Foreign and Colonial IntelligenceThe Illustrated London News, vol. 46, no. 1306, p. 246.
March 18, 1865
Our latest news from New York, by the Nova Scotian, is to the morning of the 5th inst.
In President Lincoln's Inaugural Address, which we give on another column, there is, it will be seen, no indication of any change of policy.
The great blockade-running city of Wilmington, as stated in a considerable portion of our Impression last week, passed into Federal occupation on the 22nd ult., Washington's birthday. From Admiral Porter's official despatches we learn that General Schofield, now in command of the Federal military in that quarter, advanced, on the 17th ult., from Smithville, four vessels of the fleet simultaneously attacking and enfilading the works. The wind and tide prevented more vessels from participating in the engagement. Fort Anderson answered pretty briskly, but quieted down by sunset. During the night the Confederates sent 200 floating torpedoes down the river, but Porter sunk them by musketry. One torpedo entered and blew up the wheel-house of the Osceola, and knocked down the bulkheads. No damage, however, was done to the hull. Porter spread fishing-nets across the river. Next morning Porter advanced with the greater part of the fleet. A heavy fire was maintained silencing the Confederate batteries by three p.m. Porter, however, continued the fire until dark, and also through the night, and in the mean time Schofield was working in the rear. "While the fleet maintained a heavy fire upon the fort," Schofield says, "I pressed the enemy on both sides of the river, and sent Cox sixteen miles round the swamp to the enemy's right. Cox proceeded along the narrow defile between the two swamps, and completely turned the enemy's position. The enemy, discovering the movement, abandoned the works and retreated to Wilmington. The guns captured are uninjured. Fifty prisoners were taken. The loss was small, on each side." It is stated that the Confederate shot made no impression on the Federal monitors, although but a third of a mile from the fort. The southern face of the fort, however, was "badly disfigured." The Federals sent a sham monitor, constructed of canvas, up the river with the tide to explode torpedoes. It floated past the fort, and is supposed to have hastened its evacuation, the Confederates believing the water communication gone. Immediately upon the evacuation of Fort Anderson, Schofield directed Cox, one of his subordinates, to follow the garrison towards Wilmington. The Confederates made a stand behind Town Creek; but on the 20th Cox crossed the river below them on flat boats, attacked their rear, and routed them, taking two guns and 300 prisoners. On the 21st Cox pushed on to Brunswick River, opposite Wilmington, where the bridges were on fire on his arrival. The Southerners had begun burning cotton and resin in the city, and left it that night. Citizens state that 1000 bales of cotton and 15,000 barrels of resin were burned. Northern accounts say that "Union feeling showed itself strongly in the city."
Sherman has burnt Columbia--in retaliation, it is said, for his troops having been fired upon after they entered the city. The Southern papers charge the Federal General with having bombarded the town without giving warning of his intention to do so. Such accounts as we have of General Sherman's movements are obscure and contradictory. On the one hand, it appears to have been reported in New York that General Sherman had marched in an easterly direction, and had effected a junction with General Schofield, on the 27th ult., at some place not named. On the other hand, it seems to have been stated by the Richmond newspapers that General Sherman was moving against Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina, and had left the Confederate army, under its new Commander-in-Chief, General Joseph Johnston (who has superseded Beauregard), in his rear, at Charlotte. There are rumours by the last mail of a battle, and of Sherman and Schofield having been checked.
Southern papers continue to speak confidently of the safety of Richmond and of Lee's ability to withstand any movement made by Grant. On the other hand, there are statements that preparations for the evacuation of the place have begun. It is said that Grant was preparing for a new movement, but that the weather interfered with his plans. General Grant states that since May last 17,000 deserters have come over to him from the Confederate army. According to the Richmond papers Grant's troops north of the James River have been moved to the left and massed with the rest of his army in the vicinity of Hatcher's Run.
The proposition to arm 200,000 negroes passed the Confederate House of Representatives on the 20th ult.; but it was indefinitely postponed by the Senate on the following day by a majority of one. The Richmond Dispatch thinks the bill will be reconsidered and passed. Opinion at the South seems evenly balanced on the subject. General Lee has expressed his opinion that the employment of slaves in the army is both expedient and necessary, on the ground that the white population alone cannot supply the necessities of a long war; and recommends that a call for those who will volunteer upon the condition of their freedom be immediately authorised by the Southern Congress. The message of the Governor of Georgia opposes the arming of the slaves. They do not wish to enter the army. They will desert by thousands. The Governor, it is said, denounces violently the military and civil policy of President Davis, which, if persisted in, he says, must terminate in reconstruction, with or without subjugation.
A bill has passed the Confederate House of Representatives, in secret Session, authorising the arming of negroes tendered by owners, and also authorising the President to call upon each State, whenever expedient, for a quota of 300,000 troops, irrespective of colour, in addition to those subject to military service under existing laws. The relations of slaves and masters remain unchanged, except by consent of the owners in States where slaves reside.
The Confederate Congress have expelled Senator Foote.
The Virginia Senate has authorised the Governor to call for volunteers among the slaves and free negroes of the State for the defence of Richmond and other points threatened. They are to be organised into infantry companies for the year's service, under white officers, and to be placed at the disposal of the General-in-Chief.
Governor Vance, in a proclamation to the people of North Carolina, declares that the only dangers that threaten the cause of Southern independence are the depression consequent upon recent reverses and the risk of internal dissension. The muster-rolls of the Confederacy show the record of 400,000 soldiers, but thousands upon thousands of them are absent without leave. To entreat, to put to shame, or to drive these men back to the defence of their country's standard is the business of the hour.
President Lincoln has approved the Fortifications Bill, the appropriations for which have been reduced to half their original amount.
The House of Representatives has passed the 600,000,000 dols. Loan Bill.
The Senate has adopted the amendment increasing the duty on tobacco, snuff, cigars, and cheroots. It has also passed the House Bill taxing sales ½ per cent.
New Jersey had refused to ratify the constitutional amendment.
We have news from Quebec to Feb. 24.
The Legislative Council have got rapidly through with the debate on the confederation scheme, having closed the discussion of that measure on Monday, Feb. 20, when the motion in favour thereof was carried by a vote of 45 to 15.
The discussion of the proposed new Constitution continues nightly in the Lower House.
The resumption of the trial of the St. Albans raiders took place in Montreal on Monday, Feb. 20, when the court was thronged with spectators. Mr. Kerr opened the argument for the defence, and was followed by Mr. Laflamme on the same side. On Tuesday the latter counsel was to continue his arguments against the extradition of the prisoners, but, owing to the indisposition of Judge Smith, the Court did not sit on that day. The investigation is creating vast excitement. Mr. Kerr submitted to the Court a series of printed propositions, seventeen in number, with authorities sustaining them.
Mr. F. W. Torrance, barrister, of Montreal, has opened his commission of inquiry into the conduct of Judge Coursol in dismissing the St. Albans raiders. Mr. Henry Stuart, Q.C., applied to be admitted to watch the case for his client, which the Commissioner declined to allow. The Hon. Mr. Letellier brought the matter before the notice of the Upper Chamber by inquiring of the Government whether it was by their instructions that the Commissioner was proceeding ex parte and with closed doors. In reply, Sir E. P. Taché stated that Mr. Torrance was only acting in virtue of his commission, that he had received no instructions, and was carrying on the inquiry according to law.