DECEMBER 25, 1864

The Proposed Interpolation in the Preamble of the Constitution.

The leading article in the True Delta of the 16th inst., under the above title, although ingeniously written, admits of question as to the soundness of its argument. Because the rebel Rev. Dr. Palmer thought there ought to be incorporated into the Constitution “a recognition of God, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Scriptures,” is no reason why this should not be done. We may, if we will, learn wisdom even from our enemies. If the rebel Constitution contains anything superior to our own, let its founders have the benefit of it, it will certainly do us no harm. No one believes that “the Allwise Ruler of the Universe is to be won over by any propitiatory clause to the interest of a government born of lies and based on human slavery.” The argument thus far of the article is addressed more to the passion than to the reason.

Those nations that have been destitute or regardless of the principles of Christianity, although they may have for a while dictated obedience to the trembling world, yet they have never been able to stand the test of outward storms or internal convulsions. Greece and Rome, whose liberty and greatness have been sung in verse and harangued in press for many centuries, are forcible illustrations of this statement. Contrary to the fundamental principles of Christianity, their liberty was for themselves; they ruled a conquered foe with despotic sway. These are but examples of the many powers whose nationality has been based upon immorality, that have crumbled, or must inevitably crumble, to earth. The bigotry of the anti-Christian Government of Turkey, stirred up by a quarrel about a simple key, caused to tremble the foundations of many of the strong powers of Europe, and involved her in the terrible war of the Crimea. On the other hand, those nations that have withstood the convulsions of centuries, the star of whose glory as not yet reached its zenith, are those farthest advanced in the intelligence and virtues only acquired by Christian Governments. England, whose government is characterized by liberty, and everything that adds to national greatness above all the other nations of Europe, pays great deference to Christianity. In our own land, it was only in that section where the great principles of Christian government were disregarded, that ambitious and designing men could so work upon the passions and prejudices of the people that in an ill-omened hour they hurled the fiery darts of treason at the heart of this nation. Such being the facts demonstrated by history, it may be said, emphatically, that our forefathers did intend “to constitute a Christian government,” and “to form a more perfect union, to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty” to themselves and posterity, were but the intended and legitimate fruits of that Christian government. What harm, what “pernicious dogma” can there be in having incorporated in the fundamental law of our land the name of what we profess to be, and the fruits of which we claim to have reaped? Where is the harm of showing our colors? And how, in doing so, do we “undo the work of our forefathers” or “set forth as a fact that which the whole world knows to be false?” Many of our would-be liberal and the fearful friends do not mark the distinction between a  recognition of Christianity and a prescription of the forms of religious worship. Our Puritanic ancestors complained of England, not that she recognized and encouraged Christian religion, but that she prescribed the forms of religious belief and practice. Such prescriptions there is no danger of by our Government, as they are forbidden, not only by the good sense of the people, but expressly by articles of our Constitution, which will in no wise conflict with a recognition of Christianity by that instrument, though incorporated therein. But even this liberality of Christian belief should not be construed into tolerance of all manner of licentiousness that may be garbed under the cloak of a heathenish religion.–Criticus.


The Proposed Interpolation in the Constitution.

In another column will be found a communication on this subject signed “Criticus,” which we publish the more readily as we believe that it expressed the views of a large class, as well as those of its well-disposed but mistaken writer. To oppose the introduction of the name of God into our Constitution, and the interpolation of an assertion that that instrument was designed to establish a Christian government, seems to many worthy and conscientious people like ignoring God and repudiating Christianity. Such persons, seeing, as every intelligent person must, that Christianity has done so much for the human race and that countries where it prevails are far in advance of others in virtue, enlightenment and outward prosperity, easily persuade themselves that this enlightenment and physical prosperity form the reward providentially bestowed on them because of their profession of Christianity. ->

Such persons fancy the Divine Father as being pleased with those who ascribe glory and honor to him; as granting their requests more readily than if they withheld their incense; as regarding them with a partiality not extended to his lesser appreciative children. With such views, they naturally enough believe that governments, as well as individuals, may invoke special favor by special acts of adoration. To persons over thirty-five who entertain such views we have nothing to say. They will probably die as as they have lived, worshipping “the God of Israel,” and “knowing not the Father;” believing in days of national fasting and prayer, and sincerely expecting after such days to see some perceptible change in the public condition of the nation. But for those who are still open to conviction on such subjects, those who have not yet settled themselves in the ruts of prejudice, there is still hope. By studying the principles of our Government they may learn that the religious freedom established thereby is unlimited; that persons of every religion and persons of no religion are completely on a par as far as regards their civil rights, which would not be the case were this, in any sense of the word, “a Christian government.” Those who advocate this incipient connection between Church and State do not seem to distinguish between a Christian nation and a Christian government. Now it cannot be denied that we are, to a certain extent, a Christian nation, that is to say the majority of the inhabitants of the United States profess some form of Christianity; but it is difficult to see how this fact should be allowed to have any effect on our Government unless we adopt the monstrous dogma that the majority should rule in religion as well as in politics. As this dogma, carried out to its inevitable results, would justify all the instances of religious persecution that have ever darkened the page of history, there are few thinking minds that will not hesitate before accepting it.

In the historical instances cited by our correspondent, the mention of Turkey is rather unhappy, inasmuch as that country is certainly not an instance of the stability of a Christian government; nor is it very apparent how its having been concerned in the Crimean war is any proof of the inferiority in point of strength or durability of unchristian governments.

Neither is it consistent with truth to say that in that section of our country engaged in the rebellion, the principles of Christianity (which we presume is what is meant by the principles of Christian government) were disregarded. Candor toward the wicked leaders of this rebellion and their misguided followers compels us to admit that among both are to be found illustrious examples of what goes by the name of “Evangelical Christianity.” Not more zealously did Peter the Hermit urge his listeners to the “holy wars” than did the ministers of the South urge theirs to repel the infidel hordes of the North. With one hand on the Bible and the other on the auction block, they proclaimed slavery a divine institution, and denounced as unbelievers those who held otherwise. No; the rebels cannot be accused of disregarding the religion of the Bible as they understood it. They are a pious people. They believe in special providences-in a God of battles-a God who favors their nation and will confound their enemies; in short, in all those consoling views of the divine character so touchingly set forth in the Jewish history. Let them not be cited as an instance of an irreligious people.

The difference between “a recognition of Christianity and a prescription of the forms of religious worship” is of no consequence as regards the question at issue, for the Government, as such, has no business doing either. Because government and religion are both good things, there is no reason why they should be united. Such union, if we may believe history, has always resulted in the injury of both. America, notwithstanding the omission of the name of God in her Constitution, is generally acknowledged by all intelligent travellers who have turned their attention to this subject, to be distinguished for its religious character as a nation. De Tocqueville says: “There is no country in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America.” Admitting, then, that God favors Christian nations peculiarly, is it by the virtues of the people, or by a clause in the Constitution, that the claim to be a Christian character is to be decided? We think, not by the latter.

DECEMBER 26, 1864

Will it Succeed?

We think not.

The military and civil authorities of what was once the United States have for a long time been convinced that the subjugation, by force of arms, of the people of the Confederate States is an impossibility. Before the furious impetuosity of our patriotic soldiers, their immense armies have melted away like snow before the morning sun, and our Southern hills and plains have proven slaughter pens to their mercenary hordes. Finding that success “on that line” was an impossibility, the policy of starving the Southern States into submission to their hated domination was announced and adopted. From the time of announcement it has been persisted in with  more or less vigor, until within the past few months, when, it seems, the work has been prosecuted in good earnest, more vigorously, and over large tracts of territory. The widespread destruction worked by Sheridan in the once teeming Valley of the Shenandoah in Virginia, and the desolation which marks the track of Sherman’s army through Georgia, attest their determination.

Attempt after attempt has been made by strategy and the power of overwhelming numbers to capture the Confederate capital. Every attempt has failed; every general excepting the  one now impotently essaying to accomplish it, has been foiled by the great captain who heads our invincible hosts before that city, and been compelled to retire discomfited; and every army led to the deadly conflict has been defeated and routed. The great fact that Richmond cannot be captured by strategy or by numbers stands boldly out before the gaze of an admiring world; Yankeedom cannot deny or reason it away, and must devise some other means by which to reduce it. Starvation is to be the means–that they vainly suppose will accomplish what hundreds of thousands of lives, rivers of blood, and uncounted millions of treasure have failed to do.

As part and parcel of this hellish determination, Sheridan was sent on his devastating campaign up the Shenandoah, destroying every article of produce he could not use or remove, every implement of agriculture, and burning almost innumerable saw and grist mills, and whatever else could aid in subsisting the so-called rebel capital, and the glorious band of patriots that defiantly stand between it and the base mongrel mercenaries battering at its gates. How well he performed the atrocious work assigned him let published report reveal.

At a remoter distance from the coveted prize, but undoubtedly as an auxiliary  to the same great end, Sherman has accomplished a march through the great State of Georgia, from her North-western to her South-eastern extremity, tearing up railroads, despoiling the people, burning bridges, towns and cities, and burning or destroying whatever would subsist our people or armies, or aid in the production of subsistence for them in future.

By this bold move of Sherman, it was expected, no doubt, he would so cripple transportation as t cut off the supplies the enemy was aware were sent from Georgia and Alabama to the Army of Virginia; and which they suppose were necessary to the defence of Richmond. Hence the dreadful destruction of railroads, especially of the Georgia and Central. The Augusta and Savannah Road was injured but little, having been left, probably, to be used in operations contemplated against Augusta, in the event Savannah s captured. The permanent possession of these two cities, in connection with the possession of East Tennessee, might place the Army of Northern Virginia and the city of Richmond in a critical situation. But can the enemy hold all of these avenues? If they can, will that accomplish their object?

We think not.

As yet, as is proven by the sudden evacuation of Atlanta by Sherman, and his rapid flight to the coast, the enemy has not force enough in the field to hold the country he has overrun. To hold or capture one place, he is forced to abandon another. Those he abandons, he gives up for good, else he would not try to destroy, as in the case of Rome or Atlanta. Heretofore the Yankee armies have been made up mostly of Irish, Germans and other Europeans, imported for the purpose; the real Yankee resorting to all kinds of subterfuges to keep his own precious carcass out of harm’s way. The source of supply is failing–Europe refuses to send more men to the huge slaughter pen Lincoln has provided. The native Yankee is no more anxious to be shot at now than heretofore, and will not enter the army, and so the men to hold places captured will fail. Hence East Tennessee ad Eastern Georgia cannot be held, should the latter fall into the enemy’s hands.

But should we be mistaken, and, contrary to our opinion, the enemy be able to hold the country mentioned, would that secure the reduction and capture of Richmond by starving out its otherwise unconquerable defenders? We do not believe it would. We regret we have no statistics at command with which to strengthen our belief–but in the absence of them, we express the opinion that, when put to the test, it will be found that Virginia and North and South Carolina can and will produce all that is necessary to keep that gallant army alive and in fighting trim; standing in the future, as it has in the past, a living and insurmountable barrier to the accomplishment of the Yankee purpose. This gigantic attempt of Sherman to work at this great distance from the great central object, to starve Richmond into capitulation, will prove as futile as have all that have preceded it, and Lincoln and Grant and, through them, the universal Yankee nation, are doomed to mortifying disappointment.

Will they succeed? We think not.

DECEMBER 27, 1864

The Value of Sherman’s Christmas Present.

The president estimates the value of the cotton in Gen. Sherman’s Christmas present at eighteen millions of dollars–a sum not to be despised in these days of abundant and cheap money. The guns, ammunition, locomotives, ships and other confederate property taken by Sherman at Savannah add several millions more to the present. If Hardee’s force could also have been bagged they would have been worth something. But there was a break in Sherman’s line of investment on the east side of the city, and the rebel garrison found its way out, to appear again at Charleston or Wilmington.

Savannah itself, as a military position and a point of departure for future operations, is worth to us many times the value of the spoils taken there. It is now our port, and can be easily held by a comparatively small garrison and the fleet, while Sherman’s moveable column marches out to new conquests. Charleston is most immediately exposed, but it has much stronger defences on all sides than Savannah, and Sherman may not consider it worth while to sacrifice any men in an assault upon the place. He can soon compel its evacuation without striking a blow. Our fleet now holds the Savannah river, which is navigable up to Augusta. It will soon be cleared of torpedoes and other rebel obstructions, and Gen. Sherman can take Augusta and hold it permanently without any great difficulty. Possession of Augusta cuts off the only railroad connection left between Virginia and Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. The confederacy will thus again be severed, this time through its center. Augusta is 123 miles from Savannah; Charleston, 118. Georgia and South Carolina are opened to our armies. With a secure base, Gen. Sherman can strike out in any direction he chooses, and it would require an immense army–such an army as the rebels can never collect there–to prevent his commanding these two states as effectually as if their chief towns were garrisoned by his troops. That Charleston and Wilmington must both soon succumb to the joint operations of Sherman’s army and the fleet, it is reasonable to expect. Then where will Lee go from Richmond, or how will he stay there, with his supplies cut off, and our victorious armies closing in upon him? There are rumors of great commotion and despair at Richmond. We can well believe it. Within a month the rebels have lost nearly thirty thousand men, besides all the guns and other spoils taken by our troops. Three months more of such losses will bring them nearly to “the last man and the last dollar,” towards which they set their faces at the opening of the war.


Dark Days at the Rebel Capital.–The Richmond Whig has an article intended to inspire courage among that class of citizens, evidently large now in the South, who think this the darkest day the confederacy has yet seen, and can find no ray of hope. The Whig is like Job’s miserable comforters. All it can say is, that the confederacy has seen dark days before, and that it still lives. The Sentinel also acknowledges that it is a dark time for the confederacy, and the worst feature of it is the persistent attempt of public men and newspapers to destroy confidence in President Davis. It warns them that they will raise a storm they cannot control:

“It is far easier to raise the whirlwind than to direct the storm. It will be too late when mutinies shall have broken out all over the country, when combinations to resist the law shall be found in every neighborhood, when men shall refuse to honor the levies made upon them–it will be too late then, we say, for the persons who are now sowing the seed for such a harvest to subdue the evils they will have created. A people rent with local dissensions, neighbor warring with neighbor, loyal men and traitors everywhere intermixed, and the country falling an easy and inglorious prey to our enemies–such would be our state and our fate.” ->

The Sentinel continues this style of warning from day to day, with an earnestness which shows that it is not describing probable evils merely, but such as have already begun to fall upon the confederacy. In another article the Sentinel gives an account of the expedition against Wilmington, and, apparently despairing of human resistance being effectual, exclaims:

“If it should please heaven in its mercy to send a storm that would sink this armada in the depths of the seas, we would sing the song of Miriam.”


The Negroes in Georgia.–Just before his entrance into Milledgeville, Gen. Sherman encamped on one of the plantations of Howell Cobb. We found his granaries well filled with corn and wheat, part of which was distributed and eaten by our animals and men. A large supply of syrup made from sorghum, (which we have found at nearly every plantation on our march,) was stored in an out-house. This was also disposed of to the soldiers and the poor decrepit Negroes, whom this humane, liberty-loving major general left to die in this place a few days ago. Becoming alarmed, Cobb sent to that place and removed all the able-bodied mules, horses, cows and slaves. He left here some fifty old men, cripples, women and children, with clothing scarce enough to cover their nakedness, with little or no food and without means of procuring any. We found them cowering over the fireplaces of their miserable huts, where the wind whirled through the crevices between the logs, frightened at the approach of the Yankees, who, they had been told, would kill them. A more forlorn, neglected set of human beings I never saw.

Near Covington, one Judge Harris has a large plantation; before we arrived it was well stocked; I can’t answer for its condition afterward. A jollier set of Negroes I never saw than his when the blue-coats came along. Horrible stories of their cruelty to the Negroes were also told by their masters to frighten them, but the Negroes never put one word of faith in them. The Negroes were told that as soon as we got them into our clutches, they were put into the front of the battle, and we killed them if they did not fight; that we threw the women and children into the Chattahoochee, and when the buildings were burned in Atlanta, we filled them with Negroes, to be roasted and devoured by the flames.

In other parts of the South the Negroes I have seen seem to understand there is a man named Lincoln, who had the power to free them, and had exercised it. We have reached here a stratum of ignorance upon that subject. All knowledge of that nature has not only been kept from the blacks, but only a few of the whites are well informed. Gen. Sherman invites all able-bodied Negroes (others could not make the march) to join the column, and he takes especial pleasure when they join the procession, on some occasions telling them they are free; that Massa Lincoln has given them their liberty, and that they can go where they please; that if they earn their freedom they should have it–but that Massa Lincoln had given it to them anyhow.–Army Correspondence.

DECEMBER 28, 1864

The Slavery Question.

Some papers, both Democratic and abolition, are manifesting some uneasiness in regard to the future position of the Democratic party upon the question of slavery, in view of the probable success of the abolition scheme for amending the Constitution so as to nominally abolish slavery. These papers show that they have misunderstood and misrepresented the position of the Democratic party heretofore upon that subject. The abolition papers have falsely accused us of being the defenders of slavery per se; while the truth is the party never took any position upon the subject. Democrats opposed abolitionism not because of its proposed effect upon slavery, but because of its interference with State rights–not in defence of slavery, but in resistance to dangerous encroachments upon reserved rights which are far too important to white men to be surrendered, or even put in jeopardy, for the assumed benefit of the Negro. The fact that this assault upon State rights was nominally aimed at slavery, made its resistance appear, to unthinking minds, to be a defence of that institution. So if Congress should inaugurate a movement to abolish catholicism, opposition to the scheme would appear to be a defence of that creed, when in fact it would be defence of the great right of religious freedom, and would not necessarily involve any regard for or opinion as to that form of worship.

In allusion to remarks of the N. Y. World in regard to the future position of the Democratic party upon the slavery question, the Daily Union very truly says that “the Democratic party never made an issue upon the slavery question at all. It has no position to abandon or to assume in relation to that matter. It has held certain views in regard to the rights of States and individuals; but these were not based upon the fact of slavery, nor will theyh be changed by any other fact. We believe the Constitution to be right as it is. The Democratic party has held that the States are absolutely sovereign, except so far as they delegated their powers to the General Government. It is right that they should be. It is the great feature of our institutions–all, in fact, that affords any guarantee of perpetual freedom. We shall resist the encroachments of the Central Government upon the States, and of one State upon another. We shall resist any change in the Constitution, looking to the subversion of State Rights; and if such a change is effected, the Democratic party should never rest until the original principles of the Constitution are restored. It is not a question of Negro slavery or finance that most concerns us; but of civil liberty for white men.” And in reference to the proposed change of the Constitution, the Union tells Democrats that they should bear in mind that “the Constitution is well enough as it is, the most perfect form of government that ever emanated from the mind of man, and the only form by which a free government can be perpetuated; that no change accomplished by force of arms will, or ought to be, respected as the fundamental law; that the Southern people never will, and never ought to acquiesce in an attempt to compel them to fraternize with a barbarous race as political equals; that the men who demand this of them are intolerant, unwise and dangerous political empirics, whose leading aim has always been to abridge some of the functions of popular liberty; and that their present scheme is revolutionary, impracticable and wicked.”

This is all as true as the gospel, and we hope our people will reflect upon it. Democrats oppose the abolition scheme not because they care for slavery, but because they have a regard for the rights of States; not because it strikes slavery, but because it is a blow at State rights. This should be the answer of every Democrat when accused of upholding slavery. In opposing this scheme they oppose an encroachment upon the most important safeguards of personal rights and political freedom; and if they should consent to this scheme, they would permit the establishment of a precedent which would ultimately be made to excuse any and every step toward despotism.


Prize Money: The Profits of an Admiral.–The annual report of the Secretary of the Navy states that, after deducting the expenses, over $18,000,000 accrued as prize money resulting from the sale of condemned prizes, one-half of which goes to the Government. The Admirals commanding on the blockade have been Lee, Dahlgren, Farragut, Bailey and Porter. Their share of the unappropriated $7,500,000 will be $3,240,000. Lee, Dahlgren and Farragut will divide the larger portion of this, as few captures have been made by Bailey’s squadron, and Porter has only been in command of the North Atlantic squadron but a short time. The commander of the squadron off Wilmington will also realize a handsome sum–one-fifth of the grand aggregate, or $65,000.

Resistance to the Draft in Pennsylvania.–A serious encounter has taken place between the United States soldiery and the citizens of Clearfield county, Pennsylvania. It appears that many citizens of Clearfield county, who have been drafted under the various calls of the Government for troops, have refused to report themselves to the proper authorities after notification. They have secreted themselves from the officers of the law, and when finally drive to the wall, and the alternative presented of surrendering to lawful authority or forcible resistance, have chosen the latter, and conspired against the execution of the law. They have armed and organized for permanent resistance, having provided rude means for defence in their lone mountain fastnesses.

About two months ago a force of about two hundred Pennsylvania troops were sent into the county for the purpose of arresting these deserters. About the time of the Presidential election, a skirmish took place between the drafted men and the soldiers, in which one of the former was killed. The citizens were found to be so well organized and armed that it was thought best to send on reinforcements. Accordingly a detachment of the Reserve Corps was sent forward.

On Monday another encounter was had. The citizens were quartered in a house near Phillipsburg. Their surrender demanded by the military was replied to by a fierce fire of rifles and other arms. The ringleader was killed after a short fight, and nineteen of the party captured. Other and larger parties are entrenching themselves in the mountains, and more fighting may be expected.


Inequality of Taxation.–It is truly said that we are rapidly tending to a moneyed aristocracy. Even in England, where the nobility and the other men of wealth control legislation, the holders of securities of the Government have to bear their just proportion of taxes. But by the recent legislation of Congress, our wealthy men, and our banks, and other moneyed corporations, who invest their capital or moneys in United States stocks, payable in gold, giving them an income equal to from twelve to fifteen per cent premium, are exempt from all local taxation upon such investments. Hence the men of small means, the laboring class, farmers and mechanics, have to bear a very unequal share of the State and Town taxation. And the U. S. Government has further increased this inequality in the matter of raising troops. By resorting to drafts, instead of offering such bounties as will ensure volunteers, it compels the States and Towns to pay enormous bounties to relieve their citizens and to provide for their payment by local taxation, in which a large portion of the property of the rich is exempted! The result is to throw nearly the whole expense of recruiting for the army, as well as the expenses of the State, County and other localities, upon the industrial classes, for the special benefit of the moneyed aristocracy, who have invested their property in United States stocks, payable in gold. The contractors, those special favorites of the United States Government, who have made their millions by speculations upon the misfortunes of their country and have invested their enormous profits in United States stocks, are also exempted from all local taxation. And this unjust inequality is yearly increasing; and if the men of small means, our farmers, mechanics and laboring men would put a stop to and correct this growing evil, they should vote for only such men as will sternly and perseveringly oppose all measures tending to it, and who will labor for the repeal of all laws favoring or causing it.


Late War Items.

A rebel telegraph operator, who escaped from Richmond on the 23d and made his way to Gen. Grant’s headquarters, reported that intelligence had reached the rebel capital that Savannah had surrendered to Sherman with its entire garrison. There was also a report prevailing at the same time that Fort Fisher had been attacked and captured by the combined forces of Admiral Porter and Gen. Butler, but this report could not be traced to any reliable source. The people of Richmond are represented as being greatly depressed by the heavy disasters which have befallen their arms within the past few weeks.

The forces of rebel Gen. Lyons, estimated at 2,000 to 3,000 cavalry with six pieces of artillery, have been attempting mischief on the line of the Louisville and Nashville railroad. They struck the road at Elizabethtown and injured the bridge over a small stream called Bacon Creek. They then turned northward to operate against more important points.  Strong Union force is close in their rear, and it is supposed that the rebels will not be able to do much injury to the road.

We learn from Cairo that Gen. Dana has ordered all army ammunition and military pyrotechnics held by private citizens by military permission, to be shipped north of Cairo previous to the 1st of January. Persons found south of Cairo with such property, or materials used for their manufacture, after that date, will be arrested and imprisoned.

Dispatches from Nashville state that Hood’s pontoons and equipage have been captured, and that his cavalry have abandoned his wagon trains. One dispatch says the Tennessee is high and his pontoons have been swept away. Gen. Thomas’ headquarters were at Columbia, Tenn., and his troops were pressing Hood with fearful effect.

Sheridan is still troubling the rebels in the Shenandoah valley, and Gordonsville and the railroads leading out of Richmond in that direction are in danger.

Gov. Watt of Alabama has issued a stirring address, calling everybody to arms to defend Mobile from the danger threatened by the movements of our troops under Davidson.


The Movement Against Wilmington.–Richmond papers of Saturday contain official dispatches from Wilmington, dated Friday afternoon. At that time twenty-six ocean vessels had appeared off the place, but no attempt had been made to land troops or attack the forts, on account of the storm. Bragg was in command of the rebel forces, and the Richmond papers affected not to fear any movement of our land forces. Fort Fisher is the main obstacle to our approach to Wilmington by sea–and the rebels have doubtless greatly strengthened this and other defences. Two of the New York city dailies prematurely divulged the secret of our movement toward Wilmington, and it is probable that the rebels may have profited by it. If so, some one ought to suffer. It is reported that the Times and the Commercial Advertiser have been reprimanded by the War Department, and if they again trespass in like manner, are threatened with suspension. The parties who sent the information from Washington are said to be under arrest.


The two houses seem to have got fairly at work. In the Senate, the release of the St. Albans raiders has given occasion for animated discussion and a resolution providing a special army corps for the defence of our Northern frontier–and another resolution to furnish a list of ships and their value, destroyed by British cruisers, and to present the bill for payment to the English government. A bill has been introduced authorizing the building of six revenue cutters for service on the lakes, and the transferring of a gunboat to Liberia. A bill to free the wives and children of colored soldiers has been favorably reported on. Garrett Davis of Kentucky introduced a series of resolutions in the Senate for the restoration of peace and the Union, the principle points in which were the consolidation of New England into two states, a new method of choosing a president and vice president, a provision that no Negro shall be a citizen of the United States, that the habeas corpus shall never be suspended, and others equally feasible. A resolution has been introduced in the Senate for a tax on all sales, a higher tax on transportation companies, and forbidding any more new banks.

In the House a joint resolution has passed instructing the President to give notice to Canada of the termination of the reciprocity treaty. An order has been introduced requesting the proper authorities to look into into the expediency of providing for the protection of our frontier. Bills have been passed declaring that any alien of 21 years of age, who has been honorably discharged from the army and or navy, may become a citizen without previous declaration; and dropping all major and brigadier generals who have not been on duty three months prior to February 15.


Breckinridge Skedaddling.

The government has official dispatches stating that Breckinridge is flying before Stoneman and Burbridge in East Tennessee, and they are pressing his rear and flanks. The Union raid across the line into southwestern Virginia is confessed by the Richmond papers to be extensive and damaging.

Hood told his commanders to get their troops off as they could, and the retreat was a flight. Hood has a pontoon above the shoals on the Tennessee river, where our gunboats cannot reach them. Hood marched on Franklin with 40,000 men and 65 pieces of artillery. His loss during the campaign is 17,000 men, 51 cannon, and 18 general officers; killed at Franklin, 1400, wounded, 3800, and 1000 prisoners; before Nashville and in retreat from Columbia, 3000 killed and wounded and 8000 prisoners. The Union loss at Franklin was 2000, and before Nashville less than 4000. The total Union loss will not exceed 7000, with two generals slightly wounded.

DECEMBER 30, 1864

Summary of News.

The news from all quarters is inspiring. The rebellion is fast going down. Nothing can stay the progress of its decline. Sherman has closed his long and wonderful march by taking Savannah. Having had no severe battles since he left Atlanta, his army is in good working condition. We expect to hear soon that he is in possession of Augusta, and then we opine he will give Charleston a call.

Admiral Porter with his fleet, and Gen. Butler with his army, have gone to pay their respects to Wilmington, and the prospect is that that city will not much longer be the grand receptacle of foreign supplies for the rebel armies.

Gen. Thomas is in hot pursuit of Hood–Mr. Hood, as some of the papers call him–and what will be left of his army when Thomas has done with him, will be of “no account.”

Gen. Grant hangs on to Gen. Lee and will not let him go. There he is, in and around Richmond, powerless to help Hood, Hardee or Beauregard, so that Gens. Sherman and Thomas have but feeble opposition now to their movements.

The St. Albans raiders are having a tough time of it. Canada being unsafe for them, some of them have crossed the line, enlisted in the Federal army, have been detected and three of them lodged in the State’s prison at Concord, N. H., while several have been caught in Canada and are again on trial.

The rebel Congress at Richmond is fast becoming demoralized. Foote–known as Hangman Foot, on account of his threat to Senator Hale of New Hampshire some years ago–has seceded from that body and left in disgust, calling the rebellion a failure, and denouncing Mr. Jefferson Davis in very bitter words. A few weeks or months more, and men will ask, where is the grand Southern Confederacy? And echo will answer where?



The New York Incendiaries.–A significant advertisement appears in the Richmond papers, calling a meeting of the “Brotherhood,” and saying, “The failure of our employees to do their work recently with skill in the city of New York, makes it necessary for the Brotherhood to meet and concert measures for a more decisive execution of the great retaliatory duty which they have taken upon themselves at this juncture. Our own homes have been destroyed in violation of all the rules of war and we must make our ruthless enemy feel the weight of our justly aroused vengeance in the very centers of his resources and wealth. We can do it–do it effectually.”


Poisoning and Insanity as Affected by the War.–An eminent analytical chemist who, before the war, was called to make analysis in cases of murder by poisoning as often as ten or twelve times yearly, states that since the beginning of the war, but two cases have come to his notice. A celebrated physician, occupying a high official position in this State, says that since the beginning of the war, there has been a remarkable decrease in cases of insanity among women, attributed by him to the various charitable and benevolent operations occasioned by the war, which have excited the sympathies and received the support of women.

Removal of the State Capital of Illinois.

The newspapers are discussing the propriety of removing the State Capitol from Springfield, Ill., to some other point. The discussion thus far seems to have been confined to those of them that favor the project. The Peoria papers are decidedly in favor of removing it to that place. The Decatur papers want it there. The Jacksonville papers think it should be removed to the vicinity of the insane hospital, while the Joliet papers contend that if the capitol is removed it should by all means be taken to the neighborhood of the State penitentiary. To all of which the Springfield Journal savagely objects, maintaining that the State capitol should remain where the poorest whiskey in the United States can be found in the largest quantities.–Chicago Post.


The Fenian Brotherhood.–The Irishmen all over the country are organizing “circles” of this Brotherhood. The object of this secret organization is declared to be the redemption of Ireland from English rule by force of arms. It is said that there are 100,000 men in Ireland thoroughly drilled in the secret meetings, who only want arms and the signal to strike for Irish independence. The object of the society in this country is to furnish these men with arms, so that when the moment comes for action they can be as well equipped as the men England will send against them. It is urged by those who are active in these organizations that whatever is to be done must be done soon, as the increasing emigration from Ireland threatens to depopulate that country of Irishmen in a few years. England is now weak. She refused against a strong pressure to engage in the war in Denmark, because she was too weak to do so; and according to the Army and Navy Gazette, in case of a European war, she could put but 45,000 regular troops into the field, and that she could not do in less than three months.


The Sandwich Islands.

The ratification of the reciprocity treaty with the Sandwich Islands, brought here by their diplomatic agent, Hon. Elisha R. Allen, is warmly advocated by those interested in the future prosperity of that ocean child of our Republic. Just now, British influence is in the ascendancy there, as Prince Lot, who has assumed the sovereignty, is governed by missionaries and merchants from England, but the adoption of a reciprocity treaty would, it is said, restore the ancient supremacy of the United States over the islands.

On the other hand, the adoption of a reciprocity treaty will admit into our Pacific States and Territories large quantities of sugar, molasses, rice and other natural products of the Sandwich Islands, free of duty. This loss to the revenue was a prominent cause of the desire of the House to abrogate the reciprocity treaty with the British Provinces, and it may prevent the ratification of the treaty brought here by Mr. Allen. He, by the way, is a native of Salem, Mass., who moved to Maine, from which State he was a Representative in Congress in 1841-43. In 1849, he went as U. S. Consul to Honolulu, and afterward became Chancellor of the Sandwich Islands, which he now represents here as Minister Plenipotentiary.

DECEMBER 31, 1864


Official Report and Full Particulars.
Report by Admiral Porter.

North Atlantic Squadron,
U. S. Flagship Malvern, at Sea, off New Inlet, Dec. 26, 1864.

SIR: I was in hopes I should have been able to present to the nation Fort Fisher and surrounding works as a Christmas offering, but I am sorry to say it has not been taken yet.

Previous to making the attack, a torpedo on a large scale, with an amount of powder on board supposed to be sufficient to explode the powder magazines of the fort, was prepared with great care and placed under the command of Commander A. C. Rhind, who had associated with him on this perilous service Lieutenant S. W. Preston, Second Assistant Engineer A. T. E. Mullin, of the U. S. S. Agawam, and Acting Masters Mate Paul Boyden, and seven men. So much had been said and written about the terrible effects of gunpowder in an explosion that happened lately in England that great results were expected from this novel mode of making war. Everything that ingenuity could devise was adopted to make the experiment a success. The vessel was brought around from Norfolk with great care and without accident, in tow of the U. S. S. Sassacus, Lieutenant-Commander J. L. Davis, who directed his whole attention to the matter in hand, and though he experienced some bad weather and lost one of his rudders, he took her safely into Beaufort, where we filled her up with powder and perfected all the machinery for blowing her up.

General Butler had arrived at the rendezvous before us, and I hastened matters all that I could, so that no unnecessary delay might be laid to my charge.

On the 18th instant I sailed from Beaufort with all the monitors, New Ironsides, and small vessels, including the Louisiana, designed as a blockade runner, for the rendezvous, 20 miles east of New Inlet, North Carolina, and found all the larger vessels and transports assembled there, the wind blowing light from the N. E.

On the 20th a heavy gale set in from S. W., and not being able to make a port without scattering all the vessels, I determined to ride it out, which I did, without any accident of any kind, except the loss of a few anchors, the monitors and all behaving beautifully. Only two vessels went to sea to avoid the gale, and fared no better than those at anchor. The transports being short of water, put into Beaufort, N. C., and were not suitable for riding out at anchor such heavy weather.

After the southwester the wind chopped around to the westward and gave us a beautiful spell of weather, which I could not afford to lose, and the transports with the troops not making their appearance, I determined to take advantage of it and attack Fort Fisher and its outworks.

On the 23d I directed Commander Rhind to proceed and explode the vessel right under the walls of Fort Fisher, Mr. Bradford, of the Coast Survey, having gone in at night and ascertained that we could place a vessel of 7 feet draft right on the edge of the beach. Lieutenant R. H. Lamson, commanding Gettysburg, volunteered to go in, in the Wilderness, Acting Master Henry Arey in command, and tow the Louisiana into position, having assisted in the gale in taking care of the Louisiana after she and the Nansemond (the vessel having her in tow) had lost all their anchors. At 10:30 p. in. the powder vessel started in toward the bar, and was towed by the Wilderness until the embrasures of Fort Fisher were plainly in sight. The Wilderness then cast off and the Louisiana proceeded under steam until within 200 yards from the beach and about 400 from the fort. Commander Rhind anchored her securely there, and coolly went to work to make all his arrangements to blow her up. This he was enabled to do owing to a blockade runner going in right ahead of him, the forts making the blockade runner signals, which they also did to the Louisiana. The gallant party, after coolly making all their arrangements for the explosion, left the vessel, the last thing they did being to set her on fire under the cabin. Then taking to their boats, they made their escape off to the Wilderness, lying close by. The Wilderness then put offshore with good speed, to avoid any ill effects that might happen from the explosion.

At forty-five minutes past one on the morning of the 24th the explosion took place, and the shock was nothing like so severe as was expected. It shook the vessels some, and broke one or two glasses, but nothing more.

At daylight of the 24th the fleet got underway and stood in in line of battle. At 11:30 a. m. the signal was made to engage the forts, the Ironsides leading, and the Monadnock, Canonicus, and Mahopac following. The Ironsides took her position in the most beautiful and seamanlike manner, got her spring out, and opened deliberate fire on the fort, which was firing at her with all its guns, which did not seem numerous in the N. E. face, though we counted what appeared to be 17 guns; but 4 or 5 of these were fired from that direction, and they were silenced almost as soon as the Ironsides opened her terrific battery.

The Minnesota then took her position in handsome style, and her guns after getting the range were fired with rapidity, while the Mohican, Colorado, and the large vessels marked on the plan got to their stations, all firing to cover themselves while anchoring. By the time the last of the large vessels anchored and got their batteries into play but one or two guns of the enemy were fired, this feu d’enfer 1 driving them all to their bombproofs.

The small gunboats Kansas, Unadilla, Pequot, Seneca, Pontoosuc, Yantic, and Huron taking a position to the northward and eastward of the monitors and enfilading the works. The Shenandoah, Ticonderoga, Mackinaw, Tacony, and Vanderbilt took effective positions, as marked on the chart, and added their fire to that already begun. The Santiago de Cuba, Fort Jackson, Osceola, Chippewa, Sassacus, Rhode Island, Monticello, Quaker City, and Iosco dropped into position, according to order, and the battle became general.

In one hour and fifteen minutes after the first shot was fired not a shot came from the fort; two magazines had been blown up by our shells and the fort set on fire in several places, and such a torrent of missiles were falling into and bursting over it that it was impossible for anything human to stand it.

Finding that the batteries were silenced completely, I directed the ships to keep up a moderate fire in hopes of attracting the attention of the transports and bringing them in.

At sunset General Butler came in in his flagship with a few transports, the rest not having arrived from Beaufort. Being too late to do anything more, I signaled the fleet to retire for the night to a safe anchorage, which they did without being molested by the enemy.

There were some mistakes made this day when the vessels went in to take position. My plan of battle being based on accurate calculations, and made from information to be relied on, was placed in the hands of each commander, and it seemed impossible to go astray if it was strictly followed. I required those vessels that had not followed it closely to get underway and assume their proper position, which was done promptly and without confusion. The vessels were placed somewhat nearer to the works, and were able to throw in their shell, which were before falling into the water. One or two leading vessels having made the mistake of anchoring too far off, caused those coming after them to commit a like error, but when they all got into place and commenced work in earnest the shower of shell (115 per minute) was irresistible. So quickly were the enemy’s guns silenced that not an officer or man was injured.

I regret, however, to have to report some severe casualties by the bursting of 100-pounder Parrott cannon. One burst on board the Ticonderoga, killing 6 of the crew and wounding 7 others; another burst on board the Yantic, killing 1 officer and 2 men; another on the Juniata, killing 2 officers and wounding and killing 10 others; another on the Mackinaw, killing 1 officer and wounding 5 others (men); another on the Quaker City, wounding, I believe, 2 or 3; another on the Susquehanna, killing and wounding 7, I think. The bursting of the guns (six in all) much disconcerted the crews of the vessels where the accidents happened, and gave one and all a great distrust of the Parrott 100-pounders, and (as subsequent events proved) they were unfit for service, and calculated to kill more of our men than those of the enemy.

Some of the vessels were struck once or twice. The Mackinaw had her boiler perforated with a shell and 10 or 12 per-sons were badly scalded. The Osceola was struck with a shell near her magazine, and was at one time in a sinking condition, but her efficient commander stopped up the leak, while the Mackinaw fought out the battle, notwithstanding the damage she received. The Yantic was the only vessel that left the line to report damages.  

Commander John Guest, at the east end of the line, showed his usual intelligence in selecting his position and directing his fire. Twice his guns cut down the flagstaff on the Mound battery, and he silenced the guns there in a very short time, the Keystone State and Quaker City cooperating effectively. ->

Lieutenant-Commander J. L. Davis, with b0th rudders disabled, got his vessel, the Sassacus, into close action and assisted materially in silencing the works, and the Santiago de Cuba and Fort Jackson took such positions as they could get owing to other vessels not forming proper lines, and throwing them out of place and fought their guns well.

The taking of a new position while under fire by the Brooklyn and Colorado was a beautiful sight, and when they got into place both ships delivered a fire that nothing could withstand. The Brooklyn well sustained her proud name under her present commander, Captain James Alden, and the Colorado gave evidence that her commander, Commodore M. K. Thatcher, fully understood the duties of his position. The Susquehanna was most effective in her fire, and was fortunate enough to obtain the right position, though much bothered by a vessel near her that had not found her right place.

The Mohican went into battle gallantly, amid fired rapidly and with effect, and when the Powhatan, Ticonderoga, and Shenandoah got into their positions they did good service. The Pawtuxet fell handsomely into line and did good service with the rest, and the Vanderbilt took position near the Minnesota and threw in a splendid fire.

The firing of the monitors was excellent, and when their shells struck great damage was done, and the little gunboats that covered them kept up a fire sufficient to disconcert the enemy’s aim.

The rebels fired no more after the vessels all opened on them, excepting a few shots from the Mound and upper batteries, which the Iosco and consorts soon silenced.

Our men were at work at the guns five hours, and glad to get a little rest. They came out of action with rather a contempt for rebel batteries and anxious to renew the battle in the morning.

On the 25th (Christmas) all the transports had arrived, and General Butler sent General Weitzel to see me and arrange the programme for the day. It was decided that we should attack the forts again while the army landed and assaulted them, if possible, under our heavy fire.  I sent seventeen gunboats under command of Captain O. S. Glisson to cover the troops and assist with their boats in landing the soldiers. Finding the smaller vessels kept too far from the beach, which was quite bold, I sent in the Brooklyn to set them an example, which that vessel did, relying, as every commander should, on the information I gave him in relation to the soundings. To this number was added all the small vessels that were covering the coast along, and finally I sent some eight or lime vessels that were acting under Commander Guest in endeavoring to find a way across the bar. This gave a hundred small boats to land the troops with besides those the army were already provided with about twenty more.

At seven a.m. on the 25th I made signal to get underway mid form in line of battle, which was quickly done, the order to attack was given, and the Ironsides took position in her usual handsome style, the monitors following close after her. All the vessels followed according to order, and took position without a shot being fired at them, excepting a few shots fired at the four last vessels that got into line. The firing this day was slow, only sufficient to amuse the enemy while time army landed, which they were doing 5 miles to time eastward of the fleet. I suppose about 3,000 men had landed when 1 was notified they were reembarking. I could see our soldiers near the forts reconnoitering and sharpshooting, and was in hopes an assault was deemed practical.

General Weitzel in person was making observations about 600 yards off, and the troops were in and around the works. One gallant officer, whose name I do not know, went on the parapet and brought away the rebel flag we had knocked down. A soldier went into the works and led out a horse, killing time orderly mounted on him and taking his dispatches from the body. Another soldier fired his musket into the bombproof among the rebels, and eight or ten others who had ventured near the forts were wounded by our shells.

As the ammunition gave out the vessels retired from action, and the ironclads and Minnesota, Colorado, and Susquehanna were ordered to open rapidly, which they did with such effect that it seemed to tear the works to pieces. We drew off at sunset, leaving the ironclads to fire through the night, expecting the troops would attack in the morning, when we would commence again. I received word from General Weitzel informing me that it was impractical to assault, and herewith inclose a letter  from General Butler assigning his reasons for withdrawing the troops. I also enclose my answer.

In the bombardment of the 25th the men were engaged firing slowly for seven hours. The rebels kept a couple of guns on the upper batteries firing on the vessels, hitting some of them several times without doing much damage. The Wabash and Powhatan being within their range, the object seemed mainly to disable them, but a rapid fire soon closed them up. Everything was coolly and systematically done throughout the day, and I witnessed some beautiful practice.

The army commenced landing about 2 o’clock, Captain Glisson, in the Santiago de Cuba, having shelled Flag Pond battery to insure a safe landing, and they commenced to reembark about 5 o’clock, the weather coming on thick and rainy. About a brigade was left on the beach during the night, covered by the gunboats. As our troops landed 65 rebel soldiers hoisted the white flag and delivered themselves up and were taken prisoners by the seamen landing the troops and conveyed to the Santiago de Cuba. Two hundred and eighteen more gave themselves up to the reconnoitering party, all being desirous to quit the war.

I don’t pretend to put my opinion in opposition to General Weitzel, who is a thorough soldier and an able engineer, and whose business it is to know more of assaulting than I do, but I can’t help thinking that it was worth while to make the attempt after coming so far.

About 12 o’clock I sent in a detachment of double-enders, under Commander John Guest, to see if I could effect an entrance through the channel. The great number of wrecks in and about the bar has changed the whole formation, and where the original channel was we found a shallow bar. I sent Lieutenant W. B. Cushing in to sound and buoy out a channel, if he could find one, with orders to Commander Guest to drag for torpedoes and be ready to run in by the buoys when ordered. One boat belonging to the Tacony was sunk by a shell, and a man had his leg cut off. Still they stuck to their work until ordered to withdraw for other duty. The examination was not at all satisfactory. A very narrow and crooked channel was partly made out and buoyed, but running so close to the upper forts that boats could not work there. Lieutenant Cushing went in in his boat as far as Zeeks Island, but his researches would not justify my attempting the passage with six double-enders, some of which had burst their rifled Parrott guns and injured many of their men.

As it was getting late and the troops were making slow progress in landing, I withdrew the vessels and boats that were searching for the channel and sent them to help land the troops; otherwise we might have succeeded in buoying it out, though it was a difficult thing for the boats to work under the fire of the upper batteries.

I have not yet received a list of the casualties, but believe they are very few from the enemy’s guns.

We had killed and wounded about 45 persons by the bursting of the Parrott guns. I beg leave to suggest that no more be introduced into the service. There is only one kind of firing at close quarters that is effective, and that is from the IX, X, and XI inch guns; they can not be equaled.

Until further orders I shall go on and hammer away at the forts, hoping that in time the people in them will get tired and hand them over to us. It is a one-sided business altogether, and in the course of time we must dismount their guns, it; as General Weitzel says, we can not injure it as a defensive work. The Government may also think it of sufficient importance to undertake more serious operations against these works. An army of a few thousand men investing it would soon get into it with the aid of the navy. When smooth water permits I will go to work looking for a channel over the bar, which has not yet been found to my satisfaction.

There are about 1,000 men left on shore by the army who have not been gotten off yet on account of the surf on the beach; these will be gotten off in the morning and the soldiers will then be sent home.

I enclose general order for the attack.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

David D. Porter,

Hon. Gideon Welles,
Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.

1 Feu d'enfer, literally "hellfire," is a French military term used by Napoleon where massive artillery/cannon fire would be concentrated on a small and specific area of the enemy lines prior to a ground assault.

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