Execution of Deserters


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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) practicable to sketch many places that must certainly have gone unpictured had one been forced to rely upon unaided eyesight.

"This view of Fort Johnson and its surroundings is not only interesting but picturesque, and since it is known that the rebels rely almost entirely for the defense of Charleston upon sand-works of this kind, these views assume an interest that they have been hitherto devoid of."


WE devote two pages this week to an illustration of the Army of the Potomac, from a sketch by our special artist, Mr. A. R. Waud. On pages 616 and 617 we give


Mr. Waud writes: "The crime of desertion has been one of the greatest drawbacks to our army. If the men who have deserted their flag had but been present on more than one occasion defeat would have been victory, and victory the destruction of the enemy. It may be therefore fairly asserted that desertion is the greatest crime of the soldier, and no punishment too severe for the offense. But the dislike to kill in cold blood—a Northern characteristic—the undue exercise of executive clemency, and in fact the very magnitude and vast spread of the offense, has prevented the proper punishment being applied. That is past; now the very necessity of saving life will cause the severest penalties to be rigorously exacted. The picture represents the men who were sentenced to death in the Fifth Corps for desertion at the moment of their execution. Some of these had enlisted, pocketed the bounty, and deserted again and again. The sentence of death being so seldom enforced they considered it a safe game. They all suffered terribly mentally, and as they marched to their own funeral they staggered with mortal agony like a drunken man. Through the corps, ranged in hushed masses on the hill-side, the procession moved to a funeral march, the culprits walking each behind his own coffin. On reaching the grave they were, as usual, seated on their coffins; the priests made short prayers; their eyes were bandaged; and with a precision worthy of praise for its humanity, the orders were given and the volley fired which launched them into eternity. They died instantly, although one sat up nearly a minute after the firing; and there is no doubt that their death has had a very salutary influence on discipline."


A TUNE that keeps no earthly time or measure,

Rising and falling at the wind's wild pleasure;

Now quick in haste, now slow in languid leisure,

But always very musically sweet,

And always sad. No little childish feet

To its soft cadence dance along the street;


No little childish voice breaks into singing,

By a glad impulse, like a wild bird flinging

An echo to the sound the wind is bringing:


Rather the child, although scarce knowing why,

Hearing this music, passes slowly by,

And breathes its fear and wonder in a sigh.


"I PROMISED to tell you something about Aldie and Upperville," said the Adjutant of the First Jersey. "We did not go into the fights themselves, being for the first time kept in reserve; but after we had finished driving the enemy, and began to move back to the army, our brigade had the honor of covering the rear, when we had some tolerably sharp work.

"You were with us last year when we had that set-to with Stuart at Aldie, and remember the position pretty well. The rebels came up the Snickersville Road in just the same way they attacked last December; but Kilpatrick met them differently. He swept round outside of the town, and charged into the road by the first wood. The Tenth New York went first, and drove them to that dip of the road where it bends in both directions. Here they were met and forced back. Kilpatrick sent in the Second New York as support. Their Major, instead of leading, gave his orders from the rear, which produced some confusion, and consequently the rebels were getting the better of our men. They say that Kilpatrick was half mad. He had brought on the fight, and now if his men failed him he was lost. Just then Colonel Doughty with his First Maine came up in perfect order. Kilpatrick rode up to them, and they dashed forward with a vigor that was irresistible. Right before them they swept the rebels, past the woods and the hollow, and up to the last hill, where there were some old hay-stacks grouped together. Some of the rebels were protecting themselves under their cover, and opened a heavy fire; but it was no use. Eleven horses went down right around the stacks; but even that did not check the Maine fellows. Closing in, they drove the enemy away, and, fighting hand to hand, forced them down the steep into the hollow beyond. It was terribly close work. Kilpatrick himself was, they say, once surrounded and a prisoner, but was cut out before he could be fairly taken. That fine old soldier Colonel Doughty got in too deep. The rebels ordered him to yield, but he refused. If he had had his own horse, which was so perfectly trained that he could do any thing, the old man would have succeeded in keeping a clear place around him, and would have cut his way through; but the animal on which he was mounted was inferior in strength and activity to the emergency. The rebels pressed in upon him, and the brave old man, fighting to the last, went down. There was no holding the Maine boys after

that. The rebels were driven well down the hill, our artillery got into position and raked them fearfully, and for a mile or two it was a perfect rout.

"The rebels cut across into the Middlebury Road, which, through Duffie's misfortune that morning, was free. Reinforcements coming up enabled them to get into order again, and hold us for a while. Once again there was fierce fighting, and again they had to fall back, though this time in a little better order. Still each attack shook them more and more. At last they began retreating rapidly, leaving us a gun.

"After two days' fighting, all in our favor, they were forced to make a stand at Upperville, in order to secure their line of retreat through Ashby's Gap. All along the stone-walls by the road-side they dismounted sharp-shooters, and wherever they deployed they protected themselves by similar breast-works. Kilpatrick took the same precaution on the road, and it saved him from some trouble. His column, charging past the sharp-shooters, caught such a heavy fire that it had to fall back, and Stuart's men charged in their turn. Then our carbineers let them have it with terrible effect, weeding out their squadrons effectually. Over the stone-walls and through the inclosures our men went at them, sometimes throwing down the fences, at others going over them. The fighting was something like Brandy Station, though we had more decidedly the advantage. The rebels lost very severely. They never succeeded in fairly meeting a charge. From hill to hill they went, leaving another piece in our hands, and at last were driven pell-mell into the Gap. It was not until they reached the other side, and were covered by their infantry and artillery, that they were able to make a stand.

"Kilpatrick's brigade had the work that day all to itself; and they did it so thoroughly that we in the reserve had nothing to do but to follow up. The next morning Pleasanton, having found out all he wanted to know, and done what he wanted, gave orders to fall back to our position, covering the march of the army.

"Our brigade now took the rear of the column; the First Pennsylvania and First New Jersey, with some of the Third Pennsylvania, being deployed as skirmishers. As soon as the rebels discovered that we were actually retiring they came swarming out of the Gap. They had received such a lesson, however, that it was not until after we had passed through Upperville that they attempted to close. Here they cause out suddenly, wheeling from behind a hill, and charged. It was a very distinguished failure. They rode in toward our skirmishers, as if fully determined to break through; but Lucas opened such a scathing fire upon them that they reeled back in dismay.

"Among our skirmishers that day Private Vandegrift, of Company D, particularly distinguished himself. All our men were cool and daring, keeping their positions steadily, but he fought with marked judgment, never throwing away his fire, and always the nearest man to the enemy. Close to his side fought Joseph Allen, of Company F, a reckless, warm-hearted, light-headed boy. I do not know that they fought really better than others, but they happened to catch my eye, and subsequent events impressed their names on my memory. Curiously enough, the storm of bullets fired by the rebels did not injure a man of our line. Their skirmishers were nervous and fired wild, while the aim of our men was unusually fatal. At last the rebels brought up some artillery, and began firing shells at our skirmishers, while their men kept carefully out of range. One shell burst under the horse of Captain Englebert, of the Third Pennsylvania, curiously enough without harming horse or rider. Another struck Vandegrift in the side, tearing through him without exploding. As he tell Allen sprung to the ground, seized him, and placed his body carefully by the fence. At this moment the rebels made another abortive charge, and Allen had to remount. This was near the Dover Mills, on the Middleburg Road, and terminated their attempt at pursuit. Leaving this body behind seemed to weigh upon Joe's mind. He kept as far in the rear as he could through the whole after-movement. When the regiment halted he came up to Captain Lucas and begged permission to bring it in. The Captain gave leave, if the body did not lie inside the rebel lines, and if he could find any men to accompany him. Craven, of Company A, immediately volunteered. A Pennsylvania man also pressed forward, as did two other Jersey men. These five mounted and quietly advanced toward the rebel forces. Managing to avoid an outlying picket, they stole through the woods until they were close upon the spot where lay Vandegrift's body, partially hidden by the fence. There, within one hundred yards, stretched the enemy's skirmish line, with no obstruction intervening between them and the body. 'No matter,' said our men to each other; 'it lies without the lines, and we can get it without disobeying orders.' So suddenly they rode out of the woods and spread themselves before the body. As they did so, Craven dismounted and lifted the body on his horse. The movement so paralyzed the rebels that they were unable to fire until after he had done this. Then, as he remounted, they delivered a hasty and ineffectual fire. Without returning it our men wheeled and dashed back into cover with the burden for which they had risked so much. Half sadly, half triumphantly, they bore it back to camp; and as they laid it in a decent grave felt a soldier's satisfaction that their comrade obtained a proper resting-place from their hands, instead of being tumbled into a ditch by the enemy, or left unburied, a prey to unclean beasts and the foul birds of prey."


"THE PRINTER'S DEVIL," a handsome, illustrated, literary, and miscellaneous Family Paper, will be sent on trial six months, free of postage, for twenty-five cents. Address "Printer's Devil," 113 Fulton St. N. Y. Sold by newsdealers.


Only TWO CENTS per Pound Profit.

Only TWO CENTS per Pound Profit.

Only TWO CENTS per Pound Profit.

Only TWO CENTS per Pound Profit.


Great American Tea Company,

No. 51 Vesey Street, New York,

are selling ALL their TEAS at ONLY TWO CENTS PER POUND PROFIT, believing this feature to be attractive to the many who have heretofore been paying ENORMOUS PROFITS.

Standard Military Books.

Roemer's History and Uses of Cavalry, 8vo ...........$5.00 Gibbon's Artillerist's Manual, 8vo, new edition ......5.00 Roberts' Handbook of Artillery, 16m...1.00 Heavy Artillery Tactics, 12mo, 1863 ......2.00 Casey's Infantry Tactics, 3 volumes .......2.50 Military Art and History, by BARRE DU PARCQ, 8vo .......4.00 Scott's Military Dictionary, octavo ...........................5.00 Benet's Military Law and Courts-Martial, 8vo ....................3.00 Army Officers' Pocket Comp., 16mo 1.50 Manual for Engineer Troops, 12mo ....2.00 Cullum's Military Bridges, 8vo ..............3.50 Evolutions for Field Batteries of Artillery, 18mo ................1.00

Together with a full assortment of French, English, and American Military, Naval, and Engineering works. Copies sent free by mail on receipt of price. D. VAN NOSTRAND, Publisher,       No. 192 Broadway, New York.

50,000 Agents Wanted.

One Agent wanted in every Regiment, Hospital, and on board every Naval Vessel. For $1, will send you as sample, with a Circular giving full instructions to Agents, either a Fine Gold Pen and Pencil, or a beautiful New Style Vest Chain, or Chatelaine Chain and Pin, or Guard Chain, or an Engraved Spring Locket. or a Seal Stone, California Diamond, or Chased Ring, or a fine Gold California Diamond Pin, or a New Style Set of Jewelry, or a solid Silver Shield, or either Army Corps Pin, with your Name, Co., and Reg., handsomely engraved upon it, or a Kearney Cross in Gold Plate; and, for 50 cents, I will send a beautiful Union League Pin, in fine Gold Plate. B. T. HAYWARD, Manufacturing Jeweler, Box 4876.   208 Broadway, N. Y.


Nottingham Curtains, Wholesale and retail, Brocatelle Curtains,       at Rep Curtains,   KELTY'S, 359 Broadway, Terry Curtains, Satin Delaine Curtains,

SAVAGE & CO.'S No Chimney Burner burns Kerosene Oil with a brilliant light without chimney, smoke, or odor. Saves 25 per cent. Office 202 Fulton street, N. Y. Agents wanted. Send for circular. Sample sent by mail, pre-paid, for 50 cents.

Fountain's INDIAN and AMERICAN INDIAN STORE, 858 BROADWAY, between Thirteenth and Fourteenth Streets, up stairs, is filled with scarce, useful, and novel goods from China, Japan, India, France, and the American Indians, which are not to be found elsewhere; wholesale and retail. Catalogue-Cards sent per mail. Visitors are welcome to examine our extensive stock without purchasing. Unique Fans from India, France, and the American Indians. Fancy Pigeons and Poultry. A large private stock for sale. Apply immediately, as the owner is going to Europe. Box 2600, P. O., Boston.


AT YOUR OWN HOMES.—THOUSANDS CAN REALIZE A HUNDRED DOLLARS WEEKLY.—No utensils required except those found in every household; profits 100 per cent.; demand staple as flour. It is the greatest discovery of the age. Full particulars sent on receipt of two stamps for return postage. Address C. MUNRO, BROWN & CO., No. 74 Bleecker Street, N. Y.



Acknowledged by all who have used it to be, in all respects, unequaled. Sent free by mail. Liberal discount to agents and the trade. HANNAH & CO., No. 104 John St , N. Y. Room No. 1. Send 3 ct. stamp for circular.

Union Playing Cards.

Colonel for King, Goddess of Liberty for Queen, and Major for Jack. 52 enameled cards to the pack. Eagles, Shields, Stars, and Flags are the suits, and you can play all the usual games. Two packs, in cases, mailed free on receipt of $1. The usual discount to the trade. Send for a Circular. Address AMERICAN CARD COMPANY, 455 Broadway, N. Y., or 165 William Street, N. Y.

LACE CURTAINS, Nottingham Curtains, New Styles At KELTY'S No. 359 Broadway.


SOLdiers, and others, maimed and crippled, can bear of a pleasant and profitable business by addressing P. O. Box No. 45, Philadelphia. (Sample free for 25 cents.)

Printing-Press for Sale.

One Taylor Double Cylinder, five Rollers, Table Distribution, Bed 38x51. Price $3500.

Apply to HARPER & BROTHERS, 329 Pearl St., N.Y.

FOWLER'S ADDING MACHINE should be used by all business men. As a proof in addition it is just the thing needed. Will be found very useful in taking account of stock, and for all tallying purposes. Price $5.00. State and County rights for sale. Descriptive circular sent on receipt of stamp. Address G. B. FOWLER & CO. 37 Park Row, Room 21, N. Y., or Box 3213, Chicago, Ills.

Accordeons and Flutinas.—Best quality, Busson make. 8 keys, $2.50; 10 keys, $3; 13 keys, $3.50; 8 1/2 key (double), $4: 10 1/2 key (double), $5 to $7. Flutinas, $8 to $25. Sent by Express to any part country. Musical Instruments repaired. FREDERICK BLUME, 208 Bowery, N. Y.

Are offering the cheapest, most accurate, durable, and saleable Watches in the American market! They are the sole consignees in this country for the celebrated

Magic Time Observers,

The Perfection of Mechanism!

Being a Hunting, or Open Face, or Lady's

or Gentleman's Watch combined, with

Patent Self-winding Improvement.

A most pleasing novelty. One of the prettiest, most convenient, and decidedly the best and cheapest timepiece for general and reliable use ever offered. It has within it and connected with its machinery its own winding attachment, rendering a key entirely unnecessary. The cases of this Watch are composed of two metals, the outer one being fine 16 carat gold. It has the improved ruby action lever movement, and is warranted an accurate time-piece. Price, superbly engraved, per case of half dozen, $204. Sample watches in neat morocco boxes, $35. If sent by mail, the postage is 36 cents; registering, 20 cents.

Railway Timekeepers,

With Heavy Sterling Silver Cases,

Especially adapted for Army Sales.

The RAILWAY TIMEKEEPER has heavy solid sterling silver cases, beautiful white enamel dial, handsome gold hands, with superior regulated movement, warranted to run and keep excellent time! Price, per case of half dozen, $60; by mail, $1.65 for postage. If registered, 20 cents additional. A safe delivery by mail guaranteed. Sold only by the case.

The RAILWAY TIMEKEEPER is also furnished in hand-some silver plated cases, and in all other respects the same as the silver ones, while in appearance they are fully equal. Price $48 per case of six. Postage, $1.65. Registering, 20 cents. Sold only by the case. Our importations are novelties produced by no other house, combining greater accuracy as timekeepers, being more elaborately and artistically finished, and offered at prices challenging competition from all other hands. The press in all parts of the country voluntarily attest the superiority of our watches. Their encomiums are emphatic, speaking directly to the point, in a manner not to be misunderstood. "Particularly valuable for officers in the army, and travelers."—Frank Leslie's, Feb. 21. "Prettiest, best, and cheapest time-pieces ever offered." —N. Y. Illustrated News, Jan. 10. "Exceed other manufactures in point of accuracy and elegance."—Phila. Army and Navy Gazette, May 9. An improvement on ordinary timepieces, and invaluable for railroad men."—N. Y. Am. Railroad Journal, Aug. 9. "Elaborately and artistically finished." — N. Y Scottish American, July 30. "Combine great accuracy as timekeepers."—Pittsburg, Pa., Chronicle, July 27. "Very pretty and durable watches for the army."—N. Y. Army and Navy Journ. (Government organ), Aug. 29. "One of the oldest and most reliable houses in business."—Louisville, Ky., Journal, July 31.

TERMS CASH; INVARIABLY IN ADVANCE. No agents employed; buyers must deal directly with us. If money is sent us by express or mail in a registered letter, it is at our risk! Orders will meet the most prompt and faithful attention.

HUBBARD BROS., Sole Importers,

Broadway, cor. Courtlandt Street, Neal York. 

MALE AND FEMALE AGENTS AND SALESMEN wanted everywhere— For many new, useful, and wonderful inventions, in which they can make from $100 to $300 per month. On sending $5 we will forward by express a case of samples which will sell for three times the sum. Send stamp for circulars. GOODWIN & CO., 429 Broadway, offices 11 and 12.

Attention, Officers!—Being desirous of collecting material for a history of the Army; and that each company of the different regiments be correctly represented, we wish a commissioned officer or the orderly of each Co. send us their address for free circular, or 25 cts. and receive copy of "Soldiers" Memorial," with instructions. M. E. Cole & Co., 141 Main St.,Cincinnati, O. P.O. Box 1065

DROWNE & MOORE, Manufacturing Jewelers, 208 Broadway, New York.


All Articles for Soldiers at Baltimore, Washington, Hilton Head, Newbern, and all places occupied by Union troops, should be sent, at half rates, by HARNDEN'S EXPRESS, No. 74 Broadway. Sutlers charged low rates.


Printing Offices.

For the use of the Army and Navy, Merchants, Druggists, and Business Men generally. These Printing Offices are now extensively and profitably used throughout the States and Canadas, and are considered indispensable by those who have given them a trial. The printing press is simple and durable, and the printing material is of the best manufacture. Full instructions for use accompany each office.

Press No. 1, 3x4 in., $10.00—OFFICE COMPLETE, $20.00 Press No. 2, 6x9 in., 15.00—OFFICE COMPLETE, 30.00 Press No. 3, 9x11 in., 20.00—OFFICE COMPLETE, 50.00 Press No. 4, 11x13 in., 25.00—OFFICE COMPLETE, 75.00 Press No. 5, 13x19 in., 30.00—OFFICE COMPLETE, 100.00 Circular sent free. Sheets of Type, Cuts, &c., 6 cents. Adams Press CO., 31 Park Row, N. Y. AND ALSO FOR SALE BY CHASE & LEAVITT, 35 Lincoln Street, Boston, Mass.


OR SIGNS OF CHARACTER, and "How to Read Them;" Physiology, the functions of the body; Phrenology, the organs of the brain; Ethnology, the races of man; and Psychology, the science of the soul, are given in the PHRENOLOGICAL JOURNAL. Vol. 38 commenced July. $1.50 a year. Single number, 15 cents, by first post. FOWLER & WELLS, 308 Broadway, N. Y.

Five quires (120 sheets) nice commercial note paper for 50 cents. Single quires, for a sample, 12 cents. 100 fine white envelopes, 50 cents. 100 buff do., 40 cents. All the above sent, post-paid. Address GEO. K. SNOW & HAPGOOD, Pathfinder Office, Boston, Mass.





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