General Stoneman Biography


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, May 23, 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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General Stoneman

General Stoneman

General Stoneman Biography

Lee's Order No. 59

Robert E. Lee's Order Number 59

Stars and Stripes

The Stars and Stripes

Chancellorsville Map

Chancellorsville Battle Map

Vicksburg Battle Map



Chancellrosville Battlefield

Chancellorsville Battlefield

Battle of Chancellorsville

Battle of Chancellorsville

Jackson at Chancellorsville

Stonewall Jackson's Attack At Chancellorsville

Fight at Chancellorsville

Fight at Chancellorsville

Fernando Wood

Fernando Wood





[MAY 23, 1863.




"CLEAR the way!" Columbia saith, "For a moment hold your breath, Freedom must be won by death!"


So they marched—the patriot train—

While the wounded and the slain

Lay in heaps like gathered grain.


Hooker foremost in the fray,

Holding the stern foe at bay—

Oh! it was a fearful day !

There brave Berry sunk to rest—

On the Sons of Freedom press'd,

Risking all at her behest:


Cherishing the precious thought,

As their toilsome way they fought—

"Thus must Liberty be bought!"


I protest, on bonded knee,

By their record that we see,

They have bought a victory.


By God's love of truth and right—

By their deeds done in His sight—

We were victors in that fight!


Ay—though tens of thousands slain

Lie in heaps on hill and plain—

Justice never fights in vain!


WE publish on the preceding page an equestrian portrait of GENERAL GEORGE STONEMAN, who commanded the cavalry on the recent raid round Lee's army.

George Stoneman was born in this State about the year 1826. He entered West Point in 1842, and, on graduating, was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the 1st Dragoons. He does not appear to have taken part in the Mexican war, but during the fifteen years of peace which ensued he acquired a high standing in his profession, and was deemed by his comrades an excellent cavalry officer. At the outbreak of the rebellion he was appointed, on 9th May, 1861, Major in the 4th Cavalry. In August of the same year, when McClellan undertook to create the Army of the Potomac, he was commissioned Brigadier-General, and took charge of a brigade. He was subsequently transferred to the cavalry arm of the service, and when the Army of the Potomac undertook the Peninsular Campaign he was appointed to the chief command of all its cavalry. His services during that campaign were conspicuous, and raised him high in public esteem. We believe that he went nearer to Richmond than any other man in the army. In the campaign in Maryland, and that under Burnside, he commanded a corps, giving continued satisfaction to the President and the people. He has just performed a feat which casts all the famous raids of the rebel Stuart into the shade. He has ridden round Lee's army, destroying their communications with Richmond, and some of his men have actually been within two miles of the rebel capital. The importance of this achievement will be discovered hereafter. Meanwhile it has raised Stoneman so high in public estimation that he has been mentioned for the supreme command of the Army of the Potomac.


SATURDAY, MAY 23, 1863.

"Scarcely any paper is doing so much for UNION and LIBERTY as Harper's Weekly."—Boston Commonwealth.


EVERY vessel which the east wind brings into port from Europe arrives freighted with human beings. Ships and steamers come up the bay with decks black with human forms, and bulwarks lined with human faces, eagerly gazing at the shores of the promised land. As they pass the busy ferry-boats plying to and fro, the exultation of the immigrants at their arrival in this country bursts forth in loud cheers and huzzas. Yet these people come, for the most part, from a country whose rulers have pronounced the United States to be mob-ridden, bankrupt, and moribund, and whose leading journals describe us as a race of sharpers, drifting toward ruin and perdition. They come in the face of taxes nearly as heavy for the time as those of Great Britain itself, and in spite of a Conscription Act as sweeping as that of France. They come with the perfect knowledge that we are engaged in a fearful, deadly war—a war with our own fellow-countrymen, and that they may be compelled very soon after their arrival to take part in the struggle as private soldiers.

The fact is eminently suggestive. It is clear that the first cause of the large increase of immigration this year is the high rate of wages paid to all classes of workmen. At the present time, in this meridian, mechanics command their own terms, and common laborers receive as large pay as skilled mechanics did formerly. Labor has increased in value more than any other article; and hence, notwithstanding the advance in the price of all articles of consumption, the operative class are saving more money at present than they ever did before. This is the principal secret of the large influx of immigrants from Europe.

But another cause, which, though its operation is less obvious and less direct than the one which we have described, is none the less powerful,

is the general consciousness throughout Europe, and especially throughout Great Britain, that the contest in which we are engaged is not merely a struggle between secession and Union, or between slavery and freedom, but is really the final decisive contest between free popular government on the one side, and government by an oligarchy or a monarch on the other. It is well understood by the democratic leaders in England—and they have so thoroughly explained the fact to the masses that no intelligent workman can remain ignorant—that our war is being waged to determine whether or no a democratic republican government can maintain itself against domestic insurrection. Half a century since the absolutists, and all the haters of liberty throughout the world, pointed to France as conclusive evidence that no republic could be stable, and predicted that a foreign war would be fatal to the United States. Two foreign wars have occurred since then, and each rather strengthened than weakened our country. Baffled on this point, the partisans of oligarchy and monarchy retreated, but did not succumb. Wait, they said, till domestic sedition shall arise and civil war break out in the United States, and then you will see how utterly incapable a republican government is to maintain itself, and how impossible it is for a great nation to preserve peace, law, and order without such stable institutions as a king or an aristocracy.

The event required has occurred. Civil dissensions have arisen, and war has actually broken out. For two years the partisans of privilege and the opponents of equal rights have fancied their visions were being realized. Because we did not crush the rebellion in sixty days, and because some six million people of our own race, kith, and kin, showed fight gallantly, and bore in patience sufferings unexampled in history, while we proceeded with our work steadily but very slowly, these enemies of human freedom, and these maligners of human capacity for self-government, have filled the world with their croaking over the failure of a republican form of government in the United States.

But they not only failed to dismay us—they have not even convinced their own people. In the humble dwellings of the operatives at Manchester, Leeds, Paisley, Glasgow, Rouen, and Lyons; among the peasantry of Ireland and Germany; in every assemblage of intelligent working people in Europe, the lying taunts of the aristocracy and their organs are appreciated at their true value; and it is well and thoroughly understood that we—the people of the United States—are in reality fighting the battle of the working-man throughout the world —the great battle of human rights and manhood against aristocracy and privilege. Hence, in no small degree, the vast flocks of men from Ireland, England, and Germany who come here in search of a home in spite of war-taxes and conscription.

If, in the inscrutable policy of Heaven, it should be decreed that we be baffled in our purpose of restoring the Union, the cause of human liberty will suffer a blow of unexampled severity. As governments now stand, Switzerland and the United States are the only nations in which "a man's a man for a' that." Great Britain is ruled by a landed aristocracy; France, Austria, Russia, Turkey, China, and Brazil by despotic emperors; Spain and Italy by a combination between the aristocracy and the middle classes. Nowhere save here and in Switzerland does a man enjoy full rights of citizenship simply on the ground that he is "fashioned in the image of God." If the Government of the United States maintains itself and suppresses the present rebellion, the haters of liberty will be at once silenced, the problem of human capacity for self-government will be solved satisfactorily and conclusively, and no artifice of the emperors or kings or noblemen of Europe will avail to resist the pressure which will arise for governments like ours. Out of our success in 1776-'83 grew the French Revolution which convulsed Europe for twenty years. If we succeed now, a fresh — possibly a peaceful — revolution will begin, which will not end until the last monarch and oligarchy have been overthrown, and manhood universally recognized as the only real title to full citizenship.

If, on the contrary, we are defeated, and the slave power of the South succeeds in establishing a separate national existence, based upon human slavery and military power, the cause of the working-man and of human rights will be thrust back perhaps for several generations. If, with our advantages, our wealth, our resources, and our intelligence, we can not maintain a Government against domestic traitors, the oligarchs of Europe will well say that republics are impracticable, and human self-government a delusive dream. Wise men, even liberal men, in every country, will not unreasonably accept the fact, and make their policy square to it, by avoiding our example. In every country in the world the suffrage will be restricted, the privileged class strengthened, popular rights reduced, the burdens of the poor man increased, and his opportunities diminished. We shall have brought self-government and humanity itself into merited contempt.

It is, in part, to avert this dire calamity that the working-men of Europe are coming here in such vast numbers.


AMONG the intercepted letters of the day, the following is not without interest. It is a confidential communication from Baron Munchausen to George Psalmanazar:

MY DEAR GEORGE,—I am in great luck, I find myself among a people who are not only willing, but anxious to believe the wildest stories I can invent. I have only to devise the most ludicrous and obvious fiction, and preface it in the newspapers with—"it is said," or "it is reported," or "there is a rumor," or "a special dispatch from Washington states," or "we have it upon the best authority," or "we have confirmation from a perfectly reliable source," or "there is no doubt that," or "private advises have been received," or "it is perfectly well understood"—and this delightful people rubs its hands and goes to bed contented.

During the disastrous seven days' fighting upon the Peninsular last year I greatly comforted the public by "private," and "perfectly reliable," and "unquestionable," and "beyond all doubt," intelligence from a gentleman in Baltimore, that General Buell had arrived there with some fifty thousand men. The day after the battle of Antietam, the incredible day of total inaction which stole success from the victory of this Government, I consoled them again by "private," and "perfectly authentic," and etc., etc., etc., accounts from Washington, that General Sigel, with thirty thousand men, was moving along the south shore of the Potomac to cut off Lee's retreat. And just now, when Hooker was hard pressed, I launched the same old story that Heintzelman was reinforcing him with thirty thousand men, to my unspeakable amusement and to the infinite comfort of the most accommodating people I ever knew.

Last summer, to try what depths of gullibility there might be in this amiable folk, I declared that the disastrous seven days' fighting and retreat upon the Virginia peninsula was a masterly change of base. That, upon the whole, was the most colossal and complete story I had ever achieved, up to that time. My dear George, you will not believe me when I say that it wag gravely accepted for some time, and that the Secretary of State actually wrote it in his dispatches to his foreign agents. But I have lately done better things, and I am sure of your pride in my performances. General Hooker lately made a movement which was unfortunate. After five days hard fighting and exposure and risk of communication, he fell back and occupied his old camp. It was certainly a happy event for the rebels, for it was the repulse of the army they most feared. What do you think I did? With sublime audacity, which you will appreciate, I announced that the rebel army were greatly demoralized by their—signal success! And this people swallowed it, George! And they thought it tasted good! And I loved them so for it that the next day I told them the Stars and Stripes waved over Richmond; and when they have sufficiently enjoyed that, I am going to announce that Professor Lowe has descended upon Richmond in a small balloon, has then reascended, having attached to his car the rebel state house containing Jeff Davis and his Cabinet, and, from a lofty height, has then dropped the whole concern into Chesapeake Bay. And, to crown the whole, I am going to say that the story came from Philadelphia. And this wonderful people will publish extras about it; and placard it on bulletins; and print it in enormous capitals with very open lines of comment and details; and we shall have letters from vessels in the bay saying that the rocking from the waves made by the great splash was perfectly perceptible; and the evening editions will have special dispatches informing us upon unimpeachable authority that Professor Lowe has already descended upon Charleston in the same way, and has effectually blocked the harbor by dumping the city into it; and, my dearest George, if I do not continue to beat the Devil's tattoo upon the back of this patient people, it will be only because there are no newspapers left, or because my name is not   MUNCHAUSEN.


FOR all this maundering confusion mentioned in Munchausen's letter there is a very simple, obvious, and efficacious remedy. Let the Government announce every day precisely what official news of important movements it has received, and spare any amplification, or promise, or rhetoric. During the late movements, if it had stated every morning and evening the exact substance of official reports from head-quarters, or, in the absence of news, if it had announced that there was none, the public mind would have been much calmer and more satisfied. So, again, on the subsequent Sunday morning, when the story of the capture of Richmond was told, if the Government had established the simple and proper habit of telling all the truly important intelligence it had received, its silence would have effectively disposed of the rumor, and in the absence of Governmental confirmation the papers would have refrained from publishing what none of them believed to be true.

Because correspondents and purveyors of news continue to call choke apples peaches, in hope of improving the flavor, is there any reason that the Government should hesitate to tell us the truth? To be unsuccessful is bad enough; but to be unsuccessful and humbugged too is intolerable.


WE assure every soldier into whose hands this paper may come, that the assertion made in one of the New York daily papers during the fearful battles upon the Rappahannock, that the people here were much more interested in a prize-fight of bullies somewhere in Maryland or Pennsylvania than in the success of the Virginia army or the fate of the country, is the foulest falsehood that was ever uttered. If they read carefully the same

sheet in which it appeared they will see another statement that the true way to make peace is to compromise with the rebels.

Let every soldier understand clearly the effect if not the object of such statements. In the first place, they inspire confidence in the rebels by insinuating that loyal men have lost all interest in the war, and are willing to make any terms; in the second place, they tend to persuade the army that it is abandoned by the sympathy of its fellow-citizens; and in the third place, they convey to Europe the impression that the cause of the Government is hopeless.

The truth is, that there was never a more general and profound and intelligent interest than in the late movements upon the Rappahannock. The very paper which denied it refuted its own assertion by being mainly devoted to describing the battles. In every home circle, by every hearth in the Free States, except in Mozart Hall and the hearts of its supporters, there were the sincerest hopes, the most ardent prayers, for the success of the good cause and for the welfare of the good men who were defending it—followed by the most absorbing and painful anxiety, and sense of disappointment, which was not childish and crushing, as after Bull Run, but sober and manly, as of men who, if disappointed, are not dismayed, and if repulsed, are neither disgraced nor disheartened.


THE point in the debate upon the building and fitting of pirates in England which is constantly made by the Solicitor-General, Lord Palmerston, and all Englishmen unfriendly to this country here and elsewhere is this: that the law of England forbids such proceedings; that any friendly power may complain and ask to have the law enforced; but that the law must be enforced by the British authorities as every other law is, namely upon sufficient information supported by sufficient evidence.

Very well. Now let us suppose that this Government complains that ships are constantly built, manned, fitted, in English ports and sail from them to destroy our commerce. Let us then suppose that the information and evidence laid before the British authorities are technically insufficient, and that they consequently decline to act. What follows?

It follows that the law of England, enforced according to what the Solicitor-General calls "the established rules of jurisprudence" in that country, affords us no remedy. By his own showing, therefore—since he and Lord Palmerston both say that no new law and no new method of enforcement are to be expected—we must submit to the sweeping of our commerce from the ocean or take the remedy into our own hands.

The British Government, by the Solicitor-General and Lord Palmerston, says, "We are doing all that we can do, and he is a poor Englishman who, like Mr. Cobden, says we ought to do more." Our reply is, "All that you can do, then, does not meet our complaint." Great Britain shrugs her shoulders and rejoins: "That's none of my business."

No candid Englishman will deny that British built and equipped ships are preying upon the commerce of a friendly power. He will hardly deny that—if the British Government were also friendly—when it found that its laws as they stand did not offer sufficient redress, it would, upon fair representation of the facts, alter the laws to secure such redress. If it declined to alter them, after such representation, would it not be with the clearest consciousness that it compelled the friendly power either to submit to intolerable injury or to protect itself in the way that promised most surely and speedily to stop such ravages?

Is not the very object of the British neutral laws the protection of the rights of belligerents with whom she is friendly? But if, as no man with, the Alabama, Japan, Florida, and the rest, before his eyes, will deny, these laws fail of their object, why should British ministers say so tartly that not a comma of the law shall be changed? Do they plead the enforcement of an inefficient law as a reason why we should submit to commercial ruin? If they suffer the law to remain inefficient it can be only because they are willing to see that result; and then, England has ceased to be a friendly power, and has no reason to complain if we treat her as an enemy.


THAT the controlling public sentiment of England is not averse to hostilities with us is tolerably clear. That the similar sentiment in this country wishes under our circumstances to avoid a war, if it be honorably possible, is equally evident. It is undeniable that we need all our force for the work in hand.

At such a juncture recrimination and taunting are childish. Great Britain, indeed, is no friend of ours in any sense. It is true that in many ways we co-operate with her in certain great processes of civilization. But we do it with the same haughty mutual jealousy with which differing sects in the same church regard each other. Yet if England is not our friend, neither have we been hers. Under the political leadership of those who are now threatening our Government, this country has often enough within the present generation taken a position which justly drew upon us the odium of the world. The Ostend Conference, for instance, was the most infamous political phenomenon in its intention since the partition of Poland. Three American ministers met in the dominion of a friendly power to plot the dismemberment of a third, to which at the time one of the ministers was accredited, and the country hastened to elect as its chief magistrate the one of the three conspirators who was first in position and least in capacity. We officially furnished Europe the right to sneer at us as a nation of buccaneers.

Of course all such men as these conspirators are now rebels or sympathizers with rebellion; and it was partly national shame at the position into (Next Page)




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