General Butler's Letter to the People of New Orleans


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, January 17, 1863

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Negroes Fighting

Fighting Negroes

1863 Emancipation Proclamation

1863 Emancipation Proclamation

General Butler Letter

General Butler's Letter to New Orleans

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Execution of Indian Murderers

Minnesota Indian Execution

Minnesota Indian Execution

General John McNeil

General John McNeil

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Map of Mississippi

General Blunt

General Blunt

Rebel Trenches

Winslow Homer's Shell in Rebel Trenches

Butler Departs New Orleans

General Butler Departs New Orleans

Border States

War in the Border States

General Blunt Biography

General Blunt Biography

Emancipated Negro

Emancipated Negro



JANUARY 17, 1863.]



(Previous Page) editor burst into the mortified laughter which afterward breaks from every reader, and so strike out the sentence? It may be true. Oh yes; but, under the circumstances, don't you think we had better wait until we discover what the result is?

In a word, why should we be at the mercy of every rumor which every correspondent in Washington hears, or fancies he hears, or thinks that he ought to hear? If you are afraid that the story sent to you may be printed in some other paper, and so print it lest yours be behind, you only continue the practice which has destroyed the value of telegraphic war-news. All the stories, for instance, in all the papers about foreign intervention might have been omitted, and we should have known exactly as much as we do now. Of course each correspondent claims that he knows all about it, and that t'other man's information is rubbish. But while no editor can exactly discriminate, every man of ability sufficient to conduct a daily paper can refuse to publish two kinds of rumors, to begin with: first, the stories of what we are going to do, and, second, the irresponsible gossip of streets or tavern lobbies, which makes grave charges against conspicuous men. And this is exactly the common sense in which our papers have been wanting.


A FAVORITE remark of the disloyal friends of the rebels at the North is, that the President is not the choice of the people, because he did not receive an actual majority of all the votes cast. The object of this statement is to weaken the sense of duty to sustain the Government, in order that the rebellion may make better terms. But it is simply false. The President is the elect of the people. The laws declare in what way the popular will shall be expressed. They do not require an actual majority of all the votes cast, but a majority of the electoral college. It is a Constitutional and legal majority which is required, and that Mr. Lincoln received as much as any President ever elected; and his tenure of office is precisely what Washington's was, although there was a vehement opposition to his election.

And when—will the disloyal orators inform us? —did a majority of "the people" of this country ever vote? The heaviest vote ever cast for President did not count four millions, and "the people" count thirty millions. "The people" is an arbitrary term. It no more follows that the people ho not favor the election of a candidate because the majority of the voters reject him than that then reject him because a majority of voters approve. The whole thing is legally adjusted, and the candidate who conforms to the legal requirement is elected by the people in the only way in which he can be.

It is observable that the orators who so loudly declare that a majority of the people did not vote for the President are the same ones who insist that the election of the present Governor of New York indicates a change of sentiment in the State. But let them apply their own system and see how it works. The Governor's majority in the city of New York was, in round numbers, thirty thousand; in the vote of the State, ten thousand. What is the inference? Simply that the State of New York gave his opponent twenty thousand majority. Well, now, shall the citizens of Chatauque and St. Lawrence be told that he is only a city Governor, and not the choice of the State? Certainly, if you follow the lead of the orators of whom we speak.

But the laws of the State declare the conditions of a Governor's election as those of the nation settle those of an election of President. And it is in conformity to those laws that Mr. Seymour is Governor, and Mr. Lincoln President; although the one received his majority in the free States, and the other in the city of New York.

It is needless to add that the people who are most strenuous and persistent in declaring that a President constitutionally elected is not the choice of the country, are the "Conservatives" who affect to be so nervously alarmed lest every comma of the Constitution should not be respected. Of all hideous jokes the chief is that which calls those who believe this Government ought not to save itself from destruction "Conservatives." Alexander Hamilton was a Conservative, we believe. Mr. Fernando Wood once went to Richmond to lecture about him. Why will not some medium report his opinion of the "Conservatism" of this hour in the Union he helped to make, to defend, and to declare indissoluble? Does this "Conservatism" wish above all things to save the Union, but only constitutionally? Well, nobody wishes to save it otherwise. In fact it can not be saved otherwise. And if you are so very anxious to save it constitutionally, why do you incessantly shriek that a President constitutionally elected is not elected by the people? Who is he elected by? Suppose the Constitution and laws declare that a minority of the actual votes cast shall, under certain conditions, elect? Is not that point just as sacred as any other?



REMEMBERING when you are more than half-way to the Opera, that you have left your box-ticket at home upon your dressing-table, and at the same time recollecting that the overture was what you wished especially to hear.

While walking home to dine en famille with your wife, remembering that you've asked a few old school-fellows to sup with you, and have quite forgotten to tell her to provide for them.

Remembering at bedtime a business letter which your uncle (from whom you have expectation) begged you to post that morning, and which, you now find, is still is your coat pocket.

Never did an Irishman utter a better bull than did an honest John, who being asked by a friend, "Has your sister a son or a daughter?" answered, "Upon my life I do not yet know whether I am uncle or aunt."

Young women should set good examples, for the young men are always following them.


Woman sews, and man reaps the advantage of it.

Vows, like waistcoat-strings, are frequently broken, when they bind a person too tightly.

When you find your property (but mind not your person) is running to waste, then only it is justifiable to pull in.

Man without a button is hopelessly adrift, not less so than a ship without its needle.


If a woman mawwy a man, and her husband dies, what do people call her?—A widow.

If she then mawwy again, and the second husband dies what ought she then to be called?—A widower.

Toward the close of an election, when all the exertions of Sheridan's friends had failed to secure his return, he bore his defeat with good-humor. A sailor, anxious to view the proceedings, had climbed one of the supports in front of the hustings. As Sheridan commenced his speech his eye fell upon the tar aloft, which he turned to ludicrous account by saying that had he but 500 voters as upright as the perpendicular gentleman before him, they would yet place him where he was—at the head of the pole.

My friend Richards, say, a country correspondent, was in inveterate chewer of tobacco. To break himself of the habit he took up another, which was that of breaking a pledge just as often as he made it. The last time I had seen him he told me he had broken if for good, but now, as I met him, he was taking another chew. "Why, Richards, you told me you had given up that habit, but I see you are at it again." "Yes," he replied," "I have gone to chewing and left off lying."

A young lady being asked by a feminine acquaintance whether she had any original poetry in her album, replied, "No; but some of my friends have favored me with original spelling."

Fashionable circles were never so numerous as they are now. Almost every lady that appears in the streets is the centre of one.

A clergyman advocating corporeal punishment for children, said, "The child, when once started in a course of evil conduct, was like a locomotive on the wrong track—it takes the switch to get it off."

A man should tell the truth without reserve, but a general shouldn't take his army into battle in that way.

You can not preserve happy domestic pairs in family jars.

If you can't coax fish to bite, try your persuasive powers upon a cross dog, and you will be sure to succeed.

A gentleman was constantly in the habit of calling his servants, before their faces, "necessary evils." He quarreled with one of them, who left him in a rage, said he was sick of service, and vowed that he would never enter it again. A few days after, his old master meeting him in a livery, said, "Pooh! you are gone into service again after all!" "Ah, Sir, I have found that masters are 'necessary evils.'"

Put a good face upon every thing, unless you are so ugly that you can't.

A handcuff—A box on the ear.

A machine has been invented which is to be driven by the force of circumstances.

"The man put up his hand deprecatingly, but a great groan heaved up from his iron chest," is one of the thrilling passages in a modern novellette.

The man who made an impression on the heart of coquette has taken out a patent for stone-cutting.

A young man advertises his desire for a wife—"Pretty, and entirely ignorant of the fact!"

A minister, putting his hand upon a young urchin's shoulder, exclaimed, "My son, I believe the devil has got hold of you." "I believe so too," was the reply.



ON Monday, January 5, in the Senate, a bill taxing bank-notes and fractional currency was introduced and referred. Bills to promote the efficiency of the artillery service, also the efficiency of the army; to prevent correspondence with rebels, and to reserve certain military sites in insurrectionary districts for sale, were introduced and referred. A resolution directing inquiry as to the expediency of consolidating regiments in the field, so that their maximum number shall be at least one thousand and twenty men, was adopted. A resolution instructing the Finance Committee to inquire into the expediency of modifying or abolishing the duty on foreign paper was adopted. The Bankrupt bill was then discussed, and after an executive session the Senate adjourned.—In the House, the bill for the relief for the sufferers by the Indian troubles in Minnesota, and abrogating all treaties with the Sioux, was passed by a vote of 78 against 17. A bill providing ways and means for the support of the Government was reported, and referred to the Committee of the Whole. A resolution was adopted directing inquiry into the causes of the loss of the Monitor, with the view of ascertaining whether vessels of her character can not be made safe and sea-worthy. Bills to establish temporary military governments in rebellious States, authorizing the raising of volunteers for the defense of Tennessee, setting apart lands for a railroad in Washington Territory, establishing a State government for Colorado Territory, and providing for a survey of swamp and overflowed lands in California, were introduced. The Judiciary Committee was instructed to report a bill providing for the protection of loyal citizens in their persons and property in insurrectionary States. A resolution was introduced directing that the Secretary of the Treasury communicate to the House his reasons, if any, for neglecting to answer the resolution passed by this House on the 16th of December last, inquiring into the names of the owners of United States stock of 1842, and as to the medium of payment of the same; and further, that he do now communicate to the House the names of such owners, and whether he has not paid the said stock, and if so, whether in coin or otherwise. After some discussion the further consideration of the subject was postponed till next day. A bill making appropriations for civil and diplomatic expenses was reported.

On Tuesday, 6th, in the Senate, the Military Committee reported back the bill to temporarily suspend the act to prevent and punish fraud on this part of officers intrusted with making Government contracts, and moved that the bill be put upon its passage, but after some debate the subject was postponed. The House joint resolution for the immediate payment of soldiers and sailor was reported by the Military Committee, with an amendment authorizing an issue of $50,000,000 of demand Treasury notes, in addition to the amount; authorized by the act of July, 1862. The bill was referred to the Finance Committee. The bill relative to the discharge of State prisoners was taken up, and Senator Wright, of Indiana, made a speech in opposition to it.—In the House, the Select Committee of Emancipation reported a bill providing for the issue of ten million dollars of thirty years' bonds, in aid of the emancipation of slaves in Missouri, the Government pledging itself to deport and colonize the freed men. Some debate ensued, and finally the bill was passed by a vote of seventy-three against forty-six. A resolution was adopted that the Committee on Ways and Means be instructed to inquire into the expediency of issuing Treasury notes bearing 3.65 interest, the amount issued to be equal to the amount of tender notes in circulation, and such other sums as the demands

of the public service for the current year shall require; that there be issued an equal amount of United Slates 6 per cent. 20-years bonds, which bonds, with the interest, shall constitute a fund for the redemption of the 3.65 Treasury notes, the bonds to be of equal date of the Treasury notes, the interest to be paid in specie. The holders of the tender notes shall have the right to surrender them whenever the amount of $100 is presented, and receive the par value for the same. The holders of the 3.65 Treasury notes shall have the right to invest the same in 20-years 6 per cent. bonds when an amount equal to $500 is presented. A bill allowing articles not now mailable to be sent to soldiers through the mails, at the rate of one cent per ounce postage, was passed. The remainder of the session was devoted to the debate upon the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Appropriation bill.



VIA NASHVILLE, Jan. 4, 1863.

To H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief, Washington:

On the 26th of December we marched from Nashville in three columns, General McCook by Nolinsville pike; General Thomas from his encampment on Franklin's pike, via Wilson pike, and General Crittenden on the main Murfreesboro pike.

Our left and centre met with a strong resistance, such as the nature of the country permits, the rolling or hilly routes, skirted by cedar thickets and farms, and intersected by small streams, with rocky bluff banks, forming serious obstacles.

General McCook drove General Hardee's corps a mile and a half from Nolinsville, and occupied the place.

General Crittenden reached within a mile and a half of Lavergne.

General Thomas reached the Wilson pike, meeting with no serious opposition.

On the 27th General McCook drove General Hardee from Nolinsville and pushed forward a reconnoitring division six miles toward Shelbyville, and found that General Hardee had retreated toward Murfreesboro.

General Crittenden fought and drove the enemy before him, occupying the line of Stewart's Creek, and capturing some prisoners with slight loss.

General Thomas occupied the vicinity of Nolinsville, when he was partially surprised, thrown into confusion, and driven back. General Sheridan's division had repulsed the enemy four times and protected the flank of the centre, which not only held its own, but advanced until this untoward event, which compelled me to retain the left wing to support the right until it should be rallied and assume a new position.

On the 1st instant the rebels opened by an attack on us, and were again repulsed.

On the 2d instant there was skirmishing along the front with threats of an attack until about three o'clock in the afternoon, when the enemy advanced, throwing a small division across Stones River to occupy the commanding ground there.

While reconnoitring the ground occupied by this division, which had no artillery, I saw a heavy force emerging from the woods and advancing in line of battle three lines deep. They drove our little division before them after a sharp contest, in which we lost seventy or eighty killed and three hundred and seventy five wounded; but they were finally repulsed by General Negley's division and the remaining troops of the left wing of General Morton's Pioneer brigade, and fled far over the field and beyond their intrenchments, their officers rallying them with great difficulty. He lost heavily. We occupied the ground with the left wing last night. The lines were completed at four o'clock in the morning.

The 3d was spent in bringing up and distributing provisions and ammunition. It has been raining all day. The ground is very heavy.


Major-General Commanding.


CAMP NEAR MURFREESBORO, Jan. 4, 1863. To Major-General H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief: Following my dispatch of last evening, I have to announce that the enemy are in full retreat. They left last night.

The rain having raised the river, and the bridge across it between the left wing and centre being incomplete, I deemed it prudent to withdraw that wing during the night. This occupied my time until four o'clock, and fatigued the troops.

The announcement of the retreat was known to me at seven o'clock this morning.

Our ammunition train arrived during the night.

To-day was occupied in distributing ammunition, burying the dead, and collecting arms from the field of battle.

The pursuit was commenced by the centre, the two leading brigades arriving at the west side of Stones River this evening. The railroad bridge was saved, but in what condition is not known.

We shall occupy the town and push the pursuit tomorrow.

Our medical director estimates the wounded in hospital at 5500, and our dead at 1000.

We have to deplore the loss of Lieutenant Colonel Geresche, whose capacity and general deportment had already endeared him to all the officer of this command, and whose gallantry on the field of battle excited their admiration.


Major-General Commanding.



Jan. 5, 1863.

Major-General H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief, Washington:

We have fought one of the greatest battles of the war, and are victorious.

Our entire success on the 31st ult. was prevented by a surprise of the right flank; but we have, nevertheless, beaten the enemy, after a three days' fight.

They fled with great precipitation on Saturday night.

The last of their columns of cavalry left this morning.

Their loss has been very heavy.

Generals Rains and Hanson are killed.

Generals Cladson, Adams, and Breckinridge are wounded.      W. S. ROSECRANS, Major-General Commanding.


Report says that General Sherman is now in possession of Vicksburg, after a series of desperate battles. The expedition landed on the Yazoo River en the 26th ult., under cover of the gun-boats, after having shelled the rebel batteries at Haines' Bluff, which was formidably fortified and well defended. The gun-boat Benton was pretty severely riddled by the enemy's shot, and her commander, Captain Gwinn, badly hurt. The enemy had seven batteries of rifled guns mounted on these bluffs, and made a stubborn resistance for more than an hour. We have the authority of the Memphis Bulletin for the fact that fighting had been going on for five days, commencing on Wednesday. Up to Monday morning General Sherman had captured three lines of the enemy's works. The firing on the fourth and last line of defense on the Jackson and Vicksburg road had ceased, and the indications were that this line—just two miles from Vicksburg—had surrendered. Before taking the fortifications General Sherman sent a brigade to cut off communication with the city by the Shreveport Railroad—work which was successfully accomplished. He was reinforced on Sunday night by nine thousand men from General Grant's army, by way of the river. The whole of the Union force at Vicksburg is now about forty thousand men.


Important intelligence has been received from rebel sources of a brilliant operation performed in East Tennessee by the Union troops. From the Lynchburg Republican of New-Year's day we learn that a body of Union cavalry, reported to be 5000 strong, and composed of one Pennsylvania regiment and others unknown, had destroyed nine miles of the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad, burning the important bridges at Zollicoffer, over the Holston and Watauga rivers, and capturing two hundred rebel cavalry who were guarding the former. The Republican says it will take several weeks to repair the damages at a

time when the road is taxed to its utmost capacity. It also states that the Yankee raid, which extended over a space of nearly a hundred miles, was one of unexpected daring and audacity.

Later Union accounts state that neatly all the bridges between Knoxville and the Virginia State line—a distance of 130 miles—have been destroyed, and the track more or less injured. So combined was the movement that the whole affair was completed in a comparatively short space of time, and, as the rebels express it, the line was so much injured "that it will take several weeks to repair the damages."


HOLLY SPRINGS, MISS., January 2, 1863.

Major-General H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief, Washington:   ,

General Sullivan has succeeded in getting a fight with the rebel Colonel Forrest, and whipped him badly.

General Sullivan has captured six pieces of artillery and a greet many horses and prisoners.

General Van Dorn was reputed at every point except this, and with heavy loss.


Major-General Commanding.


The Monitor was strained during a heavy storm on the 31st ult., sprung a leak, and went down off Cape Hatteras. The Rhode Island, which was towing her, lost a boat's crew, it is supposed, in the effort to loose the hawser which connected the two vessels.


On leaving New Orleans, General Butler published an address to the people, in which he said:

"The enemies of my country, unrepentant and implacable, I have treated with merited severity. I hold that rebellion is treason, and that treason persisted in is death, and any punishment short of that due a traitor gives so much clear gain to him from the clemency of the Government. Upon this thesis have I administered the authority of the United States, because of which I am not not unconscious of complaint. I do not feel that I have erred in too much harshness, for that harshness has ever been exhibited to disloyal enemies of my country and not to loyal friends. To be sure I might have regaled you with the amenities of British civilization, and yet been within the supposed rules of civilized warfare. You might have been smoked to death in caverns, as were the Covenanters of Scotland by command of a General of the royal house of England; or roasted like the inhabitants of Algiers during the French campaign; your wives and daughters might have been given over to the ravisher, as were the unfortunate dames of Spain in the Peninsular war; or you might have been scalped and tomahawked as our mothers were at Wyoming by the savage allies of Great Britain in our own Revolution; your property could have been turned over to indiscriminate "loot," like the palace of the Emperor of China; works of art which adorned your buildings mright have been sent away, like the paintings of the Vatican; your sons might have been blown from the mouths of cannon like the Sepoys at Delhi; and yet this would have been within the rules of civilized warfare, as practiced by the most polished and the most hypocritical nations of Europe. For such acts the records of the doings of some of the inhabitants of your city toward the friends of the Union, before my coming, were a sufficient provocative and justification."


"I found you trembling at the terrors of servile insurrection. All danger of this I have prevented by so treating the slave that he had no cause to rebel.

"I found the dungeon, the chain, and the lash your only means of enforcing obedience in your servants. I leave them peaceful, laborious, controlled by the laws of kindness and justice.

"I have demonstrated that the pestilence can be kept from your borders.

"I have added a million of dollars to your wealth in the form of new land from the batture of the Mississippi.

"I have cleansed and improved your streets, canals, and public squares, and opened new avenues to unoccupied land.

"I have given you freedom of elections greater than you have ever enjoyed before.

"I have caused justice to be administered so impartially that your own advocates have unanimously complimented the judges of my appointment.

"You have seen, therefore, the benefit of the laws and justice of the Government against which you have rebelled.

"Why, then, will you not all return to your allegiance to that Government—not with lip service, but with the heart?


"There is but one thing that at this hour stands between you and the Government, and that is slavery.

"The institution, cursed of God, which has taken its last refuge here, in His providence will be rooted out as the tares from the wheat, although the wheat be torn up with it.

"I have given much thought to this subject.

"I came among you, by teachings, by habit of mind, by political position, by social affinity, inclined to sustain your domestic laws, if by possibility they might be with safety to the Union.

"Months of experience and of observation have forced the conviction that the existence of slavery is incompatible with the safety either of yourselves or of the Union. As the system has gradually grown to its present huge dimensions, it were best if it could be gradually removed; but it is better, far better, that it should be taken out at once than that it should longer vitiate the social, political, and family relations of your country. I am speaking with no philanthropic views as regards the slave, but simply of the effect of slavery on the master. See for yourselves.

"Look around you and say whether this saddening, deadening influence has not all but destroyed the very frame-work of your society.

"I am speaking the farewell words of one who has shown his devotion to his country at the peril of his life and fortune, who in these words can have neither hope nor interest save the good of those whom he addresses; and let me here repent, with all the solemnity of an appeal to Heaven to bear me witness, that such are the views forced upon me by experience.

"Come, then, to the unconditional support of the Government. Take into your own hands your own institutions; remodel them according to the laws of nations and of God, and thus attain that great prosperity assured to you by geographical position, only a portion of which was heretofore yours.



At the Head-Quarters of the U. S. Sanitary Commission at Newbern, Dept. of N. C., on Friday, Nov. 14, died UNCLE SAM, the Aged Consort of Old Aunt Charlotte, "Our Contraband Cook." The merits of Aunt Charlotte have already been portrayed in the Weekly of Aug. 16. Uncle Sam, the faithful partner of her bondage, lived a long life of humble usefulness, and of placid good-will to all around him. He lived to see the advent of what his fellow-slaves call "The good time coming," "Bress the Lord!" and died lamented, at the advanced age of 75 years.



MR. BRIGHT, M.P., in the interest of the masses of the people of England, had made a powerful address to his constituents in Birmingham in support of the cause of the Union. Mr. Bright said he still had the utmost faith in the future of the Untied States. He quoted Kossuth, Garibaldi, and Victor Hugo to show on which side the sympathies of England ought to run. He added that he still regarded "the American Republic as the free home of the working-classes, with free vote and free career for the humblest. There would be a wild shriek of Freedom to startle all the world if that republic was overthrown."




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