Page images
PDF
EPUB

crowned by the capture of Atlanta, seems to have worked a change in their plan of operations. Hood moved his forces forward, with the coöperation of Wheeler and Forrest, to break Major-General Sherman's communications with his base at Nashville. That commander, who was well understood here to be exercising his usual vigilance, now reports that Hood, after having struck the railroad in the neighborhood of Dalton and Resaca, has fallen back before our forces, and without accepting battle has abandoned his projected plan of operations. The communications have not been seriously impaired. Hood's retreat is understood to be in a southwesterly direction.

Major-General Sheridan on the 7th of October began a withdrawal of his forces from Port Republic down the Shenandoah valley towards Front Royal. On the 8th, a large force of insurgent cavalry attacked his rear; a battle ensued, which resulted in a decisive victory in our favor. We captured eleven guns with complete equipment, and also three hundred prisoners. In the whole, thirtysix guns have been taken from Early's army, which is believed to be more than half of its complement of artillery. Major-General Sheridan destroyed the supplies of food and forage throughout the whole valley, and he is now coming into direct communication by railroad with Washington. Just now he reports that the insurgent army in the valley is understood to have passed under the command of Longstreet, and that on the 15th it reappeared in our front near Strasburg. Major-General Cook being in advance of Sheridan's forces, assaulted, broke, and dispersed the enemy, and he is understood to be retiring far up the valley.

The defeat of Early was followed by new guerilla attacks on our military lines. A train on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad was intercepted by the outlaw Mosby between Harper's Ferry and Martinsburg. On the 16th, Mosby's camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains was surprised and his artillery was captured, together with several prisoners.

The enemy's maneuvres in Missouri are not yet fully developed, but our reports from that quarter are not unsatisfactory.

State elections were held last week in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. In the two former states the results were conspicuously favorable to the Union cause. Some doubt hangs on the result in Pennsylvania and Maryland, but our latest information induces a belief that these states also have given their support to the administration. If this shall prove true of Maryland the effect will be of great value, as the successful vote ratifies the new constitution, which abolishes slavery in that state.

October 24, 1864. — The seizure by insurgents of the steamer Chesapeake, on the high seas, bound from New York to Portland, is familiar to you. Though the vessel was ultimately released, the perpetrators of the deed escaped punishment. Braine, one of the leaders, has since found his way to Havana, and with other conspirators has recently seized, under similar circumstances, the steam packet Roanoke, which plies between that place and New York, and carried her to Bermuda, but not receiving the hospitality which was expected there, the vessel was taken outside the port and burned.

On Saturday, the 17th of September last, Lieutenant-Colonel B. H. Hill, acting assistant provost marshal general of Michigan, was advised by a person from Canada that a party was to be sent from Windsor, on the Canadian side of the Detroit River, opposite Detroit, to a point within the jurisdiction of the United States, for hostile purposes.

On Sunday evening, the 18th of September, a man came on board the Philo Parsons, while she was lying at the dock in Detroit, and requested the clerk, Mr. Walter T. Ashley, who is part owner of the Parsons, to call at Sandwich, on the Canada shore, three miles below Detroit, to receive him and a party of friends, who wished to go to Kelly's Island, about eleven miles from Sandusky, alleging that one of them was lame and could not well cross the ferry. The Philo Parsons sailed the next morning at 8 o'clock, with about forty passengers. The person referred to above, as having engaged a passage for himself and party, appeared immediately afterwards, and at his request the steamer called at Sandwich, where his friends, four in number, came on board. At Malden, on the Canada side, where the steamer always stops, about twenty miles below Detroit and near the point where the Detroit River empties into the lake, about twenty more men came on board. The number not being unusual, excited no suspicion. The only baggage of the party was an oldfashioned trunk, tied with rope, and which was afterwards ascertained to contain revolvers and large hatchets or hand-axes. The steamer continued on ber course, and made her usual landings at

North Bass, Middle Bass, and South Bass islands - the latter being better known as Put-in-Bay Island. These islands are nearly north of Sandusky, and about twenty miles distant. They all belong to the United States, and are part of the State of Ohio. Captain Atwood, the captain of the steamer, left her at Middle Bass Island, where his family reside. Having made these landings, the steamer went on her course to Kelly's Island, about seven miles further on, and made her usual landing there. Here four men got on board, all apparently belonging to the same party, and it has been ascertained that one, who was seen among them after the. capture of the steamer, had been several days on the island, visiting the inhabitants and pretending to be an agent for the sale of sewing-machines.

Shortly after leaving Kelly's Island, and while she was directly on her course for Sandusky, the Philo Parsons was seized by the party who had got on board at Sandwich and Malden, and was headed to the eastward for nearly an hour, when she was turned back to Middle Bass Island for fuel, the leader of the party having ascertained from the mate and engineer that there was not enougb to run many hours. Soon after the Philo Parsons reached Middle Bass Island, and while she was taking in wood, the steamer Island Queen, which performs daily trips from the Bass Islands to Sandusky and back, came alongside and was immediately seized. The engineer of the Island Queen, without giving any provocation, was shot in the face. The ball entered his cheek and passed out near

One person was cut in the head with a hatchet and bled profusely. Several other persons were knocked down, and a large number were struck with the butt-ends of pistols and with hatchets, and some ten or a dozen shots were fired. The passengers on both boats were landed at Middle Bass, with a part of their baggage.

After getting a supply of fuel, the Philo Parsons ran out into the lake, towing the Island Queen. At the distance of about five miles according to one statement, and at a smaller distance according to others, the Island Queen was scuttled by cutting her supply-pipe and was sent adrift. Before filling she drifted on a shoal, and was gotten off a few days afterwards, having been plundered by the party who had seized her.

After the Island Queen had been scuttled, the Philo Parsons

the ear.

stood for Sandusky harbor, and was turned about and steered for Malden, where she arrived between 4 and 5 o'clock on Tuesday morning, the 20th of September. A few miles above Malden, a yawl boat load of plunder was sent ashore on the Canadian side of the Detroit River. At Fighting Island, some six miles above, the crews of both steamers were landed.

The Philo Parsons arrived at Sandwich at about 8 o'clock the same morning, and a pianoforte belonging to her, a number of trucks, and the cabin furniture were put ashore at the dock, where a custom-house officer almost immediately appeared. She was then scuttled, by cutting her injection-pipes, and cast off. She partially filled, but was taken possession of a few hours afterwards by the mate, who had come in a small steamer (the Pearl) from Ecuse, who had her towed to Detroit.

The primary object in capturing these steamers was confessedly to release the insurgent officers confined on Johnson's Island. There is reason to believe that the conspiracy was organized and set in motion by prominent insurgents, who have for some time past been residing in Canada for such purposes. Indeed, this Department has proof that Mr. Jacob Thompson has acknowledged that he was commissioned and provided with funds to carry them into effect, and had interviews with conspicuous members of the gang just before the steamers were captured.

I had just prepared the foregoing statement of the transaction on Lake Erie, when information of a new and equally desperate outrage on another part of the border reached this Department. A band, said to consist of twenty-five desperate men, clandestinely armed, crossed the frontier and proceeded in several small parties, by stage-coach, to St. Albans, Vermont, in the customary way of travellers. At a concerted time they raised a scene of terror in that peaceful town, and broke into boarding-houses and other buildings and carried off large amounts of treasure, said to be two hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars, together with other valuable property. As soon as the people recovered from their surprise, they arose and hotly pursued the felons, who sought safety by returning on stolen horses across the frontier into Canada. The Canadian municipal agents seem to have coöperated with the pursuers from Vermont with alacrity and diligence. Twelve of the robbers were

arrested, stripped of their plunder, and taken into custody by the Canadian authorities,

It is now my duty to instruct you to give notice to Earl Russell, in conformity with the treaty reservation of that right, that, at the expiration of six months after you shall have made this communication, the United States will deem themselves at liberty to increase the naval armament upon the lakes, if, in their judgment, the condition of affairs in that quarter shall require it.

October 24, 1864. — The marked military event of the last week was the battle of Cedar Creek, in the Shenandoah valley, on the 19th instant. It began during General Sheridan's absence from his command on a visit to the War Department here. Longstreet had been reinforced by 12,000 men. He surprised and assaulted Sheridan's army in its camp near Strasburg at the break of day, broke and pushed it back four miles, with a capture of 800 or 1,000 men and twenty-four guns. Sheridan was returning to the army, and at Winchester met the news of this disaster.

He pushed rapidly forward, reorganized his columns, and established a new and perfect line of battle, attacked the enemy, in three hours turned the defeat into a victory, driving the enemy before him through Strasburg to Mount Jackson, routing them and putting them to flight in all directions, so that they had not an organized regiment left on arriving at that place. Sheridan took back the twenty-four guns which had been lost, adding twenty-nine to the number, and captured 2,000 prisoners, with 10 battle-flags. The pursuit was continued on the 20th, with the capture of a large quantity of smallarms and much camp equipage, including 300 wagons.

I know not whether it is that hope is derived or is affected to be derived by the insurgents from excitement of the political canvass in the loyal states, or from what other cause — the fact, however, is observed that the enemy affect to be confident of some new and great success. On the other hand, telegraphic communication is reëstablished through General Sherman's line to Atlanta. The enemy is in retreat before him, and the military situation there is regarded as satisfactory and cheering. The invaders of Missouri are falling back before General Rosecrans, and endeavoring to escape the pursuit of General Steele. The situation at Richmond remains unchanged. The election in Maryland has resulted in the

1 Afterwards liberated and their booty restored to them.

11

« PreviousContinue »