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Civil War Harper's Weekly, December 26, 1863

Harper's Weekly was the primary source of news and information for people who lived during the Civil War. Families would eagerly await each issue, hoping to learn of the progress in the war, and perhaps read something of a loved ones unit. Today, these newspapers are a priceless treasure, and an incredible resource for adding color to the Civil War.

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



The Chesapeake



Abraham Lincoln's Amnesty Proclamation

Capture Lookout Mountain

Capture of Lookout Mountain

Fighting Among the Clouds

Fighting Among the Clouds


John Brough

Jeff Davis Cartoon

Lookout Mountain

Battle of Lookout Mountain

Christmas Morning

Christmas Morning







[DECEMBER 26, 1863.



IN the first grand days of the prophets

God stood with His armed men;

In the last grand days of the Christians

He standeth with them again.


His presence then won the battle

That was for the Christ to be;

And His presence now is conquest

For the Christ that made men free.


And the early strife was holy,

By the peace it ushered in;

And the later is God's commandment,

By the peace it hath to win.


For the peace of Christ hath millions

Accepted the battle trust;

And yet, till His peace is perfect,

Shall war for the right be just:


War for the right unshaken,

To partake not of a sin;

War with its outward horrors,

And the heavenly peace within.

The right is the peace eternal—

And thus is this Christmas morn

Rich in that day's fruition

When the Prince of Peace was born.




THE Message of this year is the most important document ever submitted by the Executive to Congress and the country. Elsewhere in our columns we give an abstract of its important points, and in the President's own words, because a conciser and clearer statement is not possible. There has been occasionally some sharp criticism of his "style," but there are few state papers more direct and incisive than his. He knows exactly what he means to say, and exactly how to say it. And when his Messages and letters are compared with those of our Chief Magistrates for many a year, their true American ring, their manly faith in human rights and the people, are as unprecedented as they are inspiring.

The President's plan of reconstruction is familiar to all our readers. It is simple and radical; it is also inevitable. For either the rebels must be left to determine when to throw down their arms and rush back to the Union to secure political power, or they must understand that their chiefs are excepted from pardon, and that the system for which they took up arms having ceased legally to exist, all hope of its restoration must be abandoned. The former is the Copperhead plan. It proposes that whenever a rebel chooses to say that he returns to his allegiance he may resume all his political rights. The President's plan proposes that he shall resume his political rights, not when he says that he is sorry, but when he says that he is sorry in such a manner that he can reasonably be believed.

That something more than an oath to the Constitution is necessary to secure the peace of the Union is clear enough from the fact that Jefferson Davis himself does not allow that he has violated his oath. In his view secession is consistent with the Constitution. Resistance to coercion is not, according to him and the State Rights school, rebellion. Simple repetition of such an oath, therefore, would be merely the first step to another conspiracy, because it leaves the object of the conspiracy untouched. Now the paramount duty of the Government is not merely to subdue, but to prevent rebellion. But it is clear that when the rebel guns are silenced the Union is not necessarily restored. The initiative of political action in the States which rebellion will leave sullen and passive must proceed from the National Government. And how more simply and wisely than as the Message suggests?

The President has been often accused of tardily following instead of leading public opinion. But it is his great merit that he early saw this to be a war in which the people must save themselves. If they were unequal to the task, a popular government was a failure. And therefore he has sought only to be the executive magistrate of their will, which he has divined with more sagacity than any public man in our history. It is that sagacity which now admonishes him to put into clear and simple form the settlement to which the national common-sense irresistibly tends. He has done it. Not as an advocate, or partisan, or fanatic, but with the same wisdom and passionless equity which has marked his official career from the moment he commended himself to the prayers of his old friends and neighbors at Springfield, and set forth to undertake as vast a duty as was ever committed to man.


As the Message of the President of the United States is evidently a simple appeal to the intelligence of a great free people, so that of Jefferson Davis is an elaborate effort at imposition upon a mass of ignorant and deluded followers, whom

he and the other rebel chiefs have always controlled, first by keeping them ignorant, and then by inflaming their passions. Had these men ever allowed the truth to be spoken in the Slave States, had they not always nullified the cardinal provision of the Constitution protecting the freedom of speech, they could never have "precipitated" the Southern people into rebellion. The leaders hold their victims now as they always held them, by means of ignorance maintained by terror.

The Message of Davis is the last word of haughty desperation. Many of its statements are plainly false; and its arguments painfully feeble, as when he speaks of the United States as a power which might end the war by disunion. Pray, where and what are the United States after disunion? The baffled conspirator shakes his impotent fist at Great Britain because it would not directly help to found a nation devoted to slavery upon the ruins of a friendly ally loving liberty, He fawns upon France in saying that if the people of Mexico choose to change their form of government it is a right which we (the rebels) have exercised and can not deny to another people. It is well said, for the people of Mexico have been heard upon the question of the Empire in the same way that the Southern people were heard upon that of the Confederacy. The rebel chief finds the military reverses of the rebellion "inexplicable." The currency of the Confederacy, he says, is three times too large for its business, and the glimpses he gives of the bottomless pit of the rebel finances are enough to occasion still more "inexplicable" disasters. As he approaches the end of his discourse all the rancor of his hate breaks forth in malignant abuse of our generals and of our conduct of the war; and with pitiful inconsequence this defeated traitor, after having shown how utterly he has been beaten in the field, and how hollow are all his resources and hopes for the future, complains that the Government he has defied will not concede him to be victorious!

The judgment of the world can not mistake the significance of this Message. It is not the strain of a man who has "created a nation," it is the fierce cry of rage and despair.


Now that the policy of the Government is maturely settled, it is clear that one of the chief questions of the immediate future will be the care of the freedmen. In ordinary times, when emancipation is enforced by law, as in the case of the British colonies, and especially in Jamaica, the rage and pride of the planters prevent a fair trial of the experiment. They refuse to treat honorably as paid laborers those whom they have been used to drive as cattle, and the inevitable consequence is that the great plantations fall into ruin, and the laborers take to the bush. Nothing is surer than that if the planters of Jamaica had been as equal to the new condition introduced by emancipation as the slaves were, the prosperity of the island would never have been disturbed.

The condition of our emancipated slaves is such as to require the most faithful and intelligent care. The operation of the act is to attract them to our lines. They come in groups of utterly destitute men, women, and children. The most unfortunate of human beings, they yet do not find corresponding sympathy. Even the Government which has freed them, and which invites them to enlist as soldiers, does not treat them honorably, and pays them not the wages of the white soldiers, with whom they bravely fight and nobly fall, but only the ten dollars a month allowed by the law for the general employment of contrabands. Homeless, almost houseless, utterly destitute and dependent, this rapidly-increasing class of our population demand a peculiar care. It is idle to say that no particular class of persons can be provided for, but they must all take their chance, because we recognize that common-sense is the basis of statesmanship when we establish a Bureau of Indian Affairs and a Department of Agriculture. Indians and farmers are the two classes directly interested; but does any body quarrel with the bureaus for that reason?

The sagacity of the President will undoubtedly lead him to make some proposition to Congress for the establishment of a Freedman's Bureau, charged with the care of this exceptional class. Davis says in his Message, with a sly leer at Europe, "By the Northern man, on whose deep-rooted prejudices no kindly restraining influence is exercised, they [the negroes] are treated with aversion and neglect." But the reluctance to touch the subject, the stupid prejudice against the word Abolitionism, the dull slang about "one idea," must give way to plain practical common-sense, or the country will be dishonored.


OUGHT it not to be a merry Christmas? Even with all the sorrow that hangs, and will forever hang, over so many households; even while the war still rages; even while there are serious questions yet to be settled—ought it not to be, and is it not, a merry Christmas?

How well Mr. Nast has seized the spirit of the great festival in the elaborate and beautiful picture which we publish this week! The central

scene is the home of the soldier and his Christmas welcome from wife and darlings, for just that is the central scene of our American holidays this year. It is the soldier who has saved us our homes and filled our holidays with joy. It is the soldier who is lifting the dark winter-cloud beyond which smiles the bright spring of national regeneration. It is the soldier who is securing the peace that will make the life of the children sleeping together in the crib, and over whom the dear old bear, Santa Claus, is bending, a long and happy holiday,

Next year let us hope that the delicate, and thoughtful, and forcible pencil of our friend Nast may draw a picture of the National reunion, of the return of the prodigal who has been living on husks and with harlots, the rebel soldier returning to his country and his fellow-citizens, the soldier who did not know that in fighting the brave man whom we see in the picture of to-day, he was fighting his true friend, as well as honor and liberty. Peace on earth is the Christmas benediction. Blessed then the brave men upon the Rio Grande, in Louisiana, along the Mississippi, in the mountains of Chattanooga, in the Valley at Knoxville, upon the Potomac, and the Rappahannock, and the James River; among the North Carolina barrens and the South Carolina Islands, with the great army of sailors upon the rivers and the sea—to all, whether on sea or land, heroes of the good cause, honor and blessing; for their stout hands and hearts, with the supporting sympathy and faith of the whole people, are the peacemakers of the nation.


THE Richmond Whig says that it really looks as if the South might be overrun. On another day it declares that the rebels can only retrieve their misfortunes by imitating the methods adopted by the Yankees in retrieving theirs; and it calls for a truly great General and a great army to be put in the path of General Grant in three weeks. It says again that the rebels would be a race of cowards if they should even contemplate the possibility of ever yielding to a foe so contemptible, so cruel, so loathed and abhorred as the Yankees; and if they are the race they have believed themselves to be they will not give way to despondency, but nerve themseves for a fiercer struggle and more costly sacrifices. In fact, they will die in the last ditch.

This strain of remark is a fit accompaniment to the melancholy Message of Davis. It is the unmusical whistling of boys in the grave-yard, announcing not their courage but their foreboding. In these articles, as in the addresses of Davis, there is, on the part of the rebels, the same travesty of noble sentiment and heroic resolve which, in the case of a really oppressed and suffering people striking for relief are solemn and touching, but which are merely ludicrous and contemptible in the mouths of men who deliberately undertake a bloody revolution with no other purpose than the perpetuity of injustice.

The British aristocracy has tried hard to depict these rebellious American citizens as worthy of sympathy, like the Poles or the Greeks. British statesmen labored to paint them as a small band of noble gentlemen struggling for their freedom and rights with a vulgar democratic tyranny. This wretched effort has also failed. All the masks begin to fall. The ghastly facts are appearing. The conspiracy of slaveholders is at last seen to be as base and inhuman as that of St. Bartholomew's Day against the Huguenots. That too was loudly commended. Muretus called it a great victory of the true faith. And if Slavery had prevailed in this contest, as Catholicism did in France, the aristocracy, which fears popular rights, would have hailed it, in the spirit of Muretus, as a signal triumph of the true faith.


DR. WORTHINGTON HOOKER'S "Science for the School and Family" (Harpers) is one of his clear and simple expositions, containing, as he says, only what every body ought to know. Of the singular competency of Dr. Hooker to the treatment of the subjects he undertakes the most valuable testimony is that of Miss Peabody, the experienced head of the Boston Kindergarten. She says of the "Child's Book of Nature," by Dr. Hooker, that "it will be a great help to our object-teacher," "and is the very best introduction of children to flowers."

It is in her "Kindergarten Guide" (T. O. H. P. Burnham), just published in Boston, that Miss Peabody speaks of Dr. Hooker. She and her sister, Mrs. Horace Mann, whose admirable "Moral Culture of Infancy" is included in the convenient volume, have had long and extensive experience as teachers, and the first Kindergarten upon a great and successful scale was that of Miss Peabody. Now, as she says, they are springing up in all our cities, and the necessity of a "Guide" is apparent. The theory of the Kindergarten is simply experience and common-sense applied to the teaching of children. It requires that the most clumsy hands shall not be considered competent to the most delicate work, and that to teach so as not to make knowledge as unpalatable to the child as medicine demands a tenderness and thoughtfulness which are no more universal than other rare qualities. The "Guide" is most interesting and invaluable to all who have little folks to teach or to be taught.

Charles Dickens's Christmas story for the year is entitled "Mrs. Lirriper's Lodgings." It tells how Mrs. L. carried on the business; how the First Floor did this, and the Side Room did that; how the Second Floor kept a dog, and the Third Floor knew the Potteries; with details of the proceedings of the Best Attic and the Parlors. What Mr. Dickens has to say about these several personages can be ascertained at the small charge of ten cents. (Published by Harper & Brothers.)

The holidays will bring no more fascinating book for boys than Henry Mayhew's "Boyhood of Martin Luther" (Harpers), and parents will not enjoy it less than the children. It is a fresh story to almost every body but scholars; for although one of the greatest of men historically, Martin Luther's life is not as familiar to boys as that of many an old Greek and Roman. Mr. Mayhew has worked with his heart as well as his head, and has made a truly delightful book, even retaining a quaint old German flavor, which is an added charm.


GENERAL MEADE has demanded that a court of inquiry shall be held in reference to his late movements; and it is said that the result of this inquiry will decide the question as to his removal.

Deserters from the rebel lines state that a large number of soldiers in the Southern armies will take advantage of the amnesty offered in the President's Proclamation, as soon as they can become acquainted with its propositions. The Richmond Sentinel, speaking of this amnesty, regards it as intended to make capital in Europe.

Furloughs are at present being freely given both to the officers and men of the Army of the Potomac.

The British schooner Maria Alberta was captured, on the 27th of November, while attempting to run the blockade into Bay Port, by the schooner Two Sisters. She had cleared from Havana for Metamoras.

JEFF DAVIS has just been denounced in the rebel Congress as the author of the late defeat at Chattanooga.

General LONGSTREET in his retreat from Knoxville lost four thousand prisoners and nearly all his cannon and trains.

The President writes a letter to General GRANT, congratulating him in the following terms:

"MAJOR-GENERAL GRANT,—Understanding that your lodgment at Chattanooga and Knoxville is now secure, I wish to tender you, and all under your command, my more than thanks—my profoundest gratitude—for the skill, courage, and perseverance with which you and they, over so great difficulties, have effected that important object. God bless you all!


JOHN MORGAN, the guerrilla, when last seen was in a buggy with a female making for Dixie, and closely pursued by Federal detectives.

Within the last three weeks nearly three hundred men have died of wounds or disease in the Chattanooga hospitals.

Rebel guerrillas have been collecting in considerable force along the banks of the Mississippi, and especially at the mouth of Red River. Their purpose seems to have been to capture steamers, and with them cross the river to reinforce General BRAGG. We very much fear that they come to the rescue rather late in the day.

Guerrillas also are reported as very active between Chattanooga and Knoxville.

The Twenty-ninth Pennsylvania Regiment has been ordered home from the West on furlough, having re-enlisted as veteran volunteers.

The next day after the United States steamer Circassian (Captain EATON) left Charleston (the 9th) she captured the celebrated blockade-runner Minna, which prize—one of the finest of the war she brought in tow to Fortress Monroe last Sunday.

The small-pox has broken out among the prisoners of war in the hands of the Confederate authorities at Belle Isle and at Lynchburg. To prevent its spread General BUTLER has sent a package of vaccine matter sufficient to vaccinate six thousand persons.

The orders under which the steamer Chesapeake was captured were issued from a JOHN PARKER formerly Captain of the privateer Retribution, but now, until caught, Captain of the unfortunate Chesapeake.

Mr. CLEMENT C. BARCLAY, of Philadelphia, has gone to Fortress Monroe to apply to the rebel authorities for permission to visit Richmond, as a member of the Sanitary Committee, to offer his services in attending to our suffering soldiers in Libey Prison and elsewhere.

Lieutenant-Colonel HENRY S. RUSSEL, Second Massachussetts Cavalry, takes command of the Fourth Massachussetts Cavalry, the first mounted colored regiment that has been raised.

Major-General LEW WALLACE is at Poughkeepsie awaiting orders.

General F. P. BLAIR, of General GRANT'S staff, has returned to Washington.

The prize steamship Jupiter, captured while trying to run the blockade into Wilmington, was sold on Wednesday at Philadelphia for twenty-nine thousand dollars.

The Corps d'Afrique, under General G. L. ANDREWS, has been stationed at Port Hudson since its capture last July.

The command of Matagorda Bay gives us substantially the control of Central and Western Texas, and of all the important points on the east coast except Galveston.

The Indiana soldiers in hospital, in and around Washington, Alexandria, Baltimore, and Annapolis are to be removed to Indianapolis.

The Federal force is now firmly planted in every rebel State.

The success of our arms during the last year has enabled the Department to make a reduction of over two hundred millions of dollars in the war estimates for the ensuing fiscal year.

JOSHUA C. GUNNELL, an influential citizen of Fairfax County, and an intimate friend of Governor SMITH, of Virginia, has received permission from the War Department to visit Rielnnond for the purpose of obtaining the release of several Union men in Castle Thunder, captured by MOSBY'S guerrillas in that County.

Since March 1, 1861, the naval bureau has been obliged to order 2980 tons of powder. This vast amount has been promptly furnished by the Messrs. DU PONT of Wilmington, and the Schaghticoke, Hazard, American, and Union Powder companies. The above mills supply the necessities of the navy so fully that it has been compelled to seek no supply from a foreign market.

Our total loss in killed, wounded, and missing in the siege of Knoxville falls short of 1000.

Admiral DAHLGREN has already made arrangements with Mr. WHITNEY, who is raising the monitor Keokuk at Charleston harbor, also to raise the Weehawken.

The Chesapeake left Shelburne, Nova Scotia, on Saturday last, with only a small amount of coals. She was supposed to be prowling about for more.

The rebel Congress has passed a bill prohibiting the employment of substitutes in the army.

Senator FOOTE, of Tennessee (rebel), adverting to the horrible cruelties practiced upon our prisoners at Richmond, admits that the poor fellows had been reduced to starvation, but threw the blame upon NORTHRUP, the rebel Commissary.

The Bahama Herald is advised from Richmond "that the month of December is regarded as the most trying one of' the whole war, its entire future and essential final result depending in a very great measure upon the issue."

According to a dispatch received December 12th from General BUTLER, the rebel authorities decline to receive any more packages or provisions for the Union prisoners. One of their papers, as an explanation of this refusal, says, that the acceptance of these supplies is a stain upon the honor of the South.

The new gun-boat Kansas is said to be ready to sail under sealed orders in pursuit of the Chesapeake.

The Mobile Register says that the war has been productive of one good result at least, viz., the cheapening of negroes in the Gulf Status, on account of so many slaves being driven South.




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