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Civil War Harper's Weekly, March 28, 1863

Welcome to our online collection of Harper's Weekly newspapers. These papers were published during the Civil War, and this archive is now available for your perusal and study. These old papers give new insight about this important conflict.

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




Mother's Letter

A Mother's Letter


Copperhead Meetings

Union Jim

Union Jim


The Indianola Affair

Charleston Map

Map of Charleston


Yazoo Pass

George Griswold

George Griswold


Wyndham's Cavalry

Wyndham's Cavalry

Destruction of the Nashville

Destruction of the "Nashville"

Bowery Boys

Bowery Boys





MARCH 28, 1863.]




JACOB H was a nice young man, who, on receiving his appointment as Lieutenant, devoted both time and thought to the proper development and cultivation of his mustache. I do not know that he was quite so particular about his regimental duties; and there were some awkward whispers about the disappearance of the standard which he bore in going into an action, but which he certainly did not carry out of it. He said, however, that it had been shot away, and there was nobody who could positively contradict the assertion; so he remained in the regiment, and at the appointed times went out on his appointed duties.

While the army lay before Fredericksburg, in the early part of December, the cavalry of the Left Grand Division picketed the country from Dumfries toward the Rappahannock. The line had been marked out by a staff-officer, whose judgment in such matters was very questionable, and only the most incessant watchfulness could secure the advance posts from surprise and capture. A multitude of woodland roads diverged in every direction, so that cavalry forces could easily get into the rear of the posts. The only thing was to be ready to take advantage of the same intricacy to escape and give the alarm. Every man must be alert to mount and fight and retreat at a moment's notice. Weapons must be at hand, and girths kept tight enough for service; for, surrounded by well-wishers to the rebellion, we had to contend against our ignorance of the rebel motions, while they were kept continually acquainted with ours.

Under these circumstances Lieutenant H,
with sixteen men, was posted on the road leading from Stafford to Dumfries; his Captain, with even a smaller party, taking a position to support him. Now there happened to live on that road, close to picket head-quarters, a certain Mrs. C, the wife of a captain in the rebel artillery. This lady was young, and attractive enough to poor fellows in the army, cut off from all the charms of feminine society during most of the time. Then she was by necessity "a grass widow," and by inclination appeared ready to assume all the privileges of actual widowhood.

So, like a spider waiting for prey, she dwelt there in her house, watching the movements of our men.

Presently Jacob, who had been loitering round, thought that he had better see who lived in the house, and came gallantly up the hill. Mrs. C was all smiles and courtesy. She did not deny that she was Southern in heart. Her husband was in the Southern army, and she thought that he was right in being there. But it was hard for a poor lonely woman; and our soldiers were so rude. She would feel so much obliged if Lieutenant H would protect her. She would be very happy if he could take his meals at her house, for then the men would feel that they must not disturb her; and she was sure that a gentleman of Lieutenant H's appearance and manners would see that no harm was done. The poor foolish fly thought the spider a very charming creature, and could not see the web into which he was blundering. He accepted the invitation most cordially, thinking that he must certainly have produced an impression. With an air of hospitality, Mrs. C then ordered her horse to be saddled, telling H that she would go at once to a neighbor's and provide a pair of chickens for dinner, her own having been all stolen. H had already arrived at that point when he could see no objection to any thing which she proposed; and in the mean time he kept up an animated conversation, saying many tender things, and casting many enamored glances at his hostess. Of course he tangled himself more and more in the web, letting her find out just what she wished to know. She need not be afraid. She would not meet any of our troops. His were the only ones in that neighborhood, and his pickets were placed in such and such directions. So she rode off, and he returned to his post. While he was away his men, as will always be the case when an officer is not attentive, had removed their weapons, and some had even taken off their saddles. H's mind was too much engaged in thinking about the lady to take notice of things relating to his duty, and when his Captain rode up to visit the post he found every thing in this careless state. H forthwith received a stern reprimand, and a peremptory order to see that his men kept armed and their horses were saddled. For this time he obeyed the order; but by the time two reliefs had gone round all was again in the same condition.

What Mrs. C had been doing may easily be conjectured. She had only to take a short ride to her neighbor's, get the chickens, let fall information of our disposition, and return home as innocently as could be. The chickens had not been picked, however, before a clever negro was making his way with a note to the advance post of General Hampton. The chickens were very tender, the lady tenderer, the Lieutenant tenderest of all. He sat for some time after dinner, describing his military career, his hopes and disappointments, meeting with a delicate sympathy which he had never before received. When they parted it was only to be till tea-time, when the lady promised him some music. And now I am afraid that Jacob, even if he had had brains enough to think of his responsibilities, would have run the risk of capture in order to enjoy the society of a lady who evidently appreciated his excellent qualities far better than the vulgar souls with whom he associated in the regiment. He had met with a congenial spirit, and he looked forward with delight to his three days of picket duty, from which he was generally inclined to hang back. He went over in thought all that he had said, and all that she had replied, and constructed an imaginary conversation for the evening which would be still more delightful. He wondered what songs she would sing, and thought of the comments he could subjoin to the most sentimental. In short, without knowing it, poor Jacob

was already in love. The fly had got fatally entangled in the web.

As he walked up to supper an old colored woman met him at the door.

"Oh, Massa!" she whispered, "don't go in dar. Our sodgers come and cotch you, shu'!"

"What is that silly creature saying?" said her mistress, who had slipped out and overheard her speech. "She is always fancying the Southern troops are coming to fight you, ever since she was scared at Dumfries some time ago. I have been waiting for you, and it is very ungallant in you to prefer her conversation to mine!"

H hurried in, and was soon sipping coffee, and thinking it nectarthough it had come from his own haversack originally. The piano was then enlisted in the service, and Mrs. C was singing some of her sweetest songs with much expression. Suddenly she began to play a march with the full power of the instrument; and it was not until some minutes had passed by that H distinguished through the music the sound of the galloping of horse. Unfortunate Jacob! His sword was in the supper-room, where he had left it as he sat down. He rushed for it, and bearing it in his hand made for the door.

"I will trouble you for that!" said a manly voice; and Jacob had to render his weapon up to an officer in Confederate uniform who stood upon the threshold. Then, oh bitter mortification! he witnessed the charming Mrs. C rush from the parlor into this officer's arms; and he gnashed his teeth as several unmistakable kisses were given by those lips which had uttered such gentle sounds for him but a little while before! Could he believe his eyes and ears? She was actually laughing at him, joined by her husband!

"Take good care of him, Charlie!" she said. "You don't know how dangerous I found him!" And the aforesaid Charlie, bowing very low, thanked him in a tone of mock courtesy for the attention he had paid his wife; assuring him that he would repay it by carrying him on a little visit to his own camp. Poor Jacob could not find a word to reply. He was led off like a lamb; and, escorted by three hundred Southern cavalry, made his first reconnoissance of his own picket line. What was worse, on being exchanged he found that he had been summarily dismissed from service, with loss of all pay and allowances; and he has nothing now to do but to murmur at the injustice of the Government and the treachery of Southern women.


ON this page we present a MAP OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER FROM HELENA, ARKANSAS, TO NEW ORLEANS, and also the lateral navigable streams on which, by means of short cuts through the levees of the great river, our gun-boats and transports can pass through the Confederate territory from Yazoo Pass to Vicksburg, and from Providence, which is sixty miles above Vicksburg, to Atchafalaya Bay, an arm of the Gulf of Mexico, and thus be independent of the strong rebel positions of Vicksburg, Ellis Cliff, Fort Adams, and Port Hudson, until the 228 miles between the former and latter places (all now held of the 1090 miles which the Confederates once controlled) shall be opened to the uninterrupted navigation of Union vessels.

The navigation of these lateral rivers will give great military advantages to our armies, particularly that of the Yazoo, passing, as it does, through a very fertile region in the interior of Mississippi, also parallel to and not far distant from the Mississippi Central Railroad. By means of a short canal cut through the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, 8 miles below Helena and 3.26 miles from Cairo, and near where De Soto first stood on its bank, the waters of the river are let into Moon Lake, a beautiful sheet of clear water in the midst of forest trees. From this lake runs a rapid, crooked, and narrow stream, Yazoo Pass, uniting with the Coldwater River. This river, after a tortuous course of about 40 miles, empties into the Tallahatchee River, and this, about 50 miles farther south, unites with the Yallabusha River. These rivers together form the Yazooa river of fine navigable qualities, being deep, clear, and tranquil, and flowing through an extensive region of highly-productive cotton plantations. The only town of importance on its bank is Yazoo City, about 50 miles direct from Vicksburg. At the beginning of the rebellion the population of this town was over 3000, and upward of 100,000 bales of cotton were annually received here and sent by steamboats to New Orleans. The Yazoo River is the hiding-place for many of the rebel boats which have been driven from the Mississippi River. Haines's Bluff batteries command the navigation of this river a few miles above its entrance into the Father of Waters.

At Providence, on the west bank of the Mississippi River, 540 miles from Cairo and 450 from New Orleans, is a lake of the same name, the waters of which are several feet below the level of the river. From this lake the Bayou or River Tensas runs southwardly and enters the Washita or Ouchita River; this Washita about 50 miles farther south joins the Red River. The latter, a few miles below the junction, empties much of its waters into the Atchafalaya River. This river runs a devious course of about 200 miles, and empties most of its waters into a bay of the same name about 150 miles west of the mouths of the Mississippi. From Providence to the Gulf of Mexico, by this communication, it is a much shorter distance than by the course of the Mississippi River; and when the cut through the levee of the river at Providence is opened to the lake an immense volume of water will pour through, and not only deepen the channels of the Tensas and other rivers, but also flood an immense region of cotton plantations on the low flat banks of this new channel to the Gulf.

The fine dotted lines on the map show the main roads through the country represented, the heavier dotted lines the railroads.



Yazoo Pass




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