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1862 December 6: The Polk County Press Joins Our List of Sources

December 8, 2012

The December 6, 1862, issue of The Polk County Press was the first issue of volume 3 of that newspaper, yet it is the first issue available to us.  We have seen articles from the Press reprinted in both The Hudson North Star and The Prescott Journal, but we now finally have access to the actual paper itself.

The first article we are reprinting from The Polk County Press is Editor Sam Fifield’s recap of the war news for the week.

The News.

There is a report that Gen. POPE [John Pope] has been ordered to St. Louis to take command, in place of Gen. CURTIS [Samuel R. Curtis],¹ who is under a cloud at the present time on account of his extensive cotton speculations.

BURNSIDE’s [Ambrose E. Burnside] army arrive at Falmouth, opposite Fredericksburg, Tuesday, the 18th, and at last advices had not effected a crossing.  It is now said that the rebels have erected powerful batteries, and massed their army on the Frederick side, and that a severe engagement must ensue; before our forces can cross, unless a “brilliant stroke of strategy” intervenes.

The Russian Government has virtually refused to be a party to the French project of intervention in American affairs.  England having declined the invitation previously, it is fair to presume  that the subject will not come up again for the present.

In connection with the subject of foreign intervention, the speech said to have been delivered by General PEMBERTON [John C. Pemberton], the successor of General VAN DORN [Earl Van Dorn], is worthy of note.  He told the rebels that the moment England interfered, she would find us a united people, and that she would have to meet the armies of the South as well as the North. The tone of the rebel press, for some time, has been very bitter on England but we can hardly believe General PEMBERTON expresses the prevailing sentiment of the South.

A dispatch from the “Times'” correspondent at Washington says there is some talk there in military circles of the army going into winter quarters, while an army correspondent of the Philadelphia “Inquirer” says that in a few days a battle will be fought that will eclipse all others of the war.  The rebels are working hard to fortify themselves!

The news from other quarters requires no particular mention.

1.  On November 10, 1862, Missouri Governor Hamilton Gamble had made the allegations to Posmaster General Montgomery Blair, charging Curtis with  cotton speculation, in an effort to have Curtis removed from his command. Gamble’s allegations echoed the rumors John S. Phelps—a Missouri lawyer, a Democratic congressman from Missouri, and colonel of Phelps’ Regiment—had shared with General Henry W. Halleck earlier in the fall. Phelps suggested that Curtis kept his army near cotton-rich areas for the sole purpose of stealing/confiscating cotton, and cotton speculation.

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