« PreviousContinue »
temporary. Near the middle of April, the act of emancipation was passed, and being signed by the President, became a law.
In this condition of things General Hunter issued an order, proclaiming all the slaves in his department, free. This movement might have brought on a collision between the President and a portion of the loyal North; but the President, with that quiet firmness, which amid all the trying circumstances of his position he had shown, and which had fixed him deeply in the confidence of the people, issued a counter proclamation in which he said, that both the time and manner of an edict of general emancipation, were questions he reserved to himself, and did not leave to commanders in the field. It did not come within their province, and therefore General Hunter had transcended his powers, and his action was null and void. In this discreet way of disposing of the matter all acquiesced.
S:ill, slavery in some form, engrossed much of the debates, as it did the attention of the country. An attempt was made to employ thousands of the siaves left by the rebels at Port Royal, and a school opened for them at Newbern. Efforts were also made to get permission to form regiments of colored men either to fight the south, or to garrison southern fortresses during the unhealthy months. A resolution to give half of the value of the steamer Planter to three negroes, who boldly took her out of Charleston harbor, and delivered her to the blockading fleet, also caused a great deal of bitter feeling among the border State members; but it passed, as it ought to have done. The recognition of Hayti as an independent State, and sending i?inisters to its Court, also was regarded by some as another step towards putting the blacks on an equality with the whites; but the country could see no good reason why America, from the mere prejudice of color, should refuse to do what the nations of Europe had long since done.
BARBARITY OF SOUTHERN SOLDIERS.
Questionable as the action of Congress was in many things, Et adopted one measure of indisputable wisdom. It gave the Secretary of the Navy authority to construct, under contract, a formidable fleet of iron-clad vessels, rams and gun
boats. Half of the failures for which he had been held accountable, grew out of his inability to do any thing. The previous Congress had so fettered him that he could not act as the exigencies of the time demanded; but now power was given him which he was not slow to use; and all along our seaboard, the keels of an iron fleet began to be laid, which gåve ground for much wholsome reflection to England.
During this month also, a committee which had been appointed by Congress to ascertain the truth of various rumors that our dead had received brutal treatment from the enemy at Manassas, made its report, fully confirming them. Some of our unfortunate men had been buried in an inhuman manner, while from others, skulls and bones had been taken and fashioned into cups and ornaments. Indeed, from the commencement of the war, the southern troops had disgraced themselves by numberless acts of cruelty, though a great number of the stories set afloat in the newspapers were false. In war, exaggerated statements and false accusations are to be expected on both sides. At the same time, deeds of violence and cruelty will be committed by some soldiers in every army. Brutish men are found there as elsewhere, while circumstances favor the gratification of their base and ferocious passions. The southern troops, being more vindictive, and looking upon the Union soldiers as invaders of their homes, would naturally be less scrupulous in the means they used to repel their advance, than we to secure it. Besides, the poor whites that composed the bulk of their army, were but a grade above semi-barbarians-ferocious, malignant and destitute”alike of 'conscience or honor; while ours was made up of the respectable middle class. Again, the officers, most of them being
VIEWS OF EUROPE.
slave holders, and regarding the ignorant whites as but little above slaves, naturally looked with indifference on the treatment which our private soldiers received. Hence, cruelty from the one and neglect from the other, were to be expected, and could safely be assumed without an investigating committee.
During the winter, General Stone, commander at Ball's Bluff, had been suddenly arrested and confined in fort Warren. The senatė at the close of this month passed a resolution, asking the President why he was not brought to trial. He replied that the necessary absence of important witnesses prevented it, and thus the mysterious affair rested.
A year ago this month, the war commenced by the attacks on fort Sumter. Twenty-eight more or less important battles, besides an almost endless number of skirmishes had occcured during its progress, and in twenty of the former, the Union arms were victorious. Never before had the world seen war carried on upon so vast a scale. The immobility of the north during almost the entire year, had excited the derision of Europe. Our quiet attitude was regarded as a confession of weakness, and a sure forerunner of defeat. They did not comprehend as we did, the gigantic task we had undertaken, and the amount of preparation necessary before we commenced. But when this was completed, and the forces we had been so long gathering began to move, that derision gave place to amazement. The vastness of our complicated plan bewildered them, while they stood amazed at the power we showed ourselves able to put forth. England especially, thought that we were distressed, and hardly knew what to do ourselves. She now saw that we not only knew what to do, but how to do it. The vast dimensions of the war entailed enormous expenses, and the money needed to defray them, she declared could be no where obtained. The people would not give it, and foreign capital.
COST OF THE WAR.
ists would not lend it. But great as the expenditures were, the necessary, money was obtained within our own limits. It is true we had run up a frightful debt, and sound statesmen feared the final effect of the issue of so much paper money as we were compelled to send forth, but the people said: “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” At the end of this year of war our national debt amounted to $491,448,384. A protracted war at this rate, would of course ruin the nation, but no one believed it would be of long continuance.
W APPROACHING CRISIS-PUBLIC FE LING-THE TWO GREAT ARMIES
MO CLELLAN READY TO COMMENCE THE BOMBARDMENT AT YORKTOWN-THE ENEMY EVACUATE IT-SCENE AT THE EVACUATION-THE PURSUIT-THÈ BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG-BRAVERY OF COLONEL DWIGHT-BERRY COMES TO THE RESCUE_KEARNEY FOLLOWS-HERÓISM OF THE ELEVENTH MASSACHUSETTS-HANCOCK'S GALLANT BAYONET CHARGE-INSPIRING EFFECT OF MARTIAL MUSIC_HEINTZELMAN AMID THE RAINING BULLETS -HOOKER's UNCONQUERABLE BRIGADE-THE NIGHT AFTER THE BATTLE-FRANKLIN ARRIVES AT WEST POINT, AND ENGAGES THE ENEMY.
AE month of May, the first of the new year of war, was
believed to be pregnant with the fate of the Republic; for events seemed to be approaching a decisive termination. Halleck was drawing his lines closer and closer around Beauregard, at Corinth, and battle was daily expected there that would settle the war in the west.
McClellan's preparations were about complete before Yorktown, and any moment it might flash over the wires that the bombardment had commenced.
The mighty armies that confronted each other at these points, constituted the main strength of the two sections in the field, and numbered in all nearly a million of men.
Α. decided victory at both points would virtually end the war
-a victory at but one would insure at least another year's war, while our overthrow at both would be irreparable. No wonder the nation held its breath in suspense; and fervent prayers went up that God would assist the right.
The standing of these two armed hosts face to face, gathering their energies like two giants for the final struggle,