Monthly Record of Current Events, December 7.
The President's Message, which was sent in on the 9th, is brief and emphatic, leaving the general details of affairs to be set forth in the Reports of the Heads of the Departments. Our foreign relations are eminently satisfactory. The British Government, as was justly expected, have exercised their authority to prevent the departure of new hostile expeditions from their ports. The Emperor of Franco has, by a like proceeding, promptly vindicated the neutrality which he proclaimed at the beginning of the contest. — Foreigners have in some cases become naturalized merely to avoid the duties imposed by the laws of their own countries, and then returning, claim the protection of this Government. The President suggests that it will be advisable to fix a limit beyond which no citizen of the United States residing abroad can claim the interposition of his Government. — It is urged that the fact of having voted shall be made by law an estoppel against any plea of exemption from military service, or other civil obligation, on the ground of alienage.
The financial condition of the country is favorable. The entire nominal receipts of the Treasury were $901,125,674, the disbursement $895,796,630. Of the receipts $69,059,642 came from customs, $37,640,787 from direct tax, $776,68-2,361 from loans, and the remainder from miscellaneous sources. But of these sums $181,086,635, both in payments and receipts, was merely nominal, money having been borrowed to pay funded and temporary debt to this amount. It was merely a transfer of debt from one account to another. Deducting this sum from both sides, the actual receipts were $720,039,039, and the actual expenditures $714,709,995 — leaving a balance of $5,329,044.
Our navy now consists of 588 vessels, completed, or in course of completion; of these 75 are iron-clad or armored steamers. Our armored vessels are believed to exceed in force and number those of any other power. They are reliable for harbor and coast defense; but others of greater strength and capacity will be required to maintain our rightful position on the ocean.
Of those who were slaves at the beginning of the rebellion 100,000 are in the service of the United States — half of them in the ranks. So far as tested they are as good soldiers as any. — In respect to the slaves and their future status, the message contains this emphatic paragraph:
The laws and proclamations [respecting slavery] were enacted and put forth for the purpose of aiding in the suppression of the rebellion. To give them their fullest effect there had to be a pledge for their maintenance. In my judgment they have aided, and will further aid, the cause for which they were intended. To abandon them now would be not only to relinquish a lever of power, but would also be a cruel and an astounding breach of faith. I may add at this point, that while I remain in my present position I shall not attempt to retract or modify the emancipation proclamation; nor shall I return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation, or by any of the acts of Congress.
The most important portion of the Message is the Proclamation of Amnesty, the leading paragraphs of which we give textually. After reciting that the Constitution empowers the President to grant reprieves and pardons; that a rebellion has long existed, and that laws have been passed and proclamations issued confiscating property and liberating slaves; and that now many persons engaged in the rebellion are desirous of returning to their allegiance,the Proclamation proceeds:
I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do proclaim, declare, and make known to all persons who have, directly or by implication, participaited in the existing rebellion, except as hereinafter excepted, that a full pardon is hereby granted to them and each of them, with restoration of all rights of property, except as to slaves, and in property cases where rights of third parties shall have intervened, and upon the condition that every such person shall take and subscribe an oath, and thenceforward keep and maintain said oath inviolate; and which oath shall be registered for permanent preservation, and shall be of the tenor and effect following, to wit:
"I do solemnly swear, in presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the union of the States thereunder; and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all nets of Congress passed during the existing rebellion with reference to slaves, so long and so far as not repealed, modified, or held void by Congress, or by decision of the Supreme Court; and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all proclamations of the President made during the existing rebellion having reference to slaves, so long and so far as not modified or declared void by decision of the Supreme Court. So help me God."
The persons excepted from the benefits of the foregoing provisions are all who are, or shall have been, civil or diplomatic officers or agents of the so-called Confederate Government; all who have left judicial stations under the United States to aid the rebellion; all who are, or shall have been, military or naval officers of said so-called Confederate Government above the rank of colonel in the army or of lieutenant in the navy; all who left seats in the United States Congress to aid the rebellion; all who resigned commissions in the army or navy of the United States, and afterward aided the rebellion; and all who have engaged in any way in treating colored persons, or white persona in charge of such, otherwise than lawfully as prisoners of war, and which persons may have been found in the United States service as soldiers, seamen, or in any other capacity.
And I do further proclaim, declare, and make known, that whenever, in any of the States of Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina, a number of persons, not less than one-tenth in number of the votes cast in such State at the Presidential election of the year of
our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty, each having taken the oath aforesaid anil not having since violated it, and being a qualified voter by the election law of the State existing immediately before the so-called act of secession, and excluding all others, shall re-establish a State Government which shall be republican, and in no wise contravening said oath, such shall be recognized as the true Government of the State, and the State shall receive there-under the benefits of the constitutional provision which declares that "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of Government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and, on application of the Legislature or the Executive (when the Legislature can not be convened), against domestic violence."
The Proclamation goes on to say that any provision which may be adopted by any State Government in relation to the freed people, which shall recognize their permanent freedom, and yet make proper arrangements for their present condition, will not be objected to by the Executive; that in constructing loyal State Governments, the former codes of laws should be changed as little as possible; that the Proclamation so far as relates to State Governments has no reference to States where loyal governments have been maintained; and that while it presents the best mode that the President can now suggest, it is not to be understood that no other possible mode would be acceptable.
Our record closing upon the 9th of December, we are compelled to defer to the next number a resume of the state of the nation as embodied in the official reports of the Heads of the Departments.
The Army of the Potomac has made another brief advance across the Rappahannock and has returned again to its old position on the north bank of that river. If the object of this movement was to occupy the army of Lee so as to prevent further reinforcements from being sent to the vital points in Tennessee it was successful; if the design was to give a decisive battle in Virginia or to advance upon Richmond, it was a failure. The general movement was commenced on the 7th of November, when two corps under Generals Sedgwick and French crossed the Rappahannock at different points in the neighborhood of Fredericksburg. Near Rappahannock Station, upon the north side of the river Sedgwick fell apparently by surprise upon a detachment of the enemy strongly posted, after a short but sharp action these were driven from their intrenchments, and being unable to cross the river were captured. Besides the killed and wounded, about 2000 prisoners were taken, our loss in killed and wounded being about 300. General French at the same time fell upon a body of the enemy at Kelley's Ford, a little lower down, and routed them, making prisoners of about 400, himself losing in the action about 70 killed and wounded. The main body of the enemy then fell across the Rapidan, and a series of skirmishes between outposts and bodies of cavalry ensued during the next fortnight. At length between the 25th and the 27th the army severing its communications with Washington crossed the Rapidan in three columns, without very serious opposition, the enemy after some skirmishing falling back to positions which they had strongly fortified in "the Wilderness" in the neighborhood of Chancellorsville where Hooker's battle had been fought. No official details of the proceedings of the ensuing six days have been published, and we have only the partial reports of newspaper correspondents. On the 27th a sharp engagement took place at Locust Grove between the corps of French, Warren, and Sedgwick, and the enemy, who were repulsed and fell back to the 29th were passed in manoeuvring for the purpose of ascertaining the position of the enemy, and gaining, if possible, advantageous positions for an assault upon his lines. At a council of war on the night of the 29th it was determined to make the assault the next day. It was accordingly commenced on our right and centre, and at those points bid fair to be successful, when it was announced from headquarters that the main attack upon the left would not be made, and our troops already engaged were withdrawn, and on the 2d of December our army recrossed the Rapidan. The following is the substance of the "Press dispatches," which having been submitted to Government censorship, may be presumed to be essentially correct: The army crossed on the 26th, and concentrated next day on Mine Run, the enemy being strongly intrenched on the opposite side, in a position too strong to be carried by assault. The nature of the country was such as to prevent extended operations for turning the works, arising especially from the impossibility of keeping up the supplies for our army at such a distance from its depots. During and after the partial assault of the 2d General Meade visited the entire line, noting the enemy's strong positions, batteries, and earthworks, and after consultation with his officers deemed it advisable to withdraw to the north side of the Rapidan. This was accomplished without loss of men or munitions. The entire casualties of this expedition, ill killed, wounded, and missing, are estimated at about 1000. The loss of the enemy is unknown. Present appearances indicate that the autumn campaign of the Army of the Potomac is concluded, and that it will go into winter-quarters.
During the same week in which this unsuccessful expedition across the Rapidan was carried on our armies in Tennessee were achieving a most brilliant success. The great army of Grant at and about Chattanooga was in great peril. Its communications were so long and difficult that supplies were scanty and precarious. The brilliant operations of October 27, noted in our last Record, had partially removed this difficulty; but the enemy, contrary to the reports of the time, still held the commanding position of Lookout Mountain. Burnside also, near Knoxville, was for the time completely isolated, and liable to be overwhelmed by a strong advance. Bragg dispatched a heavy body, under Longstreet, to cut off Burnside. On the 14th of November, Longstreet crossed the Tennessee and found Burnside at Lenoir, a few miles southwest of Knoxville. Buruside, opposed by superior forces, fell slowly back, repelling every assault of the enemy, and finally reached Knoxville on the 17th, where he was for a while closely besieged by Longstreet. Here, as at Chattanooga, the question was mainly one of supplies, for Knoxville could be held as long as provisions could be obtained. The fighting was therefore mainly for the purpose of gaining or holding the lines of communication. This went on for something more than two weeks, when news came to Longstreet from Chattanooga which compelled him to raise the siege of Knoxville, and to retreat if he wished to avoid capture himself. Bragg had been routed at Chattanooga by Grant, and Sherman, who had been sent to succor Burnside, had reached Knoxville, his cavalry arriving on the 3d of December, and the main body of reinforcements within a day or two after. Our latest intelligence, coming through Confederate channels, says that Longstreet is retreating to Virginia, followed up by our troops, with what result we are still to learn.
The news from Chattanooga, which must have reached Knoxville, Richmond, and Washington about the same time, was of high import. Probably the best account of the battles near Chattanooga is contained in an official report of Quarter-master-General Meigs, of which we present the essential points. This spirited description furnishes a clear idea of the great series of operations. At half an hour before noon on the 23d of November General Grant ordered a demonstration against Missionary Ridge. The troops formed in order as regularly as though on parade. The enemy, posted five hundred feet above, supposed the movement to be only a review and drill, so regularly was it performed. The line advanced, preceded by skirmishers, and at two o'clock reached the pickets of the enemy, who fell back into their rifle-pits; after them went our skirmishers, along the centre of our line of 25,000 troops which Thomas had quickly displayed. The enemy were fairly surprised in open daylight. At three o'clock Orchard Knob and the lines right and left were in our possession. The next morning at daylight Thomas had 5000 men across the Tennessee, and had commenced the construction of a pontoon bridge about six miles above Chattanooga. A steamer which had been captured from the enemy and brought into service took over 6000 men. By night Thomas had seized the extremity of Missionary Ridge, and was intrenching himself. Howard had opened communication with him from Chattanooga on the south side of the river. There had been skirmishing and cannonading all day on the left and centre. Hooker scaled the slopes of Lookout Mountain, drove out the enemy, captured 2000 prisoners, and established himself on the mountainside in full view of Chattanooga. This was one of the most brilliant achievements in military history. The day had been misty and rainy, and much of the battle had been fought above the clouds which hid the combatants from the view of those who were watching them from below. The sky cleared up during the night, and on the morning of the 25th the Stars and Stripes were descried on the peak of Lookout. The enemy had evacuated their threatening position, and daylight showed them along the narrow summit of Missionary Ridge, but whether to retreat and raise the siege or to concentrate on. our right could not then be known. All that day the cannonade was continued across the valley from Orchard Knob to Missionary Ridge, right over the heads of Grant and Thomas, who, with their staffs, watched tho fight from the valley beneath. Our head-quarters were under fire all day long. At last Sherman made a vigorous assault on Bragg's right, strongly intrenched upon a high knob. The crest was gained, and held for a time; but the enemy, bringing up all his reserves, drove us back. But to do this he had weakened himself every where else; this one apparent gain was his ruin. Our whole line was pushed forward; the heights were carried; our troops swarmed up from every quarter, and swept the ridge. Bragg rode off to the rear of his flying columns, while Grant was ascending on the other side. The siege of Chattanooga was raised. Only a few days before Bragg had sent to Grant a flag of truce, advising him to send all non-combatants from Chattanooga. The battle-field of these days extended for six miles along Missionary Ridge, and for quite as many on Lookout Mountain. "Probably," says General Meigs, "not so well-directed and so well-ordered a battle has been delivered during the war. But one assault was repulsed but that assault, by calling to that point the rebel reserves, prevented them from repulsing any of the others." That the victory was complete and decisive is acknowledged by the enemy; and we are told that Bragg, notwithstanding the constant support of Jefferson Davis, has been "relieved" from his command. Some 6000 prisoners, and about fifty guns captured, are our net gains in this battle, or rather series of battles. Our own losses in killed and wounded are put down at about 4000.
Following the reception of the intelligence from Eastern Tennessee, President Lincoln issued on the 7th of December a recommendation that, "trustworthy information being received that the insurgent force is retreating from East Tennessee, under circumstances rendering it probable that the Union forces can not hereafter be dislodged from that important position," the people are urged to assemble at their places of worship, and render special homage and gratitude to Almighty God for this great advancement of the national cause.
An expedition to Texas has been undertaken from New Orleans by General Banks. Details of this have not come to hand; but a brief dispatch from General Banks, dated November 9, says, "I am in occupation of Brazos Island, Point Isabel, and Brownsville. My most sanguine expectations are more than realized. Every thing is now as favorable as could be desired."
272them, or tends to overturn them, almost everywhere." Let then a Congress of all the European Powers assemble to substitute for a diseased and precarious condition a stable and regular situation. Even should the proposition not be unanimously agreed to, it would have indicated to Europe wherein lies danger, and wherein safety. "Two paths," concludes Napoleon, "are open. The one conducts to progress by conciliation and peace; the other, sooner or later, leads fatally to war by the obstinate maintenance of a past which is rolling away." — In accordance with the ideas expressed in this speech Napoleon addressed a letter, dated November 4, to fifteen European sovereigns, inviting them to assemble, personally or by their representatives, in Paris. The following are the significant paragraphs in this invitation: "The political edifice of Europe now rests upon the basis of the treaties of 1815, and yet it is crumbling on all sides. On almost all points the treaties of Vienna are destroyed, modified, disowned, or menaced. Hence duties without regulation, rights without title, and pretensions without restraint — danger the more to be dreaded, inasmuch as the improvements produced by civilization, which has united peoples one with another by the reciprocity of mutual interests, would make war still more destructive. Let us not wait in order to come to a resolution till sudden and irresistible events disturb our judgment and draw us in spite of ourselves into opposite directions. I propose to you to regulate the present and secure the future in a Congress. Called to the throne by Providence and the will of the French people, but trained in the school of adversity, it is perhaps less allowable for me than another to ignore the rights of sovereigns and the legitimate aspirations of peoples. As I am a sovereign to whom the most ambitious projects are attributed, I have it at heart to prove by this frank and loyal step that my sole object is to arrive without a shock at the pacification of Europe." — What the answer of the European Powers to this invitation will be, it is yet too early to say with certainty. The present indications are that Russia will decline peremptorily; that the other great powers will hesitate and demand explanations; and that if the Congress meets it will be composed mainly of the minor sovereigns.
In the mean while another disturbing element has been thrown into European politics: Frederick VII., King of Denmark, died on the 8th of October, and his decease threatens to occasion a European war, The kingdom consists of two distinct portions, Denmark proper and certain German duchies, the-most important of which are Schleswig and Holstein. In Denmark, by old laws, the crown could be inherited by females; in the duchies by males only. The people of the duchies, German by position and race, wish to be separate from Denmark, and to belong to the German Confederation. The extinction of the male line of the Danish kings in the person of Frederick, which was considered certain, would have brought about this separation, just as the death of William IV separated Great Britain and Hanover, Victoria, according to English law, succeeding to the throne of the former, while the crown of the latter passed in the male line. To prevent such a separation the predecessor of Frederick issued a decree that the Danish law of succession should also prevail in the duchies. Frederick ascended the throne in the revolutionary year 1848. The duchies rose against him, and called upon Germany for aid. This was granted, the Germans being especially desirous of gaining the fine port of Kiel, which is in the duchies. A war ensued, which was finally ended by the interposition of England and Russia, who succeeded in inducing the Danish Parliament to pass a law settling the succession, in the event of Frederick dying without heirs, upon Prince Christian, a member of the younger branch of the house of Augustineburg, passing over the elder branch, who were the legitimate heirs. The reason of this was that Christian was devoted to Danish interests, while the other branch were in favor of the German side. Christian is the father-in-law of the Prince of Wales. Upon the recent death of Frederick, Christian was proclaimed King of Denmark; but the duchies declared that they had never consented to the law vesting the succession in him, and proclaimed Frederick, the head of the elder branch of the family, as Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, and he has been recognized as such by some of the minor German Powers; but Austria and Prussia have not as yet pronounced. the new King of Denmark is, preparing to enforce his claims upon the duchies; while these, counting upon the support of Germany, are preparing to resist.