December 26 and 27, 1862

Macomb Journal
December 26, 1862

The News.

            The news of the past week is of the most exciting character and anything but cheering to loyal people.  In another column we give an account of the taking of Holly Springs.  It seems that our troops were completely taken by surprise, and the whole garrison captured.  The 28th Illinois was at this point the last that was heard from them, and was probably among the captured Regiments.

An attack is also being expected upon Columbus, but it is thought that the federal force there is amply sufficient to meet any force that is likely to be sent against them.

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The Disaster at Fredericksburg.

            In another column of to-day’s paper we publish a full account of the late battle at Fredericksburg.  Enough is now known of that battle to justify us in characterizing it as a terrible defeat to the Union arms – in fact one of the worst disasters that has happened since the war began.  Congress has appointed a committee to investigate the matter and we doubt not they will place the responsibility where it rightly belongs.

We also publish Gen. Burnside’s official report in which he honestly tells the people the extent of the disaster, and boldly takes upon himself the responsibility of the whole matter.

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A Word to Our Correspondents.

            We are always glad to receive letters from our friends for publication in the Journal, and have often urged our readers to send us items of interest that may occur from time to time.  But of late we have been unable to publish one-tenth part of the correspondence written for the Journal, and for the reason that the Journal is not large enough to hold it if we should leave out everything else.  We speak of this that our friends may not get the idea that their productions are neglected from choice.  For instance, since the last issue of the Journal we have received as many as five long letters from the army, some of them three columns in length, and a long obituary notice that would make another column.  In fact the letters sent for publication in one week would fill the paper entirely full to the exclusion of everything else. – Under these circumstances the best we can do is to select those that will be of the most interest to our readers generally, and leave the balance out.

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→ An effort is being made in Peoria to establish a paper mill there.

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Save Your Rags.

            The great increase in the price of all kinds of paper, is in a great measure owing to the diversion of cotton rags to other purposes.  For instance the high price of cotton has induced the use of cotton rags through a peculiar process in the manufacture of cotton goods, and consequently a scarcity for the manufacture of paper results.  In view of these things every family ought to save every scrap of cloth that will answer to make paper.  Rags are now commanding a high price in the market and the want of them is getting to be a serious evil.  We have no doubt that hundreds of dollars worth of this article is wasted in this county every year.  Let the ladies take hold of this matter and resolve to save all the refuse rags for a year to come, and we will warrant that they will be surprised at the amount.  We will take rags in exchange for the Journal, and give the highest market price.  What easier way can be devised to pay for a good family paper than this.  Ladies think of this.

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→ The celebrated and long-pending Rock Island Bridge case is now being argued before the U.S. Supreme Court at Washington.

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Blowing Up of the Gunboat Cairo.

            We have already announced that the Cairo, the flag-boat of the expedition, commanded by Capt. Hazlitt, and mounted thirteen guns, was blown up on Friday while engaged with the Pittsburg, Marmora, Signal, and Queen of the West, in removing torpedoes from the Yazoo river.  One of the infernal machines that had not been noticed exploded with a loud report just under the port bow of the Cairo, tearing a hole twenty feet long in her hull, and throwing all on board violently down.  A ram being near took off the officers and crew, 168 in number six of whom were [. . . obscured . . . ] Four officers saved their baggage, everything else was lost.  The Cairo was one of the lightest and swiftest boats of the fleet, and had just been improved by a covering of railroad iron around here forward part.

Five torpedoes have been taken up eleven above the mouth of the Yazoo, and the Haines’ Bluff the rebels have a battery of four or five guns.  The whole expedition was at the mouth of the Yazoo when the news of the disaster was sent to Cairo. – Chicago Journal.

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→ Christmas, 6 o’clock P. M., the rain still pours down in torrents – in fact it is decidedly wet, if not wetter.

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From the 84th Regiment.

Camp near Nashville, Tenn.,
December 13, 1862.

            Ed. Journal: I don’t want to acquire the name of “correspondent,” but leisure hours in camp must some way be employed.  Events in camp transpire slowly and but little is there to record, which you have not heard already.  No battle yet, but every day some part of this army has a little skrimmage with the enemy, as Irish Charley says. – You have heard of the Hartsville affair involving the disgraceful surrender of a brigade.  But one thing relieves the affair of its most humiliating feature to me, and that is the gallant conduct of an Illinois regiment who done all the fighting, yet had to surrender.  The brigade was completely surprised, and the enemy were upon them in their camps.  The pickets in the meantime giving no signal of their approach. – Since I last wrote our regiment has been on picket, a dangerous duty, [obscured] one liked by all the soldiers.  The excitement that impending danger produces, coupled with the desire of the soldier, to add strange things to the store already in his haversack, which picketing is the most favorable place in the army for him to obtain, makes the boys always ready to go.  When one company relieved the company doing picket duty where we were to be stationed, the inquiry is not, “Is the enemy in front?” but that other sentence dear to every American “What are the symptoms of pork?”  While there, about 2 miles from where we were a skirmish took place, in which the Colonel of the 35th Ind., was mortally wounded, and the Adjutant killed.  From what I gathered, we were worsted in the fight.  Quiet is the order now, but the present calm is not for nothing.  In my humble opinion it is the knotting of the fist, that shall deal to secessia a most terrible, withering blow.  Sickness in camp if anything increases, and our company numbering 90 in its organization has but about 25 in all who are reported for duty.  Boys consume their time in camp by consuming their victuals and pills.  By the way whether directed by the army regulations or not our Dr.’s prescribe pills of calibre 62, our guns being but 58.  These in plentiful supplies with hard bread of the vintage of 1 B.C. keep the boys in a healthy condition.  Soldiers would have better health if they could change their diet once in a while, but if they attempt to, they are put under arrest by Generals who say “that the pillaging must be done exclusively by the Dr.’s.”  But still Uncle Sam by his efforts to please us has given the [obscured]  Beside the regular detail of food, we have dessecated vegetables or in other words, Guano, dried and pressed.  A haversack full of it, when boiled out will cultivate and keep in good condition a quarter section of land for years.  A lamentable instance occurred in our regiment from its premature use.  A soldier thought it was good to eat in its pressed dry state, and he accordingly ate a whole cake 10 by 12 inches in size, and of course drank a quantity of water, and while we were all sitting together on our company grounds we saw him go up in the air, head one way, and another, leg obliqueing to the right, shoulder, spine and hand or two filing left, while what we took to be a big hay stack going directly up, still expanding, by reason of the sun’s rays.  The boys were frightened, but presently one of them who had been gazing on the sudden disappearance of a human being broke out in the following lamentable strain: “Oh! Ed Rall here goes yu’re purp,” while all the rest chimed in with the melancholy chorus: “And a five cent sutler check foolishly spent.”  The haystack at last lighted in an adjoining camp which we found to be the cake (just moistened) that the soldier had eaten.  John M. Palmer, an Illinois General, commands us now; which pleases us greatly.  Gen. Smith takes command of Nashville.  We have heard that Thomas Whitehead, a Sergeant of our company, was desperately ill, and from all the information that we can gather are unanimous in the opinion that he is dead.  He took sick last Saturday and was taken to a hospital in Gallatin, Tenn., where on Wednesday night last he lay insensible and speechless on the verge of death, given up by the Doctor.  Corporal Green was his faithful attendant until then, when he was compelled to leave.  Who does not remember him?  Company A never can forget him.  The life of the company has departed.  A constant companion of his, I knew him thoroughly.  Brave, generous, true and faithful, he dies in a hospital among strangers. – Suddenly and most shockingly has co. A received the news.  If death were to come to him, why was it not in battle where glory and honor awaited him? – His remains will be cared for by the boys, and with bitter tears, will be kept in rememberance.  Peace to thy ashes, Tom!  We will be benefitted by the noble example of your life, and if we should return to our homes once more as we march down the future years, to our final halt, we will ever remember you, and cherish your memory!  But there are many more in this as well as every other regiment, who will follow him, though they may have to go through more hospitals than he did. – There may be exceptions but the name of hospital is almost a synonym with “Destruction,” or “the charnel house of death,” and I would infinitely prefer no cure or attention to that afforded by hospitals.

The soldiers are sent there sick and brought away, if at all, worse off than when they went.  It is not very consoling for a soldier to know that he is to be sent to the hospital.  All would rather chance the dangers of a battle, than to brave the subtle dangers of the hospital.  Have your readers ever thought [tear] in real hard earnest?  [Tear] ing our camps [Tear] him as he really is, stripping [Tear] reality.  War [Tear] action and death, and a [Tear] every moment his life the most precious thing to him of all.  He endures his hard marches day after day, coarse fare, his exile from home and friends, is restrained of his liberty, and the power to go where he pleases, is deprived of his individuality, has to obey superiors, though dolts, has to confront dangers of battle, is poorly paid, especially where they have families, and above all is to stand, ready with his soul in his hand, at all times and places to fight, win victories, and hazard defeats.  At night he has no sure lein on his bed till morning, and every breath he draws he, he breathes as though it were mortgaged to the enemy.  Could you be in camp and see the sick comprising every grade of sufferers, with their languishing eyes turned homeward as though a constant looking would bring absent friends. – You would be more fervid in your desires to terminate this struggle, and either be intensely loyal or the reverse strongly.  Soldiering I think is the most arduous task imposed on man.  Would that it were a thing of the past!  Tonight I guess I am the last one up in camp, no lights, but the one I use, are visible.  Snores are heard from a dozen tents, while all over the camp is heard the cough from a deep bass ascending three or four octaves with an occasional chorus of “New York” chiming in.  Occasionally I hear the guard halting some one and then silence reigns for a while in Warsaw.  The fires [obscured] on every side as though they were the breathing holes of hell, and then again on some lofty hill they nestle among a group of stars, vainly striving to be of their number.  I wish the readers of your paper could see an army camp after night with its untold fires which the soldiers daily and nightly keep burning.  It is suggestive to me of many things.  Perhaps “the city of Death,” I have thought it to be more often than anything else.  The mists of night distorts objects seen at a distance by the camp fires, and it looks as though famine, pestilence and plague flitted even and anon before the flickering blaze, while over camp the dark smoke that overhung loomed up as the dark angel of death, the presiding genius of the place, flapping his broad wings of destruction.  I hear to-night an occasional shot way off in the distance from musket and cannon, but it nightly occurs and it startles none.  If you want to know what tries a man’s nerves and some the sole of his feet let me invite you in the first place to a bayonet charge, and if you are not entirely satisfied, why they gay charms of a night attack are still left in reserve to satiate your appetite upon.  Phancy a man’s phelings to wake out of a refreshing sleep to find the thing they call “real death” filing right and left through camp, with no body to halt it.

J. G. Waters.

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Good Templar’s Convention.

            The Good Templars of McDonough County, are hereby notified that there will be a County Convention held at Colchester, commencing on the 20th of January, 1863.

All Third Degree Templars are earnestly invited to attend.

L. E. Welch, G.W.D.M.

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Christmas. – Christmas morning was ushered in by a heavy thunder shower, accompanied by torrents of rain.  The mud was deep – very – deep.  If we could have found a pole long enough we would have measured it, and given an exact report.  During the morning, the old Machine Shop, north of the Presbyterian Church, was struck by lightning and the gable end demolished.

At this writing, (10 o’clock a.m.,) it is so dark that many of the stores have their lamps burning.  All this, however, don’t prevent the boys from [???]ying themselves, as appears from the numerous reports of fire arms both large [????] and big.

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→ The Tableau Exhibition at Campbell’s Hall on Christmas Eve, was a perfect success.  The Hall was crowded to its utmost capacity.  The ladies and gentlemen concerned in the exhibition did themselves great credit, and were heartily applauded by the large audience.  The singing of the Star Spangled Banner, by Miss Ciara Baker and G. W. Bailey, was A No. 1, as also was the instrumental music, by Miss [obscured].  We have learned the amount realized for the poor, but it must have been a handsome sum.

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Macomb Eagle
December 27, 1862

Special Notice to Subscribers.

            We do not often dun our subscribers for money, preferring to believe that the sense of honor inherent in all Democrats will prompt them to make regular payment of their respective dues.  While this has proved satisfactory generally, we find there are the names of a few persons on our books who have received the Eagle for years without payment therefor.  While printing paper was comparatively cheap we could endure this; but since printing paper has doubled in price we can not stand it any longer.  Subscribers who are owing for one year or more must make payment at once, or we shall stop sending them our paper.  If not convenient to come to town, send by mail at our risk one, two, or three dollars, as you may think you owe us.  This must not be forgotten nor neglected.

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The Defeat at Fredericksburg.

            We give in this paper what account we can of the great battle at Fredericksburg.  It is a sorrowful detail – a sickening recital of bravery thrown away, of courage wasted, and of butchery of men unparalleled in this war.  It is the most terrible blow that the federal arms have received, while there is also less apology for it than for any other disaster to our arms.  We acquit Burnside of blame in this matter.  The censure should fall upon the imbecile head of the administration, who ordered the army to be hurled and broken upon the strong lines of the enemy.  The hundred thousand hearts  who mourn the loss of a brother’s, or a son’s, or a father’s blood, will not hold guiltless the President and Cabinet who listen more to political demagogues than to the counsels of military men.  Three times have the weak and trembling administration attempted to obey the abolition order of “on to Richmond,” and three times have our noble army met with disaster and inglorious defeat.  This fatuous policy has three times disregarded all the instructions of the science of war, saying they “moved on against the enemy’s works under the influence of the spirit of the Lord,” as the impious bunglers give out, but really at the instigation of the devil, as the results prove.  The first advance under McDowell should have taught the authorities at Washington a lesson.  But to repeat it under Pope, and again under Burnside, is a persistence in error, a criminal disregard of consequences, and a wanton sacrifice of human life, that is without a parallel in the page of history.  How long, oh people! is this to be borne silently?  Army after army, tribute after tribute, they have raised and given.  They have poured out men and money with exhaustless generosity.  But the lavish stream of popular bounty has disappeared, as if in the seive of the Danaides; only it is blood and not water that has been poured out to be absorbed forever, and that too without a single resulting benefit.  How long oh people! shall imbecility waste the energies, and fanaticism destroy the lives and liberties of a great nation?

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Prospects of Peace.

            Gradually all the stories got up about overtures of peace, says the New York Argus, made by the Confederate government to the Administration, at Washington, fade away.  It is not true that the go-betweens, who assume to negotiate, have been instructed by the Davis government, or are countenanced by President Lincoln.  It is equally untrue that they bring letters to leading Democrats of the north, from any authoritative quarter. – What is probably true is, that the masses of the south are sick at heart of the war.  They would like to conclude with Lincoln an armistice and a peace of separation.  Failing in that, they look with some hope to the next Congress for a peace upon the basis of restoration.  All this, however, is vague and indefinite, and, being founded upon the opinions of classes outside of the government, will vary, probably with the fortunes of war.  We believe that the north wishes peace upon the basis of the Union restored, and the Constitution in force as it was before this war broke out.  We believe the masses of the south entertain the same wish.  What stands in the way of its accomplishment?  Who forms the barrier on the northern or southern side, which prevents the reunion?  That is the most serious question which the people north and south will have to consider. – When they commence its consideration, then will the prospect of peace begin.  We never heard of thirty millions of people who could be kept at war against their own will.

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Rags!  Rags!

            We will pay two and a half cents a pound for clean linen and cotton rags.

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→ We go to press this week one day earlier than usual, so as to give all hands an opportunity to “take Christmas.”

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→ The weather this week has been about as disagreeable as it well can be – with rain and warm weather the mud has become almost untravelable.  Winter will come along, probably, before many weeks.

“When Christmas is white
The graveyard is lean;
But fat is the graveyard
When Christmas is green.”

            The absence of snow and of almost every other characteristic of winter will remind us that we are having a “green Christmas.”  Let us hope that the sequel will disprove the assertion quoted from the old poet, and that we shall not have a “fat graveyard” as a consequence.

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