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1865 June 10: Mobile Magazine Explosion, Weitzel’s Texas Expedition, and Other News

June 10, 2015

This summary of the week’s news comes from The Prescott Journal of June 10, 1865.

T E L E G R A P H

NEW ORLEANS, May 27.—The trans-Mississippi Department surrendered yesterday to Maj. Gen. Canby [Edward Canby].  The terms being the same as agreed upon by Grant [Ulysses S. Grant] and Lee [Robert E. Lee].

The lines are now open, and the press and [___ ___] entirely abolished east of the Mississippi.

NEW ORLEANS, May 26.—One of the most terrific explosions that has ever occurred in this country, was the main ordinance depot, with surrounding magazines, at Mobile, at two o’clock yesterday.  The shock was dreadful, and the city shook to its very foundation.  Eight squares of buildings are now in ruins, and many a victim is buried beneath the walls.  Five hundred persons being buried outright.  About 8,000 bales of cotton were destroyed.  The steamers Col. Cowles and Katadid, with all on board, were entirely destroyed.—The loss incurred, it is said, will reach eight millions of dollars.¹

Gen. Granger [Gordon Granger] rendered prompt relief to the sufferers.  The cause of the explosion is uncertain.  The ordinance stores which were a portion of the munitions of war surrendered by Dick Taylor [Richard Taylor] were in the course of removal when it occurred.  The entire city is more or less injured by the explosion.

WASHINGTON, June 2.—The following official notice was issued to-day :

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, }
WASHINGTON, June 2, 1864 [sic].}

Whereas, pursuant to the order of the President, and as a means required by the public safety, directions were issued from this department, under date of the 17th of December, for requiring passports from all travelers entering the United States, except emigrant passengers directly entering an American port from a foreign country, and whereas, the necessities which required the adoption of the measure are believed no longer to exist, now therefore, the President directs that from and after this date the above order referred to, shall be and the same is hereby recinded [sic].—Nothing in this regulation, however, will be construed to relieve them from their accountability, or any enemies of the United States or offenders against their peace and dignity, and who may hereafter seek to enter the country at any time and be found within its legal jurisdiction.

(Signed)               WM. M. SEWARD,
.                                .Secretary of State.

FORT MONROE, June 1.—The Texas expedition, under command of General Weitzel [Godfrey Weitzel], which has been fitting out in this harbor during the past few days, is now fairly on its way to the point of destination, somewhere along the coast of that State.  Preparatory to its sailing, orders were issued to the commanding officer on board each vessel to proceed first to Mobile Bay, in the vicinity of Forts Morgan and Gaines, with the view of making a rendezvous at the harbor, in order to coal the steamers and thoroughly clean them before proceeding any further.  The steamers composing this expedition fleet are among the largest and best adapted to a long sea voyage of any known in the mercantile service, and were chartered especially by the different quartermasters in New York and Philadelphia, and otherwise, for this purpose.

The major portion of the fleet, containing some fifteen of the largest steamers, has already sailed, while the remainder, composing the steamers Star of the South, Richmond, Western Metropolis, Tonawanda, C. C. Beary, J. P. Everman, Empire City, Rebecca, Cambria and Tillie, are now lying in the roads, and will sail either this evening or to-morrow.

CAIRO, June 2.—An extensive slide occurred at 9 o’clock this morning, immediately above Columbus, Kentucky.  A portion of the high bluffs on which is Fort Halleck was precipitated into the Mississippi river.  Several buildings inside the fort, including the blacksmith shop and the engine used to supply water to the fort, were carried away.

The extent of the loss of life and property is not known as yet, as the boat bringing the information left immediately after the occurrence ;  but from the extent of the slide, and the position of the buildings, it is believed there must have been some loss of life.  Tall trees are left standing in the river one hundred feet from the shore.

NEW YORK, June 3.—The Tribune’s Washington special says, Gen. Walter N. Taylor, General Lee’s [Robert E. Lee] Adjutant General, and Gen. W. J. Moore have been summoned to appear before the United States District Court, at 10 o’clock this morning, with the view of testifying against General R. E. Lee, and other prominent rebel officials, on a charge of treason.

The Herald’s special says, the arrival of Jeff. Davis [Jefferson Davis] was prematurely announced.  He was sent from Fort Monroe on the monitor Gangus, which got aground eighteen miles below this city.  He was then transferred to the torpedo boat Chico, and has arrived in her.

It is understood that quarters have been prepared for him in the Old Capitol, and that a suitable guard will be furnished to insure his safe keeping.

Gen. Thomas [George H. Thomas] had a long interview with the President.  It is not known as yet when he will proceed to Richmond to assume command of the department of Virginia, but it will probably be within a few days.  The World’s special says Mr. Chas. O’Connor [sic]² has applied to the war department for permission to tender to Jeff. Davis his professional service, in case he is arraigned upon the indictment found in the District of Columbia, and the President has directed that Mr. O’Connor’s application be granted, to the end that the Constitutional provision, which secures to accused persons the assistance of counsel may be respected.

NEW YORK, June 2d.—The Herald’s Washington special says :  “Secretary McCulloch [Secretary of the Treasury Hugh McCulloch], in conversation with prominent politicians a few days since, stated that the government is now ready to resume specie payment ;  that its finances were in a condition to enable it to adopt that course ;  the only thing that prevented the immediate adoption of that plan, was the injury it would do the business interests of the country.  Indications are that a return to specie payment will be made before many months.”

It is understood that the President has decided to appoint James P. Smith, of Selma, Ala., United States District Attorney for that State.  Mr. Smith was arrested for his devotion to the Union cause, but made his escape and has resided for the past two years in Nashville.

It is rumored that Mr. Blair [Francis P. Blair] will be given an important foreign appointment.

NEW YORK, June 2.—The work on the sunken Monitor, continues, but only fragments of bodies are now recovered.  The vessel itself is considered not to be worth the raising, in consequence of her injuries, and the length of time she has been under water.

Her guns have already been raised.

1.  The exact cause of the magazine explosion was never determined. Some northern newspapers tried to blame an imagined gang of unreconstructed Confederate officers. Most people, though, accepted that it was the result of simple carelessness on the part of workers handling wheelbarrows full of live ammunition.
2.  Charles O’Conor (1804-1884) was a well-known lawyer from New York. His celebrated cases include the Forrest divorce case (1850), the Slave Jack case (1835), the Lispenard will case (1843), the Lemmon slave case (1856), the Parrish will case (1862), the Jumel suit (1871), and he took a prominent rol in the prosecution of Boss Tweed (starting in 1871). He served as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (1853-4). In politics he supported the States’ rights Democrats and sympathized with the Southern states throughout the Civil War. After the War he did become the senior counsel for Jefferson Davis on his indictment for treason, and also appeared upon Davis’ bond when the latter was admitted to bail.

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