The Civil War in AmericaThe Illustrated London News, vol. 38, no. 1091, pp. 504-505.
June 1, 1861
Up to the 18th ult., when the City of Baltimore left New York, there had been no collision between the forces assembled in the neighbourhood of Washington. Both sides were active in their preparations. As 31,000 troops are said to be now assembled in Washington, that city may be deemed secure from any attack by the Southerners.
The Legislature of Massachusetts had appropriated 3,000,000 dollars for war purposes, and had authorised the Governor to lend 7,000,000.
The Governor of Maryland had called for four regiments to support the Federal Government within the limits of Maryland, or to protect the capital. Baltimore was occupied by Pennsylvanian troops, and General Scott, it was said, had ordered the occupation of the Arlington heights by Federal artillery. The most important step, however, on the part of the Federal Government was the effective blockade of Charleston by the frigate Niagara.
The Southerners on their side were sending ammunition and heavy ordnance to Harper's Ferry, and had threatened Fort Munroe [sic], but were compelled to retire. It was said that President Davis would command the Southern forces in person.
Virginia has been admitted into the Southern Confederacy, but it is averred that the Unionist feeling is spreading in the State. A convention of representatives of its western division, in which forty counties are represented, is now sitting to consider a proposition for its formation into a separate State, and the Governors of Ohio and Pennsylvania have pledged themselves to support the Unionists in that district. As there are scarcely any slaves in Western Virginia, the new State, if it should be formed, will, in all probability, be a Free State, and will of course join the Federal Union. Meanwhile the blockade of the Virginia waters is complete.
It is stated that the remains of Washington have been removed from Mount Vernon by the Virginians.
The Federal Government has, it is said, notified to the representatives of foreign Powers that it will cease to hold intercourse with any nation which recognises commissioners from the seceding States; and it is reported that the Governors of all the Free Western States have asked for and obtained from President Lincoln a pledge that no compromise or cessation of war shall take place until the national flag floats over all the national property.
The Legislature of Kentucky had approved the Governor's refusal to supply troops to the Federal Government, but determined to maintain neutrality.
From further accounts of the events at St. Louis it appears that the Federal volunteers, some 6000 strong, who were assembled in that city, surrounded, disarmed, and made prisoners some 800 of the Missouri militia, who were encamped in the immediate neighbourhood, on the ground that they cherished purposes hostile to the Union. After the disarming had been effected, pistol shots were fired by some of the crowd of spectators, and a volunteer officer was wounded. He instantly bade his men fire, and the consequence was a volley which seems to have killed or wounded some twenty persons, including women and children. Fierce excitement therefore prevailed among the mob of St. Louis; but further bloodshed seems to have been averted by the vigour of the authorities.
The situation of affairs is thus epitomised in the New York Herald of the 18th ult.:—
No important movement of troops took place at Washington yesterday.
It is rumoured that the French Government has a diplomatic agent now travelling through the South on a tour of observation.
General Scott is busy arresting spies in the Federal capital, many of whom register their names at the hotels as coming from the North. It is probable that these gentlemen will be summarily dealt with.
General Mansfield has issued an order prohibiting Adam's Express Company from carrying any express matter, including letters, further south than Washington.
The Government, in pursuance of its programme, has appointed collectors of customs at the different Southern ports, selecting men who can be relied upon for that office. The duties will be collected on the decks of ships of war at all hazard.
The blockade of Southern ports by the United States squadron appears to be carried out with vigour and promptitude. At Charleston the entrance of three British vessels have been prevented by the frigate Niagara, and another, after being boarded, was allowed to pass up. One ship, however, carrying the British flag succeeded in running the blockade, although she was pursued. She eventually got into shoal water, and was towed up to the city. An important seizure of an outwardbound American ship was made by the gunboat Quaker City at the mouth of the Chesapeake on Tuesday, with a cargo of tobacco for Europe. She was loaded at Richmond, and is valued at 150,000 dols. The vessel proved to be the Arago, belonging to Bath, Maine; and though carrying the United States' flag she was seized, no doubt on the double charge of running the blockade and of treason—in assisting the rebel States, she being a Northern ship. Commodore Stringham put a prize crew on board, and sent her on her way to New York, where she will probably be confiscated. This is the first prize taken by the United States' blockading squadron.
The ports of Florida have been put under blockade since the 6th inst., and the yacht Wanderer, of slave trade notoriety, has been seized off Key West by the Crusader. The steamer City of Richmond, which arrived at Philadelphia last night from Washington, reports having passed the United States' steamer Yankee, thirty miles south of Cape Henlopen, with three prize steamers in charge.
We learn the important intelligence from Havannah that the steam-tug W.H. Webb, which was seized some time since by the rebel authorities while attempting to supply Fort Pickens, and has since been used, no doubt, for privateering purposes, was refused a clearance by the United States' Consul-General of Cuba. She was, however, immediately purchased by some British residents there, and sailed under the English flag.
It is stated that the rebel troops at Harper's Ferry have been actively engaged in throwing up new batteries on the hills for the past few days. They are in expectation of an immediate attack in that quarter.
The Union men in Missouri are acting with great determination. In addition to the capture of the Secession forces at Camp Jackson, a detachment of volunteers, under Captain Cole, surrounded the town of Potosi, where a band of Secessionists were in possession. They were all taken, and the ring leaders sent to St. Louis as prisoners of war. A company of rebel cavalry were also dispersed at De Soto by the same body of Union volunteers and thirty horses captured. If this vigorous course is continued Missouri is very likely to be saved. It is said that the Government have determined to treat Missouri as they have done Maryland, and to this end are about to take charge of the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad for the use of Government.
It is now pretty generally believed that there is some truth in the report of the desecration of Washington's tomb. The Lynchburg Virginian states that the remains have been transferred to Lexington, Virginia, and deposited in a suitable mausoleum there. It is known that a strong guard of Secessionists had been quartered for some days at Mount Vernon, and it is not unlikely that their object was the removal of the body of Washington. [Another account states that the remains were removed by order of Colonel Washington; whilst, according to another report, the rumour of the removal of Washington's remains is said to be totally false.
A collection of official correspondence with the United States' Government respecting the blockade has just been presented to Parliament by command. The practical information it contains is embodied in the following extract from a despatch from Lord Lyons to Admiral Milne, dated Washington, May 11:—
The general result of inquiries made by me or other foreign Ministers here as to the manner in which the blockade will be conducted appears to be—
1. That the date of the commencement of the blockade in each locality will be fixed by the issue of a notice by the commanding officer of the squadron appointed to blockade it. It does not, however, appear to be intended that such notice shall be officially communicated to the Governments of neutral nations, or to their representatives in this country.
2. That fifteen days from the beginning of the effective blockade will be allowed in every case for neutral vessels already in port to put to sea.
3. That until the fifteen days have expired neutral vessels will be allowed to come out with or without cargoes, and whether their cargoes were shipped before or after the commencement of the blockade.
4. That except in the last-mentioned particular the ordinary rules of blockade will be strictly enforced.
6. The armed vessels of the neutral States will have the right to enter and depart from the blockaded ports.
I continue to be of opinion that, provided the blockade be effective, and be carried on in conformity with the law of nations, we have no other course, in the absence of positive instructions from her Majesty's Government, than to recognise it.
Mr. Edward Everett has lately delivered an address on the Union, of which the following is the concluding portion:—
I was willing, while this ill-starred movement was confined to the States of the extreme South, and they abstained from further aggression, that they should go in peace. This course, I thought, would retain the border States and bring back the seceders in a year or two, wearied and disgusted with their burdensome and perilous experiment. Such I understood to have been, in substance, the programme of the Administration. But the South has willed it otherwise. She has struck a parricidal blow at the heart of the Union; and to sustain her in this unnatural and unrighteous war is what my conscience forbids. Neither will I remain silent and see this majestic framework
Page 505of government, the noblest political fabric ever reared by human wisdom prostrated in the dust to gratify the disappointed ambition of a few aspiring men (for that Mr. Vice-President Stephens bravely told his fellow-citizens last November was the cause of "a great part of our troubles"), and this under cover of a sophistical interpretation of the Constitution, at war alike with common sense, with contemporary history, and the traditions of the Government, unsupported by a single authority among the framers of the Constitution, and emphatically denounced by Mr. Madison, their leader and chief.
The Times publishes letters from its Special Correspondent who has been in South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.
Writing from South Carolina on the 30th of April, he says that there is a general feeling among the planters in favour of an English Sovereign:—From all quarters has come to my ears the echoes of the same voice; it may be feigned, but there is no discord in the note, and it sounds in wonderful strength and monotony all over the country. Shades of George III., of North, of Johnson, of all who contended against the great rebellion which tore these colonies from England! can you hear the chorus which rings through the States of Marion, Sumter, and Pickney [sic], and not clap your ghostly hands in triumph? That voice says, "If we could only get one of the Royal race of England to rule over us, we should be content." Let there be no misconception on this point. That sentiment, varied in a hundred ways, has been repeated to me over and over again. There is a general admission that the means to such an end are wanting, and that the desire cannot be gratified. But the admiration for monarchical institutions on the English model, for privileged classes, and for a landed aristocracy and gentry, is undisguised and apparently genuine. With the pride of having achieved their independence is mingled in the South Carolinians['] hearts a strange regret at the result and consequences, and many are they who "would go back to-morrow if we could." An intense affection for the British connection, a love of British habits and customs, a respect for British sentiment, law, authority, order, civilisation, and literature, pre-eminently distinguish the inhabitants of this State, who, glorying in their descent from ancient families on the three islands, whose fortunes they still follow, and with whose members they maintain not infrequently familiar relations, regard with an aversion for which it is impossible to give an idea to one who has not seen its manifestations the people of New England and the population of the Northern States, whom they look on as tainted beyond cure by the venom of "Puritanism." Whatever may be the cause, this is the fact and the effect. The North is to South Carolina a corrupt and evil thing, to which for long years she has been bound by burning chains, while monopolists and manufacturers fed on her tender limbs. South Carolina contains 34,000 square miles and a population of 720,000 inhabitants, of whom 385,000 are black slaves. They entertain very exaggerated ideas of the military strength of their little community, although one may do full justice to its military spirit. Out of their whole population they cannot reckon more than 60,000 adult men by any arithmetic, and as there are nearly 30,000 plantations which must be, according to law, superintended by white men, a considerable number of these adults cannot be spared from the State for service in the open field. The planters boast that they can raise their crops without any inconvenience by the labour of their negroes, and they seem confident that the negroes will work without superintendence. But the experiment is rather dangerous, and it will only be tried in the last extremity.
Writing from Savannah, Georgia, on the 1st ult., Mr. Russell describes a visit to Fort Pulaski, which defends the mouth of the Savannah River and the approaches to the city, and is described as being very strong. The garrison of the fort is 650 men, and fully that number were in and about the work, their tents being pitched inside the Redan or on the terreplein of the parapets. "The channel is very narrow and passes close to the guns of the fort. The means of completing the armament have been furnished by the stores of Norfolk Navy-yard, where between 700 and 800 guns have fallen into the hands of the Confederates; and, if there are no Columbiades among them, the Merrimac and other ships, which have been raised, as we hear, with guns uninjured, will yield up their Dahlgrens to turn their muzzles against their old masters." Among the party were Commodore Tatnall, whose name will be familiar to English ears in connection with the attack on the Peiho Forts, where the gallant American showed the world that "blood was thicker than water;" Brigadier-General Lawton, in command of the forces of Georgia, and a number of naval and military officers, of whom many had belonged to the United States' regular services. Writing on the 2nd, he says there is a sudden change of feeling in favour of peace. Men looked grave and talked about the interference of England and France, which "cannot allow this thing to go on." But the change which had come over them was unmistakable, and the best men begun to look grave. "As for me (he adds) I must prepare to open my lines of retreat—my communications are in danger."
Mr. Russell gives the following as part of the programme of the Southern States of America:—"It is intended to buy up all the cotton crop which can be brought into the market at an average price, and to give bonds to the Confederate States for the amount, these bonds being, as we know, secured by the export duty on cotton. The Government, with this cotton crop in its own hands, will use it as a formidable machine of war, for cotton can do anything, from the establishment of an empire to the securing of a shirt-button. It is at once king and subject, master and servant, captain and soldier, artilleryman and gun. Not one bale of cotton will be permitted to enter the Northern States. It will be made an offense punishable with tremendous penalties, among which confiscation of property, enormous fines, and even the penalty of death are enumerated, to send cotton into the Free States. Thus Lowell and its kindred factories will be reduced to ruin, it is said, and the North to the direst distress. If Manchester can get cotton and Lowell cannot, there are good times coming for the millowners."
Speaking of the issue of letters of marque, the correspondent says:—"But it may be asked, who will take these letters of marque? Where is the Government of Montgomery to find ships? The answer is to be found in the fact that already numerous applications have been received from the shipowners of New England, from the whalers of New Bedford, and from others in the Northern States for these very letters of marque, accompanied by the highest securities and guarantees! This statement I make on the very highest authority. I leave it to you to deal with the facts."
The last letter of the special correspondent of our contemporary is from Montgomery, capital of the Confederate States of America. It is interesting in many ways, describing the state of war preparation and excitement throughout the South. He indicates that there is a change in the tone of the Southrons. Impressed at length by the conviction that the North is united and determined, they now "wish to be let alone," and have given up the idea of attacking Washington or of capturing Fort Pickens. "But the Confederates (he says) are preparing for the conflict, and when they have organised their forces they will make, I am satisfied, a very resolute advance all along the line."
After describing Montgomery, a city of 120,000 inhabitants, the correspondent gives a stirring account of two negro sales which he witnessed on his way to the Capitol, where the Southern Provisional Congress was sitting. The approaches to the Hall are described—"the floor and stairs deeply stained with tobacco-juice." He thus paints the interior:—"Close to the table sit the two or three official reporters and officers of the House. The clerk sits at a desk above this table, and on a platform behind him are the desk and chair of the presiding officer or Speaker of the Congress. Over his head hangs the unfailing portrait of Washington, and a small engraving, in a black frame, of a gentlemen unknown to me. So much for the brick and mortar part of the building. Of its living furniture one might have more to say than I have if he had fuller opportunities; but, as far as I could judge, an assembly of more calm, determined, and judicial-looking men could not be found in any country in the world. No one who casts his eye over those grave heads—some massive and full, others keen, compact, energetic—could doubt that he was in the presence of men with a great work on hand, and with great capabilities for the execution of their task. Seated in the midst of them, at a senator's desk, I was permitted to 'assist,' in the French sense, at the deliberations of the Congress. Mr. Howell Cobb took the chair, and a white-headed clergyman was called upon to say prayers, which he did upstanding, with outstretched hands and closed eyes, by the side of the Speaker. The prayer was long and sulphureous-one more pregnant with gunpowder I never heard, nor could ought like it have been heard since
Pulpit, drum ecclesiastic,
Was beat with fist instead of a stick.
The rev. gentleman prayed that the Almighty might be pleased to inflict on the arms of the United States such a defeat that it might be the example of signal punishment for ever—that this President might be blessed, and that the other President might be the other thing—that the gallant, devoted young soldiers who were fighting for their country might not suffer from exposure to the weather or from the bullets of their enemies; and that the base mercenaries who were fighting on the other side might come to sure and swift destruction, and so on."
An interview with President Davis is thus described:— "The President was engaged with some gentlemen when I was presented to him, but he received me with much kindliness of manner, and when they had left entered into conversation with me for some time on general matters. Mr. Davis is a man of slight, sinewy figure, rather over the middle height, and of erect, soldier-like bearing. He is about fifty-five years of age; his features are regular and well-defined, but the face is thin, and marked on cheek and brow with many wrinkles, and is rather careworn and haggard. One eye is apparently blind, the other is dark, piercing, and intelligent. He was dressed very plainly in a light grey summer suit. In the course of conversation he gave an order for the Secretary of War to furnish me with a letter as a kind of passport in case of my falling in with the soldiers of any military posts who might be indisposed to let me pass freely, merely observing that I had been enough within the lines of camps to know what was my duty on such occasions. I subsequently was presented to Mr. Walker, the Secretary-at-War, who promised to furnish me with the needful documents before I left Montgomery. In his room were General Beauregard and several officers engaged over plans and maps, apparently in a little council of war, which was, perhaps, not without reference to the intelligence that the United States' troops were marching on Norfolk Navy-yard, and had actually occupied Alexandria. On leaving the Secretary I proceeded to the room of the Attorney-General, Mr. Benjamin, a very intelligent and able man, whom I found busied in preparations connected with the issue of letters of marque. Everything in the offices looked like earnest work and business."