The Civil War in AmericaThe Illustrated London News, vol. 38, no. 1093, pp. 544-545.
June 15, 1861
We have important intelligence from the States, the latest dates being to the 1st inst. from New York. The North, as will be seen by the accompanying details, is preparing in right earnest for the contest; and on the part of the South such casual glimpses as we catch of its doings show us that a like activity prevails. When the crisis arrives it will evidently be terrible.
Virginia is still the main theatre of the war. On the 24th the pickets of the Federal troops near Alexandria were attacked by the Confederates, and it was thought in Washington that an engagement was taking place. Troops were hurried over the Potomac, but found that their services were not wanted, as the enemy had retired the moment the Federals showed themselves in force. The regiments stationed on Arlington heights are throwing up intrenchments, the 69th (Irish) having already formed an earthwork one mile long and seven feet high.
The Confederates are fortifying themselves at Manassas Gap, a station twenty-seven miles from Alexandria on the railway connecting Richmond with the important military post at Harper's Ferry.
There is no change in the condition of things at Harper's Ferry, except that the Confederates have blasted a lot of rock on to the Baltimore and Ohio line at the Point of Rocks, ten miles east of the ferry. A telegram to Halifax announces that some Ohio regiments have taken possession of Grafton, in North-western Virginia—an important point, whence the Parkersburg and Wheeling branches of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad diverge.
A Federal regiment had landed at Acquia Creek, a point on the southern bank of the Potomac, without opposition.
The most important advance reported by the last mails is that of General Butler, who, with a force of 2500 men from Fort Monroe, had made their way up Hampton Roads, and intrenched themselves at New Point, which is about six miles from Hampton. This body commands the mouth of the James River, which is the water route to Richmond; but General Butler is of opinion that no general movement should be made in this quarter with less than 15,000 men. At Fort Monroe he has only 6000 at present. When he is reinforced he will probably attack Norfolk and Sewell's Point simultaneously.
Thus Virginia is invaded at three points—in the east, at Norfolk; in the centre, at Alexandria and Acquia Creek; in the west, at Grafton. The Confederates are concentrated at four points—Norfolk, Harper's Ferry, Manassas Gap, and Richmond, the capital of the State.
The blockading squadron in the Chesapeake reports the number of their captures at twenty-three. The Minnesota had left the Chesapeake to renew the blockade at Charleston; and a telegram to Halifax announces that New Orleans, the most important Southern port, was sealed up on the 28th ult.
The attitude of the Federal Generals towards the slaves in Virginia is worth observing. General Sandford, commanding the troops in the centre, has issued a proclamation offering protection to all loyal citizens and their property, which means slaves. General Butler refuses to deliver up three fugitive slaves, on the ground that they may be employed by the enemy in throwing up earthworks, and so are contraband of war, unless the owner will come forward and swear allegiance to the United States. On hearing of this decision the slaves of the vicinity commenced flocking in to the camp at Fort Monroe. Soon General Butler found himself surrounded by 450 fugitives. He made application to the Government to know what to do with them. The Secretary of War replied that the General must detain them for the present and not allow them to escape; set them to work, and keep an account of the amount of work done and the cost of their keep. Their ultimate disposition would be a matter for determination hereafter.
Twenty counties in Western Virginia gave large majorities against the Secession Ordinance. In Eastern or Upland Tennessee the Unionists, under the lead of Emerson Etheridge and Andrew Johnson, are active in denouncing the folly of seceding.
The Legislature of Arkansas has passed a law ordering all citizens to pay the debts due to Northern creditors to the State Treasurer, and to no one else.
All idea of attacking Fort Pickens seems to have been abandoned. The causes which have prompted the relinquishment of this project have been well stated by the special correspondent of the Times.
The New Orleans papers report the capture of seven Northern prizes by some of the privateer steamers which constitute the small navy of the Confederates. The cotton ships detained on the bar of the Mississippi got off before the arrival of the blockading squadron.
A negro conspiracy was recently discovered in Des Arc, Arkansas. One white man and three negroes were hanged, three more negroes banished, and a number of others was severely whipped.
In Tennessee the hay and corn crop is reported to be attacked by worms; but the wheat crop is safe. Mr. Wright's Circular speaks thus of the coming cotton crop:—"The growing crop does not promise well so far; too much rain has fallen. The plant looks sickly, in such portion at least of the cotton region as has been passed recently by travellers. The idea is general that a large crop has not been planted; that in former years the land in corn was only seen here and there, whereas this season corn is seen in greater and cotton in less abundance."
The mails to and from all the Seceding States, except Western Virginia and Tennessee, were to be stopped by the Federal Government on the 31st ult. This measure will henceforth cut off the connection between the Times and its special correspondent, unless Mr. Russell's ingenuity open up a new route.
The Baltimore correspondent of the New York Tribune writes of the Marylanders, "No one is to be trusted who belongs to the soil, except it be the Republicans, but they have been peeled, and scattered, and driven out by the conduct of the (city) Government towards them."
A collision between the civil and military authorities has already come to pass in Maryland. The Federal troops arrested one John Merryman for having burnt a railway bridge during the tumultuous days of April. Merryman pleads the authorisation of the Governor of the State; nevertheless he is arrested, and lodged in Fort M'Henry. His friends apply to Chief Justice Taney, of the Supreme Court of the United States, for a writ of habeas corpus. The Chief Justice issues it. General Cadwallader refuses to obey it, and so the matter stands. The United States' Constitution is suspended for the present in Maryland.
The War Department has instructed a commission to examine the telegraphic despatches recently seized by the Government, and after having selected those of a treasonable character, to reseal and return those relating to mere business transactions. All the despatches seized would be sent to Washington to be examined.
The President has raised Col. Freemont to the rank of Major-General.
The Federal Government have given orders for building thirty to forty gun boats. At all the arm-manufactories, arsenals, and navy-yards of the Government the greatest activity prevails.
The Secretary of State refuses passports to Southern gentlemen of Secessionist principles who are desirous of travelling in Europe.
The Secretary of the Treasury has effected his loan for 9,000,000 dollars at the following rates. He accepted all bids for the Six per Cent Bonds placed at 85 and upwards, and awarded the remainder to the bidders for Treasury notes at or above par. There were awarded of the Bonds 6,753,000 dollars; of the Treasury notes, 2,241,000.
The Northern journals are made still more angry than before by the Queen's proclamation of neutrality. The New York Times, an influential journal, states that England had more right to recognise the Hungarian nation during the revolution of 1848 and 1849 than the
Page 545present Southern Confederacy. "Nothing that England can now offef [sic] of sympathy, or hereafter of pious congratulation at the triumph or [sic] liberty and government, can remove the conviction implanted in the minds of our people of the base selfishness, the canting hypocrisy, of her governing classes. She has lost in American affairs a golden opportunity of centuries, and it will never come again." The editor concludes a long article by stating that centuries of kind relations will never wipe from American memories the recollection of that crisis of supreme danger to the very existence of liberty and law in America in which the English people had nothing to offer but fears for their cotton supply and sympathy with American slaveholders.
The same journal is almost as bitter against France for her neutral attitude, but the tirade is not so long. It says:—"This willful ignoring of the lofty claims of the American Government, this indifferent choosing between Christ and Barabbas, will not strengthen the regard we are accustomed to entertain for the people and Government of France. It might even appear advisable to withdraw the exequatur of all the French Consuls in the Seceding States. Our business in this deplorable contest is to prove that we have a Government—a proof that seems to be as much needed at Paris as at New Orleans."
The Boston journals are more moderate that those of New York, and maintain a better temper and higher tone.
The Legislature of Iowa desires to raise money to equip her regiments, but finds that the constitution of the State forbids them to sanction a loan for more than 250,000 unless to repel invasion. Under these circumstances the legislators are trying hard to persuade themselves that an invasion from Missouri is imminent.
Telegrams from Chigaco [sic] announce that Senator Douglas is dying of cancer in the stomach.
Overland advices from San Francisco are to the 18th ult. Trade was fairly active. The rate of insurance on gold and silver bound for Europe or the Atlantic States was 10 per cent. Both Houses of the Legislature had passed resolutions pledging the fealty of the State to the Federal Government, and its readiness to comply with any requisition for aid in suppressing the insurrection. Union meetings were being held almost nightly in all the principal towns and cities. Speeches and resolutions are invariably in favour of a vigorous war policy. Efforts were being made to organise a company of volunteers in San Francisco, to tender their service to the Government[.] A similar organisation was being made at Sacramento.