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Civil War Harper's Weekly, September 3, 1864

Welcome to our archive of original Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers. These papers are full of interesting stories, dramatic illustrations, and thoughtful analysis of the war . . . all created by people who were there at the time. It is an incredible resource for increasing your understanding of the war.

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Sherman March

Sherman March Through Georgia

1864 Democratic Convention

Stone Mountain Raid

General McCook

General Daniel McCook

John Grigg

John Grigg

War Council

War Council

Chicago Convention

Chicago Convention

Negro Cartoon

Mobile Bay

Battle Mobile Bay

Peace Poster

Peace Poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

566

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[SEPTEMBER 3, 1864.

(Previous Page) Confederate States to Nassau averages about fifty hours ; but these fifty hours are crowded with an excitement that a voyage of fifty days would fail in producing. From the time of leaving Cape Fear River, Wilmington, to the time of sighting Nassau and getting into British waters, these craft are never safe from being overhauled by a Northern man-of-war. Nassau is the point whence most of the blockaders start with the cargoes destined for the Southern Confederacy, and it is here that they return with their bales of Sea Island and Upland cotton, which they have obtained in exchange for the rifles, blankets, and shoes so much needed by the Southern soldier. The climate of the Bahamas, of which New Providence is one of the group, is almost tropical ; oranges, shaddocks, bananas, cocoanuts, pineapples, and many other varieties of fruit abound, and the diversity of foliage in which the charming bungalow residences are embedded is most attractive." The population of the town is about 10,000.

GEN. SHERMAN'S CAMPAIGN.

ON our first page and on page 564 we give illustrations of General SHERMAN'S campaign. The sketch on the first page represents General SHERMAN holding a council of war at WOOD'S head-quarters. General SHERMAN holds his councils of war with himself. The different generals seem to listen rather than to suggest. The General speaks his thoughts aloud, and the words uttered on this occasion disclose the movement that he has in his mind for some day in the future.

On page 564 we illustrate the capture of the rebel wagon train by General EDWARD McCOOK. A full description of the incident will be found in our news column. General McCOOK has made the only raid in the rear of Atlanta that has any semblance of a success. He succeeded in destroying the Macon Road for a short distance, and burned a considerable number of wagons, which were mostly head-quarter trains. His escape from the trap set for him, and the gallant manner in which he cut himself out, are spoken of with pride by the army.

Captain DE GRESS, whose portrait is given on page 564, commands Battery H, First Illinois Artillery. The following gallant action is thus recorded by our correspondent: On the 22d of July the battery of Captain DE GRESS was placed by order of General SHERMAN in such a position as to throw shells from his 20-pounders into Atlanta. The rebels came charging through the railroad cut to the left of the battery. The supports gave way. DE GRESS saw at once that his guns were gone. He directly ordered his guns pointed left oblique, and gave the charging rebels double canister, at the rate of four rounds per minute. Soon he had two of his guns spiked, and ordered his men to get away, remaining himself with one sergeant (PETER WYMAN), using one gun as rapidly as possible. Still the enemy came on, and when within less than twenty steps an officer called to him to surrender. DE GRESS, who stood with the lanyard of either gun in his hands, shouted, "Certainly, come on !" at the same moment discharging his two guns, and called to WYMAN, who stood with pincers and spikes, to spike under the cover of the smoke and get away. DE GRESS saw the spike driven into the last gun, and as he started a storm of shot was sent after him. The sergeant was killed, but DE GRESS escaped uninjured. General LOGAN, who was coming up at the head of Colonel MARTIN'S brigade, was met by DE GRESS, who told the General that his guns were lost. " Oh no, Captain," said the General, "WOOD'S guns have been turned upon the horses of your battery, and I think that those chaps will hardly get them away before I have this brigade charging clear over them." In less than a quarter of an hour DE GRESS, who had gone up with the charging column, was busy drawing the spike of one of his guns, which was very soon sending canister into the retreating rebels, the infantry officers near acting as cannoniers under the direction of Captain DE GRESS, who has met with the sincere applause of the general officers who witnessed his gallantry. Captain DE GRESS is a young officer of French extraction, and is considered the finest artillerist in the Army of the Tennessee.

AN OLD MAID'S STORY.

"MY dears," I said to the three children I had nursed and reared for upward of fifteen years, till the eldest was a grown-up young lady of eighteen—" my dears, mother is getting a poor weakly old body, and there's no one to mind her and the shop at home, and I am afraid I shall have to leave you. It would break my heart to go if our house wasn't in the same street, and I can see you every day. But I can never say good-by to you, so I'll run away early some morning."

Of course I waited till they could hire a new servant, a long lanky girl that moved slowly about the house, and took no interest in any thing ; and even then, though I was badly wanted at home, I could hardly find it in my heart to tear myself away from the children and the old master, who was getting infirm and weakly, like mother ; for he was in years when he married, being a minister on a middling sort of a salary, and he had made up his mind not to venture upon the expenses of a family till he had saved five thousand dollars clear, so that he was upward of forty before he had gathered all that sum together. Mrs. Ambery, poor dear, had been waiting for him ever since she was a girl of twenty, and he only five years older ; waiting all that weary time, with an ache and pain at her heart as her girlhood passed by and the prime of her years faded, till her hair began to grow gray, and all across-her forehead were fine little wrinkles that could be seen plainly enough by daylight. On her wedding-day, when the sun shone as brightly as if she was only twenty again, you could have counted the lines one by one as soon as she lifted up her white veil to sign her name in the register.

Well, poor dear Mrs. Ambery was taken away from her husband and children when Rebecca, her

eldest, was just eight years old. The little children sat in the pew with their father on the Sunday night when the pastor from another church preached Mrs. Ambery's funeral sermon, and every body wept, and said it was a very affecting occasion. There was the grave child Rebecca, and pretty Katie, just turned six, and little delicate Nellie, not quite four ; while Mr. Ambery, who had never looked a young man, seemed stricken fully ten years older by the death of his Catherine.

About two years after Mrs. Ambery's death my old master called me into his study one night after the children were gone to bed. "Mary,"said he—he was sitting by the fire, stooping badly—" Mary, come forward and sit down by the fire. I want to speak with you."

I crossed the room and sat down as he bade use, and as I looked into his face, which was greatly troubled, I saw the tears standing in his eyes.

"Mary," he said, wiping his eyes, "I've been pastor of this church ever since I was eight-and-twenty years of age, and from time to time my in-come has been raised. It has been a little hard upon the members, perhaps, to raise the salary, for they are not rich people, and our dependence has been upon the pew-rents. But for the last two years—since that time, Mary—the congregation has been dwindling away before my eyes. God knows I have done my best, though His hand is heavy upon me. But it is hinted to me quietly, not officially, that my people wish me to give place to a younger and more energetic man. They would give me a pension of two hundred dollars a year, and obtain for me a further sum from a fund for aged and disabled ministers, upon which income they want me to retire."

" I wouldn't do it, Sir," I answered, warmly ; "they can not turn you out, and that sum would never keep you and the three children respectably."

"Nay," said the minister, "I dare not refuse; my spirit is broken, and shrinks from conflict. Moreover, Mary, I am not solely dependent upon my ministerial income. I have private property which brings me in over two hundred dollars a year."

In the course of a few months we retired upon a pension, and as our income was a good deal lessened, I gave the other servant notice, and we settled down in a small but well-looking house, a little back from the street, in as respectable a part of the town as one could desire, with the little shop of confectionery, which my mother kept herself by, not more than a stone's-throw off.

Rebecca was quite a pattern of a child, the very picture of her poor dead mother, with fine little lines upon her forehead before she was twelve years old, and a careful look in her face as if she was saving up the very fun and mirth a child ought to have. Never was any young creature so strait-handed and sparing ; even while she was small enough to have a doll she stinted and contrived for it like a full-grown mother. Katie and Nellie were merry little romps, like other children, and a very sore exercise of spirit were they often and often to Rebecca.

It was five years since I left the children. Katie was gone out as a governess ; and Mr. Ambery had sunk further into an infirm old age, and left every thing to Rebecca. She grew more saving than ever ; and though she gave away a tenth of their income to charity and religion, because she believed it to be right to do so, it was quite as a bargain with Providence that no losses through ill-health or misfortunes should come upon them. She would scarcely spend a farthing upon herself. She wore no flowers, or flounces, or ribbons, like other girls; yet with all that, and the fine faint lines upon her face —which nobody could see so well as I did, who knew her poor dear mother—she was by far the prettiest young lady that attended our church, when Katie was away.

The young minister—the second since Mr. Ambery resigned—took a fancy to Rebecca. It was edifying, even to me who knew her little faults, to see her at public worship, with her dark eyes down cast, and the beautiful long lashes lying over on her cheeks, as still and quiet as on a baby's sleeping face. The minister never caught her eye wandering, nor even lifted up to himself, until he read out his text, and then they fixed on him with a steady, serious gaze, as if he was some angel from heaven, who could have no earthly thoughts of love or any thing of that sort.

Early one morning, while I was mixing my dough for the breakfast-rolls, the shop-bell rang furiously, and who should rush through into my bake-house but Rebecca, with nothing on her head save a shawl ! There she stood, gasping for breath, with her hand pressed against her bosom, and her large dark eyes looking larger and blacker from the ashy paleness of her face. My own heart beat the sight of her till I could not speak, and we stood staring at one another in silence, as if the last day was come.

" Your father," I gasped out at last.

" He is asleep," she muttered with difficulty ; " I haven't told him nor Nellie."

" Katie !" I cried.

" No, no," she answered, " she is all right." And I leaned my head down upon my floury hands, and cried for very joy: for I had thought of nothing but that one of them was dead.

So I took Rebecca into my little kitchen, all trembling and shivering as she was, and set her down in my mother's arm-chair upon the hearth, keeping her hand pressed hard upon her heart to quiet its beating, till the color began to come back into her face, and the sobs died away so that she could speak.

" Mary," she said, in a grand reasoning sort of way, as if she was setting me up for a judge, " you have known us all our lives. Have we ever been like other girls, flaunting, and idle, and extravagant ? Have I not kept myself and my sisters aloof from all evil as carefully as my mother would have done ? I have given a tenth of all our income to the poor."

" My dear, " I interrupted, for though I was proud of her and the other two, I did not like to hear her talk in that manner, " there are no young ladies equal to you in all the town. But what ever is the matter ?"

" Listen," she said, and she read to me a lawyer's letter, with a great many whereases and not withstandings in it ; but the pith of it, as I could make it out, was, that the old scoundrel, Mr. Corbett, gave notice to Mr. Ambery that he had the sum of five thousand dollars to pay on that day six months. Red as my face was from the heat of the oven I felt it going as pale as Rebecca's own.

"My dear," I whispered, for it seemed too dreadful to speak about loud, "how is it ? What is the meaning of it?"

"I hardly know," she said; "all I can under-stand is, that my father was made a trustee to a marriage-settlement belonging to a cousin of Mr. Corbett's more than thirty years ago ; and this money was left in my father's hands, or Mr. Corbett is trying to make out that it was."

We sat speechless some minutes after that, till Rebecca burst out again crying and wringing her hands.

" Oh, I wish I was a man !" she sobbed.

"Why does he come upon us now, after all these years ?" I asked.

" His cousin is just dead," she answered. " Mr. Corbett is executor of his will, and is winding up his affairs, I suppose."

There were no breakfast-rolls made that morning. I went down home with Rebecca, and she carried her father's breakfast up stairs to bed as usual, and we waited as patiently as we could till he was dressed and had finished his own private prayers, which seemed longer than ever that day. But he came down stairs at length, looking so calm and tranquil, with his thin white hair brushed back from his kindly face, that the moment Rebecca saw him she ran and threw her arms round his neck, and leaning her head upon his breast, wept there as she had never done before.

We should have told Mr. Ambery at one for Rebecca's strange conduct alarmed him, but his first thought, like mine, was that something had happened to Katie. There was a letter from the child to her eldest sister left unopened on the table, for the lawyer's letter had caught Rebecca's eye first ; but now she broke the seal, and read it out aloud in a dry hard voice—such a letter ! for it had been written in a merry, yet timid, fluttering confidence, telling what the young creature scarcely dared to confess to herself, that away from home and all of us, she had found some one whom she could love better than us all. And there stood Rebecca, reading it out before every body, hardly knowing what the sense was ; and just folding it up like a common letter when she had finished it.

"But listen to this, father," she said, tossing Katie's letter aside like a useless thing, and while the father was dwelling upon his child's words, Rebecca read the dreadful notice in a clear and distinct voice, as if it were a sermon. Mr. Ambery did not hearken at first, but as she went on he fixed his eyes upon her, and a look of vexation and anxiety settled on his face.

" My love," he said, almost peevishly, " I never touched that money in my life."

"Then what does all this mean?" asked Rebecca.

" I don't know what it means," he answered, in a helpless manner. "I do just remember Mary Corbett. Yes, she married Thompson, who went to college with me, but took to some business after-ward. I was trustee to her marriage-settlement, and John Ward was the other. It' either of the trustees had the money in his hands it was Ward, but he died years ago. They are all dead now."

"But, father," said Rebecca, who had a good head for business matters, " the money would be invested in some way or paid into a bank, and you would get some receipt or acknowledgment for it. Just try to recollect."

" Ah !" he cried, after a few minutes' thought, "I remember Ward bringing me a document, which he said was a deed of release. But it is thirty years ago, and I must have put it into some place of safety. We must find it, and send it to Mr. Corbett."

The finding was easier to speak of than to do. Mr. Ambery had been writing sermons ever since he was twenty ; and as if he had been one of those Turks I heard of at a missionary meeting who think it a sin to destroy a bit of paper, and I thought of the master the moment they were mentioned; he had kept every sermon and writing of his own, as though they were sacred, precious things. Also, he had kept every letter he had received. Ah ! there were all his wife's letters, for all the weary years they were waiting, tied up in packets for each twelve months ; and Rebecca's white face, with the lines growing harder and plainer upon it, bent over them anxiously, as she unfolded one after another, to see if peradventure the costly document was among them. We were the more certain that the master had never made away with it, from the very numbers of the papers that were stored away in one place or another ; even to a little closet under the caves, so full that when the door was opened the bundles of yellow sermons rolled out along the pas-sage floor. But Rebecca sought perseveringly ; and when she had searched in vain through every pack-et, she began again, though with a feeling of despair, and went through her wearisome task a second time, so sure were we all that Mr. Ambery had put the deed in safety somewhere.

I did not tell Rebecca, but some ugly reports were being whispered about the town, and I wondered how the matter got abroad. Even the members of the church began to ask where the old minister's money came from.

We were sitting all together that night after evening prayer, and Mr. Ambery was smoking his pipe as peacefully as if there was neither sorrow nor care in the world, when Rebecca laid aside her mending—she always seemed to be mending rather than making—and she spoke in a hard, decisive manner, as though she had quite made up her mind how the present misfortune should be managed.

" Father," she said, " the deed of release is no-where in the house. The claim is unjust and wicked, but Mr. Corbett has too much sense to make it if it is illegal, and it will swallow up the savings of your

lifetime. I see only one way to escape out of our difficulty."

"My love," said her father, laying down his pipe, and folding his hands one over the other, as he looked into her anxious face, so like Mrs. Ambery's, "your poor mother and I denied ourselves all the joys and pleasures of youth to gather this money together for you children. It was a great sacrifice, and I would not lose the fruit of it willingly. What am I to do?"

" The money is your own, father," she answered, " but you can not keep it as yours. Give it to us children at once. Withdraw it from your investment, and make a gift of it in equal shares to us three. They could take it away from you, but not from us."

" And what will they do to me ?" asked the old man.

" They may make you a bankrupt," she cried, rising and flinging her arms round his neck, "but we shall love you more, and all good people will not honor you less."

" Rebecca," said Mr. Ambery, " this morning Mr. Craig came hither to tell me that evil reports have arisen. They say that I have possessed my-self of this money fraudulently, and already a church meeting is decided upon to investigate my conduct. My good name is more precious to me than gold or silver. What think you, my daughter? If I con-sent to do this thing which you propose, could I lift up my face before the congregation, or raise my voice in the church to deny this charge ? Shall I say, `My money is justly my own, but I can not prove it so, and to save it from being wrested from me, whether I came by it honestly or dishonestly, I have given it over unto my children; let the accuser take what he can?' Rebecca, you shall decide this thing."

Not a word had Rebecca heard before either of the scandal or the church meeting, and as her father spoke of them she stood before him as if turned into stone, with clenched hands, and lips half open, and forehead furrowed with deep, dreadful thoughts. It was terrible to her pride to think of her father bearing the name of bankrupt, but the blot of dishonesty was a thousand times harder, and she had to weigh pride and dishonor against the long growing of a love and care for money. All of us looking upon her knew that she was wrestling with temptation, and we held our breath, and turned away our eyes, whispering low down in our inmost spirits a prayer for her. There was a long, long silence, while we neither moved nor sighed, and there was no sound but the crackling of the embers in the grate as they wasted away in the consuming flame.

" Father," cried Rebecca, throwing herself on her knees beside him, " I've loved this money; oh ! I've loved it more than I knew myself. You laid it up for us, saving it from your own youth to make ours easier, and must the thief break through and steal the treasure ? Well, let it go. Any thing to keep your good name free. I will love no money again."

I never saw the young creature, who had grown old before her time, look so radiant and youthful as she knelt there, smiling bravely into her father's face. Mr. Craig would have given something for that vision, I guess. We drew a long breath of re-lief and gladness, and spoke no more of the trouble that night.

The very next day Joshua Lamb, Mr. Corbett's clerk, came in to buy a cheese-cake or two after his dinner, and as I had my own purpose to serve (no doubt he, being a lawyer's clerk, had his also), I invited him to step into my kitchen, and made my-self agreeable to him. A man, even if he is a lawyer's clerk, is sometimes outwitted by a woman, and by-and-by my gentleman began talking in a very low and confidential tone, loaning over the small round table between us, till I almost drew back from him, only I was too wary for that.

The day the church meeting was to be held Katie came home for the Michaelmas holidays. We had told her nothing, and I suppose little notice had been taken of her confidential letter to Rebecca, for when we were alone together (she and I) she pouted, and blushed up to the roots of her hair, and then hid her face upon my shoulder.

"You will care about it, " she murmured, "though Rebecca doesn't, because she intends to be an old maid herself. Oh, he is such a darling ! And you're not to suppose you are going to step over my head, if you do go and marry Joshua Lamb, and have that lovely carpet of fern-leaves. I'll be higher than you yet. If you marry the clerk I'll marry the master !"

"My dear," I cried, thinking of that awful scoundrel, Mr. Corbett, "don't make a jest of such a dreadful thing."

"'But I will make a jest of it," she said, " and it isn't dreadful to be married, you best of old maids. We'll work Joshua just as hard whether you marry him or not, and Harry shall have fine times with doing nothing but mind me. Why, Marv, aren't you glad for me to settle down at home among you all ?"

"But who is Harry?" I asked.

" The nephew of Mr. Corbett, the great rich lawyer here," she answered. "Ile is to become his partner now he has finished his law studies, and we are to be quite grand, you know. Why, Harry's father died a little time ago, and left him I don't know how much money."

I felt sick at heart to hear Katie rattle on about Harry Thompson and his uncle; but I could not gather up strength to tell her about the trouble at home, just then in the first glee of coming back to us. So in the evening we only told her there was going to be a church meeting, and as I had been a member of the church for sonic years, to be an ex-ample to my children I went down to walk with Mr. Ambery and Rebecca to the church. Rebecca and I took our seats quite hack, and my poor child covered her face with a thick veil. But Mr. Ambery went and took his customary place among the deacons, with the young minister presiding over them, just underneath the pulpit, from which he had taught and comforted the church for upward


 

 

  

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