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necessary to a correct understanding of the circumstances of each case.
After tranquillity shall have been restored upon the return of peace, Congress will doubtless properly provide for all the persons thus received into the service of the Union, and for a just compensation to loyal masters. In this way only, it would seem, can the duty and safety of the Government and just rights of all be fully reconciled and harmonized. You will, therefore, consider yourself instructed to govern your future action in respect to fugitives from service by the premises herein stated, and will report from time to tinie, and at least twice in each month, your action in the premises to this Department. You will, however, neither authorize nor permit any interference by the troops under your command with the servants of peaceable citizens in a house or field, por will you in any manner encourage such citizens to leave the lawful serrice of their masters, nor will you, except in cases where the public good may seem to require it, prevent the voluntary return of any fugitive to the service from which he may have escaped. I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Secretary of War. To Maj. GEN. BUTLER,
Commanding Department of Virginia, Fortress Monroe.
On the 6th of November, a force under Gens. Grant and McClernand left Cairo on transports for the purpose of breaking up a Rebel camp on the Missouri side of the Mississippi river, nearly opposite Columbus, the headquarters of Gen. Polk. The whole number of men engaged in this expedition, including a Chicago battery and two companies of cavalry, was about 3,500. The gunboats Tyler and Lexington accompanied them. The troops effected a landing and were formed in line of battle about eight o'clock the following morning, and at once advanced upon the Rebel works. The Rebels, under Gen. Cheatham, met this attack, but were driven back over the wooded field, fighting from tree to tree, into and through their camp. Twelve guns were captured from the Rebels, their camp burned, and baggage, horses, and many prisoners were taken. Reënforcements from Columbus subsequently crossed to Belmont, compelling the Union forces to return to their transports, under cover of the gunboats. Though a decided success in
the early part of the day, the engagement terminated less favorably, and victory was claimed by the Rebels.
About the same time, it is worthy of note, a gunboat reconnoissance was made to Fort Donelson. The movement at Belmont, made by order of Gen. Fremont, perhaps aided another ere long to be undertaken in the latter direction, as well as the advance into Southwestern Missouri, then in progress.
A large force, under Gen. W. T. Sherman, had meanwhile advanced as far as Bowling Green, to meet an invasion of Kentucky under the Rebel Gen. Bragg, while on the left of Sherman, Gen. William Nelson, on the 8th, gained a decisive victory over the Rebels, under Col. Williams, clearing the northeastern part of the State of invaders. Thus the prompt occupation of Paducah by Gen. Grant the advance of Sherman, and the energy of Nelson, had ;.' ed a well-devised plan of the Rebels for overrunning ap sujugating Kentucky. Gen. Buckner, not long after his interview with McClellan at Cincinnati, in June, had thrown off the mask, and was zealously engaged in an attempt to draw Kentucky into the Secession gulf-stream, and to gather a large force of Kentuckians for the Rebel Army. In the latter purpose he was not without success.
On the 10th of November, Gen. H. W. Halleck was appointed to the command of the Department of the West, in the place of Gen. Fremont. At the same date Gen. W. T. Sherman, having lately resigned his command in Kentucky, Gen. D. C. Buell took that General's place.
During the Summer and Autumn, the Navy Department had manifested great energy in collecting the before scattered navy, and in fitting out, equipping and manning for service on the seas and navigable rivers, where available, an adequate force of war vessels, gunboats and transports. A blockade of remarkable stringency, under circumstances so adverse, had been maintained along our immense sea-coast, and numerous prizes had rewarded the vigilance of our naval commanders and seamen. Blockade-running, though frequently attempted, and sometimes too successful, had become hazardous, and communication with foreign countries was but casual, and attended with constant peril. The capture of the forts at Hatteras Inlet
effectually closed one avenue of blockade running, and the Port Royal expedition was of like value in sealing another important harbor.
On the 12th of October, the steamer Theodora evaded the blockading fleet off Charleston, and went to sea with two noted Rebel leaders on board, James M. Mason and John Slidell, recently Senators of the United States, now "accredited,” respectively, to the Governments of England and France, as Representatives of the Davis Confederacy. Their immediate destination was Cardenas, with the intention of proceeding to Europe by steamer from Havana. At the time of the arrival of these emissaries in Cuba, Com. Wilkes, cruising for the Rebel privateer Sumter, was at Cienfuegos, on the southern coast of that island. Having been notified by Consul Shufeldt, he made all haste to intercept the Theodora on her return, but on arriving at Havana, Oct. 31st, he found she had already gone, and that Mason and Slidell were waiting there, intending to leave for St. Thomas in the British Mail steamer Trent. Com. Wilkes took position with his vessel, the San Jacinto, to intercept the Trent, designing to make prisoners of her two diplomatic passengers. This purpose he accomplished on the 8th of November. The intelligence of this capture, of course, created no little excitement in this country and in Europe. As involving a question of international rights and jurisdiction, the event was widely discussed, while the loyal sentiment of the people undeniably went strongly with Com. Wilkes in his bold action. Secretary Welles promptly congratulated that officer, complimenting him, and his subordinates and crew_fully appreciating the worthy motive, and the energy of the procedure. Meanwhile, Mason and Slidell, having arrived at New York, were transferred to close quarters at Fort Warren, in Boston harbor.
CHAPTER V. The President's Message, December, 1861.—Proceedings of Con
gress.-Emancipation.-Confiscation. - Messages and Addresses of Mr. Lincoln.
CONGRESS reassembled on the 2d day of December, 1861, During the last few months public attention had been earnestly directed to the policy of turning to account the great element of Rebel strength or weakness—as it should prove-in shortening a war becoming gigantic in its dimensions and cost. A large portion of the people had come to believe that a proper exercise of the war power would require the slaves of the rebels to be not only withdrawn from producing for the support of the Confederate armies, but also to be actively employed, so far as might be, on the right side. A small class, more radical in their views, insisted on setting aside, by Executive act, all legal or constitutional guarantees of slavery in general, and not merely in so far as they inured to the benefit of Rebels, who had repudiated all laws, and the Constitution itself, by taking up arms against the supreme authority. Had every Slave State joined in the Secession movement, this question would have been free from all embarrassments. But when Mr. Lincoln was inaugurated; only seven of these States had been ranged on the side of the rebellion, while eight remained in an attitude of loyalty. And, in the final event, but four of the remaining cight were drawn into Secession. As the President of an undivided Union, the President had thus far felt compelled, as well in the avowals of his Inaugural Ad. dress as in his subsequent action, not to interfere directly with the relations of master and slave. It was only where the slave, in accordance with all the laws of war, could be actually used by military commanders in the field, to subserve military purposes, and not by any general blow at a recognized insti
tution, that he had authorized the relation to be forcibly disturbed.
The existence of this popular agitation, as well as of a sim ilar debate in his own mind, perceptibly appears in the President's annual Message to Congress.
It is likewise to be observed, that the military results, thus far, had not been quite satisfactory, either to the President or to the people. Despite the lavish means provided at the July session of Congress, with a manifest view to energetic aggressive war, little more had been accomplished—and that certainly not a little, however short of expectation—than to protect the National capital, and to save Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri, from being subjugated by Rebel armies. Manassas and Ball's Bluff, in the East, were still unavenged, or but partly compensated by the capture of Hatteras and Port Royal. In the West, large Rebel armies were threatening to overrun Kentucky from Bowling Green and Columbus, and Missouri from the Southwest, as well as holding the Mississippi river to within a few miles of Cairo.
In addition, was the exciting question growing out of the arrest of Mason and Slidell, on board a British ship on the high seas. The popular feeling, on the one hand, seemed to be unanimous in favor of retaining possession of these prisoners, as con- · spirators and traitors; while on the other, the British Govern. ment, in spite of its own precedents, and backed by French influence, seemed determined to regard such action on our part as a cause for war. The juncture was critical. Every sympathizer with rebellion was exultant in the confidence that the Administration would be wrecked upon Scylla or Charybdisthat it would be ruined at home, or involved in a foreign war that must end any further effective effort to put down the rebellion.
The President, fully sensible of the besetting dangers, and mindful of the situation of affairs in these and other respects, submitted to Congress the following views, in a message which was received with great popular favor :
FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES : In the midst of unprecedented political troubles,