From The Constitution, Wednesday, December 3, 1862 (volume 26, number 1301)
Gen. Burnside is still opposite Fredericksburgh, his army not having yet crossed the Rappahannock. The enemy is in strong force on the opposite bank, and has erected formidable batteries to withstand the advance of the national troops. Various reasons are assigned why Burnside has been delayed, the most probable of which is that he has lacked the means of crossing the river. Gen. Burnside paid a visit to Washington on Friday night, and on Saturday had an interview with the President and Gen. Halleck.
Five of our gunboats are reported to have proceeded up the Rappahannock, opposite the right wing of the enemy. Stonewall Jackson was supposed to be on Saturday at Culpepper, intending to move thence to reinforce Lee at Fredericksburgh.
In Arkansas, the rebels are burning the cotton, both the old and new. All north of the White river is to be destroyed. One man who had 250 bales was allowed to keep 50.
There are now eleven thousand Massachusetts troops at Newbern, N. C., and regiments are constantly arriving.
General McClellan’s Body Guard—the Sturgis Rifle corps—was mustered out of service last Monday, in this city, by request of Generals McClellan and Burnside. This corps was formed in Chicago, and consisted of about eighty men, picked from about 800, who offered. They started from that city on the 19th of June, 1861, and were immediately assigned to duty as Gen. McClellan’s body-guard. They joined him at Cincinnati, and were with him in his Western Virginia campaign. Many of the corps have been commissioned, and are in both the regular and volunteer service. One man who started from Chicago as a private is now a major on General Halleck’s staff. The corps now number sixty men, and are under command of Lieutenant N. E. Sheldon. The corps took it name in honor of Solomon Sturgis, Esq., a wealthy and patriotic citizen of Chicago, who provided a complete outfit for the company, and kept them supplied from his own private funds. It is said that he has spent over $40,000 upon his favorite corps. The company hold General McClellan in high esteem, and regard him with almost the affection of children to a parent. The General has ever regarded them as his especial favorites.
From Louisiana.—Two important orders have just been issued, one by Gen. Butler and the other by Gen. Shepley. The latter has appointed elections to be held in the 1st and 2d Congressional Districts on the 3d of December. These districts comprise the city of New Orleans and nearly all the territory of the State south of a line projected east and west from the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.
The order of Gen. Butler confiscates all the private property, belonging mostly to persons disloyal to the United States, in the district [ ] west of New Orleans known as the Lafourche district, recently occupied by Gen. Weitzel’s expedition. A military commission is appointed for the management of the property.
The sugar plantations are to be worked by them where they are not worked by their owners, and negro or white labor may be employed at discretion. All property belonging to disloyal persons is to be inventoried and sold for the benefit of the government, under the provisions of the confiscation act. Since the majority of the planters in this rich district are openly disloyal, the government is likely to realize something handsome, and there will be large transfers of real estate. The planters with few exceptions, have abandoned their homes. The small landowners and traders about Thibodeaux are returning, willing to take the oath of allegiance.
Western Virginia.—The inhabitants of Western Virginia are about to memorialize Congress for immediate admission into the Union with a gradual emancipation clause in their constitution.
Price of Newspapers.—The great advance in the price of printing paper has compelled most of the daily papers to advance their prices. In New York, however, this has not yet been done, and they are issuing their papers at a heavy loss. This cannot long continue, and they will be compelled to make an advance with the rest. Many of the weekly papers have raised their prices, some of them as high as fifteen per cent. on the old rates.
Since the above was written, the New York Times has raised its price to $2 per year for the Weekly, and $3 for the Semi-Weekly. The N. Y. Evening Post has also raised the price of its daily to 4 cents per copy.
The Fourteenth regiment has been detached from Gen. Sumner’s corps, and together with the 23d, was doing guard duty over naval stores at Bell Plain, a landing on the Potomac Creek, one mile from the river, and east of Fredericksburg.
Thanksgiving was observed in this city according to ancient custom. Family reunions and domestic festivities were the order of the day. Business was laid aside. Public services were held in most of the churches, which were well attended. These never are crowded on these occasions, and a house half full is considered a good audience. …
Thanksgiving in Camp.—The call which was made on the people of Middletown last week for pumpkin pies was promptly responded to. The call was made on Tuesday, and the next day about two hundred pies were sent down by the boat.
A bounteous Thanksgiving dinner was provided by the “Sons of Connecticut” residing in New York for the five Connecticut regiments encamped at Centreville Course.
Presentation Speech.—A sword, sash, and belt were presented to Col. Mansfield on the evening previous to the departure of the 24th regiment from this city. They were the gift of the officers of the regiment. Rev. Mr. Wightman, the chaplain, presented them. His address was as follows :
Col. Mansfield, Sir : The officers who have the honor to serve under your command, chose you a few weeks ago to be their military teacher and leader. Their acquaintance with you since that time has only served to give them a higher appreciation of your character, a firmer confidence in your ability, and to confirm them in the wisdom of the choice which they then made. To day, therefore, on this camp-ground whose very name [camp Mansfield] awakens a thrill of sacred memories in every patriotic heart, they bring to you this badge of office and symbol of authority requesting you to accept this gift as a token of the esteem which their additional acquaintance with you has developed, and as a symbolic pledge on their part to regard the authority which it implies. Receive from them through me Sir, the sword, sash, and belt.
Col. Mansfield made a brief and appropriate reply.
LETTER FROM CHAPLAIN STEVENS.
The letter from Rev. H. S. Stevens, Chaplain of the 14th Conn., which we publish below must be deemed conclusive on those points of which it treats. It was written at the request of the officers of the regiment, and was approved by them after it was completed. A just indignation has been felt by the officers and men at the false and malicious representations which have been made in the Sentinel, and they have taken this method to show both the truth of the matter and their scorn of the men who can at home slander and malign the Union cause which they themselves are exposing their lives to sustain. We commend the letter to the careful attention of our readers. It contains much that is valuable and interesting to those who have friends in the regiment.
“A DISGRACEFUL STATE OF AFFAIRS.”
Mr. Editor of the Constitution :
In a copy of the Sentinel and Witness of Nov. 12th, I find an article with the caption given above. Since some of the statements made in that article are incorrect, and I know them to be, I feel at liberty to notice them and will do so through your paper if you will permit. Who compounded the article I do not know but it professes to be founded on the testimony of “all” of “several citizens who have recently visited so much of our army as is stationed in and about Harper’s Ferry.”
In the first place all the former inhabitants of Harper’s Ferry have not deserted it. Several fine residences and very many humbler ones are still occupied by their former inhabitants.
A great many buildings have been deserted, however, and the greater number of these have been appropriated to hospital uses. In the article referred to the 14th Conn. is spoken of particularly, and its hospital accommodations commented on.
Having been privileged to visit the hospitals of the 14th nearly every day for several weeks, I am able to speak concerning them. Soon after we reached Harper’s Ferry our surgeons selected a house in the village of Bolivar to which our sick were conveyed, and it at once became our hospital. The house was a substantial brick edifice, warm and commodious. The windows were good and whole with the exception of one. From one some glass was gone but the wind and rain were excluded by means of blankets arranged by the nurses. A week or two previous to the departure of the regiment an additional building was selected and appropriated to hospital use which was quite as comfortable as the one already in use. Our surgeons gave careful attention to all the sick in the hospitals once or twice each day, and for more than a week before we left one was in constant attendance and has been since. Good nurses were assigned to the charge of the sick men, and my opinion is that they generally performed their duty well. The food received by the sick was the best “Uncle Sam” afforded—to be sure not all just what sick men would relish most, but the beef and rice could be made into good dishes even for them. Before we departed from Harper’s Ferry luxuries were being received from the “Sanitary Commission,” and many received luxuries from home, or obtained them in town.
As to the food generally given to the soldiers, I would say that the mess of the Brigade and Regimental field and Staff officers was supplied constantly from the same source from which the men’s rations were issued to them, and we had no occasion to complain of their quality.
The dead seldom lay unburied more than a day, as I can testify, having performed the burial services of the dead of our own regiment and of several of other regiments.
Perhaps we had only “three hundred men fit for duty,” but if so, singular to relate, that while we have had a long march and have experienced some trying weather, and some have of course fallen out by the way, we have now nearly six hundred enlisted men reported for duty.
Through a singular and unfortunate train of circumstances our men have not been able to obtain their knapsacks. This has occasioned great inconvenience and has been regretted as deeply by the officers as by the men. But that the men have not had a change of clothing since they left Connecticut, or that they were without tents, overcoats, and blankets, on Bolivar Heights is not true. A great proportion had good comfortable tents soon after reaching the Heights, and before the regiment left all had shelter tents issued to them.
Some were for a time destitute of an overcoat or a blanket, but these also were issued to them as well as new pantaloons and shoes before we began our march, to some of them two or three weeks before.
It will be well to remember that the length of time which clothes will last depends on the habits of the wearer. Some of the men have the clothes they wore from Connecticut looking as whole and almost as neat as when they left home, while some rent theirs asunder or ground them to pieces weeks ago. In three days after the last issue of pantaloons some men had burst theirs to the knee—Who is to be blamed for this? The government? The regimental officers? Who?
The health of our regiment is excellent now, as compared with most regiments. What if the men have grumbled a little! Grumbling is as natural as life to the soldier—they seem to have forgotten the past, and they are learning the best of the soldier’s lessons, to make the best of the present.
Co. “B” is doing well. The officers and men are of good stuff, brave and patriotic, ready to put down treason whether its advocates are armed enemies whom they must meet in bloody conflict, or such as gather around gloomy corners and haunt secession printing offices at the North whom they would scorn to death.
H. S. Stevens,
Chaplain 14th C. V.
Belle Plain, Va., Nov. 26th 1862.
The New Stone Bridge, over Pameacha, is now nearly completed, and will be ready for travel in a few days. It would have been finished long before this, but for the impossibility of getting stone for the arches when it was wanted. This was due to the enthusiasm for the war, which was strong at that time in the neighborhood of the quarries. The bridge is a substantial, massive piece of work, made to last, and warranted not to get out of repair during the life-time of the present generation. It is a great advantage to that section of the town, increasing the value of real estate in the neighborhood, and furnishing a fine avenue for public travel. The contractors, Messrs. Johnson and Arnold, have done their work well. Under some disadvantages they have erected a structure of which they and all citizens of Middletown may well be proud.
Scalded to Death.—Mr. John Quinn, an Irishman, who was buried at the Catholic Cemetery in this city yesterday, met with his death in a singular and fearful manner. On Saturday he was engaged in butchering a hog, and in stepping backward he went against the large tub used at such times which was filled with boiling hot water. He fell into the water, and was so dreadfully scalded that he soon died.
Eclipse.—The moon will pass through a total eclipse on Saturday morning next, Dec. 6th. It begins here at five minutes before one o’clock, is total from 2,04 to 3,35, and ends at 4,44.