Fall of Charleston


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, March 4, 1865

You are viewing an original edition of Harper's Weekly published during the Civil War. These newspapers contain fascinating pictures and reports not available anywhere else. The images were created by eye-witnesses to the events depicted, and the stories are first edition reports of the important topics covered.

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March South Carolina

Sherman's March South Carolina

Fall of Charleston

Fall of Charleston, South Carolina

Capture of Charleston

Capture of Charleston

Savannah River

Savannah River

Map South Carolina

Map of South Carolina

Fort Anderson

Bombardment of Fort Anderson

Daniel Dickinson

Daniel Dickinson

Oil Speculation

Oil Speculation

Camp Ford

Camp Ford, Texas

Shermna's March

Sherman's March South Carolina








[MARCH 4, 1865.



I SAW, beyond the years to be,

An old man bending low

Above a book—a history Of glory and of woe;

His pale lips moved without a sound,

He neither sighed nor smiled,

And one thin arm was twined around

A sunny, silent child.

Page after page he read and turned,

And many a pause made he, As if the meaning was inurned

In some dim memory;

For though the deeds he read were wrought By help of his right hand,

They came as slowly to his thought As from the spirit land.

"My boy," he said at length, "this page Must have been writ for me :

I just remember it; an age

Ago it seems to be.

'A sergeant took the flag and ran

A rod before his men :'

My boy, I was that very man;

I see it all again.

" And here : ' The horses all were killed,

And every man but one;

The grape-shot failed; he quickly filled

A gun with peeble stone,

And fired point-blank below the smoke

Into the rebel line,

And thinned it so it turned and broke:'

My boy, that shot was mine.

"Again: ' They rushed through mist and rain Up to the clear blue sky;

The wounded hushed their groans of pain As 'twere a joy to die

So near to God !' I lay that night

Beneath the stars that stood

High over Lookout's silent height,

Reflected in my blood.

"And here, and here: I never thought My deeds would find a pen.

I only for my country fought

Along with other men:

It must have been because I took No thought of history.

The generous man who wrote this book Has put down much for me.

"The hills, my boy, are white with snow;

I feel the creeping cold; I hear another bugle blow

Than that I heard of old.

It calls me, I must go—good-by!

The book has paid for all:" And then he bowed without a sigh

And answered to the call.



WHEN GENERAL SHERMAN marched from Atlanta one of the leading rebel papers in Richmond said that even if he pushed through to the coast it was of no importance. He may succeed in traversing the State, it said, but it will be as an arrow passes through the air, without wounding it or leaving a trace of its passage.

In commenting upon this statement, which was superficially true, we ventured to suggest that the moral consequences of such a success had been entirely overlooked. Has it not proved so ? When SHERMAN arrived at Savannah and occupied it, was there not a general conviction that the rebellion had received a death-blow? He had not fought a battle upon the way. The march was an agreeable journey. The fields were full. The people did not oppose him. The climate was soft. There was nothing of war but the military array. Yet from the moment the national flag appeared over Savannah the heart of the rebellion has been broken.

The reason is obvious. If there are two wrestlers, and one suddenly ascertains that two steps behind his opponent is a yawning gulf, and the opponent learns at the same moment that it is known to his adversary, the contest is virtually over. The combatants seem to stand as erect and sturdy as ever. But the conscious mind of one has relaxed his muscles. His heart is conquered, and his hand succumbs. So the rebellion has maintained a saucy front. "The South" was one man. " The South" was eager to die in the last ditch. " The South" would gladly destroy its homes and property to paralyze the Yankee invader. "The South" might be overrun, but would never be conquered. So long as this was every where believed, it imparted a factitious strength to the whole movement. It gave it that moral force which is the most powerful of all auxiliaries.

And it is directly at that moral force that SHERMAN'S campaign strikes. His smooth and unresisted march from Atlanta to Savannah, from Savannah to Columbia, undeceives the country, Europe, and the rebels themselves. It has shown that they are not one man; that they are not eager for the last ditch ; that they will not do to thwart the Yankees what Holland did to thwart France ; that they will be overrun and then be conquered. When General LEE speaks of the universal despondency; when

JUDAH BENJAMIN says that there is very great danger ; when DAVIS and HUNTER seek frantically to fire the Southern heart with a wretched trick ; when every rebel paper confesses the universal gloom ; and one of them, speaking for all, says, frankly : " The people are not whipped but cowed. Their souls and not their hands are disarmed. Our strength is, not sapped, but our courage is oozing out at the ends of our fingers;" and when Earl RUSSELL suddenly discovers that he is not surprised that the Government of the United States is irritated by raids from Canada and rams from English ports ; we behold the moral victory of SHERMAN'S campaign : we see that his march was not an arrow harmlessly piercing the air, but a needle forcing the fluid to crystallize.

SHERMAN has exposed the mask and the brag of the rebellion. Rebel gascons will boast, but he has taught us the exact value of gasconade. "Let the foe meet resistance unto deaths !" shouts MEGRATH, the Governor of South Carolina. " SHERMAN will find a lion in his path," says the Richmond Examiner, "BEAUREGARD is in his front." "Long before Columbia falls," says the Columbia Carolinian of February 12, " we look for a battle and a victory commensurate in its consequences with the great interests now at stake, one which will prove that God is fighting by our side, although with visor down,' and that he has vouchsafed to Carolina the proud privilege of closing as she began this war in triumph." Five days after ward Columbia was occupied by SHERMAN. The lion BEAUREGARD stole away ; and the ludicrous newspaper, which asked " what reason is there to anticipate an immediate advance upon Columbia : we can recall none, to believe it is contrary to common sense," had no sooner spoken than SHERMAN arrived.

The wretched bluster of the rebellion is relentlessly ridiculed by General SHERMAN. The same Mobile Register which now says that "the people [the rebels] are not whipped but cowed, their souls but not their hands are disarmed," said four years ago : If the war lasts five years the terms of peace will be dictated at the gates of Boston. But the war will not last so long. The day is not far distant when the North will sue for peace. Until it does the policy as well as the will of the South is to give them war to their hearts' content, war to the knife and to the hilt." "White slaves," said another of these pleasing sheets, "peddling wretches, small-change knaves and vagrants, the dregs and offscourings of the populace these are the levied forces whom LINCOLN suddenly arrays as candidates for the honor of being slaughtered by gentlemen such as Mobile sent to battle yesterday. Let them come South and we will put our negroes to the dirty work of killing them. But they will not come South. Not a wretch of them will live on this side of the border longer than it will take us to reach the ground and drive them over." The Charleston Mercury at the same time exclaimed: "The miserable fanatics and charlatans at Washington are pursuing the very course of policy we most earnestly desire them to pursue." The Charleston Mercury now says; "Our paper is suspended with a view to its temporary removal to another point. This is rendered necessary by the progress of military events."

In such a wild yell of contempt for freemen this rebellion against a popular government began. By such passionate falsehoods and appeals the mind of the Southern people was in flamed. By such frenzied rhetoric they have been bewildered and stimulated since the first shot was fired. The exposure of this enormous deceit is part of the true victory of SHERMAN. He subdues the mind of the rebellious section by enlightening it. The people of the South, sedulously kept in ignorance both of the character and spirit of the people of the North by these miserable leaders, will learn first to respect Northern valor and persistence, and then to estimate and esteem Northern intelligence. They will learn that there is no vindictiveness in the Northern heart ; that it is fixed only, but fixed immutably and forever, upon Union and Liberty, and they will see that their own happiness as well as the national glory are inseparable from that aim.


THAT Charleston should fall was inevitable. That Charleston should fall without a blow was inconceivable. The South Carolinians have always boasted more of " honor" than any Americans. The Charlestonians always accounted themselves the most chivalric of Carolinians. Do the rebel chiefs who have dragged their fellow citizens into this insurrection mean to leave us without any respect for their own consistency with their own foolish code ? If there were any point of honor whatever in this wretched rebellion it was the defense of the cradle of secession and treason. If there were any possible last ditch it was the streets of Charleston. If we might expect to find any where that passionate and heroic devotion of which we have heard for long years the loud bluster, it was in the city where four years ago men and women of every age crowded balconies, housetops, and windows to watch exulting traitors firing upon the little garrison of Sumter, whose steady en-

durance typified that of the nation that placed it there.

It was a strange scene on that April day four years ago. The spectators cheered and wept for joy, and the merry bells rang, when the flag of their country fell for the first time, shot down by its own children. Did the spectators of that day remember it when at last that flag returned triumphant? Over how much bitter agony, through what seas of costly blood, across what blighted hopes and ruined lives it returned; but also over the desolation of Carolinian homes which Carolina has wrought ; over the wide waste of fortunes which Carolina has destroyed; over the treacherous doctrine of State supremacy which Carolina has hugged snake like to her breast; over the relics of slavery which Carolina has abolished. The old flag returns. Peace, union, and prosperity are the benedictions it imparts. Those who see its coming, those who have hated it as the symbol of equal rights and universal justice and popular government, those who have fostered this huge monster of rebellion until now it turns and rends them, may flout and refuse its blessings. But the people whom they have fooled ; the people whom they have kept ignorant, degraded, and prejudiced; the people of whose political rights that flag is the symbol, will gradually hail it as benighted outcasts hail the dawn.

The fall of Charleston can bring no exultation to any loyal citizen. It has been considered, indeed, the special seat of rebellion. It has always been a nursery of treason. Its " society" has been held to be peculiarly aristocratic. It has led Newport and Saratoga by the nose. Its swagger has passed for elegance ; its insolence for ease. Men who were not enough redeemed from barbarism to honor men as men, and who with the kings of wild Africa sold human beings for money, were accounted " gentlemen" in Broadway and in the shadow of Bunker Hill. But that illusion is long since dissolved; and the ignoble fall of the little Corinth of their pride merely shows how poor is their manhood who in this day and country despise men, and how contemptible is the " chivalry" that will not die for what it calls its dearest honor.

We shall hear, perhaps, from Richmond, as we heard when Vicksburg, Atlanta, and Savannah fell, that it is of no importance; that the rebellion is really stronger without Columbia and Charleston. But if in its chief cities, in its territories, and in its population, we are not to look for " the Confederacy," where shall we find it? In the gloomy will of DAVIS; in the hollow rhetoric of BENJAMIN ; in the sharp shrieks of the rebel press ; where else ?


MR. WILSON has introduced a bill into the United States Senate recommending the preference in appointment to civil office of honorably discharged soldiers and sailors who shall be found competent ; and Mr. GLEASON has made a similar proposition in the State Senate of New York. The report which accompanies Mr. WILSON'S bill states the prayer of many petitions to be that the tenure of office may be for life or good behavior.

The wisdom of the selection of a special class for preference in the public service may be fairly disputed. That any class should be authorized to feel a right to office and a consequent right to demand it may very easily prove to be a practical misfortune. It seems to us that the true principle in the matter is the recognition of the equal claim of all loyal citizens who are honest and competent. For it is hardly to be assumed that all those who have been engaged in active service are more earnestly patriotic than many and many who have not; and the tendency of such discrimination is to a kind of jealousy which is always better avoided if possible.

The feeling of respect and sympathy for the soldiers and sailors from which the proposal springs is genuine and honorable. It is, indeed, universal. The feeling of no nation toward its army and navy was ever before what ours is; and for the plain reason that they are in large part the nation itself volunteering. In every way the tender solicitude of the country has been expressed, and it will continue to be so. And this is so sure to be the case that the object of the recommendation or bill would equally be attained without it, while the advantage derived by such an expression by Congress of respect and gratitude to the army and navy is destroyed by the mischief of an expression of Congressional preference for a class. It is precisely one of those things which should be left to the sympathy and good sense of the country. They may be fully trusted. The honorably discharged soldier and sailor is as sure of substantial gratitude as the country is of his substantial service.

The resolutions reported by the Committee of the Senate do not recommend that the tenure of the office should be life or good behavior. But that is a recommendation which we hope to see made in regard to all ministerial offices, and enforced by law. The inconveniences and perils of the national elections would be in large part removed, if every department of the administration were not pulled up by the roots every four years. The utter demoralization springing from our foolish whim of rotation in office is known

to every man. The consequence of the system is that the most practical of people renounce their common sense in dealing with the most important affairs. No merchant would think of making a man his book keeper because he was a clever blacksmith, nor intrust a momentous suit at law to a good physician. If a successful trader wishes a captain for his ship, he requires knowledge, seamanship, experience. If a gentleman hires a gardener, he expects familiarity with plants, hot houses, and soils. No man would employ a coachman who did not understand how to take charge of horses and yet the same man would recommend an applicant to a public office who was as unfit for it as a man who only speaks Chinese to teach an infant school in New York.

The money that would be saved to the people; the greater ease and method and puntuality with which the public work would be done ; the dangers that would disappear from elections ; the deeper and more permanent repose which would be imparted to the national character by a simple reform like this is incalculable.

Nor was there ever a more favorable moment for beginning the change of system than this. The President has been re-elected not by a party but by the country. The ordinary party reasons for the disastrous custom do not exist. The holders of office are as good friends of the policy of the Administration as those who ore not. And if the only changes after the 4th of March should be those resulting from resignations, from dishonesty, disloyalty, or incapacity, the country would have an additional reason to honor the President and his policy.


" HASTEN on recruiting to fill up the army," telegraphs Secretary STANTON to Governor FENTON, " and the rebellion must receive the final blow in this spring's campaign."

This call, with the rebel General LEE'S official wail against despondency, should be enough to give General GRANT the hundred thousand men for whom he asks to overthrow the military force of the rebellion.

Indeed, to the least sanguine observer the situation can not seem very unpromising. The whole Southwest is paralyzed. SHERMAN is approaching North Carolina in his triumphant circumnavigation of the rebellion, and LEE can not long remain absolutely inactive in Richmond. The increase of the national army now is the sure end of the matter. Whoever joins GRANT or SHERMAN helps to secure the speedy and final victory. There must be thousands and thousands of active men who could not go for a long war, but who can go for a campaign which crowns the great work. We are not surprised to hear that enlistment was never mire active. The larger the army the more hopeless will contention with it seem. JUDAH BENJAMIN, the rebel Secretary of State, declares that all the white force of the rebel section is exhausted. There is danger, great danger, he says, unless the slaves are armed.

Why should they not be exhausted ? Their very souls are fatigued with treacherous deceit. BENJAMIN and DAVIS, and the rest, who now so desperately fan the expiring flame of ignorant exasperation against the Government, have deluded the people of the Southern Sates into a war in which they have been every where baffled. Every promise made to them has been broken. Every hope which allured them has been disappointed. Every vision of independence, of recognition, of prosperity, has faded utterly away. Like men drugged with poisoned wine who have been seduced into enlisting, and who have recovered to find themselves wretched, their families outcast, their homes destroyed, so the people of the Southern States were inflamed with falsehoods against the Government, the Union, and their Northern fellow citizens, and are now awaking to discover how wantonly they have been deceived, and how terribly they are paying the penalty.

The more fully they are released from this thralldom the happier for us all; and the more rapidly the armies are recruited the speedier will be the release. The rebel cause suffers, says the Mobile Register, from a poverty of spirit to breast reverses and of fortitude to endure trials. It confesses that all hearts are darkened with gloom. Whose fault is it that they are so? That is a question which the rebel chiefs and rebel editors may well tremble to hear asked.


THE order of General SHERMAN, setting apart the sea-islands and a strip of coast for the freedmen, was sharply criticised until the minutes of the interview between Secretary STANTON, General SHERMAN, and the leaders of the colored men were published, when it was found that the General's order was the result of the best possible counsel.

General BUTLER, in criticising SHERMAN'S order, repeats the well known remark of FREDERICK DOUGLASS, that the colored men wish merely to be let alone. Mr. DOUGLASS means, of course, that they shall be suffered to take their chance with other people. But certainly one of the best ways of letting them alone, or suffering them to mind their own affairs, is to as- (Next Page)




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