November 29, 1861
For the Journal.
Letter from a McDonough Volunteer.
St. Joseph, MO., Nov. 23.
Messrs. Editors: For some time past I have had in contemplation a letter from this place to the Journal, but owing to causes unnecessary at present to name, I have been unable to complete it until now. Your intelligent readers will probably remember that after having left Quincy on the 12th of last June, for our field of action in Missouri, that I favored them occasionally with a few imperfect items of news relative to the travel and doings of the 16th Regiment in the land of “Dixie.” – Owing, however, to ill health during the first two or three weeks of our sojourn in Missouri, and being unfamiliar with military matters, I was compelled to suspend corresponding with you until the present. Now, however, having attained, during the summer’s travels, a somewhat extensive knowledge of military proceedings, by which I hope hereafter to interest your readers, I resume my correspondence with pleasure.
It would seem, from present indications, that we are permanently located at St. Joseph for the winter. General Todd, under whose command we now are, arrived in town, by the Hannibal and St. Joe R. R., on Wednesday night last, for the purpose, it is said, of making some disposition of the 16th, and it was generally believed that his decision would be that we were to remain during the winter at St. Joseph. I learn, however, to-day that he has agreed to leave the matter entirely to the will and pleasure of the commissioned officers of the Regiment, afterwards to be submitted to General Prentiss, as to whether we should winter at this place or at Hannibal, on the Mississippi. If it were left to a vote of the Regiment, as to which of these two places we prefer I doubt not but that the majority would be in favor of Hannibal. But on the contrary, if it is desired that we should take up winter quarters in western Missouri, ourselves and the citizens of the place could not be better satisfied than to let us remain here. Our Regiment came to this place about the first or middle of September, and during our stay, have undoubtedly made, among the Union men of the city, many close and intimate friends. Upon hearing of our expected removal from among them, I understand that a petition was put in circulation by the citizens asking that we should remain with them during the [. . .] informed, was extensively signed by both Union and “secesh” citizens. It is not to be denied, however, that we have many enemies in the place – enemies who would, if possible, cut our throats to rid themselves of our presence. Mr. Bruce, editor of the St. Joseph Journal, informs us in his issue of yesterday, that he has frequently heard them, while we were marching through the streets, apply the term “minion” to us. In the expression of these sentiments, they take very good care to speak so as not to be heard by the Regiment.
During the past week all kinds of rumors have been rife in the city to the effect that the returning rebels from Price’s army were collecting near us and contemplated an attack upon St. Joseph. The report undoubtedly started from some resident secession sympathizer, and was passed around through certain channels, and the Union men made to believe it. Our gallant Colonel, however, to prevent a surprise in case of an attack, ordered the different companies, who were quartering in various parts of the city, to move their quarters and rendezvous closer to our fortifications on “Telegraph Hill.” – The night of the contemplated attack at length arrived, but the “secesh,” counting the certainty of running against some of our “mountain howitzers,” (12 pounders) failed to visit us. It is currently reported in town that a certain Mr. Cundiff, an officer in Price’s army and formerly a resident here, is now in the county, and threatens to take St. Joseph for his winter quarters. We would be very much astonished if he should happen to be successful.
Our regiment has lately been visited by the U. S. pay-master, from whom we received two months pay, $26.00. – This makes in all $63.50 that we have received from “Uncle Sam” since entering into the service. The “boys” say “Uncle Sam” is a pretty good kind of a fellow, but that he won’t do to keep tavern. On the first day of the coming January we expect him to “fork over” again. He has also furnished us lately with some articles of warm clothing, which act of kindness we appreciate very much.
We have good easy times here – don’t work but little – have plenty to eat, and do just about as we please but we don’t get drunk. We drill from 2 to 5 p. m., and have “dress parade” at 6. This is about all the labor we are required to do, with the exception of cutting our own wood and cooking our own victuals.
Our drill exercise is conducted by our Maj. Samuel Hays. Of Pike. The “boys” declare that the Major has lately swallowed a copy of Hardee’s Tacticks, and judging from the manner in which he handles the regiment in the military machinations I should say they speak the truth. When he first entered our regiment at Quincy he was thought to be very poorly versed in military matters, but since coming to St. Joseph he has utterly dispelled this delusion, and proved beyond a doubt, that he not only understand military tactics, but that he knows how to inculcate it in others.
Ex-Gov. R. M. Stewart has been raising a regiment here, and I believe it is now completed, and as soon as equipped will be ready for service. – The ladies of the town made and presented him with a beautiful flag, which was accepted on the part of the Regiment by Maj. Jacob T. Child, in a neat and appropriate address, pledging to it the support and protection of the regiment.
Col. E. Peabody, who with his men were taken prisoners at the Lexington fight, is also in town endeavoring to raise a regiment to known as the 25th Missouri. The 13th Regiment Missouri Volunteers, commanded by him at Lexington has been released from the parole given by Gen. Price, and I believe the most of them are again flocking to his assistance.
If desired I will favor you, at some time convenient, with a description of St. Joseph and vicinity: and also of our fortifications on “Telegraph Hill.” – Till then I close.
Rev. Dr. Warren will deliver a Lecture in the Presbyterian Church, on Monday Dec. 2nd at 6 ½ o’clock p. m. Subject, “What Constitutes a Gentleman.” Admission 15 cts, or two fro 25 cts. The entire proceeds of this Lecture will be used by the Soldier’s Relief Society of this city, in purchasing materials for clothing the sick and wounded soldiers of the U. S. Army.
Cheap Boots & Shoes. – At Beard’s old stand, north side of the square, there is to be found the cheapest assortment of Boots and Shoes ever brought to Macomb. There is also to be found at the same place an excellent assortment of dry goods, which are offered at panic prices.
We are under obligations to Nicholson, the polite and attentive clerk in McMillen’s Drug Store, for a handsome present of perfumery. This Drug Store can boast of having the largest and finest stock of this class of goods ever brought to Macomb.
Hog Cholera: — This malady which is carrying off so many hogs in various parts of the State is raging with considerable voilence in portions of this county. We hear every day of farmers who are losing scores of their finest hogs. There id yet no adequate remedy known that will cure or prevent this fearful scourge among swine.
Killed. – A cow belonging to Mrs. Welch, living in the western part of the city, attempted to jump over a fence on the premises of Henry Twyman, and committed suicide in the attempt. It should be a warning to all cows to keep on their own premises.
The has to be fought out. – Macomb Eagle.
Let those who shall cause it fight it out. Let Democrats cultivate their fields, work at their benches, and pursue their usual business. – Macomb Eagle.
November 30, 1861
What shall be done with the runaway negroes that gather around our armies? The diplomacy of the day has styled these negroes, when belonging to rebel masters, as “contrabands of war,” and as such they are legitimate prizes. Property taken as contraband of war is considered at the disposal of the captors – to be used for their emolument or otherwise. In the wars between European nations negro property has never, that we are aware of, been among the spoils or trophies taken by one party from the other; but the law of nations will certainly apply to this species of property as well as to any other. Our Government, by declaring the slaves of rebels to be “contraband of war,” has recognized them as property, — as clearly and indisputably so as the horses, cattle, lands, guns, or gold and silver of the same rebels. Declaring property contraband is only a short way of confiscating it to the use of the Government; it dispenses with legal forms and the slow machinery of the courts, and converts at once the property seized to the use of the captors. – This is right. The rule is sanctioned by all civilized nations, and is sustained by the dictates of common justice. This power was exercised by the Continental Congress, and a law was enacted by that body which converted no small amount of property to the use of the government then struggling to establish its independence of Great Britain. – Our Government now proposes to convert the property of rebels to its own use, for the two-fold purpose of crippling the enemy and of augmenting its own resources. It has the undoubted right to make the most of such property. Indeed, common prudence, and a due regard for the interests of the people – who will be heavily burdened with taxes in any event – demand that the administration should make the most out of such confiscated or contraband property. There will be no infringement of the Constitution in so doing. Neither would it be in conflict with any State law or regulation. It will be productive of no violence to society and good order, either North or South. The plan is simple, plain, and constitutional, and if at once laid down, distinctly and broadly, would remove all doubt and uncertainty from the public mind, and satisfy the people of the South that they would not be cursed with a vagabond free negro population in their midst at the end of the war.
Cold Weather. – The weather last week turned suddenly cold, and has kept all outdoors at the freezing point ever since. Crooked creek is frozen over, except at places where the current is rapid. The ground is very dry, and unless rain or snow falls soon the winter wheat will be injured.
Messrs. Campbell & Walker want all the women in the country to know that they have a large assortment of cotton yarn, which they will sell as low as the blockade will permit.