From The Constitution, Wednesday, December 25, 1861 (volume 24, number 1252)

Latest News

The New York Times of yesterday says that Lord Lyons requested to know of Secretary Seward whether our Government was ready to receive and consider the dispatches forwarded by Her Majesty’s Government. Mr. Seward replied, that he was not prepared to give the subject immediate attention, but would by prepared without undue delay. Thus the matter will stand for the present. It is said the British Government will demand the restoration of Mason and Slidell.

The Kentucky Legislature have thanked the President for his modification of Gen. Fremont’s proclamation.

A correspondent from Port Royal to the N. Y. Times writes, Dec. 17, that the rebels had attacked our forces at Tybee, and the Seventh Conn., Col. Terry, would go down there that afternoon.

It is thought Gen. Caleb Cushing has been designated a Brigadier General in Gen. Butler’s expedition.

The Eleventh Conn., arrived in Washington on Tuesday afternoon.

The Act of Capt. Wilkes

In the controversy with England with regard to the affair of the Trent nothing should be assumed by the people of the United States but what is right, and what is strictly according to international law. There has been a disposition among our people to defend any course which may have been taken against a foreign power, without any particular regard to the merits of the case. Having been obliged from the beginning of our national existence to fight our way to an honorable position among the nations of the earth, we have acquired a habit of resisting anything which looks like opposition from abroad. But now having reached a position of equality with the greatest powers of Europe, we can well afford to act with magnanimity in our intercourse with then, and in all matters of controversy to consider their rights as well as our own. If in this case it is found that Capt. Wilkes’ conduct is not justified by a strict construction of international law, it would be far more becoming in us as a great nation to make acknowledgment and reparation than to defend the act out of mere bravado.

What the opinion of the United States government will be with regard to the legality of the act, there are no means yet of knowing. The President did not say a word on the subject in his message, and the letter of the Secretary of the navy thanking Capt. Wilkes for his gallant conduct affords no ground on which to form an opinion. But it is believed by those acquainted with the laws which regulate the intercourse of nations, that the act of Capt. Wilkes can be fully justified, and that on a calm review of the matter the law officers of the British government will so decide. It is remarkable that the best authorities on this subject are English, and English decisions recorded in English law books must make the law which governs this case. In referring to those, American jurists maintain that they can make out a clear case, and that Captain Wilkes is fully justified. And such is the character and standing of the legal gentlemen who have given their opinion, that the public has reason to feel confident that our Government must also take that view of the subject. At any rate the government will undoubtedly decide the case according to its merits, and without any desire to defend a course which they are not fully persuaded is right. If it shall be found that Captain Wilkes exceeded his duty, then let proper acknowledgement be made. But if in the opinion of the American government no wrong has been committed, then not an iota will be yielded to the menaces and bluster of England.

The most important legal opinion which has yet been given on this question is by Caleb Cushing. While he allows that there is no precedent which exactly meets this case, he reasons that from well-established principles, and from the decisions of Lord Stowell, a venerable name among English lawyers, “the act of Captain Wilkes was one which any and every self-respecting nation must and would have done, by its own sovereign right and power, regardless of consequences. It was an act which, it cannot be doubted, Great Britain would have done under the same circumstances. At the same time, it was an act amply justified by the principles and doctrines of international jurisprudence.”

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Washington, Dec. 20.—This morning at six o’clock, a portion of Gen. McCall’s division proceeded in the direction of Drainsville on a foraging expedition for the purpose of making a reconnoisance [sic] in the locality of Drainsville, midway between McCall’s headquarters and Leesburg. On arrival in that vicinity, they encountered four regiments of the enemy, Alabamians, Kentuckians and South Carolinians with one regiment of artillery and a battery of six pieces. The only troops on our side were Gen. Ord’s brigade, the 1st Rifles and Easton’s battery of four guns.

After an action of 1 1/2 hours, the rebels were completely routed and fled, leaving on the field 60 killed, and 19 wounded. They also left two caissons, small arms, great coats and blankets, more than our troops could bring away. Our loss was about 10 killed and 15 wounded. Gen. McCall assigns much credit to Gen. Ord for gallantry and skill, and the battery was admirably served.

In Missouri

Gen. Pope has been quite successful in Missouri. By a forced march he got between two large bodies of rebels in Johnson and Clinton counties, whereupon they beat a hasty retreat towards the south, leaving behind them all their baggage, arms munitions, &c. Gen. Pope sent a strong body of cavalry after them, and succeeded in capturing three hundred of the rebels. All this appears to have been done without bloodshed on either side. It is ascertained that Price has only about eight thousand troops at Osceola.

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St. Louis, Dec. 20.

Further information is received from the west this forenoon, to the effect that in addition to the expedition of Gen. Pope against the enemy at and near Clinton, another part of his forces, under Col. Davis and Maj. Marshall surprised another camp of rebels on the afternoon of the 18th near Milford, a little north of Warrensburg.

A brisk skirmish ensued, when the rebels, finding themselves surrounded, surrendered. Col. Davis took thirteen hundred prisoners, including three colonels, 17 captains, 100 stand of arms, 65 wagons, 1000 horses, a large quantity of tents and baggage and supplies. Our loss was 2 killed and 8 wounded.

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Rev. T. F. Mines, chaplain of the 2d Maine regiment, who was captured at Bull Run, with Captain Rickets, are on their parole for forty days, and pledged themselves to secure the exchange of prisoners in their place, or return at the end of that time. Mr. Mines Thursday made application for the release of Dr. North, who was captured on the upper Potomac, and is now in Fort Warren. Secretary Seward promptly issued an order for the Doctor’s release. The reverend gentleman gives some very interesting incidents of his captivity, and also a very sad picture of the treatment of our poor soldiers. He says their suffering is terrible. Many of the Bull Run prisoners have not clothing enough to cover their bodies. He says the hopes of the rebels are not as buoyant, nor their hope of ultimate success as bright as it was two or three months ago.

State Convention.

The Republican State Central Committee of Connecticut, believing that the time has come for the united action of all the people of the State who are in favor of sustaining the present National Administration in a vigorous and effective prosecution of the existing war against treason and rebellion, and of maintaining at all hazards, the Constitution and the Union of the United States, do hereby invite all who concur in this belief to appoint delegates, equal to double the number of Representatives from their respective towns, to the General Assembly, to a Convention to be holden at TOURO HALL, IN HARTFORD, on THURSDAY, the 16th day of January, 1862, at 10 o’clock, A. M., for the purpose of nominating candidates for State officers, appointing a State Committee for the ensuing year, and transacting such other business as may be necessary.

N. D. SPERRY, New Haven, Co., Chairman.      }

W. W. HOUSE, Hartford Co.                            }

EDWARD PRENTIS, New London Co.              }

CYRUS NORTHROP, Fairfield Co.                   }          Republican State

G.W. PHILLIPS, Windham Co.                         }          Central Committee

WILLIAM K. PECK, Litchfield Co.                   }

JOSEPH SILLIMAN, Middlesex Co.                 }

MARCUS LILLIE, Tolland Co.                         }

New Haven, Dec. 9, 1861.

Union Convention

Some of the leaders of the Douglas, or Union democrats in this State have shown an unwillingness to go into a State convention called by the Republican State Central Committee. They appear to think there is too much Republicanism in it for their taste ; and so they propose to call a convention distinct from the one already called, and make it a Union gathering. Now we believe in having a Union convention—we would have no other during the present crisis—but what else, we would like to know, is that which has been called by the Republican committee? The call is not to Republicans, but to “all who are in favor of sustaining the national Administration.” A call breathing a more complete and earnest Union spirit could not have been given. What need then of another convention? Let men of all parties, who love their country and will sustain the Government in this giant rebellion, rally in the convention which is called for the 16th of January.

Middletown and the State Loan

Of the new state loan, the amount taken in Middletown is fifty thousand dollars—of this sum the Middletown Bank took $20,000. There was taken in Hartford $469,900 ; New Haven, $264,806 ; Norwich, $82,000 ; Waterbury, $76,000 ; New London, $70,000 ; Bridgeport, $10,500. Amount taken out of the state $76,300.

A list of the towns which have taken the loan has been circulated, originating, we believe, with the Hartford Press, and leaving out Middletown entirely. The amount taken in this city, almost four times larger than that taken in Bridgeport, proves that “little Middletown” can do something in the money line, whatever opinions on that subject may prevail at the head of sloop navigation.

Christmas

This ancient festival is evidently receiving more attention from the different religious denominations than hitherto. We observe that this year Sabbath school festivals are held by the North (Congregational) and the Methodist churches in this city, when good things are served out to the children.

Religious services will be held in the Episcopal and Universalist churches, on Christmas eve. These churches are handsomely decorated. On Christmas day services will be held in the Episcopal church as usual, and in the Catholic at 7 and half past ten in the morning.

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A new drug store is opened to day at the McDonough House by Messrs. Foster & Vinal. It is a very fine stand, and the new firm, who are perfectly at home in this business, deserve and will no doubt obtain a share of public patronage.

A Course of Lectures

Pacific Fire Company, No. 2, are making arrangements to present the citizens of Middletown with a course of lectures this winter. The lectures will be some of the best in the country. It is not often that a fire company dips into literary matters, but the members of No. 2 are going to show that the thing can be done. They have also a benevolent object in view in procuring this course of lectures.

The River

Navigation for the season has at last closed in the river. On Saturday the surface of the water was covered with ice. The City of Hartford came up on Sunday morning as far as this city, where she unloaded her freight at the new railroad dock on cars whence it was taken to Hartford. The City left for New York as soon as she unloaded.

Sleighing

Yesterday there was a cold northeast storm of rain and sleet, but last night it turned to snow, and this morning there is a small attempt at sleighing. Thermometer this morning at sunrise 20 deg. Saturday was the coldest day last week—mercury at 12 deg. at sunrise.

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An English jury has lately been terribly troubled in its mind by the question, ‘Is a velocipede a pedestrian?’ Pedestrians have a right to the side-walk ; a lady rolled her baby on the sidewalk in a velocipede ; an obstructed citizen prosecuted her ; the lady pleaded that the velocipede was a pedestrian, the jury stayed out eight hours, and came back with the verdict, ‘really can’t say.’