From The Constitution, Wednesday, March 5, 1862 (volume 25, number 1262)
General Buell telegraphed to Gen. McClellan on Saturday night that Murfreesborough had been abandoned by the rebels, who were retreating along the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, tearing up the rails as they went along. It is probable they are concentrating in Chattanooga, Tenn., near the Georgia line.
There is a great change in public sentiment in Tennessee, and the Government is about to raise volunteers in that state.
The Tennessee and Cumberland rivers will be opened this week to free and unrestrained commerce.
Gen. Banks’ army occupied Harper’s Ferry on Wednesday, and on Thursday pushed on a reconnoisance to Charlestown. The troops took over all the necessaries for a permanent stay. One object of the movement is probably to cover the reconstruction of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad.
Col. Corcoran is said to be on his way to Richmond to be exchanged.
The news this (Tuesday) morning is not of special interest. The election at Nashville on Saturday for municipal officers passed off quietly. Twenty-five negroes seized in the vicinity of Bowling Green have been recaptured at Nashville and sent back. There was a fight on the Tennessee, 8 miles above Savannah, between two national gunboats and a shore battery, when the latter was silenced. A strong Union feeling exists in that vicinity. The rebel Generals, Buckner and Tilghman, arrived in Boston yesterday afternoon.
Inauguration of Jeff. Davis
The 22d of February witnessed in Richmond the senseless and barren ceremony of the inauguration of Jeff. Davis as President of the so-called confederate states for six years. Spectators of the affair say it was a heartless proceeding, no cheers could be raised, and nobody felt the least enthusiasm. In his inaugural, Davis talks as if he actually expected to escape his doom for six years to come, and reign in Richmond all that time. He treats the splendid national victories of the west, as comparatively trifling affairs, which can have no effect whatever towards weakening his confederacy. He predicts that Maryland will soon unite her destiny with the South, and says the time is near at hand when the North must sink under the load of debt which they have incurred. In speaking of the grievances of the South and various political matters, there is noticeable a singular agreement between the opinions of Jeff. Davis and those of the ultra democrats of this state.
There is no longer a doubt that Nashville is in our possession—both National and Rebel reports agree as to that point. The evacuation by the rebels appears to have been attended by their usual excesses. A dispatch from Clarksville states that the rebel soldiers plundered many dwellings and business houses, and excited great alarm among the people. Several rebels were shot by citizens whom they were in the act of robbing. Gov. Harris, it is asserted, was actually driven away by the Union men. Before he left, he made a speech recommending citizens to burn their private property, and calling upon Tennesseeans to rally and meet him at Memphis, but no one paid any heed to him. Much indignation existed against Floyd, who destroyed the railroad bridge against the protest of the citizens. Gen. Nelson is reported to be in command at Nashville, Gen. Buell being still on the north side of the Cumberland. The Union sentiment in the city is very strong.
Ordered—First, from and after the 26th day of February inst., the President, by virtue of the act of Congress, takes military possession of all the telegraph lines in the United States.
Second, all telegraphic communications in regard to military operations, not expressly authorized by the war department, the general commanding, or the generals commanding the armies in the field in the several departments, are absolutely forbidden.
Third, all newspapers publishing the military news, however obtained, and by whatever medium received, not authorized by the official authority mentioned in the preceding paragraph, will be excluded thereafter from receiving information by telegraph, or from transmitting their papers by railroad.
Fourth, Edward S. Sanford, is made military supervisor of telegraphic messages throughout the United States, and Anson Stager is made military superintendent of all telegraph lines and offices in the United States.
Fifth, this possession and control of the telegraph lines is not intended to interfere in any respect with the ordinary affairs of the companies.
By order of the President,
Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War.
A State of Suspense
The embargo laid upon the telegraph and the press leaves the community for a time in great suspense. Of course, the suddenness and peremptoriness of the order lead most people to the conclusion that important movements have commenced, which it is desirable to keep as secret as possible at least for a few days. What the movements are, no one outside the War Department or army can be presumed to know, and yet every one is anxious to learn. One thing, however, is truly gratifying, viz : the universal confidence expressed that General McClellan’s plans have so far been carried out that his own time for action has come, and that he will embrace it as promptly and turn it to as good an account as any of his brave and victorious subordinates have done. All we can do is to wait and to wait hopefully. No doubt so soon as it is safe or prudent to communicate the doings of whatever new division of the army is now set in motion, at least a brief official announcement thereof will be furnished to the Associated Press for publication. But whether this will be to-day or to-morrow or next week this deponent saith not.—Commercial Advertiser, Feb. 28.
The Treasury Note Bill
On Wednesday, the President affixed his signature to the Loan and Treasury Bill, which had been perfected by Congress the day before, and it is now the law of the land. It creates a national currency of U. States notes of five dollars and upwards, made lawful money and a legal tender for all debts. The total amount authorized to be issued is not to exceed $150,000,000, including the $60,000 of U. States notes issued under the act of July 17. The loan authorized by this act is limited to $500,000,000. It is in the form of a twenty years six per cent. stock redeemable at the pleasure of the government at any time after five years at the par value thereof. As soon as this bill was passed by Congress there was quite a flurry in Wall street. The six per cents went up at once to a higher notch, and the demand notes were actually held by the banks for a premium.
San Francisco, Feb. 27.—The weather throughout the northern coast has been very cold. Many persons on the way from Portland to the mines have been frozen to death.
Thousands who left California for the New El Dorado are detained at Portland until the spring opens.
The whale-ship Joseph Grinnell has arrived from Palta, Peru, with 1,500 bbls of sperm oil.
Also arrived ship Charger, forty-nine days from Hong Kong.
Gen. Mansfield on Contrabands
A commission having been appointed to inquire into the condition of the numerous contrabands at Fortress Monroe, who are now held by the government under partial control, Gen. Mansfield wrote a letter to the commission, stating his views on the subject. He divides the negroes into four classes, comprising those abandoned by their owners ; those who have run away from their masters to obtain freedom ; those who have been put at work on rebel entrenchments and made their escape ; and free negroes seeking employment. He then argues the point whether the United States is bound to hold them as slaves, on which he says :
“It is clear they are not prisoners of war, for they have never been found in arms, and have made their escape to avoid taking part against the United States, or have been abandoned to the United States, as the rebels have abandoned lands, houses, cattle, &c., and are human beings cast on the world with nothing but their hands to obtain a livelihood. Some of them having worked on rebel fortifications, &c., are released (under the 4th section of the act of Congress of the 6th August, 1861, to confiscate property) from further service to their masters—and in such cases what is their position? Why, simply that of any person in the country released by law from the payment of an obligation—a free person.”
After stating that if the claim of the rebels to the negroes as property be valid, they are therefore confiscated, he says :
“But they are not property, but persons held to labor under the constitution in certain states, and nowhere else ; and are not bound or held to labor for the United States, consequently they are not slaves to the United States. It is clear the condition of slaves with them was coexistent with the obligations of the confederate slave states to the constitution and laws of the United States, against which they are in open armed rebellion.
Now what are these negroes ? Are they not freemen by this state of rebellion ? By the act of secession, the confederate states have voluntarily broken the constitution and laws of the Union, and have taken up arms against that constitution and those laws, and the United States are thereby absolved from the enforcement of the fugitive slave law, even if so absurd a claim were put forth. If this statement be true, they are entitled as laborers, to all the wages they can earn, and to go where they please, and I would recommend that all their earnings be paid to them while in the United States employ, and that all officers and others who employ them in this department be required to pay them a just compensation, and that they be allowed to improve their condition if opportunity should admit.”
The funeral of Lieut. Henry M. Stillman was attended at Old Saybrook on Saturday the 22d. There was no military display, but the inhabitants of the place appeared to have nearly all come forth to do honor to the deceased. Flags were flying at half mast, and evidences of mournful sympathy were visible along the entire route of the procession. The services were performed by Rev. Mr. McCall. At the entrance to the grave yard an arch was raised, festooned with the American flag. Lieut. Stillman was killed while gallantly urging his men across a wide ditch immediately in front of the enemy’s entrenchments. He fell pierced by a ball through the lungs, and only lived long enough to murmur a prayer for his wife and children.
Several officers of the 1st Regiment Connecticut Artillery are now recruiting for their Regiment in this state. Lieut. John M. Twiss is recruiting in this city, and Lieut. Roswell S. Douglas has been assigned to Middlesex County. Lieut. George D. Sargeant performs the same duties in Litchfield county. The two latter were members of the Wesleyan University previous to their enlistment. Any who may desire to enlist have now an opportunity to join one of the best regiments in the United States service.
A fire broke out, Wednesday morning, in the old brewery at Norwalk. It burnt out some dozen stores ; among them three groceries, one bookstore, one shoe store, one dry goods store, and one hat store. Four or five buildings were burnt to the ground. The fire was put out by the help of Westport and Stamford engines. Loss about $75,000. The business portion of Main street was destroyed. There were 9 stores, 1 saloon, 2 millinery shops, and a number of families burnt out.
We have a communication from Portland with reference to the statement made in this paper a week or two since that Mr. Williams, a school teacher, has been fined $7 and cost for punishing one of his scholars. Our correspondent says the decision was as stated, but that the defendant has appealed the case to the Superior Court and is to be tried in Haddam in April. He acquits the teacher of all blame, and thinks he used such means as were necessary to maintain order in his school. He states that a meeting of the school visitors, held on the 15th, refused an application to annul his certificate, having on examination seen nothing by which he has rendered himself disqualified for his position.
Artemas in Town
The greatest lecture of this season, and perhaps of any other season, was given on Thursday evening by Artemas Ward (Charles Brown,) the man who exhibits wax images, and writes for the papers. The hall was crammed full, although the night was none of the pleasantest. The lecture was a series of jokes, stories and oddities. People said it did not amount to anything, but they enjoyed it amazingly. It is pretty certain that for the space of one hour, every one in the hall forgot his troubles and was on good terms with the whole world and the rest of mankind.