From The Constitution, Wednesday, March 12, 1862 (volume 25, number 1263)

Latest News

We have important news from the Upper and the Lower Potomac. Leesburgh is now in possession of the national forces. Col. Geary left Lovettsville on Friday night with his whole command, marched through Wheatland and Waterford, and on Sunday entered Leesburgh with flags flying and bayonets fixed. The rebels retreated precipitately from the town and the surrounding forts. On the Lower Potomac, at Cockpit Point, on Sunday afternoon, our gunboats opened fire on the rebel batteries. The rebels burnt their tents and evacuated the place, which was taken possession of by our men. The so-called blockade of the Potomac is virtually raised.

Gen. Burnside is at work in earnest. He had occupied Winton in force, and was moving on to Suffolk, only a few miles from Norfolk. The rebels had concentrated a strong force at Suffolk. It is represented that Norfolk was in a state of great excitement and dread.

A dispatch from Denver City gives news of a desperate battle on the 21st ult. in New Mexico, near Fort Craig, between the rebels under Gen. Sibley and the national forces under Col. Canby. The battle was not decisive and both sides claimed to have been victorious. It is believed the national troops were ultimately victorious, as Kit Carson, with reinforcements, was only fifteen miles distant. Capt. McRae, who had charge of the national artillery, and all his command were killed at their posts, and the cannon captured.

New Madrid in Southeastern Missouri, where the rebels have from five to ten thousand men, supported by four gunboats, has been completely invested by Gen. Pope.

Gen. Lander’s funeral was attended in Salem, Ms., on Friday afternoon.

The great news of the week is the fight on the Potomac with the Merrimac, particulars of which are given elsewhere. The latest accounts state that the principal loss of life was on board the Cumberland, where it is thought as many as 150 were killed or drowned. Six lives were lost on the Minnesota.

The capture of Brunswick, Ga., and Fernandina, Fa., by Com. Dupont is announced. This gives Government control of the whole coast of Georgia from South Carolina to Florida. The rebels made but little resistance.

It is rumored and believed in Washington that the rebel army is retreating from Centreville and Manassas.

Important from Fortress Monroe !


Engagement with Two of our Frigates.

The Cumberland cut in Two !

Baltimore, March 9—The inhabitants at Old Point were startled, Saturday, at about 10 o’clock, by the announcement that a mysterious vessel, supposed to be the Merrimac, looking like a submerged house with the roof only above water, was moving down from Norfolk by the channel in front of Sewell’s Point battery.

Signal guns were fired by the Cumberland and Congress to notify the Minnesota, St. Lawrence and Roanoke of approaching danger, and all was excitement in and about Fortress Monroe. There was nothing protruding above the water but the flagstaff flying the rebel flag, and short smokestack. She moved slowly along, and, turning into the channel leading to Newport News, steamed direct for the frigates Cumberland and Congress, which were lying at the mouth of James River. As soon as she came within range of the Cumberland, she opened on her with her heavy guns, but the balls struck and glanced off, having no more effect on her than peas from a pop gun. Her ports were all closed, and she moved on in silence, but with full head of steam. In the meantime, as the Merrimac was approaching two frigates on one side, the iron-clad steamers Yorktown and Jamestown came down James river and engaged our frigates on the other side. The batteries at Newport News also opened on the Jamestown and Yorktown, and did all in their power to assist the Cumberland and Congress which, being sailing vessels, were at the mercy of the approaching steamers.

The Merrimac, in the meantime, came slowly on her course and slowly approached the Cumberland, when she and the Congress, at a distance of 100 yards, raised full broad sides on the iron-clad monster. The shot took no effect, glancing upwards and flying off, having only the effect of checking her progress for a moment. After receiving the first broadside of the two frigates, she ran on to the Cumberland, striking her about midships, and literally laying open her sides. She then fired a broadside into the disabled ship and again dashed against her with her iron-clad prow and, knocking in her side, left her to sink while she engaged the Congress, which laid about 1/4 of a mile distant. The Congress, which had in the meantime kept up a sharp engagement with the Yorktown and Jamestown, seeing the hopelessness of resisting the iron-clad steamer, at once struck her colors. Her crew had been discharged several days since, and three companies of the naval brigade had been put on board temporarily till she could be relieved by the St. Lawrence, which was to have gone up, on Monday, to take her place, as one of the blockading vessels of the James river. On the Congress striking her colors, the Jamestown approached and took from on board of her all the officers as prisoners, but allowed the crew to escape in boats. The vessel was thus cleared and then fired by the rebels.

Fortress Monroe, March 9th, 6:45 P. M.

To Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy :

The Monitor arrived at 10 P. M., yesterday, and went immediately to the protection of the Minnesota, lying aground just opposite Newport News. At 7 A. M., to-day, the Merrimac, accompanied by the two wooden steamers and several tugs, stood out towards the Minnesota and opened fire. The Monitor met them at once and opened fire, when all the enemy’s vessels retired except the Merrimac. These two iron-clad vessels fought, part of the time touching each other, from 8 A. M., to noon, when the Merrimac retired. Whether she is injured or not it is impossible to say.

Lieut. J. S. Worden, who commanded the Monitor, handled her with great skill, assisted by chief-engineer Stumens. Lieut. Worden was injured by the cement from the pilot-house being driven into his eyes, but not seriously. The Minnesota kept up a continuous fire, and is herself somewhat injured. She was removed considerably to-day, and will probably be off to night.

The Monitor is uninjured and ready at any moment to repel another attack.

G. V. Fox, Asst. Sec. Navy.

Message of the President

Gradual Emancipation

Washington, March 6.—The President, to-day, transmitted to Congress the following message :

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives : I recommend the adoption of a joint resolution by your honorable bodies, which shall be substantially as follows : “Resolved, That the United States ought to co-operate with any State which may adopt a gradual abolishment of slavery, giving each State pecuniary aid to be used by such State in its discretion to compensate for the inconveniences, public and private, produced by such a change of system.” If the proposition does not meet the approval of Congress and the country there is the end. But if it does meet with such approval, I deem it of importance that the States and people immediately interested should be at once notified of the fact, that they may begin to consider whether to accept or reject it. The Federal Government would find its highest interest in such a measure as one of the most efficient means of self-preservation.

The leaders of the existing insurrection hope that the Government will ultimately be forced to acknowledge the independence of some parts of the disaffected region, and that all the Slave States north of such parts will then say, “The Union, for which we have struggled being gone, we now choose to go with the Southern section.” To deprive them of this hope substantially ends the rebellion, and the initiation of emancipation completely deprives them of it, and to all the States initiating it. The point is not that all the States tolerating slavery would very soon, if at all, initiate emancipation, but that while the offer is equally made to all, the more northern shall by such initiation make it certain to the more southern that in no event will the former ever join the latter in their proposed Confederacy.

In my judgment gradual and not sudden emancipation is better for all. In the more financial or pecuniary view any member of Congress, with the census tables and the treasury reports before him, can readily see for himself how very soon the current expenditures of this war would purchase at a fair valuation all the slaves in any named States. Such a proposition on the part of the general government sets up no claim of a right by Federal authority to interfere with slavery within State limits, referring, as it does, the absolute control of the subject in each case to the state and people immediately interested. It is proposed as a matter of perfectly free choice with them. In the annual message last December, I thought fit to say the Union must be preserved and hence all indispensable means must be employed. I said this not hastily but deliberately. War has been and continues to be an indispensable means to this end. A practical reacknowledgement of the national authority would render the war unnecessary and it would at once cease. It, however, resistance continues, the war must also continue and it is impossible to foresee all the incidents which may attend and all the ruin which may follow it. Such as may seem indispensable or may obviously promise great efficiency towards the end of the struggle must and will come. The proposition is now made as an offer only. I hope it may be esteemed no offense to ask whether the pecuniary consideration tendered would not be of more value to the States and private persons concerned than are the institution and investments in it in the present aspect of affairs. While it is true that the adoption of the proposed resolution would be merely initiatory and not within itself a practical measure, it is tendered in the hope that it would soon lead to important results.

In the full view of my great responsibility to my God and my country, I earnestly beg the attention of Congress and the people to the subject.


Special Message on Emancipation

President Lincoln has had the manly courage to propose in a special message to Congress, a plan of gradual emancipation. He is the first President of the United States who has done this, and this message will probably mark the beginning of a new era in the domestic legislation of the country. The plan proposed is not liable to any constitutional objection. It will, moreover, be heartily welcomed by many thousands in the southern states, who will see here a feasible mode of deliverance from difficulties which a few months ago appeared insuperable.—Should this plan be adopted by Congress, the border states would have a fair opportunity of throwing an undivided influence on the side of the government, and would soon rid themselves of traitors who love slavery better than the Union.

The Tax Bill

The long expected tax bill was reported to the House on the 3d inst. If this bill becomes a law, the people will have an opportunity of learning what actual taxation means. Some of the items are : spirituous liquors 15 cents per gallon, printing paper 3 mills per pound, flour 10 cents a barrel, steamboat travel 1 mill per mile, use of carriages from $1 to $10 annually, according to value, gold watches $1 per annum, silver watches 50 cents per annum, incomes 3 per cent on all over $600. The bill provides for the appointment of a Commissioner of Internal Revenue.

Nothing but taxation such as is proposed can save the credit of the national treasury. The treasury bills authorized by Congress must have just this support to save them from depreciation. This is the price the country pays for the preservation of the Union and the constitution.


Gen. Price’s Army Defeated !

The following news has just been received, contained in an official dispatch to Maj. Gen. McClellan, under date of St. Louis, March 10.

“The army of the Southwest under Gen. Curtis, after three days of hard fighting, has gained a most glorious victory over the combined forces of Van Dorn, McCulloch, Price and McIntosh. Our loss in killed and wounded, is estimated at 1000 ; that of the enemy was still larger. Guns, flags and provisions were captured in large quantities. Our cavalry are in pursuit of the flying enemy.

H. W. Halleck, Maj. Gen.”


The State Constitutional Convention of Illinois have adopted a provision prohibiting negroes and mulattoes from emigrating into the state.


Diptheria is making terrible ravages in some parts of Maine, many families losing two, three and four children each. In Patten 40 families have suffered bereavement from this cause, and 1 in 12 of the population have died, mostly children. At Freedom, William Blackstone, 20 years of age, died while walking the room, endeavoring to breathe.

For the War and Union

For several years there has been a well-known fish merchant in this city, named Charles Hill. He never hired any store, and he never had any particular place of business. About the whole of his capital was invested in his stock in trade and a wheelbarrow, and he always had the advantage of locating himself where there were the most customers. In the warm weather Charley got along, but every winter he managed to get free lodgings in the county workhouse. As soon as winter came, he made his appearance at the charitable institution in Haddam under a proper escort, with a certificate entitling him to a residence for the next two or three months. It appears that Mr. Hill has been unfortunate in his domestic affairs. His wife was a thorn in his side, and that may have been one reason why he preferred a separate residence during the winter. About two years ago, however, he obtained a divorce from his “better or worse” half, became a single man again, but still kept up his old habits of spending the summer in Middletown and the winter in Haddam. As usual, Mr. Hill has, through the past season, enjoyed the public advantages of the workhouse, and has the right to stay some time longer. But he and his friends have just come to an arrangement which it is hoped will be permanent. He agreed to enlist in the U. States service, and marry his divorced wife. The nuptial tie was tied yesterday by his Honor, Horace Clark.


Preparations have been made during the winter for the erection of the stone bridge over the Pameacha. Messrs. Johnson and Arnold, the contractors, have hauled from Portland on the ice an immense quantity of stone, which has been deposited in the neighborhood of the old bridge. Business promises to be pretty brisk in that spot when the frost gets out of the ground.


Abstract of records of Marriages, Births and Deaths, town of Middletown for 1861.

Whole number of marriages


Both parties American 58
do   do   foreign 34
Am. Male and foreign female 2
Foreign male and Am. female 3
Whole number of births


“     “    “    males 107
“     “    “    females 123
Whole number of deaths


“     “     “     males 73
“     “     “     females 108

Principal causes of death.  Accident 3 ; Apoplexy 6 ; Brain dis. 7 ; Consumption 29 ; Croup 5 ; Cholera Infantum 4 ; Cancer 9 ; Diptheria 11 ; Diarrhea 3 ; Dysentery 3 ; Dropsy 4 ; Puerperal fever 4 ; Scarlet fever 15 ; Typhoid fever 7 ; Heart dis. 5 ; old age 9 ; Pneumonia 11 ; Still born 11.


E. W. N. Starr, Registrar.