Foreign and Colonial NewsThe Illustrated London News, vol. 43, no. 1221, p. 254.
September 12, 1863
Fort Sumter, the seizure of which by the Southerners was the original declaration of war, while its possession by them as the principal defence of Charleston helped to keep open their main channel of external support, has succumbed to the enormous instruments brought to bear against it. Southern accounts admitted that its resistance was over, and that the moment at which its ruins must fall into the hands of the enemy was only a question of time.
After an incessant bombardment of six days--from the 17th to the 23rd of August--Fort Sumter was reduced to ruins. Its guns were all disabled, and the Federal shot made a clean sweep of the place. Colonel Rhett, who commanded the fort, was ordered, however, to hold it to the last. On the 22nd General Gilmore demanded the surrender of the fort and Morris Island, threatening to bombard Charleston if his demand were not complied with. General Beauregard replied that General Gilmore was guilty of a violation of the laws of war, and promised retaliation. The next day, however, Gilmore gave notice to non-combatants to leave the town; and on the 24th fire was opened upon it, several shots filled with Greek fire taking effect. The foreign Consuls protested that time enough had not been allowed for the removal of non-combatants, and General Beauregard asked for a truce of forty hours. General Gilmore replied by redemanding the surrender of the forts.
The Federal fleet was, according to the latest account, preparing to move up the harbour.
General Gilmore officially reports, on the 24th ult., the practical demolition of Fort Sumter, after seven days' bombardment. It is a shapeless and harmless mass of ruins. "A longer fire," he says, a would make it a greater mass of ruins, but scarcely more powerless for the defence of Charleston Harbour. It is unnecessary to continue to fire on the ruins. I have established batteries on my left, within effective range of the heart of Charleston, and opened with them, after giving General Beauregard due notice. My projectiles entered Charleston, and General Beauregard designates them the most destructive missiles ever used in war."
The batteries which destroyed Fort Sumter were located at distances varying between 3330 and 4200 yards, and remain as efficient as ever.
Forts Moultrie, Greig, and Johnston, and the batteries on Sullivan's Island, kept up a steady fire on the Federals on Morris Island, doing little damage.
During the bombardment on the 18th, a shot from Fort Wagner broke a piece of the interior lining of the ironclad Catskill, and struck the heads of Commander Rogers and Paymaster Woodbury, killing them instantly.
The Richmond Examiner says:--"If the Federals captured the whole of Morris Island they might close Charleston as a port of entry, but it would not enable them to take the city, as General Beauregard can maintain himself against any force sent, or likely to be sent, against him."
Two blockade runners entered Charleston on the 23rd.
The New York Daily News of Aug. 28, in commenting upon the use of the "Greek fire" in the siege of Charleston, says:--"Although, as an agent of destruction, it has no equal, civilisation until now, by that tacit understanding among Christian nations which respects the use of unnatural weapons, has refrained from its employment even in the most bloody and desperate campaigns. It has been left for this Administration, which claims to be waging war in the name of philanthropy, to conjure up this liquid demon as a fit ally to their purpose of extermination." It adds: "If a fleet of ironclads should appear in New York harbour, and at the midnight hour should throw their deadly missiles, bursting with liquid and unquenchable fire, into the heart of this metropolis, while standing amid the ashes of our homes, and gazing upon the crisped and burning bodies of our wives
Page 255and children, we could perhaps appreciate the savagism of that style of warfare."
General Lee's army, estimated at 60,000 men, is around Culpepper Courthouse, General Longstreet holds Fredericksburg, and General Stuart is guarding the fords of the Rappahannock.
There is a considerable Confederate infantry force at Port Conway, between the Potomac and the Rappahannock, who are enforcing the conscription. Colonel Kilpatrick had a skirmish with them, but was compelled to fall back from his reconnaissance.
A letter from the head-quarters of the army of the Potomac, dated Aug. 28, gives an account of the presentation of a sword to General Meade by the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps. The presentation was made by the officers and men of the first division of the fifth corps, which was the division long commanded by General Meade, and now commanded by General Crawford.
A Washington despatch of the 27th ult. says:--"Advices from the army of the Potomac state that while no offensive operations of a general character have taken place during the recent warm weather, the cavalry under General Pleasanton has been constantly on the alert, scouting, reconnoitring, and picketing, and not a day has passed which has not added to the list of rebel prisoners, and some of these captures are of an important character. Our own and the rebel pickets on the Rappahannock below hold friendly intercourse daily, but no intelligence of importance is obtained by these means. The rebels generally assert that the heavy fighting is over for the season in Virginia."
The advance of General Rosencranz's [i.e., Rosencrans] army appeared before Chattanooga on the 21st ult. and opened fire upon the city, where General Joe Johnston is commanding, having superseded General Bragg, who had gone to Atalanta [sic] . The Confederates opened fire from nineteen guns, which did little damage and were disabled by the Federal fire. The Federals disabled two steamers moored at the wharf, but were unsuccessful in their attempt to destroy the pontoon-bridge opposite the city. The Confederate works upon the river are very strong, the parapets being fifteen feet wide. There are several water batteries on a level with the river. Two Confederate divisions are at Chattanooga, and there is a large Confederate force in the neighbourhood. It was reported that one of General Rosencranz's divisions was advancing to assail the place in the rear, and that another had cut the communication between the right and left wings of the Confederate army.
The guerrillas of the Confederate chief Quantrell have entirely destroyed Lawrence, Kansas. The attack was made at midnight. Fifty prominent citizens, including the Mayor, were killed, it is said, in their houses, surrounded by their families. Over one hundred citizens were wounded, and twenty-five negro recruits shot. Senator Lane escaped. Lawrence is principally inhabited by New England emigrants, between whom and their Missouri neighbours there were strong antagonistic feelings. It is supposed that the Lawrence massacre will lead to sanguinary border warfare. Quantrell's guerrillas are being hunted through the woods and mountains of the border countries of Missouri. Large numbers of them have been killed and their horses destroyed.
A Federal expedition has proceeded to Granada, Mississippi, forcing the Confederates to destroy a large amount of railroad stock.
A war-steamer, carrying ten guns, and defiantly hoisting the English and Confederate flags, was stated to have run past the Federal cruisers into Wilmington, and no fewer than four war-steamers were alleged to have entered that port within a short time. The steamer Cronstadt has been captured off Wilmington.
The Port Royal New South, of Aug. 27, has a paragraph stating that the Confederate steamer Everslade, with a cargo of cotton and a large number of passengers, including a full complement of officers for a new pirate craft at Nassau, has been lying several weeks in the Savannah River. On the night after she attempted to run out off the buoy, and was soon overhauled, and sunk near Tybee Island. Twenty-two of her passengers were captured.
A doubtful report comes from Natchez, below Vicksburg, to the effect that 100,000 bales of Confederate States' cotton have been captured there.
The draught had terminated in New York and was to commence in Brooklyn on the 31st ult. The proceedings were conducted with uniform quietness. Many prominent citizens were among the draughted, including a son of Mayor Opdyke. The Mayor vetoed the grant of 3,000,000 dols. for the victims of the draught. Notwithstanding the action of the Mayor, the board of councilmen pledged themselves, by a vote of 23 to 1, to meet at the expiration of ten days and pass the measure over his veto. The New York Herald says the city wore a military aspect. Soldiers, armed in the completest manner, showed themselves in every quarter, and all the public squares were transformed into camps for newly-arrived regiments, sent specially for the purpose of preserving order during the draught.
The New York Board of Supervision has passed an ordinance appropriating 200,000 dols. to exempt from the draught uniformed militia, firemen, police, and heads of families. The Mayor has signed this ordinance, which it is supposed will settle the difficulty between the municipality and the Mayor.
General Dix has published correspondence to prove that he called on the Federal Government for troops to enforce the draught in consequence of the delay of Governor Seymour in replying to his application for the services of State troops.
An excited meeting of draughted Germans has been held in New York, at which the conscription was denounced as a cruel and inhuman measure, and organisations were urged against its consequences.
A New York telegram of the 29th ult., brought by the Hibernian, contains the intelligence, of which the importance can hardly be exaggerated if the announcement be true, that President Jefferson Davis, after a consultation with the Governors of the Confederate States, has resolved to call out and arm 500,000 blacks, who are to be rewarded by their freedom, and a grant of fifty acres of land to each man at the end of the war. This intelligence was, we are told, derived from "Confederate papers received at Morehead city."
However gloomy may be the prospects of the Confederates, there is no abatement in the confident tone of their supporters. Come what may, they insist the South will never submit. Richmond may fall, and Charleston may be burnt to ashes, but the South must and shall be independent.
Mr. Seward has addressed a circular letter, dated Aug. 12, to the United States' Consuls in Europe, describing with great fulness and confidence the military and naval operations of the present year in America. In this letter he has endeavoured once more to dispel the "prejudice" which, as he says, has caused English and French statesmen to "agree in opinion that the efforts of the Government to maintain the Union and preserve the integrity of the Republic could not be successful." He narrates the successes obtained by the Northern armies since August, 1862, and admits that no great progress has been made by the Federal arms in the East, but declares that in the West 200,000 square miles have been subjugated by the Federal arms. Every "insurgent" port is blockaded, besieged, or occupied, while the control of the Mississippi by the Federals cuts the "projected Confederacy" in two. The "insurgents" have lost one third of their whole force, and the last conscription ordered by "the leader of the sedition," while it will exhaust the male population, will not produce more than 70,000 to 95,000 men. The Federal armies are everywhere superior in numbers, and a draught of 300,000 men is raising, while large voluntary enlistments take place, and about 70,000 negro troops will soon be organised. The North is abundantly supplied with provisions and stores, and its loans are readily taken at par. These facts the Consuls are to represent "in such a way as may be most effective to convince those who seek a renewal of commercial prosperity through the restoration of peace in America that the quickest and shortest way to gain that desired end is to withdraw support and favour from the insurgents, and to leave the adjustment of our domestic controversies exclusively with the people of the United States."
General Pomberton, who surrendered Vicksburg to the Federals, is reported to have died at Selma, Alabama.
The desertions of substitutes for draughted men having become so frequent in the Federal army, it is officially announced that in all such cases the extreme penalty of martial law will be administered.
The New York Times urges the Government to prepare for a war with France. Such a war, it says, is not certain, but it would be dangerous and foolish to act as if it were impossible. The New York Times has little doubt that Napoleon has made a secret treaty with President Davis for the cession of Texas, as the equivalent for recognition and substantial aid. The New York Herald asserts that the troops now in New York will be sent to Vera Cruz.
A few days before the departure of the last mail from New York a shocking steam-boat disaster occurred at Vicksburg. The steamer City of Madison was being loaded with ammunition, and had received nearly her full load, when a negro, carrying a percussion-shell on board, let it fall, causing an instant explosion. The boat took fire, and the fire communicated to the ammunition on board, blowing the steamer to pieces. Out of 160 men on hoard, only four escaped.
A hurricane visited the coast of the North States between the 18th and 22nd of August. Among the disasters reported is the foundering of the United States' brig Bainbridge, which went down with all hands, save one man.