William Russell


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, June 22, 1861

This Civil War newspaper features a cover illustration and story on William Russell, a war correspondent for the London Times. The paper also Covers Senator Douglas's Funeral, and has various scenes from the war.

(Scroll Down to See the entire page, Newspaper Thumbnails will take you to the page of interest)


William Russell

William Russell

Affairs in England

Affairs in England

Wheeling Convention

The Wheeling Convention

Senator Douglas

Senator Douglas Funeral

Cairo, Illinois

Cairo, Illinois



Indianapolis, Indiana

Indianapolis Indiana

Fort Monroe

Fort Monroe


Pensacola, Florida

Acquia Creek

Battle of Acquia Creek

Scenes from Alexandria and Washington

The Sumter

Rebel Ship Sumter


Jefferson Davis Cartoons





VOL. V.—No. 234.]





Entered according to Act of Congress, in the Year 1861, by Harper & Brothers, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.



WHILE vouching for the fidelity of the annexed likeness, we regret to be unable to furnish our readers with more than a rough outline of this distinguished gentleman's career. And yet, while it is always instructive to trace the origin of an author, and his path from the school-house to distinction, we think it may be said of Dr. Russell that, as the motions of the satellite are regulated and computed by the orbit of the planet, so may his track be said to have been marked by the campaigns of which his pen has so graphically, and almost epically, chronicled the victories and the reverses.

Dr. Russell was born,

we believe, In 1822, and now lacks a year of being forty. From Trinity College, Dublin, he was transferred before graduation to Cambridge University, where he obtained his degree, and whence he betook himself to the "Inns of Court," where in due time he exchanged the toga virilis for the wig and gown of a barrister-at-law: Human experience, or human prejudice, is apt to measure legal qualifications by the silver hair and the wrinkles of age rather than by the freshness and enthusiasm of youth ; and we may presume that to prevent "the horse from starving while the grass was growing," the briefless barrister formed his first connection with Printing-house Square, where he seems to have won his first laurels as " Our Special Correspondent" in a mission to Ireland, for the purpose of verifying some of the Thunderer's strictures upon Mr. O'Connell's statements of the condition of things in his neighborhood. We next find him reporter of the proceedings before the Parliamentary Railway Committees in the apogee of King Hudson's reign—a delicate and ungrateful office for truth and impartiality, which constrained him to perform it without any of those lateral benefits which, not improperly, perhaps, enriched the pockets of many of his confreres. The following year he abandoned the arena of contending railroad routes for the more congenial one of the Court of Queen's Bench, always with a view to his ultimate absorption by the profession he had embraced with zeal and entered not without sacrifices.

After acquitting himself admirably of the duties of law reporter the toga was sacrificed to arms, and he was dispatched to the scene of the Schleswig - Holstein hostilities, where, in his description of the battle of Itzfeldt, he evinced for the first time his photographic power of picturing the movements of armies and the phases of battle. On his return from Holstein we believe that he went on to the Times as one of its regular staff of leader writers, and remained there until detailed to the Crimea, whither he accompanied, via Malta and Gallipoli, Major-General Brown's division, the foremost of the Allied forces in the march to Sebastopol.

Dr. Russell remained in the Crimea until the end of the war, sharing all the hardships and many of the perils of the soldiery. It was not required of the "Times Correspondent" that he should volunteer for the trenches or the rifle-pits, but his glowing descriptions of the battles of Alma and lnkermann, and the evidence of contemporaries, show him to have been in the midst of these engagements. We have heard it said that his letter describing the battle of Alma, which made his first "mark" in England, was written in the field, with ink improvised out of gun-powder, and upon an empty powder-keg.

After the peace Dr. Russell scoured the interior of Russia; and on the following year was dispatched as

" Special Correspondent" to recount the majestic ceremonies of the Emperor Alexander's coronation at Moscow. Our readers will remember his glowing description of that semi-Oriental pageant.

Dr. Russell's " Diary in India"—a production entirely distinct from his masterly narrations to the Times of Sir Colin Campbell's reconquest of that vast and menaced appendage to the British Crown—has been extensively read in this country.

On his return from the East he engaged in the publication of the Army and Navy Gazette, a successful hebdomadal devoted to the contemporaneous history and progress of the English Volunteer movement, and to every new discovery or improvement in the art of war by sea or by land. From

his editorial duties and a variety of concurrent literary pursuits, Dr. Russell was detailed by "the Thunderer," to whose service he has never ceased to be attached, to inspect the melancholy political condition of our distracted country, whose shores he reached on the 16th March, and where we find him, at the New York St. Patrick's dinner of the day following, expressing his regret that his presence had too often been like that of the Stormy Petrel, the harbinger of trouble ; and his hope that, in the present case, the experience of the past might be falsified, and his pen employed to record the circumstances of a reconciliation so precious, rather than those of a fratricidal war so deplorable, to the feelings and interests of humanity.

In his personal intercourse Dr. Russell unites the charms of experience, genius, and sincerity. A willing controversialist, he rushes into a discussion with the fearlessness of conviction and the generosity of one who feels that he has ideas and knowledge to spare. As an observer, while endowed. with a keen relish for enjoyment, nothing seems to escape him.

Mr. Russell arrived in this country about three months since, and after spending a short time in New York and Washington, proceeded to the South. He has by this time made the tour of the Gulf States, and is on his way back to Washington. From Charleston he sends the following curious intelligence, under date of April 30:

"Nothing I could say can be worth one fact which has forced itself upon my mind reference to the sentiments which prevail among the gentlemen of this State. I have been among them for several days. I have visited their plantations; I have conversed with them freely and fully ; and I have enjoyed that frank, courteous, and graceful intercourse which constitutes an irresistible charm of their society. From all quarters have come to my ears the echoes of the same voice; it may be feigned, but there is no discord in the note, and it sounds in wonderful strength and monotony all over the country. Shades of George III., of North, of Johnson, of all who contended against the great rebellion which tore these colonies from England, can you hear the chorus which rings through the State of Marion, Sumter, and Pinckney, and not clap your ghostly hands in triumph ? That voice says, ' If we could only get one of the royal race of England to rule over us, we should be content.' Let there be no misconception on this point. That sentiment, varied in a hundred ways, has been repeated to me over and over again. There is a general admission that the means to such an end are wanting, and that the desire can not be gratified. But the admiration for monarchical institutions on the English model, for privileged classes, and for a landed aristocracy and gentry, is undisguised and apparently genuine. With the pride of having achieved their independence is mingled in the South Carolinians' hearts a strange regret at the result and consequences, and many are they who ' would go back tomorrow if we could.'"

In Georgia, it seems, Mr. Russell found less warlike ardor than in little Carolina. He writes, on May 2:

There is much said concerning ' Our President's' Message ; and there is a suddenness of admiration for pacific tendencies which can with difficulty be accounted for, unless the news from the North these last few clays has something to do with it. Not a word now about an instant march on Washington! no more threats to seize on Faneuil Hall! The Georgians are by no means so keen as the Carolinians on their border—nay, they are not so belligerent today as they were a week ago. Mr. Jefferson Davis's Message is praised for its 'moderation,' and for other qualities which were by no means in such favor while the Sumter fever was at its height. Men look grave, and talk about the interference of England and France, which 'can not allow this thing to go on.' But the change which has come over them is unmistakable, and the best men begin to look grave. As for me, I must prepare to open my lines of retreat—my communications are in danger."

People here generally seem to think that Mr. Russell's letters are more favorable to the South than to the North. His later letters certainly read as though there was a spice of irony in his compliments to the rebels.


William Russell, London Times Civil War Correspondent

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