Capture of the "Florida"


This Site:

Civil War

Civil War Overview

Civil War 1861

Civil War 1862

Civil War 1863

Civil War 1864

Civil War 1865

Civil War Battles

Confederate Generals

Union Generals

Confederate History

Robert E. Lee

Civil War Medicine

Lincoln Assassination


Site Search

Civil War Links


Civil War Art

Mexican War

Republic of Texas


Winslow Homer

Thomas Nast

Mathew Brady

Western Art

Civil War Gifts

Robert E. Lee Portrait

Civil War Harper's Weekly, December 17, 1864

We created this web site to make our collection of Harper's Weekly newspapers available online for your study and research. This site features all the Harper's Weekly published during the Civil War period. These newspapers allow an in depth study of the important events of the War.

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


George Thomas

George Thomas

Florida Capture

Capture of the Ship "Florida"

Battle of Franklin

Battle of Franklin


General John Schofield

General Sherman

General Sherman on Horseback

Hampton Roads

Fleet at Hampton Roads


Robbing Cradle

Robbing Cradle and Grave

Fort Wool

Fort Wool


Arson in the Civil War








[DECEMBER 17, 1864.



ALL through the wearying summer day, The blaze of heat, the dusty road,

Our toiling columns stretch away,

Sore burdened with the knapsack's load—And winding o'er the rugged hills

Bright waves of steel roll billowing on, Till War's stern, solemn splendor fills Dark valleys from the world withdrawn.

Day wanes apace the failing feet

Have respite from the toilsome track, Uncounted eyes in slumber sweet

Close round the welcome bivouac. The picket skirts the distant wood,

And from the far-off" summits glow Dim warnings in the solitude,

The watch-fires of a crafty foe.

To-morrow's dawn may bring the strife,

The shock of battle ; yet the sleep That chains this throbbing tide of life

Is like a spell, so wild and deep.

Dreams soothe each stormy, turbulent breast,

The happy Past returns again, Joy sits within the heart, a guest

To banish thence corroding pain.

God guard and keep them ! O'er the hills,
Far reaching to their Northern homes,

My yearling aspiration thrills,

And on the haunted night-wind comes The whisper of a porch rose-twined, A graveled walk, an open door, A lattice sweetly jessamined--A shadow falling on the floor!

Sad woman's eyes ; and bearded lips

Beside the bivouac murmur low, As if the dream had found eclipse In sympathy's deep overflow.

The drowsy clock ticks by the wall To count the listless hours away--While rings afar the thrilling call Of bugles sounding for the fray.

Sweet childish faces gather round,

Sweet infant voices fill the room,

As ever greets her ear the sound

Of childish plaint—" When will he come?" And she, with marble lip and cheek,

Turns shuddering from the shadowed floor To stifle words she may not speak

" Perhaps he comes to us no more !"



IT is December, but active war is still going on. The operations in Tennessee, SHERMAN'S march across Georgia, and the terrible tenacity of GRANT before Richmond, do not look much like winter-quarters. It is useless to speculate, and the Associated Press dispatches prophesy more than enough. That the rebels fight as fiercely as ever their repeated charges against the storm of death at Franklin shows. That the Union soldiers have the sturdiness that secures ultimate victory and the readiness that baffles the most frenzied impetuosity was proved by the same battle. General THOMAS, who saved the day at Chickamauga when even ROSECRANS gave up all for lost, is a man upon whose quality we may all confidently count. If HOOD fails in Tennessee, it will be an irreparable moral disaster to the rebellion.

Of SHERMAN there will probably be authentic news before these lines are read. We have not disguised the dangers and difficulties of his march, while we have felt very sure that nobody could measure them more accurately than the General himself. We have endeavored to be prepared for delays, and to face the chance of serious opposition to his progress, in view of the vital importance of such opposition to the rebels. But if eluding all snares and surmounting every impediment he emerges safely and timely upon the coast, SHERMAN, too, will have won a moral victory which will shake the enemy's heart. And it is by moral victories that the advantages of military successes are secured.

At each of the three chief points of interest the prospects of the national cause are clearly encouraging to the most impartial survey, while the record of the year can not furnish the least hope or comfort to the rebellion. It is still in arms, indeed; it still contests. That is all that can be said for it. On the other hand, the nation has steadily advanced in the suppression of the insurrection, and has declared that it does not mean to hesitate or delay, or spare any cost of money, time, or precious life, to maintain its existence. It is not yet finally successful it has not finished its work. But it is steadily doing it ; and Rome was not a failure because it was not built in a day.

We shall be very glad if we can contribute in any degree to promote a healthful condition of the public mind; guarding it equally against mad ecstasies and foolish depressions. The cause is not gained or lost by a battle nor by a campaign. The noblest cause defended by arms, and committed to to a chances of war, can not have a campaign of unvarying success ; and a nation which can not endure occasional defeat

can not achieve permanent victory. We were children when the war began ; we ought to be men now. There is every reason to anticipate that this year will end in glory for the country. Let us be calm, and patient, and grateful; neither intoxicated with the success we look for, nor in despair with the reverse that is always possible.


CONGRESS assembles under pleasant auspices. It is not in the dark. It can have no doubt. It has heard from the people. It knows what the country wishes and expects. It has had the plainest declaration that the Government is to be maintained by force of arms, and that there is to he no parley with rebels, except to receive their submission to the Constitution and the laws.

We do not anticipate any remarkable change the conduct of those in the Opposition who, during the last session, had no other policy than impeding the Administration and paralyzing the efforts of the country to save itself. Gentlemen whose votes cheer the rebel Congress will still claim that they maintain a " legitimate opposition" a la CHARLES JAMES FOX. "Democrats" who profess the profoundest respect for the popular will, will vote as if the election had gone exactly the other way. Representatives who are " as much opposed to Slavery as any body" will vote against allowing a constitutional chance of settling the question.

Fortunately these gentlemen are few The responsible majority of the present Congress, and a still larger one of the next, come fresh from the people, freshly inspired by the high and noble national impulse which has recorded it self in the late election. The very universality of the patriotic feeling will, we believe, chasten and modify crudeness of legislation, because it is an assurance of ripeness and sagacity in the popular mind which does not require to be excited and spurred by Congressional action.

We have a right to expect great calmness, decision, and precision in the legislation of this winter.


WE have forborne any remarks upon the seizure of the Florida, because the facts have been very inadequately stated, and because we were very sure that the same skill which so wisely adjusted the Trent case would be fully competent to deal with this. Indeed there has been no event during the war which more clearly proved the ability of the Secretary of State and the good sense of the country than the issue of the Trent difficulty. It would be hard to find in any history so ready a national acquiescence in a conclusion so adverse to the inflamed national passion and expectation as that case furnished. The general doubt upon all points of international law, or, more correctly speaking, agreement, was increased in the case of the Trent by the excited condition of the public mind, still freshly chafing with indignation at the British prompt concession of belligerent rights to the rebels. But the moment the fine American tradition was cited and explained by Senator SUMNER and Secretary SEWARD, every man saw that the national honor demanded the surrender of the two rebel emissaries, and they were promptly surrendered without a murmur, and with the intelligent consent of the country,

The conduct of Lord PALMERSTON the representative of the hostile British aristocracy, and the tone of the English hostile press, will not be forgotten ; while the manly stand of JOHN BRIGHT and the English press friendly to our cause will be always gratefully remembered. For a fortnight Lord PALMERSTON carried in his pocket an explanation of the readiness of the United States Government to do whatever honor and precedent required, and for a fortnight he and his friends did what they could to secure success to the rebellion by plunging the United States and Great Britain into war. Lord PALMERSTON, his press, and his party were signally foiled by the fidelity of the United States to their own principles, even when that fidelity required a severe sacrifice of feeling.

In the present case, the seizure of the Florida in a neutral port is one of those acts of which British naval history is full. The English hostile press breaks out into a cry of shame and rage and revenge upon the report of an incident which has a myriad British precedents, A most competent and intelligent authority furnishes to the Boston Daily Advertiser an elaborate and careful paper recounting the various seizures of ships made at various times in the neutral ports of various nations by Britannia, ruler of the waves. The paper is worthy of enduring form and preservation, as a commentary upon that swaggering, blatant, bullying tone of the English press, and too often of British statesmen, which has earned for Great Britain the same kind of hearty hate which was felt for the United States while our Government was administered in the blustering and domineering spirit of Slavery. Upon one occasion Lord CHATHAM instructed the British Minister to apologize to the Portuguese Government for a gross offense of the kind we are considering, but especially

'charged him that under no circumstances should he consent to restitution of the prize.

The obstreperous scolding of English hostile journals we have happily learned to despise; and certainly in the present instance no intelligent American can hear it without a smile of amused contempt. Unfortunately the sinking of the Florida has prevented the possibility of her restitution to Brazil, should that course have appeared to be required by our own precedent and by international understanding. It is greatly to be deplored that, since she was not destroyed in the act of seizure, she had not remained afloat until the question could be decided. If it shall now appear that the rights of a neutral had been violated by the Florida herself, the case, like that of the General Armstrong, will be one for friendly reference. If it shall be preyed that her seizure was a plain violation of a neutral port we have no doubt that every faithful American citizen expects that the most ample and honorable apology will be made. One newspaper indeed thinks that such a course would be a sore blow to the national honor! But that is not surprising in a paper which thinks that the duty of a citizen to his country and Government ends with an election.

What all honest men desire is that justice shall be done to the friendly State of Brazil, and honest men do not feel their honor wounded by frankly apologizing when they see that they are in the wrong.


THE paper upon precedents of British offenses against neutrals, of which we have spoken in what we say of the Florida, is attributed, probably justly, to Senator SUMNER. It has elicited a letter from Professor GOLDWIN SMITH, which was published in the Philadelphia North American. The reply is admirable for its temper, and for its assertion of a higher international morality than usually appears in such discussions,

Grant, says Professor SMITH, that what you say is true. Yet the offenses were mostly committed when you were parts of the British empire, and when her glory and shame were yours. And grant again that England has done such things are they not still unworthy—and do you plead the shortcomings of England sixty, a hundred, or three hundred years ago as precedents or extenuations of your own unworthy acts today? But her later assertions and conduct show that England has changed her feeling, and that such acts would not now be justified. And even if that were not so, is it a lofty course, in the present circumstances, to inflame ill feeling between two countries because the violent in one loudly censure what the calmest and wisest in the other do not approve ?

These questions come properly and forcibly from an Englishman who is in the fullest sympathy with us, and who feels how necessary to civilization is peace between America end England. Yet he, upon his side, will certainly understand that it is not very agreeable for a nation, struggling as we are, to be savagely attacked because of an unauthorized act of a single officer in a foreign port, before the facts are known, and before the Government or public opinion have had a chance to express themselves ; and that it is especially disagreeable, coming from a maritime nation whose history is full of exactly such acts, and which bursts into full cry against us, not because of its regard for neutral rights, but from its great jealousy of our power and prosperity.

The motive of Professor SMITH'S letter, deprecation of fanning the hostile flame between England and the United States, will command the sympathetic approval of every sagacious and patriotic American and he has earned the right to say what he does, because he has never hesitated to denounce in the boldest and most forcible strain the conduct of his own country in suffering herself to become the base of rebel piracies upon our commerce. His hope is, as the hope of all true men must be, that the better America and the better England will not allow themselves to be dragged into the mire of mere bravado and reciprocal insult,


IT will be shameful if the public attention now directed to the danger and discomfort of

railway travel in this country does not lead to greater safety and convenience. There is at the

present moment nothing more uncertain than a railway train. There is nothing regular upon the roads but irregularity. No traveler is now so wild as to expect to make connections. Every traveler it grateful if he arrives two or three hours behind time with a whole skin. Every line is overcrowded with passengers and freight. The trains toil along from point to point, and patience never had so universal an opportunity for doing her perfect work. One hapless gentleman reports that he recently waited two hours at Utica upon the Central Road, reached New York two hours behind time upon the Hudson Road, and Boston four hours late upon the Massachusetts Western Road. He declares that he now makes his arrangements to arrive a day late, and so insures himself against disappointment

The delays would be more tolerable if comfort could be secured. But money loses its power when you take a train. Money will buy you comfort and seclusion every where else but in the cars. You may dine for fifty cents or five dollars at any restaurant you may choose your hotel and your rooms in it, and be alone or in the crowd; but in the train you have no choice. Your money is bewitched and paralyzed. You must pay six dollars to go to Boston, or three dollars to Albany or Philadelphia ; but you must sit cheek by jowl with drunkards and rowdies, and no amount of money that you would gladly pay can protect you. There are plenty of decent people with whom you would willingly sit, but you can not do it. You must inhale the fumes of whisky, you must hear the ribaldry of profanity and indecency, and thank God that your legs and neck are not broken by the gracious Railroad Company.

A gentleman was lately traveling at night upon the New York Central Road with his wife, who was an invalid. A huge, hulking fellow came in and sat down by the stove and began to smoke a pipe. The smell and smoke were very unpleasant to the lady, and the gentleman, going to the smoker, mildly told him that smoking was not allowed in the car. The reply was a whiff. After a little time the gentleman asked the smoker if he would be kind enough to lay aside his pipe, as it made the lady sick. The reply was a surly grunt of refusal. Thereupon the gentleman knocked the pipe out of the smoker's mouth ; and there would have been a serious row except for the timely entry of the conductor and the remonstrance of other passengers. The incident is not the exception, it is almost the rule. When the Central Railroad asks the Legislature this winter for the power to raise the rate of fare, why should not the Legislature require the Company to put upon every train cars of different prices, that those who wish decency in travel, and who do not wish to sit with drunkards and blackguards, can be accommodated? At a hotel, if people prefer the company of the bar room, they go there and sit; but what would be thought of a hotel which compelled every body to sit in the bar room. ?

There are smoking cars upon all the trains, says some railroad director. Very well, if people choose to smoke in the other cars at night, and to fight if you complain, it may he possible to carry the point after a struggle that the offender shall go into the smoking car, but why not prevent the chance ? A man may come into your room at a hotel with his pipe, but the chances are against it. The obvious course is to do what can be easily done to secure comfort. Why not have a drunken car instead of condemning all the passengers to the society of a sot? Another gentleman upon the Erie Rail way describes a fellow marching up and down the car, flourishing his whisky bottle and stumping every body who did not vote for M'CLELLAN to step forth and be chastised, The conductor did not even attempt to remove him.

There is no reason whatever why every rail. road company should not be compelled to protect passengers from such discomfort. In England, and upon the continent of Europe, there are three classes of cars, and the traveler is infinitely more comfortable, than upon our higgledy-piggledy roads. The truth is, that our whole system of railroad travel, in point of safety and comfort, is entirely behind the age.


MANY of the daily papers justly censure the absurd prophecies of the Associated Press that. " General is fully prepared for any force that may be brought against him," or the special dispatch which asserts that "a gentleman has just arrived who, declares that the fate of HOOD'S army is sealed if he follows up Genera! THOMAS," all of which remarks were tolerable enough before the battle of Bull Run, three years ago last July, but have been simply silly ever since.

But while the papers justly censure such folly, why did they print it? If they omitted it they would gain both the space occupied by the silly dispatch and by their, own indignant comments upon it, while its publication merely depresses the public mind, which has learned to find in these foolish boasts of the Associated Press dispatches only the most frightened whistling to keep up courage, Henceforth let every respectable newspaper omit them, and we shall all be gainers.


" THE Journal and Letters of Samuel Curwen," edited by G. A. WARD (LITTLE & BROWN), is a new edition of a work published some years since. Mr. CURWEN was a Colonial Tory who left Salem in Massachusetts, where he was an Admiralty Judge, after the battle of Lexington, and went to Philadelphia; but finding that patriotism was inconveniently hot in that city, after being singed a little, he embarked for England, and remained there until after the close of the war. He was sixty years old when be left his country, and an old man when he returned. His Journal is the best account of the foreign residence of the Tory refugees during the Revolution, and is full of interesting details of the English life and men of that time. Mr. CURWEN (Next Page)




Site Copyright 2003-2018 Son of the South.  For Questions or comments about this collection, contact

Privacy Policy

Are you Scared and Confused? Read My Snake Story, a story of hope and encouragement, to help you face your fears.