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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.

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

 

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

Montauk

The Montauk

Charleston Fight

Fight Off Charleston

P. T. Barnum

P. T. Barnum Ad

Freed Negroes

Freed Negroes

Beaufort

Beaufort, North Carolina

Fort Hindman

Fort Hindman

Valentine

Valentine

 

 

FEBRUARY 21, 1863.]

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

125

MR. J. ROSS BROWNE, OUR ARTIST "CORRESPONDENT AT LARGE."

OUR ARTIST "CORRESPONDENT
AT LARGE."

MR. J. ROSS BROWNE is well known by name and works to the literary world. His contributions to Harper's Magazine would fill several volumes. Like most men possessing the faculty of humor, he is fond of caricaturing himself, and he appears in a variety of questionable disguises in his own sketches. The above portrait, for which we are indebted to Mr. Cramer, a young American artist, residing at Frankfort in Germany, barring a slight touch of caricature, is a capital likeness of the man who visited Crusoe's Island, discovered Yusef Badra, "The Destroyer of Robbers," traveled with Doctor Mendoza, "Peeped at Washoe," made a "Dangerous Journey" in California, visited Norway, Poland, Iceland, Russia, and several other countries in behalf of Harper's Magazine, where not a few of his varied adventures have been recorded, and where more, we trust, will be narrated. During more than twenty years of almost constant travel he has supported himself and a large family, and made his way in almost every capacity within the limits of human industry. His journeyings by land and sea amount already to more than six times around the world—no trifling achievement when we consider the various methods of travel which he has adopted. Mr. Browne is a native of Ireland. A generation ago his father was the editor of the Dublin Comet, the leading paper of the day in Ireland. Taking strong ground against the oppressive acts of the English Government, his paper was suppressed and he was thrown into prison. A book written by him called "The Parson's Horn-book," illustrated by Samuel Lover, gained a wide notoriety, and may even now be met with. The elder Browne was finally released from imprisonment on condition of leaving the country. He came to America in 1833, bringing with him his family, among whom was John Ross, then a mere lad. He struck for the Far West, settled in Indiana, where he established himself as the owner of a saw-mill and proprietor of a ferry; subsequently he removed to Louisville, Kentucky, where he became editor of a newspaper, in connection with which his son's literary faculties received their first definite impulse.

Mr. Browne commenced his adventurous career by starting from Louisville, Kentucky, on foot, and making a tour of several months through the Western States. He made several trading voyages down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers in the capacity of a common boatman. At the age of eighteen he became police reporter to the Louisville Advertiser; then a student in the College of Medicine; and subsequently a stenographic reporter in Congress. In 1842, having saved up fifteen dollars, he started for Europe, put up at the Astor House, and got rid of the last remnant of his money in about two days. He then went down on South Street, saw a sign calling for whalemen, and shipped on a voyage to the Indian Ocean. Browne was one of a crew of thirteen men, chiefly Portuguese, and lived in the forecastle, subject to all the benefits of hard fare and harder labor. During this memorable voyage he visited the Azores, Cape de Verde, and Canary Islands; Madagascar, Makumba, and the Comoros; and finally, on the breaking out of a mutiny, occasioned by cruel treatment of the crew, left the vessel at Zanzibar, near the East Coast of Africa, and lived for three months among

the Arabs. From Zanzibar he worked his passage home in a vessel bound to the United States from the Persian Gulf; and touched on the way at St. Helena, where he paid a visit to Napoleon's tomb. Of his perilous adventures in the whale-fishery he has given a graphic account in a narrative published by Harper and Brothers in 1844, entitled "Etchings of a Whaling Cruise," which has been noticed by the Edinburgh Review and other English journals in favorable terms.

Resuming his place as a reporter in the Senate, he followed up his old business till the end of the session, when he took charge of the books in the office of the Ohio Statesman, at Columbus. About that time Mr. Robert J. Walker became Secretary of the Treasury and gave Browne a confidential appointment. This he held until 1849, when he

set sail in a passenger ship for California, under a commission as a Lieutenant in the Revenue Service. At Rio Janeiro he was detained some three weeks by a difficulty between the captain and passengers. A new captain was placed in command, and after many storms and adversities the ship rounded Cape Horn, and made the Island of Juan Fernandez. With ten comrades Browne started in an open boat, rowed seventy-six miles, and landed on the island. His adventures in this "Crusoe Land" were published, with illustrations, in the February, March, and April numbers of Harper's Magazine for 1853.

Stopping a couple of weeks at Lima, in Peru, he reached California in August, 1849, with just sufficient change in his pockets to pay the postage on a package of letters. One of them contained notice

of a reduction in the revenue service and his own removal. While looking around for a situation as washer-man or mule-driver, he met an influential friend who appointed him a deputy Postal Agent, and he traveled through the southern part of California in that capacity. When the Convention met to form the State Constitution, Browne being the only regular stenographer in the country, was appointed to report the proceedings. For this job he received ten thousand dollars cash in advance. During the debate in the United States Senate, relative to the admission of California, it became necessary to have this report, and the Senate, by resolution, purchased two thousand copies, for which they paid our lucky adventurer three thousand dollars. With the fortune thus acquired, he built a handsome house near Washington, and "retired" for life.

Three months of retirement answered his purpose. He sold out for cost, pulled up stakes, and started for Europe. We next find him, by letters to the National Intelligencer, ranging through Austria, Hungary, the various German States, Italy, Sicily, Greece, Turkey, and the Holy Land. His adventures in Syria and Palestine have been given to the world in a popular book entitled "Yusef—a Crusade in the East," issued by the Harpers in 1853. Yusef Badra, the renowned dragoman who conducted Mr. Browne through Syria, is the most perfect type of his class in our literature. Kinglake's Demetri can not be compared with him. He was a real character, a little idealized perhaps, and might have made his fortune from the celebrity which Browne gave to him, only he fell into bad ways, and after visiting America in charge of some Arabian horses, returned to Beirut, where he died three or four years ago. If we were to select the five most readable books of Eastern travel, we should hesitate whether the first place should be given to Browne's "Yusef" or Kinglake's "Eothen." The third place certainly belongs to Warburton's "Crescent and Cross;" the fourth and fifth place may be fairly contested by Curtis's "Howadji" and Prime's "Tent Life."

On his return from this extensive tour he went to Washington, received an appointment as General Inspector of Custom-houses and Public Depositories; and in that capacity visited all the Collection Districts in the United States, including those of Minnesota, California, Oregon, and Washington Territory.

In 1855 he bought a small ranche, and settled in California, and for the ensuing five years was Special Agent of the Treasury and Interior Departments for the Pacific Coast; and visited all the Indian Tribes, and nearly every acre of ground between the Straits of Fuca and San Diego. He has made altogether six trips to and from California. Before the close of the Buchanan Administration he got himself into trouble with the powers at Washington for exposing the frauds committed in the public service. A spirited account of this part of his career is given in an article on "The Indian Reservations," in the August Number of Harper's Magazine, 1861. On losing his official head he buckled on his pack and blanket, and started on foot for the Silver Mines of Washoe, where he set up an Agency. His hardships, trials, and misfortunes there are amusingly described in a series of papers entitled "A Peep at Washoe," also published in Harper's Magazine. In 1860 he left the Pacific Coast for Europe; and during the last two

THE IRON-CLAD "MONTAUK" ENGAGING THE REBEL FORT McALLISTER, IN THE OGEECHEE RIVER, 28TH JANUARY, 1863.—SKETCHED BY AN OFFICER OF THE DAWN." [SEE PAGE 127.]

Ross Browne
The Montauk

 

 

 

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