From The Constitution, Wednesday, November 20, 1861 (volume 24, number 1247)

The Slavery Question

It is now pretty generally admitted on all sides that the slavery question must be left to settle itself. While a proclamation from the President emancipating the slaves of rebels would not be of the least value until those rebels are brought under military subjection, the end which would be aimed at if such a proclamation should be issued will be more summarily and directly reached by letting slave property takes its chances in this war the same as any other property. Slaves are not only property, but they are also men. They are not only chattels, but they are intelligent chattels, and capable of comprehending some things about this war. They are not only articles of merchandize, but they have the power of intelligent locomotion, and have an irresistible tendency to locomote toward any spot where they may be free from bondage. Let now our army obtain a firm foothold on the soil of South Carolina, and no proclamation from President Lincoln will be needed to cause a strong movement among the waters there: The presence of an army in Carolina will as surely extinguish the institution there as it has in the neighborhood of the Potomac and of Fortress Monroe. Slavery cannot exist amid the clash of arms, and among scenes of mortal strife. It demands quiet, and can only flourish when it is left entirely to itself. War, and especially a civil war, is a greater enemy to it than all the abolition societies in Christendom. This enemy of the institution is now abroad in the land in giant proportions, and has just invaded the State where the slave power is the strongest.

All that is asked of the Government and of the army now is that no especial guard or protection be thrown around the property of slaveholders. Let it take its chance with other property in this war. We do not ask for a proclamation of emancipation. It would not be feasible or proper. All that is asked is that the negro slave be treated as a man and not as a slave by our army officers. Neither General Sherman nor General McClellan have anything to do with slavery as such. Under their commission they cannot become slave-catchers nor slave holders.

We feel no doubt that the same wise policy will be pursued in South Carolina which has been pursued in Virginia ; and that the government and our Generals will comply with Jefferson Davis’ request to the very letter, and “let” the institution “alone.”

Latest News

From Fortress Monroe the reports are that the rebels have assembled in considerable force at Great Bethel, and an attack upon Newport’s News is considered imminent. The gunboats Cambridge, Mount Vernon, and Lockwood have taken a position near at hand to be ready for any emergency.

The news from Kentucky is of great importance. General S. A. Johnston, lately appointed to the command of the rebel army of the Mississippi, is reported to be advancing into that state with 40,000 men, and it is surmised that he intends to make a descent upon Louisville, Lexington, or perhaps Cincinnati. Gen. Thomas has ordered the national troops at Camp Culvert to fall back to Danville, where the national forces will concentrate to oppose the progress of the rebels. The report of the battle at Piketon has been very much exaggerated.

Along the Potomac everything is reported quiet. A party of soldiers belonging to the 13th N. Y. regiment while out foraging was captured by the rebels.

Accomac and Northampton Counties, Va., have been occupied by from 4000 to 5000 national troops, under Gen. Dix.

There is no prospect of any battle in Missouri. Price and McCulloch have gone to Arkansas.

From Port Royal the last news is through rebel sources to the 14th inst. Gen. Sherman had taken possession of Pickney Island, and seized all the able-bodied negro men, whom he had sent to the fleet. No attempt had yet been made to land on the main land. It is probable that 15,000 troops collected at Annapolis are intended to reinforce Gen. Sherman.

A great fleet, it is understood, has gone to Pensacola.

The tripartite treaty between England, France, and Spain, relative to intervention in the affairs of Mexico, was signed in London on the 31st ult.

Gens. Halleck and Hamilton arrived at St. Louis on Monday. The divisions of Hunter, Sturgis, and Pope have reached different points on the Pacific railroad where they will await orders from Gen. Halleck.

Secretary Welles has written a letter of thanks to Com. Dupont.

Messrs. Gwin, Benham and Brant, who had been released on parole, were re-arrested on Sunday and conveyed to Fort Warren.

ACCOUNT OF THE GREAT NAVAL VICTORY AT PORT ROYAL

The arrival of the United States gunboat Bienville at New York, from Port Royal, S. C., via Fortress Monroe, enables us to lay before the readers of the Times a full and authentic account, from our own correspondents, of the movements of the Great Expedition, from its departure, up to and including the attack upon and capture of the rebel batteries at Hilton Head and Bay Point, at the entrance of Port Royal harbor, and the landing of our troops. The expedition arrived off Port Royal on Sunday, Nov. 3—a portion of the fleet, however, being detained by the gale. The steamers Vixen and Mercury were sent on Monday morning to sound the channel, and were soon followed by several of the gunboats, which were fired upon by the batteries of Fort Beauregard. The rebel Commodore Tatnall also attacked them with his gunboats, but darkness put an end to the contest for that day. On Tuesday morning, the 4th, the whole fleet entered the harbor, and Gens. Sherman, Wright and Stevens made a reconnaissance, to ascertain the location of the rebel batteries, by drawing their fire. At 7 o’clock A. M. the enemy opened fire from their batteries and gunboats, the National fleet responding with promptitude and telling effect. Our gunboats withdrew about 9 o’clock, having gained a full knowledge of the location and strength of the enemy’s batteries. In the afternoon the heavy men-of-war moved inward to get into position, but the Wabash grounded, where she remained for an hour and a half. This circumstance postponed the general engagement. On Wednesday, the 5th, the day was stormy and unfavorable, and a council of war decided to “wait a little longer.” On Thursday, at 9 o’clock A. M., the fleet got underway, and at a few minutes past 10 o’clock the rebels opened fire again. The Wabash gave one broadside to Fort Walker, on Hilton Head, and another to Fort Beauregard, on Bay Point. The rebel navy also opened fire but kept at a prudent distance from the big guns of Uncle Sam’s ships. The Wabash, Susquehannah and Bienville swept down in line, and delivered their compliments at Hilton Head in the shape of 10-second shells, while the lively gunboats put in the punctuation points for the benefit of the rebel Commodore, at the same time enfilading the two batteries. The firing was now incessant, and a perfect shower of shot and shell fell inside the rebel forts. At noon, the three ships above-named, came down, and poured full broadsides into the two forts, the gunboats keeping their positions, and doing excellent service. The flag-ship, the Su[s]quehannah and Bienville, went within six hundred yards, and made terrible havoc with their 5-second shells, silencing several of the enemy’s guns. This fire was continued for four hours, during which the National fleet delivered over two thousand rounds. The rebels fought with desperation and inflicted considerable damage on our vessels, nearly all of which were hit by shots. At 3 o’clock P. M. the guns of the enemy had been dismounted or silenced, and Commander John Rogers went on shore at Fort Walker and found it vacated, and hoisted the Stars and Stripes. A considerable number of the killed and wounded were discovered, and it was estimated that the enemy must have suffered a loss of at least one hundred men killed and an equal number severely wounded. Bay Point battery was taken possession of on Friday at sunrise. The rebels fled in the greatest confusion, leaving everything in their tents, even to their swords, watches, private papers and clothing. The loss on board of the National fleet was eight killed, and six severely and seventeen slightly wounded. The troops landed and took possession on Thursday evening, and next day the Bienville left with dispatches for the Government. It will be noticed that the accounts which have previously reached us through rebels sources have been wonderfully correct, considering their origin—only a few trifling disasters to our vessels having been thrown in by way of offset to their humiliating reverse. These disasters, however, prove to have been pleasant rebel fictions, invented to smooth off the rough edges of defeat. Not one of the National vessels was disabled or destroyed, as reported, though several of them were badly cut up.

The intelligence of the entire success of the Expedition was, of course, received with great rejoicing in Washington. Flags were displayed everywhere, and the trophies of the affair, brought on by Capt. Steedman, of the Bienville, exhibited at the Navy Department, attracted universal attention.

The preparations for other expeditions to the Southern coast are progressing rapidly. We learn from Boston that about Thursday of next week three thousand of Gen. Butler’s New England Division will embark on the new steamer Constitution and other transports for some destination not announced. The troops now collected at Annapolis, who are understood to be under the command of Gen. Burnside, are also expected to take their departure soon. Our Southern friends will likely to be kept busy during the coming cool season.

Accomac County, Virginia, may now be considered an important point in the operations of the Government against the rebellion. The loyal sentiment in that County is known to be very strong, notwithstanding the fact that it is the home of Henry A. Wise, and for the sake of fostering this sentiment the Government has determined to throw a sufficient number of troops into the County to guarantee protection to all who may claim it. The Fourth Wisconsin Regiment, together with Nuns’ Battery and Capt. Richards’ Cavalry, were last week ordered there, and on Tuesday morning seven companies of Duryea’s Zouaves left Baltimore, with a part of the Tenth Maine Regiment, for the same duty. It is understood that a portion of the Sixth Michigan Regiment is also to proceed there. We shall probably soon have interesting news from that quarter.

CAPTURE OF MASON AND SLIDELL

Two of the principal plotters in this rebellion have been captured. Messrs. Mason and Slidell, the rebel commissioners, were taken by Com. Wilkes of the U. S. steamer San Jacinto, from the British steamer off Bermuda, on their way to Europe. The San Jacinto first went to Fortress Monroe, and then started for New York, where she will carry the captives.

Com. Wilkes took a grave responsibility upon himself when he took these men from a British ship against the protests of the officers. But the British Government has itself done the same thing, and we believe Com. Wilkes can be fully justified in his bold course on principles of international law. At any rate the people of the country will heartily sustain him. He has done a brave and good deed for the nation.

Military News

The Ninth regiment, Col. Cahill, is to leave Lowell for the seat of war today. The regiment now has between eight and nine hundred men. Rev. David Mullen (Catholic) is appointed chaplain.

The Eleventh, Col. Kingsbury, is under marching orders for next week.

Col. Ferry has recovered sufficiently to rejoin his regiment.

Major Judd went down to Darnesville to pay off the Fifth last week.

The Connecticut quota of 500,000 men is 12,000. We have now 9,500 men enlisted.

Fire

On Sunday evening about six o’clock an alarm of fire was given, and in a few minutes the city was lighted up with a bright light which indicated an extensive conflagration. It proceeded from a large barn in the rear of the dwellings of Messrs. E. H. Roberts and E. F. Johnson on Main street. It was in fact two barns closely connected together, and filled with hay, lumber, and a variety of articles. When first discovered the flames were in the upper part of the building, and about bursting through the roof. In a few moments the firemen were on the ground but all they could hope to do was to save the adjoining buildings. In half an hour, the barn with all it contained, was a mass of ruins. Several houses in the neighborhood were endangered from the flying cinders. The McDonough House, the dwelling of Alfred Southmayd, and one or two others took fire. The origin of the fire is unknown, but supposed to be the work of an incendiary. A horse was in the barn when the fire broke out, which was removed with safety. Mr. Henry Woodward had stored in the barn, the fixings of a drug store, part of which were destroyed. The loss sustained in the barn and contents was about $500. No insurance.

Sophomore Exhibition

A few years ago a Sophomore Exhibition would have been considered an entirely superfluous affair. The natural tendencies of young men at that interesting period of college life are so well known and so generally acknowledged that no public stage was ever deemed necessary to let the world see what surprising effects a little more than a year’s residence in academic halls had produced on their enterprising minds and warm imaginations. However, times have changed, and young gentlemen who but three months ago emerged from the condition of freshmen, now exhibit their newly discovered powers of oratory and of original composition before large and intelligent audiences. Although times may have changed, we are constrained to say, after a patient attendance upon the exercises of last Wednesday evening, that Sophomores have not changed—a very gratifying and encouraging fact. They are precisely what they always have been, and we would not have them a whit wiser or less enthusiastic.

The Exhibition of the Sophomore class of the [Wesleyan] University on Wednesday evening at the Methodist Church was an interesting and pleasant one. The church was well filled, the arrangements were all excellent, and the audience was evidently gratified.

The first piece was a Latin Oration, by Charles T. Adams. This was well spoken, and we are constrained to believe there has been more attention given to a correct Latin pronunciation, which in some cases heretofore has been lamentably deficient.

Next was an Oration, on Mystery, by H. E. Burton. This gentleman is not remarkable yet as a speaker. He had many good things in his oration, which would have been better appreciated if he had given them more force with voice and manner. He exhibited considerable vigor of thought, and is somewhat ambitious of originality.

Life, by J. D. Beeman. This speech was principally distinguished for its good common sense. We have often admired the fine quotation with which he closed his piece.

Inconsistency between Theory and Practice, by J. A. Eastman. This oration was sophomoric in matter and in manner. Mr. Eastman despises some things because he knows nothing about them. The only encouraging thing about his piece was that the author must of necessity grow wiser as he grows older.

Joan of Arc, by G. S. Bennett. A good piece and well spoken.

The Hundred Days, by W. A. Fosgate. This was somewhat after the style of Abbott’s eulogistic history.

The Genius of Phidias, by C. W. Church. The author showed much discrimination, and had some good thoughts about art.

Pleasures of Anticipation, by C. H. Buck. A splendid subject for sophomore meditation, and received ample justice from the orator.

Chivalry, by W. Goodwin. This was listened to by the audience with evident attention and pleasure. His allusion to southern chivalry was well timed and brought out with a good deal of force.

Prohibition and Intemperance, A. O. Hammond. The subject had been very thoroughly ventilated, and the speaker said nothing new upon it.

Edward D. Baker, by D. G. Harriman. This was the best piece of the evening, and a most eloquent tribute to the lamented patriot.

The Changing and the Changeless, by H. C. W. Ingraham. Many good thoughts here were marred by an awkward manner and poor elocution. We recommend him to study kneeology.

Discussion by Messrs. B. W. Chase and R. W. Newhall. The question was not a very important one, and it is not necessary to state it. We think the negative had it “by the sound.”

Demands of the Present Age on American Scholarship by C. Lippitt. The most noticeable thing about this was the great number of poetic quotations made by the speaker. He exceeded all his cotemporaries in his poetic predilections. This is a weakness peculiar to students at their time of life. But after they have recovered from it, as they certainly will under proper treatment, they will not suffer from it again any more than from the measles.

Greek Oration, by J. L. Hurlbert. This was a well pronounced Greek oration.

The last speech was on Greek Tragedy by J. S. Whedon. Mr. Whedon is a graceful speaker, and showed by his piece a fine appreciation of his subject.

We have ventured upon these individual criticisms not from any captious feelings, or from the least desire to favor or displease any of the young gentlemen. They gave a pleasant and attractive exhibition, and the public is indebted to them for an evening agreeably spent. This exhibition, however, was for their benefit as well as for ours, and we feel bound to give them the full advantage of our observations. It does not hurt a sophomore to criticize him.

Judging from the specimen we have just had of the class of 1864, high expectations may reasonably be entertained for the future. There is good material in the class, there are good speakers and good writers, and future occasions will abundantly demonstrate that it is in no respect behind any of its predecessors.

The music at the exhibition was by the Forrestville Band.

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The weather is now cool and frosty, and ice forms nearly every night. Winter is coming, but Thanksgiving comes first. Poultry, especially turkeys, will be in demand next week.

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A learned doctor, referring to tight lacing, avers that it is a public benefit, inasmuch as it kills all the foolish girls, and leaves the sensible ones to grow up to women.