Katahdin took up their positions, the two former to protect our left and the two latter our right flank The Essex and the Sumter opened fire in the woods, their shells screaming through the trees, tearing them into shreds and scattering an iron hail around. Signal-officer Davis, of the Kineo, stationed himself on the tower of the State House, from which elevation he had an excellent view of the field, and could signal to the vessels where to throw in their shells. After the battle had raged for some time the Union troops began to fall back on the Penitentiary, when several well-directed shots from the 11-inch guns of the boats kept the rebels in check. Shortly after this the firing ceased.

At half past three P.M. firing was re-opened, the gun-boats Kineo and Katahdin shelling the woods in different directions where the enemy were, doing great execution. It has been stated that one shell from the Kineo killed from forty to sixty rebels. Toward evening the firing again ceased: but the gun-boats continued to send in a shell every half hour in different parts of the woods during the whole night, with the view of keeping the rebels at bay; but they had already fled, the gallant charge of the Sixth Michigan having completed their discomfiture.

The rebels were led by Major-General John C. Brcekinridge, who scampered off in such haste that he left his sword behind. It was picked up on the field, and is retained as a trophy. Perhaps it was this circumstance that gave rise to the report that the traitor lost his right arm.

DESTRUCTION OF THE "ARKANSAS."

While the firing was going on smoke was seen up the river behind a bend. It was ascertained that it proceeded from the rebel ram Arkansas, in pursuance of the programme laid down for her to attack the Union vessels while their land forces were dealing with our troops. It seems, however, that the commander of the Arkansas thought better of the matter, and did not venture down; for there was the Union ram Essex, as well as the other gun-boats, ready to give her a warm reception, and at night the officers of the Union vessels wondered where the Arkansas was. Their curiosity being stimulated by the continued absence of the nondescript, or "What is it?" as Barnum would term it, it was determined that, as the mountain would not go to Mohammed, Mohammed would go to the mountain; and go he did, being represented by the Essex leading, closely followed by the Sumter, Kineo, and the Katahdin. On turning the elbow, beyond which her smoke had been seen on the previous day, the monster was discovered to be on fire close to the back. The rebel gun-boats Webb and Music were by her, but they prudently retired on seeing our boats. It seems that the Arkansas was worked by two engines on one wheel, and that both must be in working order or neither will act. One of the engines got out of order, and the other mould not work without its fellow, in coceequence of which she got under the bank.

As the Union gun-boats approached several shots were fired at the Essex front the Arkansas, one or two of them taking effect, but without doing any damage. In consequence of the immovable position of the Arkansas she could not bring more than one of her two guns to bear, or she might have given the Essex a great deal of trouble, as the latter vessel is quite unmanageable. The Essex ran past the Arkansas to a part of the river where there is a reach of some length, and opened on her formidable antagonist at five hundred yards with three guns loaded with solid shot. One of these took effect right under the port in the starboard bow of the Arkansas, and split in two from the force of the concussion. Commander Porter then ordered the same gun to be loaded with an incendiary shell of his own invention, and, without moving the gun to take a new aim, the shell was fired, entering just where the solid shot had struck. Immediately a jet of flame was shooting upward from the Arkansas, and in a short time the entire vessel was on fire. It is supposed that the condensed cotton with which the Arkansas is packed caught fire from the shell, and communicating thence to the wood-work soon wrapped the monster in flames. After burning till all her upper works were destroyed she swung off into the, stream, when she blew up with a terrific explosion.

The Arkansas was plated with railroad iron on the outside, over a planking of six-inch oak; inside that was six inches of condensed cotton on another six inched of oak.


 

 

  

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