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Civil War Harper's Weekly, August 27, 1864

This site features an online version of the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. Harper's was the most popular newspaper of the Civil War era, and these papers serve as a valuable source of original documentation of the war. We hope you enjoy browsing these old newspapers.

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City Point

City Point

Army Songs

Mobile Bay

Battle Mobile Bay


Before Petersburg

Ezra's Church

Ezra's Church Battle




Cemetery Ridge

Charge on Cemetery Ridge


Ruins of Charleston

Central Park

Central Park

Ezra's Church

Battle of Ezra's Church




[AUGUST 27, 1864.


Songs of the Army



OLD girl that hast borne me far and fast On pawing hoofs that were never loth, Our gallop to-day may be the last

For thee, or for me, or perchance for both!

As I tighten your girth do you nothing daunt? Do you catch the hint of our forming line?

And now the artillery move to the front,

Have you never a qualm, Bay Bess of mine?

It is dainty to see you sidle and start

As you move to the battle's cloudy marge, And to feel the swells of your wakening heart

When our sonorous bugles sound a charge;

At the scream of the shell and the roll of the drum

You feign to be frightened with roguish glance; But up the green slopes where the bullets hum,

Coquettishly, darling, I've known you dance.

Your skin is satin, your nostrils red,

Your eyes are a bird's or a loving girl's; And from delicate fetlock to stately head

A throbbing vein-cordage around you curls:—Oh, joy of my heart! if you they slay,

For triumph or rout I little care;

For there isn't in all the wide valley to-day Such a dear little, bridle-wise, thorough-bred mare !



WE have heard the rebel yell,

We have heard the Union shout,

We have weighed the matter very well

And mean to fight it out;

In victory's happy glow,

In the gloom of utter rout,

We have pledged ourselves—" Come weal or woe, By Heaven! we fight it out."

'Tis now too late to question

What brought the war about; 'Tis a thing of pride and passion

And we mean to fight it out. Let the "big wigs" use the pen,

Let them caucus, let them spout, We are half a million weaponed men

And mean to fight it out.

Our dead, our loved, are crying

From many a stormed redoubt,
In the swamps and trenches lying

" Oh, comrades, fight it out! 'Twas our comfort as we fell

To hear your gathering shout, Rolling back the rebels' weaker yell

God-speed you, fight it out!"

The negro—free or slave

We care no pin about,

But for the flag our fathers gave We mean to fight it out;

And while that banner brave

One rebel rag shall flout,

With volleying arm and flashing glaive By Heaven ! we fight it out !

Oh, we've heard the rebel yell,

We have heard the Union shout.

We have weighed the matter very well,

And mean to fight it out ;
In the flush of perfect triumph.

And the gloom of utter rout,

We have sworn on many a bloody field

" We mean to fight it out!"




IF we would all only bear in mind the chances and conditions of every war, we should be less disposed to grumble over our mishaps or reason too confidently from our successes. That the campaign of this summer was to be fierce, protracted, and like all campaigns, uncertain, every thoughtful man was aware. That LEE, if too sorely pressed to risk a battle in the open field, could fall back, and with a trained army, behind the defenses of Richmond, hold GRANT long at bay, was as evident a possibility as it is now a plain fact. That some one or many of the accessory movements of GRANT might fail, and so delay and embarrass his own operations, was as probable in May as it is proved in August. That SHERMAN'S campaign was as dangerous as it was daring ; that to penetrate an enemy's country in the face of his army and through a most difficult region where nature was his most efficient ally, to advance further and further from your base, exposing your supplies to the flying assaults of guerrilla hordes hovering upon your flanks and rear, was a movement full of constant peril whose failure would be as unfortunate as its triumph would he magnificent and vital, and that necessarily both in Virginia and Georgia, the progress of events could not be other than gradual, since only very foolish people believed in a sudden " collapse" of the rebellion, or " breaking its back-bone" at a stroke—all these things we ought to have known if we did not; and we shall individually not plume ourselves very much upon having suggested last April and

May, because the consideration was so obvious, to those who wished to wait until August before nominating a President that there was no reason to suppose the campaign would end by August. But because the campaign is not yet decided, because GRANT is still before Richmond and SHERMAN not yet in possession of Atlanta, we are regaled with the ancient taunt of the enemy, "You can't conquer the South;" and with the old whine of the friend, " Oh dear ! the North loves dirt, and wishes to be humiliated."

Now the whole question of this war is a question of character. That the Government—or, in other words, the people—have the power to subdue the rebels and restore the Union, is undeniable. The only inquiry is, will they exert the power, or have they become indifferent? We confess that we see no sign of it. The excitement and enthusiasm of the opening war have of course passed away. The apparent unanimity has disappeared; and the party divisions which in every country, at every period, and in every war, have been developed, are evident among ourselves. The enormous expense, the inevitable civil, military, and naval blunders, which also accompany every great war, have appeared, and with them the bitter partisan appeals to political hostility based upon systematic misrepresentation, and sustained by secret sympathy with the enemy. The foolish prophecies and deceits of the press, which are by no means always willful, but often the result of enthusiasm and imperfect information, have also fitfully exalted and depressed the sensitive national heart, until now, in the fourth year of the war, with a Presidential election coming on, the fury of party difference is so hot that many a doubtful observer wonders whether patriotism is not altogether lost and the country ruined.

No ; the time for that question is passed. The enemies of this country never had so fair a chance as in the winter of 1860-61, and that chance is lost forever. Those enemies were united, ready, firm, and every advantage, moral and physical, was theirs. The North—to use a convenient term—was sure neither of its cause nor of its purpose ; it doubted not only whether it had a right to fight, but whether it wanted to, or whether it could. Its traditions and habits were all those of peace : it was a trader, and war ruined trade; for slavery it cared very little; the first thing it feared, and had always avoided at any cost, was attempted disunion; the second thing was interruption of its trade; it felt itself doubting, demoralized, half despairing ; it saw that it had nine hundred soldiers in its army, four ships in its navy, and five hundred thousand dollars in its treasury; it heard many of the trusted leaders of " Northern" sentiment loudly crying, "Let them go!" "Let them go !" it was sure of nothing whatever but its own doubt. It seemed a moribund, effete nation, a huge mummy, apparently erect, but which the slightest touch would bring down in dust. That was the most horrible, the most humiliating hour that any true American has ever known. And just as the appalled spectator listened to hear the death-rattle from these shriveled lips they suddenly swelled with the red blood from the heart, and the battle-cry of life burst from them exultingly.

Into the struggle we went. Every thing was to do, and every thing was done : armies to be raised and trained ; a navy to be built : a treasury to be filled; every kind of treachery and plotted disaster to be encountered and endured ; selfishness, incapacity, lying, swindling, upon the most colossal scale and in every department, civil and military; the shame of defeats; the scorn and hostility of foreigners; the gradual unmasking of domestic faction ; the angry debates about policy; the imperfect general apprehension of the real nature of the contest; the rise of a. rebel party among ourselves under the name of peace; the partisan assertion of State rights against the national supremacy; sharp differences among loyal men ; foolish denunciations and personal spites ; the menace of imminent financial convulsion and universal ruin all these difficulties, in every form and in all degrees, the character and spirit, in one word, the patriotism, of the American people has had to encounter and resolve, and it has not failed.

It has maintained tranquility in the loyal States and steadily repelled invasion; it has raised such an army and fought such battles as no American had conceived; it has built a navy which has successfully blockaded half the Atlantic coast of the continent; it has supplied an adequate currency and averted serious financial panic; it has occupied New Orleans and opened the Mississippi; advanced from the Ohio to Chattanooga, from Chattanooga to Atlanta ; it beleaguers the chief rebel host in its capital; it threatens, under auspices of victory, Mobile ; it has steadily compressed and reduced the area of the rebellion until now it is striking at its vital centres; while every nerve of the rebel strength is strained, every man, woman, and child that a despotism of terror can drag into the service is arrayed against us, stimulated by every frantic appeal, and assured that they are defending their hearths and their honor. Mean-while the Government, so patient and forbearing as to alienate some of its most loyal friends who denounce it as weak and vacillating and stupid, yet so resolute and prompt as to be nursed

by its factious enemies as an intolerable tyranny, stands ready to hear and consider every authorized offer of peace which may be made by the rebels. No man whose opinion is free from factious bias believes that the Government wishes another shot fired in this war, or has any other desire than the restoration and permanent security of the Union.

If these things are so—and who will deny it—is there any reason for shaking and shuddering ? We all meet a great many loud Copperheads and faint hearted patriots every day but in all wars the grumblers, and doubters, and opponents are always apparently more numerous than the devoted and energetic friends, unless—as in France in '93, and in the slave States now—the opposition is suppressed by terror. There are not half so many Copperheads and faint hearted patriots among us now as there were in the Revolution. Every difficulty we encounter was ten fold greater in our fathers time. Sometimes the clouds of discontent and opposition were so thick that WASHINGTON himself was almost discouraged. But he knew that a people which had been willing to try the struggle with the great British empire could not fail. It was a question of character, and the quality of character had been shown by undertaking the contest. So with us, the odds against the Government at the opening of this war were enormous. But they have been baffled. The sneers, the grumbles, the threats, the denunciations, the appeals, the doleful prophecies, the shouts of enemies, the dismal quakings of friends, do not and can not avail against a clear, steady, patriotic purpose which carries the nation along. The Cowboys of the Revolution tinkled their dolorous bells like the Copperhead Conservatives of the rebellion. But the people were neither cows nor cowards ; and they made a nation. Their children have already shown themselves worthy of their sires. Be of good cheer, O ye of little faith ! the soul of the American people is marching on.


THAT the Administration is not the Government is a very favorite proposition of those who refuse the slightest sympathy or aid to the war. It is certainly not a very original proposition, but it is urged with all the ardor of a new discovery and the excitement of a profound truth. A man, for instance, sneers at every measure of the Administration; embarrasses in every way the raising of men and money; misrepresents every loyal act, and is unending in his praises of the rebel ability, courage, and resources, and in his censure of the outrageous conduct of the North in exasperating the Southern gentlemen to revolt ; in fact, gives all the moral aid and comfort in his power to the men who are trying to destroy the Union. If you tell him that he is not a very strong friend of the Government, he replies with the air of a man who is making an excellent repartee, " Sir, the Administration is not the Government."

Very true : neither is the body the soul. But when a Government is assailed a man can pursue but one of two courses ; he must either help save the Government by aiding those who administer it, or by refusing to aid them he must co-operate with the enemy.

For instance, if a Government is attacked by force, it must have men to defend itself; and it can call for them and use them only through the Administration. But if you go about denouncing the Administration as tyrannical, oppressive, and wicked, and insist that its purposes are selfish and base, you do all you can to over throw the Government, because you endeavor to prevent the raising of men by the Administration, by which means only can the Government be defended. So with the loan : if you decry the credit of the nation, prophesy inevitable financial ruin, extol the desperate determination of the enemy to be annihilated rather than to submit, and promise every poor man death instead of a chicken in his pot, you hinder the Administration from raising money; and you consequently do all you can to destroy the Government, which can not be maintained without it.

The Government is visible and practicable, and operative only in the Administration. Our Government is the administration of the power of the people by their consent, and according to the Constitution. If the people elect a Congress which passes laws which the Administration executes, and any citizen, saying that the laws are unconstitutional, refuses to obey, he is forced to yield or to pay the penalty of disobedience. If he can persuade a great body of others to join him, they may exclude the Administration; but they have also overthrown the Government, because the fundamental law prescribes a course of action, in case of dissent, which they have not regarded.

Therefore for a party to say that they will support an administration so far as it acts constitutionally is folly. For does the Constitution make them or any citizen the judge of what is constitutional? Does a measure or policy become unconstitutional because a party caucus or convention denounces it as such ? Besides, if a party is honestly persuaded that an administration

is unconstitutional in its general policy, how can it support it in raising an army, for instance, by which it may enforce its unconstitutional measures ? The Opposition say that they are in favor of the Government which is endangered by the Administration. How, then, can they conscientiously strengthen an administration which threatens the Government ?

This is the point upon which the logic of Mr. FERNANDO WOOD is stronger than that of those who declare their hostility to the Administration, and yet insist upon supporting the Government by men and money. The truth is, the Government of the United States is to be attacked and defended only in the Administration. Elect a peace Administration, and you overthrow that Government. Elect a war Administration. and evidently you can maintain the Government only by supporting the Administration; which is, in other words, supporting its policy. Therefore, if any man believed, what a great many men say, that the Administration is trying to over throw the Government, it would be his patriotic duty to save it by depriving the Administration of men and money. But to do that is to secure the triumph of the rebellion. What then.? He is of opinion that the Administration is as rebellions as the rebellion.

It was a great political blunder of the Opposition not to see and avoid the danger of the cry that the Administration is not the Government, and that the Administration is unconstitutional—because that led them to justify those who refuse to support the Administration, which a man with one eye could see was surrendering the Government, and so placed them by the side of the rebels. The true point of attack should have been the attempt to show what they would denounce as the folly, the weakness, the blunders, the extravagance of the Administration, while they stoutly supported its calls for men and money : showing as artfully as possible that the Administration with all its faults must be endured because it was constitutionally elected, and the alternative of its overthrow was anarchy; while the war should be prosecuted more vigorously and more economically under another administration. This is what DOUGLAS would have done—what any great party leader would have done.

Instead of this they denounce the Administration as treacherous to the Government, and thereby compel themselves to follow Mr. FERNANDO WOOD. Does any sane American suppose that that following leads to national union, liberty, or honor? This war is to be prosecuted to the victory of the Union, or it is to be stopped upon terms that rebels may prescribe. Is there any possible candidate among those who have opposed the Administration whose name would he a guarantee of greater vigor in conducting the war? And if not, is not the defeat of the Administration a step toward the overthrow of the Government?


SOME months since appeared a large and handsome edition of the Federalist, edited by Mr. HENRY B. DAWSON. The publication was presently followed by a highly animated correspondence in the papers between the editor, Mr. DAWSON, and Messrs. JAMES A. HAMILTON and JOHN JAY, mainly touching the aid and approbation the latter gentlemen were asserted or implied to have given to the new edition. So far as the controversy was personal we believe it is ended ; but in " Mr. JAY'S Second Letter on DAWSON'S Introduction to the Federalist" there are points of profound public concern.

We have more than once alluded to the attempt now making to denationalize the Union in the popular mind. The friends and political allies of the rebel leaders, under the cry of State Rights and State Sovereignty, are following Mr. CALHOUN in his effort to establish the popular conviction that the Union is a League of sovereign and independent States, and that the Constitution is a treaty of whose obligations, as of the scope of his allegiance to it, each sovereign is the judge. This doctrine, of course, is the end of the Union, of' the Government, and of the Nation; and is the complete triumph of the rebellion. The Federalist has been always considered the impregnable defense of the doctrine of American nationality in the Union. It was therefore a skillful plan of the enemies of the Union to attempt to undermine that defense. This plan, according to Mr. JAY, has been matured, and the object of his Second Letter is to show that SCRIBNER'S comely edition of the Federalist is and is to be edited by Mr. DAWSON, for a second volume is yet to come, to shake the fundamental faith of the American people in the truth that their fathers in forming the Union practically founded a nation.

It seems that our old friends of the Society for the Diffusion of Political Knowledge, headed by Mr. S. F. B. Mouse, issued, some time during the last year, a work called " Citizenship Sovereignty, by J. S. Wright, assisted by Professor J. Holmes Agnew, D.D., Chicago. Published for American citizens, the true maintainers of State Sovereignty"—no name of printer or publisher appearing. The burden of this book, as the reader may suspect, is the loveliness of human slavery, and the doctrine that (Next Page)




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