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Monthly Record of Current Events, March 2.

OUR Record closes on the 2d of March, two days before the close of the present Congress. Many important measures remain to be disposed of. We present a summary of those upon which action has been taken:

On the 8th of February the electoral vote for President and Vice-President was counted in the House, the Senate being present. The whole number of electoral votes was 233: for Abraham Lincoln for President, and Andrew Johnson for Vice-President, 212; for George B. M'Clellan and George H. Pendleton, 21. — The bill providing a government for States overthrown or subverted by rebellion has been laid on the table in the House; in the Senate Mr. Sumner's substitute, which would exclude all the Southern States from representation until that privilege should be accorded them by a law of Congress, has been rejected by a large majority. — The bill repealing the law which prohibits the forfeiture of the real estate of rebels beyond their natural lives was passed in the House by a majority of one. — The following bills, having passed both Houses of Congress, have become laws: The Fortification bill, appropriating two and one-half millions. — A bill recognizing as post routes the bridges to be built over the Ohio at Cincinnati and Louisville. — A bill to establish mail-steamship communication between the United States and China. — The bill freeing the wives and children of colored soldiers. — The Indian Appropriation, and the Army and Navy Appropriation bills. — A joint resolution of inquiry into the condition of the Indian tribes. — A bill appropriating $25,000 to purchase a painting of Mr. Powell which shall commemorate some national victory. — the Six Hundred Million Loan bill, authorizing the Secretary of the Treasury to borrow $600,000.000, and to issue therefor bonds or Treasury notes, the bonds to be payable at any period within forty years from date, the interest to be paid semi-annually, annually, or at maturity, "and the principal, or interest, or both, shall be


made payable in coin, or other lawful money, provided that the rate of interest on such bonds or Treasury notes shall not exceed six per cent. per annum, and when not payable in coin, shall not exceed seven and three-tenths per cent. per annum." — In the Senate, the following bills have passed: A bill to exclude from representation in the Electoral College the States which were in rebellion November 8, 1864. — A Postal bill, providing that letters unpaid, or lacking more than a single rate of pavment, should be returned to their writers with notification. — A bill to take one degree of latitude from the Territory of Utah, and to add the same to the State of Nevada. — A bill to reimburse Missouri for expenses incurred in calling out militia, which bill the House tabled. — A bill to amend the Copyright Law so as to authorize the copyrighting of photographs; also to require that a copy of every book copyrighted in the United States shall be forwarded to the library of Congress, a failure to do which forfeiting the copyright. — A bill making an appropriation to increase the salaries of the Assistant Secretaries of Departments to $3500 per annum, and of $60,000 for the extension of the Congressional Library. — The House resolution to reduce the duty on imported printing paper was so amended as to reduce the duty to 15 per cent. — A resolution calling for the report of the Committee of Inquiry on the explosion of the Petersburg mine, with which request the President complied; the failure in the assault on the occasion of the explosion was ascribed to disobedience of orders on the part of General Burnside, and to a lack of promptness and courage in his subordinate officers. — The following are the principal measures which have been adopted in the House: Bills for the construction of a ship canal around Niagara Falls, and of a canal to connect Lake Michigan with the Mississippi River; which bills have been reported in the Senate, with a joint resolution as a substitute for both, authorizing surveys to be made with a view to the construction of these works. — A resolution instructing the Committee on the Conduct of the War to investigate the military operations of General Rosecrans, from his campaign in West Virginia down to the close of the recent campaign in Missouri. — A joint resolution appropriating $1000 for a bust of the late Chief Justice Taney. — A resolution of inquiry into the number of rebel prisoners which have been enlisted in the Federal service; to which the Secretary of War replied that the total number of such enlistments has been 3800; that they ceased in September last by order of the War Department; and that no United States bounty had ever been paid to such recruits.

An unavailing "Peace Conference" was held on the 3d of February, on board a United States steamer in Hampton Roads. On the 28th of December Mr. Francis P. Blair had been authorized by our Government to pass the lines of the army and proceed to Richmond; he was charged with no public mission. During this visit he had an interview with Jefferson Davis, from whom he received a letter, dated January 12, to the effect that he was ready to appoint a Commission, provided it would be received by the Government of the United States, in order to "renew the effort to enter into a conference with a view to secure peace between the two countries." To this President Lincoln replied that he was ready to receive an informal agent representing those "now resisting the national authority, with a view of securing peace to the people of our common country." Mr. Davis thereupon appointed Alexander H. Stephens, Vice-President of the Confederacy, R. M. T. Hunter, and John A. Campbell, as commissioners. After some delay these persons were permitted to proceed to Fortress Monroe, where they were met by Mr. Seward, the Secretary of State. The Secretary was instructed to insist that the indispensable conditions to negotiation were that the National authority should be restored throughout all the States; that the position of the Executive on the slavery question would be maintained; that there would be no cessation of hostilities short of an end of the war and the disbanding of all the forces hostile to the Government; and that any proposition not inconsistent with these stipulations would be liberally considered. Before any interview took place the President decided to be present at the conference; he accordingly proceeded to Fortress Monroe. The meeting between the President and Secretary of State on one side, and the three Commissioners on the other, lasted several hours. The result, as officially stated by the Southern Commissioners, was that they were informed that the Message of President Lincoln of last December explains his sentiments upon the terms and conditions of peace, and they were not informed that these would be modified; that no treaty would be made looking to the independence of the Southern States; nor would any truce be entered upon without an assurance in advance of the restoration of the authority and laws of the United States over the whole Confederacy; but that individuals liable to pains and penalties would be liberally dealt with. Mr. Seward, in a dispatch to our Minister to England, gives the same general account, but adds: "What the insurgent party seemed chiefly to favor was a postponement of the question of separation upon which the war is waged, and a mutual direction of the efforts of the Government as well as those of the insurgents to some extrinsic policy or scheme for a season, during which passions might be expected to subside, and the armies be reduced, and trade and intercourse between the people of both sections be renewed." The President also says: "It was not said by the other party that in any event, or on any condition, they would not consent to reunion; and yet they equally omitted to declare that they would so consent. They seemed to desire a postponement of that question, and the adoption of some other course first, which might or might not lead to reunion, but which we thought would amount to an indefinite postponement. The conference ended without result."

The dead-lock between the two armies near Richmond still continues. During the month of February the only important operation which took place was on the 5th, when Grant made a movement to extend his left toward Hatcher's Run. Two corps, the Second and the Fifth, were engaged in this movement. The general result was that we advanced until we came near the intrenched lines of the enemy, then halted, and threw up intrenchments. The Confederates attacked these intrenchments and were repulsed, and the Union forces gained some three or four miles of ground. — In the Southwest no important military operations have taken place. It is presumed that a considerable part of both armies have been transferred from Tennessee to Virginia and the Carolinas, where the great interest of the time is now centred.

The capture of Fort Fisher, January 15, was followed immediately by the abandonment by the


Confederates of Fort Caswell and the other fortifications guarding the month of the Cape Fear River. the Confederates fell back gradually up the peninsula toward Wilmington, when they found themselves hardly pressed. The navy co-operated with the army by advancing both by the ocean and the river. They were obliged to move cautiously up the river, on account of the torpedoes which had been placed in the stream. The first movement in force toward Wilmington was made on the 11th of February. It resulted in advancing our position some miles, with a, loss in killed and wounded of about 60 men. On the 17th, Fort Anderson, the last strong point on the river, just below Wilmington, was attacked by the fleet, while General Schofield, who now commands in this district, advanced by land, hoping to prevent the escape of the enemy. The fort was evacuated during the night of the 18th, but the enemy in and about it escaped capture. Ten heavy guns and a quantity of ammunition were left behind. A slight stand was made on the 20th, but this was easily overcome. On the 21st the Confederates began to evacuate Wilmington, and possession was taken of the place by the Union forces on the 22d of February, the anniversary of Washington's birthday. Including those captured at Fort Anderson, we took 700 prisoners and 30 guns.

The accounts of Sherman's march into Carolina are as yet derived almost wholly from Confederate sources, and for some time the Southern papers have been prohibited from publishing definite war news. On the night of the 27th of January an extensive conflagration took place in Savannah. It broke out in a stable, whether by accident or design is uncertain. Owing to the inactivity of the fire department the flames spread rapidly, and finally reached the arsenal, where a large quantity of shells, left by the Confederates on their retreat, still remained. These exploded, causing a great destruction of property and some loss of life. — Sherman, meanwhile, had set his troops in motion from Savannah toward South Carolina. They advanced in separate columns, in such a manner as to leave the enemy in utter uncertainty as to their real destination. As the event showed, the principal immediate object was Branchville, a little village sixty-two miles northwest of Charleston, important only as being at the junction of several railroads, by one of which Charleston derived its chief supplies from Central Georgia. This place fell into Sherman's hands on the 11th of February, the Confederates, under Beauregard, retreating northward toward Columbia, the capital of South Carolina. Sherman followed, leaving behind a force which effectually destroyed the railroad for miles. On the 17th he approached Columbia, which was evacuated by Beauregard, and occupied by Sherman. A disastrous conflagration took place in the capital of South Carolina a few days later. One account says that the Confederates themselves set fire to the place; another that it was burned by order of Sherman, in retaliation for his troops having been fired upon by citizens from their houses, after the place had been abandoned by the military forces of the Confederacy. — The occupation of Columbia is the last positive information which has been received from Sherman's army. The Southern papers merely give vague intimations of skirmishes, and of measures taken to concentrate forces to prevent his further advance.

In the mean while General Gillmore, who had replaced Foster in the command of the forces before Charleston, had landed a considerable force on James Island, who, after some fighting, succeeded in establishing themselves within two miles of the city. Charleston, which had for many months withstood all attempts made upon it in front, was rendered untenable by this attack upon the rear, at a distance of more than sixty miles. The most that Hardee, who commanded there, could hope to do was to save the garrison. The evacuation was commenced on the night of February 15, and was quietly carried on for two days. At daylight on the 18th it was discovered that there were no troops in Forts Sumter and Moultrie, or in the works on James Island. The flag of the Union was raised on Sumter on the morning of the 18th by a detachment from the Twenty-first United States colored troops. The brick walls of the fort had been knocked down, and to the eye it appeared a shapeless mass of ruins. It had really been converted into an earth-work far stronger than the fort had ever before been. The other works in and about the harbor were found deserted, and possession was taken of them by Colonel Bennett, of the colored regiment, belonging to General Schimmelpfennig's corps. He then, with hardly half a score of men, pulled in a beat for the city, dispatching to the Mayor a demand for its surrender. That functionary had anticipated the demand by sending a note saying that the military authorities of the Confederate States had evacuated the city, and that he had remained to preserve order until the Federal commander should take such steps as he thought proper the surrender was made in a dignified manner, strongly contrasting with the foolish bravado shown at New Orleans. The Confederate army, in retiring, had set fire to every building in which cotton was stored. Conflagrations were seen in every direction; the firemen tried to keep themselves hidden, for the moment one was seen he was swept off by the retreating Confederate soldiers. At length, by the aid of the Federal troops, the fires were extinguished, but not until serious damage had been done to portions of the city which had escaped the great fire of December, 1861, and the subsequent bombardment. One terrible catastrophe occurred. An immense quantity of cartridges had been stored in the depot of the Wilmington Railroad. Close by, in the yard, was a heap of cotton bales, which had been set on fire. The yard and depot were filled with men, women, and children. Some of them amused themselves by bringing out cartridges and throwing them into the burning pile. Gradually a train of loose powder had been formed from the yard to the depot. A spark set this on fire, and in an instant it was communicated to the magazine in the depot. The building was blown up with a tremendous explosion, the fragments being scattered in every direction. It is said that 159 persons were killed outright or burned to death in the depot, besides as many more wounded by the explosion. The lower part of the city, formerly the finest portion, was found to be a mass of ruins, occasioned partly by the great fire, and partly by the long bombardment. Almost, every citizen who was able to leave had abandoned the city; but there still remained 10,000 or 15,000 persons who had no means of making their escape. These were almost destitute of the means of support. But a considerable quantity of rice had escaped destruction. The military authorities of the Union took possession of this, and ordered it to be distributed to the poor under the direction of a committee of the citizens. The surrender of Charleston took place on the 18th


of February. Just four years before, Jefferson Davis had been inaugurated as President of the Southern Confederacy; and four days after that the Collector of Charleston gave notice that Charleston was a port of the Confederacy. The actual siege of the city, commencing from the lodgment made by Gillmore on Morris Island, July 10,1863, lasted 585 days. Fire was first opened upon Charleston itself on the 22d of August, and had been kept up with more or less constancy ever since. The city had thus been actually under bombardment for 542 days. The Confederates burned all their iron-clad vessels in the harbor; they left behind 450 cannon of all sizes, which, fell into our hands, the most of them in a useful condition.

The question of arming the slaves has been warmly discussed, in the Confederate Congress, where, as well as in the Executive department, there is a great difference of opinion on the subject. General Lee, in a public letter, strongly advocates the measure. He writes, under date of Feb. 18: "I think the employment of negroes as soldiers not only expedient but necessary. The enemy will certainly use them against us if he can get possession of them, and as his present numerical superiority will enable him to penetrate many parts of the country, I can not see the wisdom or policy of holding them to await his arrival. I do not think that our white population can supply the necessities of a long war without overtaxing its capacity and imposing great sufferings upon our people. In my opinion the negroes, under proper circumstances, will make good soldiers. I think that those who are employed should be freed. It would, in my opinion, be neither just nor wise to require them to serve as slaves. The best course would be to call for those who are willing to come with the consent of their owners. I have no doubt that if Congress would authorize their reception into service, and authorize the President to call upon individuals or States for such as they are willing to contribute, with the condition of emancipation to all enrolled, a sufficient number would be forthcoming to enable us to try the experiment. If it prove successful most of the objections to the measure would disappear, and if individuals still remained unwilling to send their negroes to the army, the force of public opinion in the States would soon bring about such legislation as would remove all obstacles." — Bills to this purpose have been introduced into both Houses of Congress. That in the House of Representatives passed on the 20th of February, by a vote of 40 to 37. It empowered the President to ask and accept the services of as many negroes as he deemed expedient, to be employed during ths war on any military service which he should direct; that these troops should receive the same pay and rations as white troops; that if a sufficient number of colored recruits was not obtained, the President might call upon each State for its proportion of 300,000 men, to be raised irrespective of color, from persons not subject to military duty under existing laws; and that nothing in this act should work any change in the relation of master and slave, except by the consent of the owners; and of the States in which they reside. But, in the mean while, the bill originating in the Senate was lost, on the 21st of February, by a vote of 11 to 10, both of the Virginia Senators voting against it. Thereupon both branches of the Virginia Legislature passed resolutions directing their Senators to vote for the arming of slaves. The Southern theory being that Senators in Congress are bound to obey the instructions of their State Legislatures, it is probable that the Virginia Senators will reverse their votes, which would make a majority of one in favor of the measure. The Senate of Virginia also, on the 25th of February, passed a bill, by a vote of 27 to 3, which was sent to the House of Delegates, authorizing the Governor to call for volunteers for one year from the free negroes and slaves, to "aid in the defense of the capital and such other points as are or may be threatened by the public enemy;" these volunteers to be commanded by white officers the bill suspends, ill the case of these volunteers, the operation of the laws prohibiting the carrying of arms by slaves and free negroes.

In accordance with a resolution of the Confederate Congress, the President of the Confederacy appointed General Lee to the chief command of the entire military force. General Lee's order announcing that he assumed this post is dated February 9. General Joseph E. Johnston, between whom and Jefferson Davis there is a deep animosity, had been virtually retired from the army after the fall of Atlanta. Public opinion so strongly demanded his restoration that the President was forced to yield, and he was reinstated, and placed in immediate command of the forces opposed to Sherman, in the place of Beauregard, who wrote to the President that the general sentiment of the public, and particularly that of the Army of the Tennessee, was so urgent for Johnston's restoration to command that he was induced to join his wish to theirs; but he did not wish to be removed from his present field of operations, but preferred to serve under his old comrade. Johnston's order assuming the command of the "Army of the Tennessee, and all the troops in the Departments of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida," is dated at Charlotte, North Carolina February 25.

Governor Magrath, of South Carolina, issued a proclamation announcing that the invasion of the State had been commenced, and calling upon the people to rise in arms. We extract a few sentences: "Let all who falter now or hesitate," he said, "be henceforth marked. If any seek escape from duty and danger at this time, let them depart. There is no room in the State but for one class of men: they are the men who are willing to fight in her cause. The period is hear when private business must be for a season suspended. When the State calls, as it now does, to arms, all must obey that summons. Remove all your property from the reach of the enemy; carry what you can to a place of safety; then quickly return to the field. What you can not carry, destroy. You led the way in those acts which united the people of your sister States in this Confederation of States, and their secession from the Government of the United States. You fired the first gun at the flag of the United States, and caused that flag to be lowered at your command. As yet you have suffered less than any other people. You have spoken words of defiance: let your acts be equally significant." There are some, says the Governor, who think they are not bound to fight with us on account of their allegiance to some foreign power. Such people are warned to depart. "If they remain, they will do so with the full knowledge that the State expects and demands that every man shall do his duty."

Governor Vance, of North Carolina, issued a proclamation on the 14th of February, urging the people to continued resistance. "Some," he says, " will tell you that we are already subdued; that the enemy outnumbers us; that our fighting man are all


slain; our resources all exhausted; and that we might as well submit now. But great as our calamities have been, straitened as we are for all supplies, both of men and material, I see no danger which threatens our cause except the depression of spirit among the people, and the still more dreadful risk of internal dissension. Over four hundred thousand names yet stand on the muster-rolls of the Confederacy, to say nothing of the hundreds of thousands who shirk. Where are they? Thousands upon thousands, absent without leave, are lurking in the woods and swamps of the South. Are our provisions all gone? Hundreds of thousands of bushels of grain now rot at the various depots of the South for the want of transportation, and this transportation can not be protected because these absent soldiers are not at the post of duty." He then goes on to affirm that of all the region overrun by the Federal forces, they only hold the spots trodden by their armies or covered by their guns. He concludes by urging the people to lay down party bitterness; to use every exertion to restore absentees to the army; to divide their substance with the poor and suffering; to sustain their rulers and generals; and, in a word, to do everything "to prevent the degradation of the country and the ruin of its people."

Governor Brown, of Georgia, between whom and President Davis there is a bitter feud of long standing, on the 24th of February sent a message to the Georgia Legislature, in which he makes a bitter attack upon the policy and measures of the Confederate Government at Richmond. We quote a considerable portion of the telegraphic abstract of this message, as published in the Richmond papers of February 28:

"The message commences with a defense of the State against the attacks of the press for permitting Sherman to march unmolested through the State. He says she was abandoned to her fate and neglected by the Confederate authorities, and while her army of able-bodied sons were held for the defense of other States, Georgia was compelled to rely only upon a few old men and boys. He claims that the golden opportunity was thus lost for overthrowing Sherman. Had he been resisted from the start, and forced to fight and exhaust his ammunition, his surrender would have been certain. He recommends the establishment of a militia system, to be in no case turned over to the Confederate Government, but retained for home defense. He says there are only fourteen hundred exempts in the State, and most of these are over age. He recommends the passage of a law authorizing the impressment of provisions in the hands of persons who refuse to sell their surplus to the indigent families of soldiers. Referring to the penitentiary, he says that more than half the convicts released to fight have since deserted. He opposes the arming of the slaves, believing them to be more valuable as agricultural laborers than they could be as soldiers. They do not wish to go into the army, and the principal restraint now upon them is the fear that if they leave, the enemy will make them fight and compel them to take up arms, and they will desert by thousands. We can not expect them to perform deeds of heroism when righting to continue the enslavement of their wives and children, and it is not reasonable to demand it of them. Whenever we establish the fact that they are a military people we destroy our theory that they are unfit to be free. When we arm the slaves we abandon slavery. He takes the Government to task for a great variety of abuses, such as illegal impressments, arrests of citizens without authority by provost guards, the passport system, and the partiality of the Government to men of wealth, who are given nominal positions which keep them out of the army, while poor men and boys are forced into the ranks. He animadverts severely on the generalship of the President, and traces his military career during the war. He says — Our Government is now a military despotism drifting into anarchy, and if the present policy is persisted in it must terminate in reconstruction, with or without subjugation. the Governor is opposed to both; but if he favored either he would give his earnest support, to the policy of the President, as the surest mode of diminishing our armies, exhausting our resources, breaking the spirit of our people, and driving them in despair to seek refuge from worse tyranny by placing themselves under a government they loathe and detest. For the cure of existing evils he recommends the repeal of the Conscription act, the observance of good faith with the soldiers by paying them promptly, the abandonment of impressments and secret sessions of Congress, and taking from the President his power as commander-in-chief. He calls for a convention of the States to amend the Constitution, and closes in the following language: My destiny is linked with my country. If we succeed, I am a free man. If, by the obstinacy and weakness of our rulers, we fall, a common ruin awaits us all. The night is dark, the tempest howls, the ship is lashed with turbulent waves, the helmsman is steering to the whirlpool, yet our remonstrances are unheeded. We must restrain him, or the crew must sink together and all be buried in irrecovcrable ruin."

The crew of the Florida, 80 in number, captured in the Brazilian harbor of Bahia, have been set at liberty, in accordance with the decision of the Government in this case. They were embarked at Boston on board the British steamer Canada, bound for Liverpool by way of Halifax.

John Y. Beall, a wealthy and educated Virginian, was executed at Governor's Island, in New York harbor, as a spy and guerrilla. It was proved that, in last September, he was acting as a spy in Ohio; that he seized two steamers, the Philo Parsons and Island Queen, on Lake Erie; that, in December, he was found acting as a spy near Niagara Falls, in the State of New York and that he had attempted to destroy a train of cars, on the railroad between Buffalo and Dunkirk, by throwing obstructions on the track. He defended himself by claiming that all his acts were done by the authority of the Confederate Government, which had assumed the responsibility in the case, and died protesting that his execution was an act of murder.

The Legislatures of the following eighteen States have ratified the proposed amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting slavery: Illinois, Feb. 1; Rhode Island, Feb. 2; Michigan, Feb. 2; New York, Feb. 3; Pennsylvania, Feb. 3; Maryland, Feb. 3; Massachusetts, Feb. 4; West Virginia, Feb. 3; Maine, Feb. 7; Missouri, Feb. 7; Ohio, Feb. 8; Minnesota, Feb. 8; Kansas, Feb. 8; Virginia, Feb. 9; Indiana, Feb. 13; Nevada, Feb. 16; Louisiana, Feb. 17; Wisconsin, Feb. 24. This list includes Virginia and Louisiana, which did not vote in the Presidential election, the validity of whose present loyal State Governments is not settled. The following States, whose Legislatures are yet to meet, will undoubtedly ratify the amendment: Connecticut, California, Iowa, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont, to which will be added Arkansas and Tennessee, if the present loyal Governments shall be recognized as valid — eight in all. — The following three States have rejected the amendment: Delaware, Feb. 3; Kentucky, Feb. 23; New Jersey, March 1; in New Jersey the vote in the Assembly was equally divided, and the question was decided in the negative by the casting vote of the Speaker. Including the States in which there is no even nominal loyal State Governments, the whole number of States is 36; three-fourths of the States, that is 27, are required to make the proposition valid. If the votes of Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee shall be allowed, there will be a majority of all the States of two in favor of the ratification. If these are rejected, and if the seven States in which there is no loyal government be not reckoned, there will still be a majority for the ratification. But if the vote of these somewhat irregular States be not counted, and if it is decided that the assent of three-fourths of all the States is held to be required, there will be but 22 valid votes in its favor, being 5 less than the required number.