From The Constitution, Wednesday, December 16, 1863 (volume 27, number 1355)
The Army of the Potomac.
Many are disposed to censure the action of the army of the Potomac during its last campaign in Virginia, and hint that one reason of its failure was owing to the timidity of its commander. It may perhaps be well to ask the question, “did the army of the Potomac fail in its object in the recent advance in Virginia? Some of the Richmond papers admit that Gen. Meade has, by a thorough comprehension of the tactics of Lee, completely thwarted every enterprise undertaken by him. Since he has been in command of the army, Lee has undertaken many of the bold and sudden dashes which invariably, on former occasions terminated successfully, but which Meade has promptly met and turned to the disadvantage of the rebels. Since Gen. Meade has had command of the army they have never scored a better record. They routed the rebel army at Gettysburg, whipped them at Bristow Station, and by a brilliant maneuvre captured two brigades on the north bank of the Rappahannock. They have had long marches and countermarches, but none of them was caused by defeat.
In the recent retrograde movement of the army, there are many reasons assigned. The people elated at the success of the Federal arms at Chattanooga, had high hopes that the rebel army before Richmond would meet the fate of Bragg’s. But our brave boys in Virginia were not destined to win such glory; but, notwithstanding, the recent advance probably accomplished all that was proposed. The position of the armies in the southwest was such that it was desirable by threatening Lee, to prevent him from aiding them in any way. That Gen. Meade accomplished this, and successfully, is not to be doubted; neither has he been led into any rebel trap as has too often been the case with that army, and have added besides the defeat, the loss of several thousand lives. Thus viewing the campaign, it has been a success. If General Meade found that rebel army weakened, he would have risked a battle; but finding them in force, he kept them in anticipation of an attack until Grant was victorious, and then fell back to his old quarters. Justice as well as interest require us to sustain our generals. If let alone, Gen. Meade will yet lead the army of the Potomac to honor and glory.
The President’s Message.
The Message of the President which we present to our readers this week, is worthy a perusal. Matters of vital interest to the country are dealt with in a fair, candid and masterly manner. Mr. Lincoln has, beyond all question, the power of dealing with great subjects in noble simplicity, and the merit or divesting statesmanship of its mystery and truth of its disguise. The document which he now presents to the country, briefly rehearses the events of the year, fully states the condition of our country, our relations with foreign Powers, the progress of the war, and discusses in a fair and open manner the vital principles of the contest. But this is not all. It suggests what the country has long been waiting for, a practical plan for the restoration of the rebellious states to their privileges in the Union.
There are three passages in the Message worthy of special attention. The President asserts that “the crisis which threatened to divide the friends of the Union is past.” Cheering words; that after a long and terrible struggle with traitors in arms, to have the ruler of the nation, who has thus directed our armies, proclaim that the crisis has passed, and be able to say, “I shall not return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of the Proclamation or by any act of Congress.” He then says: “I proclaim full pardon to all who solemnly swear to henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Union of the States thereunder.”
The first is the truth upon which all our hopes are based; the second a declaration that henceforth freedom is the law of the land, and the third a noble appeal to the South, that the war is not upon them, but upon their leaders, and the cruelty of their purpose. The conditions of the President’s offer are most generous, and most effectually does away with the bugbear which the leaders at the South have made good use of during the war—that of subjugation. The conditions now offered are easy to fulfil. Every right which they formerly possessed is restored, and they can assume their former position with honor.
It is a good sign, that the President has not gone back, but has advanced. He stands firm upon his first principles and feels that he is able, by the support of the people to carry them out. It augurs well for the future of our country.
The Navy Report.—The report of the Secretary of the Navy is one of much importance. The general estimate for the whole naval service is one hundred and forty-two millions. Greater accommodations in docks and navy yards are recommended. It speaks of the site on the Delaware as combining superior advantages. [We demur to this, for New London harbor has the preference by a board of naval officers appointed to examine and report on the subject.] The navy numbers 588 vessels and 4443 guns, an increase of 161 vessels and 1175 guns since the last report. The Secretary attributes the failure of the attack upon Charleston to the fact that the harbor obstructions are so difficult to be overcome by the present force of iron clad vessels, but he reiterates his faith in their impregnability and is confident that they will soon be overcome. He says that “to hold out a few weeks, more or less, is of no importance.”
Report of the Secretary of War.—This report is now before the public. It is a clear record of the military operations of the past year, and embodies the report of Gen. Halleck. The organization of colored troops into the war service is treated of from the experience of Adjt. Gen. Thomas; the organization of the Invalid corps, and the operation of enrolment and calling out the national forces are thoughtfully presented, together with a description of the work of the several subordinate military departments, which are of special interest, as showing how far the moral purpose of the nation has entered into the bone and sinew of the war, and kept pace with its triumphs.
The steamer Chesapeake, plying between New York and Portland, Me., was seized by a party of rebels who were on board the vessel in the guise of passengers, while off Cape Cod, on Sunday morning the 6th inst. Capt. Willets was fired at nine times, but not hit, and was finally put in irons. The second engineer was shot dead while attempting to throw hot water on the party. The captain and passengers were put ashore at Partridge Island. The first engineer was taken with them to manage the engines. The vessel was valued at about $160,000. Lieut. Parr, one of Morgan’s men, is second in command. Several fast vessels have been sent by government in pursuit.
The avails of the draft, so far ascertained up to the present time, are 60,000 men, and $12,000,000. The estimate of clothing for the Army for the next fiscal year is $58,000,000. Nine hundred thousand dollars are asked for the benefit of prisoners.
There is in Windham, Vt., a patriotic widow of 73 years, who has 57 grandchildren—30 males, 15 of whom have been in the Union army. One of her 29 great grandchildren has also enlisted. There is not a copperhead in all the four generations. The old lady now keeps herself busy at work for the soldiers.
There was a boiler explosion at the factory of the American Suspender Company in Waterbury, one day last week. Two stories of the building were destroyed. Fortunately no one was in the building at the time; two or three persons who were near by were somewhat injured. The building was insured in eight companies, for $28,000.
John Keehan, a boot and shoe maker in Norwich, eloped recently, with Mrs. Ringrose, a war widow, and a neighbor of his. She left three children behind her. On the morning of the departure of the twain, Mr. Ringrose arrived home from his regiment.
New Britain and Middletown Railroad.—The subscription books for this company will be open to receive subscriptions at the McDonough House, in this city, on Saturday, Dec. 19th. They will be open in New Britain on the 18th. The Capital stock of the company is seventy-five thousand dollars. By reference to the adv. it will be seen that some of the first men of New Britain are interested in the subject. The extension of the Middletown branch has long been needed, and we hope that by next summer to see it accomplished.
Important Law Decision.—Samuel Babcock vs. Henry A. Balcam—This is the case in which the copperhead papers in the state stated last summer, that Mr. Balcam had been mulcted in fine and costs for unlawfully suspending Mr. Babcock’s son from the High School, on account of the son insisting upon wearing a copperhead badge by the order of his father, so to do, against the rule of the school. The case came to the Superior Court by appeal, and was tried to the jury. The pltf. claimed that it was unlawful under any circumstance to suspend the child from school, and much less for the patriotic act of wearing the head of the goddess of liberty, which was stamped into the aforesaid piece of copper. A. Hall Esq., appeared for pltf. The charge of the judge was an admirable exposition of the law, upon the subject, and was replete with common sense. The jury, we understand, were equally balanced politically, who, after being out about five minutes, returned their verdict for deft., thus reversing the decision of the Justice.
The Weather.—Thursday was the coldest day of this winter—the mercury was at 7 degrees at sunrise. The river closed that day. Saturday morning we opened our eyes upon nearly two inches of snow, which quickly disappeared with the rain following. Sunday it rained drenchingly, with a south wind, putting to a severe test the water-proof of church going habits. Monday morning the mercury stood at 34, rainy still. Average temperature of the week at sunrise was 21.
The River closed on Thursday of last week. The Granite State came up on Wednesday and got as far as Rocky Hill, and then returned to New York. The City of Hartford left New York on Wednesday afternoon, but did not come into the river. On Thursday the ice was hard and fast. Owing to the storm on Sunday and Monday, the river is open again.
The Photographic Rooms of W. F. Burrows are attracting general attention. The reason is that they do take good likenesses. And by the way, there is nothing better for a christmas present, than to give your friends a good photographic likeness of your own individual self.
Various Matters.—A gold pencil has been found at McDonough Hall.
H. Woodward, 124 Main st., has a large variety of articles for Christmas.
A. J. Spencer will give a Social Hop at Eagle Hall this (Tuesday) evening.
There was good skating in this vicinity last week. The snow storm on Friday, however, spoilt the calculations of the boys and girls for Saturday’s skating.
High School Exhibition on Thursday evening of this week at McDonough Hall.
Bradley & Treadwell are not to be outdone in the way of Christmas presents. Read their adv. and judge for yourselves. …
Attention is called to the adv. of Collector of Internal Revenues.
At Carroll’s store you can find a fine assortment of Christmas presents. …
D. Barnes at his book store, has a variety of beautiful books, large and small, well adapted to the coming holidays.
At one of the fashionable hotels in New York there boarded last week, a weak and nasty Copperhead—one of the New England and so worst kind—and a chivalric, spirited Major General of the army, minus a leg, and hobbling about on his crutch.—Fired by natural folly and a luxurious dinner, the former insulted the latter, as he was passing through the halls with loud and coarse denunciations of the war, and all who fought on the loyal side in it. The cripple turned and faced the coward, demanding apology and retraction. They were denied. The man of the crutch and soul then asked the name of the Copperhead traducer of his country and her patriots. With natural instinct, a wrong one was given. Other words followed; another insult was added by the copperhead; whereupon the hero of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg ‘shouldered his crutch and showed how fields were won’ by breaking it over the head of the degenerate son of Adam and Amherst. The latter then sneaked off, with at least one new idea in his head; and the next crippled soldier of the army he insults won’t be Dan Sickles. …
An infatuated man took 48 fair damsels to a lecture in Cohoes, N. Y., the other night, on the spur of a prize offered to him who should bring the most. Think of the happiness of taking one dear creature and then multiply it by 48! Is his name Brigham Y.?
A patriotic writer is of the opinion that the ladies of the present day would make good soldiers, because the dress they wear by day they might make a tent of at night.
A slight domestic breeze prevents stagnation. Archdeacon Palsy, on having a case of conjugal harmony commended to him, remarked that though it was ‘verra praiseworthy, it must have been verra cool.’ …
It is said that the President’s son Robert or Bob o Lincoln, as he is called, has made half a million dollars as government contractor.