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the winter of 1862. The armadas were as yet silent. For months a large fleet of the enemy had been at the mouth or Charleston harbor, or picketed off the coast.
On the 30th of January the Confederate rams in the harbor of Charleston, under command of Capt. Ingraham, had made a sally towards the enemy's fleet. The success of this sally was ignorantly exaggerated by the Confederates, and a claim made that the blockade had been raised, which pretension was afterwards abandoned. The fact was, that one of the Yankee vessels—the Mercedita—was seriously injured, and another—the Keystone State-got a shot through her steam-drum, causing the death of twenty one persons. The Mercedita was saved by the treachery of the Yankees, who represented the ship to be in a sinking condition, thus deceiving the Confederates as to the extent of the damage they had inflicted. She steamed down to Port Royal, after our rams had left her, under the snpposition that she was sinking in shoal water. Her commander had called out, “We are in a sinking condition,” and the reply of Capt. Ingraham was that she could only sink as far as her rails, and we could not take her crew aboard. A mean and cowardly falsehood saved the vessel, but in Yankee estimation the triumphs of such villany were quite equal to the congratulations of a victory.
Our victory at Galveston, of which we have given some account, was the precursor of other captures of the enemy's vessels, which were important accessions to our little navy. That arm of service, in which we were so deficient, and had shown such aptitude for self-destruction, was not entirely powerless; for we not only had rams for harbor defences and three fleet privateers at sea, but our power on the water was enlarged even beyond our expectations, as we shall see, by captures from the enemy.
The Yankee gunboat Queen of the West, having succeeded in running our batteries at Vicksburg, had for some weeks been committing ravages, penetrating the country of the Red river. On the 14th of February she encountered in this river and captured a small Confederate steamer, the Era. The crew and passengers of the Era were taken prisoners, and all were guarded on board the Era by a band of soldiers, savc Mr. George Wood, the pile !, who was ordered aboard the Queen of the West, and, with threats, directed to her pilot-wheel to assist her pilot in directing her onward to the capture of our fort on the river. On they glided, but not distrustful, and much elated at their success, till they came in reach of our battery at five P. M., when the vessel commenced firing, still advancing. She had come within a quarter of a mile of our battery and on the opposite shore in full range for our guns, when the gallant Wood, who directed her wheel, had her rounded, ran her aground, breaking her rudder and thus crippling her and turning her broadside to give our guns a fair chance. This gallant man, in the confusion, made good his escape. Thus crippled and disabled by the hand that drove her on to her destiny, she lay like a wounded falcon, at the mercy of her adversaries.
The night was dark and stormy, the heavens overhung with, clouds, which now and then pealed forth their muttering thun. der, and drenched the earth with rain. Thus in the rain-storm . this crippled Queen lay beaten by the tempest. She was well barricaded with cotton bales. On seeing all hope of success gone, the commanding officer, Col. Ellett, made his escape, with nearly all his crew, by getting on cotton bales and floating down the river. She raised the white signal, as the storm abated, as it was seen by the light of a burning warehouse, but it was not answered till next morning. Thirteen of the crew remained in silence till daylight, then her white banner was still afloat, and then, and not till then, our soldiers crossed the river and took possession of her.
The fog which had enabled the Queen of the West to get by Vicksburg had also availed for the passage of another gunboat, the Indianola. This vessel had also continued for weeks to go at large, preying on the boats that were transporting our supplies, and harassing our forces in every way. Seeing the great injury and havoc that she might do, a council was held, and the capture of the Indianola at every sacrifice was determined pon.
Accordingly an expedition was fitted out, consisting of two gboats—the Qucen of the West and the Webb-and two steamers—the Era and Dr. Batey. The expedition was commanded by Major Walker, with Captain Hutton as executive officer of the fleet. All being ready, the expedition started
out from the mouth of the Red river in pursuit of the I:idian ola. Coming up the Mississippi to Grand Gulf, it was learned that the Indianola was not far off, and a halt was ordered that all the vessels might come up. All being in line, the expedi tion put up the river, and on the 24th of February came upon the Indianola, overhauling her about five miles below New Carthage, and some thirty below Vicksburg. It was about nine o'clock at night. The enemy had received no information of the movement, and was not aware of our approach until we were within a half mile of her. Seeing the rapid approach of the vessels, the Indianola at once knew that it was an attempt to capture her, and she immediately rounded her broadside to, lashing a coal barge alongside her to parry the blows that might be made to run in and sink her. On the vessels nearing, fire was opened, and a most terrific and desperate engagement ensued, lasting over an hour. Putting on all her steain, the Queen of the West made a blow at the Indianola, cleaving the barge in two and striking her with such tremendous force that the Indianola’s machinery was badly injured. Here the action on both sides became desperate. The blow of the Queen of the West was quickly followed up by the Webb with a terrific "butt” at full speed. This finished the work. The Indianola was discovered to be in a sinking condition, and was put for the shore on the Louisiana side. Seeing this, the Dr. Batey was ordered to board her. On bearing alongside her, the Indianola surrendered, and all her officers and crew-numbering in all about one hundred and twenty men-were made prisoners.
These additions to our naval structures on the Mississippi were important. We now possessed some power in the interior waters of the Confederacy; to our harbor defences we had already added some rams; and our deficiency in a navy was not a laughing-stock to the North as long as our few privateers were able to cruise in the Atlantic, and carry dismay to the exposed commerce of the Gulf.
The few ships the North possessed that were the equals in point of speed of the Confederate privateers, the Alabama and Florida, were, with a single exception, purchased vessels, built for the merchant service, and exceedingly liable to be disabled in their machinery on account of its being nearly all above the water-line. Taking, as samples of vessels of this class, the Vanderbilt, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, the North had three ships which, for the purpose they were intended, were without superiors; but the chances were that, if coming under the fire of the Alabama or Florida, they would be, by a welldirected shot or shell at close quarters, crippled and become an easy prize.
The exploits of our cruisers were sufficient to show the value and efficiency of the weapon of privateering, and to excite many regrets that our means in this department of warfare were so limited. One national steamer alone--the Alabamacommanded by officers and manned by a crew who were de: barred by the closure of neutral ports from the opportunity of causing captured vessels to be condemned in their favor as prizes, had sufficed to double the rates of marine insurance in Yankee ports, and consigned to forced inaction numbers of Yankee vessels, in addition to the direct damage inflicted by captures at sea. The Northern papers paid a high tribute to the activity and daring of our few privateers in the statement that, during one month of winter, British steamers had carried from San Francisco to Europe six and a quarter millions of gold, whilst during the same time from the same port there had arrived in New York only two hundred and fifty thousand dollars of the precious metal. In view of such results, it would be difficult to over-estimate the effects, if we had had a hundred of private armed vessels, and especially if we could have secured from neutral Europe the means of disposing of such prizes as we might make of the commerce of
An extraordinary Lull in the War.-An Affair with the Enemy on the Blackwater.-Raids in the West.-Van Dorn's Captures.-THE MEETING OF CONGRESS.— Character of this Body.-Its Dulness and Servility.-Mr. Foote and the Cabinet.— Two Popular Themes of Confidence.-Party Contention in the North.-Successes of the Democrats there.-Analysis of the Party Politics of the North.-The Interest of New England in the War.-How the War affected the Northwestern Portions of the United States.-Mr. Foote's Resolutions respecting the Northwestern States.-How they were received by the Southern Public.-New War Measures at Washington.Lincoln a Dictator.-Prospect of Foreign Interference.-Action of the Emperor Napoleon.-Suffering of the Working Classes in England.-The Delusions of an early Peace. The Tasks before Congress.-Prostrate Condition of the Confederate Finances.-President Davis's Blunder.-The Errors of our Financial System.-The Wealth of the South.-The Impressment Law of Congress.-Scarcity of Supplies.— Inflated Prices.-Speculation and Extortion in the Confederacy.-Three Remarks about these.-The Verdict of History.
THE battle of Murfreesboro' was followed by an extraordinary lull of the movements of the war. For months the great armies in Tennessee and Virginia were to stand agaze of each other. The events of this period are slight, and easily recounted.
While the lines of the Rappahannock remained undisturbed, our forces on the Blackwater had an engagement of outposts on the 31st of January, which was unduly magnified into a battle. The success of the affair was not wholly unimportant, as a loss of some hundreds was inflicted upon the enemy before our forces fell back to Carrsville, which they were compelled to do in the face of superior numbers.
In Tennessee there was a series of exploits of our cavalry, the details of which it is impossible now to recount. The most remarkable of these successes was probably that of Van Dorn, who, on the 1st day of March, at Thompson's station, between Columbia and Franklin, captured five regiments of the enemy's infantry, comprising twenty-two hundred officers and men.
THE MEETING OF CONGRESS.
The reader will be interested in turning from the unimportant military events of this period to notice the reassem