Pirate Ship Alabama is Sunk


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, July 16, 1864

Harper's Weekly was the most read newspaper of the Civil War era. It was popular across the country for its fabulous wood cut illustrations created by war artists deployed with the troops at the front lines. Today, it is popular as a valuable source of original information on the way.

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General Grant

Alabama is Sunk

Battle Kenesaw Mountain

Pine Mountain

Sherman Advance

General Sherman's Advance on Georgia

Spanish Squadron

Spanish Squadron

Lincoln Cartoon

Lincoln Cartoon

Alabama Sinking

Alabama Sinking

Fourth of July

Fourth of July


Rebel Deserters




[JULY 16, 1864.



[As one of the brigades of the Reserve Corps which came up to the rescue of General Thomas at Chicamauga was marching through Athens, Alabama, a bright-eyed girl of four summers was looking at the sturdy fellows tramping by. When she saw the sun glancing through the stripes of red and on the golden stars of the flag she exclaimed, clapping her hands, "Oh, pa! pa! God made that flag! See the stars!" A shout deep and loud went up from that column, and many a bronzed veteran lifted his hat as he passed the sunny-haired child, resolving, if his good right arm availed any thing, God's flag should conquer.]

DOWN the long street the soldiers passed

In solid columns through the town ;

Their clothes were soiled with Southern dust,

Their faces with the sun were brown.

They marched the field of blood to reach,

Where the fierce cannon thundered loud, And where 'twixt hostile armies rolled The black and blinding battle-cloud.

They bore aloft with conscious pride

The flag our fathers loved of old—That banner with the crimson stripes,

And with the shining stars of gold.

Close by the road-side stood a child

With flaxen hair and radiant eyes, 'Neath whose white lids imprisoned seemed The color of the azure skies.

And when she saw the sacred flag

For which our brave boys bear their scars, Papa!" she cried, and clapped her hands, " God made that flag—see, see the stars!"

The soldiers heard her little voice,

And pealing to the far-off sky

A shout prolonged and loud went up From those bronzed veterans passing by.

Some raised aloft their dust-stained hats, And many a stern face kindly smiled, And eyes unused to tender looks .

Turned fondly on the fair-haired child.


God's banner ! Yes. With patriot blood

To-day its hallowed folds are wet ; But by each precious drop now spilled

Its stars shall be forever set.


SATURDAY, JULY 16, 1864.


THE good news from General SHERMAN, whose campaign is one of the most daring and, thus far, triumphant upon record, and the masterly skill and tenacity of General GRANT, keep the mind of the country firmly fixed upon the army and the progress of the war. The action of Congress and the resolution of the War Department in devising means for recruiting the ranks and presenting an undiminished as well as undaunted front to the enemy, merely respond to the evident purpose of the country. The Government takes the nation at its word. Every great Convention, every orator who speaks for the people, every man who knows the incalculable prize at stake, calls for the prosecution of the war, and demands that this campaign, if possible, shall shake the rebellion to the heart.

The desperate determination, the valor of the rebels in the field, nobody disputes. Their leaders have placed their names, their hopes, their pride, their fortunes, and their lives upon the hazard. For three years they have struggled, and they will struggle on until further struggle is not hopeless only, for it is that now, but impossible. They have scraped their section and brought every available man into the field. They have frankly acknowledged that their defeat now is final. For two months the great battle has been joined. GRANT has steadily driven them to bay in Richmond. SHERMAN has relentlessly pushed them backward to Atlanta. Their furious shocks and onsets have been repelled. Their heaviest blows have helped them little. On land and sea their ill-fated and cursed cause totters, and the Government of the loyal people of the United States, which aims, as it has aimed from the beginning of the war, only at the restoration of the absolute authority of the people, and peace by justice and equal rights, now calls upon those people to supply the men that shall show at once to the rebels and to the world that the power of a great, free, self-governing nation is exhaustless and irresistible.

Now then is the time, before the formal order is issued, for every citizen-to use every effort to send a substitute if he can not go himself, and to replenish the army by the spontaneous act of the people. While the rebellion wavers, a steady, strong blow will bring it down. There are yet nearly five good months of fighting weather, and the heroes in the field ask only that they may be supported. The terms of the new bill for recruiting, in which the commutation is abolished, are clear, earnest, and—it seems to us—well considered. The bill means fight, as the country does. The Copperhead papers oppose it, of course, as they formerly opposed the commutation, because they do not mean fight,

They mean compromise, surrender, and disgrace. Our armies were never so well led, were never so united and enthusiastic, never fought so persistently and bravely as they do now. Let every loyal man in the land make himself a recruiting committee, that he may have the ennobling consciousness forever, and say to his children, that he too did his active part, by personal retrenchment and sacrifice and exertion, if not by actual service in the field, to secure the permanent victory of that flag whose inspirations and benedictions are so glowingly portrayed in the picture which adorns our present number.


THE British pirate ship Alabama has been sunk by the American ship of war Kearsarge. The action took place off Cherbourg harbor on the morning of June 19, 1864, beginning about eleven o'clock and lasting more than an hour. The armament of the Alabama is reported by various authorities to have been three heavy rifled guns, with eight broadside 32-pounders; that of the Kearsarge two eleven-inch shell-guns, four 32-pounders, and two smaller guns. The crew of the Kearsarge is said by the same authorities to have been one hundred and fifty that of the Alabama about the same number. The Alabama opened the fight by a single longrange shot at two thousand yards, the Kearsarge reserving her fire. The vessels sailed around each other in circles seven times, and the fighting was mainly done at the distance of a quarter of a mile. After the exchange of about a hundred and fifty rounds from the Alabama and a hundred from the Kearsarge, the pirate ship slacked fire, and seemed to be making sail for the shore, which was about nine miles distant. At half-past twelve she was in a sinking and disabled state. The English yacht Deerhound, which had been hovering near during the action, immediately made toward the Alabama, saving about forty men, including SEMMES and thirteen officers. Of the rest of her crew eight were killed, seventeen wounded, and sixty-eight captured. The Kearsarge sustained very little damage, and only three of her crew were wounded. She did not lose a man.

Thus, as was fitting, it appears that the Captain of the Alabama was saved by a party of his British abettors, who doubtless came out for that purpose. Others invited him to a public dinner at Southampton, which he declined, and went to Paris to make his dismal report to the rebel emissaries there. The English story that the yacht Deerhound saved him at the request of the Captain of the Kearsarge is a malignant libel upon the character of that officer. No man who has the honor of the navy at heart will easily suppose that an American captain would connive at the escape from just punishment of a buccaneer whose sole business has been to prey upon defenseless ships and burn them, and who has done more than any other man to drive American vessels from the ocean and destroy American commerce.

But the great fact remains that the British pirate ship, built by British hands in a British yard, manned by British sailors, paid for by British money, encouraged by British sympathy, and cheered by British lungs, as she sailed from a British port, has been destroyed in the British Channel, and under the noses of British sympathizers, by the brave Jack tars who fight under and for the American flag. " Built in the eclipse and rigged with curses dark" she has gone down to her own place. May the Rebellion, of which she was a fitting instrument, soon follow her!


Two of the most notable and influential of our English friends have lately expressed themselves upon the question of the Presidency. Their views are interesting from the character of the men and from their hearty sympathy in our cause. The first is Mr. FRANCIS W. NEWMAN, who, in a public letter to Mr. GARRISON, rebukes that gentleman for supporting the President for another term. His letter is long, but its substance is a complaint that Mr. LINCOLN has not taken, as President, the strongest anti-slavery position, but has emancipated slaves not on moral grounds but only as a military necessity. "Horrible indeed," says Mr. NEWMAN, " is the augury for your future, when your chief magistrate dares not indulge the moralities of his heart through conscientious tremors at the guilt of violating the wicked laws of conquered rebels ?"

The total and unnecessary mental confusion evinced by such a passage as that is appalling. Mr. NEWMAN seems not to have the least perception of the fact that the President is a magistrate bound by oath to administer a government according to a constitution, and that, while that constitution confers, under certain circumstances, the highest powers, those powers can be properly and safely exercised only with due regard to the will of the people of whom the magistrate is the agent. If now it were possible for Mr. NEWMAN to comprehend the circumstances under which the President exercises that power, he would see that to accomplish in any degree the

end for which Mr. NEWMAN and all good men pray, it is necessary, vitally and inevitably necessary, to proceed as the President does. This war is only indirectly a moral reform. If the President, on the 14th of April, 1861, had summoned the country to arms to save the Union by abolishing slavery, the country would not have responded. It may be our shame that we hastened to obey a call for union merely, which we should only partially and unsuccessfully have answered for emancipation; but it is no less , true. The slave influence had so debauched the national mind, was so intrenched in party spirit, that the rebels would have asked nothing better than an edict of universal emancipation. The moral sentiment of the country, as well as its political consistency and fidelity, had to be educated by the war. And whatever the moral convictions of the President might have been, it would have been the extremest folly for him to have assumed them to exist in the heart and wish of the people. They were not there. He knew it. Every thoughtful man in the land knew it. The very problem was, whether the war could be waged upon the other ground, or whether, as the rebels and their Northern friends fondly hoped, the revolution was virtually accomplished before it began.

Mr. NEWMAN, in his letter, shows so profound an ignorance of the controlling facts of the case in which he gives so summary and decisive a verdict, that we have a right to ask him whether the very fact that he differs from Mr. GARRISON, whose whole life is an act of moral devotion, ought not to suggest to him that he may possibly be in error upon some essential point. It is idle to say that a statesman, in the position of Mr. LINCOLN, is to do all that he may think to be abstractly right upon any occasion, without regard to times, or places, or persons. The duty of a statesman is to do all the good he can. If Mr. NEWMAN could acquaint himself, as he can not, as no foreigner can, with the exact condition of public affairs and the public sentiment when Mr. LINCOLN assumed office, down to the opening of this campaign, and contemplate the measures of justice that have characterized his administration, we are very sure that instead of denouncing him with Mr. FREMONT and Mr. WENDELL PHILLIPS, as betraying human liberty, he would rather cheer with the black soldiers in GRANT'S army, when the President rode by, for " the Liberator." It is a cruel injustice at home, it is a needless injustice in England, to revile the President for steadily walking over stones and through thorns toward the desired bourne, instead of trying to fly thither above all obstacles, and dropping at once, impotent, baffled, and despised.

Mr. NEWMAN condemns himself in the very last sentence of his letter. If we Americans have a " ruinous national insanity—prejudice against color" and we do not deny, but deplore, that the phrase is almost exact ; it is but another way of saying that that prejudice is quite universal. How, then, can a President, who retains his common sense, affect that it does not exist ? How can he, without criminal folly, disregard that fact in his administration, however heartily he may bewail it and aim to overcome it ? The first duty of every citizen is doubtless to destroy so unmanly, so mean a prejudice. But its destruction is not accomplished by passing a law which assumes that it does not exist. The law may wait, it must and should wait, until it expresses the conviction of the people. Meanwhile our friends every where may be very sure that the President and every other good citizen will do what he can to remove the shame. Does Mr. NEWMAN propose to chide the hand for waiting sixty minutes before it marks the hour ?

Another English friend, of greater public renown than Mr. NEWMAN, writes in a private letter : " I shall be glad to see you safe through the crisis of the Presidential election. The feeling of your friends here is, I think, universally in favor of LINCOLN, both because he seems to them, on the whole, to have done his part well, and because it would be a proof of constancy on the part of the ' fickle democracy' of America. His recent letter explaining the principles of his conduct on the question of slavery appeared to all of us an admirable document. No state paper equal to it in sterling qualities has been produced on this side of the water for many a year."

Our English friends have a very difficult duty to perform. They must maintain our cause often in profound ignorance of circumstances and of the details of the truth. Thus we have lately heard of ROBERT BROWNING citing the case of the colored sergeant WALKER, who was shot rather than serve without regular soldier's wages, as an instance of unmatched heroism. We have not spared our word for justice to the colored troops in the matter of pay. But justice should lead Mr. BROWNING to correct his judgment when he learns that WALKER was shot for attempting a mutiny. If every soldier is to take the righting of wrongs into his own hands, and try to persuade others to join him, the result is clear enough. We are glad to know that the mass of the friends of this country abroad agree with the great multitude of Union men at home that the President has done his part too well to be set aside for any untried man.


IF the articles in the FREMONT organ, the ratification meeting at the Cooper Institute, and the letter of Mr. WENDELL PHILLIPS to time Independent, are illustrations of the manner in which the campaign of the Radical Democracy is to be prosecuted, all feeling of indignation disappears in incredulity and pity. The speeches and the Copperhead applause may be contemplated with a smile, but it is impossible to read Mr. PHILLIPS'S letter without sadness, not because he favors Mr. FREMONT, but because he asperses those who support Mr. LINCOLN. Any expression of opinion may be easily enough disposed of if you may stigmatize it, unchallenged, as insincere. If we may say that the men who made the Cleveland platform were hypocrites, Mr. PHILLIPS'S position becomes painfully absurd. But he does deliberately say this of the Baltimore Convention, and, of course, as hypocrites are rascals, he has the argument, after the start, all his own way. He calls one of the Baltimore resolutions " meaningless and hypocritical," and speaks of another as a compliment insincerely offered. Now, that a man should find a resolution meaningless is his undoubted right. Nothing, for instance, can be more meaningless to us than the Cleveland assertion that the rebellion has destroyed Slavery. But how if we should say, in view of some of the prominent managers at Cleveland and of the loud applauders of the Cleveland nominations, that its wish to secure equality for all men before the law is hypocritical ? Yet we should have, we imagine, quite as much reason as Mr. PHILLIPS in his aspersion upon Baltimore.

When a great convention of patriotic men, who do not become speculators and contractors because Mr. PHILLIPS calls them so, declare that harmony should prevail in the national councils, and that those only are worthy of public confidence who cordially approve certain principles, they may be mistaken ; but why are they any more hypocritical than their accuser when he says that he has confidence in the anti-slavery purpose of JOHN C. FREMONT ? His argument is, that Mr. FREMONT should be publicly trusted because he holds certain principles. The Baltimore resolution declares that only those who hold certain principles should be publicly trusted. Hypocrites! cries Mr. WENDELL PHILLIPS. Shall we retort " hypocrite ?" No; for we confide in his honesty, and if he does not confide in the honesty of the men who met at Baltimore, it is simply because he knows noticing about them, and is much too swift to assume the dishonesty of all who do not agree with him.

Mr. PHILLIPS'S letter has been well answered, and at length, in the Independent. Our object is only to protest against that kind of argument which consists in calling your opponents knaves. If he really believes that the Baltimore Convention said what it did not mean, he must be content to know from those who are better informed that he is utterly mistaken. There are men who oppose Mr. LINCOLN, there are others who support him reluctantly ; but the Convention was composed of those who commended him and his general administration with heart-felt sincerity. Mr. PHILLIPS has no right what-ever to call them hypocrites. All generous men forgive to his honest zeal the unsparing, wholesale, and savage invective against an administration which has done more to accomplish the object to which his life has been nobly devoted than all other administrations together from the beginning. To his chosen and well filled part of moral agitator they forgive his caustic and contemptuous criticism of all expedients by which great moral principles are to be reduced to practice. But his vast vituperation and bitter assaults upon the characters and motives of men who love liberty and their country not less than he, however they may differ from him as to the means of serving them, these are things which make many an admiring friend sad and sorry for him, and will they not one day make him profoundly sorry for himself?


To the desponding or exulting exclamation "Oh, we can't subdue the rebels !" there is but one reply. If it be indeed true, then the Government is at end ; the Union is dissolved ; and every State is again an individual political community, for the bond which holds New York to Pennsylvania is exactly the same that unites New York and Georgia, and if it is broken any where it is broken every where. If it be true, our national flag has disappeared, the national honor is gone; and most of the States of the American Union are separate powers of smaller population than the cities of London or Paris. There is no navy, no army, no common force, no collective glory. The work of a hundred years is undone, and what State, section, party, or individual is the gainer of the least real advantage ?

If we " can't subdue the rebels," the rebels have subdued us. In that case JEFFERSON DAVIS will be content, because his pride will be satisfied. FERNANDO WOOD and his followers, (Next Page)




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