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138

NO EXCHANGE OF PRISONERS.

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and traitors suddenly felt themselves enveloped in mysterious danger. Newspapers were stopped, and an era of despotic power seemed about to be inaugurated. To all these measures the people submitted quietly, feeling that self-preservation was the first law of nations, as well as of nature. Confiscation of rebel property was proclaimed, and the government seemed determined to strike wherever there was a prospect of planting a successful blow. Peace meetings had been called after the battle of Bull Run, and leading papers and men in Congress proposed terms of accommodation. These were now no more heard of. About this time a serious difficulty arose respecting the treatment of prisoners

. Our ernment endeavored to carry out the theory that the southern confederacy, being nothing more than an organized rebellion, it could not be recognized so far as to treat with it for exchange of prisoners. To do so would be a concession that far outweighed in importance the fate of our brave officers and soldiers in the rebel hands. This question now became still more embarrassed, as the south had resolved to treat our Inen precisely as we treated the crew of the privateer Savan nah, whom we had incarcerated as pirates, and threatened to hang as such. Davis imprisoned man for man, and declared he would hang man for man. Our indignation had been aroused because England had recognized the rebels as belligerents, and the government endeavored to avoid doing anything which might be construed into a similar recognition. While it professed to act on this hypothesis, it treated rebel officers taken in battle with more courtesy than is usually extended to prisoners of war. It conformed to every other rule of war except that of exchange of prisoners. This course was looked upon by a portion of the people as unreasonable, while all lamented the sufferings and dreary imprisonment it entailed on our soldiers captured by the enemy.

In the mean time, McClellan went steadily on with his

QUELLING A MUTINY,

159

herculean task. The way he disposed of a mutiny in the Seventy-ninth New York regiment the middle of this month, gave the country and the army a hint that set both thinking. He drew up infantry and cavalry around them, and planting loaded cannon in their front, gave them their choice, submission, obedience, or the fire of a battery within pistol shot. Volunteers, men who, of their own free will, had gone to the field for the defense of their country, did not believe he dare resort to such extreme measures. The lesson was a wholesome one, and saved much future trouble.

The reports that from time to time through the Summer reached the country of the capture of American merchantmen by the southern privateers, caused much excitement and alarm, especially in New York city. The utmost efforts of our cruisers failed to capture them. The Sumter and Jeff. Davis were commanded by bold, skillful sailors, and moved from point to point with astonishing celerity. At last the Jeff. Davis met her fate on the Florida coast, on which she was driven in a storm, and became a total wreck.

A fight at Summerville, Western Virginia, where Colonel Tyler with his regiment was surprised and surrounded while at breakfast, and had to cut their way out with the loss of two hundred men, and some fierce combats in northern Missouri, between the Union citizens and rebel forces, were all the movements in the field in the interior that marked the closing days of August. The veteran Wool, who had been kept from active service by some political management, and was at last ordered to the field only on the peremptory demand of Governor Morgan, took command of fortress Monroe, and the country felt assured that that department, at least, would be well taken care of. Captain Foote also was ordered to the command of the naval forces on the western rivers. A large fleet of gun boats was under contract, and when they were finished it was believed that he, with such

140

CAPE HATTERAS TAKEN.

commanders as Porter, son of the hero of the Essex, and others, would soon clear the Mississippi to New Orleans.

FIGHT AT CAPE HATTERAS.

In the mean time, a naval and military expedition, under the command of Commodore Stringham and General Butler, sailed from Hampton Roads (August 26th) to atiаck the rebel fortifications on Cape Hatteras. The inlet here had long been a lurking place for privateers, and a highway for small craft carrying contraband goods to the enemy. The naval force consisted of the flag-ship Minnesota and four other national vessels, beside transports ; and the land force of about nine hundred men. Arriving off Hatieras, an attempt was made to land the troops, but on account of the heavy surf, only three hundred and fifteen could be got ashore, with a twelve-pound rifle gun, and a twelve-pound howitzer. Two forts had been erected here--Clark and Hatteras-manned by some six hundred men, commanded by Captain Barron, recently of the United States navy. The latter was immediately evacuated, and the guns spiked. Night coming on, and the wind rising, the vessels had to secure an offing, thus leaving the little band on shore to its sate. A part encamped in the works, and the rest bivouaced on the open beach. The next morning the vessels moved up in front of the remaining fort, and opened fire; and soon the shells were bursting in and around the doomed fortification. Being some two miles off, the shot of the enemy cuuia noi reach them; and the rebels seeing their helpless condition, at eleven o'clock hauled down their tlag, when Barton came aboard the flag-ship and surrendered his entire command. Twenty-five pieces of artillery, a thousand stand of arms, and a large quantity of ordnance stores, provisions, etc., fell into our hands. The victors immediately returned

FREMONT'S PROCLAMATION.

141

with their trophies to receive the ovation of the people. The loud laudation of this enterprise, as well as the importance given to every skirmish which was magnified into a battle, showed how keenly the north felt the defeat at Bull Run. Indeed, our successes were so few that we needed to magnify them to keep up any courage.

If the expedition had been properly fitted out, so that after the forts were captured it could have kept on into Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds, and made a descent on the unprotected coast of North Carolina, great results might have followed. But the vessels drew too much water to allow them to go over the bar, -besides the orders of the Secretary of the Navy were to return immediately after the one object was effected.

The last of August was signalized by a proclamation of Fremont, declaring martial law in Missouri, and that under the decree of confiscation the slaves were free. It caused great excitement in Kentucky and throughout the country; for it was looked upon as the entering wedge to general emancipation. Great pressure was brought to bear upon the President to disavow it, for fears were entertained that it would utterly destroy the Union cause in the border states. There was probably some truth in this, at any rate the President directed Fremont to modify his proclamation. Perhaps it.was good policy to do so under the existing circumstances, but the latter must have been puzzled to know what the government meant by its confiscation scheme, unless it designed to embrace all the property of rebels, and it would be difficult to see what it could do with confiscated slaves but to give them their freedom.

Events were slowly dragging the most important elements of the struggle into the Valley of the Mississippi; and Kentucky evidently would soon become important battle ground. Governor Magoffin had addressed a letter to the President,

142

MARCH OF ROSECRANS.

requesting him to withdraw Federal troops from the boundaries of the state. This he declined to do, and soon after, in the early part of September, General Polk issued a proclamation, in which, after stating that the presence of Federal troops opposite Columbus threatened the occupation of that important place, he declared he should at once take possession of it, and did. The southern confederacy had made up its mind to hold Kentucky. in spite of its Union vote. Of course Columbus and Hickman could not be held alone, flanked as they were by the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers. The possession of a position on the Mississippi necessitated the occupation of other points inland, --in fact, of a line of intrenched camps reaching to the Alleghanies.

In Western Virginia the success that had marked the career of McClellan still continued to follow his lieutenants in the field. Rosecrans was a worthy successor to him in that department. The rebels, though driven out of the valley, had not abandoned the design of getting possession of it, and a new army, under the notorious Floyd, was sent thither. He took position at Carnifex ferry, on the Gauley river, and there strongly intrenched himself. Rosecrans iminediately moved towards his stronghold to give him battle. For more than a week he led his column through the broken country, and along the difficult roads of the mountain region. Now following the bed of the torrent, and now climbing by a tortuous road, a rugged hight, dragging their heavy cannon after them, the dauntless soldiers toiled uncomplainingly forward, and at last reached the highest mountain summit, from which east and west, spread a glorious panorama—the successive ridges of the forest-clad mountains rolling away in green billows, till they lost themselves in the dim horizon. Winding down the mountain they encountered a body of cavalry which they dispersed. Night came on as they reached the valley, and lighting their bivouac fires, which shed a feeble light in

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