From The Constitution, Wednesday, December 31, 1862 (volume 26, number 1305)
The expedition of Gen. Banks has reached New Orleans, and Gen. Banks has taken up his headquarters in that city, Gen. Butler being superseded by him, and being now probably on his way to Washington. The first duty assigned to Gen. Banks is the opening of the Mississippi river in conjunction with the expedition from Cairo. Texas is included in Gen. Banks’ department.
The steamship Ariel, owned by Com. Vanderbilt, was captured by the pirate Alabama on the 7th inst., near the east end of Cuba. She was detained three days, and then allowed to proceed on her voyage, after giving a ransom bond of $228,000.
Twenty-five hundred rebel cavalry, with six pieces of artillery, attacked our forces at Dumfries on Saturday afternoon, and after a fight of three hours were repulsed. Our loss was slight.
Thirty-eight of the condemned Sioux Indians were hung at Mankato, Minn., on Friday.
Monday Evening, Dec. 22—In the Senate, the bill ceding jurisdiction over the necessary territory for Yard and Depot at New London to the United States passed. The militia bill was discussed. In the House, but little business was transacted during the afternoon and evening.
Tuesday, in the Senate, the militia bill was discussed and passed. Bill authorizing the issue of State bonds passed. William H. Russell of New Haven was elected Major General of the State Militia. A bill protecting banks from the penalty of overissues passed. A resolution passed opposing the passage of a Bankrupt Law by Congress. In the House, the bill concerning savings banks passed. Resolution opposing a national Bankrupt Law passed. The bill relating to overissues by banks passed.
Wednesday, in the Senate, the bill allowing soldiers to vote was passed. Private acts ordered to be published next spring. In the House, a ballot was taken for Major General, when Wm. H. Russell was elected. The bill for taking the soldiers’ vote was taken up and debated until the hour for adjournment. In the afternoon, after several minor matters had been disposed of, the bill relating to soldiers voting was again taken up. After a prolonged debate, the vote on the passage of the bill was taken, when it passed by yeas 125, nays 60. A bill passed to obtain the opinion of the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the soldiers’ voting law. Forty-five members who had voted against the soldiers’ bill changed their votes. In the evening the Senate and House met in convention. A short address was read by the Governor, after which the Legislature was adjourned without d[el]ay.
Soldiers Allowed to Vote.
The Legislature of this State performed an act of justice to our soldiers in permitting them the privilege of voting. No good reason can be given why they should not be admitted to this privilege. They were called into public service by the State. It is impossible for them to leave their duties to be present at the annual election. They constitute a considerable portion of the voters of each town, and it is a simple act of justice to permit them to participate in the elections.
The democratic party in this State has been unwilling that the soldiers should vote. It is easy to see why. If in the State of New York the soldiers’ votes had been counted with the rest, the result would have been very different from what it was. In that State the democrats at the late election had all the advantages to be derived from the absence of seventy-five thousand voters, who were as ready to support the Government at the ballot box as in the field. If in this State the democrats can count on the absence of fifteen thousand republican voters, they think they have some hopes of electing an anti-administration ticket next spring. Hence their opposition to the proposal to allow the soldiers to vote. The fact that they opposed the measure is proof amounting to a demonstration that they believe the soldiers will vote against them. If they had supposed they could gain votes next spring by the operation of this law, they never would have said a word in opposition to it. Modern democracy is not capable of such self denial.
A Change of Front.
Sixty democrats in the House of Representatives voted against the bill allowing soldiers in the field to vote. They said it was unconstitutional to pass such a law. After the bill passed, forty-five of these sixty democrats asked and obtained permission to change their votes, and had their names recorded in favor of the law ! The inconsistency of this proceeding is glaring. If the bill was unconstitutional before it was passed, it was unconstitutional afterwards. It is evident that they changed their votes for political effect. They opposed the bill with the hope of preventing its passage. Our soldiers’ votes would be no help to them next spring, and they determined that they would, if they could, prevent the men who are fighting our battles, from exercising their privileges as freemen. When the bill had passed, these forty-five democrats saw that they had committed a political mistake, and the thing would look bad for their party. So they changed their front, and have had their names recorded on both sides ! Connecticut soldiers can see through that kind of maneuvering.
Company B.—Of the list of wounded in Company B, of the fourteenth regiment, given last week, there have since been reported dead—Capt. E. W. Gibbons, and D. H. Otis. H. A. Lloyd has had his left hand amputated. George A. Hubbard has recovered so as to be able to return to duty.
Death of Capt. Gibbons.—The public were pained to hear last week of the death of Capt. Elijah W. Gibbons, Co. B., 14th regiment. He was wounded at the battle of Fredericksburg, a minie ball having penetrated the thigh and broken the bone. His wound was reported as severe, but it was believed it would not prove mortal. Such, however, has been the case. After lingering for nearly two weeks, he died at Falmouth on Friday the 19th.
Capt. Gibbons first entered the service a year and a half ago, as First Lieutenant in the Fourth Regiment, now First Conn. Artillery. He served through most of the Peninsular campaign under Gen. McClellan, when he resigned his commission and came home. Last summer he raised a company of volunteers in this city, received a Captain’s commission, and joined the 14th regiment. He left here with his company on the 7th of August. At the battle of Antietam he fought bravely at the head of his men, and showed that he possessed excellent qualities as a soldier. In all the extraordinary hardships to which the 14th has been exposed, Capt. Gibbons has shown a firm and undaunted spirit. He was esteemed as one of the most reliable officers in the regiment, and held the confidence and esteem of officers and men. His death is a great loss to the service, and has produced universal regret and sorrow among a large circle of friends at home. He leaves a wife and two children in this city, also a mother and sisters. Three brothers are in the army. He was a valued member of the Baptist church.
Private John Norton, of this city, a member of Co. I, 21st regiment died in hospital at or near Falmouth of typhoid fever. He enlisted in the company raised here by Capt. Dickerson. He had for many years carried on the business of blacksmithing in this place, and was universally respected. A rumor circulated in town immediately after the battle that he was killed. This proved to be false, to the great relief of his friends; but it was followed soon after by the intelligence that he is dead. He leaves a wife and two children.
For the Constitution.
Mr. Editor : From our temples and firesides there is no social and religious institution that shines through the frosty panes of our puritanism with such increasing heart cheeriness and divine radiance as the celebration of Christmas. Among the old ones it is the eve of heart-felt satisfaction for charities, the brightest of all rewards, the consolations of the givers ; and the morning of glad tidings among the little ones, the receivers, until all the little hearts radiate with a fine joy, bearing off beautiful mementoes to ornament the responsible future when they in their turn shall become the givers. At the solemn dawn of this annual event the telegraphic key that connects the highest notes in the great heart of the Christian commonwealth, seems to be touched by the finger of the Master, and all that is generous in thought and deed seems to conspire in mutual benefices. In this grand ingathering of all the humanities in the castle and in the cottage, in every shop and counting room, of all petulances political, and all wrangling religious, the skeleton is locked in the closet. As love comes in at the door, no green eyes look into the window, no wolf is on the threshold, for Saint Nicholas comes down the chimney. And how much of Heaven there is in the beautiful idea that the principal actors and recipients in this celebration are children, so loved and smiled upon always by Him whose natal day, the grandest of all Time’s events, they celebrate. It is the day of all days when the morning greeting is not a formality, when the good wish from the mouth is not the smooth signal of a lurking devil in the heart. A day when all hearts instinctively bow to the East where the Star of Faith and Hope never sets. What a number and variety of stockings are pendant all over the world this Christmas eve, hanging like so many colored stalactites from high and low roof trees, from marble mantles and old-fashioned fire places!—White stockings and red stockings, long stockings and short stockings, silk stockings and woolen stockings, whole stockings and ragged stockings, with their gaping mouths open like young birds, for the gifts of the old ones. What a legion of little ones, a million little anxious hearts ticking off the tardy moments, under ears acute for the coming of the gray bearded old commissary of this great little army, Santa Claus. And when “all is still through the house, nothing stirring, not even a mouse”, the old fellow all sooty and frosty, with a little black pipe under his cherry red nose, and with
“A little round belly
That shakes when he laughs
Like a bowl full of jelly”,
glides down the chimney and all the stockings are filled in a twinkling. And then the old rogue, with bells on his frosty toes, with his finger to his frosty nose, with an icicle to each frosty ear, while he shouts a merry Christmas and a happy New Year, with a cluck to Donder and Blixen rides off to the sky.
Even old Middletown, the Rip Van Winkle of the Connecticut valley, wakes up, rubs his eyes, yawns and can hardly shut his mouth again for sweet meats, and can’t pull on his boots for the toys, and actually laughs and goes forth to great frolic of church trimming and Christmas trees. The congregations of the churches in this city, with kind thought for the children of their Sabbath schools made elaborate preparations to gladden their hearts. The Universalist Society held services in their church on Christmas Eve, which was very neatly and handsomely decorated, and listened to a fine christian discourse from their able and eloquent pastor. Under the direction and efficient services of the pastor’s lady, who is equal, in herself, for any christian enterprise, to a host of engineers and quartermasters, a very large, beautiful tree, tastefully ornamented, and loaded with presents, was put up in the McDonough Hall. Verily this is a great season for fruit, and this tree it was feared at one time, was going to bear more fruit than it could bear. There it stood with its generous arms outstretched to the children, with over five hundred presents. And Santa Claus the veritable old Nick, with frosty beard and robes of fur appeared and in his unique style distributed the presents. And then there was great glee “and all went merry as a marriage bell”. Among the most notable gifts were a very handsome photograph album to Mrs. Bruce from the teachers of the Sabbath School ; a valuable set of books to Mr. Wm. S. Camp as an acknowledgement of his services while twenty-five year Superintendent of the School ; an elegant family bible to the present Superintendent, Mr. S. C. Hubbard ; and a purse of one hundred dollars to the pastor, Mr. Bruce, who acknowledged its reception in a pleasant and pithy speech. And then all went home, the hearts of the elder ones and the little ones made gladder and happier by this gathering, and braver and stronger for the coming year,—another beautiful monument erected in the dusty highway of Time for all weary memories in the coming years to turn back to. Micawber.
Kindlings—Charc-o-a-l ! Char-c-o-a-l ! is the cry constantly heard at the matutinal hour (that means along in the morning) on all our streets ; and that is not all the crying there is done in connection with that sooty subject, either, for the ladies soil their fingers and dresses with the dirty stuff, and they cry. All of which can be avoided by sending your orders to Hubbard’s Planing Mill for their neater, better and cheaper kindlings.
The Members and ex-members of the Company are requested to attend a special Meeting, at the Town Hall, on WEDNESDAY, EVENING Dec. 31st inst., at 7 o’clock, to make arrangements for the Funeral of Capt. Elijah W. Gibbons.
A full and punctual attendance is requested.
E. W. N. STARR, Commander.
Middletown, Dec. 29th, 1862,