MARCH 20, 1864

Richmond and Washington.

We published from a Southern paper, last Saturday, the statement that Mr. Frank Lanley, who has been for several months the Richmond correspondent of the London Times, ran the blockade of the Potomac and sailed from New York for Liverpool in the Scotia, Jan. 27. A letter of his, of the same date, written probably on board, gives an interesting view of the two cities–Washington and Richmond:1

So far as my experience goes, it would appear that there is more difficulty in passing from Washington to Richmond and Richmond to Washington than there is in proceeding from the latter place to Baltimore, or from Augusta to Charleston. Of course, I would not have your readers imagine that it is desirable for a stranger to follow the example of the able author of Guy Livingston, and to talk secession publicly for many weeks in Baltimore before he hazards the experiment of passing through the lines to Richmond. With such antecedents, he will probably insure failure when he makes his effort to cross the border; but, assuming that he possesses ordinary discretion and confidence, there is nothing to prevent a man crossing backwards and forwards when he pleases, except considerable exposure on the Potomac river, and possibly a long walk on either bank. There is, in fact, abundant reason to think that the seats of the two rival Governments of this continent habitually swarm with emissaries from the enemy. Such will probably always be the case when the belligerents speak the same language, and more so where their lines stretch over such an immense area. But it is felt in Richmond, and probably also in Washington, that the presence of spies of of wonderfully little importance.

There is a strange shadowy sense of unreality attached to passing sixteen months in and about Richmond, and then waking up to find oneself in Washington. To describe such a transition would demand not only unrivalled descriptive and antithetical excellence, but also some such quaintness of conceit as has exhibited Rip Van Winkle starting from his long slumber in Sleepy Hollow. In Richmond the spectator has months and months been familiar with war about his path and about his bed, and at all his meals and under every roof. War is breathed in at every breath, wafted upon every breeze, heard in every sound, visible at every step. For grace and elegance and lettered ease there is neither time nor superfluity of resource; nor, it must be added, are they compatible with the sublime earnestness of temper exhibited by man and woman. Sentries at the head of every street substantiate the passer’s identity and investigate his right to be absent from the army. As earliest dawn breaks, you are awakened by the long monotonous chorus of thousands of Negroes, engaged in completing the defensive works around Richmond, and going forth cheerfully to their labor, which has long ago assumed such proportions as to defy the assault of 200,000 men. This is no idle statement of my own, but taken from the lips of the oldest, ablest, and least boastful of Confederate officers, whose name will suggest itself to every reader. ->

Cannon are constantly seen in the streets–either new 12 pounder Napoleons going up to the army from the Tredegar Works, or guns which have undergone repair, or field-pieces which are going North or South; the well-known lean, lank, ragged, “gray-back” troops, with the same lordly, defiant air of individuality and self-assertion as ever, constantly troop through [the city, with] their old wild discordant yells making day or night hideous. The Southern tunes of “Dixie” or “The Mocking Bird,” execrably interpreted by a few fifes, a cornet, and a drum, contrast marvelously with the rich swell of fine German bands in Washington, which render to perfection the “Last Rose of Summer,” or one of Mendelsohn’s superb marches, crashing among the distant echoes of Pennsylvania Avenue. And yet there is a heart, a verve, and a sauciness about the Southern “Dixie,” and the mien of its interpreters, which are looked for in vain among the stolid German musicians of Washington and the gaudy troops bedizened with gold lace who follow them.

But other symptoms of war, with the exception of the uniforms in the streets, Washington has none to show. The redundancy of “greenbacks”–those evidences, according to Mr. Seward, of a mighty nation’s exuberant prosperity–is very perceptible in the increased crowd in the streets and the hungry look of greed which every face wears. But perhaps there is no sadder sign of the times which have brought sudden wealth to all, and moral thoughtfulness to none, than the ubiquity and boldness of the frail sisterhood who throng every avenue and public resort, seeking the smiles of the contractors, speculators and nouveaux riches, and blending in a scene which could alone be photographed in language by the pen of a Juvenal. On every side money flows as though the Potomac were the Pactolus.2 The dome of the Capitol, which once promised to share the fate without rivalling the beauty of Cologne Cathedral, is finished, and surmounted by a Goddess of such Liberty as even Madame Roland never conceived. The hotels are thronged to bursting; Willard’s, in particular, is occupied by an excited, pike-eyed, seething crowd, such as vibrates in the coulisses of the Parisian Bourse.3 At night, theatres, gambling-houses, “Varieties,” and worse dens of infamy, veiled under no pretense at disguise, vie with the attractions of the “inspired Maid of Philadelphia,” Miss Anna Dickinson. Mr. Seward’s optimism is accepted without thought or comment; no sound of war, save the occasional boom of cannon being tried at the navy yard, ever enters he senses. Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Chase openly, and Mr. Seward secretly, are speculating much more as to their chances for the next Presidency than as to the strength of Gen. Lee or the designs of President Davis.

MARCH 21, 1864

Although not flattering to our Confederate self-love, it is nevertheless highly interesting and instructive, to perceive in the European journals lately come to hand, how very minute a part our struggle for life and honor has in the eyes of statesmen of the “Great Powers.” It was at one time believed that a war between the States of North America would so convulse the politics and dislocate the trade of mankind, that human nature could not long endure the continuance of so fatal a strife. That mistake has been long since corrected, yet even now many of us are apt to think that war so gigantic and battles so sanguinary between two civilized nations, involving, too, an interruption of the supply of one of the world’s great staples of commerce, must surely pre-occupy the minds of the chief commercial and manufacturing countries of the earth.

We find no evidence of any such anxiety; indeed, little or no care of any kind about us and our affairs. The French newspapers are occupying themselves almost exclusively with, first, the insurrection of Poland, and second, the war in Denmark. Another matter is also occasionally discussed in their leading articles, but with much less heat and anxiety–that is, the prospects of the new Mexican Empire. The reason of this difference is that the questions of Poland and of Denmark affect those treaties which form the public law of Europe, and especially the treaties of Vienna in 1815. Mexico and the whole Western world lie quite outside of that; and although France is now actually engaged in great military and naval operations for the overthrow of the old anarchy of Mexico and establishment of a stable Government there. While she has not gone beyond diplomatic notes on the other two questions, yet the country seems to have scarcely the time or inclination to attend to Mexico at all, in the presence of European complications so much more important in the eyes of its people. On the Polish question in particular there are two eager and excited parties which divide the French public. The Republican organs, le Temps, le Siécle, l’Opinion, have steadily urged the Government the policy, expediency, necessity of recognizing the Poles as a belligerent Power, and thereupon going to war with Russia; a war in which France would certainly be isolated, because the new Polish Government is already revolutionary, and tending fast to become republican; and neither Austria [nor] England (the other two Governments which have joined France in remonstrating with the Czar,) would have any idea of giving such encouragement to the Revolution in Europe. On the other hand, the official and semi-official journals of the French government zealously combat this warlike enthusiasm, and maintain that France should not involve herself in a war for Poland without the co-operation of Europe. They point out with satisfaction, that France has already achieved a great diplomatic victory in the fact that the English government has formally announced the abolition and annulment of the Vienna treaties in so far as regards Poland. Those treaties were all against France, were conceived and concluded with a view of confining and curtailing and humiliating France. Those treaties have been already violated in many parts of Europe, violated by the separation of Holland and Belgium; violated by the destruction of the republic of Cracow, by the destruction of the kingdom of Naples, and by the absorption of Nice and Savoy into the French Empire; violated above all by the existence of a Napoleon on the throne of France, which Europe solemnly bound herself at Vienna never to recognize for all time, but which she has recognized long ago. ->

England was a principal party to these treaties; yet here now comes forward England herself to declare, by the mouth of her foreign minister, that another solemn settlement, made by the Vienna treaties, is annulled forever. “And is it nothing,” demands La France, “is it nothing, this grand diplomatic victory, whereby without shedding one drop of French blood, we have seen England overturning with her own hands another whole mass of the ruined walls of the Congress of Vienna? Is it nothing to hear it proclaimed by an English minister that the bond of the treaties of 1815 is broken between Poland and Russia, and that thus Poland has the right to defend her national independence against the brute force of conquest?” . . .

In these European complications, and the perils of war which they involve, there is a far deeper and more urgent interest both for England and France than in anything which can possibly take place on this whole continent. Even in the speculations of these French newspapers about the future of Mexico and its new Empire we find much anxiety about the course which will be taken by England, by Austria and by Spain in supporting the Mexican Emperor, but not one allusion to any help, or any hindrance, that may be expected on the part of these Confederate States. They do not even hint at the expediency of a recognition of the Confederation by Mexico, not to speak of the French Empire; and La France, a semi-official journal quite friendly to us–whenever it speaks of us at all–gives, as a passing item of news, the statement of the Courrier des Etas Unis, “that there is not the slightest truth in the report of an approaching recognition of ‘the South’ by France; and that the Emperor Napoleon has not even perceived the urgency of a recognition of ‘the South’ by Mexico, notwithstanding the near neighborhood of Texas.”

We find, on the whole, in these French papers, nearly as much space devoted to intelligence about the insurrection against Spain in St. Domingo, as about the affairs of the Confederacy altogether; nevertheless, one newspaper has room enough for the announcement that Monsieur Stevens, Vice-President of the Confederate States, has arrived in Europe; and another mentions, amongst its trans-Atlantic intelligence, that General Rosecranz blames a Monsieur Cook for his defeat at a place called “Rossville.”

This extreme indifference to our affairs is to be explained not only by our States being outside of the European system, and unaffected by European treaties, but also by the other fact that both France and England are extremely flourishing and thriving in their commerce and finances; and indeed the most significant proof that our war is not utterly beggaring the rest of mankind is contained in the following piece of statistics, which we find in the very latest papers–

“Official returns of the exports from Great Britain in 1863 show a total of £146,489,768, against £123,992,264 in the year 1862.”


Complaints from Mobile.—A late number of the Mobile Register complains bitterly because the women, children and Negroes have been compelled to leave that city on account of the bombardment, and also because the people of Montgomery, where the Mobile sufferers are going, have recently raised the price of board so high that it will be utterly impossible for many of the Mobile families to live there. It says that “the doors of Mobile have ever been open to the suffering, and the hospitality of the city has been proverbial, and we can but hope that no people will be so shameless as to attempt to take advantage of the necessities of a people who are sacrificing everything to protect not only themselves but the very people among whom they are helplessly thrown, and who are thus perching themselves like birds of prey to feats on the tears of the helpless and hold a banquet over the ruins of the commercial metropolis of Alabama.”

By the following paragraphs from the same paper, we should judge that Mobile, at the present time, is not a very desirable place for a residence:

“During the week we have to record several fires and destruction of much valuable property. All the fires are attributed either to accident or negligence.

“We regret to say there is a prevalence of crime in the city that it seems difficult to abate. The offences are generally of a grave nature, and the most merciful course towards offenders and the public would be an increase of the population of Wetumpka and Mobile.”


A Woman on Trial for Treason.—The trial of Mrs. Patterson Allan for treasonable correspondence with Rev. Morgan Dix, has been resumed at Richmond, Va. Her husband was the son of a gentleman who adopted Edgar A. Poe, but subsequently disinherited him because he insulted his adopted father’s young wife. Mrs. Allan, the person now on trial, is the daughter of an Ohio gentleman, and it is said that her marriage with Allan was brought about by her maneuvering mamma while all the parties were travelling in Europe. A Richmond correspondent thus speaks of it:

“Gossips say the match proved by no means a happy one, for it produced an estrangement of the husband from his father’s family, and developed in the wife a temper so ferocious that her unfortunate lord has, from the day of his nuptials, had a complete planetary system of boot-jacks, brooms, dust-pans, carving-knives, coffee-pots and cut-glass tumblers revolving around his innocent head. But this toothsome tale of the gossips by no means comports with the devoted attention paid Mrs. Allan by her husband from the beginning of her trial to the present hour. Judging from the evidence given in the papers of this morning, I should say that the net was fast closing round the wretched woman, whose guilt, if proven, will be the blackest and basest on record, deserving the most condign punishment. But no one expects a severer sentence than banishment from the Confederacy, which will be anything but punishment to her.”


A Slanderous Correspondent.—The Tribune’s Washington correspondent, who is doubtless an “old bach,” sends the following dispatch to that paper in regard to the ladies just ordered outside of the lines of the Potomac Army:

“The mischievous influence of balls in the Army of the Potomac was illustrated to-day on the return of the women recently passed to the front, loaded with knowledge confidentially communicated by officers in the dance, of contemplated movements, operations accomplished; of defenses, obstructions–everything. All is said to have been let out, and, of course, is already in Secesh keeping for transmission to Richmond.”

The Plot to Kidnap President Lincoln.—Our telegraph column on Saturday gave a brief account of a plan to assassinate or kidnap President Lincoln, which was concocted by Col. Margrave and submitted to the rebel authorities in Richmond. The details of this plot were furnished to the New York Tribune by its Washington correspondent, who escaped a few months since from Richmond, where he had been constrained to occupy an official position in the rebel war office.

In addition to that received by telegraph, we find in the letter of this correspondent the following details of another plot, having the same object in view:

“But this is not the only scheme by any means that has been devised for kidnapping our President. Last summer a club or society of wealthy citizens of Richmond was formed for the purpose of raising a fund for this object. Circulars were sent to trustworthy citizens in every other city and town in the confederacy, inviting co-operation in the grand undertaking, and an immense sum of money was subscribed. The firm of Maury & co., bankers, in Richmond, subscribed $10,000, and Sumner & Arents, auctioneers, subscribed $5,000, and I have heard on good authority that there were several in the capital who subscribed even more liberally than the parties named, but who they were I did not learn. One man of Charleston, S. C., whose name I have forgotten, subscribed $20,000. It was proposed, when all was ready, to obtain a furlough for Mosby, and make him leader of the enterprise.

“Whether these schemes have been abandoned, or whether the kidnappers are only awaiting a favorable opportunity to execute them, remains to be seen; but certain it is that too much caution cannot be observed by the President or the military commanders stationed at the Capital.”

Col. Margrave, who originated these plans, is thus described:

“ ‘Margrave,’ I have heard stated on good authority, is merely a nom de guerre, assumed by him on joining Walker’s Expedition to Central America,4 and revived by him at the commencement of the present war. He is a native of South Carolina, and according to the same authority his real name is Rhett. He was at one time a member of Beauregard’s staff, and at the battle of Shiloh was shot through the body and carried off the field for dead. Unfortunately life was not extinct, and he is again working to destroy his country. He is one of the most cool and reckless villains in the confederacy–one who can smile, and murder while he smiles. For a villainous and desperate enterprise, no better leader could be found. He is now in the Canadas, and I verily believe for the purpose of heading a gang of desperadoes to commit some depredation on our frontier. He has numerous friends in Baltimore, and I heard him boast that he had put up at the best public hotels, and walked the public streets of that city without the slightest fear of detection.”

MARCH 23, 1864


Tennessee Election.

Elections have recently been held in several Southern States, the voters having first subscribed to stringent oaths to support the government of the United States. Union and anti-slavery clubs which have sprung up in many of the cities liberated from rebel rule afforded powerful centers for organized efforts. A thorough loyal government is re-established in Louisiana. Tennessee is following firmly in the same direction. At the late election a heavy vote was polled, the people declaring emphatically not only for the Union but for freedom. Many Tennesseeans now residing within the limits of the State sympathize with the rebels, but they are excluded from participation in the rights of the elected franchise through the conditions and tests imposed by the government. In Nashville the successful candidates are men of worth, position and influence. All the Unionists of the city and State are very bitter toward the rebels, though most of them have friends and relatives in the Confederate army. The motto adopted at a late Union meeting in Nashville was “Emancipation, confiscation and extermination.” Such were the words heartily subscribed to by Southerners and slaveholders. Having suffered terribly from the rebellion, they are determined to crush it completely and eradicate its causes.


The Freed Negroes of Louisiana.—As one of the remarkable changes under the new rules, nineteen hundred colored children are reading and writing in the day schools which they attend. 

One year ago, says the New York Times’ correspondent, Colonel Hanks was feeding from the Government Commissariat more than twenty thousand Negroes. Besides this number, there were quite fifteen thousand who hung around the camps and elsewhere, obtaining their living partly by cooking, washing, fishing and stealing; yet these were, to a large extent, an incubus upon the Government.

Now all the Negroes have been placed in a condition of profit to the Government and to themselves. Not only does the labor system furnish employment to those within the limits of this department, but had we ten thousand more they could all be employed without expense, but rather with great benefit to the Government.

The benefits that will return to the Government this year, resulting from the operations of this system of labor, will more than pay all the expense that the refugee Negroes have to it since the occupation of the State by our forces.


How Much the Right of Secession Amounts to.—Gov. Vance of  North Carolina, in his late speech to induce his people to submit quietly to the Davis government, told them how much the right of secession now means at the South, and what would happen if they tried to exercise it:

“I can assure my, my fellow citizens, that secession from the confederacy will involve you in a new war, a bloodier conflict than that you now deplore. ‘But,’ you may say, ‘Mr. Davis and his government will not dare to make war on a seceding state, because the right of secession is recognized in the constitution of the confederacy.’ So it is, my friends; but you see by that time you have thrown off the constitution, you have gotten from under its obligations and sworn you would have nothing to do with it. Do you expect the confederacy to be bound by a document you refuse to recognize as affecting yourselves? So soon as you announce to the world you are a sovereign and independent nation, as a matter of course the confederacy has the right of declaring war against you for a sufficient cause, equally with the right she holds of declaring war against England, France or Holland. This right is inherent in all sovereignties.”

Our Foreign Trade.

The present aspect of our foreign trade betrays a degree of financial recklessness sufficiently grave to excite serious apprehensions.  The ratio maintained between exports and imports has always been regarded as a tolerably correct index of pecuniary healthfulness.  While extraneous causes sometimes intervene to impair the value of the criterion, it will generally be found accurate in the case of a people whose industry is as extended and varied as ours.  Viewed in this light, the nation is contracting obligations abroad which will mature when it may be very inconvenient to meet them.

In the month of February the imports at New York were $21,644,937, against $12,027,846 for the corresponding month of 1863, and against $19,356,375 for February, 1860, the last year before the import trade for the whole country was interrupted by the war.  Once only have the importations in February reached the limits of the present year, and that was in 1857 when in the feverish excitement preceding the financial crash of the subsequent fall, they exceeded twenty-five millions.  Another consideration still further aggravates the burthens imposed by our excessive imports this year, the goods being taken at their foreign valuation, and therefore subject to no deductions on account of the depreciation of currency.

Moreover the withdrawals from warehouse are more than double the withdrawals of last year, and are considerably in excess of fresh entries.  After making suitable allowances for all causes operating upon trade if, it is found that the amount of merchandise absorbed by the country through New York during the past two months, exceeds by over fifteen millions if, at gold valuation, the amount thrown upon the market for the corresponding period of 1863.

On the other hand our exports have diminished.  Of our domestic produce the value of the exports from July 1st to March 1st, is $115,396,413 against $128,566,178 for the same period last year, and $101,981,762 dollars of the year before.  Here as in the other case, allowances must be made for the change in prices caused by monetary inflation.

Government can do something toward meeting the difficulty, but individuals can accomplish much more.  With a great war on our hands, entailing enormous cost, the nation that should conscientiously strive, so far as possible, to live within its own resources.  Many, however, ignoring considerations of public good, are disposed to run into profuse extravagance in their expenditures.  The reaction, when it comes, will effect the people collectively, and for that reason all have a right to protest against the recklessness which utterly disregards the future for the sake of temporary show and gratification.


The rebels are fully posted as to what changes are contemplated in the Army of the Potomac, and General Meade is anxious to know in what manner they obtain information concerning prospective military events in advance of that received at headquarters.


The Wilmington (N. C.) Journal asserts that during the past year only one blockade-runner out of twenty destined for that port, has been captured.  In the rough weather the federal cruisers are obliged to put to sea.  At such times and on dark nights, experienced pilots, aided by a well disguised system of signal lights, seldom failed to carry in steamers successfully.  Large amounts of supplies are received into the confederacy through this channel.


News Items.

It is proposed, by a bill now pending in the Pennsylvania legislature, to send the oil from the oil region of that State to market through pipes. The company to be formed for this purpose take the title of “The Subterranean Transportation Company,” and the proposed capital is one million dollars. Barrels are nowhere in this plan.

A late dispatch from St. Joseph says that place is alive with emigrants who are westward bound. The hotels are crowded, it being rather early for camping out. Idaho, California, Nevada and Colorado seem to be the principal points of attraction.

The coroner’s jury in the case of the persons killed by the explosion at Lee & Co.’s factory in Springfield, say that the premises occupied by the firm were entirely inadequate to their extended business; consequently the different and hazardous branches of their business were brought into too close contact, thereby greatly increasing the exposure to accident. A too large quantity of unfinished cartridges was left in the loading room, and the practice of keeping cases or cans of powder on the stairs near the main entrance was hazardous and highly censurable.

Notwithstanding that mechanical labor in Washington city commands from three to four dollars per day, the city is overrun by a set of stout armed and sturdy aspirants for place, who will take a low grade clerkship worth $600 per annum, or even a watchman’s situation, rather than earn more money by honest toil. The Government should make it a necessary recommendation to appointments to civil office, that the applicant should serve at least three years in the army.


Maximillian and his Secesh Nobles.–It is positively asserted as a fact that a number of prominent rebels and secesh sympathizers are prepared to accept titles of nobility from Maximillian I of Mexico, and that one–ex-Senator Gwin–as already been created a duke. And now, we suppose, we shall have a long and brilliant array of notables selected for the Mexican market from the cream of rebel society, and bearing all sorts of titles. Look out for his Royal Highness Jefferson Davis, Prince of Rebels, and heir to the realms of the late King Cotton; for the ex-Senator James M. Mason as the Duke de Rinaldo, Count Palatinate of Cape Code and Grand Master in keeping at Fort Warren, transferred to the Castle of Calomel and Xalapa, Mexico; for ex-Senator Slidell, Lord of the Charleston Convention and Grand Freetotum to the late High-cock-a-lorum of the White House; for Viscount Memminger, Grand Chancellor of the Exchequer of Plandowt, who, having no sovereigns of his own and none for his master, is well prepared to support the title of Grand Repudiator of Two Dynasties; for ex-Senator Robert Toombs, Marquiz de Boomeranz, commander of the wine vats of the empire, and Master of the Roll Calls on Bunker Hill, &c., &c. The Court of Maximilian I will early rival that of his Imperial Majesty Soulouque of Hayti for magnificence and rags.–N. Y. Herald.


The magnitude of one social evil that afflicts Washington in these times is indicated in part by the fact that the new Court here has, in the past few months, imposed an aggregate of about $10,000 in fines upon keepers of houses of ill-repute, and near about the whole of it has been duly paid.

St. Patrick’s Day in the Army of the Potomac.–A correspondent of the N. Y. Herald with the Army of the Potomac gives the following lively description of the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in camp:

This morning any number of soldiers could be seen with their best “togs” and a sprig of shamrock gaily stuck in their caps. Their first visit was to their commanding officer, to know “would his honor be plazed to go wid us to the commissary and get us a wee drap of the craythur for the celebration of St. Patrick’s day?” Of course he could not refuse so reasonable a request, and with canteen filled and a trifle in the pocket to pay for a small lunch at the sutler’s, the day was soon commenced.

The Irish Brigade, of the second corps, had some very amusing games and hurdle races in the vicinity of Stevensburg.  Brigadier General Owens presided at a large stand, which was crowded with officers and ladies. The hurdle course was about half a mile in distance, properly laid out and interspersed with ditches and brush fences. One or more of the riders were thrown, but, as a general thing, the riding was good, and the animals cleared the obstacles in fine style. Much fun was created by eccentric individuals, mounted on the sorriest possible looking mules, taking the course and walking through the ditches and climbing over the fences, thus burlesquing the real performances.

After the races came the climbing of a greased pole and chasing a greased pig, and then there was a foot race. All went off with great spirit, and Gen. Owens closed the day’s sport with a humorous but patriotic speech.

Near the hurdle course upon the regular race track there were several horse races, distance eighty rods. Upon these considerable money changed hands. There is considerable rivalry between the cavalry and infantry as to the speed of their respective horses. To-day the infantry triumphed. There was some very good running stock produced. These contests on the turf have a tendency to improve the stock of private horses in the army, and for this reason they are encouraged while the troops are in winter quarters.


Coal should be cheaper very soon, for the speculators cannot decently keep up extravagant prices in the face of this schedule of contract ratios just issued by the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company, viz: Furnace lump, $7; steamer lump, $7; grate, $7.10; egg, $7.25; stove, $7.50; chestnut, $6.50.


A Patriotic Gift.–At the Presidential reception on Saturday, Major French presented to the President a pair of woollen socks, knit expressly for the President by Miss Addie Brockway of Newburyport, Mass. On the bottom of each was knit the secession flag, and near the top the glorious stars and stripes of our Union, so that when worn by the President, he will always have the flag of the rebellion under his feet. These socks were sent by the maker to Mrs. Wm. Todd, of this city, and at her request Major French presented them with a few appropriate remarks. They were most pleasantly and graciously received by the President.–Washington Republican.

25, 1864

The Situation of Mexico.5
Speech of Señor Romero.

Gentlemen:  The internal condition of Mexico is scarcely understood or appreciated in this country or in Europe.

The general impression seems to be, that we are an uncivilized, heterogeneous people, constantly divided by petty personal feuds and ambitions; always engaged in making pronunciamientos; entirely wanting of patriotism and high-toned sentiments; altogether unfitted for self-government; utterly incapable of developing our great natural resources; and therefore unworthy of the sympathy or respect of mankind.

Never was an opinion more unjust; never a judgment more unfounded.

It is well known that when Mexico was a colony of Spain, it was the policy of the Spanish government to rule the country by means of the catholic clergy.

With this object in view, the clergy were clothed with every kind of personal privilege, and were allowed to monopolize a very large portion of the real estate and other property of the country.  They were also the only educated class, and all instruction of the masses was left entirely in their hands.  By these means they obtained a profound influence over the consciences of the ignorant people, and they constituted an aristocracy more powerful and more firmly rooted than any other in the world.

When, in 1810, the early Mexican patriots proclaimed the independence of their country from the Spanish yoke, the clergy were alarmed by a movement that had not been made by themselves, and which, if it should terminate in the overthrow of the Spanish government and the establishment of a National government, might place in peril their numerous privileges, they are immense riches and their controlling the influences.  They thereforward determined to oppose the movement.

It is unnecessary to say that so long as the Mexican clergy threw the immense weight of their influence on the side of the Spanish government, the Spaniards were everywhere a triumphant.

But while the struggle was going on in Mexico a great change took place in Spain.  The Spanish Cortes, animated by liberal ideas, had issued various decrees, seriously diminishing the personal privileges of the clergy, and had passed laws providing for the disamortization of their immense property for the benefit of the nation at large.  The Mexican clergy then began to change their ground.  They saw at once how much they would have to lose if the laws passed by the Spanish Cortes should be carried into effect in Mexico; and believing at the same time that they could organize a government that would be fully under their own control, they determined to adopt the cause of independence, and with their aid the independence of Mexico was then achieved.

Since that time a fearful struggle has been going on between the clergy on the one side, who have sought to control the National government, and, on the other, the few enlightened patriotic men who, seeing that there was no hope that Mexico could become what nature designed her to be unless liberal principles should be adopted, and an entire separation be effected from church influence and control–began the two labor for the establishment of a liberal, popular government which should keep down the ambition and usurpations of the clergy always, directed to the promotion of their own interests, without any regard for the welfare of the country.

The result of such a struggle in its earlier efforts could not be doubtful, taking into consideration the power, the influence and the resources of each party respectively.

Whenever the Liberty party succeeded in establishing, through the ballot box, a legal government–a government which would not favor the interests of the clergy when these were opposed to the interests of the country–a government in favor of promoting foreign immigration, of opening roads, constructing railroads, authorizing the free and public exercise of all religions, the freedom of the press, of reducing import duties, favoring all branches of commerce–in a word, of developing all the natural wealth and vast resources of Mexico–the clergy immediately instigated a pronunciamiento against the government, and brought to bear every influence to secure its overthrow.

Such a state of affairs, however, could not last forever.  While the struggle was going on the people began to grow enlightened.  Everybody saw that the money of the clergy was constantly used to foment revolutions, to subvert the public peace, and to shed the blood of the innocent people for the iniquitous purpose of maintaining interests and preserving privileges entirely incompatible with the well being of the country.

Thus, the liberty party, which, at the beginning, was small in numbers in a weak in power, became stronger every day, until, finally, in the year 1860, it had become strong enough to crush entirely the church party, and to re-establish, it was hoped forever, constitutional law and constitutional government, throughout the whole extent of Mexican territory.  This was done without foreign aid, and even against the sympathies and encouragement of European powers, who had ever lent all possible aid to the church party.  At the same time all the special privileges of the clergy were repealed, and the church property was declared to be national, and was sold to the people at a low nominal price.

This latter major had a double object.  While the Mexican Government proposed to disarm the clergy, by taking from them the principle weapon they had used in their efforts to excite pronunciamientos and disturb the public peace, it desired to render useful to the country the immense wealth which had been accumulated by the church, and which, being withdrawn from free circulation, and monopolized by a class indisposed or incapable of making it a productive, had only been a source of evil, and a perpetual barrier to the prosperity of the nation.  Thus, when it was generally believed abroad that we were at war without a possible motive, only to promote petty personal ambitions, we were really working out one of the most thorough of revolutions, and one of the most necessary for the true prosperity of the people of Mexico.

It should be well understood that we have never raised any issue with the church party of Mexico on spiritual questions. Our disagreement has been wholly with regard to temporal affairs, and has not, in any manner, involved the dogmas of the Catholic faith.

The church party has wished, as an association, to rule the country for their own advantage. We have sought to establish a perfect independence between church and state, to confine the church to spiritual affairs, and to make it subordinate to the state in temporal matters.

Thus, when we had reason to believe that our long civil wars had ended–for we had removed, even to the roots, the sole cause of all our past misfortunes–and that we were now about to enjoy the blessings of peace–the only thing needed by Mexico to become a prosperous nation–new misfortunes of a different kind have suddenly fallen upon us.

The church party of Mexico, seeing that with their own means it was impossible to make any further resistance or to foment any further revolutions, and having in view, as they have had, only their own advantage, regardless of the welfare of the country–resolved to send emissaries to Europe, for the purpose of interesting in their favor some of the principal European Governments, in order to be by them restored to power in Mexico.

These emissaries represented that the church party were in favor of a conservative government–a monarchical government–modelled after the European system; while the Liberty party were in favor of democratic institutions, and sympathized fully with the views and principles of the United States.

On this point the emissaries were right. The Liberals of Mexico do believe that if they can succeed in developing there, the great principles which have made the United States so great and prosperous, Mexico will reach the same end by using the same means.

These emissaries, however, exaggerated the influence of the church party in Mexico. They said the Liberal Government of the country was tyrannical, oppressive and unpopular, and governed only by force; and they even affirmed that the mere moral influence over Europe would be sufficient to overthrow it, and to restore the church party to power.

They further promised, that after overthrowing the Liberal Government, the church party would establish itself a government, which should be entirely under the influence of the European nations which should aid them in their purpose.

These false representations of the emissaries led to the allied expedition of France, England and Spain, which, assuming pretexts utterly insufficient and unjust, disembarked at Vera Cruz in December, 1861.

When the English and Spanish generals and commissioners, after having resided some time in Mexico, saw that the state of things in that country was entirely different from what the church party emissaries had represented to their respective governments, they decided without hesitation to withdraw with their forces from the country; and so clear to them was the deception practiced upon their Governments, that they took the delicate step of withdrawing from the alliance of their own accord, without consulting with their superiors, and without waiting for instructions from their governments, although acting in an affair so full of difficulties and of ulterior complications.

We have thus reached the actual situation in Mexico; and under this head it will be necessary to say a few words more.

The French army did not retire from Mexico with the armies of England and Spain, for the French Government had other objects in view, and it was fully determined to accomplish them. The Emperor of the French believed at that time, and perhaps he still believes, that the United States were permanently divided, and that circumstances might take such a shape as to afford him the opportunity of acquiring Texas, or recovering Louisiana, and of possessing the mouth of the Mississippi.

To accomplish this end, it was necessary to obtain a foothold on this continent, at a point as near the United States as possible, and particularly to Louisiana and Texas–a point of departure where he could collect securely and conveniently a large army and a large naval force, and form a base of supplies.

The Emperor of the French, therefore, directed himself, not so much against Mexico as against the United States. How far he succeeded in his plans is now a matter which belongs to history. It is sufficient to say, that by means of his Mexican expedition he has been able to collect on the American continent, almost on the southern frontier of the United States, a large French army, and has sent to the Gulf of Mexico a very considerable French squadron, much larger than could have been necessary for any purpose connected with Mexico–a country that has no navy.

What the end of these complications will be, it is difficult to foretell. So far as relates to the occupation of Mexico, it is perfectly certain that the Emperor of the French will soon be undeceived, and will learn that he has undertaken more than he can accomplish, and that when he sees the complete failure of the farce which his agents are now playing in the City of Mexico, he will find himself compelled to retire from a country which he has so unjustly invaded. With regard to ourselves, therefore, there can be but one result, which will be verified sooner or later. It will inevitably be the triumph of the holy cause of Mexican independence.

MARCH 26, 1864


A Bold and Successful Enterprise.–The Providence Journal publishes the following account of a daring deed recently performed by Lieut. Cushing, commanding the gunboat Monticello, off Wilmington, of which a brief announcement was made a few days since. The account is given by an officer of the blockading fleet, and is corroborated by the Southern papers. Lieut. Cushing has distinguished himself on several occasions, and received the command of the Monticello for his services in the Nansemond river. The writer says:

“He has just performed a feat of daring hardly equalled since the war began and very much resembling the Barton and Prescott in our Bay. He pulled into the river with two boats, passed Fort Caswell, and went up the river above Smithville, which town is some four or five miles above the fort. He then turned round and came down to the town from above, as if from Wilmington. He passed within ten yards of a sentry on post on a wharf, but the soldier was asleep or drowsy. He then effected a landing near some salt works. Cushing crept up on his hands and knees to the fire and captured two Negroes, who agreed to act as guides. He then landed again at the town, and with a seaman, an officer and his guides, went directly to the General’s house. On the opposite side of the street were barracks, containing a thousand men. He opened the door, passed up the stairs, and found that the General was not at home. The officer below then told him to come down, as a row was going on. He hastened down and found that an officer had left the house in his shirt, and taken to the woods in the rear of the town.

“Another officer stood with a chair in the corner of the room. Cushing closed with him, threw him down and put a revolver to his head; the fellow became tranquil. Cushing then struck a light and told the officer to dress. He did so, and they took him to the boat and escaped clear. Now, the point where, to my mind, nerve of the tip-topmost order was displayed, was in letting the officer dress, and waiting for him to do so, when they were perfectly aware that another (the Adjutant General) had escaped, and might at any moment bring an army boat about their ears. Luckily, he had fled into the woods, without speaking to a soul, thinking that the Yankees were in possession. The General made it a habit to sleep in that house every Monday night, but this night was detained at Wilmington. We learned this from the blockade runner Mary Anna. The people of Wilmington are greatly ashamed of the occurrence, and a repetition would be dangerous. Cushing afterward learned that about the time the rebels got fairly on the alert, and had telegraphed to the forts, he was passing them in darkness.

“The officer captured was Capt. Kelly, Chief Engineer of the military works about Wilmington.”


How to Gain Unanimity in Juries.–Let the jury consist exclusively of ladies. As it is proverbial that women never do disagree, there would not be the slightest difficulty in securing always a unanimous verdict. The whole twelve would vote as one woman–more especially, if one of their own sex was being tried. Besides, the mere prospective honor of a dozen women being all locked up together, without a cup of tea or a stocking to mend, or a baby to play with, or a novel to thumb, would force them to agree long before they had looked at the prisoner, even to see whether he was good looking or not.

“Shoddy” and “Mungo.”–Some curious facts have been presented to our government, showing the large proportion of these second hand wools which have been used in the manufacture of the imported goods and blankets used for the army. Shoddy is produced by tearing up into their original fibres, by cylindrical machine armed with barbed teeth, and revolving rapidly, cast off flannels, stockings and coarse garments of wool, while the same production of the material of broadcloth is called mungo. Both shoddy and mungo give substance and warmth, but, as the fibre is short and broken, goods made from them have no tenacity or durability when harshly used. For a long time the shoddy and mungo trade, which originated in Yorkshire, England, was regarded with disapprobation as a dishonest adulteration, but the great profits derived from it have gradually overcome all scruples, and it can be demonstrated that a large proportion of the imported woollen goods used by the army have contained one-quarter or, at the most, one-third of pure wool, the remainder being shoddy or mungo. Our American manufacturers have profited by the example set, and Massachusetts manufacturers “reconstruct sheep’s wool again and again–prolonging its existence under different forms to the latest date.


Warning against Extravagance.–It is the plain and manifest duty at this time of every man and woman to bring down their expenditures. It is an obligation we owe to the country not to buy foreign silks and satins, and jewelry and wines, or costly furniture from abroad. Every person should feel that for himself he is bound to save all that is possible. Old clothes should be worn, old furniture used, luxuries dispensed with, to meet this terrible crisis. We have no right to buy useless indulgences while we are laying up a great debt for the future. It is not honorable; it is not patriotic, nor even prudent. No people can be spending a thousand millions on a gigantic war, and at the same time be holding a carnival of extravagance and gluttony. Somebody must pay for it all. Our apparent superfluity of money should either be invested in permanent investments, or should go to cure the sad ills of war. Our great success, financially, in the beginning of the struggle, resulted from the universal economy of the people. We saved enough then to pay the current expenses of the year. This has all passed. Every one now is spending money for every possible vanity. Careful financiers estimate that $500,000,000 can be saved by retrenchment.–N. Y. Times.

1 A brief synopsis of this longer article appeared in the Newport Mercury of 5 March 1864, which is why you are thinking you’ve read this before.

2 The Pactolus River flows through western Turkey near the Aegean coast. In Antiquity, its waters were rich in electrum,  an alloy of silver and gold, with small amounts of copper. These deposits of electrum were the basis of wealth for the Kingdom of Lydia.

3 Coulisses is French for “scenes,” and the Bourse is the stock exchange of that country.

4 William Walker was one of a number of American filibusters who led or attempted expeditions into Mexico and Central America, with the aim of expanding the slave-holding territories of the United States in the years before the Civil War. (Source, with the full story of the 1855 Walker Expedition.)

5 This double-length article is included to explain why Mexico was so important to our Civil War, and how the French used it as an entrée to the North American continent.

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