NOVEMBER 27, 1864

The Kearsarge and Alabama.

Capt. Winslow’s Official Report.

U. S. Steamer Kearsarge,
English Channel, July 30, 1864.

SIR: In obedience to instructions of the Department I have the honor to make the following supplementary report of the action between the Kearsarge and Alabama: On the morning of the 19th ultimo, the day being fine, with a hazy atmosphere, wind moderate from the westward, with little sea, the position of the Kearsarge at 10 o'clock was near the buoy which marks the line of shoals to the eastward of Cherbourg, and distant about 3 miles from the eastern entrance, which bore to the southward and westward. At 10:20 o'clock the Alabama was descried coming out of the western entrance, accompanied by the Couronne (ironclad). I had, in an interview with the admiral at Cherbourg, assured him that in the event of an action occurring with the Alabama the position of the ships should be so far offshore that no question could be advanced about the line of jurisdiction. Accordingly, to perfect this object, and with the double purpose of drawing the Alabama so far offshore that if disabled she could not return, I directed the ship's head seaward, and cleared for action with the battery pivoted to starboard. Having attained a point about 7 miles from the shore, the head of the Kearsarge was turned short round and the ship steered directly for the Alabama, my purpose being to run her down, or, if circumstances did not warrant it, to close in with her. Hardly had the Kearsarge come round before the Alabama sheered, presented her starboard battery, and slowed her engines. On approaching her, at long range of about a mile, she opened her full broadside, the shot cutting some of our rigging and going over and alongside of us. Immediately I ordered more speed, but in two minutes the Alabama had loaded and again fired another broadside, and following it with a third, without damaging us except in rigging. We had now arrived within about 900 yards of her, and I was apprehensive that another broadside, nearly raking as it was, would prove disastrous. Accordingly, I ordered the Kearsarge sheered, and opened on the Alabama. The position of the vessels was now broadside and broadside, but it was soon apparent that Captain Semmes did not seek close action. I became then fearful, lest after some fighting he would again make for the shore. To defeat this, I determined to keep full speed on, and with a port helm to run under the stern of the Alabama and rake, if he did not prevent it by sheering and keeping his broadside to us. He adopted this mode as a preventive, and as a consequence the Alabama was forced with a full head of steam into a circular track during the engagement.

The effect of this maneuver was such that at the last of the action, when the Alabama would have made off, she was near 5 miles from the shore, and had the action continued from the first in parallel lines, with her head inshore, the line of jurisdiction would no doubt have been reached. The firing of the Alabama from the first was rapid and wild. Toward the close of the action her firing became better. Our men, who had been cautioned against rapid firing without direct aim, were much more deliberate, and the instructions given to point the heavy guns below rather than above the water line and clear the deck with the lighter ones was fully observed. I had endeavored with a port helm to close in with the Alabama, but it was not until just before the close of the action that we were in position to use grape. This was avoided, however, by her surrender. The effect of the training of our men was evident. Nearly every shot from our guns was telling fearfully on the Alabama, and on the seventh rotation on the circular track she winded, setting fore-trysail and two jibs, with head inshore. Her speed was now retarded, and, by winding, her port broadside was presented to us, with only two guns bearing, not having been able, as I learned afterwards, to shift over but one. I saw now that she was at our mercy, and a few more guns, well directed, brought down her flag. I was unable to ascertain whether they had been hauled down or shot away, but a white flag having been displayed over the stern, our fire was reserved. ->

Two minutes had not more than elapsed before she again opened on us with the two guns on the port side. This drew our fire again, and the Kearsarge was immediately steamed ahead, and laid across her bows for raking. The white flag was still flying, and our fire was again reserved. Shortly after this her boats were seen to be lowering, and an officer in one of them came alongside and informed us that the ship had surrendered and was fast sinking. In twenty minutes from this time the Alabama went down, her mainmast, which had been shot, breaking near the head as she sank, and her bow rising high out of the water as her stern rapidly settled.

The fire of the Alabama, although it is stated that she discharged 370 or more shell and shot, was not of serious damage to the Kearsarge. Some thirteen or fourteen of these had taken effect in and about the hull, and sixteen or seventeen about the masts and rigging. The casualties were small, only three persons having been wounded; yet it is a matter of surprise that so few were injured, considering the number of projectiles that came aboard. Two shot passed through the ports in which the 32's were placed, with men thickly stationed around them, one taking effect in the hammock netting and the other going through the port on the opposite side; yet no one was hit, the captain of one of the guns being only knocked down by the wind of the shot, as supposed. The fire of the Kearsarge, although only 173 projectiles had been discharged, according to the prisoners' accounts was terrific. One shot alone had killed and wounded eighteen men and disabled the gun; another had entered the coal bunkers, exploding, and completely blocked up the engine room, and Captain Semmes states that shot and shell had taken effect in the sides of the vessel, tearing large holes by explosion, and his men were everywhere knocked down.

Of the casualties in the Alabama no correct account can be given. One hundred and fifteen persons reached the shore, either in England or France, after the action. It is known that the Alabama carried a crew (officers and men) of about 150 into Cherbourg, and that while in the Southern Ocean her complement was about 170; but desertions had reduced this complement. The prisoners state that a number of men came on board at Cherbourg, and the night before the action boats were going to and fro, and in the morning strange men were seen who were stationed as captains of the guns. Among these there was one lieutenant (Sinclair), who joined her in Cherbourg.

The Alabama had been five days in preparation; she had taken in 350 tons of coal, which brought her down in the water. The Kearsarge had only 120 tons in, but as an offset to this, her sheet chains were stowed outside--stopped up and down as an additional preventive and protection to her more empty bunkers. The number of the crew of the Kearsarge, including officers and sick men, was 163 and her battery numbered seven guns--two 11-inch and one 30-pounder rifle, and four light 32-pounder guns.

The battery of the Alabama numbered eight guns--one heavy 68, of 9,000 pounds, one 110-pounder rifle, and six heavy 32-pounder guns. In the engagement the Alabama fought seven guns and the Kearsarge five, both exercising her starboard battery until the Alabama winded, using then her port side with one gun, and another shifted over.

The collateral events connected with this action have already been laid before the Department. I enclose a diagram, showing the track which was described during the engagement, by the rotary course of the vessels.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.

NOVEMBER 28, 1864

The significance of Sherman’s campaign in Georgia is magnified beyond the limit, not only of reason, but of common sense, both in the North and in those portions of the Cotton States where the hardships of war have been hitherto known only through newspapers. It is represented as a regular solution of continuity between two great divisions of the Confederate States, Look, say the makers of alarm and the makers of humbug alike, look at the track of Sherman over the map! If he moves from Chattanooga to the seacoast he cuts the Confederacy in halves, and severs every railroad between Virginia and Alabama. He will interpose “a wall of steel” between Lee and his supplies. He has only to take the towns as he took Atlanta and have them garrisoned; establish a “chain of posts” across the country; and the Confederacy will be strangled in the middle. With such stuff can men be amused! Two hundred thousand men would not be sufficient to establish such a “chain of posts.” If it were established, the whole line would be flanked at any given point, and every post “gobbled” by a concentrated force of thirty thousand Confederate soldiers. Thus much for the theory. Now for the practical fact. Is Sherman doing or attempting to do any such thing? So far from that, he obliterates his track behind him with as much systematic care as an Indian covers his war trail. He began by completely destroying the railroad from Chattanooga to Atlanta–the first and most necessary link in such a “chain of posts.” Then he burnt Rome. Then he burnt Atlanta. Then he burnt Canton. So far from “leaving garrisons,” his army “marches in hollow squares,” with wagons in their centre. For supplies it depends on what it can carry. As to communications, he has none. His Government does not expect his news till he reaches the sea coast. In short, his expedition is a gigantic raid, a flying column, a march–not an occupation or a conquest. That it is, on its face–palpably, necessarily. What is the use or sense of talking about its effects on the Confederacy, r on Lee’s army, or any other army?

If Sherman could destroy Macon and Augusta as he has done Canton, he might have additional acts of unsoldierlike barbarism to boast of; but if he does not succeed in damaging or capturing either–and we believe the time has gone by when he had a chance to touch them–he has nothing before him but a race to the sea coast. This he may be expected to commence so soon as he has made a trial on either of these towns and failed, or as soon as he discovers that by the careful reconnoissance he is now making, that he will fail if he attempts either. He will make good time when he starts, because ruin will be the certain result of delay. He may reach the sea in safety, and by so doing inflict disappointment on the country and disgrace on the official persons who should have rendered his escape impossible in that direction–or in any direction after he burnt Atlanta and “busted the railroads.” But let us suppose the worst. Let us suppose that he takes one or the other of those towns. He will inflict some loss on the citizens and some on the Government– but he cannot stay there, as he could have stayed at Atlanta, for he would have no supply or communication. Still less will he be able to leave a garrison, for that would be delivering those men who should compose it prisoners into our hands. He can do absolutely nothing after destroying a certain number of buildings but continue his march to the coast. ->

If he should reach the coast, what would be the consequence? The country from Chattanooga to Savannah would be then clear of all enemy, and except the moral effect, and the blunders which panics never fail to breed, we profess ourselves unable to see the mighty results which will have been obtained. If the fear of this flying column, and the political influences which the out-cries of a population not hardened by the contact of war may bring to bear on military councils, should cause the Confederate Generals to disorganize their armies and abandon their plans, its effects will indeed be great and disastrous to us. But if no such panic is created and no such blunders made–if no time is lost in locking the doors of stables, from which the steeds were all stolen when Johnston was taken away from his army, and Davis, under the name of Hood, assumed command of it–this march will have no more real significance in the history of the war than the feats of tight-rope dancers on the destinies of empires.

That one part of Sherman’s design was the production of this moral effect–to rejoice the sovereign mob of the United States, and to frighten into fits all the fools in the Southern Confederacy is highly probable. But a separation of the Confederacy never was part of his design, because that was plainly impossible. Beyond the moral effects, he had undoubtedly a great aim. The extraordinary disappearance of the only army opposed to him in front of Atlanta, and its disposition in a remote corner of Tennessee, left him nothing to do in the interior of the country, except perhaps to occupy it and garrison towns. This he was in no condition to attempt, for his army was diminished to half its number after the fall of Atlanta. It was organized for three years in 1861, and the enlistment of most regiments expired in June. He kept them together for some time by the promise that they would be sent home as soon as the town was taken. When the Jonesboro movement proved a Federal success–a disgrace to our arms not less indelible than Missionary Ridge–he has kept his promise, and his army was reduced to what it is now. It was insufficient to garrison and occupy a wide extent of country–but it might be used against Charleston or Savannah, or at least it might be employed, after a junction with Grant, against Richmond. Now, the nearest way to Richmond, to Charleston or Savannah, is precisely the road he has taken. By a direct march to Beaufort, he reaches the fleet which can land him, without obstacle or danger, on the bank of the James. In any event, work for his army could only be found by directing his steps to the sea. His blows are not aimed at inland villages, nor is the object of his march the separation of the Confederacy, or of those railroads, which unite more rapidly than he can cut them.

NOVEMBER 29, 1864

Our Prisoners.
Horrible Barbarities of the Rebels.

The Port Royal correspondent of the New York Times furnishes an interesting and thrilling account of the condition of our prisoners jut exchanged at Savannah. His letter is dated Monday, Nov. 21st. He says:

“I shall attempt in this letter to give some idea of the outward appearance, physical condition, animating spirit and expression of opinion of these soldiers of the Republic who have escaped from unutterable misery, with the sole object of presenting facts to the country which must result in the release of their fifty thousand comrades who cannot survive the coming Winter, under the conditions in which they are kept through the unparalleled vindictiveness of the Southern authorities. This is a hard charge, but I make it deliberately. The irrefragable proof is lying before me, not alone in the ex parte testimony and wasted hungry aspect of the sufferers, whose filth and squalor and skeleton frames appeal for justice to the God of justice, but in the official papers of the rebel surgeons at Andersonville and the records of the charnel-houses, miscalled hospitals, at that terrestrial hell–records never meant to pass the limits of the Confederacy, but which a merciful Providence has brought to light, that out of their own mouths these barbarians, with whom we are at war, should be convicted.

“The task before me I undertake with great reluctance. Aside from the indignation which every man cannot help feeling at the visible effects of the cruelties that have been practiced–an indignation almost forbidding a calm recital of the facts–the task invests itself with another difficulty, as words are found incapable of expressing the revolting experiences and incredible hardships of the men who have been languishing without hope, month after month, shelterless, naked and half starved, crowded–to the number of from twenty-five to thirty thousand–like sheep in a foul pen, dying at an average of one hundred in every twenty-four hours. Happily, however, in addition to the daily reports, covering a period of more than a month of the rebel physicians at Andersonville, a perusal of which requires no flight of imagination to conceive of the horrors of the prison, I have before me the diaries of two of our dead soldiers, brought down to a very recent date, from which I purpose to make some extracts, which, more forcibly and eloquently than any words of mine, will come like voices from the grave, telling a truthful tale of cruel wrongs, and appealing to the people and the Government in behalf of the thousands still in captivity for prompt release.

“It is a distressing fact, but one of which I have found abundant proof in many conversations with the men so far brought back, that the prisoners very generally believe that they have been abandoned by our Government. This idea is sedulously inculcated by the rebel authorities. I am convinced that many a brave heart has succumbed under the cruel aspersion that the sympathies of the people are dead to their woes. Hunger, squalor, filth, nakedness and disease may be borne, but that hope deferred which results in heartsickness–that longing for home which superinduces mental depression, cannot long be survived. Nostalgia is the parent of physical ailments, and, under the terrible monotony and privations of the prison pens, it is more fatal than bullets on the field of battle. A very large proportion of these prisoners have been held as such for periods of from nine to sixteen months, and the exchange question between the two Governments as yet gives no promise of a speedy settlement. The rebels assure the captives that they are prepared to yield all the points at issue, and have long since announced the fact to the United States Government, whose only reason for non-acceptance is one of simple expediency, viz: that by resuming the exchanges thousands of rugged, strong men would be sent into the armies of the South from the prison-camps of the North and no equivalent would be received in the broken-down, emaciated wrecks of humanity that would be sent home from the pens at Andersonville, Columbus, Milan and Richmond. Is it a matter of marvel that under the influence of this monstrous belief, hundreds of the disheartened soldiers endeavor to escape the horrors of the prisons by enlisting in the rebel service? Such is the fact, and it behooves our Government to weigh it well. The exchanges are in abeyance on well-taken grounds, from which there can be no retraction without a sacrifice of national honor. But there are two sides to the question, and the national faith and honor are just as deeply plighted to the fifty thousand soldiers languishing and dying in captivity as it can possibly be in other quarters. Justice to the heroic men whom the fortune of war has placed in the hands of the enemy, demands that no effort should be relaxed to release them from a condition which will bring the majority of them to certain death during the fast approaching Winter. The resources of the North in men have scarcely been drawn upon as yet, in comparison with the resources of the South, and the question of expediency in releasing a few thousand Southern soldiers should not be entertained an instant, even if a draft in the Northern States were not able to put their equivalent in the field.

The Exchange.

“Taking any single day of the four in which we have been receiving our men, I propose to give some description of the animating scene on the transfer of the prisoners from the rebel vessels to our own. As I have informed you in a former letter, the rendezvous for the exchanges is at Venus Point, on the Savannah River, a bend of the stream whence the spires and many of the houses of the City of Savannah are visible. Our boats are invariably the first at the rendezvous, anchored in mid-river awaiting the rebel vessels, whose tardiness proceeds from the fact that it is only at the proper tide certain obstructions of the channel above can be crossed. Finally they appear over the low marshes, belching their turgid clouds of dense black smoke, and in half an hour their uncouth, grotesque, towering shapes are puffing and wheezing near us. ->

Col. Mulford immediately goes in a yawl boat to the Gen. Beauregard, a small steamer used by Capt. Hatch, the rebel agent, as the flagship of his transport squadron, and after a few moments' consultation, during which the rolls of the prisoners are transferred, the two agents go together on board one of the floating objects laden with the released men, and she is at once laid alongside a neat Union vessel, and the poor fellows are transshipped. Those of them who are able to move without aid pass to the protection of the old flag first; then come those (alas! there are many of this class) who hobble on crutches, and last the few whose helplessness requires that they should be carried on stretchers. In all this operation the greatest formality is observed. A number of rebel civilians, with hands round their hats, labeled “Committee for the wounded,”  whose position corresponds with our own Sanitary Commission, accompanying the beats from Savannah to attend on the sick, and assist in the transshipment, but seldom on either side is a word spoken except on the subject of the matter in hand. A different course is forbidden, and if on either side there happen to be a disposition to engage in conversation, watchful guards step up and ask that the conversation shall cease. It is no uncommon thing to see a man who has been so crippled by scrofula that crutches were necessary to his locomotion, under the influence of his ecstasy at again being free, spurn from him his artificial supports and walk, for a time, as erect and as instantaneously as he whom the Saviour miraculously cured by the healing waters of Bethesda. When the rebel boat moves off and the men are huddled together on the decks of our own vessels, all fully understand that the last link which bound them to rebeldom has been severed, then rises hearty shouting and cheering, which only can be given under these circumstances. There is the music of intense gratefulness in it. Three cheers and a tiger for the old flag; three more and a tiger for Col. Mulford; then comes a burst of song, most often the words being “Rally round the flag, boys, from near and from far, down with the traitor and up with the star,” the rebels still within hearing, probably gnashing their teeth at the pointed personal allusion, but everybody else feeling that the bad taste of the happy fellows is excusable, even though exhibited under the sacred folds of a flag of truce. Then vermin-infested rags, till now highly prized as the only cover for nakedness, are rudely torn off and flung into the water or cast with glee into the flaming furnaces of the steamers, and new clothes are issued, and a general cleaning-time inaugurated.

“As soon as possible, barrels of hot coffee are prepared, and hams are cooked, and boxes of hard-bread opened, for the refreshment of these men, to whom decent food has been for a long time unknown. It is a touching sight to see them, each with his quart can, file by the steaming coffee barrels, and receive the refreshing draught whose taste has long been unfamiliar. It seems scarcely possible that men should feel such childish joy as they express in once more receiving this common stimulant. And then, he eager, hungry glare which their glassy eyes cast upon the chunks of ham as they clutch and devour their allowance with a wolf-like avidity!

“These facts can only be understood by the spectator in remembering that for months they have been deprived of a sufficient quantity of palatable food, and that the little they have received has been rarely cooked, because in a country abounding with fuel, and gloomy with immense pine forests, their jailors forbade them the poor privilege of adequate fires. At the prison-pen near Milan, Ga., for some weeks there has been no meal or flour given to the prisoners, and the sweet potatoes issued in lieu thereof have been eaten raw, because there was no opportunity of getting fuel for cooking purposes.

“Such is the condition of the men whom we are now receiving out of chivalrous Dixie. These the sons, brothers, husbands and fathers of the North. Men reduced to living skeletons; men almost naked; shoeless men, shirtless men, hatless men; men with no other garment than an overcoat; men whose skins are blackened by dirt and hang on their protruding bones loosely as bark on a tree; men whose very presence is simply disgusting, exhaling an odor so fetid that it almost stops the breath of those unaccustomed to it, and causes an involuntary brushing of the garments if with them there is accidental contact. Imagine 25,000 of such wretched creatures penned together in a space scarcely large enough to hold them, and compare their condition with the most miserable condition that can be imagined. The suffering of the Revolutionary captives on the prison ships at Wallabout Bay will not stand the comparison, and the horrible sight in the Black Hole of Calcutta scarcely exceeds it in atrocity. Remember, too, that the men thus returned are the best specimens of the suffering. Only those are forwarded to us whom the rebel medical authorities decide to be strong enough to bear the fatigue of transportation. If those whose wretchedness I have vainly endeavored to portray, are the best specimens of our sick and wounded, is it not awful to contemplate what must be the woe of the remainder?”

The correspondent does not rely upon the simple statement of appearance of our men, but furnishes the damning proof of barbarism and murder, by giving copies of over eighty official rebel documents from rebel surgeons, who repeatedly remonstrated with the authorities against the treatment to which the sick were subjected.

NOVEMBER 30, 1864

The Condition of Things Near Richmond.

In the Field Before Richmond,
November 24, 1864.

The Art of a Visit to New York.

“In the field before Richmond.” Do you know what that means? It is all very well to be out in the fields of New England, haying in midsummer, or husking in autumn, or hunting in winter, while clad for the occasion and with the privilege of going in when it rains or of returning to the home fireside when chilled or wearied. But what do you think of fighting almost without intermission for more than half a year, then going on a crowded transport to within sight of home, yet without the privilege of landing for a single hour with the loved ones, and returning again to the old place at the front–having lost meantime the opportunity of drawing needed clothing at the regulation season, and having yielded the log cabins constructed for winter quarters, without, of course, the hope of finding a vestige of them again; then, lying out in the cold rain, drenched to the skin by day and night, and half buried in the adhesive, tenacious, defiling mud of Virginia, for nearly a full week, finally, to be almost frozen in the icy atmosphere when the storm clears away, lacking clothing, shelter and rest, disappointed, home-sick, anxious, promised a Thanksgiving dinner which doesn’t come, unsuccessful advances and multiplied sacrifices and endurances in the months already gone, and looking forward to ye other dangers and trials and sufferings in the coming days. What think you of all this? I say it is covered by that phrase: “In the field before Richmond,” to many soldiers in the army of the James, who on this Thanksgiving-day are here again after their visit to New York harbor, under their commanding general, to keep the peace among the rebels at the North. In the field of blood, in the field of exposure, in the field of want, in the field of disappointment, in the field of sad memories, in the field of anxious doubt.

What of it–the Soldier’s Patriotism.

Yet, here in the field before Richmond, in this army of the James, even among those who have suffered thus and are thus sorely tried, there is less of disloyalty, or shrinking or of complaint, and more of true-hearted patriotism, self-forgetful heroism, and real cheerfulness than with the same number of men anywhere in all the North, in New England or at the West. What if these brave boys have fought a six months’ battle after three previous years of campaigning? They will, if need be, fight six months or six years more, but they will finish the work to which they have set their hands. What if they did fail of seeing their friends at the North? They will see them when the war is over, or here at the front they will think of and love them so long as life lasts. What if they did lose their log huts? They will build others, or do the best they can without them. What if the mud is very deep and very sticky? It is all the softer if not the drier bed. What if it is wet or cold now? The fire, while they are by it, is all the pleasanter. What if the Thanksgiving turkeys are not here yet? ->

They will be all the tenderer when they do come. What if the Darbytown road is a great cemetery? Somebody will go over it to Richmond one day or another. If veterans don’t, in their time, the new levies who follow them may. No armistice, no compromise, no terms but unconditional submission are thought of by them.

Winter Quarters.

The troops here have already provided themselves with winter quarters, even though they know they may leave them any hour, not to return. Some regiments have put up log barracks, long buildings accommodating each a full company. In others, the men, in squads of three to six, have huts large enough for two or three bunks. Company officers have more commodious cabins, and regimental headquarters are yet better furnished. These cabins are of the genuine, western hard-cider style, made of unhewn logs, notched and jointed at the corners, and the chinks stopped with yellow clay. A tent-fly or shelter-tent answer for the roofing, and chimneys with open fire-places are built of bricks (when they can be foraged,) or of logs below and cob-house slats above, plastered with mud and surmounted by a flour barrel flue. Doors, when not taken from some demolished building, are of rubber blankets or shelter-tents racked on a frame with leathern hinges and latch-string, or of rustic poles, close fastened together. Sometimes windows have been obtained, but usually sufficient light is admitted through the canvas roof or door. Brigade and division and corps headquarters are neat little settlements of these log cabins regularly laid out and surrounded by a rustic railing. Much taste is displayed in their finish and internal decoration. Pictures ornament the walls of some, and convenient shelves and tables and seats are found within most. Lieut. Col. Hutchings, chief quartermaster of the 10th corps, has wrapped each inner log surface of his quarters in newspaper, and hung the whole with beautiful holly, the deep green leaves and scarlet berries of which stand out in brilliant relief against the light back ground. He also has red, white and blue chandeliers of pine crosses for commissary candles, and window curtains of the scarlet flannel lattice from which the corps badges have been punched with a steel die. Now and then an unpretentious structure is found to contain luxurious furniture, as a rocking chair or sofa or bedstead or writing desk from a sacked rebel residence, but such possessions are rare.

Of course, to make all these log huts for all these thousands of officers and men, many thousands of trees must fall, and so the ground is being cleared for miles in extent. The whole face of the country is changing its appearance. We can see more, we can breathe freer than when first we came here. Our work is clearing the soil as it is annihilating rebels, and the country is the better and more open from the use of our axes and our rifles in central Virginia. All obstacles to cultivation and civilization will be removed.


From the London Daily News, Oct. 18.
Letter by Goldwin Smith.


To the Editor of the Daily News: Sir–I see that our Southern Journals are leading their readers to believe that the struggle for the restoration of the Union is about to be abandoned from the exhaustion of the North. The month which I have just passed in the Northern and Western States has led me to an opposite conclusion.

There is exhaustion, of course, as there is towards the close of every long battle-day. At Lutzen, towards evening, both armies were at the last gasp, yet the Swedes were able to make the supreme effort which gave them victory. The government has got more men than Grant called for by volunteering, and in districts where the volunteering was slack, the draft is going in without resistance.

The Chicago Convention, it is true, was not only pacific but secessionist. But McClellan, the nominee of that convention, kicks over the platform, and declares repeatedly and emphatically in his letter of acceptance, that the Union must be preserved at all hazards. The only question on which he is prepared to give way to the South is that of slavery. The mass of the party who support him are war democrats; and they are for the war, not in name only, but in deed. They have fought as hard as republicans, though they do not, like republicans, make the abolition of slavery present or prospective, as well as the restoration of the Union, a condition of peace.

The democratic party is out, and not being accustomed to being out, it wants very much to be in. That, I believe, is, as much as anything else, the key to the present attempt to oust the republican government. According to the best judgments, however, which I can gather, McClellan, as matters now stand, has no chance of election. At least all enemies of America in Europe, who are exulting in the prospect of his triumph, had better adjourn their exultation till their victory is won. I see they were a little premature in letting off their fireworks in honor of the victory of Hood before Atlanta.

That the war is national, not carried on by the government alone, nobody who has been in the country a day can doubt. Every sign of popular participation is around you: soldiers’ rests and soldiers’ homes, supported by voluntary contributions and attended by volunteer nurses; immense subscriptions to the Sanitary Commission and every benevolent object connected with the war. It is remarkable that, though the subscriptions are so large, the names of the subscribers are not published.

Anxiety is expressed, of course, on all hands as to the financial prospects of the country. But the present burden of taxation, including a heavy income tax, is, so far as I can see, cheerfully borne, even by those who must feel it most.

I have not heard a single sentiment of atrocity, or even of hatred uttered against the South. But I have heard on all sides the expression of a resolute determination to make the South submit to the law. And this determination I believe rules the people.

Let the South submit to the law, and there is no thought but of amnesty and restoration. Nor does it seem to be irrational to expect that, when the ambitious leaders of the revolt are out of the way, the dependents whom they have dragged into the field will soon settle down into quiet members of the Union. ->

I am confirmed in the belief that this war, as compared with previous civil wars, is carried on with great humanity on the part of the North. I visited the other day a large cantonment of Confederate prisoners at Chicago. These men seemed to me to be as well treated and as cheerful as prisoners could be; and this, be it observed, at a time when the North is ringing with the accounts of the cruelties undergone by Northern prisoners at the hands of the Confederates. The same visit convinced me that the Confederate conscriptions must have pretty well exhausted the Southern population, for I saw among the prisoners the merest boys.

The growth of popular sentiment on the subject of Negro slavery is manifest. By the law of Illinois, Negroes are still excluded from the State; but this law has become a dead letter. I saw Negroes at church with the whites, and I observed that they stay for the communion. Illinois farmers tell me the Negro makes a good day-laborer. Soldiers-not political generals, but company officers and privates–tell me that he makes an excellent soldier. The planter can no longer talk of the inherent inferiority of a race which proves itself a match for his own in the field.

I have seen no signs of diminished prosperity, except the empty docks in New York, which tell the tale of the Alabama. On the contrary, trade seems marvelously active, and buildings are rising on all sides. The commercial prosperity may be partly artificial, arising out of expenditures caused by the war. But the agricultural prosperity must be real. Illinois has sent, according to government returns, 170,000 men–a fifth of its laboring population–to the war. Yet the harvest is greater than in any former year. Its gross value is supposed to be four hundred million dollars, no inconsiderable part of the national debt. The invention of machines, which the dearness of labor has stimulated, has made up for the loss of laborers. The State Fair the other day was attended by 20,000 people. The show of implements was extraordinary, and the highest prices were given for stock.

I had, from the lips of a secessionist, a description of the enthusiasm with which these husbandmen of Illinois had rushed to arms when the first gun was fired against a Federal fortress by the South. I passed a village which had sent forth a hundred of them to conquer at Fort Donelson. Twenty-four fell, and their bodies were carefully brought back to their village and buried in their home. These men, of course, were “mercenaries” and “Irish.”

I have been in the States only a month, and perhaps I am not an unbiased observer, but my strong conviction is that beneath the frothy surface of party politics (never very august in any country) and the shoddy luxury of New York, lies a great nation, meeting the extremity of peril with courage, self-devotion, passionate attachment to its country, and unshaken confidence in its power. I am no judge of military matters, but at present it seems as though the insults and slanders which have been passed on the Americans from the aristocratic and reactionary press of Europe were about to be answered by victory. I am, &c.,

Goldwin Smith.

DECEMBER 2, 1864

The New York Incendiary Plot.
The Investigation Now Going On.

New York, Dec. 1.–The investigation of the plot to burn the city is proceeding with the greatest vigor and secrecy. Gen. Dix is closeted daily with detectives and others who are engaged in this business. The examination of the prisoners has been going on before a Military Commission, for the past two days, and those most conversant with the cases, express great confidence that some of the malefactors will be detected and punished under Gen. Dix’s order. The city at this moment is under the strictest surveillance. Lists of arrivals from the South are sent daily from the hotels to headquarters, and all suspected persons who fail to report will be summarily punished. The leading hotel keepers are doing all in their power to aid the authorities, and are in constant communication with them.

It is an indication of the thoroughness and skill with which these measures have been taken, that while the strictest watch is kept throughout the city, the agents of the government and their operations are wholly unknown to the public at large.

The condition of things naturally excites much alarm among the Southerners in this city. Large numbers of them register themselves daily, and many have come forward to give what aid they can in detecting the plot. The number of these refugees has been much exaggerated. Those whose opportunities give them the best means of judging estimate their number from 10,000 to 15,000 only. Of these a large proportion are women and loyal Southerners who have abandoned their property to escape the tyranny of Jeff Davis. All who register themselves are obliged to take the oath of allegiance. The only exceptions to this rule are those who for reasons of public policy are excused–of course, a very small portion of the whole number.

The precautions taken are such that it is probable that the city was never so safe as at this moment. The vigilance exercised is well illustrated by the discovery of the torpedo on board of one of the Sound steamers. It was a little pasteboard box only about four inches long, and was placed on a boat which carries but few passengers, and which afforded the best opportunity for such an enterprise. Notwithstanding these facilities it was instantly discovered and removed. For obvious reasons the authorities still refrain from furnishing the names of the persons arrested. Such information is precisely that most desired by their confederates still at large.


Desertion of 36 Sailors brought from the Portsmouth Navy Yard.

Yesterday, a draft of 210 seamen was brought from the Navy Yard at Portsmouth, N. H., to be transferred to the receiving ship Ohio. They came in charge of a squad of marines, some fifteen in number, and arrived in this city about one o’clock.

Quite a large number of the men were substitutes, and as they were being marched through Chelsea street, Charlestown, on their way to the Navy Yard, a wholesale attempt at desertion was made. Many of the men broke and ran, and notwithstanding the attempts of the guard to stop them, thirty-six succeeded in effecting their escape. Others were arrested in their flight, one being knocked down with the butt of a musket.

An officer fired at one of the runaways with his navy revolve, and the shot, instead of taking effect upon the deserter, struck Mr. L. P. Whitney, a workman in the navy yard, who chanced to be standing on the sidewalk. The ball first struck the sidewalk and glancing, entered Mr. Whitney’s left foot, causing a bad wound.

Two of the deserters were subsequently arrested by the Charlestown police.

Continued Attempts to Throw a Train off the Track.—For some time past a series of diabolical attempts have been made to throw the outward six o’clock evening train over the Saugus Branch Railroad from the track. The place selected was between South Malden and Malden, and no less than seven fruitless attempts have been made in as many weeks. The method was to lay several sleepers across the track, and then one lengthwise across the others to catch the locomotive. In every case until last night the obstructions were knocked off the track without damage to the train. Last night, however, the sleepers tore off the fire-box from the engine, broke two of the brakes, and did some other injury. As the train had just left the South Malden depot, and was going slow at the time, it was not thrown off. Its escape, however, was something remarkable.

The only means taken by the Eastern Railroad Company to discover the perpetrators of the outrage, so far as we have learned, is the offering of a reward of $200 for their detection.


The New York Incendiary Plot.—Two additional arrests of men suspected of complicity in the recent plot to fire the New York hotels have been made, though the principal conspirators have not yet been caught. The authorities now believe the number of men engaged in firing the hotels to have been much smaller than at first reported, making it exceedingly difficult to obtain any clue to them. Estimates of persons who have carefully considered the subject place the number as low as four. It is thought all the hotels might possibly have been visited by them, and that they effected their escape from the city the same night.


A Smart Colored Cavalry Regiment.—Colonel Osband, commanding a colored cavalry regiment at Vicksburg, gives the following account of a recent extensive scouting expedition of his command:

“I have just returned from the longest scout made since I have been in the brigade. I left here twelve days since with twelve hundred men and four pieces of artillery; landed at Bruinsburg, Miss., from there marched to Port Gibson, and from there to Rodney, from Rodney to Natchez by the way of Fayette. Left Natchez by boat, went to Tunica Bend, landed and marched on Woodville, from Woodville to Fort Adams, from Fort Adams to Woodville, from Woodville to Natchez, and thence to Stearns’ House.

“I captured one thousand beef cattle, four hundred and fifty horses and mules, seven army wagons and mules, burned seven hundred thousand dollars’ worth of corn stores at Woodville, cut and destroyed the telegraph for miles, captured a half dozen rebel mails with important information, also two hundred and fifty stand of small arms, three pieces of artillery, one caisson, two hundred and fifty rounds fixed ammunition, eighty-two prisoners, one captain and two lieutenants, killed fifty-eight rebels, including one major and one lieutenant, and only lost two killed and five slightly wounded.”

DECEMBER 3, 1864


Interesting Details from the Story of a Blockade Runner.

“Let her rip!”

Such was the cry which burst with all the power of emphasis of which the English language is capable, from the lips of a group of nautical men who were standing in the ship yard of Messrs. Kirkpatrick and McIntyre, of Glasgow, as the last shores were knocked away, and a long, low rakish-looking, but beautifully modelled sidewheel steamer, glided from the stocks on which she had been built, into the peaceful waters of the Clyde. “Let her rip!” It floated on the breeze, in the flag at her mast head, it was blazoned on her gilded paddleboxes, and “Let Her Rip, Liverpool,” in letters of gold on her stern announced her name and port of registry.

It was an uncouth name, and seemed to harmonize but ill with the beautifully modelled steamer craft to which it belonged; nevertheless to the eyes of the seafarers present, the sharp lines, the huge paddlewheels, and the light draft of the vessel seemed adapted to bear out the motto,

She was evidently built with a view to the attainment of a very high rate of speed, in places too dangerous of shallow navigation; for her draught, when loaded, was but eight feet, and though she was nearly two hundred feet long, she was registered but two hundred and sixty tons. In fact, she was a blockade runner, intended for the trade between Nassau and the coast of “Confederate” America, and as soon as possible after the launch was to proceed to Liverpool, there to receive her engines and fitting, and from thence to start for the scenes of her further exploits.

During the first two years of the war, blockade running had been a matter of no great difficulty. Sailing vessels had, time after time, eluded the vigilance of the Yankee squadron, and with a steamer of very low power, success was almost certain. Many that could steam no more than seven or eight knots at their highest speed had run in and out several times without a shot being fired, at a time, too, when cotton could be purchased at eight cents a pound in the Confederacy, and sold for six times that sum in Nassau or Bermuda.

Most of the captures of that period were made by cruisers falling in with the vessels on their passage from either port, and many that were not legally liable to forfeiture were seized and destroyed by the Yankees in their pursuit of the persevering evaders of their disappointed naval men. But as the number of blockade runners increased, the captures became more numerous, and the captors gained experience. About this time, too, the United States, having failed to fulfill their promise of bringing the rebels into subjection in six months, and hanging Jeff Davis up as an example to future generations and as a terror to all intending agitators, Europe began to doubt her power to do to, or at all events to look upon the consummation as an event as yet far distant; and in the meantime Southern privateers were making sad havoc among American merchantmen, and European merchants deemed it no longer safe to trust their goods in American bottoms. Thus hundreds of vessels were thrown out of employment, or obliged to change their flag; many of their sailing vessels were sold to foreigners, and their fastest steamers were armed and employed as cruisers and coast guards. This addition to the Northern naval power affected the interests of blockade-runners In two ways— firstly, by placing a larger number of much faster cruisers in Southern waters; and, secondly, by enabling the Government to add to their blockading squadrons many more of their steamships of war, thus rendering the attempt to run in and out a very precarious one Indeed.

But “the hour never failed to bring forth its man,” and the emergency thus formed was promptly met by companies formed for the purpose in the Confederacy especially in South Carolina, who immediately ordered vessels from some of the best English and Scotch builders, and spared no expense on their fittings and machinery. These vessels were planned expressly for the trade, adapted to carry largely on a light draught of water, and fitted with steam power to drive them at a rate 0f speed which could put capture from a fair chase out of the question.

Of these, unequalled in beauty, and as yet unsurpassed in speed, was the Let Her Rip, the adventures of which, on her last trip to Wilmington, I shall at present attempt to follow.

“Hard a-port!” shouted the mate to the man at the wheel; “hard a-port!” “Ahead, full speed; give it to her!” to the engineer, as the ship swung quickly round in obedience to her helm, and fled along with an increased rate of speed in a direction nearly opposite that which she had been pursuing.

Jonathan was within half a mile of us when the order was given, but evidently had not seen us. But the alteration of our course brought us directly head to the moon (which was close down to the horizon), and as our hull and masts interposed between him and the light it would have been next to impossible for him to miss seeing us. That he had not done so, was quickly proved by the dense cloud of smoke that arose from his funnels as he steered directly after us.

“Let her rip,” was the word; and we did let her rip to some purpose, for in four hours Jonathan was scarcely visible from deck, though with our glasses we could still see him smoking up in the hope of gaining on us.

“Not much pork left aboard there now; be has burned it all to raise steam," said our captain, coolly, as he hauled the ship to her course again and turned his glasses for a farewell look at the now almost invisible Rhode Island. ->

We continued our course without molestation till the afternoon of the following day, at which time we were again obliged to run away from it, as two cruisers supposed to be the Connecticut and Neptune, hove in sight. They, however, did not give us much trouble, but time and distance lost in running off our course prevented us from getting in that night, and obliged us to stand on and off till daylight of the following (Sunday) morning, when we again shaped our course for Cape Fear.

We sighted land about half-past four, ran up along the coast as far as we dared, and then stood off to wait for night.

At eight o'clock all hands were called and every preparation made and precaution taken for running in. I stationed some, men to pass the word of command from the bridge, and then took my own place by the man at the wheel. Every light was extinguished, save one in the engine room and those in the binnacles, which were carefully shrouded; the wind sails were hauled down, the stokeholes covered up, and, as a last precaution, the man who had stowed away was brought upon the bridge and chained to an iron stanchion receiving at the same time a gentle hint that there were half a dozen pistol balls ready for his head if he showed any intention of turning traitor.

The night seemed to favor us. It fell dark, clouded and misty, while the closeness of the atmosphere, the faint rumbling of the distant thunder and the occasional flash of forked lightning heralded an approaching storm. We sped along at the rate of about twelve knots an hour, and were close to Cape Fear light when a low murmur from forward told us that one of the blockading squadron was in sight.

I bent my sight close down to the water, and could perceive the dark outlines of the hull of a large steamer not half a mile off. Then nerving myself to meet the crisis, whatever it might be, I turned to my duty beside the man at the wheel, first giving my men a caution about speaking too loud in passing the orders to and fro.

We were two of the tallest men in the ship, that helmsman and I, and by way of keeping up our spirits we comforted each other with the assurance that we would make a fine object for Nathan to point his guns by, if he should happen to see the ship as she passed.

A dead silence reigned fore and aft as we passed the first blockader, broken only at intervals by the occasional passing of orders to us at the wheel in a low tone; and to our great joy we gilded by without attracting his attention.

It was nearly midnight, and we had nearly cleared the last of the hostile vessels, when a sudden noise from the funnels (caused by the “blast” being put on), followed by a dense cloud of smoke, which drifted right over the squadron, thus forming a clear and faithful indicator of our position, attracted the notice of her lookouts, and a rocket thrown in the direction in which we were going proved to us that we were discovered, and showed the other vessels how we were steering.

“Give it to her; give her all you can!” shouted the captain to the engineers, and, trembling from stem to stern as the pressure on her increased, our gallant little craft sped along toward the bar at a tremendous rate.

And it was well that she did so. We were not two hundred yards off Jonathan when he saw us, and ere the sparks from his signal rocket cleared away a bright red flash, followed by the heavy booming of a gun warned each of us to prepare for what must follow.

It was a moment of intense and awful interest, that brief interval from the flash of the gun till the shot came whizzing along, making my flesh creep and a cold shudder pass through my frame, as I stood calmly and firmly attending to my duty by the equally calm man at the wheel. It was one of those awful moments when the soul seems (as though a lightning flash had for a moment illumined its depths) to glance far down into the dark chaos of eternity, while with equal force and vividness the past, the irreclaimable past, floats swiftly before the vision, recalling with terrible truth and clearness many a precious hour wasted, many a day misspent, many a day misspent, pointing onward to the fast approaching future, whispers the dreadful words, “too late— too late!”

“Grape, by George!” was my exclamation as the iron shower whizzed by within a few yards of me and tore up the water on our starboard quarter. “Yes, sir; and I care as little about round shot and shell as any man; but I'm hanged if I like grape,” said the helmsman, who, nevertheless, was calmly and unflinchingly doing his duty, only shutting his eyes as each successive flash warned him of the coming shot. “I go blind to that,” he remarked, as a storm of canister flew by, passing over the paddle-house and lighting in the water close to our bow. “Port a little–port! Give it to her; let her rip!” were the orders of our pilot, and away went the ship at a pace which rather astonished Nathan, and which, had the distance been great, would soon have put pursuit out of the question.

In a few moments the Let Her Rip was at anchor under the guns of Fort Fisher. [Here the narrative closes. The Let Her Rip or Wando, as she is now called, wan captured, after an exciting chase of two hours, by the United States steamer Fort Jackson, on the 21st of October. She had from six hundred to seven hundred bales of cotton on board.]

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