From The Constitution, Wednesday, October 22, 1862 (volume 25, number 1295)

War News

The principal feature of the war news during the week was the advance made by a portion of Gen. McClellan’s army across the Potomac. On Thursday Gen. Hancock’s division advanced to Charlestown, and at the same time another division under Gen. Woodbury crossed the river at Shepardstown, and advanced to a position between Leetown and Kearneysville. On Friday the cavalry attached to the division formed a junction with Hancock’s cavalry near Smithfield. It was reported on Monday that Leesburgh is being evacuated by the rebels, and that they were leaving Winchester.

Gen. Stahl’s cavalry attempted to force Stuart’s cavalry to a fight on Thursday and Friday, but without success. The latter fell back declining an encounter.

From Kentucky the intelligence is important. Morgan, with fifteen hundred guerillas, captured Lexington on Saturday morning. Gen. Dumont’s cavalry, 2,500 in number, encountered Morgan and routed his forces after a short fight.

The Army of the Potomac.

For a week or two past the public has been amused with reports that the army of the Potomac was making preparations for an advance. A forward movement is looked for with much impatience, for it is felt that two or three weeks more must decide whether the coming winter is to be spent as last winter was, with two large well appointed armies drawn up opposite each other and both inactive. Everything seems to depend on the army of the Potomac. It was so at the beginning of the war, and it has been so ever since. National armies have conquered rebel armies in the south and west, but the advantages gained have been of secondary importance. The heart of the rebellion had not been pierced. The blow had not reached a vital part. It was felt that the fate of the war depended on the success or defeat of McClellan. The hopes of the nation are centred on the army of the Potomac. Everything depends on its movements. Buell is driving the rebels out of Kentucky. Grant has beaten them at Corinth. But all this avails little as long as all the approaches to Richmond are commanded by the powerful army of Gen. Lee.

A month has now elapsed since the battle of Antietam, during which time the army has remained inactive. It may be that this inaction is necessary, but it is felt that the golden moments of the season are passing by, and that soon winter will put a stop to all military movements. It is hoped that this state of things will soon cease, and the fruits of the victories in Maryland will not be entirely lost.

What Prince John Thinks.

John Van Buren gave utterance to his sagacious views on the war at the anti-administration mass meeting held at Cooper Institute a while since. He thinks the President ought to order Gen. McClellan to take Richmond, and then a national convention ought to be called and the constitution should be fixed up to suit all parties if possible and if that isn’t possible the constitution should be so amended that the south can withdraw. Those are John’s views. He is a sensible man in saying that the President ought to order Richmond to be taken.  That’s so.  He ought. And then McClellan ought to take Richmond without any delay. We agree with the Prince perfectly in his view of what ought to be done. He next thinks a convention should be called. Well, that’s fair, provided all the southern states will send to that convention. If they won’t send, the convention will have to fall through, and what is to be done then ? How is the constitution to be altered by a convention which represents only a part of the states ?

But suppose they should all send delegates to a national convention. In doing so they renounce their own Confederacy, and acknowledge the authority of the United States. That is just the point to which President Lincoln wishes to bring the rebel states. The moment the national authority is acknowledged throughout the south, and it will be so acknowledged when the southern states are willing to come into a national convention, the object and end of the war will have been gained. As the authority of a national convention is supreme, no one will be disposed to quarrel in advance with its decisions.

Prince John, we repeat, is a sensible man. Just let him persuade the President and McClellan to take Richmond, and then for the national convention.

The Old Cry of Abolition.

The friends of the Government are called abolitionists. In this state the pro-slavery newspapers are very free in their use of this term. The fact is they see their pet institution down south put in danger by the President’s proclamation. Gen. McClellan’s order has informed them that he means to carry out the President’s intentions to the letter. Of course the advocates of slavery are alarmed, and have raised the old worn out cry of abolitionists. But it will be of no avail. When such men as President Lincoln, Generals Halleck and McClellan pronounce the doom of slavery, the thing is doomed. The pro-slavery democrats may call these men abolitionists if they please. That is what the rebels call them, and the secession sympathizers at the north can follow their example if they see fit to do so.

It is becoming more and more evident that they love southern institutions better than the Union. Between the protection of slavery and the permanence of the Union they choose the former. They know very well that the President would not interfere with the institution if he could help it, that for a year he has been trying to crush the rebellion without interfering with slavery, and that his proclamation of emancipation is purely a war measure. Political theories and party plans have nothing to do with it. It was adopted by the President as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, and has the approval of Halleck and McClellan. To say that it is an abolition measure having its origin in northern radicalism, is perfect nonsense.

By the way, the New York Herald supports the proclamation, and on the pro-slavery theory has become an abolition journal ! This remarkable conversion ought to be a warning to secesh sympathizers everywhere.

Beauregard.

This noted individual, whose military talents do not seem to be appreciated by Jeff. Davis, has lately been indulging in a species of refined cruelty. He has been writing some letters. In one of them he makes the following heart rending remark :

“I think we ought, hereafter, in our official papers, to call the Yankees, Abolitionists instead of Federals.”

How cruel of you, Beauregard, to utter such a thought ! To call us abolitionists is the very climax of southern barbarism. Just stand by now, like Jonah under his gourd, and see what will happen to us poor Yankees.

Connecticut 14th.

A member of the Conn. 14th in a private letter to a gentleman of this place, dated Oct. 14th, says :

‘The 14th is encamped on Bolivar Heights, a mile in the rear of Harper’s Ferry. It is brigaded with the 130th Penn. and 108th N. Y. regiments, which constitute the second brigade of Gen. French’s Division. The brigade is commanded by Col. Morris who is acting Brigadier General, and who led the brigade in gallant style during the terrible battle at Sharpsburg. During the Maryland campaign the 14th were nearly exhausted by hard marching and exposure to the night air and storms for a fortnight, without tents, blankets or overcoats, and their capacity for endurance thoroughly tested. The government finds it difficult to supply the immense demand for tents, but on arriving at Harper’s Ferry we fortunately came in possession of tents quite unexpectedly. Some of the men were examining a ditch or row of rifle-pits which had been filled with earth and discovered that tents were buried in it. A strong force was immediately set at work excavating, and in an hour or two they dug out nearly tents enough for a brigade, which were immediately pitched and occupied. We have since learned that they were buried in the rifle-pits by Col. Miles’ men, after the order was given to surrender. The rebels occupied the place for several days without discovering them, and they are now used by their rightful owners, viz. Uncle Sam’s men. Some of the wells in the village which we have cleaned out since our arrival are found to contain pistols, dirk-knives and other articles which our men had taken this method to keep from the rebels.

Owing to the hardships and exposures of the campaign and the scarcity of food while on the march, we have since had a large sick list. Col. Morris has been unwell but is now nearly well. Lt. Col. Perkins is now quite sick and is unable to leave his quarters—he is staying at a neighboring farm-house. Capt. Hammond of Rockville is also sick though convalescent, also Capt. Gillette of Hartford and Capt. Bronson of New Haven. Lieuts. Lucas and Baldwin of Middletown, Lieut. Emery of Rockville and Dr. Dudley of New Haven are all unwell and off duty. Our sick-list includes about a hundred men, of whom thirty are in a hospital. Notwithstanding the large number there has been but one death from disease in the regiment; private Frank Fuller of Chatham who died of typhoid fever on 5th of Oct. All who are now sick are considered convalescent, and after a few more days of rest and shelter, we shall be ready to take the field to sustain the reputation which we gained on the bloody field of Antietam.

Another Draft.

We hope there will be no further drafting in this state, but that measures will be taken to raise the requisite number by volunteering. In a population like ours and with our resources, a draft seems unnecessary and out of place. In some instances it is insufferable, and in many respects it is a positive damage to the national cause. While the last draft caused no little complaint and distress, it failed entirely of supplying the men wanted. And so would another draft. If we are to raise the men, it should be done by volunteering. That is the only proper method.

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At Camp.—Colonel Mansfield assumed his duties and took command of the 24th regiment on Monday.

Some dissatisfaction has been expressed by the men at the delay in mustering in the regiment, and one of the companies refused to do duty till they could come to a better understanding on some matters. Col. Mansfield succeeded in restoring order, and the regiment will probably be mustered into service this week.

A substitute, procured by one of our citizens who had been drafted, left camp and went to parts unknown. An order has been served on the drafted man to go into camp. He has already paid a high price to his substitute. Below is a list of the field officers of the regiment :

Colonel, Samuel M. Mansfield, Middletown ; Lieut.-Colonel, J. Dean Allison, Cromwell ; Major, Patrick Maher, New Haven ; Adjutant, Clark Strong, East Hampton ; Quartermaster, Giles W. Dart, Middletown ; Sergeant-Major, Augustus H. Conklin, Essex ; Quartermaster-Sergeant, S. W. M. Chattaway, Middletown ; Commissary-Sergeant, Wm. M. Barber, Hamden ; Drum-Major, J. W. Skinner, East Hampton ; Bugler, T. C. Silliman, Essex.

REPORT OF THE BOARD OF SCHOOL VISITORS,

For the year ending Aug. 31, 1862.

In conformity with the provisions of the statute, the Board of School Visitors present the following report :

The Town of Middletown is divided into twenty school districts, in all of which, save one, schools have been maintained for the time prescribed by law. These schools, have as a whole, made commendable progress. Fully as much perhaps as ought to be expected, where paternal interest is so little manifest. The principal failures have been in want of discipline, and this is easily traceable to the inexperience of the teachers employed. The schools have been examined twice in each term by committees of the Board, and their reports represent the following conditions.

Westfield First District

The winter term taught by Mr. E. B. Paddock was an excellent one, and reflected much credit on both teacher and pupils. The summer term taught by Miss Cole was less successful. The school was composed mainly of small pupils, and but little improvement was made.

Westfield Second

Miss Mary Hough has had charge of this school during the entire year. The pupils have made satisfactory progress in their studies, and the teacher has received the commendation of the committee. The school house in this district is sadly in want of repair.

Westfield Third

During the winter term Miss Cole had charge of the school. This teacher gave promise of a good school ; but an evident disposition upon the part of the parents to sustain the children rather than the teacher, injured the discipline, and retarded the progress of the school.

The summer term was taught by Miss Wood with more success.

Westfield Fourth

This school has made excellent progress throughout the entire year. The summer term has especially shown a marked improvement ; more than any other school this committee has visited. New maps have been procured for this school and we trust the district will see that it is for its own interest to improve the school house by more modern furniture. Taught by Miss Sage in the winter and Miss Munson in the Summer.

Newfield

At the commencement of the school year this district had one of the poorest school houses in the town. The Board suggested to the district that some improvements ought to be made. The district acted promptly upon this suggestion, thoroughly repairing and refurnishing the building. So that at the present time this district has a most excellent school house. The winter term was taught by Miss Annie Hubbard. The summer by Miss H. Hubbard : both did well.

Middlefield South

Miss Esther Post had charge of this school during the winter term, and discharged her duties in a most faithful way. The school made much improvement. This was especially evident in the younger pupils. Owing to ill health Miss Post was compelled to resign at the close of the term. Miss F. Root was employed during the summer term. The school was larger this term than it has been during the past two years and mainly composed of pupils who had never before attended school. Not as much progress was therefore to be expected.

Middlefield Falls District

The winter term was taught by Miss Lucy Atkins ; the summer by Miss Virginia Abelle. The school made considerable improvement during the winter and more in summer. Both teachers did well.

Middlefield East District

The winter term taught by Mr. W. S. Todd was a perfect failure. This teacher had no controll over his pupils.

The summer school was taught with more success by Miss Fannie Hubbard, but she also failed in government.

The Committee hope that this district will make an effort to have a good school during the next term, and advise them to procure an experienced teacher, even if the expense shall thereby be increased. No school is so expensive as a poor one. For the time of the children is wasted, and the money actually paid out not only lost, but used in buying bad habits, of study, of idleness and carelessness.

Middlefield North

Miss Cheseboro taught an excellent school in this district during the winter term.

Miss E. M. Wright was employed during the summer. Lack of harmony in the district during this term, had much to do in retarding the progress of the school.

Long Hill West

Miss Samine Dickinson taught a most excellent school in this district during the winter term. Under charge of Miss J. Russell during the summer term it rather lost than gained.

Long Hill East

This district has had a poor school during the entire year.

Miss Bidwell taught during the winter, Miss Wright during the summer.

The School house in this district has been condemned by the Visitors, and notice served upon the district. Hence they will draw no more public money until some action is taken to build a new school building. The school house has been in constant use for more than a hundred years. The ravages of time and the unsparing use of the jack knives of three generations, to say nothing of the increase of population, has rendered this ancient relic unfit for school purposes.

It ought to be noted that the district has voted to take no action upon the recommendation of the Board, to provide a suitable building.

Millers’ Farm

This school is divided into two departments. The higher department has been well taught during the year by Miss Carrie M. Thayer. The order maintained, excellent and the progress of the pupils commendable.

Miss Brooks who has taught the primary department has evinced but little aptitude for teaching though the committee have no doubt of her faithfulness.

Bow Lane

Miss Frances Williams has taught a successful school in this district during the entire year.

Staddle Hill South

Miss Marian Atkins was employed in this district. The school made only fair improvement. The health of Miss Atkins failing the school has been continued only a part of the summer term.

Staddle Hill North

This district had a good teacher during the winter, Mr. W. H. H. Philips, who taught an excellent school. But as it required all the public money to pay him, the district thought best not to have any school during the summer term. This district draws one hundred and eight dollars public money. It has raised besides fifteen dollars. On this it has sustained a five months school during the year. Now as the law expressly says “No school district shall be entitled to any portion of the public money unless the school in said district shall have been kept by a teacher or teachers duly qualified for at least six months, this district must lose its share in the next apportionment of the school funds.”

Farm Hill

A very excellent school has been kept in this district during the year by Miss Emma L. Root.

The school building is in good condition, well furnished with desks and chairs, but it is too small to accommodate the pupils of the district. The Visitors have recommended an enlargement of the house.

Hubbard District

A very good school has been taught here during the year by Miss Merwin. The pupils have made much improvement and good order has been maintained.

Johnson Lane

Miss S. A. Johnson has been employed in this district during the year and has given good satisfaction. The school house in this district is in a miserable condition and ought to be replaced by a new one.

Maromas District

Mr. Fletcher Clark taught a good school in this district during the winter term, and Miss Tuttle a poor one in the summer.

This district has not and never has had any out house or privy. The Board of Visitors have directed that one must be provided, or else the district will lose its share in the public money. There are pupils of both sexes, who attend this school, from sixteen to eighteen years of age, and it is a shame that no accommodations in this respect have been provided. The school house is very poor and ought to be put in a better condition. The Visitors hope that the district will be so mindful of its own interest as to give these matters immediate attention, and remedy the defects.

Haddam Road

The school was taught during the winter term by Mr. W. S. Blake. The committee find that the school made only fair improvement during this term. The summer school did much better under charge of Miss E. F. Bidwell.

Improvement of Public Schools

The improvement of the public schools should be a matter of the first importance to every citizen. When we remember that nineteen twentieths of our entire population receive instruction in these schools, we must see what a powerful influence these schools are to have upon the character of communities and upon the whole country. In a state where the right of suffrage is universal, its virtue and welfare must depend upon the general intelligence of the masses. Thus every such state is bound by the law of self preservation and self interest to qualify its children for the intelligent use of their high prerogative.

Connecticut was one of the first to recognize this duty and to give form to it by its munificent school fund. But the duty thus begun was never intended to end here.—Towns and communities had also a duty to perform. The state had done its share. If in the earlier history of Conn. this fund was sufficient to support all the schools, when labor was cheaper, and the population smaller, it was no reason that it should continue so when the population was doubled and trebled, and the cost and value of every thing enhanced. Education of the young is fully as valuable now as at any time. Yet the fund of the State yields to districts not one half what it did originally. That there is good cause for complaint of inefficiency in many of our schools is not to be wondered at, when we see in how parsimonious a spirit they are conducted. Many districts depend entirely upon the public money for their support. In such districts good schools must be the exception, and not the rule. For low wages must thus be the criterion of teachers’ qualification. Who will teach cheapest rather than who will teach best. A liberal spirit will ensure a good school. A parsimonious spirit a poor one. Good teachers will always ensure good schools, and these can always be had by paying for them.

The great obstacle to improvement is poor teachers and the reason why they are so numerous is because districts are seeking for them by offering a premium for them. Who will keep for the least money ?

All other difficulties hinge upon this same spirit. Poor school houses, miserable locations, everything cheap for schools can result in cheap and miserable schools, and in this only.

There are but few districts in this town that can point with pride to their school houses. There are more that can point them out as curiosities, valuable only for their antiquity and for their association with by gone ages.

Capitation Tax

The law allows each district to assess a capitation tax, or rate of tuition, not to exceed one dollar and fifty cents per term upon each pupil attending the public school, to meet any deficiencies. It also requires the Board of Selectmen and School Visitors to make such abatements as are necessary, and instructs the Selectmen to draw orders upon the town in favor of the several districts for the amount of the abatements thus made. During the past year, this joint board has held five meetings for this purpose.

It is recommended to the several districts, to abolish all such capitation tax and school rates, and to assess a property tax instead. Virtually these rates are thus in a great measure accounted for now, only in an indirect way, through the town tax.

Qualification of Teachers

The examining committee of the Board have during the year examined above forty applicants for certificates of qualification to teach. Of these they have refused but six. It seems however a serious hindrance to the schools, that the qualifications of teachers are no better, and the committee can only say that they have met with much resistance in endeavors to elevate it.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Board would express the hope, that the interest of the several districts may be awakened to the importance of having the best schools possible. And to further this end, endeavor to secure the best men for district committees, good teachers, convenient and healthy school houses, and to endeavor to induce all the parents to visit the school where their children are sent, and thus manifest their interest in the welfare and progress of their school.  Per order of the Board,

Henry A. Balcam, Clerk.