Gun Boats on Red River


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, May 14, 1864

This site presents our complete collection of Harper's Weekly newspaper. You can browse these newspapers and read first hand descriptions of the war, and look at the pictures drawn by artists deployed to the front lines. These newspapers will help you better understand the important events of the war.

(Scroll Down to See Entire Page, or Newspaper Thumbnails below will take you to the page of interest)


Red River

Battle of Red River



Fort Pillow

Fort Pillow

Red River Gun Boats


John Botts


Golden Bitters




Washington Aqueduct

Parrot Gun

Parrot Gun




Soldier's Foraging for Food




[ May 14, 1864.


(Previous Page) ed States Government, for the " purpose of supplying the cities of Washington and Georgetown with pure and wholesome water." The original surveys and plans were made by Captain (now General) M. C. MEIGS, of the United States Engineers, in the winter of 1852-3. The plan adopted was to bring the water from the Great Falls of the Potomac, through a conduit, built of brick and stone, circular in form, of nine feet diameter. The Potomac is to he dammed about half a mile above the Falls by a cut-stone dam of solid masonry, 3000 feet in length, in the form of an arc, extending to the Virginia shore. At present the water is supplied only from a small portion of the river, a temporary dam having been thrown from the Maryland shore to an island. Ten miles from " the Falls" is the Receiving Reservoir, a natural basin of some sixty acres, filled with water from a number of small streams entering into it. It is this water which the inhabitants of Washington have been using for some four years ; but on the 5th of December last the Potomac water was introduced with appropriate ceremonies. Unfortunately, in the original plan no provision was made for bringing the Potomac water around this Reservoir. Consequently the purer waters from the river are mingled with those of the small streams which receive the surface-drainage from a large area, and are rendered turbid on every shower. The present accomplished Chief-Engineer, Colonel SILAS SEYMOUR, proposes to remedy this by constructing a separate connecting conduit around this Reservoir, and this plan is recommended by the Secretary of the Interior in his annual report. Two miles nearer the city is the Distributing Reservoir, yet unfinished. When completed this will be a double basin of some forty acres' extent, the banks all lined with substantial slopewalls. From this the water is distributed to the city through cast-iron mains.

The crossing of Rock Creek, between Washington and Georgetown, is effected by a unique and beautiful bridge of iron pipes, the arch, of about 200 feet span, being composed of the mains through which the water passes. The structures of masonry along the line of the aqueduct are all built in the most substantial manner.

The total length of conduit is about twelve miles, and the level of water surface in the reservoirs 146 feet above mean tide. The diameter of conduit is nine feet, and the capacity 85,000,000 gallons daily. The estimated cost of the work is $3,500,000.


WE give on our first page an illustration of the engagement between Admiral PORTER'S gun-boats and a large body of rebels on the Red River, above Grand Ecore, on the 12th ult. Admiral PORTER thus refers to the affair in his report to the Navy Department :

On the evening of the 12th inst. we were attacked from the right bank of the river by a part of the rebel army which two or three days previous had gained success over our army, and, flushed with victory, or under the excitement of liquor, appeared suddenly upon the right bank and fearlessly opened fire on the Osage, Lieutenant-Commander F. O. SELFRIDGE (iron-clad), she being hard aground at the time, with a transport (the Black Hawk) alongside of her, towing her off. The rebels opened with 2000 muskets, and soon drove every one out of the Black Hawk to the safe casemates of the monitor. Lieutenant BACHE had just come from his vessel (the Lexington), and fortunately was enabled to pull up to her again, keeping close up to the bank, while the Osage opened a destructive fire on these poor, deluded wretches, who, maddened by liquor, and led on by their officers, were vainly attempting to capture an iron vessel.

I am told that their hooting and actions baffel description; force after force seemed to be brought up to the edge of the bank, where they confronted the guns of the iron vessels, only to he mowed down by grape-shot and canister. In the mean time Lieutenant BACHE. had reached his vessel, and, widening the distance between him and the Osage, he opened a cross-fire on the infuriated rebels, who fought with such desperation and courage against certain destruction that it could only be accounted for in one way. Our opinions were verified on inspection of some of the slain, the men actually smelling of Louisiana rum. This affair lasted two hours before the rebels fled. They brought up two pieces of artillery, one of which was quickly knocked over by the Lexington's guns; the other they managed to carry off. The cross-fire of the Lexington finally decided this curious affair of a fight between infantry and gun-boats. The rebels were mowed down by her canister, and finally retreated in as quick haste as they had come to the attack, leaving the space of a mile covered with dead and wounded, muskets and knapsacks.


THE spirited sketch on page 312 represents a scene which has often been witnessed by naval officers and sailors. The scene of the incident here illustrated was the forecastle of the United States steamer Richmond, off Mobile. During a high sea, causing the vessel to roll heavily, a Parrott gun broke from its stays and knocked about with the utmost disregard of the consequences, occasioning great excitement among the sailors, who at once, however, proceeded to secure the gun as best they could. Our sketch represents the hardy fellows laboring to placate and restore the monster to his proper position by such appliances as they had at hand, taking care, however, while engaged in their persuasive task, not to put themselves in too close proximity to the frolicsome Parrott. Such scenes, while sometimes exposing the sailors to peril, always produce an agreeable excitement on ship-board, where even misfortune, if it only comes in a novel shape, is sometimes welcomed as a relief to a monotony which no pen can describe.


WE give on page 313 an illustration showing a

RENDEZVOUS OF UNION REFUGEES IN THE SWAMPS OF WESTERN LOUISIANA. In no part of the Union have the loyalists suffered greater persecutions at the hands of the rebels than in the region where General BANKS has recently operated. A correspondent who accompanied General BANKS'S army say that many Union men have been in the swamps for two years, having been driven there for refuge from the conscription. In many cases they were

hunted by dogs, in others they escaped with wounds from the smoking ruins of their own homes, and did not dare to discover themselves until the advance of the Union forces, when they came out by hundreds from their dismal retreats, and enrolled themselves as scouts and rangers. Our illustration gives a vivid picture of the life which, for two years or more, these men have been compelled to live, for no other crime than refusing to turn against their flag and country.


[On the battle-field at Pleasant Hill, the night following the engagement, a boy only nineteen years of age and an old man were found dead, lying side by side, each face wearing a smile.]

Two faces lying pale and stark

Beneath the solemn midnight calm : Two rifles gleaming in the dark,

Dropped from the unnerved dying palm : Two faces bleak and stark and white, In silence fading through the night.

One face a boy's, with auburn hair

Its outline fringing like a veil ; A forehead rounded, soft, and fair,

That until then no pelting hail

In all life's storm had scarred or torn, That never one sad look had worn,

Still on the lips a smile remained,

As if some dream had loitered there—Some dream of home that, travel-stained,

Had come to him with holy prayer—Had come and whispered words of cheer, And fond good-bys from kindred dear.

One face a boy's:—The other sown

And seamed with prints of weary years—Sad years that in their march had strewn

Life's way with shadows, losses, tears—A face with beard of silver white,

Wet with the falling dews of night.

No braver souls than theirs that day

Had faced the battle's fiery rain—Through all, sweet voices far away

Talked with them, soothing all their pain—The pain of wounds they panted for, And, having won, as trophies wore.

Death came at last-came in the flash

Of desperate charge, and here they lie—Lie in a sleep no cannon's crash

Shall ever break—no storms that fly Shall ever smite with harsh alarm—A sleep God-watched against all harm.

The noble dead!—Not lost are they :

Through all the years their worth shall shine; Their deeds shall live, and light our way

To those far heights where God shall twine All royal souls with garlands white

As were these faces on that night.


Music sounded from below, and a cheery bustle of people moving about in the drawing-rooms, while in the dimness of my chamber I could scarcely see my scarred and disfigured face in the long dressing glass before which I stood, idly sticking in and out a great pin in the white frilled toilet cushion, We are not specially apt, I think, to confide in ourselves. I did not say to myself that I lingered because the drawing-rooms were all one flood of merciless light, and Philip Hays had not seen me since I had lost all that smooth dazzle of skin, and flitting rose-reel, that he used to praise ; but I straightened the slide at my belt, and tied and retied the bow at my collar, and then losing courage altogether, sat dowel by the window, and looked out on the quiet starlit street till Alice called me, and there was no further possibility of evasion and then I slipped quietly adown the stair and in at my seat (which fortunately was in the shadow), never once glancing up till they all were fairly seated ; though I might have spared that pains, since Philip, after an absence of four months, was too busy with Eliza Vaughan to bestow on me more than a brief look and careless smile.

Mother is the calmest being in the world, and never forgets her lofty courtesy; but I could see that every drop of the Morton blood was boiling in her veins, while Alice, who is like our father, and has less reticence and more of the King Lake fire, followed me to the recessed window, where, the wretched meal over, I made haste to hide myself out of sight. It was almost like a little room, that window, shut out by heavy curtains, and holding a stand of heliotrope and the great fauteuil in which I sat, my face turned away from Alice, that she need not see its comment on what was passing with-out while I listened to her in silence. I hate sympathy and condolence, because that shows that people know that your heart is sore.

At last :

" I know you want to be alone," said Alice ; " but, my dear, I am in a rage, and I can't go out there yet, and smile into Eliza Vaughan's eyes. If she means, in an honest business-like way, `a bold stroke for a husband,' why, Heaven save the mark and help the husband ! say I ; but I detest her would-be strategy. Imagine her telling him before us all that she never dreamed of finding him here !"

" Well."

" Oh, be ice if you choose, Georgia ; but you know as well as I that two hours ago she was in wrapper and slippers, and that toilet was the result of seeing him pass the house."

I could not help a glance out at the perfection of the toilet in question. It was daintily and well fancied, even to her film of a handkerchief, and the scarlet flowers drooping from her black hair, and Philip I knew noted all these things.

" As for Philip Hays," pursued Alice.

"What of him?" demanded-a pleasant voice, as the person in question parted the curtains and took possession of the footstool near me.

I   Alice gave a little shake and shrug of the shoulders for all reply, and vanished.

"What of Philip?" he asked again, looking searchingly up in my face.

"What should there be?" I answered, lightly. "You knew our thoughts of you when you left us, and four months is too short space for the growth of new opinions concerning an old friend."

" Are you quite sure of that, Georgia ?" he asked, quickly. " Is it only my fancy that tells me you looked at me then with different eyes from now ?"

Our tongues wag often without leave, and, " Ah, the eyes were set in a different face !" slipped from mine, as if the words had' been those of some third person.

To that the answer came swift as thought.

"Not for me, my darling. I loved the face then, and I love it now, better than my life. You are my life, and that for which I care to live ;" and then I hardly remember more than that my hand was taken into his clasp, and that so we sat in a sort of charmed hush, looking out through the open casement on the soft dark of the summer night, till Eliza Vaughan had gone away in a pet ; and some time on, late in the evening, Alice and George, my brother-in-law, parted the curtains and peered in, laughing at us.

"Why were you not at town - meeting, Dr. Philip ?" he asked, with merry malice. " The Croakers and the Wise men were there in full force, and not having you to turn the scales, we were equally divided and have done nothing. The Croakers will have it that, at five seconds after midnight precisely, the guerrillas will be upon us, and that every man of us should sleep with a powder-horn for a night-cap, and with one eye open; while the Wise men, of whom, as you all know me, It is not necessary to say that I am one, incline to the belief that there are no guerrillas within fifty miles, and that Ewing's men are quite competent to protect us."

Philip looked grave.

"And in case they do come? What have you done?"

" Done! why nothing; unless we except a few resolutions specially affecting that much belabored future generation."

" Have you any arms ?"

" Not I ! except those nature gave me. Are you too going to turn Croaker on our hands! What would you have us do ? Patrol the streets and frighten our little girls out of their senses ? Here is my stout-hearted Alice trembling in her shoes already."

" Why did you tell me of your meeting ? " rejoined Alice, petulantly. "I am quite certain that I shall not sleep to-night."

"Nor any of us," observed mother, placidly, "unless we move bedward soon. It is getting on to twelve."

All this time, under this surface chat, half-grave, half-jesting, was going on that quiet, electric, unspoken talk, in which is transacted so much of the business of home ; for you see they had all an honest pride and pleasure in my fair looks, and it was a sore blow at mother and Alice on that first day- when I had tottered down from my sick room ; and when it was known that Philip was coming, the kind souls had worn an air of waiting and anxiety that my pride only half liked ; and now I found the pleasure shining in their eyes almost as ill to bear. Perhaps, too, I was impatient of all this pother about the guerrillas, of which we had enough in Lawrence to grow tired, and of Philip's grave, anxious looks, as he still held my hand, red with the pressure of his fingers tightening their grasp in the unconscious energy of his thought. I had been " heart hungry, very poor" in spirit for many weeks, and now, in the parvenue insolence of' my sudden happiness, I was ready to say, "I shall never be moved." So blind are we !

It was after midnight when the house was at last hushed and the lights out, and an hour or so later before I could lose my tumultuous thinking in sleep ; and it seemed but a few short moments when, from the very deepest abyss of that heavy, dreamless slumber that follows close on strong excitement, I was dragged on a sudden up to startled consciousness by a hideous and inconceivable uproar, raging in the quiet street below, of clattering hoofs, hoarse shouts, cries, groans, cracking pistol-shots, and repeated hurrahs for a name that I could not at first distinguish. At the same instant Alice opened my door, still in her night-dress, her long fair hair all about her shoulders, and her bare feet hastily thrust into slippers, leading, or dragging rather, poor sleepy little Susie by the hand. She came close to my bed, and in all that horrible tumult whispered, as though those without could hear her,

" Georgia, don't you hear ! Get up at once ; the guerrillas are in Lawrence !"

I knew then what it was they said. "Hurrah for Quantrell!"

We are all ready enough to avow ourselves heirs to all manner of indefinite human ills, but if by chance we come into sudden possession of any of this species of property we accept it always with a feeling of astonishment that calamity should have found us out. I had this species of incredulity strong upon me, the nightmare feeling that this was some dreadful dream to be shaken off by an effort of will. I dressed with a sort of stony apathy, frozen into despair rather than maddened by the hideous out-cries without. Alice wandered aimlessly from one spot to the other, incapable of any exertion. She was distracted with terror. Mother came to us calm as ever, but for the tremble in her steady tones as she was hushing Susie. George and Philip joined us last. They had been looking after the doors and windows below.

"Though its useless," said George, with a bitter oath. "We're fairly trapped; caught here with-out arms, and not a door that those villains can't crash through in three minutes. Do you hear them? They are shooting men down right and left out there. What the devil are the soldiers doing across the river, while loyal men are murdered here like rats in a trap ?"

Out on the gray sky of the early dawn flamed

now a wicked blood-red light, shooting up in pointed, climbing flame, and making all the dim street as bright as noonday. They had fired the house just below (Eliza Vaughan's), and we saw her grand-father, poor old man, crazed with terror, run with feeble, tottering steps from the shadow into the great flare of light, and drop upon his knees, lifting up his hands for mercy ; and so kneeling fall to the pavement, his white hair all dabbled in blood, shot with deliberate aim by one of the men of whom the streets were now full, mounted and on foot, their scowling faces putting on the look of veritable demons in the glare as they aimed at every head showing either in door or window, and picked off unlucky fugitives trying to make good their escape. They worked with system and deliberation. dividing into smaller gangs, and entering the houses one after the other ; and every where followed the pistol-shots, and sickening cries and screams, and bursting smoke, and mounting flame, while household goods were tossed out on the stones, and covered all the pavement; and there were more bodies now near Mr. Vaughan, lying with ghastly faces up-turned to heaven, as if calling down its vengeance. Some we knew. One was Mr. Newton, our dear pastor.

I have been long in telling this, yet it was done with a horrible rapidity; and while scarce out of our first amaze we yet stood shuddering and sick with horror, sounded heavy blows and a dull crash below. At that Alice ran to George and flung her arms about him ; mother dropped upon her knees, still holding Susie, praying; while I felt Philip's arm about me, and heard his low voice as if in a dream.

" Courage, dearest ! Even these brutes will not harm won ten !"

As if I trembled for myself or wished for life without him ! I remember too, dimly, that I saw him offer George a pistol, and that George motioned it back, saying, briefly, " Of what use !" but every faculty, thought itself, was swamped in a strained intensity of listening—listening to the sounds be-low. As George had said, the fastenings were of about the worth of so much straw. There was a second storm of blows, a crash and clatter of falling panels, a rush and shout, the jingling fall of a mirror, a hurrah ! proclaiming that they had found the silver, a brief pause and debate, and then a heavy tramp on the stairs.

I sicken even now when I recall that instant of dreadful waiting; the wild prayer, the utter hope-less helplessness, the agonized grasp with which we held our dearest in our weak arms, the dying down of our hearts as the ruffians stood at last in the door-way, coldly scanning us. Oh, gay girls and happy women ! on that soft, gray dawning, sleeping securely in your great peaceful cities of the North and East, and your quiet country towns, you know of war but by hearsay, and think on it coldly, or you. could never sparkle in your gems, and tread out gay measures to gayer music, while such deeds are done ! You must be in more solemn earnest could you but feel the sorrows of our land, as of your land also, and not of a thing far off; could it be shadowed even in your dreams, what it was to stand there as we did that day, a whole lifetime of suspense in that instant's pause, an instant only: then a brief command to Alice, " Out of the way, woman !" a short, stern questioning of George,

From what State are you ?"

"New York."

" Do you go for the Union ?"

" Yes."

"Then you're too good for this earth; we mean to make it a slaveholding concern, the whole of it, afore we finish, and it won't be tit for an abolitionist. Reckon we'll give you a free pass to the upper regions."

And then a glittering barrel leveled at his head, and George's low "Good-by, Ally ;" and her frantic cry,

" Oh no ! you can not, you will not have the heart to kill him ! Oh ! you do not know—he is so dear, so good—men, men, have mercy!! Kill me instead'!" and we miserable women, clinging about him, and trying to cover him with our poor bodies, and the pistol close there, between us, and blinding smoke, and a groan, and George lying there on the carpet, as did Mr. Vaughan and Sir. Newton without, and quick, sharp ringing shots, one after another ; this time from Philip—as with a terrible cry of rage and anguish he flung himself on them headlong, and with such fury that for the moment they were staggered and gave back. A wild turmoil, a fearful struggle, and then Heaven was merciful to use and I saw no further.

Fire leaping out at windows, and gliding down the stairs, and bursting lip through the floors, and curling about the doorways, and toppling down chimneys, and crushing in our roof, was what our enemies left us—and the bodies of our dead. Lawrence was free of them. It was clear daylight now, and the country was rousing, and they departed in prudent haste loaded with our spoil. We, at least, could find refuge in the street from the devouring flame that swept all before it. Alice still knelt be-side George's stiffening body, but at mother's touch she rose and followed us mechanically. As we went I looked shuddering for another rigid, ghastly figure, but neither in hall, nor on stairway, nor pavement saw what I dreaded. Mother divined my thought.

"Best so," she said. "Don't look, love. Bet-ter to remember him as you saw him in life, than--like—dear George."

The streets were full of wretches like ourselves. Women distraught with anguish, sobbing children, homeless families; weeping mothers, wives, sisters, kneeling beside bleeding bodies. The sultry, heavy air, blue with smoke of burning buildings, resounded with lamentations. True, at last the soldiers were coming, and men pouring into the rescue in hot haste, with old swords snatched from the chimney-piece, and guns hunted out of the barn, and grief and rage in every rugged feature, as they vowed a bitter vengeance; but vengeance would not bring us back our dead, and the weeping and wailing went on.




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