Battle of Chancellorsville


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, May 16, 1863

You are viewing part of our online archive of original Harper's Weekly newspapers. These newspapers are full of incredible pictures and reports on the Civil War. The collection serves as an excellent source of information on the war.

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Rappahannock Bridge

Rappahannock Bridge

Charity Grimes

Charity Grimes

Battle of Chancellorsville

Battle of Chancellorsville

Battle of Irish Bend

Fredericksburg Battle Map

Fredericksburg Map

President Lincoln Cartoon

President Lincoln Cartoon

Shelling Vicksburg

Shelling Vicksburg

Russell's Brigade

Russell's Brigade


Pontoon Bridges

Irish Bend

Battle of Irish Bend

Twelfth Massachusetts

Twelfth Massachusetts Regiment



MAY 16, 1863.]



(Previous Page) point was fully determined there could have been no other object in surrendering part of her but to appease the irritation of John Bull.

Under the circumstances, however, it is an unnecessary humiliation. If the Government is unable to maintain its rights let us forbid the capture of all prizes whatever, that we may not seem to add cowardice to impotence. But if we insist upon seizing suspicious vessels under the British flag, let us settle the question of ship and contents by the strictest letter of the law. The British dispatch concedes our right to stop a vessel in the situation of the Peterhof. Is there any thing in the present conduct of the British Government toward us which should induce us to wear even the appearance of obsequiousness? There can be no stronger friends of peace with England than we. But peace is secured by intelligent firmness when we are right, and swift apology and reparation when we are wrong, but never by shirking or timid deprecation. Diplomacy can be heroic as well as sagacious.


JOHN BULL, in his unhandsome effort to discover how not-to-do-it, in his "neutrality" between this Government and the rebels, succeeds in doing some things that are a burning and an eternal disgrace. Captain Glover, of the bark Lysander, arrives in Boston, having been chased by a pirate and driven her off. He reports that off Colorado Reef, on the 10th of April, he saw a vessel on fire, but "being afraid of pirates, stood away." Captain Glover can not be blamed. The "Mistress of the Seas," as John Bull delights to call himself, having sent out pirates upon the ocean, which are built and manned in his ports, which sail under his flag, and are armed by his connivance, which enter no harbors but his own, and burn the ships of a nation with which John has treaties of commerce and amity, is directly responsible for the desolation and death and terror which ensue. If the vessel which Captain Glover saw were an innocent British vessel—if ship, cargo, crew, and passengers were lost—if every other ship, in mere self-defense, "stood away" and left them to their agony, it is the British Government which is responsible before God for the tragedy. That Government has taken pirates under its protection. Those pirates mark their course with the flames of their captures. The British Government has made a burning ship upon the high seas no longer a summons of eager sympathy, but a ghastly warning of danger. It is a Government which no nation in the world loves, and which is rapidly extinguishing all individual respect in a sentiment of hatred for its falsity and contempt for its meanness.


JOHN ELLIOTT CAIRNES is one of our firmest and fastest friends in Great Britain. The service he has done this country is not second to that of John Bright, of John Stuart Mill, of Forster, of Richard Cobden, or of Goldwin Smith. He is Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Economy in Queen's College, Galway, and his work, The Slave Power, which has recently passed into a second and enlarged edition in England, is the most thorough and exhaustive treatise upon the subject, displaying, indeed, a very remarkable knowledge of our history in the chapters devoted to the political aspect of the question. The work has been republished by Carleton in this city. Not only in his book, but constantly in the columns of the Daily News, Professor Cairnes has fought the good fight for us, confounding several antagonists who under-took to defend the rebellion; and bringing the Saturday Review, in particular, to signal grief.

But Professor Cairnes's point of view is universal civilization, and not especially the permanence of the Union. The rebellion he considers to be the great anti-civilizing movement of history. It is barbarism in insurrection; barbarism turning suddenly and making a stand against the progress of the race. It must, therefore, in the interest of humanity, be subdued. At any cost it must be overthrown. If the power of the United States Government is inadequate to quell it, the rebellion must be suppressed by the combined force of all Christian and civilized powers. When that is achieved an entirely new question in his view arises; and that is, by what means shall the consequences that must follow the war be most promptly and permanently secured? He inclines to the opinion that we shall find it best to put a few rebel States out to cool before receiving them again into the Union. In other words, he thinks it will be wiser for us to undergo a little temporary disunion. But he holds this view only because he thinks that the cause of human liberty and national peace would be the gainers. The absurdity of secession, and the folly of yielding an inch until the fangs of the serpent are removed, are as clear to him as to any body. His difference is upon the question of establishing the Government anew.

But this Is a speculative difference which does not affect the value or the quality of his sympathy. Show him that it is better for the great interests of liberty and of this free country to maintain the Union after our victory, and he would be very willingly persuaded. That he does not see it and know it as we do comes from the fact that he is not an American. He does not understand the inevitable necessity of the Union, in the first place; nor, in the second, does he seem to perceive that to set off any number of States, even if it were but a single State, as a separate power, would be to surrender ourselves immediately to the mercy of every foreign nation with which the new power would create alliances. Few of our foreign friends seem fully to apprehend that the question for us is Union and liberty, or separation and anarchy, with consequent moral, social, and political ruin.

But for the treatment of its great theme no work is to be named before "The Slave Power" of Professor Cairnes.


THERE are no men among us so ineffably mean as the white men who stand sneering at the black men, "Pooh, pooh! they are made for slaves; we hate 'em!" There are no men more noble than the black men who, notwithstanding this maddening insult, which might justly drive them to join arms with their masters against us, have yet the perception that our cause is their cause, however we may try to conceal it. We lame them and blind them, and then sneer that they can neither walk nor see. We deprive them of every inspiring motive, of every word of sympathy, of every sign of respect and confidence, and then taunt their passivity. We cripple them, and then laugh because they do not run faster than we.

The time has at last come when they are to have a chance. The Mississippi River slaves, comprising those who have been sold from Virginia and the border because they had some sparks of manhood remaining, and those whose blood has been reinforced from the foreign slave-trade—these are men who will fight. We dare to say that they will not carve the skulls of their late masters into drinking-cups, nor their bones into trinkets: that they will not tie their captives to wild horses nor hang them to bleach in the sun: that they will strike their masters only in honest fight, and not as their masters have always struck them when they were utterly helpless. We don't believe they will paddle and pickle their late masters who are in rebellion, although those gentry have not hesitated to torture them when they were only guilty of a different complexion. We don't believe that they will draw them up in a line at night, hold lanterns to their faces, and shoot them one by one through the head, as the chivalry did to the negroes they captured upon the steamer Sam Getty at Sibley, Missouri. No, no; in every point of honorable warfare, of generosity, and humanity, we believe they will show themselves easily superior to their late masters: as easily as Robert Smalls has shown himself superior in simple patriotism, bravery, and manhood to Robert Toombs.


THE Lounger presents his compliments to "Annie," who asks if the song that was so popular with the English soldiers in the Crimea is not an old song, and is happy to say in reply that the melody is an old one, and that there is a song of the same name long popular in the south of Scotland. But the Crimean favorite is a new version written by a lady still living, whose name the Lounger does not recall. The old song is the following:

"Maxwelton banks are bonnie,

Where early fa's the dew;

Where me and Annie Laurie

Made up the promise true;

Made up the promise true,

And ne'er forget will I;

And for bonnie Annie Laurie

I'll lay me doun and die.


"She's backit like the peacock;

She's breastit like the swan;

She's jimp about the middle;

Her waist ye weel micht span;

Her waist ye weel micht span,

And she has a rolling eye;

And for bonnie Annie Laurie

I'll lay me doun and die."

It is supposed that these lines were written by Mr. Douglas, of Fingland, upon Anne, one of the four daughters of Sir Robert Laurie, who was created first baronet of Maxwelton, in 1685. The Lady Anne did not marry the poet, but became the wife of Mr. Fergusson of Craigdarrock. Maxwelton is a mansion in the valley of the Cairn in Dumfries-shire; and the old song was printed for the first time in Edinburgh, in 1824, in a small collection called a "Ballad Book," by Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe. The new song with the music is in Wood's "Songs of Scotland."


THE French General of the army invading Mexico is one of those whom Kinglake in his History of the Crimean War calls "the men of December." It was Forey who commanded the soldiers that surrounded the building in which the representatives assembled who refused to disperse. It was Forey who marched the representatives of France to prison. Upon Kinglake's pages he then disappears until he emerges at the battle of the Alma. The apparition is not brilliant. "General Forey, perhaps, had hoped," says Kinglake, "that in the presence of the enemy he might be able to cover over the mark which his reputation contracted on the 2d of December; on the day, when, along with Maupas's commissaries of police, he suffered himself to be publicly used as the assailant and the jailer of the unarmed Legislature of France; but if by chance this man shall be brought some day to his account, it will not be by an appeal to the Alma that he will be able to avert his punishment."


WHEN you see a dwarf you may take it for granted that his parents never made much of him.

On the day for renewing the license of the publicans in the West Riding of Yorkshire one of the magistrates said to an old woman, who kept a little ale-house, that he trusted she did not put any pernicious ingredients into her liquor; to which she replied, "There is naught pernicious put into our barrels but the exciseman's stick!"

Bach, the York comedian, was asked how he came to turn his coat twice. He replied, "That one good turn deserved another."

A poet was walking with M. de Talleyrand in the street, and at the same time reciting some of his own verses. Talleyrand perceiving at a short distance a man yawning, pointed him out to his friend, saying, "Not so loud; he hears you."

FORTUNATE IMPOSSIBILITY.—An Italian who was very poor, and very much addicted to play, used to apostrophize Fortune thus: "Treacherous Fortune, thou canst make me lose, but thou canst not make me pay."

Woman sews, and man reaps the advantage of it.

A waggish speculator, one of a numerous family in the world, recently said, "Five years ago I was not worth a penny in the world; now you see where I am, through my own exertions!" "Well, where are you?" "Why, a thousand pounds in debt!"

"I like that squint; it relieves the natural blackness of your face," said a caustic man to a dark lady. "Indeed!" quoth the lady, "what a pity, then, you do not squint!"

A party of gentlemen were taking supper at a country inn, and one of the guests found the poultry rather tough. After exercising his ingenuity to no effect in trying to dissect an old fowl, he turned to the waiter and asked,

"Have you any such thing as a powder-flask?"

"No, Sir, we have not; do you want one?"

"Why, yes. I think the shortest way would be to blow the fellow up."

A minister having walked through a village church-yard, and observed the indiscriminate praises bestowed upon the dead, wrote on the gate-post the following line. "Here lie the dead, and here the living lie!"

Upon a traveler telling General Doyle, an Irishman, that he had been where the bugs were so large and powerful that two of them would drain a man's blood in one night, the General wittily replied, "My good Sir, we have seen the animals in Ireland, but they are called humbugs."

A lady fell down in the street, when a man very civilly picked her up and said, gently,

"I hope, ma'am, you are none the worse."

"Well, indeed, I am just as little the better," she replied, quite savagely.

HOUSE TO HOUSE VISITATION.—NO one does it so regularly, so effectually, so perseveringly, so punctually as the tax-collector. The fellow seems to have quite a call for the business.

Here are two "little 'uns" which I heard "let off" tonight:

Who was the smallest man mentioned in the Bible?—Knee-high Miah (Nehemiah).

Of whom was it recorded that he had no father?— Joshua, the son of none (Nun).

A negro, undergoing an examination, when asked if his master was a Christian, replied, "No, Sir, he's a member of Congress."



A DISPATCH dated, "Army of the Potomac, Wednesday, May 6," says:

The Army of the Potomac has recrossed the Rappahannock at United States and Banks's Fords, and is marching back to the old camps along the Acquia Railroad.

Sedgwick was overwhelmed by numbers, and pressed hard on both front and rear, and was hardly able to make good his escape near Banks's Ford. Fredericksburg and the heights beyond have been reoccupied by the enemy, and the situation is substantially as it was previous to the advance.

Sedgwick has lost In killed and wounded about 5000 men. His artillery and trains were safely brought over on Monday night.

After fighting the severe battle of Sunday morning General Hooker continued to strengthen his lines, throwing up double lines of rifle-pits, and constructing abattis along the entire line of his camp. The enemy continued to make demonstrations along the works, driving in the pickets and delivering volleys of musketry at men most exposed.

The artillery was placed on the heights below United States Ford, in a position to command the crossing.

At daylight a spirited cannonading was heard for half an hour at Banks's Ford, which was an unsuccessful attempt to shell Sedgwick's line. At United States Ford the crossing was effected without loss.

On Tuesday the Sixth Corps of Hooker's army, recently engaged at Chancellorsville, also recrossed the river at United States Ford, and are marching back to Falmouth.

The retreat of Hooker's Army produced a great panic at Acquia, and every thing movable was placed on board the boats at the landing.

The order for retreat was a surprise, as it was believed to be the determination to march out and attack the enemy in the front.

The crossing was commenced at ten o'clock on Tuesday night. At three o'clock on Wednesday morning wagon and mule trains and the artillery had all passed, and the infantry was crossing on two bridges at U. S. Ford. Couch's corps was in the advance. The retreat was covered by the Fifth, Meade's corps.

Lee's sharp-shooters picked off the artillery horses and fired on any mounted officer seen behind the rifle-pits. Troops could be seen marching and communicating along the roads southeast from Chancellorsville. In all advantageous positions batteries were run out and vigorously used against Hooker's camp. As soon as counter guns were brought to bear on their flying batteries, they would disappear to show themselves in some new position.

The effect of a movement, strategically offensive, made tactically defensive, soon produced a damaging effect on the entire army. The question again was the safety of the Army of the Potomac. Consultations were had with corps commanders; the question of the possibility of retreat was discussed. This once broached, and the campaign was a failure.

It was decided that the enemy was too powerful to be resisted, and that Sedgwick's corps must be rejoined to the army, in order to make an offensive movement practicable.

Sedgwick having failed to join Hooker via the Fredericksburg and Gordonsville plank road, and being hard pressed he crossed the Rappahannock and saved his corps from annihilation. The experiment cost him some 6000 men. He inflicted, doubtless, a much greater injury on the enemy.

Sedgwick's repulse, added to the weak counsels of certain of his corps commanders, shook Hooker's confidence, and forgetting that he was the aggressor, and that less than half his command had withstood the attack of the full force of the enemy, he in one fatal moment gave the order to evacuate the strong position and his fortified camp, and to retreat across the Rappahannock at United States Ford.

A defeat could have been little worse. The army is not panic-stricken, but it is certainly greatly demoralized by this inglorious retreat.

There was no time from Friday morning till Monday night that Hooker could not have attacked and defeated Lee's army. There only lacked the ability to give the order.

On Monday morning at daylight the enemy shelled, from the heights below Scott's Dam, the trains of Hooker's army at United States Ford. This circumstance increased the fears of the commanding general, and the longer he delayed to push forward the less was he able to advance.

On Tuesday the order was given to retreat. New roads were cut. The trains and reserve artillery were sent back and the evacuation was commenced.

"The army is safe," with 10,000 fewer men in its ranks, and a much larger number unfit for duty. The heavy rain of Tuesday night and Wednesday, and the chilling atmosphere has severely impaired the health of the men, who were wholly without means of shelter. The tents were left behind, and many lost their knapsacks in battle.


On the morning of 30th April, General Sherman, with a fleet of transports, accompanied by gun-boats, passed up the Yazoo and made an attack on the rebel batteries. In the afternoon several more transports followed, with troops on board. It is reported that General Sherman landed precisely in the same place he did when he made the former attack. Cannonading and musketry were distinctly

heard at Young's Point that day, till long after nightfall. A gentleman who left New Carthage on 29th, states that a very heavy force of General Grant's army has been landed on the Mississippi side of the river eight miles above Grand Gulf, and that our gun-boats had been shelling the latter place for several days. A dispatch from the rebel General Pemberton to the War Department at Richmond, dated the 29th ult., at Jackson, Mississippi, also states that six gun-boats, averaging ten guns each, opened a terrific fire upon the rebel batteries at Grand Gulf, at seven o'clock that morning, and continued without intermission for six hours and a half, when they withdrew. He says that several boats were apparently damaged and one disabled, which was then lying on the Louisiana shore below.


A reconnoissance in large force was made by the army of General Peck on 3d from Suffolk, under Generals Getty and Harlan and Colonels Stevens and Dutton, for the purpose of ascertaining the position of the enemy on the south side of the Nansemond, and learning whether General Longstreet had withdrawn to aid General Lee. It resulted in a very serious and sharp encounter with the rebels, in which our troops did valiant service. The gallantry of the officers is described as magnificent. The enemy were driven into the woods in disorder, and on the following morning there were none of them to be found within twelve miles of Suffolk, except the wounded left behind. It would appear that they had commenced a retreat for the purpose of joining General Lee before the reconnoissance was made. They fled along the South Key road, and were hotly pursued on Monday by General Corcoran and the Irish Legion. He captured and sent back several prisoners. Our losses were small compared with the importance of the undertaking.


It Is said that the Ironsides was to cross the bar at Charleston on the 2d instant, and the Monitors on the 4th. This, if true, would indicate the commencement of a second attack on the forts in Charleston harbor.


According to rebel accounts, General Dodge has advanced eleven miles east of Tuscumbia. He had met the rebel General Forrest, and fighting was reported to be going on on the 29th ult. General Dodge was in possession of Courtland, Alabama, on the 25th. Jackson, Mississippi, dispatches represent General Grant at Union Church on the Natchez and Hazelhurst road arriving at Natchez.


General Banks has taken possession of Alexandria, Louisiana, a town situated near the head of navigation on the Red River, thus cutting off the rebel supplies by that water highway. An expedition to Pearl River, for the purpose of capturing several rebel steamers and schooners concealed there proved entirely successful. Since the occupation of the Attakapas country by our troop the people are flocking eagerly to take the oath of allegiance to the United States Government and claim the protection of its flag.


The Union forces under General Mulligan were repulsed by a body of twelve thousand rebels, near Fairmont, in Western Virginia, on 1st May. They destroyed the bridges on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad at Cheat River and Fairmont, and five others. General Mulligan lost two hundred and fifty men taken prisoners, but got all his artillery off in safety.

Morgantown was occupied by the rebels in large force, and considerable depredations committed in that locality. On 2d General Mulligan was joined by General Kenley with reinforcements, at Grafton.


The brig Leonidas, from St. Domingo March 28, has arrived at New Bedford, and reports that she was chased into St. Domingo by the rebel pirate Retribution. The captain states positively that the United States steamer Alabama came down and captured the Retribution, and when last seen had her safe in port at St. Domingo.


The arrest of the Hon. Clement L. Vallandigham, at Dayton, Ohio, by a posse of soldiers sent from Cincinnati on 5th for that purpose, has created considerable excitement in both cities. A stubborn resistance was made at Mr. Vallandighane's house before his person was secured. The fire bells were then rung and an attempt was made by his friends to rescue him, but without success. He was carried off to Cincinnati. An immense mob then assembled in Dayton, cut the telegraph wires, and set fire to the office of the Journal, a radical paper. The telegraph office was closed for fear of an attack by the people. The charges against Mr. Vallandigham are not stated.




MR. ADAMS, United States Minister in London, has given a special written license to a vessel to carry a cargo to the port of Matamoros. The license was in the shape of a letter addressed to Admiral Du Pont, guaranteeing the character of the cargo, so that she might pass the Union cruisers. This certificate was granted at the instance of Messrs. Howell and Zerman—an American and Mexican—contractors, who found some difficulty in obtaining an insurance on the cargo. Mr. Adams's letter was made public, and its contents created quite an excited and irritable state of feeling in England against the United States. A deputation of British merchants and shippers engaged in the Mexican trade had mentioned the matter in an address to Earl Russell, who professed to be mightily disturbed by the fact. The London Times bellows as usual.


The Anglo-rebel gun-boat Alexandra has been "exchequered" at Liverpool, and it is stated that the Government contemplate legal proceedings against the builders.



The notes forwarded by England, France, and Austria to the Court of St. Petersburg, on the subject of tbe Polish revolution, have been presented to the Czar, and caused a "sensation" in the Russian Cabinet. The Czar had not yet published his reply. In the mean time the Swedish Government was making considerable armaments. iron-clad ships had been ordered, and engineers were actively engaged in fortifying the port of Cariscrona, the chief dock-yard of the Swedish navy, which is to be rendered capable of refitting not only the Swedish men-of-war but also "the squadrons of those Powers whose interest it might be to station a naval force in those waters." Prussia adhered to her leaning toward Russia. The Russian amnesty was published at Warsaw, and found less comprehensive than it had been represented, as the leaders of the insurrection are excluded from its benefits. It had not induced a single insurgent to lay down his arms, and engagements continued between the Russians and the Poles with varying fortunes.



The latest news from Mexico shows that, with all their tremendous exertions, the French army of invaders are not yet in possession of the city of Puebla. Up to the 10th of April the struggle for the possession of that city was going on warmly on both sides, and while the French, with their superior artillery and small-arms, were slowly advancing, the undisciplined Mexicans were heroically disputing with their invaders the possession of every inch of their independent territory. The French accounts tardily acknowledge that "the Mexicans were fighting with valor and resolution." The two strongest fortresses of Puebla were still holding out at last accounts, though General Forey writes to the Emperor, with all confidence, that he expects to reduce the place and occupy the city.




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