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Civil War Harper's Weekly, May 16, 1863

You are viewing part of our online archive of original Harper's Weekly newspapers. These newspapers are full of incredible pictures and reports on the Civil War. The collection serves as an excellent source of information on the war.

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Rappahannock Bridge

Rappahannock Bridge

Charity Grimes

Charity Grimes

Battle of Chancellorsville

Battle of Chancellorsville

Battle of Irish Bend

Fredericksburg Battle Map

Fredericksburg Map

President Lincoln Cartoon

President Lincoln Cartoon

Shelling Vicksburg

Shelling Vicksburg

Russell's Brigade

Russell's Brigade


Pontoon Bridges

Irish Bend

Battle of Irish Bend

Twelfth Massachusetts

Twelfth Massachusetts Regiment




[MAY 16, 1863.



I AM a gay "Konservativ,"

I stand by the old Konstitushun, I du;

I go fur the Uniun ez it was,

With the old Dimmycrat ticket, rite than. These black Republikans don't suit me,

Fur I'm a Konservativ man, yu see!

I am a Dimmycrat, dyed in the wool—

I go fur free trade, and that sort ov thing;

I think it's rite tu let Slavery rule

Sooner'n hev Lincoln I'd vote fur a king, And hev the Saouth fur an aristockracy

Tu rule the hull North (except the Dimmockracy).

Shuttin up fokes fur speekin their mind

In my opinion's a peece of knavery—

I go fur free speech ov every kind,

Except when it interferes with slavery!

(Sich kind ov free speech all Dimmykrats fight—

Ef Brooks hed killed Sumner he'd done jest right.)

I go fur aour konstitushunal rights,

With the rit ov habeas corpus invi'late,

I'd show 'em haow a Dimmykrat fights,

Ef Abram Lincoln attempts to spile it!

I've a right tu tawk treeson, ez I understand—

Tawk's tawk; it's money that buys the land!

I go fur the vigorous conduct ov war

(Of course with a decent regard tu figgars,

So ez not tu inkreese aour national debt),

And abuv all not tu free the niXXers.

I'd rather the North hed not pulled a trigger

Than see a traitor shot daown by a niXXer.

Yes, I am a reel Konservativ;

I stand by the Konstitushun, I du!

Ef enny wun sez I'm frends with the Saouth,

I'll sware by hokey it isn't true!

I ain't a rebbel; but, he—m!—speek low—I kinder beleeve in Vallandigham, though!



SATURDAY, MAY 16, 1863.

"Scarcely any paper is doing so much for UNION and LIBERTY as Harper's Weekly."—Boston Commonwealth.


ONCE more the nation is called upon to sustain itself bravely under the smart of defeat. Major-General Hooker's campaign against Fredericksburg, like that of General Burnside, has failed.

Of the operations of the Army of the Potomac we have news up to Wednesday, May 6. On 28th, 29th, and 30th April General Hooker crossed the Rappahannock at various fords from 10 to 20 miles above Fredericksburg, and drove in the rebel pickets, advancing his army to a small village called Chancellorsville, near the residence of a Mr. Chancellor. A day or two previously General Stoneman, with a large cavalry force, had been sent to make a grand detour by way of the Upper Rapidan and the southern part of Orange and Spotsylvania counties, with a view of cutting the railroad between Richmond and Fredericksburg in the neighborhood of Milford. General Hooker's advance took the rebels by surprise, and compelled them to come out of their intrenchments and attack the Union army. Withdrawing the bulk of his army from the heights above Fredericksburg, the rebel General made his first attack on Friday afternoon, another on Saturday, and a third on Sunday. These various fights appear to have been bloody and indecisive. Fortune varied, as usual in the great battles of this war; at times we drove the enemy, and at times they drove us; one day we took some guns and prisoners, and the next we lost some. But on Monday, 4th, General Sedgwick, who had stormed the heights of Fredericksburg when the rebels withdrew the bulk of their force from that point, was obliged to give way. General Longstreet, who is said to have brought up reinforcements to the rebels, attacked him fiercely, and finally drove him across the river, with a loss of some 6000 men. On the following day General Lee, flushed by success, threw his whole army upon General Hooker, and compelled him also to withdraw his army across the Rappahannock. Of the results of General Stoneman's raid, which was a part of the general plan, we have as yet no intelligence that is worth repeating. He should by this time have succeeded in cutting the railroad, so as to prevent the transmission of supplies, reinforcements, and ammunition to General Lee. Comment on this event would as yet be premature, and we forbear.

Turning to the other theatres of the war, we find that all is activity in the Southwest. The railroad between Vicksburg and Jackson has been cut by our cavalry, and another attack upon that strong-hold has been commenced. General Sherman has landed a force in the Yazoo, near the point where he landed before, and General Grant has disembarked his army on the Mississippi side of the river a few miles below Vicksburg. Simultaneously, the fleets, under Porter and Farragut, are said to be preparing for a new bombardment. For the first time, therefore, Vicksburg may now be said to be fairly beleaguered, and, whatever be the prospect of an assault, the difficulty experienced by the rebels in keeping up their communications must be very great indeed.

The last heard of General Banks was that he had succeeded in driving the rebels out of the richest portion of Louisiana, and had occupied the town of Alexandria, at the head of steam-boat navigation on the Red River. He has thus driven the rebel Governor of Louisiana to the very confines of the State; has cut off all the supplies which the rebels at Vicksburg had been receiving by way of the Red River; and, more important still, appears to have discovered a large number of Union men, who were only too glad to welcome his approach, and return to their allegiance.

From the army of Tennessee we have no news except that our cavalry are making some serious raids into the rebel country, destroying railroads and capturing supplies. Neither General Rosecrans nor General Bragg seem inclined to provoke the inevitable encounter; each waits for the other to move.

From Charleston a story reaches us that the iron-clads are again preparing to cross the bar. This we doubt. Still there can be no question but that the attack on this strong-hold of treason should be renewed as soon as possible, and as often as required, until it was successful. It would be well if the Navy Department were to direct Admiral Du Pont to attack Charleston once a month from this time forth, and to go on building iron-clads to replace any which might be destroyed in the attacks.

The President has described the situation in a word. We are "pegging away," and shall continue to "peg away" until our work is done.


WE publish in another column a letter from an Englishman, which purports to prove that the mass of the English people are not, as has been supposed, in alliance with the slave confederacy of the South; but that those Englishmen who have made public their sympathy with our slaveholding oligarchy are in effect themselves little better than another slaveholding oligarchy, which has been conspicuous in history as the opponent of freedom, democracy, and equal rights.

We freely admit that the people of the large cities of Great Britain—London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, etc.—have in assembled meeting testified their adherence to the great principles of human liberty which have been the basis of England's power and prosperity, and for the maintenance of which the United States are now struggling. And, insomuch as this testimony of theirs, at this particular time, confers upon us moral if not material support, the people of the United States ought to be and are grateful for it.

That gratitude, however, it is but fair to say, would be more lively if the views of our friends in England took the shape of a practical purpose instead of remaining a sentimental desire.

It profits us very little to hear that large meetings have been held in British cities in support of the Union, when at the same time we learn that new pirates are being fitted out in British dock-yards, and being sent to sea to prey upon American commerce, with the merest formality of official obstruction; when every leading newspaper in England continues to misrepresent and belie us in the most shameless and outrageous manner; and when men who are supposed to rise superior to vulgar impulses of demagogy—like Lord Palmerston, Earl Russell, and Mr. Gladstone—gratuitously falsify our condition and our purposes, and throw their official mantle over slave rebellion and blockade-running.

If these Englishmen, who are so much our friends, really mean well by us, why did they not prevent the Japan getting to sea and obtaining her armament from the Afar? Why do they sit by quietly and see the Alabama refit and coal in British ports? Why have they nothing to say to the pro-slavery articles in the leading papers, to the grossly false dispatches of Earl Russell, and the shameful perversions of fact contained in the speeches of Lord Palmerston?

It is extremely agreeable to hear that the British people are on our side; but so long as the only depredations committed on our commerce are committed by British pirates, and the only statesmen in the world who deliberately lie about us in the rebel interests are English statesmen, and the only newspapers which make a business of falsifying our record and misrepresenting us in the eyes of the world are English newspapers, we must be permitted to tone down our gratitude for British sympathy.

Englishmen must understand that we have never sought aid, moral or material, from abroad, From the recognition, by the maritime powers of Europe, of the rebels as belligerents, every one in this country has understood that we were to fight out our battle alone. All that we have asked has been non-intervention. If the Queen were to condemn the rebels in her speech to Parliament, and her ministers were to join in denouncing the nefarious attempt of Mr. Davis and his confederates to establish a slave confederacy, it would do us no good. We ask no foreign aid, and desire none. Those among us who once loved England would have liked, for her sake, to have seen her take a position in this great controversy worthy of her antecedents,

and worthy of her great men of the past. They have sorrowed to see her sink to the level of a purveyor of pirates, a manufacturer of manacles, and a sneaking ally of the meanest form of treason.


To the Editor of Harper's Weekly:

SIR,—The state of the public mind in this country has arrested my attention, and induces me to ask you to allow a stranger to offer a few remarks upon its relations with England. The struggle in which you are engaged is one in which few Englishmen are unconcerned spectators, but one in which your people too readily assume the interest to be all upon the side of the South. It need not, and indeed could not, be denied that large drafts have been made and honored upon that account; but it may be now respectfully submitted that the deposits are exhausted, and "no effects" will ere long be the indorsement. The reasons for the expression of sympathy so frequent some months ago may be epitomized as follows:

1st, Pluck. As all Englishmen admire pluck, from the bishop to the cabman, as Emerson says, so a small people numerically contending with one three or four times as many, and fighting—as it must be admitted they have fought—bravely, necessarily appealed to this powerful English principle; and men of strong impulse, animal courage, with no great mental power or cultivation, such as Sir Robert Peel (son of the Sir Robert), very readily fell into the error of forgetting the cause contended for in the way it was contested.

2d, The demonstrated feasibility of separation in the case of your own great Republic, born of our own Empire, suggested that as readily might North and South fall into two peoples; such reasoners having forgotten or overlooked the not unimportant fact that parturition and dismemberment are widely different processes; and while in the earlier case the Atlantic and the great lakes suggested a natural boundary, Nature herself has, in the latter, made perpetual presence and almost as constant antagonism the essential conditions of separation.

3d, While cotton had not seared the conscience and stopped the mouths of all England, it had laid its spell upon influential classes, such as cotton-spinners and manufacturers (not all of these, however), ship -owners and ship -brokers of the Z. C. Pearson and W. S. Lindsay school, blockade runners, and the whole hap-hazard gambling fraternity, who, as Arab freebooters, hang upon the flanks of commerce in ordinary times, seeking chances of irregular gain, but who, in times of warfare, find a wide field for their desultory activities—all these classes perpetually cried, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!" and for the same reason as their prototypes: "By this craft they have their wealth." They make noise enough for the people, but after all they are only mobs.

4th, There are the old Tories, of whom a goodly number can always be relied upon to creep out and sun themselves whenever earnest men arraign, try, and are about to execute any great criminal. Their sound and hearty lungs were expanded within the last fifty years to keep Presbyterians, Independents, Methodists, and Quakers out of Parliament—but they are there. If they died for it, no Romanist should ever enter St. Stephen's—but Daniel O'Connell gave them the benefit of his fine rich brogue. They seated themselves in their impregnable rotten boroughs, but that sad little incendiary John Russell came in with his Reform Bill, and its schedules left them bereaved Rachels. The Corporations were left them as a fit field for intolerant contempt to trample upon municipal rights, but alas! they too were reformed. But between these latter contests as great a contest as English history has witnessed under the Brunswick dynasty had to be decided, and over and after their old Port the Old Guard of abuses wheeled into line. A canting fanatic called Wilberforce, not content with depriving the people of Liverpool and Bristol of the privilege of stealing negroes, and negroes the privilege of being stolen from Africa, had dared to set on foot an agitation, and had got a few Quakers and other "nobodies," such as Buxtons, Gurneys, Sturges, Croppers, etc., to aid him in the destruction of Church and State, the spread of infidelity, destruction of morals, and all the other abominations well known both in England and America, summed up in that one word, "Abolitionism." Alas! alas! even negro slavery had to fall, and our poor but chivalric Tory squires had to pay their share of One Hundred Million Gold Dollars, or Twenty Million Pounds.

Surely now their troubles are ended; little is left to live for, except fat rent-rolls for themselves and their eldest sons, a few thousand sinecure places (or places which any noodle of influence may fill, and draw his salary on quarter-day), the church for the non-combatant, and the army for the more plucky or dashing younger sons—surely none can grudge them these! Even here the hunted stag is brought to bay. A vile place of some few hundreds of thousands of "hands," of which no gentleman had ever heard until that infernal Reform Bill was hatched, called Manchester, would not only not send up some of the country gentlemen to represent it, but would even dare to poke its dirty fingers into politics, and lo! a Manchester school is formed, and a coupe of incendiaries called Bright and Cobden propound the notable scheme of every working man eating his own loaf, with the help of his wife and children, instead of reverently and thankfully sending the first slice to the lord of the manor in the shape of a protective duty for the benefit of the English agriculturist.

There the virtue of Toryism concentrated itself. It submitted to a fresh baptism: it called itself Conservative (own brother, if I mistake not, to a character of that name recently seen dodging about certain streets in New York, and suspected by this present writer as worth watching); it even humiliated itself so far as to accept a parvenu leader;

and, warmed with its generous potions, it sang—with rather a cracked and unsteady voice, it is true—"With Peel for our pilot we'll weather the storm." Alas, poor Yorick! Peel ran them on the reef high and dry, declaring the old craft to be totally unseaworthy, went over, with his first officer, Gladstone, and several of inferior rank, to the Free Trade flag.

Excuse my lengthened digression; it has a moral for the American people. Power and Privilege fight bravely in England; their voice is heard in high places; but they inevitably go down before the march of the people.

Liberty-loving men of the North, be not discouraged! Old Toryism hates you as it has hated Liberals and Liberalism at home; but its bark is worse than its bite. It has tried to tempt the unemployed operatives—if I mistake not, Ferrand has only recently made a last attempt upon their virtue; but they, in common with the mass of Englishmen, love liberty and hate slavery. They now know their strength and their weakness.

Trimmers and time-servers in our Government and in our House of Commons know what they have to expect at the hands of an indignant country should they attempt to commit old England to any complicity with slavery; and Lord Russell and his true colleagues in the Cabinet have now the support of a great, growing, and loudly-expressed public opinion in crushing the activity of Confederate agents and mercenary ship-builders, who will soon have to give account to English law, and English opinion too, for the wrongful acts of which your Chamber of Commerce so loudly and so properly proclaims. One mistake is, however, made: the Alabama is not owned by Englishmen. Her career is looked upon with as much disgust by many Englishmen as it is in New York; and the seizure of the Alexandra, and the order, given in perfect good faith, to seize the Japan, evidence the determination of the British Government to put a stop to this business. They mean to be neutral. The people, in their might and majesty, wherever space could be found in any public buildings in London, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, York, Glasgow, etc., speak with one voice, "God bless the North!" Despite agents "acting with efficiency in moulding public opinion in Europe (see Benjamin's letter to De Leon, 13th December, 1862), the English people are well informed of the issues involved in this struggle. Cairnes's able book on the "Slave Power"—Ellison and Rawlins, who have exhausted the argument upon the Constitutionality of Secession—Bright, Forster, and Stansfield, who have examined its political bearings—Baptist Noel and Newman Hall, who have reviewed its moral aspects, and the crowd of inconsiderable "nobodies," such as T. Hughes (Tom Brown), Professors Newman and Goldwin Smith, John Stuart Mill, the Duke of Argyle, and Milner Gibson, have not spoken in vain to the middle classes, the real exponents of public opinion. The Times tried to ignore the movement, but ten thousand people in and around Exeter Hall could not be ignored. Now it scoffs and ridicules it; but the people do not mind its scoffs; and its able and honest competitor, the Daily News, presents the facts and able reasonings thereon, as does the Star; and, with few exceptions, the leading provincial papers, such as the Leeds Mercury, Birmingham Daily Post, Manchester Examiner and Times, Liverpool Daily Post, Caledonian Mercury, and Belfast Northern Whig vigorously counteract the Times teachings. Let the American people and Congress vigorously act out President Lincoln's Proclamation, and they may be assured of the good wishes of old England. In the words of the great and good Dr. Guthrie, Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, "THE ADVANCED POSITION WHICH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND THE NORTH HAVE TAKEN ON THE SUBJECT OF SLAVERY HAS MADE THEIR CAUSE THAT OF HUMANITY AND RELIGION; THEREFORE I CAN NOT BUT WISH, AND HEARTILY WISH, THEM SUCCESS AGAINST A POWER WHICH RESTS ON PRINCIPLES AS INSULTING TO GOD AS THEY ARE CRUEL TO MAN."

I am, Sir, respectfully,


May 2,1863.



BETWEEN great nations, as Washington said, in his Farewell Address, there can be no romantic friendship; but there can be, and there is, a degree of friendliness, ranging from a thinly-masked hostility up to an expression and action of cordial sympathy. These extremes of political friendliness between states are illustrated in the conduct and expression of Lord Russell in Great Britain and of Count Cavour in Italy, before the death of that greatest of modern statesmen, as reported in the correspondence with the State Department of Mr. Marsh, our Minister to Italy. Self-respect, therefore, and the cause of popular civil liberty. for which this Government is contending, require that its relations with Great Britain should be regulated by a strict and cold regard to the letter of the law, and nothing further.

If Cavour were still living and directing the foreign policy of Italy, and the Peterhoff had been sailing under the Italian flag when she was arrested upon suspicion, the surrender of her mail-bag, even although it might have been retained upon strictly technical grounds, would not have touched so deeply the honor of this nation. It would have been a concession, but it would have been made willingly, to mark our perception of the different bearing of one neutral power from another. In the actual case, however, there was no call for the least concession, even in appearance. If the Peterhoff were justly detained, every spar and rope and marling-spike and piece of paper on board were equally good prize. If she were unjustly captured, there should have been not a moment's delay upon the part of the Government in amply apologizing and compensating. But until that (Next Page)




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