Illustrations of the War in AmericaThe Illustrated London News, vol. 42, no. 1182, p. 30.
January 3, 1863
Our Special Artist and Correspondent at the head-quarters of the Confederate army of Northern Virginia has forwarded to us some Illustrations, which we have been fortunate enough to receive. This, it seems, is far from being the case generally, many of his sketches and letters being intercepted. For example, writing on the 15th of November last, our Artist states that he had just heard of the capture of a vessel which had some of his despatches on board, and also of the arrest of a messenger carrying letters and sketches from him across the Potomac into Maryland. Indeed, our Special Artist on one occasion recently ran a great risk of being taken prisoner, having galloped past a cross-road only a few minutes before a Federal scouting-party dashed through. Two of our Artist's Illustrations are presented on the preceding page.
Respecting this Illustration our Correspondent writes as follows:--
"While visiting General Stuart at his head-quarters the Federals crossed the Potomac at Shepherdstown and advanced in large force to within a mile and a half of our camp. Gradually our pickets had to retire, making a good fight as they fell back, step by step, on their supports. The night we passed was a most anxious one, as at any moment the Federal cavalry, had they possessed anything like the dash of the two or three regiments opposed to them, might have forced our lines and probably taken most of us prisoners. In the morning, Oct. 16, the General was in the saddle at dawn, and, taking with him Pelham's flying artillery, brought one of the pieces into a commanding position, on a hill, and opened it with great effect on a brigade advancing on Lee Town, driving back the skirmishers thrown forward against his own pickets. The Illustration shows the gun coming into action under the fire of the Yankee skirmishers, surrounded and followed by the mounted gunners, one of whom is falling, wounded, from his horse. The cavalry reserves are moving up in the rear.
"This Engraving (says our Special Artist) gives a new feature to the triumphal advance of the 'Young Napoleon' on Winchester, so boastfully published to the world in the Northern papers. The 'onward movement' has now become a retreat. In the distance the Federal artillery has taken up a covering position in the road at the entrance of the woods, and their cavalry is seen flying across the fields on each side, seeking the shelter of the timber from the shells which Pelham is liberally sending after them. General Stuart is on a rise in the centre of the picture, giving orders and making dispositions for his troopers to charge, the reserve cavalry having come up. By night not a Federal remained on the Virginia side of the Potomac of those who formed part of this triumphal expedition."
Our Special Artist inclosed in one of his despatches a flag which he had begged for us as a trophy, and of which we herewith give an Engraving. This is its history, as supplied by him:--"When Banks, commanding the Federals, was attacked by Jackson last spring, and driven pell-mell through the streets of Winchester, Miss Laura Lee, of that city, boldly stood forward in the street amidst the flying bullets and waved this little flag of her own make, cheering on the Confederate soldiers as they charged through the flying ranks of those who had covered her and her fellow-citizens with abuse for months. More than one Confederate fell at her feet as they swept triumphantly past, and, still waving her little flag in one hand, with the other assisted the wounded men. This lady is a fair type of all her Southern sisters--womanly, but brave in her country's cause, and now praying by the dying beds of those brave men who have fallen victims to their patriotism."
Though the draught is postponed in New York it has not been formally abandoned by the Government. The consequence is that there has been a great rush to the offices appointed by the Judge Advocate-General to examine claims of exemption. The claims allowed— are firstly, age under eighteen or over forty-five; secondly, physical incapacity; thirdly, colour (no negroes or mulattoes being accepted); fourthly, alien birth and non-naturalisation; fifthly, membership of the scholastic and clerical professions. A popular caricature recently represented one of the unwilling conscripts as saying, in answer to the commissioner's question why he claimed exemption, "I am sixty years of age; I am an Irishman; my mother was a nigger; I have a humpback and a clubfoot; I am a confirmed drunkard; and I am a preacher of the gospel." "You may go, Sir," replied the commissioner. "Your case is but too complete." The most numerous claims of exemption have been made by Irishmen and other foreigners, armed with their passports and consular papers to prove their nationality. At least fifty thousand such claims are said to have been allowed. Another numerous class is that of which the members could only plead their physical disability--such as deafness, short-sight, malformation of the hand or foot, and, in some instances, inveterate and incurable dipsomania, proved on the oath of the wives of the unfortunate delinquents. Another large class is said--but perhaps it is a libel--to have been composed of men who before the draught was threatened represented themselves to be from thirty-five to forty years of age, but who suddenly discovered, after perusal of Mr. Lincoln's demand for 300,000 conscripts, that they were certainly forty-six. In all these cases the commissioners insisted upon the certificate of birth. Our Engraving represents the interior of the Office of Exemption in the fifteenth ward of the city during the time when the draught was considered imminent and had been positively fixed to take place at the end of November.