Monthly Record of Current Events, October 7.
The expedition into Arkansas appears to have met with uninterrupted success. The telegraphic reports of the various encounters are so confused that we must await the full official reports before endeavoring to detail them. The essential point of the campaign is contained in a dispatch of September 10, from General Steele, dated at Little Rock, the capital, stating our forces had just entered the place,
847from which the enemy had retired without fighting, and that they were in full retreat southward, pursued by our cavalry under General Davidson. General Blunt issued a proclamation to inhabitants of Western Arkansas, informing them that the occupation of the country by him in force would be permanent, and advising them to organize a civil government.
An unsuccessful expedition has been undertaken toward the frontiers of Texas. The object was to occupy Sabine City, situated on the Texas bank of the Sabine River, the boundary between Louisiana and Texas. This place is important as a base of operations against Western Louisiana or Eastern and Central Texas. The expedition, under General Franklin, left New Orleans on the 4th of September, and reached Sabine Pass, nearly 300 miles from the mouths of the Mississippi, on the evening of the 8th. Accompanying the land-force were four light gunboats, the Clifton, Arizona, Granite, City, and Sachem. The plan of the action was that these should silence the batteries and cover the landing of the troops. But upon reaching the place designated for the landing it was found to be impossible to land the troops, owing to the shallowness of the water and the marshy nature of the shore. The attack then devolved wholly upon the gun-boats. Late in the afternoon the attack was opened. The vessels fired upon the forts, eliciting no response until they had reached point-blank distance, when a hot fire was opened upon them. The Sachem endeavored to pass the front of the batteries, and engage them in the rear, which was supposed to be unprotected; she had got almost out of the range of the enemy's guns when a shot struck her amidships, crushing in her side, piercing her boiler, and utterly disabling her. The flag was lowered, and she became a prize to the enemy, who now turned their whole fire upon the Clifton, which was also endeavoring to pass the front of the batteries. She had almost succeeded in turning the point of danger when, in rounding a turn, she plunged into the soft mud of the shore and became immovable, exposed to a galling fire, which was vigorously returned, until a shot from the enemy's battery passing through her side and penetrating her boiler left her, like her consort, a helpless wreck, fast aground. Her flag was struck, and she also became a prize to the enemy. The Arizona, whose draft was too great to enable her to take en active part in the operations in the shallow waters, was withdrawn, and the attempt was abandoned. We lost the two gun-boats, with all their crews, besides about a hundred soldiers who were on board as sharp-shooters.
The siege of Charleston is still carried on. Fort Wagner, and Battery Gregg, on Morris Island, so long held by the enemy, fell into our hands on the 7th of September. General Gilmore, in a dispatch of that day, writes to the General-in-Chief that "last night our sappers crowned the crest of the counterscarp of Fort Wagner on its sea front, masking all its guns, and an order was issued to carry the place by assault at nine o'clock this morning, that being the hour of low tide. About ten o'clock last night the enemy commenced evacuating the island, and all but 75 of them made their escape in small boats. Fort Wagner is a work of the most formidable kind. Its bomb-proof shelter, capable of holding 1800 men, remains intact after the most terrible bombardment to which any work was ever subjected. We have captured 19 pieces of artillery and a large supply of excellent ammunition. The city and harbor of Charleston are now completely covered by my guns." — Fort Sumter, however, which appeared to have been completely ruined by our fire, and rendered useless for offensive purposes, remains in the hands of the enemy. On the afternoon of the 8th a naval boat expedition was dispatched to take possession of what was supposed to be the abandoned ruins of the fort. It was found to be still held by a considerable force, while the walls, though in ruins, were so steep as to prevent scaling. The dispatch of General Beauregard gives the result of the undertaking. He says: "Thirty of the launches of the enemy attacked Fort Sumter. Preparations had been made for the event. At a concerted signal all the batteries bearing upon Sumter, assisted by one gun-boat and a ram, were thrown open. The enemy was repulsed, leaving upon our hands 113 prisoners, including 13 officers. We also took four boats and three colors." — During the four weeks that have passed since the capture of Wagner the operations of the besiegers of Charleston have been confined to the strengthening of the works on Morris Island. This has been carried on under a vigorous fire from the enemy's batteries; but the direct bombardment of Charleston has not as yet been resumed.
Of the Army of the Potomac there is no intelligence of sufficient importance to be placed upon record. We only know that our forces under Meade, and those of the enemy under Lee, confront each other upon the Rappahannock; that encounters which a few months ago would have been called battles, but which are now classed merely as skirmishes, have occurred. Of these, and of their hearing upon the campaign, it is yet too early to speak.
On the 15th of September the President issued a proclamation suspending the force of the writ of habeas corpus in all cases wherein by the authority of the President military, naval, and civil officers of the United States hold persons in custody, as prisoners of war, spies, abettors of the enemy, persons drafted, enrolled, or enlisted as soldiers or seamen, or in any way amenable to military law. This suspension of the writ of habeas corpus is to continue "throughout the duration of this rebellion, or until this proclamation shall by a subsequent one, to be issued by the President of the United States, be modified or revoked." The issue of this proclamation was rendered necessary by the action of certain disloyal judges, mainly in the city of New York, who had endeavored to pervert the privileges secured by the writ to the advantage of the enemies of the country.
In Missouri, especially in the border counties, affairs are in a very disturbed condition. The whole region is ravaged by bands of guerrillas. On the 1st of September a mass meeting was held at Jefferson City, which appointed a large committee to wait upon the President and lay before him the situation of the State. This committee, 70 in number, proceeded to Washington, and on the 30th of September presented a long address to the President. They claim to represent a large majority of the people of the State. They say that those whom they represent demand the immediate abolition of slavery in Missouri, for in this institution they find the cause of the evils which for more than three years have afflicted the country. They are opposed by a party styling itself Conservative, which comprises all the disloyal men in the State, and all the enemies of the present National Administration. They claim that the late ordinance for gradual emancipation was the act of a convention under the control of this party, not
848representing the sentiments of the people. They affirm that the course of Governor Gamble is directly disloyal, and that in organizing the militia of the State he gives every possible countenance to disloyal men. They affirm also that General Schofield, the commanding General of the Department, acts wholly in accordance with the Governor; and declare that "from the day of his accession to the command of the Department matters have grown worse and worse in Missouri, till now they are in a more terrible condition than they have been at any time since the outbreak of the rebellion. This could not be if General Schofield had administered the affairs of that Department with proper vigor, and with a resolute purpose to sustain loyalty and suppress disloyalty." They therefore ask that General Schofield be removed, and General Butler be appointed in his place; and also that the State militia, enrolled by the Governor, be discharged from service, and the military control of the State be restored to the national officers and troops. — On the 2d of October a public meeting was held at New York, at which speeches were made by various members of the Missouri Committee to the same general purport as their address to the President. — We are not yet in a position to pronounce absolutely how far the statements of this body are borne out by the actual facts of the case.
Five Russian vessels of war are now lying in the harbor of New York, the first which have ever visited our ports. They have been received with a cordial greeting. On the 1st of October the officers were publicly welcomed bv the authorities of the city. In the present position of European politics the presence of these vessels in our ports has a special significance. During the late Crimean war the Russian fleet was closely shut up at Cronstadt and in the Black Sea, and was unable to render any effective service. The Russians have now quite an effective naval force in the open seas. The experience of the Alabama and Florida shows how much damage may be effected by one or two armed vessels upon the commerce of an enemy. Should a war break out, as still seems most probable, between Russia and France and England, the example set by the English Government will afford a precedent for our dealings with the belligerents. The Russian vessels now at large, with such aid as we can give, in precise accordance with the course of the English Government toward us, could, render the commerce of England insecure.
The position of the French Emperor in regard to American affairs still remains wholly dubious. There are continual reports that he is upon the point not only of recognizing the Confederate States, but of entering into an armed alliance with them for the purpose of breaking our blockade. And as the French press is wholly under Government surveillance, these unofficial statements are not without plausibility. The Florida also has been permitted to enter the port of Brest, and remain there for repairs. The true explanation we presume to be, that the Emperor has not yet decided upon his course, and is simply waiting to see the issue of events.
The Polish question presents no new aspects. Diplomatic correspondence between the various powers is still carried on. The essential points being that the Russian Emperor, while resolved, to do all in his power for the pacification of Poland, refuses to recognize the right of the Western Powers to interfere in the internal affairs of the Empire. In the mean time the Russian Government, is evidently making arrangements which look to the probability of a war. Iron-clad vessels with turrets, not unlike our Monitors, are building at St. Petersburg. These, as our experience has shown, would be amply sufficient to keep the Baltic clear of any naval force which could be employed in that sea by France and England; and there are reports of extensive military and naval preparations going on in the region of the Amoor. A few swift steamers in this quarter could embarrass, if not destroy, the great English commerce with China, India, and Australia.
The report is confirmed that the Archduke Maximilian of Austria has finally decided to accept the Imperial crown of Mexico, renouncing his rights and prerogatives as the nearest collateral prince to the throne of Austria. If such a step is taken, it implies a positive assurance that all the great European Powers will recognize the new empire.