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The Civil War in America

The Illustrated London News, vol.39, no. 1110, p. 313.

September 28,1861

The Montreal Company's steam-ship North American brings journals from New York of the 12th inst., and telegrams to the 14th instant. A slight engagement between Generals Rosenkranz and Floyd, near Summersville, in Western Virginia, is the only military event of the week. The engagement was indecisive.

PRINCE GORTSCHAKOFF'S LETTER.

On the 7th inst. Baron de Stoeckl, Russian Ambassador at Washington, had an audience with the President to deliver the following despatch from the Russian Chancery:-

M. de Stoeckl, &c. ST. PETERSBURG, July 10.

Sir,-From the beginning of the conflict which divides the United States of America you have been desired to make known to the Federal Government the deep interest with which our August Master was obseving the development of a crisis which puts in question the prosperity and even the existence of the Union.

The Emperor profoundly regrets to see that the hope of a peaceful solution is not realised, and that American citizens, already in arms, are ready to let loose upon their country the most formidable of the scourges of polical society-a civil war. For more than the eighty years that it has existed the American Union owes its independence, its towering rise, and its progress, to the concord of its members, consecrated under the auspices of its illustrious founder, by institutions which have been able to reconcile the Union with liberty. The Union has been faithful. It has exhibited to the world the spectacle of a prosperity without example in the annals of history. It would be deplorable that, after so conclusive an experience, the United States should be hurried into a breach of the solemn compact which, up to this time, has made their power. In spite of the diversity of their constitutions and of their interests, and perhaps even because of their diversity, Providence seems to urge them to draw closer the traditional bond which is the basis of the very condition of their political existence. In any event, the sacrifices which they might impose upon themselves to maintain it are beyond comparison with those which dissolution would bring after it. United, they perfect themselves; isolated, they are paralysed.

The struggle which unhappily has just arisen can neither be indefinitely prolonged nor lead to the total destruction of one of the parties. Sooner or later, it will be necessary to come to some settlement, whatsoever it may be, which may cause the divergent interests now actually in conflict to coexist. The American nation would, then, give proof of high political wisdom in seeking in common such a settlement before a useless effusion of blood, a barren squandering of strength and of public riches, and acts of violence and reciprocal reprisals, shall have come to deepen an abyss between the two parties of the Confederation, to end definitively in their mutual exhaustion and in the ruin—perhaps irreparable—of their commercial and political power.

Our August Master cannot resign himself to admit such deplorable anticipations. His Imperial Majesty still places his confidence in that practical good sense of the citizens of the Union who appreciate so judiciously their true interests. His Majesty is happy to believe that the members of the Federal Government, and the infuential men of the two parties, will seize all occasions and will unite all their efforts to calm the effervescence of the passions. There are no interests so divergent that it may not be possible to reconcile them by labouring to that end with zeal and perseverance, in a spirit of justice and moderation.

If, within the limits of your friendly relations, your language and your counsels may contribute to this result, you will respond, Sir, to the intentions of his Majesty the Emperor in devoting to this the personal influence which you may have been able to acquire during your long residence at Washington, and the consideration which belongs to your character as the representative of a Sovereign animated by the most friendly sentiments towards the American Union. This Union is not simply in our eyes an element essential to the universal political equilibrium; it constitutes, besides, a nation to which our August Master and all Russia have pledged the most friendly interests, for the two countries, placed at the extremities of the two worlds, both in the ascending period of their development, appear called to a natural community of interests and of sympathies, of which they have already given mutual proofs to each other.

I do not wish here to approach any of the questions which divide the United States. We are not called upon to express ourselves in this contest. The preceding considerations have no other object than to attest the lively solicitude of the Emperor in the presence of the dangers which menace the American Union, and the sincere wishes that his Majesty enterains for the maintenance of that great work, so laboriously raised, and which appeared so rich in its future.

It is in this sense, Sir, that I desire you to express yourself, as well to the members of the general Government, as to the influential persons whom you may meet, giving them the assurance that in every event the American nation may count upon the most cordial sympathy on the part of our August Master during the important crisis which it is passing through at present.

Receive, Sir, the expression of my very deep consideration.

GORTSCHAKOFF.

Mr. Seward wrote a short and courteous reply expressing his profound sense of the "liberal, friendly, and magnanimous sentiments" of the Emperor, and regarding them "as a new guaranty of a friendship between the two countries which had its beginning with the national existence of the United States."

A DREADFUL RAILROAD CATASTROPHIE.

A railway-bridge over the Platte River, on the Hannibal and St. Joseph Line, Missouri, broke down under the weight of a passenger train, containing nearly 100 men, women, and children. The cars were precipitated into the river. Seventeen persons were instantly killed, and many others horribly mangled. Only three were able to call for assistance. It appears that the timber supports of the bridge had been nearly burnt through and the fire then extinguished, thus leaving no suspicious appearance about the structure. It was subsequently discovered that some other bridges on the route to St. Joseph were similarly disabled, and the track obstructed by logs. It is supposed to be the work of Missouri Secessionists.

PERSONAL.

The report of the death of Jefferson Davis is destitute of truth.

Prince Napoleon had left the United States and was travelling in Canada. He was well received in Quebec.

The Prince de Joinville had arrived in New York, but declined the reception which was offered him by the Federal Government.

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