Sherman in Georgia

 

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Civil War Harper's Weekly, December 24, 1864

Harper's Weekly was the most popular illustrated newspaper published during the Civil War. This site features these newspapers online. Reading the papers will give details and information not available anywhere else. They are an important resource for the serious student or researcher.

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HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[DECEMBER 24, 1864.

818

BARBARISM.

WRITTEN AFTER READING THE REPORT OF THE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY APPOINTED BY THE UNITED STATES SANITARY COMMISSION, 1864.

0 SICKENING record! most pathetic page

That fills the bloodstained volume of our years! E'en Love itself is fired with holy rage

By scenes that bathe a Nation's heart in tears.

Reading, what woeful visions fill my eyes

Of loathsome prisons crammed with starving men, And baleful swamps, where, 'neath the open skies, The brave, like beasts, are herded in their pen!

I see their crouching forms, their vacant stare, The hopeless look of eyes that can not weep, The wan, pinched faces, that were once so fair, Of heroes gnawing their foul rags in sleep.

I see their bony fingers spread in vain

For one sweet morsel—spread in vain to take The dear home letter—or to still retain The trinkets sacred for love's tender sake.

I hear the keeper's oath—the idiot wail, Breathing the key-note of a voiceless woe—The brutal scoffs that broken hearts assail,

The murderous shot that lays the captive low.

There, coiled in ditches through the wintry night, To shield each other from the cold they strive, Or pacing fetid chambers pray for light,

Or prone on blistering sands creep just alive.

These are thy fruits, 0 thou barbaric curse!

This Slavery is the crown that decks thy brow; This is the Christian spirit thou dost nurse—These the kind deeds thy charities allow!

0 dark the hour that saw thy shameful birth, And dark and blighting all thy guilty reign! Rouse, freemen! smite the monster from the earth, And on the nation God shall smile again.

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 1864.
SHERMAN.

HOW often, as the alarm of SHERMAN'S march has rung into some neighborhood in Georgia which had before only heard the war afar off, it must have bitterly recalled to the mind of some thoughtful Georgian the prophecy of ALEXANDER STEPHENS four years ago. He foretold ravage and desolation. He pictured the woes of war which his mad neighbors were about beginning. He tried to show them that war was unnecessary for their own purpose and that, once begun, it would be hopeless for that purpose. Others in the same State predicted the same result. " It will be a long and cruel war to save slavery," said one of the largest slave holders in Georgia, " and it will end in universal emancipation."

And now at last, after four years, the prophecy is fulfilled where it was uttered. It is fulfilled by the General who said to the Mayor of Atlanta that " war is cruelty, and you can not refine it ;" and therefore they who have brought war upon the country will be cursed forever. Every man in the State who can bear arms has been frantically summoned to the field. The seat of the Government has been hurriedly removed. The prisons have been emptied into the militia. Towns and villages are burned. Fields are wasted. There was a wild cry of universal confusion and alarm, and the whole State yet quivers with the terrible tread of SHERMAN and his men ; and as the appalled, thoughtful Georgian listens and sees, it is impossible that he should not ask himself whether it were worth while to begin a war whose pretense was puerile, whose object was revolting, and whose consequences are utterly ruinous.

The Government of the United States, after a pardonable doubt whether any considerable body of citizens actually meant to bring upon the country every dire extremity of civil war after a natural delay in employing every military resource to crush the rebellion, since that employment implied such bloodshed and desolation after exhausting every hope that the rebels would listen to the dictates of common sense and a conciliatory policy, has been taught that swift war is the surest mercy, and putting its armies and navies in the hands of the most devoted and skillful soldiers and sailors, now wages destructive war, that by the flaming sword the authority of the people may be maintained, and the ferocity of rebels subdued.

Of that tremendous and inflexible purpose the late election was the evidence, and General SHERMAN'S march through Georgia is the most signal illustration. It has vindicated the truth of General GRANT'S conviction that the rebellion was a shell strong only upon the edges ; that behind the two rebel armies there is no substantial, self defending population, and that the rebellious section can be victoriously traversed from end to end by a resolute leader and a true and tried army of loyal men. It is in vain that the rebel papers and orators sneer at " merely overrunning" their territory. It is in vain that they declare SHERMAN'S movement is a retreat, and that he might as well have fallen back to Tennessee as have marched forward to the coast. The moral triumph of a movement which reveals the fact that every available rebel is in the army of LEE or HOOD, or that the home population is so indifferent to home defense that the felons must be turned loose and armed, is incalculable.

It is true that while the armies remain there-

bellion survives. It is true that if Atlanta and Vicksburg, if Richmond and Wilmington, are occupied by us, and the armies that defend them escape, we must advance to the next point at which they make a stand: You may take Richmond, says DAVIS, as you have taken New Orleans and Memphis, but you have not conquered us. True ; but those events mark the rapidity with which we are conquering. Even the war waged by the rebels upon the Government must inevitably acknowledge the laws of war. It may be sternly and bravely fought, the determination may be desperate, the conversion of society into a camp may be complete ; but all wars waged with an equally inflexible purpose upon both sides end in one way, and one only, and that is the triumph of the side which is strongest in men and in resources.

It is folly for the rebels to say that they will never be conquered, and will never yield. Their rage does not make them more than men. Sullen hate, indeed, is not easily extinguished any where. We do not expect it to be in the rebel section. The chiefs will always hate the Government, and be always ready to conspire against it. But that is the oldest fact in history. We shall " possess and occupy" the insurgent region ; and when its population learn, as they are not now permitted to know, that the people of this country mean nothing ungenerous or unfair, but that they do mean, as they will have proved, to prevent the destruction of this nation, then the same human nature which, being deceived, has led the rebels so steadily and so long to wage a wicked war, will, being enlightened, gradually assent to a righteous and prosperous peace.

ULTIMUS ROMANORUM.

MR. CHARLES O'CONOR is reported to have said, at the meeting of the bar upon occasion of the death of Chief Justice TANEY, that he hoped the historian would not have to record that magistrate as ultimus Romanorum the last of the Romans. It is natural that Mr. O'CONOR should indulge such an apprehension. His speech at the Academy of Music some five or six years ago, and his remarks made, if we remember correctly, at the office of Mr. RICHARD LATHERS upon the very eve of the rebellion, showed that Mr. O'CONOR was of those, to whom also Judge TANEY belonged, who were willing to make any sacrifice whatever to the faction which then menaced the country with war.

As for Judge TANEY, Mr. O'CONOR is aware that, in view of the history of his appointment to his high office, and of the aid which he lent the faction in the South which is now fulfilling its menace, he has been very leniently treated since his death. History will regard his own acts and words rather than the eulogies of any admirer. But if she does record, as Mr. O'CONOR fears and every true hearted American hopes, that he was the ultimus of such Romanorum, History will never make a more gratifying record.

ON A LATE MESSAGE.

IF any man would know how the character of this country has been ennobled during the war, let him compare the late Message of President LINCOLN with that of President BUCHANAN in December, 1860. A century of civilization seems to have elapsed between them. In the latter document two astounding doctrines were set forth : one that the Government of the United States had no right to defend itself from destruction ; the other, that constitutional resistance to the manifest designs of the Southern leaders was virtually treasonable! The depth of national degradation was touched in the last Message of President BUCHANAN. The height of true national glory is foretold in the present Message of President LINCOLN, because it contemplates a return of the faith of the nation to the principles on which it was founded. Neither Mr. BUCHANAN nor his masters, the rebel chiefs, had the dimmest conception of the character or significance of the American Government. They hated its principles, and they were ready to destroy it the moment they lost control of it. Their conduct has opened the eyes of the people as nothing else could have done, We now perceive the necessity as well as the truth of our fundamental principles ; and at the same time the real spirit and intention of the men who directed the Government five years ago are plainly revealed,

Contrast this calm, simple, concise statement of public affairs this firm, manly expression of the noblest national aspiration for equal justice with BUCHANAN'S feeble whine for submission to the slave power, or with the hysterical cry of JEFFERSON DAVIS at Macon, or his elaborately false representations in his messages in favor of a war upon the mildest Government, in order to perpetuate Slavery, and you see what an American state paper should and what it should not be.

The prospects of peace as set forth by the President are exactly what every faithful citizen supposed them to be. When the men who began this war upon the Government lay down their arms, and yield to the Constitution and the laws and acts in accordance with it, the war will end. It can not end before, except in the overthrow of the Government. Those whom four

years have not taught this truth will never learn it. Those who think that the authority of the Government should be maintained by incessantly requesting rebels to mention the conditions upon which they will be pleased to obey the laws belong to the rebels in heart, and have been utterly repudiated by the people. In common with the rebels, they think the Message very " unconciliatory."

But its tranquil tone of faith in the people, and in the cause of the people attacked by slave holders ; its respectful and dignified bearing toward all other powers ; its plain and pleasing statement of the steady increase of population and of the unfailing national resources ; its heart felt congratulation upon the release of Maryland from the deadly spell of Slavery ; its truthful and encouraging representation of the progress of the war ; its direct and conclusive dealing with the proposal of" negotiations, " and the lofty confidence in a peace and union immutably founded upon justice which breathes all through it, make the Message, which is now familiar to the country, on of the sincerest, most noble, most honorable, and most truly American papers in our political history.

" CHIVALRY."

BRITISH Toryism and slave holding chivalry have a profound sympathy not only in the faith that the many were born to serve the few, but in the choice of epithets and arguments to prove their own superiority to the rest of mankind. The Richmond Examiners, speaking last winter of the Yankees, cheerfully and chivalrously remarks : " One would suppose that creatures so abounding in the stenches of moral decomposition would never be alluded to in decent society. But somehow the habit of expectorating upon the vermin that swarm the Northern dunghill has gotten the better of gentle natures, and the time rags heavily on the Southerner who refuses to indulge himself some twenty times a day in a volley of direful anathemas against the Yankee.....So the tiger that laps
blood and the beetle that gorges excrement are but Yankees of the animal kingdom......It follows that our feeling toward the people of the North, the scarabaei and vipers of humanity, should be characterized neither by rage or nausea   The convulsions of passion are out of place when one is merely scalding chinches [bed bugs]."

Now if this freedom of gentle natures from rage, and this elegance of phrase which, as you see, delicately breathes " chinches" for a more familiar name, do not prove that people who suffer their prisoners to rot and starve are " chivalric;" if they do not show that men who steal the wages of the poor and weak, who whip pregnant women and sell their children, are " gentlemen ;" and if they do not establish beyond cavil that such chivalric gentlemen have a perfect right to destroy the Government of their country at their pleasure, we are really afraid that these things are not susceptible of proof.

In the same " chivalric" spirit, evidently characterized as the preceding extract is, "neither by rage or nausea," the sympathetic Tory journal, the London Herald, a chief organ of the " English gentleman," calls the President of the United States " a vulgar, brutal boor, wholly ignorant of political science, of military affairs, of every thing else which a statesman should know    a vacillating helpless imbecile."

Considering that the American slave drivers and the British aristocracy claim to be peculiarly and exclusively gentlemen, the word gentleman is in extreme danger of falling into bad odor. Or is the horrible suspicion perhaps true, that we wretched chinches who "gorge excrement" that is, who work for our living and do not sell our children know nothing about it? O fellow scarabaei and co-vipers ! let us restrain our useless rage and nausea, and be scalded in silence by these " gentle natures."

MR. WEBB'S LETTER.

IF we are to apologize to Brazil for the capture of the Florida, we ought also to apologize for the apology that has been made by our minister, Mr. WEBB. It is impossible not to feel, upon perusing his portentous dispatch to the Brazilian Foreign Minister, that he hailed with enthusiasm the infrequent opportunity, and gladly launched away upon " sheeny vans" into the deeps of diplomacy. Mr. WEBB is a gentleman of undoubted ability and experience, but he has placed his country in an unhandsome position by what he is pleased to call, at the end of several sheets of paper, " this hasty note!" That is the sole pleasantry in his dispatch ; and the paragraph of which it is a part comprises all that he ought to have said. "In the perfect conviction that the Government of the United States will promptly do all that is consistent with its proper dignity and the honor and dignity of Brazil, the undersigned asks your Excellency to excuse," etc., etc., and renews the expression of his, etc., etc.

Such a note would have saved the honor of both countries, and secured Mr. WEBB'S immortality as a diplomatist. But does he think it suits the dignity of his country to say in effect : " England, backed by many of the great powers, and you, a little and insignificant power, de-

clared equal belligerence between us and our rebels. We protest, but we can't help our selves ; and as you, small and wretched as you are, have followed England to do a mean thing, we must apologize to you as we should be obliged to apologize in the same circumstances to England, reserving to ourselves the right of doing something about it when we are able."

We do not quarrel with Mr. WEBB'S statement of the hostile conduct of England and France in the indecent haste to acknowledge the rebels as belligerents. We do not complain that he says the United States do not accede to such an international custom. We only regret that he says these things upon such an occasion and with such evident spite toward England. If general remarks upon the subject must have been made, why not treat Brazil as an independent power, and declare firmly and courteously that the United States protest against Brazil's recognition of the rebels as naval belligerents, omitting the doubling up of the fist and the making wry faces at England? Why lug in England merely to say that if it were not for her and the other powers Brazil would not hear us apologizing? Mr. WEBB speaks of " the great injustice of England, to which Brazil, also, as soon as possible gave her sanction and approval." Does not that sentence turn the edge of the apology? Surely it is not very dignified nor polite to represent this country as saying to the rest of the world, " Ah ! you scoundrelly villains, I have my hands full just now, but as soon as I get them free, then, you rascals, you'll catch it. Meanwhile I am your very humble servant." It seems to us that St. John and Machiavelli would equally smile at such a strain,

While our hands are full and the hostility of other nations expresses itself in many ways, let us be silent. If we must speak, let us in the fewest, plainest, and calmest words protest. But whatever may be our just indignation, honor and dignity alike require that we should not foam at the mouth, nor shout unseemly epithets or sneers, nor brandish our clenched fists in futile wrath. A nation should not argue when its arguments have no guns behind them. It can argue with enemies and rivals only upon equal terms. If the terms are unequal, then let us have silence and bows, if bows must be made, under protest.

It is not the ability, patriotism, truthfulness, or argumentative skill of Mr. WEBB'S dispatch that are objectionable but its heat and indiscretion. A man may be expected to refuse an apology which is proffered him with a pair of tongs. " His Excellency Senor JOAN PEDRO DIAS VIEIRA of the council of His Majesty the Emperor, Minister and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs," may possibly ask the author of " this hasty note" to be good enough to explain his explanation.

LORD WHARNCLIFFE & CO.

LORD WHARNCLIFFE and a party of British rebel sympathizers recently asked permission to send an agent to this country to comfort the rebel prisoners in our hands. Mr. ADAMS, to whom his lordship addressed himself, properly replied that if Lord WHARNCLIFFE and his friends wished to help rebels, the best service they could render would be to minister to their diseased minds, since their bodies were well cared for, and to show them the wickedness and folly of their assault upon their Government, which never harmed or sought to harm them. It was well and worthily said. If his lordship will pardon a Yankee expression and surely so Christian a soul will be charitable ! we would suggest to him that no English rebel sympathizer, from Lords PALMERSTON and RUSSELL down to Lord WHARNCLIFFE or the Rev. Mr. PARKER of the peace petition, has been able to get up early enough in the morning to find Mr. ADAMS napping.

If Lord WHARNCLIFFE and his English friends, however, are really anxious to succor the suffering, we have the honor to inform him that the Government of a power in friendly relations with Great Britain is defending itself and the cause of equal civil liberty against a ferocious rebellion begun for the purpose of ruining that friendly nation and perpetuating human slavery objects which it would be an insult to Lord WHARNCLIFFE or any honorable Englishman to suppose that he favors. The rebels have in their power at Andersonville and elsewhere thousands of men, their loyal fellow citizens, whom they starve and torture in a manner hitherto unprecedented among people calling themselves civilized, and utterly incredible. Lord WHARNCLIFFE and his friends may see in the Report recently sent to England not only a fill and harrowing description of the fearful sufferings inflicted upon these brave men for the crime of defending their country, but also copies of the photographs appended, which tell the ghastly tale as no words can tell it.

We shall be very happy to record that Lord WHARNCLIFFE and any considerable body of " the nobility and gentry" of Great Britain are so profoundly touched by this vast and cruel suffering of the faithful citizens of a friendly power, that they have held "Liverpool bazars" to raise money for their relief, and have sought through the resident minister of that power to send it to them. Meanwhile, Lord WHARN- (Next Page)


 

 

  

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