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Civil War Harper's Weekly, August 6, 1864

Welcome to our online archive of Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers. These papers give a unique view of the war, created by the people who lived it. It is full of stories and illustrations created by correspondents deployed to the front lines. They lived with the Soldiers, and experienced the war first hand.

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Peace Movement

Peace Movement

Rousseau Expedition

Rousseau Expedition

Sherman March Atlanta

Sherman's March on Atlanta

Petersburg Trenches


General J.E.B. Stuart

Stuart Death

Death of JEB Stuart

Penny Shortage

Penny Shortage

Marietta Georgia

Marietta, Georgia

Peterburg Siege

Trenches at the Siege of Petersburg

Cavalry Raid

Cavalry Raid






[AUGUST 6, 1864.



THE sun has sunk behind the hills,

The moon sails high and wintry clear ; Her pale light falls on twinkling camps

That lie around me, far and near. Near, like a village lit they seem, For, like the fire-fly's fitful gleam.

Ah ! many a thousand weary men

Are welcoming the restful night, Glad that a day of toil or watch

Withdraws its labors with its light. They but await the evening call

That shall release them from their thrall.

Hark ! far away the sound begins

One only lonely simple strain ;
Then fife and drum and bugle-call

In tumult answer back again;
As when one bird at morn awakes
A chorus in the woods and brakes.

And all is still again. The ranks

Have answered to the evening call—Come, O fair goddess Rest ! and smooth

The rough beds of the soldiers all, And Sleep, with softest fingers, close The eyes that wake to watch our foes.




THE late Peace performance at Niagara Falls was not very mysterious. It was simply a movement of the rebels to help their friends the Copperheads. It was a notification, to whom it might concern, that if the Government of the United States were handed over to the friends of the rebels, then the rebels would lay down their arms. It was a confession that the rebel leaders are sorely pinched, that they foresee disaster, and that they are perfectly willing to have us give them by our votes the victory which they despair of obtaining by their arms.

The conduct of the President was simple and proper. Informed that there were accredited agents from the rebel chiefs who wished to treat of peace, he consented that they should visit Washington. But when they confessed that they had no authority whatever, the President, in order that there should be no apparent justification, even, of the assertion that he had refused to listen to overtures of submission from the rebels, issued a notice, to whom it may concern, that the Government of the United States is always ready to hear and consider any authorized proposition from the rebel leaders involving the restoration of the Union and the abandonment of slavery. To this the discomfited and self appointed rebel agents reply in a manifesto intended to represent the President as an autocrat and a despot, etc., and expressing their own resolution never to submit to conquest, etc. It is interesting to learn from this paper that in a region where every man between fifteen and sixty-five is dragged into the ranks, and exempted soldiers are legislated back again to serve as long as they are wanted, there is no military autocrat ; and that, in a section where the most hopeless terrorism universally prevails, social institutions, established constitutions, and priceless hereditary self government are not overthrown, subverted, or bartered away. Mr. CLEMENT CLAY'S letter is but a poor specimen of our own Copperhead orations and editorials. But it is not without value, for it shows to the dullest mind the perfect sympathy in sentiment between Copperheads and rebels.

It is suggested that the Constitution does not authorize the President to make any condition such as the abandonment of slavery. Those who say so honestly are mistaken. There may be a question of policy, which we think the President has rightly resolved ; but there is no Constitutional question. The Constitution defines treason, authorizes making of war, appoints the President Commander-in-Chief, and authorizes the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in cases of rebellion and invasion. There is nothing in any of these provisions which deprives the Government of the right of exercising its common sense, or compels it to lay down its arms at the will of rebels or foreign enemies. The Government is the judge when a foreign war is over or a domestic rebellion quelled. Nor is there in the Constitution or in reason any obligation upon the Government to connive at its own destruction. The Government of the United States is bound by every consideration to secure peace; and peace is impossible while the active cause of war remains, watching for its opportunity. The cry that the President can not constitutionally require the destruction of that cause as a condition of peace is but another effort of the enemies of the country to prolong the war indefinitely. When the Government was established the cloud of slavery was as large as a man's hand. Four years ago it was a tempest, blackening the heavens and raining fire. And now we are told that it is proper to put up an umbrella to keep off the wet, but unconstitutional to erect a lightning-rod to draw the fire harmless to the ground. It is idle to

shirk the vital point of the whole war, and imagine that peace can be made with slavery. To that point the public mind has advanced. If a truce should be called and the question opened for debate, the truce would soon disappear in fresh cannon smoke. Liberty and slavery are fighting for and against this Government. Is he a wise man who affects to think that by omitting the name we can avoid the thing ?

In the following article we propose to indicate briefly why Union and Liberty are henceforth identical.


THE war proves the essential antagonism between Slavery and national peace ; but it is no less evident in the nature of things. Without freedom of speech and of the press a free popular government is impossible. The people of the United States, therefore, in their Constitution have forbidden Congress to abridge either of these rights ; and what they would not suffer their supreme legislature to do, they will not permit to any local assembly. But nothing is plainer than that if Slavery exists freedom of speech and of the press must be forbidden. In a city built over a powder magazine the scratching of a match must be a capital crime. Nothing is clearer than that if you establish the social and industrial system of South Carolina you must impose ignorance and silence by law. For the system violates human rights, and the human heart and conscience instinctively protest against it. And this, consequently, is done.

The Revised Statutes of Louisiana of 1852 enact that if any white person be convicted of saying or printing any thing with intent to diminish the respect which is commanded by law to free people of color for the whites he shall be imprisoned not less than six months or more than three years. The code of Virginia of 1849 provides that if a free person maintain by speaking or writing that owners have no right of property in slaves he shall be imprisoned or fined. Such laws are perfectly legitimate and necessary wherever Slavery exists ; but are they compatible with the Constitution of the United States, and with the necessary conditions of any free popular government whatever ? If it were made a penal offense in half a dozen States to discuss a banking system, or a school fund, or the rate of interest, or a tariff, or internal improvements, or distribution of the public money, or any question whatever which involved the common interest and rights ; or if in those States the mobbing, expulsion, and massacre of citizens who ventured to write or speak upon such subjects were encouraged by the State authorities and protected by the national Government, could peace long be possible ? If the mere discussion of any system or institution in any part of the country be too exciting to be tolerated, is not the system or institution itself too dangerous to exist? The alternative is plain. Either the system or popular government itself must be overthrown.

There has indeed been an apparent union of freedom and slavery in our political system. But it has been only apparent. Our political history for thirty years has been the struggle of' the two principles for the mastery, and when it was clear that Slavery was to cease to control it tried to destroy. The convictions of the American people have been at war for many a year, and the actual resort to arms was merely a question of time. Thus the war was inevitable. If indeed the Slave interest had not been thwarted; if it had been allowed to prevail ; if the principle of the Lemmon case had become by acquiescence the law of the land ; if every thing which it had demanded had been yielded, there would have been no war, because the contest would have been decided without arms, and Slavery would have been nationalized by the national consent. But in no other way was the contest to be escaped. Does any honorable American citizen or Christian man seriously regret that it was not avoided upon such terms?

There were gentlemen of political sympathy with the great anti-Slavery party who thought that matters might be arranged. Mr. THURLOW WEED is perhaps the most conspicuous example of those who thought that there was some plan by which the irrepressible conflict might be repressed. It is surely not necessary to suspect the honesty or the patriotism of such gentlemen whatever we must think of their sagacity. But what is there in human nature, in history, in our own national experience, in our knowledge of the character and course of the Slavery policy, which justified such an expectation ? A truce, how much less a peace, was possible only upon condition of some vital surrender of the principle and authority of the Government. Mr. WEED is unsparing in his denunciation of his former political friends for not acceding to his plan. But could it have honorably secured peace ? We have in our possession a letter written from the city of New York in January, 1861, by a gentleman who calls himself in it "an ultra BRECKINRIDGE Democrat." It is addressed to a friend in the South, who is now, and has been from the beginning of the war, a rebel. His correspondent was so entirely Southern in feeling that he expresses an intention of moving to Richmond in case of separation. In this letter are these remarkable words : "The machinery

is all in motion. New York will back the plan of Weed up, * * * * and if the demands of the Secessionists of Georgia are any criterion, even they will gain every important point." ROBERT TOOMBS was a Secessionist of Georgia. He and his friends were to gain every important point. But in that case must there not have been some vital surrender? Ought peace to have been bought for such a price ? We have no wish and no right to think that Mr. WEED acted from any but truly patriotic motives. But ought he, in his turn, to censure so sharply his old friends who were unwilling to support a plan of preserving peace by which Mr. TOOMBS and his associates were to gain every important point ?

We repeat, therefore, that Slavery has been proved practically incompatible with national peace and the American Union. Therefore it must be abolished. It is a plain question for practical men. Has any thing changed the nature of the system? Is it not just as inconsistent as it was before with the spirit and laws of a free people like ours ? And if it be tolerated hereafter under any plea of conciliation or forbearance, shall we be wiser than the foolish peasant who warmed the frozen viper to life in his bosom?


IN calling for 500,000 more men the President neither betrays doubt nor apprehension, nor need any loyal man give way to either emotion. The whole force of the rebellion is in the field and desperately fighting. Whatever may be the successful progress of our campaign, we shall manifestly require a force which shall exercise a moral as well as physical influence upon the enemy. For suppose that Richmond falls, that LEE retreats, and that SHERMAN, intrenched in Atlanta, darts flying columns after the scattered hosts of HOOD. The fall of Richmond and the occupation of Atlanta are not the end of the war. Baffled at one point and driven to another, the rebels will still stand at bay, for their leaders have educated them to believe that they are defending family and honor against foreign invasion, and those leaders themselves have no alternative but war or exile.

However signal, therefore, our advantages may be, we must always remember that a civil contest does not end like a foreign war. We must still occupy the points that we recover. We must still sustain the supremacy of the Government. If we had beaten every rebel army in the field; if SHERMAN had marched on to Savannah, and GRANT had pushed through to Raleigh; or if the forces of LEE, and HOOD, and FORREST, and KIRBY SMITH had been scattered, could we recall our armies, disband our regiments, and put our ships out of commission? Would the late rebel officers and soldiers, would the delectable dames of New Orleans and Charleston and even Baltimore become at once our loving brothers and sisters? If our military success in the rebel section were complete, does any good citizen doubt that military occupation of it must follow ?

We are preparing for ourselves a foolish and disastrous disappointment if we blind our eyes to the nature and circumstances of the war. If we followed the advice of the Copperhead doctors tomorrow, and agreed to separate or to unite upon the rebels' terms, we must still be a military nation. If we separated, we must maintain an army for the frontier defense and for the wars that would immediately ensue. If we united upon the rebel terms, they, being in possession of the Government, could retain it only by the same means. There is no possible contingency of peace or war in the future that would not require a vast army.

The President therefore proposes that we shall have that army, first to end the active military operations, and then to prevent the chance of their recurrence. It is to avoid the necessity of more fighting; to assure the victory which Providence offers to our hands if we choose to employ the means ; to secure and perpetuate peace at the earliest moment that the call is made. To delay is to postpone peace. To hesitate is not to force the Government to end the war, as the Copperhead papers are fond of saying, for it is not a war of the Government but of the people ; but to hesitate is to bring the war into our own streets and to our own homes. The Copperhead papers do not speak for the loyal people of the country, who are the immense majority. But, gratified and dazzled by the steady progress of our arms, even loyal men may sometimes forget the necessities of the case. We can not have too many men, nor have them too soon, for peace. Let every true man go, or, if that is impossible, see that somebody goes for him. Then we shall not only obtain peace but secure it.


GENERAL JOE JOHNSTON of the rebel service is a candidate for commiseration. For eighty days he has been decoying General SHERMAN further and further from his base. He has lured him on to mountain gorges and fortresses before which he has enticed him to draw up in battle array, while he befooled him into flank movements, and then the sly JOHNSTON has quietly withdrawn, leaving poor SHERMAN no

thing to do but to push farther on and occupy one town and fortification after another. Sometimes, to entrap his victim more completely, JOHNSTON has made a stand, and when SHERMAN came on, has fought him, and after going through the form of a defeat has again slipped alluringly away. With consummate sagacity every position he had fortified he abandoned when SHERMAN came up, and with profound duplicity, in every engagement but one, he suffered himself to be bloodily defeated.

There was no end to the astuteness with which he drew the hapless SHERMAN on from Chattanooga to the Chattahoochee At that point the deluded Yankee supposed he must fight. He knew that it was the most defensible rebel position, and that the fortifications were elaborate and probably impregnable. But vainly would the Yankee cope with chivalric cunning. The old fox, JOE—if he will pardon such vulgar Yankee familiarity—took care not to hinder a movement upon his right flank, which, by not preventing, he may be said to have forced upon his bamboozled opponent, and stole away to Atlanta. Meanwhile he arranged, with masterly strategy, that there should be no sufficient opposition to the Yankee occupation of Decatur, whereby his chief communication with his capital was cut off, and his investment in the city secured.

This was the crowning glory of his campaign. He had drawn SHERMAN forward over mountain and river all the way from Chattanooga. He had surrendered to him half the Empire State of the rebellion. He had shrewdly suffered his army to be incessantly beaten upon a continuous retreat. The wily soldier had finally shut himself up with that army in a city of the utmost importance to his cause, in which he had secured his absolute isolation, and at this triumphant moment, at the very time when, according to the jubilant testimony of that happy family, the rebel and Copperhead journals, JOHNSTON had SHERMAN exactly where he wanted him, he was removed ! If this is to be the fate of rebel Generals, who put Yankees into the very place where they are wanted, what is to become of those who do not ?

General HOOD, JOHNSTON'S successor, apparently wished to have SHERMAN exactly some where else, for he marched out and fought him. But SHERMAN, agreeing with JOHNSTON that he was just where he ought to be, drove HOOD back again with great slaughter. Why can not General HOOD let well enough alone ? We are all agreed, good citizens, rebels and Copperheads, that SHERMAN is just where we want him.


THE great field day has come off in the British Parliament, and the Danish policy of the Government is sustained. But a more foolish public farce was never played. The real question was whether England would fight for Denmark, and there were three parties in the Commons—the Ministers, the Tories, and the Radicals. Yet of these parties not one was in favor of going to war. The debate, therefore, took place upon a secondary question, whether in the measures taken to avoid war the Ministers had not compromised British honor and influence. This was a secondary question, because if it had been affirmed, if the vote of censure had passed, and a change of ministry had followed, there would have been no change of policy. The House was much excited. The great debaters were up, and apparently lost their temper. The British senate howled, groaned, yelled, and hissed as only a body of British legislators can ; and finally the PALMERSTON Ministry was sustained by a majority of eighteen.

In America we have no reason to regret it. It is true that neither PALMERSTON, RUSSELL, nor GLADSTONE are friends of our Government or its cause. They would gladly see us divided, and do not hesitate to express their sincere belief that we shall be. But events have taught them the wisdom of neutrality. They have stopped the rams, and are not likely to wink at SEMMES'S getting another English ship in which to recommence his piracy. The Tories, however, are less likely to have remained neutral. They have taunted the American policy of Earl RUSSELL as cowardly. Had they acceded to power they would have found themselves constrained to do something and to keep some promises, and our war would have offered the most feasible opportunity. They would not really wish war, for John Bull asks only to be let alone. But they have used strong language, as men out of power are apt to do, and the advantage they have thus given the Ministry was skillfully used by Mr. LAYARD, the Under Secretary of State.

The Tories had been bidding for the Radical votes of Mr. CORBEN and his friends. Mr. LAYARD, therefore, turning to these gentlemen, and speaking of the Tories, said. "The day that sees them transferred to this bench will see rams go out of Liverpool." The words were greeted with a tremendous uproar of rage from the Tories, who felt the mortal blow, and of delight from the party of the Ministry, who felt that the Radical vote was secured. The tumult did not silence LAYARD. "Their highest legal authority, the gentleman most likely to be Attorney-General if they come into power," he (Next Page)




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