Soldier's Letter


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, August 29, 1863

This site presents an online archive of all the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. These papers will take you back in time to the days the war was being fought. It give details of the attitudes and issues of the day, as they happened.

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


David Farragut

David Farragut

Draft Editorial

Draft Editorial

Soldier's Letter

A Soldier's Letter

The Hartford

The "Hartford"

Black Soldier's Funeral

Black Soldier's Funeral

Prisoners in New Orleans

New Orleans Prisoners

Draft Resistance

Draft Resistance

Fort Wagner

Bombardment of Fort Wagner


Dumfries, Virginia

Balck Troops at Fort Wagner

Black Troops Before Fort Wagner




AUGUST 29, 1863.]




SOME years since Judge Daly earned a most enviable fame by the energy and ability with which he conducted the trial of the Macready rioters. Recorder Hoffman has been doing a similar good work in the matter of the July riots. The force and clearness of his introductory charge were not more admirable than the candor and incisiveness of his direction of each case. The question is perfectly simple, and he has not for a moment suffered it to be complicated. The pleas for the convicted prisoners were merely harangues in which the speakers sought to inflame the prejudices and passions of the jury, precisely as their clients had excited those of the mob.

Thus in the case of the man indicted for leading the attack upon the Tribune office, after the attorney for the defense had rung the usual changes upon the views and conduct of the editor, Mr. Greeley, the Recorder very trenchantly disabused the minds of the jury, reminding them that they were not trying the views of Mr. Greeley, or of the prisoner, or of any body else; that they were not settling the origin of the war, nor the character of General McClellan; but they were deciding upon the evidence whether the prisoner had incited a mob against the peace of the community. The conclusion was inevitable. The prisoner was convicted.

To commend a judge for uprightness should be an insult to the bench. But when a magistrate sits in the city of New York, where M'Cunn is called Judge, such commendation simply indicates that he is one who wears the unsoiled ermine. By his impartial conduct of the late trials Recorder Hoffman has won honor and troops of friends. Nor does his just praise lessen that of the prosecuting officers and juries who have shared with him the labor of the court.


IMMEDIATELY upon the election of the Honorable Fernando Wood to the Speakership of the House of Representatives it is understood that the policy of the Sing Sing conservatives will be further illustrated by the appointment of Mr. Isaiah Rynders as Chaplain of the House, of Mr. M'Cunn as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and of Mr. Andrews, now of Fort Lafayette, as Chief of the Metropolitan Police. When Mr. Wood is elected Speaker his "conservative" friend Mr. John B. Floyd will be called to the head of the United States Treasury in place of Mr. Chase; General Meade will be superseded in Virginia by the "conservative" General Robert E. Lee; and Mr. Vallandigham will be made Secretary of War.

These will be but the first steps of the Sing Sing programme for the restoration of peace to the country, and of dignity, unity, and perpetuity to the national Government.


DEAR LOUNGER,—You are a howling Abolition fanatic, and one of old Abe's most caitiff minions; but it is good policy to make use of enemies, so I send you the following resolutions which I have prepared for all Democratic Conventions that wish to ride on two horses or sit on two stools. You can print them, and so I shall save postage. I merely wish to add that I spit in advance upon all Abolition vermin who dare to impugn my patriotism. Here are the resolutions:

1st. Resolved, That we are in favor of the war.

2d. Resolved, That we are opposed to all measures for carrying it on.   Your obedient servant,



THE letter of James Buchanan to Jefferson Davis, dated March 16, 1850, and lately made public, is a striking illustration of the servile obsequiousness of the Northern political allies of the slaveholders who governed this country until two years ago. The cringing, fawning, supplicating, shivering, slobbering tone of this letter is that of an eastern slave addressing a despot. It makes the disdain of the master respectable. How could Jefferson Davis and his fellow-conspirators possibly persuade themselves that a country which, at their bidding, could elect as President such a craven tool as they knew Buchanan to be, would even try to resist the fate which they, with his connivance, had prepared for the country?

The sole aim of this man was to propitiate the slaveholding class. His only desire was to impress a scornful Southern leader with the conviction that he was "more Southern than the South." He knew no country but "the South." He knew nothing to be served but slavery. He was grateful if he might pander to it, and he thanked his masters humbly for the wages of a pimp. "Don't chastise me," he cries; "I have always worked for you; I went to Congress in December, 1821, and I have always done more for you than any other man. To be sure when I was very young I was once so excited as not to be responsible, and I did happen to be put upon a committee to do something that was honorable. But I humbly beg your pardon. On my knees I swear to you that I didn't mean it. Cameron is a scamp for betraying me. Just see how consistently base I have been ever since! Please honor me by reading the speech I send, which, being utterly mean, wholly pleases me." And what Buchanan said in 1850 the Copperheads say now, in the same spirit and for the same purpose.

This was the man who succeeded Franklin Pierce as President. After the two civil war or national death were inevitable.


SINCE Morgan has been arrested and sent to the Ohio Penitentiary, is it not almost time for the Copperheads to announce that the Lincoln Despotism has again destroyed the constitutional rights of the citizen; and for Jefferson Davis to write one of those letters which impress Copperheads and

Britons with so profound a sense of his ability, dignity, and piety, remonstrating against our inhuman and uncivilized system of warfare?


HERE is a soldier's letter, from Camp Douglas, near Chicago. The Lounger heartily commends it to its readers:

"LOUNGER FRIEND,—May a soldier lounge and talk a little while by your easy-chair?

"This is a time of most imperative necessities, and the most urgent of all our needs is the need of men. Not only men who will rally to the flag with rifle and knapsack, but men to stay at home as well. We must have more men every where, or we are lost—men with hearts and souls, and the earnest will to use them. Institutions, constitutions, charters, statutes all are good, if they are of the right kind; but they don't amount to any thing unless they are in the right kind of hands. If we put the scales of justice into the hands of a thief what becomes of their virtue? Grand ideas, like royal robes, must have kingly men to fit them, or they will not be properly worn.

"We must have a great, deep reservoir of strong manhood, to give force and volume to our rushing torrent of destiny, or it will be no river, only a brawling brook. These are day, to try men's souls, and it is soul that tells. We have pinned ourselves too much to the past. We seem to think our fathers were good enough for two or three generations. We have wrapped ourselves in the folds of the patriarchs' robes, and seemed to suppose that we should be borne with the ascending patriarchs to heaven. It is time we found out that it was not the garments, but the Fathers, who went to heaven; and that if we go there we must wear our own clothes, and work our own passage.

"We must have men, and to have them we must be men. We forget the fact that history has the unit Man for its base. Let's keep that fact in view, and each of us see to it that his account with God and the next generation is well adjusted.

"'Humph!' says Gradgrind; 'what's the use of such Utopian schemes of redemption as that? Look at the facts of the case, and see what likelihood you think there is of converting politicians, and business men, and the lower rabble into a commonwealth of transcendental theorists.'

"Gradgrind thy name is a good many, and thou art practical. I will be practical also. Let every man who is reasonably clear-headed and decently honest—let him act up to the honest promptings of his conscience, or even of common decency, and we shall have purity enough in action to at least save us from the plottings of political demagogues and home traitors. Let every man who acknowledges within him a soul use it as a soul ought to be used, and we are saved. There is nothing impracticable or visionary about that, is there? It there is, God pity us, for we are past praying for indeed.

"Nobody supposes that the 1st of January, 1865, or 6, or 9, will find this country warmed and lighted with the Millennium. We are not going to come out of this war serene and placid, with our passions pleasantly subdued, and our prejudices chained and under foot, and with nothing noticeable about us except our extraordinary development of all the moral and political virtues. However good our luck may be, it is going to take us a long time to make the seething elements of these times homogeneous, and to get our boiling black tides into the smooth, vigorous flow of progress. If the last days of our generation shall see the principles which the present days are working into shadowy shape, in a fair way for embodiment, and the wheels of our history set toward the front with the commencing movement forward, we shall have done well.

"We shall always have—every great nation will always have—a good deal of filth and foulness that boils up in draft riots and froths over in Vallandigham addresses. But if we can't develop among us currents of pure manliness strong enough and broad enough to flow through and over these stinking dregs, and set the machinery of our progress in vigorous and successful motion, then truly the nations may ask each other the gibing question—all the more bitter that we shall know the answer our history has furnished it—'Are the American people fit to embody the American Idea?'


'Camp Douglas Chicago."


THE court of inquiry to investigate the facts and circumstances of the evacuation of Winchester and Martinsburg was organized at Washington on 15th. The court consists of Brigadier-General BARRY, President, and Brigadier-Generals ABERCROMBIE and DE RUSSY, members, and Captain R. N. SCOTT, Judge-Advocate. The court commenced to hear evidence on Monday morning, 17th.

Acting-Master FREDERICK D. STEWART, formerly of New York, has been ordered to the command of the gun-boat Fuchsia.

General OSTERHAUS left St. Louis on August 17 to join his command in Mississippi.

The body of Colonel CORNYN reached St. Louis on 16th. His funeral took place on 17th with appropriate military honors.

First Lieutenant D. L. MONTGOMERY, of the Seventeenth United States Infantry, has relieved Captain DE RUSSY, of General HEINTZELMAN'S staff as Commissary of Musters for the Twenty-second Corps. Captain DE RUSSY asked to be relieved.

The order dismissing Captain GUSTAV MEISER from the service has been revoked, and he has been granted an honorable discharge.

The death of Commodore MORRIS took place in this city on Friday, August 14, in the fifty-eighth year of his age, after a protracted and painful illness. He had recently returned from New Orleans, where he had been second in command to Admiral FARRAGUT since the possession of that city by the Union authorities.

General LOGAN made a speech at Cairo on 14th to the largest outdoor audience ever assembled there.

Rear-Admiral PORTER returned on 14th with the flag-ship Black Hawk. A salute was fired in his honor by the gun-boats off the levee.

General ASBOTH, at Columbus, Kentucky, has been relieved by order of General GRANT, and General A. J. SMITH takes command there.

Brigadier-General JAMES M. TUTTLE has received the Democratic nomination for Governor of Iowa, in place of MATURIN L. FISHER, who declined. Mr. TUTTLE was nominated by the State Central Committee. He is now in active service in the field, and in that position we do not see how he can be popular with the Copperheads.

Colonel Sir PEROY WYNDHAM was in town last week en route for Saratoga.

The United States steamer Albatross arrived at New Orleans lately from Galveston, bringing as passenger Commodore BELL, who relieves Admiral FARRAGUT in that department. The Commodore enters at once upon the discharge of his duties. Admiral FARRAGUT was relieved at his own request.

General BLUNT and his staff, with a small escort, have just returned from Tah-lah-quah, about twenty-six miles from Fort Blunt.

Intelligence has been received at St. Louis that the rebel General HOLMES died recently of delirium tremens.

General DODGE is still quite low, but improving. No danger is apprehended from his sickness.

Brigadier-General JOSEPH W. REVERE, who was tried by court-martial at Falmouth, on May 12, Major-General W. S. HANCOCK, president, and found guilty of misbehavior before the enemy, and of conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline, was sentenced to be dismissed from the military service of the United States. The President has approved the finding, and ordered the sentence to be carried into effect August 10.

Second Lieutenant ALPHEUS SCOTT, of Company L, Sixth Iowa cavalry, has also been dismissed the service by order of the President, for conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, he having appeared before the regiment in a beastly state of intoxication while on the march.

Surgeon ALFRED WYNKOOP, United States Volunteers, court-martialed for giving Virginia secession sympathizers information of important movements of our troops, has been convicted and sentenced to be dismissed the service.

Last week Major-General Joe. J. PECK and staff left Fortress Monroe on the steamer C. W. Thomas, Captain EGBERT CARY, for Newbern, having been assigned by General FOSTER to the command of the Eighteenth Army Corps.

Commander MURRAY has been detached from special duty at the Navy Department, and has been ordered to the Wateree.

On 15th, screw steamer Western World took on board the Admiral of the fleet, S. P. LEE, from his flag-ship, screw frigate Minnesota, 49, off New Inlet, and conveyed him to Beaufort, whence he went by rail to Newbern.

Colonel GREEN, Chief Quarter-master of the Department of Washington, has prepared an admirable plan for the erection of a permanent contraband village on Arlington Heights, and the work is to be commenced at once.

General GIBBON is rapidly recovering from the severe wound he received at Gettysburg.

Major HAZZARD of the 16th New York Cavalry is to be given the command of a brigade.

General WILLIAM HARRON, commanding the second division if the Second Corps, in place of General GIBBON, wounded, left Washington last week for Indiana on a leave of absence.

CHARLES H. GREEN, Quarter-master Sergeant at Fort Columbus, Governor's Island, has been promoted to a Second Lieutenancy in the 5th United States Artillery.

Brigadier-General THOMAS WELCH, commanding the First Division of the Ninth Army Corps, died at Cincinnati on 14th of congestive fever, caught during the campaign in Mississippi.

Second Lieutenant VALENTINE HITCHCOCK, Company G, One Hundred and Eleventh Pennsylvania Volunteers, for cowardice in the presence of the enemy, has been cashiered, and his name, crime, and place of abode have been ordered to be published in the newspapers in and about the camp, and in the particular State from whence he came.

Second Lieutenant JAMES H. VAN NOSTRAND, Company K, First Long Island Volunteers, for drunkenness on duty, has been cashiered; and, for the same offense, Second Lieutenant W. H. TANNER, Company B, Sixty-fifth regiment New Yolk Volunteers, has received the same punishment.

Second Lieutenant E. B. GREGORY, Company I, Sixty-fifth regiment New York Volunteers, for disobedience of orders and disrespect toward his superior officers, has been dismissed the United States service.

THOMAS JEWETT, Company D, Fifth Maine Volunteers, for desertion, was sentenced to be shot to death. General MEADE approved the sentence, and ordered that it be carried into effect in presence of the division on Friday, the 14th inst., between the hours of 12 M. and 4 o'clock P.M.

The Miantonomah, the first iron-clad built entirety by the Government, was launched at the Brooklyn Navy-yard on 8th. Her dimensions are—between perpendiculars, 250 feet; extreme length, 259 feet 3 inches; width of beam, 52 feet 10 inches; depth of hold, 14 feet 9 inches; 1800 tons.

The charges against Colonel DE FOREST, of the Fifth Regiment, Harris Cavalry, are for defrauding the Government of upward of sixty thousand dollars, which, it is alleged, he did by false bills of articles which were never purchased for his regiment. The Colonel is now in this city under arrest, and will soon be tried, the Government having turned him over to the care of the United States District-Attorney.

Colonel B. L. BELL, of the Regular Army, died in Baltimore on August 12, at his residence in M'Cullough Street, after five months' illness, from old age and an enfeebled constitution, caused by hard services. He was the oldest cavalry Colonel in the service, having been through the Florida and Mexican wars, and was twice brevetted for gallant services. He built all the forts from the western border of Texas to the Pacific, and was in command as General in California after its annexation to the United States.

On 19th the United States Steamer Fort Jackson was formally put in commission as a regular man-of-war of the United States Navy. She is armed and equipped after the fashion of a first-class corvette, and has a crew of picked sailors. A few months since this vessel was purchased from Mr. VANDERBILT by the Government. She was called the Union when in the service of the "Commodore," and had just attained a reputation of excellence which made the Government purchase her.

A commission was issued on 15th, in Boston, appointing Lieutenant-Colonel EDWARD N. HALLOWELL as Colonel of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment, in place of Colonel SHAW, recently killed in action in the last assault on Fort Wagner. Colonel HALLOWELL was wounded in the assault where Colonel SHAW fell, but, it is stated, has nearly recovered from his injuries. This appointment is a deserved compliment to a brave and accomplished gentleman. Colonel HALLOWELL is a Pennsylvanian, and one of the fighting Quakers.

Brigadier-General SALOMON, recently in command of the district of Helena, Arkansas, is at present on a visit to his friends at Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Lieutenant L. C. HODGES has been assigned to the Chief Quarter-mastership of the Department of the Cumberland.

The order heretofore issued dismissing Captain R. H. S. HYDE, One Hundred and Ninth New York Volunteers, on the ground of disloyalty, has been revoked by the President. The evidence submitted on behalf of Captain HYDE proved the charge utterly groundless.

Colonel HANNIBAL DAY, of the Sixth Infantry, and Lieutenant-Colonel GEORGE NAUMAN, of the First Artillery, have been put on the retired list at their own request.

The New Orleans Era announces the death, August 5, of Dr. D. W. WAINWRIGHT, Surgeon United States Army, who died on board the ship Black Hawk at that port, of typhoid fever, after an illness of ten days. His remains are to be sent North.

Brigadier-General STEDMAN has been relieved of the command of the Second Brigade of BRANNAN'S Division, and ordered to report to General GRANGER. It is hinted that he will soon have command of a division.



OUR advices from Charleston are to the 16th instant (Sunday) from Fortress Monroe, relating the state of affairs up to Friday morning. At that time the batteries on Morris Island opened fire for a few hours, during which the walls of Fort Sumter were made to scatter bricks and mortar extensively. The Monitors did not fire a shot, however. It was confidently stated that the great fight was to come off on Sunday, the 16th, and the fullest expectations of a triumphant result were entertained by the

officers in command. Our heavy guns are making sad havoc on Sumter, and have breached the walls exposed to the fire of the batteries.


Rebel news from Charleston to the 16th inst., two days later than received from our own side, reaches us by way of Chattanooga. The Rebel, printed in that city, on the 16th published dispatches announcing that a general bombardment by Gilmore's batteries and the iron-clads was commenced on the day previous—Saturday—and was awful in its character; that the fire was chiefly directed against Sumter, and that the fight was still going on when the Rebel was put to press. The officer who communicates to the Government the contents of the Rebel, says that the editor, instead of making any boast about the result or manifesting the least jubilant feeling over the situation of affairs at Charleston, exhibits the most positive evidence of gloom.


There are signs of motion in the Army of the Potomac. A demonstration was made by the enemy on 17th on the left of our army, and heavy cannonading was heard for a long time. The impression at head-quarters was that a battle was going on in the direction of United States Ford, or probably toward Fredericksburg, but no intelligence of that kind having reached Washington last night it is most likely that it was merely a reconnoissance.


General Grant has forwarded dispatches to the Government recommending that trade be opened to all loyal citizens, with certain restrictions—a measure which it is said will bring into market thousands of bales of the staple now hidden,


The latest report of Bragg locates him at Chattanooga, in command of only 25,000 men—he having lost some 10,000 by desertion during and succeeding his recent retreat. Joe Johnston is still reported at Enterprise and Brandon, Mississippi, also with 25,000 men. One-third of his force is said to have deserted. West Tennessee is now reported clear of guerrillas. Our latest dispatches from the Southwest state that Governor Foster, of Alabama, has issued an address to the citizens of that State urging the impressment of slaves into the rebel service.


It is reported that within the past few days no less than seventeen large steamers, loaded with stores, consisting of blankets, shoes, and uniforms, eleven locomotives, 96,000 English rifles, etc., ran the blockade at Wilmington, North Carolina.


General Pope telegraphs:


To Major-General Halleck, General-in-Chief:

The following dispatch from General Sibley, dated August 7, is just received:

We had three desperate engagements with 2200 Sioux warriors, in each of which they were routed and finally driven across the Missouri with the loss of all their subsistence, etc. Our loss was small, while at least one hundred and fifty of the savages were killed and wounded. Forty-six bodies have been. found.

H. SIBLEY, Brigadier-General.

General Sully marched from Fort Pierre for the big bend of the Missouri on the 20th of July with 1200 cavalry, and will doubtless intercept the flying Sioux.

Little Crow, the principal chief and instigator of the Indian hostilities, has been killed and his son captured. Indian hostilities east of the Missouri River may be considered at an end.

JOHN POPE, Major-General.


A diplomatic party set out from Washington last week on an excursion among the lakes and rivers of New York. The party consists, as we understand, as follows: Mr. Seward, Secretary of State; Baron Gerolt, the Minister of Prussia; Mr. Molina, the Minister of Nicaragua; Mr. Tassara, the Minister of Spain; Lord Lyons, the British Minister; Baron Stoeckl, the Russian Minister; M. Mercier, the French Minister; M. Schleiden, the Hanseatic Minister; M. Bernatti, the Italian Minister, Count Piper, the Swedish Minister; M. Astaburaga, the Chilean Minister; and several secretaries and attaches of the different legations. The first place they stopped at was Sharon Springs.



RICHMOND, July 15, 1863.

Hon. J. A. Seddon, Secretary of War:

SIR,—The fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson exposes to the enemy the cotton purchased by the Government in Mississippi and Louisiana. I learn that many of the planters, in whose care this cotton was, will probably leave their plantations, so that there will be no person to whom the duty can be intrusted of preserving the cotton, if it can be preserved, or of destroying it where it is likely to fall into the hands of the enemy. Under these circumstances I would respectfully submit that the subject be placed under the control of the commanding Generals, and that they be instructed to destroy all such cotton as can not be preserved from the hands of the enemy. With much respect, your obedient servant,

C. G. MEMMINGER, Secretary of the Treasury.


We learn something of the doings of the pirates Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, by late news from Brazil to the 8th ult. Three American vessels were captured by the pirates off that coast, two of which were ransomed on heavy bonds—namely, the ships Sunrise and the City of Bath—and the other, the Conrad, was armed and converted into a pirate.



IT is said that Louis Napoleon has written a letter to Archduke Maximilian, urging him to accept the Mexican throne. The Archduke felt inclined to consent, and had consulted the Pope on the subject.



It is generally agreed to that instead of a collective note to Russia, each of the three Cabinets will forward a separate note, identical in idea, to St. Petersburg. It is stated that Austria declines going beyond diplomatic action.



The Emperor of Austria has called a conference at Frankfort, at which the German sovereigns have signified their intention to be present—the King of Prussia, however, declining. The object of the conference is to elicit the feeling of Germany and the empire in regard to Polish affairs.



The first session of he eighth Parliament of United Canada was opened by the Governor-General on August 13. The Government carried their Speakership candidates in both Houses—in the Council by acclamation, and in the Assembly by 8 majority. The Ministerial candidate in the Assembly received 43 Upper Canadian votes and 23 Lower Canada, while the Opposition cast 40 Lower Canadian votes and 18 Upper Canadian. The speech of the Governor-General, delivered from the throne on the next day, recommended an improvement of the Militia Law, and the taking into consideration of telegraphic and postal communication between Lake Superior and the Pacific coast.




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