Page images
PDF
EPUB

464

PEACE NEGOTIATIONS,

of two potentates, the momentous question of peace, ana the duties of the two Governments.

What motive Davis could have had for seriously entering into such a discussion with these unauthorized, unknown and aninfluential men, unless that he wished to give utterance to views that might help the peace-party North, it is difficult to conjecture. That a fighting parson, ranking no higher than a colonel, and an obscure individual spoken lightly of among business men at home, should by any management, have got into this position, will remain one of the curious things of the war.

The other attempt was equally absurd, though dignified by the employment of a little more political machinery.

Early in July, Horace Greeley, of The New York Tribuni received a letter from W. Cornell Jewett--a political adventurer, who had acquired at home and abroad a certain doubtful notoriety-stating that some prominent rebels then residing in Canada, desired to have an interview with him at Niagara Falls, respecting terms of peace. It was flattering to Mr. Greeley, to be thus selected out among all the distinguished men of the country as the proper person to influence the President, and stand in the great gap that divided the North and South. Fully impressed with the responsibility thus laid upon him, he addressed a letter to the President, and vouchsafed to state conditions of peace, which he thought the President might safely adopt.

A few days after, the notorious rebel agent, George N. Saunders, informed Mr. Greeley that Clement C. Clay, of Alabama, Professor Holcomb, of Virginia, and himself were ready, the moment they could be assured of their personal safety, to proceed at once to Washington and enter on their momentous mission.

To this Mr. Greeley replied, that if they were “duly accredited from Richmond, as the bearer of propositions looking to

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN.,

465

the establishment of peace,” &c., that he was “authorized by the President of the United States to tender them hig safe-conduct on the journey proposed,” and that he would accompany them at the earliest time convenient" to them.

That accredited ambassadors for peace should fear to come to the head of a Christian Nation, in this enlightened age, without having a promise that their heads should not be cut off, was certainly very extraordinary, and not very complimentary to Mr. Lincoln's civilization.

To this offer, these gentleman replied that there had been some misapprehension, as they were not accredited from Richmond as the bearers of dispatches, but, being in the confidential employment of the Confederate Government, familiar with its wishes, views, &c., they had no doubt if the rebel President was aware of what they had done, that they would be at once accredited, &c. On the reception of this statement, Mr. Greeley telegraphed to Washington for further information, and received the following extraordinary document:

"EXECUTIVE MANSION, July 18th, 1864. To whom it

may

Concern : Any proposition which embraces the restoration of peace, the integrity of the whole Union, and the abandonment of Slavery, and comes by and with an authority that can control the armies now at war against the United States, will be received and considered by the Executive Government of the United States, and will be met by liberal terms, on substantial and collateral points, and the bearer or bearers thereof, shall have safe-conduct

both ways.

Signed,

ABRAHAM LINCOLN."

This was certainly a very safe circular, but not one that should have proceeded from the Executive Mansion, for it cannot be regarded as a serious act-it must have been either a political move to disarm the peace-party, or a somewhat grave joke, which would put an end to Mr. Greeley's importunity, and, at the same time, throw a shell into this self-constituted embassy. Viewed in this light, it was,

466

FAILURE OF A POOR SCHEME.

perhaps, a good stroke of policy. Though correspondence and lengthy statements followed this denouement, the whole thing collapsed, and was heard of no more.

It was yery plain to the President, and to every man of common sense, that if Jefferson Davis wanted peace on the only terms the North would accept it, he would not have to go around by way of Canada, to commence negotiations. The two Capitals were close to each other, and no such farce as this was needed to bring the conflicting powers face to face, if both were desirous of peace.

Personal notoriety and political effect were, doubtless, the motives that prompted these gentlemen to undertake this self-imposed task.

[blocks in formation]

VAL OF THE TECUMSEH-FARRAGUT READY TO RUN THE REBEL BATTERIES

MORNING OF THE BATTLE--THE SHIPS LASHED TWO TOGETHER-THE BROOKLYN TO LEAD THE FLEET AGAINST FARRAGUT'S WISHES—THE FIRST GUN

THE BROOKLYN

FEARING

TORPEDOES-BACKS AND AWAITS THE FLEET

FARRAGUT LASHED IN THE MAIN-TOP, SEEING THE DELAY, TAKES THE LEAD JUST AS THE TECUMSEH GOES DOWN-HE SENDS A BOAT TO SAVE THE SUR

VIVORSSTEAMS AHEAD-ENTERS THE

BAY-ATTACKED

BY

REBEL GUN

BOATS—THE SELMA CAPTURED BY THE METACOMET_THE REBEL RAM TEN

NESSEE ATTACKS THE FLEET_THE COMBAT-SURRENDER OF THE RAM-THE

TECUMSEH-A BRAVE ENSIGN-GALLANT DEEDS AND GALLANT MEN-SUR

[blocks in formation]

MANDER AND OFFICERS MOBILE NOT TAKEN-CAPTURE OF THE PRIVATEER

GEORGIA.

FARRAGUT ENTERS MOBILE BAY.

The
THE beginning of August was made memorable by one

of the most gallant naval achievements on record Farragut, who had been lying for a long time, outside of Mobile harbor, the entrance to which was defended by two forts---Morgan and Gaines-determined, the moment that the iron-clads which he had asked for arrived, to force his way inside, when he knew they must surrender. The former fort, located on a long spur of land, commanded the two channels to the east, while the latter commanded the western one.

Beyond these, toward the city, the channel was obstructed by piles driven deep into the mud. Several rebel steamers were also in the bay, and a formidable iron

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

clad ram, named the Tennessee. In July, a land force, under General Granger, was sent from New Orleans to assist Farragut in taking the forts. On the first of August, General Granger visited him on the Hartford, and after a consultation, it was decided that a combined movement of the fleet ard army should be made on the 4th.

The Tecumseh had arrived at Pensacola on the 1st, and Captain Craven, the Commander, had informed the Admiral that he would be ready in four days for any service. He was delayed, however, in getting aboard coal, so that Farragut, to his mortification, could not keep his engagement with Granger. The latter, however, as he said, “was up to time," and landed his troops (some four or five thousand in number) on Dauphin Island, in rear of Fort Gaines. That evening, the Tecumseh came steaming up from Pensacola, and Farragut at once prepared to force the entrance to the harbor.

The morning of the 5th dawned warm and hazy--a light south-west breeze came drifting across the Gulf, raising a gentle swell, on which the fleet rocked lazily, and all was peaceful as though no preparations were afoot to change the quiet scene into one of tumult, terror and death. But just as the half-veiled sun was sending his dim beams aslant the sea, the drum on the flag-ship was heard beating to quarters, and soon every ship was cleared for action.

At a quarter before six, the whole fleet was moving steadily forward toward the entrance to the bay, where, every Commander knew, slumbered a volcano whose earthquake throes would make land and sea tremble. There were twelve wooden vessels in all, and four iron-clads. The latter already inside the bar, were ordered to take up a position between the wooden vessels and Fort Morgan, to keep down the fire of the water-battery and the parapet guns of the fort, as well

« PreviousContinue »