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Atlantic Monthly, Volume 8, Issue 45, July, 1861 by Various

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sounded, to be sure, from the lips of Southern gentlemen, as they sat at
Northern banquets and partook unreluctantly of Northern wine! Can those
be the gay cavaliers who are now uplifting their war-whoops with such a
modest grace at Richmond and Montgomery? Can the privations of the
camp so instantaneously dethrone Bacchus and set up Mars? It is to be
regretted; they appeared more creditably in their cups, and one would
gladly appeal from Philip sober to Philip drunk. Intimate intercourse
has lost its charm. New York merchants more than ever desire an
increased acquaintance with the coffers of their repudiating debtors;
but so far as the knowledge of their peculiar moral traits is concerned,
enough is as good as a feast. No Abolitionist has ever dared to pillory
the slave-propagandists so conspicuously as they are doing it for
themselves every day. Sumner's "Barbarism of Slavery" seemed tolerably
graphic in its time, but how tamely it reads beside the "New Orleans

A Scotchman once asked Dr. Johnson what opinion he would form of
Scotland from what strangers had said of it.

"Sir," said the Doctor, "I should think it a region of the earth to be
avoided, so far as convenient."

"But how," persisted the patriot, "if you listened to what its natives
say of it?"

"Then, Sir," roared Old Obstinacy, "I should avoid it altogether."

Take the seceded States upon their own showing, and it is absurd to
suppose that they can ever resume their former standing in the nation.
Are there any stronger oaths than their generals have broken, any closer
ties to honesty than their financiers have spurned, any deeds more
damning than their legislatures have voted thanks for? No one supposes
that the individual traitors can be restored to confidence, that Twiggs
can re-dye his reputation, or any deep-sea-soundings fish up Maury's
drowned honor. But the influence of the States is gone with that of
their representatives. They may worship the graven image of President
Lincoln in Mobile; they may do homage to the ample stuffed regimentals
of General Butler in Charleston; but it will not make the nation forget.
Could their whole delegation resume its seat in Congress to-morrow, with
the three-fifths representation intact, it would not help them. Can we
ever trust them to build a ship or construct a rifle again? No time,
no formal act can restore the past relations, so long as slavery shall
live. It is easy for the Executive to pardon some convict from the
penitentiary; but who can pardon him out of that sterner prison of
public distrust which closes its disembodied walls around him, moves
with his motions, and never suffers him to walk unconscious of it
again? Henceforth he dwells as under the shadow of swords, and holds
intercourse with men only by courtesy, not confidence. And so will they.

Not that the United States Government is yet prepared to avow itself
anti-slavery, in the sense in which the South is pro-slavery. We
conscientiously strain at gnats of Constitutional clauses, while they
gulp down whole camels of treason. We still look after their legal
safeguards long after they have hoisted them with their own petards. But
both sides have trusted themselves to the logic of events, and there is
no mistaking the direction in which that tends. In times like these, men
care more for facts than for phrases, and reason quite as rapidly as
they act. It is impossible to blink the fact that Slavery is the root
of the rebellion; and so War is proving itself an Abolitionist, whoever
else is. Practically speaking, the verdict is already entered, and the
doom of the destructive institution pronounced, in the popular mind.
Either the Secessionists will show fight handsomely, or they will fail
to do so. If they fail to do it, they are the derision of the world
forever,--since no one ever spares a beaten bully,--and thenceforward
their social system must go down of itself. If, on the other hand, they
make a resistance which proves formidable and costly, then the adoption
of the John-Quincy-Adams policy of military emancipation is an ultimate
necessity, and there is nobody more likely to put it in effective
operation than a certain gentleman who lately wrote an eloquent
letter to his Governor on the horrors of slave-insurrection. No doubt
insurrection is a terrible thing, but so is all war, and every man of
humanity approaches either with a shudder. But if the truth were told,
it would be that the Anglo-Saxon habitually despises the negro because
he is _not_ an insurgent, for the Anglo-Saxon would certainly be one in
his place. Our race does not take naturally to non-resistance, and has
far more spontaneous sympathy with Nat Turner than with Uncle Tom. But
be it as it may with our desires, the rising of the slaves, in case of
continued war, is a mere destiny. We must take facts as they are.

Insurrection is one of the risks voluntarily assumed by Slavery,--and
the greatest of them. The slaves know it, and so do the masters. When
they seriously assert that they feel safe on this point, there is really
no answer to be made but that by which Traddles in "David Copperfield"
puts down Uriah Heep's wild hypothesis of believing himself an innocent
man. "But you don't, you know," quoth the straightforward Traddles;
"therefore, if you please, we won't suppose any such thing." They cannot
deceive us, for they do not deceive themselves. Every traveller who has
seen the faces of a household suddenly grow pale, in a Southern
city, when some street tumult struck to their hearts the fear of
insurrection,--every one who has seen the heavy negro face brighten
unguardedly at the name of John Brown, though a thousand miles away
from Harper's Ferry,--has penetrated the final secret of the military
weakness which saved Washington for us and lost the war for them.

It is time to expose this mad inconsistency which paralyzes common sense
on all Southern tongues, so soon as Slavery becomes the topic. These
same negroes, whom we hear claimed, at one moment, as petted darlings
whom no allurements can seduce, are denounced, next instant, as fiends
whom a whisper can madden. Northern sympathizers are first ridiculed
as imbecile, then lynched as destructive. Either position is in itself
intelligible, but the combination is an absurdity. We can understand
why the proprietor of a powder-house trembles at the sight of flint
and steel; and we can also understand why some new journeyman, being
inexperienced, may regard the peril without due concern. But we should
decide either to be a lunatic, if he in one breath proclaimed his
gunpowder to be incombustible, and at the next moment assassinated a
visitor for lighting a cigar on the premises. A slave population is
either contented and safe, or discontented and unsafe; it cannot at the
same time be friendly and hostile, blissful and desperate.

The result described is inevitable, should the Secessionists dare to
tempt the ordeal by battle long enough. If it stop short of this, it
will be because the prestige of Southern military power is so easily
broken down that there is no temptation to declare the Adams policy.
But even this consummation must have the most momentous results, and
entirely modify the whole anti-slavery movement of the nation. Should
the war cease to-morrow, it has inaugurated a new era in our nation's
history. The folly of the Gulf States, in throwing away a political
condition where the conservative sentiment stood by them only too well,
must inevitably recoil on their own heads, whether the strife last a day
or a generation. No man can estimate the new measures and combinations
to which it is destined to give rise. There stands the Constitution,
with all its severe conditions,--severe or weak, however, according to
its interpretations;--which interpretations, again, will always prove
plastic before the popular will. The popular will is plainly destined
to a change; and who dare predict the results of its changing? The
scrupulous may still hold by the letter of the bond; but since the
South has confessedly prized all legal guaranties only for the sake of
Slavery, the North, once free to act, will long to construe them, up to
the very verge of faith, in the interest of Liberty. Was the original
compromise, a Shylock bond?--the war has been our Portia. Slavery long
ruled the nation politically. The nation rose and conquered it with
votes. With desperate disloyalty, Slavery struck down all political
safeguards, and appealed to arms. The nation has risen again, ready to
meet it with any weapons, sure to conquer with any Twice conquered, what
further claim will this defeated desperado have? If it was a disturbing
element before, and so put under restriction, shall it be spared when it
has openly proclaimed itself a destroying element also? Is this to be
the last of American civil wars, or only the first one? These are the
questions which will haunt men's minds, when the cannon are all bushed,
and the bells are pealing peace, and the sons of our hearth-stones come
home. The watchword "Irrepressible Conflict" only gave the key, but War
has flung the door wide open, and four million slaves stand ready to
file through. It is merely a question of time, circumstance, and method.
There is not a statesman so wise but this war has given him new light,
nor an Abolitionist so self-confident but must own its promise better
than his foresight. Henceforth, the first duty of an American legislator
must be, by the use of all legitimate means, to weaken Slavery. _Delenda
est Servitudo_. What the peace which the South has broken was not doing,
the war which she has instituted must secure.

* * * * *


The modern world differs from the world of antiquity in nothing more
than in the existence of a brotherhood of nations, which was unknown to
the ancients, who seem to have been incapable of understanding that it
was impossible for either good or evil to be confined within certain
limits. The attempts of the Persians to extend their dominion into
Europe did for a time cause some faint approach to ideas and practices
that are common to the moderns; but, as a general rule, every monarchy
or people had its own system, to which it adhered until it was worn out
by internal decay, or was overthrown by foreign conquest. It was owing
to this exclusiveness, and to the inability of ancient statesmen to work
out an international system, that the Romans were enabled to extend
their dominion until it comprehended the best parts of the world. Had
the rulers and peoples of Carthage, Macedonia, Greece, and Syria been
capable of forming an alliance for common defence, the conquests of Rome
in the East might have been early checked, and her efforts have been
necessarily confined to the North and the West. But no international
system then existed, and the rude attempts at mutual assistance that
were occasionally made, as the conquering race strode forward, were of
no avail; and the swords of the legionaries reaped the whole field. It
is singular that what is so well known to the moderns, and was known
to them at times when they were far inferior to the best races of
antiquity, should have remained unknown to the latter. The chief reason
of this want of combining power in men who have never been surpassed in
ability is to be found in the then prevailing idea, that every stranger
was an enemy. There was a total want of confidence in one another among
the peoples of the ante-Christian period. Differences of race were
augmented by differences in religion, and by the absence of strong
business interests. Christianity had not been vouchsafed to man, and
commerce had very imperfectly done its work, while war was carried on in
the most ruthless and destructive manner.

The modern world differs in this matter entirely from the ancient world;
and though the change is perfect only in Christendom, the effect of it
is felt in countries where the Christian religion does not prevail, but
into which Christian armies and Christian merchants have penetrated.
Christendom is the leading portion of the world, and is fast giving
law to lands in which Christianity is still hated. It is the policy of
Christendom that orders the world. A Christian race rules over the whole
of that immense country, or collection of countries, which is known as
India. Another Christian race threatens to seize upon Persia. Christians
from the extreme West of Europe have dictated the terms of treaties to
the Tartar lords of China; and Christians from America have led the way
in breaking through the exclusive system of Japan. Christian soldiers
have for a year past acted as the police of Syria, Christianity's early
home, but now held by the most bigoted and cruel of Mussulmans; and it
is only the circumstance that they cannot agree upon a division of the
spoil that prevents the five great powers of Europe--the representatives
of the leading branches of the Christian religion--from partitioning
the vast, but feeble Ottoman Empire. The Christian idea of man's
brotherhood, so powerful in itself, is supported by material forces so
vast, and by ingenuity and industry so comprehensive and so various in
themselves and their results, that it must supersede all others, and
be accepted in every country where there are people capable of
understanding it. From the time of the first Crusade there has been a
steady tendency to the unity of Christian countries; and notwithstanding
all their conflicts with one another, and partly as one of the effects
of those conflicts, they have "fraternized," until now there exists a
mighty Christian Commonwealth, the members of which ought to be able to
govern the world in accordance with the principles of a religion that is
in itself peace. Under the influence of these principles, the Christian
nations, though not in equal degrees, have developed their resources,
and a commercial system has been created which has enlisted the material
interests of men on the same side with the highest teachings of the
purest religion. Selfishness and self-denial march under the same
banner, and men are taught to do unto others as they would that others
should do unto them, because the rule is as golden economically as it is
morally. This teaching, however, it must be allowed, is very imperfectly
done, and it encounters so many disturbing forces to its proper
development that an observer of the course of Christian nations might be
pardoned, if he were at times to suppose there is little of the spirit
of Christianity in the ordering of the policy of Christendom, and also
that the true nature of material interests is frequently misunderstood.
Still, it is undeniable that there is a general bond of union in
Christendom, and that no part of that division of the world can be
injured or improved without all the other parts of it being thereby
affected. What is known as "the business world" exists everywhere, but
it is in Christendom that it has its principal seats, and in which its
mightiest works are done. It forms one community of mankind; and what
depresses or exalts one nation is felt by its effects in all nations.
There cannot be a Russian war, or a Sepoy mutiny, or an Anglo-French
invasion of China, or an emancipation of the serfs of Russia, without
the effect thereof being sensibly experienced on the shores of Superior
or on the banks of the Sacramento; and the civil war that is raging in
the United States promises to produce permanent consequences to the
inhabitants of Central India and of Central Africa. The wars, floods,
plagues, and famines of the farthest East bear upon the people of the
remotest West. The Oregon flows in sympathy with the Ganges; and a very
mild winter in New England might give additional value to the ice-crop
of the Neva. So closely identified are all nations at this time, that
the hope that there may be no serious difficulties between the United
States and the Western powers of Europe, as a consequence of the Federal
Government's blockade of the Southern ports of the Union, is based as
much upon the prospect of the European food-crops being small this year
as upon the sense of justice that may exist in the bosoms of the rulers
of France and England. If those crops should prove to be of limited
amount, peace could be counted upon; if abundant, we might as well make
ample preparation for a foreign war. Nations threatened with scarcity
cannot afford to begin war, though they may find themselves compelled
to wage it. A cold season in Europe would be the best security that we
could have that we shall not be vexed with European intervention in
our troubles; for then Europeans would desire to have the privilege
of securing that portion of our food which should not be needed for
home-consumption. This is the fair side of the picture that is presented
by the bond of nations. There is another side to the picture, which is
far from being so agreeable to us, and which may be called the Cotton
side; and it is because England, and to a lesser degree France, is
of opinion that American cotton must be had, that our civil troubles
threaten to bring upon us, if not a foreign war, at least grave disputes
and difficulties with those European nations with which we are most
desirous of remaining on the best of terms, and to secure the friendship
of which all Americans are disposed to make every sacrifice that is
compatible with the preservation of national honor.

From the beginning of the troubles in this country that have led to
civil war, the desire to know what course would be pursued by the
principal nations of Europe toward the contending parties has been very
strongly felt on both sides; but the feeling has been greater on the
side of the rebels than on that of the nation, because the rebellion has
depended even for the merest chance of success upon the favorable view
of European governments, and the nation has got beyond the point of
caring much for the opinions or the actions of those governments. The
Union's existence depends not upon European friendship or enmity; but
without the aid of the Old World, the new Confederacy could not look for
success, had it received twice the assistance it did from the Buchanan
administration, and were it formed of every Slaveholding State, with
not a Union man in it to wound the susceptible minds of traitors by his
presence. The belief among the friends of order was, that Europe would
maintain a rigid neutrality, not so much from regard to this country as
from disgust at the character of the Confederacy's polity, and at the
opinions avowed by its officers, its orators, and its journals, opinions
which had been most forcibly illustrated in advance by acts of the
grossest robbery. That any civilized nation should be willing to afford
any countenance, and exclusively on grounds of interest, to a band of
ruffians who avowed opinions that could not now find open supporters
in Bokhara or Barbary, was what the American people could not believe.
Conscious that the Southern rebellion was utterly without provocation,
and that it had been brought about by the arts of disappointed
politicians, most of us were convinced that the rebels would be
discountenanced by the rulers of every European state to whom their
commissioners should apply either for recognition or for assistance.
We knew the power of King Cotton was great, though much exaggerated in
words by his servile subjects; but we did not, because we could not,
believe that he was able to control the policy of old empires, to
subvert the principle of honor upon which aristocracies profess to rely
as their chief support, and to turn whole nations from the roads in
which they had been accustomed to travel. That Cotton has done this we
do not assert; but it has done not a little to show how feeble; the
regard of certain classes in Europe for morality, when adherence to
principle may possibly cause them some trouble, and perhaps lead to some
loss. If the Southern plant has not become the tyrant of Europe, as for
a long time it was of America, it has certainly done much in a brief
time to unsettle English opinion, and to convert the Abolitionists of
Great Britain, the men who could tax the whites of their empire in the
annual interest of one hundred million dollars in order that the slavery
of the blacks in that empire might come to an end, into the supporters
of American slavery, and of its extension over this continent, which
might be made into a Cotton paradise, if the supply of negroes from
Africa should not be interrupted; and the logical conclusion from the
position laid down by Lord John Russell is, that the slave-trade must
be revived, as that is what his "belligerent" friends of the Southern
Confederacy are contending for. The American people had long been
taunted by the English with their subserviency to the slaveholding
interest, and with their readiness to sacrifice the welfare of a weak
and wronged race on the altars of Mammon. Whether these taunts were
well deserved by us, we shall not stop to inquire; but it is the most
melancholy of facts, that, no sooner have we given the best evidence
which it is in our power to give of our determination to confine slavery
within its present limits, and to put an end to the abuse of our
Government's power by the slaveholders, than the Government of Great
Britain, acting as the agent and representative of the British nation,
places itself directly across our path, and prepares to tell us to
stay our hand, and not dare to meddle with the institution of slavery,
because from the success of that institution proceeds cotton, and upon
the supply of cotton not being interfered with depend the welfare and
the strength of the liberty-and-order loving and morality-and-religion
worshipping race! So far as they have dared to do it, the British
ministers have placed their country on the side of those men who have
revolted in America because they saw that they could no longer make use
of slavery to misgovern the Union; and we must wait to see how far they
are to be supported by the opinion of that country, before a distinction
can be made between the ministers and the people. Left to themselves,
and unbiased by any of those selfish motives that go to make up the sum
of politics, we have not the slightest doubt that the English people, in
the proportion of ten to one, would decide in behalf of the supporters
of freedom in this country; but we are by no means so sure that the
ministers would not be sustained, were they to plunge their country into
a third American War, and sustained, too, in sending fleets to raise
our blockade of the American coast of Africa, and armies to fight the
battles of Slavery in Virginia and the Carolinas, where British officers
stole negroes eighty years ago, and sent them to the West India markets,
and found that that kind of commerce flourished well in war. A war for
the maintenance of American slavery, and to secure for slaveholders
the full and perfect enjoyment of all the "rights" of their "peculiar"
property, would be no worse than was the war which was waged against our
ancestors of the Revolution, or than those wars which were carried on
against Republican and Imperial France, ostensibly for the preservation
of order, but really for the restoration of a despotism which cannot now
find a single apologist on earth. There is often a wide distinction to
be made between a nation and its government, as our own recent history
but too deplorably proves; and the men who govern England may be enabled
to do that now which has more than once been done by their predecessors,
array their country in support of evil against that country's sense and
wishes. We should be prepared for this, and should look the evil that
threatens us fairly in the face, as the first thing to be done to
prevent it from getting beyond the threatening-point. The words of Sir
Boyle Roche, that the best way to avoid danger is to meet it plump, are
strikingly applicable to our condition. If we would not have a foreign
war on our hands before we shall have settled with the rebels, we should
make it very clear to foreigners that to fight with us would be a sort
of business that would be sure not to pay.

That war may follow from the course which England has elected to pursue
toward the parties to our civil conflict will not appear a strange view
of affairs to those who know something of the history of Great Britain
and the United States in the early part of this century. That which the
British Government is now doing bears strong resemblance to the course
which the same Government, with different ministers, pursued toward the
United States during the war with Napoleon I., and which led to the
contest of 1812,--a contest which Franklin had predicted, and which he
said would be our War of _Independence_, as that of 1775-83 had been
our War of _Revolution_. The same ignorance of America, and the same
disposition to insult, to annoy, and to injure Americans, that were so
common under the ministries of Pitt, Portland, and Perceval, and which
move both our mirth and our indignation when we read of them long after
the tormentors and the tormented have gone to their last repose, are
exhibited by the Palmerston Ministry,--though it is but justice to Lord
Palmerston to say, that he has borne himself more manfully toward us
than have his associates. England treats us as she would not dare to
treat any European power, making an exception in our case to her
general policy, which has been, since 1815, to truckle before her
contemporaries. She has crouched before France repeatedly, when she
had much better ground for fighting her than she now has for taking
preliminary steps to fight us. We are not entitled to the same treatment
that she thinks is due to the nations of the continent of Europe. She
cannot rid herself of the feeling that we still are colonists, and that
the rules which apply to her intercourse with old nations cannot apply
to her intercourse with us, the United States having been a portion of
the British Empire within the recollection of persons yet living. No
sooner, therefore, had a state of things arisen here that seemed to
warrant a renewal of the insulting treatment that was a thing of course
in 1807, than we were made to see how hollow were those professions of
friendship for America that were not uncommon in the mouths of British
statesmen during the ten or twelve years that preceded the advent of
Secession. So long as we were deemed powerful, we received assurances of
"the most distinguished consideration"; but we have at last ascertained
that those assurances were as false as they are when they are appended
to the letter of some diplomatist who is engaged in the work of cheating
some one who is neither better nor worse than himself. It is positively
mortifying to think how shockingly we have been taken in, and that the
"cordial understanding" that had, apparently, been growing up between
the two nations was a misunderstanding throughout, though we were
sincere in desiring its existence. Perhaps, when the evidences of the
strength that we possess, in spite of Secession, shall have all been
placed before the rulers of England, they will be found less ready to
quarrel with the American people than they were a month ago. A nation
that is capable of placing a quarter of a million of men in the field in
sixty days, and of giving to that immense force a respectable degree of
consistency and organization, is worth being conciliated after having
been insulted. But would any amount of conciliation suffice to restore
the feeling that existed here when the Prince of Wales was our guest? We
fear that it would not, and that for some years to come the sentiment
in America toward England will be as hostile as it was in the last
generation, when it was in the power of any politician to make political
capital by assailing the mother-land. The belief is created that England
in her heart hates us as profoundly as ever she did, that the forty-six
years' peace has produced no change in her feeling with respect to us,
and that she is watching ever for an opportunity to gratify the grudge
of which we are the object. Practically it will matter very little
whether this belief shall be well founded or not, so long as English
ministers, whether from want of judgment or from any other cause, shall
omit no occasion for the insulting and annoying of the United States. An
opinion that is sincerely held by the people of a powerful nation is in
itself a fact of the first importance, no matter whether it be founded
in truth or not; and if the blundering of another powerful nation shall
help to maintain that opinion, that nation would have no right to
complain of any consequences that should follow from its inability to
comprehend the condition of its neighbor. This country will not submit
to the degradation which England would inflict upon it, and which no
other European nation appears inclined to aid the insular empire in
inflicting. Even Spain, proverbially foolish in her foreign policy, and
seemingly unable to get within a hundred years of the present time,
observes a decorum in the premises to which Great Britain is a stranger.

The manner of proceeding on the part of the British Government, and
the arguments which have been put forward in justification of its
pro-slavery policy, are serious aggravations of its original offence.
The first declaration of Lord John Russell, Secretary of State for
Foreign Affairs, was to the effect that England would not show any favor
to the Secessionists. His subordinate (Lord Wodehouse, Under-Secretary
of State for Foreign Affairs) was even more emphatic than his chief in
speaking to the same purpose. Suddenly, the Foreign Secretary turned
about, with a facility and promptness for which men had not been
prepared even by his rapid changes on the questions of the Russian War
and Italian Nationality, and said that the Southern Confederacy would be
recognized as a belligerent, which is, to all intents and purposes of a
practical character, the same thing as acknowledging it to be a nation.
What was the cause of this sudden change? We have only to look at the
dates of the events that, followed the fall of Fort Sumter to find an
answer. Lord John Russell believed that the capital of the United States
had fallen into the hands of the rebels, and he was anxious to please
the masters of the cotton-fields by showing them that he had not waited
to hear of their victory to behold their virtues. There was some excuse
for his belief that the raid upon Washington had succeeded; for down to
the 27th of April there was but too much reason for supposing that that
city was in serious danger of becoming the prey of the Confederates,
who might have taken it, if they had been half as forward in their
preparations for war as they were supposed to have been by the chiefs of
the British Government. But this belief that the rebels had delivered
an effective blow at the Union only places the meanness of Lord John
Russell and his associates in a worse light than we could view it in,
if they had acted solely upon principle. Their political opinions had
pledged them to oppose the principles of the Secessionists; but they
were in a hurry to give all the support they could to those principles,
because they had come to the conclusion that victory was to be with the
Secessionists. They desired to appropriate the merit of being the first
of European statesmen to welcome the destroyers of the American Union
into the family of nations. Had the event justified their expectations,
they would have gained much by their action, and would have enjoyed
whatever of glory the European world might have been disposed to accord
to the allies of American pirates.

The Royal Proclamation of May 13th, in which the neutrality of England
is peremptorily laid down, and all British subjects are forbidden to
take any part in the war "between the Government of the United States of
America and certain States calling themselves the Confederate States of
America," is a paper in many respects most offensive to the people of
this country, though probably it was better in its intention than it
is in its execution. That part of it which most concerns us is the
recognition of "any blockade lawfully and actually established by or on
behalf of either of the said contending parties." It is important to us
that the British Government has admitted our right to blockade the ports
of the rebels, provided we shall do so in force; and though Lord Derby
has exhibited his ignorance of our naval power by saying that we cannot
enforce the blockade we have declared and instituted, we shall show to
the world, before the next cotton-crop shall be ready for exportation,
that we are fully up to the work that is demanded of us, by having at
least one hundred vessels, strongly armed and well manned, employed in
watching every part of the Southern coast to which any foreign ship
would think of going with a cargo or for the purpose of receiving one.
The naval strength of the Union is as capable of vast and effective
development as its military strength; and there is no reason why we
should not have afloat, and ready for action, by the beginning of
autumn, fleets sufficient to close up the Confederate ports as
thoroughly as the Allies closed those of Russia in 1854-6, and the
advanced guard of other fleets to be made ready to contend with the
forces that insolent foreign nations may send into the waters of America
for the purpose of fighting the battles of the slaveholders.

With the single exception of the admission of the right of blockade, the
Royal Proclamation is unfriendly to the United States. It admits the
right of the Confederacy's Government to issue letters of marque, from
which it follows that American ships captured by cruisers of the rebels
could be taken into English ports, and there sold, after having been
condemned by prize courts sitting at any one of the places belonging
to the Confederacy. This is no light aid to the pirates; for there are
English ports on every sea, and on almost every one of the ocean's
tributaries. Vessels belonging to America, and captured by the
Confederacy's privateers in the Mediterranean, could be taken into
Gibraltar, into Valetta, and into Corfu, all of which are English ports.
Those captured in the Mexican Gulf and the Caribbean could be sent into
any one of the many ports that belong to England in the West Indies.
If captured in the North Atlantic, or the Baltic, or any other of the
waters of Northern Europe, they could be sent into the ports of England,
Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. In the South Atlantic are St. Helena and
Cape Town, which would afford shelter to Mr. Davis's privateers and
their prizes. In the East Indies British ports are numerous, from Aden
to the last places wrested from the Chinese, and they would be all open
to the enterprise of the Confederacy's cruisers. In the Pacific are
the English harbors on the Northwest Coast; and in Australia there are
British ports that ought, considering their origin, to be particularly
friendly to men who should enter the navy of the Secessionists. England
has in advance provided places for the transaction of all the business
that shall be necessary to render privateering profitable to the
"lawless brood" of the whole world. Into all of her thousand seaports
could the lucky Confederates go, and dispose of their captures, just as
the old Buccaneers used to sell their prizes in the ports of the English
colonies. Nor could all the efforts of all the navies of the world
prevent privateers from preying upon our commerce, as they are to be
commissioned in foreign countries, and will sail from the ports of those
countries. The East Indian seas, the Levant, and the Caribbean are the
old homes and haunts of pirates; and under the encouragement which
England is disposed to afford to piracy, for the especial benefit
of Slavery, the buccaneering business could not fail to flourish
exceedingly. True, our Government would not allow privateers to be
fitted out in our ports, during the Russian War, to prey upon the
commerce of France and England; but what of that? One good turn does
_not_ deserve another, according to the public morality of nations so
orderly and pious as are England and France.

According to the Royal Proclamation, the blockade of any one of the
Northern ports by one of the ships of the Secessionists would be as
lawful an act as the blockade of Charleston by a dozen of the Union's
cruisers; and England allows that a privateer from Pensacola could seize
an English ship that should be engaged in bringing arras to New York or
Philadelphia. Thus are the two "parties" to the war placed on the same
footing by the decision of the English Government, though the one party
is a nation having treaties with England, and engaged in maintaining the
cause of order, and the other is only a band of conspirators, who have
established their power through the institution of a system of terror,
much after the fashion of Monsieur Robespierre and his associates, whose
conduct was so offensive to all Britons seven-and-sixty years ago. But
Montgomery is much farther from England than Paris, and the French had
no cotton to tempt the British statesmen of 1793-4 to strike an account
between manufacturing and morality. Distance and time appear to have
united their powers to make things appear fair in the eyes of Russell
that inexpressibly horrible to those of "the monster Pitt."

The Royal Proclamation forbids Englishmen affording the Union assistance
in any way. No British gunmaker can sell us a weapon, no English
merchant can use one of his ships to send us the cannon and rifles we
have purchased in his country, and no English subject of any degree can
lawfully carry a despatch for our Government. Never was there--a
more forbidding state-paper put forth; and the arid language of the
Proclamation is rendered doubly disagreeable by the purpose for which
it is employed. We are placed by its terms on the level of the men of
Montgomery, who must be vastly pleased to see that they are held in as
much esteem in England as are the constitutional authorities of the
United States. If we were to seek for a contrast to this extraordinary
document, we should find it in the proclamation put forth by our own
Government at the time of the "Canadian Rebellion," and in which it was
_not_ sought to convey the impression that we had the right to regard
rebels and loyalists as men entitled to the same treatment at our hands.
It is a source of pride to Americans, that nothing in their own history
can be quoted in justification of the cold-blooded conduct of the
British Government.

It has been sought to defend the action of England by referring to
precedents. We are reminded by Lord John Russell of the acknowledgment
of the Greeks as belligerents by England; and others have pointed to her
acknowledgment of the Belgians, and of those Spanish--Americans who had
revolted against the rule of Old Spain. We cannot go into an extended
examination of these precedents, for the purpose of showing that they do
not apply to the present case; but we may say, and an examination into
the facts will be found to justify our assertion, that England was in
no such hurry to acknowledge the Greeks, the Belgians, and the
Spanish-Americans as she has been to acknowledge the Secessionists.
Years elapsed after the beginning of the struggle in Greece before the
English Government professed to regard the parties to that memorable
conflict even with indifference. The British historian of the Greek
Revolution, writing of the year 1821, says,--"Among the European
Governments, England was probably, next to Austria, the one most hostile
to Greece at that period, when her foreign policy was guided by a spirit
akin to that of Metternich; the hired organs of Ministry were loud in
defence of Islam, and gall dropped from their pens on the Christian
cause." And when, some years later, England did profess neutrality
between the "parties" to the war, it was less to prevent the Greeks
from falling into the hands of the Turks than to prevent the Turks from
falling into the hands of the Russians. Another object she had in view
was the suppression of that horrible piracy which then raged in the
Hellenic seas. She was then as anxious to suppress piracy because it was
injurious to her commerce, as, apparently, she is now anxious to promote
it because its existence would be injurious to our commerce. The famous
Treaty of London, made in 1827, the parties to which were Russia,
France, and England, was justified on the ground of "the necessity of
putting an end to the sanguinary contest which, by delivering up the
Greek provinces and the isles of the Archipelago to the disorders
of anarchy, produces daily fresh impediments to the commerce of the
European states, and gives occasion to piracies which not only expose
the subjects of the contracting powers to considerable losses, but
render necessary burdensome measures of suppression and protection."
In the autumn of the same year, an Order in Council decreed that "the
British ships in the Mediterranean should seize every vessel they saw
under the Greek flag, or armed and fitted out at a Greek port, except
such as were under the immediate orders of the Greek Government." The
object of this strong measure was the suppression of piracy. Thus
England had to interfere to put down the Greek pirates; and if she means
to insist upon there being any resemblance between the case of the
Greeks and that of the Secessionists, (President Lincoln to appear as
the Grand Turk, or Sultan Mahmoud II., the destroyer of the Janizaries,)
we should not object, so far as relates to the finale of the piece,
which is very likely, through her most injudicious action, to produce
a large crop of Selims and Abdallahs, by whom any amount of sea-roving
will be done, but as much at Britain's expense as at ours.

The case of Belgium is not at all to the point, the Dutch being by no
means anxious that the foolish arrangement made at Vienna, by which
Holland and Belgium had been formally united, should be continued,
though the House of Orange was averse to the loss of so much of its
dominions. The disputes that followed the expulsion of the Dutch from
Belgium were about details, and the whole matter was finally settled by
the action of the Great Powers, and England was not then in a condition
to decide it, had it been left for her decision. The makers of the
Kingdom of the Netherlands destroyed their own work, after it had been
found to be a bad job, and had had fifteen years and upward of fair
trial. England had no choice in the matter,--especially as the effect
of determined opposition on her part would have thrown Belgium into the
arms of France, and have brought about a French war, which would have
extended to the whole of Europe, with the revolutionists in every
country for the allies of France. Louis Philippe either would have been
overthrown very speedily after his elevation, or he would have been
enabled to wear his new crown only by placing the old _bonnet rouge_
above it.

That England recognized the Spanish-Americans is true; but why did
she recognize them? Because she had to choose between doing that and
allowing the Holy Alliance to enter upon the reconquest of the Spanish
colonies. Mr. Canning declared that he had called a new world into
existence to redress the balance of the old,--and that, if France, as
the tool of the Holy Alliance, should have Spain, it should not be
"Spain--with the Indies." This was in 1823, though it was not until 1826
that Mr. Canning made use of the language quoted; and so serious was the
matter, that our country was prepared to make common cause with England
in resisting the interference of the Allies and their dependants in the
affairs of Spanish-America. The question was one which did not relate to
English interests alone, but concerned those of the whole world; and it
was not decided with reference to the interests of any one country,
but after it had been ascertained that its decision would closely and
immediately affect the welfare of Christendom. England had to choose
between diplomatic resistance to the Continental Powers and the support
of a policy which she could not adopt without degrading herself.
Naturally she elected to resist, and she did so with success. The
Spanish-American countries, however, were freed from the rule of Spain
long before she recognized them, and Spain had not the means of subduing
them. England, therefore, did not acknowledge them as against Spain, but
as against France, and in opposition to the Holy Alliance, the decrees
of which France was engaged in enforcing at the expense of the Spanish
Constitutionalists, and which process of enforcement the French
Government was prepared to extend to Peru and Mexico, and to the whole
of that part of America which had belonged to the Spanish Bourbons. Mr.
Canning's conduct was statesmanlike, but it was also spiteful; and had
England been in the condition to send sixty thousand men to Spain,
probably the recognition of the independence of Spanish-America would
have been much longer delayed. He had to strike a blow at a mighty
enemy, and he delivered it skilfully at that enemy's only exposed point,
where it told at once, and where it is telling to this day. But his
action affords no precedent to the present rulers of England for the
treatment of our case, for he moved not until after the colonies had
achieved their independence. Now the British Government proclaims its
purpose to acknowledge the Southern Confederacy in less than a month
after the beginning of the attack on Fort Sumter, and in about a week
after it had heard of the fall of that ill-used fortress! Is there not
some difference between the two cases?

England did not admit the Poles to the honors she has allowed to the
American Secessionists, after their revolt from the Czar, in 1830-31,
though their cause was popular in that country, and they had achieved
such successes over the Russian armies as the Secessionists have not
won over the armies of the Union. Neither did she acknowledge the
Hungarians, in 1849, though they had actually won their independence,
which they would have preserved but for the intervention of Russia. It
was not for her interest that Austria should be weakened. Is it for her
interest that the United States should be weakened? Is it the purpose of
her Government to give our rebels encouragement, step by step, in order
that the American nation may be thrown back to the place it held twenty
years ago?

The Cottonocracy of England, and those who for reasons of political
interest support them, proceed erroneously, we think, when they assume
that American cotton is the chief necessary of English life, and that
without a full supply of it there must ensue great suffering throughout
the British Empire. That it would be better for England to receive her
cotton without interruption may be admitted, without its following that
she must be ruined if there should be a discontinuance of the American
cotton-trade. Men are so accustomed to think that that which is must
ever continue to be, or all will be lost, that it is not surprising that
British manufacturers should suppose change in this instance to be ruin.
They are quite ready to innovate on the British Constitution, because in
that way they hope to obtain political power, and to injure the landed
aristocracy; but the idea of change in modes of business strikes them
with terror, and hence all their wonted sagacity is now at fault.
Lancashire is to become a Sahara, because President Lincoln, in
accordance with the demands of twenty million Americans, proclaims the
ports of the rebels under blockade, and enforces that blockade with a
fleet quite sufficient to satisfy even Lord John Russell's notions as to
effectiveness. We have never believed, and we do not now believe, that
it is in the power of any part of America thus to control the condition
of England. We would not have it so, if we could, as we are sure that
the power would be abused. If America really possessed the ability to
rule England that her cotton-manufacturers assert she possesses, all
Englishmen should rejoice that events have occurred here that promise to
work out their country's deliverance from so degrading a vassalage. But
it is not so, and England will survive the event of our conflict, no
matter what that event may be. The nation that triumphed over the
Continental System of Napoleon, and which was not injured by our Embargo
Acts of fifty years ago, should be ashamed to lay so much stress upon
the value of our cotton-crop, when it has its choice of the lands of the
tropics from which to draw the raw material it requires. As to France,
it would be most impolitic in her to seek our destruction, unless she
wishes to see the restoration of England's maritime supremacy. The
French navy, great and powerful as it now is, can be regarded only as
the result of a skilful and most costly forcing process, carried on by
Bourbons, Orleanists, Republicans, and Imperialists, during forty-six
years of maritime peace. It could not be maintained against the attacks
of England, which is a naval country by position and interest. We never
could be the rival of France, but we could always be relied upon to
throw our weight on her side in a maritime war; and while our policy
would never allow of our having a very large navy in time of peace, we
have in abundance all the elements of naval power. Nor should England
be indifferent to the aid which we could afford her, were she to be
assailed by the principal nations of Continental Europe. Strike the
American Union out of the list of the nations, or cause it to be
sensibly weakened, or treat it so as to revive in force the old American
hatred of England, and it is possible that the predictions of those who
see in Napoleon III. only the Avenger of Napoleon I. may be justified by
the event.

* * * * *



We marched up the hill, and when the dust opened there was our Big Tent
ready pitched.

It was an enormous tent,--the Sibley pattern modified. A simple soul in
our ranks looked up and said,--"Tent! canvas! I don't see it: that's
marble!" Whereupon a simpler soul informed us,--"Boys, that's the

And so it was the Capitol,--as glad to see the New York Seventh Regiment
as they to see it. The Capitol was to be our quarters, and I was pleased
to notice that the top of the dome had been left off for ventilation.

The Seventh had had a wearisome and anxious progress from New York, as I
have chronicled in the June "Atlantic." We had marched from Annapolis,
while "rumors to right of us, rumors to left of us, volleyed and
thundered." We had not expected that the attack upon us would be merely
verbal. The truculent citizens of Maryland notified us that we were to
find every barn a Concord and every hedge a Lexington. Our Southern
brethren at present repudiate their debts; but we fancied they would
keep their warlike promises. At least, everybody thought, "They will
fire over our heads, or bang blank cartridges at us." Every nose was
sniffing for the smell of powder. Vapor instead of valor nobody looked
for. So the march had been on the _qui vive_. We were happy enough that
it was over, and successful.

Successful, because Mumbo Jumbo was not installed in the White House. It
is safe to call Jeff. Davis Mumbo Jumbo now. But there is no doubt that
the luckless man had visions of himself receiving guests, repudiating
debts, and distributing embassies in Washington, May 1, 1861. And as to
La' Davis, there seems to be documentary evidence that she meant to be
"At Home" in the capital, bringing the first strawberries with her from
Montgomery for her May-day _soiree_. Bah! one does not like to sneer at
people who have their necks in the halter; but one happy result of this
disturbance is that the disturbers have sent themselves to Coventry. The
Lincoln party may be wanting in finish. Finish comes with use. A little
roughness of manner, the genuine simplicity of a true soul like Lincoln,
is attractive. But what man of breeding could ever stand the type
Southern Senator? But let him rest in such peace as he can find! He and
his peers will not soon be seen where we of the New York Seventh were
now entering.

They gave us the Representatives Chamber for quarters. Without running
the gauntlet of caucus primary and election, every one of us attained
that sacred shrine.

In we marched, tramp, tramp. Bayonets took the place of buncombe. The
frowzy creatures in ill-made dress-coats, shimmering satin waistcoats,
and hats of the tile model, who lounge, spit, and vociferate there, and
name themselves M.C., were off. Our neat uniforms and bright barrels
showed to great advantage, compared with the usual costumes of the usual
_dramatis personae_ of the scene.

It was dramatic business, our entrance there. The new Chamber is
gorgeous, but ineffective. Its ceiling is flat, and panelled with
transparencies. Each panel is the coat-of-arms of a State, painted on
glass. I could not see that the impartial sunbeams, tempered by this
skylight, had burned away the insignia of the malecontent States. Nor
had any rampant Secessionist thought to punch any of the seven lost
Pleiads out from that firmament with a long pole. Crimson and gold are
the prevailing hues of the decorations. There is no unity and breadth of
coloring. The desks of the members radiate in double files from a white
marble tribune at the centre of the semicircle.

In came the new actors on this scene. Our presence here was the
inevitable sequel of past events. We appeared with bayonets and bullets
because of the bosh uttered on this floor; because of the bills--with
treasonable stump-speeches in their bellies--passed here; because of
the cowardice of the poltroons, the imbecility of the dodgers, and the
arrogance of the bullies, who had here cooperated to blind and corrupt
the minds of the people. Talk had made a miserable mess of it. The
_ultima ratio_ was now appealed to.

Some of our companies were marched up-stairs into the galleries. The
sofas were to be their beds. With their white cross-belts and bright
breastplates, they made a very picturesque body of spectators for
whatever happened in the Hall, and never failed to applaud in the right
or the wrong place at will.

Most of us were bestowed in the amphitheatre. Each desk received its
man. He was to scribble on it by day, and sleep under it by night. When
the desks were all taken, the companies overflowed into the corners and
into the lobbies. The staff took committee-rooms. The Colonel reigned in
the Speaker's parlor.

Once in, firstly, we washed.

Such a wash merits a special paragraph. I compliment the M.C.s, our
hosts, upon their water-privileges. How we welcomed this chief luxury
after our march! And thenceforth how we prized it! For the clean face
is an institution which requires perpetual renovation at Washington.
"Constant vigilance is the price" of neatness. When the sky here is not
travelling earthward in rain, earth is mounting skyward in dust. So much
dirt must have an immoral effect.

After the wash we showed ourselves to the eyes of Washington, marching
by companies, each to a different hotel, to dinner. This became one of
the ceremonies of our barrack-life. We liked it. The Washingtonians were
amused and encouraged by it. Three times a day, with marked punctuality,
our lines formed and tramped down the hill to scuffle with awkward
squads of waiters for fare more or less tolerable. In these little
marches, we encountered by-and-by the other regiments, and, most
soldierly of all, the Rhode Island men, in blue flannel blouses and
_bersagliere_ hats. But of them hereafter.

It was a most attractive post of ours at the Capitol. Spring was at its
freshest and fairest. Every day was more exquisite than its forerunner.
We drilled morning, noon, and evening, almost hourly, in the pretty
square east of the building. Old soldiers found that they rattled
through the manual twice as alert as ever before. Recruits became old
soldiers in a trice. And as to awkward squads, men that would have been
the veriest louts and lubbers in the piping times of peace now learned
to toe the mark, to whisk their eyes right and their eyes left, to drop
the butts of their muskets without crushing their corns, and all the
mysteries of flank and file,--and so became full-fledged heroes before
they knew it.

In the rests between our drills we lay under the young shade on the
sweet young grass, with the odors of snowballs and horse-chestnut blooms
drifting to us with every whiff of breeze, and amused ourselves with
watching the evolutions of our friends of the Massachusetts Eighth, and
other less experienced soldiers, as they appeared upon the field. They,
too, like ourselves, were going through the transformations. These
sturdy fellows were then in a rough enough chrysalis of uniform. That
shed, they would look worthy of themselves.

But the best of the entertainment was within the Capitol. Some three
thousand or more of us were now quartered there. The Massachusetts
Eighth were under the dome. No fear of want of air for them. The
Massachusetts Sixth were eloquent for their State in the Senate Chamber.
It was singularly fitting, among the many coincidences in the history of
this regiment, that they should be there, tacitly avenging the assault
upon Sumner and the attempts to bully the impregnable Wilson.

In the recesses, caves, and crypts of the Capitol what other legions
were bestowed I do not know. I daily lost myself, and sometimes when
out of my reckoning was put on the way by sentries of strange corps, a
Reading Light Infantry man, or some other. We all fraternized. There was
a fine enthusiasm among us: not the soldierly rivalry in discipline that
may grow up in future between men of different States acting together,
but the brotherhood of ardent fellows first in the field and earnest in
the cause.

All our life in the Capitol was most dramatic and sensational.

Before it was fairly light in the dim interior of the Representatives
Chamber, the _reveilles_ of the different regiments came rattling
through the corridors. Every snorer's trumpet suddenly paused. The
impressive sound of the hushed breathing of a thousand sleepers, marking
off the fleet moments of the night, gave way to a most vociferous
uproar. The boy element is large in the Seventh Regiment. Its slang
dictionary is peculiar and unabridged. As soon as we woke, the pit began
to chaff the galleries, and the galleries the pit. We were allowed noise
nearly _ad libitum_. Our riotous tendencies, if they existed, escaped
by the safety-valve of the larynx. We joked, we shouted, we sang, we
mounted the Speaker's desk and made speeches,--always to the point; for
if any but a wit ventured to give tongue, he was coughed down without
ceremony. Let the M.C.s adopt this plan and silence their dunces.

With all our jollity we preserved very tolerable decorum. The regiment
is _assez bien compose_. Many of its privates are distinctly gentlemen
of breeding and character. The tone is mainly good, and the _esprit de
corps_ high. If the Colonel should say, "Up, boys, and at 'em!" I know
that the Seventh would do brilliantly in the field. I speak now of its
behavior in-doors. This certainly did it credit. Our thousand did the
Capitol little harm that a corporal's guard of Biddies with mops and
tubs could not repair in a forenoon's campaign.

Perhaps we should have served our country better by a little Vandalism.
The decorations of the Capitol have a slight flavor of the Southwestern
steamboat saloon. The pictures (now, by the way, carefully covered)
would most of them be the better, if the figures were bayoneted and the
backgrounds sabred out. Both--pictures and decorations--belong to that
bygone epoch of our country when men shaved the moustache, dressed like
parsons, said "Sir," and chewed tobacco,--a transition epoch, now become
an historic blank.

The home-correspondence of our legion of young heroes was illimitable.
Every one had his little tale of active service to relate. A decimation
of the regiment, more or less, had profited by the tender moment of
departure to pop the question and to receive the dulcet "Yes." These
lucky fellows were of course writing to Dulcinea regularly, three meals
of love a day. Mr. Van Wyck, M.C., and a brace of colleagues were kept
hard at work all day giving franks and saving threepennies to the ardent
scribes. Uncle Sam lost certainly three thousand cents a day in this

What crypts and dens, caves and cellars there are under that great
structure! And barrels of flour in every one of them this month of May,
1861. Do civilians eat in this proportion? Or does long standing in the
"Position of a Soldier" (_vide_ "Tactics" for a view of that graceful
_pose_) increase a man's capacity for bread and beef so enormously?

It was infinitely picturesque in these dim vaults by night. Sentries
were posted at every turn. Their guns gleamed in the gaslight. Sleepers
were lying in their blankets wherever the stones were softest. Then in
the guard-room the guard were waiting their turn. We have not had much
of this scenery in America, and the physiognomy of volunteer military
life is quite distinct from anything one sees in European service. The
People have never had occasion until now to occupy their Palace with
armed men.


We were to be sworn into the service of the United States the afternoon
of April 26th. All the Seventh, raw men and ripe men, marched out
into the sweet spring sunshine. Every fellow had whitened his belts,
burnished his arms, curled his moustache, and was scowling his manliest
for Uncle Sam's approval.

We were drawn up by companies in the Capitol Square for mustering in.

Presently before us appeared a gorgeous officer, in full fig. "Major
McDowell!" somebody whispered, as we presented arms. He is a General,
or perhaps a Field Marshal, now. Promotions come with a hop, skip, and
jump, in these times, when demerit resigns and merit stands ready to
step to the front.

Major-Colonel-General McDowell, in a soldierly voice, now called the
roll, and we all answered, "Here!" in voices more or less soldierly. He
entertained himself with this ceremony for an hour. The roll over, we
were marched and formed in three sides of a square along the turf. Again
the handsome officer stepped forward, and recited to us the conditions
of our service. "In accordance with a special arrangement, made with the
Governor of New York," says the Major, "you are now mustered into the
service of the United States, to serve for thirty days, unless sooner
discharged"; and continues he, "The oath will now be read to you by the

Hereupon a gentleman _en mufti_, but wearing a military cap with an
oil-skin cover, was revealed. Until now he had seemed an impassive
supernumerary. But he was biding his time, and--with due respect be it
said--saving his wind, and now in a Stentorian voice he ejaculated,--

"_The following is the oath!_"

_Per se_ this remark was not comic. But there was something in the
dignitary's manner which tickled the regiment. As one man the thousand
smiled, and immediately adopted this new epigram among its private

But the good-natured smile passed away as we listened to the impressive
oath, following its title.

We raised our right hands, and, clause by clause, repeated the solemn
obligation, in the name of God, to be faithful soldiers of our country.
It was not quite so comprehensive as the beautiful knightly pledge
administered by King Arthur to his comrades, and transmitted to our time
by Major-General Tennyson of the Parnassus Division. We did not swear,
as they did of yore, to be true lovers as well as loyal soldiers. _Ca va
sans dire_ in 1861,--particularly when you were engaged to your Amanda
the evening before you started, as was the case with many a stalwart
brave and many a mighty man of a corporal or sergeant in our ranks.

We were thrilled and solemnized by the stately ceremony of the oath.
This again was most dramatic. A grand public recognition of a duty. A
reavowal of the fundamental belief that our system was worthy of the
support, and our Government of the confidence, of all loyal men. And
there was danger in the middle distance of our view into the future,
--danger of attack, or dangerous duty of advance, just enough to keep
any trifler from feeling that his pledge was mere holiday business.

So, under the cloudless blue sky, we echoed in unison the sentences of
the oath. A little low murmur of rattling arms, shaken with the hearty
utterance, made itself heard in the pauses. Then the band crashed in

We were now miserable mercenaries, serving for low pay and rough
rations. Read the Southern papers and you will see us described.
"Mudsills,"--that, I believe, is the technical word. By repeating a form
of words after a gentleman in a glazed cap and black raiment, we had
suffered change into base assassins, the offscouring of society,
starving for want of employment, and willing to "imbrue our coarse fists
in fraternal blood" for the sum of eleven dollars a month, besides hard
tack, salt junk, and the hope of a Confederate States bond apiece for
bounty, or free loot in the treasuries of Florida, Mississippi, and
Arkansas, after the war. How carefully from that day we watched the
rise and fall of United States stocks! If they should go low among
the nineties, we felt that our eleven dollars _per mensem_ would be

We stayed in our palace for a week or so after April 26th, the day of
the oath. That was the most original part of our duty thus far. New York
never had so unanimous a deputation on the floor of the Representatives
Chamber before, and never a more patriotic one. Take care, Gentlemen
Members of Congress! look to your words and your Acts honestly and
wisely in future! don't palter with Liberty again! it is not well that
soldiers should get into the habit of thinking they are always to
unravel the snarls and cut the knots twisted and tied by clumsy or
crafty fingers. The traitor States already need the _main de fer_,--yes,
and without the _gant de velours_. Let us beware, and keep ourselves
worthy of the boon of self-government, man by man! I do not wish to
hear, "Order arms!" and "Charge bayonets!" in the Capitol. But this
present defence of Free Speech and Free Thought ends, let us hope, that
danger forever.

When we had been ten days in our showy barracks we began to quarrel with
luxury. What had private soldiers to do with the desks of law-givers?
Why should we be allowed to revel longer in the dining-rooms of
Washington hotels, partaking the admirable dainties there?

The May sunshine, the birds and the breezes of May, invited us to
Camp,--the genuine thing, under canvas. Besides, Uncles Sam and Abe
wanted our room for other company. Washington was filling up fast with
uniforms. It seemed as if all the able-bodied men in the country were
moving, on the first of May, with all their property on their backs, to
agreeable, but dusty lodgings on the Potomac.

We also made our May move. One afternoon, my company, the Ninth, and the
Engineers, the Tenth, were detailed to follow Captain Viele, and lay out
a camp on Meridian Hill.


As we had the first choice, we got, on the whole, the best site for a
camp. We occupy the villa and farm of Dr. Stone, two miles due north of
Willard's Hotel. I assume that hotel as a peculiarly American point of
departure, and also because it is the hub of Washington,--the centre of
an eccentric, having the White House at the end of its shorter, and the
Capitol at the end of its longer radius,--moral, so they say, as well
as geometrical.

Sundry dignitaries, Presidents and what not, have lived here in times
gone by. Whoever chose the site ought to be kindly remembered for his
good taste. The house stands upon the pretty terrace commanding the
plain of Washington. From the upper windows we can see the Potomac
opening southward like a lake, and between us and the water ambitious
Washington stretching itself along and along, like the shackly files of
an army of recruits.

Oaks love the soil of this terrace. There are some noble ones on the
undulations before the house. It may be permitted even for one who is
supposed to think of nothing but powder and ball to notice one of these
grand trees. Let the ivy-covered stem of the Big Oak of Camp Cameron
take its place in literature! And now enough of scenery. The landscape
will stay, but the troops will not. There are trees and slopes of
green-sward elsewhere, and shrubbery begins to blossom in these bright
days of May before a thousand pretty homes. The tents and the tent-life
are more interesting for the moment than objects which cannot decamp.

The old villa serves us for head-quarters. It is a respectable place,
not without its pretensions. Four granite pillars, as true grit as if
the two Presidents Adams had lugged them on their shoulders all the way
from Quincy, Mass., make a carriage-porch. Here is the Colonel in the
big west parlor, the Quartermaster and Commissary in the rooms with
sliding-doors on the east, the Hospital upstairs, and so on. Other
rooms, numerous as the cells in a monastery, serve as quarters for the
Engineer Company. These dens are not monastic in aspect. The house is,
of course, a Certosa, so far as the gentler sex are concerned; but no
anchorites dwell here at present. If the Seventh disdained everything
but soldiers' fare,--which it does not,--common civility would require
that it should do violence to its disinclination for comfort and luxury,
and consume the stores sent down by ardent patriots in New York. The
cellars of the villa overflow with edibles, and in the greenhouse is a
most appetizing array of barrels, boxes, cans, and bottles, shipped here
that our Sybarites might not sigh for the flesh-pots of home. Such trash
may do very well to amuse the palate in these times of half-peace,
half-hostility; but when

"war, which for a space does fail,
Shall doubly thundering swell the gale,"

then every soldier should drop gracefully to the simple ration, and
cease to dabble with frying-pans. Cooks to their aprons, and soldiers to
their guns!

Our tents are pitched on a level clover-field sloping to the front
for our parade-ground. We use the old wall tent without a fly. It is
necessary to live in one of these awhile to know the vast superiority of
the Sibley pattern. Sibley's tent is a wrinkle taken from savage life.
It is the Sioux buffalo-skin, lodge, or _Tepee_, improved,--a cone
truncated at the top and fitted with a movable apex for ventilation. A
single tent-pole, supported upon a hinged tripod of iron, sustains the
structure. It is compacter, more commodious, healthier, and handsomer
than the ancient models. None other should be used in permanent
encampments. For marching troops, the French _Tente d'abri_ is a capital

Still our fellows manage to be at home as they are. Some of our
model tents are types of the best style of temporary cottages. Young
housekeepers of limited incomes would do well to visit and take heed. A
whole elysium of household comfort can be had out of a teapot,--tin; a
brace of cups,--tin; a brace of plates,--tin; and a frying-pan.

In these days of war everybody can see a camp. Every one who stays at
home has a brother or a son or a lover quartered in one of the myriad
tents that have blossomed with the daffodil-season all over our green
fields of the North. I need not, then, describe our encampment in
detail,--its guard-tent in advance,--its guns in battery,--its
flagstaff,--its companies quartered in streets with droll and fanciful
names,--its officers' tents in the rear, at right angles to the lines of
company-tents,--its kitchens, armed with Captain Viele's capital army
cooking-stoves,--its big marquees, "The White House" and "Fort Pickens,"
for the lodging and messing of the new artillery company,--its barbers'
shops,--its offices. The same, more or less well arranged, can be seen
in all the rendezvous where the armies are now assembling. Instead of
such description, then, let me give the log of a single day at our camp.



I would rather not believe it; but it is--yes, it is--the morning gun,
uttering its surly "Hullo!" to sunrise.

Yes,--and, to confirm my suspicions, here rattle in the drums and pipe
in the fifes, wooing us to get up, _get up_, with music too peremptory
to be harmonious.

I rise up _sur mon seant_ and glance about me. I, Private W., chance, by
reason of sundry chances, to be a member of a company recently largely
recruited and bestowed all together in a big marquee. As I lift myself
up, I see others lift themselves up on those straw bags we kindly call
our mattresses. The tallest man of the regiment, Sergeant K., is on one
side of me. On the other side I am separated from two of the fattest men
of the regiment by Sergeant M., another excellent fellow, prime cook and
prime forager.

We are all presently on our pins,--K. on those lengthy continuations of
his, and the two stout gentlemen on their stout supporters. The deep
sleepers are pulled up from those abysses of slumber where they had been
choking, gurgling, strangling, death-rattling all night. There is for a
moment a sound of legs rushing into pantaloons and arms plunging into

Then, as the drums and fifes whine and clatter their last notes, at the
flap of our tent appears our orderly, and fierce in the morning sunshine
gleams his moustache,--one month's growth this blessed day. "Fall in,
for roll-call!" he cries, in a ringing voice. The orderly can speak
sharp, if need be.

We obey. Not "Walk in!" "March in!" "Stand in!" is the order; but "Fall
in!" as sleepy men must. Then the orderly calls off our hundred. There
are several boyish voices which reply, several comic voices, a few
mean voices, and some so earnest and manly and alert that one says to
himself, "Those are the men for me, when work is to be done!" I read the
character of my comrades every morning in each fellow's monosyllable

When the orderly is satisfied that not one of us has run away and
accepted a Colonelcy from the Confederate States since last roll-call,
he notifies those unfortunates who are to be on guard for the next
twenty-four hours of the honor and responsibility placed upon their
shoulders. Next he tells us what are to be the drills of the day. Then,
"Right face! Dismissed! Break ranks! March!"

With ardor we instantly seize tin basins, soap, and towels, and invade a
lovely oak-grove at the rear and left of our camp. Here is a delicious
spring into which we have fitted a pump. The sylvan scene becomes
peopled with "National Guards Washing,"--a scene meriting the notice of
Art as much as any "Diana and her Nymphs." But we have no Poussin
to paint us in the dewy sunlit grove. Few of us, indeed, know how
picturesque we are at all times and seasons.

After this _beau ideal_ of a morning toilet comes the ante-prandial
drill. Lieutenant W. arrives, and gives us a little appetizing exercise
in "Carry arms!" "Support arms!" "By the right flank, march!" "Double

Breakfast follows. My company messes somewhat helter-skelter in a big
tent. We have very tolerable rations. Sometimes luxuries appear of
potted meats and hermetical vegetables, sent us by the fond New
Yorkers. Each little knot of fellows, too, cooks something savory. Our
table-furniture is not elegant, our plates are tin, there is no silver
in our forks; but _a la guerre, comme a la guerre_. Let the scrubs
growl! Lucky fellows, if they suffer no worse hardships than this!

By-and-by, after breakfast, come company-drills, bayonet-practice,
battalion-drills, and the heavy work of the day. Our handsome Colonel,
on a nice black nag, manoeuvres his thousand men of the line-companies
on the parade for two or three hours. Two thousand legs step off
accurately together. Two thousand pipe-clayed cross-belts--whitened with
infinite pains and waste of time, and offering a most inviting mark to
a foe--restrain the beating bosoms of a thousand braves, as they--the
braves, not the belts--go through the most intricate evolutions
unerringly. Watching these battalion movements, Private W., perhaps,
goes off and inscribes in his journal,--"Any clever, prompt man, with a
mechanical turn, an eye for distance, a notion of time, and a voice
of command, can be a tactician. It is pure pedantry to claim that the
manoeuvring of troops is difficult: it is not difficult, if the troops
are quick and steady. But to be a general, with patience and purpose and
initiative,--ah!" thinks Private W., "for that you must have the man of
genius; and already in this war he begins to appear out of Massachusetts
and elsewhere."

Private W. avows without fear that about noon, at Camp Cameron, he takes
a hearty dinner, and with satisfaction. Private W. has had his feasts
in cot and chateau in Old World and New. It is the conviction of said
private that nowhere and no-when has he expected his ration with more
interest, and remembered it with more affection, than here.

In the middle hours of the day it is in order to get a pass to go to
Washington, or to visit some of the camps, which now, in the middle
of May, begin to form a cordon around the city. Some of these I may
criticize before the end of this paper. Our capital seems arranged by
Nature to be protected by fortified camps on the circuit of its hills.
It may be made almost a Verona, if need be. Our brother regiments have
posts nearly as charming as our own in these fair groves and on these
fair slopes on either side of us.

In the afternoon, comes target-practice, skirmishing-drill, more
company- or recruit-drill, and, at half-past five, our evening parade.
Let me not forget tent-inspection, at four, by the officer of the day,
when our band plays deliciously.

At evening parade all Washington appears. A regiment of ladies,
rather indisposed to beauty, observe us. Sometimes the Dons
arrive,--Secretaries of State, of War, of Navy,--or military Dons,
bestriding prancing steeds, but bestriding them as if "'twas _not_ their
habit often of an afternoon." All which,--the bad teeth, pallid skins,
and rustic toilets of the fair, and the very moderate horsemanship of
the brave,--privates, standing at ease in the ranks, take note of, not
cynically, but as men of the world.

Wondrous gymnasts are some of the Seventh, and after evening parade they
often give exhibitions of their prowess to circles of admirers. Muscle
has not gone out, nor nerve, nor activity, if these athletes are to be
taken as the types or even as the leaders of the young city-bred men of
our time. All the feats of strength and grace of the gymnasiums are to
be seen here, and show to double advantage in the open air.

Then comes sweet evening. The moon rises. It seems always full moon
at Camp Cameron. Every tent becomes a little illuminated pyramid.
Cooking-fires burn bright along the alleys. The boys lark, sing, shout,
do all those merry things that make the entertainment of volunteer
service. The gentle moon looks on, mild and amused, the fairest lady of
all that visit us.

At last, when the songs have been sung and the hundred rumors of the day
discussed, at ten the intrusive drums and scolding fifes get together
and stir up a concert, always premature, called tattoo. The Seventh
Regiment begins to peel for bed: at all events, Private W. does; for
said W. takes, when he can, precious good care of his cuticle, and never
yields to the lazy and unwholesome habit of soldiers,--sleeping in the
clothes. At taps--half-past ten--out go the lights. If they do not,
presently comes the sentry's peremptory command to put them out. Then,
and until the dawn of another day, a cordon of snorers inside of a
cordon of sentries surrounds our national capital. The outer cordon
sounds its "All's well"; and the inner cordon, slumbering, echoes it.

And that is the history of any day at Camp Cameron. It is monotonous, it
is not monotonous, it is laborious, it is lazy, it is a bore, it is a
lark, it is half war, half peace, and totally attractive, and not to be
dispensed with from one's experience in the nineteenth century.


Meantime the weeks went on. May 23d arrived. Lovely creatures with their
taper fingers had been brewing a flag for us. Shall I say that its red
stripes were celestial rosy as their cheeks, its white stripes virgin
white as their brows, its blue field cerulean as their eyes, and its
stars scintillating as the beams of the said peepers? Shall I say this?
If I were a poet, like Jeff. Davis and each and every editor of each
and every newspaper in our misbehaving States, I might say it. And
involuntarily I have said it.

So the young ladies of New York--including, I hope, her who made my
sandwiches for the march hither--had been making us a flag, as they
have made us havelocks, pots of jelly, bundles of lint, flannel
dressing-gowns, embroidered slippers for a rainy day in camp, and other
necessaries of the soldier's life.

May 23d was the day we were to get this sweet symbol of good-will. At
evening parade appeared General Thomas, as the agent of the ladies, the
donors, with a neat speech on a clean sheet of paper. He read it with
feeling; and Private W., who has his sentimental moments, avows that he
was touched by the General's earnest manner and patriotic words. Our
Colonel responded with his neat speech, very _apropos_. The regiment
then made its neat speech, nine cheers and a roar of tigers,--very brief
and pointed.

There had been a note of preparation in General Thomas's remarks,--a
"_Virginia, cave canem!_" And before parade was dismissed, we saw our
officers holding parley with the Colonel.

Something in the wind! As I was strolling off to see the sunset and the
ladies on parade, I began to hear great irrepressible cheers bursting
from the streets of the different companies.

"Orders to be ready to march at a moment's notice!"--so I learned
presently from dozens of overjoyed fellows. "Harper's Ferry!" says one.
"Alexandria!" shouts a second. "Richmond!" only Richmond will content
a third. And some could hardly be satisfied short of the hope of a
breakfast in Montgomery.

What a happy thousand were the line-companies! How their suppressed
ardors stirred! No want of fight in these lads! They may be rather
luxurious in their habits, for camp-life. They may be a little impatient
of restraint. They may have--as the type regiment of militia--the type
faults of militia on service. But a desire to dodge a fight is not one
of these faults.

Every man in camp was merry, except two hundred who were grim. These
were the two artillery companies, ordered to remain in guard of our
camp. They swore as if Camp Cameron were Flanders.

I by rights belonged with these malecontent and objurgating gentlemen;
but a chronicler has privileges, and I got leave to count myself into
the Eighth Company, my old friend Captain Shumway's. We were to move,
about midnight, in light marching order, with one day's rations.

It has been always full moon at our camp. This night was full moon at
its fullest,--a night more perfect than all perfection, mild, dewy,
refulgent. At one o'clock the drum beat; we fell into ranks, and marched
quietly off through the shadowy trees of the lane, into the highway.


I have heretofore been proud of my individuality, and resisted, so
far as one may, all the world's attempts to merge me in the mass.
_In pluribus unum_ has been my motto. But whenever I march with the
regiment, my pride is that I lose my individuality, that I am merged,
that I become a part of a machine, a mere walking gentleman, a No. 1
or a No. 2, front rank or rear rank, file-leader or file-closer. The
machine is so steady and so mighty, it moves with such musical cadence
and such brilliant show, that I enjoy it entirely as the _unum_ and lose
myself gladly as a _pluribus_.

Night increases this fascination. The outer world is vague in the
moonlight. Objects out of our ranks are lost. I see only glimmering
steel and glittering buttons and the light-stepping forms of my
comrades. Our array and our step connect us. We move as one man. A
man made up of a thousand members and each member a man is a grand
creature,--particularly when you consider that he is self-made. And the
object of this self-made giant, men-man, is to destroy another like
himself, or the separate pigmy members of another such giant. We have
failed to put ourselves--heads, arms, legs, and wills--together as a
unit for any purpose so thoroughly as to snuff out a similar unit. Up to
1861, it seems that the business of war compacts men best.

Well, the Seventh, a compact projectile, was now flinging itself along
the road to Washington. Just a month ago, "in such a night as this,"
we made our first promenade through the enemy's country. The moon of
Annapolis,--why should we not have our ominous moon, as those other
fellows had their sun of Austerlitz?--the moon of Annapolis shone over
us. No epithets are too fine or too complimentary for such a luminary,
and there was no dust under her rays.

So we pegged along to Washington and across Washington,--which at that
point consists of Willard's Hotel, few other buildings being in sight. A
hag in a nightcap reviewed us from an upper window as we tramped by.

Opposite that bald block, the Washington Monument, and opposite what was
of more importance to us, a drove of beeves putting beef on their bones
in the seedy grounds of the Smithsonian Institution, we were halted
while the New Jersey brigade--some three thousand of them--trudged by,
receiving the complimentary fire of our line as they passed. New Jersey
is not so far from New York but that the dialects of the two can
understand each other. Their respective slangs, though peculiar, are of
the same genus. By the end of this war, I trust that these distinctions
of locality will be quite annulled.

We began to feel like an army as these thousands thronged by us. This
was evidently a movement in force. We rested an hour or more by the
road. Mounted officers galloping along down the lines kept up the

At last we had the word to fall in again and march. It is part of the
simple perfection of the machine, a regiment, that, though it drops to
pieces for a rest, it comes together instantly for a start, and nobody
is confused or delayed. We moved half a mile farther, and presently a
broad pathway of reflected moonlight shone up at us from the Potomac.

No orders, at this, came from the Colonel, "Attention, battalion! Be
sentimental!" Perhaps privates have no right to perceive the beautiful.
But the sections in my neighborhood murmured admiration. The utter
serenity of the night was most impressive. Cool and quiet and tender the
moon shone upon our ranks. She does not change her visage, whether it be
lovers or burglars or soldiers who use her as a lantern to their feet.

The Long Bridge thus far has been merely a shabby causeway with
waterways and draws. Shabby,--let me here pause to say that in Virginia
shabbiness is the grand universal law, and neatness the spasmodic
exception, attained in rare spots, an _aeon_ beyond their Old Dominion

The Long Bridge has thus far been a totally unhistoric and prosaic
bridge. Roads and bridges are making themselves of importance and
shining up into sudden renown in these times. The Long Bridge has done
nothing hitherto except carry passengers on its back across the Potomac.
Hucksters, planters, dry-goods drummers, Members of Congress, _et ea
genera omnia_, have here gone and come on their several mercenary
errands, and, as it now appears, some sour little imp--the very reverse
of a "sweet little cherub"--took toll of every man as he passed,--a
heavy toll, namely, every man's whole store of Patriotism and Loyalty.
Every man--so it seems--who passed the Long Bridge was stripped of his
last dollar of _Amor Patriae_, and came to Washington, or went home,
with a waistcoat-pocket full of bogus in change. It was our business now
to open the bridge and see it clear, and leave sentries along to keep it
permanently free for Freedom.

There is a mile of this Long Bridge. We seemed to occupy the whole
length of it, with our files opened to diffuse the weight of our column.
We were not now the tired and sleepy squad which just a moon ago had
trudged along the railroad to the Annapolis Junction, looking up a
Capital and a Government, perhaps lost.

By the time we touched ground across the bridge, dawn was breaking,--a
good omen for poor old sleepy Virginia. The moon, as bright and handsome
as a new twenty-dollar piece, carried herself straight before us,--a
splendid oriflamme.

Lucky is the private who marches with the van! It may be the post of
more danger, but it is also the post of less dust. My throat, therefore,
and my eyes and beard, wore the less Southern soil when we halted half a
mile beyond the bridge, and let sunrise overtake us.

Nothing men can do--except picnics, with ladies in straw flats with
feathers--is so picturesque as soldiering. As soon as the Seventh halt
anywhere, or move anywhere, or camp anywhere, they resolve themselves
into a grand _tableau_.

Their own ranks should supply their own Horace Vernet. Our groups
were never more entertaining than at this halt by the roadside on the
Alexandria road. Stacks of guns make a capital framework for drapery,
and red blankets dot in the lights most artistically. The fellows lined
the road with their gay array, asleep, on the rampage, on the lounge,
and nibbling at their rations.

By-and-by, when my brain had taken in as much of the picturesque as it
could stand, it suffered the brief congestion known as a nap. I was
suddenly awaked by the rattle of a horse's hoofs. Before I had rubbed
my eyes the rider was gone. His sharp tidings had stayed behind him.
Ellsworth was dead,--so he said hurriedly, and rode on. Poor Ellsworth!
a fellow of genius and initiative! He had still so much of the boy in
him, that he rattled forward boyishly, and so died. _Si monumentum
requiris_, look at his regiment. It was a brilliant stroke to levy it;
and if it does worthily, its young Colonel will not have lived in vain.

As the morning hours passed, we learned that we were the rear-guard of
the left wing of the army advancing into Virginia. The Seventh, as the
best organized body, acted as reserve to this force. It didn't wish
to be in the rear; but such is the penalty of being reliable for an
emergency. Fellow-soldier, be a scalawag, be a bashi-bazouk, be a
Billy-Wilsoneer, if you wish to see the fun in the van!

When the road grew too hot for us, on account of the fire of sunshine
in our rear, we jumped over the fence into the Race-Course, a big field
beside us, and there became squatter sovereigns all day. I shall be
a bore, if I say again what a pretty figure we cut in this military
picnic, with two long lines of blankets draped on bayonets for parasols.

The New Jersey brigade were meanwhile doing workie work on the ridge
just beyond us. The road and railroad to Alexandria follow the general
course of the river southward along the level. This ridge to be
fortified is at the point where the highway bends from west to south.
The works were intended to serve as an advanced _tete du pont_,--a
bridge-head, with a very long neck connecting it with the bridge. That
fine old Fabius, General Scott, had no idea of flinging an army out
broadcast into Virginia, and, in the insupposable case that it turned
tail, leaving it no defended passage to run away by.

This was my first view of a field-work in construction,--also, my first
hand as a laborer at a field-work. I knew glacis and counterscarp on
paper; also, on paper, superior slope, banquette, and the other dirty
parts of a redoubt. Here they were, not on paper. A slight wooden
scaffolding determined the shape of the simple work; and when I arrived,
a thousand Jerseymen were working, not at all like Jerseymen,--with
picks, spades, and shovels, cutting into Virginia, digging into
Virginia, shovelling up Virginia, for Virginia's protection against

I swarmed in for a little while with our Paymaster, picked a little,
spaded a little, shovelled a little, took a hand to my great
satisfaction at earth-works, and for my efforts I venture to suggest
that Jersey City owes me its freedom in a box, and Jersey State a basket
of its finest Clicquot.

Is my gentle reader tired of the short marches and frequent halts of
the Seventh? Remember, gentle reader, that you must be schooled by such
alphabetical exercises to spell bigger words--skirmish, battle, defeat,
rout, massacre--by-and-by.

Well,--to be Xenophontic,--from the Race-Course that evening we marched
one stadium, one parasang, to a cedar-grove up the road. In the grove
is a spring worthy to be called a fountain, and what I determined by
infallible indications to be a _lager-bier_ saloon. Saloon no more! War
is no respecter of localities. Be it Arlington House, the seedy palace
of a Virginia Don,--be it the humbler, but seedy, pavilion where the
tired Teuton washes the dust of Washington away from his tonsils,--each
must surrender to the bold soldier-boy. Exit Champagne and its goblet;
exit _lager_ and its mug; enter whiskey-and-water in a tin pot. Such are
the horrors of civil war!

And now I must cut short my story, for graver matters press. As to
the residence of the Seventh in the cedar-grove for two days and two
nights,--how they endured the hardship of a bivouac on soft earth and
the starvation of coffee _sans_ milk,--how they digged manfully in the
trenches by gangs all these two laborious days,--with what supreme
artistic finish their work was achieved,--how they chopped off their
corns with axes, as they cleared the brushwood from the glacis,--how
they blistered their hands,--how they chafed that they were not
lunging with battailous steel at the breasts of the minions of the
oligarchs,--how Washington, seeing the smoke of burning rubbish, and
hearing dropping shots of target-practice, or of novices with the musket
shooting each other by accident,--how Washington, alarmed, imagined a
battle, and went into panic accordingly,--all this, is it not written
in the daily papers?

On the evening of the 26th, the Seventh travelled back to Camp Cameron
in a smart shower. Its service was over. Its month was expired. The
troops ordered to relieve it had arrived. It had given the other
volunteers the benefit of a month's education at its drills and parades.
It had enriched poor Washington to the tune of fifty thousand dollars.
Ah, Washington! that we, under Providence and after General Butler,
saved from the heel of Secession! Ah, Washington, why did you charge us
so much for our milk and butter and strawberries? The Seventh, then,
after a month of delightful duty, was to be mustered out of service, and
take new measures, if it would, to have a longer and a larger share in
the war.


I took advantage of the day of rest after our return to have a gallop
about the outposts. Arlington Heights had been the spot whence the
alarmists threatened us daily with big thunder and bursting bombs. I was
curious to see the region that had had Washington under its thumb.

So Private W., tired of his foot-soldiering, got a quadruped under him,
and felt like a cavalier again. The horse took me along the tow-path of
the Cumberland Canal, as far as the redoubts where we had worked our
task. Then I turned up the hill, took a look at the camp of the New York
Twenty-Fifth at the left, and rode along for Arlington House.

Grand name! and the domain is really quite grand, but ill-kept. Fine
oaks make beauty without asking favors. Fine oaks and a fair view make
all the beauty of Arlington. It seems that this old establishment, like
many another old Virginian, had claimed its respectability for its
antiquity, and failed to keep up to the level of the time. The road
winds along through the trees, climbing to fairer and fairer reaches of
view over the plain of Washington. I had not fancied that there was any
such lovely site near the capital. But we have not yet appreciated what
Nature has done for us there. When civilization once makes up its mind
to colonize Washington, all this amphitheatre of hills will blossom with
structures of the sublimest gingerbread.

Arlington House is the antipodes of gingerbread, except that it is
yellow, and disposed to crumble. It has a pompous propylon of enormous
stuccoed columns. Any house smaller than Blenheim would tail on
insignificantly after such a frontispiece. The interior has a certain
careless, romantic, decayed-gentleman effect, wholly Virginian. It was
enlivened by the uniforms of staff-officers just now, and as they rode
through the trees of the approach and by the tents of the New York
Eighth, encamped in the grove to the rear, the _tableau_ was brilliantly
warlike. Here, by the way, let me pause to ask, as a horseman, though a
foot-soldier, why generals and other gorgeous fellows make such guys of
their horses with trappings. If the horse is a screw, cover him thick
with saddle-cloths, girths, cruppers, breast-bands, and as much brass
and tinsel as your pay will enable you to buy; but if not a screw, let
his fair proportions be seen as much as may be, and don't bother a lover
of good horseflesh to eliminate so much uniform before he can see what
is beneath.

From Arlington I rode to the other encampments,--the Sixty-Ninth, Fifth,
and Twenty-Eighth, all of New York,--and heard their several stories
of alarms and adventures. This completed the circuit of the new
fortification of the Great Camp. Washington was now a fortress. The
capital was out of danger, and therefore of no further interest to
anybody. The time had come for myself and my regiment to leave it by
different ways.


I should have been glad to stay and see my comrades through to their
departure; but there was a Massachusetts man down at Fortress Monroe,
Butler by name,--has any one heard of him?--and to this gentleman it
chanced that I was to report myself. So I packed my knapsack, got my
furlough, shook hands with my fellows, said good-bye to Camp Cameron,
and was off, two days after our month's service was done.


Under Providence, Washington owes its safety, 1st, To General Butler,
whose genius devised the circumvention of Baltimore and its rascal rout,
and whose utter bravery executed the plan;--he is the Grand Yankee of
this little period of the war. 2d, To the other Most Worshipful Grand
Yankees of the Massachusetts regiment who followed their leader, as he
knew they would, discovered a forgotten colony called Annapolis, and
dashed in there, asking no questions. 3d, And while I gladly yield the
first places to this General and his men, I put the Seventh in, as
last, but not least, in saving the capital. Character always tells. The
Seventh, by good, hard, faithful work at drill, had established its fame
as the most thorough militia regiment in existence. Its military and
moral character were excellent. The mere name of the regiment carried
weight. It took the field as if the field were a ball-room. There were
myriads eager to march; but they had not made ready beforehand. Yes,
the Seventh had its important share in the rescue. Without our support,
whether our leaders tendered it eagerly or hesitatingly, General
Butler's position at Annapolis would have been critical, and his forced
march to the capital a forlorn hope,--heroic, but desperate.

So, honor to whom honor is due.

Here I must cut short my story. So good-bye to the Seventh, and thanks
for the fascinating month I have passed in their society. In this pause
of the war our camp-life has been to me as brilliant as a permanent

Good-bye to Company I, and all the fine fellows, rough and smooth, cool
old hands and recruits verdant but ardent! Good-bye to our Lieutenants,
to whom I owe much kindness! Good-bye, the Orderly, so peremptory on
parade, so indulgent off! Good-bye, everybody!

And so in haste I close.



To her whose birth and being
Touch summer out of spring,
These roses, reaching forward
From May to June, I bring.

To her whose fragrant friendship
Sweetens the life I live,
These flowers, Love's message hinting
With perfumed breath, I give.

The violet and the lily
Shall stand for these and those;
But give her roses only
Whose soul suggests the rose,--

Whose Life's idea ranges
Through all of sweet and bright,
A vernal flow of feeling,
A summer day of light.

I bless the child whose coming
Sheds grace around us, where
Her voice falls soft as music,
Her step drops light as air:

Fair grace, to good related
In her, sweet sisters twin;
As in this House of Roses
The fruits and flowers are kin.

* * * * *


The beginnings of great periods have often been marked and made
memorable by striking events. Out of the cloud that hangs around the
vague inceptions of revolutions, a startling incident will sometimes
flash like lightning, to show that the warring elements have begun their
work. The scenes that attended the birth of American nationality formed
a not inaccurate type of those that have opened the crusade for its
perpetuation. The consolidation of public sentiment which followed the
magnificent defeat at Bunker's Hill, in which the spirit of indignant
resistance was tempered by the pathetic interest surrounding the fate
of Warren, was but a foreshadowing of the instant rally to arms which
followed the fall of the beleaguered fort in Charleston harbor, and of
the intensity of tragic pathos which has been added to the stern purpose
of avenging justice by the murder of Colonel Ellsworth.

Ephraim Elmer Ellsworth was born in the little village of
Mechanicsville, on the left bank of the Hudson, on the 23d day of April,
1837. When he was very young, his father, through no fault of his own,
lost irretrievably his entire fortune, in the tornado of financial ruin
that in those years swept from the sea to the mountains. From this
disaster he never recovered. Misfortune seems to have followed him
through life, with the insatiable pertinacity of the Nemesis of a Greek
tragedy. And now in his old age, when for a moment there seemed to shine
upon his path the sunshine that promised better days, he finds that
suddenly withdrawn, and stands desolate, "stabbed through the heart's
affections, to the heart." His younger son died some years ago, of
small-pox, in Chicago, and the murder at Alexandria leaves him with his
sorrowing wife, lonely, amid the sympathy of the world.

The days of Elmer's childhood and early youth--were passed at Troy
and in the city of New York, in pursuits various, but energetic and
laborious. There is little of interest in the story of these years. He
was a proud, affectionate, sensitive, and generous boy, hampered by
circumstance, but conscious of great capabilities,--not morbidly
addicted to day-dreaming, but always working heartily for something
beyond. He was still very young--when he went to Chicago, and associated
himself in business with Mr. Devereux of Massachusetts.[A] They managed
for a little while, with much success, an agency for securing patents to
inventors. Through the treachery of one in whom they had reposed great
confidence they suffered severe losses which obliged them to close
their business, and Devereux went back to the East. The next year of
Ellsworth's life was a miracle of endurance and uncomplaining fortitude.
He read law with great assiduity, and supported himself by copying,
in the hours that should have been devoted to recreation. He had no
pastimes and very few friends. Not a soul beside himself and the baker
who gave him his daily loaf knew how he was living. During all that
time, he never slept in a bed, never ate with friends at a social board.
So acute was his sense of honor, so delicate his ideas of propriety,
that, although himself the most generous of men, he never would accept
from acquaintances the slightest favors or courtesies which he was
unable to return. He told me once of a severe struggle between
inclination and a sense of honor. At a period of extreme hunger, he
met a friend in the street who was just starting from the city. He
accompanied his friend into a restaurant, wishing to converse with him,
but declined taking any refreshment. He represented the savory fragrance
of his friend's dinner as almost maddening to his famished senses,
while he sat there pleasantly chatting, and deprecating his friend's
entreaties to join him in his repast, on the plea that he had just

[Footnote A: Arthur F. Devereux, Esq., now in command of the Salem
Zouave Corps, Eighth Massachusetts Regiment, distinguished for the
gallant part borne by it in opening the route to Washington through
Annapolis, and in the rescue of the frigate Constitution, "Old
Ironsides," from the hands of the rebels.]

What would have killed an ordinary man did not injure Ellsworth. His
iron frame seemed incapable of dissolution or waste. Circumstance had no
power to conquer his spirit. His hearty good-humor never gave way. His
sense of honor, which was sometimes even fantastic in its delicacy,
freed him from the very temptation to wrong. He knew there was a better
time coming for him. Conscious of great mental and bodily strength, with
that bright outlook that industry and honor always give a man, he was
perfectly secure of ultimate success. His plans mingled in a singular
manner the bright enthusiasm of the youthful dreamer and the eminent
practicality of the man of affairs. At one time, his mind was fixed
on Mexico,--not with the licentious dreams that excited the ragged
_Condottieri_ who followed the fated footsteps of the "gray-eyed man of
Destiny," in the wild hope of plunder and power,--nor with the vague
reverie in which fanatical theorists construct impossible Utopias on
the absurd framework of Icarias or Phalansteries. His clear, bold, and
thoroughly executive mind planned a magnificent scheme of commercial
enterprise, which, having its centre of operations at Guaymas, should
ramify through the golden wastes that stretch in silence and solitude
along the tortuous banks of the Rio San Jose. This was to be the
beginning and the ostensible end of the enterprise. Then he dreamed of
the influence of American arts and American energy penetrating into the
twilight of that decaying nationality, and saw the natural course of
events leading on, first, Emigration, then Protection, and at last
Annexation. Yet there was no thought of conquest or rapine. The idea was
essentially American and Northern. He never wholly lost that dream.
One day last winter, when some one was discussing the propriety of an
amputation of the States that seemed thoroughly diseased, Ellsworth
swept his hand energetically over the map of Mexico that hung upon the
wall, and exclaimed,--"_There_ is an unanswerable argument against the
recognition of the Southern Confederacy."

But the central idea of Ellsworth's short life was the thorough
reorganization of the militia of the United States. He had studied with
great success the theory of national defence, and, from his observation
of the condition of the militia of the several States, he was convinced
that there was much of well-directed effort yet lacking to its entire
efficiency. In fact, as he expressed it, a well-disciplined body of five
thousand troops could land anywhere on our coast and ravage two or three
States before an adequate force could get into the field to oppose them.
To reform this defective organization, he resolved to devote whatever
of talent or energy was his. This was very large undertaking for a boy,
whose majority and moustache were still of the substance of things hoped
for. But nothing that he could propose to himself ever seemed absurd. He
attacked his work with his usual promptness and decision.

The conception of a great idea is no proof of a great mind; a man's
calibre is shown by the way in which he attempts to realize his idea. A
great design planted in a little mind frequently bursts it, and nothing
is more pitiable than the spectacle of a man staggering into insanity
under a thought too large for him. Ellsworth chose to begin his work
simply and practically. He did not write a memorial to the President, to
be sent to the Secretary of War, to be referred to the Chief Clerk, to
be handed over to File-Clerk No. 99, to be glanced at and quietly thrust
into a pigeon-hole labelled "Crazy and trashy." He did not haunt the
anteroom of Congressman Somebody, who would promise to bring his plan
before the House, and then, bowing him out, give general orders to his
footman, "Not at home, hereafter, to that man." He did not float, as
some theorists do, ghastly and seedy, around the _Adyta_ of popular
editors, begging for space and countenance. He wisely determined to
keep his theories to himself until he could illustrate them by living
examples. He first put himself in thorough training. He practised the
manual of arms in his own room, until his dexterous precision was
something akin to the sleight of a juggler. He investigated the theory
of every movement in an anatomical view, and made several most valuable
improvements on Hardee. He rearranged the manual so that every movement
formed the logical groundwork of the succeeding one. He studied the
science of fence, so that he could hold a rapier with De Villiers, the
most dashing of the Algerine swordsmen. He always had a hand as true as
steel, and an eye like a gerfalcon. He used to amuse himself by shooting
ventilation-holes through his window-panes. Standing ten paces from the
window, he could fire the seven shots from his revolver and not shiver
the glass beyond the circumference of a half-dollar.

I have seen a photograph of his arm taken at this time. The knotted coil
of thews and sinews looks like the magnificent exaggerations of antique

His person was strikingly prepossessing. His form, though
slight,--exactly the Napoleonic size,--was very compact and commanding;
the head statuesquely poised, and crowned with a luxuriance of curling
black hair; a hazel eye, bright, though serene, the eye of a gentleman
as well as a soldier; a nose such as you see on Roman medals; a light
moustache just shading the lips, that were continually curving into
the sunniest smiles. His voice, deep and musical, instantly attracted
attention; and his address, though not without soldierly brusqueness,
was sincere and courteous. There was one thing his backwoods detractors
could never forgive: he always dressed well; and sometimes wore the
military insignia presented to him by different organizations. One of
these, a gold circle, inscribed with the legend, NON NOBIS, SED PRO
PATRIA, was driven into his heart by the slug of the Virginian assassin.

He had great tact and executive talent, was a good mathematician,
possessed a fine artistic eye, sketched well and rapidly, and in short
bore a deft and skilful hand in all gentlemanly exercise.

No one ever possessed greater power of enforcing the respect and
fastening the affections of men. Strangers soon recognized and
acknowledged this power; while to his friends he always seemed like a
Paladin or Cavalier of the dead days of romance and beauty. He was so
generous and loyal, so stainless and brave, that Bayard himself would
have been proud of him. The grand bead-roll of the virtues of the Flower
of Kings contains the principles that guided his life; he used to read
with exquisite appreciation these lines:--

"To reverence the King as if he were
Their conscience, and their conscience as
their King,--
To break the heathen and uphold the
To ride abroad redressing human wrongs,--
To speak no slander, no, nor listen to it,--
To lead sweet lives in purest chastity,--
To love one maiden only, cleave to her,
And worship her by years of noble deeds,
Until they won her";

and the rest,--

"high thoughts, and amiable words,
And courtliness, and the desire of fame,
And love of truth, and all that makes a man."

Such, in person and character, was Ellsworth, when he organized, on the
4th day of May, 1859, the United States Zouave Cadets of Chicago.

This company was the machine upon which he was to experiment.
Disregarding all extant works upon tactics, he drew up a simpler system
for the use of his men. Throwing aside the old ideas of soldierly
bearing, he taught them to use vigor, promptness, and ease. Discarding
the stiff buckram strut of martial tradition, he educated them to move
with the loafing _insouciance_ of the Indian, or the graceful ease of
the panther. He tore off their choking collars and binding coats, and
invented a uniform which, though too flashy and conspicuous for actual
service, was very bright and dashing for holiday occasions, and left the
wearer perfectly free to fight, strike, kick, jump, or run.

He drilled these young men for about a year at short intervals. His
discipline was very severe and rigid. Added to the punctilio of the
martinet was the rigor of the moralist. The slightest exhibition of
intemperance or licentiousness was punished by instant degradation and
expulsion. He struck from the rolls at one time twelve of his best men
for breaking the rule of total abstinence. His moral power over them was
perfect and absolute. I believe anyone of them would have died for him.

In two or three principal towns of Illinois and Wisconsin he drilled
other companies: in Springfield, where he made the friends who best
appreciated what was best in him; and in Rockford, where he formed an
attachment which imparted a coloring of tender romance to all the days
of his busy life that remained. This tragedy would not have been perfect
without the plaintive minor strain of Love in Death.

His company took the Premium Colors at the United States Agricultural
Pair, and Ellsworth thought it was time to show to the people some fruit
of his drill. They issued their soldierly _defi_ and started on their
_Marche de Triomphe_. It is useless to recall to those who read
newspapers the clustering glories of that bloodless campaign. Hardly had
they left the suburbs of Chicago when the murmur of applause began. New
York, secure in the championship of half a century, listened with quiet
metropolitan scorn to the noise of the shouting provinces; but when the
crimson phantasms marched out of the Park, on the evening of the 15th of
July, New York, with metropolitan magnanimity, confessed herself utterly
vanquished by the good thing that had come out of Nazareth. There was no
resisting the Zouaves. As the erring Knight of the Round Table said,--

"men went down before his spear at a touch,
But knowing he was Lancelot; his great name conquered."

There were one or two Southern companies that issued insulting
defiances, but, after a little expenditure of epistolary valor,
prudently, though ingloriously, stayed afar,--as is usual in New
Gascony. With these exceptions, the heart of the nation went warmly out
to these young men. Their endurance, their discipline, their alertness,
their _elan_, surprised the sleepy drill-masters out of their propriety,
and waked up the people to intense and cordial admiration. Chicago
welcomed them home proudly, covered with tan and dust and glory.

Ellsworth found himself for his brief hour the most talked-of man in
the country. His pictures sold like wildfire in every city of the land.
School-girls dreamed over the graceful wave of his curls, and shop-boys
tried to reproduce the _Grand Seigneur_ air of his attitude. Zouave
corps, brilliant in crimson and gold, sprang up, phosphorescently, in
his wake, making bright the track of his journey. The leading journals
spoke editorially of him, and the comic papers caricatured his drill.

So one thing was accomplished. He had gained a name that would entitle
him hereafter to respectful attention, and had demonstrated the
efficiency of his system of drill. The public did not, of course,
comprehend the resistless moral power which he exercised,--imperiously
moulding every mind as he willed,--inspiring every soul with his own
unresting energy. But the public recognized success, and that for the
present was enough.

He quietly formed a regiment in the upper counties of Illinois, and made
his best men the officers of it. He tendered its services to Governor
Yates immediately on his inauguration, "for any service consistent with
honor." This was the first positive tender made of an organized force in
defence of the Constitution. He seemed to recognize more clearly than
others the certainty of the coming struggle. It was the soldierly
instinct that heard "the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains,
and the shouting."

Still intent upon the great plan of militia reform, he came to
Springfield. He hoped, in case of the success of Mr. Lincoln in the
canvass then pending, to be able to establish in the War Department a
Bureau of Militia, which would prove a most valuable auxiliary to his
work. His ideas were never vague or indefinite. Means always presented
themselves to him, when he contemplated ends. The following were the
duties of the proposed bureau, which may serve as a guide to some future
reformer: I copy from his own exquisitely neat and clear memorandum,

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