From The Constitution, Wednesday, May 20, 1863 (volume 26, number 1325)
Gen. Hooker’s army have remained quiet in their camps this side the Rappahannock, and there are no present indications of any movement soon to be made. There is no news of importance from our troops in the neighborhood of Fortress Monroe and Suffolk.
The movements of Gen. Grant are satisfactory. He has notified the war department that Port Hudson is undoubtedly evacuated except by a small garrison. He has completely invested Jackson, Miss., so that it must soon fall into our hands, if it has not already done so. It was reported yesterday, Monday, that Jackson was taken, but the report needs confirmation.
It is thought that the aggregate of our losses in the late battles on the Rappahannock will be less than 11,000.
The best news of the week is from New Orleans. On the 6th, Admiral Porter captured Alexandria on the Red River, and the place was immediately occupied by the advance of Gen. Banks’ army. An important order has been issued by Gen. Banks. It is for the organization of a Corps d’Armee of colored troops to be designated as the ‘Corps d’Afrique.’
Col. Grierson with his band of cavalry had safely reached Baton Rouge. He had inflected great damage upon the enemy in his daring raid through Mississippi, and had lost but one man killed and six men wounded.
The patience of the public was sorely tried last week by the false intelligence which was sent over the wires from Washington, and freely published in the New York and Philadelphia papers. It had been given out that the Government exercised a rigid censorship over the telegraph, and that consequently no news could come but such as was reliable.—After Gen. Hooker’s retreat, public expectation was raised by the announcement of Secretary Stanton that active operations would be speedily resumed. Upon the heels of this announcement came the news that Hooker’s army had recrossed the river. This was announced on Saturday, was reaffirmed on Sunday, and again on Monday. It was said also, that Lee’s army was on the retreat. These were not given out as rumors, but as facts.—But on Tuesday night and Wednesday it was all contradicted. Hooker’s army had not moved, neither had Lee’s. The stories were falsehoods, and were probably fabricated by some persons for base purposes, which are best known to themselves.
Death of Stonewall Jackson.
The death of Stonewall Jackson is formally announced in the Richmond papers. He expired on Sunday, the 10th. His death is a heavy loss to the rebels, as he was by far the best general they had and the most reliable in a hard fight. They could better have spared Lee himself than Stonewall Jackson. The latter was remarkable for the enthusiasm with which he inspired his troops. They had perfect confidence in him, and he had perfect confidence in himself. He has been prominent in the war from the commencement and we believe was engaged in the very first hostile act against the Government in Virginia. He was a graduate of West Point, was engaged in the Mexican War, was afterwards Professor in the Military Institute at Lexington, Va., and at the opening of the war was appointed Colonel. He was but 37 years of age. Had Jackson displayed his abilities for his country instead of in the service of a treasonable rebellion and of human slavery, his might have been an honored name in history.
Stoneman’s Raid.—The value of Gen. Stoneman’s cavalry raid in the rear of the rebel army was considerably overstated. It now appears that the damage inflicted on the railroad was only temporary, and the road was put in running order again in two or three days. Lee was not compelled to leave his entrenchments at Fredericksburg. Stoneman’s expedition was a brilliant affair. It was daring, and romantic, and afforded much valuable information of the condition of the country. It also gave a wholesome lesson to the rebels, and showed them that two could now play at their old game of making raids.
Confidence in Our Generals.
One of the remarkable things about the Army of the Potomac is the number of Generals who have successively been in command. First there was Scott, then McDowell, then McClellan, after McClellan came Pope, and after him came McClellan again, who was succeeded by Burnside, and he in turn by Hooker. Here are eight changes of commanders in a space of less than two years, which gave the army a new general on an average every three months. With the exception of Gen. Scott, who resigned all command on account of extreme age and infirmity, each removal has been made on account of defeat in battle or failure to meet the immediate expectations of the people. McDowell was beaten at Bull Run. McClellan failed to reach Richmond on the Peninsular, Pope was disastrously defeated before Washington, and Burnside suffered a repulse at Fredericksburg. The popular voice has demanded that each should be removed as soon as it was proved that he was capable of failure, and was not a military genius of the Napoleonic order. Gen. Burnside took command amid the high expectations of a large portion of the people. He had displayed great ability in his successful campaign in North Carolina. It was hoped that his good fortune would attend him at the head of the favorite army of the republic. A victory was demanded for that army, and a General who could gain it was wanted. Burnside failed at Fredericksburg, and no other course was left for him but to resign. The people expected he would, and he did.
Two weeks ago, when the intelligence circulated that Gen. Hooker had failed in his grand design, the popular tide at once began to turn against that General, and he was likely to be put through the same course of treatment with his predecessors. His military qualities were supposed to be sufficiently tested by a single effort in which he had not met all anticipations, and the cry was raised in some quarters that another should take his place. All this is wrong. No General who ever lived, unless it be such a genius as Alexander, or Marlborough, or Napoleon, could answer the popular demands. George Washington himself, were he now alive, would probably fail in the leadership of the Army of the Potomac. It was many months after he took command of the American army at Cambridge when he finally succeeded in causing the British to evacuate Boston. The first great battle which he fought, that on Long Island, resulted in a disastrous defeat; and the chief credit which the commanding General obtained was for the successful withdrawal of his forces by night from the front of the British lines, precisely like Burnside’s withdrawal from Fredericksburg. It was well for the country that Washington was not cashiered for this defeat. It may have been well that Burnside was succeeded by Hooker. At any rate, that is now passed. But it is not well, nor safe, nor just to condemn a General for a single failure, or for not at once coming up to the mark of public expectations. We ought to have more confidence in our Generals. The people ought to trust to the talents, energy and patriotism of Hooker, and fully believe in his ultimate success. He has ability, and of the right kind, and if he is properly sustained he will find his way to the rebel capital.
Armed Negroes Among the Rebels.—Whatever hesitation there may have been among loyal men about arming the blacks, the rebel slaveholders have never shared in it. They have made constant use of their slaves from the beginning of the war, in various ways which were serviceable to the rebellion. They have left them on their plantations to raise provisions to maintain rebel armies. They have used them in digging trenches and building fortifications; and what is much more to the purpose they have put arms in their hands and compelled them to fight the Yankees. At the late battle of Grand Gulf, the rebel batteries were manned by negro troops. A correspondent of the N. York Times, who was an eye witness of the battle, says, “The guns in the rebel batteries were manned almost wholly by negroes, a single white man, or perhaps two, directing operations.”
These negro soldiers are represented as handling the guns with considerable skill, and having caused a good deal of damage to our vessels. Now that the rebels have set the slaves to fighting against the Government and for the purpose of breaking up the Union, it is quite time that all loyal men should get over their squeamishness about using the negroes to fight against the rebellion.
American Civilization.—A gentleman of this city has shown us an illustration of our American civilization such as has existed in the southern part of this land of liberty. It is a photograph sent from New Orleans, of a slave whose back had been lacerated months ago by the lash and who will carry these marks with him as long as he lives. The skin is cut up in all directions, and the man must have suffered excruciating torture. This is a specimen of the “divine institution” which the rebels are now fighting for, and want to make the corner stone of a southern confederacy. In barbarism and cruelty it has its parallel only in the hook swinging practiced in India.
The Draft.—The following is the latest report from Washington about the draft :
The draft will take place about the first of July. By the middle of July the war department will offer a bounty of $300 to all who will re-enlist, using the fund which has accumulated from those drafted persons choosing to pay three hundred dollars rather than go into the field. It is expected that nearly all returning soldiers will accept the high bounty and return to the service.
High Price of Labor.—Just before the war our citizens very benevolently voted an appropriation for a certain local improvement, the real object of which appropriation was stated to be to give employment to poor men who were likely to suffer for the want of work. The improvement aforesaid amounted to nothing at all, but a large number of broad shouldered men got employment for several weeks at an average wages of about sixty cents a day. That was in time of “profound peace.” This war came on, which some said was going to be very hard on poor men. Instead of going down, wages have been going up ever since. Laborers are now in great demand. They can easily obtain from a dollar and a half to two dollars a day. In the Portland quarries a dollar and a half is paid, and skilled labor commands much more. There is a demand for laborers on farms, in gardens and in factories, and there never has been a time when it received better remuneration than now.
Various Matters.—The Common Council have directed the stores and dwellings on Main street to be numbered. That’s right; they ought to be. Middletown is getting to be a city of size.
We are informed that the appointment of Commissioner for this district was offered to A. Putnam of this city, and he declined it. Dexter R. Wright, of Meriden, is appointed.
Rev. A. C. Denison, pastor of the 1st Congregational church in Portland, has gone to labor for a short time in the army, under the patronage of the N. York Christian Commission. President Cummings will supply his pulpit during his absence.
Saturday was an uncomfortable day on Main street. A high wind raised clouds of dust, and even the loafers found it too intolerable to stand on the street corners.
Some Hartford rowdies came down here and made a display of themselves on Sunday afternoon. Mayor Warner invited them to leave town, or they would be entertained at the public expense. They left.
The new steamer for the Long Island route was successfully launched at East Haddam on Thursday. She will probably commence her trips the middle or the last of June. Capt. George W. Bates will be her commander.
There is a slight rise in the river.
One of the most innocent and healthful luxuries of the season is a glass of foaming root beer, made after the most approved style from roots and herbs which grow in the forest. But most persons can’t go into the forest to get these. The difficulty may be remedied by calling at Collins & Pelton’s store, where the materials can be obtained for an excellent kind of spring beer.
Gentlemen who want to be up to the times and get the best kind of a best coat or any other article of wearing apparel good and cheap will remember Neale’s place of business on the west side of Main street.
We always preferred strawberries to drugs ourselves. But the latter are necessary sometimes; and if anybody is compelled to use them without regard to preferences, they will find just what they want at Foster & Vinal’s Drug store.
A School meeting will be held on Wednesday evening. Important business may come up, and all interested will take notice.
Middletown Police.—The following cases were tried yesterday before Justice Putnam.
Frederick D. Bidwell, for drunkenness. Fined $1, and costs. Couldn’t pay, and was sent to Haddam.
William Mansworth, for assault and battery. Fined $5 and costs, which he paid, and went his way.
Ellen Coleman, for shop lifting. Stole shawl, &c., at Fagan’s. Convicted and fined $7, and costs. Also,
Margaret Barry, for shop lifting. Took dress goods at E. C. Chapman & Co’s. Found guilty, and fined $6, and costs.
Five boys were tried this morning for Sabbath breaking. Reprimanded and dismissed.
A warrant is issued for the arrest of two of the Hartford rowdies who made disturbance on Sunday.
People often prove the value of an individual by imagining the sorrow they would realize in the event of his death. But nobody has done this in regard to F. B. Baldwin, the A No. 1 clothier, of 70 & 72 Bowery, N. York, because that eminent personage is too precious to the community, to render the contemplation of his taking off anything but the most soul-harrowing of agonies. The million who know Baldwin would rather that he should live on to a good old age, and leave a worthy successor behind him (if indeed that is possible), than anticipate the presence of the grim king where he is not wanted.