Reorganization of the Army of the Potomac


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, February 21, 1863

We have one of the most extensive private collections of Harper's Weekly newspapers in the country. We love these old newspapers, and have decided to make part of our collection available to the public by creating an online version of the Collection. We hope you enjoy reading these fascinating papers.

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General Tom Thumb

General Tom Thumb

Tom Thumb Wedding

Tom Thumb Wedding

Army of the Potomac

Reorganization of the Army of the Potomac

Escaping Slaves

Description of Escaping Slaves

Fort Hindman Attack

Attack on Fort Hindman


The Montauk

Charleston Fight

Fight Off Charleston

P. T. Barnum

P. T. Barnum Ad

Freed Negroes

Freed Negroes


Beaufort, North Carolina

Fort Hindman

Fort Hindman





FEBRUARY 21, 1863.]



(Previous Page) the object of the Government is to maintain its authority, and as an aid in that work it frees the slaves. If, therefore, the sentiment of which Dr. Whately speaks favors the form more than the substance, it will continue to quarrel with us because we did not emancipate, because slavery is wrong. But if it cares more for liberty and the peace which comes from justice, it will not repine, nor accuse us, because justice was done merely as a stroke of military policy and not in deference to a moral principle. The history of emancipation any where will not show that it was solely the result of moral conviction. Certainly it does not become John Bull to scrutinize censoriously the motive of emancipation.

Second, the next point made by the Archbishop is that the rebels have as good a right to their revolution as our fathers had to theirs.

What then does Dr. Whately or any other Englishman understand by the right of revolution? If he takes the old high Tory ground that there is no such right—then, of course, he will not excuse the revolt of the rebels against an established Government. But if he asserts that right in any form, he must ground it upon oppression for which legal redress is hopeless. That is the only right of revolution acknowledged by any English or American authority. Very well, our fathers' grievance as British subjects was that they were taxed without representation, and redress was refused them. Therefore they rebelled. But our rebels do not set forth any oppression of the Government to justify their resistance. They do not even acknowledge their rebellion as a revolution. They claim that secession is a lawful act under the Government and within the laws. The right of revolution as we all understand it, therefore, has nothing to do with the rebellion. For how could they pretend to any oppression under a Government which they had themselves always controlled?

There may be people in England who have no very clear idea of the right of revolution, and who suppose that the insurrection of the slaveholders in this country has some resemblance to the resistance of our fathers to Great Britain; and there may be others who reject liberty for the slaves when it does not come as a moral impulse but as a military discretion. But the British feeling against us is a mingled product of ignorance, sophistry, and the steady jealousy of the governing class in England of a political system whose success imperils their monopoly of privilege and power. The letter of Dr. Whately shows that there has been no considerable change in general sentiment within his observation. But across the channel in England the question begins to be better understood. While Westminster boggles about forms, and says that it is a war for dominion or for the restoration of the Union, Lancashire sees that it is a contest for principles, and that its own future is blended with the success of the American republic.


"MADISON," in Wisconsin, writes to call the Lounger to account for saying that the Weekly had not been partisan. "Madison" says that he believes firmly in the principles of the Democratic party, and that this paper did not hesitate to oppose the election of Mr. Seymour. How then, he asks, have you the face to say that you are not partisan when you supported the candidate for whom the Times, and Tribune, and Independent labored?

The answer is very short and simple. General Wadsworth was nominated upon a Union war platform, and his companion upon the ticket was Lyman Tremaine, certainly as good a Democrat as Mr. Seymour or "Madison." There was no party issue in the canvass. The platform of the Union party was a vigorous prosecution of the war by every just means. This paper stands and has always stood upon that platform, and the Union and country can be saved upon no other. It is the point of meeting of men of all parties. The President, Mr. Everett, and Mr. Dickinson are all there. The debate upon what measures are most vigorous can not be made a party issue. Men may differ; but they do not differ as partisans, but as patriots.

If, however, a general opposition to the war policy of the Government should be maintained by any party and called Democratic, and every old adherent of that party should be summoned to that platform, and we, because we may believe in the fundamental principles known as Democratic, should therefore desert the position of support of the Government in suppressing the rebellion, then we should be truly liable to the charge of "Madison" that we had deserted patriotism for party. If he has done that, if he obeys a mere party call, which ought not to be raised, and can not loyally be raised during a war for national existence, he is a convicted partisan, because he is more strenuous for his party than for his country. If, however, he obeys that call because he thinks it promises a speedier triumph for the country, he does it, not as a Democrat or a partisan, but as an American citizen and patriot. And if we or any other think that another policy is surer of success, we adhere to it in the same way, not as Democrats, but as patriots.

We support the policy of the Government not because the Republican papers approve it, nor because many Democratic papers approve it, but because we believe it to be a sound and effective policy for the restoration of the Union and the speedier return of peace and prosperity. And when Mr. Seymour, or Mr. Vallandigham, or Mr. Saulsbury show themselves as heartily and singly in earnest for the maintenance of the supreme authority of the Government of the United States as President Lincoln, we shall just as warmly support them as we do the President. "Neutrality" between parties, Mr. "Madison," does not mean saying that every body is equally right and equally wrong, but in pursuing the patriotic purpose whatever either party says or does. If that course leads us to travel much the same road as one of the

parties, so much the better for the patriotism of that party.


FOR so many years "the glory of France" has been such a purely military glory—the greatest of modern Frenchmen was so entirely a great soldier, that in any French song-book the most melodious and touching songs are generally of the camp. The "t'en souviens-tu?" of the two French veterans of the Guard, sung to the German melody of "Denkst Du Baran?" is familiar to all lovers of that kind of song. And here a friend sends a pleasant and skillful rendering of Le Dernier adieu du soldat, a military ballad, which is introduced in Charles Lever's "Jack Hinton." The mingling of jest and pathos is entirely characteristic.

The original begins:

"Rose! l'intention d'la presente,

Est de t'informer d'ma sante,

L'armee Francaise est triomphante

Et moi, j'ai l'bras gauche emposte."


Dear Rose, to you I send this present writing

To let you know how goes the world with me;

Our gallant boys have done some glorious fighting,

A left arm lost, alas! has done for me.

We've great successes on our track advancing,

The cruel grape has taken my poor bones;

We've sacked whole cities, but a spent ball glancing

Pays me my share of booty in my groans.


From an old hospital this word I'm sending,

To leave it soon at Death's call for the grave;

I send ten francs from him who does my mending,

For them I've sold the body he can't save.

I send the pieces, for I'm just now thinking

That if to-night must see me in the earth,

I can't do less for one whom love's been linking

So close to me than give her all I'm worth.


My poor old mother, when I left her crying,

Was nearly gone and looking close on death,

I've writ a line to tell her I am dying;

But I do hope she's taken her last breath.

For if the dear old woman still is living,

Her heart's so soft that if she hears I'm gone

She can not stay, and I shall death be giving

To her who gave me life, now left alone.


My little Rose, there's one old friend I cherish

You won't desert—my good old dog I mean;

He mustn't know I'm dead—for sure he'd perish

If he but thought of me the last he'd seen.

He's looking now to see me home returning,

At least a Corporal, if not something more;

Then guard him well, and keep the dog from learning

I died, a private, on this earthen floor.


It cuts me to the heart to think of dying

Far from the village and from you, my Rose;

No chance to say good-night to friends, or, sighing,

To press your hand before my eyelids close.

At home they'd soon my shattered bones be laying

Hard by the church—a cross above my head,

And there my Rose would sometimes come, and, praying,

Ask God to keep him whom she loved though dead.


Then good-by, Rose, good-by, and don't be weeping;

Farewell, farewell! I'll see you, dear, no more;

For in the company I'll soon be keeping

They give no furloughs, though you beg them sore.

All's turning round—I feel I'm just departing,

I've got my orders and must leave you here;

Good-night, good-night!—One last word before starting;

God bless you, Rose, and don't forget me, dear!


"WHAT is the matter, Sir?" said a surgeon to his patient.

"Well, I have eaten some oysters, and I suppose they have disagreed with me."

"Have you eaten any thing else?"

"Well, no—why, yes, I did, too; that is, I took for my tea a mince-pie, four bottles of ale, and two glasses of gin, and I have eaten the oysters since, and I really believe the oysters were not good for me!"

A gentleman, who had a very blundering servant, put down in writing every thing he wished him to do. Going to the country one day, the master fell into a ditch. He called the lad, who, instead of hastening to his assistance, exclaimed, "Stop, let me see if it's down in my memorandum-book." Great presence of mind that, wasn't it?

"My affairs tend downward," as the oyster said when about to be swallowed.

During Lord Holland's last illness George Selwyn called and left his card. Selwyn had a fondness for seeing dead bodies, and the dying lord, fully comprehending his feeling, is said to have remarked, "If Mr. Selwyn calls again, show him up; if I am alive, I shall be delighted to see him, and if I am dead, he will like to see me."

Why is a windy orator like a whale?—Because he often rises to spout.


As Tom and his wife were disputing one day

Of their personal traits, in a bantering way,

Quoth she, "Though my wit you disparage,

I'm certain, dear husband, our friends will attest

That, compared with your own, my judgment is best!"

Quoth Torn, "So they said at our marriage!"

"I'll bring a suit for my bill!" said an enraged tailor to a dandy who refused to pay him. "Do, my dear fellow," replied the imperturbable swell, pointing to his threadbare clothes, "that's just what I want."

The other day a young man, decidedly inebriated, walked into the executive chamber and asked for the Governor. "What do you want with him?" inquired the secretary. "Oh, I want an office with a good salary—a sinecure." "Well," replied the secretary, "I can tell you something better for you than a sinecure—you had better try a water cure." A new idea seemed to strike the young inebriate, and he vanished.


A coffin to bury the Dead Sea.

The saucer into which the cup of misery overflowed.

A night-cap to fit the head of a river.

The match which kindled the fire of love.

A pair of spectacles to suit the eyes of Justice.

A remedy to cure the deafness in the ears of corn.

The broom with which the storm swept over the sea.

"I go through my work," as the needle said to the idle boy. "But not till you are hard pushed," as the idle boy said to the needle.

Why is the letter l in the word "military" like the nose? —Because it stands between two i's.

"What's that ar a picture on?" asked a countryman in a print store the other day of the proprietor, who was turning over some engravings. "That, Sir, is Joshua commanding the sun to stand still." "Du tell! Which is Josh, and which is his son?"

The wife of an Irish gentleman being suddenly taken ill, the husband ordered a servant to get a horse ready to go for the doctor. By the time, however, that the horse was ready, and the note to the doctor written, the lady had recovered; on which he added the following postscript, and sent the servant off: "My wife having recovered, you need not come."

"I haven't another word to say, Sir; I never dispute with fools." "No," was the reply, "you are very sure to agree with them."


When is a bonnet not a bonnet?

When it becomes a pretty woman.

Why is an Israelite named William Solomon similar to a public festival?

Because he is a jubilee (Jew Billy).



ON Wednesday, February 4, in the Senate, the credentials of Senator Doolittle, re-elected Senator from Wisconsin for six years from the 4th of March next, were presented. The bill to prevent correspondence with rebels was reported back. A bill authorizing the President to make qualified pardons, so as to remit fines, relieve from imprisonment, etc., was passed. The resolutions relative to French intervention in Mexico were laid on the table by a vote of 34 against 9. The resolution directing the Secretary of the Navy not to accept the title of League Island until further order of Congress, was referred to the Naval Committee. The bill for the encouragement of re-enlistments and the enrolling and drafting of the militia was taken up, and several amendments adopted. A motion to strike out the second section, giving the President power to make all rules and regulations for enrolling and drafting the militia, was disagreed to. Pending a motion to strike out the fourth section, the Senate adjourned.—In the House, the Committee on Elections reported adversely on the claims of J. B. M'Loud, and his contestant, W. W. Wing, to represent the second district of Virginia. The bill providing for a submarine telegraph from Fortress Monroe to Galveston, communicating with intermediate points on the coast, was passed. The bill providing for the codification of the laws of the United States was rejected. The bill relative to the enlargement of the canals so as to admit of the passage of gun-boats, was discussed at some length, and then laid aside. Bills appropriating $30,000 for the protection of overland emigrants; for the organization of an ambulance corps of twenty thousand men; and authorizing the employment of additional clerks, copyists, and laborers in the Quarter-master-General's office, were passed. The Senate bill for the more efficient administration of the Subsistence Department was also passed. The Senate bill authorizing twenty thousand men to be raised for the defense of Kentucky was likewise passed, and the House adjourned.

On Thursday, 5th, in the Senate, a bill to aid the construction of railroads and telegraphs in Kansas was introduced. A resolution directing inquiry into the case of Captain John Wethers, of the Fourth New Jersey Regiment, who has been confined at Fort Delaware for several months, was laid over. The consideration of the bill to encourage re-enlistments, and providing for the enrollment and drafting of the militia, was resumed, and, after considerable discussion, the subject was recommitted to the Military Committee. A resolution requesting the President to communicate the number of volunteer and drafted men actually raised and mustered into service by the several States, and the time when their terms of service will expire, was adopted, and the Senate adjourned.—In the House, the Ways and Means Committee reported back the Senate's amendments to the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Appropriation bill. Several amendments were disposed of, and finally the bill was committed to a conference committee. A joint resolution to revise and codify the naval laws was adopted. The Naval Appropriation bill, involving expenditures to the amount of $68,000,000, was then taken up. A proviso was added to the appropriation of $12,000,000 for iron-clads that no contracts shall be entered into for this class of vessels until proposals have been solicited from the principal iron-ship builders. The appropriation for the Brooklyn Navy Yard was increased.

On Friday, 6th, in the Senate, a resolution instructing the Finance Committee to inquire into the expediency of repealing the duty on paper was adopted. A motion to postpone all prior orders and take up the Bankrupt bill was disagreed to—14 against 24.—In the House, the Senate's amendment to the Post-office Appropriation bill, authorizing a contract for carrying the mails in steamers between San Francisco and the several ports in Oregon, at a sum not exceeding $24,000 per annum, was concurred in. The debate on the Illinois and New York Ship Canal bill was resumed, and continued till the adjournment.

On Saturday, 7th, in the Senate, a bill for the construction of a military and postal railroad from Washington to New York was introduced and referred. Senator Sumner offered a resolution, that the Committee on the Conduct of the War be directed to inquire into the condition of the Army of the Potomac, both officers and men; and to consider what measures are necessary in order to promote its efficiency, increase the mutual confidence of the officers and men, and to secure from all an unwavering and soldier-like devotion to the declared policy of the Government, with power to send for persons and papers. This was laid over. The remainder of the session was occupied in debate on the Missouri Emancipation bill.—In the House, the Illinois and New York Ship Canal bill was under consideration.

On Monday, 9th, in the Senate, a resolution requesting the Secretary of the Treasury to communicate to the Senate the amount of Government cotton sold in New York since the blockade of the Southern ports, the amount of commissions and storage, and the names of all persons interested in such sales, was adopted. A bill to enroll and equip three hundred thousand negro soldiers was introduced by Senator Sumner. A resolution was adopted requesting the President to communicate to the Senate, if not incompatible with the public interests, the character of the suggestions made by the Secretary of State of the United States to M. Mercier, the representative of the French Government, as related by him to M. Thouvenel, which induced M. Mercier to undertake a mission to Richmond, and what representations he was authorized to make from the Government or from the Secretary of State to the rebel authorities. Several bills relating to the District of Columbia were passed. The bill to provide a national currency, secured by the pledge of United States stocks, and to provide for the circulation and redemption thereof, was then taken up. An amendment increasing the amount of circulating currency from two hundred millions to three hundred millions was adopted. An amendment was offered requiring each banking association organized under the act to keep in its vaults gold and silver coin to the amount of one-fourth of the amount of notes it is authorized to issue, and pending the question on this proposition the Senate went into executive session, and afterward adjourned.—In the House, the Indian and Civil Appropriation bills were reported by the Ways and Means Committee. The consideration of the bill to enlarge the Illinois and New York canals was then resumed, and after some discussion the bill was defeated by a vote of 61 yeas against 71 nays. The Committee on Elections reported against the credentials of John B. Rogers and Lewis M'Kenzie, the former claiming a seat from Tennessee, and the latter from the Seventh District of Virginia. The report of the same committee in favor of the claims of Messrs. Flanders and Hahn to seats as members from Louisiana was called up and discussed, but the House adjourned without taking a vote on the subject.

On Tuesday, 10th, in the Senate, the bill reorganizing the Post-office Department was passed. A bill to increase the number of Major and Brigadier Generals was reported by the Military Committee. A resolution was offered and

adopted requesting the President of the United States, if not incompatible with the public interests, to lay before the Senate any correspondence which has taken place between this Government and the Government of France on the subject of mediation, arbitration, or other measures looking to a termination of the existing civil war. The bill to provide a national currency was then taken up. The amendment requiring banks to keep in their vaults specie to the amount of one-fourth of their circulation was rejected. Several other amendments were proposed and also rejected. The bill to prevent and punish frauds on the revenue was reported back with amendments. A bill to allow the United States to prosecute appeals and writs of error without giving security was introduced, and the Senate adjourned.—In the House, the Committee on Ways and Means was instructed to examine and report on the practical operation of the Excise law upon the interests of manufacturers of limited means. The consideration of the report of the Committee on Elections in favor of admitting Messrs. Flanders and Hahn, members elect from Louisiana, to seats was then resumed, and a lively debate ensued, which continued until the adjournment.


There is nothing new from the Army of the Potomac. Every thing is quiet in that direction.



First. The division of the army into grand divisions impeding rather than facilitating the dispatch of its current business, and the character of the service it is liable to be called upon to perform, being adverse to the movement and operations of heavy columns, it is discontinued, and the corps organization is adopted in its stead. They will be commanded as follows:

First Corps, Major-General John F. Reynolds. Second Corps, Major-General D. N. Couch. Third Corps, Brigadier-General D. E. Sickles (temporarily). Fifth Corps, Major-General George G. Meade. Sixth Corps, Major-General John Sedgwick. Eleventh Corps, Major-General Franz Sigel. Twelfth Corps, Major-General H. W. Slocum.

Second. Hereafter the corps will be considered as a unit for the organization of the artillery, and no transfers of batteries will be made from one corps or division to others, except for purposes of equalization, and then only under the authority of the chief of artillery.

Third. The cavalry of the army will be consolidated into one corps, under command of Brigadier-General Stoneman, who will make the necessary assignments for detached duty.

Fourth. The foregoing changes in command will be made as soon as convenient. By command of



The Union ram Queen of the West ran the blockade gallantly at Vicksburg on Monday morning, 2d, about daylight. A hundred heavy siege guns from the shore and a rebel steamer in the river opened fire on her, and kept up the storm of shot and shell for three-quarters of an hour. The rebel steamer was crippled by the fire of the union vessel, which ran the gauntlet in safety. We learn from rebel sources that she arrived at Vidalia, opposite Natchez, on the same evening, and then steamed down the river, doing considerable damage.


The progress of cutting the canal near Vicksburg goes on rapidly. The largest force which can be employed on it are at work night and day, and will continue so until its completion to that point opposite which a formidable rebel battery is said to be now constructed. It has been decided by the engineers that the canal must be cut by artificial means to its full width, as no reliance can be placed upon the action of the water in washing out the banks. It is ascertained that some weeks, at least, must elapse before the work can be advanced so for as to enable our gun-boats to effect any thing of importance against the rebel stronghold at Vicksburg.


MURFREESBORO, TENNESSEE, Feb. 6, 1863. Major-General H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief, Washington:

The rebels Wheeler, Forrest, Wharton, and Woodward attacked Fort Donelson yesterday, at two o'clock in the afternoon, with four thousand men and eight pieces of artillery. We had eight hundred men in the fort, under Colonel A. C. Harding.

The rebels charged the fortifications several times, but were repulsed by our artillery and infantry with great loss —the enemy, as usual, before and after the fight, demanding a surrender, and offering to spare life if accepted, etc.

Colonel Harding replied that "He was ready for all the consequences."

The enemy's loss in killed was over one hundred, and in prisoners three hundred.

The forces under Colonel Lowe, from Fort Henry, are pursuing the rebels, and others have been sent to intercept their retreat. Our loss is twelve killed and thirty wounded.

W. S. ROSEORANS, Major-General.


Our troops entered Lebanon, Tennessee, on the 8th inst., and captured six hundred of the rebels, most of them belonging to Morgan's men, including Paul Anderson and a number of field-officers.


The pirate steamer Alabama is reported to have turned up at Kingston, Jamaica, on the 20th ult., where she landed the crew and officers of the United States steamer Hatteras, numbering over one hundred. It was reported that the Alabama had suffered severely in her fight with the Hatteras; that she had five shots in her hull, one of which —through her stern-post—was a very bad one. She put into Kingston to repair damages, and expected to be ready for sea in four days. Immediately upon this news being received in Havana, the United States steamers Wachusett and Oneida sailed direct for Kingston, and the Santiago de Cuba and B. R. Guider, then on the south side of Cuba, were ordered at once to the same port, and the Tioga and Sonoma were also steering in the same direction.


Dispatches in the Richmond Examiner, from Charleston, state that the British frigate Cadmus brought intelligence there that a most formidable naval and land expedition was about to attack Charleston, the preparations being now nearly complete. This vessel brought orders for the British Consul to go on board and get to Havana as soon as possible.


The workmen of New Orleans, engaged under Colonel Thorpe in repairing and cleaning the levees and streets of that city, have presented the Colonel with a magnificent service of plate, as a testimonial of their personal regard, and a token of their sense of the great services which he has rendered to the city.



THE Paris Pays says that it has reason to state that the Government of the Emperor has addressed a communication to Washington, proposing means of arrangement between the two belligerents which would fully protect the dignity of the Americans. Le Nord also says that France has proposed the convocation of an American Congress with a view to peace. The Paris correspondent of the London Times says that official instructions have been sent by the French Government to Washington suggesting that commissioners be delegated by the Federal Government and by the Southern States to meet on neutral ground and confer together, without hostilities being suspended, so that they might advise mutual concessions and effect a reconciliation, so desirable for the interests of the world.




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