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Civil War Harper's Weekly, March 7, 1863

We have posted our entire collection of Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers online for your research and enjoyment. These old newspapers contain fascinating images and stories of the key elements of the War, and offer unique insights into this conflict.

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

 

Longworth

Nicholas Longworth

Jewish Persecution

Jewish Persecution

Queen of the West

Capture of the Queen of the West

Paying Teamsters

Paying Teamsters

Free People, Long War

How Free People Conduct a Long War

Battle of Vicksburg

Battle of Vicksburg

Madisonville

Madisonville, Louisiana

New Orleans

Poor of New Orleans

Teamsters

Teamsters

Vicksburg Blockade Runner

Running the Blockade at Vicksburg

Vicksburg Battle

Picture of the Battle of Vicksburg

Vicksburg Map

Map of Vicksburg

Napoleon Cartoon

Napoleon Cartoon

 

 

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[MARCH 7, 1863.

154

THE BATTLE OF VICKSBURG.

WE illustrate on pages 152 and 153 a SCENE IN THE FOUR DAYS' BATTLES BEFORE VICKSBURG. These famous battles, which have caused so much distress throughout the West, and done so much to create dissatisfaction with the Government, really developed an amount of courage and self-devotion on the part of our troops which have rarely been paralleled during the present war. Rarely has an attempt been made to storm intrenchments under so great difficulties. The enemy were in all probability more numerous than their assailants under Sherman, and they had the advantage of a superior position, elaborate earth-works, and countless batteries of cannon. Our brave fellows had to scramble up bluffs under a terrible fire, positively working their way on their hands and knees, and pulling themselves up the smooth heights with their nails. At every step of the way they were shot down by concealed foes: when the decimated remnant reached the crest of the bluff they found themselves opposed to a superior force, fresh, confident, and well armed. A storming party under similar circumstances is usually covered by a heavy artillery fire. The assailants under Sherman had no such ally. The memory of their repulse will nerve the remainder of the army to wipe out the disgrace when the assault is renewed.

A DARK NIGHT'S WORK.

By the Author of "Mary Barton," etc.

Printed from the Manuscript and early Proof-sheets purchased by the Proprietors of "Harper's Weekly."

CHAPTER IX.

THE wedding went by, as grand weddings do, without let or hindrance, according to the approved pattern. A cabinet minister honored it with his presence, and, being a distant relation of the Morants, remained for a few days after the grand occasion. During this time he became rather intimate with Ralph Corbet; many of their tastes were in common. Ralph took a great interest in the manner of working out political questions; in the balance and state of parties; and had precisely the right appreciation of the exact qualities on which the minister piqued himself. In return, the latter was always on the look-out for promising young men, who, either by their capability of speech-making or article-writing, might advance the views of his party; and recognizing the powers he most valued in Ralph, he spared no pains to attach him to his own political set. When they separated it was with the full understanding that they were to see a good deal of each other in London.

The holiday Ralph allowed himself was passing rapidly away; but before he returned to his chambers and his hard work he had promised to spend a few more days with Ellinor; and it suited him to go straight from the duke's to Ford Bank. He left the castle soon after breakfast—the luxurious, elegant breakfast, served by domestics who performed their work with the accuracy and perfection of machines. He arrived at Ford Bank before the man-servant had quite done the dirtier part of his morning's work, and he came to the glass-door in his striped cotton jacket, a little soiled, and rolling up his working apron. Ellinor was not yet quite strong enough to get up and go out and gather flowers for the rooms, so those left from yesterday were rather faded; in short, the contrast from entire completeness and exquisite freshness of arrangement struck forcibly upon Ralph's perceptions, which were always critical rather than appreciative; and as his affections were always subdued to his intellect, Ellinor's lovely face and graceful figure flying to meet him did not meet with his full approval, because her hair was dressed in an old-fashioned way, and her waist was either too long or too short, her sleeves too full or too tight for the standard of fashion to which his eye had been accustomed while scanning the bride-maids and various high-born ladies at Stokely Castle.

But as he had always piqued himself upon being able to put on one side all superficial worldliness in his chase after power, it did not do for him to shrink from facing and seeing the incompleteness of moderate means. Only marriage upon moderate means was gradually becoming more distasteful to him.

Nor did his intercourse with Lord Bolton, the cabinet minister before-mentioned, tend to reconcile him to early matrimony. At Lord Bolton's house he met polished and intellectual society, and all that smoothness in ministering to the lower wants in eating and drinking which seems to provide that the right thing shall always be at the right place at the right time, so that the want of it shall never impede for an instant the feast of wit or reason; while, if he went to the houses of his friends—men of the same college and standing as himself, who had been seduced into early marriages—he was uncomfortably aware of numerous inconsistencies and hitches in their menages. Besides, the idea of the possible disgrace that might befall the family with whom he thought of allying himself haunted him with the tenacity and also with the exaggeration of a night-mare whenever he had overworked himself in his search after available and profitable knowledge, or had a fit of indigestion after the exquisite dinners he was learning so well to appreciate.

Christmas was, of course, to be devoted to his own family; it was an unavoidable necessity, as he told Ellinor; while, if the truth must be told, he was learning to find absence from his betrothed something of a relief. But the wranglings and folly of his home, even blessed by the presence of a Lady Maria, made him look forward

to Easter at Ford Bank with something of the old pleasure.

Ellinor, with the fine tact which love gives, had discovered his annoyance at various little incongruities in the household at the time of his second visit in the previous autumn; and had labored to make all as perfect as she could before his return. But she had much to struggle against. For the first time in her life there was a great want of ready money; she could scarcely obtain the servants' wages; and the bill for the spring seeds was a heavy weight on her conscience. For Miss Monro's methodical habits had taught her pupil great exactitude as to all money matters under her control.

Then, her father's temper had become very uncertain. He avoided being alone with her whenever he possibly could; and the consciousness of this, and of the terrible mutual secret which was the cause of this estrangement, were the reasons why Ellinor never recovered her pretty youthful bloom after her illness. Of course it was to it that the outside world attributed her changed appearance. They would shake their heads, and say, "Ah, poor Miss Wilkins! What a lovely creature she was before that fever! To see her now, one would never think that she was almost a beauty only twelve months ago!"

But youth is youth, and will assert itself in a certain elasticity of body and spirits; and at times Ellinor forgot that fearful night for several hours together. And even when her father's averted eye brought it all once more before her she had learned to form excuses and palliations, and to regard Mr. Dunster's death as only the consequence of an unfortunate accident. But she tried to put the miserable remembrance entirely out of her mind; to go on from day to day, thinking only of the day; and how to arrange it so as to cause the least irritation to her father. She would so gladly have spoken to him on the one subject which overshadowed all their intercourse; she fancied that by speaking she might have been able to banish the phantom, or at any rate to reduce its terror to what she believed to be the due proportion. But her father was evidently determined to show that he was never more to be spoken to on that subject; and all she could do in her helpless perplexity was to follow his lead on the rare occasions that they fell into something like the old confidential intercourse. As yet, to her, he had never given way to anger; but before her he had often spoken in a manner which both pained and terrified her. Sometimes his eye in the midst of his passion caught on her face of affright and dismay, and then he would stop, and make such an effort to control himself as sometimes ended in tears. Ellinor did not understand both these phases were owing to his increasing habit of drinking more than was good for him. She set them down as the direct effects of a sorely-burdened conscience; and strove more and more to plan for his daily life at home, how it should go on with oiled wheels, neither a jerk nor a jar. It was no wonder she looked wistful, and care-worn, and old, with all she had shut up in her poor weary heart. Miss Monro was her great comfort; the total unconsciousness on that lady's part of any thing below the surface; and yet her full and delicate recognition of all the little daily cares and trials made her sympathy most valuable to Ellinor, while there was no need to fear that it would ever even give Miss Monro that power of seeing into the heart of things which it frequently confers upon imaginative people, who are deeply attached to some one in care or sorrow.

There was a strong bond between Ellinor and Dixon, although they scarcely ever exchanged a word but on the most commonplace subjects; but their silence was based on different feelings from that which separated Ellinor from her father. Ellinor and Dixon could not speak freely, because their hearts were full of pity for the faulty man whom they both loved so well, and tried so hard to respect.

This was the state of the household to which Ralph Corbet came down at Easter. He might have been known in London as a brilliant diner-out by this time; but he could not afford to throw his life away in fire-works; he calculated his forces, and condensed their power as much as might be, only visiting where he was likely to meet men who could help him in his future career. He had been invited to spend the Easter vacation at a certain country-house which would be full of such human stepping-stones; and he declined it to keep his word to Ellinor and go to Ford Bank. But he could not help looking upon himself a little in the light of a martyr to duty; and perhaps this view of his own merits made him chafe under his future father-in-law's irritability of manner, which now showed itself even to him. He found himself distinctly regretting that he had suffered himself to be engaged so early in life; and having become conscious of the temptation, and not having repelled it at once, of course it returned and returned, and gradually obtained the mastery over him. What was to be gained by keeping to his engagement to Ellinor? He should have a delicate wife to look after, and even more than the common additional expenses of married life. He should have a father-in-law whose character at best had had only a local and provincial respectability, which it was now daily losing by habits which were both sensual and vulgarizing: a man, too, who was strangely changing from joyous geniality into moody surliness. Besides, he doubted if, in the evident change in the prosperity of the family, the fortune to be paid down on the occasion of his marriage to Ellinor could be forthcoming. And above all, and around all, there hovered the shadow of some unrevealed disgrace, which might come to light at any time and involve him in it. He thought he had pretty well ascertained the nature of this possible shame, and had little doubt but that it would turn out to be that Dunster's disappearance to America

or elsewhere had been an arranged plan with Mr. Wilkins. Although Mr. Ralph Corbet was capable of suspecting this mean crime (so far removed fro the impulsive commission of the past sin, which was dragging Mr. Wilkins daily lower and lower down), it was of a kind that was peculiarly distasteful to the acute lawyer, who foresaw how such base conduct as he suspected would taint all whose names were ever mentioned, even by chance, in connection with it. He used to lie miserably tossing on his sleepless bed, turning over all these things in the night season. He was tormented by all these thoughts; he would bitterly regret the past events that connected him with Ellinor, from the day when he first came to read with Mr. Ness up to the present time. But when he came down in the morning, and saw the faded Ellinor flash into momentary beauty at his entrance into the dining-room, and when she blushingly drew near with the one single flower, freshly gathered, which it had been her custom to place in his button-hole when he came down to breakfast, he felt as if his better self was stronger than temptation, and as if he must be an honest man and honorable lover even against his wish.

As the day were on the temptation gathered strength. Mr. Wilkins came down, and while he was on the scene Ellinor seemed always engrossed by her father, who apparently cared little enough for all her attentions. Then there was a complaining of the food, which did not suit the sickly palate of a man who had drank hard the night before; and possibly these complaints were extended to the servants, and their incompleteness or incapacity was brought thus prominently before the eyes of Ralph, who would have preferred to eat a dry crust in silence, or to have gone without breakfast altogether, if he could have had intellectual conversation of some high order, to having the greatest dainties with the knowledge of the care required in their preparation thus coarsely discussed before him. By the time such breakfasts were finished Ellinor looked thirty, and her spirits were gone for the day. It had become difficult for him to contract his mind to her small domestic interests, and she had little else to talk to him about, now that he responded but curtly to all her questions about himself, and was weary of professing a love which he was ceasing to feel in all the passionate nothings which usually make up so much of lovers' talk. The books she had been reading were old classics, whose place in literature no longer admitted of keen discussion; the poor whom she cared for were all very well in their way; and if they could have been brought in to illustrate a theory, hearing about them might have been of some use; but, as it was, it was simply tiresome to hear day after day of Betty Palmer's rheumatism and Mrs. Day's baby's fits. There was no talking politics with her forever, because she was so ignorant that she always agreed with what he said.

He even grew to find luncheon and Miss Monro not unpleasant varieties to his monotonous tetes-a-tete. Then came the walk, generally to the town to fetch Mr. Wilkins from his office; and once or twice it was pretty evident how he had been employing his hours. One day in particular his walk was so unsteady and his speech so thick that Ralph could only wonder how it was that Ellinor did not perceive the cause; but she was too openly anxious about the headache of which her father complained to have been at all aware of the previous self-indulgence which must have brought it on. This very afternoon, as ill-luck would have it, the Duke of Hinton and a gentleman whom Ralph had met in town at Lord Bolton's rode by and recognized him; saw Ralph supporting a tipsy man with such quiet friendly interest as must show all passers-by that they were previous friends. Mr. Corbet chafed and fumed inwardly all the way home after this unfortunate occurrence; he was in a thoroughly evil temper before they reached Ford Bank, but he had too much self-command to let this be very apparent. He turned into the shrubbery paths, leaving Ellinor to take her father into the quietness of his own room, there to lie down and shake off his headache.

Ralph walked along, ruminating in gloomy mood as to what was to be done; how he could best extricate himself from the miserable relation in which he had placed hirnself by giving way to impulse. Almost before he was aware, a little hand stole within his folded arms, and Ellinor's sweet sad eyes looked into his.

"I have put papa down for an hour's rest before dinner," said she. "His head seems to ache terribly."

Ralph was silent and unsympathizing, trying to nerve himself up to be disagreeable, but finding it difficult in face of such sweet trust. At length he began:

"Do you remember our conversation last autumn, Ellinor?"

Her head sunk. They were near a garden seat, and she quietly sat down without speaking.

"About some disgrace which you then fancied hung over you?" No answer. "Does it still hang over you?"

"Yes!" she whispered, with a heavy sigh.

"And your father knows of this, of course? Does he?"

"Yes!" again in the same tone; and then silence.

"I think it is doing him harm," at length Ralph went on, decidedly.

"I am afraid it, is," she said, in a low tone.

"I wish you would tell me what it is," he said, a little impatiently. "I might be able to help you about it."

"No! you could not," replied Ellinor. "I was sorry to my very heart to tell you what I did; I did not tell you because I wanted help; all that is past. But I wanted to know if you thought that a person situated as I was was justified

in marrying any one ignorant of what might happen; what I do hope and trust never will."

"But if I don't know what you are alluding to in this mysterious way, you must see—don't you see, love, I am in the position of the ignorant man, whom I think you said you could not feel it right to marry. Why don't you tell me straight out what it is?" He could not help his irritation betraying itself in his tones and manner of speaking. She bent a little forward, and looked full into his face, as though to pierce to the very heart's truth of him. Then she said, as quietly as she ever had spoken in her life,

"Ralph, you wish to break off our engagement?"

He reddened, and grew indignant in a moment.

"What nonsense! Just because I ask a question and make a remark! I think your illness must have made you fanciful, Ellinor. Surely nothing I said deserves such an interpretation. Have I over said a word that ought to lead you to think so? On the contrary, have I not shown the sincerity and depth of my affection to you by clinging to you through—through every thing?"

He was going to say "through the wearying opposition of my family:" but he stopped short, for he knew that the very fact of his mother's opposition had only made him the more determined to have his own way in the first instance; and even now he did not intend to let out what he had concealed up to this time, that his friends all regretted his imprudent engagement.

Ellinor sat silently gazing out upon the meadows, but seeing nothing. Then she put her hand into his. I quite trust you, Ralph. I was wrong to doubt. I am afraid I have grown fanciful and silly."

He was rather put to it for the right words, for she had precisely divined the dim thought that had overshadowed his mind when she had looked so intently at him. But he caressed her, and reassured her with fond words, as incoherent as lovers' words generally are.

By-and-by they sauntered homeward, and when they reached the house Ellinor left him and flew up to see how her father was. When Ralph went into his own room he was vexed with himself, both for what he had said and. what he had not said. His mental look-out was not satisfactory.

Neither he nor Mr. Wilkins were in good-humor with the world in general at dinner-time, and it needs little in such cases to condense and turn the lowering tempers into one particular direction. As long as Ellinor and Miss Monro staid in the dining-room a sort of moody peace had been kept up, the ladies talking incessantly to each other about the trivial nothings of their daily life, with an instinctive consciousness that if they did not chatter on something would be said by one of the gentlemen which would be distasteful to the other.

As soon as Ralph had shut the door behind them Mr. Wilkins went to the side-board, and took out a bottle which had not previously made its appearance.

"Have a little Cognac?" asked he, with an assumption of carelessness, as he poured out a wine-glassful. "It's a capital thing for the headache; and this nasty lowering weather has given me a racking headache all day."

"I am sorry for it," said Ralph, "for I had wanted particularly to speak to you about business—about my marriage, in fact."

"Well! speak away, I'm as clear-headed as any man, if that's what you mean!"

Ralph bowed, a little contemptuously.

"What I wanted to say was, that I am anxious to have all things arranged for my marriage in August. Ellinor is so much better now; in fact, so strong that I think we may reckon upon her standing the change to a London life pretty well."

Mr. Wilkins stared at him rather blankly, but did not immediately speak.

"Of course I may have the deeds drawn up in which, as by previous arrangement, you advance a certain portion of Ellinor's fortune for the purposes therein to be assigned; as we settled last year, when I hoped to have been married in August?"

A thought flitted through Mr. Wilkins's confused brain that he should find it impossible to produce the thousands required without having recourse to the money-lenders, who were already making difficulties, and charging him usurious interest for the advances they had lately made; and he unwisely tried to obtain a diminution in the sum he had originally proposed to give Ellinor. "Unwisely," because he might have read Ralph's character better than to suppose he would easily consent to any diminution without good and sufficient reason being given, or without some promise of compensating advantages in the future for the present sacrifice asked from him. But perhaps Mr. Wilkins, dulled as he was by wine, thought he could allege a good and sufficient reason, for he said:

"You must not be hard upon me, Ralph. That promise was made before—before I exactly knew the state of my affairs."

"Before Dunster's disappearance, in fact," said Mr. Corbet, fixing his steady penetrating eves on Mr. Wilkins's countenance.

"Yes—exactly—before Dunster's—" mumbled out Mr. Wilkins, red and confused, and not finishing his sentence.

"By-the-way," said Ralph—(for with careful carelessness of manner he thought he could extract something of the real nature of the impending disgrace from his companion in the state in which he then was; and if he only knew more about this danger he could guard against it; guard others—perhaps himself)—"By-the-way, have you ever heard any thing of Dunster since he went off to America? isn't it thought?"

He was startled beyond his power of self-conciousness


 

 

 

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