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224

POSSESSION OF THE TEXAN HARBORS.

1863.

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Nov. 30.

Christi Bay, from which a force, under General T. E. G. Ransom, went to

the Aranzas Pass, farther up the coast, and by a gallant assault® • Nov. 18,

carried the Confederate works there, and captured one hundred

prisoners. Corpus Christi was occupied by National troops the same day. Then a force, under General Washburne (then commanding the Thirteenth Army Corps), moved upon Pass Cavallo, at the entrance to Matagorda Bay, where the Confederates had a strong fort, called Esperanza, garrisoned by two thousand men of all arms. It was invested, and, after a

sharp action, the Confederates blew up their magazine and fled,

most of the garrison escaping. These important conquests, achieved in the space of a month, promised a speedy closing of the coast of Texas to blockade-runners, and great advantage to the Union cause in that region. No place of importance on that coast was now left to the Confederates, excepting at the mouth of the Brazos and on Galveston Island, at each of which they had formidable works; and a greater portion of their troops in Texas, commanded by General Magruder, were concentrated on the coast, between Houston, Galveston, and Indianola. Banks was anxious to follow up his successes by moving on Indianola, on the west side of Matagorda Bay, or upon Matagorda, at the. mouth of the Colorado. This would have brought him into collision with a greater portion of Magruder's troops. He did not feel strong enough to undertake a task so perilous. He asked for re-enforcements, but they could not be furnished, and at about the close of the year he returned to New Orleans, leaving General Dana on the Rio Grande. That officer sent a force more than a hundred miles up that river, and another toward Corpus Christi, but they found no armed Confederates; and when, by order of General

Banks, he left the Rio Grande and took post at Pass Cavallo, he found some National troops in quiet possession of Indianola and

of the Matagorda Peninsula, on the opposite side of the bay. The Confederates had withdrawn to Galveston; and all Texas, west of the Colorado, was abandoned by them. With a small additional force Banks might have driven them from Galveston, and secured a permanent military occupation of the State,

It remains for us now, in considering the military events west of the Mississippi, to the close of 1863, only to take a glance at the trouble with the Indians, toward the head-waters of that stream, in the State of Minnesota. As these troubles had no immediate connection with the war, further than in drawing some troops from the grand theaters of strife, we must be content with only a brief passing note of the events.

At midsummer, 1862, bands of the warlike Sioux Indians, in the State of Minnesota, made open war upon the white people in that region. It is not positively known by what special motive, or under what particular influence they were impelled; and the suspicion that they were incited to hostilities by emissaries of the Conspirators, with the hope of thereby causing a large number of troops fighting the rebellion to be drawn away to a distant point, rests only upon conjecture. The fact is, that a Sioux chief, named Little Crow, a most saintly-looking savage in civilized costume, was the most conspicuous of the leaders in the inauguration of the war, by the butchery of the white inhabitants at Yellow Medicine, New Ulm, and Cedar City, in

• Jan. 12,

1864.

WAR WITH THE SIOUX INDIANS.

220

• 1862.

Feb. 25,

1863.

• 1863.

Minnesota, in August and September," and at outposts beyond the boundaries of that State. For nine days in October the Indians besieged Fort Ridgeley. Fort Abercrombie was also besieged, and twice assaulted by the savages; and in that region they butchered about five hundred white inhabitants, consisting mostly of defenseless women and children.

General II. H. Sibley, with a body of militia, was sent to crush the Indians, but the latter were too numerous to suffer more than partial disasters here and there. Sıbley attacked a large force of Indians, under Little Crow, at Wood Lake, and drove them into Dakota, with a loss of five hundred of their number made prisoners. These were tried by court-martial, and three hundred of them were found guilty and sentenced to be hanged. Their execution was stayed by the President. Finally, thirtyseven of the worst offenders were hanged at Markato, and the remainder were released. But the “Sioux War” was not ended until the following summer, when General Pope took command of the Department, picketed the line of settlements in the far Northwest with two thousand soldiers, and took vigorous measures to disperse the hostile bands. In June, Sibley moved westward from Fort Snelling, and General Sully went up the Missouri River to co-operate with him. Both fought and drove the savages at different places, and finally scattered them among the wilds of the eastern slopes of the spurs of the Rocky Mountains.'

Our horror and indignation because of the atrocities committed from time to time by the savage tribes on the borders of civilization, should be somewhat tempered by the reflection, that these may be logical and righteous retributions for wrongs committed by the Government in its dealings with the Indians, which, unfortunately, fall upon individuals. It is believed that the origin of nine-tenths of the troubles with the Indians may be traced directly to the agents of the Government in their dealings with these ignorant and confiding children of the forest. Such being the acknowledged fact, the important question arises, whether it would not be wiser and more humane to incorporate all the nations and tribes of Indians into the body politic of each State and Territory in which they exist, and hold each individual amenable to the laws, as a citizen. An army of officials might thus be dispensed with, the chief causes of irritation be removed, and the work of civilizing and Christianizing of the savages be greatly facilitated.

· Little Crow, the “foremost hunter and orator" of the Sioux, was shot near Hutchinson, in Minnesota, by Mr. Lamson, while the chief was picking blackberries. His skeleton is preserved in the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society. It is said that Little Crow (whose Indian name was Tah-o-ab-ta-doo-tah, “his scarlet preople ") was urged into making war against bis better judgment For a full account of this "Indian trouble," see History of the Sioux War, by Isuac V. D. Heard.

VOL. III.-93

226

THE NATIONAL FINANCES.

CHAPTER VIII,

CIVIL AFFAIRS IN 1868.-MILITARY OPERATIONS BETWEEN THE MOUNTAINS AND THE

MISSISSIPPI RIVER.

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EFORE proceeding to a consideration of military affairs in 1864, let us take a brief glance at the aspect of civil affairs at the beginning of that year.

The management of the finances of the nation was yet in the able hands of Secretary Chase; and so fully did the people and Congress confide in his judgment and patriotism, that his suggestions were generally

accepted as eminently wise, and the measures he proposed were usually carried into execution. From the day when he assumed the duties of Minister of Finance, and his plans began to develop, the public credit became stronger every hour; and at the time we are considering, when the public debt had reached the appalling sum of over a thousand million dollars, the great war in full career, and that debt increasing enormously every day, the public credit, especially among the people of this country, had never stood higher. “The history of the world,” said the Secretary, a year later, when he had been fully sustained by the people, “may be searched in vain for a parallel case of popular financial support to a National Government."

When Congress met in December, 1862, Secretary Chase laid before them a statement and estimate which would have appalled the representatives of a less hopeful people. He reported, that, on account of greatly increased expenditures, there remained a balance of disbursements to the amount of nearly two hundred and seventy-seven million dollars, for which provision must be made; and he asked for an additional sum to meet the estimated expenditures of the Government to the close of the fiscal year, at the end of June, 1864, which would make the whole sum to be provided for, for the next eighteen months, more than nine hundred million dollars. The important question, How is this vast sum to be provided ? had to be met. Tbe able Minister of Finance was ready with an answer. Keeping in mind the four objects in view which had controlled his action up to that time, namely, “ moderate interest, general distribution, future controllability, and incidental utility,” he now renewed propositions which he had already made, and recommended two immediate measures of safety, in connection with a

1

1 Annual Report, December, 1863.

? The National debt on the first of July, 1863, was $1,098,793,181. It was estimated that at the same period in 1864 it would be $1,686,956,190. The average rate of interest on the whole debt, without regard to the varying margin between coin and notes, had been reduced from 4-86 per cent., on the first of July, 1862, to 3.77 per cent. on the first of July, 1863.

FINANCIAL MEASURES.

227

1864.

► March 3.

scheme for establishing a system of National bank paper. One of these was to drive home, by a tax, the State bank paper circulation, and the other was the funding of Government notes.

The Secretary proposed a moderate tax on the State bank circulation ; that no issue of Government notes beyond the limits authorized should be made, unless a clear public exigency should demand it; the organization of banking associations for the improvement of the public credit, and to supply the public with a safe and uniform currency; and the repeal of restrictions concerning the conversion of certain Government bonds. To these propositions Congress responded, first by authorizing an additional issue of $100,000,000 of Government notes; then by an act, ap

* January 17, proved on the 25th of February, to provide a National currency through a National banking system ; then by another, approved on the last day of the session, authorizing the Secretary to issue $300,000,000 for the current fiscal year, and $600,000,000 for the next fiscal year, ending June 30, 1864. These amounts were to be issued in “ 10-40' bonds, at six per cent. interest, both principal and interest to be paid in coin. The Secretary was authorized to exchange the same for certificates of indebtedness or deposit, any Treasury notes or lawful money of the United States. He was also authorized to issue $400,000,000 of six per cent. Treasury notes, payable within three years, to be a legal tender for their face value, excluding interest, and exchangeable for and redeemable by Government notes, for which purpose alone $150,000,000 of the latter was authorized. He was given authority, also, to issue $150,000,000 Government notes, including the $100,000,000 authorized in January; also to issue $50,000,000 of fractional notes, in lieu of the postage and revenue stamps, for fractional currency. He was also authorized to receive deposits of gold coin and bullion, and to issue certificates therefor; and to issue certificates representing coin in the Treasury, in payment of interest, which, with the certificates of deposits issued, should not exceed twenty per cent. beyond the amount of coin and bullion in the Treasury. A tax of one per cent. half-yearly was imposed on the circulation of the State banks.

Such was one of the provisions of Congress, made early in 1864, for carrying on the war vigorously. These acts concerning the finances were followed by an immediate revival of the public credit,' and within two months after the adjournment of Congress,' the whole mass of suspended requisitions had been satisfied, all current demands promptly met, and full provision made for the pay of the army and navy.

The Confederates, at the beginning of 1864, were sadly straitened, financially. The fiscal agent of the Conspirators (Memminger) reported their public debt, in round numbers, at $1,000,000,000, of which $800,000,000 were treasury notes, with a prospective increase, at the end of 1864, to about $2,510,000,000. The currency in circulation amounted to $600,000,000, and was so depreciated that the Conspirators could see nothing ahead but ruin,

c March 4.

So confident were the loyal people in their ability to put down the rebellion, and the consequent assurance of the stability of their Government, that on the first of May, or only two months after Congress adjourned, they hai loaned to the Government $169,000,000; and at the end of the fiscal year, the Secretary of the Treasury had the gratification to see that the disbursements did not greatly exceed his estimates, and that the increase of tho public debt did not equal his estimates.

228

FINANCES OF THE CONFEDERATES.

unless a change in their system of finance might be adopted. Davis declared that there was no other remedy than a “compulsory reduction of the currency to the amount required by the business of the country.” To do this, it was proposed to substitute for the outstanding notes, interest-bearing bonds, which the holders of the currency would be obliged to take in exchange, to render their property of any possible value. Memminger, at the same time, told the victims of his financial mismanagement, that the “Government" found itself" unable to comply with the letter of its engagement,” and with this assurance he offered his bonds to the people.

These bonds, as well as all other “Government” securities issued by the Conspirators, never had a really substantial basis, and were now avoided by every sensible person in the Confederacy, as far as possible. Through the grossest misrepresentations by the Confederate agents abroad, European capitalists were induced to take their bonds to the amount of $15,000,000, their payment professedly secured by the sales of cotton, to be sent to England. These bonils were eagerly sought after by confiding and hopeful English men, who sympathized with the Conspirators, and a large number of the members of the “Southern Independence Association "' became heavy holders of the worthless paper.

The Confederate currency, at the close of 1863, had become so nearly worthless, that it was sold at four and six cents on the dollar, and the prices of every necessary of life to be purchased with it, ruled correspondingly. Producers, such as agriculturists, were unwilling to exchange their products for the detested stuff, and starvation for the army was threatened.

In consequence of this state of things, the “Congress” at Richmond proceeded with a high hand, and, as we have seen, authorized the seizure of supplies for the troops. Had not the despotic heel of the Conspirators been firmly planted on the necks of the people, a revolution would have followed. As it was, no man dared to murmur audibly. At the same time the railways in the Confederacy were rapidly decaying, and means for transportation were hourly decreasing, while the blockade, rendered more and more stringent by the repossession of sea-ports by the Government, diminished supplies of every kind from abroad. The country in the vicinity of the great armies was stripped, and poverty and want stalked over the land. The distress of the people was very great and almost universal, while favored officers of the “Government,” having large ownership in blockade-runners, were living on luxuries brought from Europe and the islands of the sea, and growing rich at the expense of the suffering people.”

i See page 46.

2 See page 97. : Among the members of “ Congress" at Richmond, who were not favorites of Jefferson Davis, and consequently not allowed to share in the good things of the "court," was Henry S. Foote, formerly United States Senator, and then misrepresenting Tennessee at the Confederate capital. His wife, in a letter to a friend, on the 6th of February, 1963, gives us a glimpse of the hardships endured by the "common folk" of the ruling classes in Richmond. After saying that her little boy had been named "Malvern," by his papa, "after the Battle-ground of Malvern Hills," and that “ he spits at Yankee pictures and makes wry faces at old Abe's picture." she said: “We are boarding at Mrs. Johnson's, in Governor Street, just opposite Governor Letcher's mansion. is a large boarding-house, bigh prices and starvation within. Such living was never known before on earth. have to cook almost every thing we cat, in our own room. In our 'larder 'the stock on hand is a boiled bacon ham, which we gave only $11 for; three pounds of pure Rio coffee, We gave *4 a pound for, and one pound of green ten, $17 per pound; two pounds of brown sugar, at $2.75 per pound; one bushel of fine apples, about the size of a good common marble, which were presented to me by a member from Missouri; one pund of butter, about six months old, at $2 per pound, and six sweet potatoes, at 50 cents. We have to give a dollar for a very small slice of pound cake at the confectioner's.

Yesterday, for dinner, we had nothing on the table

W

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