First Colored Troops in Combat


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, March 14, 1863

Welcome to our online collection of Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers. We have made this collection available to enable you to develop a more complete understanding of this unique chapter of American History.

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


Negro Soldiers

Abraham Lincoln as Dictator

Capture of the Jacob Bell

Capture of the "Jacob Bell"

General Hunter

General Hunter

Emancipation Meeting

Emancipation Meeting

Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson

Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson

First Colored Troops in Battle

First Colored Troops in Battle

Jackson Bio

Stonewall Jackson Bio

Rebel "Nashville"

Rebel Steamer Nashville

Exeter Hall

Exeter Hall, London

Black Troops

First Black Troops in Combat


Copperheads Cartoon





[MARCH 14, 1863.


the ordinary limits of the anger of her sex. But on the comparatively rare occasions when her passion mastered her, her paroxysms of rage were fearful. Few cared to encounter her, and none to offer opposition. The presence of her father was the only influence which stilled her wrath. When her father approached her love conquered her rage, and she was speedily calmed.

This untamable damsel Harry Gwynne had worshiped with an untiring constancy ever since he had been old enough to hold any opinions at all. He was a year or two older than his mistress, but from the days when they both wore frocks she had been, in imperial sense, the mistress, and he the slave. He had played with her, and ridden with her, and quarreled with her, and obeyed her. He had broken-in a mare for her; he had planted an Italian garden for her; he had acted in all things as one whose existence was ordained for her convenience. All this she had received as her due. She admitted to herself, if ever she thought about the matter, that she was very fond of her cousin; but she was not, on that account, disposed to play the meek maiden, waiting modestly for the kerchief of the sultan. She used her slave's services with magnificent indifference, and rewarded him sometimes with a smile, and sometimes with a fit of rage.

When no more letters came from Paris, and the Squire began to act as though he had no son, Mistress Bessie evidently deemed herself of increased importance. She had never pretended any love for the disinherited Horace. His airs and graces annoyed her. He could say prettier things than Harry, and he danced a minuet better than—hardly, at least, better than Harry, for that more rustic gentleman could not dance at all. But he had once craned at a hedge; and, on the whole, his sister did not regret his loss. She began to esteem herself the heiress of Gwynne. Papa would do something for Harry, of course, independently of the fortune left by Harry's mother; but she would be the great lady.

The Squire said not a word of his intentions, but the greater the gulf between him and his son, the tighter appeared the bond that united him to his nephew; and the fonder he grew of his nephew, the oftener did his daughter wax wroth with her cousin, and indeed with every one else. She was but twenty years old, but she was a notorious termagant; and the old housekeeper at the manor surmised that she would be the last of her branch of the house, for no one would woo so wild a bride —no one, that is, but Master Harry, and she seemed daily less inclined to stoop to the faithful cousin. Unless some terrible lesson should tame her, she would live a cheerless life.

The oftener this willful lady was told to be a good child the more pertinaciously she asserted her independence. Poor Harry still worshiped, but he received more frowns than smiles for his pains. One day when he was more than ordinarily definite and demonstrative in his professions of attachment, his mistress stamped her little foot and vowed she hated him—that her father gave too much love to the nephew and too little to his child, and that so far from having any intention of surrendering her heart, she regarded her suitor as the chief bar to her earthly happiness. Of course this was not true. Of course she loved every hair on the head of her yellow-pated cousin. But the statements of young ladies are as mysterious as the dispatches of diplomatists. They use language to conceal their thoughts, though happily their art is not always skillful enough to conceal itself. But whether it was or was not true, it made Harry very miserable. He was in a dilemma. If he was cold to his uncle, his uncle looked pained. If he was not cold to his uncle, he was accused of winning away a father's love from the personage whom, more than any other, he desired to encircle with all love. On the whole, the household was a stormy one; but now and then a patch of blue sky smiled through the clouds. Bessie forgot her grievances, and spent a merry day with her old play-fellow. These intervals were, however, sorrowfully rare.

And now the Squire fell ill. The career of his son had afflicted him more than had been supposed. He was struck with paralysis, and lost the use of his lower limbs. Stretched in his bed or on a couch, he was dependent on others for his necessities and for his pleasures. Harry and his cousin vied with one another in unwearied attention, but a state of things which ought to have healed all breaches seemed to widen the gulf between them. When the Squire called for Harry to read him the Gazette, or to write a letter to the bailiff, the fair Bessie sulked over her harpsichord. And if, perchance, the Squire said, "Bessie, will you write as I dictate?" or, "Bessie, I am going to be lifted into the coach, and to be driven to Minchester," it was, "Papa, won't Harry do it better?" or, "Papa, Harry knows all about the crops, and will be a more amusing companion."

These observations were, unlike some others of the young lady's, perfectly true; and the Squire was gradually and unconsciously beginning to act upon them. His great affliction made it hard for him to bear with the caprices of his daughter, and day after day he became less able to endure Harry out of his sight. He was growing prematurely old and prematurely peevish, and his exactions taxed all the patience of his dutiful nephew.

Miss Bessie's temper, too, grew worse instead of Letter. Once she had even flown into a passion before her crippled father, and had not been calmed by his appealing look. She remembered the day when she was all in all to her parent, and now she was as nothing. Nor were there wanting those evil influences of gossip and flattery which are never wanting in a court or in a large household. There were voices which whispered, "Madam, look out for the estate, the Squire's health is fast failing. Will you like to leave the manor, or live in it as Master Harry's guest? For to Master Harry the Squire will assuredly leave it."

At this Mistress Elizabeth Gwynne quite forgot that she desired nothing better than to stay at Gwynne all her life, with this treacherous Harry,

as his wife, and forgot also her firm faith that his wishes entirely agreed with her own. She only remembered that she was the daughter of the elder branch; that there was a suspicion that she was to be disinherited; that—that—indeed she was not very clear what. But enough had been said to rouse all her rage, and from that day the notion of a will never failed to raise the devil at her heart.

She and her cousin dined daily in her father's own study. It was the only occasion on which the three were long together. On a certain day, in the course of the meal, the Squire looked across the table contrived to fasten to his couch, and said:

"Harry, lad, has Griffiths gone to Minchester?"

"He went at ten o'clock, Sir. He rode Brown Hanover. He wanted to have Strawberry, but I know she isn't up to his—"

"Papa, what have you sent Griffiths to Minchester for? You know I was going to ride over this afternoon."

"Something that Griffiths could do better than you, my Bessie."

There was a significant look in the invalid's eyes.

"Harry, what did he go for? Oh! very well. If you won't tell me, pray keep your secret!"

And she cooked her spleen. It was not, indeed, a very merry meal.

"Hannah, do you know why Griffiths has gone to Minchester?"

"Griffiths, ma'am? Minchester, ma'am? I think I heard him say he was going to take a letter to Mr. Deeds."

Now Deeds was the family lawyer. The plot was out. The Squire was going to make a will in Harry's favor. The despised daughter of the house sat brooding in her own room, and her face grew very dark. The groom brought round her mare, but she said she had changed her mind. She would not ride that day.

Late in the afternoon she saw Mr. Deeds and a clerk drive up the avenue in a chaise. She heard them ushered into her father's bedroom. The Squire had felt weaker than usual, and had retired to his room immediately after his mid-day meal. The noise of the footsteps on the marble, and the shutting of the doors, was as oil on fire. Elizabeth Gwynne was all but in the last stage of passion. She chafed and fumed in her own room till suspense became unbearable. She rang a hand-bell that summoned a maid, and sent a message.

" Tell some of the people to ask Mr. Harry if he will speak with me immediately."

Presently the girl returned.

"Mr. Harry was busy with the Squire and could not come." Had it come to this? Was she, the once-loved daughter, to remain silent in her room, while her natural father was signing away her patrimony to her cousin? Had not she a right to be with her father? He was doing something important or he would not have sent for Deeds. It was her plain duty to be with him.

"He shall not do it!—he shall not do it!" she muttered between her teeth, and in a violent paroxysm of passion stalked along the corridor to her father's rooms. As she crossed the hall she met Deeds and his acolyte, conducted by a lackey, on their way to their chaise. The old lawyer bowed low.

"Hypocrite!" she hissed, and passed on.

She flung open her father's door. When all motion had become irksome to him he had taken up his quarters in what was called the state bed-room on the ground-floor. Queen Anne had passed a night at Gwynne, and the room had been sumptuously furnished for her. On the lofty bed, rich with curious needle-work, and canopied by clingy plumes, lay the old chief of his clan, helpless and wan. A fire burned loweringly on the cunning smith's work that lay at the bottom of the huge fire-place, and threw a changeful light on the high-backed chairs, the black cabinets, the heavy hangings, and the painted ceiling of the great gloomy room. At the side of the bed stood a table littered with pens and writing materials. An extinguished taper still poisoned the air. At the foot of the bed stood Harry, holding in his hand a clean, new parchment document, folded, tied, and sealed.

All her fears were then realized. She was the despised and disinherited dependent. There lay the father who had abandoned her. There stood the scheming villain who had ousted her from her own. Her cousin stood still for an instant, startled by her sudden appearance, and awed by the white passion of her face. She strode to where he stood, snatched the packet from his hand, and flung it into the glowing coals. Ere her cousin had recovered from the shock she had thrust the vellum deep into the great fire. He started forward to rescue his charge before it was consumed, but she stood with outstretched arm before the grate, and shrieked in a voice hoarse with rage—"Robber! robber! robber! Would you rob me of my birth-right? You have stolen my father's love! Would you steal my inheritance too? Stand back, Sir; you shall not touch it! My father never meant to do it. He does not know what you have made him do—he always loved me—he never would—" She looked up at her father as she spoke; and Harry, who had stood dumb beneath her torrent of abuse, and down whose cheeks two hot tears of gentle pity for her, and utter anguish for self, were slowly trickling — Harry looked round at the Squire too. He was sitting up in his bed; his arms were stretched out, and his hands were clasping and unclasping themselves in the air, while his lips mumbled in vain, and his eyes seemed to burn to speak. So he sat for a minute, his children rushing to his side and seizing his hands. It seemed as though his brow would crack in the agony of desire to speak. For a moment the eyes shone with a brighter lustre in the flickering flame of the burning packet, his mouth made a convulsive effort to form a word, and he fell heavily back on his pillow, dead.

There was an awful silence for a space, and then Elizabeth burst forth in a wail of sorrow and remorse. She had killed her father. She had better die to join him.

"Kill me, kill me, Harry!" she shrieked. But the utter desolation of grief that was expressed in her cousin's face silenced her own sobs. Kneeling down by the side of the bed she hid her head in her hands, and was still.

Then came doctors and domestics. "Another stroke!" "Poor Squire; and only five-and-forty." "And how did Miss Gwynne get to her father's room?" "Did he know her before he died?"

All these things were said as she was borne in a dull stupor to her room. Harry alone knew the truth. He saw her laid on her bed and in the custody of her women, and then retired to his own grief and the many duties he had to perform.

In the morning the old housekeeper came to him and brought tidings of her lady. Elizabeth had slept a little in the night, and was calm now. She wished to see her cousin, She received him with great gentleness, and as one who had had her life-lesson. She knew that no apology could atone for what she had said and done. She trusted her grief would be sufficient punishment. She could not insult her cousin in his own home with her presence after what had occurred. Immediately after the funeral she should leave Gwynne. Mrs. Griffiths had promised to go with her. She had enough to maintain her in decent respectability from what her mother had left her for pocket-money. She should not require much, for she should not live long.

"And, Harry," she added, "when you hear that I am dead, will you let me be buried with papa in our own church-yard?" She looked him tearfully in the face.

"O Bessie, Bessie!" he broke out; "you go away!—you leave Gwynne! It is I that must go! It is yours—it is all yours! The will left it all to you. O Bessie! How could you—how could you—?" But he stopped in the middle of his reproach. "Bessie, I am come to bid you good-by. You would not have me stay! It is better for us to part."

I can not chronicle the precise words in which Miss Gwynne, as soon as she was satisfied that she was mistress, and not guest, invited her cousin to stay. But he did stay. It was perhaps undignified in him; he had surely had warning. But he did stay. He staid some half a century longer; and there is no record in the family of his wife ever having flown in a rage with her lord.

When Mr. Deeds had driven over from Minchester he had brought over the draft of a will, unsigned, leaving the whole estate to Elizabeth. So he had been ordered; but he strongly deprecated the notion of the Squire's disinheriting his son for what he termed the errors of youth. He had some stormy discussion with his client, and at last left the house, leaving the will yet unsigned, and declaring that, if Mr. Gwynne was determined, some other lawyer must be employed to do the work. The Squire immediately signed the will that was afterward burned, and Harry's was the only evidence that could secure the property to his cousin.

Before, however, any difficulty could arise as to the succession, news arrived at Gwynne that Horace had been killed in a duel. He had married a French lady, who bore him no children, and who, at his death, came to reside in London, and was said to have made a great impression at Carlton House.


WE devote pages 161, 168, and 169 to illustrations of the negroes as soldiers. So much ignorant prejudice is still entertained in many parts of the North to the employment of colored troops that it is due to the country that the capacity of the negro to drill and fight can not be too strongly insisted upon.

The picture on page 161 represents the negro learning the use of the Minie rifle. The drill masters in the Department of the South report that the negroes in the South Carolina regiments evince great aptitude at learning the manual of arms. They are more docile than white recruits, and when once they have mastered a movement they retain the knowledge perfectly. Similar testimony is borne by officers in the West. One of them predicts that with proper drill and training the negroes will be the steadiest rank and file in the world.

With regard to their fighting qualities we can not do better than reproduce the following extracts. The first is from a letter to the New York Times, describing the battle, or rather the skirmish of Island Mounds, where a detachment of the First Kansas Colored Volunteers attacked and routed a band of rebels. He says:

The detachment under Gardner was attacked by the foe, who swept down like a whirlwind upon it. One volley was fired in concert, which emptied several saddles, and then this devoted body was separated by the force of that sweeping charge. The fight thus became a hand to hand encounter of one man to six. The rebels were mostly armed with shot-guns, revolvers, and sabres, our men with the Austrian rifle and sabre-bayonet. The latter is a fearful weapon, and did terrible execution in the hands of the muscular blacks. Six-Killer, the leader of the Cherokee negroes, fell with six wounds after shooting two men, bayoneting a third, and laying a fourth hors du combat with the butt of his gun. Another one, badly wounded, Sergeant Ed. Lowrey, was attacked by three men; he had discharged his rifle, and had no time to load again, when they fell upon him with revolver and sabre. He was then badly hurt with a shot-gun wound. One man demanded his surrender, to which the reply was a stunning blow from the butt of the rifle, knocking him off his horse. The negro, when approached, had his sabre-bayonet in hand, about to fix it on his gun. The prostrate man got a crashing blow from it on the skull as he fell, and then, as the other charged, the bayonet was used with effect on the nearest horse, and the butt of the gun on the next man.

Captain Crew, retaining his position at the head of the few men who keep together, retreated with his face to the enemy, firing his revolver as he did so. He fell with a terrible wound in the groin, but again rose and retreated. Surrounded by half a dozen of the foe, he was ordered to surrender. "Never!" he shouted, at the same time calling to the half dozen negroes around him to die rather than give up. He then fell dead with a bullet in his heart. His body was instantly rifled of revolver and watch, though his purse was not found. Five minutes afterward the rebel who took the watch was killed by one of the negroes, who again took the watch from him and brought it into camp.

So ended the battle of Island Mounds, which, though

commenced through the rash and impetuous daring of the officers, yet, under most unfavorable circumstances, resulted in a complete victory to the negro regiment.

What I narrate I saw myself, and having witnessed several engagements since this rebellion commenced, I know what fighting amounts to.   H.

The other extract is from the official report of Colonel Higginson of the First South Carolina Volunteers (colored), describing an expedition into the interior undertaken by him:

ON BOARD STEAMER "BEN DEFORD," Sunday, Feb. 1, 1863. Brigadier-General Saxton, Military Governor, etc.:

GENERAL,—I have the honor to report the safe return of the expedition under my command, consisting of 462 officers and men of the First Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers, who left Beaufort on January 23, on board the steamers John Adams, Planter, and Ben Deford. The expedition has carried the regimental flag and the President's Proclamation far into the interior of Georgia and Florida. The men have been repeatedly under fire; have had infantry, cavalry, and even artillery arranged against them, and have, in every instance, come off not only with unblemished honor, but with undisputed triumph. At Township, Florida, a detachment of the expedition fought a cavalry company which met us unexpectedly on a midnight march through pine woods, and which completely surrounded us. They were beaten off with a loss on our part of one man killed and seven wounded, while the opposing party admits twelve men killed (including Lieutenant Jones, in command of the company), besides many wounded. So complete was our victory that the enemy scattered, hid in the woods all night, not returning to his camp, which was five miles distant, until noon next day—a fact which was unfortunately unknown until too late to follow up our advantage. Had I listened to the urgent appeals of my men, and pressed the flying enemy, we could have destroyed his camp; but in view of the darkness, his uncertain numbers, and swifter motions, with your injuuctions of caution, I judged it better to rest satisfied with the victory already gained.

Nobody knows any thing about these men who has not seen them in battle. I find that I myself knew nothing. There is a fiery energy about them beyond any thing of which I have ever read, unless it be the French Zouaves. It requires the strictest discipline to hold them in hand. During our first attack on the river, before I got them all penned below, they crowded at the open ends of the steamer, loading and firing with inconceivable rapidity, and shouting to each other, "Never give it up!"


WE publish on page 173 a portrait of the rebel General ROBERT E. LEE, commanding the rebel army on the Rappahannock. It is from a drawing recently made by Mr. Vizetelly, the correspondent of the London Illustrated News, and, as will be seen, differs very materially from the portraits which are current at the North, which are taken from old photographs made before the war.

Robert E. Lee was born in Virginia about the year 1808. He entered West Point, where he received the usual military education at the cost of the Government of the United States. He graduated honorably in 1829, and received an appointment as Second Lieutenant of Engineers. For eighteen years he served in the army, drawing the usual pay from the Government, and rising to the rank of Major and Lieutenant-Colonel of Cavalry. In the Mexican war he was further honored by a brevet of Colonel, and on the appointment of Albert S. Johnston to the command of the Utah expedition, Lee succeeded him in command of the Second Cavalry. After filling this honorable and agreeable post in the military service of his country for several years, he crowned his career by deserting his flag at the moment of his country's sorest need. When the Richmond politicians passed what they called an Ordinance of Secession, Robert E. Lee threw up his commission, and accepted the rank of General in the rebel army.

In Mexico Lee had been Chief of General Scott's Staff, and won high praise for his skill. It was a common remark in our army, before the war, that "Bob Lee" was the ablest strategist we had. His first performances in the rebel army did not confirm his reputation: he was eclipsed for a time by both Beauregard and Johnston. After the latter was wounded, however, at Fair Oaks, Lee took the whole command of the rebel army in Virginia, and directed its operations during the seven days' battles before Richmond. He likewise led the rebels into Maryland, and commanded them at Antietam, and subsequently at Fredericksburg. At present he stands very high in their esteem.


WE publish on page 173 a portrait of the famous rebel General Thomas JEFFERSON JACKSON, better known as Stonewall Jackson, from a recent drawing by Mr. Vizetelly of the London Illustrated Noes.

Thomas J. Jackson was born in Virginia about the year 1825, and is consequently about thirty-nine years of age. He graduated at West Point in 1846, and in the following year accompanied Magruder's battery to Mexico. At Contreras and Churubusco he distinguished himself so highly on the field that he was brevetted Captain for gallantry. At Chapultepec he again won laurels, and was brevetted Major for gallant and meritorious conduct. On his return from Mexico he was for some time in command at Fort Hamilton; but in 1842 he resigned his rank. At the outbreak of the rebellion Major Jackson was one of those Southerners who were greatly embarrassed to discover the true line of their duty. He had married a Northern wife, was an honorable and conscientious man, and long hesitated what course to pursue. It is stated that his father-in-law, a Northern clergyman, visited him, and urged him to remain faithful to his country and his flag. They spent several hours in prayer together, and Jackson confessed that the struggle was sore. But finally the pernicious doctrine of State Rights, which Jackson, like so many other gallant Southrons, had imbibed early in life, won the day: "I must go with Virginia!" he cried, and plunged headlong into the vortex of treason.

As a rebel officer he has been energetic, lucky, and skillful. At Bull Run he won his cognomen of "Stonewall" by promising Beauregard that his brigade should stand like a stone-wall before the enemy; the promise was kept. He fought Shields (Next Page)




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