Arming Slaves


This Site:

Civil War

Civil War Overview

Civil War 1861

Civil War 1862

Civil War 1863

Civil War 1864

Civil War 1865

Civil War Battles

Confederate Generals

Union Generals

Confederate History

Robert E. Lee

Civil War Medicine

Lincoln Assassination


Site Search

Civil War Links


Civil War Art

Mexican War

Republic of Texas


Winslow Homer

Thomas Nast

Mathew Brady

Western Art

Civil War Gifts

Robert E. Lee Portrait

Civil War Harper's Weekly, December 31, 1864

This site features online versions of all the Harper's Weekly newspapers printed during the Civil War. These papers are an excellent resource for the serious student of the Civil War. The illustrations were made by war correspondents deployed with the troops on the front lines.

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


Christmas Morning

Christmas Morning

Arming Slaves

Arming Slaves

Sherman Reaches Savannah

Sherman Reaches Savannah

Destroying Railroads

Troops Destroying Railroads

Jarret's Depot

Battle of Jarret's Station

Army of the Cumberland

Army of the Cumberland


Monitor Neosho


Civil War Dresses

Burning Railroads

Troops Burning Railroads

Union Christmas Dinner

Abraham Lincoln and the Union Christmas Dinner










[DECEMBER 31, 1864.
















Subscribers who wish to bind the Eighth Volume of Harper's Weekly, ending with this Number, may obtain gratuitously from the principal News Dealers a TITLE-PAGE AND TABLE OF CONTENTS.



IT is a merry Christmas although the cloud of war yet rests upon the land. It is merry because the great gale of victory parts the cloud, and gives glimpses of the heaven of peace beyond. It is merry because every man feels now that the people are able to subdue the rebellion; and merriest of all because they have just declared that they will do it, and show from the Mississippi to the sea that they are doing it.

Yet now, as from the beginning of the war, the purpose of the country is only peace and good will to all men. It has learned that a peace which is simply unquestioning submission to the meanest injustice is only more fearful war, Neither baseness nor cowardice are peace, except as death is. War is sorrowful, but there is one thing infinitely more horrible than the worst horrors of war, and that is the feeling that nothing is worth fighting for, and the blindness which can not see that war is often the safest, surest, shortest, and least bloody way of peace.

More truly than ever before the legend of this country is good will to all men. If it will hold fast to it peace is forever secure. The strongest and most unfailing force in the world is an idea. The most visionary and impracticable of men is he who sneers at ideas. If this famously practical people had hitherto believed in principles it would have had no civil war. If it will only cleave hereafter to the principles it now acknowledges it will never have war again. It is bullies and bad men who are always fighting. It is the just men who are at peace.

Today, then, under the Christmas evergreen, the country asks only for peace, and breathes only good will to all men. Despite the sharp war, its bountiful feast is spread, It stands, as Mr. NAST represents in the large picture in today's Number, holding the door open to welcome the rebellious children back to the family banquet. It does not forget one of their crimes. It remembers the enormity of their attempt. It will take good care that the root of bitterness is destroyed forever, and that the peace of the household shall be henceforth secure. But it asks what it can command. It invites where it can enforce. It says now, as it has said from the beginning, " Submit to the laws made by all for the common welfare, and there will be no more war."

Nor does that country for a moment forget the sad and solitary hearts and hearths upon which the light of the holy season shines. It is a grief too deep for anger, and it requires that such sorrow as this Christmas sun beholds shall be made impossible hereafter. They rest from their labors, the young and brave who have made this country better worth living in. The hearts that are broken with those completed lives time will soothe, but can never wholly heal. Yet never did seed sown more surely grow and flower and crown the happy harvest home than those precious lives. In a deeper national faith, in a purer national purpose, in soberer, simpler, nobler individual lives the harvest of that heroism shall be seen.

"Come home come home, then," says the mother. " While you refuse you shall be scourged with fire. I have no anger. Your crime grew because I suffered it to grow. I have no anger, for in the heart's-blood of my darlings my sin is washed away. I ask for peace, I breathe only good will. But Peace you have learned that I mean to have!"


THE indomitable soldier who saved the day for us at Chickamauga after the commanding General supposed it to be lost, has won another and decisive victory before Nashville ; and the name of THOMAS is henceforth as popularly precious as that of GRANT, of SHERMAN, and of SHERIDAN. His management of the Tennessee campaign has been masterly even to eyes that are not military. SHERMAN confided to him that

part of the country. HOOD'S victory would have been SHERMAN'S humiliation as well as THOMAS'S defeat ; but SHERMAN knew his man, and THOMAS knew his men, and simultaneously with SHERMAN'S arrival upon the coast HOOD is driven back, baffled and routed and disgraced.

Poor General HOOD went upon a fool's errand, and JEFFERSON DAVIS sent him. Nor is it possible that the great disaster which uniformly follows JEFFERSON DAVIS'S visits and advice in the Southwest can fail to injure his prestige among faithful rebels. Except for him SHERMAN might now have been at Atlanta and HOOD watching him there. But the wit of charlatans is the opportunity of wise men. Davis must needs rush frantically into Georgia ; order HOOD to the rear of the Yankees; announce to the Georgians that SHERMAN'S retreat was to be more terrible than that of NAPOLEON from Russia; utter at Macon, Augusta., and Columbia a few hysterical sneers and cries, hasten home to Richmond to watch the game and presto ! in two months HOOD is routed, and SHERMAN has victoriously traversed Georgia to the sea.

These are facts which every rebel can plainly mark. They can see how SHERMAN has handled DAVIS, as the elephant disposes of the bull in the Saragossa arena. The bull dashes in; the elephant gazes at him, and as the furious animal plunges toward him, with one blow of the elephant's trunk he is thrown to the ground, and with one pressure of his foot he is trampled to death. Davis, with every other rebel, has found his master.

And while the air rings with victory it is impossible not to contrast the present command of our armies with that of previous years. Against the Union armies, with GRANT, SHERMAN, SHERIDAN, and THOMAS at their heads, what have the rebels to show? After LEE at Richmond, who has proved himself to be a good defensive and a very poor aggressive, soldier, there are some partisan chiefs, and then no-thing. Neither BRAGG, nor HOOD, nor BEAUREGARD, nor HARDEE, nor EARLY, nor LONG STREET, nor JOE JOHNSTON have shown great military genius. They were superior to many of our minor Generals, but while we have patiently endured the winnowing of time, and are at length rewarded with truly remarkable soldiers, the rebels had evidently their best at first. And from the moment that the United States began to be relieved of its fancy and political Generals our success has been steadily increasing. The only real disaster to the Union cause during the last year was the disgraceful Red River expedition, and that was not commanded by a soldier.. No man could ask for a more able leadership of our armies and navies than that they have.

And let no skeptic say that HOOD'S army will only withdraw and must be defeated again ; and that therefore no real advantage is gained. For although THOMAS may not destroy it, as the English did the French army after Waterloo, yet noon's army deprived of fifty guns, with thousands of its men, and several of its chief officers captured, with the consciousness of total failure in its attempt, and of a tottering cause all around it, may be an army still, but it is not the same army that with foolish pride invested Nashville. It is not an army that can impede or perplex General THOMAS. The year ends in national glory ; let it also end in national gratitude.


THE speech made by Professor GOLDWIN SMITH on the evening before his departure for England is described as sad. It is not surprising that it was so when we reflect how determined the rebel intriguers in Canada, the Canadians themselves, and a large party among our selves, seem to be, to involve England and the United States in war, while Mr. SMITH, with every thoughtful American and Englishman, knows that such an event would be a profound misfortune to civilization itself:

Certainly it should be enough to make the most exasperated enemy of England pause, to reflect that his wrath is used by rebel emissaries as a tool against his own country. The one thing that would set all the bells of Richmond ringing, that would be more than an of set to SHERMAN'S and THOMAS'S successes, that would nerve LEE'S arm to strike more cheerfully and heavily at GRANT, is a menacing difficulty, and chiefly a war, with England. To that end all the rebel agents in Canada are working ; and if this foolish Justice COURSAL could, by his release of the St. Alban raiders, occasion war, a statue of lead would justly be decreed to him by the rebel Congress, as the greatest benefactor of the rebellion.

That the governing class in England are, as a body, opposed to us is true, and the reason of the opposition is obvious. The only excuse for a monarchy is its cheapness. It is a better police or it is nothing. But if it can be shown that a nation can govern itself and suppress a fearful rebellion, and conduct a general and most exciting election in the midst of civil war with perfect tranquillity, then a republican form is demonstrated to be cheaper, easier, and better, and what can a monarchy say for itself? The objection to our system has hitherto been

that it was never tried. In June, on a calm sea, your pretty yacht sails smoothly enough, has been the cry, wait until January and a tempest; they are now here, and if out of the tornado the yacht safely emerges, the critics must be dumb. The aristocratic or feudal form has sincerely disbelieved in our popular system. It could not wish it success, for success was its own destruction. Therefore, with few exceptions, the aristocracy of England has been against us, and the commercial class, which hopes one day to be aristocratic, follows in its wake. The aristocrats and the snobs are our enemies. But they are not England.

Not only GOLDWIN SMITH says that "the main body" of the English people are not against us, but Earl RUSSELL at Blairgowrie, more than a, year ago, frankly confessed that the British Government would be neutral because the majority of the people sympathized with the Government of the United States. These are witnesses from both sides. GOLDWIN SMITH is one of " the main body" for which he speaks. Lord RUSSELL is one of the hostile governing class, which the opinion of the main body controls.

Now although it is true that the aristocracy directs the acts of the Government, it has regard in that direction to the popular sentiment. It stopped the rams very decidedly, not only because it was told that we should regard their departure as a virtual declaration of war, but because it knew that a war with the United States would not be popular in England. The England of a hundred years ago, which was that of the aristocracy unchecked by the people, would have long since recognized the rebel Confederacy and made war upon us. But as governments come to represent the people, directly or indirectly, they grow wiser. It is the people that pays, the people that fights, the people that suffers, and they will not blindly or foolishly rush to war. In our own case the British aristocracy, the rebels, and the rebel emissaries in Europe and Canada, would gladly embroil the two nations. But what have the American people and the English people to gain by war ?

National honor is not vindicated by giving way to passion or prejudice. A hot and furious nation is no more respectable a sight than an angry man. The haughty insolence of manner in a government should no more disturb the national equanimity than the superciliousness of an English Lord should exasperate a cool American gentleman. He is a gentleman who keeps his temper, and whoever keeps his temper best protects his honor and defends his life.

If the sound public sense of England can not restrain its Government from direct or indirect acts of injury and outrage upon this country, war will, of course, follow, sooner or later. But, meanwhile, let us all carefully discriminate our friends from our enemies, nor be swift to suppose that the acts of individuals are necessarily national acts. The meeting in Liverpool to protest against the escape of the Alabama was quite as significant as the sailing of the vessel. The timely detention of the rams by Earl Hussman was quite as important a fact as the rescue of the pirate Semmes by an English "gentleman ;" and the repudiation by the Canadian authorities of the judgment of COURSAL is a much weightier event than that Dogberry's release of the St. Alban robbers.


IN view of the information in his possession of contemplated raids, and of the formal release of the St. Alban robbers and murderers, General Dix could hardly do less than authorize the pursuit of invaders upon our soil wherever they might flee for refuge. For the solemn judgment of a court must be held to be final until it is reversed, or until it is repudiated by the executive authority of the Government, and meanwhile the whole frontier is exposed to invasion and massacre. But when the President learned the prompt disavowal by the Canadian Government of the action of Justice COURSAL, he, in turn, did well to avoid unnecessary complication by revoking the order. For if Canada means to guard her own frontier it is much better that she should do it than we.

Yet General DIX'S order was not necessarily, in an offensive sense, hostile. The decision of COURSAL was a simple declaration that the laws of Canada did not defend a neighboring nation from attacks proceeding from Canadian soil. That is to say, the laws of Canada, as expounded by COURSAL, did not maintain her neutrality, and consequently did not protect our rights. In such cases the international custom or law is very clear and unmistakable.

PHILLIMORE, a chief authority upon international law, says : " A rebellion or a civil commotion, it may happen, agitates a nation. While the authorities are engaged in repressing it, bands of rebels pass the frontier to shelter themselves under the protection of the conterminous state, and from thence, with restored strength. and fresh appliances, renew their invasion upon the state from which they have escaped. The invaded state remonstrates. The remonstrance, whether from favor to rebels or feebleness of the executive, is unheeded, or, at least, the evil complained of remains unredressed. In this state of things the invaded state is warranted by

international law in crossing the frontier and in taking the necessary means for her safety, whether these he the capture or dispersion of the rebels or the destruction of their stronghold, as the exigencies of the ease may require."

VATTEL also says " If his neighbor affords a refuge to his enemies, enabling them to recruit and attack him at leisure, he must either prevent them from so doing, or else they may be sought and fought on his territories."

The release of the St. Alban raiders was, under the circumstances, properly taken as a declaration that the Canadian law can not or will not protect the neighboring nation. For if it were said that the warrant of arrest was not properly signed, the reply was why, in a case so momentous, was it not properly signed? That fact, of itself, indicated that "favor to rebels" which PHILLIMORE cites as justification of pursuit by the aggrieved nation. Or if it were urged that perhaps the next warrant would be properly signed, and perhaps the next Judge would decide differently, the reply was that in the mean while American citizens might be robbed and murdered. Moreover, there was no reason to suppose that the Canadian Government or people would disavow the decision of COURSAL. They have been uniformly and furiously hostile to us. The same robbers might depart in the same night upon another expedition. General DIX knew that such enterprises were making ready. He could not tell how soon the Government would act, if it acted at all, and it was for the immediate state of things that his order was intended.

The unexpected and entire repudiation of COURSAL'S decision, which the Canadian Government is understood to have made, properly terminated the necessity for such an order. If Canada says she will protect our rights upon her soil, she is entitled to our patient waiting until the fact is proved either that she can or can not. Nor can the judgment of COURSAL now be held as proof that she can not or will not, since public opinion and the executive authorities refuse to acknowledge it.


THE Richmond Enquirer declares that the only hope of saving the rebel Confederacy lies in destroying its corner stone. " Let us free and arm the slaves," it says, " to defend a Confederacy whose object is the perpetuity of slavery." And General LEE is reported to cry Amen ! It is in vain that JEFFERSON DAVIS and his associates insist that they are fighting for their independence, and care nothing for slavery ; because the world knows, and they have themselves announced, that they wished their independence for the purpose of maintaining slavery. They claim that they are essentially a different people; that their social and industrial systems are inharmonious with those of the rest of the country ; that, in a word, the North and the South are incompatible. If that were so, it is but another way of saying that they cherish slavery, and the rest of the country does not. They began the rebellion to save slavery, and now they propose to abolish slavery to save the rebellion. The military force and the logic of this infamous conspiracy against civil order and human nature break down together. The pretense of independence is as hollow as the "Confederacy." The whole moral and military rebellion is a shell which is gradually crumbling in the grasp of a people faithful to liberty and law.

The practical question of arming the slaves is interesting. What would be the effect of the movement, even if the mere proposal did not cast an apple of discord into the happy family of " free, sovereign, and independent States of the Southern Confederacy ?" Would it prolong the war ? Would the slaves fight for the slave drivers ?

It is obvious that the large mass of slaves are so ignorant that they might easily believe their masters when told that the Yankees would sell them to Cuba. But the truth is, as told by slave holders themselves and confirmed by universal testimony, that the slaves perfectly understand the war. Notwithstanding our doubtful policy at the opening of the struggle ; despite the foolish orders of our Generals, and the painful stupidity of the twaddle that " we don't care about niXXers," which might well have alienated the sympathy of the slaves they have been patient, intelligent, and sympathetic ; always our best guides, our most faithful friends, and truer to our own cause than we ourselves have been. They have never doubted, according to the most trusty testimony, any more than the laboring classes of Europe, that the cause of the Union and Government was their cause. The fear of being sold to Cuba by the Yankees will not be very terrible to them.

There is another important consideration whether many of the slaves who are attached to their masters and the plantations on which they live will not fight for them ? Undoubtedly in some instances this would be the case. But it is the house servants, not the field hands, who would do it; and while the house servants might be willing to defend their homes when they were drafted into companies and regiments, and marched elsewhere to fight, then for the very reason that they are the most intelligent of slaves, they (Next Page)




Site Copyright 2003-2018 Son of the South.  For Questions or comments about this collection, contact

Privacy Policy

Are you Scared and Confused? Read My Snake Story, a story of hope and encouragement, to help you face your fears.