JANUARY 10, 1864

Letter from Antelope.
[Special Correspondence of the Picayune.]

New York, Dec. 30, 1863.

New York has seldom witnessed a more gay or “merry” Christmas than the one just past. Santa Claus and Kriss Kringle were here, there and everywhere, and money was literally poured out like water. To get into some of the silk, jewelry, fancy, millinery and toy stores at any moment during the whole of the day preceding, was almost an impossibility–so crowded were they with anxious buyers–while at night, or “Christmas Eve,” the streets presented the appearance of a carnival. The markets were also filled to overflowing, and wagons stood for whole squares leading therefrom, unloading their contents to the eager and joyous crowd. The theatres, to use a popular phrase, were “crowded from pit to ceiling,” and to all outward appearances there was nothing to indicate but what we were blest above all other lands.

And the joy and merriment were sincere beyond all doubt! Not a hollow notch could be detected anywhere! There was no sham, no forced putting on of gaiety, but it was deep and spontaneous. I have pondered on it much since–pondered, sorrowed, shall I say, wept? Were we still at war with our kindred? Had a quarter of a million been laid in the dust? Was our hearth-stone vacant and the Angel of Destruction still abroad? The merriment was earnest–the laugh rang loud–the hilarity was bounding–the eye flashed brilliantly–it was not a dream!

The comments of the Halifax and other journals, published in the immediate vicinity, upon the Chesapeake affair, are scarcely so sensational in their tone as some of the telegrams that we have received. These journals, in the main, regret the forced release of the crew of eh vessel, and express the hope that they may yet be brought to punishment, though the chances for this are not considered flattering. The release of the men was certainly a very easy affair, which gives suspicion against the police of being in sympathy with them and their cause an air of seeming probability. But why the need of this escape and concealment, if, as Braine alleges, he was regularly commissioned by the Confederate Government? He was in a neutral port and the vessel in neutral waters. Why not then, if acting under authority, fearlessly await a trial?

A letter from Halifax to one of our papers here puts a decidedly new face upon the release of the prisoners. It says that when the Provincial authorities heard that the Chesapeake’s men were in irons on board a Federal vessel in the harbor, an order was at once sent on board requesting that they be given up by 1 o’clock on the 18th. This was refused, and the next morning ammunition was dealt out to all the forts, the batteries manned, and the troops retained in the barracks for instant service, if necessary. Orders were then given that no Federal vessel of war be allowed to leave the harbor until the prisoners were given up, which was afterward consented to, and the fleet left for American waters. The Niagara, it is said, when she came into the harbor of Halifax, refused to salute Fort George, as is the custom. Whether she did on leaving is not stated.

It is astonished he activity that has taken place since the seizure of the Chesapeake first became known. The passport system against every passenger and vessel is rigorously enforced, and certain it is that unexpected discoveries have already been made. ->

Barrels marked “Mercer Potatoes” have been opened and found to contain powder and caps! Barrels and casks of “Lard” were found to contain revolvers! In the bosoms of ladies (passengers) the same indelicate articles were found! And, altogether, there is quite an excitement over the tremendous extent to which loyal New York has been engaged, in a sly way, in aiding the rebels.

The “Lard” revolver case alluded to above resulted in the arrest of Mr. H. Segur, who recently represented the Government of San Salvador at Washington. The Doctor was just in the act of taking passage on the Geo. Cromwell, when he was told that he was “wanted.” In his baggage were several revolvers, as also rifle and pistol cartridges of various sizes; there was also on his person a bill of lading for 50 tierces of “Lard,” shipped per British bark Circassian, which tierces, on being opened, were found to conceal several thousand navy revolvers, worth at least $20 each! The Doctor’s wife, child and maid were with him, and on the person of each, even the child, contraband of war was found. The Cromwell has been taken to the Atlantic docks under orders from Washington. This inspection of passengers and cargo of every vessel, is playing the deuce in the way of detention, but the developments are so rich that the new law will no doubt be rigidly adhered.

Reënlisting in the army is represented as going on swimmingly: the “old sojers” are nabbing the fat bounties with a will, and one authority asserts that “by spring, without resorting to the draft, we shall have a magnificent army of tried veterans, numbering one million men and one hundred thousand cavalry.”

That reënlisting is going forward to a large extent is very certain. The World reports, upon good authority, that two-thirds of Meade’s army has accepted the bounty and furlough tendered them, and there is reason to believe that the forces with Grant have, to a large extent, done the same. This, it is said, is a welcome disappointment to the Administration, as the fear was pretty general that the veteran troops would ask their discharge at the end of their term, and thus throw the prosecution of the war into new and untried hands.

The whole army will undergo a thorough reorganization before it again snuffs the breeze of battle. Whether or no any contingency has been provided against an attack from Lee, while the forty thousand reënlisting regiments are enjoying their furlough, does not appear; but if not, the risk run is an immense one. One report says that fresh troops take their place.

The refusal of the Confederate authorities to treat with Butler was pretty clearly foreshadowed by me a few days back. They adhere unflinchingly to their determination with reference to the Negro troops, and refuse either to receive a flag of truce from Butler or negotiate with him. The Tribune, in speaking of the refusal, says: “As they have now fully taken their position, it may be that our Government will stop throwing grass and see what virtue there may be in stones.”

JANUARY 11, 1864

The Question of Questions.

While Congress manifests its chief concern about swelling the army, every man who will take the trouble to inquire into facts, can easily satisfy himself that the real, vital question turns upon our ability to supply the army. The difficulties are two-fold and exceedingly threatening in their character. The first difficulty is in the scanty supply of food in the country, and the second, which is perhaps even still more [unsavory?] in its character, is the insufficient and failing means of transportation. The railroads and their motive power and rolling stock are giving out, at a time when the great bulk of our army supplies have to be carried vast distances. It is possible a final breakdown might be averted altogether or postponed by a strengthening [of] the repair forces of the roads and their work-shops, but the railroads are now busy, apparently without effect, in endeavoring to save even their present force from conscription. If they fail to do it, the story will be short with their lines of roads, and if they fail to get sufficient force in their machine shops to keep repairs better than they have done, the tale will not be much longer.

The Railroads of the country, which ought to be its great element of defensive strength, will then be useful only to the enemy. The Confederate authorities may rely upon it that when our roads cease to be in running order, the enemy will put and keep them in good and effective condition during the balance of the war.

These two points, which we have indicated, are the great dangers of the Confederacy, and yet Congress says nothing about them. On the contrary, the clamor for universal conscription, it is to be feared, is already thinning out the railroad shops of foreign workmen, whose services are invaluable to the roads and the country as machinists, but who will not take the field as soldiers.


The Largest Contribution Yet.

We received the following on Saturday:

Fort Valley, Jan. 5, 1864.

Mr. Clisby:1 As a minister of the Gospel of Peace, I am opposed to the destruction of human life, but if it be determined by our cruel invaders that blood must needs be shed, then I present the inclosed one thousand dollars as a contribution toward remounting the chivalric General Morgan and his dauntless troops, that they may as best they can, under God, see to it that the blood shed shall not be the blood of our dearly beloved Confederates.

G. W. Persons. 


City Store for the Poor.—We are glad to see from the proceedings of Council that the city authorities have adopted a scheme for the establishment of a provision store for the poor, where they will be supplied with food at cost and charges, and that Mr. Bond has been engaged to superintend the business. We call upon producers to remember this store in selling their produce. Give it the preference and sell as low as you can.

From Mexico.

The New York Herald publishes later news from Mexico, which gives a very sad picture of the disunity and helplessness of the Juarez Government. If we may rely on these accounts, it would seem that Juarez is now ready to take his flight from San Luis Potosi, having packed up his archives and treasures, ready for the expected migratory movement. The French forces were gradually pushing into the interior, and the star of the empire seemed to be ascending to the Zenith.

Here is an extract from one of the Herald’s letters:

“When Forney counted upon the want of firmness, instability, deceit and endless internal divisions of the Mexican people as his best allies in the conquest of their country, he was not wrong. It is true reinforcements have lately arrived from France–in what number I do not know; but this significant fact still remains that Bazzine marched out of Mexico city with about twelve thousand Frenchmen and half that number of native allies to attempt, or perhaps accomplish, the conquest of that vast country, and meets with no opposition. We must take facts as we find them, and estimate them at their proper value. I say again that there is no Mexican nation, and for that very reason the success of the French is now so wonderful as may at first sight appear.

“Mexico is dead, and all the telegraphic bulletins from California, or all the sympathy of the United States, cannot galvanize her into life. We now find the national army broken into fragments, the chiefs at variance with each other, the people divided, the treasury empty and the constitutional head of the Government flying from town to town for safety.”


Cold Weather, and the Price of Keeping Warm.—Friday night at 11½ o’clock the mercury stood at 28. At 3 o’clock Saturday morning it was at 24–at Sunrise, 26, at 9 o’clock 22. The probabilities now are that Saturday night will be colder still. During the day the imposition of the wood-haulers surpassed all bounds. We saw a little load, say one-sixth of a cord, priced at twenty dollars, and it had been sold at that price. More than half of it was gum and of no value as firewood. What are the poor to do in such a state of affairs?


Vessels Captured.—Hunt’s Merchant’s Magazine says that up to Oct. 1st, 1863, as far as reported, 175 Yankee vessels had been captured. The summary shows one U. S. gunboat, one steamer, one steam tug, fifty-four ships, forty-two barks, thirty-two brigs, forty-seven schooners–80,999 tons. The Alabama captured 59 of these. This is a tolerably fair admission for a Yankee.


General News Summary.

A telegraphic chess match between New York and Philadelphia commences today.

Admiral Lessoffsky has written a letter to Mayor Lincoln, saying that the Russian fleet will visit Boston in the spring.

One hundred and fifty cords of wood were cut and split at Marion, Iowa, on Christmas day for the benefit of the “war widows.”

It is officially announced that John Morgan escaped through a misunderstanding. Penitentiaries ought to be built without them.

Near South Bend, Indiana, lived two Germans, both married men. Snowbergen had improper intercourse with Schriner’s wife. Whereupon Schriner split open Snowbergen’s head with an axe and Mrs. Snowbergen poisoned Mrs. Schriner. It was a horrible affair all around.

In Montreal, a couple of ardent sympathizers with each of the contending parties of the American war, have wagered $2500 that Grant would never take Atlanta, $2500 that Charleston would not fall, $500 that Richmond would never be taken, [and] $10,000 that the South would never be conquered.

A report having been circulated that Prentice of the Louisville Journal had become incapable of editing his paper or managing his property, on account of his fondness for Bourbon, he has written a letter saying that he is capable of managing his paper and himself. He didn’t say anything about Bourbon, however.

The offense of Dr. Gwynn, of this state, the employee of the treasury department lately arrested at Washington, was only the diversion of seventy thousand dollars of public money from the payment of presses and materials purchased for his bureau into his own pocket. The detectives have traced paper and ink from the bank note printing department in which he and another were principal employees, directly to a counterfeiting establishment in New Jersey.

Eighty of the guards at Camp Douglas, near Chicago, although the men were frequently relieved, had their hands and feet so badly frozen on Thursday night as to incapacitate all of them for duty for some time and many for their whole lives. Four prisoners escaped, but two perished, and the others were brought back badly frozen. In Indiana, about thirty miles south of the Michigan state line, a family of seven persons were driven from their house by fire on Friday night, and all were frozen to death before they could reach shelter.

The number of clerks and other officials in the various departments at Washington is thus given in round numbers: State department 50, treasury 1200, interior 450, war 500, navy 100, post office 120, agricultural department 30, commissioner of public buildings, office, 40, Senate 100, House 120, police 150, white house, courts, &c., 100. Add to these 8000 men employed by the quartermaster’s department in this city, and at least 3000 more at the navy yard, arsenal, and on the works at the capitol and other public buildings, and one can form an idea of the army of occupation paid by Uncle Sam.

Guns are a drag now. Many foreign muskets imported on speculation are going back, and a lot of 10,500 Austrian muskets, destined for the rebels but captured by the government, were sold at auction in Boston the other day for $3.50 to $3.75 each. We are now manufacturing all we want, and more, too. ->

Never have the heat in your living rooms so that the thermometer will go above 70 degrees, and if you can possibly bear it, down to 62 degrees it is very much better. It takes a double expenditure of fuel in cold weather to raise the temperature of a room from 65 to 75 degrees.

Up to January 1, 1863, Central Park had cost New York city over seven million dollars, but had increased the taxable valuation of the three adjoining wards nearly thirty millions.

Colonel Carter, late commander of the famous Virginia Black Horse Cavalry that made the furious charge on our lines at Bull Run, is now a prisoner in Camp Chase prison. This body of horsemen, which constituted the flower of Stuart’s cavalry division, has been entirely obliterated. This Colonel Carter is a son of that Colonel Carter who, in eh convention, so persistently opposed the secession of Virginia at the time when the mob threatened the convention with violence unless they would immediately adopt the ordinance of secession. The father is said to be a sound Union man yet.


The National Academy of Sciences.—The last Congress designated the names of fifty respectable gentlemen of real or supposed superior knowledge in the various branches of science, and gave them an act of incorporation as the National Academy of Sciences. The gentlemen thus appointed met in New York last winter, effected an organization after the plan of similar bodies, and as a first move voted to hold their meetings in private, excluding even the members of the press, and thus shutting off the people, for whose interest the academy had been founded, from all knowledge of their deliberations, and all benefit to be derived from them. Since that time till within a week, the national academy has not been heard from. Last week a meeting was held in Washington, and we are vouchsafed so much as to be informed that an earnest discussion was going on as to who should be elected the first foreign member, Sir William Hamilton or Professor Farraday. It is a very momentous question and we shall be glad to hear that it is decided one way or another. We have no hopes, however, that an early decision will be reached, for the telegraph also informs us that the members are enjoying very largely the hospitalities of Washington, so that they can have but little time for deliberation. Altogether our national academy has not done very much yet that any body can be proud of; but there is always hope while there is life.


Legislation Concerning Slavery.

A was introduced by representative Stevens of Pa., on Monday, the consideration of which was postponed till February next, providing that within all the territory of all the confederate states which has been or may be conquered and subdued by the federal armies, all laws and parts of laws which permit slavery are henceforth abolished, and that slavery shall never again be established within said territory; that hereafter no portion of it shall be admitted into the Union as a state or be represented in its Congress, excepting by delegates if the same should be authorized, until the people within the territory forming such state shall by its organized law forever prohibit slavery therein.

JANUARY 13, 1864


From Florida.—A Key West letter of the 29th ult., to the Herald, states that the steamer Bloomer had made an expedition, under Ensign Cressy, to St. Andrew’s Bay, where he found one hundred and ninety-nine private salt works and the Government salt works nearly a mile square. Five hundred salt boilers and kettles, eight hundred bushels of salt, together with all the buildings, were completely destroyed by the expedition with fire and axes. A large number of contrabands were set free and a train of rebel produce wagons captured and destroyed, which were laden with provisions, tools, &c. The destruction occupied two whole days. The damage done is estimated by the rebels at over $3,000,000. At the same time the steamer Restless went to St. Andrew City, where some four hundred rebel soldiers were quartered, who were driven off by her guns, and a party of volunteers under Ensign Eaton landed and burned every building in the place. Not a shanty was left above the ground. The schooner Fox, on the 10th, found a steamer in a creek near the mouth of the Savannah River, which proved to be the steamer Flushing, of New York–a blockade runner–and a boat expedition soon reduced her to ashes. On the 24th, the Fox captured the rebel steamer Edwin, which tried to run the Fox down, but a volley of musketry swept her deck, fatally wounding her rebel captain. She was sent to Key West as a prize. Her cargo was salt and lead. Several small captures have been made near Key West.


Winter Feeding.—The high price of hay and grain in the present winter, (says the Massachusetts Ploughman,) will furnish temptations to farmers to be parsimonious in dealing out their fodder to the stock in the barn. When hay is selling at $25 per ton, and corn at $1.35 per bushel, it is hard to see a realization of the present value of these articles in the gain upon the stock by the usual course of winter feeding, in the spring. The failure of the corn crop by reason of the early frost is estimated by the Commissioner of Agriculture from statistics received by him, at 140,000,000 bushels. This fact taken in connection with the partial failure of the hay crop in many of the States, and the immense demand for army purposes, renders it quite certain that prices will advance rather than recede, until another harvest. The practical question then that meets every stock feeder is: Will it pay to pursue the old system, and feed as many animals, and as well as formerly, or reduce the stock and dispose of the surplus food that will remain, at the present high prices? As regards the number to be kept, every one must be his own judge by careful estimate of the prospective value of his stock, with the present worth of his hay and grain. But whatever his decision may be in that particular, there should be no doubt or hesitancy as to a strict observance of the gold old rule, “Keep no more stock than you can keep well.” Better part with the stock now than to feed them grudgingly through the winter. For the ill effects of short rations during this period will be certain to manifest themselves in the reduced state of the stock when turned out to grass in the spring, and all that is fed out in that way may be considered as a positive loss. In stock feeding, the farmer’s profit lies not in such a bestowal of food as will simply keep the animal alive, but one that will supply all its wants, and keep up a constant development of muscle and fat, or increase the secretion of milk. ->

Any system of feeding that contemplates less than this, is unwise and unprofitable–and farmers will find to their great disappointment and cost, that the money realized by sale of hay and grain even at present advanced rates, is money lost in the end, if it tempts them to carry through the winter their usual stock, upon poor fodder and scant fare.


Corruption in High Places.—In an article upon the corrupt practices in vogue at Washington, suggested by the shameful developments in John P. Hale’s case, the N. Y. Journal of Commerce draws the following frightful yet truthful picture:

The period in which we just now live is one of unbounded fraud and corruption. There was never an administration in Washington under which fraud was carried on as openly and boldly as now. The millions that are the plunder of the present army of hangers-on will never be counted. There is no end to the terrible revelations. Nor does the trouble stop with the mere robbing of the public purse. The most atrocious crimes are perpetrated with the stolen money, and the people are growing used to the rascals. Legislators are bought and sold in Pennsylvania, New York and elsewhere. Elections are fraudulently carried. The machinery of political parties is turned everywhere to the private account of individual office seekers or money seekers. The taint is spreading through the entire body politic. Men look calmly now on crimes from which they would have shrunk two or three years ago. Men think on the whole that it is a good thing when the administration carry an election by shipping home a few thousand selected voters. Men chuckle over some political ruse in which a Legislature is bought for money. Men approve the action of the Treasury Department in giving a responsible office to a man whose vote, conscience and reputation, as every one knows, were sold by himself and bought by the party which protects him. No one seems to think that fraud, public robbery, is a very great crime. We meet daily in the streets, nightly at receptions and grand assemblies and grand assemblies, men who are known to be fattening on plunder, but whose social position seems wholly unaffected by the fact. We are not drawing any too dark a picture of the moral condition of affairs under the present administration. The doctrine is in principle everywhere acted on, that if a man professes to be right on the Negro question, he may be as black a sinner on all other questions as he pleases, and not lose the social and public support of either the leaders of his party or his daily associates in life.


A Sad Picture.—People who buy a great deal more than they sell or produce for others will run into embarrassment, sooner or later. So of a nation. We see by recent reports that our imports for seven weeks preceding the 19th of December were $14,000,000 in excess of exports; and to make the matter worse, our exports did not consist of cotton, tobacco or breadstuffs, but of gold–$10,000,000 of which was sent away in the time named–seven weeks.


From the Fifty-Fourth Regiment.

Morris Island, S. C., Dec. 28, 1863.

Morris Island. Once can but notice the very great change that has taken place in the general appearance of this Island since its occupation by the U. S. forces. Before its capture, but one building stood upon it, that being what is called “the Beacon House” on the beach, about one mile below Fort Strong (formerly Wagner). Now numerous large buildings are seen upon the lower end of Morris Island, convenient to the landings used by the Quartermaster’s Department–blacksmith’s shops, a boat yard, engineer depot, carpenter shops, &c., in which mechanics detailed from their regiment exercise their trades for the benefit of the Government. “The Light House” deserves mention, for without the bricks of which it was constructed, there would be but few of the numerous high chimneys, so noticeable in the rear of the greater portion of wall tents along the shore.

Oases in the Desert. Roaming among the camps, a stranger would be surprised to occasionally meet with little patches of green verdure in the vicinity of the offices’ quarters, so greatly in contrast with the sandy surroundings. They consist of small portions of ground raised, planted with oats, which in a few days germinate, and spring from the ground, presenting much the appearance of grass. Sometimes the “grassy bank” is enclosed in a little hedge of bushes, transplanted from some distant portion of the Island.

The Obstructions. You have heard of the huge timbers, some with railroad iron attached, which recently floated from Charleston harbor–great pine timbers–and, I assure you, they make excellent firewood, in spite of their connection with “Southern waters.” The logs were washed ashore by the tide, and eagerly seized upon by the soldiers, who find that article scarce, not a tree growing on the Island fit to burn.

“The Beacon House” was formerly used in times of peace as a Quarantine Building. Before we had advanced our parallels towards Wagner, the old House was the recipient of many a shot and shell from its former masters, the “Johnnies.” Now it is used as an observatory, in which a very powerful glass is mounted. The soldier in charge will willingly oblige you with a look into Charleston and vicinity. The city looks almost deserted. Large and small vessels are lying idle at the deserted wharves, where so many valuable cargoes have been landed after a successful run through the blockade. The rebels appear to be building fortifications immediately at the head of the wharves. Sullivan’s Island and its numerous batteries are brought plainly to view, with a glass, the rebel rag being conspicuous floating over Fort Moultrie and the works nearer the city.

At the front matters are usually quiet. Sometimes a little artillery practice is indulged in on both sides; occasionally we fire ten or a dozen shells in to the city, and wait to hear the result of their explosion by the Charleston papers of the succeeding day, which I hear are received by the General daily, a few hours after publication. The James Island and Secessionville batteries waste their powder and shot on our steamers which pass up the river from Stono and Pawnee Landing. ->

In the Regiment we have the pleasure of congratulating the recipients of new promotions. The duty we are engaged in calls for so many officers that every vacancy in the line should be filled at once. By this time you will have heard of the decision of our men in reference to eh pay the State offers. Bills before Congress indicate that the men will receive full pay shortly.

The weather, in spite of the lateness of the season, is quite mild, sometimes rather chilly for two or three days, then mild again.

Massachusetts, I see, is to raise a Colored Cavalry Regiment, to be commanded by Lieut. Col. Russell. Good for Massachusetts!


War Items and Incidents.

Of three hundred recruits from Springfield, on their way to Cairo on the night of the 6th, a large number were rendered insensible by drugged liquor prepared by three men who enlisted for the purpose of robbing them. They succeeded in taking away nearly $1000 in money, besides watches and other valuables. One recruit died from the effects of the poison.

The New Orleans Times publishes a letter written on board one of the blockading fleet off Mobile about the close of the year, which says that the rebel papers received in Pensacola are full of wailings over the ruined hopes and prospects of the Confederacy. Deserters from Florida and Alabama are continually coming to Pensacola, haggard, starved, dirty, surprised to see our soldiers drinking real coffee, and ready to enlist for a stomach-full of Uncle Sam’s rations. They say they have had enough of treason and rebellion. They had not a word of preference for “the last ditch.”


Gen. Grant.—The Washington correspondent of the Chicago Tribune does not believe that Gen. Grant has written a word about any attempted agitation in his favor for the Presidency. He adds:

“I saw to-day a letter from the general, written in the style of Roman simplicity, and exhibiting sound Saxon sense. His desire, he says, is to break the army of the rebels, and for this end to more fully secure the confidence of the men whom he commands. He says he has had as many honors and as much promotion as he could expect, or as his services deserve. There is not a line about the Presidency, or even the clamor wit which some journals use his name, in connection therewith.”

A friend of Gen. Grant informs us that when rallied recently about the persistent use of his name by the New York Herald for the Presidency, he said, “I aspire to only one political office. When this war is over I mean to run for Mayor of Galena (his place of residence). And if elected, I intend to have the side-walk fixed up between my house and the depot.”–Boston Journal.

15, 1864

From Charleston.

A correspondent of the Baltimore American writes as follows off Morris Island, December 29th:

During a recent visit to Port Royal I witnessed with considerable interest the operations of the divers employed to clean the bottoms of the monitors, and perform other operations under the water. Messrs. Joseph H. Smith and James B. Phelps have a contract with the government for the performance of this work, and have been of great use here. The principal diver–appropriately named Waters–is so used to this work that he has become almost amphibious, remaining for five or six hours at a time under water. A man of Herculean strength and proportions, when clad in his submarine armor, becomes monstrous in size and appearance.

A more singular sight than to see him roll or tumble into the water and disappear from sight, or popping up, blowing, as the air escapes from his helmet, like a young whale, can scarcely be imagined. Waters has his own ideas of a joke, and when he has a curious audience will wave his scraper about as “he bobs around” on the water, with the air of a veritable river god. One of his best jokes—the better for being a veritable fact—occurred last summer. While he was employed scraping the hull of one of the monitors, a Negro from one of the up-river plantations came alongside with a boat load of watermelons. While busy selling his melons the diver came up, and rested himself on the side of the boat.

The Negro stared at the extraordinary appearance thus suddenly coming out of the water, with alarmed wonder; but when the diver seized one of the best melons in the boat, and disappeared under the water, the gurgling of the air from his helmet mixing with the muffled laughter, the fright of the Negro reached a climax. Hastily seizing his oars, without waiting to be paid for his melons, he put off at his best speed, and has not been seen at Station Creek since. He cannot be tempted beyond the bounds of the plantation, and believes that the Yankees have brought river devils to aid them in making war.

The diver when clothed in his armor is weighted with 185 pounds. Beside his armor, he has two leaden pads, fitting to his breast and back. The soles of his shoes are of lead, an inch and a half thick. All this weight is needed to overcome the buoyancy given by the mass of air forced into the armor and dress, the latter of India rubber, worn by the diver. When below the surface he can instantly bring himself up by closing momentarily the aperture in the helmet for the escape of the air. His buoyancy is immediately increased, and he pops up like a cork and floats at will upon the surface. The work of scraping the bottoms of the monitors is very arduous.

The diver sits upon a spar, lashed athwart the bottom of the vessel, so arranged to be moved as the work progresses, and with a scraper fixed to a long handle, works on both sides of himself as far as he can reach. The mass of oysters that become attached to the iron hull of one of the monitors, even during one summer here, is immense. By actual measurement it was estimated that 250 bushels of oysters, shells and sea-weed were taken from the bottom of the Montauk alone. The captains of the monitors have sometimes indulged in the novelty of a mess of oysters raised on the hulls of their own vessels. ->

Besides cleaning the monitors, the divers perform other important services. They have ransacked the interior of the Keokuk, attached buoys to lost anchors, and made under-water examinations of the rebel obstructions. Waters recently examined the sunken Weehawken, and met an unusual danger for even his perilous calling. The sea was so violent that he was twice thrown from the deck of the monitor. Finally, getting hold of the iron ladder, he climbed to the top of the turret, when a heavy sea cast him inside the turret between the guns. Fearing that his air hose would become entangled, he made his way out with all possible speed, and was forced to give up his investigations until calmer weather offered a more favorable opportunity.


Decay of Rebel Resources.–A correspondent of the World writing from the army of the Cumberland, describing the defeat of the rebel cavalry under Wheeler, on the Hiawassee, by a party of Union men greatly inferior in number, says that while Wheeler could only bring 1500 men together for a work of the utmost importance to the Confederacy, viz., the severing of our communication between Chattanooga and Knoxville, the fact is worth noting that only a year ago Wheeler and Forrest and Morgan and Clarke and Scott could each head twice to four times that number, and march them simultaneously into all parts of Kentucky and Tennessee, and destroy government property without let or hindrance. But 1500 men can now be spared to a point sixty miles from the base of operations, when twelve months since, 15,000 could have been spared 300 miles away! And above all, how surprising that these late invincible cavaliers can now not only be defeated, but absolutely routed by less than their own number! 

The writer concludes that the Confederacy is wasting away in every particular that has heretofore constituted it strength, and the industrial energies of the slave States are far ahead on the road to decay. The attempts to supply Northern ingenuity in the South have utterly failed, for although they possess mountains of coal and iron, their railroad track has been worn to nothing, without being replenished; their rolling stock has been nearly exhausted, and none can be supplied from home industry; and with forests of choice timber, they have been unable to supply wagons for the use of their army.

While the product of Northern industry was available to them, and while it continued in good condition, the rebels succeeded in resisting the progress of our arms with success; but when thrown at last upon their own resources, as they are now, and have been for months, they give unmistakable evidences of speedily succumbing, however loud the bravado used by the leaders in public speeches, in leading articles in the various journals, or in official documents.–Boston Journal.

JANUARY 16, 1864


Important from the South.
What the Rebels Expect of France by April.
Removal of the Rebel Capital.

The Tribune publishes a Washington letter, from which we quote several interesting statements. The writer says that seven years ago he established himself as a telegraph operator at Columbia, S. C. Being conscripted, he was wounded at the battle of South Mountain. He was then detailed to act as clerk in the War Department. Here he remained till the 19th of November last, when he was sent as telegraph operator to Atlanta, Ga. He was afterwards ordered back to Richmond, but changed his pass so as to get to Gordonsville, and thence escaped into our lines.

Many Northern journalists and statesmen appear to think that the rebel leaders have ceased to expect a speedy recognition of the Confederacy by Foreign Powers. But I can assure you that their hopes in this respect have never flagged.

Just after the rebel rams in the Mersey were arrested, I heard Mr. Seddon, the Secretary of War, say to Wm. C. Rives, Member of Congress from the Seventh District of Virginia–“Let Great Britain be made to believe that we can gain our independence without her assistance, and understand that when we have succeeded in doing so, we are determined to punish her for her want of sympathy for us, and her partiality for our enemy, if she perseveres in her course and you may depend upon it we shall son find her the most zealous friend we have in Europe. It is for Congress to open her eyes.”

The rebel officials have an abiding faith in the manifestations of friendship and the constancy of Napoleon III.

About the middle of November, I was present at an interview between the rebel Secretary of War and Gov. Lubbock of Texas. The latter expressed himself quite despondingly at first, but left feeling much elated. Mr. Seddon assured him that “the policy and purpose of the Emperor was no longer a matter of speculation, but was well defined, and would soon take substantial grounds.”

“If by compulsion or compromise we were to return to the Union, what would become of the French army and Napoleon’s schemes in Mexico. He knows, as we know, that the Federal Government would crush them with little ceremony, and that the result in France would be very disparaging to the Emperor, if not to make his very throne totter under him. Therefore, the Emperor’s interest is identical with our own; but we must be patient and leave him to vindicate and enforce his policy in his own way. We know we can depend on him. Before the first of April his government will recognize our nationality.”

I have heard and seen more than enough to satisfy me that if their fond hopes were expelled, both the leaders and their starving followers would in despair lay down their arms.

The gunboats and iron clads in Richmond are all, with one exception, completed and ready for service; and although their number and dimensions are not sufficient to constitute a very formidable armada, they are capable of doing much mischief if not closely watched. On the 15th ultimo they were ordered to make a demonstration against the vessels in the lower part of James River and Hampton Roads, but after proceeding as far as a signal station about three miles below Drury’s Bluff, the order was countermanded. If the Union commanders in those waters do not exercise much vigilance and caution, some fine night the new Merrimac and others will come upon them as suddenly as a nightmare. ->

It has been decided to remove or change the rebel capital from Richmond to Columbia, S. C. I say decided; perhaps I should have said almost decided–the President and his Cabinet, including Mr. Seddon, who is a Virginian, and Gov. Letcher, Quartermaster General Myers, and many other prominent Virginians, being entirely in favor of it. So it may be said to be decided.

The persistent efforts, and repeated failures, of the Unionists to take Richmond induce the belief that next summer a sufficient force will be concentrated to capture the city, and they consider that the fall of the capital would have not only a damaging effect abroad, but would excite ruinous disappointment among their friends at home.

I base this assertion not only upon what I have heard from Mr. Seddon and other functionaries, but I know that preparations for the removal are already being made. The work on the edifice at Columbia has been resumed, with the assistance of mechanics from Europe; and a railroad is being constructed from Milledgeville, Ga., forming a junction with the rail line from Atlanta to Charleston, at the Warrenton Branch, about 50 miles from the former place, and separating again at Graniteville, S. C., running through Lexington direct to Columbia, comprising a distance of over 150 miles, by building less than 100 miles of new road.


The 54th and 55th Massachusetts regiments (colored) have declined to accept the additional pay which was voted by the Massachusetts Legislature, in order to put them on the same footing with white troops. These high spirited Negroes affirm that they have not sought equal pay for the sake of money. What they seek is recognition as soldiers of the United States, and they will neither accept the inferior wages at present offered them nor any addition from another source.


A letter from Memphis to the St. Louis Republican (which the editor says comes from a well informed source) states that a proposition, duly authorized from Richmond, has been made to the Union Government to sell to that Government all the cotton (about 15,000 bales) within a certain district outside of the Union lines, taking greenbacks in pay; also, that Kirby Smith has sent an authorized messenger to Washington to deliver up for greenbacks all the cotton in the Red River region now under rebel control, the money to be paid to officers excepted from the President’s amnesty, the said officers to leave the country. The Republican says that these propositions involve the disbandment of all the rebel forces west of the Mississippi, and the consequent speedy restoration of that region to loyalty.

1 Joseph Clisby is editor of The Macon Daily Telegraph.

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