Editorial on General Sherman's March


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, February 4, 1865

This site features an online archive of Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. These old newspapers make fascinating reading, and present first reports of the battles and key events. The woodcut illustrations were created by eye-witnesses to the events and shed new light on this important conflict. This material is simply not available anywhere else.

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Fort Fisher

Battle of Fort Fisher

Sherman March

Editorial on General Sherman's March


Pardon of Mrs. Hutchins

Surrender of Fort Fisher

Surrender of Fort Fisher

Soldier's Diary

Soldier's Diary

General Ames

General Adelbert Ames

Destruction of the Savannah Ram

Transatlantic Telegraph

Transatlantic Telegraph


Soldiers Celebrating

Battle of Fort Fisher

Battle of Fort Fisher

John Bull Cartoon

John Bull Cartoon







[FEBRUARY 4, 1865.


(Previous Page) immense bomb proofs, about sixty feet long, fifty feet wide, and twenty feet high seventeen of them in all being on the northeast face. Between each traverse or bomb-proof are one or two heavy guns. The fighting lasted until ten o'clock at night, the Ironsides and Monitors firing through the traverses in advance of our troops, and the level strip of laud called Federal Point being enfiladed by the ships to prevent reinforcements reaching the rebels."

At four o'clock one half the fort was in our possession. This position was maintained until the arrival of reinforcements, when another charge was made at nine o'clock. This drove the garrison toward the end of the Point, making here and there a stand at the water batteries, until they were pushed to the extremity, when they surrendered. At that time both General WHITING and Colonel LAMB, who conducted the defense of the fort, were lying wounded in one of the bomb proofs of the water batteries. Our losses had been great how great it is impossible now to say with accuracy. It has been estimated at 900, but this includes the naval loss also, as well as the casualties from the explosion of the magazine the next morning. The naval brigade lost one hundred and seventy men. In the military division every one of the three commanders of the brigades engaged in the assault CURTIS, PENNYBACKER, and BELL were wounded. The last of these has died.

The scene which followed upon the surrender was brilliant beyond description. The hearty cheer from the captured fort was echoed from the entire fleet. From every vessel rockets were thrown up into the air, filling the sky with brightness. No one had escaped from the fort to tell the tale of disaster. Nineteen hundred prisoners were taken and seventy two guns. The fort had been manned with 2300 men, 400 of whom were killed or wounded.

The next morning after the capture of the fort a terrible accident occurred, which somewhat marred the cheer of victory. By some most culpable negligence the soldiers were allowed to approach the magazine of the fort with lighted candles. This occasioned an explosion at 8 o'clock A.M., which resulted in a loss of about 200 men. This loss fell chiefly upon three regiments the One Hundred and Sixty-ninth and One Hundred and Fifteenth New York, and the Fourth New Hampshire. Colonel ALONZO ALDEN, of the One Hundred and Sixtyninth, had both his legs broken, and is reported dead.

Later advices from Admiral PORTER confirm the report that Fort Caswell, on Oak Island, had been blown up by the enemy. This work commanded the Old Inlet, was built of granite, and mounted a 4 large number of guns. The rebel steamers Tallahassee and Chickamauga had also been blown up. Admiral PORTER states his loss at 21 officers killed and wounded, and 309 men.

In his report the Admiral says " I have since visited Fort Fisher and its adjoining works, and find their strength greatly beyond what I had conceived. An engineer might be excusable in saying they could not be captured except by regular siege. I wonder even now how it was done. The work, as I said before, is really stronger than the Malakoff Tower, which defied so long the combined power of France and England ; and yet it is captured by a handful of men, under the fire of the guns of the fleet, and in seven hours after the attack commenced in earnest."

" The success," he adds, " is so great that we should not complain. Men, it seems, must die that this Union may live ; and the Constitution under which we have gained our prosperity must be maintained. We regret our companions in arms, and shed a tear over their remains ; but if these rebels should succeed we would have nothing but regret left us, and our lives would be spent in terror and sorrow."

General TERRY has added another to his well won laurels by the success of his assault on Fort Fisher. At the capture of Fort Pulaski, at the battle of Pocotaligo, in the operations which led to the capture of Morris Island and Fort Wagner, in the tedious campaign of last summer upon the James, he has taken a distinguished part. And now the country resounds over his last and most brilliant achievement at Fort Fisher. Although not a graduate of West Point, he was in youth a military student, and entered the war with as much thorough knowledge of the art of war as his peers from West Point. He is about six feet and two inches high, slender, with bright hair and blue eyes, and a grave but gentle expression of countenance. As modest as he is brave, he well merits Admiral PORTER'S enthusiastic praise as " the beau-ideal of a soldier and a general." Connecticut has given to the war LYON, SEDGWICK, MANSFIELD, FOOTE, and WINTHROP, but of none may she be more justly proud than of the hero of Fort Fisher.


BEHOLD, along the rugged battle-ways,

Freedom with yet another trophy comes ; Comes joyously, 'mid blare of throbbing drums, And trumpets pealing jocund notes of praise.

Missouri's free ! No more shall lash and chain

Her symbols be the sisterhood among;

No more the shadow of her shame be flung Along the North-tides hurrying to the main.

No more shall Ruin bar the poor man's gate,

Or wasted fields in ghastly silence lie;

No more shall murdered souls for vengeance cry, Or bondmen for the purple morning wait.

No more ! Already on each drowsy height,

And through the age-locked, rusted prison-doors,

That promised dawn its golden splendor pours, Expelling all the shadows of the night !

Missouri's free ! God bless her hair of gold

Last, fairest daughter of dear Freedom's flock

And set all feet at last upon the Rock The Fathers found in the brave days of old !




AS General SHERMAN enters upon his new campaign the enemy in the region toward which he will probably advance begins the same cry that it did in Georgia. When he moved out of Atlanta he was saluted in two hostile keys, one of rage, the other of ridicule. The horrible things that he meant to do, the hopeless slavery to which the people were to be subjected, the desolation which was to blight the country, these were made the spurs to frantic appeals to hem him in, to hunt him down, and destroy the savage and his hosts. On the other hand, he was a cornered fox obliged to run into a trap. The hopelessness of his undertaking showed his desperate condition. His march was an ignominious retreat which must end in his destruction, etc., etc.

Somehow he arrived comfortably and sat down in Savannah after an agreeable journey. He came neither like ALARIC nor TIMOUR THE TARTAR, but as the firm supporter and restorer of an equal and benign Government, against which those who were anxious that others should " hunt" him had causelessly rebelled. There was never a march of so large an army through so hostile a country that devastated so little and was so little molested. After resting at Savannah the invincible General now turns his face northward, and the cry that greeted him before again breaks forth.

Here is a specimen of the frenzied effort to excite the South Carolinians against him. It is a letter written to a Charleston newspaper, from Pocotaligo, just before SHERMAN occupied it :

" SHERMAN and his thieves and robbers have sworn that South Carolina shall be annihilated. His corps commanders have spoken it to the wife of one of our generals unavoidably left at Savannah from whose lips I heard it. And it has been reiterated from the mouth of every prisoner brought into our lines. Not a chip, they say, is to be left behind them unconsumed. Neither will respect be paid to youth, beauty, or age. ' Booty and beauty,' the original war cry with which South Carolina was threatened, is to be re-echoed upon her soil. Unless our people have submitted themselves to be Yankee task masters and slaves, these fiends incarnate will be driven howling from their borders. Let youth and age alike prepare for the conflict. Let the march of the enemy upon our own soil be rendered perilous by the crack of the unerring rifle from the midst of every thicket and swamp which lies in his pathway ; and let our women, instead of exhibiting timidity, nervousness, and panic, prove themselves worthy representatives of those of '76. The tree of liberty must be watered by the blood of its martyrs, and the fair hand and gentle but fearless soul of woman must nurture and strengthen it."

We had all this two months ago in Georgia, and what do we now see? We see that this kind of talk is not believed by those whom it is intended to affect. When SHERMAN marched from Atlanta the people of Georgia were summoned to take shot guns and assemble for "a grand hunt." They did not come. Now that he moves from Savannah, the Carolinians are exhorted to do the same thing. But they will not come. The soldiers will fight, but the people will not destroy their stores or desolate their country. Georgia offered the most eligible opportunity for the last ditch, and it was not accepted. Savannah surrendered. Why? Because the people disbelieved just such rhetoric as we have quoted. They knew that SHERMAN'S motto was not "Booty and beauty," They knew he and his men were not thieves and robbers ; and "youth and age" had no stomach for useless slaughter. They knew that SHERMAN'S hand was stronger than theirs. They would not have their city battered down about their ears. They differed from JEFF DAVIS, and preferred Yankees to hyenas. So Savannah surrendered. " Amen !" sighed the papers that had urged the hunt, " it is a blessing in disguise."

There is no reason to suppose that SHERMAN'S task will be more difficult in Carolina than in Georgia, except from the greater number of veteran troops which will possibly be concentrated against him. It is understood, however, that he is no weaker, to say the least, than he was in Georgia ; and as his movement is but a part of GRANT'S combined operations, the enemy will be perplexed where to weaken his line, when every point is equally important.

SHERMAN is a blessing who disguises himself so impenetrably that the rebels are in the most delightful doubt at what precise point the benediction will burst upon them.


THE friends of the rebellion are not yet quite weary of asking, with a plausible calmness, whether it is not the fundamental principle of our system that governments justly exist by the consent of the governed.

"We knew by the distant random gun
That the foe were sullenly firing."

And since they are not weary of asking we must not falter in answering.

It is the American doctrine, then, that government justly exists by the consent of the governed. And in this country who are the gov

erned? Are they the citizens of any State or section, of any county or city ? Obviously not ; they are the whole people of the country. No part of the population has any more right to call itself the people and claim the privileges of the people than the tailors of Tooley Street had to call themselves the people of England.

The Government of the United States exists by the consent of the people of the United States. It is the same people which spoke of itself in the Declaration of Independence in saying, " When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds," etc. This people is the united population of all the States ; and those of them who live in the State of Maine or in all the New England States combined, or in Ohio or all the Western States, or in Maryland or the Middle States, or in the Carolinas or the Southern States, can not assume to speak for the people of which they are a small portion. The Constitution provides for any necessary expression of the popular will, and by referring the government every two years to the people provides, if its guarantees are observed, against the necessity of revolution.

This being so, the only persons in the Southern States who had a right to plead the fundamental doctrine of the government as an excuse for taking up arms were the slaves. They had an undoubted right to say to us, "You proclaim that government justly exists by the consent of the governed. But our consent was never asked, and is disregarded without reasonable hope of peaceful redress. If you will give us our share in the government, well ; if not, we shall take it by force if we can." The slaves were the only people in the country who could justly use this language. But how could a body of American citizens living in the Southern States, who had exactly the same privileges as all others, and who had held possession of the Government almost uninterruptedly from the beginning, rush to arms after an election in which they had taken part, and refuse to obey the laws, under the pretense that governments justly exist by the consent of the governed?

Our enemies in England are very fond of this argument ; but if the supporters of the Chicago platform and candidates at the late election should declare themselves dissatisfied with the result, refuse their consent to Mr. LINCOLN'S election, and justify resistance to the laws upon the ground that governments exist by the consent of the governed, would our English cavilers say that upon our own principles we could not complain ? Such objectors will agree that there is a British people, and that they have certain rights. Let them understand that there is also an American people, or a people of the United States, and that it is their consent, constitutionally expressed, which is the basis of the government of this country. The city of New York may, without an opposing voice, resolve to disobey the laws of the country, but the result will merely be that the city will conquer the nation, or will be conquered by it. The inhabitants of the city of New York are not the people of the United States, neither are the inhabitants of South Carolina or of Georgia. The Yorkshire men are not the British people, neither are the Londoners. And governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.


MR. FRANCIS P. BLAIR has been for a few weeks a very conspicuous personage. His movements have been telegraphed through the country, and his name has been persistently associated with peace. If he can give us peace by persuading the rebels to lay down their arms and submit to the Government, his name will be sweet forever in the memory of a grateful people. Any thing else that he may do is entirely unimportant in itself, but greatly to be deplored as exciting foolish hopes and filling the popular ear with wind.

But the Tribune takes a different view. We mention the name because we do not remember to have seen so extraordinary a remark in any other journal as the one we are about to quote. The honest loyalty of the Tribune is not to be questioned of course. But its performances upon the subject of peace are truly remarkable. A series of extracts from its columns, containing an expression at various times of its pacific expectations and prophecies, would be almost incredible.

But all of them are comparatively unimportant by the side of its remark a few days since that, even if Mr. BLAIR should fail to effect a pacification, which It said it did not much expect, " he will yet have done his country a signal service by assuring the South that our Government is not vindictive, and does not insist on an unconditional surrender, but is ready and eager to co-operate in the restoration of an honorable and lasting peace."

If this means any thing whatever, it means that the Government of the United States is willing to make a conditional peace with armed rebels. In other words, when citizens, displeased with the result of an election, take up arms, they are to understand that the Government will yield. They need not unconditionally obey the laws and submit to the Government, but they shall prescribe the terms of their obedience.

The Tribune, in the words we quote, substantially says that, if Mr. BLAIR can persuade the South that the Government will concede the success of the rebellion, he will have done his country a signal service. But how can he serve his country by announcing a premium upon rebellion ?

The pernicious folly of such talk is beyond calculation. The Government does insist on an unconditional surrender. That was the exact issue before the people in the late election. There was to be no compromising, no compounding, no convention, no waving of olive boughs, but the authority of the Government was to be unconditionally maintained. The whole country understood it. The rebels understood it. The world understood it. And, accordingly, in his Message to Congress, a month after the country had almost unanimously declared for an unconditional surrender of the rebels, the President said, " They can, at any moment, have peace simply by laying down their arms and submitting to the national authority under the Constitution." By what authority does the Tribune immediately say that the Government does not insist on an unconditional surrender ?

The question of the conditions of peace is perfectly simple. There is no need of supposing or of arguing that any thing is to be accomplished by mysterious missions. There is nothing to be concealed. The Government can have nothing to say to any rebel that it has not already said to the country; and if it should have, it can not say it so effectively as by declaring it publicly and by an authorized minister. As for humanity and fraternity, they are both most truly served by a quiet insistence upon the only means which can secure a humane and fraternal and permanent peace ; while those who think that we do not show a disposition for peace unless we constantly ask JEFFERSON DAVIS whether he will give it up, are those who really think the Government ought not to make war. Nor need we indulge a visionary hope of widening any breach among the leading rebels. How can that be done by any man who merely repeats what the leading rebels already know? and if any body says more than that he takes a different ground from that of the President in his Message.

One thing is indisputable ; if any agent or private visitor to Richmond tells any rebel that the Government of the United States does not insist upon an unconditional surrender, he does all he can to disgrace his country and to pro-long the war.


IN civil war words are things. This war of ours is to determine whether we are a nation, with national sovereignty and powers ; or merely a league, covenant, or federation of separate sovereign States. To every loyal man this proposition has very much the air of a truism. But there is a curious and frequent heedlessness of its truth in practice. Many of our officers and orators and editors constantly speak of the Government as the Federal Government, and the army and navy as the Federal army and navy. The national cause itself is often described as the Federal cause.

Now a federation and a confederation are historically very much the same thing. The states of Greece were leagued, or federated, or confederated, like the German monarchies and the Dutch provinces. The terms of federation were different, but the federative principle in history is the union of separate sovereignties for common safety. The absolute sovereignty of the state remained, except so far as it was expressly limited as in the old Dutch republic, where any one of the federated provinces could not make an alliance without the consent of all the others.

But the precise difference between the action of States surrendering their separate sovereignty to form a nation and that of sovereign States uniting in a federation, or confederacy, is fully illustrated in the comparison of the preamble of the United States Constitution and that of the Rebel Constitution. The first establishes a Union such as history had not recorded, and which is a nation. The other aims to found a Federation, or Confederacy. Thus in our Constitution it is written and by the very words used the prospective existence of a nation is assumed, which even in the fundamental act of its creation speaks in its national character " We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union," etc., etc., "do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

On the other hand, the rebels who repudiate the national existence, and assert that the Union is only a League, or Confederacy, or Federation involuntarily abandon their interpetation of the Constitution in forming their League. For if the Constitution of the United States is evidently merely a federative bond between sovereign States, why change the phraseology in forming a similar bond for some of the same States ? The rebel argument is weakened by the change, for it seems to show not only a doubt, but a tolerably strong conviction, that their interpretation is wrong. Thus in the Montgomery Constitution of the so called " Confederate States of America" the preamble reads : " We, (Next Page)




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