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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

Nesho

Monitor Neosho

Dresses

Civil War Dresses

Burning Railroads

Troops Burning Railroads

Union Christmas Dinner

Abraham Lincoln and the Union Christmas Dinner

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HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[DECEMBER 31, 1864.

838

A CHRISTMAS BALLAD.

IN the far off Polar seas,

Far beyond the Hebrides,

Where the icebergs, towering high, Seem to pierce the wintry sky, And the fur-clad Esquimaux Glide in sledges o'er the snow, Dwells St. Nick, a merry wight, Patron saint of Christmas night.

Solid walls of massive ice, Bearing many a quaint device, Flanked by graceful turrets twain, Clear as clearest porcelain, Rearing at a lofty height

Christ's pure cross in simple white, Carven with surpassing art From an iceberg's crystal heart.

Here St. Nick, in royal state, Dwells until December late

Clips the days at either end,

And the nights each way extend; Then with his attendant sprites Scours the earth on wintry nights, Bringing back in well-filled hands Children's gifts from many lands.

Here are whistles, tops, and toys, Meant to gladden little boys ;

Skates and sleds that soon will glide O'er the ice or steep hill-side. Here are dolls with flaxen curls, Sure to charm the little girls; Christmas books, with pictures gay, For this welcome holiday.

In the court the reindeer wait; Filled the sledge with costly freight. As the first faint shadow falls

Promptly from his icy halls

Steps St. Nick, and grasps the rein : Straight his coursers scour the plain, And afar, in measured time,

Sounds the. sleigh-bells' silver chime.

Like an arrow from the bow Speed the reindeer o'er the snow. Onward ! Now the loaded sleigh Skirts the shores of Hudson's Bay. Onward, till the stunted tree Gains a loftier majesty,

And the curling smoke-wreaths rise Under less inclement skies.

Built upon a hill-side steep

Lies a city wrapt in sleep.

Up and down the lonely street Sleepy watchmen pace their beat. Little heeds them Santa Claus; Not for him are human laws. With a leap he leaves the ground, Scales the chimney at a bound.

Five small stockings hang below, Five small stockings in a row.

From his pocket blithe St. Nick

Fills the waiting stockings quick : Some with sweetmeats, some with toys, Gifts for girls, and gifts for boys ; Mounts the chimney like a bird, And the bells are once more heard.

Santa Claus ! Good Christmas Saint, In whose heart no selfish taint Findeth place, some homes there be Where no stockings wait for thee—Homes where sad young faces wear Painful marks of Want and Care, And the Christmas morning brings No fair hope of better things.

Can you not some crumbs bestow On these children steeped in woe; Steal a single look of care

Which their sad young faces wear; From your overflowing store

Give to them whose hearts are sore? No sad eyes should greet the morn When the infant Christ was born.

GENERAL WARREN'S RAID.

ONE of the most successful expeditions against General LEE'S communications was that undertaken recently by General WARREN in his raid on the Weldon Railroad, which we illustrate on pages 836 and 837. The Fifth Corps, accompanied by MOTT'S Division of the Second and GREGG'S Cavalry, made up the expeditionary force which set out December 7, having been previously withdrawn from the lines around Petersburg and massed near the Avery House. In the midst of a driving rain, which continued all day and the next night, WARREN moved rapidly down the Jerusalem Road to the Nottaway River, which he crossed by means of a pontoon at Freeman's Bridge. The next day, leaving a cavalry guard at the crossing, and protected on his flanks by cavalry, he continued his march through Sussex Court House, east of the railroad, toward Nottoway Bridge. This point was covered by the enemy's cavalry, which was steadily driven back. The bridge was reached at noon and destroyed. It was 200 feet long, and spanned the Nottoway River. The raiding column was now secure against any attack from Petersburg, and completely annihilated the railroad south of the bridge for a distance of eight miles. The track was lifted up, ties and rails together, as shown in one of our sketches, and heaped in piles and burned. The bonfire, in the darkness of the night, presented a brilliant spectacle. The rain had ceased, and it was now bitter cold, and this fact did not diminish the zest of the

soldiers for making bonfires. Jarret's Depot was burned early in the morning of the 9th, and the work of destruction continued thence southward. During the day two bridges each 60 feet long were burned, and at night WARREN had reached Bellfield Station, near the Meherrin River. Twenty miles of the railroad had been completely destroyed, and no opposition had been encountered. A reconnoissance toward Hicksford on the river having developed the fact that the enemy was strongly posted at that point, with considerable artillery, WARREN turned northward on the 10th. On the return the town of Sussex Court House was burned in retaliation for the murder of several of our soldiers by the enemy at that point. A large number of contrabands accompanied the returning column.

In estimating the value of General WARREN'S raid it must be remembered that LEE had previously contrived to convey a large amount of supplies to his army by means of the Boydton plank road, which connected the Southside Railroad with the point where the Weldon had been interrupted. He had also nearly completed a branch railroad from Stony Creek Station to the Southside Road. The portion of the railroad destroyed by WARREN is south of Stony Creek Station, and until the road is repaired LEE is entirely cut off from eastern North Carolina, and from the portion of Virginia east of the Weldon Road. This raid will be of great service to General GRANT ; its work was done in three days, and it was effected with the loss of less than one hundred men. The great success of the expedition was due to General WARREN'S skill, and to his personal superintendence at every point. The Fifth Corps covered itself with glory, and especially General CRAWFORD'S Division, which had the advance.

CAPTURE OF THE " ARMSTRONG."

WE give on page 837 an illustration of the chase and capture of the blockade-runner Armstrong by our gun-boats. She was captured 4th instant, eighty miles off Wilmington, by the steamers R. R. Cuyler, Mackinaw, and Gettysburg, after an exciting chase of eight hours, during which nearly one hundred shot and shell were fired, one of the shells striking her on the starboard quarter, then bursting and setting her on fire. The fire was extinguished before any serious damage was done. The Armstrong is very fast, and averages fourteen miles per hour. She is an iron side wheel steamer of 700 tons burden. She was on her first trip from Wilmington, and was laden with cotton.

MARGARET MILLER.

A STORY IN NINE CHAPTERS.
CHAPTER IV.

IT was late that night when the little steamer came to her moorings. Twice she got aground, with the prospect of waiting for the returning tide ; but "All hands forward!" and she slid over the shoals in triumph. Vainly we urged Robert to disregard the call, and avoid the misty night air by remaining in the cabin. He could not be prevailed upon while ladies were assisting to lighten the boat. The consequence was an increased hoarseness next morning, accompanied with great weariness and weakness.

Neither of us went to breakfast ; for, with broken rest and solicitude, I was almost as much exhausted as my brother.

Colonel Hamilton came at ten to give Robert another taste of the pine woods" Perhaps the last," he said and was surprised to find him so ill.

"But you'll be all right again in a day or two," he said, encouragingly. "Every convalescent has ' pull-backs,' to teach him prudence perhaps."

" Or patience," my brother responded, in a tone in which grief and gentleness were pain fully apparent.

" Some of us have need to be taught that, my dear fellow, but not you. I had never strength to endure suffering, physical or mental, for a moment without murmuring."

Colonel Hamilton's voice was ahnost as soft as my brother's.

" I shall come to you again directly after dinner," he said, as he turned to leave the room. " Your sister will need a siesta."

"I have been trying to prevail upon her to take either rest or a ride this morning," Robert said.

" My carriage is at the door, and I would gladly accompany her to another of my flower-gardens. Possibly we might discover the brace-let lost on that other very unfortunate excursion," he added, turning to me.

It is true I had lost the bracelet with which I encircled my bouquet ; but never having mentioned the circumstance it puzzled me to under-stand how the Colonel should have learned the fact. There was not a ray of intelligence in the glance which met my look of inquiry, only a quiet waiting for a decision of the question of the ride.

"I am too fatigued to ride this morning, but the siesta is a temptation to which I will yield willingly."

Robert and I dined together in the full enjoyment of dressing-gown and slippers. He was more comfortable than in the morning, and spoke with comparative ease, though the cherry-like glow of his cheeks mocked the fainter bloom of health. While we were lingering over our coffee the Colonel came to fulfill his promise.

" Guiltless of cigar," my brother said, smiling him a welcome, and motioning him to be seated at the same time.

" Guiltless of coffee and bananas also," he re-turned, nodding significantly at our dessert.

" So much the better. These bananas came

by the last boat from Key West, and are very fine."

Jimmy was ordered to bring an extra cup and plate. I played hostess until a second cup of coffee was offered and declined, then retired.

A long, unbroken slumber, a sweet consequent of the last night's nervous wakefulness, ensued. The last thing I heard was the low, indistinct I sound of the gentlemen's voices in the adjoining 1 apartment. When I awoke the sun was far down in the west. Listening, I heard no sound from. my brother's room, and wondered whether he had not gone below. A few minutes sufficed for my toilet ; then raising the latch softly, I entered, and found him sleeping upon the sofa, the Colonel still sitting beside him, and holding his hand as tenderly as a woman.

"I talked your brother to sleep," he said, apologetically.

"He is no worse, I hope ?"

"Oh no ! only a little fatigued. A day or two of rest will bring him up again, I think."

"I am afraid I slept longer than you stipulated for. I am very much obliged to you for your care of my brother."

"You will accept nothing for yourself then ?" " Nothing."

He was gone, and I sat down in the seat he had just deserted, My brother slept still, though disturbedly. Changes, like crowding thoughts, passed over his countenance so rapidly as to alarm me. He whispered inarticulately at first ; then, his features calming down to a smile, he utters d, distinctly, " Whatever happen, you promise then never to lose sight of her:" and held his breath like One listening for a reply.

I answered—" Never !" thinking he might be dreaming of home and Aunt Hannah.

" God bless you, my good friend !" was his earnest response. So earnest it awoke him ! His eyes fastened upon me inquiringly, and he said,

" I thought Hamilton was with me, Margy !"

"He has just left you," I replied. "I slept the whole afternoon, and he sat with you until I came."

"He is one of the kindest of men, Margy !" " Every one appears to think so, Robert." " And why do you not like him?"

"I accord to him noble qualities, but noble qualities should. not blind one to radical defects."

" What are the faults you discover in him ?" " The chief of all—disloyalty !"

The next morning we were aroused by the stage-horn blowing vigorously for the Hillsboro ferry-man. It seemed to say—" Hasten up ! I bring you news, great • news for the glorious cause." Every one in Tampa knew the language of Jerry Dining's horn when it neared the river ; and there was a general rush for the ferry.

"What next?" I asked myself, as the shouts of the men and boys penetrated to the heart of the town. " Has Fort Pickens so soon followed Sumter, or another cowardly Twiggs delivered the arsenals and arms of another State into the hands of rebels and traitors ?"

Neither ; but the blood of Massachusetts men had reddened the streets of Baltimore on the anniversary of the battle of Lexington. For this, bonfires were lighted and the crowd huzzaed.

Robert was unable to go down to breakfast, and I went alone. All was excitement and ebullition. Maryland had shown herself worthy of a place in the Southern Constellation. Massachusetts and the scoundrel Butler were on their way South ; South Carolina and the heroic Maxey Gregg were on their way North ; there was fun ahead; one man to six was all the South wanted !

God of heavens ! what an hour, when the sons of patriots strike at their country's flag, and brothers delight in brothers' blood ! Only a few looked grave that morning, as though civil war were not so very fine a thing to be jubilant over after all.

Colonel Hamilton was not at table, Mrs. Harris, who seldom left her room in the morning, was all animation, and said she would go home on the next steamer, as no doubt her negroes would hear about the war and run away if they got a chance. Miss Kittie forgot her mirth, and spoke in a tone subdued and quiet.

We all met at dinner, when the war-news was again the exciting theme. Robert and I remained silent until a lady whom I disliked said, maliciously, I fancied : " We are going to have more speeches at the Court-house to-night, Miss Miller, to rouse up the people. Will you go and listen ?"

"Thank you, no, Madam! It is not necessary to go abroad to hear treason nowadays."

Every eye at the table was upon me, I felt certain. I looked only at Robert, who sat as undisturbed as though I had simply said "No" to the offer of bread or butter.

"Who are to be the speakers?" Miss Kittie asked, more in the tone of one who would break a disagreeable silence than who cares for information.

" Madam Rumor is not communicative on that point," she replied, gayly. "With strictest inquiry I could only learn that our friend Colonel Hamilton here would improve the occasion, and that the new preacher, whose secession view's have already been somewhat elaborated, would not. How do you think the Colonel will construe your remark, Miss Miller ?"

I was indignant, but managed to smother both anger and contempt so as to reply haughtily and coolly :

"It is of no consequence to me, Madam, how he construes it. If it suit him, he can accept it; if not, he is at liberty to reject it."

The gentleman of whom we were speaking sat obliquely opposite me. There was neither frown nor scowl on his face, such as I often noticed

when he was displeased. On the contrary, I thought he looked amused, and it annoyed me.

Miss Kittie and I went out on the upper piazza after dinner, while the gentlemen were smoking below.

"I don't understand a thing what all this quarrel is about," she said, sadly. "If time South is in the wrong I don't wish to know, for I am a Southerner. But I don't sec, any how, why individuals need indulge in personal spite, like that impertinent old thing at table. I can not help liking you just as well as though you had been born in my grandfather Gadsden's State instead of my grandfather Harris's ; and I wish you and your brother would go home with us to Mississippi."

"Brave for Miss Kittie Harris!" exclaimed a voice before I had time to reply to her warm-hearted words, and Colonel Hamilton stood near us, knocking the ashes from his cigar. " Those are my sentiments, well expressed. We have too many haters on our side, and I have no reason to doubt the feeling is most heartily reciprocated."

"I will answer for the North, Sir," I returned, warmly. "The North feels no hatred against the South. She loves our common country, and is simply determined to stand by it, and not suffer it to be overthrown, even though compelled to crush As foes."

"You speak very warmly, Miss Margy."

"I speak as I feel, then. When the troops of the United States can, if necessity require, march from Maine to Texas, and from Texas to Maine again peaceably, I shall be able to speak more calmly and coolly."

" A lady ought at all times to be safe in speaking her sentiments freely and openly. But every cause has its fanatics and its unprincipled men, who scruple at nothing in a crisis like this. For your brother's sake, then, I beg you to be guarded, Miss Miller."

"Do not think, Sir, my brother would seek safety by infidelity to his country. If he could be so base I would disown him."

He bowed and retired. Miss Kittie and I were again alone, and fell to speculating on the probabilities of a blockade, and whether Tampa was of sufficient importance to be put in the catalogue of Southern ports. Chris had commenced the packing of their trunks, that they might be ready at a minute's warning when the next steamer was signaled. It was due the next day, and Kittie begged we would accompany them down the Bay.

While we were talking about it, and planning a correspondence, Robert came with a letter for me. There was an unmistakable look of anxiety on his face, though masked with a smile.

"A letter for you from New York, Margy. I was expecting one myself, but it did not come."

" I will read you mine, then, as a sort of compensation," I said, soothingly. "It is from a mutual friend, and gives account of a great demonstration at Union Square."

I began to read, and. when I came to where I the battle-rent flag of Sumter was taken amidst deafening cheers to the bronze statue and placed in the hand of the "Father of his Country" by the very same man who had nailed it to the mast amidst the storm of rebel shot and shell, my brother's feelings overcame him, and he wept like a child. Kittie's eyes moistened also ; but it was not one of my moments of tenderness. Had I been a man I would have made a speech then and there, for I felt strong enough for martyrdom.

Colonel Hamilton's carriage stood at the door. It was not long before we heard his well-known step, firm and equal, though soft as a woman's. He came, looked inquiringly from one to another, as though suddenly checked in what he wished to say, and uncertain whether he might not be an intruder.

"Read this," I said, holding out the open let-ter by a sudden impulse, "and see how loyal men and women still love their country."

He took it without a word, sat down upon cue of the vacant seats, and read it carefully from beginning to end. Once his hand passed over his eyes, as though they were misty; but when he returned the letter without a single re-mark there was no trace of feeling whatever.

"I came to invite you for a short drive this evening—' positively the last,' " he said, turning to Robert. "Arc you able ? I think of leaving town to-morrow."

"To-morrow will be a very unlucky day for us then," returned my brother.

" Don't go to-morrow, Colonel Hamilton," interposed Kittie. "I want you all to go down the Bay with us. I think you will be easier to say good-by there than here. Please stay just one more day."

"I would gladly be persuaded, Miss Kittie, but my letters to-day are imperative. I have never before felt reluctance in leaving Tampa."

I brought my brother's palmetto and dust-coat when he decided to ride, then went with Kittie to sit with her mother until tea.

Early that night the citizens began to gather around the Court-house. We heard loud cheering for Beauregard and the Baltimore boys; cheering again for South Carolina and Maxey Gregg ; then a vociferous call for Colonel Hamilton.

He was smoking on the lower piazza, but at the call arose and walked leisurely toward the assembled crowd. Not long after we heard his voice in earnest declamation, though unable to distinguish what he said. That it was satisfactory, however, was clearly demonstrated by the noisy shouts that succeeded, and the man steed publicly committed to the cause I hated.

Robert felt the parting more than I anticipated. I had never seen him so overcome sits c the day we left home. I left him and the Colonel together, and ran away to Kittie's room,


 

 

  

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