Savannah After the Fall


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, January 21, 1865

This Harper's Weekly Newspaper was published during the Civil War, and is part of our extensive collection of historical documents. We are creating an online archive of this collection, to enable the serious student of the War a deeper and broader understanding of the key people, battles and events of the war.

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


Dutch Gap Canal

Dutch Gap Canal

Fall of Savannah

Savannah After the Fall


Roanoke Expedition

Battle of Wilmington

Battle of Wilmington

Building Canal

Building Dutch Gap Canal

Mosby Two Days

Two Days with Colonel Mosby


Wreck of the Otsego

Eliza Hancox

Sinking of the Eliza Hancox

Newspaper Office

Newspaper Office



Slocum Revolver

Slocum's Revolver







[JANUARY 21, 1865.




HOLY Saint Martin once at Amiens' gate,

Passing that way where went both low and great, Saw there, ashiver with the winter's cold, A poor half-naked wretch—silver or gold The Saint had none : his kindly beaming eyes, Mild as the light of stars within the skies, Filled with the rising pity in his breast, Where dwelt all charities which make men blest, At sight of one, a soul so desolate,

Houseless and friendless by the city's gate, And taking from his back the coat he wore, Into two parts the garment then he tore, And with a blessing which all lips may say, Gave to him there the half, and went his way.

Next night, upon some deed of mercy bent,

By that same gate the good Saint Martin went, And saw within its shadow, standing there, A man of thoughtful mien and presence fair, Around whom shone a mildly radiant light—None like to it had ever blest his sight—And in its sheen the city's frowning gate

Seemed Heaven's own portal where good angels wait, And to the Saint's meek eyes, with wonder wide, The palms of Paradise uprose each side;

And lo! the man was Christ ; speechless, amazed, Spell-bound with wonderment Saint Martin gazed, And saw the ragged garment he had given Worn on the shoulders of the Lord from heaven!




TURING the progress of the war and the desolation of the Southern States the tragical sophistry of she theory of supreme State Sovereignty mush have been brought home to many thoughtful minds with overpowering force. It is a theory invented by those who were hostile to the Union, and carefully cultivated by those who meant to try to destroy the nation the moment they ceased to control it. But experience has now shown its practical folly; for it appears that the sentiment of nationality is so much stronger in the country than that of local independence that the question is virtually settled. The instincts of the people of the United States have determined that, as in every political society there can be but one supreme and sovereign authority, that authority in this country is the National Government. States, counties, cities, towns, villages, have each their rights and privileges ; but among them the right of asserting an independent supreme sovereignty is not included; and the people have shown that they will maintain the national independence at any cost whatever. Equal civil liberty in this country is not so much endangered by centralization bad as extreme centralization may be as it is by separation. The enemies of equal civil liberty in the United States have always been the advocates of supreme State Sovereignty; but its friends have always seen that the truest defense of liberty is confidence in the people as a whole, and not in the State divisions.

Indeed the idea that Iowa, Minnesota, or Wisconsin, arbitrarily measured off from the territory of the United States by the authority of the United States, and settled by New Englanders, New Yorkers, Pennsylvanians, and various Europeans, is a sovereign State independent of all others, and, at its pleasure, utterly foreign to the United States, is sheer midsummer madness. A ward in the cities of New York or Chicago has just as much original sovereignty independent of the city as such a State has of the country.

Nor is the case really different with what are called the original States. They were generally tracts granted to companies under royal patents. Their boundaries were expressed with amusing vagueness. The original colonists were mainly from England. They brought with them a nationality and similar forms of local government. They were not originally sovereign nor independent; but as united colonies they won a united independence, and established a united government which they found too weak because it left the union subject to the individual control of the States. Thereupon the Union was formed. It was not a league it was not a treaty it was not a confederation; and the necessities and instincts of the people have approved the intention of its wisest friends, showing it to be in the truest sense a nation. The war proves how deep and strong the national instinct is; and it is impossible that the great truth should not be seen by many a citizen of the Southern States who has hitherto held to the hopeless and impracticable dogma of State Sovereignty.


IF the people who live along the line of the Erie and other railroads, and who daily go and come through the Bergen tunnel, propose to suffer themselves to be slaughtered like sheep in that dark den, they will undoubtedly meet that fate. But those who have a remoter interest in the matter, who are only generally concerned that railroad travel shall not be certain massacre,

have the right to ask of the officers of the Erie Railway, which owns the tunnel, of Messrs. ROBERT H. BERDELL, CHARLES MINOT, J. W. GUPPY, WM. R. BARR, and H. HOEBS, who are named in the Guide as President and General and Assistant Superintendents, why it is that in an unlighted tunnel, 4400 feet long, and through which about a hundred trains pass every day, such precautions are not taken as to render accidents virtually impossible ? If the managers of the road can not adopt such precautions, they ought not to be intrusted with so immense a responsibility, and are morally guilty of all the horrible consequences.

The only measures upon which the management rely for the safety of the trains are a temporary stoppage before entering the tunnel, a delay of five minutes in following another train, and colored lanterns and torpedoes for warning. There are no lights in the tunnel, no signal men. Whoever enters that fatal darkness should leave all hope behind, conscious as he is that in certain chances which are most likely to occur, he is sure to be a victim. For instance, last week a train stopped in the tunnel just before emerging. As it started the coupling broke. The colored lantern was hung in the rear, and torpedoes were placed upon the track ; but the train that followed neither saw nor heard, and came thundering on, with the inevitable result.

That result will constantly repeat itself if the passengers do not help themselves. The loss of life upon railroads during the last year is more than double what it was for several previous years : and the hope of arresting the increasing mortality does not rest with the managers, but with the passengers and the legislatures. We hope that in our own Assembly and Senate the Central Raihroad of this State will be firmly met when it comes to ask for additional privileges, and that they will be granted only upon the most stringent conditions, securing the safety and comfort of the public, and upon the clearest showing that the public welfare demands additional grants. Are the lives of the people of the State of New York not as precious as the dividends of the railroads ? Those people will have a right to be disappointed if their representatives do not defend them from the dangers of railroad travel.


IN the late article of the Richmond Sentinel, which sounds like a cry of rage and despair, and which is important because the paper is known to speak the views of the rebel chief Davis, are these words: "If an unpropitious Providence should condemn us to a master, let it not be a Yankee master. Of all the people on earth we have most reason to loathe and dread them. Any terms by any other would be preferable to subjugation by them."

This is the old cry of Davis. "I would rather fraternize with hyenas than Yankees." The article, indeed, has the sullen tone of all his speeches. It reveals the gloomy desperation which feels that one sole course remains to excite a final effort, and that is to tell the whole terrible truth. We read no longer that the independence of " the confederacy" is virtually accomplished. We hear no more the loud boast that one "Southron" will eat up twenty Yankees and rise hungry. We see now the alternative of " the dread event " of failure openly proclaimed, with the full consciousness of the writer that if that fails there is an end of hope.

But the assumption of the article in the Sentinel, of a united people acting under the sublime inspiration of a great purpose, is utterly exposed by the conduct of the citizens of Savannah, as well as those of the interior of Georgia. The tone of the Savannah meeting is that of men who have resisted the authority of their Government, and have learned that resistance is hopeless. They therefore lay down their arms, and submit every question to the decision of the constitutional tribunal. They know perfectly well as well as JEFFERSON DAVIS knows that the talk about Yankee masters is pure folly. The Government to whose authority they submit they know to be a Government of equal rights, in which every citizen has the same interest and the same power.

The proposal of the Richmond papers to return to colonial dependence upon England, France, or Spain is one that springs from the insanity of chagrin and bad baffled ambition. What have the citizens of Georgia, for instance, to gain by passing under British rule, even if it were possible ? If they had suffered some intolerable outrage for which there was no hope of redress if they had before them only a yoke of hopeless tyranny if any vital right of theirs were threatened it is conceivable that they should close their eyes to every thing but separation, even at the risk of utter desolation and ruin. But the people of Georgia " seceded," as they called it, in virtue of what they declared to be a constitutional right. Yet it by no means follows that, because they thought they had better try to set up for themselves rather than remain in the Union, they would therefore consider any kind of political relation with the monarchies ; of Europe preferable to the Union at home.

And so, in the case of the Savannah meeting, it has proved. The people at that meeting,

having found that they can not maintain their theory of the Union, yield to the armed force of the other theory. It is in vain to argue; there is the fact. It is in vain for the Sentinel to assume that the hate of Yankees is the over powering passion of all those who have been concerned in the rebellion ; for there is the Savannah meeting, which is just as much a fact as LEE'S army at Richmond. And there is the conduct of the Georgians during SHERMAN'S march. If they had chosen they could have destroyed him. But they did not choose. The rebel papers halloed for a general hunt, in which every man was to take part. But the cry had no more meaning or effect than the present shout that any master is better than the Yankees. Such facts show, not that the people of the Southern section of the country have become suddenly warmly patriotic, but that they are men still ; that they yield to inevitable laws, and that articles, like the one we are considering in the Sentinel, do not fairly represent the universal sentiment.

They show more. They show under what a savage despotism large numbers of American citizens in the Southern States have been lying. A fierce and unscrupulous oligarchy has imposed its will by terror upon those States, as for many years it did upon the people of the United States. But these last finally spurned the tyranny and threw it off, and the example will be followed in the part of the country where the despotism has been latterly most terrible : that in New Orleans, and Vicksburg, and Nashville, there has been so little expression of loyalty to the Government must be in large part ascribed to the fear that those places would be recovered again by the rebels. But SHERMAN'S grasp of Savannah is a sure grasp. The inhabitants feel it. They do not believe the Government will relax that hold, and therefore they speak out.

We need not be deceived. We need not count the meeting for more than it is worth. But it is enough to show that there are some people at the South who are more willing to submit to the " dread event" of an equal National Government than to " die in the last ditch" to destroy it.


THAT the people of Savannah should be starving is remarkable when we remember that, until SHERMAN'S arrival, there had been unchecked communication between the city and the fertile belt of Georgia through which the General made his agreeable journey. But if our friends theme are really suffering, there is no loyal man in the country who will not wish that they shall be relieved immediately. On the other hand, there can be no disposition to support rebels or rebel sympathizers.

Neither should there be any mawkish misunderstanding about " conciliation." The loyal citizens of this country have no disposition whatever to " conciliate" rebels in arms against the common Government. They wish only that the rebellion shall yield to the resistless and unquestionable power of that Government. But if it yields without fighting so much the better. No loyal man wishes more bloodshed. We should all gladly know that the last gun had been fired. But we do not propose to buy off any body from firing. If the rebels stop because they see resistance is hopeless they will be wise men; they will save themselves and us much suffering. But they ought to have learned that they dread fully mistake if they suppose that they are to be "conciliated" to stop.

Yet they ought also to understand that there is no vindictive feeling in the hearts of Union men. There has been very little personal feeling upon our part in this war. Probably there was never a civil contest in which one side was so passionless ; but the very want of passion has made the growing resolution more impressive. When the war began there was a very general feeling that it was to be short. There were earnest exhortations not to " exasperate" our rebellious countrymen. The early orders of some of our Generals read like pure folly in the light of greater knowledge. We all gradually came to understand how vital the struggle was. Every nerve was strained. Immense armaments by sea and land have been raised. For more than three years we have known only war. After its vast expenditures of time and money and life, the country is only the more inflexibly determined. But there is no more wish of revenge than there was in the beginning. There is bat one desire in the hearts of loyal men, and that is, a peace which shall be secure and permanent.

Let us hope then that no step will be taken which will lead armed rebels to suppose that our purpose is altered, and that we hope to attain by blarney what we can not carry by bullets. Our conduct should be such as to undeceive, on the one hand, those who have been taught that we are robbers, murderers, and brutes ; and, upon the other, those who have insisted that we were mean peddlers and cowardly scrubs, who were born to lick the boots of gentlemanly slaveholders, and who would willingly sell our cheap souls for two cents. Among the rebels there are both these classes, and both must be taught the truth.

They could have no better teacher than General SHERMAN. He is an inflexible soldier, but a perfectly reasonable man. He will be neither tyrannical nor weak. The insurgents will see typified in him the resolution of the nation. If there is any need of food for faithful citizens in his Department, he will take care that we know it and that they receive it; and all relief truly required will be most generously and heartily furnished by the loyal people of the country.


AMONG the most amusing of the late stories in the Richmond papers is that of the Dispatch, which quotes another paper's account of a conversation between General SHERMAN and " a perfectly reliable gentleman," in which the General declared his belief in the immortality of slavery, and his expectation of owning a thousand slaves after the war. The Dispatch there upon proceeds to argue that the only result of the war is to be a change of masters for the slaves, by which the slaves, for whom its liveliest sympathies are excited, are to be the saddest sufferers. The hapless negroes are to fall "into the hands of men who do not understand them ; who have no real sympathy with them." Unhappy bondmen! to be deprived of that perfect understanding of their natures which imbrutes them and steals their wages, and that real sympathy which whips their wives and sells their children !

It seems that there has been a curious misunderstanding of the war. It was not begun because " the Yankees" insisted upon keeping slavery out of the Territories; or refused to return fugitive slaves ; or passed liberty bills ; or threatened the perpetuity of the system ; but only because of such a jealousy of the profits and pleasures of slavery that the Yankees were determined to appropriate to their own use slaves and plantations together! The truth is, thinks the Dispatch, that Mr. LINCOLN, who declared that the Union could not permanently exist half slave and half free, was envious of Mr. JEFFERSON DAVIS'S happiness and percentages derived from his human cattle, and has therefore under-taken a vast crusade to compel the Union to be wholly and harmoniously slave holding.

That, of course, explains General SHERMAN'S remark. He has been signally successful in extending the area of slavery by force of arms. He has just marched through Georgia riveting chains, and, of course, branding his future property. But with characteristic moderation he only means to keep a thousand slaves for his own share. Doubtless he will prove at once that the poor fellows have fallen into the hands of one who "does not understand them," by seizing upon some of those who came with him to Savannah and insisting upon their being paid fair wages. He will now show them how a Yankee soldier keeps his word. He will teach his victims whom he has freed by his march to sigh for the picklings and paddlings and slow fires of those who have " real sympathy with them."

The Richmond Dispatch is an extremely sagacious journal. We proffer it a respectful expression of profound sympathy that the divine and humane "institution" has fallen into the sacrilegious hands of SHERMAN and his Yankees.


A VERY remarkable speech was lately delivered in the Italian Senate by General CIALDINI, an old liberal of 1831, who has long sat silent in his place, and who was bold enough to say to GARIBALDI, when in the height of his popular favor he took his seat in the Chambers in his red shirt, "Your red shirt is an insult to the Legislature."

CIALDINI'S speech was upon the question of the removal of the capital of Italy from Turin to Florence, and seems to have carried the nation as some speeches carry an audience. His point of view was strictly military, and begins with the statement that there is a powerful enemy permanently established in one of the most formidable positions. War is therefore inevitable with Austria. Meanwhile peace with France is precarious. The French tradition is hostile to the unity or Italy, and the French are masters of Mt. Cenis. The cession of Savoy and Nice make Turin no longer safe as the Italian capital. Now, the great and real defenses of Italy are the two slopes of the Apennines, and the valley of the Po must be always the battle ground. All the military resources of Italy should therefore be gathered at some point between the two seas and behind the mountains. Then, if she loses a battle in the valley, she falls back through the mountains, which have but eight passes, and there recuperating and drawing up the reserves from all the peninsula, she defends the passes and presently pours forth again into the valley. But if the capital is retained at Turin, a foreign victory in the valley secures the capital. " The valley of the Po means the enemy dwelling in your homes, with the door wide open for him to enter at his pleasure."

The speech is striking for its picturesque eloquence, and for its profound romantic feeling. (Next Page)




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