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Civil War Harper's Weekly, March 21, 1863

This site features all the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. This collection serves as an invaluable research tool for the serious student of the Civil War, and offers a new perspective on the key elements of the conflict.

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


Union Meeting

Union Meeting

Army Hospital

US Army Hospital

Nashville Destroyed

Destruction of the Nashville

Lake Providence

Lake Providence

New Orleans Levee

Repairing the New Orleans Levee

Building Levee

Building the New Orleans Levee

Gold Panic

Gold Panic


Rappahannock River Cartoon

Wall Street

Wall Street

The "Florda"

The Pirate "Florida" Destroys the Jacob Bell

Levee in New Orleans

Picture of the New Orleans Levee






[MARCH 21, 1863.


(Previous Page) purse, I agree that it makes him almost a dictator. I agree that it is a very great stretch of power.

Mr. Van Buren then went on to show that when the Boundary dispute arose, in 1839, Congress conferred upon the President precisely similar powers to those which have lately been placed in Mr. Lincoln's hands. He spoke of the passage of the bill (in 1839) as follows:

Now how do you suppose that bill passed? It put the whole purse and sword into the absolute power of the President of the United States. Clay, Webster, and Calhoun— men perhaps inferior to the solons of our day [Laughter]—were members of the Senate. The bill passed the Senate, and these three statesmen—although all violently opposed personally and politically to the then President of the United States—voted for the bill, and it passed the Senate unanimously. [Applause.] It passed the House of Representatives, after a full discussion, by a vote of 201 to 6, and the leader of that six was Henry A. Wise [Hisses], the bold Brigadier who distinguished himself so greatly at Naggs Head [Laughter] while his brigade was fighting and his son dying. [Applause.]


Now, gentlemen, there is nothing in my humble judgment, therefore, in the law passed putting this enormous power in the possession of the President of the United States to deter me for asserting in a vigorous prosecution of the war. [Cheers.] I can very well understand how, if I sympathize with the rebellion—if I deemed that this war should fail—I could spend hours and columns in picking flaws in this act. But if I believed that substantial justice required that the great ends of prosecuting the war demand that this whole power of the Government shall be lodged by the Congress of the United States in the President of the United States, I would bow in silence to the act whether I approved of it or not. [Prolonged cheers.] If the President of the United States had usurped these powers there might be a degree of propriety in denouncing it; but when the representatives of the people, legally elected, after due deliberation, assume the responsibility of lodging these trusts in him, in my humble judgment, and certainly in view of the precedent to which I have referred, no wise man will ever complain of the act. [Applause.]


He concludes as follows:

Gentlemen, we must depend upon ourselves, if we can fight this battle to victory, we shall—if we can not, we shall be defeated. But beyond all earthly considerations we must unite—that is our highest consideration—and being united I have no doubt about the result. I do not look forward to a long war—a great many people do. It is not the habit of modern times to have long wars. The great improvement in the engines of destruction enable nations to bring war rapidly to a close. The Russian campaign was not long; the Italian campaign was a short one, and in my judgment the war will be a short one if we are united and put forward the whole power of the loyal States of this Union. With our immense population and resources we ought to end this war in ninety days. Start your troops in New Orleans, at Vicksburg, at Charleston, and in Tennessee. Charge along the whole line—advance with energy and will—Union—and my word for it, in ninety days every body will wonder that this rebellion was ever regarded as formidable in any portion of the United States. [Prolonged cheers.]

Mr. Brady was equally decided. After referring to his position as the descendant of an Irishman, and an American citizen, he went on to say:


That grave of mine, however unnamed or unnoticed, I want to be distinguished by some lingering of affection in some heart that cleaves to the recollection of him who once was an American, whose country was the United States of America. [Loud cheers.] That is my country, and I can admit of no other. There is no name to be substituted for that; there is no flag except ours that I can ever accept. No stripes to be stolen from it, but stars to be added to it without number, I agree—[Cheers]—stripes to be accumulated till the eyes tire with looking at them. But all the while the gallant history of its past and the glorious associations of its present—however gloomy the prospect may appear to many—is that this shall be for us, now and hereafter, one country, one constitution, and one destiny. [Tremendous applause.] A friend this evening read to me from the Express—[A terrific burst of hooting, yelling, and hissing followed the reference to the Express.] You may think, my friends, that I made this joke Express for this occasion—[Laughter]—that this was a meeting of abolitionists, and that Brady would not be present. [Great laughter and applause.] I am entirely not sure that I am —[Continued laughter]—for there is so much individuality, and spiritual power, and tendency to great results in this meeting, charged with patriotism and devotion to country that I grow like nothing in this majestic presence. [Applause.] But, so far as I am capable of knowing myself, I am here with delight—[Applause]—here with pride [Continued applause]. And although from the very first time I ever made a speech in public to the time when now I address you, many of you being opposed to me, as I well understand, in the political sentiments that have affected the general question which has determined who should hold the highest offices in this republic—coming as I do from the ancestors of a land who have loved this country even better than their own, I care not whether fallacy or folly may attaint the mind of any man, or any number of men in this assembly, I thank God it is permitted to me to be present on an occasion when any human being would attach importance to my voice that I have wedded myself, as I have ever done, to the preservation of the Union and the Constitution. [Applause and three cheers.] I accept the name of Yankee applied to me. I accept it in the spirit of our forefathers of the revolutionary period, and if there can be found no more of disgrace to be attached to it than its undying struggle for the preservation of this Government, whether slavery exists or falls, I thank God for it. [Great applause and cries of "That's good!"]


When this war broke out, I knew that it was urged on by the South. I hoped it might terminate soon. I detected that they had prepared an attack. When they proposed to take Sumter and other forts, I thought it necessary for the National dignity to retain these fortresses. They inform us that they will make no compact on any terms. I spit on the Northern man who takes any position except for the Union. [Tremendous enthusiasm, the whole audience rising and cheering.] I surrender all party considerations, all thought of who is to be Governor or Mayor. America is the hope of patriotic and oppressed people every where. I invoke curses on the heart and hand of any man who would destroy this refuge for the oppressed. [Cheers.]


I was beset by a gentleman for whom I have a great respect, who wondered whether I would speak to-night at a meeting where gentlemen always opposed to us in politics would be present, and where, perhaps, a spirit of freedom stronger than ever entered our nature might be exhibited. I differ with many of you with regard to the cause and conduct, prosecution and probable result of the war in which we are engaged. But, with the blessing of Heaven, however others may applaud, however censure me, I would be false to the Irish race from whence I sprung, who found here a home and a refuge from the persecution and oppression of that detested land to which the first speaker referred, if I did not use my first and last breath, and employ the last quiver of my lips and utterance of words in praying Heaven for the preservation of the American Government and country. I shall not mention the name, but I will say that he did not belong to this State.


You ask me how this thing is to end? You propose, gentlemen of the South, that there shall be two governments on this soil, armed governments, striving with each other in the presence of the great lessons of history, with which every school-boy is acquainted. I refer you to the Federalist, to the articles of Alexander Hamilton, in regard

to the possibility of maintaining separate organizations of government upon this continent. And now, gentlemen, in conclusion, I propose to answer that question to my Southern friends—what will come of this war? You say that you will never consent to be united with us. We say that we will never agree to the existence of two military governments arising out of the same people on the same territory. The issue is distinct. How is this thing to be resolved? I will tell you my prophecy, and yet there are many here who will differ in opinion with me. I remember, on an occasion when we celebrated St. Patrick's Day, where we often made punch for others and Judys of ourselves, General Shields—whose name is honorable—made this remark, "That wherever the Yankee located a blacksmith's shop, a tavern, or school-house, he never was known to recede from it." Mr. Brady spoke in humorous terms of the Yankee out West who cooked slapjacks by the regular tick of the Yankee clock. Now I tell my Southern friends, continued Mr. Brady, from the place which I occupy in regard to their property and their institution which they call slavery—which, unlike many in this assemblage, I would propose to retain for them under the Constitution of the United States—that their only chance is to let that Constitution be their guide; for if these Yankees once get down into that Southern territory (who have a theory about this war), and put arms into the hands of the negroes, and put their long feet on the tables of the estates of which they took possession, I don't want to be the lawyer employed in an action of ejectment. [Great laughter and applause.] I sincerely believe that unless the gentlemen of the South will manifest some lingering remnant of attachment to this Union, and agree that the Constitution of the United States shall still preserve us as one people in the territory that we occupy, the end of this war will be occupation.




THOUGH no victories have been achieved since we last wrote, very few weeks have been more pregnant with encouragement than the one which ended on March 7.

In the first place, Congress has adjourned after conferring upon the Government such powers in regard to men and money that there can be no fear of our failure through the weakness of the Government, the want of means, or the want of men. Mr. Lincoln is provided with money enough to carry on the war at least for a year on its present scale. And the Conscription Act will enable him to keep our armies up to their present figure of a million of men, to say nothing of negroes. For this blessing our thanks are heartily due.

Again, the abominable speculation in gold, which threatened a collapse of the national finances at the most critical period of the war, has itself collapsed, and the wretched gamblers who were fattening on the public ruin have lost at least a part of their ill-gotten gains. The fall in gold not only elevates the national currency nearer to the par standard, and so renders Mr. Chase's future policy simple and easy, but it will serve as a warning to the South that the North have not lost confidence in their cause or their Government, and to Europe that the financial crash so long and so confidently predicted and hoped for by the London Times and other aristocratic organs is again indefinitely postponed.

Lastly, the greatest of all dangers that were to be feared—the division of the North—has been, we think, absolutely removed and set at rest. At the great Union Meeting held in this city on 6th inst., John Van Buren, and James T. Brady, who are better entitled to be considered the true leaders of the Democracy in this State than any other two men who can be named, pledged the Democratic party to the support of the Government and the war, and gave in their adhesion to the recent legislation of Congress. Similar action has been and is being taken by the Democracy of other States, and at the time we write there is every reason to hope that the Copperhead faction is reduced to a corporal's guard of factious malignants.

Here is good ground for rejoicing and encouragement. Now let our troops do their part!



To describe a building by the acre would be thought rather extravagant even for a Yankee; but it would be literally proper for the Lounger to do so in speaking of the United States Army General Hospital at West Philadelphia. It is a range of connected buildings covering thirteen acres, lying, by the road, about two miles beyond the Schuylkill. The hospital is under the charge of Dr. Hayes, the arctic explorer, and Dr. Billings, late director of the Cliffburne Hospital at Georgetown, and is one of thirty-five in different parts of the country.

The way to it is up the broad avenue called West Philadelphia, in the horse-cars that you take in Market Street. You can see the Fairmount Water-Works as you cross the bridge, and you may look hard for the long white roof of the Girard College, the two pieces de resistance of Philadelphia—not that whiteness is peculiar to that building. It is only peculiar to the city, and symbolical of the brotherly love which prevails there, from which it takes its name. Leaving the car at about Fortieth Street, you ascend the hill at the side toward a grove that in summer must be most pleasant, and in which, as you approach, you see the wooden buildings of the hospital, which are really beyond the grove. The wooded hill and the gently undulating country are characteristic of Pennsylvania scenery, and the soldiers that pass as you advance indicate a camp or a hospital.

If I describe the route thither, it is not to make the way easy for the careless or the impertinent.

No man or woman. should visit a hospital of any kind who does not bring a thoughtful mind, a ready eye, a sympathetic heart, and a quiet foot. A hospital is not a club, nor a spectacle, nor a menagerie. There are people, both men and women, who succeed in entering this hospital and others, who stare, and chatter, and interfere, and insult, until nothing but the courtesy and Christian forbearance of the director prevents his ordering a file of the guard to march them off at the double-quick to the river. A favorite criticism of women who visit military hospitals is the inhumanity of the discipline, and an amusing story is current in the corridors of the West Philadelphia Hospital of an apparently well-dressed and decent woman who stopped before a soldier undergoing the penalty of drunkenness. He was tied by the arms, and a placard upon his breast announced him "a drunkard." The tender soul of the woman was touched, and she expressed her opinion of the discipline in the most violent terms. It was not consistent with good order, of course, that such censure of official acts should be recklessly made, and the guard politely told her that he had orders not to suffer such talk. Upon which the apparent lady wheeled upon him suddenly, and roared out, "You go to h—!" which is not a part of the hospital. The soldier only proved that he was a gentleman, and the well-dressed woman that she was no lady.

The regular female nurses in this hospital are Sisters of Charity, who are trained to the service of the sick. They move noiselessly about in their plain garb and stiff, white-winged caps. No breath of slander stains them. The surgeon said that he had never heard an injurious whisper about them. There is a little room at the entrance of each ward for the sister in charge. As they glide by the vision of Evangeline follows them:

"Thither, by night and by day, came the Sister of Mercy. The dying

Looked up into her face, and thought, indeed, to behold there

Gleams of celestial light encircle her forehead with splendor,

Such as the artist paints o'er the brows of saints and apostles."

The dress of every sister stands for a quiet moral heroism of the finest quality, whether it actually exist under it or not. To devote one's self for life to the care of the sick and the dying, without fame or great reward, and with only the consciousness of simple duty done, is a kind of heroism which all who work in the way that seems most agreeable, and for the highest attainable rewards of fame, position, or money, can not well understand.

It is not possible to describe such a vast hospital as this very intelligibly. Yet you may have some idea of it, if you fancy a letter H with very long sides and narrow cross-piece. The cross-piece is the building where the offices and rooms of the direction and surgical staff are situated. The two sides are the corridors, each nine hundred feet in length, well lighted, well warmed, perfectly cheerful and clean and pleasant, with the long mess-table running down the whole length. The commons, or rations, are upon a generous scale, for the hospital, fully filled and officered, would contain between thirty-five hundred and four thousand persons. The sick wards open out of the long corridors upon the outside. They have sixty or a hundred-and-twenty beds each. Each ward is a separate house with windows upon both sides, and the ventilation secured by opening slides along the entire ridge-pole or peak of the roof. At the further end of each ward are the bath-room and other water-works, in charge of an engineer section which secures perfect purity every where. The beds are comfortable, and the rooms airy and odorless. There were prints upon the walls—some I recognized from this paper—and the patients who remained in the wards sat about the stove silent or chatting. Not many in the wards that I saw were lying in bed; and it was not easy to remember that it was a huge sick camp, until we put our eyes and noses into the 'potecary's shop and saw and smelled the jars of drugs and the odor of mixing medicines. How happy would be the apothecary of any other village of thirteen acres and three or four thousand inhabitants, if he could do the business done in that shop. But it is only in an apothecary's paradise that all the inhabitants take pills and potions daily. Is it true that the profession have done their best to introduce that heaven on earth?

There was the guard-room into which we looked, like the spacious, light, airy quarters of marines upon some monstrum ingens of a man-of-war such as Gustave Dore would draw. There were the kitchens—the special kitchen for delicate soups and tender, transparent jellies, in which, with exquisite taste, the very evanescent spirit of life seems to lurk; and the great kitchens for cooking the daily rations, with vast boilers in which Behemoth himself might be boiled down into strong soup; and the clean, comely cisterns of milk in the milk-room; and then the laundry, and the store-room of dry stores—brooms, pails, clothing, drugs —the village "store," in fact, without the groceries; and the magazine of choice gifts from the benevolent. Every thing was in order—every thing neat, bright, and accessible. The machine was in full play, and worked so perfectly that you heard no creak, felt no jar, and smelled no oil. There was immense activity, but little apparent effort, and no visible friction. Was it because the main shaft, the practical directing mind in the little corner den of the executive office, was of such solid force and impulsion?

The reading-room of the hospital has been recently opened. It was full of quiet readers and lookers and players, for the room of games opens out of it, and there were grave adepts in chess, checkers, and dominoes. The observation of the literature most in request touched a tender cord. It was the illustrated paper; and I know not how many numbers of Harper's Weekly I saw in most active demand, and undergoing the most thorough inspection. At the end of the reading-room is a little room devoted to the library, from which the books are given out to the soldiers by ladies of the

vicinity and of Philadelphia, who gladly give the necessary time and care. But the hospital is not content to take only: it gives; and there is already a number three and four of the best Philadelphia Hospital Register, which is written by the patients mainly, set up and printed by them. It is an extremely pretty paper in form and aspect. Its vignette is properly the Good Samaritan, and its contents are various, cheerful, and excellent. I mean to introduce it more fully to the great fraternity of Loungers next week, perhaps; certainly very soon. Let this plaintive sigh from a sick soldier show that it lacks neither truth nor solemnity; and waft us for the present gently out of the hospital:

"mi bak is stif and sore

mi legs are thin and weke

and when i tri to wak about

i here mi ne pans kreke.

"and i want to be discharged

and get mi pa whats du

and ill give a green-back kwik

if i cud get put thru."


A QUIET man of the world, who frequents clubs and our best society, who is a diner out and lover of the Opera, a patriot who does not show it by sneering at the Government, and a gentleman who does not prove it by toadying people who sell babies, keeps a diary. He makes notes of what he sees and hears in these important days; and he permits the Lounger to extract from them what may with propriety be printed. The Lounger hopes, therefore, to enliven his columns occasionally with passages of general interest; and he begins to-day:

Dined at —'s. Plutus, a Fifth Avenue Democrat, sat opposite Cato, a Democrat of another school. Plutus chaffed Cato as no better than an Abolitionist. Cato smiled pleasantly, and quietly smoked. At last Plutus insisted that, to be consistent, Cato ought to marry his daughter to a Congo bridegroom.

"That doesn't seem to me to be the alternative," said Cato, smiling.

"Oh yes! oh yes! Let's have a little practice as well as preaching," retorted Plutus, winking at the rest of us.

"Stop a moment. You are a Democrat, I believe, Plutus?"

"Of course."

"A Jeffersonian Democrat, or a Jeffersonian-Davis Democrat?"

There was a little more smiling, and Plutus drank his wine.

"No matter," resumed Cato. "You have a coachman?"


"He is an Englishman?"


"He is an honest, industrious fellow?"


"And a voter?"


"And your political equal?"


"Why don't you marry your daughter to him?"

"They wouldn't be congenial."

"Do you have him to dinner?"


"Why not?"

"Because I choose my company."

"Yet you wouldn't want him to work for you without wages?"

"Certainly not."

"Nor sell him and his family to pay your debts? Nor separate them to settle your estate?"

"God forbid!"

"Nor, as he is intelligent and honest, would you wish to deprive him of his vote?"

"Not at all."

"Yet you don't with your daughter to marry him, and you don't have him to dinner?"

"No; why should I?"

"There's no reason in the world; and why should I?"

At —'s masquerade. The story has got into the papers. There was a Marquis of Hartington, an Englishman, among the company. A woman tempted. him, and he did wear a rebel badge. Did he mean to insult the host and the guests? Probably not. Didn't he know what he was doing? Of course he did, unless you suppose that he would have worn a Union badge at a party in Richmond. Then had he perhaps read Russell's Diary, and therefore supposed that the company were quite indifferent, if not positively favorable to the rebellion? If so, he was rapidly undeceived in one instance, at least. For a young officer of the army expressed his opinion of the Englishman's conduct in a very unmistakable manner. Doubtless, also, the host took occasion to rebuke the young man. For the host must know that if an American had dined at the house of an English gentleman while England was at war with a foreign or domestic enemy, and had worn at table the enemy's colors, he would not have left without a stern reproof from the master of the house. An English gentleman has at least self-respect, if he has no respect for other people.

As for the woman who insisted upon pinning on the badge, I suppose the host informed her that she had so grossly insulted his guests that she was no longer welcome, in his house. He could not have failed to make her understand that his friends, whose husbands, sons, brothers, and lovers were exposed to death in defending their country against an enemy which carves skulls into drinking-cups and bones into trinkets, did not perceive the joke or the innocency of wearing the colors of the murderers in their presence unrebuked.

Such disagreeable events come of assuming that because people are titled they are well-bred. One can not be too careful in choosing his company.

Supped at —'s with the new Haytien Minister, Colonel Ernest Roumaine, and his Secretary, Dr. Bruno. The Colonel is an extremely handsome man in the Spanish style, and of the most pleasing and polished manners. He is intelligent and accomplished, speaking English with a singular purity and accuracy. His qualities of heroism, firmness, and force were fully shown at the time of Geffrard's accession. I am glad that Washington will have the opportunity of contrasting him with the Wigfall, and Slidell, and Toombs, and Mason school of gentlemen. Dr. Bruno, his secretary, was educated in Paris, and is a man of great sprightliness and information. I am sure that he finds the wonder that a man of his blood and color should be a gentleman infinitely amusing. The other day Plutus asked Cato, who was silting next to him, how he should feel if he sat next to a Haytien at dinner. "Feel!" answered Cato, "why, in their own country I have often sat between two of them, and if they were gentlemanly and intelligent, I felt exactly as I do at this moment. It is not the color of a man, it is his conduct, that makes him a




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