1863 December 26: News of the Week is Mostly Political
Following is this week’s news from The Prescott Journal of December 26, 1863.
— A bill has been introduced into “loyal” Virginia legislature, in session at Alexandria, to abolish slavery in the counties excepted by the President’s proclamation.
— The rebels have repealed the substitute clause in their Conscription act, and all those who have sent substitutes must now go themselves in addition.
—Senator Wilson,² Chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs strongly opposes the repeal of the $300 clause.
— A dispatch from Washington says the conscription bill will not be amended until after the holidays, and that the draft will be postponed for twenty days from the 5th of January.
— A later dispatch says the reported postponement of the draft for twenty days was a falsehood. It is now said that it will positively take place on the 5th of January.
— Gen. Grant [Ulysses S. Grant] has captured, since the war broke out, 461 cannon and 90,000 prisoners.
— An important decision of the Supreme Court, rendered in July last, in the habeas corpus case of Martin Conway and James Gibbons, is published.—It is to the effect that children who come to this country with their parents, while minors, acquire none of the rights of citizens unless themselves naturalized or declared their intentions. Hence they have no right to vote and are not liable to draft.³
— Morgan [John Hunt Morgan] escaped across the Tennessee River, sixty miles above Chattanooga, on the 18th. He rode a fine race horse, presented him by some Garrett Davis Kentuckian, and was accompanied by an escort of thirty men.—Fourteen were captured, and the old thief himself had a narrow escape.
— The Toronto Globe cordially endorsed the President’s Proclamation to the Southern people, predicts that it will be a great success, and believes the rebellion is on its last legs.
— The Message of Jeff Davis [Jefferson Davis] and the report of Mr. Memminger, the Confederate Secretary of the Treasury, present the condition of the rebellion as such that, if it were not infamous, it would be pitiable. When we come to look into the receipts of the rebel Treasury, we find that the War Tax has, during a year, yielded $4,128,988 ; the sequestrasion [sic] of the property of Union men, $1,862,550 ; customs, $934,708 ; export duty on cotton, $8,101 ; patent fund, $10,794 ; altogether, $6,945,341. And this in Confederate currency worth six cents in gold on the dollar. The rest of the Confederate revenue has been made by printing notes, which are now to be focibly funded. He admits the violation of the contract entered into by the Government with the note holders, but says he can’t help it ; that if his scheme is not promptly adopted, “taxes become fruitless by reason of the depreciation of the money. The army can neither be paid, clothed, or fed ; arms and munitions of war can no longer be supplied ; the officers of the Government can not be supported ; and the country must succumb.”
— Ten Senators and fifty-five members of the lower House answered to their names when the Confederate Congress was called to order. Hunter,4 of Virginia, occupied the chair of the Senate, and Bocock,5 of the same State, called the House to order.
— Senator Wilson² expresses the confident belief that the present Congress will not repeal the $300 clause of the enrollment act.
— The brave General Corcoran [Michael Corcoran] died at Fairfax Court House on Tuesday evening, from the effects of a fall from his horse.
1. Thomas Ewing, Jr. (1829-1896) was an attorney, a leading free state advocate, a Union general during the Civil War, a two-term U. S. Congressman from Ohio (1877-1881), and he narrowly lost the 1880 election for Ohio governor. He was a delegate from Kansas to the Peace Conference of 1861 and was elected the first chief justice of the new state of Kansas in 1861. He resigned his judgeship to recruit the 11th Kansas Infantry and was elected as its first colonel. Ewing was promoted to brigadier general in March 1863, for his leadership at the Battle of Prairie Grove. He was given command of the District of the Border, which comprised Kansas and western Missouri. Ewing issued General Order № 11 in retaliation for William Quantrill’s raid on Lawrence, Kansas. The order commanded that civilians with southern sympathies living in four Missouri counties be expelled, and if they did not leave voluntarily, they would be forced out by Union cavalry. In September and October 1864, as deputy commander of the St. Louis district under William Rosecrans, Ewing played a major part in thwarting Sterling Price’s invasion of Missouri.
2. Henry Wilson (1812-1875), a U.S. senator from Massachusetts (1855-1873), was one of the Radical Republicans in Congress and a strong opponent of slavery. He was chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs and the Militia, and of the Committee on Military Affairs. In 1872 he ran with Ulysses S. Grant and served as U.S. vice-president from March 4, 1873, until his death on November 22, 1875.
3. Martin Conway and James Gibbons were “alleged to be unlawfully restrained of their liberty” at Camp Randall by Captain Samuel Harriman, after being given into his custody by the deputy provost marshal of the 3rd district of Wisconsin because they failed to report to the proper officers after being drafted. They claimed that because they were of foreign birth and brought to the United States as minors, and, while they had voted, they had never declared their intention to become citizens, they were not subject to the draft. The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed that they were not “citizens” and therefore the laws of Congress regarding the draft did not apply to them. (“In the Matter of the Application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus for Martin Conway and James Gibbons, Wisconsin Reports: Cases Determined in the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, vol. 17 (Chicago: Callaghan): 543-46.
4. Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter (1809-1887) had been a U.S. representative (and Speaker of the House of Representatives) and senator (1847-1861) from Virginia before the Civil War but was expelled from the Senate on July 11, 1861, for support of the rebellion. He was a delegate from Virginia to the Confederate Provincial Congress at Richmond; Confederate Secretary of State (1861-1862); served in the Confederate Senate from Virginia in the First and Second Congresses (1862-1865) and was President pro tempore on various occasions. In February 1865 he was one of the peace commissioners that met with President Abraham Lincoln in Hampton Roads. Hunter was briefly imprisoned at the end of the Civil War. After the War he was State treasurer of Virginia (1874-1880) and collector for the port of Tappahannock, Virginia, in 1885.
5. Thomas Stanley Bocock (1815-1891) was a U.S. representative from Virginia before the Civil War. He was elected a representative to the Confederate Congress in 1861. Bocock became speaker of that body in February 1862.