Battle of Fort Steadman


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, April 8, 1865

This site features our online version of the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. These papers have a wealth of incredible details on the conflict, including news reports and illustrations created by eye-witnesses to the historic events depicted. We hope you enjoy browsing this online resource.

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Columbia, South Carolina



Fort Steadman

Battle of Fort Steadman

General Barnum

General Barnum

Navy Yard

Ruins of Norfolk Navy Yard


Spring Freshets

Rochester Flood

Rochester Flood


Civil War Bounties

Battle of the Salkehatchie

Columbia, South Carolina

Sherman Burning Columbia, South Carolina


Montevideo, Uruguay





APRIL 8, 1865.]



(Previous Page) himself within the rebel lines, would not unhesitatingly trust himself to the slaves. The reason of this is plain enough. It is that men love liberty and not slavery. It is that, despite the blissful friendship in which the " kind masters" and " happy slaves" live, a man wishes to own himself, and does not wish another man to sell his wife or his daughter. Therefore, says the Richmond Whig, as the slaves constantly want to run away to freedom, and the vile North will not send them back again, and as we have rebelled to keep them hopelessly in slavery, let us fully explain to them that if we conquer they shall never be free, and " an army of negro troops will soon be raised."


DEAR MR. EDITOR,—The most appalling incident of SHERMAN'S march is recorded in the Richmond Whig of March 23. That paper says that Mr. WILLIAM GILMORE Simms, whose house was protected by our troops and was afterward destroyed by a negro who " applied a torch," succeeded in saving over one hundred volumes of his manuscript works! Good Heavens ! Mr. Editor, if LEE and " the Confederacy" wish to be safe against all attack, why don't they intrench themselves behind those works ? SHERMAN'S men are heroes, but I should like to see them undertake to get through one hundred volumes of SIMM'S manuscript works ! We are told that the road to Kinston was strewn with torpedoes. That was bad ; but just think of "a Confederacy" strewn with this fearful quantity of SIMM'S literature ! No wonder the rebel papers speak of a general depression of the public mind.

Yours respectfully,



THE Son of the famous African traveler was a sailor, and, as the London News says, was induced by a substitute broker in an American port to enlist in the Third New Hampshire Volunteers. He is known to have been in the skirmish before Richmond on the 7th of October, 1864, and has not been heard of since. If he has been taken prisoner, it is hoped that, through mention in our papers, he may become aware of his father's great anxiety to hear of him before returning to Africa.


THE HARPERS will immediately issue the " History of Julius Caesar," by the Emperor Louis NAPOLEON, from the advance sheets bought in London.

The same house has just published the second and last volume of the "Autobiography and Correspondence of Lyman Beecher." It is a thoroughly American book. Dr. BEECHER'S character and career were peculiarly those of the American Puri-tan, and his history is full of interest in many ways. As a sketch of the religious movement of a half century it is very valuable, while the shrewd eye and wide sympathy of his children, who contribute much of the material for the biography, give us many delightful glimpses of country clerical life during the same period.

The late WILLIAM L. STONE was one of the most eminent of our local historical scholars and authors. His interest in the Indian annals and our relations with the Indians was profound, and his knowledge was so extensive and accurate that his works upon the subject have a permanent value. Mr. STONE'S sympathy was so heartily appreciated by the red men that the Senecas adopted him as one of their chiefs. For some years before his death he bad projected a Life of Sir WILLIAM JOHNSON, and had collected abundant material, including a large portion of Sir WILLIAM'S manuscripts ; but soon after beginning the biography Mr. STONE died. His son, of the same name, has piously fulfilled his father's Work, and in two goodly volumes has related the story of Sir WILLIAM and his times. The material was copious, and has been conscientiously and skillfully used. Mr. STONE has made a valuable contribution to the history of the country, and especially to that of New York. If two volumes seem too much for the subject, we have only to remember that Sir WILLIAM came to America in 1738, when he was twenty-three years old, and died here in 1774, in his sixtieth year ; and we shall see that his residence included the most interesting period of our colonial history with the long French and English wars, which properly pass under the biographer's hand. In all the striking events of his time upon our side of the sea, Sir WILLIAM was a conspicuous actor. No man knew the Indians better; nor did the Indians ever trust a white man more than they trusted him. "He never deceived us," was what they said of him ; and what can be said of scarcely one of the leading men who dealt with them. Mr. STONE'S narrative, if it lies much in the forests and upon the frontier, is picturesquely broken by such episodes as ABERCROMBIE'S campaign and that of General WOLFE at Quebec, and by constant vivid glimpses of the course of city and country politics in New York and New England. The whole work has a charming air of authenticity. It is written in a lucid and quiet style, and with a tranquil enthusiasm for the subject which alone could have sustained the author in his long and patient research. (J. MUNSELL, Albany.)

" Tony Butler" (HARPERS) is a novel of unusual excellence. It deals with the times, and so vividly, that it has been ascribed to Sir BULWER LYTTON and CHARLES LEVER. It is full of striking description, of variety, and adventure : the scene shifting from the city to the country, from Italy to En-gland. Brief and spirited, it is a capital book for the cars and the club.

" The American Union Speaker," by JOHN D. PHILBRICK, Superintendent of the Public Schools of Boston, is a good, solid, handsome book of fresh.

and excellent selections, in prose and poetry, for declamation in schools and colleges. Those who remember the American First Class Book will find here enough of the best of its contents to see that mere novelty is not preferred; while the generous selections from the most modern and most American of orators will serve as an inspiration of patriotism and humanity in every school where the volume is used. As a collection of truly elegant and eloquent extracts it is unsurpassed, while its peculiarly American character makes it doubly valuable. (TAGGARD & THOMPSON, Boston.)

"Christian's Mistake," by the author of "John Halifax" (HARPERS), is one of those tender domestic tales in which Miss MULLOCK is quite unrivaled. It is simple, natural, and pathetic, gradually developing into a pleasant and healthful ending : one of the books which, without preaching in the least, are sure to do good. Clearly printed and very neatly bound, it is sure of a hearty welcome.



ON the 21st General Schofield occupied Goldsborough. General Sherman was at Goldsborough on the 22d.

The official report of his operations since he left Fayetteville up to the 22d shows hard fighting, resulting in very heavy loss to the enemy in killed and wounded, and over 2000 prisoners in our hands. His own loss he says will be covered by 2500 men since he left Savannah. Many of them are but slightly wounded. A letter from Goldsborough says that the scene when Sherman's veterans marched in and met Schofield's men was enthusiastic beyond description. The gallant fellows had swept every thing before them, and had at last met their reinforcements and supplies at a new base, and after having won new victories. Schofield's corps, it will be recollected, was a part of Sherman's army down to the capture of Atlanta.

The junction of Sherman with Terry and Schofield took place at Cox's Bridge on the Neuse River, a few miles west of Goldsborough.

An unofficial dispatch states that the Fourteenth Corps of Sherman', army had a fight with Hardee at Averysborough on the 16th inst., in which the latter was handsomely defeated, leaving all his dead in General Davis's hands, and retreating to Bentonville. Also, that at Bentonville, on Sunday, the 19th inst., one division of the Fourteenth Corps was attacked by Johnston, and for a while turned back ; but on being reinforced, the rest of the divisions drove the enemy back, and during Sunday night he abandoned Bentonville and fell back across the Neuse River to Smithfield, some ten miles west of Goldsborough. This dispatch concludes with the statement that after his repulse at Bentonville, Joe Johnston fell back to Smithfield, to cover Raleigh. Desertions of North Carolina troops from his army were numerous.


On Saturday, March 25, early in the morning, four of Lee's divisions, under General Terry, attacked Meade's right before Petersburg. They had at first a partial success, capturing Fort Steadman and a portion of the line adjacent. They failed, however, in an attempt on Fort Haskell. The attempts of the Federal troops to regain Fort Steadman appear to have been unsuccessful at the first, but finally the enemy was repulsed with great loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners. The following dispatch from General Parke gives the details of the fight:

CITY POINT, VIRGINIA.—1.30 P.M., March 25, 1865.

Hon. Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War:

The following dispatch of General Parke is received from General Meade. U. S. GRANT, Lieut.-General. The enemy attacked my front this morning, at about 4.30 o'clock, with three divisions, under command of General Terry.

By a sudden rush they seized the line held by the Third Brigade, First Division, at the foot of the hill to the right of Fort Steadman, wheeled and overpowering the garrison, took possession of the fort.

They established themselves upon the hill, turning our guns upon us.

Our troops on either flank stood firm.

Afterward a determined attack was made upon Fort Haskell, which was checked by part of M'Laughlin's brigade, Wilcox's division, and was repulsed with great loss to the enemy.

The First Brigade of Hartrauft's division, held in reserve, was brought up, and a check given to any further advance.

One or two attempts were made to retake the hill, and were only temporarily successful, until the arrival of the Second Brigade, when a charge was made by that brigade, aided by the troops of the First Division on either flank, and the enemy were driven out of the fort, with the loss of a number of prisoners, estimated at about 1600. Two battle flags have also been brought in.

The enemy also lost heavily in killed outside of our lines.

The whole line was immediately reoccupied, and the guns retaken uninjured.

I regret to add that General M'Laughlin was captured in Fort Steadman.

Our loss otherwise was not heavy.

Great praise is due to Hartrauft for the gallantry displayed in handling his division, which behaved with great skill in this its first engagement.

JOHN G. PARKE, Major-General.

According to a later dispatch from Grant, dated March 27, the battle of the 25th resulted in the following losses on our side :

Second Corps.—Killed, 51 ; wounded, 462; missing, 177.

Sixth Corps.--Killed, 47 ; wounded, 401 ; missing, 80. Ninth Carps.—Killed, 68; wounded, 338 ; missing, 506. Our captures by the Second Corps were 365; by the

Sixth Corps 469 ; and by the Ninth Corps 1049. The Second and Sixth Corps pushed forward on our extreme left, and captured the enemy's strong intrenchments and turned his guns against him, and still held the position. In trying to retake this the battle was continued until 8 o'clock at night, the enemy losing very heavily. Humphreys estimates the loss of the enemy in his front at three times his own ; and General Wright, in his front, as double that of ours. The enemy brought in a flag of truce for permission to collect his dead, which were between their picket line and their main line of fortifications. Permission was granted.


Mobile was to have been attacked on the 24th. A few days will decide the issue at that point. In the mean time Thomas is organizing a powerful army in Tennessee.

The following dispatch is the report of a naval enterprise recently undertaken by Lieutenant N. C. Forrest of the Mississippi Squadron:

ALABAMA, March 4, 1865.

SIR,—I have the honor to inform you that I took advantage of the late rise in the Tennessee River and crossed Elk River Shoals with the flag ship and the General Thomas, and went down to Muscle Shoals. I came across the rebel General Rhoddy's camp and drove them off, captured some of their horses with the equipments, and seven bales of cotton. I destroyed the rebel communications at Lamb's Ferry. A large number of flats, pontoons, scows, and canoes that I found there I also destroyed.

I then penetrated Elk River and found a rich and populous country. A great deal of loyal sentiment was displayed. I am meeting with a great deal of success in endeavoring to encourage loyal feelings on the south side of the river. The citizens are constantly coming in from the rebels and taking the oath. From interviews I have had with prominent men, I think there is no doubt that Alabama will soon return to her allegiance to the Govern-

ment. Mr. Clements, I have understood, is endeavoring to become military Governor, and I think will be very popular with the loyal people of the State.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

N. COREAN FORREST, Lieutenant Commanding 11th Div. Miss. Squadron.


General Hartrauft, on the rcommendation of General Grant, has been promoted to be a Major-General by brevet, for conspicuous gallantry in repulsing and driving back the enemy from the lodgment made on our lines last Saturday.

Major-General Gibbons, of the gallant old Second Corps, and who has since General Ord's appointment to the command of the Department had the temporary charge of the Twenty-fourth Corps, has received his regular appointment as commandant of that corps.

The President has ordered Brevet Major-General Anderson to raise over Fort Sumter, at the hour of noon, on the 14th of April, the same United States flag that floated over it at the time of the rebel assault, and that it be saluted with 100 guns from Sumter, and from every fort and rebel battery that there fired upon Sumter; also that suitable military ceremonies be performed under the direction of Major-General W. T. Sherman, whose operations compelled the evacuation of Charleston, or, in his absence, under the direction of General Gillmore, commanding that military department ; and also that the naval forces at Charleston be directed to participate in the ceremonies; and that Rev. Henry Ward Beecher be invited to deliver a public address on the occasion.

The whole of the first issue of the seven-thirty loan has been taken up by the people. The investments of the people in this issue within six weeks have reached the enormous sum of one hundred and sixty-one millions a fact unprecedented in the history of popular loans.

The oldest officer now in our army is Adjutant G. Peacocks, whose commission bears date March 31, 1783. General Thomas says, in his official report, that from Sept. 7 to Jan. 20, four and a half months, his captures numbered 13,189 men, including seven general and 1000 other officers, and 72 pieces of artillery. Over 2000 deserters were received, and a great deal of valuable ammunition and other war material was captured. Our own losses, of all sorts, are under 10,000.

The forces in front of our Petersburg lines are the same that have been there ever since the corps came from the Valley, viz. ; A. P. Hill's corps on the rebel right ; Gordon's corps, formerly Early's, resting on the rebel left; with a couple of divisions, one of which is Bushrod Johnson's, lying between the James and the Appomattox. Longstreet has two divisions belonging to his old corps on the north side of the James.

The President last Saturday had a distant view of the rebel forces before our lines at Petersburg. While going to witness a review with General Grant he stopped at a fort within eye shot of the extreme front, and from its parapet took a survey of the field. At one point in his excursion Mr. Lincoln was within six miles of Richmond. Major-General George Crook has been ordered to report to General Grant for assignment to command. He will probably succeed General Kautz in the command of the cavalry division on the north of the James, the entire cavalry force being once more under the command of General Sheridan.

On the 28th of February, at the close of the carnival, at Port-au-Prince, there was to have been a performance in the evening at the theatre, but in lighting the lamps, through some carelessness, the scenery caught fire. The building was soon destroyed, and the flames spread from house to house, until four hundred houses were destroyed, involving a loss of forty to fifty millions of Haytian dollars, and depriving hundreds of persons of their homes. The fire, though lasting only six hours, destroyed the most active business part of the city. There were but a few fire engines, and such a scarcity of axes that hardly any thing could be done to arrest the progress of the flames. The consternation of the people was great for several days after the fire. The city was patroled by guards. The Government is taking measures to assist the sufferers, and a general subscription has been opened for their benefit.

The Post-office Route Agent between Charleston and Branchville, South Carolina, has applied to the Post-office Department for services rendered after the secession of the State.

Of the 110 rebel officers captured at Fort Steadman, and sent to the Old Capitol, four were colonels, two lieutenant-colonels, six majors, eight captains, and ninety lieutenants, representing not less than forty rebel regiments that were engaged in the attack.

General Kautz, commanding cavalry, Army of the James, has been relieved and ordered to report to General Weitzel. General M'Kenzie, of the Army of the Potomac, succeeds him.

An average of $350 a day is being paid to rebel deserters for the muskets they bring in.



ON the 13th of March an important debate took place in the British Parliament on the defenses of Canada and the probability of a war with America. The debate ostensibly arose out of the supposed proposal made during the recent conference between the Confederate agents and the Federal authorities. Mr. S. Fitzgerald began the debate by calling attention to the report of Colonel Jervois on the defenses of Canada. Mr. Foster objected that the expense of thorough fortification would be almost fabulous. He believed that the apprehension of war was unfounded.

Then Mr. Disraeli arose. We can not report his speech in full, but give a few extracts. He said:

"I am not of opinion that in the event of the termination of the American War we should be placed in any in, mediate danger of coming into collision with that Government owing to our connection with Canada. I do not believe that the citizens of the United States of the North, even if entirely and completely victorious, will feel inclined to enter immediately into another struggle with a Power not inferior in determination and in resources to the Southern States of America. The democracy of America must not be confounded with the democracy of the Old World. It is not formed of the scum. of turbulent cities, neither is it merely a section of an exhausted middle class which speculates in stocks and calls that progress. It is a territorial democracy. Now, being a territorial democracy, their character has been formed and influenced in a manner by the property with which they are connected, and by the pursuits they follow; and a sense of responsibility arising from the reality of their possessions may much influence their political conduct. And I believe they are very much more inclined to welcome the returning laborers to their fields, to see around them the products of the earth, and to behold happiness in those house holds to which they are so much attached, than to plunge into the misery of a new and terrible war." Mr. Disraeli then went on to say that great changes had taken place in the United States during the war. There had been greater centralization. He thought this would be continued after the war, on account of the new element introduced into society by the emancipation of a class who, being free, would yet be debarred from respect, and would be discontented. He then continued: " It is impossible to know what relations may exist between the United States, this country, and her Majesty's dependencies on the other side of the Atlantic. The question we have to ask ourselves is, is this country prepared to renounce her American dependencies and colonies, or are we to retain that tie? Now, if these colonies expressed a wish to separate the connection, and if they preferred to be absorbed by the United States, we might terminate our connection with dignity and without disaster. But if, on the other hand, those views are just which are more generally accepted if there should be on the part of Canada and the other North American colonies a sincere and deep desire to form a considerable state and develop its resources, and to preserve the patronage and aid of England until that mature hour when we shall lose our dependency, but gain a permanent ally and friend then it would be the greatest political blunder that can be conceived for us to renounce, relinquish, and avoid the responsibility of maintaining our interests in Canada at the present moment. If, from considerations of expense, we were to quit the possessions that we now occupy in North America, it would be ultimately, as regards our resources and wealth, as fatal and disastrous a step as could possibly be taken."

Mr. Bright said that there was no power in England capable of defending Canada against the United States. He did not apprehend a war.

Viscount Palmerston thought the debate would have great value. It would show Americans that the disposition of England was not hostile to their country. There was nothing, he thought, to indicate the probability of a war; but it was still the duty of England to afford to Canada the most perfect defense which was possible. He said: " We have no complaint to make of the Government of the United States; they have acted in a fair and honorable manner in all the matters that may have arisen between us. No doubt there are claims which they have put forward, not urging them at present, but laying the ground for their discussion at some future time. No doubt, also, we have claims upon them which we do not put forward at present, but have announced to be claims which at some future time may be discussed. But I should trust that we both feel it to be for the interest ay, and for the honor of the two countries that peace should be preserved, and that matters of this sort ought to be capable of a friendly and amicable adjustment. All I can say is that the Government, as long as they continue to be chargeable with the conduct of affairs, will do every thing that the honor and interests of the country permit them to do to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and friendship between the two countries."

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