13, 1863

Confederate Diplomacy.

The Richmond Enquirer publishes a portion of the recently intercepted Confederate correspondence. It reviews the letters of E. de Leon to President Davis on the subject of foreign diplomacy, and concludes thus:

Any rational man would find it difficult to understand–seeing that England and France equally refuse to acknowledge the Confederacy, or to admit our Consuls into their ports–why our Government should make the offensive discrimination of dismissing English Consuls, and letting French Consuls stay; of withdrawing the Commissioner from London, and continuing the Commissioner in Paris. Such a policy on our part, if there be no potential reasons for it (to me unknown), cannot but be interpreted as affronting to one of those powers, and servile to the other. It offends England, and does not conciliate France. However, there are, it is said, very grave and profound, but very private, reasons for the proceeding. Reasons which we are not to know, which the Confederate Government and the Confederate people are not to know, and which, we venture to surmise, the President knows least of all.

We desire exceedingly to see into those reasons. And what is more, we wish to awaken the President and the Congress to the fact–now at least patent enough–that all our mighty diplomatic mimicry of a foreign policy, while we have no foreign relations at all, has done us no service and no credit. The thing is a farce, and would be nothing worse than ludicrous, were it not for the secret operations which we are told are going on “over there,” and which nobody knows of but Messrs. Benjamin and Slidell. This makes the matter serious; and it must all be speedily explored, and turned inside out, if there is any good in a Confederate Congress at all.

We beg leave to suggest a short joint resolution of both Houses, that the President be requested to shut up the Department of State, lock its door, and put the key in his pocket.

This intelligence will abruptly extinguish the glee of our enemies over the new batch of Benjamin correspondence which they have lately intercepted, and which now provokes the grin of the amiable people of the United States. Some specimens of it will be found in another column of this journal. From the the reader will be able to perceive that the dispatches which the State Department sends forth to its agents are only surpassed by those it receives from them. We cannot complain if the revilers of the South are diverted as well as delighted at such revelations, and if the laugh were not at our expense we might ourselves perceive the material for high comedy which they contain.

While Mr. Hotze, with his beard dyed blue, black and yellow, is using his dark lantern in our behalf, and managing all our affairs in England with eh splendid success we know if, it appears that Mr. de Leon is equally busy and pervading in Ireland and the rest of Europe. He finds powerful auxiliaries for us in nameless presses and pulpits. He stops recruiting in Ireland. He discovers the whereabouts of the French Court. He reads the heart of the French nation, and announces that it “wants money.” He fathoms the intentions of Napoleon III, and is gloomily sure that there is as little probability of recognition from France as from England. Indeed, this non-recognized agent of the Confederacy presents a view of the Confederate foreign affairs so very melancholy that we might be disheartened by it, did not all his information smack so strongly of the newspaper and  the café, and bear so few marks of official inspiration, that we may safely indulge the hope that Messrs. Slidell and Mason might give us, if they chose, a different account of our diplomatic relations and prospects. Mr. de Leon appears in a more pleasing and profitable light as a courtier than as a prophet. He implores Jefferson Davis to take care of his precious health, and not to overwork his noble mind. He broadly tells him that he is Moses, and that there is no Joshua. After other charming passages of a similar strain, Mr. de Leon says that although he “abhors making money,” he has been compelled to “remind Mr. B.,” etc., etc.1

The Escape of Morgan.
The Report that he is in Toronto Discredited.

Cincinnati, Dec. 2.–The report that John Morgan is in Canada is not credited here. It is believed that he went to the Ohio river, and recrossed into Virginia.

Toronto, Dec. 2.–The report stating that Morgan has reached Toronto is very doubtful. If he is in Canada he is keeping very dark, but the report is generally believed. It is reported in London that he had reached Windsor, opposite Detroit.

Louisville, Dec. 2.–Major T. J. Farris, of the Detective Police, captured this evening two of John H. Morgan’s captains, R. Sheridan and S. B. Taylor, who escaped with him from Columbus. They were found about six miles east of here, on the Kentucky side of the river, and have been committee to the county jail in this city.


Young Ladies of To-Day.—Did you ever think what a contrast there is between the young lady of to-day and the one of fifty, or even a score of years ago? Then, a lady was one who could take care of herself–could sing in plain musical English, wash, bake and cook all kinds of food, milk a cow if necessary, and make herself generally useful. If she didn’t, she was called lazy–that was all there was about it. But now, we have no lazy women, they are all delicate. The modern young lady is a strange compound of dress and nerves–by which we mean those “exquisite susceptibilities” which cause her to shudder when she sees a wash-tub, and scream at the sight of a cow. She is a living image made to be waited upon. She sings “divinely” and plays the piano “exquisitely,” but neither one of these affects you as much as the “jabbering of an American Indian,” for it is not half as intelligible. She lounges about in the morning, crochets or embroiders a little, then dresses herself up and promenades for the benefit of some “genteel exquisite.” Thus passes her day. Now you needn’t tell me that old bachelors are continually harping on women’s faults–that we do not find any such ladies–that they are the same [as] they always were. It is no such thing. It is an uncommon thing, indeed, to find a young lady now a days that half pays for the food she eats. She is nothing but a bill of expense to her father, and a larger one to her husband, for he has not only to support her, but one or two hired girls to wait upon her also. My advice to every young man is to beware of a fashionable young lady. Never marry the girl who sits in the parlor while her mother stands in the kitchen. It won’t pay.

DECEMBER 14, 1863

From the Chicago Times.
White Slavery in the Metropolis.

Whenever philanthropic John Bull has pointed to our dusky bondsmen in the South, we have invariably retaliated by calling his attention to the condition of his operatives in the factories and collieries of England. Recent developments in New York, however, seem to show that white slavery is not peculiar to Great Britain, but that we, considering that fact that we are the happiest, freest, and most enlightened people on the earth, have a very liberal quantity of Caucasian bondsmen and bondswomen under the very shadow of the wings of the great bird of freedom himself.

A recent movement among the working women of New York city shows that slavery and oppressed labor are not altogether confined to Dixie. Some four hundred women gathered to take action in their case, which has become so severe that starvation seemed an inevitable result. These women represented numerous departments of labor. There were present shirt finishers, hoop makers, book sewers, dress makers, photograph assistants, tent and vest makers, and, in short, representatives from every kind of labor usually performed by females.

Statements and discussions elicited the fact that all these women had labored from twelve to sixteen hours a day, and that in most cases one could only, during this time, earn from 32 to 35 cents. Some only received a dollar a week; in a few cases some received as high as three dollars. Prices for board range from $2 to $3 per week, a price fully as high as the best paid received for their labors, and much larger than that received by others. Of course, a remuneration that in no case is greater than the cost of boarding would leave nothing for washing, clothing, medical attendance in case of sickness, and the other necessities of living.

Where in the history of Negro slavery was there ever a case in which a master obliged slave to work sixteen hours a day for his board, forcing him to find his own clothing, to support himself, and pay his own doctor’s bill while incapacitated from labor by sickness? Supposing that such a case of atrocity to exist in the South, ad that its extremes should reach the ears of the philanthropists of New England, how the earth would tremble beneath their howl of honest execration before this damnable sin!

Many of these women are the support of families at home, although God and themselves only know how such a result is attained. A late report says that there are in Washington, alone, not less than fifteen thousand prostitutes; in other large cities they exist in the same proportions. It is easy to learn why there is such a startling increase in this vile system of immorality, when one sees how miserable is the reward of honest labor in a great metropolis like New York city.

These working women dare not strike for higher pay, as the slightest cessation of their labors brings them face to face with starvation; but they are holding meetings and airing their wrongs with a view of attracting attention to their cases, with the hope of forcing their employers, through the weight of public indignation, to do them justice.

A Telegraphic Wonder.

The following account of an extraordinary French telegraphic invention is given in the Paris correspondent of the London Star:

The Abbe Casselli’s pantelegraph is taken up by the Government. A “project of a law” was recently presented to the corps legislative, which proposes that it should supersede the Morse apparatus now in universal use. The pantelegraph is one of the greatest scientific wonders of the present day. It is properly enough termed here an autograph and amateur. A dispatch written at Paris is reproduced without the assistance of any clerk at Marseille with the most rigorous fidelity, as is also a portrait, sketch or drawing of any kind. Nor does the Casselli apparatus need so great a supply of electricity as that of Morse, and is  much less affected by the condition of the atmosphere. The Empress has lately had her likeness telegraphed to some of her friends in the provinces; and last week, Casselli telegraphed a painting of [a] full blown rose from the observatory to the bureau of the telegraphic administration. The petals were of a beautiful pink color, and the leaves of an equally good green–in short, were exactly like the tints of the original. Rossini, also, not many days ago, telegraphed to Marseille by this apparatus a melody which he improvised in honor of the inventor, and which has since gone the rounds of the Paris salons.2

The above statement seems incredible–but not more so than many things would have seemed a few years ago, which we now know to be true. It will not do to discredit now-a-days, all that seems wild and wonderful. A very few years ago, if any man had predicted such an invention as the Morse telegraph, by which instantaneous communication could be had between Boston and New Orleans, he would have been regarded as a crazy visionary. . . Yet these things are! Therefore, nil admi rari.3


George N. Sanders.

The London correspondent of the New York Times says:

Mr. George N. Sanders has been drawn from his cover, in Pamlico, by the ram question. He declares that he had nothing to do with the rams at Birkenhead. His innocent and lawful mission is to contract for six steamers–not war vessels at all, not armed in any way. They are to be plated, to be sure, so as to run the blockade with the mails, and are to carry such freight as may be desirable. These steamers, he contends, are perfectly lawful, and he professes a willingness to tell Lord Palmerston–confidentially, I suppose–where they are now being built, and to give him needful particulars. Mr. Sanders is quite frank in the matter. He admits that his steamers might be very readily converted into men of war, and that once at Charleston or Wilmington with the mails, the Confederate Government making him a suitable compensation, might arm and use them. That would, however, be no affair of his, nor of the British Government. Pity Mr. Laird could not make out that his rams were intended to carry the mail, and that the iron beaks were only to be used in plowing their way into some of the shallow harbors of the Southern coast, the plating giving them necessary momentum. It took Mr. Sanders to conceive of such a happy idea. Englishmen are not up to such inventions.

But, with all his ingenuity, I am disposed to think that Mr. Sanders’ mail steamers will meet the fate of Mr. Laird’s rams.


Letter from North Carolina.

Newbern, N. C., Dec. 9, 1863.

To the Citizen and News: I told you in my last that I would give you some account of this military post. Newbern is situated at the junction of the Neuse and Trent rivers, about thirty miles above Pamlico Sound. Its population before our army took possession was nearly eight thousand. Its buildings are mostly wooden and of Southern build. It has a salubrious climate, is beautifully located, with streets laid out in squares. When our army approached this place the inhabitants fled, taking their best Negroes and other valuables with them. The town is entirely in the hands of the military. It is full of Negroes that have deserted their masters and come in here, making it necessary to establish large contraband camps. Its present population, including the military, is upwards of fifteen thousand. Last evening I visited a Masonic Lodge, whose M. W. M. was Lieut. Knox of the Signal Corps. The name of this lodge is “The Fraternity Army Lodge,” established here about a year ago, obtaining their charter from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. The work of the evening was the beautiful and sublime work of the third degree, and the candidate was Surgeon Rice of the Twenty-fifth Massachusetts Regiment. When he had taken the first and second degrees, he one day passed out beyond our lines and was taken prisoner and sent to Richmond. He says when he was taken he gave the sign and was answered back: “All right, you shan’t be harmed;” and he regards these two degrees as almost paramount to the saving of his life. In this connection I will say a word more, which may be of interest to the Masonic friends at home. While in the hall of this newly-established lodge of Northmen, I learned that there was in this place, at the time it was taken by our troops, one of the largest and most costly Masonic halls in this country, consisting of beautiful paintings and emblems, costly jewels and goblets, and pitchers of gold and silver. But these were soon “gobbled up” by our soldiers; the Masonic officers and soldiers here, however, have collected by purchase most of these valuable and sent them to the Grand Lodges of their respective states, to be returned to this old lodge if it should survive the shock of war. I saw the charter of this ancient lodge, which had been preserved by our troops; it was derived from England and is dated 1772–ancient and honorable, and carefully preserved by the hand of a Masonic Northmen. Masonry kept the lamp of liberty burning during the dark ages of the East, though dimly yet ever, and as fast as our arms extend over the South, this, the oldest of institutions, is among the first to be established, showing that its immortal principles will spring into life wherever life remains.

The North Carolinians are coming in very fast, taking the oath of allegiance, and joining the army. To-day I have seen about fifty pass along the streets in one squad. They are ragged, hatless and shoeless, dirty and lean, like starved cattle, with hair so long and matted that nothing but the recruiting officer’s shears can relieve them. I have no doubt but what they are driven in by hunger, as our fathers have told us of the wolves doing in the earlier settlements of New England when a long winter of deep snows had deprived them of food so as to drive them to terms of capitulation. ->

I wish to say one word in this connection about the Negroes. I have spent several winters in the South where the institution of slavery ruled the hour and the day. Then and there it was not safe either for the slave or the Northman to interchange many words upon that fire-brand subject. The place is now full of these beings–but how changed the relationship! Now they can converse freely on all subjects of which they have any knowledge. Upon the wrongs and outrages of slavery, no volume was ever yet large enough to contain half that might be collected–the millionth part will never and can never be told. But that is becoming the past–we only look forward. After they get their liberty, the sooner they are made to understand that they have got to earn their own livelihood the better. Let them be impressed into the service as soldiers, or to other employment, as soon as possible. The intelligent Negroes here are deeply impressed with the idea that gen. Butler is the great friend of the poor of all classes of men, and that he has been and is the great defender of their particular race. They know, from what they have heard their masters say, that he is a dread to all secessionists and traitors; and I judge that they reason from that that he is a friend of the slave. I have asked several of them if Jeff Davis should arm the Negroes and put them into the field, would they fight; the answer has been invariably that they would watch for the earliest opportunity to throw down their arms and run to our lines.

The Unionists of this place, as well as the Negroes, feel a relief since Gen. Butler has been appointed over this department–for, on all sides, they tell me that the “secesh” were having things pretty much in their own way–that confusion reigned, and none had confidence in Gen. Foster’s ability to govern as a place like this should be governed.

I will close this letter by relating a circumstance as told to me by a Negro who, at the time of its occurrence, lived at Snowville, N. C.: Two young men, North Carolinians, were one day walking along together and both expressing Union sentiments. A young woman, walking behind them, overheard their conversation and reported it in the village. That night they were taken by a gang, carried to a place, stripped, their heads shaved, their persons mutilated–then tarred and feathered and turned into the streets; one died just before reaching his home; the other lived to get home, but died in a few days.

I shall leave in a day or two for the Fortress.

DECEMBER 16, 1863


Rebel Pirates.

The steamer Chesapeake, plying between New York and Portland, Me., was seized by a party of rebels who were on board the vessel disguised as passengers, while off Cape Cod on Sunday morning, the 6th inst. Capt. Willets was fired at nine times, but not hit, and was finally put in irons. The second engineer was shot dead while attempting to throw hot water on the party. The captain and passengers were put ashore at Partridge Island. The first engineer was taken with them to manage the engines. The vessel was valued at about $160,000. Lieut. Parr, one of Morgan’s men, is second in command. Several fast vessels have been sent by the government in pursuit.4


The Army of the Potomac.

Many are disposed to censure the action of the army of the Potomac during its last campaign in Virginia, and hint that one reason of its failure was owing to the timidity of its commander. It may perhaps be well to ask the question, “Did the army of the Potomac fail in its object in the recent advance in Virginia?” Some of the Richmond papers admit that Gen. Meade has, by a thorough comprehension of the tactics of Lee, completely thwarted every enterprise undertaken by him. Since he has been in command of the army, Lee has undertaken many of the bold and sudden dashes which, invariably, on former occasions, terminated successfully, but which Meade has promptly met and turned to the disadvantage of the rebels. Since Gen. Meade has had command of the army they have never scored a better record. They routed the rebel army at Gettysburg, whipped them at Bristow Station, and by a brilliant maneuver captured two brigades on the north bank of the Rappahannock. They have had long marches and countermarches, but none of them was caused by defeat.

In the recent retrograde movement of the army, there are many reasons assigned. The people, elated at the success of the Federal arms at Chattanooga, had high hopes that the rebel army before Richmond would meet the fate of Bragg’s. But our brave boys in Virginia were not destined to win such glory; but, notwithstanding, the recent advance probably accomplished all that was proposed. The position of the armies in the southwest was such that it was desirable by threatening Lee, to prevent him from aiding them in any way. That Gen. Meade accomplished this, and successfully, is not to be doubted; neither has he been led into any rebel trap as has too often been the case with that army, and have added besides the defeat, the loss of several thousand lives. Thus viewing the campaign, it has been a success. If General Meade found the rebel army weakened, he would have risked a battle; but finding them in force, he kept them in anticipation of an attack until Grant was victorious, and then fell back to his old quarters. Justice as well as interest require us to sustain our generals. If let alone, Gen. Meade will yet lead the army of the Potomac to honor and glory.


The Photographic Rooms of W. F. Burrows are attracting general attention. The reason is that they do take good likenesses. And by the way, there is nothing better for a Christmas present, than to give your friends a good photographic likeness of your own individual self.

The Schleswig-Holstein Difficulty.

A new trouble has arisen in Germany and Denmark which threatens the peace of some of the European powers. Prince Christian, father of the Prince of Wales, has been declared king, and claims to be Duke of Schleswig-Holstein. The Duke of Augustenburg also claims the rule of  the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, and has called upon the German Confederation to support him. The Duke Saxe-Coburg, and one or two other minor German princes, have recognized his claim as valid. The question as to who is rightful successor has long been in dispute, but by the death of the King of Denmark, it has assumed a new aspect and is of more importance. The Duke of Augustenburg’s claim is that, according to the laws of the German States, a crown can descend only through the male line, and, the late king having died without issue, it falls to him as the rightful heir. But it seems that in the year 1832, when this same trouble had arisen, a conference was held represented by England, France, Russia, Austria, Prussia and Sweden, at which it was decided that Prince Christian should succeed the King of Denmark, instead of the Duke of Augustenburg.  It is said that Austria and Prussia now back out of the agreement, and the question seems to be mixed up again. The inhabitants of the Duchies argue that foreign powers have no right to dispose of them in such a manner; but if the great powers sustain Prince Christian, it will be of no use for them to make any protest. He is making vigorous efforts to sustain his authority. It rests with the German Diet whether there will be peace or war.

England will probably try to prevent a war, as she is mixed up pretty well in the matter, for the new King of Denmark is father of the Prince of Wales; the Duke of Saxe-Coburg, who sustains Augustenburg, is brother-in-law to Queen Victoria, and Prince Alfred will succeed him as Duke of Coburg. Victoria’s daughter is Princess Royal of Prussia, and Prussia in 1848 led in the war against Denmark. It would seem to be for her interest to have peace.


Important Law Decision.–Samuel Babcock vs. Henry A. Balcam–This is the case in which the copperhead papers in the state stated last summer, that Mr. Balcam had been mulcted in fine and costs for unlawfully suspending Mr. Babcock’s son from the High School, on account of his son insisting upon wearing a copperhead badge by the order of his father to do so, against the rule of the school. The case came to the Superior Court by appeal and was tried to the jury. The plaintiff claimed that it was unlawful under any circumstances to suspend the child from school, and much less for the patriotic act of wearing the head of the goddess of liberty, which was stamped into the aforesaid piece of copper. A. Hall, Esq., appeared for the plaintiff. The charge of the judge was an admirable exposition of the law upon the subject, and was replete with common sense. The jury, we understand, were equally balanced politically, who, after being out about five minutes, returned their verdict for the defendant, thus reversing the decision of the Justice.



Gen. Grant on Slavery.—Senator Wilson’s quotation of Gen. Grant’s views of slavery having been questioned, the following is given as the precise words used by Gen. Grant in a letter to Hon. E. B. Washburne, dated Aug. 13, 1863:

“The people of the North need not quarrel over the institution of slavery. What Vice President Stephens acknowledges as the corner stone of the confederacy is already knocked out. Slavery is already dead, and cannot be resurrected. It would take a standing army to maintain slavery in the South if we were to make peace to-day guaranteeing to the South all their former constitutional privileges. I never was an abolitionist, not even what would be called anti-slavery, but I try to judge fairly and honestly, and it became patent to my mind early in the rebellion that the North and South could never live at peace with each other except as one nation, and that without slavery. As anxious as I am to see peace established, I would not, therefore, be willing to see any settlement until this question is forever settles.”


Rebel Expectations.—A prisoner captured at Chattanooga stated that it had been a disputed question in the rebel camp which brigade should escort the army at Chattanooga to Richmond; and on being asked why Bragg didn’t shell us, said that Bragg declined to do so, believing it to be “contrary to the laws of civilized warfare to shell prisoners.” The rank and file of Bragg’s army had been flattered with assurance that they had our army at Chattanooga in a snare.

A Philadelphia Inquirer correspondent, writing from General Grant’s army, says:

“Officers captured on Missionary Ridge stated that Hardee shed bitter tears over the destruction of his corps and the turning of the rebel position. He was heard to say to Breckinridge, ‘We have not far to look for the end–our best hope are blasted.’ ”


Robert Small, the brave Negro who brought the steamer Planter out of Charleston two years ago, has been placed in command of that vessel. Since that achievement he has been almost constantly in the service of the government. He was on board the ill-fated Keokuk as pilot in the first attack upon Sumter by Du Pont, and has since in the same capacity penetrated nearly every inlet and creek along the entire coast, and been under fire for days, and sometimes weeks at a time. Recently the Quartermaster of the Department of the South required the services of the Planter where she should be liable to come under the fire of rebel guns. The captain, a brawny white sailor, refused to go, whereupon the Quartermaster immediately issued the following order:

Office of Chief Quartermaster,
Port Royal,
S. C., Nov. 26, 1863.

Captain A. T. Dayton, Chief Assistant Quartermaster, Folly and Morris Islands:

Sir: You will please place Robert Small in charge of the United States transport Planter as Captain. He brought her out of Charleston harbor more than a year ago, running under the guns of Sumter, Moultrie and the other defences of that stronghold. He is an excellent pilot, of undoubted bravery, and in every respect worthy of the position. This is due him as a proper recognition of his heroism and services. The present captain is a coward, though a white man. Dismiss him, therefore, and give the steamer to this brave black Saxon.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. J. Elwell,
Chief Quartermaster’s Department South.

The order was at once approved by General Gilmore, and Robert Small faithfully discharged the duty required of him.

War Items and Incidents.

The Times’ Washington dispatch says Lee’s cavalry endeavored on Sunday to cut General Meade’s communications with Washington, by destroying the bridge across Cedar Creek near Catlett’s Station. About 700 made a dash against the guard posted at the bridge, but were driven off after a short fight. The line of railroad from the front to Alexandria will be protected by both cavalry and infantry hereafter.

A gentleman just arrived from the Army of the Potomac says that some of our cavalry will occupy Culpepper, and our pickets extend several miles beyond that town. The position of our troops remains unchanged, but there are indications of changes with a view to greater comfort.

The Times’ correspondent from Portsmouth, Va., informs us of an important expedition undertaken by Brig. Gen. Wild, commanding the Negro brigade in General Butler’s Department. Starting out from the vicinity of Portsmouth on Saturday, the 5th inst., and marching in two columns by different routes, the brigade united at Huntsville, N. C., where an advance was made on Elizabeth City, which was occupied on the 10th instant, without opposition, the rebels being taken by surprise. Artillery and cavalry, as well as a considerable naval force, have left to co-operate with General Wild, and Elizabeth City is likely to be made the base of important operations.


A Valuable Prize.—A Fortress Monroe dispatch gives the following description of the celebrated blockade runner Minna, of Waterford, England, captured off Charleston by the U. S. steamer Circassian, Capt. Eaton:

“The Minna is a large ship, over nine hundred tons burthen, and two hundred and ten feet long deeply loaded. Her cargo consists of specie, quinine, rifles, powder, vitriol, wines and liquors, agricultural tools, hardware and general merchandise. She has also a valuable marine engine, probably intended for some of the new rebel iron-clads.

“The engineers found her engine damaged a little and the water pipes broken, but, taken in time, they were speedily repaired. The Captain of the Minna says that the ship and cargo will sell for three hundred thousand dollars in any port. She was taken without a chase, as she was under the Circassian’s guns before she was aware of it. She was nine hundred tons burthen, and rated A No. 1 for ten years at Lloyd’s. Her papers could not be found. They had probably been thrown overboard. Sufficient has been found, however, to prove that she is from Nassau, N. P., to some southern port.”

, 1863


“What Shall we do With the Women?”

I do not mean contrabands, but white women, aye, ladies, whom the circumstances of war have caused to drift up upon the sea of events and be stranded upon the bleak and barren shores of poverty. “What shall we do with them?” is no doubt the question put with anxiety to one another by our superiors. More especially must this query be raised at this time, just upon the edge of winter; and at this place, with us, when our force holds the picket gates and our offices grant “passes,” and now that our General, tired out by the ceaseless din of daily applicants for market privileges of coming to the camps, has shut them all down, and refused any one to bring articles for sale, this momentous query returns with greater force than ever.

“Shall we keep them all on Government rations, and let the ‘commissary of subsistence’ feed some six or eight hundred in the two cities, that number no doubt to be greatly augmented?” This is one side of the question, and it gives me the chance of telling you of a number of cases where women have tried not to be reckoned among the weekly pensioners at the office of the commissary of subsistence in Portsmouth.

I have in mind Mrs. H., of whose culinary skill I have told you before, a married woman aged 45, husband a prisoner somewhere, formerly in the Confederate army, grown up son on board one of the Union gunboats at Hampton, a girl and two little boys at home to be fed and clothed. She got a permit to come to the camps with a borrowed horse and cart, the cart laden with various market produce and a variety of nicely cooked dishes: chicken pie, beef pie, oysters, gingerbread, fried fish, &c., at various prices from five to twenty-five cents; her wares would be sold by the piece-measure or plateful, and long before sundown the entire cartful would be disposed of. The net profit to Mrs. H. of such a day’s traffic would not be less than eight to twelve dollars, and she came twice a week. She cannot come to camp now, yet she and her children must be fed by somebody.

Also the old lady, Mrs. E., who came from our upper picket line with a sturdy Negro wench for a driver. It was she who brought those red apples which I told you of; and while she could also bring poultry and eggs, and sell three ordinary sized apples for ten cents (!) she would readily make from one to four dollars per day. She cannot do it now, yet herself and a blind sister, and the sable wench above-mentioned, are to be fed.

Biddy O’G., too, the cheerful fishwoman; fresh spot-fish and sheep’s heads, every morning in season for breakfast; she could buy them at the wharves at fifty cents per hundred and readily sell them at more than double profit. Biddy is a “widder” with “four wee childer,” and with the characteristic independence of her race she does not want to ask bread and meat of the Government, yet now, when she can no longer bring her fish to camp, she must do it, for her children must not starve. ->

Multiply the instances above noted by about one hundred, and you have the aggregate of what comes under our own notice in our own department; and when we consider that this district merely represents a tithe of the same perplexity, is not the question “what shall be done with them?” of solemn and momentous import? The question, here and now, and by our officers, is easily met. It is of the highest military importance that no possible chance of treachery should be left open; hence the wisdom of keeping all classes from passing the lines; therefore let all be kept at home, and such as are in need, be fed from the public stores. Thus much for the present solution of the question. Yet a thought of the future, with these impoverished communities, whole families living on public alms, children growing up in such wholesale beggary, is it not enough to make the lover of his country tremble and turn pale? Aye! Ten years hence, what shall we do with them then? This is one of the inside horrors of war, and like every other evil of the kind, must be calmly and prayerfully met.


The Rebel Cabinet.—The Richmond Whig of the 3d inst., tells tales out of school concerning the capacity of the Southern Government, in the following plain fashion:

“With no other motive or thought than to advance the public interest, we would again respectfully suggest to the President the advantage of reconstructing his Cabinet and calling to his aid the very ablest intellects of the country. The burdens and responsibilities of his post are too great for any man to bear. He has use for all the assistance it is possible to command. We have a Department of State that has not been able in nearly three years to establish relations with any other State; a Treasury Department that has failed to keep its finances from running to ruin; a War Department in the hands of a chief whose whole studies and course of life have been purely and peculiarly civic; a Navy Department without a navy; a Post Office Department with a very shackling system of mails; a Department of Justice vacant. The business of each Department, separately, shows the want of more masterly hands, and the united powers of their chiefs in Cabinet council (if councils are ever held) fail to supply the quantum of wisdom the country needs.”


Increase of Wages.—The American Straw Goods Association, comprising three-fourths of all the manufacturers of straw goods in the country, at their annual meeting recently held in New York, voted to recommend an increase of wages to straw sewers generally of twenty per cent above the prices paid at the commencement of last year, varying the advance upon eh different classes of work as equity and equality shall require.

DECEMBER 19, 1863


Modifications of the Conscription Act.

A few days ago we spoke of the impolicy of the proposed repeal of the $300 exemption clause. We trust Congress will not be betrayed into hasty action by an overweening desire to frame a law s stringent that none but a favored few can escape its exactions.

Thus far our armies have been recruited almost wholly by volunteering. Hardly men enough to constitute a single regiment responded from the entire country in person to the draft of last summer. Of the four hundred and fifty thousand favored on that occasion with invitations to don the federal uniform, not one per cent ever joined the ranks. Many were excused for various causes. Some mysteriously disappeared. Large numbers either furnished substitutes, or paid to the Government the fair price of a substitute. Hence the hundred thousand troops, more or less, added to the Union armies as the fruits of the draft, were, with hardly an exception, volunteers. This chapter of experience should convince Congress that the ranks of our armies are to be kept full by volunteering, either direct or indirect.

Three hundred dollars as the price of exemption throws a sufficiently heavy burden upon the individual. Much the larger share of every community is composed of those who earn their bread by daily toil. Wives and children look to their efforts for the means of subsistence. Their possessions are generally small, though happily adequate in most cases to furnish every needed comfort. As a rule, laborers are compelled to toil many years before accumulating a thousand dollars. If the conscription now falls upon him, he pays one-third of his little fortune, saved from the hard toil and rigid economy of half a life-time, as his share of the fund to be paid in bounties to volunteers. Were a sweeping conscription at the North responded to by the payment of the pecuniary exemption, probably two-thirds of the conscripts would be required to sacrifice not less than one-half of their property. If more money is needed, let the tax be thrown not on the individuals, but on the property of the nation. Men of large fortunes, often greatly augmented by the peculiar prosperity incident to war, can afford to assume some share of the burthens of raising troops.

As it is, recruits are absorbing the wealth of the laboring classes. For services that can hardly extend beyond the period of a few months, they are receiving the most extraordinary pay. On returning from the army they will be in possession of sufficient capital, if judiciously used, to insure ultimate competency and independence. Military service is by far the most remunerative employment in which the laborer can now embark. These unprecedented inducements, which, aside from considerations of patriotism, ought to tempt men by thousands into the army, are furnished in good measure by the proceeds of the $300 exemption clause.

The field wherein recruiting operations are conducted is continually undergoing enlargement. Since the occupation of East Tennessee, several regiments have been raised from the Unionists of the district. Arkansas has recently furnished several thousand men for the Union army. The same thing is taking place in other parts of the South as they are successively liberated from rebel despotism. ->

Moreover, the colored element in the federal service is assuming very formidable proportions. Some time ago we had fifty thousand colored troops, and, latterly, new impetus has been given to the organization of blacks. Gen. Butler, in his department, has taken hold of the work with great earnestness, and will soon have a very strong column of Negroes. Great care is taken in providing officers for the black regiments. Candidates are subject to rigid examination, and are required to produce indubitable profess of trust-worthiness as well as competency. Thus officered, the colored regiments will soon be equal to any in the service. They are docile, tractable, and on many fields have given abundant evidence of courage. As to humanity, their conduct ah shamed the Southern papers out of the chronic whining about servile atrocities.

Thus, it will be seen, that we have every prospect of keeping the army full, without the necessity of resorting to oppressive measures.


Our Prisoners in Richmond.

Baltimore, Dec. 18.–The two Union prisoners , Captain N. Anderson of the 51st Indiana, and Lieut. J. T, Skelton of the 17th Iowa, who escaped  from Libby Prison a week ago, and reached here this morning by the Fortress Monroe boat, travelled night and day through the woods down the Peninsula, directing their course by means of a small pocket compass. They visited the Baltimore American office, and in behalf of their late companions in prison, desired to express their grateful thanks for the timely relief sent to them through the instrumentality of the Baltimore American Relief Fund. They report that whilst the supplies furnished by the rebel authorities were of very poor quality and very meagre, still it was the best they had to give., Apart from this, the conduct of the rebel officers and guard had been generally kind, though there may have been individual cases of harsh and perhaps cruel treatment; so far, however, as their own experience goes, they feel it due to say that there has been much exaggeration in the statements in regard to the treatment of prisoners. The supplies of food sent from here and from the North, was most timely, and doubtless there would have been intensely more suffering but for such relief. The condition of our prisoners on Belle Island, their officers say, is doubtless far poorer than those in Libby. At least 1,500 of our prisoners are without shelter of any kind, and most of the tents are so worn as to afford but little protection. Thus they are exposed to the cold winds and wet sands, and must suffer intensely.


A private letter from an officer in Grant’s army relates an incident among the rebel prisoners:

“A big lot of graybacks were brought in and halted right in front of where I stay. I went to the door and heard the different squads hallooing for their regiments: ‘Where’s the Twenty-fourth Alabama?’ ‘Is the Tenth Georgia here?’ ‘Is there any South Carolina regiment in that crowd?’ The last question was politely answered by a big grayback: ‘D--n your South Carolina regiments; if it hadn’t been for you, we wouldn’t be here!’ ”

1 Edwin de Leon was consul general in Egypt when the war began. Upon learning that his native state of South Carolina had seceded, he returned home, met with Jefferson Davis, and volunteered for military service. “Davis sent him instead on a confidential mission to Europe to secure the recognition of the Southern Confederacy by foreign powers. De Leon refused any salary or remuneration for his services, but advanced from his own purse considerable sums for the use of the Confederacy. He again ran the blockade, reached Nassau, and arrived in England in July, 1862. As diplomatic agent he was received in the highest circles, both in England and in France, and personally pleaded the cause of the Confederacy with Lord Palmerston and the emperor Napoleon.” (Source.)

2 Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like–a prototype fax, in 1863. See source.

3 Latin for “be excited by nothing.”

4 See “Recapture of the Chesapeake” in the December 24, 1863 Pittsfield Sun.

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