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The Civil War in America

The Illustrated London News, vol. 38, no. 1092, pp. 520-521.

June 6, 1861


On the night of the 23rd ult. a considerable portion of the Federal Army concentrated in Washington, and consisting in its in entirety of 25,000 volunteers and 5000 regulars, made their first step in advance, and crossed the Potomac into Virginia. 13,000 troops, consisting of six New York regiments, the New Jersey and Michigan Brigades, and some of the Washington volunteers, now occupy Alexandria, Arlington Heights, and the junction of the Orange and Alexandria and Manassas Gap Railways. They are commanded by Major-General Mansfield. Colonel Ellsworth, the creator of the famous regiment of Chicago Zouaves, and lately of the New York Zouaves, formed from the fireman's brigade of that city, was shot dead by the keeper of an hotel in Alexandria, while descending the stairs of the hotel with a Secession flag in his hand which he had taken from a flagstaff on the roof. The assassin was immediately run through the body by one of Colonel Ellsworth's men. This makes the second Colonel whom the Federal Army has lost in the course of the week, Colonel Vosburgh, of the New York 71st Regiment, having died of inflammation of the lungs, caused by exposure to the weather.

The 1st Michigan Regiment surprised at the railroad station a troop of Virginian calvary, handsomely uniformed. plumed, and accoutred. They were placed on board a steamer and sent to Washington, "there to be dealt with as traitors."

The few Confederate troops in the neighbourhood of Alexandria fled.

General Butler, of Massachusetts, who lately commanded at Annapolis and Baltimore, has been ordered to Fort Monroe, which commands the entrance to Chesapeake Bay. Nine regiments, of 1200 men each, accompanied him thither. General Butler left the fort on the 24th ult. for Sewell's Point, with 4000 men on propellers, for the purpose of demolishing the fortifications between that place and Norfolk. Sewell's Point is situated at the mouth of Elizabeth River. Commodore Stringham, with two frigates, was to conduct the attack on the water side. There were eight batteries and 15,000 Confederate troops between Sewell's Point and Norfolk, so that an engagement was expected.

The Confederate troops are in considerable force at Harper's Ferry. Most accounts place the number at from 9000 to 10,000, with thirty-five pieces of cannon. A battle was anticipated near this point.


The Federal Fleet in the Chesapeake has not been idle. Commodore Stringham, of the frigate Minnesota, stationed off Hampton Roads, reports the capture of thirteen vessels, chiefly laden with tobacco—among others of [sic] the British barque Hiawatha—which had delayed till the fifteen days' grace had expired. The steamer Freeborn on the 19th ult. destroyed a Secessionist battery on Sewell's Point, at the mouth of Elizabeth River. Again no lives were lost, the Confederates scattering in all directions. The same steamer on the Potomac, about ten miles below Fort Washington, captured two schooners with forty recruits for the Confederate Army at Alexandria on board.

Mysteriously enough, the blockade of Charleston has been raised almost as soon as instituted. The blockading vessel, Niagara, has sped southward, and is supposed to be off Savannah. Several British ships have arrived in port, and are obtaining cotton freights at the enormous rate of 2¼d. per pound.

No new Southern seaport has been sealed up during the week; but a New York paper gives a list of thirty-nine vessels ready for blockading purposes, of which eighteen are regular men-of-war and twenty-one irregular and chartered vessels. The only seaports actually blockaded at last advices were those on the Chesapeake. The river blockade on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers has become more stringent. Hitherto provisions had been allowed to pass between the North-western States and Kentucky, a non-seceding and neutral Slave State. As it was discovered that the seceding States were supplying themselves with provisions through the Kentucky ports of Paducah and Columbus, the order has been issued to allow only so much provisions to pass into Kentucky as may reasonably be required for the bona fide consumption of her people.


The Montgomery Congress has ordered the emission of a loan for 50,000,000 dollars. Three-fifths of the amount are to be issued in bonds bearing 8 per cent interest, and redeemable in twenty years, and the remaining 20,000,000 dollars in Treasury notes without interest. The latter provision amounts to an issue of assignats. As only 8,000,000 dollars of the previous loan of 15,000,000 dollars were ever taken, it is not likely that the eight per cent bonds will be any more successful. The State of North Carolina, whose credit has always been well maintained, has voted 5,000,000 dollars for the war. The Secession ordinance has passed the Convention of this State unanimously.

Arkansas was admitted as one of the Confederate States by Congress on the 18th ult.

President Davis has communicated to Congress the correspondence between Judge Campbell, the intermediary, and Secretary Seward, to which he alluded in his recent Message. From this it appears that so late as April 7, the day before the Federal armament left New York for Charleston, Mr. Seward wrote to Judge Campbell, "Faith as to Sumter fully kept; wait and see." A few days previously he had said, "Before that letter reaches Montgomery, Sumter will be evacuated." In justification of Mr. Seward, it is said that the evacuation of both Sumter and Pickens had been agreed upon by the Cabinet, and that their views afterwards underwent a change when they found Northern public opinion was hostile to this policy. Congress adjourned on the 22nd ult. till July 20. The low Tariff Bill had passed.

Fugitives from the far South describe business at Charleston as almost annihilated. Coin was very scarce. Gold only to be had at the banks for the payment of duties, and there at 10 per cent premium. Butter was fetching 75 cents per pound (3s. 1½d.); ham, beef, and mutton from 25 to 30 cents; and flour, 13 dollars per barrel. From Savannah the reports are similar. Bacon, usually at 11 cents per pound, had risen to 18 cents. Provisions were pouring southwards in great quantities from Kentucky. The main reliance of the people was on the coming crops, which are looking splendid. In Georgia the wheat was already ripe, and the farmers gave out that they would have enough for two years. In Texas the grain harvest will be equally fine. Thus the south may be beaten in the field, crippled in her finances, and prevented from raising and selling the next cotton crop, but her exuberant soil and splendid climate will render all the threats to "starve her out" futile.

Texan advices say that Colonel Von Dorn had succeeded in causing the surrender of the remaining Federal troops in Texas. The Texans under General Young were pursuing Captain Montgomery, of Kansas fame, and the Federal volunteers who had made a raid on the northern frontier of Texas. The baggage and ammunition trains were overtaken and seized, with some beeves and horses. Galveston is being fortified by the citizens.

The President has appointed a day of public prayer, humiliation, and fasting, in order to propitiate the goodwill of Heaven in their conflict with the United States.

The Virginians voted on the two ordinances for seceding from the United, and joining the Confederate, States on the 23rd ult. No one doubts that both ordinances were carried, the only interest manifested being the vote in Western Virginia, where Unionists hope to obtain a majority.

The Virginians are liberal enough to acknowledge that the finest regiment of Confederate troops they have yet seen is one of 300 Indians from Cherokee County, North Carolina. Not one of them is under six feet, and the rifle has been their constant companion from infancy. They are stationed near Harper's Ferry.

The Richmond Examiner estimates that the Confederates have 150,000 improved firearms in their possession, of which 135,000 came from the Federal arsenals. In addition, there had been large arrivals of arms at New Orleans. These were shipped from Europe early in April, and consist of over 200,000 muskets and rifles, and ample supplies of powder, percussion-caps, and machines for making the latter.

There is no truth in the rumour that the remains of the great Washington had been disturbed. The announcement that the Southern Congress would remove to Richmond is made without authority, and is improbable, because Richmond is near the frontier, while Montgomery is as safe from invasion as any place in the South can be.

President Lincoln has at length cut off all the postal facilities to the seceded States, so we shall henceforth be more isolated from the South than we have been for the last six weeks. Tennessee is excepted from this decree, her people not having yet ratified the secession ordinance.

Page 521

Mr. Davis's Postmaster-General had previously announced that he would be ready to assume the management of the Post Office by the 1st inst.; but, as no postal treaty can exist between the belligerents, the Southern Postmaster can only provide for domestic postal intercommunication. In pursuance of the same design, Mr. Lincoln has prohibited the private express companies from carrying any express matter, including letters, further South than Washington.


The people of Baltimore, although acquiescent, are far from friendly to the Federal troops. As the latter march through the streets on their way to Washington they are insulted by the populace. The offer of Governor Hicks to raise four Maryland regiments to defend Washington and Maryland only, but not to be employed for the invasion of any other State, has been refused by the Administration. General Cadwallader, of Pennsylvania, commands the department of Annapolis, in place of General Butler.

Governor Magoffin, of Kentucky, has warned both the Federal and the Confederate troops against making any movement on Kentucky soil, and exhorts the Kentuckians to arm in defence of the State policy of "armed neutrality."

The latest intelligence brings us the welcome news that the painful civil discord in Missouri has ended. By a compact between General Harney, commanding the Federal troops, and General Price, commanding the State militia, the latter, comprising 4000 men, have been disbanded, and sent to their homes. Thus Missouri is saved to the Union, and her late rapid progress in material prosperity will recommence.


Although no official announcement has been made of the fact, the Washington correspondents of the New York journals concur in stating that the Administration have agreed to the propositions of the Congress of Paris relative to the rights of neutrals and privateering.


The Northern journals are evidently very anxious concerning the cooperation of the French and British Governments at the present crisis, and their possible course of action. The speech of Lord John Russell acknowledging the Confederate States as "belligerents" has created great and very unreasonable indignation. Many journalists immediately jumped to the erroneous conclusion that Great Britain would open her ports to Southern privateers, and many were the threats that the United States were willing to confront in arms both their old and their new enemy. Englishmen were absurdly accused of sympathising with the slaveowners.

On the 21st ult. the United States' Marshals, by order of the Government, made a sudden an [sic] unexpected descent on every considerable telegraph-office throughout the Free States, and seized the accumulated despatches of the twelve months past. This extraordinary step was taken in order to obtain evidence of the operations of the Southern politicians with their Northern sympathisers. The seizures were made at precisely the same time.

The voluntary public contributions to the war from the Governments, municipal corporations, and individuals of the Free-Labour States amount to nearly 32,000,000 dollars.

News from California to the 8th ult. represents the enthusiasm for the Union as strong in that State, which some persons thought would seize the opportunity to declare its independence. The shipments of treasure from San Francisco are smaller than usual, forwarders being in dread of Southern privateers.

Two grand camps are about to be formed, where volunteers will be received and drilled. One camp will be on Staten Island, New York, and the other at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

The regiment of British volunteers has been raised, accepted, and inspected in New York. Many of the men and officers wear Crimean medals. It is commanded by Colonel Austin, late of H.B.M.'s 56th. Lieutenant-Colonel Torre, late of the 17th; Major Elliot, late of the 15th; Adjutant Hazle, late of the 2nd Rifle Brigade, are the principal officers. Companies, of the same nationality, from Troy and Canada have been mustered into its ranks; and there is also a "Bannockburn Battalion," composed of Scots, and under the command of James C. Robertson, late of her Majesty's Forces in India. On the banner of the legion are the words—"We come to redeem our forefathers," to which the President referred in his interview with Colonel Austin as follows:—"This legion has a political significance which we cannot overlook. It and its motto will be received with cordiality by this nation. Go ahead, Colonel, and recruit!"

It is even said that a regiment of Canadian volunteers has been accepted with much pleasure by Mr. Lincoln! What has become of our neutrality laws?


The Western produce-merchants are shipping 175,000 dollars' worth of grain to the East per diem. It follows that the export business from New York with Europe is very active, although the freights have fallen from 1s. to 5d. per bushel. The first month's operation of the Morrill tariff has not enriched the Federal treasury. In April the duties collected under it at New York were 1,643,261 dollars against 2,444,267 dollars in April of the previous year under the reign of a lower tariff. This tells a tale of the decline of imports.

Of the next cotton crop, Mr. Wright's Weekly Circular says, "We are receiving accounts from various sections of the cotton-growing districts which lead us to the conclusion that less land has been put under cotton cultivation than we had supposed, and that in numerous cases cotton has been plowed in and corn substituted. Our sources of information are naturally curtailed to a large extent."

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