Doc. 217.-Mr. W. H. Russell's letters, of April 30 and May 1.
the State of South Carolina, April 30.Nothing I could say can be worth one fact which has forced itself upon my mind in reference to the sentiments which prevail among the gentlemen of this State. I have been among them for several days. I have visited their plantations, I have conversed with them freely and fully, and I have enjoyed that frank, courteous, and graceful intercourse which constitutes an irresistible charm of their society. From all quarters have come to my ears the echoes of the same voice; it may be feigned, but there is no discord in the note, and it sounds in wonderful strength and monotony all over the country. Shades of George III., of North, of Johnson, of all who contended against the great rebellion which tore these colonies from England, can you hear the chorus which rings through the State of Marion, Sumter, and Pinckney, and not clap your ghostly hands in triumph? That voice says, “If we could only get one of the royal race of England to rule over us, we should be content.” Let there be no misconception on this point. That sentiment, varied in a hundred ways, has been repeated to me over and over again. There is a general admission that the means to such an end are wanting, and that the desire cannot be gratified. But the admiration for monarchical institutions on the English model, for privileged classes, and for a landed aristocracy and gentry, is undisguised and apparently genuine. With the pride of having achieved their independence is mingled in the South Carolinians' hearts a strange regret at the result and consequences, and many are they who “would go back to-morrow if we could.” An intense affection for the British connection, a love of British habits and customs, a respect for British sentiment, law, authority, order, civilization, and literature, preeminently distinguish the inhabitants of this State, who, glorying in  their descent from ancient families on the three islands, whose fortunes they still follow, and with whose members they maintain not unfre-quently familiar relations, regard with an aversion of which it is impossible to give an idea to one who has not seen its manifestations, the people of New England and the populations of the Northern States, whom they regard as tainted beyond cure by the venom of “Puritanism.” Whatever may be the cause, this is the fact and the effect. “The State of South Carolina was,” I am told, “founded by gentlemen.” It was not established by witch-burning Puritans, by cruel persecuting fanatics, who implanted in the North the standard of Torquemada, and breathed into the nostrils of their newly-born colonies all the ferocity, bloodthirstiness, and rabid intolerance of the Inquisition. It is absolutely astounding to a stranger who aims at the preservation of a decent neutrality to mark the violence of these opinions. “If that confounded ship had sunk with those----Pilgrim Fathers on board,” says one, “we never should have been driven to these extremities!” “We could have got on with these fanatics if they had been either Christians or gentlemen,” says another; “for in the first case they would have acted with common charity, and in the second they would have fought when they insulted us; but there are neither Christians nor gentlemen among them!” “Any thing on earth!” exclaims a third, “any form of government, any tyranny or despotism you will; but” --and here is an appeal more terrible than the adjuration of all the Gods “nothing on earth shall ever induce us to submit to any union with the brutal, bigoted blackguards of the New England States, who neither comprehend nor regard the feelings of gentlemen! Man, woman and child, we'll die first.” Imagine these and an infinite variety of similar sentiments uttered by courtly, well-educated men, who set great store on a nice observance of the usages of society, and who are only moved to extreme bitterness and anger when they speak of the North, and you will fail to conceive the intensity of the dislike of the South Carolinians for the free States. There are national antipathies on our side of the Atlantic which are tolerably strong, and have been unfortunately pertinacious and long-lived. The hatred of the Italian for the Tedesco, of the Greek for the Turk, of the Turk for the Russ, is warm and fierce enough to satisfy the prince of darkness, not to speak of a few little pet aversions among allied powers and the atoms of composite empires; but they are all mere indifference and neutrality of feeling compared to the animosity evinced by the “gentry” of South Carolina for the “rabble of the North.” The contests of Cavalier and Roundhead, of Vendean and Republican, even of Orangeman and Croppy, have been elegant joustings, regulated by the finest rules of chivalry, compared with those which North and South will carry on if their deeds support their words. “Immortal hate, the study of revenge” will actuate every blow, and never in the history of the world, perhaps, will go forth such a dreadful voe victims as that which may be heard before the fight has begun. There is nothing in all the dark caves of human passion so cruel and deadly as the hatred the South Carolinians profess for the Yankees. That hatred has been swelling for years, till it is the very lifeblood of the state. It has set South Carolina to work steadily to organize her resources for the struggle which she intended to provoke if it did not come in the course of time. “Incompatibility of temper” would have been sufficient ground for the divorce, and I am satisfied that there has been a deep-rooted design, conceived in some men's minds thirty years ago, and extended gradually year after year to others', to break away from the Union at the very first opportunity. The North is to South Carolina a corrupt and evil thing, to which for long years she has been bound by burning chains, while monopolists and manufacturers fed on her tender limbs. She has been bound in a Maxentian union to the object she loathes. New England is to her the incarnation of moral and political wickedness and social corruption. It is the source of every thing which South Carolina hates, and of the torrents of free thought and taxed manufactures, of abolitionism and of filibustering, which have flooded the land. Believe a southern man as he believes himself, and you must regard New England and the kindred States as the birthplace of impurity of mind among men and of unchastity in women — the home of free love, of Fourrierism, of infidelity, of abolitionism, of false teachings in political economy and in social life; a land saturated with the drippings of rotten philosophy, with the poisonous infections of a fanatic press; without honor or modesty; whose wisdom is paltry cunning, whose valor and manhood have been swallowed up in a corrupt, howling demagogy, and in the marts of a dishonest commerce. It is the merchants of New York who fit out ships for the slave trade, and carry it on in Yankee ships. It is the capital of the North which supports, and it is the northern men who concoct and execute the filibustering expeditions which have brought discredit on the slaveholding States. In the large cities people are corrupted by itinerant and ignorant lecturers — in the towns and in the country by an unprincipled press. The populations, indeed, know how to read and write, but they don't know how to think, and they are the easy victims of the wretched impostors on all the “ologies and ” isms who swarm over the region, and subsist by lecturing on subjects which the innate vices of mankind induce them to accept with eagerness, while they assume the garb of philosophical abstractions to cover their nastiness in deference to a contemptible and universal hypocrisy.
Who fills the butchers' shops with largo blue flies! Assuredly the New England demon, who has been persecuting the South till its intolerable cruelty and insolence forced her, in a spasm of agony, to rend her chains asunder. The New Englander must have something to persecute, and as he has hunted down all his Indians, burnt all his witches, and persecuted all his opponents to the death, he invented abolitionism as the sole resource left to him for the gratification of his favorite passion. Next to this motive principle is his desire to make money dishonestly, trickily, meanly, and shabbily. He has acted on it in all his relations with the South, and has cheated and plundered her in all his dealings by villanous tariffs. If one objects that the South must have been a party to this, because her boast is that her statesmen have ruled the Government of the country, you are told that the South yielded out of pure good-nature. Now, however, she will have free trade, and will open the coasting trade to foreign nations, and shut out from it the hated Yankees, who so long monopolized and made their fortunes by it. Under all the varied burdens and miseries to which she was subjected, the South held fact to her sheet anchor. South Carolina was the mooring ground in which it found the surest hold. The doctrine of State rights was her salvation, and the fiercer the storm raged against her — the more stoutly damagogy, immigrant preponderance, and the blasts of universal suffrage bore down on her, threatening to sweep away the vested interests of the South in her right to govern the States--the greater was her confidence, and the more resolutely she held on her cable. The North attracted “hordes of ignorant Germans and Irish,” and the scum of Europe, while the South repelled them. The industry, the capital of the North increased with enormous rapidity, under the influence of cheap labor and manufacturing ingenuity and enterprise, in the villages which swelled into towns, and the towns which became cities under the unenvious eye of the South. She, on the contrary, toiled on slowly, clearing forests and draining swamps to find new cotton grounds and rice-fields, for the employment of her own industry and for the development of her only capital--“involuntory labor.” The tide of immigration waxed stronger, and by degrees she saw the districts into which she claimed the right to introduce this capital closed against her, and occupied by free labor. The doctrine of “squatter sovereignty,” and the force of hostile tariffs, which placed a heavy duty on the very articles which the South most required, completed the measure of injuries to which she was subjected, and the spirit of discontent found vent in fiery debate, in personal insults, and in acrimonious speaking and writing, which increased in intensity in proportion as the abolition movement, and the contest between the federal principle and State rights, became more vehement. I am desirous of showing in a few words, for the information of English readers, how it is that the confederacy which Europe knew simply as a political entity has succeeded in dividing itself. The slave States held the doctrine, or say they did, that each State was independent as France or as England, but that for certain purposes they chose a common agent to deal with foreign nations, and to impose taxes for the purpose of paying the expenses of the agency. We, it appears, talked of American citizens when there were no such beings at all. There were, indeed, citizens of the sovereign State of South Carolina, or of Georgia or Florida, who permitted themselves to pass under that designation, but it was merely a matter of personal convenience. It will be difficult for Europeans to understand this doctrine, as nothing like it has been heard before, and no such confederation of sovereign States has ever existed in any country in the world. The northern men deny that it existed here, and claim for the Federal Government powers not compatible with such assumptions. They have lived for the Union, they served it, they labored for and made money by it. A man as a New York man was nothing — as an American citizen he was a great deal. A South Carolinian objected to lose his identity in any description which included him and a “Yankee clock-maker” in the same category. The Union was against him; he remembered that he came from a race of English gentlemen who had been persecuted by the representatives — for he will not call them the ancestors — of the Puritans of New England, and he thought that they were animated by the same hostility to himself. He was proud of old names, and ho felt pleasure in tracing his connection with old families in the old country. His plantations were held by old charters, or had been in the hands of his fathers for several generations; and he delighted to remember that, when the Stuarts were banished from their throne and their country, the burgesses of South Carolina had solemnly elected the wandering Charles king of their state, and had offered him an asylum and a kingdom. The philosophical historian may exercise his ingenuity in conjecturing what would have been the result if the fugitive had carried his fortunes to Charleston. South Carolina contains 34,000 square miles and a population of 720,000 inhabitants, of whom 385,000 are black slaves. In the old rebellion it was distracted between revolutionary principles and the loyalist predilections, and at least one-half of the planters were faithful to George III., nor did they yield till Washington sent an army to support their antagonists and drove them from the colony. In my next letter I shall give a brief account of a visit to some of the planters, as far as it can be made consistent with the obligations which the rites of hospitality impose on the guest as well as upon the host. These gentlemen are well-bred, courteous, and hospitable. A genuine aristocracy, they have time to cultivate their minds, to apply themselves to politics  and the guidance of public affairs. They travel and read, love field sports, racing, shooting, hunting, and fishing, are bold horsemen, and good shots. But, after all, their state is a modern Sparta — an aristocracy resting on a helotry, and with nothing else to rest upon. Although they profess (and I believe, indeed, sincerely) to hold opinions in opposition to the opening of the slave trade, it is nevertheless true that the clause in the Constitution of the Confederate States which prohibited the importation of negroes, was especially and energetically resisted by them, because, as they say, it seemed to be an admission that slavery was in itself an evil and a wrong. Their whole system rests on slavery, and as such they defend it. They entertain very exaggerated ideas of the military strength of their little community, although one may do full justice to its military spirit. Out of their whole population they cannot reckon more than 60,000 adult men by any arithmetic, and as there are nearly 30,000 plantations, which must be, according to law, superintended by white men, a considerable number of these adults cannot be spared from the state for service in the open field. The planters boast that they can raise their corps without any inconvenience by the labor of their negroes, and they seem confident that the negroes will work without superintendence. But the experiment is rather dangerous, and it will only be tried in the last extremity.
Savannah, Ga., May 1.It is said that “fools build houses for wise men to live in.” Be that true or not, it is certain that “Uncle Sam” has built strong places for his enemies to occupy. To-day I visited Fort Pulaski, which defends the mouth of the Savannah River and the approaches to the city. It was left to take care of itself, and the Georgians quietly stepped into it, and have been busied in completing its defences, so that it is now capable of stopping a fleet very effectually. Pulaski was a Pole who fell in the defence of Savannah against the British, and whose memory is perpetuated in the name of the fort, which is now under the Confederate flag, and garrisoned by bitter foes of the United States. Among our party were Commodore Tatnall, whose name will be familiar to English ears in connection with the attack on the Peiho Forts, where the gallant American showed the world that “blood was thicker than water;” Brigadier-General Lawton, in command of the forces of Georgia, and a number of naval and military officers, of whom many had belonged to the United States regular service. It was strange to look at such a man as the Commodore, who for forty-nine long years had served under the Stars and Stripes, quietly preparing to meet his old comrades and friends, if needs be, in the battle-field — his allegiance to the country and to the flag renounced, his long service flung away, his old ties and connections severed — and all this in defence of the sacred right of rebellion on the part of “his State.” He is not now, nor has he been for years, a slave-owner; all his family and familiar associations connect him with the North. There are no naval stations on the Southern coasts, except one at Pensacola, and he knows almost no one in the South. He has no fortune whatever, his fleet consists of two small river or coasting steamers, without guns, and as he said, in talking over the resources of the South, “My bones will be bleached many a long year before the Confederate States can hope to have a navy.” “State rights!” To us the question is simply inexplicable or absurd. And yet thousands of Americans sacrifice all for it. The river at Savannah is broad as the Thames at Gravesend, and resembles that stream very much in the color of its waters and the level nature of its shores. Rice-fields bound it on either side, as far down as the influence of the fresh water extends, and the eye wanders over a flat expanse of mud and water, and green osiers and rushes, till its search is arrested on the horizon by the unfailing line of forest. In the fields here and there are the white-washed square wooden huts in which the slaves dwell, looking very like the beginnings of the camp in the Crimea. At one point a small fort, covering a creek by which gun-boats could get up behind Savannah, displayed its “garrison” on the walls, and lowered its flag to salute the small blue ensign at the fore which proclaimed the presence of the Commodore of the Naval Forces of Georgia on board our steamer. The guns on the parapet were mostly field-pieces mounted on frameworks of wood instead of regular carriages. There is no mistake about the spirit of these people. They seize upon every spot of vantage ground and prepare it for defence. There were very few ships in the river; the yacht Camilla, better known as the America, the property of Captain Deasy, and several others of those few sailing under British colors, for most of the cotton ships are gone. After steaming down the river about twelve miles, the sea opened out to the sight, and on a long, marshy, narrow island near the bar, which was marked by the yellowish surf, Fort Pulaski threw out the Confederate flag to the air of the Georgian 1st of May. The water was too shallow to permit the steamer to go up to the jetty, and the party landed at the wharf in boats. A guard was on duty at the landing — tall, stout young fellows, in various uniforms, or in rude mufti, in which the Garibaldian red shirt and felt slouched hats predominated. They were armed with smooth-bore muskets (date 1851), quite new, and their bayonets, barrels, and locks were bright and clean. The officer on duty was dressed in the blue frock-coat dear to the British linesman in days gone by, with brass buttons, emblazoned with the arms, of the State, a red silk sash, and glazed kepi, and straw-colored gauntlets. Several wooden huts, with flower gardens in  front, were occupied by the officers of the garrison; others were used as hospitals, and were full of men suffering from measles of a mild type. A few minutes' walk led us to the fort, which is an irregular pentagon, with the base line or curtain face inlands, and the other faces casemated and bearing on the approaches. The curtain, which is simply crenellated, is covered by a Redan surrounded by a deep ditch, inside the parapet of which are granite platforms ready for the reception of guns. The parapet is thick, and the scarp and counterscarp are faced with solid masonry. A drawbridge affords access to the interior of the Redan, whence the gate of the fort is approached across a deep and broad moat, which is crossed by another drawbridge. As the Commodore entered the Redan, the guns of the fort broke out into a long salute, and the band at the gate struck up almost as lively a welcome. Inside the parade presented a scene of life and animation very unlike the silence of the city we had left. Men were busy clearing out the casemates, rolling away stores and casks of ammunition and provisions, others were at work at the gin and shears, others building sand-bag traverses to guard the magazine doors, as though expecting an immediate attack. Many officers were strolling under the shade of the open gallery at the side of the curtain which contained their quarters in the lofty bomb-proof casemates. Some of them had seen service in Mexican or border warfare; some had travelled over Italian and Crimean battle-fields; others were West Point graduates of the regular army; others young planters, clerks, or civilians who had rushed with ardor into the first Georgian Regiment. The garrison of the fort is 650 men, and fully that number were in and about the work, their tents being pitched inside the Redan or on the terreplein of the parapets. The walls are exceedingly solid and well built of hard gray brick, strong as iron, upwards of six feet in thickness, the casemates and bomb-proofs being lofty, airy, and capacious as any I have ever seen, though there is not quite depth enough between the walls at the salient and the gun-carriages. The work is intended for 128 guns, of which about one-fourth are mounted on the casemates. They are long 32's with a few 42's and columbiads. The armaments will be exceedingly heavy when all the guns are mounted, and they are fast getting the 10-inch columbiads into position en barbette. Every thing which could be required, except mortars, was in abundance — the platforms and gun-carriages are solid and well made, the embrasures of the casemates are admirably constructed, and the ventilation of the bomb-proof carefully provided for. There are three furnaces for heating red-hot shot. Nor is discipline neglected, and the officers with whom I went round the works were as sharp in tone and manner to their men as Volunteers well could be, though the latter are enlisted for only three years by the State of Georgia. An excellent lunch was spread in the casemated bomb-proof, which served as the Colonel's quarter, and before sunset the party were steaming towards Savannah through a tideway full of leaping sturgeon and porpoises, leaving the garrison intent oh the approach of a large ship, which had her sails aback off the bar and hoisted the Stars and Stripes, but which turned out to be nothing more formidable than a Liverpool cotton ship. It will take some hard blows before Georgia is driven to let go her grip of Fort Pulaski. The channel is very narrow and passes close to the guns of the fort. The means of completing the armament have been furnished by the stores of Norfolk Navy Yard, where between 700 and 800 guns have fallen into the hands of the Confederates; and, if there are no columbiads among them, the Merrimac and other ships, which have been raised, as we hear, with guns uninjured, will yield up their Dahlgrens to turn their muzzles against their old masters. May 2.--May day was so well kept yesterday that the exhausted editors cannot “bring out” their papers, and consequently there is no news; but there is, nevertheless, much to be said concerning “Our President's” Message, and there is a suddenness of admiration for pacific tendencies which can with difficulty be accounted for, unless the news from the North these last few days has something to do with it. Not a word now about an instant march on Washington! no more threats to seize on Faneuil Hall! The Georgians are by no means so keen as the Carolinians on their border — nay, they are not so belligerent to-day as they were a week ago. Mr. Jefferson Davis's Message is praised for its “moderation,” and for other qualities which were by no means in such favor while the Sumter fever was at its height. Men look grave, and talk about the interference of England and France, which “cannot allow this thing to go on.” But the change which has come over them is unmistakable, and the best men begin to look grave. As for me, I must prepare to open my lines of retreat — my communications are in danger.