Assault on Fort Saunders


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, January 9, 1864

Harper's Weekly was the most popular newspaper published during the Civil War. These newspapers were read by many Americans hungry for news of the war, and perhaps a glimpse at the outcome of battles fought by their loved ones. Today, these papers are an invaluable tool for students and researchers wanting more insight into the war.

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Rebel Sharpshooters

McClellan Nomination

McClellan  Presidential Nomination

Averill Expedition

General Averill's Expedition


Battle of Ringgold

Fort Saunders

Fort Saunders

Prisoner's Poem


Bombardment of Charleston

Remington Revolver



Fort Saunders

Battle Fort Saunders







JANUARY 9, 1864.]



"If a young gentleman can't live happy with you, mamma," said he, kissing her, "he is a little snob, that is all, and not fit to live at all. Delenda est Cantilena! That means down with Cant!" They did live together: and behold eleven French plays, with their thirty-three English adaptations, confuted to the end of time.

Creatures so high-bred as Mrs. Dodd never fidget one. There is a repose about them; they are balm to all those they love, and blister to none. Item, no stranger could tell by Mrs. Dodd's manner whether Edward or Alfred was her own son.

Oh, you happy little villa! you were as like Paradise as any mortal dwelling can be. A day came, however, when your walls could no longer hold all the happy inmates. Julia presented Alfred with a lovely boy: enter nurses, and the villa showed symptoms of bursting. Two months more, and Alfred and his wife and boy overflowed into the next villa. It was but twenty yards off; and there was a double reason for the migration. As often happens after a long separation, Heaven bestowed on Captain and Mrs. Dodd another infant to play about their knees at present, and help them grow younger instead of older: for tender parents begin life again with their children.

The boys were nearly of a size, though the nephew was a month or two older than his uncle, a relationship that was early impressed on their young minds, and caused those who heard their prattle many a hearty laugh.

"Mrs. Dodd," said a lady, "I couldn't tell by your manner which is yours and which is your daughter's."

"Why they are both mine," said Mrs. Dodd, piteously.

As years rolled on Dr. Sampson made many converts at home and abroad. The foreign ones acknowledged their obligations. The leading London physicians managed more skillfully; they came into his ideas, and bit by bit reversed their whole practice, and, twenty years after Sampson, began to strengthen the invalid at once, instead of first prostrating him, and so causing either long sickness or sudden death. But, with all this, they disowned their forerunner, and still called him a quack while adopting his quackery. This dishonesty led them into difficulties. To hide that their whole practice in medicine was reversed on better information, they went from shuffle to shuffle, till at last they reached this climax of fatuity and egotism—THE TYPE OF DISEASE IS CHANGED.

Natura mutatur, non nos mutamur.

O, mutable Nature and immutable doctors!

O, unstable Omniscience, and infallible Nescience!

The former may err; the latter never—in its own opinion.

At this rate, draining the weak of their life-blood was the right thing in Cervantes's day: and when he observed that it killed men like sheep, and said so, sub tit Sangrado, he was confounding his own age with an age to come three hundred years later, in which coming age depletion was going to be wrong.

Moliere—in lashing the whole scholastic system of lancet, purge, and blister as one of slaughter—committed the same error: mistook his century for one to come.

And Sampson, thirty years ago, sang the same tune, and mistook his inflammatory generation for the cool generation unborn. In short, it is the characteristic of a certain blunder called genius to see things too far in advance. The surest way to avoid this is not to see them at all; but go blindly by the cant of the hour. Race moutonniere, va!

Sampson was indignant at finding these gentry, after denouncing him for years as a quack, were pilfering his system, yet still reviling him. He went in a towering passion, and lashed them by tongue and pen: told them they were his subtractors now as well as detractors, asked them how it happened that in countries where there is no Sampson the type of disease remains unchanged, depletion is the practice, and death the result, as it was in every age?

No man, however stout, can help being deeply wounded when he sees his ideas stolen, yet their author and publisher disowned. Many men's hearts have been broken by this: but I doubt whether they were really great men.

Don't tell me Liliput ever really kills Brobdignab. Except of course when Brobdignab takes medical advice of Liliput.

Dr. Sampson had three shields against subtraction, detraction, and all the wrongs inventors endure; to wit, a choleric temper, a keen sense of humor, and a good wife. He storms and rages at his detracting pupils; but ends with roars of laughter at their impudence. I am told he still hopes to meet with justice some day, and to give justice a chance he goes to bed at ten, for, says he,

Jinny us, jinny us,

Take care of your carcass,

and explains that no genius ever lived to ninety without being appreciated.

"If Chatterton and Keats had attended to this, they would have been all right. If James Watt had died at fifty he would have been all wrong; for at fifty he was a failure: so was the painter Etty, th' English Tishin." And then he accumulates examples.

His last distich bearing on Hard Cash is worth recording. "Miss Julee," said he, "y' are goen to maerry int' a strange family

Where th' ijjit puts the jinny us

In—til a mad-hus,"

which, like most of the droll things this man said, was true: for Soft Tommy and Alfred were tere two intellectual extremes of the whole tribe of Hardies.

Mrs. Archbold, disappointed both in love and

revenge, reposed her understanding and soothed her mind with Frank Beverley and opium. This soon made the former deep in love with her, and his intellect grew by contact with hers. But one day news came from Australia that her husband was dead. Now, perhaps I shall surprise the reader if I tell him that this Edith Archbold began her wedded life a good, confiding, loving faithful woman. Yet so it was: the unutterable blackguard she had married, he it was who labored to spoil her character, and succeeded at last, and drove her, unwilling at first, to other men. The news of his death was like a shower-bath; it roused her. She took counsel with herself, and hope revived in her strong head and miserable heart. She told Frank, and watched him like a hawk. He instantly fell on his knees, and implored her to marry him directly. She gave him her hand and turned away, and shed the most womanly tear that had blessed her for years. "I am not mad, you know," said poor Frank; "I am only a bit of a muff." To make a long story short, she exerted all her intelligence, and with her help Frank took measures toward superseding his Commission of Lunacy. Now, in such a case, the Lord Chancellor always examines the patient in person. What was the consequence? Instead of the vicarious old Wolf, who had been devouring him at third and fourth hand, Frank had two interviews with the chancellor himself: a learned, grave, upright gentleman, who questioned him kindly and shrewdly; and finding him to be a young man of small intellectual grasp, but not the least idiotic or mad, superseded his commission in defiance of his greedy kinsfolk, and handed him his property. He married Edith Archbold, and she made him as happy as the day was long. For the first year or two she treated his adoration with good-natured contempt; but, as years rolled on, she became more loving, and he more knowing. They are now a happy pair, and all between her first honest love and this her last, seems to her a dream.

So you see a female rake can be ameliorated by a loving husband, as well as a male rake by a loving wife.

It sounds absurd, but that black-browed jade is like to be one of the best wives and mothers in England. But then, mind you, she had always—Brains.


I don't exactly know why Horace puts together those two epithets, "just" and "tenacious of purpose." Perhaps he had observed they go together. To be honest, I am not clear whether this is so on the grand scale. But certainly these two features did meet remarkably in one of my characters—Alfred Hardie. The day the bank broke he had said he would pay the creditors. He now set to work to do it by degrees. He got the names and addresses, lived on half his income, and paid half away to those creditors; he even asked Julia to try and find Maxley out, and do something for him. "But don't let me see him," said he, trembling, "for I could not answer for myself." Maxley was known to be cranky but harmless, and wandering about the country. Julia wrote to Mr. Green.

Alfred's was an up-hill game; but fortune favors the obstinate as well as the bold. One day, about four years after his marriage with Julia, being in London, he found a stately figure at the corner of a street, holding out his hand for alms, too dignified to ask it except by that mute and touching gesture.

It was his father.

Then, as truly noble natures must forgive the fallen, Alfred was touched to the heart, and thought of the days of his childhood before temptation came. "Father," said he, "have you come to this?"

"Yes, Alfred," said Richard, composedly: "I undertook too many speculations, especially in lands and houses; they seemed profitable at first too; but now I am entirely hampered: if you would but relieve me of them, and give me a guinea a week to live on, I would forgive all your disobedient conduct."

"Come home with me, Sir," said the young man.

He took him to Barkington, bag and baggage: and his good Christian wife received the old man with delight; she had prayed day and night for this reconciliation. Finding his son so warm, and being himself as cool, Richard Hardie entrapped Alfred into an agreement, to board and lodge him, and pay him a guinea every Saturday at noon; in return for this Alfred was to manage Richard's property, and pocket the profits, if any. Alfred assented: the old man chuckled at his son's simplicity, and made him sign a formal agreement to that effect.

This done he used to sit brooding and miserable nearly all the week till guinea time came; and then brightened up a bit. One day Alfred sent for an accountant to look after his father's papers, and see if matters were really desperate.

The accountant was not long at work, and told Alfred the accounts were perfectly clear, and kept in the most admirable order. "The cash balance is £60,000," said he: "and many of the rents are due. It is an agent you want, not an accountant."

"What are you talking about? a balance of £60,000?" Alfred was stupefied.

The accountant, however, soon convinced him by the figures it was so.

Alfred went with the good news to his father. His father went into a passion. 'That is one side of the account, ye fool," said he, "think of the rates, the taxes, the outgoings. You want to go from your bargain, and turn me on the world; but I have got you in black and white, tight, tight."

Then Alfred saw the truth, and wondered at his past obtuseness.

His father was a monomaniac.

He consulted Sampson, and Sampson told him

to increase the old man's comforts on the sly, and pay him his guinea a week. "It's all you can do for him."

Then Alfred employed an agent, and received a large income from his father's land and houses, and another from his consols. The old gentleman had purchased westward of Hyde Park Square, and had bought with excellent judgment till his mind gave way. But Alfred never spent a farthing of it on himself: all he took was for his father's creditors. "All justice is good," said he, "even wild justice." Some of these unfortunate creditors he found in the work-house; the Misses Lunley that survived, were there alas! He paid them their four thousand pounds, and restored them to society. The name of Hardie began to rise again from the dust.

Now, while Richard Hardie sat brooding and miserable, expecting utter ruin, and only brightening up on guinea day, Julia had a protege with equally false views, but more cheerful ones. It was an old man with a silver beard, and a machine with which he stamped leather into round pieces of silver, in his opinion. Nothing could have shaken that notion out of his mind. Julia confirmed it. She let it be known that she would always cash five pieces of round leather from Mr. Matthew's mint per day, and ten on Friday, when working men are poorest.

She contrived this with diabolical, no, angelical cunning, to save the old man from ridicule, and to do his soul much good. All souls were dear to her. What was the consequence? He went about with his mint, and relieved poor people, and gratified his mania at the same time. His face began to beam with benevolence, and innocent self-satisfaction. On Richard Hardie's all was cordage: and deep gloom sat on his ever-knitted brow.

Of these two men which was the rich man; he who had nothing, yet thought he possessed enough for himself and his neighbors: or he who rolled in wealth, and writhed under imaginary poverty?

One reflection more. Do not look to see Providence dash the cup of prosperity from every dishonest hand; or you will often be disappointed: yet this, if you look closer, you shall often see: such a man holds the glittering cup tight, and nectar to the brim; but into that cup a shadowy hand squeezes some subtle ingredient, which turns that nectar to wormwood.

Richard Hardie died, his end being hastened by fear of poverty coming, like an armed man, and his guinea a week going. Matthews met with an accident, and being impervious to pain, but subject to death, was laid beside his poor mistress in St. Anne's church-yard. Julia buried him, and had a head-stone put to his grave; and, when this was done, she took her husband to see it. On that stone was fresh carved the true name of the deceased, James Maxley.

"I have done what you told me," said Julia, solemnly.

"I know it," said Alfred, softly. "I saw who your Matthews was; but I could not speak of him, even to you. You have done right my good Christian wife. I wish I was like you. My poor little Jenny!"

Richard Hardie's papers were all in order; and among them an old will leaving £14,000 to Edward Dodd.

On this being announced to Edward, he remarked that it was a fraud. Alfred had been at him for a long time with offers of money, and failing these had lost his temper and forged a will, in his, Edward's, favor.

This scandalous defense broke down. The document was indisputable, and the magic sum was forced down Master Edward's throat, nilly willy. Thus rose the Hard Cash once more from the grave.

All this enabled the tenacious Alfred to carry out a deeply-cherished design. Hardie's late bank had been made into a shop; but it belonged to Mrs. Dodd; he bought it of her, and set up the bank again, with Edward as managing partner. This just suited Edward, who sadly wanted employment. Hardie and Co. rose again, and soon wiped out the late disgraceful episode, and hooked on to the past centuries of honor and good credit. No creditor of Richard Hardie was left unpaid. Alfred went in for politics; stood for Barkington, was defeated by seventeen: took it as a matter of course; told his friends he had never succeeded in any thing at first; nor been beaten in the end; stood again, and became M.P. for Barkington, whence to dislodge him I pity any one who tries.

For a long time Mrs. Dodd was nervous, and used to wake with a start at night, and put out her hand to make sure David was not lost again: but this wore off.

For years the anniversary of that fatal day, when he was brought home on a stretcher, came back to them all as a day of gloom: but that wore off.

Sometimes the happiness of her family seemed incredible to her, remembering what they had all gone through. At first, their troubles were too terrible and recent to be discussed. But even that wore off, and they could talk of it all; and things bitter at the time became pleasant to remember.

One mid-summer day they had all lined together rather early, at Albion Villa, and sat on the lawn with Mrs. Dodd's boy and Julia's boy and girl playing about these ladies' knees. Now after a little silence, Mrs. Dodd, who had been thinking quietly of many things, spoke to them all, and said: "If my children and I had not been bosom friends, we never should have survived that terrible time we have passed through, my dears. Make friends of your children, my child."

"Ah, that I will!" said Julia; and caught up the nearest brat, and kissed it.

"It wasn't only being friends, mamma," said Edward; "it was our sticking together so."

In looking back on the story now ended, I incline to the same conclusion. Almost my first word was that Mrs. Dodd and her children were bosom-friends; and my last is to congratulate them that it was so. Think of their various trials and temptations, and imagine what would have become of them if family love and unity had not abounded. Their little house was built on the sure foundation of true family affection: and so the winds of adversity descended, and the floods came, and burst upon that house, but could not prevail against it; it was founded on a rock.




I STOOD by the young, glad river

That watered the prairies wide,

And held the hues of their golden blooms

Enshrined in its crystal tide:


And I asked of the dimpled water

Its secret of happiness,

And it answered full from its heart of joy,

"I am blessed; I learn to bless."


Its voice was lost in the singing

That rose from the wheat-fields near,

And the full-cropped quail to the settler's child.

From the opening whistled clear.


I stood by the old, sad river

That threatened the lowlands wide,

And the shade of the dying Spanish beard

Held in its poisoned tide:


And I asked the stream the secret

Of its misery to rehearse,

And it answered deep from its heart of woe,

"I am cursed; I learn to curse."


Its voice was lost in the clanking

Of chains in the cane-fields damp,

And a hungry buzzard, gaunt and still,

Flapped off to the cypress swamp.


THE charge of Colonel Creighton's brigade at the battle of Ringgold, a gallant though disastrous assault, which ended the series of battles lately fought by the different commands of General Grant, is presented to our readers on page 21.

Colonel Creighton, killed at the very front of his men, with his last breath gave them, "Three cheers for the First Brigade, and God save the Union!" Nearly every officer of his regiment, the Seventh Ohio, was either killed or wounded, and the loss in the brigade was great.

The warm feeling between the divisions of Generals Geary and Osterhaus, engendered by their mutual gallantry in their side-by-side struggle for our cause, was a gladdening sight to witness.


IN front of the head-quarters of General Thomas, a sketch of which is given on page 20, are now parked the greater portion of the cannon captured in the late battles.

Each day numbers of the soldiers and officers may be seen gathered about the spot, and if space could be given their stories of the manner in which each battery or gun was taken would be of exceeding interest to their many friends who are readers of the Weekly. To them the thought that they may look at the same scene that their soldier friends daily view must be gratifying.


ON pages 21, 24, and 25 we publish sketches representing the ASSAULT MADE BY THE REBELS ON FORT SAUNDERS, November 29. The siege of Knoxville had lasted two weeks, and tidings had come of the defeat of Bragg's army by Grant. Knoxville, if taken, therefore, must be taken at once. Fort Saunders was believed by the enemy to be the key to the whole position, and accordingly a forlorn hope was organized out of the choicest spirits of Longstreet's corps to carry the fort by assault, their success to be the signal for a general assault.

At early dawn the assaulting column moved up to the attack over the slope in front of the fort, as seen in the illustration on page 21. This slope was covered with stumps, among which was woven a network of wire. This and a galling fire from our rifle-pits, into which the men were crowded, threw their column into confusion. But they struggled on. As soon as they came within easy grape-shot range the guns of the fort opened upon them with great effect. Around the fort was a deep ditch, twelve feet wide, upon which the enemy had not calculated. The parapet was high and steep. The fighting at this point is represented in the illustration on pages 24 and 25.

The enemy, staggered by the fire, stumbling through the wires, at last reached this ditch, and sprang for the parapet. Unseen wires caught and threw them. The ditch was full of them. Shells, with fuses cut short, and lighted, were thrown over the parapet among them. A few struggled to the top of the parapet, but were killed or captured. Half a dozen, who made their way into one of the embrasures, were blown to atoms by a discharge of grape from the gun at whose muzzle they stood. This work lasted for half an hour, when, broken and terribly punished, the enemy withdrew. The ditch around the fort, as well as the slope, was full of the bodies of the slain and wounded. In the ditch they were piled eight and ten deep—a most horrible sight. The rebel loss in killed and wounded exceeded a thousand, besides two hundred prisoners. Our loss did not exceed ten. With this attempt the siege of Knoxville practically ended.




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