Robert E. Lee's Letter to the Citizens of Maryland


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, September 27, 1862

Welcome to the online editions of all the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. These old newspapers are a treasure trove of illustrations and news reports created by eye-witnesses to the actual events and battles.

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


Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati, Ohio

Rebel Invastion of Maryland

Rebel Invasion of Maryland

Robert E. Lee's Letter

Lee's Letter to the Citizens of Maryland

Fort Mitchell

Fort Mitchell

Quantrill's Raiders

Invasion of Maryland Cartoon

Invasion of Maryland Cartoon

Frederick, Maryland

Frederick, Maryland


Confederate Cavalry

Confederate Cavalry

Confederate Army

Confederate Army

Maryland Map

Map of Maryland


Hagerstown, Maryland

Quantrill's Raiders Raid

Quantrill's Raiders









SEPTEMBER 27, 1862.]



(Previous Page) betray the condition of its fidelity. The rebellion already flaunts its flag at the capital; its solid and desperate hordes swarm across the Potomac; there is no man so blind as not to see that every nerve must be strained and every effort tried to secure the victory of the Government; and here would be a party which says, coldly, "Yes, we'll help probably, provided that you don't use rifled cannon or grape shot."

Whose party would that be? The party of those whose homes are wasted, whose hearts bleed and break under the loss of their brave heroes? Would it be the party of those whose kindred lie in the unhallowed and treason-tainted soil of Virginia? of those who have freely given of all their treasures, who have seen their work stopped, their prospects blighted, and the prosperity of their nation checked, for no other reason than that some political leaders thought their power to be in danger? Would it be the party of the true-hearted and generous who, rather than see the glory of their country dimmed by a compromise of hopeless injustice, or by a disintegration breeding endless wars hereafter, would see the loyal citizens of the land struck down at their own doors?—the party of all who love their country more than a party, who hate rebellion more than they love party tradition?

No. A party which at this moment makes terms in its loyalty is one whose aims are perfectly evident. It wishes to show both the rebel and the loyal part of the country that loyal men are divided. Its flag is a white flag. Its cry, if it dared to utter it, is "Peace any how," It stands and beckons to Jeff Davis to push on. It says to loyal men at home, " 'Tis no use." It believes in defeat. It wishes to dishearten. It says "Union," and means what he meant who said "My brother, how is it with thee?" It accepts disgrace, and calls it an understanding. It grovels in dishonor, and calls it fraternity. It slays the country, and with it all future hope of free institutions and of popular civil Liberty, and calls it peace. It surrenders the essential principle of the Government and submits to anarchy, then calls it compromise.

It is the party of the rebellion working in our own camp. Let us hope that there is none such. But should it appear, let every faithful man help to crush it.


"BUT this is not a war for the abolition of slavery, is it?"

No: and the assertion that any considerable party urges it for that purpose is false, and is made by demagogues to prevent a vigorous policy by alarming old party prejudices. The amusing absurdity that any loyal man is making upon the President "outrageous demands to violate his oath and trample on the Constitution" is simply political gag of the most melodramatic kind. The intention of repeating it from day to day is to help the success of the rebellion by dividing the North.

The object of this war is the restoration of the Union. It is not waged to hurt a single hair upon the head of any man, loyal or disloyal: nor to seize his property: nor to use his supplies: nor to occupy his land: nor to destroy his buildings. It is not waged to do any body or thing the least injury in the world: nor to interfere with any privilege; nor to touch any right. Its object is simply and only to maintain the Government, without which no man has the smallest guarantee for any right whatever.

But if in maintaining it, a hundred thousand men are shot upon the field, if property of every kind is seized and appropriated, if acres and districts are utterly desolated, if cities are laid in ashes, and slaves are liberated that they may not strengthen the enemy, all will be done, and done constitutionally, and done rightly, for all this is infinitely better than that the Government should be overthrown.

Yet the Constitution guarantees to every man security of life and property by the most solemn pledges. They can be taken from him only by due course of law—except when he is resisting the law. Bat to enforce his obedience to the law every thing which strengthens his resistance may be taken from him, and at last even his life itself. No man has any right more sacred than that to his life. The Constitution authorizes the Government, in the name of all the people, to kill any man who resists the laws after he has been properly summoned to yield.

In precisely the same way, when a formidable combination resists the laws, and not only resists, but makes war upon the country, it is to be suppressed by every means known to warfare. And those means are employed, not for the purpose of hurting the men or of meddling with their local institutions, but to maintain the law. When citizens arm themselves against the Government, which represents the sovereignty of the people, they put all their lives, all their institutions—every thing which they have and are, and which may aid their resistance—in mortal peril. They do it, and not the Government; just as a man who forcibly stops you by night upon the road exposes his life. If you kill him, it is he who has done it.

Neither the liberation of the slaves, nor the brave soldiers who fight, nor the stout sailors, nor the seizure of rebel property, nor the occupation of rebel land, nor the destruction of rebel homes and cities, nor all the means of warfare combined, may suffice to suppress the rebellion. No man is so foolish as to suppose that any single means will answer; no man is sure that all means together will succeed. But every man who wishes his country well, who believes that the hope of equal human rights falls with our fall, who feels that our defeat is the victory of Despotism and an Aristocracy, earnestly prays that, if that defeat must come, it may not be embittered by the thought that we did not do to save ourselves all that we might have done.

The only question for a man who looks solely at the salvation of the Government is, Does slavery help the rebellion? If not, he will not urge emancipation.

If it does, he will insist that to help save the Union the slaves shall be freed. Then, if some foolish fellow says, "You can't do it," we can tell him that we will try.


WHEN any general is exhorted to overthrow the Government by the bayonet as General McClellan has been, he is asked to do exactly what Lee, and Jackson, and Bragg are doing. Can the person, the paper, or the party that asks him, really be loyal to that Government?

The army, it must be remembered, is made up of the brothers, sons, and friends of all of us. They are citizens of the United States. They are in arms to defend its Government. They know why they are there. To ask a general to lead them against the Government is to invite them to be traitors. The general who should try it would probably find in a very summary way that they were not so.

Nor is there any general in the field who commands that idolatrous admiration which is essential to such an enterprise. The corps of the different commanders are generally warmly attached to them. But there is no single general who unites them over all others. This we all know, because every man has hundreds of friends in the army, and he knows that being citizens they differ and discuss exactly as we do at home. If, therefore, any general should be seduced into the fatal movement, he would find that he had an army to fight him as well as one to follow him. Meanwhile the enemy would conquer, but that is precisely what those who suggest the plan desire.

There is another point. What opinion can those hold of a Union general who propose to him to become a traitor? What would the American people have thought of a man in the Revolution who should have urged Washington to turn his arms to coerce the Congress of the Confederation, dilatory and distracted as it was? If it had been an editor who dared to suggest it they would have kicked him out of his office, and Washington, if he did not shoot the fellow upon the spot, would have had him whipped out of camp.

The same voices that call upon McClellan to take this rash step are those which sneered at Fremont's daring to attempt it when he was superseded. Such infamy was in their minds only, not in his. None of our armies has ever been attached to its general as that of the West was to Fremont. But his serene obedience to the constituted authorities of the Government was just what it ought to have been; and with a word he repressed even the slightest manifestation of displeasure upon the part of his men.

Such men, who love their leaders because they believe in them, such leaders who trust and try the bravery of their men, are the soul and body of invincible armies.

There have been hard things said of General McClellan, but there has been no insinuation so base as this, and this not from his enemies but his professed friends.


"WE should always provide against a rainy day," as the member of the — Club said when he stole the umbrella out of the hall.

"Prevention is better than cure," as the pig said when it ran away with all its might to escape the killing attentions of the pork-butcher.

"Arrah, Pat, and why did I marry ye—jist tell me that? for it's myself that's had to maintain ye ever since the blessed day that Father O'Flannagan sent me home to yer house." "Swate jewel!" replied Pat, not relishing the charge, "and its myself that hopes I may live to see the day when ye're a widow, waping over the cold sod that covers me; then, by St. Patrick, I'll see how you get along without me, honey!"

Colonel Smith's pantry was somewhat troubled with mice; so the Colonel determined to try a trap. An inquisitive neighbor, whose curiosity was aroused by seeing a light burning all one night in the Colonel's house, stationed himself at his window the following night, and saw the Colonel, in his dressing-gown, bait his trap and go off, after having placed a lighted candle close to it. The next day, having met the Colonel, he asked him why he placed the candle by his trap? "So that the mice may see to go in," was the reply.

"I'll haul you over the coals," as the policeman said to the thief when he caught him in the area.

There is a man in Pentonville so knowing that the men who don't know their own minds come to him for information on the subject.

Caesar, being asked by Brutus how many eggs he ate for breakfast, answered, "Et tu, Brute."

Laziness will cover your garden with weeds. Hard drinking, if you keep it up, will cover your wife with weeds.

"I suspect that petroleum is explosive, after all; at least, I've known a good many capitalists burst up by it!"

Our stipendiary friend, upon being asked by a lady, the other day, whether he liked babies, replied that he did not think them very interesting until they were able to stand a loan.

Tom Hood said that, when a young man, he couldn't wink at a girl but that she took it for an offer of marriage. The consequence was, that a good many of the girls got Hood-winked.

There are people who mistake impertinence for wit, and often get more than a Roland for their Oliver. One of these persons, seeing a man of learning enjoying the pleasures of the table, said, "So, Sir, I see philosophers can indulge in the greatest delicacies." "Why not," replied the other, "do you think Providence intended all good things for the ignorant?"

Milton was once asked by a friend whether he would instruct his daughters in the different languages; to which he replied, "No, Sir; one tongue is sufficient for a woman."

"Is it not astonishing," said a wealthy individual, that a large fortune was left me by a person who had only seen me once?" "It would have been still more astonishing," said a wag, "if he had left it you after seeing you twice."

Politeness is not always a sign of wisdom; but the want of it is always a strong symptom of folly.

It would be very imprudent of any railway company to allow a washer-woman to dry clothes upon their line.

ADVICE GRATIS TO YOUNG MEN.—If you shoot a duck you may, by jumping into a river after it, get two ducks.



FOR details of the rebel invasion of Maryland we refer the reader to page 618. Here we may briefly say that the rebels under Jackson, Lee, Longstreet, and other Generals, crossed the lower fords of the Upper Potomac near Leesburg on the 4th, 5th, and 6th September, and moved directly on Frederick, Maryland, which place they occupied in force. On 7th, General McClellan at the head of a large army, with Burnside, Hooker, Sigel, and other Generals, marched to meet there. On 8th he reached Rockville; on 10th and 11th he wedged his army between the rebels and the fords of the Potomac by which they had crossed, thus cutting them off from retreat in that direction; on the 10th or 11th the invaders, perceiving his drift, moved on Hagerstown and occupied the place; on 12th General McClellan's advance, under General Pleasanton, entered Frederick and drove a portion of the rebel cavalry, who were protecting the rear, from that city, after a brief skirmish in the streets. Our troops were wildly welcomed; but when General Burnside passed through on 13th, and when General McClellan arrived the same day, the enthusiasm of the citizens knew no bounds. They turned out en masse to greet them, and it was with difficulty that McClellan could reach his head-quarters through the surging crowd of excited people. General Burnside at once pushed on after the rebels with his whole force, occupying every road, and even crossing the fields to come up with them. The three stone bridges across the Monocacy were found uninjured, though the fine iron railroad bridge was destroyed. The rebels devoured almost all the provisions in Frederick before they left, and even robbed the hospital of all the medical stores, although they left four hundred and fifty of their own sick behind them. General Franklin has captured a rebel train of a hundred ammunition and subsistence wagons, and sent back one hundred and fifty prisoners to Frederick. On 14th, early in the morning, our advance, under Hooker and Reno, attacked the enemy, who was on the heights near Hagerstown. The battle lasted all day, and ended in a Union victory, the rebels being driven from the heights with great loss. Simultaneously General Franklin, on our left—i.e. near the river—was engaged, and was equally successful. On the morning of the 15th the enemy commenced a rein at toward the Potomac, in the direction of Williamsport, and General McClellan pushed on toward Hagerstown and Sharpsburg. But General White having surrendered Harper's Ferry, Jackson's army recrossed the Potomac into Maryland, effected a junction with Lee, and prepared for it general battle. Rumor states that it is probably going on now (17th).



      Sept. 14-9.40 P.M.

H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief:

After a very severe engagement the corps of General Hooker and General Reno have carried the heights commanding the Hagerstown road by storm.

The troops behaved magnificently. They never fought better.

General Franklin has been hotly engaged on the extreme left. I do not yet know the result, except that the firing indicated progress on iris part.

The action continued until after dark, and terminated leaving us in possession of the entire crest.

It has been a glorious victory.

I can not yet tell whether the enemy will retreat during the night or appear in increased force during the morning. I regret to add that the gallant and able General Reno was killed.


    Major-General Commanding.



Sept 15—3 A.M.

H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief:

I am happy to inform you that General Franklin's success on the left was as complete as that on the centre and right, and resulted in his getting possession of the Gap, after a severe engagement in all parts of the line.

The troops, old and new, behaved with the utmost steadiness and gallantry, carrying, with but little assistance from our own artillery, very strong positions, defended by artillery and infantry.

I do not think our loss very severe.

The corps of Generals D. H. Hill and Longstreet were engaged with our right.

We have taken a considerable number of prisoners.

The enemy disappeared during the night. Our troops are now advancing in pursuit. I do not know where he will next be found.


    Major-General Commanding.



H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief:

I have just learned from General Hooker, in the advance, who states that the information is perfectly reliable, that the enemy is making for the river in a perfect panic, and General Lee stated last night, publicly, that he must admit they had been shockingly whipped.

I am hurrying every thing forward to endeavor to press their retreat to the utmost.


    Major-General Commanding.



H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief:

Information this moment received completely confirms the rout and demoralization of the rebel army.

General Lee is reported wounded, and Garland killed.

General Hooker alone has over a thousand more prisoners, seven hundred having been sent to Frederick.

It is stated that Lee gives his loss as seventeen thousand.

We are following as rapidly as the men can move.


    Major-General Commanding.


Harper's Ferry was gallantly held by Colonel Miles and General White against an overwhelming force for two days or more, but was compelled to surrender at ten o'clock on Monday morning, The rebels are said to have abandoned it on 16th, in such haste that they had not time to parole more than half the prisoners, the rest being discharged, unconditionally, of course. Colonel Miles was wounded in the action by a shell in the leg, and is said to have since died of his wound.


The news from Kentucky is somewhat confused; the reader will find some scraps of intelligence on page 615. On 9th the rebel army under Kirby Smith advanced to within 5 miles of Covington, and the large army collected for the defense of Cincinnati felt confident of a battle. Some picket skirmishing actually took place. But on 11th the rebels began to retreat, and our latest dates report that they have fallen back as far as Florence, whether from natural anxiety about their lines of retreat, which are said to be menaced by Buell, or from a desire to draw our troops out of their intrenchrnents, is matter of conjecture. The Governor of Ohio has called his militia home, as a large force of volunteers, comprising many veteran regiments, have already arrived at Cincinnati. Respecting the movements of Buell and Bragg every thing is enveloped in mystery. Buell seems to have moved from Alabama across Tennessee to Nashville, where part of his force now is, another column having been dispatched to assail Kirby Smith's rear. Whether Bragg is still at Chattanooga, or elsewhere in Tennessee, we have no means of knowing.


The State Treasurer of Pennsylvania has arrived here, bringing important archives and much treasure with him for safe keeping, and many Philadelphia capitalists have sent quantities of specie here also for the same purpose.


General Lee has issued the following proclamation:



It is right that you should know the purpose that has brought the army under my command within the limits of your State so far as that purpose concerns yourselves.

The people of the Confederate States have long watched with the deepest sympathy the wrongs and outrages that have been inflicted upon the citizens of a Commonwealth allied to the States of the South by the strongest social, political, and commercial ties, and reduced to the condition of a conquered province.

Under the pretense of supporting the Constitution, but in violation of its most valuable provisions, your citizens have been arrested and imprisoned upon no charge, and contrary to all the form of law.

A faithful and manly protest against this outrage, made by a venerable and illustrious Marylander, to whom in better days no citizen appealed for right in vain, was treated with scorn and contempt.

The government of your chief city has been usurped by armed strangers; your Legislature has been dissolved by the unlawful arrest of its members; freedom of the press and of speech has been suppressed; words have been declared offenses by an arbitrary decree of the Federal executive, and citizens ordered to be tried by military commissions for what they may dare to speak.

Believing that the people of Maryland possess a spirit too lofty to submit to such a Government, the people of the South have long wished to aid you in throwing off this foreign yoke, to enable you again to enjoy the inalienable rights of freemen, and restore the independence and sovereignty of our State.

In obedience to this wish our army has come among you, and is prepared to assist you with the power of its arms in regaining the rights of which you have been so unjustly despoiled.

This, citizens of Maryland, is our mission so far as you are concerned. No restraint upon your free-will is intended—no intimidation will be allowed within the limits of this army at least. Marylanders shall once more enjoy their ancient freedom of thought and speech. We know no enemies among you, and will protect all of you in every opinion.

It is for you to decide your destiny, freely and without constraint. This army will respect your choice, whatever it may be; and, while the Southern people will rejoice to welcome you to your natural position among them, they will only welcome you when you come of your own free-will. R. E. LEE, General Commanding.


A rebel force of cavalry, with three pieces of artillery, under Colonel Shingles, made an attack on Williamsburg on 9th inst. about eight o'clock. After having captured our pickets they marched into the town, taking our troops by surprise. An engagement ensued, which lasted about thirty minutes, leaving us in possession. Our force consisted of the Fifth Pennsylvania cavalry, Colonel Campbell, who was taken prisoner, together with five captains, four lieutenants, and a few privates. The rebel commander, Colonel Shingles, with eight of his officers and men were killed.


The rebels, twelve hundred strong, made an attack on Washington, North Carolina, on the morning of the 6th inst., and were repulsed and pursued seven miles. Our force engaged numbered only four hundred, and the battle lasted two hours. The First Regiment of North Carolina Union Volunteers was engaged, and is said to have behaved with the greatest bravery. A large number of the rebels were killed and wounded; our loss was seven killed and forty-seven wounded. The gun-boat Louisiana rendered essential service in shelling the rebels out of a strong position. The gun-boat Picket was blown up by the accidental explosion of her magazine, and Captain Nichols and nineteen men were killed, and six wounded.


A brisk succession of fights took place last week in Western Virginia, commencing on 9th. The Union forces under Colonel Siber, were attacked by the rebels, five thousand strong, between Fayette, and Gauley, and fought till dark. Our men cut their way through gallantly to Gauley, with a loss of one hundred killed and wounded. Another rebel force, meantime, attacked Colonel Lightburn at Gauley Bridge, compelling him to retire down the Kanawha— fighting every inch of ground—and still farther to the Elk River, where he made a grand stand on Friday. At last accounts—13th, 6 P.M.—he was holding his ground, and had shelled the town of Charleston and destroyed all the salt-works in the vicinity. This news reaches us by telegraph from Gallipolis, Ohio.


The rebel steamer Oreto—now named the Florida—arrived at Havana from Nassau, N. P., by way of Cardenas. When at Green Key she mounded her guns. She was permitted to remain at Cardenas to the 31st ultimo, having a Spanish war vessel on each side of her. She has lost many men by yellow fever and desertion. Among the dead is the son of her commander, John N. Maffit. The Florida mounts eight very heavy guns, and carries the iron plates for covering her with armor in her hold. Captain Maffit was still ill. Her first officer is — Stribling, formerly of the Sumter. On the 1st instant the Florida was ordered to sea from Havana, and steamed out in the midst of a severe storm.


Appleton Oaksmith, who has been confined in Suffolk (Massachusetts) jail since December last, and was convicted in June of fitting out a vessel for the slave-trade, made his escape from the jail on 11th inst., and it is supposed had been gone four hours before he was missed. A ladder having been found standing against the yard wall, there is no doubt he gained the rear of the jail by that means, His escape was not known until 10 o'clock. A reward of $300 is offered for his arrest and return. A motion for a new trial was pending, to be argued in October.

General Jim Lane's recruiting operations in Kansas have been most successful. He has raised five white regiments, and organized 1200 colored loyalists.

Major-General Cassius M. Clay has been ordered to report in person to Major-General Butler, at New Orleans, for duty in the Department of the Gulf.




THE Peace Society of London has issued an address to the people of the United States advising a settlement of the war by means of foreign mediation.


The rebel steamer Alabama, alias the Eurica, alias "No. 290," has been spoken by the British West India mail steamer, steering west, and fully armed and manned, under command of Captain Semmes, late of the Sumter.



The European journals are occupied in publishing the details of the battle between Garibaldi's volunteers and the troops of Victor Emanuel. The Italian General had an interview with Garibaldi, and called on him to surrender. The Liberator refused, and the fight commenced. The contest was prolonged, sanguinary, and fought with courage on both sides. Garibaldi and his son Menotte, with three hundred men of both armies, were wounded. The killed were not numerous in proportion. It is said that Garibaldi will be tried for treason, convicted, sentenced, and then pardoned, on giving his parole to leave Europe for an indefinite period.




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