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Page) England is quibbling, evasive,
and confused. The Solicitor-General says that the offense if committed is an
infraction of municipal law merely, and that it is at the option of Britain to
enforce it or not. If we wish to complain we may do so, and if we can bring
sufficient legal evidence the British Government will probably stop the
We answer that a friendly power
will not hesitate, under such grave circumstances as those of this war, to
detain ships upon suspicion as we did during the Crimean war: and that when she
stands out upon purely technical grounds, when the moral proof is overwhelming
to all the world, she reveals a disposition which is not friendly.
Thereupon the British Government
replies that to sell and fit a vessel of war is no more unfriendly than to sell
guns and ammunition to either party. To which the answer is conclusive that the
English laws themselves make a difference, which is recognized by international
law, and by the very action of the British Government, which, at the last
moment, and of course too late, sent to stop
the Alabama. When merchants sell
goods they are used at the option of the buyer; but when a ship-builder like Mr.
Laird builds ships for a purpose of which Mr. Laird does not even pretend
ignorance, and which is to prey upon the commerce of a friendly power, there is
a breach not only of the municipal, but of international, law. And, as the
London Daily News remarks, it is for the Solicitor-General to answer why Mr.
Laird, after his open confession of guilt, was not indicted by the Government:
since by the proclamation of neutrality the Queen warned her subjects against
"violating or contravening either the laws and statutes of the realm in behalf
of neutrality, or the law of nations in relation thereto."
The case is very simple. Our
commerce is ruined by ships built in England, manned in England, armed in
England, sailing from English harbors, entering only English ports, flying only
the English flag until just at the moment of striking, when they run up a flag
which is no more recognized as a national flag, by any government in the world,
than a red bandana handkerchief. We respectfully represent the facts. The Prime
Minister smirks, the Solicitor-General twiddles his thumbs, and says that his
Government can not help it. Are we not forced then to ask how we can help
ourselves? If the difficulty lies in English laws which the Government will not
execute, or in the law of nations, which it chooses to disregard, the result for
us is the same. Our ships are hunted from the sea, and our commerce is
transferred to British vessels. It remains, then, for this nation merely to
consider when, and in what way, it will be most wise for it to defend itself.
EDWARD EVERETT DIFFUSING "SOUND POLITICAL INFORMATION."
MR. EDWARD EVERETT has recently
made a speech which we commend to the attention of Mr. G. Ticknor Curtis, Mr.
James Brooks, and other Bell-Everett members of the Delmonico Committee for
diffusing sound political information. One passage in it is especially addressed
to people who hold with Mr. G. Ticknor Curtis that this war is waged
"But it may be asked again, how
can we support an Administration which adopts measures that we deem
unconstitutional? I should certainly be a very unfaithful pupil of the political
school in which I was trained if I could ever hear the sacred name of the
Constitution justly invoked without respect, or yield to it any thing less than
implicit obedience. It is, however, as great an error to appeal to it where it
does not apply, as to disregard it where it does: and I must say that the study
of our political history ought to teach us caution in this respect; for from the
formation of the Government in 1789 to the present day there has not been an
important controverted measure—no, not one—which its party opponents have not
denounced as unconstitutional. It is one of the doctrines of the seceding school
that the Government of the United States could not constitutionally wage war
against a sovereign State. But how if the sovereign State strikes the first
blow, fires on your vessels, bombards and captures your forts, threatens your
capital, and invades the loyal members of the Union who refuse to join in the
war of oppression?
"Few, I suppose, will doubt that
the United States may constitutionally wage a war of self-defense against any
enemy, domestic or foreign. But in waging this war of self-defense we can not,
in the opinion of some persons with whom I have usually acted and whose judgment
I greatly respect, go beyond the powers specially granted by the Constitution to
the General Government for the purposes of ordinary administration in time of
peace. This opinion seems to me to rest on a misconception of the authority
under which war is waged. The Constitution authorizes Congress to declare war,
to raise and support armies, and to provide and maintain a navy, and it clothes
the President with the power of Commander-in-Chief. It goes no further. It
prescribes nothing as to the enemy against whom, the measures by which, nor the
ends for which the war may be carried on. It gives no more power to wage war
with a foreign State than with a domestic State; and it is as silent upon the
subject of blockading the ports as of seizing the cotton or of emancipating the
slaves of a district in rebellion. The rights of war belong to the more
comprehensive, in some respects the higher, code of international law, to which
not the Government of the United States alone, but all civilized governments are
amenable. By that august code all unjust wars are forbidden, and all unjust
modes of waging just wars, no matter who may be the enemy or what the pretext:
while, by the same code, all just wars, and eminently all wars of self-defense,
and all warlike measures sanctioned by our Christian civilization, are
permitted, unless so far as they may be expressly prohibited by the municipal
law of our own country."
Mr. Everett then supposes that
misunderstanding with Spain had led to war, and that Florida had tried to return
to her, and carry Key West,
Fort Pickens, and the
Tortugas—and he asks:
"Would any one doubt that the
United States could, without violating the Constitution, invade Florida, in
order to recover the public property, the islands, the forts, and the national
establishments thus seized: to repel the enemy: to chastise these acts of
hostility to the National Government, and to take effectual security that they
should not be repeated? Would not the Government of the United States, without
violating the Constitution, be authorized to do precisely the same things in
Florida as in Cuba? Would not the arming and employing of the slaves in this
just war, as allies inured to the climate and acquainted with the country, be as
legitimate on one side
of the Gulf of Florida as on the
other? and would not their employment under the authority of the United States,
and the control and direction of its officers, instead of tending to a servile
war and the massacre of the unarmed and defenseless (at which humanity revolts),
be the surest means of preventing such barbarities, and reducing this frightful
element of danger within the limits of Christian warfare?"
"COLD AND UNFRIENDLY NEUTRALITY."
IN the recent debate upon the
Alabama in the British Parliament John Bright, after speaking of the fourteen
steamers that were building in England for the rebels, described the attitude of
Great Britain toward this country as "a cold and unfriendly neutrality." Lord
Palmerston, in closing the debate, surpassed his customary insolence. He sneered
at the cry against England as part of the ordinary "political capital" of this
country. He said that a nation which had set aside its own laws naturally
supposed that other nations could do the same. And he spoke of this Government
as "the Northern Union," although he knows that the Union with which his own
Government, of which he is the head, has treaties of amity and commerce is the
United States, both North and South. The British residents in this country are
accustomed to speak with the utmost bitterness and contempt of Mr. Seward's tone
toward England as insolent. But all the insolence that can be found in all the
speeches Mr. Seward ever made, or in all the dispatches he ever wrote, is
surpassed by the haughty and intolerable tone of this one speech of Palmerston's.
It was a cool, studied insult to a power at peace with Great Britain; and in its
way it does as much mischief as the pirates whom it excuses.
But in replying to Mr. Bright
Lord Palmerston laid himself open to a thrust which Bright spared him. The
gentleman, said Lord Palmerston, speaks of "a cold and unfriendly neutrality. I
do not know what the meaning of those terms may be; but they appear to me to be
a contradiction in themselves. [Hear, hear.] If neutrality is more than friendly
toward one party it is something very different toward the other [Laughter, and
hear, hear], and ceases to be what in common parlance is meant by neutrality
between contending parties."
Precisely so, Mr. Bright might
have replied; that is just what I say. British neutrality is cold and unfriendly
toward the belligerent with which we have treaties, and which is a recognized
power in the world; and it is something very different toward the belligerent
whose national existence we do not recognize, whose flag is unknown to us, with
which we have no treaty, and which is not acknowledged by any nation in the
world. And this is British neutrality! This is the neutrality which the Prime
Minister of England calls "honest and sincere"—the two most unfortunate words
for the truth that the English language furnishes.
THE speech of the
Postmaster-General at the first
Sumter meeting in New York was interesting and
important, as showing the probable view of our English relations held by the
Cabinet. The substance of his remarks was that England is so deeply interested
in the success of the rebellion as to be about ready to take up arms for it; and
that, under the present circumstances, we ought to avoid giving her a pretext
for war. He preferred therefore, he said, the plan of the New York merchants who
sent food to Lancashire rather than
General Butler's plan of non-intercourse.
Certainly the feeling between the
two countries is very inflammable; and, as we have elsewhere said, in making up
the account with England, it is for this nation to decide how it may most wisely
defend itself against the practical hostility of Great Britain. The complacent
reiterations by British papers and politicians of their honest neutrality, are
too ludicrously criticised by facts to require any other attention. But we are
not to forget that prudence is often the highest heroism. We must not forget,
either, that war between America and England would be a misfortune for mankind.
We must remember that if John Bull swaggers and blusters, we have ourselves
often done the same thing, and every honorable man will be very slow to counsel
extreme measures until all others have clearly failed.
But the danger of war is evident
from the enormous stake of Great Britain in our civil contest. She is on trial
quite as much as we. The victory of this Government is a blow to every
monarchical power in Europe. It is the justification of a popular system more
overwhelming than years of peace could be, for during peace the monarchy has
only to say, "Just wait till they are tried by war." Our triumph is the
vindication of John Bright and his friends against the haughty Toryism of
Britain, of the people of England against its aristocracy, of liberty and
equality against privilege.
But while this is the British
political and social interest in our war, her commercial stake is not less.
Emerging victorious from this struggle our fleets compose the most formidable
navy in the world. The sceptre of the seas drops from the senile grasp of
Britain. Whoever may be mistress of the ocean we shall be master, and there will
be a formidable marine account unsettled between us.
To see us destroyed in the first
flush of our youth has been the hope of the British governing class, the
instinct of her nobles and her merchants. The young Hartington, who did not
refuse to insult his host and all his host's guests at a ball in this city,
announces upon his return home the conviction, sprung from his instinctive
desire, that we shall be ruined; while Laird, the ship-builder, speaking for
another interest, boasts in Parliament of his disobedience to British laws in
order to help on that ruin, while British law-makers eagerly listen and loudly
To secure the fulfillment of this
wish Mr. Blair thinks that England would easily allow herself to be drawn into
armed assistance of the rebellion. Such an impression upon the mind of that
member of the Cabinet, who is supposed to be most allied
Mr. Seward, added to our own
knowledge of the spirit and acts of the British Government, should lead us to
the utmost careful preparation and consideration. No American citizen can really
wish a war with England; but it is the duty of every one to contemplate the
chances; to act moderately and calmly; neither to fear war nor to provoke it;
and to bear in mind that neither a wise man nor nation gives way to
HARPER'S PICTORIAL HISTORY OF THE GREAT
THE publication of this important
work, which has been long announced, has at last commenced. The first two
numbers are issued, and it will be regularly continued. The great resources of a
great publishing house will be lavished upon it. The accuracy, the copiousness,
the comprehensiveness of its illustrations, including portraits of all the civil
and military leaders, some of which, like that of
General Scott, are the very
finest specimens of wood-engraving, with the most effective sketches of places
and events drawn upon the spot, and elaborate facsimiles of important
documents, make it an invaluable pictorial gallery; while the ability, the care,
the patient research and laborious collation devoted to the preparation of the
text, are the earnest of a complete and satisfactory chronicle.
Of course, a history of the
rebellion written simultaneously with the events it records is of the nature of
annals, except so far as it investigates the philosophy of the war. Its chief
merit must be sought in the fidelity, and clearness, and picturesqueness of its
descriptions, and these will be entirely independent of the historian's views of
the occult causes of the occurrences he describes. Sallust's "Catiline's
Conspiracy" and "Jugurthine War," rather than Gibbon's "Decline and Fall," are
the model of such a work. What we demand of the author is a comprehensive
knowledge of events and a skillful presentation of them. Any man's judgment of
the causes of a contemporary civil war will be colored by his previous
predilections. The issue now brought to the decision of the sword in this
country is one that has been already fiercely debated. The debate has extended
through a generation. Every citizen during that generation has taken his side.
He has regarded the question from his political, partisan, social, personal, and
moral convictions. Of these he can not divest himself when he comes to discuss
the origin of the war. But this discussion, however essential to the
completeness of such a work, is necessarily brief, preliminary, and detached.
His work properly begins where this discussion ends.
Of the general justice of the
preliminary view contained in the first number or Introduction to Harper's
History, that the war sprang from the intrinsic aggressive nature of slavery,
there can be no doubt whatever. Yet the author seems to us entirely unjust in
his estimate of the scope and character of "Abolitionism." It is as impossible
to dispose of its significance in our history by calling the abolitionists
impracticable fanatics as it was for Sydney Smith to withstand Methodism by
calling Methodists ranters. But while we differ upon this point it is all the
pleasanter to commend the sincerity, the gravity, the grouping and sequence of
events, the copious and exact detail, and the literary elegance, precision, and
skill with which the story of the war opens in the second number. We can not
well fancy a more welcome monthly visitor to the hundreds of thousands of
patriotic firesides in the land than Harper's Pictorial History of the Great
HUMORS OF THE DAY.
WANTED—A fifer and drummer to
beat time for the "march of intellect;" a pair of snuffers to trim the "light of
other days;" a ring that will fit the "finger of scorn;" a loose pulley to run
on the "shaft of envy;" and a new cushion for the "seat of government."
A TALE OF WOE.—I clasped her tiny
hand in mine; I clasped her beauteous form; I vowed to shield her from the wind,
and from the world's cold storm. She set her beauteous eyes on me; the tears did
wildly flow; and with her little lips she said, "Confound you, let me go!"
"Ah!" said a phrenologist, gazing
on a fine expanse of forehead, "there's a development! See what Nature has done
for him; and yet he won't lend me sixpence."
The following notes actually
passed between two celebrated comedians: "Dear W—, send me a shilling. Yours,
B—. P.S.—On second thoughts, make it two." To which his friend replied. "Dear
B—, I have but one in the world. Yours, W—. P.S. —On second thoughts, I want
that for dinner."
The late Earl Dudley is said to
have wound up a tribute on the virtue of a deceased friend with these words: "He
was a good man— an excellent man; he had the best melted butter I ever tasted in
An old angler says that no one by
merely conversing with a fish over succeeded in drawing it out.
As George III. was walking the
quarter-deck of one of his men-of-war with his hat on, a sailor asked his
mess-mate "who that fellow was who did not douse his peak to the admiral?" "Why,
it's the King." "Well, King, or no King," retorted the other, "he's an
unmannerly dog." "Lord, where should he learn manners?" replied Jack; "he was
never outside of land in his life."
"My lord," said a profligate to
the famous Robert, Earl of Oxford, "you and I have been in all the jails in the
kingdom." "What do you mean by that, you rascal?" asked the Earl. "Your lordship
has been in the Tower, and I have been in every other."
A periodical was started not long
ago, the first number of which contained a letter from a correspondent who
signed himself "A Constant Reader."
A gentleman who had been spending
the evening with a few friends, looking at his watch just after midnight, said,
"It is to-morrow morning—I must bid you good-night, gentlemen."
An individual was arrested the
other day while endeavoring to pick a gentleman's pocket. He said he wasn't used
to the business, and was just trying to "get his hand in."
"Your horse seems to make up
faces at having that thing put in his mouth," said a youngster who saw Foote put
his bridle on his horse after feeding him, "Oh no," said Foote, "he don't mind
it a bit."
ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.
THERE is nothing new from
Hooker's army. Some general orders have been issued relative to the disposition
of regiments whose term of enlistment is about to expire.
Our troops at Suffolk have had a
brisk time of it of late. The enemy have been pressing them closely, and an
attack upon our lines has been looked for, from hour to hour, for some days
past. On 18th we made a demonstration which had a successful issue. General Peck
Washington that "General Getty, in conjunction with the gun-boats,
under Lieutenant Lamson, has just stormed the heavy battery at the West Branch,
and captured six guns and two hundred of the Forty-fourth Alabama regiment. They
crossed in boats. The Eighty-ninth New York and the Eighth Connecticut were the
GENERAL FOSTER AT NEWBERN.
General Foster has succeeded in
passing the rebel blockade in the steamer Escort, with the loss of the pilot
killed and several wounded. The Escort was riddled by at least forty shots.
General Foster was joyfully received at Newbern. His force in Washington, North
Carolina, is still there.
SIEGE OF WASHINGTON RAISED.
The enemy have retreated from
their position around the town of Washington, after a siege of three weeks.
Their batteries on Tar River have been abandoned. General Foster left Newborn on
the 18th for Washington, North Carolina, with a brigade from Hilton Head, to
relieve his army, but it is not probable that he will require this reinforcement
except to pursue the enemy.
MOVEMENTS AT VICKSBURG.
A dispatch from Jackson,
Richmond states that our forces have moved from
Vicksburg and Grenada. The dispatch states that "a heavy movement" commenced
on Thursday, and that a large fire was observed on that night above Vicksburg,
which was thought to proceed from the burning of the Union transports. It is
admitted, however, by the same authority, that our forces were in possession of
New Carthage, below
RUNNING THE BLOCKADE.
On 16th seven gun-boats and three
Admiral Porter's fleet ran by the rebel batteries at Vicksburg,
and got safely down between that place and Port Hudson to assist General Banks.
With the single exception of the loss of one transport—which caught fire and was
destroyed —the fleet pasted gallantly through the fire of the batteries, which
lasted for over three hours, as the vessels were running down. On reaching
Warrenton Admiral Porter bombarded that village, with what effect is not known.
GENERAL BANKS AT WORK.
The campaign in Louisiana has
been gloriously opened by
General Banks. The rebel forces of General Sibley have
been completely hemmed in by the armies of Generals Grover, Emory, and Weitzel.
General Sibley was abandoning his position near Brashear City, leaving his guns
and ammunition behind biro. The fine ram
Queen of the West was retaken in Grand
Lake by our troops, and her captain and crew are now prisoners in Berwick Bay.
The capture of the steamer Diana, lately seized by the rebels, was also almost
insured, the United States steamer Clifton having removed the obstructions in
the river and closing rapidly upon her.
FIGHT IN ARKANSAS.
The rebels made a determined
attack on Fayetteville, Arkansas, on 18th, with a force of three thousand men,
but they were gallantly repulsed by our troops, who only numbered two thousand
in all, and many of them were unarmed. The fight lasted four hours, and although
our men were mostly Arkansas recruits, and the enemy had four pieces of
artillery, the latter were driven back toward Ozark in disorder. They were
commanded by General Cobell. Our forces were in charge of Colonel Harrison.
FOOD QUESTION SOUTH.
Jefferson Davis has issued an
address to the people of the Southern Confederacy, urging them to devote their
agricultural labor to the production of food. He says that although the soldiers
are on half rations of meat there is plenty of it in the Confederacy, but that a
difficulty exists in its transportation, which is now about to be remedied.
SHOOTING OF COLONEL KIMBALL.
The papers publish a letter from
General Corcoran relative to his shooting Lieutenant-Colonel Kimball. The
General gives a full statement of the occurrence, and alleges that
Lieutenant-Colonel Kimball was not on duty at the time, and was not justified in
violently attempting to arrest the progress of his commanding officer, who was
in the performance of his duty, in visiting the outposts. General Corcoran,
while regretting the disaster, states that the attack made upon him rendered the
action which he took an imperative necessity.
The anniversary of the great
uprising day of 1861 was commemorated on 20th in an appropriate manner by a
great Loyal League mass meeting at Madison Square, over which Lieutenant-General
Scott presided. It was the greatest display witnessed in this city since the
memorable 20th of April two years ago.
THE REBEL LOAN.
THE rebel cotton loan sustained a
very heavy collapse in England on the 2d inst., in consequence of the suspension
of J. B. Spence, of Liverpool. It was thought that Mr. Spence was the financial
agent of Jeff Davis, and the loan was consequently quoted at from one and a half
to two and a half discount.
On the 5th of April one of the
customs' surveyors at Liverpool seized the Alexandra, a small gun-boat recently
launched from the yard of Messrs. Miller & Co. The officer acted on the
instructions received by Mr. Pierce Edwards, Collector of Customs, from the
Government, who had reason to believe that the Alexandra was being fitted for
the service of the Confederates.
A vessel called the Japan, or
Virginia, supposed to be destined for the rebel service, had got out from the
port of Greenock, Scotland. The Government had ordered her detention; but she
battled the vigilance of the officials.
The revolution in Poland is
gaining fresh spirit, and extending. Langiewicz has been conveyed from Cracow to
Moravia. In Swato and other districts the nobility, middle classes, and peasants
have risen en masse against Russia. The insurgents have addressed a manifesto to
the people, which occupies seven columns of the London journals. A Circassian
chief lauded in Courland with a well-appointed force to aid the revolutionists.
The Government of Sweden embargoed a British steamer at Malmo for having a
detachment of Poles on board from England. It is said that the Czar of Russia
will grant an autonomy to Poland, but will not sanction a national Polish army.
DEFEAT OF THE FRENCH.
We have news of a defeat of the
French army at Puebla, after a desperate contest with the enemy, under General
Ortega. The attack was made on the 27th ult. The previous news was up to the 1st
inst., to the effect that the French then held the outer works at Puebla, but it
does not follow from this that they were not severely repulsed on the 27th of
March, as General Ortega states.