8, 1863

Lieber’s Hundred Pretexts for Exemption.—The Chicago Tribune, an Administration journal, attributes the failure of the conscription to the character of the list of causes for exemption framed by Professor Lieber for the guidance of examining boards.

The learned professor exercised his profound research to discover diseases, ailments, and ills that flesh is heir to, that would form pretexts for granting certificates of exemption. He succeeded in producing a catalogue of enormous length ad susceptible of endless abuse. He opened a hole as wide as a barn door, through which two hundred thousand drafted men marched out in double file. He established a standard of physical perfection so high that only here and there a man was found to equal it. It was no trouble for the soundest and ablest-bodied men to obtain certificates of exemption from the examining board. There are very few perfectly sound men in civilized countries–men free from all trace of disease–and if a conscript possessed any symptom of ailment he could easily magnify it, and by simulation, personal influence or bribery, induce the examining surgeons to grant him a certificate of exemption.

There is no calculating the injury that has been done to the cause of the Union by the adoption of Lieber’s catalogue of exemptions, which might appropriately be termed, “Lieber’s Easy Method of Escaping the Draft,” or “Lieber’s Hundred Holes in the Conscription Act, endorsed by the War Department, through which Drafted Men may Crawl.”


The War in St. Domingo.

The information received in New York from the West Indies leads some of our contemporaries there to the conclusion that the strength of the revolution against Spain is increasing; our own is later and perhaps more full;, and leads us to somewhat different conclusions.

It is true that the insurgents set up a provisional government at Santiago, which they call the government of Cibao, and that they burned the town of Puerto Plata, but they were driven from it by the garrison of the fort near by; at Azna they were defeated, and at no other place, so far as we can learn, have they been successful. On the contrary, near Santa Cruz they were subsequently attacked and routed by Gen. Santtana, with a loss to them of their artillery and five hundred prisoners.

The New York press seems to have been led to the belief that the revolutionary movement in St. Domingo was both growing and successful, from the fact that troops and munitions of war were constantly being sent forward by the Spanish authorities to that island, and that an able general had been sent to command them. To such information as they then had, we can add that the troops, which had been prepared and fitted out in Spain to renew the war with the Emperor of Morocco, now that that personage has complied with Her Most Catholic Majesty’s demands, are to be sent in the very same vessels in which they were to pass over to Africa, commanded by the same officers and employing the same material of war, to the island of St. Domingo. Do our contemporaries think that this large and well-appointed army is needed to put down an insurrection which the “loyal Dominicans” alone seem capable of repressing?

That Mexico is upon our southwestern border, and that the occupation of its territory by a foreign army and its future government by a sceptered hand, was a nearer assault upon our cherished Monroe doctrine, must account for the indifference with which the annexation of Dominica to the Spanish crown was beheld by both the Government and people of the Union. ->

There, indeed, was levelled the first blow at this favorite American dogma, when Spain blotted out Republicanism in the eastern part of that island, and placed her crimson and golden standard, with her emblazoned crown, upon the soil of St. Domingo. It is true that since that time diplomatic relations have been formed with Hayti, the adjoining Republic, between which and that now under the Spanish crown there had heretofore been constant heartburning, and, with intermissions, interminable war; and this might have been intended as a warning to the intruder that he must proceed no further in Europeanizing America. But with this the United States contented itself, and to Spain, therefore, and not to France, belongs the honor of having first defied the doctrine of Monroe, and planting the flag of European monarchy on the soil of American republicanism.

But with this Spain is not content. It has been discovered that the insurgents, few in number of themselves, have been greatly aided from the Haytien end of the island, and that munitions and supplies have come to them, not only from Hayti, but, it is whispered, from a more northern latitude. Not this alone: at Port-au-Prince, in Hayti, is published L’Opinion Nationale, organ of the Haytien Government, which lately stated that “a meeting had been held at the foreign office by the diplomatic body, to take into consideration the documents which had been directed to the Haytien Government by the Dominican Provisional Government.”

It is quite well understood that none of the Ministers of European Governments were represented in this meeting, and, as the insurrection is well known to be confined to a very small district and to be but a small part of its inhabitants, and that the difficulty of its suppression consists solely in the mountainous nature of the country in which it has taken place, it is inferred that this diplomatic exhibition of willingness to treat with the insurgents is confined to Hayti itself and one or two other American states, which are jealous of the encroachments of Spain, but do not venture to oppose them openly.

It is for this reason that a strong force is about to be placed upon this fertile and, under proper government, prosperous island; that to keep aid to the insurrection coming from abroad, its coast is to be put under strict blockade, and that a force, . . . is to make itself felt throughout the island. For the present they speak only of reclaiming part of the island, “which,” they say, “belongs to Spain under the treaty of 1776, and which the Haytiens retain under frivolous pretenses,” and of erecting fortifications upon the frontier as thus established; but if hostilities should ever begin between the Spaniards and Haytiens there is little doubt that for still greater security to the former they will find it to their advantage to take charge of the whole island.

Whether more than a retirement of the diplomatic body will follow the entire suppression of the forms of republican government in the Island of St. Domingo is more than doubtful. France and Spain having each of them practically declared their intention to intervene in the affairs of States of this continent other than our own, it may be presumed will hereafter unite in defending their right to do so whenever it is attacked or impugned.

NOVEMBER 9, 1863

The Yankee Debt.

The Pennsylvanians are becoming restive under the prospect of having to pay their share of the public debt. The Philadelphia Sunday Mercury says, “the national debt is now, or soon will amount to the enormous sum of, three thousand millions of dollars,1 of which the proportion chargeable to Pennsylvania will be one-sixth, or five hundred millions of dollars.” On the 1st day of September, 170,000 soldiers are entitled to pensions, and 80,000 in addition, it was thought, would soon be added to the list–making 250,000; assuming $96 as the allowance per annum to each pensioner, would make $24,000,000, of which one-sixth–Pennsylvania’s share–would be $4,000,000 per annum–equal to a principal of $66,666,666-2/3. “This will make Pennsylvania’s share of the public debt five hundred and sixty-seven millions; the interest on which at six per cent, say, in round numbers, thirty-four millions, she will have to pay annually in the shape of taxes.” The share of the city and county of Philadelphia will be $7,000,000 yearly. The Revenue Board in the State, in 1863, fixed the value of all the property in the State, real and personal, at $596,000,000. The State debt is $38,000,000.

The Mercury thus states the account:

To her share of the national debt:  $500,000,000
To principal, at six per cent,
of her share of pension list, &c.:
To her own State debt:  8,000,000
By her own valuation
of her own property: 
Balance against the State:  $9,000,000

“So that if Pennsylvania,” say the Mercury, in conclusion, “were put up at auction to-morrow, and sold for the full sum at which her own Revenue Board has valued her, she could not meet her obligations by nine millions of dollars. That is, her debt is nine millions more than she is worth. And this is the result of Abolition plunder and mismanagement!”


Last Honors to a Devoted Patriot.—The remains of Captain Horace L. Hunley were yesterday interred in Magnolia Cemetery. His body was followed to the grave by a military escort, and a large number of citizens.

The deceased was a native of Tennessee, but for many years past has been a resident of New Orleans.

Possessed of an ample fortune, in the prime of his manhood–for he was only thirty-six at the time of his death–with everything before him to make life attractive, he came to Charleston, and voluntarily joined in a patriotic enterprise which promised success, but which was attended with great peril. Though feeling, as appears from his last letter which he wrote to his friends, a presentiment that he would perish in the adventure, he gave his whole heart, undeterred by the foreboding, to the undertaking, declaring that he would gladly sacrifice his life in the cause. That presentiment has been mournfully fulfilled. Yet who shall call that fate a sad one, which associated the name of its victim with those of his country’s most unselfish martyrs?

Fashions in the Outside World.—We are so remote from the centre of fashion that it is only occasionally that we get a peep at it. We had in formation that in Paris ladies are learning to smoke tobacco and carry canes, like men. We have letter news to the effect that bogus jewelry is becoming the “rage,” as will be seen from the following extract from a London organ of the Mode:

“Another thing which rather astonishes us is, to see how very much jewels are now being worn even in out of doors dress. The style in vogue is the Oriental–crescents, large round sequins and long drooping ornaments being preferred.

Very large ear rings, brooches, clasps and studs are worn to match, in dimensions hitherto unheard of, and either in plain gold or in gold and coral, or enamel. These jewels, being but a passing whim of fashion, need not be of the purest gold or precious gems. Even French ladies, who have always been very particular on this point, now wear imitated jewels without the least scruples.

Combs for the hair now come within the sphere of jewels. They are made with a wide, flat piece turned back from the teeth, and composing a very rich ornament, set with gold and precious stones. These combs are worn in the back hair. Smaller ones are also sometimes used to keep back the hair in front.

Necklaces of very thick chains have become indispensable with a low dress, and are also worn with the high chemisette and Swiss bodies. The large round jet or coral beads are preferred for demi-toilette, and married ladies often wear the thick gold chain.

Crinolines still hold their own; but in Paris are decidedly being worn much smaller, especially at the top; they are less round, and, consequently, more graceful in their appearance.

The skirts of dresses are likely to be very full and immensely long.


The Iron Rams.—The Liverpool papers of the 21st ult. contradict the report that a guard of marines has been put on board one of the rams in the Mersey to prevent her sailing. In the meantime, the work on one of the rams, El Trousson, is being rapidly pushed forward, and no attempt is made to conceal the warlike character of the vessel. The Levant Herald, of Constantinople, confirms the report that the Turkish Government has offered to buy the rams. Two other members of the British Ministry, the Secretary of War and the Solicitor General, have made speeches on the American war. Both defended the course hitherto pursued by the Government and the continuance of strict neutrality.


Advance on the Rappahannock.
Particulars of Saturday’s Battle.

Washington, November 8.

Advices from your special correspondent tonight from the front state that the advance of the entire army has progressed most satisfactorily. Today it crossed the Rappahannock again, but found no enemy in any force sufficient to risk any general engagement, contrary to general anticipation.

Yesterday nearly a whole division of Hill’s corps, which was on this side of the river, between Kelly’s Ford and the Rappahannock railroad bridge, was attacked on the right by Gen. Sedgwick and French’s division of his corps. After an artillery duel of some two hours the enemy saw they were badly worsted and commenced retreating, which threw them into great confusion, as they dashed toward the river to effect an escape. The result was that a large number were killed and wounded, while they left eighteen hundred men as prisoners, eight guns, or two batteries, together with considerable camp material, which fell into our hands.

The engagement was as brief as it was brilliant, and reflects credit on the celerity and gallantry of the Sixth Corps. Our loss in killed will not reach one hundred, and our wounded will note exceed four hundred. It is impossible to say whether any battle will be fought tomorrow. Present indications do not render it probable.


How Two Prisoners Escaped.—Major John B. Houstain of the 132d N. Y. Volunteers and Lieut. D. von Weltzien of Scott’s cavalry, arrived at Fortress Monroe on Wednesday last, having escaped from the Libby Prison in Richmond and arrived within the Union lines at Yorktown. The plan of escape was concocted by Major Houstain. Being out of funds, he pretended to be a tailor, and informed Hallet, the jailor, that he would like to procure some work, to earn some money wherewith to purchase some delicacies. A day or so after, Dr. Wilkins, the house surgeon, sent his coat to be mended, and the jailor also brought three pairs of privates’ pants and jackets. These were appropriated by Major Houstain, who dressed himself in the surgeon’s coat, and Lieut. von Weltzien in a private’s uniform. Giving the latter two large bottles to carry, he left the hospital, and, passing the guard, who presented arms to him, thinking he was the doctor, the two fugitives gained the street, and, having supplied themselves with three pounds of crackers and one pound of bacon, started on their journey. Three hours after their departure the rebel cavalry were on their track, and now came the struggle for liberty and life. They recount many hairbreadth escapes, and state that they travelled all night, passed nine hours in a swamp in five feet of water, were fired at by cavalry seven times, and finally reached our lines at 3 o’clock on Tuesday morning last, where they were well received by Colonel R. M. West, commanding post at Williamsburg, who sent them to General Foster, to whom the fugitives brought valuable information.

The Rebel Pikes.—The Mobile correspondent of the Atlanta Appeal thus speaks of the pikes which the rebels have brought into considerable use:

“We are arming our men with a new weapon in this war and in modern warfare generally, but a most effective weapon, as it will compel the southern soldier to do his best fighting points, and throw the northerner on his worst, to wit: hand-to-hand fighting. This weapon is the pike, a large number having been and still being manufactured under an appropriation by the legislature. The Alabama pike consists of a keen, two-edged steel blade, like a large bowie-knife blade, near a foot and a half long, with a sickle-like hook, very sharp, bending back from near the socket. This is intended for cutting the bridles of cavalry men, or pulling them off their horses, or catching hold of the enemy when they are running away. This head is mounted on a staff eight feet long. A gleaming row of these fearful implements of slaughter bearing down upon them at the pas de charge would strike terror of ten thousand deaths to the apprehensive souls of the Yankees. It can scarcely be doubted that we would have won more, and more decided, victories than we have, had there not been an ounce of gunpowder, except for artillery purposes, in the confederacy. Then the southerns must have come to close quarters, and their superior physical prowess and nerve would have made their victories deadly and decisive.”

The Appeal has given an accurate description of these ugly looking weapons, some of which have been sent North as trophies. That “superior physical prowess and nerve” of which the Appeal boats was, however, severely put to the test in the assault on Battery Wagner, where our brave soldiers trampled down a chevaux de frise of these weapons, and gained the parapet. With the experience the rebels have had, we do not think they would now willingly give up the musket for the pike.


The Famine in Richmond.—A Government officer [in Washington] in high position received a pencil note from a Union prisoner in Richmond today, saying the rebel authorities have at length altogether stopped the very small meat ration heretofore allowed to our starving soldiers in their prisons. The excuse alleged is that they have ceased to be able to furnish their own soldiers with meat.

NOVEMBER 11, 1863


War News.

The long expected advance of the Army of the Potomac to offer battle to Gen. Lee, after delays respecting its supplies, was finally made on Saturday, and with gratifying success. The commands of Maj-Gens Sedgwick and  and French, at 2 o’clock on that day, had pressed forward to the banks of the Rappahannock, the first to the railroad crossing, and the other to Kelley’s Ford, driving the enemy before them, carrying the redoubts on this side of the river, capturing nearly 2,000 prisoners and a battery of seven guns. The enemy attempted to throw an entire division across the river at Kelley’s Ford, but the movement was checked by Gen. French, who by a well-directed artillery fire shattered the rebel ranks and caused them to retreat in utter confusion. Our men fought splendidly, making most impetuous and gallant charges, and our total loss will not exceed 400 in killed and wounded. At the latest advices our forces were across the Rappahannock.

Very interesting items of news from Gen. Grant’s department have come to hand through Southern sources. An Atlanta, Georgia dispatch, dated last Wednesday, says that during the preceding 48 hours, the Yankees had gained such important advantages, which unless at once counteracted, would put beyond question Gen. Grant’s ability to subsist his entire army at Chattanooga. Our forces maintain possession of Raccoon Valley, having been heavily reinforced, and our cavalry were making most annoying and disastrous raids in Madison and Huntsville Counties.

The report of the surrender of Fort Sumter, brought to Philadelphia by the Salvor on Saturday last, is not confirmed. Our correspondence informs us that the bombardment was in progress by both the land and naval forces and was marked with great vigor and effectiveness. Before our destructive fire the walls of the fort were disappearing fast, and it was entirely probable that the twenty-five men who are said to form the day garrison of the ruin would find the slightest shelter after a few more days’ hammering. The enemy’s colors had been shot away seven times within eight days, and on one occasion, at least, the flag could not have been replaced without loss of life.

By the arrival of the steamship Daniel Webster, from New Orleans, we learn of the departure from that port, on the 27th ult., of the expedition which had been for many weeks in course of preparation under Maj-Gen. Dana’s direction. The expedition, composed of a considerable body of troops and 17 steam transports, convoyed by three gunboats, left the Southwest Pass on the 27th ult. Maj-Gen. Banks commanded in person. The destination of the fleet was not made public, and let us hope that the first knowledge we have will come under the announcement that it has successfully done its work.

Mr. Seward has authorized the announcement that the six rams building at Nantes and Bordeaux, France, for the rebels, will not be permitted to leave port. The French Government takes this course in response to a remonstrance of Minister Dayton.


Those Iron Clads.—It is amusing to see with what nonchalance the southern journals surrender the hope of receiving an iron-clad fleet from England. With all their sputterings and declarations that “the seizure of the rams is the most unfriendly act ever done towards the south by England,” and that “their seizure is an act of war which the south is now unable to repel,” they now inform their readers, that it is doubtful whether the importance of such a fleet to the rebel cause has not been overrated,” and argue that our Monitors would be superior to any which could be brought across the ocean.

Re-enlistment of Troops.—There is a movement in the Army of the Potomac, among the soldiers, to re-enlist in companies and regimens “for the war.” The “Excelsior Brigade” of New York, which represents six regiments, offers to re-enlist for an additional term of three years, provided they are allowed to return home for sixty days to recruit. This offer, besides being unobjectionable, is an admirable method to recruit and sustain an army. An old soldier is worth three raw recruits. Regiments who have done honorable service, desire to retain their old organization, sustain their old flag, and fight the enemy until the war is successfully terminated. Regiments thus re-enlisting and coming home to recruit, would, we think, give an impetus to volunteering, and their ranks would soon be full. The movement is a good one, and the Government will probably encourage it.


National Finances.—In magnificent contrast to the bankruptcy and financial lunacy which rule and ruin in Richmond, the New York Times says that Secretary Chase’s administration of the Treasury will show a clean balance sheet on the 1st of November. It will show the filling of seventy five millions of suspended requisitions, and the payment of every creditor of the government whose claim was on that day audited and established. There is pay due to the brave men who are in the field; thirty millions are laid by for them. The Paymaster general’s requisitions for September and October will be honored when presented. The treasury vaults contain gold enough to meet all demands payable in coin for nine months to come. From Customs alone, the receipts are more than sufficient to pay the specie interest on the public debt as it accrues.


Chattanooga.—The possession of Lookout Mountain strengthens our position at Chattanooga. From this mountain, the rebel artillery commanded the town, and threatened to destroy the pontoon bridges over the Tennessee. Thus far we have maintained and strengthened our position. The rebels, having failed in a direct assault, are now trying the flanking movement. Their whole strength and energy is directed to stop our further progress in that direction. Jeff Davis has gone there and given the matter his personal attention. In his speeches he has tried to impress upon his subjects the importance of holding the country and driving the Union forces from it. Every soldier in the confederacy that can be spared from other points has been sent there. If they fail, they well know it will be good evidence against them of their ability to uphold their causer. Gen. Grant has their case in hand, and judging from his past career, we should say that the chances are against them.


Gen. Hooker’s Fight in Lookout Valley.

About the 25th of October, Gen. Hooker left Bridgeport with the 11th and 12th corps, for the purpose of opening the river to Chattanooga. He was to seize certain points on the route, and hold them. Having accomplished satisfactorily the first part of the work, he encamped on the night of the 28th, with a portion of the 11th corps, in Lookout Valley, directly under Raccoon Mountain, and with a portion of the 12th corps, from three to five miles to the right, the residue of the two corps being engaged in guarding the lines. The night was very light, the moon being full and the sky cloudless. A little past midnight, Gen. Longstreet’s corps advanced to the attack with the purpose of getting between the two corps of Gen. Hooker’s army, and thus crushing them in detail. In the first instance, the attack was chiefly directed against the 11th corps, under Gen. Howard. A body of the enemy gained a position on a commanding eminence, and three federal regiments, the 73d Ohio, and the 33d Mass., with the 136th New York as reserves, were sent to dislodge them. They rushed up the hill gallantly, against superior numbers. At first they were checked and fell back, followed by the enemy. Reforming, they again charged furiously up the declivity, driving the enemy into breastworks and rifle-pits, of the existence of which our troops had before no intimation. After a fierce struggle at this point, the enemy were routed, with a loss of forty prisoners. As it appeared afterward, less than 500 of our troops drove from their defenses about 2,000 rebels. The 11th corps in this engagement did much to retrieve the disgrace sustained by it at Chancellorsville.

The rebels lost very heavily. In one spot they buried 130 bodies. Our loss was small in comparison. The victory will lead to substantial results.



An officer writes from Richmond that there are fourteen thousand Union prisoners there now and that all hope of an exchange may be abandoned for the present.

The prisoners lately captured in Virginia are to be sent to Johnson’s Island, off Sandusky, Lake Erie. This would indicate the resumption of exchanges is as far off as ever.

The sum of $2,000 has been sent from Baltimore for the relief of members of Maryland regiments now imprisoned at Richmond. The money is forwarded through the publisher of the Richmond Dispatch.

The navy-yard workmen at Charlestown, Mass., still hold out against the new order to work from sunrise to sunset. Out of about 3,500 men employed in the navy-yard, only about 100 were at work on Wednesday. A committee has gone to Washington to see the Secretary of the Navy.

He books of Adjutant-General Schouler show that eighty-three thousand nine hundred men have gone from Massachusetts to fight the battles of the country. This is exclusive of the persons enlisted in the navy, which would swell the aggregate to nearly one hundred thousand.

Judges Lowrie, Woodward, and Thompson, of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, in session at Pittsburg, being a majority of the court, gave a decision on Monday relative to certain drafted men, in effect declaring the conscription act unconstitutional.

Meade’s Army.

The New York Times special dated Tuesday says:

“The main force of the rebels were at Gordonsville yesterday and Monday morning, making two-forty time to Richmond.

“Meade is encamped at –––, waiting supplies.

“The reparation of the railroad to Culpepper is abandoned, and Aquia Creek will be our next base of supplies.

“Seventeen hundred muskets have been gathered as fragments of the recent fight, most of them bearing the Tower stamp of 1861, and all of them in serviceable condition. Two of the cannon captured were 10-pounder Parrotts and two 12-pounder Napoleons, with caissons, limbers, and all complete.

“A Union scout just from Richmond and other parts south, reports that Lee is actually in command of Bragg’s army, and that Bragg, though nominally chief, is Lee’s subordinate. He says it was decided a few days since, at a rebel cabinet session, to abandon Virginia on the first intimation of an intention of Meade to advance upon Richmond.”

Gen. Buford’s cavalry had a skirmish with the enemy at Culpepper on Monday, and after a brief fight and charge through the town, drove them before him. They finally retired beyond the Rapidan. It is said that between six and seven hundred rebels were captured near Culpepper.

A gentleman who left the Army of the Potomac Tuesday, says the positions of the opposing forces were believed to be such, that our reconnoissances may at any time lead to a general engagement.


A dispatch from Chattanooga, Tuesday, says that refugees from the rebel army report General Bragg to be evacuating his position in front of Chattanooga and falling back to Rome or Atlanta. General Longstreet was said to be organizing a force for a raid on our line of communication at Bridgeport. An expedition of the 143d New York ad 26th Wisconsin, went up a branch railroad, from Shell Mound to Gordon’s Coal Mines, and recaptured a locomotive and two freight cars, which the rebels thought they had secreted there. In order to get the cars down it became necessary to build a bridge, 123 feet long and 100 feet high, on the line of the railroad, which was accomplished in three days, and the engine and cars safely brought over. By this means the railroad on the south side of the Tennessee was open as far as running waters, and transportation gained for supplies.


Gen. Meade’s Official Report of the Gettysburg Battle.

Washington, Nov. 11.–Gen. Meade’s detailed report of the battle of Gettysburg, dated Oct. 1st, was officially promulgated to-day. He gives as a reason for his delay in making it until then, the failure of receiving the reports of several of the corps and division commanders, who were severely wounded in battle. He says, “The result of the campaign may be briefly stated in the defeat of the enemy at Gettysburg, his compulsory evacuation of Pennsylvania and Maryland, and his withdrawal from the upper valley of the Shenandoah; and in the capture of 3 guns, 41 standards, and 13,621 prisoners. Our own losses were very severe, amounting, as will be seen by the accompanying returns, to 2,834 killed, 13,709 wounded, and 6,643 missing; in all 23,186. He adds his tribute to the heroic bravery of the army, officers and men.

, 1863

The Wood Question.

We do not mean Fernando or Ben; their cases have been settled in the late elections. But we mean the maple, the birch and the beech which we depend upon for fuel to keep us warm and cook our rations with. The continued rise in fuel for the past fifteen years has brought it, if not out of the reach of persons of ordinary means, certainly among the luxuries which cannot be indulged in recklessly. To look out upon our hillsides it would seem as though there was fuel enough for all time; still, the constantly increasing and steady advance in price admonish us that the time is not far distant when wood will be the largest item of expense in ordinary families. In some it is so now.

We read that an ounce of preventive is as valuable as a pound of cure. The preventive in this case is evidently to burn less fuel. There is a great waste of wood in almost every household, store and public building. In many cases the waste of wood is not the chief harm done. The air which is intended to furnish vitality to the human frame is so heated, scorched and sapped of all its vitalizing qualities as to furnish very little life to the mortals who inhale it. We do not propose to lay down any rules regarding the temperature of rooms to live in. We will simply relate a fact which came to our knowledge the past season: An invalid, who had been spending several years in England, returned to Vermont. The temperature of most of the rooms which he had occasion to remain in any length of time was so oppressive as to become unbearable. There was no vitality in the air, and he was obliged to open a window for temporary relief. He said the temperature of the houses in England was kept at about 64°–never above 66 or 7–and a transfer to rooms in this country the temperature of which is never allowed to get below 70°, and from that to 76°, was absolutely stifling.

The moral of this story can be seen by every one. If we would materially lessen a great bill of expense and be healthier at the same time, we should dress warmer and burn less fuel. We look to the English for patterns of health and robustness, and now that returning good sense is dawning upon them respecting our national affairs, let us imitate them so far as it will be for our advantage.

We intended to have spoken of the shameful waste of wood by servant girls, but we have got to the end of our sheet; thereby we hope to keep in the good graces of the girls awhile longer.


Inhuman Treatment of Federal Prisoners at Richmond.

The Baltimore correspondent of the Philadelphia Inquirer confirms the statement that many of the two hundred Federal prisoners recently received from Richmond by a flag of truce were in a dying condition from the effects of starvation and exposure. Nearly forty died before reaching Annapolis, and fifteen lifeless bodies laid in the dead house at one time. The writer says:

“A post mortem examination of all these was made by the attending hospital physician, and it was the deliberate opinion that they sunk in death solely from previous neglect, starvation ad ill treatment, whilst confined in the vile prisons of Richmond. They had been obliged to sleep in the dirt, on the ground, in sand and upon or amid filth of every kind, until their skins were so coated–actually perforated–that scrubbing and washing could neither remove the dirt imbedded grains of sand, &c., nor create a reaction upon the skin. Every symptom known to scientific surgeons, upon examining the stomachs of the dead, demonstrated clearly that they died of starvation and neglect whilst prisoners of war in ->

Richmond. A heart of adamant, or the heart of a confirmed rebel, per se, which is harder, would almost of melted at beholding these prisoners when they landed from the boat, or were first put on board a government vessel. Many of them had nothing under heaven to cover even a portion of their nakedness, except a miserable and tattered old blanket, alive with vermin. They had been robbed of their clothing, shoes, money and everything else.

“Several now dead were so weak when delivered from under the rebel flag of truce as not to be able to articulate their names, and there being no clothing upon them to designate the company or regiment to which they belonged, have died and been buried without the ability to inform their relatives and friends who it was who had thus found an unknown grave.”


Attempt of Rebel Prisoners to Escape.

Last Tuesday the guard at Camp Douglas, Chicago, having suspicion excited, discovered two large tunnels which had been made by the prisoners, especially Morgan’s men, in order to make their escape. One of the tunnels ran directly from the 8th Kentucky cavalry barrack, and was about four feet high and two and a half feet wide; the sides and roof were perfectly lined with boards and planks. The total length of the main tunnel was about seventy-five feet, and it was completed to within a few feet of the fence. There were four branches, used for storing away dirt, hiding tools and clothes, and in one was a nice bed of hay where tired workmen could rest. One of these branches was large enough to accommodate the man who sawed and fitted the planks, so that all the work could be done under ground to avoid noise and to defy suspicion and curiosity. The other tunnel was about sixty feet long, with a branch about forty feet long. This branch was dug lengthwise of the barracks, the dirt being pushed back and pressed between the joists; and the space thus made was used to stow the dirt from the main tunnel. The Chicago Tribune says:

“The means of discovery used was quite unique. As soon as Col. DeLand’s suspicions were aroused, he caused the water to be dammed back in the ditches which run round the square near the fences, rightly judging that as soon as the tunnels reached the ditch, the space above would be so thin that the water would leach from the ditch into them. Monday night the water was about fifteen inches deep. Tuesday morning it was discovered they were nearly dry, and the Colonel shrewdly suspected the underground roadways had gone far enough. A squad of men were placed at work immediately, cleaning out and deepening the ditches, and the excavations discovered.

While these examinations were going on, the prisoners were drawn up in line in the main square, and a guard put over them. As it became certain that their schemes were being discovered, they became uneasy and showed signs of mutiny. The guard around them was strengthened, but this caution was not heeded, and as their intention became more clearly expressed, an attempt was made to force the guard, which was met by a volley, which severely wounded three of the prisoners, which acted as a perfect quietus on the mutinous spirit of the whole clan.”

NOVEMBER 14, 1863


Elevation of the Public Schools.

Massachusetts has a reputation for excellent schools and liberality in their support. As compared with some other states, this reputation is deserved; but our schools by no means accomplish what they might. It is the opinion of not a few observing men that they accomplish less of substantial and valuable education than they did a quarter of a century ago. It is certainly the fact that many of our school text books have deteriorated. The idea of simplifying and making the successive steps in knowledge easy has been carried to an absurd extreme, and the scholar is led up so light a grade that he does not know exactly where he is, or how he got there, and when any new problem is offered to him he must first ascertain where to locate it, and must retrace all the steps up to it, or he is completely non-plussed. Instead of stimulating mental activity this too-easy system of learning makes it unnecessary, and so weakens the intellect and produces general mediocrity. And the rigid classification adopted, together with the common custom of compelling the real scholar to wait for the slow progress of the dolts, tends to the same end; and you will find better scholars often in some little country district, where school keeps but three months in the year, than in many of the large towns where the children have three times as much schooling, and what are supposed to be superior advantages. The large towns should have the best scholars, but the defective routine often more than counteracts all the obvious advantages of concentrated means and power. A common obstacle to progress is found too in the inertia of the teacher, who drags along in the old ruts because it costs too much effort to get out, and he dreads the mental labor which would be rendered necessary by any improvement in the system.

Our public schools profess to fit boys for the ordinary pursuits and business of life. But they do no such thing for the most part. The boys spend from twelve to fifteen years in school, and not one out of ten is qualified at the end of that time to go into a counting room, or even to keep his own accounts as a farmer or mechanic with any sort of precision; and not one out of ten of the boys who go to trades has a knowledge of the first principles of mechanics, so indispensable to the intelligent and successful prosecution of every sort of handicraft. Even the few who get into what we call high schools spend a considerable part of their time there upon orthography and other elementary matters that should be finished up in the primary and grammar schools, and so have little time for advanced studies. And still further to defeat the real objects of education, a great deal of valuable time is thrown away in more fuss and nonsense, which is not discipline but dissipation.

To supply the defects in our higher public schools, some of the colleges have recently established scientific schools, which take boys as they leave our grammar schools and do for them what the high schools fail to do–give them thorough instruction in the higher and practical mathematics, drawing and the natural sciences, and so fit them to be intelligent business men, civil engineers, or chemists, or to succeed in any of the various and increasing arts dependent upon the applications of science. There is great demand for young men thus educated, and thousands of hopeful enterprises fail and thousands of dollars are annually sunk in abortive experiments, because men of scientific education are not to be obtained for their management. ->

For the present we cannot hope for any such radical reform in the course of common school education as will bring Latin into the grammar school, and so lay a solid and economical foundation for literary culture; but an improvement in the mathematical course in these schools is within reach at once, and should be attempted. There is no sense in keeping our boys and girls mulling a dozen years upon the simple rules of arithmetic, working over and over the same processes thousands of times, till the whole thing becomes tedious and stupefying by familiarity. A course of mathematics sensibly arranged would give our boys at the age of fifteen, in addition to arithmetic, at least the elements of algebra and geometry; and they should acquire in the same time a good knowledge of drawing, and at least so much of natural philosophy as treats of mechanical powers. All these additional branches, if taught as they should be, would require constant recurrence to arithmetical processes, and not only keep the first principle fresh, but show the reasons for the various rules and their practical applications. We believe that boys of ordinary smartness can accomplish these things in the grammar school course, and will learn more of arithmetic besides than they can by the present tedious routine, while their interest will be kept alive constantly by the feeling that they are making progress towards something higher. They will thus enter high school prepared for scientific study, and be able to pursue it far enough to make it of practical value, instead of getting a smattering of many things, and abortive ambition for literature, and little substantial knowledge of anything.


Strikes.—Combinations of workmen to obtain higher wages are again becoming very frequent. We hear of strikes at Washington, New York, Boston, and all over the country. This is the natural result of the increased cost of living, in consequence of the high price of everything a man eats, drinks, wears or uses. A cold winter is coming, and the prospect is not very pleasant to a laboring man who receives no higher wages than he did two years ago, and yet has to pay double for everything he purchases. These strikes therefore are reasonable, and to be expected if an increase of wages could not be obtained any other way. Most of them will succeed, and they ought to when the demands are based on justice. Employers may as well make up their minds; in fact, they ought to have anticipated such movements, and made an increase of wages corresponding to the increased cost of living. Any business which will not allow liberal pay to workmen in times like these, ought to be abandoned at once for something that will pay better. There is no difficulty in finding such.

1 In reality, this article seems to be more the result of rabid anti-administration rhetoric than abolitionism. It should be apparent to every reader who has perused even a few weeks of papers that the simplest of arithmetic calculations were beyond the abilities of period journalists. True to form, these numbers do not add up: the first three entries come to $575M, which, with the valuation of property in the fourth line of $596M, means that the state of Pennsylvania would, in the event of a sale, come out $21M ahead. Even the terribly basic process of subtracting $596M from $603M is really only $7M–not the claimed $9M. Well,  let’s just let the writer rant!

2 As per the U.S. Government Debt website, the debt at the time of this transcription (6 September 2013) is $16,738,158,460,000. This is  5,579 times as much as the 3,000,000,000 (“3,000 millions”) so fearfully cited in this article.

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