Fleet at Hampton Roads


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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.



WE give on our first page this week a portrait of General GEORGE H. THOMAS, who now takes the place of General SHERMAN in the Western campaign. General THOMAS was born in Southampton County, Virginia. in July, 1816. He graduated at West Point in 1840. In the Regular army THOMAS, in 1861, held the position once occupied by General LEE, that of Colonel of the Fifth cavalry ; but in 1863 he was promoted to a Brigadier-Generalship. After the battle of Mill Spring he commanded a corps in BUELL'S army. He retained command of this corps under ROSECRANS. At the battle of Chicamauga his skill and the courage of his command saved the day. In SHERMAN'S Georgia campaign General THOMAS commanded the army of the Cumberland—the largest of the three grand divisions under SHERMAN. General THOMAS'S career from the victory of Mill Spring down to the present time has been brilliant and successful, and we are sure that his conduct of the campaign against HOOD will confirm SHERMAN'S judgment in leaving to his hands the entire Western campaign.


THE sketch on page 801 shows the appearance of one of the torpedo rafts which the rebels have lodged in Mobile Bay to impede the progress of our fleet toward the city. A few vessels of the fleet are visible in the back ground, while in front the sailors are engaged in the delicate and dangerous operation of removing the torpedoes from the raft. An unusually high sea does not by any means facilitate this process; the sailor straddling she torpedo and plying the wrench is alternately dipped under the mounting wave and then again made visible for a brief interval to his anxious comrades, to whom as to himself a slight slip of the hand or a brush of the wrench against the cap of the torpedo would certainly be the occasion of utter destruction. Each of the torpedoes represented weighed 440 pounds empty.


ON page 805 we give an illustration representing the Federal fleet gathered at Hampton Roads. Fortress Monroe has since the beginning of the war been the grand place of rendezvous for our fleet, and the staring point of all the principal naval expeditions. Here the Burnside and Port Royal expeditions were assembled before their departure. The fleet now gathered at this point is of especial interest in view of the naval operations which, during the next few months, will play an important part in the war. This fleet comprises a large number of vessels, each of whom has a history of her own. Some of them, like the Mohican and Susquehanna, were at the capture of Port Royal ; the Wabash was flag-ship on that occasion. There is the Powhatan, so long engaged in the exciting chase after the Sumter; the Malvern, who caught the Chesapeake ; the Colorado, who destroyed the privateer Judah; the Minnesota, who helped fight the Merrimac ; the New Ironsides, flag ship in the grand naval attack on Fort Sumter in April, 1863, and who came near being destroyed by a torpedo a few months afterward ; and the old ship

Brooklyn, who gained for herself such distinction at the capture of New Orleans and in Mobile Bay last August.

We also give on the same page a sketch of Fort Wool, named after the old and able General who so long commanded the post of Fortress Monroe.


RECKLESS DRIVING. —A cabman has lately driven his own mother out of her mind.


A humorous and beautiful young lady being asked by his mamma where she was going, said she was going to

   practice archery with an Irish beau and arrah !

PATRON OF THE SCAFFOLD.—There was a laird in the north of Scotland, who died some thirty or forty years ago, who had a great penchant for attending execution, and

his local standing would appear to have made his presence at such exhibitions a sin gud non. On one occasion an

unfortunate wretch was about to be "turned off:" the

rope was adjusted, and every thing was ready. The hangman, however, stood waiting with apparent anxiety, evidently for an addition to the spectators. Being asked why he did not proceed with the business, he replied, with

a look of surprise at his questioner, "The laird is nae come yet!"

NEW WAY OF LEARNING LANGUAGES—A well known optician says that, when at sea you can, with his glass

at a point most remote from the shore, easily make out the tongue of any, foreign land.

An anxious mother in Scotland, taking leave of her son on his departure for England, gave him this advice: "My

dear Sandy, my sin bairn, gang south, and get all the siller ye can from the southerns—tak' every thing ye can.

But the English are a brave, boxin' people, an' tak' care o'

them, Sandy. Never fight a bald man, for ye canna catch him by the hair."

Jane, what letter in the alphabet do yon like best !" "Well, I don't like to say, Mr. Snobbs." "Pooh, nonsence, say right out. Which do you like the best?" " Well," dropping her eyes, "I like U best."

Your Troubadour's toes are beginning to freeze,

Your Troubadour's nose is he beinning to sneeze,
A    violent cold does his singing mar,

As he chants to the tune of a light catarrh.

AN OLD BACHELOR'S DEFINITION OF LOVE.—A little sighing, a little crying, a little dying. and a good deal of lying.

Mr. Lower, in his excellent work on "English Sur names," has a story of a man who fell into a pit some where in Wales, and whose cries for assistance were heard

by a passing stranger. " Who are you?" inquired the traveler. " Jenken ap Griffith ap Robin up William ap Rees ap Evan," was the reply. " Why, what a lazy set you must be, to lie rolling in that hole, half a dozen of you! Why, in the name of common sence, don't you help one another out?" was the answer of the disgusted traveler as he rode away.

Why does the new moon remind one of a giddy girl?-Because she's too young to show much reflection.


WIFE. " Whenever I want a nice snug day, all to my-self, I tell George my mother is coming, and then I see nothing of him till one in the morning."

There is a story told of an imperial highness waltzing thrice on the same evening with an English lady at the Court of Berlin. The lady, flattered by his attention, frankly expressed her gratification at the compliment. "I did not intend it as a compliment," was the answer. " Then," said the lady, " your highness must be very fond of dancing." "I detest dancing," was the unsatisfactory response. " What, then, may I ask, can be your imperial highness's motive for dancing?" "Madam," was the exalted personage's curt reply, "I dance to perspire."

Wanted, for a museum of arms and trophies, Falstaff 's ancient Pistol.

It is a part of the Boston creed that one who is born in that city does not need to be born again.

A STERN REALITS—The Man at the Wheel.

The Rev. J. P. Gardiner, a missionary in Rupert's Land, gives the following word of eighteen syllables as an illustration of the peculiarities of the Indian language : Keguwecheahpetowkesiunemechesoom etinawan" — " I will dine with you."


Why is a hair-cutter like a sheep?—Because he is a bah-bah (barber).

QUERY FOR PROFESSOR Owes.--Is Neptune a King-fisher?          

PROOF POSITIVE.—Old John —was a hypochondriac, and one of his chimeras was that he was a glass vessel. One day, as he was taking a seat, his wife, who was behind him, suddenly jerked his chair away, and he fell heavily to the floor. "There!" cried she, triumphantly, "that goes to prove what I always said; you are no more made of glass than I am, else you would have been broken into a thousand pieces I"

An Irishman was summoned for refusing to pay a doctor's bill, when he was asked why he refused to pay. " What for should I pay?" said Paddy; "shure he didn't give me any thing but some emitics, and the niver a one could I keep in my stomich at all, at all."

Judge Rooke in going the western circuit had a great stone thrown at his head; but from the circumstance of his stooping very much, it passed over him. " You Fee," said he, "had I been an upright judge I might have been


'" Father," said a little fellow, apparently reflecting intently on something, "I sha'n't send you any of my wedding cake when I get married." "Why not, my son?" was the fond father's inquiry. "Because," said the young hopeful, " you didn't send me any of yours."

If a man is given to liquor, let not liquor be given to him.

Dr. Doliclus was a stiff Tory and always drove splendid cattle. One day one of his toughest political opponent., praising his team, asked the doctor not to think the less of his praise of the horses because he might think little of his opinion in regard to politics. "Most certainly not," replied the doctor, " I always thought that you knew much more about horses than about politics."

"Ned, who is the girl I saw you walking with ?"


Hogg." "Hogg—Hogg ! well, she's to be pitied for having such a name." "So I think," rejoined Ned; "I pitied her so much that I offered her mine, and she's going to take it."

AN ENGLISH BULL.—At a shop window in the Strand there lately appeared the following notice: "Wanted—two apprentices, who will be treated as one of the family."

"Fine day for the race," said a wag to a sporting friend one bright morning lately-. "What race?" anxiously inquired the friend. " Why, the human race, to be sure," was the reply.


WE ran away together, Edward and I ; and perhaps we were wrong to do it, but we loved each other very, very dearly, and it was not like leaving a dear, good papa and mamma, for I only had an uncle, who had never been very kind to me since he became my guardian. Edward, to be sure, had a father ; and, as he said, it seemed very hard that, because his father and my uncle were not friends, we were to be separated forever. My boy—I had a foolish habit of calling him my boy that I am not sure I shall ever he able to lid myself of—my boy had been brought up to expect a large fortune, and taught no profession; while every one said that I should be my uncle's heiress, and it seemed very likely, for there was no one else who had the slightest claim of kindred upon him.

But. when Uncle George ordered Edward from the house he told me that if I ever spoke to him again I need never expect a shilling from him; and it seems that Edward's father said much the same thing when my boy confessed his love for me.

"Do we care for money ?" he said. "Shall you and I be separated for the love of gold? I have youth and strength, and I can win my own way to fortune with you beside me."

For my part, to be with him was enough, and so I told him.

One bright moonlight night he met me at the garden gate, and in an hour the wedding-ring was on my finger, and I had promised to love, honor, and obey my darling while I lived.

Edward was not quite penniless. He had a few hundreds loft him by his mother ; and our plan was this : to travel to the Far West, where lands are cheap, and buy a farm there, and begin a wild, happy country life, poor at first, but striving for a compotence in old age. It seemed a pleasant plan, al d I think it would have been successful. The very day after we were married we started for the West, I remember my darling as the stepped into the cars, so tall and straight and active. I saw girls steal glances at him, and read in the eyes of other me r that they knew how strong and beautiful he was ; and I was very proud of him sitting beside me, 6c watchful of my comfort, so fond and proud of me.

The cars whirled on behind the smoking engine People chatted, and ate lunches, and took naps, and I am sure that there was no thought of fear in tilt heart of any one there. A hundred times before many of them had been rattled and screamed away across the country, and often over even that very bridge which we approached so rapidly. Had there been such it thing as anxiety in any countenance ]

might believe in warnings and presentiments, but there was not. Of that I am quite sure, and al-ways shall be.

For my part my mind had wandered to our West-ern farm to be, and with his arm about my waist, I sat quietly looking at the green fields and the blue water and the purple mountain-tops so far away, when a crash, a rumbling sound, a chorus of wild screams and cries, a horrible fall, and all was darkness and chaos. When I came to myself the blood was streaming from my temples, and I lay in the midst of broken fragments of wood and iron. My first thought was of Edward. Oh, my darling ! I looked to the right and to the left. I could distinguish no one—only prostrate and groaning forms, and others wildly searching amidst the rubbish, or bearing those they found to an open spot on the grass beyond. A wild hope seized me. Perhaps he was looking for me, unharmed and well himself.

I called aloud, " Edward, Edward!" and a faint moan answered me. Giddy though 1 was, I arose and groped about, listening and peering, and soon-- oh, great Heavens! I never shall forget that moment—soon, looking down over a barricade of joists and bars, I saw his face at the bottom, beyond my reach. I screamed his name again, and he answered, faintly,

"Thank God, you are safe !"

Then I said, "Are you hurt much, Edward?"

"I think so. My head is not, and I can move my arms, but there is an awful —weight upon me. For God's sake, beg them to help me ! There is a poor woman here also—dead, I think. I can bear it you are safe, only tell them to come soon."

Then I think be fainted, and the next thing I knew I had clutched a stout old man by the arm, and was not praying but commanding him to take my husband out of that awful place. He soothed me. They were at work already; but, oh ! what a long time it took to clear away the heaped-up mass.

Body after body was spread on the grass before they took him up and carried him on a rude litter to the spot where the surgeons were busy.

He was alive still. I thanked God for that. And I tried to be calm and help them. All the weight of those beams and boards had fallen on his lower limbs, but otherwise he was not greatly injured. They gave me faint hopes at first. After a while they told me that he might live, soon that lie would. And so, at the little wayside tavern, I nursed him back to life, and made up my mind to the worst. So that when the old surgeon—a good, fatherly man took me into the garden one day, and, bidding me be calm, told me that my boy would never be quite strong again, and that he must be a cripple for life, I could listen with a few tears, and tell him that I only heard what I had guessed before.

But I prayed hint to tell Edward, and not to leave that task to me.

Well, we knew our fate, and we met in one long, tearful embrace. And he said, "My dearest, can you love a poor disfigured cripple, who would never have sought to win you had he known he should come to this?"

And 1 answered, "Oh, Edward, better than I ever did the strong man of whose good looks I used to be so proud !"

And he trusted me, and went to sleep with his poor head upon my arm; and 1 sat there all night, praying God to comfort him and bless us both.

By-and-by he got about on crutches. It was a glad and a sad day to both of us. And the color re-turned to his cheek, and the damp hair began to curl dark and crisp again about his head. And at last the old rich tones came into the sweet voice. Ile was as well as he would ever be. Of course all idea of that wild life on a Western farm was over. 1 And our money was almost gone. Neither of its had any hope of forgiveness, and we knew, young as we were, that we had a hard struggle before us.

Edward could think of but one thing. He had learned book-keeping at school, and he was fond of writing—perhaps by those means he could earn a living. And I, in my men heart, resolved that my needle should not lie idle, though knowing how hard it would seem to my boy that his wife should work for money. 1 said nothing to him about it. We went back to New York—I was glad enough when the journey was over, for every sound startled me, and poor Edward suffered much pain— and at last engaged two rooms on a third floor, furnished them very plainly, and went to house-keeping. An old acquaintance had recommended Ed-ward to a certain Mr. Baxter, and so we were able to live.

What I could do to make our little place a home I did with all my heart, and I found some fine work and worked at it before Edward came home, hiding it when I heard the first click of his crutches on the stairs. I had his slippers ready and his dressing-gown. And I used to study a little cookery-book I had to contrive cheap luxuries for our table. One of the greatest trials that our poverty brought me was the living up those two long flights of stairs, which Ile must toil over night and morning.

Sundays we went to church together in the morning, and in the afternoon I read to him or he to me, or we talked quite gayly sometimes, for real love will make people happy in spite of any thing.

One day we read in our newspaper the marriage of Edward's father to a young lady whom he knew well. And after that what little dreams I had of ultimate reconciliation between the two faded from my mind entirely.

It was a month from that time when—'twas on a quiet Sunday eve, and we had been reading "Prue and I, " that sweetest book top—married lovers in all the language—strange steps came up the stair, and, following them, a rap at the door. I lifted my head front my dear boy's shoulder and went to open it. And there stood without a bent old man in a ragged coat, leaning on his cane and peering at me with his great blue eyes—eyes that were very bright for so feeble an old creature.

"Does Mr. Edward Millbank live here?" he asked. " , Speak loud, for I'm very deaf."

And when I said and nodded "Yes," he came in. He was a very singular old man—so wrapped about the throat in dingy shawls, so bent,, and so white

haired. My dear boy arose and stood with one hand on my shoulder, looking at him.

"You don't remember me, Edward ?" said the old man.

"No," replied my dear, "and yet---"

"What's that he says ?" asked the old man. "No? Ah, I didn't expect it. You've forgotten the rides on old Ajax, and the fishing in the little brook, and the young man who carried you on his shoulder so often as-hen you were a baby. You've forgotten your mother's brother Luther."

"Uncle Luther !" cried my dearest boy, and his eyes glistened. He stretched out his hands, and the old man came forward and shook them. Then he said,

" Sit down, nephew, sit down. I heard of that railroad accident, but I didn't know—" There ha stopped with a glance at the crutches, and went on in that loud key peculiar to the extremely deaf. "You all thought I was making my fortune abroad, didn't you? Well, I've made it, and spent it, or lost it, or got rid of it somehow, you know. You don't need to be told that when you look at this coat. And I came home a week ago, remembering that I had a rich relation—your father, Ned—and went to him to how he would welcome me, He had a fine young wife like a doll-baby ; and for welcome he told me there was a poor-house for vagabonds like me. I asked for my nephew, and was told that he'd been kicked out of doors for marrying to his liking. So I came here—got your direction from your employer—knew you were poor, but didn't know—" Again that glance at the crutches —that pause—and something glittering on his lashes.

Despite his oddity, and his shabby clothes, and deafness, I began to like old Uncle Luther.

"You have altered, Uncle," said my dear, boy. "I should not have expected such a change in you."

"Have I any change, did you say?" queried the old man, with his hand at his ear. " Oh dear, no —not a dime ! That's partly why I came here. Can you let me creep in here, or haven't you enough for yourselves?"

There seemed very little use in trying to speak to him, but Edward held out his hand and shook that of the old man again.

That seemed to answer. . Uncle Luther nodded, took off his dilapidated hat, and drew closer to the little stove. We had our frugal tea together, and at bedtime I contrived a sleeping-place for the old man, and did the best I could to make him welcome. But when his heavy breathing told that he slumbered I crept close to Edward and whispered,

"My dear boy, can you afford this—you, who toil so for so little ?"

But he answered: "Olive, my Uncle Luther was my mother's dearest brother; and while I have a home it should shelter him, even if he had not been so kind to me when I remember him a hale and handsome man."

And I kissed him and said no more.

I never knew until afterward how he denied him-self every little comfort, and walked home all that weary distance to save a miserable fivepence, my poor, dear boy ! I worked harder too, and Uncle Luther sat with me through the long day, seeming to grow deafer every hour. He could not hear a word we said to each other, and was no restraint on our conversation.

Winter was deepening,, and with it came new expenses. Another pound of beef or loaf of bread told on our slender purse; and there were lights and coal. Sometimes my dear boy quite broke down, and reproached himself with having brought me to such things, blighting my life, he said---as though having him I had not my greatest treasure. Those long winter evenings put it into my dear boy's head to do some copying for a young lawyer, the son of his employer; and this was the I way Warren Baxter first began to come to see us. He was friendly to Edward and quite gallant to me, though 1 fancied I saw in him a certain scorn of our humble home and its appointments. I never liked him; but I said to myself, "He is Edward's friend, and I am prejudiced and foolish," and tried to banish my aversion.

At last Mr. Baxter began to drop in in the day-time, bringing papers to copy, because he should be engaged in the evening. And I first noticed that he strove to make an impression on me; that his glances were not quite such as I might return; that his compliments went beyond the hounds of fashionable politeness. But what could I do? He was so necessary to Edward that it would be no light matter to offend him.

One day, a short midwinter day, with a leaden sky which threatened rain, and a cold mist in the I air, I sat close by the window at work, when Warren Baxter came in. He had a roll of manuscript in his hand, and was more than usually brisk and merry.

He pulled off his handsome fur gloves, warmed his fingers at the fire, and roared to Uncle Luther bending over the stove,

" Cold day, Sir, cold day!"

"Don't hear what you say," said the old man, snappishly. " Deaf as a post in this weather al-ways."

"Very cold," said Mr. Baxter.

" Bad coals ! I should think they were indeed," said the old man. " Half cinders, and twenty cents a pail at that."

"You're no interruption to any conversation any how," muttered Warren Baxter, with the most polite smile. Then drawing a chair close to me he began to trifle with my work.

"What beautiful stitching!" he said. "Only such lingers as yours could accomplish it. But you work too hard. I'm afraid you'll spoil your eyes; and that would never do."

" My eyes are strong," I answered, coldly.

"The strong and beautiful are found together sometimes then," said Mr. Baxter.

I made no answer.

"You have the loveliest eyes in the world," said Mr. Baxter. " You must know it if you look in the glass. It seems a pity that— Heigh-ho 1"




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