JUNE 19TH. —Yesterday I saw Colonel Bartow, still accompanied by young Lamar, his aid. I wish all our officers were inspired by the same zeal and determination that they are. And are they not?
JUNE 19TH. —Yesterday I saw Colonel Bartow, still accompanied by young Lamar, his aid. I wish all our officers were inspired by the same zeal and determination that they are. And are they not?
—The probabilities are, that the nest few days will witness the most momentous developments in the history of the continent. The aspect of affairs in Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri betokens the proximity of a crisis—of collisions upon the result of which depends much of the future. The preparations on the border, on both sides, indicate movements which may determine, and will be certain largely to influence, the result of the controversy between the hostile sections. The points towards which public interest will be generally directed are: Fort Pickens, before which the Confederates have the best appointed and applied army ever organized in this country, and commanded by an officer whose high renown attaches to his name the prestige of success. The signs of the times are, that public expectations in this quarter will soon be relieved. On the northeastern line, we infer, from the proclamation of General Beauregard, issued from Manassas Junction, that an early offensive movement is contemplated, which the South desires, and will support. Fortress Monroe will be invested, and the marauding bands that have been plundering the immediate vicinity confined to their lines, or defeated in detail, as at Bethel. The Harper’s Ferry force are now engaged in a movement, the result of which will, we have no doubt, astonish the country. Missouri, too, has become the theatre upon which startling events will soon be enacted, if the people of that State sustain the action of their patriotic Governor in his determination to drive the abolition marauders from her border. If the people respond, important moves upon the chess-board of war west of the Mississippi are certain to occur. Governor Jackson and his brave Missourians, supported, as they undoubtedly will be, by McCulloch and his forces, will soon drive back the miscreants who have been deputized to crush popular sentiment as it has been done in Maryland. And here on the eastern banks of the Mississippi there are thousands of brave men congregated eager for the fray, whose impetuosity will not bear restraint much longer. As a contemporary remarks, “the result of these various military movements may not all be satisfactory to the South.” Our forces may even suffer defeats and disasters. Military operations are frequently controlled by accident. But whatever may be the conclusion of any or all of the movements mentioned above, of one result we feel assured, and that is, of the final success of our great and glorious cause, and of the eventual defeat and humiliation of our vaunting enemies. Our people are not discouraged—our troops are brave, anxious, and hopeful, and the God of battles will defend the right and carry our standard to victory. We may prepare ourselves for the development of the future at an early day.—Memphis (Tenn.) Appeal, June 19.
—John Ross, principal Chief of the Cherokee’ Indians, in a proclamation to his people, reminds them of the obligations arising under their treaties with the United States, and urging them to their faithful observance; earnestly impressing upon all the propriety of attending to their ordinary avocations, and abstaining from unprofitable discussion of events transpiring in the States; cultivating harmony among themselves, and the observance of good faith and strict neutrality between them and the States threatening civil war, by which means alone can the Cherokee people hope to maintain their rights and be spared the effect of devastating war, hoping there may yet be a compromise or peaceful separation. He admonishes the Cherokees to be prudent and avoid any act or policy calculated to destroy or endanger their rights. By honestly adhering to this course no just cause for aggression will be given, and in the final adjustment between the States the nation will be in a situation to claim and retain their rights. He earnestly impresses upon the Cherokee people the importance of non-interference, and trusts that God will keep from their borders the desolation of war and stay the ravages among the brotherhood of States.—(Doc. 15.)
—A battle took place at sunrise, yesterday morning, between 800 Union Home Guards, under Captain Cook, near the town of Cole Camp, Mo., and a large party of secessionists from Warsaw and the surrounding country, in which 15 Guards were killed, 20 wounded, many of them severely, and 30 prisoners were taken. Most of the Guards were in a large barn when the firing began, but they immediately sprung to arms, and killed forty of the attacking party before being overpowered by superior numbers, but nearly all of them finally escaped and are ready to join the forces to dispute the passage of the State troops.—Baltimore American, June 22.
—To-day six pickets from Grafton, Va., who had been sent out into the country back of Philippi, ran into a camp of secessionists most unexpectedly, and were immediately surrounded. They fought their way out without a man being hurt, although two of them had their horses shot under them. They returned to Philippi and reported to the camp, and shortly after a large force was sent out. They came across the camp and dispersed the rebels, who fled in every direction. They were pursued, and several stragglers picked up. Among them was no less a personage than ex-Governor Joseph Johnson, who was captured in full regimentals. He was brought into Grafton this evening.— Wheeling ( Va.) Intelligencer, June 20.
—The Second Wisconsin Regiment passed through Cleveland, O., for Washington. They were welcomed by a large and enthusiastic crowd of citizens. Before leaving they partook of refreshments, which had been abundantly provided in the park.
—Yesterday the Convention of North Carolina elected the following delegates to the Confederate Congress:—For the State at large, W. W. Avery and George Davis; First District, W. N. H. Smith; Second, Thomas Ruffin; Third, T. D. McDowell; Fourth, A. W. Venable; Fifth, John M. Morehead; Sixth, R. C. Puryear; Seventh, Burton Craige; Eighth, A. D. Davidson. It also authorized the First Regiment of North Carolina Volunteers, who took so active a part in the affair at Bethel, to inscribe on their colors the word “Bethel.”—Philadelphia Press, June 24.
—The Twenty-sixth Pennsylvania Regiment, Col. Small, numbering about one thousand hardy-looking and well-drilled men, arrived at Washington. They are fully equipped and armed with the regulation musket. They are quartered in the new Colonization Society building, corner of Four-and-a-half street and Pennsylvania avenue.—(Doc. 16.)
—A detachment of regulars from Kansas City captured thirty-five secessionists and a small quantity of arms and ammunition at Liberty, Mo., to-day.—N. Y. World, June 25.
—The Fourth Regiment of Maine Volunteers passed through New York on its way to the seat of war in Virginia. The regiment landed at pier No. 3, on the North River, and took up the line of march through Battery Place into Broadway, and thence to the City Hall. All along the route the greatest enthusiasm prevailed, and the appearance of the volunteers was the subject of universal praise. Their solid ranks, their excellent marching, and above all their full preparation in every respect for the work of the campaign—all went to show that what they claim—namely, that they arc equal if not superior to any corps which has entered into the service—has some foundation in fact. In front of the City Hall they were drawn up in close lines, and were presented with two flags —one on behalf of the sons, and the other on behalf of the daughters of Maine, resident in New York. Rev. I. S. Kalloch, formerly of Boston, offered a prayer. Rev. Dr. Hitchcock presented the flag in behalf of the sons. He said to the regiment in substance that their brothers bid them welcome to the commercial metropolis of the Union, to this temporary camping ground of the loyal troops of the Union. (Three cheers for the volunteers of Maine.) They went to join thousands of troops now engaged in the defence of the Union. The serpent’s egg, (secession,) he said, was hatched thirty years ago. The old hero, Jackson, put his foot on it, but only on its tail. They (the regiment) would put their feet on its head and kill it! (Cheers.) The year 1861 would stand side by side with 1776. We began to exist in 1776, to-day we were in our manhood. The disasters of which we bear are only the gentle discipline of our Father, for our good, to teach us how to snatch victory on greater fields. (Cheers.) The Confederates have put themselves where our leading General wished to put them—flanked by the mountains and the sea. The sons of Maine are willing to see the flag he presented to the regiment returned soiled with blood, but not soiled with the soil of Virginia.—Col. Berry took the flag and waved it. It was saluted with thousands of cheers. He then tendered his sincere thanks. He could not wait to make a speech, but he would say (mounting the stand)—Men of the Fourth Regiment, shall this flag ever trail in the dust? (“No, no!”) Will you defend it as long as you have a right arm? (“We will,” and enthusiastic cheers.)—A splendid regimental flag, on behalf of the daughters of Maine, was presented by Mr. J. W. Brookman, and received with appropriate remarks by Colonel Berry. —(Doc. 17.)
—The Thirty-eighth Regiment New York Volunteers, Second Scott Life Guard, commanded by Colonel J. Hobart Ward, left New York city for the seat of war.—(Doc. 18.)
—The Secession forces from Romney, Va., burnt the railroad bridge over New Creek, twenty-three miles west of Cumberland, Md., early this morning, and marched to Piedmont, five miles further west, which place they now hold. The telegraph wires east of Piedmont were cut by them. Notice was given of their approach to the town, and the citizens prepared to leave. All the engines belonging to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company were fired up and sent west to Grafton. The greatest excitement prevailed. A company of citizen soldiers who were guarding the bridges are reported to have been fired upon and killed. On the approach of the secessionists the Piedmont operator closed the telegraph office and fled. Communication by railroad between Grafton and Cumberland is now cut off.—National Intelligencer, June 21.
—T. B. Bueke, a rabid secessionist, was hung by the citizens of Lane, (Ogle Co., Illinois,) from a two-story window of the Court-house building. He was charged with causing the destructive fires there on the 7th of this month, and in December last. His guilt was fully established, and it was also proved that he had planned the burning of the business part of the town.—N. Y. Express, June 20.
—Two letters from John Adams, second President of the United States, to Gen. Benjamin Lincoln, of Massachusetts, on the subject of “State Sovereignty,” and the heresy of “confederated republic,” were first published at Boston.—(Doc. 19.)
—The Twenty-first New York Regiment, Colonel Rogers, from Buffalo, arrived this afternoon at Washington. They are a hardy-looking set of men, and number about eight hundred. The uniform is of gray cloth, and they are well armed and equipped. Many of the regiment served in Mexico, and Col. Rogers was a captain in that war, and distinguished as an efficient officer.—(Doc. 20.)
—Andrew Johnson, of Tennessee, arrived at Cincinnati, en route to Washington. He was escorted across the Ohio, by the Newport and Covington Military, and a large concourse of citizens. At 8 o’clock he was formally waited upon by the Chamber of Commerce, and made a speech from the balcony of the Burnett House to a large gathering of citizens. —(Doc. 21.)
—The 8th and 10th Indiana Regiments, Colonels Benton and Mansen, passed through Cincinnati, Ohio, for Virginia.—Albany, (N. Y.) Journal, June 21.
—The War Department accepted for three years, or the war, a Chicago battalion, raised by Capt. J. W. Wilson, consisting of 212 men, rank and file, called “The Illinois Bridge, Breastwork, and Fortification Fusileers.” It is composed of 120 carpenters, 70 railroad-track men, 7 railroad and bridge blacksmiths, 6 boatbuilders, 2 engineers, and 9 locomotive builders. Boston Transcript, June 20.
—The Eleventh Anniversary of the Hudson River Baptist Association South, was held with the Mount Olivet Baptist Church, Yonkers. The anniversary sermon was preached by Rev. W. S. Mikels, of New York. Rev. John Dowling, D. D., was elected Moderator, Rev. C. C. Norton was reelected Clerk, James L. Hastie, Assistant-Clerk, and J. M. Bruce, Jr., Treasurer. A Committee was appointed to prepare a series of resolutions on the state of the country, which, with the report, were offered through the chairman, Rev. Wm. Hague, D. D. of New York, and unanimously adopted.— (Doc. 22.)
June 19th. It is probable the landlord of the Gayoso House was a strong Secessionist, and resolved, therefore, to make the most out of a neutral customer like myself—certainly Herodotus would have been astonished if he were called upon to pay the little bill which was presented to me in the modern Memphis; and had the old Egyptian hostelries been conducted on the same principles as those of the Tennessean Memphis, the “Father of History ” would have had to sell off a good many editions in order to pay his way. I had to rise at three o’clock A.m., to reach the train, which started before five. The omnibus which took us to the station was literally nave deep in the dust; and of all the bad roads and dusty streets I have yet seen in the New World, where both prevail, North and South, those of Memphis are the worst. Indeed, as the citizen, of Hibernian birth, who presided over the luggage of the passengers on the roof, declared, “The streets are paved with waves of mud, only the mud is all dust when it’s fine weather.”
By the time I had arrived at the station my clothes were covered with a fine alluvial deposit in a state of powder; the platform was crowded with volunteers moving off for the wars, and I was obliged to take my place in a carriage full of Confederate officers and soldiers who had a large supply of whisky, which at that early hour they were consuming as a prophylactic against the influence of the morning dews, which hereabouts are of such a deadly character that, to be quite safe from their influence, it appears to be necessary, judging from the examples of my companions, to get as nearly drunk as possible. Whisky, by-the-by, is also a sovereign specific against the bites of rattlesnakes. All the dews of the Mississippi and the rattlesnakes of the prairie might have spent their force or venom in vain on my companions before we had got as far as Union City.
I was evidently regarded with considerable suspicion by my fellow passengers, when they heard I was going to Cairo, until the conductor obligingly informed them who I was, whereupon I was much entreated to fortify myself against the dews and rattlesnakes, and received many offers of service and kindness.
Whatever may be the normal comforts of American railway cars, they are certainly most unpleasant conveyances when the war spirit is abroad, and the heat of the day, which was excessive, did not contribute to diminish the annoyance of foul air—the odour of whisky, tobacco, and the like, combined with innumerable flies. At Humbolt, which is eighty-two miles away, there was a change of cars, and an opportunity of obtaining some refreshment,—the station was crowded by great numbers of men and women dressed in their best, who were making holiday in order to visit Union City, forty-six miles distant, where a force of Tennesseean and Mississippi regiments are encamped. The ladies boldly advanced into carriages ,which were quite full, and as they looked quite prepared to sit down on the occupants of the seats if they did not move, and to destroy them with all-absorbing articles of feminine warfare, either defensive or aggressive, and crush them with iron-bound crinolines, they soon drove us out into the broiling sun.
Whilst I was on the platform I underwent the usual process of American introduction, not, I fear, very good-humouredly. A gentleman whom you never saw before in your life, walks up to you and says, “I am happy to see you among us, sir,” and if he finds a hand wandering about, he shakes it cordially. “My name is Jones, sir, Judge Jones of Pumpkin County. Any information about this place or State that I can give is quite at your service.” This is all very civil and well meant of Jones, but before you have made up your mind what to say, or on what matter to test the worth of his proffered information, he darts off and seizes one of the group who have been watching Jones’s advance, and comes forward with a tall man, like himself, busily engaged with a piece of tobacco. “Colonel, let me introduce you to my friend, Mr. Russell. This, sir, is one of our leading citizens, Colonel Knags.” Whereupon the Colonel shakes hands, uses nearly the same formula as Judge Jones, immediately returns to his friends, and cuts in before Jones is back with other friends, whom he is hurrying up the platform, introduces General Cassius Mudd and Dr. Ordlando Bellows, who go through the same ceremony, and as each man has a circle of his own, my acquaintance becomes prodigiously extended, and my hand considerably tortured in the space of a few minutes; finally I am introduced to the driver of the engine and the stoker, but they proved to be acquaintances not at all to be despised, for they gave me a seat on the engine, which was really a boon considering that the train was crowded beyond endurance, and in a state of internal nastiness scarcely conceivable.
When I had got up on the engine a gentleman clambered after me in order to have a little conversation, and he turned out to be an intelligent and clever man well acquainted with the people and the country. I had been much impressed by the account in the Memphis papers of the lawlessness and crime which seemed to prevail in the state of Mississippi, and of the brutal shootings and stabbings which disgraced it and other Southern States. He admitted it was true, but could not see any remedy. “Why not?” “Well, sir, the rowdies have rushed in on us, and we can’t master them; they are too strong for the respectable people.” “Then you admit the law is nearly powerless?” “Well, you see, sir, these men have got hold of the people who ought to administer the law, and when they fail to do so they are so powerful by reason of their numbers, and so reckless, they have things their own way.”
“In effect, then, you are living under a reign of terror, and the rule of a ruffian mob?” “It’s not quite so bad as that, perhaps, for the respectable people are not much affected by it, and most of the crimes of which you speak are committed by these bad classes in their own section; but it is disgraceful to have such a state of things, and when this war is over, and we have started the Confederacy all fair, we’ll put the whole thing down. We are quite determined to take the law into our own hands, and the first remedy for the condition of affairs which, we all lament, will be to confine the suffrage to native-born Americans, and to get rid of the infamous, scoundrelly foreigners, who now overrule us in our country.” “But are not many regiments of Irish and Germans now fighting for you? And will these foreigners who have taken up arms in your cause be content to receive as the result of their success an inferior position, politically, to that which they now hold?” “Well, sir, they must; we are bound to go through with this thing if we would save society.” I had so often heard a similar determination expressed by men belonging to the thinking classes in the South that I am bound to believe the project is entertained by many of those engaged in this great revolt—one principle of which indeed, may be considered hostility to universal suffrage, combining with it, of course, the limitation of the immigrant vote.
The portion of Tennessee through which the rail runs is exceedingly uninteresting, and looks unhealthy, the clearings occur at long intervals in the forest, and the unwholesome population, who came out of their low shanties, situated amidst blackened stumps of trees or fields of Indian corn, did not seem prosperous or comfortable. The twists and curves of the rail, through cane brakes and swamps exceeded in that respect any line I have ever travelled on; but the vertical irregularities of the rail were still greater, and the engine bounded as if it were at sea.
The names of the stations show that a savant has been rambling about the district. Here is Corinth, which consists of a wooden grog-shop and three log shanties; the acropolis is represented by a grocery store, of which the proprietors, no doubt, have gone to the wars, as their names were suspiciously Milesian, and the doors and windows were fastened; but occasionally the names of the stations on the railway boards represented towns and villages, hidden in the wood some distance away, and Mummius might have something to ruin if he marched off the track but not otherwise.
The city of Troy was still simpler in architecture than the Grecian capitol. The Dardanian towers were represented by a timber-house, in the verandah of which the American Helen was seated, in the shape of an old woman smoking a pipe, and she certainly could have set the Palace of Priam on fire much more readily than her prototype. Four sheds, three log huts, a sawmill, about twenty negroes sitting on a wood-pile, and looking at the train, constituted the rest of the place, which was certainly too new for one to say, Trqja fuit, whilst the general “fixins” would scarcely authorise us to say with any confidence, Trojafuerit.
The train from Troy passed through a cypress swamp, over which the engine rattled, and hopped at a perilous rate along high trestle work, till forty-six miles from Humbolt we came to Union City, which was apparently formed by aggregate meetings of discontented shavings that had travelled out of the forest hard by. But a little beyond it was the Confederate camp, which so many citizens and citizenesses had come out into the wilderness to see; and a general descent was made upon the place whilst the volunteers came swarming out of their tents to meet their friends. It was interesting to observe the affectionate greetings between the young soldiers, mothers, wives, and sweethearts, and as a display of the force and earnestness of the Southern people—the camp itself containing thousands of men, many of whom were members of the first families in the State—was specially significant.
There is no appearance of military order or discipline about the camps, though they were guarded by sentries and cannon, and implements of war and soldiers’ accoutrements were abundant. Some of the sentinels carried their firelocks under their arms like umbrellas, others carried the but over the shoulder and the muzzle downwards, and one for his greater ease had stuck the bayonet of his firelock into the ground, and was leaning his elbow on the stock with his chin on his hand, whilst Sybarites less ingenious, had simply deposited their muskets against the trees, and were lying down reading newspapers. Their arms and uniforms were of different descriptions—sporting rifles, fowling pieces, flint muskets, smooth bores, long and short barrels, new Enfields, and the like; but the men, nevertheless, were undoubtedly material for excellent soldiers. There were some few boys, too young to carry arms, although the zeal and ardour of such lads cannot but have a good effect, if they behave well in action.
The great attraction of this train lay in a vast supply of stores, with which several large vans were closely packed, and for fully two hours the train was delayed, whilst hampers of wine, spirits, vegetables, fruit, meat, groceries, and all the various articles acceptable to soldiers living under canvas were disgorged on the platform, and carried away by the expectant military.
I was pleased to observe the perfect confidence that was felt in the honesty of the men. The railway servants simply deposited each article as it came out on the platform—the men came up, read the address, and carried it away, or left it, as the case might be; and only in one instance did I see a scramble, which was certainly quite justifiable, for in handing out a large basket the bottom gave way, and out tumbled onions, apples, and potatoes among the soldiery, who stuffed their pockets and haversacks with the unexpected bounty. One young fellow, who was handed a large wicker-covered jar from the van, having shaken it, and gratified his ear by the pleasant jingle inside, retired to the roadside, drew the cork, and, raising it slowly to his mouth, proceeded to take a good pull at the contents, to the envy of his comrades; but the pleasant expression upon his face rapidly vanished, and spurting out the fluid with a hideous grimace, he exclamed, “D____; why, if the old woman has not gone and sent me a gallon of syrup.” The matter was evidently considered too serious to joke about, for not a soul in the crowd even smiled; but they walked away from the man, who, putting down the jar, seemed in doubt as to whether he would take it away or not.
Numerous were the invitations to stop, which I received from the officers. “Why not stay with us, sir; what can a gentleman want to go among black Republicans and Yankees for.” It is quite obvious that my return to the Northern States is regarded with some suspicion; but I am bound to say that my explanation of the necessity of the step was always well received, and satisfied my Southern friends that I had no alternative. A special correspondent, whose letters cannot get out of the country in which he is engaged, can scarcely fulfil the purpose of his mission; and I used to point out, good-humouredly, to these gentlemen that until they had either opened the communication with the North, or had broken the blockade, and established steam communication with Europe, I must seek my base of operations elsewhere.
At last we started from Union City; and there came into the car, among other soldiers who were going out to Columbus, a fine specimen of the wild filibustering population of the South, which furnish many recruits to the ranks of the Confederate army—a tall, brawny-shouldered, brown-faced, black-bearded, hairy-handed man, with a hunter’s eye, and rather a Jewish face, full of life, energy, and daring. I easily got into conversation with him, as my companion happened to be a freemason, and he told us he had been a planter in Mississippi, and once owned 110 negroes, worth at least some 20,000£.; but, as he said himself, “I was always patrioting it about;” and so he went off, first with Lopez to Cuba, was wounded and taken prisoner by the Spaniards, but had the good fortune to be saved from the execution which was inflicted on the ringleaders of the expedition. When he came back he found his plantation all the worse, and a decrease amongst his negroes; but his love of adventure and filibustering was stronger than his prudence or desire of gain. He took up with Walker, the “the grey eyed man of destiny,” and accompanied him in his strange career till his leader received the coup de grace in the final raid upon Nicaragua.
Again he was taken prisoner, and would have been put to death by the Nicaraguans, but for the intervention of Captain Aldham. “I don’t bear any love to the Britishers,” said he, “but I’m bound to say, as so many charges have been made against Captain Aldham, that he behaved like a gentleman, and if I had been at New Orleans when them cussed cowardly blackguards ill-used him, I’d have left my mark so deep on a few of them, that their clothes would not cover them long.” He told us that at present he had only five negroes left, “but I’m not going to let the black republicans lay hold of them, and I’m just going to stand up for States’ rights as long as I can draw a trigger—so snakes and Abolitionists look out.” He was so reduced by starvation, ill-treatment, and sickness in Nicaragua, when Captain Aldham procured his release, that he weighed only 110 pounds, but at present he was over 200 pounds, a splendid bête fauve, and without wishing so fine a looking fellow any harm, I could not but help thinking that it must be a benefit to American society to get rid of a considerable number of these class of which he is a representative man. And there is every probability that they will have a full opportunity of doing so.
On the arrival of the train at Columbus, twenty-five miles from Union City, my friend got out, and a good number of men in uniform joined him, which led me to conclude that they had some more serious object than a mere pleasure trip to the very uninteresting looking city on the banks of the Mississippi, which is asserted to be neutral territory, as it belongs to the sovereign state of Kentucky. I heard, accidentally, as I came in the train, that a party of Federal soldiers from the camp at Cairo, up the river, had recently descended to Columbus and torn down a secession flag which had been hoisted on the river’s bank, to the great indignation of many of the inhabitants.
In those border states the coming war promises to produce the greatest misery; they will be the scenes of hostile operations; the population is divided in sentiment; the greatest efforts will be made by each side to gain the ascendancy in the state, and to crush the opposite faction, and it is not possible to believe that Kentucky can maintain a neutral position, or that either Federal or Confederates will pay the smallest regard to the proclamation of Governor McGoffin, and to his empty menaces.
At Columbus the steamer was waiting to convey us up to Cairo, and I congratulated myself on the good fortune of arriving in time for the last opportunity that will be afforded of proceeding northward by this route. General Pillow on the one hand, and General Prentiss on the other, have resolved to blockade the Mississippi, and as the facilities for Confederates going up to Columbus and obtaining information of what is happening in the Federal camps cannot readily be checked, the general in command of the port to which I am bound has intimated that the steamers must cease running. It was late in the day when we entered once more on the father of waters, which is here just as broad, as muddy, as deep, and as wooded as it is at Baton Rouge, or Vicksburg.
Columbus is situated on an elevated spur or elbow of land projecting into the river, and has, in commercial faith, one of those futures which have so many rallying points down the centre of the great river. The steamer which lay at the wharf, or rather the wooden piles in the bank which afforded a resting place for the gangway, carried no flag, and on board presented traces of better days, a list of refreshments no longer attainable, and of bill of fare utterly fanciful. About twenty passengers came on board, most of whom had a distracted air, as if they were doubtful of their journey. The captain was surly, the office keeper petulant, the crew morose, and, perhaps, only one man on board, a stout Englishman, who was purser or chief of the victualling department, seemed at all inclined to be communicative. At dinner he asked me whether I thought there would be a fight, but as I was oscillating between one extreme and the other, I considered it right to conceal my opinion even from the steward of the Mississippi boat; and, as it happened, the expression of it would not have been of much consequence one way or the other, for it turned out that our friend was of very stern stuff, “This war,” he said, “is all about niggers; I’ve been sixteen years in the country, and I never met one of them yet was fit to be anything but a slave; I know the two sections well, and I tell you, sir, the North can’t whip the South, let them do their best; they may ruin the country, but they’ll do no good.”
There were men on board who had expressed the strongest secession sentiments in the train, but who now sat and listened and acquiesced in the opinions of Northern men, and by the time Cairo was in sight, they, no doubt, would have taken the oath of allegiance which every doubtful person is required to utter before he is allowed to go beyond the military post.
In about two hours or so the captain pointed out to me a tall building and some sheds, which seemed to arise out of a wide reach in the river, “that’s Cairey,” said he, “where the Unionists have their camp,” and very soon the stars and stripes were visible, waving from a lofty staff, at the angle of low land formed by the junction of the Mississippi and Ohio.
For two months I had seen only the rival stars and bars, with the exception of the rival banner floating from the ships and the fort at Pickens. One of the passengers told me that the place was supposed to be described by Mr. Dickens, in “Martin Chuzzlewit,” and as the steamer approached the desolate embankment, which seemed the only barrier between the low land on which the so-called city was built, and the waters of the great river rising above it, it certainly became impossible to believe that sane men, even as speculators, could have fixed upon such a spot as the possible site of a great city, —an emporium of trade and commerce. A more desolate woe-begone looking place, now that all trade and commerce had ceased cannot be conceived; but as the southern terminus of the central Illinois railway, it displayed a very different scene before the war broke out.
With the exception of the large hotel, which rises far above the levee of the river, the public edifices are represented by a church and spire, and the rest of the town by a line of shanties and small houses, the rooms and upper stories of which are just visible above the embankment. The general impression effected by the place was decidedly like that which the Isle of Dogs produces on a despondent foreigner as he approaches London by the river on a drisly day in November. The stream, formed by the united efforts of the Mississippi and the Ohio, did not appear to gain much breadth, and each of the confluents looked as large as its product with the other. Three steamers lay alongside the wooden wharves projecting from the embankment, which was also lined by some flat-boats. Sentries paraded the gangways as the steamer made fast along the shore, but no inquiry was directed to any of the passengers, and I walked up the levee and proceeded straight to the hotel, which put me very much in mind of an effort made by speculating proprietors to create a watering-place on some lifeless beach. In the hall there were a number of officers in United States’ uniforms, and the lower part of the hotel was, apparently, occupied as a military bureau; finally, I was shoved into a small dungeon, with a window opening out on the angle formed by the two rivers, which was lined with sheds and huts and terminated by a battery.
These camps are such novelties in the country, and there is such romance in the mere fact of a man living in a tent, that people come far and wide to see their friends under such extraordinary circumstances, and the hotel at Cairo was crowded by men and women who had come from all parts of Illinois to visit their acquaintances and relations belonging to the state troops encamped at this important point. The salle à manger, a long and lofty room on the ground floor, which I visited at supper time, was almost untenable by reason of heat and flies; nor did I find that the free negroes, who acted as attendants, possessed any advantages over their enslaved brethren a few miles lower down the river; though their freedom was obvious enough in their demeanour and manners.
I was introduced to General Prentiss, an agreeable person,without anything about him to indicate the soldier. He gave me a number of newspapers, the articles in which were principally occupied with a discussion of Lord John RusselPs speech on American affairs: Much as the South found fault with the British minister for the views he had expressed, the North appears much more indignant, and denounces in the press what the journalists are pleased to call “the hostility of the Foreign Minister to the United States.” It is admitted, however, that the extreme irritation caused by admitting the Southern States to exercise limited belligerent rights was not quite justifiable. Soon after nightfall I retired to my room and battled with mosquitoes till I sank into sleep and exhaustion, and abandoned myself to their mercies; perhaps, after all, there were not more than a hundred or so, and their united efforts could not absorb as much blood as would be taken out by one leech, but then their horrible acrimony, which leaves a wreck behind in the place where they have banqueted, inspires the utmost indignation and appears to be an indefensible prolongation of the outrage of the original bite.
Camp Randolph—Cannon practice—Volunteers—”Dixie “—Forced return from the South—Apathy of the North—General retrospect of politics—Energy and earnestness of the South—Fire-arms— Position of Great Britain towards the belligerents—Feeling towards the Old Country.
June 18th. On looking out of my cabin window this morning I found the steamer fast alongside a small wharf, above which rose, to the height of 150 feet, at an angle of 45 degrees, the rugged bluff already mentioned. The wharf was covered with commissariat stores and ammunition. Three heavy guns, which some men were endeavouring to sling to rude bullock-carts, in a manner defiant of all the laws of gravitation, seemed likely to go slap into the water at every moment; but of the many great strapping fellows who were lounging about, not one gave a hand to the working party. A dusty track wound up the hill to the brow, and there disappeared; and at the height of fifty feet or so above the level of the river two earthworks had been rudely erected in an ineffective position. The volunteers who were lounging about the edge of the stream were dressed in different ways, and had no uniform.
Already the heat of the sun compelled me to seek the shade; and a number of the soldiers, labouring under the same infatuation as that which induces little boys to disport themselves in the Thames at Waterloo Bridge, under the notion that they are washing themselves, were swimming about in a backwater of the great river, regardless of cat-fish, mud, and fever.
General Pillow proceeded on shore after breakfast, and we mounted the coarse cart-horse chargers which were in waiting at the jetty to receive us. It is scarcely worth while to transcribe from my diary a description of the works which I sent over at the time to England. Certainly, a more extraordinary maze could not be conceived, even in the dreams of a sick engineer—a number of mad beavers might possibly construct such dams. They were so ingeniously made as to prevent the troops engaged in their defence from resisting the enemy’s attacks, or getting away from them when the assailants had got inside—most difficult and troublesome to defend, and still more difficult for the defenders to leave, the latter perhaps being their chief merit.
The General ordered some practice to be made with round shot down the river. An old forty-two pound carronade was loaded with some difficulty, and pointed at a tree about 1700 yards—which I was told, however, was not less than 2500 yards— distant. The General and his staff took their posts on the parapet to leeward, and I ventured to say, “I think, General, the smoke will prevent your seeing the shot.” To which the General replied, “No, sir,” in a tone which indicated, “I beg you to understand I have been wounded in Mexico, and know all about this kind of thing.” “Fire,” the string was pulled, and out of the touch-hole popped a piece of metal with a little chirrup. “Darn these friction tubes! I prefer the linstock and match,” quoth one of the staff, sotto voce, “but General Pillow will have us use friction tubes made at Memphis, that ar’nt worth a cuss.” Tube No. 2, however, did explode, but where the ball went no one could say, as the smoke drifted right into our eyes.
The General then moved to the other side of the gun, which was fired a third time, the shot falling short in good line, but without any ricochet. Gun No. 3 was next fired. Off went the ball down the river, but off went the gun, too, and with a frantic leap it jumped, carriage and all, clean off the platform. Nor was it at all wonderful, for the poor old-fashioned chamber cannonade had been loaded with a charge and a solid shot heavy enough to make it burst with indignation. Most of us felt relieved when the firing was over, and, for my own part, I would much rather have been close to the target than to the battery.
Slowly winding for some distance up the steep road in a blazing sun, we proceeded through the tents which are scattered in small groups, for health’s sake, fifteen and twenty together, on the wooded plateau above the river. The tents are of the small ridge-pole pattern, six men to each, many of whom, from their exposure to the sun, whilst working in these trenches, and from the badness of the water, had already been laid up with illness. As a proof of General Pillow’s energy, it is only fair to say he is constructing, on the very summit of the plateau, large cisterns, which will be filled with water from the river by steam power.
The volunteers were mostly engaged at drill in distinct companies, but by order of the General some 700 or 800 of them were formed into line for inspection. Many of these men were in their shirt sleeves, and the awkwardness with which they handled their arms showed that, however good they might be as shots, they were bad hands at manual platoon exercise; but such great strapping fellows, that, as I walked down the ranks there were few whose shoulders were not above the level of my head, excepting here and there a weedy old man or a growing lad. They were armed with old pattern percussion muskets, no two clad alike, many very badly shod, few with knapsacks, but all provided with a tin water-flask and a blanket. These men have been only five weeks enrolled, and were called out by the State of Tennessee, in anticipation of the vote of secession.
I could get no exact details as to the supply of food, but from the Quartermaster-General I heard that each man had from ¾ lb. to 1¼ lb. of meat, and a sufficiency of bread, sugar, coffee, and rice daily; however, these military Olivers “asked for more.” Neither whisky nor tobacco was served out to them, which to such heavy consumers of both, must prove one source of dissatisfaction. The officers were plain, farmerly planters, merchants, lawyers, and the like—energetic, determined men, but utterly ignorant of the most rudimentary parts of military science. It is this want of knowledge on the part of the officer which renders it so difficult to arrive at a tolerable condition of discipline among volunteers, as the privates are quite well aware they know as much of soldiering as the great majority of their officers.
Having gone down the lines of these motley companies, the General addressed them in a harangue in which he expatiated on their patriotism, on their courage, and the atrocity of the enemy, in an odd farrago of military and political subjects. But the only matter which appeared to interest them much was the announcement that they would be released from work in another day or so, and that negroes would be sent to perform all that was required. This announcement was received with the words, “Bully for us !” and “That’s good.” And when General Pillow wound up a florid peroration by assuring them, “When the hour of danger comes I will be with you,” the effect was by no means equal to his expectations. The men did not seem to care much whether General Pillow was with them or not at that eventful moment; and, indeed, all dusty as he was in his plain clothes he did not look very imposing, or give one an idea that he would contribute much to the means of resistance. However, one of the officers called out, “Boys, three cheers for General Pillow.”
What they may do in the North I know not, but certainly the Southern soldiers cannot cheer, and what passes muster for that jubilant sound is a shrill ringing scream with a touch of the Indian war-whoop in it. As these cries ended, a stentorian voice shouted out, “Who cares for General Pillow?” No one answered; whence I inferred the General would not be very popular until the niggers were actually at work in the trenches.
We returned to the steamer, headed up stream and proceeded onwards for more than an hour, to another landing, protected by a battery, where we disembarked, the General being received by a guard dressed in uniform, who turned out with some appearance of soldierly smartness. On my remarking the difference to the General, he told me the corps encamped at this point was composed of gentlemen planters, and farmers. They had all clad themselves, and consisted of some of the best families in the State of Tennessee.
As we walked down the gangway to the shore, the band on the upper deck struck up, out of compliment to the English element in the party, the unaccustomed strains of “God save the Queen;” and I am not quite sure that the loyalty which induced me to stand in the sun, with uncovered head, till the musicians were good enough to desist, was appreciated. Certainly a gentleman, who asked me why I did so, looked very incredulous, and said “That he could understand it if it had been in a church; but that he would not broil his skull in the sun, not if General Washington was standing just before him.” The General gave orders to exercise the battery at this point, and a working party was told off to firing drill. ‘Twas fully six minutes between the giving of the orders and the first gun being ready.
On the word “fire” being given, the gunner pulled the lanyard, but the tube did not explode; a second tube was inserted, but a strong jerk pulled it out without exploding; a third time one of the General’s fuses was applied, which gave way to the pull, and was broken in two; a fourth time was more successful—the gun exploded, and the shot fell short and under the mark—in fact, nothing could be worse than the artillery practice which I saw here, and a fleet of vessels coming down the river might, in the present state of the garrisons, escape unhurt.
There are no disparts, tangents, or elevating screws to the gun, which are laid by eye and wooden chocks. I could see no shells in the battery, but was told there were some in the magazine.
Altogether, though Randolph’s Point and Fort Pillow afford strong positions, in the present state of the service, and equipment of guns and works, gunboats could run past them without serious loss, and, as the river falls, the fire of the batteries will be even less effective.
On returning to the boats the band struck up “The Marseillaise” and “Dixie’s Land.” There are two explanations of the word Dixie—one is that it is the general term for the Slave States, which are, of course, south of Mason and Dixon’s line; another, that a planter named Dixie, died long ago, to the intense grief of his animated property. Whether they were ill-treated after he died, and thus had reason to regret his loss, or that they had merely a longing in the abstract after Heaven, no fact known to me can determine; but certain it is that they long much after Dixie, in the land to which his spirit was supposed by them to have departed, and console themselves in their sorrow by clamorous wishes to follow their master, where probably the revered spirit would be much surprised to find himself in their company. The song is the work of the negro melodists of New York.
In the afternoon we returned to Memphis. Here I was obliged to cut short my Southern tour, though I would willingly have stayed, to have seen the most remarkable social and political changes the world has probably ever witnessed. The necessity of my position obliged me to return northwards—unless I could write, there was no use in my being on the spot at all. By this time the Federal fleets have succeeded in closing the ports, if not effectually, so far as to render the carriage of letters precarious, and the route must be at best devious and uncertain.
Mr. Jefferson Davis was, I was assured, prepared to give me every facility at Richmond to enable me to know and to see all that was most interesting in the military and political action of the New Confederacy; but of what use could this knowledge be if I could not communicate it to the journal I served?
I had left the North when it was suffering from a political paralysis, and was in a state of coma in which it appeared conscious of the coming convulsion but unable to avert it. The sole sign of life in the body corporate was some feeble twitching of the limbs at Washington, when the district militia were called out, whilst Mr. Seward descanted on the merits of the Inaugural, and believed that the anger of the South was a short madness, which would be cured by a mild application of philosophical essays.
The politicians, who were urging in the most forcible manner the complete vindication of the rights of the Union, were engaged, when I left them arguing, that the Union had no rights at all as opposed to those of the States. Men who had heard with nods of approval of the ordinance of secession passed by State after State were now shrieking out, “Slay the traitors!”
The printed rags which had been deriding the President as the great “rail splitter,” and his Cabinet as a collection of ignoble fanatics, were now heading the popular rush, and calling out to the country to support Mr. Lincoln and his Ministry, and were menacing with war the foreign States which dared to stand neutral in the quarrel. The declaration of Lord John Russell that the Southern Confederacy should have limited belligerent rights had at first created a thrill of exultation in the South, because the politicians believed that in this concession was contained the principle of recognition; while it had stung to fury the people of the North, to whom it seemed the first warning of the coming disunion.
Much, therefore, as I desired to go to Richmond, where I was urged to repair by many considerations, and by the earnest appeals of those around me, I felt it would be impossible, notwithstanding the interest attached to the proceedings there, to perform my duties in a place cut off from all communication with the outer world; and so I decided to proceed, to Chicago, and thence to Washington, where the Federals had assembled a large army, with the purpose of marching upon Richmond, in obedience to the cry of nearly every journal of influence in the Northern cities.
My resolution was mainly formed in consequence of the intelligence which was communicated to me at Memphis, and I told General Pillow that I would continue my journey to Cairo, in order to get within the Federal lines. As the river was blockaded, the only means of doing so was to proceed by rail to Columbus, and thence to take a steamer to the Federal position; and so, whilst the General was continuing his inspection, I rode to the telegraph office, in one of the camps, to order my luggage to be prepared for departure as soon as I arrived, and thence went on board the steamer, where I sat down in the cabin to write my last despatch from Dixie.
So far I had certainly no reason to agree with Mr. Seward in thinking this rebellion was the result of a localised energetic action on the part of a fierce minority in the seceding States, and that there was in each a large, if inert, mass opposed to secession, which would rally round the Stars and Stripes the instant they were displayed in their sight. On the contrary, I met everywhere with but one feeling, with exceptions which proved its unanimity and its force. To a man the people went with their States, and had but one battle cry, “States’ rights, and death to those who make war against them!”
Day after day I had seen this feeling intensified by the accounts which came from the North of a fixed determination to maintain the war; and day after day, I am bound to add, the impression on my mind was strengthened that “States’ rights” meant protection to slavery, extension of slave territory, and free-trade in slave produce with the outer world; nor was it any argument against the conclusion that the popular passion gave vent to the most vehement outcries against Yankees, abolitionists, German mercenaries, and modern invasion. I was fully satisfied in my mind also that the population of the South, who had taken up arms, were so convinced of the righteousness of their cause, and so competent to vindicate it, that they would fight with the utmost energy and valour in its defence and successful establishment.
The saloon in which I was sitting afforded abundant evidence of the vigour with which the South are entering upon the contest. Men of every variety and condition of life had taken up arms against the cursed Yankee and the black Republican—there was not a man there who would not have given his life for the rare pleasure of striking Mr. Lincoln’s head off his shoulders, and yet to a cold European the scene was almost ludicrous.
Along the covered deck lay tall Tennesseans, asleep, whose plumed felt hats were generally the only indications of their martial calling, for few indeed had any other signs of uniform, except the rare volunteers, who wore stripes of red and yellow cloth on their trousers, or leaden buttons, and discoloured worsted braid and facings on their jackets. The afterpart of the saloon deck was appropriated to General Pillow, his staff, and officers. The approach to it was guarded by a sentry, a tall, good-looking young fellow, in a grey flannel shirt, grey trousers, fastened with a belt and a brass buckle, inscribed U.S., which came from some plundered Federal arsenal, and a black wide-awake hat, decorated with a green plume. His Enfield rifle lay beside him on the deck, and, with great interest expressed on his face, he leant forward in his rocking-chair to watch the varying features of a party squatted on the floor, who were employed in the national game of “Euchre.” As he raised his eyes to examine the condition of the cigar he was smoking, he caught sight of me, and by the simple expedient of holding his leg across my chest, and calling out, “Hallo! where are you going to?” brought me to a standstill—whilst his captain, who was one of the happy euchreists, exclaimed, “Now, Sam, you let nobody go in there.”
I was obliged to explain who I was, whereupon the sentry started to his feet, and said, “Oh! indeed, you are Russell that’s been in that war with the Rooshians. Well, I’m very much pleased to know you. I shall be off sentry in a few minutes; I’ll just ask you to tell me something about that fighting.” He held out his hand, and shook mine warmly as he spoke. There was not the smallest intention to offend in his manner; but, sitting down again, he nodded to the captain, and said, “It’s all right; it’s Pillow’s friend— that’s Russell of the London Times.” The game of euchre was continued—and indeed it had been perhaps all night — for my last recollection on looking out of my cabin was of a number of people playing cards on the floor and on the tables all down the saloon, and of shouts of “Eu-kerr !” “Ten dollars, you don’t!” “I’ll lay twenty on this!” and so on; and with breakfast the sport seemed to be fully revived.
There would have been much more animation in the game, no doubt, had the bar on board the Ingomar been opened; but the intelligent gentleman who presided inside had been restricted by General Pillow in his avocations; and when numerous thirsty souls from the camps came on board, with dry tongues and husky voices, and asked for “mint juleps,” “brandy smashes,” or “whisky cocktails,” he seemed to take a saturnine pleasure by saying, “The General won’t allow no spirit on board, but I can give you a nice drink of Pillow’s own iced Mississippi water,” an announcement which generally caused infinite disgust and some unhandsome wishes respecting the General’s future happiness.
By and bye, a number of sick men were brought down on litters, and placed here and there along the deck. As there was a considerable misunderstanding between the civilian and military doctors, it appeared to be understood that the best way of arranging it was not to attend to the sick at all, and unfortunate men suffering from fever and dysentery were left to roll and groan, and lie on their stretchers, without a soul to help them. I had a medicine chest on board, and I ventured to use the lessons of my experience in such matters, administered my quinine, James’s Powder, calomel, and opium, secundum meant artem, and nothing could be more grateful than the poor fellows were for the smallest mark of attention. “Stranger, remember, if I die,” gasped one great fellow, attenuated to a skeleton by dysentery, “That I am Robert Tallon, of Tishimingo county, and that I died for States’ rights; see, now, they put that in the papers, won’t you? Robert Tallon died for States’ rights,” and so he turned round on his blanket.
Presently the General came on board, and the Ingomar proceeded on her way back to Memphis. General Clarke, to whom I mentioned the great neglect from which the soldiers were suffering, told me he was afraid the men had no medical attendance in camp. All the doctors, in fact, wanted to fight, and as they were educated men, and generally connected with respectable families, or had political influence in the State, they aspired to be colonels at the very least, and to wield the sword instead of the scalpel.
Next to the medical department, the commissariat and transport were most deficient; but by constant courts-martial, stoppages of pay, and severe sentences, he hoped these evils would be eventually somewhat mitigated. As one who had received a regular military education, General Clarke was probably shocked by volunteer irregularities; and in such matters as guard-mounting, reliefs, patrols, and picket-duties, he declared they were enough to break one’s heart; but I was astonished to hear from him that the Germans were by far the worst of the five thousand troops under his command, of whom they formed more than a fifth.
Whilst we were conversing, the captain of the steamer invited us to come up into his cabin on the upper deck; and as railway conductors, steamboat captains, barkeepers, hotel-clerks, and telegraph officers are among the natural aristocracy of the land, we could not disobey the invitation, which led to the consumption of some of the captain’s private stores, and many warm professions of political faith.
The captain told me it was rough work abroad sometimes with “sports” and chaps of that kind; but “God bless you,” said he, “the river now is not what it used to be a few years ago, when we’d have three or four difficulties of an afternoon, and may-be now and then a regular free fight all up and down the decks, that would last a couple of hours, so that when we came to a town we would have to send for all the doctors twenty miles round, and may-be some of them would die in spite of that. It was the rowdies used to get these fights up; but we’ve put them pretty well down. The citizens have hunted them out, and they’s gone away west.” “Well, then, captain, one’s life was not very safe on board sometimes.” “Safe! Lord bless you!” said the captain; “if you did not meddle, just as safe as you are now, if the boiler don’t collapse. You must, in course, know how to handle your weepins, and be pretty spry in taking your own part.” “Ho, you Bill!” to his coloured servant, “open that clothes-press.” “Now, here,” he continued, “is how I travel; so that I am always easy in my mind in case of trouble on board.” Putting his hand under the pillow of the bed close beside him, he pulled out a formidable looking double-barrelled pistol at half-cock, with the caps upon it. “That’s as purty a pistol as Derringer ever made. I’ve got the brace of them—here’s the other;” and with that he whipped out pistol No. 2, in an equal state of forwardness, from a little shelf over his bed; and then going over to the clothes-press, he said, “Here’s a real old Kentuck, one of the old sort, as light on the trigger as gossamer, and sure as deeth— Why, law bless me, a child would cut a turkey’s head off with it at a hundred yards.” This was a huge lump of iron, about five feet long, with a small hole bored down the centre, fitted in a coarse German-fashioned stock. “But,” continued he, “this is my main dependence; here is a regular beauty, a first-rate, with ball or buckshot, or whatever you like — made in London; I gave two hundred dollars for it; and it is so short and handy and straight shooting, I’d just as soon part with my life as let it go to anybody” and, with a glow of pride in his face, the captain handed round again a very short double-barrelled gun, of some eleven or twelve bore, with back action locks, and an audacious “Joseph Manton, London,” stamped on the plate. The manner of the man was perfectly simple and bond fide; very much as if Inspector Podger were revealing to a simpleton the mode by which the London police managed refractory characters in the station-house.
From such matters as these I was diverted by the more serious subject of the attitude taken by England in this quarrel. The concession of belligerent rights was, I found, misunderstood, and was considered as an admission that the Southern States had established their independence before they had done more than declare their intention to fight for it.
It is not within my power to determine whether the North is as unfair to Great Britain as the South; but I fear the history of the people, and the tendency of their institutions, are adverse to any hope of fair-play and justice to the old country. And yet it is the only power in Europe for the good opinion of which they really seem to care. Let any French, Austrian, or Russian journal write what it pleases of the United States, it is received with indifferent criticism or callous head-shaking. But let a London paper speak, and the whole American press is delighted or furious.
The political sentiment quite overrides all other feelings; and it is the only symptom statesmen should care about, as it guides the policy of the country. If a man can put faith in the influence for peace of common interests, of common origin, common intentions, with the spectacle of this incipient war before his eyes, he must be incapable of appreciating the consequences which follow from man being an animal. A war between England and the United States would be unnatural; but it would not be nearly so unnatural now as it was when it was actually waged in 1776 between people who were barely separated from each other by a single generation; or in 1812-14, when the foreign immigration had done comparatively little to dilute the Anglo-Saxon blood. The Norman of Hampshire and Sussex did not care much for the ties of consanguinity and race when he followed his lord in fee to ravage Guienne or Brittany.
The general result of my intercourse with Americans is to produce the notion that they consider Great Britain in a state of corruption and decay, and eagerly seek to exalt France at her expense. Their language is the sole link between England and the United States, and it only binds the England of 1770 to the American of 1860.
There is scarcely an American on either side of Mason and Dixon’s line who does not religiously believe that the colonies, alone and single-handed, encountered the whole undivided force of Great Britain in the revolution, and defeated it. I mean, of course, the vast mass of the people; and I do not think there is an orator or a writer who would venture to tell them the truth on the subject. Again, they firmly believe that their petty frigate engagements established as complete a naval ascendancy over Great Britain as the latter obtained by her great encounters with the fleets of France and Spain. Their reverses, defeats, and headlong routs in the first war, their reverses in the second, are covered over by a huge Buncombe plaster, made up of Bunker’s Hill, Plattsburg, Baltimore, and New Orleans.
Their delusions are increased and solidified by the extraordinary text-books of so-called history, and by the feasts, and festivals, and celebrations of their every-day political life, in all of which we pass through imaginary Caudine Forks; and they entertain towards the old country at best very much the feeling which a high-spirited young man would feel towards the guardian who, when he had come of age, and was free from all control, sought to restrain the passions of his early life.
Now I could not refuse to believe that in New Orleans, Montgomery, Mobile, Jackson, and Memphis there is a reckless and violent condition of society, unfavourable to civilisation, and but little hopeful for the future. The most absolute and despotic rule, under which a man’s life and property are safe, is better than the largest measure of democratic freedom, which deprives the freeman of any security for either. The state of legal protection for the most serious interests of man, considered as a civilised and social creature, which prevails in America, could not be tolerated for an instant, and would generate a revolution in the worst governed country in Europe. I would much sooner, as the accidental victim of a generally disorganized police, be plundered by a chance diligence robber in Mexico, or have a fair fight with a Greek Klepht, suffer from Italian banditti, or be garotted by a London ticket-of-leave man, than be bowie-knifed or revolvered in consequence of a political or personal difference with a man, who is certain not in the least degree to suffer from an accidental success in his argument.
On our return to the hotel I dined with the General and his staff at the public table, where there was a large assemblage of military men, Southern ladies, their families, and contractors. This latter race has risen up as if by magic, to meet the wants of the new Confederacy; and it is significant to measure the amount of the dependence on Northern manufacturers by the advertisements in the Southern journals, indicating the creation of new branches of workmanship, mechanical science, and manufacturing skill.
Hitherto they have been dependent on the North for the very necessaries of their industrial life. These States were so intent on gathering in money for their produce, expending it luxuriously, and paying it out for Northern labour, that they found themselves suddenly in the condition of a child brought up by hand, whose nurse and mother have left it on the steps of the poor-house. But they have certainly essayed to remedy the evil and are endeavouring to make steam-engines, gunpowder, lamps, clothes, boots, railway carriages, steel springs, glass, and all the smaller articles for which even Southern households find a necessity.
The peculiar character of this contest developes itself in a manner almost incomprehensible to a stranger who has been accustomed to regard the United States as a nation. Here is General Pillow, for example, in the State of Tennessee, commanding the forces of the State, which, in effect, belongs to the Southern Confederacy; but he tells me that he cannot venture to move across a certain geographical line, dividing Tennessee from Kentucky, because the State of Kentucky, in the exercise of its sovereign powers and rights, which the Southern States are bound specially to respect, in virtue of their championship of States’ rights, has, like the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, declared it will be neutral in the struggle; and Beriah Magoffin, Governor of the aforesaid State, has warned off Federal and Confederate troops from his territory.
General Pillow is particularly indignant with the cowardice of the well-known Secessionists of Kentucky; but I think he is rather more annoyed by the accumulation of Federal troops at Cairo, and their recent expedition to Columbus on the Kentucky shore, a little below them, where they seized a Confederate nag.
JUNE 18TH.—The city is content at the evacuation. The people have unbounded confidence in the wisdom of the administration, and the ability of our generals. Beauregard is the especial favorite. The soldiers, now arming daily, are eager for the fray; and it is understood a great battle must come off before many weeks; as it is the determination of the enemy to advance from the vicinity of Washington, where they are rapidly concentrating. But our people must curb their impatience. And yet we dare not make known the condition of the army,—the awful fact which may be stated here—and will not be known until after-years,—that we have not enough ammunition at Manassas to fight a battle. There are not percussion caps enough in our army for a serious skirmish. It will be obviated in a few weeks; and until then I pray there may be no battle. But if the enemy advance, our brave men will give them the cold steel. We must win the first battle at all hazards, and at any cost; and, after that,—how long after? —we must win the last!
TUESDAY, JUNE 18, 1861.
Weather fine but a good deal of excitement on account of a fight over the River at a little Station on the RR called Vienna. Our troops ran into a trap on a train of cars (under a Masked Battery). Lost a number of men (Ohio Regt). Large bodies of troops are expected to move to Fairfax C.H. by tomorrow. The C.S.A. troops must fight or back out as they did at Harpers Ferry. 12th Regt Reviewed by Sec’y of War this afternoon. Was down at “Willards,” quite a crowd there.
The three diary manuscript volumes, Washington during the Civil War: The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865, are available online at The Library of Congress.
18th.—We go to-day to dine with Bishop Meade. He wishes us to spend much of our time with him. He says he must have the “refugees,” as he calls us, at his house. Dear me, I am not yet prepared to think ourselves refugees, for I do hope to get home before long. How often do I think of it, as I left it! Not only blooming in its beauty, but the garden filled with vegetables, the strawberries turning on the vines, the young peach-orchard in full bloom; every thing teeming with comfort and abundance.
But the family is waiting for me ; the carriage is at the door, and my sad thoughts must end.
Night.—The day was passed delightfully; the Bishop, his son, and daughter-in-law, all so kind, hospitable and agreeable. It amused me to see with what avidity the old gentleman watches the progress of events, particularly when I remember how much opposed he was to secession only a few months ago. He clung to the Union with a whole-souled love for all that he had been educated to revere, as long as he could do it; but when every proposal for peace made by us was spurned, and when the President’s proclamation came out, calling for 75,000 troops, and claiming Virginia’s quota to assist in fighting her Southern brethren, he could stand it no longer, and I only hope that the revolution may be as thorough throughout the land as it is in his great mind.
“Mountain View” is beautiful by nature, and the Bishop has been collecting exotic trees and shrubs for many years, and now his collection is perfectly magnificent. This country is so far very peaceful, but we are constantly subjected to the most startling rumours, and the frequent, though distant, booming of cannon is very trying to our nervous and excitable temperaments. Many, so many, of our dear ones are constantly exposed to danger; and though we would not have it otherwise—we could not bear that one of them should hesitate to give his life’s-blood to his country—yet it is heart-breaking to think of what may happen.
Boston, June 18, 1861
Before this reaches you, you will have heard of the miserable affair at Great Bethel which has made so much noise here. You see a Quincy man was killed — young Souther, a brother of our one-armed friend. Our flags out there were hung at half mast for a day and loud swearing, there as elsewhere, was heard at and about Brigadier General Peirce. It was a bad affair and John Palfrey writes that two companies of regulars would have carried the battery with ease, but this is the beginning of our militia generalship and, alas, that this should have been a Massachusetts man. In fact our good old State, which began this war so well, is likely after going up like a rocket to come down like a stick, and she is now rapidly falling behindhand. While other states have sent out from one to twenty regiments of three year men, she has sent out her first only last week and that one under the command of Colonel Cowdin, a notorious incompetent. In fact Gordon’s regiment is the only decent one, so far as I can hear, yet organized in Massachusetts and the others are so wretchedly officered and so thoroughly demoralized already that it will be almost a miracle if the State is not soon disgraced. In fact Andrew does not show that capacity which he gave promise of and his selections of men so far have, I should say, been wretched. I hope the next batch from here which will probably be called for and organized in July and August will show an improvement, and that we shall then send out some superior men, those whom we are now sending out having previously demonstrated their incompetence. . . .
St. Joseph, June 18, 1861.1
Col Curtis ―
Dear Sir: The undersigned, citizens of Missouri, fully aware of the delicate duties enjoined upon you, as the military commander of this post, and feeling a deep solicitude for the preservation of as much peace and quietness among the people in the surrounding country, as the extraordinary circumstances which environ us will allow and in further view of the arrests already made by you; and that the public mind is greatly excited. Men have left their homes, business of every character is paralized and apprehensions entertained that the arrests made by you, in discharge of your military duty are to be indiscriminate and against those who entertain southern sentiments, as well as those found in armed organization against the Government of the United States. We, therefore, respectfully ask that you will communicate to us your views upon this subject; hoping and believing that it will have the effect of quieting the public mind, and allow the farmers to return to their homes, and quietly attend to their farms and gather their harvest which is now ripe and suffering for the want of reapers.
We have the honor to be.
Austin A. King
J. M. Bassett,
H. M. Vories,
R. M. Stewart
1. Printed in the St. Joseph Daily Journal. June 22, 1861.
Secretary af the Treasury, Washington, D. C.
New York, June 18, 1861.
My Dear Sir,—I have the pleasure of handing you inclosed copies of the decrees of the Emperor Napoleon, and of the report of his Minister of Finance, relative to the last national loan of five hundred millions of francs, issued during the last Crimean war.
You will see, thereby, that the subscription was open in all the departments of France for a fortnight at 92 per cent. for 4½ per cent. stock, and 65 25/100 per cent. for 3 per cent. stock, which was about one to one and three-quarters per cent. lower than the stock was quoted on that day in Paris, say 93 per cent. for the 4½ per cent., and 67 25/100 per cent. for the three per cent. Rentes.
The subscription amounted to two billion one hundred and seventyfive million francs, that is to say, more than four times as much as was required; and the amount required was more than filled up by subscriptions of under five hundred francs, Rentes, say about twelve to fifteen thousand francs capital, so that the large subscribers got nothing.
This loan was issued in the midst of the Crimean war, and nine months only after a similar loan of two hundred and fifty millions, which had been taken in the same proportions. You will also see that a sinking fund is attached to this loan.
If our brave army is, as I trust and hope, victorious in its engagements with the rebels in Virginia, there will be no difficulty in negotiating large amounts of Federal stock here and in Europe.
The elastic-energy of the American people makes them desirous to get quickly through their troubles, and I have no doubt that a vigorous prosecution of the war, and a consequent demand for larger appropriations, will be well received by the people.
My last letter from Paris states : “All uneasiness of hostilities in Europe during the present year appear to have disappeared. Our bank is amply supplied with bullion, and the subscription, which has just closed, to an issue of two hundred and forty million francs railway bonds, has so enormously exceeded the amount as to prove to excess that there is plenty of money here which seeks suitable investments.”
New York, June 18, 1861.
As far as it lies in my power, I shall continue to give you the most accurate information of the march of events here. I have already expressed to you, repeatedly, my conviction, that unless aided by the moral support of France and England the Southern rebellion has no chance of success, and must be completely overcome.
General Scott is perfectly confident that by next spring he will have conquered a peace. My short visit to Washington, and the interviews which I had there with the different members of the administration, convince me more and more that the government is determined to carry on the war with the utmost vigor. From what Mr. Seward told me, it would seem that France will act jointly with England in its policy during the present war. I regret this for the reasons which I have already given to you.
England has, by her unfriendly position, lost the good-will of our people and government, who both look, more than ever now, to their old ally, France, and to the sympathy of the Emperor.
The time for his mediation may sooner or later come, and great commercial advantages can be secured by France by holding, for the present, at least, aloof.
It is stated that your government will allow the Southern privateers to run in for supplies, and remain with their prizes twenty-four hours in the French ports. This is very much to be regretted, and I hope, still, that the great powers of Europe will accept the adhesion of our government to the declarations of the Congress of Paris annulling privateering. All the maritime powers would then have outlawed that barbarous mode of warfare, and the ports of France would, of course, remain closed to Jeff. Davis’s privateers.
One of them was captured a few days ago by the United States brig Perry, and her crew are now in irons on board the United States steamer Minnesota. They will be tried as pirates, and if not hung, undoubtedly sentenced to hard labor.
The evacuation of Harper’s Ferry, which was, at first, construed into an attempted attack upon Washington, seems to have been forced upon the rebel troops, who were afraid of having their retreat cut off. They will now concentrate at Manassas Junction, hoping, probably, to get General Scott to attack them there, in the strong intrenchments which they have constructed. That veteran hero is, however, too wise to be led into such a mistake. He knows that they are short of provisions, that the place does not give them a sufficient supply of water, and that, consequently, they will soon be obliged to fall back toward Richmond.
In the mean while the divisions under Generals McClellan and Patterson will come down from the West and Northwest and outflank them, unless they retreat. General Scott is confident of being in Richmond by the end of July.
During my short visit to Washington I saw a good many of our officers and soldiers. The most excellent spirit pervades our whole army. Our troops in Virginia behave with exemplary order, and are gaining the good-will of the inhabitants by the respect they show for all public and private property. Their conduct stands in beautiful contrast with that of the secession troops, who have destroyed about two million dollars’ worth of property around Harper’s Ferry, and who compel the Virginia farmers to sell them provisions against valueless paper of the Confederacy. This state of things ought soon to produce a healthy reaction in the sentiments of the Virginia people.
The election for Members of Congress in Maryland has resulted in the defeat of the whole secession ticket by handsome majorities, yet that State was claimed as hostile to the Union.
New York, June 18, 1861
While I was in Washington I had a two hours’ interview with our Secretary of State. Mr. Seward is clear in the position which he has taken with reference to the rebellion and the attitude into which the recognition of the Southern Confederacy, by any European government, will place the United States.
In that position the people will uphold our government at all hazards. There is no irritation of feeling on the part of the intelligent portion of our people against England, our papers, with one or two exceptions, treat the question very dispassionately, but there is a firm and unalterable determination not to allow a separation of this Union, whatever blood and treasure it may cost to conquer a peace and a reconstruction of the Confederacy.
—Gen. Lyon issued another proclamation to the people of Missouri from his camp at Booneville. He released the prisoners taken in the late engagement, in consideration of their youth and of the deceit that had been practised upon them, simply requiring their pledge not again to bear arms against the United States. His proclamation warned all persons against presuming upon a like clemency in future, as the continuance of treason would certainly render harsh measures necessary.—(Doc. 280.)
—The Federal force at Hagerstown and Williamsport, Md., comprise the Pennsylvania 1st, 2d, 3d, 7th, 11th, 13th, and 24th Regiments, together with the First Rhode Island Regiment, two Regiments of United States Regulars, and seven hundred United States Cavalry. Included in this formidable body are Capt. Doubleday’s corps and McMullen’s Company of Philadelphia Rovers. The portion of the force which forded the river at Williamsport were under command of Gen. Thomas, and comprised the two regiments of regulars and about six hundred of the Rhode Islanders. The men waded through the stream generally up to their hips in water, and occasionally up to their arms. Their passage on the occasion is said to have been a very imposing and spirited spectacle. The men dashed into the stream singing “Dixie” and other popular camp airs with great vim and enthusiasm. —National Intelligencer, June 20.
—Near Conrad’s Ferry, Maryland, the rebels practised upon the Federal troops from the opposite side of the Potomac with three or four 6-pounders. Their fire was returned from the rifle pieces of some twenty picked marksmen, who in the course of their firing brought down one of the enemy’s gunners. The distance across is so great, however, that even rifled muskets are of little avail except by chance shots.—N. Y. Evening Post, June 18.
—The Twenty-Seventh Pennsylvania Regiment (mostly Germans,) Colonel Einstein, about one thousand strong, passed through Baltimore, Md., on the route to the seat of war. They are well armed and equipped, and have entered the service with the spirit of true soldiers. Whilst at Camden, opposite Philadelphia, where they encamped for some time, they were treated with great kindness by the people of that city.—(Doc. 261.)
—A balloon ascension for military purposes took place at Washington. The elevation attained was not very great, though it was perfectly satisfactory as an experiment. The aeronauts were Prof. Lowe, Gen. Burns, of the
Telegraph Company, and H. C. Robinson, operator. The balloon was connected with the War Department by telegraph. The first message ever telegraphed from a balloon was then sent to the President of the United States by Prof. Lowe. It was as follows:
Baloon Enterprise, Washington, June 17.
To The President of the United States:
Sir:—This point of observation commands an area nearly fifty miles in diameter. The city, with its girdle of encampments, presents a superb scene. I take great pleasure in sending you this first despatch ever telegraphed from an aerial station, and in acknowledging my indebtedness to your encouragement for the opportunity of demonstrating the availability of the science of aeronautics in the military service of the country.
T. S. C. Lowe.
—An official order from the Duke of Newcastle, forbidding privateers to enter the ports of Canada, was published in the Montreal (Canada) papers.—(Doc. 262.)
—The Fourteenth Regiment N. Y. S. V. passed through New York City en route for the Seat of War.—The Eighteenth Regiment N. Y. Volunteers left Albany.—(Doc. 268.)
—Capt. Budd, commanding the United States steamer Resolute, arrived at Washington, bringing as a prize the schooner Buena Vista, seized in the St. Mary’s River. He captured two other vessels—namely, the schooner Bachelor and the sloop H. Day. The former had disregarded a warning given several days ago, and had deceived Captain Rowan by false statements, and was found on the Maryland side, opposite Matthias Point, at a place where it was convenient for crossing. They belonged to the same owner. —N. Y. Commercial Advertiser, June 19.
June 17th. If it was any consolation tome that the very noisy and very turbulent warriors of last night were exceedingly sick, dejected, and crestfallen this morning, I had it to the full. Their cries for water were incessant to allay the internal fires caused by “40 rod” and “60 rod,” as whiskey is called, which is supposed to kill people at those distances. Their officers had no control over them—and the only authority they seemed to respect was that of the ” gentlemanly” conductor whom they were accustomed to fear individually, as he is a great man in America and has much authority and power to make himself disagreeable if he likes.
The victory at Big or Little Bethel has greatly elated these men, and they think they can walk all over the Northern States. It was a relief to get out of the train for a few minutes at a station called Holly Springs, where the passengers breakfasted at a dirty table on most execrable coffee, corn bread, rancid butter, and very dubious meats, and the wild soldiers outside made the most of their time, as they had recovered from their temporary depression by this time, and got out on the tops of the carriages, over which they performed tumultuous dances to the music of their band, and the great admiration of the surrounding negrodom. Their demeanour is very unlike that of the unexcitable staid people of the North.
There were in the train some Texans who were going to Richmond to offer their services to Mr. Davis. They denounced Sam Houston as a traitor, but admitted there were some Unionists, or as they termed them, Lincolnite skunks, in the State. The real object of their journey was, in my mind, to get assistance from the Southern Confederacy, to put down their enemies in Texas.
In order to conceal from the minds of the people that the government at Washington claims to be that of the United States, the press politicians and speakers divert their attention to the names of Lincoln, Seward, and other black republicans, and class the whole of the North together as the Abolitionists. They call the Federal levies “Lincoln’s mercenaries ” and “abolition hordes,” though their own troops are paid at the same rate as those of the United States. This is a common mode of procedure in revolutions and rebellions, and is not unfrequent in wars.
The enthusiasm for the Southern cause among all the people is most remarkable,—the sight of the flag waving from the carriage windows drew all the population of the hamlets and the workers in the field, black and white, to the side of the carriages to cheer for Jeff. Davis and the Southern Confederacy, and to wave whatever they could lay hold of in the air. The country seems very poorly cultivated, the fields full of stumps of trees, and the plantation houses very indifferent. At every station more “soldiers,” as they are called, got in, till the smell and heat were suffocating.
These men were as fanciful in their names and dress as could be. In the train which preceded us there was a band of volunteers armed with rifled pistols and enormous bowie knives, who called themselves “The Toothpick Company.” They carried along with them a coffin, with a plate inscribed, “Abe Lincoln, died ____,” and declared they were ” bound” to bring his body back in it, and that they did not intend to use muskets or rifles, but just go in with knife and six-shooter, and whip the Yankees straight away. How astonished they will be when the first round shot flies into them, or a cap full of grape rattles about their bowie knives.
At the station of Grand Junction, north of Holly Springs, which latter is 210 miles north of Jackson, several hundreds of our warrior friends were turned out in order to take the train north-westward for Richmond, Virginia. The 1st Company, seventy rank and file, consisted of Irishmen armed with sporting rifles without bayonets. Five-sixths of the 2nd Company, who were armed with muskets, were of the same nationality. The 3rd Company were all Americans. The 4th Company were almost all Irish. Some were in green others were in grey, the Americans who were in blue had not yet received their arms. When the word fix bayonets was given by the officer, a smart keen-looking man, there was an astonishing hurry and tumult in the ranks.
“Now then, Sweeny, whar are yes dhriven me too? Is it out of the redjmint amongst the officers yer shovin’ me?”
“Sullivan, don’t ye hear we’re to fix beenits?”
“Sarjent, jewel, wud yes ayse the shtrap of me baynit?”
“If ye prod me wid that agin, I’ll let dayloite into ye.”
The officer, reading, “No 23, James Phelan.”
Officer again, “No. 23, James Phelan.”
Voice from the rank, “Shure, captain, and faix Phelan’s gone, he wint at the last depot.”
“No. 40, Miles Corrigan.”
Voice further on, ” He’s the worse for dhrink in the cars, yer honour, and says he’ll shoot us if we touch him; ” and so on.
But these fellows were, nevertheless, the material for fighting and for marching after proper drill and with good officers, even though there was too large a proportion of old men and young lads in the ranks. To judge from their dress these recruits came from the labouring and poorest classes of whites. The officers affected a French cut and bearing with indifferent success, and in the luggage vans there were three foolish young women with slop-dress imitation clothes of the Vivandière type, who, with dishevelled hair, dirty faces, and dusty hats and jackets, looked sad, sorry, and absurd. Their notions of propriety did not justify them in adopting straps, boots, and trousers, and the rest of the tawdry ill-made costume looked very bad indeed.
The train which still bore a large number of soldiers for the camp of Corinth, proceeded through dreary swamps, stunted forests, and clearings of the rudest kind at very long intervals. We had got out of the cotton district and were entering poorer soil, or land which, when cleared, was devoted to wheat and corn, and I was told that the crops ran from forty to sixty bushels to the acre. A more uninteresting country than this portion of the State of Mississippi I have never witnessed. There was some variety of scenery about Holly Springs where undulating ground covered with wood, diversified the aspect of the flat, but since that we have been travelling through mile after mile of insignificantly grown timber and swamps.
On approaching Memphis the line ascends towards the bluff of the Mississippi, and farms of a better appearance come in sight on the side of the rail; but after all I do not envy the fate of the man who, surrounded by slaves and shut out from the world, has to pass his life in this dismal region, be the crops never so good.
At a station where a stone pillar marks the limit between the sovereign State of Mississippi and that of Tennessee, there was a house two stories high, from the windows of which a number of negro girls and young men were staring on the passengers. Some of them smiled, laughed, and chatted, but the majority of them looked gloomy and sad enough. They were packed as close as they could, and I observed that at the door a very ruffianly looking fellow in a straw hat, long straight hair, flannel shirt, and slippers, was standing with his legs across and a heavy whip in his hand. One of the passengers walked over and chatted to him. They looked in and up at the negroes and laughed, and when the man came near the carriage in which I sat, a friend called out, “Whose are they, Sam?” “He’s a dealer at Jackson, Mr. Smith. They’re as prime a lot of fine Virginny niggers as I’ve seen this long time, and he wants to realise, for the news looks so bad.”
It was 1.40 p.m. when the train arrived at Memphis. I was speedily on my way to the Gayoso House, so called after an old Spanish ruler of the district, which is situated in the street on the bluff, which runs parallel with the course of the Mississippi. This resuscitated Egyptian city is a place of importance, and extends for several miles along the high bank of the river, though it does not run very far back. The streets are at right angles to the principal thoroughfares, which are parallel to the stream; and I by no means expected to see the lofty stores, warehouses, rows of shops, and handsome buildings on the broad esplanade along the river, and the extent and size of the edifices public and private in this city, which is one of the developments of trade and commerce created by the Mississippi. Memphis contains nearly 30,000 inhabitants, but many of them are foreigners, and there is a nomad draft into and out of the place, which abounds in haunts for Bohemians, drinking and dancing-saloons, and gaming-rooms. And this strange kaleidoscope of negroes and whites of the extremes of civilisation in its American development, and of the semi-savage degraded by his contact with the white; of enormous steamers on the river, which bears equally the dug-out or canoe of the black fisherman; the rail, penetrating the inmost recesses of swamps, which on either side of it remain no doubt in the same state as they were centuries ago; the roll of heavily-laden waggons through the streets; the rattle of omnibuses and all the phenomena of active commercial life before our eyes, included in the same scope of vision which takes in at the other side of the Mississippi lands scarcely yet settled, though the march of empire has gone thousands of miles beyond them, amuses but perplexes the traveller in this new land.
The evening was so exceedingly warm that I was glad to remain within the walls of my darkened bedroom. All the six hundred and odd guests whom the Gayoso House is said to accommodate were apparently in the passage at one time. At present it is the headquarters of General Gideon J. Pillow, who is charged with the defences of the Tennessee side of the river, and commands a considerable body of troops around the city and in the works above. The house is consequently filled with men in uniform, belonging to the General’s staff or the various regiments of Tennessee troops.
The Governors and the Legislatures of the States, view with dislike every action on the part of Mr. Davis which tends to form the State troops into a national army. At first, indeed, the doctrine prevailed that troops could not be sent beyond the limits of the State in which they were raised—then it was argued that they ought not to be called upon to move outside their borders; and I have heard people in the South inveighing against the sloth and want of spirit of the Virginians, who allowed their State to be invaded without resisting the enemy. Such complaints were met by the remark that all the Northern States had combined to pour their troops into Virginia, and that her sister States ought in honour to protect her. Finally, the martial enthusiasm of the Southern regiments impelled them to press forward to the frontier, and by delicate management, and the perfect knowledge of his countrymen which Mr. Jefferson Davis possesses, he is now enabled to amalgamate in some sort the diverse individualities of his regiments into something like a national army.
On hearing of my arrival, General Pillow sent his aide-de-camp to inform me that he was about starting in a steamer up the river, to make an inspection of the works and garrison at Fort Randolph and at other points where batteries had been erected to command the stream, supported by large levies of Tennesseans. The aide-de-camp conducted me to the General, whom I found in his bedroom, fitted up as an office, littered with plans and papers. Before the Mexican war General Pillow was a flourishing solicitor, connected in business with President Polk, and commanding so much influence that when the expedition was formed he received the nomination of brigadier-general of volunteers. He served with distinction and was severely wounded at the battle of Chapultepec and at the conclusion of the campaign he retired into civil life, and was engaged directing the work of his plantation till this great rebellion summoned him once more to the field.
Of course there is, and must be, always an inclination to deride these volunteer officers on the part of regular soldiers; and I was informed by one of the officers in attendance on the General that he had made himself ludicrously celebrated in Mexico for having undertaken to throw up a battery which, when completed, was found to face the wrong way, so that the guns were exposed to the enemy. General Pillow is a small, compact, clear-complexioned man, with short grey whiskers, cut in the English fashion, a quick eye, and a pompous manner of speech; and I had not been long in his company before I heard of Chapultepec and his wound, which causes him to limp a little in his walk, and gives him inconvenience in the saddle. He wore a round black hat, plain blue frock coat, dark trousers, and brass spurs on his boots; but no sign of military rank. The General ordered carriages to the door, and we went to see the batteries on the bluff or front of the esplanade, which are intended to check any ship attempting to pass down the river from Cairo, where the Federals under General Prentiss have entrenched themselves, and are understood to meditate an expedition against the city. A parapet of cotton bales, covered with tarpaulin, has been erected close to the edge of the bank of earth, which rises to heights varying from 60 to 150 feet almost perpendicularly from the waters of the Mississippi, with zigzag roads running down through it to the landing-places. This parapet could offer no cover against vertical fire, and is so placed that well-directed shell into the bank below it would tumble it all into the water. The zigzag roads are barricaded with weak planks, which would be shivered to pieces by boat-guns; and the assaulting parties could easily mount through these covered ways to the rear of the parapet, and up to the very centre of the esplanade.
The blockade of the river at this point is complete; not a boat is permitted to pass either up or down. At the extremity of the esplanade, on an angle of the hank, an earthen battery, mounted with six heavy guns, has been thrown up, which has a fine command of the river; and the General informed me he intends to mount sixteen guns in addition, on a prolongation of the face of the same work.
The inspection over, we drove down a steep road to the water beneath, where the Ingomar, a large river steamer, now chartered for the service of the State of Tennessee, was lying to receive us. The vessel was crowded with troops—all volunteers, of course—about to join those in camp. Great as were their numbers, the proportion of the officers was inordinately large, and the rank of the greater number preposterously high. It seemed to me as if I was introduced to a battalion of colonels, and that I was not permitted to pierce to any lower strata of military rank. I counted seventeen colonels, and believe the number was not then exhausted.
General Clarke, of Mississippi, who had come over from the camp at Corinth, was on board, and I had the pleasure of making his acquaintance. He spoke with sense and firmness of the present troubles, and dealt with the political difficulties in a tone of moderation which bespoke a gentleman and a man of education and thought. He also had served in the Mexican war, and had the air and manner of a soldier. With all his quietness of tone, there was not the smallest disposition to be traced in his words to retire from the present contest, or to consent to a reunion with the United States under any circumstances whatever. Another general, of a very different type, was among our passengers—a dirty-faced, frightened-looking young man, of some twenty-three or twenty-four years of age, redolent of tobacco, his chin and shirt slavered by its foul juices, dressed in a green cutaway coat, white jean trousers, strapped under a pair of prunella slippers, in which he promenaded the deck in an Agag-like manner, which gave rise to a suspicion of bunions or corns. This strange figure was topped by a tremendous black felt sombrero, looped up at one side by a gilt eagle, in which was stuck a plume of ostrich feathers and from the other side dangled a heavy gold tassel. This decrepit young warrior’s name was Ruggles or Struggles, who came from Arkansas, where he passed, I was informed, for ” quite a leading citizen.”
Our voyage as we steamed up the river afforded no novelty, nor any physical difference worthy of remark, to contrast it with the lower portions of the stream, except that upon our right hand side, which is, in effect, the left bank, there are ranges of exceedingly high bluffs, some parallel with and others at right angles to the course of the stream. The river is of the same pea-soup colour with the same masses of leaves, decaying vegetation, stumps of trees, forming small floating islands, or giant cotton-tree, pines, and balks of timber whirling down the current. Our progress was slow; nor did I regret the captain’s caution, as there must have been fully nine hundred persons on board; and although there is but little danger of being snagged in the present condition of the river, we encountered now and then a trunk of a tree, which struck against the bows with force enough to make the vessel quiver from stem to stern. I was furnished with a small berth, to which I retired at midnight, just as the Ingomar was brought to at the Chickasaw Bluffs, above which lies Camp Randolph.
My dear Eliza: You must feel that I am ready and glad to go anywhere and at any time with you and dear Joe. You will probably go with him to Washington, at any rate. You and I could be companions for each other at the hotel as long as the regiment camps near the city, and, judging from the way the other regiments have been disposed of, that is likely to be the arrangement for them for some time. We should be able to see them every day and perhaps go even farther south. Since Joe has taken the sick under his care we perhaps shall be able to be a part of the regiment, as other women have been, and may keep together in this way, doing what we can.
You know we three have travelled over rough roads together before, and have now only to take up our little bundles and commence our march again. We shall like it and we will do it if possible. Two of our bands of nurses have been sent on from the Hospital already, and with a letter of introduction from our association (which is accepted by government) I shall probably be able to go where I please, as far south as hospitals have been established; and so we may be able perhaps to keep up with the Sixteenth. If you can, don’t you think you had better come down and be introduced to Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell and others, and go for a few days to one of the hospitals opened to us, so that you may be able to give references from our association, if necessary? It may save you some delay and be useful to you in other ways. I am ready, or shall be at the shortest notice, to do as you say. I cannot tell you how we all feel about this. We shall try and not feel at all, only our hearts are with you and Joe always.
(from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated History of the Civil War…, edited by Louis Shepheard Moat, Published by Mrs. Frank Leslie,New York, 1895; originally published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, June 29, 1861)
“General Schenck and four companies of the First Ohio Regiment were approaching Vienna, Va., on June 17th, 1861, by railroad, when, on turning a curve, they were fired upon by masked batteries of three guns, with shells, round shot and grape, killing and wounding the men on the platform and in the cars before the train could be stopped. The engine then became damaged and could not draw the train out of the fire, so the soldiers left the cars and retired through the woods. They retreated slowly, bearing off the wounded about five miles away, where they made a stand, awaiting re-enforcements.”
JUNE 17TH—To-day there was a rumor in the streets that Harper’s Ferry had been evacuated by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, and, for the first time, I heard murmurs against the government. So far, perhaps, no Executive had ever such cordial and unanimous support of the people as President Davis. I knew the motive of the evacuation, and prepared a short editorial for one of the papers, suggesting good reasons for the retrograde movement; and instancing the fact that when Napoleon’s capital was surrounded and taken, he had nearly 200,000 men in garrison in the countries he had conquered, which would have been ample for the defense of France. This I carried to the Secretary at his lodgings, and he was so well pleased with it he wanted me to accompany him to the lodgings of the President, in the same hotel, and show it to him.
This I declined, alleging it might be too late for the press. He laughed at my diffidence, and disinclination on such occasions to approach the President. I told him my desire was to serve the cause, and not myself. I suppose he was incredulous.
The Ohio Corps near Vienna, in a valley through which runs the railroad, on which the skirmish took place, a beautiful and romantic spot, but hardly a safe position against surprise, in the foreground is a scouting party in search of secessionists a great deal of this part of Virginia seems to be good farming land a great deal of wheat and other cereals being grown . . . Waud. (Inscribed on back of drawing)
Drawing by Alfred R. Waud on olive paper : pencil, Chinese white, and black ink wash
Dated June 17, 1861 (at Library of Congress web page)
Note: This particular article—a document written in 1861—includes terms and topics that may be offensive to many today. No attempt will be made to censor or edit 19th century material to today’s standards.
Southern Confederacy [Atlanta, Ga], July 26, 1861
Approach to Huntsville – A city set on a hill – Female colleges – Female education in Georgia – Texas progress – The penitentiary – Number of convicts – State and foreign representation in the “institution” – The everlasting nigger has the best record – Solitary confinement – Old Sam Houston to take the field in the Confederate Army.
Huntsville, Texas, June 17, 1861.
Editors Southern Confederacy: On yesterday evening I arrived at this place, about which a good deal of interest is sometimes manifested in the Lone Star State, as being that particular locality at which our State prison is situated. As you approach the town upon the North, and first get a view of it, you fully realize the truth that Christ uttered upon the Mount, that a city set upon “a hill cannot be hid.” While you are yet a little distance from it, you have a much better prospect than you can ever get of it again, and your opinion of its beauty is much better than when you enter the very heart of the town itself. The principal buildings make a very good appearance, and one would suppose he were drawing near quite a city; but, without having the census, or the necessary statistics before me, I would set the number of inhabitants down at fifteen hundred.
There is a very good female college here; but what number of students it has, I have not been able to ascertain – but the condition of the institution is represented as very flourishing. The want and scarcity of female colleges in the State, are generally recognized as the most serious obstacles to the progress of Texas; and, although there may be more institutions of this kind than I am apprised of, yet I think there are only three places that can boast of female colleges, and they are Huntsville, Chapel Hill and Fairfield, which last place is in Freestone county, and adjoining Limestone. There are doubtless several excellent schools for ladies in the State; but, if my recollection serves me correctly, there are none of them, except those mentioned, that rise in dignity and importance sufficiently high to be called colleges.
The condition of Georgia at the present time, and the high intellectual culture of her fair daughters, attest the powerful influence that institutions endowed for female education have upon the career and destiny of a people.
But it could not be expected that in such a short time, Texas should be able to rival the older States in the number and excellence of her schools. It was only in 1845 that she established her State Constitution, and, in the same year, she united herself with the United States, which are now the “ilium fuit” of such political dreamers as Seward and Lincoln. In that length of time, she has made rapid strides in civilization and prosperity and wealth are acknowledged facts in political economy. Her railroads are being extended into the heart and center of the State – her towns are rising here and there, dotting the beautiful prairies like “Sea Cybeles, fresh from ocean,” and her common schools are numerous, and of the best character.
But another institution has risen at this place, which also may be set down, in some measure, as a necessary consequence of growth and expansion, and slightly referred to before. I mean the Penitentiary. A great many curious facts may be collated from the reports of the Directors and Superintendents of the several State prisons, and, as Texas is, and has been, the resort of all “nativities,” a few of these curiosities (not natural, animal or vegetable) may possess a passing interest with your readers.
The gentlemanly Superintendent informed me that there were 216 convicts at present.–This is a larger number than in any year since its foundation. Up to the 31st of August, 1859, there had been 412 convicts, in all, since the year 1850, which makes the very decent average of 45 2/3 per year for the said years.
Georgia is an enterprising, energetic State – the Empire State of the South – and Georgians may be curious to know if they have a fair proportion of representatives in this department of the Government – and I am very sorry to say they have. But I think it can be accounted for upon a very rational hypotheses – perhaps I should call it a fact – that they are a people who have progressive notions, upward, onward, keeping pace with the “star of empire;” and this characteristic has led more Georgians than almost any other class of people to come to the “far distant West.” This same characteristic, perhaps, has landed 23 of them in the State prison of Texas; Alabama, ditto; Texas ditto; and Tennessee has outstripped all her sister Southern States, and has 33, (which is a better numerical representation than she used to have in the old United States Congress,) while Kentucky and Virginia, not so high in the pictures, have each 16 here. – The puritanic States of the North are pretty fairly represented, and doubtless the only reason why they have not more here, is because they think it would not be profitable, as they never embark in any enterprise that won’t pay; for they are “indociles paupericue puti,” and for this much, an honest confession would commend them.
It is not to be understood that the States mentioned have the above number of citizens in the penitentiary at the present time, but have had, (including those now in confinement) since 1850. Nearly all the States of the old Union have more or less “nativities” here. Mexico, with her low flung greasers, and her rare and high-strung hidalgoes, has had 92 subjects in the State building, and, to see them as they are, looking so contented, one would imagine that they never had strung their harps and sung such words as these:
“Ay de mi! un ano felice
Parece un soplo ligero;
Pero sin dicha un instante
Ees un siglo de tormento.”
But, passing on, Ireland, next to Mexico, numerically, has 26 Paddies, “all the way from the bogs of ould Ireland;” Germany has 16 dear lovers of sour krout, and sable Africa has only one in the “Huntsville Brick House.”
There was one convict who had been sentenced to solitary confinement for life; but the last Legislature, at its regular term, repealed the law, so far as to allow the Governor, upon a proper representation of the case, to commute the punishment to “hard labor in the penitentiary for life,” which speaks highly for the humanity of that august representative body. Col. Caruthers, the Superintendent, informed me that, by his intercession with the old hero, Sam Houston, (while Sam was Governor,) he succeeded in having the solitary confinement commuted, as the law so wisely prescribes.
There are many things of interest to be seen and found here, the details of which would weary you; but this I may be permitted to say, that the financial condition of the penitentiary is as good, or better, under old Sam’s administration than it has been for a long time. It could not be otherwise when such efficient officers have been appointed; and this is not written for the purposes of disparaging others that have administered the “machine,” but to do justice. By the way, an intimate friend of his told me that old San Jacinto had written him a letter, in which he said that they would doubtless soon meet in the Southern army in defence [sic] of their common country, and all he (Sam) asked of his bitter foes was to keep up with him, and turn a little of that malignity they had harbored for him against the enemy of our institutions and liberties.
Old Sam will redeem his pledge to take the field. He is a powerful friend, but, if an enemy, he is to be dreaded. Adios. L. J. Farrar.
—A letter from Cronstadt, Russia, written by the mate of a ship, says: “There is a Charleston ship lying alongside of us that hoisted the flag of the Confederate States, and for so doing I understand that the captain was arrested and placed in the guard-house of the Russian officers. They would not acknowledge or in any way recognize the flag of the rebels.” —Boston Journal, July 12.
—Lieut. George H. Butler with others proceeded from Fortress Monroe to Big Bethel to bring away the remains of Major Winthrop. At Little Bethel a picket took their message to Colonel Magruder, who sent Captain Kilsen, of Louisiana, to receive them. Two hours after Colonel Magruder came, and they were handsomely received. With Colonel Magruder were Colonel De Rusey, brother of the Chief of the Engineers at Fortress Monroe, Colonel Hill, of North Carolina, and other late officers of the army. None of Lieutenant Butler’s party were permitted to go near the batteries. The body of Major Winthrop was taken up by Colonel Magruder’s men and escorted to the wagon by a force of three hundred, who fired a volley. Most of them had shot guns. An escort was offered to Hampton, but Lieutenant Butler declined it. Colonel Magruder and others spoke in the highest terms of Major Winthrop’s bravery. He was distinctly seen for some time leading a body of men to the charge, and had mounted a log and was waving his sword and shouting to his men to “Come on!” when a North Carolina drummer-boy borrowed a gun, leaped on the battery, and shot him deliberately in the breast. He fell nearer to the enemy’s works than any other man went during the fight. He wore the sword of Colonel Wardrop of the Massachusetts Third, and it was supposed that it was Colonel Wardrop who fell. The sword was sent to North Carolina as a trophy. —N. Y. Evening Post, June 19.
—In the Wheeling (Va.) Convention Mr. Dorsey, of Monongalia, moved that the Declaration of Independence be put upon its passage, calling for the yeas and nays. It was unanimously adopted: Yeas, 56—not a vote in the negative. Thirty members were absent on leave, and the Declaration was signed by fifty-six, the same number as signed the National Declaration of Independence.—(Doc. 256.)
—Three hundred Federal troops, under Capt. Gardner, of the Pennsylvania First Regiment, had a skirmish at Edwards’ Ferry, with a considerable force of secessionists. The fight lasted nearly three hours, when the rebels fled, having had fifteen to twenty of their number killed and wounded, one private in Capt. Gardner’s command was killed, and three or four were wounded slightly. The fight occurred from across the river. The attack was made by the enemy with a view to taking possession of the Ferry. The news was brought to Washington by Capt. Gardner’s First Lieutenant, who was engaged in the action.—N. Y. Times, June 20.
—This morning, at St. Louis, Mo., a part of Col. Kallman’s Regiment of reserve corps were returning from the North Missouri Railroad, when opposite the Recorder’s Court-room on Seventh street, between Olive and Locust, a company near the rear of the column suddenly wheeled and discharged their rifles, aiming chiefly at the windows of the Recorder’s Court and the second story of an adjoining house, killing four citizens, mortally wounding two, and slightly injuring one. The statements regarding the cause of the firing were very conflicting —one being that a pistol shot was fired from the window of a house on the corner of Seventh and Locust, which took effect in the shoulder of one of the captains, when he gave word to fire; another, that a soldier accidentally discharged his rifle in the ranks, at which the whole company became frightened and discharged a full volley into the crowd on the sidewalk and windows of houses. The Recorder’s, Court was in session, crowded with prisoners and spectators. Police officer Pratt was shot in the side, and died in ten minutes. Deputy Marshal Franzo received three balls in the legs and arms. The window just behind Recorder Peers’ desk was riddled with bullets, and broken glass scattered over his desk.—Sandusky Register, June 18.
—In honor of the day—the anniversary of the battle of Bunker Hill—the Charlestown City Guard, comprising two companies of the Massachusetts Fifth, gave a grand entertainment at their camp near Alexandria, Va. Under the pleasant shade of a luxuriant grove long tables were spread with dainties quite unusual in that part of the land. Many of the dishes were furnished by the generous ladies of Massachusetts, and vividly recalled the good living of that dear old State—ever true to liberty and constitutional law. The edibles disposed of, sentiments were the order of the hour. The memory of Warren was appropriately toasted, and there were a dozen patriotic speeches from the officers and friends of the Guard, which, coming from the shadow of the solid column commemorating the glory of Warren and his heroic comrades, always honor the day with peculiar enthusiasm. At this time, and in sight of the spot where Ellsworth —who has been well denominated the Warren of the great struggle in which we are now involved—gave his life a willing sacrifice to his country, the proceedings of this afternoon were exceedingly fitting—and honorable to the Guard.
At Boston, Mass, the anniversary was observed with more than usual manifestations of patriotism. At the monument in Charlestown there was a civic and military gathering. The Stars and Stripes were raised on a flag-staff about 40 feet above the shaft, making the height 260 feet from the ground. Gov. Andrew and others made eloquent speeches appropriate to the occasion.—Washington Star, June 20.
—Gen. Lyon issued a strong proclamation, pointing out the determined efforts of the Governor and Legislature to force the State out of the Union, and the unconstitutionality of the military bill. He rehearsed the result of the conference with Governor Jackson, and stated that attempts to execute the provisions of the military bill had imposed most exasperating hardships on peaceful and loyal citizens, with persecutions and proscriptions of those opposed to its provisions. Complaints of these acts, he said, had been received by him as commander of the Federal forces, and also sent to Washington with appeals for relief from Union men who, in many instances, had been driven from the State. He gave his orders received from the President, stating that it devolved upon him to stop them summarily by the forces under his command, with such aid as might be required from Kansas, Iowa, and Illinois.—(Doc. 257.)
—An expedition of 300 Zouaves, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Warren, and accompanied by Capt. Smith, of the United States Topographical Corps, left Fortress Monroe to make a reconnoissance in the vicinity of Big Bethel and up the route to Yorktown.—N. Y. Times, June 19.
—At 4 P. M., as a train with telegraph constructors and 660 of the First Ohio Regiment went up the Loudon and Hampshire Railroad, Va., they were fired upon by a rebel battery stationed on a hill at a curve in the road, near Vienna, a small station about 15 miles from Alexandria. The battery consisted of three 6-pounders, and was worked by a company from Alexandria. Its first fire was very destructive. The men were immediately brought out of the car and formed and returned the fire, when, by some mismanagement the train returned to Alexandria and left them. They were however brought off in good order. Six were killed and nine wounded. Two of the wounded subsequently died. The rebels also had six killed. The rebel battery was supported by 800 infantry and 200 cavalry. Directly after the retreat of the Ohio troops, a regiment of South Carolinians, with a battery of six pieces, arrived upon the scene of action. Shortly after their appearance, an alarm was raised by the supposed approach of a large body of Union troops, when the whole rebel force beat a sudden retreat through Vienna, in the direction of Fairfax Court House. A resident of Vienna, who saw them pass two hours after the action, estimated them at two thousand.—(Doc. 258.)
—Near Independence, Missouri, a detachment of Union troops, under Captain Stanley, with a flag of trace, visited the camp of the State troops to ascertain the purposes of Captain Holloway, the rebel officer. During the conference Captain Stanley suspected movements were being made with the design of attacking him, and ordered his detachment to retreat. While retreating they were fired on by the State troops, at an order given by a private; but their fire was so irregular they killed their own commander, Captain Holloway, and J. B. Clanahan, and severely wounded several more of their own men. Captain Stanley’s men did not fire, they having received orders not to do so under any circumstances. Captain Stanley retreated to Kansas City and reported the affair, when Captain Prince, with a strong body of troops, attacked and routed the State forces, capturing thirty horses and a large quantity of baggage.—N. Y. Herald, June 20.
—Gen. Lyon left Jefferson City, Mo., for Booneville. He landed four miles below the town and opened a heavy cannonade against the rebels, who retreated and dispersed into an adjacent wood, whence, hidden by brushes and trees, they opened a brisk fire on our troops. General Lyon then ordered a hasty retreat to the boats; and the rebels, encouraged by this movement, rallied and followed the troops into a wheatfield, and were thus drawn from cover. General Lyon halted, faced his troops about, and, bringing the whole force of his artillery to bear, opened a murderous fire on the rebels, many of whom were killed, and the balance fled in all directions, leaving their arms on the field. General Lyon then moved forward and took possession of Booneville. Governor Jackson viewed the battle from a distant hill, and fled for parts unknown after the defeat of his forces. General Price was not in the battle, and his absence is thus accounted for: Sunday morning the pickets brought a report that seven steamboats were coming up the river with Union troops. A consultation was immefliately had between Gov. Jackson and Gen. Price, and the Governor ordered the State troops to disband, they not being able to sustain themselves against such force. General Price then went home; the troops, however, were determined to have a fight. Col. Marmaduke then became disaffected, and resigned. A few hours later the report about the steamboats proved untrue, and the Governor ordered the troops to prepare for resistance, appointing Mr. Little to command.—There is no reliable account as to the number of killed, wounded, or taken prisoners, though the killed are stated at 800. It is stated that General Lyon’s force had the State troops in a position where they could have killed them in large numbers. He ordered the firing to cease, and halted to make them prisoners.—St. Louis .Republican, June 18.—(Doc. 258½.)
—Col. Boernstein, commanding the Federal force at Jefferson City, Mo., issued a proclamation establishing a Provisional Government in consequence of the absence of the proper authorities. He promised protection to life and property, and urged the Union men, four companies, to assist him.—(Doc. 259.)
—The First Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, pioneers of the three years’ enlistments from that State, arrived at Washington and took quarters in Woodward’s buildings, Pennsylvania avenue. The regiment numbers 1,050 men, and is fully provided with camp equipage—Sibley and Wall tents, army wagons, &c. The uniform is the standard gray, furnished by the State—the muskets the Springfield rifle.
General Patterson crossed the Potomac at Williamsport, and marched down the Virginia banks of the Potomac towards Harper’s Ferry. —National Intelligencer, June 18.
June 16th.—I was compelled to send my excuses to Governor Pettus, and remained quietly within the house of my host, entreating him to protect me from visitors and especially my own confrères, that I might secure a few hours even in that ardent heat to write letters to home. Now, there is some self-denial required, if one be at all solicitous of the popularis aura, to offend the susceptibilities of the irritable genus in America. It may make all the difference between millions of people hearing and believing you are a high-toned, whole-souled gentleman or a wretched ignorant and prejudiced John Bull; but, nevertheless, the solid pudding of self-content and the satisfaction of doing one’s work are preferable to the praise even of a New York newspaper editor.
When my work was over I walked out and sat in the shade with a gentleman whose talk turned upon the practises of the Mississippi duello. Without the smallest animus, and in the most natural way in the world, he told us tale after tale of blood, and recounted terrible tragedies enacted outside bars of hotels and in the public streets close beside us. The very air seemed to become purple as he spoke, the land around a veritable “Aceldama.” There may, indeed, be security for property, but there is none for the life of its owner in difficulties, who may be shot by a stray bullet from a pistol as he walks up the street.
I learned many valuable facts. I was warned, for example, against the impolicy of trusting to small-bored pistols or to pocket six-shooters in case of a close fight, because suppose you hit your man mortally he may still run in upon you and rip you up with a bowie knife before he falls dead; whereas if you drive a good heavy bullet into him, or make a hole in him with a “Derringer” ball, he gets faintish and drops at once.
Many illustrations, too, were given of the value of practical lessons of this sort. One particularly struck me. If a gentleman with whom you are engaged in altercation moves his hand towards his breeches pocket, or behind his back, you must smash him or shoot him at once, for he is either going to draw his six-shooter, to pull out a bowie knife, or to shoot you through the lining of his pocket. The latter practice is considered rather ungentlemanly, but it has somewhat been more honoured lately in the observance than in the breach. In fact, the savage practice of walking about with pistols, knifes, and poniards, in bar-rooms and gambling-saloons, with passions ungoverned, because there is no law to punish the deeds to which they lead, affords facilities for crime which an uncivilised condition of society leaves too often without punishment, but which must be put down or the country in which it is tolerated will become as barbarous as a jungle inhabited by wild beasts.
Our host gave me an early dinner, at which I met some of the citizens of Jackson, and at six o’clock I proceeded by the train for Memphis. The carriages were of course, full of soldiers or volunteers, bound for a large camp at a place called Corinth, who made night hideous by their song and cries, stimulated by enormous draughts of whiskey and a proportionate consumption of tobacco, by teeth and by fire. The heat in the carriages added to the discomforts arising from these causes, and from great quantities of biting insects in the sleeping places. The people have all the air and manners of settlers. Altogether the impression produced on my mind was by no means agreeable, and I felt as if I was indeed in the land of Lynch law and bowie knives, where the passions of men have not yet been subordinated to the influence of the tribunals of justice. Much of this feeling has no doubt been produced by the tales to which I have been listening around me—most of which have a smack of manslaughter about them.
A cool fine day. Nothing particularly new has occured, but matters over the River seem to be coming to a point. Went after up to the camp at Meridian Hill about a mile north. Three Maine Regts are there; [also] the NY 5th (German) and the NY 9th. About 4000 [men?] were on parade while we were there. It was quite a military show. Another Mass Regt came tonight. I did not go down to the Ave tonight. Retired early.
The three diary manuscript volumes, Washington during the Civil War: The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865, are available online at The Library of Congress.
It has been a fine comfortable day with a good breeze. Attended the service at the 12th Regt quarters, the Chaplin (Mathew Hale Smith) officiating. Large numbers of citizens attend every Sunday morning. The Regt is expecting orders every hour to move over the River into Virginia. The Dress Parade was attended by thousands of spectators. Walked down to Willards to hear the news but found not much afloat today, but plenty of reports flying about.
The three diary manuscript volumes, Washington during the Civil War: The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865, are available online at The Library of Congress.
CAMP JACKSON, Sunday, June 16, 1861.
DEAREST L—:—Morning work done and waiting till Dr. Hoge begins, I write to my darling wife and boys. Would you like to know our daily routine. (Mem.:—Colonel King commanding State troops and my superiors, Colonels Rosecrans and Matthews, all having gone home, I am now in command of all at this post, eighteen companies United States troops and sixteen companies State troops, in all three thousand men and upwards. A sudden responsibility for a civilian, but the duties are chiefly such as a civilian can easily do, so it is strange rather in appearance than reality). First, at 5 A. M., gun fired and reveille sounded, calling all men to roll-call. I was up and dressing. Owing to bright light in a tent, sound sleeping in the cool air, etc., etc., this I did not find difficult. In a few minutes all the captains call at my tent to report themselves and the condition of their men.
I sit at a table looking towards the front entrance of the tent; an orderly on my right to go errands; a clerk at a table on the left to write; an adjutant ditto to give orders and help me guess what ought to be done in each case, and a sentinel slowly pacing back and forth in front of the entrance whose main employment is telling men to take off their hats before entering on the surroundings. The first business is looking over the orders of the day, and telling the adjutant to see them carried out. These are as to guards and such, which are stereotyped with slight alterations to suit circumstances—such as guarding wells, fixing new sentinels where men are suspected of getting out, etc., etc. Next comes issuing permits to go out of camp to town and to parties to go bathing in the Scioto one and one-half miles distant. Then comes in, for an hour or more, the morning reports of roll-call, showing the sick, absent, etc., etc., all to be looked over and corrected; and mistakes abound that are curious enough. Once we got all the officers returned as “under arrest.” One captain lost a lieutenant, although he was present as plainly as Hateful W. Perkins was in Pease’s anecdote. Then rations are returned short; on that point I am strong, and as the commissary is clever, we soon correct mistakes. Then we have difficulties between soldiers, very slight and easily disposed of; but troubles between soldiers and the carpenters whose tools disappear mysteriously, and farmers in the neighborhood who go to bed with roosts of barnyard fowl and wake up chickenless and fowlless, are more troublesome. The accused defenders of their country can always prove an alibi by their comrades, and that the thing is impossible by the sentinels whose beat they must have passed.
Since writing the above, I have waited under a tree, with a flag raised, three quarters of an hour for Dr. Hoge’s congregation, but for some reason he did not come, and an audience of one thousand were disappointed, possibly(?), however, not all disagreeably. I have sent five men and a sergeant to arrest two deserters in Columbus (not of our regiment) belonging to Captain Sturgess’ company of Zanesville; one sergeant and two men to see safely out of camp two men who were about to have their heads shaved for refusing to take the oath of allegiance; a lieutenant and ten men to patrol the woods back of the camp, to prevent threatened depredations on a farmer. This all since I began writing. The wind is rising and the dust floats in on my paper, as you see. As yet, we eat our meals at Colonel King’s quarters—plain good living. Guard-mounting is a ceremonious affair at 9 A. M. At 12 M., drum-beat and roll-call for dinner; at 6 P. M., ditto for supper; at 7 P. M., our band calls out the regiment for a parade; not yet a “dress parade,” but a decidedly imposing affair, notwithstanding. The finale is at 10 P.M.
The evenings and night are capital. The music and hum, the cool air in the tent, and open-air exercise during the day, make the sleeping superb. We have cots about like our lounge, only slighter and smaller, bought in Dayton. Our men are fully equal to the famous Massachusetts men in a mechanical way. They build quarters, ditches, roads, traps; dig wells, catch fish, kill squirrels, etc., etc., and it is really a new sensation, the affection and pride one feels respecting such a body of men in the aggregate.
We are now feeling a good deal of anxiety about Colonel Rosecrans. He is said to be appointed a brigadier. If it were to take effect six weeks or three months hence, we would like it if he should be promoted; but now we fear some new man over us who may not be agreeable, and we do not like the difficulties attendant upon promotion. The governor says we shall not lose Colonel Rosecrans, and we hope he is right.
I enclose a letter in the Cleveland Herald written by some one in one of our Cleveland companies. With Colonel Rosecrans in command, we should have no trouble with our men. We have reconciled them as, I think, perfectly, or as nearly so as men ever are with their officers. But if Colonel Rosecrans goes, we are between Scylla and Charbydis you know—officers at our head whom we may not like, or men under us who do not like us; but it will all come right. I am glad I am here, and only wish you were here.
I was in at Platt’s last evening an hour or so. Laura was expecting Platt by the late train, but as he has not yet come out here, I suspect he did not arrive. Love to all. Kiss the boys. I enjoyed reading your talk about them and their sayings.
R. B. HAYES.
16th.—Rumours are abundant to-day of a Federal force approaching Strasburg. We are not at all credulous of the flying reports with which our ears are daily pained, and yet they make us restless and uneasy. We thank God and take courage from the little successes we have already had at Pigs Point, Acquia Creek, Fairfax Court-House, and Philippi. These are mere trifles, they say; well, so they are, but they are encouraging to our men, and show that we can hold our own.
A most decided revolution is going on in our social system throughout our old State: economy rules the day. In this neighbourhood, which has been not a little remarkable for indulging in the elegancies of life, they are giving up desserts, rich cake, etc. The wants of the soldiers are supplied with a lavish hand, but personal indulgences are considered unpatriotic. How I do admire their self-denying spirit! I do not believe there is a woman among us who would not give up every thing but the bare necessaries of life for the good of our cause.
16th, Night.—I can scarcely control myself to sit quietly down and write of the good news brought by the mail of to-day; I mean the victory—on our side almost bloodless victory—at Bethel. It took place on the 10th. Strange that such brilliant news was so long delayed! The enemy lost 200 men, and we but one. He, poor fellow, belonged to a North Carolina regiment, and his bereaved mother received his body. She lives in Richmond. It seems to me that Colonel Magruder must have displayed consummate skill in the arrangement of his little squad of men. His ” blind battery ” succeeded admirably. The enemy had approached in two parties from Fortress Monroe, and, by mistake, fired into each other, causing great slaughter. They then united and rushed into the jaws of death, or, in other words, into the range of the guns of the blind battery. I feel sorry, very sorry, for the individual sufferers among the Yankees, particularly for those who did not come voluntarily; but they have no business here, and the more unsuccessful they are the sooner their government will recall them. I do believe that the hand of God was in this fight, we were so strangely successful. How we all gathered around M. M. as she read the account given in the paper; and how we exulted and talked, and how Mr. P. walked backwards and forwards, rubbing his hands with delight!
The camp at Harper’s Ferry is broken up. General Johnston knows why; I am sure that I do not. He is sending out parties of troops to drive off the Yankees, who are marauding about the neighbouring counties, but who are very careful to keep clear of the “Ferry.” The Second Regiment, containing some of our dear boys, has been lately very actively engaged in pursuit of these marauders, and we are kept constantly anxious about them.