Capture of Chattanooga


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, September 26, 1863

This site has an online archive of all the Harper's Weekly newspapers created during the Civil War. This collection allows you to read reports of the war that were created within hours of the events described. These reports will result in new understanding of the key events of the war.

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


Siege of Charleston

Jacksonian Democrat

Jacksonian Democrat


Capture of Chattanooga


Archduke Maximillian of Austria

Execution of Deserters

Execution of Deserters

Jefferson Davis Cartoon

Jefferson Davis Cartoon



Charleston Siege

Siege of Charleston Picture

Assault on Fort Wagner

Fort Moultrie

Bombardment of Fort Moultrie

Execution of Deserters

Execution of Civil War Deserters



SEPTEMBER 26, 1863.]



(Previous Page) International law is the custom of nations. There is no other court of arbitrament than the pleasure of the different governments. If any of them differ upon a point of the law it may be referred to another, or the view of each may be enforced by arms. In all cases it may be truly said that a nation tolerates no international custom which it does not think to be advantageous. Mr. Sumner cites the various occasions upon which Great Britain has intervened in the interest of liberty, sometimes alone, sometimes in concert; but always because, being a liberal government, she considered liberality in other nations safer for herself. Neither Great Britain nor any other nation adopts a policy merely because of its moral value. It is when morality is seen to be allied to interest that the interest is sought and the morality pretended. Mr. Sumner quotes Wilberforce as saying that Great Britain had been a commercial gainer by an anti-slavery policy. Unquestionably she has been. But without the security of commercial gain or political power would she have been an anti-slavery nation?

There is no more selfish nationality than the British. Mr. Roebuck stated the British principle precisely when he said at Sheffield: "Whatever is for the interest of Great Britain is for the interest of the world." The question in our foreign relations, therefore, as regards England is, what does she think her interest requires? Mr. Sumner shows us how steadfastly she has stood for increasing freedom in every State, but certainly William Pitt quietly assented to what the Senator calls the greatest political crime of the last century, the partition of Poland; and William Pitt was England. When Fox reproached him Pitt said: "In general policy I am ready to confess that this partition is unjust." Still he assented. It is not, therefore, Whether it is wrong to recognize the rebels as a power, nor whether it has been her habit to do so, nor whether it will help found a new barbarous power, which Great Britain will consider, but whether it is for her commercial and political advantage to see this country ruined and its government overthrown. Great Britain, which has maintained an anti-slavery policy, and France, which boasts of "ideas" and submits to Louis Napoleon, will do exactly what they think their interest demands. And if their action is entirely opposed to their traditions, they will decorate it with as fine a name as they have hitherto bestowed upon a course diametrically opposite.

Of course we do not say that moral considerations have no influence upon national action, for they are the ultimate source of all true national progress. And it is undeniable that the greatest political philosophers and the wisest men see that justice is coincident with interest. But such men are felt slowly and remotely in public affairs. They influence public opinion, and public opinion at length controls national action. Mr. Sumner's speech is a noble appeal to that higher reason which conducts human affairs. But it does not directly tell us whether we are likely to have a foreign war.


OUR friend Governor Horatio Seymour has been making another speech. It is remarkable that when nothing was to be saved but the country, Mr. Seymour declared that the Government had no power to "coerce" rebels, and that when the rebels began to coerce the Government Mr. Seymour retired to the frontier of Minnesota. But when Mr. Fernando Wood put him upon his feet as a candidate for Governor, and his political prospects were to be saved, he found his tongue, and used it to say that the loyal citizens had brought the war upon themselves, and that there was very good reason for the conduct of the rebels. And now that there is hope of helping his prospects still farther, Mr. Seymour makes speeches and writes letters without end. Indeed he has done so much of this work that the Herald, which worked very hard for his election, now says, "He can talk more without saying any thing, and write more without meaning any thing, than any other man we know."

His latest speech up to the time of this writing was before the Democratic Convention at Albany, in which he demanded "a conciliatory policy." What do he and men like him mean by conciliation? There is an enormous conspiracy against the Government. For two years it has made bloody war. Its intention is frankly expressed, its object plainly defined. It aims at a dissolution of the Union by means of forcible revolution. Mr. Seymour proposes "conciliation." The rebels demand separation because of what they allege to be a radical and essential incompatibility, and Mr. Seymour suggests "conciliation." They refuse to obey laws which even Horatio Seymour can not call unconstitutional, and he turns to the Government—that is, to the people of the country—and says, "Let's conciliate." In the same manner and upon the same principle, when the brute mob of New York, inflamed by him and his partisans, were burning and murdering defenseless houses and persons, the same Mr. Seymour called them, still reeking with innocent blood, "My friends," and then makes a jest of the phrase in his Albany speech.

What does he mean by "conciliation" to rebels who not only have not asked for it, but who laugh at him for suggesting it? The only "conciliation" possible is to yield to some of the rebel demands. Citizens refuse to obey the law. They resist it with blood. The Government is advised to say, "My friends, don't do so. Please to let us know the conditions on which you will obey." The adviser considers himself "a statesman" for proposing such a course, and his name is Horatio Seymour.

Mr. Seymour will remember that his political and patriotic sponsor, Mr. Fernando Wood, made the most servile apology to Robert Toombs and the State of Georgia because he could not prevent the seizure of arms intended, as Mr. Wood knew, to slay loyal citizens of the United States. Mr. Robert Toombs is one of the ringleaders of the rebellion to which Mr. Seymour offers "conciliation,"

and on the day after the offer was suggested Mr. Toombs's letter was printed, in which he says: "I can conceive of no extremity to which my country could be reduced in which I would for a single moment entertain any proposition for any union with the North on any terms whatever." Now it is for the sake of establishing a new political partnership with Toombs, Davis, & Co., that Mr. Seymour makes his proposition. "Just stop fighting a moment," he says to Toombs, "and make me President, and you shall have every thing you want." Unluckily for him, and not to put too fine a point upon it, Toombs spits in his face.

What does his Excellency think of his chances of "conciliation?" Let him ponder whether it was Seymour's saying and acting "My friends," or the rifles and howitzers that put down the riot.


THE Albany Democratic resolutions say that, in view of the recent loyal manifestations in North Carolina and elsewhere, "a policy of conciliation" should be adopted. But the Convention forgot to consider a very important and conclusive point. It is, whether any rebel desiring to lay down his arms and return to his allegiance has been prevented by the Government from doing so. If not, how can the Government "conciliate" him? If he has been prevented, where and when? As for the States in rebellion, they are a unit. When any one of them submits to the laws it will receive their protection. But the return of one State from the rebellion to its allegiance is like the surrender of a single brigade in a battle. The opposing General does not stop fighting until all are conquered or all have surrendered. When the rebellious citizens of the United States who live in the State of North Carolina submit to the Government they will leave citizens in Georgia still rebellious. If you say that an amnesty to the Carolinians will cause the Georgians to lay down their arms, the answer is plain enough, as Mr. Lincoln says—when the citizens cease to rebel it will be time enough to talk about amnesty.

Coaxing rebels to obey the laws may be a pretty policy for a party in extremity to suggest. But the people of the country have shown that they do not mean to coax but to coerce rebels; and they will go on crushing, not conciliating, rebellion.


ONE of the Copperhead papers, with a complacency which could be found only in a dull devotee of the absurdity that there are no human rights whatever, speaks of the "twin crimes of Abolition and Secession." Why did it not complete the list of similar twins? There are, for instance, the twin crimes of parricide and filial affection; of incest and wedlock; of arson and humanity; of burglary and charity; of honor and treachery; of truth and falsehood; of murder and self-sacrifice; of decency and indecency; of temperance and drunkenness; of right and wrong. By the same wise classification we have also the twin criminals Lucrezia Borgia and Florence Nightingale, Tamerlane and John Howard; Washington and Benedict Arnold; Touissant L'Ouverture and Gordon, Aaron Burr and Hamilton; Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln; Robert Smalls and Robert Toombs; Morgan and Theodore Winthrop; Quantrell and Robert Shaw.

The Copperhead philosophers base their claim to conservative patriotism upon their denial of the fundamental principle of our Government and civilization—as if disbelief in God and the devil proved a man to be sincerely religious.


Two days after losing his leg at the battle of Fair Oaks one of our German Volunteers consoled himself as follows. The Lounger is indebted to "Constant Reader" in Baltimore for the MS.


Good leg, thou wast a faithful friend,

And truly hast thy duty done;

I thank thee most that, to the end,

Thou didst not let the body run.


Strange paradox, that in the fight

Where I of thee was thus bereft

I lost my left leg for the Right,

And yet the right's the one that's left.


But while the sturdy stump remains

I may be able yet to patch it;

For even now I've taken pains

To make an L-e-g to match it.


GENERAL GILMORE has been appointed Major-General of Volunteers, in consideration of his services before Charleston.

General RIPLEY, Chief of the Ordnance Bureau, has retired from that position. Colonel RAMSAY, late of the Washington Arsenal, assumes charge of the bureau temporarily; and Captain BENTON, of the Ordnance Department, has been appointed to the command of the Washington Arsenal.

The trial of Captain C. M. LEVY, Quarter-master, was commenced before General HOUGH'S Court-martial last week. He is charged with having defrauded the Government by fraudulent vouchers for the pay of the employes in his department. His friends are confident that the charges will be explained or refuted.

Major FALLS, First Pennsylvania Cavalry, has been ordered to report to General HATCH, at Philadelphia.

Lieutenant JAMES STEWART, Battery B, Fourth Artillery, has been promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant in the same regiment. He remains, however, in command of his old battery, one of the most effective in the service.

Captain JOHN RODGERS has been detached, sick, from the command of the Canonicus, and is waiting for orders.

Commander E. G. PARROTT has been detached from the command of the Augusta, and ordered to the command of the Canonicus.

Lieutenant A. T. MACKENZIE'S orders to the Naval Academy have been revoked, and he is ordered to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

Lieutenant-Commander RICHARD W. MEADE has been detached from the Ordnance Department at New York, and ordered to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

Dr. DRENAN, of the gun-boat Commodore Jones, was shot on the night of 12th in Norfolk by a sentinel. He started in a boat from Kimberly's wharf to cross over to the Naval Hospital, when he was hailed by the sentinel. Not hearing him, he kept on his way until he was shot and very dangerously wounded.

Captain RYAN, formerly Assistant Adjutant-General to General SYKES, has been appointed Colonel of the One Hundred and Forty-sixth Regiment New York Volunteers.

Colonel FOWLER; of the Sixty-fifth New York Volunteers, has been dismissed from the service.

Captain A. M. PENNOCK, Fleet Captain of the Mississippi squadron, and Commandant of the naval depot at Cairo, Illinois, has arrived at Washington on a short leave of absence.

General HOOKER, it is reported, is about to be assigned to an important command.

A great number of staff officers have recently been mustered out of service, including nearly every member of General SIGEL'S staff. The General still remains at Reading, Pennsylvania.

A new Monitor, the Tecumseh, was launched at Jersey City on 12th. She is 220 feet long, 45 beam, 12 depth of hold, and 7 1/2 draught.

Commander GUEST has been ordered to the command of the Galatea, and Lieutenant-Commander FLEMMING to the Sagamore.

Captain WEBSTER, of the ship Constitution, captured by the privateer Georgia, says that his vessel was taken on the 25th of June, in lat. 20° 31' south, long. 29° 16' west. The pirate was commanded by Captain MAURY, who was wet-nursed at the United States Treasury for thirty years. The prize-crew plundered the Constitution, robbing the men of their private property. On the 28th of June the pirate captured and bonded the ship City of Baltimore.

General BARRY, Chief of Artillery, has been ordered on a tour of inspection.

The official orders detailing Generals MEIGS, HAMMOND, and BARRY, away from their Bureaus are similarly worded, and do not convey the impression that the officers referred to are to be permanently relieved.

Colonel SANBORN, of the Fourth Minnesota Volunteers, was last week made Brigadier-General.

The Hon. D. W. VOORHEES, member of Congress from Indiana, the friend and champion of Vallandigham, was roughly treated by some soldiers on a train of cars on 12th. They wanted to hang him, but the officers protected him; the soldiers, however, forced him to leave the train before he reached his destination.





Major-General H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief:

GENERAL,—I have the honor to report that Fort Wagner and Battery Gregg are ours. Last night our sappers crowned the crest of the counterscarp of Fort Wagner on its sea front, masking all its guns; and an order was issued to carry the place by assault at nine o'clock this morning, this being the hour of low tide.

About ten o'clock last night the enemy commenced evacuating the island, and all but seventy-five of them made their escape from Cumming's Point in small boats.

Captured dispatches show that Fort Wagner was commanded by Colonel Keitt, of South Carolina, and garrisoned by fourteen hundred effective men; and Battery Gregg by between one and two hundred.

Fort Wagner is a work of the most formidable kind. Its bomb-proof shelter, capable of holding eighteen hundred men, remains intact after the most terrible bombardment to which any work was ever subjected. We have captured nineteen pieces of artillery and a large supply of excellent ammunition.

The city and harbor of Charleston are now completely covered by my guns.

I have the honor to be, General, very respectfully your obedient servant,

Q. A. GILMORE, Brigadier-General Commanding.


The Weehawken, while making an attack on Fort Moultrie, which resulted in a terrible explosion, got aground, and had to receive a terrific fire from a hundred rebel guns. The Ironsides, however, came to the rescue, assisted by the Monitors, and poured an overwhelming fire into Moultrie and all the other batteries in turn and silenced for a time the guns of each. She fought the fight gloriously for five hours, and retired after inflicting serious damage upon all her assailants, being herself unhurt. The Weehawken subsequently got off without damage.


An assault by our boats—nearly thirty in number—was made on Fort Sumter on the night of the 8th, but it proved unsuccessful. The flotilla was manned by two hundred sailors and marines, under command of Lieutenant Williams, of the Wissahickon, and Captain Stevens, of the Patapsco. Upon attempting to land they were fired upon by musketry, and upon a given signal all the rebel batteries which could bear upon Sumter, together with the broadsides of two rebel vessels, were opened upon the devoted boats. Fifteen officers, who had landed on the fort, were captured. Three boats were knocked in pieces, and eighty sailors and marines were killed or wounded. The Richmond Enquirer of the 11th confirms this account in substance, claiming, in addition, the capture of four boats and three colors. Our officers are held prisoners in Fort Sumter.


It is stated that a special message was recently forwarded to Washington by General Gilmore, asking for instructions as to the shelling of Charleston, and that he was ordered to continue the bombardment until the city surrendered.


The latest dates from Charleston are to Saturday, the 12th instant, at eight o'clock in the evening, by the United States transport Nellie Pentz, which arrived at Fortress Monroe on 15th. Before the transport left Hilton Head the relief-boat Cosmopolitan had arrived from Morris Island with the news that a white flag was flying over Fort Moultrie, that our troops had possession of a large portion of James Island, and that two Monitors were lying between Forts Sumter and Moultrie. This was the condition of affairs on Friday evening. When the Nellie Pentz was passing Charleston bar, at four o'clock on Saturday afternoon, the captain saw a white flag flying from the walls of Moultrie. It was said that the fort fired its last gun at four o'clock on Friday.


CAMP NEAR TRENTON, Sept 9, 8.30 P.M.

Major-General H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief:

Chattanooga is ours without a struggle, and East Tennessee is free. Our move on the enemy's flank and rear progresses, while the tail of his retreating column will not escape unmolested. Our troops from this side entered Chattanooga about noon. Those north of the river there are crossing. W. S. ROSECRANS,



Dispatches dated Chattanooga, September 9, say:

Generals Wood and Wagner entered this city at eleven A.M. The enemy's rear-guard—Pegram's cavalry—left an hour before. We have taken two steamboats, one horse-boat, and thirty pontoons, very few stores, and no artillery or prisoners, The rebel works are very strong. The casualties of the whole expedition are just one man killed. Bragg discovered the flanking movements of McCook and Thomas on Monday night, and immediately began to withdraw

his troops upon the road to Rome. Johnston had reinforced him with two divisions.

CHATTANOOGA, September 10.

General Rosecrans entered this city to-day. Archbishop Purcell, of Cincinnati, is celebrating mass in the cathedral at his request. Nearly all the citizens left three weeks ago, with their household goods. Very few returned.


CUMBERLAND GAP, TENN., Sept. 9, 1863. Major-General Halleck, General-in-Chief:

I have telegraphed you our movements up to the occupation of Knoxville by our forces. Since then a cavalry force has been sent up the railroad to within a few miles of Bristol, capturing some three locomotives and twenty odd cars. Another force, composed of two regiments of infantry and two regiments of cavalry, I brought to this place in person to reinforce General Shackleford, who was here with two regiments of cavalry, Colonel De Courcy being on the Kentucky side with a brigade which I started in that direction before leaving Kentucky. The infantry brigade marched from Knoxville to this place—sixty miles—in fifty-two hours. The garrison here, consisting of over two thousand men and fourteen pieces of artillery, made an unconditional surrender at three P.M. to-day without a fight.

A. E. BURNSIDE, Major-General.


The details of the advance, the fight, and the victory of General Pleasanton's cavalry—under Generals Buford, Kilpatrick, and Gregg—at Culpepper, on Sunday, show that it was not only a brilliant but an important affair, and may probably be regarded as the advance movement of General Meade's army. The cavalry crossed the Rappahannock and reached the banks of the Rapidan; came into collision with Stuart's cavalry and the light artillery of the enemy, and, after a series of skirmishes, drove them from point to point until they reached Culpepper, through which town they charged, driving the rebels before them, and capturing over one hundred prisoners and three guns, two 12-pounders and one 6-pounder. A large quantity of ordnance stores were found in the railroad depot at Culpepper, the guns being of English make, with sabre bayonets attached. General Buford's division followed up the enemy beyond Cedar Mountain, and encamped on the banks of the Rapidan.


The rebels have evacuated Little Rock, and retired forty miles westward to Fort Washington. Official intelligence of the capture of Fort Smith, Arkansas, was received at Leavenworth last week. The rebels, four thousand strong, under Generals Cooper and Cabell, fled before General Blunt, and dispersed in all directions. General Davidson met the rebels at Bayou Metre, nine miles from Little Rock, on the 27th ult., and drove them across the creek. The rebels, who were three thousand strong, burned the bridge behind them and betook themselves to the woods. The abandonment of Little Rock must have immediately followed this movement.


The President has issued a proclamation suspending the writ of habeas corpus in all cases where, by the authority of the President, military, naval, and civil officers of the United States, or any of them, hold persons under their command or in their custody, either as prisoners of war, spies, or aiders or abettors of the enemy, or officers, soldiers, or seamen enrolled, drafted, mustered, or enlisted in the land or naval forces of the United States, or deserters therefrom, or otherwise amenable to military law, etc. The authority of all civil courts in these cases is thus set aside, and military rule placed above it; and the proclamation of the President is declared to be continued in force throughout the duration of the war, or until Mr. Lincoln shall see fit to revoke it.


The Richmond Enquirer of the 11th instant says: The office, type, and presses of the Raleigh (N. C.) Standard, edited by William Holden, have been destroyed by a party of Georgia soldiers. Mr. Holden was in Petersburg at the time. In return for this outrage the citizens and friends of the Standard destroyed the office of the State Journal. Governor Vance reached the spot after the work of destruction was nearly completed, and begged the crowd to desist, rebuking them for the act, and telling them that no such example had been set in "Lincoln's dominions."


Letters from General Foster's Department in North Carolina show how rapidly the Union sentiments of the people are growing. Meetings have been held in different parts of the State in support of the Raleigh Standard, whose loyal opinions have provoked the recent attack of the rebel soldiers.


A dispatch from Memphis says that a fearful riot occurred in Mobile on the 4th instant. A party of soldiers' wives, to the number of six hundred, paraded the city, with exciting mottoes on their banners, such as "Bread or Peace." The soldiers offered no opposition to the display, but in some instances the citizens attempted to arrest the progress of the procession. Intense excitement prevailed.


The Charleston Mercury has a savage article on Jeff Davis. It says that he has lost the confidence of both the army and the people.



EARL RUSSEL has replied to the memorial of the Emancipation Society praying for the detention of the rebel rams at Liverpool under the Foreign Enlistment act. He says that the subject of the building of these vessels had long engaged the attention of the Government, but in order to detain them under the act ministers must have proof "both of equipment and the intention" to make war on a friendly Power. The memorialists do not offer to give any proof, but merely say they are "informed" of to and so, and "believe" so and so. Under British law prosecutions can not be undertaken without "affidavits of creditable witnesses, as in cases of misdemeanor and crimes."



The Paris Moniteur defends the admission of the pirate Florida to the dock-yard at Brest to repair damages to her sailing power, but not to ship material to enable her to fight. The Emperor having recognized the Confederates as belligerents, her reception for repairs is "according to the ordinary principles of international law."



The leading journals of Vienna are taking a strong position against the acceptance of the throne of Mexico by the Archduke Maximilian. The Vienna Presse says, Napoleon never would have proposed a throne but that he believed in the triumph of the Southern rebels, and now when "the overthrow of secession is as good as decided," he wishes to plant some prince on it, then withdraw the French army and leave him to his fate.



Our latest news from the city of Mexico, by way of San Francisco, is to the 16th ult. The triumvirate had notified the representatives of foreign Powers that a legal government had been established in Mexico, and required a recognition of the powers vested in them. The ministers of the United States and of Central America, however, replied that they should continue to recognize the Juarez government until they received instructions from home.




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