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1865 February 4: News Summary Includes Latest Peace News, the Denbigh, Investigation of General Butler’s Conduct

February 4, 2015

Following are the news summaries for the week ending February 4, 1865, mostly from The Prescott Journal.  The first little bit is from The Polk County Press and as we see so often in the winter months, it begins with “there is nothing of importance,” echoed by the Journal’s “there is no war news of interest”!

From The Polk County Press:

The News.

— There is nothing of importance from the different military departments.

— Peace Commissioners are said to be in Washington.

— Gold is excited and weak, fluctuating between 1.98 and 2.02.

From The Prescott Journal:

THE NEWS.

— There is no war news of interest this week.

— It seems to be certain that ALEX. STEPHENS and R. M. T. HUNTER¹ are in Washington, consulting upon conditions of peace.  [Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens]

— The amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery in the United States, has passed the house by a vote of 119 yeas, to 56 nays.  It will pass the Senate, and no doubt be ratified by the requisite number of States.  The Republic is moving forward in the path of duty and safety.

News Items.

Late Texas papers represent that the people are apprehensive of an attack on their coast, and promise a determined resistance.

The Richmond Whig reports a destructive fire at Augusta, Ga., on Sunday, burning over 400 bales of cotton.

Monday a fire occurred at Hamburg, opposite Augusta, burning 1,000 or 2,000 bales of cotton.

One of the Richmond papers says negroes in the prime of life will make better soldiers than white men over 50.

The committee on the conduct of the war, have completed the investigation of General Butler’s conduct in the first attack on Wilmington.  [Benjamin F. Butler]

A report was received at Havana from Key West that the blockade runner Denbigh,² one of the most successful of the fleet, had been captured and taken into that port.

The World’s Savannah correspondence says the rebels, expecting an advance on Charleston, are making preparations to evacuate that city, and have already commenced removing the government property.

Gen. Early has made an earnest protest against the discharge of the committee to inquire into his drunkeness [sic].  He challenges any one to prove he was every drunk in camp, on the march, or in battle.  [Jubal A. Early]

It is semi-officially announced that the tobacco captured at Savannah, by order of Gen. Sherman, is to be reserved for the use of the soldiers, the General remarking that their valor had won it.  The soldiers accept it with rejoicing.   [William T. Sherman]

The Charleston Courier discusses guerrilla warfare, with the purpose of showing the efficiency of that style of hostility, to which the rebel cause may soon be brought.

Richmond papers represent Hood’s army as suffering intensely until they reached the more wealthy districts, when they fared better.  It is thought he may be obliged to fall back beyond Corinth until the roads  are repaired to that place.  [John Bell Hood]

It appears from a communication of the Secretary of War that the entire subject of an exchange of prisoners is now placed in the hands of Lt. Gen. Grant and that although only partial exchanges have thus far been made, there is reason to believe a full exchange will soon be effected.  [Ulysses S. Grant]

A party of rebel cavalry made their appearance in front of the Union pickets near Newbern, N. C., on the night of the 14th.  During their stay some of them deserted to the Union lines, and on the discovery of this the remainder fell back, and pursued to near Kinston by a detachment of the 11th New York cavalry.  Rebel deserters are continually coming in at Newbern.

The bark Clifton, Capt. Gavet, has arrived here from Pernambuco.  The Captain reports that the rebel privateer Shenandoah had destroyed several American merchantmen along the coast of Brazil, in consequence of which vessels bound to the United States were obtaining British registers, so as to enable them to sail under British colors.

The Washington special to the Times, that government has been assured the Canadian authorities have determined to remove all causes of dissatisfaction on the part of this country growing out of the recent occurrences.  Judge Coursal will be removed.  This will probably lead to a speedy abrogation of the passport system.

The Herald’s Shenandoah Valley correspondence says an intelligent gentleman of Madison county, who recently visited Richmond, states that he conversed with Government officers, who told him the holding of Richmond for any considerable time was despaired of by Davis [Jefferson Davis] and Lee [Robert E. Lee].  The public archives, not neccessary [sic] for immediate use, were being sent into the interior.  Hundreds of families had removed to North Carolina and Georgia, on hints from officials.  The city is said to be in process of mining, and Davis is determined that Richmond shall not fall into our hand except as a heap of ruins.

The Press of Cincinnati gave a reception banquet Saturday night to the escaped correspondents, Richardson, Brown and Davis.  Speeches of welcome were made on behalf of the city, by Hon. Thos. H. Weasner, president of the city council, and on behalf of the press by M. Halstead, editor of the Commercial.—The guests of the evening responded in an entertaining account of their journey, and startling details about the suffering of prisoners remaining at Salisbury.  Gen. J. D. Webster, Hon. Ben. Eggleston, M. C., Col. E. H. Noyes, Col. S. J. McGroarty, Judge W. M. Dickson, and many other prominent citizens, also made speeches.  Thos. Buchanan Read said he had had the pleasure of writing “Sheridan’s Ride,” but now he found a yet more thrilling and stirring theme, “The Walk of the Journalists,” and read the first draft of a poem on the subject.

The opinion of the Solicitor of the War Department, published last August, is semi-officially re-produced as applicable to the present enrollment and quota for 800,000 men to supply deficiencies under former calls.  In that opinion the Solicitor said :  “If the number of men were taken into consideration without regard to the length of their service, it is clear that the grossest inequality would exist in the respective contributions of the different districts to the aggregate military service of the country, and at each successive call all accounts of service preceding that call are made up, and the call for quotas should be such as shall equalize the amount of service required from each district in proportion to the persons therein liable to military service.  That district which in the present draft furnishes one year men, cuts up its burden into three parts and shoulders only one part at the present year, and leaves the rest to be met at the next call.  That district which furnishes three years men now, gains at once in its account with the Provost Marshall General the same benefit on the next draft as though it had furnished three times as many men for one years service.  It is the duty of each district to furnish the full number of men designated as its quota.  These men should be received, whether for one, two or three years.  Those districts which furnish three years men now will be entitled to the full benefit of them on future calls.”

The House Committee on Military Affairs has accumulated and is still gathering a large amount of testimony and facts relative to the frauds and abuses under the law for the collection and purchase of cotton and other products of the insurrectionary States, and will double as report a bill for the correction of the disloyal and illegal practices of mercenary speculation.

1.  Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter (1809-1887) a Confederate Senator from Virginia and President pro tempore of the Confederate Senate (1862-1865). Before that he had been the Confederate Secretary of State (1861-1862). Before the Civil War Hunter had been a U.S. Senator from Virginia (1847-1861), speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (1839-1841) and member of the House from Virginia (1837-43, 1845-47). He was, at times, a caustic critic of the Davis administration. He was one of the Confederate commissioners at the Hampton Roads Conference in 1865. After the surrender of General Lee, Hunter was summoned by President Lincoln to Richmond to confer regarding the restoration of Virginia in the Union. From 1874 to 1880 he was the treasurer of Virginia, and from 1885 until his death was collector of the Port of Tappahannock, Virginia.
2.  The Denbigh was not a warship, nor was she a Confederate vessel. Like most steam blockade runners, she was a registered British merchant ship, civilian-owned, an iron-hulled blockade runner that made runs so regularly to Mobile and Galveston from Havana that she became known as “the Packet.” She made seven successful runs to Mobile and six to Galveston; approaching Galveston a seventh time on the night of May 23-24, 1865, Denbigh ran aground on a sand shoal to the north and east of Galveston, whereupon she was destroyed by shellfire from Union blockaders. The remains of the ship have been found and are presently being excavated.  The Denbigh Project is an effort by the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University to identify, document, and preserve the wreck of Denbigh.

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