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Civil War Harper's Weekly, December 19, 1863

This site features the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. This weekly illustrated newspaper was the primary source of information on the war during the Civil War years. Today, they serve as an invaluable tool for students and researchers to better understand this period of American History.

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HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[DECEMBER 19, 1863.

802

THE REBEL RAMS AT LIVERPOOL.

ON page 801 we publish illustrations of the rams built by Laird, of Liverpool, for the rebels, and seized by the British Government. The pictures show the rams as they are at present, each guarded by a ship of war, They are named El Tousson and El Monassir. The following account of them will be found interesting:

El Tousson wants but little to fit her for receiving her equipment, while El Monassir is in a comparatively backward state. The two rams are not unshapely in their hulls, but seem as well designed for swiftness as for strength. The length of each is 230 feet, the beam 42 feet, and the extreme depth less than 20 feet. The burden is but 1500 tons register, and the draught of each vessel when loaded will be some fifteen feet, the deck being about 6 feet above the water-line, all the intermediate surface being protected—first, by a coating of teak over the iron skin of the ship, and then by armor-plates over that, each massive scale being 5 1/2 inches thick. All this armor is dove-tailed together so accurately that the joints are scarcely perceptible. The deck is of 5-inch teak, covered with iron, and the bulwarks are also of iron, being so made as to let down outward, and thus to clear the decks during action. Two revolving cylindrical turrets, on the principles invented by Captain Coles, are apportioned to each ship, one turret being before and the other abaft her engine-room. There is also a pilot-house, strongly built of teak, and iron-plated. Each turret carries two guns, placed in close proximity, so that they can be brought to bear nearly in the same position at one time. The wall of the turret is a series of cellular spaces, like the chine of a shell-fish, and all these iron cells are to be filled up with teak, making one solid and uniform mass, which is to be again strengthened and rendered well-nigh impregnable by armor-plates. Each ship is furnished with a powerful and sharp iron prow or beak protruding from the bow, but under the water-line, to enable the vessel to butt upon, penetrate, and so damage an antagonist, somewhat in the way, but in a more effectual style, than the Confederate ram Virginia destroyed the Cumberland in the James River. It is from this feature in their construction that the name of "rams" has been given to the vessels. At each end of the vessel is a raised deck, forming tolerably commodious quarters for officers and men; and the fore-castle is made to carry one or two heavy guns, if they be needed. In the captain's cabin are port-holes for two 32-pounders; and each ram has capacity for 300 tons of coal. The machinery, as a matter of course, is all below the water-line. Their sterns will be so formed as to protect the screw and rudder from shot or collision.

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 19, 1863.

THE ARMIES.

ANOTHER period of inaction appears to be upon us. The battle of Chattanooga secured Grant's position at that point, enabled him to obtain supplies freely and abundantly, and to accumulate them there for a fresh advance into Georgia. But some time must necessarily elapse before that advance can be commenced. Soldiers say that it will take sixty days to make Chattanooga a proper base for an offensive movement against Rome and Atlanta. During all this time, therefore, it will be safe to look for dullness in the army of the Cumberland—guerrilla skirmishes, the destruction of supply-trains, captures of bushwhackers, etc., are likely to be the most prominent events in the history of that army during the months of December and January.

The armies in Virginia are notoriously going into winter-quarters. Whether the recent advance of Meade was intended to provoke a battle with Lee, or merely to prevent the rebel army in Virginia being weakened by the dispatch of reinforcements to Longstreet or Hardee, certain it is that all thought of active operations appears to have been abandoned on both sides for the present. Neither General is ambitious of advancing into what may now be properly termed the Great Virginian desert, or of leaving his cannon imbedded in Virginia mud. Until February, we presume, we shall hear nothing more exciting from Northern Virginia than Mosby's raids and Kilpatrick's reconnoissances.

Nor is it probable that Burnside will attempt any thing more than to hold his position in East Tennessee, and the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad. To advance on Abingdon by the route Longstreet took in retreating will be a very proper course to pursue when Grant and Meade are ready to move from their respective bases. As an independent operation it could yield no fruits that would compensate for the risk it would involve.

So at Charleston and on the Rio Grande. It is not well to indulge sanguine hopes of any striking news from there for some time to come. It is difficult to see what Gilmore can do—in addition to what he has done already—without large reinforcements. Banks seems to have completed his work for the present by the capture of Brownsville, and the occupation of the line of the Rio Grande.

On the whole, the prospect of a couple of months of comparative dullness may be considered fair. In February next our several armies, swelled by a conscription of 300,000 fresh men, will be in a condition to move simultaneously and vigorously on the various points in the rebel States which they now menace. Grant from Chattanooga, Gilmore from Morris Island, Meade from Manassas, Burnside from Knoxville, and perhaps Butler from Norfolk, will advance with the prestige of past victory and present strength. They ought to be successful. The bulk of their armies will be veteran. They will be superior to the enemy in numbers, equipment, arms, and morale. They will be under Generals whom they and the nation can trust. They ought to crush out the rebellion before Congress adjourns.

RECONSTRUCTION.

THE great question for the present Congress to solve is the problem of Reconstruction. Parties are already shaping themselves for it, and the indications are that, if the rebellion continues to wane as it has done latterly, the Presidential contest of 1864 will turn on that issue. Several of the States which are included in the proclamation as States in insurrection are prepared with Congressional delegations, and the question is—shall those delegations be admitted to the floor as fair and proper exponents of the views of the constituencies which they purport to represent?

On this momentous issue parties are divided, as in the old times, on the slavery question. One party, comprising the remnant of the old hard-shell Democrats of this State—and including, it would seem, among its leaders, ex-General McClellan—demands that the people of the Southern States shall be free to claim representation in Congress at any time they please without regard to the social institutions which they favor for their respective States. This party is understood to be patronized by Mr. Montgomery Blair of the Cabinet, and to be represented by the so-called delegation from Louisiana. Another party, at least as numerous and as influential as the last-named, insists that the cause of the war having been slavery no State shall be readmitted to the Union until it shall have purged its borders of slavery. This party is represented in the Cabinet by Secretary Chase, and has for its Congressional exponents the leading members of the old Republican party.

It is between these two parties that the great battle of the Congress of 1863–4 will be waged. It needs no sagacity to foresee that while the ultra-abolitionists of New England will side with the latter the peace men will espouse the cause of the former.

On behalf of plain common sense there is one point to be made. It is due to the country that Congress should admit to its floor no sham delegations, whatever their opinions may be. If an individual, or several individuals, present themselves as representatives of this or that constituency, and can not show that they were elected by a fair majority of the ordinary and legitimate members of that constituency, it is clear that they ought not to be admitted. Men are ready to claim admission as members from States in insurrection, and their claim is chiefly based on their hostility to slavery. Now that hostility is, in our view, a very proper sentiment. But it does not constitute a warrant for a seat in Congress. On the other hand, some semi-rebels in Louisiana appear to be anxious to save some of their property from the wreck by sending certain persons to Washington as members of Congress, having previously sent their sons to the rebel army and their best speakers to Richmond as members of the rebel Congress. It is not pretended that these persons received a fair majority of the suffrages of the legally constituted voters in the constituencies which they claim to represent. It is notorious that a majority of these voters are in the rebel army. Under these circumstances Congress would seem to have a very simple duty to perform in excluding these pseudo-representatives.

When a State like Missouri, whose population has not been diminished to any material extent by the war, elects representatives by the usual or nearly the usual vote, there can be no good reason for excluding them, whether they are Abolitionists or Copperheads. Their opinions are their affair, not the nation's. But where individuals claim to represent Louisiana or North Carolina, and it is demonstrable that at their election not above a tithe of the legally constituted voters deposited their suffrages, it would be a fraud to admit them to Congress as legally elected members.

There is no. reason to be in a hurry to solve the problem of reconstruction. It will be time enough to do that when the rebel armies of Lee and Bragg are scattered. At present the only safe rule is the old rule of truth and honesty—to admit no man to Congress who can not show that he has been fairly elected by a majority of legally-constituted voters; and to refuse no man a seat, whatever his opinions may be, who can show such an election.

THE TERROR AT THE SOUTH.

THE following letter comes to the Lounger from an officer of one of the New York regiments in the Army of the Gulf. The revelation of the suffering of faithful American citizens under the fierce terrorism of the rebellion is startling. The rebel General Orders which our correspondent incloses, and which follow his letter, were found upon an officer of the rebel General Mouton's brigade, captured by a detachment of Major-General Washburn's division, near St. Martinsville, south of the Red River. They show how desperate is the resistance made by Southern men against the "Confederate Government," and how earnest their hate of the "liberty and independence" proffered them by a slaveholding oligarchy:

CAMP AT VERMILION BAYOU, LOUISIANA, November, 1863.

To the Lounger:

The circular which I inclose will tell you its own story, and will be allowed, I hope, to appeal through you to the sympathies and faith of a hundred thousand loyal men

and women. Were there no other evidence existing of loyalty in rebellious Louisiana—of true, tried, unswerving loyalty, which lives and has its being, even though hunted, persecuted, and massacred by such incarnations of traitorous hate and cruelty as Sterling Price, Richard Taylor, and Alfred Mouton—this circular would nevertheless triumphantly prove the fact.

Are there, Mr. Lounger, among the worthy people whom you visit weekly, some who have never felt the burdens of the war, save as the tax-gatherer has knocked more loudly at their doors, and who have never felt the bitter afflictions of the war, save as they have mourned the decline of gold, and yet who have complained loudly of its hardships? Are there haply those whose faith that the old Union ship must yet outride the storm has wavered, and whose hearts have grown apathetic, even beneath the peaceful shelter of the Old Flag? If such there be, let me ask them to read and learn how the Wittingtons, the Ozimes, the Carrieres, the Huddlestons, of Louisiana, have been made the victims of a relentless and cold-blooded persecution; hunted through the swamps and brakes of their State: proscribed, outlawed, murdered in secret, because—and I would that it might be blazoned in characters of fire before Copperhead eyes—because they could not lift the traitor's hand against their beloved country! Honor, thrice honor, to these gallant spirits! The soul of all the Army of the Gulf cries out to them in sympathy and encouragement.

This circular has probably been prepared for distribution to the people of the State, and has, undoubtedly, the authority of our Generals in this Department.

Yours in loyalty.

GENERAL ORDERS.—No.—

HEAD-QUARTERS, FORCES SOUTH OF RED RIVER,

VERMILIONVILLE, June 12, 1863.

Information has been received that there are bands of outlaws, deserters, conscripts, and stragglers from a point above Hineston, on the Calcasieu River, in the parish of Rapides, down to the lower parishes, extending into the parishes of Calcasieu, through to the Bayou Teche, which are committing depredations, robberies, and incendiarism, and who are openly violating the Confederate laws, with arms in their hands. Such men can only be considered as outlaws, highwaymen, and traitors.

In consequence:

I. You will proceed with your battalion up to the Calcasieu River, and in the vicinity of Hineston, in the parish of Rapides, and from that point scour the whole country to the outer limit of Calcasieu Parish, if necessary, to the Bayou Teche, in search of these outlaws, highwaymen, and traitors. These bands, beyond the pale of society, must be exterminated, especially the leaders; and every man found with arms for the purpose of resisting the operations of the Confederate laws, or against whom satisfactory evidence may be given, must be executed on the spot.

No prisoners should be taken. Such as are not sufficiently guilty to deserve immediate execution must be liberated, and, if conscripts, ordered to report forthwith. Men by the name of Wittington, Elliot, Ozime, Carriere, Huddleston, have been designated as some of the ringleaders.

By order of Brigadier-General ALFRED MOUTON:

LOUIS BUSH, Assistant Adjutant-General,

To Major G.A. FOURNET, commanding Yellow Jacket Battalion.

These instructions are to be kept secret, and no one is allowed to know the objects of your movements except yourself.

True copy:

LOUIS BUSH, Assistant Adjutant-General.

Lieutenant G. J. DEBLANC, Acting Adjutant.

AN ANTI-IMPERIAL VIEW IN FRANCE.

A LATE number of the Correspondent, a monthly Parisian review, contains an article upon French Policy in America by Henry Moreau, which is interesting and valuable as an anti-Imperial view of the subject. There is no longer any doubt of the deep hostility of the Emperor to the United States. There is no question that he has constantly besought Great Britain to join him in recognition of the independence of the "Confederacy." His conquest of Mexico proceeded upon the expectation of the ruin of this Government and country. Whatever else he may be he is no friend of ours; and he is a more dangerous enemy than Great Britain because he is more astute.

The article in the Correspondent begins by the proposition that the sympathy of France belongs to the cause of justice and civilization in this country as in all others. It sketches our political history since the adoption of the Constitution with great fidelity and knowledge, showing, what no one competent to speak now denies, that the insurrection has no other object than the perpetuity of slavery. What affinity then, asks M. Moreau, exists between France and the rebel States? Is it community of origin and religion, as some pretend? A few words prick that bubble, and lead to the conclusion that "liberal, conservative, and Catholic France has nothing in common with the cause of the South, which is merely slavery."

The article then claims that the interests of France imperiously demand the maintenance of the Union upon the great, traditional, general ground that the power of Great Britain must be balanced by another maritime state of the first class. The reasons which originally recommended this policy to France are as active as ever. "British policy opposes ours oftener than it agrees with it," is the judgment of M. Moreau; and he does not find in our possible expansion hereafter any danger so threatening as that flowing from our destruction now. His article, which we cordially commend to the thoughtful consideration of the reader, concludes in these words:

"Does it therefore follow [from the recent successes of the Government] that the end of the civil war is as near as we should wish? We do not venture to affirm it. The able Generals of the South may yet maintain themselves upon the defensive for a long time, and even signally check their adversaries. But such victories, dearly bought, weaken a victor whose armies are recruited with difficulty. If the Federal Government continues to compress the Confederates within an ever narrower circle, the Southern population, weary of a ruinous and resultless war, will force peace upon leaders who have deceived them. In a future article we shall consider whether France has hastened or hindered this result."

WORDS AND THINGS.

IN a little speech at Gettysburg Mr. Seward speaks of the rebels as our "misguided brethren." It is true in a certain sense that all sinners are our brothers. Manning, Benedict Arnold, Hunt who murdered his wife and two children in a London cab a few weeks since, are all in a certain sense

misguided. But is it not very superfluous to use those words as if they covered the case? The rebels at the South know exactly what they are fighting for, what they mean to accomplish if they can. They are sagacious and desperate; and while Mr. Seward does well in reminding us that there are many who are deluded, and while we know, as the letter from Louisiana which we publish elsewhere in these columns shows, that there are hundreds of brave hearts still beating faithful to the country, yet it is no less undeniable that any policy in treating the rebels founded upon the theory that they are to be conciliated would be as futile as for the Parliament of England to have regarded Laud, Strafford, and the King as misguided brothers.

In fact this country could not be engaged in a war in which its enemies would hate it so heartily as the rebels. They are stout, resolute, irreconcilable. They are men to conquer or to be conquered. They have shown their pluck, their skill, their endurance. Now fine words butter no parsnips. Open enemies must not be treated as friends in disguise. They are not to be cozened, they are to be conquered. If we clearly understand that, we are as safe in victory as in battle. If we deceive ourselves, we shall lose the victory even if we win the battle.

RESULTS.

THE London Spectator, one of our ablest and generally most intelligent friends in England, says that the only visible prospect of the war is "another series of conflicts equally without result—the North not suffering much because the emigrants fill up its loss; the South not suffering much, because its laboring class is not in the field." When the Spectator sees the speech of Mr. Toombs it may change its opinion. Meanwhile what does it mean by "equally without result?" Has there been as yet no "result?" Is the opening of the Mississippi, the holding of Chattanooga, and the marching upon a foe in Virginia who declines battle upon his old fields of victory, no result? Is the clear declaration of emancipation as an integral part of the policy of the war, no result? Is the most hearty and unanimous support of the Government by States that have opposed it, no result? Or is nothing a "result" but the final and complete overthrow of the Rebellion?

If the editor of the London Spectator, upon his way home from his office should meet, after going a hundred yards, a friend who said "Tut! tut! still walking home, and only made a hundred yards? Why, my dear editor, it seems to me that the only visible prospect for you is another series of steps, equally without result," what would the learned editor say? Certainly in his airiest way he would answer: "My good fellow, it is only by a series of steps that I get on at all; and if I can make every hundred yards with the same result as the last hundred, I shall soon be at home and happy to see you."

A MELANCHOLY EVENT.

THE gentlemen who call themselves a Conservative Union Committee, and who lately met in Cincinnati to consider whether General M'Clellan should be their candidate for President or Vice-President, are remarkable for never representing any public popular movement whatever. They are the rump of the old Whig party. Their leaders have once had office and yearn for it still; and they revenge their dullness in being unable to discern the signs of the times by desperate hate of those who are wiser. They are the gentlemen who nominated Mr. Fillmore in 1856, and in 1860, professing a peculiar and exclusive veneration for the Union and the Constitution, they nominated Mr. John Bell. That great statesman, upon the first opportunity, became a rebel; and his late supporters, who, if they could learn any thing, would know that the American people perfectly comprehend the "conservatism" which is simply unquestioning subservience to slavery, now propose the name of General M'Clellan as their candidate for some office not specified.

His enemies, of course, will rejoice that his chances are destroyed before the campaign begins. Any party which should take a candidate from the hands of such politicians as Mr. Garret Davis, Mr. Leslie Coombs, and Mr. Washington Hunt—all of them gentlemen with an unerring genius for defeat and unpopularity—would simply announce that it expected to lose. And they touch their candidate now merely to make him ridiculous. "Formerly," they say, "his name was mentioned for the Presidency; now it is suggested for the Vice-Presidency. Really, what shall we do with this most estimable elephant on our hands? shall we put him in the front parlor or under the stairs? Let us adjourn and think it over."

When a man remembers the vital importance of this great war, that the principles of wise popular government, and the interests of civilization themselves, are at stake; that the solution of the question requires the most profound faith in human liberty and the people; and that it can be reached only as the people resolve wisely and justly, and then sees the feeblest of hack politicians offering to be leaders and saviours, he can not but wonder at the singular ill-fortune of a General once so universally trusted and honored, but who is now a hundred fold more unfortunate in his friends than in his enemies.

EUROPE AT HOME.

A KING has just died in Europe who never wished to be king. He heartily disliked his throne, and was always willing to abdicate. His political principles were republican; and within the last few weeks, when the independence of Denmark has been threatened by Russia, he said plainly that if he were pushed to the wall he would declare a republic in Denmark, call upon the people, lead them, and leave Europe to the consequences it had provoked.

This was King Frederick Seventh of Denmark. He had two royal wives, from each of which he (Next Page)


 

 

 

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