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Hunter in command of the department of the South-Smallness of his force — His proclamation – Excitement
produced — Perplexities of the question — President Lincoln's views — Repudiation of Hunter's proclamation – Treatment of the blacks — Robert Small's exploit — Subject of arming the negroes — Diversity of opinion and action — Military operations attempted against Charleston — Some fighting, but with no success to the Union cause More troops wanted — Mitchel succeeds Hunter — His zeal in his work — Several expeditions projected — Sickness in the army – Death of Gen. Mitchel — Closing proceedings of CongressAct authorizing additional issue of treasury notes — Three important bills acted upon, the Homestead, the Pacific Railroad, and the one condemning and punishing polygamy in Utah — Navy arrangements as to the grades of officers, etc. - Confiscation act — Its significance — Congress adjourns.
Gex. HUNTER, on the 31st of March, were enraged at this bold interference took command of the department of with the rights of property, especially the South, comprising the states of property in slaves. South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. As for the government, its position His force was insufficient for any ag- was by no means an easy one.
The gressive measures against the rebels, president and his cabinet were distressand he was principally occupied ined and even anxious on this subject. watching their movements. This of- The pressure upon Mr. Lincoln from ficer, being considerably in advance of almost every quarter was exceedingly public sentiment on the perplexing severe and constant. He did not know question of slavery and what to do what to do or say, so as to satisfy his with the negroes in the insurrectionary own conscience and deal justly with states, issued an order from Hilton the several parties concerned. Sincerely Head, in which he said, “slavery and desirous to do what was right, the premartial law in a free country are sident for a long time urged the gradual
altogether incompatible. The emancipation of the slaves, the compen
persons in these three states, sating the owners for making them free, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, and also the sending them away out of heretofore held as slaves, are therefore the country, to South America or elsedeclared forever free."
where. But the necessity of some Public attention was at once aroused. definite line of policy was pressing Hunter's course was applauded by some, heavily upon the government; the and denounced by others. Some requestion could not much longer joiced at the prospect of the speedy delayed, in the midst of our mighty extinction of slavery; others, secession struggle for the snpremacy of law and sympathizers at the North especially, order. Loyal men differed widely on
the subject. Some urged the presid- the rebellion. Hunter was certain that ent to take decisive steps at once; the blacks would make good soldiers, while others opposed and denounc if properly instructed, and he bestowed any such course in strong, even ed much attention upon giving them fierce language. Mr. Lincoln had repu- the opportunity of fitting themselves diated Fremont's attempt in 1861 (see for the work sooner or later before them. p. 87), to emancipate slaves in Mis- On the 13th of May, a slave, named souri. The president dared not, as yet, Robert Small, who had been acting as to go to the length which Fremont and pilot for some time on board the steam Hunter had
may be doubted, tug Planter, in the harbor of Charlesindeed, whether or no the country ton, succeeded in bringing the vessel would have sustained him just then. out from under the batteries of the forts, At all events, whatever the future might and delivering to the Union blockading develop, he felt called on to issue a pro- squadron a rebel gun boat which was clamation, under date of May 19th, in employed in military service in which he expressly disclaimed the ac. the bay. The Planter was a tion of Hunter, and refused to pro- high-pressure side-wheel steamer, armed nounce any decision upon the vexed with two guns, and had on board four question of freeing the slaves in the large guns under way for Fort Ripley, rebel states, at the present.*
in the harbor. Small, who had the enAlthough the president had seen fit tire management of the matter in his thus to decide upon Gen. Hunter's hands, embraced the favorable moment order in regard to the slaves in the de- when the officers had gone on shore, partment of the South, he did not in- and taking with him 8 men, 5 women terfere with various efforts which were and 3 children, all negroes, he passed being made to improve the condition of Fort Sumter very early in the morn
and render him available for ing, giving the proper signal, and steamservice to the cause of the Union against ing rapidly out of range of the guns.
The rebel colors were hauled down, a * Mr. Lincoln pleaded earnestly, in this same proclamation, for the policy of emancipation. "You cannot, white flag was raised, and Small and if you would,” he said, addressing the people of the his company were soon under the proborder states, “ be blind to the signs of the times. Itection of the stars and stripes. In acbeg of you a calm and enlarged consideration of them, ranging, if it may be, far above partisan and personal cordance with the recommendation of politics.” On the 12th of July, he held a conference Commodore Dupont, Congress passed with the members of Congress from Maryland, Dela ware, Kentucky and Missouri
, and begged of them to an act, giving Small and his companions press the subject upon the attention of their constitu- the benefit of their having transferred ents. The measure recommended by the president in such earnest terms was discussed in the states just nam
the rebel steamer to the Union authoed, but not adopted by any one. We may mention in the rities. One half of the value of the present connection, that at a later date, September 22, Planter and the property on board of ly foreshadowed the conclusion at which the govern- her, as per appraisement, was apporment arrived, at the close of the year 1802, upon the tioned among them, they, for the subject of emancipation. See McPherson's “ History
pre of the Rebellion," pp. 227–228.
sent, receiving the interest, until such
OPERATIONS AGAINST CHARLESTON.
time as it might be expedient to pay for an attack upon Charleston. The the principal sum.
information brought by the pilot Small, The subject of arming the negroes of the state of the fortifications, the excited no little attention among the troops, and means of defence in and people generally, as well as in Congress. around the harbor, encouraged the atHunter, in reply to a resolution of in- tempt, and an approach to the city quiry, said that this arming of the seemed practicable from below by the blacks was “a complete and even mar. Stono River. Accordingly, on the 20th vellous success.” The loyal portion of of May, several gun boats were sent the community were evidently tending by Commodore Dupont to that river; to the view which finally prevailed, occupation was taken of the inlet by viz., that the necessities of war requir- the squadron, and preparations rapidly ed the employment of the negro in help- made to lodge a force on James Island, ing to put down the great rebellion. with a view of gaining possession of its Various precedents were, on search, batteries, and, in case these were sucfound for such employment; in the cessfully overcome, pushing to the Ashrevolution, in the war of 1812, in Jack- ley River, where Charleston might be son's New Orleans' campaign, etc. The assailed out of reach of the powerful governors of Rhode Island and Massa- forts in the harbor. On the 29th of chusetts, on the new call for 300,000 May, an unsuccessful effort was made mel., caused the blacks to be enrolled to destroy the rebel line of communiin these states. The governor of Ohio, cation by the Charleston and Savan. however, refused to accept their servi- nah Railroad at Pocataligo. On the 2d ces; and in the army generally, there of June, Hunter and Benham were was a dislike to the bringing in the landed on James Island, waiting the blacks and placing them by the side of arrival of Gen. Wright with cavalry, white soldiers. In fact, the question artillery and additional infantry from was beset with peculiar difficulties, and Edisto Island. Severe storms, bad it required not only a modification of roads, and insufficient means of crossing popular feeling but especially time to the river, delayed operations materially, bring it to anything like a settlement. and gave the rebels an opportunity to
As we have before stated, Hunter's obtain reinforcements. During a week force was too limited in number for any or more, sharp skirmishes were frequent; military movement of importance. An and on the 16th of June, an attack was attempt was made, however, in June, in made by order of Benham, upon the the direction of Charleston. Gradual entrenched works of the enemy. Our approaches in this quarter along the troops fought gallantly, but after a
coast had been made by vari- severe struggle failed of success, having
ous naval reconnaissances, and lost some 700 in killed, wounded and by the occupation of Edisto Island under missing. The forces on James Island Gen. T. W. Sherman's command. In soon after returned to their quarters at May, circumstances appeared favorable Hilton Head.
Hunter having been relieved, at his the only practicable method of meeting own request, Mitchel was sent as his the public necessities. Gold, as a consuccessor, and arrived towards the end sequence, rose in value, and the price of September at Port Royal. Im- of gold regulated the price of commodi mediately on his arrival he entered ties in general. The facilities, however, with great zeal upon his duties. Al given to trade and credit, lightened, for though unable, from lack of reinforce a time, at least, the financial difficulties ments, to attempt any movements of produced by the war. importance, Mitchel projected a number To provide internal revenue, to supof minor expeditions, the details of port the government, and to pay which need not here be given. The interest on the public debt, a volumin. climate soon began to tell upon the ous tax bill was passed and approved health of the troops. The sick list in on the 1st of July. It embraced a several of the regiments was increasing comprehensive system of excise duties, to an alarming degree. As the month licenses, special tax on articles of luxury, wore on, cases of the yellow fever oc- as carriages, yachts, billiard tables, and curred at Port Royal. Several of the plate ; a widely extended system of officers fell victims to the disease, and stamp duties, legacy and inheritance Mitchel, sickening, was removed to duties, and an annual tax of three per Beaufort, where, as we have before cent. on all gains, profits or income, of noted, he died, on the 30th of October, every person residing within the United a noble specimen of a hrave and skilful States, exceeding the sum of $600. Inofficer, as well as a true patriot and comes exceeding $10,000, and those of Christian.
citizens residing abroad, were taxed five The principal proceedings of Con. per cent. gress, during its present session, have Besides the several acts heretofore been detailed on previous pages (see p. noted, there were three bills which may 148). We may, however, here briefly be mentioned as important at this notice its further action until the ad- period of our national legislation. On journment. On the 11th of July an the 20th of May, was passed “ An act act was passed authorizing an additional to secure Homesteads to actual settlers issue of $150,000,000 of notes not bear on the Public Domain.” By this act
ing interest, similar to those any loyal person, a citizen of the United
before described, of which $35,- States, or one who has legally declared 000,000 might be of less denominations his intention to become such, or of the than five dollars, but none of the frac. age of 21, was given the privilege of tional part of a dollar. The legal ten- entering upon 160 acres of land, the der clause in this, as in the former act full title to which would be secured by (see p. 149), met with much opposition five years' residence and cultivation. in the protracted discussion on the bills This measure looked to a future increase in Congress; but the demands of the of emigration, by which the wealth of war were urgent, and it was adopted as the great West had been largely develop
IMPORTANT ACTS OF CONGRESS.
ed, and which at the time was proving monies, consecrations, or other conan important aid in maintaining the trivances.” the war.
In order to put the navy on its proA second important step taken by per footing, especially as regarded the Congress was the passing, July 1st, rank of its officers, Congress, on the
An act to aid in the construction of a 16th of July, passed “ An act to estabRailroad and Telegraph Line from the lish and equalize the Grade of Ling Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean, Officers of the United States Navy." and to secure to the Government the use This law provides that the active list of the same for Postal, Military and of the officers of the United States other Purposes.” For the details relat- navy shall be divided into nine grades, ing to this great undertaking, which is taking rank according to the date of allowed until July, 1874, for its com- their commission in each grade, as folpletion, we must refer the reader to the lows :-1. Rear-Admirals. 2. Commoact itself,
dores. 3. Captains. 4. Commanders. The third of the measures alluded to 5. Lieutenant-Commanders. 6. Lieu. above, was in relation to a state of things tanants. 7. Masters. 8. Ensigns. 9. which had been existing for some time Midshipmen. The act further provides to the shame and disgrace of our country, that the relative rank between officers and its civilization and religion. We of the navy and the army shall be as mean the passing, July 1st, “ An act to follows, real rank only to be considerpunish and prevent the Practice of ed : rear-admirals to rank with major. Polygamy in the Territories of the generals; commodores with brigadierUnited States, and other Places, and generals; captains with colonels; comdisapproving and annulling certain manders with lieutenant-colonels; lieuacts of the Legislative Assembly of tenant-commanders with majors; lieuthe Territory of Utah.” By this act tenants with captains; masters with the crime of bigamy, in a territory or first lieutenants; ensigns with second other place within the exclusive juris- lieutenants
. The number of rear-admi. diction of the United States, was to rals on the active list was limited to be punished by a fine not exceeding nine; of commodores to 16; of captains $500, and by imprisonment for a term to 39; of commanders to 90; of lieunot exceeding five years. Certain spe. tenant-commanders to 144. cified ordinances and all other acts of The act to suppress insurrection, to the legislative assembly of the territory punish treason and rebellion, and to of Utah were disapproved and annulled, seize and confiscate the property of so far as they establish, protect or rebels, was passed on the last day of countenance“ the practice of polygamy, the session.* This, with other action of evasively called spiritual marriage, Congress, showed that the people, however disguised by legal or ecclesi
* For the president's message in regard to this imastical solemnities, sacraments, cere- portant act, see Appleton's “ American Annual Cyclo
pædia for 1862," p, 374; and M-Pherson's “ History of See the National Almanac,'for 1863, pp. 255-257 the Rebellion," p. 197.