From The Constitution, Wednesday, June 24, 1863 (volume 26, number 1330)
The number of the rebels who entered Pennsylvania was over estimated. It does not appear that more than three or four thousand at the most crossed the borders into that state, and these were unsupported by infantry. They were under the command of a General Jenkins. The rebels went no further than Chambersburg, which place they left on their retreat on Wednesday, after robbing all the drug stores and setting fire to a warehouse. A much larger force must have entered Maryland. Gen. Milroy reports that he was attacked by 15,000 rebels, who drove his force of 10,000 men from behind strong entrenchments and he succeeded after suffering heavy losses in reaching Harpers Ferry. The enemy made an attempt on Harpers Ferry. But Gen. Tyler made it too hot for them, and they left for some more easy conquest. The accounts of the movements of the enemy in Maryland during the latter part of the week show that large numbers of infantry and cavalry had crossed the river, and were scattered over a considerable section. Their main object appeared to be plunder. There is much uncertainty as to the position and intentions of Gen. Lee. It was believed on Saturday that the main body of Stuart’s cavalry, twelve thousand strong was at Warrenton, and Lee’s army was massed in the Shenandoah Valley somewhere between Front Royal and Winchester. Gen. Hooker moved his army northward with the greatest rapidity, and is believed by his movement to have disconcerted the plans of Gen. Lee.
Affairs are progressing favorably at Vicksburg. Gen. Grant has received large reinforcements, which make it impossible that he should be driven from his position by any force which the enemy can bring against him. He says he can take the city any hour by assault, but he prefers to compel the enemy to surrender by starvation than incur the loss which must attend an assault.
There had been no engagement of Gen. Hooker’s army, except cavalry, with the enemy up to Sunday last. A part of Lee’s army is believed to be around Winchester. Longstreet’s corps is supposed to be in the Shenandoah Valley.
The latest advices from Gen. Grant’s army are to the 16th int. The siege was being pressed with vigor, and nothing new had transpired.
Gen. Grant has issued an order declaring that hereafter, should any soldier, whether white or black, wearing the uniform of a United States soldier, be captured and executed by the enemy, retaliatory measures will be adopted by him, and rebel soldiers in his hands will be treated in like manner.
Details of the battle of Winchester show that the 18th Conn. and the 7th Md. regiments were captured almost entire. The former was over 900 strong, of whom only 33 are all it can muster. Col. Ely is a prisoner. More than 2000 of the Union soldiers have returned and joined Milroy’s command. Whether the 18th is among those who have escaped is not stated.
It is reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer that the rebels are advancing on Gettysburg, Pa., with 40,000 men and 18 pieces of artillery.
Heavy cannonading commenced early Sunday morning in the direction of Aldie, and continued with intervals through the day. It is known that Gen. Pleasanton attacked the enemy near Aldie, and it is supposed that he has succeeded in routing Gen. Stuart’s command.
The Fight at Milliken’s Bend.—A correspondent of the Missouri Democrat writes :
“It must, from all accounts, have been one of the most horrible combats of the whole war. It appears that the rebel force numbered about 6,000. The negroes were driven back until they were almost forced into the river, when they rallied and charged bayonets upon the rebels, often pinning them to the earth, and, when their bayonets were broken, clubbing their guns and beating out the brains of the rebels. The latter came on with a yell of ‘No quarter.’”
The white officers of the two negro regiments were fearfully decimated, but the negroes took terrible revenge in the blood of rebel officers. One rebel colonel was killed and a large number of line officers.
The Position of the Rebel Army.—The Washington correspondent of the Commercial Advertiser writing on Friday, says :
“It seems to be fully confirmed that Lee is in both the Shenandoah and Loudon valleys, and holding the Gaps connecting the two. As yet he has made no demonstration of any kind, and it is impossible to say whether he intends to move up the valley and carry out his invasion plans, of to attempt to come down to the ferries on the upper Potomac and cross into Maryland. It looks now as though he intended neither, and at the same time as though he feared to attack Hooker.
“The army correspondents who are generally impressed correctly with the imminence of battle are in the saddle to-day and off for the front, which has fortunately been changed since the publication in the Philadelphia papers giving the location of our forces. The whole depends probably whether General Lee will make any attack. Many think that his plans have been so upset that he will abandon for the present either any further invasion or an attack.
“Washington is very quiet, the long lines of artillery going through to-day, giving rise to but a single rumor.”
The following was received Saturday afternoon :
A detachment of the rebel Gen. Jenkins’ force of mounted infantry, entered McConnellsburg at 4 o’clock Friday morning.
The rebels opened all the stores, helping themselves to boots, shoes, hats, provisions, and everything else they could possibly carry away. The town was so completely taken by surprise that the citizens were unable to hurry their horses to places of safety. The rebels completely gutted the telegraph office, carrying away with them the instrument and all the measures. After they had collected all their plunder and were ready to evacuate the place, the colonel commanding the rebels made known to the citizens that he was ready to listen to any claims for the recovery of horses, cattle, provisions, &c. Many applied for the return of property, but for the most part were unsuccessful till a number of ladies came forward and interceded with the rebels, when a portion of the lost property was restored. The rebels left in the direction of Hancock.
A Baltimore dispatch of Saturday says that the rebels that went into Pennsylvania are returning with a large number of horses, and a few mules. Also a large number of negroes who they alleged had run away from their masters in Virginia and Washington county Maryland. Those belonging about Hagerstown, were being returned to their rebel owners, and those said to be from Virginia were sent back under guard. Horses and other property taken from citizens of Maryland have been returned to them, and every effort has been made to make their stealing as little offensive as possible to “My Maryland.” The hope of obtaining recruits in Maryland is no doubt the secret of this conciliatory policy.
All was quiet at Frederick and at Harper’s Ferry on Friday.
The benefit of having a well organized state militia, which can be instantly called into service has been well illustrated within the past two weeks. Pennsylvania was suddenly invaded by the enemy, and the only protection which the capital of that state and even Philadelphia itself could have was from the militia of Pennsylvania and the neighboring states. A call was made upon New York which within two days despatched several thousands of troops to the aid of her sister state. A message was sent to Governor Buckingham from the Secretary of War to know how many militia men he could furnish on an emergency. Our whole militia force at the present time numbers about 1000 men, besides 500 Governor’s Guards. This is all the available force in the state. It would require considerable time to prepare any additional troops for service.
We hope the Legislature now in session will attend to this subject. It is likely to be of considerable importance, and there should be no delay in devising and putting in force some plan for providing a well organized militia for this state.
The good qualities of colored soldiers in battle have been proved beyond question. The action at Port Hudson on the 7th ult., has fully established the fact that they are excellent soldiers. Hitherto the question has been an open one, and the most ardent friends of the new movement have felt some hesitation and doubt as to the success of the plan. But all doubt is now removed. The measure is no longer an experiment. It is well settled and established by the official report of Gen. Banks himself, that black men can and do fight admirably. The test to which they were subjected was a severe one. They were called upon to march against strong entrenchments in the face of a terrible storm of iron and lead. They did not hesitate, but went to their work with the bravery and steadiness of old soldiers. The following is a part of Gen. Banks’ report :
They answered every expectation. Their conduct was heroic. No troops could be more determined or more daring. They made during the day three charges upon the batteries of the enemy, suffering very heavy losses and holding their position at nightfall with the other troops on the right of our line. The highest commendation is bestowed upon them by all the officers in command on the right. Whatever doubt may have existed heretofore as to the efficiency of organizations of this character, the history of this day proves conclusively to those who are in a condition to observe the conduct of these regiments that the government will find in this class of troops effective supporters and defenders. The severe test to which they were subjected and the determined manner in which they encountered the enemy, leave upon my mind no doubt of their ultimate success. They require only good officers, commands of limited numbers, and careful discipline, to make them excellent soldiers.
Since the invasion of northern soil by the rebels, the peace men have not only ceased their usual canting cry for peace, but have shown some disposition towards fighting the common enemy. Why is this? Why are they not as willing to make peace with the rebels when they are in Pennsylvania as when they are in Virginia? Does not the latter state belong to the Union as well as the former? Is it not as necessary to the country that the rebellion should be put down in one state as another? Or are these peace men afraid for their own homes, or that they shall suffer in their own persons or property? It looks as if they cared very little for the Union and very much for themselves.
Western Virginia.—On Friday last Western Virginia became one of the States of the Union. On Saturday, the inauguration ceremonies took place at Wheeling, and the State officers assumed their respective positions.
GENERAL M’CLELLAN arrived in town yesterday. He is stopping at Mr. Joseph W. Alsop’s. Last evening a number went out and serenaded him. The General appeared and made a short speech.
Death of Sergeant Gaston.—We were pained to learn yesterday of the death of Sergeant S. M. Gaston, of the 20th C. V., which occurred in this town, Newfield Society, on Sunday. He died suddenly from a severe bilious attack, after a sickness of but two or three days. He was wounded in the hand at the battle of Chancellorsville, had been home but a short time, and was about to enter the hospital at New Haven. He belonged in this town where his family have resided. Sergeant Gaston was a man of more than usual intelligence, of genial and pleasant manners, and had many friends.
Police Court.—Before Justice Clark.—Andrew German was brought up on a charge of assault and battery on Michael Higgins. He was found guilty of the charge, and fined $3.00 and costs, amounting to $10.62. He paid all charges and was released.
Before Justice Putnam.—Catherine Wall was arraigned on a charge of drunkenness. It was a bad case, and Catherine was fined $7.00 and costs, which she did not pay. She was, therefore, accommodated with an apartment in the county institution at Haddam profanely called a “jug.”
Various Matters.—Strawberry festivals prevail about this time. The fruit is plenty and delicious, and when partaken of in good company and with good music, it is believed to be superlatively excellent. The ladies of the Baptist church in this city had a festival last (Monday) evening. The ladies of Cromwell have on one Tuesday evening. On Wednesday afternoon and evening “several little girls” will have one at Mrs. Casey’s. The climax of the festivals will be reached on Thursday evening, when the ladies of the Soldiers Aid Society will entertain the public with strawberries at McDonough Hall.
It was very dark on Sunday night when evening services were over. Several people got lost, and went home the wrong way. The sidewalks were crooked, and trees stood in the middle of the sidewalks; and the streets and the trees and the sidewalks and the people seemed to be all mixed up together. It was a singular phenomenon, but is generally thought to be owing to the peculiar condition of several lamp-posts in the neighborhood.
Sheriff Snow, of Middlesex County, has appointed Curtis Bacon of Middletown one of his deputies. Mr. Bacon was U. S. Marshal for Connecticut under the Buchanan Administration. He is a gentleman of kind heart and remarkable suavity of manner.—The rascals of Middlesex County will find it a pleasure to be arrested by him. — New Haven Jour.
Lost.—A pocket book containing sixty-four dollars in money, and a check for fifty-four dollars was lost between here and Cromwell last week Tuesday by Mr. Justus Stocking of Cromwell. It will be a great deal better for the finder to return the pocket book to its owner than to try to keep it.
The Weather.—Average temperature for the week at 6 A. M. has been 51 degrees. There has been very little rain, although we have had much cloudy weather. The ground is becoming quite dry, and farmers are prophesying short crops unless we have a soaking rain soon. This morning the mercury stood at 55 degrees, yesterday at 53. Thursday was the coolest morning, when the mercury stood at 47 degrees.
Miss Georgiana Letitia McDavish, a Toronto heiress, having eloped from a fancy dress ball in that city with a married British captain, has been making some stir in Rochester, N. Y., whither she was hunted by the police detective. The erring girl seems the least discomposed of any one about the affair. The captain has been arrested.
The family of Henry Hotchkiss of New Haven, were out riding Tuesday, when the horses took fright and ran. Two ladies were thrown out and injured.
John J. Crittenden’s recent war speech has given great offence to the rebels. The Mobile Register says “it makes us heart-sick to write the name of this degenerate Kentuckian.”
At a trial recently the jury returned the following verdict : “Guilty, with some little doubt as to whether he is the man.”