From The Constitution, Wednesday, May 28, 1862 (volume 25, number 1274)
The news of the retreat of Gen. Banks was received here yesterday morning, and caused some disappointment and forebodings. On Saturday evening we had news that Col. Kenly’s command had been driven from Front Royal on the Manassas Gap railroad with considerable loss. The enemy’s force was estimated at from five to six thousand, and immediately after their attack upon Col. Kenly, attacked Gen. Banks, who had an inferior force and was compelled to fall back, first from Strasburg to Winchester and thence towards Martinsburg and Harper’s Ferry. A few days previous to this retreat, Gen. Banks had been weakened by the withdrawal of a large portion of his troops in order to reinforce McDowell.
A great excitement was caused in Baltimore by the account of the reverse to Col. Kenly’s command, from the fact that a large portion of these troops were Balimoreans. The rebel sympathizers showed their satisfaction at the news, and great indignation against them was expressed by the Union men who are now in the ascendant there. Excited crowds collected in the streets, and many secessionists were roughly handled.
A victory has been achieved in Gen. Fremont’s department. A national force of 1,300 men was attacked at Lewisburg by 3,000 rebels, and the latter were completely routed. Our loss, ten killed, forty wounded and eight missing. That of the enemy is much greater.
Gen. McClellan progresses slowly towards Richmond. On Friday Gen. Stoneman’s light brigade went up the Chickahominy to Mechanicsville, five miles from Richmond. They encountered a strong rebel force, which they succeeded in driving from the village. Gen. Stoneman then sent two squadrons three miles further up the river, and destroyed the bridge there of the Richmond and Fredericsburg railroad. Gen. Negley’s brigade is encamped five miles beyond Bottom’s Bridge. It was the impression that the enemy had taken up a position for defence between three and four miles from Richmond.
The city authorities of Norfolk have refused to take the oath of allegiance ; upon which Gen. Wool has ordered the stoppage of all trade. A Union meeting was held in Portsmouth on Thursday night, at which eight hundred persons were present.
We have good news from North Carolina. The American flag was raised in Raleigh, the capital of the state, a few days ago by the citizens. No particulars have been received. It was reported that Gen. Burnside had occupied Weldon.
There is no news of special interest from Gen. Halleck.
The states of New York and Massachusetts are making vigorous preparations to send forward a large number of troops to Washington in response to the call of the government.
A special to the New York Post, on Monday, says that Jackson is retreating more rapidly than he advanced.
It was rumored in New York Monday afternoon that Halleck had taken Corinth and 20,000 prisoners.
More Troops Wanted
Some months ago the Secretary of War directed that further enlistments be stopped, as a sufficient number had then been enrolled. Various causes have made a material diminution in the ranks of the different regiments in the field during the year. For the purpose of supplying this deficiency, and also to raise a reserve force, a call has been made by government for 50,000 volunteers. Connecticut will raise one more regiment to be called the Fourteenth, an order to that effect having already issued from Gov. Buckingham, through Gen. Williams. There is no doubt that this state will respond heartily to this call, and the regiment will be raised without difficulty. The popular determination to restore the authority of the constitution over the whole country is stronger than it was a year ago, and every request from the government to aid in putting down the rebellion will be promptly acceded to.
The President and General Hunter
The President’s proclamation annulling that of General Hunter was very far from being unexpected. It was well known that the General of the southern department had adopted a course in opposition to the policy of the President, and in opposition to the recent enactment of Congress offering aid to any State which would commence the gradual emancipation of its slaves. If General Hunter’s proclamation was to stand, the whole course of the Government in its conduct towards slaves and slaveholders would be revolutionized. As the President was not disposed to change his ground, and adopt an entirely different line of conduct towards slaveholders, he was constrained to annul the proclamation of General Hunter.
Many were hoping that the time had come when this slaveholders’ rebellion was to receive a different handling from the Government. Hitherto the utmost tenderness has been used towards the rebels. Their constitutional rights (so called) have been regarded and observed so far as was consistent with a state of war. Even the fugitive slave law has not been wholly inoperative during the past year. In no case has southern property been seized, except as contraband of war. This treatment of the slavery interest by the Government has been strictly in accord with the announcement of President Lincoln at the beginning of the war. From that time to this he has not swerved a hair’s breadth from his declared purpose. He has been firm as a rock and has gone straight forward in the course he announced he should pursue in the beginning of his administration. The country will yield to the judgment of the President in this matter, as it has done in other things. He is more competent to judge of the merits of a question of state policy of the highest importance than General Hunter or any other purely military man can be. He ought to be better qualified than any one else to decide whether it is best to change the character of this war, and make it aim at the heart of slavery at the south.
But is this extreme tenderness towards the institution always to be observed ? Is South Carolina to pass through the war untouched and protected in her most vital interests ? Are we bound always to protect and foster that very thing which has brought all this misery and woe on the country ? By no means. Slavery is doomed. Its political power is already annihilated, and the question of its existence beyond a short period on the most favored soil of the south is fast being decided in the negative. Let General Hunter remain in South Carolina ; let him continue to form negro battalions ; let him pursue the war purely on military principles, keeping within the strict lines of duty, and slavery will as surely and inevitably melt away before him as the northern snow melts before the advancing summer. Let no one distrust the issue. The President is right in reaffirming at this time his pacific policy. This policy cannot interfere with the onward progress of events. It will not interpose to prevent the certain results of a state of war.
The greatest catch of shad within the memory of old fishermen—25,000 in one night—was made at Saybrook, Conn., on the 14th. The men were obliged to stop fishing and go on shore to assist in dressing the shad caught, to save them from spoiling.
The State Prison had on the 31st of March 180 prisoners, of whom 18 were committed for life. The income of the institution for the past year has been $14,712.03 ; being $49.90 more than the expenses.
The State Reform School is reported to be in excellent condition, and no appropriation will be asked of the legislature this year. The earnings of the institution have amounted to $14,055.85, which is $150.38 over expenses.
Watering the Streets—City Meeting.—Main street had become so dusty that the nuisance could be borne no longer, and private enterprise started the watering cart last week. But as the benefit from watering the streets is a public one, and the whole city is helped by it, it was thought no more than fair that the city should help pay the cost. A city meeting was held on Saturday evening to consider the subject. After discussing one or two plans proposed, it was finally decided that the city pay for watering Main street in this wise. The street from the depot to Pameacha is divided into four sections, and if the people residing or doing business in any of these sections will raise a certain amount the city will apply an equal amount for watering that section. On this plan the central part of Main street will be likely to get a shower almost every day this summer, and the other portions can have all the benefits dispensed by the watering cart for about half price. …
The West Green is in anything but a satisfactory condition. Last year the city made an appropriation, which, together with a private subscription, was applied to grading the ground and preparing it for a public park. It was supposed that a sufficient amount to finish the work had been raised and applied. But, by some calculation, or miscalculation, the funds fell short, cold weather came on, and the work was stopped. Every one supposed it would be resumed in the spring, and the park finished. But it has not been touched, and the condition of things there is anything but complimentary to the public spirit of our citizens. Some two or three large piles of dirt, that may hereafter be taken for Indian mounds if they stay there long enough, are in the middle of the park. New roads that were not in the original plan, and are a good deal more convenient than ornamental, have been opened. A state of dilapidation and a tendency to return to the ancient chaos is beginning to be perceptible, and the work of last season will be lost unless something is done pretty soon. If an additional appropriation is necessary, it should be made. This is the truest economy. It would be wasteful extravagance to suffer the expenditure of last year to be rendered useless.
Accident.—A son of John Berry, of South Farms, while using a hay cutter last week got his fingers caught in the knives, and two or three of them were severed from his hand. We have recorded several accidents of this kind, and those who have these machines about their premises should be careful not only how they use them themselves, but that those who are unaccustomed to their use, and especially children, are not injured by heedlessly handling them. …
Frost.—Two or three nights ago there was frost in this neighborhood.
Dry Weather.—The farmers about here have been predicting a short grass crop this year on account of the dry weather. For a month past there has been very little rain. Last night and this, Tuesday, morning there were some fine showers which will help forward the crops, and encourage the farmers.
Enlistments for the Fourteenth regiment are now proceeding. In this city, George H. Crosby is authorized to receive enlistments.
Sick and Wounded Soldiers
Citizens of Middletown :
You now have the sick and wounded soldiers at your own doors appealing for your sympathy and immediate aid !
Three Hundred arrived at the Hospital in New Haven on Thursday last, and there were accommodations arranged for only one hundred at the time, and help is called for immediately.
The Ladies’ and Gentlemens’ Committee of this city for aid to sick and wounded soldiers, meets this Tuesday evening, May 27th. It is earnestly hoped that what they have ready will be sent immediately to the Hospital at New Haven. Read the following from the Courant :
– The following appeal tells its own story :
Ed. Courant—Sir : The War Department having notified the Directors of the General Hospital Society of Connecticut, at New Haven, that they are about to send a large number of sick and wounded soldiers to the Hospital, we would respectfully call your attention to the matter, and request you to bring it before the citizens of your town, and solicit contributions of money, beds, bedding, hospital stores, &c., for the purpose of assisting the Hospital Society in making the necessary preparations.
J. Knight, Chairman.
P. A. Jewett, Secretary.
New Haven, May 8th, 1862.