British Pirates


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, September 19, 1863

Welcome to our online collection of Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers. This collection contains a wealth of original material on the war. Reading the news that was written within hours of the battles and events can yield new insight into this important event in American History.

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


Trenton Falls

Trenton Falls

British Pirates

British Pirates

Capture of Knoxville

Charleston Siege

Quantrill's Destruction of Lawrence Kansas

Brandy Station

Battle of Brandy Station

Remington Advertisement



Siege of Charleston

Lawrence Kansas Ruins

Lawrence, Kansas Ruins

Warrenton Sulphur Springs

Warrenton Sulphur Springs, Virginia

Southern Exiles

Southern Exiles




[SEPTEMBER 19, 1863.



Two men went out from the fire-lit camp

In the autumn midnight gray;

Over the quaking, croaking swamp

To the edge of the woodland still and damp

With rifle and spade went they.


A hunting owl wailed out to its young,

And a picket stood as still

In the meadow below as the shadows flung

By the beaded tent lights thickly strung

On the silver-threaded rill.


'Twas long ere the picket moved away,

And there was no time to lose;

The pits must be dug by the dawn of day:—

Said one, "We are digging graves, I say;"

And the other whispered, "Whose?"


With the morning light a column of steel

Moved upward along the hill

Toward the hidden pits, but a double peal

Close in the front made the column reel

A moment, and then stand still.


The check won a battle-field that day;

On the morrow the dead were laid

Head to foot in a trench of clay,

But two apart in the front that lay

Were buried without a spade.



IT is pretty generally understood that General Lee is massing his forces for a third raid into Maryland and Pennsylvania. Rumor states—with considerable plausibility—that the rebel armies under Bragg, Johnson, and Pemberton have been stripped of men to swell the invading force from Virginia. The losses at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg have been fully repaired, and it seems not unlikely that before the end of the month General Lee may lead 125,000 or 150,000 veterans across the Potomac to the familiar plains of Southern Pennsylvania. What is likely to be the result?

We have three armies co-operating with each other on what may be termed the field of operations. General Meade is in face of Lee with an army which is being swelled daily by arrivals of conscripts, and by the release of the forces which Governor Seymour's party political trickery kept here for the enforcement of the draft. General Rosecrans, with an army as large as can be manoevred on any ordinary battle-field, to say nothing of a large corps under Burnside acting in concert with him, is crossing the Tennessee, and taking ground in Northern Alabama, and Eastern Georgia and Tennessee. General Grant, who has arrived at New Orleans, is massing his splendid veteran army for operations in Southern Alabama and Mississippi, and may be heard from, perhaps, before these lines are read. We have two more armies under Banks and Gilmore, which are operating with vigor in their respective spheres; but as their movements have no direct bearing on the probable issue of another campaign in Maryland or Pennsylvania, we pass them over for the present.

Now, if Lee takes advantage of the cool weather of September to move northward, as the necessities of the position will probably compel him to do, the policy of General Meade will be very obvious. It will be that of General Hooker—retreat. No opposition will be made to Lee's passage of the Potomac. He will not be met any where on the way. He will be allowed to enter Maryland and Southern Pennsylvania at his leisure. The exemplary patriots who charged our volunteers six cents a glass for water, and of whom only one man in a whole village or town volunteered to fight against the invader, will be permitted to enjoy the society of the rebels to their heart's content. The banks of the Susquehanna, Pittsburg, and one or two other points north will be fortified by way of setting some limit to Lee's march. But he will be suffered to get his army deeper into the Free States than he has ever yet penetrated. As soon as he has pushed to a reasonable point north his Southern communications will be cut. The Army of the Potomac will take position south of him, while fortified places, garrisoned by Northern militia, will shut him off from further movement northward. The result of this strategy, which was plainly drawn out at the War Department by General Hooker, will be a battle in which the odds will be enormously against the rebels, and in which their defeat will involve the surrender of their army.

Meanwhile General Grant will be taking care of Mobile, the fall of which—if properly attacked by land and sea—can not be a matter of doubt; and Generals Rosecrans and Burnside, penetrating the rebel country by way of Chattanooga and Knoxville, will complete its bisection east and west as Grant and Banks have bisected it north and south. Charleston is now as seriously menaced by Rosecrans as by Gilmore. If

Chattanooga falls—and Burnside's operations, combined with those of Rosecrans, seem to render its fall certain—Rome and Atlanta follow, and Charleston stands defenseless on the land side.

Altogether, the fall campaign opens promisingly, and though the ultimate issue is in the hand of the God of battles, we think we are entitled to hope much.


THE British have launched another pirate, iron-clad this time, intended to prey upon American commerce, and to drive American vessels out of the carrying trade for the benefit of British bottoms. The craft is said to have got to sea. Her commander is a Southerner, but her crew, like herself, are British, and she is as thoroughly an English vessel as the Warrior or the Agamemnon.

It is suggested that she will come to New York to bombard the city. We deem it very likely. We can not help thinking that the Florida and Alabama showed a want of pluck in not coming here before. New York is comparatively defenseless. A British pirate might steam up our bay, under cover of night, destroy half the city with shells in three or four hours, and escape scathless before morning. Steam and long-range artillery have changed the nature of maritime warfare, and no sea-board city is safe. We might safely bombard Liverpool or Southampton, and escape, if we, like the British, had taken to the piratical business. As it is, there is no good reason why the new iron-clad should not avenge upon New York or Boston the destruction of Charleston, and the chances are that she will.

Various suggestions have been made in the papers in view of such an event. One journal proposes war, instant and immediate. Another advises a confiscation of British property. Others commend forbearance.

We will not embarrass the Administration by any recommendations on the subject. No man who has carefully and honestly watched the course of the Government can doubt that the President is jealously alive to the necessity of protecting our interests against foreign nations. And no one but the President really understands whether or no we can at the present time super-add a foreign war to the civil contest in which we are engaged. If, therefore, Mr. Lincoln should determine to endure the bombardment, by a British vessel, of New York or Boston, without retaliation, it will be safe to conclude that we are not in a position to retaliate. But if, on the other hand, he should direct that such an outrage should be instantly avenged by the seizure of every British vessel in American waters, and the instant dismissal of every British subject from American soil, he may rely upon it that, at any cost, the American people would sustain him.



IN a late article signed B. J. L. there is a very clear statement of one view of the relations of the National Government to the rebellion. The doctrine of the article is, that unless the rebellion wholly succeeds it fails entirely; that the Union has not been affected unless it is destroyed; and that, of course, no State has ever "gone away." The Constitution of certain States has been overpowered by rebels, just as the authorities of the city of New York were defied, and the laws, for a time, were paralyzed during the riot. When the riot was conquered the laws resumed their sway without conditions or "reconstruction." So it will be with the Constitutions of the States when the rebellion is subdued.

In this view the author allows that the States may continue to hold slaves and make slavery legal within their limits. But such State laws must apply to new persons, because all the persons who are now enslaved were, with some exceptions, freed by the Proclamation. If South Carolina wishes to hold slaves hereafter she must buy them in Kentucky, Tennessee, or in some part of the district excepted from the emancipation order. But be concludes that this is impossible. The practical re-establishment of slavery among a population wholly free will not be attempted.

The objection to this view is that it deprives the Government of the power of securing peace. When, for instance, the rebels are conquered in Virginia, does the State Constitution become operative by the mere fact that arms have been laid down? If so, and all who are voters under that instrument may at once send members to Congress, what have we gained by the war but a reopening of the struggle? On the other hand, if the National Government insists that no one shall vote in Virginia who has not taken an oath prescribed by itself, then the Constitution of Virginia does not resume its functions.

To assume that the men now in rebellion, because they may be overcome by superior force, are therefore at once loyal and safe citizens, is impossible. The body of the people of the rebel section are in insurrection. War exists between them and the Government, and the war is waged by all the means and upon all the terms of war. By the necessity of the case the whole population is treated as belligerent, exactly as all Englishmen would be in case of war between America and England, however friendly some Englishmen might feel. Upon

what other ground does the Proclamation rest? If the rebels are individuals, and not a community, why are the slaves of the community, and not of the rebel proprietors alone, emancipated? Clearly the same right which the Government unquestionably has to emancipate the slaves of a hostile community for its assistance in time of war, it has to secure peace when it has conquered the enemy, upon such conditions as it considers wise. It may insist upon guarantees exactly as it would in treating with a foreign power. For, practically—so far as fighting and the course of war are concerned—the rebels have been a foreign power. If the war had been with English or French troops in possession of the Southern section, it would be conducted exactly as it is to-day. Therefore, when the military force of the insurrection is subdued, the United States Government will rightfully hold the rebel section by the strong hand until it is satisfied that there is no danger to its peace; and it must itself be the judge of its own satisfaction.

If some such general view be not the true one then the Government can deal with the rebels merely as rioters. But it has long since relinquished that position. The Supreme Court held, and Judge Taney did not dissent, that since July, 1861, a state of war has existed. Thus what was a matter of fact has become also a matter of law.

Nor does this view authorize other conditions than submission to the Constitution; for the emancipation edict being, as the President and the best authorities hold, "in pursuance" of the Constitution, it secures the condition which would be otherwise imposed as the security of peace. But the edict does, so far as the present slaves are concerned, conflict with the State constitutions and laws which recognize slavery. It is not true, therefore, that those constitutions and laws are merely dormant, and upon the submission of the rebellious citizens will resume all their force; because all the persons now known to those laws as slaves have been freed by a power beyond the States.

Whether such States will have the power under their constitutions to establish slavery hereafter is a question to be hereafter considered. We agree entirely with B. J. L., that they are not likely to try the experiment. We agree with him also that "the National Government will have no more right to interfere with the constitution and laws of South Carolina when her people shall become loyal and obedient members of the Republic, after the rebellion, than before." But does not this very statement imply that the Government has the right during the rebellion? And if so, how can it be said that the State constitution is "utterly untouched in all its essential elements?"

The more thoroughly the question is considered, and in the calm and careful spirit of B. J. L., the better for the country now and always.


THE editorial article in the last number of the Weekly upon "The Mexican Empire," stated very clearly the deliberate insult offered to this country by Louis Napoleon in putting his foot upon the Monroe doctrine, and the ultimate tendency of the French occupation of Mexico to destroy the Mexican church. Meanwhile, in pursuance of the French policy, we ought not to be surprised by an early recognition of "the Confederacy" by the Emperor, unless we suppose that he means to abandon his Mexican project. If he does not, he knows perfectly well that the United States can not look quietly on while France plants herself at our frontier upon the ruins of a power friendly to us. What then is his probable and wisest course?

He came to Mexico because he supposed the destruction of this Government only a question of time. His agent in this country, M. Mercier, is the most faithful friend and well-wisher of the rebels, and the rebel agent in France, Mr. Slidell, has been upon the friendliest terms with the Emperor. From these persons he has constantly heard what he wished to believe. Under pretense of securing the French debt he sent an army to Mexico, in the expectation that it would be victorious at the same time with the rebellion. The first necessity of the new Confederacy would be a strong alliance, and France would be at hand and quite ready. Of course so long as the rebels were fighting successfully there was no need of discussing recognition. That could come when the parent government owned its defeat, or when it was evidently defeated. But now that the triumph of the rebellion, which is essential to his scheme, becomes doubtful, what must he do but relinquish the scheme or improve its prospects of success, and how can he do this more fully at the present time than by recognizing the Confederacy? War with the United States, he will say, is certain if I do not leave Mexico. But I mean to stay in Mexico. Is it, therefore, not wiser for me to risk war with the United States when both their hands are engaged than when they are free?

Besides this, French recognition would give the utmost moral support to the rebellion, and throw upon us the responsibility of declaring war, while it would certainly delight England and open the way for all foreign powers to follow.

Meanwhile one war at a time is enough. If the "midnight conspirator" who sits upon the throne of France should think it essential to his plans in Mexico to strengthen the rebel chance of success by offering a moral support which will imply material aid when necessary, we could not alter our present course and purpose. But because we have had no serious foreign trouble we ought not to suppose that we may have none. The best way to meet it is to expect it. Forewarned is forearmed.


A FRIEND in Philadelphia sends a little pamphlet, which has been widely circulated, urging upon all faithful citizens the duty of active participation in the primary meetings, and adds to some excellent suggestions of his own the agreeable fact that at the late ward meetings in Philadelphia a

class of men were present who have hitherto abstained from all part in them.

The war, it is certain, will teach us many things. Not the least important of them will be the truth, that we shall have saved the Government in vain if we do not with the same spirit purify its operation. The premium which a despotic Government offers to every man is personal freedom from the annoyance of its management. The price that every citizen in a Republic must pay for its perpetuity is his willing share in the duties and vexations of its operation. Do we get any thing in the world without paying the fullest price for it; and do we soberly expect to have the greatest public blessing of all, a good Government, for nothing? And the officers of that Government are not elected at the polls, they are elected at the caucus which puts into our hands the ballots we are to use at the polls. It is in vain that you come to the polls declaring that neither John of the one party nor James of the other are fit men for the office, but that Joseph is precisely the man. Your choice practically lies between John and James. You may vote for Joseph, but only to increase the majority of a candidate you think unfit.

The work of this Government is done at the primary meetings. You say that they are made up of bruisers, blackguards, and ruffians, and you will have nothing to do with them. When you say it you deliberately abdicate your duty as an American citizen, and so far as you are concerned you take care that the Government shall be in the hands of rascals and bullies. If you are not willing to take off your slippers—to hire a horse, if you live in the country—to drive a few miles in the cold or heat—to see and hear and smell disagreeable people—to argue with stupidity and to bear with prejudice, you are not fit to be a citizen of a republic. If you are a farmer, and think your corn will be weeded if you stay in the house for fear of dirtying your fingers, when harvest comes every stook of your miserable crop will cry Fool, fool! If you are a citizen, and think Government takes care of itself, your increased taxes, your complicated burdens, growing crime, disorder, and civil war will cry Fool, fool! to you from every lost right, and every guarantee of peace overthrown.

It is not labor which you can honorably escape, because it can not be done by another. Every man breathes for himself, and he votes for himself. The duty can not be delegated, because every man's vote is wanted; and when you reflect upon the machinery of a primary meeting as it is now managed, upon the character of the men in most districts who control it, and upon the miserable part of dummy which is left to the voter at the polls, your indignation, if not your patriotism, may be aroused.

Another day we shall return to these points, and often to the general subject.


THE chivalric Quantrill did at Lawrence, in Kansas, upon a large scale, what has been done every where in the war upon a large and small scale by the chivalry. The ardent children of the sunny South, whether whittling bones into bracelets, or scooping skulls into cups, or shooting negroes by the light of a lantern, or hanging and torturing Union men, or devastating and massacring at Lawrence, or shelling a town, as in the following account, before demanding its surrender, show the same fine sense of honor, and the same noble impetuosity, gallantry, and high spirit which have always marked their conduct in Congress and society


SIR,—In your account of the shelling of Carlisle by the rebels, in your paper of July 25, you mistake in saying they sent in several flags of truce to General Smith, asking the surrender of the town, before commencing the bombardment. No flag of truce was sent in until the shelling had commenced some time.

It was but one of the many chivalrous acts which they were the authors of during their stay in our valley. Hoping you will make the correction, I remain, etc.,



IF any timid soul nervously asks whether he may not take the veracious Beauregard's word and believe General Gilmore to be a barbarian and a monster, it read the General's letter to the Spanish Consul in Charleston, who was solicitous for the safety of his fellow-countrymen in that city. For what purpose did the veracious Beauregard and the Spanish Consul and other people in Charleston suppose that Gilmore was battering Sumter and Wagner? Did they fancy that his object was Morris Island? Not at all. They knew that it was the city, and that it was their duty, if they disliked shells and cannon-half, to depart. But the amiable gentry who are fighting for the inestimable right of whipping women, flaying men, and breeding babies for sale, preferred a fling of "inhumanity" against the General who was so wicked as to use guns that threw shells five miles. So the commander says, quietly:

"I had supposed that ample time had been given for this purpose [of departure]. The commencement of the attack on the defenses of Charleston, some forty days ago, is recorded as having given plain and emphatic warning that the city might be fired on at any time."


THE rebel Maury, in a letter to the London Times, says that "New York is becoming the champion of States Rights, and to that extent is taking the Southern ground."

Under whose auspices is it taking the rebel ground? Horatio Seymour's.

Whose election was hailed by the rebels as a good augury for their success? Horatio Seymour's.

Whose nomination did Fernando Wood, notoriously disloyal, enthusiastically support? Horatio Seymour's.

Whose speeches have constantly thrown the (Next Page)




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