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AFFAIRS EAST AT THE OPENING OF THE YEAR—THE PRESIDENT'S AFFIRMATIVE
PROCLAMATION OF EMANCIPATION-HOOKER PLACED OVER THE ARMY OF
DESTRUCTION OF THE NASHVILLE-THE FIRST COLORED REGIMENT-FIGHTS AT BLACKWATER AND KELLY'S FORD, VIRGINIA-WASHINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA, ATTACKED BY THE REBELS-ATTACK BY THE IRON-CLAD FLEET ON
FORT SUMTER-DISAPPOINTMENT AT ITS FAILURE-INJUSTICE TO DU PONT.
EAST, the opening gear was distinguished by the Presi
. dent's confirmatory Emancipation Proclamation, (previously noticed,) declar-. the slaves, in certain States and parts of States, forever free. It was celebrated as a great event in many portions of the Northern States, and by the freedmen in Norfolk, Va., and Beaufort, South Carolina. The Richmond papers denounced it as the most “ stårtling political crime, the most stupid political blunder, yet known in American history,” and declared that servile insurrection was the sole object aimed at. It was also bitterly denounced by the opposition, who asserted that it would have no effect on the emancipation of the slaves; but, on the contrary, that it would effectually close the door against the long-cherished hope of a reaction at the South against the leaders of the rebellion. They said that if the army did not overthrow Slavery, no proclamation would ; that it was to disappear under the tramp of our victorious battalions, or not at all.
On the 26th of January, Burnside was superseded by Hooker in command of the Army of the Potomac. By those unacquainted with military men and affairs, this was hailed with delight; and the most extravagant anticipations
ATTACK ON FORT MCALLISTER.
were entertained of the great results that the latter, with his brilliant fighting qualities, would accomplish.
The month closed, however, without any military operations of importance. A sharp fight took place near Suffolk, between a Union force under General Corcoran, and the rebels under General Roger A. Pryor, in which the latter, after a three-hours struggle, were compelled to retreat. An attack was also made on Fort McAllister, commanding the Savannah River, by Commander Worden, in the iron-clad Montauk, but it failed to produce any effect on the rebel works. On the 27th of February, however, he had the satisfaction of destroying, while aground, under the very guns of the fort, the troublesome rebel steamer Nashville. A few days after, March 3rd, Commander Drayton, with a fleet of monitors and mortar schooners, again attempted to reduce the fort, but, though a terrific bombardment, of eight hours' duration, was kept up, no material damage was done to the works.
The organization of the first colored regiment, at Beaufort, South Carolina, in the fore part of this year, caused a good deal of excitement. Under Colonel Higginson, a Unitarian clergyman, it made an expedition into the interior, itd, though ite blacks beturved with commendable gallantry, they afterward, under Colonel Montgomery, in an expedition to Darien, were a disgrace to the flag and to the nation.
Newbern was attacked on the 14th of March, by a rebel force under General Pettigrew, without any successful result; and Colonel Spear, on the 17th, assailed the rebel breastworks on the Blackwater, near Franklin, Virginia, but was repulsed. On the same day, a spirited cavalry fight occurred at Kelly's Ford, on the Rappahannock, between a force under General Averill, and Fitz-Hugh Lee, of the rebel ser
KON-CLADS AT CHARLESTON.
sloo, which lasted for several hours, and finally resulted in the rout of the latter.
The month closed with a serious 'démonstration against Washington, North Carolina, garrisoned by two thousand National troops, under General Foster. The rebels
, ủnder Hill and Pettigrew, sat down before it, with strong force, and commenced throwing up fortifications.
In these minor combats, the months of January, February and March passed away, and the people waited anxiously for the settled weather of Spring to inaugurate those great movements which, it was believed, would break the power of the rebellion. In the West, as we have seen, things were at this time evidently drawing to a crisis, and corresponding movements were weekly looked for along the Atlantic slope and seaboard.
The first heavy blow of the war was struck at Fort Sumter, on the 7th of April, by Admiral Du Pont, who, with a fleet of monitors and iron-clads, endeavored to break down this barrier, which had so long kept the avenging hand from Charleston, the hot-bed of rebellion. - An invention for the explosion of torpedoes, to be placed in front of the vessels, had been towed down from New York, with which, it was supposed, the iron-clads would be able to push through the obstructions opposite the fort; and the highest expectations were herished, of a speedy downfall of the stronglóid. Nine iron-clads and monitors were to make the attack, while a wooden squadron of five vessels was to lie in reserve, outside of the bar. Du Pont was not so sanguine of success as the Secretary of the Navy was known to be. As, through his glass, he surveyed the work before him, he saw that his little fleet was to be put to a test to which vessels had never before been subjected.
When it was announced that the fleet was under way, the steeples and roofs in and around Charleston became lined
A GLOOMY PROSPECT.
with spectators assembled to witness the approaching conflict.
As the eye swept around the harbor, it was cannon here, and there, and everywhere. In front, Sullivan's Island lay on the right, and Morris Island on the left--the two extreme points curving in towards each other, till they were separated by a channel only a mile wide. Midway in this channel, built on an artificial island, stood Fort Sumter. Opposite it, on Sullivan's Island, stood Fort Moultrie, while above and below it the shore was lined with formidable batteries. On the other side of the channel, flanking it; frowned Battery Bee, on Cummings' Point, while further up towards Charleston-should the fleet succeed in passing all these obstaclesbattery succeeded battery, all the way to the city. Stretching down towards the fleet, batteries lined Morris Island, and among them Fort Wagner. The sight was enough to daunt the stoutest heart, for full three hundred cannon lay shotted and trained on the channel, ready to open their concentrated fire on the little fleet the moment it came within range.
Du Pont's plan was to push rapidly past the batteries, and get to the west and north-west side of Sumter, which was known to be less impregnable than the front face. This, he was aware, would be a desperate task, for piles, torpedoes, nets, and all sorts of obstructions, had been sunk in the channel between Sumter and the shores, to hoid any vessels that might attempt to pass, under the horrible fire that commanded the spot. But it was hoped that the invention of Ericsson, previously mentioned, would be able to remove these.
At noon, the signal from the flag-ship to move to the attack, was seen, and the little fleet of low, black-looking objects steamed slowly forward. It was four miles to Sumter, and the batteries on Morris Island commanded the whole distance. It had hardly got under way, when the Wee
hawken, in the advance, with the torpedo machine attached to her bows, became tangled with the unwieldy thing, and lost an hour in clearing herself, when the fleet again moved forward. The spectators lining the shore looked on in breathless expectation—the rapid roll of the drum in Fort Sumter was heard beating to quarters, and all knew that the decisive moment had come.
The fleet moved steadily up, till opposite Fort Wagner, where, it was expected, the wild hurricane that awaited it would commence, but not a gun broke the calm of the slumbering bay. It kept on till opposite Battery Bee, and still not a cannon spoke; an ominous silence reigned over everything. This mysterious, death-like stillness foreboded mischief-still, the fleet kept undauntedly on, till it was under the guns of Sumter. As the Weehawken was rounding, to pass beyond into Charleston harbor, the crater of fire opened, and from Sumter and Moultrie, shot and shell fell thick as hail-stones from heaven. The Weehawken never stopped, but steamed steadily on, till she was suddenly brought up by an enormous hawser stretching from Sumter to Moultrie-supported by casks, and strung with nets, cables and torpedoes. The propeller got entangled in these, became unmanageable, and drifted about in the fiery tempest—her iron sides echoing under the blows of the heavy metal, that fell incessantly upon her. The other vessels, as they come up, see the danger, and sheer off to avoid it. Wheeling in the fire, they steer to the other side of the fort, to try the channel there. But here a row of piles, rising ten feet out of the water, meets their gaze, beyond which stretch other obstructions as far as the eye can reach-and beyond then still, rebel-iron-clads lie ready for action. To make matters still worse, the Ironsides suddenly refuses to obey her rudder, and drifts on the heavy tide towards Fort Moultrie, getting foul of the Catskill and Nantucket