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1864 December 10: Prescott Ladies’ Soldiers Aid Society, Rebel Spies, News from Shenandoah Valley, Military Fashions, and Other News

December 16, 2014

Following are the smaller items from the December 10, 1864, issues of The Polk County Press and The Prescott Journal. From The Polk County Press:

— Magnus Peterson, Co. C 7th Minn., died recently at St. Louis.—He was a resident of Chisago Co., Minnesota.

— Governor Vance, in his recent message to the North Carolina Legislature, confirms the reports that the laws cannot be enforced in that State, owing to the existence of a band of desperadoes, consisting of rebel deserters.  They make raids upon the mountain frontier, and murder, rob and destroy with savage cruelty.

From The Prescott Journal:

— Rev. C. C. BICKNELL, Gen. Agent of the Northwest ern [sic] Freedmen’s Aid Commission, will address the citizens of this place on Sunday evening, on the subject of the Commission.

Finger002  Joseph Copp, who was feared to have died in rebel hands, has been exchanged, nearly dead with starvation and exposure.  He will return home as soon as his strength will allow.

Finger002  Lt. C. C. Higbee is commissioned Capt. of Co. B 12th regiment.  Good for Chester.

Finger002  The Ladies’ Soldiers Aid Society here is doing a good work.  Besides sending off several well filled boxes, they have this week remitted about $40 to the Christian Commission.

Judge Bates [Edward Bates] has engaged Ex-Attorney General Coffee to manage the government cases before the next term of the Supreme Court.

SPIES IN REBELDOM.—The Richmond Enquirer has a long article, of which the following is an extract, on the rebel spy system :—“It is well known to persons who have at all directed their attention to the matter that this city, and indeed the whole South, has been for a long time infested with Yankee spies.  They are known to have regular lines of communication which leave Richmond nightly, and evening papers reach Grant’s headquarters before three o’clock the next morning.  These parties have facilities for knowing a great deal, and they communicate everything to the enemy at the earliest moment.  These facts have been reported to the war department long since and from time to time, and yet no steps have been taken in the matter.  Our present system of detectives is absurd, and productive of more evil than good, and yet it is adhered to, while government is daily injured and spies abound, to the great detriment of the public service.”  [Ulysses S. Grant]

FROM THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY.—The Herald’s special with SHERIDAN says :  “The army has remained undisturbed since EARLY made his last half-way advance, and now it appears probably we have seen the last rebel army for this year.  Gen. SHERIDAN has appointed Maj. C. S. STEWART¹ his chief engineer.  He is a West Point officer, and graduated in 1826.—Gen. SHERIDAN has opened the railroad to within four miles of Winchester.  In case of interference by guerillas [sic], he has ordered the arrest of all male secessionists in the counties adjacent, and their confinement in Fort McHenry ;  the burning of all the hay, grain, and subsistence of every sort, and the removal of all the stock, belonging to such persons.  Brig. Gen. STEVENSON is charged with the execution of the order.”  [Jubal A. Early, Philip H. Sheridan]

“GREAT GUNS.”—A correspondent writing from the Army of the Potomac makes a remarkable statement.  He says :  “The use of some shells recently of extraordinary power has demonstrated the feasibility of reducing to ashes either Petersburg or Richmond.  Guns now on their way here will throw shells into Richmond from our batteries in front of the 18th Corps, a distance of seven miles.  With these guns in position, and projectiles prepared, our gunners can destroy Richmond in forty-eight hours.  A particular kind of shell has been prepared, and in this consists the main feature of the proposed plan.  The projectile was tested at New Haven, and a range of seven a half miles obtained.”

Finger002  The minimum standard height for recruits for the volunteer service has been fixed by the Secretary of War at five feet, instead of five feet three inches, as heretofore established.

THE REBEL PRISON IN SOUTH CAROLINA.—A correspondent of the Edgefield Advertiser says :  “Florence, the military prison, is 20 miles from Florence depot, which is about 100 miles from Columbia.  The stockade contains an area of 32 acres, and a building 180 feet long, inserted in the ground four feet, with a small ditch inside, and a large moat or ditch.  There are about 16,000 prisoners in the stockade.  About 1,000 have taken the oath of allegiance.  More contemplate doing so.  The greatest mortality per diem since the establishment of this stockade has been 55, and the smallest about 30.”

Finger002  The peace men of Delaware refused to participate in the service of Thanksgiving Day, because Governor CANNON, in his proclamation, instanced among the causes for thankfulness the freeing of the slaves of Maryland, and the prospects of a speedy declaration of universal freedom.

Finger002 Gen. COUCH [Darius N. Couch] has been relieved of the command of the department of the Sesquehannah, and ordered to report to General THOMAS [George H. Thomas].

MILITARY FASHIONS.—The young officers who manage, through political influence, to get themselves detailed on “special duty” hereabout, are becoming fearfully excited about their personal appearance.  At the beginning of the war, round head cropping was the martial fashion, and some heads used to look as though they had not only been closely clipped, but sand-papered, while the favorite hue of complexion ranged from a deep brown to a miscegenative yellow.  But now our sons of Mars affect the cavalier hats, with long curls, a Vandyke beard and moustasche, and a pale complexion.  The regulation uniforms are replaced by right shell-jackets, (which may account fer [sic] the sometimes tight appearance of the wearers,) with corduroy small clothes, high boots, silver spurs, and dainty riding whips.  As for the Zouave style, it has disappeared ;  and curiously enough, those who entered the service with the Zouave drill and dress on the brain, have nearly all fallen out of the ranks.  Probably the unearthly sounds which they uttered in place of good Auglo [sic] Saxon words of command, undermined their constitutions.  At any rate, we no longer hear “Or-r-r ar-r-r !” “Or-r-r ar-r-rl !” but “Shoulder arms” and “Order arms” in plain English.—Washington Cor. Boston Journal.

Maj. Gen. Q. A. Gilmore [sic: Quincy A. Gillmore] has left for New Orleans, where he will report to Gen. Canby [Edward Canby] for the purpose of inspecting the defences of various fortified posts in the Western Military Division.

The rebel admiral Buchanan is to be sent to New York and thence to Fort Warren, Boston harbor.  [Franklin Buchanan]

The Herald’s Washington special says :  Information has been received here of the formation of a peace party in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi, for the re-admission of those States.

Information of seemingly reliable character is to the effect that Capt. Semmes [Raphael Semmes], of the pirate Alabama, arrived at Bagdad, Mexico, October 11th, en route to Richmond via Matamoras.

1.  Charles Seaforth Stewart (1823-1904) graduated from West Point in 1846, along with George B. McClellan, “Stonewall” Jackson, and George Pickett. During the Civil War, he was Chief Engineer of the defenses at Hampton Roads from September 1861 to November 1864. From November 1864 to June 1865, he was Chief Engineer of the Middle Military Division, which was responsible for operations around the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and the Valley Campaigns of 1864. For his Civil War service, he was brevetted to lieutenant colonel in the regular Army. Stewart reached the rank of colonel in June 1882, and retired.

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