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SUNDAY
MAY 15
, 1864
THE DAILY PICAYUNE (LA)

Extension of French Power.

It is said that the charter of the Tehuantepec Railroad Company has been sold to French capitalists. The details of the transaction have not transpired, but the fact of the transfer is asserted upon good authority. Report has it that work upon the route is shortly to be resumed by the new company, who have received a guarantee of protection from the Imperial Government, the Emperor (Napoleon) himself taking a personal interest in the success of the enterprise. If this report be confirmed–and we have no reason to doubt the facts are as stated–an event has transpired, second in importance, so far as this country is concerned, only to the establishment of the Mexican Empire. The commercial world, and especially this city, have long been aware of the incomparable advantages which the Isthmus of Tehuantepec offered for the opening of an inter-oceanic route, nor have they overlooked the vast impulse which the establishment of such a line would give to trade and travel between the American shores of the Atlantic and Pacific. Notwithstanding all this was clearly perceived and admitted, it now seems that the control of this great highway has passed into foreign hands, to be held perhaps as a monopoly. It may be that the Emperor, true to that enlightened policy which has marked his reign, will declare the line free to the commerce of all nations; but we may be certain that all the military and naval advantages which the route possesses will be reserved for the exclusive benefit of France. But Mexico is not the only State on this continent where French power and influence are extending. We meet the Gaul, also, in Central America, in the person of that indefatigable little visionary, M. Belly, who for the last four or five years has been threatening to astonish the world with the opening of the Nicaragua route to the Pacific. What progress M. Belly has made of late does not appear, but we believe his shadow still haunts the shores of Lakes Nicaragua and Managua. Could he but secure the patronage of his imperial master, he may yet succeed. Of this, however, there is little prospect. M. Belly’s schemes are too truly baseless to merit the direct encouragement of the Emperor. Enough has, however, already been accomplished in Mexico to satisfy the ambition and to subserve the interest of the people of France. They have established a secure hold upon the resources of the richest country on the globe, and have obtained control of one of the most important highways of commerce. Thus is the empire extending its power in America; not by the sway of arms alone, but also by the gentle arts of peace, which often accomplish results far more enduring that the conquests of the sword.

•••••

The Body-Guard of the Emperor Maximillian.—The Independance Belge, of March 25, has the following:

It is asserted that the guard of the future monarch of Mexico will be composed of a corps of native, an Austrian corps, a French corps and a Belgian corps. The latter will be denominated the “Guard of the Empress.” The organization of the Belgian corps will be given to Gen. Chasselie, an officer of distinction. Capt. Vaudez-Smiesen, of the Grenadiers, will command the body of troops, which will number about two thousand. Officers and non-commissioned officers of the Belgian army will enter this new corps with an advance in their present rank. They shall take service for six years, and will be entitled to one year’s leave of absence without pay. Those who shall find it impossible to become acclimated in Mexico shall be sent back at the cost of the Government. Those who wish to become citizens of Mexico at the termination of their engagement in the army will receive donations of land. The privates as well as the officers are included in this agreement, the new sovereign wishing to develop the resources of his empire and encourage foreigners to settle in Mexico.

Troubles of a Blockade Runner.—A letter to the New York Herald, dated Havana, April 26, says:

A blockade running steamer, the Susanna, arrived a couple of days since from Florida, and her crew tell a rather queer story. Of course she went to get cotton, and, after touching at two or three points, finally anchored where it was supposed the coast was clear. Presently some 60 or 70 armed men made their appearance, boarded her, ordered dinner, drank and ate up everything on board, and then, informing the captain that they were neither Unionists or Confederates, prepared to burn the steamer. At this critical juncture a body of cavalry was perceived nearing them, and the captors beat a hasty retreat, to the great relief of the captain, who had given up his vessel for lost. The cavalry proved part of the Confederate forces in that State, in search of the party who had seized the steamer, who are deserters or outlaws, living by plunder. Before making off they took away everything portable they found on board, even to the tin platters, and the crew arrived here in a half-starved condition.

•••••

The Happy Delivery.—The Japanese who passed through the principal streets if Hondjo last Saturday–Hondjo is the aristocratic quarter of Jeddo–were surprised to see not one house covered from top to bottom with white hangings, but to see fourteen houses shrouded in this way. The white hangings announce that the Tycoon’s justice has been wrought in the houses so covered; that an imperial order has been sent to the master of the home; that in the course of the day a samouryi–that is, a noble or an obourjo or high functionary has been sentenced to the happy delivery–that is, to disembowel himself. The guilty, or at all events the condemned man, after having received this sentence from the Tycoon, makes as rapidly as possible all his preparations for coming death. He assembles around him his dearest friends and his nearest kinsmen; he empties with them a decent number of jugs of Saki (brandy made from rice) and of bottles of sweet wine and many a pound of candy, meanwhile amusing the company by his wittiest sallies on the instability of all things terrestrial, and by his drollest jokes, until the imperial inspector (who is ordered to witness the execution of the imperial order) makes his appearance. The master of the house then rises from the matting on which he was seated and makes a farewell speech to his friends, which he ends with Seinora! Seinora! (Farewell! Farewell!) Thereupon he goes with the inspector and two or three of his kinsmen into the next room, where the inspector reads to him the sentence of death, he draws his sabre, cuts his abdomen from left to right, then from the chest downwards, and with the third blow cuts his throat. It often happens that the condemned man pauses after the first blow; but in every case a faithful domestic stands behind him and ends his suffering by cutting off his head at a single blow.

MONDAY
MAY 16, 1864
THE DAILY RICHMOND EXAMINER (VA)

THE WAR NEWS.

The Situation on the Southside.

Latest from General Lee’s Army.

We have but little news to record this morning. Saturday morning was ushered in with a terrific roar of the enemy’s guns on the Southside, which continued all day. From that started the rumour of fighting at Drewry’s Bluff, but it proved to be only the enemy’s guns shelling our forces. As the day advanced the fire relaxed, but in the afternoon it was renewed, with some severe skirmishing along the lines, which was kept up until dark with no very serious loss to either side. We had the pleasure of witnessing the skirmishing on Saturday, Colonel Gill, the very courteous superintendent of the Petersburg  railroad, having extended to us an invitation to accompany himself and party on a reconnoissance over the road. Proceeding cautiously, we found skirmishing actively going on, with our army in line of battle. In a little while the fire increased, and about four o’clock it grew quite warm, the enemy in the meantime having placed additional pieces of artillery in position. Here the scene became quite exciting, and a sharp artillery duel ensued, our artillery occupying the right and the enemy’s the left of the railroad with their skirmishers advancing from each side. Our men delivered their fire with great spirit, and cheer after cheer broke forth from them. Occasionally a cheer would come from the Yankees, but it was very faint and tame. At one time we heard a very loud and long continued cheer on our left, and learned afterwards from some of our wounded, who were brought in, that it was from our skirmishers on the extreme left, who had driven back the enemy’s line of battle–a feat unparalleled in its daring courage. The fire grew spirited–the air resounded with the fire of infantry and artillery–and at one time it was thought that a general action would be brought on. Our line of battle was in full sight of the enemy, who was also in line of battle, and the rapid discharge of musketry and the brisk fire of the artillery gave the scene, for the time, the seriousness of battle. The spectacle was grand and sublime. Within sight of each other stood the two armies, calmly and deliberately awaiting the shock of battle. On one side, steady in nerve and firm in their footsteps, stood our battle-hardened veterans–those who have undergone again and again the fiery sacrament of baptism on the battle-field. On the other were drawn up the coarse and brutal ruffians, the drunken hordes, whose craven and cowardly spirits, we know full well, will not withstand the hot blast of battle. If the reader could have drank in the scene as we did, he would have been as confident as we are that a great victory awaits us on the Southside whenever a regular battle is joined. A more resolute, confident, noble band of heroes never faced death on the field than our army now gathered on the Southside. Of their spirit and confidence we will speak hereafter.

•••••

Blowing up of the Gunboats in the James River.

A dispatch of the New York Tribune says:

The Commodore Jones, a small Navy gunboat, was destroyed by a torpedo on the afternoon of the 6th instant. Every man on board was either killed or wounded with one exception. The man who exploded the torpedo was himself killed by persons on another vessel who had been watching his movements.

A detachment of sharpshooters, sent ashore subsequently, found on his person instructions from the rebel Secretary of the Navy regarding the torpedoes and their various locations. Several other men were found concealed in rifle pits ready to perform similar work. They were promptly placed beyond the power of mischief.

About noon to-day, while the gunboat Shoshone (twenty-nine tons) was fishing for torpedoes near Deep Bottom, a battery from Richmond appeared on the north bank, took position and opened fire upon the boat. A shot passed through the steam chest, blowing up the vessel. Those of the officers and crew who took to the north shore were taken prisoners. A few who reached the south bank were afterwards picked up by the army gunboat Charles Chamberlain.

•••••

When the last number of this journal went to press, authentic news had been obtained of an assault in force on Lee’s breastworks, continued through the whole of Wednesday, and repulsed with tremendous punishment of the enemy. Rumours were circulated of a renewal of the same desperate effort on Thursday, but were unsupported by evidence. We now know that those rumours contained nothing that was not true. Grant had received a full corps of fresh troops–kept back up to that moment to defend the trenches of Washington–and risked with the recklessness of a true gambler on that cast of the dice. He attempted no manœuvre. He relied on main strength–bringing up his ten lines at a run, each one close behind another, and dashed them like the waves of the sea against the rocks, on the breastworks of the South. By these tactics, either a perfect victory is won or an attacking army is lost. The first rush was successful on one point. The enemy broke through the blaze of the living volcano upon Johnson’s men, leaped the works, took two thousand prisoners and sixteen guns. But reserves were ready, and a charge of greater fury than their own drove them out in a brief time. On all other parts of the line they were entirely unsuccessful. They were utterly repulsed; with scarcely any loss to the Confederates, who fired with the advantage of rest, aim and cover; but with a  slaughter of the foe which is represented by universal testimony to have been the most terrible of modern warfare.

In these two battles the army of Northern Virginia has enjoyed, for the first time, the advantages of firing into the enemy with grape and rifle balls from lines of substantial breastworks; and if one may judge from the high spirits and unbounded confidence of the wounded men who have come to this city from the battle, it has been highly gratified by the new position. “We just mowed them every time,”–such is the only account they give of the struggle.

The Confederate loss, killed, wounded and missing, in all these battles, beginning with the Wilderness and concluding with that of Thursday last, at Spotsylvania Court House, was under fifteen thousand. The Washington Chronicle, the organ of Lincoln, that sees all things in the rose’s colour, announces the “depletion” of Grant’s army by the battle of the Wilderness, and “other causes,” to have been, on Tuesday evening ascertained, thirty-five thousand. To this awful figure must now be added the two days of unsuccessful assault on the breastworks of Spotsylvania–assault without manœuvre, full in front, with deep columns, each forcing the other on the muzzles of the guns–wherein the carnage and loss must, in the necessity of things, have been many times greater than in the open battles of the Wilderness and succeeding days. Putting the two data together, it is impossible to doubt the deduction that Grant’s “depletion” by killing, wounding, and “other causes”–that is, by straggling, desertion, &c.–has surpassed seventy thousand. The disproportion of numbers between the antagonists was very great when the Federal General crossed the Rapid Ann, and it is probable that he has since received the troops originally retained to defend Washington; but that disproportion was wonderfully reduced when the sun went down on Thursday afternoon.

TUESDAY
MAY 17,
1864
ST. ALBAN'S DAILY MESSENGER (VT)

The Contending Armies.

Lee was reported to have had 100,000 men at the commencement of this struggle. Grant had four corps, each nominally 40,000 men, so that his nominal force was 160,000, though probably he did not commence battle with more than 125,000 effective men. He has lost about 40,000, of which 4,000 are prisoners, so that his effective force would now be about 85,000. He has besides received reinforcement to the number of 20,000, including 12,000 from Gen. Augur’s department, and 1800 of the 11th Vermont, making in all 105,000.

Lee must have lost at least 40,000. If he had more than reported at first, his number must be now greatly inferior to Grant’s. The report that he has been reinforced is, at least, improbable, for where has he drawn them from? Johnson has surely none to spare. Beauregard has all that he can do to watch Butler. Sheridan’s recent raid discloses the fact that there are very few troops in Richmond, and even if they had had the troops, it would be almost impossible to get them there. It would at least seem impossible without the knowledge of our forces.

But, perhaps the original estimate of Lee’s force was too low. He may have 120,000 men. If so, he has now, and is yet inferior to us.

Grant is “out of the woods” and has a fair field; an army superior in numbers, discipline and spirit. He has the prestige of victory and his chances of success are to-day ten fold greater than they were ten days ago.

•••••

Vermont’s Roll of Honor.

And still the long list increases, scores and hundreds and almost thousands are required to tell the number of Vermont dead and wounded.

Victory hovers over our banners; rebellion trembles before its doom; the wires are ringing with their glad tidings–the whole heavens area glow with victory and beautiful promise. But there are other voices and other sights than these in the land. Thousands in our State are at this hour crushed with grief or trembling with anxiety. The clouds on which these glories rest are deep and dark all over our land, and especially so here. Vermont has paid an uncommon price for her share in these triumphs, and yet while we mourn our dead, there is something of pride, almost of exultation, in our grief. What a record they have. From the time that the “noble second” tried so nobly yet vainly to arrest the war at first Bull Run, until on Tuesday last, when they charged nobly upon the enemy’s works and, having taken an advance position, held it, with scarce two companies left, while all the rest fell back, against the fierce assaults of the enemy, and when advised to retreat, replied, “We don’t want to; we will hold his position for six months if you will give us ammunition and rations!” During all these days of toil and battle, they have wrought out a history for our State that shall make it always a proud thing to say, “I am a Vermonter.”

We had hoped that they had already done their part in this struggle and would never be called upon for another test of valor so fearful as this last, but it was not so. That single brigade, which had breasted so many storms, must now stand before a tempest. Those few brave men who did so much to retrieve the issues of the “seven days’ fight;” who stood alone for hours upon the heights at Fredericksburg, while twenty thousand strove in vain to dislodge them, and saved Sedgwick’s corps perhaps from destruction; who were chosen from that whole army to storm the intrenchments at Mine Run, are now offered in the most terrific contest of the war. They went into the very jaws of death. Their blood flows in streams. Their bodies cover the fields, close and wide, and their monument of great deeds rises yet higher and more beautiful in the eyes of the nation.

The President on the Recent Victories.

The President was serenaded on the receipt of the news from Gen. Grant. He responded in the following speech:

“Fellow-Citizens: I am very much obliged to you for the compliment of this call, though I apprehend it is owing more to the good news received to-day from the army, than a desire to see me. I am, indeed, very grateful to the brave men who have been struggling with the enemy in the field, to their noble commanders who have directed them, and especially to our Maker. Our commanders are following up their victories resolutely and successfully. I think without knowing the particulars of the plans of Gen. Grant, that what has been accomplished is of more importance than at first appears. I believe I know (and am especially grateful to know) that Gen. Grant has not been jostled in his purpose; that he has made all his points, and to-day he is on his line as he proposed before he moved his armies. I will volunteer to say that I am very glad at what has happened; but there is a great deal still to be done. While we are grateful to all the brave men and officers for the events of the past few days, we should, above all, be very grateful to Almighty God, who gives us victory.

“There is enough yet before us requiring all loyal men and patriots to perform their share of the labor and follow the example of the modest General at the head of our armies, and sink all personal considerations for the sake of the country. I commend you to keep yourselves in the same tranquil mood that is characteristic of that brave and loyal man. I have said more than I expected when I came before you; repeating my thanks for this call, I bid you good-bye.” [Cheers.]

At the conclusion of these remarks, three times three cheers were given for the President, and a similar number for Gen. Grant and our gallant armies.

The multitude seemed disinclined to leave after the band was done playing, and crowded around the President, and began to shake him by the hand, which continued for some half an hour. It was a perfect ovation.

•••••

The Campaign.—The full official account of the brilliant raid of the cavalry in Lee’s rear, published in our dispatches, leaves no room to doubt that in his present position the rebel commander is cut off from all hope of supplies from Richmond. It was reported on Friday that the rebel army had been on short rations for three days, and was driven to a bold attempt to capture our supply trains, which proved futile.

Gen. Sherman’s work adds most heavily to Lee’s complications, and it is difficult to see how, baffled, exhausted by the terrible fighting of eight days, his army short of supplies and possibly of ammunition, dispirited, defeated, weakened by fearful losses, the rebel general can much longer oppose his present obstinate resistance to Grant’s progress. The Cavalry has played its important part in the campaign, and played it successfully.–Rutland Herald.

•••••

The Iron Mountain in Missouri is exactly in the geographical centre of the United States. It is an almost solid mass of specular iron ore, rising from a level plain 260 feet. Its base covers 500 acres. The ore contains 67 per cent of iron.1

WEDNESDAY
MAY 18, 1864

THE NEW HAMPSHIRE PATRIOT & GAZETTE

Truth Will Out.—Gen. McClellan said that his army were out of supplies at and after the battles of South Mountain and Antietam, and were in no condition for a campaign in Virginia. Halleck said he did not believe it. The radical press and all the radical men denied it, and the abuse of McClellan was without stint, and he was at length removed from command. The reason assigned was his delay after Antietam. There has been no point in McClellan’s career on which his radical enemies have more persistently sought to conceal the truth than this very question whether his men needed shoes and clothing at that time. The Journal of Commerce, referring to this matter, calls attention to an editorial eulogy in the N. Y. Post upon Gen. Wadsworth, the most noted and persistent of McClellan’s enemies. In that eulogy the editor of the Post states that he received the following from Gen. Wadsworth a few weeks ago. Its bearing is most important, says the Journal of Commerce, and it is to be wondered that the General or the editor should not have made public a fact so important in estimating McClellan’s success at Antietam, and his subsequent delays and demand for supplies for his bleeding and suffering soldiers.

This little story, told with such eloquence by the editor of the Post, is a noble tribute to Gen. McClellan. If this be true, then it was these soldiers that fought for him the battles of South Mountain ad Antietam, and for whose necessities, so touchingly portrayed here, he demanded supplies before he led them across the rocky bed of the Potomac and up the slopes of the Shenandoah Valley. And this fact, this incident of Gen. Wadsworth’s actually pressing all the boots and shoes from the feet of villagers to cover the bleeding feet of his officers and men, has never been suffered to see the light, when the great question in dispute about McClellan’s removal from command was whether his army needed shoes and clothing at that very time!

Here is what Gen. Wadsworth told the editor of the Post:

“Make out a requisition for extra shoes,” we heard him say to one of the brigadiers, “about one pair of shoes for every two me. I think we can get them of the quartermaster, but I will see to it that at any rate they are got. They will not be heavy to carry, and we shall find the value of them before we get through.”

“I remember,” he added, “during the march through Maryland, before the battle of South Mountain, we passed over a tract of country extremely rugged and stony, and I saw not only men but officer walking along with bleeding feet. The men’s shoes gave out entirely. It hurt my feelings more than I can tell you, to see the good fellows trudge along so. We came to a town on the line of march, and I, who was riding at the head of the column, spurred ahead to see if there were not some shoe stores where I could purchase what was needed for the men. All the shops were closed; the first men I saw were two sitting outside of a closed shop.

“Are there any shoe stores in this town?” I asked. They replied, in a gruff way, that they could not tell, there might be and there might not. I told them that I wanted to buy shoes for my troops, who were barefooted. They replied they guessed I wouldn’t get many.

“At that,” said the general, “I got angry. Said I, there are two pairs of shoes at any rate, which I see on your feet. Take them off instantly! I shouted to them. They were obliged to do it. I went through the town and took the shoes off every man’s feet I could see; and thus I raised about two hundred pairs in all. One fine old fellow, a miller, whom I met, I did not deprive of his own pair; I rode up to him and asked if he had any shoes he could spare me, describing the pitiful condition of my men. The old man said, “I don’t know if there’s any shoes in the house or not, but”–looking down at his feet–“here’s a pair you’re welcome to at any rate.” I would not let him take them off, but he gave me some from his house. All the rest I stripped.”

Careful of the Negro.—In the great “Battle of the Wilderness” on Friday the 6th instant, the Tribune’s account says:

The Negro troops of General Burnside, commanded by Gen. Ferrero, had been placed at the disposal of Gen. Sedgwick, with the request that, unless absolutely necessary, they should not be put into the fight.

The Negroes remained within a mile and a half of the front during the entire day until dark and were not brought into action.

This was the most fierce and desperate of the conflicts of the campaign and was in fact a drawn battle. If we had had a number of reliable troops equal to the number of Negroes thus kept idle, it might have made a decisive victory.

Also in “Carleton’s” account of the battle of the 10th near Spotsylvania, describing Burnside’s operations at an important crisis of the fight, he says “the colored troops were not in the charge.”

So in Gen. Banks’ disastrous battle on Red River, we are told that the Negro troops were not used. Why was this? Are these blacks reliable? And if so, why were they not made to do their part in the bloody work? These facts are significant. They show either that the officers in command have no confidence in the Negro troops, or that they are very careful of placing them in a position to be “hurt.”2

•••••

Stanton’s Dispatches.—At the beginning of Gen. Grant’s movements in Virginia, Secretary Stanton proposed “to give accurate official statements of what is known to the Department in this great crisis, and to withhold nothing from the public.” In accordance with this promise he has sent two or three dispatches to Gen. Dix in New York to be made public. These dispatches are characteristic of their author–full of bombast and lies, stating what is false, and withholding what is true and misrepresenting the events reported. No reliance can be placed upon them. Take, for instance, the following: On Monday he stated that Gen. Hancock passed through Spotsylvania Court House on Sunday morning at daylight, in pursuit of the rebels, who were in full retreat for Richmond. This was entirely false. It required two days desperate and bloody fighting after that time to enable our forces to reach Spotsylvania. In that same Monday’s dispatch he stated that our headquarters at noon Sunday “were twenty miles south of the battle-field” of Friday. This was a gross falsehood; our forces at that time had not advanced even five miles south of that battle-field. Spotsylvania is only about fifteen miles from the Rappahannock, and they did not reach that point until Thursday night.

These are samples of the direct falsehoods sent by Stanton for publication! Who can believe any thing uttered by such an unscrupulous liar?

•••••

Havoc among the Generals.—In the recent terrible conflicts in Virginia, an unusual number of our officers have been killed, wounded and captured–especially Generals. Among the killed are Maj. Gen. Sedgwick, Brig. Gens. Wadsworth, Hays, Stevenson, Robinson and Rice. Among the wounded are Gens. Getty, Baxter, Owens, Morris, Bartlett, Webb, Gregg, and others; and Gens. Seymour, Shaler, Talbot, Crawford and Neil were taken prisoners. Gen. Sedgwick was one of the best officers in the service, and some of the others were of like character.

 

THURSDAY
MAY 19,
1864
THE SALEM REGISTER (MA)

Lessons of the Spring Campaign.

The fierce and desperate fighting of the last fortnight has developed some inspiring truths, which have heretofore been smothered (or at least attempted to be) by partisan innuendoes or an ungenerous interpretation of fortuitous circumstances. It has dissipated the absurd fiction, so sedulously inculcated by not a few credulous, or timid, or unpatriotic individuals, that superiority in strategy, tactics and the general science of war, could justly be claimed for Southern officers in derogation of the merits of those from the North. This mischievous myth is only an offshoot of that bombast and self-conceit which always led the bogus chivalry to arrogate to themselves the qualities of a “superior race,” and has been too readily concealed by weak-kneed suppliants at the shrine of slavery, and demagogues who could stoop to any servility to acquire power. It has shaken faith in the pre-eminent abilities of Lee, and shown that he has found his master in the unostentatious, undisturbed, iron-willed Grant. It has done justice to the glorious army of the Potomac, and proved that with a fit leader and harmonious subordinates, whose hearts are in their work, our brave boys will take no step backward, but with steady tread will move forward “on the enemy’s works,” conquering and to conquer. It has given to all the world full assurance that Northern pluck, perseverance, endurance, and indomitable bravery, are the same that they ever were, and that the sons of the hardy North have in no way degenerated. It has repelled the foul slanders of the haughty Southron, who thought to scatter the Yankees like chaff when they were made to “smell Southern powder and feel Southern steel,” and has taught the vain braggarts that neither rifle, nor cannon, nor entrenchments, can protect them from the serried lines of glittering bayonets wielded by freemen’s arms. All this and more it has done, and, in connection with the Army of the Potomac, a significant fact should not be forgotten as illustrative of the new era in its history upon which it has entered. One of the most reliable of the army correspondents, after one of the recent engagements, stated that when a movement was ordered making a different disposition of our troops on a new line, the soldiers could hardly be made to believe that they were not retreating. They had become so much accustomed to falling back after a severe fight, that they took it for granted it must be so then as a matter of course. But, when convinced it was not so, their enthusiasm knew no bounds, and they gave vent to the most extravagant demonstrations of confidence in their leaders. This inspiration will have its effect in future operations.

Moreover, the present campaign has confirmed what has before been demonstrated, viz: the unmistakable superiority of our cavalry. This is the more remarkable when we remember how the rebels boasted of their immense advantage in this arm of the service–that every Southerner lived on horseback, was a born cavalier, &c.–and how they sneered at the idea of a Yankee ever becoming a good cavalry soldier. This conceit, though widely prevalent in the early part of the war, long ago began to fade out, and is now thoroughly exploded. How the achievements of Stuart and Morgan pale before those of Grierson and Stoneman and Kilpatrick and Sheridan, and the rest of our bold riders, who have swept around their armies, down the whole length of their States from one extremity to the other, through the very lines of their entrenchments, and peered into the streets of Richmond itself!

Verily, the baptism of fire and blood through which our heroes are passing, costly as it is in their precious lives, is laying the foundation for the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.”

Leaving Out New England.

The following is an extract from an eloquent speech made by Thomas Williams, of Pennsylvania, in Congress, April 29, 1864:

Leave out New England in the cold! I am no Yankee. No drop of my blood has ever filtered through that stratum of humanity. I claim, however, to be a man. I think I love liberty above all things. I know that I can respect and admire courage, and constancy, and high thought, and heroic achievements, wherever I may find them. I would not quarrel even with an overstrung philanthropy. I can always excuse the errors that lean on the side of virtue, and find fanaticism much more readily in that devil-worship of slavery, that would be willing to sacrifice not only all New England but even the Union itself upon its horrid altars, than in those noble spirits whose sin is only in their excessive love for man. I may speak therefore, without prejudice.

Leave out New England in the cold! I doubt whether even this would chill her brave heart or quiet its tumultuous throbbings for humanity. Though no ardent southern sun has quickened her pulses or kindled her blood into lava, no frigid neutrality has ever frozen her into stone when the interest of liberty appealed to her for protection. She has ever been faithful to the memory of the great idea which brought her founders across the ocean, as the only colony that landed in this newly discovered hemisphere upon any other errand than the search for gold. I cannot forget that it was this proscribed race that inaugurated the Revolution by forging in their capital the thunderbolt that smote the tyranny of England, and dyeing their garments with its first blood upon the commons of Lexington. Leave out New England in the cold! You may look unkindly upon her, but you cannot freeze her into apathy any more than you can put out the light of her eyes or arrest the missionary thought which she has launched over a continent. It was not New England that stood shivering in cold indifference when the boom of the first rebel gun in Charleston harbor thrilled along her rock-bound coast. Taking no thought of cost or consequences, she rushed down like an avalanche to avenge the insulted flag of our fathers, and Massachusetts was glorified by a second baptism when the blood of her sons dyed the paving-stones of the city of Baltimore. I would it had been my own great State, whose drum-beat was the first that waked an echo in these Halls, which had won the honor of that sacrifice. But it was not so ordained.

Leave out Massachusetts in the cold! What matters it that no tropical sun has fevered her northern blood into the delirium of treason? I know no trait of tenderness more touching and more human that that with which she received back to her arms the bodies of her lifeless children. “Handle them tenderly,” was the message of her loyal Governor. Massachusetts desired to look once more upon the faces of her martyred sons, “marred as they were by the traitors.” She lifted gently the sable pall that covered them. She gave them a soldier’s burial and a soldier’s farewell; and then, like David of old when he was informed that the child of his affections had ceased to live, she rose to her feet, dashed the tear-drop from her eye, and in twenty days her iron-clad battalions were crowning the heights, and her guns frowning destruction over the streets of the rebel city. Shut out Massachusetts in the cold! Yes. You may blot her out from the map of the continent; you may bring back the glacial epoch, when the Arctic drift-ice that has deposited so many monuments on her soil swept over her buried surface–but you cannot sink her deep enough to drown the memory of Lexington and Concord, or bury the summit of the tall column that lifts its head over the first of our battle-fields. “With her,” in the language of her great son, “the past at least is secure.” The muse of history has flung her story upon the world’s canvas, in tints that will not fade and cannot die. 

FRIDAY
MAY
20, 1864
THE SPRINGFIELD DAILY UNION (MA)

WEDNESDAY’s OPERATIONS.
The First Line of Rifle Pits Carried!
our losses severe.
Attempt to Turn Lee’s Right.

New York, May 20.

The Times postscript has the following:

Washington, May 19.–Your correspondent, Mr. E. A. Paul, writes as follows to this bureau, under date of Belle Plain, Thursday, May 19th, 1 p.m. The first division, second corps, under General Barlow, made a charge yesterday morning, and took the enemy’s rifle pits in his front, and held them, but lost heavily. One other division charge was made, but up to the middle of the day I cannot learn that there was any general engagement. Maj. Lawler of the 28th Mass. was killed in Barlow’s charge. His body was brought to Fredericksburg last night. The first division of the 6th corps made a charge, and lost considerable. An officer of the command says forty were killed and two hundred wounded.

Officers here think a general engagement is going on to-day. Cars will run over the Aquia Creek road to-morrow. Some of the recently captured cannon were sent to Washington to-day.

During the passage of the steamer with three hundred and ninety rebel officers for Fort Delaware, the steamer broke down, and 100 were landed at Point Lookout. A plot to capture the boat by the prisoners was frustrated by the guard.

Another dispatch to the Times says a correspondent from the front gives a brief account of yesterday’s fighting. At daylight the assault was ordered and we speedily carried the outer line of rifle pits, but further progress was impeded by a strong abattis. The rebels were found in very heavy force and strong position. After holding the outer works some time we fell back. The column was composed of the 2d, 6th and 9th corps. The relative positions of the two armies remain unchanged, but the information gained by yesterday’s engagement will be of great service. Our losses yesterday were about 1,200.

Last evening’s Washington Republican has the following: The most reliable information from the front to-day is that Gen. Grant has succeeded yesterday in nearly turning the whole of Lee’s right. This was done more by a sudden movement of bodies of troops to the complete surprise of Lee than by actual fighting, except with artillery, which was only for the purpose of making feints while the strategic work was going on. It is a question whether the position of both armies was not changed this morning in consequence of the successful operations of Gen. Grant yesterday. If Grant fights to-day, he has an army as strong in numbers as it was when he crossed the Rapidan, and relatively much stronger.

A dispatch to the Herald from the 5th army corps states that Capt. D. L. Smith, chief commissary of the corps, who had been ordered by Gen. Meade to send five days’ rations, under flag of truce, if necessary, to the wounded of that corps left in the hospital where we last moved from to our present locality, to-day received full particulars of the result of the expedition. He detailed Capt. Spear and Lieut. Meade in command of the wagons carrying the rations. They had no occasion to use the flag of truce, having met with no resistance, and finding only a few straggling rebels about the place. Gen. early had, however, been there with a small force but a short time before their arrival. ->

Squads of the enemy had been there from time to time, and in their visits had taken away all rations left for the wounded, so that relief came to them at the right time. While the rations were being distributed, Gen. Mott of the 2d corps, arrived with a brigade, and in empty wagons which he took with him, brought away all the wounded, together with the hospital tents and everything else of value. We have therefore now within the rebel lines but a few wounded, comprising those left at the hospitals near the scene of the Wilderness battles.

Some three hundred of our wounded were brought in from the Wilderness yesterday, who had been robbed of everything by guerrillas. Nearly all our wounded have been sent to Fredericksburg or Washington. There is very little supervening fever among the wounded, and the general health of those in hospital is wonderfully good.

Eight of Mosby’s guerrillas were captured yesterday, loaded with plunder from our dead and wounded. It is reported that a guerrilla who shot one of our wounded men was summarily executed yesterday.

•••••

Intended Attack on our Coast by Rebel Pirates.

Philadelphia, May 20.

The Evening Bulletin of this city has the following: A letter from an officer on an American war vessel dated Dover, England, May 4th, contains the following important news. It has been known to us, through confederate naval officers, that the Alabama was coming here, and that the combined confederate pirates are to make a demonstration on our northern coast as soon as they can get ready. The detention of the Rappahannock and non-arrival of the Alabama here postponed it for over a month. This comes direct from confederate officers aboard the vessels through our spies.

•••••

Death of Nathaniel Hawthorne.—Nathaniel Hawthorne, the eminent author and essayist, was found dead in bed at Portsmouth, N. H., on Thursday morning last. He had been for some time in poor health, and was stopping at Portsmouth a few days with ex-President Pierce. He retired at night with no appearance of extraordinary indisposition, and even as late as 2 o’clock in the morning Mr. Pierce looked into his room and discovered no signs of anything wrong; but at 3 he was found dead. Had he lived until July 4th he would have been sixty years of age.

Hawthorne’s works, which have won him the wide fame he has enjoyed a a writer, are The House of Seven Gables, The Marble Faun, The Blithedale Romance, Mosses from the Old Manse, The Scarlet Letter and Our Old Home, with many minor stories. He also wrote a Life of Franklin Pierce, and the evident purpose shown to eulogize a man so deservedly unpopular did him more harm than good. He several times held office by democratic appointment, his last office being the lucrative post of Consul at Liverpool. The Evening Post, good authority in literary matters, says his novels “show prodigious power in portraying the stronger passions,” and that as a whole they are the “best written novels of the day, and second to none in the language.”

SATURDAY
MAY 21, 1864

COLUMBIAN WEEKLY REGISTER (CT)

An Incident of the Battlefield.

The correspondent of the New York Tribune, who was present on the battle ground last Friday, thus describes the scene at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, when the fate of the struggle hung in the balance:

Prisoners came in at the rate of 100 an hour. The day was excessively hot, and the men were much exhausted. We had neither gained or lost ground, but continued this thing long enough, and we hoped to finally wear them out. At 5 ½ o’clock, Hancock was preparing for a grand movement of our entire left. He did not make it, for the enemy anticipated him, and he had to repel perhaps the most wicked assault thus far encountered–brief in duration, but terrific in power and superhuman momentum.

The first few minutes we were staggered. Stragglers for the first time in all this fighting streamed to the rear in large numbers, choking the roads and causing a panic by their stampede and incoherent tales of frightful disaster. It was even reported at general headquarters that the enemy had burst entirely through, and supports were hurried up. Grant and Meade seated their backs against the tree, quietly listened to the officer who brought the report, and consulted a moment in low tones. The orders for sending re-enforcements were given, and for a little time not a word was spoken in the group of more than twenty officers. They but looked into each other’s’ faces.

At length, Grant says, with laconic emphasis, “I don’t believe it.” He was right. Long before that, Hancock had recovered from the first shock, held his own awhile, and now was gaining ground. In forty minutes from this attack, the enemy was completely beaten back with tremendous slaughter, and the loss of some hundreds of prisoners.

•••••

The Campaign.

There is an ominous lull in Virginia. The heavy rains have rendered the roads almost impassable, and the armies have, by common consent, suspended operations until the passage of artillery becomes more practicable. In the meantime, important movements have taken place, and preparations made for a renewal of the contest. The reports from the two great armies continue contradictory, but it seems, from the best light we are able to obtain on the subject, that they continue to maintain their positions on the north bank of the Po, around Spotsylvania Court House, but with a change of front. Gen. Grant has brought his whole army around to the left of the position he occupied during the most of last week, and now has his army drawn along the south bank of the Ni river, on both sides of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania pike, with his headquarters on the north side of the Ni. Gen Lee does not appear to have retreated beyond the Po, as has been so often asserted, but still maintains a defiant attitude in his entrenchments around Spotsylvania, and occupying substantially the position held by him during Tuesday’s and Thursday’s engagements. It is reported, we know not on what authority, that Lee has received considerable reinforcements, and the fact that he continues in the position he has held for a week past, with the apparent intention of again offering battle, would seem to give color to the report.

It is known that Grant has been heavily reinforced since the late battle–it is said to the extent of 20,000 men, and it does not seem probable that Lee would attempt another struggle after the immense losses in the late battles, unless he had received corresponding accessions to his strength. It is said a great portion of the entrenchments occupied by Lee have been constructed for some months, and it would seem that the  Confederate engineers had carefully surveyed the ground and provided formidable works for its defense. ->

Whether it is as strong on the side now menaced by Grant as on the quarter already assailed remains to be seen. We look for a speedy renewal of the conflict, unless Grant’s flank movement should compel Lee to retire.

We have news that Sherman had a severe engagement on Saturday in the neighborhood of Resaca, in which it is announced that the advantage rested with Sherman, but no particulars are given. The fact that Sherman lost about 3000 men shows that the battle was well contested.

•••••

A lady correspondent of the New York Times says she approves the movement for reducing extravagance in dress, but cannot say she will not wear any imported goods, for herself and family are supplied for more than a year to come! But she recognizes the importance of discouraging the inordinate love of dress and display of finery that marks the present day. The New York Express properly remarks:

“One real cause of heart burning, envy, jealousy, and uncharitableness, is the fact that young ladies, whose fathers  have a small income compared with the very rich, demand as many dresses as those who count their profits by thousands. It is no doubt true that parental indulgence is the cause of much of this extravagance. About the hardest thing to do is for a loving father or mother to say no to a child–but it is a duty, nevertheless, and tenfold a duty, when extravagance is ruining the country as well as those who indulge in it.”

•••••

Army Supplies for Gen. Grant.
[From the Journal of Commerce.]

Few persons have any adequate idea of the necessities of a great army marching into an enemy’s country. We find a passage in the report of Gen. McClellan which conveys a very good idea, and which we quote as exhibiting in a few words the “impediments” in a ten days’ march into Virginia. McClellan, in speaking of his own army after Antietam, and its need of horses and supplies, says:

“The official returns of that date show the aggregate strength of the army for duty to have been about 110,000 men of all arms. This did not include teamsters, citizens, employees, officers, servants, &c., amounting to some 12,000 men, which gives a total of 122,000 men. The subsistence alone for this army for ten days, required for its transportation 1,830 wagons, at 2,000 pounds to the wagon, and 10,980 animals.

“Our cavalry horses at that time amounted to 5,046, and our artillery horses to 6,836.

“To transport full forage for these 22,862 animals for ten days required 17,832 additional animals, and this forage would only supply the entire number (40,694) of animals, with a small portion over half allowance for the time specified.

“It will be observed that this estimate does not embrace the animals necessary to transport quartermasters’ supplies, baggage, camp equipage, ambulances, reserve ammunition, forage for officers’ horses, &c., would greatly augment the necessary transportation.”

Let us hope and believe that the War Department, profiting by its errors and delays in former campaigns in Virginia, has amply supplied Grant in this momentous crisis.

 

1 Perhaps because this claim did not yet factor in Washington territory (which would not be admitted as a state until 1889), the center of the contiguous United States is now a few miles outside of Lebanon, Kansas (about 530 miles west of Iron Mountain, Missouri. (Source.) The geodetic center of the U.S. is 34 miles south, in Osbourne, Kansas. (Source.)

2 The second possibility is what actually obtained. At the later Battle of the Crater, Grant held back the black troops who had been specially trained and equipped to exit the immense hole in the ground and assault the stunned rebel forces on the rim. Fearing a slaughter–and castigation for sending them into such a dangerous situation–he replaced them at the last minute with white troops who had no training specific to this assignment. Predictably, the assault was poorly coordinate, such that the rebels had time to recover and then pin the Yankees in the crater, and the feared slaughter commenced. Hoping to rescue the situation, the black troops were only then ordered forward, and accomplished nothing more than to die alongside their white comrades. Grant’s reluctance to commit the black troops resulted in the very result he hoped to avoid by holding them back. 

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