From The Constitution, Wednesday, February 18, 1863 (volume 26, number 1312)
The rebels are hurrying troops to Vicksburg in anticipation of the attack there. It is asserted that a large part of the Army of Virginia is there. A barge loaded with coal for the Queen of the West had run the Vicksburg blockade.
The late victory at Fort Donelson was won by the gunboats, which reached the scene of action and commenced throwing shells among the rebels after our forces had been entirely surrounded by the enemy.
No military movements are reported from the army of the Potomac. The Phillips House opposite Fredericksburg was destroyed by fire on Saturday.
The ship Planter, one of the Banks transports, was wrecked on the 14th ult., on Stranger Key, near the Abaco Light. All the men on board were saved, but 275 horses were lost.
The news from New Orleans indicates that the work of preparation is now complete and Gen. Banks’ troops would soon take the field.
The McDowell Court of Inquiry adjourned sine die on Saturday, having been in session sixty-seven working days.
Independent State Action
The Legislature of Illinois has resolved to take measures independent of the United States and of the other States towards a peace. Resolutions to that effect passed the House of Representatives last week by a vote of 62 to 28. It is not impossible that one or two other states may do the same thing, and we shall then have presented the strange spectacle of one or more States making proposals of peace to the common enemy at the same time that the General Government is carrying on the war with all the resources at its command. This, we suppose, is in accordance with the theory of “state rights.” There is but a short step between such action as this and secession itself. We shall next expect to hear that the “copperheads” out west are anxious to withdraw their allegiance altogether from the national government.
A Secret League is known to exist at the west composed of those who are hostile to the government and favorable to the south. The members of this league call themselves democrats, and many of them are prominent leaders of the democratic party. The association is a secret one, and the members are bound by an oath. It has been their object all through the war to throw obstacles in the way of the government, and aid the rebellion. At present they are endeavoring to have a convention held at Louisville composed of delegates from such states as will encourage the movement, for the purpose of conferring with the rebels on terms of peace. This is the most dangerous attempt which has yet been made at the North to subvert the Union.
From Europe.—The Etna arrived Friday with Liverpool dates to the 28th. The most important news is that a formidable insurrection has broken out in Poland. Russian troops were attacked at various points, and numbers of them were killed.
Rumors in regard to the new mediation scheme of the French Emperor continued to circulate.
The Emperor of the French ought to be better acquainted with the spirit and temper of our people than to suppose that any meddling of his can be acceptable to the people and Government of the United States. If the people of the southern portion of France were in arms against him, he would not thank President Lincoln for proposing that an armistice should be held in order that terms satisfactory to both parties might be agreed upon. The Emperor would desire peace only on one condition, and that single condition would be the submission of the rebels. It is precisely so with us. A portion of the people are in a state of armed rebellion, and as long as we regard them as rebels, the Government can accept no terms from them short of submission.
That the French Emperor supposes this proposal of his will be accepted, seems improbable. But nevertheless he may believe that he can safely and successfully interfere. It is evident that he is determined to aid so far as he can in the disruption of the Union, and that he does this in order to further his designs in Mexico. He intends, if possible, to establish French supremacy in Mexico, and it becomes necessary that the United States should be rendered incapable of interfering with his plans. If the Union be broken his chances are favorable. If the Union remains, French occupation becomes impossible. He would have no fears of a new Confederacy destitute of all the means of aggressive warfare. It is not to be supposed that he has any special love for the rebels. If they can help him, then he will help them. His policy is selfish, cold and without regard to anything but his own interests. He is now endeavoring to make use of the rebellion to subserve his own interests.
Governor Buckingham has gone to Washington. He reached there last Wednesday on his way to the Connecticut regiments of the army of the Potomac. He went to make himself personally acquainted with the wants and condition of the soldiers.
Business has never been better, at least not for many years, in this section than it has been for some time past and is now. Contrary to the prediction of many the war has not had a depressing effect on trade and manufactures. We mentioned last week that the Russell Manufacturing Company paid more than $1000 a month government tax. Some other establishments pay nearly as much. This shows that they are doing an immense business. Manufacturing was never more flourishing here. The same is true of Cromwell. At the large factory of J. & S. Stevens it is difficult to supply the numerous orders that come in. The Portland Quarry Companies are employing large gangs of men, and when spring opens will make heavy shipments of stone. There is work enough for everybody who can and is willing to work. There has been very little begging this winter, and very little occasion for it.
The ball given by the employees in Savage Rifle factory on Friday evening was a brilliant affair. A large number was present and some from out of town. Supper was served somewhere among the small hours, and it was rather early when all the guests had retired.
The body of Edwin J. Clark, of this town, Staddle Hill, whose death in hospital at Falmouth, Va., we noticed two or three weeks ago, was sent on by express from Washington and reached here on Tuesday. It had been embalmed and was in good condition. The funeral was attended on Wednesday at the Universalist church. The services were conducted by Rev. Mr. Bruce. The remains were interred on Indian Hill Cemetery. Deceased belonged to the 21st regiment.
The funeral of Sergeant Richard Robertson was attended on Thursday at the Scotch Church. The Mansfield Guard and a portion of the military company from Portland escorted the remains to the cemetery in Portland. An interesting account of the deceased, from a gentleman in this city, is published in another part of this paper.
One more of the members of the late Capt. Gibbons’ company, Co. B, 14th regiment, is reported dead. Nathaniel S. Butler, of this town, Maromas district, died in hospital at Aquia Creek on the 5th inst., of typhoid fever. He leaves a wife and one child. His age was 22. The brave 14th, having been through two of the most bloody battles of the war, and after enduring great hardships, is thus losing one after another of its members from disease.
William Russell, of this city, who belonged to Co. B, 14th regiment, died recently at Falmouth, Va. He was several years engaged in the Middlesex Quarry in Portland, and was a man very highly esteemed. He leaves a wife. The body is expected to arrive by the noon train to-day, and the funeral will probably take place on Thursday at 2 p. m. at the Scotch Church. Rev. Mr. Dudley will conduct the services. The Home Guard of this city and the Washington Guard of Portland, of which deceased had formerly been a member, will perform escort duty on the occasion. The remains will be interred in Mortimer Cemetery.
Information Wanted.—The friends of William G. Bonney, of this city, who enlisted in Co. B., 14th regiment, wish for information as to where he may be. When last heard from he was in hospital at Harper’s Ferry. Since his removal from that place his friends here have lost sight of him altogether. He is probably in some government hospital. Can anyone furnish the desired information ?
Embalming.—Doctors Brown and Alexander, of Washington, D. C., Government Embalmers, have furnished us the following list of Connecticut soldiers’ graves near Falmouth, Va. These parties have embalmed and sent to their friends the bodies of a number of soldiers from this town and vicinity and are known to be responsible business men. They will upon application by letter exhume and forward per Express the bodies of deceased solders at a reasonable charge. By embalming, the bodies are placed in such condition that they may be viewed by friends, of course being more perfect where they are attended to immediately after death.
The process of embalming will simply arrest decay, thus preserving the body in the same condition as they receive it. We can assure our readers that any business entrusted to their care will be promptly executed. By writing to them the expense of a journey to Washington is saved :
R. Rice, 8th Regt., Conn. Vols. ; Elisha Mowrey, Co. F, 11th Conn. ; Albert O. Foster, Co. B, 11th Conn. ; Leonard A. Green, Co. F, 15th ; Russell Hills, Co. K, 15th ; Albert Calhoun, Co. G, 15th ; L. F. Spencer, Co. E, 15th ; J. L. Fields, Co. C, 15th ; C. Ingram, 16th ; D. R. Douglass, Co. G, 21st ; J. H. Hyatt, Co. A, 21st ; A. M. West, Co. G, 21st ; Amos Shippe, Co. K, 21st ; Charles F. Green, 21st ; J. M. Brackett, Co. D, 21st ; C. F. Brown, Co,. H, 21st ; James D. Goff, Co. H, 21st ; Charles H. Rogers, Co. E, 21st ; J. L. Carpenter, Co. E, 21st ; J. H. Minor, Co. H, 21st ; Thomas McGuire, Co. F, 21st ; Ebenezer H. Payne, Co. E, 21st ; George Flint, Co. B, 21st ; H. Willis, Co. D, 21st ; Martin Kearney, Co. B, 21st ; B. B. Rich, Co. H, 21st ; John Nutchill, Co. D, 27th ; J. H. Eddy, 27th.
For the Constitution.
Born, in Kirklane, Perth Shire, Scotland, February 22d, 1842, Richard Robertson.
Died, before Fredericksburgh, of chronic diarhea, on Monday, Dec. 29th 1862, Sergeant Richard Robertson, of Co. G, 1st Regt. N. Y. Vols.
These two simple announcements tell their own story. Little enough to the thoughtless, but of deep interest to those whose sympathy may fill up that space of twenty years. Richard Robertson, the subject of this memoir, born on the 22d Feb., 1842, died, in the defence of his adopted country, on the 29th Dec., 1862, at the age of twenty, a nobler death even than that of the battle field. His story cannot be without interest to his many friends, and to all earnest and loving hearts, and we feel that it deserves notice, that our people may know somewhat of what their defenders are daring and suffering in the cause of the Union.
Richard Robertson, came to this country at the age of eleven. He attended for a time the High School of this city ; and then with mother and sisters dependent upon the exertions of himself and brothers, he commenced the battle of life. He worked for several years in the factory of the Messrs. Douglas of this place, men whose names are familiar to all whose necessity has required the sympathy in word and deed they were always ready to bestow. Thence he went to New York city, and from there to Kingston in the same state, where some time in April 1861, before the echoes of Fort Sumpter’s guns had died away, and while the flame of national enthusiasm was sweeping through the land, like the fiery Cross that of old rallied the Highlands, he devoted himself to the service of the country that had opened its arms to receive him, by enlisting in the 20th Regt. New York Vols. He left this regiment shortly after, to enter the 1st Regt. N. Y. Vols., with which he remained—the regiment was one of those enlisted for two years. Aug. 24th 1861, he was in camp at Newport News, where his regiment remained, till April, 1862. After the unfortunate skirmish at Big Bethel, in which he participated, he writes “there is nothing to lament for ; a soldier should be ready to die ; I hope I can say I am not afraid to die. I am just as safe in the battle field as at home.” He took part in the capture of Norfolk, and, after the evacuation of Yorktown, joined McClellan’s army. His division, commonly known as “Kearney’s fighting division” was part of the rear guard, marching all night, and fighting all day, during that masterly retreat to Harrison’s Landing. During the “seven days” his regiment was badly cut up, losing 500 out of 900 men. He went through trials and sufferings, of which we know little as yet, with the remnant of that devoted army.
Shortly after we find him again fighting under Kearney, in the battle known as the Second battle of Bull Run. In this affair his clothes were cut several times by bullets. His own graphic account of this battle is as follows : “We were five days from Harrison’s landing to Yorktown. At Yorktown our Regt. was changed from Barry’s to Birney’s brigade both in Kearney’s division. From Yorktown by transports to Alexandria. Thence by cars to Warrenton Station to join Pope’s army. Encamped two days. Found Jackson was getting in rear of us. Made forced march of two days and nights and the third morning got in front of the enemy. Our Regt. was sent in advance to meet him. Marched in line of battle one mile and came upon the enemy. I was Orderly Sergeant, and there was only one Lieut. in charge of the company, who was shot early in the action. The charge of the company then devolved upon me. I led the company into action five different times that day,–the fighting being confined to Kearney’s Division. At night I was sent on Picket duty with my company. Next morning was sent with four others as skirmishers. My four companions were shot. I received a ball through my haversack and another through my blanket. The day before I was struck by a ball in the centre of my body, but it had four thicknesses of belts to go through. It tore all my belts, blouse and shirt and made a slight flesh wound. The force of it knocked me down, but the belt turned the ball. Next day was in the fight in which the gallant Kearney was killed. Our brigade was two and a half hours under fire till our ammunition was gone and then we charged. Our loss was very severe, but I only got one ball through my haversack. I acted as First Lieut. in the last fight. I think the prayers that were sent up for me at home were the means of saving my life.”
Privations and hardships, however, did their work on even his hardy frame and firm heart. Oct 5th, 1862, he was in hospital at Washington sick with the complaint which afterward terminated his life. On the 13th Nov. he was at Warrenton, Va., having rejoined his regiment, though too weak to do so with safety. He wrote in good spirits, spoke of having left the hospital too soon, and of being on the march every day, his Division acting as support to Pleasanton’s Cavalry. On the 19th Dec. he was much worse and wrote his last home letter. He spoke of being very weak, said that he had many reasons to thank Almighty God, that God could cure him there as well as at home, yet he longed to be at home. God took him home. On the 29th Dec. 1862, the Christian Soldier passed to his rest. I conclude this brief outline of a life beautiful in its devotion to God, to Country, and to friend, with the testimony of his worth given by his officers and comrades in arms. His captain writes to his mother : “It will be, I know, a great consolation to you to know that your son had a firm trust in the Blessed Saviour. A few moments before he breathed his last, I asked him what he would have me tell his mother and sisters. His reply was—“Tell them to meet me in Heaven.” Your son was a most excellent young man, greatly beloved and respected by all his fellow soldiers. By his attention to duty and his soldierly and gentlemanly conduct he won the confidence and esteem of all his officers.” His Lieut. writes in substance the same, “a better and braver man never took up arms for his country.” A comrade writes, “Richard Robertson died possessed of the highest regard of all that knew him.” His Captain finishes one letter to his mother with these words : “Sincerely hoping you will find consolation and comfort for your bereavement, in the knowledge of the noble, manly, and soldierly conduct of your son, while in the service of his country, to all of which I can bear emphatic testimony, I am &c.”
Thus died, at the age of 20, beloved and respected by all that knew him, Sergeant Richard Robertson, a man whose devotion to his country ended only with death. And the number of these men is not one, but legion, their bones rest on many a battle field and in many a solitary burial ground. An army of devoted men who have passed beyond the reach of our aid, our sympathy, and our prayers, but the history of whose lives remains with us to honor and to imitate. But we still have left with us many as brave, as noble and devoted. Shall we grudge them our means, our sympathy, our prayers, all that we can do to lighten their work, and soothe their suffering. Let us thank God that we are living in an heroic age. The Baptism of blood is a first act in all great historical dramas. By and through it we are winning a true nationality, a history written in our heart’s blood, a literature, whose keynote shall be an Epic, acted out by strong arms and true hearts, which shall shed a glorious light down the ages ; a host of bitter and yet glorious recollections to bind us in bands of steel hereafter.
We fight in a cause such as the world has seldom seen. In how great honor then should we hold those who have gone forth into the darkness and the storm to save the Republic ? And in what reverence and love should the Republic hold the memories of those, true-hearted, who have died in her defence ? “The night is far spent, the day is at hand.”