Foreign and Colonial NewsThe Illustrated London News, vol. 43, no. 1214, p. 78.
July 25, 1863
The tide of success seems to have set in at present for the Federals. To the repulse met with at Gettysburg by General Lee, announced in our last Number, we have now to add a still more serious blow to the pride and interests of the South in the fall of Vicksburg.
First, let us follow the fortunes of General Lee. By the details which have come to hand of the battle of the 3rd inst., at Gettysburg, we find that it was as General Meade described it, "one of the severest actions of the war." It lasted twelve hours, from daybreak to five in the afternoon; and during the whole of that time the Confederate forces were engaged in successive assaults of the most obstinate character on different points of the Federal position. The battle opened by a vigorous cannonade and assault on the extreme Federal left, the enemy striving, by a series of rapid and fierce attacks, to pierce or turn it early in the day. After three hours' fighting, however, the attempt not only failed, but the Confederate right was forced back across the whole battle-field of that morning and the previous day. During this attack on the left a resolute and formidable attempt was made to flank the Federal right, and it is clear that the superior position of the Confederates gave them every prospect of success in this direction. Behind the Confederate left rose a densely-wooded and lofty hill, from the summit of which the Confederate batteries could command the Federal right and centre on Cemetery Hill. The great effort of the day was to turn this position, and at one time it seemed doubtful whether the effort would not be successful. In the assault upon it General Hill's corps was brought from the other wing to reinforce General Ewell. The reserve Federal artillery brought into play from elevated points behind the Cemetery Hill, and the vigorous resistance of the eleventh corps on the Federal right, partially checked the Confederate advance; but the opportune arrival of two brigades of militia to reinforce the Federal right obliged the Confederates to retire. They retired, however, slowly, fighting desperately at every step until the afternoon, when their attempt to turn the right was finally abandoned. Within an hour another and final effort was, however, made. The Confederate troops were again massed along the whole Federal line, but by five o'clock they were driven back at all points, and the engagement terminated, leaving the field in the hands of the Federals. The loss on both sides is roughly estimated at 30,000. The Federals have also captured a large number of prisoners, with numerous waggon-trains, colours, and arms.
On the 4th, General Lee retreated from Gettysburg by two roads--through Fairfield on one side, and through Cashtown and Greencastle on the other--to Hagerstown, where his head-quarters are. Hagerstown is only a few miles from Williamsport, on the Potomac, where the bridge of boats, by which part of the Confederate army passed into Maryland, remains. The Potomac is, however, so greatly swollen by recent rains that it is impossible either to ford it or to build pontoon bridges across it. General Meade marched in pursuit as rapidly as the state of the roads would permit.
To the 13th there had been no fresh engagement, except some skirmishes between the hostile armies in Maryland; but a battle was believed to be imminent. General Lee, whose forces are said to occupy a strong position around Hagerstown, was engaged in sending his wounded men and his commissariat stores across the Potomac; but none of his troops had quitted Maryland, and he had drawn fresh supplies of ammunition from Virginia. There was a rumour that he had been joined by 40,000 men from General Beauregard's army. The Federal forces under General Meade and General Couch were concentrating in front of the Confederate army, and would, it was supposed, assume the offensive, and assail General Lee's position.
Vicksburg has surrendered unconditionally. On the 3rd General Pemberton sent two officers to the camp of General Grant, to ask that commissioners should be appointed to settle the terms of the surrender. This request was refused. General Pemberton himself then had an interview with General Grant, and the surrender was agreed upon. The garrison, variously stated at 10,000, 12,000, and 27,000 fighting men, were paroled, and rations given them to enable them to reach their lines. The guns and arms captured are very numerous. The immediate causes of surrender were the exhaustion of supplies and ammunition and the failure of General Johnstone [sic] to come to the assistance of the garrison. The fleet of Admiral Porter is now ready to co-operate in the attack on Port Hudson, whilst is reckoned that no fewer than 100,000 veteran troops are placed at the disposal of the Federal Government. Of the whereabouts of Johnstone [sic] , who was to have relieved Vicksburg, no mention is made. Southern papers speak of an advance of their troops upon New Orleans, and the capture of some thousands of Federal soldiers. General Neal Dow has been captured. These accounts are probably exaggerated. It appears, however, to be certain that a considerable body of Confederates had shown themselves between General Banks and New Orleans, and that alarm existed in that city. The recovery of New Orleans was not probable, but the relief of Port Hudson and the capture of Banks were within the bounds of proba-
Page 79bility. Thus success and defeat swing from side to side, and the bloody contest continues without results.
General Dix is reported to have abandoned White House, and returned to Fortress Monroe, after destroying the railway communication between Richmond and Lee's army.
The Confederate General Bragg has crossed the Tennessee River and destroyed the bridge at Bridgeport. It is stated that General Bragg will make the Tennessee River his future line of defence.
General Morgan, the active Confederate leader, with 8000 men, has captured Corydon, Indiana, and is advancing to Jeffersonville, where there are large Federal supplies. Business is suspended at Indianopolis [sic] , and the Governor of Indiana has called out 50,000 men.
Between 8000 and 9000 Confederates, under Generals Holmes, Price, and Marmaduke, made an attack on Helena, Arkansas, on the morning of the 4th. They advanced in three columns, but the roughness of the ground prevented them bringing up their artillery, and they attempted to carry their works by assault. The centre column charged in the direction of Fort Curtis, and took three lines of rifle-pits. The flank attack was not so successful, which subjected the centre to an enfilading fire, which swept them down in great numbers. They were soon surrounded, and one whole brigade, numbering 840, was captured.
Among the vessels recently overhauled by the Confederate cruisers was the George Griswold, which some time ago brought to Liverpool a cargo of provisions for the operatives of the cotton-manufacturing districts. The ship was on her way from Cardiff to Rio with a cargo of coals, belonging, it would seem, to British subjects; and she was, therefore, released on the captain giving the bond usually demanded in such cases. The following vessels have been captured and burnt by the Alabama:--The ship Amazonian, bound from New York to Monte Video, was burnt on the 2nd of June; and the Jabez Snow, bound from Liverpool for Monte Video, was burnt on the 29th of May. The crews of these vessels were landed at Monte Video. The Georgia captured the ship Hope, bound from Boston to the Cape of Good Hope, together with the G. W. Seaver, bound from Boston for Rio. The latter vessel was released upon giving bonds for 15,000 dols. The Pernambuco papers state that the Florida, Confederate cruiser, has taken possession of the Rocas Islands--a small group of desert rocks near the Island of Fernando Noronha--as her base of operations.
At Washington, on the evening of the 7th, President Lincoln, General Halleck, and Secretaries Seward [and Stanton] were serenaded on the receipt of the news of the surrender of Vicksburg. In returning thanks the President made an unimportant speech. General Halleck claimed the merit of retaining General Grant in command, and consequently of the victory he achieved. Secretary Stanton declared that the real victory had been won over Copperheads as well as rebels. Mr. Seward admitted that he was originally opposed to the war, and desired to put it off, if possible. If that were a weakness there was a warrant for it in the character of Him who died to save the world, who desired the cup to pass from Him if his Heavenly Father pleased, but, if not, He would accept it. Another report states that Mr. Seward said:--"He had been censured for his predictions that the rebellion would be ended in ninety days, and it would have been ended before it was begun if councils of patriots had been held. It had been protracted by the hopes held out of foreign interference. If foreign nations would keep their hands off the Americans would settle all their own quarrels."
The New York Herald says that there has been a crisis in the Cabinet in reference to the peace question. Mr. Seward wished to issue a Presidential proclamation offering an amnesty to all but the leaders of the rebellion, withdrawing the emancipation proclamation, suspending the Confiscation Act, and offering protection to the personal property and rights of the Southern people. According to the Herald, he was opposed by a majority of the Cabinet. The Republican party are said to be preparing a petition to the President, in reference to the restoration of peace and the Union, on the basis of the extinction of slavery in 1876.
The Washington Government had refused to allow Mr. Stephens, the Confederate Vice-President, to present in person to President Lincoln important communications from President Jefferson Davis. The Southern papers state that Vice-President Stephens's visit to Washington was either to arrange for the exchange of prisoners or to inform the Federal Government that if private property was not respected the Confederates would retaliate. The New York Herald asserts that Vice-President Stephens's message was a proposition from President Davis for a separate Government for the North and South, but only one President. The Tribune says that the Secretary of War has given orders for mounting guns and garrisoning the forts in Portland Harbour, and has authorised the Governor of Maine to raise artillery companies for the defence of the coast towns.
It is stated that the Federal Government has ordered a levy of 300,000 conscripts. A serious riot has occurred at New York, caused by the enforcement of the draught.
Martial law has been declared in Louisville. All citizens have been ordered to enrol themselves, or to go North.