General John McNeil

 

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Civil War Harper's Weekly, January 17, 1863

You are viewing an original Civil War Harper's Weekly newspaper. We have posted our entire collection of newspapers to this WEB site for your research and study. These old newspapers have incredible illustrations of the key events of the day.

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Negroes Fighting

Fighting Negroes

1863 Emancipation Proclamation

1863 Emancipation Proclamation

General Butler Letter

General Butler's Letter to New Orleans

Indian Murderers

Execution of Indian Murderers

Minnesota Indian Execution

Minnesota Indian Execution

General John McNeil

General John McNeil

Mississippi Map

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

 

 

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[JANUARY 17, 1863.

42

THE WAR IN THE BORDER
STATES.

WE illustrate on pages 40 and 41 THE WAR IN THE WEST.

On the left hand, we see some of our Union troops passing through a Border State town. Not a store is open; no vehicles are encountered by them in their march; there is no hurry and bustle of business; all seems to bear evidence of the rebels having hastily left and taken with them every sign of life. One might fancy that, not a soul had remained, until some of the concealed inmates, seeing that our errand is not plunder, or murder, or cruelty, emerge. from cellars and other hiding-places, and gather courage to beg, in heart-rending tones of despair, for something, be it ever so little, to appease their gnawing hunger. Our gallant soldiers, though not provided with more than sufficient for themselves, can not witness such suffering, nor listen to that plaintive appeal without responding to it. Each gives all he can spare, and blessings are invoked upon their kind hearts. Oh! it is pitiful to see the little children clutch at the hard crust and devour it as eagerly as if it were the daintiest morsel, and delicate women, hitherto accustomed to every luxury, now bereft of every thing but a few rags scarce enough to cover them. But the soldiers' power to alleviate their distress is very limited, and the best they can do goes a very little way. They march on with their memory full of what they have just seen, and the cries of misery ringing in their ears.

On the right hand are the ruins of one of the houses of a town that has been recently bombarded. Others are also visible which have escaped complete destruction, but still bear mournful evidence of what they have undergone. Scarcely a window is left in any of the dwellings; and the church-spire is pierced with many a hole. It looks almost like the ghost of a town—a mere spectre of what it once was. In the fore-ground we see a mother and her two children mourning over a body they have just found, which she recognizes as that of her husband. She came forth from the place of concealment where he so carefully put her and the little ones, while he thought he would go and try to save a few of the things most necessary to their comfort, and the first object which meets her gaze when she ventures out, after the noise of firing has ceased, is that lifeless form. There he lies among the smouldering ruins, for the first time deaf to the sound of his wife's loved voice. The children call upon his name in vain; no answer comes from those dead lips, and, frightened at the silence, they shrink timidly together, awe-struck, unable to comprehend why their father lies so quiet and motionless. They look to their mother for comfort, and a heart-broken wail of anguish is the only sound which greets their ears. Fragments of shell are lying all around them, and there is scarcely any thing left which they can recognize, and which could tell them that this was once their happy home.

In the corner above this a guerrilla raid is represented—the dread and horror of all the peaceful inhabitants of the country—who lay waste all within their reach, and bear away every thing of value on which they can lay their hands; who commit murder indiscriminately in order to obtain their object; and to whom an act of cruelty and outrage is a good joke. To cause the innocent to suffer, to perform deeds of unparalleled atrocity and wickedness, is their daily work.

On the opposite corner a party of rebel cavalry is seen approaching, and men, women, children, and negroes are all flying from their home to the friendly woods for protection. The men would willingly stay and defend their homes to the very last; but cui bono? Do we not hear daily of cases in which Union men have been seized, tied with ropes, and at the point of the bayonet obliged to join the rebel army?

In the lower corners the work of destruction still goes on. The left shows us a town being shelled. Once lively and prosperous, it will soon be nothing but a heap of smoking ashes. The handsome houses which once rose so proudly in air will soon be leveled to the ground. Hardly a trace of their former grandeur will be found in the blackened, unsightly ruins.

On the other side a bridge is burning; with each plank which falls helplessly into the water go the chances of communication from side to side. It is the same with railroads; one after another is destroyed, and in a country so vast as this, without such means of facilitating intercourse between one distant part and another, the work of progress and civilization ceases, education is neglected, and all advancement stops.

At the top is one of the windows of a prison. Two men are peering through the bars to pass the time away, they can just see the top of the sentry's bayonet as he slowly marches to and fro. The cause of their confinement they are told is treason, but their own consciences accuse them of nothing worse than having avowed their Union sentiments too boldly.

At the bottom is a planter's late residence; now there is no sign of life there save a few birds flitting about, an occasional bat, and some rats who may have their own way there undisturbed. Some human bones lying about would seem to tell of some tragedy having been enacted there, but no living voice remains to relate how it is that the place looks so desolate, and why the grass is allowed to grow in the path, and the garden untended and full of weeds.

Here it is, in the Border States, that the real sufferers of the war are to be found. We, in our comfortable homes, can hardly form an idea of the acute distress which it entails upon the people of that section.

God grant that this terrible rebellion, with all its fearful consequences, may speedily be crushed; that our beloved country may once more be restored to peace and prosperity; that the awful work of destruction and of wasting lives may cease; and that the wail of newly-made widows and orphans may be heard no more among us!

MAP OF VICKSBURG, MISS., SHOWING THE FIELD OF OPERATIONS OF GENERAL SHERMAN.

MAP OF THE BATTLE OF MURFREESBORO, TENNESSEE.

PLAN OF THE BATTLE OF PRAIRIE GROVE, ARKANSAS.—[SEE PAGE 46.]

GENERAL JOHN McNEIL.

WE publish on page 45 a portrait of the famous GENERAL McNEIL, whose alleged execution of ten rebels for the murder of a Union citizen of Missouri has attracted so much attention.

General John McNeil was born in the British Provinces, of American parents. Emigrating at an early age to Boston, he learned the trade of a hatter, commenced business in New York, failed, and removed, twenty-five years ago, to St. Louis. There he established himself in business and made a fortune, part of which he has lost through Southern repudiation. When the rebellion broke out the rebels Price and Jackson counted upon McNeil's support, as he was known to be a strong Democrat, and closely allied with Southern men. But the moment the gallant Lyon raised the flag of the Union at St. Louis, McNeil was one of the first to hasten to its side, and from that hour he has never flinched.

On the 8th of May, 1861, he was sworn into the service of the Government, and fought Harris at Fulton, routing him.

Major-General Fremont soon arrived, and one of his first acts was to put McNeil in command of the city. He fulfilled his arduous duties with complete success; and when the Provost Marshal, General McKinstry, was sent to the field McNeil was appointed his successor. Here again he gave entire evidence of his faithfulness and administrative abilities. On the 3d of August he was commissioned Colonel of the Nineteenth Missouri Volunteers—"Lyon Regiment"—to which he had been designated by General Lyon, and resigned it in December to accept a colonelcy in the State troops, with the command of a district on the Kansas line, where be spent the winter organizing forces and protecting the Union citizens. He returned to St. Loris in the spring of 1862, and took charge of a cavalry regiment, with command of the District of Northeast Missouri. This was a very responsible post, as the locality was infested with rebellion, and very many of the old soldiers of Price had returned, been paroled, and were home apparently with no other motive than to deceive the Government, violate their oaths, disseminate treason, and, by secret means, incite new allies, procure supplies and equipments, and furtively labor to overthrow the Government they had thus doubly betrayed. In July there was a general uprising of the rebels in the northeast under Porter, Poindexter, and Cobb. No Union man's life was safe, and murder, arson, and robbery were of daily occurrence. On the 14th of July McNeil moved to overtake Porter, and every where punished those who he knew had rendered this daring leader active aid, arrested the violators of parole, many of whom were captured in arms; with the certificates of the Government upon their persons, and ferreted out treason with no cessation. He pursued the main body of Porter's forces till the 6th of August, and then at Kirksville, in Adair County, with only 1034 men against 3000 under Porter, fell upon him with daring impetuosity, and, after a severely-fought battle, utterly routed the rebels. He came out of this fight with several bullet-holes through his clothing and a severe gun-shot wound upon his head. As an evidence of the masterly manner in which he disposed his forces, it should be mentioned that he lost only five killed and thirty-two wounded, while that of the enemy, as stated in the official report, was one hundred and fifty killed, nearly four hundred wounded, and forty-seven prisoners. Fifteen of these prisoners, by their own admission, had been paroled from previous capture, on their solemn oath, under penalty of death, not again to take up arms against the Government. He carried out the orders of General Halleck regarding such doubly-damned treason, and ordered them shot. Governor Gamble instantly appreciated his brilliant and faithful services, and gave him a Brigadier-General's commission as a reward.

From thence McNeil went into what has been styled ''the Gibraltar of treason," Munroe County, driving all before him. He openly proclaimed that where a Union man could not live in peace, a secessionist should not. He sealed his avowal with fire and sword, and on the 14th September attacked and broke up the last camp of rebellion in that region. He made his head-quarters at Palmyra, where he held many prisoners; a score or more of these being the most desperately bad men among the violators of oaths and compacts. An old man named Andrew Allsman, a true and faithful adherent to the Stars and Stripes, had just been captured by Porter, and his friends made urgent appeal to General McNeil to use his power to rescue him. The General selected ten of the worst criminals he had in arrest, and immediately notified Porter and his confederates who had abducted Allsman, that if the old man was not returned to his family by the noon of October 18, the ten men who had voluntarily forfeited their lives should be executed as a penalty. The notification was extensively circulated, but the days rolled by and the old man came not to greet his distracted family. The military edict was executed, and ten traitors paid the forfeit for the life of one good citizen, who was doubtless murdered.

A friend of the General writes; "These measures were severe, but not from the character of General McNeil: he will receive the applause of all earnest patriots for treating treason as it deserves. The fruit of his policy is pointedly exhibited where he has ruled. Before his advent murders and all lesser crimes were frequent, for no fault of the sufferers except that they were true to their country and to God. Now no more peaceful, stable, and Union-abiding people are to be found than those who live in Northeast Missouri. Jefferson Davis is thirsting for the blood of the brave General, and his coadjutors in the North are maligning General McNeil, fabricating statements of his brutality, and even asserting the two-fold falsehood that the wife of Allsman petitioned that the rebels might not be executed, and that the old man has since returned. But he will bear such calumnies, and live to reap grateful tributes."

Vicksburg Battle Map
Battle Map Murfreesboro
Battle of Prairie Grove

 

 

 

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