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Civil War Harper's Weekly, June 27, 1863

Welcome to our online collection of Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers. We hope you enjoy browsing this incredible collection. The wood cut illustrations provide an incredible view into this important aspect of American History.

 

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

 

Before Vicksburg

Before Vicksburg

Lee Invades Pennsylvania

Lee Invades Pennsylvania

Lee's Northern Ivasion

Lee's Invasion of the North

Siege of Vicksburg

Siege of Vicksburg

Dueling

Dueling

Port Hudson

Siege of Port Hudson

Democratic Cartoon

Democratic Party Cartoon

 

Vicksburg

Approaches to Vicksburg

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Battle Map

Sedgwick Crossing Rappahonnock

General Sedgwick Crossing the Rappahannock

Rebel Dead

Rebel Dead

Rifle Pits

Rifle Pits

Attack on Port Hudson

Attack on Port Hudson

 

 

 

 

 

 

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[JUNE 27, 1863.

406

(Previous Page) tall soldier came and placed himself alongside, and asked his name. The Lieutenant told him. 'They do say you air from Vermount,' said the Green Mountain boy. He was informed that such was the case; and upon further inquiry learned that the battery was formerly commanded by Captain (now Colonel) Platt, also of Vermont. 'Then,' said the man, rising, and stepping off like a rooster, 'a whole corps can not take this battery while the Old Vermont brigade supports it!' "

"SENSATION."

NATIONALLY speaking we write very much as we eat, with cruel disregard of our digestion, be it mental or physical. Judge a nation by its ballads, said some one (it would be an inconsistency in me to remember who); but we neither make nor sing ballads. Those are for people who take siestas and dance in orange-groves or about May-poles—people who keep sheep, and have traditions, and are just as much a product of the country as the heather or the twilights.

We scribble—every body—on every subject. There is matter, plenty of it. Great events jostle us, trip us up; great discoveries half blind us with the truths they are letting in on our accustomed tread-mill rounds of thought; and in this feverish age, when the whole world goes on at a mad gallop that makes the calm days when patriarchs saw angels coming in at their doors incredible, the mighty Union artery fairly bounds with the hot flow of the mingled blood of every nation under heaven.

All this whirl and fire and fever must find vent, and has it, in our sensation writing—partly as an appropriate expression, partly from necessity; for this strange thing, for which we have coined a name for want of other expression of our habit of thought and action, is a veritable Briareus, clutching at all our being and doing, down to its least detail—our writing, talking, building, dressing, governing, our very religion; even so grim a thing as our war-making—all scent of it rankly, and its presence in any one of these conditions necessitates it in all.

So it occurs that in the intellectual arena the scramble is as keen as in the stock-market; two-thirds desire money, the other third are after fame, and all clamor together, something like the two duchesses who compromised on the sugar-tongs—that is, each in turn held the other's tongue with them while talking herself (that the tongue thus held wriggled mightily is not apropos, but I append it for the benefit of femininity).

There is reason for all this clamor, for the Sensational creed reads something on this wise: The longest advertising column and the hugest placards win the stakes; so, if you are going to be on honor about your probabilities, and accurate with your facts, you will be distanced and thrown out at once; if you mean to stop for scruples of conscience or grammar, you are too nice for your profession; but if you have really any thing to say, say it to the next generation, for to-day can't wait for you; a great truth, a noble thought, is only the product of a lifetime. Glorious harvest, worth the waiting for, if you can afford it! says the Age with a sneer.

If Right were the thing we battled for we could afford it; but "Sensation" is not only our living but our object also; and for those who won't bow down to the great golden idol there is very apt to be a fiery furnace of poverty and persecution in waiting. In the days of Nebuchadnezzar three men were found faithful, and in that respect I think we are something better than the Babylonians; but I am talking to my fellow-cringers—those who, with me, bow down in the dust and sneer as we lie there. I mean to berate our idol. I can do so safely, it being the fashion; for it is hard to tell whether the magazine views the sensational serials of the weeklies with more contempt than the full-fledged book the frothy articles of the magazine, or the slashing review the last new blue-and-gold edition. So all the way through I shall be in line with some one, and meantime I can put in a quiet plea for us all; for there is the necessity—the money and fame considerations hinted at—and there is the unsatisfactory nature of a check on the next generation, viewed in the light of the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick-maker, as palliatives and for inducement. Sensation articles are simply writing made easy. They require little time, and comparatively to brain wear; only tact, and a general knowledge of the technicalities of the different schools—for sensational writing has its schools, like Mts. Browning's "common flannel, worn with proper sense of difference as to quality;" dissimilar in style, but identical in object, and all equally easy of achievement. Take the following recipes in witness.

The Valenciennes:

Must hint, not tell its story; shadow emotions, rather than paint them; deal with life in a rose-colored, absent, distant way—at the finger-tips, as it were. It opens generally with a pair of Indian vases or a scrap of stormy twilight, and ends with a marriage. You come out of it very much as a mouse might out of a rag-bag, a nice rag-bag. You have nothing very positive. Change the characters all around, and go over the story again, it would make no very special difference. You have reminiscences of a knot of gay ribbon, dainty slippers, white fingers, perfumes, generally a rocking-chair, a long dressing-glass, silver-topped bottles, a ring (it must be a signet, and be particular about the crest and armorial bearings, for that tells), glances, rising color, and a keen look (masculine, that last).

Analyze it, and you will find a bunch of violets or a coral comb to be at the root of the matter; all the rest are but accretions. Indeed for a Valenciennes article best look in at Fountain's or Ball & Black's for half an hour previous to composition. Commence with the trinket that pleased you, and stir in circumstances and pretty girls to taste. There is no better recipe.

The Poker and Tongs:

Deals in paragraphs and curt sentences. The men bully the women, swear, and are not too delicate; the women violate all the proprieties and some of the commandments, and make faces. All the characters snarl, and you imagine them closing their sentences with a snap like a cross cur. Indeed the principal incentive for reading is the natural desire to hear the excuse that these repulsive people will offer for falling in love with each other, as they do persistently.

The Legal Style:

Natural product of utter weariness of the four people who talk assassination over their coffee; the gipsy who steals that inevitable child; the fair-haired heroine who lounges on river banks in white crepe morning-dresses; and the black-haired young lady who serves a battery, takes the helm of a man-of-war, snuffs out a candle with a pistol-ball, crochets, and sets every thing straight in the story with equal nonchalance and success. We must have our crimes, but with the spice of mystery to give it zest. The author makes of us all amateur policemen: we have the excitement of the chase; we hunt our villains through the higher walks of life (I take these walks on faith: I have never seen them, or found them on either map or directory). We unearth him in courts of law, and hear counsel on both sides; we deal largely in secret drawers and old-fashioned desks, and are very particular about the northeast window that looked directly on the lawn, facing the wing in which was located Sir James's study. And what shall I say more? for the time would fail me to tell of the stalwart sailor, across whose bronzed yet handsome features flitted a passing gleam of anxiety as he thundered, "Haul down your forecastle! belay the clew-lines! furl the anchor! reef your rudder! lash the gunwale fast to the maintop-gallant sail! and crowd on the bowsprit, my hearties, as ever you wish to see your homes and your sweet-hearts again!"

Or of that excellent policeman—that diamond in the rough—who knew that something was up, the Superintendent looked so down in the mouth; and at last, says he,

" 'Craven,' says he, 'are you the man for five hundred dollars?'

"And says I,

" 'I reckon I am, if I know where they are to be got, and that they can be come by honorably.'

"And says he, 'You calculate to finish a job when you undertake it.'

"And says I,

" 'I generally go in lemons and come out on the square.' "

And then he makes a clean breast of it. On —th Avenue, between —th and —th streets, there was a little shop that I had took particular notice to, it being in my beat, etc., etc., till his game is bagged.

Or of our Military Friend, who commences:

"It was after our little brush at— (any place will do; Fredericksburg and the Seven Pines are as popular as any). We had fought like demons, but the enemy outnumbered us as usual. We had been compelled to retire in the best possible order to a farm-house, which we surrounded with our whole force, and, finding empty, entered with due caution. We were without tents, the rain, or rather drizzle," etc., etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

We analyze our swill milk and alum bread, and protest. I present specimens of the intellectual chaff offered a hungering nation (analysis of them is impossible, annihilation being the only process of which they are susceptible), and ask should such things be?

It is true that every century has its sham, stalking triumphant on its stage, and for the time being elbowing whatever there may be of virtue or heroism out of sight. And it is true that our sham is so builded and founded on our education, our prejudices, and our desires, that we want a Samson for its destruction. But it is equally true that in all ages the lucky heirs of a truth, be it ever so infinitesimal, have risen up to do battle with sham, and that it is in the nature of sham to be beaten. And it is true that, were each worker and thinker only half as much in earnest with their toy-hammers as I with mine, the result would be matter for chronicles. And, at worst, as great things sometimes spring from mean beginnings, there can be much satisfaction and no special harm in firing off my pop-gun among the first.

FRENCH DEAD (AND GONE)
SHOTS.

THERE are three instruments which the code of dueling recognizes: the small-sword, the sabre, and the pistol. In France, the first is looked upon as the national and accepted shape; the others are more or less barbaric and exceptional. Most Frenchmen are fencers, and learn that useful science as an accomplishment. A French father does not, indeed, from his dying bed press upon his child the duty of being "always ready with the pistol," which was the affectionate testamentary farewell of an Irish gentleman of some repute in these encounters, but he will take care to leave his son well grounded in the management of the rapier. Up to a recent period a Frenchman, when challenged, invariably selected pistols.

The constitutions, however, distinctly recognize the pistol, and the peculiar variations which that special shape of wager of battle is allowed to take. First, the rude Anglo-Irish and semi-barbaric system may be adopted in all its rugged simplicity: a measured distance, the two combatants facing each other, and a signal. So might Rousseau's Indians, out of their State of Nature, and furnished by a pardonable anachronism with the explosive weapons of civilization, decide their quarrel about the charms of a squaw. The simplicity was hideous. See how it can be refined into an elegant and more exciting pastime. First, for a duel a volonte,

according to the technical name. Two lines, distant from thirty-five to forty paces, are marked off; within which are drawn two other lines, from fifteen to twenty paces apart, which is the nearest approach tolerated. According to the canon of the duel a volonte, the combatants advance cautiously, starting from the outside line, and holding their pistols downward. They can halt when they please, and can take aim when they halt, but not fire, which is only allowed when the line is reached. Thus, if one desires to have the first shot, he may walk on quickly till he reach the line, and then fire; but he has the disadvantages of a hasty aim and a long range. The moment he has fired he must remain steadily in his place, a prey to the most uncomfortable feelings, until his adversary shall have adjusted his aim, and covered him. On this account, in Ireland, there has always been a reasonable prejudice in favor of receiving the adversary's fire; the apparent risk being more than counterbalanced by the enormous advantage of a quiet aim, without the disturbing influence of a hostile barrel, which must naturally confuse and agitate.

The duel a marche interrompue appears at first sight to differ little from the one last described; but there are grave and important points of distinction. Out of these various shapes of encounter the skillful amateur will find his advantage according to his experience, and the peculiar manner he will have acquired during that experience. There are the same lines, and the same distances marked off. But the parties advance in a zigzag direction—halting and advancing like Indian skirmishers—with power to fire the moment either halts. This is the grand distinction—not one of form, it will be observed, but of principle, and much to be recommended to novices, who might naturally be agitated by their debut. They will thus secure an early shot with a freedom from disturbing influences. There is, of course, always the drawback of having to accept the adversary's fire without sign or protest. It should be mentioned, that as soon as one has fired, the other is not allowed to advance further, but must discharge his pistol from the point at which he is standing.

Next follows the duel au signal, which is an approach to the old Hiberno-Britannic fashion, and was doubtless meant to conciliate national prejudice. The signal was to be given by three claps of the hand, with an interval of three seconds between each. At the first, the parties were to move slowly toward each other; at the second, to level, still walking; at the third, to halt and fire. The French code states that if one fires before or after the signal, by so much as half a second, he shall be considered a dishonorable man; and if by the disgraceful manoeuvre he shall have killed his adversary, he shall be looked on as an assassin. To minds less nice there would appear but little distinction between the cases. But if the adversary who has been fired at thus dishonorably have been lucky enough to escape, he is allowed a terrible retribution—to take a slow, deliberate aim, and a shot a loisir. Where one disgracefully reserves his fire after the signal, the disagreeable duty is allotted to the seconds of rushing in at all risk and peril—even in front of the weapon, if no other course will answer—and disarming him.

Then follows the Barriere, which is, strictly speaking, a generic term, and applicable to any shape of combat where a line of separation between the parties is enforced. Sometimes the term is applied to an arrangement by which the parties are set back to back, and at a given signal must march away ten, or any special number of paces, then turn round smartly and fire. This is, perhaps, the most humane sort of duel, as there are many chances that the parties will miss each other. Whereas the Englishman who has graduated on the hogs and moors will have a fatal advantage in this flurried style of shooting. Allowance, however, should be made for a profitable experience of our neighbors among the robins and sparrows—a good range of practice among those tiny warblers of the grove and bushes contributing to steady the eye and hand very considerably.

There is also the duel a marche non interrompue et a ligne parallele—a rather cumbersome title for a very simple mode of arrangement. The inevitable parallel lines are traced at about fifteen paces' distance (though it seems a little mysterious how those marks can be "traced" along the green sward of the Bois de Boulogne), and the parties are started from points exactly opposite each other. They can walk either fast or slow, and can fire when they please, but are not allowed to stop or to reserve their fire a second after reaching the end of the march. This system, however, is not open to the objection of being too favorable to the person who receives the first fire and reserves his own, for he is compelled to be en route while taking his aim, and is limited by time and the short distance he has to walk.

Next in the gory annals of French dueling comes the fashion of turning the two adversaries into a dark room, armed each with a pair of pistols; then, that Mexican practice of an encounter on horseback, armed with weapons of every kind. The first is worthy of gladiatorial days and the most savage of the emperors, and there is something horrible in the notion of the two caged men creeping round by the wall, with finger on the trigger, scarcely daring to breathe for fear of giving their enemy a hint of their position. There was room, too, for all manner of artful devices to make the enemy deliver his fire first, the light from which would illuminate his figure, and render him a favorable object. But these shapes of action the French code looks on as exceptional and highly irregular, refusing to take any notice of them, or apply its ordinances to their case. It throws out only one contemptuous hint in reference to them —namely, that all stipulations and arrangements must be put in writing.

The terrible duel a l'outrance, where so desperate was the character of the offense it was agreed that one of the parties should die on the ground, was contrived by loading one pistol only. The other

was primed merely, and the second holding them behind his back, the parties chose, by saying "To the right," or, "To the left." Then the end of a pocket-handkerchief was placed in each of their hands, and the fatal signal given. If the holder of the pistol pulled the trigger before the signal, he was justly dealt with as an assassin, in the ease of his having the loaded weapon. In case of its proving the empty one, the opponent had the privilege of putting the muzzle to his head and shooting him on the spot. But these extravagances—outpourings of an indecent and ungentlemanly animosity—received but little toleration, and the genteel code, as was mentioned, takes no cognizance of its incidents. Of the dramatic elements involved in a "situation" of this sort, that skillful dramatist, M. Dumas the elder, was not slow to avail himself; he has worked this strata up according to true "Saint Martinsgate" traditions, in his melodrama of Pauline.

The chronicles of the Bois de Boulogne (taking that arena in its widest sense as symbolical of such battle-grounds all over France) show many encounters between Frenchmen and foreigners. But the Bois de Boulogne has been invaded by the beautifiers of the Empire, and its pleasant privacy for such meetings disturbed. It used to enjoy the distinction of being the traditional locus in quo of all tournaments, just as Chalk Farm was the trysting-place for London, and the Fifteen Acres, "be they more or less"—as the attorney writing his challenge observed with professional accuracy—for Dublin.

Going down to Marseilles about the month of March, seventeen hundred and sixty-five, we discover Lord Kilmaurs, the eldest son of the Scotch Earl of Glencarne, sitting in the theatre of that wonderful Mediterranean city. He happened to be very deaf, and, with the perversity of those afflicted in that way, talked with an earnest loudness. A French officer in the next box, with devout attention to the performance, which we have not yet reached to, and that intemperate manner of reproving interruption, in which we are yet happily far behind them, stood up and called out roughly, "Paix! paix!" This admonition was unintelligible to the deaf lord, who maintained his conversation at the same level of pitch. The injunction was repeated several times with the same result. Thereupon the polite Frenchman rose, and, stooping over, said, with great violence, "Taisezvous!" To him the viscount, at last restored to hearing, gave some short answer, and talked a good deal louder to show his disregard. It chanced then that the officer changed his box, and later on the English lord, who was wandering round the house, happened to come into this very box, of all boxes in the world, and, in utter unconsciousness, stood at the door, his eyes roaming over the features of the officer. The latter, then boiling with rage at this apparent determination to insult him, started up and flew at the Englishman, asking him what he meant by staring at him. The other, no doubt bethinking him of the well-known proverb, said he had a right to look at any one even of royal rank. On which the officer flew at him, dragged him down into the street, and struck him on the shoulder with his naked sword. Upon which the deaf lord drew his sword gallantly; but, before he could make more than a pass or two, was run through the body, the officer's sword coming out at his shoulder-blade. Those familiar with this gay and Eastern port can fancy that scene in the open Place hard by to the Canebiere, with the lighted cafes—not yet were the days of the gorgeous and fantastic Cafe Turc—amid the colored awnings from the windows fluttering in the air, and the great Mediterranean rolling up to the shore a few yards away. Shrieks for the watch, a crowd, pouring fresh from the parterre, gathering round, and the Marquis de Pecquigny, at the head of his guard, hurrying up to the spot where the poor Englishman was lying. He was gasping for breath, choking for want of air, while the crowd, with the stupidity of all crowds, pressed in still closer on him. But the French guard made a ring round him, and saved his life for once. He was still, however, gasping and struggling there, when a surgeon, who had been at the play, came up, slit open the collar of his shirt, had him lifted up, and some water given to him. He was all but dead, and could not speak; but, wonderful to relate, in three days was perfectly well. Some little international difficulty was apprehended at first, but the English embassador at Paris soon set all straight.

Two years before the great French Revolution, a French officer unguardedly delivered himself of the aphorism that "the English army had more phlegm than spirit"—a sentiment which really had a substratum of truth, but was awkwardly worded. He should have said that phlegm was one shape of the spirit of the British army. The name of this incautious Frenchman was artfully veiled under that of the Chevalier B—, and that of the English officer, who promptly challenged him, was thinly disguised under that of Captain S—, of the Eleventh Regiment. The offense would appear to have been so deadly that the parties were placed at the alarmingly short distance of only five paces! Captain S— fired first, and his ball "took place," to use the words of the authorized report of the transaction, on the chevalier's breast, but, by a marvel of good luck, was stopped by a metal button. The chevalier, touched by so happy a deliverance, magnanimously fires in the air, and acknowledges that the English have both spirit and phlegm. In illustration of this fortunate escape, it may be mentioned that, some forty years ago, a person connected with the family of the writer of these notes, was riding out one morning in Ireland, accompanied by sympathizing friends, to arrange a little "difficulty" of the same description. When at the gate his eye fell upon a horse-shoe. With obstreperous cries of rejoicing he was called on to dismount and pick it up. All felicitated him on so lucky an omen. He put it into his pocket, and his adversary's ball actually struck it over the region of the heart and glanced off at an angle.


 

 

 

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