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The Civil War in America

The Illustrated London News, vol. 39, no. 1103, p. 153.

August 17, 1861

By the Montreal Company's steamer North American we have telegrams to the evening of the 3rd inst.


The Confederate army has advanced its pickets to its old positions to the north of Fairfax Court House. It is reported that they are fortifying Fairfax. The Northern army "of the Potomac" keeps within its intrenchments on the south side of the Potomac, and is undergoing the process of reoganisation, under the vigorous superintendence of General M'Clellan, who is invested with all the powers of Commander-in-Chief within the military department of Columbia. The three-months regiments have gone or are going home, and are replaced by the volunteers for three years. General M'Clellan has issued an order commanding the instant return to their several camps of the officers and soldiers scattered round Washington at hotels and boarding-houses, and appointing a provost-marshal to carry out this order. The latter had already closed up the drinking-saloons in the capital, and the drunkenness and disorderly conduct of late so rife in the camp had begun to diminish. The sanitary commission had presented their first report. It represents the personal habits of the men as filthy in the extreme, that the camps are all undrained, and that the sinks are in an intolerable condition. The supply of food by the Federal Government is excellent and varied. The clothing of some of the regiments furnished by the States is very poor, but that furnished by the Federal Government is described as good as can be desired.


The army of the Upper Potomac, under the command of General Banks, has retired into Maryland, as Mr. Banks judged Harper's Ferry to be untenable.

General Butler, stationed at Fort Monrose [sic], fearing an attack, has evacuated Hampton, burning that village on his retreat.

The report of the defeat of the Confederate army in Western Virginia, near Clarksburg, was unfounded; but General Wise when last heard of was in full retreat, throwing logs of trees athwart the roads to impede the pursuit of General Rosencrantz at the head of the Union forces.

In Missouri there have been some minor engagements, resulting to the advantage of the Unionists. General Pillow, commanding the Confederates at Memphis, has issued a proclamation stating that he will bring 20,000 men to the aid of the Secessionists of Missouri.


An official account of this battle has not yet been published, and perhaps never will be. An incomplete statement of the Federal losses makes up, killed, 280; wounded, 729; missing, 477—total, 1486. The Confederates acknowledge a loss in killed, wounded, and missing, of 1500 men. The Northern wounded are being well treated in the hospitals at Richmond. Among the prisoners was Mr. Ely, member of Congress, from New York. The loss fell heavily on the officers of the Federal army. The killed include two colonels, one lieutenant-colonel, two majors, sixteen captains, and seven lieutenants; and the wounded two acting majors-general, eight colonels, one lieutenant-colonel, three majors, sixteen captains, and thirty-three lieutenants.


Mr. Davis, in a telegram to his wife, announces the victory as a "dearly bought" one. The Congress of Richmond received the news with great dignity. It passed resolutions thanking Almighty God for the result of the day, and condoling with the families of the patriots who had fallen in defence of Southern independence.

Robert Toombs, of Georgia, has resigned the secretaryship of State, while Mr. R.M.T. Hunter, late United States' senator, from Virginia, has accepted the vacant post. No reason is assigned for this change, but it is probably to allow Virginia, the battle-field of the two sections, to be represented in the Executive Department of the Confederate Government.

All the cotton-factors of New Orleans, through whose hands two- thirds of the cotton crop of America are wont to pass, have signed a document calling upon planters to keep their cotton at home, and pledging themselves not to sell any until the blockade is entirely raised.

The New Orleans True Delta incidentally states that three-fourths of the men who had left that city and the State (Louisiana) in defence of Southern rights were Irishmen.

The Richmond Bank Convention has adjourned, after advising the Government to issue 100,000,000 dollars in Treasury notes.


Congress has passed the financial measures necessary for carrying on the war, but not without considerable and unexpected opposition from the Western members to the imposition of new taxes. At one time they succeeded in striking out the enacting clause from the Tax Bill, but afterwards reconsidered this vote. The loan bills, and the bill confiscating the property of traitors and the slaves used by the enemy in aid of the rebellion, passed with only the slight opposition which the peace party could offer; but the tax bills ended in a double compromise between the Eastern and Western members, and between the Senate and the House. The Morrill Tariff was made more protective than before. Tea is taxed fifteen cents (7 d.) per pound, coffee four cents, cocoa three cents, and sugar two cents. A tax of three per cent is levied on all incomes above 800 dollars (168), and a property tax of 20,000,000 dollars assessed on all the States, including the Seceded States. As this tax can hardly be levied, even in the adhering Slave States, it will yield about 11,000,000 dollars. The telegram does not inform us if the assessed tax on watches and carriages, and the excise tax on spirituous liquors, passed the Senate or not.

A resolution looking towards a compromise was introduced into the House of Representatives by a Democratic member from Ohio, but was voted down by 85 to 45, all the Democrats voting in favour of the resolution.

The President has replied to the Address of Congress asking him to furnish them with the correspondence with foreign Governments concerning the blockade and maritime rights, and also requesting the information on which he had ordered the arrest of the Police Commissioners of Baltimore by refusing both requests as incompatible with due regard for the interests of the nation. He has, however, transmitted to the Senate a report of all the instructions given to the Foreign Ministers of the United States in reference to the "rebellion."

Congress has passed a joint resolution authorising the President to take measures to facilitate a proper representation of the United States at the International Exhibition of 1862, and appropriated the sum of 2000 dollars therefor.


The Northern journals are full of accounts of the atrocities committed by the Southern troops on the wounded Unionists. The returned regiments of three-month volunteers have been welcomed home as if they had been victorious heroes.

A writ of habeas corpus taken out by the British Consul in New York in behalf of Purcell M'Quillan, a British subject, from Charleston, who took his passport, issued by the British Consul at Charleston, was arrested by order of Secretary Seward and sent manacled to New York, where he had been in military custody since June 28, had been without effect, the military officer, with the assent of General Scott, refusing to obey it. The Supreme Court of the State of New York refuses to take any further action, declining to give rise to the scandal of a collision between the judicial and military authorities merely in behalf of the liberty of a British subject.

Another important case before the New York Courts has been postponed until October. The crew of the privateer Savannah have not been brought up for trial, doubtless because Mr. Lincoln fears that their certain condemnation and execution as pirates would call forth the retaliation on Northern prisoners of war with which Mr. Davis threatened him.

The negro steward who killed three of the prize privateer crew put on board the schooner Waring is on exhibition at Barnum's Museum, New York, at a salary of 100 dollars per diem.

Prince Napoleon, the Princess Clotilde, and suite arrived at New York on the 27th ult. No public demonstration took place. He resided on board the yacht, and visited the city during the day. On the 31st he departed for Washington, on the invitation of the President. Princess Clotilde has engaged a suite of apartments at the New York Hotel, where she will reside during the Prince's absence.


The Governor-General of Cuba has released the six United States ships taken as prizes into Cienfuegos, and ordered the privateer Sumter to go to sea.

The Missouri State Convention has declared vacant the seats of the Governor and other Secessionist members of the State Government.

Eleven officers who served in Italy with Garibaldi have enlisted under General Lane, of Kansas, for service in Missouri and the Far West.

Although the Pacific Railroad and other works characteristic of an era of peaceful progress have been stopped by the civil war, the daily overland mail-coach carrying the mails between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts is in successful operation. The first eastward-bound coach arrived from Sacramento at St. Joseph, Missouri, after a journey of seventeen days and one hour. This is the longest coach route in the world. The telegraphic poles and wires which are destined to join San Francisco with New York are also being rapidly set up on the western plains; and it is hoped that, come what may, the connection will be complete by December of this year.

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