Sherman's March


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, December 10, 1864

Harper's Weekly was the most popular newspaper of the Civil War. These papers were read by millions of Americans, hungry for news of the war. Today, you can read these newspapers on our WEB site, and watch the war unfold week by week on the pages of these incredible newspapers.

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Civil War Refugees

Sherman's March

Sherman's March

March to the Sea

March to the Sea



Stone River

Stone River Monument


Battlefield Front

General Rawlings

General Rawlings

Slave Cartoon

Slave Cartoon


Exchanged Prisoners

Sherman's March Across Georgia

General Sherman's March Across Georgia








[DECEMBER 10, 1864



I PASSED two years—long, weary years--Amid the traitor band That trampled on our glorious Flag

Down in the Southern land.

I herd d the shouts, as State by State

So madly fell away--

Fell, as the stars from heaven shall fall When comes the Judgment-Day

Fell, as the rebel angels fell

Who lost their thrones of light,

And now the sentence dread await

To everlasting night.

I saw the traitors' banner rise,

Our own flag in the dust;

And whispered to my beating heart,

" Be patient, God is just!" I saw the scornful rebel host

March by in all their pride;

And when I heard their boasts my heart

Almost within me died.

I saw that host come back again,

An army now no more,

But flying, scattered as the chaff Of autumn's thrashing-floor.

Then, pressing on the fleeing throng,

There soon burst on my view A column strong of riders bold,

All clad in loyal blue.

Each foot the stirrup firmly pressed, Each flashing blade was out,

I heard them shout : "Hurrah! hurrah !"

As victors only shout.

But nobler sight than flashing steel,

Than steeds or stalwart men,

I saw—and oh ! I wept for joy

My Country's Flag again.

Near Bunker Hill I first drew breath : Then how could I forget

The lessons learned so near the spot

With Warren's blood once wet ? A woman—yet I waved my hand,

And "Welcome! welcome !" cried, And felt, if need were, for that Flag

I freely could have died.

My dark-eyed boys were by me, and

Through all life's weary track They never will forget the day

We saw the Flag come back.

Oh! there are many in that land

Where float the rebel "Bars"   , Who mourn the sad eclipse, yet know

That heaven still holds the Stars. Between them and those shining worlds

The war-cloud rises black;

But peace will soon the cloud disperse, And all the Stars come back.

God speed the day ! for when it comes The tears will fall like rain,

And thousands in the South will hail The Old Flag back again.




THE campaign of General SHERMAN is striking and daring, but not more so than his advance from Chattanooga, of which it is a continuation. At Atlanta, with a slender line of railroad nearly two hundred miles long, exposed to the forays of the rebel cavalry, his position was uncertain. The advantages were not balanced by the risks. He has therefore made it useless for either party, and destroying as he goes, he carries a line of fire straight across the surface of the rebel section, cutting a terrible swath to the sea.

General SHERMAN does not play at war. " War is cruelty," he says, " and you can not refine it," and he believes that they who have brought war upon the country will justly feel its sharpest edge. Yet he only is wise who sees in SHERMAN'S flashing sword the true olive branch. When the deluded Southern people feel that the Government is strong enough to pierce their section where it will ; that the national armies can march and countermarch at their pleasure ; that the shrewdest plans of their own Generals are outwitted and baffled ; and those Generals perceive that they have lost their supreme military advantage of interior lines, a moral victory is won.

It may be true, as the rebels say, that the march of SHERMAN'S army is merely like the flight of an arrow which can not wound the air through which it passes. The rebel army may close in behind him. The territory he crosses may still own the rebel sway ; and he may hold only the ground upon which he actually stands. But the first victory of such a campaign is not visible. Not a rebel soldier may fall before him, but the hearts of a host faint within them. Not a field may be permanently held by him, but the rebel owner knows that the tenure of his own possession is loosened. The arrow may not wound the air, but when you have learned that the air which you deemed impervious has been pierced by an arrow, you will hear a hurtling all the time,

SHERMAN'S campaign is one of great difficulties and dangers. The conviction of the rebels that, if they could embarrass or defeat him, their prestige would be regained, and their terrible disasters of the last year condoned, will incite them to the utmost effort of desperation to destroy him. It is the duty of all sensible Union

men not to exult, not to be transported wits excessive expectation, but to watch and hope and pray. All the circumstances—the absence of noon's army, the blithe courage of SHERMAN'S men, his own indomitable energy and great genius—favor our noble General. We may justly believe that he will keep his Christmas by the sea. But we ought to guard against the possible consequence of undue elation. If, forgetting the chances of war, we insist that there is nothing but absolute success to be expected at every step of SHERMAN'S movement, we may find ourselves paying the penalty of our own folly in a depressing and overpowering reaction of feeling.


THE plot to burn the hotels and create universal confusion utterly and even ludicrously failed. It might have been a destruction of life and property as terrible as it was wanton. It was quite sufficient, however, to show the spirit of the whole rebellion. The "chivalry" which starves Union prisoners to death, and suffers them to fall a prey to filth and vermin, consistently attempts to burn innocent women and children.

The enterprise is another illustration of the delights of State sovereignty which the rebellion professedly seeks to assert. We have, in the attempt of Friday night last, a fair intimation of what we are to expect when New Jersey and Vermont and Pennsylvania are independent powers between which and the independent empire of New York a quarrel chances to arise. And yet not quite so in the cases we suppose. If either of those States were a nation at war with another, war would not be conducted exactly in this " chivalric" method. It requires the imbruting of the spirit of a whole community by the custom of holding men and women as slaves before such fiendish malignity is developed.

But we can see in this plot the agreeable consequences of a possible war with " the Southern Confederacy," if that name should ever become a thing. The peace apostles, who incite massacre and sigh over war, will perhaps inform us how much blood and sorrow would be saved by patching up a truce with men capable of these things, instead of showing them that neither by such crimes, nor by the great wanton war which they have forced upon the country, can they succeed. The inevitable consequence of the plot will be a firmer purpose and a more unhesitating hand in striking at the heart of rebellion.


THE Richmond Examiner, speaking of the significance of our late election, says : " It is at last plain that we must defend ourselves with all our force, or else sink into serfs ; and we must stand together, or else sink together with out a hope of redemption."

This is an illustration of the method by which the Southern mind is fired, to use YANCEY'S phrase. The " South" is vaguely called by the rebel leaders " our country," and submission to the equal laws of the United States is sinking into serfdom. Are all those who politically differ from the Administration—in other words, are the constitutional minority in this country serfs? If they are so now, they were so always ; and down to 1860 the rebel chiefs controlled this Government. Is it then so very unfair that, having by their own interpretation so long held the rest of their fellow citizens as serfs, they should now take their turn ?

But nothing is more amusingly false than such an assertion. It is merely a fierce appeal to prejudice and passion. In the year 1745 there was the last STUART rebellion against the British Government. It was suppressed by arms, and the authority of the Government was restored. Were the Scots who took part in that movement or are their descendants serfs ? The Whisky insurrection was put down by WASHINGTON. Are the Western Pennsylvanians serfs? SHAYS' rebellion was overpowered and tranquillity restored. Are the people of central Massachusetts serfs ? The attempt at forcible nullification in South Carolina was repressed. Have the South Carolinians been serfs ever since ? If so, why have they regularly taken part in every election until they, with their friends, were defeated? Are we to understand that PRESTON BROOKS was a serf raising his hand against his master ? Have the men who lead the rebellion been until the year 1861 what Gurth was in " Ivanhoe," born thralls of Cedric the Saxon ?

The folly of such talk is transparent. If they were not serfs in the year 1859, when they acknowledged the government of the common country, how will they become such when they again acknowledge it? If a man resists the law, and the law is too strong for him, and he yields, when the penalty of the law is satisfied, and he returns to his equal allegiance with all other citizens, he is no more a serf than they. If JEFFERSON DAVIS was not a serf when he was Secretary of War under this Government, he can not be a serf when he is a simple citizen under it ; no, and he does not become a serf should he be executed for capital crime against it. Are the " Confederates" who are punished for offenses against " the Confederacy" serfs?

If they are not, neither are the " Confederates" who yield to the authority of the United States Government.

But they say it is not the Government of their choice. That may be, but that is not a valid plea for resistance. The recently elected President was not the preference of the city of New York. Is the city therefore a congregation of mere serfs because it peacefully accepts the result of an election in which it took part ? There are whole sections of Georgia and North Carolina of which Mr. DAVIS is not the choice for a leader. Does the Examiner consider them serfs because they do not secede and declare that their " country" will have nothing to do with the DAVIS tyranny at Richmond ?

It is by this kind of frenzied and futile talk that the minds of the Southern people are excited. They are beyond reason now. Nothing remains but to destroy their military force, and to hold them as a child struggling with rage is held, until he falls exhausted, and his mind, gradually surmounting blind fury, begins to see the truth.


THE first point is safety. The road itself built in the best way, of the best materials, should be carefully and constantly watched, to ascertain when renewals of rails, sleepers, and beds are necessary, and to guard against accidents of running. There is but one way in which this care can be secured, and that is by the exaction of the sternest penalties for every accident.

A railroad is a pecuniary enterprise, and if imperfect construction and careless superintendence entail heavy loss there will be adequate completeness and care. If, for instance, the Legislature of New York were now, in session, and should enact a law that for every future railroad accident within the State the Company should be liable not only to the payment of damages in separate individual suits of the passengers, but should also pay a round sum into the State Treasury, so large that two or three penalties of the kind during the year would consume the profits of the road, there would be such a scrutiny of roads, such an organization of carefulness along the lines, as has never been known in the country, and railroad stock would ascend to a delightful value as a permanent investment.

When the rigors of the law are so sure that the mere sight of a doubtful-looking rail or an ancient sleeper appalls the switchman and the laborer with the fear that if it splits or breaks or rots their individual pockets will suffer, and when the jerking, jumping plunge of the train along the rickety track brings the heart of the director and stockholder into his mouth, not with the fear of losing his life, but his dividend, we maybe very sure that whatever human skill and foresight can do to avoid accidents will be done.   

No Company, of course, should be held responsible for what it clearly could not help. For instance, we would not have it liable for the death of a passenger in the cars from apoplexy. That might be construed as a super refinement of justice. But a permanent Railway Commission there should be, which should strictly investigate all the circumstances of every disaster, large or small. That Commission should bring a suit against the offending road in the name of the State, and the extreme penalty should be exacted.

It is only in some such way that the public safety upon railroads can be secured and public confidence restored. The universal conviction now is that the roads are becoming daily more dangerous, and that the Life Insurance Companies will soon excuse themselves from railroad risks. A stoppage upon the road, or an unusual movement in the cars, excites the most unpleasant emotions. Certain roads are viewed with peculiar apprehension, and men breathe more freely when they are safely at the end of them. The curious old speculations are revived that, according to the statistics of railway travel, every man who has traveled a certain number of miles is liable to have his arm broken ; a few more and his leg is in danger ; and after a certain number of miles traveled his neck may be broken at any moment to keep the inexorable statistics straight.

Thus we repeat the legend of the Minotaur, and thus, in the neatest and most becoming traveling dress, we expose Andromeda to the monster. It is only the form of the horror that changes. Where is the essential difference between the annual sacrifice of seven fair youths and seven lovely maids of Athens to the insatiable brute of Crete, and the annual sacrifice of seven youths and maids of Baltimore, let us say, or New York, or Chicago, or St. Louis, to the insatiable Greed of Gain ? We plume our selves at our peril upon our superior civilization, The test of civilization is respect for human life and liberty.

Railroads are for the convenience of the people, and the people are fools if they do not take care, by law, that they shall not be the victims of the railroads. When the Central Road comes to Albany this winter and asks for favors, let the people grant them only upon fair and unavoidable, conditions.


A NOBLER, braver, or more skillful body of men than the police of New York does not exist. This great restless city lies safe in their protecting care. Firm, courteous, prompt, its resistible, they are a model band of citizens and officers. Their services in the draft riots of 1863 are already historical. Their efficiency in the late incendiary plot is not less memorable.

No men in the country fill more arduous and responsible positions than President ACTON of the Board of Police Commissioners and Superintendent KENNEDY, and no men fill them more ably. Indeed the public knowledge of their singular sagacity and ability, with those of their associates, inspires a consciousness of security like the presence of an army.

No legislative act was ever more entirely vindicated by the result than the appointment of the Metropolitan Police. It should have been enough to satisfy every honest man that it was both just and desirable, that it was bitterly opposed by the then Mayor of the city. Not one of the ill consequences predicted has ensued. It has never been a partisan body or worked to party ends. The city has never been so safe, the rights of every citizen so secure, the method of police business so exact, comprehensive, and efficient as since the appointment of the Metropolitan Police. Their daily service is an incalculable benefit. There is no more honorable uniform than that they wear.


IT is amusing to see how a man in a passion lets the truth escape him. The London Times, which has constantly striven to represent the rebellion as the noble effort of an oppressed people to recover and defend their liberties, and has with perfect success falsified every fact in the history of the war, unguardedly tells the naked truth in a late article written under the consciousness of the extremity of the rebel cause.

It is speaking of the project of arming the slaves at the South, and the Times innocently remarks: " The South has no reason to doubt that the negro will fight just as bravely in support of the cause of slavery, which is the cause of his master, as he will in the cause of liberty." And it adds of its particular friends the rebels : " The man who would submit without a murmur to the impressment of his horses or his crops, may very likely shrink back with a species of superstitious horror from the attempt of his own Government [at Richmond] to deprive him of those very slaves for whom he has already fought a long and desperate war."

This is as it should be. The Times confesses that this insurrection is an effort to save slavery; and the paper whose asserted pride it is to defend "fair play"—the representative of the aristocratic governing class of England deliberately supports as a manly assertion of an undoubted right the armed effort of a body of men to overthrow a Government, which they do not pretend has ever wronged them, merely for the sake of preserving slavery. Does any really intelligent and thoughtful Englishman wonder that his country is detested by all other nations when he sees that its leading journal, holding a position which no other paper holds in any other country, is guilty of such a crime against human nature and civil society?

We do not for a moment forget the sympathy and generous service of our friends in England who, understanding this war, truly appreciate and despise the course of the Times and its adherents. But the fact of which we speak will help explain to them the indignation which they hear so often breathed against England. They may he very sure that if the mine owners any where in England should revolt against the British Government for the sole purpose of more surely imbruting the unhappy miners, no American statesman in office would applaud their insurrection as the founding of a nation, as Mr. GLADSTONE said of this rebellion ; and if any leading newspaper here, clearly recognizing the object of the insurrection, vehemently supported it, it would be overwhelmed with the derision and wrath of the great body of the people.


THE following extract, from a late number of a violently partisan journal, is in the style and spirit of BENEDICT ARNOLD'S sneers and the old Tory flings in the Revolution

" Does any one suppose that a war which, with every fluctuation, brings money to the cabal that conducts it, whose very disasters are turned to profit, and the bloodshed of defeat ' coined into drachmas' by it, will be given up? No; it will be clung to just so long as it can be worked with profit by its speculating managers."

The people of this country have just decided, by an immense majority and in almost every loyal State, to maintain their Government and the Union, and this extract represents the war to that end as conducted by a " cabal." It implies, moreover, that the war is both unnecessary and mercenary. The terms in which it describes a bloody struggle, forced upon the people of the United States by rebels who seized the national property, fired upon the national flag, and defied the national authority, reveal a total want (Next Page)




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