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1863 February 4: News Items, Including a War Department Order Authorizing the Enlistment of “Negroes” in Massachusetts

February 6, 2013

Instead of several larger articles, this week’s Prescott Journal, February 4, 1863, has lots of small news notes for the national war news.


— All accounts agree in announcing a terrible conflict as impending at Vicksburg.—The Governor of Mississippi has called out the militia of the State to defend the city.  The rebels estimate our force at 80,000.  We have taken possession of Warrenton, twenty miles below Vicksburg, with a force from below.  Our transports occupy two miles of the leevee [sic] above and below the mouth of the Yazoo, and our gunboats are within three miles of the city.

— Among the important movements imminent, or in progress, are the renewal of the conflict at Vicksburg, the bombardment of Galveston, and the great decisive battle in North Carolina.

— Burnside [Ambrose E. Burnside] has been offered the command of a new military department, embracing North and South Carolina.

— Butler [Benjamin F. Butler] is urged to retain the Department of the Gulf with greatly enlarged powers and responsibilities.

— The prospect for immediate emancipation in Missouri is favorable.

— The Harriet Lane is blockaded in Galveston Bay and the rebels are busily fortifying to resist an attack.

Commodore BELL’s¹ fleet is reported strong enough to recapture Galveston but he is delaying in order to secure the Harriet Lane without destroying her.

— The War Department order, authorizing the enlistment of negroes in Massachusetts, heretofore mentioned, has been made public.  It authorizes the enlistment of negroes in artillery companies for service in Massachuetts [sic], and for infantry service not suited to any particular locality.  It is not true that the procuring of this order was the chief object of the late visit of Wendall and other radicals.

— Gen. Hooker [Joseph Hooker] has named Gen. Butterfield [Daniel A. Butterfield] for his chief of staff.

— The question as to military power of the President in times of rebellion is to be summitted to the decision of the Supreme Court, the issue being made on the Wisconsin case.

— A bill passed the Senate on Monday last providing that thirty thousand dollars be appropiated [sic] for the protection of emigrants by overland routes to the States or Territories on the Pacific.  The sum of thirty thousand dollars is to be expended under the direction of the Secretary of War, provided that ten thousand dollars of it be applied to the protection of emigrants, en route from Fort Abercrombie from Fort Benton.

— Newspapers from Newbern, North Carolina, report that the rebels are disheartned [sic] and are very much excited concerning the concentration of forces in that Department.

— Eighty army officers are to be dismissed for violating the regulations, in their strictures upon the removal of Gen. McClellan [George B. McClellan] and the court-martial of Fitz John Porter.

— The rebels have already fortified Galveston to such an extent that its recapture will be delayed for the present.  They have secured the batteries of the Harriet Lane and Westfield, and Magruder [John B. Magruder] has a force of 700 men in the city.

— BANKS [Nathaniel P. Banks] has called for a large supply of entrenching tools.  The intimation of the telegraph that they are to be used in the capture of Port Hudson, is we presume, nothing more than conjecture.

— The rebels are making great preparations to resist an attack upon Vicksburg and Port Hudson.  Gen. Johnson is massing an immense army at the latter place.

— It is rumored that a part of the prisoners captured in the late fight at Arkansas Post, will be sent to Camp Randall [Madison, Wisconsin] for safe keeping.

— We have almost the highest authority under the Government for stating that Mrs. Lincoln has at last become thoroughly Anti-Slavery—is hearty in her approval of the Emancipation Proclamation, and urges immediate and comprehensive arming of slaves who have been made by it.—Washington Letter.

1.  Henry Haywood Bell (1808-1868) was a career naval man and was promoted to Commander in 1854. During the Civil War he was Fleet Captain of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron and served in the campaigns that captured New Orleans. He was promoted to Commodore in July 1862. After completing his Gulf assignment in 1864, he will be assigned to the New York Navy Yard as Inspector of Ordnance.

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