Tag Archives: Civil War
NewOrleans1862

Reports from New Orleans (April 28, 1862)

(The Charleston Mercury) MOBILE, April 26, 1862  – A dispatch, just received from Jackson, Mississippi, says: ‘Thirteen of the enemy gunboats have anchored in the river opposite the city of New Orleans . A proposition made by the Confederates to evacuate the place is now pending. Various exciting rumors are afloat. The foregoing, however, is reliable. As telegraphic communication with New Orleans is closed, the above information must have been brought to Jackson by railroad.

Part I of our Civil War collection, A Newspaper Perspective, contains articles gleaned from over 2,500 issues of The New York Herald, The Charleston Mercury and the Richmond Enquirer, published between November 1, 1860 and April 15, 1865.
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The Yankee Prisoners at Andersonville (1864)

This item appeared in the August 26, 1864 issue of The Charleston Mercury. This newspaper is part of our Civil War Collection, Part I: A Newspaper Perspective. A Newspaper Perspective contains major articles gleaned from over 2,500 issues of The New York Herald, The Charleston Mercury and the Richmond Enquirer, published between November 1, 1860 and April 15, 1865.

A correspondent of the Atlanta Confederacy says:

Andersonville was an interesting and novel spectacle to me. The Yankee prisoners within the stockade, about 30,000 in number, when closely viewed, resemble more in their motions a hive of bees seen through a glass opening that anything else I can think of. The area of the stockade is being rapidly increased by General Winder, who is evidently desirous of doing all in his power to make them comfortable.

Detailed plan of Andersonville Prison Camp, showing Sweetwater Lick to the north, and the Southwestern & Enfaula Railroad to the east. Shows the main forts, stockade and cemetery by Robert Knox Sneden (1832-1918).

Detailed plan of Andersonville Prison Camp, showing Sweetwater Lick to the north, and the Southwestern & Enfaula Railroad to the east. Shows the main forts, stockade and cemetery by Robert Knox Sneden (1832-1918).

They have thousands of little huts and tents, variously constructed, which seem to protect them from the scorching rays of the sun and the inclemency of the weather generally. Gen. W. informed me that very soon the lumber would be procurable to put up temporary shanties for their comfort.

A fine but small stream of water runs through the stockade, supplying them with water for bathing and other purposes. I saw hundreds of them bathing in this stream at once. Others, not engaged in bathing, were walking about among their fellows, each, in the language of the famous ballad of Young Tamerlane, ‘mother naked man.’ I learn that many of them have bartered away nearly all their clothing for tobacco. On the whole, their condition, bad as it is, and bad as it deserves to be, seemed better than could have been expected.

In spite, however, of every effort to treat them with humanity, their mortality is great, averaging about one hundred per day. About 2000 are in hospital. Over 36,000 have been received since the establishment of Andersonville as a military prison.

The prisoners are said to be very docile, but greatly exasperated at the Royal Ape (President Lincoln) for not exchanging them. They were greatly elated last evening at finding a paragraph in one of our newspapers stating that a general exchange of prisoners would soon be resumed.

The defences of Andersonville are admirably planned by the skillful veteran, General Winder. Formidable batteries of artillery bear directly on the prisoners, in the event of an emeute; and strong works, with artillery, defend the place against hostilities from without. A strong force of infantry is there also. Raiders would find themselves woefully mistaken if they were to attempt the liberation of the prisoners.’

Part I of our Civil War collection, A Newspaper Perspective, contains articles gleaned from over 2,500 issues of The New York Herald, The Charleston Mercury and the Richmond Enquirer, published between November 1, 1860 and April 15, 1865.

To Arms

Men of Color, to Arms! (1863)

(Douglass’ Monthly – March, 1863) When first the rebel cannon shattered the walls of Sumter, and drove away its starving garrison, I predicted that the war, then and there inaugurated would not be fought but entirely by white men. Every month’s experience during these two dreary years, has confirmed that opinion. A war undertaken and brazenly carried on for the perpetual enslavement of colored men, calls logically and loudly upon colored men to help to suppress it. Only a moderate share of sagacity was needed to see that the arm of the slave was the best defence against the arm of the slaveholder. Hence with every reverse to the National arms, with every exulting shout of victory raised by the slaveholding rebels, I have implored the imperrilled nation to unchain against her foes her powerful black hand. Slowly and reluctantly that appeal is beginning to be heeded. Stop not now to complain that it was not heeded sooner. It may, or it may not have been best that it should not. This is not the time to discuss that question. Leave it to the future. When the war is over, the country is saved, peace is established, and the black man’s rights are secured, as they will be, history with an impartial hand, will dispose of that and sundry other questions. Action! action! not criticism, is the plain duty of this hour. Words are now useful only as they stimulate to blows. The office of speech now is only to point out when, here and how, to strike to the best advantage.

Who would be free themselves must strike the blow. Better even to die free, than to live slaves.

There is no time for delay. The tide is at its flood that leads on to fortune. From East to West, from North to South, the sky is written all over “NOW OR NEVER.” Liberty won by white men would lose half its lustre. Who would be free themselves must strike the blow. Better even to die free, than to live slaves. This is the sentiment of every brave colored man amongst us. There are weak and cowardly men in all nations. We have them amongst us. They tell you that this is the “white man’s war”;— that you will be no “better off after, than before the war”; that the getting of you into the army is to “sacrifice you on the first opportunity.” Believe them not—cowards themselves, they do not wish to have their cowardice shamed by your brave example. Leave them to their timidity, or to whatever motive may hold them back.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.
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Confederate Conscription Exemptions in April 1862

The first general American military draft was enacted by the Confederate government on April 16, 1862, more than a year before the federal government did the same. The Confederacy took this step because it had to; its territory was being assailed on every front by overwhelming numbers, and the defending armies needed men to fill the ranks.

The compulsory-service law was very unpopular in the South because it was viewed as a usurpation of the rights of individuals by the central government, one of the reasons the South went to war in the first place.

Under the Conscription Act, all healthy white men between the ages of 18 and 35 were liable for a three-year term of service. The act also extended the terms of enlistment for all one-year soldiers to three years.

These are the original exemptions included in that first conscription law.  Additional exemptions were added later.

Part I of our Civil War collection, A Newspaper Perspective, contains articles gleaned from over 2,500 issues of The New York Herald, The Charleston Mercury and the Richmond Enquirer, published between November 1, 1860 and April 15, 1865.

Exemptions Under the Conscription Law of Congress

The following exemption bill was passed by Congress, and signed by the President just before the adjournment:

A bill to be entitled ‘An act to exempt certain persons from enrollment for service in the armies of the Confederate States:

SECTION 1. The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That all persons who shall be held to be unfit for military service under the rules to be prescribed by the Secretary of War…

  • all in the service or employ of the Confederate States
  • all judicial and executive officers of Confederate or State Governments
  • the members of both Houses of Congress, and of the Legislatures of the several States and their respective officers
  • all clerks of the officers of the State and Confederate Governments allowed by law
  • all engaged in carrying the mails
  • all ferrymen on post routes
  • all pilots and persons engaged in the marine service, and in actual service on river and railroad routes of transportation
  • telegraphic operatives and ministers of religion in the regular discharge of ministerial duties
  • all engaged in working iron mines, furnaces and foundries
  • all journeymen printers actually employed in printing newspapers
  • all presidents and professors of colleges and academies, and all teachers having as many as twenty scholars
  • superintendents of the public hospitals, lunatic asylums, and the regular nurses and attendants therein, and the teachers employed in the institutions for the deaf and dumb and blind
  • in each apothecary store now established one apothecary in good standing, who is a practical druggist
  • superintendents and operatives in wool and other factories, who may be exempted by the Secretary of War, shall be, and are hereby, exempted from military service in the armies of the Confederate States.

Collection: The Civil War – Part I: A Newspaper Perspective
Publication: The Charleston Mercury
Date: April 26, 1862
Top Image: Southern “Volunteers” by Currier & Ives ca. 1862


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Feb. 27, 1864: Union Prisoners arrive at Andersonville

The first Union prisoners arrived at the Confederate prison at Andersonville, Georgia on February 27, 1864.

The Liberator carried a story about the POWs at Andersonville on September 9, 1864:

TREATMENT OF PRISONERS

Four representatives of the Union soldiers, now prisoners of war to the rebels and concentrated at Anderson, Georgia, have just proceeded to Washington, to state their condition to the Government, and see if some measures cannot be instituted for their speedy exchange. If their memorial, our soldiers state that

“Col. Hill, Provost Marshal General, Confederate States Army, at Atlanta, stated to one of the undersigned that there were thirty-five thousand prisoners at Andersonville, and by all accounts from the United States soldiers who have been confined there, the number is not overstated by him. These thirty-five thousand are confined in a field of some thirty acres, enclosed by a board fence, heavily guarded. About one-third have various kinds of indifferent shelter; but upwards of thirty thousand are wholly without shelter, or even shade, of any kind, and are exposed to the storms and rains which are of almost daily occurrence; the cold dews of the night, and the more terrible effects of the sun, striking with almost tropical fierceness upon their unprotected heads. This mass of men jostle and crowd each other up and down the limits of their enclosure, is storm or sun, and others lie down upon the pitiless earth at night, with no other covering than the clothing upon their backs, few of them having even a blanket.

William Lloyd Garrison’s The Liberator was a weekly abolitionist newspaper published in Boston. The paper held true to the founder’s ideals. Garrison was a journalistic crusader who advocated the immediate emancipation of all slaves and gained a national reputation for being one of the most radical of American abolitionists.
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