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Civil War Harper's Weekly, December 12, 1863

We have posted our collection of Harper's Weekly newspapers to this WEB site to enable students to gain a better understanding of the key events of the War. Reading these old papers will take you back in time to a day that the cannons were till firing, and the war was still raging.

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


Civil War Guerrillas


Erie Railway

General Morgan Escape

Escape of John Morgan

Pipe Organ

Boston Music Hall Pipe Organ

Supply Depot

Supply Depot

Running Blockade

Running the Blockade

Boston Music Hall

Boston Music Hall

Rev. Turner

Reverend Turner


Stevenson, Alabama

Pack Mules

Pack Mules

Grant's Map

Map of General Grant's Operations

Columbia Cartoon





[DECEMBER 12, 1863.



WE reproduce on pages 792 and 793 some more of Mr. Davis's sketches, which he describes as follows:



"In many places where the signal officer can not work the excellent arrangement known as 'the courier line' is invaluable.

"Lieutenant Kelly, of the Fourth cavalry, is chief of couriers, and is unceasing in his efforts to render his lines as perfect as may be.

"The stations are distant from each other five miles. In many places the line is a mere trace or trail through the forest. At each station a fresh courier is ever ready to mount as the arriving one is seen approaching, and taking his dispatches he dashes off at a gallop to the next station. In this way we have constant communication with Generals Burnside, Hooker, and Sherman.


"The mule is par excellence the animal for this country. Up and down the steep mountain-sides he goes with certain step, where to take a horse would be almost impossible.

"The mail comes to us by pack-mules; so also do a large quantity of stores. The rebels call this arrangement of ours the cracker line.' My sketch shows a train at a point on Waldron's Ridge at sunrise. From this point is obtained an extended and pleasant view of mountain and valley. At the high point a number of birds are ever on the wing, and seem, as one sees them constantly sailing near the mass of rock, to be on guard.


"At this place the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad is joined by the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. The town is unlike Bridgeport, as it has houses in it; so that one does not domicile under the railroad platform, but in a hotel; and such a hotel! The room that one sleeps in has crowded into it every mortal that it can by any possibility be made to contain, besides divers other inhabitants of an enlivening nature.

"I wish that space could be found for a sketch of the 'Dive for Grub,' Words fail to give any idea of it. Stevenson is an important place for many reasons, and is strongly fortified and held by General Knipe's division."


BEFORE another number of this Journal is published Congress will have met and organized. It will be the first session of the Thirty-eighth Congress.

The work this Congress will have to do will take rank in history, and, if it be well done, will elevate the fame of the body to a level with that of the most distinguished legislative assemblies of the past. For upon it will devolve, in all probability, the readjustment of the political system of the United States, which has been thrown out of gear by the rebellion.

This work, however, can not be commenced on any considerable scale until our armies have made further progress yet. The time has not arrived for attempts to reconstitute State Governments even in Tennessee or Louisiana; and the chances are that, if premature experiments of the kind are made, the rebel sympathizers in those States will contrive to turn them to the advantage of the traitors. Possibly before the adjournment of the session which begins next week, the progress of our arms may have been such as to justify appeals to Southern voters. But it would be very unsafe to try any such experiments just now. So long as the planters of Louisiana and Tennessee can reasonably entertain any hope, however remote, of the success of the rebellion, they can not be expected to use the suffrage against the cause in which their sons and brothers are fighting. When every one, South as well as North, sees that the rebellion is crushed, it will be safe to call upon the Southerners to reconstruct the State systems which they destroyed, and to restore their connection with the General Government. And it will probably devolve upon the Thirty-eighth Congress to determine the conditions upon which this reconstruction and this restoration can be effected. But not just now.

For the present, the most important work of Congress will be amending and readjusting the great measures of the last session. As was natural, experience has developed imperfections in all those measures—though, with one exception, perhaps, all of them are in the main approved by the people.

The financial measures of last session have proved emphatically a success. Government has set afloat $400,000,000 of paper, and sold nearly $400,000,000 of six per cent, bonds at par. It is doubtful whether this system of finance can be improved; and if the war goes on for another year Mr. Chase will probably pay his way half by fresh issues of paper, and half by loans. It would not do to rely exclusively upon loans, as in a very short time the capacity of the people to absorb bonds would be reached, and they would cease to sell. Nor would it be safe to rely exclusively upon paper issues, as unlimited issues would depreciate indefinitely, and

would precipitate the nation into bankruptcy. But by judiciously combining the two a very large amount of bonds can be sold at a fair price, and a very large amount of paper floated without leading to excessive depreciation. No one can yet determine with certainty what is to be the effect of the new interest-bearing legal-tender currency—whether it will facilitate the sale of bonds more than the old kind of legal tender or less. We are rather inclined to think that such issues will not be so readily converted into long bonds as the present currency, which bears no interest. If this view be correct it would probably be prudent to give the Secretary authority to issue more of the old legal tenders, whenever, in his discretion, he found that the sale of his long bonds—which is the great desideratum—was retarded by a scarcity of money.

Owing to delays at the Treasury Department, the national currency has not yet been set afloat, and nothing has yet been practically ascertained with regard to the working of the new Banking Law. How it will conflict with existing State laws, how it will affect the money-market, whether it will give any, and, if yes, what assistance to the Government in the present crisis, are still undetermined problems, on which financiers differ widely. The act of last session will need modification in some important particulars.

On the subject of the army, one or two rather important changes are required. If we are to have black soldiers, and no one now objects to them, they should be paid as much as white ones. It has been suggested that any Northern State should be at liberty to fill its quota with escaped Southern slaves, so as to give to the latter the bounties offered in all Northern States. At present, the Government gets the benefit of the services of black soldiers escaping from slavery without paying them bounties or even soldier's wages. This is unjust and un-businesslike, and must be altered if we are to have a black army. It is probable that the Conscription Act will be altered, and the price of substitutes thrown open to competition. The $300 clause has not worked well. Cities, counties, and municipalities, under the lead of terrified demagogues, have, in many instances, stepped forward and paid the money for their whole quota. Thus the Government has been compelled to order another draft, and is decidedly short of men. If the $300 clause is retained, it seems likely that a draft may be needed every three months.

New legislation is required on the subject of trade with the States in insurrection. This year that trade has been pretty much under the control of every commander who happened to have charge of a cotton-bearing district, and gross frauds and mischief have been the consequence. It would seem better absolutely to stop all trade with the South until the war ends. Of the Confiscation Act the general opinion is that it was a gross mistake and should be repealed. It has not impoverished the South or enriched the Government to the extent of a dollar; and every useful purpose which it was expected to achieve can be attained by a simple act protecting the rights of squatters on abandoned estates.

Many other minor matters will require revision. Some change must be made in the law regulating enlistments for the navy. The exchange of prisoners must be placed on a fair and permanent basis, and power given to the President to retaliate when our soldiers, prisoners in rebel hands, are maltreated. The case of the vessels burned by pirates fitted out in foreign countries to prey on our commerce might incidentally be the subject of legislation. The Internal Revenue Act and the Tariff will likewise require a good deal of alteration, and will give the Committee of Ways and Means no little anxiety.


IF we except the blowing of Indian prisoners of war from the mouths of cannon by British soldiers in 1858 and 1859, nothing more atrocious has occurred in the history of our time than the recent bombardment of the town of Kagosima, in Japan, by the British fleet under Admiral Kuper.

The excuse for this outrage was the murder of an Englishman who, with the arrogance of his race, had undertaken to violate one of the prejudices of the Japanese, and who paid the penalty of his folly with his life. By way of retribution, the British first extorted a large sum of money from the Japanese Government, and, having got this, proceeded to bombard a town as large as Boston, without warning to the women or children. The ruffian who commanded the British vessels on this occasion actually felicitated himself and his Government on his belief that "at least half the town had been set in flames." And these are the Pecksniffs who abuse Gilmore for using Greek fire against a place from which all women and children had been warned a month before!

It seems likely that the English will find they have an elephant on their hands in Japan. Their business with the Japanese is to sell them British manufactures. They will discover that they can not bombard them into buying British goods as easily as they bombarded the Chinese Government into repealing the prohibition on imports

of opium. The Japanese will fight. The English may destroy "half a town" here and there, and put to death numbers of helpless women and children, but the population of the Japanese islands, led by the Daimios, will not give up the contest. And we are much mistaken if the Japanese sailors, who are brave and enterprising, do not presently carry the war outside of their own waters.

Bombarding a flourishing sea-port without notice is a very grand achievement, no doubt. But the God of War frowns upon such atrocities, and they seldom lead to any thing but disaster.



THE speech lately delivered by Mr. Fernando Wood at Bergen, in New Jersey, is a good illustration of the marvelous strength of our Government. In the midst of a fierce civil war directed against the very existence of the Government, an orator under its protection deliberately defends the course of those who are trying to overthrow it; justifies the terrible massacre of loyal citizens, the desolation of homes, the fearful sufferings occasioned by the rebellion; appeals to the basest prejudices and passions of his hearers as before the bloody riots of the last summer in New York; calmly declares that effort of the Government of the people to maintain itself is simply carnage and fanaticism; and sits down amidst the wild applause of the enemies of the Republic and of the human race, and amidst the perfect contempt of all faithful citizens, who maintain their own Government even in tolerating his talk.

Mr. Fernando Wood is the Magnus Apollo of the faction which through the mouths of such friends of law and order as Mr. Chauncey Burr and Mr. Andrews of Virginia, now of Fort Lafayette, and through the newspapers which are their organs, incessantly declare that the Government has destroyed every constitutional right, and has become a military despotism. Will any honorable man who has been secretly afraid that it might be so reflect that no Government whatever, ancient or modern, has ever passed through such mortal peril with such an absolute respect for every right whatever? Even in its darkest hour, at a time when the most arbitrary action is justified by the nature of the course, the conduct of our Government was less panic-stricken, and more reasonable in the exercise of power, than was ever known. There has not been a moment during the war when any honest and intelligent American has really feared for the liberty of the citizen. The assertion of such danger has been confined entirely to political aspirants out of power like Horatio Seymour, to demagogues like Fernando Wood, and to riot ringleaders like Mr. Andrews of Virginia. These gentlemen and their newspaper organs represent neither the faith nor the fidelity of the American people. Before yielding to any policy whatever which they favor, let every man ask himself what would have been the conduct of the war, and how secure would our liberties, our honor, and our Government have been, had they been intrusted to the guardianship of Andrews, Seymour, Wood, Burr, and Company?


IF the city of New York could be taken as a test, there is no man who would not frankly own that the popular system of government is a ludicrous failure. There is no city in the world where the citizens pay so much and get so little. There is certainly no city in the world where intelligent and decent people surrender themselves to a band of knaves with such good humor as in New York. It has now gone so far that no man has any hope of prevailing against corruption; and all honest men pray that corruption may become so flagrant that revolted common sense will rise and succor the city.

The popular system fails here because its success presupposes a certain degree of popular intelligence and conscience. But the most miserable and ignorant of other countries are shot into New York like rubbish: they become the willing slaves of the word Democracy; they are led by the demagogues who depend upon their votes for success; they are flattered by the capitalists who fear their excesses, and hope to purchase safety by the spell of "fellow-Democrats;" and the result is that the mass of honest, sober, intelligent, and substantial citizens are overborne by those who have no political ideas or principles, no native attachments or national instincts, and who clutch at the word democracy as a talisman of safety.

It is but a few years since the State was obliged to interfere to save the city from itself. With a Mayor who had escaped the State Prison only in virtue of the statute of limitations, and who controlled the police for his own purposes, the liberty and security of the citizens were really in his power. When the State properly came to the rescue this magistrate of course rebelled, and there was a display of military force before he yielded. Since then the peace of the city has been maintained by the State police, who showed their bravery and capacity in the days of July and the reign of a riot produced by the machinations of the former Mayor and his accomplices. If by any chance the police should again be made the tools of a, magistrate elected and bound as the Mayor of New York is, the failure of the popular system in the city will be seen even more plainly than it is now.


WHILE the great battle rages against the present management of the Central Railroad in this State, the chief practical consideration of the traveler is, how safely, rapidly, comfortably, and cheaply he is transported. If those conditions are satisfied

he will be an eminently conservative friend of the present management. But the warmest and the most conservative friend can not widen the gauge of the track, and therefore, for the through traveler to the West, the Erie Railway is the most comfortable.

The poor Erie has had a hard time of it since that famous opening when the President and his Secretaries—Daniel Webster was Secretary of State —and the statesmen—Seward was there and Douglas—all filled the cars and went speech-making through the wilds of Southwestern New York. The poor road has been a by-word at certain times since those days until at last it has lost its old distinctive title and reappears as the Erie Railway.

The change of name in this case betokens a change of nature. The trains now run promptly and safely. The long delays and one or two fearful accidents formerly chilled public confidence, and, once lost, it is with great difficulty regained. But the new, spacious, well-ventilated, comfortable cars are now unsurpassed upon any road in the country. The officers of the train are quiet and polite, nor are the cars too crowded. The route lies through the noblest scenery, opening at last into the great forests toward Lake Erie. It is somewhat solitary but very grand. You may take the word of an old traveler who has much experience of railroad traveling, that you will not take a more comfortable journey than that upon the Erie Railway.


THE daily papers are very justly attacking the nuisance of overcrowded street cars. The various companies which make so much money amass a fair share of it by swindling the public. A man who pays them five cents buys a seat. If he does not get it they have defrauded him. He buys not only transport but accommodation—and although the company put him out of the cars if he breaks his part of the contract, the company goes unscathed if it breaks its own part. If any Legislature man wishes his name to smell sweet in the streets of New York—where nothing else does—let him introduce a law at the next session, compelling the companies to obey their charters. Of course he will be confronted by another law. But let him boldly try conclusions and depend upon the gratitude of the public.

It is vain to say that no such law can be enforced; that at certain hours the cars are sure to be overcrowded. When there is a law the way will appear. We are all ludicrously pusillanimous in the matter; and while every man is, or should be, willing to give his place to a woman, the remedy is in his own hands. It is a cause in which the most corrugated conservative will be willing to agitate.


THE events of the last few weeks, glorious and inspiring, have brought out again the somewhat mossy remark that the back of the rebellion is broken. That depends not upon the victories in the field, but upon the spirit of the people. If we suppose that the war was a freak or a burst of ill-temper, we shall say, "There, be a good boy and sit down!" If we believe it to be the result of causes long and deep, we shall beware lest the enemy who has so long defied us in the field should outwit us in council. It will be very easy to surrender the victory and call it magnanimity; to betray the cause of the country and call it conciliation; to plaster over the cancer and call it peace.

Any use of the triumph of our arms which proceeds upon any other principle than that slavery is the rebellion will be merely a truce. The laws of human nature are as absolute as those of gravity and the tides. When Charles Second returned to his father's throne the bonfires blazed, the streets ran wine, but his return was only a reaction twenty years long. If slavery should return, modest and deferential, we may cry Peace, peace; but the ghost of Patrick Henry would murmur our answer.

Happily slavery in all the chief Slave States is abolished; nor is there any power on earth, except military force, that can restore it. It has passed beyond the control of the people of those States, for the freedmen are freed by the national authority, and the slave-trade is illegal. If any State should assume to deprive any part of its citizens of their personal and civil rights, the people would not forget that the Constitution secures a republican form of government to every State. There is an amusing theory sometimes advanced that the Proclamation is a bull against the Comet, because any State can re-enact a slave system. We should like to see how. Does any body gravely suppose that a simple vote of the majority is enough to deprive any portion of the citizens of a State of their natural rights? Of their eyes, for instance, or ears, or of their life or liberty, without crime?

The part of wisdom, therefore, as of peace, is to understand the change that has taken place, and adjust ourselves to it. The party at the South and North which has no other principle than the inviolability of slavery—Governor Seymour, for instance, who says that if the Union can not be maintained but by abolishing slavery it had better be destroyed—will make a desperate stand for it in some form. Forewarned is forearmed. Let these gentlemen understand that it is not an open question. The rebels must submit to the Government. The lives of their young men, the happiness of their homes, the property, and the slaves which they have sacrificed in the struggle, will never be restored. If that is our resolution, the back of the rebellion is exceedingly strained. If not, they are as near victory as ever.


THE London loungers, and indeed the world of clubmen and gossip, have a fruitful topic in the scandal about Lord Palmerston. He is Prime Minister of Great Britain, and eighty-four years old, and a lawyer, known only as what we should call a "shyster," produces a criminal charge (Next Page)




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