The Rebels and Their Capital.—Notes of a Recent Tour in the South.
Three weeks ago I was in Richmond. How I came to be there, what I was doing, and how I made my way into the light of civilization and freedom, it is no part of my present purpose to state. Nor would it be safe or prudent for me to do so, because, the fates willing, it is my intention as it is an almost absolute necessity for met o be soon back again within the jurisdiction of Mr. Jefferson Davis. Enough to say that I spent several weeks recently in the capital of the Confederate States—for here I may say, in passing, that all over the South the pretty little city on the left bank of the James river is spoken of as capital, just as Washington used to be in the United States, and still is in the loyal portion thereof. I was not an idle or uninterested observer of men and things in and about Richmond, and in that section of the South through which I made way the border, and if you consider my observations of sufficient interest to deserve a corner of the HERALD, they are most willingly at your service.
Richmond and its Environs.
The principal feature that strikes every one who sees Richmond for the first time is its curious topography. From the James river, which, tumbling over its rocky bed, makes a wide bend here, with its convex face to the city, rise, without any regard to uniformity of direction, some half dozen hills, of gravel formation, and of pretty considerable elevation. There has never been any attempt to grade them into level streets, but the city is scattered promiscuously up and on and over them, just as fashion, taste or business may have happened to dictate. The principal part of the city, however, occupies actually only one of those elevations, and the garden spot of that one is the Capitol square, where stands the building of which Jefferson procured the design in France, but which, however magnificent it may have been deemed in the simple, unostentatious days in which it was built, is certainly not to be lauded now either for its beauty or for its adaptation to the wants of a State Legislature, much less to those of a Congress of Confederate States. Within the same enclosure is the Governor’s mansion, where poor John Letcher, badgered and bullied and blackguarded on all sides, resigns himself to his fate, and, if all be true that the Examiner charges, tries to beguile it with jolly living. In the centre of the square is the beautiful equestrian statue of Washington, looking as calm and serene and commanding as if the city which he overlooks was not the centre and hotbed of the foulest treason that ever showed itself in the light of day. The pedestal is designed for eight other statues of distinguished Virginians, but three of which have yet been put in their places. These are Jefferson, Henry and Mason, not the arrogant self-conceited blockhead who recently represented the State in the Senate at Washington, and has gone seeking recognition at London, as the diplomatic representative of secessiondom, but a far purer, wiser and more patriotic namesake of his. Here also is a small statue to Henry Clay.
The Union Prisoners of War
Richmond has really but one business thoroughfare. That is Main street. Most of the hotels, banks, newspaper offices and stores are located on it. It extends northward into the open country, and southeastward to a suburb called Rocketts. In this latter section of it are situated some of the tobacco warehouses where our Union prisoners are now confined. These are old brick edifices, of mouldy, dilapidated appearance. They stand together on one side of the street—which here is of a most dingy character—and two nearly opposite. Those on the north side are overlooked by the bluffs in which Church Hill here terminates, and which supply gravel for the city, while those on the south side of the street have the James river and Kanawha Canal, and the river itself immediately in their rear. I have often passed by these prison houses, and had my feelings lacerated by seeing the condition of the brave men who are suffering here for their loyalty and devotion to the country.
It is hard to find out anything relating to the affairs of the government, and inquisitiveness into public matters is not a safe weakness to indulge in. Observations have therefore to be made quietly, patiently, and on whatever slight data may be casually presented or acquired. My observation leads me to think that there are, on the average, two hundred men confined in each of these warehouses, huddled together, with not much more regard to health than a humane captain of a slaver would show to his freight of emigrants from the Congo river to the Havana. The lower floors are assigned to the officers, the windows being strongly grated; the upper ones are occupied by the rank and file of our men who fell into the rebels' hands at Manassas and elsewhere. The condition of all, officers and men, is pitiable and deplorable to the last degree, and not another day should be lost without our government adopting some means by which its faithful but unfortunate adherents in Richmond may be rescued from their miseries and restored to the light of freedom and the comforts of home. These men ought not to be sacrificed any longer to a mere diplomatic or political technicality. Humanity, reason, justice, common sense, all appeal in tones that should not be ignored, for a prompt termination to the senseless quibble of which those brave men are the victims. The rebellion can be quelled just as effectually after an exchange of prisoners is effected as before. I believe there are one or two other warehouses and mills in the western part of the city, near the canal basins, where more of our Union prisoners are confined. The bulk of them, however, have been sent further South.
Church Hill and the Hospitals
Near the summit of the elevation known as Church Hill is a large, old fashioned brick building known as the alms house. It has been converted from its original purpose, and now serves as an hospital for our sick and wounded. Sisters of Charity come and go, untiring angels of consolation, and the hearse is kept in constant requisition, so great is the mortality that prevails here. Many of the private houses in the vicinity are also converted into temporary hospitals. As a general thing, the former residents of this part of the city have gone elsewhere since the location of the hospitals here. The Odd Fellows' Hall, on Broad street; is also used as a general hospital.
A great deal of sickness prevails in the Confederate army. Some whole regiments have been completely ravaged by smallpox. Much of the sickness is ascribed to the putrefied state of the atmosphere around Manassas, arising from the unburied bodies of men and horses killed in the battle of Bull run; and great dissatisfaction was expressed against Beauregard for keeping his army there instead of advancing against Washington.
On the most commanding part of Church hill still stands, in good preservation too, the church in which Patrick Henry made the famous speech at the commencement of the Revolutionary struggle, where he used that memorable and oft-quoted phrase, "Give me liberty, or give me death." Around the church are the graves of the last generation of the people of Richmond, and I was no little disgusted to observe that few of the headstones had escaped the profane vandalism of some scoundrels, who, as a proof of their wit, cut a figure before the figures recording the ages of the deceased, making it appear that those who rested here from their labors had enjoyed an incredibly patriarchal length of years.
The James River and the Kanawha Canal
Between this hill and the ricketty suburb known as Rocketts there is a large encampment, and I believe there are also batteries here, for the defence of the river. I know that there certainly are batteries on the bluffs, above and beyond Rocketts. Near here the few steamers and sailing craft that used to trade to Richmond had their mooring places, and here also the James River and Kanawha Canal has its southern outlet into the river. This is a great work of internal improvement, so far as the design is concerned; but, unfortunately for Virginia, her execution does not keep pace with her plans, and the canal, though open for many years, does not come within a long distance of the Kanawha river, which it was intended to tap. If it ever will do so, it must be after secession is crashed and the Union restored.
Intrenchments and Camps of Instruction
But Richmond is not, as seems erroneously to be considered, garrisoned by a large army. So far as I could see there are only camps of instruction maintained here. The recruits are sent for drill and equipment, and when they are considered tolerable in those respects they are forwarded to Manassas or other points, and their place supplied by newcomers. One camp of instruction is a level tract of ground between the penitentiary and the new cemetery, which used to be occupied as a fair ground. Another, and more extensive one, is on the north side of the city, about a mile and a half out on the line of the Fredericksburg Railroad, where there is an enclosure of about a mile square, sometimes used as a race course. I believe it is called the New Fair Ground. Near it is the Baptist College, an institution for the whole South. The only extensive intrenchments in the neighborhood of the city are also in this vicinity. They extend northward for half a mile, commanding the railroad, but even they are not mounted with guns, so confident are the military authorities of the strength of the rebel army concentrated around Manassas, and which must be defeated before an army can penetrate from the northward to the environs of the Confederate capital.
It would be vain to attempt particularizing the localities of the encampments. Richmond, like ancient Rome, is seated on her seven hills or more and wherever there is space and eligible ground for camps, they are covered with tents. The soldiers are not allowed quarters in the city, but are kept strictly to their camp life; but the officers—scions of all the first families—are treated with more consideration, and are allowed to consult their comfort so far as to occupy town quarters. The hotels are consequently crammed with them from garret to basement. There may be from eight to ten thousand soldiers around Richmond, but these are not regarded, as I said, in the light of a garrison, but only as apprentices acquiring their initiatory lessons in military life. They are, therefore, kept constantly on the move; those who have had the advantage of a five or six weeks training giving place to new hands.
They have commenced to erect wooden barracks and huts for the soldiers at the various encampments, the most numerous and extensive being on the fair grounds to the north of the city. These erections are becoming so extensive as to lead to the idea that a large part of the rebel army in Virginia are to Winter in Richmond.
Governor Letcher and President Davis
I do not believe that very friendly or confidential relations exist between John Letcher, as head of the State government, and Jefferson Davis, as head of the rebel confederacy. The former can by no proof of his subserviency to the rebel confidence in him. Besides, he is altogether too plebeian in origin and appearance, and too democratic in his tastes, to suit the delicate fastidiousnes and the exacting requirements of pure blood, on which the chivalry pride themselves. I will not say that any decidedly hostile feeling is manifested in the relations of the State and Confederate executives, but I am inclined to believe, from all I can gather, that those relations are the reverse of friendly. The citizens and the soldiers treat Letcher with the utmost contempt, while Davis has from them demonstrations of respect and confidence that might flatter the vanity of a European despot. When Davis came first to Richmond, he put up at the Spottswood Hotel, but this residence was too public and too vulgar to suit either his taste or necessities. The citizens, therefore, procured for him and fitted up in the most expensive manner, a very large and beautiful residence on Marshall street. I believe it is built of white marble. It occupies a large plot of ground, the garden sweeping down, terrace like, in the direction of that deep gully which separates this part of the city from Church Hill. Here he holds his court, and is all the time surrounded by military officers and civil dignitaries. He has but recently recovered from a severe attack of intermittent fever, the same from which he was reported to have died.
Arsenal, Iron Works, Water Works, Etc.
In the western section of the city, on the bank of the James river, is the State Arsenal, a large, substantial building, where arms are being manufactured. Quite close to it are the Tredegar iron works, and extensive concern, which has done nothing since April last except cast cannon and balls for the use of there rebels. The same day that the news of the fall of Fort Sumter reached Richmond the rebel flag was hoisted from the grounds of the Tredegar—not, however, by the proprietors, but by a party composed of several rebel members of the State Convention then in session, one of the editors of the Enquirer, and Colonel Moore, of the First Virginia Militia. This latter gentleman is an Irishman by birth, long resident in Richmond, where he keeps a large headware establishment on Main street, and is a genial, high-minded and high-toned man. He was wounded at the battle of Bull run. On the bluff rising above the Tredegar works stands the penitentiary, surrounded by a high wall, and some distance back of it is the new cemetery. The level space between is used as a camp of instruction. A little higher up the river, just where the grounds of the Cemetery come down, are the waterworks. The conception of them is very simple, the water from the James river being made by a dam to flow into a basin, from which it is pumped to a reservoir in an elevated part of the city.
Business and Currency
So much for the topographical and other prominent features of the city. I wish I could present them more clearly, but I still hope that they are sufficiently intelligible. As to business, it is generally represented as completely ruined, except those branches of trade that are connected with the equipment and supplies of the army. These are flourishing, but the only currency to be had is paper money; and when the war ends those who have appeared to drive the most thriving business will probably find themselves rich only in worthless shinplasters. Nevertheless the people do not seem inclined to look far into the future, and as bank notes, issued in unlimited supply, and without any regard to a corresponding capital, will pass current in trade, there do not appear to be very hard times. Those branches of trade that are connected with articles of luxury; or articles not of the first necessity, are entirely ruined, and many are the empty stores that can be seen in Main street, silent witnesses against the madness of the hour. Still the sidewalks are crowded with pedestrians, and on the whole Richmond may be said to be a gay city.
The people are carried away with the flush of the partial successes of the rebels, and more than ever vaunted is the vast superiority of Southerners over Yankees. Oh, how I have longed to see a check given to this bravado by a triumph of the national arms, which would bring these people to their senses. I think that one grand battle and decisive victory in Virginia would burst the bubble, dispel the insanity that has seized upon the popular mind in the South, disorganize their immense army and lead to a speedy restoration of peace, order and obedience to law. But every little check that our arms sustain is magnified by these boasters, and is an additional obstacle in the way of peace. Every party of Union soldiers that is paraded through the streets of Richmond on their way to prison appears to these American Gascons incontestable evidence of their great superiority over the men of the North. Captivity itself is hard to bear, but the sting is made doubly severe by the taunts of the women and negroes, and by the feeling that every one of those unavoidable incidents of war is taken as proof of Southern valor. I have often thought that the negroes, with the cunning of their race, make a show of hostility to Northern prisoners only the better to ward off suspicion from themselves, and gain the good will and confidence of the white folks.
The hotels are doing a thriving business, as I said. They have increased their rates for board from twenty-five to fifty per cent. The Exchange and Ballard— which constitute really but one establishmentcharge two and a half dollars per day, and the Spottswood, which is now the resort of the elite of Southern society, three dollars. The American used to be the headquarters of the Western anti-secession members of the Convention, but now it is among the most pronounced of rebel establishments. Little secession flags flutter from every window, while larger ones are displayed from all the principal buildings in the city. Payments are all made in Virginia and Tennessee currency; and change given in the shape of shinplasters, of one of which, for twenty-five cents, I give you a copy:
Twenty-Five Cent Shinplaster
25 RICHMOND, L No. 11,281. Aug. 1, 1861. 25
METROPOLITAN SAVINGS BANK
Will pay the
bearer Twenty five Cents in current funds, when presented in
sums of five dollars or its multiple. Nat. W. Hart, for Cashier.
W. P. PUHING, for Pres.
Some of these promises to pay descend to the low figure of five cents—the lowest coin that practically circulates in the South, for copper and nickel cents are entirely beneath notice. But all specie circulation has really ceased, and nothing but paper passes from hand to hand. Won’t there be a universal smash up in the South when the hour of redemption—in a financial as well as a political sense—arrives? But I verily believe that it is one of the delusions of the hour which have got hold of the public mind here and which encourages this rebellion, that when the pipe of peace comes to be smoked, Uncle Sam will be liberal enough to pay the piper on all sides, and consequently that they who hold sheaves of worthless paper money will, at the end of the war, find them converted into shining heaps of gold and silver.
The handsome edifice erected by the general government a few years ago in Main street, Richmond, for the purposes of a post office, is still applied to the use for which it was designed. Postal arrangements in the South, although sadly shorn of their former completeness, still preserve an air of regular existence. To be sure it sometimes takes the mail from Memphis a week or ten days to reach Richmond; but then the answer to the grumblers is that even in the North the regularity of the mails is, at present and on account of the war, sadly deranged. There is still an apparent postal system in the South. Many of the contractors for carrying the United States mails continue to perform their contracts under the Confederate government, receiving bonds in payment. Others have thrown up their contracts rather than take such problematical remuneration, and besides that, a large proportion of the mail routes have been discontinued. Perhaps there is no deprivation resulting from this war which the people of the South regret and miss more than they do the mail system. But recklessness and an utter disregard of the future rule everywhere. The Southern mind seems to have resolved itself into this one idea, "After us, the deluge." It was that improvidence and reckless disposition that drove them into this rebellion, and it is the same that will retain them in the hostile attitude which they have assumed. It would be idle and ridiculous to say that the prudent, sensible, conservative men of the South do not deplore the secession movement, and wish in their hearts that it were rushed, never to rise again; but it would be equally foolish for the national government to calculate to any extent on that sentiment. The war is no longer a matter of sentiment. It has long ago passed that point. It is now a trial of strength between two giants, and the one who has most power, most energy, and most endurance, will succeed.
Good-Bye to Richmond
Now I think I have told you all about Richmond. I may have omitted some little points, for I write with a running pen. It does just now occur to me that I have not said that the numerous and extensive flour mills that stand along the James river are in constant work; that flour is but $10 per barrel, which, considering the fifteen per cent discount on paper currency, and the closing of the Southern ports, is not very high; that other provisions are scarce, particularly fresh beef, butter and bacon; that soldiers' rations are very scant and inferior; that the basements of churches are used for the manufacture and storage of military equipments and supplies; that the large cotton factories at Manchester, on the opposite side of the river, are running day and night, making cloth—a sort of linsey-woolsey—for the army; that the ladies are industrious in knitting mittens and socks for the soldiers; that small arms are manufactured at Fayette, N. C., that shoe factories have been established in large numbers all along Main street; that there is no such thing as beer or ale to be had in the restaurants; that the tariff of other drinks is put up to fifteen cents; that strict discipline is maintained among the soldiers, and drunkenness guarded against by the most stringent regulations; that the style of drill differs from that practised among the Northern troops, by being more slow, steady and solid—resembling therein the old European style: than to that regularity of movement of Southern cohorts is as cribed by some the repulse of our impetuous soldiers at Bull Run; that it is yet a disputed point whether that victory is to be credited to Johnson or Beauregard, as also whether Jeff. Davis was on the field at all that day; that there was great dissatisfaction at the failure of the Southern troops to follow up their success by the occupation of Washington; that they are now fortifying Warrenton junction, some eight or ten miles southwest of Manassas; that ammunition was beginning to fall short—although there are two powder mills at work in the South—till the arrival of the steamer Bermuda, which ran the blockade at Charleston, with a most valuable and immense cargo of supplies and munitions of war, and that it is the settled conviction in the minds of the people that France and England are about to recognise the confederacy and break the blockade. I also fancied that I observed a diminution in the number of persons of color in Richmond and ascribed it to the fact of their being employed as laborers in the intrenchments on York river and other points. The Richmond papers often publish extracts from the NEW YORK HERALD, and I recollect how intense was their astonishment when they found in your journal a full and complete register of their army. No passes are given to any person to go northward, except in some very special cases, and even in those cases an oath has to be taken that no Southern secrets, nothing damaging to the cause of the rebellion, will be divulged. I got no pass, took no oath, made my way into the loyal States by my own energy, perseverance and devices, and just so I expect to find myself once more in the regions of Secessia, huzzaing for Jeff. Davis, loudly maledicting the federal baboonas they often call Mr. Lincoln—and inwardly cursing the madness and the devilishness that have got possession of the people of the South.
A Trip Southward.
There is but one daily train running from Richmond to Nashville, and that one runs very irregularly. A military guard at the depot examines passengers' passes and turns back those who have not got a permit. There are no through tickets sold, and the fare has increased one-half. The trains, however, are mostly filled with troops. There were a great many sick and disabled soldiers returning to the South. It occurred to me, as the train was crossing a valley—over the Appomattox river, I think—on a trestle work viaduct of about half a mile in length, shaky and insecure, how completely the destruction of that bridge would cut off the connection between Richmond and the South. It is a most important link in the chain of travel, and if broken it would take several months before the chain could be restored. All along the road from Richmond to Lynchburg, and from Lynchburg to Nashville, the hills are covered with encampments. In fact the whole country is one continuous camp of armed men. The contrast between the South and the North in that respect is most remarkable. When I come into the Northern States I find the people pursing their usual peaceful avocations, without any apparent disturbance or interruption, as if the blast of war had never sounded in their ears, and as if the country was not now engaged in a most terrible conflict for its existence as a nation. While I see in that attitude the confidence of strength, I cannot but reflect that that disposition to take things quietly, and not to put forth the utmost energies of the nation, is rather calculated to protract the war which now devastates the fertile fields and pleasant homes of the South, and brings sorrow and desolation to the hearth of the dweller on the Adirondack, on the Western prairies, and in the pine groves and forests of our Southern States.
There are more signs of industry and enterprise in and around Lynchburg than are to be met with in any other part of the Old Dominion, except Richmond. It is beautifully situated on the right bank of the James river, in a sort of gorge formed by a spur of the Blue Ridge. The high hills on each side of the town are now the picturesque site of military encampments—for three regiments lie here—and the extensive workshops of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad company are converted, I believe, to the uses of war. There is an immense business done here in the way of supplying Richmond and the rebel army in Virginia with provisions. It is the entrepot, so to speak, for the supplies of cattle and grain from the Southwest. The James river and Kanawha Canal adds to the importance of this place, being in operation for some fifty miles farther west of it. The fine old Virginia gentleman who have his name to the favorite Southern system of jurisprudence—Lynch law—administered the junctions of a Justice of the Peace in Campbell county, and gave his name also to its flourishing capital.
The Virginia and Tennessee Railroad.
The line from Lynchburg to Knoxville takes the traveller through a most beautiful, fertile and picturesque region of country. The bold peaks of Otter loom into view soon after you leave Lynchburg, and keep in sight many hours. Riding through this country and seeing the neatly kept farm houses and orchards, and general evidences of thrift and prosperity that meet the eye on all sides, you soon forget that your are in a slave State, and might rather fancy yourself riding through the rich agricultural regions of Ohio or Pennsylvania or Western New York. But now this part of the country has lost that peaceful look that so well becomes it. The hillsides, as I have said, are white with encampments, and here and there you find squads of soldiers, who are used to overawe the Union loving people of this neighborhood. Every town and hamlet has its companies or regiments of rebel troops, and on every train and wagon team, and by the roadside, awaiting conveyance, you see war materials of all descriptions.
I did not stop at Knoxville, as I should like to have done, but the risks of travelling in the South at present are so great that he would be a fool who would needlessly increase or aggravate those risks. It is dangerous to deal with madmen, and one cannot put up at a Southern hotel or tavern without meeting more than one maniac. Giving weight to this mental reasoning, I kept my seat in the cars, and did not trouble mine host of the Knoxville hotel—I forget its title—of which hospitable accommodations I bore no pleasant recollections.
Loudon, Chattanooga, Etc.
Some twenty-eight miles southwest of Knoxville we passed the town of Loudon, built on the right bank of a broad stream which flows into the Tennessee river. It owes its importance to the railroad, and is now a flourishing place. There are several iron foundries here, now engaged, I believe, in the rebel service. There are some six thousand troops kept here which is an evidence of the importance attached to the occupation of the place, or it may be that this point is a grand depot from which troops are being constantly forwarded into Kentucky.
If I were to attempt a description of all the points on this line of railroad I would have to repeat myself. Suffice it to say, therefore, that the most astonishing military activity prevails everywhere in this region. Chattanooga—a strategic point of great strength, the centre of the coal and iron mining region of Georgia, and a railroad junction—has been recently abandoned as an encampment, the troops having been moved from it to a point nearer Nashville. So, too, troops have been lately withdrawn from Columbus and Union City, where twenty-eight regiments had been stationed, and moved towards Bowling Green, where they are swelling Buckner’s force. My idea is that a great blow, a la Lexington, is meditated against Louisville, which, if the blow succeeds, will be held as winter quarters for the rebel army of the Southwest. All means of transportation are being seized and accumulated in that design. As I passed through Decatur, I saw that a large encampment there was breaking up, with marching orders northward.
The city of Nashville is at present the most important seat of manufactures in the confederate States. Most of the shoes, harness and cavalry equipments used in the rebel army are made here, the leather being procured principally from Chattanooga, where there is a large tannery, owned by the Union Bank of Tennessee. I understood that many of those shoe factories were established by the rebel government. They are also erecting here a powder mill and an additional paper mill. The foundries, of which there are several, are casing cannon balls, and two of them are casing cannon, which are said to be much superior to those turned out at Memphis. The people here seem more determined upon a vigorous prosecution of the war than the people at Richmond do. The most vigilant surveillance is kept over persons who are suspected of having any design to make their way northward, and no person is allowed to leave in that direction without first having his pass renewed. Hundreds of persons are kept here on that account, being unable to obtain the necessary papers. The only way to escape from here is by railroad to Bowling Green, Kentucky, and thence to the Union lines. Baggage is overhauled four or five times on the way. Spies are always surrounding you, and the slightest indiscretion exposes you to suspicion. If suspicion be directed against you, your pass is no security, and you are mercilessly sent back. But still one who is reasonably well acquainted in Tennessee and who has the necessary coolness, intrepidity and presence of mind, may make his way by private conveyance through the State. The charges for such conveyances, however, are exorbitant. I knew one lady who had to pay $40 for being carried three stations eastward.
The delusive idea of an anti-war movement in the North is believed in here as religiously as the Turk believes in his destiny, and the people think that if they can only hold our army at bay long enough, the Northern people will get tired of the struggle, refuse further supplies to the government, and favor a recognition of southern independence. The military ardor and enthusiasm of the people of Tennessee are unbounded. The whole adult male population that can be spared from industrial pursuits are in the field. These constitute at least fifty regiments.
Fortifications and Steamers on the Mississippi.
If all the fortifications on the Tennessee shore of the Mississippi river were placed in a line I think they would extend fifteen miles. They commence at Memphis and extend northward to the State line. The principal in entrenchments are above Fort Randolph, extending beyond Fulton, at Pecan Point. Twenty-two guns, mostly thirty-two pounders, are mounted at Forts Harris and Randolph, exclusive of a battery of flying artillery, under command of Captain Miller. One of the forts in the immediate vicinity of Memphis—that at the mouth of Wolfe river—is liable to be overflowed and carried away. It has six guns mounted. The other is two and a half miles higher up the river, and is mounted with twelve guns on turn wheels. There is no scarcity of ammunition. The rebel government has two gunboats in Memphis. One is a large vessel with her guards cut off, and mounted fore and aft with two sixty-four pound guns. She is painted black. The other is of smaller size. They have also fifteen large side wheel steamers, which are used as transports between Columbus, Hickman and Memphis, and nine or ten small stern wheelers, which run regularly up White river, establishing communication between the forces of Price and McCullouch by way of Jacksonport, Jackson county, Arkansas. Two or three packets leave Memphis daily with troops and munitions of war. I cannot recollect the names of all the steamers in the service of the rebel government on this part of the Mississippi, but I can give you some of them. The large side wheeler—ssome of them to be remembered as crack boats on the St. Louis and New Orleans line—are:—
Prince of Wales, Ingomar, Belfast, Sovereign, Kentucky, John Simons, Alonzo Childs, Admiral, Victoria, General Pike, E. H. Mears, Nebraska, John Walsh, Cheeney, Louisville.
The stern wheelers (small and inferior boats) are the:—
Frederick Nortrebe, Little Rock, Tucker, Equality, Arkansas, Chester Ashley, Mary Patterson, and others whose names I cannot now recall.
The fortifications that are being erected at Columbus, Ky., from which reinforcements were sent the other day against the corps that attacked the rebels at Belmont, on the opposite bank of the river, will surpass in extent and strength all others on the river. They are located on the high chalk bluffs above that part of the city called Kentucky city, which have been lately used as a fair ground, and are at an elevation of at least eight feet above the river.
Strength of the Rebel Army.
My estimate of the strength of the rebel army, gathered from observation and from the data within my reach, gives them not less than 350,000 men, who are distributed as follows:
Tennessee and Kentucky 100,000
Along the coast................. 30,000
I cannot doubt that the rebels have more men in the field than the national government has, and I think that the numerous disasters we have met with are attributable to our underrating the strength of our enemy. While there is no manifestation of military ardor at the North, the South is, as I have said, one universal camp. War is on every tongue and the subject of every thought. Day and night you hear nothing but war shouts, exaltations over victories and imprecations against the Yankees. No business except what is connected with war is attended to or thought of. The self-sacrifices which these people impose upon themselves are most extraordinary. They take the blankets and quilts from their beds, the horses from their stables, the cattle from their sheds, the provender from their barns, the sons from their hearths, and give all to the cause which they deem sacred. Universal madness seems to have gained possession of young and old; and the women, who should be conservative, are more rabid than their husbands, fathers or brothers. Nothing but a series of successive triumphs on all points, on the part of the national forces, can restore them to reason. If we do not make up our minds to crush out the rebellion by resistless forces we might as well cease this effort of reestablishing the Union, and leave these Southern fools to the consequences of their own mighty madness. It is a common thing to find old gray haired men of wealth in the ranks with beardless boys. I do not believe that there has been any drafting for the army. The force of public opinion is stronger than that. Denunciation as cowards and poltroons, and as white livered Northerners, exclusion from all society, and contemptuous and brutal treatment are the spurs that are applied to force men to enlist.
It cannot be concealed that there is great suffering among the rebel soldiers, and that immense proportions of them are constantly in hospital. The necessaries of life are very scarce; the luxuries are not to be had for love or money. In the matter of shoes, blankets and hats, there is a great deficiency, and one which no activity on their part can supply. As winter approaches, the complaints on this score multiply, and I think that if the coast were thoroughly blockaded, and all foreign and domestic supplies cut off, the rebels would have to yield from downright exhaustion. Large consignments in supplies, provisions and mules are received through Missouri and Southwestern Kentucky, Nashville, Memphis and Richmond possess immense stocks of flour and corn meal. The prices in Memphis, on the 20th of October were:—
Flour... $9 per barrel.
Pork......30 cents per lb.
Butter...30 cents per lb.
Coffee...50 cents per lb.
Some goods have increased enormously in price—such for instance, as gray woollen goods. Steel pens sell at $5 per box, and soap, drugs and paper command fabulous prices.
Foundries, Arms, and Equipments.
The arms in general use among the rebel troops are old United States muskets, altered from flintlocks into percussion, and rifled. There is a factory of small firearms at Richmond, and one at Fayette, North Carolina. In the former they rifle the smooth bores, and also rifle cannon. The Tredegar Iron Works, at Richmond, are said to turn out eight small and four large rifled cannon daily. There are also cannon foundries at Atlanta, Ga., the iron procured from Dalton, nearby; two on the Cumberland river, right in the midst of the iron country; two at Memphis and one at New Orleans. Powder is manufactured at Little Rock, Ark., where sulphur is found in large quantities. Gun carriages and forges are made at Nashville and at Atlanta, Georgia.
Among the crack batteries in Virginia are the Washington Artillery of New Orleans (Walton), Kempner and Eschleman. Kempner received his education at an Austrian school for artillery.
Small arms are in great abundance, and bowie knives are among the favorite weapons of the rebels. In point of general equipment, the Southern army is far inferior to the Union troops. In fact, outside of Virginia they look more like an armed mob than a regular organized army.
The government wagons used throughout the Confederate States are, for the most part, the common freight wagons, which are such peculiar features of Virginia roads. They are boat shaped, canvass covered, and are usually drawn by four or six mules or oxen. Sometime you find oxen, mules and horses in the same team. The tents are of small size, but are generally in good condition.
Differences of Sentiment—Military Leaders.
It is a mistake to suppose that there is entire unanimity among the people of the South. Of course you hear no Union principles avowed, but still they exist. "Lazarus is not dead, but sleepeth." The conduct of the war is criticised—though not openly or boldly. One party favors an offensive movement, including the capture and destruction of Washington, and the occupation of Cincinnati and Baltimore as winter quarters. Another party thinks that the best policy is to act on the defensive and meet the Yankees wherever they appear. In Richmond I found the rival factions of Wise and Floyd, the adherents of Wise making the most of Floyd’s thefts and general dishonesty. In Nashville I found the rival fractions of Pillow and Polk. The state authorities lean toward Pillow; the Confederate toward the Bishop Paladin. There is a feeling in Tennessee also to keep their troops at home, and not let them go crusading either in Virginia, Kentucky or Missouri. The military representative of that feeling is General Cheatham, ex-Mayor of Nashville. Pillow is a blustering, blundering, red faced, self conceited, good natured sort of fellow. He is quite popular among his soldiers, and a laughing stock among educated military men. Polk is treated everywhere with the greatest respect and consideration. I saw McCullouch in Memphis last summer. He is a tall, thin, bilious, determined looking man, of retiring habits, and with that humility of manner that bespeaks great pride. To me he looked more like a thoughtful country merchant than a military adventurer.
Southern Arguments for the War.
There is undoubtedly at this moment an overwhelming preponderance of public opinion in favor of the war. At first it was a movement precipitated by ambitious, restless demagogues; but now the pride and self-conceit and other weak points of the people have been brought into play and the whole community seem determined to fight it out. The poorer classes must sigh in their innermost hearts of deliverance from the grinding oppression and hard times that they now experience, but no voice is heard in denunciation of the authors of all this national woe. The delusion among the wealthier classes is, that if the rebellion were crushed, their plantations would be sequestrated, their negroes manumitted and their families reduced to poverty; while, as the result of separation, they look forward to a career of individual and national prosperity of which their past experience under the Union was but an insipid foretaste. In Virginia the lazy, thriftless chivalry, who are held in contempt even by their Southern allies, puff themselves up with the insane idea that in the new confederacy protective duties are to be established for their benefit, and that their State will become the New England for the cotton confederacy, just as if they could by any miracle become industrious, or as if South Carolina would give up her free trade notions for the sake of encouraging domestic manufactures. The people of the seaboard cities flatter themselves that every little miserable port on the coast will become a great mart of commerce, beside which New York and Boston will dwindle into insignificance, and that the unrestricted developement of free trade principles will enrich their importers, jobbers and mercantile men, and supply the planters with cheap commodities. The importance of a middle class, dependent upon home manufactures, these sapient Solons entirely ignore.
So much for the benefits to be gained under the newfangled notion of secession. They for the injury to be inflicted on their perfidious neighbors of the North. Oh, sir, that counts for a great deal in Southern calculations. The hatred expressed to Northern men is something demoniac. They are denounced as miserable Yankee cheats, liars, swindlers, abolitionists, nigger stealers and the incarnation of all vileness and iniquity. This I take as one of the most unanswerable evidences of Southern insanity, for certainly all this rage and fury are entirely uncalled for.
Cotton—Rebel News—Negroes, Etc.
The orders of the Confederate government, forbidding the shipment of cotton to the seaports, has been generally observed. The plantations and country villages are well stocked with the staple. The difficulty is where to find a market for it. It must be there either until the United States open ports for its transhipment, or until that much talked of blockade breaking takes place. Messengers from the rebel Commissioners in Europe arrive every month by way of Canada, of Texas, and even of New York, but news from Washington is not so easily obtained as it was heretofore.
McClellan is very highly esteemed as a military leader; but Linkhorn—and they call the President—comes in for all sorts of abuse and vilification.
The negroes seem to relish the present condition of affairs very much. The military excitement possesses great charms for them. They sew yellow stripes to their pants as a sort of Uniform, and fancy themselves thoroughpaced soldiers. Those who remain on the plantations are delighted, because their labor is not so irksome and continuous as it used to be, and the rigor of the overseer has been relaxed. Those employed on the fortifications do their work cheerfully, incited to it by the raw-head-and-bloody-bone stories about the terrible Yankee abolitionists, which they think something worse than cholera or yellow fever. They are told that the war is to defend them, and to keep them from being sold into Cuba. The negroes in the cities, towns and border States know better than to give credence to such stories, but not so the field hands in the cotton States.
There are no apprehensions of a service insurrection entertained, nor is there a thought bestowed upon the subject. The only danger is from the mass of negroes that have been sent from the border States into the interior of the Gulf States. These are generally hard cases, and calculated to spread mutiny and dissatisfaction among their more ignorant and innocent fellow victims. Still it will take some time for their influence to be manifested. The negroes from the northern border of Tennessee are being daily sent South.
I have endeavored to give you in this familiar narrative a summary of the observations and ideas that have occurred to me in a recent tour through Virginia and Tennessee. If they should prove to be of interest to the HERALD and it readers, and perhaps of importance to the government, my object will be accomplished.
© 2005 Michael Goad All rights