Monthly Record of Current Events, April 6.
Several sharp actions in various quarters have occurred during the month, but nothing which amounts to a general engagement. — On the 13th and 14th of March the enemy, learning that our forces in North Carolina had been considerably weakened by reinforcements sent to General Hunter near Charleston, made a vigorous attempt to repossess themselves of Newbern. They first drove in our pickets between the Neuse and Trent rivers, but were held in check by our cavalry until reinforcements came up, when they fell back. They then attacked Fort Anderson, an unfinished earthwork, unprovided with guns, and after an ineffectual bombardment advanced to the assault; but our gun-boats were by this time in position to take part in the action, and after a vigorous contest of three hours the enemy fell back, having suffered severely, while our loss amounted to but one man killed and two wounded. — On the 20th of March a detachment sent out from Murfreesboro was attacked near Milton by a force of 2500 men, commanded by the famous guerrilla leader Morgan; the attack was repulsed, the loss of the guerrillas being given by the prisoners at 28 killed and some 200 wounded. — A dispatch from General Burnside, now in command of the department of the Ohio, dated April 1, gives an account of a brilliant action at Somerset, Kentucky, between our forces under General Gilmore and a body of the enemy under General Pegram, who had attempted a raid into Kentucky. General Gilmore reports that the enemy had 2600 men, outnumbering us two to one. Notwithstanding this disparity of force he attacked them on the 30th of March, in a strong position, defended by cannon, dislodged him, and drove him over the Cumberland River. The pursuit was stopped by the night; but his loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners amounts to 500; our own, in killed, wounded, and missing, not exceeding 30. A considerable amount of plunder, which the enemy had secured, was recaptured.
During the month several destructions or captures of vessels attempting to run the blockade have been made. The most important of these is perhaps that of the steamer Georgiana, built in England, which was run ashore near Charleston and destroyed, with all her cargo, consisting of arms, munitions, and medicines. It was intended to fit her out at Charleston as a cruiser. She is represented to have been in every way a more formidable vessel than the Alabama, whose depredations upon our commerce have been so extensive. This famous cruiser continues her career of destruction unchecked. On the 20th of March the American ship Washington, bound from Callao to Antwerp, put into the port of Southampton, England, having on board the crews of four other vessels, which had been captured by the Alabama and burned at sea. The Washington, was captured on the 20th of February, but was released upon giving a bond for the payment of $50,000, for the purpose of taking off the crews from the other vessels. The officers of the Alabama asserted that this vessel had already destroyed about forty American traders.
Accounts from almost every portion of the South, given in their own papers, show a fearful amount of distress from want of provisions and other supplies. They indicate also a prevailing apprehension of still more severe privations. Thus, Governor Brown of Georgia, on the 25th of March, sent a Message to the Legislature, recommending the restriction of cotton planting to a quarter of an acre to each hand, under a heavy penalty, upon the ground of a probable scarcity of provisions. He also recommends the prohibition of using potatoes, pease, and peaches for distillation; and that the State cars carry corn to the destitute portions of the State. By the latest reports gold in Richmond commanded 400 per cent. premium, and almost every article of use or consumption bore corresponding prices throughout the Confederacy. Thus, at Charleston flour was held at $60 per barrel, coffee at $2 75 a pound; ordinary calicoes, which were formerly sold at 15 cents, now bring $2 per yard.
The Report of the Joint Committee of the Senate and House upon the "Conduct of the War" has at last been published. The whole bearing of the report is adverse to the conduct of the campaign as conducted by General M'Clellan. They say that if the Army of the Potomac had fulfilled the expectations warranted by its numbers and character, the war would have long since been closed. They state that when General M'Clellan assumed the command the Army of the Potomac numbered 185,000 men, well armed, and fully equipped; the force of the enemy was variously estimated from 70,000 to 210,000; but the Committee think the lowest number was too high. When at length an advance upon Richmond was determined upon, General M'Clellan proposed that it should be made by way of Fortress Monroe or the Rappahannock, in opposition to the opinion of the President that it should be by way of Manassas. At a council of war eight generals were in favor of M'Clellan's plan, and four against it. Subsequently the commanding general proposed to abandon the Rappahannock route, and advance by way of the York and James rivers. The whole conduct of the campaign from the siege of Yorktown is criticised and condemned. The Committee give it as the opinion of several generals that if the enemy had been promptly followed up after the battle of Williamsburg, they might, with little or no opposition, have been pursued straight into Richmond. The distance from Williamsburg to the Chickahominy was forty or fifty miles; the army was two weeks in passing over it. The battles of Seven Pines and Fair Oaks were fought on the 31st of May and the 1st of June. In summing up the results of these the Committee say that "the officers engaged, who have been examined, testify that the army could have pushed right on to the city of Richmond with little resistance; that the enemy were very much broken and demoralized, throwing away arms, clothing, etc., that might impede their flight." At this time, according to the documents referred to by the Committee, General M'Clellan proposed an immediate advance. On the 2d of June he wrote to the Secretary of War, "The enemy attacked in force and with great spirit yesterday, but are every where repulsed with great loss. Our troops charged frequently on both days, and uniformly broke the enemy. The result is that our left is within four miles of Richmond. I only wait for the river to fall to cross with the rest of the force and make a general attack. Should I find them holding firm in a very strong position, I may wait for what troops I can bring up from Fort Monroe; but the morale of my troops is such that I can venture much. I do not fear for odds against me. The victory is complete, and all credit is due to the gallantry of our officers and men." The proposed movement, however, was not made, because of the high state of the water and the bad roads. On the 18th of June the General telegraphed to the President that "after to-morrow we shall fight the rebel army as soon as Providence will permit; we shall await only a favorable condition of the earth and sky, and the completion of some necessary preliminaries." Two days after, June 20, the strength of the army is given as follows: "Present for duty, 115,202; special duty, sick, and in arrest, 12,225; absent, 29,511: total, 156,838." On the 25th of June General M'Clellan writes that the rebel force is stated to be 200,000; that he shall have to contend against great odds, and that if any disaster occurs he is not responsible for it; it was too late to ask for more reinforcements. Then follows an analysis of the seven days battles and the retreat to James River, of which the Committee say, in summation; "It would appear, from all the information your Committee can obtain, that the battles were fought, the troops handled, new dispositions made, and old ones changed, entirely by the Corps Commanders, without directions from the Commanding General. He would place the troops in the morning, then leave the field, and seek the position for the next day, giving no directions until the close of t he day's fighting, when the troops would be ordered to fall back during the night to the new position assigned by him. In that manner the army reached the James River." After the battle of Malvern Hill, July 1, the Committee say that many officers who were examined by them "are of the opinion that the enemy were so severely punished that they could have been followed into Richmond had our army followed them up vigorously." On the 3d of July, after the army had reached Harrison's Bar, General M'Clellan writes to the Secretary of War that he hopes that the enemy are as severely worn out as we are. He can not estimate our losses, but doubts whether there are 50,000 men under their colors. To capture Richmond there would require reinforcements of at least 100,000 men. The army remained at Harrison's Bar during July and a part of August. Halleck and Burnside visited the army, whose strength was then estimated at from 85,000 to 90,000. At a council of war, a majority were in favor of withdrawing the army. General M'Clellan was opposed to this, and asked for a reinforcement of 50,000 men to renew the advance upon Richmond. He was told that only 20,000 could be given, and consented to advance with this number; subsequently he demanded 15,000 or 20,000 more; when it was determined to withdraw the army. The Report of the Committee goes on to narrate the events of the campaign following the withdrawal of the army from the Peninsula, including the battles in Maryland, and the subsequent proceedings of General M'Clellan up to the time when he was "relieved" from the command. The whole, tone of the Report is condemnatory of the course of General M'Clellan. It is signed by Messrs. Wade and Chandler of the Senate, and Messrs. Gooch, Covode, Julian, and Odell of the House. We have endeavored to present briefly its most important features, without attempting to pass judgment on the correctness of the views presented in it. — The general conclusions of the Committee may be thus summed up: During the autumn of 1861, and the winter and spring of 1862, we were almost uniformly successful, as at Hatteras, Port Royal, Fort Henry, Mill Spring, Fort Donelson, Roanoke Island, in Missouri and Arkansas, and on the Mississippi, especially at the city of New Orleans. Had the success of the Army of the Potomac during this period corresponded with that of the other branches of our forces, the termination of the campaign of 1862 would have seen the rebellion well-nigh if not entirely overthrown. These chances having been lost, what now remains to be done is clear. In the words of the Report: "We must obtain uninterrupted control of the Mississippi. We must reach those great railroad arteries — the one bordering on the Atlantic sea-board, the other stretching through the Virginia and Tennessee Valleys to the West and South. We must, as soon as possible, take the few fortified sea-ports remaining in possession of the rebels, and then we shall have virtually disarmed the rebellion, cut it off from all external sources of food and arms, and have surrounded it by
847forces which can press upon it from any quarter, at the same time severing their means of intercommunication." The Report continues: "It is not our true policy to attempt an actual military occupation of the rebel territory, except at a few and important controlling points. We must destroy their armies, and to do this we must concentrate not scatter our forces. It is better to operate successfully against one stronghold or one army than to attempt three and fail."
Hostilities have broken out between the States of Salvador and Guatemala. On the 24th of February Carrera, the President of Guatemala, attacked the forces of Salvador, who were strongly intrenched at Coatepeque. He was repulsed, losing in killed, wounded, and missing fully one-fourth of his army of 6000 men. In an address to his army, dated on the 5th of March, Carrera acknowledges his defeat, but promises a renewed invasion of Salvador. In the mean while General Barrios, the President of Salvador, has undertaken to aid the malcontents in Nicaragua, who are dissatisfied with the Government of Martinez, the new President. He gives to Jerez, the unsuccessful competitor of Martinez, a force of 600 men to aid him in the invasion of the territory of Nicaragua. Martinez, in a proclamation dated March 13, calls upon the Nicaraguaus to repel this threatened invasion.
The insurrection in Poland has assumed an aspect which threatens to disturb the peace of Europe. The immediate occasion was the attempt to enforce the conscription law of March, 1861. By this law the conscripts from the towns, instead of being taken by lot, were specially designated by the Government, and this designation was based upon information furnished by the secret police. Government was thus enabled to get rid of all persons obnoxious to it. But even before the promulgation of this plan there had been indications of discontent. The meeting of the sovereigns of Russia, Austria, and Prussia, held at Warsaw in the autumn of 1860, was seized upon as a pretext to excite disaffection. The first movements took the shape of religious celebrations to the memory of the national poets. On the 25th of February, 1831, was fought the battle of Grochow, when for three days the Poles fought with the Russians; the thirtieth anniversary of that day was celebrated in 1861 at Warsaw. The whole population assembled in the churches to pray for the souls of those who fell in that disastrous conflict. Then a large procession paraded through the streets, singing the National Song. This procession was attacked by Colonel Trepow, the Chief of Police, at the head of two squadrons of soldiers, and about fifty were killed and wounded. A similar commemoration took place two days later, and another conflict occurred in which ten were killed and seventy wounded. The Russian Government disapproved of the conduct of Trepow, dismissed him from office, confided the police of the city to the students, and allowed the solemn interment of the victims. A hundred thousand people were present, and the whole population put on mourning. The Emperor on the 1st of April put forth a ukase granting some reforms; but on the 6th this was followed by another suppressing the Agricultural Society, which seems to have assumed somewhat of a political character. The next day, April 7, a great crowd assembled before the palace of Prince Gortchakoff, the Imperial Lieutenant, demanding the withdrawal of the edict; they were dispersed without special violence. The next evening the throng, men, women, and children, assembled in still greater numbers, and in reply to the Prince, who asked them what they wanted, they answered, "We want a country." The Russian soldiery were drawn up in battle order before the palace. Just then the postillion of a carriage which happened to be passing played the favorite air of Dembrowski's legions, "No, Poland shall not die!" The whole throng fell upon their knees and joined in the song. Whether any overt act was committed is disputed; but the troops opened fire upon the unarmed crowd, and the cavalry charged upon the throng. Fifty were killed and an immense number wounded. Six weeks after Gortchakoff died; but in the mean while the edict of conscription was issued — at the instigation, it is said, of the Marquis of Wielopolskie, who had not long before become Prime Minister under the Grand Duke Constantine. The Prime Minister was a Pole, who had taken an active part in the rising of 1830. He had, however, subsequently embraced the Russian cause, having apparently made up his mind that the annexation of Poland to Russia was an inevitable fact of which the best was to be made, and that all attempts at revolution must be suppressed. From about this time, as far as we are able to decide, dates the serious attempt to
848excite a new rising in Poland. The organization of a Central National Committee at Warsaw was carried on so secretly that though a revolutionary sheet was issued by them and widely circulated, the Russian Government were wholly unable to identify the members. Early in the present year it was determined to put the conscription law into thorough execution. On the 22d of January the walls of Warsaw were covered with a proclamation from the Committee, of which the following are the most important paragraphs:
The vile usurping government, maddened by the opposition of the victims of its oppression, has resolved to give them a final blow — to seize many thousands of their bravest and most ardent defenders, to clothe them in the hated Muscovite uniform, and to send them thousands of miles away to lasting misery and destruction. Poland is neither able nor willing to submit unresistingly to this crushing outrage, and an energetic opposition to it is alone consonant with her duty to posterity. Bands, of brave and self-sacrificing youths, penetrated with an ardent love for their Country, an unbending faith in the justice and aid of Heaven, have sworn to cast off the accursed yoke or die. Let the whole Polish nation follow them.
After the fearful shame of slavery, after the incredible tortures of oppression, the Central National Committee, now your only legal government, summons you, Poles, to the field of the last of your struggles, to the field of glory and victory, which, with God's help, it will give you; for it knows that you, who were but yesterday sufferers and victims, must now become heroes and giants.
On the first day of our openly coining forward, at the moment when the holy struggle begins, the committee declares all the sons of Poland, without any distinction of faith or race, descent or station, to be free and equal citizens of the country. From this moment the land which the agricultural population possessed on condition of paying rent or giving task work to their masters is unconditionally their property and that of their heirs. The landholders who will be injured by this arrangement shall be compensated from the general funds of the State. The families of all laborers who join the ranks of the defenders of the country, or die in glorious death while so serving, shall receive a share of the land protected from the enemy out of the State property.
The proclamation also contains a paragraph addressed to the "Muscovite nation," threatening, in case they uphold the Czar, that they shall be "devoted to the shame of eternal subjection, and the torture of eternal slavery; shall be called to a dreadful war — the last war of European civilization with the savage barbarism of Asia." The Revolutionary Committee have also summoned all the Polish nobles now abroad to return at once under penalty of being declared traitors, and having all their property confiscated. The policy of the insurrectionary leaders appears to be to inaugurate a guerrilla warfare, acting mainly in small bodies, and destroying the great lines of communication. Several engagements of no great magnitude have taken place. From all accounts the present aspect of affairs seems to be that a wide-spread insurrectionary movement has been organized, and that the chief revolutionary leaders in Europe are engaged in it; but that, so far, nothing has occurred which can be supposed to have any decisive influence upon the issue of the contest. The names even of the revolutionary authorities are involved in doubt. The most definite information is that by a resolution of the Central National Committee, bearing date March 10, General Langiewicz was appointed Dictator, with General Wysozki as Military Coadjutor, while the civil administration was committed to Poentkowski. In a proclamation of the same date the Dictator says: "Notwithstanding the extremely unfavorable circumstances in which the enemy, by a great increase of oppression, hastened the armed conflict, the struggle commenced by an unarmed people has already lasted two months, gains strength, and develops itself with energy . . . . . . . . .. Poland feels painfully the absence of a visible central power capable of directing the forces engaged in the struggle and of summoning new assistance to the field have decided, after consultation with the Provisional Government, to assume the supreme power of Dictator, which I shall surrender to the representatives of the nation as soon as the yoke of the Muscovite is shaken off. While retaining the immediate direction of military affairs in my own hands, I recognize the necessity of establishing a civil government, whose functions will be regulated by a special ordinance. Continuing the work of the Provisional Government, I confirm the principles of liberty and equality to all citizens, granting land to the peasants, with indemnity to the proprietors. — Of General Langiewicz, the Dictator, we can learn little beyond the fact that he served with distinction under Garibaldi in his famous Italian campaign. Among the other military leaders we recognize the name of Mieroslawski, who was first placed in chief command of the national forces. He was born in France in 1814, and since 1844 has been prominently identified with nearly all the revolutionary movements in Europe. Dembinski is a veteran of more than seventy years. He served under Napoleon in the Russian campaign of 1812, and was made Captain on the field of Smolensk. He bore a prominent part in the Polish rising of 1830, and received the name of the "cannon provider" on account of several captures of artillery which he made from the Russians. Toward the close of the rising he was named Dictator. After the suppression of the Polish rising of 1830 he entered the service of Mehemet Ali of Egypt. When the Hungarian revolt of 1848 broke out he joined the insurgents, and at one time was in chief command of the Hungarian army. He accompanied Kossuth in his flight into Turkey. Another prominent leader is Klapka, who served with great distinction during the Hungarian war, and has written largely and well upon that contest. These names and many others show that the entire revolutionary element in Europe has thrown itself into this Polish rising. We can see no prospect of its success unless they somehow manage to embroil the European Powers in the contest. The Convention entered into between Russia and Prussia is thought to give the other Powers a legitimate pretext for interfering. The engagements entered into by the Prussian Government were as follows: "If Russian troops are forced by the insurgents to cross the frontier into Prussia, they shall not be obliged to lay down their arms. Should revolutionary bands be driven across the Prussian frontier, the Russian troops shall be at liberty to pursue them. On the demand of the St. Petersburg Government Prussian troops will act, either separately or in conjunction with the Russian forces, against the insurgents." The Liberal party in Prussia, which has the ascendency in the Chambers, strongly oppose this Convention, and insist that Government shall take no part in the contest, and that consequently Russians as well as Poles must be disarmed upon crossing the frontiers. Their journals do not hesitate to say that "the Prussian Chamber will not give a crown for this object." Austria is said to have refused to enter into a convention similar to that with Prussia; and Great Britain, acting, it is assumed, in concert with France, has undertaken to remonstrate with the Russian Sovereign in regard to the administration of Poland. — Since writing the above we have intelligence that Langiewicz has been routed, driven across the Austrian frontier, and taken into custody by the authorities; and that the insurrection is virtually crushed.