From The Constitution, Wednesday, January 6, 1864 (volume 27, number 1358)

War News.

By the arrival of the steamship Evening Starr, from New Orleans, we have advices to the 27th. There was nothing of special importance transpiring in the Department of the Gulf. Our forces in Texas were making very encouraging progress, and meeting with very little resistance. Gen. Magruder, commanding the rebel forces, had issued a proclamation calling out everybody for the defence of the State, avowing that the defence of Western Texas “would not be given up, as reported;” and San Antonio and Austin must be fortified, and that the invaders “should be driven back to their ships.” The Free State Convention in New Orleans had concluded its labors and appointed a full delegation to the National Convention in Louisville. The full delegations from the colored societies were admitted. There was no news in the city. General gayety prevailed through the holidays, and social reunions were numerous and largely attended.

There is no further evidence that the rebels intend any serious demonstration in the vicinity of Winchester, as has been lately feared. The weather there has been exceedingly cold, with sleighing.

Gen. Stoneman, chief of the Cavalry Bureau, has resigned. The action of the Secretary of War in relieving Col. Sawtelle, his Quartermaster, is assigned as the reason for this step. The appointment of Rosecrans to the Department of the Missouri is suspended until the action of the Senate on the nomination of Schofield. If the latter is not confirmed, the former will be appointed. It is credibly stated that Gen. Frank Blair has resigned his seat in Congress. Gen. Burnside has been ordered to report to Washington.

Advices from Folly Island, of the 30th, per Arago, state our guns at Cumming’s Point opened on Charleston Christmas morning, lasting from one to three o’clock. Several fires were kindled, which burnt a considerable period. The rebel batteries replied to our fire, but without damage. The gunboat Marblehead, in Stono Inlet, was fired into and two men killed and five wounded. Assisted by the Pawnee, she soon compelled the rebels to leave their works. Gen. Goreon, with a detachment of troops, landed later in the day and took possession of the works. The guns were subsequently brought off by Commander Balch, of the Pawnee. They are two eight-inch seacoast howitzers. The rebels had one killed and five wounded.

The North Confident.

The confidence which the people of the north have felt throughout the present struggle in the ultimate success of their cause, has over-reached every thing else. No matter what reverses or mishaps have fallen upon them, they have ever been sustained by the feeling that their cause was just; that they were not the aggressors, and that the principles which are to be sustained in the present struggle, founded upon truth and justice, must triumph in the end. But why is it that the north has been so confident? Read the speech of Alexander H. Stevens, delivered in 1861. He therein plainly says that the south never asked for any thing but that they received it. That although being a minority, they had always held the power, and would continue to hold it if they remained in the Union. He urged them to pause and consider the step they were about to take. But his words were given to the winds, and the south urged on by traitors at the north, plunged into secession, bent upon founding a republic, the cornerstone of which should be human slavery. The north awoke as from a dream. We began to realize that the principles upon which this government and our free institutions are established were in jeopardy. We went into the fight confident that we should succeed. We are right, and this feeling sustained us throughout the contest. The south has used every effort in her power to maintain her ground, yet she is going backward, and to-day there is hardly a southern state in which the old flag does not proudly float.

The old year with its scenes of war and desolation has passed away, and we enter upon a new year confident that our cause shall be prospered. “The Union is to be maintained.” With the belief that those are “helped who help themselves,” we put our shoulder to the wheel and never falter, with the hope that before the close of the year the battle will be won and the victory ours.

Mexico.

It is said that the new rebel envoy to France, is understood to be commissioned to notify the French government of the recognition by the rebels of the Empire of Mexico. It is expected that this, together with the logic of the rebel envoy, will bring about the recognition of the Southern Confederacy by Napoleon. The French forces have not yet thoroughly invested Mexico, and their operations are not likely to prove very successful. We should say that it was rather early to be tickling one another with straws.

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The Schleswig Holstein Question.—It is a noticeable fact that the great European Powers at all connected with the Germany question, are borrowing money to meet the expenses of a possible war. In Prussia a loan of twelve million thalers will be contracted for on this account. In Austria the sum of fifteen million thalers will be raised for the same purpose. Sweden, Bavaria, Saxony and Hanover are also in the money market. Austria is nearly alone in its desire that the relation of Schleswig Holstein to the rest of Denmark shall not be changed. England will certainly act in unison with Austria on this occasion. The great error was committed in 1852, by the contracting sovereigns, who made the treaty regulating the succession in Denmark, going out of the regular line of descent, by passing over the Duke of Augustenberg, and adopting, as heir apparent, Christian IX, a cadet of a younger line.

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The 61st Ohio regiment, now at Chattanooga, have re-enlisted unanimously. That is the banner regiment so far.

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The Draft Postponed.—The Secretary of War has extended the term for volunteering until the 15th of January. Gov. Buckingham has also extended the payment of the State bounty to the same time. Ten days, therefore, remain, in which volunteers can obtain the large bounties. It is not probable that the draft will be again postponed. So rush on the column, and fill up the quota of this town.

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Recruiting.—Four volunteers were passed at the Provost Marshal office in New Haven last week, to apply on the quota of this town. Three from the town of Haddam were also passed.

Camp 14th U. S. Infantry,

Dec. 20th, 1863.

Mr. Editor—Thinking a letter from a former denizen of the quiet old city of Middletown will not be unacceptable, I take the liberty of addressing you. Middletown, though largely represented in the volunteer regiments from Conn., is also represented in the regiment of which I have the honor to be a member. Their deeds and achievements in the history of this rebellion, though not recorded in the state journals—from the fact of their being regulars and not representing their native state as volunteers—are none the less worthy of praise and deserve an honorable mention, as everywhere they have met those in arms against their government, have they borne themselves with credit and honor to the state from which they hailed. Yesterday, one of those sad but just occurrences of war took place. Private Thomas McMahon of the 11th Infantry, having been found guilty of the charge of desertion, and sentenced to suffer the extreme penalty of the law, was shot in the presence of the 2d division, 5th corps. Three sides of a hollow square were formed, and to a dead march played by the 11th Infantry Band, the prisoner was marched around the inside, that all might see him. The procession was headed by an officer of the Provost Guard, followed by a corporal and ten men with loaded muskets—those selected to perform the execution—then came the coffin borne upon the shoulders of four men, closely followed by the prisoner and chaplain, who was endeavoring to administer spiritual consolation to the poor benighted soul that was soon to leave its prison of clay, last was the Provost Guard. Some minutes elapsed ere the procession reached its journey’s end. During the time it occupied in moving, a deathlike silence prevailed, and the thousands that witnessed it were more like statues than beings endowed with life. The impression that it made was a lasting one. A grave had been previously dug, and in front of that the prisoner’s coffin was placed. On bended knees he listened to selections from the Bible, read by the chaplain, then he seated himself upon the coffin. The chaplain retired. The signal was given, a roll of musketry heard, and the prisoner lay upon the ground a bleeding corpse. During the solemn performance that preceded the execution, the prisoner bore himself in a very remarkable manner. As straight as if on parade, with a firm step and defiant air, he evinced no emotion, and other than the continual movement of his manacled wrists, could any sign of agitation be detected. Next week there are others to be executed and the summary manner with which desertion is now treated, it is hoped will cause men to think twice before committing an act in which they cannot be successful. It is supposed that we are at last in winter quarters, but our suppositions having been so many times proved false, we will not be surprised, if early some morning the dreaded General call should disturb our slumbers, which distinctly says, “Don’t you hear the General calling, pack your things and come away.” The 14th is stationed about one mile from Bealton Station. The 14th Conn. is stationed at Stevensburg, two miles from Brandy Station, and eight or ten miles from us, so that we have no opportunities to see our friends in that regiment, unless indeed, we are fortunate enough to obtain leave from our commanding officer, and a pass from the Provost Marshal. Everything is quiet, except now and then a few audacious guerrillas make raids upon supply trains, but generally accomplish nothing. Furloughs are being granted to such men as have distinguished themselves for careful attention to duty, and their soldier-like conduct, so that this winter many family circles will have the happiness of admitting for a time, some dear absent one. The bugle has just sounded the Drill call, its voice being imperative. I must obey, therefore for the present, close.    W. J. B.

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Washington Items. … On Friday night the Susquehanna froze up so tightly that the railroad ferry boat, with three hundred passengers on board, was locked up in the middle of the river, immovably tight. From that day to Sunday not a mail has arrived in Washington; not a traveler has come to one of the hotels. Senators and Congressmen in large numbers were on the boat, in houses near the ferry, or returned to Philadelphia.

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There has been a great excitement for several days in the towns along the eastern boundary of Maine, owing to a rumor that a gang of rebel agents and “roughs” at St. John’s, were intending to make a raid across the frontier, and plunder banks, stores and houses. Home guards were armed, the streets of Eastport were patrolled, and all the roads leading from New Brunswick were guarded.

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The Hartford Daily Courant appears on an enlarged sheet, a new head, and otherwise improved. It is one of the best and ablest journals in the state. Success ever attend it.

Local News.

Post Office Robbery.—The Post Office in this city was entered last Monday night, and robbed. Every letter was opened—all the checks payable to bearer, or cash was taken and the letters burnt. Twenty-five cents in silver was left in the money drawer—all the cash that was left. The burglars entered the building on the west side by cutting a large hole in the door, shoving off a stout cross-bar and then unlocking the door. Measures have been taken for the detection of the robbers.

Deaths in the City of Middletown during the year 1863.

Under one year

18

From 1 to 5 years, 27
“  5  “  10  “ 13
“  10  “  20  “ 16
“  20  “  30  “ 13
“  30  “  40  “ 9
“  40  “  50  “ 7
“  50  “  60  “ 3
“  60  “  70  “ 13
“  70  “  80  “ 12
“  80  “  90  “ 2
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Total 133
Still born, 2

J. B. Southmayd, Sexton.

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Mr. Eben Wilcox, of Cromwell, was badly injured by a fall on the ice, recently. He is an active business man.

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Mr. Truman Ward of Newfields, was considerably injured about the face, a few days since, by falling from his doorstep, in stepping upon ice.

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Drowned.—Wm. Waters, an Englishman, in crossing the river from this city to Portland last week on Monday, walked into a glade and was drowned. He was forty years of age, and was employed in the quarries.

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The Weather is getting to the heart of winter. There was little clear sunshine in last week, and but one stormy day. The ground has a thick crust of ice upon it with a little snow, and it is good sleighing. Saturday was a clear windy day—at 7 1/2 a. m. the mercury stood at 1 degree below zero. Average temperature of the week at sunrise was 17 degrees.

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Two events for wounded soldiers