Monitors at Charleston


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, September 12, 1863

Reading original Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War is one of the best ways of gaining a deeper understanding of the War. We have made our entire collection of papers available online to allow you to read detailed reports of the key events in the war.

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


Sioux Battle

Sioux Battle

British Affairs

British Affairs

Monitor's at Charleston

Ironclad Monitors at Charleston

Rebel Torpedo

Quincy Gilmore

Quincy Gilmore

Sioux Expedition

Sioux Expedition

Independence Day

Independence Day

Beauregard Cartoon

Beauregard Cartoon

Sibley Expedition

Sibley's Sioux Expedition

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Fort Sumter after Bombardment

Fort Sumter After the Bombardment

James Island

James Island, South Carolina

Charleston Campaign

Charleston Campaign









SEPTEMBER 12, 1863.]



(Previous Page) Upon that platform some candidate will be placed who heartily approves its wisdom and necessity. What will the other platform be?

It is not difficult to foresee. It is already foreshadowed. It will be that of the Copperhead policy—at first partly, and at last wholly. It will begin by saying that when the rebels lay down their arms all rights and privileges hitherto enjoyed are resumed, and persons proved guilty of treason according to law are to be punished. It will end by declaring a general amnesty and an assumption of the Confederate debt, for the sake of conciliation and fraternity. In plain terms, it will propose that, having won the victory, we shall give it to the enemy.

If now we should ask any reasonable "Conservative," By such a policy what do you get for the war? he would doubtless reply, "We get the established proof of the superiority of the Government to armed rebellion." If then we ask, But what security do you get against a more dangerous rebellion? he would make the same answer. If we still inquire, "Upon the mere word of the insurgents, do you mean to withdraw the troops, and allow every body who may not be convicted of treason to vote for members of Congress?" he must either answer Yes, in which case the rebel slaveholders return at once to the control of the Government in alliance with the "Conservatives" of the North; or he must answer, "No; only those can vote who take an oath;" in which case he deserts his platform, and does not permit all who lay down their arms to resume their old privileges.

The question of the election will be simply, "Shall the war have been fought for something or for nothing?" There will be no chance for cozening or evasion. One party will say, "Slavery made the war, and there can be no peace until it is destroyed. You might as well think to secure the lives of your children by chasing the wolf into the bushes in the garden instead of killing him, as to hope for the tranquillity of this country while slavery endures." The other will cry, "Pooh! pooh! if you have a cancer on your breast just put on a clean shirt and go in, and all will be serene."


IF, after the full and open debate of the question, the new rebel war-ships sail against any of our ships or ports out of English harbors, it will be a declaration of war. The farce of neutrality is played out. The British laws are proved incompetent to save the commerce of a friendly power from the ravages of pirates fitting out in England. If, then, she says, "I don't care enough about it to have laws that will protect my allies," she simply says she does not care about peace.

To all our remonstrance and argument England has practically but one answer: "Why do you complain of our selling to the Confederates what you ask us to sell to you? We trade with all parts of all the world; and while we take no side in a domestic national quarrel like yours, you can not fairly complain that we treat both sides alike."

To this the reply is conclusive, that international law excepts the very class of cases of which we complain; and that to build and equip war-ships, or suffer them to be built, and then to let them sail from your harbors to prey upon the commerce of an ally, is one of the most offensive causes of war. To prevent it altogether is impossible. Not to try to prevent it is to connive at the piracy. England knows perfectly well what we think and why we think it. There is no wire-drawing, no hair-splitting, no special plea in our position. And if she still persists in building, fitting, and sailing ships against us, on what ground will she complain if we build, fit, and sail ships against her? Such things are usually called war. But if she prefers to call them neutrality, we are not in the least particular about names.


THAT promising political firm of Rebels, John Bull, and Copperheads, ought at once to pillory the unhappy Gilmore by the side of the beast Butler. Beauregard has already given them their cue. The bombardment of Charleston is inhuman, atrocious, out of the usages of civilized warfare, etc., etc. Certainly these are terrible words; and what has General Gilmore to say? Not only the-ever-to-berespected and implicitly-to-be-believed Beauregard declares that he is inhuman, but the consuls, John Bull's in the van, cry amen to the great captain. What, then, has General Gilmore done? He has shelled Charleston with Greek fire. He has actually bombarded Charleston!

What fate is fearful enough for such a monster? The beast Butler had the effrontery to take possession of New Orleans, and was then brazen enough to make the rich rebels pay to support the poor whom they had impoverished. He was also so inconceivably vile as to order that any woman who insulted a soldier should be punished by a municipal law of the city. The miscreant also actually hung Mumford, who had only exercised his constitutional right of being a traitor and a rebel, as Mr. G. Ticknor Curtis will expound at length. Nay, that no crown of infamy should be wanting, he made New Orleans a decent city, and kept it in order—an atrocity unknown in its annals hitherto. And for all this the Rebels, John Bull, and the Copperheads, called him solemnly the beast Butler, in order that all men might know that they had nothing in common with him.

But General Gilmore's offense is beyond words. If he had pierced the holy of holies at Mecca and had spat upon the holy stone, if he had danced a sailor's hornpipe in Trinity Church, or smeared Raphael's Transfiguration with tar, the English language might still have been able to deal with his offenses. But to bombard Charleston! Does General Gilmore know that the "Southern gentleman" lives there? That "the chivalry" live there? That the "sons of the Palmetto" live there? That the "natural aristocracy" of the land live there? Is this unhappy bungler, with

big guns, aware that his vile abolition missiles may perchance hit the august head of a Spratt, a Keitt, a Rhett, a Simms, or an Orr? What does this plebeian Yankee mean by disturbing the aristocracy? General Beauregard asks for a truce of two days, and this inhuman scoundrel replies that his terms are unconditional surrender or more Greek fire! What can a veracious gentleman like Beauregard and distinguished friends of humanity like John Bull's consul and others, do, but protest and submit? Yes, there is one thing they can do. They can, as before, imitate the boy who declared to his invincible adversary that if he could not lick him he could make mouths at his sister. They can call names. Butler was a beast. Let Gilmore, with the same point, be the monster Gilmore.


THE complaints of Admiral Dahlgren's delay in Charleston harbor were, at least, premature. The Monitors he commands are precisely the same which discovered in April that until Sumter was reduced they could not operate to advantage. Captain Drayton in the Passaic, for instance, found in the last attack that a heavy blow from one of Sumter's guns could derange his machinery. He could put himself to rights perhaps in twelve hours and return to the attack. But that was merely to run exactly the same risk without any adequate compensation; for his guns did little damage to the fort.

The work that the Monitors have to do is to remove the obstructions in the channel. To do that successfully they must be out of the steady battery of heavy guns, which, by denting the turrets, may throw something out of gear. Could they move incessantly they would not mind the chance; but held in one position by the barriers they are unfairly exposed. They must wait, therefore, until they can have the conditions of their success.

Besides, the Monitors obey their helms slowly, and their speed is about four miles an hour. But the current of Charleston harbor is three miles an hour, so that it is easy to see that they may become a little unmanageable.

The Monitors are as yet a crude and undeveloped invention. As harbor defenses they are unquestionably unsurpassed. The contest with the Merrimac shows what a select party of them would do with the new iron rams whose shadow falls toward New York out of English harbors. To wooden ships also they must necessarily be fatal. A fort which could not hold them steadily in one place they would readily batter down. But if they can be held within range of a heavy battery, incessantly hammering them, the experience of the April attack upon Sumter shows that they may have to retire.

For the rest it may fairly be supposed that Admiral Dahlgren knows the value of time, and knows also just what the enemy are doing, quite as well as newspaper correspondents. His conduct and reputation hitherto are not such as to justify the suspicion that he will allow the enemy to gain any advantage which it is possible for him to prevent.


MR. "VICE-PRESIDENT" STEPHENS, as we lately saw, is cheerful under extreme difficulties, but the Richmond Dispatch is more so. It consoles the "Confederacy" in this manner: "Rosecrans is said to be advancing upon Bragg, while in the West Burnside is pressing Buckner. This is probably all the better ....The danger of too much success upon our side has always been too much confidence ....The movement of Rosecrans, if indeed he has begun a march, is one of desperation possibly ....A week or two will bring us, we believe, news to cheer us ....The situation since this time last year is not much altered to our disadvantage. A single victory in the Southwest will cover much that we have lost there.... Should Charleston fall he (the enemy) will only be able to close that place as a port of entry.... So the situation brightens."

Such comfort is cold enough without being blown upon by such a vile abolitionist as the Lounger. But it may be remarked that the "danger of too much success upon our side" is not pressing. Job Davis and Company should certainly bespeak livelier comforters.


IT is a curious commentary upon some of the statements made in the work upon the social condition of England of which we have elsewhere spoken, that Mr. Dickens speaks, in his new series of "The Uncommercial Traveler," of visiting a ship full of Mormon emigrants, and finding them to be rough, intelligent, honest folk, of whom England, as well as Joe Smith, might be proud. "I found them," he says, "the most orderly, well-behaved, and intelligent set of common people I ever saw—the pick and flower of England."

Mr. Kay says that the mass of the poorer classes in England are outside of all the churches, because the forms of worship of the Established Church and of most of the dissenting sects are not imaginative enough for an ignorant people, and because the personal intercourse between priest and people, which is essential to the maintenance of popular religious interest, is impossible, from the small number of clergymen and their selection from a superior class. The crowd turns, therefore, either to the glittering pomp and constant personal sympathy and supervision of the Romish Church, or to the sensual excitement of another kind—of the ranters and other ignorant sectaries.

He is wise who knows that every moment not gained is a moment lost, every lesson not learned is an increase of ignorance. We are young; we have a boundless domain; we have hope, faith, and we are about starting fairer than ever before.

Shall all the flooding tides of wisdom that flow toward us not lift our little bark one inch? Let us know, and speak, and consider the fact that the great mass of the technically laboring class in this

country is coming to be of a different race and a different religion from the rest of the population; and that no country is safe in which the people are not substantially one.


LETTERS from the Army of the Potomac give an interesting account of the recent presentation of a sword to General MEADE by the Pennsylvania Reserves, with the speeches made by General CRAWFORD, now commanding the Reserves, General MEADE, Governor CURTIN, and others.

Surgeon-General HAMMOND is about to proceed to Port Royal and New Orleans, to look after the condition of the hospitals.

The Secretary of the Navy has left Washington for a tour of inspection through the New York, Boston, and Portsmouth Navy-yards, and will visit Philadelphia on his return.

In the affair with MOSEBY'S guerrillas on 17th ult. near Fairfax, MOSEBY is said to have received two wounds which are believed to be mortal.

The death of General PEMBERTON, who commanded at Vicksburg, at Selma, Alabama, is reported by a dispatch from Cairo.

Commander WALKE went up the Yazoo, a few days since, with instructions to attempt to save the gun-boat De Kalb. He found this impossible, and therefore destroyed her, first having removed her guns and every thing of value.

Major LUTHER B. BRUEN, commanding the depot of the 12th United States Infantry, at Fort Hamilton, New York Harbor, has been ordered to the field to take command of his regiment. He has not hitherto been in active service.

Dr. G. W. VARNUM, U. S. V., has tendered his resignation, which has been accepted.

Brigadier-General Fisk announced the capture of JEFF THOMPSON and his band as follows:

PILOT KNOB, August 26, 1863.

Major-General Schofield:

My compliments. JEFF THOMPSON is a prisoner in our hands. (Signed) CLINTON B. Fisk,


Major J. W. SPEER, Assistant Inspector-General on the staff of General CRAWFORD, resigned last week in consequence of wounds received at Gaines's Hill and Charles Cross Roads. His resignation has been accepted. The successor of Major SPEER is said to be Major WOODWARD, a son of the democratic candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania.

Major OLIVER D. GREENE, of the Adjutant-General's Department, has been appointed Assistant Adjutant-General with the rank of Colonel, on the staff of Major-General SCHOFIELD, commanding the Department of the Missouri, and will leave immediately for St. Louis. He held a similar position on the staff of Major-General FRANKLIN, in the Army of the Potomac.

Lieutenant J. P. SANGER, First United States Artillery, has been made Acting Assistant Inspector-General under General GILMORE.

The death of the traitor JOHN B. FLOYD is confirmed by the Richmond papers. He died of the effects of typhus fever and jaundice in their worst forms.

Captain C. M. LEVY, Assistant Quarter-master, was arrested on 31st ult., and consigned to the Old Capitol prison at Washington, charged with being a defaulter. He has for some time been assigned to the defenses north of the Potomac, and has always enjoyed the confidence of his brother officers. The case will be investigated in a few days.

Captain TIDBALL, of Battery A, Second United States Artillery, is promoted to the Colonelcy of the Fourth New York Heavy Artillery.

Brigadier-General Meigs has completed his inspection of the Army of the Potomac and returned to Washington.

Colonel HENRY E. Davies, of this city, of the Harris Light Cavalry, was, on the 21st ult., appointed to the command of the First Brigade of the Third Division of Cavalry in the Army of the Potomac.

The funeral of Acting Assistant Paymaster JOSIAH G. WOODBURY, who was killed on board the Catskill in the attack on Charleston, took place on 29th ult., at two P.M., at the residence of the mother of the deceased in Bedford. Mr. WOODBURY was a member of Lafayette Lodge, Manchester, New Hampshire, and was buried with Masonic honors.

Lieutenant-Colonel HALPINE, formerly Assistant Adjutant-General to Generals HUNTER and HALLECK, has been temporarily assigned, by special orders of the War Department, to duty with Major-General Dix.

Acting Master ROBERT CAMERON was reported to have died on the 29th of June. Parties in this city have just received a letter from him, dated 18th of August, and a telegram from Cairo, dated August 31, stating that he was well, and had been promoted. He served in the army, and is now in the navy. He is a young Scotchman, and has served in the Mississippi squadron ever since December, and has been in almost every engagement, and was wounded at Liverpool Bluffs.



ON the evening of the 25th ult. our troops made an assault on Fort Wagner, with a view to the possession of that important strong-hold. Rebel authorities state that it was repulsed. On the 26th ult. the fire on both sides was very slow and deliberate. The dispatch of the 28th says that the Union troops are working hard in the trenches in front of Fort Wagner.


The army of General Rosecrans crossed the Tennessee River at four points, the Second Kentucky cavalry capturing thirty-five pickets of the enemy. General Reynolds captured a large force at Shell Mound, and took a camp on Falling Waters. Among the captured are time guerrilla Mays and the rebel Tennessee Congressman, Cannon. Little or no resistance was made. The rebels are reported to be in force at Rome and Cleveland, and along the Georgia State Railroad. General Burnside is in the region of Kingston, and will attack that place before long.

According to rebel accounts the fire upon Chattanooga was opened by General Wilder without giving notice to the citizens, and in consequence three ladies and two male citizens were killed. The enemy are busy in the city digging trenches to resist the assault. The mountains around have been penetrated by General Crook and found clear of rebels.


Our advices from Arkansas are important. Our forces under General Steele are reported at Duvall's Bluff, on the Arkansas River, fifty-four miles from Little Rock, while General Price, with 25,000 rebels, is at Bayou Metaire, a strong point on White River, fourteen miles above Duvall's Bluff. A great battle is expected to be fought here, and skirmishing is already going on. Duvall's Bluff is expected to be made our base of supplies, as it can be reached at all stages of water. Magruder is represented to have conscripted a force of 18,000 men in Southern Texas.


A terrible lesson to deserters was given at the head-quarters of the Army of the Potomac on 28th ult. Five men from Pennsylvania, all substitutes, who had deliberately deserted after being regularly put into service, were shot to death in presence of 25,000 spectators. Their names were George Kuhna, a Hanoverian; Charles Walker and Emil Lai, Prussians; John Felane and George Reinese, Italians. Two were Protestants, two Catholics, and one a Jew.


The best attainable information locates General Lee in Richmond, and his army scattered from the line of the Blue Ridge on the west to Port Royal, Rappahannock River on the east, and south as far as the line of the Virginia Central Railroad. His troops are so widely scattered, probably, to facilitate subsisting. General Ewell has the left; A. P. Hill the centre, lying on the railroad from Culpepper to Orange Court house; while Longstreet holds the extreme right, occupying the line of the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroad. Cook's brigade of North Carolina troops occupies Fredericksburg. Jones's brigade of cavalry is said to have gone back to the Shenandoah Valley, and Robinson to Richmond. Stuart is still in command, but growing more and more unpopular. It is expected he will be relieved by Wade Hampton.


The Federal cavalry expedition to Bottom's Bridge, which caused so much alarm in Richmond, was commanded by General Wistar, and was composed of parts of the First New York Mounted Rifles, Colonel Onderdonk, and the Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry, Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis. The expedition left Williamsburg on the 26th, and pushed through New Kent Court House directly to Bottom's Bridge. At the latter place one rebel regiment of infantry, in rifle-pits, were found, who were supported by a squadron of cavalry. A charge was immediately made, and the rebel rifle-pits were carried and the rebels driven across the bridge, which they took up behind them. Our troops having accomplished the object of the expedition, returned to Yorktown.


A report forwarded by Admiral Porter describes the late naval expedition up the Red and White rivers as most successful, quantities of rebel stores having been destroyed, and the only two steamers the enemy had having been captured.


The draft was completed in this city on 27th ult., the full quota of conscripts having been drawn. The Board of Supervisors, at their meeting on 27th, passed an ordinance, which was signed by the Mayor, providing for the appropriation of two millions of dollars for the exemption of firemen, policemen, the militia, and the heads of families who may be dependent upon them for support.


It is announced that no draft will be made in Ohio. Officers of the army sent home to secure drafted men are instructed to open recruiting stations for enlistments.


A late number of the Raleigh (North Carolina) Standard contains numerous reports of peace meetings throughout the State. The revolution there is fast ripening.


General Grant's order No. 50 declares that Tennessee and Kentucky, west of Tennessee River, are free from rebel forces, and bushwhacking and recruiting for the rebels therein will be rigorously punished. He recommends the people of Mississippi within his lines to return to their avocations; also that they recognize the freedom of slaves and pay them wages. The order makes provision for some of the more destitute of the rebel residents.


On the authority of rebel papers received at Morehead City, North Carolina, it is stated that Jeff Davis is about to adopt a measure which would indicate that he desires, to a certain extent, to anticipate Mr. Lincoln's emancipation proclamation. The report is that he will issue a call, by advice of the Governors of the Southern States, for half a million of negro troops, to whom their freedom will be guaranteed, and a bounty of fifty acres of land will be given at the expiration of the war.



To Major-General Grant:

MY DEAR GENERAL,—I do not remember that you and I ever met personally. I write this now as a grateful acknowledgment for the almost inestimable service you have done the country. I wish to say a word further. When you first reached the vicinity of Vicksburg, I thought you should do what you finally did—march the troops across the neck, run the batteries with the transports, and thus go below; and I never had any faith, except a general hope that you knew better than I, that the Yazoo Pass Expedition and the like could succeed. When you got below, and took Port Gibson, Grand Gulf, and vicinity, I thought you should go down the river and join General Banks; and when you turned northward, east of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I now wish to make a personal acknowledgment that you were right and I was wrong.

Yours very truly,      A. LINCOLN.


Governor Bramlette was inaugurated as Governor of Kentucky on 1st inst. In his inaugural address he contends that the revolted States did not change their status by rebelling; that all that is necessary for them to do is to return to their fealty and take their position as States; that the rebellion did not remit then to a territorial state. He says we have now, and will have when the rebellion closes, the identical Constitution which extremists seek to destroy—the one by innovation, the other by force. It is not a restored Union, not a reconstructed Union, that Kentucky desires, but a preserved Union and a restored peace upon a constitutional basis. The Governor strongly objects to the arming of negro regiments, and asks what is to be done with such soldiers at the end of the war? He points to the result of the recent election as a proof that Kentucky will not fraternize with rebellion, either open or covert, and declares that Kentucky ever has been, and now is, and always will be, loyal to the Government of our fathers.




THE rebel pirate Florida has appeared in the Irish Channel, and worked her way cautiously up to Cork, after taking a pilot. She lauded three persons in that city, who were supposed to be agents of the rebel government en route to London. Lying off the privateer communicated with several merchant vessels, and it was thought she was receiving supplies of war materiel. The Florida had a mast broken on her voyage from Bermuda. At the latest date she was lying to off Tuskar. A large quantity of silver, taken from the ship Joseph Hoxie, was landed by the privateer, under the name of "luggage."


It appears by a Plymouth paper that three British war vessels have been recently sold to a London company, nominally for the Mediterranean trade, but really for the rebel service in this country.



The Polish insurrection continues to drag along with varying success to the belligerents. On the 15th of August a sanguinary conflict took place with the Russian forces, which lasted until night. At the commencement of the engagement the Poles were two hundred and fifty strong, of which number but thirty-six escaped.



There appears to be no room for doubt that the Archduke Maximilian has accepted the throne of Mexico. The French Government is said to have sent instructions to Mexico revoking the measures relative to the sequestration of property of those who have taken up arms against the French. A blockade is also ordered, to extend from the Lagunes, ten leagues south of Matamoras, to Campeachy.




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