Russian Ships


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, October 17, 1863

We have created an online archive of all Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. This archive contains incredibly rich details which are simply not available anywhere else. The material allows you to not only study details of the important events, but also see the people's reaction to the events.

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


Nevski Flagship

Nevski Flagship


Abraham Lincoln Establishes Thanksgiving Holiday

Armed Slaves

Davis to Arm the Slaves

Confederate Ships

Confederate Rams

Russian Ships

Russian Ships

Soldier's Story

A Soldier's Story

Libby Prison

Libby Prison

Libey Prison

Libey Prison


Parade on Broadway

Libey Prison in Richmond

Libey Prison in Richmond

Russian Fleet

Russian Fleet


Pirate Cartoon





[OCTOBER 17, 1863.


(Previous Page) guns, 2800 tons, Captain Boutakoff; screw sloop Vitiaz, 17 guns, 2100 tons, Captain Lund; and screw sloop Variag, 17 guns, 2100 tons, Captain Kremer. The following sketch of the squadron will be read with interest:

The two largest of the squadron, the frigates Alexander Nevski and Peresvet, are evidently vessels of modern build, and much about them would lead an unpracticed eye to think they were constructed in this country. The frigate Osliaba is unlike the other two; she has more the appearance of one of the first of the heavy screw ships built in the European dock-yards. Her bluff bows and full counter do not give evidence of great speed; but she is doubtless a fair goer and fine sea-boat. The two steam corvettes, or sloops, as we term them, Variag and Vitiaz, are apparently very superior vessels. They are fully equal in tonnage to the steamers in our service of the class of the Brooklyn, Richmond, and others, and carry very serviceable batteries. They are evidently constructed for speed, and have engines of full power. All these vessels are ship rigged, and are heavily sparred, so much so that if their smoke-stacks were out of sight you would hardly suppose them to be propelled by steam. Their standing rigging appears to be very slight in comparison with our ships of the same class.

The batteries of these ships are of formidable character, although all smooth-bored guns. They are of one calibre, throwing a solid shot of sixty pounds' weight, and of two classes, the long and medium, weighing about sixty and eighty hundred weight. They are of a pattern peculiarly Russian, but are fitted in a similar manner to the broad-side guns of our own vessels. The locks and sight are different from ours, but no doubt answer equally as good a purpose. The batteries appear to be in excellent condition, and ready for service at a moment's warning. The guns are polished like mirrors, and every thing goes to show that their crews take pride in keeping their "pets" in proper order, ready for service or inspection of visitors.

The instant you step foot over the gangways of these ships it becomes evident that they are in the hands of men who understand how to keep a ship in the most thorough order. The decks are as white as holy-stones and sand can make them, the paint work spotless, the brass and other bright work shining as if they were cleaned every five minutes; rigging neatly coiled down on deck or on the belaying pins—no ends of ropes hanging about—every thing hauled taut and properly belayed, in fact, every thing looks "ship-shape and Bristol fashion" just as a sailor likes to Lee it. A lady with the most immaculate skirts and kid gioves can move any where, on deck or below, without danger of soiling either, so perfectly clean every thing about the ship is kept. The quarter-deck is entirely clear, with the exception of the battery; but on board the 0sliaba the boats—between the fore and main masts—appear to crowd the decks, being stowed in a manner to leave but little space between them and the ship's bulwarks. The gun and berth decks are low in comparison with the heavy ships of our service.

On Thursday, 1st October, the city of New York gave the Russian officers a grand reception. The committee of the Common Council went off in the Steamer Andrews to present the resolutions to the Admiral. We condense the following account of the


(which is illustrated on page 657), from the Herald:

The scene was grand when the Andrews cast off her moorings and steamed down the bay, the band of the North Carolina regaling the ear with the performance of popular airs. The boat was gayly decorated with the American colors. She did not head right for the Russian fleet, but made a circuit south of Governor's Island, coming round on the west side of the British and French squadrons. As she passed the English line-of-battle ship the band struck up the first bars of "God Save the Queen," but did not play the whole air, probably because there was no sign of recognition or acknowledgment from the deck of the Nile. The French squadron was passed without even a note of the "Marseillaise," but when she neared the Russian squadron the band played the national hymn, "God save the Emperor," and the white flag with the blue cross was run up. The compliment was acknowledged by loud vivas from the Russian men-of-war. Soon their rigging was filled with white-capped sailors, the Stars and Stripes were given to the breeze, and hundreds of curious eyes peered over the bulwarks of the formidable-looking vessels. As the Andrews steamed up to the Alexander Nevski—the Russian flag-ship, lying almost on a line westward from Trinity Church—the musical compliment on our side was returned by the performance, on theirs, of "Yankee Doodle," which is regarded by them as our national hymn. The crews of all the vessels were by this time saluting us with loud cheers.

The Andrews had been provided with a splendid row boat, the Waverley, to convey the committee on board the flag-ship; but the Russian was too polite for that. His own boats were floating on the wave, all ready to take us on board. Captain Faunce hailed the Russian, and shouted, "I have the city authorities here, wishing to go on board." "Yes, Sir," was the response. The boats came alongside, and we had the pleasure of being conveyed to the Nevski in a sixteen-oared gig, manned by stout arms, that probably acquired sinew and muscle on the Steppes of Tartary; for the Russian sailors are not obtained from the sea-board, nor are they expected to have any particular aptitude for a sea-faring life. They are taken indiscriminately from the ranks of the peasants, just as the soldiers are; but they make very good seamen notwithstanding. Little barefooted middies or apprentices meet us at the foot of the gangway and at the several landings, and sailors present arms to us as we pass up.

Well, here we are, on board the Alexander Nevski, which looks, on deck, large enough to accommodate a fair-sized army, and with ordnance heavy enough to blow up Fort Sumter. The guns, we are told by an officer, are of American make, being cast at Pittsburg. They are modeled somewhat after the Dahlgren pattern. In the midst of the group formed by the Committee of Arrangements and accompanying gentlemen, the Admiral, a small, active, and extremely polite gentleman, wearing the full uniform of his rank, and many decorations and insignia of nobility, is talking with as much volubility as his knowledge of the English tongue permits, and moving about from one point to another, giving directions to his own officers, or saying complimentary things to our civilians. The principal officers of the fleet are near him, all in full dress uniform, and along the opposite bulwark the sailors are ranged as if on parade. Some who have muskets to their shoulders are performing the duties which in other navies are assigned to the marine corps, an organization which is not known in the Russian service.

Up to this time there had been no salute fired, and no official presentation made. Much caution was to be observed in having the small boats out of the range of the guns. At last all was ready. At a signal the sailors who had been standing in ranks on deck sprang up the rigging, not manning the yards, however, as our sailors do. Then the order is given to fire, and as gun after gun reverberates under our feet—the salute is fired from the lower deck —the sailors break out into loud cheers, the band striving hard to play "Yankee Doodle." And thus the salute of twenty-one guns is fired, to the satisfaction of every body, end to the proper observance of official etiquette.

The resolutions of the Common Council duly presented and responded to, the Admiral, his officers, and the Committee proceeded to the foot of Twenty-third Street, where they landed. There they were received by the city dignitaries and a division of militia, and escorted to the city. Our artist sketched the procession from Brady's windows, opposite Grace Church, and we reproduce his picture on page 660. The following from the Times report will give an additional idea of the scene:

After the procession had passed Union Square, and wheeling fairly into the vast current of Broadway, the scene became splendidly animated. The moving pageant rolled in a glittering stream down the broad thoroughfare between banks of upturned human faces, the trappings of the equipages, the gold and silver epaulets of the Muscovite

guests and the sabres, helmets, and bayonets of the escort reflecting back in unnumbered dazzling lines the glory of the evening sun. The cavalcade advanced to the joyous time of exulting martial music like the van-guard of a conquering host returning to the metropolis of its power, and there was a proud and gratified feeling evidently in the hearts of the vast concourse assembled to greet it, that would have been befitting to the most important triumphs at home. Far as the eye could reach down the great central avenue of our imperial city, the sidewalks were packed with human beings, and the balconies and windows—nay, in some instances, the very roofs of the buildings above them—were beset with eager multitudes, the general surface of this animated border-work richly varied and enameled, as it were, throughout its length, with groups of richly-attired beauty. Above nearly every building gayly fluttered the Stars and Stripes, some in standards of immense size and others tricked off with scores of little Russian flags, waving and sporting in the breeze side by side with our own national colors. Bythe-way it may be remarked that the great Autocracy and the great Republic had the scene all to themselves, no other nation being represented even in bunting—a significant incident of the ovation.

The demonstration on the part of the masses was not so noisy or boisterous as upon former similar occasions, but was none the less earnest and real, the people seeming to appreciate, with peculiar feelings of solemnity, the importance of a display which amounted to little less than an international demonstration. Shouting and cheering were not prevalent, but there was much clapping of hands, and the throngs of ladies in the windows most vigorously waved their 'kerchiefs, to the great delight of the Russian officers, who never left off bowing, smiling, and even uttering their thanks aloud, while they doffed their gold-laced chapeau. One of the Captains manifested almost child-like pleasure, and at almost every moment uttered, in sonorous Russ, his astonishment and admiration at the grace, loveliness, and animation, as well as the cordial courtesy of our fair dames and damsels. On the chill banks of the Neva, perhaps when far away on the boisterous billows of the Black Sea or the Caspian, he will recall, in his lonely midnight vigil, while he paces the storm-beaten deck, the sunny smiles that brightened the autumnal sunshine on the borders of the Hudson.

The Lafarge House, the Metropolitan, and the St. Nicholas Hotels, and several adjacent stores, were neatly adorned with American and Russian standards. The splendid establishment of Tiffany & Co., No. 550 Broadway, displayed in front, and pendent over the street, a Russian flag of huge dimensions, while, arranged crosswise in the shape of an X., and reaching from the coping of the roof to the pavement below, ran two huge blue stripes of bunting, which, against the white marble facade, gave to the latter the semblance of another monster Muscovite ensign. This decoration was repeated on the adjacent building, also occupied by the same firm.



THE Nortonville Sewing Circle was convened at the house of Mrs. Deacon Parker. The ladies present were grouped as chance or choice dictated, and the sound of many voices, blending somewhat inharmoniously, floated out into the supper-room, where the mistress of the house was busily engaged in providing for appetites sharpened by labor. Apart from the other ladies sat one whose thoughts seemed self-centred and little cognizant of what was passing. The hum of conversation rippled about her, but she took no part in it. She was no longer young. Apparently she had passed by some years the half-way house of life. Her expression was thoughtful and grave, and afforded little encouragement to those who would have approached her with the light personal gossip which furnishes the main staple of conversation with commonplace minds. Little was known in Nortonville of her past history, though for ten years she had gone in and out among the people, and lived constantly among them. Just ten years since she had purchased the Holmes cottage with half an acre of land attached, and commenced the solitary occupation of it. Advances were made toward neighborly intercourse in the early part of her residence, but these were so indifferently responded to that the people, partly chilled, partly offended, drew off, and by common consent left Margaret Thorpe to the solitude which she so evidently preferred.

During her ten years' residence it is doubtful whether Margaret had ever been beyond the town limits. Indifferent as she was to every thing in the village, there seemed to be nothing in the great world beyond which specially interested her. Curious neighbors had never detected a visitor at her door save the butcher, the baker, and peripatetic merchants of their class. She seldom crossed another's threshold; yet when the widow Carver's son, a boy of ten, fell from a scaffolding and broke his leg, thus adding materially to the labors of a hard-working. mother with a numerous family, Margaret Thorpe walked over to the small house and offered her services as nurse. These were gratefully accepted, not without surprise. Margaret proved faithful to her self-imposed task. Day after day she watched by the sick boy's bedside, evincing a rare tact in anticipating his wants, and furnishing at her own cost fruit and other delicacies such as the mother's scanty means would scarcely have supplied. The mother was deeply grateful, but the awe with which the silent nurse inspired her embarrassed her in the expression of her gratitude.

A softer expression came over Margaret's face as she listened to the mother's attempt to convey her sense of indebtedness. "Don't thank me, Mrs. Carver," she said. "If I have been of any service I ought to be thankful that the opportunity has been afforded me. I feel that the experience has done me good in drawing me for a time out of myself."

Mrs. Carver looked at her with a puzzled face. She was a worthy woman, brought up in a hard-working school, and had few ideas beyond the humble round of her everyday duties.

"She's a strange woman, and I don't understand her," she remarked to a neighbor; "but she's been very good to my George, and I sha'n't soon forget it. I don't know how I could have got along without her. If I knew of any way to thank her I would."

"You might invite her to drop in to tea some afternoon," suggested the neighbor.

"I don't think she would accept the invitation," said Mrs. Carver, doubtfully.

"At any rate you can try the experiment, and if you want some one to help you entertain her I shall be glad to come too."

The invitation, suggested by one whose curiosity

sought an opportunity to learn something more of the mysterious resident, was gently but firmly declined, and as a matter of course was never repeated. But Margaret made the little lad whom she had attended in his sickness an exception to the general indifference with which she regarded her neighbors. Not unfrequently she called him as he was passing her door, and gave him some present either designed specially for himself or for his family at home, thus furnishing an illustration of the remark that benefits conferred lead to an interest in those benefited.

This was not a solitary instance of Margaret's kindness. A poor man who had struggled with poverty all his life lost a cow by disease. To him it was a severe loss, which he knew not how to repair. Great was his joy on receiving through the post-office an envelope containing a sum of money sufficient to purchase another animal in place of the one lost. There was nothing to indicate from whom the gift proceeded, but inquiries settled beyond a doubt that Margaret Thorpe was his benefactress. He called upon her and expressed his thanks in earnest words. She said little, but that little was kind. "Do not thank me," she said, "but rather thank Him who has given me the ability to make you happy with what is valueless to myself. If the amount which I sent you proves insufficient to replace your loss let me know."

It may excite surprise that Margaret Thorpe, with her distaste to society, should form one of the busy company convened at Mrs. Deacon Parker's on the present occasion. It was not an ordinary meeting, however, but assembled to sew for a company of soldiers about to leave the village to join our forces in Virginia. This was in the early days of the rebellion, when the lack of public system made such individual efforts more important and necessary than now. Early in the afternoon Margaret Thorpe had presented herself at the door of Mrs. Parker, and in a few words offered her services, if an extra needle could be made available. There being a press of work, which it was desirable to complete as soon as possible, Margaret's offer was not one to be slighted. Even had there been little need to accept it, the ladies would gladly have embraced this opportunity to become better acquainted with the mystery that enveloped their silent neighbor. But Margaret took a quiet seat in a corner, and made it evident by her manner that she had come to work, and not to talk. She appeared wrapt and unobservant, and it is doubtful if she heard a word that passed among her neighbors, no less busy with the tongue than the needle.

Kitty Parker and Jenny Reed watched her from the sofa opposite—watched her with the curiosity of impulsive seventeen. So watching her, Kitty formed the daring resolution to assail the fortress of her reserve and carry it by storm. Jenny, more timid, dared her to the attempt. With a half-laughing glance and a little inward trepidation, Kitty advanced and seated herself in a chair adjoining Miss Thorpe's.

"It is a pleasant afternoon, Miss Thorpe," she commenced, assuming more nonchalance than she felt.

Margaret Thorpe looked up in a little surprise. "Yes," she said, "it is pleasant;" then looked down again at her work.

"Don't you think this is a horrid war?" remarked Kitty, in her most sociable manner.

"All wars are terrible," returned Margaret, slowly; "and perhaps those which take place in the soul, and without outward show, are not less terrible than those of the field."

"I wonder what she means," thought Kitty, pretty but shallow. "Have you got any relations in the war, Miss Thorpe?" she asked, aloud.

"Relations!" repeated Margaret, with a sudden glance at her companion; "I have no near relations."

"Oh!" said Kitty, a little disconcerted by the glance. Then, after a pause, "I sometimes wish that I were a man, that I might go. Don't you, Miss Thorpe?"

The question slipped out before she was aware. After it had fairly passed her lips she looked a little frightened, lest it should seem too familiar.

Miss Thorpe took it in good part. "I don't know," said she. "If I were a man I should feel that it was the path of duty. But women have their duties also. I think I shall go."

"To the war?" inquired Kitty, in amazement.

"Yes," said Margaret, answering the question without a thought of the questioner.

Kitty was thoroughly mystified. Miss Thorpe going to the war! The thought of the grave spinster in regimentals crossed her bewildered mind, and the absurdity struck her so forcibly that she had much ado to stifle a convulsive burst of merriment. Fearful of another attack, she hastily retreated to her former position.

"What did she say?" questioned Jenny, eagerly.

"That she is going out as a soldier," returned Kitty, trying to preserve a sober face.

"How absurd! You are only laughing at me." "It is true," said Kitty, earnestly.

"Did she say those very words?"

"Well," returned Kitty, thinking a little, "she said she was going to the war."

"As a nurse, of course."

"Well, perhaps it may be that. But the fact is, Jenny, when I was talking with her I felt so nervous that it's no wonder I understood her in such an absurd manner."

Margaret's intention was quickly whispered about among the company, and a few curious glances were directed toward her in consequence. But no one accosted her, and this was all the information which the members of the sewing circle gleaned that day concerning her plans.


A FORTNIGHT later a lady introduced herself to the physician in charge of a large hospital in Washington.

"Miss Thorpe!" he repeated, glancing at the card which she placed in his hand.

Margaret inclined her head.

"I have come," she explained, "to offer my services wherever you can make them available. I have little experience in tending the sick, but I can follow directions."

The doctor let his eyes rest for a moment upon her grave, earnest face. Here was no youthful enthusiast, but a woman mature, self-poised, reliable—one who knew what she had undertaken, and would not shrink however painful the duties imposed upon her.

"Miss Thorpe," he said, "I am obliged daily to decline applications from persons whom I judge to be unsuitable. Unless my discernment is much at fault you will be of great assistance to me, and I gratefully accept your services."

Margaret did not acknowledge the compliment in words. She merely bowed, removed her bonnet and shawl, and said, briefly, "I am ready."

The grave face soon became well known in the hospital wards. More than one wounded sufferer followed with grateful glances her whose hand had cooled his fevered brow, and from whose lips grave words of encouragement had fallen. She devoted herself with special assiduity to those whose suffering was greatest. There was one poor fellow from Vermont, both whose legs had been amputated, who was waiting in the hospital the slow process of healing. Sometimes his courage failed him when he looked forward, and thought from how much his crippled state would cut him off.

"It might have been your life," suggested Margaret.

"Well, there isn't much use in a poor feller like me living, do you think so, Miss?" he said, looking up wistfully into her eyes.

"You have made the sacrifice for your country. Do you regret it?"

The face of the wounded soldier lighted up. "Never, Miss. I'd do it again."

"Then for your country's sake you will bear it bravely. When the war is over, and the Union is restored, in part through your exertions, you will feel repaid fully, will you not?"

"That I shall, Miss Thorpe," said the young man, proudly.

"And you will feel, as long as you live, that you are bearing a life-cross for your country's sake. It will not be easy, but when that thought comes you will not complain."

"Your words have done me good. You must come and talk to me again. I can bear my cross better."

"We all have crosses—some heavier, some lighter. Happy are they who have a compensation like yours."

The soldier looked after her as she glided rapidly from bed to bed in the crowded ward.

"She has her cross, too," he thought. "I wonder what it is."

This was one case—one of many. There are some who diffuse cheerfulness about them without an effort. Margaret Thorpe was not one of these. Her grave face never relaxed into a smile. Yet wherever she went she carried with her an atmosphere of trust and submission which stilled the murmurs of the querulous, raising them to a higher level of patience and a hopeful serenity which permitted Nature to work under more favorable conditions. Much of the effect which her words wrought might be traced to the impression which prevailed that she was one who had known sorrow and been acquainted with grief.

One day there was a large accession of patients. For a time all was bustle and confusion. At length order was restored. "Miss Thorpe," said the doctor, pausing as he met Margaret on the stairs, "there is one young man whom I have had removed to a room by himself. He is sick of a contagious fever. I find a difficulty in obtaining a nurse willing to undertake the charge of him. Yet the poor fellow ought not to be neglected."

"I will take charge of him if you think best," said Margaret, without hesitation.

"I ought to warn you that you will incur danger."

"In the discharge of my duty I shrink from no danger."

"I admire your courage and noble spirit," said the doctor, warmly. With a few necessary directions he left her.

She found her patient delirious. He was a young man, apparently not over twenty years of age. His abundant chestnut hair had been roughly clipped by the doctor's orders, and his face was much flushed. Intent upon her duties as nurse, Margaret did not at first examine his features closely. When she did so she started suddenly and turned quite white. She drew nearer and gazed earnestly in the youth's face. Though seen at disadvantage, it was evident that in health he must have been very handsome. The full blue eye, the fair skin, the open, frank expression of the face, recalled to Margaret another face known long before, and still too well remembered.

"It is very like," she murmured. "If it should be! How mysterious are the workings of Providence!"

Thenceforward she devoted herself with even more than her usual assiduity to the young man's recovery. Had the care been less it is doubtful if the disease would have yielded. With an anxiety which she could not conceal, and a new something in her eyes—was it hope?—Margaret watched for the first sign of a change. At length it came. One afternoon, as the sun was near its setting, her patient opened his eyes.

"Where am I?" he asked, in bewilderment. "You are in a hospital in Washington."

"Have I been sick?"

"Very sick."

"But you think I shall get well?" he asked, anxiously.

"Yesterday I should not have known what to say. To-day I have great hopes of your recovery."

"How long have I been here?"

"It is now ten days."

"And you have taken care of me all that time?"

"Yes; but I fear you are talking too much."




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