Monthly Record of Current Events, January 12.
The Report of the Secretary of the Treasury presents an elaberate exposition of the financial condition of the Government for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1863, with estimates for the year ending June 30, 1864, We give its leading features, in round numbers, disregarding all sums of less than one million of dollars. — It was estimated that the receipts of the Government, apart from loans, for the year ending June 30, 1863, would be 180 millions; the amount was actually 124 millions, the deficiency arising from internal revenue, which it was estimated would produce 85 millions, while the receipts were only 37 millions. It was estimated that the actual expenditures of the year would be 693 millions; the amount was 714 millions; of this sum 590 millions were derived from loans, which form an addition to the public debt. This debt on the 1st of July, 1862, was 508 millions; our debt was therefore on the 1st of July, 1863, 1098 millions. The expenditures of the Government for the present fiscal year are estimated at 749 millions; of which 161 millions will be derived from customs and taxes, and the remaining 588 millions from loans. The debt of the nation on the 30th of June, 1864, will then be 1686 millions. The actual amount on the 30th of September, 1863, was 1228 millions. The estimates for the fiscal year commencing July 1, 1864, are only approximations, and are based on the supposition that the war will still continue. The revenue from ordinary sources is put down at 206 millions, the expenditures at 751 millions, leaving 545 millions to be provided for by loans. According to these estimates our entire debt on the 30th of June, 1865, will be about 2232 millions. In order to make the internal revenue bring in the sum of 150 millions the Secretary recommends increased taxes and duties upon various articles of luxury, prominent among which are that the duty on distilled spirits be fixed at sixty cents per gallon; on tobacco from five to twenty-five cents per pound; on petroleum ten cents per gallon; and on cotton two cents per pound. The Secretary thinks that there will be no difficulty in procuring loans at reasonable rates.
The Report of the Secretary of War gives a rapid resume of the military operations of the year, the main features of which are that, upon the whole, their influence "in suppressing the rebellion and restoring the authority of the Government can scarcely be overestimated." In the West "the rebel territory has been cut in twain, and the States west of the Mississippi no longer furnish supplies to the enemy, while the people of these States are showing such signs of returning loyalty that a speedy restoration of civil government may be confidently anticipated." The operations against Charleston have not accomplished all that was anticipated; but they have exhibited great skill and bravery on the part of our forces. By the recent operations in Texas the chief avenue of the rebels for foreign commerce and foreign aid is cut off. In the East there has been little material change. The armies of Lee and Meade occupy nearly the same relative positions as they did a year ago; the combats have been attended by about equal loss on both sides, without material advantage to either. Western Virginia is clear from any hostile force. Nothing of importance has taken place in the Departments of Virginia and North Carolina. In the Department of Missouri the enemy have been driven across the Arkansas. The question of the exchange of prisoners is treated at length. The essential points are, that the agreement by which prisoners on either side were to be released on parole until exchanged has been systematically, violated by the enemy. At Vicksburg and Port Hudson we cultured and paroled about 35,000, not a few of whom without having been exchanged, have since been found in the Confederate armies; and again, the Confederate Government refuses to consider our colored soldiers or white officers who command them when captured, as prisoners of war, but treats them as criminals, refusing to exchange them. As the matter now stands they have 13,000 of our soldiers, while we have 40,000 of theirs. They refuse to exchange man for man, demanding that we should give all of theirs in exchange for all of ours. To this we can not accede. In the mean while our prisoners in their hands undergo the utmost hardships, while theirs in our hands are well cared for. If necessary, we must resort to retaliation. — The conscription has been enforced in twelve States, bringing in 50,000 soldiers and $10,000,000 of money. The question of abelishing the $300 exemption clause is commended to the consideration of Congress. The conduct of the colored troops in our armies is commended. — The operations of the Ordinance Department are given in detail. We give a few details, which are a sample of the whole. At the opening of the war we had 1052 siege and coast guns, and have since procured 1064; of field artillery we had 231 pieces, and have procured 2734; of infantry fire-arms we had 473,000, and have procured 1,950,000; of cavalry fire-arms we had 31,000, and have procured 338,000; of balls and shells we had 363,000, and have procured 2,562,000, and so on in proportion. At first we were compelled to rely on foreign countries for our arms and munitions: now we manufacture them ourselves. Our troops have been paid up to October 31, 1863.
The Report of the Secretary of the Navy presents a careful account of the growth and present condition of our fleet, with a summary of its operations during the year. At the commencement of the present Administration we had 76 vessels, of which only 42 were in commission. At the time of the last Report of the Secretary a year ago we had 12 vessels, with 3268 guns, tonnage 340,036 tons. We have now 588 vessels, with 4443 guns, tonnage 467,967 tons; an increase, exclusive of losses, of 161 vessels, 1175 guns, 127,931 tons. We have meanwhile, lost 32 vessels, with 166 guns, tonnage 15,085 tons. Of these lost vessels 12 were captured 3 destroyed to prevent their falling into the hand of the enemy, 4 were sunk in battle or by torpedoes, and 13 lost by shipwreck, fire, and collision. Of our present 588 vessels 46 are iron-clad steamers for coast service; 29 iron-clad steamers for inland service; 203 side-wheel steamers; 198 screw steamers; and 112 sailing vessels. The number of vessels captured by our blockading fleets, exclusive of a large number destroyed on the Mississippi and other rivers, is 1045, of these 547 were schooners, 179
407steamers, 131 sloops, 30 brigs, 26 barks, 15 ships, and 117 yachts and small boats. The value of the prizes sent into court for adjudication is fully $13,000,000.
Congress has gone resolutely to work, little time having as yet been wasted on long speeches. We give a resume of the most important measures proposed or adopted:
SENATE. — December 8. Mr. Wilson submitted a resolution to inquire what further legislation is necessary to facilitate the payment of back pay and pensions to deceased soldiers. A resolution was introduced by Mr. Davis, declaring, in effect, that the refusal of the enemy to exchange colored soldiers and their white officers should not prevent the exchange of our other officers and soldiers on just terms. — December 9. Mr. Foster presented resolutions of the General Assembly of Connecticut for modifying the Enlistment Act, so that town organizations should be credited for men raised under former calls. — December 10. Senate adjourned to Monday, the 13th, to allow time to arrange the committees. — December 14. Mr. Dixon gave notice of bill exempting clergymen from conscription. This matter came up on following days, and was disposed of adversely. Standing Committees were elected, the following being chosen Chairmen of the most important: Foreign Relations, Sumner; Finance, Fessenden; Commerce, Chandler; Agriculture, Sherman; Military Affairs, Wilson; Naval Affairs, Hale; Judiciary, Trumbull; Post-office, Collamer; Public Lands, Harlan; Indian Affairs, Doolittle; Pensions, Foster; Claims, Clark; District of Columbia, Grimes; Territories, Wade. Mr. Wilson introduced resolutions thanking Generals Hooker and Meade, and the Army of the Potomac, for their conduct at Gettysburg, and General Banks and his army for the capture of Port Hudson. Mr. Hale received unanimous permission to introduce bill for effectually repressing the rebellion by prohibiting the holding of any person in servitude except by contract. Mr. Wilkinson introduced bill granting pensions to persons wounded in the Indian wars in Minnesota. Mr. Wilson introduced bill to increase the bounty to volunteers. — December 15. Mr. Henderson presented a memorial relative to a new railway line between New York and Washington; the same subject, was subsequently brought up in other forms. Mr. Lane, of Kansas, introduced a bill to prevent speculative traffic in gold, silver, and foreign exchange. It prohibits, under penalty of a fine of not less than $1000 or more than $10,000, and imprisonment for not less than one month or more than twelve months, the sale of gold, silver, or foreign exchange by any banker or broker except at his regular place of business, and prohibits the sale of these articles unless actually delivered and paid for on delivery. Mr. Foote introduced a bill granting public lands to the People's Pacific Railroad and Telegraph Line. Mr. Anthony offered a resolution of thanks to General Burnside and the officers and soldiers of his army. Mr. Lane, of Indiana, introduced a bill amending the act defining conspiracies, and that for enrolling and calling out the national forces. Mr. Davis, of Kentucky, called up the resolutions relating to the exchange of prisoners, and argued against the policy of refusing to exchange white prisoners because the rebels refused to exchange negro captives. Mr. Johnson, of Maryland, replied, urging the continuance of the exchange, and that Southern prisoners equal in number to the colored prisoners in the hands of the enemy should be retained. He maintained that our colored soldiers must be protected. Mr. Davis rejoined, condemning the policy of the Administration in carrying on the war. — December 16. By Mr. Wade, memorials from ladies for law emancipating all persons of African descent. By Mr. Saulsbury, memorial from clergymen asking to be exempted from draft; the Senator said that clergymen who attend to their spiritual duties should be exempt, but that political parsons should be placed in the front ranks and made to fight till the war was over. By Mr. Wilson, memorial from officers of colored regiments, asking for the same pay and bounty as given to other troops. Mr. Wilson reported back joint resolution of thanks to General Grant and his army, recommending its adoption: a dopted. By Mr. Lane, of Kansas, resolution of inquiry relative to treatment of our Kansas prisoners; he said that there had been seen seven Kansas prisoners in irons, among others not ironed, and, that it was averred they were to be put to death: adopted. — December 17. Mr. Hale rose to a question of order. It had been charged that he had been guilty of bribery in accepting fees for defending prisoners charged by the War Department with offenses. He asked for a Committee to inquire whether he had been guilty of conduct inconsistent with his duty as a Senator. — December 18. A resolution, offered by Mr. Sumner, that to the rules of the Senate should be added that every Senator should, before entering upon his duties, take in open Senate the oath prescribed by the Act of July 2, 1862, came up for consideration. Mr. Saulsbury, of Maryland, said that his colleague, Mr. Bayard, was the only Senator affected by the resolution; there was nothing in the oath itself which he or his colleague could not take, but the constitutionality of requiring it was doubtful. Debate ensued, in the course of which Mr. Bayard said that he could not without a decision of the Senate voluntarily take the oath, though there was nothing in it to which he objected. His past life should be a guarantee against any suspicion of disloyalty; but the oath referred to civil officers, and Senators were not civil officers. The Senate adjourned to December 21. — December 21. Mr. Wilson gave notice of a bill making it illegal for members of Congress to serve as counsel in any case in which the United States is interested. Mr. Morgan submitted resolution calling for names of officers and soldiers who have resigned or deserted: adopted. The bounty and pay bill then came up, and several amendments were proposed and rejected, the main point being as to the payment of large bounties. Mr. Fessenden opposed this, and said the true principle was that no man had a right to refuse his services when called for; the Government could enforce the demand, and should do so. Mr. Wilson was in favor of bounties and the commutation clause. Mr. Lane, of Indiana, said our armies could not be filled from conscripts alone; 3,000,000 were subject to draft, of whom, under this law, only 426,000 could be brought into the field, of whom 20,000 or 30,000 would be deserters. — December 22. The Enrollment bill came up: various amendments proposed by the Committee were adopted; that exempting clergymen from draft was rejected by a vote of 33 to 8. Mr. Hendricks proposed an amendment that the national forces be divided into two classes — the first to include unmarried persons between the ages of twenty and forty-five; the second class, to include all others, not to be called into service until
408the first class had been called: lost. The joint resolution from the House appropriating $20,000,000 for bounties, advance pay, etc., of enlisted men, was taken up. A proviso was adopted that no part of this be paid to men enlisted after the 5th of January, and that after that date no bounty be paid except such as is now provided by law; the proviso adopted by 25 to 9; the resolution then passed unanimously. Time subsequently extended to March 1. Joint resolution from the Houses offering thanks to Captain John Rodgers, of the Weehawken, was passed. Mr. Trumbull offered resolution directing the Secretary of War to furnish the Senate with information as to the number of generals now without commands equal to a brigade, etc., and whether it is necessary that officers of this rank be employed in subordinate posts: subsequently adopted. — December 23. Mr. Wade introduced bill prohibiting, under penalty of fine, imprisonment, and disqualification for office, any member of Congress from acting as counsel or agent in any case, before any tribunal, in which the "United States is directly or indirectly a party, or from receiving any compensation for services, in any such case, before any department, bureau, office, or Naval or Military Commission. Mr. Sumner introduced a bill for codifying the public statutes; subsequently adopted. Mr. Wilson offered resolution directing the Secretary of War to inform the Senate whether persons held to service or labor in Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri have been enrolled in the army, according to the law of March 3, 1863; and if not, why such enrollment has not been made: adopted. The Senate adjourned till January 5. — January 5. A message was received from the President, recommending that the payment of bounties to veteran soldiers be continued until the 1st of February; accompanying this were letters from the Secretary of War and the Provost Marshal General in favor of the bounty system as opposed to that of drafting. The Secretary of the Navy sent in a list of naval officers who have left the service and joined the rebels. Mr. Powell offered a bill prohibiting army and navy officers from interfering in State elections. Mr. Wilson introduced a bill restoring the $400 bounty to veterans and $300 to volunteers until February 15, and offering $100 bounty to persons of African descent residing in States now in rebellion. Mr. Ten Eyck moved the reference to the Judiciary Committee of that part of the President's Message relating to the reconstruction of the States; he spoke at length in favor of the President's plan: agreed to. Mr. Davis offered a series of resolutions, which gave rise on the 8th to a motion for his expulsion. — January 6. Select Committee on Pacific Railroad appointed; Mr. Howard chairman. Mr. Rowell's bill to prevent army and navy officers from interfering in elections came up; debate ensued, in the course of which Mr. Saulsbury asserted that in the State of Delaware a majority of the voters had been driven from the polls because they were not in favor of the Administration. Mr. Wilson defended the Government. The bill was finally referred to the Committee on Military Affairs, in opposition to the wishes of its mover, who desired that it should be referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. — January 7. Sundry petitions were presented and disposed of. Mr. Carlile offered a series of resolutions denning the relations of the General and State Governments, the gist of which lies in the assertions "that it is competent for the President, or any military commander in any State, to impose obligations interfering with the State laws;" and that "the whole power of the Government should be used, not against the rebel States, as such, but against the armies of the rebels:" the resolutions were laid on the table. The bounty bill was debated and referred to the Committee on Finance. The Enrollment bill was taken up, debated, and several points disposed of. Mr. Howe offered a series of resolutions for the relief of our soldiers now held as prisoners; the substance of which is that the President be requested to call for a million of volunteers for ninety days, or less, to liberate all our prisoners; that General Grant be placed in command of this force; that Congress adjourn on the 4th of March, and that each member under fifty years of age join the army: these resolutions were referred to the Military Committee. — January 8. Mr. Morrill offered resolution that notice be given to Great Britain for the termination of the Reciprocity Treaty. The Committee on Military Affairs reported the bills of thanks to Generals Hooker, Muade, Banks, and Burnside, with their officers and troops. Mr. Wilson introduced bill to promote enlistments; the chief features are that all enlistments in the regular army shall be for three years, and colored soldiers receive the same pay, etc., as white. Mr. Grimes introduced bill fixing the pay of officers in the army. Mr. Hale submitted a resolution for a Committee to inquire into the condition of the navy, and especially into the efficiency of the steam-engines lately built. Debate ensued, in the course of which Mr. Hale assailed the management of the Navy Department, and Messrs. Grimes, Doolittle, and Conness defended it. Mr. Davis also took part in the debate, assailing the Administration generally. Mr. Wilson offered a resolution for the expulsion of Senator Davis, of Kentucky, on the ground, of a series of resolutions offered by him on the 5th of January, from which the following phrase was quoted : "The people of the North ought to revolt against the war leaders, and take the matter into their own hands," thereby, said Mr. Wilson, "meaning to incite the people of the United States to revolt" against the Government. Mr. Davis rejoined warmly, declaring, "The Senator's interpretation of my resolution is false in letter and spirit, and false in fact." Without disposing of this resolution for expulsion, the Senate proceeded to the consideration of the Enrollment bill. The main point of discussion was the $800 commutation clause, Mr. Sumner proposed an entirely new course; substitutes should be furnished only by Government; commutation to be fixed at $300; every drafted man seeking exemption should pay that sum, and if his income exceeded $300 an additional sum as follows: On incomes of from $600 to $2000, ten per cent.: on incomes from $2000 to $5000, twenty per cent.: on incomes over $5000, thirty per cent. Debate ensued upon this proposition. Mr. Wilson said that, though instructed by the Committee to report in favor of repealing the commutation clause, he was in favor of its retention, and proceeded to argue in support of his view. Without coming to definite action on this subject, the Senate adjourned to Monday, the 11th.
HOUSE. — Decembers. A joint resolution, presenting the thanks of Congress to General Grant and his officers and Soldiers, and ordering a medal to be struck for him in the name of the people of the United States, received the emphatic indorsement of a unanimous passage without debate. A resolution was offered by Mr. Cox, of Ohio, requesting
409the President to take immediate steps to secure the exchange of our prisoners in the hands of the rebels, and calling for the correspondence in the War Department on the subject. — December 9. Mr. Cox's resolution urging the President to take measures for the exchange of prisoners came up; Mr. Washburne presented a substitute approving the efforts of the Administration, and recommending their continuance; the substitute was agreed to by 94 to 73, and the resolution passed by 106 to 46. — December 10. Mr. Pendleten gave notice of a bill to admit members of the Cabinet to the floor of the House, with the privilege of debating upon matters belonging to their departments. Rev. W. H. Channing was elected chaplain, receiving 86 votes to 55 given for Bishop Hopkins. The House adjourned to Monday, the 14th. — December 14. The Speaker announced the Standing Committees, the following being the Chairmen of the principal ones; Elections, Dawes; Ways and Means, Stevens; Claims, Hale; Commerce, Washburne; Public Lands, Julian; Post-office, Alley; District of Columbia, Lovejoy; Judiciary, Wilson; Manufactures, Moorhead; Agriculture; Clay; Military Affairs, Schenck; Naval Affairs, Rice; Foreign Affairs, Davis, of Maryland; Territories, Ashley; Expenditures of War Department, Deming; Expenditures of Navy Department, Baxter. Mr. Fernando Wood introduced a resolution reciting that the President had declared that the Union cause had gained important advantages, and that we could now "offer to the insurgents an opportunity to return to the Union without imposing upon them degrading or destructive conditions; therefore Resolved, that the President be requested to appoint three Commissioners who shall be empowered to open negotiations with the authorities at Richmond to the end that this bloody, destructive, and inhuman war shall cease, and the Union be restored upon terms of equity, fraternity, and equality under the Constitution:" laid on the table by a vote of 98 to 59. Resolutions to the following effect were presented by different members, but debate arising, they were laid over: That the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, not-prohibited to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people, and that the Executive can not interfere with their exercise by the people; That the Secretary of War be directed to communicate to the House the report of General M'Clellan concerning his operations as Commander-in-Chief, and Commander of the Army of the Potomac; That whenever rebellion in any State has been put down, such State shall be restored to all its rights, including that of regulating its domestic institutions, free from all Congressional or Executive control or dictation; That the Federal Government has power to use the army and navy to put down resistance to the authority of the United States, but not to reduce the States to the condition of Territories; and that the war should not be waged to overthrow the institutions of any of the States, but only to maintain the Constitution and preserve the Union and the rights of the States, and that when these objects are attained the war ought to cease. Mr. Holman offered a series of resolutions to the effect that the doctrine that insurrectionary States should be reduced to the condition of Territories, and governed by the will of Congress or the Executive, is wrong; that the war ought to be waged only to put down the armed insurrection, not to interfere with the rights of the States; that when the people of these States submit to the Constitution they should be restored to all their rights; and that Congress should make all necessary appropriations to carry on the war in order that "through a vigorous prosecution of the war peace on the basis of the Union of the States and the supremacy of the Constitution may be most speedily obtained." These resolutions were laid on the table by a vote of 82 to 74. Mr. Lovejoy offered a resolution instructing the Committee on the Judiciary to inquire into t he expediency of placing into any bills which they may report a provision putting all soldiers without distinction of color upon the same footing as to pay. Mr. Cox moved to lay the resolution on the table, but the motion was not agreed to, and the resolution passed. A resolution was passed instructing the Committee on Commerce to inquire into the operation of the Reciprocity Treaty with the British Provinces, and to suggest any alterations which may make it more beneficial to both parties. — December 15. A message was received from the President, recommending a vote of thanks to Captain John Rodgers, the captor of the ram Fingal, this preliminary being required by law in order that he may be raised to a higher rank in the navy. Mr. Stevens introduced a resolution referring the different portions of the President's Message to proper Committees — that relating to the condition of the rebellious States to a select Committee of nine. Mr. Davis of Maryland offered as a substitute that the portion which relates to the duty of the United States to guarantee a republican form of government to the States be referred to a select Committee of nine, who should draw up the necessary bill. Mr. Brooks of New York was opposed to any instructions being given to the Committee; but if such were given, he would be disposed to add that they should inquire also "whether republican government has not been abrogated and overthrown in the North as well as the South since the revolution began." Mr. Davis's substitute was adopted by a vote of 89 to 80, and the remainder of Mr. Stevens's resolutions were adopted. The resolution calling for the report of General M'Clellan was adopted. — December 16. The Speaker announced select Committees, of which the following are Chairmen: Pacific Railroad, Stevens; Emigration, Washburne of Illinois; Rebellious States, Davis of Maryland. By Mr. Grinnell, resolution that Confederate prisoners have been treated with humane consideration, while our prisoners at Richmond are suffering unto death for food and clothing, and that the enemy had refused to continue to receive food and clothing forwarded to our prisoners; and that this conduct is at war with the sentiment of the age, and deserves execration: adopted. By Mr. Kenney, delegate from Utah, that Government needs all its soldiers; that there are companies now in Utah, removed from usefulness; and that the Committee on Military Affairs inquire into the reasons for stationing a standing army among that peaceful and loyal people: rejected. By Mr. Rollins, resolution in favor of a hearty support of such measures for overcoming the rebellion as will not subvert the Constitution; that the present war has been forced upon the country; that Congress will banish all feelings of resentment, and recollect only its duty to the whole country; that the war is not waged for subjugation, or to interfere with the constitutions of the States, but to maintain the Constitution and the dignity and equality of the States; and that when these objects are attained the war should cease, the motion to lay this
410resolution on the table was negatived by 115 to 52; debate arising, it was laid over. — December 17. The Committee on Naval Affairs reported the joint resolution of thanks to Captain John Rodgers, Mr. Cox moving in vain an amendment of thanks to Admiral David D. Porter. On motion of Mr. Wilson of Iowa the proper Committees were instructed to inquire into the legislation necessary to secure pensions to the widows and children of those who die in the service; and to enable those in the naval and military service to have the benefit of the Homestead Law. Mr. Harrington presented a series of resolutions censuring the course of the Administration in regard to its action in suspending the writ of habeas corpus, and instructing the Judiciary Committee to report a bill in accordance with these declarations: rejected by 89 to 67. Mr. Edgerton offered resolutions censuring the President's Proclamation of Amnesty, and denouncing the invasion or occupation of any State for the purpose of changing its laws or institutions: laid on the table by a vote of 90 to 66. Mr. Smith of Kentucky offered a series of resolutions favoring a vigorous prosecution of the war, and opposing any armistice so long as there is a rebel in arms; ignoring all party lines, and recognizing only patriots and traitors. A motion to lay these resolutions on the table was negatived by 100 to 60, and they were passed by a vote of 93 to 61. A vote then came up on resolutions previously offered by Mr. Smith, in the following words: "Resolved, That we hold it to be the duty of Congress to pass all necessary bills to supply men and money, and the duty of the people to render every aid in their power to the constituted authorities of the Government in crushing out the rebellion:" agreed to by 152 to 1; and "Resolved, That our thanks are tendered to our soldiers in the field for their gallantry in defending and upholding the flag of the Union, and defending the great principles dear to every American patriot:" agreed to by 160 to 1 — Mr. Harris, of Maryland, being the only member voting against these two resolutions. The House adjourned to Monday, 21. — December 21. Message received from the President signing resolution offering thanks to General Grant and a gold medal, being the first completed act of the session. Mr. Blow, from Committee on Ways and Means, reported bill appropriating $5700,000 for paying Missouri troops; Mr. Cox opposed the consideration of the bill at present; debate arising the matter was laid over till next day. Mr. Yeaman, of Kentucky, offered a series of resolutions to the effect that the Confederate conspiracy does not extinguish the rights of any States, but that their citizens can resume their civil government on the only condition that their government is republican, and that it is sufficient for those who are loyal and qualified by the election laws of the States to assume their State Government, and that this is sufficient evidence of loyalty: referred to Committee on Rebellious States. Mr. Spaulding moved for select Committee on a National Bankrupt act: adopted. Mr. Miller offered a resolution requesting the President to instruct those having in charge the exchange of prisoners to exchange white man for white man, leaving the question of negro prisoners to be disposed of hereafter; a motion to lay this on the table was refused, 85 to 73; when Mr. Washburne offered as a substitute a resolution approving of the course of the Administration in the matter of the exchange of prisoners, and recommending that it be pursued, to secure a fair and just exchange of all our prisoners: the substitute was adopted, 85 to 63. The bill appropriating $20,000,000 for bounties, etc., to volunteers came up, the House being in Committee of the Whole. After some debate the bill was reported. Mr. Harding offered an amendment that no part of the money should be expended in arming or paying negro soldiers lost, 145 to 41; the bill was then passed without a dissenting vote. Mr. Cox offered a resolution instructing the Committee on Military Affairs to inquire into the expediency of repealing the Enrolling act of March 3, 1863, and in lieu of it to report a bill calling forth the militia to execute the laws and suppress insurrection, providing for the arming of the militia, and reserving to the States the appointment of officers and the authority for training; or, if that be not expedient, that the Committee inquire into the expediency of repealing the $300 exemption clause: laid over. — December 22. The bill appropriating $700,000 for payment of men called out for home defense in the Missouri Department was passed. The bill making appropriation for the Military Academy was passed. Mr. Johnson offered resolution that as the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania had decided the conscription to be unconstitutional, it is the duty of the Executive either to acquiesce or to bring the question before the Supreme Court of the United States: laid on the table by 80 to 43. The Senate amendments to the $20,000,000 bounty bill were concurred with: bill passed. — December 23. Select Committee on National Bankrupt Law appointed, Mr. Spaulding Chairman. The Secretary of War sent in General M'Clellan's report. Mr. Fenton, from Committee on Military Affairs, reported bill to facilitate the payment of bounties and arrears due to deceased soldiers. Mr. Schenck, from the same committee, reported bill to create a Bureau of Military Justice; and also bill repealing part of the Enrollment bill, designed to unite the two classes of enrolled men; debate ensued, in the course of which Mr. Ancona offered a preamble and resolution declaring the Enrollment act unjust and unconstitutional, because it takes from the States the control of their own militia, and instructing the Committee to bring in a bill for the repeal of the act, and the substitution of some constitutional and just bill for immediately filling up our armies; Mr. Schenck said that the Committee would not report a repealing bill, but were considering amendments to make it more effective. The House adjourned to January 5. — January 5. Mr. Smith introduced a bill providing for paying bounty and pensions to soldiers from Ohio and Kentucky. A message from the President urging the extension of the time for paying bounties till February 1 was received and referred to Military Committee. Mr. Harrington gave notice of a bill paying bounties to soldiers who, having served less than three years, have been honorably discharged. — January 6. Resolution for Committee to report on railroad from Washington to New York adopted; Mr. Brandagee subsequently appointed Chairman. The Committee on Elections reported a bill fixing a uniform time for electing Representatives in Congress, and enabling soldiers to vote. The Committee on Military Affairs reported bill extending the time for paying bounties to March 1: passed unanimously. The Appropriation bill was passed, after general debate. Mr. Arnold made a set speech upon the state of the Union and the President's Message, laudatory of the course of the President, and urging the entire
411destruction of the system of slavery. "It is the mission of Mr. Lincoln," he said, "to carry out the regeneration of the country by the death of American slavery; let him finish the job." Mr. Blaine offered a resolution declaring that the debts incurred by the States in suppressing the insurrection should be assumed by the General Government. Mr. Baldwin offered a resolution to the effect that "any proposition to negotiate with the rebel leaders at Richmond, sometimes called the authorities at Richmond," should be rejected. The resolution, after some opposition from Mr. Cox, was adopted by 89 to 24; the preamble, which declares that "the organized treason which has its head-quarters at Richmond exists in defiant violation of the Federal Constitution, and has no claim to be treated otherwise than as an outlaw," was adopted by 112 ayes, and no contrary vote. The Committee on Naval Affairs were instructed to inquire into the expediency of establishing a navy-yard and depot for the construction and repair of iron-clads. Mr. Rogers proposed resolutions declaring that the rebellion is wicked; that the war against it should be prosecuted; but that a compromise was desirable; and that therefore commissioners should be appointed to meet with similar commissioners from the insurgent States to treat respecting peace and a reconstruction of the Union; that the people of the insurgent States have a right to return to the Union, and "reorganize their respective State Governments, with their domestic institutions as they were before the war," and elect, representatives to Congress, without "any conditions precedent except that of being liable to be punished" for violations of the Constitution and laws: these resolutions were laid on the table by a vote of 78 to 42. Mr. Randall offered a resolution that the President be requested to effect an exchange of prisoners, and that "if that exchange can not be extended to all prisoners it may be carried into effect as to any portion that may be agreed upon between the parties:" laid over for consideration. Mr. Myers (Opposition) offered a resolution to the effect that the war should be prosecuted till the traitors love the Union and consent to the Emancipation and Reconstruction proclamations; that then the leading rebels should be hung, and the war cease; this resolution was quietly referred to the proper Committee. After debate on the Diplomatic Appropriation Bill the House adjourned till Monday, January 11.
At the close of our last Record the Army of the Potomac, after crossing the Rapidan and fighting the battle of Mine Run, had fallen back to nearly its old position. Grant's army, at Chattanooga, had fought the "Battle in the Clouds," and had driven Bragg away from the siege of Chattanooga. Bragg was then relieved from his command, which was temporarily assumed by Hardee, and subsequently given to Johnston. Longstreet, who had besieged Burnside at Knoxville, was, after severe fighting, forced to abandon the siege and fall back, pursued by our troops. Our advance came up with him on the 14th of December at Bean's Station. A sharp fight ensued; the result was that our advance retreated with some loss. The enemy say that they captured about 70 wagon loads of stores, and made two or three hundred prisoners. They acknowledge the loss of 800 men, killed and wounded. The general position in Virginia and Tennessee remains nearly the same as in our last Record. General Grant, in General Order, dated December 10, returns "his sincere thanks and congratulations to the brave armies of the Cumberland, the Ohio, the Tennessee, and their comrades from the Potomac, for the recent splendid and decisive successes achieved over the enemy. In a short time you have recovered from him the control of the Tennessee River from Bridgeport to Knoxville. You dislodged him from his great strong-hold upon Lookout Mountain, drove him from Chattanooga Valley, wrested from his determined grasp the possession of Missionary Ridge, repelled with heavy loss to him his repeated assaults upon Knoxville, forcing him to raise the siege there, driving him at all points, utterly routed and discomfited, beyond the limits of the State. By your noble heroism and determined courage you have most effectually defeated the plans of the enemy for regaining possession of the States of Kentucky and Tennessee. You have secured positions from which no rebellious power can drive or dislodge you."
An important error occurs in General Meigs's graphic description of the "Battle in the Clouds," before Chattanooga, quoted in our last Record. By a mistake of the telegraphic operator the name of General Thomas was substituted for that of General Sherman, in the paragraph describing the passage of the Tennessee and the seizing and fortifying of the position on Missionary Ridge. General Meigs, in a letter to Sherman, explains this. He says; "I wrote your name, and it was so sent to the telegraph-office." In our account (page 271), the name of "Sherman" should be substituted for "Thomas."
The most notable military incident of the month is a cavalry expedition, planned by General Kelley, who commands in Western Virginia, the object of which was to cut the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, the chief line of communication between the Confederate armies in Virginia and Tennessee. Several feigned movements were made, with the object of misleading the enemy. The command of the real expedition was given to General Averill. On the 8th of December he started from New Creek, near the Maryland border, with four mounted regiments and a battery, marching almost due south. On the 16th he struck the line of the railroad at Salem, and begun the work of destruction. The telegraphic wire was cut, three depots with a large amount of stores destroyed, and the track torn up, bridges and culverts destroyed for a space of 15 miles; this was the work of a few hours. The enemy, in the mean time, had learned of his position and operations, and sent out six separate commands to intercept him on his return. They took possession of every road through the mountains which was thought passable. One road, which crossed the tops of the Alleghanies, and was thought impracticable, remained. By this Averill made his escape, carrying off all his material with the exception of four caissons, which were burned. His entire loss in this raid was 6 men drowned in crossing a river, 4 wounded, and about 90 missing. He captured about 200 prisoners, but released all but 84, on account of their inability to walk. In his report General Averill says, "My march was retarded occasionally by the tempest in the icy mountains and the icy roads. I was obliged to swim my command and drag my artillery with ropes across Crog's Creek seven times in twenty-four hours. My horses have subsisted entirely upon a very poor country, and the officers and men have suffered cold, hunger, and fatigue with remarkable fortitude. My command has marched, climbed, slid, and swam 355 miles in 14 days."
The enemy, under General Early, by way of
412reprisal for Averill's raid, undertook a great expedition into Western Virginia, threatening the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and other important points. A dispatch from General Kelley, dated January 7, gives the result: The rebel force has retreated toward the Shenandoah Valley. The force was a formidable one, consisting of three brigades, under the command of General Fitzhugh Lee. The great raid has thus far resulted in a complete failure. An empty wagon train, returning from Petersburg, was captured by a portion of the enemy's forces. With this exception they have not, thus far, been able to inflict upon us any injury.
A detachment of 280 men, commanded by Major Beers, was attacked on the 3d of January at Jonesville, in Western Virginia, by a large Confederate force under General Sam Jones; after a desperate resistance, in which we lost 30 killed, and as many wounded, the remainder of the command were made prisoners.
The siege of Charleston still continues, but no very important advantage has been gained. The firing upon the city has been kept up, and considerable damage appears to have been inflicted. The "Monitor" Weehawken was sunk in a storm, in Charleston Harber, on the 6th of December, and about 30 of her crew went down with her. The vessel will be raised. Our latest intelligence comes down to the 7th of January. On that day General Gilmore had thrown twenty shells charged with Greek fire into the city; with what result was unknown. A week before, however, the same number had been fired, every one of which exploded within the city, causing an extensive conflagration. Heretofore, it is said, the shells charged with Greek fire have exploded before reaching their object. This fault is said to be remedied by a recent invention, by which the explosion takes place at the proper moment.
An expedition to Texas, planned by General Banks at New Orleans, has thus far proved highly successful. Our forces under Major-General Washburne seized the approaches to Matagorda. The garrison of Fort Esperanza, consisting of 1000 men, fled at the approach of our troops, first blowing up the magazines. A high gale prevented the co-operation of the gun-boats with the land-forces, or the enemy would probably have fallen into our hands. Ten guns were captured, ranging from 24 to 308 pounders. The command of Matagorda Bay substantially gives us the control of Central and Western Texas, and all the important points on the seacoast except Galveston. At the latest accounts our forces had gained further advantages, but the details are too indefinite to enable us to describe the precise operations. The Governor of the State says that Texas has furnished 90,000 troops to the army, while the highest vote of the State never reached 64,000. According to his estimates not more than 5000 or 6000 males between 16 and 60 are at home in the State. General Magruder recommends that all planters on navigable rivers or within 50 miles of the coast should send their able-bodied slaves into the interior. General Kirby Smith, the Confederate commander of the Department, has appointed a committee to impress for the Government half the cotton of the State, for which the planters are to be paid in bends. Any planter, upon delivering this half at any recognized depot, will receive a certificate exempting the remainder; if he attempts to remove any without such a certificate the whole will be liable to seizure; and if he offers or pays for transportation more than the sum paid by Government his certificate will be canceled.
It was supposed that arrangements had been made to secure an exchange of prisoners, man for man. General Butler, to whom the matter has been committed, sent 500 Southern prisoners, and an equal number of ours were sent back. The Confederate Government then refused any further exchange unless all the questions are given up about which our Government has been contending, and their laws in regard to officers and soldiers in negro regiments are recognized. They also refused to receive a flag of truce from General Butler, or to negotiate with him on the subject of exchange, on account of Mr. Davis's proclamation outlawing General Butler last year. They have also refused to receive any further supplies for our suffering prisoners.
The Confederate Congress has passed a Military bill, which enacts that "All musicians, privates, and non-commissioned officers now in the armies of the Confederate States, by virtue of volunteering, enlistment, or conscription into the military service of the Confederate States, be, and the same are hereby retained in the said service for and during the existing war with the United States, and no longer."
The new Confederate conscription bill provides that all white males between 16 and 55 shall be in the military service; that those between 16 and 18, and between 45 and 55, shall belong to the reserve; the remainder, that is, those between 18 and 45, to be in the field; as soon as those below 18 reach that age they are to be transferred from the reserve to the army in the field; persons liable to duty in the reserve, and failing to report, to be conscribed to the field; no person to be relieved from the operations of this law by reason of having been discharged from the army, unless physically disabled, or by having furnished a substitute.
Governor Clarke, of Mississippi, has issued a proclamation notifying all aliens between 18 and 45 to enlist or leave the State before the 1st of March. Those below or above the military age are liable to do militia duty the same as citizens.
The report of Mr. Memminger, the Confederate Secretary of the Treasury, presents a gloomy picture of Southern finances. The leading figures, stated in round millions, are these: From January 1 to September 30 the expenditures were 519 millions, of which 378 millions were for the War Department. The nominal receipts were 601 millions, of which taxes produced a little more than 4 millions, and customs a little less than 1 million. These 5 millions were all the real revenues of the Confederate Government, the remainder being paper, of one kind and another, issued by it. The entire public debt of the Confederacy, represented by its paper, is 800 millions, the amount of Confederate currency now in circulation, which Mr. Memminger considers to be five times the amount demanded by the wants of the South. The estimates for the present year bring this debt to 1427 millions. The consequence is that one dollar in Confederate currency is now worth from eight to ten cents. Mr. Memminger presents an elaberate scheme to remedy this evil; it is in effect simply a repudiation of the existing debt of the Confederacy, the holders of its notes being left to bear the loss.
The merchant steamer Chesapeake, plying between New York and Portland, left the former port on the 6th of December Nearly a score of
413persons in the service of the Confederate Government went aboard as passengers; when a few hours out of port they murdered one of the engineers, wounded the captain and some of the crew, and took possession of the vessel. As soon as tidings of this outrage arrived vessels were sent in pursuit. The Chesapeake was at length found, on the 17th of December, by our gun-boat Ellie and Annie, in Sambro Harber, near Halifax, Nova Scotia, into which, after dodging around, she had been taken by a British pilot. Upon being overhauled all of the pirates save three made their escape to the shore. The Chesapeake, with these three on board, was taken in possession. The capture having been made in British waters, the steamer and prisoners were given over to the British authorities. When the prisoners were landed and placed in the charge of the authorities they were rescued by a mob, and set at liberty. Subsequently several of the pirates were taken, and the whole case is in the hands of the British authorities. The following is the result thus far: The Admiralty Judge was of opinion that the vessel should be given up to her owners. The counsel for the Confederates asked him to contemplate the probability of an application for the vessel on the part of the Confederates, which the Judge said he would not do. The Advocate-General for the Crown also expressed his opinion that the vessel should be given up to the owners. The case is still open. — Several persons have been under examination, charged with rescuing the three prisoners from the hands of the police. The Mayor concluded that the case must be legally decided, and should be handed over to the Crown officers. The prisoners were required to give bail for their appearance before the Supreme Court.
An order has been issued by Government prohibiting any vessels from putting to sea from the port of New York until they, their crews, and passengers, have been examined by the authorities; all suspicious persons will be arrested, and the transmission of arms and munitions of war will be prevented. It is said that the existence of a considerable trade with the enemy in these articles has been discovered, and several arrests of prominent merchants on this account have been made. Several persons occupying important positions in the New York Custom-house have been implicated in these transactions. The alleged culprits have been arrested and sent to Fort Lafayette.
For many months a war has been going on between the States of Guatemala and Salvador, the advantages being on the side of the former, until General Barrios of Salvador was, about the close of September, shut up in the capital and closely besieged. The siege had lasted about a month, when Barrios resolved to cut his way through the beleaguering troops. The attempt was made with the small forces capable of action. Most of these were killed or captured during a long march through a hostile country; but the General with a few followers at last succeeded in reaching the coast, where he was received on board an American vessel, which conveyed him to Panama, whence he took passage for New York.
Troubles have broken out between Ecuador and the United States of Colombia, the precise grounds of which are obscure. In November the Ecuadorian General Flores marched into New Granada, and a naval expedition from Guayaquil, seized the small port of Tumaco. Mosquera, the President of Colombia, having gathered about 4000 men, attacked Flores with 6500 on the 6th of December, and routed him after a sharp action, killing and wounding, it is said, 1500, and taking 2000 prisoners.
Some months ago, as noted in our Record, the Spanish Government took formal possession of and "re-annexed" to Spain the republic of St. Domingo, the southern half of the island of Hayti. An insurrection against the Spaniards broke out not long after, and a desultory warfare has since been waged, the general result being in favor of the Spaniards. Present appearances indicate that this war is drawing to a close.
The reply of the Czar is cordial in terms, and professes a readiness to join in the scheme on certain conditions. "I should be happy," he writes, "if your Majesty's proposition lead to a loyal understanding between the sovereigns; but for this to be practically realized it can only proceed from the consent of the other Great Powers. It is indispensable for your Majesty to define the questions upon which an understanding should be arrived at,
414and the basis upon which it would be established." Now, as the Polish question is the leading one, it is assummed that the reply of Russia amounts to a refusal.
The King of Prussia is quite ready to take part in a Congress, but thinks that the Ministers of the different States should prepare the proposals to be submitted for consideration; but declares that the Treaties of Vienna must continue to form the foundation of the European political edifice. The reply is thoroughly non-committal.
The Emperor of Austria, in his reply, wished to know the programme of the deliberations. To this the Minister added a dispatch, insisting that the French Government should define its position with more distinctness; then the Austrian Government could decide upon the advantage of joining the Congress.
The Pope assents to the proposal, and declares that he shall "specially demand the re-establishment in Catholic countries of the real pre-eminence naturally appertaining to the Catholic religion as being the true faith." Spain, Italy, Denmark, and Greece assent to the proposal in the most unhesitating terms.
The King of the Belgians answers dubiously. "It would be desirable," he says, "if by the effect of a pacific agreement the existing causes of anxiety in Europe could be settled;" but gives no definite answer beyond declaring that his Government "would be quite inclined to join it, so far as it could do so." The Germanic Confederation, in its reply, lays down certain conditions precedent, and says that "it will be disposed," as a bedy, to respond to the invitation, and take part in the Congress, by sending a special Plenipotentiary, who would be there with the members of the Confederation who had received individual invitations.