The Vicksburg Blockade


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, April 18, 1863

This site makes all the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil war available on line for your study and research. These newspapers offer in depth reporting on the War by eye-witnesses to all the events.

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Vicksburg Blockade

Vicksburg Blockade

Robert Browning Poem

Robert Browning Poem

Richmond Riot

Richmond Riot

Army of the Potomac

Army of the Potomac Headquarters

Army Mail

Army Mail



Harbor Defense

Port Hudson

Battle of Port Hudson



Bombardment of Port Hudson

Bombardment of Port Hudson








VOL. VII.—No. 329.]




Entered according to Act of Congress, in the Year 1863, by Harper & Brothers, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.


WE publish on this page a drawing from a sketch by our special artist, Mr. Theodore R. Davis, representing the unsuccessful effort of the rams Switzerland and Lancaster to run the Vicksburg batteries on the night of 25-26th March. A rebel account mentioned the attempt of the rams, and stated that both were disabled and one sunk. A Union account says:

"Last Wednesday evening the rams Lancaster and Switzerland undertook to run the batteries at Vicksburg. As soon as they came within range the rebels opened a tremendous fire. The Lancaster was struck thirty times. Her entire bow was shot away, causing her to sink immediately, turning a complete somersault as she went clown. All the crew except two escaped. The Switzerland was disabled by a 64-pound ball penetrating the steam-drum. She floated down, the batteries still firing and striking her repeatedly, until finally the Albatross ran alongside and towed her to the lower mouth of the canal. The loss of life on her is not ascertained."

Our correspondent mentions an interesting circumstance. The Lancaster had just sunk under the terrible hail of shot and shell from the rebel batteries. The Switzerland was badly injured, the smoke and steam filling her completely. At that moment Colonel Ellet remembered or perceived that the flag was not in its right place. Instantly ascending to the deck, he caught the halyards and hoisted the bunting in the face of the cheering rebels, while the shower of lead and iron whistled round him. A very gallant exploit.

Colonel Ellet, in reply to a request from our correspondent, addressed him the following note :


" AUTOCRAT,' March 25, 1863.

" You ask me ' how the contrabands behaved' on board the ' Ram Lancaster' during the passage of the Vicksburg batteries, the explosion of the boilers, and the sinking of my vessel ? I am happy to have the pleasure of stating to you that while the white men on board behaved with the utmost coolness and the most heroic daring, the contrabands' were not less brave and fearless.

" Not one of them flinched, and they obeyed every command with precision and alacrity. " Very respectfully,

" Your obedient servant,


"Lieut.-Colonel Commanding Ram Lancaster."


WE devote pages 244 and 245 to illustrations of the HEAD-QUARTERS OF THE ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, from sketches by Mr. A. R. Waud. Mr. Waud writes:

"The term headquarters' conveys but a vague idea to the uninitiated. Most people are aware that the general lives and has his tent there, but of the necessity and use of the large train of officers that accompany the general few out of the army have a correct idea. In the first place, the general must have his personal aids, whose duty it is to be always in attendance, to assist their commander in his plans, carry dispatches of importance,

make themselves conversant with the position of the army and the roads, and in battle direct, under the general's orders, the movements of the various corps, etc., etc. The chief of staff, whose tent is always near the general's, has a very onerous position. He must keep himself accurately posted on the actual condition of the army in all its departments, the intention and results of its movements, reconnoissances, etc. Through him the general's orders are transmitted, and it is his duty to furnish the commander-in-chief and the head of the War Department tables of the strength and position of corps and posts, reports of operations, and all necessary information. Next to the commander, the chief of staff is the man of the whole army who can do the most good if he is capable, and the most harm if deficient in ability.

" The remainder of the officers of head-quarters are chiefs of the departments in which the army is divided and their aids. The Adjutant-General's department, through which orders are published, reports and returns received and disposed of, tables formed of the state and detail of the army, records made, and much more. The Engineers', whose duty it is to construct fortifications, field defenses, roads, bridges, etc., and remove obstructions. The Topographical Engineers', whose duty it is to survey and map the country in which the army is to operate, attend reconnoissances, examine routes of communication by land and water both for supplies and military movements, and lay out new roads. The Chief of Artillery, in a siege or battle, directs the position of the artillery, and is responsible for the condition of that arm of the service. The Chief of Cavalry has similar duties in the cavalry. The Chief of Ordnance has charge of and furnishes all

ordnance and ordnance stores for the military service; also equipments for mounted troops. The Inspector-General's duties are to inspect and report upon stores and animals, and every thing required to keep the army in good condition. The Medical Director attends to the entire working of that department, and after a battle makes lists of the killed and wounded; and at other times regulates the management of the hospitals, the distribution of medical supplies, etc. The Chief Commissary, through whom the army is fed. The Chief Quarter-master, by whom it is clothed, provided with tents and transportation. The Provost-Marshal General, who receives prisoners, and attends to the police of the army, including the secret-service department. The Chief Signal-officer, and many minor departments or sub-departments, such as the telegraph-office, the post-office, the balloon party, and others—all tend, with their necessary complement of clerks for office-work, orderlies for out-door purposes, servants, and grooms, to swell the proportions of the camp at head-quarters, which is, in fact—under the orders of the War Department —the seat of government, the metropolis, or capital, of the community which is formed by the presence of the army."


WE illustrated the marriage of the Prince of Wales very fully in our last number. In this, on page 253, we give a picture of the PRINCESS AND HER BRIDEMAIDS as they appeared at the altar. (Next Page)


Civil War Blockade Runners

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