The Civil War in America.The Illustrated London News, vol. 39, no. 1122, p. 617.
December 21, 1861
By the arrival of the Bohemian, from Portland, we have New York telegrams to the 7th inst. Congress assembled on the 2nd, and immediately passed resolutions thanking Captain Wilks for his arrest of the "traitors" Slidell and Mason. Resolutions were also voted which requested the President to confine these two gentlemen in the cells of convicted felons until Colonels Corcoran and Wood should be treated as prisoners of war. Mr. Eliot, of Massachusetts, offered a series of resolutions declaring that the war is waged simply for the re-establishment of the Union, but insisting upon the right of the President to emancipate all persons held as slaves in any militay district in a state of insurrection, and advising such a course. The House refused to veto the resolution—by seventy against fifty-six—but its consideration was postponed for a week. In the Senate Mr. Trumbull, of Illinois, gave notice of a bill to confiscate the property of rebels and to give freedom to persons in the Slave States. On the second day the President's Message was received and read, and the reports of the several Departments of State were handed in to the Senate and House of Representatives, except that of the Secretary of the Treasury, which would not be ready for a few days. Subsequently, Messrs. Breckinridge and Burnett, of Kentucky, were expelled from Congress; and a committee had been appointed by the House to inquire into the expediency of abolishing slavery in the district of Columbia.
THE PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE.
After congratulating the country on its abundant harvests, the President refers to the foreign relations of the Republic in these terms:-
You will not be surprised to learn that, in the peculiar exigencies of the times, our intercourse with foreign nations has been attended with profound solicitude, chiefy turning upon our own domestic affairs. A disloyal portion of the American people have, during the whole year, been engaged in an attempt to divide and destroy the Union. A nation which endures factions domestic divisions is exposed to disrespect abroad, and one party, if not both, is sure, sooner or later, to invoke foreign intervention. Nations thus tempted to interfere are not always able to resist the counsels of seeming expediency and ungenerous ambition, although measures adopted under such influences seldom fail to be unfortunate and injurious to those adopting them.
The disloyal citizens of the United States who have offered the ruin of our country in return for the aid and comfort which they have invoked abroad have received less patronage and encouragement than they probably expected. If it were just to suppose, as the insurgents have seemed to assume, that foreign nations, in this case, discarding all moral, social, said treaty obligations, would act solely and selfishly for the most speedy restoration of commerce, including especially the acquisition of cotton, those nations appear as yet not to have seen their way to their object more directly or clearly through the destruction than through the preservation of the Union. If we could dare to believe that foreign nations are actuated by no higher principle than this, I am quite sure a second argument could be made to show them that they can reach their aim more readily and easily by aiding to crush this rebellion than by giving encouragement to it.
The principal lever relied on by the insurgents for exciting foreign nations to hostility against us, as already intimated, to the embarrassment of commerce. Those nations, however, not improbably saw from the first that it was the Union which made as well our foreign as our domestic commerce. They can scarcely have failed to perceive that the effort for disunion produces the existing difficulty, and that one strong nation produces more durable peace, and a more extensive, valuable, and reliable commerce than can the same nation broken into hostile fragments.
It is not my purpose to review our discussions with foreign States, because, whatever might be their wishes or dispositions, the integrity of our country and the stability of our Government mainly depends, not upon them, but on the loyalty, virtue, patriotism, and intelligence of the American people. The correspondence itself, with the usual reservations, is herewith submitted. I venture to hope it will appear that we have practiced prudence and liberality towards foreign Powers, averting causes of irritation, and, with firmness, maintaining our own rights and honour. Since, however, it is apparent that here, as in every other State, foreign dangers necessarily attend domestic difficulties, I recommend that adequate and ample measures be adopted for maintaining the public defences on every side, while, under this general recommendation, provision for defending our coast line readily occurs to the mind. I also, in the same connection, ask the attention of Congress to our great lakes and rivers. It is believed that some fortications and dé;pôts of arms and munitions, with harbour and navigation improvements at well-selected points upon these, would be of great importance to the national defence and preservation.
The President preserves a judicious silence on the affair of the Trent and San Jacinto.
On the vital subject of emancipation by the right of war, he uses the following guarded yet significant language:—
In considering the policy to be adopted for suppressing the insurrection I have been anxious and careful that the inevitable conflict for this purpose shall not degenerate into a violent and remorseless revolutionary struggle. I have, therefore, in every case, thought it proper to keep the integrity of the union prominent as the primary object of the contest on our part, leaving all questions which are not of vital military importance to the more deliberate action of the Legislature. In the exercise of my best discretion I have adhered to the blockade of the ports held by the insurgents, instead of putting in force, by proclamation, the law of Congress enacted at the last Session for closing those ports. So, also, obeying the dictates of prudence as well as the obligations of law, instead of transcending I have adhered to the Act of Congress to confiscate property, and for insurrectionary purposes. If a new law upon the same subject shall be proposed its propriety will be duly considered. The Union must be preserved, and hence all indispensable means must be employed. We should not be in haste to determine that radical and extreme measures, which may reach the loyal as well as the disloyal, are indispensable.
THE REPORT OF THE SECRETARY OF WAR.
Secretary Cameron presents the following statement of the entire strength of the Federal Army, both volunteers and regulars:
|3 mos.||The war.||Aggregate.States.||3 mos.||The war.||Aggregate.|
The several arms of the service are estimated as follows:—
|Arms of the Service.||Volunteers.||Regulars.||Aggregate.|
|Infantry .. .. ..||557,208||11,175||568,383|
|Calvary .. .. ..||54,654||4,744||59,398|
|Artillery .. .. ..||20,380||4,308||24,688|
|Rifles and Sharpshooters||8,395||—||8,395|
|Engineers .. .. ..||—||107||107|
The appropriations for the service of the next fiscal year are computed for a force of 500,000 men. He says he has a surplus of cavalry, and will reduce that expensive arm of the service. Although Congress only authorised a levy of 500,000, the Secretary could have raised 1,000,000 of men as easily as not. The rapidity with which the Army, which in April amounted to 16,000 regulars, developed into a force of 640,000 surpasses anything of the sort exhibited by France when her destinies were in the hands of Napoleon. He has no doubt that, in case of emergency, the United States could send into the field a force of 3,000,000 of armed men. "The effort to restore the Union" is termed "the most gigantic endeavour in the history of civil war." The check of Bull Run gave no discouragement, and merely postponed the campaign for a few months. The possession of Western Virginia, and the occupation of Hatteras and Beaufort have, moreover, already redeemed "our transient reverses." Mr. Cameron alludes to the urgent need which the army had of a supply of improved firearms. The resources of the United States' armoury at Springfield being quite inadequate to the occasion, contracts were made with private establishments, and a special agent was sent to Europe to purchase 2,000,000 dols. worth. The Government ought to have in store never less than a million of muskets, and a corresponding proportion of arms and equipments for cavalry and artillery. On the subject of the coast defences he says:—
It is of great importance that immediate attention should be given to the condition of our fortifications upon the seaboard and the lakes, and upon our exposed frontiers. They should at once be placed in perfect condition for successful defence. Aggressions are seldom made upon a nation ever ready to defend its honour and to repel insults; and we should show to the world that, while engaged in quelling disturbances at home, we are able to protect ourselves againat attacks from abroad.
He recommends that the accommodations at the celebrated Military Academy at West Point, which now contains only 192 cadets, be enlarged so as to allow of the education of 500 trained officers. He suggests that the distinction between regulars and volunteers should be abolished. He admits that recruiting for the regular army has been a failure. He demands that another line of railroad be constructed from Baltimore to Washington, as absolutely necessary for the supply of the troops in the event of the Potomac being closed by ice or a blockade. The paragraphs favourable to the arming of the slaves are printed in some of the New York journals, although they were stricken out by Mr. Lincoln himself, after Mr. Cameron had refused to expunge them with his own hand.
Secretary Welles reports that the navy was called upon to blockade a coast line of nearly 3000 miles to keep the navigation of the Potomac open, to organise combined military and naval expeditions against points of the Southern coast, and to pursue the privateers. When the vessels now building and purchased of every class are armed, equipped, and ready for service the condition of the navy will be as follows:—
|Number of Vessels.||Guns.||Tons.|
|6 Ships-of-line .. .. .. ..||504||16,094|
|7 Frigates .. .. .. .. ..||350||12,104|
|17 Sloops .. .. .. .. ..||342||16,031|
|2 Brigs .. .. .. .. ..||12||530|
|3 Storeships .. .. .. ..||7||343|
|6 Receiving Ships, &c. .. .. ..||106||6,342|
|6 Screw-Frigates .. .. .. ..||222||21,460|
|6 First-class screw-sloops .. .. ..||109||11,950|
|4 First-class side-wheel steam-sloops||46||8,003|
|8 Second-class screw-sloops .. ..||45||7,593|
|5 Third-class screw-sloops .. ..||28||2,405|
|4 Third-class side-wheel steamers||8||1,808|
|2 Steam-tenders .. .. .. ..||4||599|
|Number of Vessels||Guns.||Tons.|
|36 Side-wheel steamers||166||26,680|
|Number of Vessels.||Guns.||Tons.|
|12 Side-wheel steamers||48||8,400|
|3 Iron-clad steamers||18||4,600|
Making a total of 264 vessels, 2557 guns, and 218,016 tons. The aggregate number of seamen in the service on the 4th of March last was 7600. The number is now not less than 22,000.
Since the institution of the blockade 153 vessels, sailing under various flags, have been captured.
The naval estimates for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1862, would amount to 50,250,000 dollars. For the year ending June 30, 1863, they would be 44,625,000 dols.
Mr. Blair announces that he has accepted the offer made in 1857 by Great Britain for a reduction of the international rate between the two countries on letters from 1s. to 6d., which, however, has not yet gone into operation, as it awaits the response of the British office. The excess of expenditure over receipts in 1861 was 5,391,000 dols.; the estimated deficiency in 1862 is 3,145,000 dols.
The Postmaster-General defends his conduct in excluding "peace-party" journals from the mails. He finds his views supported by the authority of the late Chief Justice Story, whose opinion he quotes.
Mr. Thurlow Weed, who is at present in this country, contradicts the statement that General Scott has returned to America in obedience to an urgent request from his Government. Mr. Weed states that the veteran General has gone back to Washington solely from a desire to be "at his post" at a time of "threatened danger."