Negro Emancipation


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, January 10, 1863

Welcome to our online collection of original Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers. Our archive includes all the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. This collection will enable you to watch the events of the war unfold week by week. Check back often as we add new material each day.

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



Battle of Fredericksburg

Negro Emancipation

Negro Emancipation

Lincoln Fredericksburg Letter

Lincoln's Fredericksburg Letter

Battle of Kinston

Battle of Kinston

Battle of Goldsborough

Battle of Goldsborough

Fort Negley

Fort Negley

General Banks's Expedition

General Banks's Expedition

Fredericksburg Artillery

Fredericksburg Artillery

Holly Springs

Holly Springs, Mississippi

Battle of Fredericksburg

Bayonet Charge at the Battle of Fredericksburg

Cartoon Slave

Slave Cartoon







[JANUARY 10, 1863.



WILD wandering dreams! in dusky midnight stealing,

Why wake ye thus the memories of the dead?

Spirits departed to our gaze revealing;

Forms that we loved ere life's warm breath had fled.

Ye can not bring them back, false dream! then why

Chase ye Sleep's angels from their guardian watch?

Like doves fast fluttering from the hawk away,

   With quick dispatch.

   Wherefore this mockery?

      Wild wandering dreams!


Wizards of night! were you false phantom shade

A form with life-blood mantling as of yore,

A face whose lips, all trembling, half betrayed

The secret that the eyes had told before:

Were the dear image summoned yesternight

(Summoned in mockery) by my side to-day,

With beauty radiant as the stars of night,

Or shimmering lights that on blue ocean play—

Present in mortal guise as long ago,

I'd curse the spell that brought her to me so,

   From starry spheres:

To roam with weary step this vale of tears

Suffering life's fitful fever through long years,

   Then withering go,

         Dying again!


Wild midnight revelers! if ye needs must come

On stars quick tripping—flash the soul away

Where dwell the blest around the Eternal throne:

Show us Heaven's raptures; paint Eternity;

But hovering earthward wake no memories here

   Of loved ones blest!

Let angels tell us how old Time speeds on;

How soon the scytheman comes, and we are gone

   To meet them there

      And take our rest!




BEFORE this paper is published the President will probably have issued his Proclamation offering freedom to all negro slaves resident in localities which have not elected representatives to Congress by a majority of legally constituted voters. It is hoped by the Northern partisans of slavery that the Proclamation will be postponed or withheld altogether. But we fail to discover any ground for the hope. Whatever reasons led the President to issue the preliminary Proclamation in September last apply with equal force to the case as it stands at present, and our recent reverses supply additional motives for securing the active aid of 4,000,000 slaves, if it can be done.

The States and parts of States which will be excepted from the operations of the Proclamation will be the States of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri; the city of New Orleans, Louisiana; probably the cities of Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee; the city of Norfolk, and the vicinity of Fortress Monroe, Virginia; and a strip on the sea-board of North Carolina. Questions will doubtless arise as to the strict right of such cities as New Orleans—whose legally constituted voters are generally in the rebel army—to avail themselves of the benefits of the exceptional proviso in the Proclamation. But the chances are that that act, if enforced at all, will be construed liberally.

Two questions suggest themselves to every one's mind in connection with this Proclamation. First, will it induce the negroes to run away? and, secondly, what shall we do with them if they do?

Opinions differ upon both these points; but we imagine that most well-informed persons will, with the President, doubt whether the issue of the Proclamation will be followed by any general exodus of the slaves. For a year or more our armies have refused to return fugitive slaves. Wherever our generals have invaded the rebel States, they have been compelled by military necessity to welcome the contrabands to their camps. Notwithstanding the famous order No. 3, both Grant's and Buell's army practically gave freedom to the slaves whom they found in Western Tennessee. General McClellan has published a letter in which he states that no slaves were returned by officers of the Army of the Potomac after the enactment of the new "Article of War," but that, on the contrary, all contrabands deserting to that army were received, fed, and set to work. At Hilton Head, the slaves of South Carolina have had a safe refuge for more than a year. At New Orleans General Butler has received and employed every slave who fled thither. At Memphis General Sherman issued a general order, early last fall, directing the officers of his command to welcome fugitive slaves, and deal with them as freemen, at all events for the time being. It is hardly possible that the negroes of the South can have been generally ignorant of a policy so uniformly pursued on the entire rebel frontier; and the presumption therefore is, that all the slaves who wanted to run away, and were able to escape, either have already reached our lines, or are now endeavoring to do so. The Proclamation can hardly add any thing to their knowledge of our purposes, or to their ability to elude the vigilance of their masters. In this respect, therefore, it will effect no change in the situation. It merely affirms and consolidates the policy which has hitherto been pursued by individual commanders from military considerations. Slaves will continue to escape as heretofore; the number of runaways will increase as our armies advance and the blockade is tightened. Possibly the knowledge that under the Proclamation the faith of the United States is pledged to protect them in their rights as freemen may

impart courage to some who are now hesitating, and so swell the tide of the fugitives.

The problem how to employ the contrabands will necessarily be solved by the war. Necessity will compel us to use them as soldiers. We shall require, to garrison the strategic points in the enormous country which we have undertaken to overrun, more troops than even the populous North can provide. It is clear that even a million of men will be found too few to attack and defeat the rebel armies, storm the rebel forts, and at the same time hold and occupy each point we take. A quarter of a million troops, in detached forts, may not prove too many to hold the line of the Mississippi River, after it has been reopened by our armies and our flotilla. For this service the negroes are well adapted, and whatever scruples may be entertained by individual generals, the logic of events compels us to assign them to it at several points. The work has already been successfully begun. We have a negro regiment at Hilton Head, and a negro brigade at New Orleans. A bill is pending before Congress for the equipment of 200 negro regiments of 1000 men each, and the feeling among loyal men is in favor of its passage, We shall have to feed and clothe the emancipated negroes, and there is no present way of making them earn their living except by making them garrison our forts. The rebels, as the cut on the preceding page shows plainly, have no scruples against arming them. We can safely follow their example.


THE country has learned with considerable regret that Major-General BENJAMIN F. BUTLER has been removed from the command of the Department of the Gulf. His energy, courage, and hearty hostility to treason in every shape, have won for him the admiration and respect of all loyal men; and the execration in which he is held by our enemies at the South and in Europe proves how thoroughly he has done the work which was set him to do. Whether he was as careful of the probity of his subordinates, and as tender of the feelings of foreign consuls as he should have been, are questions which the Administration can decide better than the public. His removal justifies the belief that they were decided in the negative. Mr. Lincoln doubtless had good reasons for his course; though, as we said, the removal is source of sorrow to all loyal men who are in earnest in this war.

But if any possible appointment could console the country for the removal of BUTLER, it would be that of NATHANIEL P. BANKS. For no man in the United States possesses a stronger hold of the public confidence than the ex-operative of Waltham. Not that General Banks has ever electrified the country by brilliant flashes of genius, by extraordinary exploits, or unusual triumphs; but that, in whatever station he has been placed, from the beginning of his career as member of the Massachusetts Assembly to the present moment, he has always proved himself equal to his task. Every thing which he has undertaken he has accomplished. A man of unusually clear perceptions, a calm, judicial mind, and dauntless courage; not devoid of passion, as was shown in his magnificent speech at the Astor House before he left New York; but so fair and free from prejudice that Mr. Aiken, of South Carolina, pronounced that he had stood so straight in the Speaker's chair as almost to have leaned to the other side; gifted with such wonderful prescience that as far back as 1858, when the whole country was slumbering in peace, he began to drill the Massachusetts militia for this war; so keenly alive to the truths of the day, and accurately discerning the nature of the contest, that he alone of the leading Republicans wanted to have 600,000 men called out in April, 1861, and scorned the popular notion that we could starve out the South; a statesman of no mean calibre, as even such men as James Buchanan were forced to confess; a soldier in whom McClellan could find no fault. Such is the man who now wields power and authority in this country second only to that of Abraham Lincoln.

For it can not be too often repeated that this war must be decided not on the banks of the Potomac, but on the banks of the Mississippi. So long as the rebels hold any portion of the great river it will avail us little to beat their armies in Virginia. Lee, defeated before Richmond, falls back toward Raleigh, and our triumph is barren. He may even fight us, as Davis has boasted, for twenty years on the soil of Virginia, without decisive result, so long as the present boundaries of the Confederacy remain undisturbed. But once let our armies and navy obtain and retain the whole course of the Mississippi, and the hopes of a national existence for the Confederacy is gone. The South went to war with us because the North insisted on girdling slavery, leaving to the slave power Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Missouri. If we can take and hold the Mississippi we shall girdle slavery without those large States—shall confine the institution within the limits of old States where there is little or no new land, and no room for the migratory system of agriculture on which slavery fattens. The South could

not afford to accept national existence on these terms. They would realize, as Toombs prophesied, that their country was too small for them and their negroes together, and before five years elapsed, if we recognized their independence, would come on bended knees to Washington, begging to be let out of the trap in which they had got caught.

The possession of the Mississippi River is the key to victory in the war. It now devolves upon General Banks to possess it.



Six volumes of our Weekly are now completed, and the seventh begins with so great a multitude of friends that we can not be guilty of letting the New Year pass without a word of acknowledgment. Not that any very sentimental relation exists between you, my good unknown friend, who buy this paper in the extreme West or East or North or South, and the proprietors or the writers; but because, despite all of us, a periodical paper has an individual existence, and its readers are inevitably a body, a diocese, toward which the paper feels abstractly indeed, but especially attached.

As becomes every illustrated paper which seeks to entertain the public without offending its prejudices, public questions were not discussed in these columns until a blow aimed at the very heart of the nation left but one commanding interest in the public mind. Then to have tattled amiably about matters for which nobody cared would have been merely idiotic. For if any man said that patriotism was politics he was at heart a traitor. And if any said that he was indifferent, while his country staggered under the assassins' blows, he was a knave or a fool. And Harper's Weekly does not solicit the favor of traitors, fools, or knaves.

While our brave boys by thousands and thousands were marching, and camping, and fighting for us in the field, this paper has borne most living witness of their services and their heroism, by a copious and constant picturing of the more striking and interesting places, events, and persons of the war, all along the line from Maine to Missouri. And that the world might know, as it saw them pictured, what they were fighting for, and that they might see that neither they nor the cause were forgotten by us who stay behind, we have constantly set forth the great principles of this war, and so far as we may, in obedience to the first duty of every public teacher in the land, we have sought to elevate and ennoble the public opinion, which is the true government of the country. To that end we have often spoken strongly and sternly. But when good men are losing their lives for us all shall we be mealy-mouthed? Let us at least impress upon our soldiers the fact that they are periling their lives for a nation of men with hearts and souls, not for a heap of mush. What brave soldier would wish to save a pack of miserable cowards who do not dare to call their faith, or their country, or their souls their own? We have not believed in making war with olive branches or any other wooden weapons, but when a desperate assault was made upon the Government, and humanity, and civilization, we have believed, and do still with all our hearts and souls believe, that the true way to treat it was to make the enemy feel the overwhelming power of that Government and civilization, wherever an honorable and humane grasp could seize him; and be shaken until he were subdued even if it were unto death. And if any adviser thinks with a smile that it would be hard to do, we believe in trying, and not in submitting to an infamous foe until we have strained every nerve. The trial may indeed not save life, but it will save honor.

To have been called "Abolitionist" is not a very overpowering blow. The time for a visionary position of abstract hostility to slavery and practical support of it has utterly gone. Practically to favor slavery in this country at this time is to aid the destruction of the Government and invite anarchy. The question whether the friends or the foes of slavery caused the war is obsolete. Every man may think of it as he will. But we all know that except for slavery there would have been no war. And we can have no peace with it hereafter. It must conquer as the dominant interest of the Government, or be absolutely conquered.

It is certainly profoundly gratifying to us, as it is a most honorable and significant fact for the country, that the circulation of Harper's Weekly during this melancholy time has been steadily increasing. It has not been partisan, and never will be. It has been as patriotic as it could be. and, by God's grace, will never be otherwise. The Lounger believes that the New Year will be happy, and he salutes all his friends with the best wishes.


THE holiday season probably never dawned upon so many mourning households. But the grief upon which it shines is not dead and hopeless, for the cause of the sorrow and the association of the holy-time blend in a light that transfigures the memory of the departed. To have died nobly is hardly less than to have lived well. For indeed they can hardly be said to do the one who have not done the other. And the thousands of young and brave and beautiful whose voices shall mingle no longer in our solemn Christmas hymns and happy New-Year greetings, have given a more serious sweetness to each festival by the memory of their heroic sacrifice.

A generous nation will not stand by the graves which are covered with a year's grass, or are just closed, or just opening, and betray those who are laid in them. Those young lives were not poured out that anarchy may prevail. Every one of them has pledged us all more closely to the great object to which they were devoted. From the first slain

in Baltimore, from Ellsworth and Winthrop and Greble, on to the last noble heart stilled in battle, each is a link in the chain that holds us all fast to our country. Our dimmed eyes are washed with their blood, so that we who were blind now see. Slowly, and, in how many cases, reluctantly, our minds have come to know that we must conquer or be conquered, and that there is and can be no peace but the annihilation of the cause of war.

And which of these brave youth of ours, seeing as they now do with perfect vision the work they have wrought, would regret the early ending of their mortal lives, or even the sharp, sudden pang it sent to the sister, or brother, or wife, or maid who loved them, or the mother's heart who bore them? For those who remain is the gain or the loss greater? Is the mother of Joseph Warren, of Nathan Hale, pitied by any man? The mother of Colonel Baker died lately in Illinois. How well she knew that her son ascended, not went down, from the floor of the Senate to the field at Ball's Bluff!

But these are the thoughts that raise our human hearts into heavenly serenity after the bitter blow has a little passed. In this friendly and sacred season the old habit of the loving voice and the beloved face and form returns and claims its own. The season is domestic. The home asks for its unbroken circle, and its wistful eyes seek those whose smile should have outlasted ours. How far the shadow this year falls! Yet, O aching hearts! O tearful eyes! for you the poet sings:

"With trembling fingers did we weave The holly round the Christmas hearth; A rainy cloud possessed the earth, And sadly fell our Christmas-eve.

"At our old pastimes in the hall

We gambol'd, making vain pretense Of gladness, with an awful sense Of one mute shadow watching all.

"We ceased: a gentler feeling crept

Upon us: surely rest is meet.

'They rest,' we said; 'their sleep is sweet;' And silence followed and we wept.

"Our voices took a higher range:

Once more we sang, 'They do not die, Nor lose their mortal sympathy,

Nor change to us, although they change.

"'Rapt from the fickle and the frail, With gathered power, yet the same, Pierces the keen seraphic flame From orb to orb, from veil to veil.'

"Rise, happy morn! rise, holy morn!

Draw forth the cheerful day from night: O Father, touch the east, and light

The light that shone when Hope was born."


IT is astonishing to observe how much Everybody knows. If only Everybody's advice had been followed the war would have been over long ago. If you seat yourself in a car for a little journey, you can not but hear the conversation before you and behind you, and Everybody knows every thing to that degree that it is incomprehensible why we have not long ago done all that we long ago undertook to do. The movements of the army especially, and the councils of the Government, are revealed in detail to Everybody—while poor Nobody evidently knows nothing about them.

It makes no difference that the knowledge of various people is entirely at variance—that both can not by any possibility be true. They insist upon their asseverations with refreshing dogmatism, entirely disregarding the counter assertion. "I know!" says Paul; and ''I know!" retorts Peter; and apparently one has just as good reason as the other. One man goes to Washington and sees the documents, and returns and tells you just how it was. His neighbor goes to Washington and talks with members of the Government, and he tells you upon his return that it was all precisely the other way.

Then the entirely authentic private intelligence! After Antietam it was said that Sigel had gone up on the Virginia side to cut off Lee. "No, no!" said the next man; "impossible. Sigel has not ten thousand men." "But I assure you," rejoins the first, "my correspondent in Washington writes me so, explicitly." The news of the cutting-off was waited for patiently, but it has not yet arrived.

After the disastrous days of July upon the Peninsula one friend met another, "So Buell is in Baltimore with fifty thousand men on his way to Fort Monroe!" "Impossible." "Oh, but I assure you my correspondent in Baltimore, whose business is to get the news, wrote it to me yesterday." "Indeed."—But Buell has not yet arrived.

Statements of every kind can be taken only at the most alarming discount. We began with the most prodigious fabrications, but at the close of the second year of them our appetites are unsated. During the Fredericksburg days came the detailed news of Banks ascending the Chowan and forming divisions of his force, etc., etc. It was all gravely published and devoured. Yet if common-sense and memory could have had a chance, we should have reflected that, as General Banks sailed in ocean steamers, and as the Chowan is a shallow puddle or brook, the chances were terribly against the truth of the story, and entirely in favor of its being a desperate lie to frighten the enemy.

The only permanent fact in the matter is that we all dogmatize furiously upon pure falsehood or the most inadequate reports. Any man who wishes to know will neither believe his neighbor's correspondents nor the newspaper telegrams, but wait patiently until enough time has elapsed to verify all statements. The main fact of a battle may be correct, but whether it were a victory or defeat we can not know, however lustily it may be asserted.

And you, good friend, whose dogged insistence the ether morning upon the melancholy and alarming fact that peremptory orders had been issued to all our Generals to burn up all rivers in their way has served the Lounger for a text, do you know




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