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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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Chief Justices

Chief Justices of the Supreme Court

Sherman Georgia

Sherman in Georgia

Ogeechee River

General Sherman Crosses Ogeechee


Plymouth, North Carolina

Supreme Court

Civil War Supreme Court

San Francisco

Port of San Francisco


Your Money or Your Life



Military Railroad

Military Railroad

Rebel Women

Rebel Women









[DECEMBER 24, 1864.


JOHN JAY, the first Chief Justice of the United States, was born in New York, December 12, 17 45. He graduated at Kings (now Columbia) College, in 1764, and was admitted to the bar four years later. When the Revolutionary troubles came on he took a prominent part in the contest. He was the youngest member of the first Congress, which convened in 1774. We can barely allude to his civil services during the Revolution. In 1777 he prepared the draft of the Constitution of the State of New York, and was appointed the first Chief Justice of the State. In 1779 he was sent on a mission to Spain. That Government demanded as a condition of recognizing the independence of the United States, that the possession of Florida and the exclusive right to navigate the Mississippi should be guaranteed to Spain. JAY refused to consent that the mouth of our great river should be shut up by a foreign power. In conjunction with ADAMS, FRANKLIN, and LAURENS, Mr. JAY negotiated the treaty by which Great Britain recognized the Independence of the United States. In 1784 he returned to his country and was appointed Secretary for Foreign Affairs. When the Union took the place of the old Confederation, WASHINGTON requested him to select any office which he might prefer. He chose that of Chief Justice of the United States, to which he was appointed in 1789. In 1794 he was sent to Great Britain as Envoy Extraordinary, to negotiate an important treaty. This treaty, which settled the questions in dispute between the two nations, was violently opposed by the Democratic party, especially at the South. He was absent a year, during which time he was elected Governor of New York. He then resigned the Chief Justiceship, was twice re-elected Governor, and then, in 1801, at the age of fifty-six, resolved to retire from public life. President ADAMS, wishing to retain his services for the public, nominated him for his former place as Chief Justice, then vacant by the resignation of OLIVER ELLSWORTH. JAY declined, on the ground that he had deliberately made up his mind to retire from public life, and duty to his country did not then re-quire him to accept office. He retired to his farm in Bedford, New York, where he died May 17, 1829, in the eighty-fourth year of his age. While the question of the adoption of the Federal Constitution was before the people, HAMILTON, MADISON, and JAY projected the famous series of essays called the Federalist. JAY wrote the second, third, fourth, and fifth numbers, furnishing no more until the sixty-fourth number. During the greater part of the interval he was lying between life and death. A party of medical students had violated the grave to acquire subjects for dissection. They were put in prison ; but a mob threatened their lives. JAY and others, under the lead of HAMILTON, joined to prevent the outrage ; they were set upon by the rioters, and JAY was struck on the temple by a stone, and almost killed. He recovered only in time to write the single additional paper, on a subject which he was especially requested to undertake. To this accident it is owing that the Federalist, valuable as it is, was not rendered still more valuable by contributions from one who was recognized as the ablest political writer in the United States. Mr. JAY was one of the noblest and purest characters in our history. Party spirit ran higher in his day than ever since. The most virulent personal attacks were made by party writers and speakers. WASHINGTON himself did not escape detraction ; but no man, except a few violent partisans in South Carolina, however much he might oppose his public policy, dared to asperse the perfect integrity of


Upon the resignation of Mr. JAY, JOHN RUTLEDGE was nominated by the President as Chief Justice of the United States. He was born in 1739, in South Carolina, whither his father had emigrated from Ireland four years before. He studied law in the Temple in London, and returned to Charleston in 1761, where he at once gained the highest rank at the bar. He espoused the cause of the colonies at the outset of the troubles with Great Britain. In 1776 he was appointed President and Commander-in-Chief of the Colony of South Carolina. It was owing to him that Fort Moultrie was not abandoned to the enemy without a struggle. General LEE, who commanded the Continental troops, pronounced the fort a " slaughter-pen," and wished to evacuate it. RUTLEDGE wrote to MOULTRIE, " General LEE wishes you to evacuate the fort. You will not without an order from me. I would sooner cut off my hand than write one." When the Constitution of South Carolina was framed RUTLEDGE refused his assent, on the ground that it was too Democratic. He finally yielded his scruples, and was appointed Governor, with the real power of Dictator. In 1789 he was appointed Associate Judge of the Supreme Court of the United States, and in 1791 Chief Justice of South Carolina. In 1795 he was nominated by WASHINGTON Chief Justice of the United States. The treaty negotiated by JAY with Great Britain excited a storm of indignation in South Carolina. RUTLEDGE made a violent speech against it at Charleston, just two days before his appointment as Chief Justice reached him, in which he spoke in bitter language of the leaders of the then dominant Federal party, of which be had hitherto been considered a member. In August, 1795, he presided at a session of the Supreme Court, and in November started to hold a circuit in North Carolina, when he was attacked by sickness, and his mind was apparently affected. This, and the remembrance of his recent Charleston speech, induced the Senate to refuse to confirm his nomination—a refusal by no means disagreeable to the President, who was strongly in favor of JAY'S treaty. Mortification at this rejection extinguished the last remnant of RUTLEDGE'S sanity, and he died in 1800 at the age of sixty-one.

The President then nominated as Chief Justice Judge WILLIAM CUSHING of Massachusetts ; the nomination was confirmed ; but Mr. CUSHING, after holding the commission a few days, resigned on ac-

count of ill health. As he never acted in that capacity his name does not properly belong to the list of Chief Justices.

OLIVER ELLSWORTH was then nominated and confirmed as Chief Justice. He was born at Windsor, Connecticut, April 29, 1745. His studies commenced at Yale, were completed at Princeton, where he graduated at the age of twenty-three. For a time he was a teacher, then commenced the study of theology, but subsequently decided on the profession of law. He had then married, and his father gave him a farm of wild land and an axe. While slowly working his way at the bar he cleared his wild farm with his own hands. His early career gave no promise of future eminence ; but the first upward steps once taken his progress was sure. He was appointed State's Attorney, and yearly elected to the General Assembly. In 1777 he was chosen delegate to Congress, in 1784 Judge of the Superior Court of Connecticut, and in 1789 Senator in Congress. In 1796 he was appointed Chief Justice of the United States. His unquestioned probity and the soundness of his judicial decisions gained him the highest respect. In 1799 he was sent, against his wishes, as minister to France, though still retaining for two years his seat on the bench. His health failing he resigned his office in 1801. He died November 26, 1807, at the age of sixty-two.

JOHN MARSHALL, the most eminent of our Chief Justices, was born in Fauquier County, Virginia, September 24, 1755. His father was a farmer in narrow circumstances, but of decided ability. There were no schools in what was then the frontier region, and the early education of the future Chief Justice was conducted by his father, aided for about a year by the clergyman of the parish, with whom he began to read Horace and Livy. By his own unaided exertions he subsequently became a fair classical scholar, and was intimately acquainted with English literature. He had just begun the study of law when the war of the Revolution broke out. In 1775 he was appointed lieutenant in a company of minute men. He afterward became captain in a Virginia regiment of the Continental army, and was present at the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth. He pursued his legal studies at intervals during the war, and at its close commenced practice. He soon rose to eminence at the bar and in politics. He was one of the small but distinguished body of men through whose influence Virginia was induced to accept the Federal Constitution. In 1794 WASHINGTON offered him the post of Attorney-General, and subsequently the mission to France. Both offers were declined. The French Government having refused to receive. Mr. PINCKNEY as minister, Mr. ADAMS, who was then President, appointed Mr. MARSHALL as one of three envoys to that country. Shortly after his return he yielded to the personal solicitations of WASHINGTON, and consented to become a candidate for Congress. President ADAMS at the same time offered him a seat on the bench of the Supreme Court, which was declined. He was elected to Congress, after a sharp contest, taking his seat in December, 1799. During the excited session which followed he was one of the ablest supporters of the administration of Mr. ADAMS. In May, 1800, he was nominated and confirmed as Secretary of War; but he declined to accept the appointment. Shortly after he accepted the post of Secretary of State. On the 31st of January, 1801, he was appointed Chief Justice of the United States, a position which he held for thirty-five years, until his death in July, 1835, at the age of eighty years. His unquestioned character, sound judgment, and felicitous diction, added to the long period during which he held his seat, and the magnitude of the questions which came before him for decision, entitle Mr. MARSHALL beyond all question to the first place in the noble list of our Chief Justices. Besides his judicial labors he was the author of a History of the American Colonies, and of a Life of Washington, which we must still regard as the best yet written.

ROGER BROOKE TANEY was born in Calvert County, Maryland, March 17, 1777. In 1831 President JACKSON appointed him Attorney-General of the United States. Two years later Mr. DUANE, then Secretary of the Treasury, refused to remove the Government deposits from the United States Bank; he was removed, and Mr. TANEY was appointed in his place. The Senate refused to confirm the nomination ; but in the mean while Mr. TANEY had obeyed the orders of the President and removed the deposits. JACKSON then nominated him as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, to fill a vacancy occasioned by the resignation of Judge DUVAL. The Senate refused to confirm the nomination. Chief Justice MARSHALL died in 1835, and JACKSON at once nominated Mr. TANEY for the place. The Democrats having now a majority in the Senate confirmed the nomination, and Mr. TANEY became Chief Justice—a position which he retained until his death, October 12, 1864, a period of twenty-seven years. Chief Justice TANEY is best known by his famous "decision," or rather "opinion," in the Dred Scott case, in which, going beyond the question before the Court, he endeavored to settle the general question of the status of persons of African descent in the United States. Undeserved obloquy has been attached to him on account of a sentence in this opinion which apparently affirmed that blacks had no rights which whites were bound to respect. The context shows that this was the very reverse of the meaning intended to be conveyed by Judge TANEY. He says that it is now difficult to realize the state of opinion on this subject held at the formation of our Government. Blacks were then regarded as beings of an inferior order, "and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect." This outrageous sentiment is mentioned only to be impliedly condemned. The "opinion" of the Chief Justice, harsh enough as he gave it, being to the effect that no person whose ancestors were imported to this country and sold as slaves had any right to sue in a court of the United States, or could become citizens of the United States, It is due to the honor of our highest judicial tribunal to state that the opinion of

the Chief Justice did not affirm, but did by plain implication condemn, the doctrine that such persons " had no rights which whites were bound to respect." Mr. TANEY'S last notable public act was in May, 1861, when the case of John Merryman came before him. This man was arrested near Baltimore, on charge of being an officer in a company raised to aid the rebellion. He was imprisoned by the military authorities in Fort M'Henry. He prayed for a writ of habeas corpus, which was granted by Judge TANEY. General CADWALADER, the commander, refused to obey, on the ground that the execution of the writ of habeas corpus had been suspended by the President in the State of Maryland. The Judge issued an order for the arrest of General CADWALADER. The Marshal was not allowed to serve the writ. Judge TANEY thereupon prepared an opinion, denying the right of the President to suspend the writ, and affirming that it was the duty of all military officers to obey it. He added that if the officer had been brought before him he should have punished him by fine and imprisonment ; but as he had no force capable of carrying his order into effect, he should report the whole case to the President, and call upon him to enforce the process of the court. No further action was had on the case. Mr. TANEY died October 12, 1864, at the age of eighty-seven, having filled the chief judicial chair of the nation for twenty-seven years. He owed his appointment to the purely partisan services which he rendered to President JACKSON. As a jurist he can not be ranked with the great men who had occupied his seat before him. His judicial integrity has never been impeached, even in the case of his unfortunate opinion in the Dred Scott case, or the later and equally unfortunate course in the Merryman case, by which he will be chiefly remembered in after years.

SALMON PORTLAND CHASE, now Chief Justice of the United States, was born in Cornish, New Hampshire, January 13, 1808. His father having died, he was sent at the age of twelve to Ohio, and placed under the care of his uncle, Bishop CHASE. After studying for a year at Cincinnati College, he entered Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, from which he graduated in 1829. He went to Washington, where he opened a school, at the same time studying law under the direction of WILLIAM WIRT. Having been admitted to the bar, he went to Cincinnati, and entered upon the practice of his profession. To this for some years he applied himself exclusively, taking no prominent part in politics, although he belonged to the Democratic party. In 1841 he first took a decided part in politics. He was then a member of the Convention of those opposed to the further extension of slavery, and was the author of the Address unanimously adopted by that body. He took a prominent part in all the subsequent movements having this end in view, and was President of the Free Soil Democratic Convention at Buffalo in 1848. The Democratic party hi Ohio had at this time assumed the position of hostility to slavery in the Territories. Mr. CHASE was chosen United States Senator in February, 1849, receiving the votes of all the Democratic members of the Legislature, together with those of others who were in favor of free soil. Though elected as a Democrat, he declared that if the party withdrew from its position in regard to slavery he should withdraw from it. This he did formally in consequence of the action of the Democratic Convention held at Baltimore in 1852. When the Republican party was organized Mr. CHASE took the position of one of its acknowledged leaders. Soon after the close of his Senatorial term in 1855 he was elected Governor of Ohio. He was re-elected, his second term closing in 1860. In the Republican Convention at Chicago in that year he was next after Mr. LINCOLN and Mr. SEWARD the leading candidate for the Presidency. He had in the mean time been again elected to the Senate of the United States, and had he taken his place would undoubtedly have been the leader in that body. But he resigned his seat in order to accept the position of Secretary of the Treasury—a position for which he was especially pointed out by the success of his financial policy while Governor of Ohio. It is honorable to all the persons that the three leading competitors of Mr. LINCOLN for the Presidential nomination should have received and accepted his nomination as members of his Cabinet. As the Presidential canvass of 1864 approached a strong effort was made to bring forward Mr. CHASE. as the Union candidate ; but the current of popular feeling was so unmistakably in favor of the re-election of Mr. LINCOLN that Mr. CHASE refused to become a candidate, and gave his cordial support to Mr. LINCOLN. Meanwhile, finding that Congress hesitated to carry out the financial system which he proposed, Mr. CHASE had on the 30th of June, 1864, resigned the post of Secretary of the Treasury. Almost the first important public act of Mr. LINCOLN after his re-election has been to appoint Mr. CHASE to the most important position within the executive nomination. Mr. CHASE enters upon the duties of his high office at the age of fifty-six, with a sound legal reputation, and with a physical vigor which gives reason to hope that he may be able to perform its duties for a period as long as that of his predecessor.

The Supreme Court of the United States consists of a Chief Justice, with a salary of $6500, and nine Associate Justices, with salaries of $6000. It holds one session annually at Washington, commencing on the first Monday of December. For judicial purposes the United States are divided into ten circuits, in each of which a Circuit Court is held twice a year for each State by one of the Justices of the Supreme Court, and by the District Judge of the State or District. The following is a list of the Justices of the Court, with the date of their several appointments :

Chief Justice.—SALMON P. CHASE, of Ohio, 1864.

Associate Justices. — JOHN CATRON, Tennessee, 1837. NATHAN CLIFFORD, Maine, 1858. DAVID DAVIS, Illinois, 1863. STEPHEN J. FIELD,

California, 1863. ROBERT C. GRIER, Pennsylvania, 1846. SAMUEL F. MILLER, Iowa, 1862. SAMUEL NELSON, New York, 1845. NOAH H. SWAYNE, Ohio, 1862. JAMES M. WAYNE, Georgia, 1835.


WE engrave on page 820 four illustrations relating to the recent Capture of Plymouth, North Carolina. One of these gives a view on the Roanoke River, on which Plymouth is situated; the others relate to the battle which resulted in the capture of the city, and the appearance of the rebel ram Albemarle after the blowing off of her casemate.

On Monday morning, October 31, the fleet, under Commodore MACOMB, having succeeded in making the passage up Middle River into the Roanoke, two miles above Plymouth, formed in line of battle and steamed down the river at 11. A.M., in the following order : Hull, Shamrock, Otsego, Wyalusing, Tacony, and tugs Martin and Baisly. The Hull is an old New York ferry-boat, and has been in a great many fights, always doing good service. She was sent ahead, being able to fire two heavy guns directly forward. She signaled that all was right, and the fleet steamed on, the pilot picking his way among the obstructions. As it rounded a bend it encountered a battery of 9-inch guns half a mile distant. As each ship came within range a terrific broadside of grape and canister was delivered within their works, driving all from before it. Three more batteries were then encountered and engaged, while the rifle-pits and store-houses along the water front of the town were filled with sharp shooters. The Hull seemed ready to lift into the air from the explosions around her and beneath her guards. She stopped, and the Shamrock dashed past, and as her steering gear was disabled she was severely cut up, and many dead and wounded crowded her deck. Thus the fight went on till the rebel magazine was exploded, scattering timbers in all directions, and setting the town on fire in several places. From this moment the rebel fire slackened, and a party landing from the ships took possession of the forts, raising the Stars and Stripes at 30 minutes past 12. The retreating rebels were pursued by shell from the Tacony and Wyalusing, producing great slaughter among them : and within an hour none remained except some fifty prisoners. The Albemarle was found sunk at the wharf. The captain had endeavored to disable her as much as possible by exploding a torpedo in her casemate the day after she was sunk by Lieutenant CUSHING. She now lies on the bottom, with only the upper part of her casemate out of water, and the top of that blown completely off.


ON page 821 we engrave a series of sketches, giving a plan of GRANT'S Military Railroad from City Point on the James River to Patrick's Station on the left, with views of the several stations. The road follows it general the line of our intrenchments. The line is of such length as to render this rapid means of communication a military necessity. Since General GRANT first took a position in the rear of Richmond his works, both offensive and defensive, have reached a high degree of elaboration. Besides this railroad there is a "gridiron" of corduroy roads running in every direction.


THE interesting illustrations of the Homes of Rebel Women, sketched by WILLIAM WAUD and given on pages 824 and 825, may be relied on for their perfect accuracy, being drawn from life. When General BUTLER'S Provost-Marshal visited the different houses on or near our picket line to remove families, sending them through the lines at Suffolk, our artist accompanied him. He writes : " I never saw such destitution. The centre picture, the girl and baby in cradle, was one of the first we visited. Her husband and all her male relatives were in the Southern army, and she was alone, with nothing in the shape of food or drink in the hut, sitting sadly, rocking her child beside the cold and empty fire place.

"In another house we found a woman with a number of little children, stooping over a wretched fire parching corn, the sole thing eatable in the house.

" In another, two girls were rubbing corn on sheets of tin nailed to boards, a rude contrivance for manufacturing meal. In this house we found a man, but he was in bed, helpless with rheumatism. The middle lower sketch is the outside of the last named hut, and is a fair representation of style of residence inhabited by these unfortunates.

" In another house the women were aged, and nearly as helpless as the children who surrounded them. However, they were spinning and doing some kind of needle work, which, they said, had formerly supported them. The room shown was their bedchamber, kitchen, sitting room, all in one.

The woman taking the oath of allegiance is one living within our lines, and being destitute, draws rations from the Commissary Department. By a late order all persons living within our lines above the age of sixteen, male or female, must take the oath of allegiance to the United States or go through the lines.

"The sketch of shell bursting in a house is an incident that occured lately. In the house shown in the sketch of the fight near our rifle-pits a lady was badly wounded, and two children slightly, by the bursting of a shell, which also killed her dog: and her boy was wounded by a Minie ball. In all the houses we visited we found no males between fifteen and fifty."


THE two illustrations on page 829 refer us to scenes of frequent occurrence along the border lino separating the Union and Rebel armies, and in the border States, The northern portion of Missouri is more infested with this scourge than any other section. There the citizens of the same State are arrayed against each other. The most daring guerrilla operations of this war have been performed by MOSBY in the east, and by MORGAN and his fellows in the west.




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