From The Constitution, Wednesday, February 4, 1863 (volume 26, number 1310)
The news of the week has not been of great importance. The army of the Potomac has remained without change. Gen. Hooker, the new commander, has appointed Gen. Butterfield his chief of staff. Gen. Burnside is in Providence, R. I., on a visit.
Operations on the Mississippi promise to be interesting after a while. Gen. Grant is concentrating his forces at Vicksburg, and in conjunction with Gen. McClernand will make the ultimate capture of that place certain.
There is nothing of importance from Gen. Rosecrans.
From New Orleans we learn that Gen. Banks has been to Baton Rouge, to visit his command there. Several changes had taken place among the officials at New Orleans.
The important intelligence reached New York on Sunday that the pirate Oreto had probably been sunk.
The rebels advanced across the Blackwater on Friday, and made a demonstration against Gen. Peck’s advanced brigades. Our forces drove them back across the Blackwater. The fighting resulted in a loss to us of 104 killed and wounded. Gen. Corcoran commanded our forces.
Elizabeth, N. C., is now held by the federal troops. One company of the 1st N. C. Union regiment, and about 100 negroes, are doing garrison duty at that point.
The Last Change of Commanders.
The resignation of Gen. Burnside and the appointment of Gen. Hooker to the command of the army of the Potomac has brought out some strange facts with regard to that army. That Gen. Burnside should resign is not surprising. He accepted the appointment with reluctance, and his well known modesty and self distrust had given the impression that he would give up his command as soon as he could do so consistently with duty and honor. He still has the esteem and confidence of the public. The appointment of Gen. Hooker appears to be satisfactory so far. He has a high reputation, and it is believed that he has qualities for a successful commander. The immediate cause of Gen. Burnside’s resignation was the interference of subordinate officers in a manner to defeat his plans. It hardly seems credible, but it is stated on the authority of Mr. Raymond, of the New York Times, that after the battle of Fredericksburg, Gen. Burnside prepared for another aggressive movement, that his preparations were made and he was about to order an advance “when a telegram from President Lincoln announced to Gen. Burnside that he must make no movement without first consulting him.” Subsequently Gen. Burnside was informed by the President that this order was sent on account of representations made by some of his subordinate officers, who had protested against the movement. This is a remarkable statement, and shows some of the peculiar difficulties attending the leadership of the Army of the Potomac. The President undoubtedly had the very best intentions, but we cannot conceive how with his acknowledged good judgment he could have permitted the protests of subordinate officers to have influenced him to interfere with the matured plans of Gen. Burnside. Subordinates have no right to approach the President in this manner. It is a kind of interference which must defeat all plans and destroy confidence in the General. It appears that upon the representations of these subordinate officers, the President assumed the responsibility of arresting the march of the army upon the enemy’s lines.
Perhaps the reason why the army of the Potomac has done so little is because it has had so much direction from non-military sources at Washington. Gen. Halleck seems to have very little to do with that army. It is under the special care of the President, who directs its operations as though he himself were a Field Marshal. Ever since the first battle of Manassas, that army has suffered from the generalship of civilians. It is suffering from the same cause now. Such a course can never be judicious or safe. It has in this case been far from successful. No army can be effective which is not completely under the control of its General. There must be perfect submission on the part of subordinate officers, and no interference from others. On what conditions Gen. Hooker accepts the command, the public is as yet uninformed. If he is the man who is to take Richmond, then we may expect a stricter discipline than has yet prevailed, and a sufficient degree of independence to carry out his own plans.
Tuesday, in the Senate, the bill providing for the removal of Indians from Kansas passed ; also the bill for the removal of the Sioux Indians from Minnesota passed. A long debate ensued on the bill to indemnify the President and other persons for the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. Mr. Saulsbury made a long speech, and was called to order several times. He was finally committed into the custody of the sergeant-at-arms. The bill under discussion passed, yeas 33, nays 7. In the House, the deficiency appropriation bill was discussed.
Wednesday, in the Senate, a resolution for the expulsion of Mr. Saulsbury from the Senate was offered, and laid over. The army appropriation bill was called up. Several amendments were adopted, when the bill passed. In the House the bill authorizing the employment of negro soldiers was taken up. Dilatory motions were made, and the session was continued till after midnight without coming to a decision.
Thursday, in the Senate, Mr. Saulsbury expressed his sincere regret at what occurred on Tuesday evening. The bill to aid the State of Missouri in emancipating slaves was debated. In the House, a resolution was adopted instructing the committee of ways and means to enquire into the expediency of the passage of an act prohibiting banks and individuals from receiving gold deposits to secure payments of borrowed money. The negro soldier bill was taken up. A long debate followed relative to the status of black soldiers in the army, provided this bill should pass. No action was taken.
Friday, in the Senate, the new Senator from Illinois, Mr. Richardson, was qualified and took his seat. The debate on the proposition to furnish pecuniary aid for the emancipation of slaves in Missouri was then resumed, and the bill was recommitted to the Judiciary Committee. In the House, a resolution was adopted that the General-in-Chief inform the House whether paroles have been granted to any rebel officers captured by the army of the United States since the proclamation of Jefferson Davis refusing paroles or exchanges to captured Union officers. The bill for the employment of negro soldiers was debated until the hour of adjournment.
Saturday, in the Senate, the joint resolution tendering the thanks of Congress to Commander Worden passed. The Consular and Diplomatic appropriation bill passed. In the House, the negro soldier bill was debated at great length.
Monday, in the Senate, the legislative and judicial appropriation bill was taken up and discussed. In the House, the consideration of the bill for the employment of colored troops was resumed, and finally passed, yeas 83, nays 55.
A disgraceful scene occurred in the United States Senate on Tuesday of last week. Mr. Saulsbury, of Delaware, was making a speech against the government and the war, when he said the President was “an imbecile,” calling him by name. He was at once called to order by the Vice President. He refused to obey the order, and said he should do as he pleased. The Vice President then ordered him into the custody of the Sergeant at arms. Upon this Mr. Saulsbury drew a revolver and with it threatened the Sergeant-at-arms in presence of the Senate. He was taken out uttering oaths and threats.
Such bullying as this is intolerable. Much has been endured in both houses of Congress from the rabid attacks of members who have apparently determined to uphold the rebellion on the floor of Congress, but when one goes so far as to apply contemptuous epithets to the President, calling him by name, and then draws his revolver on an officer of the Senate, he deserves summary punishment. A resolution was introduced on Wednesday for the expulsion of Mr. Saulsbury.
City Expenses.—A communication appears in the last number of the Sentinel signed by Ex-Mayor Russell, on the subject of city expenses. He first finds fault with the Union men for stating on their handbill at the city election that the expenses for the last year had been $1724 less than the year before, when he was Mayor. He intimates that the statement was made for party purposes alone. Mr. Russell probably forgot that the democrats had previously issued a handbill calling upon voters to vote the democratic ticket in order to lessen city expenses! A plain statement of the fact was made in answer that the democratic administration of the previous year had cost the city nearly two thousand dollars more than the Union administration of last year.
Mr. Russell claims that unusual expenses under his administration caused the great demands upon the treasury that year. One item of these unusual expenses is for pistols furnished from the Savage Revolving Fire Arms Co. to one of the companies which enlisted from this city. These pistols cost the city over $1000! We have no disposition to call in question at this time the good policy or the economy of an appropriation of this amount by the Mayor and Common Council, especially when we consider that the soldiers are furnished with all necessary arms by the Government, and also that the Arms Company was very ably represented in our city government that year. We have no fault to find with it now, and are willing that it should go to the credit of the well known loyalty of the ex-Mayor and his then associates in the city government. The other extraordinary expenditure under the ex-Mayor’s administration was for Washington Park, an enterprise which proved a failure.
Arrest of Commissary Dart.—Letters received here the last of the week conveyed the intelligence that Lieut. G. W. Dart, Commissary of the 24th regiment, had been arrested. The accounts vary as to the charges made against him. Some say that he sold Government stores to the rebels, and go into particulars about the articles he disposed of, and the amount he was to realize from this new branch of trade. He himself has written home that he is under arrest, but has the freedom of the camp, and that the charges against him are not for any direct participation in selling goods to the enemy, but for knowing, and not giving information of, somebody else who made the sales.
While resident in this city, Mr. Dart was esteemed as a man of honor and integrity and his friends are unwilling to believe without better evidence than they now have that he has engaged in such a transaction as some charge him with. We trust that he will be able to vindicate himself before the authorities and the public.
For the Constitution.
The Arrest of Quartermaster Dart.
Messrs. Editors : There are many reports in circulation in regard to the arrest of Lieut. G. W. Dart, quartermaster of the 24th regiment. As is invariably the case under such circumstances, the story increases each time that it is told, therefore it may not be amiss to say that Lieut. Dart makes the following statement in a letter to his family : He says that
“The Commissary sergeant Barber, has been arrested and confined in the guard-house on an accusation of selling government property to a small amount, and pocketing the proceeds, and that he (Dart) has been arrested on the supposition that he was knowing to Barber’s acts and had not reported him ; but he has the liberty of the camp and has no doubt of his acquittal.”
Whether this be true of not, it is always well to remember that there are two sides to a question ; that unfortunately jealousies exist in every regiment ; that in recent instances, officers and privates from this town (whose conduct as citizens should have been an ample defence from such reports) have been the victims of charges of inhumanity and cowardice which, though proven false when the other side was heard, yet found plenty of believers and consequent denunciations when they were first started. ; and that at this distance from the scene, judgment should not be passed upon the absent in advance of a trial by court martial, and wholly upon ex parte testimony. With no personal interest in the matter beyond a desire to serve an absent friend, I would, in view of the fact that Lieut. Dart’s conduct as a citizen, for the five or six years that he has been here has been honorable, and that he has left a defenceless family in delicate health, virtually in our care, and to whom this matter is sufficiently annoying at best ; ask in their behalf, a suspension of public opinion until the case can be passed upon by a competent court martial. H.
Middletown, Feb. 2, 1863.
Corporal Samuel Osgood Wells, of this city, a member of Co. I, 21st regiment died on the 23d of November, at Upperville, Va. The friends of Corporal Wells but lately received intelligence of his death which, it is seen, occurred more than two months ago. He was a brother of Mr. Wells, in Benham & Boardman’s and had himself been engaged as a clerk in that store previous to his departure. He was with the army, and had regularly written home; until the march from Pleasant Valley to Fredericksburg, when he was taken with dysentery. He was kindly cared for in the family of a Mrs. Hunter at Upperville until his death. A letter to his friends giving an account of his death was written immediately after that event, but, owing probably to the difficulty of getting it into the mail, was not sent for about two months.
The Oldest Man.—Mr. Isaac Bacon, Newfields society, who died on Sunday last, was the oldest man in town. He was in his 94th year.
The Weather.—The warm weather has continued during the past week until this (Tuesday) morning, when the temperature fell to 15 degrees. The average temperature at sunrise has been 25 degrees, the warmest morning was Monday when the mercury stood at 37 degrees. Saturday and Sunday the weather was clear and mild.
Navigation.—The river is clear of ice, and boats might pass freely from Hartford to Saybrook. It looks as if navigation might be resumed at once. But steamboat men do not like to run the risk of coming up the river in February. A “cold term” between now and the first of March may yet put a firm ice bridge over the Connecticut.
Ice.—Apprehension is felt that the ice crop this winter will be a failure. Ferree & Hubbard have gathered but a small quantity in their ice-houses at Pameacha Pond, and unless we have several days of cold freezing weather, it looks as if there would be a scarcity of the precious article next summer. We are now within less than four weeks of the first of March, and the prospect of a fair ice crop is not very encouraging.
The glass blowers are coming to this city this week. They are coming Wednesday, and will be here four evenings. Their entertainment is peculiar and peculiarly good. They blow glass, and make some beautiful things in a beautiful manner, and give presents, and have dances, and do many other things to please their visitors. On Wednesday evening they will give a present to the handsomest lady present, and the best-looking gentleman. The occasion is expected to be unusually affecting. The glass blowers have been in this city before, and are not unknown to our citizens. Their entertainments will be at McDonough Hall. Price of admission 15 cents.
Home Grown Orange.—Mr. Horace C. Lathrop has left in our office an orange just picked from one of his orange trees. It is a beautiful specimen of the fruit, quite sound, and perfect in its shape. It measures 10 inches in circumference, was one year in reaching its growth, and has a fine fragrance. It shows what may be done by careful cultivation.
Massachusetts Radicalism Again.—That fearfully radical State of Massachusetts is going to do it again. What will conservatism think of the terrible innovation of a State undertaking to pay all its troops in the national service promptly as their wages are due, borrowing money to do it, and taking the General Government’s stipend whenever it may please the Secretary of the Treasury to pay it? Can this be constitutional? The copperheads ought to hiss over this ultra proposition, and demand that Massachusetts be rigorously cut off from the Union.—Detroit Advertiser.