Attack on Charleston


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, April 25, 1863

We have created this WEB site in order to make our extensive collection of Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers available online. These fascinating papers have illustrations and reports created by eye-witnesses to the key events and battles of the War.

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Admiral Dupont

Admiral Dupont

Attack of Charleston

Attack on Charleston

Bread Riots

Bread Riots

Map of Charleston

Charleston Map

The "Keokuk"


Approach of the "Alabama"

Quack Medicine

Quack Medicine Advertisements

Historical Advertisements

Historical Advertisements

Union Square

Union Square

Rebel Prisoners

Rebel Prisoners

Ericsson's Devil

Ericsson's Devil

Charleston Harbor

Charleston Harbor




[APRIL 25, 1863.



HERE is a grate gun at last!

In the mold ov Freedum cast,

Made tu pat daown treeson. Ef so be these rebbels dare

Tu strut raound in Delaware,

He will know the reeson!


He don't feel a call tu grin

When fokes up and tawk agin

Lincoln's Administrashun; And refuse to stir a mite

Hail Columby's foes tu fite,

For tu save the nashun.


He thinks 'tain't much ov a joke

When fokes North begin tu croak

Fur the sake ov party:

He thinks Freemen shood unite Tu go in fur what is rite,

And support it hearty.


While the Suthern rebbels brag

That thav'll trample daown aour flag,

And proceed tu du it,

He thinks every Northern man Ought to strike 'em where he can, Or be made to rue it!


He's the gun tu make a noise!

Jest the kind ov metal, boys,

Thet we want fur traitors! When Columby is sot free,

She will kaount sich men es he

Es her liberators.





IT is not to be disguised that our relations with Great Britain have reached a most critical pass. The speeches of the Solicitor-General of England and of Lord Palmerston, in Parliament, on 27th March, indicate a determined purpose on the part of the British Government to persevere in the work of fitting out piratical vessels in British ports to prey upon our merchant navy, It was well shown by Messrs. Forster, Baring, and others, that the equipment of the Florida and Alabama was in violation of the Foreign Enlistment Act; and that other similar vessels—some say eighteen, others fourteen—are being constructed for the rebels at Liverpool and other British ports, without let or hindrance by the Government, and will soon be at sea, manned by British sailors, armed with British guns, and as thoroughly British in every respect as the Warrior herself. The only answer to these cogent facts was some legal quips and quibbles in the Nisi Prius style by the Solicitor, and a sneer from Lord Palmerston about "the Americans always picking a quarrel with England whenever they got into trouble."

Passing over the insolence of the latter speaker, who has been well said to represent the black-leg element in the British Cabinet, and the cheap erudition of the lawyer who was hired to defend the Government, the fact remains that we are practically at war with Great Britain without the power of reprisals. Every British dock-yard is now engaged in building steamers to capture and burn our merchantmen, to run our blockade, and to bombard our defenseless sea-board cities. The evidence points irresistibly to the conclusion that all the authorities and men in stations of influence in England are in the conspiracy against us. Lord Palmerston considers our complaints of the destruction of thirty odd American vessels by the British cruiser Alabama mere indications of our wish to pick a quarrel with England; Lord Russell sees no ground for arresting the Alabama until he has been assured she has got safely to sea, when he issues his tardy warrant; Member of Parliament Laird laughs—and the House of Commons re-echoes the laugh—at the objections which are made to his supplying the rebels with a navy; the Commissioners of Customs, with their ears stuffed with cotton and their pockets with the produce of Confederate bonds, are ready to swear off the most obvious Confederate steamer as a harmless craft intended for the Emperor of China; and the merchants, ship-builders, and newspapers of England all claim the right of furnishing the rebels with a navy, and denounce us furiously for objecting to their conduct.

These events have very naturally aroused a general and intense hostility to England among all classes in this country. There has never been a time when hatred of the English was so deep or so wide-spread as it is at present. There has never been a period at which war with England could have been more generally welcomed than at present—if we were free to engage in a foreign war.

Yet we do not believe that war is imminent. We can not afford the luxury. The struggle in which we are engaged taxes all our resources, and to carry it safely through to a successful issue will require our undivided energies. For this reason we do not anticipate that our Government

will declare war against England— though it has ample ground for doing so; or will even declare an embargo, or seize British property to recompense our ship-owners for the losses they are suffering through the piratical acts of British vessels.

Our cue just now is to suffer every thing from foreigners for the sake of concentrating our whole strength on the suppression of the rebellion. When this is done, we shall have time to devote to our foreign enemies.

So soon as the restoration of the Union has been achieved, we look to see energetic measures adopted by our Government for the settlement of accounts with England. We expect to see every man who has lost a dollar by the depredations of the Alabama paid in full, with interest, by the British Government. The amount can always be collected in the port of New York. Half a dozen British steamers and a score of British ships seized and sold at auction by the United States Marshal would go far to make a balance. And when England next goes to war, let her look out for retaliation. Though her antagonist be only some Hottentot chief, the ocean shall bristle with American cruisers bearing his flag, and England may rely upon it, that for every peaceful American trader that has been burned during this war by British pirates, ten British vessels will then be destroyed. The next war in which England engages will be the end of her foreign commerce. We mistake our countrymen greatly, if, at the end of twelve months, they leave a ship bearing the British flag afloat in any sea from the German Ocean to Behring's Straits.

But the watch-word now must be—Patience!


THE attack on Charleston has been made, and has failed. Admiral Du Pont has withdrawn, after losing one vessel and three or four men, being perfectly satisfied that it was hopeless to renew the contest with the force he has. His opinion is shared by all who are acquainted with the facts. With an ingenuity and industry worthy of a better cause, the rebels have so obstructed the approaches to the port of Charleston that no vessel can enter until the obstructions — consisting of a combination of piles, stakes, chains, ropes, nets, and torpedoes — have been removed. Upon these obstructions the fire of the principal works commanding the harbor has been concentrated, so that a vessel engaged in attempting to remove them is exposed to a fire compared to which the feu d'enfer which destroyed Sebastopol was a mere summer shower. Over three hundred guns, carrying missiles of the largest and most destructive character—100-pound and 200-pound rifled shot, shell, and bolts—poured an incessant hail upon the eight gun-boats, carrying 16 guns, which vainly endeavored to bombard Fort Sumter on 7th inst. It is clear that, until we can devise means of blowing up or tearing away the artificial barrier which arrested our vessels under the combined fire of the rebel batteries on 7th, it would be useless to renew the attack.

Each person draws his own inferences and forms his own opinion of the affair, according to his hopes and views, and the temper of his mind. The most obvious of all inferences is that it insures an indefinite prolongation of the war. Had we destroyed Fort Sumter and occupied Charleston there would have been good ground for expecting the early collapse of the rebellion. As it is, the rebels will of course be encouraged to persevere in their rebellion, while we shall merely renew our preparations for another and possibly a more successful attack. It will, however, take several months to build more iron-clads, and develop new engines of warfare capable of overcoming submarine obstructions and torpedoes. The fine mind of Captain Ericsson and the ablest intellects in the service of the navy are already engaged on the subject, and we doubt not but they will succeed in inventing the article that is wanted. To a nation fixed and resolute in its purpose as this is, failure is impossible.

No one who watches the public mind can have helped observing the improvement which we are making in stoutheartedness. A few months ago a little defeat depressed us woefully, and depreciated the currency six to eight per cent. Now, the public accept defeats as well as victories as the natural incidents of war, and are neither excessively depressed by the one nor unduly elated by the other. Du Pont's repulse at Charleston, which was certainly not palliated or glossed over in the accounts in the papers, gave rise to no despair, to no abuse of Du Pont or the Government, and barely caused a flutter in the gold market.

This nation is being educated to its work. The race of ninety-day prophets—who did us so much harm at the beginning, and made us so ridiculous abroad—is about extinct. No one now undertakes to say how soon we shall crush the rebellion. But no one doubts that we shell do so sooner or later. We may meet with more repulses at Charleston and Vicksburg. General Hooker may be defeated, as General Burnside was. General Rosecrans, who has never yet lost a battle, may meet with trouble. We may lose territory as well as battles. But

none of these disasters will alter our purpose of going on with the work in hand until it is accomplished. There never was a time since the war broke out when the people of the North were more unanimous than they are at present in favor of the prosecution of the war, and against the division of the Union on any terms whatsoever. Whatever disappointments and delays the contest may involve, and whatever sacrifices we may be called upon to undergo—even though a foreign war be superadded to the civil war in which we are engaged—the firm, unequivocal, steadfast purpose of the people of the United States, in the face of defeat, as in the hour of victory, and in spite of all official shortcomings and administrative blunders and incapacity, is to proceed steadily with the war until the rebellion has been crushed, the entire territory of our fathers restored to the national domain, and the blessings of peace secured to our children forever.


ANOTHER of our iron-clad fleet is gone. The Monitor succumbed to the storm; the Keokuk lived eleven hours with nineteen large shot-holes between wind and water, and after sustaining a fire which would have destroyed a wooden ship in ten minutes. Three important points were developed in her short life: 1st, that she was an excellent sea-going steamer; 2d, that she had attained a speed of ten knots an hour; and, 3d, that the ventilation was perfect without artificial aid. Her armor did not prove thick enough, but she was so small that she could not have supported thicker plates. On a larger vessel the armor might be increased.



ON the 28th February an article upon "Antipathy of Race and Religion" appeared in these columns, and allusion was made to the Madrid house of the bankers Rothschild. In reference to that article we have received the following note from W. W. Murphy, Esq., Consul-General of the United States at Frankfort, Germany:


FRANKFORT-ON-THE-MAIN, March 16, 1863.

"In your paper, Harper's Weekly, of February 28, you do a great injustice to the eminent firm of Rothschilds here, when you hint that they are like a certain Rabbi who held opinions that some men were born to be slaves. I know not what the other firms—and there are many of the Rothschilds, all related—in Europe think of slavery, but here the firm of M. A. Von Rothschild & Son are opposed to slavery and in favor of Union. A converted Jew, Erlanger, has taken the rebel loan of £3,000,000, and lives in this city; and Baron Rothschild informed me that all Germany condemned this act of lending money to establish a slaveholding government, and that so great was public opinion against it that Erlanger & Co. dare not offer it on the Frankfort bourse. I further know that the Jews rejoice to think that none of their sect would be guilty of loaning money for the purpose above named; but it was left, they say, for apostate Jews to do it.

"I hope you will correct the statement you made about this firm.   Yours truly,



THE Report of the Committee upon the conduct of the war will be variously interpreted. But no thoughtful man will deny its emphatic testimony to the sagacity of the President. Clear common-sense in the conduct of all affairs, civil and military, is invaluable, and that the President unquestionably has. His mildness and forbearance are no less conspicuous. And it is impossible not to smile when you read the asseverations of patriotic orators of the Copperhead class about the fearful despotism under which we are suffering, and think of the patient waiting upon public opinion of President Lincoln.

Last summer when a friend, who knew and mentioned to the Lounger many of the facts in the report, was asked why the President, having lost confidence in McClellan, did not remove him, he answered rather tartly, "It is not the President's way." Fortunately it is not. This is a people's war. It can prosper only as the people support it. When public opinion fails to justify and continue it, then the nation will be conquered and the Government destroyed. From the beginning, therefore, the President has sought to conduct it in accordance with the public sentiment. He has not moved faster than the general opinion. He has seemed, indeed, to many to lag and linger behind it. The reasons for his course will be clearly enough stated in any proper history of the times, for they are very readily perceived. It may not have been the best conceivable way, but it was the only practicable way.

It is plain, therefore, that while a great political party was interested in McClellan as a possible instrument for future purposes—which was a notorious fact—and while many of all parties were of opinion that be should be allowed a trial of his capacity upon so large a scale and so broad a theatre that every body could see and be satisfied, it would have been extremely unwise in the President to have removed him until the results of the campaign had caused the country to share his convictions. So after Pope's disastrous campaign the temporary appointment of McClellan to the command of the army at Washington was doubtless the best thing practicable under the circumstances; from which the popularity of that General with the army and other Generals was plainly manifest.

In the case of General Burnside, his own frank and generous statement that there was hardly a general officer in his command who approved of his active campaign beyond the Rappahannock,

after the battle of Fredericksburg, was sufficient reason for the President to decline to consent to the movement without consultation. But in the matter of Burnside's General Order No. 8, which he considered essential to the discipline of his army, the President said that the General was right, but he wanted time to advise. Finally, he declined to confirm the order, but refused General Burnside's resignation, and relieved him of his command. It is perfectly clear that this noble and brave soldier, whom the hearts of his countrymen follow and bless, was caballed out of his command. It was clearly unwise to maintain him at the head of an army of which the general officers did not confide in his ability, or who were too deeply devoted to another to be just to him. But there is little doubt that the American people and history will differ in opinion from the general officers. No man's record in this war is more loyal, more able, more soldierly, more manly and spotless than General Burnside's.

The importance of the report as a part of the history of the war is incalculable. It deserves to be printed in a legible type, an honor which it has not yet achieved.


A COPPERHEAD newspaper at the West having declared that Archbishop Hughes favored the new Conscription law and "all the other outrageous acts of the Administration"— adds "Well, who cares? The Right Reverend Archbishop in the Church is good authority, but in politics he is of no more consequence than the humblest citizen. All his predictions and assertions about the war, so far, have been just as far from being fulfilled or sustained by subsequent events as those of the merest country bumpkin."

Thereupon the Archbishop writes to say that he has never had any political course except to fulfill the duties and obligations of a good and loyal citizen as implied in the spirit and letter of his oath of allegiance to the United States Government. He adds: "The Archbishop thinks that if a law of Conscription had been adopted twenty months ago in the North as it had been in the South, the results would be of more humane consequences to both sections than they are to-day."

The Archbishop is evidently of opinion that when the authority of a Government has been wantonly defied by armed rebellion, although up to that moment some kind of conciliation may have been possible, yet from that moment it must be assumed that every citizen is willing to defend civil order at any cost to himself. He shows his wisdom by taking so perfectly common-sensible a view.


WE have been two years at war. We have all been alternately laughing and swearing at the publicity given to military intentions and movements, and we are as childish as ever in doing the same thing. For many months an attack upon Charleston has been projected. Fleets and soldiers have been collecting. That the task was very arduous, every one knew. That the result was doubtful, every body saw. That the newspapers would agree, this time, to say nothing until they had something to say, we fondly believed.

But from the moment the expedition was known to have sailed it seemed to be a necessity to say that we had taken Charleston, that the rebels had very bad news, that the flag would fly again over Sumter upon the anniversary of its disgrace, that General Hunter and Admiral Dupont were in possession, that the back-bone of the rebellion had snapped again. It was telegraphed from Washington. It was surmised in well-informed circles. It was inferred from the want of a flag of truce.

It was reasonable from our preparations. It was, etc., etc., etc.

But ever since General Banks went up the Chowan or Rowan River, in North Carolina, with forty thousand men, and landed to co-operate with Burnside by falling upon Richmond from the rear, and ever since the Chowan or Rowan River turned out to be a prolonged mud puddle, and General Banks did not stop until he reached New Orleans, there has been a salutary distrust of startling information from our expeditions. When, therefore, we read in the morning's paper that we have probably taken Charleston, we are all very sure that we shall see in the first evening edition that the capture of Charleston is not confirmed. Why, thief, should the papers print what can not be believed, yet what can not fail to create an excitement? The editors know, and we all know, that it is not true. Ought we to wonder that every other nation sneers at our childish bravado and fierce gesticulation, unaccompanied by hard knocks?

Meanwhile, of course, let us hope that long before these lines are read Charleston may be ours. But we must remember that for a year the rebels have been engaged in strengthening the position by sea and land. And if you give an enemy time enough he can make almost any place impregnable. A year ago it was different. The Lounger has in his possession a letter written from Charleston upon the 18th of April, 1862, by "Yours sincerely, W. A. Hammond," to "Brig.-Genl. S. R. Anderson, comdg. So. Carolina Volunteers" in Virginia. Mr. Hammond says: "We have every thing prepared so that we can destroy our property (although I doubt the policy of it) on the first appearance of the Federal fleet."

Since that time the Lounger has seen other letters speaking of the constant passage of negroes from the back-country toward Charleston to work upon the fortifications. Thus the works from which fire and death are to be belched upon our brothers, sons, and friends are built under the lash and pistols of overseers to secure the perpetuity and ascendency of slavery. The capture of the city will be no easy task. It is a point of honor with the rebels to defend it. But Charleston is doomed as surely as Babylon. If we recoil now, it is that we may return irresistibly.




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