From The Constitution, Wednesday, November 11, 1863 (volume 26, number 1350)
The long expected advance of the Army of the Potomac to offer battle to Gen. Lee, after delays respecting its supplies, was finally made on Saturday, and with gratifying success. The commands of Maj.-Gens. Sedgwick and French, at 2 o’clock on that day, had pressed forward to the banks of the Rappahannock, the first to the railroad crossing, and the other to Kelly’s Ford, driving the enemy before them, carrying the redoubts on this side of the river, capturing nearly 2,000 prisoners and a battery of seven guns. The enemy attempted to throw an entire division across the river at Kelly’s Ford, but the movement was checked by Gen. French, who by a well-directed artillery fire shattered the rebel ranks and caused them to retreat in utter confusion. Our men fought splendidly, making most impetuous and gallant charges, and our total loss will not exceed 400 in killed and wounded. At the latest advices our forces were across the Rappahannock.
Very interesting items of news from Gen. Grant’s department have come to hand through Southern sources. An Atlanta Georgia dispatch, dated last Wednesday says, that during the preceding 48 hours, the Yankees had gained such important advantages, which unless at once counteracted, would put beyond question Gen. Grant’s ability to subsist his entire army at Chattanooga. Our forces maintain possession of Raccoon Valley, having been heavily reinforced, and our cavalry were making most annoying and disastrous raids in Madison and Huntsville Counties.
The report of the surrender of Fort Sumter, brought to Philadelphia by the Salvor on Saturday last, is not confirmed. Our correspondence informs us that the bombardment was in progress by both the land and naval forces and was marked with great vigor and effectiveness. Before our destructive fire the walls of the fort were disappearing fast, and it was scarcely probable that the twenty-five men who are said to form the day garrison of the ruin, would find the slightest shelter after a few more days’ hammering. The enemy’s colored had been shot away seven times within eight days, and no one occasion, at least, the flag could not have been replaced without loss of life.
By the arrival of the steamship Daniel Webster, from New Orleans, we learn of the departure from that port, on the 27th ult., of the expedition which had been for many weeks in course of preparation under Maj. Gen. Dana’s direction. The expedition, composed of a considerable body of troops and 17 steam transports, convoyed by three gunboats, left the Southwest Pass on the 27th ult. Maj. Gen. Banks commanded in person. The destination of the fleet was not made public, and let us hope that the first knowledge we have will come under the announcement that it has successfully done its work. If so we can well afford to be incurious.
Mr. Seward has authorized the announcement that the six rams building at Nantes and Bordeaux, France, for the rebels, will not be permitted to leave port. The French Government takes this course in response to a remonstrance of Minister Dayton.
Charleston.—During the past two weeks the guns of the Union forces have been trained upon Fort Sumter, and are slowly but surely demolishing it. The rebel flag has been shot away seven times. From appearances, it is evident that our military and naval forces have commenced the work in earnest, and sooner or later, Charleston must come in possession of the Yankees.
Chattanooga.—The possession of Lookout Mountain strengthens our position at Chattanooga. From this mountain, the rebel artillery commanded the town, and threatened to destroy the pontoon bridges over the Tennessee. Thus far we have maintained and strengthened our position. The rebels, having failed in a direct assault, are now trying the flanking movement. Their whole strength and energy is directed to stop our further progress in that direction. Jeff Davis has gone there and given the matter his personal attention. In his speeches he has tried to impress upon his subjects the importance of holding the country and driving the Union forces from it. Every soldier in the confederacy, that can be spared from other points, has been sent there. If they fail, they well know it will be good evidence against them of their ability to uphold their cause. Gen. Grant has their case in hand, and judging from his past career, we should say that the chances are against them.
Re-Enlistment of Troops.—There is a movement in the Army of the Potomac, among the soldiers, to re-enlist in companies and regiments “for the war.” The “Excelsior Brigade,” of New York, which represents six regiments, offers to re-enlist for an additional term of three years, provided they are allowed to return home for sixty days to recruit. This offer besides being unobjectionable, is an admirable method to recruit and sustain an army. An old soldier is worth three raw recruits. Regiments who have done honorable service, desire to retain their old organization, sustain their old flag, and fight the enemy until the war is successfully terminated. Regiments thus re-enlisting and coming home to recruit, would, we think, give an impetus to volunteering, and their ranks would soon be full. The movement is a good one, and the Government will probably encourage it.
Those Iron Clads.—It is amusing to see with what nonchalance the southern journals surrender the hope of receiving an iron-clad fleet from England. With all their sputterings and declarations that “the seizure of the rams is the most unfriendly act ever done towards the south by England,” and that “their seizure is an act of war which the south is now unable to repel,” they now inform their readers, that it is doubtful whether the importance of such a fleet to the rebel cause has not been overrated, and argues that our Monitors would be superior to any which could be brought across the ocean.
The Market.—On Saturday last, money was in demand in New York at 7 per cent. Gold, 146 1/2. Stocks dull. Business in Breadstuffs less animated. Flour and Wheat declined a little.
The Babies of the Poor.—A well-to-do middle-class house is hardly complete without a filter, a Kent’s knife-cleaner, a moderator lamp, and a baby. All these articles are to be found in their several places, and minister in their several degrees to the felicity and solace of those who possess them. But how about the hovel where a baby is born and there is nothing but a baker’s old jacket to wrap it in? How about the babies of shame that are packed up in hampers, strangled in secret places, flung into dustbins, deserted on doorsteps? Who writes sonnets on the workhouse babies, or mourns over their fate when they are burnt to death by twenties? When poverty, and nakedness, and hunger sit grinning on a poor man’s hearth, is the sick baby a household joy or a household misery? Oh, my brethren (since homilies are the fashion), how we brag, and boast and bemuse ourselves about our own babies, and how little we reck about what becomes of other people’s babies! How the pious and decorous matron drives from her door the wretched nursemaid who has a base-born infant! If this baby-worship were sincere and not a congested kind of personal vanity, often grotesque enough, and of which the still more ludicrous side was to be seen in abominable American baby-shows, should we not feel inclined to devise some measures to prevent babies being murdered or starved, to force profligate men to make provision for their by-blows? What is the much-vaunted baby in the manufacturing districts, but a thing to be drugged with ‘cordials’ and ‘elixers,’ or to be ‘overlaid?’ Ask the parish undertaker what he knows about the dark side of babyhood. Ask the parish doctor, ask Dr. Lankester, the coroner. We go on simpering forth fiddle-de-dee about our own babies, and pass indifferent through a whole Golgotha of dead babies’ bones. I am as poor, Heaven knows, as Job, and have had a hard struggle to make both ends meet; yet I would cheerfully work my fingers to the bone, and be my hundred pounds to anyone else’s hundred, to establish were it the tiniest nucleus of a real foundling hospital in lieu of that sham place in Guilford street where the ‘mother’ is to ‘present herself before the committee’ before the foundling can be admitted. I declare that jobbed and perverted charity is enough to make the bones of Thomas Coram turn in their grave.—Breakfast in Bed, by G. W. Sala.
Military,–The Conn. 1st Artillery, Col. Abbott, is now with Gen. Meade, near the front. Their eight 64 pounder siege guns are called by the boys, “The Eight Sisters.”
The state flag of the Conn. 14th has been brought to Hartford, and left at Adj.-General’s office. It is torn to tatters by long service, riddled by the shot and stained by the smoke of many battles. It is an honorable relic of a good fighting regiment.
Returned letters from New Orleans for members of the 23d and 24th regiments, may be found at the office of the Adjutant General, No. 275 Main street, Hartford.
The Nutmeg State.—Connecticut is well represented at the great Fair in Chicago, in aid of the Sanitary Commission. The Chicago Tribune says, in its report of Monday’s proceedings:
“The Connecticut department has been the great center of attraction to-day. The Tyler family, one of whose two generals is remembered in Chicago as the commander of Camp Douglas, have been greatly instrumental in perfecting this department. A niece of General Tyler has charge of it, assisted by a number of Connecticut ladies. Among the beautiful things in their booth we notice the following: Three elegant crochet shawls with a Roman border, a new device, reserved for the Boston Fair, one specimen of which is given to us by especial favor. One elegant bead mat, worth $20. Four elegant sofa pillows of unique pattern. One doll in white satin, worth $25. One exquisite toilet cushion of white satin, $10. Several muchoir cases of white satin elegantly embroidered; contributed by a Hartford lady. Two boxes paintings, including a view of Putnam’s Wolf Den, taken expressly for this fair. One Neapolitian shell head-dress, worth $25. A Connecticut old ladies’ quilting party, engaged in making a comforter ‘for the boys’—it speaks for itself.”
The Weather last week was warmer in the average than the preceding week. There were shorter ranges of temperature indicated upon the thermometer. Friday was the warmest day, the mercury standing at forty seven degrees at sunrise; towards evening a sweeping wind storm arose suddenly changing the air. Saturday and Monday were the coldest mornings, at 30 degrees. There was much cloudy and showery weather with little rain. Average temperature for the week at sunrise was 36 degrees.
At Woodbridge, recently, a thrifty old bachelor and wealthy widow were married, and the old men, young men and boys, to the number of a hundred, turned out to give the wedded pair a calithumpian serenade. The band consisted of fife and drum, double barreled gun, tin kettles and pans, horse fiddles, rattle boxes, bells, fish horns, and a great variety of other instruments with more sound than melody. The party were invited in and handsomely wined.
An amusing thing occurred in the 24th Ohio.
A soldier in passing the lower part of the encampment, saw two others from his company making a rude coffin. He inquired who it was for.
‘John Bunce,’ said the other.
‘Why,’ replied he, ‘John is not dead yet. It is really too bad to make a man’s coffin when you don’t know whether he is to die or not.’
‘Don’t trouble yourself,’ replied the other, ‘Dr. Coe told us to make the coffin, I guess he knows what he gave him.’