The Fall of Vicksburg


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, July 18, 1863

We have posted our extensive collection of Harper's Weekly newspapers online for your perusal. These old newspapers give details of the war which are simply not available anywhere else. Browse these pages, and see what people thought of the conflict as it was happening.

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


Port Hudson

Battle of Port Hudson

Gettysburg First Report

First Report from Gettysburg

Fall of Vicksburg

Fall of Vicksburg

Port Hudson

Bombardment of Port Hudson

General Reynolds

General Reynolds

Northern Invasion

Robert E. Lee's Northern Invasion

Call to Arms

Call to Arms

Upperville Fight

Fight at Upperville

Gettysburg Map

Gettysburg Map

Battle of Upperville

Battle of Upperville

War in Virginia

War in Virginia

Jefferson Davis Cartoon

Jefferson Davis Cartoon




JULY 18, 1863.]



(Previous Page) pass, rose and spoke of the condition of the country, and of the evident determination of the Southern leaders to go to extremity. This, he said, must be avoided. But it could be prevented in one way only, and that was by accepting at once the Montgomery Constitution, and acceding to every demand these leaders had made or might yet make. He proposed a total, unqualified, abject surrender in advance of all national and individual honor that the Government should be overthrown without an effort to save it, and the country ruined by the deliberate, craven cowardice, treachery, and meanness of leading citizens. So utterly contemptible and dastardly a suggestion was never made to decent men as this B— gravely put forth, and after haranguing sat down. After a little time — spoke, and substantially supported B—'s proposition. Then — got on his feet. In the most fervent manner he protested against the suggestion, which was so unqualifiedly ignoble and unmanly that it was incredible it should be seriously meant. At least, he said, Americans can do what every other people in history, however wretched, have done—at least we can strike one blow for our own honor, our own Government, and the rights and privileges of which it is the guarantee. At least we can resolve that the system of popular government shall not be proved by our consent as ridiculous and imbecile as its enemies declare it to be impracticable. We can make one stand, however short, against simple anarchy. When this Government falls we all fall with it. To connive at such abject treachery is deliberately to relinquish our manhood. He spoke very vehemently and eloquently. T— rose after him, and said that peace was the great thing. We must have peace at all hazards. Fine sentiment was very well, but hard-headed men understood their interest. Every body knew that the Southern leaders would whip us and do just what they pleased, and we had better make a merit of necessity. T— spoke from his pocket, for he had a large and profitable trade with the South. Then— stood up. 'I have a million of dollars at stake in the South. I go for peace, of course, as long as peace is honorable. I am for finding a method of fair understanding, if it can be found. But it these men take up arms; if they assail this Government and resist the laws, I will willingly give the million they owe me, and every other dollar I own in the world, to maintain the Government of the United States.' The other faithful but more timid ones then spoke out. This meeting dissolved; and having discovered that many of the most important and influential men present were not disposed to lie in the mud to receive terms from a deadly foe whom they had not even tried to resist, the formation of the Committee, which was afterward spawned at Delmonico's, was postponed, My friend —; said X—, "is writing the history of the war, and he will take good care that B—, and all such men, shall see their names as plainly printed for our children as our fathers took care that the name of Benedict Arnold was printed for us. The men who from the beginning of this war have been, under whatever masks, the enemies of the Union, of the country, and of orderly free government, are as perfectly well known privately now as history will make them publicly known hereafter."

I dined yesterday at —'s, and Tresslewell was one of the company. Now if Providence makes a man ignoble, and grants him not only nothing of the spirit, but forbids him also the appearance of a gentleman, it does seem an excess of unkindness not to make him in the least aware of it. That Tresslewell is an insignificant, vulgar-looking man is his misfortune. That he dresses like a bar-keeper or a flash stage-driver is probably his misfortune also. That he is certainly what Miss I—t—b calls "a won'erful or'nary-looking man" is the one point about him which is known to every body. No; there is another well-known fact. He is rich. He is not clever; he is not well-bred; he is not well-educated; he is vulgar; but he is also rich. Now certainly it is pleasanter to be rich than poor. What other consideration could have persuaded Mrs. Tresslewell to marry him? She, too, was at table. Her head was something "won'erful" —upon the outside at least.

She began to talk to me about the "gentlemen" from the South whom she so regretted to miss from society. I told her that I had seen a great many people from that part of the country, but that I had not yet seen the gentlemen. I have met plenty of persons who dressed well, and spoke in a low voice, and knew French, and complimented women very prettily, and talked horses, and dogs, and boats with other men, but I had not seen the gentlemen.

"Why, how funny!" said she, "we used to meet so many every summer at Newport."

"I knew them," answered I.

"And yet you say you never met any gentlemen from the South."

"I do."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that all those men knew that women were inhumanly whipped in order that they might dance and flirt in Newport and elsewhere; and they did not protest, but insisted that it was necessary and right, Now, Mrs. Tresslewell, I do not think women-whippers, either personally or by proxy, can possibly be gentlemen."

"Dear me," said Mrs. Tresslewell, "what an awful Abolitionist you are!"

"I suppose I am, dear Madame, and I suppose it's some dreadful thing; but seriously, I'd rather be an Abolitionist than a gentleman who whips women."

At this point Tresslewell spoke from the other side of the table:

"Are you talking of gentlemen? Well, let me tell you a story. When I was in London I went to the opera, forgetting that you had to wear a dress-coat, etc., but dressed as I am when I go to the opera here. They stopped me at the door and sent me back, saying that, to get in there, a man must be dressed like a gentleman. So I went home and changed my clothes. But when I returned the impudent fellow at the door was just going to turn me away again; but I shook my coat-skirts at him as he was in the midst of saying again that to get in a man must be dressed like a gentleman—and he let use pass. But isn't it remarkable that people, whose business it is to be on the look out, don't know a gentleman when they see him?"

"Perhaps they do," ejaculated X—.

There was one moment's pause, and then simultaneously every body turned and began to chatter with his neighbor.


THE men who made the Constitution of the United States were fresh from the experience of war and its consequences. The President of the Convention had been the commander-in-chief of the army. He and his companions knew the dangers, the difficulties, the risks of all action based upon what is called "public necessity" and "public safety." They knew that the most summary action was often essential. Washington had himself recommended its exercise upon various occasions during the war.

In making a Constitution of Government for the new nation these men had to deal with the question of supreme, irresponsible power. What did they do? They surrounded the fundamental right of personal liberty with the most solemn security;

and with the same common-sense and clear perception which led them to do that, with equal solemnity they authorized, in case of supreme necessity, the most summary deprivation of personal liberty. The protection which they gave to the personal liberty of every citizen, as a rule and in time of tranquillity, they just as distinctly and explicitly removed from him in time of public danger. The words they used were these: "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it."

There stands the provision. It is simple, clear, indisputable. It vests in the Government of the country authority to deprive citizens of personal liberty, and refuse them the benefit of the writ. It makes the Government the judge of the public necessity; and it declares the public safety to be the ground of this grant of summary power. Not to have done this would have deprived acts which, in times of war, are essential to the public welfare of all constitutional authority. They would have been assumptions of arbitrary power, to be justified only by the evident necessity of the case. But doing this, the framers of the Constitution recognized a necessity with which their experience of war and knowledge of human nature had already acquainted them, and covered with the sanction of the fundamental law itself whatever temporary and occasional departures from its general spirit might be necessary to preserve the law itself from destruction.

And yet, to adopt a plain provision of the Constitution, established by Washington, Madison, Hamilton, Rufus King, Sherman; Benjamin Franklin, the Morrises and their associates, is to incur the disapproval of Mr. Horatio Seymour, who informs us in his speech on the 4th of July that the doctrine of public necessity is "bloody, treasonable, and revolutionary."

It is clear that we must make a choice. On one side we have the Constitution and its framers. On the other Mr. Horatio Seymour. When the late George Stephenson was asked by a Parliamentary Committee, which had no faith in railroads: "Mr. Stephenson, it is all very well to talk about iron rails and engines running on them at ten and fifteen miles an hour, but suppose your engine meets a cow on the rails, how then, Mr. Stephenson, how then?" The engineer, in his broad Yorkshire dialect, responded, simply: "Wull, gentlemen, it wull be varra bad for the coo."


THE simplicity, directness, and pathos of the remarkable book of Mrs. Kemble, now published by the Harpers, make it one of the most timely and valuable aids of the good cause. There is nothing strained or extravagant in it. It is the plain story of the most hideous state of society that has existed any where in a nominal Christian land. The tragedy of a life in which the mere human rights of a majority of the population were utterly despised saddened the mind and sobered the tone of one who could easily command all sensational effects. No man and no woman who wishes to understand the character and necessity of this war can afford not to read Mrs. Kemble's Journal. Those who, under an infamous cry of peace, are trying to deliver this country bound into the hands of men who repudiate and loathe the fundamental doctrine of our Government, will feebly sneer at this tranquil but terrible picture of the workings of a society which such men control. Those, too, who ludicrously call themselves "Democrats," and whose political hopes lie in inflammatory appeals to excite the most ignorant of our population against the most unfortunate, and whose "Democracy" consists in pandering to the only oligarchy and aristocracy in the land, will try to answer the overpowering testimony of this witness by shouting that niXXers were made for slaves. But every loyal, honorable American citizen, as he lays down the melancholy history, remembering with pain his share of tacit assent to this iniquity hitherto, will see, as he sees that God is just, that there is no peace for his country hereafter except the peace of death which comes by the universal domination of this system, or the peace of life which comes by its total extinction.


WHEN is a lady's neck not a neck?—W hen it's a little bare.

"Will you have it rare or well done?" said an Englishman to an Irishman, as he was cutting a slice of roast beef. "I love it well done iver since I am in this country," replied Pat, for it was rare enough we used to ate in Ireland."

An officer in the French army, dying, left a widow, who had some difficulty in getting her claims to a pension acknowledged. Her lawyer, annoyed by her pertinacity in applying for the pension, one day said to her, "Why do you not apply to the King? He will grant your pension; it is a mere song." The widow presented herself before the King and showed her claims. While he was considering them she was humming to herself. "Why do you make that noise?" he inquired. "Sire," said the widow, "they told me the pension was a mere song; I was trying to learn the air." The King, pleased with her wit, granted her request.

The second Duke of Buckingham, talking to Sir Robert Viner, in a melancholy mood, about his own personal extravagance: "I am afraid, Sir Robert," he said, "I shall die a beggar at last—the most terrible thing in the world." "Upon my word, my lord," answered the Mayor, "there is another thing more terrible, which you have reason to apprehend, and that is that you will live a beggar, at the rate you go on."

An Irishman, who had blistered his fingers by endeavoring to draw on a pair of new boots, exclaimed, "I believe I shall never get thim on until I wear thim a day or two."


"Too much drinking has caused me pain;

I'll never look at a glass again."

He kept his word and never lied,

And yet by drinking wine he died.

"How could he do it?" Only think;

Why, he shut his eyes when he took a drink.

A declamatory counsel, who despised all technicalities, and tried to storm the court of the East India Company by the force of eloquence, was once uttering these words, "In the book of nature, my lords, it is written"—when he was stopped by this question from the Chief Justice (Lord Ellenborough), "Will you have the goodness to mention the page, Sir, if you please?"

A traveler, among other narrations of wonders of foreign parts, declared he knew a cane a mile long. The company looked incredulous, and it was evident they were not prepared to swallow it, even should it have been a sugar cane. "Pray what kind of a cane was it?" asked a gentleman, sneeringly. "It was a hurricane," replied the traveler.

Sir James Graham's father was full of anecdotes of that sociable divine, Archdeacon Paley, and loved to tell how some one, praising the conjugal peace enjoyed by a gentleman in the neighborhood, who had not had even an argument with his wife for more than thirty years, appealed to Paley whether it were not admirable as a domestic example. "No doubt," said the doctor, "it was verra praiseworthy, but it must have been verra dool."

Why is the rudder of a steamboat like a public hangman?—Because it has a stern duty to perform.

An old gentleman, who was always boasting how folks used to work in his young days, one day challenged his two sons to pitch on a load of hay as fast as he could load it. The challenge was accepted, the hay-wagon driven round, and the trial commenced. For some time the old man held his own very creditably, calling out. "More hay! more hay!" At length, struggling to keep on the top of the disordered and ill-arranged heap, it began first to roll, then to slide, and at last off it went from the wagon, and the old man with it. "What are you doing down here?" cried the boys. "I came down after hay," answered the old man, stoutly.

At a public-house near Grantham, where London porter is sold, the landlord has for his sign a figure of Britannia in a reclining posture as if greatly fatigued. Underneath is the following inscription—"Pray, stop and sup-porter."

"I hope to live to see the day," said Lord Brougham, "when every peasant in England can understand Newton." "Wouldn't it be better that they had a little bacon first?" inquired Cobbett.

A runaway thief having applied to a blacksmith for work, the latter showed him some handcuffs, and asked if he understood such kind of work. "Why, yes, Sir," said the other, "I guess I've had a hand in 'em afore."

Mrs. Partington, when she heard the minister say there would be a nave in the new church, observed that "she knew well who the party was."

If you wish to offer your hand to a lady, choose your opportunity. The best time to do it is when she is getting out of an omnibus.

A new member rose to make his first speech, and, in his embarrassment, began to scratch his head. "Well, really," exclaimed Sheridan, "he has got something in his head after all."

How many horses are required to "draw a comparison?"

When "pride has a fall," is it from the "height of stupidity?"



Why is St. Paul's Cathedral like a bird's nest?

Because it was built by a Wren.

Why are the poker, shovel, and tongs, like the order of the Garter?

Because they are appendages to the great (grate).

If the sun could speak, what would it say to a budding rose?

You be blowed (blown).

Why did Lord Byron never wear a wig?

Because he was celebrated for his coarse hair (Corsair).

How many legs has a horse?

Ten, two fores (fours) and two behind.



THE following dispatch has been received:

"BLACK HAWK," July 4, 1863.

Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy:

SIR,—I have the honor to inform you that Vicksburg has surrendered to the United States forces on this 4th of July.

   Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

      D. D. PORTER,

      Acting Rear-Admiral.


A dispatch, dated Cairo, Illinois, Tuesday, July 7, says:

The dispatch boat has just arrived here from Vicksburg. She left at 10 o'clock on Sunday morning.

The passengers announce that General Pemberton sent a flag of truce on the morning of the 4th of July, and offered to surrender if his men were allowed to march out.

General Grant is reported to have replied that no man should leave except as prisoners of war.

General Pemberton then, after consultation with his commanders, unconditionally surrendered.

The news is perfectly trust-worthy.


The following is General Meade's official report:



Major-General Halleck, General-in-Chief:

The enemy opened at one o'clock P.M. from about one hundred and fifty guns, concentrated upon my left centre, continuing without intermission for about three hours, at the expiration of which time he assaulted my left centre twice, being upon both occasions handsomely repulsed with severe loss to him, leaving in our hands nearly three thousand prisoners.

Among the prisoners are Brigadier-General Armisted and many colonels and officers of lesser rank.

The enemy left many dead upon the field and a large number of wounded in our hands.

The loss upon our side has been considerable. Major-General Hancock and Brigadier-General Gibbon were wounded.

After the repelling of the assault, indications leading to the belief that the enemy might be withdrawing, an armed reconnoissance was pushed forward from the left, and the enemy found to be in force.

At the present hour all is quiet.

My cavalry have been engaged all day on both flanks of the enemy, harassing and vigorously attacking him with great success, notwithstanding they encountered superior numbers, both of cavalry and infantry.

The army is in fine spirits. GEORGE G. MEADE,  Major-General Commanding.



HEADQUARTERS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, NEAR GETTYSBURG, July 4, 1863. The Commanding General, in behalf of the country, thanks the Army of the Potomac for the glorious result of the recent operations. Our enemy, superior in numbers, and flushed with the pride of a successful invasion, attempted

to overcome or destroy this army. Baffled and defeated, he has now withdrawn from the contest. The privations and fatigues the army has endured, and the heroic courage and gallantry it has displayed, will be matters of history to be ever remembered.

Our task is not yet accomplished, and the Commanding General looks to the army for greater efforts to drive from our soil every vestige of the presence of the invader.

It is right and proper that we should, on suitable occasions, return our grateful thanks to the Almighty Disposer of events, that, in the goodness of His providence, He has thought fit to give victory to the cause of the just. By command of




WASHINGTON, D C , July 4, 10.30 A.M.

The President announces to the country that news from the Army of the Potomac up to ten P.M. of the 3d is such as to cover that army with the highest honor, to promise a great success to the cause of the Union, and to claim the condolence of all for the many gallant fallen; and that for this he especially desires that, on this day, He, whose will, not ours, should ever be done, be every where remembered and reverenced with the profoundest gratitude.



There was no fighting on 4th, 5th, or 6th. Lee appears to have employed those days in flying toward the Potomac by way of Hagerstown; Meade in collecting his troops for pursuit. The number of prisoners taken by our forces is estimated at over 15,000, and stragglers from Lee's army swarm in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Our cavalry appear to have begun to harass the rebels on 5th, and on the same day General Couch, with his militia, is reported to have come down from Carlisle and formed a junction with Meade. Meanwhile General French and other commanders are engaged in destroying the rebel bridges across the Potomac and throwing obstacles in the way of his return home. Our latest rumors are that Meade in force attacked Lee at Williamsport on 7th, and that a great battle is (on 8th) in active progress.


The reported approach of General Dix upon Richmond has caused the most intense fright in the rebel capital. The Secretary of War, the Governor of Virginia, and the Mayor of Richmond have all issued proclamations calling upon the citizens to turn out and defend themselves. They are reminded of the fate of New Orleans, and cautioned not to allow their city to fall into the hands of "another Butler." The appearance of General Dix's forces on the peninsula has thoroughly scared the Richmond people, and a universal turn-out of the citizens was the consequence.


A New Orleans letter of the 30th ult. says that "matters at Port Hudson are pushed forward with steadiness and energy. The grand point of the rebel stronghold, the 'Citadel,' has, through the agency of seventeen large Parrott guns, placed by our troops so as to completely command it, fallen into our hands. The Major who commanded the construction of the work informed me that 'when he left Port Hudson the flag of the Republic was flying over the Citadel.' This Citadel is the extreme right of the rebel work, and from it our gun-boats received most annoyance. The most vigorous efforts are being made all along our line from right to left. An attack is momentarily expected. The final conflict is certain to come very soon. It will be made with our works stronger and nearer those of the rebels than at any time previously. A vigorous bombardment is kept up night and day, and this is now telling wonderfully in our favor. Already a long breach has been made in the outer wall of the enemy, besides the vast carnage created inside. The few old cattle which the rebels have been accustomed to drive in front daily to let us know they had meat are long since exhausted."


The Herald has the following: News of a most important character reaches us from sources beyond all question as to the truth of the statement. The Vice-President of the rebel government, Alexander H. Stephens, and Mr. Commissioner Ould, came down the James River on board the rebel gun-boat Dragon on Saturday, under a flag of truce, and requested permission from Admiral Lee to proceed to Washington, in order to present in person an important communication from Jefferson Davis to Abraham Lincoln. Admiral Lee at once dispatched to Washington for instructions. A Cabinet meeting was accordingly held on 6th, and it was decided that permission should not be granted to these gentlemen to fulfill their mission, whatever it was, to Washington. Admiral Lee was instructed to inform them that the ordinary channels of communication would suffice for the transmission of any message they might have to send to Mr. Lincoln. Meantime the rebel gun-boat had steamed up the James River, while awaiting the reply from Washington.


The probability of the return of North Carolina to the Union is foreshadowed by the Portsmouth Virginian of the 2d, which says: "Reliable information has been received here that the return of North Carolina to the Union is an event which may be daily expected. A disaffection toward the Government of Jeff Davis, radical and widespread, exists in the State, and overtures have been made to General Foster which will shortly lead to important results."




THE report that England had been invited by France to unite with her for joint intervention was officially denied by Earl Russell. On June 30 Mr. Roebuck was to make a motion for the recognition of the Southern Confederacy. A report says that Lord Palmerston will propose the King of the Belgians as arbitrator in the American war.


The case of the pirate Alexandra was tried in the Court of Queen's Bench, London, involving against the owners a charge of breach of the Foreign Enlistment act. A great many witnesses were examined for the prosecution. An ex-paymaster of the Alabama told the Court all he knew about Captain Bullock and the persons who were concerned in equipping the notorious ship commanded by Captain Semmes. Sir Hugh Cairns, for the defense, said that the laws of England should not be warped to "suit the temper of a foreign Minister or the exigencies of a foreign State." The Attorney-General denied that the Government was influenced by the United States. The Court acquitted the ship, the jury and spectators being all sympathizers with rebel piracy.



An interview has lately been accorded by Napoleon to Mr. Slidell, the rebel Commissioner in Paris, and has induced the belief in some quarters that the Emperor was about to make some fresh proposals to the British Cabinet with a view to mediation between the American belligerents. This view of the case was strengthened by the fact that Messrs. Roebuck and Lindsay, of the English Parliament, had also had an audience of his Majesty in France, they being active sympathizers with the rebel cause.



The notes of the Three Powers were presented to Prince Gortchakoff on the 25th of June, and the Russian reply was anxiously awaited. The French Government is increasing its artillery by about 100 guns. In Austria, both Houses of the Reicharath have taken strong ground in favor of Poland. The Poles have gained an important victory, capturing six guns.




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